Now that app stores have almost become de rigueur, it isn’t hugely surprising that even the next iteration of Windows is widely anticipated to have one. It also makes perfect sense considering the fact that Windows 8 is also being optimized to run on media tablets (even including those powered by ARM chips). While the alleged screenshots of Windows 8’s app store UI that were released a few weeks back eventually turned out to be fakes, some Russian enthusiasts now claim to have uncovered a couple of references to the store in a leaked Windows 8 build. Find out more after the jump.
Microsoft has announced a drag-and-drop, visual programming tool called Visual Studio LightSwitch. A stand alone product to begin with, the latest member of the Visual Studio family will eventually be available in future versions of Visual Studio. The tool is meant to enable business users to rapidly develop and deploy business applications regardless of the development skills or programming know-how at their disposal.
If you are not conversant with Visual Basic or C#, you can simply trust your ability to dabble with pre-built templates and tools to yield scalable business applications. According to Dave Mendlen, senior director of developer marketing at Microsoft, LightSwitch users are free to “use as much or as little code as they want.” As the applications are all Silverlight based, they can run on the end-user's desktop, inside a browser, or in the cloud with ample ease. MS plans to release a beta on August 23, with the final version expected sometime next year.
If you are struggling to grasp the exact nature of the partnership, then you are not alone. Apparently, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and HP CEO Mark Hurd were so busy raving about their partnership that they forgot to divulge any lucid details. But the information posted on Microsoft Technet does seem to be of some help: “Microsoft and HP will deliver ‘Smart Bundles’ for small and medium businesses. These are a combination of hardware and software, including HP server, storage and networking solutions, coupled with Windows Server Hyper-V and HP Insight software, delivered in a single, cost-effective package.”
The partnership will also provide a lot of impetus to the Windows Azure Platform, “with HP offering services, and Microsoft continuing to include HP hardware for Windows Azure infrastructure.”
Microsoft first announced its cloud computing development platform called 'Azure' during last year's PDC before making it available as a free technology preview, and it will still be a few more months before it officially launches in final form. When it does launch, consumers will be able to choose from a variety of pricing plans, Microsoft said on Tuesday.
For those interested in strictly consumption-based billing, Azure will cost 12 cents per hour for computing, 15 cents per gigabyte for storage, and 10 cents per 10,000 storage transactions, CNet reports. Network bandwidth will run between 10 cents and 15 cents per gigabyte.
Alternately, subscribers can opt to sign a six-month commitment as part of a discount plan called "development accelerator." This will come in two forms and includes a 15 percent to 30 percent discount off the consumption charges, with any overages billed at the regular rate. Once the contract is up, standard rates apply.
The pricing model puts Azure in direct competition with Amazon, slightly undercutting the competition for Windows-based clouds, but still a bit more expensive than Amazon's Linux option.