Thursday, September 29, 2011

Windows 8 Release Date

We can expect Windows 8 to be launched sometime in mid-late 2012, however, it’s too early to predict the Windows 8 release date, since it is still under development. Nevertheless, the only question that haunts each and every one of us – Will Windows 8 win the battle against Apple which it had lost several years back?

Windows 8 User Interface

Speaking about the UI, Windows 8 certainly has got a mind blowing interactive UI, which has been extensively redesigned to a “Metro-style” design, which shows the most important information to you, embodies simplicity, and gives you full control over it. The UI is designed to provide a fluid and intuitive interaction and navigation with touch, or a mouse and keyboard.

Julie Larson-Green, Corporate Vice President, Windows who stated: “Everything that’s great about Windows 7, is better in Windows 8,” gave a quick hands on look at the Windows 8 user-interface. Here are some of the screenshots she released:

Windows Logon Screen – Unlike the traditional way of entering a password to unlock the screen, Windows 8 can be unlocked by just tapping on the right areas of the screen.

Windows 8 Start Screen – The Start screen is yet another impressive UI. The screen basically groups all your applications together, which you can easily drag and drop, or add new things.

Control Panel

Windows 8 Task Manager

Playing Videos in Windows 8


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Faster Boot Times in Windows 8

A new entry in the “Building Windows 8″ blog has been published, titled “Delivering Fast Boot Times in Windows 8″. He recognizes that boot time is one of the features most discussed about, and says the Windows division wants your boot to be as fast as possible. It comes as a welcome addition to the information that we’ve been given about Windows 8 – Windows 7 and its predecessors seem like lightyears behind Apple products in terms of booting up. I’m sure that everyone reading this post has encountered long periods of frustration as your computer restarts in what seems like an eternity.

He displays this new need for a faster startup time with two graphs:

This means that on average on nearly every Windows 7 device (I’m assuming no tablet inclusion) 51% of all power transitions are shutting down, which really outlines the importance of improving this feature.
Their solution?
A new hybrid combination of the tradition  cold bootup and resuming from hibernate.
An explanation of shutting down and boot, worded excellently by Mr. Sinofsky, is in order:
  1. The user initiates a shutdown by selecting “shut down” from the Start menu, or by pressing the power button; or an application initiates shutdown by calling an API such as ExitWindowsEx() or InitiateShutdown().
  2. Windows broadcasts messages to running applications, giving them a chance to save data and settings. Applications can also request a little extra time to finish what they’re doing.
  3. Windows closes the user sessions for each logged on user.
  4. Windows sends messages to services notifying them that a shutdown has begun, and subsequently shuts them down. It shuts down ordered services that have a dependency serially, and the rest in parallel. If a service doesn’t respond, it is shut down forcefully.
  5. Windows broadcasts messages to devices, signaling them to shut down.
  6. Windows closes the system session (also known as “session 0”).
  7. Windows flushes any pending data to the system drive to ensure it is saved completely.
  8. Windows sends a signal via the ACPI interface to the system to power down the PC.
And boot:
  1. After pressing the power button, the PC’s firmware initiates a Power-On Self Test (POST) and loads firmware settings. This pre-boot process ends when a valid system disk is detected.
  2. irmware reads the master boot record (MBR), and then starts Bootmgr.exe. Bootmgr.exe finds and starts the Windows loader (Winload.exe) on the Windows boot partition.
  3. Essential drivers required to start the Windows kernel are loaded and the kernel starts to run, loading into memory the system registry hive and additional drivers that are marked as BOOT_START.
  4. The kernel passes control to the session manager process (Smss.exe) which initializes the system session, and loads and starts the devices and drivers that are not marked BOOT_START.
  5. Winlogon.exe starts, the user logon screen appears, the service control manager starts services, and any Group Policy scripts are run. When the user logs in, Windows creates a session for that user.
  6. Explorer.exe starts, the system creates the desktop window manager (DWM) process, which initializes the desktop and displays it.
The thing to remember is that in a traditional shutdown, the user sessions are closed and in the kernel session services and devices are closed to prepare for shutdown. In Windows 8, they close the user session but instead of closing the kernel session, it is hibernated. Hibernation basically means saving the system state and memory on disk (hiberfil.sys), and then reading that back on resume. Pairing it with boot gives a boost for boot times, since reading the hiberfile and reinitializing drivers is faster on most systems they’ve tested. Here are some helpful graphs for those of you skimming past the words:


