This week Apple held its latest World Wide Developers Conference from San Francisco, introducing to the world the next versions of OS X and iOS, as well as upgrading its MacBook Air lineup and previewing the next generation Mac Pro. For the full rundown, jump after the break. (Click here for more…)
On June 26, eight months after its general release, Microsoft is updating Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. The free new update brings lots of new features and functionality to the modernized version of Microsoft’s operating system.
The updated Start screen allows users to resize their apps with new larger and smaller options; users can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal an app drawer and access all apps installed and organize them by name, date installed, most used, and category; installed apps are no longer downloaded to the Start screen–they are placed inside the app drawer and you must manually pin it to the Start screen if you want it there; and you can match your desktop background with your Start screen background to “create a greater sense of unity and familiarity” between them. Also, the Start button returns to the traditional desktop but it won’t open a portal to folders and files like it did in previous Windows iterations; it simply brings you back to the Start screen and all your apps. Also, multitasking just got better: depending on your screen size and resolution, you can now snap more than two windows next to each other and you can further customize the size of each window (you are no longer shackled to the 80/20 split).
Elsewhere, the lock screen has been updated to become a picture frame that can now play a slideshow of your pictures stored locally on your device or from images stored in the cloud in SkyDrive. Users can also take pictures directly from the lock screen without having to log into their Windows 8.1 powered device.
System-wide search has been enhanced here, too. Type a query in the Search charm and you’ll be provided with actual files and documents you may be looking for. To date users are forced to tap headers like Files and Apps to dig for their searches; in Win 8.1 time will be saved since the OS will now show you relavant Word documents and Xbox games at first glance. Something new called Search Heroes are also being introduced here; search “Brad Pitt” and the OS will provide an aggregated view of many content sources to help you learn more about your query.
To read more about the new features and functions inside Windows 8.1, head over to this Windows blog post that details it all. For a quick look at 8.1 in action, watch the clip embedded above. Some screenshots hang in the gallery below.
Even if you aren’t a Windows aficionado, you should take an hour out of your day to watch this. Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience Team, took the stage at UX Week 2012, a user experience design conference. His presentation is called “The Story of Windows 8,” it details how Microsoft reimagined Windows for the next wave of PCs. He travels back in time to 1992, the year the Start Menu, Taskbar, and many of the other familiar facets of Windows were born. “They were designed to help people do things with computers that they did in 1992, not necessarily with what people do today with PCs, tablets, [and] phones today,” admits Harris. And this is what compelled the company to radically re-engineer the OS. Many things have been updated and refreshed over the years from Windows 95 to Windows 7, but “the basic elements of the user interface have remained the same,” he explains. Instead of waiting to be engulfed by the modern, his team decided to reimagine Windows by defining what is modern.
Over the course of the presentation, Harris gives a grand tour of Windows 8, interweaving and fully detailing the OS’ design principles (namely do more with less, authentically digital, pride in craftsmanship, fast and fluid, win as one).
He makes it a point to highlight the progression of Windows and what makes the latest release stand out from all the others. But what’s most fascinating about this intellectual and informative presentation is its overall theme which Harris calls “familiar usurped by modern.” Before diving into the OS, he spans the video game, smartphone, and automobile industries to compare and contrast “familiar” products and ideas to “modern” ones. It’s a course in shifting the status quo, being bold by leading by example, what it means to think and be modern. For design enthusiasts it’s a captivating watch, and along the way you might just learn all about the painstaking, detail-oriented effort that went into the making of Microsoft’s new OS.
Three years after Microsoft’s last major OS release the next one is out of the bag. As of 12:01AM on October 26 the next version of Windows was let loose into the wild. Windows 8 is an entirely new OS, built from the ground up supporting touch input and a new Start screen that borrows its Live Tile look from Microsoft’s foray into the mobile smartphone space. Though the new OS begs to be touched, it has been proven to work just as well with the typical mice and keyboard setup. PC manufacturers like Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo are already selling devices running Windows 8 from desktops to laptops to tablets and convertibles.
