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Although still early in the process, newly leaked documents about Windows 8 offer some keen insight into where Microsoft wants to head with the next version of the operating system.
One thing that is made abundantly clear is that Microsoft has been paying attention to Apple. In the documents, which appear to come from an April meeting with computer makers, Microsoft discusses its Cupertino, Calif. -based rival and outlines plans to offer a Windows Store similar to the way Apple distributes software on its iPhone. The documents, which Microsoft has declined to comment on or authenticate, also talk about plans to give Windows a more iPad-like response time through new power management settings.
In particular, one slide titled “How Apple Does It: A Virtuous Cycle,” talks about the need for simplicity in design. “Apple brand is known for high quality, uncomplicated, ‘it just works,'” the slide says, adding that “This is something people will pay for!”
Other slides don’t directly reference Apple, but talk about the need for a number of features popularized by its products, including the App Store, as well as a more instant-on feel.
Although Windows has continued to dominate the PC market, still holding roughly 95 percent of global market share, it faces a significant threat from mobile operating systems looking to encroach on the low end of the computer market, including the iPad and Android-based devices.
Hewlett-Packard, which originally talked about plans for a Windows 7-based slate PC in January, now refuses to say whether it will build that product and has since announced plans to buy Palm in a deal expected to close shortly. Microsoft has been working on tablets for nearly a decade and, as early as 2005, outlined the hardware trends that would enable a device like the iPad. Thus far, however, only Apple has been able to create a hit with consumers.
Among the goals outlined for Windows 8 are some features that would appear to be aimed at making Windows more competitive in this market, including improved simplicity, better support of touch and gestures, as well as support for smaller-size screens.