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Smaller live tiles, new Internet Explorer 11 browser, and multi-monitor "snap" views are among highlights

Details have already started to trickle out regarding Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFTWindows Blue -- the somewhat ironically named (BSOD anyone?) sequel to the coolly received Windows 8, a refresh which sources indicate will land later this year.  But a leak of a partner test build from earlier this month shows us the most explicit details about the Windows 8 UI makeover yet.

I. The Leak 

The leak came courtesy of photos posted to a Polish language forum in WinForum.eu. The leak also fell on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's 57th birthday.  Mr. Ballmer has shaken up the Windows team after Windows 8 received mixed reviews, with the biggest change being the departure of Windows President Steven Sinofsky.  The shakeups are expected to have a sizeable influence on the end product as Microsoft moves towards a shorter schedule of releases with Windows Blue.

The leaked build -- Build 9364 -- was compiled on March 15th, and is one of the builds that Microsoft sends to certain trusted partners in the months leading up to a Windows OS or service pack launch.

The build is current 2.63 GB

II. The Features

One of the biggest changes showcased in the leaked screenshots was an expected one -- smaller live tiles.  Much like Windows Phone 8, Windows Blue gives developers and customers more flexibility by allowing them to adopt a smaller/leaner footprint for seldom used apps' tiles.

Windows Blue

Microsoft has also borrowed Windows 7's desktop "snapping" and inserted it into the Windows 8 UI to allow snapped Windows 8-style apps.  The concept has been extended to allow a 4-app snapped configuration.  What's more, the snap-fest can extend to up to 8 simultaneously snapped apps in a multi-monitor setup.

Windows Blue

Windows Blue snaps (2)

The screenshots also show off a series of Windows 8-style apps --alarm, sound recorder, movie moments, and calculator -- which will come pre-loaded with Blue.  

Windows Blue

And there's new style options to allow users greater flexibility in customizing the look of their Windows 8-style GUI.

Windows Blue styles
 
Windows Blue Styles 2

The Windows 8 menu's controls have been streamlined and expanded to offer more intuitive control over hardware, uploads, networking, and other options so as to minimize the instances in which you have to return to the desktop control panel.

Windows Blue Control Panel (1)

Windows Blue Control Panel (2)

Windows Blue control panel (3)

Windows Blue Control Panel (4)

There's new gestures for touch users:
  • swipe up from the bottom -- gives a list of all apps
  • swipe up or down (in Desktop Mode) -- gives toolbar w/ access to Snap
Another highlight is a test build of the upcoming Internet Explorer 11.  The new browser has tab syncing, presumably to sync tabs between your mobile Windows Phone Blue device and your various Windows Blue tablets/laptops/desktops.

Windows Blue

Wrapping up the changes, there have been modifications to the "Charms" feature.  There's a new option in the Share Charm, which offers a quick shareable screenshot option for use with other apps like messaging and email.

Windows Blue Charms

Windows Blue Charms (screenshot)

The Verge and R27 (Italian) both reported on these leaked features.

Source: WindowsForum.eu



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craptastic.
By chromal on 3/25/2013 12:58:30 PM , Rating: 3
Everything I see in this Windows update is galling and upsetting. Apparently, Microsoft has decided to double down on their whole touchscreen/tablet metro UI on the desktop. Hopefully Windows7 will not be end-of-lifed for a long long time.




RE: craptastic.
By Flunk on 3/25/2013 1:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
I can't believe people are still posting about this.

THERE IS NO REASON TO THINK MICROSOFT WILL CHANGE THEIR MIND ABOUT THIS.

Microsoft has announced over and over that this is what they're doing. To expect different at this point is silly. It's going to a take an epic failure for them to change their mind. We're at least 5 years away from them giving up on this.

Stop posting silly comments. Also, Windows 7 will be have mainstream support until January 12, 2015 and extended support until January 14, 2020. All of this stuff is readily available.


RE: craptastic.
By StevoLincolnite on 3/25/2013 8:32:14 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
THERE IS NO REASON TO THINK MICROSOFT WILL CHANGE THEIR MIND ABOUT THIS.


Wrong.
Microsoft is a company, it's main goal is to sell products to consumers in exchange for money.
What happens if sales are poor? They will change their mind so they can continue to make more money.

