A look back at 2012: Microsoft's next-generation Windows 8 operating system

Windows 8

The year 2012 brought us numerous Microsoft stories, especially on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and the Surface RT. While other products and services were announced or updated during the year, we will focus on the biggest game-changer for Microsoft: Windows 8! Let's take a look at what 2012 brought us in terms of Windows 8:

Windows 8 - The new operating system from Microsoft

Windows 8, which was made available to everyone on October 26th of 2012, was the hot topic of discussion at the start of the year. We were still learning about the operating system as details were emerging left and right. Back in January of 2012, Microsoft demonstrated a pre-beta build of Windows 8 to attendees and showed off features such as "Microsoft Music" and how the Start Screen can change background colors. Take a look below for the CES 2012 Windows 8 keynote, which took place in January:

On January 20th, Microsoft wrote a blog post detailing everything you needed to know about the forthcoming Windows Store. Microsoft detailed the full Windows Store customer experience including browsing for apps, searching though a catalog of apps, and updating apps in Windows 8.

In February of 2012, we learned via a leaked screenshot that the Start Button was removed from Windows 8, on the heels of the forthcoming Consumer Preview build release. "The screenshots and info go into more detail about the taskbar and how it has changed from the Windows Developer Preview. The biggest change is that the start button is gone." February also brought us the news that Windows on ARM would have Office 15 (or Office 2013 as it is known now). "We created WOA to enable a new class of PC with unique capabilities and form factors, supported by a new set of partners that expand the ecosystem of which Windows is part," Microsoft had stated. On February 13th, we caught our first glimpse at the new Windows 8 logo, which was classified as a HUGE rumor at the time. "The Windows logo is a strong and widely recognized mark but when we stepped back and analyzed it, we realized an evolution of our logo would better reflect our Metro style design principles and we also felt there was an opportunity to reconnect with some of the powerful characteristics of previous incarnations," Microsoft explained regarding the new Windows 8 logo. The Consumer Preview of Windows 8 was finally made available towards the end of February and we put up a video post showcasing the installation and first-time login experience (see video below). The Consumer Preview build hit one million downloads in just one day of its release.

In March of 2012, we continued to learn more about Windows 8, including panoramic themes, keyboard shortcuts for the new operating system, as well as the ability to support a diversity of screen dimensions, densities, and resolutions. We also learned that Windows 8 would run on hardware available today, and have consistency along with it.

In April of 2012, a report from Gartner suggested that Windows would power 4% of tablet market by end of 2012. Microsoft made it official on April 16th announcing Windows 8 and its editions: Windows 8, Windows 8 PRO, Windows RT (Windows on ARM or WOA), and Windows 8 Enterprise. We also learned that the Consumer Preview build of Windows 8 was more popular than the beta release of Windows 7. On April 25th, Apple's CEO Tim Cook, who took over the job from Steve Jobs, made some negative comments about Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system. In regards to having a hybrid tablet/desktop operating system, Cook refers to it as combing "a toaster and a refrigerator."

A look back at 2012: Microsoft's next-generation Windows 8 operating system - OnMSFT.com - December 31, 2012

In the beginning of May, Microsoft's 'Windows Live' brand evolved into 'Microsoft Account', just in time for Windows 8. We also learned that Microsoft would make Media Center available via Windows 8 Media Center Pack or the Windows 8 Pro Pack, after rumors about Media Center being removed from Windows 8 and the negative feedback that came up from it. Microsoft hoped to deliver Windows 8 with a world-class video and audio entertainment experience with Media Center. On May 23rd, we reported that Microsoft saw Windows 8 as a rebirth and thought 500 million users would have it by 2013. At the end of May 2012, we got to see the leaked Release Preview build of Windows 8 (see video below).

In June of 2012, Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux, took a shot at Windows 8 and stated that hackers would eventually bypass Windows 8's secure boot feature. "I’m certainly not a huge UEFI fan, but at the same time I see why you might want to have signed bootup etc. And if it’s only $99 to get a key for Fedora, I don’t see what the huge deal is," the father of Linux, Linus Torvalds, argues. Still Torvalds doesn't think Microsoft’s decision of introducing UEFI secure boot in Windows 8 is going to make any significant change to the security. "The real problem, I feel, is that clever hackers will bypass the whole key issue either by getting a key of their own (how many of those private keys have stayed really private again? Oh, that’s right, pretty much none of them) or they’ll just take advantage of security bugs in signed software to bypass it without a key at all." On June 15th, a HUGE rumor surfaced (no pun intended) claiming that Microsoft had plans of revealing its very own tablet device to rival the Apple iPad. Later down the road, this rumor turned out to be true and was indeed the Microsoft Surface tablet. Microsoft ended up revealing the Surface RT on June 18th during a mysterious event held in Los Angeles (see video below).

