Love 'em or hate 'em, ribbons will play a big role in Windows 8, even more so than in Windows 7. Word on the Web is that Microsoft is extending the ribbons interface beyond just core applications, like Paint and Word, and will deck out Windows 8's entire interface with ribbons, completely replacing menu-driven toolbars in the process. Is this a good thing?
According to Win Rumors, Microsoft has begun distributing an early version of Windows 8 to key OEM partners. The company is using the Connect external testing system to avoid any unwanted leaks. The program is being called the Windows 8 and Server vNext Pre-Release Program, leaving little doubt of its identity.
It used to be that we'd always recommend partitioning a large capacity hard drive into two separate chunks, one for the operating system and the other for storing files. The reason for this is that you could generally expect a Windows install to go bad at some point, whether due to a virus outbreak or just too much accumulated cruft. By storing your important work documents, family photos, and everyone else on a separate partition, you could wipe out your main OS partition and start fresh with a new install of Windows without losing your files. It looks like Windows 8 will come with a built-in feature that borrows on this philosophy.
It’s the end of Wintel. At least, that’s what you’re likely to read this morning after Microsoft dropped the bomb shell that the next version of Windows will run not just on x86, but also on select ARM chips.
Microsoft CEO made the revelation Wednesday night at the pre-CES keynote and immediately set the industry abuzz over the ramifications of Windows running on ARM. The company then promptly demonstrated an early pre-alpha version of Windows running on ARM hardware from Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and an Nvidia.
Among the demos: The next-gen Windows on ARM running an ARM-version of Microsoft Word and printing to an Epson printer as well as the Nvidia Tegra 2 part running HD video and running a browser.
Ballmer said Microsoft isn’t turning its back on x86, but it wants to have the ability to provide Windows on everything from big screens to small screen. “Whatever device you use, now or in the future, Windows will be there,” Ballmer said.
The version demonstrated was “real Windows” running on ARM and not something emulated officials said. Still, hard details were missing such as when the OS would be available or just what features of Windows would be available on ARM. Would it be a super stripped down? What API’s would be supported? Will vendors really recompile or rewire x86 applications for ARM? None of that is known yet.
It's that time of the year again. And by that we mean it's time for us to say, "So long, suckers!"
We've got two very special All-Rant podcasts coming up, of which this is but the first. Gordon, Andy, and Nathan got together right before heading home for the holidays to record a brand-new half-podcast, in which much is discussed, including our great predictions for 2011, Windows on ARM, the Kobiyashi Maru, and a live, never-before-heard Rant of the Week. And then there's about an hour of the best of Gordon's Rants of the Week. Next week: more of this sort of thing!
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at email@example.com or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are not standing by.
We love this time of the year, not just because of the holidays, but also for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). From January 6-9, 2011, companies will gather in Las Vegas to show off new and upcoming products, some of which will be in the concept stage and may never become an actual shipping product.
Windows 8 isn't one of those concept products, but according to a report in The New York Times, Steve Ballmer may show off Redmond's next generation operating system at CES, at least that's what they're hearing from a "person with knowledge of Microsoft's plans."
According to NYT's various sources, Ballmer and Co. also plan to unveil a slew of tablets built by Samsung, Dell, and several other manufacturing partners. One of the more promising slates is a Samsung device that will include a slide-out keyboard and most likely run Windows 7.
On the 25th anniversary of Windows, we examine the future of Microsoft's flagship operating system
For what it’s worth, the first 25 years of our lives weren’t that smooth, either. So forgive us for favoring words like “commemorate” or “contemplate” instead of “celebrate,” which feels like too rosy a word for an operating system that has given us so much frustration, confusion, and heartache. Hey, maybe now that it’s 25, Windows will behave like a grown-up.
For better or for worse, the fact remains that on November 20, 1985, Microsoft released the very first version of Windows. If we asked you to use just a single word to define the 25-year history of Microsoft’s OS, we’re betting that “erratic” would pop up 70 times out of 100. There are a lot less-accurate descriptions.
