Windows Blue – the evolution of Windows 8’s start screen; application lifecycle; windowing; and personalization

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 February 2013 01:39 Written by admin Sunday, 17 February 2013 01:39

Microsoft was quick to take down a job posting on its Careers site (via Mary Jo Foley) that provided some details about Windows 8’s successor. According to the posting, the Redmond company is hard at work on a Windows 8 refresh, which apparently will not be marketed as a new version of the operating system – Windows 9.

The beans spilled read as such: “We’re looking for an excellent, experienced SDET to join the Core Experience team in Windows Sustained Engineering (WinSE). The Core Experience features are the centerpiece of the new Windows UI, representing most of what customers touch and see in the OS, including: the start screen; application lifecycle; windowing; and personalization. Windows Blue promises to build and improve upon these aspects of the OS, enhancing ease of use and the overall user experience on devices and PCs worldwide.”

As far as I’m concerned, the fact that Microsoft took down the job posting and probably is putting the poor guy or gal who uploaded it through the pains of hell acts as perfect confirmation of the plans in motion for Windows Blue.

What’s interesting is that Windows Blue will not impact only Windows 8, but also Windows Server 2012 and Windows Phone 8, with the refresh reverberating to complimentary Windows services such as SkyDrive and Hotmail.

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Windows 8 Pro Upgrades Cost $39.99

Last Updated on Tuesday, 3 July 2012 11:02 Written by admin Tuesday, 3 July 2012 11:02

All I can say is get ready to upgrade. If you own a genuine copy of Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 you’ll be able to purchase a Windows 8 upgrade for as little as $39.99. This offer is available to customers in 131 markets worldwide.

And if you want, you can add Windows Media Center for free through the “add features” option within Windows 8 Pro after your upgrade.

When you use to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant makes upgrading simple by walking you through the upgrade process step-by-step from purchase to download and then of course installation.


The Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant will check to make sure your PC is ready for Windows 8. It will provide a detailed compatibility report that lets you know of anything you may have to address before or after the upgrade and outlines actions to take.


It will also inform you of any application or device compatibility issues. It will ask you what you want to keep from your current Windows installation. You will be able to upgrade from any consumer edition of Windows 7 to Windows 8 Pro and bring everything along which includes your Windows settings, personal files, and apps. If you are upgrading from Windows Vista, you will be able to bring along your Windows settings and personal files, and if you are upgrading from Windows XP you will only be able to bring along your personal files. Of course, if you want to start fresh, you can choose to bring nothing along. Or if you prefer to format your hard drive as part of your upgrade experience, you can do so as long as you boot from media and then format your hard drive from within the setup experience for installing Windows 8, not prior to it.


Once you purchase your upgrade, the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant kicks off your download. It has a built-in download manager that allows you to pause and continue your download at any time as well as a check to ensure your download completes successfully.

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After your download finishes, you can choose to proceed with the upgrade (“Install now”) or install later either from your desktop or by creating your own media. If you choose to create your own media, you will be able to create your own bootable USB or .ISO file which can be burned onto a DVD for upgrade and backup purposes. If you prefer, you also have the option of purchasing a backup DVD for $15 plus shipping and handling.

We believe that your upgrade experience in Windows 8 will be a breeze by offering a faster experience, a single upgrade path, and compatibility from prior versions of Windows. We’ve continued to listen to our customers and have expanded the ability to download to over 100 countries and 37 languages. We have simplified the Windows upgrade experience with the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant which supports you during your upgrade with everything from selecting your language to pausing your download to built-in compatibility checks – it’s seamless. And if you’re an enthusiast you will have the flexibility to download and control how you upgrade.

If you prefer to shop at a local store, a packaged DVD version of the upgrade to Windows 8 Pro will be available for $69.99 during this promotion.

This upgrade promotion for Windows 8 Pro both online and at retail runs through January 31st, 2013.

We wanted to share information about this upgrade promotion with you as we continue to drive toward the RTM milestone for Windows 8. We will of course have more to say and more details to provide closer to general availability.

Oh, and by the way – if you’re not upgrading from a prior version of Windows and are building your own PC or installing Windows 8 in a virtual machine or a separate partition, you will be able to purchase and install the Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro System Builder product.

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Major SkyDrive Upgrade Rolling Out

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 November 2011 11:17 Written by Mire_B Tuesday, 29 November 2011 11:14

Microsoft is rolling out a major upgrade to Windows Live SkyDrive, its Cloud offering designed to offer 25GB of free storage space as well as simplify collaboration, remote working and sharing.


Speaking of remote worker scenarios, sharing and collaboration, once the upgrade is in place, SkyDrive users will be able to enjoy new functionality around Office documents.


The update also makes it easier to complete file management tasks, some of which are now instantaneous.


And for those customers running Internet Explorer 10, the SkyDrive upgrade brings HTML5 uploads as well as CSS3 transitions.