This release marks the first time Microsoft is selling hardware of their own to promote it. Surface for Windows RT is out now, and Surface for Windows 8 Pro is coming soon. In case you don’t know the difference, Windows RT runs off ARM processors and does not support legacy applications made for Windows 7, Vista, XP, and so on. RT will only run apps downloaded from the Windows Store, open today. If your needs require such older apps, you’ll have to opt for the Pro version which does support x86 processors and apps designed with that chipset in mind. In a nutshell, Windows RT devices pack small ARM processors that allow for more compact, lighter PC designs and extended battery life; legacy apps won’t run. Windows Pro devices use x86 processors and these PC designs are typically thicker and heavier; legacy apps will run.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shared his excitement for the latest software release in a press statement: ”We have reimagined Windows and the result is a stunning lineup of new PCs. Windows 8 brings together the best of the PC and the tablet. It works perfect for work and play and it is alive with your world. Every one of our customers will find a PC that they will absolutely love.”
To get Windows 8 today you have a couple options: you can either download it from Windows.com for $39.99 or purchase a physical copy for $69.99. Click here for more. There’s also a Windows Upgrade Offer available if you purchase a Windows 7 PC. Check that out here. Order a Surface here.
In addition to the PR, you’ll also find a couple videos after the break. Bill Gates talks Windows 8 and Surface in the first, and if you’re excited about this release as I am you’ll allot about an hour to watch the Windows 8 launch event hosted by Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky with an appearence by Steve Ballmer.
Happy Windows 8 Day! (Click here for more…)
The next version of Windows is almost here. October 26 is under two weeks away, so what better time to reveal what the physical packaging looks like and flip the switch for preordering. Microsoft describes the packaging as “tak[ing] a fresh approach, in the reimagining of Windows.” It is made up of paper based materials which makes the box greener than in the past. Interestingly the company will ship Windows 8 in a variety of packages, each featuring a different “vibrant illustration” on the front. Check out the five options in the gallery below.
In addition to showing off the product’s package, Microsoft also announced that the Metro-fied OS is up for preorder. Consumers can reserve a packaged DVD of the upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $69.99. However, if you can live without the snazzy new physical package, on launch day you’ll be able to upgrade online via the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant (at Windows.com) for $39.99. The upgrade promotion runs until January 31, 2013. To be eligible for an upgrade at these prices you must already by running Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, or Windows 7. Note that you can upgrade for even cheaper–$14.99–if you purchase a Windows 7 PC anytime between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013. If you’re interested in viewing all the Windows 8 SKUs up for preorder, head over to NewEgg to see the lineup.
Mountain Lion, the successor to Snow Leopard and the ninth major release of Apple’s OS X, is now available. OS X 10.8 comes complete with over 200 new features including Messages, Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, Notes, Reminders, and Game Center, AirPlay Mirroring, dictation, and iCloud enhancements. Mountain Lion requires you running OS X v10.6.8 or later, 2GB of memory, and 8GB of available space. You won’t find it in stores on-disc; you must download it from the Mac App Store. It costs a low $19.99. Upgrade today. (Note: If you purchased a qualifying Mac on or after June 11, you can receive the new OS for free. Plus all Macs shipping out now will come with Mountain Lion preloaded.)
Update: In typical Apple fashion, the hardware/software company announced that after just a mere four days after putting Mountain Lion on the market, three million copies of the new OS were sold, “making it the most successful OS X release in Apple’s history.” Added emphasis. For more self-congratulatory quotes, jump after the break for the official PR.
Mark your calendars. Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky has announced that the company’s next operating system–Windows 8–will release October 26, 2012. On this day consumers will be able to get their hands on the final version of the OS whether they are upgrading their current PC or wanting to purchase a new one. When it ships three distinct versions of Windows 8 will be floating around: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows RT. For a chart that helps visualize the differences, click here. Note that RT will not sell in stores and will only come preinstalled on devices such as the Microsoft Surface.
Recently Microsoft also took the covers off the next version of their productivity suite. Office 2013 focuses on the cloud for saving and accessing content across multiple devices, social and new visual scenarios, and touch input for tablet accessibility. You can read all about the new Office right here, and you can even download a free customer preview of the software that includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and Outlook and give it a test drive. Microsoft has not specified price and release date info, but it was made known that Office 2013 Home and Student edition will come preloaded on all Windows RT devices. Stay tuned.