Friday, September 23, 2011

Windows 8 Beta Version News

Tuesday, September 13, was an important day in the history of the computer industry, as an industry giant showed off its true mettle. The day will be remembered world over as on this very day, Microsoft launched the beta version of the Windows 8 operating system on a Samsung tablet. The occasion was the just concluded Build Professional Developers Conference, which was held in Anaheim, California from September 13-16, 2011

This beta version was specially launched for developers so that they could have a hands-on experience with the platform and start working on developing useful apps for this operating system.

With the beta version now released, the final version of Windows 8 is expected to come by the fall of next year. This new change is going to be a major one, as Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows Division of Microsoft said, “Things are a lot different than in 1995, the last time Windows went through a major change.”

With the beta version of Windows 8 launched, the question that comes is what is new this time around. It is obvious that the new operating system has end number of enticing features. Windows 8 not just works for PCs (desktops and laptops), but also for tablets. Windows 8 also has a Metro interface that till now can only be seen in Windows Phone 7 and XBOX 360 Dashboard. Windows 8 has been specially designed for touchscreens and that’s the reason why it will be able to work perfectly on tablet PCs. Another significant feature of this OS is its amazing speed. Windows 8 can boot up in merely eight seconds. Not to mention, the Metro UI launches apps within no time.

With these and much more features, Windows 8 is billed by developers who attended the conference to throw everyone else out of the competition. Let us wait till the full version comes out.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

How to Test Drive Windows 8 in VirtualBox

Want to take the next generation of Windows for a free test drive? Of course you do; it’s still got that new car smell. Read on to see how you can combine the Windows 8 developer release with VirtualBox for free next-gen OS exploration.

What You’ll Need

You only need a few things for this tutorial and all of them—the price of good hardware aside!—are free and readily available. Before we get started you’ll need to do:

Download and install and/or update VirtualBox.

Download a copy of the Windows 8 Developer Preview.

On the hardware side of things you’ll need a computer with a processor that supports Virtualization Technology (common on modern processors, you can check the documentation for your processor or use this Microsoft tool to check), a decent amount of memory and some spare hard drive space (we’ll be devoting 2GB of RAM and 20GB of HDD space to the our Windows 8 virtual machine). You could attempt it with lower specs, but we’d recommend against it.

We’ll also be using the 32-bit (x86) English Developer Preview. Once you’ve installed VirtualBox (or updated your current install) and you’ve downloaded the .ISO file, it’s time to proceed.

Creating and Configuring a New VirtualBox Virtual Machine for Windows 8

VirtualBox makes virtual machine creation easy; just make sure to follow along so you don’t miss a step. Fire up VirtualBox and navigate to Machine –> New. Click next on the new virtual machine notice window and then, as seen in the screenshot below, name your new virtual machine and select the OS type. We named ours Windows 8 Dev (to distinguish it from the future Windows 8 Beta and Final we’re bound to install) and set the OS type to Microsoft Windows / Windows 7.

In the next step you’ll select the system RAM you’ll allocate to the machine. We’d recommend allocating, at minimum, 2GB of RAM. You can squeeze by with only 1GB but unless your system specs absolutely constrain you to that size you should go bigger for better performance. 

Once you’ve selected the amount of memory you wish to allocate, you’ll be prompted to load or create a Virtual Hard Disk. The default settings are the ones we want (Boot Hard Disk and Create new hard disk selected).

