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Microsoft to redo Windows 8

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
Microsoft tries again, plans revamp of maligned Windows 8

MICHAEL LIEDTKE - SAN FRANCISCO — AP


Microsoft Corp. is retooling the latest version of its Windows operating system to address complaints and confusion that have been blamed for deepening a slump in personal computer sales.

The tune up announced Tuesday won’t be released to consumers and businesses until later this year. The changes, part of a software package given the codename “Blue,” are a tacit acknowledgment of the shortcomings in Windows 8, a radical overhaul of Microsoft’s ubiquitous operating system.

With the makeover it released last October, Microsoft hoped to play a more prominent role in the growing mobile device market while still maintaining its dominance in PCs. But Windows 8’s design, which emphasizes interactive tiles and touch controls, seems to have befuddled as many people as it has impressed. One leading research firm, International Data Corp., says Windows 8 contributed to a 14-per-cent decline in worldwide PC sales during the first three months of the year — the biggest year-over-year drop ever.

Meanwhile, sales of smartphones and tablet computers are booming. The biggest beneficiaries have been Apple Inc., the maker of the iPhone and iPad, and Samsung Electronics Co., which sells the most devices running on Google Inc.’s Android software. Google is also benefiting from Android’s popularity through increased traffic to its services, creating more opportunities for the company to display ads.

By contrast, leading PC makers such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc., which primarily sell Windows-powered machines, have been mired in a financial funk that has battered their stocks and raised questions about their futures.

Despite the troubling signs, Microsoft insists it’s pleased with Windows 8’s performance.

The company, which is based in Redmond, Wash., says more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses have been sold so far, up from about 60 million licenses in January. The licensing volume “is in the same general ballpark,” as Microsoft’s previous operating system — Windows 7 — at a similar juncture of its sales cycle, according to Tami Reller, who serves as the marketing and financial chief for Microsoft’s Windows business.

In an interview, Reller said Microsoft still realized changes need to be made to make Windows 8 easier to navigate and capable of taking full advantage of technology improvements that have come out since October.

“Are there things that we can do to improve the experience? Absolutely,” Reller said “There is a learning curve (to Windows 8) and we can work to address that.”

For now, Microsoft isn’t saying what kind of changes will be introduced with the release of Blue, which the company plans to anoint with a different name when the update is available. Microsoft also isn’t saying whether it will charge existing owners of Windows 8 devices to get the fixes in Blue. The company plans to release Blue in time for the holiday season.

Reller said more details about Blue will be released before Microsoft holds a developers conference in San Francisco in late June. Some of Blue’s features are expected to be previewed at that conference.

If Blue is meant to make people more comfortable, the changes may incorporate more of the elements from earlier versions of Windows.

A common complaint has centred on the lack of a “start” button in the Windows 8 menu.

Other critics have pined for an option that would allow the system to begin in a desktop mode suited for running applications designed for earlier versions of the operating system. Windows 8 currently starts off showing a mosaic of interactive tiles tailored for swiping through programs with a finger instead of using a computer mouse.

Blue also might make it easier to find a set of controls — known as “charms” in Windows 8’s parlance — that currently must be pulled out from the right side of a display screen.

Besides responding to customer feedback, Blue also will improve Windows 8’s ability to work on smaller tablets with 7- and 8-inch display screens, Reller said. She declined to say whether Microsoft intends to make smaller version of its own Surface tablets. In a conference call with analysts last month, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein said the company was working with other manufacturers to make smaller tablets.

One thing that Blue won’t fix: the relatively small selection of mobile applications tailored for Windows 8. Reller said the Windows 8 store now has more than 60,000 apps. By contrast, there are more than 800,000 apps available for Apple’s mobile’s devices and nearly that many for Android devices, too. In one of the most glaring omissions on Windows 8, Facebook Inc. still hasn’t designed an app to make its online social network more accessible on that system. Facebook has about 750 million mobile users.

Microsoft’s decision to tweak Windows 8 so soon after it went on sale may reinforce perceptions that the product is a flop.

Reller is trying to frame the changes as evidence that Microsoft is becoming more agile and nimble as it responds to a rapidly evolving technology market. Smartphones and tablet computers have been at the epicenter of the upheaval, diminishing the demand for PCs as more people and businesses opt for the convenience of increasingly powerful mobile devices.

The mobile computing movement is the main reason that Microsoft made the most dramatic redesign of its Windows operating system since 1995. Given how different that Windows 8 is from its predecessors, Reller said Microsoft always knew it might have to make some adjustments less than a year after the software came out.

