Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer finally confirmed what tech pundits knew all along: the next generation of Windows will be out in 2012. In the meantime, Microsoft is half-way done with Windows 8 -- it's in the Milestone 3 stage right now -- and is prepping up the first beta for this September's "Windows Developer Conference" in Anaheim, California.
But you don't have to wait until then to get a look at some of Windows 8's best new features.
Protogon FS: (WinFS)
Tablet Start UI:
HTML5 Start Screen:
The live tile interface of Windows Phone has been ported over to Windows, and the "Start Screen" pictured above is the default screen a user will see when his Windows 8 device is active. Like Windows Phone, the live tiles serve as notifications as well as app-launching shortcuts.
Browsing through shared files:
Windows 8 will support Windows 7 software and the traditional PC filesystem. Therefore, a networked PC or server will be fully accessible by a Windows 8 portable device.
Apps "snapped" to either side of the screen
Since it's Windows, it naturally supports multitasking. But to accommodate tablet-sized screens, it has a new feature called "snapping." Normally, You can page through your live apps by swiping from left to right, but if you swipe and drag the app, you can have it share the screen with the current app on screen.
"Touch First" Internet Explorer 10
Internet Explorer 10 has been designed with touch as the primary interface. Like its most recent predecessors, IE10 is geared toward HTML5 apps, and supports hardware acceleration
For bigger handheld touchscreens, Microsoft has redesigned the keyboard into a more ergonomic thumb-typing interface.
Video tour of Windows 8 Consumer Preview:
Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Product Demo:
Video of Building "Windows 8"
"This isn't just about touch PCs," Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president, Windows Experience said. "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."
Multi-Processes in Browsers: Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and WebKit
With the web becoming such a big part of everyone’s life, the web browser is probably the most important piece of software in any computer or device. But, with great power comes great responsibility, browsers are constantly a target for nefarious individuals up to no good. Add to this the ‘unpredictability’ of web coding and buggy plugins and you have a recipe for disaster.
With so many potential points of failure, it’s up to the browser makers to ensure that everything runs smoothly and securely. One way of doing this is by splitting the browser process into several components and isolating them from each other. This ensures that if one of them fails, it doesn’t bring down the entire browser. For example, if a site has buggy or malicious code, it may crash a tab, but it won’t affect the others or the browser as a whole.
The idea of multi-process tabs has been adopted by most browser makers and it’s starting to become the norm. Spearheaded by Google Chrome and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8, the concept has made its way into Mozilla Firefox and may soon be implemented in many of the WebKit-based web browsers, like Apple Safari. But, while the idea and the concept may be similar, the implementations differ from browser to browser.
Google Chrome/Chromium’s Multi-process Architecture
Google Chrome was one of the first browsers to have multiple processes. It also has one of the most complex systems isolating many of the components from each other. There are four main process types in Google Chrome and Chromium:
- browser process - handles the user interface and manages all the other processes, which run ‘on top of it;’
- render processes - these handle the rendering in the individual browser tabs; it must be noted that one render process can handle more than one tab;
- plugin processes - each browser plugin, stuff like Adobe Flash or Java, is run in its own separate process; these processes communicate with the render process they are spawned from;
- extension processes - extensions also get their individual processes to keep them from interfering with the browser or with each other.
Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 Loosely-Coupled IE (LCIE)
Microsoft took a surprisingly similar approach with Internet Explorer 8. With the so-called Loosely-Coupled IE (LCIE) architecture, IE 8 also splits the main browsing process from the rendering processes. The main process handles the browser, the UI and the frames (windows), which house the tabs. Several tabs are then run inside the same process, but tabs with different security levels are separated. ActiveX controls are handled by the tab processes.
Mozilla Electrolysis and Out-of-process Plugins
Mozilla has come late to the game, but Firefox has very recently gotten some multi-process capabilities. They are nowhere near as complex as Chrome or IE’s and, for now, aim just to separate the browser plugins from the main process. The project, codenamed Electrolysis, is in the early stages, but the first benefits are starting to be seen. The capability is now available in the latest Firefox 3.6.4 beta builds. There is some intention to extend the multi-process functionality to the tabs, but there are few clear plans for now.