Google I/O 2012: Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q media streamer, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google+ & Project Glass
Google announced a slew of new hardware and software at this year’s I/O event for developers. From tablets to a funky-looking media streamer, to the next version of Android and even the futuristic Project Glass, the boys of Mountain View covered it all so let’s dive right in.
The Nexus 7 serves the same purpose as the Nexus smartphone lineup: it provides a pure Android experience, but on a tablet. The 7-inch slate was made in collaboration with hardware manufacturer Asus, and it packs a 1280×800 back-lit IPS display with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass. It measures 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm and weighs an impressively light 340 grams. A quad-core Tegra 3 processor from NVIDIA and 1GB of RAM power the tablet, and a 4325 mAh battery 9 hours of HD video playback and 300 hours of standby time. As far as sensors go, there’s an accelerometer, GPS, a magnetometer, and a gyroscope. WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, and NFC are also on board. Ports include Micro USB and a 3.5mm headphone jack, both located on the bottom of the device. There’s rear-facing camera, but you’ll find a 1.2MP front-facing camera for video chatting. 8GB and 16GB storage capacities are available to pre-order today through the Google Play storefront at $199 and $149, respectively. The tablet ships later this month and comes with a $25 credit for the Play store plus a copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and other media-related extras. It runs the latest version of Android (that is 4.1 Jelly Bean, more on this later) and Google says it was “made for Google Play.” On the homescreen you’ll have quick access to games, your music, movie, and TV show libraries, and your book and magazine collections. In related news, the Google Play store has been updated and now sells magazines, TV shows, and movies can be rented and purchased.
At this year’s World Wide Developer’s Conference, Apple spent equal time talking about hardware and software updates. The annual event heated up when the MacBook lineup received a healthy dose of upgraded processors and graphics, among other spec bumps. Also, a brand new “next-generation” MacBook Pro was unveiled. Later, the mobile iOS that powers iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches was significantly enhanced with the introduction of iOS 6. For all the details, read on.
The MacBook Air was refreshed with the following spec bumps. The thin-and-light laptop now packs the 3rd-gen Intel Core processors, also known as Ivy Bridge; these dual-core i7s can reach speeds up to 2.0GHz (or up to 3.2GHz with Turbo Boost). Memory reaches 8GB 1600MHz, and graphics can perform up to sixty percent faster. Flash storage has been beefed up to 512 GB and is 2x speedier featuring a 500MBps read speed. The Air also includes a USB 3 port and a FaceTime HD camera (720p). There are two 11-inch and two 13-inch configurations, both shipping today and both starting at $100 cheaper than the previous generation. The 11-inch MacBook Air with 64GB starts at $999 and the 13-inch Air with128GB starts at $1,199.
The MacBook Pro was also refreshed and here are the note-worthy spec bumps. Just like the new Airs, the updated Pros now include the 3rd-gen “Ivy Bridge” Intel Core processors; these dual-core i7 processors reach speeds up to 2.7GHz (or up to 3.7GHz with Turbo Boost). Memory reachers 8GB 1600MHz. Graphics are upgraded to NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 650M (based on the graphics chip maker’s new Kepler architecture), with up to 1GB video memory that is up to sixty percent faster than before. USB 3 is on board. There are two 13-inch and two 15-inch MacBook Pro configurations, both shipping today and they start at the same price ranges as the previous generation Pros. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.5GHz processor speed starts at $1,199 and the 15-inch Pro with a 2.3GHz speed starts at $1,799.
