Rumor: Windows 8 Tablet UI demo set for June?

By Tom Warren, on 28th Feb 11 11:09 pm with 8 Comments

Windows 8 at CES 2011

Microsoft may be preparing to demonstrate its Windows 8 Tablet UI as early as June, according to reports on Monday.

A source, who allegedly has knowledge of Microsoft’s plans, spoke to Business Insider and claims that the company is taking a more Apple-like approach to interface design in Windows 8. Microsoft “will also be using concepts from the “Metro” interface developed for Windows Phone 7″ says Business Insider. The report isn’t as far fetched as it might seem. Microsoft has a habit of introducing new technologies at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital Conference, which will run from May 31 to June 2 this year. Bill Gates introduced Microsoft’s Surface computer in 2007 and the company demonstrated Windows 7 multitouch in 2008. It’s possible that Microsoft might be planning to demonstrate a technology preview of Windows 8 Tablets at the conference this year.

Microsoft may introduce Windows 8 ARM based tablets ahead of a full desktop release according to recent reports. Microsoft’s competitive tablet strategy is believed to be further along than expected. Dell’s recently leaked Tablet Roadmap revealed that the OEM has marked Q1 2012 as its date for a Windows 8 based slate. WinRumors understands that Microsoft has been working on an ARM based version of Windows for nearly a year and that it is laboring hard to bring this to the market as soon as possible. Microsoft has previously promised a “major revamp” of Windows for slate applications, that will come in the next version, Windows 8.

Microsoft recently hit the escrow stage for Windows 8. The escrow stage marks the fact that Microsoft is ready to compile a final M2 build during its development stage. Microsoft is expected to start compiling Milestone 3 builds in early March following the finalization of M2. Microsoft’s internal Windows 8 roadmap states that the company plans to begin M3 builds on February 28. The company compiled build 6.2.7950.0.winmain_win8m2_escrow.110223-1820 on Wednesday last week. Microsoft began compiling Milestone 1 builds of Windows 8 in early August 2010. The software giant finalized the M1 build in early December after four months of development. M2 builds began in early December and are believed to be near finalization. Milestone 3 development is expected to last until early June. The current schedule could mean we’ll see a Windows 8 beta during September at PDC.

Microsoft has so far been extremely quiet on the Windows 8 front. Windows Chief, Steven Sinofsky, took to the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January to introduce a technology preview of Microsoft’s Windows ARM support and show off an early build of Windows 8. Microsoft is partnering with ARM-based manufactures NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments to produce new Tablet devices. Rumors suggest that Microsoft will create a dual-UI for Windows 8. A tile-based user interface codenamed “Mosh” will reportedly be included.

Steve Ballmer has described the next release of Windows as the company’s “riskiest product bet”. It is understood that Microsoft will feature deep cloud integration into the future OS to realise its vision of “three screens and a cloud”. One Microsoft employee recently said he believes Windows 8 will be the “most important Windows ever shipped.”

  • ThePro

    “will also be using concepts from the “Metro” interface developed for Windows Phone 7″


  • Stephen Anderson

    Now I can finally get interested in tablet computing.

    • Guest

      Doesn’t that depend on the app story? Which with ARM is what?

    • GP007

      If they ported Windows itself over to ARM then it’s probably safe to say that all the built in compatibility mode/app-v tech probably works as well. Then you also have the Silverlight/XNA and just .NET in general which should run as well since they already have it running on WP7.

      The best thing to do is to have ARM based tablets compatible with WP7 apps/games and then toss in some app-v support so you can run x86 apps if you want, though performance will probably be on the slow side.

    • Thomas Hounsell

      Microsoft have said that they don’t plan on including x86 emulation in Windows for ARM, though it’s possible they may provide it as a separate product.

      However, as you say, .NET and managed code in general is platform-agnostic as long as it doesn’t rely on unmanaged components. However, even with unmanaged code, moving to ARM will be no more complex than moving to x64 – as long as you haven’t made any assumptions about the plaform (such as pointer size, etc), you should need the minimum of work to recompile it for ARM.

  • Guest

    Well, this is their last chance. If it’s not killer, Apple and Google win the tablet market and MS slowly fades to black.

    A preview by June makes sense. They need to stall buyers of competitor’s products asap, and Ballmer can’t afford to exit the fiscal with nothing to show except another year of collapsing MS stock prices.

  • Anonymous

    What does an “apple-like approach” to UI design mean? Metro is very un-Apple like. Does this mean there will be more frequent updates?

  • Tim Acheson

    This is excellent news! Exciting stuff.

    Windows 8 is the reason why Microsoft will dominate the tablet market:-

    iPad is a kid’s toy in comparison.