Windows 8: test and review (1)

eqijeke 2012 M11 28

Three years almost to the day after the launch of Asus a32-m50 Windows 7 operating system, Microsoft gives a successor with Windows 8. Commercially available in final version from around the world...

Three years almost to the day after the launch of Asus a32-m50 Windows 7 operating system, Microsoft gives a successor with Windows 8. Commercially available in final version from around the world on October 26, Windows 8 is one of the most ambitious paris made by Microsoft in recent years.

Shortly after the commercial launch of Windows 7, and while the sales figures were clearly in favor of the software giant, Steve Ballmer, CEO of publisher, said that the next version of Windows was his largest risk taking. While these remarks had caused some question at the time of development of the various versions of Windows 8 have enlightened us on why and how.

Since the first announcements at CES 2011, Microsoft likes to describe as a Windows 8 Windows reinvented the chipset to the user experience itself. And for good reason! And more open to the Asus G50 Series ARM architecture with a dedicated version called RT Windows, Microsoft has good foothold in the market always coveted tablets with its new operating system.

And while the user interface étrennée on the latest smartphones Windows Phone has convinced critics for its freshness and originality, now it is found in the heart propelled the new Windows. Known during the long development phase as the Metro interface in question is now called Modern UI. Thought to take advantage of multi-touch screens tablets, Modern UI also works with your keyboard and mouse. Because with Windows 8 Microsoft has a single operating system intended for desktop PCs, tablets and other portable computers to experience billed as "no compromise". A challenge?

Before answering this question, the parallel with Apple is particularly instructive here. When Apple can not be accused of delay in the Post PC era, evolved in parallel two separate operating systems: Asus V50V iOS for mobile devices and Mac OS X computers, Microsoft a much more symbiotic. Fusion so that the next version of Windows Phone, Windows Phone 8, is built around the core of Windows 8! Therefore two distinct approaches for the same purpose.

But Windows 8 is not an interface, it is also a strategic shift for Microsoft offering for the first time on PC, therefore with a commercial operating system, a shop application, Windows Store. Necessarily parallel with the App Store or Google Play is required, and if the user arrival of a boutique software is synonymous with simplicity (some would say a more controlled environment), it rhymes with source additional revenue to Redmond.

Beyond these considerations,Asus M50 Series Windows 8 brings a number of improvements in all directions, copying files to the installation experience through the side ultra-connected in the cloud. And while Microsoft is often criticized for too many editions of Windows and price, the publisher made a gesture! Windows 8 is broken down to the final customer in two editions with updated rate almost unheard of from Microsoft, but it is true of limited duration. Overview of Windows 8!

Modern UI design, a code, a language!

As the cornerstone of the new Windows Metro interface found, since renamed Modern UI for stories fairly explicit ownership of the brand in some markets. The reader will not hold us to refer to rigor Modern UI under the name Metro from time to time throughout this paper.

Back on the genesis ... With the first version of Windows Phone, Microsoft showed a concept touchscreen GUI relatively novel one of whose characteristics is sobriety. While most of Microsoft's competitors were constantly aping Apple's iOS, the company Bill Gates managed to surprise with a truly unique interface with its own identity.

Modern UI with focus is given to the text and to information that is how the interface is very uncluttered and graphically speaking to showcase content via a font easily identifiable: Segoe. Giving importance to the text rather than icons ... this is a concept with which Microsoft had already played for designing the interface of Windows Media Center and the Zune. With Metro, forgiveness Modern UI, iconography is relayed to the background and the tiny elements of the Asus A33-U50 GUI in favor of hubs easily identifiable, ie large squares or rectangles of color.

Navigation provides a side-scrolling while the concept of tiles is obviously putting on a PC so that each application represented by a dynamic tile can deliver continuous notifications / information. We're here far from the pellet indicating the number of messages a iOS / Mac OS X. The tiles can thus continuously display of text, images and other elements based applications.

If Modern UI was originally designed for smartphones, its adaptation PC was of course made to be controllable with the mouse and keyboard, if the terminal is not without a touch screen. Over the months and Windows Phone, Microsoft has made ubiquitous by deploying Metro including its gaming console or entertainment device rather his salon, likes to say as Steve Ballmer, Xbox 360. With Windows 8, the loop is looped and Modern UI is at the heart of the multi-screen editor: Smartphone, PC, tablets and TV.

