Almost exactly a month ago, Microsoft launched Internet Explorer 11 as part of the Windows 8.1 preview and today, it is also launching a developer preview of IE11 for Windows 7.
IE11 is Microsoft’s first browser to embrace the WebGL standard for accessing the computer’s GPU for rendering advanced 2D and 3D experiences. As Microsoft’s senior program manager for IE Frank Olivier told me, his team has worked hard to ensure that WebGL in IE (both on Windows 7 and 8.1) is as safe as possible and can’t crash the system (it does, after all, allow very low-level access to your hardware). Indeed, Olivier showed me a demo that stressed IE11 s WebGL implementation to the point where it crashes. IE11 handles this situation gracefully and simply restarts its WebGL core as needed.
To show off IE11 s WebGL features, the company teamed up with GlacierWorks, a site that aims to raise awareness about the effect of climate change in the Himalayas, to add more WebGL content to its site.
Fast, But Not SPDY On Windows 7
All of these features will also be available to Windows 7 users and Singhal expects the Windows 7 version to offer virtually the same performance as on the new operating system. One feature Microsoft doesn’t bring to Windows 7, though, is support for Google’s SPDY networking protocol.
As for Windows 8, Microsoft tells me that it will ship IE11 with the free Windows 8.1 upgrade. Microsoft clearly expects most Windows 8 users to upgrade to 8.1 and it doesn’t look like it plans to make IE11 available as a standalone download for 8.
With today’s update for Windows 7, Microsoft is also updating modern.IE, its site for tools and resources for developing for IE. The site now features virtual machines for testing IE11 on Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, as well as a new screenshot tool that lets you see how your sites look across different browsers and devices. For a limited time, Microsoft is also offering developers a 25 percent discount on Parallels for Mac so they can run these virtual machines. IE11 itself, it’s worth noting, also includes a number of updated developer tools.
According to an internal memo sent this morning to employees, top Skype exec Mark Gillett is leaving Microsoft. Sources said that Gillett – who is corporate VP for Skype, as well as its Lync communications product – has another job he is headed to, although the memo did not mention where he was going. Gillett, who is responsible for Skype’s product, engineering and operations worldwide, has been with the online telephony company for several years, including before Microsoft bought it. Previous to that, he worked at private equity giant Silver Lake in Europe.
Last month, we sat down with Microsoft for a quick look at the Xbox’s upcoming Dashboard update – it was sleek, searchable, and extremely camera shy. A quick trip to Europe seems to have cured it of its bashful ways, however, and the budding update can now be seen in a slightly blurry piece of French cinema. This leaked video shows a Dashboard with a smidge more polish than the demo we saw in September, and silently plods on without so much as a bleep or bloop. Our mute host briefly peeks at the Xbox Live Marketplace, casually glances at the Bing search page and scrolls leisurely through the new Dash’s very Metro menu. The whole shebang is en fran ais, of course, and the update’s snappy voice-control gimmick is sadly absent. Sure, there’s not a lot of depth here, but if you want a glimpse of what’s coming when the update drops later this Fall, it’s definitely worth a look.
Investor confidence in Nokia appears to be on the upswing. A narrower third-quarter loss and an upbeat forecast from the mobile phone company pushed its shares up eight percent Tuesday morning.
And, indeed, there is good reason to celebrate Nokia’s third-quarter earnings. The company once again posted an increase in sales of its Lumia smartphone, shipping 8.8 million of them during the quarter. That’s a nice bump up from the record 7.4 million it sold in the quarter prior, and a vast improvement over the 2.9 million it sold during the same period a year ago.
Another highlight: Nokia’s handset sales in North America. There, the Finnish company recorded sales of 1.4 million units in the third quarter. That’s nearly triple the number it sold in the second quarter, and far more than the 300,000 units it shipped in the year-ago period.
Now, 1.4 million smartphones shipped in North America isn’t exactly a triumph in absolute terms – companies like Apple and Samsung shipped many, many more – but it’s progress, and a promising development for Nokia’s device business, which is to be acquired by Microsoft early next year. Great news for the software giant, which is paying $7.2 billion for it in the hope that Nokia’s smartphone expertise will make Windows Phone relevant in a market dominated by Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone.
At an internal meeting, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that the company overproduced the Surface RT tablet, leading to its recent $150 per unit price cut. As quoted by The Verge’s Tom Warren, Ballmer plainly explained that the company “built a few more devices than [it] could sell.”
But we already knew that.
In its most recent quarterly earnings release, Microsoft took a $900 million charge relating to the Surface RT tablet line, essentially admitting that the inventory that it has on hand was not worth its previous internal valuation; you can’t cut the market price of a product that you have in a warehouse and not lower its value on your books. The write down cost Microsoft $0.07 per share. It missed expectations for the quarter.
Microsoft has been on a mission to clear Surface RT inventory for some time. As I wrote earlier this year, through a combination of giveaways and discounts, Microsoft was moving to liquidate what appeared to be mountainous superfluous unit volume of its ARM-based Windows tablet hybrid.
At that time, Microsoft released a bland statement, saying that the offers and handouts were in “response” to the “positive reaction” Surface had enjoyed since launch. That felt a bit backwards: If response had been so strong, why give away a single device or discount? Wouldn’t organic demand be sufficient? Well, as it turns out, reaction hasn’t been overly positive, so the entire argument was logically moot.
Ballmer said something else during the meeting that is a non-surprise: Microsoft is not selling as many Windows devices as it would like. We knew that, too. The figures released quarterly that describe the PC market are brutal – and dropping. Even Apple is suffering from declining Mac sales in the face of nearly insurmountable headwinds that it helped to create with its leadership of post-PC product categories.
