[This article is contributed by our guest editor, Frank Yu who is a Social Media Strategist for Symbio.]
We sat down with Olav Nedrelid, Chief of Strategy at Symbio to informally geek out on the implications of the new Windows 8 operating system and the impact it will have in the business and consumer space. Much of this speculation is based on early previews by Microsoft on public websites as well as their own developer communications. Things may still change by the time of the release, but based on what we have read so far, here are some cool new things in Windows 8 and a reason for why it may be a revolutionary product for Microsoft and the whole technology eco-system.
Windows 8 is a complete redo of the stack. It has no .net framework; it supports it but, otherwise, is a totally new type of framework.
Window RT which takes on the role of what WIN32 does, but instead of being an API, its built to be integrated straight into the development environment. In other words, Windows 8 has been created so that the various levels work as an integrated unit as opposed to previous Windows which had legacy layers still embedded within even new versions of Windows.
Yes, the Metro UI looks great and it looks clean and modern, but as a developer, the new arrangement of the stack means a revolutionary change for Windows and performance.
So for the enduser, what are the benefits of Windows 8? We asked Olav.
Well, it is built for mobility which means it will help lower power consumption since background and processes are more streamlined and overhead is reduced. This means it is also faster and boots up faster. The code of Windows 8 has been designed so that the same code base can be used on mobile devices as well as PCs, meaning that we really are working with one code base with slight modifications for form factor for various devices. In the past, WIN CE looked like Windows in terms of UI but in terms of code and memory management it was a different animal. In Windows 8, users should have a seamless experience between desktop, mobile devices and even household products.
In terms of UI, Windows 8 has also been intended for touch interaction which means, other than mobile phones and tablets, we can see Windows 8 being used for embedded devices like automobile IVI’s, appliances and consumer electronics. Instead of having to learn a new UI for each of our devices, you just learn Windows 8 on your laptop. The experience then translates directly into using Windows Phone 8 (Apollo) on your smartphone.
Windows 8 has also been designed to work with the cloud in how it handles data that can be shared, not just with multiple devices of one owner, but with different applications in one device. For example, photography apps and filter apps can share images amongst each other directly, without having first save to a drive. If you do need to save, that data can be available via the cloud to other applications as well as remote access for other users with whom you want connect. In the future we may see SkyDrive, Xbox Live and Azure being integrated into both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 as seamless extensions of data storage.
With Windows 8, we are really starting to see Microsoft seriously migrating out of the desktop and onto the cloud, at least for data. Probably the biggest benefit of Windows 8 is that for developers, the jungle of APIs, UI’s and code bases has now been unified so we have core kernel and UI that can be ported to various devices easier and faster. More efficiency and less overhead means less CPU cycles, less heat and longer battery life. Most of all, for developers, it means less coding headaches for conflicts and kludges to get applications working smoothly.
Another big change in Windows 8 deals with the addition of Charms and Contracts which amplifies the portability of data and creates a layer, making sharing and coordination between different applications and users even easier. Think of it as a kind of XML for data, that enables it to be shared and transferred to various applications in a seamless integrated layer. Charms act as small applets on your sidebar that can allow you to exchange data with other applications and devices. The protocol and format that gets transmitted is one way to describe a contract, since it is an implicit authorization to send or receive data from other users, applications or even platforms.
As Windows 8 has the ability to tag and parse data types better, we can see the potential of automated computing with sensors being a whole new world of computation and real world use cases. Just think of all the ATMs out there and how they use different UI depending on the back and all the input screens of all our devices in our home, cars, office and schools. You can see the great potential of having a smooth and unified kernal code, UI and data portability in our everyday lives.
“In China, where the mobile web will be the primary internet access, this will have a large impact for end users and businesses.” Olav commented.