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Windows 8 guru names the top 8 trends at CES

The former Windows chief at Microsoft, Steven Sinofsky, likes the things that reflect what the company is already promoting

The man who oversaw production of Windows 8 for Microsoft then quit still has admiration for what his former employer is up to, based on his latest blog about what he liked at CES 2013 last week.

The top eight trends Steven Sinofsky spotted at the show fall in line with what Microsoft has been touting with Windows 8, Surface tablets and new services that supplement the operating system.

He says that mobility, design language, quality of hardware and integrated services are key trends he saw at CES. Automatic updates, integration with social networks, connecting common devices (refrigerators, door locks, etc.) to the Internet and increasing network bandwidth round out the top trends he noted.

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With the exception of increasing network bandwidth, these pretty much align with what Microsoft has been pushing with Windows 8, associated services and its new Surface hardware for the past year or so.

  • Mobility is one of the primary design goals of Windows 8 as evidenced by its focus on touch and battery life. The company’s Surface RT tablets offer a streamlined operating system running on ARM processors to promote battery life and are meant for the mobile user.
  • Design language – how screen space is used and how apps are navigated – is trending toward minimalism in products he saw at CES, Sinofsky says. That is exactly what Sinofsky said was important about Windows 8 back when he was writing the Building Windows 8 blog. Windows 8’s Modern interface wipes away all the task and status bars, giving the application edge-to-edge real estate that is navigated via touch.
  • Build quality – how well hardware is made – is something users are seeking more and more, he says. The quality of the magnesium case of Surface devices have been touted as light and durable, and Microsoft says it engineered the kickstand that props up the screen to snap into place with the sound of a door closing on a luxury car.
  • Windows RT requires users to accept automatic updates in order to preserve the security of devices by pushing fixes but also providing upgrades to improve performance.
  • Hand in hand with the services that remove applications from devices and place them in the cloud where they can be upgraded centrally and where they can be available to a range of devices. Windows 8 encourages cloud use by providing 7G Bytes of storage in SkyDrive that comes with the operating system. Separately, Microsoft has been promoting Office 365 the cloud service version of the popular productivity suite.
  • Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are integrated with apps on Windows 8 so sharing with a friend on Facebook can be done directly from within an application. Windows 8’s People app mines social network contacts, alphabetizes them and brings in ID photos of them.
  • Networked refrigerator? Microsoft research has announced HomeOS, a platform for controlling home devices.

Sinofsky’s alignment with Microsoft’s priorities isn’t surprising given that he helped shape them, but it will be interesting to see in what directions his ideas shift as the time from his separation with Microsoft increases.

(Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Tim_Greene.)

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