Microsoft's week included new glimpses of Windows 8, a new release for Silverlight 5 and more news on Windows Phone.
Microsoft spent much of the past week
beating the drum for two of its biggest projects: Windows 8 and Windows Phone.
Microsoft's official "Building
Windows 8" blog offers a steady stream of updates about the upcoming
operating system's features and user interface. That the postings have
accelerated over the past few days is almost certainly no accident, considering
that the company's BUILD conference, expected to involve some high-profile
reveals of Windows 8's interface, is scheduled to kick off in mid-September.
The past week, Windows and Windows Live
division President Steven Sinofsky insisted via the blog that Windows 8 will prove
equally adept at serving the needs of both tablet and traditional PC users.
"Having both of [the] user interfaces
together harmoniously is an important part of Windows 8," Sinofsky wrote in an
Aug. 31 posting. "Our goal was a no compromise design."
As part of that, he added, Windows 8's
tablet-centric interface peacefully coexists with the desktop one.
"If you don't want to do any of those
-PC' things, then you don't have to and you're not paying for them in memory,
battery life or hardware requirements," he wrote. "If you do want or need this
functionality, then you can switch to it with ease and fluidity because Windows
is right there. Essentially, you can think of the Windows desktop as just
Over the past few weeks, the Building
Windows 8 blog has focused on everything from support for USB 3.0 to Windows
Explorer revisions to the reasoning behind the user interface. Current rumors
also suggest Microsoft could hand out quad-core tablets loaded with a test
version of Windows 8 to BUILD conference attendees. Windows 8 is widely
expected to launch sometime in 2012.
Microsoft is also ramping up for the
release of Windows Phone "Mango," a wide-ranging update to its smartphone
platform. The stakes couldn't be higher: According to fresh data from research
firm Nielsen, Windows Phone owned 1 percent of the U.S. smartphone OS market in
July, lagging Google Android, the Apple iPhone, Research In Motion's BlackBerry
and even the increasingly antiquated Windows Mobile franchise.
This past week, HTC revealed two
Windows Phone devices it apparently plans to release in October: the
Titan and the Radar.
"A lot of you have asked us whether
Mango will support front facing cameras-and now that these HTC phones have been
formally announced, I can confirm officially that Mango does support these,"
Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows Phone program management,
wrote in a Sept. 1 posting on the Windows
Phone Blog. "We've included support for -switching to FFC' for photo/video
shooting into the native camera experience and we've added API support to the
Even as Microsoft touted this new
camera functionality with Mango, it faces a lawsuit-filed the past week in
Seattle federal court by a Windows Phone user-alleging the smartphone camera
software transmits users' location data even after they try to switch that
In addition to pumping its big
releases, Microsoft has issued some smaller-but-significant ones, including a
candidate (RC) of Silverlight 5 and tools
for Python developers.
In other words, it's looking to be a
busy September for Redmond.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.