Microsoft Mobility – I Don’t Think They Get It…STILL: Part I

I’ve quipped on leadership before, but fer cryin’ out loud – I’m DYIN’ over here.

There’s a lot happening over here at Soft32. I’ve been doing deep dives on both Apple and Microsoft operating systems and you should be able to see them on Soft32 shortly. 2012 is definitely the year of the new OS; and Soft32 is committed to keeping you up to date on all of the developments.

As both major personal computing platform players are upgrading their operating systems this year, I’ve had an opportunity to do EXHAUSTIVE deep dives in both the Windows and OS X worlds and what I’m seeing on BOTH sides is both praise worthy and, at times, has me scratching my head.

I’ll tackle Apple later. I want to talk about Microsoft first, as this one is really bothering me.

Over the years, I’ve been a HUGE pro-Microsoft advocate, especially in the world of mobility. I was a huge Windows Mobile pundit, and I know I was NOMINATED at least twice for MS MVP for Windows Mobile. I never got it; but the people who nominated me told me of the nominations after the awards were announced. My point (without all the resume building) is that I was serious about promoting and contributing to the success of the MS mobile platform, so I’m not MS bashing; but after looking at Windows 8 so extensively over the past eight or so months, one thing has become crystal clear to me:

Microsoft USED to have an idea of where they wanted to go with mobility; but currently, don’t have the SLIGHTEST CLUE.

I’m sitting here, writing this and shaking my head. I can’t tell you how disappointed I really am with publically vocalizing that; but it became clear to me when speaking to my colleagues at WUGNET after finishing my deep dive of Windows 8 Release Preview. Microsoft has completely lost its direction, its understanding and its hold on the mobile computing community.

When Microsoft was competing against Palm for control of the PDA space, it had vision and direction. When it was competing against RIM for control of the Push email space, it had vision and direction. Somewhere between 2005 and today, it lost sight of where it was going in mobility and became stagnant…which is one of the reasons why it took them almost 2 years to release the first version of Windows Phone 7 in October of 2010.

I also believe it’s the main reason why Windows 8 is such a freakin’ train wreck. There’s no captain on the mobility train. They better get one quick before the train sinks or the ship derails… Yes, I know I just mixed my metaphors. That’s kinda the point…

Come back next time, and I’ll finish up the analysis.

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Windows 8 Release Preview Review

Microsoft has released the final peak at Windows 8, with its Release Preview. Let’s take a quick look at what’s been updated and see if Windows 8 is any better now than it was in the Consumer Preview.

Introduction
Microsoft released Windows 8 Release Preview on 31-May-12.  The sooner than expected release of the new software is supposed to add on to the stability, usability, etc., of the new operating system.  Based on my interaction with the software, I have a great deal of doubt that the new release of Windows 8 Release Preview, is in fact, a step forward.

From what I’ve seen so far since installing it over Windows 7 Ultimate on my Asus Eee PC T101MT convertible, touch netbook, the software has taken a huge step backwards in quality. After the initial install, which required not only the removal of Microsoft Security Essentials, most of the Asus T101MT bundled software and specific T101MT utilities that didn’t have Windows 8 upgrades yet, had to be removed in order to get the software to install.

Even after that, I still had to force the display to push 1024×768 resolution by default with the handy registry hack I mentioned last time. Without that hack, none of the Metro apps but Control Panel would run. Even after that; I bumped into a few interesting problems that are worth mentioning.

Installation
I’m going to mention this more than once, as it’s important to note – after installing Windows 8 Release Preview as an upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate, I blew the machine and rebuilt it with a clean, vanilla install of Windows 8.  Here’s why…

Windows 8’s PIM Metro Apps, specifically, Mail, People and Calendar, wouldn’t run.  However, it seemed that their Live Tiles still updated themselves and cycled through data, which I found confusing.  It’s clear; however, that the services that Windows 8 makes use of to feed its Live Tiles is separate from the Metro App’s ability to run, regardless of the minimum screen resolution requirements.

What I found the most frustrating about this, and I’m sorry I didn’t capture screen shots of it, was that the Metro Apps failed without any real reason. The error message they generated did contain a More Info link that directed me  to Microsoft Answers (Microsoft’s Windows 8 support site); but once you sign in with your soon-to-be-rebranded Windows Live ID, you got an error message from Microsoft Answers indicating that you weren’t authorized to view the noted data.

Really?!?  I’m not authorized??  Thank you. That’s just too awesome…

I also found that the Camera Metro App also still generated the BSoD it had in the Consumer Preview.

