Download Windows 8 Release Preview (Release Candidate – RC) Build 8400 Official

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 May 2012 01:09 Written by admin Thursday, 31 May 2012 01:09

Microsoft has release the near-final build of Windows 8. Available for download in no less than 14 languages, Windows 8 Release Preview can be grabbed via this link.

 

Since this build is really the Release Candidate of Windows 8, as you might know, the RTM stage is next. RTM stands for release to manufacturing, and it’s both a milestone as well as an entire stage. One it goes gold, or hits RTM, Windows 8 will be shipped to computer manufacturers worldwide to be pre-installed on next generation machines. Microsoft will also start creating DVDs of Windows 8 RTM that will be sold at retail.

 

Our focus from now until RTM is on continuing to maintain a quality level higher than Windows 7 in all the measures we focus on, including reliability over time; security to the core; PC, software, and peripheral compatibility; and resource utilization. We will rely heavily on the telemetry built into the product from setup through usage to inform us of the real world experience over time of the Release Preview. In addition, we carefully monitor our forums for reproducible reports relative to PC, software, and peripheral compatibility. We’ll be looking hard at every aspect of Windows 8 as we complete the work on the product, but we want to highlight the following:

  • Installation – We have significant telemetry in the setup process and also significant logging. Of course, if you can’t set up Windows 8 at all, that is something we are interested in, and the same holds for upgrades from Windows 7. Please note the specifics regarding installation requirements and cautions found on the download page.
  • Security and privacy – Obviously, any vulnerability is a something we would want to address. We will use the same criteria to address these issues as we would for any in-market product.
  • Reliability and responsiveness – We are monitoring the “crash” reports for issues that impact broad sets of people. These could be caused by Windows code, Microsoft or third-party drivers, or third-party apps. Information about crashes streams in “real time” to Microsoft, and we watch it very carefully. We also have a lot of new data coming on the hundreds of new apps in the Windows Store.
  • Device installation and compatibility – When you download a driver from Windows Update or install a driver via a manufacturer’s setup program, we collect data about that download via the Plug and Play (PnP) ID program. We’ve seen millions of unique PnP IDs through the Consumer Preview. We also receive the IDs for devices that failed to locate drivers. We are constantly updating the Plug and Play web service with pointers to information about each device (driver availability, instructions, etc.) We actively monitor the use of the compatibility modes required when the first installation of a Windows 7 based product does not succeed.
  • Software compatibility – Similar to device compatibility, we are also monitoring the installation process for software, and noting programs that do not install successfully. Again, we have the mechanism to help move that forward, and/or introduce compatibility work in the RTM milestone. Here too, we actively monitor the use of compatibility modes required when the first installation of a Windows 7-based product does not succeed. We have tested thousands of complex commercial products from around the world in preparation for the Release Preview.
  • Servicing – We will continue to test the servicing of Windows 8 so everyone should expect updates to be made available via Windows Update. This will include new drivers and updates to Windows 8, some arriving very soon as part of a planned rollout. Test updates will be labeled as such. We might also fix any significant issue with new code. All of this effort serves to validate the servicing pipeline, and to maintain the quality of the Release Preview.
  • New hardware – Perhaps the most important category for potential fixes comes from making sure that we work with all the new hardware being made as we all use build 8400. Our PC manufacturing partners and hardware partners are engineering new PCs, and these include hardware combinations that are new to the market and new to the OS. We’re working together to make sure Windows 8 has great support for these new PCs and hardware.

In fact, as some have noted, the RP itself was compiled over a week ago (build 8400). It takes time to complete the localized builds, validate the download images and process, as well as gear up all along the network edge for a fairly significant download event.

The path to RTM is well defined and critical to the careful and high quality landing of Windows 8 for our PC manufacturing partners. The changes we make to the product from RP to RTM are all carefully considered and deliberate, including some specific feature changes we plan on making to the user experience (as we talked about in previous posts). This is a routine part of the late stages of bringing a complex product like Windows to market. Throughout this process, every change to the code is looked at by many people across development and test, and across many different teams.  We have a lot of engineers changing a very little bit of code.  We often say that shipping a major product means “slowing everything down.”  Right now we’re being very deliberate with every change we make and ensuring our quality is higher than ever as we progress towards RTM. The product is final when it is loaded on new PCs or broadly available for purchase.

