back to article Microsoft unveils Windows Phone 7 8

Microsoft has joined Hewlett-Packard in trying to drum up enthusiasm for their Apple-battling tablet operating systems at a fashionable West Coast tech event. On Wednesday, Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft Windows and Windows Live group president, previewed the long-awaited Windows 8 operating system at All Things D's D9 conference …


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  1. mraak

    O. M. G.

    One of the few good things about Windows was that even if it worked like crap, at least it was a familiar crap, so you could eventually find your way out of the maze after 1000 tries. Now they are making a new crap that's going to be unfamiliar to users. I wonder how their interface for setting the env vars will look on this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, why dont we

      wait and actually try the damn thing before slating it.

      I really thought WP7 was a pile of shite until i tried it for a few weeks and now im converted

      If Windows 8 is compatible with all windows 7 programs and available to non-touch servers etc then i would expect that there is some uniformality between them, if they pull it off it will be a gold mine for marketing, having one single look OS across several platforms is exactly what "Jo dont give a damn as long at works Blogs" is looking for, all i ask is they dont dumb it down, hide the techy parts in a special folder if you must but just leave them in!

    2. bazza Silver badge

      @mraak Gnome 3? iOS?

      It's worth mentioning that neither of these paid much attention to Gnome 2 or OSX. For the former that's quite important - how many linux tablets are there in comparison to the number of actively used linux desktops? Not many. For the latter it seems unimportant; Macs are still Mac OSX. But if Apple decide that, actually, people should use Macbooks and iMacs iOS way too (and really the desktop metaphor has been one big horrible mistake that's costing Steve Job's some money, and who's stupid idea was it anyway?) there may be similar gnashing of teeth. [But not too much because fanbois are fawning, cult crazed pillocks for whom St Jobs can do no wrong. Ooops, did that come out aloud?].

      The thing that worries me is that desktop machines may be deprived of the 'desktop metaphor'. Imagine if iOS's 'tablet metaphor' became dominant. How would we look at two applications' windows at once?

      There seems to be an unseemly rush for tablet friendliness in operating systems. Presumably MS, Apple and Gnome are chasing commercial success / popularity (delete as appropriate), for suddenly tablets are where it's at for some reason or other. But those of us who actually have to use computers for work may be cut out of it. Boo and hiss. For instance, imagine trying to use a CAD package to make up a drawing from a sketch in a customer's email if you can't place the CAD applications' window next to the email's window?

      Tablet friendliness in OSes is an indicator of general trend in computing that should be becoming quite worrying for a wide range of professionals. Undoubtedly the commercial drive is towards battery powered small portable devices. Apple really has made billions out of that market, and everyone wants a major slice of that pie. Apple's commercial success is a very powerful indicator that the majority of people are reasonably happy with a machine that browses, emails, can do iPlayer (there's an app for that...) and YouTube and not a lot else. Most corporate users can get by quite happily with a tiny little ol' PC just about capable of running Office.

      But there are many professions out there that require a decent amount of computing grunt and a couple of large screens. For example, DVD compilers, graphic artists, large scale application developers, scientists and engineers, CAD, etc. etc. Gamers count too in my arguement. Trouble is, whilst there's plenty of diverse professions requiring computing grunt, there's not that many professionals doing them. They don't represent a significant portion of the overall purchasing population, so they don't figure highly in the strategic planning of corporations like Apple, MS, Intel, AMD.

      So what do we see? ARM suddenly threating to take over the world; tabletiness creeping into OSes; R&D money being spent on battery powered devices with small screens and no keyboards; high prices for machines (especially laptops) that have decent screens and high performance.

      I've no idea how far the trend away from cheap high performance computing will go. To a large extent the market for high performance desktop users is heavily subsidised by the massive server market. Intel and AMD have to produce high performance chips for servers, so it's not very expensive to spin those out for the desktop users too. But Intel and AMD may wind up losing a big share of the server market to ARM as well; it's a distinct possibility. That would drive the prices for big powerful chips right up, and certainly dull AMD and Intel's enthusiasm for spending billions of dollars on developing better ones.

      All this could make life much more expensive and under resourced for the high performance desktop user. I'm not looking forward to it!

      Just in case anyone thinks that it will never come to this, think again. Commercial pressures do mean that these large companies are not at all charitable when it comes to niche (but still largish) market segments. If Intel/AMD/whoever decides at some distant point in the future that there's only a couple of billion in revenue to be made from designing a new 16 core 5 GHz chip but tens of billions from 2 core 1 GHz chips running at 0.05W, they will make the latter. They wouldn't be able to justify making the faster chip to their shareholders. Worse than that, they'd likely get sued by their shareholders if they chose otherwise. The question then would be will they still manufacture their fastest design just for the sake of the niche high performance market? Maybe, but it's not guaranteed, and it likely wouldn't come cheap.

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      Hopefully that's the tablet mode

      I expect Windows 8 will have a tablet mode and a desktop mode. The desktop mode probably won't look too different from Windows 7. The tablet mode will probably be similar to WP7 but scaled up for account for the real estate. Probably you could flip between the two based on events such as plugging the tablet into a dock or from a button.

      I think that's a perfectly reasonable solution and it's one Windows already has precedent for with Windows Media Center where you have a shell which looks nothing like the desktop that you can flip in and out of.

      Biggest issue is the ARM stuff. I think a tablet running ARM Windows 8 is next to useless without any apps to run on it. I'm sure MS will port MS Office and IE and a handful of other things, but that isn't enough. It has to offer emulation or a virtualization layer so people can run existing apps even if they run slowly, and it has to provide tools to make it easy to support the new environment.

    4. Ian Davies
      Thumb Down

      Not only that...

      ...but it's just a layer of crap on top of the old crap that's still there.

      In seriousness, there's some interesting UI stuff in the metro layer, but they're making a mistake in believing that the same full Windows UI that sits underneath will *EVER* work well on a touch device.

    5. Shaun 1

      Not quite

      There's 2 different UIs. The one that everyone is familiar with for desktops and the new Metro UI for tablets

    6. Anonymous Coward

      Devil's advocate

      So what we're saying is Microsoft can't possibly try to innovate now, because they must just leave things as they are, and then also get it from the other angle that they are not innovating either?!

      It's been made pretty clear that this is a layer that you can choose to use or not, but like it or not the world is changing, the way we use computers is going to change, and you can either move with the times and play a positive role in building that new user experience, or you can sit there and be grumpy and complain about how this all used to be fields.

      I don't want computers and associated devices in 20 years time to have the same amount of end user faff that they currently entail whether it's Apple, Windows, Gnome or whatever, leave that faff for the background server and network environment, and let the end users have a much more appliance based application interface.

      It's good we're moving into an age where user interfaces are moving beyond the ideas from the early-1980s at last.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Not sure

        Why my reply ended up down here. Users eh.... :) Should have been in reply to the 1st comment.

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Moving forward?

        Quote: "It's good we're moving into an age where user interfaces are moving beyond the ideas from the early-1980s at last."

        Actually the idea of WIMP is early 1970s. 1st Implemented in Mid 1970s.

        It's still pretty much the best interface for large screen, keyboard entry and CAD / Graphics work.

        The styles and ability to have contextual, floating menus and such is a minor tweak. The original idea was a pen (on desk, not screen), but they couldn't miniaturise it so turned a trackball upside down to make a "mouse". Light pens working on the CRT emitted light and calculating time from line and frame scan pre-existed the trackball and mouse. But working all day raising your arm to a large screen to gesture, select and draw is very tiring compared to a desk surface.

        Perhaps a matt surface tablet that's A3 or A2 size would allow a true "desktop" metaphor, but current tablets are too small.

        There has been work on "surface" and Table computing with idea that the surface recognises objects and is even big enough to set a real wireless keyboard and mouse (for those workers that need them).

        It's a masochist that would write a book or manual on a touch screen rather than tactile keyboard.

        Tablets and phones need new ideas. Actual big screen + keyboard information creation tools just need to be quick, reliable and affordable. Without distracting animated eye candy.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Well aware

          I'm aware of the WIMP coming out of the early 1970s etc. at Xerox Parc but the way in which those interfaces work, the general layout and user interface elements such as a trashcan, icons to launch applications etc. owes more to the operating systems of the early 80s (Lisa, Mac OS, GEM, Amiga Workbench etc.) than those early pioneer days.

          At least that's how it feels to me.

          That said I don't disagree that some programs at the moment, a CAD app as you say, or Photoshop doesn't feel ideal for this interface. Yet. 20 years is a long time.

          And in any instance, nobody is saying here that your reasonably well understood Windows 7-esque desktop is going away, this is just a layer on top.

          Like good old Windows Bob :) But much better, that was the right two Bob bits ;)

  2. Mikel

    Best hold off on Windows 7 then

    If Windows 8 is so revolutionary and wonderful and just around the corner, there's no reason to step halfway when you can just wait.

    1. Ian Yates

      I wouldn't

      Watching the video of Win8 (working title, apparently), it's clearly targeted at tablets. I can't see anything that makes it look like a productive desktop environment.

      They're obviously designing a media-consumption-oriented OS, which is fine, but it doesn't like like it's got the featureset to replace Win7.

      I can't see me upgrading my home PCs from Win7, unless they include some kind of "force", like DX10+.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        The big thing in Windows 8 will be the tablet UI

        They're probably showing off the tablet UI because the normal desktop experience won't be much different from Windows 7. They're obviously not going to force a Windows Phone 7 like experience onto desktop users although they might decide to flavour things like the desktop gadgets with it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    You're confused

    "If Sinofsky is right, and Windows 8 does predate the iPad, then the situation is even worse than we thought: it has actually taken Microsoft a lot longer than Apple to get a tablet operating system built."

    You're confusing Windows 7 with WP7. What he said was that it was WP7 that was the influence. If, as they claim, they started work on this after WP7 was released, then they've done this in 7 months.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Bilgepipe


        >>> That and it didn't exactly take long for Apple to get a tablet operating system built anyway because rather than build tablets as tablets, they just pretty much took the iPhone hardware and software, made it larger, and took the phone bit out.

        No they didn't; iOS was developed for the iPad first then shrunk to fit the iPhone. Either way they had a mobile version of OSX done years ago.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          From wikipedia:

          iOS (known as iPhone OS prior to June 2010) is Apple's mobile operating system. Originally developed for the iPhone, it has since been extended to support other Apple devices such as the iPod touch, iPad and Apple TV.

          1. Gareth Gouldstone

            And previously known as

            OS X for iPhone

            Also from Wikipedia:

            At first, Apple marketing literature did not specify a separate name for the operating system, stating simply that the "iPhone runs OS X".[6] Initially, third-party applications were not supported. Steve Jobs argued that developers could build web applications that "would behave like native apps on the iPhone".[7][8] On October 17, 2007, Apple announced that a native SDK was under development and that they planned to put it "in developers' hands in February".[9] On March 6, 2008, Apple released the first beta, along with a new name for the operating system: "iPhone OS".

  4. Christian Berger

    So... in a nutshell

    They are going to bring out a new version of Windows which is incompatible to Windows on mobile devices and the only feature is the browser? Hmm.... didn't Google bring out something like that months ago?

    Well seriously, once you have a good browser the importance of local apps is going to diminish, especially if you don't have a way to easily backup your device.

    1. Shaun 1


      How did you work any of that out from what the article said?

  5. Bibbleq


    "If Sinofsky is right, and Windows 8 does predate the iPad, then the situation is even worse than we thought: it has actually taken Microsoft a lot longer than Apple to get a tablet operating system built."

    To be fair Windows 7/8 is in a slightly different league to iOS in terms of complexity and feature set so its fair that it takes longer to produce...?

  6. Bilgepipe

    Even Worser

    >>> If Sinofsky is right, and Windows 8 does predate the iPad, then the situation is even worse than we thought: it has actually taken Microsoft a lot longer than Apple to get a tablet operating system built.

