Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2011 - 06:56 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, windows, Utility, ui, tweaker, microsoft, Metro, developer preview, beta
Are you trying out the Windows 8 Developer Preview that was released earlier this month and finding the new Windows Explorer Ribbon and Metro UI start menu frustrating? If so, Lee Whittington has just the tweaking utility for you!
A freeware tool developed for The Windows Club dubbed Metro UI Tweaker (for Windows 8) is the first third party tweaking tool for the upcoming operating system. It provides several tweaking options to make the transition to the Metro UI more palatable including the ability to completely disable (or enable) the Metro Start Menu and new Ribbon interface in Windows Explorer (which can also be easily hidden without the need for this tool via an icon in the corner). When disabling the Metro Start Menu and Ribbon, the Metro style Task Manager and new lock screen will also be disabled.
Such sweeping changes are not the only tweaks possible, however. The Windows 8 utility also lets you add power options including sleep, restart, and full shutdown to the Metro interface (when clicking on your user name’s picture), as well as adding any application or file to the Metro Start Menu.
Now at version 1.0, the Metro UI Tweaker is available for download from here for those adventurous enough to use a beta tweaking tool on a beta operating system. How do you feel about the new Windows 8 interface? Will you be checking out this tool? Let us know in the comments.
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2011 - 01:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: win8, security, microsoft
It's confirmed, Windows 8 will have anti-virus rolled into it and it does a wee bit more than you might think. They have updated and expanded Windows Defender as part of the protection scheme but have also taken advantage of the integration possible when your antivirus becomes part of your OS. Your boot path will be scanned at every restart to ensure no malware has tainted it and it will be protected while your system is running by Defender, along with a long list of other vectors that are commonly used to attack systems.
"Rumours about Microsoft planning to bundle an antivirus function in its upcoming operating system have caused quite a bit of a stir in the security community over the past couple of days. Some people have declared themselves supportive of the move, while others rushed to point out its possible drawbacks."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Live blog: IDF 2011 Justin Rattner keynote @ The Tech Report
- iPhone 5 revealed accidentally by Casemate @ Tech-Reviews UK
- Apple said to have contracted with TSMC @ DigiTimes
- A sea change comes to Intel @ The Register
- Wolfenstein Ray Traced and Anti-Aliased, At 1080p @ Slashdot
- Microsoft: No Windows 8 ARM support for x86 apps @ The Register
- Splitted-Desktop Shows Fanless Sandy Bridge Cooling At IDF 2011 @ Legit Reviews
- Day 3 IDF Coverage @ Legit Reviews
- PSN's New User Agreement Bans Class Action Lawsuits @ NGOHQ
Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2011 - 01:04 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, windows 8, Metro, developer preview, microsoft
While some folks may be dissapointed that Microsoft's first public beta download was not released this week at their BUILD conference, we did get the next best thing; Microsoft released a developer preview build for 32 and 64 bit systems yesterday. The download page went live at 11 PM Eastern Time, and hosts three versions of the Windows 8 build available to the public-- despite the name an MSDN subscription is not required. The download page does hint that MSDN subscribers are able to access additional downloads, however.
The three available downloads include a disk image (.iso) with developer tools, a 64 bit Windows 8 disk image, and a 32 bit Windows 8 disk image. Of the three versions, the last two will be most applicable to the public and enthusiast users.
The Windows 8 Start screen
The Developer Preview with applications for software development work weighs in at a hefty 4.8 GB .iso and features a 64 bit copy of Windows 8, the Windows Metro SDK for applications, Microsoft's Visual Studio 11 Express, Microsoft's Expression Blend 5, and 28 Metro style applications. Because of the hefty download, you will need a dual layer DVD or USB drive if you plan on installing it on bare metal (single layer DVDs need not apply, in other words).
The next largest download is the 64 bit Windows 8 Developer Preview build that drops the development software and features only the 64 bit Windows 8 operating system and Metro style applications. This download weighs in at an easier to manage 3.6 GB .iso disk image. The minimum system requirements for both 64 bit builds include a 1 GHz or faster x64 CPU, at least 2 GB of RAM, 20 GB of hard drive space for installation, a WDDM 1.0 supported DirectX 9 capable graphics card, and a touch screen to utilize the touch functions.
The final download is a 32 bit version of Windows 8 with Metro style apps suited for older computers with less than 4 GB of memory or lacking 64 bit capable hardware. At 2.8 GB, this disk image is the smallest of the bunch.The Developer Preview. The minimum system requirements for this build are a 1 GHz or faster x86 processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of available hard drive space for installation, a DirectX 9 graphics card with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver support, and (I am embarrassed Microsoft believes this needs to be listed) a touch screen in order to take advantage of the touch screen functionality of the OS.