OS but two distinct user experiences

Before going further, it is necessary now to introduce two concepts cohabiting at the heart of Windows 8. While Modern UI is the GUI default Windows 8, which appears after loading the OS made, it is not a substitute for both the Windows desktop. It remains accessible from Modern UI, and that one is on a tablet PC or a laptop, Intel version or ARM version. This is from the desktop ASUS Eee PC 1005HA which is found in its traditional applications provided of course have a x86 system.

This is where Microsoft may be the first encounter real difficulty in his vision of "One size fits all." Because it is clear that Modern UI suited for mobile devices, it's a safe bet that the office is the interface of choice for PC users. In fact, if the publisher offers much the same operating system, the user experience will be radically different than it is on Modern UI or on the desktop. And as you can not choose between one or the other, trips / constant returns between these two worlds can grate on the nerves of some.

Windows RT: Wintel harmed!

For over 25 years, Microsoft is the partner of choice and reference Intel, the founder and manufacturer of Pentium or Core of our computers. In the past, Microsoft has made some unfaithful to Intel, but never Redmond had gone so far. Do you think Windows 8 is fully focused on ARM, as the Windows RT, and the avowed aim to bring Windows to other terminal types as single PC!

In this context, Microsoft has worked with three ARM chip manufacturers:ASUS UX50V NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. The result is called WOA or Windows On ARM, since in Windows repabtisé RT, and it is according to a version that Microsoft Windows family joined in a broad sense as well as Windows Embedded, Windows Phone or Windows Server. The primary feature of Windows RT user experience identical to x86 and x64 versions of Windows 8: Whether to connect the system to launch an application or access the shop windows. And that's not all, because contrary to rumors last fall, the Windows desktop is alive and well in the heart of Windows RT. However, if the office is present, its usefulness is limited access to conventional tools for Windows file management, following Office 2013 included, or not Modern UI version of Internet Explorer 10.

As much clear now, that is one of the historical forces of Windows, namely software compatibility is not the agenda of Windows RT. It will not be possible to run Office 2010 on Windows On ARM or any other application legacy, Microsoft does provide for any emulation layer. One remembers that at the time of the transition to Intel Power PC, Apple had proposed Rosetta emulation solution for Dell Inspiron 1320 Battery Power PC applications to run on the x86 version of Mac OS.

This inconsistency is all the more regrettable that the only source application installation for Windows is the Windows Store RT. This provides both the Modern UI applications for ARM architecture and x86/x64. Ditto for the drivers to be downloaded from the Windows Store duo or Microsoft Update / Windows Update. In short, not only you can not emulate X86 applications, but you will never see, eg, ARM versions of LibreOffice and other popular software, available for download.

The surprise is that RT comes standard Windows applications Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote from Office 2013 RT, but not Outlook. It is probably for Microsoft to overcome the obvious criticism of the lack of backward compatibility with Windows RT existing software. Indeed difficult to explain to Madame Michu, sorry to Mamie Cantal, its Office 2010 is incompatible with the tablet ARM unless of course he delivers the newest version of Office with. Remains how the regulators appreciate the thing, because at other times including a suite in an dell inspiron 6400operating system would clearly have been seen as an abuse of dominant position.

From a purely technical point of view, Windows RT course been many challenges, the definition of clear and quite strict specifications from Microsoft for its partner manufacturers to design a new kernel or kernel. This is what is more with a new boot process having to do with the peculiarities of the ARM architecture as the impossibility to enumerate the devices connected to the system from its inception. Moreover, the little guys Redmond had to write a number of generic drivers to operate devices as indispensable as Bluetooth, 3G, GPS or printers. Regarding the graphics cores in SOC embedded ARM as the famous NVIDIA Tegra is the designer of the chip to support DirectX driver development.

A final word on the non-management company acquired certain features of longtime Windows. RT and the Windows can not connect to a domain and hence the Active Directory. Some salute this initiative, as well as the Windows leaves RT anyway much less freedom to the user, while others find that it does stain when Windows claims that RT is part of the Windows family ...

A new development model for Windows: WinRT!

Since the Modern UI interface gives primacy to information and delivering the applications, it is of course new applications. And again the developers have redesigned Windows Redmond: the ex-Metro applications should be written according to a new development model.

While the Redmond highlights for years and its API development techniques such as Win32 or. NET (we dare talk about Silverlight here), the Modern UI applications must be written with modern development languages. XAML, with the HMTL CSS or JavaScript are here at the heart of Microsoft's recommendations even if the languages ​​are more traditional course of events (C / C + + / C # / JavaScript / Visual Basic). It should be noted, moreover, that most applications Microsoft for a Modern UI as Mail or Calendar are written in HTML and JavaScript.

Dell Studio 1558 Developers will build on the new WinRT API Runtime or Windows compatible with ARM architecture as well as the x86/x64 architectures. These allow easy access to key features of Windows based on three pillars: communication, data, graphics and media, and printing devices. However, there is of course no question of using WinRT to create services or drivers. But even this does not mean that WinRT API is limited to simplistic application development such as the famous Moo boxes ... that made the heyday of the first Nokia. No, because WinRT applications can even call some APIs like DirectX Windows historic or even including Media Foundation. And as if all that was not enough confusion, Microsoft also allows applications using Modern UI WinRT to use subsets old API as Win32 and COM particular! What blur a little tracks.

In all cases, WinRT applications running in sandbox mode (sandbox in English), which gives them security and reliability: if a WinRT app crashes, it does not cause other crashes. Always safety, Apple WinRT must declare their digital certificates in the resources they will access, which will be verified by the validation team and Store Windows shown to the user when selecting a software on the Windows Store to install. And that's not all since suspended Modern UI app is an app that does not consume memory.

And of course it is always possible to develop for Windows 8 based on. NET or Win32 applications created and will not be compatible with Windows RT (variant of Windows 8 ARM) then they s' run in the desktop environment.

Arrival of Windows Store

For the first time in the world on Windows PC Inspiron 1210, Microsoft introduced a kiosk applications as Apple and the Mac App Store. However, the Windows Store is only accessible from the Modern UI interface and aims to provide above all Metro applications. If applications for the traditional Windows desktop can be referenced via the Desktop App Certification, the process of buying and downloading will run outside the Windows Store with a reference to the publisher's website .

We wrote earlier, the Windows Store offers everything both x86/x64 and ARM versions Metro applications, applications that will necessarily appeal to WinRT. But before falling into the listings of the shop, the Modern UI applications must comply with the requirements of Microsoft development and undergo the validation process established by the publisher.

It wants clear, documented, transparent (as opposed perhaps to that introduced by Apple?) And fast (6 days or less!). Developers in addition to being guided from the start of the design of their app from Visual Studio 2012 may follow step by step the stages of validation via a dedicated interface.

Modern UI for an app to be approved, it must undergo two gates: one is automatic and also available to developers through the Windows App Certification Kit that performs an analysis of the app and code for s' ensure that it does not violate any rules established by the publisher. The other is with a team of manual testers human ensuring that the application meets the rules laid down by Microsoft. These formalities app is found subsequently available on the Windows Store.

Another specificity of this shop: it will host a single version of software and software in principle each subject is available in x86 and ARM. In practice we see that this is not quite correct some software is available for Windows x86 drafts (in the case of Power Dell Studio 1440 Battery for example). A few months ago, Microsoft stated that Windows Store apps allow discovery via a trial period. This choice ultimately falling to the developer. Such a good idea that makes a number of applications now referenced on the Windows Store did not just trial version ...

Side of licenses and their management, software purchased one can run on a maximum of five computers. On the sixth authorized computer it is possible to de-authorize computers from the Windows Store.

The Windows Store maintains the applications purchased and installed for their update. They are automatically downloaded when available (except on a 3G connection) and the user approves or not their installation. It is possible for the user to initiate the search itself update, Microsoft uses the opportunity to notify the user via its dynamic tiles by including a number on the icon Store Windows Start screen . This figure simply indicates the number of available updates.

And since we must speak of money at one time or another, Microsoft receives indeed a commission on each sale made from the Windows Store: 30% with a default rate reduced to 20% from the sales generated more than 25,000 dollars in revenue for the year. As the price of software, they can be free (so no perception of a commission by Microsoft) with or pay a minimum price of 1.19 euro. Finally, as a developer, must in all cases have a developer account paying Store Windows (37 € per year for individuals, € 75 per year for companies) to submit apps. These conditions indicate a fairly aggressive policy compared to Apple, which routinely maintains 30% of each sale, and developers invoice accounts 99 euros per year.

