Windows Mobile 10 Build 10136 Released to Fast Ring Insiders

If you’ve got a supported device and are testing, you’re in for a surprise…

Windows Mobile 10 Build 10136

Ring master Gabe Aul from Microsoft has released Windows Mobile 10 Build 10136 to Fast Ring Windows Insiders as of noon-thirty CDT on 2015-0-16. If you’re a Windows Insider and you’re registered for Fast Ring Builds, AND you’ve got a supported mobile device, you can expect a little bit of additional love from Microsoft today.  This build replaces Build 10080, released to Fast Ring Insiders on 2015-05-15; or about a month ago.

The first thing you need to know is that no new phones are supported in this Build. I have that directly from Gabe Aul:

unnamed

I’m finding this a bit problematic.

There aren’t a lot of Windows Phones on the market.  There really aren’t.  I have a BLU WinHD LTE, and it has Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 on it, but the device isn’t supported for testing Windows 10 Mobile yet.  This may be partially because the WPRT (Windows Phone Recovery Tool) doesn’t have a Windows phone 8.x recovery image for it (yet??); or it may be because Microsoft just isn’t opening the device testing pool open to any non-Lumia device besides the HTC One M8 (but again… How many different types of Windows Phones are available, REALLY?!?)

Secondly, if you want to install this build, you’re going to need to do so from Windows Phone 8.1.  You can’t do it from Windows Mobile Build 10080.  The upgrade won’t be offered to you.  To get the build, you’re going to have to use the WPRT (Windows Phone Recovery Tool) to restore your phone back to Windows Phone 8.1 and then go through any and all WP8.1 upgrades (recommended, but not required).  After that, you’ll need to download and install the Windows Insider app, register for the Fast Ring, reboot your phone and then check for updates.

Once the update installs, it’s been reported that the upgrade lock screen will appear frozen, without the date and time on it, for up to 10 minutes.  Stop!  Leave it alone. It’s actually processing stuff in the background.  The Windows Insider Team has instructed users experiencing this to be patient and let the device sit and finish. It will eventually show the date and time and allow you to unlock the device and use it. If you get impatient and restart the device or try locking/unlocking your phone, you’ll wind up in a “funky state.”  Leaving the device alone so it can finish the upgrade process is the recommended and proper action.

In a nutshell, here are the changes:

New

Tons of fit and finish changes: There are far too many subtle changes in the UX to cover; but spit and polish are starting to be applied.

Improvements to Cortana: Cortana is now very close to the final design. She’s gotten smarter and she’s had some previously disabled abilities turned back on.

Photos and Camera Improvements: General improvements are available to everyone. If you’ve got a Lumia device,Lumia Camera Beta can also be your default camera app.

One-Handed Use:   The experience on larger devices – those with a screen of 5 inches or greater – is now much better.  Press and hold the Start button and your screen will slide down so you can reach items at the top of your screen.  The screen slides back up when you tap the Back button.

Resolved Bugs

  • We have fixed the MMS bug in Build 10080, and you should receive MMS messages normally.
  • We have fixed the issue where touch will stop responding on the Lock screen preventing you from swiping up to unlock your phone.
  • We have fixed some visual glitches in Action Center when expanding/collapsing.
  • We have fixed the issue where the text in the People app was too small.
  • When you toggle the Wi-Fi quick action in Action Center, it now disables/enables Wi-Fi instead of taking you to the Wi-Fi Settings page. This was one of the top 5 pieces of feedback we heard from Windows Insiders.
  • Your Start screen background should be scaled correctly now.
  • You can add a detailed status to display on your Lock screen from apps like Outlook Calendar without having the Settings app crash.
  • We also fixed the issue where a mouse cursor would appear when pressing the back button on your phone.

Known Issues

  • After upgrading, you will still see duplicate tiles for apps like Search and Phone under All Apps.
  • If you have too many PIN unlock attempts, you’ll see the “enter A1B2C3” reset experience. However, there is an issue in this build where after you enter the code you won’t see the PIN pad. The workaround is to press Emergency Call after entering the code, then press Back and you’ll be able to enter your PIN.
  • We recommend disabling the double-tap-to-wake feature on some Lumia devices by going to the Settings app then Extras > Touch > Wake to prevent any accidental PIN unlock attempts.
  • There is an issue that may cause Skype not to work after upgrade. The best workaround is to uninstall Skype on Windows Phone 8.1 *before* you upgrade to this build and then reinstall it after upgrading. If you miss that step though, you can usually resolve by uninstalling it and reinstalling from the Store once you’re on 10136.
  • If you’re having issues installing new Language Packs in this build, see this forum post.

You can check out the specifics on the Windows 10 Blog, here.

 

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Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Build 10041

Insiders everywhere (on the Fast Ring) are currently breaking the internet…

Like ALL Windows 10 Insiders, I’ve been waiting since mid to late January 2015 on a new build of Windows 10. Back then, Microsoft released Build 9926 after an eight plus week wait after the release of build 9879 (which was a HUGE train wreck, by the way…). Build 9926 got the train back on the rails, but it wasn’t in as good of shape as previous builds, at least in terms of stability, but is been usable.

Aside from issues that I’ve had with OneNote 2013 and OneNote Preview for Windows 10, this hasn’t been too horrible for me. However, the issues I’ve outlined in the article linked above, are huge as they deal with digital inking and Office Preview for Windows 10 and Office 2013. Let’s face it… I have a Surface Pro 3 specifically because of OneNote 2013.

Period.

So, to be clear, the problems I’ve been bumping into with digital inking are huge.

While I do NOT expect my specific issues with digital inking to be addressed in Build 10041, I am hoping that some general improvement may help me out. It’s a slim chance, but I can still hope, right?

So, while I and the rest of the Windows Insider program members were waiting, I got a bit impatient and posted some very impish tweets to Gabe Aul, the Head of Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program.

Waiting on Win10 01

To further illustrate my points, I tweeted:

Waiting on Win10 02

Thankfully, Gabe seems to have a REALLY great sense of humor. I know he’s been getting a lot of chatter directed at him, personally. I also know that he’s been doing a STELLAR job. To really send that point home, today, Gabe tweeted the following.

Das Button

I was drinking some tea at the time I saw that and nearly spewed the contents in my mouth out at my monitor I laughed so hard. Yeah. Gabe is a good guy…

As noted in Gabe’s blog post, here are some of the release notes from the build:

Top issues fixed in this build (partial)

  • In 9926 there were several issues which prevented Start from launching, these should all be fixed.
  • Search box now works if you have taskbar on the top/side of your screen.
  • After installing the last build (9926), you saw a boot selection menu when you rebooted your PC. We’ve fixed this and you should no longer see the boot selection menu – unless you’re intentionally dual-booting.
  • We received feedback that people were seeing persistent grey thumbnails in the Collection view in the Photos app on Build 9926. We think we’ve worked through all these issues, so definitely let us know if you find a case where one still crops up.

Known issues for this build (partial)

  • Some people might hit an issue where the username and password boxes do not appear or don’t accept input when logging in, which will prevent them from logging in. Possible workarounds include clicking the “Switch User” button, using Ctrl+Alt+Del, or pressing the power button on your PC to sleep/resume and try again.
  • It is possible to manually lock your PC during the initial out-of-box experience. If you do this, you will have to hard reboot your PC and restart the OOBE experience. (So don’t lock your PC during OOBE :-))
  • There are several accessibility issues in this build, which may make it difficult to use with Narrator or 3rd party screen readers. Additionally there is an issue where using a Lens after enabling Magnifier may cause the screen to be unusable.
  • Some apps in the Store Beta will fail to install or update due to a licensing issue.
  • In this build, the Mail, Calendar, and People apps may be broken due to a licensing issue with the Store Beta. To get these apps working again, you need to follow these steps:
    • Open PowerShell as administrator
    • Run the command Get-appxprovisionedpackage –online | where-object {$_.packagename –like “*windowscommunicationsapps*”} | remove-appxprovisionedpackage –online
    • Re-install Mail, People and Calendar from the Store (green tile)
  • You might notice a chess knight icon on your Lock screen to the right of the screen. This was added by the Lock screen team so they could tell via screenshots if someone was using the new Lock screen or the old one, and will eventually be removed in a future build.
  • Font sizes on the Lock screen on devices with high DPI can be really large.
  • We currently have the Tablet Mode notification turned off by default to address some of the issues we’ve been seeing. The notifications can be turned back on via Settings.
  • The touch keyboard doesn’t show up on login screen which prevents you from unlocking your PC when Narrator is on.
  • Some people might see frequent prompts to restart to install updates, even though no updates need a restart. This prompt can be ignored safely.

I am currently downloading Build 10041. It’s at 23% as of this writing (as you can see in the screen shot below). I’ll have more on this release after I’ve had a chance to work with it.

Build 10041 Download

Additional information on the release of Build 10041 and some of its newer features, as well as the above release notes, can be found, here.

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Office for Mac 2016 Public Preview

Well, it’s about frickin’ time that this got some attention…

office2016

I’m a patient person, but I’ve been waiting a LONG time for this.

Back in 2010, I was all over the beta and preview releases of Office 2011 for Mac. I’ve been an avid Office user and beta tester since the implementation of Office 95 back in 1994 and 1995. To say that I’ve been using Office since it became…Office is an understatement. Yeah… I’ve been around since the beginning.

So, back to the Office 2011 Preview for Mac – which consisted of just Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and for the first time, Outlook. The main three apps, Word, Excel and PowerPoint have their quirks, but all three are very usable. They may not look or feel like their Windows counterparts, but hey, the functionality is basically the same, if albeit a bit strangely implemented. The Office for Mac Team has been, I think, overly occupied with insuring that Office for Mac looks and feels like a real Mac app as opposed to a suite that was ported over from Windows.

Big surprise, kids… Office is a Windows suite. It’s always been a Windows suite. It’s always gonna be a Windows suite, and its origins AND its UI and are firmly rooted… in Windows. You’re just NOT going to get the UI to look and feel like a true Mac app. Get over it and move on. Folks that use Office for Windows at work want to come home and have the same UI greet them when they use Office for Mac.

They do.

Anyone who tells you differently has either a hidden agenda or is too deeply rooted in the Mac culture and ecosystem to be honest about it. (Yes, I use a Mac and OS X because I didn’t want a Window machine; but I’m not married to it, you know. I may prefer it, but I’d really rather Office look and work the way I’m used to seeing and working with it. I’m just sayin’…)

So, today, I was VERY pleased to see a write up from Mary Jo Foley on the release of the first public preview of Office 2016 for Mac. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m glad that the time is now here.

If you’re already an Office for Mac user and have Office for Mac 2011 installed, you can run it alongside of Office for Mac 2016 preview without “crossing the streams.” This is a big relief for many, as there was a great deal of confusion about the initial preview release of Outlook 2016 for Mac during the Fall of 2014. The original thought was you couldn’t run it and Outlook 2011 on the same machine. Apparently now you can.

From what I’ve been able to discover so far, Microsoft is planning on updating the suite often during the preview and will notify users of the updates automatically through the Office for Mac Auto-Update tool. So, pretty much the way we’re used to getting updates to Office; but at least the thought is… on a frequent basis. Each new preview build has a shelf life of 60 days, after which, the software will expire and not run any more. Updating to a new preview build buys you another 60 days during the Official Preview period. The final preview will function for about 30 days after the suite official RTMs.

The thought on THAT date is – some time (this) Summer 2015, several months ahead of Office 2016 for Windows (which is slotted for release during “late 2015.”

So, what do you get with the suite? I mean, besides revised/reworked versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook? Well, according to Microsoft, you get a suite that is more closely aligned with its Windows (and other platform) counterparts. It’s still supposed to look like a set of Mac apps; but will more of the same features from the Windows version. For example, you get a new Ribbon that looks like the Office for Windows Ribbon. Its tightly integrated with OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint and Office 365. It also supports Mac’s Retina Display resolutions out of the box.

Because the suite works with all flavors of OneDrive and with SharePoint, you get to access your data where ever it lives and can save it back to the same location from within the app. No more downloading a copy to your Mac, updating, saving back to SharePoint manually and then deleting the “original” so your new version is the only version there.

Office for Mac 2016 also supports Office 365 accounts, so you get cross platform access to all your stuff no matter what device you’re using. It’s obvious that Microsoft is really trying to level the playing field between all of the platforms that it supports, and that the Windows version of everything is losing its “most favored nation” status, which is a good thing. There should be a consistent level of parity between all of Microsoft’s products on every supported platform.

Microsoft Office should be Microsoft Office whether you’re on a Mac, PC, smartphone or tablet (the latter two of any and all flavors). The only things we’re missing now are Access, Publisher, Project Standard/ Professional and Visio Standard/ Professional. Publisher seems like it would be a no-brainer on the Mac. I have no idea why the app isn’t part of the Mac suite. Access, Project and Visio have well carved out spots on the enterprise side of the things.