Multi-process in WebKit 2
Things are about to become even more interesting as the team behind WebKit, the web rendering engine powering a big number of browsers, has announced that it is building multi-process capabilities right into the renderer in the upcoming WebKit 2. Even though WebKit is used on Google Chrome/Chromium, the approaches are different. Where Chrome runs a WebKit instance for each of the render processes, in WebKit2, the rendering engine itself is split into multiple processes.
There will be a base WebKit UI process to house the application logic and a second process, dubbed the Web Process, will handle the actual rendering. The multi-process features will be independent of the application, which incorporates WebKit, the major difference from the Chrome model. This will enable developers to quickly and easily build multi-process features into their apps without modifying or adding too much code to them.
All the new browser: Opera 12, Google Chrome 15, Internet Explorer 9, Safari 5 and Firefox 8, will take advantage of the power of the GPU (hardware acceleration through Direct2D and DirectWrite) for all page rendering and expanded support for CSS3, SVG, and HTML5.
April 22, 2010 marks the six month anniversary of the launch of Windows 7 on October 22, 2009. Six months on and Windows 7 is a winner for Microsoft. Some organizations are also claiming the success of Windows 7 has seen a massive uptake of 64-bit computing.
Microsoft's success with Windows 7 began before the product was even widely available. Released in October 2009, the operating system has received praise from consumers, businesses and the media. In November 2009, Windows 7 managed to surpass Apple's Snow Leopard market share in just two weeks. In early February it was revealed that Windows 7 had reached 10% market share in just three months. To further cement its success, Microsoft announced that Windows 7 is the fastest selling operating system in history, selling over 90 million licenses to date. The company is projected to sell 300 million by the end of 2010, a goal that Microsoft could easily achieve.
Greg Lambert, Chief Technical Architect at ChangeBASE AOK, works with big enterprise businesses and supports their Windows 7 migration plans. Lambert claims there are two big drivers for the uptake-levels of Windows 7; the first being ease and speed of migration and the second is the ability to future proof management of applications. “We have also seen that Windows 7 is driving the wide-scale take-up of 64-bit computing. Many of our customers are worried that they will have application compatibility problems with an upgrade to a 64-bit environment. However after analysing their application estate they realise these issues can be automatically addressed which means they can opt for the more powerful 64-bit option," Lambert said in a statement.
Microsoft reports strong third-quarter revenue thanks to Windows 7 sales
Microsoft announced on Thursday, a record third-quarter revenue of $14.50 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2010.
The financial figures are a 6% increase from the same period of the prior year. Windows revenue has increased by 28%, compared with the same quarter last year. Microsoft says this revenue growth was driven by a strong demand for Windows 7. “Windows 7 continues to be a growth engine, but we also saw strong growth in other areas like Bing search, Xbox LIVE and our emerging cloud services,” said Peter Klein, chief financial officer at Microsoft.
According to Klein more than 10% of all PCs worldwide are running Windows 7. Windows 7 was released six months ago today, on October 22, 2009. Microsoft announced that Windows 7 is the fastest selling operating system in history, selling over 90 million licenses to date. The company is projected to sell 300 million by the end of 2010.
According to ChangeBASE's research, conducted with senior IT decision makers, more than 65% of businesses hoped to migrated to Windows 7 within 12 months of its release. Over 50% of those migrating will be choosing the 64-bit route. The large uptake of the 64-bit option will please the Windows team at Microsoft and may be a stepping stone to the end of life for Microsoft's 32-bit Windows operating system. Microsoft phased out 32-bit Server operating systems after the release of Windows Server 2008.
Screenshots of a Windows 7 post RTM build showed up on the web in February, fueling speculation that Microsoft is compiling early Windows 8 builds. The successor to Windows 7 is expected to be available in 2011. An ex-Microsoft worker penned July 2011 as the RTM date for Windows 8.
