What are we calling Windows 8 this week?

What are we calling Windows 8 this week?

Summary: If Microsoft can't settle on consistent naming for Windows 8 and its associated technologies, what hope is there for the rest of us?

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TOPICS: Microsoft, Windows
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I'll admit it — I'm confused now.

It was OK at first. Even when everyone else was confused by them, WinRT, Windows RT, Metro style apps, Metro style and Windows 8 all used to make sense, and I could tell you what each of them was:

  • Windows 8 The x86/64 version of the next release of Windows that can run both familiar desktop apps and the new Metro style apps that are written for the WinRT runtime.
  • Windows RT The ARM version of the next release of Windows that can run the new Metro style apps written for the WinRT runtime and only those desktop apps supplied by Microsoft — such as Office, Explorer, Internet Explorer and a cloud-management client that offers some remote-management features to compensate for the inability of Windows RT machines to join a domain.
  • WinRT The new Windows runtime for apps that can run on x86/64 or ARM devices and can be written in C#, C++ or HTML5/CSS/JavaScript.
  • Metro style apps The annoyingly-unhyphenated Microsoft term for WinRT apps.
  • Metro style The clean, minimum-chrome, authentically digital, typography-first design language and principles that evolved from Zune to Windows Phone and the Zune Windows software to Xbox to Windows 8 to Windows Server 2012 to Office 2013. Unlike Metro style apps, a program that uses Metro style could be an x86/64 program running on the Windows desktop, or even a web page. The new Azure interface and the Windows Server 2012 Server Manager tool have the Metro style.
  • Modern The somewhat presumptuous theme for the Windows 8 reimagining. The Metro Start screen is the modern shell, WinRT is modern programming, ARM chips are modern processors, Office 2013 is modern Office.

But first Metro style apps started getting called Windows Runtime-based apps on MSDN. Then the new Metro OneNote got called first OneNote MX as a codename and then OneNote for Windows 8. Now the help page explaining when you can and can't get offline access with the new Outlook Web App refers to what I assume are Windows RT devices as Windows 8 tablets — even though there will be Windows RT devices that are lightweight clamshell notebooks with touchscreens and almost every Windows RT tablet will come with an optional keyboard.

I really do think Windows 8 is the best of both worlds. The power of a Core i5 and background compatibility if you need it, the light weight and long battery life of an ARM tablet with smartphone-style apps if you don't, and both giving you Office, Explorer and Internet Explorer on both versions.

I use Windows 8 with a keyboard all day and I'm just as likely to press the Windows button on the keyboard or mouse into the corner for the Charms as I am to swipe my touchscreen, so I really don't buy the whole "bad without a touchscreen" Luddite view. I don't use many Metro apps yet, apart from Wordament, but I'm impressed by OneNote for Windows 8 — whatever you call it.

I'm going to use Windows on a notebook and a tablet and a media PC in the lounge and on a wall screen. But there are obvious differences between the different modes and versions of Windows 8 that need to be explained clearly. This revolving door of terminology isn't helping.

Topics: Microsoft, Windows

Mary Branscombe

About Mary Branscombe

Mary Branscombe is a freelance tech journalist. Mary has been a technology writer for nearly two decades, covering everything from early versions of Windows and Office to the first smartphones, the arrival of the web and most things inbetween.

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28 comments
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  • I would hardly call an ARM chip modern. Nor would I call an intel chip

    modern, but they are more modern than arm chips, and their perf/watt shows it very clearly. arm is fiiiinally coming to the 64bit party, and still trailing intel on nm by about 3 years. Also trailing by several years in multicore/threading. With silvermont/airmont intel will be taking a lot of marketshare from arm on tablet/phone.
    Johnny Vegas
    • ARM

      Well I'm not so sure, ARM is a nice modern instruction set (x86? Not so much). Let's not forget ARM has been targeted at "modern" compute devices (small, battery powered). The 32/64 bit thing wasn't important until recently when people started to build "bigger" devices. If you're after "modernity" then ARM is far more modern than x86.

      Of course, that doesn't mean it's necessarily the right choice over your Xeon... ;-)
      jeremychappell
      • Maybe but the shortcomings of an instruction set ...

        ... can easily be overcome with an efficient compiler. Keep in mind that ARM processors running iOS or Android have to do a lot less work than they would if they had to run Windows or MacOSX.

        How many MFLOPS can ARM perform per watt compared to Intel? Don't want to use that measure? How about machine cycles per second?
        M Wagner
  • Good someone is using it and then writing articles

    This is objective writing
    ninjacut
  • Much ado about nothing

    I read the article again and again, and it doesn't seem like they changed the name of Windows 8 at any point from before. Windows RT for ARM, Windows 8 for Intel/AMD.

