Microsoft announces Windows 8 and offers up the consumer preview

windows 8After much ado, Microsoft finally officially announced Windows 8 at its Mobile World Congress press conference this morning. Windows 8 has become increasingly important to Microsoft, a sort of reperations to address the consumer complaints and flaws of past operating system releases. Now the consumer preview download is available, and you can expect to find a whole new beast in Windows 8.

The term the team tossed around most at the announcement was “fast and fluid” – two things even the most ardent Windows lovers might not be quick to call the platform. But Windows 8 is all about change and Microsoft is not shying away from making big moves here. President of Microsoft’s Windows Division, Steve Sinofsky, said Windows 8 represents a “generational change,” and that the last update of this significance was Windows 95 – which if you do your math correctly was 16 years ago.

As can be expected, Microsoft offered a thorough look at how Windows 8 will translate between screens, unifying its tablet, laptop, and desktop presence. This means touchscreen or not, consumers will finally be able to find the same experience regardless of device, a division that’s previously plagued Windows users and kept Microsoft from seriously competing in the new wave of electronics flooding the market. Now your usage will move from screen to screen with you so you have a sort of permanence across devices: Microsoft showed how bookmarks, pins, apps, everything moves with you from your phone to your tablet to your laptop to your desktop.

A big introduction and something that Microsoft has been mentioning for awhile is Charms. These are essentially icons that make it quicker and easier to get around Windows 8. Swiping from the right edge of a device, or moving your mouse to the upper right hand corner, reveals these Charms and their basic tasks – like Start, Share, Search, and Settings. Really, they’re just shortcuts,  but they are easily identified and quick to get to.

Windows 8 is also bringing apps to your devices via the Windows Store – all of which Microsoft announced will be free for the Consumer Preview. So download away.

In the meantime, a few other things worth mentioning from today’s press conference:

  • Goodbye CTRL+ALT+DELETE. Windows 8 will get rid of the all too familiar login key code. Now you’ll just have to hit “Enter.”
  • Windows to home. Hitting the Windows icon key will now take you to your home screen.
  • Marrying inputs. Windows 8 is essentially Microsoft’s first attempts to address how we use multiple electronics. Thankfully it’s not entirely isolating traditionalists and going all touch. You can use touch, a mouse, and a keyboard all at once if you like, something demoed during the press conference.
  • Universal search. Microsoft has showed us this before, most recently at CES. Anything you search for brings up everything about it: video, Web, document results – you name it.
  • SoCs. Microsoft announced Windows 8 will run on four SoCs: the Nvidia Tegra 3, the Qualcomm Snapdragon, the Texas Instruments OMAP, and the Intel Cloverfield. All apps are chip independent, so they will work on ARM or x86 – developers can use the same code.
  • Rebirth of the Surface? Microsoft also brought out an 82-inch, Gorilla Glass Microsoft Surface running Windows 7 and claimed that up to 10 people could use it at the same time.

[Image via]


Sweet 16: Wacom’s Cintiq 16 pen display makes retouching photos a breeze

Wacom’s Cintiq pen displays are usually reserved for the pros (or wealthy enthusiasts), but the new Cintiq 16 brings screen and stylus editing to an approachable price. Does it cut too much to get there?
Product Review

You won't buy Microsoft's Surface Hub 2S, but it could still change your life

The Microsoft Surface Hub 2S wants to change the way you collaborate at work. That’s a lofty goal most devices fail to achieve, but the unique Hub 2S could be an exception. And trust us – you’re going to want it.

MacOS update may include external display support for iPads

Apple's upcoming MacOS is rumored to include a new native external display support feature. Code-named "Sidecar" the new feature is expected to allow MacOS computers to send app windows to external displays like iPads.

Skype screen sharing for mobile will let you share your swipes on dating apps

Skype is prepping the launch of screen sharing for mobile so you can share your swipes on dating apps, shop with buddies, or, perhaps, show a PowerPoint presentation to coworkers. It's in beta just now, but anyone can try it.

Kick off your streaming career with our complete guide to Twitch broadcasting

Streaming games on Twitch for the first time can be daunting to say the least, but with a few simple steps, it's remarkably easy to do. Here's how to do so using a PC, Mac, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4 console.

Google Chrome will get a Reader Mode for distraction-free desktop browsing

If Google's testing of Reader Mode on the Chrome Canary desktop browser is successful, soon all Chrome users will gain access to this feature. Reader Mode strips away irrelevant content on a webpage for distraction-free browsing.

Former student uses USB Killer device to fry $58,000 worth of college’s PCs

A former student used a USB Killer device to short circuit more than $58,000 of computers at a private New York college earlier this year. The student pled guilty to the charges and sentencing is scheduled to begin in August.

AMD Ryzen CPU prices get slashed ahead of Ryzen 3000 release

AMD's Ryzen CPUs have had their prices slashed as we edge towards the release of their third generation. Whether you're a gamer or someone who needs multi-threaded performance, there's a deal for everyone with some heavy discounts to take…

The number pad on HP’s Chromebook 15 makes spreadsheet work a breeze

HP's Chromebook 15 comes with a 15.6-inch display, a metal keyboard deck with full-size keys, and a dedicated number pad, making it the second Chromebook model, following Acer's Chromebook 715, to be suited for spreadsheet work.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.

Here's how you can download the best free music players for your Mac

Tired of your Mac's default music player? Take a look at our picks for the best free music players available for your Apple rig. Whether you're a casual listener or an audiophile, you're sure to find something that fits your needs here.

Want to make calls across the internet for less? Try these great VOIP services

Voice over IP services are getting more and more popular, but there are still a few that stand above the pack. In this guide, we'll give you a few options for the best VOIP services for home and business users.

Transform into the ultimate leader with our tips and tricks for Civilization 6

Civilization VI offers both series veterans and total newcomers a lot to chew on from the get-go. Here are some essential starting tips to help you master the game's many intricacies.