WASHINGTON'S LEADING BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Microsoft Makes Bold Move With Windows 8 Beta Introduction

New operating system would offer same look on PCs, tablets and smart phones

 

After months of teasers that Windows 8, Microsoft’s new operating system, would be better than the developer version released last May, Microsoft delivered the goods on Wednesday {2/29/12]: not in Redmond but nearly halfway across the world, in Barcelona, where the company essentially poached the global crowd attending the annual World Mobile Congress to see its latest software.

It was as silky a move as Ichiro stealing second base.  Not only did the crowd attending the show visit the Nokia booth and see the introduction of several new Windows Phones—Nokia being the smartphone manufacturer most invested in the eponymously named mobile phone operating system (OS)—but people could tromp over to a nearby hotel and see Microsoft’s compleat (cq) vision of how all its product pieces fit together in a comprehensive manner that even Apple might envy.  Yes—Apple. 

The reception was loud and mostly positive in the press.  The New York Times’ David Pogue was “excited.”  CNN posed a Wired piece that calls it “actually innovative, and even cool.” 

Mashable’s Peter Pachal was complimentary, but raised a yellow flag [ http://mashable.com/2012/02/29/windows-8-consumer-preview-review/  ] :  “ I’m starting to wonder if the approach of one OS for all devices — desktop, laptop, tablet, touch screen and non — is fundamentally flawed.”  

TheNextWeb website reported that a consumer preview of Windows 8 was downloaded a million times in its first 24 hours.  Here’s a link [ http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/download ] if you care to join the early adapters.

We’ll get to Windows 8 itself in a moment, but it’s necessary to understand first what Microsoft is doing to distinguish itself visually and functionally from all competitors.

Its first step has been to pull off a neat trick: shaking up the look and feel of its major products—the Windows OS, Windows Phones and Xbox, as well as software applications—and giving all of them a uniform graphic language dubbed “Metro.”  If you grok (!) the Metro sensibility, you’ll be experiencing the same look and feel whether you’re using a Windows Phone, the Xbox gaming console or the new Windows 8—even though actual functions may be different.  No doubt that when the next iteration of Microsoft Offices comes out, it will reflect a Metro sensibility.

Metro, which owes much to Swiss-influenced print and packaging and transportation hub graphics, started as the new interface of Windows Phones and migrated to becoming the new face of Microsoft.  It has a spare

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