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Microsoft won't talk much about its upcoming Windows 8 OS

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August 16, 2011

In the last few weeks, Microsoft did promise to start sharing some technical information about its new and upcoming Windows 8 operating system.

And as is customary with the software giant, it will only be initially offered in beta.

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But be forewarned: the company won't be sharing that much information since it's been burned so much in the past. Case in point: Windows Vista.

Microsoft's Windows division president Steven Sinofsky has launched the 'Building Windows 8 Blog' to talk about some of the features in the new operating system that is expected to hit the 'Net sometime in September.

Sinofsky said people have expressed frustration over how little the software giant has talked about Windows 8, but said Microsoft has been victimized in the past by being too open and talkative before launching a new product as critical as an operating system.

"We've certainly learned lessons over the past years about the risks of talking about features before we have a solid understanding of our ability to execute and deliver," Sinofsky humbly said on his inaugural blog post.

"Our intent with this pre-release blog is to make sure that we have a reasonable degree of confidence in what we talk about, before we talk about it."

Déja vu you ask? Maybe. We will see...

Microsoft demo'ed the Windows 8 interface in June, while in January it said Windows 8 would run on systems on a chip, including ARM processors, for the very first time. ARM CPUs are made by ARM Holdings, and the company is agressively targeting Intel with its new technology, and has had a lot of success in the last year.

People are obviously asking for technical details but all Microsoft has given us so far is "wait and see".

Microsoft has definetly learned from its previous mistakes. However, a big question still looms over how Windows 8 will achieve compatibility with older apps built for x86 machines and which are not running on ARM.

And this has been a major topic of debate between Microsoft and Intel, the chip giant which was once one of Microsoft's biggest ally. Intel is now forced to share its love with SoC rivals like ARM as Microsoft tries to break into tablets against Apple's iPad. It will soon get ugly, some say. Then again, we will see.

In a heated exchange in May, Intel claimed Windows on ARM wouldn't run legacy apps. Microsoft took the unusual step of issuing a statement slapping down Intel, calling the chip maker's comments inaccurate and totally misleading. It's been Sinofsky himself, when Microsoft announced Windows 8 on ARM in January, who had claimed compatibility was not a big deal. He said Microsoft had a native version of Word built for x86 running on ARM.

At June's preview, Microsoft had showed a touchy, tile-like Windows 8 interface that looked similar to Windows Phone. It has not, however, talked about how the apps are built.

And while all of this is happening, we are still looking forward to an interface and application build model that could see mobile apps purchased and downloaded from Microsoft's Windows Marketplace to PCs running Windows 8.

With all of this in mind, don't expect Sinofsky's Windows 8 blog to be the place for major surprises as the goal is not to generate traffic or build excitement. "This blog is here to provide a two-way dialogue about the complexities and tradeoffs of product development," Sinofsky said bluntly.

He then foreshadowed the launch of Windows 7 in October 2009 in exactly the same way, with the Engineering Windows 7 blog. He talked of a two-way dialogue there, too. It was Sinofsky himself who picked up the pieces of the Microsoft engineering team in the wake of the huge Windows Vista fiasco by first leading the Windows Live Engineering Group and then being promoted Windows Division president in 2009.

Sinofsky then began asserting fresh control over the broken Windows development process. Microsoft's new man is famed for retaining tight control on how things are built and on how his division is managed and what it says to the outside world.

The Windows 8 blog is a perfect example of Sinofsky not just controlling the timing of what's said, but also what information is clearly transmitted, and, most importantly, when it is transmitted.

In the field of software development, timing is everything, especially when operating systems are concerned. Based on the experience of the Windows 7 blog and the blog of the Internet Explorer team (the IE team is also part of Sinofsky's group, by the way), there will be lots of explanations about how and why features were picked and decisions arrived at.

Also, expect plenty of benchmark and performance charts galore. Sinofsky was therefore right to warn against any excitement and it seems you'll have to wait for the real technical news at Microsoft's Build Conference in Anaheim, California in September, where it has promised to deliver engineering details on Windows 8 and exactly when the first beta is to be expected.

In the mean time, we will continue to monitor the blog a few times a day, just in case we can get a bit more information on Windows 8 Beta. As usual, we will keep you posted.

Source: Microsoft.

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