Leaked Windows 8 slides propose greater differentiation among PC brands

Leaked Windows 8 slides propose greater differentiation among PC brands

Summary: Microsoft Windows 8 is today’s hot topic because of the leaking of what appears to be a set of presentation slides aimed at helping the major PC manufacturers to develop their next ranges of machines. The slides from Ecosystem Forum II (April 13-15) have already been picked up and discussed by Windows Kitchen.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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Microsoft Windows 8 is today’s hot topic because of the leaking of what appears to be a set of presentation slides aimed at helping the major PC manufacturers to develop their next ranges of machines. The slides from Ecosystem Forum II (April 13-15) have already been picked up and discussed by Windows Kitchen.

It must be stressed that these are, as one slide says, discussion topics, “not a commitment”. Also, there are more ideas than there is time to implement in a product that will hit beta next year. The fact that something is mentioned in a discussion does not mean it will actually be in Windows 8.

The other thing to remember is that the development of Microsoft Windows never stops. There are plenty of long-term goals for things like security, virtualisation and threading, and those developments will be integrated into Windows when they’re ready. Microsoft is also working continuously to improve boot, sleep and wake-up times, and improve “natural” user interfaces such as touch and speech. However, much of the stuff aimed at PC manufacturers has more to do with surface variations such as branding, which I’ll cover later.

Some of the features suggested for Windows 8 systems (including touch-based slates or tablet PCs) are built-in face recognition for user account switching, and automatically adjusting screen brightness to match the ambient lighting. These address some of the more obvious limitations of Apple’s iPad, though Apple could well fix them before Windows 8 appears.

For more powerful machines, Microsoft suggests support for “Stereoscopic 3D”, which includes both integral and separate screens, such as TV sets. It looks as though the “play to” feature of Windows 7 -- where you can play media on one device and consume it on another -- will be extended. Today, many PCs can play Blu-ray movies, and a few can play 3D movies, but these capabilities could become standard options in Windows 8.

One useful idea is a push-button reset that will enable consumers to restore Windows 8 after they have messed it up. This differs from the current “reset to factory condition” in that it retains personal files, applications, and settings.

One of the more surprising suggestions is for a Windows app store that includes some sort of cloud-based functionality (“My apps and settings follow me,” says the slide). This will enable developers to target a global audience with “flexible licensing and monetization” and create “sustainable post-sale revenue” for channel partners, say the slides. Presumably this builds on something like Xbox Live, where Microsoft has already demonstrated that you can start a game on an Xbox then continue it on a mobile phone or a PC, picking up where you left off.

Apps will be reviewed before they are offered for sale.

Finally, Microsoft is looking for ways to enable PC manufacturers to vary Windows with their own user interface enhancements and themes, either to cater for specific types of device (Windows does everything from 5 inch to 40 inch screens, from netbooks to supercomputers) or just for their own branding purposes. The idea is to help manufacturers differentiate their products, so that an HP doesn’t look like an Acer, and to differentiate high-priced machines from cheap ones.

There’s no doubt that “emerging markets” will dominate the industry in 2012-15, with China being the biggest single PC market. Price competition is therefore going to be tougher than ever. However, in the richer Western markets, there are plenty of people willing to pay over the odds for something that looks pretty and has better branding.

Microsoft is well aware that its direct customers -- the ones who buy hundreds of millions of copies of Windows a year -- are PC manufacturers. With Windows 8, it is looking for ways to help them diversify into new, differentiated product lines on which they can earn better margins, and then, through apps and add-on sales, derive long-term revenues.

Topic: Tech Industry

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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19 comments
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  • It certainly will be interesting to see how much new thought leadership on threading MS tries to push out via the MSDN with regard to Windows 8 - one would imagine they would talk more volubly about the company's connections/partnerships with microprocessor manufacturers on this level - although that doesn't appear to be a particularly strong theme for them so far.

    AdrianB
    Adrian Bridgwater-3dc6b
  • It amazes me how far Microsoft apologists and fanbois will go in their blind support, and how far removed from the real world their opinions and statements are. Here are only two example from the above rubbish.

    "There are plenty of long-term goals for things like security" - Long term indeed. Very, very, very long term, obviously.

    "will enable consumers to restore Windows 8 after they have messed it up" - ah, those pesky consumers, always "messing up" Microsoft's wonderful operating system, No mention of Microsoft's monstrosity "messing up" itself, on a regular basis...

