Skip to main content

Microsoft Previews Windows 8: Live Tiles, New Gestures, and Full-Screen Web Apps

It's just a sneak peek, but Microsoft made a good first impression tonight with its first ever preview of Windows 8. The company's next big OS looks a lot like Windows Phone 7, but it brings some nifty new gestures and other features to the table. As you can see from the above screenshot, Windows 8 (it's just a codename for now) features a Start screen with an app store and Live Tiles, which deliver helpful info and notifications. Switching between recently used apps is as easy as flicking from the left side of the screen, while flicking from right to left launches a settings panel. This panel shows a Share feature, which we assume means social networking is integrated more deeply into Windows 8.

Read on for more details and check out the video and let us know what you think.Another notable feature of Windows 8 is that you can snap an app to the side of the screen so that it takes up only a third or so of the screen, making it easier to multitask. You can also resize apps to make them larger. Speaking of larger apps, Microsoft says that web apps built using HTML 5 and JavaScript will be able to fill your Windows 8 PC's screen. The weather and Twitter apps Microsoft showed off at the D9 event look pretty slick. Yes, Windows 8 will run all standard Windows apps, too. This includes Internet Explorer 10, which is now fully touch optimized.

As you'll see in the video, Windows 8 will include two touch keyboards, one of which is split to make it more thumb friendly. Of course, you'll also have access to a full file system, but Windows 8 web apps will also have their own "file pickers," and you'll be able to easily access files across machines on your network.

Time will tell if this radical Windows 8 interface will win over consumers or if just comes across as a fancy skin. But this is definitely a promising start as far as we're concerned.

Responsible for the editorial vision for, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.