Supporting sensors in Windows 8


Recent advances in sensor technology are catalysts for the acceleration and evolution of user experiences on PCs. The ability to react to changes in ambient light, motion, human proximity, and location are becoming common and essential elements of the computing experience. Even something simple—like an ambient light sensor to adjust display brightness in a room with changing light—is potentially a basic scenario for desktop PCs. Of course, we also want to make sure you have full control over the use of these peripherals, since we know that different sensors leave open opportunities for risk or abuse that some folks might not be comfortable with. This post looks at the details of supporting sensors in Windows 8 and was authored by Gavin Gear, a PM on the Device Connectivity team.
–Steven


The first thing we explored about sensors was how Windows 8 should use them at the system level, to adapt the PC to the environment while preserving battery life.

Adaptive brightness

The first system feature was automatic display brightness control, or what we call “adaptive brightness.” This was a feature that we first introduced in Windows 7 using ambient light sensors (ALS), and is targeted at mobile form factors like slates, convertibles, and laptops. With today’s display panels supporting brightness levels at approximately twice the intensity of what was common just a few years ago, this feature is more important than ever. By dynamically controlling screen brightness based on changing ambient light conditions, we can optimize the level of reading comfort, and save battery life when the screen is dimmed in darker environments.

Screen shows reflections but is still readable Screen almost entirely obscured by reflections on tablet surface

A tablet PC in harsh outdoor lighting with adaptive brightness (left), and without (right)

You can see here that adaptive brightness helps you see content on the screen more clearly, since the screen automatically gets brighter when the tablet enters a bright environment. And for those of you who use your desktop PCs in a sunny room, you know this same thing can happen at different times of the day in different seasons.

Automatic screen rotation

Many smartphones and other mobile devices have established the expectation that when you rotate the device, the graphic display will also rotate and adapt to the new orientation (including adapting to aspect ratio changes). Data from an accelerometer allows the device to determine its basic orientation. By automatically rotating the screen, people can use their devices (primarily slates and convertibles) in a more natural and intuitive way, without needing to manually rotate the screen with software controls or hardware buttons.

Windows 8 Start screen on a tablet PC held horizontally Windows 8 Start screen on a tablet PC held vertically

Windows 8 Start screen in landscape and portrait orientations

Developer support for sensors

Beyond figuring out the basics for how a Windows 8 system might use sensors, we also needed to think about how apps might use sensors. We looked at a variety of examples of sensor-enabled apps including games, commercial applications, tools, and utilities, to help us determine which scenarios to support.

First on the list was the ability for apps to understand motion and screen rotation. This requires an accelerometer – a device that can be used to measure the force due to gravity, and the motion of the device itself. But most scenarios require more than just an understanding of motion and gravity. Orientation is also an important requirement for many applications. To enable a PC to understand orientation we needed to integrate the functionality of a compass.

Supporting a compass would at minimum require a 3D accelerometer (which measures acceleration on three axes) and a 3D magnetometer (which measures magnetic field strengths on 3 axes). This combination of sensors is called a 6-axis motion and orientation sensing system, and can support a basic tilt-compensated compass, screen rotation, and certain casual game apps like a labyrinth style game. However, in our testing and prototyping, we found the 6-axis motion sensing system has two key drawbacks: sporadic compass inaccuracy, and a lack of the responsiveness required by 3D interactive games.

Recently, a new type of sensor has started to emerge on phone platforms – the gyro sensor. Gyro sensors measure angular speed, typically along 3 axes. You can also use the data from gyro sensors to increase the responsiveness and accuracy of 3D motion-sensing systems. A gyro sensor is very sensitive, but it lacks any form of orientation reference (such as gravity or north heading).

This diagram shows how gyro data is represented as a set of three rotations along the three primary axes for the device:

Yaw has +Z rotation, Roll has +Y rotation, and Pitch has +X rotation

Initially, some thought that the need for such sensors was scoped to very few apps, such as specialized games. But the more we examined the 3D motion and orientation sensing problem, the more we realized that applications are much more immersive and attractive if they react to the kind of motion humans can easily understand, such as shakes, twists, and rotations in multiple dimensions. With these kinds of sensors it would certainly be possible to build very immersive 3D games, but it would also enable lots of other apps to more naturally respond to input from a variety of motions, including mapping and navigation applications, measuring utilities, interactive (between two machines) applications, and simple apps like casual games.

Engineering challenges

We started our exploration into motion apps by prototyping some 3D experiences. The first challenge was to map the physical orientation of the device directly to a virtual 3D environment in the app. We decided to model a simple augmented reality experience by emulating a tablet as a window into a virtual world. The concept was fairly simple: when you move the device while looking at the screen, the virtual environment (the inside of a room) would appear to stay stationary.

