Windows 8 Release Preview due on First week of June

Confirming the rumors on the actual release date of the next preview version of Windows, Microsoft has just announced that the Release Preview of Windows 8 will ship on the first week of June of this year. The announcement has been made at the Windows 8 Developer Days conference in Japan but details of the next preview was not elaborated nor the final release of Windows 8 which was rumored to be available by October 2012.

Will we able to get more free and paid apps in this release? Lets wait and see.

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Knowing Windows 8 SKUs: Pro and Pro Pack

As Microsoft works on the Post-Beta builds, screenshots of the two (at least for now) Stock Keeping Units (SKU) revealed at Winunleked.tk. In this post, we will actually discussed a minimal difference between the two versions of Windows 8 at this early stage, although still a lot of changes will be made in the future .

Windows 8 Pro

“Pro” is a short term for Professional. This version of Windows 8 doesn’t include the Windows Media Center. As I’ve mentioned above , changes will still be available until this SKU reaches Release to Manufacturing (RTM). Windows To Go, a feature that allows Windows 8 to boot and run from USB mass storage devices such as flash drives and external hard drives is present in this SKU. It also noticeable that the Windows Anytime Upgrade was visible in the apps list of Windows 8 Pro, which means that this version of Windows 8 can be upgraded. This will be discussed after the break.

Confidential branding on Windows 8 Pro

Windows 8 Pro Start screen (nothing new)

Windows Anytime Upgrade on Apps drawer

System Information and build watermark

Windows 8 Pro Winver

 

Windows 8 Pro Pack

This version of Windows 8 is also called ProfessionalWMC or Professional with Windows Media Center, an upgraded version of  Windows 8 Pro. This might also be the Windows 8 Professional Plus that has been rumored before. Family Safety feature is present in this SKU just like in Windows Live as well as Storage Spaces and Windows To Go. Let’s check in the screenshots below how does the upgrade will look like.

Choosing the upgrade method

Entering the upgrade key

Accepting the license terms and make their lawyers happy 😉

Upgrade process

Upgrading Windows 8 Pro

Windows 8 Pro Pack

Windows 8 Pro Pack Start Screen

No more upgrade (this version might be the Ultimate counterpart in Windows 7)

Windows logo was removed in the System Information

Windows 8 Pro Pack Winver

Family Safety now on Windows 8

This is a just a quick look on the progress of Windows 8 and more news will be coming up in a couple of days so stay tuned.

Oh by the way, did I mentioned that next build will not be called Released Candidate? 🙂 Many Thanks to Canouna

We will keep you posted.

 

 

Windows 8 towards Release Candidate

After the release of Consumer Preview of Windows 8 last month in Barcelona, Spain, the Windows Team is currently hard at work for the next milestone of Windows 8, the more stable Release Candidate build, which was rumored to be release sometime between the end of May or early June of this year. To date, the latest known build was 8307.0.winmain.120322-1820 that still carries the HB1 tag in the ISO which means that the build was still in the Post-Beta milestone. For now, Windows Consumer Preview can be upgraded to the latest build (personal files, apps and settings can be saved) but crashes when the actual app was opened in the Start Screen. The latest builds has some improvements in the UI that can be noticed in the charm bar, language menu, Desktop IE 10 and the recently reported 25 set color picker. There were also improvement in the Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) and Out of the Box Experience (OOBE). The screenshots below are from Winunleaked.tk

Windows Setup

Product key input screen

End User License Agreement placeholder

Microsoft uses the Developer Preview bootscreen in Post Beta builds

More colors to choose from in the Personalization Screen

Loading screen (notice the Windows Phone like bar which replaces the round loading indicator in the earlier builds)

Settings Screen (all items were disabled by default)

Start Screen (the core Windows apps names were replaced e.g Video: Microsoft.Zune.Video, Messaging: Microsoft.WindowsLive.Chat, etc.)

 

More colorful Windows 8

After releasing the Windows Consumer Preview, the final beta of the next version of Windows last month, Microsoft is currently working on the pre-Release Candidate builds of Windows 8 and a Chinese website has recently posted some screenshots of Windows 8 color picker. The color scheme started as a single color during the release of Windows Developer Preview which draws negative feedbacks from the end users. In the Windows Consumer Preview, the software giant add  additional eight (8) colors. With the newer builds, Microsoft is putting up more colors making it 25 different color selection. As for the images or the parallax design, Microsoft is still consistent on the designs that were present in the Windows Consumer Preview. Of course, we’re not still putting out the possibility of having a more personalized Start Screen wherein you can put any images as the Start Screen background.

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 .

“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 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.