Build Windows 2011: Keynote

Live from Anaheim … it’s Build Windows!  Ok, not so live, but I reckon reading this might be easier than getting a migraine from reading a #bldwin feed on Tweetdeck.  There’s 14 minutes to go (as I write this introduction) and my laptop is having a seizure trying to keep up with the tweets.

Note: CNET posted some leaked photos/videos of a Samsung slate PC that we delegates are supposed to be getting.  Nice!  Won’t believe it until I see it.  It’s a £999 i5 with 128 GB SSD and 4 GB RAM.

The stage has two desks.  One is the typical facing the speaker desk for demos.  The other is facing the hall and features a series of PCs and “devices” that appear to be running Windows 8.

The pre-keynote video has started.  Lots of talk about the easy to use GUI, managing _apps_ (not applications), and integration of Windows Live with login – imagine Live as your domain!  New lingo: Start Screen is the first thing you see when you’ve logged in (Metro UI).  The video was a teaser .. the show “starts soon”.

Out comes Steven Sinofsky, the man in charge of Windows.  Today is the launch of a “new opportunity for developers” to make the most of PCs no matter what size or shape.

450,000,000 copies of “Windows 7” sold (SA included).  Consumer usage is greater than XP, as of today apparently.  542,000,000 signing into Windows Live.

Changing World of Computing

Very different since 1995, the last major overhaul of Windows.  Lots of new form factors.  Whoah,,,, Sinofsky just said “we call them Windows tablets”.  Slip?  They’ve always said Slate PCs.  Once you try touch, you want touch on all your devices.  Once you try touch on Windows 8, you’ll want it.  Now you want devices that you use while carrying, rather than carry to then use.  Developers want richer connectivity and sharing capabilities.  And services are intrinsic of all software.  Apps connect to some back end for some reason, either to consume or to share information/data.

Windows 8

Took Windows 7, and made it better.  Everything that runs on Windows 7 should run on Windows 8.  They have “re-imagined” Windows from the ground up, including ARM chipsets, tablets, and touch.

Note: power of this statement is that MSFT can support lots of varied hardware, allowing some very unique or niche business implementation.  Windows = flexibility.


  • Windows 8 experience – GUI
  • Metro style platform and tools – development
  • Hardware platform – devices and form factors
  • Cloud Services – Windows Live

Delivering Fundamental Performance Gains

Bloatware?  he holds up a 3 year old netbook with 1 GB RAM and atom CPU that was used in PDC 3 years ago.  It is running Windows 8.  He demos it now.  Task Manager from Windows 7 is shown.  Then Windows 8 is shown.  The new one is using the CPU less and only 281 MB RAM (versus 404 MB).  It is also using 3 less processes (32 down to 29).

Windows 8 Experience

Julie Larson-Green comes out.  We get a lock screen like on WP7.  That’s a good add; it shows some quick highlight info about your status.  We get a demo of a picture password – no keyboard, you touch key points of the screen.  The start screen is the heart of the GUI.  It is tile based like WP7.  You can slide left and right.  Each tile = an app.  Each tile displays current info from that app.  You can do the usual pinch to zoom in and out.

Meanwhile: “Starting at 8PM today, Seattle time, you can download all of the code that attendees at BUILD received. This includes 32 or 64 bit x86 builds, with or without development tools. The releases also include a suite of sample/SDK applications and the SDK (please note these are merely illustrations of potential apps, not apps that we intend to ship with Windows 8). The ISOs are linked to from You download with a Windows Live ID (which you might want to use to test out some of the new roaming features)”.

Ohh XBox Live appears to be built in, just like with Windows Phone 7.  We see a news app and how you can read using scroll.  Then we see video play and how to use touch and swipe to manage it.  This is the same paragliding video as in the online video from a few months ago.  Now we navigate through a few apps, and dock a running app using the side-by-side feature (requires high res screen not on many slate PCs at the moment).  This docking shows of Windows multitasking.

IE9 is metro based.  It has the touch interface, bringing it up with the competition.  There is no “window”.  Sinofsky cracks a “chrome free browsing experience” joke.  Delayed laugh as people get it.  Selecting text looks smoother than I’m used to on iPad.  You can pop out “charms” (new lingo) on the right to get your app to do other things, like interact with another app, e.g. select text and IM it to a friend.  Apparently the apps can use “contracts” to do this.

Spell checking has been added to all of Windows now, apparently.

Search is up next.  This is kind of like the iPad experience.  You can search the local device, or expand into Bing.  I guess that can be changed using a plugin to keep the DOJ and the EU happy.  We see how internet searches can be filtered, e.g. Tweets … might be something to do with a recent search contract between MSFT and Twitter. 

We see how pictures are presented.  Kind of like Media Center scrolling.  We can browse photos on the cloud too.  I wonder if Flickr will integrate?  It would be a good move.  And we just saw a tweet from Windows 8 with no apparent Twitter app. 

We see an unmarked ARM based tablet with the whole touch interface, and we can see that the changes that were made on the first demo PC are synced via the cloud (Live).

  • Fast and fluid: move quickly, touch/keyboard/mouse
  • Immersive and full screen.  It’s Windows with no windows.
  • Touch-first with full keyboard and mouse.  You choose the UI you want.
  • Web of apps working together
  • Experience for all PC devices and architectures: no compromises across new platforms: slate, PC, laptop, or tablet.

Building Apps for Windows 8

This is for the devs.  HTML, Javascript, C, C++, C#, and VB are the development languages.  I’ll leave it at that Smile  I’m taking a quick break from blogging while Visual Studio 11 is demonstrated.

Note: The press got a sneak peek of Windows 8 and some briefings over the previous weekend.

Nice demo of sharing a picture to a social website.  Again, it’s just by using a Charm.  The dev did this with 4 lines of code.

If you develop an app and want to sell it on Marketplace, you can give people an X day trial if you want.  Publishing an app is “like ordering pizza” online.  You can see the process and where your app is in it.

The marketplace is called Windows Store.  Designed to be simple.  There is a spotlight section to highlight new or noteworthy apps or themes (of apps).  Then you have app categories.  You can browse, search, filter (paid, free, etc), and sort.  Looks better than WP7 marketplace.  Looking at an app is like in iTunes: descriptions and screenshots.  The app is installed with a click.  Now we see Quicken, a traditional app, that is available on the Store.  You don’t have to rewrite apps for Metro to sell them on the Store.

They get across the “reuse your knowledge” message by showing a quick “port” of code to a Metro style Windows 8 app, and then get it running on Windows Phone 7.  Any HTML/Javascript/C#/XAML app will run on x86, x64, and ARM.

This could be a 400,000,000 market by the time Windows 8 launches.

Hardware Platform

Michael Anguilo

Battery life and fast boot are the big wants.  We have everything from slim ARM tablets to big powerful x64 workstations.  UEFI full boot is almost quicker than the fans in the PC or the monitor.  We see an in-market Windows 7 PC boot up Windows 8 in 8 seconds.  A UEFI machine checks the boot volume, and sees if there’s a root kit.  If there is, you are warned.  Defender gives built in anti-malware including antivirus. 

We now see some ARM hardware.  We can see a live power measurement of a “connected standby”.  It’s like it’s on but it’s not, saving power when not being used by the user.  Power on is like an iPad, and see the power jump up.  And you “power it off” the same way.  ARM Windows 8 looks just as fast to me.  We also see an Intel Atom tablet too.  Intel get some warm fuzzy love Smile  We are shown the new file file with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 to get a comparison.  Now we see a ninja with water cooling and 3 Nvidia GPUs, with some massive computing power in the terraflop range.  This PC is friggin huge.  Everything in Windows has h/w accelerated graphics now, taken from the concept of IE9. 

16*9 screen ration is the way to go for Windows 8, e.g. 1366*768 for side-by-side, with no compromises.  You can use less than this, but you lose functionality.

In a tablet we see accelerometer and gyro for all sorts of interaction, e.g. games.  The demo app uses 3 lines of code for this.  The near field sensor (NFD) uses an antenna to allow a tablet/PC to quickly interact with other devices or transfer data, e.g. a swipe card.  A lot of work done to improve the 3G wifi and hotspot wifi experience. 

The Intel Ultrabook can wake from sleep as quick as you can open the lid.  Core Intel processor and thin.  We see a Toshiba super light machine too, 2.5 lbs.  Toshiba had to put bumps in for RJ45 and VGA connectors because it is so slim.  A slate is opened, and we can see the battery is bigger than the computer by about 10%.

