Although Microsoft didn’t offer any details, the start screen that it is showing on Wednesday includes a prominent link to a store, ostensibly confirming that Microsoft plans to get in the business of directly distributing Windows programs, much as Apple has on both the iPhone and Mac. Windows 8 is clearly influenced by the iPad and other mobile devices, the plan for the new operating system has been in the works since Windows 7 shipped in July 2009–several months before the iPad was first shown. Microsoft has also done work with the classic Windows desktop to make it more touch friendly, including using a new kind of “fuzzy hit targeting” to adjust for the fact that fingers are far less precise than a mouse. The goal, says chief designer Julie Larson-Green, is that classic apps, though designed for a keyboard and mouse, work well with touch. Apps taking advantage of the new programming layer, she said, are designed for touch first, but also work well with a keyboard and mouse. Windows is growing more flexible in other ways. Microsoft said back in January that the next version of Windows would support ARM-based chips from Nvidia, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm, in addition to the traditional Windows processors from Intel and AMD. Though Sinofsky and Green used Intel-based machines for Wednesday’s demo at D9, Microsoft plans to demonstrate some of the ARM-based designs later today at the Computex trade show in Taiwan.