Simple app-centric sharing, particularly for Office docs

As we look to the future, we know people increasingly think and work in a way that is “app-centric,” that is, they want something that just works from whatever application they are already using. So for example, when collaborating on a Word document, they want be able to share it in as few steps as possible – ideally without having to leave Word in order to set permissions or move it around to different folders. And they definitely don’t want to have to think about their folder structure or which email service their friends happen to use.

In the past, SkyDrive has made this difficult. We built the experience around discrete folders that were either private (“Documents”) or shared (“Class documents”). So how you wanted to share also dictated the way you organized your data. Also, sharing on SkyDrive was designed to work best when you shared files with people in your Windows Live network. Meanwhile, the most common scenario—sharing or collaborating with friends or colleagues across email services or other networks—was often a complex and unreliable process.

As a result, we rebuilt fundamental pieces of SkyDrive to simplify sharing and make it more app-centric, particularly for Office. For example, let’s say you’re working in Word Web App on a document in one of your private folders. Now
you can Share from within the app and complete your task, without having to think about the structure of folders or subfolders. This is possible since SkyDrive now lets you share or permission individual files within a folder. This
works for Office documents, photos, or any other type of file.

But we didn’t stop there. We also redesigned the sharing process – to make it much easier to share with people across email services and networks.

Sharing is easier on SkyDrive

When you click Share in the SkyDrive info pane or from the File menu, you can now do a few things:

  • Share via email. Enter any name from your address book, including contacts from LinkedIn, Facebook and Gmail. (If you want to import the email addresses of your Facebook contacts, first connect Facebook to Windows Live and
    then go to and click the Facebook logo.) Since SkyDrive now uses your email address to send a sharing invitation, it reaches your friend’s inbox, not their spam folder. And when you select “Recipients can edit,” you can now collaborate with anyone, even if you don’t know their Live ID in advance.
  • Post to your networks. SkyDrive connects to many different networks, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, so that you can upload your photos and documents once and share with friends across networks.
  • Get a link. For many people, the easiest way to share is to grab a URL and send it to yourself, or paste it into another browser. Now, you can choose a View only link when you’re sharing something private, a View and Edit link when you want to allow the recipient to edit an item, and a Public link when you want to share something with anybody who can access the Internet.

The sharing experience is one that only happens when you choose to share something. Everything on SkyDrive that you upload is private until you tell us otherwise.

Powerful file management

As soon as we released the SkyDrive updates in June, we received a ton of feedback that you like the fast performance of the service, but doing many actions was slow and cumbersome.

In this release, a number of file management tasks are now “instant”. Now you can:

  • Create folders inline.

Create folders inline


  • Rename a folder inline (or by hitting the F2 key).

Rename a folder inline


  • Move, delete, and download multiple files in bulk.

Move, delete, and download multiple fils in bulk


  • Move and copy very easily with an inline pop-over dialog.

Move and copy

  • Use right-click functionality on documents and photos to take action right away.

Right-click functionality lets you take action

  • Create an Office document quickly. When you click one of the Office document icons, all you have to do is name the document, and then you can immediately launch into the Office Web Apps.

Create an Office document

HTML5 uploads, CSS3 transitions in Internet Explorer 10

In addition to some of the sharing and file management features, we continue to look for ways we can take advantage of modern browsing technologies. Today we rely on Silverlight to provide rich upload support. In this release, we’re
introducing drag and drop as a way to upload files and photos for browsers that support HTML5 File API like Internet Explorer 10, Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. And while your files are uploading, you can continue to browse and use SkyDrive. You no longer have to sit and wait for uploads to complete.

Use SkyDrive while your files are uploading


We also have worked to make sure that SkyDrive works well on Internet Explorer 10. If you’re using the Windows 8 Developer Preview, you’ll notice that support for CSS3 animations works when you resize an album.

Photo improvements

We’ve rebuilt and re-introduced photo slideshows in this release, and we feel that we’ve built a slideshow that’s faster and better than before.

Slideshows are better and faster

We heard your feedback that it was hard to find photo captions, and that navigation was difficult. You can now click “View folder” to return to the folder of the album and see captions right below the photo.

It's easier to find photo captions

We’ve also added support for touch APIs on Internet Explorer 10 and Mobile Safari so that you can use your fingers to swipe and navigate photos.

Support for more file types like PDF and RAW

We recognize that a lot of our customers upload PDF files to SkyDrive, but to date we haven’t had a rich viewing experience for PDFs. In this release, when you click a PDF, we load it using whatever available PDF viewer your browser supports. This means that on IE, Firefox and Safari, PDFs will load in the browser if you have Adobe Acrobat installed. On Chrome, PDFs will load using Chrome’s native PDF viewer.

Enjoy a rich viewing experience for PDFs

Some of our customers capture photos using their camera’s RAW format, and we support uploading and viewing RAW files from a number of camera manufacturers supported by the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack.


Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Many actions now happen inline (such as upload, delete, copy, move, rename, share, and create).
  • We preload more resources when you’re typing your username and password before logging in. This makes it faster to view and edit Office docs.
  • Signing in to SkyDrive is about 50% faster.


Omar Shahine
Group Program Manager,

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