The blogosphere is buzzing this week about slides posted on Italian Windows blog Windows 7 that purportedly come from a presentation Microsoft gave to PC makers on the next iteration of its operating system.
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the leaked Windows 8 slides really are what they appear to be. Microsoft has declined to comment, but there are an impressive number of slides, they look legitimate, and can you imagine the work that went into them? Someone had to get paid for that.
Even if they are the real deal, though, the slides offer up fairly broad ideas rather than specifics. Dated April 20, they each carry the disclaimer: “Windows 8 discussion, this is not a plan of record.” But there are a lot of interesting tidbits in there, including a major focus on Apple and the success of its mobile devices.
A slide entitled “How Apple does it: A virtuous cycle” notes that when consumers look at an Apple product, they think, “high-quality, uncomplicated, and ‘It just works.’” Apple focuses on developing user interfaces that help people realize value, says the slide, which in turn leads to product satisfaction and brand loyalty. “This is something people will pay for!” announces the document. If it is real, that slide certainly wasn’t intended for public consumption.
And Apple’s much lauded App Store is also obviously on a lot of minds in Redmond right now. So much so, that Microsoft appears to be planning a Windows Store, where consumers can “easily discover relevant and trustworthy applications.” For Microsoft, the app store would be revenue neutral, according to a slide, though it would offer a “delightful end-user experience.”
A slide titled “Recap of Forum 1 Feedback,” suggests that PC makers will have some degree of control over how and what gets offered in the Windows Store.
And lest anyone think Microsoft wasn’t sensing earlier this year that the iPad was going to be a big hit , there are more than a few mentions of tablets. The “explosion of form factors” is listed as a trend shaping the development of Windows 8, as “new innovations are emerging in form factors that will power new and unique consumer experiences.” One slide lists the slate as one of Microsoft’s three target form factor centers of gravity, along with the laptop and “all-in-one” device.
And you know the way an iPhone or iPad starts up instantly? Microsoft has noticed.
“Windows 8 PCs turn on fast, nearly instantly in some cases, and are ready to work without any long or unexpected delays,” proposes another slide. “When customers want to check e-mail, sports scores, or play media, they love to reach for their PCs because they can get what they want quickly.”
Quicker startup is listed as one of the primary areas of focus in Windows 8 planning. The aim, according to the documents, is to provide users with an appliance-like look and feel to startup, and “to leverage fast, low-power Standby/Sleep states wherever possible.” When you put together enough small enhancements, notes Microsoft, they can result in a big cumulative impact.
The company is also considering a new Logoff + Hibernate state that looks like shutdown/startup but is much faster. There is debate about how to label it, though. “Called 'Shutdown,' 'Turn Off,' 'Power Down,' or something else?” asks one slide.
What else is Microsoft thinking about for Windows 8? Facial recognition. Camera recognition, claims one slide, will likely be ubiquitous by 2012. With facial recognition, Windows 8 could let users log in by sitting down in front of their webcam.Also worth noting is Microsoft’s recognition of the collision of enterprise and personal usage of technology, which of course has a lot to do with the focus on what Apple has been doing right. “We will help customers have a seamless experience across their personal and professional lives,” says a slide.