Windows 8 Secrets: RTM Setup Animations Revealed

This week, an employee of a Microsoft partner attended a local event and documented the new Windows 8 Setup animations aimed at helping users understand key new Metro-style interfaces. Microsoft forced this employee to take down the photos of this process. But we know you’re curious what this will look like. So in this this new co-post, your intrepid “Windows 8 Secrets” co-authors show you help animations that appear in the RTM version of Windows 8 Setup. Pre-order Windows 8 Secrets today on Amazon.com and save!

Because Windows 8 is such a major change from previous Windows versions, Microsoft struggled to determine how much in-box training they needed to provide. The spectrum was fairly broad, of course, ranging from no training at all to “heavy” tutorials that would step the user through every possible new feature.

What Microsoft found, however, was that the sweet spot involved not overwhelming the user, but rather just providing them with the basics for finding some of the core new Metro UIs, like the Charms. And the way that Microsoft decided to implement these pointers is via a set of two animations that appear at the end of the so-called Out of Box Experience (OOBE), which is the part of Setup where the user enters basic user account information and picks a color scheme.

The animation(s) you see will be based on the capabilities of your PC. If you have a touch-based device, like a tablet, you will be shown the animation oriented towards touch followed by the version for mouse usage. Otherwise, you will only see the version aimed at mouse users.

Other sites have simply reposted the still shots of the animations. But we know you want to see the real thing. Here are those animations, back to back.

Have you seen any Windows 8 leaks you’d like to know more about? Drop us a line and let us know!

–Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott

Windows 8 Secrets: RTM Windows Store Revealed

This week, Microsoft documented how it will be opening the Windows Store to paid apps beginning when it releases Windows 8 to manufacturing. But we know you’re curious what this will look like. So in this this new co-post, your intrepid “Windows 8 Secrets” co-authors show you the RTM version of the Windows Store. Pre-order Windows 8 Secrets today on Amazon.com and save!

“Currently, all the apps that are available in the Windows Store are free for customers to acquire—keeping with the preview nature of the Windows 8 releases to date,” Microsoft’s Antoine Leblond writes in the latest post to the Windows Store for Developers blog. “At Windows 8 RTM (Release To Manufacturing), all developers signing up for a company account and living in one of the supported countries will be able to publish and offer paid apps.”

As you might imagine, Microsoft has in fact finalized Windows 8 already and is debating over only minor issues such as the final build number. So with Windows 8 RTM imminent, the store is being prepped for this new milestone in which paid apps will finally be offered to customers.

And with a bit of URL trickery, we were able to gain access to the RTM version of Windows Store. So here’s an early and exclusive peek.

Note the "New apps for RTM" tile

Note the carat next to the Games heading

All of the built-in apps are getting updated

Paid game landing page

Paid app with buy and try options

We expect the RTM version of Windows Store to become available to everyone in as soon as a few days.

Have you seen any Windows 8 leaks you’d like to know more about? Drop us a line and let us know!

–Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott

Workaround for Windows 8 freezing issues

Edit: A hotfix has been released. An official workaround, courtesy of Microsoft Senior SDET hero Tripp Parks, is now available for those experiencing Windows 8 freezing issues. Simply open an elevated command prompt, issue the following command, and reboot:

bcdedit /set disabledynamictick yes

It's still unclear what the exact issue is, but we can now surmise from this tweak that there's definitely an issue with Windows and hardware compatibility -- specifically dealing with the Windows clock and processor dynamic ticking.

Okay, but what are dynamic ticks? Do I need them?

Very generally speaking, (I'm not a hardware expert), your PC's processor -- like a clock -- ticks at a certain rate. These ticks are received by the OS to perform various tasks and push paper around. When your PC is idle, however, this constant ticking and interrupting of the OS eats time and power.

Cue dynamic ticking.

This new concept involves the processor coalescing or batching together ticks when idle, only delivering them when a more interesting event occurs. In other words, the processor gets to hit the snooze button a few more times before waking up.

