February 20, 2012

Windows 8 Updates

Over on the Windows 8 Blog and the Windows Team Blog, many of the new features are being discussed as details trickle out. Two of the newest items announced yesterday and today are the newly designed logo, and the greater integration with the cloud-based Windows SkyDrive.

On the new logo, Microsoft has laid down some principals that tie it to the new Metro user interface, saying:

With Windows 8, we approached the logo redesign with a few key goals on mind.

1. We wanted the new logo to be both modern and classic by echoing the International Typographic Style (or Swiss design) that has been a great influence on our Metro style design philosophy. Using bold flat colors and clean lines and shapes, the new logo has the characteristics of way-finding design systems seen in airports and subways.

2. It was important that the new logo carries our Metro principle of being “Authentically Digital”. By that, we mean it does not try to emulate faux-industrial design characteristics such as materiality (glass, wood, plastic, etc.). It has motion – aligning with the fast and fluid style you’ll find throughout Windows 8.
3. Our final goal was for the new logo to be humble, yet confident. Welcoming you in with a slight tilt in perspective and when you change your color, the logo changes to reflect you. It is a “Personal” Computer after all.

It’s clear that Microsoft is declaring a war on skeuomorphs for Windows 8, which has been one of the most positive aspects (and lauded benefits) of the new Windows Phone interface.

The SkyDrive team is also embracing the Metro UI with a new application that will allow SkyDrive access as fundamental to the operating system. It’s a radical change, and one that carries with it huge benefits to some of the common problems plaguing enterprises these days: what to do about user data?

In the past, corporations could implement a few technologies to “virtualize” user data and keep it secure and backed up. The effort to do so was fairly intense, and with the ever increasing sizes of laptop hard drives, keeping pace in the corporate data center was difficult. Add on top the central issue: if a staff member wanted to bring music from home to listen to at work, was there enough storage space for personal files?

The answer, of course, was no.

With Windows 8 + SkyDrive, the consumerization of IT has come full circle: now instead of worrying about where my data is living, I can simply keep all of it on SkyDrive and have it available from any computer I happen to log into. With the added features of Mesh, even remote access to alternate computers is possible (secured, natively, by a two-factor authentication system tied to your cell phone).

Finally, developers will also be able to rely upon SkyDrive, meaning that apps looking to store files can finally do so without dependence upon a particular hardware device, which will be a huge boon for even greater applications. It sounds hyperbolic, but the days of worrying about data loss may be coming to an end.

 

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