Subject: General Tech | October 11, 2012 - 02:17 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: windows 8, WD, RE, podcast, Iconia, gtx 650 Ti, acer, 7990, 650ti, 4TB
PC Perspective Podcast #222 - 10/11/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the NVIDIA GTX 650 Ti, Western Digital RE 4TB, Windows 8 Tablets, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano
Program length: 1:15:10
Podcast topics of discussion:
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:29:45 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
News items of interest:
- 0:30:33 AMURICA! JERBS! Lenovo Opening Line in US
- 0:31:15 Qualcomm Joins HSA Foundation
- 0:36:00 Acer Talks about Their Windows 8 Tablets
- 0:41:40 7990 is a Thing? Well Now There's a Cheaper Thing of the Thing
- 0:44:20 AMD Z-Series APU for Tablets
- 0:48:15 Logitech Makes Their First Mechanical Keyboard
- 0:49:40 Thermaltake Level 10 GT Battle Edition Case
- 0:52:20 AMD Radeon Memory RAMDisk
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Subject: Mobile | October 9, 2012 - 12:09 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, microsoft, Intel, iconia w510, atom, acer
Earlier this month, Acer announced its Ivy Bridge powered W700 tablet, and now it is time for its little brother to be announced: the Iconia W510 convertible tablet.
The Iconia W510 is a 10.1” tablet that will run Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system and any x86 applications. The tablet itself is 1.27 pounds and 0.35” thick. On the outside, the W510 features a LED backlit IPS display with resolution of 1366 x 768 that can accept touch input and is protected by Gorilla Glass 2. Also present are two speakers, as well as a 2MP front facing camera and 8MP rear camera. Both of the cameras are capable of recording 1080p video.
Ports on the Iconia W510 include a microSD card slot, micro HDMI video output, and a micro USB 2.0 port.
Internal specifications include an Intel Atom Z2760 Clover Trail processor (which we recently reviewed) with two cores running at 1.5 GHz, 2GB of RAM, and either a 32 GB or 64 GB solid state drive (SSD). This configuration should result in a decent system for web browsing and running Office 2013, among other everyday tasks. It will not be nearly as speedy as the Ivy Bridge-powered W700, but this tablet is also coming in at a much lower price point.
In addition to the tablet itself, Acer will be selling a keyboard dock. The $150 keyboard docks adds a physical keyboard, trackpad, and second battery. The dock also adds one additional (full size) USB 2.0 port.
Without the keyboard dock, Acer is claiming 9 hours of battery life. With the dock connected, Acer is further claiming that users will get up to 18 hours of battery life.
There will be at least three SKUs of the Acer Iconia W510 tablet. It will be available for purchase in the US and Canada on November 9th. The W510-1674 will feature a 32GB SSD and no dock at a MSRP of $499.99. The W51-1422, on the other hand, will have a 64GB SSD and a bundled keyboard dock for $749.99 (MSRP). Finally, corporate customers will be able to purchase a W510P SKU with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and a two year warranty for $799.99.
You can find more photos of the Icona W510 along with the full press release over at Engadget.
Read more about upcoming Windows 8 tablets at PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 5, 2012 - 01:31 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, w700, tablet, ssd, Ivy Bridge, Intel, acer
First announced at Computex 2012, Acer is finally ready to share all the details (including pricing) on its upcoming Iconia W700 Windows 8 tablet.
For the uninitiated, the W700 is the top-end tablet in its Iconia W series. It will be based on an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i3 or Core i5 processor, 64GB or 128GB SSD, HD4000 graphics (intel processor graphics) and a battery that allegedly provides up to 8 hours of usage. That hardware is powering a 11.6” IPS display with 10-point multitouch and a resolution of 1920x1080. It further features a rear 5MP camera with autofocus and 1080p video recording and a front-facing webcam capable of recording 720p video.
The tablet also includes 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi as well as various sensors for map applications including a(n oddly named) “G-sensor,” accelerometer, and an E-compass. [No mention of a GPS chip though, so it’s unclear how useful the other map technology will be…]
External I/O includes three USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, micro HDMI port, headphone output jack, and DC power jack.
Because of the Ivy Bridge CPU, the tablet has ventilation slots along the top edge of the tablet. It is less than half an inch thick and weighs in at 2.3 pounds.
Also relevant is that the Acer Iconia W700 will have an accessory dock that will hold the tablet in portrait mode at 70 ° for reading or 20 ° for an angled touchscreen. The dock can also hold the W700 tablet in portrait mode for reading ebooks and the like. A Bluetooth keyboard and micro-HDMI to VGA adapter are also available as bundled accessories.
