Microsoft previews Windows 8: HTML/JS/CSS apps seem familiar somehow [the competition]
If you’d asked us a few months ago if we saw Microsoft’s flagship Windows desktop operating system as a potential candidate for being in competition with webOS, we’d have laughed. But today we’re looking at Redmond with a wary eye. At Computex yesterday, Microsoft gave a preview of the next version of Windows, they’re calling it Windows 8 while it’s under development, and it’s very much an OS crafted in response to the rise of tablets (a rise that decimated the netbook segment upon which the hopes of Windows 7 were pinned).
Windows 8 takes the Spartan tile-based Metro user interface of Windows Phone 7 and scales it up to the big screen, and we’ll admit that we find it mighty attractive. The scalability of the apps is impressive, as you can even pull in an app from the side of the screen and sit it side-by-side with another running app (e.g. you can have Twitter open in a panel on the side, with your news reader dominating the rest of the screen). This full-screen approach abandons the traditional window-driven interface of Windows for a more touch-friendly experience.
We imagine HP has already seen a lot of this (and more) in their long-standing partnership with Microsoft. But for the first time Windows is truly heading towards a touch-driven interface that’s going to put it into direct competition with the likes of webOS, Android, and iOS.
In fact, it poses quite the potential quandary for HP. With webOS to be on HP PCs by the end of the year, HP stands to have two distinctly different touch-based operating systems on the same device, should the release a Windows 8 tablet with webOS also on board. While webOS on the PC at first is expected to only be webOS in a window, we can’t help but imagine that HP intends to integrate it more deeply with later versions. Additionally, it puts HP back in with the Metro UI they shied away from when purchasing Palm and dumping their Windows Phone 7 development.
Will HP still adopt Windows 8 for their PC lines? Of course they will. Even if it takes a year to get Windows 8 out to consumers, webOS still isn’t going to be ready for primary machine duty by that time. The fact that Windows 8 will run on lightweight hardware and still support legacy-style apps in a major plus for Microsoft, but it remains to be seen how well they’re going to execute on their newfound embrace of web standards where Palm failed. Either way, the thought of an HP tablet with this slick new Metro UI Windows 8 and webOS is a very tempting idea. Slick video of it all is after the break.