Microsoft's week saw fresh rumors of Windows 8 features, the ramp-up to next week's MIX11 conference, and the unveiling of Office for Mac 2011 SP1 and Bing for the iPad.
Windows 8: Now
with a ribbon!
That might as
well have been the subtitle for Microsoft's week, after two prominent bloggers
posted screen-shots and a description of what they described as an early build
of the next version of Windows, often referred to in the press as "Windows 8."
(Microsoft officials remains tight-lipped about any plans regarding Windows,
unsurprising when you consider they're still trying to sell Windows 7.)
and Paul Thurrott, in a series of postings on Rivera's Within Windows
blog, described how
that early build of Windows 8 integrates an Office-style ribbon interface into
Windows Explorer, complete with tools for viewing libraries, manipulating
images and managing drive assets.
current pre-release builds we've seen, the Ribbon is a serious work in progress
and is quite unattractive," they wrote. "It's unclear whether Microsoft intends
to move forward with this UI as-is, or whether it will appear only in certain
The pair also
included a screenshot of an early Windows 8 unlock windows, which harkens to
the "Metro" design style already present in Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft is silent on its roadmap for Windows, the company has made it very
clear that it intends the next version of the operating system to support SoC
(system-on-a-chip) architecture, in particular ARM-based systems from partners
such as Qualcomm, Nvidia and Texas Instruments. In turn, that would give
Microsoft increased leverage for porting Windows onto tablets and more mobile
form factors, currently the prime market for ARM offerings.
Windows blog also documented, at least in the Windows 8 early builds, a
built-in PDF reader and "immersive" user interface that embraces the same Metro
aesthetic, complete with Windows Phone-style tiles. According to the bloggers,
the latter would serve "as an alternative to the more mainstream Aero and Aero
Lite [formerly Aero Basic] UIs."
Microsoft continued to push Windows Phone 7 ahead of its MIX11
conference, which starts April 12 in
Las Vegas. That comes as new
numbers from analytics firm comScore
suggest that Microsoft's share of the
smartphone market dipped to 7.7 percent for the three months ending in February.
That's down from 9 percent in November 2010, and enough to place Windows Phone
far behind Google Android, Apple's iOS and Research In Motion's BlackBerry
plans on delivering a beta of Silverlight 5 at MIX11, which could ease some
third-party developers' fears that the company eventually plans on abandoning
the plug-in. Originally released in 2007 as a competitor to Adobe Flash,
Silverlight eventually found a wider calling as the underpinning of many
prominent Web applications, such as the Netflix movie viewer, leading some
developers to expect in turn that it could become a much broader cross-platform
eventually put the brakes on some of that Silverlight evangelism, instead
refocusing its attentions on HTML5 tooling. "Over the coming months, we'll be
particularly demonstrative of our emphasis on HTML5, in Internet Explorer and
in tools," a trio of executives wrote in an April 4 posting on the Silverlight
. "HTML5 is a solution for many scenarios, but developers should
make the appropriate choice based on application needs, knowing that we have a
heritage and a future vision of supporting a wide variety of technologies to
meet those needs."
emphasize Windows Phone 7's third-party developer community and supposed focus
on "quality apps" that MIX11, touting the latter as a viable alternative to
Apple's much-bigger App Store. Even as Microsoft seeks to carve away some of
Apple's market share in the mobile space, the company released a Bing for iPad
application that ports the search engine onto Cupertino's popular tablet.
"Bing for iPad
goes beyond the traditional search experience, offering a unique and visually
rich way to search the Web," read an
April 7 posting
by Zachary Gutt, Bing's lead program manager. "The app is
designed from the ground up for touch. You can quickly browse news, movies,
Bing homepage images, local business lists and much more-all with the swipe of
design includes a home-screen loaded with information on local weather, top
news, maps and stock-market news. Users can also tap on "Trends" to access
information about popular topics. The multiple map-views include road, aerial
and bird's-eye, while allowing the user to save businesses and destinations to
their address book or calendar. The free application also includes voice
also planning on releasing its first service pack for Office for Mac 2011 the
week of April 11. According to an April 6 posting on Microsoft's Office for Mac blog
, Service Pack 1
will offer "increased stability, security and some new features to the suite,"
including improved Outlook syncing support.