I got fed up.  I decided to blow the machine back to factory fresh and then reinstall Windows 8 from scratch, replacing Windows 7 Starter Edition with a clean, vanilla install of Windows 8. This would effectively nuke the PC (leaving the Windows 7-based recovery image) and make my T101MT a native Windows 8 PC.

With the PC in an upgraded condition, it was clearly unusable. The PC had wouldn’t run  Mail, People and Calendar. It was impossible to trouble shoot due to my not-authorized status with Microsoft Answers, and the camera still would not work.

With a clean Windows 8 install, the PC is usable, but it feels very unfinished, especially when compared to Windows 8 Consumer Preview.  The upgrade experience with it was much better than with Windows 8 Release Preview.

Continue reading…

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RIM’s Impending Collapse – Sometimes I Hate it When I’m Right – Part 2

With its stock at an all-time low, the Ontario-based company has retained JP Morgan-Chase to help it evaluate its options

Sometimes I really hate it when I’m right. I really do…

Last time, I outlined how and why RIM retained JP Morgan-Chase to help it find a buyer for its corporate assets.  We spoke specifically about who would be good and likely candidates – Google, Microsoft and Apple topped the list.

I covered why both Google and Microsoft wouldn’t be the best candidates for the acquisition.  Let’s take a look at Apple as a viable candidate. It’s a pretty compelling scenario, even if I do say so myself, though it wouldn’t be without its own regulatory challenges…

If you think about it, a marriage between Apple and RIM brings up some very interesting opportunities. It is, in my mind the best possible outcome of RIM retaining JP Morgan-Chase. Apple is one of the biggest leaders in the mobile computing space at this time.  They currently set the height of the bar that most everyone, RIM included, has been trying to top since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. The iPhone is the sole reason why RIM introduced the Blackberry Storm and Storm 2.  Those devices failed miserably because they didn’t know what they wanted to be – members of a serious enterprise tool kit, or poorly constructed, me too imitation of the consumer-based iPhone.

As Apple currently licenses Exchange ActiveSync to insure that its corral of iDevices can sync with Exchange Servers around the world, the acquisition of RIM’s push email patents could give Apple the opportunity to immediately acquire up to 78M additional iPhone customers.  I don’t know a Blackberry user ANYWHERE that wouldn’t immediately drop kick their Blackberry for an iPhone if it instantly and immediately hooked into an existing BIS/BES infrastructure.

Apple has been chomping at the bit to make serious headway in the enterprise space.  Building RIM’s push mail system into iOS would immediately…IMMEDIATELY…do that for iPad and iPhone. It would give them more than a serious hand hold on the enterprise market, and open up sales of Apple desktop hardware as BIS/BES are reenvisioned, reinnovated and optimized for OS X Lion/Mountain Lion Server.

With RIM’s patents, Apple’s iOS could become the new enterprise standard for mobile computing, clearly the hottest, most growth potential sector of the computing market and industry for, perhaps, the rest of the decade.  The iPad is already the biggest selling tablet in the world, with Google’s Android playing a distant second.  The integration of RIM’s push into iOS could negate Apple’s need for an Exchange ActiveSync license, as BIS/BES already work and integrate with Exchange.  Changes to Apple’s desktop Mail client to further support the new patents would insure that they could become a clear choice at work.  Apple servers could become the clear choice for mobile implementations as they drive mail servers for the enterprise.

If this isn’t THE no-brainer of the century, I’m clearly missing something…and I’d love to have someone tell me what that might be.

Now… would someone do me a HUGE favor and forward me Tim Cook’s phone number?  I’d really like to give him a call and encourage him to run after this…

Anyone..?  Anyone..?

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Windows 8 still a bit glitchy

Microsoft released the Windows 8 Release Preview on, 31-May-12. I’ve pulled down the preview, with all of the Metro Apps and installed it…and then I promptly nuked my Asus Eee T101MT Touch netbook and restored Windows 7 to it.

Why?  Well, that’s pretty simple…

The OS couldn’t turn on the Wi-Fi Radio.

I have Comcast cable internet coming into the house providing me with a speedy 50Mbps down/20Mbps up pipe.  I’ve got 802.11g/n Wi-Fi in the house as well, and I know that when things are humming right and cooking with gas, I can push 22-25MB/s of data across my home network (That’s equivalent to 176-200Mpbs, kids…).  Oh yes… It’s a beautiful thing.

Soft32 will continue to provide in depth, thought provoking analysis on all major platform upgrades and advances, and the summer of 2012 looks to be a very active season.  There’s a lot happening in the desktop operating system world right now. So after downloading the 2.65GB ISO image of the 32bit version of Windows 8 Release Preview, with Apps last night, I set out to install the revised OS on my T101MT so that I could begin evaluating the delta (or change) between it and the Consumer Preview.

