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Microsoft Windows AI Cellphones GUI

Microsoft: Start Menu Returns, Windows Free For Small Device OEMs, Cortana Beta 387

At Microsoft's BUILD conference today, the company announced that the Start Menu will officially be returning to Windows 8.1. It will combine the Windows 7 Start Menu with a handful of Metro-style tiles. They're also making it so Windows 8 apps can run in windows using the normal desktop environment. In addition to the desktop announcements, Microsoft also talked about big changes for Windows on mobile devices and Internet-of-Things devices. The company will be giving Windows away for free to OEMs making phones and tablets (9" screens and smaller), and for IoT devices that can run it. Microsoft also finally unveiled Cortana, their digital assistant software that's similar to Siri.
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Microsoft: Start Menu Returns, Windows Free For Small Device OEMs, Cortana Beta

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  • Desperation? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @04:10PM (#46642503)

    Wow, this just smacks of all kinds of desperation. It's amazing how badly Microsoft fails when they're not allowed to stack the deck in their favour.

    Although I'm curious about Cortana. If they make her/him/it sound like GladOS, I would have to seriously reconsider my position. :3

  • Dockability (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples.gmail@com> on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @04:15PM (#46642557) Homepage Journal

    Seriously why would you use something as bloated as Windows for a mobile or embedded device?

    So that the device can do double duty. It can act as a tablet by itself, or it can be docked to an external keyboard and monitor and act as a basic desktop computer. At least this is what Canonical promised for "Ubuntu for Android".

  • Cortana (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SpaceManFlip ( 2720507 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @04:19PM (#46642595)
    Cortana was Master Chief's AI companion (the big space marine carrier's AI computer) in the original Halo game. I still hate that Microsoft bought Bungie, and now they're going to milk the shit out of that IP by naming the rip-off of Siri Cortana. I grew up playing the Marathon series on Mac, and when I first played Halo I saw that all the same stuff was there, just fleshed out into awesome 3D so I was like "yay Bungie" and then Microshit shit all over Halo 2 with their Vista "DirectX 10 required" lies etc. Halo 2 worked well on XP with the Vista checks removed. /ramble
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @04:20PM (#46642613)

    What about all us fools who installed server 2012, and can't upgrade to 2012 R2 without paying another 1400 bucks? Are we going to get screwed without even a start button for the next 5 years that we run these servers?

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashikiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @04:30PM (#46642735) Homepage

    What's funny is that if you slapped in your favorite UI replacement, then Win8 became even better than 7. Faster, more stable, and if you're a gamer gave even better performance. Remove that, and it was a huge pain in the ass, so in your post I can't quite figure out the "by 9.x it'll be as useable as 7 again..." there's paid options such as Start8, not paid options such as Classicshell. And really, if you couldn't be bothered to replace the awful UI for something else, that's your own problem.

    I will say there are still bugs in it. I just ran across probably the most rare of them regarding SSD's yesterday. Where an open handle which isn't properly closed on shutdown, on a SSD volume can lock a SSD, in turn causing the volume to become corrupt. Needless to say, not impressed by that one.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @04:47PM (#46642917) Journal

    The problem for enterprise environments is that these add-ins are likely not going to be manageable via AD and GPOs, and at least where I am, that makes adoption an iffy process. Much better to have this basic GUI functionality built into the operating system itself.

    If the next version of Windows is close enough to Windows 7 for our staff to be comfortable, then we'll lift our organization-wide ban on Windows 8/8.1 workstations. For the moment, however, we continue to purchases Windows 7 Professional workstations and notebooks, and, amusingly enough, our suppliers basically say "And you will be wanting that with Windows 7, right?" They know that Windows 8 has been a bomb in the enterprise market.

  • Re:"Free" Windows (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @04:52PM (#46642983) Homepage
    Same thing goes on my Surface2. The Windows 8 interface really shines on a touch screen device. It's also worth pointing out that you don't need as many apps on Surface as you would on an iPad, because it has a lot of functionality built in. Getting videos to play off my shared folder on the main PC was a piece of cake with Surface. With iPad, it was a royal pain, and it still doesn't work well with certain videos.

    If you could get a 9 inch tablet for that ran full windows, you could have a very portable computer that you could just plug into full size monitor, keyboard and mouse, and use it as a full desktop. You wouldn't need any cloud services like drop box because you could literally bring your whole desktop computer with you wherever you go. This is the main point of the Surface Pro that most people seem to forget. You have this ultraportable machine about the same size as an ipad, but that you can hook up standard peripherals to and make it work as a full fledged desktop. The Surface Pro is a little outside most people's budgets, but the ASUS Transformer Book T100 is a little cheaper, and can still run most desktop apps.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @04:59PM (#46643067)

    Microsoft is actually really damn competent at making windows run well. Even since 7 they've made a whole lot of under the hood improvements. Kernel, memory management, better support for modern hardware. SSD optimizations. Graphics system improvements.

    It's like Vista. Vista introduced a massive amount of improvements particularly when it came to enterprise management.. But they fucked up hard on on the end use experience. Badly tuned. Ran like shit compared to XP. They fixed it up and released 7. (It really does run like shit. Install fully patched 7 and Vista on the same hardware and you'll be shocked with how much better 7 is)

    With 8, for whatever fucking braindead reason, they pushed the Metro UI. Again it's being rejected because they've ignored the end-user experience. 8 runs well but it sucks on the desktop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:07PM (#46643135)

    I'm sorry, but if you consider the UI the main feature of an OS, you really don't know anything about computers.

    Here's a hint as to how important the UI is to an OS, you can freely replace them with no real affect on the overall system barring resources used by the UI.

