Microsoft Gives Windows 8 An Extreme Makeover

Get ready for an all-new look to Microsoft’s popular Windows operating system (OS). The company says it’s ditching ‘Aero’, the visual style found in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Microsoft first used Aero (sometimes called ‘Aero Glass’) in Windows Vista, which shipped in 2006. Featuring a glassy appearance and slick translucent shadows, it gave the operating system a style completely distinct from its predecessor, Windows XP. In fact, it might have been one of the only things people actually liked about Vista, which many computer users skipped altogether.

However there were folks who hated Aero, since it asked more of a user’s hardware. Using it sometimes negatively affected system performance.

Despite complaints, Microsoft brought Aero back when it built Windows 7, which was released in 2009.

But now it’s time to try something new, says Microsoft executive, Jensen Harris.

“This style of simulating faux-realistic materials (such as glass or aluminum) on the screen looks dated and cheesy now, but at the time, it was very much en vogue,” said Harris, who is Director of Program Management in Microsoft’s Windows User Experience division.

Although Harris won’t come out and say it, Microsoft is also looking to give users a reason to ditch Windows 7 in favour of Windows 8. Giving the new OS a distinct look and feel is a key part of selling the upcoming operating system, even though critics and consumers alike love Windows 7.

With Aero gone, Microsoft will be relying upon its tile-based Metro interface, which features windows with rounded corners and a “clean and crisp” aesthetic. Reflections and shadows are ditched in favor of flatter surfaces. White becomes the color of choice over silver and translucent blue.

The best part about the change: it will put less pressure on users’ systems, meaning computers process requests faster and batteries last longer.  That’s a big deal for users of notebook PCs, but it will be even more useful for those using Windows 8 on their tablet computers who have a lot of apps downloaded that are kept running in the background. Hopefully this improvement will reduce some of the load of Microsoft’s contact center software.

It’s expected Windows 8 will be available sometime this fall, perhaps in mid-October.

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