Ten watchwords for Microsoft's Windows 8 conference

Ten watchwords for Microsoft's Windows 8 conference

Summary: Microsoft's Build conference is going to be full of Windows 8 terms and technologies. Here are 10 of the related codenames and features about which I'm hoping to hear more next week.


Microsoft's Build developers conference, kicking off on September 13, is just days away. For the past year-plus, there have been various leaks, hacks, forum posts, blog entries and even a couple of public peeks of Microsoft's next version of Windows. But next week is the official "big reveal."

What will I be watching for at next week's confab -- beyond the obvious things, like showings of Windows 8 on ARM and more on how Microsoft's existing development tools and technologies fit into the Windows 8 picture?

Here are ten terms I'm hoping to hear more about at Build. Some of these are codenames; others are working feature names. On my short list:

AppX: A new type of packaged application model in Windows 8 that is believed to closely resemble Windows Phone 7 application packages. If Windows 8 supports the AppX model, Windows Phone applications should (in theory) work on Windows 8. And the Windows 8 app store should look, feel and operate like the Windows Phone Marketplace (if the two are not one in the same). The "Modern Reader" unearthed by Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera in an early leaked Win8 build is an example of an AppX application.

Jupiter: A new app model/ user interface (UI) library for Windows, built alongside Windows 8. The original plan was for Jupiter to be a thin XAML/UI layer on top of Windows application programming interfaces and frameworks for subsystems like graphics, text and input. I'll be watching to see if Jupiter manages to hang on to make its public debut and how closely it resembles the various tidbits I received about it for the past few months.

MinWin: The “guts” of Windows (the kernel, hardware abstraction layer, TCP/IP, file systems, drivers and other core system services). Microsoft included an implementation of MinWin as part of Windows 7, officials acknowledged. But it sounds like MinWin will be more prominent in Windows 8, and could potentially play a role in Microsoft's client virtualization strategy, as Windows expert Sandro Villinger reaffirmed earlier this year.

Modern: Seems to be Microsoft's preferred way of referring to new applications that will be custom-built to take advantage of the Windows 8 tile-based interface. "Immersive" seems to be (from what I can tell) a synonym for "modern," in Microsoft's new classification system. Modern apps must adhere to the Windows 8 AppX packaging model. "Modern Web apps"  are said to be a subset of the "Modern" category and are apps built using Web-dev technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript.

Protogon: Some kind of a new Windows 8 file system or collection of file-system elements, early details about which were publicized by Sandro Villinger. Protogon reportedly incorporates database-like concepts like transactions, cursors, rows and tables and could (some day, in theory, at least) replace or at least emulate the current NTFS built into Windows.

RedHawk: A key piece of a new managed-code execution environment that would be more lightweight and more appealing to developers who have been put off by the perceived overhead of the current Common Language Runtime (CLR) at the heart of the .Net Framework. RH and RHP (RedHawk Project?) mentions have been found in leaked Windows 8 builds. Microsoft execs have said the not said which version of the .Net Framework, if any, will  won't be included in the early Windows 8 test builds (though the older .Net 3.5 will be added to the final product, according to a recent Microsoft blog post).

Silverlight: The Microsoft web-browser plug-in that enables interactive media experiences, line of business applications and Windows Phone development. While we know Microsoft is poised to deliver Silverlight 5, the future of the product once known as WPF/e (Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere) needs to be addressed in a concrete and clear way at Build (after months of murkiness). Can devs build both classic and modern Windows 8 apps with Silverlight? Will apps developed with Silverlight run on both Windows Phone (7 and/or 8) and Windows 8?

Trident: The rendering engine inside Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer 10 will be part of Windows 8 (and a new IE 10 test build is likely to debut next week at Build.) Microsoft's emphasis on developing applications using HTML5, JavaScript and CSS is tied tightly to its increasingly Web-standards-compliant IE browser. And Windows 8's touch-centric functionality is equally tied in with/reliant on IE, as TechRadar explained back in June. The "pin to taskbar" concept pioneered with IE 9 is going to be key to Microsoft's tablet strategy, I've believed for a while now.

