Windows 8 update: all the latest rumours, opinions and possibilities

What a week it's been in the W8 world

While it lacks the mobility usually associated with this class of device, there's an 80-inch tablet serving the head of Microsoft as a wallboard and as a substitute for other work-related gear.

"Steve Ballmer has an 80-inch Windows 8 tablet in his office. He's got rid of his phone, he's got rid of his note paper. It's touch-enabled and it's hung on his wall," the company's vice president Frank Shaw told "It's his whiteboard, his email machine ... and it's a device we're going to sell."

MORE: Windows RT management could be a key to success for Windows 8 tablets

While there's not a huge consumer market yet for such enormous tablets, that could change over time as customers become familiar with these devices and their demands change, Shaw says. "It's not a consumer thing now, but we know historically that that's how all things start," Shaw told "The idea that there should be a screen that's not a computer, we'll laugh at that in two years."

A Sharp 80-inch touchscreen running Windows was demonstrated at CES earlier this year, but Ballmer's jumbo tablet is something different, made by a different manufacturer, Shaw says.

This screen size goes well beyond the 27-inch "family hub" device described in a Building Windows 8 blog earlier this year that details how to scale the operating system to different screen sizes, but that was not a comprehensive list. "Windows will support just about any screen dimension so long as the graphics driver and hardware combination provide the correct information to Windows," the blog says.

Office for iOS?

The rumor has popped up again, this time from mobile news site, that Microsoft plans to release a complete Office suite for iPads and Android tablets. This rumor comes from "a reliable source," the site says.

Contributing doubt to this rumor is that doing so would shoot Microsoft's Windows RT efforts in the foot, something the company is certainly capable of and that in the big picture may be a good tradeoff.

Windows RT, as the ARM-based Windows 8 offering is known, is the closest thing Microsoft will have to an iPad, and like Apple does for the iPad, Microsoft is limiting what software customers can add to it. One of the features Windows RT comes with is a bundle of four out of seven Office applications. (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote included; Outlook, Publisher, Access left out.)

So that would be a worse package than the "complete Office suite" described in the rumor. Why would Microsoft introduce a tablet whose major differentiator is that comes with some Office and then make a better package of Office apps available for iPads? Doesn't make sense.

Of course Microsoft wants to do a lot more than sell Windows RT. It may make more sense and more money to, say, make the very popular iPad more friendly to work environments with some Microsoft software that reaps licensing fees. The company could reap additional license revenues for software to manage the devices.

Microsoft: Ballmer misquoted on Windows 8 uptake estimate

Steve Ballmer predicts that 500 million devices will run Windows 8 by the end of next year, wire service Agence France-Press reported, but Microsoft says that's not what he really said.

The startling estimate would represent an amazing adoption rate for a new operating system, particularly one so different from its predecessor. So startling, in fact, that it turns out not to be true, or at least that's what Microsoft says in response to the unsurprising flood of skeptical commentary about the number.

So what did he say? According to Microsoft, Ballmer was regurgitating numbers the company floated last year when it said that if all the current Windows devices were upgraded to Windows 8 that number could be reached. Big difference and a big if.

Michael Dell on Windows 8

Businesses won't rush their Windows 8 upgrades, Dell founder Michael Dell predicts, according to a transcript of the company's earnings call.

"We don't see -- corporations are still adopting Windows 7, so we don't think there'll be a massive adoption of Windows 8 by corporations early on," Dell says.

That doesn't mean Dell isn't interested in the new operating system and its potential for consumer devices. "[C]learly, there's Windows 8 dynamic, but that's much more of a consumer business impact relatively late in the year but won't necessarily impact our overall commercial business," Dell says.

In fact, he says, Windows 8 has compelling new capabilities that Dell plans to support with its hardware. "But certainly, the addition of capacitive touch capability into Windows 8, we think, will be a welcome addition and will have a full complement of products at time of launch," he says.

Flash for Metro version of Internet Explorer 10

Windows 8 supports two versions of Internet Explorer 10: "the new Internet Explorer in the Windows Metro style UI experience that is optimized for touch devices, and the familiar browsing experience of Internet Explorer for the desktop," says Microsoft.

And, the company says in a March 13 article, "only supports plug-ins in Internet Explorer for the desktop." Many thought that meant IE10 for Metro wouldn't support Adobe Flash, but would instead rely on HTML5 to support rich Web features.

Now rumor has it that Flash will be integrated into IE10 by Microsoft itself, and employing a version that suits Microsoft after it combed through the actual source code and tweaked it to its liking, according to Within Windows.

"Microsoft does work closely with Adobe, closely enough that Adobe actually provided Microsoft with source code access to Flash, allowing them to seamlessly integrate the technology into IE10," the site says. "Thus, Microsoft did not need to make an exception to its no-add-on policy for Internet Explorer Metro."

If true, that means users of IE 10 Metro will have a better experience at more sites.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter @Tim_Greene.

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