Microsoft Rolls Out Windows 8: Nope, Definitely Not an iOS Clone

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Hello Windows 8, so nice to finally meet you—and Microsoft certainly helped us get acquainted at today’s Windows 8 developer presentation. We learned about the new touch-driven interface, how it runs on ARM as well as Intel processors, how Microsoft’s going to control application approval and, of course, how it all connects to the so-called “cloud.”

But for all those Apple-like features, Microsoft’s take—still in beta—seems decidedly un-Apple-like.

(MORE: 50 Windows 8 Screenshots, Hardware Photos and More)

No surprise, the home screen looks a lot like Windows Phone’s: a colorful quilt of shiftable squares and rectangles signifying apps, connections, miscellaneous content and so forth. Remember the good old days of teeny-tiny icons? Tiles replace those. The word “Start” now floats freely above those tiles instead of bottom-left, ensconced in a pop-up taskbar menu. Tiles can be touched and freely moved between screens, and those screens renamed.


Goodbye desktops, folders, taskbars, menus and nested file directories, hello context-sensitive tile-driven content surfing.

After over 15 years dragging users through successive iterations of the then-revolutionary Windows 95 interface, Microsoft’s finally aiming for what Apple attempted (successfully) with OS X: a “do over,” if you will.

(PHOTOS: The First Windows 8 Tablet)

But note that Microsoft isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel so much as build an all-terrain version: Windows 8 packs everything it needs to know about you into your Windows Live account, then delivers a personalized experience (based on the tile-driven interface described above) on whatever Windows 8-based device you’re logged into.

And that’s just for starters. Microsoft’s Build Professional Developers Conference in Anaheim, California is still underway (it runs today through Friday) and we’re bound to learn more about Windows 8 as the week unfolds.

WATCH: How Long It Takes to Boot Windows 8

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.