As you can see from the screenshot at beginning of this article, 8 Mode looks like a big cell phone interface. Imagine swiping left and right on that screen to get to a number of tiled apps, just like you do on your Android or iDevice. It runs on live tiles and apps as opposed to full applications that users are accustomed to. Instead of opening and closing programs like we did in XP and 7, the apps stay on and running all of the time (again, like mobile), letting the user switch between them with Alt-Tab or other mouse driven means. While the apps aren't active, Windows drops their resources down to run in the background so it doesn't hog up system memory. The design from the Developer Preview and the Consumer Preview has been altered slightly, and the newer scheme really reminds me of the tile system for what currently runs on Windows Phone 7 devices. The advantage of this interface is really geared for mobile devices - something akin to what we can expect from the ARM Windows RT powered Surface tablets to be released later this year. There's also an option to show more tiles, covering quick access to common functions like the control panel and other system settings.
I can at least say that there more apps on the Microsoft Store than I remember there being while playing with the Consumer Preview. 8 Mode comes stock with a "Games" app, linking up with a user's Microsoft / Xbox Live ID, as well as built-in "all in one place" social apps. Another default app is for mail, which handles both Microsoft and third party email accounts. A number of other apps exist for sports, news and travel, which basically act as RSS feeds that look a lot brighter and more colorful than what you're used to on your basic feed reader. See? A big phone. But there's one thing that gives me pause so far, and that's the Microsoft Store. Like its competitors, Microsoft lets users broaden their experience by downloading apps for multiple things, but the problem is that it still needs some development.
If you look at Microsoft's future competition in Android and iOS devices, there's a large gap that has yet to be covered. Those mobile platforms rely very heavily on the Android Market and App Store to provide a vastly expandable and richer mobile experience to users. This "8 Mode" interface, which in my opinion would in fact work great with a touchscreen and is posed to compete in its own right, is only going to be able to deliver an experience to rival the other heavy hitters in the mobile space if they can expand what's available in the Microsoft Store. Microsoft's also trying to cash in on the cloud trend with their new SkyDrive initiative for those who love to share and/or overshare on the run, but the whole package is going to need a little more substance.