Wednesday, September 21, 2011


A "touchable" Ribbon

I got to play with a Windows 8 Samsung tablet yesterday, tapping and flipping and pinching and snapping it's colorful little cheeks. :) My reaction was similar to the reaction of many so far: fascination. It really is as fast as the videos show--maybe faster. And the techniques feel pretty natural (especially if you have a touch smartphone) and not as interruptive as I was imagining. One thing I've been a bit leery about is the addition of the ribbon UI to Windows Explorer. I wondered how easy it would be to tap exactly what I wanted and navigate without the use of a stylus (which I'll just lose anyway). As I tested it out, the tools on the ribbon were no problem at all--easily tapable, well bordered (so you're not always selecting the wrong tool by mistake). I did have some trouble with the Minimize/ Restore / Close box in the upper right corner of the Windows Explorer window (maximizing when I wanted to close the window), but it wasn't a bad trial for my first time out.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Metro will bring to Office 15 and how it might change the ribbon UI and the general way we access and work with our documents. Will the ribbon somehow scroll off the left side of the screen instead of displaying contextual tabs with further toolsets? Will Backstage view become a side panel that pops up alongside the main work area? Will there be "charms" in our apps that enable us to search, share, and connect devices easily?

And will I be able to play Fruit Ninja while I write and produce a well-written chapter on time (while scoring well on the game)? That's the real question. C'mon, Windows 8, step up.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011


Microsoft Office Metro-style

Last week Microsoft showed us all kinds of color and movement and flexibility as they demonstrated the new "metro-style" look for Windows 8. Similar to the touch functionality on the Windows Phone 7, you will soon be able to choose, rearrange, pane, and snap your apps (notice they aren't called "windows" anymore) the way you want them to appear. Steve Ballmer said "You ought to expect that we are rethinking and working hard on what it would mean to do Office Metro style," when he was asked what's coming for Office.

Back in July, Ballmer gave a presentation at the Worldwide Partner Conference in LA which included some of the visuals (which included a PowerPoint live tile) that will reportedly be shared among multiple Windows spheres: the PC, phone, Xbox 360, and Office. Here's a write-up from Winrumors about that presentation, along with a short video showing off the developing style.

Windows 8 will have lots of touch and movement, but Microsoft says they aren't abandoning the mouse and keyboard, so we'll have to see how gracefully it all works together. I love the touch on my phone, but I rarely use it to do more than call family,  check and return email, and tweet (well, and play a game of Fruit Ninga occasionally). Working with documents still feels too limited to me, and I avoid it when I can. Before I'll love touch in Office 15, I'm going to have to see real practical benefits with solid and fast functionality. A pretty look and fun movement won't mean much to me when there's a big deadline looming.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Next BUILD keynote coming up!

Hi there--I'm sitting here listening to this jazzy music, waiting for the BUILD keynote (day 2) to begin streaming. You can watch it here with me if you like:

Earlier today Sinofsky posted on the Building Windows 8 blog some of the win 7 hardware we can use to test out the developer preview, if we are so inclined:
  • HP Elitebook 2740p and 2760p convertible
  • ASUS EP121 tablet
  • Dell Inspiron Duo convertible
  • Lenovo x201, x220t convertible
  • 3M M2256PW 22” display

  • He also listed a huge range of devices they've used in the test labs. Be sure--if you spring for a new system--to get something that supports touch so you can really put Win8 through its paces. :)

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011


    BUILD photos :)

    Just in case you're curious: Here are some photos from the keynote.


    Filling in the gaps on Win 8

    Well, the big Microsoft BUILD conference kicks off in Anaheim in just a few hours. I have all systems go (literally) for the keynotes, the blog posts, the tweets, the articles. But mostly I am ready for Microsoft to begin filling in the gaps on what we don't know about Windows 8 so far--which is a lot. :) From what I've seen (which is not much, just what's been publicly available so far on posted video), I like the approach, the look, the movement, the strategy. I'm not so sure how the dual approach (the touch metro Start screen and the familiar Windows desktop) will work together. Will it confuse people? Will it be more trouble than it's worth?

    And of course I write a lot about Microsoft Office applications, so I'm wondering also about how touch will arrive in the next version of Office. I could see that the ribbon might be touch-friendly (for some of us, anyway). But what other changes will need to happen for the next version of Office to make the most of a verson of Windows "built from the ground up"? We shall see.

    Since green technology is also a love of mine, I'm curious about how Windows 8 will work with the cloud. Office 365 launched in June and is doing pretty well (two outages that I know of so far but nothing major, and folks seem to be really liking and using the tools); how will Windows 8 make saving to and from Office 365 and interacting with colleagues even more seamless? (One feature that will be cool is two-way video chat, which I've heard is coming with the new Mango phones. Can't wait!)

    So there's lots to anticipate, and what we hear today may energize the developer community and excite tech writers like me...or not. Some pundits are saying Microsoft really needs Win 8 to be a big win in order to stay relevant in today's tablet-and-phone-driven tech world. I see Windows 8 as more of an opportunity for Microsoft than a do-or-die gamble; I think Microsoft has weathered many storms (for example, Windows ME and Windows Vista) and no matter how we react to Windows 8, she will keep on keepin' on.

    Want to follow BUILD? @bldwin, @jeffjames3, @thurrott (and many, many more)

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    Monday, September 12, 2011


    Trying for publishing convergence :)

    This is more of an update than a Microsoft Office tip, trick, or snafu...but since creating the Office 365: Connect & Collaborate site, I've been trying to streamline my communication efforts so all the various places I post are updated as seamlessly as possible. Toward that end, I've finally seen the light and created an Amazon Author Page at AuthorCentral (sheesh, I wish I could make that picture of me smaller!), and I was a bit chagrined to realize that I am the author of 70 (yes, no kidding, s-e-v-e-n-t-y) books on That makes me tired just thinking of it!

    I've also linked my writing blog to Amazon (and added Twitter as well), so hopefully if you're curious about an upcoming book or a book outside my normal tech writing domain, you'll find what you'd like to know there.

    I've also been writing regularly for CNET's TechRepublic and have just started blogging for PC World, and of course continue doing articles for the trusty Windows Secrets (love them). And that's on top of the books for Microsoft Press, Que, Wiley, and Pearson Ed (and others). So yes, I guess I see how I got to 70 books. Good thing I love to write.

    More tech stuff coming soon, and please visit my new Office 365: Connect & Coblogerate blog if you're curious about the cloud. :) Also, the Office 365: Connect & Collaborate newsletter will go out this week, so sign up now if you'd like to receive it!

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