Windows 8 Getting Major Update Before Release

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by Andy Patrizio

There is usually a few months of lag between when Microsoft releases a product to manufacturing – the process of stamping DVDs, OEMs building PCs with it pre-installed – and when it ships, and then there is a few more months of waiting for the first patch.

Thanks to the advent of the Internet and automatic updating, those fixes have come sooner after the product’s release. Patch Tuesday was including Windows 7 fixes within a few months of the product’s release.

But here we have a record. Microsoft has issued a significant update to Windows 8 and it’s not even on the market yet. The fixes include changes to the operating system as well as the Office applications that come bundled with the OS.

Windows 8 is in the hands of some customers now. Anyone with a TechNet subscription – in other words, a developer – can download the code now and install it. The update was pushed out through Windows Update and weighs in at a whopping 170MB. Meaning this is no bug fix. Microsoft MVP  Vasudevg noted on Twitter it’s a “mini Service Pack.”

Steven Sinofsky, the president of the Windows division at Microsoft, wrote in a blog update that “During the final months of Windows 8 we challenged ourselves to create the tools and processes to be able to deliver these -post-RTM- updates sooner than a service pack. By developing better test automation and test coverage tools we are happy to say that Windows 8 will be totally up to date for all customers starting at General Availability.

According to the Knowledge Base article, the update contains:

* Increased power efficiency to extend battery life

* Performance improvements in Windows 8 applications and Start screen

* Improved audio and video playback in many scenarios

* Improved application and driver compatibility with Windows 8

All of which would undoubtedly be welcomed.

Microsoft SkyDrive

In addition to this fix, Microsoft has also announced it will release updates to many of the apps that will be included in Windows 8, and that the updates will be sent to all OEM partners so product shipping to stores will be fully up to date. Those apps are:

* Bing: It’s getting “richer” search results for local content and higher quality images when zooming in on search results.

* SkyDrive: added search capability and the ability to rename and move folders and files.

* Mail, Calendar, People and Messaging apps include a conversation view in your inbox, complete iMAP account support and the ability to accept or decline invitations via email. Messaging will support searching for contact.

This is a big change in how Microsoft issues fixes. Back in the Windows 2000/XP days, we’d have to wait for these fixes to come with Service Pack 1. In latter XP days and with Windows 7, such a fix might come after a few months.

“To my knowledge, this is a first time we’ve seen an update released between RTM and general availability,” said Mike Cherry, research vice president for Directions on Microsoft. “I think it’s a great development. It’s a great way to go that they can do these interim updates as needed. Sinofsky said they didn’t just reimagine the product but also the process. I think this is evidence of that reworked process.”

The complete list can be found on the Building Windows 8 blog.



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