Notes from BUILD – Day 1 – Keynote Part 6 – Windows 8 Professional Platform with Steven Sinofsky, and a Smidge of Cloud with Chris Jones

This is part of a transcription of my notes from Microsoft’s recent BUILD conference in Anaheim, CA, minus anything that might be considered Red Gate confidential. Thus, they’re somewhat unstructured, sometimes ramble off-topic, and often contain dodgy grammar. My own commentary and observations will generally be italicised so you can easily distinguish it from the reporting on what actually happened. Much has already been said about this conference, and about Windows 8, but I hope you find these useful. Please feel free to comment or ask questions and I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can.

Steven Sinofsky is President of Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live Division: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Sinofsky.

Chris Jones is Corporate Vice President, Windows Live, Microsoft Corporation.

Demo – Professional Platform – Steven Sinofsky

First point: Metro can be used with mouse and keyboard, although it has been designed for touch first. Obviously the desktop is still there and mouse and keyboard remain the primary interfaces for precise control, and lots of text input.

Metro puts apps into a new “Suspended” state when they’re swiped off-screen. This is a kind of freeze-dried state in which they use no CPU resources, and seem to only use up virtual memory, although of course they may still be present in physical memory. This new state allowed him to demo the shiny new Task Manager, which is quite nice.

Also showed the “Refresh & Restore” functionality. “Refresh” allows you to re-install Windows whilst keeping all your Metro apps (really, all your Windows Store apps) and data, whereas “Restore” actually takes you to a point in time, which may remove all your Metro apps if you don’t set a restore point after everything is installed. The latter will obviously remove your data as well, but you might want this if, for example, you were going to give your computer to someone else, donate it to charity, or whatever.

Showed Metro and touch working over a remote desktop connection – this looked pretty good although I’ve no idea what the experience would be like over a connection with more limited bandwidth. You have to assume it will suffer somewhat.

In the desktop view they’ve added better multiple monitor and taskbar positioning support. For example, you can have a desktop background that spans multiple monitors rather than have it duplicated on each.

If you just start typing in Metro the search will open automatically (this also substitutes for the old Start > Run functionality that was present in earlier versions of Windows, and which I’d forgotten about earlier when I was searching for this). You do need either a keyboard or to somehow get the on screen keyboard up before this will work though.

All the existing keyboard shortcuts for IE still work when running IE10 under Metro, as well as in the desktop view.

Demo – Cloud Services – Chris Jones

I kind of logged off here so I’ll need to watch this again later – unfortunately the ‘c’ word is like one of those hypnotic safewords you see in films like Serenity, so whenever it gets mentioned I tend to stop whatever I’m doing and zone out, or even lose consciousness.

Chris did show the Metro Mail client, which is implemented in HTML and JavaScript, and doesn’t yet appear to be publicly available – it’s not on the Preview hardware – but does support Exchange. I presume it also supports Live Mail given that your login on Windows 8 is tied to your Windows Live ID.