WinRT

Many Apple users have been asking Microsoft when Office for iPad will be released, and to their dismay, the project is being delayed. While this may be a disappointing notice for iOS lovers, Microsoft fans should be excited, because the delay is a result of the company wanting to focus on Office “Gemini” – a touch optimized Windows 8 set of Office applications.

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There are only a few Windows 8 laptops in production that we can consider to be the ‘high end’, machines with exacting build quality and specifications to match. While many PC makers are content to push out hum drum machines with middling specs and so so performance the same cannot be said for Lenovo and their ThinkPad range. Over the years their quality and reliability have become legend amongst the most demanding of laptop buyers.

The ThinkPad X1 comes in a body woven from Carbon fibre in a style similar to that of the current crop of Ultrabooks. Lenovo seems keen on finally shunting the look of their machines forwards and have recently adopted Chicklet keyboards and of course the wedge shape body design we have all come to recognize of late.  I’ll be kicking the tires on the X1 to see how well Lenovo have melded the heritage of ThinkPad with the modern styling of an Ultrabook.

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Keeping up to date with things we want to read can be a constant challenge, thankfully there are services which allow you to save things for later. The premise is simple, notice something on the web that you want to read and you can save it to your reading list. One such service is Instapaper, it essentially allows for a stripped down mobile-friendly version of the article for reading later.Your reading list is stored in the cloud so can be easily accessed on your computer, smartphone and tablet. 

Stacks for Instapaper has been around on Windows Phone for some time and consistently gets great reviews in the Windows Phone Store. Stacks is now available on Windows 8 and combined with an upcoming refresh of the phone app it might just make this the best Instapaper experience on both platforms. We review the Windows 8 version while taking a sneak peak at the coming update for the Windows Phone 8 app.

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Ever since Microsoft first announced to the world their intentions to “re-imagine” Windows it has been a rather wild ride. Their new touch screen user interface, WinRT wasn't just radical for its looks, it ushered in a totally new apps eco system while simultaneously sending the Start Menu to the technology grave yard.

The changes to the OS ran deep and Microsoft had been busy readying Windows 8/RT to run on the highly power efficient ARM processors. Their plans for that became clearer when they shocked the technology world by announcing their own tablet computer, the Surface. With the changes to Windows came a new declaration that Microsoft re-position themselves as a Devices and Services company. They have built their eco system and the next logical step has been to control the hardware that uses it. The culmination of their efforts in re-imagining Windows and becoming a devices and services company can we seen best in one single product, their Surface tablet running Windows RT.

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Microsoft have just launched their Windows 8 operating system and with it bundled in Xbox Music which gives users paid and free ways to stream tunes and play local tracks too. At present though the app has a few shortcomings so it’s through this lens we’re going to review Music Info by Johnny Westlake. 

By the same developer who brought us Artist Info for Windows Phone, we take a look at this highly visual music playback and discovery app and even catch up with the developer for a short Q&A at the end.

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Windows 8 apps you need to install right away

Microsoft unveiled Windows 8 yesterday and shops opened at midnight to serve up those sleek Surface tablets to hoards of people. From today you can also grab an inexpensive upgrade to Windows 8, no need to feel left out of the festivities.

We have been using and monitoring the Windows 8 store since it first became available, we thought it would be good to give you some pointers to get you up and running.

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With launch day and general availability of Surface devices set to begin in a few short days the reviews have started to appear. After months of speculation and mountains of questions about price and specs, we’re finally at the end of this saga. Microsoft have dished out Surface devices to the great and the good for some pre-release exclusives.

Surface represents a few key things for Microsoft, firstly it will be the public face of Windows 8, and secondly it is designed to showcase ARM devices and the new WinRT touch interface. From the moment it was announced this was going to be such a critical element for the entire launch of Windows 8. How well it’s received depends on not only the hardware but also the software. Check out our roundup after the break..

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This week is going to be big news for Windows 8, today Skype have released a post about the coming metro style Windows 8 app.

Set to release at the same time as Windows 8 on the 26th the app looks set to seamlessly integrate with the OS in the People hub and provide “always on” connectivity. On top of that, this looks like one of the prettiest Windows 8 apps we have seen, showing that the metro style when done right is simply gorgeous.

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Microsoft’s Surface RT tablets have only recently been made available as part of a limited pre-order. The least expensive option, the Surface 32GB without the touch cover has now sold out in Canada too.

The UK is also showing stock of the 32GB device to be unavailable with only the two more expensive options being present.

With pre-order stocks already selling through its tempting to start speculation on numbers and success. Microsoft certainly hasn't mentioned numbers and are very unlikely to do so unless they have something big to announce. If they are seeking to create some excitement around availability, selling out of an option certainly grabs attention and with it comes some urgency to be “first” or not to miss out.

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XNA is dead. Long live XNA!

So, as many of you have heard, Microsoft has killed off XNA and every game written in the framework is doomed.

Except that isn’t the whole story.

