Microsoft unveils touch-oriented Windows 8

Microsoft calls it a 'reimagining' of Windows that will run on everything from small devices to large-screen PCs (see video below)

Microsoft today showed the next version of its Windows OS at a press event in Taipei, unveiling a completely new tile-based interface that it hopes will be better suited for the emerging world of tablet PCs.

Microsoft called it a "reimagining" of Windows that will run on all types of devices from small, touch-sensitive screens to traditional large-screen PCs, and that can be used with or without a keyboard and mouse.

It is intended partly to improve Microsoft's position in the emerging tablet PC market, where Windows 7 has struggled to compete effectively with operating systems from Google and Apple. But the new interface is intended for use on all types of PCs.

Microsoft showed several prototype systems on stage running the software, including tablets, laptops and all-in-one PCs. The new interface is a significant departure from the traditional Windows desktop that Microsoft has relied on for decades.

The start screen now has several large, colored application icons that look similar to those on Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 OS. Tapping an icon with a finger launches the application and allows it to take up the entire screen, without the usual Windows menus, system tray and scroll bars around the edges of the screen.

"The application comes quickly to life as Windows fades to the background," said Michael Angiulo, corporate vice president of Windows planning, hardware and ecosystem, who demonstrated the new software here.

"The tiles on the start screen are live -- they represent your people, your applications, your contacts, the information you care the most about," he said. "You can group them, arrange them and name them as you like, so that first start screen experience is really personal."

The application tiles display new information from the Web automatically, such as Twitter and e-mail messages, or news items from a news reader, he said.

These Web-friendly applications, which Microsoft calls tailored apps, are built on a new Windows 8 development platform and relies heavily on Internet Explorer 10, which will ship with the new OS, and also on HTML 5, Javascript and CSS.

Microsoft showed the next version of its Windows operating system at a press event in Taipei, unveiling a new tile-based interface that it hopes will be better suited for the emerging world of tablet PCs.

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