Building Windows 8

An inside look from the Windows engineering team

  • Building Windows 8

    Signing in with a picture password

    • 73 Comments
    Picture password is a new way to sign in to Windows 8 that is currently in the Developer Preview. Let’s go behind the scenes and see how secure this is and how it was built. One of the neat things about the availability of a touch screen is that it provides an opportunity to look at a new way to sign in to your PC. While many of us might prefer to remove the friction of getting to a PC by running without a password, for most of us, and in most situations this is not the case or is at least...
  • Building Windows 8

    Protecting your digital identity

    • 76 Comments
    We live in a world of usernames, passwords, and PINs when it comes to using our computing devices connected to the Internet. These are very important elements of the digital economy and providing the infrastructure for these in Windows is serious business. This work starts with the most basic step of signing in to Windows, and then includes the technologies used to secure the myriad of accounts you will come to use over time. In this post we take a look at the architectural improvements to Windows...
  • Building Windows 8

    Windows Store event and blog

    • 92 Comments
    Today at our Windows Store Preview event in San Francisco, Antoine Leblond revealed the business terms and app policies for anyone developing apps for our new Windows Store. He showed some of the great apps that will be available in the Store at Windows 8 Beta, and demonstrated the design, capabilities, and flexibility of the Store as a platform . Antoine has also just started a new Windows Store for developers blog , where he will provide info and updates related to the Store for anyone interested...
  • Building Windows 8

    Enabling large disks and large sectors in Windows 8

    • 128 Comments
    One of the most basic services provided by an OS is the file system, and Windows has one of the most advanced file systems of any operating system used broadly. In Windows 7 we improved things substantially in terms of reliability, management, and robustness (for example, automating completely the antiquated notion of "defrag" ). In Windows 8 we build on this work by focusing on scale and capacity. Bryan Matthew, a program manager on the Storage & File System team, authored this post...
  • Building Windows 8

    Improving the setup experience

    • 134 Comments
    Installing Windows is a complex operation that provides an incredibly unique capability—the ability to run a new version of Windows on a vast array of hardware configurations and combinations that were designed with no knowledge of a future Windows, even a version with substantial re-architecture of the Kernel. While most people do not experience the full code path of setup/upgrade (because they buy new PCs and choose to get a new version of Windows that way), even orchestrating the new PC “out of...
  • Building Windows 8

    Minimizing restarts after automatic updating in Windows Update

    • 217 Comments
    Before the Internet, updates such as service packs and "patches" were impossibly hard to come by. You ordered upgrade "media" or maybe bought a magazine with a CD in it. Of course, the Internet changed all that. In fact, when ftp.microsoft.com was first set up, among the first services was the ability to get updates for MS-DOS and Windows. With the introduction of Windows Update, we invested heavily in building not just a software delivery service, but a commitment to delivering...
  • Building Windows 8

    Building a power-smart general-purpose Windows

    • 154 Comments
    In this post, we look at the broad topic of developing an OS to reduce power consumption. We've seen an ever-increasing emphasis on power management in the OS from two perspectives. First, as Windows 8 comes to market, it is easy to see two-thirds of all PCs shipping as portable devices operating on batteries some or most of the time. And second, in the workplace, there is an increasing demand for desktop machines with a reduced carbon footprint as we look to save energy wherever we can. In all cases...
  • Building Windows 8

    Updating live tiles without draining your battery

    • 151 Comments
    One thing that is becoming far more commonplace across all of our “screens” is the idea of lightweight notifications. Originally, Windows Gadgets were to offer this type of functionality—the idea is a quick heads up display for some critical information (news, weather, sports scores, or line of business events are a few examples). However, the startup time and model of Gadgets are not compatible with reducing overall power consumption (something that is important in a desktop and...
  • Building Windows 8

    Using Task Manager with 64+ logical processors

    • 190 Comments
    Ryan Haveson, a group program manager on the User Experience team, wanted to update folks on some progress with Task Manager since the Windows Developer Preview. In this post you'll find the updated Task Manager tools for managing systems with a large number of logical processors. This is scalability well beyond desktop PCs, and is designed for the server and data center. A big part of Windows development is that the OS scales across a wide range of form factors and CPU architectures. Note on...
  • 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

    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

    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

    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

    Reducing runtime memory in Windows 8

    • 200 Comments
    Fundamentals such as memory usage represent a key engineering tenet of Windows 8. In building Windows 8 we set out to significantly reduce the overall runtime memory requirements of the core system. This is always good for everyone and especially in a world where people want to run more and more apps at the same time or run on systems with only 1 or 2GB of memory. The laptop we talk about in this post is the exact same one we talked about at the Windows 7 PDC in 2008 – an off-the-shelf, first-generation...
  • 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

    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

    Extending "Windows 8" apps to the cloud with SkyDrive

    • 88 Comments
    Building on the recent post about signing in to Windows 8 with a Windows Live ID, we wanted to talk a bit about using SkyDrive from within new Windows 8 Metro style apps. While apps get some amount of "automatic usage" of SkyDrive to roam settings, and the apps themselves roam, we know developers are anxious to make it easy for customers of their applications to have data they create roam easily across devices. SkyDrive is a great way to do this as every Windows Live ID has a free cloud-based drive...
  • Building Windows 8

    Signing in to Windows 8 with a Windows Live ID

    • 182 Comments
    With Windows 8, we introduce the optional capability to sign in to your PC with a Windows Live ID and, by doing so, gaining the ability to roam a broad range of settings across all of your PCs. In this article by Katie Frigon, the group program manager of the You-Centered Experience team, she describes the feature and its benefits. --Steven Each Windows user wants to have the ability to set up and use a PC in a way that is unique to them. Doing so, however, can be challenging in today’s multiple...
  • Building Windows 8

    Protecting the pre-OS environment with UEFI

    • 186 Comments
    There have been some comments about how Microsoft implemented secure boot and unfortunately these seemed to synthesize scenarios that are not the case so we are going to use this post as a chance to further describe how UEFI enables secure boot and the options available to PC manufacturers. The most important thing to understand is that we are introducing capabilities that provide a no-compromise approach to security to customers that seek this out while at the same time full and complete control...
  • Building Windows 8

    Reengineering the Windows boot experience

    • 209 Comments
    Phew!  We're all back from BUILD and focused on our next milestone.  It is fair to say we had an awesome time showing everyone Windows 8 in depth and all of our speakers and Microsoft attendees are unbelievably appreciative for the warm reception you gave the product.  We know it is early still--a developer preview--and there are lots of questions.  We're going to be answering them in new posts as we focus on using the Windows Developer Preview (WDP) as a baseline--so if you haven...
  • Building Windows 8

    Running Windows 8 Developer Preview in a virtual environment

    • 142 Comments
    We wanted to do a quick post on compatibility with respect to virtualization technologies. We know there were some initial challenges and we've seen the community support process kick in and many people are unblocked as "how to" posts have gone up in various places. As this is a developer preview we expect to see other classes of issues related to app or device compatibility—the full breadth of our testing was not done (or intended to be done) for the Preview. Obviously this one was found...
  • Building Windows 8

    Protecting you from malware

    • 120 Comments
    One of the things we talk quite a bit about with Windows 8 is making sure Windows is a safe, secure, and reliable computing environment. We have always provided a broad range of solutions for achieving these goals and work closely with a broad range of industry partners. We continue to enhance these capabilities with Windows 8 while making sure you always have choice and control over how to protect and manage your PC. With Windows 8 we are extending the protections provided by Defender to address...
  • Building Windows 8

    Metro style browsing and plug-in free HTML5

    • 253 Comments
    One of the first things a lot of folks will try after installing the developer preview of Windows 8 will be the IE10 browser—the most used tool in Windows. IE 10 in the preview is Platform Preview 3 of IE 10.  You can read on the IE blog about the HTML 5 engine work we’re doing. This post is about a big change in Metro style IE, which is the plug-in free experience. In Windows 8, IE 10 is available as a Metro style app and as a desktop app. The desktop app continues to fully support all plug...
  • Building Windows 8

    Metro style browsing: one engine, two experiences, no compromises

    • 96 Comments
    We are very happy to have received such a warm welcome from developers yesterday as we kicked off a pretty big opportunity with Windows 8. Our focus on B8 now moves to the Developer Preview and what is in it and how it evolves. We hope those choosing to participate in the blog are installing and using the build. While it is early and focused on developers, it is also quite fun to use. I am doing all my posts from the conference via the Samsung Preview tablet! We wanted to talk some about Metro style...
  • Building Windows 8

    Best place to discuss Windows 8

    • 165 Comments
    I wanted to offer a pointer to the best place to have discussions about Windows 8. Please head over to the forums we have set up to discuss the product and answer questions.  As we have seen, the commenting mechanism is not a great place to have a wide variety of topics different than the topic of the post while keeping track of the discussion. We set up this short URL to be easy to remember: http://win8.ms/forums gets you to the general forum.   -Steven
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