updated 10:55 pm EST, Wed December 8, 2010
Windows 8 may have Wind interface with full 3D
Windows 8 when it ships may have a radical revision of the interface for higher-end users. An Italian leak on Wednesday has suggested that Aero will be replaced by Wind, a fully 3D interface. The UI would be entirely adaptive and change icons, shortcuts and possibly other elements to streamline day-to-day use, Windows 8 Italia heard.
The OS would be heavily demanding on memory and would not only need 170MB of video memory, ruling out most integrated video chipsets, but would be limited to 64-bit versions of Windows 8. The slash might owe itself to the 4GB maximum RAM ceiling, which can shrink further even with dedicated video cards. A 64-bit version of Windows isn't capped at 4GB and isn't as deeply affected by video memory demands.
Microsoft already uses some 3D acceleration techniques in Windows 7, but much of the interface is still designed around 2D concepts and mostly loses visual effects if the graphical support is lacking, regardless of whether it uses 32- or 64-bit code. Apple was the first to use 3D acceleration in a mainstream desktop OS when Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar introduced Quartz Extreme to accelerate window rendering and other effects.
Other details are scarce but would corroborate earlier leaked slides discussing a fast, more Apple-like hibernate mode. Like the deep sleep mode on the new MacBook Air, it would cache the state of open files and running processes to disk within seconds and could resume faster than Windows 7 does today as a result. Windows 8 won't require a solid-state drive, though, and would likely take longer both to hibernate and to wake up.
While the rumor is unverified and possibly false, it also came from a site that also divulged Windows 8 planning slides. NVIDIA has also recently released a Quadro graphics driver (version 265) that explicitly includes Windows 8 in the 64-bit code, indirectly supporting the Wind strategy. Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer alluded to Windows 8 being a major gamble on strategy, and an adaptive interface could fulfill that role.
The most credible claims so far for Windows 8's release date have put it sometime in 2012 based on Microsoft Netherlands' own assertions. The schedule would fit in with Microsoft's promises to release versions of Windows post-Vista roughly three years apart. Windows 7 was released slightly early, in late 2009, though it was considered partly a contingency to rescue sales after both homes and businesses began rejecting Vista in small but significant numbers. [via WinRumors]