Building Windows for the ARM processor architecture


One of the notable aspects of Microsoft Windows has been the flexibility the architecture has shown through shifts in technology and expansion of customer usage over time. What started out as an operating system for one person working solo with productivity software is now the foundation of a wide array of hardware and software technologies, a spectrum of connected Windows products, and an incredibly flexible approach to computing. With Windows 8, we have reimagined Windows from the chipset to the experience—and bringing this reimagined Windows to the ARM® processor architecture is a significant part of this innovation. Expanding the view of the PC to cover a much wider range of form factors and designs than some think of today is an important part of these efforts. Windows on ARM enables creativity in PC design that, in combination with newly architected features of the Windows OS, will bring to customers new, no-compromise PCs.

This post is about the technical foundation of what we call, for the purposes of this post, Windows on ARM, or WOA. WOA is a new member of the Windows family, much like Windows Server, Windows Embedded, or Windows Phone. As with those products, WOA builds on the foundation of Windows, has a very high degree of commonality and very significant shared code with Windows 8, and will be developed for, sold, and supported as part of the largest computing ecosystem in the world. Today we’ll focus on the development of WOA and introduce some of the features, along with how customers will experience it. As with x86/64 Windows 8, there are still announcements to be made relative to the business and marketing aspects of the product(s). Today’s blog post is about making WOA, not marketing or selling it.

At the same time, while this post is exclusively on our work on WOA, we have had a deeper level of collaboration with Intel and AMD on the full breadth of PC offerings than in any past release. Windows 8 innovations on powerful and richly capable x86/64 processors, and work on new low-power processors such as those that Intel demonstrated at CES, require an equally strong commitment, even larger engineering investment, robust new designs, and improved architecture for Windows across these platforms. While discussing our engineering for ARM processors, it is important to keep in mind that in addition to all of the new work for the ARM platform we have done, much of the work discussed in this post applies directly to the x86/64 platform and Windows 8 as well. We could not be more excited or supportive of the new products from Intel and AMD that will be part of Windows 8—across a full spectrum of PC form factors including tablet, notebook, Ultrabook™, all-in-one, desktop, and more that all take advantage of the new capabilities of Windows 8 while Windows 8 takes advantage of new features in hardware.

Using WOA “out of the box” will feel just like using Windows 8 on x86/64. You will sign in the same way. You will start and launch apps the same way. You will use the new Windows Store the same way. You will have access to the intrinsic capabilities of Windows, from the new Start screen and Metro style apps and Internet Explorer, to peripherals, and if you wish, the Windows desktop with tools like Windows File Explorer and desktop Internet Explorer. It will have the same fast and fluid experience. In other words, we’ve designed WOA to look and feel just like you would expect. WOA enables creativity in PC design that, in combination with newly architected features of the OS, will bring to customers new no-compromise experiences.

As an in-depth engineering dialog, we tend to favor the long form for Building Windows 8 posts, and this post is no exception. It does seem like a good idea to first provide a summary of the important items we are going to cover in detail in this post:

  • Windows on ARM, or WOA, is a new member of the Windows family that builds on the foundation of Windows, has a very high degree of commonality and very significant shared code with Windows 8, and will be developed for, sold, and supported as a part of the largest computing ecosystem in the world. We created WOA to enable a new class of PC with unique capabilities and form factors, supported by a new set of partners that expand the ecosystem of which Windows is part.
  • WOA PCs are still under development and our collective goal is for PC makers to ship them the same time as PCs designed for Windows 8 on x86/64. These PCs will be built on unique and innovative hardware platforms provided by NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments, with a common Windows on ARM OS foundation—all running the same Windows OS binaries, a unique approach for the industry. PC manufacturers are hard at work on PCs designed from the ground up to be great and exclusively for WOA.
  • Metro style apps in the Windows Store can support both WOA and Windows 8 on x86/64. Developers wishing to target WOA do so by writing applications for the WinRT (Windows APIs for building Metro style apps) using the new Visual Studio 11 tools in a variety of languages, including C#/VB/XAML and Jscript/ HTML5. Native code targeting WinRT is also supported using C and C++, which can be targeted across architectures and distributed through the Windows Store. WOA does not support running, emulating, or porting existing x86/64 desktop apps. Code that uses only system or OS services from WinRT can be used within an app and distributed through the Windows Store for both WOA and x86/64. Consumers obtain all software, including device drivers, through the Windows Store and Microsoft Update or Windows Update.
  • WOA can support all new Metro style apps, including apps from Microsoft for mail, calendaring, contacts, photos, and storage. WOA also includes industry-leading support for hardware-accelerated HTML5 with Internet Explorer 10. WOA will provide support for other industry-standard media formats, including those with hardware acceleration and offloading computation, and industry-standard document formats. In all cases, Microsoft seeks to lead in end-user choice and control of what apps to use and what formats to support.
  • WOA includes desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. These new Office applications, codenamed “Office 15”, have been significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption, while also being fully-featured for consumers and providing complete document compatibility. WOA supports the Windows desktop experience including File Explorer, Internet Explorer 10 for the desktop, and most other intrinsic Windows desktop features—which have been significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption.
  • With WOA you can look forward to integrated, end-to-end products—hardware, firmware and WOA software, all built from the ground up. Building WOA has been an ongoing engineering effort involving Microsoft, ARM licensees, PC makers, and developers of components and peripherals. These efforts spanned a wide array of subsystems that have been newly created or substantially re-architected for WOA. Partners will provide WOA PCs as integrated, end-to-end products that include hardware, firmware, and Windows on ARM software. Windows on ARM software will not be sold or distributed independent of a new WOA PC, just as you would expect from a consumer electronics device that relies on unique and integrated pairings of hardware and software. Over the useful lifetime of the PC, the provided software will be serviced and improved.
  • Around the next milestone release of Windows 8 on x86/64, a limited number of test PCs will be made available to developers and hardware partners in a closed, invitation-only program. These devices will be running the same branch of Windows 8 on x86/64 as we release broadly at that time. These are not samples or hints of forthcoming PCs, but tools for hardware and software engineers running WOA-specific hardware.
  • The Windows Consumer Preview, the beta of Windows 8 on x86/64, will be available for download by the end of February. This next milestone of Windows 8 will be available in several languages and is open for anyone to download.

This post is organized with the following sections: Working with partners, Providing apps, Engineering for ARM (which will go through the various subsystems), Developing for ARM, Delivering WOA PCs, and finally, Next steps.

We’ve also prepared a short video demonstrating WOA as described in the post.


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Working with partners

Developing WOA begins as a partnership with companies that make ARM processors and package them together with the subsystems required to deliver the equivalent of a motherboard. Unlike the boards many are familiar with, you can think of a WOA board as a silicon package—a series of silicon layers bound together in an incredibly small form factor, called a System on Chip or SoC.

A hand with a System on Chip disk sitting on the end of one finger
CES 2011 demonstration showing a System on Chip (SoC). (Julie Jacobson, Associated Press)

Each ARM licensee building these packages takes a different approach to selecting features, making product trade-offs, and designing the complete silicon package. These choices are what bring the diversity of different products built on ARM to the market. There is no single ARM experience, and as we have seen with other operating systems, even the same ARM CPU combined with different components, drivers, and software can yield different types or qualities of experiences. That is why from the start of the WOA project, we have been working with three ARM licensees: NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments. Each brings different expertise and different approaches, and all will make a unique contribution to WOA. All of them have extremely successful ARM-based products in the market today, from tablets to smart phones to e-readers to embedded devices. We are fortunate to have the support of such amazing partners, and WOA is unique in working with such diversity.

A SoC package by itself is just the beginning. Delivering WOA PCs is a partnership with PC manufacturers who bring their expertise in manufacturing, system engineering, and industrial design and combine that with the engineering work of ARM partners to develop a complete PC. PC makers also bring expertise at selling PCs to consumers and businesses through a variety of channels and supporting those purchases over time.

Microsoft’s role in this partnership is to deliver a Windows operating system that is tuned to this new type of hardware, new scenarios, and new engineering challenges. Our goal is to make sure that a reimagined Windows delivers a seamless experience from the chipset through firmware, through hardware, through the OS, through applications, and ultimately to the person interacting with the PC. This is a new level of involvement that brings with it a new level of engineering work across all of the parties involved. This new approach is about delivering a unique combination of choice, experiences, and a reliable end-to-end experience over the life of the PC.

Providing apps

Before we dive into the details of the changes to the underlying implementation of Windows to support ARM hardware, let’s start at the top and talk about what apps Microsoft will offer (we’re all happy to see a renewed use of the term “apps”—my first business card at Microsoft in 1989 read Software Design Engineer in Apps Tools, Apps Division.)

We have not yet announced the editions or SKUs we will have for any new Windows products, and during the pre-release phase we include almost all features in the software as a way of testing and exercising the full surface area of the product. You can expect that we will adjust the features included with the single WOA offering such that it is competitive in the marketplace and offers a compelling value proposition to customers of all types.

As we announced and demonstrated at //build/ and other forums, WOA has all the WinRT capabilities present in the Windows Developer Preview, and all the tools and techniques that you can use to build new Metro style apps for x86/64 are available to developers to also target WOA. Developers can use our tools to create native C/C++ code for maximal performance and flexibility, in addition to the C#, XAML, VB, and HTML5 based tools, to target apps for WOA, so long as their code targets the WinRT API set. Additionally, developers with existing code, whether in C, C++, C#, Visual Basic, or JavaScript, are free to incorporate that code into their apps, so long as it targets the WinRT API set for Windows services. The Windows Store can carry, distribute, and service both the ARM and x86/64 implementations of apps (should there be native code in the app requiring two distributions).

We have also previously demonstrated Microsoft’s new Metro style apps for connecting to cloud-based services like Hotmail, SkyDrive, Messenger, and— through those services—a wide variety of third parties. For example, our mail app connects to industry-standard EAS, which covers an array of enterprise and consumer-based mail, calendaring, contacts. With existing Live Connect capabilities, you can chat with your Facebook friends, or keep up-to-date on your LinkedIn or Twitter feeds all in a Metro style app—these are just a couple of examples of over 100 different services globally that you can connect to your Microsoft account. These apps are provided with WOA, but of course, people can remove these, set different defaults, or use the Windows Store to get similar apps from third parties. In addition, any Metro style app in the Windows Store can work with any service it chooses, with or without using any Microsoft services—and this spans the range from sign-in, communications, in-app payments, to advertising services.

In the next pre-release of Windows 8 you will also see Metro style apps available from Microsoft that support a wide variety of industry-standard media and document formats, along with Internet Explorer 10 which supports the standard HTML5 web platform. We believe that the level of standards support provided in WOA is among the best in class, and comparable in scope to competitive products. And of course, our intent is to lead in the industry in providing end-user choice and control over the apps on your system and what you choose to run.

The availability of the Windows desktop is an important part of WOA. The desktop offers you a familiar place to interact with PCs, particularly files, storage, and networking, as well as a range of peripherals. You can use Windows Explorer, for example, to connect to external storage devices, transfer and manage files from a network share, or use multiple displays, and do all of this with or without an attached keyboard and mouse—your choice. This is all familiar, fast, efficient, and useful. You’ll have access to a deep array of control panel settings to customize and access a finer-grained level of control over your system, should you want to. And if you’ve used the Developer Preview with a touch-capable PC, you know that the desktop user-interface has been refined for touch interaction with improved user-interface affordances.

At the same time, WOA (as with Windows 8) is designed so that customers focused on Metro style apps don’t need to spend time in the desktop. Availability of the desktop incurs no runtime overhead. It is just there should you want or need it. Below, we will describe the technology behind the scenes that goes into making sure that the availability of the desktop does not compromise system security, reliability over time, performance, or power consumption of a WOA PC. To those of you who’ve tried out the Developer Preview, you’ll notice that the user experience has continued to evolve and you will see a broad set of improvements in the upcoming Consumer Preview.

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 in our approach. 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.

Within the Windows desktop, WOA includes desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, codenamed “Office 15”. WOA will be a no-compromise product for people who want to have the full benefits of familiar Office productivity software and compatibility, an industry-leading hardware-accelerated web browser, apps from Microsoft, and access to apps in the Windows Store.

This creates a WOA PC with the full power of apps, media consumption, entertainment, mobility, and productivity in one place—a true no-compromise experience. The new Office applications for WOA have been significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption. This engineering work is an important part of being able to provide Office software with WOA, as these are not simply recompilations or ports, but significant reworking of the products with a complete and consistent user experience and fidelity with their new x86/64 counterparts.

You can learn more about the next version of Microsoft Office, codenamed “Office 15,” on the Office Exec blog.

Engineering for ARM

Enabling Windows to run super well on the ARM architecture is a significant engineering task. We undertook this work because when you look to the future you can see that so many of the capabilities that have been added to Windows over the years are things that customers will inevitably desire or require in the types of devices supported by today’s ARM-based products—changes in form factors and the desire for mobility only add to the scenarios and capabilities we all desire in our search for no-compromise PCs. While it is tempting to make bold statements about “starting over,” we believe in the evolution of technology assets when the foundation is strong. The foundation of Windows, the core, is the most solid, scalable, and secure one around. Our desire to deliver a no-compromise experience motivates our efforts.

We also know that there are elements of Windows that require re-engineering in order to meet customer expectations for reliability over time, power consumption, resource utilization, and instant connectivity and availability. Obviously, all of this work is relevant to our Windows 8 on x86/64 product too, and much of what we have done for ARM will be applicable to the exciting new products coming from Intel and AMD (which are not the subject of this post). ARM affords us a chance to look at assumptions in OS behavior and programming model in order to deliver significant improvements.

One of the new aspects of WOA you will notice is that you don’t turn off a WOA PC. WOA PCs will not have the traditional hibernate and sleep options with which we are familiar. Instead, WOA PCs always operate in the newly designed Connected Standby power mode, similar to the way you use a mobile phone today. When the screen is on, you have access to the full power and capabilities of the WOA PC. 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. All along, however, the system dynamically adjusts power consumption and is always on the lookout for opportunities to reduce power to unused parts of the system. For end-users, a unique capability of WOA is that you are in control of what programs have access to background execution so that those apps are always connected, and information like new mail is always up to date. Connected Standby permeates the engineering for WOA PCs from the hardware through the firmware, OS, WinRT platform, and apps. Connected Standby won’t be limited to the ARM architecture and we are actively working on these capabilities for x86/64 SoC products as well.

Today, we are familiar with a PC experience where hardware that runs Windows built on x86/64 adheres to a set of technical specifications that allow one distribution of Windows code to install and run on a wide variety of PCs. This has enormous benefits of scale. This openness is also the hallmark of the PC revolution and represents the collective work of the industry since about 1980. When new hardware comes along that is broadly supported, these baseline specifications evolve, and the PC architecture moves forward. Absolutely nothing about this approach will change for Windows 8—as millions have experienced with our Windows 8 Developer Preview, Windows 8 will run on every Windows 7 logo PC, and will run all of the existing software and peripherals designed for and supported on Windows 7 (when supported on Windows 8 by the manufacturer, of course).

The approach taken by ARM Holdings, the licensor of ARM products is, by design, not standardized in this manner—each device from each manufacturer is unique and the software that runs on that device is unique. There is of course a standard instruction set and CPU architecture, one that is always improving (for example, adding 64-bit support and multiple cores), but many of the connections between the CPU and other components are part of the innovation each licensee brings to the ARM platform. Commonality across devices can occur under the hood, but is not applicable or significant to consumers. End-users are technically restricted from installing a different OS (or OS version) on a device or extending the OS, so this is generally not possible, and rarely supported by the device maker. Device makers work with ARM partners to create a device that is strictly paired with a specific set of software (and sometimes vice versa), and consumers purchase this complete package, which is then serviced and updated through a single pipeline. The cross-partner, integrated engineering of these embedded devices is significant. In these ways, this is all quite different than the Windows on x86/64 world.

With WOA, we set out to define a new way of developing a computing platform. We architected our approach to ensure that software and peripherals can all benefit from the diversity enabled by the ARM architecture, along with the choice of form factors and manufacturers, and the openness of the platform. At the same time we are making a commitment to customers that WOA will be consistent in capabilities, experience, and baseline performance across this spectrum. To those familiar with the Windows Phone 7 approach, the chassis specification, WOA shares some of those elements. The specifications being implemented for WOA allow for more diversity across many dimensions, combined with the same commitment to engineering and product excellence—all while running the same OS binaries across WOA PCs.

Engineering for ARM starts with the work we did to architect the Windows kernel so it could boot and run on ARM. As you might imagine, this was a significant effort. Some might believe that this is work along the lines of porting or merely re-compiling the code for a new instruction set. There’s much more to the work than that when it comes to the kernel and the parts of Windows that connect with hardware. Along with the kernel work, we also had the work to develop the ARM compilers and tools (including Visual Studio), for building Windows.

At the higher levels—the application layers—the code is significantly portable because of our long history of running on multiple architectures (x86, x64, PowerPC, Alpha, MIPS, IA64, and so on). Even the kernel itself has a significant amount of code that can be ported. At the hardware/software seam and all the places that make assumptions about how an OS interacts with hardware, Windows has been reimagined for this new platform. To put some acronyms around this, the ARM definition does not require support for some common subsystems such as the PCI bus or SATA. There are analogous concepts implemented by each ARM implementation, but those are not always common. All of this was done over the course of iterating on three major revisions of ARM hardware since the start of the project.

Let’s look at some of the types of work undertaken as part of this effort, which we referred to internally as “porting,” despite the fact that it is so much more than that. Keep in mind that all of this work has been going on in parallel with the development of the user experience, Windows Store, WinRT, and new features across Windows 8.

Getting ready to port

Before the porting work could even begin, we needed an ARM compiler and tool chain for building Windows. Since other products at Microsoft (such as Windows Phone and Embedded) use ARM processors, we had these pieces, but further improved them to build Windows. These tools are going to be available to developers, and if you’re using C#/VB/XAML/HTML5 in the Windows 8 Developer Preview, then you’re already on board. C/C++ requires ARM native hardware for testing, which we’ll talk about below.

Booting the core of Windows

Once we had the tools, we could start porting the Windows boot environment and developing system firmware specifications. We even prototyped the firmware ourselves. There are several pieces to this:

  • UEFI firmware is the lowest layer of a WOA system and provides consistent services for loading the OS. For WOA, we created firmware to bootstrap the system that we handed off to our partners. WOA systems also include a firmware-based TPM for trusted boot and storage encryption. Using the TPM, for example, we’ve implemented trusted boot which verifies that the system hasn’t been tampered with by malware.
  • ACPI firmware is used for plug and play enumeration of devices in the platform during boot, and is also responsible for power management of devices outside the SoC (such as sensors, touch controller, etc.). Over the years, the PC has standardized with plug-and-play busses and ACPI, so that operating system software and drivers can “walk the tree” to find everything in a PC. With SoC embedded designs, there is no “tree” or ability to discover what is connected to a SoC, or even how the SoC is connected. During Windows 8, we worked to define a new standard to describe the configuration of the system with tables, so software can simply read the table and configure the system.

From the firmware, the system can then load the boot manager, boot loader, and in turn the kernel, HAL, and boot device drivers.

  • The Windows Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) supports variations in core system resources (timers, DMA, interrupt controllers). Windows was designed from the beginning to support multiple instruction set architectures (ISA), and the HAL is key to adapting to different system architectures that often come with a new ISA. By abstracting the hardware layers, the OS itself doesn’t have to be modified to accommodate a new SoC for core system resources. The variation across ARM platforms is significant enough that we architected the HAL to support a new level of capabilities of abstraction. New to the Windows 8 HAL is the ability for each of the core system resources to be plugged in via an extension to the HAL, kind of like a driver for the interrupt controller.
Devices and busses

In order to load device drivers and continue Windows boot, we had to build several new drivers for new types of low-power busses, plus device drivers that support connections to those busses.

Our device strategy uses standardized protocols and class drivers extensively. Our first example below is the HID over I2C driver which we use for touch controllers and many sensors, another is the class driver for USB connected mobile broadband radios. Of course, Windows has many class drivers inside, which you experience when you plug in a wide variety of USB devices, such as storage, mice, or keyboards.

  • Low power serial busses such as I2C / UART will be normal on ARM PCs and less common on x86 PCs. These busses generally have a lower data transfer rate, but also use very little power, in some cases 10x less. Support for these busses is key to reducing the overall power use of WOA and extending battery life. Collectively, we call these busses Simple Peripheral Busses (SPBs) and we’ve developed new interfaces in WOA for them. Once we had the interfaces, we had to address a gap. In Windows, we have many device classes that are natively supported over USB via class drivers. These classes are undefined over I2C, and hence they lack class driver support. One popular class of devices is Human Interaction Device (HID) protocol based devices. HID is the protocol of choice for devices like keyboards, mice, touchpads, speakerphones, buttons, touchscreens, etc. By defining a standardized protocol and implementing driver support for HID over I2C, we can work with partners to adapt the firmware of their I2C-based devices to work with a single class driver. For example, by supporting HID over I2C, touch controllers can use that interface and leverage the input support that Windows already has.
  • SD I/O allows you to connect low power Wi-Fi radios. Radios in current PCs are connected via USB or PCI-E. We added SD I/O support to preserve high data rates (100 MB/s) while still improving battery life. Wi-Fi support on WOA also allows efficient offloading to maintain connections in connected standby while using very little power.
  • Embedded MultiMediaCard storage (eMMC) is a de facto standard for storage on ARM devices (since most do not support SATA). This was an interesting challenge for us, since Windows expects a fast disk and very high bandwidth data transfer. In addition to supporting eMMC, we made several OS performance optimizations to reduce and coalesce storage I/O, resulting in fewer reads and writes to storage.
  • The General Purpose I/O (GPIO) driver supports connecting buttons, interrupts or other I/O to the ARM processor.
  • In addition to the GPIO driver, there’s also a button driver for the Windows, power, and volume buttons. Buttons aren’t standard on ARM devices. Each system requires a specific driver for all hardware buttons.
  • We built a new power framework for managing SoC-wide power, total platform power, and the connected standby on/off usage model.
Getting to the Start screen

Once the firmware, HAL, boot services, boot devices, and busses were up and running, we were ready to bring up the rest of the system and get to the desktop and the Start screen.

  • ARM SoCs for WOA have DirectX capable GPUs (DX) for accelerated graphics in Internet Explorer 10, in the user interface of Windows, and in Metro style apps. Taking advantage of a DX capable GPU is essential for delivering a responsive user experience. For each WOA target, the ARM partner has created a DX-compatible graphics driver. This is a significant undertaking of very complex code since today’s GPUs are even more complex than the CPUs. To bring up Windows 8 on these new SoCs that did not yet have a graphics driver, and since ARM SoCs do not have the industry-standard VGA subsystem to fall back on for compatibility mode, our graphics team wrote a soft GPU driver that was capable of working directly against the hardware frame buffer. Aside from enabling development, it also enabled us to reimagine other things in Windows using the soft GPU driver when the normal GPU driver isn’t available. For example, when running Windows Setup, or in those rare cases when Windows has a “bluescreen,” we were able to give it a friendlier look and even localize it, so that even bad news can be presented more nicely across all platforms. This is a small example of work which is common to the x86/64 architecture as well.
  • WOA PCs use hardware support for offloading specific work from the main processor to integrated hardware subsystems. This improves performance and battery life. For example, while watching a movie, the processing is done with multimedia offload (to a dedicated processor for example), and all other processing is minimized. Since the multimedia offload is optimized for playback, you can watch several movies without running out of battery or the PC could be designed to be even thinner and lighter. Another example is if you’re working on a document and watching a movie at the same time, the movie is running on the offload hardware, which helps the overall system responsiveness. WOA takes advantage of several types of offloads including multimedia encode and decode as well as security offload for Bitlocker and EAS. This type of engineering also applies to x86/64, which also support offloading, and was introduced in Windows 7.
Connected device services

At this point we had the majority of the system running, and it was time to bring on the services to support the full breadth of Windows. These are common across the architectures that Windows supports, so that developers can take advantage of them in Metro style apps.

  • Mobile broadband (MBB) class driver. By creating a class driver, we’ve made it much easier to add broadband capability to all Windows PCs. While WOA was a catalyst for this work, the entire ecosystem benefits.
  • Printer class driver. For Windows 8, we rearchitected the print infrastructure to add class driver support. The majority of printers selling today are supported using the class driver, which means you’ll be able to “plug and print” on WOA without additional drivers. While the new architecture was needed for many reasons, we had printing from WOA PCs in mind from the beginning.
  • GPS. Windows offers a location provider that can triangulate a PC’s location via Wi-Fi access points and a backing database. In addition, systems that have Mobile Broadband will also have integrated Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS, aka GPS in the US) receivers to provide accurate location while navigating outdoors. The location platform plays a pivotal role in optimizing for power and accuracy by choosing the right location data provider to use based on the precision requested by the application.
  • Sensors (accelerometer, rotation, gyro, compass, magnetometer). A recent post described Sensor Fusion and how we’ve added support for sensors in Windows. This work also applies across all SoC-based architectures and utilizes the HID over I2C protocol.
  • Bluetooth. WOA supports Bluetooth LE and the same profiles as Windows 8 on x86/64 and connectivity to the Bluetooth radio using low-power UART.
  • MTP over USB and IP. Windows on ARM provides users with the ability to connect their portable devices (like mobile phones, music players, cameras) to their systems using the Media Transfer Protocol (MTP). These MTP-compliant devices can connect over USB or IP by leveraging inbox Windows class drivers, and allow users to exchange data with their favorite Metro style apps.
  • Windows Update-based servicing. For all platform code (OS, drivers, system and device firmware), each WOA system will be serviced through Windows Update (WU), from top to bottom. We’ve added support in WU for securely and robustly updating the system firmware on WOA systems, as well as driver targeting, which means that each device will get the drivers that have been verified to work best with it.

As you can see, some of this engineering work is strictly adapting to the new hardware platform. Some introduces substantially new types of hardware support. In large part this work accrues to the x86/64 platform especially cutting edge products, such as the new low power ATOM® processors, demonstrated by Intel at CES.

A significant amount also propagates to the application layer and becomes defining elements of the new WinRT APIs introduced at //build/. For example, while we engineered the kernel to support Connected Standby, delivering great battery life is really part of the overall WinRT application model and even the toolset, and all of that applies across WOA and Windows 8 on x86/64.

As we mentioned, a portion of Windows is generally built with code that can be made to work on ARM in a technically straightforward manner. These subsystems include the Windows desktop and applets and supporting APIs, though we needed to significantly re-architect all of them for better resource and power utilization. In fact, here is an early photo of an ARM device (an early Windows phone) running the full Windows desktop. Early in the development of WOA, the only hardware we had were existing ARM devices such as phones (ARM tablets didn’t yet exist). We just thought you would enjoy a few fairly early photos I captured of debug WOA all loaded in RAM (unretouched). Note: This is not a product plan or even a hint at a product.

 A hand holding a mobile device with Task Manager and onscreen keyboard

Hand holding a mobile phone with Solitaire game in a window that overlays the telephone keypad

Testing

You might be wondering how we are testing WOA in our labs. For x86/64 we run massive labs (thousands of machines, real and virtualized) and highly automated test runs for every single daily build. WOA required us to reimagine our own lab and test processes. For testing x86/64, it is simple to just order thousands of rack-mounted servers, or even virtualize them; for ARM, there are no standard rack-mounted servers that can run WOA. Since we’re doing highly integrated hardware/firmware/software development, and virtualization is not helpful, we had to devise our own approach.

We consolidated hundreds of ARM development boards along with a custom I/O board into a rack assembly connected to our testing infrastructure. Our original design focused on density supporting 300 ARM devices in one rack, but we ultimately preferred the diagnostics and availability of a custom I/O board in the 1U setup.

We designed our own 1U chassis that fits into a standard server rack. Either a full form-factor device or just the motherboard can be dropped into this chassis. Once fully assembled, the SoC board in conjunction with the IO board and chassis looks, feels and operates like a standard rack mount PC and fits right in with existing lab infrastructure.

Each 42U rack holds 32 WOA chassis plus network switches, debug host PC, and USB hubs. By March we will have over 100 fully populated racks for WOA testing.

We also had to port our test tool infrastructure and tests too, which was no simple challenge, but this ensured that we would cover WOA with the same rich automation used to validate Windows 8. Here’s a photo of our newly devised test rack, and the board and debugging ports that it hosts:

Test rack

Board and debugging ports with labels pointing to: Custom IO  board, HDMI to VGA converter, Custom HDMI molex power inserter, USB Debug to pass-thru on IO board, USB-A uplink to hub on IO board, Standard 1U rack mount chassis (ATX or EATX), Standard PC power supply, Front Panel USB headers, Front Panel Power SW, Reset SW & LED headers, Standard 20-pin ATX Power connector, Custom board to molex power cable (SV), Standard SATA hard drive (scratch drive), HDMI cable to HDMI power inserter, SoC board on adhesive stand-offs.

Developing for ARM

In practice all of this is even more in-depth than it looks. We also took this chance to do a very significant re-engineering of every Windows subsystem. In the course of building WOA and Windows 8, we invested a huge amount of energy into changing all of Windows to work better at minimizing overall power consumption and resource utilization, while simultaneously delivering improved real-world performance for existing application workloads. In previous posts on boot, power management, and memory usage, you have seen the results of some of this work.

Previously we have detailed that WOA will not support any type of virtualization or emulation approach, and will not enable existing x86/64 applications to be ported or run. Supporting various forms of emulation runs counter to the goal of delivering a product that takes a modern approach to system reliability and predictability—by definition, existing code has not been optimized for the platform the way WOA has. Virtualized or emulated software will consume system resources, including battery life and CPU, at unacceptable levels. Emulation and virtualization of existing x86/64 software also require the traditional PC environment of mouse and keyboard, which is not a good assumption for WOA PCs.

If we enabled the broad porting of existing code we would fail to deliver on our commitment to longer battery life, predictable performance, and especially a reliable experience over time. The conventions used by today’s Windows apps do not necessarily provide this, whether it is background processes, polling loops, timers, system hooks, startup programs, registry changes, kernel mode code, admin rights, unsigned drivers, add-ins, or a host of other common techniques. By avoiding these constructs, WOA can deliver on a new level of customer satisfaction: your WOA PC will continue to perform well over time as apps are isolated from the system and each other, and you will remain in control of what additional software is running on your behalf, all while letting the capabilities of diverse hardware shine through.

Our focus on delivering a new level of security for consumers using WOA is paramount. In one public event, we were asked if we would “make it easy for existing viruses and malware to run.” Now you can see the answer is decidedly, “no.” In fact, WOA only supports running code that has been distributed through Windows Update along with the full spectrum of Windows Store applications. As we all know, security is an industry-wide, multi-dimensional challenge and no system or platform can make broad claims without considering many factors.

If you need to run existing x86/64 software, then you will be best served with Windows 8 on x86/64. If you’re already considering a non-Windows device, then we think WOA will be an even better alternative when you consider the potential of form factors, peripherals, Windows Store apps (and developer platform), and Office applications as well as a broad set of intrinsic Windows capabilities.

Of course, we recognize that many developers at Microsoft and elsewhere rely on existing programming techniques, and that a transition to WOA will require an investment. Developing apps based on WinRT addresses these and many other challenges from the start—WinRT is designed to provide the full expressive power required for modern software while avoiding the traps and pitfalls that can potentially reduce the overall experience for consumers and does so with a deep commitment to tools, languages, and developer support.

Developers wanting to reach WOA with existing apps have two options. Many apps will be best served by building new Metro style front ends for existing data sources or applications, and communicating through a web services API. This approach will be quite common for line-of-business applications and many consumer web properties, and represents the best way to tap into the power of a rich user interaction model where you can also interact across and share information with other new apps. Of course, these do not need to be just front-ends, but could operate on local data too, since WOA provides full access to files and peripherals. Other existing applications will be well served by reusing large amounts of engine or runtime code, and surrounding that with a Metro style experience. This will take some time, and represents a way for applications that are composed of significant intellectual property to move to WOA and WinRT. In all cases, WinRT represents the new set of Windows OS services that developers can use to build software that is Designed for Windows 8.

Returning to our architecture diagram from //build/, from a third-party developer perspective, the best way to think of WOA is as the expression of the Metro style platform, which shares the Windows Core OS with all the other Windows products. The Windows Core OS has been tuned and architected to support the ARM platform and is there to support the WinRT APIs and programming model used by third parties.

Architecture block diagram of WinRT as presented at //build

The topic of engineering for ARM is a broad one and has occupied many on the Windows team for the course of the project. The next step is delivering WOA code more broadly, but that starts with how we’re going to bring WOA PCs to market.

Delivering WOA PCs

Since the conclusion of the Windows 7 project we have been working with PC makers on the evolution of Windows and the creation of Windows 8. There is a vast amount of joint work that goes on in order to bring new PCs to market—the “Designed for Windows” logo that you see on a PC represents the collective work of a wide array of partners sharing a commitment to bring new and exciting PCs to market. The model we used and will continue to use to bring x86/64 PCs to market as an industry is the same as we have always used—we will introduce new technologies such as USB 3.0, UEFI, touch, and sensors and support those in a new release of Windows with new hardware. This is a collaborative and ongoing effort, with a great many improvements to be introduced with this product cycle.

Delivering WOA PCs is building out a new system for the first time—a completely new ecosystem of PCs providing opportunities for PC makers to bring to life a new generation of PCs with new capabilities. We describe these PCs as being focused on achieving new levels of capability along three dimensions: thin and light in industrial design, long battery life, and integrated quality.

Because of the necessarily tight connection between SoC, peripherals, firmware, and the OS, WOA PCs should be thought of as joint engineering that goes well beyond industry partners merely collaborating. This is an effort where software people on the Windows team end up debugging silicon with soldering irons, and hardware engineers end up in Visual Studio, debugging timing issues with user interface code. Thus every WOA PC is a new engineering effort that starts with the selection of components and continues through with firmware, drivers, final assembly, and unique apps from PC makers. We also bring new ARM designs up on simulation and emulation platforms to get it right at the start, even before the silicon is available. And we are bringing the ecosystem together to do total platform design for low power, which includes not just a great SoC but efficient radios, sensors and even higher efficiency DC power infrastructure. It all matters for super thin and light PCs, with great battery life, and high-quality engineering providing a great experience with apps and services that are Designed for Windows 8.

While each WOA PC offered will be unique, the role of Windows is to present a consistent experience to customers while allowing the unique and innovative hardware to shine through—the very definition of an OS. To achieve this we have been working with multiple ARM licensees as mentioned—Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, and NVIDIA. Each has been working with partners that will bring WOA PCs to market. These PCs have all been designed and manufactured expressly for WOA. From the chipset through the firmware and drivers, the work is optimized to be great for WOA. Partners are working hard on creative industrial designs and form factors that will include more than tablets. These are all under development today. Our collective goal is for PC makers to ship WOA PCs the same time as new PCs designed for Windows 8 on x86/64, using the latest generation of those platforms from low-power to high-performance.

While not the topic of this post, we do want to assure you that, when a consumer buys a WOA PC, it will be clearly labeled and branded so as to avoid potential confusion with Windows 8 on x86/64. The PC will come with the OS preinstalled, and all drivers and supporting software. WOA will not be available as a software-only distribution, so you never have to worry about which DVD to install and if it will work on a particular PC.

WOA PCs will be serviced only through Windows or Microsoft Update, and consumer apps will only come from the Windows Store, so you never have to worry if a program will run because you are not downloading or installing from a DVD outside of the store experience. A WOA PC will feel like a consumer electronics device in terms of how it is used and managed. For example, as previously detailed, the new refresh and reset functionality will be available, and for WOA this provides the equivalent of a “clean install” or imaging.

Next steps

There’s much more to this story, and we plan on more posts detailing the engineering of WOA and all the work that went into building the OS based on the dialog that follows this post. Many are keen to get their hands on the software. But of course there is no existing hardware to use as there is with Windows 8 on x86/64, which can make use of PCs designed for Windows 7. We are approaching a step in the project where we intend to broaden the distribution of the WOA software with development hardware.

To run this release, a low volume of test PCs specifically designed for WOA will be made available starting around the next Windows 8 milestone. These devices are for developers and hardware partners, and do not represent consumer form factors, by any stretch of the imagination. They have diagnostic tools and ports. They are designed to be opened and debugged. They do not have the final components or firmware (or power or thermal management) that a commercially available device will use. They are made of low-cost plastic. You might have seen devices similar to these on display at CES or demonstrated there, and all of our previous demonstrations have used some form of these test PCs. These PCs do represent WOA and the experience—but they no more represent the final experience than does the current state of x86/64 Windows 8. They will be running the same branch of Windows that will be made available to x86/64 testers at our forthcoming development milestone.

These PCs are expensive to make and distribute because they are basically low-volume custom PCs. They will be made available through our developer evangelism efforts. We are talking about this not to tease you or to solicit nominations, but because we know word will get out and images of these will be on the web. The devices are all already spoken for and allocated. On the one hand it seems a little cruel to dangle this in front of you, but on the other hand it is worth considering that this level of transparency is a hallmark of how we develop Windows. The scale of the Windows 8 project is significant, and combined with the degree to which we are forthcoming with information and dialog about our decisions, it is without precedent.

By the end of the month, the Windows Consumer Preview (the beta) of Windows 8 on x86/64, will be made available for download. We changed the name of the beta because recently the term has come to mean something very different than just a "testing release available for free to try out," so we did not want to add to the confusion. In keeping with the level of openness described, there is no pre-registration or admission to a test program—just download it and install it on a Windows 7 logo PC (although VMs are supported, that is not the best way to try out the consumer experience). We have made a ton of progress and there are many significant changes since the Windows Developer Preview 5 months ago. As a reminder, we’re still building Windows 8 and WOA, and there is much work to be done to go from pre-release to release. Quality remains our priority. The code is not done.

We are very excited to be approaching this milestone. The responsibility of developing a new release of Windows is humbling, and the challenges of releasing an entire new platform such as WOA are both energizing and daunting. We look forward to welcoming everyone to the Windows Consumer Preview in short order.

On behalf of the Windows team,

Steven Sinofsky

Comments (299)

  1. xbox rightwingers says:

    Glad to see an article specifically about ARM support.  All the posts for Windows 8 have been very informative, and the Dev Preview has been fantastic.  Looking forward to the Consumer Preview on 2/29!

  2. TDK says:

    LOL you should start a career as a writer given the length of your posts!! ^^

  3. Robert Varga says:

    So, same code will work on both x86/64 and ARM worlds?

  4. Sebastian Foss says:

    Good to hear that we will get the full desktop experience on ARM platform! Thanks for the awesome news.

  5. domenicoav says:

    STEVEN N°1

  6. LeoStorm85 says:

    Article by article you are reveiling a great OS. I'm impatient of installing the Consumer Preview. I know that it is not the right place for this request but I would ask the introduction of an "Always on top" option to windows' context menu…it would be very helpful. Thanks and…great job guys!!!

  7. Existentialism says:

    Why so short? I was expecting a long post? 😉

  8. Prashant says:

    Great post! Is Office 15 included in Consumer preview release?

  9. Samlaptop says:

    No. Office 15 will be in beta testing this summer.

  10. Zerias says:

    … I'm… … … Okay. I'm just going to recopy from here.

    plus.google.com/…/DDCDJHGVYdN

    SVN: I've yet to meet a single person who has sat down at the Windows 8 Preview I've got set up… and wanted to use it. The average consumer reaction from people like Mary-Kay consultants, school janitors, retired teachers, car mechanics, restaurant managers, jewelry store managers, and their friends and relatives… has been a succession of you cannot be serious and if this had been on my computer it would have gone into the trash can. In all seriousness, Gnome 2.x has been surpassed as the User-Interface that average consumers have recoiled in horror from.

    Yes, I know you write about other Operating Systems. But really. Microsoft has no clothes this time. It's time that the tech press stops treating Windows 8 like it's a good thing. It's not. The unification of the "Phone / Tablet / Desktop" interface is locking Microsoft into a digital stone age.

    At least in the Linux world real-users have been constrained to the technically literate or those in contact with the technically literate, so design blunders like Unity and Gnome 3.x are being mitigated and countered against.

    As far as being a stinker… Windows ME at least had the grace to still resemble Windows 98. I actually ran it on an HPN5470 laptop… and Windows ME wasn't actually that bad.

    Vista… okay. Fair enough Vista's problems were driven by the huge bloat of the operating system cough WINSXS cough and some UI changes from Windows XP… but if users actually bothered to install the updates that Microsoft finally finished and released with Windows 7, Vista actually isn't all that bad.

    Windows 8 just takes everything Microsoft has learned over the decades, tosses it at the door… not necessarily out the door since some of it did actually smack into the door. The upcoming Beta Release? Given all the changes we know Microsoft is making… I am seriously considering installing a video camera and filming the reactions from people who are NOT computer techs trying to use it. I'm sorry, but… Windows 8 is disaster and either Microsoft needs to own up to the disconnect between what it's board members want, it's engineers want, and what consumers want…

    Or Windows 8 is going to make the Vista sales crash look like pocket change.

    ***

    Steven: let me make this clear to you.

    You are full of it.

    Windows 8 is not just "a" disaster. it is DISASTER. You need to get off the Microsoft campus and actually go and show what you are doing to real consumers.

    You cannot spin one of the worst design blunders in the History of Microsoft as a "good" thing no matter how hard you try. You can bang about what you think is interesting technology… when it isn't. You can wax poetical about what you think is innovation… when it isn't.

    And no, I'm not sorry if I'm the wake-up call to the people who have voiced the opinion that Windows 8 is a great OS in the comments of this post. Like the old fable, Microsoft is the emperor with no clothes and this toadying about ends here and ends now.

  11. I think this post will go a long way towards addressing some of the FUD and uninformed speculation out there on the net.

    A dedicated test PC is ready and waiting for the Windows Consumer Preview to become available.

    A short month will feel long…

  12. Mr.03 says:

    @Zerias , SJVN is a known anti-MIcrosoft troll. Your post if therefore 100% BS and a waste of time to read.

  13. Sönke says:

    What does that mean Office 15 will be included? Will it be free? Or what it will look like?

    Please explain this

    But very nice to see Windows on ARM.

  14. Nik Charlebois says:

    Finally some news on ARM support. Thanks guys for keeping us in the loop. Now, will we see WOA in the upcoming Consumer Preview? the article seem to suggests it will only be available for x86 and x64

  15. ARM Desktop Apps says:

    I understand that Winrt is the future but I wud have loved to build some arm desktop apps as well.. BTW what about VS on ARM?

  16. Ben says:

    @ARM Desktop Apps That is a very interesting question. I hope it will be supported  on WOA.

  17. Quppa says:

    Great post – this clears up a lot of confusion and should put rumours about Windows on ARM to bed.

    The compromise regarding the desktop interface (allowing only trusted programs to run) seems reasonable, if a bit restrictive. I might be underestimating the power of WinRT here, but won't this mean that it will be impossible to handle RAR or 7-zip files in WOA, for example? Can you elaborate on what desktop functionality will be available outside Windows Explorer and desktop IE? Are Notepad, Paint, etc. included?

    Out of interest, do you still plan on allowing Adobe Flash to run in desktop IE in WOA*? This would go against the philosophy that led you to disable plugin support in Metro IE, but it would at least allow users a choice, which is something that the iPad does not offer.

    * http://www.youtube.com/watch

  18. I'll probably pick up a tablet now…

  19. Jared says:

    All the information about Windows on ARM is great, but one point that wasn't mentioned is whether it will be accessible to blind computer users like myself on the day of launch. In some ways I believe Microsoft has regressed on accessibility, for exhibit one of this take a look at the complete lack of accessibility in Windows Phone 7, and the lack of communication on this issue.

  20. Response says:

    @Zerias 9

    What you're running is a "DEVELOPER" Preview. It is by no means optimized for a desktop, nor is it meant to give an impression of the final UX. It was released to allow developers to start writing new apps.

    You might be right. Maybe the final version it will fail to connect with consumers. But until the Beta is out, none of us really know one way or the other.

  21. ender says:

    There's a lot of information in this post, but I'm mainly interested in one thing:

    "WOA does not support running, emulating, or porting existing x86/64 desktop apps."

    Does this mean that the only desktop applications on ARM will be the ones that are bundled with the OS, and it won't be possible to compile and run an arbitrary Win32 (desktop) application for ARM architecture? If that is so, I really see no point in calling WOA "Windows".

  22. Martin Anderson says:

    All of the work you and your teams have had to put into WoA is astonishing, and I am sure will be welcomed by owners of these devices.

    I will only say one thing on this…

    I hope in time that a File Explorer, and Version of Office will move from the Desktop to the WinRT Metro environment, and so the legacy "Desktop" environment/app can be deprecated on these devices.

    This would ensure that people's expectations are not confused in terms of downloading of x86/64 apps to find they do not work…  And will further push the notion that Windows is changing, and to encourage developers to abandon Win32, Win Forms, and MFC etc – moving to WinRT.

  23. Max Calvin says:

    Really enjoyed this post and a lot of great information. Certainly clears the air  lot with regards to ARM support, and can't wait for the preview!

  24. Helge says:

    See this article for a list of all officially announced new features in Windwos 8:

    helgeklein.com/…/officially-announced-new-features-in-windows-8

  25. A developer says:

    This is a great post, and very detailed.  Thanks for taking the time to write it.

    I had a couple questions.  First, are you planning on supporting browser plugins in WOA's desktop IE, such as Silverlight and Flash?  I realize there are factors such as battery life that must be considered, but in reality good code is good code and bad code is bad code.  It's just as easy to drain battery life with poorly written Javascript as it is with a poorly developed RIA/plugin app!

    I also hope that longer term, Microsoft is able to find a way to allow 3d party desktop apps to be written for WOA.  My concern is that end consumers will not understand the differences between ARM and x86 architectures, and will be confused/frustrated when desktop apps don't work, given most other aspects of the Windows experience are the same between ARM and x86.  I am worried that this confusion could discourage the move to Windows 8 and WOA.

    As great as Metro and WinRT will be, there are legacy apps that have taken years to develop, and it's not really possible to consider porting these apps over to Metro until the majority of users are running Windows 8, which will take a long time.  This is especially true in the corporate world.  I suggest at a minimum you enable 3rd party desktop apps to run if an appropriate registry setting is enabled or group policy set.  This would at least give companies the ability to accept the potential downsides of running 3rd party code on the desktop in an environment they control.

  26. Adam Cooper says:

    When you say "In fact, WOA only supports running code that has been distributed through Windows Update along with the full spectrum of Windows Store applications," which store are you referring to? Are you talking about the Windows 8 Store which is built into the OS? If so, I thought Desktop apps were only listed and advertised, but not purchasable. Or are you referring to a more generic, online Windows Store for all Windows versions?

    Thanks!

  27. Martin Anderson says:

    Ender that is what it means.  The only legacy desktop apps on ARM devices will be IE10, Windows Explorer, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote – and software Microsoft makes in the future.

    All other apps must be WinRT Metro style apps!

    AND THIS IS A GOOD THING!

  28. Jan says:

    Great Post!

    But what is about the plugins like Flash or Silverlight in the desktop version in desktop mode. Will they be available or is Flash, Silverlight etc. not available on WOA?

  29. Jack says:

    While I'm really enthusiastic about the improvements that Windows 8 bringa I'm also saddened that Cory Doctorow  really hit the mark with his speech of war against general computing. The PC is dead. Windows 8 means that instead of PCs we will all be using appliances like the XBox. All the apps we can use will be pre-checked and only apps approved by Microsoft will br available. No more nice little tools or independent open source projects from sourceforge or similar sources. All we have is the Windows Store.

    Yes, there are exceptions for now. Wait until Windows 9 and there won't be any possibility to side load applications or boot a Windows compatible computer with any other OS. Already Microsoft is locking all ARM devices so that they cannot be booted usong Linux. Only x86/x64 are free in that sense.

    PC is dead.

  30. John says:

    "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."

    OK, then please include the Win 7 start menu on the desktop. Where is your "no-compromise" OS when you remove the most important UI element from all existing PC's? Metro is all nice, but on the desktop I really need the normal start menu, not the start screen.

    At least include an option to enable it, that doesn't hurt. Metro fans can disable the start menu and get the naked taskbar, serious desktop users can enable it and continue to be productive and get work done.

  31. Martin Anderson says:

    @Jack Windows 8 will still do everything Windows 7 does when you run it on a x86 or x64 device.  Its only ARM devices, which should be seen as tablets, or phones, which you would not expect to do the same kinds of things from a full PC.

  32. Sammy says:

    No non-metro apps (except for the anti-trust Microsoft ones) is a huge betrayal to all loyal win32 developers.  What are we supposed to do?  Just throw everything out and start anew?  Govt should file file a lawsuit – it's illegal definitely to only support your own Win32 apps with a secret signing signature.  

  33. Martin Anderson says:

    @John what does the Start Menu do, that the new Start Screen doesn't?

  34. John says:

    @Martin Anderson: It does not cover the whole screen, does not distract from my current work, it has a shutdown button, it offers quick access to control panel, common folders, recent files, search results are not spread accross the screen.

