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From: zax2/17/2012 9:11:31 AM
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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
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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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From: zax2/22/2012 10:05:29 AM
   of 357
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Microsoft and Apple Taking Different Roads to the Same Future

Long-time readers of Windows IT Pro UPDATE will recall my simplistic mantra about the future of computing: It's highly mobile and highly connected. But recent moves from the leading OS vendors suggest that this isn't just a pat saying. Instead, both Microsoft and Apple agree on this one thing: It's a strategy.

What's interesting is that these two companies have chosen to arrive at the same destination by going in separate directions.

Microsoft, the more well-understood of the two strategically, is busy working to get Windows 8 out the door, and the next milestone of that OS, the so-called Consumer Preview, is due next week. With Windows 8, Microsoft is using a touch-centric UI called Metro across all its major platforms -- including Windows client, of course, but also Windows Server, Windows Phone, and the Xbox -- providing them with a sense of cohesiveness and single user experience identity.

Technically, of course, these platforms are still somewhat separate, but with NT guru Dave Cutler working on Xbox vNext, as I discussed last week in " With WOA, It's Windows NT All Over Again," one naturally wonders whether the major dissimilarities are coming to an end. (The merging of Windows and Windows Phone will pretty much be finalized in the Windows 8 wave, as I discussed in " Windows Phone in 2012.")

But honestly, the technical similarities between these systems (or lack thereof) are almost incidental. And that's because regardless of the underpinnings, these systems will all look and work similarly. The Metro UI came first not from Windows but from Windows Phone, and although it will be overhauled as needed to meet the needs of desktop Windows somewhat, it's a mobile user experience at heart. It begs to be touched and will work best with mobile devices, such as tablets and laptops, and their unholy offspring, touch-capable hybrid laptops.

Conceptually, the interesting thing about Windows 8 is that Microsoft has evolved its desktop toolset in very minor ways but has made major changes that reflect a growing market for highly mobile, general-purpose computing devices. (Read: Things that look like but are in fact not iPads.) This is a big bet, and the hope is that consumers who are excited by Windows 8 on iPad-like slate devices will then want Windows Phones as well. I believe this will be a big deal, but that’s for the future to decide.

Apple, meanwhile, surprised everyone who's been paying attention to the company by announcing last week that it would rev its Mac OS X system by the end of the summer, less than a year after the previous release. That's amazing because the previous two OS X versions, called Snow Leopard and Lion, were both two years in the making.

Some believe, as I do, that the next OS X release, called Mountain Lion, is a reaction to Windows 8, at least from a timing perspective. (And kudos to Apple for almost certainly being able to beat Windows 8 to market.) But if you look at the Mountain Lion feature set, one thing is very obvious: Mountain Lion is a simple continuation of the iPad-ification of OS X that started in Lion. That is, it's the second straight OS X release that's focused almost solely on bringing iOS features to Apple's legacy desktop OS.

iOS, of course, is itself an offshoot of OS X, one that was originally designed specifically for the iPhone, the first iOS device and the one that kicked off Apple's current market dominance in highly mobile consumer electronics devices. (The iPod touch and iPad are very clearly just slightly modified versions of the iPhone.)

By bringing user experiences and features from the far more popular iOS to OS X, Apple hopes to further bolster a system that has performed strongly but has never broken the 5 percent market share ceiling worldwide. It makes sense. People love iOS devices, and if Apple can get them moved to the Mac, many will become Apple customers for life.

What's interesting, to me, is that Apple's strategy for arriving at this highly mobile, highly connected future relies on continuing to separately evolve two different OSs, iOS and OS X, while Microsoft seems intent on integrating its separate platforms into a single, Windows-based codebase. Windows everywhere, indeed.

Some guess that Apple will one day combine iOS and OS X into a single OS, and I find that future plausible. In fact, Microsoft's doing it right now with Windows 8. (And kudos to Microsoft for leading, for a change.) Whether Apple eventually goes down this path might depend, somewhat, on how consumers and business users react to having two discrete user experiences -- the touch-happy Metro and the legacy Windows desktop -- in Windows 8. I suspect we'll be able to start opining on that situation soon, with the Consumer Preview, but for now it's an open question.

Regardless of your PC platform of choice, one thing is clear. They're both about to be injected with a spate of mobility-inspired technologies and user experiences that will further blur the lines between what we think of today, separately, as PCs and devices. And although I feel this future is inevitable, there are apparently a few different ways to get there.

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From: Eric L2/22/2012 10:22:02 AM
   of 357
Win8 Language Expansion

Microsoft on Tuesday revealed that it will expand the number of supported display languages in Windows 8 by 14, bringing the total to 109. This, the company says, will provide a native language version of Windows for over 4.5 billion people. The most notable addition, curiously, is UK English: Previously these users had to "make do" with US English, Microsoft notes. - Paul Thurott -

>> Using the Language You Want

Steven Sinofsky
Building Windows 8
21 Feb 2012 12:01 AM

With Windows 8, we’ve changed how we think about languages from a "local-market feature" to a "feature for everyone everywhere," and have made it a priority for you to be able to work in any language you want, from any Windows 8 PC. If you can’t read the text that Windows presents to you, you can’t use Windows to its fullest potential. That’s why we are so excited to bring powerful, easy-to-use language features to more users than ever in Windows 8. In some countries, people can purchase PCs with a variety of languages preinstalled. With Windows 8, users will be able install additional display languages beyond those preinstalled languages. This means that the language of the PC no longer needs to be a major consideration when deciding on which model to buy. If the language you want is not preinstalled on the PC you like, you can now install the one you want. ... <snip rest: see full text at link above> ###

- Eric -

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From: zax2/23/2012 8:45:06 AM
   of 357
Microsoft readies final Windows 8 Consumer Preview build 8250
By Tom Warren on February 23, 2012 08:03 am

Microsoft is on the verge of signing off the final version of its Windows 8 Consumer Preview. That is the word from a number of sources who tell us that the company has stopped compiling beta builds of Windows 8. The final build will be signed off officially on Friday and is expected to be numbered 8250.

Microsoft will unveil its Windows 8 Consumer Preview work during a special event at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona next Wednesday. We are told that the company will release the preview to the public at the beginning of the event, which kicks off at 3PM CET (9AM ET). Build 8250 includes a number of preinstalled games and applications, as well as the new Windows 8 logo. Microsoft has also removed the traditional Start button orb in build 8250, replacing it with the new logo on the charms bar. We will be reporting live from Microsoft's MWC event, so stay tuned for the full details on Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

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From: zax2/23/2012 9:54:46 PM
2 Recommendations   of 357
Microsoft to launch Visual Studio 11 beta on Feb. 29
John Callaham

Wednesday, February 29 is turning out to be a bigger day for Microsoft than first thought. The company had already announced it would launch the Consumer Preview version of Windows 8 on that day. Now Microsoft has announced it will launch the beta version of two more software products on that same day, including the beta for Visual Studio 11.

Technically Visual Studio 11 is a code name for what Microsoft will likely call Visual Studio 2012 when the final version is released. The software development tool will have a number of new features. In fact one of those features is actually something of a reduction. The tools eliminate the use of color in the graphics "except in cases where color is used for notification or status change purposes."

Visual Studio 11 also cuts down on the number of commands that appear on the default version of the program's user interface. It also has improved search features, adds Preview Tabs and uses what Microsoft calls workflow hubs to allow developers to work on programs via a single window. It's not a shock to hear that Visual Studio 11 supports Windows 8.

Microsoft will also launch the beta version of .NET Framework 4.5 on Wednesday which has a number of additional features as well as performance improvements.

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