Posts with tag windows 8
Calling it Windows 7.5 isn't that far off
Using the Windows 10 Technical Previews feels a little bit like going home. It’s as if I had just spent the last three years in some sort of bizzare-o world filled with buggy, nearly useless full screen applications; like I’m enjoying a swim in a refreshing, crisp, blue pool after spending an eternity in the fiery depths of Hell.In this scenario, Hell is, of course, a stand in for Windows 8 – and I think the sooner we admit the similarities, the sooner we can all recover from its abuses.
The Windows 10 Technical Preview is kind of like the anti-Windows 8 – indeed, some have taken to calling it Windows 7.5, and I don’t think that’s too far off. If you’ve not seen it in action yet, picture this – all the Desktop improvements that shipped with Windows 8 minus all of the horrible Start Screen garbage. Oh, and the Start Menu is back, so that’s pretty nice.
Microsoft is saying that this represents only a tiny fraction of the features, design, and functionality we’ll find in the final version of Windows 10 – due sometime late 2015 – and I believe it. Essentially, there’s only a couple of things worth getting really excited about here thus far, if you appreciate the fact that Microsoft is reverting back to the “classic” Windows 7 way of doing things.
Read more to hear our early impressions of the Windows 10 Technical Preview build.
Unveiling at 10 AM Pacific / 1 PM Eastern
Windows 9 is coming. Sure, Microsoft may not call it that – not today, and perhaps not ever – but whatever Microsoft announces at their “future of Windows” event today, it is the next major release of Windows, one that will stand just as tall as the Windows 8’s, 7’s, Vista’s, and XP’s before it. Despite remaining relatively secretive about the future of Windows beyond what little of a next generation Start Menu that was revealed at BUILD 2014, we know a surprising number of details about what the future of Windows will look like and how it’ll work. Let’s get started.
What to realistically expect…” is a series of posts which we use to temper expectations concerning upcoming industry events. All entries thus far have focused on Apple events, however a big new version of Windows doesn’t come along every day, so we think it’s important to take an in-depth look.
A Windows machine for under $100? Madness!
Microsoft has been looking to readjust their Windows strategy to better combat the influx of ultra low-cost, low end machines flooding the market these days, and today we’re seeing another step in that process. HP has just announced a bunch of new machines, but the stars of the show really are the new HP Stream tablets and two new HP Stream laptops. Both are (presumably) low end, both have Intel processors, but perhaps most impressively, both are full blown Windows PCs with some truly unbelievable price tags.
Starting off with the HP Stream, we’re looking at a 7-inch tablet with a starting price of just $99 – that’s a buck under $100, crossing something of a mythical line in the sand when it comes to pricing. It runs the full version of the latest version of Windows 8.1 and even comes with a free year’s worth of Office 365 subscription. There’s also an 8-inch tablet that’ll cost you an extra $50. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to learn what exactly is powering this bargain basement deal or how much memory it’ll ship with, but all in due time.
Meanwhile, the HP Stream laptop features a bunch of, erm, “interesting” bold color options, like the purple one above. Starting at $199, it features an 11-inch display, an Intel processor, a front facing camera, and also runs a full version of Windows 8.1. There’s also a 13-inch version, if you’re the type of person who needs a bit more screen real estate. No specifics on exact processor or memory configurations here either.
Microsoft has their building blocks
Mojang isn’t a big studio, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from paying a big price for it. While the Swedish indie studio is home to less than 50 employees, these guys are hard at work on one of the biggest games the gaming industry has seen in some time – Minecraft, the multiplatform wonder that has captured the heart of hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of gamers across potentially even more devices. And now, for a cool $2.5 billion, it belongs to Microsoft. Or it will as soon as the deal closes, rather.
While it’s not inherently clear as to what Microsoft plans on doing with Mojang, you can bet that Minecraft won’t see any neglect going forward. Minecraft is essentially the singular big product the company has ever put out, which means that Microsoft’s interest in the company has to be directly relating to Minecraft. More than likely, the company is planning on using the studio to build up the in-house studio support of their Xbox (and likely Windows, including Windows Phone) gaming platforms.
