Just as you were getting comfortable with Windows 7, it looks like Windows 8 is coming in the next two years. In a post celebrating the one-year anniversary of Windows 7 -- the fastest selling OS in history -- Microsoft's Dutch Web site briefly mentioned the construction and release of its successor:
"Microsoft is on course for the next version of Windows. But it will take about two years before 'Windows 8' on the market." Winrumors.com grabbed and translated the post, and CNET took a screenshot of the text, which unsurprisingly disappeared shortly after the news stole headlines. Now Microsoft is back to being tight-lipped about Windows 8 and its expected release.
Reports from last year suggested Microsoft was building a 128-bit version of its OS, which could very likely be Windows 8. More recently, NetworkWorld acquired more than 15 confidential slide decks detailing possible additions, including body-sensing features similar to the Xbox Kinect, a desktop app store like Apple's forthcoming Mac App Store, near-instant CPU booting, and a focus on powering tablets.
But most importantly, by the time Windows 8 supposedly drops, Microsoft is going to have Apple's latest OS to contend with. Apple just gave a sneak peek of Mac OS X Lion -- called a marriage of OS X and Apple's mobile iOS -- that includes some drool-inducing features like a desktop app store, advanced multitouch gestures, and more.
If Microsoft acts wisely, it stands a chance to emulate -- and perhaps one-up -- all of OS X Lion's key features ... or it could rush and produce another Vista.
Microsoft is at work on its new operating system, Windows 8, which will reportedly be released in 2012. Leaks continue to focus on the project, including that it will be a 128-bit version of Windows with facial recognition software.
Windows 8 will also reportedly offer a software license that follows you across devices and Windows apps, with shortened boot time. Enhanced security would include a reset option without killing personalized settings and files.
While all that sounds great for 2012, what about the 240 million Windows 7 licenses that have been sold worldwide?
Chances are that you will need new equipment to take advantage of Windows 8 because the bells and whistles are going to need serious memory and processors. But is the world ready to invest that much in new desktops, especially when so many have already called for the demise of the desktop PC?
While Steve Jobs says the PC is dead, the reality is that desktops are more cost-effective, more dependable, and less trouble than mobile devices for IT managers. Employees are used to them, trust them, and are comfortable with them. While the image of the Borg Queen may tickle some people's fancy, most people don't want to be holding or wearing every device they need for work.
Nonetheless, the mobile market has overtaken the desktop market in innovation. And rumors abound that Microsoft is attempting to wrench some of the innovation away from Apple, which revolutionized mobile devices with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod.
But can Microsoft offer something for the desktop PC, its bread and butter for the last decade, as well as for mobile devices? And will Microsoft build a computer tablet that finally works on a mobile platform?
Perhaps what we should be more excited about is a new Windows Mobile 8 that would run on tablets and smartphones--and better yet, play nicer with the new Windows 8. While it will have some of the niceties of Windows 7, Windows 8 should be able to integrate both mobile and desktop platforms and share or sync documents with the click of a mouse. Microsoft has almost done it with Office 365, which offers a single sign-in for multiple applications as well as mobile access to documents and e-mail.
What businesses need is for Microsoft to make Windows 8 easier and cheaper to manage all of their devices. While facial recognition software and touchscreen tablets sound cool, most business owners want a simple way to keep their machines and networks safe, but also want to be connected to everything. While that may seem contradictory, it doesn't stop the consumer from wanting it.