Capped by a new "cumulative update" released on Tuesday, Microsoft and software partners like Adobe and Mozilla are busy making last-minute tweaks and fixes to the Windows 8 OS and its apps and tools, as the October 26th launch date for Windows 8 draws near.
Thanks to the cumulative update, Windows 8 users won't need to wait until the release of a post-launch service pack to install updates aimed at improving OS performance and reliability. Available for immediate download, the update includes tweaks for increasing power efficiency to extend battery life; improving the performance of Windows 8 applications and the Start screen; bettering audio and video playback "in many scenarios," and smoothing application and driver compatibility with Windows 8, Microsoft said in Web postings.
Separately, on Monday of this week, Microsoft and Adobe each issued security patches for vulnerabilities in the Adobe Flash Player built into Internet Explorer 10, the version of Microsoft's Web browser which will ship with Windows 8.
Meanwhile, last week, the company announced performance and reliability improvements to a bunch of Microsoft apps which will ship with Windows 8, including SkyDrive; Bing; Maps; Photos; Finance; News; Sports; Travel; Weather; Video; Music; Games; and Mail, Calendar, People, and Messaging.
New Features for Maps and Video
At the same time, Microsoft unveiled new features for each of these apps. For example, the Maps app now gets a bird's eye view; 3,000-plus indoor venue maps; driving directions hints; improved navigation and layout; integration with the Bing and Travel apps; and improved customization, including custom pushpins and roaming options.
New additions to Video include closed captioning; search by actor or director, and the ability to purchase in local currencies, said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows group at Microsoft, in a blog post.
A New Firefox Browser
Also last week, Mozilla issued the first public preview of a Firebox browser designed to run in Win8's "Modern" (previously known as "Metro") user interface (UI).
Mozilla plans to release its new browser for "Modern" along with a conventional desktop browser several months from now. "The preview includes a new Metro style Firefox start page, support for Firefox Sync, Metro touch and swipe gestures, integration with Windows 8 'charms,' and a simple but powerful Australis interface that is streamlined, modern, and beautiful," contended Asa Dotzler, Mozilla's product manager for Firefox, in another blog post.
"Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be adding more features, tightening up Windows integration, improving performance and responsiveness, and finishing up all the necessary work to deliver a first-class Firefox experience for Windows 8."
Dotzler invited software developers who are running the 64-bit RTM release of Windows 8 to download nightly builds of the new Mozilla browser to help out with bug testing.
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