firefox-chrome-metro-600

If you’re reading this on a PC, it’s probably on Google Chrome or Firefox — the two most popular browsers on Windows that Mashable readers use. It’s a telling example about how most tech-savvy Windows users don’t use the default browser on their machines, Internet Explorer. But how’s that going to change when Windows 8 launches later this year?

Windows 8, as you may know, has two modes: the familiar desktop, and the all-new Metro interface (for a primer on Windows 8, check out this link). Metro differs from traditional Windows in many ways, but one of the ways that’s not often talked about is that Microsoft will have final say over what apps run on it, since Windows 8 users will only be able to download Metro apps from the Windows Store.

With such ironclad control over the new operating system, would Microsoft even allow other web browsers to run in Metro? The answer is yes, and Mozilla is already hard at work developing the Metro version of Firefox, one of the company’s developers revealed on his personal blog. He also revealed a little tidbit: Browser apps will work somewhat differently than other Metro apps.

Mozilla engineer Brian R. Bondy says there are three types of Windows 8 apps: those that run solely in the classic desktop, Metro apps, and Metro-enabled browsers for the desktop. It’s the last one that Metro versions of Firefox (and presumably Google Chrome) will be.

SEE ALSO: Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The Good, the Bad and the Metro [REVIEW]
Bondy references a Microsoft white paper that says Metro-style browsers aren’t completely confined to the Metro environment. That means, as Bondy describes, that the browser can be just as powerful as its desktop equivalent, with the ability to multitask, download files in the background and render web-based HTML5 apps in their entirety.

That’s because, if Internet Explorer 10 is any indication, that the browser is essentially the same animal whether it’s running in the desktop or Metro — it’s only the user interface that’s different. Still, that involves quite a bit of coding, and Bondy says it’s a “very large project.”

There’s a catch, though: For a browser to run in Metro, the user must pick it as the default browser. That likely won’t be an issue for most fans of Firefox and Chrome, but it does mean you won’t be able to have multiple browsers open in Metro.


BONUS: A Tour of Windows 8


 

Start Menu

Here’s what greets you every time you log into your Windows 8 machine. Yes, the tiles are customizable, though it’s a little unwieldy in practice.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Firefox, google chrome, IE10, internet explorer, Metro, trending, web browsers, Windows 8

For more Dev & Design coverage:


 

1. Personal Killer Whale Submarine

 




 

Seabreacher Y not only looks like a 17-foot killer whale, it acts like one too. But this is one killer whale you’d like to be sitting inside. It’s powerful enough to hydroplane along the surface at 50mph and zip along underwater at 25mph.

Besides its killer looks, it even has a rear-facing camera ‘s video you can watch on an LCD screen. It’s not a deep-diving sub, though, going only 5 feet down, but the fun begins when you throttle up and leap the thing out of the water like a porpoise.

Save up your $100,000, and you too can turn into a virtual killer whale.

[via DVICE]

Click here to view this gallery.

In a week dominated by Apple’s iPad event, there were a surprising number of fascinating tech products introduced at the same time. We dug deep, looking for not only the coolest products and designs, but those that are unusual, useful, and futuristic as well.

We continued our experimentation with Windows 8, and found a plug-in that’s already been developed, perhaps easing the pain of the transition for those resistant to change.

We also got our hands on a spectacular (yet pricy) lens system for the iPhone, and found it to be an exceptional product.

SEE ALSO: Previous editions of Top 10 Tech This Week
As is our wont, we found astonishing conveyances for traveling both underwater and on land, and tossed in a surprise or two along the way. So here it is, the latest Top 10 Tech This Week.

Here’s last week’s Top 10 Tech.

More About: cars, ipad, iphone, Top 10 Tech, trending, Windows 8

For more Dev & Design coverage:





windows-8-start-screen-600

Microsoft just launched the consumer preview of Windows 8. That means anyone who wants to check out the latest version of Microsoft’s new operating system — unveiled on Wednesday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona — can download it right now and start scrolling through Metro apps in all of their tiled glory.

How can you get this groundbreaking piece of pre-release software? Just head on over to Microsoft’s site and download. Microsoft has said repeatedly that Windows 8 would run on any machine that can run Windows 7, so theoretically you should be able to install it on your Win7 PC with no problems (of course, be sure to back up all your stuff thoroughly).

Be warned, though: this is pre-release “beta” software — not ready for prime time yet. As we found in our detailed look at the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, the OS still has many bugs, and some of the functionality isn’t fully baked. Most notably on the “under construction” list: OS-level sharing, which right now can only be done with the Mail app.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft on Windows Phone: We’re Exactly Where We Need to Be
However, for those bold enough, using Windows 8 on a touchscreen device or with a traditional mouse and keyboard is a fascinating experience. Many Metro apps, with their full-screen nature, look gorgeous, and Microsoft has built bridges into the OS for connecting with services such as Facebook and Flickr. Of course, the traditional desktop is always just a click or two away.

When will you be able to get the final version of Windows 8? Not till this fall, when Microsoft is expected to release it to the public — along with an nearly identical version of Windows for low-power ARM devices and a big update to Windows Phone that’ll bring it more in line with Windows 8.

Until then, you’ve got this to play with. What do you think of Windows 8? Have your say in the comments, and watch for our Open Thread post later today.


Windows 8 Consumer Preview: An Overview


 

Start Menu

Here’s what greets you every time you log into your Windows 8 machine. Yes, the tiles are customizable, though it’s a little unwieldy in practice.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: microsoft, trending, Windows, Windows 8

For more Dev & Design coverage:



As Microsoft frantically programs and polishes what may be its most important Windows update ever — Windows 8 — it has also revised the operating system’s image. Obviously, Windows 8 is a bold departure from previous editions. Now the Windows logo is being reimagined, as well, and the results may surprise some people.

Microsoft hired the global design firm Pentagram, which has done rebranding for Nissan, Walgreens, The Metropolitan Museum and countless others, to reimagine the logo. The result is a pale blue imprimatur that leans toward the clean lines of Windows 8’s new Metro interface, while paying homage to Windows logos of the past. What some people think of as the “flag” has been replaced with a four-pane window that angles off into the distance.

Early versions of the Windows logo made it clear that the flag was originally intended as a Window — what Sam Moreau, Principal Director of User Experience for Windows, called “a metaphor for computing,” in the blog post announcing the design change, However, with each iteration, the Window became wavier, until it was, well, a flag.

Interestingly, the logo is probably most inspired by the very first Windows logo design, which also had a four-pane box, though it looks little like a Window.

Considering how strikingly different Windows 8 is from any Windows OS that’s come before it, this austere and slightly dull design is a bit of a disappointment. Still, the outcome clearly aligns with the goals of the project. Microsoft wanted it to be “modern and classic” and to eschew any “faux industrial design characteristics” like rendered glass, wood or plastic. And the software giant wanted it to be “humble, yet confident.”

The default color may strike some as too weak for a logo, but Moreau said in the post that the logo will change color when you change your system colors.

What do you think of the new logo? Tell us in the comments.

Original Windows Logo




The era before they decided to add four colors.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: microsoft, trending, Windows 8

For more Dev & Design coverage:





Microsoft and Apple are the developers of three of the most popular operating systems in the world (Windows, iOS & Mac OS X), yet their approaches to building the infrastructure that powers laptops, tablets and phones couldn’t be more divergent.

Microsoft recently published a blog post that addressed specific issues that Windows 8 developer preview users had with the start screen.

The Windows 8 team specifically tackles the complaint that the new Windows 8 start screen, which uses the app-style metro interface, isn’t effective at organizing apps (it was originally organized alphabetically) and doesn’t display enough apps on one screen (it originally displayed about 20 apps). Microsoft dives deep into the UX issues of start menus, even calculating how many apps Windows 8 can theoretically fit onto one display at different monitor resolutions.

In the end though, Microsoft concluded that its users were right about the Windows 8 start menu and made two important changes to it as a result. First, it now supports folder-style organization of apps. Secondly, Microsoft is making the start screen denser, meaning that more apps will be visible on a single screen.


The Apple Approach to OS Development


Microsoft’s approach lies in stark contrast to Apple‘s approach to OS development. The notoriously secretive company doesn’t like unveiling products until they are polished. It doesn’t publish detailed stats about how people are using its products. And it rarely makes dramatic changes based on user feedback.

It’s an approach that has worked just fine for Apple (more than fine, in fact). Steve Jobs and his team have been able to develop products and features that users wanted long before users they even knew they wanted them.

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups,” Steve Jobs told BusinessWeek in 1998. “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

This is why you won’t find an Apple blog that details user behavior in iOS. This is why Apple only gives developers a few months to play with new versions of Mac OS X before they get released to the public, while Microsoft will release a new version of Windows to developers more than a year before its official debut.

Both companies are wildly successful with their operating systems. Windows is still the world’s most popular OS, while Apple keeps selling iPhone and iPads by the millions. But we’re about to see what happens when these two opposing philosophies to development butt heads. Microsoft is preparing for war against the iPad, and Windows 8 is its weapon of choice.

Will Microsoft’s philosophy to development trump Apple’s approach? We don’t know the answer to that question yet, but we do know that the fireworks are just getting started.

Check out the galleries below if you want to do a side-by-side comparison of Apple and Microsoft’s approaches to building an OS. Let us know which philosophy you prefer in the comments.


Gallery: Windows 8


Windows 8 Metro Home Screen

This is the Metro interface in Windows 8

Click here to view this gallery.


Gallery: iOS 5


New Home Screen With Notification

Notifications are a big deal in iOS 5. Taking some cues from Android, iOS has finally unified the notification system and made it less clumsy and intrusive.

Message now appear at the top of the screen (though you can choose to allow them to display in the middle) while you are using the phone and they don’t interrupt what you are already doing.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, iOS, microsoft, Windows 8

For more Dev & Design coverage:





If you are or ever were a Windows user, you’re likely familiar with the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD). The bug check screen, with its lines of error codes, has been part of Windows since version 1.0. It has represented the crashing of computers — and the frustration of users — for decades.

The BSoD was never intended to be user friendly, though. It was made for engineers who wanted to figure out why a PC crashed. For the rest of the world, it signifies the downside of owning a Windows device.

The iconic Stop Error screen is getting a facelift with Windows 8. The redesigned OS also includes speed and stability improvements, a Metro interface optimized for touchscreens and an app store.

SEE ALSO: Windows 8: The Top 4 Things You Should Know

The new BSoD doesn’t include all of the bug checks or lines of code that have defined the error screen for years. Instead, the Windows 8 BSoD includes a giant sad emoticon and a simple message that “your PC ran into a problem” and that it has to restart.

We’re fans of the new error screen — it’s much clearer and more user-friendly — though we hope there’ll be fewer chances to see it. But we want to hear your thoughts. Do you like the new Blue Screen of Death? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of Mobility Digest

More About: Blue Screen of Death, microsoft, Windows 8





Windows 8 will have two versions of Internet Explorer 10 — a desktop version and the Metro version, which is optimized for tablets.

Part of that optimization will be a plugin free experience, meaning Metro IE10 will be primarily HTML5 and will not support browser plugins, including Flash.

“The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web,” writes Dean Hachamovitch, head of the Internet Explorer team, on Microsoft’s official blog.

Microsoft’s reasoning is eerily similar to Steve Jobs’s legendary open letter on Flash from April 2010 in which he wrote, “The mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short.”

Hachamovitch goes on to explain how today’s web is largely HTML5-based and designed for a plugin-free experience. Microsoft recently examined 97,000 web sites, and discovered that 62% of them use Flash, but many of those need it only to display ads. Furthermore, a large number of Flash-using sites fall back to HTML5 if the user’s browser doesn’t support it.

