Windows 8 slated for release this year

Windows 8 will featuer a new, Metro-style Start Menu similar to Windows Phone 7's interface.

Announced last year, Microsoft plans to release its latest operating system, Windows 8, later this fall.

Looking to revamp the “Windows experience” completely, the new Windows will feature a Metro-style, full-screen, tiled interface, similar to Windows Phone 7’s interface, which will replace the current home menu that users have become accustomed to since ’95.

According to leading tech blog Engadget, the new start menu is the largest feature in Windows 8.

Designed to be friendly with touch-based interfaces (functioning and looking very similar to those of Windows Phone), it features large tiles that display live data (such as emails and weather), the Windows App Store, an Xbox Live tile that displays a gamer friend list and the Xbox Marketplace, and other applications, documents, web pages and just about anything else to which you would want a quick shortcut.

Those worried about having to learn an entirely new interface should feel a little more at ease, as the new format will not completely replace the traditional desktop.

Interestingly enough, both the desktop and the Metro Start Menu will run on top of each other.

According to Engadget, this set-up complicates the experience in an almost “sloppy” way.

For example, Windows 8 includes a new Metro version of Internet Explorer that functions very well with the new interface. However, it does not share its bookmarks, history or any other data with the normal desktop Internet Explorer 9, causing some fragmentation in the user experience.

Windows 8 will be shipping on laptop and desktop PCs later this year, but perhaps the most exciting news is Microsoft’s plans to begin shipping Windows 8 tablets.

Northern Voices Online and Boy Genius Report say that the company has deals with Samsung, HTC, Asus, Dell and Huawei to design and manufacture the new tablets.

Mashable has stated if Microsoft’s cards are played right, consumers could see some very strong competition in the realm of tablets.

Being a Windows platform, the tablet will support Microsoft’s Office suite, which businesses still rely on daily and has also gotten a Metro-make to better integrate with the interface.

Northern Voices Online mentions that with various manufactures, consumers will have a diverse selection of designs from which to choose, allowing users to purchase tablets best tailored their intended uses.

Additionally, ARM, AMD and Intel processors will be used to power the new tablets.

With Intel’s new Medfield chips and nVidia’s Tegra 3 chips, mobile technology and processing power have become powerful enough to maybe even replace traditional PCs altogether.

Those interested in giving Windows 8 a test drive can download the Consumer Preview build free of charge at www.windows8.com.

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