• All things about Windows 8: Windows 8 Release Date, Editions, Features, Prices

    Posted on August 23rd, 2012 David Brooks | No comments

    Windows 8 logoAfter long time of waiting and experiencing various versions, we finally welcomed the official announcement of the release and shipment availability of Windows 8. As an operating system for use on personal computers, Windows 8 could be applied to home and business desktops, laptops, tablets, and home theater PCs. It is part of the Windows NT family of operating systems and succeeds Windows 7.

    According to the Windows Design Team, Windows 8 has been “reimagined from the chipset to the user experience,” whereas Windows 7 was intended to be a more focused, incremental upgrade to the Windows line. Windows 8 is reported to feature a new user interface based on Microsoft’s Metro design language, similar to that in Windows Phone. Also, Microsoft announced that the new OS would remove some old features of Windows OS line and add some new features. What indeed the Windows 8 would bring to the world then? Let’s just get a brief summary for Windows 8.

    Release date

    Windows 8 was first announced in January 2011 at Consumer Electronics Show. During its development and test phases, Microsoft released three pre-release versions: Developer Preview version (September 13, 2011), Consumer Preview version (February 29, 2012), and Release Preview version (May 31, 2012). On August 1, 2012, Windows 8 graduated from the development stage and was released to manufacturing. Windows 8 is slated for general availability on October 26, 2012.

    Editions

    Windows 8 is available in four major editions: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise, and Windows RT. The first three have almost the same hardware requirements as that of Windows 7. The latter, however, runs on tablet computers with ARM architecture and has different hardware requirements. The other editions are not available in retail. The new Windows RT edition will only be available preinstalled by OEMs on ARM-based devices while the Enterprise edition will only be available through volume licensing. Hardware vendors willing to receive Microsoft’s certification for such devices need to adhere to a list of certification requirements.

    Features

    Metro
    Based on Microsoft’s Metro design language, Metro UI is by far the biggest change in Windows 8, and can be the most confusing to use at first—especially for desktop users. The Metro environment features a new tile-based Start screen similar to that of the Windows Phone operating system. Each tile represents an application, and can display relevant information such as the number of unread messages for an e-mail application or the current temperature on a weather application. These applications run in full-screen or in docked modes, and are able to share information between each other using “contracts”. They will be available only through Windows Store. Apps in the new interface are developed with the new Windows Runtime platform using various programming languages, including C++, Visual Basic, C#, and HTML with JavaScript code-behind.

    The traditional desktop environment for running desktop applications is accessed via a tile on the new Start screen. The Start button has been removed from the taskbar in favor of a Start button on the new charm bar, as well as a hotspot in the bottom-left corner. Both open the new Start screen, which replaces the Start menu.

    Windows 8 start screen

    Applications developed for this new environment were previously referred to as “Metro-style apps” in development materials, connecting it to Windows 8’s use of an interface following the Metro design language as its primary desktop. However, reports surfaced that due to potential trademark issues with the German company Metro AG, Microsoft officials had begun to advise its Windows developers to stop using the term. A Microsoft spokesperson however, denied these reports and stated that the use of the term “Metro” to describe these apps was merely a codename that would be phased out. Following these reports, Microsoft started using “Modern UI Style” to refer to its tile-based interface and design language.

    PowerShell 3.0

    PowerShell is Microsoft’s strategic task automation platform and a core component of the overall management framework for Windows. Version 3 has been in beta for some time but the final version is included with Windows 8 (and Windows Server 2012 which has also been released to manufacturing).

    Other features

    * Internet Explorer 10 is included as both desktop program and as a touch-optimized app. The latter does not support plugins or ActiveX components, but includes a version of Adobe Flash Player that is optimized for touch and low power usage and works only on sites included on a whitelist.

    * It is now possible to log into Windows using a Microsoft account (formerly known as a Windows Live ID). This will allow the user’s profile and settings to be synchronized over the Internet and accessible from other computers running Windows 8, as well as integration with SkyDrive.

    * Windows Store will be the only method of purchasing and downloading Metro-style apps, as well as advertising desktop apps. Metro-style apps are installed from the Windows Store, or in the form of a Line Of Business app on devices joined in a network domain.

    * Two new authentication methods have been added: picture password, which allows users to log in by drawing three gestures in different places on a picture, and PIN log in, which allows users to authenticate using a four digit pin.

    * File Explorer will include a ribbon toolbar, and have its file operation progress dialog updated to provide more detailed statistics, the ability to pause file transfers, and improvements in the ability to manage conflicts when copying files.

    * Hybrid Boot will use hibernation technology to allow faster startup times by saving the Windows core’s memory to the hard disk and reloading it upon boot.

    * Windows To Go will allow Windows 8 Enterprise to boot and run from a bootable USB device (such as a flash drive).

    * Two new recovery functions are included, Refresh and Reset. Refresh restores all Windows files to their original state while keeping settings, files, and apps, while reset takes the computer back to factory default condition.

    * USB 3.0 is now supported natively.

    * A new lock screen displays a clock and notifications while the computer is locked.

    * Task Manager has been redesigned.

    * Xbox Live integration (including Xbox Live Arcade, Xbox SmartGlass, Xbox Music, and Xbox Video).

    * Storage Spaces will allow users to combine different sized hard disks into virtual drives and specify mirroring, parity, or no redundancy on a folder-by-folder basis.

    * Family Safety is intended to allow parents to protect their children on the Internet, as well as monitor and control their PC and Internet activities and usage.

    * Windows Defender now has anti-virus capabilities, similar to those of Microsoft Security Essentials. It is intended to replace the Security Essentials package and function as the default anti-virus program.

    Windows 8

    Price

    Microsoft recently started accepting registrations for Windows 8 upgrades. Those who purchased a PC any time after June 2 can now sign up to receive the Windows 8 upgrade for $14.99 when the OS is released on Oct. 26.

    Back in May, Microsoft announced that anyone who purchased a Windows 7 PC between June 2, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013 could upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99. Registration for that offer is now live via windowsupgradeoffer.com for PC users in 140 countries. On Oct. 26, Microsoft will start sending out promo codes via email. When you upgrade via Windows.com, Microsoft will display the $39.99 price for general upgrades; enter the promo code on the confirmation page to get the $14.99 price. The promo code will expire until Feb. 28, 2013.

    Those who bought a PC before June 2 or have an older Windows 7 PC they’d like to upgrade can get Windows 8 Pro for $39.99 via Windows.com starting Oct. 26. There are also reports that standalone copies of Windows 8 will cost $69.99 at launch, a price that will jump to $199 after Jan. 31, 2013.

    After selecting your country, Microsoft will ask you to register your personal details and information about your new PC, including date of purchase, retailer, and PC brand and model. You’ll also need your 25-digit Windows 7 product key.

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  • Windows 8 Release Preview available online for free download in 14 languages

    Posted on May 31st, 2012 David Brooks | No comments

    We have been waiting for the next Windows OS for a long time. With all rumors and speculations going and the approaching of the official release of Windows 8 operation system, Microsoft debuted Windows 8 Release Preview version this Thursday, which might be the last step before a final release of Windows 8 this fall. The debut of the Release Preview version is several days earlier than expected, which was promised to be the first week of June by Microsoft. The freshly released Windows 8 Release Preview is available in two versions for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems. Though the Windows 8 Release Preview has been debuted, Microsoft has not yet announced a launch date for Windows 8 or prices for the OS. Analysts expect the revamped Windows to debut in October and at prices identical to Windows 7. Now, the Windows 8 Release Preview is available online for free download in 14 languages, thus you can have the choice to select and download the one in your familiar language.

    Windows 8 Release PreviewWhat’s new or improved in Windows 8 Release Preview version:
    New Bing-powered apps, including ones for travel, news, and sports
    Improvements to Mail, Photos, and People apps
    Increased Start personalization
    Better multiple-monitor support
    Better Windows Store navigation
    New family safety and security functionality
    Enhanced touch support for Internet Explorer 10

    How to download and install Windows 8 Release Preview
    Go to the Windows 8 Release Preview download page to enter your email and country region, check the agreement box, and then click the button to download Windows 8 Release Preview version.