    And the OneNote codename is likely irrelevant, since it'll likely release as... OneNote.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • The official name, according to Microsoft

      OneNote for Windows 8 (that's for the Metro style WinRT OneNote that will also run on Windows RT).
      mary.branscombe
      • That's simple enough

        But it begs the question....

        who uses OneNote?
        Michael Alan Goff
        • School teachers

          A lot of school teachers at the school I do IT support for use OneNote. They find it handy to have different notebooks for different classes they teach. They use it for everything from marking the roll to using a tablet PC to "write" on the notebook with a stylus, to projecting notes onto a projector and annotating as they go along.

          I have no use for it personally, but it's a well utilised program by some people.
          swanny246
        • I'm a huge OneNote fan!

          It's extremely useful for collecting and organising information; I call it the Office team's best-kept secret.
          mary.branscombe
          • Then maybe you can tell me

            what makes it better than EverNote. :P
            Michael Alan Goff
          • OneNote vs Evernote

            It depends on what you want to do, and to a certain extent there's a data gravity effect; once you have a lot of data in one tool, there has to be a major advantage to moving. I've used OneNote and Evernote since they both came out and I did like Evernote's original endless roll of paper metaphor, and it has added many of the tools I use in OneNote. The thing that swayed it for me was that on the mobile platforms I use, the Evernote client doesn't cache notes offline; if I make a note of the radio stations I like in California, I don't want to have to use data to look that up on the same phone I originally made the note one. OneNote ALWAYS caches locally and it syncs well; I have a lot of notebooks on a server and I just open them on any notebook I use and get local sync, I have others in SkyDrive and I can open them on any PC, on iPhone/Android/iPad/Windows Phone or on the Web. Two people can work in the same OneNote at the same time; Simon & I collaborate extensively in OneNote including writing these blogs - changes appear live, tagged by an author name if you want. I tag interesting information with custom tags. I write a lot of notes and OneNote has background recognition so I can search my ink without converting it. I print into OneNote from any application, and I use Send To OneNote from IE or copy and paste from other browsers & documents or the snipping tool, all of which tell me where the information was copied from. I can record audio. I can link a note page to a document or Outlook meeting, take notes and have a link to the original document or meeting details. I can copy the text out of a picture as soon as I paste it into a note page. Over time, Evernote has added more of this like the trunk but I've been using a lot of that since 2003 and more since 2007. I like Evernote (the product and the company) and I use it from time to time, but there's always some OneNote feature I rely on.

            Hope that helps!
            mary.branscombe
          • That actually helps a lot

            But I recently discovered that they haven't expanded OneNote to the Mac, so I guess that lowers my choices. >_>

            Oh well, soon!
            Michael Alan Goff
          • Had it not been such a secret

            The original MS Tablet PC platform might have had some success. OneNote with a stylus is a great tool for note-takers. I know my daughter did 4 years of Engineering school and keep *all* of her note in OneNote.

            I'm expecting the Surface Pro to be the ultimate note-takers platform.
            Flydog57
  • failure

    another so called tech journalist fail
    thekman58
  • tech journalist

    my ass
    thekman58
  • This is a new low for ZDnet

    Nowhere in that article did you address any changing of the name... because there was none. Windows 8 and Windows RT have stayed consistent.
    dsa791
    • Cool yer jets

      You missed the point. The article isn't criticism, and there is no need to defend the hive. What she's writing about is something that happens in all big companies, which is that no one is enforcing any sort of nomenclature discipline, with the result that every little fiefdom makes up its own little twists and turns. These make their way into printed documentation that all look to the outside world like Official Microsoft Policy. Except there is no policy, there are just people trying to help by making up new and wonderful terms.

      Microsoft is big enough that there really ought to be a Terminology Czar somewhere in the marketing department who makes sure that if the OneNote guys name their product "OneNote for Windows 8," that the Word guys don't call theirs "Word 8" or "Word 2012" that's in "Office 2013".
      Robert Hahn
      • Two new versions of OneNote

        There are two new versions of OneNote.

        1. Onenote 2013 which runes on the desktop, and is installed along with the other Office programs.

        2. Then there is the "OneNote MX" (Metro eXperience) that can only be installed via Windows Store. This version is the one that really is new, and actually just fantastic. Try it out!
        reidar76
        • MX becomes Windows 8

          That's the version with the name that got me going ;-) The radial menu, the clean interface - great. Calling it OneNote for Windows 8 (the official name - MX is the codename for the preview) versus OneNote 2013 (for Windows 7 & 8 desktop) - confusing even the OneNote fans!
          mary.branscombe
  • How about ...

    ... SCHIZO.
    First you're in METRO ... then you're on the desktop.
    jacksonjohn