This article was published on March 2, 2012

This week in Microsoft: Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Internet Explorer 9

This week in Microsoft: Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Internet Explorer 9
Alex Wilhelm
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Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

Holy heck, it’s been a week. The Mobile World Conference event delivered in a very, very big way. Microsoft was all over the proceedings, dropping huge amounts of Windows Phone and Windows 8 news onto our heads.

We say it every week, but this time we really mean it: there is no way to squeeze the past seven days into one post, so please check the archives for the full picture. It will be well worth your time; we’ve been writing flat out all week. Now, please ensure that you are following the friendly team at TNW Microsoft on both Twitter, and Facebook, and let’s jump into this massive pool of new information.

Windows 8

Microsoft relased the Windows 8 Consumer Preview this week, what you can colloquially call its ‘beta.’ Microsoft promised to drop the code in the ‘second half of February.’ It did so, but due to this being a leap year, made us all wait until the very last possible only-every-four-years moment. Smarmy bastards.

Jokes aside, the Consumer Preview racked up over one million downloads in its first 24 hours of availiblity. Given its size, large, TNW estimates that that works out to the company delivering roughly 712.3 watterabytes per fortnight; it was a lot of data. If Microsoft was trying to show off how many packets it can ship under massive, instant demand, it made its point.

Now, how good is the Consumer Preview? Quite good. It contains what you had hoped the Developer Preview would, but didn’t. It’s a very nearly feature complete version of Windows 8, meaning that it contains, we would say, the company’s vision of what the future of Windows will be.

The market was a bit slow to react, but once a few analysts got off their duff, read the media’s report, and decided that it was good, Microsoft picked up a few points on its stock. For a full look at the Consumer Preview, head here. We can’t even begin to fit the new features into this roundup.

Windows Phone

Right, this week was the Mobile World Congress after all, so there was some Windows Phone news, right? Right. We turn to Nokia for the bulk of it:

The Lumia 610 is real. We already mostly knew that, but today it was made official. The handset runs on a newly lowered set of specifications (more on that later). The device has a mere 256 megabytes of RAM, and a single core 800 mhz processor.

The 610 brings Nokia’s Windows Phone lineup to a total of four devices: the Lumia 610, 710,  800, and 900. They run the gamut from budget to halo. Naturally, we expect the Lumia 610 to head to dozens of countries in which handset costs are on average lower, due to lower GDP per capita figures.

But that wasn’t all, Skype for Windows Phone was all announced, at last. If you want to snag the code itself, head here. A full version, what you can get now is a beta, will be made available in April.

Finally. Tango was unveiled. Guess what: Microsoft isn’t forking Windows Phone. Excellent, we say. The company is instead putting out Tango as a Windows Phone update to the current Mango editon of its firmware. It will cut down the minimum system specifications to the bare bones, and take the handsets to new countries.

The price is that not all apps will run on Tango handsets, and that the ability to run apps in the background will be essentially stripped out. It’s not ideal, but it should take Windows Phone boldly where no smartphone has gone before.

Internet Explorer 9

Finally, and I know that we are short on room, Internet Explorer 9. Out last Sunday was my report on using Internet Explorer 9 for a week. I found it to be a very capable browser, and a dramatic upgrade from its predecessors. However, I found a few small issues left me leaning towards Chrome as my daily browser. One note: Chrome is not as good as it once was – as it picks up fat, Firefox 10 becomes all the more attractive.

However, Microsoft has made great strides with Internet Explorer, and we should not denigrate those upgrades. The company is looking to capitalize on them, with Internet Explorer 10, a browser that just dropped its fifth platform preview yesterday.

Our view is this: if Microsoft builds the best ‘Metro’ browser, it has a shot to really hold fast to a huge chunk of the Windows 8 browser market. So far we really dig IE10.

That’s all for the week, now go make a Cosmo.

First image credit.

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