RTM itself is a product development phase, rather than a moment in time. We continue to roll out Windows 8 in over 100 different languages and we are preparing final products for different markets around the world. As that process concludes, we are done changing the code and are officially “servicing” Windows 8.  That means any subsequent changes are delivered as fixes (KB articles) or subsequent servicing via Windows Update.  Obviously, our ability to deliver fixes via Windows Update has substantially changed the way we release to manufacturing, and so it is not unreasonable to expect updates soon after the product is complete, as occurred for Windows 7. There are no surprises here, but we’re making sure readers of this blog know what is coming down the road.

Once we have entered the RTM stage, our partners will begin making their final images and manufacturing PCs, and hardware and software vendors will ready their Windows 8 support and new products. We will also begin to manufacture retail boxes for shipment around the world. We will continue to work with our enterprise customers as well, as we ensure availability of the volume license tools and products.

Remember, if you buy a new PC running Windows 7 today, with the great support from our PC partners, you will be ready for Windows 8.

Delivering the highest quality Windows 8 is the most important criteria for us at this point—quality in every dimension.  The RTM process is designed to be deliberate and maintain the overall engineering integrity of the system.

Ultimately, our partners will determine when their PCs are available in market.  If the feedback and telemetry on Windows 8 and Windows RT match our expectations, then we will enter the final phases of the RTM process in about 2 months.  If we are successful in that, then we are tracking to our shared goal of having PCs with Windows 8 and Windows RT available for the holidays.

On behalf of the Windows team,

Steven Sinofsky


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Windows 8 & Multiple Monitors, Nothing But Love

Last Updated on Monday, 21 May 2012 12:34 Written by Mire_B Monday, 21 May 2012 12:34

I’m one of those Windows users for which a single monitor just isn’t enough. A single PC is also not enough. On any given day at least two computers are running simultaneously, two are as I write this. I can easily go up to four, not counting my media/storage server. As a rule of thumb, there are at least two full HD screens available for each computer, even three at times. I haven’t counted all the pixels I’m abusing, but they’re quite a few.

Needless to say, I’m waiting for Windows 8 to take my screen real estate experience to the next level.

 

Download this video to view it in your favorite media player: High quality MP4 | Lower quality MP4

 

In Windows 8, we made the background customization feature customizable on each monitor you use, and for mainstream customers, we’ve provided solutions to the common desktop personalization problems encountered with Windows 7:

  • Show a different desktop background on each monitor. When selecting a personalization theme, Windows 8 automatically puts a different desktop background on each monitor. You can even set a slide show to cycle through pictures across all monitors, or pick specific background pictures for each monitor.

Photo of two monitors each with a different background

Different backgrounds on each monitor

Screenshot of feature to pick different backgrounds for your monitors

Option to pick different backgrounds on each monitor

  • Multi-monitor slide show. It is very typical for people to have a multi-monitor setup that consists of different sized and/or oriented monitors. And of course, not all photos look great in both portrait and landscape or on all screen sizes and resolutions. To address this, we’ve added logic to the slide show code that selects the best suited images for each monitor.

Photo of a horizontal and a vertical monitor with images that fit

Slideshow with image selection that matches monitor orientation

  • Span desktop background across all monitors. You can now span a single panoramic picture across multiple monitors. We are also including a new panoramic theme in the personalization options for Windows 8.

Photo of a single background spanning two monitors

Span an image across all monitors

Screenshot of Desktop Background selection page with option to span picture across monitors

Option to span image across all monitors, including panoramic pictures

Multi-monitor taskbar

Of course the main reason most people use multi-monitor configurations is to be more productive. With the extra screen real estate you are able to see more windows up at the same time. The flip side to having more windows visible is that window management can become more challenging. In the desktop, the taskbar is the primary place for managing windows. As some of you pointed out to us in our Windows 7 blogs, lack of multi-monitor support for the taskbar is a gap. This can be summed up by one comment from the e7 blog:

@AlexJerebtsov, “The lack of multi-monitor [Taskbar] support is just about a crime”.

