Are you ready for the Windows Consumer Preview?

Official Windows Consumer Preview wallpaper

With just a few hours left before the official release of the beta of the next version of Windows, the Redmond based software giant was still hard at work towards the pre-Release Candidate (RC) builds of Windows 8, which according to our source, has reached the 8288.0.winmain.120223-1751. But with today’s release of Windows Consumer Preview in Barcelona, Spain. Microsoft will be rolling out the final beta build 8250.0.winmain_win8beta.120217-1520. Here are some the features that we might be seeing in the build which were not discussed previously:

  1. The new windows logo will be part of the charm bar and can be customized.
  2. The Show Desktop bar is not visible but still feature complete.
  3. New setup icon and installprep splash screen image.
  4. The new default coral lockscreen wallpaper and betta fish metro wallpaper and a lot of wallies inside

Microsoft earlier released PlayReady PC Runtime v.2.3 for Windows Consumer Preview for both x86/64 machines. To give you an overview of what does this application was all about, PlayReady Runtime allows PC based applications to access PlayReady content using the PlayReady PC Runtime API. Here are some the applications’ key features:

· Enabling Business Models for Digital Content
Microsoft PlayReady supports a wide range of business models for digital content providers, including:
– Subscription: Provides access to an entire catalog of content in exchange for a recurring fee.
– Purchase: Offers content for purchase and download.
– Pay Per View: Provides pay-per-view choices for all content types.
– Rental: Enables rental scenarios with time-based licenses.

· Enhanced Content Access Features
Microsoft PlayReady provides enhanced features designed to enable new consumer entertainment scenarios:
– Protection for many content types: Protects games, images, and ringtones, in addition to music and video. For audio and video content, Windows Media Audio (WMA), Windows Media Video (WMV), Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), AAC+, enhanced AAC+, and H.263 and H.264 codecs.
– Use of multiple devices in domains: Makes it easy for consumers to transfer and enjoy content on all of their supported devices.
Embedded licenses: Enables smoother transfer of content from device to device and from PC to device.
– Backward compatibility: Permits devices that support Microsoft PlayReady to play back content protected with Windows Media DRM (digital rights management technology).
– Rights visibility: Provides more information about content usage rights to your users.
– Error granularity: Provides clearer and more helpful error messages to users.
– Easier deployment: Rapidly develop support for Microsoft PlayReady in new mobile devices.

· Multiple Distribution Options
Microsoft PlayReady supports many different options for distributing content:
Basic and progressive downloads: Content can play while downloading.
Streaming: Content can be streamed to devices.
Side-loading: Content can be synced from a PC to a mobile device supporting Microsoft PlayReady.
Direct License Acquistion over the air: Content and license can be provided directly to a mobile handset over wireless networks.
Super-distribution: Content sent over user-to-user distribution channels, such as e-mail, multimedia messaging services (MMS), informal WiFi networks, and Bluetooth, can be monetized by providers.

PlayReady PC Runtime v2.3 (x86) Windows 8 Consumer Preview

PlayReady PC Runtime v2.3 (x64) Windows 8 Consumer Preview

You can later get the direct download and torrent links of Windows Consumer Preview on the Downloads page of this blog .

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“Breaking News”: Skype Beta now available for Windows Phone

The long wait for Skype on Windows Phone is finally over. Just minutes ago, Microsoft announced the new Skype Beta app for Windows Phone. Skype app will be available on all leading smartphones running Windows Phone OS. According to Microsoft, the gold app will be available sometime in April.

Users can directly download the app and test it on Windows Phone. You can also get it at Windows Phone Marketplace for free.

Skype app for Windows Phone

You can watch the video here on how the Skype works on Windows Phone.

What’s in store in the Consumer Preview

Sources close to Microsoft confirms that Windows 8 Build 8250 is the final Consumer Preview that we will be getting at the end of this month. A Chinese website has recently posted some cool screenshots of the build.

PC Settings aka Control Panel

 

Personalization

Picture Password

 

Windows Store

Games in the Store

Download progress

Category page

Category page

There are new additions on the list of games and applications that are present in the Consumer Preview but we didn’t know if the initial list of applications, which you can find here and here, will be included in the public build.

Stay tuned.

 

SkyDrive and Windows 8: Files, apps and devices integration in the Cloud

With a few days left before the much awaited Consumer Preview release, Microsoft, on their latest Windows 8 blog, showcase another feature on how our apps, files and documents can be accessed across Windows 8 PCs and phones. The software giant has made a big leap in improving its Cloud service we know as SkyDrive. This service exists as part of the Windows Live. With Windows 8, SkyDrive team will be focusing on the personal needs of the people using the service. The Windows Team has detailed major goals in developing the SkyDrive for Windows 8:

  • SkyDrive Metro style app on Windows 8
  • SkyDrive files integrated into Windows Explorer on the desktop, and
  • The ability to fetch remote files through SkyDrive.com

SkyDrive as a Metro-style app for Windows 8

SkyDrive will now be having a dedicated app in Windows 8, which according to Microsoft, will be included (as an early version) in the Consumer Preview. The Metro-style app of SkyDrive will serve as a file/photo picker across all Metro-style apps that requires the service and this will also be available via access in Share Charm and contracts.

SkyDrive Metro-style app

SkyDrive app will also be available via Share Charm and Contracts

SkyDrive on the desktop

The service will also be available on the desktop through Windows Explorer. Files and photos can be easily manage using the desktop app. Like the other apps on the desktop, users can easily drag and drop chosen files to their desired locations even offline.