Microsoft is currently readying its first Service Pack for Windows 7. A beta version is expected in June with a public release in September this year.
Microsoft continuously collects feedback on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems from its customers and partners. This feedback results in enhancements that help improve compatibility, reliability, performance, and user experience. These enhancements are typically made available in the form of regular updates delivered via Windows Update and, in some cases, the Microsoft Download Center. All updates are then rolled-up, along with additional enhancements, into a single package called a Service Pack. By integrating these updates into a thoroughly tested single service pack, Microsoft aims to provide a single high-quality update that will minimize both deployment and testing complexity for customers.
Service Packs help ensure that your systems are up-to-date. Updates to the Windows operating system, including updates released with bulletins from the Microsoft Security Response Center, are only built for currently-supported service packs. Installing the latest service pack ensures customers have the maximum support lifecycle for their investment.
Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 includes previously released updates and delivers a number of powerful new features for Windows Server 2008 R2 for virtualization and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). New techniques in memory management with the addition of Dynamic Memory functionality, as well as the ability to deliver full-fidelity graphic experiences in remote and virtualized environments with RemoteFX, enable organizations to realize the greatest possible potential from their infrastructure.
The impact of SP1 on the Windows 7 client operating system is considered to be minimal. Included changes are expected to address minor usability issues in specific scenarios, as outlined in this document. Microsoft recommends that organizations do not need to wait for SP1 to begin receiving the value of Windows 7 today as we don’t anticipate the SP1 for Windows 7 to be substantial.
Microsoft announced the Windows 7 Touch Pack back in May 2009 but originally it was meant for OEMs only. Today the company released the Touch Pack download for the masses.
Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc confirmed the release in a company blog posting. LeBlanc said that Microsoft took the decision to distribute the pack more widely due to "feedback and requests from both partners and customers."
Download:Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7
Obviously, in order to use these applications, you will need a Windows 7 PC that supports touch. The Touch Pack brings a range of touch-friendly applications, of which we will detail below:
Microsoft Surface Globe:
The first of these applications is called Microsoft Surface Globe. This, as you can imagine, is a multi-touch capable globe (think Google Earth) that uses the Virtual Earth 3D engine to display a rotatable 3D version of the world. You can visit various locations and regions, get information about some areas, and bookmark your favorites. To add to this, some cities are even constructed in 3D, providing a very realistic and detailed experience. There's a screenshot of this below.
Microsoft Surface Collage:
Next up, we have the Microsoft Surface Collage. This tool allows you to choose a gallery of photos, and then move them around and scale them however you please. If you've watched a video of Microsoft Surface before, you'll have an idea of how this works. Once you've got an arrangement that you like, you can choose to save it as an image then use it as a desktop wallpaper. Again, a screenshot is included.
Microsoft Surface Lagoon:
Microsoft Surface Lagoon is a very interesting looking application. It is, essentially, a screensaver for your computer that you can interact with using your hands via multi-touch technology. It depicts an underwater scene with sand, water (of course), and fish. By interacting with it, you can have fish gather around you and also run your fingers through the virtual water.
Microsoft Blackboard is another rather intriguing piece of software. It is a puzzle game, that uses simulated physics combined with multi-touch to get the user to solve it. You use gestures to create seesaws, fans and gears that can all be resized and moved around. Everything is pieced together on a virtual blackboard (hence the name), and the goal is to get balloons and balls to a lightbulb.
Microsoft Rebound is a game that is played against friends or AI, which appears to be somewhat similar to Air Hockey. The aim is to "use your fingers to propel a ball and annihilate your opponent" whilst playing in an electrified court.
Microsoft Garden Pond:
Microsoft Garden Pond is another game, though this one has a more relaxing tone to it. The idea is to guide some origami creations to peaceful areas of a pond, or direct them around using your hands to complete set goals. To move the origami, you interact with the water, making ripples.
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