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To: Brian Sullivan who wrote (54)2/12/2012 9:31:42 AM
From: Eric L
1 Recommendation   of 357
Microsoft Confidante Paul Thurrott on Windows 8 on ARM (WOA)

>> WOA! Windows 8 on ARM Revealed

Paul Thurrott
Supersite for Windows
February 11, 2012

This week, after over a year of silence in the face of persistent and understandable questions from customers, tech enthusiasts and the press, Microsoft finally revealed more about its plans for Windows 8 on ARM or, as the company now calls it, WOA. I'm grateful that Microsoft answered a ton of questions about this release. There are, however, a few more questions too.

The WOA revelations come courtesy of a compulsively long blog post on Microsoft's official mouthpiece for Windows 8 information, the Building Windows 8 Blog. Hopefully, that team's code is a lot tighter than its writing, but regardless here's the pertinent info in about 20 percent of the space, along with some additional commentary.

As a backgrounder, Microsoft announced its intention to port the client version of Windows 8 to the ARM architecture in January 2011, about 13 months ago. At the time, the company noted that it would make Windows 8 versions for "System on a Chip" (SoC) architectures from both the x86 (Intel/AMD) and ARM (NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and TI) worlds, and that both would support the majority of Windows 8 technologies and be largely compatible. The company showed off a special version of Office 2010 running on prototype ARM hardware, but did not promise to release Office for ARM systems. Instead, this was "a demonstration of the potential of Windows platform capabilities on ARM architecture."

The company also said that current generation Windows applications (i.e. those that run on Win32/Explorer) would not be compatible with WOA systems, and that all Metro-style Windows 8 apps would run identically on both x86 and ARM.

Since that preview, there have been a lot of questions about ARM-based versions of Windows 8. Just a few of the key questions include whether WOA systems would include the legacy Windows 8 desktop or just the new touch-centric Windows Runtime (WinRT) and Metro-style Start environment, whether Office would be ported in some way to the new platform (and if so whether it would be "full" Office or a Metro-based subset), and whether developers would be able to port today's x86-based Windows applications and utilities to WOA.

Those questions are now all answered. And thanks to the aforementioned blog post, I can now provide the following summary of WOA features and differences between this system and the more traditional x86-based Windows 8 PCs and devices we'll also see later this year.

It's all in the family. WOA, like the Windows x86 client, Windows Server, Windows Embedded, and Windows Phone, is a full-fledged member of the Windows 8 family. And this is true from two perspectives, technically and conceptually. Technically, WOA shares a lot of the underlying code from the x86 versions of Windows, though it will also require a high degree of tweaking because today's Windows versions contain tons of platform-specific code, and because individual ARM devices require, in effect, discrete and unique OS versions. (More on that below.)

Conceptually, using a WOA device will be just like using an x86-based Windows 8 device, for the most part: It will feature the same Metro-style Start screen and run the same Metro-style apps, it will feature the legacy Windows desktop (albeit a limited version; again, see below), and it will be compatible with the same basic set of peripherals. These two aspects, together, explain Microsoft's insistence that Windows 8 will provide a "no compromises" experience, regardless of the architecture.

Microsoft isn't forgetting Intel and AMD. While we've been waiting patiently for news--any news--about WOA, and Microsoft has finally delivered that, the company also wanted to ensure users (and, no doubt, it's partners) that it has also engaged in "a deeper level of collaboration with Intel and AMD on the full breadth of PC offerings than in any past release." So much of the work Microsoft has done to make Windows 8 work well on more efficient and portable devices applies to x86-based PCs and devices as much as it does to WOA devices.

App compatibility. All Metro-style apps, including those that are bundled with the OS and those that the user downloads or purchases from the Windows Store, will run on both WOA and traditional Windows 8 devices. Without getting into the technical details, the short version is that developers only need to write their code once and Visual Studio 11 will compile it automatically for both platforms. When a user does purchase a Windows 8 app, they can install it on up to 5 Windows 8 devices. These can include any mix of WOA and x86-based machines.

Application (in)compatibility. Third party Win32/Explorer style applications--that is, all applications sold and made today, will not work on WOA systems. They cannot be ported to WOA, and cannot be made available in any way to WOA users. In WOA, Microsoft is only providing the basic desktop features from Windows 8 (file management, task manager and so on), the desktop version of Internet Explorer 10, and special versions of key Office 15 applications (see below).

Furthermore, WOA systems will not support running x86-based applications in emulation or virtualization (and Hyper-V is not part of the WOA versions of Windows 8). Get the message? Only a tiny subset of desktop applications will work on WOA, and all of those will ship with WOA systems, from Microsoft only.

Developer support. Speaking of apps (Metro) and applications (legacy), developers will of course use the same tools (Visual Studio 11), languages (C, C++, C#, Visual Basic, or JavaScript), markup (HTML 5/CSS, XAML), and other technologies (DirectX) to create Metro-style apps that run in the Windows Runtime (WinRT) on both WOA and x86-based Windows 8 devices.

Interestingly, developers can in fact ship Win32-style code that targets ARM, but only as supporting code for native WinRT/Metro apps. As with the desktop, described below, this is in doubt only because WinRT today simply doesn't offer the full breadth of capabilities as does Microsoft's legacy APIs and frameworks. So this "old fashioned" code can be used, yes, but only in a supporting role. (Remember: The only way to ship Metro-style apps for Windows 8/WOA outside of a managed corporate environment is via the Windows Store.)

WOA devices will ship concurrently with Windows 8 PCs. Contrary to a persistent rumor, Microsoft intends for its ARM partners to ship WOA devices to market at exactly the same time as traditional, x86-based PCs and devices. This is expected to start in Q4 2012, though Microsoft has only said on record that Windows 8 will ship "this year."

