After a successful developer preview debut last fall, Microsoft has unveiled the consumer preview of its newest operating system today at this the Barcelona Mobile Conference. Expectations are high after Microsoft surprised the developer crowd that had come to expect nothing special from Microsoft since the company failed to impress with Vista, or really any Windows product since 95. But the techies liked 8, with its redefined start menu and ability to run on both tablets and computers. Now the OS is ready for the masses on Microsoft's site. Here's what to expect.
An operating system for every gadget. Windows 8 will work on tablets, phones and regular old computers. "We all face some yearning. We choose between productivity and consumption. A tablet or a laptop? A touch interface or a tablet and a mouse?" Windows President Steven Sinofsky said at the conference. Windows 8 will provide what Sinofsky calls a "no compromise experience." Not only does that mean it works on all sorts of different platforms, but Microsoft 8 connects these devices, using a Microsoft account that will transfer settings from one device to the next.
The start menu will look funny. Microsoft has decided to change its defining feature, creating "tiles" (see above) instead of the traditional start menu. The new menu shows apps as tiles laid out in a grid, more like the Metro interface first introduced on Windows Phone. And there is no start button. No more ctrl-alt-delete, I can just hit enter, which is nice.