With Windows 8 and the new People app, Microsoft taking cloud storage a step further by optionally connecting it to other services, this brings together email contacts and contacts from service / social accounts in one easy to access and use place that roams across your Windows 8 PCs and phone.
Managing "contacts" has been a bit of a challenge, especially as the number of places that contacts can be stored and the number of PCs and devices we use to access those contacts has increased. Storing contacts in the cloud for easy roaming and connectivity is a part of the solution. To this end, "The People app in Windows 8 is a modern take on the flat contact lists of the past-it's built for the way you communicate today, and it's connected to the cloud services you already use. The People app connects to your email and social accounts, bringing together all your contacts (and what they're up to) in one convenient place," Microsoft adds.
In a blog post, Jeff Kunins, group program manager on the Windows Live team, details the "People app," which is connected to cloud services that one already uses and also offers the communication features and capabilities that users want, was designed to be more than a simple contacts list.
"The People app connects to your email and social accounts, bringing together all your contacts (and what they're up to) in one convenient place. Windows 8 Consumer Preview users have already used the People app millions of times and received millions of social notifications on its live tiles," posted Kunins.
"With the People app, a user can have simple unified contact card for each person they have stored in the app as well as keep these contact cards in the cloud, so the information can be accessed later. Privacy is important, that's why the user can "decide what you share with whom across your home, work, and social networks." Best of all, the People app is based on the Metro design language and is not only fast, but also fluid. This app also works well with the Share charm."
The latest version of the People app brought along a series of enhancements including Semantic Zoom and Facebook at Twitter sharing capabilities (available from any Windows 8 application that users the Share contract).
Kunins posted that modern devices like Windows 8 and Windows Phone require an address book that's crafted around four simple principles:
- "Complete & Connected - All your personal and work contacts are there, alive with their social activities and photos, letting you instantly engage and react to them.Data syncs from your email and social accounts rather than getting this info from a one-time import, and you get a simple unified contact card for each person, regardless of how many versions of their contact info you have from different accounts.
- Designed for Windows 8 - On modern devices the address book is a core part of the overall experience, therefore it is important to design it with the whole system in mind. The People app follows Metro style design principles so it is fast and fluid, and it works together with all your other apps through the Share and Picker contracts.
- Cloud-powered - your contacts and settings are effortlessly backed up, so "they just work" when you sign in from a new device, or even from the web. And when you pin a contact to your Start screen, the live tile lights up with real-time notifications about new photos, comments, and tweets.
- In control - you decide what you share with whom across your home, work, and social networks," explains Kunins.
Here's a short video illustrating these principles in the People app:
Also, the DirectX-enabled virtual graphics processing unit (VGPU) gets better in Windows 8 Release Preview. When you take Windows 8 Release Preview home and launch it, you'll see a rich and immersive experience accelerated by a DX11 desktop.
"By using a VGPU, we are exposing the true acceleration of the physical GPU within virtual machines. Applications that leverage DirectX can operate with higher frame rates, behave as they would on a PC, and take advantage of the GPU. The VGPU desktop not only accelerates DirectX-based applications, but the desktop itself is on DirectX11, so it too will have all the responsiveness and smooth animations that you'd expect. We see this continued investment as bringing the richness of hardware acceleration to thin clients, as well as continuing the pathway for enabling GPU-backed experiences," Microsoft explains.
Also, some new screenshots showing off improved Metro style of the user interface, with new button styles and colors of a Pre-Release to Manufacturing (RTM) build of Windows 8 leaked today.
The screenshots shows a flatter, cleaner and more colorful interface for the desktop that is consistent across the OS.
In this build, you are able to enable an option that lets you keep the taskbar color separate from the window color. Whilst some buttons have been updated, many still feature the Vista-era glossy icons. Also, users can pick a different color for the taskbar and a different color for the Windows, but the default options are all pastel colors, just like the set found in the start screen.