Microsoft Launches New Windows Photo Gallery and Movie Maker Versions, Kills Live Mesh

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced new versions of Windows Movie Maker and Photo Gallery for Windows 7 and Windows 8, which introduced several new features, some of which are explicitly designed to take advantage of new Windows 8-specific functionality. The announcement on the Windows Experience blog skimmed through some of the more featured improvements, but LiveSide spotted a comprehensive list posted on Microsoft Answers that offers a more complete look at what’s new.

Photo Gallery has a rather modest list of improvements:

  • AutoCollage
  • Vimeo Publishing Plugin

Movie Maker on the other hand has a slightly larger list of new things:

  • Audio Narration
  • Audio Waveforms
  • Audio Ducking and Emphasis
  • Music Store download integration
  • Deferred Encode Proxy and Disable Transcoding Options
  • MPEG-4/H.264 Encoding (MP4)
  • Video Stabilization and Rolling Shutter Correction (Windows 8 Only)
  • Outlined Text
  • Videos As Audio
  • Vimeo Publishing Plugin
  • Project Auto-Save

Photo Gallery and Movie Maker aside, this announcement also packed some bad news for fans of Live Mesh. When those colossal SkyDrive announcements were made recently, we pretty much knew that the end of the road was near for Mesh. It’s pretty much official now. If you install the Windows Essentials 2012 suite and have Live Mesh installed, it will automatically be removed and replaced with the desktop SkyDrive client.

Provided that you never update, you can technically continue using Live Mesh. But you’ll be stuck in 2011.

BUILD 2012 Sells Out In Under An Hour

When registration for Microsoft’s BUILD 2012 conference opened up this morning, we warned those interested in attending that it will sell out fast, and it certainly did. In just under an hour, it was completely sold out. The site was then updated with a message instructing those interested to “keep calm and join the wait list.”

Microsoft’s Tim O’ Brien, general manager of developer and platform evangelism issued this comment to The Verge, further confirming that the event is indeed sold out (the official BUILD Windows Twitter account also noted it):

Build 2012 sold out in less than an hour. Build 2012 will be unlike anything we’ve held on our corporate campus in a long time. For those unable to attend, there will be a world class online experience and local developer events throughout the world.

I almost want to compare this to WWDC 2012 — which sold out in just under 2 hours — but it would be unfair to make such a comparision; we don’t know about the volume of people who will be attending BUILD 2012 as of yet. It’s also worth noting that Microsoft will be hosting the conference in Redmond, their home court. This probably means that they have space for less attendees than they would at a proper venue.

Good news for them though; Microsoft definitely needs to get all the developer support it possibly can for Windows 8.

Image Source: quickmeme

Reminder: BUILD 2012 Registration Opens Today

Just a quick reminder: If you’re a developer or enthusiast who plans to attend BUILD 2012, registration opens up today at 8AM PDT (or 11AM EDT.) We expect the event to fill up fast, so if you want to guarantee your attendance we recommend that you register as soon as possible.

While we’re still unsure about what the exact topics of discussion will be at the conference — a session list is yet to be published — it’s safe to say that they will be talking about new technologies such as Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Visual Studio 2012, and Windows Server 2012. What I find funny is that the event takes place just four days after Windows 8 becomes generally available. Microsoft couldn’t wait just four days to launch Windows 8 to the world at BUILD? Despite this, I’m sure that there will still be plenty of celebrating.

Registration will be opening up in roughly 30 minutes from the time of writing, so just head over to the BUILD website and vigorously refresh until you’re able to sign up.

UPDATE: It’s open! Gogogo!

Acer CEO: Microsoft Should Have Thought Twice About The Surface

When Microsoft announced its tablet, the Surface, everyone — including Microsoft itself, obviously — was aware that it would rustle the Jimmies of OEMs, however, they’ve mostly remained tight-lipped about the matter, at least publicly.