I can see why Microsoft has dragged their feet there in the past, but Nadella’s New Microsoft shouldn’t look at those four components that way. If they’re bringing parity to all of Office where Office lives, then we’re eventually going to need those apps. I have need of both Project and Visio on my Mac right now. Publisher would be a real nice to have, and Access… well, with Bento going off the market, there’s need of a decent consumer or SOHO database app, isn’t there??

I’ve pulled down the Office for Mac 2016 Preview and I will be going through it over the next few weeks or so. I will have a review of the suite up for everyone to read as soon as I can pull it together.

download Office for Mac 2016 Public Preview

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iTunes 12 Breaks Music Organization

Apple has been having iTunes organize music the same way since the inception of iTunes. Now in version 12, it’s totally different.

I’ve been an iPod user since 2003/ 2004 time frame. I still have my 60 GB Click Wheel iPod. It’s in great shape and still plays music well. The battery is in decent shape, too; so if I had to, I could cart it around without constantly searching for a power outlet or USB port. I still make certain that it’s as updated as it can be. You have no idea when you might need a portable hard drive with all your music on it…

I’ve really invested in the Apple ecosystem, too. Actually, that’s an understatement… I jumped into the deep end of the pool with both feet. I’ve got almost 600 movies and over 50 TV shows (multiple seasons on some, not many…but some). I’ve got 65GB just in music and audio alone. When you’re looking at 4-6MB per song, that’s a lot of songs to get to 65GB.

There’s been an influx of Apple gear in my house thanks to Gazelle and No More Rack and the recent Christmas Holiday. I’ve got at least two new Macs and two new iPad mini’s in the house that need to be connected to Apple services, including iTunes and iCloud. I’ve had reason to setup new devices and new Macs in existing iTunes and iCloud accounts, and honestly, I’m not a happy person right now.

That may be just me, as I did cut my teeth on DOS/Windows and on the Microsoft side of the world, but I’ve recently noticed that the latest version of iTunes has changed the way it organizes the music library.

itunes12-music-song-list

In previous versions of iTunes, when you checked the option to have the app automatically organize your music library (it actually organizes your whole media library on your computer, including music, movies, TV shows, etc.), it organized the media in the following folder tree:

iTunes Music

<Media Type>

                        <Sub-Organizer 1>

                                                        <Sub-Organizer 2>

                                                                                        <Media File>

So for Music, this would translate to

iTunes Music

Music

<Artist Name>

                        <Album Name>

                                                  <SongName.aac/mp3/etc.>

For TV Shows, this would translate to

ITunes Music

TV Shows

<TV Show Name>

                               <Season #> (where # is the number of the season)

                                                  <EpisodeName.m4v>

In the current version of iTunes, the middle, organizing folders have been removed. This means that for music, the Album folders have been removed, so, all of the songs you have for a given artist, coming with all the songs from all of their albums. For TV Shows, this means that every episode of every TV show is stored in a single TV Show Name folder.

Now… you HAVE to be asking yourself, “Why do I care?”

That’s a GREAT QUESTION. Here’s why – It’s totally screwed up my local copy of my EXTENDED iTunes Media Library.

While iCloud is GREAT, the key word in its name is – CLOUD. The big problem of backup and access TO the cloud is still a concern for a great many people, and quite honestly not ubiquitous and totally NOT trustworthy, even in a large metropolitan area like suburban Chicago. I’ve also got TERABYTES of media; and that’s not something that I want to have to rely on internet access to get access to; and I always download a copy of anything that I buy so that I don’t have to rely on the internet or to any other service. Having a local copy on my home network also backs up a copy for me… AND because MacBook Pro’s, MacBook Airs, and Mac mini’s no longer come with upgradable storage, I don’t keep everything I buy on my Mac.

As soon as I download a copy of anything in iTunes, I copy it to my NAS and make a backup copy. That’s just smart computing.

The problem now, though, is that the new file structure doesn’t mesh with the old file structure, and I’ve got shows copying to show folders and not in season specific folders. I’ve got a huge mess of a movie folder on Mac that now copies movies to the root of my movies folder on my NAS.

Now, after I make any new iTunes content purchases, I have to go into iTunes, find out where iTunes has stored it, move it to match the folder structure of all the content on my NAS and THEN copy over the backup. This is a huge increase in overhead, and a change that totally screws up a bunch of stuff on my network. I have to ask, WHY did you do this, Apple, especially without telling anyone?

