Windows

10 predictions for Windows 8

Details on the next version of Windows are mostly nonexistent, but that doesn't mean we can't speculate about what it may offer. Brien Posey shares his ideas about possible features, changes, and Microsoft marketing strategies.

Although there have been numerous rumors regarding what we can expect from Windows 8, Microsoft has revealed very few concrete details. So I wanted to take the opportunity to present my predictions. Before I do however, I need to point out that most of these predictions are pure speculation on my part. I have no inside information from Redmond, nor do I claim to have a crystal ball.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: ARM support

The one firm detail that Microsoft has released is that Windows 8 will support the ARM architecture. ARM processors are common in various consumer electronics devices, and it seems clear that Microsoft is positioning itself to allow Windows 8 to run on PCs, tablets, and cell phones.

2: Separation from the server

Before the days of Windows XP, Windows Server and the Windows desktop clients were two completely different operating systems. In recent years, Microsoft has tried to cut development costs by designing its desktop and server operating systems to use the same kernel. Even so, I think we may see Microsoft make a departure from the strategy. In my opinion, Windows client operating systems (especially with the newly announced ARM support) are simply becoming too different from Windows Server operating systems. I think Microsoft will eventually have no choice but to resume completely separate development cycles. Whether this happens in the Windows 8 timeframe remains to be seen, though.

3: OS on a diet

For as long as I can remember, people have complained that Windows is an overly bloated operating system. Since Microsoft is going to design Windows 8 to run equally well on PCs and devices with ARM processors, I think that it will have no choice but to trim down the operating system.

Consumers have been driven to adopt tablets and other mobile devices because of their speed, simplicity, and the fact that they boot instantly. Windows 7 is far too bloated to meet any of these expectations. Therefore, if Microsoft wants to use Windows 8 on mobile devices, it will have to get rid of many of the things that make Windows 7 so bloated and inefficient.

4: Goodbye to 32-bit support

Even though there are rumors to the contrary, I expect Microsoft to do away with 32-bit support in Windows 8. Every PC that has been manufactured in the last several years includes a 64-bit processor. There is absolutely no reason why a brand-new operating system needs to continue to support legacy 32-bit hardware.

Whether Windows 8 will support 32-bit applications remains to be seen. In the previous item, I mentioned that Microsoft needs to design Windows 8 to make it less bloated and more efficient. One of the easiest ways Microsoft could do this would be to design the kernel so that it runs only 64-bit applications. However, there are still so many 32-bit applications in use, I think Microsoft will continue to provide support for those applications, even if it's not in a traditional way.

5: Virtual plug-ins

Believe it or not, I think that Windows 7 was actually a model for Windows 8 in some ways. As you will recall, Microsoft offers something called Windows XP mode in some editions of Windows 7. With Windows XP mode, Windows XP runs as a virtual machine, but in a rather unique way. Users can either use the Windows XP desktop or they can run applications transparently through the Windows 7 desktop, even though those applications are actually running on Windows XP.

I think that Microsoft may bring the same model to Windows 8. Rather than provide backward compatibility to legacy operating systems within the Windows a kernel, Microsoft may create virtual instances of legacy operating systems (including 32-bit operating systems) that function as plug-ins to Windows 8. This would be an ideal solution because this approach would help keep the Windows 8 kernel small and efficient, while still providing a means of achieving backward compatibility for those who need it.

6: Heavy reliance on the cloud

This past summer at TechEd in New Orleans, Microsoft placed extremely heavy emphasis on cloud computing. I don't expect Microsoft to completely abandon its cloud focus just because it has a new desktop operating system on the horizon. Instead, I look for Windows 8 to include heavy cloud integration. For example, I think that Windows 8 will probably provide the ability to make cloud applications appear to users as if they are installed and running locally.

7: Native support for virtualized apps

I think we can expect Windows 8 to offer native support for virtualized applications. Among these applications, I think Windows 8 will be designed to run Internet Explorer in a sandbox. This would help put an end to all the security issues that Microsoft has previously had with the browser, because virtualizing and sandboxing Internet Explorer would prevent malicious Web sites from infecting the core operating system. It may even be possible to reset Internet Explorer to a pristine state after each use.

