Subject: General Tech | May 30, 2012 - 11:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, windows, software, release preview, operating systems, microsoft
Update: The Windows 8 Release Preview is now official. You can download the ISO images here. If you are following our installation guide, you will need to use the following CD Key to complete the installation: TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF.
According to The Verge, Microsoft fans will be getting a nice surprise tomorrow when the company releases the Release Preview of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system. What was first set to debut in early June, sources are indicating that Microsoft will officially release it tomorrow–a week early.
The Release Preview is Microsoft’s third official build for public consumption, following the Developer and Consumer previews respectively. This build is said to include hints at what the aero-less desktop will look like (though users won’t see the full UI changes until the final retail build) as well as built-in Adobe Flash in the Metro UI version of Internet Explorer. Although I can’t say I’m thrilled about the many changes in Windows 8, I’ll still be downloading the new Release Preview to give Microsoft another chance to make me like Windows 8 (hopefully they can). If you do download it, don’t forget about our Windows 8 Virtual Machine installation guide.
Will you be checking out the Release Preview?
In other Windows 8 news:
- Microsoft Taking out DVD Playback (codecs) in Windows 8
- Windows Media Center a Pro-only paid add-on
- Dell tablet running Windows 8 news
- Install Windows 8 In a Virtual Machine
Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 29, 2012 - 11:33 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: z2670, windows 8, dell, clover trail, atom
In a leaked slide posted by Neowin.net, details of Dell's upcoming Latitude 10 tablet are coming to light, including hardware specifications like the Intel Atom Z2670 "Clover Trail" SoC.
This 10.1-in Windows 8 based tablet will include a 1366x768 display with a capacitive multi-touch screen and an optional stylus accessory. Weighing in at just over 1.5 pounds, the Latitude 10 is just slightly heavier than the latest generation of iPad (1.46 pounds).
Intel's upcoming Atom processor, the Z2670, will be at the core of the design and will be based on the "Clover Trail" design, a slightly faster and updated version of "Medfield" we have seen implemented on mobile phones early in 2012. With dual-cores capable of HyperThreading, and the ability to enter into "Burst Mode" which offers "quick bursts of extra performance when called upon", the Atom Z2670 should be capable of presenting a reasonable Windows 8 experience.
Other specifications include 2 GB of DDR2-800 lower power memory, up to a 128 GB SSD, 2 and 4 cell swappable batteries and front plus rear facing cameras.
With Computex 2012 right around the corner in Taipei, Taiwan, we expect to see quite a few more tablets and hybrid machines based on Windows 8 including Intel Atom-powered devices as well as ARM-based devices running Windows 8 RT.
Windows 8 gives a little more attention to multiple monitors. Oh look -- a feature for traditional PCs.
Subject: General Tech, Displays | May 24, 2012 - 08:22 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 8, multi monitor
PC Mag highlights enhanced support for multiple monitor systems in the upcoming Windows 8 Release Preview. It is like Microsoft has finally thrown a bone to the desktop and to a lesser extent, the laptop. Some features that were mentioned in the article have been around for a while, however.
If you have given the gift of a multiple monitor setup -- do not expect a take-backsies without a fight.
Chloe Albanesius of PC Mag wrote an article which outlines what enhanced support multiple monitor users will experience if they move to Windows 8. A refreshing suspend of the ctrl-alt-deleterious news. Or maybe Microsoft was just afraid of being attacked with vestigial display cables?
Just think of the possibilities of per-monitor backgrounds… a shrine just for Josh...
The article opens with a description of the author’s triple monitor setup. Oddly enough my layout is very often an exact mirror image of her layout, horizontally. I would not be surprised if that choice was due to my left-handedness -- very amused, but not surprised.
Windows 8 will make it easy to load different backgrounds for each monitor but earlier versions were capable of that for as long as I could remember. The trick is to create a single very large background image in a program like Photoshop or The GIMP. This very large image must have the same dimensions as the sum of your monitor resolutions horizontally by the sum of your monitor resolutions vertically. The top left of that image is the top left of your “primary” monitor. Fill in the backgrounds wherever the desired monitor falls on that grid -- making sure to put whatever is above and to the left of the top left corner of the primary monitor at the extreme right and bottom. Set that background to “tiled” and you are set.
Notice how I never said that making it easier would be unwelcomed rather just that it was already possible.
The more important features include the ability to enable the taskbar on each monitor and customize how icons will appear for each display. That, combined with enabling corner context support for each monitor should help alleviate some of the juggling over real estate on the primary monitor.
