4 Questions about Windows 8 (and a lot more)

win8_start_webThe tip of the Windows 8 iceberg emerged today, at the D9 conference and at Computex, and after spending a few hours trying to digest what bits of info we could, we’re left with some first impressions and a lot of questions.

While not everyone was impressed, the look on Walt Mossberg’s face as he soaked in the implications of a fully touch immersive, live tile enabled, app powered (the apps themselves powered by HTML5 and JavaScript), ARM running Windows 8, was, well, priceless.  When Julie Larsen-Green called it the biggest change in Windows since Windows 95, Mossberg said “this is even bigger”.

What about Windows Live?
This move to HTML5 based apps sounds like a death knell for Windows Live Essentials as we know it, with its heavy handed approach to installing a suite of intermingled applications, all running on various versions of the .Net Framework, Silverlight, Visual C++, and Compact SQL.  We’re expecting to hear more about SkyDrive soon, rumored to be an HTML5 powered app.  How soon will Windows Live be fully HTML5?  What will be left of the current suite of apps?  Will Windows Live still be needed to “light up” Windows?  Certainly Hotmail, SkyDrive, and Messenger aren’t going anywhere, but what will become of the rest of the suite?  So many questions!

How seamless will the connection between Windows 8 and Windows Phone be?
The tablet interface for Windows 8 is obviously very Windows Phone inspired, but where does Windows Phone end and Windows 8 begin?  Will apps be interchangeable?  Will the core OS be (eventually, say with Windows Phone 8) the same?  What will that mean for current Windows Phone development?  What about licensing, will you be able to run the same apps on your phone as your desktop as your tablet?

What about SKUs?
Microsoft loves SKUs.  Will all versions of Windows 8 be touch enabled?  Will all versions run the full underlying OS?  Sinofsky and Larsen-Green said that Windows 8 would run on everything from an 8” to a wall sized screen.  All for the same price?  What about ARM versions?

If Windows 8 apps are HTML5 based, will it require any Windows centric apps?
Could you have a Google version of Windows 8, running Chrome, Google apps, Google Calendar, and Gmail, by logging in to Google only (no Live ID at all) ?  Windows Phone (especially with the upcoming Mango update) has Bing built deeply into the OS.  Will Windows 8 do the same?  How HTML5 centric (read: open to the web) will Windows 8 truly be?

Of course we’re sure to have lots more questions as more details filter out about Windows 8, and we’ll hopefully have a lot of answers between now and Build/Windows in September.  What questions do you have about Windows 8?