The early Start screen had a persistent clock and status icons. Wide tiles were wider, and narrow ones narrower.

Earlier this year, a presentation made by Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience Team, gave a rare glimpse into how Windows 8 looked and worked before Microsoft went public with the operating system.

In the presentation, first noted by blogger Long Zheng, Harris talks about how Windows 8’s user interface came to be. His central thesis is that familiar interfaces can be displaced by new interfaces that are built for the present rather than the past. The graphical Windows displaced the text-mode DOS; Windows 95’s easy multitasking replaced Windows 3.1.

Enlarge / The early lock screen is very similar to the final product, though the small icons are now below the date.

What modern change justifies Windows 8’s abandonment of familiarity? New form factors, new modes of interaction, and the pervasive use of the Internet. Though they didn’t ship until 1995, the basics of the Windows taskbar and Start menu interface were designed in 1992, in an era before widespread Internet usage when Office and document editing were king.

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via Ars Technica » Technology Lab