And now we move onto what Apple is branding the “next generation” MacBook Pro. The company says it’s “the best computer we’ve ever made.” In short, what makes this new breed of Pro so special is that it’s made thinner and lighter and it packs a gorgeous Retina Display. You want hard specs, so here they are. This new Pro measures at 0.71 inches thin (a quarter thinner than the standard Pro) and it weighs 4.4 pounds. The 15.4-inch screen is a Retina Display with an impressive resolution of 2880×1800, packing 4x the number of pixels than the previous-gen Pro. With 220 pixels per inch, Apple crowns this “the world’s highest-resolution notebook display.” Lion has been updated to take advantage of the higher resolution; Mac apps like Mail, Safari, iMovie and iPhoto will be compatible, along with others like Aperture, Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk Autocad, and the game Diablo 3. Just like they had to do when the Retina Display came to the iPhone, software developers will have to update their apps to make them Retina-ready. Jumping inside, the Pro runs on Intel’s fastest quad-core processors, that is Core i7s up to 2.7GHz (or up to 3.7GHz with Turbo Boost); memory goes up to 16GB 1600MHz; next-gen NVIDIA Kepler graphics GeForce GT 650M; up to 768GB fast flash storage; up to 7 hours of battery life with 30 days of standby time. Across the left-side of the powerful, noticeably thinner lappy you’ll find an SD card slot, HDMI, and USB 3 ports; along the right side there’s a MagSafe 2 port (the new port has been made thinner to fit the design), two Thunderbolt ports, USB 3, and a headphone jack. That’s right, this Pro has ditched an optical drive, FireWire, and Gigabit Ethernet. Apple sells adapters if you require these. Additionally, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display features a glass multitouch trackpad, backlit keyboard, 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, FaceTime HD camera, dual microphones, stereo speakers, and a new internal fan system that outputs nearly imperceptible sound. Two configurations of the next-gen Pro ship today starting at $2,199. (Click here for more…)
The next operating system from Microsoft is almost here. After posting the Developer and Consumer previews, on May 28 the company let loose the Windows 8 Release Preview. In addition to packing bug fixes to make for a more stable and consistent user experience, the Release Preview includes improvements to existing apps like Mail, Photos, and People and introduces new Bing-powered apps Travel, News, and Sports. Also included is Zune Pass integration, Flash support in Internet Explorer 10, and of course a broader selection of apps in the Windows Store as developers start to hop aboard the Metro bandwagon.
The Windows 8 Release Preview is available for download today in 14 languages today; click here to access the free download. The final version of the touch-friendly OS is out later this year. PR after the break.
Microsoft unveiled their next major operating system release in June 2010. Then at the BUILD 2011 developer’s conference the company provided further details about the totally revamped, Metro-style OS. And now, this past Wednesday at Mobile World Congress in Spain, Microsoft has made available to the general public the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. According to a press release, this free preview “offers a more robust experience for testing the world’s most popular operating system and is available to the widest range of people yet following the initial release of the Windows 8 Developer Preview late last year.” In other words, it will provide a more stable Windows 8 experience for developers and consumers alike to check out before Microsoft officially releases the final version of the OS before the end of the year.
Ready to give Windows 8 a spin? Head over to Microsoft’s official download portal and click Get It Nowto, well, get it now. Can your computer handle it? The company released these recommendations: 1 GHz or faster processor; 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit); 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit); DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver.
Here it is, the official logo for Microsoft’s upcoming operating system upgrade Windows 8. Design agency Pentagram was tasked to come up with the logo and during their brainstorming sessions they posed the question, “your name is Windows. Why are you a flag?” Take a look below…
…and you’ll see that the Windows logo originally started as an actual window and evolved into a flying or waving flag. In a blog post Microsoft describes its intent to bring the logo “back to its roots” with Windows 8.
“Windows” really is a beautiful metaphor for computing and with the new logo we wanted to celebrate the idea of a window, in perspective. Microsoft and Windows are all about putting technology in people’s hands to empower them to find their own perspectives. And that is what the new logo was meant to be. We did less of a re-design and more to return it to its original meaning and bringing Windows back to its roots – reimagining the Windows logo as just that – a window.
What should strike you most, however, is the Metro influence that makes itself instantly apparent in the logo. The Metro style design philosophy was born in Windows Phone, it was recently brought to Xbox, and soon it will take over the PC with Windows 8. The blocky and modern Metro look is one element that ties together all of Microsoft’s consumer offerings, and so it makes sense that it would be prominent in the logo for the company’s next OS.
[Via Windows Blog]
And so it seems like newly appointed Apple CEO Tim Cook is not following in the footsteps of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs when it comes to announcing the latest iteration of the Mac’s OS. Instead of gathering the press and making a grand presentation of it all, with OS X Mountain Lion (v10.8) Apple simply added a new “sneak peek” portal to their website that outlines many of the OS’ new features.
When OS X Lion was announced, Apple made it clear that their intention to bring the magic of the iPad to the desktop was very real. The most obvious port was Mission Control, a way for Mac users to organize and flip through their apps on the desktop just as they would on a mobile iOS device. This time around Apple is infusing so much more from iOS into OS X with new features like Messages with iMessage support, Notification Center, and even wide scale Twitter integration. Take a look below and follow after the break to read all about the new Lion in town.
RIP iChat. That’s right–Apple is replacing their in-house instant messenger with a new app called Messages. In addition to supporting instant messaging services like AIM, Jabber, Google Talk, and Yahoo! Messenger like its predecessor, Messages also supports iMessage. This means “you send unlimited messages to anyone on a Mac [using Messages] or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.” In essence, this is iChat with a revamped UI and iMessage compatibility, oh and built-in FaceTime. Messages functions exactly like iMessage does on iOS devices; in addition to sending text you can share photos, videos, documents, and contacts and also initiate group messaging. Additionally you can see when your message has been delivered, when someone’s typing a reply, and you can allow the recipient to see when you’ve read their incoming messages. Click a button to immediately initiate a FaceTime video chat. And since Messages has iMessage support baked in, “you can start a conversation on your Mac and pick it up on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.” Simple, the Apple way. Download Messages today in beta form.
In iOS it’s a swipe from the top to pull down the unified Notification Center and view your alerts; in OS X it will be a swipe from the right. When you receive a notification on your Mac, a notification banner will appear in the upper-right hand corner of the desktop. When you receive an email, a calendar alert, an instant message, or whatever it might be the banner will pop up and preview the notification and then it will fade away so as not to interrupt your activity. When the banners disappear they relocate to the Notification Center which, as described above, can be reached at any time with a swipe to the left. To access it you can either perform a two finger swipe to the left on a trackpad, or you can click a new bulls-eye icon that sits up top where the Spotlight magnifying glass has been located for years (that is now shifted slightly to the left to make room). When the bulls-eye center is blue that indicates you have one or more notifications waiting for you. To exit Notification Center, simply click anywhere else on your screen and it will slide away. And just like in iOS, you can customize Notification Center by arranging app-specific alerts to your liking, enabling banners or more obtrusive alerts, sounds, and you’re also given the option to disable Notification Center if you don’t feel like dealing with it at all. It has been confirmed that Apple will be making available an API so that developers can take advantage of Notification Center with their own apps.
Apple is baking in the share button iOS users should be accustomed to by now. It’s that button with a square and an arrow popping out of it that allows you to quickly share–say, a photo–with others by providing a drop-down list of places to send the information to. In iOS, for example, in the Photos app you can select an image, click the share button, and tap Email and the photo will instantly drop into a new email as an attachment ready to be sent off. In OS X, Apple plans to plant these “Share Sheets” into many apps including (but not limited to) Safari, Messages, Photo Booth, Quicktime, Preview, and iPhoto. Want to tweet a link you’re viewing in Safari? With Share Sheets there’s no need to login to Twitter and copy and paste the link; simply click the share button and click Twitter and the app will automatically open with the link ready to be sent off into the Twittersphere. Other sharing options include Vimeo and Flickr.
There was the Nexus One and Nexus S. Today in a joint event based in Hong Kong Google and Samsung announced the next Android flagship device: the Galaxy Nexus. Both the hardware and software that make up this smartphone will bring you to your knees. First, check out these hardware specifications. The Galaxy Nexus sports a giant 4.65″ (1280X720) HD Super AMOLED display and is powered by a 1.2GHz dual core processor and 1GB of RAM. There’s a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, zero shutter lag, and 1080p HD video recording at 30fps around back and a 1.3 megapixel camera on the front for video calls. Built-in sensors include an accelerometer, compass, gyro, light, proximity, and a freakin’ barometer. Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0 technologies are onboard, as is NFC. The sleek devices measures at 135.5 x 67.94 x 8.94mm and weighs 135g. A Li-on 1,750 mAh battery comes attached. Ports include USB 2.0 and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Customers will have the option of 16GB and 32GB storage capacities. will HSPA+ and 4G LTE models will be produced with all signs pointing to AT&T and Verizon Wireless as official carriers, though this information along with pricing has yet to be announced.