  35. Martin Anderson says:

    @Sammy

    Win32 is an x86/x64 legacy platform, and if you want to make an app that works on WOA and Windows 8, you would design it with WinRT.

    If you want to stick to Win32, then it will only work on x86/x64 Intel/AMD pcs – of which there will still be many.

    Can't keep living in the past!

  36. Eric says:

    Martin,

    As an open source developer who works on a Microsoft sponsored project (CoApp), the plan to prevent any non-Metro app run on ARM effectively means almost no open source software will run on ARM. Considering the progress Microsoft has in supporting open source, this decision sets back towards Microsoft's relations with the open source community. It's unfair that we work improve how open source runs on Windows (and increase the demand for Windows) and in return we can't even run our software on wide swaths of the Windows install base.

  37. Martin Anderson says:

    @John

    You can pin Control Panel, Folders, and Files to your Start Screen.

    Shutdown is only one extra step away, and that may change, but is hardly a deal breaker.

    Covering the whole screen is one thing that will come down to personal preference, but me personally I like the idea of being able to see more search results than was possible with the limited space on the Win7 Start Menu.  The only thing I use it for is app shortcuts and finding programs.  Both of which will be served better in Win8

  38. @JJbowles says:

    I've never understand why the trashcan floats aroundo n the desktop like a normal program.  Why isn't it part of task bar?  Image it being pinned by the clock.  When you want to drag something to the trashcan it would always be visible here and you wouldn't have to un-bury it from a pile of open windows.

  39. @Steven Sinofsky

    So know something pops up in my mind…That Office 15's ribbon is now metrolized especially with its typography…And when we look back to the ribbon of Windows 8 now it's even getting old and looking less touch-friendly even before lauch , It always seems like Office design team is always ahead of its Windows counterpart.

    Conclusion, Please make Windows 8's ribbon to adapt the style of Office 15 ribbon. I want a unity within Microsoft.

  40. @Steven Sinofsky

    Thank you for finally answering the questions about WOA that people have been asking for months. WOA looks like it will be the best tablet OS ever created.

    Now, about Metro. Despite your continued insistence that Metro will work as well with a mouse as it does with touch, I'm still not convinced. I shudder at the thought of Windows LIve Mail or Outlook being replaced with the mail client demonstrated in this video on a desktop PC.

    You also mentioned "With Windows 8, we've reimagined Windows from the chipset to the user experience," and I can quote that without even having to look at it. For those of us who will be using the same chipset and form factors that existed before Windows 8 was created, what is the point of having a new UI?

  41. John says:

    @Martin Anderson: I have a Windows Phone, I love live tiles and the start screen. But what I hate is that the start menu is removed from the desktop. This is a real deal breaker for me and many others. Why not include an option to show or hide that stupid start button on the lower left corner of the desktop. It does not hurt anyone but will help a lot to get people used to the new start screen. The back and forth between Aero and Metro is really a mess and the start menu would simply fix that.

  42. Martin Anderson says:

    @Eric

    I am not sure if you will be able to sideload Metro apps, but I would imagine Open Source will be supported with WinRT apps in some way.

    Locking out Desktop apps has obviously been done to keep the machine performing well, and will probably be worked around by hackers.  But I think for the average consumer, this decision will keep them protected from Viruses, or Malware as well as junk shareware, and spyware that typically comes pre-loaded with desktop PCs.

    Coders will tinker, but it should be opt in for the user, and not allowed by default.

  43. ender says:

    "Win32 is an x86/x64 legacy platform" … with millions of already written applications which could be ported to Arm in a much simpler manner if desktop was supported (even if Microsoft skips all the legacy hacks that are in the current Win32). Metro is a clean slate, so why should we bother developing for it rather than Android and IOS, which already have an established presence?

  44. Martin Anderson says:

    @John

    The Start Screen, and the Start Menu side by side would be much more confusing than the fact that one has replaced the other.

    Having the Start Orb, and the Start Charm, also could be confusing, as they could appear to be the same thing, but do different things.

    Change is always tough, and I am sure there will be third party apps which will give you some kind of start menu if you really can't let go of the past.  But as I said to Eric about locking down the WOA Desktop, it will bring benefits to average users, with work arounds for those more experienced.  This is the right way to do it!

  45. Eric says:

    I'm unhappy but okay with have needing a workaround but that means we need to KNOW what the workaround is. If you want us to make software for the platform, we need to know how to do so! In cases where WinRT, won't work for our needs we need to know the solution.

    Simply saying a workaround may exist and hackers will find it means legit devs and those with evil intentions have to go through the same hole. That's a problem since we have no way of differentiating ourselves from the bad guys!

  46. jader3rd says:

    @ender

    Why did you start developing for Android and iOS when they were a clean slate and BlackBerry and WinMo had an established presence?

  47. @Steven Sinofsky

    By watching this video, I had a few more questions.

    Why Windows on ARM's animation isn't smooth and still lagging compare to x86 version?

    Is that because of recorder OR it's the true fact about its performance? I doubt that we can we play the causal games on that machine. I already saw Cut The Rope demo on Windows 8 at CES and I have to admit the Ipad 2 version is much smoother.

    Is that  because the hardware acceleration on Metro apps is not fully optimized like the native programs and  cause the lagging experience?

    Last question, please explain how DESKTOP style apps like Office 15, IE 10 desktop is ported and optimized for ARM. What is the difference between desktop apps on ARM and x86?

  48. Ted says:

    Will Office 15 on ARM support the add-in model?  (COM add-ins) etc.  It would be an interesting way to get around the limitations of no Win32 apps on ARM.  

  49. Martin Anderson says:

    @ender

    Millions of already written applications, none of which designed for the ARM platform's limitations and quirks.  Metro apps will be compatible with both platforms, and it makes sense to rebuild legacy apps in the new platform in the same way that it made sense to make new versions of Windows 3.1 apps to Win32 when Windows 95 was on the way.

    Potential audience is HUGE, and when you combine Win8 and WOA that's just more possible consumers.

    Essentially if your Win32 app is popular enough, people will want to be able to buy it for their Win8 or WOA machine, and then it will be worth doing a WinRT version.

  50. Arm Desktop Apps says:

    The arm desktop apps I would like include VS (plus other dev tools like blend), Adobe suite of products.  Is there any chance that you would allow select partners who create "efficient" ARM desktop equivalents of their PC applications to be sold on windows on arm?  Dev tools + Design tools + browser plugins and I would be more than happy.  These 3rd party apps may even be sandboxed for added security.

  51. Thank you for huge details. I cannot wait to see Windows 8 on the shelves.

  52. Matt says:

    Wow, thank you for this post. It's clear you care very deeply about the success of this new platform and with Microsoft's connections inside the OEM world, I am really rooting for WOA! Apple needs a good kick in the pants here, so with your energy I'm hoping this is that kick. 😀

  53. Sammy says:

    @Martin Anderson.  it is definitely not legacy since Office 15 is actively being developed and tuned for it.  And that is 100% non-Metro, fully Win32 with full access to operating system (file system, etc). So don't even say that.  The fact is we are given only one choice. Develop for a "silverlight-like" API that is only a speckle of dust of what the Win32 full API gives you.  Or develop for HTML5/Javascript.  Why not release the tools that are obviously available internally for Microsoft developers to enjoy (full Win32 for ARM).  How can that even be legal, locking you out of obviously fully available and working APIs.

  54. ender says:

    @jader3rd

    AFAIK, BlackBerry released a tablet only recently, and I don't remember a Windows Mobile tablet (neither were particularly popular on phones around here either – it was Symbian all the way, but I never was interested in phone development anyway).

    iOS has too many restrictions (and I really don't like Apple either), and Android feels too cobbled together (with some really nice and some really rough parts), so I had high hopes for Windows – except it now turns out it won't be Windows at all…

    [hopefully this comment won't be posted twice – the first time I clicked Post the page just reloaded – though this seems to be a common problem on MSDN blogs]

  55. Martin Anderson says:

    @Sammy

    You do realise its only ARM devices where Win32 is locked…

    There will still be many many Intel and AMD systems out there you can develop for.  "Windows on Arm" is not Windows 8 – you should keep that in mind with this discussion, because "Windows on Arm" is to be treated like an appliance, or an iPad.  As in you turn it on and run apps on it.

  56. Martin Anderson says:

    @ender

    Of course there will be Intel tablets and slates if you really want to have a full Win32 open system.

  57. Alex C says:

    My experience and hope with Windows 8 on ARM is to really fix the UI.  Right now, we have Win8 running on a Samsung Slate and the entire user experience is broken.  Needs to be more like Android, iOS – a complete departure from traditional Windows.  If not – a major FAIL waiting to happen.

    I've used Windows since the beginning and love it.  But mobile – I'm 100% Android.  Even if Win8 did arrive on ARM, I'm not sure I would care.  Its coming a little to late and I think Redmond knows this.

  58. I read elsewhere recently that Windows Phone 8 will be based on Windows 8.  Please consider putting the desktop on Windows Phone 8, as well.  I realize that it probably won't be very directly usable on the phone itself – the Windows desktop simply isn't designed to be touch-friendly on such a small screen.  That's not the point.

    The point is that if you have the Windows desktop on a phone, the phone can become the only computer necessary for many users when coupled with a keyboard/mouse/monitor – eliminating the need for tablets, desktops, and laptops.  For example:

    * A cell phone could have a USB port or some other interconnect for connecting an external monitor.

    * Bluetooth already provides the wireless protocol needed for a keyboard and mouse.

    * A cell phone equipped with a pico projector could suffice as well instead of having an external monitor.

    * Cell phones could dock with a docking station, providing full keyboard/mouse/monitor/power.

    It's not at all unreasonable to think that cell phones could do all the above today or in the very near future.  They'll certainly have a lot of motivation if you support this in Windows 8.  Running the full Windows feature set, including desktop would be compelling.  Instead of having a laptop or desktop at home, I simply dock my phone and work.  If I have to go somewhere, I undock and keep doing what I was doing.

    Getting many Windows desktop apps working on this environment will be easy.  Just change compilers to ARM and recompile.  For JIT-compiled .NET applications it shouldn't even require that.  This is similar to the transition from x86 to x64.  This will be *far* easier than completely rewriting the user interface for Metro, Android, and iOS.  While you can argue that the app should be rewritten for Metro until you're blue in the face, that's not going to happen for a lot of apps for a long time, if ever.  Recompiling the app with an ARM compiler but targeting the same old proven Windows API will be comparatively easy.

    And who's to say there can't be an x86-based cell phone?  An x86 phone like that with the Windows desktop available could run all your legacy applications when you plug it into the docking station providing full keyboard, mouse, and monitor – without even needing a recompile.

    Think about it.  In my opinion, it would make every other other portable device from Apple/Google look like a toy due to the app selection you'd have.

  59. Very impressive and interesting blog post on Windows engineering!! It was very enjoyable to read it too. It's the biggest software engineering feat for me bringing millions of lines of code to ARM. Must have been hard to achieve good baseline performance across multiple ARM partner PCs. Microsoft's decade of investment in Windows CE must have helped a lot in bringing NT to ARM.

    What I am very interested in knowing is what legacy and modern components of Windows are not available/ported on WOA? Please document these well.

    With the exception of desktop Office apps, are only Metro style apps supported on WOA or can developers write their own non-Metro style apps for ARM and distribute them through Windows Update or Windows Store? Freely distributable apps is the core distinctive element of the Windows platform and I hope Microsoft does not discontinue this feature. Or has Microsoft ruled out the possibility of allowing developers to bring their non-Metro apps to ARM? New non-Metro apps written from scratch can most definitely be touch-intuitive, therefore I see no reason why Microsoft should disallow these.

    Just to be clear, Office 15's 4 core apps will be a standard built-in component of Windows on ARM? That's great value.

  60. L. says:

    > consumer apps will only come from the Windows Store, so you never have to worry if a program will run because you are not downloading or installing from a DVD outside of the store experience

    Count one less potential customer for WOA.

  61. Arm Desktop Apps says:

    @Sammy WinRT is pretty rich platform and the c++ tooling support for native code is actually pretty amazing.  It doesnt let you access the entire PC but then thats the whole point.  But it is no where as constraint as silverlight.  Keep in mind, c++ winrt is fully native and fully (almost) compatible with the latest standards for c++.

  62. Martin Anderson says:

    @L.

    Well that's why its good you still have the choice of an Intel tablet device.  Personally I will have Win8 on my PC, and a nice WoA tablet, and Apollo Windows Phone

  63. @JJBowles says:

    Please keep the love for the desktop.  I manage 6800 desktops and only a small portion of these will be touch enabled over the next several years — a VERY small portion.   Please keep enhancing the traditional mouse/keyboard UI.

    Speaking of this UI:  Have you ever thought about putting the trashcan on the taskbar near the clock?  I'm sure you have.  This makes so much more sense then keeping it on the desktop.

  64. B8Blog says:

    @Jared We will do a post on accessibility for sure.  All the intrinsic capabilities in Windows 8 for x86/64 are available on ARM "out of the box".

  65. @Steven Sinofsky

    The main thing Windows 8 x86 has going for it in the tablet market is that it runs existing desktop apps.  If you cripple that in WOA by not allowing desktop apps except through WU and the Store, you are killing a lot of interest in the platform, especially from enterprise customers.  I want to port my x86 desktop applications to ARM, and I want to install it from USB or other media if I feel like it.  

    I want to decide for myself if the power consumption or security of my application is good or not–I'm not selling toy apps for Grandma to download on her phone, I'm building integrated systems where I control every aspect of the platform.  I also sell the system, not the software, so Store based deployment is just crazy.  I love the power and performance of the Metro XAML stack, but the sandboxing makes it useless for me.  I'd love to be able to use ARM devices in my system, but I need the flexibility that is the bread and butter of Windows development–not an iPad style walled garden.

  66. Martin Anderson says:

    @JJBowles

    You do realise the mouse and keyboard work perfectly well with WinRT "Metro" apps?  And you should still be able to manage all those desktops just as well as you do now in Win7/Vista.

    Traditional Mouse and Keyboard are full supported in the new controls, only now they are brilliant for touch as well, unlike the current Desktop shell.

  67. acidcode says:

    Whether ARM or x86/64: I hope they will extend WinRT to a point where it is possible to build plug-in enabled applications and give access to the whole of the file system, registry etc. Otherwise, I don't see any use for it as a platform for developing rich client applications. (Re-)Imagine Visual Studio as a Metro-style app running under the current limitations of WinRT: No more extensions available, external development tools not accessible because they live outside the "trusted" users libraries…

    Further, we need an option to install applications from other sources than the Windows Store. This is especially important to open source solutions.

    It would be a mistake to call Win32 legacy technology unless all its capabilities are available in WinRT. Everything else would be a step backwards.

  68. I'm glad that the desktop is being included on ARM devices. I don't understand why you won't allow consumers to sideload apps for the ARM desktop? Why restrict WOA desktop to only Office 15 and IE 10? No plug-in support for IE10 on the WOA desktop makes it especially worthless.

    It's sounding now like WOA will have to be hacked/jailbroken similar to iOS to enable the functionality that most users want.

  69. Martin Anderson says:

    @RobertWG

    If enterprises are desperate for Win32 Tablet software (where were they back in 2001) then there will be Intel tablets available for them.  ARM tablets seem like they will be targeted to the average consumer who will use them in the same way as an iPad or smartphone.

    Also you can target specific people to distribute your app to, and keep it for private distribution, so going through the store makes sense, especially with future updates which can easily be pushed out!

  70. If I am a software developer should I avoid WOA like the plague because it will not allow me to run any  developer software that can be used to actually create software for WOA?

    If developers can't even run Visual Studio on WOA then they're not going to buy ARM devices which means they're probably not going to make as much software for them. I don't see WOA being very popular given all of these serious limitations compared to x86 Windows.

  71. Kevin says:

    @Zerias

    So let me get this straight. You went and show people ALPHA software? Are you kidding me? It's like me showing you a car frame with just the engine in it. Yikes! I don't see anything useful in your comment. It's as if you set out to try and CONVINCE people to HATE Windows 8 because you hate it.

  72. Please deny this rumor started on "All things digital:"

    "But Sinofsky said that, although those applications will run in the traditional Windows desktop, they will be the only programs allowed to do so, other than components of Windows itself."

    allthingsd.com/…/windows-on-arm-complete-with-next-version-of-office-to-arrive-with-rest-of-windows-8

  73. David Amkey says:

    @aambro. Go back to the engadget comments section. What you say does not make sense. Do you run xcode on an ipad?

    Some people don't get it. WIN32 API is old. It was the breeding ground for millions of malware.  I'm glad this will be excluded from the ARM product.

    WINRT is what had to be done. We don't need surprise applications causing havoc on files it does not own. Or to modify the registry to slip in some junk that will compromise stability or security. Or to inject itself in another process to elevate its privelages.

    Windows 8 is the future of computing. Great work Microsoft. This fall is going to be exciting.

  74. jader3rd says:

    @ender

    Sorry. You mentioned iOS and Android, and I thought you were talking about ARM devices at large, not just tablets.

    A reason why you might develop for this market is that there are going to be a lot of Windows computers. The programing paradigm Microsoft has worked on is one where the paradigm will work on desktop as well as tablet (and to a certain extent WP7). If there are more touchscreen Windows 8 computers than there are iPad's, wouldn't you want to be catering to that market?

  75. Martin Anderson says:

    @aambro

    WoA Devices are not for developing on, they are for using the apps you have developed.  You don't build iOS apps on an iPad!

    Remember any WinRT app you develop will run on WoA and Windows 8 x86/64  so you don't need an ARM device to develop for ARM devices.

    @Andrew7Webb

    It is not a rumor, it has been said many times in this article that Win32 apps will not run on ARM devices.  And this is a good thing!  If you want a tablet to run Win32 legacy apps on, get an Intel one!

  76. John says:

    @Steve Sinofsky

    In the video, Windows Explorer on Windows 8 on ARM took up to 4 seconds to launch which is pretty slow. Expect improvement on this as well as other file management tasks.

  77. Sammy says:

    @John, you mentioned the missing start menu – well under ARM it doesn't matter because there's no non-Metro apps to put there now.  So it would be a start menu to nowhere.   So I guess that's one way they solved the problem, get rid of the problem in the first place, i.e. those pesky Win32 apps were filling up that old start menu 🙂

  78. "Consumers obtain all software, including device drivers, through the Windows Store and Microsoft Update or Windows Update."

    "WOA includes desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote."

    Elsewhere Microsoft has stated that only Metro applications will be available through Windows Store – not desktop apps.

    This is anti-competitive and just plain obnoxious.  You need to allow the user to load their own desktop software, such as a version of OpenOffice / LibreOffice recompiled for ARM.

    I'm very glad you have decided to keep the desktop on ARM devices, because I think it adds significant value.  But you need to allow the user to actually *use* the software they want to on the desktop – not just Microsoft-provided software on the device.

    Besides, why restrict yourself to built-in stuff like Office 15 and IE10 on the desktop?  That's dumb and will make ARM laptops look like a toy compared to x86.  Why won't you allow other people to write apps for the ARM desktop?  If your answer is to write it in Metro, then you need to "eat your own dogfood" and make Office 15 Metro-only on ARM, and remove the desktop completely from ARM.  Keeping the desktop for only Office 15 and the file browser is just plain awkward.  I think that's the wrong answer though, because the established Windows desktop provides something that is unique to Windows – something that Android and iOS lack.

    I understand you can't provide desktop apps through the Windows Store.  That's reasonable, you've already outlined good technical reasons on this blog for why that's not realistic (i.e. deployment and refresh PC complications with desktop apps).  So why wouldn't you allow us to install desktop apps written for ARM manually by downloading them in the desktop version of IE10 and installing them by running a setup program – just like we already do?  By explicitly disallowing this, you're artificially making the ARM machines inferior to the x86 machines.  All you really have to do is compile Windows Installer for ARM and allow the user to run arbitrary EXE files on the desktop, and you'd have something that many Windows apps could target with a simple recompile.

    If these concerns aren't addressed, I just don't see myself seriously looking at an ARM device – I'll just hold out for x86-based solutions.

  79. Keith says:

    @ JamesJohnston

    I think the plan is to eventually ditch the desktop in later versions of windows. So you cant have people write apps that will be obsolete in the next versions.

  80. Keith says:

    Not to be picky. But why wont let people choose their own backgrounds for the start screen ???? I was hoping something similar to android where you can have live wallpaper or pictures as the background. Let people customize as they see fit. If the backrground pictures are too pixelated or overstretch they can switch back to the ugly circles and squares background. Also i think if you allowed developers to create live background for the start screen they would and it would the start screen even more appealing

  81. Martin Anderson says:

    @Keith

    I am hoping this is the case.  ARM shouldn't have the desktop at all in my opinion.  Its only there for connected devices, and Office, because Office isn't ready for WinRT yet.

  82. Neville Bagnall says:

    Regarding anti-trust and the Office apps.

    Its risky, but I think they'll get away with it for one release, but they'll almost certainly have to have WinRT versions for Office 16.

    Why? Because:

    – its just those 4 apps – not all of Office.

    – its only on WOA devices.

    – they're bundled free (I think?)

    – They've bundled those apps on other devices based on Windows Phone and Windows Mobile.

  83. CaveJohnson says:

    @JamesJohnston The point of this is to get developers to start making apps in the new WinRT so Microsoft can eventually remove old API's like GDI. GDI is used everywhere and it should be killed with fire. But until then…

    Microsoft is essentially saying that this is a transition to a new API so start using it now because we won't support it in the future. The only reason why the Office apps are on the desktop is because they didn't have time to make it in WinRT. I would imagine eventually, if not already, WinRT supports most features of Win32.

  84. Harvey says:

    Man, this is great.  Windows 4 Life !!!!   THANK YOU WINDOWS TEAM!!

  85. Tom Servo says:

    WP prototype running full Windows… "This is not a product plan or even a hint at a product."

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight! :V

  86. If they want to ditch the desktop, then why are they including a brand-new desktop version of Office 15 for ARM?  They need to pick one way or the other.  None of this "you can have the desktop but you can only run Microsoft software on it" business.  That's stupid:

    1. The desktop will be more awkward to use for touch.  If the desktop is required to perform some functionality that isn't supported in Metro, then they have a problem and need to move that functionality into Metro so that the device is touch-friendly.  If the issue is that they haven't got time to move everything (e.g. Office) to WinRT yet, then they need to open up the desktop and let others have that chance, as well.

    2.  Suppose they follow through on #1.  If everything is Metro and touch-friendly, then why are they including the desktop but not allowing 3rd-party software?  Ditch it!  Because at that point, it just makes things more awkward for everyone, with no benefits.

    3.  Alternatively, they should keep the desktop and allow it for using 3rd-party programs that have been recompiled for ARM.  That's the real value in having the desktop.  And I'm sure there will be many situations in ARM where the user will use a keyboard and mouse instead of touch, so the usability issues of the desktop with touch won't exist.

    ARM isn't going to be used only on smartphones and tablets.  Conventional laptops could have it, too.  Perhaps even low-power desktops or all-in-one PCs.  Not to mention servers.  And the tablets and smartphones may dock with one or more monitors, a keyboard, and mouse (either wirelessly or via docking station).

    My point is that people seem to prefer the desktop when they are sitting down to get a lot of work done, using a keyboard and mouse – most people on this blog seem to agree with this, saying that Metro is more appropriate for only touch-enabled tablet/smartphone.  So if an ARM device is connected to keyboard/mouse/monitor(s) – you need a full-featured desktop that allows for arbitrary end-user applications.  Period.

  87. @Martin Anderson

    I'm sure there will be nice x86 tablets.  I'm less sure there will be nice x86 phones, x86 toasters, and x86 embedded devices.  I'm also sure there will be a significant price difference between ARM and x86 tablets, which even Enterprise customers care about.

    On the Store front–not good enough no matter how you restrict it.  My customers are not Internet connected, and never will be (unless you want your power plants on the Internet!).  I keep hearing that there will be ways for enterprise customers to side-load applications even for Metro, but no details: how will it be done, can individuals do it on their own devices, and will it be free and easy (presumably we have to get a certificate to sign our software with).  Some of us would gladly exchange the "safety" of a Store for the freedom to install whatever we need.  For one thing, what happens in 10 years when Microsoft decides to shut down the Store?  If you think it can't happen, have you tried using the Windows Mobile Marketplace lately?  My customers are long lifecycle–they will be using the software I ship today for decades.

  88. Johnny Vegas says:

    Could you please specify which version of DX will be the minimum for wow? Also what of compute intensive apps that don't fall into any of the very limited background tasks for which I would like to start a local task that I can switch away from without it stopping or only running for a few seconds? I would like it to be complete when I return to it 5-10 .minutes later, not just resuming from nearly where it was when I switched away. Lastly glad to hear this largely applies to x64 on soc so it's not all for naught when that crushes arm. Would love to see a similar post on x64 soc soon. Thanks.

  89. Braden says:

    Awesomely detailed post, looks like Windows 8 is a mammoth undertaking, can't wait for Consumer Preview.

    One thing I have wondered recently, is if a developer wanted to, whether they could take advantage of an Xbox 360 controller for Windows, in addition to touch and mouse and keyboard use already present in Metro winRT games. For select games an Xbox controller on desktop Windows with Metro apps, would make sense, and I believe their would be others who would enjoy such a thing.

  90. Neville Bagnall says:

    To those who think that MS should support Win32 on ARM so that apps only have to be recompiled rather than ported:

    Thats the point.

    WinRT will never take off if Win32 has equal footing.

    You can stick with Win32 and target x86/x64 or move to WinRT and target everything. Your choice.

    Yes it sucks for developers, but its the logical choice for Microsoft and arguably a better choice for users as apps will be adapted to be Touch First.

    As for F/OSS software. It will require a Metro console and new io libraries for a lot of them, but that is a task that can be done quickly and not just by Microsoft. Other apps such as Firefox, LibreOffice, etc will need a new GUI library running on top of DirectX, but again, nothing that stopped OS X being supported.

    Virtually every new platform and API in the last 30 years has had F/OSS ports. WinRT won't be any different.

  91. Neville Bagnall says:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    Please, please, please. Can we have a post on multiscreen Metro.

    The DP doesn't have any multiscreen capability outside the desktop. I presume that's not true of the Consumer Preview.

    How about a peek? Or even a confirmation that something like WinKey+Arrows works for metro style apps.

  92. mvadu says:

    Thank you for an excellent article. However please ask your Windows Phone team about the feedback they got for

    1. Not allowing native code on WP7. I am sure you will get similar feedback for not allowing the native code (not WinRT C++, but native Windows API based code) on WOA.

    2. About only allowing the native code from Windows Update, If your goal is to keep me(user) in control, then as a owner of the device am I not entitled to run my code on it? Why should I have to wait for some hacker to open that hidden door (like Chevron Lab guys did before Microsoft officially allowed them to sell unlocking codes/certificates)

  93. What you are saying here is TOOLS won't be available on WOA. Good tools require chrome (you said so yourself in the Build talks!), and metro is all about the lack of it. So, we can't make our own tools? We can't get tools from third parties unless they have full approval from you? We can't load our own code unless (presumably, based on Windows Phone) we pay you for the privilege? And even then we'd have limitations on the number! (again, based on WP7).

    I get that IA32 and x64 platforms will exist with legacy support. I'm not asking for the ability to run those existing binaries on WOA. I'm not even asking for the full Win32 API support (I can understand registry restrictions, though the inability to listen on localhost stinks)! All I want is the ability to write and run standard Windowed applications on the ARM systems. Make it opt-in, fine.

    I never use the Start menu anyway, so I don't have a horse in that race. THIS is my complaint with Windows 8. Restrict the bootloader. Require the Store for Metro apps. But don't do THIS

  94. Mike says:

    @mvadu

    I'm sure as a developer, you'll be able to deploy and test your applications on an ARM device.

    It's too early to assume you'll need to have a paid developer account to do so. Lets just wait to see what MS plans are regarding this.

  95. John says:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    One of the things I like about Windows, is that I can write applications for my own use. Will it be possible to write our own apps and sideload them for WOA? I know that I can still do this with x86/x64 Windows, but what about WOA?

    It frustrates me that I had to developer unlock my Windows Phone to do this. Now that ChevronWP7 is no longer selling unlocks, if I get a new phone, I won't be able to use my personal-use apps anymore. The idea of a more appliance like computer is appealing to me but I hate the feeling of not being able to load my own apps.

    Can you please comment on this?

  96. @Martin Anderson

    "WoA Devices are not for developing on, they are for using the apps you have developed.  You don't build iOS apps on an iPad!"

    Oh I thought Microsoft was developing a "no compromise" OS, not just making another iPad. My mistake.

    Basically what you're saying is that WOA device is a toy, not a real computer that allows you to develop new software. It's just a toy like an iPad that could never replace a real computer. Why even bother including the desktop at all then? Why not just tell WOA users to use SkyDrive Office apps or Office365 instead of including a desktop just for Office 15.

    @David Amkey

    "Windows 8 is the future of computing. Great work Microsoft."

    It is the future… on Intel x86 hardware. Only a fool would buy the gimped/locked down version of Windows on ARM. People will quickly realize that Windows on ARM is not the real version of Windows that allows you to sideload content, view the full web, and use your old Windows applications and hardware. I thought MS was trying to build something better than an iPad instead they just built something that is exactly the same as the iPad on ARM.

  97. Klimax says:

    For those who are requesting desktop programms on WOA should read Raymond Chen's blog blogs.msdn.com/…/oldnewthing in its entirety so they understand why it is restricted.

    (Sorry, but those constraints due to backwards compatibility are not really compatible with ARM tablets and their limitations)

    Also I would recommend (free) bonus chapters to his book http://www.informit.com/…/Chen_bonus_ch01.pdf and http://www.informit.com/…/Chen_bonus_ch02.pdf

  98. Usman Masood says:

    So you remove ribbon from Office which has tons of complex operations users can perform; I think it looks fantastic now. But you add it to explorer, unnecessarily if I may, which clearly is a much more simple piece of software. You give Office a more flat look, closer to Metro but explorer still has tons of chrome and ugly bubbly stuff. You're releasing a new version of Office which isn't Metro, which means a Metro-style Office won't be out for another 3 years, while stressing that Metro style apps are the future. What exactly is going on? Microsoft has the most confused user experience team on the planet. While every company is moving towards homogeneity across their products' user experiences, you guys are just bumping randomly here and there. Seriously disappointing. Why is the traditional desktop experience not more like Office 15, and why is Office 15 not Metro? Bing has been touting a Metro HTML5 look since 2 years, and during that time Google has revamped the UX of each of its products. You guys have 90000 employees, and yet things move so slowly. Fire half your workforce please, the company might get more productive.

  99. Bob says:

    Frankly, I'd only be able to live with the no-desktop-apps-on-ARM restriction if and only if there were a way to create (and run!) WinRT programs outside the sandbox. Even if Visual Studio itself isn't an option, why can't I connect a Bluetooth keyboard and create web apps, package manifest and all, from a tablet? Taking an hour to compile is not a necessary prerequisite for a worthwhile coding exercise.

  100. abdo says:

    this is pretty app ..but we hope devlopers can apply is soon on arm..but hope will not ask u to pay for that.

    http://www.full-windows8.com/

  101. Daniel Cherian says:

    Mr. Sinofsky,

    I am impressed.  Congrats for getting to this point.  I hope to see quality developers utilizing the WinRT framework soon.

  102. Joao M Correia says:

    Its actually simpler than it looks. Either microsoft provides a way to disable metro on desktops, -or-, a third party will provide said service. [or it can just utterly fail and be the suicide note on microsoft's desktop monopoly.]

    /sarcasm

    Ever heard of them "hacker" fellas? They usually treat ya microsoft programs real nice. I'm pretty sure a nice work around will appear right about the same day metro gets in the open. [Now picture this in a very appropriate dixie accent]

    /end sarcasm

  103. Neville Bagnall says:

    @Usman Masood

    I'm fairly sure the Ribbon will still be there in Office. Its just minimised in those images.

  104. There's a saying in Star Wars movies that the more you tighten your grip, the more will slip through your fingers.

    I feel that Microsoft is tightening their grip on WOA too much by locking down the desktop and it will not only encourage people to hack/jailbreak Windows 8, but almost force them to do so. Anyone who buys a WOA device is going to be disappointed by the limitations of it compared to what they expect from normal Windows on x86. You're practically requiring people to hack the device to get it to do what they want. I worry that this encourages people to look outside of the Windows Store for software and support for the device.

    This is a big mistake. Leave desktop Windows open on all devices including ARM, but post a warning that using unapproved code could have a negative result on battery life and performance of your ARM device.

    Telling developers that they don't ever want a WOA device as their main computer is a huge mistake. You need to provide developers with a way to create new applications for the device on the device itself. This is supposed to be something better than iPad, not just another iPad wannabe.

  105. Ryan says:

    Two options: "Many apps will be best served by building new Metro style front ends for existing data sources or applications, and communicating through a web services API. …Other existing applications will be well served by reusing large amounts of engine or runtime code, and surrounding that with a Metro style experience."

    Yet from early indications, Microsoft is not following this advice itself with Office 15?

  106. Ryan says:

    …and just to follow up on the comment about two options for apps on WOA (Metro or… Metro), since the Desktop is "just another app," shouldn't it also be Metro?

  107. OK, now I understand why this was such a long post (27 page-downs). They needed such a long post to be able to hide somewhere within it the annoying fact that only Microsoft will be allowed to write Win32 Desktop Apps for ARM. Well it didn't work, Microsoft. I still found it! 🙂

    About the new development model, I developed a small Metro app for Windows 8 (a Pomodoro timer I use while I develop Java apps to improve my productivity).

    I hate that the OS suspends the app when it's not in the foreground. To fix this issue, I always run it in Visual Studio, so it doesn't get suspended.

    I know there are ways to workaround this issue by rewriting my code to take into account that the app may be suspended at any time, but I don't have the time and energy to do that at the moment.

    I think the effort required to write some apps increases 3-4 times due to this suspension feature, especially since after the suspension an app can be completely evicted from memory at any time, resulting in data loss if the suspension events are not properly handled in app code.

    And some other apps (like video transcoders and other computational tasks) would make no sense on Metro/WinRT at all due to this non-optional suspension feature.

    The suspend app feature should be an optional default. As others said, allow an app to request the "never suspend" capability, and put a big red warning about possible battery life issues before allowing the user to install such an app.

    When an app has this capability, the app should be able to tell the OS when it is OK to perform suspend, calling something like WinRT.ProcessEnvironment.allowSuspend(true/false) to allow/disallow OS suspension when needed.

    As it is now, the Metro/WinRT apps will not be able to do any serious work. Toy apps. And since on WOA desktop apps are not allowed, WOA is a toy OS, for toy apps. Let alone the discussion about anti-competition, since you can run Win32 MS Office but not Win32 Open Office.

    And now back to our regular programming: I don't like the Start Screen at all after using it for three months on my laptop. I use my laptop to develop enterprise Java apps (damn, this apps instead of applications is getting annoying).

    I'm sure the new Start Screen is excellent on an undocked tablet/phone.

    But, about the Start Screen on a Server PC/Desktop PC/Laptop PC/Docked Tablet/Docked Phone/any other device used for productivity: KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!

  108. Ryan says:

    Very interesting info in general–thank you for the detailed post!

    I really would like to know more about administration (GPOs, AD integration, login scripts, etc.) and deployment options for WOA devices. Today, most corporate devices are imaged for deployment. With the app store restriction for software and other aspects of WOA, that seems not possible for WOA devices.

    These devices would also be very useful in "kiosk mode" scenarios. Will we be able to set up a machine and lock it down in this fashion–where it runs only a particular app?

  109. Matthew says:

    Combining a Tablet OS with the desktop OS so that people have "lots of choices" will lead to something like the car Homer Simpson designed…

    onscreencars.com/…/the-homer-the-car-built-for-homer

  110. JohnDoe says:

    All there is to understand here is that ARM device will be low cost device, they said even the price of WOA would be pretty low compared to other versions, so if true, people can more easily accept that they might get less “functionality” (think Windows Starter Edition)

  111. zoro_86 says:

    I think You are making a great work!!

  112. JD says:

    Windows desktop instead of all-Metro: You're making a mistake.

  113. @mvadu

    WinRT C++ apps are purely compiled native code, and WinRT is a native API set.

    If you're talking about writing C++ without using the C++/CX language extensions (which just make writing code a little easier / less verbose), you can do that too, and interact with WinRT at what we call the "ABI" layer.

  114. Nitz Walsh says:

    I have to say from a performance perspective, the video showing Win8 running on ARM was pretty poor – jerky animation, and even Explorer took several seconds to open.

    Hopefully there's *lots* of optimization left, because judging by the video, it needs it.

  115. From your recommendations for porting x86/x86-64 desktop apps to WOA, it  sounds like the WOA desktop will -only- support apps developed by Microsoft. Is this accurate, and thus Metro-style apps are the only ones developers can write for WOA?

  116. de@iru.ch says:

    Phew, that was a read. Thank you Steven for taking the time and detailling so much. At the beginning you wrote that "Today’s blog post is about making WOA, not marketing or selling it." At least 50% felt like marketing to me. Or at least like "Please don't start unfounded rumours or blow what I just wrote out of proportion." It's sad that this seems necessary.

    I would love to hear more about the various improvements you made to the many subsystems to make it work.

  117. Heatlesssun says:

    So will there be any way to develop desktop apps on WOA?

  118. @Heatlesssun

    I assume the answer is "no." WOA is meant to compete with the iPad and with various Android tablets and would not be a good platform for anyone interested in desktop-like computing.

  119. @Steven Sinofsky

    A random question – have you given any thought to the official name of Windows 8? While "Windows 8" may work as a code name, I'm not sure it would be all that good in the marketplace – people buying a WOA Windows 8 tablet would expect it to run a minor upgrade to Windows 7.

    Besides, thanks to the whole Metro debacle, Windows 8 now has a certain stigma in my mind.

  120. @Heliogiroto says:

    O Office novo também roda em iPad?????

  121. @Heliogiroto says:

    WE WANT OFFICE FOR iPAD NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWW!!!!!

  122. @Steven Sinofsky

    Is it safe to say then that if MS Office were available on iPad there would be practically no advantages to choosing a WOA tablet over an iPad?

    I'm not sure MS is thinking this through clearly. Why not allow Win32 app development on WOA if the desktop is there and capable of it?

  123. Mike says:

    @aambro

    Why are you assuming WOA supports Win32 just because there is a desktop? Win32 is not meantioned anywhere in the artticle.

  124. @Mike

    If it makes you uncomfortable to call it Win32 then lets say whatever MS Office is running in, why can't 3rd party developers have access to build apps like that too?

    It just seems insane to me to recreate the entire Windows desktop on ARM for the sole purpose of running Office. To say there will be no future or past software developed for the ARM desktop is insane. The advantages of WOA over iPad are disappearing rapidly. If iPad gets MS Office there will be almost no advantages over an iPad.

  125. yln says:

    can i use my visual studio 2011 or 2012 on arm powered windows 8 device ?

  126. foljs says:

    """the presence of multiple models represents a flexible solution that provides a true no-compromise experience on any platform"""

    Actually the very presence of multiple older models is ALREADY a compromise.

    Nothing holds computing back, and especially Windows, like backwards compatibility. It's important to have it, but it's also important to know when to break it. This transition is one of those cases. It would be nice to take a clean break and remove all the cruft of the past, and all the compatibility layers, measures and shortcomings needed for it to function.

    You're just playing it safe (from a market perspective), at the cost of a better platform, more bugs and more legacy code and cruft to carry over.

    To serve customers invested in legacy stuff, in a new platform that is supposed to be a CLEAN BREAK anyway, you're doing a huge disservice to the future potential of your platform and your future customers.

  127. Pratik Mistry. says:

    Windows 8 is the best platform i could ever imagine, x86/x64/WOA. will win for sure. Woa will surely wow.. As it will be a middle thing between PC and Mobile, And For sure integration between Windows phone, Woa , Windows on x64,x86 will surely put competitor in to think for post-pc era

  128. Rukai says:

    Can't wait for that.!!!!

  129. Akram Anjum says:

    Is W8 going to support Tegra 2 processors?

  130. Okay, guys, please READ THE POST before asking questions.   These guys really have a lot better things to do than answer questions that are answered within.

    1) ARM desktop / native apps can be built with Visual Studio, but not yet.   C++ / C is native.  For any such App, the store will haev to have two binaries.

    2) An app targeting WinRT using either C# or Java (Just In Time compiled languages) can run without change or recompilation against the different runtimes on x64/x86 and ARM.  For those apps, there will be one package.

    I happen to like Windows 8, but not having time to write an app, I haven't used it much.  I will change that when the Consumer Preview comes out.  I scarfed one of the Dev Tablets, even though I couldn't make it //build/, and I hope the CP will have some control of battery life on that unit.  I'll keep checking with Samsung.

    There's no reason to not love Windows 8, unless of course you don't like the Metro UI.  In that case, you'll get used to it and like it after a while.  If you're not reasonable, you can stay back in Windows 7, or XP if that's the last OS you liked.

    Looking forward to the Consumer Preview with a lot of anticipation.

    Thanks, Steven and the team for a job well done.   I must have been awesome to be involved in something so huge!

    -e

  131. MDC says:

    This is a feature suggestion for windows, and a bit unrelated to the post. But in Windows Search could we have a built in calculator?

    For example: If I seach "1+2" I will get a result that 1+2=3 similar to spotlight search on os x.

  132. vijay yande says:

    I thought I would be able to install Windows on ARM machine just like I am doing currently with Windows7 or WindowsXP. Shouldnt this be possible? We have USB based DVD drives, We have 32GB, 64 GB SD cards.

    Please consider this requirement while developing.

  133. Robert Potter says:

    @Chief Scientist: I think 1) is a baseless assumption; indeed this very blog post contradicts the idea of us targeting the desktop on ARM without at least explicit MS approval.

  134. Franklin Bluth says:

    @vijay yande

    If you'd inconvenienced yourself with actually reading the article (specifically, about no standardization in the ARM world) you wouldn't have such questions.

    I have a question not completely related to ARM but to a touch interface availability. Maybe someone who developed an app for Win8 could answer me:

    Let's say there's an app – suppose it's a game – that requires 2+ finger touch input for functioning/gameplay. Since Win8 allows to install apps on up to 5 devices, I will have an ability to also install it on my non-touch Desktop. What happens then? App detects new controllers connected (keyboard or gamepad) and allows me to use them instead of multi-point touch? What if developer wasn't thorough enough and didn't include this capability?

  135. StevieBallz says:

    One commenter in here already answered why Microsoft does not want developers to be able to target Win32 on ARM tablets. He said that he built an App with a timer but that it didn't work to well as it got suspended in the background. He went on to say that problems were caused by him not handling the lifecycle events (App gets notified of being suspended, etc.) properly and that there were ways that WinRT inteded you to solve such situations (which work) but that it would take effort on his part to do so, so he wouldn't do it.

    That unwillingness to put some effort into development is what is the reason why UIs are often laggy in Win32, why Apps that should be idle burn through your battery, etc. (Why would a timer have to update it's UI if no one sees it at the moment?). WinRT forces developers to adopt their App to those usage scenarios and on truely mobile devices this simply is necessary.

  136. nil says:

    "our intent is to lead in the industry in providing end-user choice and control over the apps on your system and what you choose to run."

    "you will remain in control of what additional software is running on your behalf."

    "In all cases, Microsoft seeks to lead in end-user choice and control of what apps to use and what formats to support."

    So, I can flash my own bootloader and control the entire software stack from there? Install unsigned kernel-mode drivers? Run unsigned code from the internet? Use a third-party "app store", even? Oh. This is Marketing; I see.

  137. devCon says:

    I don´t see any use in this. And I believe Microsoft is riding a donkey while they should ride a horse.

    Ipad is a toy. I never understood why people would get one. But all kiddies now have already an iPad. Nobody will switch from iPad to WOA as it is simply the same thing, the same concept, locked like an iPad, dumb like an iPad. After smart phones we get dumb pads how ridicolous.

    But in future when Intel comes up with really energy efficient processors it will be possible to run real W8 on pad-computers and ARM will fade out. Nobody will buy a super restricted WOA if he can have an open W8 Intel pad.

    So instead of redoing W8 for ARM Microsoft should have supported Intel in building energy efficient processors and optimizing touch for them.

    The future will be laptop/pad mixture:  A touchscreen to which I can attach a physical keyboard and an operation system that can act on both worlds depending on the state of the computer: If the keyboard is attached it works like a laptop if the keyboard is removed it works like a touch. This would be innovation and this would not only beat the iPad, it would kill it.

    Too sad that Microsoft is spending a lot of time and money on developing toys for kids.

    But one thing is for sure: No WOA for me.

  138. Tim says:

    What surprises me the most is the lack of vision of Windows team.

  139. According to this blog post, it is not possible for ISV to build a product for WOA, which requires kernel-mode (networking) drivers.

    ISV's enterprise customers wants to use product requiring kernel-mode drivers also on WOA. Does Microsoft have any suggestions what ISV can do to satisfy customer needs?

  140. Martin says:

    Not a single word mentioning XNA support in Windows 8, I guess we all know right now where this is heading 🙁

    Anyway, great article, can't wait to buy new W8 tablet 🙂

  141. houp says:

    From technical point of view this could be a great news What we could get with Windows on ARM is fast laptops running countless hours on batteries. But unfortunately due to business constraints and limitations we will get a locked-down toy, supporting a "desktop mode", but only for a limited number of blessed MS-applications, and "metro mode" supporting only signed, verified, windows-stored apps with strange UI.

    Maybe I'm strange but I'd gladly replace my normal intel-powered laptop, with an ARM-powered laptop. Not table, phone or whatever. I like keyboards, mouses, command line and desktop mode. And I want to pay for that. Why don't Microsoft wants to sell me what I need? 🙂 Ah yes. Most probably because Intel is far richer then me and pays Microsoft for not allowing "full capabilities" on ARMs.

    Sucks…

  142. Martin Anderson says:

    @Martin

    XNA seems to be deprecated, but you can build a C++ game targeting the Direct X APIs so, that will lead to better performance.

    @devCon

    All the performance tweaks for SoC will carry over to Intel platforms, so when Intel release their better performing chips, Windows 8 performance will take advantage of that

    @nil

    The x86/x64 devices will allow you to do all your native kernal bits and bobs.  WoA is there for people who want a simplified PC experience.  Something Windows does not cater for at present, but iPad does.  There is a market for that, even if you don't want anything to do with it

  143. Aakash says:

    Are there going to be tablets with Windows 8 x86/64 ?

  144. Stefano says:

    Put a shutdown (Turn off PC) tile or button in the start screen, it would be so easy and handy to do, I think…

    Windows users could turn off PC or tablet or whatever with just 1 click.

  145. Richard says:

    Thanks Steven for the great post, speaking as a software developer this kind of detailed & transparent insight into the Win8 development process really helps to give us confidence in the platform. I can't wait to get my hands on a WOA tablet !

  146. w1ngnut says:

    This is an epic post. Stefen for president! =D

    Now, seriously… I'm so excited with the job you guys from Microsoft are doing. Windows 8 is REVOLUTION. Am so happy about the work, directions and decisions you have been making.

    This is the Microsoft we want to see! Metro, WP, Xbox, Kinect and now, Windows 8.

    You guys rock!

  147. Somebody says:

    I think Windows 8 is a incredible experience, but all this months using on a desktop i cant get used to it… The start screen is not really appropriate with a desktop with a 24'' LCD and mouse and keyboard. Its possible yes but i just cant make it a pleasent experience.

  148. @Sinofsky

    Hey man,

    I'm looking forward towards a pimped up, dockable windows 8 tablet with a dock holding 2 high definition HDMI outputs.  I've been waiting on such a PC for years.  I'm very happy to see that it is Microsoft that will deliver exactly that, instead of playing the current game of overglorified media players like the competition is doing 🙂

    But I have a quick question…  

    How about JIT?

    Can you confirm if porting a 100% WPF .NET application to ARM will be as easy as opening up visual studio, selecting "ARM CPU" in the solution properties and hit ctrl+shift+b?

    That would be so epic…

  149. @StevieBallz

    You said "That unwillingness to put some effort into development is what is the reason why UIs are often laggy in Win32, why Apps that should be idle burn through your battery, etc. (Why would a timer have to update it's UI if no one sees it at the moment?).".

    The problem for me is not updating the UI. Obviously, there is no need to update it while it is in the background, and I'm quite happy to write code to handle this situation.

    The problem is that I want to be able to update the internal state of the App while it is in the background, and to be able to send toast notifications to the user when a countdown timer reaches zero.

    Without the suspension, I could even use the window.setTimeout function from JavaScript to execute code to update the state only when the timer reaches 0. Therefore the app would not use any CPU while in background and waiting for the timer to expire, would have it's state always up to date, and it would also simplify development. While the app is in foreground, I could use window.setInterval to update the UI. But Microsoft doesn't trust me to handle the CPU usage / UI updates in an efficient way, so they suspend it, just in case my app is not written properly.

