Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system will include improved sensor support, introducing new hardware sensors for the first time in some cases, and an easy way for developers to target and make use of the hardware with Metro Style applications. Microsoft is building in adaptive brightness, automatic screen rotation, and compass support based on a number of sensors: ambient light sensor, accelerometer, magnetometer, and gyroscope.

Similar sensor support can be found in Android and iOS operating systems, but Microsoft also revealed its own "sensor fusion" support for Windows 8 today, a way for developers to use the power of each sensor together to combat the various weaknesses in each individual implementation. The combination of multiple sensors can provide better data for application developers, and sensor fusion appears to be designed to aggregate this. That, too, isn't a new concept, but perhaps Microsoft will make combined sensor algorithms more exposed than in the mobile realm. It's not clear exactly how accessible it will be, but Microsoft hopes the simple API support for developers will allow them to build Metro Style and desktop applications that use a variety of sensors, and in turn better apps for end users.

Developers with access to the Samsung Windows 8 slate PC can access the sensor support immediately, and other developers can purchase a development board that attaches via USB to test out the sensor experience. Microsoft's first beta copy of Windows 8 will be made available in late February, and we're expecting to hear more from hardware vendors throughout the year as they plan to bring these sensors to life inside future Windows tablets and slates.