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GUI Microsoft Operating Systems Software Upgrades Windows Technology

Windows 8 Desktop 'Just Another App'? 375

Posted by timothy
from the let's-talk-now-about-bundling dept.
CWmike writes "Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live division, said this week that Windows 8 will let users treat the traditional desktop as 'just another app' that loads only on command. When it unveiled Windows 8's UI in June, Microsoft said it would feature a 'touch-first' interface to compete in the fast-growing tablet market. Underneath that, however, would be a traditional Windows-style desktop. 'Having both of [the] user interfaces [work] together harmoniously is an important part of Windows 8,' Sinofsky said in a blog post on Wednesday. The Metro-style UI — the one inspired by Windows Phone 7's tile-based design — will be the first to show up when a user boots a device. At that point, users reach a crossroads. 'If you want to stay permanently immersed in that Metro world, you will never see the desktop — we won't even load it (literally the code will not be loaded) unless you explicitly choose to go there,' Sinofsky said. 'If you don't want to do ... 'PC' things, then you don't have to and you're not paying for them in memory, battery life or hardware requirements.' If using a conventional PC with keyboard and mouse, Windows 8 users will run an 'app' to load the desktop, he said. 'Essentially, you can think of the Windows desktop as just another app.'"
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Windows 8 Desktop 'Just Another App'?

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  • Finally (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mensa Babe (675349) * on Thursday September 01, 2011 @01:54PM (#37277076) Homepage Journal
    Before anyone jumps on the band wagon and says that we all have perfectly usable [x.org] user space desktop apps for 28 years in the UNIX world, let me say that it is actually very important that now even Microsoft starts to understand that modularity is the way to go while designing complex systems. Moving various operating system components to the user space is just a logical conclusion of the research done during the last four decades. Look at the direction of modern OSii development, from MINIX [minix3.org] to GNU [gnu.org]. Started by GNOSIS [upenn.edu], KeyKOS [upenn.edu], EROS [eros-os.org] and Coyotos [coyotos.org] this trend seems to suggest that it is much more natural and reliable to design a secure capability [cap-lore.com]-based system when all of the services are separated from each other. Now when even Microsoft is going in that direction - and it is not a trivial change for them, trust me - we can expect Apple and other OS vendors to follow which is a Good Thing. After all, even if people like you and me are using secure operating systems we still don't want to get spammed and dossed by all of the legacy machines out there. It turns out that the rumors that Microsoft is starting to take the latest research in operating systems seriously turned out to be true. This is good news for everyone.
  • It already is (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01, 2011 @02:00PM (#37277164)

    Since the dawn of time, the Windows "Desktop" has always been an application. Before 95 it was progman. After, it was explorer. You've always been able to switch to a new shell with ini file or registry modifications.

  • Old news (Score:4, Informative)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @02:00PM (#37277166) Journal

    Explorer has always been "just an app". You can edit system.ini and replace 'SHELL=explorer.exe' with any other application. e.g. LiteStep, a MAME front end, XBMC, etc.

  • Re:Finally (Score:5, Informative)

    by EvanED (569694) <evaned.gmail@com> on Thursday September 01, 2011 @02:17PM (#37277444)

    ...even Microsoft starts to understand that modularity is the way to go while designing complex systems. Moving various operating system components to the user space is just a logical conclusion of the research done during the last four decades.

    MS has understood that longer than you think; in fact, Windows is rather better in that regard than Linux is. Vista in particular was a big turning point with the introduction of the usermode driver framework (UMDF), which put a lot drivers in userspace. (I'm not sure of the details, e.g. whether the UMDF is the only option if you're writing such a driver.) Heck, the first version of NT back in 1990-whatever even put the graphics driver in usermode: if your graphics driver crashed, the system would just restart it. (Graphics drivers were moved into the kernel for performance reasons and remain there now.)

    As for explorer, I don't think it's ever run in kernel mode. It's always been "just another app" from the system's perspective. You can even replace explorer with another desktop environment if you'd like; I remember running Litestep back in Windows 98.

    What this article is about is the user's perspective. The standard desktop is no longer going to be the first thing you see when you turn on or log onto your computer, and you'll have to explicitly start it.

    (And their new "tile" thing will continue to run in userspace.)

  • by tgd (2822) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @08:43PM (#37281720)

    Windows has always worked that way, since day one.

    Windows boots into NT mode, and starts win32. Win32 loads the display bits, and starts the various processes that manage winstations, and starts winlogon to manage your user sessions.

    Go into the registry, and you can boot every version of windows to a text prompt with no graphics at all.

    I find it funny on here when people talk about the things that Windows doesn't do or Linux does do, and 99% of the people talking about it have never pieced together a Linux system from scratch, or done the same with Windows. Having done both, I can tell you the two may be configured differently, but logically do a lot of the same things. And most of the guys I know (myself included) who are intimately familiar with both systems from the Kernel on out will tell you that Windows, at that level, is a lot more modern and sophisticated than Linux is.

    The things people call out as being "bad" in Windows tend to be the things that the billion people who use Windows expect to have. That's the reality of having customers to support.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.

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