Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week

Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week

Summary: Microsoft trickled out a few new tidbits about Windows 8 during CES this week, in spite of not yet having beta bits to deliver.


Microsoft execs made a conscious decision (months ago, I hear) against making this week's Consumer Electronics Show a place to share key new Windows 8 bits or tidbits. That doesn't mean, however, that the Softies didn't discuss or debut any new Windows 8 features.

While CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote was almost entirely void of any new Windows 8 information, the Windows 8 brass did allow team members to demonstrate some relatively minor new things in Las Vegas. In the Microsoft booth on the show floor, Microsoft officials showed off Build No. 8175 -- considered by many company watchers to be a pre-beta build -- of Windows 8. (The actual beta build is due to go to the public by late February.)

While a few of the PC OEMs at the show, such as Lenovo and Kupa, talked up what they've got coming specifically for Windows 8, most of them predictably stressed that new ultrabooks, laptops and tablets that ship in the next few months will work great with Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Meanwhile, if you're still waiting for word as to what's coming on the Windows 8 ARM front, CES didn't deliver any answers at all this week. As far as I know, there was no new information shared (at least publicly) about features, dates, beta plans or anything else revealed about that version of Windows 8 this week. ASUS execs said publicly that they are expecting to have their first Windows 8 ARM tablet on store shelves before the end of calendar 2012, leading me to believe Microsoft's goal still is to release all versions of Windows 8 simultaneously, most likely this fall. But no Microsoft execs will go on the record saying that.

In spite of the information drought, there were a few trickles of new information on Windows 8 on Intel. Here's my best attempt to list of the new Windows 8-related technologies CES attendees saw this week -- courtesy of videos and blog posts from Neowin, The Verge and others covering the show remotely:

(If you want to see exactly what the Softies were demoing publicly regarding Windows 8 for all CES attendees -- and not just select members of the press -- Neowin has posted two videos from the Microsoft booth.)

In addition to the Windows 8 on ARM build, here are other new Windows 8 features that weren't shown publicly this week, but could (should?) be part of the Windows 8 beta:

Speaking of the .Net Framework and its Win32/WinRT cousins, there's been next-to-no new information from Microsoft for developers wrestling with trying to write apps for Windows 8 beyond the videos and some limited documentation that the company delivered around the time of last fall's Build conference. There's a new independent Web site dedicated to tracking WinRT-related articles and tweets, known as WinRTppl, that may be handy for those looking for the latest developer info around Windows 8.

There's still no word as to whether Microsoft is planning to hold some kind of Windows 8-specific developer conference this year. It's increasingly apparent there will be no Microsoft Mix show this spring, and there's no word as to whether Microsoft is planning to hold another Build conference in 2012.

Anyone hear/see other interesting Windows 8 information -- of potential interest to users and/or developers -- this week?

Topics: Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Microsoft Calendar


    Your passing comment on Microsoft Calendar made me stop and realize how much I have taken Google Calendar for granted. I have been a Gmail user from the start (but use Outlook all the time at home). Do the Google, Yahoo, and Hotmail calendars all pretty much work the same, or is one superior to the others.
    • Calendar

      Hi. I am not the best person to ask, as I don't use Google or Yahoo calendars. Sorry. I use Outlook's calendaring the most of any... MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week

        @Mary Jo Foley the best way to install windows 8 is here:
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week

        That build is MONTHS old.
    • I use outlook at work

      @techvet and Google at home, and for the most part I would have to say a Calendar is a Calendar, just like E-mail is E-mail. There really isn't anything that distinguishes them aside from layout and color scheme.
    • RE: Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week


      You know it won't work well with Google or Yahoo Calendars. Just like how Outlook 2010 really doesn't play well with Google Calendars. MS will want to promote Windows Live or whatever they are calling it these days.
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week

        @itguy10 - Interesting. In what way does Outlook not play nicely with Google/Yahoo calendars?
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week

        Yeah, that's a nice slant on things. Of course it's Outlook's fault as it is made by Microsoft. Perhaps they did it on purpose.
      • bitcrazed, didn't you hear


        at itguy10's work they tried using Outlook 2010 to link to Google Calendars, and it took their entire company down, and uploaded all the company's technical secrets to the internet once the onsight MS developers got them back online!
        William Farrel
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week

        @itguy10 "In what way does Outlook not play nicely with Google/Yahoo calendars? "

        Google calendar has a "busy/free" system, while Outlook adds other choices such as "tentative" and "Out of Office." This doesn't translate well to Google Calendar.

        Also, I've had issues with event duplication.
    • RE: Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week

      You can be sure that the Google Calendar will be the most efficient at spying on you. Yahoo's profitability (or lack thereof) clearly demonstrates the fact that they have not got the hang of profiling their users to sell more advertising. And Microsoft makes $billions selling Windows and Office, so do not depend on spying to make a living. Using Gmail and GCalendar guarantees your privacy is broken.
  • ZDnet comment system blows

    x I'm tc
  • RE: Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week

    I sync to outlook from gmail for tasks, calendar, mail, contacts with the gSyncit plugin which works great. Gmail is a great backend for all that stuff if you can get it to sync.
  • "Windows 8 will...preclude users from having to...close apps"

    Ugh. If multitasking is anything like the debacle on Windows Phone, please count me out.

    Love Metro. Love where Windows 8's interface is headed. [i]Hate[/i] the idea of an app-store only operating system (good-bye, PC!) and hate the sound of a desktop OS acting anything like my phone.
    x I'm tc
    • RE: Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week

      @jdakula -- the multitasking and app-store-only modes of Windows 8 represent Microsoft finally putting reliability and stability first. Just wait a bit, and you'll see how well this first version of the new paradigm covers its old functionality bases with "Desktop Mode," while emphasizing the new Metro mode to ensure that it gets the attention from software companies that such a historical improvement deserves.
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week


        Metro mode stinks on ice at the moment and personally, I never had any problems with reliability and stability from regular Windows apps ever.

        Very few crashes and almost never one (only 2 unexpected in 10 years) that bluescreened the entire system.

        In fact, I've had more problems with my graphics chip getting too hot and locking up my main computer than with Windows itself.
    • If it's anything like the way Apple is doing it with Lion

      (and if past history is any guide, it probably is), then it will be like suffering death from a thousand papercuts.
    • RE: Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week

      @jdakula <br>How is it different from iPhone or iPad? All it does on them is shut the app your using down and gives you a choice of opening another.
  • RE: Microsoft's Windows 8: What we learned this week

    .Net 3.5 is supported in the Dev Preview. It's just not installed by default and based on their current strategy it will not be in the future. If you do not need it it is over head. If you need it install it. On my dev preview I have 3.5 Framework, Office 2010, Chrome, Firefox, Skype, and a few other apps. All work fine.
    • .Net 3.5

      Interesting. So I wonder why they said no .Net 3.5 in Dev Preview... MJ
      Mary Jo Foley