Mobile World Congress has been a roller coaster ride so far this year. The week kicked off with a bang on Sunday with both Sony and HTC unveiling their latest and greatest smartphones, and the HTC One X was definitely the star of the show. Things were up and down on Monday and Tuesday however, and the show actually got pretty slow for a while there. Our time in Barcelona isn’t up just yet, however, and Microsoft chose today to unveil the latest version of its next-generation operating system, Windows 8. The technology giant released a preview version of Windows 8 last September, but we’re sure plenty has changed over the past five months. And beyond checking out all the new features Microsoft has undoubtedly baked into its new OS, we might finally get a better idea of when devices carrying the platform will finally launch. Microsoft’s Windows 8 press conference is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. Eastern / 6:00 a.m. Pacific (3:00 p.m. local time in Barcelona), so hit the break for our live coverage of the event!
UPDATE: Don’t forget to check out our full review of Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which is now live!
10:51AM:That’s it guys! Thanks for tuning in and be sure to check out our full review of Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview!
10:50AM:Now we’ve got a roadmap. Today, consumer preview available in English, German, Japanese, French, and Simplified Chinese. Visual Studio 11 Beta is available for devs, and preview apps are included with the store today. Beginning “really soon” we’ll see updates and drivers. Stressing dynamic consumer preview, with many changes along the way. ceBIT will see enterprise features unveiled. The next milestone will be the Release Candidate, RTM, and General Availability. Preview is live already, with downloads from 70 different countries.
10:46AM:Allllllright!! Looks like we’ve actually hit the end point now. This has really ushered in the era of touch PCs for the consumer environment. The coolest part is that the transition is a metered one, allowing you to choose input method, from touch to keyboard to mouse, based on the usage case.
10:43AM:Alright, we’ve seen demos of image transfer technology, audio transfer, video editing, and…wait for it….a USB drive being connected to a Windows 8 desktop in Real Time!! Microsoft, this is great, but you had us an hour ago with the app demos. This is getting a little long in the tooth…
10:40AM:Ok, cool. No we’re looking at how NFC inclusion allows seamless transfer of audio from internal speakers to wireless speakers. Walk in room, have music transfer from your headphones to your home stereo.
10:36AM:Ok, now we see why the ungodly large TV was there. It’s actually a fully-functional Window 8 PC. It’s really a giant Microsoft Surface, build out of Gorilla Glass. It’s 82″. The largest in the world. And it’s running so quickly, so beautifully.
10:35AM:They’re talking now about how Microsoft 8 will force a re-imagination of input methods, etc.
10:34AM:Side note, but the Microsoft Mouse is 30 years old today…
10:32AM:Annnnd now the Lenovo Yoga, a convertible touchscreen-enabled laptop, is up to bat. Cool device, with a convertible screen
10:31AM:“Cost-based network switching” gives intelligent switching from 3G to Wi-Fi based on pre-defined preferences and profiles
10:30AM:We’re on to networking improvements, which speaks to the need to simplify connectivity due to the increased portability of Windows 8 devices
10:28AM:Apps don’t need to be opened or closed, because they don’t use any processor power or memory when dormant
10:28AM:And now on to Samsung, again with insanely fast performance. He’s demonstrating processor adaption, with cores starting and stopping based on performance almost instantly.
10:27AM:Alright, now we’ve got an HP Envy with Beats Audio, etc. Gorilla glass cover is amazing, and we’re seeing some really really fast performance here.
10:26AM:It’s also super super thin. Approaching, if not exceeding, Macbook Air levels. This thing also has a motorized port cover. Cool touch, we suppose.
10:25AM:Ok, now on to Ultrabook stuff. We’ve got an Intel Next-Gen Ultrabook here, and it looks pretty…Ultrabooky. We’ve got 5 more on hand, ost with Ivy-bridge processors, touchscreens, etc. We’ve got an Acer book starting up in 8 seconds. Whoa!!
10:23AM:Windows 8 had to smaller overall to work on these lower power mobile processors, which should make it FLY on desktop-grade systems.
10:21AM:All apps are chip independent, so all apps will work on ARM, x86, etc. This makes a seamless consumer-facing experience. It’s all about consistency here, ad this applies to drivers too. Printer drivers, etc will work across the board. Input devices are the same, storage devices, etc. This is revolutionary in the PC world
10:19AM:We’ve got Tegra 3, Snapdragon 5, and other stuff. This is great stuff
10:17AM:We’ve got a demo of Windows-on-ARM, which was first announced at CES last year. Speaking to a power profile that allows support from smaller processors, like phone chips, tablet chips, etc. Low power state gives access to background tasks while sleeping, and doesn’t give huge power spikes when waking to access information lost while in dormant mode
10:16AM:Okay okay, here we go. We’ve got Michael Angiulo to demo some new hardware!
10:14AM:Get ready for some hardware previews, guys!
10:12AM:Now we’re talking about how apps need to be brought up to spec. The OS is there, stable, ready to go. But apps need to catch up. This all makes sense. We’re being cautioned not to list, review, or categorize apps, with an eye to the fact that this preview is intended to spurn further development
10:11AM:Now we’re talking wrapup stuff. “fast fluid beautiful. Okay, okay, we get it!!!
10:09AM:Cool. More pounding music…
10:08AM:Sorry 8 winners, not 1.
10:07AM:Large devs are on board, but they’re trying to attract individual devs too. They’re announcing the winner of the first apps contest…
10:06AM:Now he’s talking about dev relationships, and how excited devs are to be working with the new software. “The best economics of any major app store…”
10:05AM:All apps in the store will be free during the preview period. Smart move!
10:05AM:Find app, click on app, read about app, install app. Done
10:04AM:The store ahs been designed for ease of access…well, that’s good to know….we’ve got rankings, lists, etc. And then categories. Nothing revolutionary here folks, but we suppose that’s not a bad thing
10:04AM:Antoine is back to talk about the Windows App Store
10:03AM:Universal search is pretty cool. Search for Harry Potter and it brings up results from the video store, web, flixter app, etc
10:01AM:Now we’ve got a demo of the Skydrive app that allows access to documents from the cloud across all your devices. Skydrive is also working behind the scenes to sync your personlized data, profile pic, contacts, app data, etc
10:00AM:All bookmarks, pins, apps, etc…all of these things travel with you from machine to machine, so your tablet looks like your phone looks like your laptop.
9:59AM:Ok. Now we have touch plus mouse plus keyboard. All three inputs can be used together. This is the marriage of input methods that we’ve been waiting for. And it looks like touch will probably become the predominant method…
9:58AM:Metro and basic desktop functions to allow old apps work side by side. That’s pretty cool, and it definitely illuminates how much cooler Metro is, but we’re glad to see the desktop survive the transition
9:57AM:You can also manage tasks in real time, allowing you to pause tasks that need lower priority, etc
9:56AM:Office seems to work super well here, but it does just look like another Windows 7 app. We’ll have to wait for a Metro version of Office to get super sexy, but at least everything will work out of the box
9:55AM:Ok, now we’ve got Word coming up!
9:54AM:All existing Windows 7-compatible apps will work on Windows 8
9:54AM:Sharing between apps is so easy. The charms bar allows you to drop images from web to wordpress, wordpress to twitter, email to facebook, etc. The base app stays in the main screen, and the destination app comes up in the side bar. Drag, drop, post, boom. This is amazing
9:53AM:This is cool Start typing “USA” and it immediately brings you to an app list, listing USA Today as the top option. Immediate app search and launching.
9:53AM:The home screen is the new windows key. Hitting Windows button brings you directly to the home screen.
9:52AM:Kindle app, Weather app, Stocks app, etc…all Metro, all awesome.
9:51AM:Task switching via hot corner is pretty…hot. We’re impressed, though again…sad to see ctrl-tab go the way of the DoDo
9:50AM:Zoom in, zoom out, it all works as you might expect. And all home screens and tiles can be easily manipulated and re-arranged.
9:49AM:Gestures haven’t been replicated for mouse use, but 4 hot corners are used for specific “gesture” stuff. The corners are the navigation hot spots. Mouse to bottom left goes to start screen, bottom left to task switcher, etc. Seems smart to us, but we wonder how sensitive this thing is
9:48AM:Everything looks super fluid (notice a theme here…) and navigation seems pretty intuitive
9:47AM:Be sure to check out our Windows 8 Consumer Preview review, which just went live! https://bgr.com/2012/02/29/welcome-to-the-post-post-pc-era-a-review-of-microsofts-windows-8-consumer-preview/
9:47AM:CTRL-ALT-DELETE is a thing of the past!! All you need to unlock is the “enter” key. Ha!
9:47AM:We’re looking at non-touchscreen devices now, with mouse and keyboard interface demos
9:46AM:He’s talking about scalability, etc etc
9:46AM:Ok tablet demo done, on to laptop demo
9:45AM:The “charms” bar keeps frequently accessed info, like contacts, text, etc…and this is accessible from any app, regardless of where it originated. Apps talking to apps talking to apps…
9:45AM:Nothing overlaps on top of anything else. It just switches back and forth laterally. That way you don’t have 400 windows on top of one another. It’s clean and efficient, a nice change from existing OS multitasking
9:44AM:Demonstrating multitasking now. We can place IM into a side window dock, while keeping video or any other app running in the foreground. Everything can be dragged around in real time. Awesome!