WOA devices will be integrated, end-to-end products. With traditional x86-based Windows versions, Microsoft creates a single OS that runs on any PC. This is not the case with WOA, and I'm curious to see how well Microsoft handles supporting both types of systems.

With WOA, each device is in effect a unique environment, with a custom version of the OS, unique hardware devices and drivers, and firmware, and so on. WOA software will not be sold at retail as is the case with traditional Windows versions. Instead, a custom WOA version will with each WOA device only. Microsoft's job, basically, is to ensure that these unique WOA versions operate and perform as identically as possible to each other and to x86-based Windows 8 versions. I'm not convinced this is a possible, and I think we're going to see some winners and losers when it comes to WOA devices.

Coupled with this is the fact that each, unique WOA device is in fact a joint development project that involves not just Microsoft, but also the ARM chipset maker (NVIDIA, Qualcomm, or TI) and the device maker (TBD, but there will be several, at least, I'm sure). This is a whole new level of collaboration, and there are bound to be hiccups.

Updating. WOA-based systems will be updated through the traditional Microsoft mechanisms, which in Windows 8 include both Windows Update (drivers, OS updates) and the Windows Store (app updates).

Office 15 is included. Microsoft is including desktop versions of four Office "15" applications with WOA-based systems. These apps, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, are desktop applications, not Metro-style apps, but they will be specially made to be a bit more usable on touch-based WOA systems and will be power management friendly.

WOA includes a limited version of the Windows desktop. A few months back, my sources told me that WOA devices would not include the Windows desktop, the implication being that these systems would offer only the new, Metro-style Start screen environment. But Microsoft announced that WOA would indeed include the desktop. What gives?

Turns out that's a bit of subterfuge on Microsoft's part, and the desktop is only being included to the extent that it's still required. So while I'm not ready to vindicate my previous statement about the desktop, suffice to say it's transitional in WOA and will likely be gone completely in the next version. In WOA, the desktop is there for a handful of basic tasks only. These include file management with Explorer, task management with Task Manager, full-featured web browsing with IE 10, interacting with legacy peripherals, and to run those Office 15 applications, which are indeed classic desktop applications but make some concessions to touch interfaces with large tap targets on the ribbon and elsewhere in the UI.

WOA and Windows 8 are indeed dual-interface systems. WOA, like the Windows 8 OS on which it is based, does indeed present two completely different user interfaces and operating environments, the Metro-style Start screen and the desktop. And while I feel that Microsoft is naturally progressing toward a Metro-only future, the company says that's not necessarily so, and that users will need to deal with both environments for at least the time being.

"Some have suggested we might remove the desktop from WOA in an effort to be pure, to break from the past, or to be more simplistic or expeditious," the post reads. "To us, giving up something useful that has little cost to customers was a compromise that we didn’t want to see in the evolution of PCs. The presence of different models is part of every platform. Whether it is to support a transition to a future programming model (such as including a virtualization or emulation solution if feasible), to support different programming models on one platform (native and web-based applications when both are popular), or to support different ways of working (command shell or GUI for different scenarios), the presence of multiple models represents a flexible solution that provides a true no-compromise experience on any platform."

My gut feeling is that WOA users and those running x86-based tablets will find themselves in the Metro environment most frequently, while those on laptops and desktop PCs will be using the desktop more often. Whether this works out as expected and/or changes over time is something I'll be following closely.

WOA is not included in the Consumer Preview. While Microsoft intends to deliver its Consumer Preview milestone of Windows 8 on February 29, WOA will not be included in this release. Instead, Microsoft intends to provide "a limited number of test PCs to developers and hardware partners in a closed, invitation-only program" later in the year.

WOA is for mobile devices. While we could possibly see thin and light WOA-based desktops, WOA is really aimed solely at the mobile market, and the majority of the WOA devices we'll see will be slate-style tablets. With Microsoft bringing Windows Phone, WOA, and Windows 8 into the same stable, so to speak, we're starting to see an interesting blend of features that were previously only available on smart phones and similar devices make their way to more mainstream Windows devices. These include things like sensors (accelerometers, ambient light, and so on) and even software services like Exchange ActiveSync (EAS): Microsoft notes in its WOA post that the WOA/Windows 8 Mail app synchronizes via EAS; this is the first implementation of EAS on an OS that will run on a desktop PC that I'm aware of.

WOA devices do not sleep or hibernate. Like the appliances on which they're based, WOA devices do not feature complex power management choices, which means that you won't see options for Sleep or Hibernate. Instead, these devices work purely in the new Connected Standby power mode, like a smart phone. "When the screen is on, you have access to the full power and capabilities of the WOA PC," The B8 post reads. "When the screen goes dark (by pressing the power button or timer), the PC enters a new, very low-power mode that enables the battery to last for weeks ... the system dynamically adjusts power consumption and is always on the lookout for opportunities to reduce power to unused parts of the system."

By the way, Connected Standby will also be available on x86-based Windows devices, but importantly only on those based on an SoC architecture (i.e. tablets and slates, for the most part).

Questions Remain

I mentioned up front that the recent WOA revelations, while very much appreciated, have of course opened up the door to a new wave of questions. Key among these are whether users should purchase a WOA device or x86-based PC or device, depending on their needs. Will there be WOA orphans over time as hardware makers introduce slowly selling devices and then abandon them, and if so, who supports them going forward? How can Microsoft claim that Windows 8 is a "no compromises" OS when literally no existing Windows software will even run on new WOA-based devices? How will these devices and Windows 8/WOA versions be marketed and differentiated? Will there be a version of Outlook for WOA? Or other Office applications?

And so on, but you get the idea. WOA looks like a compelling and strong entry to me, but it's not without its compromises, and advising potential customers on which to consider is, for now at least, not possible. We live in interesting times, though, and I wouldn't have it any other way: I'm excited and uncertain about WOA and Windows 8. And that alone is actually pretty thrilling. ###

- Eric -

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To: Eric L who wrote (57)2/12/2012 9:39:23 AM
From: zax
1 Recommendation   of 357
Microsoft was running Windows on ARM two years ago
By Sean Hollisteron February 12, 2012 09:31 am

Microsoft's attempts to port Windows to ARM began earlier than we thought: over two years ago, the company apparently already had Windows running on the low-power architecture. According to EXIF data, the two photos above were taken on January 22nd, 2010 with a Samsung Omnia Pro, but that's not Windows Mobile on this Asus P835 smartphone. It's a build of Windows 7, and to give you some idea of the timing, it predates the January 27th announcement of the original Apple iPad by several days. Of course, if what we've been hearing about Windows Phone 8 pans out, these pictures of a "fairly early" Windows on ARM debug could represent more than just software running on silicon: it could be symbolic of how Microsoft intends to truly unify phones, tablets, and PCs with its next version of the desktop operating system.

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From: Eric L2/12/2012 11:04:02 AM
   of 357
The Upcoming "Windows 8 Secrets" -- Interview with the Authors: Thurrott and Rafael

>> Interview with the authors of Windows 8 Secrets – Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera

Onuora Amobi
Windows 8 Update
February 9, 2012

There have been quite a few Windows 8 related interviews on this site but I have to say this is one I have been looking forward to.

I met Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera at the BUILD conference last September and was impressed by how technically proficient they both were while somehow staying (relatively) normal and unassuming.

Paul Thurrott is a seasoned tech analyst/veteran and the brains behind the tech repository - Windows Super Site ( ). He has covered Microsoft almost as long as the company has existed ( kinda feels that way at least).

Rafael Rivera is a security clearance holding technical guru. He is a contributing Writer at WPCentral, an Executive Director at The Within Network, LLC and an independent blogger at his site - Within Windows ( ).

In 2009, these gentlemen successfully published a 1080 page monster of a book called "Windows 7 Secrets" and that book is widely regarded as an excellent (if not definitive) guide to Microsoft's Windows 7 Operating System.

Here we are 3 years later and these masochists are about to do it again. They are currently writing the next book in the "Secrets" series, this time for Windows 8.

I had an opportunity to interview these guys and without further ado, here it is..

Onuora: Guys, thanks for making the time to do this, let's get started. How did you guys decide to hook up and write a book?

Paul: As far back as 1996, when my WinInfo news digest went from a local community college email-based newsletter to a web-based, publicly available web site, I always envisioned being part of a team. It just never worked out that way, and the companies and people who've published my writing over the years have always preferred to promote me as a singular voice or personality instead. But I've kept trying to collaborate, and you can see that in Mary Jo Foley joining the Windows Weekly podcast and of course with Rafael and Windows Secrets. I'm looking for quality and complimentary capabilities.

Rafael: I remember Paul springing the question on me in a hotel room, while lying in bed, in the Galapagos. Or no, sorry, I believe it was at a Microsoft event. At any rate, I was both excited and terrified at the prospect of working with Paul on his Windows Secrets line of books. Excited that I would have the opportunity to translate my in-depth technical knowledge into readable characters on a printed page; and terrified that I had to produce work that someone as prominent as Paul would approve of.

Onuora: Why did you want to write this with each other?

Paul: I come across a lot of different people, and personality types, at industry functions, and while they all have their pros and cons, Rafael stood out for his technical expertise--which is second to none--and complete lack of ego. Too many people in this line of work are far too eager to tell you how smart they are, but Rafael is the real deal, and I knew he could bring a deep technical understanding of the underpinnings of Windows to the Windows Secrets books and provide them with an important advantage over competing books. Liking Rafael, and being able to work with him, was key as well. It's really worked out.

Rafael: I was new to publishing. So the opportunity to work with a great friend who has vast experience in this area and is also passionate about Windows and technology was one I could turn down. And he bribed me with some excellent bagels.

Onuora: How would you describe the collaborative writing process so far?

Paul: One of the few things I can honestly say about myself is that I can write. And I don't mean that as in "I can write well," but rather than I can write in volume. But that's grunt work in many ways. We collaborate on the table of contents (TOC) and we review each other's work. We're constantly discussing everything that happens with Windows 8 and how that impacts the book. The whole thing is collaborative and, oddly enough, the actual writing of the book is in some ways the least of it.

Rafael: As Paul mentioned, he can write, not just well but in volume. Because of that, I have to work extra hard to ensure my work is of comparable quality and length, otherwise the book will just appear patchy. It helps a lot, however, that we do maintain constant communication and collaborate on a daily basis via various channels.

Onuora: So far, what's been the hardest part of writing this book?

Paul: Right now, it's the waiting. We can't be sure what Windows 8 is, exactly, until we've seen the Consumer Preview (previously called the Beta), thanks to Microsoft's secrecy policies. We're eager to really dig in, and the lag between milestones is killing us. (Microsoft promised they'd update the Developer Preview, by the way. They never did.)

Rafael: Ditto. We’re in a holding pattern until we have something tangible to write about. This affects the schedules of everyone in the chain – not just us – and well, you know what they say rolls down hills.

Onuora: What were your first impressions of Windows 8 when you first saw it?

Paul: My reactions to Windows 8 have followed a predictable, almost traditional series of steps. First, excitement: It looked like Windows Phone, which is revolutionary and excellent. Then, confusion and doubt as you learn more and think, wow, this isn't going to work. Then, finally, acceptance: This is OK, and I can do this. But really, the biggest initial impression I had, and the one that is most telling, is seeing this bank of Windows 8 tablets at BUILD and thinking that people would see something like that in Best Buy or whatever and just want one. Windows 8 is just so pretty. It makes the iPad (software) look drab and boring by comparison.

Rafael: Rafael: I also went through Paul’s above Steps to Assimilate New Microsoft Technology, but I think the most prominent thought I had at the time was: Oh my god, this is totally going to work on slates.

Onuora: You've both been working with Windows 8 for a while, can you tell us something about the OS that would surprise the readers?

Paul: Metro works just fine with a mouse and keyboard. Sorry, haters.

Rafael: Windows 8 can boot up from scratch in less than 8 seconds. That’s crazy.

Onuora: What's the difference between blogging and technical book writing in terms of difficulty and how you approach the material?

Paul: I write for many different types of publications, and I think of each differently. The quickest and easiest are blog posts: These I can rattle off quickly and they're designed to be concise and to the point.

Next up the food chain, so to speak, are the news stories I write for WinInfo each day; they're meant to condense what's going on in the tech world down to just the 1-3 stories that are most important that day for Windows users.

Then there are the full-length articles I write for the SuperSite for Windows--which is not a blog, by the way--these are longer, often much longer, and involve more time and work.

After that are the articles that are less timely, like the weekly editorials I write for Windows IT Pro Update and the monthly column for the print magazine called Need to Know. Those are edited by others and there's a round of feedback.

Books... well, books come after that. They're tough because they require a lot of research and a lot of time, and they pay the least, by far, from an hourly basis. They require the most feedback--at least three rounds for each chapter, with different types of editors weighing in, and you must deal with each item of feedback.

The book must be definitive and valuable, and written to a certain style. And books are hard because they're final: If there's a mistake, you can't fix it, at least not until a future revision that may or may not come. It's just a different thing all-together. If someone finds a mistake in a blog post, news article, or web article, I can fix it immediately. Not so with books.

Rafael: Cutting down on technical verbosity is the most difficult for me. On Within Windows, for example, I can write with the assumption that readers know certain technical terms and topics. But Windows Secrets is targeted to a slightly less technical audience, requiring me to decrease the depth but increase the breadth of my writing.

Onuora: How much of the book is complete as of right now?

Paul: Maybe 10 percent. Each chapter is completely laid out, though that may change when we see the Consumer Preview. I've written bits of background material in some of the chapters. Consider the chapter about the new Metro-style user interface. That UI may change between now and the final release, but the thinking behind it and the history of the thing is something I can write about now. So I'm trying to get as much of that done as possible before we get to the nitty-gritty of the actual how-to/explanation content.

Rafael: It’s actually impressive how much we have done, given how little information we really have. We’d probably have more if I helped too. Doh!

Onuora: Are you on schedule or behind and why?

Paul: Behind, of course. Any author who tells you differently is deluded or a liar. But part of the reason, of course, is Microsoft. We expected to be writing off a Beta release in January 2012. But now we're waiting until the end of February, and the Consumer Preview, to get going actively.

Rafael: We’re on schedule… a new schedule that aligns with Microsoft’s late release of updated Windows 8 bits.

Onuora: You've probably been deeper into the OS than most civilians, how easy is this going to be to use?

Paul: Talk to me in a month. :) Right now, the Developer Preview is like using Windows 7 plus this weird Start Screen that you trigger inadvertently. But with a ton of Metro-style apps coming, and a hopefully feature-complete Consumer Preview, the experience the experience is going to get a lot better. And perhaps very different. We'll see.

Rafael: Well I think we can all agree that on slates, Windows 8 is going to rock. Let’s just hope that ugly Desktop mode doesn’t bleed off some of that coolness.

Have Microsoft been supportive of the effort?

Paul: Yes. At the BUILD Conference, we were temporarily given Samsung slate computers but were supposed to return them after the show. I approached Microsoft and its PR folks and asked if I could hold on to mine throughout the pre-release cycle for purposes of writing the book, and they were immediately supportive of that. I regularly talk to various people at Microsoft (and its PR companies) about Windows 8, including some who may surprise you. They understand what we're trying to do, and that this book will be a positive thing for Windows 8. We're enthusiasts, and yes, we may raise questions. But ultimately we love Windows and our heart is in the right place.

Rafael: Very supportive. I’m a very blunt and outspoken kind of guy. For Microsoft and its PR folks to boil away my craziness and see me as a value to the Windows community; it feels good to be validated, you know? And I can’t thank them enough for doing so.

Onuora: Microsoft get a lot of props for a design that's different from Apple (IOS) and Google (Android), how intuitive is the new OS to use?

Paul: I feel very strongly that the Metro-style UI is excellent and something that will work very well across Windows PCs and devices, servers, Xbox 360/living room devices, and Windows Phone. In fact, I can't wait to see Windows Phone 8 pick up some key Metro improvements in Windows 8, especially around multi-color and more configurable live tiles and the horizontal (rather than vertical) navigational model.

Rafael: I’m a big Windows Phone fan, so to see this metaphor translated to the PC makes me happy inside. I can’t speak to its intuitiveness though; I haven’t used it enough or on the form factors that I feel matter more (e.g. slates).

Onuora: Paul - are you still really using Windows 8 as a primary PC for all your work?

Paul: Yes. Every single day.

Rafael: I’m still trying to wake him up to the fact that you can play games on the PC too. And it’s far superior. <ducks>

Onuora: Will the book cover Windows Phone or Windows Server 8 in any way? Integration?

Paul: Yes to both. Server won't get the same coverage as the Windows 8 client, of course. And yes, from the perspective of integration especially.

Rafael: Absolutely. I think that’ll be a very valuable part of the book.

Onuora: What's the book going to be called?

Paul: Windows 8 Secrets.

Rafael: It will actually feature spine and cover stickers that say Windows 8 Secrets. But they can be peeled off to reveal _____________ in which you write the last minute OS name, should it change prior to book publish. (I’m kidding, of course.)

Onuora: Who's the audience for the book?

Paul: Any Windows user who wants to know what's new in Windows 8 and master those new features. The expectation this time around is that the reader already knows Windows. They just want to know about the new stuff.

Rafael: I’ve found that everyone learns something from the Windows Secrets line of books. But it’s geared towards an intermediate audience of folks that want to exploit Windows 8 to its fullest potential, to fit their needs.

Onuora: When can we expect to buy this book and where?

Paul: The plan is to ship the book "day and date" with Windows 8, meaning that it should appear in bookstores at roughly the exact time as Windows 8 is generally available. Right now, the plan is for that to happen anytime between September 2012 and January 2013, but I'm ready to push it to make an earlier date if Microsoft really surprises us. (They won't.)

But much of the actual schedule for this book is on the back-end and unrelated to what we do. And the actual heavy writing time will be about three months or less, I bet. It will be sold at major book stores, both retail and electronic, and will be made available in all the major eBook formats (Kindle, etc.) as well.

Rafael: Borders. Oh wait.

Onuora: Thanks for your time.

Paul: Thank you!

Rafael: Invoice in the mail, buddy ###

- Eric -

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From: FUBHO2/16/2012 8:53:15 PM
   of 357
It's time for corporate developers to get on board with Metro apps

By InfoWorld Tech Watch
Created 2012-02-16 08:58AM

Every once in a very long while I bump into an online rant that makes so much sense it takes my breath away.

I've mentioned Hal Berenson before [1], in the context of Microsoft ripping out the heart of Windows Phone and replacing it with a MinWin kernel. Berenson, a former general manager and distinguished engineer at Microsoft -- currently running his own company -- has a knack for cutting through the fog and zooming straight to the jugular.

Yesterday Berenson posted a rant entitled " Dear Developer, excuse me while I slap you silly [2]." It's a must-read for every IT developer.

The gist is that developers think they're in the IT driver's seat, but it's an illusion -- one that will come to a very abrupt halt as key VPs start to demand tablet apps for their workers. "[W]hen the VP of retail decides she's handing all 10,000 store associates tablets, you are going to be writing tablet apps. I don't care if you are working in IT, or for a retail system software supplier, you will write tablet apps or be out looking for a job."

Berenson gives a good argument for Metro apps running Windows on ARM [3] as the general-purpose corporate platform. I'm not convinced that will be the preferred corporate approach, but it raises an interesting scenario: "This consumerization of IT [4] thing has been the trend for about five years. Consumers increasingly reject the old experiences in both their personal and work lives. For the 20-something and under crowd, the current Windows desktop experience is about as attractive as the thought of visiting a 19th-century dentist."

If you're a corporate developer, Berenson's rant is well worth reading.

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From: zax2/17/2012 9:11:31 AM
   of 357
Windows 8's Private API - WOA For Developers
Written by Mike James Friday, 17 February 2012 00:00

Third party developers face a problem when it comes to Windows 8 on ARM (WOA). The "MetroTop" - part Metro part desktop apps that run on any ARM-based Windows 8 device rely on an API that is available only to Microsoft. Is this deliberate policy and can it be tolerated?

Back in the early days of Windows it was the case that Microsoft gained and advantage over other programmers by making use of internal APIs. Given the size and complexity of an operating system it seems reasonable that there should be undocumented systems, or rather systems that are not publicly documented. However, it is a very different matter if those undocumented APIs suddenly start being used by the Microsoft application developers. When this happens it is clear that the playing field is far from level.

Back in 2000 Microsoft faced an anti-trust case because of its practice of bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. This was said to disadvantage the competing browsers such as Netscape Navigator and Opera. There was also the accusation that Microsoft was using secret APIs to give Internet Explorer an edge over the rest. Microsoft disputed that it was using secret APIs, but nevertheless they were ordered to separate Windows and Internet Explorer and to make the APIs public. The monitoring of Microsoft's behaviour was extended twice but finally came to an end in May of last year (2011). It is argued that this won't make much difference because of the precedent and because Microsoft doesn't want to go though the experience a second time.

But consider the situation with Windows 8 for a moment and things don't seem quite so simple.

First it is important to know that Windows 8 is like two operating systems spliced together at the Start menu. Windows 8 desktop is like Windows 7 and not much has changed. Windows 8 WinRT/Metro is new and it is the part of the system that is targeting touch platforms. You can create a Windows 8 desktop app using the well-known Win32 API or a WinRT/Metro app using the new API. As long as the hardware you are running things on is x86/64 then everything works. Even on a tablet, as long as it uses an Intel processor, then you get the whole system Desktop and Metro.

The problems start when the hardware is based on an ARM processor - and you can expect most Windows 8 tablets to be based on ARM processors and all Windows Phone 8 systems are going to be ARM-based. Windows On Arm, or WOA, is different from Windows on x86 in that the traditional Desktop/Win32 environment will not be available - only WinRT/Metro apps will run on WOA and hence on most tablets and phones.

If this is where the story ended there would be no problem. There would be some disappointment that WOA didn't run desktop apps but everything would be simple and on ARM machines Windows 8 would be WinRT/Metro only. However Microsoft is planning to make a selection of desktop apps available including IE10. These apps will use APIs not available to standard WinRT/Metro apps and will be a sort of cross between the a Metro and a Desktop app - a "MetroTop" app - and this is where the problem lies.

Back in the anti-trust days Microsoft denied using secret APIs but now, just a few months after the supervision has ended we have Microsoft making public that its own ARM apps are using secret APIs that aren't available to the rest of us. MetroTop apps run at a different privilege level and can do things that Metro style apps can't . So when Mozilla, Google and Opera come to port their browsers to WOA they will be disadvantaged because they can only create pure Metro style apps.

Mozilla is already speculating on how to create a more full-functioned browser that can go head to head with IE10 and it is also clear that Microsoft isn't providing any clues.

