Microsoft release new square logo

New Microsoft logo

Microsoft has unveiled a new logo after 25 years since its last iteration. The new logo is set in Segoe and features four squares.

The Microsoft logo which has been used which follows the simplicity of the Windows logo (see below). “The symbol’s squares of color are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products” said Jeff Hansen a Manager for Brand Strategy at Microsoft on the Microsoft blog.

Windows 8 logo set on cyan

The new logo comes as Microsoft prepares for the updated releases of its most profitable consumer products, including Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Xbox services and Office with an updated design language, Metro. “This wave of new releases is not only a reimagining of our most popular products, but also represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning” said Hansen.

Microsoft annouces Surface

Microsoft has today announced a new Windows-based tablet called Surface. Surface will be available with Windows RT with an ARM processor and an Intel core processor with Windows 8 and will  size up at 10.6” with Microsoft Office and a new ‘touch cover’.

The ‘touch cover’ draw-card is a 3mm “pressure sensitive cover” that acts as a keyboard and clicks into the tablet. The alternative input is a stylus that blocks out the palm hitting the tablet, to allow for a pen and paper writing-like experience.

The tablet will be light sensitive to automatically adjust for indoors and outdoors and built from the VaporMg. Microsoft says this technology is “a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch” and allows for products “thinner than the typical credit card”.

The pricing has yet to be released but consumers can expect a price “comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC”.

Windows 8 drops Aero Glass

Windows 8 will signal a move away from the transparent UI of Windows Vista and 7 to a design based on their new “clean and crisp” design direction.

Jensen Harris from the Windows 8 team said that the new design was “chromeless” on the Building Windows blog and:

Gone are the glass and reflections. We squared off the edges of windows and the taskbar. We removed all the glows and gradients found on buttons within the chrome. We made the appearance of windows crisper by removing unnecessary shadows and transparency. The default window chrome is white, creating an airy and premium look.

The new look aims to concentrate focus on the apps. The team are also focussing on the touch user interface. Harris said “we resisted the temptation to make people choose between using mouse and keyboard or touch”.

The Building Windows blog post includes an interesting look-back at the past user interfaces of Windows since Windows 1.

Microsoft Previews ‘Windows Store’ for Metro Apps

Windows Store, previously announced in September 2011, has been previewed today with details on inner-workings released for developers in the new Windows Store blog. The Windows Store will distribute “metro-style” apps, which are vetted by Microsoft’s certification policies.

Ted Dworkin, Partner Program Manager for Windows Store, said “we use minimal chrome … and complement the apps with a series of way-finding and promotion mechanisms—search, category browse, ranking lists, editorial curation”. The Windows Store will be indexed by search engines, such as Bing, which point to a internet listing, similar to the web version of App Store, and tied in Internet Explorer 10 which will display an app button on website that have produced a metro-style app.

Developers are able to select their advertising platform, including from third parties. The individual registration fee will be $49 and $99 for companies. The revenue share will be 70% until it reaches $25,000 in revenue when the share changes to 80%. The move undercuts Apple who offer 70% revenue sharing in the iOS Developer Program. Dworkin said “we expect an entirely new scale of economic opportunity to be realized for app developers”.

Windows Store will “reach customers with free and paid apps in 231 markets worldwide”, said Dworkin. The store will support more than 100 languages and the market will be localized to the market. Dworkin added that RenRen, a Chinese social network, “created a rich, Metro style app in XAML and C#”.

IT administrators will be able to control what employees see and install using Group Policy and deploy apps to all computers.

Microsoft has announced a Windows 8 First Apps competition to be one of the first eight apps to be in Windows Store

Windows 8 To Include Sign-In with Windows Live Accounts

Windows 8 will include an optional sign-in using Windows Live which will sync user settings, customization options, Metro-style apps, store passwords to other websites and files stored online using Windows Live, according to the latest Building Windows 8 post.

Users don’t necessarily have to sign-up to the Windows Live service to create a new account as the service is able to use your own email provider address as the username to sign-in. Katie Frigon, Microsoft Program Manager for the “You-Centered Experience team”, said “the address is just a convenient way of identifying you, since most Internet users these days have email addresses”.

By allowing the Metro-style apps to be kept in sync, users will only have to buy an app once to use it across their devices such as tablets or desktop computers and when using public computers. Frigon saying “you can pick up on the same page of a book, the same level of a game, or the same place in the movie you were watching as you switch between your Windows 8 PCs.”

All services which connect to the Windows Live ID, which Microsoft say will include apps and websites, will not require further authentication. However, the automatically authenticated apps will not get further access to personal data unless allowed.

Passwords can be reset using the Windows Live account and when accounts are compromised, accounts will have features limited. “First, we do not roam data over WWAN by default. Second, all user data is encrypted on the client before it is sent to the cloud” said Frigon, in relation to securing data.

Statistics released on Building Windows 8 showed that shared PC usage occurs in 72% of desktops and 49% of laptop. They also found that 25% of people shared one account and 35% had one account for each user.

Windows Defender Expanded in Windows 8 Security Update

Windows Defender will become full-fledged anti-malware solution in Windows 8, announced in the official Building Windows 8 blog. The new detection will include “all types of malware, including viruses, worms, bots and rootkits” instead of earlier versions which only have “spyware, adware, and potentially unwanted software” according to Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows and Windows Live Division.

Malware code executed on boot or resume will also be protected from on “UEFI-based Secure Boot” computers by Windows Defender. The process verifies the authenticity of firmware. firmware updates and the Windows boot path.

The latest rendition of Windows Defender promises to be light on system resources. Sinofsky saying “Windows Defender with its full protection functionality enabled adds only 4% to boot time, while dramatically reducing CPU time during boot by 75%, disk I/O by around 50MB, and peak working set by around 100MB.”

Microsoft is also working with other anti-virus software developers and are sharing the details of how they “architected the performance improvements for Windows Defender” so similar improvements can be made to other products.

Microsoft researchers found that shortly after the “general availability” of Windows 7 in October 2009, most computers had up-to-date antimalware software. However, since most software included were trials 24% of computers were left without malware protection.

Windows 8 will also include a expand the SmartScreen feature already used in Internet Explorer. When applications are downloaded from an unknown publisher a warning message will be shown. Previously, the warning was shown for all publishers on Windows 7. Microsoft predicts that users will only see the SmartScreen warning twice each year.

Microsoft Releases Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 Service Pack

Microsoft has released the first service pack for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 users. Service packs are a compilation of updates and usually contains minor improvements to the performance of your computer.

Major improvements for Windows 7, listed under the available documentation, include better HDMI audio device performance and XPS printing improvements, however the large majority of the Windows 7 service pack are hotfixes and security updates.

The update is delivered through the Microsoft Download Center or with a Windows Update. The download sizes for the Windows 7 service pack ranges depending on your system anywhere from 44mb to 903mb

Font Frenzy Removes Unwanted Non-System Fonts

Font Frenzy is a free small program which helps tame a long list of fonts and speeds up the system by deleting all fonts except the default fonts in Windows. Font Frenzy is a great time saver especially if you don’t want to spend your weekend browsing the default font list and removing the unwanted ones.

Font Frenzy also creates a back-up of fonts before removing them. This means that if you find one of your favourite fonts missing you simply have to restore the font. The program also includes a feature called ‘Frenzy Man’ which is a font management tool, handy for storing and removing fonts.

The Windows 7 version of the program had not been fully tested so it is worthwhile to make a backup.