Initially, we tried an experiment using the accelerometer to map up and down movement of the device to up and down movement of the 3D environment in response. When you hold the device still, the scene should remain stable. When you tilt the device, the view should tilt up or down. Right away we encountered an issue: “noise” in the data from the accelerometer sensor was causing jittery movement of the 3D environment even when the device was held stationary. We were able to see this noise clearly by capturing accelerometer data and charting it.

Acceleration X is a jagged line near 0; Acceleration Y is a jagged line near 0; Acceleration Z is a jagged line near -1

Without noise, the lines on the chart would be straight, with no vertical deviation. The conventional way to remove such noise is to apply a low-pass filter to the raw data stream. When we implemented this mitigation in our prototype, the resultant motion was smooth and stable (jitter-free). But the low-pass filter introduced another problem: the app lost responsiveness and felt sluggish when responding to motion. We needed a way to compensate for this jitter without reducing responsiveness.

The next experiment was to provide the ability to “look left” and “look right” in our virtual 3D environment app. We used a 6-axis compass solution (3D accelerometer + 3D magnetometer) to support this type of movement. Although this kind of worked, the movement was not consistent due to the general instability of the 6-axis compass. It was also challenging to blend the up-and-down movement with the left-and-right movement.

From these experiments it was clear that this combination of sensors could not provide the fluid and responsive experience we wanted. The accelerometer sensor was not providing clean data, and could not be used alone to determine device orientation. The magnetometer was slow to update and was susceptible to electromagnetic interference (think of a compass needle that sticks in one position occasionally). We had yet to experiment with the gyro sensors, but because gyros could only determine rotational speed, it wasn’t clear how they could help.

Creating “sensor fusion”

But further experimentation demonstrated that using all three sensors together could solve the problem. It turns out that an accelerometer, magnetometer, and a gyro can complement each-other’s weaknesses, effectively filling in gaps in data and data responsiveness. Using a combination of these sensors it is possible to create a better, more responsive, and more fluid experience than the sensors can provide individually. Combining the input of multiple sensors to produce better overall results is a process we call sensor fusion.

Essentially, sensor fusion is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. A typical sensor fusion system uses a 3D accelerometer, a 3D magnetometer, and a 3D gyro to create a combined “9-axis sensor fusion” system. To understand how this system works, let’s take a look at the inputs and outputs.

Hardware (3D Accelerometer, 3D Gyrometer, 3D Magnetometer) with arrows pointing to "Pass-through" and "Sensor Fusion", and arrows from these go to Sensor Outputs (3D Accelerometer, 3D Gyrometer, 3D Compass, 3D Inclinometer, Device Orientation)
9-axis sensor fusion system

This diagram shows two types of outputs: pass-through outputs in which the sensor data is passed directly to an application, and sensor fusion outputs in which the sensor data is synthesized into more powerful data types.

Some applications can use pass-through sensor data directly. This data can be used at “face value” for a variety of scenarios. One such scenario is an app that implements a pedometer to count your steps as you walk. The graph below shows the output of the accelerometer for a person walking with a tablet PC. This graph clearly shows it is possible to detect every step the person took.

Acceleration X, Acceleration Y and Acceleration Z shown as lines on chart with regular variation which represents the movement from each step the user takes.

 

But, as our experiments revealed, many applications can’t effectively use the raw sensor data. Some of these applications include:

  • Compass apps
  • Enhanced navigation and augmented reality apps
  • Casual games
  • 3D gaming apps

Here’s a screenshot from a 3D game sample:

Simple 3D Game with targets shown in a simulated 3D room

3D first-person shooter game (shown at //Build/)

These applications need to use sensor fusion data in order to support the features they implement. The “magic” of sensor fusion is to mathematically combine the data from all three sensors to produce more sophisticated outputs, including a tilt-compensated compass, an inclinometer (exposing yaw, pitch, and roll), and more advanced representations of device orientation. With this kind of data, more sophisticated apps can produce fast, fluid, and responsive reactions to natural motions.

By integrating a sensor fusion solution, Windows 8 provides a complete solution for the full range of applications. Sensor fusion in Windows solves the problems of jittery movement and jerky transitions, reduces data integrity issues, and provides data that allows a seamless representation of full device motion in 3D space (without any awkward transitions).

