Windows 8 Cloud Features Detailed [Screenshots]

Last year, a bunch of presentations detailing planned Windows 8 enhancements were leaked. Those documents gave us a glimpse of what Microsoft was planning for the next iteration of Windows. It was obvious that one of the key differentiators for Windows 8 is going to be cloud integration. Back then, I wrote:

With Windows 8, user accounts will finally become user centric. Your cloud based user account will follow you, from machine to machine.

Now, some leaked screenshots and some sleuthing from MDL forum members, have thrown up a fair amount of concrete information on Window 8’s cloud integration. According to Microsoft, more than 52% PC users work on multiple computers on a regular basis. In order to make switching between workstations effortless, Windows 8 will be introducing ‘Roaming Profiles’. When you logon to different devices using your ‘connected password’, your settings will be automatically transferred to the device. The ‘Roaming Options’ Control Panel item will allow you to add or remove the following from your roaming profile:

  • Desktop Wallpaper
  • Aero Glass Color
  • Ease of access control panel
  • Magnifier
  • On screen keyboard
  • Narrator
  • Speech recognition settings
  • Language profile
  • Text prediction preferences
  • IME dictionary
  • Application settings and search history
  • Windows Taskbar settings
  • Windows Explorer settings
  • Windows Search settings
  • Windows Mouse settings
  • Wireless network profiles
  • Saved website credentials


Interestingly enough, as pointed out by Long Zheng, Windows 8 seems to have the ability to detect if you are using a metered internet connection, or a connection with low bandwidth cap.


Furthermore, another MDL forum member has posted a screenshot that shows the cloud authentication feature in action. Windows 8 will provide the option of either logging in as a local user, or logging in using cloud identification. Quite obviously, Microsoft will be tapping into the Windows Live network for the cloud oriented features.


The public beta of Windows 8 is still several months away. In the meantime, if you want to get a taste of Windows 8, go ahead and download the leaked Windows 8 M2 (pre-M3) release.

More Windows 8 Tidbits Revealed – History Vault, TouchScreen Gestures, Immersive Browser, and Black Screen of Death

Windows 8, the successor to the largely well-received Windows 7, is slated to be released next year. Public beta testing should commence later this year; however, you don’t have to wait that long to get a taste of Windows 8. Just a few hours back, an M2 (Milestone 2) build of Windows 7 was leaked, and it’s already available on popular torrent trackers. However, using a leaked build has its own caveats and risks, and is not for the faint hearted. If you don’t want to subject yourself to the trouble of frequently installing and re-installing leaked Windows 8 releases, we suggest that you do the next best thing – subscribe to Techie Buzz! We will be continuously bringing you the latest scoops about Microsoft’s next big operating system.

We already know that Windows 8 will feature a Ribbon interface for Explorer, have an improved task manager, support pattern logon, include webcam and PDF reader apps out of the box, and include an app store. Windows 8 will also introduce a new packaged application model called AppX. Another new feature, which is aimed squarely at tablet users, is Immersive browser. We mentioned it briefly in a previous article. However, thanks to the M2 build leaked yesterday, we now have a better look at the Immersive browser, which is similar in appearence to Internet Explorer for Windows Phone 7, but features the desktop Trident engine.

Immersive Browser Screenshots
Source: Neowin

Neowin also spotted an YouTube video demonstrating some pretty nifty new touchscreen gestures and effects.

TouchScreen Gestures and Effects

Another major new feature in Windows 8 is “History Vault”. In simple terms it’s a front-end for the “Shadow Copy” feature that was introduced in Windows Vista (Windows XP had a rudimentary implementation of this feature). The “History Vault” will provide quick access to previous versions of documents and files backed up automatically by Shadow Copy. This will finally make Shadow Copy accessible to even non-technical Windows users. Apple’s TimeMachine interface still makes this look like a hack job, but as they say, something is better than nothing.

History Vault Screenshot
Source: WinRumors

The final bit of news from WinRumors isn’t exactly a feature, but is interesting nonetheless. The leaked builds of Windows 8 feature a black screen of death instead of the infamous blue screen of death (BSoD) for stop errors. No one likes to see a BSod; however, it’s one of the most well known (and ridiculed) aspect of a Windows system. It has become a pop-culture legend on its own right. Black screen might conserve power, appear more slick, or whatever; but, I know that I will feel a tinge of sadness if Microsoft finally decides to ditch the BSoD. The BSoD has secured it’s own place in the pop-culture, and is one of the things we love to hate about Windows. Hopefully, this is only a temporary move, and the BSoD will be back by the time we are ready for the RTM (Release to Manufacturing) build.

Windows 8 Black Screen of Death Video

Source: WinRumors

Windows 8 M2 (Build 7955) Leaked

WindowsAlthough Microsoft has been sharing Windows 8 test builds with trusted partners for several months, us mere mortals had to wait until early April to get a taste of Windows 8. However, the flood gates seem to have opened, and we have another leak on our hands.

BetaArchive, the forum responsible for leaking Windows 8 M1, has done it once again. This time, they have managed to get hold of Windows 8 Build 7955 (6.2.7955.0). This build is a lot newer than the earlier build. If I am not mistaken, it is the final build of the Milestone 2 (M2) tree. According to the notes provided by the releaser,

  • You can unlock the following:
    • Ribbon UI
    • Application Folder (now working, in 7850 it was broken)
    • Full DWM (hideblur)
  • The following requires the ”red pill”:
  • Webcam
  • Login (that ugly guy with ctrl+alt+del, the fishy wallpaper, pattern login)
  • TaskUI (new taskmanager)
  • PDF Reader
  • Immersive Browser

At the moment Windows 8 M2 is available for download only on the private BetaArchive FTP server; however, it should begin popping up in various torrent websites in an hour or so. As always, keep in mind that installing a leaked build is fraught with danger. Besides the risk that it might have been tampered with, you might experience severe performance and stability issues. The file released by BA has the MD5 hash 40861A02CB14B0D2D7930910DB6CC6E4 and is a 2.47GB (2,657,079,296 bytes) download.

Windows 8 to Feature a Pattern Logon Screen for TouchScreen Users [Video]

The folks at MyDigitalLife have done it again. A user has managed to uncover a pattern logon screen in Windows 8 that is similar to the authentication system found in Android. Previously, MDL forum members had managed to unlock several hidden features like Ribbon UI (user interface) for Windows Explorer, Advanced Task Manager, native PDF viewer, and native WebCam application.

The pattern logon screen is obviously targeted at touchscreen users, although it can also be operated using a mouse. Windows 8 is being designed from the ground-up keeping multiple form factors in mind. It will be the first version of Windows to support ARM chipsets, which power majority of the handheld devices (including tablets). Other tablet oriented features we have seen includes a more touchscreen friendly task manager, and an immersive version of Internet Explorer. Immersive Internet Explorer uses the desktop Trident rendering engine, but has a tile-based user interface similar to IE for Windows Phone 7.


The undesirability of Windows 7 as a tablet operating system has already left Microsoft playing catchup in, what Apple terms as, the “post-PC” segment. Once again, Android seems to be the only operating system that can mount a serious challenge to the iOS. Microsoft will need to do a lot more than just integrate bits and pieces of Metro and Ribbon, if it hopes to catchup. Windows M3 was released to trusted partners on March 29. If and when that build gets leaked, we should get a better idea about the direction Microsoft intends to take with Windows 8. In the meanwhile, check out this video to watch the new logon interface in action.

Unlock Ribbon UI for Windows Explorer, and Other Hidden Features in Windows 8 with Windows 8 Tweaker

After a long wait, a Windows 8 build was finally leaked a few days back. The leaked build was a pretty old M1 build, but that didn’t stop thousands of Windows enthusiasts from taking it for a spin. At first glance, it appeared to be, by and large, identical to Windows 7.However, NaiveUser from MyDigitalLife forums managed to unlock quite a few interesting features including Ribbon UI (user interface) for Windows Explorer.

NaiveUser succeeded in enabling several locked features through simple registry tweaks. However, if registry editing is not your cup of tea, then fear not, as the folks at Windows8Beta have released the first Windows 8 tweaking utility.


Windows 8 Tweaker is a straightforward application that enables the following hidden Windows 8 features:

1. Ribbon UI for Windows Explorer: Windows 7 saw Microsoft adding the popular Ribbon UI, which was first seen in Office 2007, to applications like Paint and WordPad. With Windows 8, Microsoft is going a step further, and incorporating the Ribbon interface in the Windows Explorer itself.

2. PDF Reader: PDF (Portable Document Format) is now an open standard, and a virtually universal file format. Microsoft has finally decided to stop messing around with its own document formats, and has added a native PDF reader to Windows 8. However, like the Ribbon UI, this feature is also locked down in Windows 8 build 7850.

3. Advanced Task Manager: Windows 8 will feature a significantly improved and touch-screen friendly task manager. The advanced task manager, seen in the screenshot below, sports a new “dashboard” that will provide a quick overview of various resource usages (CPU, memory, disk, and network). Also present in the new task manager is a new section for startup processes, and a revamped process and application manager.


4. Webcam Application: The final feature that the Windows8 Tweaker unlocks is a native webcam app. The app itself is pretty bare bones, but it gets the job done.

If you have installed the leaked Windows 8 build, then go ahead and grab the Windows 8 Tweaker from here. Don’t forget to chime in with your opinion about the new Windows 8 features in the comments section.

Windows 8 Build 7850 Leaked, Available for Download

It has finally happened! Someone has leaked an internal build of Windows 8. A short while back, Windows 8 Build 7850 was published by Betaarchive, and should appear soon on torrent and other file sharing services.

The build that has been leaked is actually pretty old – older than the build demoed by Microsoft at CES. According to multiple sources, Windows 8 has already reached Milestone III, whereas the leaked release is from the Milestone I days. Officially, the build bears the version number Windows 6.1, and behaves more or less like Windows 7. Even if any major new features are present, they will probably be locked down.


Nevertheless, if you are really desperate to get a taste of Windows 8, keep an eye on your favorite torrent website. The file name of the release is 6.1.7850.0.winmain_win8m1.100922-1508_x86fre_client-enterprise_en-us.iso, and the file size is 2.45 GB (2,637,101,056 bytes). Of course, keep in mind that toying with leaked releases is always fraught with danger. Besides being unstable and unfit for daily usage, there is always the possibility that they might have been tampered with. Don’t install this build unless you know what you are doing, and even then, don’t use it as your primary operating system.

New Official Windows 7 Themes – Antarctic and Rango

In most places in the northern hemisphere, frigid winter has already begun making way for the delightful spring. Snow covered sideways and icy winds have been replaced by blooming magnolias. However, if you are already missing the snow, you can deck up your desktop with Microsoft’s new “Antarctic” themepack for Windows 7. The new themepack features 15 stunning wallpapers that capture Antarctica in all its glory. Australian comedian Andrew Denton had been very correct when he remarked that, “If Antarctica were music it would be Mozart. Art, and it would be Michelangelo. Literature, and it would be Shakespeare”.

Antarctic Windows 7 Theme

Microsoft has also published a “Rango” themepack, ahead of the release of the animated film of the same name. Rango is a comedy that tells the tale of a pet chameleon who aspires to be a hero, and is then thrust into the role when he ends up in a western town plagued by bandits. The movie features Johnny Depp’s voice in the titular role. It will hit the theaters on March 4 in US and UK, and on April 20 in India. In the meanwhile you can enjoy seven lighthearted wallpapers from Rango courtesy of Microsoft.

Rango Windows 7 Theme

New 0-day Vulnerability in Windows Circumvents UAC

When Microsoft added UAC (User Account Control), the promise was that it will make Windows more secure. Pardon me if I come across as a cynic, but all it seems to be capable of doing is annoying users. Yes, Windows 7 makes UAC a lot more bearable, but it’s still annoying. On top of that, it doesn’t actually do a lot to prevent malware attacks or malicious program execution. To make things even worse, a new flaw has been uncovered that can be used to completely bypass UAC in Windows Vista and 7.

The developers of popular security software Pervx spotted a new 0-day vulnerability being discussed in a Chinese forum. According to them, “This is a serious flaw because it resides in win32k.sys, the kernel mode part of the Windows subsystem. It is a privilege escalation exploit which allows even limited user accounts to execute arbitrary code in kernel mode.”

This flaw basically enables an attacker to execute applications with system (full) privileges. Unfortunately, there is not a lot you can do to keep yourself safe at this point of time. Sophos has suggested a workaround; however, it is not known how effective the proposed safety measure is.

Download Windows 7 Service Pack 1 RC

Microsoft has released the first RC (Release Candidate) build of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 to the general public. In order to install the service pack, you must have a final RTM version of Windows 7. Moreover, if you have already installed a previous build of the service pack, you will have to uninstall that first. Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Release Candidate has also been made available for download.

Windows 7 SP1 doesn’t include any major new features. It’s mostly a collection of previously released hotfixes and updates. However, the server edition introduces two new features – RemoteFx and Dynamic memory, which were discussed earlier. The final build is expected to be released in Q1, 2011.

[ Download Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 Release Candidate ]

Microsoft Releases Two Stunning Windows 7 Themes – Eerie Autumn and Lightning


It’s autumn and unsurprisingly Microsoft has released a new Windows 7 theme to go with the season. Autumn is the season that marks the impending arrival of the dreaded winter. It’s the season of melancholy. But, perhaps more significantly, autumn is the season Halloween is celebrated in. The splendid wallpaper collection captures the essence of autumn in a brilliant, albeit slightly unnerving fashion.


While the Eerie Autumn theme is spooky, the Lightning theme is simply awe inspiring. This theme captures Mother Nature at her fiercest. I don’t know about you, but lightning and thunderbolt always manages to send shivers down my spine.


Both the themes are available for download from the official Windows 7 personalization gallery.

(via IntoWindows)