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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 25, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

    Live: Microsoft launches Windows 8

    Ciara O'Brien

    This morning in New York, Microsoft is unveiled Windows 8 and the products it hopes is going to tap into the trend for tablets that has hit the PC industry hard.

    2.11pm: Sinofsky is back – Surface is the best tablet and laptop he’s ever used. It’s got a USB port, something most other tablets lack. It goes on sale tonight including in Times Square, if you feel like dropping a few hundred dollars in one go. And now we really are done. I’m off to get to grips with the Surface.

    2.05pm: The Touch Cover as a keyboard looks good – it’s not just touch sensitive. And you can record video while you type – handy for interviews/lectures etc.

    2.04pm: Touch cover versus smart cover. “You buy Surface because not only is a great tablet but it does what you need it to do.” They’re running this whole presentation off Surface – excel and powerpoint. Office comes with it when you buy Surface.

    2pm: There’s some good stuff with the camera too, and you can record video at the touch of the screen. Plus the cover looks pretty sturdy – he’s just held it up by the magnetic cover and it didn’t fall apart. And sure even if it did, see below. It doesn’t break.

    That sounds like a challenge….

    1.51pm: Ok that just got everyone’s attention. He just bounced the Surface off the ground from several feet up and it didn’t break. In fact, Microsoft says it can be dropped from 72 different orientations. And they even made Surface into a skateboard and gave it to Sinofsky to use – it’s just the wheels on the bottom, no stabiliser bars etc.

    Ok that’s kind of impressive.

    1.47pm: If you buy Surface, you get Xbox Music – unlimited streaming – with it. Another demo of how it works with throwing content to the Xbox, and another tablet in the audience.

    1.46pm: Video on the Surface actually looks quite nice. It’s got a decent contrast, and the screen is pretty clear – very little reflection. And there’s a live demo of Smart Glass. Plus another Surface gone out into the crowd.

    1.44pm: He’s just handed the Surface to someone in the audience. Who hasn’t tried to duck out just yet.

    1.41pm: There’s a microSD slot so you can store a lot more movies/music etc and take it with you. Battery life is all-day, apparently, and it charges fast, even when you’re using it.

    1.40pm: We’re getting a walkthrough of Surface and it’s 10.6 inch screen. “It’s the perfect expression of windows. It’s exactly what the software was intended to run on.” There’smore than 200 custom components inside it.

    1.34pm: Sinofsky is back with Surface in hand. “it’s the ultimate expression of a Windows PC – it’s an extension of Windows 8, it’s a stage for Windows. And it’s a beautiful stage.” He’s quite taken with the keyboard bit.

    1.02pm: Well, not quite. A keynote on Surface is coming up in 30 minutes. In the meantime, we get to play with some Windows 8 devices.

    12.13pm: Steve Ballmer says we’re going to love Windows 8 – he’s pretty confident. And with that, we are done.

    12.09pm: We’ll find out more about Windows Phone 8 on Monday, apparently. At the moment, Steve is discussing developers (developers, developers) and the future sales of PCs.

    12.05pm: Steve just said a whole heap of “Bings” in a row. I’m still not feeling it.

    12.03pm: Steve says Windows 8 brings together the best of worlds – PC and tablet, work life and play. It pairs greatest qualities of PC with greatest qualities of tablets.

    11.59am: It’s magical, apparently. Things just appear, because all of the cloud integration. Everything and everybody that you care about will be on your windows 8 devices. And the PCs are the best PCs ever.

    11.57am: Steve Ballmer is here. And he’s really, really excited about Windows 8. He says that everything we’ve seen should show “Windows 8 shatters perceptions of what a PC now really is.We’ve truly reimagined windows and kicked off a new era for Microsoft and a new era for our customers.”

    11.50am: Now it’s apps and how easy they are to download and install/bin.

    11.44am: You can run two apps side by side without having to fiddle about with sizes to make sure you don’t lose one behind the other. New windows Phones also mentioned, and Mike is promising a whole new wave of innovative hardware in the next month.

    11.42am: Stuff we’ve seen before really: tiles that can be moved around, personalising the lock screen etc. They’re showing how it works on a non-touch device too. (I’ve used it on both, it’s not too difficult to get the hang of.

    11.38am: Quick shift change – and more video. Now Mike Angiulo and Julie Larson-Green are demonstrating how Windows 8 works.

    11.34am: Windows RT is getting bigged up here. Touch optimised Office apps sound interesting. It doesn’t run programmes designed for Windows 7 – it runs built in apps for mail etc, and information based apps powered by Bing, and you can download apps from the Windows Store. They respect and protect your data and privacy, apparently. And the RT devices can use peripherals.

    11.32am: Today is the grand opening of Windows Store around the world. All new and upgraded Win 8 PCs can access the store, and it’s available in 231 markets.

    Small dig at Apple maybe? Sinofsky talks of a rush to count apps. But Microsoft sees this as a start, and apps are being added every day. More apps at opening than any other competing app store at their opening.

    11.29am: We’re on to the touch interface: fast and fluid, intuitive and powerful, accessible, scalable. Etc. But of course it’s not what you’re used to, so instead of a massive manual, there’s a how to include with each system. If you’re thinking about a new Windows 8 PC, there are more than 1000 certified, some are under $300, and you can also get ultrabooks with touchscreens.

    11.27am: So if you upgrade a Win 7 machine to Win 8, you get better battery life, faster boot time, and probably using less memory. 1.24bn hours of pre release testing across 190 countries.

    11.26am: So now we get three product announcements: Upgrade of prior versions of windows to windows 8. Best release of windows ever, according to Steve.

    Second: opening of the Windows Store – apps for tablets and desktops.

    And third is Windows RT, which is built for the ARM processor.

    11.25am: So. Windows 8: “We shunned the incremental. We boldly reimagined Windows.”

    11.24am: We’re having a nice little trip down memory lane about how different PCs were – no internet, email, less power than your current smartphone. Today the world is different and we’re connected all the time. People and communication are at the centre of all our activities – work and play are intertwined.

    11.21am: And here comes Steve Sinofsky. Windows 8 is a new era, major milestone in evolution and revolution in computing. And Windows 7 has sold more than 670 m licences to businesses and consumers (there’s whooping). And it’s the fastest adoption by enterprise too.

    11.18am: Ah right. Here we go. Nice little video montage.

    11.08am: We’re already running a little late.

    11.05am: We already know a lot about the system, there’s been  previews available for some time. The best bit about today will probably be getting hands on with a Surface.

    It’s a fundamentally redesigned Windows. Although it uses a lot of the same systems as Windows 7 – so everything that is compatible with Windows 7 will work on Windows 8 – it looks a lot different. No start button, and the desktop is now an app. Plus there are Windows X86 devices, which will run pretty much anything you throw at it regardless of whether it is a tablet or a desktop/laptop, and the Windows RT devices, which are based on mobile chips and more like the iPad.

    11.am: The event is being held in Pier 57 in Manhattan.

    10.56am: Things are due to kick off in about five minutes and we’ll be following everything as it happens. In the meantime, a bit of background.

    Windows 8 is designed to be a hybrid system across laptops, desktops and tablets. If you’re familiar with Windows Phone 7 and its tile based layout, then Windows 8 won’t be too much of a shock.