9:43AM:Now we’re on to social networking implementation. The “people” app function as a centralized hub for all of your social networking accounts. You can also pin this to the start screen with, of course, a live updating tile
9:42AM:We now have a demo of app switching using gestures. Left thumb flicked left slides back and forth through apps. This is, again, really fast. Really well implemented. We can also bring up a full task switcher by flijing up
9:41AM:Now we’re looking at a cookbook app. Nothing revolutions, but it does illustrate the beauty of the Metro style across app dev as well
9:40AM:Video and music stores are built into the preview as well
9:40AM:Windows Explorer is killing it right now. The experience is moving so fast, and it actually looks like it’s making internet browsing dare we say…fun? This is awesome to watch. Seriously, folks
9:40AM:Xbox live is integrated from the ground up. We also have casual gaming for things like cut the rope and angry birds, etc etc…
9:37AM:She’s scanning in and out of home screens now. “fast and fluid” are the key terms, and everything is moving really really well. It’s pretty impressive!
9:36AM:The device is completely customized for each user, with a familiar lock screen, start screen, app environment, etc on each device that contains your profile info. The home screen adapts to provide the most frequently used tiles in the most convenient locations, etc
9:35AM:Everything will be demonstrated using a prototype device. The device itself was designed from the ground up for usability. She’s sitting in a chair, looking pretty damn comfortable, using the dev device. Nice touch.
9:33AM:Now we’ve got Julie Larson-Green and Antoine Leblond hitting the stage, windows program manager and windows web services manager, to walk us through the app and OS experience
9:32AM:Pretty sure he’s said “apps” over 59 times. Now stressing that everything is cloud connected, with integrated backups and online support. Also speaking about the current version of the Metro design language, which is design from the ground up with scaling in mind
9:31AM:Pretty sure he’s said
9:31AM:The notion of scaling is key, with a single OS that is scalable across multiple screen sizes, device type, etc. And having a functioning app-eco system that works together. Apps talking to apps, as opposed to apps functioning as an island in and of themselves. Apps enriching apps…
9:30AM:They’re calling Windows 8 a “super fun experience”, which seems cute. That said, we’re happy to see that they’re stressing an enjoyable consumer experience over raw power, specs, and things that might appeal to power users
9:29AM:“Beautiful, modern, fast, fluid.” It’s a generational change in Windows. Stressing revolution vs. evolution of product here, but that it won’t be a massive paradigm shift for current Windows users
9:28AM:Consumer preview is vastly different from initial dev version. They’re calling it “complete” hmmmm
9:28AM:100,000 code changes since dev preview went live
9:27AM:Every subsystem of Windows 8 has been re-engineered for touch and more
9:27AM:Choice is the key word here, folks. The unified operating system experience is intended to allow consumers to decide what type of device best fits their life, and not have to worry about power management, crippled OS, etc
9:25AM:Now speaking about how the form factor should drive consumer choice, not the set of compromises that one is willing to make. Microsoft is aiming for
9:24AM:Talking now about the compromises necessary with today’s stratified mobile vs tablet vs desktop world, speaking to how complicated and unnatural the trade-offs are
9:23AM:“Windows 7 most successful Windows of all time”
9:23AM:Looks like we’ll have immediate downloads of the beta software available following the release, fyo
9:22AM:Steven Synofsky hitting the stage now
9:21AM:Lot’s of thank you’s now going on stage, thank you’s to press, devs, etc…you’re welcome!
9:20AM:lights down…er, lights yellowed…seems like it’s finally go time
9:18AM:“The show will begin shortly” says the announcer…
9:16AM:Of note, while we wait, there are a total of 13 different devices on stage, all of varying size and shape. Mostly tablets, with one of the largest TVs we’ve ever seen sitting behind it.
9:14AM:We’re beginning to think that the devices themselves might begin presenting…we haven’t seen a single representative from Microsoft go anywhere near the stage yet. Wonder what’s keeping em!
9:12AM:As a side note, this Catalonian sun is not helping keep any of our fellow blogger’s and press folk’s BO at bay…this room does not smell great.
9:07AM:Ok…fake afro-beat music is a bit better but still suspect. We’re 7 minutes behind schedule. * mins behind schedule and we’re calling it fashionably late:)…
9:03AM:As anticipated, we’ve got TVs, tablets, desktops, laptops, and more, all in a line
9:01AM:Annnnd we’re in. Microsof has a bevy of devices on display, all running….Windows 8!
8:54AM:This 4-on-the-floor drumbeat is driving us a little crazy…let’s go, Microsoft!
8:52AM:Upbeat music, lots of folks waiting around, and free breadsticks. Great.
8:49AM:Hey folks. We’re in line #2 here at Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview event. Let’s see what they’ve got for us!