From what I have seen, sales and reception of Windows 8 has been fairly poor, so it wouldn't surprise me if they back pedal a bit.


RE: craptastic.
By tastyratz on 3/26/2013 9:19:36 AM , Rating: 2
Sales have not been poor due to massive pricing restructures but correlation does not equal causation. People buy it because it's cheap, and they get it with new computers. They think 8 is better than 7 and are not educated to know the difference. why buy "old" on the shelf when new is significantly cheaper? Sales are through the roof.

None of that is an indicator of consumer preference however, the decision is halfway made for them by retailers and OEM's.


RE: craptastic.
By althaz on 3/28/2013 1:41:43 AM , Rating: 2
You talk about education, but the uneducated and open-minded people in my organisation mostly LIKE Windows 8.

The "education" that is out there tells you Win8 is bad, almost entirely for reasons that don't exist.

There actually isn't any reason to not like Windows 8 - it's faster, more stable, uses less power, has improved usability for desktop users, offers an interface for tablet users and improves a number of core functions (eg: Control Panel, File Copy).

The start screen is flat-out better than the start menu - which virtually nobody used because it was crap.

Sure, metro apps are pretty crap and the metro stuff for the most part is clearly not ready for prime-time, but it's all purely optional.

People complaining about Windows 8 are mostly demonstrating they have no knowledge of the product or complaining they don't like the direction they think Microsoft is headed (and if MS is headed to a full-screen only, app-store only future, I hope they burn in hell, though I din't think the former at least is likely).

You can say it's not worth upgrading to for you (a valid and reasonable view point, although for me the improved multi-monitor support and fucking UP button in file explorer makes it worth it, even it weren't for the noticable performance benefits), but it's demonstratably better in all areas than Windows 7, so you can't actually say it's bad and say Win7 is good.

Of course I've been fairly critical of Win8 as well, but that's because I feel like the new Metro stuff is half-baked - but I'm not saying Win8 is bad, it's just that I wish it were better.


RE: craptastic.
By Da W on 3/26/13, Rating: 0
RE: craptastic.
By freedom4556 on 3/27/2013 6:36:28 AM , Rating: 2
The difference is that Windows 95 didn't launch to a world largely devoid of mice like Windows 8 did with touchscreens. Hardware turnover was also much faster back then. Did you ever try to uses Windows without a mouse? I have. Often mice drivers didn't autoload. Windows 8 without a touch device reminds me a lot of that experience.


RE: craptastic.
By delphinus100 on 3/25/2013 8:43:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's going to a take an epic failure for them to change their mind.


You write as if that can't possibly happen.

If they start losing customer base, minds will change (or did you forget Vista?), UIs will change. That's how it works. Whether it actually will do that, remains to be seen.

quote:
All of this stuff is readily available.


And none of it etched in stone. Or did you forget the multiply-reprieved Windows XP?


RE: craptastic.
By mechBgon on 3/28/2013 2:43:48 AM , Rating: 2
I recently compared the Win8 adoption rate to Vista's, using Valve's Steam stats. Even among the gaming community, Win8 is being adopted at about half the rate that Vista was. And that's despite $40 giveaway pricing for several months. So yeah, I'd say it's time for Microsoft to read the writing on the wall... they've got a great OS trapped underneath a UI that many people just don't want.

My take: if Microsoft published a mea culpa acknowledging they were fools to artificially take away the choice of the traditional UI, and produced a Desktop User Option Pack that gave us a Win7-style UI option, then they'd see Win8 finally start to take off. People who really preferred the tablet/touch UI could have it, but businesses wouldn't have to be stuck with it and retrain their users and support staff just to satisfy Microsoft's self-serving agenda.


RE: craptastic.
By 0ldman on 3/30/2013 9:58:52 AM , Rating: 2
Just check the number of downloads of Classic Shell.

That is about the only reason my customers didn't take back their Windows 8 machines.

Just to be clear, I didn't sell them the PC, but I did have to talk them out of returning it because they hate the Metro Interface, every one that has gotten a Windows 8 PC.

The Windows 8 underlying architecture is great, the fluff on top is an irritation with a mouse at best. At what point were options decided to be a problem?

