All things modern.
Windows 8 has been demonstrated for the first time by Microsoft and my thoughts are that it does look promising. As these previews always do, they cause more questions to be asked than answered. Here are my questions or rather areas of concern from a usability point of view.
At the core of any good operating system is the task manager. Windows 8 appears to offer 3 different ways to manage tasks. Firstly ‘each app has its own tile’. Pressing the windows logo on the hidden bar on the right of the screen brings up this tile view supposedly of all installed apps. This seems like a good idea as the user can see at a glance the most important information that each app wants to present. However this is only going to work for simplistic apps like weather or facebook. How a browser with several open tabs would represent its information is anybodys guess. We will have to wait and see how this one turns out.
The other task manager seems to essentially be a gimmick. This is pulling different open applications from the left side of the screen, and being able to dock one application with another running pseudo-full screen. This is all well and good if you have up to 3 apps running but any more than this and you will be flipping for a disproportionately long time to find the app you want to work on.
The third task manager is the traditional task bar. It would appear that to run traditional windows applications like word and excell the user must revert back to a Windows 7 like UI. This is ineficient as it creates an unessary discontinuity in the user experience. It would have been better if all open applications, including traditional windows applications were all represented by a tile in the tile view. A thumbnail could have been used similar to what is seen when a user hovers the application in the task bar of windows 7.
WIndows is indeed a powerful operating system with hoards of developers to write applications for it. There is no doubt that regardless of how imperfect Windows 8 turns out to be, that it will continue to be the mainstream operating system of choice for PCs. Windows will always have the advantage of being able to run actual productive applications like Office et al in order to create rather than consume content. In the tablet world however where content consumption is king, it remains to be seen is if the touch oriented side of Windows 8 is up to the user experience of QNX and WebOS which will hit the mainstream tablet market before Windows 8 does.