updated 12:25 pm EDT, Sat October 23, 2010
Ballmer says Windows 8 his riskiest bet
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer during this week's Gartner Symposium raised curiosity by claiming that Windows 8 would be a major gamble for the company (video below). When asked by analyst John Pescatore what the next "riskiest product bet" would be, the executive answered simply that it would be the "next release of Windows." It's unclear if he was referring to the importance of having a successful core product or if the OS itself would be a radical break.
The design so far is known to mostly be a refinement of the OS to provide a more Apple-like seamless experience, such as fast startup, an automatic logout when the system hibernates, and even a system restore triggered by a hardware button. Cameras should help with logging in, and ambient light sensor support would auto-tune brightness and other settings much as MacBooks and iOS devices do today.
Many of the changes are likely to revolve around touch. The company has tried to push Windows 7 tablets as iPad rivals by the end of the year but has had little success as devices have either been delayed to 2011 for Intel's Oak Trail or have been relegated to enterprise after determining that they weren't appropriate for the home. Windows 7 supports multi-touch, but many of its on-screen elements aren't optimized for finger input or the lack of a hardware keyboard. Its sequel may be the first conspicuous redesign of the OS to accommodate more than mouse and pen input through the entire OS.
Ballmer also hinted, however, that the company may eventually adapt the more intuitive
"There are technical details I'm not getting into today," he said. "We get multiple experiences." [via ZDNet]