(Hey, remember my previous memory dump showed processors in idle states? Interesting.)

So wait, won't turning this off eat more power/be less efficient?

Very likely. But it appears the new dynamic ticking feature in Windows 8 has a bug in it. So turning it off should revert you back to behavior similar to what's on Windows 7 until a fix comes out or a newer build becomes available.

More info about the Windows 8 Release Preview freezing issue

So Paul Thurrott just wrote a piece on the responses he received from his earlier Windows 8 Release Preview distress beacon. To quickly recap, the operating system, for some users, at random, seems to slowly hang -- one app at a time -- eventually forcing a reboot. We know the issue was confirmed by Microsoft and has reportedly already been fixed in newer builds of Windows 8. Unfortunately we don't know why it's happening yet or if it's something easily worked around. Paul, however, seems to be on the right track with his comment about chipsets:

Many of the comments were interesting. A majority of those who had experienced the hang issue have SSD (instead of hard drive) storage. All of them had “Sandy Bridge” or newer Intel-based chipsets in their PCs. Interesting.

I say "right track" because as soon as I read that, I revisited some of the crash dumps provided by some kind folks on Neowin. Using my limited kernel debugging skills, I opened a few memory dumps and displayed a call stack from each processor. Lo' and behold the system appears tied up in the Intel Processor Driver (intelppm.sys) when the issue occurs. (I can't tell you what Processor 0 is up to because I had these users crash their system using CrashOnCtrlScroll. Dump analysis tips are very welcome.)

0: kd> ~1
1: kd> kc
Call Site
intelppm!MWaitIdle
intelppm!AcpiCStateIdleExecute
nt!PpmIdleExecuteTransition
nt!PoIdle
nt!KiIdleLoop

1: kd> ~2
2: kd> kc
Call Site
intelppm!MWaitIdle
intelppm!AcpiCStateIdleExecute
nt!PpmIdleExecuteTransition
nt!PoIdle
nt!KiIdleLoop

2: kd> ~3
3: kd> kc
Call Site
intelppm!MWaitIdle
intelppm!AcpiCStateIdleExecute
nt!PpmIdleExecuteTransition
nt!PoIdle
nt!KiIdleLoop

This is obviously far from conclusive -- all this really shows is a bunch of processor cores idling -- but this bug is shaping up to be Intel specific no known workaround at the moment. Hope we hear more soon.

Windows 8 Secrets: New Desktop Theme

With tech enthusiast web sites from around the world continuing to leak Windows 8 information in the wake of the Release Preview, your intrepid “Windows 8 Secrets” co-authors offer a bit of color commentary about what you’re seeing and how these features will really work. In this new co-post, we look briefly at leaked images of the upcoming new desktop theme in Windows 8. Pre-order Windows 8 Secrets today on Amazon.com and save!

This week, Winunleaked posted a number of tiringly similar screenshots that depict the coming Windows 8 desktop theme that will replace Aero. As Microsoft previously promised last month in a mammoth Building Windows 8 blog post, the company decided to remove the Aero “glass and reflections” and “take some ideas from [their] new [Metro] design language and apply them where [they] could.” So the new theme features squared off window edges, new default white window chrome, and a less translucent taskbar.

In fact, it looks just like this:

In the following shots, you can compare the Release Preview Windows Color and Appearance control panel (top) with the renamed Color and Appearance post-RP (bottom):

Windows 8 Release Preview

Windows 8, post-Release Preview

Unlike with the Release Preview, you will be able to independently color the Explorer window chrome and the taskbar. But if you choose to do so, only the taskbar will be colored, and Explorer windows will remain a flat white, as above. Here’s a shot depicting an Explorer window with coloring.

As part of the Metro-ish changes to the desktop, the window buttons are getting a flat, Metro-like refresh as well. Here’s a close-up:

Have you seen any other Windows 8 leaks you’d like to know more about? Drop us a line and let us know!

– Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott