Today’s formal unveiling of the Windows 8 developers preview at Microsoft’s BUILD conference in Anaheim revealed a boatload of information about the upcoming OS, which will introduce so many innovations that attendees and journalists are still trying to formulate (and assess) a coherent big picture.
But while we’re practically drowning in details, Microsoft’s presentation still leaves a slew of questions unanswered. Here are my top five:
- What’s the pitch to people who live in multiple big, beefy productivity apps that aren’t really appropriate for the Metro touch interface? I get that you can use a mouse and keyboard on Metro, and that you can click through it to a regular Windows desktop configured the way you like it, but what does Windows 8 then bring to that party?
- I searched in vain for Notepad and Paint, which at least support basic content creation, and the calculator. Will Microsoft add these down the line, or will we have to go to the cloud to get them or their equivalents (which will be problematic since there are still times when you can’t get online, period)? And speaking of productivity, it’s interesting that there’s been no mention of Office, for Metro or otherwise—and it’s notably missing from the preview hardware Microsoft distributed here.
- The notion of contracts–bits of connectivity built into the OS which let apps exchange information–is intriguing, but will the development community buy into it? Just how much will they be willing to invest in creating Metro apps? Just because Microsoft has built something into an operating system, it’s not a given that they will come.
- What will or won’t run on slates and tablets that use ARM-based chips from companies such as Nvidia and Qualcomm, and how well will they really perform in the real world? Microsoft showed a little demo of a video app with tropical fish that’s meant to illustrate how well Winv8 runs on an ARM device, but that’s not very helpful in answering the question.
- When will Windows 8 ship, what will it cost, and what will it be called (Windows 8 is the code name)? That would be nice for IT planning purposes (not to mention my own personal IT budget).