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All posts tagged "operating system"

Monday, October 31, 2011

Take Five: A Little Diversion Into Hollywood OSes and UIs

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 04:00 PM

"Hollywood has always had a way with the OSes and UIs it shows on the big screen. Sometimes they're so far-fetched, all you can do is laugh, other times they're eerily accurate portrayals of future technology, and then there are the few that just make you jealous with envy. Here are a few of our favorites that Hollywood has given use, but give us some slack on what constitutes an OS or UI...Hollywood isn't always clear about that."

Calling all sci-fi movie buffs. If you have a spare five minutes today, have a look through these memorable screen captures of Hollywood movies portraying interesting user interfaces and magical operating systems. You may remember such favorites as Tron, The Matrix, and Avatar, but what about Minority Report, I, Robot, and Dune. MaximumPC has put together a nice stroll down memory lane. Check out the Read link.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Windows 8: This is the Future of Windows

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 09:48 AM

"Microsoft is welcoming around 5,000 developers to its BUILD conference today to unveil the most significant change in the PC space since Windows 95. "It's a launch," explains Windows chief Steven Sinofsky. "It's a launch of an opportunity for developers. That's a lot, it's a big deal to do today and tomorrow," he says during an opening address to media and analysts in Anaheim California. You sense the sense of excitement in the room and the realisation that Windows 8 is a really big deal for Microsoft, a deal that cannot go wrong."

It's taken years, but Microsoft has finally delivered a truly workable touch-based interface. Check out the video above; the performance is stunning. Everything is smooth and impressively fluid. Yes, this is a developer's build so it's not finished, but seeing performance like this early on is a great indicator of what's to come. Windows 8 is also significantly lighter on resources than Windows 7; Engadget's post says that Windows 7 SP1 required 404 MB of RAM and had 32 processes running. Compare that to Windows 8 using only 281 MB of RAM and having 28 processes - that's big, big improvement.

Are you excited? I'm excited! More coverage here on Business Insider and Engadget.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Windows 8 Sneak Peek: Well This is Different!

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"On Wednesday, Microsoft offered the first glimpse of Windows 8, a sneak peek that reveals much about both the influences and the strategic goals of the major overhaul of Microsoft's 25-year-old operating system. The fundamental goal with the new operating system, which is being shown for the first time at D9, is to create something that is equally well at home on an 8-inch tablet as it is on a powerful desktop attached to a huge monitor."

Microsoft is serious about the Metro UI being part of their product line-up, and we can see that in action in the screen shot above (check out the source article for a high-res image). This looks like what you'd expect it Microsoft transformed Windows Phone 7 into a tablet UI: Live Tiles more appropriate for a device with a big screen, a panoramic pivot view, and some extremely funky colours. I still have severe reservations around the performance and battery life of a tablet running full-blown Windows (even based on ARM), but I'm excited to see Microsoft going after this hard by betting on a radically different UI overlay.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Windows 8 to Support "Portable Workspace" on USB Flash Drives

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 09:42 AM

"An early copy of Windows 8 leaked to the Internet this week and enthusiasts have been digging their way through the various new bits in Microsoft's next-generation operating system. Windows 8 build 7850.0.winmain_win8m1.100922-1508 contains a number of references to a brand new feature in Windows: Portable Workspaces. Microsoft will allow Enterprise customers to create USB storage driven copies of Windows. "Portable Workspace is a Windows feature that allows you to run Windows from a USB storage device," notes Microsoft in its description of the feature inside Windows 8. Users at mydigitallife unveiled the features inside 7850 and discovered that the feature requires at least 16GB of space."

I've been wondering what sorts of new features would be a part of Windows 8, and it looks like we have something truly unique: the ability to create a bootable, portable version of Windows 8 that you can put on a 16 GB or bigger flash drive and do everything from. Lots of questions remain: what sort of functionality will you actually get given when you connect to a different PC you'll be using generic drivers for video, networking, etc.? Still, it's a neat idea with some interesting potential.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

PC Makers Get First Hands-On With Windows 8

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 03:30 PM

"Microsoft has shipped the first test version of Windows 8 to PC makers, according to posts on online forums, which means it's on track for a late 2012 release. Windows 8 is a big deal for Microsoft because it will have special features for tablets -- it will be the first version of the full Windows desktop OS to run on the low-powered ARM processors used in most tablets, and will have a design that works better on touch screens."

