In a three and a half minute video, Microsoft may have shown the world what it has in store for the eagerly awaited Windows 8. In the video Microsoft showed a radically different interface from past versions of Windows -- even Windows 7.
Running on Surface 2, the touch-screen successor to the original Microsoft Surface, the device accepts input from a Windows Phone 7 handset (HTC HD7).
Gone are the icons that drive Windows, OS X, and Linux operating systems of past and present. In their place are "bubbles" that interacted with files and post streaming information off the internet.
Bubbles are auto-generated in various categories (personal, entertainment, gaming, etc.) and can also be created by a user. Clicking on a bubble brings up a program or interaction item. For example clicking on a bubble for an upcoming flight will display alternate flight times with weather-based probability for delays. Users could use the interface to switch their flight, should the desire.
It's hard to say whether the new interface will indeed be bundled with Windows 8. That would perhaps offer an explanation of why Ballmer calls Windows 8 his company's most "risky" upcoming product.
Microsoft has already gambled big with its mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7. Unlike Android (Google) and iOS (Apple) who use chiclet grids of apps (in Android's case with widgets tossed in the mix), WP7 offers a radically different design based on colorful animated tiles. That design attracted Nokia to embrace WP7, essentially slotting it to become the #2 mobile operating system in the world, overnight.
With Apple looking to make its next version of OS X, Lion, greatly reinvented and more "iOS-like", Microsoft might be trying a bit of the same. Whether the new interface shows up in Windows 8, or Windows 9, perhaps, it appears like it will dramatically alter the way we interact with our desktops and laptops.
It would definitely be "risky" to place the shown UI in Windows 8; as such an interface would take a major adjustment from users and would bring certain new hardware requirements to the table (for all its fancy animations). But the upside is that it looked extremely innovative and could allow users to gain access to the information they want most, much faster than they can currently in Windows 7.
Mr. Mundie also showed off [video] an Image Based 3D viewing client similar to Photosynth, running on Windows Phone 7. He also showed off key features of the current Microsoft Surface, such as its pack of fun physics-based touch apps and its ability to scan in photos. He also showed new photo-realistic avatars.