Revolution - or evolution?

When the history of 21st-Century tech is written, this will either be remembered as the day Microsoft began to fade into obscurity - or the day they began their return to domination.

The big M has taken a lot of stick in the last 18 months, since the launch of the iPad, for their apparent lack of a tablet strategy. The company insisted that rather than emulating Apple's strategy of putting mobile phone software on a tablet, they'd prefer to squeeze the full version of Windows onto tablets, with extra touches to make it suited to, er, touchscreen devices. But the Windows 7 tablets that came out next year were all pretty crappy, and didn't sell.

But Microsoft is sticking to its guns. It's making the next version of Windows with both regular computers and tablets in mind, making it compatible with the new-fangled ARM processors that most tablets run, which means better battery life. But it's in the area of the user interface that the real work is required. And today, as predicted, they showed their work off.

At a conference in the US, Microsoft demonstrated what they're calling Windows 8, and it's pretty impressive. It looks a lot like Windows Phone, with the same tile-based icons and bright colours. And it's chock-full of touch features, like switching programs by swiping them in from the side.

This video gives you a pretty good idea:

So what's the problem? Well, underneath the flash, this is still very much Windows. And for some people, that's a problem. As one blog puts it, 'With this new touch user interface, Microsoft is hiding the complexity of Windows, but that complexity still exists underneath. Whether or not this is a flaw or a feature is already being debated. Is Windows 8 as radical a departure as it appears to be for Microsoft, or is it simply a pretty shell?'

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