    Rubbish. Pure Rubbish.

    jw
    j.a.watson@...
  • @J.A. Watson

    > "There are plenty of long-term goals for things like security" -
    > Long term indeed. Very, very, very long term, obviously.

    Fact: Microsoft is investing a lot of money in its long term goal of better security. This started with the Trustworthy Computing Initiative and a lot of staff retraining. Fact: the security of Microsoft's coding has demonstrably improved since then, as evidenced by the lower number of vulnerabilities in more recent software. Fact: Windows 7 has a much stronger and more sophisticated security design than Windows XP.

    Not sure why anyone should be so childishly abusive and insulting about someoen stating the truth: that Microsoft is making a long-term investment in security. Nothing happening in your school playground, Watson?

    > "will enable consumers to restore Windows 8 after they have messed it up"
    > - ah, those pesky consumers, always "messing up" Microsoft's wonderful operating
    > system, No mention of Microsoft's monstrosity "messing up" itself, on a regular basis...

    Fact: consumers do sometimes mess up their Windows installations. Fact: consumers do use the ability to go back to the factory condition. Fact: this can lead to loss of data. Fact: Windows 8 may include a reset that maintains data and settings. Opinion: Your comment is fatuous, self-indulgent time-wasting rubbish and adds nothing of interest or value.
    Jack Schofield
  • Here's a thought; How about not forcing the consumer to buy a copy of windows on a branded computer? I spend my money, it should be my choice of OS's. That's why I build my own. @Jack "Fact: consumers do sometimes mess up their Windows installations." True, but more often it is windows that hangs, or reboots automatically.
    ator1940
  • Since RTM I can't think of a single problem I've had with Win 7 that hasn't been a driver or an app; just as add-ins cause the majority of browser crashes for at least IE and Firefox, I think badly written apps and actual malware are the main culprits for mainstream users who have problems with Windows. And for mainstream, non-expert users I think a pre-installed OS is a better solution.

    But mostly I'm chuckling about the fact that slides that appear to have come from a source at HP talk about working on the Dell+Windows experience ;-)
    M
    Simon Bisson and Mary Branscombe
  • I agree that the UAC model of Windows 7/Vista is a huge improvement over XP. Finally, users are forced to run with regular rights, then escalate as necessary in separate processes. GNU/Linux and even earlier versions of Unix have already been doing this for decades, although only within the past few years has it become seamless within the Gnome desktop environment (before this, users needed to manually su to root, then perform tasks there). I think the biggest win for UAC I think will be for home users, who were always used to running as an administrator on their machines with XP. Corporate environments (I hope) have already been running with restricted rights, allowing the IT staff to perform admin tasks for the end users.

    However I still think it's a little early to make claims that more recent software has fewer vulnerabilities. A majority of the security updates that are released each month still affect XP, Vista, 7 all at the same time, so the counts are still fairly close among these three operating systems.
    Chris_Clay
  • "and to differentiate high-priced machines from cheap ones."

    "However, in the richer Western markets, there are plenty of people willing to pay over the odds for something that looks pretty and has better branding."

    Overall I think this is a bad idea, because this is going inject a class based system into the overall market far greater than previously seen, this is the end to unification or universality OS experience for the end users throughout that line, thus making it more complicated/costly than necessary.

    More cake anybody?
    CA-aba1d
  • @ator1940
    > Here's a thought; How about not forcing the consumer to buy a copy of windows
    > on a branded computer? I spend my money, it should be my choice of OS's.

    You're not forced: there are Linux computers around, if you look for them. (Also Macs: you can't buy a Mac without being forced to buy Mac OSX.) Netbooks used to be 100% Linux, although these failed in the marketplace.

    If you really think there's an untapped market for PCs without Windows, you or a billion other people could easily set up a company to supply them. Just pick whichever distro you think you can sell, and also support without going broke. Easy, really.... ;-)

    > I still think it's a little early to make claims that more recent software has fewer
    > vulnerabilities. A majority of the security updates that are released each month
    > still affect XP, Vista, 7 all at the same time, so the counts are still fairly close
    > among these three operating systems.

    Not really. Number of critical vulnerabilities has been dramatically reduced in Microsoft software (eg IIS, or Vista v XP), to the point where most of the Top 10 attacks on Windows are now on Adobe, Real and Apple code. But we agree that UAC does increase security.
    Jack Schofield
  • @CA
    > Overall I think this is a bad idea, because this is going inject a class based
    > system into the overall market far greater than previously seen, this is the
    > end to unification or universality OS experience for the end users

    There's already a class system where a very small number of rich people buy high-priced Macs. There are a few Windows PC suppliers who would like to compete more strongly in that market by having more distinctive PCs.