What’s interesting about adding multi-monitor support to the taskbar is that even among a relatively small group of users, there are several opinions as to what the ”right” design should be. As you can imagine, this is quite common in designing a new version of Windows—there are many points of view on how even relatively small things should be implemented. These are some observations from a variety of hands-on research methods:

  • People tend to approach window management in either an organized or an ad-hoc fashion. People who manage windows in an ad-hoc fashion frequently move windows between monitors as their workflow requires, and do not keep track of what monitor a window is on. People that manage windows in a more organized fashion tend to designate specific monitors for specific apps and tasks (for example, email always on the left, the browser always on the right). There is not always a hard line between these two working styles and most people move windows in an ad-hoc fashion from time to time.
  • Improved efficiency was consistently cited as a goal for the taskbar. Nearly all users conveyed the desire for improved taskbar efficiency. When we observed people using multiple monitors in their work, we noticed that the simple act of switching windows would sometimes require them to turn their heads, swivel in their seats, and reposition their mouse cursor as they jumped from a secondary monitor to the main taskbar monitor and all the way back again. Of course we also heard this articulated in term of mouse-efficiency. That is, we want to reduce the distance that you need to move the mouse to find and switch to a window on the taskbar.
  • It is common for people to have a primary monitor. Many people have one monitor that they run most of their apps on, with a smaller secondary monitor that has a few windows open for peripheral tasks (for example, managing a playlist, sending IMs, playing a video). This is particularly true for users who have kept their old monitor on-hand after upgrading to a newer, bigger, higher-resolution monitor. Ad hoc users still move windows freely between monitors, but tend to prefer one over the other for the tasks that they are currently focusing on, partly because it is comfortable to set up a chair, keyboard, and mouse to face one monitor directly.
  • Taskbar real estate is generally not a problem. When we designed the taskbar we were fairly confident that most people would find the default setting sufficient even with customization easy to find. Hands-on research confirms the majority of users keep the default setting where windows are grouped by app on the taskbar. Telemetry that looked at hundreds of millions of sessions further confirmed that only 6% of users ungroup taskbar buttons.

Infographic: 83% of users have the default taskbar appearance settings.

Multi-monitor taskbar options

Based on our field and lab observations we understood that people employ different window management techniques (always ad-hoc, always organized, mixed). For this reason, we chose to provide several multi-monitor taskbar options, so that advanced users with multiple monitors can still fine-tune their desktop experience.

Screenshot of feature that controls taskbar properties

Windows 8 taskbar properties

  • Show taskbar buttons on the taskbar where the window is open. This is the most obvious option that comes to mind when thinking of a multi-monitor taskbar. In this configuration, each monitor’s taskbar contains icons for only the windows that are on that monitor. The advantage of this option is that it is simple and predictable. This tested well with people who were very organized in their placement of windows, or who had dedicated monitors for specific tasks. On the other hand, ad-hoc users found this design to be inefficient, as they needed to remember what monitor a particular window was on.

Photo of monitors with buttons on the screen with the open windows

App buttons on the taskbar where the window is open

  • Show taskbar buttons on main taskbar and taskbar where window is open. In this configuration, the main monitor has a special taskbar that contains all the windows across all monitors. All the other monitors have unique taskbars, as with the first option described above. This option offers some of the cleanliness of the taskbar where the window is open model, but also offers a consistent and efficient way to get to any window via the master taskbar. People who think in terms of a primary monitor will probably prefer this option.

Photo of monitors with buttons on main screen and the screen with the open windows

App buttons on main taskbar and where window is open

  • Show taskbar buttons on all taskbars (default). In this configuration, all windows are available on all taskbars. This configuration is designed for maximum mouse efficiency because you can always activate any window from any monitor. Of all the options, this works the best for ad-hoc windows management, as there is no need to keep track of where windows are located. While some users indicated a preference for one of the other options, this was the only option that was efficient for the vast majority of users, which is why this is the default setting.

Photo of monitors with buttons on all screens

App buttons on all taskbars (default option)

Some changes for the Release Preview

For those of you who have used the Consumer Preview on multiple monitors, you’ll notice that Start, the charms, and the clock are only shown on a single monitor. The feedback has been vocal and clear on this and of course, given the prevalence of multi-monitor setups even in our own hallways, we understood that this feature simply wasn’t complete. Looking forward, here’s a sneak peak at some of the improvements we’re making to multi-monitor usage for the Release Preview.

No broken corners and edges

On the Consumer Preview in a multi-monitor setup, it is difficult to find the Start screen and other UI that is invoked from the corners with a mouse, since those activation areas are only available on a single monitor. In the upcoming Release Preview, we are making all the corners and edges alive on all monitors. You can now bring up Start, the charms, and app switching from the corners of any monitor. Want Start on monitor 1? Just go to the bottom-left corner on that monitor. Want it on monitor 2? Go to the bottom-left corner on monitor 2. This not only improves discoverability, it also improves mouse efficiency and multitasking. To launch or move an app to a specific monitor, bring up Start on that monitor and launch the app, or switch to the app using the app switcher at the left edge.