Am I crazy, or does Windows 7 still feel "new"? I guess after the massive, painful gap between Windows XP and Windows Vista, anything faster than that is going to feel a bit different - though Windows 7 couldn't come fast enough after Vista. I didn't hate Vista like some people did, but I knew Windows 7 was going to fix a lot of the rough edges around Vista, so I was keenly looking forward to it. Windows 8 coming in late 2012 or 2013 makes sense; Windows 7 came out in October of 2009, so late 2012 would make it three years. Windows 7 is an excellent operating system; I wonder what improvements Windows 8 will bring to the table beyond the tablet improvements? I'm still extremely reluctant to believe that Microsoft can implement a touch-based UI that doesn't feel tacked on. Guess we'll see!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is Your Operating System Outmoded?

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 12:30 PM

"We've come so very far in the way computer operating systems treat us, and in the way we treat those computer operating systems. They multitask, they animate, they reach into the internet and pull down our favorite parts, they rarely crash and they're always on. It's a far cry from a decade ago, but I think we could go so much further.... I think there are serious opportunities for evolution available to the Microsofts, Apples and Ubuntus of the world, but they involve embracing new technologies in new ways. And stealing a ton of ideas from phones."

In an editorial that appears on Engadget, Paul Miller presents 10 "outdated elements" that he feels are keeping current operating systems from being all that they could be - along with a proposed solution for each. I do not think that most of his items are really all that important, but then my idea of an outmoded operating system is illustrated in the picture above! It would certainly be difficult to argue against easier windows management or lower costs, but his other points seem to be non-issues, already have solutions, and/or are pertinent to only certain user groups. Which of his 10 problems do you think seriously need to be fixed - and is the OS the best place to look for such solutions?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Moblin v2.0 Beta for Netbooks Released

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:04 AM

"The Moblin steering committee is happy to release the Moblin v2.0 beta for Netbooks and Nettops for developer testing. With this release, developers can begin to experience and work with the source code of the visually rich, interactive user interface designed for Intel Atom based Netbooks. The Moblin v2.0 user experience has been designed from the ground up to provide unique ways to engage with the internet, aggregate your social networking activity, and enjoy your media content. The new user experience and core applications were developed using the Clutter animation framework, leveraging heavily from GL and the physics engine."

I'm generally not a fan of Linux on netbooks - it always seemed like it was a nice-looking top layer and below that it was ugly and confusing. Even on the HP Mini 1000 Mi Edition, which has a great home screen, I found myself missing my Windows applicatons. If someone is focused almost purely on browser-based applications, a Linux netbook can work quite nicely, but the scenario breaks down as soon as they want to do something that's application based - the lack of iTunes is a deal-breaker for some people. I think that's the main reason why Linux netbooks tend to have higher return rates than Windows-based netbooks. I've downloaded the Moblin 2.0 beta, put it on a USB flash drive, and will take it for a spin...anyone else here used Moblin?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Windows 7 Enhancements

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 03:00 PM

I noticed something new after I'd installed Windows 7 on my HP Mini 1000 and was getting it configured for use: I was downloading a large file (a printer driver) using IE8, and simultaneously copying a large file from my Windows Home Server. When I minimized all the windows (Windows Key+D), the icons on the task bar became progress indicators so you can see at a glance how each process is doing. Slick!

One of the other enhancements I'm impressed with is how high-performance the video driver is: the HP Mini 1000 uses the Intel GMA945, which is generally considered to be a near-worthless GPU in terms of performance. After running Windows Update on a fresh install of Windows 7, a pre-release driver update for the GMA945 is provided. And after installing that driver, I was amazed to see how smooth all the animations were in Windows 7. Everything from hovering over the taskbar icons and getting the window preview, to hovering over the desktop shortcut on the far right of the taskbar; it was all very smooth. Surprisingly, even flipping through Widnows Media Center was fast and smooth. I should note that this is without any significant amount of content in it, but the basic UI navigation was very smooth, which is something that surprised me.

Are you using the Windows 7 release candidate? If so, what are some of your favourite features so far? I keep discovering new things the more I use it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Windows 7 On Track for Holiday Season Release

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 11:02 AM

"Our approach to the development of Windows 7, as we've highlighted in the past, has been tied to people like you around the world contributing in real-time by testing our key Windows 7 milestones - from the Pre-Beta we handed out to PDC attendees last year, to the Windows 7 Beta, and now the Windows 7 RC which we recently released for everyone to try...If the telemetry we receive from the Windows 7 RC meets our expectations in terms of quality, then we expect to hit RTM in 3 months or so. Again, check out Steven's blog post on this process. If this happens, it looks like we'll be able to have Windows 7 done in time for the holidays. I want to underscore that our top priority remains QUALITY. This guidance does not alter that principle."

