Building Windows 8

An inside look from the Windows engineering team

  • Building Windows 8

    Improvements in Windows Explorer

    • 1,343 Comments
    Windows Explorer is a foundation of the user experience of the Windows desktop and has undergone several design changes over the years, but has not seen a substantial change in quite some time. Windows 8 is about reimagining Windows, so we took on the challenge to improve the most widely used desktop tool (except maybe for Solitaire) in Windows. Alex Simons on the program management team authored this post with a detailed look at the evolution of Explorer and the major improvements to its interface...
  • Building Windows 8

    Creating the Windows 8 user experience

    • 784 Comments
    This blog often focuses on the bits and features and less on the “philosophy” or “context” of the product. Given the level of brand new innovations in Windows 8, however, we think it is worth putting Windows 8 in the context in which we approached the design. As with any significant change to a broadly used product , Windows 8 has generated quite a bit of discussion. With millions of people using the Consumer Preview for their daily work, we’ve seen just as many points...
  • Building Windows 8

    Reflecting on your comments on the Start screen

    • 767 Comments
    We've been having a lot of discussion regarding the two recent posts on the Windows 8 Start experience. Those of you who have used the Developer Preview are contributing to our understanding of your individual usage patterns and what is easier or more difficult than in Windows 7. As a reminder, we released Windows Developer Preview build with the full product "enabled" even though we still had much feature work to do in the user interface. We did this in order to foster the dialog and we want folks...
  • Building Windows 8

    Welcome to Windows 8 – The Consumer Preview

    • 665 Comments
    Today is a big day for the Windows team. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain a few moments ago, we unveiled the Windows 8 Consumer Preview to our partners and press. Based on a broad range of feedback, we have made over 100,000 code changes and the Consumer Preview represents a refined product ready for broad and daily usage by those of you willing to test a pre-release OS. You can download the Consumer Preview starting now at http://preview.windows.com . If you tried the Windows 8 Developer...
  • Building Windows 8

    Improving our file management basics: copy, move, rename, and delete

    • 630 Comments
    We wanted to do an early Windows 8 post about one of the most used features, and one we have not improved substantially in a long time. With the increasing amount of local storage measured in terabytes, containing photos (in multiple formats and very large files), music, and video, these common operations are being taxed in new ways. These changes, along with consistent feedback about what we could improve, have inspired us to take a fresh look and redesign these operations. Of course this is just...
  • Building Windows 8

    Going behind the scenes building Windows 8

    • 626 Comments
    As we start to talk about some more of the details of the Consumer Preview release and some of the changes, or just features we haven't had a chance to blog about yet, we wanted to take a step back and re-introduce the team a bit--a reminder of the people behind the features we talk about. Building Windows 8 is a pretty significant undertaking and involves a team with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We're proud of the fact that the diversity on our own team reflects the diversity of the customers...
  • Building Windows 8

    Designing the Start screen

    • 603 Comments
    Thank you for the comments and feedback on the previous post. We definitely get the message that there's a lot of feedback and passion around the design. We're going to continue talking about the design and answering your questions and comments through these blog posts. We designed Start to be a modern, fast and fluid replacement for the combination of launching, switching, notifying, and at-a-glance viewing of information. That's a tall order. And of course, we set out to do this for the vast majority...
  • Building Windows 8

    Delivering the Windows 8 Release Preview

    • 554 Comments
    Today, Windows 8 Release Preview is available for download in 14 languages. This is our final pre-release, and includes Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10, new Windows 8 apps for connecting to Hotmail, SkyDrive, and Messenger (and many more), and hundreds of new and updated apps in the Windows Store. Since our first preview release last September, millions of people now use the pre-release product on a daily basis and millions more have been taking it through its paces, totaling hundreds of millions...
  • Building Windows 8