Samsung slate machine is shown.  We know about the CNET leak by now …. waiting … waiting … 5,000 of them were made to share with the delegates Smile

  • i5 CPU
  • 1366 *768 display
  • 4 GB DDR3
  • 64 GB SSD
  • Sensors,USB, micro SD, HDMI, Pen
  • Dock w/ USB, HDMI, Ethernet
  • 11.6” diagonal, 909 gram, 12.9mm thick

Images with the developer preview of Windows 8, tools, and recovery environment.  Can run dual monitor from the dock, which also charges.

Integrated support for a broad range of new mobile peripherals.

Professional Platform

Dual monitors, mouse, keyboard, etc.  Is Windows 8 still relevant?  Yes.  You can enter a PIN to log in.  On the lock screen, there is a subtle warning about when your machine will reboot to install updates.  We see the whole Metro UI via mouse.  A new Task Manager is shown by Sinofsky.  It looks like a SysInternals tool.  Much more information right up front.  Processes is finally the first tab.  The Windows Key allows you to snap between Explorer (old Windows UI) and the Start Screen.

You can refresh your PC to reset the OS.  The PC settings will be reset.  You apps and data are kept.  Nasty plugins and toolbars are bye-bye.  It’s like a factory reset that keeps your customisations.  You can prep your machine, and baseline it too.  That’s now a reset point.

Windows Assessment Console is like a more usable perform.  You can compare a machine from one baseline to current, or one machine to another. 

There is a Metro style Remote Desktop app.  The demo remotes into the Start Screen of another PC.  Touch is available over RDP.  Remote Charms are available, and you have a virtual keyboard too. 

Hyper-V on the client … requires a SLAT capable x64 processor.  Dynamic Memory is there.  We can mount an ISO or a VHD file in Explorer. 

Big applause for the addition of an “up” button in Windows Explorer to help us bypass the dreaded breadcrumb trail.  Your desktop background can span multiple monitors.  Needs some big megapixel pictures!!!  You can make apps in monitor 2 showing in the taskbar on monitor 2.  Quite clever.  New instances of an app appear in the same window as the current one.  The Start Screen appears on your main monitor.  Explorer appears on the other screen.  I must admit that this is peculiar looking.  You can just type CMD to search for CMD.EXE.  Already seeing my first desired change request on the right-click to elevate.  CTRL K to clone an IE10 tab, CTRO T to create a new tab.  You can go to the traditional desktop frame (window) in IE 10.

There are different styles of virtual keyboard for tablets, and there is an ink interface that knows the difference between a pen and your hand.  You can sync your PC settings using your Live ID.  This is a welcome feature of the OS.  An app can request to roam its settings.

Cloud Services

Chris Jones to talk about Windows Live for Windows 8.  They rewrote all of their apps for Windows 8 Metro UI.  All of your mail accounts can be visible in one place.  Metro style calendar looks really nice.  Might be the best I’ve seen yet.  Very clear.  Shared calendars appear here too.  It has a connected address book, like on Windows Phone 7.  LinkedIn, Facebook, home email, all contacts appearing in one place and merged.  Photos is a cloud powered app.  It appears to know about SkyDrive, Facebook, and Flickr because they were configured for Live, not just for Photo.  The nice Metro UI allows you to browser through all of them.  I like this (being an amateur photographer).  I wonder if/how they will merge this with Windows Home Server?  Wow, he traverses firewalls to browse photos on his work PC via the Live cloud.  No sign-ins in the demo.  The charms process makes it a snap to select and email photos.  Sinofsky pushes the idea of the devs leveraging SkyDrive storage.  SkyDrive browsing of remote files is handy.  Any Live ID connected device can be browsed.  Security officers: you can crap yourselves now Smile

A photo is taken on WP7.  It is connected to SkyDrive.  The photo is now (supposed to be) visible on a PC (demo Gods didn’t smile). 

The Live stuff isn’t being released yet.  Understandable; they’ll have to wait for Windows to reach a certain stage before they can code/test for it.

There are hundreds of other features we didn’t see today. 

Windows 8 Developer Preview –> Beta –> RC –> RTM –> GA.  More updates along the way.  Same path as Windows 7, which worked very well.  The project is “driven by quality, not a date”.  The developer preview will be updated as it goes along.  We get bug and security fixes, and MSFT gets to test their update mechanism. 

Developers: Windows 8 is not a secret now.  It is up to you to stay relevant with your customers.  Keynote over.

Now I want to know if I can get VLC and Kindle to work on Windows 8 for my plane ride home next weekend.  The challenge to Microsoft: keep my iPad powered down Smile

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