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Windows 8 is nearing release, and with it, we're prompted with more and more news about it, but that's good, right? The latest out of the gate is that the upcoming OS from Redmond is booting... too fast? Yes, too fast. Everyone wants quicker boot times, and Windows 8 definitely delivers in that way.
But, there are problems with an OS that boots too quickly, that if you need to enter the setup menu by pressing F2/F8 during the boot, there's next to no time to tap those keys. What did Microsoft do? Well, they can't just hold the OS boot time back, that would be crazy, so they've had to add some new features to the OS to make it easier to get to these menus.
If you have a machine with a solid-state drive installed, you can boot into a machine in around 7 seconds, and this will only decrease as hardware gets faster over time. In a test machine at Microsoft sporting an SSD and UEFI system, the time window to tap F8 is 200 milliseconds, yes, 200 milliseconds. In the case where you can't boot into Windows, Windows 8 will automatically enter automatic failover behavior which is determined by an algorithm that establishes a baseline over several boots.
Microsoft are putting up more than one way to get to the boot menu options for when it's needed and for the most part, the average user won't even need to use any of these options. But for enthusiasts, and users who love to tinker, this is something that should put you at ease: Microsoft is thinking of you, too.
Microsoft have just announced that starting today, you'll be required to have Windows Phone 7.5 on phones to download, buy, update, or review apps in Marketplace. This change applies to both the phone and web Marketplace storefronts.
While this seems like a strange move, remember that most phones are already running Windows Phone 7.5, and most phones can be upgraded to the latest version if they're stuck on a previous version of the operating system.
If you're running an older version of Windows Phone and try to access the Marketplace, you'll be prompted with an error message when you try to download a new app, or update an app that's already on your device. If you do get the error, all you need to do is install the free Windows Phone 7.5 upgrade.
You can find more information, and a step-by-step instruction guide on Update Central.
Windows 8 arrives later this year, and we're already getting some huge numbers from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on predictions of sales. In a speech to the Seoul Digital Forum in South Korea, Ballmer has said that up to 500 million users will be on a Windows 8-based device by the end of 2013. Ballmer added:
It's really, in some senses, a dawning of the rebirth of MS Windows... It's certainly the most important piece of work we've done.
Ballmer also teased that Microsoft will "soon" launch a version of Skype for Windows 8. This could be part of, or arrive close to the Release Preview of Windows 8, which is expected sometime in teh first week of June. Ballmer also talked about cloud computing, predicting that in a few years, there'll only be a few companies that will dominate that industry, he continues:
The number of core (cloud) platforms, around which software developers will do their innovation, is not ever-broadening. It's really a quite smaller and focused number -- Windows, various forms of Linux, the Apple ecosystem.
Since this is an enthusiast site, I imagine a majority of the readers are running multiple monitor setups. If you are, I'm sure you're aware of some of the difficulties associated with such a setup on previous versions of Windows. Well, Windows 8 isn't just receiving a touch screen UI upgrade; it's also receiving tweaks for multiple monitor setups.
There are several different tweaks that Microsoft is making in the upcoming Windows 8. One of the more minor tweaks is that you will now be able to put different backgrounds onto different monitors as seen in the picture above. Additionally, it will be possible to span a single panoramic picture across multiple monitors.
Microsoft has also improved the slideshow function to take advantage of multiple monitors. This is an especially important feature for users who have monitors in different orientations. Some pictures are more suited for a portrait or landscape monitor, so Microsoft has added a piece of logic code to show images on monitors to which they are better suited.
A further option, one that I am particularly excited about, is the addition of the task bar options. The task bar will be visible on all monitors, if the user desires. Additionally, users can select where they would like application icons to show up. Users have the option to show the task bar icon on the main bar, the bar on the monitor where the window is open, or both.
The latest developer build of Apple's upcoming OS X Mountain Lion dropped last week, and has shown off some iOS-like automatic app downloads to Mac App Store purchases.
Like on the iPhone and iPad, when you buy and install an app on one of your Macs, all of your other Macs logged into the same App Store account will automatically install the app too.