You can launch Start on any monitor:

Start screen on the main monitor

Start screen on second monitor

You can switch back to recently used apps from any monitor:

Switching apps on the main monitor

Switching apps on the secondary monitor

And you can bring up the charms on any monitor:

Charms accessible on the main monitor

Charms accessible on the secondary monitor

 

Launch and move Metro style apps to any monitor

There are several ways that you can launch and move an app:

  • Start. You can bring up Start on any monitor by moving your mouse to the bottom-left corner, or via the Start charm that you can invoke from the top and bottom-right corners of any monitor. Pressing the Windows key launches Start on the last monitor where Start or a Metro style app appeared.
  • Switch back to an app from any monitor. You can switch back to an app on any monitor by moving your mouse to the top-left corner. Clicking the app thumbnail switches you back to the app on that monitor.
  • Keyboard shortcuts. We are introducing new keyboard shortcuts that build on the shortcuts from Windows 7. Win+Pg Up or Win+Pg Dn moves Metro style apps across monitors. Win+Arrow and Win+Shift+Arrow continue to work on desktop apps as they did in Windows 7, by snapping and moving desktop windows across monitors.
  • Drag and drop. Using the mouse, you can now drag and drop Metro Style apps across monitors. Drag and drop works for both full screen and snapped apps.
Improved mouse targeting on the shared edge

A multi-monitor setup brings the major benefit of more real estate, but it also lacks the Fitts’ Law benefits of hard edges and corners across displays. While it’s extremely easy to trigger corner UI such as Start, charms, or recently used apps on a single monitor, it isn’t uncommon to overshoot the mouse when the corner appears on a shared edge on a multi-monitor configuration.

With multiple monitors in fact, targeting the shared edge can be downright difficult. Move a few pixels too far and your cursor is suddenly on the wrong monitor. This has been a common challenge in previous versions of Windows as well, like when you’re trying to hit the close button or scroll bars on a maximized window on a shared edge. Many work around this by remembering to move the mouse slowly as it approaches a shared edge or by avoiding window layouts that bump up against those edges. We commonly observe this behavior in our own usage and in field studies.

In the Release Preview, we’re introducing an improved model for shared edges that makes it easier to target UI along a shared edge.

Since corners are even more important for Windows 8, we’ve created real corners along the shared edges to mimic the Fitts’ Law advantages of a single monitor. The red corners in the diagram below demonstrate how these corners can help guide your mouse.

Graphic demonstrating real corners along shared edges

We’ve designed the corners to provide help when you need it and to get out of the way when you don’t. The protruding corner target is 6 pixels in height, which means that it is only noticeable when you’re trying to target the corner of the screen. Also, we’ve designed the corner to only work for the monitor your cursor is on. For example, leaving monitor 2 for monitor 1 in the diagram below, the bottom corner in monitor 1 will not interfere as you move your mouse across the shared edge.

Graphic demonstrating how real corners only work for the monitor you are on

Shared corner does not block cross monitor navigation

The shared corner isn’t just an improvement for the new Windows 8 UI, but it also makes it easier to target controls on the desktop like Close and Show desktop. As a result, targeting shared corners is fast and fluid. First-hand experience is a must with this design, as you will notice this improvement right away when using the new Release Preview.

More to come

We have lots of ideas for how we could do even more with Metro style apps on multiple monitors. Our goal for Windows 8 is to deliver a great Metro style app experience alongside desktop apps, improving multitasking efficiency and making it easy to access the controls you need along the edges of every screen. We wanted to make sure your desktop experience was even more efficient, with new functionality such as the spanning taskbar, and we wanted you to also have access to Metro style apps while you’re also using the desktop. As we see new apps developed, and as we see how developers might want to take advantage of multi-monitor configurations in new ways with immersive and full screen apps, we will of course enhance this experience (and APIs) even further.


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Download Free Windows 7, Windows Phone 7, Visual Studio 2010, Office 2010, Windows Server 2008 R2 Books from Microsoft Press

Last Updated on Monday, 14 May 2012 11:19 Written by Mire_B Monday, 14 May 2012 11:19

Microsoft Press is offering a rather interesting collection of free books for download. Just follow the links on the images below and enjoy content on Windows 7, Windows Phone 7, Visual Studio 2010, Office 2010, Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2008, Virtualization, and Office 365. Via here.

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Moving to Visual Studio 2010  Programming Windows Phone 7


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