Windows 8 updates expected at Microsoft conference

Apr 1 2014, 10:32am CDT | by

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft is following through on a promise to update its Windows 8 operating system on a regular basis to respond to consumers' complaints and other feedback.

Just months after the release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft is preparing changes to make it easier for people to use Windows with traditional keyboard and mouse controls. Among other things, Microsoft will add search, power and settings buttons to the Start page, so people don't have to figure out how to pull those functions from the right side of their screens. The update also promises easier ways to close apps.

Microsoft Corp. outlined some of the new features at a February conference in Barcelona, Spain, and will likely provide more details Wednesday as the company opens its annual Build software developers conference in San Francisco.

The new, yet-unnamed update is expected soon. It follows the October debut of Windows 8.1, which came just a year after the release of Windows 8. The pattern contrasts with Microsoft's past habit of waiting years to release major updates.

Microsoft is also updating its Windows Phone system to work better in corporate environments. The company will add VPN support, for instance, to allow phones to connect with corporate networks securely. There will also be features that consumers in fast-growing emerging markets desire, including the ability for phones to have two SIM cards so people can switch carrier plans easily for the best deals.

The company hasn't announced pricing or specific availability for either update, but both are likely to be free downloads, based on past practice. They could be available as early as this month and will be among the first major software releases since Satya Nadella became Microsoft's CEO in February. It follows Nadella's unveiling last week of Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for Apple's iPad.

Microsoft may also use the Build conference to update software developers on the company's plans to integrate the Windows Phone 8 system for smartphones, the Windows 8.1 system for tablets, laptops and desktops and the Xbox system for its game console. The company has said it is working to have its various systems share more of the underlying code, while retaining separate interfaces adapted to the specific devices. The integration will make it easier for developers to adapt apps for the various devices.

Microsoft, which is based in Redmond, Wash., saw lackluster demand when Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 came out in October 2012.

Windows 8 was supposed to be Microsoft's answer to the growing popularity of touch-screen devices such as smartphones and tablets. Instead, research firm IDC blamed Windows 8 for accelerating a decline in global PC shipments, which fell 14 percent in the first three months of 2013, the first full quarter with Windows 8.

Designed as a single system to unify tablets, laptops and desktop PCs, Windows 8 emphasizes touch-screen controls and sports a full-page home screen that is more common on mobile gadgets than traditional computers. Many consumers, however, hate that approach on laptops and desktops.

Last October, Microsoft issued a free update to address some of the gripes. Now, people can run more than two apps side by side. The built-in browser lets people open more than 10 tabs without automatically closing older ones. Windows 8.1 also introduced new features, including a universal search function to help users find files stored on their computers along with Web content on the Internet.

At the time of the release, Microsoft promised to issue new features regularly.

The latest update will do just that. Microsoft has said the company is standing by its decision to embrace touch controls, while acknowledging that many of the remaining Windows gripes have come from people who use non-touch devices.

Meanwhile, Windows Phone 8 came out with a thud some 17 months ago. One of its biggest drawbacks has been a lack of apps available for the system, compared with Apple's iOS and Google's Android. Microsoft is starting to catch up on that front. It has also updated Windows Phone 8 three times since its release to add features. The upcoming update is poised to be the biggest of them all and might get a new name, Windows Phone 8.1.

The release comes as Microsoft prepares to buy Nokia's phone business and patent rights in a 5.4 billion euro ($7.4 billion) deal. The transaction should be completed in the next few weeks, pending regulatory approval in Asia. The deal already has approval in the U.S. and Europe.

Source: AP Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Associated Press</a>
The Associated Press (AP) is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Twitter to track apps on your smartphone
New York, Nov 27 (IANS) The micro-blogging site Twitter has launched a new move to track which apps are installed on your cellphone.
 
 
Copper essential for resting brain too
New York, Nov 27 (IANS) A new study has found that proper copper levels are essential to the health of the brain at rest.
 
 
Dogs clearly listen to what we say
London, Nov 27 (IANS) Dogs pay attention not only to who we are and how we say things, but also to what we say, shows a study.
 
 
Eye's 'glassy' proteins behind sight deterioration
London, Nov 27 (IANS) The age-related long-sightedness could be due to proteins in eye-lens that are converted from a fluid solution to a solid glassy state, making the lens more rigid, says a study.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Simon Cowell plans lavish Thanksgiving
Simon Cowell and Lauren Silverman will go ''all out'' for Thanksgiving. The 'X Factor' judge and his American girlfriend may be in London for the US holiday today (11.27.14), but the couple still plan to celebrate in a...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Harry Styles stayed in Los Angeles to have 'a little party'
Harry Styles stayed in Los Angeles to party after the American Music Awards instead of flying to Australia with his One Direction bandmates. The 20-year-old heartthrob and bandmate Zayn Malik, 21, decided to stay in...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Modi, Sharif shake hands, chat at reception
Kathmandu, Nov 27 (IANS) After a day when they apparently ignored each other in front of cameras, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif shook hands and met briefly during the retreat at...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Arsenal's target is to top Group D: Cazorla
London, Nov 27 (IANS) Arsenal mid-fielder Santi Cazorla said that after securing the last 16 spot in Champions League, the club's next target will be the top place of the group. The English club reached the knockout...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Five killed in Kabul suicide car bombing
Kabul, Nov 27 (IANS) At least five Afghan civilians were killed and 34 others wounded Thursday morning when a suicide car bombing targeted a British embassy armoured vehicle in eastern Kabul, sources said. The British...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Twitter to track apps on your smartphone
New York, Nov 27 (IANS) The micro-blogging site Twitter has launched a new move to track which apps are installed on your cellphone. "To help build a more personal Twitter experience for you, we are collecting and...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Galatasaray going through very difficult moment: Prandelli
Brussels, Nov 27 (IANS) Galatasaray coach Cesare Prandelli said that the club are going through "very difficult moment" following the 0-2 away defeat to RSC Anderlecht in the Champions League. "We will continue on our...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Pele remains in hospital in stable condition
Rio de Janeiro, Nov 27 (IANS) Brazil football legend Pele remains in hospital as he receives ongoing treatment for a urinary tract infection. The 74-year-old is being treated with intravenous antibiotics and is in a...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Simeone salutes his players for 4-0 win over Olympiakos
Madrid, Nov 27 (IANS) Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone praised his players after they defeated Olympiakos of Greece 4-0 in the Champions league at the Vicente Calderon Stadium here Wednesday. "We have produced some...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Basel made life difficult for us: Gareth Bale
Geneva, Nov 27 (IANS) Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale said Basel posed enough threats after Real won over the Swiss club 1-0 in the Champions League Wednesday night. "Basel are still battling to qualify, still fighting...
Read more on Sport Balla