multi-tasking

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Toolbox for Windows 8: Windows App Review

Toolbox for Windows 8 is an interesting utility for your Surface Tablet or Windows 8 computer. It is a collection of nine different tools where six of these tools can be tiled to a single screen.  Toolbox for Windows 8 is a nice multi-tasking app with a decent selection of reference tools but it needs more productivity tools.

I can see Toolbox for Windows 8 coming in handy at times and the app has potential.  It just needs a little more meat on the bones to make it shine.

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Microsoft's Executive Communications Manager on Windows Phone, Derek Snyder, managed to show off and answer some questions about multi-tasking on the upcoming OS update. As a result, we can see it in action here, how selection and management works and basically how smooth the whole process is.

We'd say more, but honestly the vid shows enough. It does get pretty geeky in spots, but that's a good thing, we think.

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A few weeks ago, we saw the advent of a de-hydration hack on Windows Phone that seemingly brought fast-app switching to the OS (and despite claims, we didn't see a hit on battery life).

Now the same hacker, Jaxbot over at Windows Phone Hacker, is bringing it to the next level by adding on an app-switching program to the mix. In short, this brings near full multi-tasking to Windows Phone well before the 'Mango' update, expected this fall.

By utilizing the camera's half-shutter button, a user can bring up a nice UI that allows one to now choose between apps that are "running" instead of just using the back-arrow or "re-launching" the app from your Start screen. Of note, this is just a 'preview' meaning the design is still in development and things can change as it progresses. Either way, we're stoked:

...the application is triggered by pressing the half shutter button (pressing the camera button halfway, not to the point where the camera would launch), and allows the user to jump between desired applications. The applications run in the background to a degree, as shown with the timer, and no time is required to bring the applications back from their background state. It's all very technical, but rest assure that he will be sharing some more details in the future.

Keep in mind the application is a preview-the interface and how it functions may very well change before release, and no release date is available. But if you're interested in having it on your device, share some thoughts about how you think it should look, function, etc, in the comments below.

Very cool stuff. Stay tuned for more as this develops. Of note, you will need a developer unlocked device to have this work when it is finally released.

Source: Windows Phone Hacker

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While many didn't expect much from Microsoft's Keynote Address at the 2011 Mobile World Congress, Steve Ballmer and company did find a way to surprise us. While the first part of the presentation was a re-cap of the progress Windows Phone 7 has made, the Microsoft CEO also touched on how well the new phones are being recieved by consumers. Nine out of ten Windows Phone users would recommend the phones to other and many feel that Windows Phone 7 is the easiest and most delightful to use.

Building phones that people love and that are operator friendly is the top priority at Microsoft. Ballmer also mentioned that the first update for Windows Phone 7 is only a few weeks away, being release in March and will include the copy/paste feature and overall performance enhancements. No surprises there.

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In an interesting twist, it seems that at least for some types of programs written for Windows Phone 7, multitasking or rather, the simulation of multitasking is completely possible.

Over at clr-namespace.com, the author whipped up a stopwatch application which you can start, then "minimize" then return to the app and it appears to have be running the whole time.

Of course in reality, it's not. It's "tombstoning" the application, which is a process by which

...the operating system maintains state information about the application. If the user navigates back to the application, the operating system restarts the application process and passes the state data back to the application, where the user will be able to continue seamlessly from his last interaction point with the application

In this case, the stopwatch does pause, but when restarted it counts back up from the original start time, giving the illusion that it has been "counting" while paused. This all happens without the user even knowing, making it a bit of a kludge, but a good one for this application.

How can this be applied to other programs? We're not really sure but it goes to show with some ingenuity, programmers can get around some of these "limitations".

[clr-namespace via Silverlight Show.net]

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