If you don’t know, XNA is a game development framework made by Microsoft to aid developers in rapidly creating cross platform games. The name stands for: XNA's Not Acronymed. Writing a game in XNA enables it to run on Windows, XBOX, Windows Phone, and the [now dead] Zune HD. The only real changes that need to be made are the controls and UI (different screen sizes). Even if you’ve never heard of XNA, chances are that you’ve played a game made in it if you’ve ever used a Windows Phone. One such game is ARMED! - which now has a Windows 8 version made in MonoGame.  XNA was loved by a lot of people, and gained popularity because it was an easy entry point into 2D and 3D game development, and it was a good way to reuse code across platforms.

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Things are starting to shake out on how pricing will look for the coming onslaught of Windows 8 machines.

Samsung has now revealed the pricing for its coming ATIV line of Smart PCs as well as its more traditional offerings. The Smart PCs get the ATIV branding, these are the machines that we associate with being hybrid designs, detachable keyboards and such. These garner most of the interest in the coming Windows 8 hardware, but will Samsung be pitching them at the right price point to convert interest into sales?

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Brendan Arndt from Three gives us a nice first look at their upcoming Asus Windows RT (Vivo Tab) tablet and it's looking good.

While many are wondering how WinRT tablets are going to sell in traditional markets, one thing is certain, the mobile industry is set to embrace these quickly. Unlike the Surface RT device, the slender Asus unit will come with built in support for connection to a mobile operator. The 10” device gets the once over in the following video. Make sure to read on past the break!

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Windows 8 has been pegged with the RTM title for some time but that does not mean it is really done. The code was simply ready to ship to PC makers and for developers to get busy creating apps.

The end user experience in Windows 8 has remained problematic, mainly due to the incomplete nature of the core app experiences when using the tile based WinRT interface. Whilst there have been a few minor updates nothing much has changed from when the OS was in its first public preview. All looks set to change as Microsoft just announced a slew of coming updates to the entire set of Microsoft WinRT apps.

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Asus seems to have leaked it’s pricing for its coming Windows 8 tablets and convertibles prompting some to leap to their word processors and get on the fear, uncertainty and doubt bandwagon.

We all know that pricing for tablets is an extremely sensitive subject, just yesterday we looked at Steve Ballmer’s interview to see what he had said about Surface pricing. Even though some sites announced there were new details surrounding pricing, we found it was the same message we already knew. Headlines such as “pricing comes in high, demand likely low” and “Windows 8 Tablets: Born to fail” seem wildly premature. We take a look as these leaked prices and what they could mean.

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The Seattle Times interviewed CEO Steve Ballmer recently and the man behind Microsoft is sounding quite confident about this year’s upcoming launches.

During the interview, Ballmer gave his impression of how momentous this year’s launch line-up will be for Microsoft and he even pulled out two Lumia 920 phones from his pockets. Many have speculated wildly on this interview in relation to Surface pricing, so we thought it was time we looked at what exactly was said…

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Interestingly on the eve of another iOS announcement, there are signs that business leaders could be more excited about the combined possibilities of Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 than iOS.  Jason Hiner spoke to some IT leaders to see what they were waiting for. The results were surprising.

Its no secret that IT departments have begrudgingly come to the current ethos of bringing your own device to work. Ever since the iPhone caught on, they have been forced to find ways to lock down and secure them, all the time trying to protect precious corporate data. I have personally worked in IT departments where they have been forced to relax corporate security by allowing iPads and iPhones and Android devices access to the network. It’s not a pretty sight, often times it has meant implementing a solution like Good to ensure that the device can provide a secure environment for email.  

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Samsung has just announced their range of Windows 8 devices. We have already touched on the ATIV S and Tab rumors earlier and now we know a whole lot more about what Samsung has in store. Samsung is no strangers to producing Windows PCs and looks like they are taking their duties very seriously with this latest line up.

The three devices we’re most interested in are the ATIV Tab, Samsung's super thin WinRT device, the ATIV Smart PC Pro and ATIV Smart PC running the full fat version of Windows 8. Aside from the ATIV tab they will have the detachable keyboard that’s looking to be the in thing with Windows 8 devices.  These three new tablets join the ATIV S Windows Phone to complete the Samsung ATIV lineup.

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Looks like Microsoft might be trying its hand at a viral advertising campaign in the lead up to the release of its Surface tablet.  The advertising, in the form of hipster compatible urban art has been spotted in a couple of locations such as the one above in Brooklyn. The pseudo graffiti seems to continue with the imagery we first saw at the Surface reveal.  The theme is of an elegant two-part diagram, depicting tablet with detachable keyboard.

The Surface device is going to be big news for Microsoft on a number of levels. Surface is not only going to be the first Microsoft designed computer, it will be the poster child for Windows 8. When we see the new OS advertised and demoed, we can be pretty certain it will be on a Surface tablet. We’re expecting a marketing tsunami with the combined Windows 8 and Surface product launches. 

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