I’ve been being a good Apple boy. I’ve been resisting to organize my iTunes library myself and have been letting iTunes organize it for me. Part of the reason why this worked for me and was so easy to accept was the fact that they organized it exactly the way I would have done it, if I organized it myself. The obsessive-compulsive, anal retentive organizer within me now screams every time I download new content.

I think what’s bothering me the most is that the change in this is unannounced, and for me to follow the Apple “company line,” I’d have to reorganize my entire extended library and I really don’t want to. I don’t want to do that not only because it’s a huge amount of work with very little return in value, but also because the new organization structure is not what I want. I want what I had. I want it the way it was. The new “organization” method that iTunes does on its own creates a huge mess…

Am I alone in this? Am I the only one that’s noticed this? Have you noticed the change? Does it matter to you? Am I the only anal retentive nut job out there that keeps a local copy of their extended iTunes media library? I really can’t think that I am…

What are your thoughts on this change? Does it matter to you? Do you have a local copy of your extended iTunes library, or do you totally rely on iCloud to get you access to content you’ve removed from your iDevice, Mac or PC? I’d really love to hear what you have to say on this, as I’d like to know how big of an issue this is for everyone. Have you looked it up in Apple’s Support Forum? Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and give me your thoughts on this?

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FEATURE REVIEW: Microsoft Band – Part 1

 

MSB-01

Introduction

When I was a kid, I was always skinny. When I was a young, married adult, I was always skinny. In fact, I was 135 pounds (61.24 kilos) until I was about 35. I was skinny my entire life until we moved from Chicago to Nashville in 2000 where I had a group of kind hearted, good natured rednecks introduce me to the REAL meaning of fried chicken and biscuits and gravy.

Now, I’m a fat slob. I should never have learned the recipe.

My weight jumped from 135 pounds to about 170 pounds (77.11 kilos). After I turned 40, I began fluctuating between 170 and 180 pounds (81.65 kilos). Now that I’m nearly 50 (Lord, that seems so OLD!), I’m weighing in at a hefty 191 pounds (86.64 kilos); and I lost my feet. I think they’re still attached and below me because I haven’t fallen down yet.

My wife has been wanting to lose some medically added weight for a number of years and I’m finally ready to get rid of the inner tube around my waist, so for Christmas in 2014, I purchased both of us a Microsoft Band at a local brick and mortar location near the office.

Microsoft’s first entry into the wearables market is a smartwatch and fitness band unremarkably named, Microsoft Band. Microsoft Band is really the FIRST commercially available, actual and totally genuine, platform independent Smartwatch available on the market today; and it’s all about the quantitative self – the end user’s need/ want/ desire to learn more about how much calories they’re burning, how far they’ve walked or run on a given day, what their active and resting heartbeats are like, etc.

This review is part one of a four part series. I’m reviewing the Microsoft Band, the Fitbit Surge and the Apple Watch (when its released, currently expected in April of 2015). The last part will be a round-up based article where I will try to compare and contrast the good and the bad of all three to help everyone pick the device that’s the best for them.

For now, let’s sit down (or, perhaps a more appropriate colloquialism would be, “let’s get up and jump around”) and really take a look at how the Microsoft Band works (or doesn’t).

Hardware

Microsoft Band is an interesting accessory. The design is a bit on the rigid side, however…and there are some strange and curious design decisions that were made, that are clearly evident, as you become more and more familiar with the device.

For example – the device isn’t water proof or even water resistant. That last one really is confusing. Depending on how hydrated you are, or like to be during a workout, you can sweat. Not to be gross or anything, but I’ve been in karate classes where I’ve soaked a gi. I’ve done walk or elliptical workouts where I’ve been equally as sweaty; and I’m certain I’m not alone.

Microsoft Band may be encased in rubber and plastic; but there are many seams in the device where it’s easy for water to get in. I do not understand why Microsoft would make and market a device that’s meant to get somewhat wet (with sweat at least) and not make it water resistant at least. Microsoft says Band is “splash resistant” meaning that if you accidentally splash water on it, it’s likely to survive, but you’re going to want to wipe it up right away.

However, you should not swim, shower or do any other kind of activity (like run any kind of marathon or other activity where you’re going to potentially pour water on yourself or get wet) while wearing Band. You’ll ruin it.