Next-generation Surface devices are being designed and tested. I suspect that Microsoft learned its lesson regarding production volume: Prove product-market fit first, and then kick the afterburners.
Top Image Credit: BUILDWindows
AT&T said that it will start taking orders for the six-inch Lumia 1520 phablet on Friday, charging $199 for those who sign a new two-year contract. The large-screen Windows Phone, which will hit shelves Nov. 22, was announced last month by Nokia.
Microsoft is cutting the price of the Xbox One to 399.99 in the UK, as it seeks to stimulate sales alongside its highly-anticipated first person shooter exclusive Titanfall.
The reduced price tag will take effect this Friday (February 28), exactly two weeks before the new title from Respawn Entertainment hits store shelves in the region. While stocks last, Microsoft will also throw in a free copy of Titanfall if you pre-order the title alongside a new Xbox One. That means you’re picking up the console for 30 less, with a full-price game (anywhere up to 50) for a grand total of 80 in savings.
The new Titanfall bundle will also be available in the US, although Microsoft will be sticking to its original price of $499 for the Xbox One.
There’s more! From today in the UK: pre-order #XboxOne with #Titanfall 399.99 Details: http://t.co/o8wqpY6CL9 pic.twitter.com/8ZpTcnTMBZ
– Xbox UK (@xboxuk) February 24, 2014
While the Xbox One is selling well, in these early months it’s started lagging behind the PlayStation 4 in crucial markets such as the US. While sales figures for the UK haven’t been broken out, this would suggest Sony is building a significant lead – or that Microsoft is at least worried that it’s about to do so. Titanfall is arguably the Xbox One’s biggest exclusive so far, so it should come as no surprise that Microsoft wants to maximize its potential to tempt new customers away from its closest rival.
Read Next: Xbox One review: A multimedia extravaganza that also plays games / Why PlayStation 4 was the best-selling next-gen console in the US last month
Image Credit: GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP/Getty Images
It’s hard to believe that it was ten years ago today that Windows XP first hit retail shelves. It’s even more astonishing when you realize that it was still the most popular operating system in the world until the beginning of this month. The sun may finally be setting on the stalwart OS that has powered countless home and business PCs (it crossed the 400 million mark way back in 2006), but it’s still number two – right behind it’s youngest brother Windows 7 and well ahead of the black sheep, Vista. Sure, our relationship with Microsoft’s OS has had its ups and downs, but it’s clear we’ve developed an attachment to the ol’ bird. After all, consumer demand kept it shipping on PCs until late 2010 and Redmond has pledged to support it until April 8th of 2014. If nothing else, XP will be remembered for its incredibleresilience.
Microsoft today released its developer preview version of Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) for those devices running its Windows 7 operating system. In doing so, the company seeks to show developers that apps produced for its latest browser will work across many different devices while also showing that its browser is very scalable.
While Microsoft touts IE11 s ability to offer improved browser performance such as faster page load times and new standards support for websites, this release also include a completely revamped F12 developer tools.
Opening IE11 to more people
IE11 first hit the scene at a reveal during the company’s Build conference in San Francisco. Until today, it was only available with Windows 8.1 – and only to those users who feel the risk to upgrade is worth checking out the upgraded OS. The latest version of Microsoft’s browser is billed as a platform to help create “the best experience on the Web” and the company states that browsers are no longer a simple commodity – rather, they’re key platform differentiators.
The IE11 developer preview for Windows 7 is the first time Microsoft is opening up the browser to a large audience, hopefully recognizing that there are many consumers that don’t have Windows 8 installed. Those that install IE11 will receive all of the performance, security, and “under-the-hood” changes highlighted at Build.
Microsoft tells us how great IE11 is
We’ll save you the promotional information about how good Microsoft thinks IE11 is, but in short, the company touts that the browser is the first one to integrate the W3C Resource Priorities standard, which helps to determine what should be loaded first, thereby reducing load times.
Additionally, it supports HTML5 link prefetching and pre-syncing, processes that provide a measure of predictability the browser can use to anticipate where the user wants to go next.
With this release, in order to show how powerful and adaptable IE11 is, Microsoft has revamped its in-browser developer suite of tools. Available since IE8, the F12 toolset gives developers the ability to diagnose and optimize their apps quickly and efficiently. With today’s preview version, Microsoft has added three new tools to help streamline project build times and increase its efficiencies:
- User interface responsiveness and memory profiling: Developers can now look at a website and understand where pain points are in the UI, including if there’s a lag in responsiveness. It can detect where the issue is occurring and give the area to help developers make the necessary adjustments.
- Live DOM Explorer and CSS inspection tools: A feature that lets developers iteratively understand how IE is laying out and rendering web apps.
- Emulation tool: F12 now gives developers the ability to look at their site/app as it would appear on a variety of screen sizes, platforms, and devices – all without needing to leave the browser.
Updates to Modern.IE
On top of the the availability of IE11 s developer preview, Microsoft is updating its Modern.IE website, the suite of free tools developers can use to help them spend “more time innovating and less time testing.” These tools are a tad bit different than what developers would receive with F12.
Prior to today, Modern.IE offered three tools to help developers, including a ‘wizard’ to scan sites for problematic coding practices, three months of free virtual testing through BrowserStack, and an editorialized selection of best practices.
Today, the site is receiving several enhancements, including a 25 percent discount on the purchase of Parallels Desktop 8 virtualization for Mac software. The site’s virtual machine offering now includes IE11 testing on Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 and the screenshot tool has moved to be open source – its code can be downloaded off of GitHub today.
Microsoft IE11 developer preview for Windows 7
Photo credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images