Tag Archives: Windows 8

Nokia Chairman: Tablets And Hybirds Are Being Looked Into

Whenever asked whether or not there are plans to develop a Windows RT tablet, Nokia has generally beat around the bush and strayed from issuing any definitive answers. However, Jorma Ollila, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nokia — who will be departing the company after a 27-year run this week — has told the Financial Times on Wednesday that the company does plan to launch both tablet and “hybrid” (smartphone + tablet) devices in the future.

He said this in particular referring to tablets:

“Tablets are an important one, so that is being looked into, and there will be different hybrids, different form factors [handset designs] in the future.”

Nothing was said about specific device plans, or whether or not these devices will run Microsoft software at all. But, I think that it’s pretty much a given at this point that if Nokia indeed develops a tablet, it will be an ARM-based Windows RT device. It will be quite the challenge if they do go this route to get their foot in the door of an iPad and Android-dominated market. This will be yet another market where the company is an underdog that will have to go above and beyond to succeed.

Another interesting thing here though is Ollila’s mention of “hybrids” and other form factors. Is Nokia considering entering the market defined by the Galaxy Note, which is a very bizarre market segment to say the least? Perhaps Nokia may feel that, instead of trying to overtake a market that has largely been created and dominated by the iPad, they want to be the pioneers who “do things right” in the hybrid space. Still, I am a bit biased as I’m not a fan of the Note, or that breed of device.

I am, however, extremely excited at the prospect of a Windows 8 tablet from the company.

With 500 Million Active Users, Windows Live Being Morphed For Windows 8

As of today, Windows Live is a suite of software that complement Windows Vista and Windows 7. The suite includes a mailing client, a messenger, a cloud file sync tool, a photo gallery tool and a video editing too. All the products have so far been known as Windows Live <product name>; with Windows 8 this will change. In an update on the Windows Team Blog, Chris Jones from Microsoft talks at length about the future of the Windows Live brand and products.

Long story short, the Windows Live brand will be on its way out once Windows 8 comes out. To replace the existing Windows Live utilities on the desktop, Windows 8 have Metro based replacements. Here’s a chart from the team blog explaining the transition:

(I’m not sure why have a Photos app and a Photo Gallery app in Windows 8.)

I believe, the suite will continue to exist for some time since there are a handful of Windows 7 users out there, somewhere. The other interesting part of Chris Jones’s blog post was numbers. According to Jones:

  • There are 500 Million active Windows Live users
  • Active user means they either send an email using Hotmail, or an IM via Windows Live Messenger, or upload a file to SkyDrive, at least once in a month
  • Hotmail has 350 Million active users, with 105 Petabytes of storage
  • Messenger has 300 Million active users
  • SkyDrive has 130 Million users (17 Million upload files every month. Part of these will definitely be Windows Phone users who use the service to share photos.)

Microsoft and Barnes & Noble: From ‘Complicated’ to ‘In a Relationship’

Microsoft and Barnes & Noble Inc. have joined hands to announce a strategic partnership – A B&N subsidiary, provisionally referred to as Newco. After the patent dispute between the two companies last year, this surprising new venture aims to focus on e-reading and the education market while burying the patent litigation apparently.

B&N will own 82.4 percent of the new subsidiary and Microsoft will make a $300 million investment to hold a 17.6 percent stake in the company. Newco, will bring together the digital and College businesses of Barnes & Noble. B&N’s NOOK Study software is a leading platform for distribution and management of digital education materials to students and educators, and Newco would aim to extend this reach. The alliance would also bring about a NOOK application for Windows 8 bringing Barnes & Noble’s digital bookstore to hundreds of millions of Windows customers worldwide.

As the two companies move forward as allies, there are few things which aren’t answered in the press release and the commentary around it:

  • While the two companies closed on the alliance, how was the patent dispute tabled and settled? Would Barnes & Noble and/or Newco pay royalties to Microsoft on every Nook sold?
  • While Windows 8 tablets are expected to have a NOOK application now, and this might extend to the next version of Windows Phone, would there be a Nook tablet or e-reader running, maybe, Windows RT to participate in the market against Kindle and Kindle Fire?
  • While Microsoft has less than a fifth stake in the venture, would the reach of Windows platform make Nook Microsoft’s card in competition with Amazon and Apple in the e-reading market?

Windows 8 Release Preview Set For Early June

At Japan’s Windows 8 Dev Days, Windows boss Steven Sinofsky dropped the news that the next preview release of Windows 8 — dubbed the Release Preview — will touch down a little more than a month from now in the first month of June.

We currently know little about what the RP will bring to the table, but having spent a few additional months in the oven compared to the Consumer Preview, which was released in February, here’s hoping that various stability and UI bugs have been ironed out in this release. One thing we do know however is that Microsoft will be adding 33 more countries to the Windows Store, hopefully diminishing the amount of people exiled to the “Rest of World” part of the Windows Store.

This news suggests that Windows 8 development is well on-track for an RTM by October, as rumors have suggested. Which is a great thing, as Windows RT tablets will then be able to get their foot right in the door of the holiday market.

Just last week, Microsoft revealed that it had simplified the SKUs of Windows 8 to just two which regular consumers can purchase, and three if you count the WOA SKU, Windows RT. The other two SKUs are for developing markets and the enterprise space.

Windows Store Coming To New Markets

When Microsoft dropped the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, it included of course a preview version of the new Windows Store as well. However, users residing anywhere but France, Germany, India, Japan, and the United States were greeted with the somewhat condescending “Rest of World” catalog. Microsoft has announced that they will be expanding the global coverage of the Windows Store come the next significant preview release of the store (in the next pre-release version of Windows).

33 additional app submission locales for developers will be added — Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and United Kingdom — bumping the total number of those up to 38. The number of market-specific app catalogues will also be raised from 5 to 26.

Microsoft proudly notes that this expansion is all being done within the pre-release timeframe of Windows. It’s about time that the company focus on launching a service (mostly) worldwide come the final launch of a product. It is 2012, after all.

Microsoft Simplifies Windows 8 Versions To Two Primary SKUs

Microsoft has now officially confirmed the versions of Windows 8 that will be available to consumers, OEMs and enterprise customers. In a huge attempt to simplify things, Microsoft will now be offering just two flavors of Windows 8 for end users in the US. As opposed to the several versions with Windows Vista and Windows 7, the versions available for Windows 8.

For the end customer in the US and generally across the world there are two versions of Windows 8:

  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Pro

There is no Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Ultimate as of now. These editions will be available for off-the-shelf buying and for OEMs to bundle. The other version available to OEMs will be Windows RT; this is the Windows on ARM specifically for tablets. Windows RT will NOT be sold at shops and end-users CANNOT upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 RT.

The difference between Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro is essentially that of business features such as BitLocker, VHD Boot, Hyper-V, Group Policy. Windows RT won’t have the business features either, in addition to no Windows Media Player and no support for legacy x86/x64 apps. Microsoft has a very simple and useful chart explaining the differences.

The same blog post does however mention that there will be another SKU for markets like China and some emerging economies. This version will be a local language version unlike Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro that will let users switch languages.

Coming to enterprise, Microsoft will offer Windows 8 Enterprise that will have all features of Windows 8 Pro and some IT administration specific additions. In a follow-up blog post on the Windows Team Blog, Erwin Visser detailed what Windows 8 Enterprise will offer. The SKU will be available only for Microsoft’s Software Assurance customers. The IT administration specific features that Software Assurance customers get with Windows 8 Enterprise are:

  •  Windows To-Go
  • Companion Device
  • Windows RT Virtual Desktop Access
  • MDOP (Desktop Optimization Pack)
  • Windows InTune

Companion Device and Windows RT VDA are very interesting. The blog post explains the features as:

Windows RT Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) Rights: When used as a companion of a Windows Software Assurance licensed PC, Windows RT will automatically receive extended VDA rights. These rights will provide access to a full VDI image running in the datacenter which will make Windows RT a great complementary tablet option for business customers.

Companion Device License: For customers who want to provide full flexibility for how employees access their corporate desktop across devices, we are introducing a new Companion Device License for Windows SA customers. For users of Windows Software Assurance licensed PCs this optional add-on will provide rights to access a corporate desktop either through VDI or Windows To Go on up to four personally owned devices.

So, while technically Microsoft will have 5 SKUs of Windows 8:

  1. Windows 8
  2. Windows 8 Pro
  3. Windows RT
  4. Local language version of Windows 8 for emerging markets and China
  5. Windows 8 Enterprise

…there are just 2 for most users.

Gartner Predicts Windows Will Command 4% Of The Tablet Market In 2012

With Windows 8 set to hit the shelves sometime this October, it should come as no surprise that tech analysts are already making predictions about how well the highly tablet-optimized OS will sell. Gartner Group made a bleak prediction, stating that they predict that Microsoft will only command four percent of the tablet market in 2012.