Working with hardware partners

While designing a sensor fusion solution for Windows, we also needed to help hardware designers to take advantage of this solution by partnering with them early. Designing a sensor fusion system is relatively easy if you’re designing a single device. But Windows runs on many kinds of PCs in many form factors, using hardware components from many different manufacturers. We needed to provide a solution that enabled the entire ecosystem of Windows hardware partners to participate.

The first step was to provide a baseline of performance for sensor packages that would work with Windows’ sensor fusion solution. Using Windows certification guidelines, we provided specifications for sensor performance. To help hardware companies verify that their solutions were compatible with Windows, we built a number of tests, which we provide with the Windows Certification kit.

Reducing the cost of developing and supporting drivers was another challenge. In order to make it simpler for sensor hardware manufacturers and PC makers, we wrote a single Microsoft-supplied driver that would work with all Windows-compatible sensor packages connected over USB and even lower power busses like I2C. This sensor class driver enables hardware companies to innovate with sensor hardware while ensuring that their hardware can be supported easily with drivers that ship with the Windows operating system.

To help speed adoption of the class driver, Microsoft worked with industry partners to introduce the specification into public standards. In July 2011 the standard for sensors was introduced in the HID (Human Interface Device) specification of the USB-IF (HID spec version 1.12, introduced with review request #39). This standardization enables any sensor company to build a sensor package that is compatible with Windows 8 by following the public standard USB-IF specifications for compliant device firmware. This reduces the time and cost required to integrate sensor hardware with Windows 8 PCs. Other benefits include a lower support cost and more consistent hardware capabilities for Windows 8 PCs that are equipped with sensors.

But beyond standardizing the class driver, we also wanted to optimize the performance of the sensor fusion solution, and minimize its impact on battery life. Each active sensor on a system draws power, and sending data up the stack consumes both memory and CPU time. We helped minimize the power and performance impact for sensor fusion systems running on Windows 8 in two major ways:

1. We architected the sensor fusion interfaces in Windows 8 to enable much of the processing of sensor fusion data to happen at the hardware level. This hardware-level sensor fusion capability means that computationally expensive algorithms don’t have to run on the main CPU, saving power and CPU cycles.

2. We implemented powerful filtering mechanisms that we tied directly to the needs of sensor apps running at any given point in time. This pay-for-play data and event model means that sensor data is only sent up the stack at the rate that apps need that data, and no faster. This results in greatly reduced CPU utilization for sensor data throughput.

Sensors and Metro style apps

To pull all of this together, our final challenge was to make the power and promise of sensor fusion available to those writing Metro style apps. To enable this, we designed a sensor API as part of the new WinRT. Through these APIs, developers can access the power of sensor fusion from any Metro style app. These APIs are clean and simple, and at the same time give developers access to the data needed to support everything from casual games to virtual reality applications. Of course these capabilities are all available as Win32 APIs for game developers or other uses in desktop applications.

The following JavaScript code snippet shows how easy it is to get access to an accelerometer and subscribe to events using the Windows Runtime:

var accelerometer;
accelerometer = Windows.Devices.Sensors.Accelerometer.getDefault();
accelerometer.addEventListener("readingchanged",onAccReadingChanged);

function onAccReadingChanged(e) {
var accelX = e.reading.accelerationX;
var accelY = e.reading.accelerationY;
var accelZ = e.reading.accelerationZ;
}

For more information about support for sensors in the Windows Runtime, please see this //build/ session on using location & sensors in your app.

You may be wondering at this point how you can try out sensor fusion on Windows 8, or even write some apps that use these new capabilities. Developers who attended the //build/ conference in 2011 received the Samsung Windows 8 Developer Preview slate PC, which included a full package of sensors. There were only about 4,000 of those given out, so of course, not everyone had the opportunity to get one. The good news is that the same 9-axis sensor fusion system that was built into the Windows Developer Preview device is now available online for purchase from ST Microelectronics. The “ST Microelectronics eMotion Development Board for Windows 8” (model # STEVAL-MKI119V1) attaches via USB, and works with the HID sensor class driver that’s included in Windows 8. If you’ve downloaded the Developer Preview version of Windows 8 and are itching to try out the sensor experience you should consider getting one of these devices.

Circuit board attached to USB dongle

ST Microelectronics eMotion Development Board for Windows 8

Now let’s take a look at sensor fusion in action!

Download this video to view it in your favorite media player:

High quality MP4 | Lower quality MP4

— Gavin

Comments (74)

  1. MatthiasJ says:

    This sensor fusion is awesome. Can't wait to create apps with it.

  2. Paul from Italy says:

    Very very interesting, keep up the good work 🙂

  3. Programming Thomas says:

    This looks good – Windows has been needing native sensor support for a while so hopefully this will see a gradual move in the hardware industry.

