Editor’s note: The following blog post was written by Virtual Machine MVP Aidan Finn
An estimated 60,000 watching via webcast. They’re going to show lots of Windows 8.1, Windows Phone, and Windows Azure.
Windows 8.1 Preview is out now on http://preview.windows.com. You can do an online update or you can download the ISOs. I just saw that MSDN has the ISO downloads and one for .NET 4.5.1 Preview.
Steve Ballmer shows some Windows Phone handsets. They are going to show small tablets. MSBuild attendees are getting the Acer 8” tablet. More are on the way. Ballmer “wouldn’t call them PCs”.
He admits that most PCs last XMas didn’t have the touch that was emphasized in Windows 8. Since then, touch has become the norm. True enough, for mobile devices, for most brands. Some Asian brands have still been slow to catch up. Hmm, Windows 8 customers on touch devices are “happier than Windows 8 customers on non touch devices” and “even happier than Windows 7 customers”.
He talks up the hybrid device. That’s what I use … great for work and play.
He then talks about apps. To be honest, apps are improving. The quality of games is up too. Facebook are bringing out a Windows 8x app. The NFL is bringing out a fantasy app for Windows 8. That’s a huge international market. Tesco (UK version of Wallmart) have an app too.
Microsoft “pushed boldly in Windows 8” and desktop application users told Microsoft to “refine the blend” (in his coffee terms).
He reminds us that the Start Button (not menu) is back. You can choose to boot to desktop. You can quickly get to your apps. There are more multitasking options with how apps share screen space.
Bing is built into Windows rather than being an app. It’s there for devs to build on, just like Google is in Android (for the DoJ and EU Commission ).
Julie Larson Green
She starts the demo on an Acer. First up … Nook … Ouch, Barnes and Noble. Twitter looks decent in portrait mode … Oh, it was designed for this form factor apparently. Oh nice feature, swiping on the space bar seems to autocomplete or something. Now we can slide up on the top qwerty row to enter numbers. Very nice – others will copy this.
The Mail app now includes social features, e.g. Facebook updates. It appears (it is a demo) that you can easily delete a common selection of junk mail with a swipe.
Search can bring results from everywhere using Bing. No need to explicitly select a Bing app. In the demo, finds a restaurant, maps it, selects it, and can book a table. A search of a band finds loads of info, and can quickly start playing music via a completely redesigned XBox music. Redesigned for playing instead of the previous searching emphasis. Goes to a regular music webpage. Lists all the bands of a festival. Shares via charms to the Music app. The Music apps creates a playlist from the band list on the site. Very impressive example of app contracts.
The Start Screen is more customizable. You can now get to All Programs by swiping up in the Start Screen. You can sort the apps, e.g. by date installed.
I looked away, I think I saw JLG swipe a screen without touching. The Start Screen tiles smoothly appear on your desktop wallpaper, reinforcing the Start Menu “plus” functionality.
We get a demo of 50/50 snapping of apps. The split can be any size you want by sliding the splitter. You can right-click on a link to open a new window … now it’s 3 apps on screen! Apps on more than one screen at once. Was surprised this wasn’t on Windows 8 tbh.
A preview version of PowerPoint running on Windows RT. Browses SkyDrive to get a file (default location). Smooth transitions and video on Windows RT. This is a PowerPoint app.
“Windows 8.1 is Windows 8 refined” appears to be the mantra.
Boring developer stuff. Am going into hibernation for a while.
The Windows Store is updated to make it easier for people to find and download/buy apps. Apps are now updated automatically. Thank God! The spotlight rotates. Lots more apps are on the main screen via better use of space. Your app history/ratings are used to prepare “Apps for you”. The screenshots are bigger. Related apps are shown in the description info. You can change categories, etc by swiping from the top.
Hmm, the app bar seems to allow much more controls now.
Each monitor can have it’s own scaling factor to make the most of the space. This is done by Windows and has no app requirement.
Tiled resources is a programmable page table for graphics acceleration. In other words, be able to render huge objects that don’t fit into the memory of your GPU. Games can run with unprecedented level of detail. They show a video of an object with 9 GB of data on a retail DX11 GPU. They zoom in, and you can see the rivet detail of a glider in flight. This feature is also in Xbox One apparently.
A 3D printer is appearing in MSFT stores soon. Another one coming to Staples for under $1300. Out comes a Lego Mindstorms robot. He uses a Windows tablet to communicate with a tablet in the robot. The on-robot tablet controls the robot by USB interface.
The crazy 3200 * 1800 Samsung something something something ultrabook with Haswell processor is shown. It gets 12 hours from a single charge allegedly. The Lenovo Helix convertible is next. Acer Aspire P3 (1.74 lbs) with Core i5 CPU with a detachable protective cover keyboard. A sub $400 touch Acer laptop with dual core AMD CPU.
JLG Comes Out With Surface Pro
And there’s the 2nd giveaway … Surface Pro with Windows 8.1 Preview and Visual Studio Preview.
And the webcast fails because it “has not yet started”.
And that is that.