Microsoft just can’t seem to keep a secret these days.
Microsoft has a security problem, and as a website devoted to PC technology we have absolutely no problem with that. Two new leaked builds of Windows 8.1 (Blue) have emerged online, and we've had a chance to check out what’s changed. Experts with inside sources at Microsoft have confirmed that these leaks are still not feature complete, but with a public preview expected sometime in June, we won’t have to wait much longer. So what’s new? Hit the jump to find out.
Turn back the clock to about a decade ago, and the screensaver was THE standard piece of software on any computer. This wasn’t because they helped PC performance – if anything, they wasted memory space. The real reason they were an accessory every PC couldn’t go without was because of our Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors. These CRT screens were the standard display used by millions of computers worldwide. However, they suffered from the threat of "burn-in." For the uninitiated, burn-in was when an image remained on the screen for too long and caused a phosphor compound that would leave a ghostly etching of the image permanently on the screen.
Windows 7 users don't seem to be in a rush to upgrade to Windows 8.
Another month is in the books, and that means we have another opportunity to examine Windows 8's impact on the market. According to Net Market Share, Windows 8's share of the desktop market has slowly crawled to 3.17 percent, up half a percentage point from February and up from a 2.26 percent share in January. What's interesting here is that Windows 7's penetration doesn't seem any worse for wear since Windows 8 debuted five months ago.
Microsoft has denied for months that Windows Blue even exists, but we finally have proof. A forum post from a Polish tech blog contained links for Windows 8 build 9364, and R27 installed the patch to verify its legitimacy. The consensus seems to be that Build 9364 is an “alpha” version of Blue, and while it might not be entirely feature complete, it certainly gives us a pretty good idea of what Microsoft has in store. We would recommend against installing this build for both legal and stability reasons, however that doesn’t mean you're totally shut out. We’ve compiled a full gallery of screenshots showing off the changes, and so far we have to say things are looking up for the modern UI.
SP1 for Windows 7 delivers critical security updates and improves performance.
For those of you rocking Windows 7 -- likely the majority reading this -- Microsoft wants you running Service Pack 1 (SP1), so beginning today it will roll out automatically on Windows Update, the software giant announced in a blog post. You can avoid SP1 by disabling automatic updates, but unless you have a very specific reason to do so, you might as well upgrade, if you haven't already. SP1 contains several security patches, bug fixes, and performance tweaks to keep Windows 7 operating at peak form.
The number of Linux users on Steam more than doubled last month.
Fearing Microsoft will build a walled garden around Windows 8, Valve co-founder Gabe Newellbeganfocusing Steam development on Linux, and that effort is starting to show up in the real world. To wit, the latest Steam Hardare Survey reveals that Linux usage on Steam has more than doubled in February, jumping from 0.8 percent a month prior to 2.02 percent currently.
Windows 8 customers can look forward to additional features as part of a new rapid iteration initiative at Microsoft.
A February 15th job posting by Microsoft has all but confirmed the existence of “Windows Blue”, and the role it will play in improving the Core Windows 8 experience. According to the listing, Microsoft is looking for individuals willing to work on the centerpiece of its new Windows UI, and the additional verbiage surrounding the qualifications suggest they are referring to the new start screen interface.