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Windows 8 Features Leaked: Instant On/Off, Syncing to the Cloud, and Tablets

A whole mess of details about the next version of Windows (working name: Windows 8) were leaked today. It’s mostly big picture stuff, but that gives us a nice insight into what we can expect from Windows 8.

Windows 8 machine

Microsoft‘s current version of Windows, Windows 7, has been a critical and commercial success. But you always have to be working on the next version, and some leaked documents show what Windows 8 might look like.

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The documents, published by MSFTKitchen, don’t go into much nitty-gritty, but it mentions a few new features that pique our interest. Microsoft seems to be firmly laying out the three different form factors it wants to see in Windows 8: laptop, all-in-one desktop, and slate (or tablet). There’s a mockup of a Windows 8 all-in-one, pictured above, but it frankly looks outdated, impractical, and bulky, so for the sake of optimism let’s remember that Microsoft is very early in the planning stages.

The presence, and indeed emphasis, of the slate form factor is interesting–it shows that Microsoft is keen to continue pushing tablet versions of Windows, even though that hasn’t worked out so well this generation.

Other tidbits: Facial recognition appears to be a major component of Windows 8. Instead of using a password, Windows 8 will recognize you when you sit in front of its camera, and log you in. Even further, there’ll be a proximity sensor, so you may not even have to press a button–all you’d have to do is sit down in front of the screen.

Microsoft is also making a push for instant on/off functionality, which ties in to that proximity sensor power switch. There’s an entire section of slides dedicated to the importance of fast bootup times.

Perhaps the most interesting and promising feature is the use of cloud syncing. Microsoft is already one of the leaders in cloud technologies (along with Google, Microsoft is years ahead of Apple–just look at their mobile device offerings), and it looks like that will continue with Windows 8. The slides show a user’s settings, preferences, and even files synced to the cloud. So whether you’re on a Windows 8 all-in-one in your office or on a slate at a cafe, your preferences will move with you. That’s more than emails–it likely refers to browser bookmarks, music, photos, documents, and more.

Microsoft mentions a possible app store for Windows software, which is not a bad idea–even Apple, pioneer of the app store concept, doesn’t have one for its full-sized OS.

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There’s also a slide titled “How Apple does it: A virtuous cycle,” which lays out a cycle of premium equipment Apple users apparently expect. Essentially, Apple is known for easy-to-use, high quality products (the phrase “it just works” is used); Apple’s products include easy-to-understand advancements; customers like those advancements; customers thus pay more for Apple’s products; leading yet again to a perception of quality. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that cycle–here’s hoping Microsoft can implement the idea of “it just works” into Windows 8.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).

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About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law

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