The Windows Store currently has more than 1,000 apps ready for download, but all of these apps were published by pre-approved developers. Today, that changes. Microsoft has opened up the floodgates, allowing any developer to submit his or her Windows 8 app for certification and publication in the Windows Store.
Developers in more than 120 markets (up from the previous 38) can submit their apps for inclusion in first-ever app marketplace on a Windows operating system. While Microsoft normally charges an annual fee for access – $49 for individuals or $99 for companies – there are also a number of ways to get complementary access, such as MSDN subscriptions, BizSpark, and the DreamSpark program for students.
If you’re not a developer, this means that you’ll soon be able to download many, many new apps for your brand new Windows 8 PC or tablet. With just over six weeks until the big Windows 8 launch, the number of app submissions is sure to skyrocket.
The final version of Windows 8 has been finalized and it’s on its way to OEMs. One of the many manufacturers looking to take advantage of Windows 8’s touch-friendly UI is Lenovo, which plans to release a new tablet – tentatively known as the Thinkpad Tablet 2 – this fall.
The Chinese manufacturer hasn’t officially announced the device, but the specs have found their way online for everyone to see. We’re looking at a 10.1-inch tablet running at a resolution of 1366 x 768 with anti-glare technology. Internally, it’s powered by a dual-core Atom processor, which means it’ll run Windows 8 32-bit, not the ARM-based Windows RT. Other features include an 8MP camera with auto-focus and flash, a 2MP front facing camera with 720p HD video, 2GB of RAM, 64GB of internal memory, ten hours of battery life, a dual-array microphone with noise cancelation, and stereo speakers. Lenovo also has a wide variety of optional add-ons such as a pen, fingerprint reader with NFC, and HSPA+.
For the full specs, check out the images after the break.
The exciting Microsoft Surface tablet will be available for purchase on October 26, according to Microsoft’s US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing. The tablet will go on sale on the same day as Windows 8, fulfilling Microsoft’s promise to release the ARM-based version of the Surface around the time of Windows 8’s General Availability (GA).
Microsoft plans to sell the Surface exclusively in Microsoft stores for an as-yet-unannounced price. It will, however, “be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet.” The same goes for the Surface Pro, which will be similar in pricing to an Intel Ultrabook-class PC when it is released 90 days after the Surface. In other words, a $500-$1,000 range for the whole Surface lineup probably isn’t too far-fetched.
The question now is whether or not to pick up an ARM-based Surface or wait for the Intel-based Surface Pro, which is a full-fledged PC.
Microsoft has announced that the first Windows 8 tablets and PCs will hit stores on Friday, October 26, 2012. Steven Sinofsky, the President of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft, announced the operating system’s release date at Microsoft’s annual sales meeting earlier today.
Windows 8 is a major milestone for Microsoft, representing the company’s first operating system designed specifically for touch devices like tablets. Previous versions of Windows were touch-capable, but they often suffered because the OS wasn’t designed with touch in mind. The Metro-style interface found in Windows 8 is an enormous leap forward, bringing together the best of what Microsoft has to offer.
Of course, if you already have a Windows-based tablet, you’ll be able to purchase an upgrade copy for just $15 on recently-acquired devices or $40 on older machines. The unanswered question on everyone’s mind, however, is whether or not the Microsoft Surface tablet will be released on launch day. The Intel-based version, known as the Surface Pro, is expected to be released 90 days after its ARM-based companion.
Microsoft has released another update for its SkyDrive for Windows desktop application, the second since its initial beta release in late April. Most of the changes in this update – version 16.4.6003.0710 – affect how the app syncs your files in the background. It does, however, have a few consumer-facing improvements like an updated status window and a few visual changes such as the new logo (pictured above), as well as the ability to “view sync problems” and “report a problem.”
As part of this release, Microsoft has added the SkyDrive for Windows desktop app to the Windows Store, making it even easier to find the Redmond giant’s cloud sync service. Unlike the Metro-style SkyDrive app, this Windows Store listing takes you directly to the SkyDrive website to download the app, since it’s based on the traditional x86/x64 architecture.
Unfortunately, SkyDrive for Windows desktop will only work on Intel-based Windows 8 tablets and PCs. The ARM-based version of Windows 8 – Windows RT - doesn’t support the installation of desktop applications, so those users will be required to use the SkyDrive Metro-style app.
Speaking to an audience of assembled manufacturers, developers, press, and other industry folks at the first of three Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) keynotes, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer noted that “Surface is just a design point.” In the weeks since the Surface announcement, many have wondered whether Microsoft is opening fire on its hardware partners by selling its own PCs. Ballmer’s statement, however, aims to set the record straight.
“Surface is just a design point. It will have a distinct place in what’s a broad Windows ecosystem. And the importance of the thousands of partners that we have that design and produce Windows computers will not diminish. We have a mutual goal with our OEM partners to bring a diversity of solutions, Windows PCs, phones, tablets, servers to market. And what we seek to have is a spectrum of stunning devices, stunning Windows devices. So, every consumer, every business customer can say, ‘I have the perfect PC for me.’ … We’re excited about the work our OEM partners are doing on Windows 8.”
Now, of course, Ballmer would say something like that at a conference targeted at its partners, but it’s also accurate. The Surface will only be sold through Microsoft Stores, as previously revealed, and the Redmond-based company’s goal is to sell “a few million” devices before the end of the year. This leaves plenty of room for Windows 8 and Windows RT devices from Microsoft’s longstanding partners. Surface is exciting, but it’s merely a jumping off point for the next generation of computing devices running Windows.
The best tablets are often based on ARM processors, rather than Intel-based ones, but if you happen to have a Windows 7 tablet lying around, you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that Microsoft plans to sell Windows 8 Pro upgrades for as little as $39.99 at launch. This price tag is significantly cheaper than previous versions of Windows, despite the fact that Windows 8 is arguably the biggest revision of Microsoft’s OS in the history of the company – or, at least, since Windows 95.
When Windows 8 is released this fall, PCs running any consumer (e.g. not Enterprise) version Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 in one of 131 markets will be eligible for a $39.99 upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, the best version of Windows 8 available to consumers. This special pricing, however, will only apply to orders purchased through Windows.com. Store-bought shrink-wrapped DVD copies of Windows 8 Pro will retail for a slightly more expensive $69.99, which is still a bargain compared to past OSes. Best, of all, Microsoft is changing its position on Windows Media Center and offering it as a free add-on to everyone who purchases a copy of Windows 8 Pro.
Hewlett-Packard’s computing division has been very indecisive as of late, so it should come as no surprise that the company is once again making some odd choices. This time, it’s the decision to opt out of Windows RT tablet and instead solely manufacture tablets running the traditional version of Windows 8.
This decision, the company claims, is based on customer feedback. “The robust and established ecosystem of [Intel-based Windows] applications provides the best customer experience at this time and in the immediate future,” said a company spokesperson.
This is actually true, from an application compatibility perspective. Windows 8 is based on Intel architecture, so it is fully compatible with legacy desktop applications like Office, Photoshop, etc. Windows RT, on the other hand, does not support desktop apps, encouraging the use of Microsoft’s new Metro-style apps on Windows 8 tablets. This might seem like a disadvantage, but ARM-based tablets which support Windows RT will have a longer battery life, faster performance, and do not require the use of fans to cool down the machine. In other words, they’re like an iPad or Android tablet, rather than your traditional tablet PC.
HP’s decision is both good and bad, depending on how you look at it. The optimal route, however, would be to sell both types of tablets. One aimed at consumers who want a true tablet experience and the other aimed at people who want the best of both worlds: full backwards compatibility in a tablet form factor. This is the route Microsoft chose to go with its Surface tablets. That’s not to say that HP won’t create a Windows RT tablet – the company just won’t have one right out of the gate.
Microsoft is officially in the hardware game, folks! The company’s major announcement is none other than its own line of PCs, which have been designed to perfectly blend tablets and laptops. The Surface is, at its most basic level, a 10.6-inch tablet with a kickstand, pen, and magnetically attachable cover. This cover, however, also doubles as a multitouch keyboard and trackpad, allowing you to turn the device into a full-fledged laptop.
There will be two different versions of the Surface at launch (ARM-based or Intel-based), each with two options for internal storage (32GB/64GB or 64GB/128GB, respectively). The Intel Surface is slightly larger and has better specs than its companion, but that’s because it runs Windows 8 Pro and includes full backwards compatibility for desktop applications. The ARM Surface, on the other hand, comes with Office 2013 RT preinstalled and doesn’t require the use of fans.
The Surface is very impressive, especially for Microsoft’s first-ever computer. Exact pricing and availability haven’t been revealed yet, but it’s expected to launch around the release of Windows 8 at a competitive price point. Only time will tell whether Microsoft has a hit on its hands, but we certainly think so.
Microsoft has started teasing a “major announcement,” which is scheduled for Monday, June 18. According to the invite email, “this will be a major Microsoft announcement – you will not want to miss it.” The media event will take place in Los Angeles, California at 3:30 p.m.
The topic of the event is under wraps, which has led to much speculation. Will we finally learn more details about Xbox Music, which was first revealed at E3 earlier this month? The Windows Phone Summit is just two days after this event, so Microsoft might be trying to make the announcement ahead of the big Windows Phone 8 reveal. Then again, it could be related the Windows Phone 8 OS itself–which would be odd, considering the timing of the summit–or Windows 8 tablets. The latter is more likely, in this case.