You’re probably saying to yourself, “didn’t Skype just get a Windows 8-friendly refresh?” Why yes, yes it did. But Skype 6.0 here isn’t limited to Windows RT slates, instead it’s designed for more traditional Windows systems and even has a similarly numbered OS X counter part. There’s a number of notable changes here, including the ability to sign in directly with your Facebook or Microsoft account. (If you’ve got a Live Messenger, Hotmail or Outlook.com account, then you’ve got a Microsoft account.) The most visible changes, however, will be the “flattened” Don’t-call-it-Metro-friendly UI on Windows and the addition of Retina display support on OS X. There’s a few other minor changes, including some additional localizations, which you can read about at the source. And heck, since you’re already there, might as well download Skype too.
This has gotta be uncomfortable for the iPad. Now, Windows 8 tablet developers — or anyone, for that matter — can test their apps and play with the Microsoft’s Metro interface from within the confines of Apple’s ubiquitous tablet. The functionality is made possible by Splashtop, which is known for its remote desktop apps that are currently available for Android and iOS. It seems that a good amount of effort went into this application, known as the Win8 Metro Testbed, which offers the same swipe capabilities that will be available on a native system. This includes the ability to swipe from the left to switch apps, swipe from the right to reveal the Charms menu, and pull down from the top to close an application. Splashtop’s Win8 Metro Testbed is currently available for a promotional $24.99 in the iTunes App Store, whereafter it will sell for $49.99. You’ll find the full PR and a quick video tour of the app’s functionality after the break.
We all know that Windows 8 will have a split personality, with a Windows 7 style “Classic” desktop environment working hand-in-hand with a finger-friendly Metro UI. Given that Firefox has a significant market share in the PC web browsing market, it’s only natural for Mozilla to accommodate both parts of Microsoft’s new OS. According to its 2012 Strategy & Roadmap, the company has plans for a proof-of-concept Win8 Firefox release in Q2 of this year. In that document, Mozilla reveals that a “simple evolution” of its existing browser will work with the “Classic” environment, but brand new new front-end and integration code is needed for Firefox to play nice with Metro. The plan is to build a Gecko-basedbrowser that brings full Firefox capabilities and can handle Windows 8′s unique requirements like being suspended by the OS when it’s not being viewed and supporting multiple “snap” states to ensure a good browsing experience when multiple apps are open. Looks like Mozilla’s crew of coders has their work cut out for them, and you can peep the full to-do list at the source link below.
Kiss that old “New Xbox Experience” goodbye — the Xbox Dashboard just went full Metro. Microsoft teased the console’s latest overhaul back at E3, promising to “change living room entertainment forever.” The following months saw leaks, previews and betas, all leading up to today, the eve of the Xbox 360′s Fall Dashboard update. Is the new dash the game-changer it hopes to be? Hit the break, and we’ll find out together.
Just as Windows Phone 7′s “touch-only” interface threw away the past to create a streamlined, more approachable experience, Microsoft is creating a “touch-first” experience for Windows 8 that has more in common with its new phone software than previous versions of Windows. This “Metro-style” UI will be able to run on virtually any modern PC, with screens from 10- to 30-inches and above. The touch interface will be only occasionally relevant on desktops, though, more so on laptops. Where it’s obviously meant to shine is on pure slates — will consumers really flock to Windows 8 for such slates, though?
The software and hardware — to say nothing of Microsoft’s cloud services — have come a long way. Let’s give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt and say that the company will create a first-rate tablet experience in the absence of legacy Windows applications. That represents a significant improvement from the state of the Windows tablets as it has existed since the dawn of the Tablet PC. The thinness and longer battery life of both laptops and slates have also improved considerably as well since those days. Particularly with access to ARM processors, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Windows 8 slates match the razor-like profile of the iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab 10.1… or whatever the state-of-the-art is when Windows 8 ships.
We got a taste of Windows 8 back at D9, but the real bounty is waiting in Anaheim. The company’s kicking off its Build conference with a full-on developer preview of its next major desktop operating system, still code-named Windows 8 for the time being. According to Steven Sinofsky — president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft — the company has “reimagined Windows,” bringing about a “new range of capabilities” that coders will begin to dig into sooner rather than later. As we’d seen before, the “Metro-styled” user interface is front-and-center, bringing graphical elements of Windows Phone 7 to desktop, laptop and tablet users of the future. Internet Explorer 10 is also onboard, as well as a focus on “apps” that can communicate with one another, and content that can sync across devices. Folks comfortable in a Win7 environment ought to be right at home here — Win8 is built on the same foundation, though the retooled Task Manager and Windows Explorer should tickle the average fancy.
The Windows Store will enable devs to hawk their apps to any nation where Windows is sold, and yes, support for ARM-based chipsets is proudly included alongside compatibility with x86 devices. In other words, everything from “10-inch tablets to laptops to all-in-ones with 27-inch HD screens” will be able to ingest Win8 with ease. That’s a markedly different take than the folks in Cupertino have expressed, with an (admittedly limiting) mobile OS being chosen to run the tablet side of things. Only time will tell which mantra proves more viable, but we’re guessing the both of ‘em will find varying levels of success. Microsoft has also confirmed backwards compatibility with “devices and programs” that support Windows 7, and while an exact time has yet to be revealed, we’re told that developers will be able to download the Windows Developer Preview via the new Windows Dev Center later this week. Full fact sheets can be seen in the source link below.
Autumn is fast approaching — and you know what that means: it’s round about time for an Xbox Dashboard update. Sure, we got a peek of Microsoft’s upcoming harvest back at E3, but the good folks from Redmond invited us to take a closer look at what they’re calling the “most significant update to the Dashboard since NXE.” Senior project Manager Terry Ferrell was on-site to walk us through an early engineering beta and show us how an updated Metro UI, Bing search and deeper Kinect integration is going to change the way folks manage their entertainment content.
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