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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 critical reinvention for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).  It ventures boldly into many new directions -- tablets and ARM processors among them.  Critics have plenty to complain about -- the mandate that every Windows 8 PC be equipped with touch, the 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 reports 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, of course) 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 2,000+ improvements generated by Windows 7's public beta process.

Windows 8 Release Preview
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 when 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. (F) recently indicated that a Windows 8 variant will likely drive the next generation successor to MyFord Touch.

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 as Ford's.
 
MyFord Touch upgrade Metro UI
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 suffered speed and stability issues, 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 shifting towards 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.

Source: All Things D [Consumer Preview announcement]



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RE: Defensive?
By Arsynic on 4/24/2012 4:23:43 PM , Rating: 0
quote:
Why do I see all these comments defending the metro UI? It's pretty defensive. If you feel the need to defend it, you clearly aren't getting the point of those complaints. It's not what you do, it's how you do it. It isn't directly because of the metro UI, it's how it's being implemented into people's use patterns. To someone who doesn't want anything to do with it, there should be a clear and easy way for them to remove it. This would cost nothing for MS to do. Do you get it now? Do you get how they can easily implement this YET they are choosing NOT to? That's in the extreme case. I myself find it having it's uses. Though there are still things about it I don't like. Every one of which could be easily addressed, yet I'm afraid they don't have much intention on doing so. You can be revolutionary, without neglecting those people that have stood so long by you. Now I'm the one that can't believe I'm saying that, I've always wanted more out of Windows. I've always hated how it changes very little. Even in Win8, there are still oh so many remants of legacy crap/bad ui that I just can't stand. However, I do think their metro ui is too tablet-centric. If you're going to go that far out in enforcing that experience onto the Desktop, it better damn well be implemented seamlessly. Currently I would say it is not.


You sound like someone in the boardroom at RIM circa 2008. "We don't want piss of people by offering something different! People are used to BB OS and by god, we should keep things the way they are! Baby steps, people! Baby steps!"

I like Microsoft's approach. There are always a few people who don't want change. Often times these people don't know what the fuck they really want. They won't immediately fall in love, but they will fall in line. According to your logic, there should be no one moving from Blackberry OS to iOS en masse, because it's so different and iPhone doesn't have a keyboard. People like you aren't in the majority. You're just loud as all fuck.


RE: Defensive?
By EnzoFX on 4/24/2012 4:22:13 PM , Rating: 2
No, you missed my point entirely. I've always demanded change, granted metro UI is a big one, I find it executed poorly.

Again, I am not saying metro UI shouldn't be there. I'm saying it needs to be implemented a lot better.


RE: Defensive?
By EnzoFX on 4/24/2012 4:31:52 PM , Rating: 2
Then again, I've never had a problem with MS' ideas and goals, it is their execution that I usually find lacking. This is something I wish they focused on more, the polish and overall user experience. Something that we should be pressing them on, not defending them for. Sure it's beta stuff, but I can't see this changing a whole lot by release time.


RE: Defensive?
By Samus on 4/25/12, Rating: 0
"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home














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