“It had to be a very big change to take advantage of the mobile opportunity,” she said.

Analysts say one reason Windows 8 got off to a slow start is because there weren’t enough devices designed to take advantage of the system’s touch-screen features. But that is about to change as HP, Dell and other PC makers prepare to roll out a wide variety of laptops and tablets with displays that respond to touch. More than 2,400 devices have now been certified to run on Windows 8, up from 2,000 in January, Reller said.

Most of the touch-screen laptops will sell at prices $50 to $250 below the first wave of comparable machines running on Windows 8, reductions that Microsoft hopes will prod more people to check out the system.

“As we look at Windows 8, it’s important to remember a lot of its full potential won’t be realized until there are more touch devices on the market,” Reller said.

Microsoft tries again, plans revamp of maligned Windows 8 - The Globe and Mail
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
You know when I finally got Vista, I was like "Why is everyone shitting on this?"

Mainly cause I got in after all the growing pains and the 2 major service packs...

Will be the same will probably look at Win 8 after this update, win7 is working great for me so far will keep that on my main machine and use my HTPC for a Win 8 "Blue" test drive!
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I think the announcement will keep people from buying new PCs until the end of the year, or at least until Microsoft decides whether to make this available for free to people who have already purchased the Windows 8 operating system.

If Microsoft decides to sell this do-over, I am certain it will extend the PC buying doldrums, unless it contains some mew and exciting functionality people can't live without.

I know, in my case, I want to buy a pc this year but don't want one with Windows 8 installed in it. If I get a promise from them that the migration to Windows Blue would be free and easy, then maybe I would consider it, but certainly not if they are going to charge for the re-done software.

If they sell the re-do, they will have pissed off and alienated the cohort who bought stand-alone Windows 8 software packages, and perhaps even those who bought computers with Windows 8 pre-loaded on them.
 

Wiseman

TRIBE Member
Have they ever charged for Service Pack releases? I don't remember paying for them.

And agreed with Praktik, Vista was great after SP1 and very good after SP2.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
I think the PC doldrums have far less to do w/ MS and much more to do with new tech changing usage models as smartphones+tablets and other form factors supplant the home PC.

Im not sure a sexy new windows OS that everyone loved would make much of a difference, especially since they would have a mobile iteration too that would be making tablets and things like the Surface Pro enticing at the same time as the desktop....
 
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Deus

TRIBE Member
What is it people don't like about Windows 8?

I personally have Windows 8 on my Desktop and my laptop which has a touchscreen (and flips into a tablet) and I love using it on both.

I really like the File History, the easy format and restore feature, and the improved task manager. I don't miss the Start button as I never used it with old windows. I have all my applications pinned to the bar, and if I don't the search function easily finds it.

The biggest shortcoming is that there is a lack of apps for the Metro interface and I am still using the iPad for reading and other things.
 

Deus

TRIBE Member
It's really not obtrusive. Once you click on desktop you are just using regular windows.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Ya - did windows 8 install last night on HTPC, accelerated from bizarre issue where for some reason, the same computer couldn't see my NAS, out of the blue, after working fine w/ no issues for over a year...

other computer could see it fine - I went down the rabbit hole on every network setting in Windoes 7 - I was thinking it was the NAS

but then other computer was seeing it fine and copying to and from it with no issue

so I said fuck it, I was going to do windows 8 anyway

installed it on the HTPC, it fixed my issue (stupid microsoft problems always have a fix guys, remember, just do a fresh install! haha)

and I am quite pleased w/ the experience actually!

I am really liking the design and so far, it may seem small/lame, but coolest update I think is the file copying/transfer stuff - very nice extended info when you click for details - seems like the best methodology/display they've had for file transferring (my understanding is its improved under the hood too in terms of technical way it manages transfers)
 
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Blysspluss

TRIBE Member
Eh the lack of integration between IE in metro and desktop is quite the little blunder.

...assuming anyone actually uses it.

Good that they are rumoured to be fixing it. I can't imagine this will be a paid upgrade.

Strikes me as more of a service pack to fix what wasn't done right the first time.
 

oddmyth

TRIBE Member
I think the announcement will keep people from buying new PCs until the end of the year, or at least until Microsoft decides whether to make this available for free to people who have already purchased the Windows 8 operating system.
Pretty sure this will be a non-paid update, at least that what all my news sources have pointed towards.

