Windows 8 Part 1 – Repeating Windows 7 Success

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview (or Beta) is due out on 29-Feb-12 at Mobile World Congress. While it may be strategically important to Microsoft, consumers may not thing so.

I’ve been part of nearly every Windows Technical Beta Team since Windows 95. I’m used to being one of Microsoft’s go-to external testers. I also was part of their Windows 7 Launch, as I was chosen in 2009 to host a Windows 7 Launch Party at my home. I covered the event for a local paper as well, and spun off into a print column for them called, “Technically Speaking.” At the time of its release, Windows 7 was the right operating system for Microsoft’s ailing desktop operating system business – It provided enough of a reason to compel enterprise users to move away from Windows XP, and wasn’t the consumer-worrying, performance deprived, hardware consuming mess that Windows Vista was.

With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft is hoping to address two big issues.

1. Repeat the Windows 7 success
2. Address the tablet trend

In this two part series, we’re going to look at both of these issues and try to make sense of it all.

Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 – Repeat the Success

There are a couple basic reasons why Windows 7 was so successful, and both of them are operating system related. Interestingly enough, both reasons have nothing do to with Windows 7.

Windows 7 wasn’t Windows XP

Windows 7 owes a lot of its past and current success to Windows XP. WinXP was released over 11 years ago. It stuck around in the enterprise for so long because it was solid. Even though it still has a number security issues, it’s still a huge player in the enterprise space because of XP’s longevity and familiarity with IT support staff. Simply put, they’ve been working with it for so long, they’re familiar with the pain it causes, know where the problems are, and know how to deal with them.

However, its time has come and gone. Many companies that are still running the aged OS are in the process of phasing it out of the enterprise and are making in the process of drafting or implementing approved Windows 7 migration plans. IT support staff members feel confident that their users will be able to effectively make the transition without too many use or support issues. It’s enough like XP that users will be able to make a smooth transition, and improved enough that the support issues encountered with XP have been successfully and effectively addressed. Microsoft had also clearly made its plans for sun setting the OS widely known.

Simply put, Windows 7 was a success because the need for an XP replacement was clear. XP needed a replacement and the enterprise and consumer public was more than ready for it.

Windows 7 Clearly was NOT Windows Vista

One of the biggest reasons why Windows 7 was such a success was that it clearly was NOT Windows Vista. While Vista may have introduced a new interface, desktop theme and new technology, it unfortunately came with a lot of problems.

Microsoft moved everything. Windows XP users moving to Vista had a huge problem using the OS. Many of the features and functions that they were used to going to in location X were now located in location Z (location “Y” would have made sense, but MS seemed to randomly move things to new locations that only THEY understood the reasoning behind…).

Vista was late to market. The OS, originally code named Longhorn, was well over 7 years late being released. Worse yet, it was riddled with performance issues. Correcting them was easy and after SP1 was released, it actually wasn’t a bad OS.

Its problems were marketing in and PR-based. Windows 7 didn’t have a hard time being a success. In fact, based on Vista’s bad PR and XP’s overly long longevity, Windows 7 couldn’t have been much else other than a success. Microsoft did what it needed to do to address some interface and user experience issues, further improved the underlying performance and put some marketing money behind the release. The result was instant success.

Come back next time, and we’ll address some items in the Windows 8 Developer’s Preview and what’s supposed to be happening with the Consumer Preview to address the increasing popularity of tablets at both home and at work.

Related Posts:

Create mind maps with CmapTools

Cmap Tools is a powerful software package that allows you to create “mind maps” or concept maps — graphical representations of interrelated data, items or abstract concepts. A concept map consists of “bubbles”, each containing a specific item, with each bubble connected to related concepts by a line. Concept maps can be very useful for teaching; they also make an excellent planning strategy. They’re ideal for many different situations — great for groups and organizations and also perfect for individual planning, project development and decision making. Whether you’re introducing a subject to a class of young children, coming up with a new product, organizing lecture notes, deciding on the decor for your home or writing a novel, concept maps offer a way of structuring information so as to aid comprehension and inspire new ideas.

Cmap Tools gives you everything you need to translate your idea, approach or topic into a graphical format that’s easy to understand. The software comes with pre-made graphics templates, tools for drawing, editing, linking and adding concepts. This versatile software is suitable for virtually any organization — schools, universities, large and small businesses, and charities. Cmap tools has powerful sharing and collaborative features. You can synchronize maps, allowing a group of maps to be edited at the same time. You can link maps together and share maps you’ve made with others. Cmap Tools lets you export your completed maps in web format, ready to upload onto the Internet. You can also distribute maps made with Cmap Tools via Cmap Servers.

read full review | download CmapTools

Related Posts:

Kindle Fire Lacks (even BASIC) Purchase Controls

Let’s face it, despite what Amazon has to say, the Kindle Fire really just isn’t kid friendly…

I bought my wife a Kindle Fire for Christmas. After a couple of days hesitation with the device, she really got into it, and now, really likes it. Small, easy to carry and for her AND the kids to use, it’s become a standard in her daily gadget line up. In fact, neither her nor the kids have it far from them during the day. Clearly, a sign of a good purchase and gift decision on my part.

