They Have A Cunning Plan
When Microsoft released Windows XP, most of us used desktops. Windows Vista came out as the laptop took prominence. Windows 7 arrived to be surrounded by pesky snapping netbooks and now, in the Enterprise 2.0 era, it is possible that the tablet or phone will be how many of us work in 2012.
That's when Microsoft might be unveiling its next operating system to partners and customers. In this environment, it will have to be a flexible animal, just one thing revealed in a collection of leaked confidential documents that have found their way to the Web.
We Want New and Shiny
From simple-sounding features like faster boot-ups, to smart connectivity with whatever networks are around and the ability to reinstall a clean version of the operating system without losing your data or apps, there are plenty of ideas across the documents.
Windows 8 will run on slates/tablets/notebooks and the next gen of desktops.
For businesses and developers, it's interesting to note the line "Enterprise and personal worlds collide: We will help customers have a seamless experience across their personal and professional lives" which suggests something along the lines of unified in-boxes, location awareness and other features.
Content consumption is also high on the agenda, currently the operating system gets in the way more than it helps in this respect. It is not hard to envisage widgets, web slices and other innovations merging to become just "your content," wherever and however you want it.
Business is King
One of the documents focuses on how business will look in the near future. "The ecosystem is king" proclaims one bullet while affirming the need to support all users, whatever their system from the lowest laptop to the latest desktop monsters.
It also highlights the current trinity of Windows, Windows Live and Internet Explorer. We've just seen how the next IE9 version is coming along and Windows Live is also getting new updates, leaving just the OS part of the puzzle to solve.
Come Into Our Store
One of the most welcome places for businesses will be an official store, similar to Apple's App Store, where developers can sign up and sell their apps online. From sole traders to enterprises, this could become a vibrant marketplace across the whole Windows environment from home to office.
Finally, to be filed in the "if there's time" category, elements like a 3D interface, rebuilt user interface and camera-recognition for log on, plus other sensors like proximity to interact with the user are all mentioned. These elements are what could make up the "next-gen" part of the next operating system.
It will be very interesting to see which features from this document make it into the final OS.