Et tu Blue-te..? – Is Windows 8.1 Your New Best Friend?

Reading List Implementation

Taking a cue from the recent demise of Google Reader, Microsoft has included a new Reading List Metro App in Windows 8.1  The app allows you to share and mark items to be read offline later, without having to retrace the steps you used to find the article in the first place.  According to MS, the Share Charm works very well for saving items to the app.  I think the neatest thing about the app is that it works not only with web pages, but with other Metro Apps like Sports or Travel, or even the Windows Store.

As you can see from the screen shots, there’s a couple of bumps in the road.  I was viewing a web page and tried to share it in Reading List. I tried with both Chrome AND IE 11. It didn’t work as expected.

The instructions are simple –

  1. Find what you want to save to Reading List,
  2. Slide the Charms out from the right side of the screen,
  3. Tap the Share Charm
  4. Choose Reading List from the menu that appears
  5. Preview the content and then tap Add to Reading List.

The article should appear under the Today section of Reading List. I obviously didn’t get the Reading List as an option. Windows 8.1 wanted to share the content as a screen shot.  Reading List didn’t even appear in the app list under Share.



Mobile Hotspot Support

Please note that the Mobile Hotspot Support options only show up (at least so far…) if you actually have mobile broadband on your Windows 8.1 device. I couldn’t get to the options in a Windows 8.1 device that didn’t have mobile broadband.

For those Windows 8 Pro devices that have a mobile broadband card, this could be a good thing, however, the implementation here has a couple of issues.  It has nothing to do with the technology, but does with its implementation.

Mobile hot spot support in a tablet isn’t likely to get used much. I may use my mobile broad band on my tablet to go online, but I’m not likely to share that connection with other devices. More likely, it’s the other way around. I may share my smartphone’s mobile broadband connection with my tablet or PC, but again, not the other way around.

This really seems a bit backwards. It’s also totally weird because both Surface RT and Surface Pro devices do NOT have mobile broadband cards.  When I approached reps in the Oak Brook, IL (a suburb of Chicago) Microsoft Store about this issue, they didn’t have a firm answer.  The only thing I can come up with is that it takes roughly 18 months for a mobile device to get through FCC and mobile carrier certification.  It’s likely that Microsoft skipped this feature so both devices wouldn’t miss their relevance windows in the tablet and PC marketplaces.

If that’s not it, then Microsoft totally missed the boat.  My Dell Latitude 10 ST2 has a mobile broadband card, and I find it very valuable.



Initial Impressions

Windows 8.1 is a decent improvement over Windows 8.  However, please don’t think that this is something that you’re gonna write home about. Windows 8.x still has a number of different issues it has to get past.  The biggest is its fractured UI.

No matter how you cut it, Metro and the classic Desktop still don’t mix. Windows 8.x’s touch based interface still doesn’t work on a traditional desktop PC without a touch layer.  I’ve heard some people describe Windows 8.x as a mish-mash of classic and touch enabled elements “bolted” on top of each other.  That’s pretty accurate.  Windows 8.1 blurs the lines a bit more and SORT OF tries to unify the UI, but still falls way short.

Microsoft would have done itself a HUGE favor (and still could, for that matter…) if it [would have] pulled Metro OUT of Windows 8 and relegated it only to Windows RT.  In like fashion, it would need to remove Desktop mode from Windows RT.

You’ve got two completely different, and in many ways disparate operating systems trying to live in a single package and it just doesn’t make sense. Drawing these clear lines between Windows 8 and Windows RT – and the associated hardware – is going to go a long way to reviving the Windows RT market as well as improving adoption rates for Windows 8.

Don’t get me wrong.  The one MAJOR feature I really like about Microsoft Surface Pro and my Dell Latitude 10 ST2 is its touch screen layer. It’s the business tablet that I wanted my iPad to be back when I first purchased it in late 2010. However, both Surface Pro and the Dell Latitude 10 ST2 are more ultrabook than tablets and the use cases I have for these machines don’t support content consumption so much as they do productivity and business content creation. Microsoft needs to recognize this and better market the hardware, operating systems and user interfaces to the appropriate hardware before its indecision and confused systems force it into an unrecoverable position.

Bugs and Issues

For the most part, Windows 8.1 seems pretty solid.  I haven’t run into any serious issues or problems with the OS just yet. If I have, I haven’t recognized what has been experienced as a bug or issue.  So the OS is pretty stable and in a good spot.

That’s not to say that the OS is bug free. It isn’t.  There are six (6) fixes slated for release on Tuesday 2013-07-09.

  1. One is a Windows Defender Definition update.
  2. Another fixes compatibility issues between Windows 8.1 and some third party desktop apps.
  3. One fixes a problem with Windows Store apps crashing immediately after launch.
  4. Another one “improves the robustness of data files in Windows 8.1” but doesn’t indicate what that means exactly.
  5. Another update resolves a bug that prevented Google account holders from signing in through some applications.
  6. The final update resolves an issue that kept IE 11 users from resuming interrupted or paused file downloads.

I’ve found two pretty big (at least I think so) issues related to Reading List and Mobile Hotspot support. I’m certain that MS has already been made aware of these issues, as the OS has been available as a preview for more than a week.  These issues are pretty obvious and connected to some of the bigger features in the OS.

If you’re up to the challenge, The Verge is reporting that Microsoft is offering up to $100k USD bug bounties.  That’s a lot of green for bug unique bug detection and reporting.

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