Microsoft opts to keep Metro, I choose to use 7. I set my customers up with Classic Shell.


RE: craptastic.
By Mitch101 on 3/25/2013 1:30:02 PM , Rating: 5
StartIsBack - $3
Pokki - Free
StartMenu8 - Free
Classic Shell - Free
Start8 - $5

I use Start8 for the record although It will only appear in the main monitor my other monitors have the Windows live tiles menu still so best of both worlds if you have multiple monitors. I did this because I got frustrated trying to get to Printers.


RE: craptastic.
By Motoman on 3/25/2013 3:19:20 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for pointing out those other options. I've been buying Start8 for Windows8 machines around here, since they're useless without it.'

I honestly haven't spent any time looking around for alternatives lately...StartMenu8 looks good and gets good, legitimate reviews.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2027243/review-star...

Granted, the $5 for Start8 doesn't break anybody's bank...but free is free. And since MS refuses to sell an OS that can be used out of the box, apparently it's up to the rest of us to fix it.


RE: craptastic.
By bigboxes on 3/25/2013 4:15:05 PM , Rating: 2
M$ should have put a start button in the first place. If not, then at least an option to choose what type of interface you have. One optimized for tablets and phones and one for productivity for the desktop. Yeah, the desktop is dying in the home, but for any of us that want to get any real work done they should have given us that option in the first place.

To the first metrotard that replies that I have to like clicking a few extra buttons just to get to the place I would have been with the Win7 start button... get bent.


RE: craptastic.
By bigboxes on 3/25/2013 4:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
And I shouldn't have to pay $5 for an app to provide an option that Microsoft should have offered in the first place.


RE: craptastic.
By Ammohunt on 3/25/2013 5:38:25 PM , Rating: 5
Thats where i am at sticking with Windows 7 costs me 0.


RE: craptastic.
By Belard on 3/25/2013 5:30:32 PM , Rating: 4
Why should I or anyone else pay for a defective crappy product? sales numbers already show that win8 is doing twice as bad as vista.


RE: craptastic.
By xti on 3/25/2013 5:46:20 PM , Rating: 3
start menu haters are a minority, just like enthusiasts are minorities or DT readers are a minority of pc users.

win8 sales suck because laptops/desktop sales are slumping, not because the world is on a start menu embargo. win7 was thru the roof because it was pre-tablet and during the peak of $300 laptops and ultrabooks coming into the market.


RE: craptastic.
By Belard on 3/25/13, Rating: 0
RE: craptastic.
By xti on 3/26/2013 11:52:40 AM , Rating: 2
you need to understand, the masses don't care that their start menu is missing. they deal with that they are given.

get THAT thru your head, DT users/geeks use of an OS are NOT a representation of the typical average joe consumer.


RE: craptastic.
By Belard on 3/26/2013 3:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
I am aware of the mass market target for win8. I've stated many times that metro makes sense. that the typical computer user is a moron when it comes to technology or anything else more than a trigger and a TV.

MS went about this all wrong. the design of metro for desktop is poor. like the photo on top with the calculator... it looks retarded to have a whole screen for a tiny little program. functionality is lost. its also ugly. I grew up with 8 bit computers. I still have my complete commodore 128 system. I bought my 1571 5.25" floppy drive for $280 with my own money when I was 15... which is far more expensive than my android phone I'm typing this response with.

I don't need to relive the old days. android and iOS are better mobile UI. thought and experience went into them. with TIFKAM apps not being windows.... why bother? go with something better. MS is failing on all fronts.... the market knows this.


RE: craptastic.
By mechBgon on 3/28/2013 2:52:13 AM , Rating: 2
I can tell you that we would have zero Win8 systems at work if we had to deal with the Metro UI. Microsoft can thank the third-party StartIsBack add-on for our recent Win8 upgrade purchases, which I pushed for on the basis of Win8's noteworthy security advantages. If you like Metro/ModernUI, you're welcome to it, but it would be better to have choices. Choices are good.


RE: craptastic.
By flyingpants1 on 3/31/2013 1:20:30 AM , Rating: 2
People like to make stuff up. Of course users like the start menu. They don't like when obvious features go missing.


