The new Windows 8 operating system is receiving a bit of a facelift, at least where it concerns the start screen. The new start screen will provide access to programs via tiles rather than icons. To open a particular program the user will click tiles. Tiles are different from icons in that they can also include a display of real-time information. A tile can be used to access email services while displaying the number of new emails waiting to be viewed. The technology behind the tiles provides the potential to be very large, a quality which lends itself to touch screen devices. As touch based mobile devices become ubiquitous, developing software and other applications to look, feel, and behave best in the mobile environment has to be included in Microsoft’s long-term plans. Full sized monitors will also benefit from metro-style applications.

Metro Tiles

Metro-style apps will continue to include support for the full use of a keyboard and mouse but also fully support touch based monitors. Metro-style apps are perfect for touch based devices but work similarly well with traditional Windows interfaces, provided the screen on your given device has a resolution of at least 1024×768. Microsoft is attempting to keep Windows relevant to traditional desktop computer users and the growing number of mobile users, both in the home setting or the world of business computing. Transitioning from classic Windows applications to new metro-style applications will leave Microsoft in the position to cater to a wide range of consumer markets and Microsoft designed the new OS to communicate seamlessly to further aid in transition to Windows 8.

With the release of Windows 8 Microsoft is clearly indicating their interest in mobile technology. Windows 7 was under utilized by mobile device manufacturers in large part because it was not particularly well designed for use with touch screen devices. Window 8 and metro-style apps have been designed to work best in a touch screen environment. Classic Windows applications will remain functional with Windows 8 but they do not represent the direction Microsoft is moving, indeed they may have no choice but to move. Due simply to consumer demands for touch based devices and touch based applications, availability of both have sky rocketed this year and sales of said devices are poised to repeat recent growth in the next twelve months.

Windows 7 will be fully supported for the foreseeable future but there can be no mistaking the shift in Microsoft’s overall computing strategy to include wholehearted interest in mobile technology. Classic Windows application development is not disappearing overnight or in the near future but metro-style apps aren’t going anywhere either and they look to be fully integrated into Microsoft’s vision of computing for the next generation.