Not Acer, though. CEO JT Wang has come out and told the Financial Times that he urged Microsoft to “think twice” about going ahead and making their own hardware. Yes, they’re complaining about this despite the fact that Microsoft’s cooperation and compromise towards partners knows no bounds. He’s the first CEO of a major partner to publicly criticize the company about the Surface. Here’s what he said:

“We have said [to Microsoft] think it over. Think twice. It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at so please think twice.

They’ve been exceptionally bitchy about Microsoft’s decision to make their own hardware. This is the second time that someone from Acer has publicly expressed negativity towards the device; back in June, Oliver Ahrens, Acer’s senior VP and president for Europe, Middle East and Africa said that Microsoft could not be a hardware player with just two products, among other things.

In terms of shipments, Acer is the world’s fourth largest manufacturer. However, they are notorious for their exceptionally low-quality, subpar hardware. I’m fairly certain that insecurity and envy are at the root of these comments.

Windows 8 Packaging Revealed, Looks Awesome

Windows 8 — which was released to manufacturing just last week — will be hitting the shelves on October 26, but it looks like we won’t have to wait until then to get a look at what the actual, physical packaging for the OS will look like. The Verge got their hands on PR shots of the packaging for Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, which are the only two SKUs that will be available in stores (yay!).

Both boxes show off the new Windows 8 logo that the company debuted a few months ago, along with a touch of some pretty nice artwork that appears  to draw inspiration from Adobe’s packaging. The Windows 8 box sports a white background and blue text, while the Windows 8 Pro packaging has a dark grey (or lighter black) background and white text. As you can see, it’s very clean and simple and shows that Microsoft has been paying more and more attention to design and its importance as of late.

Now, I think that many upcoming Windows 8 users won’t even be getting their hands on the actual boxed copy. Most consumers will be upgrading to Windows 8 by more than likely purchasing a new PC that comes with it preinstalled rather than buying the boxed copy and upgrading their existing machine, and most enthusiasts will upgrade by purchasing the OS digitally and downloading it. Nevertheless, the packaging is still pretty awesome.

Just a brief reminder: No matter how you’ll purchase it, Windows 8 will be generally available on October 26.

Windows 8 Has A Much-Needed OOBE Tutorial

There are plenty of significant changes in Windows 8, and with change comes a learning curve. As a technology enthusiast who gets excited rather than afraid when presented with change, I even had to take some time to get used to using Windows 8 and its new gestures productively, and this had me a little concerened about how average users would take to the OS.

Obviously, most people don’t know about the Charms bar, or full-screen Metro apps, or the new Start Preview screen (and the thumbnail used to access it, which lies in the area once occupied by the infamous start button.) That being said, I had my fingers crossed that they had some sort of out-of-box tutorial up their sleeves that will acquaint users with these new paradigms and gestures that have been introduced to the operating system, and thankfully, that appears to be the case.

The Verge spotted a post by Darren Baker, who got the RTM bits a little early and wrote about his experience installing it on his tablet. Upon the completion of the installation, he was presented with a tutorial that demonstrated hot corners with both touch — as he had a touch-enabled device, of course — and the mouse.

Apple’s own operating systems as of late have been getting increasingly gesture-heavy, and they rightly have a basic tutorial upon configuring your system that introduces you to these gestures.

It’s quite a relief that they implented this. Users will still be resistant to the change, of course, and people will still have to get used to the new ways of doing things in order to be as productive as possible, but this basic introduction should help prevent people from being completely flustered after booting up Windows 8 for the first time.

Tidbit: Windows Server 2012 Released To Manufacturing, General Availability Set For September 4

On top of Windows 8 and Windows RT — which The Next Web learned about through sources close to the company — RTMing on Wednesday, Microsoft has also finalized Windows Server 2012, and will be shipping the final bits out to partners/OEMs this week.

It will also be made available to Volume Licensing customers sometime within the next couple of weeks as well.

Microsoft also announced that Windows Server 2012 general availability is set for September 4th, during which they will also be hosting a special online launch event where executives, engineers, customers and partners will “share more about how Windows Server 2012 can help organizations of all sizes realize the benefits of what we call the Cloud OS.”

Microsoft Releases Windows RT To Manufacturing

We know that Windows 8 has been released to manufacturing, but what about its ARM tablet counterpart? The Next Web has learned through its sources that Windows RT has also been released to manufacturing on Wednesday, so companies who are working on ARM-based Windows tablets have the final bits of the operating system.

Now of course, don’t expect to be able to walk into a store and pick up a boxed copy of Windows RT; this flavor of the OS will be available only to partners/manufacturers.

This is good news; apparently, there were some murmurs of a possible Windows RT RTM delay, which would be disastrous as Microsoft would miss the holiday season sales cycle. However, everything has gone according to plan, and we can expect devices — PCs and tablets alike — to begin going on sale come October 26th, which is when Windows 8 will be generally available.

Yes, this means that the much-anticipated Surface should be coming out around this time as well.

The RTM Windows Store is Now Accepting Paid Apps, Company Accounts

On the heels of the announcement that Windows 8 has officially RTM’d, Microsoft has announced that the Windows Store is now fully open for business. From today onwards, any qualifying business in a supported market will be able to submit Metro apps for Windows 8 to the store.

Microsoft has also announced that today, 54 new markets have been added to the list of distinct catalog offerings, providing developers more opportunities that are specific to their respective markets. 24 new app certification languages have been added, bringing the total up to 38 and more than doubling the amount that was supported with the Release Preview build, which, released 8 weeks ago, was the last public pre-release of Windows 8 before we reached RTM.

The developer dashboard is also now available in an additional 11 languages, meaning that you will be able to select from an even larger plethora of languages for the backend area where you can submit apps, view analytics, and check the certification process.

Transaction support is also now enabled, and the Application Developer Agreement (ADA) has been updated to reflect this. The base Store fee is 30% of revenue for any transactions occurring through the platform, with that fee being reduced to 20% for the lifetime of the app if sales hit $25,000 USD. Microsoft also notes that they’re working hard to continually improve their certification policy, and that they are committed to “provide a level of transparency, consistency, and specificity that helps developers make more informed choices and take best advantage of the Windows platform…”

In conclusion, it’s worth noting that, in order to upload apps to the Store, you will need to have the RTM build of Windows 8 installed. Of course, you won’t have to wait until general availability; the RTM build will be released on MSDN and in trial form on Technet come August 15. Microsoft recommends that, until then, you keep working on your app on the Release Preview and register your company account now, as it takes a bit of time to get a company account verified and registering now ensures that you can “hit the ground running” once the RTM build is released.

Microsoft: Windows 8 Has Been Released To Manufacturing (RTM)

As expected, Microsoft has just announced that Windows 8 has been released to manufacturing (RTM). As we speak, the final build of the OS is being released to OEMs and manufacturing partners, and will come pre-installed on a slew of PCs (and tablets) which will be released over the next few months.

In the announcement post, Steven Sinofsky notes that they’ve seen an insane level of participation in testing the pre-release version of Windows 8. Over 16 million PCs have participated, including the roughly 7 million PCs that participated in the Release Preview which the company made available for download 8 weeks ago. So, what’s next? We know that general availability will be on October 26th, but when will the build be available through official channels for us early adopters?

Here’s a timeline of when the bits will be released to various marketplaces:

  • August 15th: Developers will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via your MSDN subscriptions.
  • August 15th: IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organizations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through your TechNet subscriptions.
  • August 16th: Customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing you to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within your organization.
  • August 16th: Microsoft Partner Network members will have access to Windows 8.
  • August 20th: Microsoft Action Pack Providers (MAPS) receive access to Windows 8.
  • September 1st: Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers.

And yes, for those of you who are keeping track, recent rumors have been spot-on; the RTM build is 9200. So, there you have it. The Windows 8 RTM build is done.