8: A bigger distinction between consumer and enterprise versions

Ever since Windows XP, Microsoft has offered different editions of its desktop operating systems with at least one version geared toward consumers and another toward businesses. I think that in Windows 8, we will see a greater distinction between the consumer and enterprise editions than ever before.

If my prediction about the core operating system being small and efficient holds true, I think that Microsoft will market the lightweight OS to businesses as being more secure than previous versions of Windows because of its smaller footprint. At the same time, though, I doubt that Microsoft will be able to resist the temptation to load up the consumer version with unnecessary software, such as software to provide native support for Zune.

9: Using hardware to drive sales

One thing that was abundantly clear from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year is that the PC is in real trouble. Consumers have begun to shy away from purchasing desktops and laptops in favor of purchasing tablet devices. As a result, I look for Microsoft to use native operating system support for specialized hardware to try to woo customers back to the PC. For example, I think we will see an adaptation of Microsoft Kinect for the PC, which will allow interacting with the PC via hand gestures. Just how practical it will be to work with a PC in this manner remains to be seen, but I think it will make a great marketing gimmick.

10: Name change

Even though everyone has been using the name Windows 8, I don't think that will be the official name of the new operating system. At the moment, Microsoft has a serious image problem. It's perceived by many as being out of touch and late to the party. While other companies are focusing on tablets and mobile devices, Microsoft is still writing software for the PC. I think that in an effort to lose its dated image, Microsoft may rebrand Windows as something completely different. It might even lose the name Windows.

If you think this sounds farfetched, consider what recently happened with Microsoft Flight Simulator. Flight Simulator has been around for roughly 30 years, which puts its longevity more or less on par with Windows. Even so, Microsoft has announced that the next edition will be called Microsoft Flight. It is rebranding the product to try to change its image in order to attract gamers and not just pilots (or aspiring pilots).

Your predictions

Do you agree with the possibilities outlined here? Join the discussion and share your own Windows 8 prophesies.

About

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.

41 comments
bcjinsantafe
bcjinsantafe

Last time Microsoft decided to change the name of its os, we got Vista. I have a copy of that i keep in a safe so it cant get near my computers. I have a number of DOS programs i would love to be able to run, still. Fat chance. As a master criminal, or something like that, i don't want the world to be able to find me (even locate me) at any time. I have a cell phone i wont even use the camera on and usually forget to take with me. If i remember to take it, i forget to turn it on. Seeing so many people walking around in a daze, poking on a half a cigarette pack is somehow annoying. If people need me, they can talk to me at my convenience. My desktops/laptop are visible, have all the functions i need, and can be turned off. They are still running XP and Office 03 or Open Office on a 32 bit machine. Like people have mentioned, Microsoft is trying to build one giant os that is the equivalant of a swiss army knive, but just has multiple times more possiblity of things going wrong.

siekram15
siekram15

Now-a-days it???s a burning question that when the next version of Microsoft windows will be released and what will be the name. Rumors say that the time will be 2012 or 2013 and the name will be windows 8 as it is the next version of windows 7. People always have much expectation with the new operating system. Definitely windows 8 will bring some new and attractive features for the users. However, Microsoft hasn???t confirmed many things yet. From different sources some features are described below. It???s good news for the gamers that the new OS is bringing some new games. So gamers will get the opportunity of having new gaming experience. Windows 7 supports 32-bit and 64-bit processors. It is rumored that windows 8 will support 64-bit and 128-bit. But 128-bit processors will be costly for the average users at the time of releasing windows 8. So 128-bit processors may only be used in windows 8 servers. Windows 8 will support ARM processors. These processors are used in smart phones and tablets. Probably for these equipments mobile version of windows 8 will be released. So the windows OS will not be limited to the PC only. The new operating system will have built in security system which will block viruses from affecting system files. So consumer will have better safety. A new service DFSR or Distributed File System Replication will be there in the new OS for processing data in multiple networks. A new technology will be there for which a user will be able to operate his computer without using a mouse and a keyboard. He will give commands to PC by using his speech or eye movement. This is a very attractive feature. Many computer users are eagerly waiting for the new version of windows. They hope that it will be an innovative one. To know the latest and recent news about windows 8 visit http://www.windows8news.net

