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The next Windows, 8 – radical change at last?

At last, an end to the tired old Windows interface, itself a poor derivation of the original Apple Mac and Xerox windowed interfaces. Yes, Windows 7 is quite slick and has some useful innovations, but it’s stuck in a 1980s paradigm.

Microsoft’s preview (video below) of the next version of Windows (for release perhaps in early 2012?) is a radical leap from Windows 7. It’s designed for touchscreen as well as conventional mouse/keyboard setups, and draws on the different ways we’re learning to use touchscreen devices such as iPads and smartphones.

Applications appear in tiles that you manipulate and navigate with fingers (on a touchscreen) or mouse (on a desktop). The file browser is replaced by an interface that bridges and combines different stores and sources of data. And you can still run traditional applications such as MS Office.

It’s just a preview so there’s no sense in a critique – but it’s promising. As Apple’s mouse OS X and touchscreen iOS converge into a single OS, can MS leapfrog them with a fresh start? Competition, when it gets through to Microsoft, can be a wonderful thing.