Windows 8’s dual-UI will incorporate the best of both worlds

Not much is known about Windows 8 at this point. Microsoft unveiled the radical new interface–at least for a desktop operating system–back in early June, but the Redmond software giant has kept silent on the subject until recently. A string of posts over on the Building Windows 8 blog have detailed the fascinating decisions behind relatively minor parts of the traditional interface, like file management dialogs and Explorer. But the most recent entry, while not as detailed as its predecessors, hints at some exciting changes to the core Windows OS, specifically in regards to tablets.

What if you could use a clean, light, and touch-friendly OS on a tablet while at the same time having the ability to quickly switch over to a traditional Windows experience? And, most importantly, this wouldn’t come at the cost of decreased performance or battery life. That’s Microsoft’s goal with Windows 8. It will be “fast and fluid, immersive, beautiful, and app-centric,” while simultaneously being completely backwards compatible. It’s a no compromise design.

“Our approach has been to reimagine Windows, and to be open to revisiting even the most basic elements of the user model,” said Steven Sinofsky, the President of the Windows and Windows Live Division.

Tablet users can immerse themselves in the Metro experience, avoiding the traditional desktop altogether. In fact, Windows 8 won’t even load the desktop–code included–unless the user “explicitly chooses to go there.” This is fascinating, and implies that Windows 8 only loads the most vital parts of the OS on startup, paving the way for a lightning fast boot experience.

This has me greatly excited. Microsoft will soon provide a consistent interface across devices–Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox. Tablet users will be able to go about their day on the Metro side, but they can still switch over to the traditional desktop experience when need be. This prospect is both exciting and fascinating. Unlike Windows 7 tablets, Windows 8 won’t force users to make a compromise. I can’t wait to learn more at the BUILD conference on September 13-16.

[Building Windows 8]

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William Devereux

William Devereux is the former Microsoft editor at Pocketables, as well as a Microsoft MVP and SkyDrive/Outlook.com Insider. As his title implies, he wrote about all things from Redmond, including Windows 8 and Windows Phone. He is currently carrying a Windows Phone 8X by HTC and a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet.