Tech Industry

New Windows 8 build reveals virtual keyboard, SMS

The latest Windows 8 build 7989 uncovers a variety of new features, including a new virtual keyboard, support for SMS, and per-feature licensing that prompt users to buy new features as they needed them.

Windows 8's Start menu.
Windows 8's Start menu. Screenshot by CNET of Microsoft video

The latest build for Windows 8, known as Build 7989, has leaked onto the Web, reportedly revealing a batch of potential new features.

Windows has long offered a virtual keyboard. But with Windows 8 destined for tablets and other mobile devices, Microsoft has reportedly revamped the keyboard with a new look and feel. Unlike the current keyboard, which requires mouse clicks to operate, the new keyboard will offer touch friendly buttons along with a split keyboard option, according to WinRumors, which has posted a video demo of the new virtual keyboard.

The Win 8 keyboard will reportedly provide built-in support for emoticons and feedback sounds similar to those heard in Windows Phone, WinRumors added.

Also new to Windows 8, at least as found in the latest build, is some type of per-feature licensing, uncovered by a "Windows enthusiast" on Twitter who examined the code for the latest build, according to tech site Redmond Pie. Though the code didn't reveal the use for this feature, Redmond Pie speculates that this could let Microsoft offer all users a "barebones" version of Windows and then prompt them to purchase new features as needed.

Another new feature discovered by Redmond Pie in the 7989 build was support for Short Message Service (SMS). Used for mobile communications, SMS would give Windows 8-based tablets and other devices the ability to directly send text messages. Along with SMS, geo-location is yet one more feature in the latest Windows 8 build reported by Redmond Pie, which says this could be used to automatically detect a user's time zone.

Beyond the many updates and new features that users will see in Windows 8, developers are also facing a slew of changes in writing for the new operating system.

Some developers have reportedly been upset due to Microsoft's lack of clarity over which programming platforms would be supported by Windows 8. Programmers accustomed to using Visual Basic, .Net, and Silverlight have been confused over certain Microsoft comments that HTML5 and JavaScript would be the tools used to develop Windows 8 applications.

A Q&A published today between three Microsoft developers and Mary Jo Foley from CNET sister site ZDNet attempts to clarify some of the confusion over the new Windows 8 programming environment.

Microsoft demoed Windows 8 earlier this month at the D9 conference in California. Windows President Steven Sinofsky touted the upcoming OS as one that would be geared for desktops, laptops, and tablets.