    Running this application automates most of the set-up process, and selects the appropriate version of the preview for your machine. These must be turned into installation media that are burned to a DVD drive or copied to a USB flash drive in order to complete the install. That’s the installation process in a nutshell. As this is preview software, so keep mission critical work off your test PC.

    Requirements of installing Windows 8 Release Preview
    1. Microsoft advises users to not install the operating system on a computer used for day-to-day work, as there’s also no going back without wiping your hard drive.

    2. You can’t downgrade from Windows 8 since it cannot access the recovery partition of your hard drive. If you need to downgrade, ensure you have recovery disks readily available.

    3. You can upgrade to the Release Preview if you are already running Windows 8 Consumer Preview or Developer Preview. But you cannot keep any of your files.

    4. A processor with a clock speed of 1GHz or greater, 1GB (32-bit version), or 2GB (64-bit version) of RAM, at least 16GB (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit) of available hard drive space, and a graphics card that supports DirectX 9 with a WDDM driver are required to run Windows 8 Release Preview on your test computer.

    Other features for your selection include: multitouch support, Internet access, and a screen resolution of at least 1024 pixels by 768 pixels, etc.

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  • A wish list of changes for Windows 8 Release Preview on the early June release event

    Posted on April 28th, 2012 David Brooks | No comments

    Microsoft has released several versions of its latest Windows 8 operation system to prepare for the official operation system release, which is said to be in this October, like the Developer Preview and Customer Preview versions. Days ago, the company officially announced that the latest pre-release version of the Windows 8 operating system, Windows 8 Release Preview, will become available during the first week of June, a Microsoft executive said Tuesday in Tokyo. “Announce…Windows 8 Release Preview first week of June. Here’s the announce from Japan’s Windows 8 Dev Days #thankyou”, the company wrote on Twitter. The Windows 8 “Release Preview” will be the most complete version to date of Windows 8, said Steven Sinofsky, President of Windows and Windows Live Division. He spoke at Microsoft’s Windows Developer Days, an event to teach developers about Windows 8. No doubt, the Windows 8 Release Preview would be a feature-completed version of this OS, requiring only bug fixes before the final version out. Then, what are the features in Windows 8? Let’s take a look at what features would be included or changed in Windows 8 Release Preview.

    Windows 8 Release Preview

    Readopt Start button or any hint button like this
    There are a lot of people who have been used to Windows operation system with Start button. Many people would get lost and don’t know what to do and how to operate the computer if there is not a Start button or any sort of guidance on how to navigate the Windows 8 desktops. Watching the video of Chris Pirillo’s father trying to use Windows 8, the company might get to know how real people use Windows 8 without a Start button or anything like that. Thus, the company is supposed to readopt Start button to make operating more user friendly.

    Enhanced Multi-Monitor support
    A better built-in support for multi-monitor is anticipated in Windows 8 Release Preview version. The existing situation is that you can only choose one “main taskbar” to open the Start menu and then run metro-style apps. It would be quite easy for your mouse to jump to the next screen when hitting the corner of screen without a proper Start menu. This would make it inconvenient for operating.

    Keep Metro Contained
    For the most part, ignoring the Metro interface of Windows 8 is easy, especially if you think of the new Start menu as a full-screen version of the pop-up start button. The one glaring exception is when you want to open a photo, video or audio file on the desktop, and Windows 8 boots you back to its Metro-style media players. You can change the default programs for these files, but that’s a hassle.

    Adopt better Tablet App Switcher
    Windows 8 would allow Windows 8 tablet users to fast switch apps, but still too sloppy. When you drag a finger from the left side of the screen, one of your recent apps slides in, but you don’t have immediate control of which app to appear. To choose from a wider list of recent apps, you must slide your finger back to the left side of the screen, which opens up a sidebar with app thumbnails. The operation of switching tablet apps could be confusing most people. For better user experience, the company is supposed to adopt better tablet app switcher to do this.

    A Tutorial for Tablets included
    With physical Windows button and other icons on the screen, average Windows 8 tablets users will be able to get along with their tablets nicely. But many other useful features of Windows 8 operation system, like sharing, searching, app switching, etc. which are hidden from plain sight, may not that easy for users to operate. To make new users quickly understand and get familiar with the Windows 8 OS, Microsoft will need to get a wonderful user-guide for Windows 8 tablet users to make them full enjoy the interesting and practical features of Windows 8 OS.

