Windows 8

Microsoft launches own brand surface tablet

Adam Oxford at

With just a few days notice, Microsoft called journalists to an impromptu press conference in Hollywood last night to reveal their latest plan for pushing Windows 8. Turns out that they're developing their own brand range of tablets, using their existing name for touch sensitive screens, Surface. That it came as more or less a surprise (barring a lot of speculation over the last two days) is a feat almost as impressive as the announcement itself.

There'll be two tablets initially. The Surface is an ARM-based Win RT model which will compete with existing Android tablets and the iPad. The second device, Surface Pro, is more interesting from our point of view since it will have an Intel Core processor on board and therefore be compatible with some PC games.

The significance, of course, is that Microsoft is going to be making their own brand of PCs for the first time ever. But what does that mean?

Windows 8 Release Preview ready

Adam Oxford at

Love it or loathe it, Microsoft's next operating system is creeping closer and closer. That fact has been marked today by the launch of a new beta called the Release Preview.

Coded 'Build 8400', it's an update from the Consumer Preview that's been available since March, and brings a few new apps and interface tweaks to the now familiar Metro/Desktop look and feel. According to Microsoft, this will be the final version until the Release To Manufacturing is posted to its website – an event suspected to be planned for sometime in the autumn.

Not had your fill of Win 8 betas or want to know what's new? Read on.

Poll: Do you use more than one monitor?

Adam Oxford at

Last night, as is my wont, I was flicking through RSS headlines and spotted a post on Microsoft's Building Windows 8 blog which looked quite interesting. This morning, the post is gone – presumably for further editing somewhere along the way.

Since the post has been taken down I won't go into too much details about the way Microsoft says it's improved multiscreen use in Windows 8 – obviously something in there wasn't right and I've no way of knowing what that is. There was, however, some useful stats about dual and triple screen use which led me to wonder: how many readers use more than one monitor?

Windows 8 line up simplified, renamed

Adam Oxford at

Remember trying to figure out which version of Windows 7 you owned or needed to install if you were putting it on a fresh hard drive? With six different variations to choose from, you wouldn't have been the only one who got confused between Windows 7 Ultimate and Windows 7 Professional, for example. You would be unusually proficient if you could remember exactly what the differences between each one were, however.

Apparently Microsoft has learned something from the criticism. In a blog post yesterday, Brandon LeBlanc from the Windows team revealed that there will be just three versions for x86 systems, and one for ARM devices.

Windows 8 beta first impressions: brave but flawed

Adam Oxford at

Microsoft made the public beta, or 'Consumer Preview', of Windows 8 available for download on Wednesday afternoon, so we've had the best part of two days now to play around with it and work out what we like and what we don't. So far, I've used three PCs to try it out – one normal machine, one with a touchscreen and one Atom-powered tablet.

People have described Windows 8 as genius, ground breaking. A long overdue reworking of the tired desktop metaphor that better reflects how people really use their computers. Others look at it as a mess, forcing a look and feel designed for mobile phones onto unwilling desktop users. They see it as broken in the ways that Windows ME or Vista were.

Me? I see it as both. Fabulous and flawed at the same time.

Windows 8 beta is out now

Adam Oxford at

Want to know what your games are going to look like in Windows 8? You can find out first hand if you like - Microsoft has put the 'Consumer Preview' version of its operating system up for download, and you can grab your copy here. Cost to you? Just bandwidth and patience my friends.

The Consumer Preview is what was known in old money as the beta. It's a fairly finished version which won't change hugely between now and the final launch, other than bug fixing and last minute tweaks that arise out of testee feedback. The beta is free of charge to use, should install on just about any PC or laptop, and will work at least until the release candidate is out. The exact expiry date hasn't been confirmed yet.

Windows 8 to restrict desktop customisation?

Adam Oxford at

One of the very few choices we have left in this world is the ability to put a picture of family, friends or favourite frags on our desktop backgrounds, but even that facsimile of free will is being withdrawn. According to an interview over at our sister site TechRadar, customisation of Windows 8's new Metro interface will be limited to decisions about the solid colour background.

Will Windows Store take on Steam?

Adam Oxford at

Have you tried Windows 8 yet? According to Microsoft, over half a million people downloaded the developer build of the new operating system within 24 hours of it being released to the public at the start of the BUILD conference in Seattle this week.

You can get your copy of Windows 8 to try out here, although you should be warned that it's not stable enough to use as an everyday OS just yet.

Xbox Live is coming to Windows 8

Tom Senior at

Gamespot report that Xbox Live will be incorporated into the next edition of Windows. Xbox Live's director of programming Larry Hryb confirmed the announcement, saying "bringing Xbox LIVE to Windows 8 is part of our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy." Hmmm.

Will Windows 8 be good for PC gaming?

Adam Oxford at

Microsoft gave the world it's first glimpse of Windows 8 last night, with on stage presentations of the new look operating system at both the D9 conference in California and Computex in Taiwan. First impressions are that it's a big, bold and dramatic break from the past, with the biggest overhaul of the Windows desktop interface since it was introduced in 1995.

Designed for "touch first" screens and devices, the new UI closely resembles the one you'll find on Windows Phone 7 and Zune music players. There's no Start button, no window borders and no taskbar. Program launchers and live gadgets appear as a tiles in an irregular gridded layout, which can be manipulated using gestures to swipe across the screen, and the same gesture is used to move between running applications.

PC Gamer US Podcast #274: Hello Tyler. Goodbye Anthony.

PC Gamer at

This week, Head Intern [sic] Anthony assembles a team consisting of Lucas, Chris and PCG's newest editor, Tyler Wilde (formerly of GamesRadar) to stop the Reapers and save the Galaxy. But first, they must discuss the topics of the week that was. Stories include Modern Warfare 3, League of Legends' new Tribunal system, Age of Conan going free-to-play, the announcement of Ghost Recon Online, Windows 8 and Duke Nukem Forever finally going gold. We also do a round of Truthiness and Falsity, answer your questions and say our goodbyes to Anthony.

PC Gamer US Podcast 274: Hello Tyler. Goodbye Anthony.

Windows 8 launch next year will start "a real new push into PC gaming" say Microsoft

Tom Senior at

In a speech in Tokyo, covered by Develop, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has announced that Windows 8 will be launched for PCs, tablets and smartphones next year, and has been designed with gaming in mind. According to a Techradar source, "Windows 8 will represent a real new push into PC gaming. Gaming will be a key component for the whole OS."

Microsoft appear to have abandoned PC gaming in recent years. Even Sony had a stronger PC line-up than the software giant at last year's E3. Things have shifted recently, however, with the announcement of a PC version of Fable 3, a revamped Games for Windows Marketplace, and recent work on the upcoming Age of Empires Online. If Microsoft are serious about returning to PC gaming, E3 2011 could represent quite a turnaround from last year's conference. We'll know for sure in LA in just a few weeks time.

Leaked Windows 8 app store shots show games focus

Jaz McDougall at

Just when you thought Microsoft had all but forgotten that PCs were anything more than a tool for designing Xbox games, some design sketches for Windows 8 are leaked and they're full of pictures of the PC with love hearts on. More importantly, a casual gaming store.