Next generation Windows computers may deliver a direct computing experience , which means that the machines could also function as what might be the equivalent of special purpose devices, while also being fully-fledged PCs.
A Microsoft patent describes the “Direct Computing Experience” in the company’s vision, noting that a Windows platform could be tailored to run in specific modes, different from the general purpose operating mode. (via BeingManan)
This will require nothing more than a special actuation mechanism coupled to the computing device, in concert with the necessary detection sensors.
Essentially, Windows PCs could easily be transformed into media player devices, personal information manager devices, clocks, calculators, media center devices, personal video recorders, and audio players, according to Microsoft.
Windows would not boot completely, while instead just a core portion of the operating system would start, but enough for users to play media, or record video, without the full functionality/features/capabilities of the OS being live.
In such a scenario, the Windows machine would also boot up extremely fast, in under 10 seconds, and be ready for use as a specialized device.
“For example, actuation of a special hardware button may boot or resume a sleeping computer system into a direct experience upon actuation, including by launching a special program corresponding to that button,” Microsoft explained.
“The computer system may thus enter a mode in which it mimics a special purpose device such as a consumer electronics device, e.g., a dedicated media player".
“When in a direct experience, the computer system may also operate in a constrained/sandboxed mode in which operating system limits available functionality to less than what is available when running as a general purpose computer system, e.g., keyboard operation and/or file access may be limited. Different actuation mechanisms may correspond to different modes,” the company added.
Now, the fact of the matter is that Microsoft has not confirmed in any way that Direct Computing Experiences will be a part of Windows 8, the next major iteration of the Windows client.
However, this is certainly an interesting approach that the software giant should explore deeply, especially as it is under increasing pressure to compete with Apple, and new devices such as the iPad.
Direct Computing Experience would permit Windows 8 tablets/slates to boot in just a few seconds, with limited functionality, such as a reader, media player, or Internet browsing, rather than the full OS.
Slates are devices designed for media consumption, and less to replicate the experience of a full PC. With Direct Computing Experience, Windows 8 could combine the best of two worlds.
Namely, it could offer users an extremely simple device, sporting an OS that looks and feels nothing like Windows allowing them to read, edit and create documents, play media, browse the Internet, etc.
At the same time, it could also deliver the full Windows experience, just as any other PC, while requiring users to boot onto the full OS, rather than just a subset of the platform.
“In a computer system, [Direct computing experience is] a method comprising: receiving a notification that a direct experience actuation mechanism coupled to the computer system was actuated; and in response to the notification, booting or resuming the computer system, and operating the computer system in a direct experience that is different from operating the computer system as a general purpose computer system, including launching at least one particular application program upon boot or resume that is not launched when the computer system is booted or resumed to operate as a general purpose computer system,” Microsoft stated.
“And wherein operating the computer system in the direct experience comprises entering the computer system into a sandbox mode having less functionality than when the computer system is booted or resumed to operate as a general purpose computer system,” it is added in the patent.
Microsoft actually mentions Windows in the patent. The Redmond company notes that a Windows RTM OS could offer users the functionality described in the invention.
“One architecture exemplified herein is described with reference to a Windows.RTM.-based operating system and a direct experience platform that can launch from various power states corresponding to ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface, a computer industry standard for configuration and power management) sleep states,” the software giant reveals.