Windows 8 is still a fair way off so Steve Ballmer will no doubt be fuming that secrets about Microsoft’s next OS have spilled out onto the web. A presentation outlining what we can expect from Windows 8 has slipped out into the wild and it seems Microsoft has been looking to Apple for some inspiration with a new app store on the cards, a render of a touchscreen PC that looks like a curious cousin of the iMac and some tantalising tablet-focused features thrown in to boot. There’s even some clues that the tech behind Kinect could be baked in to Windows 8. Read on to nose around the first Windows 8 secrets…

Windows 7 is still hopping off the shelves but Microsoft is already deep into Windows 8 prep. Slides detailing the plans for the new OS have slipped out after the software giant showed its hand to HP. The most intriguing of the Windows 8 proposals? A Windows 8 app store.

The early mockups in the presentation suggest the Windows 8 app store will have a similar interface to the current Zune and feature apps from Microsoft, other software firms and device makers. ??While the HP Slate has reportedly jumped over to webOS, Microsoft is still planning to make Windows 8 about tablets as well as laptops and touchscreen desktops, and the Windows 8 app store looks like it’ll know what kind of device you’re using automatically.

The Windows 8 app store also looks like it’ll extend Microsoft’s cloud computing plans. It’s pushing Office 2010 web apps in a big way and the new store looks like it’ll allow apps and settings to follow you from device to device.

As well as plenty of references to making Windows 8 play nice with tablets, the Microsoft presentation reveals a render of a Windows 8 concept machine (pictured above). It looks like the result of an unholy tryst between an iMac and the 2001: A Space Odyssey monolith to us.

The presentation also shows that while Microsoft still has the lead when it comes to shifting copies of its OS, it would definitely like to harness the kind of hype Apple is able to. A slide titled “How Apple does it: a virtuous cycle”, pulls out Steve Jobs’s favourite line “it just works” and praises Apple’s user experience. Is that Microsoft admitting that Windows needs work?

Another interesting little nugget nestled within the Windows 8 presentation is facial recognition. The new OS will apparently log you in by using your computer’s webcam to detect when your bonce enters the frame. That’s clever and could suggest the Microsoft is planning to cram more Kinect-style smarts into Windows 8. Could gesture control be its secret weapon?

We could be waiting a wee while for Windows 8 though as the presentation suggests that no code has actually been written yet though an Internet Explorer 9 beta could be bouncing our way as soon as August. The full OS is reportedly planned for 2012.

What do you think of Microsoft’s vision for Windows 8? Is a Windows app store with cloud smarts something your after? And are you gagging for Microsoft Kinect-style controls to come to your laptop and desktop? Let us know in the comments.

Due 2012 | £TBC | Microsoft (via Microsoft Kitchen)

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