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Microsoft's new Windows chief discusses Sinofsky, the iPad, and a transition to touch

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Windows 8 Consumer Preview
Windows 8 Consumer Preview

In an interview with MIT Technology Review, Microsoft's new head of Windows, Julie Larson-Green, has shared some thoughts on Windows 8 after her early experiences leading a post-Sinofsky Windows team. Larson-Green reveals that she first saw an iPad after Microsoft had its Windows 8 design "ready to go." After starting work on Windows 8 in June 2009, ahead of the Windows 7 release, Larson-Green admits Microsoft was excited by Apple's approach to the iPad. "A lot of things they were doing about mobile and touch were similar to what we’d been thinking."

It's fair to say that Windows 8 has split opinions for end users. "We’re going for the over time impression rather than the first 20 minutes out of the box," says Larson-Green. Admitting that the company has found that people invested in the old Windows approach find it more difficult to transition, Larson-Green believes it takes two days to two weeks to adjust fully. Despite this, Larson-Green believes the majority of future PCs will have touch support and that computers with touch are selling the fastest at the moment. "You’ll use the mouse and keyboard, but even on the regular desktop you’ll find yourself reaching up doing the things that are faster than moving the mouse and moving the mouse around."

"Steven is an amazing leader and an amazing brain and an amazing person, but one person can’t do everything."

On the topic of Steven Sinofsky, who recently left Microsoft after leading the Windows division, Larson-Green praises his "amazing brain" and leadership. She's quick to point out that "one person can't do everything," though. "It’s really about the team that we created and the culture that we created for innovation." Now that Sinofsky has left, Larson-Green says not a lot has changed as the company has not slowed down despite the Windows 8 release. "There are always new technologies to think about that can be helpful to people."

Larson-Green doesn't touch on the immediate future of Windows, but we understand the company is preparing a Windows codename Blue upgrade that will likely ship in mid-2013. Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans have revealed that Blue will form the foundations for a push towards yearly OS updates to Windows, with a focus on unifying the developer tools. Microsoft is also working to improve support for 7- and 8-inch tablets with Windows Blue.