RE: craptastic.
By robinthakur on 3/26/2013 8:32:20 AM , Rating: 2
That may well be the case, but tablet sales are certainly not slumping, and here MS has no defence. We were trialling MS win8 tablets from HP recently. Nobody wanted them as they already have iPads and didn't want to learn something new. One of them died and wouldn't boot and had to be sent back. On both, full screen apps can be easily manipulated, but the more powerful desktop mode is unwieldy and the keyboard (which does not pop up automatically when you tap on a text field in Desktop view) just doesn't really work properly on things like Chrome because you can't see what you are typing. The icons in Chrome don't do anything when you tap on them either, and the whole experience just doesn't feel cohesive compared to what users have been using since the first iPad launched. In terms of workflow, I also question what Win8 brings to the table. Yes you can join it to a domain, Multitask properly (in desktop mode) run MS Office on it and plug in a USB device, which is kind of nice in a novelty way, but we've been using iPads for so long, that ways have been found to work around the lack of office, using third party apps like Quick Office HD and to a degree multi-tasking. True MS might have better SharePoint/Exchange integration etc, but as far as users are concerned, they can send and browse email and make minor edits of office documents already and the rest, they aren't really interested in. Only IT really got excited about them, and after spending the weekend with the device I was bored with how fiddly it was to use. I've used Windows 8 since last November and know it well on a desktop machine (whenever I need to use it, less frequently these days!)but expected its natural home to be on a tablet.

I'm not really sure what we were expecting in Windows 8, MS did about as well as they could have, but the ship has already sailed in many ways and they are massively late to the party with an imperfect product. Perhaps Surface is better to use, but speaking as an end-user and an IT professional,and considering how long it took for MS to get a competing product out of the door, this is not that impressive nor does it really give people confidence in MS and the rest of the product stack.


RE: craptastic.
By Reclaimer77 on 3/25/2013 5:31:59 PM , Rating: 4
Those are inferior bandaids. They don't really bring back the fully usable Start Menu. The only way to really fix Windows 8 is to bring back the EXACT Win7 Start menu, AND kill Metro entirely.

And for that, I bring you *drumroll*....

http://betanews.com/2012/12/11/disable-the-new-win...

This "fixes" Windows 8. You keep all of the improvements, but you get back the true Windows desktop, start menu, and the Rainbrow Brite faggy UI formerly known as Metro is dead and gone.


RE: craptastic.
By bigboxes on 3/25/2013 6:28:31 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks bud! I'll give this a shot in my next build.


RE: craptastic.
By Mitch101 on 3/27/2013 11:02:31 AM , Rating: 2
Good post didnt know about that. Worth taking a look for the kids computers.


RE: craptastic.
By Belard on 3/25/2013 6:11:29 PM , Rating: 4
another free fix for windows8....

linuxmint


RE: craptastic.
By morgan12x on 3/25/2013 8:59:11 PM , Rating: 2
I will happily go to Linux when the get automount to work correctly. AND, have a working system to handle uninstalling correctly. I hate when you install something with a lot of dependencies and then when you remove it all of the dependencies stick around. Makes for a very messy system after awhile.


RE: craptastic.
By Mr Perfect on 3/25/2013 1:33:41 PM , Rating: 4
I'm not thrilled with 8 either, but this still looks like an improvement. Snapping is back, which is great, and apparently you can get four apps to a screen now instead of two. I wouldn't say they're making things worse.


RE: craptastic.
By cknobman on 3/25/2013 1:38:04 PM , Rating: 2
This is one of the most important features for me and was the most baffling omission MS made with 8. Glad to see it coming back.


RE: craptastic.
By datdamonfoo on 3/25/2013 2:10:19 PM , Rating: 1
It was never gone. Do you actually use Windows 8? Snapping is still there. It just wasn't for modern apps.


RE: craptastic.
By Mr Perfect on 3/25/2013 5:38:00 PM , Rating: 2
Which is what the article was talking about.

quote:
Microsoft has also borrowed Windows 7's desktop "snapping" and inserted it into the Windows 8 UI to allow snapped Windows 8-style apps. The concept has been extended to allow a 4-app snapped configuration. What's more, the snap-fest can extend to up to 8 simultaneously snapped apps in a multi-monitor setup.


