Print 33 comment(s) - last by hobbes7869.. on May 31 at 6:04 PM

The successor to Windows 7 may soon greet the masses

One of the major keys to Windows 7's great success and massive rebound from the disappointment of Vista was the incredibly popular public beta test program that launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2009.  Two years later Microsoft is well on the way to releasing the successor to the popular Windows 7, Windows 8, and it's reportedly preparing for a new beta program.

Softpedia reported last week that it received "Windows 8 Build 6.2.7959.0 Milestone 3 (M3)", an important preliminary build.  Compiled March 7, 2011 (based on the name string of the full build of the release), if authentic the build indicates that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is closing in on Build 8000 -- typically the build at which it launches a beta.

According to CentrumXP, developers now have access to "Build 6.2.7996.0.winmain_win8m3.110429-181" in the winmain_win8m3 branch.  The number in its build string (110429) indicates a release date of April 29, 2011.

That means that by now the Build 8000 may be compiled and almost ready to go.  It still remains to be seen, though, if the rumors are true and this is a beta build.  

One thing that calls that theory into question is the rumor that Microsoft will be working on Milestone 3 from February to July.  A finished build in May is way ahead of that schedule and doesn't quite add up.

According to rumors and leaks, Microsoft will wrap up Milestone 3, move on to a single beta, and finally air a release candidate before a commercial launch in late 2012/early 2013.  

Microsoft appears to be transitioning to a slightly faster release cycle, similar to what Apple does with OS X.  Whether that shorter release cycle will be accompanied by lower upgrade pricing remains to be seen.

The company is expected to possibly release the beta code to the broader developer community (only select developers have the current Milestone builds), and possibly announce a public beta at the Professional Developers Conference 2011 (PDC 2011) September 13–16, 2011, in Anaheim, California.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bills Windows 8 as his company's "riskiest product".  A preview that leaked about a month back showed a GUI similar to Windows 7, but with Microsoft Office's Ribbon inserted in new locations like the Windows Explorer.  Builds have also been seen running on ARM CPUs, which look to begin displacing Intel Corp. (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.'s (AMD) x86 designs in mobile computers and servers over the next several years.

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RE: What's so risky?
By Solandri on 5/11/2011 1:06:07 PM , Rating: 2
Context styled menus are dated and boring. Do you really think they are going to last forever? Heck there is not a single OS that is not in the process of phasing them out. (from nix to OSX to Windows)

Simplified menus that have the most commonly used buttons make more sense and if not for the fact that context style menus were not so engrained within all OS's over the past 30 years, you probably would not be so adamant about he change in the first place.

I still don't understand this. The idea behind GUIs of old was a two-pronged approach to the user interface problem. You had certain functions which got used a lot. And you had hundreds (sometimes thousands) of functions which got used rarely.

The functions which got used a lot would be learned naturally by the user, through use. Priority was given to minimizing the time/effort needed to use them. These became the buttons on the GUI, placed so they were obvious to find and could be used quickly.

The complex functions which got used rarely usually wouldn't be learned by the user. So instead, the program had to provide a way for the user to quickly and easily find the specific function s/he was searching for. Thus was born the context-styled menu.

This new trend seems to be trying to take the context-style menu, and jam it into an ever-changing row of buttons. You lose the best of both worlds. You lose the quick access to frequently used buttons. Now you have to click an extra button to get access to them. And you lose the ability to look up, by context, a function you don't know about but should/could be there. Instead you have to sift through every single function trying to find the one you need.

I'm not ragging on the ribbon. I think it's a good solution to the problem of not having enough GUI space to contain all the buttons of frequently used functions. But the really frequently used buttons should remain on the GUI regardless of which mode the ribbon is in. The functions with intermediate use go into the ribbon. And the context-styled menu should remain so you can (1) easily find the functions which you'll only use once in a blue moon, and (2) have a readily accessible hierarchical list of every single function the program can do.

You can relegate the menu to the last entry in each ribbon mode, but it needs to remain. Some people categorize functions by physical location - buttons and ribbons are good for them. Others categorize functions by function - the hierarchical menu needs to remain for them.

RE: What's so risky?
By adiposity on 5/11/2011 1:59:51 PM , Rating: 2
I never got used to using the buttons in Office. Instead I relied on right-click and the menu system. I found the words reassuring, but buttons which sometimes had confusing or just indecipherable icons remained unclicked.

Now, obviously, I am forced to use these things in the ribbon. To a certain extent, then, the ribbon has been a success as I learn to do things "in one click." On the other hand, I feel like things aren't where they are ought to be, and I'm searching through graphical toolbars to find something that would be more easily found by reading words. Quite frequently I find myself using the right click to do things that I used to do through the menus.

There is a learning curve associated with the ribbon, but overall I think it is an improvement over menu driven interfaces. The ability to generate ribbon elements as needed (tables, for example) is a plus. I guess my only complaint is the loss of the old menus. It would be nice to be able to get to features "the old way" when you don't feel like learning a new toolbar today. But that's how you learn, I guess.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

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