Tired of hearing about WinRT yet?

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2012 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: win8, winRT, microsoft, tablet, surface

Now that you have finished reading and absorbing Scott's take on what WinRT will mean to developers of games and programs as well as users who have become habituated to the desktop being the computer you might wonder if there are any alternate viewpoints.  AnandTech offers a different take, starting with the history of tablets and touchscreens and the ways in which Microsoft has previously failed in that market.  They move onto the rational behind the decision to toss backwards compatibility out the window as well as how the app environment will likely change over the near future and the new locked down nature of the desktop.  You can finish up with a look at the current state of WinRT's apps such as Office 13 and the different versions of IE on these WinRT powered devices.

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"Meet Windows RT. It’s Microsoft’s first major foray into the modern tablet market, the shipping version of Windows-on-ARM, and it’s one of Microsoft’s most important product launches ever. Windows 8 shares the same touch-friendly user interface, but the ARM silicon makes RT an almost entirely tablet-centric operating system, the first for Microsoft. Combined with the focus on premium hardware experiences, this is Redmond’s most serious push to be competitive with the iOS and Androids of the world. How does it fare? Keep reading."

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Source: AnandTech

You won't be able to blame TSMC or GF for any shortage of Win8 devices

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2012 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: surface, win8, winRT, touch screen

DigiTimes foresees supply problems with Windows 8 mobile devices but for once it is not the fault of the CPU/GPU manufacturers.  Instead it is the feature which makes Win8 on mobile devices so much more attractive that previous versions of Microsoft's mobile OS, the Achilles heel could be the touchscreen manufacturers.  Shipping millions of new touchscreen laptops and tablets could lead to availability problems with the industry already spread among so many current touchscreen products.  Even if the supply holds up there are also concerns about demand as a touchscreen device will cost more than an equivalent laptop without a touchscreen, something that DigiTimes' sources are concerned about.

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"Windows 8-based notebook shipments are expected to start increasing in September as the launch date of the operating system approaches, but because most orders are scheduled for shipping in September and October, sources from the upstream supply chain are concerned that related supply chain players will face great challenges in terms of capacity management and production smoothness."

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Source: DigiTimes

WinRT spreads to the major vendors after they touched the Surface

Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2012 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: winRT, asus, dell, Lenovo, Samsung, microsoft, arm

When Microsoft released their Surface tablet/notebook, the tech community wondered if this move by a software company would upset the Tier 1 hardware vendors who might not want the competition.  That discussion was ended when Microsoft announced that Surface was a proof of concept and would be released in very limited qualities.  Today The Inquirer reports on upcoming mobile devices running on ARM hardware and WinRT from all the major vendors, giving us a rough idea what to expect in the way of performance.  The quoted specs include user interface animations at 60FPS and touchscreen sampling rates of 100Hz per finger.  Battery life will be impressive, 320 hours and 409 hours of standby time and for video playback you can expect 8-13 hours of HD playtime, though they do not talk about the quality of that playback.

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"SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Microsoft has revealed Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung Windows RT devices will be available at the launch of the operating system.

Microsoft has been playing a very dangerous game with its Surface tablet hogging the Windows RT limelight, something that its long-term and invaluable partners will not like. Now the company has come out and said that Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung will also have Windows RT devices when the operating system launches later this year."

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Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft will chop bits off of Office on WinRT

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: arm, office 2013, winRT, lies

Microsoft has done an about face which is going to disappoint office workers who were planning on switching to ARM based hardware running WinRT, which includes Microsoft's Surface tablet/laptop.  Though this was promised to us, The Register now has heard that macros, 3rd party add-ons, and support for VBA will not exist on Office 2013 for ARM.  Since that removes any possible automation from Office as well as damaging the productivity of those users who depend on 3rd party add-ons the Surface suddenly seems a lot less attractive.  For those who fervently believe that PowerPoint is the only Office application there will likely be no effect whatsoever.

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"If true, it would be something of an about-face for the software giant. At a press event announcing the Office 2013 Preview in July, Microsoft honcho Steve Ballmer said that Redmond was committed to providing the full Office experience on Surface and other devices running Windows RT.

"You'll see this as we and our partners ship PCs and Surface devices with ARM chips in them," Ballmer said. "Full Word. Full PowerPoint. Full Excel. You give up nothing of the rich capabilities of Microsoft Office when you embrace a Windows 8 ARM device."

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Source: The Register

GPU: Finally getting recognition from Windows.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems, Mobile | July 27, 2012 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, winRT, gpgpu

Paul Thurrott of Windows Supersite reports that Windows 8 is finally taking hardware acceleration seriously and will utilize the GPU across all applications. This hardware acceleration should make Windows 8 perform better and consume less power than if the setup were running Windows 7. With Microsoft finally willing to adopt modern hardware for performance and battery life I wonder when they will start using the GPU to accelerate tasks like file encryption.

It is painful when you have the right tool for the job but must use the wrong one.

Windows has, in fact, used graphics acceleration for quite some time albeit in fairly mundane and obvious ways. Windows Vista and Windows 7 brought forth the Windows Aero Glass look and feel. Aero was heavily reliant on Shader Model 2.0 GPU computing to the point that much of it would not run on anything less.

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Washington State is not that far away from Oregon.

Microsoft is focusing their hardware acceleration efforts for Windows 8 on what they call mainstream graphics. 2D graphics and animation were traditionally CPU-based with a couple of applications such as Internet Explorer 9, Firefox, and eventually Chrome allowing the otherwise idle GPU to lend a helping hand. As such, Microsoft is talking up Direct2D and DirectWrite usage all throughout Windows 8 on a wide variety of hardware.

The driving force that neither Microsoft nor Paul Thurrott seems to directly acknowledge is battery life. Graphics Processors are considered power-hogs until just recently for almost anyone who assembles a higher-end gaming computer.  Despite this, the GPU is actually more efficient at certain tasks than a CPU -- this is especially true when you consider the GPUs which will go into WinRT devices. The GPU will help the experience be more responsive and smooth but also consume less battery power. I guess Microsoft is finally believes that the time is right to bother using what you already have.

There are many more tasks which can be GPU accelerated than just graphics -- be it 3D or the new emphasis on 2D acceleration. Hopefully after Microsoft dips in their toe they will take the GPU more seriously as an all-around parallel task processor. Maybe now that they are implementing the GPU for all applications they can consider using it for all applications -- in all applications.

Microsoft Details Four Windows 8 SKUs, Seems Reasonable

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2012 - 07:04 AM |
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.

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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.

Source: Microsoft