Microsoft Launches Windows 8 Blog Ahead of its BUILD Conference


While it’s no secret that Microsoft is working hard on getting Windows 8 ready for a beta launch and while the company has shown a few snippets of the new user interface here and there, exact details about its internals and what the full experience will look like remain rare. Today, however, Microsoft’s president of the Windows and Windows Live division Steven Sinofsky announced the launch of a new company blog that will keep consumers and customers updated about the state of Windows 8.

Sinofksy: “Windows 8 reimagines Windows for a new generation of computing devices”

As Sinofsky notes, Microsoft wants to use this blog to have an “open dialog with those […] who will be trying out the pre-release version over the coming months.” It’s widely expected that Microsoft will make an early beta version of Windows 8 available to its developers at its Windows-centric BUILD conference next month.

There isn’t too much that is new in Sinofsky’s blog post. He mostly reiterates what Microsoft has already publicly stated about Windows 8. Here are some of the highlights: [list]

  • Microsoft is “100% committed to running the software and supporting the hardware that is compatible with over 400 million Windows 7 licenses already sold and all the Windows 7 yet to be sold.”
  • “Computing is much more focused on applications and on people than on the operating system itself or the data. These changes in the landscape motivate the most significant changes to Windows, from the chips to the experience”
  • “In the next weeks we will just start talking specifics of features, since there is no obvious place to start given the varying perspectives. From fundamentals, to user interface, to hardware support, and more, if something is important to you, we promise we’ll get to it in some form or another.”
  • “Our focus on performance, reliability, compatibility, security, and quality is now baked into our engineering process even as we change Windows for a new generation. With these changes come new ways of doing work on Windows PCs as well as continual investments in hardware, software, and peripherals.” [/list]

Still, it’s good to see that Microsoft is ready to talk more openly about Windows 8 now. This will help it to keep rumors in check and potentially build some excitement around Windows 8. The early glimpse at the UI we got earlier this year was promising, but also still felt more like a skin on top of Windows 7 than a new operating system. This early demo also focused strongly on the touch screen experience and barely touched upon what the regular interface would look like on a mainstream desktop.

After the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft was widely criticized for soliciting feedback from users during the beta phase without taking a lot of it into account. Hopefully, things will be a bit different this time around.

9:32 pm

The Microsoft Tanker Has Turned and You Ignore it at Your Own Peril


Whenever I hear people discussing Microsoft, it usually doesn’t take long before somebody mentions that the Redmond-based giant is like a huge oil tanker. It takes a while to turn such a huge company around and get it back on track. When Microsoft stumbled after the dotcom boom and couldn’t even produce a viable browser to compete with the open-source offerings of Mozilla, quite a few pundits assumed that the age of Microsoft was about to come to an end (the less said about the disaster that was Windows Vista, the better).

Microsoft Today

Flash forward to late 2010. Windows 7 is a huge success. Internet Explorer 9 has the potential to be one of the best browsers on the market. Windows Phone 7 is about to be released (and after seeing it in action during a short trip to Redmond earlier this week, I’m convinced that it will be a huge hit). Bing is bringing much-needed competition to the search engine market. Windows Live is becoming a great little social media aggregator for its users and a central hub for all of Microsoft online consumer tools. Hotmail – as much as it is ignored by the tech press – is still one of the most popular email services on the planet and continues to quietly innovate. The Windows Live Essentials desktop tools can easily hold their own in comparison with Apple’s tools. The Office Web apps easily beat the offerings of Microsoft’s competitors in both design and functionality.

What’s interesting is that most of these apps and services are only one or two iterations removed from really horrible products like Windows Mobile 6.5, Internet Explorer 7, Live Search.

Turning the Tanker Around

Spending some time earlier this week on the Microsoft campus, I couldn’t help but think that this is a very different Microsoft from the company we all loved to hate not too long ago. Instead of trying to build its own Facebook clone, for example, Microsoft is using Windows Live to aggregate other social networks. Just ten years ago, Microsoft would have never done that. Windows Phone 7 isn’t just a copy of the Android and iOS operating system and neither is it some weird adaptation of a desktop OS. Instead, Microsoft developed a vibrant new user interface based on its experience with the Zune (a good device, no matter how it failed in the marketplace) and the XBox.

Of course, there are still areas where Microsoft struggles (and the Kin was quite a disaster), but it’s hard not to think that the tanker has now turned and is sailing ahead at full steam.

10:34 pm