Windows: The Next Generation – Now Playing on Dell Computers
I am an unabashed geek, and a lot of that traces back to Star Trek. Aside from old sitcoms, that may have been the one series my siblings and I all watched. We even bought the novels and the comics. People love to point out how we’re in the 21st century and short of teleporters, a lot of modern technology was clearly inspired by Star Trek. We have replicators (3D printing), communicators (cellphones), PADDs (tablets) and most importantly to me, we have LCARS.
For the unfamiliar, LCARS is the operating system used in Star Trek: The Next Generation (and subsequent shows in the franchise). Standing for Library Computer Access/Retrieval System, it was a minimalist, touch intensive operating system that was highly modular with a consistent interface through sections and a matching version that ran on both desktop and tablet devices.
Seriously, the first time you get your hands on a Windows 8 tablet, such as Dell’s XPS 10, it’s hard not to imagine you’re flicking your way through LCARS. The XPS is a tiny bit larger than the PADD on ST:TNG, but not by much. Running the ARM specific flavor of Windows 8 dubbed Windows RT, the lightweight X10 even docks in an optional keyboard for when you need to get some heavy typing done, something Trek never seemed to need.
Windows 8 isn’t just on tablets though. While I have yet to see it on a screen the size of the Enterprise’s front viewer, devices like Dell’s OptiPlex 9010 All-in-One or the Inspiron 15z are no slouches. The Optiplex in particular would feel right at home on the desk of Captains Picard, Sisko, or Janeway. If I went back in time and told my pre-teen self that I could get a 23” computer screen with the actual computer “baked in”, that I could interact with by touch, and with an amount of storage that I did not have language at the time to understand? I suspect younger me would take a hammer to our old 8 MB (and no, that is not a typo) Apple II GS in frustration. For the young’uns, the GS stood for graphics and sound, the “cutting edge” features of that particular desktop.Seriously. Compared to then, now? Well, it may as well be: My younger brother, a comic book blogger and mediaphile, would likely jump at the Inspiron 15Z. A slim and light laptop that you can interface with by touch, that includes SkullcandyTM speakers and a 2GB NVDIA graphics is great for both work and play, and the price of $899 is a hundred bucks less than the aforementioned antique we had growing up.
Not that Windows 8 demands that you buy a totally new computer to take advantage of the touch factor. Aside from being just as usable with a mouse (I’ll come back to that another time), you can also add a touch-based monitor to your existing setup. Dell’s S2340T may not have a name that rolls off the tongue, but as a super-slim 23” monitor that includes multi touch support, you can be tapping, pinching, and zooming with the best of them in no time.
Windows 8 may not be exactly like LCARS (pretty sure LCARS didn’t handle multitasking as well), but the hardware that runs it makes me want to make some tea (earl grey, hot), sit in a comfortable chair, and boldly go where no OS has gone before.
This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG and Dell