Totally the most stupid design decision I’ve heard or seen on an exercise and activity band… Why in the WORLD is this thing not water resistant at least?! I can understand the issue of being water proof… they may have issues with the heart rate sensor and such; but if Band has issues with excessive amounts of sweat and other moisture, how useful is the device going to be, REALLY?? This is a huge hole that really needs to get resolved in future hardware updates of Band.

Wearability and Usability

Microsoft Band is VERY bulky. Aside from the lack of water resistance, this is probably the device’s biggest issue and problem. As you can see from some of the graphics and photographs of the device, its thick, its bulky and very inflexible.

I’ve been wearing the device daily since Christmas Day 2014, as of this writing. There have been times when Band has loosened on my wrist, and has turned at an awkward angle. Due to its rigidity, its pressed against my wrist bones and can be very painful to wear.

I’ve also heard people say that it’s very difficult to sleep with because it’s so bulky. This hasn’t been my experience. The only problem that I’ve had sleeping with the device is when I forget to turn sleep monitoring on. I have the device in Watch Mode (it displays the date and time in a dim, white font when Watch Mode is turned on), and the screen never turns off when it’s in Watch Mode. While the full graphic and color screen isn’t active unless the device is actually “on,” Watch Mode is none-the-less, very bright at 2:37am, and has woken both me and my wife up from a sound sleep because its shining in our eyes. Obviously, during the day, and in bright sunlight, the Band’s Watch Mode isn’t very bright at all, and is in some cases, difficult to read, but in a dark theatre or other dimly lit area, it can be brighter than you think. If you’re using Watch Mode, as I am, and NOT using the sleep functions, you’re likely going to want to remove Band and charge it overnight. As I said, even its dim, Watch Mode, the display is VERY bright in a dark room.

Notifications

Microsoft Band does notifications rather well. The only other smartwatch that I’ve seen so far that does them as well or better is my Pebble Steel; and that’s feeling very, VERY tired and old (and it’s not even a year old yet). That’s both good and bad for Pebble, as they seem to understand what Notifications can and should do on a smartwatch (dismissing also deletes, and you can send a call to VM, directly from the watch). It’s bad because some of this really shouldn’t be old and long in the tooth at just shy of a year old, but that’s technology and Moore’s Law for you…

However, with the Microsoft Health software on your smartphone, you can configure Microsoft Band to send over every single notification that hits your phone (via Band’s Notification Center widget), or you can choose any number of predefined notifications, for example – Facebook, Mail, Calendar, phone calls, etc.

If you enable Band’s Notification Center, then don’t have it send over notifications for any of the other specific tiles like Messaging, Mail, Calendar, etc. You’re just going to get duplicate notifications that you’ll either need to clear or allow to expire when they hit your Band. The only thing about this is that Notification Center then becomes a huge dumping ground for duplicate notifications, and going through more than a handful at a time is messy.

The big problem with notifications on Microsoft Band is that even if you dismiss them when they pop up on Band, they don’t dismiss from your smartphone; and they also never leave your band, either. You can dismiss the notification, but there’s no real way of deleting a notification from Band, that I can find at least.

I’m hoping this is simply a work in progress and that Microsoft will soon have a software update for Band that will resolve some of this. Notifications can be really cool, but the hodge-podge of a mess that you have in Notification Center really needs to be addressed (the simple fix is that if you have both Notification Center and any of the other app/ notification specific tiles turned on, they don’t show up in Notification Center; but that’s just a start…)

MSB-03

Next Page

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More on Tablet Mode

I got a bit sidetracked the other day…

unnamed

So, I’ve been doing a lot of work with windows 10 over the past few weeks. I’ve got Build 9926 installed on just about every Windows machine in the house. I’ve got it on a Surface Pro 1, Surface Pro 3 and a Dell Latitude 10 ST2.

When I started talking about Tablet Mode the other day, it really sorta morphed into a bit on installing it on the ST2, which had its own challenges. I never really got to what tablet mode really is or does on a Windows Pro tablet.

From what I can see right now… not much.

My thought was a bit-more iPad-esque. Believe it or not, I really wanted to see a bit more of a ModernUI approach on a pure tablet device. I mean, that IS what Microsoft was originally shooting for when they released Windows RT and Surface RT. The desktop pretty much hidden, full screen Modern apps, etc.

Yeah, you don’t get any of that…not even when you invoke Continuum (Tablet Mode) either automatically (by removing the keyboard) or manually (by tapping the Tablet Mode button in the Notification Center).

