Ina Fried

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Apple’s Lion and Microsoft’s Windows 8 Both Show Mobile’s Influence

In the past week, both Apple and Microsoft have laid out their next computer operating systems. In both cases, the features and design of the software are influenced heavily by what is going on in the phone and tablet markets.

Although both Windows 8 and Mac OS X Lion aim to bring a more phone-like operating system to notebooks and laptops, each has centered on different aspects of the mobile operating system.

With the Windows 8 design shown at the D9 conference last week, Microsoft has focused heavily on the way programs are organized and launched on phones, using a start screen that closely resembles Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft didn’t go into great detail on Windows 8, but among the features it did show was a lock screen that appeared to have notifications similar to those found on a phone. It also showed the ability from within newly redesigned Windows apps to access documents like photos without having to hunt through the traditional Windows file system.

Apple, meanwhile, previewed Lion on Monday, showing a number of elements that are migrating to the Mac from iOS, including the automatic saving of documents, push notifications and greater multitouch gesture control. Apple had talked about bringing the best of iOS to the Mac when it first talked about Lion at a “Back to the Mac” event last October.

Both Apple and Microsoft have noted immersive, full-screen apps as one compelling feature from mobile operating systems that has a place on the desktop as well. Both also have built-in app stores, a notion popularized by Apple on the phone.

There are other mobile influences in both products. Windows 8, for example, will be the first version of Windows to run on ARM-based processors, common on mobile devices. As for Lion, it is the first Mac OS X release that won’t come on disk, instead being offered for download via the Mac App Store.

Although Apple would clearly like to capitalize on the popularity of the iPad and iPhone, for Microsoft the need to add mobile features is perhaps even greater, as the company is counting on Windows 8 not only to take on the Mac, but also to regain ground lost to both the iPad and Android in the tablet space.

Lion is, of course, much further along, with developers getting a new release this week and general availability slated for next month. Microsoft has only showed a glimpse of Windows 8, with a wide release not expected until next year and the first beta unlikely to come before a September developer conference.

For a look at what Windows 8 has in store, here’s the video of the demo from D9 last week:

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus