Google today released the latest stable version of its Chrome browser. Version 32includes many of the features that recently arrived in the beta channel, including improved malware blocking and tab indicators for when a site is playing sound, accessing the webcam and sending video to your Chromecast. Google uses a speaker icon, blue rectangle and red dot to indicate these different functions.
Those indicators are a godsend for anybody who has ever tried to figure out which tab suddenly started playing music or a video. Google first started playing with this idea in early 2013, but the beta only got this feature in November.
This new version also includes Google’s new malware blocker, which arrived in the experimental Canary build of Chrome last October. With this, Google will automatically block any downloads its systems have flagged as malware.
For Windows 8 users, the new version now sports a new look in “Metro” mode (Google still uses that term, even though Microsoft itself has moved away from it and left it rather unclear what the new terminology should be). In Metro mode, Chrome now looks like ChromeOS with its integrated app launched on Windows. In previous versions, the Metro mode simply presented users with the regular Chrome interface. This never looked quite right, but with this new interface, Google is actually using the Metro mode to its advantage and is basically bringing ChromeOS to Windows.
Also new in this version is support for Chrome’s “supervised users” feature, which is officially still in beta. With this, family members can check on a kid’s browsing history, for example, and set up site restrictions through chrome.com/manage.
As always, this release also includes a good number of security fixes (21 in total), as well as stability and performance updates.
One year after the debut of Windows 8, Windows 8.1 is here. It feels significantly less dramatic, but Microsoft’s latest version of its PC operating system has some changes, and some requirements, all its own. If you’re a curious would-be adopter, or a diligent Windows 8 upgrader, read on for some answers to your questions.
Last year’s Windows 8 was a brand-new, somewhat jarring operating system aimed at making touch-screen devices, and Windows devices that could convert between touch and keyboard/mouse modes, easier to use.
Windows 8.1 is a series of subtle changes, a software patch of sorts to last year’s software. There are some differences, but most of them seem to exist to appeal to more-traditional PC users — those who want more of a return to the traditional Windows experience. The biggest changes are:
You can boot directly into Desktop mode instead of the tile-based app user interface
What’s the different between Windows 8.1 and Windows RT?
Windows 8.1 is the “real” Windows OS that runs on PCs and tablets; it includes backward compatibility with most earlier Windows software — programs and games that were designed to run on Windows 7, Vista, and XP. By contrast, Windows RT is a stripped-down version of Windows 8.1 that does not deliver that backward compatibility. (The reason: RT machines run ARM chips rather than full Intel or AMD “x86” CPUs, allowing them longer battery life and cheaper prices.) Instead, Windows RT only runs the apps available in the Windows Store (which, confusingly, is available in both 8.1 and RT). Notably, however, Windows RT includes a free copy of Microsoft Office 2013, which has been designed to run on both versions of Windows.
No, you can use any PC, as long as it fits the Windows 8.1 hardware requirements. Touch screens aren’t required. In fact, Windows 8.1 makes it easier: you can stay in “Desktop mode” and just use your PC in a way that (largely) bypasses the touch-friendly tile interface. Even those, should you encounter them, can be navigated with keyboard and mouse/touch pad, however.
Is the Start button back?
Yes — sort of. The annoying absence of a Start button made easy-access navigation on Windows 8 a confusing chore, but it’s back — although it just provides a shortcut to the tile menu. However, right-clicking it brings up a contextual menu with additional options.
How do I get Windows 8.1, and what does it cost?
For existing Windows 8 users, Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade. Just go the app store if you’re a Windows 8 user, and start downloading.
If you’re coming from Windows 7 (or an even earlier version of Windows), it can be bought herefor $120, or $200 for the business-targeted pro version. For more step-by-step information, read our how-to guide.
What are the system requirements?
For the full rundown, click here. But here’s the bare-bones needs:
1GHz or faster processor with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2
1GB of RAM for 32-bit computing, or 2GB for 64-bit
16GB of hard-drive space (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit)
A Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
My colleague Dan Ackerman said it best in his Windows 8.1 review. If you’re a regular PC user, I’ll repeat in his paraphrased words what you should do:
If you’re an existing Windows 8 user, the update is free and largely seamless, and adds some useful new tweaks and features. You should upgrade as soon as possible.