    Updating our built-in apps for Windows 8

    • 554 Comments
    We’re super excited to be approaching general availability (GA) of Windows 8 and Windows RT. With thousands of new apps in the Store, there are a lot to choose from and tens of thousands of developers have been very busy around the world creating new apps. Across Microsoft we’ve been busy since August adding new features and improving the apps that come with Windows and will be updating these apps before GA. We’ll introduce new features, improve performance, and increase reliability. This post is...
  • Building Windows 8

    Reflecting on our first conversations (part 2)

    • 533 Comments
    As mentioned at the start of the last post, I wanted to pause for a moment and look back at the dialogue we’ve had via this blog, further exploring a few of the exchanges and inquires, just as we did with the Engineering Windows 7 blog. We’ll pick up where we left off the last post, discussing the importance of feedback, and then we’ll look at the discussions around the Ribbon, Metro style, and Media Center availability. Ribbon We thought the amount of energy around the redesign...
  • Building Windows 8

    Running the Consumer Preview: system recommendations

    • 481 Comments
    We’re very excited to get to the point in the project where we can provide a pre-release version of Windows 8 that is broadly usable by the tech community on a daily basis. We know folks who are anxious to run the Windows 8 Consumer Preview are probably interested in suggestions around what hardware to use. This post provides the technical details behind system recommendations. These are not system requirements , and are not final, but simply a view of what works best for running the Consumer Preview...
  • Building Windows 8

    Delivering fast boot times in Windows 8

    • 419 Comments
    When it comes to talking about "fundamentals" we want to start with boot time – no feature gets talked about and measured more. We designed Windows 8 so that you shouldn't have to boot all that often (and we are always going to work on reducing the number of required restarts due to patching running code). But when you do boot we want it to be as fast as possible. This is a very deep topic and we have a lot of folks focused on it. We made a bigger leap in this area with Windows 8 than we...
  • Building Windows 8

    Acting on file management feedback

    • 391 Comments
    As we approach our next public milestone, we will begin to circle back to topics we covered in the blog and talk about the changes we’ve made to the product since the Developer Preview. As we've said often, we read the comments, newsgroup discussions, and reviews that have been written about Windows 8 and track the feedback carefully. We listen to this feedback by taking into account the source of the feedback and factoring in the intended audience for features as well as trying to reconcile conflicting...
  • Building Windows 8

    Welcome to Building Windows 8

    • 386 Comments
    Building the next release of Microsoft Windows is an industry-wide effort that Microsoft approaches with a strong sense of responsibility and humility. Windows 8 reimagines Windows for a new generation of computing devices, and will be the very best operating system for hundreds of millions of PCs, new and old, used by well over a billion people globally. We've been hard at work designing and building Windows 8, and today we want to begin an open dialog with those of you who will be trying out the...
  • Building Windows 8

    Designing search for the Start screen

    • 381 Comments
    Given the ton of interest in the design of the new Start screen we wanted to dive deeper into the topic of search. There's a clear focus on efficiency and overall professional productivity in the comments. For professional scenarios, every keystroke matters. One new aspect of the Windows 8 platform is the ability for Metro style apps to deliver a customized search "contract." For this post we'll focus on the built-in search capabilities for files, settings, and apps, which update the Windows 7 search...
  • Building Windows 8

    Web browsing in Windows 8 Consumer Preview with IE10

    • 376 Comments
    In this post we want to talk about the new Internet Explorer 10 browsing experience.  We have considerably improved the underlying browsing engine with performance , standards, and features as we have previously blogged about.  IE10 designed for a Metro style experience is a new and improved way of browsing, where you can truly focus on the information you want to browse rather than the task of browsing – a fully immersive experience.  At the same time it provides all of the safety...
  • Building Windows 8

    Designing for Metro style and the desktop

    • 369 Comments
    We thought it would be good to take a moment to talk about where we are heading in terms of the user interface of Windows 8. By now you've seen two different elements of the Windows 8 design—first, a Metro style user interface we showed previously and in a video seen by millions of folks. And recently, we have described in this blog some of the enhancements we’re making to familiar Windows desktop tools such as Explorer and the copy file dialog. We’ve seen a lot of dialog about...
  • Building Windows 8