  • by CronoCloud ( 590650 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <noruaduolconorc>> on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:33PM (#46643445)

    Totally unusable for many people without third-party extensions, yet those same people keep telling everybody how great it is.

    once had a little discussion with some Gnome 3 advocates including Rahul Sundaram, either here or on the Fedora Forums about Gnome 3. They'd say install this or that add-on to restore the functionality that was in Gnome2. I said there was a reason that the CDE/Win9x+/XFCE/Gnome2 interface was fairly standard, it's not perfect but it just works to get stuff done and to quit copying mobile interfaces for desktop use.

    Then ol Rahul said Gnome 3 wasn't inspired by tablet/mobile interfaces.

  • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:39PM (#46643511)
    "Here's a hint as to how important the UI is to an OS, you can freely replace them with no real affect on the overall system barring resources used by the UI."

    Without the UI, an OS is just a command line interface which is itself a UI, albeit not a very useful one for a lot of people.

    I just recently broke down and installed 8.1 since some software I was needing to run simply would not run under Linux. While some things really run fast and well under 8.1, it is the most obnoxious interface I have ever used. Things that used to be two clicks or even one in XP and still are in Linux now take 8-10 clicks in and out of Metro to do the same thing. It's terrible.

    I can navigate around it, but 8.1 gets in the way of everything most people would try to do on a desktop. My desktop doesn't have a touch screen, doesn't need giant fonts, doesn't need all the garish stupid tiles that are just a waste of space and really only a distraction.

    Linux is so much better it isn't even funny - Gnome and KDE. Metro is for brain dead point and grunt types who need their chins wiped whenever they smell food.
  • Re:Big deal. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cbhacking ( 979169 ) <been_out_cruisin ... om ['hoo' in gap> on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:43PM (#46643555) Homepage Journal

    1) What do you *need* "charms" for on the desktop? You are, I presume, using desktop apps (which don't interact with the Charms bar at all). For things like Settings - even the "Metro" Settings, if for some reason you want those - you can reach them using Start (more on that in a sec). Oh, and FYI, Win+C will display the Charms bar without any stupid mouse shenanigans. I believe you can turn off the hot corner entirely, if you want to.

    2) Wrong, the Start menu was removed because they wanted to present the Live Tiles interface and the menu didn't have enough room for that (interesting that Win8 update 2 or Win9 or whatever they end up calling it will have a Windows Phone-like width of tiles as an option on an actual menu...). As for "better methods" that would primarily be Start search, which is much faster than using the mouse. It also generally works a lot *better* with rarely-used programs (or settings, or files, or direct links to settings pages you didn't even know were possible to link directly to...) than hierarchical menus do. Start search has been built into Windows since Vista (2006). They fucked it up a bit in Win8 (still worked for programs, but extra keypresses were needed for files or settings) but fixed it in Win8.1.

    3) Assuming you use "Metro" programs at all (eww...) then yes, this is a problem (and is being fixed in an upcoming version). If you're like me, and prefer to just use Win8 as a more efficient Win7 with better multi-monitor support and the ability to run Hyper-V, this isn't really a problem. Aside from games (which I'd want to have running full-screen anyhow), the Win8 apps are worthless on a desktop.

  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @06:02PM (#46643765) Homepage Journal

    It's the WS2012 R2 kernel wrapped with desktop widgets. I'll let you google from there, but the improvements are vast. If you know what you're doing you can hack in WS2012 R2 functionality like file deduplication and NIC teaming in to your 8.1 desktop.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:12PM (#46646065) Journal

    Satya is the right guy. He's an engineer, not a salesman. He knows how things actually work, and not just inside the little (in modern realities) Microsoft bubble.

    (case in point: he knows what node.js is - not as a buzzword, but the actual tech details)

    There's one more thing. Not many people seem to have been paying attention to what other changes there have been under Satya, but one noticeable change is the skyrocketing rise of Scott Guthrie. Why this matters? Well, Scott is the guy who, for the last 7 years or so, has been heavily pushing for F/OSS inside Microsoft. In particular, open sourcing ASP.NET MVC was his testbed project, and all the other .NET bits that went F/OSS after that were also under his guidance. Oh, and jQuery.

    And now this guy is being rapidly promoted - first stepping in to take Satya's place as the latter goes CEO, then becoming an executive VP of Cloud+Enterprise. Now this is the division that's basically responsible for the entire MS server-side stack - SQL, Exchange, Azure etc - but also all the developer tools. I'll let you draw the conclusions from that.

    Oh, and one other telling thing was the recent renaming of Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure, with the justification of "we do more than just Windows there, and don't want Linux users to feel unwelcome". This sort of casual dismissal of the Windows brand was unthinkable mere months ago.

  • Re:maybe trolling (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:26AM (#46646579)

    There will be stipulations in those deals that they create desktops/laptops with Windows only. Whether those companies will get to create "Linux" only machines is something I am curious to see.

    This isn't the 90s anymore, the biggest Windows licensees already create Linux laptops, desktops and smartphones in the form of ChromeOS, Android and (a lot less commonly) Ubuntu. Though many have tried desktop Linux distributions they have been given a massive "Do Not Want" by consumers but on the other hand they do want Android which is why they produce a lot of Android devices. If Microsoft had the power you fantasize about them having then Android tablets and ChromeOS laptops would not come from any of the big players.

    If the Linux community can get it sh** together and stop the inner fighting they have an opportunity to finally take hold, and take off, it seems anytime they have that chance they sabotage it, killing any progress.

    That won't happen, what DE should they use? What audio system? What compositor? etc. Even though it is easy to circumvent the issues that create all the criticism for Windows 8 we have seen consumers (and the geeks on this site) demonstrate that they dont want to have to customize anything and that is why linux wont take hold in a desktop capacity but why it has succeeded on smartphones.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton