Operating systems tend to take a long time to build, since they’re pretty complicated beasts. Windows is certainly no exception, and Microsoft usually spends two or three years building a new Windows OS. With Windows 8, they began way back in 2010, just a year after the release of Windows 7.
One of the first tasks they undertook when work on Windows 8 began was finding an interface style that would be unified across the whole operating system. To this end, they made a series of design mockups of what all the different elements of the OS would look like, as a reference for the whole Windows 8 design team. Those mockups have now been made public, and they are – in most cases – surprisingly similar to the final product available today.
A blog called I Started Something has posted these Windows 8 design mockups for the world to see, and the blogger says they were pulled from a presentation given by Microsoft’s Jensen Harris. In the pictures, you can see the Start screen, the lock screen, the charm menu, and the on-screen keyboard. While most of the elements look uncannily similar to the final product, there’s a couple things that turned out pretty different (the charm icons, for example).
It’s an interesting look into the design vision of the Windows 8 operating system, and a peek under the hood at a process we don’t normally get to see as consumers. It’s also impressive to see how forward-looking of a vision Microsoft’s design team seems to have; when you consider the fact that these mockups were made around the time the original iPad was released, it becomes clear how much Windows 8’s design aesthetic was ahead of its time.