Tag Archives: Windows 8

Linus Torvalds: Microsoft Is Full Of Shit & Lying About Convergence

Over the weekend, Linus Torvalds’s talk at his alma mater—Aalto University in Finland went viral for his sharp and blunt criticism of nVidia for their Linux support. While I wanted to watch the talk, I kept putting it off until the boredom of the slow weekend got to me and I had nothing else to do. So I decided to listening and realized after 10 minutes into the talk that it was boring. I fast forwarded by 20 minutes and it got entertaining.

Around 40 minutes in, someone mentioned to Linus that both Linux and GitHub were accidental, so what’s the next “accidental” project Linus has in mind. Linus started answering the questioning by talking about mobile and desktop kernel convergence, mentioned Apple’s 2-OS approach, said Microsoft has the same approach and BAM! Linus said Microsoft was lying and they’re full of shit. After a boring day I finally laughed out.

According to Linus, Microsoft is not converging the mobile and desktop OS with Windows 8 which technically might be true as of now but is strategically incorrect. Time and again there have been reports of Microsoft working on unifying the underlying tech in Windows and Windows Phone, and Apollo is expected to be the first step towards that goal. You can watch Linus calling out technology giants (and showing nVidia the finger) below:

Asus Unveils ARM, Intel Windows 8 Tablets

With Windows 8 nearing its final stages of development and Computex right around the corner, it’s no surprise that companies are beginning to out their plans for Windows 8 tablets. Asus is the first company to do so, revealing two such devices: The Tablet 600 — a Windows RT ARM device — and the Tablet 810, which is an Intel-based x86 tablet.

Let’s talk specs: The Tablet 600 packs an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor, a 12-core GPU, 2GB of RAM, and a 32GB eMMC storage solution for local storage. Disappointingly, the 10.1″ display offered by the tablet has a mere resolution of 1366 x 768, though it does have a vivid Super IPS+ display. The Tablet 810 on the other hand offers a next-gen Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, twice the storage (64GB of eMMC storage), and an 11.6″ display with the equally pathetic resolution of 1366 x 768. It has 10-point multitouch support though, along with Wacom digitizer stylus support.

The laptops do have one prominent thing in common, though. Both come with a mobile dock with a QWERTY keyboard, trackpad, additional USB ports, and a secondary battery for extended juice on the go that allows you to “transform” the tablet into a clamshell ultraportable device. The two tablets also come with NFC sensors and Asus SonicMaster technology for quality audio on the go.

Windows 8 Release Preview App Overview: Cocktail Flow

On May 31, Microsoft made available the next milestone in their development of Windows 8 — the Windows 8 Release Preview. I have it installed and running on two laptops and while my colleague Abhishek Baxi has covered some topics about the operating system itself, I look at one of the most beautiful apps in the Windows Store at the moment, Cocktail Flow.

Windows Phone users will recognize the name, since it was one of the first apps available on the platform and it is one which truly utilizes the Metro design philosophies. Since the launch of this app on Windows Phone, the creators of this app, Team Distinction have released versions for iPhone, Android and Android tablets.

In case you are not familiar with the app, it is designed to help you make cocktails. It provides the capability to search by base or mixer drink, by type (cocktail, shooter, etc.) and also by a combination of what you have “in your cabinet”. While the concept of a bartender-style app is not new, the way it has been designed makes the app simply beautiful to look at and a pleasure to use. What follows is a screenshot tour of the various features of their latest version, that for Windows 8.

Once you open the app, you are brought to a beautiful panorama of selections you can make to look for information about cocktails. You can see drinks by kind of drinks, by color, by type of drinks, etc.

 

Cocktail Flow Main Screen

Main screen

 

Cocktail Flow Main Screen More Selections

Main screen with more selections

 

Once you click through one of those selections, you are brought to a list of drinks. You can swipe across to see more drinks.

