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Microsoft have confirmed that a near-final "release preview" of Windows 8 is expected to drop in early-June, says Windows unit president Steven Sinofsky, where he made the announcement at at Windows Developer Days event held in Japan earlier this week.
This should mean the release could arrive at the time of Computex, which would be a perfectly timed show off period for the Redmond-based company. All eyes will be on the releases as they hit as Microsoft push Windows in a new direction.
Windows 8 should be quite the all-in for Microsoft, as they're not only trying to keep desktop-based customers happy, but notebooks, newly-arrived Ultrabooks, and then tablets and smartphones. Microsoft want to combat Apple's iPad, but right now have nothing to even compete with. Windows 8 will change all of this.
On top of the OS being able to run on traditional x86-based processors, it'll work on low-powered ARM-based solutions, too.
Apple are today seeding registered members of the Mac Developer Program the latest, third developer preview of OS X Mountain Lion. The new version is Build 12A178q, which is up from the previous 12A154q version.
There are various changes baked in which have yet to be discovered, but the lucky ones with access to the Developer Preview will surely swim through the sea of changes to find out just how Mountain Lion ticks, or roars. Apple has a list of known issues with the latest build:
Microsoft Evangelist Nuno Silva was involved in a video interview that has been posted by Portugese site Zwame, where it's been suggested that ALL Windows Phone devices, even those from the first-generation will get an upgrade to the next-gen OS.
Outside of this interview, Microsoft have barely whispered about the future of Windows Phone, whether its even in development or not. It's believed that Windows Phone 8/Apollo could break the mould on how Windows Phone 7 behaves. There could be enough code compatibility with the desktop that its apps could run on Windows 8 with minimal porting. Wouldn't that be nice?
Of course, we should expect new features in the next-gen OS that would require next-gen hardware. But the underlying OS should work on lower-end devices, but would most likely include restrictions. Apple does this on their devices with iOS versions, same with Google's Android OS.
We all know Windows 8 is baking very nicely in Microsoft's ovens right now, and they're just some more information surface now in the form of the editions we should expect. Microsoft are going to release Windows 8 in three editions: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 RT.
The differences? Well, the first two edition's are for x86-based systems, both in 32- and 64-bit. Windows 8 will be the OS for most people, as it includes most of the features you need, plus an updated Windows Explorer, Task Manager, better multi-monitor support as well as the ability to switch languages on the fly, which was previously an exclusive feature to the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows.
Next up is Windows 8 Pro, which is designed for tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals. It includes all of the features of Windows 8 as well as encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity. Windows Media Center is now considered an economical "media pack" add-on for Windows 8 Pro. Finally, we have Windows 8 RT. This is the newest member of the Windows family, which is something Microsoft have been calling Windows on Arm, or WOA.
Google's Chrome OS has been in development for quite a while now, and has since late-2010 had the same system interface, until now. The latest developer version of the operating system sports a major redesign in its UI, and it is not only looking great, it's looking more and more like Windows, which isn't a bad thing.
The first thing people are going to do with Chrome is think "is it Windows?" and once they realise its not, they're going to attempt to use it. If they've never used the Chrome browser before, it'll feel very alien, much like OS X does the first time you use it after using Windows for X amount of years. Chrome OS now looks like a traditional OS, with a full-blown desktop and window manager instead of just a browser and tabs.
Chrome's next-generation use interface framework, known as "Aura", makes its public debut with the new developer version of Chrome OS. This is a huge change, as previous iterations of Chrome OS were just an operating system, within a browser that very closely resembled Google's popular web browser. This is a great move, something that I applaud Google for doing. You can sometimes think outside of the square, but sometimes floating outside of that square makes you think you require a triangle to be 'better' or 'evolved', a simplistic UI will go a long way to ensure that Chrome OS is a serious contender for the OS wars to come.
Microsoft to drop Windows Vista, Office 2007 mainstream support, XP's head arrives on the chopping block in two years time
We all knew this day was coming, mainstream support for Windows Vista will end on April 10 with Office 2007 receiving the same fate today. Windows XP and Office 2003 will enjoy another two years before being cut.
Microsoft divides its support lifecycle in two stages: "Mainstream" and "Extended". Within Mainstream, software receives the full range of free security updates, stability improvements, bug fixes, and occasional new features. Within the Extended phase, only security updates are made available, though companies with paid support contracts can receive other fixes.
Currently, Windows XP and Office 2003 are in their "Extended" support phase, which ends in 2014. Once this hits, they'll cease receiving even security updates, leaving anyone still running that software open to whatever malware the Internet throws upon them. Windows Vista and Office 2007 will be in Extended support from now until April 2017.
Samsung's GALAXY Note may have kicked arse in ad campaigns, beating out Doritos and M&Ms, and its reward may just be Ice Cream Sandwich. No really, thanks to Samsung and RootzWiki, you can now enjoy ICS on your 5.3-inch GALAXY Note smartphone.
RootzWiki have intensely tested the ROM before releasing it, so that the user ends up with a great experience rather than a slightly beautiful paperweight. RootzWiki's internal build tester provided them with the following rundown of working features:
- Face Unlock is fully functional
- LTE connections are solid and up to speed
- Phone calls work great both ways
- Audio quality is up to par
- Stereo Bluetooth is fully functional
- MMS is fully functional
- GPS is fully functional
- Google Talk and Video Chat work
- Google Voice is fully functional
- Task Manager is smooth and transitions are quick
- Downloaded Flash video and in-browser video works flawlessly
- Chrome autosync is fully functional
- AT&T Hotspot functionality works, external devices connect fine
Google have posted up their latest Android version distribution numbers, for the 14-day period ending on April 2, 2012. The numbers are quite interesting for Android 4.x Ice Cream Sandwich, where we can see the adoption rate rise from March 5th's 1.6-percent to 2.9-percent, now.
ICS was at just 0.6-percent on January 4, and had only risen 0.4-percent by February, and only rose 1-percent in March. To compare against Apple, iOS has a 75-percent adoption rate, with the latest iOS 5.1 at 61-percent last week. Will this adoption rate continue over the coming months? Yes and no. Some handset makers are pushing updates over-the-air (OTA), and some are not. Most Android consumers probably aren't even fully aware of Ice Cream Sandwich, where people with Apple devices tend to get OTA updates or buy new Apple products every 1-2 years.
Google's Gingerbread OS is still powering through with its numbers, with a majority of Android-based devices sporting the OS with a very hefty 63.7-percent market share. You can see on the above picture Android 4.0.3 is peeking up toward the end, but still it doesn't even begin to compare with Android 2.3.3.
Over the weekend Sony detailed their Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update plans for their Xperia lineup of smartphones, where we should see the ICS updates rolling out to no less than 11 Xperia handsets by mid-June. The update will be pushed out to some phones in mid-April, with these phones being the Xperia Arc S, Xperia Neo V, and Xperia Ray.
The late-May, early-June should see ICS-based updates for Xperia Arc, Play, Neo, Mini, Mini Pro, Pro, Active, and the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman as well. There is a problem with these updates though, is that none of them will be over-the-air (OTA), and will require that owners of these handsets who want to upgrade have to tether their handsets.
This is because Sony wants users to make a "conscious and informed decision to upgrade". All this means is that while Sony are pushing out ICS updates for 11 handsets, those who don't know about ICS will have to wait until Sony push them OTA, if they even bother doing so. I would expect a notification from Sony saying "your phone is compatible for an update, if you would like to do so, visit this site", and that site explains what ICS is, and how you upgrade.
Sporting a HSPA+ Samsung GALAXY Nexus (i9250) or an UMTS/GSM Nexus S (i9020), well, you might want to check System Update for a brand new update that Google took to Google+ to announce: Android 4.0.4.
Android 4.0.4 is also rolling out to the Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi, which is a bonus. At the moment, the Android 4.0.4 update isn't going to arrive on the CDMA-based versions of the phones, not yet anyway. What about Verizon GALAXY Nexus' phones, or Sprint's Nexus S 4G? No word on that yet either.
If you've gone one of the above phones, we suggest you update. Ice Cream Sandwich is beautiful and if you have a smart device capable of being updated to it, you should do it.