Windows 8 "Customer Preview" Coming in June, Sources Say Ford to Use Windows 8, Metro UI
April 24, 2012 11:01 AM
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Next gen MyFord Touch successor reportedly built on Win 8 variant; Win8 consumer release preview coming in June
Windows 8 is a
for Microsoft Corp. (
). It ventures boldly into many new directions --
and ARM processors among them. Critics have plenty to complain about -- the mandate that
every Windows 8 PC be equipped with touch
love-it-or-hate-it Metro UI
, and the lack of emulation for legacy x86 software on the
ARM-centric Windows 8 RT
But there's also a lot to praise with Windows 8. It represents not only technical improvements (Windows 8 boasts numerous core app, system admin, and performance improvements over Windows 7), but also creative panache in craft a colorful, intuitive new brand of user interface.
I. Release Preview Lands in June
All Things Digital
's Ina Fried
that Microsoft's Windows President Steven Sinofsky has pegged the first week of June for the release of the third major test build of Windows 8, the Release Preview.
The first public Windows 8 test build was
the Developer Preview
, which aired for developer partners (much beloved by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer,
) in Sept. 2011.
Over 500,000 downloads
were registered within 12 hours of that early build going live.
The second (and current) preview was
the Consumer Preview
. Microsoft has done a bit of renaming from the Windows 7 test build process -- the Consumer Preview fills an identical niche to Windows 7's consumer Beta build. The Consumer Preview featured 100,000 changes and bug fixes from the Developer Preview and has been downloaded more than 1 million times.
With the new OS slated for
an October launch
, the Release Preview will likely be the final test build -- akin to Windows 7's Release Candidate. It is expected to include tens of thousands of improvements based on the Consumer Preview feedback, easily surpassing the
generated by Windows 7's public beta process.
The latest test build of Windows 8 will soon be upon us. [Image Source: All Things Digital]
The announcement by Mr. Sinofsky was delivered at the Windows Developer Days event in Japan this week. For better or worse Mr. Sinofsky has driven the UI revolution at Microsoft. Coming in on the tail end of the Vista launch, he had a tough task ahead breathing life into the Windows team, which some members of the media and analysts
claimed was "dying"
Delivering products such as Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7.x showed Mr. Sinofsky to be a leader who is unafraid to take risks and disrupt the status quo. That's precisely what Microsoft needed and it has propelled Microsoft's Windows 7 to the
most brisk sales of any operating system in history
. Mr. Sinofsky hopes to best that success with the revolutionary new Windows 8 product and further cement his status as a
front-runner for the chief executive spot
Steve Ballmer steps down
in 5-10 years.
II. Sources: Windows 8 Takes UI, Touch Load Off Ford's Shoulders
Our sources close to Ford Motor Comp. (
) recently indicated that a Windows 8 variant will likely drive the next generation successor to
This is an interesting, but not altogether unexpected development. Microsoft has long produced the OS used by Ford -- Windows Embedded Automotive, and the latest version (v7), was built on a trimmed down version of Windows 7.
But the information is also interesting because of the highlighted implications for Ford, and the industry in general.
Windows 8 in many ways represents a solution to many of Ford's headaches. While Ford is undeniably the leader in automotive infotainment with the most features and the most cohesive user interface, it also has suffered from growing pains. As the feature set grew, Ford has been compelled to contract out user interface development to third-party partners at times, and has found those partners to
not always produce work of the same high quality
Ford is reportedly preparing to use a customized Metro UI (right) in the next generation successor to MyFord Touch (right). [Image Sources: My Microsoft Life (right); Ford (left)]
The perfect example of where third-party software burned Ford is the early versions of MyFord Touch which
, issues reportedly (according to my past sources) largely attributable to third party code. The issues were finally addressed when Ford
essentially redid its partner's work
, revamping the OS and committing to a costly internal rewrite.
The answer to Ford's frustration is Windows 8. The Metro UI is seemingly a perfect fit for a next generation Ford infotainment system. In terms of current products, it will be kind of like Windows Phone on your car. With its built-in XAML/C# (and possibly Silverlight although Microsoft is
HTML5) APIs, Microsoft has taken a lot of the grunt work out of UI graphics/coding/design and multi-touch support for Ford.
If you want to imagine a next generation Ford OS simply think of a Windows 8 tablet or Windows Phone embedded in the dash with MyFord Touch-like menu options and a customized Metro UI tile-based interface.
For all the Windows 8 skepticism Ford sounds like it is solidly in the believers camp.
All Things D [Consumer Preview announcement]
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RE: Only a few more months
4/24/2012 2:43:22 PM
I have two 22" monitors here on my desk at work. I've been running Win8 as my full work/dev machine since the consumer preview launched. On my start screen have an 11x6 grid of program icons for all of the programs I use. I don't use any of the Metro programs while working, so I've removed them from my start screen. That gives me 66 program spaces, of which I use around 25. I consider myself to be a power user and I use far more programs than any of my clients. I thin an average client could use between 10 and 12 programs on a daily basis. And that is probably the high end. So I can easily setup a start menu with only the things they use on that screen for them.
I hated Windows 7 because it adds more clicks to do everything. There are more layers between me and what I want. With Win8 I have 2 clicks between me and my program. I am far more productive with Windows 8 than Win7. I have run into a few things that I don't care for (for instance printing is weird in Metro apps which really annoys me) but all in all I think Win8 is probably the quickest OS I have ever used as far as getting to my stuff. I don't generally need other windows open when I open the start menu, so your point may be valid, I just can't think of a time I have ever actually required that ability.
As for your point about VS, I have to say I think it could really benefit from a UI change. I'd love to see a ribbon interface on that. But I think it will be the very last thing to change. Not because, as you assert, they see it as being unnecessary, but because they focus on the consumer products first, and are spending more time keeping VS up to date that they haven't been interested in spending the time to change the UI. And their core market is willing to put up with a poor interface so they don't have to "learn" anything new. We are a picky group.
RE: Only a few more months
4/25/2012 11:46:17 PM
VS interface did not change?! Did you see 2010? Plenty of changes and I like nearly all of them. Ribbons is the last thing Visual Studio needs. And what kind of programmer works with VS by clicking toolbars with mouse.. O.O
"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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