Windows 8 Update: Microsoft teams with Best Buy to boost Windows 8 sales

Also Surface software updates, HP pushing Windows 8, and a 7-inch Windows 8 tablet

Microsoft is placing Microsoft Stores within about half the U.S. Best Buy locations and creating a parallel online store on the Best Buy site in an effort to drum up more consumer business, it seems, for Windows 8.

These stores-within-a-store will range in size from 1,500 to 2,200 square feet and feature Windows-based PCs, ultrabooks, convertibles, detachables and all-in-ones. Microsoft Surface will have an area of its own within these Microsoft stores.

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Windows 8

They will also stock Windows 8 applications, as well as Microsoft Office, Skype, Xbox music and games, the company says.

The Microsoft areas will be located in 500 U.S. Best Buy stores as well as more than 100 Best Buy and Future Shop stores in Canada, Microsoft says in a press statement.

Currently Best Buy sells a variety of Windows 8 devices including Surface tablets but they are jumbled in with other machines including those based on Linux, iOS and Mac OS.

Microsoft already has sales specialists working in Best Buy locations, but will train more than 1,200 Best Buy sales people to quickly scale up the force it needs to staff the stores.

By carving out its own clearly defined space within the stores Microsoft might be able to distinguish its Windows 8 gear more clearly among other alternatives. Well trained sales staff could also help customers clarify what Windows 8 offerings from competitors.

Surface updates

Update includes these firmware and performance improvements:

  • Surface RT: Surface Home Button driver update that improves the reliability of the devices waking up immediately on the first button press. Firmware update for Surface Type Cover and Surface Touch Cover that improves functionality for both accessories. Includes the ability to toggle function keys, new shortcuts, and helpful keyboard navigation improvements.
  • Surface Pro: LifeCam driver that enhances clarity for low light operation and improves reliability when switching between the integrated camera and an external camera.
  • Upgrade to Windows 8.1, reinstall apps
  • HP to push Windows 8

As businesses move from Windows XP to something newer, HP wants to be their guide, according to the company’s sales and services senior vice president Enrique Lores.

That means many will be upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8, and HP hopes it can turn that into sales of more hardware that businesses might buy to support new operating systems.

Does that mean the demise of XP is a bigger factor than the advent of Windows 8 for promoting PC sales?  'Yes, significantly more, especially on the commercial side,' he told Computer World.

A reference design for a 7-inch Windows 8 tablet

Inventec has come out with a reference design for a Windows 8 tablet with a 7-inch screen that runs on an Intel Atom Bay-Trail M system on a chip, an x86 processor.

That means the device can run a full version of Windows 8, not the ARM-based version called Windows RT that can’t run non-Windows 8 applications.

As a reference design it isn’t a commercial product, just a product that is engineered and that OEMs could pick up to create their own versions for consumer sales. Price estimates for the device are around $350.

IE 10 pinches power

When run on Windows 8 Internet Explorer 10 uses less power than competing browsers, at least according to Microsoft.

Windows8

Checking IE 10 against Chrome and Firefox, the company found that its own browser used less power when accessing popular Web sites. It was the clear winner for all but one of the site tested – Craigslist – which looked like a three-way tie.

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

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