 

Cocktail Flow Whiskey-based Drinks

Whiskey-based drinks

Cocktail Flow Vodka-based Drinks

Vodka-based drinks

Cocktail Flow Green-colored Drinks

Green-colored drinks

Cocktail Flow Shooters

Shooters

If you want to see what kind of cocktails you can make with what you have, you can use the “cabinet” view which lets you mark the spirits, mixers, and liqueurs you have and it adds drinks which you can make from those selections, in the “My Bar” section.

Cocktail Flow My Bar Spirits

My Bar: Choose your spirits

Cocktail Flow My Bar Mixers

My Bar: Choose your mixers

Cocktail Flow My Bar More Mixers

My Bar: More mixers

Cocktail Flow My Bar Liqueurs

My Bar: Liqueurs

Cocktail Flow My Bar Cocktails

My Bar: Cocktails which you can make

 

See the next page for cocktail details screen, adding as a favorite, pinning to Start Screen, etc.

Get the Most Out of Your Microsoft Hardware on Windows 8

If you’ve been trying the recently released Windows 8 Release Preview (If not, check out my getting ready and installation guide), your Microsoft keyboard and mouse are just as ready as you are.

If you use an Explorer Touch Mouse or Touch Mouse on Windows 7, the mouse will work great with Windows 8 too. And to top that, you’ll get the choice of a whole new set of gestures optimized for Windows 8 navigation. Since Windows 8 utilizes vertical and horizontal scrolling, the four-way scrolling on the Touch Mouse will provide a smooth and effortlessly natural horizontal scrolling experience. The Explorer Touch Mouse gives you a smooth and fluid scrolling of the new Start Screen.

For the two mice, and all other mice and keyboards from Microsoft Hardware, Microsoft has made available a new beta application to make the most out of these devices. The Microsoft Device Center allows you to customize devices from an easy-to-learn Windows 8 interface and create new shortcuts for everyday tasks and tailor your mouse and keyboard to meet your needs and work style. Once installed, you can launch the Device Center from the Windows 8 Start screen. The application allows you to configure basic and application-specific settings for all connected devices in one place. You can also explore features and access the online support and healthy computing knowledge base.

The beta application is currently available only in English in both 32-bit as well as a 64-bit version.

A Complete Guide to Windows 8 Release Preview – Requirements, Installation, Screenshots

Well, yes, Windows 8 Release Preview has been released. As Microsoft reimagines Windows, here is your chance to take it for a spin on a variety of form factors, including the new generation of touch devices. Let’s dive into the details, and get started.

Requirements

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster                 
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB  (64-bit)                
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)                
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver                

Of course, you will need a tablet or a monitor that supports multi-touch for the touch experience on Windows 8. The OS requires a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768 to access the Windows Store and at least 1366 x 768 to snap apps.

Availability

Windows 8 Release Preview is available in 14 languages – Arabic, English, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. The Windows 8 Release Preview Setup program will automatically detect your current language selection. If you don’t have one of these languages selected, you can choose the language you want to download.

Microsoft has surprisingly allowed for upgrades to Windows 8 Release Preview from all Windows versions going back to as far as Windows XP. If you are upgrading from an earlier preview version of Windows 8, while your files will be saved in a Windows.old folder, it would be otherwise a clean installation with nothing else preserved.  In the most seamless upgrade experience of all, while upgrading from Windows 7, all programs, Windows settings, and User accounts and files are retained. From Windows Vista, you lose the installed programs and from Windows XP, you lose everything except the User accounts and files.

HP To Get Back In Tablet Business With Windows 8

Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, wants HP to get back into the ever booming tablet business, reports Bangkok Post. Having burnt their hands with WebOS powered TocuhPad tablets, this time HP will be bringing tablets in the market with Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system.

After acquiring Palm for $1.2 billion, HP launched their first WebOS based TouchPad tablets in the market. However, due to poor response from the market, HP decided to shut down TouchPad tablets and sold the available stock for $99, which sold like hot cakes. HP then shut down their smartphone business and was looking to sell WebOS. However, since it didn’t find any buyer, HP decided to open source the OS.

Now, HP is ready to start production on its tablets based on Windows 8. HP’s Windows 8 based tablets will come with cloud-based integration that will allow users to sync files between multiple devices.

