Windows 8, are we ready?

Leaked documents detailing Microsoft’s initial thoughts on the development of Windows 8 have surfaced on the internet. The PowerPoint presentation, apparently aimed at an HP executive and dated April 2010, suggested that facial recognition for log in and compatibility with a range of new computers and tablets could be a key part of the forthcoming product. The original leak has since been taken down, but a number of bloggers such as Microsoft Kitchen provide analysis and screenshots.

Other key features included a focus on improving start-up times, which have previously been cited by consumer groups as a cause of frustration, as well as an easy way to reset PCs to their default settings without deleting users’ information. The software will also build on Microsoft’s current Marketplace and turn it into a more fully fledged App Store. The forthcoming Internet Explorer 9 is also mention as integral to the new ideas.

Although all the information is thought to represent Microsoft’s first thoughts about Windows 8, it demonstrates that the new operating system is at a stage where the company can begin sharing its ideas with PC partners. There is no indication of user interface changes, although there is a picture of an all-in-one PC. This is thought to be for illustrative purposes only, however. Windows 8 is expected to be released in 2012.

Ford & Microsoft team up for electric cars

Ford Motor Company and Microsoft Corporation announced today that they will be teaming up again to make the widespread adoption of the electric car into a reality.

Ford said it plans to use Microsoft’s Hohm electric-car charging optimization service to help drivers determine the ideal time to charge their vehicles and how to best minimize impact on the grid.

Microsoft and Ford have already proven to be a successful partnership with the Sync system, a decade-long effort designed to improve drivers’ in-car experiences. Sync was launched in 2007 and has been installed on more than 2 million Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles. The Internet-based service will be used for the Focus Electric plug-in hybrid in 2011, and in two next-generation hybrids in 2012.