Like many people I was fascinated by what Microsoft had to say about Windows 8.

Previewing ‘Windows 8′ (Microsoft Press Pass)

It is obviously focused on a tablet experience to address the iPad and its “Post PC” peers including Android Honeycomb which was also designed specifically for tablets. Windows 8 is Microsoft’s attempt to provide a “Post PC” PC experience.

I was struck by how much this Post PC PC platform made homages to Microsoft’s earlier products going all the way back to Windows 1.0. Let me work backwards in time with this short list of observations.

- Windows 8 borrows heavily from Windows Phone’s tiled Metro UI. This is a very good approach for tablets. But, you have to wonder how this will work on mouse and keyboard oriented desktops and notebooks. Windows Phone’s Metro UI itself owes some of its design choices to the Xbox 360.

- The “thumbs layout” alternate keyboard that splits the QWERTY layout into two sections clustered to the left and right of the display comes from Project Origami which resulted in the failed UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) product. The UMPC had 6 to 8 inch touch screen displays running Windows XP. However, the underpowered overpriced hardware offering were not attractive to most people. The alternate keyboard layout was and is a good idea, however.

- Windows 8′s “Snap” window tiling actually harkens back all the way to Windows 1.0. Microsoft Windows 1.0 was a tiled window system that did not allow overlapping Windows. While the Snap windowing system may work well on tablets, it is not clear how it will fit the needs of people who, for example, work with multiple displays with multiple overlapping windows in each display. Anyone who has written a moderately complex report with a word processor, spreadsheet, multiple tabs in a browser and custom software running simultaneously understands this issue.

- It is not clear how current software applications not designed for a tiled window system or touch gestures will function in Windows 8

Time will tell if the “Post PC” PC will resonate with current Windows users.


Video courtesy of Microsoft