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Microsoft previews Windows 8 at BUILD

screenshot_lockScreen_webSince details about the next-gen OS first began emerging, Windows 8 has been elevated to make-or-break status for Microsoft.  The tour-de-forces that are iOS and Android have been a major hindrance for the software titan, but the generally positive feedback surrounding Windows 8 has been promising for what some have called a dying brand.

Today at the company’s BUILD developer conference, Microsoft offered the most revealing details of Windows 8 to date. Here are some of the most exciting features unveiled today:

Touch capability

Microsoft wasn’t ready for tablets, that much is clear. But the company is ready to adapt to them and will include “a new Metro style interface built for touch.” According to Microsoft, this Metro UI (which is defined as being full immersion) is mouse and keyboard friendly for purists as well. IE 10 will also be built with touchscreens in mind.

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App-focused

Apps are quickly becoming the life and death of an operating system. If you want to have staying power, you’ve got to have mobile ambitions, and if you’ve got mobile ambitions, you’ve got apps – or at least a game plan. A major criticism of the Windows mobile OS has been its App Marketplace, which every new smartphone player is dealing with. But Windows 8 is reportedly going to ease some of that pain. Microsoft says Windows 8 will reduce its memory footprint where it can to leave more room for apps, which will also be built to fill your entire screen and communicate with each other. “For example, you can easily select and email photos from different places, such as Facebook, Flickr, or on your hard drive.”

You will also be able to sync your content across Windows devices using SkyDrive or Metro style apps. Note for PC lovers: You aren’t being forsaken. Microsoft says Windows 8 will include an enhanced Task Manager and improved options for dual (or more) screen users.

Windows 8 will also introduce the Windows Store. Users can access apps via the Windows Store on any supporting device.

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Next-gen hardware

What’s an announcement without a few new device teasers? Windows 8 is wisely built to support a variety of devices (read: Tablets) of all shapes and sizes. Better yet, Microsoft says functionality won’t be compromised by device, and boot up, battery life, and standby won’t be limited by say…an ultrathin latop or tablet.

This operating system is envisioned to be versatile. Microsoft intends for it to run on everything from servers running innumerable processors down to handheld tablets. And this would make Windows 8 the first to add touch to a major, not-exclusively mobile operating system – a big, innovative step for a manufacturer accused of being late to the game.

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