In July of 2012, Bill Gates chimed in about Windows 8 and supported Microsoft's decision to make its own Windows 8 tablet. "I actually believe you can have the best of both worlds. You can have a rich eco-system of manufacturers and you can have a few signature devices that show off, wow, what's the difference between a tablet and a PC? You can get everything you like about a tablet, everything you like a PC, all in one device. That should change the way people look at things," Bill Gates stated while being a guest on Charlie Rose. On July 9th, we learned during Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference that Windows 8 would reach Release to Manufacturing (RTM) first week of August and general availability by the end of October. On July 23rd, Microsoft went over the new Windows 8 graphics platform and detailed several of the new graphics related features of the operating system. According to Microsoft, Windows 8 would be the 'best Windows graphics platform yet.'

On the first day of August, 2012, Microsoft revealed that Windows 8 had finally hit RTM. We also posted a video showcasing Windows 8 RTM Enterprise edition to our readers (see video below). On August 3rd, a report surfaced claiming that Microsoft was discontinuing the use of the term "Metro." We also found out what the retail packaging of Windows 8 would look like and how nearly 30,000 Microsoft employees were already running Windows 8 and IE10. On August 12th, we reported that Acer had now thought of Microsoft as a competitor rather than a partner thanks to the Surface tablet. On August 13th, we learned about Windows Blue and how it could be the next update to Windows 8.

On September 3rd, we learned that the Windows Store had 865 apps and was growing quickly. On September 13th, Microsoft detailed Office Home & Student 2013 RT for Windows RT, delivering stunning battery life. At the end of September, Intel was quoted saying Windows 8 was being released before it was 100% ready and that Microsoft would release updates after the fact to make things complete with the operating system.

A look back at 2012: Microsoft's next-generation Windows 8 operating system - OnMSFT.com - December 31, 2012

On October 1st, Microsoft revealed a new MSN.com design revolving around the design principles of Windows 8. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen mentioned how he found Windows 8 to be a bit puzzling at times. "Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed using Windows 8. However, there are a number of things introduced to Windows by the tablet aspect of the bimodal user experience that I found puzzling, especially for a traditional desktop user like myself," Allen stated. On October 14th, Microsoft launched its highly anticipated Xbox Music service for both the Xbox 360 entertainment console and Windows 8 operating system. This new all-in-one service fixes the problem of having tons of individual services to achieve the best music experience. And in a bizarre way to boost publicity for a new product, Microsoft's very own Windows President, Steven Sinofsky, apparently used his new Surface tablet as a skateboard. At the end of October, Microsoft officially announced Windows 8 (see video below) and revealed that the operating system had received over 1,240,000,000 hours of public testing. After a few days, Microsoft announced that 4 million Windows 8 upgrades had taken place.

In November of 2012, Microsoft tooted its own horn yet again. This time, Microsoft claimed that Internet Explorer 10 is the fastest web browser on Windows 8. On November 8th, Microsoft celebrated the launch of Windows 8 with delicious cupcakes! In November, Windows 8 and Windows RT saw its first security update during the November Patch Tuesday. Best Buy even invested 50,000 hours of training to teach employees about Windows 8. On November 12th, everyone was shocked to hear that Steven Sinofsky, the man who was behind the development and marketing of Windows (including the recently released Windows 8), Internet Explorer, Outlook.com, and SkyDrive had apparently left the company. In his place, Julie Larson-Green took over the Windows division while Tami Reller took charge of the business of Windows. On November 16th, we learned that Microsoft was reportedly disappointed with Windows 8 PC sales and blamed manufacturers for the crappy sales. At the end of November, we learned that 40 million Windows 8 licenses were sold in just one month since official launch.

A look back at 2012: Microsoft's next-generation Windows 8 operating system - OnMSFT.com - December 31, 2012

In December of 2012, we learned that Windows 8 had slowly climbed to 1.09% of worldwide desktop market share for the month of November 2012. More stories about how Windows 8 sales were not that great began to hit the web. The NY Times wrote a story about how Windows 8 sales were disappointing and of course we had to chime in about that. Fujitsu saw weak PC sales for the year 2012 thanks to slow demand for Windows 8, at least according to them. Acer, who earlier in the year said Microsoft was a competitor and a partner no more, thought criticisms concerning the success of Windows 8 have been unfair. Microsoft's Windows Store reached a new milestone with over 35,000 apps.

So as you can see, 2012 was a momentous year for Microsoft's next generation operating system Windows 8. Here's to a momentous new year for Windows 8!

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