What you do get is a darker display (?? Really?), a static task bar and view back to the desktop and a full screen sized Start Menu when you tap the Start Button. The device is supposed to run all apps in full screen mode; and it does. All Modern apps are supposed to run full screen and without any min/max or close buttons; and they do.

All of which seem a bit useless; and a bit confusing. Microsoft is still mixing their UI’s. This is just more desktop focused and not tablet focused. Fancy that… a tablet, running in tablet mode that is full of desktop UI components. I am SO confused.

I like EVERYONE else under the sun complained bitterly when Windows 8 was released. The whole mix-n-match desktop and tablet OS hybrid drove me nuts, too. However, I can see where a tablet mode might work, and work well if it totally switched interfaces and could be turned on and off by the user where and when needed, and/or activated automatically when the device was separated from its detachable keyboard.

Microsoft needs to pay attention to something like this, because this is what Tablet Mode really should be. Switch the device – in full tablet form factor – into a tablet interface. It’s clear that’s what user’s want… You don’t have to look any further than Apple’s own iPad to see that. Many iPad owners are also Mac owners (and vice-versa) and are happy bopping back and forth between the two now that Convergence is in place under iOS 8 and Yosemite.

I’ve pushed this idea through the Windows Feedback app, with an invite to talk about this; and we’ll see what Microsoft does. I’m not holding my breath or anything; but if they’re looking to find about a bit more about the vision I have for this, then I’m willing to sit down and talk if they are.

What do you think?

Are you a Windows Insider? Are you running Windows 10? Have you ever run

unnamed (2)

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Windows 10 – How Future Updates May Work

A small blip may have given us an idea how seamless updates will work in released versions of Windows 10…

As I said earlier this month, I’m an update nut, especially when it comes to beta and prerelease software. You learn to check early and often for updates, as some of the errors you encounter, can be ugly. When you’re a beta tester, rolling back often means blowing your box and rebuilding it, even when you’re just testing an app and not a beta OS, like Windows 10.

“[Beta testing] is like a box of chocolates,” Forest. “You never know what you’re gonna get…”

Case in point for today… I pulled out my Surface Pro 3 (which is now running as well as can be expected after issues with Build 9926 have been resolved), and went to Windows update and checked for updates. I encountered three updates:

1. Security Update for Internet Explorer Flash Player for Windows Technical Preview for x64-based Systems (KB3035034)
2. Update for Windows Technical Preview for x64-based Systems (KB3035129)
3. Definition Update for Windows Defender KB2267602 (Definition 1.191.3553.0)

I started the download for those and then bopped over to Advanced Settings and looked in on the options for installing new preview builds. We haven’t had one for post TP2, yet, and I wasn’t certain if there would be changes to the delivery mechanism. There were whisperings of potential changes, especially after folks installed item number 2. Update for Windows Technical Preview for x64-based Systems (KB3035129), above. The white space under the update ring drop down got filled with a branch drop down.

Screenshot (4)

I didn’t have that drop down yet, so I went back to the Windows Update screen and let the update finish, install and reboot my Surface Pro 3.

Twenty years of using and testing Windows has taught me that you always, alwAYS, ALWAYS run Windows Update until it tells you there aren’t any more updates to install. So, after installing those three updates, I went back and checked for updates again.

What I found, can be seen in the screen shots below

Screenshot (1)

It’s a normal update screen. This is exactly what I would expect to see…

Screenshot (2)

Wait, WHAT?!? A new build in the FBL_AWESOME branch?? Why thank you, Microsoft. I don’t mind if I do! (note the build number 9932)

Screenshot (3)

…and it crapped out. Well, crap.

At this point, I wasn’t sure if it was my wireless connection, the SP3 having Wi-Fi issues again, or something else. I grabbed the error number, 0x080246017, and went over to Google to see what I could see…

And got bubkus…

Google has absolutely NOTHING on this error at all. Nothing. Not even a description of what the error number means. There’s no external information on this error at all. Anywhere. Well, at least not that I could find, and I looked for about 30 minutes. I also kept trying to download the update, just in case the error might be congestion or something else. During this time, I notice the build number incremented from 9932 to 9933. As of this writing, that build number remains 9933.

At that point, I got on Twitter and tried reaching out to my friend, Gabe Aul. As of this writing, I haven’t heard from him.

I also tried reaching out to Paul Thurrott. He was able to help me sort this out.

