In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on the graphics platform in Windows 8, a profile of the thin and slick Samsung Series 9 laptop and a great Getting Started Guide for the new Office Preview.

Hardware accelerating everything: Windows 8 graphics. When we started to plan the work we’d undertake for graphics in Windows 8, we knew that we would be creating a new, visually rich way for users to interact with apps and with Windows itself. We also knew that we’d be building a new platform for creating Metro style apps, and that we’d be targeting a more diverse set of hardware than ever before. While we had a great graphics platform to start with, there was more work to do in order to support those efforts. Head on over to Building Windows 8 for the whole story.

Samsung Notebook Series 9: Taking thin and light to the extreme. Selecting a mobile PC is a process of balancing trade-offs. Screen size, computational horsepower, battery life, weight, size, and price are all factors that vary from one type of laptop to another. In the past, you had to choose between capabilities like battery life, size, and performance. These tradeoffs are becoming less pronounced with the new crop of thin and light laptops. Head on over to the Extreme Windows Blog to see a review of the Samsung Series 9, one of the thinnest, lightest laptops in the market today. That’s a screenshot of the Samsung Series 9 below:

Windows 8 app developers: Creating beautiful views for local files. Part of Metro style design is building clean views that allow content to shine and help users accomplish their tasks. We explore in particular how you can create beautiful galleries with content from user’s files and folders on the local file system. Being able to display local content is a key requirement for many gallery apps that let users browse and consume their content – photos, videos, music, or documents. Windows 8 provides tools to do this in a simple, efficient, and customizable way. Check out this Monday post on the Windows 8 App Developer Blog for the rest of the story. Also, app developers, don’t miss this July 17 post on roaming your app data.

Office Preview – Getting Started Guide. If you haven’t had a chance to get it yet, you can find the preview release of Office on http://office.com/preview. When you reach the site you are presented with many choices. How do you know what is right for you? We’ve pulled together this quick start guide to help you understand the navigation of the site and the opportunities and choices available to you. Also, don’t miss these posts highlighting the new Visio, Project and Office Web Apps.

Aviary lands Photo Genius on Windows Phone. Those cool cats at Aviary have had their photo editing SDK out for Windows Phone for a while now – apps like Rowi make beautiful use of it. Now, Aviary has their own own – Photo Genius. Next at Microsoft Editor Steve Clayton has a full report. Check it out now in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

The Windows 8 value for Microsoft SMB partners and customers. We’ve said all along that businesses will love Windows 8 Pro because it provides a perfect blend of ease of use, performance and cool new features, with powerful new business capabilities with features like BitLocker and multi-language support. What’s more, Windows 8 delivers all the things that are great about Windows 7 but makes them even better with things like: faster boot time, improved task manager, longer battery life, improved file explorer and better security. Read this July 18 post on the Windows for Your Business Blog for the rest of the story.

Experiencing modern Office with SkyDrive: Cloud-first. No compromises. Last November, we shared our thoughts on the state of personal cloud storage and our vision for connecting file, app and device clouds to address key customer problems. For example, students start and finish projects in Microsoft Office, but that 75 percent of them use other tools in between, such as email, Google Docs, and Dropbox. Using these different tools can lead to formatting loss, extra steps and versions, or just confusion, since each tool has its own limitations. Announced earlier this week, the new Office puts an end to that. Check out this July 20 post on Inside SkyDrive, Hotmail and Messenger to find out how.

Developers! New Blob Constructor in IE10. IE10 in Windows 8 Release Preview adds support for a Blob constructor. We earlier wrote about and demonstrated IE10’s support for a BlobBuilder interface, an in-progress interface in the File API: Writer W3C Working Draft. This interface enables developers to work with files on the client PC. Recently, the W3C working group deprecated the BlobBuilder interface in favor of a new Blob constructor. This post explains the differences between the two. Head on over to the IEBlog for the full story. Also, developers, don’t miss this July 19 post focused on XMLHttpRequest responseXML in IE10 Release Preview.

Windows Azure Marketplace Update. We are excited to announce the latest update to Windows Azure Marketplace, which brings some exciting new features, and commercial availability to 12 new countries. Now ISVs in 38 countries can benefit from the Windows Azure Marketplace. Read this July 20 post on the Windows Azure Team Blog for more information. Also, don’t miss the latest edition of the Windows Azure Community News Roundup.

That’s a wrap for this edition of The Midweek Download! Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog