Windows Dev Center for Windows 8 Launched; Download Preview Release Now

Earlier today at the keynote of   BUILD conference, Steven Sinofsky, President, Windows & Windows Live Division at Microsoft announced that developers will be able to download the Windows Developer Preview via the new Windows Dev Center. Microsoft showcased a detailed preview of the next major release of Windows, code-named Windows 8.’ The Windows Developer Preview is a pre-beta version of Windows 8 for developers. Windows Dev Center

The new Windows Dev Center – has just gone live and promises to make guides, tools, samples, forums, docs and other resources to build on Windows available soon. You can download the Windows Developer Preview right away.

Download Windows 8 Developer Preview

Windows Developer Preview with developer tools English, 64-bit (x64) – DOWNLOAD (4.8 GB)

All of the following come on a disk image file (.iso).

  • 64-bit Windows Developer Preview
  • Windows SDK for Metro style apps
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows Developer Preview
  • Microsoft Expression Blend 5 Developer Preview
  • 28 Metro style apps including the BUILD Conference app

Windows Developer Preview English, 64-bit (x64) – DOWNLOAD (3.6 GB)
Includes a disk image file (.iso) to install the Windows Developer Preview and Metro style apps on a 64-bit PC.

Windows Developer Preview English, 32-bit (x86) – DOWNLOAD (2.8 GB)
Includes a disk image file (.iso) to install the Windows Developer Preview and Metro style apps on a 32-bit PC.

System Requirements

Windows Developer Preview works great on the same hardware that powers Windows Vista and Windows 7:

  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
  • Taking advantage of touch input requires a screen that supports multi-touch

Note that you can’t uninstall the Windows Developer Preview. Also, the preview is available as-is, and is unsupported by Microsoft. The Windows Developer Preview is delivered as an .iso image that must be converted into installation media stored on a DVD or a USB flash drive.

Sinofsky mentioned that this developer preview will be followed by one beta version, and a release candidate before the final release. With Windows 7, a similar process took about a year to go from developer preview to final release. Microsoft hasn’t specified if and when a preview version of ARM-based version of Windows 8 will be made available.

Prior to this, all the developer information, downloads, and documentation was hosted at Microsoft’s developer portal MSDN. This included development for Windows client, and other Microsoft’s web and server technologies. With the launch of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft created App Hub, a developer portal for Windows Phone 7 app and games developers and Xbox LIVE game developers. Unless some integration or merger happens in the future around the release of Windows 8, this could create factions between developers on same technologies but on different portals.

Bing for Mobile Browse ‘Likes’ Facebook

Bing has introduced a new set of features that enhances Bing for Mobile Browse  experience for the mobile browsers at with the help of Facebook integration and some new additions. Earlier this year, Bing rolled out Liked Results’ to the desktop site which allowed you to instantly see which stories, content, and sites your Facebook friends have liked’. bing-for-mobile


A thumbs up from your friends definitely makes a particular news story, article, or blog post more relevant to you. The latest update has brought the same feature to the mobile browser. Bing shows faces of up to three of your friends that like a search result, offering a visual and virtual seal of approval from your trusted social network. To enable this feature, you need to authenticate and connect your Facebook account to Bing on the Settings page.

The latest update also brings together millions of videos from across the web: from Hulu, MSN, YouTube, and a slew of other sources. For sports fans, there are special tabs for MLB, NBA, and NHL. To make movie watching decisions easier, the update allows you to quickly review user and critic ratings while you browse the list of currently playing movies, watch trailers, and find show times. You can even ask your Facebook friends what they thought of a movie, or if they want to join you, all from within Bing.

Windows 8 Delivers Fastest Boot Time

Lookout! What was that? Do my eyes deceive me, or was that a wicked fast boot time from a windows PC? Believe it or not, that is exactly what it was. The MSDN Blog began a series last night on “fundamentals”. The first fundamental they are covering is that of boot time. Steven Sinofsky, President of Windows and Windows Live Division of Microsoft, stated in the blog post’s preamble, “When it comes to talking about “fundamentals” we want to start with boot time no feature gets talked about and measured more. We designed Windows 8 so that you shouldn’t have to boot all that often (and we are always going to work on reducing the number of required restarts due to patching running code). But when you do boot we want it to be as fast as possible.”  

We’ve heard a lot about boot time in the past when it came to Windows, however, Windows 8 may prove to be the real deal this time. The video embedded below, was posted as part of the MSDN blog post. It is an impressive display to say the least. Take a second to watch it. As a matter of fact, why don’t you take the battery out of your laptop, then put it back in, press the power button, and then click to watch the video below. Chances are, your laptop will still be booting up by the time this video demonstration is finished. Yes, it is that impressive.

Without getting too technical, the Windows 8 boot path is sort of a hybrid between the traditional cold boot and hibernation. If you are a real tech junkie then you will appreciate the detail included in their blog. However, if you would like the more condensed version here it is. In Windows 7 the shutdown process included closing user sessions and the kernel session. The kernel session is responsible for services and devices. In windows 8 the user sessions are still closed, but the kernel session is essentially put in a hibernate state. They claim this process improves boot time 30-70% in their tests.

Microsoft has a lot of pressure to get this build right. Now more than ever, Microsoft finds itself in a critical situation of either defining the next generation of technology, or being behind the curve. The IPad and Android tablets are quickly redefining the way people access information. Supposedly Windows 8 will be tablet friendly. It will be interesting to see how Windows 8 does in the tablet market, and what impact it will have for desktops. I look forward to see what other revelations come from the MSDN blog in the coming days. What “fundamentals” will they focus on next? Rest assured our team here at Techie Buzz will be keeping a close watch in the coming days.

Microsoft Apps – Word, Excel And PowerPoint – Are Coming To Symbian!

Symbian users, you will finally get some benefits of the Nokia-Microsoft partnership. Up until now, the Nokia-MS deal was all about two sinking ships (Nokia and WP7)  joining hands to form one big ship, which hopefully will not sink.

Nokia and Microsoft have now joined hands to bring Microsoft Apps to Symbian Belle users. The Microsoft Apps package will consist of apps which will help in boosting the productivity of the user. The list of apps include Microsoft Lync 2010, PowerPoint Broadcast, OneNote and MS Document Connection. Symbian Belle users will get all the above stated apps for free sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.

MS Lync will allow users to have audio/video meetings on the go, while PowerPoint Broadcast will allow them to quickly broadcast Powerpoint presentations from their PC to mobile. The OneNote app is a rich note taking app from the Redmond based company, which syncs with SkyDrive.

Microsoft will also release another update in early-2012 which will add OneNote sync, along with bringing native versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint  to Symbian. This is the first time that the MS Word and other apps will be released for a mobile OS other than Windows Mobile or WP7.


Microsoft Continues to Milk the Android Cash Cow

Thanks to its large stash of patents, Microsoft has been one of the largest beneficiaries of the patent wars currently underway in the smartphone industry.

In an earlier post (Android: Microsoft’s New Cash Cow), I already explained how Microsoft had turned Android into its new cash cow. It was actually on track to generate more than a billion dollars by licensing patents to Android smartphone manufacturers in 2012, and was making way more money from Android than it did from Windows Phone 7.

It has already been getting patent licensing payments from HTC, Onkyo, Wistron, and was in talks with Samsung for a licensing agreement which would net it close to $15 for every Android smartphone manufactured by Samsung.

According to a report by BGR, Microsoft has confirmed that it has signed licensing agreements with two other major Android manufacturers – ViewSonic and Acer. Both the companies make Android smartphones and tablets. Apparently the deal covers not only Android devices, but also devices running Chrome OS.

We are pleased that ViewSonic is taking advantage of our industrywide licensing program established to help companies address Android’s IP issues. This agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercially reasonable arrangements that address intellectual property.said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft.

While these specific deals are unlikely to net Microsoft a lot of money, they do help Microsoft send across a clear message – if so many heavyweights decided to license its patents instead of fighting patent lawsuits, other Android manufacturers should rather directly pay a licensing fee to Microsoft instead of fighting it in the courts, where Microsoft is likely to win.

It’s a win-win situation for Microsoft.

Gears of War 3 to Launch in India on September 20; Pre-order Begins

Gears of War 3 is  a spectacular conclusion to one of the most memorable and celebrated sagas in video games. The game is now available for pre-order before the official launch in India  on September 20. You can place your order at the Microsoft India Online Store as well as select retail outlets across the country. There’s more good news: with all pre-orders, you can redeem an additional multiplayer character.

Gears of War 3

Developed by Epic Games exclusively for Xbox 360, Gears of War 3 plunges you into a harrowing tale of hope, survival, and brotherhood. The trilogy comes to an end with this new addition starring Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad. Gears of War 3 features an enthralling cinematic story with an unparalleled gameplay. It pushes the envelope for stunning visuals on Xbox 360. The game will be available in two editions: standard and legendary edition at an estimated retail price of INR 2499 and INR 3499 respectively.

To mark the launch of the game, Microsoft has also announced an online gaming challenge. You need to register your team at Only two teams will survive the online challenge; and will be a part of an immersive GoW3 gaming challenge in Delhi. The two squads will be flown to Delhi to reveal Gears of War 3 at the launch party. All members of the winning team will get a Kinect sensor each, Gears of War 3 CDs, and exclusive Gears of War merchandize. Runners up will get a GoW 3 CD each with exclusive Gears of War merchandise. The three runner-up teams will win exclusive Gears of War merchandize. Even if you are cheering for one of the teams, you stand a chance to win some Gears of War T-shirts and limited edition posters.

Ribbonized Explorer in Windows 8 is Good News [Editorial]

Yesterday, Alex Simons from the program management team of Microsoft Windows shed some light on the planned enhancements for Explorer in Windows 8. I enthusiastically welcomed the new Ribbonized Explorer that Microsoft showed off. Minutes later, I was left scratching my head as negative responses begun pouring in from across the web.


BetaNews compared the new Explorer with an overstuffed refrigerator” and dubbed it as “a maze only navigable by your home’s primary cook, while Laurie Voss concluded that Microsoft UI has officially entered the realm of self-parody. The overwhelming consensus is that the Ribbon for Explorer is a bad idea as its overly complicated, and plain unnecessary. Of course, my personal opinion is drastically different. I will try to tackle some of the most common complaints and offer my perspective in this op-ed.


It’s Useless: This argument couldn’t be any further from the truth. The tabbed interface makes it possible to expose a multitude of features in the GUI, without overburdening a novice user. Here are some of the neat little things that will be possible with the new Explorer:

  • Compressing multiple files into a single zip file and emailing it with a couple of clicks.
  • Single click sharing of files with networked users.
  • Contextual searching that is both simple and powerful.
  • Enhanced and simplified keyboard navigation.

The Ribbon interface also makes several nifty existing features more accessible and discoverable. Here’s a very brief list of stuff that’s easier to do with Windows 8.

  • View hidden files and folders with a single click.
  • Launch command prompt in admin mode directly from the Explorer.
  • Rollback documents to a previous version with a couple of clicks.

Some of the buttons such as Copy, Paste, and Delete are redundant as most users perform these operations through context-menu or keyboard shortcuts. However, not including them also would have been quite controversial as they do represent the most commonly performed tasks by a user. Hence, even though almost everyone other than novices wouldn’t find these buttons of much use, it makes sense to feature them prominently. Microsoft also probably went overboard with the various selection options. However, on the whole, the Ribbon UI adds plenty of value to the Explorer.

The Holy Grail of Speech Recognition

A Microsoft Research team has been working on a research breakthrough that improves the potential of real-time, speaker-independent, automatic speech recognition. Dong Yu, researcher at Microsoft Research Redmond, and Frank Seide, senior researcher and research manager with Microsoft Research Asia, have been spearheading this work.

Speech recognition has been an active research area for more than five decades. In the current commercially available speech-recognition technology, voice-to-text typically achieves accuracy by having the user train the software during setup and by adapting more closely to the user’s speech patterns over time. However, automated voice services that interact with multiple speakers do not allow for individual speaker training because they must be usable instantly by any user. Therefore, they either handle only a small vocabulary or strongly restrict the words or patterns that users can say. This research suggests using artificial neural networks for large-vocabulary speech recognition in order to achieve the ubiquitous speaker-independent speech recognition delivered out-of-the-box.

Artificial neural networks (ANNs) are mathematical models of the low-level circuits in the human brain. The notion of using ANNs to improve speech-recognition performance has been around since the 1980s, and a model known as the ANN-Hidden Markov Model (ANN-HMM) showed promise for large-vocabulary speech recognition. However, performance issues hindered commercial adoption.

A speech recognizer is essentially a model of fragments of sounds of speech. State-of-the-art speech recognizers use short fragments, numbering in the thousands, called senones. Dong Yu proposed modelling the thousands of senones directly with Deep neural networks (DNNs). This allows for a significant leap in accuracy while achieving state-of-the-art performance. The architectural model is made feasible for neural networks by harnessing the computational power of modern graphic cards.

Using a novel way by employing artificial neural networks for speaker-independent speech recognition, Microsoft Research has brought fluent speech-to-speech applications much closer to reality. The research paper – Context-Dependent Pre-trained Deep Neural Networks for Large Vocabulary Speech Recognition – describes the first hybrid context-dependent DNN-HMM model applied successfully to large-vocabulary speech-recognition problems.

Find It Faster Using Microsoft Office 2010 Quick Access Toolbar

Who doesn’t like a good shortcut every now and then? I know I certainly do. If you are new to Microsoft Office 2010, then you may be struggling with the Ribbon Toolbar. It took some getting used to for me as well, however, I have become a fan. Let me give you a quick tip about a new feature in Office 2010 that you might appreciate. If you open up an Office 2010 application, you will notice there is a small toolbar located in the top left corner by default. You can see this toolbar highlighted in the picture below. This toolbar is called the “Quick Access Toolbar”.