Tweet@rama: A TweetDeck-like Twitter client that Microsoft execs used for demo purposes in the June unveiling of Windows 8. Since then, it's become obvious that Tweet@rama isn't just a demo app and is more likely to be a full-fledged Microsoft-developed application or service that will be released in or alongside Windows 8. There's also speculation that Windows 8 will include the same kinds of "Hubs" that are part of the Windows Phone ecosystem; if so, Tweet@rama might be part of a "People" hub with native Twitter integration, like what's provided in the Mango Windows Phone OS.

UEFI: The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), a k a the replacement for the old PC BIOS firmware, is going to be a big topic at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) -- which just so happens to be running concurrently with Build. UEFI is all about faster bootup, more modular design and processor independence ... kind of like Windows 8 is expected to be. Even though ARM is where a lot of the Windows 8 tablet action is expected to be, the Intel market (especially with Intel's newfound Ultrabook push) is still very key to Microsoft's Windows team and its customers/partners. (By the way, if there's a tablet give-away at Build, I'm betting it'll be an Intel-based tablet, not an ARM-based one.)

What did I miss? What's on your watchword list for next week, Microsoft developers?

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, 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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  • A unified platform strategy from Microsoft at BUILD?

    Microsoft is famous for their warring fiefdoms. Windows Phone, Windows and Silverlight are all created by different divisions, each with their own Presidents. It's a small miracle Windows Phone & Silverlight utilize the same platform. If the same apps & app store work across Windows, Windows Phone, and Silverlight it would be a huge victory for app developers & the Microsoft ecosystem. But would also require a significant reorg to have occurred within MSFT hallways. Any sign of this happening?
    • RE: Ten watchwords for Microsoft's Windows 8 conference

      @MobileUser2011 - The Microsoft fiefdoms was far more true of Microsoft pre-Gates' departure than it is today. While, of course, certain aspects of Microsoft's platform are build in different divisions, those divisions have been organized far more sensibly of late and are cooperating far more closely than ever before.

      Evidence for this? Allchin is gone. Valentine is gone. Johnson is gone. Muglia is gone. Matthews is gone. Sinofsky is now chief overlord of Windows and appears to have re-built the Windows org to deliver pretty compelling improvements to Windows on a predictable cadence.

      Windows Phone started again from scratch. Brand new OS. Brand new app platform & app model. Brand new tooling. Brand new ecosystem. Brand new devices. What they've managed to pull off in such a short period of time is impressive. Sure, they've still got a long way to go, but increased collaboration with Windows (WinPhone8 running atop NT kernel?) and with the Windows UI team (WinPhone8 adopting and improving upon Win8's UI?).

      Cutler moved to Azure. As did Russinovich and several others. Guthrue now heads up all of Microsoft's web and cloud dev platform & tools story. MS' cloud story is improving weekly and has a great competitor in Amazon.

      In all I really like what I am seeing in Microsoft today. Can't wait to learn more next week :)
      • RE: Ten watchwords for Microsoft's Windows 8 conference


        I think you are not looking beneath the surface enough. The factions are still there, but Sinofsky controls the information flow. While in some ways this is good, having a unified front makes Microsoft look stronger, this is actually pretty bad. Because of the control of information, we have the bad old days of beta information, where little data gets to many of the small inovative companies, and even worse their feedback never gets to the Microsoft devs. I know Microsoft dev's who were horrified when they finally talked to 3rd party developers at a conference and discovered what they thought was a feature that was really liked, was hated by the real professionals and in many case the feature was being ripped out of 3rd party products.

        Windows 2000, then Windows XP were built by Microsoft in a time of pretty open communication, and were great products. Vista was built on a closed communication model, and now Sinofsky has shutdown what little openess was present at that time.
      • Actually Vista was open


        Actually Windows Vista was developed openly, and the tech media gave it a hard time for every little thing it promised, and didn't deliver - including a new file system. Sinofsky took over the Windows division and came out with Windows 7, being very careful not to promise any new features he was not sure would be in Windows. That management of information worked out well for the company, and has been broadly adopted in MS. Apple does the same thing, is even worse that MS, and has the best product launches in the industry. Openess is great, but when it is structured in such a way, that its costs exceed its benefits, then it becomes undesirable. After the the major features are set, and the code has been made sufficiently stable, that is when MS starts to discuss Windows - in a way that is far more open than Apple, and many other companies.
        P. Douglas
      • RE: Ten watchwords for Microsoft's Windows 8 conference

        @oldsysprog - I think your memory is failing you. Win2000 and XP were developed in a heady rush of enthusiasm by Microsoft but their design process and strategy was never documented nor communicated. Yes, MS offered betas of the new OS releases, but that's just standard Microsoft operating procedures. Everything they build goes through the beta-RC-RTM cycle.

        The problem with Microsoft's pre-Sinofsky era product development is that many features were decided-on by senior management and/or feature owners without necessarily having a comprehensive grasp of what customers actually wanted.

        If you cast your mind back, XP was released to a great deal of disappointment. Even moreso after its security and reliability inadequacies were so brutally revealed. It wasn't until SP2 (which was a major engineering effort) that XP began to gain real traction.

        P. Douglas has it spot-on: Vista was actually a very open development process. Too open, in fact! Vista's first CTP was delivered at the 2005 PDC, and was followed by several more CTP's until Vista was declared "feature complete" in early 2006. The beta came in may, followed by three RC's.

        The problem was that this was "Too Much Information" - features were presented in earlier releases that never made it into the final product and many features that were not announced DID make it into the final product without having sufficient time in developers' hands (e.g. new graphics driver infrastructure).

        Sinofsky has ushered in an entirely different approach wherein they consider the views of many customers, examine the competitive landscape and trawl through masses of high-quality data to focus on delivering features that customers want, need and use. They only announce features that they're pretty sure they can ship to a very high quality level. They communicate a great deal of their thinking, planning, design and implementation processes (a href="http://blogs.msdn.com/e7">Engineering Windows7</a> and <a href="http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8">Building Windows8</a>). And more importantly, they ship very high quality product on time and as promised.
      • RE: Ten watchwords for Microsoft's Windows 8 conference

        @bitcrazed <br><br>"Evidence for this? Allchin is gone."<br><br>Amen. That dude bolted moments before Vista hit a brick wall, only thing... he was driving. Valentine wasn't terrible, just a bit misplaced (read: beyond his own competency, especially with his hands bound) but definitely not a bad guy. The thing with those greater minds jumping up into the cloud... no one but Sinofski is left keeping a firm foothold to the ground. MS put him in a hero/goat scenario after all he did to keep Office relevent. They left him holding the bag, and they damn well better credit him if he pulls it off. He is a positive asset, and his tale, win or lose, will be the legend of Microsoft's outcome.
  • Security?

    Great reporting MJ, thanks. Please be on the look-out for security changes too.

    For example, running vulnerable apps in VMs, reversing out malware changes, improved local and cloud-based backup, keeping EFS encrypted files encrypted when transferring over the network with SMB, smart card enhancements, more Windows features that use the TPM chip in the motherboard, changes planned to take advantage of Intel + McAfee enhancements in the BIOS/motherboard, anti-tracking privacy features in IE10, Security Essentials AV with reputation features integrated into AppLocker.vNext, etc.
    • RE: Ten watchwords for Microsoft's Windows 8 conference

      Good point. Unfortunately you are the only one to mention this issue, which is, in my mind, the most important weakness with Windows architecture...
    • Sorry, everything but secure source code.

      @YukioCowboy ... "Mcafee enhancements?", sorry this looks like another botnet magnet just like it's younger brothers XP and Win7.<br><br>The TDL-4 botnet creators have now become bold. They are offering use of the Windows botnet infected machines to anyone. Payment is accepted from Visa, Mastercard, American Express and PayPal. Also, they created a couple of Firefox ad-ons to facilitate anonymous proxy selections. Conceivably, if you are infected and don't know it, you can pay them to rent your own computer time. Geez, it appears MS should correct this major problem for its EXISTING USERS before promoting new OS's.<br><br>Note: not a word on this from ZDNet even though it is an MBR rootkit botnet and it infected 4.5 million users in the first three months of 2011. I guess they need more than 9 months to figure out how to spin it. Off course, the infected users don't know they are infected, so it's a non-issue for MS and ZDNet.<br><br>From Krebs on Security<br>-- <a href="http://krebsonsecurity.com/2011/09/rent-a-bot-networks-tied-to-tdss-botnet/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://krebsonsecurity.com/2011/09/rent-a-bot-networks-tied-to-tdss-botnet/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://krebsonsecurity.com/2011/09/rent-a-bot-networks-tied-to-tdss-botnet/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://krebsonsecurity.com/2011/09/rent-a-bot-networks-tied-to-tdss-botnet/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://krebsonsecurity.com/2011/09/rent-a-bot-networks-tied-to-tdss-botnet/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://krebsonsecurity.com/2011/09/rent-a-bot-networks-tied-to-tdss-botnet/</a></a></a></a></a>
  • RE: Ten watchwords for Microsoft's Windows 8 conference

    "What?s on your watchword list for next week?"

    For me? Live Framework! Back in 2008 Live Framework was a platform for synchronising data/application state across different machines, was the underpinnings of Live Mesh, and was getting touted as the next big thing. It all went flat around August 2009 but I'm hoping it now gets resurrected in some way shape or form.

    The early tech preview of Live Mesh also included something called Live Desktop which was basically an app hub - I'm hoping that that all gets resurrected in SkyDrive.

    No doubt I'll be disappointed :)

  • .net in windows8

    I thought that new versions of .net (4/4.5) would be included frm the start, but .net 3.5 added later. Anyone else have the same understanding?
    • RE: Ten watchwords for Microsoft's Windows 8 conference


      .NET 4 (or higher) better be part of Windows 8 from the start, otherwise they might as well forget interest from the MS developer community. If MS jettisons .NET for back to the future C++ and web hacking HTML/JS they're going to be jettisoning the enterprise LOB market. It would be the best thing that ever happened to Java.
      Sir Name
    • RE: Ten watchwords for Microsoft's Windows 8 conference

      Ram U
    • .Net in Win8

      Maybe I am reading Sinofsky's blog post incorrectly. He didn't mention any version of .Net being built into the early test builds of Win 8. But, as you and others note, he also DIDN'T say that some version of .Net wouldn't be. I will add that note to my text above. (He also called .Net 3.5 "Dot Net 3.5" for some odd reason, too...) Thanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Maybe...

        @Mary Jo Foley

        He was using speech recognition to type it all out.
      • RE: .NET in Win 8

        There is simply no possible way that .NET 4.0 will not be included in Windows 8. Microsoft would break way too many shipping applications if they did that, and that is one thing the never do.

      • .NET 4.5 in Windows 8

        @Mary Jo Foley As you can see in the latest video on Hyper-V, Windows 8 will come with .NET 4.5.
    • RE: Ten watchwords for Microsoft's Windows 8 conference

      @roarmo That was my understanding too.

      Also Mary-Jo, don't you mean that the IDF is happening concurrently? It seems to be happening on the same days.
      • Thanks for the sanity check

        Yes, that's what I mean. No more late night work on posts for me. THanks! MJ
        Mary Jo Foley
  • RE: Ten watchwords for Microsoft's Windows 8 conference

    Great information in this post. I believe Zdnet is the best blog to get new information for Windows 8.
    I'm saving money so I can buy a Windows 8 desktop and a Windows 8 tablet. I just hope the tablets in Windows 8 can have a battery which lasts more than 10 hours.
    Gabriel Hernandez