The Visualist Blog

Microsoft 8 and Visual Computing

The Build Windows Conference is underway today and I’m planning on paying careful attention to how the user-interface and graphical architecture is impacted by Windows 8. Plenty of rumors have already been floating around related to new levels of support for touch and gestural interfaces (not a big surprise) a focus on virtualization (perhaps a bigger surprise), and cleaner ways to distrubute applications to end-users.

The most interesting rumors have been centered around a different UI paradigm, codenamed “Mosh”. As popular as it was to be a Microsoft-bashing, information-must-be-free Unix hacker in my formative years, I’ve always have a healthy respect for the impact that Windows 2.0 on the world of computing. I know that there were a number of graphical (even “windows-based” operating systems) that had been developed outside of Microsoft, but Windows 2.0, combined with Word and Excel, was a watershed moment for how we interact with out computing environments.

Will changes to the Windows 8 UI paradigm have similar impact? Certainly not. But, as someone that works directly with software for innovative visualization environments, any hints about how the desktop metaphor may be modified will have implications for visual computing everywhere. Early indications are that a new tiling interface (similar to that found on a Windows Phone) may supplant the traditional desktop experience.

I promise not to be distracted by teasers like an early copy of the build (Build 1802 is now available to attendees), the rumors of support for new input sensors, off-site parties, etc.. and stay focused on how Windows 8 will impact those of us interested in HCI and visual computing. Stay tuned as I learn more.

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