If Microsoft decides to sell this do-over, I am certain it will extend the PC buying doldrums, unless it contains some mew and exciting functionality people can't live without.
Nothing will bring back the PC market, not in the traditional - this is my desktop - sense. Tablets are already more powerful than the desktop I had 10 years ago, at this rate of growth your entire desktop will be portable. PC's are dying it has nothing to do with Windows 8.

I know, in my case, I want to buy a pc this year but don't want one with Windows 8 installed in it. If I get a promise from them that the migration to Windows Blue would be free and easy, then maybe I would consider it, but certainly not if they are going to charge for the re-done software.
If you look in the small-medium business or enterprise sections of any major manufacturer you will find Win7 desktops.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
^^ Ya I see that future too, but I think we need a bit more progress up the performance/watt curve before a desktop can be truly replaced...

However one potential thing that can accelerate it is the thunderbolt interface. So I am thinking here of how someone wanting to push 1080p3d with lots of eye candy turned on, or gaming @ 1440p, they still need graphics horsepower no notebook/tablet could ever provide given current power envelopes and form factors (no gpu that tiny can push that much - yet - my Titan, still not powerful enough to play all modern games @ full, has 6 gigs of memory chips and a crazy core design - all that needs a pretty wide surface area to find a home)

So looking at this one might think it will be 10-15 years before tiny gpus and tiny form factor devices can provide that kind of performance, the thunderbolt interface provides some interesting options:

- I could have a general purpose ultrabook with thunderbolt and underpowered graphics for my web browsing, portable usage, video watching
- when I get home and in front of my HDTV/Gaming monitor with the much higher resolution, I could connect to a powerful "GPU in a box", that would have its own power brick, connect that w/ thunderbolt to the laptop and you can have it basically tap that GPU with same efficiency/speed it could get through the PCIe interface!

So with this in mind and a few enabling products put out there by people like EVGA - maybe partnering up with Dell or something - could see us live in that future much sooner, where you basically can have one computer and no compromises: full portability when moving around, full power on tap when you're at home.

I bought a massive computer case with the expectation it would last me 10 years. I think by the time 2022 rolls around it will be a question as to whether i replace w/ a desktop at all...
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
When it comes to the office I can say that the model now is mostly laptop, whereas when I started those were relegated to higher level positions now it seems almost NO ONE has a desktop...
 

oddmyth

TRIBE Member
^^ Ya I see that future too, but I think we need a bit more progress up the performance/watt curve before a desktop can be truly replaced...
The push to 14nm is happening now, these things are already just a year out, Intels push into mobile is going to be quite interesting.

However one potential thing that can accelerate it is the thunderbolt interface. So I am thinking here of how someone wanting to push 1080p3d with lots of eye candy turned on, or gaming @ 1440p, they still need graphics horsepower no notebook/tablet could ever provide given current power envelopes and form factors (no gpu that tiny can push that much - yet - my Titan, still not powerful enough to play all modern games @ full, has 6 gigs of memory chips and a crazy core design - all that needs a pretty wide surface area to find a home)
1. 3d is a lost cause, I know you love it and push for it, but as someone who has setup these systems for years and spoken extensively with the guys in the theatres and the guys who sell the 3d systems on the high end, just like the 70's and the 80's and even briefly in the 90's, this shit is going to go away.

2. 4k is still just a pipedream for consumers. Nobody is looking to push 4k television. Compression isn't there yet, bandwidth is nowhere close in many first world countries, theatres aren't going to invest in yet another piece of candy after just finishing putting just a couple of 3d projectors in some theatres. The move to 2k or 1080p was necessary, the move to 4k is just an absolute luxury and a very expensive one at that. Many years out still.


So looking at this one might think it will be 10-15 years before tiny gpus and tiny form factor devices can provide that kind of performance, the thunderbolt interface provides some interesting options:

- I could have a general purpose ultrabook with thunderbolt and underpowered graphics for my web browsing, portable usage, video watching
- when I get home and in front of my HDTV/Gaming monitor with the much higher resolution, I could connect to a powerful "GPU in a box", that would have its own power brick, connect that w/ thunderbolt to the laptop and you can have it basically tap that GPU with same efficiency/speed it could get through the PCIe interface!
TB currently can barely provide the throughput of a decent graphics card to a high resolution display today, but that will certainly change in later iterations.

We are now just breaking through on complete GPU virtualization and being able to share a single GPU between several users (the nvidia K5000 and the Grid compute node are good examples of this technology). In many cases you could run your every screen in your house off a singular GPU in the same way you envision or even wirelessly for things that don't need high resolution or are very easily compressible.


So with this in mind and a few enabling products put out there by people like EVGA - maybe partnering up with Dell or something - could see us live in that future much sooner, where you basically can have one computer and no compromises: full portability when moving around, full power on tap when you're at home.
Dell can already provide a complete PC over IP experience for dual 24" monitors on about 35Mbps connection with little to no compression. I have colleagues in my industry doing this already.
 
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praktik

TRIBE Member
Cool but when I was talking about 1440p I was talking about 2560x1440 computer resolution, which you should be familiar with, not 4k

My main point was that enthusiasts looking for more demanding, bandwidth hogging video resolutions/modes, which could be 1440p, 1080p in 3D (GPU needs to push twice, once for each eye), eyefinity (multi-display), or could simply be 1920x1200 with AA turned up to 8x and all the other eye candy turned on - that the model doesn't exist yet for them to have that power coming from a portable device.

Some of the other things you mention are interesting - but will they mean that people wanting these more demanding graphics modes will have a suitable desktop replacement such that 5 years from now, the desktop will seem "quaint"?

My gut is thinking that is more like 10 years off than 5 years off
 

oddmyth

TRIBE Member
Cool but when I was talking about 1440p I was talking about 2560x1440 computer resolution, which you should be familiar with, not 4k
Yup I know, but no one cares about 1440p, nothing is being done to drive any display at that resolution. If anything the television and the desktop are converging and they won't be doing so at 1440p. 4k is the next race.

My main point was that enthusiasts looking for more demanding, bandwidth hogging video resolutions/modes, which could be 1440p, 1080p in 3D (GPU needs to push twice, once for each eye), eyefinity (multi-display), or could simply be 1920x1200 with AA turned up to 8x and all the other eye candy turned on - that the model doesn't exist yet for them to have that power coming from a portable device.
a
I'll break this up into two points, first immersive gaming and second GPU on mobile. However first I want to address 1080P in 3D because the GPU doesn't have to push twice. In active displays the GPU can simply offset the framebuffer for the opposing eye adding a few pixels to the offset side. In passive displays the scanlines are interleaved (so each eye is only half res).

Personally and take this with a grain of salt, because I am an old man now immersive gaming is pretty much a pipe dream that we had for decades that never really took off. Yeah Oculus Rift will bring us our first taste of real VR but I still honestly don't see us all going crazy to sit around with a gigantic headset on.

I think multi-display is really niche and I think that we are fast approaching the point in pushing realism in games that those titles are going to get very expensive to produce because, as someone who already works in photorealistic visual effects, I can tell you its very time consuming for even seconds of video to look very real, and to take those systems and make add dynamic lighting/shading, realistic texturing from every angle, rigid and soft bodies that move realistically and collide properly - it's bloody expensive - it's not worth the investment in a game to do that, especially in the current market.

So GPU on mobile, I think Infinity Blade on the iPad4 is probably one of the better examples here, sure it's not crazy fast and you aren't doing gigantic sweeps of the camera but all the right things are there to show you that we aren't as far off as you think we are.

Some of the other things you mention are interesting - but will they mean that people wanting these more demanding graphics modes will have a suitable desktop replacement such that 5 years from now, the desktop will seem "quaint"?

My gut is thinking that is more like 10 years off than 5 years off
Personally I will never invest in a gaming PC again, mainly because console and mobile are good enough for me and the PC gaming I do care about isn't GPU intense.

More importantly all I want is the internet bandwidth to push a given resolution to my terminal at home, once I can do that, then I can rent a remote computer that can fulfill my gaming needs by the hour or minute for much less than the cost of a PC and all the associated upgrade costs of owning one. Either that or the game developers will push their games onto a cloud system that you will remotely connect to and play on.

Both of those are complete possibilities even today, all we need is consistent and stable bandwidth.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Ya i wonder if that stuff about the trend towards mediocrity people are noticing applies here (for instance, look at the glut of just atrocious displays flying off the shelves)

So that one day maybe there won't even BE an enthusiast PC gaming market, cause the products just won't exist to serve that market. Everything will be "good enough"...

I wonder though if there would still be ways to differentiate...

Buy the "Silver" stream and get 1080p

Buy the "Platinum stream" and get higher resolutions, higher bandwidth stream with all the bells and whistles turned on (and assumed will have higher end decoding equipment in this segment too - people shelling out for better displays/receivers etc)
 
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