However, the same argument applies not only to browsers but to all of the other apps that Microsoft might make available in MetroTop form. For example, will LibreOffice be given details of the secret APIs to port its office suite to compete with Microsoft Office on WOA? And what about the rest of us?

It is bad enough that Microsoft is going to play the role of gatekeeper when it comes to WOA applications - as all WinRT apps have to be installed from the Windows 8 market place - but to keep a whole section of that market for themselves is plain wrong.

There could well be technical reasons why Microsoft isn't keen on allowing the details of the MetroTop API out into the wide world. It might well be that converting the Win32 API to ARM is very messy and best kept hidden, but to use it internally and deny others access is a return to the ways of the evil empire, even if unintentionally.

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To: zax who wrote (61)2/18/2012 11:56:58 AM
From: Eric L
1 Recommendation   of 357
Windows 8 Metro/Desktop ('MetroTop'): WOA, Secret APIs, Evil Empires and Suchwhat ...

Third party developers face a problem when it comes to Windows 8 on ARM (WOA). The "MetroTop" - part Metro part desktop apps that run on any ARM-based Windows 8 device rely on an API that is available only to Microsoft. Is this deliberate policy and can it be tolerated? ... There could well be technical reasons why Microsoft isn't keen on allowing the details of the MetroTop API out into the wide world. It might well be that converting the Win32 API to ARM is very messy and best kept hidden, but to use it internally and deny others access is a return to the ways of the evil empire, even if unintentionally. - I-Programmer, 17 February -


Your yesterday post to this board points up a potentially controversial aspect of Win8 WOA. In that post you highlighted and reembeded the link to a Tuesday I-Programmer article by Ian Elliot titled "Mozilla Plans Metro Firefox For Windows 8" ...

That linked article contains a link to a MozillaWiki for a proposed Windows 8 Metro-specific Gecko based Firefox browser that would be integrated with the Metro environment bringing all of the Gecko capabilities to the new environment with the assumption that the proposed browser would run "as a Medium integrity app so that it can access all of the win32 Firefox Gecko libraries avoiding a port to the new WinRT API for the bulk of existing code" ...

There is an even earlier I-Programmer article from last Saturday that should be read to paint a more complete but still foggy picture of issues attendant ...

>> Windows 8 For ARM Is Something New

Alex Armstrong
Saturday, 11 February 2012

... <snip> ... you can still create any apps you want for the Windows desktop. but these won't run on WOA or any Windows 8 tablet based on an ARM processor. The only desktop apps that will be available on WOA will be specially constructed by Microsoft and its partners... <snip rest>.

Paul Thurrott. the coauthor of "Windows 8 Secrets" rather commonsensibly "steps back", sums things up, and suggests we "stop trying to read between the lines of Microsoft's obtuse public declarations, and think about what Microsoft is really doing with Windows on ARM rather than overthnking issues at this stage ...

>> Windows 8 Secrets: Understanding WOA

Paul Thurrott
Supersite for Windows
Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sometimes, even the simplest of generalities makes sense. The trouble is, in our search for higher meaning, we often overlook the most obvious truths of all.

With that in mind, I wanted to step back for a second, stop trying to read between the lines of Microsoft's obtuse public declarations, and think about what it is that the software giant is really doing with Windows on ARM, or WOA.

And really, it's very simple: WOA is for consumers and x86/x64-based PCs are for business.

Now, chances are, you're thinking one of two things. The first goes something like, duh Paul, obviously. The second one involves poking holes in this statement as is finding a loophole will somehow disprove the rule.

But don't be pedantic. And while I realize this doesn't make for much of an epiphany, it really is that simple.

As you know, Microsoft will have two different user experiences in Windows 8, the new Metro-style UI that's defined by WinRT, the Start screen, and Metro style apps, and the classic Windows desktop, with its Win32-based Explorer applications. These user experiences are discrete and different, and moving between them is jarring. There's no seamless integration between them either: You can't, for example, take advantage of WinRT Contracts from a classic desktop application. They're essentially two separate environments, to the user.

So with a WOA-based device, the primary user experience is going to be Metro, with its friendly and simple touch-first UI. The desktop will be secondary and used less frequently. You know, in general.

With an x86/x64-based PC, the general overall experience will be reversed: Mostly the desktop, with just some Metro. That may change over time, and there are always exceptions--and edge cases, like desktop PCs with touch screens--but stay on target, people. We're speaking generally here.

And let's be clear, WOA-based devices are indeed devices. They're designed as sealed environments, with third party desktop application development and deployment purposefully prevented so as not to muddy the waters. If you as a developer wants to target this new generation of devices, you need to go Metro. Period. If you as a user want to find and buy new apps, you go to the Windows Store. And you get Metro apps.

There will be exceptions from a usage perspective, like the WOA slate devices that come with clip-on keyboards or hybrid laptops with flip-around screens. But the people who use such devices are as versatile as are these types of devices. That is, few people really just a consumer or just a business user. Instead, we move in and out of these personas over the course of the day. So will such devices.

For consuming entertainment, light web browsing, email, and Facebook interaction, a slate-type WOA device will be just fine. And yes, that's enough even for some people in a work environment. But for much actual work, including content creation, a keyboard and precision pointing device (mouse/keyboard) will be required. Need a legacy Windows application? You need a real PC, not a WOA device.

Metro targets the consumer end nicely, and we already know that the classic desktop works well for business/content creation use. There will be pure WOA devices, with no keyboard or mouse. There will be WOA devices with clip-on or Bluetooth accessories. There will be laptops and desktops with touch screens. System on a Chip (SoC) designs based on Intel platforms. All kinds of things that hit the gray areas. I get it.