    It's even worser than that - the iPad predates the iPhone, it was developed first. Apple's had a proper mobile OS - i.e. not Windows Mobile - for years.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Bilgepipe


        >>> You're wrong because you've incorrectly assumed that earlier concepts for the iPad used the OS we know and see today. That was not the case whatsoever.

        I didn't mention iOS at all, I said a "proper mobile OS." Are you implying that iPad concepts were not running a mobile OS? Who needs to figure things out, again/

        >>> You're also wrong because like the author, you completely misunderstood what was said. But I'll leave you to try and figure that out.

        The author was quite clear, as was I. Perhaps you can enlighten us as to how long Apple has had a mobile operating system, given that the only point is question is whether that is "longer than MS has had Windows 8?"

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  7. Anonymous Coward

    WebOS - Meh

    "So far, HP has two OEMs committed to webOS: HP and HP. That's the side of HP putting webOS on the TouchPad and the side putting it on HP PCs.

    Judging by how far Apotheker had to be pushed on this question, we'd say HP has no actual plans to license webOS to anybody outside HP"

    Or more likely no-one wants to licence an OS for a fee when they can use Android for nothing.

    WebOS looked nice but it's gone the way of OS/2, BeOS and betamax, no matter how good they was at what they did they didn't get the userbase to make it viable against the market leader (or leaders in terms of Apple and Android).

    No doubt some of it's features may creep into the market leading OS's but WebOS is dead on the water.

  8. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  9. Tom 15

    It's the same...

    It's the same, just an interface over the top. You click a button to go back to your normal Windows 7 desktop.

  10. farizzle


    I think they built this to stir up sales for Windows 7! @7:19 i wanted to throw up!

  11. Mage Silver badge

    GUI interfaces

    One touch doesn't rule them all.

    Different form factors need different GUIs.

    With the Original Win CE (which Win Phone is based on actually) MS made the mistake of putting "classic" WIMP GUI menu on small screen devices.

    Are thy now going to make the mistake of putting the small touch panel Zune/WinPh GUI on tablets (which need different GUI, combination of thumbs at each side and WIMP + gesture touch) and on Netbooks/PC/Laptop which are still best with a "WIMP" type interface with keyboard shortcuts?

    You could argue that about 4 or 5 different "User Interfaces" are needed

    TVs etc with Remote controls

    Servers (no candy and optimised for remote desktop and consoles)

    Small gadgets with media navigation pad and small screen (players, phones, cameras, games)

    Smart Phones Variants with purely Touch centric and ones with more real buttons. Must use keyboard and pointing device if added.

    Tablets. 4" to 7" and 7" to 12". Maybe 3 variations according to size and resolution. A 4.3" 800 x480 is very different to a 11" 1920x1080

    Dedicated readers with eInk type displays: Don't suit fancy Tablet GUIs

    Small Netbooks 6", 7" .

    10" to 19" Netbooks/Laptops/PCs/Notebooks

    If you are mainly creating content rather than browsing and consuming it a touch screen is very very tiring.

    Each class of device has it's one advantages. You are going to fail imposing same Look & feel and paradigms on them all.

  12. Gavin McMenemy

    "Corporate vice president for Windows Experience"

    What does that even mean?

    1. Kay Burley ate my hamster


      Windows XP was short for Windows Experience... :-/

  13. Anonymous Coward

    I know the reg has a red top but...

    When did you turn into the sun?

    "If Sinofsky is right, and Windows 8 does predate the iPad, then the situation is even worse than we thought: it has actually taken Microsoft a lot longer than Apple to get a tablet operating system built." - Huh? What sort of logic is that? MS had a tablet operating system years ago, I still use it on a HP TC1100.

    You bash Micorosft, you bash Apple, you bash Google, you bash bloody everyone. The stories on here nowadays just seem to slag everyone off. I'm not defending Microsoft or any of the other companies but I remember when The Register first started and it was full of great stories about stuff with a funny take on some things. That isn't the case any more, it is just hyper critical of everything and I don't undertstand why.