  4. Is Windows Store going to support use of reward points accumulated with Bing Search…? says:

    I like most of services that windows offers to consumers such as search, Zune, xbox live, skype. But I’m not happy with how those services are being charged. For example why do I have to pay $.99 for a song to Att vs paying $.10 (100 bing points) directly to Microsoft so I can listen for only 1 day. I never purchase songs from Zune for $.99 because I’m not sure if I will like it long enough to justify the dollar. Why does it cost .99 anyway, is it not because Zune has to share revenue with Att and pay for transaction costs? It will be much cheaper for Microsoft to use Bing/Xbox live point as its own currency and cut out the middleman for consumer sake. This should be taken even further where I don’t buy a copy of Windows for $99.99 but pay a subscription cost of $5 a month for any one copy of Windows I need/want. The same monthly subscription should be offered to Office customers. The subscription model is the pathway to the Microsoft currency where MSFT points the are used to pay for OS, Office, Phone service, Music, Movies, other hardware (Xbox, Lumia), cable tv…. Is Windows 8 going to make all this available?

  5. More Sensors! says:

    Win8 makers should take a page from the Arduino/Netduino community's playbook. We need more sensors to make cooler apps. We need thermometers, humidity sensors, ultrasonic emitters & detectors, pressure/force sensors, IR sensors & emitters, and the list goes on. Think of the amazing combinations that apps could create!

  6. PhilB says:

    How will the sensors integrate with the app store?  Will the store prevent or warn users about purchasing apps that require sensors that a pc is not equipped with?

  7. SharpGIS says:

    You're forgetting to mention two VERY important facts:

    1. The Sensor Fusion Firmware in the Samsung Build Tablets is broken and useless.

    2. The Orientation API current returns a rotation matrix that is wrong.

    So this means that it's virtually impossible to build anything with this API until beta, and the samsung build tablet won't help you either.

  8. Mike says:

    What is wrong with the term "tablet" that the rest of the industry uses?  The average person probably doesn't even know the term "slate".

  9. jader3rd says:

    Is there a way to configure the adaptive brightness should its sensor being to brake or adaprive brightness begins to run amuck?

  10. @More Sensors!

    Adding all those extra sensors can be expensive, but I agree that there should be an interface and universal driver for including them in Windows. However, I would add to that list RF sensors and emitters, for universal remote applications as well as listening to radio.

  11. Pusher Robot says:

    "I agree that there should be an interface and universal driver for including them in Windows."

    If you read the article (ridiculous, I know) you'll see that in fact MS has developed a USB HID standard to do exactly that.

  12. de@iru.ch says:

    Hope you can add a rotation animation when the screen orientation changes. Obviously that animation should work on the desktop too and without additional code of the app developers.

  13. Mark says:

    Fancy sensor stuff but no usable desktop or interface, when most hardware & software won't even make use of it. Priorities…

  14. Allen says:

    @Mark

    Fancy comment but no usable content or meaning, when most readers won't even listen to trolls. Priorities…

  15. abdo says:

    why they focus just on teblets ……we need to know more about computers (laptops/desktops) and more

    http://www.full-windows8.com/…/Windows%208%20Tutorials

  16. mvadu says:

    @steven, are there any new UI added to manage these sensors? Like sensitivity of light sensor, or accelerometer, etc. If the sensitivity can be controlled I can think of lot uses like stebilized document reader, so even on a bumpy road I can read 🙂

  17. @Steven Sinofsky

    Why is "authored by Gavin Gear" in bold letters at the top of the page? I thought everyone knew that you were not the author of these posts, except for the italic text at the top of the page. Was this assumption not correct?

    On the topic of working with hardware partners, has anyone ever considered the possibility of a sensor-enabled computer monitor, one that could automatically change its orientation when you rotate the display and automatically change its brightness depending on the surrounding light level (such as being brighter during the day and darker in the evening)? Obviously, no one expects to play a game on a desktop PC by moving the monitor, but it would be nice to have a monitor that can quickly change orientations.

  18. sjdh says:

    Sigh yet more proof this is a tablet UI being forced on PC users.

  19. Allen says:

    This stuff is going to be great in an alternate reality where desktops are actually smartphones

  20. sreesiv says:

    Cool stuff, I recommend everyone reading this post to also watch the //Build/ video as well. It is very interesting.

  21. So what about the other sensors like the temperature sensors on my CPU, GPU, hard disks, etc.

    Why can't I view this information from some Windows Control Panel?

