Microsoft Windows 8: What we know so far

microsoft windows 8 what we know so far

We know, we know. You just got over the travesty that was Vista, laid out $200 for Windows 7, reinstalled, and got your desktop back to the way you like it. The last thing you really need right now is a new version of Windows. But with Apple hard at work on a radically revamped OS X Lion that draws upon the success of iOS, Linux getting more refined and user-friendly by the month, and Google cracking away on Chrome OS, Microsoft doesn’t have the luxury of sitting still. To compete, Microsoft will need Windows 8.

And it’s already in the hopper. While Microsoft execs have said very little of Windows 8, also known as vNext, a handful of leaks and small comments have helped shape our impression of the next big splash from Microsoft. While it’s too early in the development cycle to say anything for certain, here’s what we’ve learned so far about Microsoft Windows 8.

Coming in 2012

Must have been too many Heinekens. Amidst the celebration of one successful year for Windows 7, Microsoft’s Dutch website accidentally published a paragraph on Sunday that indicated work on Windows 8 was underway, but about two years out from completion, putting it in in late 2012.

It’s big.

When asked what Microsoft’s “riskiest product bet” was, other than cloud computing, Steve Ballmer confidently belted out, “the next version of Windows.” As it should be. Windows 7 may have effectively bandaged Vista’s bleeding, but it could hardly be considered revolutionary. People want new features –not a working version of old ones. The longer timeline for Windows 8 and relative stability of Windows 7 (Microsoft isn’t rushing to put out any fires this time) should allow the company to incubate a much more drastically updated product.

microsoft windows 8 what we know so far steve ballmer

App store

Steam was just the beginning. The days of trips to the store for software boxes that clutter up your shelves and discs you’ll file away and never look at again have come to a close. Every major mobile operating system – including Windows Phone 7 – has already launched an app store for seamless software purchases, and Apple is now leading the charge on the desktop with an app store for OS X promised in the coming months. According to leaked slides from a presentation shown to hardware vendors in April, Windows 8 will follow suit with the “Windows Store.” Partners like HP may get opportunities to develop their own app stores (“HP Store powered by Windows”) and software licenses will roam with users, allowing you to access your familiar software from more than one machine.

Facial recognition

Although software already exists to log users in and out of a computer with facial recognition, Microsoft intends to “eliminate friction” with the technology by building the capability directly into Windows 8. Potentially, facial recognition on an operating system level could even make it easier to replace other passwords with faces, like allowing you to login to your e-mail, bank and social networks all by simply looking at a camera.

Faster bootup

Even with tweaks that dropped Vista’s molasses-slow boot time to under 60 seconds on many of the PCs we review, Windows 7 remains the stumbling old man of the OS world when it comes to getting ready to go. We still hit the coffee pot in the morning after flipping our PCs on. Meanwhile, standard MacBooks can book in the 25-second range, our SSD-equipped iMac did it in 19, and ultra-light Linux installs, including Chrome OS, reduce that to just a few seconds. Leaked slides indicate that Microsoft will shoot for an “instant on, always connected” experience, with better reliability and performance for the sleep function.

128-bit compatibility

Sometimes hints come from the strangest places. Back in November 2009, when Windows 7 was still just a newborn, a Microsoft engineer updated his LinkedIn profile claiming he was trying to get “IA-128 working backwards with full binary compatibility on the existing IA-64 instructions in the hardware simulation to work for Windows 8 and definitely Windows 9.” Translation: Windows 8 could be the first 128-bit OS, and if not, Windows 9 definitely will be. The slow adoption of 64-bit architectures and lack of any 128-bit processors seems to shed some doubt on it arriving in time for Windows 8, but it does seem likely that Windows 8 could be the first version of Windows to drop 32-bit support entirely.

Web

Firefox Reality wants to bring the ‘whimsical web’ to VR

Mozilla launched a VR-powered web browser today called Firefox Reality. But just what does browsing the web in VR feel like? We went hands-on with this new browser to see how Mozilla imagines the future of virtual reality content.
Computing

Windows handwriting-recognition tool may pose security risk

A Windows file that is designed to help improve the platform's ability to translate your handwritten notes into readable text may be a security concern. One researcher found it contained passwords and email contents.
Computing

The sequel to the Pixelbook is coming. Here's everything we know about it

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Google hasn't even announced it but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.
Computing

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.
Smart Home

Here's how to clean a Keurig in just a few simple steps

No one likes a dirty, scaled, or smelly Keurig, but how are you supposed to clean them? Before you throw yours out the window, here is a quick guide on cleaning your machine out thoroughly.
Computing

A vigilante botnet is taking out crypto-jacking malware

A new botnet is on the rise but it isn't being used to take down websites or hack servers, it's going after crypto-jacking malware. When it discovers the malware on a website, it takes it over before destroying them both.
Computing

We tested Nvidia’s RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti. Are they a worthy upgrade?

We finally have Nvidia's newest graphics cards, the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti, and put them through our standard suite of benchmarks and game tests to see how they performed in a standard play of Battlefield 1 and Fornite. How do they compare to…
Computing

New monitors from Philips are sleek, color-accurate, cost less than $200

Phillips' new E-Series line of monitors bring thin-bezel, color accurate 1080p IPS LED displays to the market in three different sizes without breaking the bank, while also packing in AMD FreeSync technology for gamers.
Computing

Facebook appears set on crafting custom silicon for augmented reality devices

Facebook's latest job postings are seeking engineers and developers for custom augmented reality chipsets, and seem to support speculation that the company is looking to produce AR glasses.
Computing

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 vs. RTX 2080 Ti

Nvidia's RTX 2080 Ti is a beast of a graphics card, packing in RT, Tensor, and CUDA cores to enhance your gaming experience. We'll compare the Ti variant to the standard RTX 2080, and we'll let you know which card to buy.
Computing

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 vs. GTX 1080

Should you upgrade from your GeForce GTX 1080 to the GeForce RTX 2080? Even if you won't take advantage of ray tracing, there are other benefits to the RTX series. We'll examine how each GPU performs to help you decide.
Photography

Not just for photographers anymore, Loupdeck+ now supports Adobe Premiere Pro

Video editors can now get physical with the Loupdeck+ control board. Originally for Lightroom, a software update allows the controls to adapt to video editing, including color grading, clip trimming, and navigating through the timeline.
Computing

PowerDirector, PhotoDirector aim to balance advanced tools with easy editing

CyberLink's latest photo- and video-editing programs fix advanced tools with a simple UI. PowerDirector adds Chroma-Key tools and multicam features, while PhotoDirector gains tethered shooting, an updated layer, and Content-Aware tools.
Computing

Here are all the games that support Nvidia’s RTX ray tracing

These are the upcoming games that support ray tracing rendered on Nvidia's RTX series graphics cards. They aren't many in number at this point, but thanks to the power of ray tracing, they are some of the best looking games ever made.