    And, using the standard JavaScript APIs to handle resource usage myself, it would be very easy to port the App to other HTML 5 platforms and benefit from the same reduced resource usage benefits.

    So the Metro/WinRT way to do it is to schedule the toast notifications for the time when the counters reach 0, save the state of the application on suspend and, when the application resumes, update the state taking into consideration what the state should have been if the application was running during that time.

    Also, if the application is evicted, when it starts again I have to reload the saved state and update the state as above.

    Furthermore, when the user pauses the timers, I have to un-schedule the toast notifications. And I would like to have other ways to notify the user, such as bringing my app automatically into foreground, instead of having the user click the toast notification, but that is not possible.

    The required changes to follow the guidelines are not huge but, between making this changes for my hobby app versus doing productive work I'm actually paid for, I chose to do the productive work. Especially since developers are not allowed to submit apps for Windows Store in my country.

    But, forget about me, I had the skills to do it properly, but I chose not to do it, the reason/justifications are not important. What is scary is that many developers will not have the skills to develop robust apps taking suspension/eviction into account, and this will result in buggy apps, that lose user data. While Microsoft doesn't trust developers to implement efficient apps, I don't trust developers to develop suspend-resistant apps.

    But even if the developers are willing and able to implement the app according to the guidelines, some stuff just can't be implemented properly due to current restrictions. As I said, video transcoders and other computationally intensive apps that NEED to be able to run in the background.

    I have another scenario, I currently experience with my Windows Phone due to this restrictions. I am a happy Windows Phone user, except for one application: a GPS recorder for my daily walks (called "Run the Map"). The GPS recording app doesn't work unless I leave it in foreground.

    While I walk, I like to take pictures. As soon as I open the camera app to take the picture, the GPS app is suspended AND simultaneously evicted, so it stops recording my moves while I take pictures.

    After I finish taking pictures, I have to remember to bring the GPS app to the foreground again before I begin walking. After I bring the app to the foreground the app starts again, reloads its state, then it has to find the GPS position again, this takes about 15 seconds, then I can finally start walking again.

    This is horrible user experience, even though the developer, in my opinion, correctly implemented the app according to the guidelines. This is a great candidate app for the "never suspend" capability.

    Combined with an API that allows the app to detect (or be notified) that is not in the foreground, so it can skip updating the UI, it would allow developers to write proper applications, not just toys.

    Let's be clear, the GPS recording app already consumes a lot of resources when it runs in the foreground, and it's normal and expected for such an application. What is not normal is that the end user has to take great care to keep it in the foreground, for the application to serve it's purpose.

    So in this case, the suspension/eviction model solves nothing, the app still uses the same resources in the foreground, but it annoys me extremely as a end user. I call that FAIL.

  150. So, let me get this straight: WOA will have a desktop, but existing applications CANNOT be recompiled to it.

    You do realize that this basically makes the desktop pointless…? Even without a direct emulation layer, the possibility to recompile the millions of existing software products to ARM could have been Windows 8's trump card in terms of versatility and usability. This is now gone.

    If you're that worried about power consumption, why not enable partial support at least? (With some functionality, like installing background services, disabled.) Or even better, why not let the users decide whether they want to kill their battery life with Mozilla Firefox, just to name an obvious application one might want(ed) to run on their WOA tablet? This so sad on so many levels….

  151. Vladimir-Corneliu Nicolici you seem like a very clever guy.why dont you build your own OS.

  152. Sammy says:

    @Chief Scientist, that's plain wrong.  We cannot and never will be able to build native apps that target the desktop on ARM. Only Microsoft will be able to do that (with IE, Office, and what ever products they decide to build for ARM desktop, e.g. Solitaire etc).  Don't go and spread completely false info.  The ONLY way for an ISV or third party developer to target ARM is through WinRT/Metro.

  153. Franklin Bluth says:

    I have a more on-topic question:

    What about multimedia codecs? Since it will be impossible to install those on WOA, does it mean that WOA will be limited to playing those video formats for which MS included video codecs? I'm not a developer, so I don't know how "deep" down could the Metro app go – is it possible to include all the codec code "inside" the Metro app so to speak? If yes, could this be hardware accelerated ("offloading" mentioned in the post) – or it will be software decoding (CPU-processed)?

    Also, I know a company that needs similar things to what Antti Järvinen mentions above – networking stack, as they provide VPN-software based on custom/local encryption algorithm. Does it mean there will be no way to provide their software for WOA?

  154. Andrey says:

    If indeed only MS can build desktop apps for WOA, I hope the wave of hatred will be high enough to bury MS with all their Windows. This said, either no desktop at all, and that will be OK or better, since if there is a desktop in WOA and there is no desktop in Windows Phone 8, then the Phone customers will not feel good, or let everybody to develop for the WOA desktop.

  155. sreesiv says:

    What a detailed post, if you are carefully reading and trying to make out the essence of the topics discussed in here, it will take hours.

    Wonder how much time he has spent preparing for this, and actually writing it!!! For sure it might have gone through multiple rounds of review, filters, marketing screening etc etc.

    Jokes apart, it is really very transparent and appreciate the effort.

  156. dsms says:

    Will Office 15 be also part of Windows 8 x86?

  157. TheGame says:

    This is off-topic, but what happened to the aero frame inner border? Right now in all the videos I've seen there is no inner border around the windows like in Windows 7. It just looks bad and unfinished. It seems you are putting more effort into the new metro stuff rather than the desktop. Hopefully the "consumer preview" is more polished.

  158. Almighurt says:

    This seems to be the biggest bullshit i've ever seen!

  159. Chefgon says:

    @Martin Anderson

    "XNA seems to be deprecated, but you can build a C++ game targeting the Direct X APIs so, that will lead to better performance."

    That's absurd. C++ is technically capable of superior performance if I have a team of engineers to write a highly efficient game engine, but if you have a team of one or two people who want to write a tablet game with limited budget and time then you're basically guaranteed to get superior performance out of a managed framework like XNA.

    That's the entire purpose of XNA. It's for indie game developers who don't have a team or a budget. Developing a sophisticated game on C++ with DirectX APIs is a much more difficult commitment for those people and it really sucks that Microsoft is shutting them out with Windows 8 even though they have all the necessary tools sitting right there.

    XNA going away has nothing to do with performance. It's a direct result of internal power struggles at Microsoft. Steven Sinofsky's team doesn't control XNA so it isn't included. That's the entire explanation, and it sucks.

  160. Stefano says:

    I'd buy an ARM notebook just for Office 15 preinstalled. Too bad it's not good for retail videogames, and no other programs except Microsoft ones and elements of Windows 8. I hope they are full versions of Office 15 programs (Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote), Home & Student edition could be fine. Give me an ARM notebook or tablet as a gift, thank you, eheheh! If they won't cost a lot, maybe I'd get one, who can tell. $99.99 or $199.99 could be a good price.

  161. I apologize if this is posted twice. My previous post didn't make it somehow.

    * I agree totally with not allowing users to install applications for ARM hardware outside of the windows store. At least for the first generation of ARM PCs, this will greatly help reduce consumer confusion and improve their experience with these PCs. They find software for their PC in one place and everything they see in the windows store is guaranteed to be compatible with their ARM device. That's a very good thing from a consumer's perspective.

    * I agree totally with the idea that it will be IMPOSSIBLE to get developers of win32 applications to do the same work Microsoft has done to Office, to get them to work well on low-power systems. The win32 API is simply not designed with those concerns in mind and probably never will be.

    * I agree totally with the idea that ARM devices will tend to be low-power, resource-constrained devices. In these circumstances, it is VERY important to users that they be given control over what applications can do on their device, when they run, etc… That control is not something people generally have when win32 applications are involved, as every other application installs some background service, updater, etc… Every application has its own kind of installer and uninstaller, and they don't work consistently. The windows store, WinRT app model is consistent, and WinRT apps are predictable in what resources they use and in how they are installed or uninstalled, and users have centralized control over what background services these applications run (and there are limitations in how much resources those services can take up).

    Where I DISAGREE with the direction the windows team is going (at least as far as I am interpreting it, I could be wrong about their intent) is in restricting altogether the ability for third parties to create some form of desktop "productivity" app for ARM devices. The fact that you are bringing the Office suite to ARM as a desktop app is a perfect example of why third parties need to be able to do this too. But how would you allow this, while still protecting users and not going against all of the above points?

    The solution, in my opinion, is NOT to allow developers to port WIN32 applications to the desktop ARM environment, but to allow developers to create WinRT applications, which are distributed through the Windows Store just like other Metro applications, but which can run in the Desktop environment. This would be a slightly extended version of WinRT – a sort of "WinRT Desktop App Profile".

    The extended features of the desktop profile might include additional controls for productivity apps, Load and Save dialogs that resemble the traditional Load and Save dialogs we're used to (but still allow you to go into the full-screen versions, for instance to access metro load/save dialog extensions), and any other functionality that is specific to the desktop, like the ability to manage multiple windows and modal dialogs.

    However, unlike win32 apps, WinRT Desktop Apps would use the same API, with some few extensions, as the full-screen metro apps, and thus would generally run well on low-power systems and use the same kind of application lifecycle events that Metro apps use. The only difference is in how the UI is laid out, with more of a focus on the kind of dense productivity app layout that you see in developer tools, photoshop, office, etc.. Although they could be made touch friendly, they don't necessarily need to be touch-centric (just like the new Office is touch friendly but not touch-centric).

    Another idea is that it would be interesting if part of the extended Desktop App profile included the ability for an app to support plugins. These plugins would be distributed on the windows store itself and would ALSO target the WinRT API. So for example, let's say Adobe released Photoshop as a WinRT desktop app. Part of the app meta-data would say that plugins for the app are supported, so that when the user downloaded Photoshop from the store, plugins for Photoshop would also appear in the store. Adobe would of course control who would be allowed to publish plugins for the app.

  162. Sorry, didn't wanna repeat the post, wanted to post as myself

    @Vladmir and others

    I wouldn't transcode video on an ARM device.

    I would do it on an AMD64 version of Windows. It would be a desktop app, not a metro app.

    You gps app works right like it should. Let's say you got a call and by he time you reached home, your

    all was done and you forgot your gps app was running. Then, your app would be running till it drains

    out your battery. (I know 100s of people(average phone users) who don't close or exit apps right from

    the times of symbian n other phone oses. This makes for a very inefficient, laggy and battery-draining

    phone which people don't like, which in result is detrimental to the entire brand and os of the phone

    indirectly scaring away developers (matter of months)). That's why waiting 15 seconds for resumption is

    preferable.

    You don't keep the door of your house open just because you might have a couple of friends coming over in the next 2 hours. You open the door for the friend, then close it. Similarly for each friend. Coz there are so many more people out there other than your friends.

    If you want vip cards and face recognition systems etc for only you friends, you need a better house,

    ie an AMD64 desktop.

    Arm is targeted at people who want an ipad (BUT AT THE SAME TIME ) a device which also shares it's

    primary UI with their desktop an their phone, not people who wanna dev or transcode stuff.

    This is what I think it would be like (predicting for win phone 8)

    Windows 8 AMD64/ x32  =  METRO + DESKTOP

    WOA                                =  METRO + Limited Desktop

    Windows 8 Phone           =  METRO

    METRO = LIVE ACCOUNT = SKYDRIVE = EVERYTHING LIVE = SYNCED APPS ETC ETC

    It's up to people to choose which they wanna buy, if 1, 2 or all 3.

    WPhone for people who want a handheld device which still has all the apps they love.

    WOA for people who want metro on a bigger screen with some more functionality but still phone-like

    battery life

    Windows AMD64 for people who want everything

    And All platforms come for all price ranges.

    $300 for a lumia 710  to $600 for highend phones

    $300 for an Intel atom netbook running Windows 8 32bit  to $600 for decent quad core lappies / desktops

    $300 for an arm tablet (low end) to $600 for good tablets

    So it's all about portability, battery life and priority when it come to choice.

    I wouldnt be someone who wants to transcode if I buy the WOA.

    I would want it last my entire bus (without a power socket) journey with my favorite games that I play on my desktop, at the same time the screen being big enough to watch a movie that would look small on my phone.

    Why WOA over ipad or android? coz METRO apps run on my desktop too.

    (Not to mention live tiles and the yummy goodness that comes with it)

    Windows 8 DROOOOOOOOL

    Come pretty soon and make our lives less complicated.

    –X–

  163. I have made my previous comment into a UserVoice suggestion here:

    visualstudio.uservoice.com/…/2587484-winrt-desktop-app-profile

    If you agree with me with regards to Desktop Apps on the windows store using WinRT, then vote for that suggestion! 🙂

  164. Asbjørn says:

    As others have already asked, how can it possibly be legal for Microsoft to favor their own applications in this way? If you provide the Desktop on ARM, then you cannot simply declare that only your own Win32 apps will be allowed. This is begging for an anti-trust case – if not in the US, then in the EU.

    And one more time: Metro is perfect on a tablet or other small-screen device. But it will not work on a proper computer with a large monitor, which is actually used for work. I do NOT want to be forced to run my apps fullscreen (and no, the primitive tiling does not count as anything other than fullscreen). For that reason, I am very glad to see that Office 15 is still a real Windows app. That of course also shows us that Metro/WinRT isn't suitable for full-fledged productivity apps.

    WinRT on its own, however, is a very good idea. A reset of the basic Windows APIs to something more modern has been long overdue. But you are ruining that by only using it for Metro. Why not allow real applications access to the new, powerful APIs? I can hardly see Adobe Photoshop or Visual Studio running in Metro… By doing this, your are really fragmenting the Windows application landscape, because serious applications will continue to be written in a real programming environment and not something meant for an enlarged smartphone.

    And Metro on its own is a beautiful design language. Look at the Zune client or Office 15 for examples. I would love to see the whole of Windows truly "reimagined" in Metro, and not merely slapping on Metro on top like it is currently. It clashes horribly with the Aero aesthetic from Windows 7 (which on its own is not too bad, either).

    Apart from the stupid idea of fullscreen apps (which I shall mitigate by using real desktop applications as much as possible), you have truly worked wonders with Windows 8. Performance is incredible and the stability of the DP is really good. Please don't ruin Windows 8 by removing the very core of Windows – the idea of overlapping windows.

  165. "As you can see, some of this engineering work is strictly adapting to the new hardware platform. Some introduces substantially new types of hardware support. In large part this work accrues to the x86/64 platform especially cutting edge products, such as the new low power ATOM® processors, demonstrated by Intel at CES."

    The WOA engineering is fascinating, and thanks for the detailed blog SS. There is a point that noone as yet has raised – how powerful is the ARM platform, in its current generation? Is it adequate for any serious work, or HD video? I find that Intel Atom based systems have good battery life, but are just not quite powerful enough for everyday use – video often stutters, switching browser tabs or windows can be painfully slow, boot times are lengthy and responsiveness after sleep is poor for up to a minute. Will WOA be any improvement on current gen Windows on Atom, regarding speed? (Btw, i also find almost every current gen CPU more powerful than the Atoms to be adequate, about 99% of the time, including the dual-core Celerons.)

    Intel have already commenced work on their 14nm (!) fabrication plant. By the time this is operational and the 4th or 5th gen Atoms are available, will anyone care much about ARM? Perhaps WOA is in part designed to improve Intel's low-power, high-efficiency CPU tech, due to the competition it provides. Worth giving away Office 15 Home and Student edition for that, and to bridge the gap until a good range of Metro apps are available? Sure. A touch risky though, and giving away Office does set a precedent, as well as a signal, plus it undermines Office's own reputation just a tad, by associating it with freeware. Probably a price worth paying though, if you're desperate to crack the tablet market – this being the raison d'être of the Windows 8 client editions (on both ARM *and* x86/x64). Regardless of what Intel can do to improve its low-end/super-efficiency CPUs, however, i would say Microsoft see ARM as the logical successor to x86, and Intel based Windows and app releases will fairly quickly transition to x64 only – particularly if WinRT/Metro is as successful as Microsoft believes it will be. Regarding 'jailbreaking' – this is probably not only expected, but also factored into the WOA platform's business model.

    "One of the new aspects of WOA you will notice is that you don’t turn off a WOA PC. WOA PCs will not have the traditional hibernate and sleep options with which we are familiar. Instead, WOA PCs always operate in the newly designed Connected Standby power mode, similar to the way you use a mobile phone today."

    A point worth noting, especially because it will have a major influence on the price of WOA systems, is that Connected Standby *requires an SSD*. The nature of Connected Standby is such that the spin-up time of traditional harddrives is not compatible with the goals and purpose of the new power mode. A Connected Standby compatible system must have a solid-state drive – at least for the SystemDrive partition.

    @Martin Anderson – "I hope in time that a File Explorer, and Version of Office will move from the Desktop to the WinRT Metro environment, and so the legacy "Desktop" environment/app can be deprecated on these devices."

    Difficult, given that Microsoft's own people no longer support the idea of using folders as organizational units. A file browser/manager without the concept of folders is a little hard to imagine. (Less so, but also true to some extent true for Office – hence Office 15 on the Desktop on WOA.) This attitude will severely limit Microsoft, given that any serious computing platfom must include some sort of file and folder heirarchical organizational capability – and by limiting this capability to the not quite touch compatible Desktop environment, they will be forced to either permanently compromise their tablet-targeted OS releases (and keep the ancient Desktop environment hanging around indefinately), or accept that the market status of Microsoft slate/tablet devices can never quite rise much above that of sophisticated toys. Quite the dilemma.

    "All other apps must be WinRT Metro style apps! AND THIS IS A GOOD THING!"

    Given that no member of the public has yet downloaded and used a Windows Store app, how can you have already made this judgment? Are WinRT/Metro apps good by definition?

    @Steven Sinofsky – "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."

    Given you are excluding all Desktop apps except Office 15 and a few built-in ones from the WOA platform, i think this position is going to require a fair bit of elaboration – at least that's what will be demanded from various interests. Hypothetically, if WOA were not only configured but completely hardwired to create user accounts as Users (rather than as split-token admins), and designed to only run validated and signed code, what possible excuse can there be for not allowing any signed, LUA compatible Desktop code to run? Why won't you let end-users make that choice, and in the process, prevent accusations of unfair treatment in favor of MSFT's own apps (Office 15 and IE 10), to be eliminated by necessity? Even more importantly, as it regards the general value of Metro type apps, why can't you just let these win, *on their merits*? Are not WinRT/Metro apps the future of Windows, because they *add value* to the platform? So why not let this alone be the deciding factor in the triumph of Metro, rather than by disadvantaging classic apps, which in the case of WOA of course means not allowing the vast majority of them to run at all? If WinRT/Metro style apps are so great, then why the need to rig the game in its/their favor, and disadvantage customers and vendors of classic apps, in the process? There seems to be an issue of confidence here.

    @John "OK, then please include the Win 7 start menu on the desktop." "Metro is all nice, but on the desktop I really need the normal start menu, not the start screen." "At least include an option to enable it, that doesn't hurt. Metro fans can disable the start menu and get the naked taskbar, serious desktop users can enable it and continue to be productive and get work done."

    Hi John. I'm sympathetic to your position, but this just ain't gonna happen. Microsoft have already lambasted the existing start menu in previous posts of this blog. There is simply no way they can keep it now, even as an option. It's gone, forever. You, and everyone else that shares your PoV need to move on to Plan B. The following link is to my idea of a having a surrogate start menu – hidden by default but easily accessbile, and which appears on the desktop. Probably a little clunky to use, but would have its benefits over the existing start menu, such as larger targets and more room for search results, plus easy drag-and-drop to the Taskbar, and with no painful Desktop ↔ Metro shell transitions required (unless of course the user had business that related specifically to functionality only available within the Metro shell, by necessity – running a Metro app being the obvious example).

    blogs.msdn.com/…/acting-on-file-management-feedback.aspx

    Microsoft could remove the start menu entirely, without eliminating it in functional terms, keep everyone onside, and maintain the Winkey plus Start orb replacement as the portals to the Metro shell. Given that the start menu's disappearance is the main controversy of Windows 8, and really the only element holding back its widespread acceptance, the surrogate start menu is an an idea worthy of serious consideration.

  166. Alex Badescu says:

    everyone get this straight: if you want Win32 apps, you have the x86/x64 tablets/laptops available. if you don't want that solution, buy a WOA tablet. METRO apps are fundamentally different in target from Win32 apps. Photoshop is designed in a non-METRO fashion and that is how it should be. "Angry Birds" is more METRO. I didn't see anyone complaining about this for the iPad (incompatibility for apps) or the iPhone. Is not like MSFT isn't giving you a solution.. it just gives you more solutions.

    Intel will launch their new platform architecture for ATOM processors (Silvermont) next year that will be more efficient than current Medfield cores(which i understood provide ok battery life); also Medfield dual-cores are due in the fall(this is dissappointing considering the fact that Tegra is much more in front). You should calm down, Intel/AMD won't let ARM snatch their share of the market. x86/x64 will be the more-successful platform in the long run considering more advanced results in transistor production size, power and easy OS compatibility due to a non-personalized OS.

  167. I really and truly don't understand why do you insist on keeping ribbon in explorer in the "old" design from current Live programs wave while you CLEARLY have newer design for ribbon in new Office. Thats something that i won't understand in a million years. When you release Windows 8 we will have this old design in explorer – so after you release new Office we can see how much better Windows 8 could have looked and brag about it? Why the hell do you want to torture us? Be consitent. Either make ribbon with new design or make new office in old design (please don't).

  168. Prayaas says:

    And about the ribbon, you can either make it like Office 2010 or you can make the interface of the explorer similar to the new Office 15 'Technical Preview'. That would look better and consistent. Aero is so old now, Better is the new design like Office 15.

  169. Waethorn says:

    No integrated activity hubs in Windows8/WOA ala WP7.x?  :'(

  170. Matthew says:

    You know…  There's already an iPad.  There's already Android tablets.  Why do I want to purchase a bifurcated windows experience?  Seriously, I skipped caring about Windows Phone 7 because it's not windows and doesn't address anything I need.  Apple's tablet is way ahead of you Peter.  Why do I want it?

  171. kinect_dev says:

    I love the idea of Windows on ARM, however, if I can't port existing desktop apps over to ARM then it's not very useful to me. That's not really a problem, I would probably just opt for the x86 hardware. I hear great things about Intel's new low-power chips.

  172. Sammy says:

    Let me get this straight – what you're asking loyal Win32 developers with years of experience and millions of lines of code to write in an API that will ONLY run on Windows 8 ARM? Developers tend to hate to write for ONE platform and instead love to write code that works well in a backward compat scenario but "lights up" under newer OSes.  This has been the case since Windows 3.0 and up. Somehow you think that this Metro/WinRT thing is so revolutionary that you have to BREAK ties to the past.  Didn't you try this one time before? (.NET)

    This alone will kill the platform. You can't expect us to write to an API that will not even have a chance of running under Windows 7 and lower.  What do you expect us to do, ship two entirely different codebases, one for Windows 8 and one for all other operating systems?

    WOA=DOA

  173. End User says:

    The market has pretty much proven in many cases that people will have a machine with full capabilities like a laptop that is backward compatible and will run everything you need it to run (i.e. x86/x64) + people will buy other devices (thinner & lighter) that give them longer battery life because of the architecture of those unique devices and the optimized applications running on them.  People do buy more than 1 device.  I want an WOA device where I can jump on a 10 -14 hour flight watch movies, respond to email, play games, etc.  I don't want retrofitted power hungry legacy applications running on a new branch of hardware devices for Windows that aren't tuned for that user scenario or more importantly supported by the hardware.  ARM is a different thing.  I think owning two+ devices isn't a bad thing.  I'm excited to have both + a phone.  And it sounds like if one is writing applications for WinRT that will move across all devices.  It's not an either or.  For developers I realize that it's going to take some work.  But I'm excited at the prospect of commonality across devices with Windows being the pivot point.

    I do respect most everyones thoughts here by the way.  This is a great conversation.

  174. will says:

    windows 8 beta looks good.

  175. Dan says:

    With all the restrictions, looks like WOA is DOA.

  176. nick says:

    so far so good.

  177. Perhaps this will be addressed in a later post, or when WOA SKUs are announced, but I'd like to know how WOA fits into the enterprise.  Will WOA be able to join a domain like it's x86/x64 counterpart?  Will we be able to use Group Policy to manage WOA devices?  So on, and so on.

    So far, I am incredibly impressed with WOA and Windows 8.  I know I'll be able to sell these–A LOT of these.  But, my larger clients are going to want to know how WOA fits into their corporate network.