9932 tweets

According to Paul, builds 9932 and 9933 are internal MS builds and not meant for external consumption. As a software quality professional, I know that daily builds of big project are a common occurrence. I also know that you can get multiple daily builds, in cases where important updates become available. At some point, MS is going to make certain that the Windows Insiders Team stops seeing the notifications of daily builds. It’s a temporary glitch.

However, it is interesting, don’t you think??

No, no… not that the build notification glitch happened, but the glimpse we got at how new, complete builds of Windows may actually be distributed to the public.

If this update method stays true to course, then Updates to the current version will appear as the Windows update files we all know and love. You get updates when you get updates, and it’s unlikely that the version or build number of the OS you’re running will change. When new versions of Windows get released, however, what users will see, is a notification of a new build as a separate update item in Windows update.

THAT, my friends, is VERY Apple-esque.

It’s the same method that Apple uses for their OS updates. Well, sort of. Apple usually waits until they have a “dot-release” of their desktop OS ready to go, and they then release, for example, OS X 10.10.2 or OS X 10.10.X to address a number of issues. Microsoft releases updates all the time; and then historically releases a new “full” version of Windows via a hard copy, DVD. Now, we should see a new build show up as an available update in Windows Update. At least we will if this update method stays with us after Windows 10 is released.

And that’s the big question here… Since Windows 10 Technical Preview is in public beta, the whole shootin’ match is up in the air. Microsoft can, and likely will change a whole bunch of stuff throughout the entire OS as they look at items and move from the historical UI to a more (but not completely) Modern or MetroUI based design. Moving Windows Update out of Control Panel and into Settings is just one example of this type of progress. The new Settings interface may stay the way it is now, with more and more Control Panel content moved in, or it could complete change to something else.

I don’t know if We actually WILL see new builds appear as separate updates from Windows Update, but it DOES give us a brief glimpse of the direction that Microsoft is looking in right now.

What do you think? Is this method of delivering new full builds of Windows 10, Windows 11, Windows 12, etc. the right way to go, or should Microsoft try something different? Should they always make ISO’s available for download as well, or is this new online delivery method, very similar to Apple’s model, good enough? Why don’t you give me your thoughts on the issue in the Discussion Area, below? If you have a different or better idea, I’d love to hear about that too.

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Take control of the heart of your computer with this Ashampoo HDD Control

Take control of the heart of your computer with this essential Windows utility.HDC-01

Your hard drive is the heart of your computer. If the CPU is the brain, then your hard drive is definitely the heart. It pumps information throughout your PC and allows you to perform and complete tasks that can make your life a lot easier. However, like any body, when the heart is sick, the body can’t do well. This is why you need to keep your PC’s heart – your hard drive – working as well as it can. This is where applications like Ashampoo’s HDD Control come in. It’s a Windows app that can help you keep your hard drive working at its best possible ability.

Ashampoo HDD Control monitors, maintains and defragments hard drives. The software supports not only all common IDE and SATA hard drives, but also provides improved support for external USB hard drives and SSD’s. The extended user interface gives an overview of the status of your hard drive’s health, performance and temperature. It also offers lots of technical information on the drive’s supported features and current status. The software supports S.M.A.R.T and will check for electric and mechanic problems of hard drives as well as adjustment of the noise level and power management, if supported by the drive.

With just a few clicks, HDD Control finds unused files and Internet traces, and then delete the data, with support for different erasing methods. If something goes south and you accidentally remove the wrong information from your drive, HDD Control can also help you get it back. Once you’ve got the space you need, the app can also proactively defragment your drive as well.

Speaking of SSD’s, HDD Control works well with Windows-based SSD’s. Its Duplicate Finder can help locate and delete duplicate files so you don’t waste space on these limited volumes. You can use its filtering mechanism to search for specific file types and extensions, to help you keep a handle on your disk usage.

Ashampoo HDD Control bundles all of the essential information about your PC’s hard drive on its start screen in a clear and concise manner. From here, you have a clear, detailed picture of the state of your drives within seconds and can take instant action of you need to.

The app’s history view can show you drive’s long term performance trends and allow you to predict if and when your drive may fail. You’ll be able to take the appropriate precautions in order to save your data from corruption or overall drive failure.

The app’s interface is non-standard; but it’s a decent application and it does a great job of keeping an eye on your drive and its performance. The app is a bit on the expensive side by today’s prices, but if you’ve got a home network and have a great deal of storage on it, this could be the tool that helps you keep things running at peak performance.

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