RE: craptastic.
By datdamonfoo on 3/26/2013 7:22:30 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, so I am wondering why the two comments above me are pretending it was gone.


RE: craptastic.
By Mr Perfect on 3/26/2013 12:38:22 PM , Rating: 2
You mean mine? I never said anything about the desktop, I was talking about Metro improvements, same as the article.


RE: craptastic.
By andrewaggb on 3/25/2013 2:21:26 PM , Rating: 3
better snap is nice and more than 2 apps is nice.

Hopefully we can have 2 instances of the same app for side by side...

And hopefully the start screen won't close all your snapped apps on your second monitor this time around.

Seems like an improvement, but I was hoping for more.


RE: craptastic.
By soydios on 3/25/2013 1:40:47 PM , Rating: 2
Dude, have you used Windows 8? It's just Windows 7 with a full screen start menu. Punch the Windows key and get over it.


RE: craptastic.
By Motoman on 3/25/2013 3:21:08 PM , Rating: 4
Punch the Windows key and...then what? You see a "desktop" with some icons on it...but with no way to access your installed programs. Ergo - totally useless.

The one and only way to make Win8 useful is to install something like Start8, set it to automatically bypass the Metrosexual UI, and go straight to the real desktop...with a Start menu. You know...so you can actually use the programs you have.


RE: craptastic.
By Cerin218 on 3/25/2013 3:49:33 PM , Rating: 3
So put icons to your programs on the desktop or enable the Quick Launch and put them there and sthu.


RE: craptastic.
By Motoman on 3/25/13, Rating: 0
RE: craptastic.
By xti on 3/25/13, Rating: 0
RE: craptastic.
By Da W on 3/26/2013 1:32:23 PM , Rating: 1
Switch to linux then and shut up.


RE: craptastic.
By mircea on 3/27/2013 5:58:45 AM , Rating: 2
Or Right-click in the start menu and then at the bottom on "All apps" and poof all programs show there like clicking on "(All) Pprograms" in Win 98-7 start button.


RE: craptastic.
By Digimonkey on 3/25/2013 4:29:42 PM , Rating: 1
When you are in the Windows 8 start screen, you can start typing the name of the app you want and it'll pull up a list of matches. You can then pin them so they always show up in the menu.

Don't want to bother trying to search for a specific app and just want a list? Then you can just backspace whatever you typed in and it'll give you a full list or apps, or the quickest way for the list is to hit Windows Key + Q.


RE: craptastic.
By Motoman on 3/25/2013 4:40:11 PM , Rating: 4
Or you can remember that the reason we went to GUIs in the first place was so that you don't have to type everything.

If I wanted to type things into a search box, I could do that in previous versions of Windows too. That feature is no different.


RE: craptastic.
By Digimonkey on 3/25/2013 7:38:32 PM , Rating: 1
Well then you can also just click on the search charm and it brings up all your apps.


RE: craptastic.
By mooty on 3/25/2013 8:19:52 PM , Rating: 1
You can pretty much fully customize the start screen, place all your frequently used things where you want them. I don't get it how that can be a problem.


RE: craptastic.
By Belard on 3/25/2013 10:33:46 PM , Rating: 2
its a lot more than that.

And what... put everything on the desktop and task bar... in some sort of menu layout?


RE: craptastic.
By wallijonn on 3/26/2013 6:59:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the quickest way for the list is to hit Windows Key + Q.


Do a Google search for "Windows 8 shortcuts" and you will get many hits for 3 pages of "Windows+" key strokes. So besides all the other MS keystroke shortcuts to remember (like Control-P to print) you now have to learn another 3 pages worth!

Okay, how does one shut down in W8? Find the shortcut keystroke that will save you 4 steps...


RE: craptastic.
By mircea on 3/27/2013 6:01:09 AM , Rating: 2
Alt+F4 and hit Enter


RE: craptastic.
By delphinus100 on 3/25/2013 8:46:54 PM , Rating: 3
Y'know...on pre-8 Windows, the first thing I want to go to isn't always the Start Menu...

...so why would I want this so-called substitute for a Start Menu to be the first, unavoidable thing I see?


RE: craptastic.
By DrApop on 3/25/2013 1:54:45 PM , Rating: 1
Butt ugly


RE: craptastic.
By kleinma on 3/25/13, Rating: 0
RE: craptastic.
By FastEddieLB on 3/25/2013 2:51:20 PM , Rating: 2
I don't even care about the Windows 8 UI any more, I'm just pissed that they took away the Windows Aero that I know and love. Win 7 will be my mainstay until it's no longer supported, then I'll make a permanent transition to Linux


RE: craptastic.
By The0ne on 3/25/2013 3:20:01 PM , Rating: 2
ClassicShell gives you that and more styles from previous windows :D


RE: craptastic.
By Motoman on 3/25/2013 3:25:35 PM , Rating: 2
After futzing with Win8 for a while, I find it to be OK after you install Start8. Although I highly recommend turning off all the "charms" too. Then it's a reasonable approximation of a real OS.

Try that, or maybe StartMenu8, and see what you think.


RE: craptastic.
By Cerin218 on 3/25/2013 3:55:05 PM , Rating: 1
I wish a had a nickel for every time that Microsoft pissed off some idiot by changing things and in "retaliation" that idiot threatened to change to Linux.
A. If you weren't an idiot you would ALREADY be on Linux and I wouldn't have to listen to you whine.
B. Linux will NEVER replace Windows for main stream use. Period. End of story. Linux is for people that want to spend hours getting obscure things to work that Windows just does simply. Like the 4 hours of NDIS wrapper to get the wireless to work on my laptop when the Windows install takes literally a minute and a half.
C. Every one whines about the new one they don't like. All I heard was moaning and complaining about Vista until 7 came out and placated the drooling masses.


RE: craptastic.
By Motoman on 3/25/2013 4:43:58 PM , Rating: 2
You are correct in that no one is likely to ever move to Linux - not until the industry well and truly gets behind it. If enough people got sick of MS's bullsh1t, they might see some $ in getting behind it though.

And of course, you could always buy a Mac. Or a Chromebook.

The real answer is simply that there will always be 3rd parties that crop up to make massive amounts of money fixing the stupid sh1t that MS does. Like Start8.

We may be forced to use Windows, since ultimately it's the only rational choice...but luckily we aren't forced to cripple ourselves by using the Metrosexual UI.


RE: craptastic.
By HoosierEngineer5 on 3/25/2013 5:55:29 PM , Rating: 2
Why does Microsoft now seem like another Intel, just before AMD kicked the crap out of them (in the Pentium 4 days) - oh yeah, tiny little incremental updates so they can drain the maximum amount of money for the smallest effort.


RE: craptastic.
By Bubbacub on 3/25/2013 5:33:49 PM , Rating: 2
apart from gaming, linux in the form of mint, for example, can be a totally superior os for people who need to get work done.

i was in the same boat as yourself till 18 months ago - i'm not planning on switching back now that i've made a successful conversion.

whilst i agree that your average user is not going to install a linux distro and do the fiddling required to get everything working to a similar windows environment, i disagree that linux will never be mainstream and would argue that it is already mainstream.

the linux kernal in the form of android and the increasing sales of chromebooks does indicate that there is mass mainstream usage of the linux kernal - the thing that makes linux, well linux.

also calling people idiots because you appear to be having a geeky explosion of indignant wrath is not particularly cool


RE: craptastic.
By Reclaimer77 on 3/25/2013 5:16:13 PM , Rating: 2
Truly disappointing I agree. If this is their idea of making Windows 8 better for the desktop, it's clear they just refuse to acknowledge the OS's shortcomings. It has fundamental usability issues with a mouse and keyboard that this "update" doesn't even begin to address.

oh well, Windows 7 will do just fine until we get Windows 9 which will hopefully be un-fuc#ed. Continuing MS's bad OS-good OS-bad OS-good OS trend.


RE: craptastic.
By NellyFromMA on 3/25/2013 8:00:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Microsoft has also borrowed Windows 7's desktop "snapping" and inserted it into the Windows 8 UI to allow snapped Windows 8-style apps. The concept has been extended to allow a 4-app snapped configuration. What's more, the snap-fest can extend to up to 8 simultaneously snapped apps in a multi-monitor setup.


Oh, snap!


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














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