All three builds are of the English language variety and are available here for your downloading pleasure. Note that if you do choose to install the Windows 8 download on bare metal, you will need to wipe out your current installations, and a clean reinstall of your old operating system will be required to restore your system; therefore it would be prudent to at the very least make sure everything important is backed up before attempting the installation. For those less adventurous a free Virtualization program might be in order. Keeping in mind that performance will impacted by running it as a virtual machine, Virtual Box seems to handle Windows 8 very well using the Windows 7 64 bit settings after allocating 4 GB of RAM and the maximum amount of video memory. VM Ware and other paid solutions should also handle the operating system well enough for you to get an idea of Microsoft's vision for the operating system by using tweaked Windows 7 presets.
What features of the Windows 8 developer preview would you like to see tested out? After you've had a chance to check the operating system out for yourselves, let us know what you think of Windows 8 in the comments!
Subject: General Tech | September 3, 2011 - 07:31 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Media Center, htpc, microsoft, windows 8
There are quite a few aspects of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system that are still an unknown; however, a recent MSDN blog confirmed quite a few bits of software that will make the cut into the final version of the operating system. One piece of software in particular that will definitely be included in Windows 8 is Windows Media Center. Steven Sinofsky stated “I want to reassure customers that Media Center will definitely be part of Windows 8. No doubt about it.”
While the good news lies in Media Center’s inclusion in the new operating system, the announcement comes with two bits of bad news. Firstly, they are not able to release details about the Media Center application itself, so there are no details on any new features or speed increases. Further, Media Center will not be included in most of the pre-release builds of the operating system. While Microsoft reports that the beta testers of the application are pleased with it, the majority of consumers and enthusiasts will have to wait until the operating system gets closer to RTM (release to manufacturing) before getting a look at the application.
Microsoft further stated that the Media Center application will be included in the “premium” SKUs of the operating system, assuming the upcoming OS will imitate its predecessor’s multiple SKU strategy. More information on upcoming Windows 8 features can be found on the MSDN blog.
What are your thoughts on Media Center? Is it an application that you find useful, and if so what features would you most like to see improved upon? Personally, I use the Media Center extender functionality quite a bit to watch videos on the living room TV, and I would love to have Microsoft implement some performance increases to speed up the often pokey interface (which admittedly might be partly attributable to the Xbox 360’s hardware).
Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2011 - 08:50 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, VHD, microsoft, ISO
The Microsoft blog “Building Windows 8” reported today that the company’s next operating system, Windows 8, will support natively mounting ISO and VHD files. As a bit of background, ISO files are all the folders and files included on a CD or DVD encapsulated into a single file. Similarly VHD files are all the files and folders on a hard drive encapsulated into a single file. These VHD files are used primarily by Virtual Machine and imaging backup programs. Just as the OS did not support zip files out of the box for many iterations, ISO mounting has always required third party tools like Daemon Tools and SlySoft’s Virtual Clone Drive. However, it looks like the time has finally come for Microsoft to roll ISO mounting into the operating system. Steven Sinofsky stated that managing ISO and VHD files continue to be important for businesses and power users and that “we know even more support for VHD is a big request, so stay tuned.”
Rajeev Nagar, the group program manager on the Storage and File Systems Team, detailed how the ISO and VHD mounting will work in the upcoming Windows OS. For ISO files, users need only to select the ISO and choose the mount option in the Windows Explorer ribbon interface. Windows will then create a virtual CD/DVD drive with the files contained in the ISO available. The drive will also be able to eject the ISO file from the ribbon interface with a single click.
On the VHD, or Virtual Hard Drive, front, it is only a matter of double clicking on the VHD and allowing Windows to assign a drive letter and presenting users with all the files and folders contained in the VHD file. User will be able to interact with the virtual drive just as they would with a “normal” hard drive.
One issue with the ISO and VHD support in Windows 8 is that while users will be able to mount and interact with ISO and VHD files, they will not be able to create the files from scratch. Makers of ISO burning and VHD creating utilities are likely to appreciate still being relevant. Still, its a welcome step in the right direction for power users.
More information on Windows 8's native ISO and VHD support, including a video of it in action, is available on the MSDN blog.
Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2011 - 11:56 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, tablet, windows 8, microsoft, Intel
Two contrasting opinions appeared this morning on the internet, concerned with not only the future of mobile computing in a possibly post-PC market but also touching on the impact Microsoft's Windows 8 could have on that choice. DigiTimes has a report from Wistron, an original design manufacturer based in Taiwan, which is concerned with the ultrabook. They see the coming year as dominated by the contentious ultrabook platform which Intel has been talking up recently. The company managed US$21.1B in revenue last year, so they are neither a small player nor uninformed about the industry. That does leave one wondering how they plan on making a profit if the bill of materials is as high as some manufacturers have claimed. Still, that is where the manufacturer sees Windows 8 making the most difference to the market.
Ars Technica sees a different path for Microsoft to take, one that would be very different from the theory discussed by DigiTimes and very different from anything Microsoft has previously done. In this article, Ars suggests that the PC market is at a standstill because we have hit a post-PC market thanks to the tablet. While Microsoft has always considered the tablet to be a PC in a different form factor, Apple and other successful tablet marketers have visualized a completely different model. While Apple may have taken it to the most extreme, with no visible OS nor even a USB connector so you can transfer files directly from a camera or thumbdrive, nor hook up a wired peripheral. Other manufacturers have taken a less extreme approach but still hide the OS and have removed associated tasks like driver installation. That is very different from Microsoft's version of a tablet or phone which runs a trimmed down but still very recognizable OS and tends not to sell very well.
The question becomes one of design incompatibility; if Microsoft wants to release a Windows 8 which emulates the successful tablet OSes of the competition it will have to design something so different from their past OSes that it would be unrecognizable as a PC. In order to hide the OS and offload applications onto the cloud to make a perfect tablet the design choices would limit the effectiveness of Win8 as a PC OS. On the flip side, if they choose to design for the Ultrabook, risky in that we still have yet to hear the end of the pricing issues, the OS will be much lighter than previous versions but will still have a recognizable file system, the ability to update or customize drivers and all the other features common to netbooks through laptops. It will however not be a successful tablet OS, as history has shown with the failures of Microsoft's tablets and phones, some of which died before every being released.
The one thing that they can't do is try to make Windows 8 do both service as a laptop and a tablet OS. If they go that way, users on both sides of the divide will likely lose as you end up with an OS not customizable enough to do duty on a more powerful notebook or desktop. As well, it will have an interface which is similar to previous attempts by Microsoft to sell tablets which to this date have all failed against the competition.
"The launch of ultrabooks and Microsoft's Windows 8 OS will serve as growth drivers for the notebook industry in 2012, according to Simon Lin, chairman of Taiwan-based notebook ODM Wistron.
Shipments of ultrabooks will account for 10-20% of Wistron's total notebook shipments in 2012, Lin estimated.
Despite current economic turbulence touched off by debt issues in Europe and the US, Wistron's target to ship 30 million notebooks in 2011 remains unchanged, said Lin, who added that notebook Wistron's shipments will grow by a single-digit rate sequentially in the third and fourth quarters.
However, the company has slashed its LCD TV shipment target for the year to 8.5 million units, from 10 million units projected previously, while also scaling down the target for mobile devices from 10-12 million units to nine million.
Wistron has reported net profits of NT$4.5 billion (US$154.77 million) for the first half of 2011, down 20.44% from a year earlier. The earnings translated into an EPS of NT$2.28 for the six-month period."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- .NET Framework "1935 Error" Cripples Some Users' Office, IE9 Installs @ DailyTech
- And the Bulldozer die size is…….. @ SemiAccurate
- FPGA bitcoin miner is probably the most power efficient. @ Hack a Day
- Linux 3.1 Kernel Draws More Power With Another Regression @ Phoronix
- McAfee defends against Kaspersky's Shady RAT alarmist jibe @ The Inquirer
- Asus Black Diamond RT-N56U Router and USB-N13 Adapter Review @ OCIA
- Google Launches Identity Verification Badge Scheme @ Slashdot
- Video: Shocking [Jack] into submission with High Voltage @ Hack a Day
- Skype buys communications firm Groupme @ The Inquirer
- The TR Podcast 94: Dorm PCs and playing with blocks
- Real World Labs And Antec Joint Contest
- Cooler Master Silencio, GX 550 and Sentinal Giveaway @ XSReviews
Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2011 - 07:54 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, operating system, microsoft
Windows XP is almost old enough that revisionist historians can have a crack at it without anyone speaking out against it. That is, it would be if not for the large number of users still using the operating system at their home and work. The decade old operating system has only now fallen below 50% of Windows' market share. More specifically, the slip in market share occurred between June and July where it fell 0.63% to a total of 49.94%.
The numbers are percentages of MS's total 87.66% market share.