I plugged the Eee PC into one of the five wired Ethernet ports of the network switch I have in my home office and turned off the Wi-Fi radio. Over the years, I’ve learned that having more than one active network adapter running at the same time on a single PC (like having the Wi-Fi radio on and connected to your wireless router or access point while having a network cable plugged into your wired Ethernet port) can cause network performance issues on Windows PC’s.  After many conversations with Microsoft technicians and technical beta team leads, I’ve learned that a Windows PC can become confused when trying to determine which network adapter to send and receive IP traffic through if more than one networking adapter is active in the same PC at once.  So, I turned the Wi-Fi radio in the Eee PC off after plugging in the Ethernet cable. It seemed reasonable, logical, and it’s what my experience has taught me to do over the years.

Yeah…someone please remind me not to do that again…Big mistake.

After Windows 8 Release Preview installed and I unplugged the Ethernet cable from the netbooks LAN port, I couldn’t get the wireless radio to turn on to save my life.  I fiddled with every setting and registry nugget I could find. I pulled the driver out, deleted the files and let the PC find everything again to no avail.

After a couple hours, I threw in the towel and activated the recovery partition on the netbook. I blew the entire contents of the PC and will start over from scratch this weekend…this time, leaving the wireless network adapter on after plugging in the Ethernet cable.

Come back next time, and I’ll give you the run down on what actually happened, why it happened and what this means to the Windows computing public in general.

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Create your own stunning logo with Logo Design Studio

Brand identity is one of the cornerstones of good business, which is why a great logo is essential. For those who don’t want to cough up big money for a design firm, Logo Design Studio provides all of the easy-to-use tools that you’ll need to make your own unique logo.

Whatever medium you’re designing for, from letterheads to banners, Logo Design Studio has hundreds of industry-based templates to inspire you. The simply laid out workspace provides you with thousands of graphic objects and artwork, creative textures, slogans and special effects to help you make a striking and unique logo for your brand – be it a business, sports team or even just an event. Within minutes you’ll have a professional-standard logo made to your exact standards and specifications.

For those without the design expertise to create their own logo from scratch, Logo Design Studio is a great, easy-to-use alternative, with bags of creative potential. With thousands of examples and assets to work with, you’re almost guaranteed to find something that catches your eye. With a comprehensive set of editing tools you’ll be able to tweak and alter your logo as much as you want.

One note though, the demo version of this software might contain all of the functionality of the paid offering, but it’s also been packaged with lower quality images to keep the size of the download down. Our advice is to give the demo a try, and if you’re getting results that you’re happy with, upgrade to the full software for a high-quality end result.

Download Logo Design Studio

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Photo albums with style!

I like photography, and I’m quite sure that any person with photography as a hobby, would like to create a custom calendar with his own photos, or a greeting card, a photo book, a gallery wrap or why not a wedding album?

As mostly you need a specific software for each of the projects mentioned above, but Muvee Photo Creations comes with a complete solution with all the features that you need. Muvee Photo Creations is very easy, and you can create all that you need, even from the first usage of the software! You just select what do you would like create, and the Wizard will take you through all necessary steps to get a splendid result. When the Wizard is done, you can still edit with ease whatever you want in your project, add new photos, new pages, more text, change the fonts, sizes, color, and of course to change the order of photos. Also in the calendar Wizard, you can add specific dates and their description, or you can select the religion and the important holidays will be added in your calendar.

Muvee Photo Creations is free to use, and all the features are working great. But, if you don’t buy a license key, you won’t be able to print your documents or to export them as PDF’s or JPG’s…With the free version, you can only print your projects at Muvee.com, and they will deliver the printed albums or calandar or whatever you do, to your home.

Download Muvee Photo Creations

 

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RIM’s Impending Collapse – Sometimes I Hate it When I’m Right

With its stock at an all time low, the Ontario-based company has retained JP Morgan-Chase to help it evaluate its options

Sometimes I really hate it when I’m right. I really do…

Late last year, I pumped out a couple columns on why I thought 2012 was going to be a very, VERY difficult year for RIM. They’ve got a huge set of hurdles to overcome. With layoffs likely to happen at any time between now and the end of the year, employees who aren’t actively looking for new employment are likely setting themselves up for huge problems later on. When a company is tanking, its always better to leave earlier rather than later in my opinion.

Be that as it may, about a week ago, it was reported on Wall Street that RIM has retained JP Morgan-Chase to help it figure out what to do with itself. There’s really only one reason why RIM would hire an investment bank the likes of JP Morgan-Chase – they’re actively looking to shop the company, wanting to identify a buyer sooner rather than later while the company’s stock and assets still have value.

I saw an article on Seeking Alpha that identified three real world players to purchase all or part of RIM or its patent portfolio: Microsoft, Google or Apple. The article’s author, identified only as “kracken,” is correct. There are only three. Some people may wonder about companies like Nokia, Samsung, LG and HTC. The fit isn’t right there.

Nokia, Samsung, LG and HTC are handset makers that play in ecosystems created by Microsoft (Windows Phone), Google (Android) and Apple (iOS). For Nokia, Samsung and the rest to make a play for RIM would mean that they would be interested in throwing considerable capital behind the continuation and evolution of BB10/QNX, and the rest of RIM’s ecosystem, which includes the pitifully received Blackberry Playbook. Even though version 2.0 of the tablet’s OS was fairly well received, its highly unlikely to make an appearance ANYWHERE with any kind of impact that would make it worthwhile to have.

RIM currently has $2.1B in cash and over 78M known Blackberry users worldwide. However, only 20M of those are enterprise level users. With 58M consumer-based users that could jump off the RIM ecosystem for a more viable one in MS, Google or Apple, its clear where RIM’s current value currently lies – its patents.

With Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility recently completed, its unlikely that regulators would approve the additional acquisition of a set of patents that would likely, and most certainly, create a near total monopoly for Google in the mobility space.

Microsoft is perhaps the second most likely candidate in the list of three, some may think.. As a former, direct RIM opponent in the Push eMail space, it would be very ironic for MS to acquire the RIM Push mail patents (as well as others) when, during the 2002-2004 timeframe, if memory serves correctly, RIM brought litigation against Microsoft for the way Exchange ActiveSync pushed mail and notifications out to a connected device. MS had to change the way Exchange ActiveSync worked, much to the dislike of many. Acquiring the patent would certainly close the loop for MS is that story, but with Microsoft’s flat stock performance over the last 10 or so years, I’m not entirely certain what the acquisition would truly buy them other than a sense of vindication. They’ve already “won the war,” especially if they do, in fact, end up taking 20 or so percent of the mobile market by 2016, as predicted by some analysts. Apple and Google already license Exchange ActiveSync as the back end of both’s abilities to sync with Exchange Servers for mail services. There’s no reason for them to purchase patents for a competing push service when no one else is likely to use it.

From my perspective, the only reason why MS would buy them would be to kill them.

Come back next time, and I’ll finish up the analysis…

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Keep your PC running at peak performance System Cleaner

If I had a dime for every time I had a friend come to me and ask for help in getting their PC up and running after a crash, I could probably retire a rich and happy man. Windows is an interesting operating system, in that it might be the most popular on the desktop, but it certainly isn’t the most well-constructed. Its so easy to make it fall down. That’s one of the reasons why I like applications like System Cleaner. It’s a Registry and optimization tool for Windows.

System Cleaner is an advanced registry cleaner and system optimization tool that cleans, repairs and optimizes your PC to minimize seizures and crashes. With System Cleaner, you will see an immediate increase in PC performance and a decrease in crashes. System Cleaner allows you to quickly and easily scan for issues on your PC and then repair them in a single action. All major tasks, such as removing junk files, defragmenting hard drives, repairing registry errors, optimizing your internet connection and identifying security vulnerabilities can be done with just a couple of mouse clicks.

System Cleaner has an automatic maintenance mode that allows you to clean and optimize your PC to keep your computer running like new. Automatic Maintenance allows you to perform maintenance tasks to keep your PC in top shape. If you’re not sure what’s on your computer or how it got there, System Cleaner’s Disk Cleaner can show you and help you keep your computer running clean.

If you’re an old computing pro like me, its often easy to forget how many programs you’ve got installed, have uninstalled or deleted or the number of files that were copied to and from it, and so on. Most of these “tracks” are still sitting somewhere on your computer, and Disk Cleaner can help you recover all the wasted space used by this junk information.

When your PC’s performance starts to tank, the Registry is often the first place you need to look System Cleaner offers a way to help you look at the Windows Registry. Its a set of data files used to help Windows how it looks, operations and ultimately, where programs store their data. Over time, parts of the registry become invalid or point to locations that no longer exist. Registry Cleaner allows you to find and resolve all the registry problems that can cause errors and unwanted PC behavior. After using Registry Cleaner to identify and remove problems, the recently invalid entries removed leave empty spaces, meaning that the size of the registry remains unchanged. System Cleaner can condense and optimize the Registry. Loading a smaller registry is faster than loading a big one.

Read full Review | Download System Cleaner

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