Although the desktop version of IE10 will continue to support all plugins and extensions, this is another defeat for Adobe, whose Flash is slowly losing relevance as the web expands to smartphones and tablets. Interestingly, Silverlight isn’t mentioned in Microsoft’s posts about the plugin-free web.

More About: adobe, Flash, IE10, internet explorer, Internet Explorer 10, Metro, microsoft, Windows 8





Can’t wait to try out Windows 8 for yourself after Microsoft’s big unveiling of the new OS at yesterday’s Build Conference? Well, you needn’t wait any longer, as the developer preview version of the OS is now available for download.

You can install it on a 32-bit or a 64-bit x86 machine. Activation is not required, but it’s far from a finalized version of the OS, so if you do install it, expect bugs and glitches. In any case, you should definitely check out Microsoft’s Windows 8 guide to get an idea of what you can expect from the next version of Windows. Also, check out our list of four most important new features in Windows 8.

Without further ado, the download is available here. If you choose to install it, please share your experiences in the comments!


Windows 8: Photos & Screenshots


Windows 8 Devices

Microsoft demonstrated a lot of Windows 8 devices, including tablet devices, at its Build conference in Anaheim, CA.

Windows 8 Devices: A Closer Look

These are some of the devices running Windows 8 at Microsoft’s Build conference.

Windows 8: Lock Screen

“Your personalized lock screen shows you unread emails and other app notifications. The image shown here is a photo of the road leading to Mt. Cook National Park in New Zealand.”

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Start Screen

“See your apps and content in a glance on the start screen.”

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Files

“Pick the files you want to send or share from one place.”

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Internet Explorer

“Touch browsing is fast, fluid and intuitive.”

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Thumb

“The thumb keyboard feels natural and comfortable.”

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Touch Keyboard

“Large buttons help you type on the touch keyboard.”

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows division President Steven Sinofsky

Windows division President Steven Sinofsky takes the stage at Build.

More About: microsoft, operating system, Windows, Windows 8




Can’t wait to get your hands on Windows 8? You can get it tonight — as long as you’re willing to suffer through countless bugs without any technical support.

Microsoft unveiled Windows 8 on Tuesday at its Build conference in Anaheim, California. The tech giant detailed how its next-generation OS bridges the gap between tablets, laptops and desktops with a lightweight system that is built for both touchscreens and keyboards.

Windows 8′s features include a Metro style interface, fast boot times (Windows loads in less than eight seconds), a new Windows Store for apps, communication between apps, support for ARM and Intel-based hardware and countless UX and UI changes that are a dramatic departure from its predecessors.

While attendees of the Build conference already have access to the Windows 8 Developer Preview (our review is coming soon), you can take it for a spin as well, starting Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. PT. That is when Microsoft will post the download links for Windows 8. During the developer preview, Windows 8 will be free. It will be available in 32 and 64-bit configurations.

Be warned, though — this is not a finished product. It will come with bugs, constant updates and lots of incompatible software. And Microsoft will not be offering any technical support for the OS. If you install it, you’re on your own.

If you want to get a better idea of what is coming in Windows 8 before you install it, check out the screenshots we’ve collected below. Let us know if you intend to try out the new Microsoft OS in the comments.

Windows 8 Devices

Microsoft demonstrated a lot of Windows 8 devices, including tablet devices, at its Build conference in Anaheim, CA.

Windows 8 Devices: A Closer Look

These are some of the devices running Windows 8 at Microsoft’s Build conference.

Windows 8: Lock Screen

“Your personalized lock screen shows you unread emails and other app notifications. The image shown here is a photo of the road leading to Mt. Cook National Park in New Zealand.”

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Start Screen

“See your apps and content in a glance on the start screen.”

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Files

“Pick the files you want to send or share from one place.”

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Internet Explorer

“Touch browsing is fast, fluid and intuitive.”

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Thumb

“The thumb keyboard feels natural and comfortable.”

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Touch Keyboard

“Large buttons help you type on the touch keyboard.”

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows division President Steven Sinofsky

Windows division President Steven Sinofsky takes the stage at Build.

More About: microsoft, Windows, Windows 8