I’m writing this right now using Microsoft Word on the recently released Windows 8 Developer’s Build. I’m using a real PC, not a tablet, and it’s a system any Maximum PC user would be proud of: a Core i7 990X system running 12 GB of RAM plus an eVGA GeForce GTX 580SC. The system also has a pair of 1080p monitors attached. The goal was to live with the OS for a few days as my primary operating system and see just how usable it is in its current state.
The bottomline: not ready yet. Read on to find out why!
Screw the Emmys! The best gift bags of the past week came at Microsoft’s BUILD conference. The Redmond crew put their money where their mouths were and provided 5,000 developers with a tablet based off of the Samsung Series 7 Slate and packing a version of the Metro-tized Windows 8 Developer Preview. Theoretically, the gift was supposed to spur on app development for the upcoming operating system; instead, some not-so-gracious recipients have turned the tablets into quick cash on eBay.
While you can always put Windows 8 through its paces by downloading the Developer Preview, there is nothing quite like an absolutely free Windows 8 tablet with decent innards. Microsoft gave away 5,000 such Samsung Windows 8 tablets to developers at last week’s BUILD conference. A few of those developers are apparently so unimpressed that they are now desperately trying to get rid of these gratis tablets for whatever amount people are willing to pay. It turns out that people are willing to pay thousands of dollars.
Microsoft is unlike other pretenders to the tablet throne, all of whom are simply following Apple’s lead, in that it wants Windows 8-based tablets to deliver both the versatility and power of traditional PCs and the pickup-and-play ease of media tablets. But that’s where the differences end as Redmond also seems to have a fair amount of faith in the old adage “when in Rome . . .” Like Apple, the pioneer of the modern app store, MS also plans to keep 30 percent of all app sales. But that’s not the only part of Apple’s app distribution model to have caught Microsoft's fancy.
Microsoft intends to take a 30 percent cut of sales for apps developed for its touchy-feely Metro user interface in Windows 8, making it impossible not to draw comparisons with Apple's App Store business model. Apple makes a killing from user-developed apps by also helping themselves to nearly a third of all revenue, and Microsoft is setting itself up to similarly profit from Windows apps.
Perhaps you've heard that Windows 8 will ship with built-in antivirus software. Don't fret if you're just now learning this, Microsoft did a great job bombarding the media with information about its next major OS at its BUILD conference, and retaining it all on first pass is asking a lot. Nevertheless, this is a big announcement, and one that can't be sitting well with third-party AV vendors. Security firm Sophos has a message for them: "Too bad, sucka!"
All eyes have been on Microsoft ever since its BUILD conference got underway in Anaheim, California on Tuesday. While Redmond is using the new event primarily to acquaint developers with Windows 8, it’s also giving just about everyone else a glimpse of the operating system’s future in the process. Talking about the future, there seems to be an emerging consensus around the tech world that it’s going to be pretty bleak for plugins like Flash and Silverlight.
The verdict is still out on Windows 8, as it should be considering it will be about a year before Microsoft's fancy new OS goes gold. That's when we'll really find out if Microsoft designed a worthy successor to Windows 7, or made a terrible blunder in gambling on the new Metro user interface. Some half a million anxious Windows users went in search of answers well ahead of Windows 8's release.
Day one of Microsoft’s BUILD Developer conference is over. Conference attendees have received their Samsung Developer Tablets, and information overload has set in. Though this event is specifically targeted at developers, there is a wealth of Windows 8 information for the consumer to digest. Let’s look at some of the key features we learned about today, as well as some that we’ve received more detail into.
Good news for the haters, when Microsoft said it reimagined Windows, it also reimagined what the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) should look like, which means Windows 8 isn't immune to crashing. If you think about it, it's kind of comforting in a way. After all, what would Windows be without a BSoD revealing what went wrong? You could answer "Linux," or even "Mac OS X" if you're trying to start a flame war, but we won't go there.