“Despite PC vendors and phone manufacturers wanting a piece of the pie and launching themselves into the media tablet market, so far, we have seen very limited success outside of Apple with its iPad,” Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said.

The slow growth estimated by Gartner Group in 2012 doesn’t just have to do with the fact that Windows 8 is touching down towards the end of the year, however. They note that by 2016, Microsoft will only have 11.8% of the consumer tablet market as they feel that Windows 8 lacks consumer appeal. They do, however, feel that Windows 8 will be aided by enterprise interest in the product.

“Many vendors will wait for Windows 8 to be ready and will try to enter the market with a dual-platform approach, hoping that the Microsoft brand could help them in both the business and consumer markets,” Milanesi said.

Gartner released a slightly brighter forecast for Android and iOS tablets, however, expecting that 31.9% of tablet sales in 2012 will comprise of Android, with that number rising to 37% by 2016. The iPad will maintain the lead, with a share of 45% forecasted for 2016.

Microsoft To Expand WinRT Programming Language Support

WinRT — Windows 8’s programming model which allows developers to create new Metro-style apps — already supports a decent breadth of languages. You can develop WinRT apps using JavaScript/HTML5, Visual C#, XAML, Visual Basic, and C++. However, according to a report from ZDNet, Microsoft is expressing interest in adding more languages into the WinRT support mix.

WinRT team Development Manager Martyn Lovell said while speaking at Lang.Next (in reference to WinRT) that Microsoft “wants developers to create languages for the new developer platform.” This was in response to a rhetorical question which asked whether or not WinRT would be “at home” in each programming language. So, what other languages should be fully supported by WinRT? I’m thinking that the three languages which would be commonly requested are Ruby, Delphi, and Python.

WinRT is certainly an interesting programming model. Thus far, I’ve only dipped the tip of my big toe in the WinRT waters when I created a Windows 8 HTML5/JavaScript app which pulled images from a rather unsavory subreddit (hint: space) just to mess around with it. I think that even if support for other languages isn’t added anytime soon, the ability to create Windows 8 apps with HTML5 and JavaScript will be sufficient in allowing people who haven’t done much development with Microsoft technologies to “join the dark side” and create some awesome Windows 8 apps.

Mozilla Shows Firefox For Windows 8 Tablets But Don’t Look Now

Mozilla announcing plans to do a Metro version of Firefox for Windows 8 tablets was received with optimism. The browser has a steady community despite Google’s Chrome replacing it in the hearts of most techies. Yesterday, Ed Bott at ZDNet shared Mozilla’s progress on Firefox Metro. As it turns out, what Mozilla showed wasn’t the final design so I’m being told not to judge them. In his status update blog post, Mozilla engineer Brian Bondy elaborates on where Firefox Metro is:

  • Integration with Share Charm to share a page with any application (What are Charms?)
  • Support for Metro Snap
  • Search Charm integration: if Firefox Metro is your default browser and you enter a URL in the Search Charm, the page will be loaded

Bondy says work on the UI and experience has not started. For Mozilla, supporting Metro in Windows 8 is important since:

If a browser is default on Metro, it will also be default on the Desktop.

If a browser does not support Metro, it is seriously at risk of losing the default browser status, and therefore significant market share.

Here’s what was shown:

When I saw the screenshots I was reminded of Windows 3.0. Here’s why:

Metro is a design language and there are only two ways a company can differentiate their browser from Intern Explorer 10:

  1. Features
  2. Design
It will be interesting to see how Mozilla achieves differentiation.

http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/taouu/html/ch02s08.html

Microsoft Publishes iPad To Windows 8 Tablet App Design Comparison For Developers

Microsoft’s Metro design language comes into its own on Windows 8 tablets more than on the Windows Phone. The new desktop OS has been designed with tablets in mind and since the iPad is the best out there, developers will be replicating/porting their apps from the iPad to Windows 8 (or at least that’s what we all hope). Application design is a significant reason behind an app and platform’s success. And when I say design, I don’t mean the color combination or images but the user experience and user interface.

Earlier today, Michael Gillett retweeted a link to a case study published by Microsoft comparing the interface components in the iPad and Windows 8. The side-by-side comparison is quite helpful in providing developers a quick look at how some of the app functionality provided in iPad can be offered in Windows 8 while sticking to the Metro principles.

The case study takes specific use cases to explain how things are done on the iPad and how Microsoft has in some cases improved them in Windows 8. The case study is quite nicely presented filled with images to assist you understand the text. If you’re into app development or into design, it’s quite a fun look at the two platforms.