    Personally, I hate branding, but Microsoft can't make PC manufacturers ship Windows either correctly installed or without vast amounts of crapware or without wholly different front ends because the US Justice Department won't let them. The best we can hope for is that they make the branding (unlike the crapware) easy to remove.
    Jack Schofield
  • My point is its sounds like ms and their partners are wanting to charge by the functionality of the next OS range's paired with the appropriate hardware's, thus wanting to increase the functionality gap between most expensive hardware/software combinations and the lower end hardware/software's combinations.

    This might just lead to a compatibility divide between cheap & expensive OS/hardware combinations, amongst the windows user base, it sounds like microsoft are taking a bite out of the forbidden fruit which will probably leave many of us with the bitter taste of lime.
    CA-aba1d
  • This may affect the open source industry also with regards to how future hardware will be manufactured and bought & sold, no change on the apple front though as they are already away with the fairy's.
    CA-aba1d
  • @CA
    > This might just lead to a compatibility divide between cheap &
    > expensive OS/hardware combinations,

    I don't think so: this is about bundling and branding rather than application compatibility. Otherwise there are already different versions of Windows 7 (from Starter to Ultimate, plus Server) and they are more compatible today than when there was a gulf between DOS-based and NT-based versions of Windows.
    Jack Schofield
  • Jack, I have to say your responses to the critical points made about Microsoft do make you look like a bit of an apologist for them.

    FACT: Windows Vista is probably the worst operating system ever released on the unsuspecting public.

    Those of us that work in IT are very well aware that a large number of issues are caused by people messing things up. But that should not be used as a cover for the appalling product development record that Microsoft has that if applied in alomost any other industry would have seen them out of business a long time ago. They get away with it purely because of their near monopoly position, which thank god is now come under pressure.

    Let's have some balance - yes windows has improved but over a very long period of time and with a corresponding massive improvement in computing power, which if we are honest has not been truly reflected in the performance of windows, regardless of how many extra bells and whistles are added.
    derekdexdexter
  • JA Watson - I think the 'i' in fanbois implies Apple weirdos.
    HipposRule
  • Why don't Microsoft give up on VMS (i.e. Windows NT onwards) & follow Apple's sensible lead by making Windows a front-end to Unix? It would solve a lot of their security issues, as VMS never envisaged a world where everyone had access to the Internet. While Apple machines cost the Earth, their total cost of ownership is less than Windows systems because of all the hassles you don't have.
    Prof-Ken
  • "Not really. Number of critical vulnerabilities has been dramatically reduced in Microsoft software (eg IIS, or Vista v XP), to the point where most of the Top 10 attacks on Windows are now on Adobe, Real and Apple code."

    That is factually incorrect. Microsoft has been reaching record numbers of vulnerabilities for several months this year. In fact, the most recent batch in June 2010 was one of those record months:

    http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2010/06/09/241501/Microsofts-June-security-update-equals-record-number-of.htm

    Most months in 2010 have had a high number of vulnerabilities. Only one month this year (I believe it was April) had just a couple of updates. I took a look in WSUS and I see vulnerabilities ranging for various products from Microsoft, although most are for IE (versions 6,7,8) + Microsoft Office and Windows XP, Vista, and 7.
    Chris_Clay
  • @derekdexdexter
    > FACT: Windows Vista is probably the worst operating system ever
    > released on the unsuspecting public.

    No, it wasn't. It certainly had problems, which were not all Microsoft's fault, but it also had a lot of improvements that have been retained in Windows 7. There were earlier versions of Windows that were worse than Vista. Some versions of Mac OS have been pretty dire, as was the first shipping Amiga OS. I'm sure there are plenty of more obscure exampes, too.

    I don't think any knowledgeable person would claim that Windows Server 2008 was a bad operating system, but of course, it is built from the same code base as Vista.

    My apologies for telling the truth. I appreciate it's not as popular as bashing Microsoft.
    Jack Schofield
  • Another huge wave of Windows updates for August 2010, setting records again:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20100806/tc_nf/74633

    From this article, August 2010 patches include fixes for the following Microsoft products: "Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and 2008, and Windows Server 2008 release 2. Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 will also be patched. "
    Chris_Clay
  • These topic could be fantastic.Windows 8 really emphasized the usage and how it is being used and these will lead into more well-developed and progressive software.I am pretty sure that everybody will like this much!Thanks for this post.
    windows 8