    Grrrrrrr... I need more coffee.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      for the record...

      I'm having a bad morning...

    2. Dick Head

      Pandering to the fanbois and haters is good business...

      ...even if many of the articles are effectively dumbed down.

      It's all about clicks.

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Thumb Up


      Quote "That isn't the case any more, it is just hyper critical of everything and I don't undertstand why."

      We need it.

      Because frankly all the big companies are arrogant, only concerned with Image.

      Glossy screens, Animated eye candy, beautiful multimedia all looks lovely in show room. But they are more interested in that and 1st impressions that improving "real" user experience, reliability, reducing price, productivity.

      Form is replacing function.

      Then at the other extreme we have Nokia who at time of N9100 brick phone with symbian then had a good future and through it all way, made too many conflicting GUI choices, did nothing to make symbain development easier, along the way destroyed Trolltech and Maemo.

      There were linux phones smartphones before Android. But not much investment because RIM, Palm, Windows and #1 beating all the rest was Symbian.

      There is a brand new DELL Win7 laptop with super shiny screen. It's totally inferior in speed and usability to XP on 1600 x1200 Ultrasharp NINE years old Dell Inspiron.

      1368 x 768 @ 60p may look cool for USA BD and DVD, Not so good for 25i or 50p DVD or BD. You can't get a 50Hz screen laptop.

      768 lines totally inferior to 1200 lines for documents or web pages.

      Even 1920 x 1080 is no use as it makes the laptop screen too wide compared to a 1600x1200, and 1080 is just slightly too short for A4 PDFs and Word documents.

      We have LOADS of cool gadgets and toys. Technomage stuff.

      But how much stuff actually works well to do your job?

      * Keep up the good work El Reg *

      Though many HW reviews are not critical enough.

  14. Jess

    re:I know the reg has a red top but...

    > You bash Microsoft, you bash Apple, you bash Google, you bash bloody everyone. The stories on here nowadays just seem to slag everyone off.

    To be fair there is a warning label -

    Biting the hand that feeds IT.

    As long as they slag everyone off it's fair.

  15. Bilgepipe


    >>> Intel recently caused Microsoft to skip a corporate heartbeat when it proclaimed that Windows 8 on ARM will not run existing Windows apps. Microsoft indicated that Intel's claims were incorrect.

    And there's still no indication from Microsoft on how they intend to run x86 code on ARM processors. That is, after all, what they implied.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      At a guess...

      ... they'll adapt the x86 emulation code they bought with Virtual PC and deploy on the XBox 360 when running XBox games. Obviously it'll need some work because the target processor is ARM rather than PowerPC but it's probably easier than starting from nothing.

  16. Danny 14 Silver badge

    quite clever though

    The main reason we arent using tablets is lack of a decent windows tablet. We wont use linux/android/ios simply because of GPOs. You cannot lock other beasties down in the same way you can lock down a windows system.

    Sure you can probably go to EACH tablet and do it individually with apps but i'll be damned if im doing that for 1500 of them. If windows 8 runs well on tablets and logs into the domain then its sold for us.

    1. Vic

      Re: quite clever though

      > You cannot lock other beasties down in the same way you can lock down a windows system.

      Yes you can.

      With MAC, you can lock it down as tightly as you want. Indeed, the biggest issue I encounter with SELinux is that my customers think the defaults are too tight.

      > you can probably go to EACH tablet and do it individually with app

      You'd do it with configuration. If you've already rolled out,m then that does mean going round and changing something on each - but htat's no different to a Windows system where you're trying to introduce policy post-rollout.

      And, of course, rolling out Linux systems en masse is easy - a single disk image will support a vast range of hardware with no dibbling. Try that with Windows (e.g. supporting both Intel and AMD processors with the same image).


  17. AGuyInEngland

    TV + Kinect + Windows 8


  18. Luke McCarthy

    Return of the Unix Workstation?

    For people who do serious work on PCs, use Linux.

    1. Chika

      Bit obvious, that!

