Microsoft announces a bold new plan to remove all windows and replace them with a new product it is calling Live Tiles, which bear little resemblance to the transparent windows you’ve been using to peer out at the world beyond.
In a shocking move today, Microsoft has begun a drive to remove all windows from homes around the world and replace them with what the company is dubbing “Live Tiles.” Though they are completely different than their glass predecessors, CEO Steve Ballmer claims that the Live Tiles can replace windows with “no compromises.”
Live Tiles do not open, allow for airflow, or let light in, but do come in a number of neon colors. Though they have none of the benefits of an actual window, the Tiles can display a fraction of a weather report, rotating pictures of friends, or a static picture of the outdoors. Once you’ve paid the $40 upgrade fee and your windows have been switched, the change is irreversible without a rebuild.
“What the hell?! I want my old windows back,” said disgruntled rural homeowner Andrew Couts who shelled out $40 for what Microsoft told him was an upgrade to his windows. “My home looks like a goddamn Fischer Price set. I can’t get anything done.”
Those living in older homes will not be able to directly interact with the Live Tiles, but starting today, Microsoft began selling a new line of homes specifically designed with Live Tiles in mind. Office buildings and businesses with windows will also be forced to upgrade to Live Tiles, though it took them so long to install their last set of windows that Microsoft plans to give them several years to catch up.
As part of the Live Tile rollout, stores that previously sold windows, crews trained to install windows, and companies selling window accessories will be forced to convert their operations to support the millions of Live Tiles attempting to fill the gaps where windows once stood.
Though Microsoft is attempting to eliminate windows around the world, Ballmer repeatedly referred to windows as Microsoft’s future.
“Microsoft is dedicated to windows. Windows is our past, present, and future. We’ll always make windows,” said the CEO before chanting the word “developers” several dozen times to a crowd of aging programmers and journalists. Though homes will be full of Live Tiles, Ballmer claims that Microsoft is, in fact, selling windows.
The world-wide plan to replace all windows comes after several years of testing in mobile homes. Though few mobile home owners have converted to the Tiles, the lack of voluntary adoption has only emboldened Microsoft.
Microsoft Launches Windows 8 After 1.24B Hours Of Public Testing, Available On Over 1,000 Certified Devices
During Microsoft’s official launch event for Windows 8 in New York City today, Steven Sinofsky, the president of the company’s Windows and Windows Live division, said that the company’s new operating system went through 1,240,000,000 hours of testing in public in 190 countries. “No product anywhere receives this kind of testing anywhere in the world,” he said.
For Microsoft, today is obviously a big day, as users can now download and buy Windows 8 for their PCs and start buying numerous new devices. According to Microsoft, there are now over 1,000 certified Windows 8 PCs. The focus today, of course, was on devices with touchscreens, including tablets and convertibles. “These are the best PCs ever made,” Sinofsky said.
The other major launch for Microsoft today, of course, is the opening of the Windows Store, which is now available in 231 markets. The Store will feature both apps for the new Windows 8 user interface, as well as links to existing desktop apps.
Talking about Windows RT, the company’s version of the new operating system for machines using ARM processors, Sinofsky stressed that while this is a new OS, it will still support over 420 million peripherals, including printers, mice and keyboards. He also stressed the security benefits or RT.
Windows 7 Sold 670 Million Licenses
Looking back at Windows 8′s predecessor, Sinofsky announced that Microsoft has now sold more than 670 million Windows 7 licenses. According to the company’s own data, that’s the “fastest adoption of any OS ever.” Windows 7, he said, “was the first release of Windows to build on cloud services as a major part of the operating system.” Today, SkyDrive users store more than 11 billion photos on the service and over 550 million documents and they add 2 petabytes of additional files every month.
Back in 1992, 3.1’s startup sound was jarring and unpopular.
This prompted Microsoft to create a more aurally pleasing version for its next operating system.
From the blunt fanfare of Windows 3.1 to the melodic chimes of Windows 7 (and some classic mini-tunes in between), these startup sounds communicate the history of Windows PCs throughout the years.
Join us as we explore the oral history of Microsoft’s operating system. Which is your favorite startup sound? Tell us in the comments below.
In 1994 Microsoft asked Brian Eno to create a piece of music that was (in his words) “inspiring, universal, blah- blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental [and] emotional.”
The resulting seven seconds — about twice as long as Microsoft’s initial brief requested — has made tech history as a recognizable “sonic logo.”
In 1996, Windows NT 4.0 revealed a fresh, futuristic sound.
Legend has it that the shutdown sound played the startup sound backwards.
Microsoft audio producer Ken Kato is credited with the creation of the Windows 98 sound.
Microsoft tinkled the ivories with its professional “2000” operating system.
The consumer-aimed “Millennium Edition” shared the same audio.
The startup chime (and other system sounds within XP) are based on live orchestral recordings.
Composer Bill Brown worked with Emmy-award winning sound designer Tom Ozanich to create the audio.
The Vista startup sound was a collaboration among progressive rock guitarist Robert Fripp, record producer, musician and composer Tucker Martine and Microsoft’s own engineer (and musician) Steve Ball.
In a blog post, Microsoft described the tune as having “two parallel melodies played in an intentional ‘Win-dows Vis-ta’ rhythm,” with four chords — one for each color in the Windows flag.
Finally, Windows 7’s default startup audio is the same as Vista’s.
Microsoft Debuts Skype For Windows 8: Offers Modern Design, Live Tiles & Focus On Tight Windows 8 Integration
Days ahead of its official release, Microsoft has announced a new version of Skype built especially for Windows 8. The app is being made available in the Windows Store, and once installed, it will display on the Start screen as a Live Tile showing missed calls and messages.
Like other Microsoft apps, Skype’s look-and-feel is that of what would have formerly been called “Metro Design,” before the trademark dispute with a German retailer. There has been a little confusion as to whether we should refer to the style as the generic-sounding “Modern Design” or the even more generic “Windows 8-style UI,” perhaps. But today’s Skype blog post appears to clear that up. (Skype is owned by Microsoft). It declares “Modern Design” the winner, apparently.
The new app places recent chats and calls front-and-center, as they’re the first things you’ll see when the app goes live. You can also build out a list of favorites, and these then appear on the app’s homescreen with big thumbnails next to your full list of contacts. To begin a call or chat, you simply tap or click on your friend’s profiles. These contacts are also integrated with Windows 8′s nativePeople app, so all of your Skype’s contacts will display in this central address book, even if you had not created contacts for them. You can kick off Skype calls from the app itself, too, as contacts’ info will be updated with their Skype details when the app is installed. Note that this requires you to log into Skype using your Microsoft account.
Skype for Windows 8 also now includes an integrated dial pad for calling landlines, and shows the amount of Skype Credit you have remaining as well as your active subscriptions, if any. Recent calls display next to the dial pad, so you can easily phone your regular contacts again.
The app runs in the background on Windows 8, and will display a pop-up notification when you have new calls or incoming messages. As you use the app, you can also browse the web, look at photo, use maps and more while chatting, by taking advantage of Windows 8′s “snap” feature that lets you quickly place two applications side-by-side.
A closer look at the update is included in the video below.
Microsoft’s promised Windows 8 support for its existing Touch Mouse has finally arrived. After being unveiled back in February, the software maker has now released Mouse and Keyboard Center 2.0 — an update designed to improve keyboard and mouse support in Windows 8. Existing Touch Mouse users can now take advantage of a variety of multitouch gestures in Windows 8, including two finger movements to manage apps and display the Windows 8 charms.
STILL NO GESTURE SUPPORT FOR WEDGE TOUCH MOUSE
We noted in our Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse review that the company made the odd decision to not include Windows 8 gesture support for that particular product. Unfortunately, the Mouse and Keyboard Center 2.0 update does not change this. If you’re a Wedge Touch Mouse user then you’re still going to be limited to scrolling gestures only.
The Verge got a chance to test out Microsoft’s Touch Mouse with the updated support for Windows 8 and can report that it makes navigating the interface a lot easier. You no longer need to navigate to the hot corners to activate Charms, or use keyboard shortcuts. We’d like to see Microsoft extend this support to other Touch mice in its range, but its initial release is enough to improve navigation with a Touch Mouse on Windows 8
When Windows 7 gets replaced with Windows 8 later this month it will take the Start button along with it.
