Windows 8 – Only What Matters

Windows 8 is likely less than a year away, and it can best be summed up as Windows in the post-PC era. That’s not to say that desktop computers and laptops won’t be a major part of the system, but this will be the first version of Windows designed with both computers and portable devices such as smartphones and tablets in mind.

Starting with the basics, Microsoft has confirmed that the sequel to Windows 7 will indeed be called Windows 8. This isn’t so much a lack of imagination as a belief that Windows 7 was much better received than its predecessor Vista: Microsoft wants to convey the message that the sequel will continue that success. As for a release date, there’s been no official word, but the timing of releases (both official and leaked) of in-development editions is, consistent with an Autumn 2012 release.

Over the years Microsoft has generally followed a pattern on alternating between a new version of Windows that starts from scratch (such as Vista) and one that is based upon its predecessor but has key usability and feature improvements (such as Windows 7.) Windows 8 looks set to fall into the former category and it’s the user interface that is the biggest change.

Previous attempts to produce low-specification netbooks and tablet devices with Windows have proven unsuccessful simply because it was primarily designed for desktops and laptops. Windows 8 changes that with the Metro user interface which is designed to work equally well on traditional monitor/keyboard/mouse setups and touchscreens.

There’s also a major overhaul to the basic look of Windows. The default setup replaces the familiar desktop with small icons and then the taskbar at the bottom. In its place is a new customizable start screen with larger tiles that take the user directly to commonly used applications; some tiles can be set to display information updated in real time such as weather or sports scores. Users can switch to the traditional set-up if they prefer.

The Metro system also means a big tweak to Internet Explorer. The default version of the browser will run in HTML 5 and won’t support any plug-ins such as Flash, which is already blocked on Apple’s portable devices. There’ll be a separate version of the browser accessible through the traditional menu system that does support plug-ins.

While full details aren’t available yet, it does appear Windows 8 will reflect the growing interest in cloud computing by which not only is some data stored online, but some processing work by remote computers rather than by the device itself. One confirmed change from this is that users will be able to use a Windows Live ID to log-in, such that they can go on any machine and access settings and files.

The biggest change “under the bonnet” comes with support for ARM processors for the first time. To date Windows has only supported Intel x86 processor system, which is used in the vast majority of PCs. ARM is far more common in smartphones and tablets and works in a way that uses far less power, thus extending battery life. If all works as planned, this should mean Windows is much more effective in portable devices than before.

Download Windows 8 Developer Preview (32/64-bit)

Note: Windows 8 Developer Preview is a pre-beta version of Windows 8 for developers and it may not be stable, operate correctly or work the way the final version of the software will. It should not be used in a production environment. The features and functionality in the prerelease software may not appear in the final version.

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Panasonic debuts Toughbook CF-H2 tablet for field workers helping them to stay productive, even in harsh environments

Tablets, tablets everywhere. I guess this is most relevant indicator of the iPad’s impact on the industry. Most people want one or own one, even those who work in extreme environments? Looks like Panasonic just launches a fully rugged tablet specially designed for field workers –  the Panasonic Toughbook CF-H2.

The CF-H2 is – as presented by Panasonic – the ultimate tool for mobile and field workers helping them to stay productive, even in harsh environments, by delivering constant access to their applications and business data. The lightweight, yet fully rugged tablet is ideal for field workers in utilities, logistics, automotive workshops, rail and aviation as well as sales personnel, retail point of sales and market research. This tablet is resistant to drops, vibrations, cold, dust, heat, salt fog, moisture, gunfire, and humidity. It can easily survive falls of up to 6 feet (1.82 m), besides being water- and dustproof.

Toughbook CF-H2 features:

  • magnesium alloy chassis encased with polycarbonate
  • 10.1-inch XGA touchscreen display (1024×768)
  • 1.7 GHz Core i5-2557M CPU
  • 4 GB of RAM (8 GB max)
  • 320 GB HDD (7,200 rpm) or an optional 128 GB SSD drive
  • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Bluetooth 2.1,
  • two batteries that together provide up to 6.5 hours of operation
  • optional items such as GPS, barcode and RFID readers
  • 2-megapixel camer

The tablet runs on Windows 7 operating system and its available starting at €2119 MSRP (excluding vat).

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World’s first “tri-core” processor for smartphones and tablets

The smartphone guts race just got a bit more interesting—dark horse Marvell has just outed the first ever 1.5GHz ARM tri-core mobile processor. The Armada 628 pairs two high-performance cores with one optimized for low-power.

The Armada 628 also supports 1080p 3D video, USB 3.0, and DDR3 memory, and can project images to two LCD displays at the same time. But the killer feature is the ability to switch to that power-sipping third core for less intensive tasks. That means more playback time and better battery life—two things any smartphone or tablet owner could always use more of.

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