  22. Ken Christensen says:

    Great work on finding a real solution to the sensor problem ! Seems like a joy to work with both as a developer and hardware partner. Cant wait to get my hands on the Consumer preview once its released and one of those boards! 🙂

  23. One thing that annoys me is when, for example, I lay down on my side and try to use a tablet, but it determines it's orientation as if I was sitting up. You should add a way to manually fix the orientation.

  24. alvatrus says:

    Please allow the user to disable the adaptive brightness level. This is the last thing you want when editing images or presenting photographs. Especially on a calibrated screen, when you have to trust the colour fidelity.

    Also, in a multi-monitor set-up, don't let the light registered on my dockable slate set the brightness of the fixed monitor.

  25. Don't copy Apple please says:

    Apple iPad has sensors. Don't copy. Windows 8 is just a software copy of the iPad made for similar hardware.

    Bogus.

  26. Dan says:

    To all those still whinging that Windows 8 is just a tablet OS and that articles like this prove the fact – I bet you all had hissy fits when Microsoft introduced native wireless support into Windows, too. I mean, what use is wireless on a desktop? Windows XP is just a glorified laptop OS and has no use on the desktop. Native wireless support proves that point.

    See, it sounds silly when you read it, doesn't it? Just as whinging about support for other form factors makes you sound silly.  Sensors have uses outside of tablet form-factors anyway – but even if they didn't, support for one form-factor does not mean the OS is designed ONLY for that form factor.

    Or do you think Storage Spaces was designed with tablets in mind? (as a very obvious example)

  27. orientationlock says:

    @personak

    So you have not been following the blog/news? Orientation lock slider/button is *compulsory* for Win8 tablet devices as a part of Microsoft requirements for OEMs.

  28. andreuka says:

    Перевел немного на русский здесь windows-8.org.ua

  29. cuqpon says:

    Перевел немного на русский <a href="http://windows-8.org.ua">здесь</a&gt;

  30. Joey says:

    alvatrus: Windows had this capability since Windows 7 (when sensors were introduced). You can easily disable adaptive brightness in the power options. In fact, I did so with my laptop in the past since brightness changes were discrete (10 levels or so and it switched instantaneously). By now (after a firmware upgrade, I think) the changes from adaptive brightness are smooth and unnoticeable.

    I'd alo doubt that you use a calibrated screen in an environment that's subject to drastic changes in brightness 😉

  31. cjacks says:

    dance with your computer, put gyros on your feet, hands and head. The sensors don't have to be embeded in the box. Eventually gymnastics training once responsiveness gets up there.

  32. Mark says:

    Very nice.  It would be even more useful if Windows could support hard real-time apps so that we can really do something with these sensors, rather than just play games.

  33. tablethistory says:

    fan boys please read before posting..

    en.wikipedia.org/…/History_of_tablet_computers

    upload.wikimedia.org/…/2001interview.jpg

    Thank you Gray, Bush, Diamond, Kay, Roddenberry, Kubrick, Pencept, Apple, GRID, Wang, Poqet, Momenta, GO, NCR, Microsoft, Fujitsu, IBM AT&T,Knight Ridder, DEC, Aqcess, PLaceBlade, QBE, Nokia, Samsung, Disney, Axiotron, Archos, HP Asus, Motion Computing, Mobile Command, Fusion Garage, Neofonie, Quadro, bModo, Dixons, Dell, Motorola, RIM, ZTE, Toshiba and last but not least the engineers, programmers and designers who produce the devices.

  34. On the auto-rotate feature, I hope it works better in the beta than it does in the developer preview on the Samsung tablets.  Frequently it gets stuck in portrait orientation, and I have to go to the Screen Resolution control panel to force it back to landscape.  The Rotate lock button is also a real pain–it is too easy to bump!  Since the rotate lock button is a hardware requirement, I suggest also requiring it to be recessed like the power button on the Samsung tablets so it isn’t so easy to hit.

    I almost never want auto-rotate on–partially from the bug I just mentioned, partly because I frequently hold the tablet at odd angles that make the auto-rotate useless anyway.  Unfortunately it is so easy to bump the button and turn it back on again that I am seriously considering sabotaging the button!

  35. While the concept of sensor fusion itself isn't new (desktop Windows is playing catch-up here to Android and iOS), the standardization efforts Microsoft takes (compatibility testing, certification, class driver, USB HID spec) and the power efficient design are both great. Now hopefully the Windows 8 tablets we purchase will have an easy way to tell if they have the 9-axis sensor fusion system.