In comparison, Windows Vista holds a much smaller 9.24% market share after dropping 0.28%. Microsoft’s most recent operating system, Windows 7; meanwhile, saw a gain of 0.74% to a total of 27.87% market share, which puts the new operating system well on its way to overtaking the XP juggernaut. Techspot has the full scoop on the market share situation, which you can read about here.
Are you still using Windows XP?
Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2011 - 12:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: qdos, msdos, microsoft
Back in the ancient days before the comment "Drop to command prompt" made sense as the command prompt a little known company called Microsoft bought QDOS and renamed it as MS DOS. That was also back when IBM was the be all and end all of 8086 (and 8080) processors and planned for their newly designed Personal Computer to run an OS called CP/M-86 but couldn't get a good enough deal on the licensing; which lead to Microsoft's product being adopted. It also lead to the Personal Computer catching on much more quickly and thoroughly than anyone predicted.
From that humble beginning came what was first used to slow your 386DX based computer enough to be able to control Wing Commander and now controls almost 90% of the PCs currently running and keeps techs employed world wide..
"Thirty years ago, on July 27 1981, Microsoft bought the rights for QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) from Seattle Computer Products (SCP) for $25,000. QDOS, otherwise known as 86-DOS, was designed by SCP to run on the Intel 8086 processor, and was originally thrown together in just two months for a 0.1 release in 1980."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How to build your own quadcopter, step by step @ Hack a Day
- Stuxnet clones may target critical US systems, DHS warns @ The Register
- LSI samples three SAS12 chips @ SemiAccurate
- Intel gives former CFO Bryant the chair @ The Register
- Kit steals Mac login passwords through FireWire port @ The Register
- Apple Gets It. @ t-break
- Picture Collage Maker Pro 3 Review @ BayReviews
- soundscience Halo Bias Lighting Review @ OCC
- Weekly Giveaway #8: NZXT H2, fans, Source 210 Elite and Avatar S Mouse @ eTeknix
- Real World Labs And FinalWire Joint Contest
Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2011 - 10:14 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, microsoft, branding
Microsoft and their Windows brand have always been synonymous where it comes to Operating Systems. As someone who grew up with Windows 3.1, I have grown up seeing Microsoft through the proverbial Window(s). As such, Windows has been a brand that has always been around, and one that I assumed would always be around. In a surprise twist; however, This Is My Next reports that Microsoft may be dropping the Windows brand for their future operating systems after Windows 8.
Look how far the MS OS logo has come. What does the future hold?
Windows 8 is already incorporating tile elements of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 and Xbox elements in the form of a re-branded Games For Windows Live service. It seems logical; therefore, that Microsoft would want to even further integrate their mobile, gaming, and computing platforms into one cohesive unit. This Is My Next reports that the future OS will present a single Operating System and UI features across all devices and platforms. They further quote Andy Lees in stating that the single ecosystem would facilitate consistency across all Microsoft powered platforms and “the goal isn’t just to share UI, but also core technologies like Internet Explorer.”
You can read more about the “Next Next” OS over at This Is My Next. What are your opinions on the proposed branding theme? Do you have any fold memories of the Windows brand?
Subject: General Tech | June 24, 2011 - 12:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: .net, longhorn, microsoft, windows, winfx
Way back in the beginning of the 00's, before Win7 was Win7, Microsoft announced the development of a new OS that was named Longhorn. This was an ambitious plan to move from the old Win32 programming interface to a newcomer called .NET which Microsoft had designed to be an alternative to both Win32 and VisualBasic. There would still be backwards compatiblity with Win32 apps but no more extensions to the API would be created. Of course as we know this project never saw the light of day and Win7 remained dependant on the two old, if familiar APIs.
Now, in a move that is hard to judge if it is a mean trick or an honest attempt to placate the hoards of fuming .NET programmers, Microsoft has announced that Longhorn is not dead; it was just resting. Windows 8 will ship with a pair of runtimes, .NET 4.5, and a C++ implemention which will be called WinRT and do everything Win32 could do and more and will work with the new user interface design tool they're calling DirectUI. Even Silverlight is being integrated into the APIs, which means all that training in Microsoft programming may pay off in the end. Drop by Ars Technica and decide if this is bull or not.
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How the Lytro No-Focus Light Field Camera Changes Photography @ ExtremeTech
- Microsoft BPOS biz-cloud hit by another outage @ The Register
- The Linux 3.0 Kernel With EXT4 & Btrfs @ Phoronix
- Weekly Giveaway #3: TWO x Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 FleX Edition 1GB Graphics Cards @ eTeknix