Microsoft tablet plans mature with Windows 8

At Microsoft’s BUILD show this morning, the company gave a lot of insight into what everyone has been waiting to see – Windows 8.

At the forefront of the discussion is the fact that unlike any other version of Windows before, this one is not designed solely for traditional PCs.

In fact, tablets are an integral part of the Windows 8 strategy. And unlike the very few Windows 7 tablet rumblings that have occurred over the past year, Windows 8 is unique in that it will have separate operating systems for computers and tablets.

What isn’t really being discussed at BUILD is Windows 8 tablet hardware. Surely most of the major manufacturers will give the new OS a try at some point, but that’s not a focal point today.

Instead, emphasis is on the software and what Windows 8 for tablets can actually do. It definitely has an aesthetic similar to Windows Phone, with the Live Tiles and intuitive touchscreen interface.

Another interesting feature, as noted by Slashgear, is “picture password.” Instead of traditional alphanumeric passwords, users will be able to use touch gestures to verify their identity.

Microsoft is calling the interface the “Metro UI,” and allows users to have complete customization on their home page, including widgets, RSS readers, weather information, date/time, etc.

Metro UI will also have deep multitasking chops, giving users the ability to easily toggle back and forth between different apps and websites. The prototype unit shown at BUILD looks similar to an iPad, with virtually no buttons on the device itself. Microsoft wants touch input to be the main control mechanism, but in a way that’s new and different – not just tapping, but swiping and gesturing.

This is just a first look at what Windows 8 tablets will offer when they reach the market. The question is when that will actually happen.