20 Feb 2012

Windows 8 Consumer Preview and the Windows Store

If you have not heard by now there are some new details regarding Windows 8 and Windows 8 on ARM (known as WOA).  It was announced that the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 will be given out during the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona on February 29th.  It seems likely that the rest of us will see a download for it, shortly afterwards, as Microsoft had previously stated it would be released the end of February.

This release will have several Metro-styled apps such as Camera, Messaging, Mail, Skydrive, Photos, People and Music along with possible support for SMS in the Messaging app.

In addition the Windows Store is coming and in a test phase, meaning there will only be free apps during the testing period.  Be sure to check out the screenshots at the end of the article.

Windows on ARM (WOA) and Office 15

The biggest announcement was that Windows on ARM will in fact have a desktop mode, but only to run an integrated version of Office 15.  In their Blog, Microsoft stated:

"Windows on ARM, or WOA, is a new member of the Windows family that builds on the foundation of Windows, has a very high degree of commonality and very significant shared code with Windows 8”

This is very similar to the previous rumor that Windows 8 Phone (Apollo) would essentially have the Windows 8 Kernel/shared codebase, which appears to have some validity to it afterall.

Metro-style apps in the Windows Store will be able to support both WOA and Windows 8 on x86 and x64, Metro being universal to all Windows 8 platforms.  If a developer has an app that isn't a Metro app, they will have to re-write the app to be Metro styled for Arm.

Microsoft also stated:

"WOA is designed so that customers focused on Metro-style apps don’t need to spend time in the desktop. Some have suggested we might remove the desktop from WOA in an effort to be pure, to break from the past, or to be more simplistic or expeditious in our approach.”

Though in this case, from everything that can be understood by reading their blog, it would seem its only going to have the desktop mode to support Office 15.

Microsoft goes on to state that there will be "no compromising" that people will be able to have the same experience of Office on either a Tablet or a portable device.  This alone seems to indicate that the design of Office 15 is geared in such a way that when a person is using a Tablet, the interface will adapt per that platform, versus a smaller format or a desktop format, basically on-the-fly UI changes.

Virtualization Support, No not on ARM

They made it clear that there will be no virtualization support with ARM in this statement:

"Previously we have detailed that WOA will not support any type of virtualization or emulation approach, and will not enable existing x86/64 applications to be ported or run. Supporting various forms of emulation runs counter to the goal of delivering a product that takes a modern approach to system reliability and predictability—by definition, existing code has not been optimized for the platform the way WOA has. Virtualized or emulated software will consume system resources, including battery life and CPU, at unacceptable levels. Emulation and virtualization of existing x86/64 software also require the traditional PC environment of mouse and keyboard, which is not a good assumption for WOA PCs."

Move along, Nothing to see here

So with ARM and WOA there will be no backwards compatibility.  This is good news in a way, as in the past Microsoft has featured compatible operating systems year after year.  Compatibility comes with a price.  Sure it can be a good thing for many but in terms of moving forward and doing more innovative designs to the operating system, its a hindrance in a way.  Now all speculation can end and all eyes can turn towards Microsoft to see what the future will hold for this arena.

One would expect that the codebase with Windows 8 Consumer Preview to be complete, or that it should be, meaning we may see the RTM version of Windows by the end of the year.

Below are some screen shots from the video on the blog:


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