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the next Nexus phone will come loaded with the next generation Android OS dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich. Previously introduced and detailed at Google I/O earlier this year, ICS (now labeled Android 4.0) will merge Android’s smartphone OS Gingerbread (v2.3) and tablet OS Honeycomb (v3.0) to form “one OS everywhere” and bring the best of both worlds to smartphone devices. At the Hong Kong event Google further detailed ICS and shed light on some super cool functionality that’s baked into it. With Android 4.0, Google says “the lock screen, home screen, phone app, and everything in between has been rethought and redesigned to make Android simple, beautiful, and useful.” The revamped OS brings with it many enhancements and new features, but there are four major ones that were discussed at today’s event. (1) Face Unlock uses facial recognition to unlock your phone. In Settings, Android will snap a picture of your face and remember it each time you go to unlock your phone. If lighting is poor, you can unlock your phone with a conventional swipe. (2) Android Beam uses NFC technology to wirelessly share content between two devices. Users can physically touch two phones together and tap a “beam” button to share web pages, apps, maps, YouTube videos, and more. Does this remind you of WebOS’ “tap-to-share” functionality? It should. (3) The enhanced Camera app brings with it a panorama mode, 1080p video capture, zero-shutter lag, and fun effects like silly faces and background replacement. Photos can be edited right on the device. (4) A new People app helps users organize their contacts with social network integration (Google+, “other social networks”) including the ability to view status updates and high-res photos. Other software updates coming with ICS include virtual on-screen buttons that take the place of physical capacitive ones, a new modern “Roboto” font, a customizable launcher, offline search in Gmail, accessing apps from the lock screen, enhanced voice recognition, tabbed browsing, and the ability to exit apps running in the background. If you want to learn more about what’s packed inside Ice Cream Sandwich, head over to the Android Developers website.
The Galaxy Nexus will be the very first device to run Android 4.0. Google says that “theoretically [Ice Cream Sandwich] should work for any [Android] 2.3 device.” Though there are no plans to rollout ICS to legacy Android devices just yet, you can expect Google and hardware manufacturers like Samsung and HTC to speak up about software updates for specific devices in the near future. The Galaxy Nexus with ICS goes on sale in the U.S., Europe, and Asia this November. Again, pricing and carriers are TBD. Check out the super sleek phone and OS in the gallery below, then find official PR after the break.
This week at its developer-focused BUILD conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft previewed Windows 8 in all its Metro glory and offered up new juicy details surrounding the upcoming sleek OS. Methinks they can be best presented in easily digestible bullet point format.
- Windows 8 doesn’t require the latest and greatest and most powerful computer guts to run well. At the conference Microsoft’s President of Windows Steven Sinofsky (above) showed off a Lenevo S10 running Win8 without hiccup. The S10 is an ancient netbook released in 2008 with a single core 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor and 1GB of RAM, mind you.
- Sinofsky also showed off not-yet-released ultra thin-and-light notebooks running Win8 smoothly. These “ultrabooks” of the future will have no problem powering the OS.
- Win8 will come baked with NFC support. Microsoft demoed a tap-to-share feature whereby users can physically tap a tablet running Win8 to another compatible device and share information between the two devices. Just like HP’s “touch-t0-share” functionality between the TouchPad and other WebOS devices.
- Xbox Live is coming to Windows. The company promises that this new service will bring the console’s games, music, movies, and TV shows to Win8 devices. (Click here to watch a demo)
- The Windows Store (Microsoft’s version of Apple’s Mac App Store) will sell both Metro-style and conventional Windows apps.
- Metro apps can communicate with one another so long as the developer builds that functionality in. Microsoft offers this example: “You can easily select and email photos from different places, such as Facebook, Flickr or on your hard drive.”
- Windows SkyDrive support allows users to access content in the cloud across various Win8 devices with a Microsoft account.
- The company has given a name to the pane that houses Search, Share, Start, Connect, and Settings. A swipe from the right brings up those aforementioned “Charms.”
- The new OS will offer three different ways of logging into your account: password, PIN, or picture password. That last one is definitely the most innovative; you can select a picture from your collection and you will be asked to setup three touch points. When you go to login simply touch the predetermined points and you’re in!
- Expect much, much faster bootup times. Depending on the type of hardware, going from completely off to the login screen could take as short as 3-5 seconds.
- The ability to refresh and reset the OS from scratch is a new feature. If for any reason your system becomes corrupted due to, say, a virus you can wipe it out but keep all your settings in tact with a feature called Refresh. If things get really bad or you’re just looking to start anew again, Reset makes it easy to restore your OS to its original factory settings.