 Click Next and the Virtual Disk Wizard will launch. The first step in the wizard is to select your disk storage type. Your options are dynamic or fixed storage. We’re going to go with Fixed-size storage for two reasons—one, this is a development build and we’re not sure if it will play nice with dynamic storage and two, the fixed size ensures it won’t balloon up if anything goes wrong.

 The Microsoft spec sheet for the Windows 8 Development Release indicates you need at least 16 GB of hard drive space. That’s a tad on the small side and we hate running low on space. Since we’re using a 500GB drive in our machine exclusively for virtual machines and software testing, we can easily allocate 30GB to play it safe. We’d recommend you set the size to 20GB at minimum. 

After you pick the drive size, double check the summary before clicking Finish. Sit back and relax while your new Virtual Hard Drive is generated—now might be a good time for a cup of coffee.

When your new Virtual Hard Drive is complete, click Finish to return to the main VirtualBox interface. Now it’s time to move onto the next step, installing Windows 8 Developer Preview onto our freshly minted Virtual Hard Disk.
Installing Windows 8 Developer Preview
Back in the main VirtualBox window you should see the entry you created, such as Windows 8 Dev—ignore the multitude of other installations in our screenshot, we’re huge Virtualization fans.
Highlight your new Windows 8 machine and click the Settings icon (or press CTRL+S). Let’s work down the sidebar menu.
First stop in the System menu. Start with the Motherboard sub-menu and check Enable IO APIC to improve performance for your virtual machine. In the Processor sub-menu check Enable PAE/NX (again, to boost performance). Finally under the Acceleration sub-menu make sure both of the hardware virtualization boxes are checked—VT-x/AMD-V andNested Paging, respectively.
Now it’s time to attach our boot disk to the virtual machine so we can install Windows 8. While still in the greater Settings menu navigate to the Storage options via the sidebar. Inside the storage menu, click on the IDE Controller\Empty entry in the Storage Tree. In the pane next to the storage tree labeled Attributes, click on the CD icon next to the CD/DVD Drive entry.
A context menu will pop up. The first option on that context menu is Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file. Select that option and, when the file select box opens, navigate to and select the Windows 8 .ISO file you downloaded at the beginning of this tutorial. You should now see, instead of Empty under the IDE Controller, the name of the Windows 8 .ISO file you selected.
There are no more tweaks necessary in the Settings menu. Click OK in the lower right corner to return to the main VirtualBox interface.

Installing Windows 8


Back in main VirtualBox interface, click on the Windows 8 virtual machine. Quickly double check that the Windows 8 .ISO is listed under the storage options—as it is in the screenshot above—then click Start in the right-click context menu or double click the entry to launch the machine.
If everything goes right, you’ll see a sequence of boot screens, and then this blue installation screen:
Select the appropriate language, time, and input settings, and then click next. On the following screen click Install Now. The whole installation, now that the VirtualBox configuration is out of the way, is very straight forward. Accept the developer’s license, select Custom installation (instead of upgrade), the HDD you want to install to (the only one available, the disk you created) and you’re on your way:
When it finishes and reboots you’ll have a few last customizations to make (such as picking a computer name, login, and choosing to link your fresh Windows 8 install to a Windows Live account or use an off-line account. When you’re done, it’ll take a moment to finish preparing everything and then you’ll be greeted with the new Windows 8 Metro UI:
Congratulations! You’re running Windows 8 Developer Preview in VirtualBox. Have fun playing around and, if you discover something new, interesting, or fun, sound off in the comments so your fellow readers can discover and play with it too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Windows 8 Wallpapers

Shine Blue Window 8 Wallpaper

Lines Blue Window 8 wallpaper

Crystal Blue Windows 8 Wallpaper

White Steps Windows 8 Wallpaper

Mix Blue Windows 8 Wallpaper

Monday, September 19, 2011

Windows 8 Themes for Windows 7

We have added more Windows 8 themes. The following theme is a dark shell theme inspired by Windows 8:

And a new Windows 8 transformation pack for Windows 7:

Windows 8 Themepack Themes For Windows 7



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