At the developer-focused Build conference today, Microsoft revealed a developer preview version of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system, showing off a "touch-first" interface and improved hardware integration aimed at game-makers.
The new "Metro style" interface resembles Microsoft's tile-based Windows Phone 7 interface, and is built to work equally well with either a mouse and keyboard or gestural controls on a touchscreen display, the company said. This means the same version of Windows 8 is designed to run on either a desktop or a tablet environment.
Windows 8 also promises developers more direct access to the underlying system architecture on both ARM and x86-based chipsets, Microsoft said, allowing a single build of an app to work on multiple devices.
Microsoft described simplified interaction between apps in Windows 8, with "contracts" that allow programs to share data with each other more easily, as well as tools to automatically sync files across multiple Windows 8 devices and the internet.
The new OS is designed to allow for instant startup from sleep mode and better long-term battery life on portable devices, as well as less use of memory overhead when compared with Windows 7.
Microsoft also confirmed the existence of the previously leaked Windows Store
, allowing developers to sell games and apps directly to Windows 8 users through a built-in marketplace.
The developer preview will be available for download from the Windows Dev Center
later this week.