(This article is a re-post from the Telerik Watch blog by Todd Anglin)
By now, you've no doubt seen the first preview of Microsoft's follow-up to the hit Windows 7 release (if not, take five minutes and check-out the video on YouTube - don't worry, it's "official" and not a leak). Windows 8 finally has a name and a face, and we finally have a (public) glimpse of where Microsoft is driving the modern OS experience. The preview does not dive deep or provide the full story for Windows 8 (expect more details as Microsoft marches towards the September Windows 8 "BUILD" conference), but it does highlight some interesting facets of Microsoft's plan you should start to think about as a developer.
For in-depth analysis of the the live D9 Windows 8 preview, and analysis of the follow-up preview in the aforementioned YouTube video, Windows "super fan" Paul Thurott has your ticket. Microsoft RD and long-time Microsoft insider Andrew Brust also has some interesting commentary on RDN. I'll leave the reporting to the reporters, and simply highlight some of the bigger revelations to come out of this week's news so we're all on the same page:
Understandably, a lot of people are very excited by this week's Windows 8 preview. What's being shown is very new (for Windows), and uncharacteristically bold for Microsoft. It's amazing how many people seemed to need this preview to avoid full-out Microsoft depression.
It's important to remember, however, that this is not the first of Windows 8 we've seen. Active industry watchers have been leaking bits-and-pieces of Windows 8 for the better part of the the last year (much to Microsoft's displeasure). From those leaks and other information shared by Microsoft in that period, we also know this about Windows 8:
Those last two items are small, but important. Mounting ISOs or using Explorer are features that only matter when you're still using "traditional" Windows. The new "Start experience" getting the attention this week is cool, sure, but Microsoft is not forgetting, abandoning, or even stalling "traditional" Windows evolution. This is still Windows at the end of the day, the OS powering millions of business machines, and that core experience will continue to incrementally improve with Win8.
What Microsoft is showing now is a recognition that it needs to do something dramatic to re-win the hearts and minds of Windows consumers. It needs something to stem the flood of computing happening increasingly on non-Windows devices. It's an important piece of Window's future, but not the only piece.
What many observers are failing to key-in on with these Windows 8 details is that this is the first time, in a long time, that Microsoft is evolving Windows without the anti-trust consent decree settlement hanging over their heads. In 2002, to avoid splitting the company, Microsoft settled it's long anti-trust battle with the government, agreeing to a number of constraints that have limited Window's ability to evolve aggressively. Those limits expired last month, so now Microsoft, in a landscape where Windows is clearly no longer a monopoly, is freer to make some aggressive moves.
Well, the limits imposed in 2002 essentially said that Microsoft could not exclude competitors from Windows, and conversely, that it must make Windows interoperate with non-Microsoft software. The net effect has been that it is difficult for Microsoft to build vertically integrated solutions because doing so could be perceived as excluding competitors.
With that regulation now a footnote in the history books, Microsoft can theoretically pursue vertically integrated strategies that have made rivals Apple and (to a lesser degree) Google very successful over the last 10 years. For example:
Whatever the case, Microsoft is finally free to boldly create experiences that are "better with Microsoft" rather than always creating vanilla solutions designed to support everyone equally.
With the hype stripped away, and the full perspective in focus, what is the bottom line impact of the Windows 8 news up to this point? What is the real value in this week's very early preview? I think there are a few important takeaways:
Don't get lost in the emotional buzz of this week's preview. Enjoy it for what it is- an early preview- but then turn to level-heads and facts to see how this all fits the bigger picture. As long-time Microsoft partners, and experts in providing solutions for Microsoft developers, you can be sure Telerik is at the front of the Windows 8 process and you can turn to us to provide our informed analysis of Microsoft's directions.
Until then, have fun with the Windows 8 preview and start planning your travel for Anaheim in September!
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