updated 12:10 pm EDT, Fri April 1, 2011
Windows 8 hints at Immersive UI and dock
Microsoft's aim to get a tablet-optimized UI in Windows 8 was supported on Friday by registry key discoveries in a milestone build. Repeated references exist to an "Immersive" shell that would launch on top of Windows. GeekSmack's screenshots also make mentions of a docking system that would couch apps and an "Immersive browser" that would be more than just what's seen today.
What Immersive and the dock would entail aren't evident. Clues have already emerged that it would use some cues from the Metro interface in Windows Phone 7. It's possible the docking may relate to the taskbar much like Windows 7, where an app icon can be both a launcher and a status window. No complete interface elements exist to piece together a working sample.
The developer has long hinted that Windows 8 would be its first truly optimized for finger touch and is planning to add ARM processor support to help with the often criticized short battery life of Intel-based tablets. It may nonetheless ship only in late 2012 and could leave Apple with a year and a half lead with an optimized tablet OS.