An enhanced core for better performance

With Studio 1555 Windows 8, the Windows kernel, ie the kernel, change significantly and now in version 6.2. Obviously we are talking nuclei x86/x64, Windows Kernel RT it is brand new. Managing the memory, for example the subject of various attentions. And to reduce the memory footprint of Windows 8, the system will prevent a well known phenomenon, but frankly disturbing: the multiplication of duplicates in memory. The OS will then analyze the contents of the memory in search of duplicate content and release areas and used for identification only after keeping a single copy. No direct impact on applications, this technique should allow Microsoft to collect as tens or hundreds of megabytes of RAM (depending of course on the number of applications used at the same time).

Always with a view to a better memory optimization, services started automatically with Windows were retoques: Microsoft has removed 13 services starting at each launch of the OS and not necessarily useful. They will now be started on demand (and subsequently arrested once made their performance).

More fundamentally, the rewriting of a number of components including low-level Windows date code of early NT. The idea is to "réarchitecturer" the code in question by changing the data structures and separating memory areas heavily used areas less frequently used. Thereby consolidating the memory portions frequently referenced, Microsoft said get a reduction in memory usage with the scale of tens of megabytes.

What's more, Windows 8 provides a more detailed prioritization of memory allows applications to allocate memory mode low priority that should be avoided where, as the available memory gets too low, an application stops responding in favor of another.

Security, Windows 8 has for the first time Secure Boot. This is to rely on the UEFI BIOS to ensure the integrity of the chain to start the OS and prevent diversion initiated by malware or rootkit. The problem of Secure Boot problem because there is the fear that some new Vostro 1510 PC manufacturers do not offer the option to disable them in BIOS and it would be impossible to make dual-boot the machine with Windows 8 and a Linux system, for example because the Windows kernel detects a charger modified operating system. In the state, and although Microsoft denies it a little easy, the problem is indeed on the side of OEMs: lock them (or not) their new machines.

Chapter energy saving, Windows 8 introduces Connected Standby mode. This is to bring to the PC, the power mode of a smartphone with a start instant and immediate extinction, while allowing applications and system updates and stay connected even when n is not used. Specifically, the Connected Standby is neither a watch nor hibernation: it is off the screen while the system is running, but to consume the least possible. Technically, this involves management of three new Windows 8 power state with certain requirements in terms of reactivity among others. To take advantage of Connected Standby it will therefore have a hardware platform compatible. Luckily, the new Z2760 Intel Atom chips, code-named CloverTrail, already are!

We also find in Windows 8 a new concept called Hybrid Boot. This is to speed up the loading of the operating system. In conjunction with a UEFI BIOS, the system closes the sessions if users do not close the kernel session when you pause the machine. It is written to your Dell Vostro 1015 hard disk or SSD and reloaded at startup so that it is faster. Note that what Microsoft calls the French version of Windows 8 the "Quick Start" can be disabled in the Power Options.

Side graphics, Microsoft has also redesigned the architecture of its youngest. This is in addition to the integration of DirectX 11.1, a larger number of elements constituting the interface is hardware-accelerated. This is now the case of displaying text or simple geometric shapes, elements commonly used by applications Modern UI. Microsoft Announces Performance by up to 438% higher against Windows 7. The use of video memory has been optimized especially through the new graphics driver model introduced with Windows 8, the WDDM 1.2. It is far from trivial since it allows the system to implement a graphical operating preemptive multitasking while stereoscopic 3D rendering and playback of 3D video are now supported natively.

Rendering images in JPEG / GIF and PNG is also advertised as faster thanks to the use of SIMD units of modern processors. Here Microsoft SSE instructions use the processor and regardless of the processor manufacturer.

On the Inspiron 1521 hardware side, Windows 8 launches for the first time the native support of USB 3.0. USB 3.0 controllers are well known and there is no need to install additional drivers. A good point so that we could check with the controller Renesas (formerly NEC) of our test system, but also with the latest Intel chipsets like the Z77.

Let us add that Windows 8 includes Hyper-V, Windows Server 2012 as that used to virtualize operating systems. This is to replace Microsoft Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode for Windows 7 that have outlived their usefulness.

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