Windows Forum Admin
Big News for Those Anticipating Windows 8! It's being covered all over the news now.
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer on Monday confirmed that Windows 8, the next iteration of the software giant's operating system, will be available in 2012.
Speaking at a Microsoft Developer Forum in Tokyo today, Ballmer said Microsoft is "obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows."
"As we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there's a whole lot more coming," he continued. "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."
A variety of rumors regarding Windows 8 have popped up on the Internet in recent months, but Microsoft has yet to confirm any particular features it will add to the OS. While Ballmer didn't go into detail about what Windows 8 users will see, he did outline several areas into which Microsoft is committed to investing.
One of those areas is the natural user interface, or "the notion that we really want to speak, wave and gesture, touch and mark on our computing devices," Ballmer said. Microsoft wants your device to recognize you and your actions, like Kinect does for gaming (and your Netflix and Hulu queues).
To that end, Microsoft is also focusing on natural language. "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," Ballmer said. " We ought to make it so that the search engines, and the user interface of the device can take actions on our behalf."
And, of course, there's the cloud. "Skype is just another representation of what we think is the importance of enabling a broad range of scenarios in the cloud," he said of Microsoft's recent acquisition.
Expect to hear more about the future of Windows at the "D: All Things Digital" conference next week in California. All Things D just confirmed that Microsoft's Windows president, Steven Sinofsky, will appear at the conference, which runs from May 31 to June 2.
Ballmer also talked up Windows Phone and the expected 500 new features that the next upgrade will bring. Microsoft is expected to unveil more details about that upgrade, codenamed Mango, at a press event in New York on Tuesday. It will be webcast live on Microsoft's Web site at 10am Eastern time.
Ballmer also reiterated that Microsoft has "some work to do" when it comes to tablets, but stressed that "there will be a day in the future where it will be hard to distinguish a phone from a slate, from a PC."
"You literally will have displays that become paper thin and very easy to fold out form your phone," he concluded. "And at the same time, you're going to get more and more PC-like capabilities in smaller form factor devices."
If you're so inclined, Ballmer also encouraged users to email him with questions (SteveB@Microsoft.com); perhaps he'll turn up some Steve Jobs-esque responses?
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.