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What do you get when you cross a smartphone with your computer? I’m not sure, but I’d bet it would look a whole lot like the new and upcoming Windows 8. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a screen shot of the new Windows 8 “Metro” interface:

The word on the street is that you will either love it or hate it, with accompanying groans of dismay coming from the haters and giddy enthusiasm erupting from the lovers. The user interface will largely be through touch-screen operation (a la Tom Cruise in the movie Minority Report), with support for gestures, a mouse, and a stylus.

To get a better feel for it, check out this video from DigitalTrends.com. They put it together in March 2012, shortly after receiving a preview copy of the software. The video was shot on the fly in a hotel room in Barcelona, so it’s not as slick as some videos. Fitting for demoing a product that is still very rough and unfinished at this point – you’ll see that many features don’t yet work properly. Before you get too freaked out by this vision of the next version of Windows, I was happy to see at about the 2:50 point in the video that there is still access to the traditional Windows desktop interface (big sigh of relief). When the demonstrator starts to manipulate the Metro interface at about the 4 minute mark, I started getting excited about ease of use. Think “apps” — lots of highly customizable apps. So here’s the video. My apologies in advance for the mandatory 30 second commercial at the start:

When, you ask, will Windows 8 be the standard on new machines, and when will we no longer be able to get Windows 7. Good question. Microsoft hasn’t said yet.

Needless to say, this is a radical departure from “business as usual” and it will take some getting used to, but I’m hopeful that when we take the plunge we will wonder how we ever got along without it.

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