Windows 8 nears the finish line: What's good, what's bad

Microsoft lifts the Windows 8 kimono one last time before the finish line. Here are the improvements and inconsistencies

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After Microsoft made its announcement that IE 10 would implement Do Not Track by default, the latest proposed draft of the Do Not Track specification requires that users choose to turn on the feature, meaning that, according to this proposed draft, IE10 won't be compliant and thus its Do Not Track headers can be ignored. Surely we haven't heard the end of this.

Check my demo page to test your browser's settings.

New Metros apps: Great features, but buggy

If you tried to get anything done with the CP version of the Metro apps, you have my sympathy. They just didn't do anything. Trying to use Metro Mail with more than one email account, for example, brought up bumper car panels that stepped all over each other.

The updated Metro Bing Finance app, once again, shows a beautiful, meaningless splash screen with Metro-style story tiles and a buried, boxy stock watch list. It also has bugs: The Russell 2000 month and year graphs are wrong, and they've been wrong since the day RP was released. Since the Metro Finance app is just a shell -- all the lifting is done by Bing on Microsoft's servers -- fixing the bug should be simple. It'll be interesting to see how long the fix takes.

The app has some interesting new depth: Slide down or right-click on an individual stock, index, exchange, or fund list, and you can pin it to the Metro Start screen. Pull down the navigation bar from the top of the screen (or right-click inside the app) and you can convert currencies and track 10 of the world's largest stock market indices.

No doubt some serious brokerage firms will come up with a better Metro-style financial app soon. It's hard to take Bing seriously when Microsoft won't cough up the bucks to display real-time stock quotes.

The new Metro Bing News app follows the same big-shot-for-the-tile layout with news categories that mirror the major categories on Bing's news site. Each group consists of three tiles, for three different stories. Just like the Metro Finance app, you can tap on a topic that interests you and see links for dozens of stories.

If you slide from the top of the screen (or right-click on the app), the News app reveals four separate feeds: Bing Daily, the main "newspaper" you see when you start the app; My News, in which you can specify a term and Bing dutifully assembles stories about the term; Trends, which follows trending topics; and Sources, for following your favorite newspaper, TV network, blog, or other content generator. Many of the linked sites are decidedly touch-unfriendly, and some require paid subscriptions for full access. Some of the sites have Flash videos that won't play inside the News app, but will play inside Metro IE.

The new Metro Bing Sports app has drawn praise from many quarters. Not only can you keep up with news from various sports leagues, but you have instant access to a bewildering array of scores, schedules, statistics, photos, and detailed news about most major teams.

The new Metro Bing Travel app uses the same basic layout, with a greater emphasis on pictures. The main page houses a spectacular array of photos. Pull down the navigation bar and you can choose from mini-reviews of specific destinations, or you can use Bing to book a flight or hotel. Most of the articles are from Frommer's, Fodor's, or Bing's travel writers, and many seem to be dated.

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