- Last but certainly not least I want to talk about the core of Windows 8. Microsoft continues to reiterate that the new Metro UI and its Live Tile apps is not a skin on top of the classic Windows 7-esque desktop. At the conference the company demoed how users will easily be able to switch back and forth between the new UI and what Windows enthusiasts are used to. Think of it like this. The traditional Windows desktop with Start menu and Quick Launch bar lives next to (not underneath or above) the new UI. To access it users will tap or click the “Desktop” square that lives among the apps that make up the Metro UI. Want to download and engage with new HTML5-based apps? Stay inside Metro. Need to pull up a spreadsheet in Excel? You’re probably going to want to switch into the classic Windows mode. Let’s hope that Microsoft eventually ports their Office suite to Metro like Apple built an iOS version of iWork. Once that happens, your eagerness to return to the dark ages will quickly begin to dwindle. Microsoft is firm in its belief that Metro is the future for their PCs and smartphones; don’t be surprised if one day they completely phase out the Windows interface of yesteryear.
- Update: Microsoft has announced that the Internet Explorer 10 running in Metro will not support any plug-ins. And that includes Flash. But why? Because they claim it “improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers.” Don’t fret, though; IE10 running in the classic Windows app will support plug-ins as usual. Though Flash maker Adobe says they are ready and willing to “drive innovation in HTML5,” they will also be working hard to enable Flash-based apps in Metro via Adobe AIR.
Windows 8 is expected to release in 2012. But what if I told you there’s a way to get your hands on Windows 8 right now? The Windows Developer Preview is out now! So for all you app-makers out there excited to start building apps for the Metro interface, don’t wait another minute and click that link. And for those of you who are interested in learning more about Microsoft’s next big thing, check out the Windows unveiled article posted back in June. Microsoft’s plan to integrate Windows 8 across all kinds of devices (desktops, laptops, ultrabooks, and tablets running x86 and efficient ARM processors) is discussed in more detail there and after the break in PR form.
Chandra Rathakrishnan, CEO of Fusion Garage, hosted an intimate event yesterday afternoon to introduce a new tablet experience unto the world. The creator of the failed JooJoo tablet (2009) is back and hopes to regain consumer faith with his second attempt at creating a new kind of post-PC device. Rathakrishnan ran a lengthy and expensive viral marketing campaign leading up to yesterday’s unveiling; he invented the faux company TabCo (short for Tablet Company) and posted viral videos at the site WhoIsTabCo.com. The campaign had the public at large buzzing about who might be behind TabCo. Now that we know it’s Fusion Garage, journey downward to learn more about the forthcoming products and decide if the hype was worth it. (Click here for more…)
Today Apple announced that their latest and greatest desktop OS will become available tomorrow, July 20. Mac OS X Lion (v10.7) will strictly be available for purchase in the Mac App Store; to reiterate, you will not be able to pick up a physical install disc in stores. The 4GB download costs $29.99. What a steal!
Update: Lion is out now. Offical PR is after the break. Some bits you should know: Lion requires an Intel-based Mac with a Core 2 Duo, i3, i5, i7 or Xeon processor and 2GB of RAM; Users who do not have broadband access can download Lion at Apple retail stores; and later this August, Lion will be made available on a USB thumb drive through the online Apple Store for $69. Also, Mac OS X Lion Server is now available for $69 through the Mac App Store. (Click here for more…)
Today Apple brought the house down in San Fransisco’s Moscone Center where they previewed the latest versions of Mac OS X, iOS, and a new service called iCloud. Quote of the day comes from Apple CEO Steve Jobs who introduced the developer event with this: “If the hardware is the brain and the sinew of our products, the software in them is the soul.” The next-gen iPhone was nowhere to be found; today was all about the magical software that keeps Apple’s momentum chugging along at great pace. And now without further ado, let’s dive right in! It’s all after the break. (Click here for more…)
Today Microsoft unveiled the next version of Windows; internally it’s being appropriately referred to as Windows 8. Microsoft’s goal with this iterative update is to bring one unified Windows experience to all kinds of platforms, including desktops, laptops, ultraportables, netbooks, and tablets. Note that this approach is fundamentally different from Apple’s; that camp separates Mac OS X and iOS as two different experiences and user interfaces–one is built around keyboard and mouse implementation, while the other is tailor-made for touch input. Microsoft says that the next version of Windows is being built with both methods of input in mind.
