What We Just Learned About Windows 8
The new look of Windows 8 has been known for a few months — ever since Windows President Steven Sinofsky and VP Julie Larson-Green showed it at D9 in June. However, much of the operating system has remained top-secret until this week, when Microsoft is sharing the details at its Build developer conference in Anaheim.
AllThingsD is covering the event, including live coverage of Tuesday’s keynote speech.
In the meantime, here are a few new things that Microsoft is detailing about Windows 8 this week:
Windows 8 allows users to log in using either a PIN or password, but adds an option allowing users to look at a photo and make dots or lines on it as their login. (Hint: Using a face and dotting the eyes and drawing a line where the mouth is represents the equivalent of making your password 1-2-3-4.)
New way to connect apps
Microsoft calls these “contracts,” and they allow applications to talk to one another without either having to be aware of the other. Instead, one app agrees that it wants to be a search engine and another app decides it wants to build search into its application.
By swiping a finger in from the right edge of the screen, users have access to a consistent set of options, including search and a settings menu, as well as persistent options for sharing content via various tools.
Deep integration with Windows Live
Microsoft will use its suite of online services to allow users to access photos stored on SkyDrive, Facebook and Flickr just as if they were stored locally. Windows 8 will similarly blend instant messaging, contact information and calendars across multiple services via the cloud.
Connection to other Windows PCs
Users will be able to easily transfer all of their settings from one machine to another just by logging in to Windows Live. Furthermore, Windows 8 supports direct access to all of a user’s PCs. (I would assume the other PC has to be running in order to access it.)
The Windows Store
An app store icon was visible in the D9 demo, but Microsoft didn’t comment at all on it. Now we know how the store looks — it’s a Metro-style app — as well as how it will work for both consumers and developers. Also, it will stock both new-style programs as well as classic desktop applications. Microsoft wasn’t forthcoming on the business details — such as what percentage it plans to take — but some documents make reference to a revenue-sharing arrangement. The store will support free and paid apps, as well as in-app payments.
The Windows Store will be the exclusive way for consumers to get Metro-style apps and for developers to sell such programs, I’m told. (Businesses will be able to create and distribute internal Metro-style apps for employees.) Traditional-style desktop apps will continue to be sold in the same ways they have been, though developers can create a landing page in the Windows store for such programs.
Built-in antivirus software
Windows has had antimalware built in for some time, and has offered free downloadable antivirus software for a while now. However, with Windows 8, the antivirus component is built into the operating system as well. The company does promise that the security program, Windows Defender, will play nice and take a back seat if a user installs third-party antivirus software.
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