But speaking generally, those devices that expand beyond what I call a pure WOA device (i.e. thin and light slates) aren't devices anymore, they're PCs. And when you use a device like that, your use of traditional desktop applications will likely increase. When you don't, when you just use a WOA slate as you would an iPad, it's just a device, and you will stick largely to Metro.

If I could head off into speculation land a bit, I think one could make a case for Microsoft branding its WOA-based systems as being some form of Windows Home Edition while its x86/x64-based offering could be in the Professional Edition camp (or whatever). This not only ties nicely into long-running branding norms for Windows, but it also neatly differentiates the two versions. You want to work? You can sort of do it with Home Edition, sure, but if you're serious, you're really going to want to go with Professional.

Consumer vs. work. Home vs. business. Consumption vs. content creation. However you break it down, the message is still the same. WOA is for the former, and x86/x64 PCs are for the latter. Again, generally speaking.

I know, I know. It's almost too simple. But sometimes it's better not to overthink things.

WOA is for consumers and x86/x64-based PCs are for business. ###

Rather obviously Microsoft gains a theoretical advantage over competing iOS or Android based slates by bringing full fledged versions of Office and IE 10 desktop applications to market with Win8 WOA. They'll need it since both iOS and Android are already well entrenched in a nascent but rapidly growing market that they currently don't compete in. I suspect that eventually Microsoft will enable others (probably very select others) to bring alternatives (the Mozilla Firefox & Office Libre projects, e.g.) to do likewise but I also suspect it would simply bog them down at the moment.

- Eric -

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To: Eric L who wrote (62)2/18/2012 2:23:06 PM
From: waitwatchwander
   of 357
That was a good Thurow article (pun intended). It certainly hit many of the points I've been considering lately. A key ingredient to Win8 adoption within business (which I suspect is a key target market of Microsoft) is integration between tablets and current server based applications. On this front, tablets so far have mostly been an extension of the consumption apps that initially got developed on the desktop (ie browsers, media players, document readers - PDF , etc). Integration of those with the desktop and internet (now cloud) is what made those efforts so successful.

If Win8 is to be as successful as existing products it will need to bring such speedy transition capabilities to the corporate applications of today. Like with destops, extension of database and browser technologies towards tablet GUI's seems logical. One doesn't hear a lot about the story from that perspective. It will be most interesting to see what development tools come forth to address those matters. That part of the exercise doesn't have much pizzaz though.

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To: FUBHO who wrote (60)2/18/2012 4:21:28 PM
From: zax
2 Recommendations   of 357
You now have a logo for the thread header... :)

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To: Eric L who wrote (62)2/18/2012 11:51:57 PM
From: Eric L
1 Recommendation   of 357
Paul Thurrott: WOA & NT Goodness

"With WOA, it's NT all over again. And yes, that's a good thing. A very good thing indeed." -PT -

>> With WOA, It's Windows NT All Over Again

Paul Thurrott
Supersite for Windows
February 14, 2012

Gather 'round the camp fire, guys, it's story time. And tonight's story is a tale of redemption, a story 'bout the greatest OS ever made, a sad stretch in the wilderness, and its rebirth this year as a champion of a new generation of devices. Yes, folks, I'm talking about Windows NT. And it's back, baby.

Twenty long years ago, Microsoft raided the near-corpse of the struggling minicomputer maker DEC, taking, among other things, Dave Cutler and a cadre of his closest friends and coworkers. Cutler was frustrated when DEC cancelled the microkernel-based OS he was working on, and Microsoft offered the cure: a chance to design its own next-generation OS, called NT (for New Technology).

Early NT versions were based on OS/2 because of Microsoft's then-partnership with IBM, but with that friendship faltering as DOS/Windows took off, NT became Windows NT, eventually adopting the same look and feel as DOS-based versions of Windows.

Though similar looking, NT was a radical departure from Windows. It was designed to be platform agnostic, for starters, and early versions targeted Alpha, MIPS, and PowerPC platforms in addition to the more common Intel x86 chipset used in mainstream PCs. It was a fully 32-bit OS from the get-go, with none of the weird memory management issues of DOS/Windows, and it was well-designed, and componentized into logical subsystems.

For years, Microsoft developed DOS/Windows and NT concurrently but separately, with the former generally targeting consumers and the latter addressing the workstation and then general-purpose business market. NT always came in both client and server versions, with the latter moving upmarket very quickly and usurping expensive UNIX-based servers as the mainstream platform for business and then data center computing.

Eventually, of course, things changed, as they must. Over time, the cross-platform prowess of NT fell by the wayside as supported architectures fell out of favor in the marketplace. This allowed Microsoft to improve the performance of the underlying system -- often by using low-level, platform-dependent code -- and its compatibility with DOS/Windows applications, services, and drivers.

With DOS/Windows too insecure and fragile to form the basis of its future computing platform, Microsoft worked then to make NT more accessible and acceptable for consumers. First, the NT branding was removed in Windows 2000 -- a decision I still feel weird about -- and then the DOS/Windows line was killed off forever in Windows XP, which featured both consumer and business versions but was based fully on the NT code base.

Since then, NT -- sorry, "Windows" -- has had good times (Windows 7) and bad (Windows Vista), but it's the stuff that happened below the surface that matters more to me. Not surprisingly, NT creator Dave Cutler played a big role in what is arguably the most important PC-related change in the past decade when he backed AMD's supposedly unsophisticated x64 platform over Intel's Itanium. The result was a cataclysmic shift for the industry, and today all of the PCs we use are in fact based on this 64-bit environment. The changeover was so seamless, few seemed to even notice.

On the bad news front, NT was compromised by the arbitrary addition of Internet Explorer into its core code base, a marketing decision that landed Microsoft in antitrust hot water but more importantly also triggered years of after-the-fact bug and security fixes that we're still reeling from today. And with Windows/NT just running on x86/x64 platforms for basically a decade now (I'll ignore the Itanium holdout stuff just as customers did), it's been fine-tuned to run best on that one system, a far cry from NT's early cross-platform days.

