Microsoft Build: News from the Windows 8 sessions

Sessions at the Microsoft Build conference are yielding interesting tidbits on the coming Windows 8 store, the Windows To Go feature, WinRT programming interface, security, and Xbox Live support.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft's Build conference is still in full swing at the Anaheim Convention Center. The 5,000-plus developers in attendance are mining the sessions for information on developing for the coming Windows 8 tablets and PCs.

Here are just a few of the interesting bits: Microsoft is sharing more on Windows To Go, its Windows 8 on a USB stick technology. Blogger Manan Kakkar managed to make his way into the packed September 15 session on the topic. (Many were turned away due to the capacity of the room for this one.) With Windows To Go, a user can take the Windows 8 install with files and data stored on a USB 3.0 drive and plug it to any other PC and continue working. Kakkar has a video clip of Windows To Go in action in his blog post on the topic. (Update: It sounds like this feature will work with a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port, but only certain, predesignated USB 3.0 keys.) Microsoft to take a 30 percent cut on Windows Store applications for Windows 8? Metro-style Windows 8 applications must go through Microsoft's malware-check process and will be available for purchase through the Windows Store, as Tom Warren at WinRumors.com noted.

IStartedSomething's Long Zheng reported from a Build session that Microsoft was planning to take a 30 percent cut on applications available in the Windows 8 store. (I had heard from other reporters at the show that Microsoft was not going to take a cut at all -- at least at first -- to help encourage developers to build more Windows 8 apps.) Zheng noted that Microsoft now has pulled references to the 70/30 split, so it's not clear whether that's still the plan. Microsoft is expected to offer phone and Windows 8 PC apps for download from the store, and to provide links to legacy applications in the store, allowing developers to determine their own licensing and pricing policies for those apps. WindowsRT, under the hood: One of the biggest mysteries from this week's big reveal of Windows 8 has been the WinRT (Windows Runtime), an application programming interface for developing and running Metro-centric Windows 8 applications. ITWriting's Tim Anderson. Here's more on WinRT from a seesion on the topic that Anderson attended:

"WinRT is only useable from Metro applications. You cannot call WinRT from a Win32 application, nor vice versa," (for the most part), Anderson explained. "I think it is reasonable to assume that a future version of Windows which runs only WinRT is a possibility; and that Windows 8 on ARM will look a bit like that even though Win32 will still be there, but mainly out of sight; but I am speculating. Does that mean Win32 is now legacy? In a way, but such a huge legacy that for the moment we should think of Windows 8 as two platforms side by side." Windows Defender is back with Windows 8: A number of Microsoft watchers, partners and customers have been wondering how Microsoft is planning to safeguard Windows 8 without making the process intrusive. There are multiple answers, according to a new blog post on the "Building Windows 8" blog. Microsoft is beefing back up its Windows Defender tool and providing it as a built-in solution to those without other antimalware offerings installed. The new Defender "will provide you with real-time detection and protection from malware threats using a file system filter, and will interface with Windows secured boot, another new Window 8 protection feature," the Softies said. There's another layer of security built in, as well: The SmartScreen reputation-based security technology that is built into recent Internet Explorer releases is going to be built right into the operating system.

Microsoft will provide support for certain Xbox Live features on Windows 8 PCs and tablets. Avatars, achievements, roaming saved states -- many of the same Xbox Live capabilities offered on Windows Phones -- will be available on Windows 8, too, WinRumors reported from a session on Xbox Live development for Windows 8. Async multiplayer functionality, being built into Windows 8, "will allow Windows PCs, Windows Phone and Xbox 360 users to play against each other using multiplayer and matchmaking functionality. The support brings a new level of multiplayer gaming to Xbox Live once Windows 8 is available," WinRumors' Tom Warren said.

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