Microsoft starts to talk Windows 8, all but confirms App Store

Microsoft starts to talk Windows 8, all but confirms App StoreAfter months of near silence, Microsoft is starting to talk publicly about Windows 8. Earlier this week the company started a new "Building Windows 8" blog, and Windows Live Division President Steven Sinofsky provided the first concrete information about the operating system in a post on Wednesday.

The post gives a high-level overview of how Windows 8's development is organized and the different feature areas the teams are working on. Most of these, such as "Kernel Platform," "Networking Core," and "Performance," held no surprises, but a few of the teams are more interesting. One is called "App Store," which confirms the rumor that Windows 8 will include an application store feature—there were slides leaked last year that made mention of a Windows Store. As with any as-yet-unreleased product, nothing is set in stone, but this information makes it all but certain that such a store will be a part of Windows 8.

Also of interest was the "Hyper-V" team. Leaked alpha builds of Windows 8 appear to include the Hyper-V virtualization platform—hitherto found only in server variants of the operating system—and the presence of this team would seem to confirm that Hyper-V virtualization is now a feature of the Windows client operating system too. However, as Sinofsky notes in the post, "some features are built in the core OS but are ultimately only part of the Server product." The possibility remains that Hyper-V will be one of those features.

The team listing also includes a XAML team, confirming the leaked e-mail announcing that XAML—the XML-based user interface language that's currently used in both .NET and Silverlight—was now being developed by the Windows team, and not by Microsoft's developer tools division.

Exactly three years ago to the day, when Windows 7 was in development, Sinofsky made a similar post on the Engineering 7 blog, highlighting how the structure of the two operating systems is very different. Sinofsky's Windows 8 post lists 35 teams, and mentions that there are others (including Internet Explorer) that are not a direct part of the Windows 8 team. Windows 7 had just 23, including the one responsible for Microsoft's Web browser.

The Windows 8 organization includes many more groups dedicated to abstract user experiences rather than specific functional areas. While Windows 7 had a "Core User Experience" team, Windows 8 has "Core Experience Evolved," "Applications and Media Experience," "Devices & Networking Experience," and "User-Centered Experience." With Windows 7, the company tried to ensure that a single group would be responsible for providing "end-to-end" functionality—that is, both the underlying plumbing and the visible user interface. It looks like Windows 8 will take that further, with groups responsible for considering entire user experiences, even if they cut across multiple functional areas. This is a move that should result in operating system that better integrates disparate functional areas, and provides a smoother, more consistent experience.

Even though Windows 8 has more teams, several of the Windows 7 groups have no obvious counterpart. Windows 8 may have "Application and Media Experience" and "Media Platform," but unlike Windows 7, it doesn't have "Media Center." The latest Windows 8 betas appear to lack Media Center functionality too—all in all an ominous sign for an application that never really achieved mainstream appeal, but which was much loved by its devotees. Equally, the change might simply mean that the standalone Media Center application is no more, but its capabilities have been rolled into Windows 8's other media features.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Microsoft, Windows 8

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