JHarrsch
JHarrsch

Microsoft needs to get a core kernel that is solid. All the rest should be customized at install time by hardware detect or advanced install options. Let the user/admin decide what features need to be installed.

platatomi
platatomi

Windows 8 will incorporate vast changes to the kernel, and to traditional features of Windows NT. I know from my experience with Windows 8 build 7850 that major changes were in effect as of 9/22/10 (amost 7 months ago) . These include: 1. Lack of Disk Defragmenter (this may suggest new filesystem technologies that dynamically defragment, or MS assumes most use will be on SSD based machines, which require no defragmentation) 2. Dynamic relocation of pagefile (changes made to pagefile take effect without rebooting, this suggests more flexible memory managment) 3. Changes to interface, Windows stays in Aero during Experience Rating and for User Permission Request 4. Titlebar text is now center justified, not left justified 5. Faster, Aero appears faster and more responsive than in Windows 7. As of 7850, Aero still supports older graphics cards, (I used a Geforce 6200)

jchurch2003
jchurch2003

if MS does not support VB6 in W8 then its customers should assume that this situation will continue to play out for applications written in later MS development tools as well. They will need to insure against this happening again and again in the future and the best way to do this is divorce themselves from MS operating systems altogether.

Chippy Minton
Chippy Minton

1. It will be late 2. It will be bloatware 3. It will be incomplete ("Service Packs...") 4. It will be sold on the basis of overdeveloped graphical fruit and veg while the underlying functional deficiencies will be ignored. 5. An awful lot of people won't be buying it, they'll just be forced into accepting it when they need a new pc. 6. It'll be the launchpad for a whole other bunch of MS bloatware. More of the same, really...

xgarciao
xgarciao

Mmmm... something sounds familiar here. Its been the same from the very start. Promises, promises and more promises. The worst about it? People still believe all the BS the MS marketing pricks come up with and thats why Bill will always be among the top 10 richest people on the planet.

rajeshskganesan
rajeshskganesan

this little network activity animation - was very use full when a web page hangs or when trying to monitor network activity at a glance ??? wonder why MS removed it ??? Just like how HP removed HDD activity light in Compaq c610 Laptop/notebook

cchandima
cchandima

They should think about the OS release time line also..Now itself only 3rd worlds countries jumping to the Windows 7...But now they are going to introduce the Windows 8 also...I t is a bad habit of Microsoft..

Orodreth
Orodreth

Pretty good article. Of course, you're talking about Microsoft which doesn't have a great track record for delivering features and upgrades. Really, Microsoft can say it'll deliver this in Win 8 until it doesn't. I welcome most 2-5 and 7, heavy emphasis on 2, 4. and 5 for the business side. I'd also welcome a move to just Home and Enterprise 64 bit editions. Both additions capable of virtual 32 bit hardware support. Older 32 bit cpu PCs used by mostly home end-users can run Linux or stay with 32bit versions.