    The Windows 8 Task Manager

    • 363 Comments
    As we mentioned during the Windows 8 keynote at //build/, every 15 years or so we choose to update Task Manager. Of course that was said in jest as we have incrementally improved the utility in just about every release of Windows. For Windows 8, we took a new look at the tool and thought through some new scenarios and a new way of tuning the tool for "both ends of the spectrum" in terms of end-users and those that need very fine-grained control over what is going on with their PC. Ryan Haveson, the...
  • Building Windows 8

    Evolving the Start menu

    • 357 Comments
    This post kicks off a series of posts on the design of the Start screen and the evolution of the core activity of launching and switching programs. Some folks are calling the Start screen the "Metro shell" for Windows 8, but for us it is the evolution of the Start menu and associated functions. We've been watching the comments closely and have seen the full spectrum of reactions as one would expect when the core interface changes. We want to use these blog posts to have a dialog that reflects back...
  • Building Windows 8

    Accessing data in ISO and VHD files

    • 310 Comments
    In continuing with the improvements in core Windows functionality and also oft-requested features, we are adding native Explorer support for ISO and VHD files in Windows 8. While terabytes of storage are available to all of us, managing disk (or disc) image formats remains important for a number of mission-critical operations in many organizations and among power users. We know even more support for VHD is a big request, so stay tuned. Rajeev Nagar authored this post. He is a group program manager...
  • Building Windows 8

    Making personal cloud storage for Windows available anywhere, with the new SkyDrive

    • 303 Comments
    In February, we told you about our goals for connecting your apps, files, PCs, and devices to the cloud with SkyDrive and Windows 8 . Since then, we have provided the App Preview of a Windows 8 app to access SkyDrive, and we’ve updated the SkyDrive web experience. Today, we are delivering new capabilities for SkyDrive across the Windows platform. Mike Torres, and Omar Shahine, group program managers for SkyDrive, co-wrote this post. --Steven     Over the last year we’ve been hard at...
  • Building Windows 8

    Building Windows for the ARM processor architecture

    • 299 Comments
    One of the notable aspects of Microsoft Windows has been the flexibility the architecture has shown through shifts in technology and expansion of customer usage over time. What started out as an operating system for one person working solo with productivity software is now the foundation of a wide array of hardware and software technologies, a spectrum of connected Windows products, and an incredibly flexible approach to computing. With Windows 8 , we have reimagined Windows from the chipset to the...
  • Building Windows 8

    Welcome to Windows 8 – The Developer Preview

    • 292 Comments
    If you’ve been following this blog, then you know today is a big day for the Windows team. At the BUILD conference we are about to preview Windows 8. There’s a ton to see in the product and so we’d really encourage everyone to check out the available streams on http://buildwindows.com , where we will webcast the keynote. The BUILD conference this week is focused on developers and hardware partners, and there are over 100 sessions (all of which will be available from the link above...
  • Building Windows 8

    Optimizing for both landscape and portrait

    • 287 Comments
    As we have demonstrated Windows 8 in many forums, we've tended to use landscape orientation (widescreen) quite a bit. Primarily that's because often we're projecting, and it makes for a better experience that way. Another reason is that many of the early devices (such as the Samsung tablet issued at //build/ with Windows Developer Preview) are widescreen, which is ideal for showing side-by-side applications using the new Snap feature, and that tends to work well in landscape. We have done a ton of...
  • Building Windows 8

    Introducing the team

    • 272 Comments
    Thanks for the comments and the flood of email we received (and to the number of folks now following us on Twitter, too). It is definitely humbling to see all the enthusiasm and interest. There are clearly already few important threads in the initial comments, some of which are based on the previews of the Windows 8 user experience. We’re definitely gearing up to discuss these issues, the design, and tradeoffs. Windows 8 has new features across the full breadth of the product. It takes quite...
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