On Tuesday, Microsoft showcased some new features and improvements of Windows 8 at the BUILD developer conference. With Apple’s new Lion operating system making its debut in July of this year, will Windows’ new operating system go big? Well, Microsoft announced that there were 500,000 downloads of the Windows 8 Developer Preview within the first 12 hours of its launch.

Brief Recent History of Operating Systems

Is this a good sign for Microsoft users? Windows 8From our experience, many people remember the controversy over Windows Vista in early 2007—this operating system was highly susceptible to viruses, malware, and of course suffered from overall security vulnerability. Then along came Windows 7 in 2009 with an improved taskbar and many performance improvements. And now, Windows 8 is believed to be released in late 2012.

Windows 8 Features

Because the product has not actually been launched yet, much of what we know are just rumors coupled with the information that we heard from the BUILD conference a few days ago. However, Windows 8 is said to be an operating system that is designed for touch. This means that there will be the traditional desktop application as well as a version for “vertical slate use.” The keyboard and mouse therefore become optional in both cases. So overall, whenever this new OS debuts, it will be capable of running on desktops, laptops, and tablets.

Another question lingers, however—will it really be called “Windows 8”? Steven Sinofsky, President of Microsoft, says that Windows 8 is just a “codename” for now, but also that “[they]’ll figure out the real name in due time.”

Jamie Bates