Microsoft 'Metro Style Apps are nearing RTM'; URL by Match Type Updates in adCenter; Tests Curved Onscreen Keyboard; Could Name New Xbox as 'Xbox 8'; Names Defendants in Zeus Botnets Case

Microsoft is readying the final flavors of Metro style apps launch, as the company approach the release of Windows 8 release to manufacturing (RTM), "the catalog of Metro style apps continues to grow."In a blog entry, Dennis Flanagan, lead ecosystem outreach team said that like the Windows releases, these apps are currenlty in preview versions, […]

Windows 8 RTM

Microsoft is readying the final flavors of Metro style apps launch, as the company approach the release of Windows 8 release to manufacturing (RTM), "the catalog of Metro style apps continues to grow."

In a blog entry, Dennis Flanagan, lead ecosystem outreach team said that like the Windows releases, these apps are currenlty in preview versions, and the final versions of all Metro style apps will be available when Windows 8 becomes generally available.

Dennis explains how it impacts the development and availability of Metro style apps. "Our next major milestone is the release to manufacturing (RTM). When the code reaches this milestone, the platform is complete for general availability (GA), and so we won't have interim updates for developers," notes Dennis.

"Our next major milestone is the release to manufacturing (RTM). When the code reaches this milestone, the platform is complete for general availability (GA), and so there won't be any interim updates for developers," he said.

"When Developers get the RTM version, they will continue enhancing the features, capabilities and performance of their apps." Adding, "Some of the apps you've already seen will look and perform differently when you download the final released version. There are also many more apps in development that haven't been released to the Store yet. Many of those developers are waiting for RTM to put the finishing touches on their apps," Dennins said.

Concluding the post, he said, the release of Windows 8 will be a great milestone for app developers, but it is really just the beginning.

"A great benefit of the built-in Windows Store and update mechanism is that they provide developers with the opportunity to gain wide distribution for new apps and continuously improve apps that they've already released."

In a last weeks' post, "Test the Web forward," the Internet Explorer team posted that the quality and correctness of different browsers' HTML5 engines continue to vary widely. "We continue to contribute to the test suites under development at W3C to further the goal of web platform interoperability and same markup," the team said.

In total, "we have submitted 7573 tests that you can view at the IE Test Center as well. As different browsers improve their same-markup support, we can all realize the promise of HTML5," the team adds.

Also, a image of a pre-RTM build of Windows RT has appeared on the web revealing new Office 2013 Word and PowerPoint icons -- in additon to previsouly leaked OneNote and Excel 2013 icons.

The screenshot also appears to be running the new "metro desktop" interface, instead of Aero.

The pre-RTM build of Windows RT build was compiled on the 11th June 2012.

Windows RT Running Office 2013

Microsoft OneNote 2013 IconMicrosoft Excel 2013 Icon

Microsoft Office 2013 Pinned icon

In other Microsoft news,

Microsoft is reported to be working on a "curved software keyboard" that might be made available in Windows Phone 8.

The new curved keyboard interface is being designed for one-handed thumb typing, allowing users to use a predictive text technology to thumb over letters. Microsoft had last year revealed that they were working on a "one handed input and next gen soft keyboard."

The image they have posted is a courtesy of a leaked Microsoft Research presentation (via WMPoweruser).

HTC Windows Phone Showing off one-handed curved software keyboard

Microsoft Advertising announced as of July 1, they are accelerating the migration of all U.S. based customers to "URL by Match Type," a new adCenter functionality that provides the ability to assign unique destination URLs at the keyword level for each bidded match type.

In addition, URL by Match Type will be available to any new U.S. adCenter customers as early as July 2. "Release of this feature in the UK, France, Canada, India and Singapore, will be next to follow," Microsoft said.

And, that as of June 1, URL by Match Type had already became available to all adCenter API users with a customer level market setting of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Last week, Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and evp of Legal & Corporate Affairs, joined Jeffrey Wadsworth, CEO of Battelle Memorial Institute, and others at the U.S News STEM Solutions 2012 summit, talked about the need for a more transformative approach to the advancement of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, his involvement in rethinking the role business plays in education, and the types of partnerships needed to improve STEM learning outcomes for students.

He also spoke about the importance of combining philanthropy with advocacy work, as well as the importance of the business community using its voice to advocate needed policy changes in state capitals and in Washington D.C.

Additionally, the official launch of STEMx was announced. STEMx is a multi-state network dedicated to improving education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

Last week, in an amended complaint, Microsoft named Yevhen Kulibaba and Yuriy Konovalenko as defendants in Zeus Botnets Case.

"Microsoft has learned that these particular defendants were already serving jail time in the United Kingdom for other Zeus malware related charges. Microsoft has advised the U.K. government of the criminal referral to the FBI. Our hope is that the evidence we provided to the FBI in this case will lead to a criminal investigation that brings the perpetrators to justice," Microsoft wrote.

Worldwide Zeus Infections (by observed known IP address infections):

Observed - Mar 25-31, 2012 - 779,816
Observed - June 17-23, 2012 - 336,393

Microsoft names defendants in Zeus Botnet Case, Provide evidence to FBI

Finally, Microsoft bought a number of new domains for the Xbox, include: XboxTablet.com, XboxLiveTV.com, XboxCompanion.com, XboxPhone.com, Xbox8.us and Xbox8.org.

Note, the two of these domains has the reference to Xbox 8, "Xbox8.us and Xbox8.org."

Does this indicated, Mirosoft could be naming the next gen Xbox to Xbox 8? If it does, the it would fall in line with other Microsoft products being already named containing number "8" such as Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8.