    I don't find ambient light sensors that useful, I can adjust the brightness accurately myself, no thanks. But motion, temperature, location and human proximity sensors can be pretty useful. Imagine a simple weather app using location and temperature sensors to tell me exactly the temperature not in my city but in my room, or a human proximity sensor providing timely notifications when I return to my device. So this more complete sensor support over Windows 7 is very welcome.

  36. Eric says:

    AWESOME! Can't wait to use this on my desktop, since I often go on the Internet with the lights off at night (bad I know, but I do).

    Of course, also for a tablet. I just hope that there becomes a way to install Windows 8 on existing tablets (I'm not skilled in this area so I don't know how it would be done) or else I'll have to buy a new one. In fact, every day I use my Android tablet I wish it were Windows 8.

    Tablet excitment aside, I also want to see more updates on the power-user (Desktop) side of things. But overall this is looking like a quality product. Even if we're left with a registry hack (or administrator function) to disable Metro on the desktop the benchmark improvements alone warrant a purchase.

  37. Windows7 says:

    There is a hack to get rid of the Metro crap, but it also disables a lot of the features…go figure…

  38. kaushal says:

    hello all,

    just i want to know correntlly availbale window phone which are runing on 7.5, is 7.5 is upgredable with new coming window 8?

  39. Andrew F says:

    Is it me or did that steering wheel seem to tilt right more than left?

  40. Devon says:

    will this functionality be accessible from IE10 or other web browsers?

  41. Rick says:

    Very good, love sensor fusion and I know how hard it is to get it right..

    btw, I noticed that your axis calibration went bananas when you first activated it and even when it seemed to have stabilized it actually didn't 😛 but, other than that, it was great and I believe it to be a great feature..

    keep up the good work..

  42. Eric says:

    @Windows7: I saw posts on that — most of the stuff it killed wasn't desireable to me IIRC. But I'm sure MS will allow the option to go into a Windows 7-esque mode, start bar and all. It may just become the new "Classic" is all.

  43. @gavin I grabbed one of the Samsung Slate PC's from eBay (evidently I'm not one of the people @mike referred to who doesn't know what a slate is), but the firmware won't run demos like you showed because it doesn't give reliable data.   Could you let us know when / how we can get updated firmware like you seem to be running?   If in fact, that is the same baseline as given at build, what's the secret for making this work reliably?

    Also, speaking about battery life, the Samsung Slate probably doesn't implement all the battery life fixes in the firmware, and the //build/ version probaby doesn't have the capabilities of Beta.  In fact, what I've seen is setting the battery settings to SAVE power actually seems to use more on my system.  

    Can we expect our dev slate PC's we are supposed to use will perform a lot better with the Beta in terms of battery life?

    I am looking forward to Windows 8, will get the Beta and report even if I don't hear anything, but just wanted to comment and query you guys.

    Great job putting standards together on these interfaces for the sensors and for the Wireless (from the earlier article).   This is MS++.

    -e

  44. Fullmetal says:

    Will it be able to read data from sensors like the APS Accelerometer featured on the Lenovo W520 for its hard drive shock protection system.

  45. Tang11 says:

    @Eric: seemingly they won't. That's the big problem and why we're all upset. We'll soon find out when the beta is released in a few days.

  46. Dario D. says:

    If you haven't already, please find a solution for this:

    failblog.files.wordpress.com/…/job-fails-monday-thru-friday-only-after-you-print-half-pages-will-you-be-allowed-to-cancel.jpg

    I think most operating systems struggle with this.

  47. LTD says:

    @Dan

    Wireless support was great for desktops, I have friends that didn't have Cat 5 installed when their house was built and wireless allowed them to have internet access downstairs without opening walls.  So no, there was no issue with wireless support for desktops.

    Metro is NOT good for desktops and the majority of feature that were added in windows 8 are BAD for PC users or completely inapplicable.  Call windows 8 is a fine tablet OS, for desktop users it basically breaks what we do today to give us a less efficient experience.  I have a 30” screen and a 27” screen.  DO I really need a calculator to take up a whole screen?  

    If Metro was its own OS and windows 8 was being developed as a PC product with features for the PC (some shared between the) there wouldn’t be an issue. As it is, mouse and keyboard support need to drastically improve (which it well may do), the start screen needs to go, metro apps need to run ina window and we’d be fine with windows 8.

  48. magicalclick says:

    I saw your video with a steering wheel, it looks terrible even with fusion on. Did you guys used any proper compass control in fusion for the horizontal rotation detection?