Unfortunately, the feature does not seem to be working completely. While the App Store will still offer to enable automatic downloads (as seen above), it does not actually install anything when you purchase apps from another computer.
This is something that just makes using a computer... easier. Not everyone lives on the bleeding edge of app updates, and not all apps auto-update. Hopefully we see something from Microsoft along these lines with Windows 8. But, then there's the case of what if an app was working perfectly before the update, and starts having issues after? Auto-updates are a double-edged sword.
Sony have revealed some great information for Sony tablet owners, that all Sony-branded tablets in all regions will receive over-the-air updates to Android 4.0 by the end of May.
Sony had previously announced the coming updates for their tablets, but only their latest models, and now this news have confirmed it. Sony's Tablet S has received Android 4.0 ICS, but only in the US. Europe, Japan and everywhere else has been on Android 3.2.1. The ICS update for the Tablet S brings panoramic camera mode, an updated gallery viewer with SD card access, and browser enhancements.
Tablet S and Tablet P will receive the update on May 24.
When Aero Glass first arrived with Windows Vista, people were finally impressed with the sleek look of a Microsoft operating system. Windows 7 polished it up a bit, and pushed it even more, but it seems like Microsoft are ready to throw Aero out when Windows 8 arrives.
Microsoft has "moved beyond" the design, and are looking forward to embrace an approach that feels "clean and crisp". Microsoft's development blog has some great thoughts and information on the move, where they say that by "flattening surfaces, removing reflections and scaling back distracting gradients", Windows 8 will provide a simplified experience over its flashier predecessors:
We applied the principles of "clean and crisp" when updating window and taskbar chrome. Gone are the glass and reflections. We squared off the edges of windows and the taskbar. We removed all the glows and gradients found on buttons within the chrome. We made the appearance of windows crisper by removing unnecessary shadows and transparency. The default window chrome is white, creating an airy and premium look. The taskbar continues to blend into the desktop wallpaper, but appears less complicated overall.
Microsoft is getting their hands dirty with Windows 8, and one of the things they're tweaking at the moment is the way the next-gen operating system manages multi-monitor setups, starting with the next major release of their OS.
Mark Yalovsky, a lead program manager on the User Experience team, had gone into detail explaining some of the features that have already been baked into the Consumer Preview, such as taskbar options for multiple displays, and some that will change like the ability to launch Metro apps on any display - but this post has been taken down.
Microsoft have collected data through the Windows Feedback Program, which points to 14-percent of desktop PCs and approximately 5-percent of laptop PCs sporting multiple monitors. Microsoft have taken this information, and made multi-monitor support better in Windows 8. They have set themselves a few goals: make the desktop a more personal experience, improve the efficiency of accessing apps across monitors, improve the efficiency of accessing system UI, and allow side-by-side Metro style and desktop apps.
LG have just today announced the Optimus UI 3.0 for Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) devices the company sells. The new user interface is an enhanced Quick Memo feature which allows users to use their finger to quickly take notes.
Quick Memo information also has the ability of sharing through to social networks, or sent as a text message, or e-mail. The update, according to LG, will make it "faster, simpler, and more convenient" for its Optimus owners to get work done on the handset.
Optimus UI 3.0 also includes a Voice Shutter feature, allowing users to take photos with voice commands, an icon customizer for changing how certain application icons look, and finally, a Download category for additional organization options. LG should release Optimus UI 3.0 with the LG Optimus LTE II which launches this week in Korea. The software will then find its next target, the LG Optimus 4X HD in June.
Apple have just rolled out a new update to their next-gen OS, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. The developer preview has been pushed up to build 12A206j. This update replaces the current build 12A193i, which was released a little over two weeks ago.
Apple notes that "MacBookPro3,1", which links up to mid-to-late 2007 models, is not compatible with the new build of Mountain Lion, but will be fixed in later builds of the OS. There aren't many other details about the update, or what improvements it has made. But it seems Apple are baking in some final tweaks for developers leading up to their Worldwide Developers Conference next month.
The company is expected to provide extensive previews of Mountain Lion at the conference, with the public release scheduled for "late summer".