This week developers get a chance to try out Windows 8, the latest version of Microsoft's desktop operating system (OS). The product offers a new graphical user interface using tiles rather than the start menu, which is optimised for touch.
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Microsoft's goal is to offer the OS on devices ranging from small slates to laptops, desktops, all-in-ones, and classroom-sized displays.
Early indications suggest the boot time will 30%-70% faster than its predecessor. It remains to be seen how much of the operating services will actually be running when the Windows GUI boots up.
Writing on the MSDN blog, Gabe Aul, director of programme management for Windows at Microsoft, noted: "Now here's the key difference for Windows 8: as in Windows 7, we close the user sessions, but instead of closing the kernel session, we hibernate it." In other word, when a user presses shutdown, all of the programs the user runs are shut down, but the operating system hibernates to memory.
"We're effectively saving the system state and memory to a file on disk (hiberfil.sys) and then read back in on resume and restoring contents back to memory. Using this technique with boot gives us a significant advantage for boot times, since reading the hiberfile in and reinitialising drivers is much faster on most systems (30-70% faster on most systems we've tested)."
It would seem Microsoft is looking to offer developers and hardware manufactures one platform that will scale from consumer devices in the home, to fully-fledged workstations and business PCs. The touch UI and HTML 5.0 support suggests, Microsoft is building a Windows 8 marketplace, analogous to the Windows Mobile marketplace, providing a one-stop shop for simple apps. In the home environment people are used to this concept - with things like the xBox Dashboard, Sony's Xross Media Bar and the UI on Blu-Ray players and TVs that offer internet TV services like BBC iPlayer. It is easy to see how Windows Live and Office 365 will be integrated into the Windows 8.0 UI, but it will be interesting to see whether developers of corporate applications embrace the apps model, and use HTML 5.0 instead of .net for the next version of Windows software. Enterprise developers will also need to understand how Windows 8 integrates with Azure, because this is the future of the Windows platform.