OK, I've spent far too long wondering about this before, but can someone please explain to me how we're only on Windows 7 now, and then Windows 8 next year? We've had Windows 1, 2, 3, 95, 98, ME, XP, Vista and 7 on the consumer front, plus NT, 2000, 2003 and 2008 on the business/server front, plus any number of sub-versions. Grah! Do I really trust a company that cannot count to 7 properly with so much of my life?
Anyway, Windows 8 is next, and turns out it's due next year.
Windows 8 isn't the official name as yet, though Microsoft's funny-lookin' CEO Steve Ballmer has referred to the operating system as such in public, along with claiming a 2012 release date. Not impossible that Microsoft will decide to return to the days of slapping meaningless words or initials on the end for the release version, though.
What will the new Windows entail, and why should we care as PC gamers? The latter we don't know as yet, although there has been earlier talk that 8 will see Microsoft attempt to become a force for, rather than impediment to, PC gaming again. Mind you, they've been saying that they still care for years without doing a whole lot about it, though Fable 3 being a proper PC version rather than a shonky port was fairly promising.
Right now, it sounds as though the main new-newness of Windows 8 is its suitability for tablets and low-end machines like netbooks. This will pose an interesting dilemma for RPS - should we start to cover tablet gaming if, in theory, PC gaming moves to include it?
Believed to be in Windows 8, based on leaked very early builds and feedback from testers, is a ribbon-based interface for Explorer, similar to the that overloaded giant thing at the top of the latest version of Office, native PDF and ISO reading, a new theme (as always) and, most tellingly, an app store. Anyone and everyone's been predicting Microsoft would adopt that latter sooner or later, and that could be big news for games if it's not a horrible mess.
Said Ballmer at a Tokyo press conference, reports Develop, “As we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there's a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.”
'Form factors' is such a silly phrase. My PC is currently contained within a case that looks a bit like a giant metal landsnail. Now that's a form factor.
Anyone feeling ready to upgrade? I'm really very happy with Windows 7, I must say - and it's been a long time since I said that about another version of Windows. You can find various proto-screenshots of the new OS's early, internal builds on the Windows Supersite, if you're so moved.