During the demonstration Microsoft did not dive all that deep into the flashy new UI but here are a few things to know. When you power up a Windows 8 device you’ll see a lock screen that provides the date and time and some notifications; the lock screen background can be customized. Swipe up and you’ll be brought to the Start screen we’ve been discussing. Microsoft describes this customizable space as a “personal mosaic of tiles.” Every app you install to your device will exist as a tile. Click Weather and the app opens full screen. Multitasking is seamless. When multiple apps are open at once, simply swipe from the left to push background apps into the foreground. Switching from the browser to videos to pictures is extremely fluid and fast. Apps can also run alongside each other. For example, if you’re watching a video and want to check on your Twitter feed, a subtle swipe from the left will snap your Twitter feed to the left pane so you can check it out and continue watching your video simultaneously. If you’re on a tablet or slate device a virtual keyboard will reveal itself when it’s needed. A standard keyboard can be replaced by a “thumbs layout” that splits the keyboard in two and makes it more ergonomically friendly for tablet users whose hands are grasping the device from the sides. Also, no matter where you are a swipe from the right will show a pane consisting of Search, Share, Start, Connect, and Settings.
Ready for an unfortunate surprise? The new interface discussed here is, at its core, an OS skin of sorts. The regular Windows desktop and file system you’re used to exists behind the flashy overhaul. During the demonstration Microsoft Excel was initiated from the tile experience and was instantly opened inside the traditional Windows experience–desktop, Start menu, taskbar and all. Since Windows 8 will be a hybrid experience consisting of the new touch-based UI and the traditional Windows interface there will be a divide when it comes to app development; devs will have the option to make an app for the new space, the old space, or both. What’s neat, however, is that “flashy” apps can run alongside “traditional” apps. For example, you can have a Word document open and swipe in from the left a Twitter or RSS feed at any time. Also demoed was the ability to explore app content from multiple locations within the OS. For example, pictures can be viewed from the local file system, connected networks, and other apps on the system. The thought of running two distinct UIs at the same time is a bit scary, but at least Microsoft is doing its best to tie them together effectively.
And now let’s bring things full circle. As stated earlier, Windows 8 is meant to bridge the gap between desktop and mobile device, to create one seamless and connected experience across multiple platforms. Whether you’re using a keyboard and mouse or your fingers the next Windows will work. Apps will be designed from the ground up to be touch-capable (as is the OS), but Microsoft reassures that traditional keyboard and mouse input will work just fine. The upcoming OS will work with both x86 and ARM processors; Microsoft has teamed with NVIDIA, TI, and Qualcomm so far on that front. The company promises that hundreds of millions of developers will already know how to develop for it by the time it releases. Speaking of which, don’t expect to see Windows 8 running on your machine anytime soon. First Microsoft has to teach developers how to make apps for the new UI; this will happen at their upcoming developer event BUILD this September in California. At that time more details surrounding the upcoming OS will likely come out. Obviously a solid release window has not been announced yet, let alone a final name for the product. Microsoft let on that consumers and businesses should not anticipate a fall release.
That about does it for now. Essentially today’s unveil was just that–Microsoft lifted the curtains to reveal the flashy aesthetic of its new OS and showed how brilliantly it performs on tiny ARM processors. Hang tight, September is just three months away! Go on and jump after the break to watch a brief demonstration of Windows 8.
Yesterday and today Google hosted its renowned developer’s conference dubbed Google I/O 2011. Literally thousands of developers flocked to San Fransisco’s Moscone Center to find out what Google’s been cooking up on their end. This year’s event proved to be leaps and bounds more exciting than last year’s conference. Google introduced their new cloud-based music service called Music Beta; they unveiled Ice Cream Sandwich, the next version of Android that promises to bridge the gap between Gingerbread and Honeycomb; Android is going into the home automation business with Google’s impressive initiative Android@Home; Chrome OS is finally ready for the big leagues–Samsung and Acer are prepping Chromebooks for mass consumption; and Angry Birds has landed in the browser!
So much to discuss–it’s all a hop, skip and a jump after the break. (Click here for more…)