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April 15, 2011

Windows 8 Frequently Asked Questions / Quick Guide

Q: What is Windows 8?

A: Windows 8 or what Microsoft has referred to as Windows vNext is presumed to be the next client and server release of Windows that follows Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Windows 8 which is currently in development, started immediately after Windows 7. Windows 8 promises to introduce radical improvements to the Windows desktop experience while supporting a variety of form factors. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January of 2011, Microsoft previewed early development Windows 8 code running on prototype hardware and System On a Chip (SOC) architectures from ARM Holdings plc, Intel and AMD. Based on early leaked information, Windows 8 will feature a heavily influenced Windows Phone design with a rumored dual interface with certain tile based influences adapted from Microsoft's mobile smartphone operating system.

Q: What is the ARM Chip about?

A: ARM is a popular processor architecture used in smart phone devices such as those manufactured by Research in Motion, Apple Inc, and manufacturers such as HTC running Windows Phone 7. The ARM architecture is currently incompatible with x86 software which runs on the vastly popular x86 architecture manufactured by Intel and AMD. Microsoft President for Windows Stephen Sinofsky promised to have Microsoft Office ready for the ARM architecture by the time Windows on ARM is released.

Q: What does SoC mean?

SoC architectures consolidate the major components of a computing device onto a single package of silicon. This consolidation enables smaller, thinner devices while reducing the amount of power required for the device, increasing battery life and making possible always-on and always-connected functionality. With support of SoC in the next version of the Windows client, Microsoft is enabling industry partners to design and deliver the widest range of hardware ever.

Q: What is the strategy Microsoft is employing in creating Windows 8?

A: Microsoft has not revealed much information about the next release, but based on what was revealed by Microsoft President for Windows Stephen Sinofsky, users should expect the following:

"With today's announcement, we're showing the flexibility and resiliency of Windows through the power of software and a commitment to world-class engineering. We continue to evolve Windows to deliver the functionality customers demand across the widest variety of hardware platforms and form factors," said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft." Source

What this possibly means is:

Windows everywhere, with support for a new chip architecture, Microsoft is looking at Windows as more than just a desktop and server operating system. Windows 8 is expected to target a variety of form factors and devices, these include traditional Desktop and Laptop form factors, along with smaller more power efficient devices and even Smart Phone devices.

Part of the goal of Windows 8 is to continue to bring investments in Windows forward, which means system requirements should be similar to current versions of Windows while bringing application and hardware compatibility forward.

Q: What is the thinking behind the name Windows 8?

A: Microsoft has not officially confirmed the name Windows 8, any publicly discussed information so far about Windows 8 by Microsoft has been referred to as 'the next version of Windows' or 'Windows vNext'. Based on leaked pre-release code which clearly displays Windows 8 branding it is presumed Microsoft wishes to continue the success of Windows 7 by keeping things simple and follow a logical versioning. Part of this is to also indicate that Windows 8 is a major upgrade of the Windows operating system.

Q: Who is Windows 8 for?

Microsoft is focusing on bringing Windows everywhere with the next release of Windows. This easily suggest that Windows will run on a variety of devices and form factors, which ultimately means, Windows 8 will be for everyone: consumers, students, businesses, mobile users, IT Professionals, anyone exposed to rich connected devices and systems will be a potential Windows 8 user.

Q: What new experiences does Windows 8 offer for users?

A: Windows 8 is still a work in progress, currently leaked builds reveal a familiar Windows 7 user interface with minor additions that have been added during the development process. Some examples include a User tile located in the notification area of the Taskbar with options for logging on or off. Windows 8 introduces a Windows Phone inspired Welcome Screen featuring Date and Time. Early Windows 8 leaked builds have revealed that Microsoft is planning on bringing the Ribbon user interface to the Windows Explorer shell. History Vault, a new feature which builds on top of Previous Versions introduced in Windows Vista will allow you to back up your file changes to an external hard disk, along with the ability to selectively restore them; History Vault will also integrate with HomeGroups. System Reset will allow users to reset a Windows 8 installation to its default factory install with the option to selectively remove applications, personal files and settings or both. Windows 8 includes a modern PDF Reader based on the Metro user experience based on a new application package model called AppX. The new upgrade experience will allow you to upgrade with the option of keeping applications, personal files or not. Windows 8 features an enhanced deployment experience with install time estimated at 10 mins, this is still a work in progress and many of the features mentioned so far are preliminary and are in the prototype stages.

Q: How can I obtain Windows 8?

Windows 8 is not available to the general public at this time, but it is expected that Microsoft will provide a private and public beta program in the future. Microsoft usually distributes pre-release code to a select group of testers through its online testing portal Microsoft Connect, http://connect.microsoft.com

Q: How many editions of Windows 8 are available?

Microsoft has not revealed any information regarding SKUs (stock keeping units) so far. It is expected that Windows 8 will support processor architectures such as x86 and x64 from AMD and Intel along with ARM SoC architectures from Qualcomm, AMD and others.

Q: How much will Windows 8 cost?

Microsoft has not revealed any information regarding pricing at this time.

Q; Do you have any previews available of the new OS?

Please see: http://www.neowin.net/news/tags/windows_8

Q: Can I seem some screenshots of Windows 8 builds?

Please see: http://www.neowin.net/news/tags/windows_8

Q: What is the official logo?

Microsoft is likely still working on the branding details of Windows 8, we should start seeing information as Microsoft approaches the beta. Recently leaked information however have revealed some branding regarding Windows 8, please see below.


Q: What is the Windows 8 system requirements?


Q: How much disk space does Windows 8 use?


Q: What is the latest publicly available build of Windows 8?

A: 6.2.7961.0.winmain_win8m3.110308-1712 Most recent Milestone 3 build provided to Microsoft OEM Partners.
6.2.7867.0.winmain_win8m1.101020-1800 Milestone 1 build of Windows 8 previewed on a variety of prototype hardware at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.

Q: When will the final version of Windows 8 be released?

Impossible to say since this will be determined by the quality of the product as it approaches various milestones such as (BETA > RC > RTM). Based on leaked information from Microsoft, the Company is targeting the final release for 2012 which is 3 years after the general availability of Windows 7.

Q: What do BETA, RC and RTM mean?

BETA, RC and RTM represent the various phases Windows goes through during development. BETA normally means Microsoft has settled on a frozen feature set that you can normally expect in the final product but it is still being tested and refined. Microsoft also utilize BETA's as a phase for soliciting feedback from testers and early adopters which the Company uses to find bugs, instability which are incorporated into improvements that can be made.

The next phase is RC or Release Candidate, which represents a near final product, but there are still refinements taking place and a lot of emphasis on rigorous testing is placed on the code to ensure that it is stable, optimized enough for use in production environments. Every detail is taken into account at this stage and the company looks for any possible show stoppers that might prevent the product from shipping.

The next phase is RTM or Release to Manufacturer, this represents the final shipping product that Microsoft decides is ready to be used by the general public after feedback and rigorous testing. The next phase is to continue testing and servicing Windows which includes, updates distributed through the Windows Update Service and future Service Packs.


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