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8 Days a Week: A Look at Recent Microsoft Writings

It used to be that no one wrote more about Microsoft than I did. But then Steven Sinofsky came along, and now the software giant's own blogs are churning out more Windows content than I could ever hope to create. With Windows 8, of course, that content is coming via the Building Windows 8 Blog usually, but also via a few other channels. And in this first in an ongoing series, I'll see what Windows 8 information Microsoft's been busy documenting lately. It's hard to keep up with.

I'd also like to briefly discuss how it is that I approach writing, here on the site and with my various Windows IT Pro responsibilities and, more to the point, with books, especially the upcoming Windows 8 Secrets. So I'll be doing that in future "8 Days a Week" articles as well.

But first, a bit of catch-up...

Windows Store revelations

The big news this past week, of course, was the Windows Store event in San Francisco on Tuesday. I covered this as a news story in WinInfo--in It's Official: Windows 8 Beta, Windows Store to Debut in Late February--but since it was such a big story, also provided a blog post ( Windows in Charge: A Few Numbers) and a more complete SuperSite article ( Windows Store Preview: Info, Shots, And Event Photos And Video), the latter of which focused on Microsoft's more complete supporting documentation.

And let's not forget my blurb in Friday's Short Takes where I deconstructed attempts by some of my less savvy cohorts in the tech press and blogosphere to make a story out of nothing:

Non-Event of the Week, Part 2: Microsoft Can Remove Apps from Windows 8
As part of its Windows Store revelations this week, Microsoft revealed that it will have the technical ability to remove Metro-style apps and their associated data from users' Windows 8-based PCs. And as you might expect, reading that sentence, some people are up in arms over this because, you know, it's Microsoft. But here's the deal. Every modern app store on Earth features this capability, including Apple's App Store, Google's Android Market, and even Amazon's Kindle Store. On Windows 8, it's being done for security reasons, since an errant app could possibly make it through Microsoft's stringent curation process, and one of the things Microsoft is promising with this app store is that users' safety is Job One. Sorry, but this just makes sense.

Put simply, I think I covered that one adequately, so there's little more to add here. I will mention that there's a new Windows Store for Developers blog over on MSDN and if you really are looking for a bit more info, that blog's first post, Previewing the Windows Store, is worth reading, even if you're not a developer.

Large disk support in Windows 8

Windows 8 booted from a 3 TB SATA drive with a UEFI system 

One item I did ignore, not on purpose anyway, was a discussion of Windows 8's support for large disks. (This occurred about 10 days ago; I'm catching up.) There's been a lot of speculation over the years about whether Microsoft would ever move Windows 8's file system towards the WinFS-like, relational database-backed system that the software giant had long envisioned. And while there's been some talk of a change, two recent Microsoft blog posts suggest otherwise. In fact, from what I can tell, the company is very clearly going to continue evolving NTFS.

You can find out more in Building Windows 8's Enabling large disks and large sectors in Windows 8 and, separately, in Windows 8 Platform Storage – Part 1 and Windows 8 Platform Storage – Part 2 on the Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform Blog.

What it boils down to is that NTFS is being further enhanced in Windows 8 to accommodate large disks, what Microsoft says is hard drives that are 2.2 TB in size or bigger (up to 64 TB, if I'm reading these posts correctly). The B8 post includes an interesting admission--that "The current architecture in Windows has some limits that makes these drives somewhat tricky to deal with"--but says Windows 8 will make it happen ... assuming the PC has a UEFI type firmware, and not the old school BIOS.

This is an important change to remember.

"Beginning with Windows 8, multiple new capabilities within Windows will necessitate UEFI," Microsoft program manager Bryan Matthew writes in Building Windows 8. "The combination of UEFI firmware plus GPT partitioning plus LBA [Logical Block Addressing] allows Windows to fully address very large capacity disks with ease."

Note that UEFI also will enable other key Windows 8 features, like Secure Boot, Encrypted Drive, and Fast Start-up. This is a line in the sand. If you're interested in Windows 8, you're going to get a much better experience on new PCs with this firmware.

Good to know.

There are some questions around which of these disk technologies, if any, will be Windows Server 8 specific. I'll keep looking into this. I have to. I'm writing a book...

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