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One thing that really irks me with Windows (and even OS X) is updating and the requirement of restarting. I've never understood how operating systems have come this far with everything happening behind the scenes, yet it requires user intervention to do simple things like "when would you like to restart, I've just done updates, come on!".
Microsoft are working on this for Windows 8, which will see Windows Update consolidate all the restarts in a month, synchronizing with the monthly security release. This means that your PC will only restart when security updates are installed and actually require a restart. Security updates are released in a single batch on the second Tuesday of every month, where this will keep the system secure, in a timely manner, reduces restarts and makes restarts more predictable.
My, my, how time has flown by. I still remember triple-booting my PC with Windows 98SE, Windows 2K and Windows XP, how has ten years gone by? Microsoft include the infographic below, which is not only cool, but it shows just how long ago 2001 was with all of the old technology (or lack thereof).
For example, in 2001 we have in-person meetings, now we have video conferencing. Working at the office, can now be done anywhere (such as me posting this news out to the world, I can do so in my boxer shorts and you wouldn't even know it - begin dreams, now). Chat rooms have been swapped for social networking, dial-up for broadband/Wi-Fi, and hard drives for "the cloud".
Linux Kernel version 3.1 has popped its head up and offers support for a range of technologies such as Intel's Ivy Bridge and Cedar Trail chips, NFC and drivers for Wiimotes. It also has improved power management. It's available to download right now, but of course you may want to wait for the distro of your choice for an official update or release.
Its own summary sums it up quite well:
Support for the OpenRISC opensource CPU, performance improvements to the writeback throttling, some speedups in the slab allocator, a new iSCSI implementation, support for Near-Field Communication chips used to enable mobile payments, bad block management in the generic software RAID layer, a new "cpupowerutils" userspace utility for power management, filesystem barriers enabled by default in Ext3, Wii Controller support and new drivers and many small improvements.
In a new posting on Microsoft's MSDN Blog pages we can get a better idea of how the search function available in the start menu will work, and it is indeed quite different to what we're used to with the likes of Windows 7.
While the start search in Windows 8 takes up a lot more space, it is a lot easier (and quicker) to make use of when it comes to looking for a program, file(s), or settings windows. As there will inevitably be a ton of apps included with Windows 8, which would only grow a lot more once all the 3rd party stuff starts getting installed, Microsoft has made the decision to split the search feature into three sections.
One section will focus solely on all the apps and programs installed; another will be dedicated to listing settings and Control Panel items, while the third will display files and gives a range of filters to trim down the search.
Right from the get go Windows 7 was looking strong out the gate and allowed Microsoft to take a quick U-turn away from the rocky road they travelled down with Vista, but it's been Windows XP that has retained the biggest impact in the OS world for MS all this time.
However, if the latest consolidation of data from StatCounter is accurate, the first half of this October has seen Windows 7 actually overtake XP in becoming the primary operating system of choice worldwide. The data was collected from over 3 million sites in total and it was discovered that Windows 7 now has a market share of over 40%, which is up from 39.04% last month.
Windows XP is still going super strong, though, with a 38.62% market share. Meanwhile, Vista continues to dwindle in third place at a far distant 11.18% market share. Trailing behind Vista in fourth is Apple with Mac OS X at 7.3%, then in fifth sits iOS at 1.1%.
With Windows 7 now making it into pole position as the leading OS of choice, it's not hard to believe that it will remain in that position for quite a long time; especially due to Windows 8 still being a ways off and needing to prove itself as the OS of choice well after its release.
Windows 8's UI has undergone some changes as Microsoft received a bunch of feedback due to its developer preview of the upcoming OS last month, where they pledged to respond with a number of changes. Firstly, the app displayed within the Windows 8 App Screen can now be organised into groups, rather than the alphabetical arrangements (as shown in the image below).
Apps can now be displayed at a higher density, which means cramming more content into the same space. Enterprise users will have the ability to customize their companies' Start screens and unify them across the networks, which is pretty darn cool if you ask me. There's still no word on whether administrators have the ability to opt out of Windows 8's Metro Ui tile-based interface, in favor of the "old-school", Windows 7-esque Desktop app, which is a highly requested feature.
There are many changes Microsoft are baking into Windows 8 and its great to see them so open with their users and implementing them so quickly. Take a look at the Building Windows 8 blog for an absolutely mammoth read, its very detailed and very awesome.
Microsoft have set the goal of reducing the overall runtime memory requirements of the core system, this is a benefit to everyone and will allow people to run more and more apps, or many apps simultaneously on systems with only 1 or 2GB of RAM. Microsoft are wanting to reduce Windows 8's memory footprint as it will be pumping away on SoC-based devices which will have not only limited specs compared to a full blown desktop, but they also have batteries that don't last forever.
As Microsoft say "If an OS uses a lot of memory, it can force device manufacturers to include more physical RAM. The more RAM you have on board, the more power it uses, the less battery life you get. Having additional RAM on a tablet device can, in some instances, shave days off the amount of time the tablet can sit on your coffee table looking off but staying fresh and up to date." This is very true, so reducing the memory footprint is a very, very important move.
Wishing you could retain more of a Windows 7 oriented look with your install of Microsoft's Windows 8 developer release? You'd certainly be one of many who just can't get used to the vastly different interface at this stage, in which case you'll be impressed to know there is now a way to get more of a Windows 7 look from Windows 8 thanks to the "Metro UI Tweaker" from The Windows Club.
Using this tweaking tool (after first installing .NET Framework 3.5.1), disabling the Metro start menu and Explorer Ribbon is just the start of what it can do. Other tweaks on tap include :-
1 Disable Metro Start menu: Disables only Metro Start menu screen. This function requires editing a system file. It does not remove the file
2 Disable Metro Ribbon: Disables only the Metro Ribbon UI. It requires taking ownership of a system file. It does not remove this file
3 Disable Metro Start menu and Ribbon: Disables the Metro Start menu UI, Ribbon UI, Metro Task Manager UI and the lock screen
4 Enable Metro Start menu and Ribbon: Re-enables all available Metro UI options
5 Add power options to the Metro Start menu screen: Logoff, Switch User, Lock, Sleep, Restart and Shutdown
6 Add any application/file to the Metro UI Start menu screen: Some applications/files may not be available to you to add to the Metro Start menu screen. This program allows you to add those applications/files which would otherwise be unavailable
I'm sure you dear readers don't like the old-school, 80s style boot-up sequence that has plagued Windows since, well, forever. This is all set to change with the old BIOS system being replaced by a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) which gives users a high-resolution logo and graphical menu to look at whilst booting up their PCs. Not only does it look pretty, but the menu will allow booting to a different disc, OS or USB drive with pictures and words as prompts.
The command prompt will still be there if you would like to get your black and white, text thrashing on. For everyone else, they get the super-pretty, super-fast boot up sequences we've all been dreaming of for a very, very long time. Microsoft will continue to support the legacy BIOS interface, but systems using the UEFI interface will have "significantly richer capabilities". Other nifty things built-in is ease of use for performing troubleshooting in Windows RE.
Microsoft's BUILD conference in Seattle is well underway and every tech site in the world has been throwing news up like there's no tomorrow, so instead of rewording the news, I'll provide some links and some thoughts on Windows 8. Windows 8 has not only myself excited, but most of the tech-related community. It seems like an utter overhaul of the Windows UI as we know it, with a smash-up of the Windows Phone tile-based UI and something new.
"Something new" is what seems like a million new ideas and features built-in to Windows 8. The major changes are [of course] the UI, but Windows 8 brings performance increases, a new lock screen, an entirely new home screen, a new task manager, cloud-syncing and so many others things it's hard to tell you a handful. Instead of this, check out a bunch of screenshots, videos and links to preview thoughts below.
If you want to try it out, download the developer preview here.