Microsoft took the wraps off Windows 8 in New York today, and spent plenty of time explaining the new variations, the Windows Store and how tablets fit into the mix.
Windows president Steven Sinofsky introduced the event by paying homage to Windows 7, and revealed that some 670 million Windows 7 licenses have gone out to consumers and businesses since launch, with half of all enterprises having now deployed the OS.
Sinofsky said that computing has moved quickly on from a time – not so long ago – with no Internet and CRT monitors to an era where ‘we’re connected all the time’ and where work and play are ‘entwined’.
“We reimagined Windows 8 computing for the next billion people. It is such a bold release, because so many rely on Windows in so many ways and we’re extremely humbled by that. So it is today with great pride that we unveil the next generation of Windows."
But what with Windows 8 being so different, Microsoft was keen not to scare off potential upgraders. Indeed, Sinofsky remarked on more than one occasion that this latest iteration of Windows builds ‘on the foundation’ of Windows 7, even if the new version is cross platform (for desktops and tablets), 36% faster (in terms of boot time) and 30% better on battery life.
Sinofsky explained that the Windows 8 launch essentially centred on three announcements; the ability to upgrade to Windows 8 (in store or download), the ‘grand opening’ of the Windows Store and Windows RT, the ARM-powered version of Windows 8.
Before handing over, Sinofsky talked about how the Microsoft Store brought about a ‘reimagined set of tools’ for developers to launch applications and stressed that, far from struggling for developer interest, developers are ‘adding hundreds of apps everyday with that rate increasing every day’.
The Windows president found time for a brief explanation into what Windows RT entails, and most notably touched upon that this version brings about good battery life and slim tablets. It was also noted that only Windows Store apps will run on this new version (i.e. not traditional Microsoft apps).
Stepping to one side, Sinofsky made way for Mike Angiulo, Microsoft's corporate VP of Windows Planning, Hardware and PC Ecosystem, and Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president of program management for the Windows Experience at Microsoft.
The duo turned the focus of the event towards product and software demos.
Such run-throughs saw the Microsoft execs play with apps like SkyDrive, Urban Spoon and Bing Travel, show the ease of browsing and prove how users can sign in from the Windows 8 home screen.
Image: Microsoft's Mike Angiulo shows off the ThinkPad 2
Hardware wasn’t left out of this demo time however, with Lenovo’s ThinkPad 2 tablet, Dell’s Envy x2, the XPS 10, Samsung’s AtivTab and the Asus Vivo Tab RT all getting some time in the sun, prior to a finale with Microsoft’s own Surface tablet. Lenovo’s Twist, a hybrid tablet/Ultrabook, was also on display.
Both Angiulo and Larson-Green extolled the specs of most these products, while also promoting their flexibility and battery life, before passing over to CEO Steve Ballmer, who took to the stage.
Ballmer, who spoke boldly earlier today about the Surface, could hardly contain his excitement.
“It really is an exciting day…yeah, I am excited.
“Windows shatters perceptions of what a PC is now, and we’ve truly reimagined the PC. This is a new era for Microsoft and its customers.”