If you’re a Windows 7 user thinking of upgrading your legacy hardware, consider keeping with Windows 7 until it’s time for a new PC; those touch-optimized Windows 8 and 8.1 elements won’t do much for you anyway, and Windows 7 still works well with all sorts of applications.
Either way, you’ll probably have to get used to Windows 8 eventually, since it’s Microsoft’s PC operating system now. It’s really, however, more of a finishing touch for Windows 8-optimized machines.
The best way to get Windows 8.1? Wait to buy a new PC with Windows 8 or 8.1 installed: it’ll run the software better, and it won’t cost anything extra.
I’m moving on from Windows; what other alternatives are there?
Windows isn’t the only game in town: you can always opt for a Mac, a tablet (Android, iPad), or aChromebook. There are more choices than ever before; just realize that each of them has relative advantages and disadvantages, and none of them will run your legacy Windows software (unless you invest in a solution like Parallels for Mac).
Those who buy HP Windows 8PCs and decide they want to downgrade to Windows 7 are in for a shock: Consumers will be on their own if there are Windows-related problems on the machines, and HP won’t offer support.
Update: After this post was written, HP has changed its policy on downgrades from Windows 8 to Windows 7. HP will now support Windows 7 on computers that have been downgraded from Windows 8. HP says:
Customers can downgrade to Windows 7 and you will remain protected by HP product warranties.
However, HP has not tested all Windows 8 platforms for Windows 7 and we may not have your particular drivers available.
Downgrade rights lets customers revert to an earlier version of Windows at no cost. Typically, enterprises get downgrade right when they buy new machines. As for consumers, only those who buy Windows 8 Pro get downgrade rights.
HP says that if a consumer downgrades from Windows 8 to Windows 7, HP won’t support Windows on it, although it will still support the underlying hardware itself. The HP FAQ warns:
“HP does not recommend downgrading on any HP consumer desktop and notebook products. After October 26, 2012, HP consumer desktop and notebook products will ship only with Windows 8. Windows 7 will not be supported on these new platforms, and no drivers, apps, or Windows 7 content will be available through HP. If users choose to downgrade their HP consumer desktop or notebook system, HP will continue to support the hardware but if there is an issue where HP diagnostics are required OR it is determined that the loaded software or upgrade operating system is causing the issue, HP may suggest returning the system to the original Windows 8 OS that shipped with the computer.”
In other words, if you run into trouble on Windows 7 on the machines, you’re on your own.
(Photo : Microsoft) No official U.S. release date has been announced.
Microsoft is looking to change the way that consumers pay for Microsoft Office, and to that end has introduced a subscription based pricing model for the program’s 2013 version. Under the new model, Office 365 Home Premium will cost $99.99/year, and Office 365 Small Business Premium will cost $149.99/year. If Office users opt for the traditional licensed offering, Office Home & Student 2013 will be priced at $139.99, Office Home & Business 2013 at $219.99, and Office Professional 2013 at $399.99. Office Small Business Premium offers its suite for $12.50/month and can be used by up to 25 employees.
Office Home & Student 2013 features Powerpoint, OneNote, Excel, and Word. Office Home & Business supplements this package with Outlook, and Office Professional sweetens the deal with Publisher and Access.
Should consumers choose the subscription option for Office 365 Home Premium, they will be treated to 60 minutes of Skype calls per month and 20GB of SkyDrive cloud storage. Microsoft has also introduced Office on Demand, a feature available to consumers that allows users to stream the program to non-subscribed devices.
With the license option, Office 365 Home Premium owners are free to install the included programs on five computers.
Computer World notes that “all versions, whether subscription or conventional, have a new interface consistent with the “Modern -formerly called “Metro”-interface of Windows 8, which is optimized for touchscreens, such as those in tablets.”