      Having said that, however, the birth (or the gestation even) of a new OS doesn't immediately mean that you have to give up what you have been working on. Just because Microsoft wants you to work on their latest code, it doesn't follow that you have to. Consider, for example, that Microsoft were forced to reconsider the direction of Windows 7 because of the poor uptake of Vista. Linux is no different in that respect, what with the current anti-GNOME 3 movement and those that resolutely stick with KDE3.5 because they just do not like the latest offerings.

      In other words, wait until we see the actual release, then consider the differences. If Windows 8 does not do what you want, then by all means stick with W7, Vista, XP, Me or whatever. I don't want to condemn a product that has yet to reach the marketplace but Microsoft, Apple, KDE, GNOME, Google or whoever need to stop and listen to what the users are saying rather than try to panic users into changes that they are unwilling to make.

  19. Mitch Kent
    Thumb Up

    I think they've actually bucked their ideas up a bit...

    I was a long-time linux user who out of professional curiosity tried the windows 7 RC. I now own a paid copy as I thought it was very good, and a lot better than the ubuntu distro I was using at the time. It's not perfect, but what is?

    And, as an android user I also like to tweak my phone. Playing around with launchers I ended up giving one a go that imitates the windows phone 7 UI and you know what? I've kept it. I really like it, it's snappy, useful, and I still have the joys of android in everything except home screen.

    There will always be windows haters. But then again, I always thought I would be one of them...

  20. Andy Watt

    @bazza - also, check YouTube for demo.

    Bazza, that was insightful - well put too. Don't underestimate how cash and an entire global population can shoot itself in the foot in new and interesting ways.

    Have seen a YouTube vid of win 8 demoed: there's a brief part of the demo (which indeed shows off a nifty touch interface) where the whole thing drops back to win7 - so I'm guessing the new interface might just be another exe.

    When intel say it won't run windows programs but MS say it will, I'd believe intel - have MS really considered all those win32 legacy apps or are they just assuming everybody runs nothing but .net and WPF anymore? Office is still a mixture of technologies isn't it?


  21. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Quite the opposite

      Per the Bloomberg article you link to: "Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, will showcase the interface running on hardware with an Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) Tegra chip, the people said last week, declining to be identified because the plans are confidential."

      So that would make it sound like they're interested in doing tablets with ARM and ARM only.

  22. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    That unlock screen

    Looks a lot like the one on Android...

  23. Levente Szileszky

    Just a side note...

    ...for you, Reg editors: please, stop linking to ATD especially when this old clown is parading himself. Walt iLike Mossberg is probably the least qualified guy to ask anything, especially about an operating system. He clearly does not understand half of the underlying technologies nor an eloquent speaker or interviewer and that's just besides the fact that he's a pretty mediocre writer (no, he's not a journalist - that'd require integrity) and, of course, a well-known Apple-shill.

    In this ATD piece it's just been confirmed again: he is clearly way too ignorant to ask any meaningful, non-cliche/non-embarrassingly-stupid/non-childish question and still a pathetic smug even for a rather small-scale event like this... this old clown really needs to get retired.

    As for Windows 8... well, I really dislike Microsoft as an awful corporation (mostly thanks to the bureaucratic, thought-killing, faction-based corporate culture by Gates & Ballmer) or the nonsensical linux desktop conundrum but even more the Jobsian freakshow due to its lunatic, egomaniac Great Leader...

    ...but this piece now really raises questions about the future of Windows - do I want this bubbly-shiny-crap on all of my workstations here? Of course I don't want it - let's hope there's a simple way to turn this junk UI off and let's really hope they will rather focus on having a LIGHTWEIGHT core instead of dressing up the pig...

    ...speaking of behaving like a pig: did they finally address the age-old issue that *ANY* app in Windows by default can steal the focus without asking me first?

  24. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    build ?

    Notice how when some proper accounting company renames itself 'thus' or a bank renames to 'twinkle', or ITV2 to 'dave' it all seems to go to crap.

    Wonder what will happen now the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference becoming build (tm) (r) in lowercase, in nice pastel colours, and it will now be held somewhere exotic and fashionable but obviously no hardware engineers allowed.

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