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Microsoft gears up for Windows 8

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Windows 7 might still not be officially complete. And Microsoft is laying people off. But the company's already gearing up to launch its next operating system: Windows 8.

Early job postings indicate at least one focus for Windows 8 will be systems and data management.

The company has advertised for developers and testers to deliver "major improvements" in Windows' File Server.

Indications are Microsoft's looking to make management of files easier across wide area networks and the internet and to make WinFS capable of scaling to more machines than you get with Windows Server 2008 R2 and even with the as-yet unfinished Windows 7.

This would build on file sharing in applications such as Windows Live Messenger and the company's online meeting system Windows Meeting Spaces.

"We will also soon be starting major improvements for Windows 8 where we will be including innovative features which will revolutionize file access in branch offices," Microsoft said in an advert on its site for a lead test software development engineer.

In the ad for a software development engineer in testing, Microsoft hinted its current testing infrastructure does not meet the kinds of scalability it's got in mind for Windows 8. The new recruit will be tasked with building the new test suite with an eye on scalability and performance.

You can see the ads here and here. There's more on directions for Windows here.

Separately, Microsoft's caught up to the internet age and enabling users to access MSN instant messenger without requiring users to have the messenger installer on their PC and without having to separately log into Windows Live Messenger. Users will get MSN as part of Hotmail, similar to Yahoo! Messenger in Yahoo! Mail and Gtalk in Gmail.

Microsoft was one of the first to offer free web mail with Hotmail, which it acquired, but the service has developed in fits and starts over the years. It has lagged on not de-activating unused accounts, search and giving a decent amount of storage.

The new web-based IM is being rolled out in phases. ®

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