Tweak Windows 8 With The Metro UI Tweaker Utility

Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2011 - 03:56 PM |
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.

ui_tweaker.jpg

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.

Windows 8 Developer Preview Build Sees Public Release At BUILD Conference

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2011 - 10:04 AM |
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.

Windows 8 Start Screen.PNG

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!

Source: Microsoft

Windows Media Center Confirmed For Windows 8

Subject: General Tech | September 3, 2011 - 04:31 PM |
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.”

windowsmediacenter.png

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).

Source: Microsoft

Windows 8 Will Support Mounting ISO and VHD Files Natively

Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2011 - 05:50 PM |
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.”

2538.Mounting-a-new-ISO_7AB5E1E9.jpg

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.

Source: MSDN

Will Windows 8 be for the tablet or the ultrabook?

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2011 - 08:56 AM |
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.

windows-8-start-screen.jpg

"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."

 

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Source: DigiTimes

Meet Hondo, AMD's soon to arrive 2W TDP Brazos chip for tablets ... and Apache servers?

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2011 - 09:06 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, ontario, low power, hondo, brazos, APU, amd

Thanks to a leak from AMD, we have new information on their plans for tablets and ultra mobile platforms.  Hondo will be a member of Brazos-T, the planned improvement to the current low power version of Brazos which goes by the name of Desna.  This is not so much a new chip as a refining of Brazos and the Ontario APU, the 1GHz APU will still be made on a 40nm process and sport a DirectX 11 GPU at 276MHz also optimized for lower power consumption and heat production.  The Hudson controller is also being tweaked in the same way, with the chipset's TDP sitting at 1W compared to the ~4W the APU will consume.  It should be capable of playing 720p videos at that power setting, though you can expect a bit more power draw if you are streaming the movie wirelessly.  You can read more about the future of the new fanless APU from AMD at The Inquirer.

amdbrazosthondo_1a_dh_fx57.jpg

Image from donanimhaber

"CHIP DESIGNER AMD is planning to refresh its Brazos platform in time for Microsoft's Windows 8.

AMD launched its Brazos platform last year, though actual products tipped up earlier this year featuring a dual core processor and a DirectX 11 GPU. However with Windows 8 coming out in 2012, it is a little surprising that leaked slides point to AMD planning a refresh of Brazos, codenamed Hondo. According to the slides, Hondo is designed to operate with passive cooling, and have 2W "app power" usage, about half that of the current Brazos chips."

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Source: The Inquirer

Windows 8 build leaked from D9 conference; screenshots.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 27, 2011 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, leak

Update: 6/28/2011 - One of our commenters suggested that the screenshots were fake. Upon looking at ZDNet's sources -- it appears as if at least the first screenshot is fake (the tile screen) as well as their onscreen keyboard (which we did not link to). The other screenshots we linked follow a completely different aesthetic to the other screenshots on the fake portfolio (shape and color of close button, for instance) so they in fact appear to be genuine. Fooled me. -Scott

So Windows 8 was shown off at the All Things Digital D9 conference and surprise it was leaked. Naturally Microsoft did not show all aspects of the Windows 8 build at the conference; they must leave some cards hidden that are either not yet ready or otherwise not designed to be shown. Ziff Davis got a hold of someone who either had a leaked build of Windows 8 or otherwise access to screenshots that Microsoft did not intend to show. And what good are screenshots that are not in a slideshow?

Care to take a spin around the leek?

So we start off with the well-known start overlay with the typical tiles including weather, calendar, Computer, email, and Internet Explorer. The next image makes us feel immediately guilty for exactly a half of a second. The new interface extends all the way to the installer where you read the EULA and enter your personalization information. The windowing look and feel has changed with Windows 8 at least temporarily exaggerating the close button and minimizing the, well, minimize and full screen buttons. The ribbon UI is also seen exploding all across the interface including the file browser. Installations, at least of Windows software, are more integrated into the operating system. Lastly, the task manager is getting a facelift which may or may not be a bad thing.

What do you think of the leaked build? What would you do differently if you were Microsoft? (Registration not required to comment.)

Source: Ziff Davis

Windows 8 UI: Wait, Windows 7?

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2011 - 01:08 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, ImmersiveUI

Microsoft announced and demonstrated their Windows 8 interface a couple of weeks ago and since then there has been some love and some hate for it by various groups. The idea that the new paradigm for icons would display information from the program, particularly in such a fashion, better suits a tablet rather than a traditional desktop interface. Regardless, there would likely be some application for such an interface and you do not need Windows 8 to unofficially have it.

“Start”: must be Windows.

ImmersiveUI developer Sergio James Bruccoleri has released a video to show his pre-beta interface for Windows 7. In his demonstration he showed various websites and programs launched with a little bit of feedback in the tiles such as his Facebook name and Xbox Live gamertag with avatar. Bruccoleri has stated that a public beta is forthcoming with “effects and some cool stuffs.”

Would you find yourself adding this to your Windows desktop? If so, on what device?

Source: WinRumors

Silverlight Developers revolt against Open Standards

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 8, 2011 - 09:25 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, silverlight

Microsoft announced their new User Interface to Windows 8 last week. The interface is very tablet-minded and uses a Windows Phone 7-like tile architecture with widgets based on HTML5 and Javascript. Silverlight developers took that as a slap in the face and flooded Microsoft’s developer network forums to voice their opinions. Microsoft has not confirmed or denied that they will continue support for Silverlight in Windows 8; Microsoft has thus also not stated if they do support Silverlight on Windows 8, how much ongoing support will be provided to Silverlight.

That interface doesn’t look very silvery, or light.

I think the real message here is that when you invest (through time, money, or otherwise) in a proprietary infrastructure you need to expect that you have no real recourse should the owner work against you; you voided all recourse except for what is explicitly contractually bound to you. In the case of an open, particularly copyleft, platform: should support from the original owners be absent or insufficient you are legally allowed to take over provided that right is also granted by you. Often it may still be worthwhile to invest in proprietary platforms, but remember, you give up your right to maintain your dependencies. All your dependent art is relying on your trust in the platform owner, and you have no legal recourse, because you gave it away.

Do you have any comments on this? Discuss below.

Source: itnews

Windows 8 isn't ready for a private viewing but will do a floor show

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2011 - 08:59 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, computex

 There is a lot of buzz after the unveiling of Window 8 to a select few at Computex.  VR-Zone has a nice series of pictures as well as about 20 minutes of video footage from the preview event.  AnandTech focused on the ARM version and the new filesystem, while Engadget were content to delve even deeper into the ARM support offered by Win8.  ExtremeTech was more interested in the browser side, examining IE10 and the future Java and HTML5 as well as looking at the touch interface abilities.

Remember to catch all of our Computex content by following the Computex tag!

vrz-Win8.jpg

"VR-Zone was in attendance for this historic Windows 8 unveiling event to selected partners and press at W Hotel Taipei, COMPUTEX 2011. Microsoft showed off its new Windows 8 UI design and a few x86/ARM prototype devices from its partners."

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Computex 2011 Coverage brought to you by MSI Computer and Antec

Source: VR-Zone