While that may sound like it makes sense, and also pretty exciting – Microsoft is a massive company with enough clout and money to improve all the ways Minecraft has lagged behind some expectations in recent years -it should also kind of scare you. Minecraft is famously available on just about every platform known to man (as long as that platform doesn’t happen to be made by Nintendo – sorry, fellow Wii U and 3DS fans), and Microsoft likely has very little interest in becoming an enthusiastic PlayStation or Android developer. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that Minecraft will ever become an Xbox and Windows exclusive, it does mean that we know where their priorities lie; indeed, Microsoft promises that Minecraft will “remain available” on all available platforms.
Mojang leader Markus “Notch” Persson has taken this opportunity to leave the company he helped build, explaining his feelings towards both the sale of his company to Microsoft as well as his personal feelings towards his relationship with his fans and game development in general in a new note posted on his personal website (and mirrored here) entitled, appropriately, “I’m leaving Mojang.” Notch claims that the deal, to him, isn’t about the money – but rather his sanity.
But is it enough?
As PC sales keep shrinking, Microsoft’s flagship software – Windows 8 – has failed to see much love from customers or OEMs. The industry is increasingly switching over to tablets running competitor’s software; not to mention low powered – and low priced – notebooks running Google’s Chrome OS operating system (“Chromebooks”), which have been best sellers on Amazon for months now. Microsoft is keenly aware of the situation, of course, and has been fighting against the Apple iPad for some time now with the company’s Surface lineup, and now they’re tackling the Chromebook problem with a line of new low powered, low priced notebooks of their own, running – of course – Windows 8.1 rather than Chrome OS. The first of this new initiative is the HP Stream 14, a 14-inch notebook revealed today by a leak published by MobileGeeks.
According to the leak, the HP Stream 14 has an unspecified AMD processor, a midrange 1366 x 768 pixel display, 2GB of RAM, and either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage depending on the model you’re looking at. No word yet as to when the HP Stream 14 will be hitting your local Best Buy, but I’d bet it’ll be sooner rather than later and when it comes, it should cost you just around $199. Microsoft must be keen to pick up sales of their Windows 8 devices, and if there’s one thing we know, there’s certainly a market for low priced, but quality devices.
Start building the internet of things
When Microsoft announced Windows for the Internet of Things at the company’s annual Build conference this year, people were excited. A little bit confused, considering how nebulous the term “Internet of Things” has actually become, but excited nonetheless – this is a totally new vision of Windows designed to run on small, ultra-low power devices. The company had remained tight lipped on their plans for the launch of the program right up until a couple of weeks ago, when they announced that they’d be shipping free Intel’s x86 based low power Galileo boards – the same ones that usually run around $80 – totally free of charge to any interested developer alongside the IoT SDK as Windows for the Internet of Things development kits.
Registration for these free boards have been closed for some time, and it appears Microsoft has finally gotten around to actually shipping the kits to at least some interested developers. We’ve heard reports from at least one developer who received the above email this morning, claiming his free Galileo board has been shipped over FedEx, tracking number and all. It appears not all developers have received their emails just yet, but if you’re one of the lucky few who got into Microsoft’s IoT developer program before it closed, keep your eyes fixed on your inbox.
Windows for power users
Although we’ve heard this for a couple days now, Mary Jo Foley has posted that the next version of Windows will indeed feature virtual desktops, a feature that Linux has had for nearly 20 years and one that Microsoft has historically never added as their own studies found users would often get confused as to which desktop they were in.
That’s not all that’s coming to Threshold – The Charms Bar, which has been a feature of Windows 8 since the first developer preview, will be going away in Threshold. According to Mary Jo Foley’s sources, not only will it be going away for desktop users, it’s going away for all users, including touch users. The functionality of each of the charms won’t be going away as every Metro app will have a new menu bar with the charms added to it, or developers can manually add a charm to their own app.
While this is another major score for the 100% of Windows users still using the desktop, I can’t help but shake the feeling that Windows Threshold is becoming nothing more than Windows 7 with an extra extension of .NET bolted onto it. But then again, maybe that’s for the better.
Well its about time
If your computer is one of the many affected by the bug that blocks its copy of Windows 8 from being upgraded to Windows 8.1, there’s good news on the horizon. Microsoft is finally taking pity on your computer’s soul and has decided to fix that, allowing previously (and randomly) un-upgradeable copies of Windows 8 from being upgraded to Windows 8.1.
