Windows 8: detailed plans leaked, show Microsoft cycle of invent, fail, copy

No doubt crisis meetings in Redmond as plans for Windows 8, shared apparently with OEM partners, leak to the web. Of course it may all be an elaborate hoax, and even if not, the slides all state:

Disclaimer – Windows 8 discussion, this is not a plan of record

Still, it looks plausible. So what’s new?

In some ways, Windows 7 was low-hanging fruit. Simply fix what was broken in Windows Vista, make Windows faster, more reliable and more pleasant to use. Windows 8 needs to take a step forward, and according to these slides this is what is planned:

1. Elevation of the Slate as a key form factor. The slides refer to three basic form factors: Slate for web and media consumption, laptop for productivity and all-in-one touch control desktop for both.

2. 3D content display along with “HTML 5 video” and DRM, focus on DLNA.

3. Instant On, always connected. Hang on, wasn’t this promised for 7? And Vista? The docs do refer to a “New Off state” called Logoff + Hibernate, with optimised hibernate plus a “Boot/Shutdown look and feel”. The idea is that this becomes the norm for a switch off.

4. Log on with face recognition. One of the few pieces of real innovation on offer here.

5. Proximity based sleep and wake.

6. Another go at the Windows App Store. This time Microsoft is serious. Approval process. Dashboard for developers with telemetry. Auto update. Software license roams with the user, as do settings – a great idea. Partner co-branding, ho hum.

7. Reinstall or “reset” Windows while keeping apps, docs and settings. A bit like the old repair install, though the difference here seems to be that this is a genuine wipe and reinstall, with apps reinstalled from the App Store. 

8. Windows accounts “could be connected to the cloud”. I would think they must be, if the app store stuff with roaming software licenses is to work. Hooking your Windows login to a Passport ID is not new though; I’m guessing it will just be more prominent and important.

Needless to say, this is not the whole Windows 8 story, even if genuine. What do we learn though? Mainly that Microsoft is taking its lead from Apple and accepts that the App Store concept is central to our future computing experience; the Slate also seems influenced by iPad.

We are also seeing the return of Passport. Most of what was in the controversial .NET My Services from 2001 is now accepted as normal, after Google and Facebook have softened us up for the concepts.

There’s a pattern here. Microsoft gets bright idea – Tablet, Windows Marketplace, Passport. Does half-baked implementation which flops. Apple or Google works out how to do it right. Microsoft copies them.

When do we get Windows 8? You can try and puzzle out the slide on “Windows 8 product cycle” if you like; but I’d bet that it will be around three years from the release of Windows 7: mid to late 2012.

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