IDC analyst Al Hilwa states, “Microsoft is bracing for a shift to a subscription model because it’s so much easier for them on a financial revenue perspective because it’s more predictable.”
In order to achieve this, the company “is trying to make the price of the subscription more attractive by increasing the prices of licenses.”
While Microsoft Office 2013 does not have an official release date, the preview version of the suite can be downloaded on Microsoft’s official website now.
Microsoft has officially announced Windows Phone 8 (which you may know better as Apollo) and confirming many of the rumours about the new operating system at the Windows Phone Summit.
The new operating system is tasked with catching up to the dominate iOS and Android platforms, and become the stand-out third choice mobile OS, something RIM is also hoping to achieve once it launches BlackBerry 10 early next year.
Windows Phone 8 release date
Microsoft is holding a special Windows Phone 8 event in San Francisco on October 29 to official launch the latest version of its mobile operating platform.
TechRadar will be reporting live from the event, where we hope to find out the official Windows Phone 8 release date, which looks set to be early November, if rumours about handset arrivals are to be believed.
Huawei has also been granted permission by Microsoft to build a Windows Phone 8 handset for launch, but we’re yet to hear any official on this from the Chinese firm, with rumours pointing towards a slightly more budget handset, possibly called the Ascend W1.
Windows Phone 8 – who’s on board?
Samsung, Huawei, HTC and Nokia are the only confirmed Windows Phone 8 manufacturers at this time – although ZTE told TechRadar it will be launching WP8-powered handsets in 2013.
During IFA 2012 in Berlin Samsung unveiled its first Windows Phone 8 handset, the Ativ S, which will pack a large 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, with the choice of 16GB and 32GB of internal storage.
Huawei will be bringing out a Windows Phone 8 handset by the end of the year too, with Shao Yang, chief marketing officer for Huawei, saying: “We are poised to end the year with a big bang – with the introduction of our first smartphone running on the Windows Phone platform.”
Nokia has also unveiled its first two handsets to run Windows Phone 8 at a special event in New York.
The flagship Nokia Lumia 920 will head up the Finnish firm’s range, sporting a 4.5-inch HD display, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 8.7MP rear ‘Pureview’ camera, 32GB of internal memory and 1GB of RAM, helping it to run Microsoft’s latest mobile platform.
Given the phones are officially called ‘Windows Phone 8X/S by HTC’ it’s a curious move from Microsoft to make the Taiwanese manufacturer the flagship brand for the new version of the platform.
Both phones exhibit solid design, feel great in the hand, and while they’re not as thing as the competition offer tapered chassis to add a better position during use.
The 8X and 8S both offer up Beats Audio for enhanced sound, but the 8X is the superior experience thanks to a larger 4.3-inch screen, compared to the 4-inch of the latter.
Update: Rumours suggest that Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 handsets will be the most expensive, as HTC and Samsung look to undercut the Finnish firm in an attempt to steal market share away.
At the other end of the scale, the Huawei Ascend W1 is expected to be the cheapest, with sources claiming it will come in at around $300-$350 (£185-215/AU$290-340).
Update: Microsoft could be planning to launch its own smartphone, with rumours surrounding a Surface phone doing the rounds, further boosted by Nokia’s CEO dropping a possible hint.
Windows Phone 8 apps
The problem for Windows Phone is less the existing users – who tend to be enthusiastic as well as demanding – and more selling the phones.
The partnership with Nokia is certainly helping, as will the announcement that the Windows Phone Marketplace is now up to 100,000 apps with more coming – from the PayPal support for Wallet to iPhone must-haves like Words with Friends and Audible, plus Zynga’s newly acquired Draw Something.
All Windows Phone 7 apps will run on Windows Phone 8 handsets; but in future developers will have to choose whether to make an app that only uses Windows Phone 7 features and works on both, or one that uses Windows Phone 8.
This means supporting features like Wallet, VOIP, native code or being able to run navigation in the background (which should mean we finally see some full-featured turn-by-turn navigation apps that go beyond what Nokia Drive offers).
TomTom clearly sees the power of Nokia Drive too, as it reckons it will be looking at a Windows Phone 8 app in the future, despite saying it has ‘a bit of a love hate relationship with Windows Phone’.
EA has come out in support of Windows Phone 8 platform too, with the powerful Windows 8 synergy seemingly enough to encourage the brand to state: “Anything that allows more platforms to be adopted quickly that have a gaming element is good for Electronic Arts.”
However, BBC iPlayer isn’t likely to appear on the platform due to the development tools used, meaning it will still lag behind iOS and Android in the VOD stakes.
There are other advantages, but with the interfaces to components like graphics, audio and sensors being far more similar to those in Windows 8, it’s a lot easier to write Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps that share features.
Or, of course, they can make two versions, one for 7 and one for 8; how often that happens is going to depend both on how easy Microsoft makes it to share code between versions of apps in its developer tools and on sales of Windows Phone 8 handsets.
Windows Phone 8 interface
There is one feature of Windows Phone you will be able to get on current handsets (with an update that has the strikingly appropriate name of Windows Phone 7.8) and that’s the new Start screen. This now uses the whole width of the screen, without the arrow to tell you to swipe sideways for more apps.
With the extra space you can fit in a lot more tiles, which can now be three different sizes. There’s a new small size that you can pick for any app, so if you don’t need the Office hub or the dialler to have a full size button because there’s not that much useful information on them, you can shrink them down.
New start screen:With the extra space you can fit in a lot more tiles, which can now be three different sizes.
And as well as the current standard tile size, any app will be able to have an extra-large tile to fit more details onto the live tile. Along with some new colour schemes, that makes the Start screen look much more personal.
But the overall look of the platform hasn’t changed dramatically – you’re still offered a list of apps adjacent to the Start screen, and the panorama method of seeing more information by moving horizontally remains – after all, why change one of the best things about the old OS?
A few new features look set to still be unveiled – for instance, the mysterious Rooms to allow for shared calendars and photos – so we’re still eagerly awaiting the official unveil later this year.
Update: Microsoft could incorporate a new kind of live wallpaper when it reveals the Windows Phone 8 operating system in full, after the Nokia Innovation site has posted an image with WP8 handsets showcasing updates from an NFL game and another showing thumbnail images from news stories.
Windows Phone 8 – under the hood
Windows Phone 8 is a major new version, running the kernel from Windows rather than from Windows CE.
It isn’t the same as Windows 8, or even Windows RT – even though that also runs on ARM processors – and it doesn’t have the same look to the Start screen and Metro-style WinRT apps won’t run on Windows Phone 8.
But under the hood it’s a lot more similar to develop for and Windows Phone gets several key components from ‘big’ Windows as well as some significant new features and new hardware, which is good news for what developers can make apps do with the increased access they get to the phone system.
Don’t expect the same do-anything, break-anything ethos of Android though; battery life and user experience are still priorities for Windows Phone and even native applications run in a sandbox.
Windows Phone 8 future updates
There’s good news regarding future software updates on Windows Phone 8, as you won’t have to wait until your mobile network gets around to testing and pushing out updates.
There’s going to be a way for users to get updates directly from Microsoft (perhaps labelled as beta releases) as long as they assume responsibility for anything that goes wrong.
It’s good to see Microsoft is finally doing something to address the problem of upgrades that would work on your handset but you’re frustratingly unable to get due to networks getting in the way – listen up, Google.
Windows Phone 8 browser and security
Key features that Windows Phone 8 gets from Windows include Internet Explorer 10, complete with the phishing filter and SmartScreen application reputation service to make it harder for malicious websites to trick you into giving away personal information like credit card details or downloading malware.
Malware hasn’t been a problem for Windows Phone so far, but any platform that becomes successful is going to get attacked.
Windows Phone gets other Windows security features like disk encryption and secure boot, so businesses will be happier to use it (especially as they can now manage devices and sideload their own business applications).
Windows Phone 8 media and gaming
Audio, graphics and media playback all work more like their Windows equivalents, which should make for more powerful games and entertainment apps.
However, this means that current games will need to be re-tooled to take advantage of the new platform – the likes of Rovio can leave their games as Windows Phone 7 versions, but they’ll likely want to re-release a more powerful version of the game too.
But given the increased GPU support and power on offer, we’ll at least start seeing some more 3D-rich gaming environments that start taxing the Windows Phone 8 handsets compared to their previous counterparts.
There’s one place where Windows Phone is jumping ahead of Windows; VOIP calls will look just like regular phone calls with all the same features and notifications. Obviously that’s good for Skype but other VOIP apps like Tango will get the same support.
We’re still waiting to see how deep Skype integration gets into the Windows Phone 8 OS, as given it’s already available as an app on the Windows Phone Marketplace it should be shoved pretty deeply into the platform.
Will it lead to a surge in video calling? Probably not, but as there are strong rumours the Xbox platform will be getting a taste of video calling too it seems only fair that Windows Phone 8 devices, complete with their improved front-facing cameras, should be given priority.
Windows Phone 8 CPU
To make all this work well Windows Phone 8 will run on new hardware; still ARM processors, still the Snapdragon platform from Qualcomm but now with multicore processors, with a new generation of GPUs, and with NFC support.
Battery life is still priority for the platform, so we doubt Microsoft is going to allow any CPUs that get too amorous with the power pack – but more power is a big selling point in today’s smartphone market, so this makes enormous sense.
The new Microsoft Wallet app will allow you to make payments by tapping your phone on a credit card reader the way Google Wallet does, and store credit card and membership details securely and tap your phone to send them the way iOS 6 will.
And you’re not tied to using a Microsoft payment service; applications will be able to tap into the Wallet system to set up new payment services – which will include Paypal.
The app is a hub for digital coupons and debit or credit cards – plus you can add in loyalty cards and third party apps that will notify you when they become relevant.
NFC is there for Microsoft’s Wallet payment system, but has other options as well. The OS supports secure SIM, which means users’ can swap from handset to handset and take their payment method with them physically.
There are other applications that Nokia is keen to utilise as well, such as being able to pair with its Bluetooth accessories with a simple tap of the phone – it’s a trick we’ve seen on the old Symbian phones and one we expect to feature heavily here too.
Microsoft has teamed up with Audible to bring speech recognition to Windows Phone 8, allowing users to shout a variety of commands at their handsets.
During the keynote presentation, we saw a demo of the speech platform – which allowed a user to play movies, browse audiobooks and perform searches.
It’s also available for Mango devices, so pop over to the Marketplace today and search Audible if you fancy a go.
Windows Phone 8 upgrades
That’s the reason that you won’t be able to upgrade any existing Windows Phone handsets to 8, because they don’t have the hardware to support the new features or deliver the multitasking performance that the Windows kernel and the improved VOIP support needs.
Only two of the rumoured new resolutions are being announced, both widescreen formats: 1280 by 768 and 1280 by 720 as well as the current 800 by 480, which should give phone makers more flexibility when it comes to choosing parts they can use in multiple devices.
And Windows Phone finally sorts out its SD card support; you’ll be able to store media files on a micro SD card or install applications onto it.
Take a moment to check out our Windows Phone 8 round up video below.
It’s a big day for Microsoft, as the company gets set to launch Windows 8, the biggest change in years for its flagship operating system.
Windows 8 moves Windows into new directions. It can run on traditional PC processors as well as those traditionally used in phones and tablets. It is designed to be equally at home on a touchscreen slate as on a desktop PC with keyboard and mouse.
AllThingsD will have live coverage from the New York launch event, which is due to kick off in about 20 minutes. The software itself, along with new PCs running the operating system, is set to go on sale Friday.
8:11 am: We’re probably about five minutes away from the start. To set the scene, we’re at Pier 57, near the edge of the Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.
8:18 am: Lights dim. “The World is Ready” in white type on a black screen. Cue video.
There’s a spinning globe, then a brief clip of Windows boss Steven Sinofsky at the China launch of Windows 8, from earlier this week.
Lots of people from around the world, interspersed with clips from Microsoft’s developer events, and shots of Windows 8 in action.
Onstage now is Sinofsky. Mostly recapping. Windows 7 has sold 670 million licenses so far.
The world is really different now than it was a while ago, etc.
“In creating Windows 8, we shunned the incremental,” Sinofsky said. We boldly reimagined Windows.
8:24 am: Sinofsky now talking about the 650 pages worth of blogs written about the development of Windows 8 (the longest of which he penned personally).
If you are familiar with Windows 8, most of this is old hat. But, while we are going through it, I’ll summarize the basics.
Windows 8 has two modes: The desktop, which looks a lot like Windows 7, and a new-look Start menu that links to both classic Windows apps as well as a new breed of touch-centric apps designed specifically for the new OS.
8:28 am: Starting at 12:01 am, the software is available as a $39 downloadable upgrade for Windows 7 users, as well as on new computers.
Sinofsky notes that Windows 8 has been through 1.24 billion hours of public testing
“No product anywhere receives this level of external usage and testing prior to release,” Sinofsky said.
There are more than 1,000 PCs certified to run the new operating system.
Full-featured Windows 8 PCs will start at under $300, Sinofsky said — less than most tablets.
8:31 am: Sinofsky is talking about apps — perhaps the biggest question mark when it comes to Windows 8.
“We’re just getting started today,” Sinofsky said. The company isn’t giving out an official number, but it is estimated that by the end of the week there will be somewhere around 10,000 apps globally.
8:32 am: Peeking at the logos behind Sinofsky … Vimeo, Kindle, FX, Kobo, Rakuten, Box, PopSci, CW, USA Today are some of the logos I see — we’ll have a photo soon of the slide.
Netflix and Hulu are there, too.
8:34 am: Now Sinofsky is talking about Windows RT, which runs on ARM-based processors from companies such as Nvidia and Qualcomm.
So far, Windows RT machines are being made by Asus, Lenovo, Dell, Samsung and Microsoft itself — with Surface RT.
Sinofsky is clarifying that, unlike Windows 8 PCs, RT machines only run built-in apps — Office, as well as those designed for the new Windows Store.
8:36 am: Windows RT can use existing peripherals, though, Sinofsky notes, including all the best-selling printers. In total, there are 420 million existing devices that will connect to Windows RT devices.
Microsoft had a tighter-than-normal partnership with chip and hardware makers when it came to Windows RT — limiting the number of hardware makers that any one chipmaker could work with.
8:37 am: Now onstage are Windows executives Mike Angiulo and Julie Larson-Green to show off some of the Windows 8 PCs.
But first, another video.
8:38 am: First up, the duo are showing off Windows 8 running on existing Windows 7 PCs.
Larson-Green logs in by touching specific places on a picture of her kids — a new option with Windows 8.
“Windows 8 is really easy,” Larson-Green said. “Everything you need is right under your thumbs.”
Built-in Xbox Music service offers free streaming of 30 million songs.
“It’s a really great update for all Windows 7 PCs,” Larson-Green said.
Angiulo shows Windows 8 running on a Lenovo X1 Ultrabook, which he said boosts start-up time by 33 percent on that device.
Importantly, desktop apps and new-style apps can be run side by side.
They demo Excel 2013 running alongside a weather app. Colleague Lauren Goode says she can’t remember ever seeing two people so excited about Excel.
Angiulo talks up Windows Phone 8, and the experience. (Of course, plug in an iPhone to a Windows RT machine, and all it can do is charge the device.)
8:46 am: It’s PC show and tell time. First up, an Intel-powered device from Acer and Lenovo’s ThinkPad Tablet 2. Lots of adjectives.
8:49 am: There are PCs in all shapes and sizes, laptops, tablets, convertibles, all-in-ones.
8:50 am: More app logos: Lots of magazines and newspapers and TV stations.
On to Windows RT — PCs that will offer better battery life, improved security. Microsoft is showing off five machines, starting with Lenovo’s flexible Yoga device (a version of which was first shown at CES back in January).
There’s also Dell’s XPS 10 and Samsung’s Ativ Tab, which Larson-Green says has 12 hours of battery life. Asus has its Vivo Tab RT and, last, there’s Microsoft Surface.
(Microsoft is being smart by touting its partners’ machines first, though we’ll be hearing a lot more about Surface later today.)
8:56 am: PC show and tell is done, and it’s time for another video.
8:57 am: CEO Steve Ballmer takes the stage
“It really is an exciting, exciting day,” Ballmer booms.
“Windows 8 shatters perceptions on what a PC really is,” Ballmer said.
Ballmer notes that the home screen is personal, with the apps, Web sites and people that matter most to whoever is using it.
By logging into a new Windows PC with a Microsoft account, lots of your information just flows down to the machine.
“It will all be there — everything and everybody that you care about,” Ballmer said.
Lots of great PCs, Ballmer said. “For the first time, though, Windows also has first-rate tablets in addition to desktops and notebooks.”
9:03 am: Ballmer gushing more, noting how many different parts of the company went into Windows 8, including Bing, MSN, SkyDrive, Skype and Xbox.
Oh, and Office.
9:06 am: Ballmer: “Are these new designs PCs? Yes. Are these new designs tablets? Yes.”
9:08 am: Now Ballmer is talking up Windows 8’s entertainment chops, including a SmartGlass feature that links a Windows 8 machine with Xbox and the Xbox video, music and movie services.
Enterprises will also like it, Ballmer promised.
Ballmer also promises more to come from Microsoft on the business front, relative to Windows 8.
Windows Phone, meanwhile, works in a similar way to the new desktop OS, Ballmer said, highlighting the similarities from that. (Microsoft is having a separate Windows Phone 8 event on Monday.)
Ballmer talking up the opportunity for software makers, noting that there are 670 million PCs just waiting to be upgraded to Windows 8.
Analysts forecast sales of another 400 million new PCs, most of which will run Windows 8. Those are big numbers, Ballmer said, even in a market known for big numbers.
We’ve grown very fond of this term “Windows reimagined,” Ballmer said. “You’ve heard it today, and you are going to see it in our ads.”
“Windows 8 does bring together the best of the worlds — PCs, tablets, work and play,” Ballmer said.
But, he said, people won’t take his word, and they shouldn’t. Go out and see the new PCs and touch them, he said, heading offstage.
I think this is it for this part of the event. There will be more from here, but not for a bit, so I will stop the liveblog and update you later with any other news.
Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 8, will launch on October 26, the company has confirmed.
Writing on the official ‘Blogging Windows’ site, Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc said that “Steven Sinofsky [Microsoft’s head of Windows] announced at Microsoft’s annual sales meeting that customers will be able to get Windows 8 – whether in upgrade fashion or on a new PC – starting on October 26”.
The software giant had previously said that Windows 8 would be available in October, but had not confirmed the date.
The new Windows 8 software includes an interface primarily for tablet computers, which Microsoft calls Metro, as well as an enhanced version of the existing Windows 7. Microsoft has described the update as its most radical, and is even producing its own range of computers, called Surface, to showcase it. It hopes to challenge Google and Apple for the dominance of the tablet category.
The latest trial version of the software, release Preview, expands on the Consumer Preview that Microsoft released in Barcelona earlier in the year, and is available free for users to download and test. Users are warned, however, that the free test expires and will entirely replace the existing Windows operating system.
Gabriel Aul, Director of Windows Programme Management, told the Telegraph that the release preview software was “all of what will be in the final product in terms of big features”. He added, however, that colours and themes were yet to be finalised.
The new software is designed to work as well on tablets as on traditional computers, and will replace Microsoft Windows 7, which has sold 525 million copies since it was released three years ago. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer has already talked of 500million machines running Windows 8 within a year.
The Metro interface borrows heavily from Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, while Microsoft has also redesigned the traditional ‘Start’ button, replacing it with a much more angular design that changes colour depending on which theme a user chooses. The Start menu has become an entire, customisable homescreen, and in desktop mode the Start button is no longer a permanent fixture