Meg Whitman, after taking charge of HP,  reversed the decision to spin off the PC business. Under her leadership HP gain its foothold again in the market.

During a surprise appearance at the Global Influencer Summit 2012 in Shanghai, Whitman said that, as the world becomes more digital, HP’s PC and printing franchises continue to increase in importance. She said that, “PCs are a part of how we create and access digital information. We’ve found that we can differentiate our products through design and innovation. As the only player with leadership positions in both the consumer and the enterprise markets, we can bridge that gap that is being created by the consumerisation of IT,” reports ARNnet.

Apple still remains the darling of consumers when it comes to tablet market share with Apple’s iPad capturing 68 per cent tablet market share in the first quarter of 2012, according to IDC.

 

Intel CEO Knocks Windows RT’s Legacy Limitations

While the general sentiment amongst most sane people is that the legacy desktop doesn’t belong in Windows RT, there is one man who unsurprisingly holds a different view. Intel CEO Paul Otellini thinks that the limitation of the legacy desktop — where non-sanctioned third-party apps are not allowed to run — is actually a vulnerability of the ARM platform:

“With one button you can get to legacy mode…this is critically important for CIOs who want to preserve all of their investments in software,” he said, referring to “tens of millions” of programs built around Intel’s x86 design.

“We have the advantage of the incumbency, advantage of the legacy support. Not just in terms of applications but devices.”

As you can see, he feels that the support of legacy applications that Intel-based x86 tablets can offer users far outweigh the limitations of ARM. I largely disagree. Obviously, tablet users don’t want the Classic Windows UI or applications; they want something that’s far more suited for touch. However, a part of me does think that Intel has a sales advantage.

Microsoft’s choice to retain the classic legacy desktop in ARM to begin with was a completely idiotic decision, and I’m going to only focus on one reason — reason #5219874, to be exact — as to why that is. Average consumers will be so confused when they find that they can’t download normal software on their ARM tablet. It looks just like their desktop OS, but why doesn’t it work? So, perhaps this problem could be avoided through educated and informative salespeople, right? Well, if they tell consumers that something “doesn’t work”, while it will on another tablet, it may sway some people towards purchasing an x86 tablet, even if it’s more expensive.

They’ll justify the cost just because they want everything to work. And the people who buy an ARM tablet uninformed will be rather pissed at Microsoft when they cannot download MSN games like Belle’s Beauty Boutique to their device.

Will Microsoft Face the Ire of Antitrust Regulators for Windows 8?

As you must have heard by now, Mozilla is furious. The non-profit organization behind Firefox is angry because Microsoft is practically making it impossible to develop third party browsers for Windows 8 for ARM through artificially imposed restrictions. A short while back, even Google backed Mozilla and expressed its concern about Windows 8 restricting “user choice and innovation”. My colleague Paul Paliath has already weighed in on the debate. While he believes Mozilla’s complaint is baseless, I am not quite so sure.

Windows-8-Platform

Before proceeding any further, let’s delve a little deeper into the technicalities involved. With Windows 8, Microsoft is introducing an entirely new class of applications. These applications will run in Metro mode, and will be built using the WinRT API. The Windows applications that we are accustomed with are all built using the Win32 API. Now, Microsoft isn’t exactly killing the Win32 API. Windows 8 for x86 (desktops) will continue to offer a classic mode, which will be capable of running all Win32 applications. However, if an app wants to run in Metro mode it has to use the new WinRT API. The trouble is that in an attempt to make WinRT power efficient, fast, and secure Microsoft ended up making it way too restrictive. Due to this, several classes of modern applications can’t be developed by leveraging WinRT alone. In order to skirt around this significant roadblock, Microsoft created a third category of applications. This category of applications have a frontend developed using WinRT, but they can also leverage the power of the Win32 API. In other words, they look like Metro apps, but offer the power and flexibility of a traditional Windows app. Unfortunately, on ARM devices, the only apps which will be allowed to leverage both WinRT and Win32 APIs are apps from Microsoft. Paul is right in saying that Microsoft isn’t specifically targeting browsers. In one fell swoop Microsoft has put all third party apps at a significant disadvantage. Whether it be office suites, media players, or browsers – all apps will have a hard time matching products from the Redmond giant as they will practically be running on two different operating systems. To make matters worse, Windows 8 for ARM won’t allow third party apps to run as pure classic apps either. Asa Dotzler explained the trouble faced by browser developers quite succinctly.