You should be able to see all the changes for multiple monitor users in the upcoming Windows 8 Release Preview.
That is, of course, unless Microsoft ends up starting from scratch before they launch -- again.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | May 23, 2012 - 10:46 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: WOA, windows 8, flash
Microsoft has backed down, to some extent, from their “plug-in free; web standards only” position for the Metro-half of IE10. Some, but not all, Flash content will be able to play in the Metro browser. This change should be included in the Windows 8 Release Preview expected to be released in early June.
You may turn your back on Adobe but you’ll be back in a Flash.
Rafael Rivera has published a post on his Within Windows blog which he co-authored with Paul Thurrott about Flash integration with the Metro web browser. Until recently Microsoft was passionately against anything other than web standards in their Metro browser. Plugins are still not allowed in the application but that does not exclude Microsoft from embedding Flash into the browser directly.
I guess Silverlight is not popular enough…
(screenshot credit: Within Windows)
Adobe actively supports Microsoft’s efforts and has provided the source code to facilitate the integration into Metro Internet Explorer 10.
Security will rest somewhat on Microsoft’s ability to patch their software in time but will also be supported by a whitelist system. Flash for Internet Explorer 10 will only be supported on certain websites in certain ways. Unless your website is listed as requiring Flash for compatibility reasons then your website will not have access to the platform.
I am not really sure whether there is a cut or dry answer to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. The only thing I can say for certain is that Microsoft gives the impression that they had a strong and clear vision for Windows 8 and since completely abandoned their plan.
It follows the rumors of what happened to Vista: a bunch of years working on a secure memory management architecture that was scrapped at the last minute requiring over half of the OS to be rewritten in C++.
We all know how great that turned out.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 20, 2012 - 04:03 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 8, Aero
Paul Thurrott reports that Microsoft will dump Aero Glass in lieu of a more flat user interface for Windows 8. How far is Microsoft willing to distance itself from the desktop market to entice a foothold in the mobile space?
Remember that image I did with a turd on a desktop workstation a few days ago?
Microsoft has killed their glass-based design which they established almost a decade ago with the Longhorn technical preview.
Windows 8 Release Preview is set to release within the next two weeks and will contain Aero Glass as its desktop chrome. The shift to the flat layout will occur before release of the full version. It is still unclear whether users will be able to see it hands-on before they are expected to own it.
The ironic part is that is probably a glass aquarium.
You may be wondering why I claim this as an offense against the desktop. Later in his article Paul gives his prediction into why Aero Glass shattered -- since Microsoft did not directly say so themselves. Aero is not the most difficult interface for a computer to render but it does require a steady amount more computation than a flat layout. Transparency, blur, and other effects take up computation power -- hence why Windows harasses you to turn off Aero if your framerate dips in a game -- and that computation power translates to battery life.
Remember when Aero was touted as a driving reason to in-place upgrade to Vista Home Premium?
I guess Microsoft believes that they do not want their tablet customers to feel like second-rate citizens. At least we know that they will be willing to throw it all away and do it over yet again. At this point that should be the most clear above anything else.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 14, 2012 - 03:34 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 8, Windows 7
Microsoft is expected to announce their upgrade promotion for users to purchase a Windows 7 PC after early June and move up to Windows 8 when it is released. Unlike past promotions, such as Office 2010 and Windows 7, it is expected that you will have the option to be bumped to the Pro level SKU -- but not for free. While this does not rule out the potential for a free upgrade to Windows 8 Home, Mary-Jo Foley of CNET seems to have not heard that from her sources.
People constantly mock computers for having a very quick apparent turnaround time.
There tends to be a desire in consumers to put off purchasing new equipment. Users know that patience will very often yield more for the same cost. Software is no different which is why Microsoft and others offer initiatives to allow users to upgrade to impending releases with the purchase of the current version.
But wait, if you order now -- you can order later!
On or around June 2nd, Microsoft is expected to unveil their upgrade program for users who will purchase a Windows 7 machine. According to Mary-Jo Foley of CNET and her sources, this time you will be able to upgrade your Windows 7 machine to Windows 8 Pro. This upgrade will not be free but is expected to be under a hundred dollars according to leaked promotional content. Targeting June is designed to prevent sales of Windows 7 PCs dropping off for back to school.
The upgrade to Windows 8 Pro makes sense as it allows the addition of Windows Media Center and other features that were available in the lower end versions of Windows 7. I think you could imagine what a user would feel like if they updated their operating system and lost features that they could not even add back in to their “upgraded” version.
Of course the better option would likely have been to rethink removing features if they feel as though vanilla Windows 8 is not an apples-to-apples comparison to Windows 7 Home Premium.
Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2012 - 06:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows media center, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, upgrade, htpc
News is circulating around the Internet that Microsoft is taking Windows Media Center out of Windows 8 and offering it as a separate paid add-on for Windows 8 Pro users. Many are not happy about the decision.
Windows Media Center is an application developed by Microsoft that provides a TV friendly interface for all the media on your computers including photos, videos, music, and television. That last function is quite possibly the biggest feature of WMC as it allows users to ditch their cable set top box (STB) and turn their computer into a TV tuner and DVR with the proper hardware.
Windows 8 Metro With Media Center Icon
The program debuted as a special edition of Windows called Windows XP Media Center Edition. It was then rolled into the general release of Windows Vista and then into many editions of Windows 7. Windows Media Center has a relatively small user base relative to the number of general Windows users, but they are a vocal and enthusiastic minority. About a month ago, I got a CableCard from Comcast (after a week of... well, let’s just say it’s not a pleasant experience) and after pairing it with the HDHomeRun Prime and my Windows 7 machines, i was able to watch and record TV on any of the computers in my house as well as on the living room TV via an Xbox 360 acting as a Windows Media Center extender. I have to say that the setup is really solid, I have all the expandable DVR space I could want, and the WMC interface is so much snappier than any cable or satellite set top box I’ve ever used. Windows 7 became that much more valuable once I was able to utilize Windows Media Center.
With that said, it is still a niche feature and I understand that not everyone needs or wants to use it. It is even a feature that I would pay for should Microsoft unbundle it. Yet, when I read a bit of news concerning Windows 8 and WMC over the weekend, I was not happy at all. According to an article at Tested.com, Microsoft is going to unbundle Windows Media Center for Windows 8 into a separate downloadable Media Center pack with a currently unknown price (so far, I’m disappointed but still willing to accept it). The Media Center pack will be made available for purchase and download using the “Add Features To Windows 8” control panel option–what was known as Windows Anytime Upgrade in previous versions of Windows.
Windows Media Center in Windows 7 - TV Guide
What is confusing (and what I find infuriating) is that users will only be able to purchase the Media Center pack if they are using the Pro version of Windows 8, leaving home users out of luck. Due to Windows 8 Pro essentially being the Ultimate Edition of previous Windows versions, it is definitely going to cost more than the base version, and that is rather disconcerting. I have no problem paying for the Media Center pack, but I do have a problem with Microsoft artificially limiting who has the right to purchase it to begin with. It just seems downright greedy of them and is a big disservice to Media Center’s faithful users. Microsoft should go with one method or the other, not both. For example, they should unbundle Media Center, and allow users of any desktop (not RT, in other words) Windows 8 version to purchase it. Alternatively, if they are going to limit Media Center to be a Pro version only feature, it should be a free download. Users should not have to pay for the privilege to pay for the software, especially when Microsoft has said that Windows 8 Media Center will not be very different from the one in Windows 7 and will only contain minor improvements.
Rick Broida of PC World has been a bit more straightforward in stating his opinion of Microsoft’s decision in saying “I’m hopping mad.” And I tend to agree with his sentiments, except for WMC needing to be free. I’d be happy to pay for it if it means Microsoft continues to support it. I just have an issue with the pricing situation that the news of the decision is suggesting. To be fair, Microsoft has not yet released final pricing information, so it may not be as bad as I’m thinking. Even so, the news that they are making WMC a paid add on and are limiting it to Windows 8 Pro only leaves a rather bad aftertaste. Mr. Broida encourages HTPC users to not upgrade, and to stick with Windows 7. I don’t think I’m at that point yet (though I get where he’s coming from), but I will say that Windows 8 was a tough sell before I heard this news, and the WMC news isn’t helping. I can only hope that Microsoft will reconsider and, dare I say it, do the right thing for their users here.
Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2012 - 07:04 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: winRT, windows 8 on arm, windows 8, Metro
So Microsoft has officially stated in a blog post that their upcoming Windows 8 operating system will indeed be called “Windows 8” upon release and will come in four SKUs, three of which normal people will have use for and care about.
The three consumer oriented distributions or SKUs will be Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows RT [previously Windows On Arm]. The fourth SKU will be Windows 8 Enterprise and it will take all the features of Windows 8 Pro and then sprinkle in some IT management and volume licensing goodies to keep the majority of their customers (businesses) happy.
Windows 8 (non Pro) is essentially the same feature level of operating system that Windows 7 Home Premium is now. On the other hand, Windows 8 Pro is what Windows 7 Ultimate is today. Both new Win 8 OSes are x86 and x64 based and will be the two consumer options available to upgrade to from Windows 7. Windows 8 delivers about what one would expect, media and general desktop features, multi-monitor support, media player, media center, Windows Defender, the Metro UI, Storage Spaces, and the updated Internet Explorer (among others). One interesting addition to Windows 8 (and Windows 8 Pro for that matter) is the ability to switch languages on the fly -- a feature that was previously reserved for the Ultimate edition of Windows.
Windows 8 Pro then incorporates all the features of Windows 8 and adds some important tools for worker bees and students including Group Policy, being a Remote Desktop host, BitLocker (and Bitlocker To Go) encryption, and the ability to join a domain (necessary for some students, depending on university). There are a few other goodies in the Pro version, but one nice touch is that the Pro version will be able to include Windows Media Center with an additional “media pack” download.
Windows RT is the third important SKU, despite the odd name. This new entrant is the official name for the ARM version of Windows 8. This version will only come pre-installed on certain computer systems (who have partnered with MS) meaning that Raspberry Pi users are out of luck and consumers will not be able to purchase Windows RT separately and install it on their own. This version will include the Windows desktop, language switching, multiple monitors, a VPN client, Windows Defender, device encryption (but no BitLocker), and a slew of Microsoft Office apps with updated touch-oriented interfaces. Windows RT takes many of the features of Windows 8 Pro but strips out a few things here and there to trim down the OS.
I’m glad that the previous rumors of approximately eight separate Windows 8 SKUs turned out to be false! Beyond that, I’m still absorbing the announcement and trying to figure out why they are calling it Windows RT (why not keep it simple and call it Windows On Arm). What are your thoughts on the announcement? Are you ready for Windows 8? A Microsoft chart with more information on the feature differences between the various SKUs can be found here.
Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2012 - 02:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows on arm, windows 8, microsoft, arm
The Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been out for a few weeks now, and despite the controversy around the new interface it does seem to be coming along nicely as far as development and bug testing is concerned. While the Windows On ARM has received much less attention and Microsoft has publicly released very little about it, we can only assume that the company is working hard on getting it up and running on upcoming ARM tablets.
There have been several reports on release time frames, and the general consensus for the Windows 8 release will be Q4 2012 at the latest. Alternatively, if Bloomberg's sources "with knowledge of the schedule" are to be believed, the public will be getting both Intel and ARM versions of Windows 8 a bit earlier than expected. Specifically, Microsoft has chosen their upcoming operating system to "go on sale around October." Microsoft will also be releasing more specific dates during an event for its hardware partners in April.
Apparently, Microsoft has been rather strict with device makers in regards to hardware configurations allowed for launch devices that are to be powered by the Windows on ARM version of Windows 8. Of the ARM launch devices, only three of them will be tablets. Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows business, has stated that both the ARM and Intel/AMD versions of Windows 8 will be released at the same time, and that “I wouldn’t be saying it’s a goal if I didn’t think we could do it.” Microsoft restricting the designs is likely the reason they are able to get WoA out of the door at the same time as the tried and true x86 and x64 versions.
More information on Windows 8 can be found around the site:
- Set up Windows 8 Consumer Preview in a virtual machine
- Windows on ARM details
- No more Start Button in Windows 8
- Windows 8 Defender at risk of anti-trust violation?
- Windows 8 news via the "windows 8" tag!
Subject: Mobile | March 13, 2012 - 10:35 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: WOA, windows 8, tablets, nokia, microsoft, arm
Earlier this year we heard talk of several planned Windows On ARM tablets that would run the upcoming Windows 8 operating system, and now more planned tablets have emerged. Asus is planning to release four Windows 8 tablets (two WOA versions), and according to Digitimes, Nokia will be joining the fray with their own WOA tablets.
Allegedly, Nokia will launch a 10" ARM tablet powered by Qualcomm's dual core System on a Chip (SoC) processor. The tablet will run the Windows on ARM version of Windows 8, and their sources have expressed that the Nokia tablet will further fuel the mobile tablet market and provide healthy competition for the iPad juggernaut.
Further, according to "sources at upstream component suppliers," Nokia will be outsourcing the manufacturing of their Windows 8 tablet to Compal Electronics. Also, the sources have stated that the first production batch will consist of 200,000 units.
Don't forget to check out our guide on virtualizing Windows 8 to get an idea of how the new interface works. More information on the Windows On ARM front as it develops.