I recall someone being quite dismissive of my opinion that Windows 7 wouldn't be released until holiday 2009 - he was certain it would be out for back-to-school season - but it looks like my instincts were right. Microsoft's focus on quality is higher with Windows 7 than any previous version of Windows. After the rocky start that Windows Vista had in the market, Microsoft doesn't want to see this repeated with Windows 7. From what I've seen, Windows 7 is shaping up to be a the best version of Windows yet and I'm looking forward to seeing it on some sweet new hardware later this year!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Windows 7 Release Candidate is Out

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:32 AM

"As we previously announced, today the Windows 7 RC is now available for anyone interested in giving it a spin! Typically, a release candidate is the last development milestone before release to manufacturing (RTM), signifying that engineering and development have made significant advancements and that the code is entering the final phases of testing. Essentially, the Windows 7 RC is the result of a lot of the great feedback we received during the Windows 7 Beta. That's why I'm so excited to use it and excited for YOU to use it!"

I'm downloading it right now and will take it for a spin on my HP Mini 1000. I'm looking forward to spending some time with the release candidate, seeing what's changed, etc. My experience with Windows 7 has thus far been very positive. Anyone else taken the RC for a spin yet?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Windows 7 Will Drop Email, Photo, and Video Programs

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Microsoft has decided that Windows 7 won't include built-in programs for e-mail, photo editing, and movie making, as was done with Windows Vista, CNET has learned. The software maker included Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Mail, and Windows Movie Maker as part of Vista, but later chose to offer separate downloadable Windows Live programs that essentially replaced those components with versions that could connect to online services from Microsoft and others. Microsoft told CNET News late Monday that it has decided to remove those features entirely from Windows 7 and instead offer only the service-connected Windows Live versions as optional free downloads. Earlier on Monday, Microsoft had declined to say how it was handling things."

This is risky business for Microsoft. Why? Because there are a lot of Windows users that don't install extra software on thier PC - many people I know use whatever came with their computer, regardless of whether or not there's something better out there for them. Every Apple computer ships with iLife, and now every Windows 7 computer will ship with...nothing? Or perhaps we'll see every OEM select their own email, photo, and video solution - thus creating an even more fragmented PC landscape. That's not a good solution either. I have a slim hope that Microsoft will be able to encourage OEMs to bundle the complete suite of Windows Live products with each computer they ship, or perhaps offer some sort of easy download option...but I still see this as being problematic on a number of levels. What do you think?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Windows 7 Coming in June 2009?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 10:55 AM

"As you may recall, Bill Gates himself mentioned a little ways back that Windows 7 could possibly be arriving as soon as next year, which prompted some quick backtracking on Microsoft's part, but that earlier-than-expected date has now cropped up yet again, this time supposedly in Microsoft's internal calendar. According to, that calendar pegs the planned release date as June 3rd, 2009, which is a good deal sooner than the "early 2010" date we've been hearing all along, and quite a significant cut into Vista's planned three-year lifespan. What's more, the site also says that Microsoft will take advantage of its Professional Developer's Conference on October 27th to launch the first public beta of Windows 7, although that doesn't quite match up with earlier word that it'd only be revealing some "in-depth technical information" about the OS."

There's not a lot to go on here, but this article that Engadget has linked to has a fairly logical trail of bread crumbs that leads to the June 2009 launch date. There's a certain amount of logic in Microsoft pushing hard to get Windows 7 out the door faster than they'd originally planned: they get a chance to fix the issues with Windows Vista, they get to re-position the product with new marketing campaigns, and they force Apple to re-shoot all their smart-ass commercials. ;-) I just hope Microsoft is working on a configuration of Windows 7 that's optimized for small and light devices such as UMPCs and netbooks. Vista is just too big and heavy for small devices.

I'm exceedingly disappointed to see the word "Ultimate" in the above screen shots. I really hope Microsoft doesn't repeat the same mistake they made with Windows Vista by having four different versions available at retail. I distinctly remember having rather heated discussions with Microsoft people about how bad it was going to be that they were fragmenting the product line and making it more confusing for users, but those complaints fell on deaf ears. I was cautiously optimistic about Windows Vista Ultimate when I first heard about it, but seeing as how the "Ultimate Extras" turned out to be a huge disappointment, the words "Windows Vista Ultimate" are now synonymous with wasted money.

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