Windows 8’s development barrels along. The company recently revealed that app store support was in and pulled the curtain back on numerous feature teams. This week, Stephen Sinofsky, president of Windows Live and lead blogger at the Building Windows 8 blog, handed the metaphorical mic to two members of said teams to discuss USB 3.0 support and the platform’s improved file management system.
Since it’s already a mainstay of computer hardware and Internet-ready devices, investing in advanced USB technology was a no-brainer explained Dennis Flanagan, director of program management for the Windows 8 Devices and Networking group. Future propagation of USB 3.0, which transmits data 10 times faster than the previous iteration, into more computers means Microsoft’s next platform needs to address both the past and future.
“By 2015, all new PCs are expected to offer USB 3.0 ports, and over 2 billion new ‘SuperSpeed’ USB devices will be sold in that year alone,” wrote Flanagan. “There are also billions of older USB devices that Windows must remain compatible with. This commitment to compatibility remains a high priority for Windows 8 across the whole product.”
To address the burgeoning USB 3.0 model, Flanagan explained that the Windows team jumped ahead of the crowd by creating software representations of the new hardware before it was even available. It was only after work had started on the new iteration’s virtual form that the group received a host controller. “If we waited for hardware to be available,” opined Flanagan, “we would be too late to support the budding USB 3.0 ecosystem.”
Another issue the company promised to tackle with Windows 8 is the file management system from Windows 7 – something even Alex Simons, director of program management with the Windows 8 engineering team, admitted was cumbersome.
“There are some pretty cluttered and confusing parts of the Windows 7 copy experience. This is particularly true when people need to deal with files and folders that have the same file names, in what we call file name collisions,” wrote Simons. “We clearly have an opportunity to make some improvements in the experience of high-volume copying, in dealing with file name collisions, and in assuring the successful completion of copy jobs.”
Simons described three specific goals for what the new system should do: 1) Create one unified experience for managing and monitoring ongoing copy operations; 2) remove distractions and give people the key information they need; 3) put people in control of their copy operations. The Windows 8 team took the following steps to meet those goals:
First, we’ve consolidated the copy experience. You can now review and control all the Explorer copy jobs currently executing in one combined UI. Windows 8 presents all pending copy jobs in this single dialog, saving you from having to navigate through multiple floating dialogs looking for the one you need. Next, we’ve added the ability to pause, resume, and stop each copy operation currently underway. This gives you control over which copy jobs will complete first. You can also click any of the source or destination folders while the copy operation is taking place and open up those folders. To support this new ability to prioritize and decide, we’ve added a detailed view with a real-time throughput graph. Now each copy job shows the speed of data transfer, the transfer rate trend, and how much data in left to transfer. While this is not designed for benchmarking, in many cases it can provide a quick and easy way to assess what is going on for a particular job.
Lastly, Simons announced that many “annoying, redundant” confirmation boxes users complained about have been axed “to create a quieter, less distracting experience.”
How does Windows 8 sound so far? Share your hopes and fears in the comment section.