Quick Access Toolbar

If you have trouble navigating the ribbon, you might appreciate this little feature. This “quick” toolbar allows you to add custom commands that you would find on the various tabs of the ribbon toolbar. There are a few rules you need to be aware of in regards to the “Quick Access Toolbar”. According to the Microsoft Office website:

  • You cannot increase the size of the buttons representing the commands by an option in Microsoft Office. The only way to increase the size of the buttons is to lower the screen resolution you use.
  • You cannot display the Quick Access Toolbar on multiple lines.
  • Only commands can be added to the Quick Access Toolbar. The contents of most lists, such as indent and spacing values and individual styles, which also appear on the ribbon, cannot be added to the Quick Access Toolbar. However, you can  customize the ribbon  to personalize the ribbon the way that you want it. For example, you can create custom tabs and custom groups to contain your frequently used commands.
I would like to take a moment to show you how you can add commands to the “Quick Access Toolbar”. If you look to the right of the toolbar, you will notice a black downward pointing arrow. If you click the arrow you will get a menu like the one pictured below.
Add Commands
Notice that there are several popular command choices already listed on the menu. For instance, the “Quick Print” option is one that I almost always select. If you don’t see the command that you wish to have quick access to, click the “More Commands” option. You will notice in the picture above that it is circled in red.
Once you click the “More Commands” option, you will get a dialog box like the one pictured below. There are two columns. The left side lists available commands from which you can choose. The right side shows you commands that are already added to the “Quick Access Toolbar”. In the example below, I chose commands that were listed on the “Insert Tab”. I selected the “Screen Clipping” command and clicked the “Add>>” button to move that command to my “Quick Access Toolbar”. I then clicked “OK” at the bottom of the dialog box to complete the action.
Add Command Dialog Box
You will see in the picture below that the “Screen Clipping” command has been added to my “Quick Access Toolbar”. Now, I only need to click the button to get this functionality, instead of having to navigate to the “Insert Tab” and try to find it every time that I want to use it.
Command Button Added
I hope you find this to be a useful tip. You will find this toolbar in most of the Microsoft Office 2010 applications. Hopefully it will help speed up your day and help you be more productive.
I would appreciate your feedback and maybe tips on how you might use this toolbar feature in Office 2010.

Use Microsoft Office Picture Manager for Quick Photo Edits

There are a lot of great photo editors on the market. Some are very robust and expensive, while others are free. To be honest, there are about as many photo editors out there as there are camera models. Today I would like to tell you about one that is probably sitting right under your nose and you’ve never used it. It is called “Microsoft Office Picture Manager” and it comes bundled with Microsoft Office.

I would like to show you an example of the photo editing power of Picture Manager. Let’s begin by opening a picture on our computer. Below you will see a lighthouse picture I took in Portland, Maine.


Let’s say, for example, that I wanted to turn this photo black and white. This is very simple to do using Picture Manager. First, let’s open the picture in Picture Manager. Below, you will see where I right clicked the photo, then chose the “Open With” option, and then clicked “Microsoft Office Picture Manager”.

Open With Menu

Now we’ll need to click the button at the top of the window that says “Edit Pictures…” See the picture below to see what the button looks like.

Edit Button

Now, you will get a toolbar on the right side of the screen. You will notice a very large “Auto Correct” button. If you have a photo that may be a little too dark and grainy, sometimes clicking this button will help correct common color and lighting errors. In the picture below, you will notice an area highlighted under the heading “Edit using these tools”. Here are some commonly used photo editing tools. The one I would like to deal with in this tutorial is under the heading “Color”.

Toolbar Options

When you click the heading that says “Color”, you will get the menu options pictured below.

Color Menu

Using this menu, you can do some really cool things to your photo. You can also royally screw up the color balance so make sure you keep the “Undo” button handy. You will notice that there are three sliders that will allow you to use your mouse to click and drag to change the value in each box. Remember the goal of this particular tutorial is to make this photo black and white. To accomplish this we’ll need to desaturate the photo. Saturation basically is a term for how much color is in the photo. If we drag the “Saturation” slider all the way to the left, we are essentially saying we want to take all of the color out of the photo.  Now, our picture is black and white.  See the picture below.

Lighthouse Black and White

There are many other useful tools in Microsoft Office Picture Manager. You can easily fix red eye, flip and rotate pictures, and more. It may not be the most robust tool out there, but for the novice user, it is easy to use. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions.