Windows 8 Details, Acer Agreement, Cloud Outage Marked Microsoft's Week

Microsoft offered more Windows 8 details, the release of Dynamics AX 2012 and more Android agreements this week. It also suffered a cloud outage.

Microsoft's week involved even more Windows 8 revelations, a cloud outage and a continuation of its push against Android.

So far this week, Microsoft's Building Windows 8 blog has offered glimpses of Windows 8's support for Hyper-V and faster boot times.

In a video embedded in the blog's Sept. 8 posting, a Windows team member (identified onscreen as Emily Wilson, program manager for the Kernel Platform Group) activates a laptop loaded with Windows 8. It takes a little over eight seconds, from the time she hits the power button, for Windows 8's colorful tiles to appear. Just to ensure the laptop's starting from a zero-power state, she inserts the battery before turning on the device.

Gabe Aul, a director of program management for Windows, suggested in the posting that Windows 8's "new fast startup mode" will work as "a hybrid of traditional cold boot and resuming from hibernate." That could appeal to both consumers and professionals who place a good deal of emphasis on how fast their desktops and laptops can power up.

On the developer side of the equation, Microsoft is working to ensure Windows 8 enables Hyper-V, which will give machines the ability to virtually run multiple 32-bit or 64-bit x86 operating systems at the same time-a useful tool for developers who need to switch between multiple test environments. Hyper-V originally emerged as technology integrated with Windows Server, from which it's now trickling down to the client OS level.

Windows 8 is scheduled to arrive sometime in 2012, but Microsoft is clearly ramping up its awareness campaign well ahead of the release. At its BUILD conference, scheduled to kick off Sept. 13 in Anaheim, Calif., Microsoft will reveal even more details about the operating system. Current rumors suggest that conference attendees could receive a Samsung-built, quad-core tablet running an early build of Windows 8, but that has yet to be confirmed.

This week, Microsoft also announced that two new manufacturers, Acer and Viewsonic, have entered into licensing agreements over Android. Redmond insists that Google's operating system violates certain key patents, and has pursued a two-pronged strategy over the past several quarters to those manufacturers producing Android tablets and smartphones: either enter into a royalty-paying agreement with us, or risk a significant lawsuit.

The agreement between Microsoft and Viewsonic stipulates the latter will pay royalties for its tablets and mobile phones running Google Android or Chrome. The one with Acer stipulates payments for tablets and smartphones running Android. No exact financial terms were disclosed by Microsoft.

"We are pleased that Acer is taking advantage of our industrywide licensing program established to help companies address Android's IP issues," Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing at Microsoft, wrote in a Sept. 8 statement. "This agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercially reasonable arrangements that address intellectual property."

Some manufacturers, including Motorola Mobility and Barnes & Noble, have chosen to fight Microsoft in court rather than enter into licensing agreements. Google recently agreed to acquire Motorola Mobility for some $12.5 billion, but it remains to be seen how that will affect the ongoing legal battle with Redmond.

The rest of Microsoft's week focused on the cloud. On Sept. 8, the company released Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, its enterprise resource planning (ERP) application with integrated cloud offerings-in particular, the Rapid Start, Payment and Commerce services available via Windows Azure.

In order to provide a competitive differentiator from its aggressive and well-funded rivals in the business software arena, including Google and Oracle, Microsoft is emphasizing how Dynamics AX 2012 interoperates with its existing software, such as Office. That being said, the cloud aspects could prove as great a customer draw, particularly for companies interested in layering public cloud services into a private cloud or on-premises deployment.

Even as it ramped up a part of its business cloud, the consumer side of Microsoft's online services experienced a little bit of a hiccup.

"If you've been trying to use Hotmail, SkyDrive, or our other Live properties for the last couple of hours, you may have noticed problems accessing our services," Chris Jones, senior vice president for Windows Live, wrote in a posting on The Windows Blog. "We're aware of these issues and actively working to resolve them."

By 11:49 PT, he provided an update to his posting: "We have completed propagating our DNS [Domain Name System] configuration changes around the world, and have restored service for most customers."

A Microsoft spokesperson later told eWEEK that the downtime was due to a DNS issue "causing service degradation for multiple services."

Not that it will likely dissuade consumers' and businesses' slow but steady migration to the cloud.

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