Windows 8: Microsoft finally raises the curtain

After months of buildup, today is the day the next generation of Windows for PCs and tablets is to be unveiled

Microsoft has been teasing us for months with drips of promises for what the next version of Windows -- code-named Windows 8 -- will offer. It's said that Windows 8 and its radically different user interface will run on both Intel and ARM chips; thus, it will be available not just for traditional desktop and laptop PCs but for iPad-style tablets. Microsoft has said Windows 8 will not run on smartphones, which will use Windows Phone 7 instead. However, the Win8 UI seems to be based on that of Windows Phone.

Microsoft has suggested that Windows 8 will use Hyper-V virtualization to run legacy applications (those designed for Windows 7 and earlier), so Microsoft can break free of the legacy technology and move Windows to a new level, as Apple did when it virtualized its old System 7 architecture a decade ago and came up with Mac OS X.

[ See InfoWorld's Windows 8 preview visual tour. | Galen Gruman outlines what Microsoft must do for Windows 8 tablets to finally be winners. | Keep up to speed on the key Microsoft news and ingths with InfoWorld's Technology: Microsoft newsletter. Sign up today! ]

That apparent strategy means ARM-based Windows 8 tablets won't run legacy Windows apps, similar to how iPads and iPhones don't run Mac OS X apps despite a common core. But Windows 8 PCs -- at least, some of them -- will run both new-style Win8 apps and legacy apps. This strategy differs from Apple's separation of desktop and mobile, and it could make it much easier for Windows users to "go mobile" by extending Windows to the new devices, rather than supplement it à la Apple. (Hewlett-Packard has a similar concept to Microsoft's in its WebOS strategy, though earlier this year it pulled the plug on that plan.)

But the hints dribbling out over nine months suggesting this strategy are just that: hints. Today, at its Build Windows conference, Microsoft is poised to put out most, perhaps even all, of the pieces together in one place. Come back to this story throughout the day as we relay and make sense of Microsoft's Windows 8 plans. Microsoft will begin its unveiling at 9 a.m. PT, and this story will be updated shortly thereafter as details become available.

This article, "Windows 8: Microsoft finally raises the curtain," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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Galen Gruman

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