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New Windows 8 Leaks Show Focus on Tablets

Everything to everybody -- that's what Windows just about has to be. Or, at least, that's the way Microsoft sees its flagship operating system. But if information that's leaking about the forthcoming Windows 8 is any indication, the "everybody" Microsoft is trying to attract now is more likely to use a tablet than a PC. Unfortunately, the software monolith would still like for users to employ the same OS on both types of devices.

We've already said here that Windows 8 looks like a great OS for tablets but doesn't seem so hot for PCs. New details leaked about the OS seem to reinforce that take. Windows 8 will evidently include a virtual keyboard (one that works by touch, not by mouse clicks as the current Windows virtual keyboard does), as well as SMS support. Could the OS be more tablet-focused?

Actually, yes, it could. There might be an app store included in the forthcoming software, and there might also be something along the lines of per-feature licensing, which would let users buy a scaled-down version of Windows 8 and then pay for features as they want or need to use them. You know, sort of like...paying for apps on a mobile device (or tablet). Interesting model. Wonder if it'll work. (Just kidding.)

In a different twist, Redmond magazine columnist Mary Jo Foley is reporting that Windows 8 will ship with a hypervisor for virtualization. While that sounds like a great idea, we're starting to wonder again whether Microsoft is going to bloat this thing out of being useful on a tablet. It all depends on the architecture, we suppose, but light works better for tablets than feature-rich (remember that old software descriptor?), and having a virtual keyboard with SMS support and hypervisor in the same OS starts to sound like a bit of overload. Maybe not -- we'll see how Microsoft handles all this.

Regardless, we're sticking by our view that Windows 8 should be a tablet offering and not a PC offering -- and that the OS that runs on tablets shouldn't try to have all the bloat an OS for PCs has to have. Like Windows Phone 7 Mango, Windows 8 does have the potential to be a fantastic OS for mobile devices, specifically tablets. It's up to Microsoft, though, to not think of Windows as a monolithic OS that can fully support a number of form factors. Microsoft should keep Windows 8 light for tablets, and we'll keep using Windows 7 (and XP) on PCs.  Unfortunately, though, it doesn't look as though Microsoft is going in that direction.

Posted by Lee Pender on June 20, 2011 at 11:57 AM