A long-time staple in Windows computers, the operating system’s new Metro interface will change how PC owners interact with their computers. To help users who might be making the transition, SweetLabs introduced a new version of Pokki for Windows 8 Tuesday that brings back the Start Menu.
“We didn’t just bring back the old one, “ Chester Ng, co-founder and CMO of SweetLabs, told Mashable. “We agree with Microsoft that that one is outdated, and has a bunch of things that people don’t use. So we decided to take a familiar yet modernized take on what the start menu should be today”
The Pokki Menu in Windows 8 includes a centralized notification center, as well as a smartphone-like home screen where users can organize Pokki apps as well as websites, files, folders, and other Windows applications that are important to them. Just like the home screen on your phone, icons can be organized in any way you’d like. So, if you want one-click access to Facebook or even Microsoft Word, you can have it. A centralized inbox displays all of your unread notifications from apps beside the home screen.
Since Pokki is a creator of apps, such as Instagrille, which brings Instagram to your desktop, the experience works particularly well with Pokki apps and includes one click access to those apps as well as a recommendation service for new apps you might like.
The Pokki Menu also offers one-click access to programs, apps, and settings on your computer. Programs and apps you use often can be pinned to the top of a list for easy access, so you’re not constantly scrolling through the list of all of the Programs on your computer to find the one you need.
A Search function can search your entire computer as well as the web simultaneously for anything you might need, an upgrade from Windows 7 search that just looked on your computer.
You can also manage all your computer’s power settings from the Pokki menu, a function that seems pretty basic on the surface but Ng says is one of the biggest hurdles for new Windows 8 users with the removal of the Start menu.
If you give Windows 8 a try and decide it’s not for you, Pokki also has a setting for having your computer boot directly to the desktop rather than the Metro interface, as well as one for disabling Metro entirely.
Are you going to miss the Start Menu in Windows 8? Can you see using something like Pokki along with the operating system? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
If you’re running Windows 8, you can download the browser here.
Firefox for Windows 8 takes advantage of the operating system’s new touchscreen-friendly design, taking advantage of touch gestures and the like. Keep in mind, this isn’t the final version, so you’ll likely encounter a few bugs. But if you want a good idea what an alternative browser will look like on Windows 8, give it a shot.
Wondering what Skype’s Windows 8 interface might look like? Sure, you could use your imagination — and probably guess the design with a fair amount of accuracy — or you can poke around an early hands-on over at Neowin, complete with a half-dozen UI grabs. While still in preview state, the app appears to be “relatively solid,” enabling calls and chats with “little issue.” From the looks of it, touch fiends will be able to tap around just as accurately as their mouse-bound counterparts can click, with large buttons available throughout. Judging by the app’s current state, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a more formal appearance any day now, letting early Windows 8 users take the native app for a spin before the rest of us get access in the fall. Hit up our source link below for a gallery of screen grabs.
It’s been two weeks since Microsoft signed off on Windows 8, and shipped the final code to manufacturers prepping shiny new computers. Today, another round of folks are getting their hands on the code: devs, and IT pros with subscriptions to Microsoft’s TechNet program. Of course, you might not be a developer or IT whiz and, if we’re being honest, neither are we! Happily for us, though, Microsoft gave us an early peek at the RTM build — the same software that will ship to consumersOctober 26th. Granted, Microsoft says it will continue tweaking the built-in apps, with updates coming through the Windows Store. Barring these minor changes, though, what you see here is what you’ll get ten weeks from now. Meet us after the break for a summary of what’s new.
The last time we took a look at Windows 8, Microsoft had added more color themes for the Start Screen. Now, though, you can add one of 14 “personalization tattoos,” patterned backgrounds and borders that line the Start Screen.
As you can see, some options are more subtle than others. (Ed. note: those multicolored birds and dangling flowers are just for show. Okay, guys?)