jasondlnd
jasondlnd

In the early 1980s, The IBM computer was hailed as a complete solution...Much like the modern day Apple Computer, IBM would create the hardware and also the OS to run on it. Unlike Apple, however, IBM did not have an exclusive "lockdown" on their hardware, which meant that anyone, in theory could make an IBM-compatible computer (which, computer manufacturers did). If a manufacturer wanted their computer to be functional, however, they would need to pay to license the OS on said computer from IBM. Enter Microsoft. Microsoft provided a cheaper alternative to computer manufacturers who were already making IBM-compatible computers: DOS (and later, Windows). PC manufacturers began producing computers preloaded with Microsoft products, regardless of bugs or issues, because the licensing deals were just plain cheaper (and easier). Software began to head in the direction of Microsoft in those days, as well. Anyone could write software for a Microsoft OS without paying any sort of licensing or fees. In the PC world, Microsoft became the clear choice. Other companies faded away and floundered. Out of that era, Apple was one of the few survivors, due to their "hardware lockdown" on their products. Flash forward to 2011: Microsoft is still riding the Windows train with PC vendors on new products, but PCs aren't the only type of product that's available. Phones, tablets, lightweight laptops (i.e. MacBook Air), netbooks, and music players have taken center stage. These devices are loaded with either Linux, OSX, Windows XP (a product that is nearly a decade old), Android, or iOS. On the PC desktop, a lot of people are hanging on to their older hardware and OSes (such as Windows XP or 2000). The percentage of users who are are changing their OS on PCs are going in the direction of Windows 7, while others are installing Linux. Microsoft is at a floundering point, and even Steve Ballmer has said that "The next version of Windows will be Microsoft's biggest gamble". Perhaps it is time to unify the Microsoft OS into one version that runs everywhere, giving Microsoft the opportunity to appeal to hardware and software developers. Time will tell.

chepenguin
chepenguin

User are finding touch control intuitive and flexible. It is a subtle revolution in Human Interface Devices - the soft edge of IT hardware - that gives users more freedom and feel for the content they are either creating or consuming, and is native to Win7. I see a similar thing happening very shortly with Kinect style (or rather camera based) hands-free control,

kamusky1
kamusky1

There are some very interesting features mentioned here, specially native support for virtualized apps and the sandboxing of internet explorer would make a big difference in performance, reliability and security of the OS. Another one that I would suggest is the ability of starting the services "on demand", just when we really need and in other case maintain them disabled to avoid a more robust OS than necessary. The change of name??....No way!!! Windows It's one of the most known trademarks in the world, it's like to change name Coca Cola for another one.

eboyhan
eboyhan

The notion that Windows' bloat is under Microsoft's control is in many ways misplaced. MS is hostage to its success -- particularly with large enterprise customers. Similar to OSs developed in the past by IBM (MVS), DEC (VMS), and Sun (Solaris) feature bloat is an unavoidable fact of life as MS listens carefully to the very real needs of its very largest customers. The notion that a business version of Windows 8 would be lean and mean just flies in the face of the realities of the enterprise marketplace -- there are very many necessary enterprise-scale features that will dictate a bloated code base. BTW since the days of NT, desktop and server versions of windows have been crafted off of a single code base. Different development teams and client/server release schedule offsets have created an impression of difference between the desktop and server versions of windows that is more apparent than real. To the extent that Android or Chrome gain traction in the enterprise space, expect them to bulk up as well. Some, such as Paul Thurott go so far as to suggest that MS get out of the consumer business all together. I think MS has had some success in this space (Xbox, Kinect), but they also have done a good job of aggressively attempting to innovate in the enterprise space with windows, and the server products that sit on top of it. Trying to be all things to all people is fraught with peril.

novaris
novaris

I do have to say with the new windows 7 releases Microsoft Has made leaps and bounds with there new flagship operating system there is still many many draw backs to it like the inadiquate support for device drivers for devices like laptops (my HP/Compaq NX9600) and Other Handheld Devices. I think it is safe to say that the operating system needs to be more device friendly.... in ALL versions of windows they are released BUGGY requiring numerous patches and hot fixes and for some taking hours to download the required updates can we just call it....... Microsoft Windows 8 Virused

DancesWithFools
DancesWithFools

Hi, I heard a rumour that supposedly came out of Microsoft skunk works that the next OS will not be a platform based OS. If the saying ???If it can go in the cloud it will go in the cloud??? comes true then this will be the way they go. Cloud based operating systems running on any device that can provide network connectivity with rental agreements for a multitude of software installed on the cloud OS. May cut down on software piracy don???t you think?

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

The biggest of the otherwise obvious [and some useless] predictions is whether 32-bit support will live on in "Windows 8". I believe it will as native 64-bit is still quite non-existant. Open your Program Files (x86) and you will see it loaded with applications. Microsoft has promised [lack of better words?] and I can't see them changing their policy on something so critical for developers when "Windows 8" could be released within 2 years.

john3347
john3347

Since XP hit the market, there have been huge compromises required on both server side and desktop side (aka home user and enterprise user) of the computer user population. Products for the two groups need to be developed totally separately from each other by specialists in each field. This need is so conspicuous that we cannot have any hope of Microsoft actually doing such.

ed.adams
ed.adams

Absent so far in this is the subscription model. I think they will move to that as a part of moving towards the cloud.

douglas.gernat
douglas.gernat

If one edition were to suit all operating environments (home, work, both), I don't see a possible way to lighten up the bloat of the OS by much, simply due to the number of technologies that differ between those environments. I look to Microsoft to begin the devlopment cycle for business editions in lock-step with servers, and home editions in their own development cycle.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Not after all the screaming and kicking that's still going on trying to run 32 bit apps on 64 now. Whether we'll get less versions (please !!!!) is a sales issue, not a technical one. There's already a huge effective divide between server and workstation, I fail to see how formalising it (again) will make any real difference. Less bloat, in your dreams... I can't for the life of me see what cloud has to do with anything about an OS, the applications you get with it, may be, but given the huge interdependencies (see bloat!) already in the OS, that would be a radical redesign, and a major departure from MS's traditional model. Bye bye registry, if only... I predict that MS will do at least 10 things that will make our job a lot harder...

TNT
TNT

I think despite the increasing number of versions with Windows 7, the goal is to bring it down to 2 versions: desktop and server. To differentiate "home" from "business" users will download apps from the cloud. Some apps will be free, like the Live apps and Zune for home users, and some will be pay-to-play like bit-locker, Outlook, etc. My belief for this rests in the abilities of the current Home Premium package which finally includes some of the features previously found only in Business, The Windows moniker has too much brand recognition to abandon. If they leverage the name with a fresh look and marketing campaign they can overcome the negatives. Look at Cingular's take over of AT&T, then their return to the AT&T name because the brand recognition was so much better. Honda still offers the Civic after 40 years, and Toyota the Tercell. There are reasons some names remain the same. Windows sales are still good enough to keep the brand name alive.

Slayer_
Slayer_

No more, home, ultimate, pro, business, etc. One disc should fit all (with the exception of server).

SerrJ215
SerrJ215

I can see the loss of 32bit, that???s just something that has to happen eventually. You look for a new pc now off the rack you will be hard pressed to find one running 32. I am not sure about the heavy reliance on the cloud, I mean the new Chrome OS is going to be almost entirely cloud based I would think that Microsoft would like to give us an alternative. Also I still like using real apps with real customizations. There are times that to get work done I do have to get away from the internet. I mean why work on that spread sheet when puzzle pirates is calling you. I would like to see just two flavors of Windows. Home and business, I have Windows 7 pro but a lot of the stuff that I would like to use on networks stations are only available in Windows 7 ultimate and enterprise. (Bit locker, App-locker, booting from a VHD) Just most of my clients can???t afford the extra cost of an Ultimate license for each station and couldn???t afford a MS volume license. (Hell most of my clients are still running XP and will until the stations die) As for the difference between the home and business versions, the gap can???t be too great that an upgrade is impossible, why? Well many smaller companies try to cut cost by buying computers off the rack at office stores. Witch by default they come with the home version of the OS. (mostly to make the price tag look better) Then they hit the wall when they try to get them onto a domain. Also there are a lot of business that only need one or two stations that the home versions can and do work. A lot of computers start their lives off as the family machine to turn into the unit that runs the home business. So we make too much of separation between the home and business offerings soon there will be software out there that will work with one and not the other. Great if it???s the new Halo, bad if it???s the new QuickBooks. I would love to see the end of the registry (yea I know that won't happen) Havening separate drive partitions natively for OS and data would be good. As for the name, they could call it Windows "Potato" for all I care as long as they don't try to mimic a mac.

xgarciao
xgarciao

Google "network activity indicator" and you'll find a little app from some guys called IT Samples that I think you will love.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Most of MS's commercial success is diown to deliberately choosing bloat. Code bloat because they went monolithic, and feature bloat because time to market is quicker with a monolithic architecture, until the wheels start to come off. Of course if you hit the market earlier than the competition and tie it you then you pass that cost on to your customers. MS aren't the victims we are, only the completely ignorant would 'want' a browser built into their operating system for instance.

novaris
novaris

and no 32-bit support has microsoft lost there minds?? I'm sure that they have since roughly 60 percent of the computers still in service are 32-bit hmmm its not looking good for us but it is looking good for big name companies like AMD and Intel I'm not saying that our technological advances are a bad thing by no means I'm a geek from birth some 30 odd years ago ad have we made some advances since the TSR-80 and the apple II what can i say theres pros and cons to everything just wish it didn't cost us so much to keep up to date

Slayer_
Slayer_

The internet. A large portion of the world is not on high speed internet, the cloud is useless to them.

SirWizard
SirWizard

Let's see how much Microsoft loves 64-bit apps. Try the main (nearly-OS level) app, Internet Explorer. Run 64-bit Internet Explorer 8 and access its Internet Options dialog box. On the Programs tab under Default web browser, read the message: "Internet Explorer (64-bit) cannot be the default browser." So maybe it's because Adobe still hasn't released 64-bit Flash for Windows, blah, blah, blah. Regardless of hardware, we're a long way from 64-bit going mainstream in the OS and software.

TNT
TNT

Apple has one desktop OS and one Server OS, it doesn't matter if you're a home or enterprise user, and I think Microsoft could do the same. If they sold the core operating system in the box, they could then allow customization of windows to take place in the cloud. Need Remote Desktop? Go download it. Need a mail program? No problem, the Live suite is right there on line. In this way they could drastically reduce bloat (though the fact that it runs on so many different kinds of hardware means there will always be some bloat).

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I thought it did. I thought the DVD contained everything necessary to install any version, and that the version installed was determined by the product key.

rajeshskganesan
rajeshskganesan

this is what i have been looking for, thank you... :-)

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Apple has a "preview" of the Flash player for 64-bit Windows and it's expected to be included in the 10.2 version of the player. [The preview is in Adobe's "Labs" web site. Tried it. No issues that I could see.] Microsoft on purposely set IE 64-bit not to bre the defauilt browser at least until there are 64-bit addons that are available [not just Flash]. IE ain't Microsoft's primary app show me where Microsoft said that?]. Meanwhile Office 2010, SQL Server 2008 R2, Exchange Server [since 2007] and others have either both editions or exclusively 64-bit. Gone are the spreadsheet limitations [and I know one of two who had to switch to the 64-bit version because they were reaching the 32-bit limitation]. Of course you also have other 64-bit apps from Microsoft such as Windows Security Essentials.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Of course Apple has one desktop edition. It doesn't have to be concerned about joining a domain or any other centralized management features. Home users don't need the extra baggage of enterprise editions [although I did a test and I found that the Windows 7 Starter edition uses a wopping 5MB of less memory than the Pro edition]. Most bloating in Windows occurs with all the crap that third party manufacturers dump into Windows [I don't thing Macs have the same issue]. You buy a HP MFP and install it in Windows and the next time you boot up, you have at least 6 applications loaded related to that MFP.

jasondlnd
jasondlnd

It's iOS and flash that don't mix. Flash runs just fine on the Mac.

ultimitloozer
ultimitloozer

"Apple has a "preview" of the Flash player for 64-bit Windows..." Umm... I really doubt that one. Apple and Flash just don't mix.

ultimitloozer
ultimitloozer

The HP issue you mention is easily remedied by NOT using the disc included with the device. Go to the web and download the driver-only package and their automatic updater application. Install both of those and ignore everything else. Problem solved. The Windows bloat exists before you start installing all of this other stuff though. Most installs of Win7 that I have seen without all of the third party crap still results in the OS consuming more than 1GB of drive space. The last installation of Win7 Ultimate on my system alone consumed nearly 2GB after the OS patching was completed.