RANCHO PALOS VERDES, California, June 2, 2011 (AFP) - Microsoft gave a sneak preview on Wednesday of the successor to Windows 7, a next-generation operating system designed to work on both personal computers and touchscreen tablets.
Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows Division, demonstrated some of the features of the operating system code-named "Windows 8" at the D9 technology conference here hosted by All Things Digital.
"Laptops, slates, desktops -- all can run one operating system," Sinofsky said.
"Things that people see work... on an iPad, I think we can do that and then bring with it all of the benefits that you have with Windows," he said.
"We have an approach that is different but builds on the value of an operating system that sells 400 million or so units a year," he said.
"Windows 8" builds upon many of the features in Microsoft's latest mobile operating system for smartphones, Windows Phone 7, including the use of touch "tiles" instead of icons to launch and navigate between applications.
In a blog post, Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president of Windows Experience, said Windows 8 is a "reimagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface.
"A Windows 8-based PC is really a new kind of device, one that scales from touch-only small screens through to large screens, with or without a keyboard and mouse," Larson-Green said.
"Although the new user interface is designed and optimized for touch, it works equally well with a mouse and keyboard," she added.
Larson-Green said Microsoft would reveal more features of Windows 8, which uses Internet Explorer 10 as a Web browser, at its developers conference in Anaheim, California, opening on September 13.
Windows powers most of the world's personal computers but the Redmond, Washington-based software giant has been slow to enter a fast-growing tablet market dominated for the moment by Apple's iPad.
Many other tablet makers have opted to use Google's Android software and Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps said a "well-formed Windows 8 will pose serious problems to Android."
The iPad was expected to remain the tablet market leader but "Microsoft will be a contender," she said. "What's more, they'll have a product that can compete across devices, and a foothold in the post-PC future."