Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has confirmed that tablets and PCs will get their first taste of Windows 8 action in 2012. Speaking at the Microsoft Developers Forum in Japan, Ballmer stressed how Windows 8 was to be compatible with multiple devices, and more intuitive than any previous version of the operating system.
“We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows,” he said.
“Windows 7 PCs will sell over 350 million units this year. We’ve done a lot in Windows 7 to improve customer satisfaction. We have a brand new user interface. We’ve added touch, and ink, and speech.
“And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.”
Ballmer didn’t go into specifics on how the cross-device OS would work, but spoke of a new “natural user interface” that suggested Windows 8 would be written from scratch in order to accomodate tocuh friendly devices too.
“This is the notion that we really want to speak, wave and gesture, touch and mark on our computing devices,” continued Ballmer.
“We want smart devices to work the way we work, to recognize us and our actions. Speech recognition, vision, handwriting recognition, touch interfaces, these are all part of the theme.”
Ballmer then went on to discuss the idea of “natural language” within Windows 8, that commands should be as simple and intuitive to carry out as simply having a chat with your PC.
“We’re really asking ourselves the question, can we let you control your computing environment by expressing intent instead of specific commands.Today on a PC, it’s file open, blah, blah, blah, respond, reply, forward. I can’t just say to my device, get me ready for my trip to Tokyo.
“With natural language, whether it’s in English, or Japanese, or any one of a number of other languages, you should be able to command the computer with your intent, and have it take action.”
Ballmer also revealed that there are some 500 new features planned for Windows Phone 7 devices.