  49. Kinda off topic but please allow users to choose his/her own Metro start screen wallpaper. I dont like this pattern im seeing of taking customization away from the user. I simply dont want a solid background and their are TONS of wallpapers that would go just fine with it, even with the tiles taking up most of the screen.  I would like you to add a "Browse" option to the style and keep the background color picker. Heres a custom wallpaper that goes extremely well with the Metro look…Im sure theirs millions more.

    5amnkq.sn2.livefilestore.com/…/win8_start_print%202.jpg

  50. GavinGear says:

    Hello everyone- wanted to answer some of the questions that have been asked here related to the motion sensor support in Windows 8.

    If you are trying to develop applications that use sensor fusion with the build that was released at the //BUILD/ conference, you will run into an issue with the OrientationSensor. The in-box driver always returns “0.0” for the “W” component of the quaternion vector. This is fixed in Beta.

    If you use sensor fusion features on the “Samsung Windows Developer Preview” device (the //BUILD/ give-away machine), you will run into hardware related issues with the magnetometer (as someone pointed out, you can see that when the sensor fusion mode is first activated in the video). This is due to magnetometer interference, and is a known issue with this particular machine. Sensor fusion still works, but not to “Beta” or “RTM” level hardware quality like you will see when Windows 8 PCs hit the shelves.

    I also wanted to leave the product page links for the ST-Micro eMotion 9-Axis sensor board that works with Windows 8:

    Arrow Asia: components-asiapac.arrow.com/cart

    Digikey: search.digikey.com/…/dksus.dll

    This hardware can be used to develop applications for Windows 8, but will exhibit the issue with quaternion data on the build released at //BUILD/.

    Thanks,

    Gavin

  51. JoeBwin says:

    AWESOME! No post PC but PN (Personal Network) for personal devices (phone, tablet, laptop etc) with the desktop acting as a server too (more storage, media files, more power, etc) for personal use all using the same OS. This same PN connects with HM (Home Network) with other users and other devices (home theatre systems, Air conditioner systems, electricity and water systems, security systems etc) which then connects to the Global web. We don’t see MSFT doing and making better this kind of thing with windows 8, but just the device and its OS.

    @LTD Says “the start screen needs to go, metro apps need to run ina window and we’d be fine with windows 8.” I agree to this, a program UI must have the opinion to full screen it or run it in a window format, resize the window etc (this feature is very acceptable in tablet like the Samsung 7 series slate even on the desktop maybe not the phone) this has always been true before and wondering why this rule does not apply to metro apps or the new start menu.

  52. damir says:

    In general I like Win8 support for sensors. But how about integrating temperature sensor?

  53. Wea más fome, la cagada va a costar demasiado creo , porque se quieren parecer a Apple al cual nunca le ganarán

  54. JoeBwin says:

    love sensor fusion. but if its not technically possible for windows 8 to look like this (http://www.winsupersite.com/…/doesnt-windows-8-141886) then why don’t you have two desktop environments, one similar to win 7 (like you already have) and one for metro style apps, similar to what you did with the Samsung tablet running windows 7 and another desktop environment, clicking or tapping the start button gives an option to switch desktop environments among other options? making the metro desktop environment similar to the classic desktop environment (floating windows of running apps etc) will make it easy for none tech users to learn and get hold of the system and its new features (the new start menu is a terrible idea, please change it), the idea of no comprise must not confuse users and rapidly change their work environment at time where the global economy is uncertain.

  55. Off topic. Since the Desktop is now working somewhat like an app, could you please consider enabling multiple instances of desktops? Windows 8 now may be having its own way of making that possible. Enabling multiple Desktop instances would be a huge improvement for those of us who primarily work on the Desktop. Thanks.

  56. Apple owns a sensor patent? says:

    @Don't copy Apple please

    "Apple iPad has sensors. Don't copy. Windows 8 is just a software copy of the iPad made for similar hardware."

    What??

    Today's "smart" devices (tablets/mobile phones/etc) REQUIRE sensor input to take advantage of maximum usability.

    Putting sensors in such devices is no more "copying" Apple than your desktop PC is by including a keyboard for user input.

  57. JoeBwin says:

    Off topic. No compromise. Suggestion: use the windows logo to create 4 desktop environments 1st quadrant is classic desktop environment, 2nd quadrant for XAML etc written apps 3rd quadrant for html, java script etc written apps and the 4th quadrant will be a process control dashboard (control penal, settings, devices etc) for non tech users and IT professionals.  The reason for this is because you already created 2 environments based on two technologies (metro and classic), then why don’t you just add more environments based on the windows logo to avoid confusion, using the windows logo to distinguish between these environments. The start menu will be divided into 4 like the logo (red, green, blue, yellow) clicking on what ever window quadrant will take the user to that environment, each desktop environment has to be similar to the classic environment and the main menu will be a full screen window with 4 quadrants, which appears after log in. This is better way to merge this two technologies and their UI (each one has strengths and weaknesses the 1st quadrant works best with mouse, keyboard and pen, the 2nd and 3rd quadrant with touch and pen). If ever there is new technology the 2nd and 3rd quadrants can merge easily some people are already requesting multple desktop instances.

  58. Eli says:

    will windows 8 support tegra 2? i hope that i could install it on my tegra 2 tablet samsung galaxy tab 10.1…please make windows 8 support this … sorry for my bad english..

  59. Too similar says:

    @Apple owns a sensor patent? I mean, look at Vista, they inserted the Chess game in Windows, it never was in Windows, it always was in Mac OS X… 1 + 1 = 2. I mean, they copied ALL the feature set, that is the scandal… they are doing the same thing with iPad, copying ALL the feature set… at least make something different, LOL, surprised (in a bad way).

  60. Too similar says:

    I forgot to say, the copies of an app downloaded from the Windows Store can be installed on "5 PC's" … make it installable on 10 PC's, make it on 3, make it on 6, make it different, it's absurd 🙁 Apple says 5 computers, Microsoft says the same, that's the absurd…

  61. Xero says:

    Please provide an option for animation types when tilting the device. Currently its fade-in & fade-out, which is fine but the animated rotation with interim screen states would be great like happen in WP and iPad!

  62. Cameron Reid says:

    Nice post. Here’s an online database apps company which provides free instructor-led training sessions blog.caspio.com/…/put-caspios-training-to-work-for-you

  63. "By dynamically controlling screen brightness based on changing ambient light conditions, we can optimize the level of reading comfort, and save battery life when the screen is dimmed in darker environments."

    Wondering if their is any scope for changing not only screen brightness, but also the Windows theme, when lighting conditions change, or the battery gets low? As in MyTheme.Outside, MyTheme.NormalLight, MyTheme.DarkRoom/LowBattery. Not sure if it makes sense or not.

    I can imagine the mathematics for a 9-axis sensor fusion system to be formidable, so unlikely you will get all this perfect by Win8 RTM, but that's understandable, especially with hardware partners to 'deal' with. Looks well advanced though, but i'm a little curious what the cost of all these precision sensors will do to portable PC prices.

    Will Windows 8 use it's sensor data to lock harddisk drive actuators if acceleration due to gravity is high enough to potentially cause damage to heads and/or platters?

    Will Windows 8 include an app that can display the sensor data?

    This is the second (and successive) post in this blog that outlines a new class driver. en.wikipedia.org/…/Class_driver Is this something of a trend (away from 3rd-party miniport drivers)? Hoping we can get a post on driver developments and support in Windows 8. There are several //build/ presentations regarding drivers, so apparently this is something getting a lot of attention. Will the scourge of driver installers (exes) continue into Windows 8? Will MSFT be providing a method to allow driver vendors to specify service only installs (no extras) if specified by the end-user or Group Policy? What is being done with driver architecture to improve power efficiency in Windows 8?

  64. eager beaver says:

    For anyone, like me who just has to try these things out and decided to buy an STEVAL-MKI119V1 please note that you will have to register to download the iNEMO Engine_PW8 from http://www.st.com.  Then update the firmware on the device following these instructions here….

    http://www.st.com/…/DM00041151.pdf

    This is of course after registering with st.com and explaining your reason for wanting to use the device and waiting for a someone at st.com to ok your request.  S.O.P.  So if you buy one you might want to register for the software at the same time.  That way when the board turns up you may actually be able to use it.

  65. Hamlet Petrosyan says:

    We want to see updated:

    * Paint

    * Snipping tool

    * Defragmenter

  66. Will Microsoft is giving the Multi-Touch Gestures as apple done in mac book and ipad .

  67. kaustubha – Windows 7 already has multi-touch gestures. Are you that ignorant?

  68. Vincent says:

    It will be nice to also add some sensors units in regional settings. For example, °C versus °F, mph versus m/s and so on. That depends of the location and at this level we only talk about date, time and money. The weather application found in the Windows 8 developer preview doesn't integrate a configuration panel and always gives the temperatures in °F.

  69. Morten says:

    Gavin: Thanks for the update. Do you know if there's any chance we will get an updated firmware for the build tablet's fusion sensor? At build you told me you had a custom firmware for it so you could do your session demos, so I assume it's just a software issue, and not a hardware problem?