The bug, which affected computers and tablets running both Windows 8 as well as the original version of Windows RT, affects only a small number of computers – so chances are, if you haven’t upgraded yet, you’ll be able to do that now just fine. But if not, keep an eye out for the fix due any day now.
Some weird naming going on
According to popular Microsoft beta scene group WZOR, which has accurately delivered copious amounts of news, screenshots, and leaks regarding the development of various versions of Microsoft Windows all the way from the Windows Vista days to today, Microsoft is planning on releasing the next update to Windows 8, which was announced at BUILD 2014 and brings windowed “Modern” Windows Store applications and the return of the Start Menu, before the end of the year. What’s more, according to the group, Microsoft is planning on releasing the update not as Windows 8.1 Update 2, as you might expect, but as Windows 8.2.
This reinforces the notion that development of Windows “Threshold”, which many expect will be called Windows 9, is too early in development to be a serious contender for release any time soon. Microsoft’s latest update to Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Update 1, brought significant changes to the operating system, including usability improvements for keyboard and mouse users and the ability to pin “Modern” applications to the desktop taskbar. Considering Windows 8.1 Update 1 could have easily been called Windows 8.2, there seems to be little rhyme or reason to Microsoft’s marketing of Windows 8 updates. But no matter what they’re called, a significant update is a significant update, and Windows 8 needs all the improvements it can get.
Microsoft at BUILD today showed off an early demo of they’re upcoming version of Microsoft Office specifically designed for Windows 8.1, the new “Modern” version of Office built for WinRT. Next-generation Office apps will run in Microsoft’s “Modern” mode on Windows 8.1 and Windows RT, allowing Microsoft to enable a touch-first user experience for Windows 8.1 customers for the first time.
In the demo, Microsoft showed off an early pre-beta version of Microsoft PowerPoint. The UI was immediately familiar to anybody who’s ever used PowerPoint in the past, greatly resembling both PowerPoint 2013 and the newly released PowerPoint for iOS.
While no new features or functionality was shown during the demonstration, PowerPoint for WinRT did appear to work just about as well as PowerPoint for iOS, meaning Microsoft’s upcoming Office suite for Windows devices should be at least as impressive as the version they released on Apple’s tablet OS.
Wzor no more?
If you’re not familiar with the Microsoft beta “scene” – or community – it is a crazy, insane, and sometimes scary place.
But today the community has gone quiet as a Microsoft employee by the name Alex Kibkalo has been arrested. Originally working as a Senior Architect at Microsoft, Mr. Kibbalo is charged with stealing trade secrets from Microsoft and leaking them onto the web. In other words? He’s the one responsible for much of the Windows 8 – and by extension, Windows 8.1, also known as Windows “Blue” – leaks.
Mr. Kibbalo reportedly fed information, screenshots, and builds of Windows 8 to an unnamed “French blogger” – though if you’re at all familiar with the beta community, you likely remember that the figure behind the now defunct WinUnleaked.tk site was French, bringing that site’s involvement in the case into suspicion. The individual behind WinUnleaked.tk was responsible for leaking copious amounts of information about Windows 8 throughout various stages of development, including the early pre-beta builds.
Interestingly, popular Russian leaker group Wzor has taken down their website and put their Twitter account on private, suggesting that Alex Kibbalo was could have been involved with that group as well. Wzor has been involved in leaking information and builds of numerous releases of Windows, including Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 – and much more.
The PC is dead
IDC has released some data on just how far traditional x86 PC sales fell last year and the results aren’t pleasing. The estimates clock in at a 9.8% drop in PC sales worldwide and with an 11.3% drop in “emerging markets.” However, the drop was not as bad as they were originally expecting (10.1% drop) due to people migrating from Windows XP but the drop is still severe thanks to the popularity of smartphones and tablets.
IDC also expects PC sales to drop another 6% this year and continue to drop through 2018. Of course, Microsoft is rumored to release Windows “Threshold” in 2015 which is said to bring back the Start Menu. Perhaps PC sales will explode in 2015; perhaps they’ll drop even further.