No more Aero
No surprise here: Microsoft announced all the way back in May that the desktop would no longer have the Aero it’s been rocking since Vista. And indeed, the desktop here in RTM has a more flattened look (see the open window in that screenshot up there for an example of what we’re talking about). If you’re curious about the rationale behind that shift (and have a few minutes for a long read) hit up the more coverage link at the bottom of this post for Steven Sinofsky’s detailed explanation.
By now, we’ve seen most of the apps that will come baked into Windows 8, but there is one late-comer: Bing. When you first launch the application, you’ll see a mostly blank screen, with just a search bar and an ever-changing background photo. As you type results, Bing will offer suggestions and if we do say so, the auto-completion feels pretty quick. From there, results will be displayed not in a linear order, but as tiles you can swipe through, from side to side. Incidentally, this is one of the rare instances in Windows 8 when you can scroll almost infinitely through live tiles; you can keep going as long as there are more results to peruse.
Keep in mind that as with many Metro (excuse us — Windows 8) apps, the level of functionality isn’t quite as deep as what you’d get on the desktop. Whereas Bing is normally adept at travel- and flight-related queries, you can only use the built-in Bing app for simple keyword and image searches; you’ll need to go to the Travel app instead for things like airfare searches.
Though the People app isn’t new, per se, it got a facelift before Microsoft signed off on Windows 8. In addition to scrolling through names in alphabetical order, you can link your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and view your notifications all on one page. You can also check out a “What’s New?” page to see what your friends are posting. As ever, linking our various accounts was a painless process that took about a minute, all told. For more screens, be sure to check out the gallery further up the page.
Since we last checked in, Microsoft updated its Windows Store so that you can search for things the same way you would on the Start Screen. Which is to say, you can just open the store and start typing — a pane will immediately pop up on the right side of the screen, where you can see the list of results stat to shrink as you continue typing. It would seem, though, that you can only do this on the Windows Store’s main page; if you go into the games section and start typing “Mine” for Minesweeper, you won’t see that list of results.
By the by, this is as good a time as any to clarify that Minesweeper is new with RTM, as are Solitaire, Mahjong and Xbox SmartGlass. There are some new third-party apps too, but the ones we just mentioned are the only new ones created by Microsoft. If you’re curious, we’ve screenshots below — those should tell you all you need to know about how the games are laid out.
Additionally, the Windows Store now supports 54 new markets, and developers have the option of certifying their apps in 24 more languages. Lastly, the Store will at last be open to paid apps, and not just free and trial ones.
As it happens, many of the improvements in this late-stage build are under the hood, including both performance enhancements and some unspecified bug fixes. All told, Microsoft promises that battery life, I/O performance and hibernation speeds should all be improved over Windows 7. As you may know, the company also implemented different compression codecs as a way of speeding up both the download and installation process.
At this point, there’s barely anything Microsoft could have done to change your opinion of Windows 8: this is the same user experience we’ve been testing for months, just with smoother performance and a bit more cohesiveness. Rest assured, though, this isn’t the last you’ve heard from Engadget on this topic: we’re curious to see what tweaks Microsoft makes between now and general availability, and we’redefinitely wondering what PC makers might do to customize the software. Until then, at least, those of you left to run Release Preview can take comfort in the fact that you’re not missing too much, and that what you’re testing is apparently pretty darn close to the final version.
Microsoft offers free 90-day evaluation of Windows 8 Enterprise edition to devs, releases .NET Framework 4.5 and Visual Studio 2012
Feeling bummed because you’re an aspiring Windows 8 developer, but aren’t a TechNet or MSDN subscriber, and so can’t download the freshly minted Windows 8 RTM? Worry not, for a 90-day evaluation of Win8’s Enterprise edition (both 32 and 64-bit versions in a variety of languages) can be had for free at the Windows Dev Center developer downloads page right now. Before you get cracking on apps for Microsoft’s new OS, however, you’ll need to grab the newly released Visual Studio 2012 as well. The Express version — which allows for Metro Windows 8-style apps only — is free, while the full Visual Studio experience is only currently available to MSDN subs. Additionally, the folks in Redmond have made it easier to write those apps by releasing the new .NET Framework 4.5 RTM. More info and all the software goodies can be found at the source links below. Microsoft devs, your downloads await.