No one knows what exactly the next version of Windows will look like, or even what it will be called. Internally it's called Windows.Next, but Microsoft developers refer to it as Windows 8 on LinkedIn. The details we have come from LinkedIn, the portfolio of a developer at Microsoft India R&D, a official statements and presentations by Microsoft and slides supposedly leaked by an HP engineer responsible for OEM relations. Together, these pieces begin to form a picture of what the next generation of Microsoft's operating system will look like.
Let's take a look at some of what may be in the next version.
1. 128-Bit Support
In 2009, PCPro reported that a Microsoft developer mentioned on his LinkedIn profile that he was working on 128-bit compatibility for Windows 8 and 9. Considering how slow the adoption of 64-bit operating systems has been, we doubt 128-bit support will be a game changer for anyone but those needing high-end computing resources.
2. 3D Support
Last year a Microsoft enthusiast Francisco Martin posted the slides from a presentation on Windows 8. He claimed they came from an HP engineer in charge of vendor relations. Martin's website has been taken down, but you can still view some of the Neowin and TechRadar.
According to the slides addressing multimedia, Windows 8 will include support for 3D. Companies like Lenovo already offer laptops with 3D displays and HTC just announced the EVO3D smartphone with glasses-less 3D support, so this may be old hat by the time the OS actually comes out.
3. App Store
Microsoft will also jump on the desktop app store bandwagon, according to another slide. Microsoft already has a Windows Phone 7 store, so this will likely be an extension. Tech Radar reports that one slide said: "Currently the indication is that app development will move to the Web. There is significant opportunity for Microsoft if hardware capabilities, and OS services and Web could be integrated into a hobbyist developer toolset."
4. ARM support (Meaning: Tablet Support)
Microsoft officially announced ARM support earlier this year. That might sound boring, but what it really means is that Windows 8 will run on tablet computers, and maybe even smart phones. Tablets were also pictured in the slides.
5. Facial Recognition
Another one from the slides is facial recognition for logging in. Apparently, the OS will be able to switch user profiles automatically based on who is looking at the screen. This is another feature already available for Windows through third-parties.
6. Faster Startup Time
According to the slides, Microsoft is working boosting its startup speed. It will accomplish this with a new feature called "Log-off and hibernate," which will cache system components but still shut down applications and reload the desktop. This seems like a must-do, considering the startup speed of ChromeOS, OSX on the Macbook Air and "instant-on" operating systems like Splashtop (see our coverage).