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Steven Sinofsky

It's been a little over a month since Windows and Windows Live president Steven Sinofsky abruptly left Microsoft due to apparent clashes with management, but now we know his next move. According to his Twitter account, Sinofsky will be teaching at the Harvard Business School this spring, something he did prior to joining the Windows team. A follow-up tweet indicated that he'll be teaching courses related to product development. It's not clear yet if this is a single-semester deal or whether Sinofsky plans to stick around Harvard, but his extensive experience at Microsoft developing Windows 8 (among other products) should make for an interesting class next semester, to say the least.

Excited to return to @harvardhbs to teach again this...

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Windows Ad

In 1984, the New York Times ran an article slamming the concept of windows-based operating systems.

My colleague Nicholas Carlson just pointed it out as an example of why you shouldn't listen to gadget reviewers.

He's right about that as far as it goes: You shouldn't listen to gadget reviewers. It only leads to heartbreak.

But the New York Times article is actually amazingly prescient, if you think about the future of computing today.

What's magnificent about Apple's iPad and Microsoft's new Surface? They let you focus on a single task, by design.

The biggest critique of Windows 8's new user interface is that it doesn't really involve "windows" anymore. Instead, it shows you one screen at a time, letting you swipe between apps. There's a clunky way to have two apps side by side, but that's as far as this new Windows goes in showing you windows.

Supposedly "multitasking" is a wonderful thing for computers to be able to do. But study after study has shown that humans are terrible at multitasking. So that antique computer critic was correctly grouchy about this newfangled windows thing. Too bad it took us three decades to figure out he was right.

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Welcome to Ars Technica's Windows 8 deep dive. This page is where you'll find the various explorations of Windows 8 and related technologies that we conduct over the next several days. You can find those articles listed in reverse chronology below.

Windows 8 is a truly significant undertaking. So much so that when we sat down many months ago to plan our coverage of Windows 8, we quickly decided that rather than writing one monolithic review, we would do a series of investigations, knowing that interest in Windows 8 would be widely varied depending on where and how our readers interact with it. Some might be focused on the user interface, others on gaming performance, still others on what Windows 8 offers to the enterprise. And many of you will want it all. We are happy to say that we plan to provide the most depth and breadth of Windows 8 coverage you will find anywhere. And we have already kicked that off with our in-depth exploration of WinRT, as well as our extensive review of the Microsoft Surface tablet.

At the very end of this list you will find a brief Q&A on our approach.

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After months of anticipation, Windows 8 is here. It launches today and goes on sale globally tomorrow. For the last year and a half, we've tracked its progress across three betas and the final release, exploring the ins and outs of Microsoft's most ambitious product launch in two decades.

Over the next few days we'll be publishing a barrage of Windows 8 coverage. Today we'll have the main review, which concentrates on Windows 8's radical new user interface and asks if Microsoft has at last managed to realize its dream of a true tablet PC. We're covering the installation and upgrade experience in a separate feature. On tap is a screenshot tour that shows off Redmond's shiny new look and feel, and we'll also look at benchmarks to make sure the OS still runs as well as it should.

In the coming days, we'll be peeking under the hood in an investigation into the work Microsoft has done to make Windows 8 more secure, more efficient, and more flexible. We'll couple that with an extended look at Storage Spaces, the software giant's solution for managing all your disk space needs. We'll also be looking at the all-new Xbox-branded multimedia experience.

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Photo illustration by Aurich Lawson

Microsoft wants Windows developers to write Windows 8-specific, Metro-style, touch-friendly applications, and to make sure that they crank these apps out, the company has decided that Visual Studio 11 Express, the free-to-use version of its integrated development environment, can produce nothing else.

If you want to develop desktop applications—anything that runs at the command line or on the conventional Windows desktop that remains a fully supported, integral, essential part of Windows 8—you'll have two options: stick with the current Visual C++ 2010 Express and Visual C# 2010 Express products, or pay about $400-500 for Visual Studio 11 Professional. A second version, Visual Studio 11 Express for Web, will be able to produce HTML and JavaScript websites, and nothing more.

Visual Studio 11 is an improvement in many ways over Visual Studio 2010. Its C++ compiler, for example, is a great deal more standards-compliant, especially with the new C++ 11 specification. It has powerful new optimization features, such as the ability to automatically use CPU features like SSE2 to accelerate mathematically intensive programs, and new language features to allow programs to be executed on the GPU. The new version of the C# language makes it easier to write programs that do their work on background threads and avoid making user interfaces unresponsive. The .NET Framework, updated to version 4.5, includes new capabilities for desktop applications, such as a ribbon control for Microsoft's WPF GUI framework.

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