Windows 8 Blue – Netbooks Done Right?

Did Windows Blue Blow it?

After Microsoft’s Windows 8 was widely criticized by users and tech experts alike, the tech giant is prepared to release an updated version in the form of Windows Blue. The revamp is slated to be released this year, but last week screenshots of the latest build were posted to a Polish tech forum. Tech Expert Karl Volkman of Chicagos SRV Network, Inc., weighs in on the leak.

“Windows 8 was not well received by the public, which makes this Microsoft’s chance to regain some relevance in the industry,” says Volkman. “Windows Blue brings a lot to the table, including a larger focus on tablet and mobile use as opposed to desktop. Well have a clearer picture of Windows Blues capabilities upon its release, but from the leak its safe to say there are many improved features.”

The Windows Blue leak shows a Start screen that offers options to personalize the Live Tile appearance. It also includes increased control over color preferences, new style settings options, and an additional view that allows more options for viewing apps side by side. The leaked screenshots appear to make it easier for tablet users to change preferences without resorting to the desktop Control Panel. In addition, Internet Explorer 11 also appeared in the leak of the new build, although with little detail.

“There is still a lot of speculation surrounding Windows Blue, but the initial leak seems to be promising for better usability and customization,” observes Volkman. “From the new version we can see Microsoft is heavily invested in improving the tablet experience, inevitably furthering the demise of the desktop.”

Karl Volkman is Chief Technology Officer of SRV Network, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois, and an IT Professional with over 30 years of experience.

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Microsoft’s Changes To Windows 8 Certification Rules Hint At Potential iPad mini Competitor

Appleinsider’s Sam Oliver reports that recent changes quietly made to the Windows 8 hardware certification guidelines suggest that Microsoft could be gearing up to debut a new, smaller “Windows Reader” tablet designed to compete with more portable devices like Apple’s iPad mini.

Microsoft recently relaxed its hardware certification rules to allow devices with screen resolutions of 1,024 by 768 pixels at a depth of 32 bits. But the Redmond, Wash., company also warned developers that it doesn’t mean they are allowed to develop hardware with low-resolution displays.

Microsoft Relaxes Windows 8 Blue Minimum Resolution Requirement

The Windows Certification Newsletter says:

We’re changing the System.Client.Tablet.Graphics.MinimumResolution requirement to create a consistent minimum resolution of 1024 x 768 at a depth of 32 bits across all Windows 8 system form factors. The physical dimensions of the display panel must still match the aspect ratio of the native resolution. This doesn’t imply that we’re encouraging partners to regularly use a lower screen resolution. In fact, we see customers embracing the higher resolution screens that make a great Windows experience. We understand that partners exploring designs for certain markets could find greater design flexibility helpful.

To achieve certification with a sub-1366 x 768 panel, OEMs must explain how they will provide appropriate, clear, and conspicuous disclaimers that customers can see before they buy their PCs. For example, OEMs may use ads, websites, packaging, and/or point-of-purchase materials.

Tablet Screen Size Now Peaks At 17″

The newsletter also notes:

“We evaluate feedback from partners as they propose new designs, and we’ve found that the current definition of tablets also applies to touch all-in-ones that have a battery. That’s not what we intended. These larger systems aren’t really designed to be handheld and mobile, so the tablet features aren’t appropriate for them.

“For certification purposes, we’re tightening the definition of tablet by restricting it to systems with a screen size of 17″ or less. Above that size, touch systems without batteries and attached accessible keyboards don’t need to meet all of the tablet requirements.”

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Windows 8 Blue, Netbook 2.0? – A New Era of “Good Enough Computing”

Techpinions contributor Tim Bajarin thinks that Microsoft’s Windows Blue could be used on tablets in the 7 to 10 range as well as in clamshell laptops up to 11.6 inches, and scuttlebutt is that it will be priced aggressively to OEMs and could go to them for about $30 compared to the $75-$125 OEMs pay for Windows 8 on mainstream PCs.

However, Bajarin notes that to use this low cost version of Windows Blue, he understands there are some important caveats, shuch as for that lowball pricing, Windows Blue can only be used on Intel’s Atom or AMD’s low-voltage processors, which were designed especially for use in tablets and would give Microsoft a real opportunity to get Windows 8 tablets into the market that could go head-to-head with Apple’s iPad Mini and most mid level 7-8-inch Android tablets as well.

Clamshell laptops running Windows 8 Blue would also need to use those processors from Intel and AMD to get this pricing , but Bajarin says what’s interesting about these clamshells is that we understand that they will be fully touched based laptops with very aggressive pricing – in some respects amounting to Netbook 2.0, but for all intent and purposes, they will be full Windows 8 touch laptops only with processors not as powerful as Intel’s Core I3, I5 or I7 Chips or similar ones from AMD, and also being thin and light they could easily be categorized as Ultrabooks as well.

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