Windows 8 Windows 8 is the next version of Microsoft Windows, a family of operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablet PCs, servers, and media center PCs. It adds support for ARM microprocessors in addition to the traditional x86 microprocessors from Intel and AMD. Its user interface has been changed to make it better suited for touchscreen input in addition to the traditional mouse, keyboard, and pen input. Microsoft has not yet announced a ship date for Windows 8, although some major media outlets speculate it might be available in late 2012. History and development Early announcements In January 2011, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft announced that Windows 8 would be adding support for ARM microprocessors in addition to the traditional x86 microprocessors from Intel and AMD. Milestone leaks A 32-bit Milestone 1 build, build 7850, with a build date of September 22, 2010, was leaked to BetaArchive, an online beta community, which was soon leaked to P2P/torrent sharing networks on April 12, 2011. Milestone 1 includes a ribbon interface for Windows Explorer, a PDF reader called Modern Reader, an updated task manager called Modern Task Manager, and native ISO image mounting. A 32-bit Milestone 2 build, build 7927, was leaked to The Pirate Bay on August 29, 2011  right after many pictures leaked on BetaArchive the day before.  Features of this build are mostly the same as build 7955. A 32-bit Milestone 2 build, build 7955, was leaked to BetaArchive on April 25, 2011.  Features of this build included a new pattern login and a new file system known as Protogon. A 64-bit Milestone 3 build, build 7959, was leaked to BetaArchive on May 1, 2011.  This build is notable for being the first publicly leaked Windows Server 8 build, as well as the first leaked 64-bit build. A Milestone 3 build, build 7971, was released to close partners of Microsoft on March 29, 2011 but was kept under heavy security. However, a few screenshots were leaked. The "Windows 7 Basic" theme now uses similar metrics to the Aero style, but maintains its non- hardware accelerated design, and also supports taskbar thumbnails. The boxes that encase the "close, maximize, and minimize" buttons have been removed, leaving just the signs.  A 64-bit Milestone 3 build, build 7989, leaked to BetaArchive on June 18, 2011 after screenshots were revealed the previous day. An SMS feature, a new virtual keyboard, a new bootscreen, transparency in the basic theme, geo-location services, Hyper-V 3.0, and PowerShell 3.0 were revealed in this build. Official announcements At the Microsoft Developer Forum in Tokyo on May 23, 2011, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that the next version of Windows will be released the following year (in 2012).  "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." However, the company quickly corrected Ballmer's words in a company statement issued that afternoon. "It appears there was a misstatement. We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year. To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows." On June 1, 2011, Microsoft officially unveiled Windows 8 and some of its new features at the Taipei Computex 2011 in Taipei (Taiwan) by Mike Angiulo and at the D9 conference in California (United States) by Julie Larson-Green and Microsoft's Windows President Steven Sinofsky. The main feature that was shown was the new user interface. On August 15, 2011, Microsoft opened a new blog called 'Building Windows 8' for users and developers. Build conference and developer preview Microsoft unveiled new Windows 8 features and improvements on September 13, 2011, day one of the BUILD developer conference. Microsoft also released a Developer Preview build (Build 8102) of Windows 8 for the developer community to download and start working with. This developer preview includes tools for building "metro style apps", such as Microsoft Windows SDK for Metro style apps, Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows 8 Developer Preview and Microsoft Expression Blend 5 Developer Preview.  Microsoft has shown a development roadmap at the BUILD conference stating that the coming milestones will be Beta, Release Candidate, RTM, and general availability. According to Microsoft, there were more than 500,000 downloads of the Windows 8 Developer Preview within the first 12 hours of its release.  New features Windows 8 will contain a new user interface based on Microsoft's design language named Metro. With the new change, the Start Menu was replaced in favor for the new Start Screen, where there are tiles that contain shortcuts to applications, Metro style applications, and updating tiles, similar to Windows Phone. A new authentication method allows users to sketch in three different places over the picture to login, instead of typing a password.  Windows Explorer now uses a ribbon interface, similar to those used in Microsoft Office applications. Another feature expected to be introduced in Windows 8 is USB 3.0 support. Windows 8 will come with Windows Store, an online market place for buying, selling, and advertising applications. Windows 8 can be run from a USB-connected drive, such as a flash drive. This feature is called Windows To Go. Windows 8 will support multiple monitors with the new ability to natively display different background images on each display and customized taskbar(s) on each of the connected displays. The Developer Preview comes with two new recovery functions. Namely, Refresh and Reset, which both make a complete restore easier than a re-installation. The former keeps all the settings and files of the user intact and only reverses all changes to Windows files to its original state while removing all installed programs and apps. The latter deletes all files and effectively re-installs Windows, but without any additional user input such as agreeing to license agreements or selecting a hard disk required. After a reset completes, the user will be asked for the product key and will then proceed to account creation.  One big change is that user accounts do not have to be local-only anymore but can be linked up to one's Windows Live ID. This has the advantage that users will not lose their settings and files as they move from their home computer to their work laptop or to any other computer also using Windows 8. Other new features include a new Welcome screen,  a new packaged application model called AppX that is based on Silverlight, and Open Packaging Conventions, as well as a setting to automatically adjust window color to fit the wallpaper.  There is also a stripped down "Immersive" version of Internet Explorer, similar to the mobile version of Internet Explorer, but using the desktop Trident rendering engine and a new "Hybrid Boot" option that uses "advanced hibernation functionality" on shutdown to allow faster startup times. The Immersive Version of Internet Explorer 10 does not support ActiveX plugins, in order to be a HTML5-only browser. The Desktop version of IE10 does support ActiveX plugins. Hardware requirements The system requirements for the Windows Developer Preview (a pre-release version of Windows 8) are similar to those of Windows 7. Minimum hardware requirements for Windows Developer Preview Architecture 32-bit 64-bit Processor 1 GHz x86 processor 1 GHz x86-64 processor Memory (RAM) 1 GB 2 GB DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 Graphics Card (Not absolutely necessary; only required for Aero hardware acceleration) HDD free space 16 GB of free disk space 20 GB of free disk space A multi-touch screen is also required to take advantage of touch input. For Metro applications, a screen resolution of 1024x768 or higher is required. Compatibility With regards to backward compatibility, old x86 applications for Windows 7 (and earlier versions) will not work on computers based on ARM architecture; they will have to be ported. Windows 8 Developer Preview is incompatible with some virtualization platforms, such as Virtual PC. A blog post by Microsoft notes that the setup process is error-prone when installing in a virtual machine, and installing without hardware virtualization enabled can be particularly problematic. Multi-boot concerns There has been some concern about the UEFI secure boot feature, which Microsoft may require for hardware to be given Windows 8 certification.  The manufacturer is free to choose which licenses are accepted by the feature. However, Microsoft has announced that manufacturers who will not enable the feature by default may not qualify as "Windows Certified". It is up to the manufacturers whether to offer the ability to turn off the secure boot feature.  Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky has attempted to address the issue in a blog post . Meanwhile, Linux Australia began petitioning the competition commission. The commission responded with "The situation you described may raise issues of exclusive dealing, but it is unclear from the details provided whether it would be likely to meet the competition test described."