In last week's 8 Days a Week entry, I discussed how I've written books, articles, blog posts, and other content over the past 18 years and looked at some screenshots of a leaked Windows 8 build. This week, the Building Windows 8 blog springs back to life after a holiday break, and it looks like the Windows team is as ready as ever to over-explain what they're doing. Plus, the Windows Store for Developers blog breaks the silence and provides some info about the store's global reach.
Refresh and reset. In a blog post called Refresh and reset your PC, Microsoft's Desmond Lee went into tremendous detail about what may in fact be Windows 8's greatest new feature(s). I've already written a separate blog post of my own about this topic, so be sure to check out Microsoft Documents Windows 8's Best Features: PC Reset and PC Refresh for a basic synopsis.
Storage Spaces. A couple of days later, Microsoft went to town on another very exciting new Windows 8 feature called Storage Spaces, in a post titled Virtualizing storage for scale, resiliency, and efficiency. Storage Spaces is nothing less than a more sophisticated reincarnation of the ill-fated Drive Extender feature from Windows Home Server, and that's nothing but good news folks. Once again, I thought this was a big enough topic that I wrote a separate blog post. You can find that one over at Microsoft Talks Windows 8 Storage Spaces. But for the insider account of why Microsoft had to kill Drive Extender, and thus pave the way for this new rendition of the technology, be sure to check out When Bad Things Happen To Good Technology: RIP, Drive Extender, which I wrote in late 2010.
Windows Store markets. Meanwhile, the folks over at the Windows Store for developers don't have as much to say, but they did provide an interesting post called Global reach this week, which explains Microsoft's plan to "increase the depth and breadth of the Windows Store's presence worldwide." According to Microsoft's Aayaz Bhorania that "27 markets" thing from the launch event was just the beginning.
"At general availability of Windows 8, the Windows Store will enable developers to sell apps in more than 200 markets, with support for local currencies in over 70 markets, and developers can localize their apps in more than 100 languages," writes. "We’ve accelerated our investment in globalizing the Store and are expanding geographic support for developers. At general availability of Windows 8, we will support app submission from 41 markets, up from the 27 markets that we originally announced. And our support will continue to increase—more local catalogs, more markets that support developer app submission, more local currency support—as we expand the Store service beyond general availability of Windows 8."
The post goes into great detail about how developers can sign up for the Windows Store, make app submissions, and so on. So if you're considering writing apps for this new platform, be sure to check it out.
Meanwhile, out in the blogosphere. Many most tech blogs and mainstream news outlets react to every Building Windows 8 blog post as if its news. But the Refresh and Reset information was largely known, since the feature is available in the Developer Preview, which users have had access to for four long months. Storage Spaces, however, was a blast of good news, so there's little need to rake any over the coals for making hay about that one.
Finally, CES is this coming week, which means next week's 8 Days a Week should be pretty long; I'm expecting some Windows 8 news at the show, and I'm certainly not alone on that one. But in the build-up to CES, some interesting news has slipped out. So I may as well confirm that I know of at least two major PC makers that will unveil Windows 8 Tablets at the conference. And there's more...
Netbooks News says that ASUS will announce a Windows 8 Tablet.
Mary Jo Foley reports that AT&T and Qualcomm execs are going to be talking up LTE-charged Windows 8 tablets at CES.
T3 says that Kupa (whatever they are) will announce a "Windows 8-ready" tablet at CES. That means it will be running Windows 7 at launch but is compatible with (and may come with an offer for a free version of) Windows 8. I hope to see more of that kind of thing. You know, from companies I've heard of.
You get the idea. There will be a lot more of this kind of thing coming next week.
Oh, there is one more thing.
Windows 8 Secrets. As you know, I'm working on a Windows 8 book with Rafael Rivera. Called Windows 8 Secrets, this book is not an update to my previous three Windows books, Windows 7 Secrets, Windows Vista Secrets 2nd Edition, and Windows Vista Secrets, but is instead a complete rewrite, from scratch. As such, it will be shorter than its predecessors--we're shooting for about 500 pages instead of 1000--and will focus only on brand new Windows 8 features, and not on anything that was in previous Windows versions. The assumption this time is that Windows users get Windows. They just want to know the new stuff.
That's not all that's changing. As I noted in the previous 8 Days a Week article, I'm making some major changes in the way I do things, and those changes will impact the book. That is, while I will of course have to submit finished manuscript files in Microsoft Word format, I will be doing the grunt writing of the book itself in the more distraction-free and cloud-connected Evernote instead. (Virtually every word of Windows 8 Secrets will be written in Windows 8, incidentally.)
I began the switchover to Evernote in early December and am now writing everything--web and print articles, blog posts, news stories, newsletters, whatever--in this application. I'll post something in the coming week describing why that's so, and why competing solutions like Office Web Apps, OneNote, Google Docs, and others didn't make the cut. But the very connectedness of Evernote will have interesting ramifications on the book specifically, and I'm curious to see how it all turns out. Evernote isn't a writer's tool, per se: It's more of a way to capture, access, and find information. But based on my experiences so far, I'm feeling good about it, aside from backups, which will be a bit more manual process than before.