Today, however, NT is on the rebound. And ironically, with Dave Cutler off doing mysterious work on the next Xbox after a stint with Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud-based OS, we have a most unusual outsider to thank.

That outsider, of course, is Apple.

In 2010, Apple surprised virtually no one by releasing the iPad, a device that is essentially an iPod touch with a 10-inch screen. The iPad doesn't seem like a big deal on paper, but as with all truly great ideas, what really happened is quite a bit different from what the pundits -- including, yes, yours truly -- expected. You see, the iPad has been an incredible success. And it's touched off a computing renaissance in which consumers are flocking to these simpler devices or more complex PCs.

iPads aren't less expensive than PCs -- the average selling price of a laptop computer right now is about $450, below the starting price of the iPad, which runs from $500 to $830 -- and this in no small way contributed to a broad misunderstanding of how successful the device would be. But iPads are significantly simpler than PCs. And the key bit is that, for most people, they do everything expected of a more complex PC, but in a friendlier, touch-centric way.

Microsoft isn't stupid. Seeing the impact the iPad was having in the market -- it quickly killed off the market for low-end netbook computers and is currently starting to eat into traditional PC and Mac sales -- the software giant began considering how it could adapt Windows, based on the ever-versatile NT code base -- to combat the iPad. And the solution it came up with looks like a winner. More to the point, it signals a resurgence in what makes NT great. Or, as I think of it, what makes NT, NT.

In the waning days of Windows 7 development, Microsoft decided it would once again open up Windows to cross-platform development and port its next OS, Windows 8, to ARM. That version of Windows 8, called Windows on ARM or WOA, will be specially tuned to run well on iPad-like tablets that are thin and light and inexpensive. But they'll offer the full Windows 8 user experience, with the new Metro-style Start screen and a limited Explorer desktop for file and task management, device interoperability, and the desktop versions of Internet Explorer 10 and Office 15, both of which will come for free with such devices.

You can read more about these developments in my recent article, "WOA! Windows 8 on ARM Revealed." But there are two key points I'd like to make within the context of NT and its legacy. First, the return to a more architecture-independent version (or, in the case of ARM, versions) of Windows is exciting and necessary, and it better positions this system for future evolutions that we can't yet imagine. Though he's working on Xbox vNext somewhere in a secret location right now, I bet Mr. Cutler smiles a bit to himself whenever he considers this most welcome change.

Second, some of the changes in WOA -- or what critics would call limitations -- are in fact consistent with Microsoft's long-standing policy of removing legacy technologies and features from Windows when it makes sense to do so. And shedding this technological deadwood is also healthy for the platform. For example, as we moved from x86 (32-bit) to x64 (64-bit) PCs, we lost some legacy deadwood in the form of 16-bit code and driver compatibility, all while gaining better inherent security. With ARM-based WOA systems, a similar change is occurring. And where Microsoft giveth, it also taketh away.

The big bit, of course, is what's missing. And it's a doozie: Although WOA devices will include the legacy desktop, no current x86/x64 software applications or utilities can be ported to this new platform, ever. Microsoft will only allow new Metro-style apps, from itself and third parties, as well as the aforementioned built-in desktop applications, which including IE 10 and Office 15. That's it.

But what we gain in the transition is simpler, smaller, cleaner, and more efficient. WOA systems will be smaller and lighter than Intel-type devices and will offer better battery life. ARM makers insist they'll be cheaper, too. And the resulting Windows 8 devices will be more easily supported because they won't suffer from the wellspring of security problems that have dogged PCs for years. Sure, you can't port that LOB app to WOA. But you also can't port viruses or malware.

The best news is that we'll have choices. In cases where a full-feature PC or device with backward compatibility is required, there will be tons of Intel-compatible Windows 8 PCs from which to choose. But if you can do without the backward compatibility stuff, you'll be rewarded with a superior system that brings the best of both worlds: the style and grace of the iPad combined with the manageability of the Windows 8 environment.

WOA is possible only because of Windows' inherent NT-ness, a lingering advantage that many users either never knew about or forgot about altogether. But with WOA, it's NT all over again. And yes, that's a good thing. A very good thing indeed. ###

- Eric -

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From: Eric L2/19/2012 10:15:32 AM
   of 357
We Just Don't Know!

Windows Weekly 248: In the latest episode of the Windows Weekly Podcast, Leo Laporte Mary Jo Foley, and Paul Thurrotte spend 1 hour and 11 minutes chit chating, discussing lingering questions in the wake of Microsoft's WOA revelations, why tech analysts, pundits, and enthusiasts are so often in the dark about Microsoft's plans these days, more Windows 8 news, some Windows Phone "Tango" (Tango 1; Tango 2; ['Tango and Cash') leaks and rumors, and Office 2010 University Edition.

The theme of this weeks podcast is 'We Just Don't Know!' and if Paul and Mary Jo don't know what's really coming and when it's coming, or if it's coming, or why it is or isn't coming in Win 8 then nobody outside of Redmond knows, and very possibly nobody in Redmond actually knows either.

What The Tech (Saturday, February 18, 2012): In this week's podcast Andrew Zarian and Paul Thurrott spend an hour continuing their discussion of Windows on ARM. Will we see WOA laptops? Paul also goes into more detail about Windows 8 and the new Metro interface. How will Metro differ between consumer and enterprise use. Google gets official approval to buy Motorola Mobility. Paul explains what he thinks Google should do with Motorola. Rumors keep flying out about the next gen iPad. Should Apple make a smaller version? Andrew and Paul discuss how new Windows 8 tablets could affect the iPad. How much will Windows 8 tablets cost? And Andrew brings up Apple’s labor issues in China.

- Eric -

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