Engadget takes a tour of the Acer ICONIA W700 Windows 8 tablet.
As far as new information goes, the W700 will be available on October 26 (Windows 8’s release day). There will be several SKUs with different levels of hardware (ie. Core i3 vs Core i5). MSRPs of the W700 tablet will range from $799.99 to $999.99 depending on the particular hardware configuration. Further, if you are an Acer corporate customer, you will be able to get the W700 tablet with an extended two year warranty and Windows 8 Pro for $1,049.99. You can find read the full press release on the Acer website.
The prices do seem to be on the high end for a Windows 8 tablet, but ASUS’ leaked Windows 8 tablet prices are not far off.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 29, 2012 - 11:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Windows Store, windows 8, censorship
And by the way -- Windows Store will censor apps. More on that later.
So around the same time as my future of Windows editorial became published PC Mag published a related piece: Notch from Mojang outrages over certification for Windows Store. Mojang voiced his concerns for the platform and its attempts to “ruin the PC as an open platform.”
I have, and continue to, claim that Microsoft appears to want to close the Windows platform in a near-future revision of the platform. Once there is enough software available through Windows Update and Windows Store it seems highly likely that Microsoft will remove all other ways on to your device -- as they have done with Windows RT. The concept of a cross-device, controlled, and secure platform is just too tempting.
Loyal, but not stupid.
But backwards compatibility is not the only concern with going metro. Everything must be certified.
Indeed - as of the latest July 2012 certification requirements for Windows Store - Microsoft will predictably be censoring applications just as they do with the Xbox. Section 5.8 and 6.2 of the aforementioned certification requirements clearly state: applications must not contain excess or gratuitous profanity and applications must also not contain adult content. Of course this is aimed squarely at the various niches of adult
graphic novels (correction: I apparently meant visual novels, not graphic novels - but I'm sure those would not be let on the Windows Store either) and similarly themed interactive content and the message is clear: get out and stay out.
I can think of a couple of countries where that will not fly.
To be fair Microsoft has addressed the issue in the very same section with the following clause:
We understand that in some cases, apps provide a gateway to retail content, user generated content, or web based content. We classify those apps as either Storefront apps, whose primary function is to aggregate and sell third party media or apps, or Streaming apps, whose primary function is to aggregate and stream web-based images, music, video or other media content. In some cases, it may be acceptable for a Storefront or Streaming app to include some content that might otherwise be prohibited in a single purpose app.
The clause functionally means: “Yeah we know web browsers cannot prevent themselves from surfing to the wrong side of the internet’s metaphorical tracks. This is not an excuse to ban them.” It also does not limit the censorship that Microsoft is clearly imposing.
And frankly the issue is not even with adult content; the issue is with the certification itself. We are at a point where Microsoft seems to want us to accept and migrate to their closed platform where everything is certified.
But what if future certification seriously limits or disables 3rd party modifications to software like attempted with Games for Windows Live? What if Microsoft decides to charge developers tens of thousands of dollars just to certify a patch? These are all serious issues to think about.
While you are thinking - consider a plan to simply ditch the Windows platform altogether and go with an open platform we can actually trust.
Or: the countdown to a fresh Start.
Over time – and not necessarily much of it – usage of a platform can become a marriage. I trusted Windows, nee MS-DOS, guardianship over all of my precious applications which depend upon it. Chances are you too have trusted Microsoft or a similar proprietary platform holder to provide a household for your content.
It is time for a custody hearing.
These are the reasons why I still use Windows – and who could profit as home wreckers.
1st Reason – Games
The most obvious leading topic.
Computer games have been dominated by Windows for quite some time now. When you find a PC game at retail or online you will find either a Windows trademark or the occasional half-eaten fruit somewhere on the page or packaging.
One of the leading reasons for the success of the PC platform is the culture of backwards compatibility. Though the platform has been rumored dead ad-infinitum it still exists – surrounded by a wasteland of old deprecated consoles. I still play games from past decades on their original platform.
Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2012 - 09:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8 rt, windows 8, tablet 810, tablet 600, microsoft, ifa 2012, ifa, asus vivo, asus
During Computex 2012 in June, ASUS showed off two new tablet computers that at the time were labeled the ASUS Tablet 810 and Tablet 600 respectively. At the company’s booth, they had both models on display and released some basic specifications on the machines. It seems that the two Windows 8 tablets are closer to launch as they now have official names and what appears to be final specs.
The ASUS Tablet 810 and 600 are now part of the company’s Vivo series and will be named the Vivo Tab and Vivo Tab RT at launch. We now know the final specifications, but pricing is still up in the air. On or around October 26, 2012 would be a good guess as far as when they will be available for purchase as several other tablet launches are set to coincide with the official launch of Windows 8.
In many respects, the two Vivo tabs are Transformer tablets – only running Windows 8 instead of Android. The two Vivo tabs are touchscreen-enabled tablets with a dockable keyboard that turns in into a laptop.
Here's what is official so far on the two new Vivo tablets.
ASUS Vivo Tab
Formerly known as the ASUS Tablet 810, the Vivo Tab is an 11" tablet measuring 8.7mm thick and weighing 675 grams. It features an 11.6" SuperIPS+ display at 1366x768 resolution as well as an 8 MP rear camera with LED flash and autofocus, and a 2 MP webcam on the front. On the inside is an Intel Atom (Clover Trail) processor, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC internal memory. For those enticed by styluses (styli?), the Vivo Tab has you covered as well with a Wacom digitizer offering up to 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity.
The Vivo Tab can further be docked with a keyboard. The keyboard is similar to the one used by the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer due to offering up a full QWERTY keyboard, trackpad, USB port, and second battery that adds some additional life to the Vivo Tab. The Vivo Tab will run Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system and will be able to access both the traditional desktop applications as well as Modern UI/Metro UI/Windows 8-Style UI/Whatever-it-is-called-this-week UI apps via the Windows Store thanks to its x86 architecture. Other features include Wi-Fi, NFC, and SonicMaster audio. If I had to guess, I would estimate it to cost between $100 and $200 more than the Transformer Prime (ie priced around $550). Compared to the recently announced Transformer Infinity, it should be about $70 more since the Infinity is priced at $488 on Amazon at time of writing. Granted, the atom architecture is not going to cost $200 more to implement, but that – in addition to a Windows license – will likely add up to a bit of a premium over the Android-powered Transformer line.
ASUS Vivo Tab RT
The ASUS Vivo Tab RT is a 10" tablet that is 8.3mm thick and weights 520 grams – a bit smaller (and lighter) than the Vivo Tab and Transformer. The Vivo Tab RT is even closer to the Eee Pad Transformer due to its Tegra 3 underpinnings (Tegra 3 "4+1" core processor+12 core GPU). On the other hand, the Vivo Tab RT has a total of 2GB of RAM (the Transformer has only 1GB) and 32GB of internal storage. It will run the ARM version of Windows 8 called Windows RT, and will have access to Metro apps as well as the full Microsoft Office. However, other traditional desktop applications will not run on the ARM-powered tablet. On the outside, the Vivo Tab RT features a 10.1" SuperIPS+ touchscreen display with resolution of 1366x768, an 8MP rear camera (with LED flash and autofocus), and a 2MP webcam on the front of the device. It also supports SonicMaster-powered audio.
The Vivo Tab does not have the Wacom digitizer of its larger Vivo Tab relative, but it does feature a similar keyboard dock. The docks packs an additional battery, full QWERTY keyboard, trackpad, and USB port. While the Vivo Tab's (Tablet 810) keyboard dock is silver with black keys, the Vivo Tab RT's keyboard dock is all black and slightly smaller to match the width of the 10" tablet. I would expect this one to be priced more in line with the latest Transformer tablet with a small premium for the Windows license due to being very similar hardware specifications-wise.
The table below shows the specifications of the Vivo Tab, Vivo Tab RT, and the Transformer Prime which represent the latest ASUS has to offer in the dockable tablet department.
|ASUS Vivo Tab||ASUS Vivo Tab RT||ASUS Transformer Prime||ASUS Transformer Infinity|
|Processor/SoC||Intel Atom||NVIDIA Tegra 3||NVIDIA Tegra 3||NVIDIA Tegra 3|
|Display||10.1" Super IPS+ @ 1366x768||11.6" Super IPS+ @ 1366x768||10.1" IPS @ 1280x800||10.1" Super IPS+ @ 1920x1200|
|Camera(s)||8MP rear, 2MP front||8MP rear, 2MP front||8MP rear, 1.2MP front||8MP rear, 2MP front|
|Size||8.7mm thick||8.3mm thick||10.4" x 7.1" x .3"||10.4" x 7.1" x .3" (8.5mm thick)|
As the chart above illustrates, the Vivo Tabs are an improvement in almost every respect versus the Android-powered Transformer Prime in boasting more memory, better cameras – and in the Vivo Tab's case – being thinner and lighter. On the other hand, the Transformer Prime offers up a 1280x800 resolution panel such that when it is in laptop mode you will have a bit more vertical space. Further, the recently launched ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity has the best display of the bunch with 1920x1200 resolution. As far as weight, it fits between the Vivo Tab RT and Vivo Tab while being closer in physcial dimensions to the Vivo Tab RT. The Infinity's only negative versus the Windows 8 tablets specifications-wise is memory as it has only 1GB of DDR3L RAM, though it should not be a huge performance hit.
Further, the Transformers should be cheaper than the Windows-powered tablets. I do think that there is a place for both Android and Windows 8 tablets, and ASUS seems to believe that as well. Price is likely going to be the deciding factor for many, so I am anxious to learn just how much the Vivo-series tablets are going to cost.
Have you been eyeing a Windows 8 tablet, and if so which one? Are you holding out for the Microsoft Surface?
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Windows RT tablet coverage!
Continue reading to see videos of the Vivo tablets in action!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2012 - 02:20 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: consolitis, windows 8
Microsoft has announced that 40 Xbox Live games will ship for Windows 8 PC, laptops, and tablets on its October 26th launch date. Microsoft also continues to misunderstand why Games for Windows Live failed in the first place.
Xbox has all but become the quasi-official branding for Microsoft’s gaming initiatives.
Microsoft suffered a substantial black-eye from their Games for Windows Live initiative. While the service does not live up to its anti-hype it does illustrate how Microsoft lost their PC gaming audience: gamers who do not choose a console do not want a console. PC gamers might wish for a cheaper experience due to the lack of license fees; they might prefer the mouse and keyboard; or they might wish to play games for longer than a console lifecycle.
If they pass up your console platform – hand delivering it on a silver platter will still be a decline gesture.
This time it seems more like Microsoft has given up trying to appease PC gamers. Rather than trying to satisfy the needs of the PC gaming audience (Seriously! It’s not that hard.) Microsoft would prefer to hand the PC gaming market to the console crowd and hope that they find some value to the platform.
This move seems just as risky to me as simply keeping PC gamers satisfied. The console model is designed around squirreling away as many license fees as you can possibly hide to appear less costly than the PC alternative – without actually being cheaper of course since otherwise who would pay the extra middleman? There is a lot of risk in transitioning to a new platform and they are betting their PC stronghold in the intersection between Apple fans and people who lock themselves in against PC gaming.
Or maybe the platter is served by Gabe Newell… dressed with a Tux.
Subject: Mobile | August 31, 2012 - 04:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xps 12 ultrabook, xps 10 tablet, windows rt, windows 8, ultrabook, tablet, ifa, dell, convertible tablet, all-in-one
The IFA 2012 (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) electronics show is in full swing today and will be a week-long event where we should see several new product announcements similar in form to CES and Computex. That means photos, videos, and hands-on time with lots of new and shiny hardware. Earlier this week, ASUS announced two new tablets, and now Dell is jumping into the fray with three new XPS computers running Windows 8!
Dell is set up with displays at this years IFA 2012 conference where it is showing off several new systems running Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT. The company is preparing offerings on all fronts with a tablet, ultrabook, and all-in-one desktop running Microsoft's upcoming operating system: the XPS 10 tablet, XPS Duo 12 Ultrabook, and the XPS One 27 All-In-One (AIO) PC respectively.
The Dell XPS 10 is a new tablet that resembles the Asus Transformer due to its dock-able nature. The tablet will be powered by an ARM processor and will run the accompanying Windows RT version of Windows 8. The 10" tablet has rounded corners along with a glossy black front and silver-colored trim around the bezel. The only physical button on the face of the device is the Windows Start button. It can be docked with a keyboard and trackpad combo to turn the tablet into a portable laptop as well.
Alternatively, the XPS Duo 12 steps up the build quality and specifications and packs it into a convertible tablet. While it will need to be tested independently to determine how well it's built, the materials Dell is using are a step up from the XPS 10 as the Duo 12 is constructed using machined aluminum, carbon fiber, and the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. Not too shabby for an ultraportable! Unfortunately, there are no specifications on the internal hardware, but you can expect it to be running an AMD or Intel-based x86-64 CPU as this convertible tablet is running Windows 8. On the outside, Dell has stated that the display will have a resolution of 1920x1080.