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  • Microsoft unleashed reimagining new specifications and functions of Windows 8 at the D9 Conferences

    Posted on June 1st, 2011 David Brooks | No comments

    REDMOND, Wash. – June 1, 2011 – Today, at the D9 Conference, we demonstrated the next generation of Microsoft logoWindows, internally code-named “Windows 8,” for the first time. Windows 8 is a reimagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface. A Windows 8-based PC is really a new kind of device, one that scales from touch-only small screens through to large screens, with or without a keyboard and mouse.

    The demo showed some of the ways we’ve reimagined the interface for a new generation of touch-centric hardware. Fast, fluid and dynamic, the experience has been transformed while keeping the power, flexibility and connectivity of Windows intact.

    Here are a few aspects of the new interface we showed today:

    •       Fast launching of apps from a tile-based Start screen, which replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.

    •       Live tiles with notifications, showing always up-to-date information from your apps.

    •       Fluid, natural switching between running apps.

    •       Convenient ability to snap and resize an app to the side of the screen, so you can really multitask using the capabilities of Windows.

    •       Web-connected and Web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that have access to the full power of the PC.

    •       Fully touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10.

    Windows 8

    We also showed effortless movement between existing Windows programs and new Windows 8 apps. The full capabilities of Windows continue to be available to you, including the Windows Explorer and Desktop, as does compatibility with all Windows 7 logo PCs, software and peripherals.

    Although the new user interface is designed and optimized for touch, it works equally well with a mouse and keyboard. Our approach means no compromises — you get to use whatever kind of device you prefer, with peripherals you choose, to run the apps you love. This is sure to inspire a new generation of hardware and software development, improving the experience for PC users around the world.

    Today, we also talked a bit about how developers will build apps for the new system. Windows 8 apps use the power of HTML5, tapping into the native capabilities of Windows using standard JavaScript and HTML to deliver new kinds of experiences. These new Windows 8 apps are full-screen and touch-optimized, and they easily integrate with the capabilities of the new Windows user interface. There’s much more to the platform, capabilities and tools than we showed today.

    We are excited to bring an innovative new platform and tools to developers and see how their creativity jumpstarts a new generation of apps. Windows 8 apps can use a broad set of new libraries and controls, designed for fluid interaction and seamless connectivity. Apps can add new capabilities to Windows and to other apps, connecting with one another through the new interface. For example, we showed today how a developer can extend the file picker control to enable picking from their own app content or from within another Windows 8 app, in addition to the local file system and the network. We’re just getting started.

    And this isn’t just about touch PCs. The new Windows experience will ultimately be powered by application and device developers around the world — one experience across a tremendous variety of PCs. The user interface and new apps will work with or without a keyboard and mouse on a broad range of screen sizes and pixel densities, from small slates to laptops, desktops, all-in-ones, and even classroom-sized displays. Hundreds of millions of PCs will run the new Windows 8 user interface. This breadth of hardware choice is unique to Windows and central to how we see Windows evolving.

    The video below introduces a few of the basic elements of the new user interface. Although we have much more to reveal at our developer event, BUILD (Sept. 13 – 16 in Anaheim, Calif.), we’re excited to share our progress with you.

    Today’s demonstration followed our announcements earlier this year about Windows 8 running on System on a Chip (SoC) processors, and our browser engine innovations and significantly increased standards support in Internet Explorer 10. Windows 8 extends these innovations and reimagines every level of the Windows architecture — the kernel, networking, storage, devices, user interface — all building on the broadest and richest ecosystem of software, peripherals and devices.

    We have so much more on the way! We’re working very hard to get the product ready for early testing, and we plan to kick off our engineering dialogue through our team blog, just as we did for Windows 7.

    So please stay tuned — we have a lot of cool innovation coming in the months ahead.

    By Julie Larson-Green

    Corporate Vice President, Windows Experience

    Sources from

    http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/Features/2011/jun11/06-01corporatenews.aspx.

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