Instead of recounting the very well-known past of the venerable OS—we’re sure that we’ll all see countless retrospectives, timelines, and detailed histories online—we decided it would be more interesting to peer into the future. These are wild and woolly times for Microsoft, Apple, and even Google as each company tries to give users the digital equivalent of the moon in exchange for a lifetime of loyalty. Based on the leak published earlier this summer, it’s clear that Microsoft has already given ample consideration and thought to Windows 8, or whatever the next version will be named.
To shed some light on the matter, we decided to ask a handful of the world’s leading independent PC manufacturers what they’ve heard and what features and functionality they’d like to see in the next big Windows release. A few people were OK going on the record, but most preferred to keep their comments anonymous or on a “background only “basis.
We also checked in with our Lab (of course), and with you, our readers, via our Facebook Fan page. To cap off our story, Reviews Editor Michael Brown reports on his hands-on experience with the beta of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Home Server V2, which we expect will release later this year.
Imparted wisdom, thoughts, facts, and some outright guesses are inside.
The next major version of Windows is due to arrive in about two years, Microsoft let slip in a blog post on its Dutch website. That info was apparently supposed to be kept under wraps, as the software juggernaut has gone and removed all references to Windows 8 and replaced it with talk about the first Service Pack for Windows 7.
Should Microsoft release Windows 8 two years from now, that would put a three-year gap between it and Windows 7, which launched in October 2009. According to leaked slides that have popped up on the Web, the next version of Windows will include a faster startup, facial recognition as a security option, improved tablet support, and perhaps an app store.
In the meantime, Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is due to arrive in the first half of 2011, the Dutch blog post mentions.
The expression “kids say the darndest things” gets just about anyone under the age of 10 off the hook for bizarre remarks, but Microsoft PR is likely looking for someway to spin Steve Ballmer’s latest comments into this category as well following a recent interview at the Gartner Symposium. During the one-on-one with ZDnet’s Larry Dignan, Ballmer claimed that “the next version of Windows” was Microsoft’s “riskiest bet”. Given that such a large percentage of Microsoft’s revenue comes from Windows, this probably wasn’t the best thing to admit in a public forum, but his honesty certainly does give us lots to write about!
This begs the question, why is Steve so worried about Windows 8? ZDnet’s Mary Jo Foley speculated that it could be because Microsoft’s next operating system is rumored to be a radical departure from Windows 7, but since nothing has been officially confirmed by the company, we still have very little to go on. Leaked feature slides claim Windows 8 is going to be faster booting, have more advanced biometric security support, and maybe even an app store. Sure these are interesting features to a select few, but not exactly what most people would consider “risky”.
The more likely explanation is simply the natural fear built into Microsoft after the launch of Windows Vista. In many ways Vista failed because they tried to change core aspects of the operating system too quickly, and the compatibility problems caused a backlash that they are only now starting to recover from.
So should they make radical changes and risk another Vista? Or should they simply continue tweaking the UI and risk not making a compelling case to upgrade in two years time?
Firewire's long-term prognosis isn't looking very good at the moment. It's no longer uncommon for motherboards to ship without a Firewire port on the rear I/O panel, and though most mobos support the spec internally, you're now more likely to find an eSATA port integrated into your case than a Firewire port.
But the most damning piece of evidence that Firewire might be on its way out is a leaked Windows 8 slide indicating that Microsoft's next OS will sport better support for USB 3.0 and Bluetooth 3.0, but makes no mention of Firewire whatsoever. You might recall that Apple created quite a stink a couple of years ago when the Cupertino company dropped Firewire support from its MacBook line, but would Microsoft see the same kind of backlash if it were to drop Firewire when Windows 8 ships?
Firewire remains popular in the video and audio industries where users are quick to point out the faster transfer rates when compared to USB 2.0. But with USB 3.0 starting to take hold, the tide may be turning in its favor.
Are you ready to let go of Firewire, or should Microsoft continue to support the interface in Windows 8?