Microsoft’s early Windows 8 concepts shown in new video

It’s been nearly 10 years since Windows 8 launched to the world as part of Microsoft’s big tablet push. While we’ve seen two heads of Windows since then, former Windows chief Steven Sinofsky has shared some early concept images for Windows 8 in a new video. The images show concepts for the Start menu, multiple monitor support, File Explorer, Internet Explorer, and lots more.

Windows 8 development began in the spring of 2010, and Microsoft held an all-team event for the Windows org (around 5,000 people) at the Seattle Convention Center. “This video was played as the meeting ended and the team departed the Seattle Convention Center,” explains Sinofsky. “It is a highlight or sizzle reel of the many months we spent planning the release and all of the inputs into the Windows 8 project.”

One of the first concept images that’s shared in the video is the new Start menu that Microsoft pushed ahead with to make Windows 8 more touch-friendly. It wasn’t particularly well received, as Microsoft made it full screen and difficult to find thanks to the removal of the traditional Start button. In another concept image, the Start button can be found in its regular spot alongside a touch-friendly widgets panel.

That same taskbar concept is shown again in the video as it spans across multiple monitors alongside multiple wallpaper support. There’s even an updated Task Manager that looks very different from what exists in Windows today. Microsoft never shipped this particular Task Manager, but the company did tweak it slightly in Windows 8 with a larger overhaul in Windows 11.

These concepts show some early work toward what ultimately became Windows 8, and the existence of the Start button shows that Microsoft wasn’t always thinking about removing that key element. Microsoft eventually brought back the Start button in Windows 8.1, but the OS will largely be remembered for Microsoft’s troubled attempt to rework Windows for tablets while forgetting the primary way people use Windows with a keyboard and mouse, even 10 years later.