Microsoft revealed the inner workings of its Windows 8 live tiles on Wednesday.
The software giant’s notification platform for Windows 8 is one of the key aspects to the new Start Screen. Live, data enabled tiles will suck information from web servers and applications and push out notifications and changes to the Windows 8 Start Screen dynamically. “One thing we have noticed as we are using Windows 8 internally is that the ability to use the Start screen as a unified and highly readable heads up display for line-of-business applications has become a productivity enhancer,” said Microsoft’s Ryan Haveson in a blog post detailing Microsoft’s Windows 8 live tile work on Wednesday. “With the scalability of our new push notifications platform, Windows 8 can deliver this capability with minimal system impact, which is a big improvement over the multitude of mechanisms that exist in Windows today.”
Windows 8′s notifications and live tiles form the replacement of the typical gadgets built into Windows Vista and Windows 7. Microsoft has been working hard to ensure that it can allow hundreds of live tiles and not impact of system performance. The tiles reach beyond badges and text and provide real time information and images. Microsoft has built its Windows Push Notification Service (WNS) on top of the Windows Live Messenger service architecture. “The service part of the notifications platform was built by the same team,” admitted Haveson. “There are not many teams in the world with the expertise and knowledge to be able to build a globally scalable service that can ramp up to such large numbers so quickly,” he added. The Windows Live Messenger service handles 300 million monthly active users, 630 million daily logins and 10 billion daily notifications.
Microsoft has also added metrics to the new Task Manager so end users can track the amount of network bandwidth used by each application. “In general, resource usage for tiles should be relatively low,” says Haveson. Microsoft monitored its service after the Windows 8 developer preview went live at //build in September. In the video, embedded below, you can see just how fast the notifications started spreading across the world as thousands of people started to install Windows 8.
“In Windows 8, we set out to design a notifications platform that would provide at-a-glance information, without all the performance and battery life concerns that face traditional plugin and gadget-based models,” explains Haveson. “Every design decision we made was viewed through the lens of performance and battery life efficiency.” Microsoft says that users won’t have to worry about the impact of performance of installing as many apps as they like. Microsoft will ship a Windows Store application as part of its Windows 8 beta, expected in January. The Store will provide the first true look at a number of new Windows 8 Metro style apps and their notifications and live tiles.
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