Microsoft previews Windows 8

Microsoft has offered the first official glimpse into the next version of Windows. It is looking to build an OS that will work not only on traditional PCs but also on smaller devices such as a touchscreen-driven tablet. The design borrows heavily from the tile-based interface now seen on Windows Phone 7.

“Our aim with ‘Windows 8’ is to make the user experience a natural extension of the device, from the time you turn on your PC through how you interact with the applications you know and love,” Mike Angiulo, corporate vice president of Windows Planning, Hardware and PC Ecosystem at Microsoft said. “This represents a fundamental shift in Windows design that we haven’t attempted since the days of Windows 95, presenting huge opportunities for our hardware partners to innovate with new PC designs.”

Among some of the changes are a new start screen with live tiles, a new type of application built around HTML 5 and Javascript, and an interface (including a split soft keyboard) focused on making it easier to use touch input but still fully supporting mouse and keyboard).

Microsoft has yet to provide an official release date but Windows 8 is expected to be released in late 2012.