  178. Great work on ARM!  I am looking forward to it, but i think, like others said already that it might be a problem with the antitrust law in the EU  that only Office 15 is allowed on ARM as a Desktop app and no 3 party apps.

    @Steven Sinofsky

    1. Do you maybe offer a post for us, which is like "Behind the Scenes of the Windows Team"? Would be interesting to know how you test your builds!

    2. Will provide an updated Building Windows Video 1 for the Consumer Preview at the end of february?

    best regards

  179. BurningOrange says:

    <inserts $20 note> just to see if you read all the way down here…

  180. Havoc70 says:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    I currently have the DP running dual boot with Win 7.  Are we going to be able to upgrade from DP to CP? or will CP require a full install ?

  181. @Steven Sinofsky

    "there is no pre-registration or admission to a test program—just download it"

    Does that mean there won't be a "Win8 *Tech Beta*" program like you had for Win7/Vista/XP?

  182. ARM has no future, just because it is dominant now due lack of x86 counter part it doesn't mean it will have future. Looking for x86 based Smart Phones and Tablets this spring with Android 4.0 in it. ARM will never be fast as x86 therefore it will die in 2 years. That's my projection at least which means this is waste of time development.

  183. @C-Dan. Art Liberated

    "I wouldn't transcode video on an ARM device."

    I probably wouldn't do that either, but it would be nice to know that I could do it if I need to, and anyway, transcoding was just an example. You can also think file compression/decompression, applying a complicated filter in a photo editing app, etc.

    I'm sorry, you can call this behavior however you want, but this is not real multitasking.

    "You gps app works right like it should. Let's say you got a call and by he time you reached home, your all was done and you forgot your gps app was running. Then, your app would be running till it drains out your battery. (I know 100s of people(average phone users) who don't close or exit apps right from the times of symbian n other phone oses. This makes for a very inefficient, laggy and battery-draining phone which people don't like, which in result is detrimental to the entire brand and os of the phone indirectly scaring away developers (matter of months)). That's why waiting 15 seconds for resumption is preferable."

    I completely agree with that, I understand the purpose of the suspend feature and why it is needed, and I love that my HTC Radar Windows Phone had an uptime of over 7 days without recharging, when I used it very lightly.

    However, as a Windows user, I expect to be able to override/disable that default suspend behavior for some Apps. Require the user to type "I understand that disabling automatic suspend for this app may severely reduce battery life." before allowing the user to configure it, but allow configuring this behavior (of course I'm exaggerating, but you get the point). This can also be mitigated by notifying the user every 15 minutes "you have a long running background app, that may affect battery life, do you want to stop it?". When there's a will there's a way.

    But what I see here is the Apple way. That's why I gave up Apple products (a MacBook Pro) after 6 months of trying to get used to it. I felt to much power was taken away from the me, even comparing it with MacOS 9. Stuff like "you cannot resize a window from all sides and corners, because a user might resize the window by accident when trying to scroll using the scrollbar on the right, then get confused". Hundreds of little details like this made me return to Windows. BTW, they fixed this resize issue in Lion, but it's too late, I will probably not try MacOS again until the next decade.

    Consider another use case for GPS. Let's say you use your GPS in your car to help you drive in an unknown region. Let's say that you receive a call and answer it via your hands free. Do you really want the GPS app to be disabled during this this time and not warn you to exit the highway, causing you to miss the exit and resulting in tens of kilometers of additional driving to get back on track? And even after you end your call to take 15 seconds to resume? I would not use such an app.

    "You don't keep the door of your house open just because you might have a couple of friends coming over in the next 2 hours. You open the door for the friend, then close it. Similarly for each friend. Coz there are so many more people out there other than your friends."

    Depending on the situation, you might want to keep your door open. Maybe you just want to get some fresh air into the house. Imagine when I want to do that, but the "Windows House OS 9.0" operating system, announces, with a Siri voice:

    "An open door was detected, while none of your friends are within a 500 meter radius around your house. To protect your home, the door is closing in 3, 2, 1 – door close complete.".

    And there is nothing you can do to configure your house not to do that – your only option not to have the door close automatically is to stand in front of the door sensor. I bet you would like that feature. I also bet you would also want it to be optional.

    All this reminds me of a discussion on an Oracle Database blog. There is a database option named "ARCHIVELOG", that enables/disables the archival of redo logs containing transactions. Not having this option enabled can lead to severe unrecoverable database corruption. An Oracle employee joked that disabling this option is equivalent to enabling the option "I_WANT_TO_LOSE_DATA". However, they still provide the option to disable it.

    That is giving power to your users, not the condescending way invented by Apple to make you safe by taking features away from you.

  184. Stefano says:

    ARM tablets will be great if their price will be low.

    I'm wondering if it would be possible to have a Ethernet connection port on tablets, for users without Wi-Fi connections (especially outside USA) or for users who prefer Ethernet at home.

  185. @Stefano

    Most of the tablets, maybe even all will come out with a docking station which have an Ethernet port!

    Just forget to ask will you offer the Windows Live Essentials Suite on ARM or is Office the only exception?

  186. Microsoft, why you can't make a simulator to run x86 software?

    Such as Apple move from PowerPC to Intel rosetta simulater.

  187. With no browser plug-ins allowed, no legacy program support, and no app development allowed for desktop I worry that day one I get a WOA tablet that I won't be able to do anything that I need to:

    With WOA I won't be able to:

    Print or scan from my Lexmark printer/scanner

    Update my router's firmware

    Download HTML5 videos or view Flash videos

    Sync my FitBit

    Program my Harmony universal remote

    Update my Neato Vac firmware

    Use Photoshop

    Use my essential Firefox/Chrome add-ons (At least 40% of browser market relies on these)

    Create apps for Windows Phone or Windows 8

    This of course is just the tip of the iceberg as I am only one person and everyone has specific needs.

    Selling this experience under the banner of "no-compromise" seems disingenuous. I hope they spend the next year convincing me that WOA will be far more capable of handling these types of tasks.

    Consumers have very high expectations for what a product called "Windows" is capable of doing. Netbooks fell short of those high expectations and consumers left dissatisfied and burnt by the purchase. I hope that MS is not repeating the same mistake with WOA.

  188. LD says:

    @Asbjørn

    My concern is now we may have to develop for two UI's at some point we'll simplify and the desktop variant may cease to exist. Then people that use the desktop to produce content will be in a bad state.  

    I'm concerned that MS has not and seems unwilling to respond to some important elements:

    – Allowing users to Disable the new start menu and use the windows 7 model

    –  Allowing Metro apps run in a desktop window

    – How can a user keep tiles from becoming nagware – I really don't want my tiles to act like flashing ad space or upgrade nags for apps I rarely use

    I'm concerned that MS is keeping silent about this, with no news we naturally drift to the worst case. I already feel like metro IS the worst case.

  189. TIM says:

    I can Picture Microsofties with their Eyes Wide open saying Money Money Store Store metro metro.

  190. @LD You have no understanding of WinRT is.

    The new Start menu is the future of Windows. They are not going to allow you or encourage you to disable it. It is the entire point of this release. WinRT apps can be deployed across all Microsoft devices without programmers having to change the code at all.

    Metro apps cannot run in a desktop window. They are two different environments. It's like asking for MS to make all of your desktop apps run inside of MS DOS.

    If a tile were used as nagware you can unpin it from the start screen. You choose the live tiles that display on the start screen and where they are located.  

  191. Claton says:

    I hope you guys are investigating Windows 8 ARM on HP TouchPad .. the one that got sold for $99 ..but now there is a lot of demand for it on ebay and craigslist.. this will get you a lot of folks running on WebOS & Android to Windows 8..

  192. @Claton

    If WOA ever runs on the HP TouchPad, it won't be because of anything Microsoft did. The HP TouchPad is a proprietary device created by HP and has been discontinued. Nothing in Microsoft's strategy suggests that there will be any way end users to install WOA on anything.

    If WOA ever works on the HP TouchPad, it will be an illegal, hacked version (stay away from those).

  193. MichaelB says:

    <red77star 10 Feb 2012 11:21 AM #

    ARM has no future, just because it is dominant now due lack of x86 counter part it doesn't mean it will have future. Looking for x86 based Smart Phones and Tablets this spring with Android 4.0 in it. ARM will never be fast as x86 therefore it will die in 2 years. That's my projection at least which means this is waste of time development.>

    Tegra 3 was announced a month ago.  Four core 2.5 GHZ.  Do you think ARM will stop innovating because

    they fear Intel???  Will Nvidia?  What about CPU/power (the MIPS/watt ratio?).  What about the fact "low power" Core 2 DUO notebooks (about 2.0-2.5 GHZ) in the $ 300 price range outsell high power notebooks

    (i7) in the $ 600 price range by more than 2 to 1?

  194. @Vladmir

    But that's what. They are giving the power to the desktop user and not wphone users like my granny or my female not-so-tech-savvy friends. They love the eye-candy and the simplicity. They don't want too many options that confuse them. I agree with that "going the apple way" But apple sells.  Remember windows mobile 6? Microsoft never made much headway with that. But mango phones are selling like hot cakes now (at least around here and from news around the world).

    Even I like full power to the user, but the majority aint me or you. And we always have android if we wanna tweak a mobile OS to the point of breaking it.

    Anyway if I wanted full control, why would I go for WOA? I bet x86 slates with full Desktop + metro will be as cheap as $300 soon.

    WOA fits the requirement of people who want an (like I said earlier) ipad-like experience (but with better Metro :D) but with live stuff n apps they already have on their desktop. It would be better to go for win8 enthusiast pc + WOA/Phone for better inter-compatibility/sync than having a windows pc + ipad/android.

    (I didn't like apple osx for the same reasons, 😀 yeah they fixed some issues in lion but it is still a very restrictive OS. That's why I love the windows desktop. With linux the restriction is so less that I end up messing my distro completely in not more than 1 month 😀 So Windows desktop is the right balance. WOA and WPhone are just to uncomplicate life. When I unboxed the Lumia, I was so excited but when I found out about the contacts import problems, bluetooth file transfer problems, I was a bit pissed but in the next few days, my phone experience felt very comfy. I dont find myself fidgeting with the phone unnecessarily, I download only the apps that I really want. Adding people to the hub doesnt feel like a chore like in my previous phones. SOmehow it feels clear and light and a change from the control freak I am on my enthusiast desktop)

    So I think Metro will do our hearts a jolly lot of good in the long run.

  195. @aambro – "If a tile were used as nagware you can unpin it from the start screen."

    LOL. So how do you open the app, in that case? You seem to be so keen on the Start screen that you're forgetting what the fundamental purpose of a start menu is – to launch apps and open files, and otherwise to stay out of the face of users. Simply advising people that they can unpin unpleasant tiles is not even close to being an acceptable response. What Microsoft will have to do is enable multiple tile display modes, which allow users to switch between graphical, data and traditional icon + text views – on both a per tile and per group basis. This might take a lot more work on Microsoft's behalf, but this would only demonstrate that the Metro shell is far from ready for general release.

    It gets worse – rather than releasing WOA with a decent suite of Metro style apps to showcase the new platform (a port of Windows Live Essentials being the prime candidate), they are bundling their first WOA release with desktop Office! A productivity suite is just what you want on a tablet – not. Tablets are about keeping up with friends, and for most people who use them, they have little or no other purpose. Certainly, doing spreadsheets is not what the average tablet user is concerned about. To some extent, users are not even particularly concerned by battery life. Why do you think so many buy Core i5 or i7 notebook and laptop models with additional AMD/Nvidia display modules, and then proceed to do nothing with these machines that an Atom or one of Intel's ULV chips could not easily cope with? People like to convince themselves they need powerful machines, and regardless, the end-user value of long battery life follows diminishing returns after about 8 hours. The difference between a machine with 12, or even 10 hours battery life, compared to a machine with 14 hours, would be almost academic for a large majority of consumers. If this were not true, and people placed battery life high on their priority lists, we would already see this reflected in their purchasing patterns, and Core i3/5/7 models would be rare, but that is not the case.

    "You choose the live tiles that display on the start screen and where they are located."

    What a bore. I've got better things to do than constantly designing start menus. Do people delete the multitude of unused app icons on Android/iPhone/iPad systems, let alone spend time actually designing layouts? No.

    @LD – "-  Allowing Metro apps run in a desktop window"

    How about allowing Metro apps to run in a Metro window? Haven't heard of a Metro window? Sure you have, except that in the Metro environment they are called 'groups', not 'windows'.

    Dilate your minds, people.

  196. coco says:

    Can you pls explain how the hell a NVIDIA DENVER APU could execute 3dsmax, photoshop, maya, etc… if WinRt does NOOOOT support plug-ins? Can you pls explain how the hell an application like Maya with tons of buttons could run as a winRT touch app? It's ridiculous.

    You simply make an absolutely WRONG decision: a table is NOT a desktop computer. Bad, very bad.

  197. Horace says:

    It is a small step forward. At this moment, Windows has been running well in TI DSP which was a modification from ARM Processor. However, by developing Windows for ARM, this brings new competition (ARM Processors and TI DSP) to Intel and able to ensure the reliability of Intel Processors. (In fact, ARM and TI have less error rate than Intel processors.)

  198. @Steven Sinofsky

    Will Windows Server 8 (beta) be available at the same time as the Customer Preview of Windows 8 client?  If not, will paying TechNet subscribers have the ability to download?

  199. @coco

    Really!?  You are looking to run heavy, desktop-based, workstation-class applications from publishers such as Autodesk, Adobe, etc, on a ARM based tablet?

  200. @edisonfok

    Did you read the post?

    "Previously we have detailed that WOA will not support any type of virtualization or emulation approach, and will not enable existing x86/64 applications to be ported or run. Supporting various forms of emulation runs counter to the goal of delivering a product that takes a modern approach to system reliability and predictability—by definition, existing code has not been optimized for the platform the way WOA has. Virtualized or emulated software will consume system resources, including battery life and CPU, at unacceptable levels. Emulation and virtualization of existing x86/64 software also require the traditional PC environment of mouse and keyboard, which is not a good assumption for WOA PCs."

  201. @Drewfus

    They have this thing called "Windows Phone 7" which has been out for over a year. Maybe take a look at it sometime and you'll understand better how things are going to work on Windows 8.

    If a developer uses an app's live tile inappropriately (for example as nagware) the Windows Store reviews and rankings will reflect that. The user reviews will be negative and mention the drawback, fewer people will download the app, and it will decrease in the rankings. Someone else will develop a competing app without those drawbacks and it will rise in the rankings. If the use of the live tile is really inappropriate it will get rejected from the Windows Store by Microsoft.

    There are 2 tile display modes available for the user. You can resize single and double wide tiles to your liking. Text-only or icon-only tiles are probably settings that are rightfully left to the developer to decide and not something that Microsoft is dictating as mandatory.

    Finally WOA is not just for tablets. WOA is meant to be used on a huge variety of hardware types (hybrids, docks, ultra-light laptops, net tops, etc.). This is not a tablet OS, this is an all devices OS. By users MS Office is the most important app suite on any platform in existence.

  202. Just in case anyone's wondering how MS will prevent non-Microsoft desktop apps from running on WOA even if Visual Studio 11 may have ARM compilers, Mary Jo Foley clarifies Microsoft's plan here: http://www.zdnet.com/…/11845  "WOA (Windows on ARM) platforms will require that all desktop binary images be signed with a trusted Microsoft certificate. Any unsigned code will fail to load … This … does not cover Metro Style applications for which there is a separately documented signing requirement and developer licensing"

  203. xpclient says:

    The only reason I can think of for Microsoft not allowing desktop apps on WOA is battery life however the Metro style apps being ideal and well-engineered for tablets both from UI and battery life point of view, come to think of it, I think Microsoft has made a very well thought out decision for not allowing desktop apps on WOA. My initial reaction was of shock due to concerns over the possibility of Microsoft pulling support for running desktop apps from x86 some day in the future, but as long as that doesn't happen, I see now why Microsoft made this decision. Now I wonder why then does Microsoft not spin off the whole Metro idea into a separate for-ARM Windows product and leave the desktop interface and app ecosystem that made Windows super-successful alone. Allowing Metro style apps to run on x86 seems to be a mistake now, as it will compete unnecessarily with the desktop ecosystem.

  204. The UI that's so close yet so far says:

    I feel like with it's recent efforts, Microsoft is extremely close to realizing its dream of "Windows Everywhere."

    The problem is that the Metro UI works on everything but the laptop and desktop due to the presence of the mouse and keyboard. So the question becomes what can MS do to reconcile the differences in UI instead of just shoehorning them into some hideous juxtaposition. Here is my proposal: Merge the Metro UI and Desktop UI so that the Metro UI becomes an interactive Wallpaper and thus the true Start screen! And on touch devices like tablets make it so the taskbar shows up when you swipe up from the bottom. This way we also get a good way to multitask too. Here's what it would look like:

    i40.tinypic.com/1z1u59x.png

    And to top it all off why not just:

    1)Replace Windows Phone with Windows 8

    2)Add Mac-like Expose and Spaces

    3)Integrate Skype seamlessly into the OS for IP calling/texting

    4)Make a Metro version of Media Center

    5)Allow Metro-hatters to just change the wallpaper to some static image and thus avoid it all together!

    Now everyone is happy!

  205. Afterthought says:

    I don´t think simply copying Apples concept is enough for success. A lot of users have chosen Windows for the degree of control they have over their system with all the chances to adminstrate and customize it.

    Now Microsoft is taking away control from the users applestyle. I believe this is a big mistake.

    Windows is somewhere between Linux and Apple. A closed system but very open in a way. Microsoft is heading towards closing the system like Apple. But if I want Apple, I would buy Apple. Apple users have accepted the locked systems because Apple was very innovative. A trade off users would accept. Without innovation, this concept does not work as the the marginal Windows Phone sales show. Android = more open than Apple = success. Windows Phone = Applestyle = no success.

    As windows users are used to have power over their system taking away those powers without real innovation will never work.

    As I see Windows 8 going Applestyle I can image Microsoft managers only see Appledollars but don´t understand why Apple is successfull and why Microsoft is not when simply copying apples way. Microsoft need to learn the hard way, like they did with Zune or Vista.

  206. xsyr says:

    Microsoft, please build in Office 15 also in Windows 8 x86/64. This is my only wish.

  207. I don't see a mention of Windows Live apps in this post but saw them mentioned in Steven Sinofsky's interview with a tech site. Will desktop Windows Live Essentials apps be available on ARM through Windows Update? And essential apps like Zune software (so you can sync your Zune and Windows Phone) and Adobe Reader which is required for full PDF reading fidelity?

  208. Stefano says:

    @Bastian92

    Thank you. I have also discovered the existance of the "Ethernet to USB 2.0" small converters. They cost less than a docking station, if they work well, I'll go for one of them. USB 3.0 is not necessary, my Internet connection doesn't reach the higher speeds of USB 3.0 (and USB 2.0 as well) anyway. It's OK for me 🙂

    I can't wait for Christmas 2012 and an ARM tablet with Windows 8, Office (2013) and Ethernet connectivity for updates 😀

  209. 6205 says:

    I am still waiting to see a new, beautiful visual style for Windows 8 and a blog post about his evolution…

  210. TristanSDX says:

    Win 8 is build around 'no compromise greedy'

    Money, Metro, Strore are keywords for this project

    M$ execs cannot sleep, when they think about Apple profits and market cap

  211. Mahdi says:

    So, this means that nobody except Microsoft can develop Desktop apps for WOA, right?!

    If true, why?

    And if false, Can desktop .Net applications be compiled for WOA desktop?

    And another question is, will Visual Studio available for WOA? (Run Visual Studio on WOA)

    Regards

  212. Daniel says:

    * Will WOA be limited to certain form factors such as tablet?

    If not I do expect quite powerful ARM based "netbooks" and laptops in a not to distant future and as such I as a user do want to be able to run desktop applications on the computer especially OS is called windows.

    According to the blog it sounds like an "Windows On Arm" computer won't be a Windows computer, but just a "metro" device which will not even be able to access my bank or use several government sites (who requires electronic id which in turn relies on a java client/browser pluigin).

    *Will there be any option for deploying non metro LOB applications within a company?

    Of couse the application need to be signed, but with a trusted third party certificate and not a MS cert.

    * You do have a excellent tecnology called .NET which should allow an application to run unmodified on different architectures, prevent us users from running applications such as ex Paint.NET.Why not just take advantage of that the majority of .NET applications should run just fine on ARM. Don't blame it on power consumption because then you just sound stupid because anyone can understand that for example photo editing software consumes the same amount of power when running as a metro app as when running as a winforms app when both perform the same computations.

    * That it seems like neither .NET nor "Silverlight" will be present on the WOA OS make me wonder why you don't seem to have any strategy for allowing applications (not web pages) to run accros all modern windows operating systems (windows 7, windows 8 and WOA).

  213. Rohit says:

    will the consumer preview be an update over dev preview?

    or will it have to be downloaded separately?

    if so how big will the 64-bit version will be?

    A GREAT JOB ON THE DEV PREVIEW GUYS!!!

    KEEP MOVING AHEAD!!

  214. Great information. Can't wait for Windows 8.

  215. Stefano says:

    I'm excited about an ARM tablet, but I'd like to understand what applications could be developed for its desktop version as well. Only Microsoft ones? And the browser plug-ins for IE10, will they work? Flash player, OK I could play ONLY HTML5 videos online even if not all sites use HTML5 at the moment. Many apps could be downloaded from the Store, even for free, that's ok. I mean, from the video I deduce that on ARM I could use videos (.mpg, .wmv, .mov, etc…), photos (.jpg, .bmp, etc…), music files (.mp3, etc…). I hope the .mov QuickTime format will be playable, otherwise there won't be an installable QuickTime version for ARM… OK, no retail DVD games or software like Nero Burning Rom, it doesn't matter. Bad luck for them, LOL!

    May you please list all the file extensions that will work 100% on an ARM tablet or PC with Windows 8?

    Thank you.

    These are my doubts…

    😀

  216. JohannesB says:

    I love this approach by Microsoft, it is the best way to compete with and surpass their competitors. The only concern I have is how rich applications will translate to Metro/WinRT. If Office 15 is hard to do for Metro, then I think we may have a problem. Hopefully MS have thought this through.

  217. Want to be a Fan... says:

    I have to admit, I have wanted to be a fan of Windows 8, I've wanted to believe that things will be set right.

    But the fact is that even this announcement is hollow.  

    What people aren't really noticing about this announcement is that there is no mention of OUTLOOK in the version of "office" that will ship on ARM based Windows 8 tablets.

    Which makes an ARM based Windows 8 slate DOA in the hands of business users.  

    In fact it looks like there is a cruddy mail client (that was probably built from scratch and is probably missing things like copy and paste) instead of a real mail client.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft stick it to business customers and have them pay $300.00 more per tablet for the privilege of running Outlook on an ARM based Windows tablet.  Which will most likely make the "business" version of these tablets cost $200 to $400.00 more than iPad's.  

    Which businesses will obviously balk at and just go right on buying iPads as they are today….

  218. Paja says:

    I would like to share my few ideas that could be added to Win8:

    1) Flicker-free window resizing:

    All editions of desktop Windows share the same glitch – if you try to resize any window (Windows Explorer, Notepad, …) you will see that the toolbars and stuff inside the window frame do not resize synchronously with the window frame. I tested this in Win8 preview and it's still there… Compositor of Mac OS X has sorted this out long time ago, thus resizing on that system is perfect. Because of backward-compatibility, this would probably require introduction of new API (and changes to the DWM), which is fine – as long as there is a way to make applications with proper resizing presentation. As a side note, hardware accelerated WPF applications suffer from the same glitches as any other app. More information here:

    connect.microsoft.com/…/custom-resizing-of-system-windows-window-flickers

    2) SkyDrive client-side encryption:

    I'm not very comfortable with the fact that my data, photos etc would get uploaded to the cloud unencrypted (not talking about SSL…). But I would still like to use that service, so I would really like client-side encryption, so that only I can access the data, even if the data center gets hacked.

    3) UAC-like x86 virtualization on WOA:

    I've already read all the arguments against x86 virtualization on WOA, such as malware prevention etc… But I feel like Win8 should be about possibilities and not limitations. Thus, running x86 app on ARM might require UAC-like confirmation, where you would be told you should look for ARM alternative, but with button "Run anyway". You could also get monthly non-intrusive performance reports, where you would be told which apps you use are virtualized, how much battery they consumed and that because of these apps the battery is depleted… The UAC-like confirmations could be disabled in settings, but would be on by default. I strongly believe x86 virtualization on WOA would be the greatest innovation ever, even with all it's problems and power-inefficiency. I still 100% prefer UAC-like virtualization confirmations over no virtualization at all.

  219. CvP says:

    awesome. wish I could get on woa pc now too 😀

    I have a question. Did you guys fix the "click on bottom left during fullscreen gaming/video playback bringing up metro" problem?

    It is very annoying when you are in the middle of a battle in a game and the game minimizes cause you click on bottom left.

  220. Rico Alexander says:

    Appreciate all the work you guys have put into this.  My main concern with WOA was one of the most attractive element of a windows tablet was being able to do content creation on the same machine you use for media consumption.  With the choices made here it doesn't seem that advantage is there anymore since you can't develop desktop apps and things like visual studio will not be supported and likely would not work well with a metro interface.  In that respect it seems like the metro interface is a step backward in functionality and step forward in simplicity and resource usage.

  221. anilkirugavalu says:

    @ Steven..

    Intel drivers , amd , nvidia , Epson hp brother canon..  printer drivers.. some application don't run without drivers..  plz  give us something on it..

  222. @Paja

    x86 is NOT being emulated for a reason. they CLEARLY stated it's for experience and obviously licensing issues. it WON'T HAPPEN, and malware is the least of Microsofts concern. in short, grow a brain, retard.

  223. I hope that Windows on ARM sold to OEM and enthusiast person (who playing Windows 8 ARM to their ARM device prototype like; they use Windows 8 ARM on BeagleBoard-xM)

  224. sam says:

    mail box looks good?? cant wait to try it.

  225. tjaldid says:

    Will you guys stop being stubborn because HD-DVD lost and Finally Support Blu-ray (NO QUESTION MARK JUST DO IT)

  226. JGodo says:

    I'm sorry. I have try, but I don't like metro on desktop. For me is a complete no-go. I will keep Win 7 and if win 9 don't fix this: <—> (you know) I will move to Mac.

  227. JGodo says:

    I'm sorry. I have try, but I don't like metro on desktop. For me is a complete no-go. I will keep Win 7 and if win 9 don't fix this: <—> (you know) I will move to Mac.

  228. What about the bitlocker drive encryption for drives? Will it work on these devices ?

  229. @aambro – "If a developer uses an app's live tile inappropriately (for example as nagware) the Windows Store reviews and rankings will reflect that. The user reviews will be negative and mention the drawback, fewer people will download the app, and it will decrease in the rankings. Someone else will develop a competing app without those drawbacks and it will rise in the rankings."

    Define 'nagware'.

    You're overlooking that many people – myself included – regard tiles as nagware, *in general*. Many people also regard Start as crapware, and are desperate for a way to disable it and restore the start menu. No amount of reviews or blog posts on apps is going change this. There is a large minority who simply do not like Start per se, and perhaps that large minority is really a small majority. What happens to those users – maybe they should start writing some of the reviews? Btw, what happens in your quality-by-reviews scenario if the tile is deemed 'nagware', by some quasi-objective standard, but the app is otherwise highly rated? The reverse could also be true, or both good, or both crap. Maybe we could have dual ratings for every app – one for the app itself and one for the tile(s). Furthermore, who do you suppose will actual bother to read reviews of sub-$10 apps – the Facebook Generation that Windows 8 is aimed at, who don't read much of anything, except Facebook?

    "If the use of the live tile is really inappropriate it will get rejected from the Windows Store by Microsoft."

    Define 'really inappropriate live tile'. Would a porn tile be inappropriate? Graphic violence? Advertising? Got something against advertising? Is OEM crapware inappropriate nagware? Ban that too (and make people pay more for their PCs, in the process)?

    So, Microsoft are going to start censoring apps? By what standards? More interestingly, and potentially more dangerous to a competitive software market is how it can possibly be appropriate to have a major app vendor/competitor in the Windows Store market, that also acts as the regulator and policeman for that market. Can't see how that could be regarded as an independent position for Microsoft to be taking. In fact the whole Windows Store Supercop concept has a slightly Orwellian feel to it. Not happy.

    "There are 2 tile display modes available for the user. You can resize single and double wide tiles to your liking."

    Not enough. I want full control over tile display modes for all tiles and groups. This should extend to group-size apps. At the very least i want to be able to sequence through HTML/graphic/poster -> XML/data -> shortcut/link display modes. One reason concerns the limited, but not negligible utility that live data will have for many apps/tiles. What happens if an app vendor can think of live data functionality for their app's tile, but deems this to have secondary importance, compared to say, displaying a nice colorful tile with important branding? For example a game vendor who might want the user to have the ability to check scores of some description, but would rather the tile display something that provides better marketing differenciation than a mini-scoreboard would. The app vendor should have the ability to create *both* tiles views, and the user should have the ability to toggle between these views at will. This toggling could occur by means of something vaguely resembling a status bar at the base of each group, and pressing the bar would change the tile's views to their alternate view. I personally think of this alternate view as the 'dual', or shadow view. Extend this concept to group-size apps and you can imagine some really rich functionality being available. At the moment Start is a very limited app in functional terms. Very much a version 1.0 product. (The traditional start menu should therefore be kept *in some form* until Start becomes better developed and more refined.)

    "Text-only or icon-only tiles are probably settings that are rightfully left to the developer to decide and not something that Microsoft is dictating as mandatory."

    So extending end-user choice within Start means Microsoft dictating mandatory controls? Don't think so. Are you deliberately trying to misrepresent what i said?

    "Finally WOA is not just for tablets."

    Obviously Windows 8 runs on many form factors. But the thinking, marketing and technology behind Windows 8 indicate that this release is for tablets. For all Microsoft's intents and purposes, that is the situation. Windows 8 exists, primarily as a means for Microsoft to eventually dominate the tablet market, just as they dominant the laptop and desktop markets now. It has no other major purpose or reason for being, other than to win the tablet market for Microsoft.

    "They have this thing called "Windows Phone 7" which has been out for over a year. Maybe take a look at it sometime and you'll understand better how things are going to work on Windows 8."

    That's right. You want to understand Microsoft's tablet strategy? Then, as a guide, take a look at Microsoft's mini-tablet offering – otherwise know as Windows Phone 7.

    "By users MS Office is the most important app suite on any platform in existence."

    Yes it is. So why give it away for free, on WOA? Because Microsoft are still working out how to make large, heavily-chromed apps like Office (or Photoshop, etc) work in the Metro, touch-centric environment. As this work is not complete, they have decided to give away Office for WOA, as a means of live testing their current best effort. This will cost very few sales, as most tablet users are not interested in running productivity apps, as this has nothing to do with communicating with friends or playing media files – the two essential purposes of tablet PCs for virtually all their end-users. Office is really there on WOA to get some real world exposure for a semi-Metroized, complex, traditional app. Office 15 on WOA is more about telemetry for Microsoft, than it is the gimmick of Office for free.

  230. bill says:

    i loved the glassy aero interface not metro.

  231. Waseem says:

    Any one knows if we can just upgrade the windows developer preview, or will it get upgraded by windows update?

    I'm guessing it should be a clean install !

  232. ThatGuy says:

    @Drewfus

    I think there is a thing or two you didn’t get about Win8. One of them is that the live tile will be very contextual, let me explain what I mean: You remember the Weather app? In it you can pin a city. On the start screen there is a live tile linking to the Weather app in the context of that city. You can pin as much as you want and selecting one will always open the app with the appropriate city/context. Kind of the same as a link to a webpage or when you “open” a .docx that opens Word with that specific document, they kind of broaden the concept. Thus in the future well-made App will allow pinning contextual stuff like a mini-scoreboard. App maker stupid enough to put ads in their tiles will be of no help to the users. The MS app validation process is supposed to ensure, among other things, that no ads will display in the tiles… Anyway even if in the end the app default tile might display ads, a context specific tile should not. So it’s quite close to what you are asking for, with more possibilities.

    As for the Orwellian thing, you should see that otherwise. It’s not that they’ll “control” everything, it’s more that there is at last a possibility of control. Microsoft will most probably accept all and anything except the apps that would cause them legal issues and also viruses/worms/Trojan Horse… If WinRT is done well, in a Windows iteration or two those “bad” things will all be things of the past.

  233. B8Blog says:

    @ThatGuy Good points.  Also note you can also just turn off live tiles individually and you can make your tiles small versions.  In addition there is a two click setting that turns off all notifications at once (analogous to airplane mode, which you might use if you are projecting).

    I think what is worth thinking about is that this provides a unified mechanism for today's system tray notifications or just app popups that just steal focus and take over the screen.  Those notifications can genuinely be nags, don't conform to any standard API (though one is available) so are hard to quiet, and cannot be managed all at once.  There's a vastly higher degree of control and choice relative to the existing notification mechanisms.  

  234. john says:

    steven sinofsky

    y should anyone wants to turn off live tiles? what makes windows 8 important ? the first reasone is live tiles. if it isnt live tile notification windows 8 is not much of a big deal.

  235. JOHN says:

    steven sinofsky

    y should anyone wants to turn off live tiles? what makes windows 8 important ? the first reasone is live tiles. if it isnt live tile notification windows 8 is not much of a big deal.

  236. @Steven Sinofsky

    Why can't we have Aero-style live tiles on the desktop?

  237. Paul from Italy says:

    ARM architecture is a powerhorse but it's still up for improvements (referring to double/float handling). My suggestion is: delegate as much work as possible for intensive precision computing to the GPU and take advantage of the possibility of using the graphic system as an extreme parallel algebraic coprocessor

  238. etacarinae says:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    "I think what is worth thinking about is that this provides a unified mechanism for today's system tray notifications or just app popups that just steal focus and take over the screen."

    Oh, boy. The irony here is too delicious. The new metro start screen does just exactly that: steals focus.

  239. w3force says:

    @WindowsVista567 Windows 7 already have desktop gadget and it doesn't look so successful. I think reason is its really resource hog and the live time is more modern and light weight. If you have used WP you know how it helps in the over all system performance(think android) and also save battery for device. Also please look at the below link which throws some light about windows 8 UI decisions.

    hal2020.com/…/windows-8-is-not-all-about-tablets-its-about-the-future

  240. @w3force

    Live tiles on the desktop would take up no more resources than they do in the Metro UI. There is a fundamental separation that I'm trying to establish that I'm not sure you understand: the difference between the WinRT back-end and the Metro-style app front end. Also, there is a difference between "Win32" and "desktop." What I'm trying to say is that Microsoft should use the back-end for Metro-style apps to create desktop apps that, from a user perspective, look and act like Win32 apps while maintaining the sandboxed application model and ease of installation. In other words, Microsoft should add the WinRT application model without changing the user interface.

    In case you didn't know, Live Tiles work differently than gadgets. See this: blogs.msdn.com/…/updating-live-tiles-without-draining-your-battery.aspx

  241. B8Blog says:

    @etacarinae1 I don't believe that is the case.  When you hit the Window key you can see the updated tiles and the focus does not move to any tile.  Hit the Window key a second time and focus is exactly where it was previously (desktop app or metro style app).  Tiles never "grab" the focus nor can they.

  242. @Steven Sinofsky

    I believe he is referring to a fundamental issue with the concept of the "Start Screen." The instant someone tries to open it, it takes focus away from everything on a user's computer and takes over the entire screen, and if someone wanted to, for instance, follow a set of instructions on a website while using the Start Screen, this becomes impossible. In other words, he is pointing out the irony the fact that you are creating a design that tries to avoid notifications that take over the screen while at the same time creating a UI mechanism that gets in the way. One of the previous posts contains the statement "But, when you’re launching a new app, you’re leaving the thing you’re currently doing," which I disagree with. Launching a new app on a desktop PC may simply mean that you want to open another program that you want to use alongside an exisitng one.

  243. JOHN says:

    why not two start button?? one for desktop and the other for metro???

  244. John says:

    why not two start button?? one for desktop and the other for metro???

  245. john says:

    Two start buttons and fair choice for all.

  246. Arthur says:

    I'd say a good way to build Windows 8 for ARM processors is to not lock the device down without the ability to disable Secure Boot.

    Just sayin'.

  247. Ail says:

    OK, lest talk abour all this seriously…  (and sorry for the typos, english is not my language, I have done my best here)

    I think we are somewhat missleading the discussion about what is and what want devs and users to be windows in the future. In reality all this is about two radical different user experiences: The clasic desktop and the new metro. But metro is not just the start screen, it is the whole new interface concept with fullscreen metro apps. Each of this interfaces suits better to some user needs. Metro suits well the very casual user ( where tablets user can be easlily considered nowadays paradigm ) and desktop suits better the professional prductive user. And I don´t this is only because actually there is no metro apps/programas for professional users. I think metro concept like it is now  designed is conceptually not suitable for that profesional pourpose. Not now, not ever. And it is not difficult to see the reason for that. For me "not compromise" means that you should be capable of doing the same things in one interface as in the other in a reasonable efficient way. And here metro completely lacks of one of the mayor and more powerfull features, standad today in all productive oriented OS, like is a full support of multitasking. I´m sorry, but to have the scrren divided in two, or even four apps/programas is not my concept os efficient multitasking at all. I´m a designer and I usually have open at the same time photoshop/3dmax/ my music/ my web/ some tutorial/ and references images all that distributed along my 3 monitors. And I really need to have much of this visible at the same time in the size and proportion I need. Metro completely fails to provide with this profesional need, and here is where true windows multitasking shows its excelence. So I really dont mind if adobe can make a nice metro photoshop or autodesk can make a nice metro maya or 3Dsmax program because that will be not usefull/confortable if I can´t have all that apps/programs and usually many, many, many more open and visible at the same time in the exact configutation I like and need in every moment. I dont want microsoft or metro decide that for me. I´m a professional user and I want to be able to setup and arrange that real multitasking as I want. And I think for professional users this is simply not negociable and that is why we need desktop and we are not goig to use metro for work.

    So the real question here, and my mayor concern, is that I think microsoft really wants force us to get used to metro start screen only because they plan/want to move all to that metro style interfaces in future versions and that actual desktop will eventually be fully droped. I can see how this make sense from their point of view as they plan to unify all windows experience between all platforms, with is a very nice idea (if done right) and at the same time they want a full control of the SO like apple and android with their apps stores. Classic desktop can´t work well in tactile platform so the only way they have to unify is to embed/replace metro in desktop. If they really don´t plan to drop the desktop anytime in the future then I really don´t understad why they don´t let us, professional users, to disable the metro interface in our workstations. For many of us metro really do not work there at all for the reasons many people had already exposed. In fact if they really think about preserve destok in future versions I can think in a tons of better and less intrusive ways to have all metro functionality inside the destop experience. I´m thinking for example about a really improved and expandible taskbarr wich is, as they recognize, the most used feature in win7 -because it works very well even with its flaws-. That improved taskbarr could have a start button that could expand the barr showing some menu like the actual metro, like merging tastkbarr and start menu, wich make more sense in a desktop and could integrate very well.

    So the main concern here in the long terms is mainly for us, professional and productive users, as all other people, better or worse, can adapt to that metro reduced experience (That I think no more deserve to be called "windows" but "tiles" or something like that as there will no more windows there) and even many people can found it very confortable when "working" (playing) in a full metro enviroment to consume silly apps like in any iPad user.

    So I think we can stop arguing about the metro start screen and start concerning more in what that implies in the future for us if microsoft really plans to drop the desktop. I really cant see me working without real and fully supported multitasking and if this happens I really will have to move to mac or linux. If this is not the case then the force metro start in desktop experience as it is now has little to none sense to me.

    Now, questions for devs:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    1- Lets imagine I have a media reproductor pined in metro. I open it and start to watch a film. Then I need to consult another video but I dont want to close my movie, as I dont want to lost the point where I am. If I return to start and click on the media reproductor it brings me the film again… so, how can I open two or more instaces of that reproductor/app with different content?

    2- Another thing I noticed is that when I´m working in the desktop and need to seach for something, I go to metro and start writting, then a list with search result appears… but lets say then I realize that I don´t need that seach anymore… Here I miss a quick way (I don´t use hotkeys, sorry) to return to desktop. From here and from other many ways in the metro. I think the same way in desktop we always can go metro clicking the bottom left corner ( You know in productivity a lot of maximized programs can have buttons there? 3dmax / premiere / after effects… ) in metro we should have an always present way to go to desktop.

    PD, My user profile:

    I´m a graphic designer and I use win 7 wich I like even it has a lot of room for improvement.

    I have been trying win8 DP (and I have to recognize that I don´t like it at all for desktop, but I think it have real potential in tabs).

    I usually use the taskbarr where I have pinned my 30 main programs and use start menu only for shut down / control panel / search / and locate secondary programs, and sorry, but I never remember their names and thats why I miss so much to be able to organize consistently the "all programs" folders in win7 ( I think XP was a lot better for that )

    I dont like the tactil way. I always say that if tactil were so good, we humans were not invented paintbrush even millions years ago in the first place. tactil works for very common not precise task. In my phone I miss so much a stylus, I dont like the screen to get dirty with my fingers, and I dont like to have my fingers covering the screen. And of course tactil don´t work at all for any precise stuff.

    I need my desktop monitor clean and I´m not going to touch it (even if where tactile) at all, never. I have it color calibrated and all that stuff. The last thing I need is a fingerprint in it. I not even use a mouse, I like to navigate with my wacon stylus wich have not mouse wheel, but wich I feel more confortable as is more natural and very, very, precise than a mouse ( yes, you even have this kind of weird user that you need to give support ).

    I always have a minimun of 4 windows opened even when not working and organiced as I want. I even watch films or read websites ( or both ) while playing some 3D games in windowed mode, while loading levels.

    I really don´t want to renunce to all that flexibility and that is why I don´t care at all about all metro stuff as it is designed now. I was very excited about it, but now I´m afraid you will force me in the future to move to other os.

    So if you really want "no compromise"… I don´t feel metro gives us "no compromise". I feel a lot compromise with the metro way to do things.

    I hope you micosoft guys listed what a lot of us are telling you. You are doing many things well, but also you are doing many other terrible wrong in my opinion. Microsoft is not apple, and I think all we windows users are really glad about this. Keep it that way please.

    Thanks and sorry for the novel and the typos it could have.

  248. @Microsoft

    I have a simple feature request regarding window management. The feature that hides all other windows when navigating the start menu also hides the window display in the secondary display.

    Example:

    I am using an Excel document on my laptop display.

    My external display is running a video in the meantime

    Aero peek automatically hides what is showed on the secondary display.

    Is there a way to 'fix' this in Windows 8?

  249. TIM says:

    Nice post Ail. I also have the same feelings regarding Desktop/Metro. I believe Microsoft wants to control the marketplace and want to merge in the future the Desktop and store so they control everything and also earn the 30% of their pie. Personally i think that 30% its an ultrage and a thief. Wtf 30%? Market maintance?

    App

    But besides that 30% issue, they could it in a way people who use Desktop dont need to deal with the start screen.

    Using Windows 8 for months on Desktop is a pain in … Really, its a terrible experience.  The start screen Really gets in your way. Metro is a really amazing experience on a tablet, but on Desktop is really irritating/enfuriating.

    The thing is the reason Windows was so sucessuful besides its monopolization was the true user freedom. Microsoft doesn't care to regard to user satisfaction, they only look to ways of improve net income, in this case the Market model. But they fail to see that the thing that make Apple truly sucessuful was the user satisfaction. Even when Apple was way below Microsft net income, not now btw, their philosophy was to make user happy even if they have also a strict control of their platform. The thing is they can make it in a way that works. Microsoft on other side just wants to put Metro touch interface to desktop and make it a mess. There are several ways to make it work, just make it one.

    I really love Windows, but i fear that i will have to move it somewhere else like linux. Please Microsoft LISTEN to your users, just dont give/manipulate your users with idiotic reasons to try to convice why Metro is the always better on every occasion.

    Believe me Steven, people who use ipad's and iphone and still using their pc, when using the metro on their pc or friends will say, "wtf is this? Now its the time i will fully switch to a Mac OSX." You might not want to believe me but time will give me reason.

  250. TIM says:

    Their could be a way where the taskbar would always be present even on the Metro context. I mean the taskbar is present on Desktop, but on Metro is hidden. If using a mouse and the mouse is on the bottom of the screen the taskbar will appear. Like today on Desktop you could drag down the taskbar and when the mouse is the bottom the taskbar appears, at least i used it on XP, on 7 i have the taskbar always present. But for Windows 8 it could be a nice alternative.

    On metro if only using a mouse and when the mouse is below the standard taskbar would appear and the Metro screen would still be visible. Then when in the desktop their could be a start button alike. A minimized start screen interface which would not ocuppy the entire start screen…

    At least make the taskbar approach as a setting even if disable by default.

  251. TIM says:

    Create the mini start screen. A minimized start screen that would occupy 30% as column on the Desktop on the left side. Or on the right side, i dont care. At least make it pinnable on the taskbar. That with the taskbar always present, even if hidden on Metro  would make it the perfect solution to coexist with Metro context.

  252. Ail says:

    I don´t see any need to use metro apps at all if you have a desktop counterpart, even if that counterpart is just a website, if that metro app can´t run in windowed mode in the desktop like any othger program. I don´t want to have my metro tweeter app full screen opened. I want it to run in a window in my second monitor and check it only moving my eyes, not hidding all the work I´m doing in the desktop. Just an example. I can´t imagine right now why somebody would want that mandatory fullscreen obstrusive way of cheking apps in a desktop pc. I think forcing that microsoft will only achieve a complete split between tactile platforms  and desktop systems.

  253. Stefano says:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    Can Windows 8 on ARM open .PDF files (in the desktop or with some Metro app created on purpose in the future)? Yes or no? Will it be able to read them at RTM stage? Straight question.

    Same question for .MOV files, please answer.

    If answer is no, how will it be possible to read them on an ARM tablet or ARM PC?

    I think .PDF and .MOV files reading capabilities must be included, create a Metro app to read them, please, made by Microsoft and included as a Windows 8 tile or desktop utility.

    ISO is OK, but also .PDF and .MOV MUST be there by default, especially in an ARM PC or tablet that can't install a reader for them.

    Office 15 will save in .PDF format on an ARM computer and then won't be able to read the file? LOL.

    😉

  254. @ThatGuy – "I think there is a thing or two you didn’t get about Win8. One of them is that the live tile will be very contextual, let me explain what I mean: You remember the Weather app? In it you can pin a city. On the start screen there is a live tile linking to the Weather app in the context of that city. You can pin as much as you want and selecting one will always open the app with the appropriate city/context. Kind of the same as a link to a webpage or when you “open” a .docx that opens Word with that specific document, they kind of broaden the concept."

    Great, so the weather app can display localized weather. Who cares? I've already got a phone that has a localized weather app, and so has everyone else. Btw, thanks for your patronizing insults.

    Could someone tell me why, when one of the Start screen apologists start talking up the live data capabilities of the tiles, they *always* trot out the weather as their prototypical example?

    "Thus in the future well-made App will allow pinning contextual stuff like a mini-scoreboard. App maker stupid enough to put ads in their tiles will be of no help to the users. The MS app validation process is supposed to ensure, among other things, that no ads will display in the tiles… Anyway even if in the end the app default tile might display ads, a context specific tile should not."

    You show no sign of having grasped what i was talking about.

    "So it’s quite close to what you are asking for, with more possibilities."

    Completely missing the point again. I'm sure Explorer folder views have less possibilities than the programs Explorer can open, but who would argue against folder views on that basis?

    "As for the Orwellian thing, you should see that otherwise. It’s not that they’ll “control” everything, it’s more that there is at last a possibility of control."

    Where did i say 'control everything'? You should see that control does not have to be overt to be effective.

    "Microsoft will most probably accept all and anything except the apps that would cause them legal issues and also viruses/worms/Trojan Horse…"

    What could cause them legal issues – something too political, or too offensive? Could get interesting. Enforcing code signing would go a long way to minimizing malware – without requiring a store. Remember that Win7 will allow users to elevate unsigned apps (by default). Mandatory code signing would not even allow those apps to run non-elevated.

    "If WinRT is done well, in a Windows iteration or two those “bad” things will all be things of the past."

    Which again, does not suggest the need for a single, mandatory, online store.

    What actually are the value-adding benefits of the Windows Store? Does anyone know?

    @Steven Sinofsky – "Also note you can also just turn off live tiles individually and you can make your tiles small versions."

    What i really want to do is turn off the tiles *display view*, and get a view closer to that of Search results. Start tiles look like something a user might try for the novelty, but not something to be stuck with permanently. The small tiles are square – a strange design choice. What i want by default is inline icon + text, with icons the size of Explorer medium icons. Suppose there were no live data mechanism at all. In that case, would you have designed Start with big tiles? Highly unlikely. A designer asked to redesign the start menu, but using the entire desktop as the basis, instead of the current pull-up menu, would also be very unlikely to have come up with something resembling Start. Implicit in this is that Microsoft see live tiles as being the norm, rather than the exception. Three questions on this:

    1. So why so few good examples?

    2. For the case of the game scoreboard tile, if the user had a Games group, and all the games tiles displayed a scoreboard, what would be the affect on tile recognition in/for that group? (Marina Dukhon appears to be something of a visual recognition expert, so perhaps she could answer the question?)

    3. If live tiles are so beneficial in general, and graphic-only tiles amount to advertising – which seems to be the position of @ThatGuy (or at least his interpretation of myself) and you think he made good points, then you are begging the question. Why allow HTML/graphics tiles *at all*, if they simply amount to advertising? If they don't all amount to ads, and can often be accepted as genuine branding, like some of the tiles in the DP (!), then my point that an app vendor may face the dilemma of deciding on branding, recognition and visual appeal, versus live tiles of marginal value (but not zero value), is completely legitimate. Furthermore, i would suggest that marginal-to-moderate value tile examples would be vastly more numerous than cherry-picked examples like the weather and stocks – a sort of long-tail affect. What are you going to do about these cases?

  255. Stefano says:

    In the web in a forum I've seen a picture of a Windows 8 tile called "Reader"… they say it will read .pdf and .xps files… I'm happy if this will be true. We'll see it on February 29th, in the Consumer Preview 😀

    I can't wait for this, if it's true, even ARM machines could read pdf documents 🙂

  256. Ail says:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    some coment about webGL support in windows 8, IE 10 ?

  257. Ted says:

    @Steven Sinofsky please comment on whether Office 15 for ARM will support COM add-in model.  You said in your post that Office 15 ARM will support all Office documents, but the fact is, many documents require a separate third party add-in to even view properly.  If you don't give us the ability to compile those C++ written add-ins using the ARM compiler then it won't be possible to make addins for Office 15 for ARM.

  258. w3force says:

    @WindowsVista567  also I know how Live tile works and I myself a WP app developer with two highly rate apps in the market place which uses the live tile. So I know the real benefit of live tiles over widget in android and desktop.

  259. Echtelion says:

    The main question is :

    Can I code winRT apps (in order to get it working on ALL platforms), and run it on windows vista/7 ?

    Without that, It will be problematic to embrace the plateform while our customer are still under theses OS.

    The second question is :

    How to interop with office 15 on arm -_-

  260. kinect dev says:

    OK, I know ths is the wrong post but the sensors post is locked. Win8 really needs something like this: http://www.engadget.com/…/apple-patent-interactive-3d-interface

    With built-in Kinect it should be trivial to do head tracking and use an assymetrical projection matrix to make the live tiles appear to float in mid air in front of the screen.

  261. @Steven Sinofsky

    Off topic!!

    I want to know if the problem of getting my info expossed on somebody else's computer/slate when singing in and off do exist in Windows 8 as it do exist on Google Chrome browser?

    Actually when you "sign in to Chrome", the browser loads all your data stored in the cloud (extensions, bookmarks, etc.) and mixes it with the data that was present at the log on time. That is part of the real problem, because when "you sign off Chrome", all your loaded data still remains there… and there you think oh my god, I got expossed =(

    Windows 8 should have an option or configuration that makes users free to login/logoff from any computer/slate without the concern of leaving or mixing its information and configuration (ie10, sky drive, favorites, navigation history, etc.).

    The point is to use Windows 8 my way but without concerning of get my stuff expossed.

  262. CWC says:

    Great post – better read than War & Peace! 🙂

    I absolutely love where Microsoft is going with Windows from a user perspective (i'm not a programmer) – esp the resource efficiency, connected standby for SoC-based PCs, unified app model under WinRT to bridge the old (x86) to the new (x86+ARM), and lots more.

    On the separate branding for WoA PCs, I'd suggest calling it Windows 8 Metro to distinguish it from the other editions of Windows 8 running on x86/x64. The name makes it pretty obvious that Win 8 Metro runs only Metro-style apps so no confusion for consumers here.

    Keep up the good work guys..

  263. ShaneM says:

    Ok, this is a little off topic, but please consider the following situation.

    I am on a work trip with my Trusty WOA tablet.  The office tells me they have updated some sales documents that I need, and for convenience they have put the large file in a zip on their website.  I use the Metro IE to hit the link to download my sizable file.  It is going to take quite some time to download, so I dismiss the download bar to keep using IE.  How do I now know how my download is going?

    In Desktop IE, I can use Ctrl J or the menu to see the ongoing download, but not in Metro!

    This example is simply to highlight two things:

    1. The Dev preview is missing some fundamental features, which may not be obvious until it is used in anger

    2. Discoverability, Discoverability, Discoverability!  It is a punishable offence for a modern O/S to overlook any important features from a discoverability perspective.  All important usage should be obvious to even a cephalopod!

    Windows 8 is a bold and ambitious project and I support the sheer gall required to break the paradigm and try something new, but attention to detail is paramount and potentially fatal is not handled properly.

  264. @Drewfus:

    1) Because all we've seen so far is a handful of sample apps, written by interns. Who may or may not have had access to builds with the Live Tile stuff fully functioning.

    2) There's nothing to stop a game tile from taking advantage of a template that animates to show the high score as well as information about the game itself. That's kind of the point of Live Tiles.

    3) Images can be used to enhance a tile, the photo app being a prime example. And there is nothing to stop an app developer using the Live Tile to both convey information and branding effectively. Of course some vendors might not do a good job and simply opt for a poorer static design that merely displays a logo, however they're missing a prime opportunity to give users a reason to want to interact with the app more often. Using Live Tiles effectively can improve a users connection to an app, thus increasing the likelyhood that they will generate more revenue through whichever streams are appropriate.

  265. KS says:

    Read the article and roughly 3/4 of the comments.  All I have to say is that Windows 8 is a piece of crap. I've commented on other articles on this blog, I've tried to put it in better terms and be more constructive, but it obviously isn't working.

    Windows 8 sucks and it's going to flop, this article truly sealed that fate. No 3rd party desktop apps on ARM? No Flash on ARM? Garbage.

    I'll stick with Windows 7, which runs all the applications I could ever want AND has a pleasant interface, until Microsoft decides to scrap this god awful piece of crap iPad clone.

    Windows 8 sucks. Stay with Windows 7.

  266. w3force says:

    @KS are you going to run win7 ARM? Understand ARM is more targeted for coffee table tablet. MSFT need a product to compete with iPAD and Android tablets and WOA provides lot many advantage over ipad/android like office.

  267. Since Windows 8 will run on all form factors and will support a complete ecosystem, please make roaming of web experience fully efficient. Microsoft should offer one easy way (through the Live account, I guess) to roam favorites, browsing history, passwords, names, web form data and feeds to all devices. And please give us one powerful web feed reader.

    Up to now, the Windows experience on the Web has been incredibly poor: (1) IE couldn't offer the add-ons we really want (a simple look at the "Internet Explorer Gallery" for Add-ons will speak for itself), (2) the Bing Bar is poorly conceived and, again, hasn't much to offer, (3) the IE Feed reader isn't user-friendly enough and, above all, is strictly local.

    I hate to say this, but until now, on a Windows OS, one can hardly do without Google. MSN News is nothing like Google News, IE Feed reader is nothing like Google Reader. The Google account supports a roaming experience that one would expect on any ecosystem. Please, make it right this time. Thanks.

  268. Lixin says:

    Metro doesn't support multi window (real windows, not child window layers), multi screen applications, which means that it is no good for heavy duty business applications.

    So the best option here is still sticking on x86/64 devices, obviously.

  269. vincois says:

    Microsoft is just creating Vista 2.0. They want to be revolutionary but they have lost there way. Agree or disagree I don't care. My viewpoint is from an extremely large overview of what Windows 8 is becoming. I still seem s like they are trying to make everyone happy and they just end up making everyone mad.

  270. pmbAustin says:

    I really would like a better understanding of multi-tasking.  With the clarification that apps never really close, I'm confused about how the "thumb in from the left' task switching works.  If it can only cycle through all the Metro apps I've ever opened, in the order I've opened them… that could get pretty tedious.  Is the "stack" of apps limited, like on WP7 to five apps?  

    I'm also confused about app instances.  On the desktop it's typical to have multiple instances of a single app open.  If the Start Menu *is* the "task bar" for metro apps, then that implies that only one instance can be open at once.  But what happens if you have desktop apps pinned to the start menu?  If you touch one, launch the app, then hit start screen again and touch the tile again… can you launch a second instance, or does it just switch to the already running instance?

    I hope we get a blog entry on how multi-tasking really works in the real world, both desktop and Metro, and the interactions between them.

  271. John says:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    Firefox plans to make its way to Metro. I don't whether or not Microsoft will openly allow this. And if so, will these third party browser be able to support plugin (flash, silverlight) or their own engine if they wish or be forced to use the primary engine and support like iOS?

  272. Aravind says:

    Since ARM is coming on Desktop/Servers, will it be a good idea to support porting from X86/64 to ARM?

    I am guessing here that ARM support only for Metro Apps. What about Desktop Apps which interact with kernel drivers?

  273. Kevin says:

    It's very interesting reading everyone's opinions. I think it's a bit premature to judge Win8 on x86 and ARM given that no one here really have used one. But, I think it can be simplified as below. The biggest concerns is CONSUMERS confusion. I don't think it'll cause confusion with developers and businesses, but the consumer segment is very critical to Windows 8 success.

    Consumers:

    – Want a fully backward compatible tablet + option for Touch apps? > get Windows 8 x86

    – Want to use Metro apps only tablet with Office built-in, cheaper, longer battery life? > get WOA

    Developers:

    – Want to target all of Windows 8 users? > develop WinRT/Metro apps (works on x86 & WOA)

    Businesses:

    – Want a fully backward compatible tablet + option for Touch apps? > get Windows 8 x86

  274. great and like it!!!!

    PS. Please re-design all function about HDD or Recovery function in Windows 8. to easy to use….

    🙂

  275. Kevin says:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    How did the ratio for Metro Snap chosen? I believe you can have two simultaneous Metro apps (or Metro + Desktop) occupying as 30/70. Why can't we have 40/60 and 50/50? It seems to me having one app to be 30% of the screen is too darn small to be useful. The scenario that I'm talking about is having a movie playing while browsing the web. Obviously, the 30% is just too small for the browser and having 30% for the movie is not practical? Why is 50/50 not possible given that monitors today are getting higher resolution?

  276. Xero says:

    Sometimes if the system shuts unexpectedly, on next boot IE9 forgets all the preferences. These include:

    1. The :visited hyperlinks, the popular sites on about:Tabs page.. though the history (Ctrl+H) and that of onebar (Ctrl+E) remains intact

    2. Bing language preference.

    3. Forgets the autocomplete fields' value.

    and so on..

    Please prevent IE10 from this disaster!

  277. Stefano says:

    Here's hoping for a (Mozilla) Firefox for Metro release. This would be the only way to stay on all platforms, including ARM computers. Go Firefox!!!!!

    Microsoft MUST allow Firefox Metro, or did they forget about the EU (European Union) browser choice?

    Windows 8 is included in this choice, they must allow other browsers too.

    http://www.browserchoice.eu/…/browserchoice_en.htm

    Other browsers must be allowed to work on ARM as well, otherwise Microsoft will have huge fines to pay.

    Microsoft remember the browser choice please, it's also still valid for Windows 8.

  278. Windows7 says:

    The replies to these blogs make me laugh.

    Why are there so many feature requests when we are only 2 weeks away from Beta! Metro 1.0 is well and truly locked down and finished.

    It is what it is, live with it or walk away from it.

    Personally, I won't be touching this ridiculous touch only Metro OS for any reason, and choose to stick to Windows 7.

  279. Tim says:

    @Kevin Developer preview. I have used and its so truly horrible on a desktop…

  280. Luci says:

    At last…, reasen to buy a tablet…

  281. Bryron G says:

    I'm excited about an ARM tablet. And good luck team.

    you said "With Windows 8, we have reimagined Windows from the chipset to the experience—and bringing this reimagined Windows to the ARM® processor architecture is a significant part of this innovation." our concern is the Metro and desktop mix. give a normal user a win8 tablet without the windows branding and see how they react. Confusion is what you will get. we think you must use the 4 window logo concept to acess 4 enviroments like this (http://www.flickr.com/…/6869475637) and add a metro task bar for easy app switchin on the right using the thumb, like windows phone app list, its better that swipping 30 times to find the app you want.

    and maybe as some shadows in metro to disctinguish some items.

  282. Stefano says:

    "You can expect that we will adjust the features included with the single WOA offering such that it is competitive in the marketplace and offers a compelling value proposition to customers of all types."

    I hope it will be equivalent to a Windows 7 Home Premium Edition. No more Starter Edition, please.

    Compelling value is at least Home Premium, I hope.

    Starter edition would force consumers to make an upgrade spending other money few weeks later 🙁

  283. Finally_ARM says:

    How are the downgrade options on ARM?

  284. @AndyCadley – "Using Live Tiles effectively can improve a users connection to an app…"

    Something you can't possibly know for a fact, because "…all we've seen so far is a handful of sample apps, written by interns." That applies to you too. Btw, to say that using *anything* effectively, leads to positive outcomes, is more or less a tautology.

    Connection to an app? Are you serious? Apps are:

    1. Cheap

    2. Semi-disposable

    3. Numerous per user

    4. Often have several near-substitutes

    Nothing to do with 'connections'.

    "…all we've seen so far is a handful of sample apps, written by interns."

    True, but that does not give you or anyone at Microsoft license to simply assume the future existence of an entire class of hypothetical examples, and good examples at that. Instead, why not take up the armchair challenge of *naming* a single, good, original example? Anyone else?

    "There's nothing to stop a game tile from taking advantage of a template that animates to show the high score as well as information about the game itself."

    So let me get this straight – instead of having the simplicity and directness of a button or 'Fits-friendly' bar that can toggle the tile display between scores and graphics view, you would rather sit and watch a battery-sapping animation take place? So how much time elapses from the moment the user starts scrolling to the tile, to the point the tile displays the few bytes of info the user might be interested in – more or less time than it takes to boot Windows 8?

    "That's kind of the point of Live Tiles."

    To make people wait? Or rather, to make people wait, *unnecessarily*?

    "Images can be used to enhance a tile, the photo app being a prime example. And there is nothing to stop an app developer using the Live Tile to both convey information and branding effectively. Of course some vendors might not do a good job and simply opt for a poorer static design that merely displays a logo, however they're missing a prime opportunity to give users a reason to want to interact with the app more often."

    Again, your point 1) means all bets are off, but you went ahead and had a few bets all the same. However, at least you recognize that a graphic-only tile might have merit, and more importantly for this discussion that an app vendor may have good, valid and commercially ethical reasons for wanting to display *both* information and branding. Contrasting your position to @ThatGuy (and Steven Sinofsky who agreed with him) – "App maker stupid enough to put ads in their tiles will be of no help to the users." Presumably this refers to a tile that was an ad *for some other app*, and not an ad for itself (and what would be wrong in that case?), or to graphics tiles in general. But why suppose an app vendor would even consider doing that? How would a user recognize what the tile actually represented? So this seems like a moot point to me, and more of a back-handed way of having a dig at vendors who do not create live tiles. If so, it begs the question, what if the *users* of that app actually *prefer* a graphic tile to a live tile – would they also be considered stupid? Who else might we consider to be stupid – people who turn off live tiles?

    @Steven Sinofsky – "Also note you can also just turn off live tiles individually and you can make your tiles small versions."

    Problems with that are:

    1. Turning off a live tile leaves you with a flat, monochromatic, low-detail icon. This is suboptimal, from a visual recognition point of view. Given how much was made of the Start screen's compliance with visual recognition science, in Marina's blog, i can't see how advising users to turn off unwelcome live tiles amounts to anything more than a compromise/workaround solution.

    2. The smaller, square tile is still too large, even for touch. This means more tiles off-screen, which means more scrolling than is practically necessary, which means the Fits optimization of Start is compromised for no reason, as is battery life. I have to say that for an OS proudly advertising it's power-efficient credentials, you have designed a very movement oriented UI, from both the PoV of user interaction, and onscreen activity. Why the contradiction?

    3. Why is the smaller tile square? Name one other consumer device that employs square buttons or activation points for anything but the smallest/space restricted situations? Square looks crap. As the smaller tile is a non-live tile, i can only assume this was done to penalize apps that do not participate in the joy of live data.

    "I think what is worth thinking about is that this provides a unified mechanism for today's system tray notifications or just app popups that just steal focus and take over the screen.  Those notifications can genuinely be nags, don't conform to any standard API (though one is available) so are hard to quiet, and cannot be managed all at once.  There's a vastly higher degree of control and choice relative to the existing notification mechanisms."

    All this is true (and presumably the bit about apps popups refers to apps in the system tray?), but how did you get from "we have a problem with notifications" to "we should put notifications in the start menu"? How did you get from "we should put notifications in the start menu" to "apps should display notifications within their start menu shortcuts"? How did you get from "apps should display notifications within their start menu shortcuts" to "almost all apps should display notifications"? How did you get from "almost all apps should display notifications" to "we should make app shortcuts much larger than is necessary, even for touch, so there is plenty of room to display notifications, and consequently make the start menu fullscreen, so there is enough room to display more than a few shortcuts"? How did you get from "we should make the start menu fullscreen" to "we should build the fullscreen start menu using a different UI to that in which the user is doing their work, in fact we should build the fullscreen start menu using an almost entirely different shell, and make the user toggle between shells everytime they want to open an app or check a notification"?

    You have arrived at Start following a bizarre sequence of thinking – one that smacks of the sort of free-associationist thinking you might get from say, a session in a flotation tank, and all this to fix a problem with system tray popups and start menu shortcuts!

  285. Toni says:

    @Drefus you just dont get it…

    All MS talking is just BS… Trying to find reasons to justify something that is not what they tell us…

    The reason of the new start screen is pretty simple.

    More Money->Store->Metro. Deal. Then its just get some posts and trying to make some justifications with telemetry and things that we (microsoft) really dont believe it or dont make really sense but hey, we have to say something…

    To me the idea of an desktop user using Metro apps really is a joke to me… I mean really? With a mouse? lol…

  286. ThatGuy says:

    @Drefus & @Toni

    You seem to understand/distort what everyone says to better expose your own idea of how the world should works…

    I hope you realize the image of evil corporation saw in tons of movies is mostly false. A company wants to make money, we all agree on that, and the best way to achieve that is to genuinely work for your clients. So I don’t see how a company would make the life of their clients worse on purpose while expecting to make more money… As seen in the movies in the best case it might be a “good” short term strategy but when people are pissed they generally stop using said company products. So I don’t think there are a bunch of people at Microsoft doing random things just for fun while hoping to sells millions/billions of licenses… Instead I do believe that Microsoft goal is really to improve things for users and for themselves.

    Proof they care about their consumer: They studied telemetry data, they surveyed tons of people, they hired tons of professionals on various subjects like ergonomics. Among other things, that hard work leads them to win and keep winning more and more awards with the Metro design.

    You suggest that to get there they had to have followed “a bizarre sequence of thinking”. The reality is that you have absolutely no idea, you weren’t there in their countless meetings in the last several years, me neither of course, but common sense make me think they challenge themselves enough with the help of external data to make sure all the best decisions were taken for Windows 8 and the future of Windows.

    On the same subject @w3force posted a link earlier to a very interesting blog post.

    hal2020.com/…/windows-8-is-not-all-about-tablets-its-about-the-future

    @Drefus: I’m not patronizing I’m just saying that from what you wrote you seem to have missed a few things about Win8. Making thousands words comments won’t work to make you look smarter than others. All it illustrates is that your ideas (of what is Win8, what is Metro, what it implies, why and how they come up with that) seem to be all clear in your mind and set in stone. If possible I’d just like you to stop pretending it’s the reality. I may not know what is going to happen with Win8, there is still a possibility that I may not like it all, but for now all I know is that thousands of people are currently working on it, and among them a lot of experienced people that had to make choices, choices that will decide of the faith of the Windows branding maybe even the faith of Microsoft itself. There was a need for Windows to be deeply modernized since… well very long time ago. And this is what they come up with (WinRT, Metro, Live tiles, Toast Notifications, Unified UX among devices, etc.) Who are we to say they are all wrong. Win8 is a big bet for MS, really big actually, but relatively safe at the same time because a company as big and important for that many people as MS has to do their homework before going out with such a big bet and I really do think they did theirs.

  287. Stefano says:

    Price range? I wish ARM tablets will sell in the $200/300 price range, that is today's netbooks price range. That would be a wonderful boom for them. Can you tell us your vision of the price range of these new tablets or slates with Windows 8?

    Or at least what you think it should be.

    Don't let them cost $1000 or so.

    The only way for success is 200 or 250 or 300 dollars, no higher than that.

  288. Toni says:

    @ThatGuy  "A company wants to make money, we all agree on that, and the best way to achieve that is to genuinely work for your clients."

    I dont think that's the case. Do you think that the monopoly philosophy that Microsoft had all this years were all a genuinely benefit for their clients? All the things Bill Gates made as a monopoly of copying and destroying concurrency. Do you thing that all of sudden MS is a totally new company now? Steve Ballmer and friends? Believe me, Apple  understand better that sentence you wrote than Microsoft. For sure Apple also have a closed environment and aren't totally user genuinely altruist. But they just dont make the mistake of a Metro Start Screen Desktop alike.

    Your are being too naife. Things aren't that black and white. Of course MS wants to make money and wants to make us happy. But they will make decisions based on profit that are not always better for us. Neverthless they will want us to believe that they will make the best for us. About telemetry. Dont you get it?  What kind of telemetry study do you think they do? The ones that are of their interest. You can make all kinds of telemetry studies. Really. It all depends on eyes of the beholder.

    The true is that both things are real.  Look at IE touch vs Firefox 3rd party API's. Look at office for WOA. Why not Open Office? Just better for us? The store on Metro. 30% is better for who? consumers? I think that 30% is a thief and a imorality for developers. Both Microsoft and Apple are just being too greedy. 30%? Does the "genuinely work for your clients" keep making totally sense to you? Developers are not clients?

    Please answer to me with a sane mind to this simple question. How can someone who already tried windows 8 may think that MS its genuinely working for their clients when the Start Screen Metro is pushed to Desktop users? What's the non-sense of using touch Metro apps on a 23'' screen? I mean, what's the idea of having several windows open and having to go to start screen to open another desktop app? Putting desktop tiles as the tiles on start screen is a satisfactory solution? Trying to make the taskbar full of apps so users dont have to go to many times to the start screen? I mean that's crazy!!! Its a huge compromise. An non-optimal solution to end users…

    Do you think that people will want to use Metro apps with big letters and big space with mouse-touch gestures? Does any of this make sense? I really dont get it. Maybe i am wrong, but all the talking MS is doing on Desktop is just BS my eyes.

    Also the WOA talking of file explorer and Office as a nice thing that MS dont want to throw away. I mean do you really think that's a sentence with no contradicion?

    I have a Windows phone and i love Metro. I think Metro is a great design at tablets. I think that Windows 8 will be the best platform for a ultrabook-tablet transformer at least potentially. It also depends on number/quality of apps and user adherence. But for a Desktop is just not there. It's almost good, but right now, it sucks. Its to obstructive. Metro dont necessarily need to be banned from the Desktop non-touch screens but cant be the major player.

  289. w3force says:

    @Toni the goal for any public traded company is to generate revenue and profit and to make its share holder happy.. non profit organisation cannot innovate to any great extend they have at max can only provide an alternate solution.  Microsoft is in a situation that they need to do out of the way in win 8 to bring excitement.. will they achieve it or not it's a different story..

  290. BoB says:

    Will ARM-based PCs and Tablets be "lite" versions of x64/x86 devices?  Will Office 15 be the "full-blown" version or a "lite" version like the Sky Drive versions (or Office 365)?   -Thanks in advance.

  291. rei says:

    Is WOA going to support generational garbage collection?

  292. WOA should be like a full-fledged desktop. See Microsoft, Apple is already hinting at the tablet replacing the PC and you should take the first step and beat the competition. Don't make WOA a toy to protect your interests on x86 and x64 architecture. Instead, deliver a killer punch by making WOA a fully-functional desktop which is capable of running on ARM. Windows 8 is sure to be a winner then.

    And of course, keep the Start screen and Start menu and Win 8 is a winner. I do love the start screen but it is inefficient for some tasks.

    And here is the link  I was talking about

    http://www.neowin.net/…/apple-the-tablet-will-overthrow-the-pc-it039s-just-a-matter-of-time

  293. albert says:

    windows develpoer preview needs more work and let see how windows beta working?  

  294. Jeroen waning says:

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