15 Feb 2012

Microsoft has its heart set on Metro as being the next big thing.  If you want to find out how to submit your Metro-style apps to the Windows Store, there are posts and now a video explaining this process.  The basic gist is that there will be roughly a six-day turnaround for signing and publishing a title, with content compliance being the longest factor, as it involves real people.  There will be a Store developer portal where developers are encouraged to visit prior to the first line of code.  Visual Studio will have a link to the Store portal, taking you to an overview page outlining the app submission process. 

The video below outlines some of this, including the very first goal, of naming your app so no one else comes up with your unique calculator app clone.

Source:  Microsoft, Engadget(Video)

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31 Jan 2012

Recently, questions have been arising as to whether or not Microsoft is really listening to user feedback regarding Windows 8 development.  If perhaps they have gone the direction of Apple and are just giving consumers what Microsoft thinks consumers want, rather than letting feedback drive the direction.  At least with file management, they seemed to have listened.

One area in particular, is the controversial Windows Explorer Ribbon.  It will now be minimized by default.

There are improvements in cut, copy, paste, rename and delete commands as well as improvements with file collisions and a new look and feel for Windows Explorer.

For instance, if you try to copy a file, it will let you filter out files of the same name, size and time.  Windows will no longer ask you to replace a file if it’s the same on both source and destination.

There are synchronization of key settings and options from one PC to another via Windows Live now possible.

You can also get details on private files quicker.  There is no longer an icon overlay to tell the difference between a private file and regular one.  Now instead, there is a column that tells you if the file is shared, not shared, or private.

Lastly, they have added the ability to pin favorite folders to the Start screen on the Metro interface.  There is also a favorite option for folders.

So at least with file management, there has been some response to feedback.  Frankly, I think Microsoft should have just spent some time, for instance, using the Xplorer2 interface and done the good old Apple technique of "taking something and improving it".  The main point here, is that the Windows Explorer interface is clunky and in need of many enhancements as it already stood.

Time will tell if other areas result in changes as well, particularly the Metro interface as a whole, which has caused quite a stir.  Some argue that the Metro interface really only has its place on consumer tablets, not desktops.  Then there is the question regarding whether the Windows 8 experience should be different on business devices and for that matter, why Microsoft doesn’t use just one SKU for everything, as Apple does.  As we get deeper into the Windows 8 beta, some of these answers will start to become clearer.

Source:  MSDN Blog

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18 Jan 2012

Windows 8 Server will feature a new file system, built from the ground up called “Resilient File System” or ReFS.  NTFS has been the gold standard for years, now ReFS expands on NTFS using it as the foundation.  By using NTFS’ API and semantics engine, it should maintain compatibility with NTFS features.

ReFS will have a new storage engine that should protect against latent disk errors, resist data corruption, uphold metadata integrity, have large volume, file and directory size support and have the ability for shared storage pools across machines for additional fault tolerance and balancing.

Windows Server 8 appears to be the main pilot program for ReFS initially.  Some other notes include the fact that Windows 8 Server, currently will not boot a ReFS partition, its meant more as a storage volume.  Microsoft does note that Windows 7 will have the ability to read a ReFS volume.  ReFS also doesn't support second level caching/hybrid storage using SSD is another thing that many may find disappointing as well, at least in this first iteration of the file system.  This approach of introducing a new file system is how Microsoft has done things in the past and with ReFS its long term goal is to replace NTFS, however NTFS won't be gone any time soon.

See this link if you want more on the gritty details.

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05 Jan 2012


Windows 8 will have a feature called Reset and Refresh, users can restore Windows to a clean state without install media or 3rd party recovery partitions, similar to what tablets, smartphones and other appliances use.

This ability can be found in Control panel, through the pre-boot windows recovery environment or through a bootable USB drive (which is created via a special tool).

There is a quick and thorough option.  The thorough will wipe it on a deeper level by writing random data to each sector (currently only 3rd party tools can perform such feats).

A command-line tool called recimg.exe can define which state their PC will be reset.  The tool will capture custom images that include any installed apps and drives.  Hence, recipients of OEM PC’s that have their PC full of bloatware can easily uninstall anything they don’t want and make a new image.

The option to refresh is the light weight option, it just tries to preserve more of your programs, data and settings, however… Only Metro apps will be preserved and reinstalled.  Standard Windows programs will still have to be reinstalled manually.  Since Metro apps are a Microsoft entity, this will ensure there isn’t malware or so this is the current line of thought.

In the event you don’t want certain settings restored, that were causing problems originally, the system will only preserve wireless and cellular network connections, Bitlocker settings, drive letter assignments and personalized themes.

It has been claimed that the Developer Preview Build takes around 8 minutes and 22 seconds in one example for the refresh while the quick reset took around 6 minutes and 12 seconds and the thorough took 23 minutes and 52 seconds.  In this test, it was done on a 64GB SSD drive, this is hardly a standard hard drive for most users, so most will experience longer times.

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15 Nov 2011

Microsoft is stating that Windows 8 will have fewer annoying restarts after windows updates occur via their new update feature.  It will consolidate all restarts for the month to coordinate with the usual Patch Tuesday, meaning any updates that need a restart will simply wait until the second Tuesday of the the month, prompting you to restart once a month, with the exception of critical updates.

They will have an update notification system letting you know of any upcoming restarts, visible via a Windows 8 log-in screen and remain there for 3 days, instead of nagging you like the default ones currently do.  After the three day period, it will display a reminder but only if the PC is locked or there are no running applications/open files or if you are in the middle of a game or similar activity, these notifications will be hidden and less intrusive.

So for those of us hoping they would re-tool the under-workings of how locked files and processes are handled by Windows 8, making restarts obsolete, we will have to wait a bit longer (yet again).  However, these changes in Windows 8 should make the process less of a burden, though Windows 7 users already know of the hacks available to make things less intrusive with the existing operating system.

Source: Microsoft

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