SkyDrive on the desktop

SkyDrive can be easily accessed through Windows Explorer

Directly from Skydrive.com

With the SkyDrive website, user can create his own private cloud. Files uploaded from and to SkyDrive Metro and desktop apps, can be accessed in the SkyDrive website. Most users are hesitant to use the cloud service for some security reasons. The team carefully considered this that’s why they introduce another layer of protection to make sure that files shared in the cloud will be safe and secure.

SkyDrive.com

Here is the video from the Windows 8 Blog. You can read the full article here.

Windows Phone “Tango” coming to China, possible in the Philippines?

Joe Belfiore drinking Tango (courtesy of ZDNet)

WPDang reported last week that Windows Phone “Tango” will be coming in to mainland China this March. During the past weeks a lot of information about “Tango” begun leaking from different sources. It was said that Windows Phone “Tango” was just an minor upgrade from Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. Reports said that Tango will be optimized for devices with lower RAM and will support low-end Windows Phone handsets that has 256 MB of RAM. With this, apps running on Mango may not be compatible with Tango. The coming of Windows Phone to China is not a surprise after all since Microsoft has recently reported that they will launch Windows Phone Marketplace in 6 new regions including China and the Philippines.

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain at the end of this month we will be expecting confirmation from Microsoft and Nokia regarding the Windows Phone “Tango”. It was also reported that Nokia will unveil not just one but six new Nokia phones in MWC, two of which running Windows Phone OS, one Symbian and three S40 feature phones. For the two Windows Phone, we’re expecting a global release of Lumia 900 and the low-end/ budget-phone Lumia 610 which was reportedly equipped with Windows Phone Tango.

Photo courtesy of WPDang.com

The rumored Nokia Lumia 610

 

Windows 8 Metro-Style UI for visually impaired users (Video)

Windows 8 is designed with a touch first UI to provide users with fast and fluid PC experience. The Windows 8 team has recently posted on their blog how the metro-style apps perfectly catered both normal and visually impaired users.

Some accessibility features we know today in Windows were present since Windows 98 and it kept on evolving everytime a new Operating System is launch. In Windows 8, these accessibility features or assistive technologies (AT) were improved and was designed to enrich AT experience. According to Microsoft, these are the things that they improved in Windows 8 AT:

  • We redesigned Narrator to improve its performance so that it quickly reads out what you have selected.
  • We added morel languages and voices to Narrator to support additional countries and preferences.
  • We updated components and features within Windows to leverage UI Automation that allows them to be read by Narrator.
  • We updated UI Automation (UIA) with more text patterns and document content so that Narrator can use it to read the outputs from applications.

These, according to Microsoft, are just some of the cool new examples of AT’s that they will be shipping out in Windows 8. There are a lot of improvements across all Windows 8 AT’s that they will discuss in the future.

A First look at Windows 8 Metro-style Communication apps

In the recent Windows 8 blog, Microsoft shows how Windows 8 runs on Advanced RISC Machine architecture or the ARM processor. Running Windows 8 on these devices has the same experience running on x86/64 machines. In the video provided by Microsoft, we can see a lot of improvements on the next version of Windows in terms of user experience, design and functionality. The company, for the first time, gave us a glimpse of the Office 15 running on ARM which has been optimized for both touch and keyboard. Microsoft has also unveiled its core communication apps like the Mail, Photos, and Calendar.

These apps, according to Microsoft, running on ARM will be the same as the apps running on x86/64 machines. Although music and video apps were not mentioned in the blog, these apps will still be part of Windows 8 core apps.

Windows Store preinstalled apps for Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Looking back on our previous post regarding the first Windows Store games for Consumer Preview, we have noticed that no preinstalled applications were mentioned aside from, of course, the games. Today, from the Verge, sources closed to Microsoft unveiled some of the Metro-style applications that will come along with Windows 8 Consumer Preview:

  • Camera
  • Messaging
  • Mail
  • Calendar
  • SkyDrive
  • People
  • Photos
  • Video
  • Music
These are just some of the applications that we might have to see in the Consumer Preview which will be release at the end of this month.  According to the source, Mail, Calendar, People and Messaging are not part of Windows Live but instead designed as a core communication apps of Windows 8. Microsoft is also currently working on the Messaging app to have SMS support enable. It was also mentioned that Music and Video apps are currently branded with Zune but it is being built by the Xbox Team. With this scenario, the two apps maybe bundled together with Games on Xbox Live for Windows when the next generation operating system hits the shelves later this year.

 

 

Windows 8 Consumer Preview due on February 29 at MWC

The long wait is over. Mark your calendar because it is official! Microsoft is hosting a Windows 8 Consumer Preview on February 29, 2012 for the World Mobile Congress at Barcelona, Spain. It is a two hour event that will kick off at 3PM (CET).

A tweet from Microsoft informing the public of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview event at Barcelona, Spain

Microsoft is planning to deliver a Developer Preview (already released to public last fall), a Consumer Preview (or the Beta), a Release Candidate and a Release to Manufacturing of Windows 8.

It is very unusual for Microsoft to release an Operating System on a mobile conference. Are they positioning Windows 8 as an operating system for mobile gadgets? Or this is just in time for the Windows 8/Windows phone marriage announcement when the “Apollo” features leaked  couple of weeks ago?