AMSTERDAM: Windows 8 will catapult Microsoft to a world where battery-powered devices such as tablets will be the norm, according to the firm, which also predicted that tablets will begin to outsell PCs from next year.
Speaking at the Tech Ed Europe event in Amsterdam, Microsoft corporate vice president for Web Services, Antoine Leblond said that Windows 8 was designed for a new world of mobile devices with touch-screens and wireless connectivity.
“Over 60 per cent of PCs are now laptops. Next year, tablets will outsell PCs for the first time – we’re moving to a world where things are powered by batteries, and that is why Windows had to change,” Leblond said.
However, he also reassured existing users, that “it’s still Windows,” but added that Windows 8 will be, “a better Windows than Windows 7,”.
Leblond said that Windows 7 was “rooted in the last time that Windows underwent a major change,” tracing that back to Windows 95.
Since then, technology has moved on and the vast majority of smartphones and tablets are now touch-enabled, as well as having always-on wireless connectivity, and this is the future direction of Windows PCs, he explained.
“Touch is coming to PCs, and it will change user interfaces the same way that the mouse did. Wireless is also everywhere, and so we had to consider how that affects the way we design software,” said Leblond.
During the same keynote, group programme manager Joe Stegman showed off some of the enterprise features of the upcoming platform, including improved virtualisation, remote screen support and the Windows To Go capability.
Hyper-V Manager, a new feature of Windows 8, makes it easy even for ordinary users to create and spin up a virtual machine, Stegman said.
Windows 8 can also directly mount a virtual hard disk (VHD) image, allowing an engineer to boot the system from it and run that instance on the physical hardware.
Stegman also demonstrated the Windows To Go feature, which lets users create a Windows 8 environment that can run from a USB Flash drive.
Booting a PC from a 32GB memory stick, Stegman showed how Windows To Go completely isolated the Windows 8 instance from the operating system already on the computer, and how it will tolerate the memory stick being accidentally removed while it is running.
“If the USB is pulled out, you’ve got 60 seconds to re-insert it, and Windows just carries on from where it left off,” he said, demonstrating this as he spoke.
Stegman also showed how Microsoft’s RemoteFX remote screen protocol supports touch in Windows 8, allowing for virtual desktop scenarios where gestures are passed through from the endpoint device to the remote host.
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