However, the tablet, and subsequently Amazon’s ecosystem, have a major flaw in them; and it’s one that you won’t even bump into unless you either have kids that share your Fire or you lose/misplace the device – it has absolutely NO purchase controls.

If you order the device directly from Amazon, the device comes in a clearly MARKED box and comes preactivated with links directly to your credit card and your account. Anyone smart enough to intercept the shipment will have the ability to purchase away inside of Amazon’s online store, with YOU responsible for all of the purchases.

Strike one – Pre-activation

The device itself doesn’t have any method, or way of either excluding your purchasing credentials/credit card info or even password protecting all purchases with your Amazon.com site password. If you have the device, again, you have direct access to your account, and as long as you have money in your debit account, available credit on your card, etc., anyone possessing the device can make all the purchases they want.

Strike two – Have device, can purchase

When I confronted Amazon with this HUGE security (and frankly, clearly common sense) hole, they let me know that Amazon addressed this by putting a password on Wi-Fi access, so if you wanted to prevent purchases, you could password protect the device’s ability to get online.

This made me to a double take; and really ticked me off.

Strike three – Failure to address the specific issue: Purchase control

I think Amazon wants to differentiate themselves in the tablet market by giving their users the clear ability to purchase anything and everything they would want or need on the Kindle Fire without having to enter a password. Really..?! Am I the only one who sees this huge security hole? I give them points for wanting this to be easy, but talk about your advanced identity theft tools..! Apparently, all I need to steal someone’s credit is not their credit card number, their social security number or any of their personal, private information. All I really need is their Kindle Fire.

Nice.

Let’s forget the real world scenario that I bumped into with my 4 year old ordering an entire season’s worth of Olivia, and that I just want to gate purchases on the device with the linked account’s Amazon password (which you see on every Apple iDevice in town, including the iPad). According to Amazon, this is unreasonable. It’s also something they are NOT going to address.

They’ve given users the ability to limit the use of Wi-Fi instead. You need Wi-Fi to make purchases. With Wi-Fi password protected, you can’t purchase new content. That’s true; but it also fails to address the problem. The Kindle Fire is a content streaming device.

Amazon Prime’s streaming service requires an internet connection. The Fire is a Wi-Fi only device, and in order to view/stream content that I’ve already purchased, Wi-Fi must be on. Effectively want Amazon is telling me is that I have to unlock Wi-Fi every time my child wants to view content that’s already been purchased…and once they are streaming content, I have to watch them watch it so that they don’t go looking for something else.

But, as I said, let’s forget this and the fact that its backwards.

The unlocked device represents a huge security hole. Amazon needs to address this with a software update and needs to require the account holder’s Amazon password for all purchases and not for Wi-Fi access. Until it does, Kindle Fire, and really ALL Kindle owners, need to be careful about where they store their Kindle, who has access to the device, and who is using it. You could find yourself the recipient of a HUGE content bill if your kids, or worse, a thief, happen to get a hold of your device and make unauthorized purchases.

NOTHING you can do, either on the web site or on the device, aside from crippling it, can prevent unauthorized purchases; and this is clearly documented by a number of different complaints and posts in Amazon’s own forums.

Related Posts:

JPCSP – The Java PSP Emulator

Programming a console emulator is a tricky proposition, especially for a relatively more recent console such as the Playstation Portable. The Java-based open-source JPSCP emulator is however a strong piece of software, suitable for both playing existing games and testing out your own projects.

As an open-source project there is a strong community behind the software, so any problems can be brought to the attention of the project’s forum for swift advice and help. However, more documentation with the download would be helpful, as it can take time to trawl through forum posts to find the information you are looking for.

The download is compact and the emulator is easy to install and set up, with controls and compatibility features easy to tweak, even for those without technical knowledge. The interface itself is basic but functional, with a graphical control allocation feature making assigning controls basically idiot-proof. You just click on the PSP graphic to assign controls.

The major downside is that the list of compatible games is small, however the range is growing. Some games may run a bit slowly, especially on older hardware.

JPCSP is certainly worth having if you want to play one of the games on its compatibility list or test your own projects. While it is relatively easy to use, more documentation would be helpful.

Related Posts:

CopyTrans Suite – a set of apps to replace iTunes and manage your iPod or iPhone

One of the most annoying features of the Apple iPod is that it can only be connected to one computer at any one given time. This isn’t useful if you have multiple computers on your network, in your house or at work, with different audio collections that you own. Likewise, if you are going to get a new computer and want to scrap the old one, you can’t just connect your iPod to the new computer and transfer that audio over.

CopyTrans Suite, an iPod utility, fixes all of these problems. With CopyTrans Suite you can back up, copy, recover and, simply, transfer music from your iPod to your computer. CopyTrans Suite is compatible with your iPod, Photo, Mini, Shuffle, Nano, Video, Touch and iPhone, so this even works if you are upgrading from your old iPod but want to keep some of those older songs that you no longer have.

CopyTrans Suite is a fantastic application for people with multiple iPods, multiple computers or multiple audio collections. Instead of having segregated music collections, you can now unify them together to give you all of your music, all of the time, wherever you go. CopyTrans Suite also acts as a fantastic backup utility, so that even if your computer crashes, you can restore your entire iPod library to your computer easily.

Read full review | Download CopyTrans

Related Posts:

TuxGuitar – a nice little tool for guitar players and other musicians

This free, open-source piece of music transcription software is certainly a useful tool for beginners and accomplished musicians alike. It has a host of features to make transcription easy including the ability to view musical scores and guitar tabs at the same time, and even the option to lift your notes directly off a guitar fret-board. There is also a range of guitar-specific effects such as slides and bends.

It’s easy to use and the help manual is simple and to the point. Tempo control allows for more complicated pieces to be played at a slower speed with a single click – great for beginners and those attempting high-level compositions.

Many free or shareware software options do not allow for the creation or saving of edited files, but TuxGuitar operates as a complete system – at zero cost. The ability to open a variety of different file types such as TablEdite and GuitarPro is a boon, as are the various options for export.

The one downside is that the instrument sounds are not as realistic as they could be. If you are using it as a composition tool you could find the inaccuracies somewhat frustrating, but for anything less than a full orchestral piece it is perfectly serviceable.

Read full review | Download TuxGuitar

Related Posts:

Bring out the best in your digital photographs with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

There are a lot of digital darkrooms and photo organizing apps out there with a number of different and overlapping features. If you serious about photography and want to take serious control of your shots, then you really need the right tool for the job. This is one of the reasons why I like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. It’s a multiplatform tool with the tools that professionals and prosumers need.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software helps you bring out the best in your photographs, whether you’re perfecting one image, searching for ten, processing hundreds, or organizing thousands.  With it you can create incredible, moving images. One of the best things about it is that you can fearlessly experiment with state-of-the-art, nondestructive, editing tools. If you make a mistake, it’s easy to revert to an unmodified image, or undo the changes.

Lightroom allows you to easily manage all your images, and showcase your work in elegant print layouts, slide shows, and web galleries. You can also upload them to popular, online, photo-sharing sites.  It’s easy to do all of this directly from within this one, fast, intuitive application.

If you’re an advanced amateur or professional photographer, you need a wide range of tools to keep your digital projects creative and organized. Lightroom provides all your essentials in one intuitive package.  It has a wide range of new features and enhanced capabilities, including faster performance, new world-class noise reduction, lens correction, support for DSLR video files, a process to create easy-to-share slide show videos with music, and much more.

In some cases, light, or the lack of it, can create unwanted noise in your photos, even if you know what you’re doing and you meter and light everything as well as you can.  With Lightroom, you can get just the look you want from every shot with state-of-the art image processing tools that let you easily alter contrast, tune color, convert to black-and-white, add grain, reduce noise, adjust sharpness, and more.  Tools of this quality are important, especially if you’re going to go the extra mile and have the photos professionally printed.

read full review | download Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Related Posts:

Get access to all of your files on all of your computing devices with Dropbox

The Cloud.  If you don’t have a piece of it, you’re behind the times and you may be in a serious predicament.  Getting your own private piece of the cloud is so important that I co-wrote and edited an important piece on it for Information Week last summer. The gist of the article was alternatives for what I consider to be one of the absolute BEST online backup and file access tool on the internet today, and really the application and service to copy or beat – Dropbox. It’s a multiplatform tool; and again, it’s a must have.

Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, documents, and videos anywhere. This means that any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all of your connected computers, phones as well as the Dropbox website. You’ll never be without the data you need, as long as you have an internet connection.

Dropbox makes sharing files easy.  You can invite your friends, family and teammates to any folder in your Dropbox, and it’ll be as if the data was saved right to their computers. You can send people links to specific files in your Dropbox if sharing an entire folder isn’t appropriate. This makes Dropbox perfect for team projects, sharing party photos with friends, or any number of file sharing needs.

If your computer has any kind of meltdown, and you lose EVERYTHING, don’t worry. Dropbox has you covered.  You can use Dropbox to restore all the data from your backup folders in a snap. It’s perfect for hard drive upgrades and computer rebuilds.

read full review | download Dropbox

Related Posts:

Stay in touch with Soft32

Soft32.com is a software free download website that provides:

121.218 programs and games that were downloaded 237.780.356 times by 402.775 members in our Soft32.com Community!

Get the latest software updates directly to your inbox

Find us on Facebook