Thursday, June 2, 2011

The rundown on new features in Windows 8

Microsoft announced several new features Wednesday for the next version of the Windows operating system, code-named Windows 8. It was the most significant preview of Windows 8 that Microsoft has given so far.

Seattle Times technology reporter Brier Dudley is covering the Microsoft announcement at the D9 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., this week organized by tech news site AllThingsD. For full coverage, including the session with Microsoft division president Steven Sinofsky, check out Brier Dudley's blog.

Microsoft did not say when Windows 8 will be ready for sale. The company says it will give more details at its Build conference in Anaheim, Calif., Sept. 13 to 16. The conference, previously called the Professional Developers Conference, has been renamed.

These are the new features Microsoft showed today.

Start screen redesigned for touch. The new start screen for Windows looks like the Windows Phone screen. Large square tiles will replace the traditional Windows icons. The tiles will show updates from each application, such as new email messages and upcoming appointments.

Works across multiple devices. Windows 8 can be installed on tablets, laptops and desktop PCs with keyboards and mice.

Backward compatibility. Microsoft said software and computer peripherals such as printers that run on Windows 7 will work with Windows 8.

Multi-tasking and resizing apps. Application windows, for example an Excel spreadsheet and a browser window running Twitter, can be resized on the screen and run side by side, a feature that Apple and Google currently lacks.

Swiping between applications. Windows 8 users will be able to swipe between applications, as they can on Apple?s iPad and Google?s Android tablet software.

Internet Explorer 10. A new version of Microsoft?s Web browser, which the company described as ?touch optimized,? will run on Windows 8.

Web-connected apps. Software developers can build applications for Windows 8 in HTML5 and JavaScript.

A split touch keyboard. For touchscreen devices, Windows 8 will have a touch keyboard similar to the iPad?s and Android?s. It will also have a split keyboard that groups the letters close to the bottom corners of the screen so tablet users can type with their thumbs.

Here are more screenshots of multitasking and the keyboard in Windows 8, captured from a video Microsoft posted.

Samantha Morton Grace Park Jill Wagner Susie Castillo Fergie

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