The company has gone an interesting direction to make the Duo 12 a convertible laptop. Instead of turning the laptop lid around a vertical axis like the Dell Latitude XT (yes, I'm overdue for a laptop upgrade heh), the Duo 12 has a traditional laptop lid and horizontal hinge. Instead of swiveling the entire lid, the Duo 12 only flips around the display itself. It is not a completely new design, but it is relatively rare compared to the much more popular Transformer-style docks. Assuming it's solidly built, I think this design is actually superior than the company's other convertible offerings as the hinge should be much stronger and the display should be less wobbly when typing.
The XPS Duo 12 further features an integrated keyboard and trackpad along with at least two USB ports and an SD card reader. The keys do not look like they have much, if any, travel but otherwise it looks like a really neat machine (I'm also biased in favor of convertible tablets though... yeah I'm one of "those" geeks hehe). The biggest question in my mind about this tablet is pricing, however. If Dell prices it in like with the similarly spec'd Surface, I think it would sell fairly well. On the other hand, if they go the opposite route and price it at a couple thousand as a premium convertible tablet, I do not see it doing well against ultrabooks and Microsoft's upcoming Surface.
Finally, Dell showed off an updated version of its 27" All-In-One desktop PC that will come equipped with a touchscreen. As an update to the currently available XPS 27 AIO, the new model will add a touchscreen panel to the 2560x1440 IPS "Wide Quad HD" (whatever that is heh) panel. You can also expect the computer to be powered by third-generation "Ivy Bridge" Core i5 or Core i7 Intel processors, up to 8GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM, and up to 2TB of hard drive storage along with a 32GB solid state drive. The system will run the x64 version of Windows 8 and you can expect it to cost around (but a bit more than) the current XPS 27 AIO thanks to the addition of the touchscreen input device. For reference, current (non-touchscreen) XPS 27 models range from $1,399.99 to $1,899.99 USD.
I think that Dell is off to a good start with Windows 8 support. Nothing mind-blowing but they still look like interesting additions and updates to the company's product lineup. The biggest factor in me being personally interested in these machines is the price, and unfortunately Dell has not yet released that bit of information. Dell has stated that they will be available once Windows 8 launches, which is October 26th.
What do you think of Dell's Windows 8 PC offerings?
Dell has made the full press release available on its website, and you can see more photos of the new Windows 8 XPS computers after the break!
Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2012 - 12:51 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, Windows 7, upgrade, microsoft
If you are finding it difficult to delay the purchase of that shiny new computer until after Windows 8 comes out, Microsoft has a solution for you. Thanks to the Windows Upgrade Offer, you can buy a new PC now and be eligible to upgrade to Windows 8 for $14.99.
Starting June 2nd 2012, if you purchase a new PC with Windows 7 you are eligible for a discounted upgrade to Windows 8. This ensures that you are able to run the latest Microsoft operating system even if you buy a new PC before it is released. Eligible PCs include any OEM machine pre-installed with the following operating system SKUs using a valid product key:
- Windows 7 Home Basic
- Windows 7 Home Premium
- Windows 7 Professions
- Windows 7 Ultimate
This does include OEM machines with System Builder (COEM) versions of Windows 7, which means if you buy a system put together by a DIY builder, you are still eligible for the discounted pricing. One caveat is that computers with Windows 7 Starter are not eligible for the discounted Windows 8 pricing.
Further, there is a maximum of five upgrades per customer and one per machine, so at most you could get five upgrades to Windows 8 at the $14.99 price when you purchase five or more new PCs.
The $14.99 price gets you a downloadable upgrade version of Windows 8 Pro. This version can be used on any computer with a previous version of Windows installed to upgrade from. In that respect, it is just like any other upgrade version of Windows 8 and could be given to someone else if you wanted to stick with Windows 7 on your new PC. Microsoft is further willing to provide a physical copy of the upgrade, but it will cost you an additional fee (exact fee not stated).
The other limitation is that this upgrade version comes without the add-on pack that includes Windows Media Center. If you want that feature, you will have to pay for it at an undiscounted price.
The promotional period ends January 31, 2013 which is the same day that the $39.99 promotional upgrade price for everyone else ends. (No word yet on whether there will also be student promos like Windows 7 had, however.)
Microsoft’s registration page recently went live. If you are interested in getting the discounted pricing, you will need to register for the deal and provide purchase information and the product key for version of Windows that came pre-installed on your computer. Once Windows 8 is officially released on October 26, 2012 Microsoft will email you a download link and product key.
Windows 8 is somewhat controversial release but at least Microsoft is pricing it attractively.
Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2012 - 11:38 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, skydrive, microsoft, cloud storage
Earlier this month, Microsoft gave its webmail service an overhaul and rebranding from Hotmail to Outlook.com. In our preview of the service, I noted that while Outlook.com is integrated with SkyDrive, the company's cloud storage web interface was still using the same old UI. Fortunately, the company has taken the need for an updated interface for SkyDrive to heart and has given SkyDrive the same Modern-UI facelift as Outlook.com. Welcome to the new SkyDrive.
Skydrive is now broken up into two main panels with an action bar along the top. It looks very similar to Outlook.com in that respect. The left panel contains a search box as well as links to your Skydrive folders, shared items, groups, and connected computers (with the SkyDrive app installed). The right panel is where the folders and files are displayed.
The "Recent docs" link in the left panel does just what the name implies: opens a list of the most recently accessed documents. The "Shared" link displays a list of all the files and folders that are being shared with you. The "Groups" link opens a page in the right panel where you can create and manage sharing groups. You can create a group of people in your family with which you share out photos in certain folders, for example. Basically, it just makes it easier to share with multiple people.
Along the top is a bar with links. In the top-left corner is a Skydrive button that brings up the same Metro/Modern UI tiles that link to other Microsoft services.
Along that same blue action bar are links to create, upload, share, and manipulate your SkyDrive data. The "Create" link allows you create a new folder or document. Using Microsoft's web apps (in the future it may integrate with the remote-accessible versions of Office 2013 but for now it's the same old Office Web Apps), you can further create new Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents.
You can further use the upload button to not only add files but multiple files at a time (finally!). Unfortunately, it is still not possible to select and upload folders but the ability to select multiple files for uploading is a step in the right direction. Technically, it has been possible to upload multiple files before now, but it required you to use Internet Explorer. In order to upload entire folders, you will need to use the SkyDrive application. The "Share" button is fairly self-explanatory and works the same as it always has. You can send files in an email, post to Facebook, or get a link that you can then send to anyone you want to have access to the file(s) or folder. Finally, the Folder Actions button provides a drop-down menu that provides the following options for the selected items: download, embed, order prints, delete, move, and view properties.
In all, the action buttons have been simplified and are large enough that they should be easy to see and hit on mobile devices with touchscreens. It is much easier to navigate around as well. When you log into the SkyDrive site, it defaults to the "Files" tab and presents you with a collection of thumbnails listing folders and files. If the file is a photo or if it is a folder that contains photos, the icon will be a "live tile" that displays an icon of the photo or the photos it contains respectively (it cycles through multiple photos in a mini-slideshow). On the other hand, if there are no photos inside the folder, the icon will simply be a solid color with the file/folder name in text in the bottom-left corner of the rectangular tile. To the right of the name is a number that represents the number of files or sub-folders inside.
In my SkyDrive folder list, the tiles appear to be a bit messy as not all folders are live tiles. And when they are not live–and just a large solid colored rectangle– it results in a lot of wasted space (and relatively small text). Alternatively, there is also a more traditional details list view that presents files similar to Windows Explorer (and the traditional SkyDrive interface).
You can view photos within the SkyDrive web interface and open documents with the Office Web Apps service, but for any other files you will have to download them in order to open and view them. Just like the Outlook.com interface, you can enable the messaging sidebar to talk with your friends on the various social networks. In the bottom-left corner, Microsoft shows the amount of storage space you have remaining in your SkyDrive. If you click on "Manage Storage" beneath the remaining storage number, you get a new Metro options menu. Here you can opt into the new office web apps, disable people tagging, upgrade storage, and set the default file format to either Microsoft Office Open XML or OpenDocument Format which is nice to see.
Overall, the new SkyDrive interface is a nice improvement offering a cleaner interface and simplified navigation. It now fits in nicely when transitioning between SkyDrive.com, Outlook.com, and the People and Calendar apps. When navigating around the SkyDrive site, it feels much more responsive than it used to, and the ability to add multiple files without needing to use Internet Explorer is a feature I've been waiting for (for a long time). Not being able to add folders is a bummer, and in that respect using the SkyDrive Windows app is still easier, but in general the new SkyDrive will make accessing my files from a remote computer using the website a more enjoyable experience!
Have you tried out the overhauled SkyDrive web interface yet?