Microsoft has made it clear that the third category won’t exist on Windows for ARM (unless you’re Microsoft) and that neither will the first category (unless you’re Microsoft.) That means that IE on ARM has access to win32 APIs — even when it’s running in Metro mode, but no other Metro browser has that same access. Without that access, no other browser has a prayer of being competitive with IE.

You might be wondering exactly what kind of restrictions does WinRT impose that makes it impossible to develop a competent browser. Here’s an example – WinRT doesn’t allow translation of code at runtime. This is something absolutely critical for a technique called JIT (Just-in-time compilation). You might have heard of JIT before, as over the past few years, all browsers have been using JIT to deliver astounding improvements in JavaScript rendering speed. Lack of JIT will instantly push a browser back by several years. Keep in mind that this is just one example. Modern browsers are pushing the limits of what is possible within a browser. With the restrictive sandbox offered by WinRT, many of the bleeding edge features offered by modern browsers can’t be implemented in WinRT.

Mozilla has already issued thinly veiled threats of legal action, and considering that Windows 8 is pretty much done, the threat of another anti-trust ruling is the only thing that can realistically make Microsoft change its mind. However, is Microsoft really abusing its monopolistic position to crush competition? The answer is trickier than you might think.

Mozilla Hates Microsoft’s Classic Desktop Limitations on Windows RT

Once again, Microsoft has found itself in the crosshairs of rival web browser companies who are accusing the company of unfair, anti-competitive practices. And somehow, the latest accusation — coming from Mozilla — is even more sensationalist and ridiculous than those of the past. In a blog post from Harvey Anderson of the Mozilla General Council that, in a nutshell is six paragraphs of senseless bitching, Mozilla accuses Microsoft of not allowing third-party browsers to fairly compete with IE as developers cannot build apps in the “privileged” Windows Classic desktop.

While the post did a horrible job at explaining why, Asa Dotzler penned a post with a more technical explanation:

That means that IE on ARM has access to win32 APIs — even when it’s running in Metro mode, but no other Metro browser has that same access. Without that access, no other browser has a prayer of being competitive with IE.

Essentially, Mozilla feels that it cannot build a proper browser without access to the legacy win32 APIs.

Also, I want to point out something that I haven’t seen any tech blog point out as of yet. This isn’t a targeted attack against browsers. Microsoft executives didn’t gather with their monocles and three-piece suits and decide that it was time to ruin competing browsers by eradicating their access to essential APIs. Nope. Instead, for quality control reasons, no third-party developers will be able to create applications that run on the Windows RT legacy desktop. Apart from the apps bundled with Windows — including IE — features of Windows like Windows Explorer for filesystem access, or the “classic” control panel, and an ARM-optimized version of Office, no other applications are allowed.

So no, anti-establishment, Microsoft-hating weenies. Put away your signs and pitchforks, and cancel that #OccupyRedmond protest you were inevitably planning to destroy the evil corporation. For whatever reason, Microsoft wants to offer a crippled legacy desktop for ARM tablet users that shouldn’t even be there. Nobody cares about filesystem access on their tablet. But, they do acknowledge its uselessness, and, for quality reasons, they’re simply not allowing other developers to make stuff on ARM, or access APIs to power Metro apps.

But Microsoft isn’t forbidding third-party browsers. Mozilla are free to go ahead and develop something awesome through WinRT. That is what they would have done if there was no legacy code in Windows 8.

But, I do wonder how Microsoft will handle this situation. Will they begin to allow select partners to have additional access — under their supervision, of course — to win32 APIs, or even worse, the ability to develop full-blown legacy applications on ARM? That would be awful. There’s no need for the legacy desktop, and, like most users likely will, developers need to ignore it.

Image Source: eBaumsworld