What Windows 10 SHOULD Be

Windows 10 is supposed to be Microsoft’s future…

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I’ve been using Windows 10 on my Surface Pro for a while now.  While I haven’t had many of the Explorer.exe crashes that others have been having, I have been banging on it hard enough to develop an opinion or two.

To be honest, so far… I’m not that impressed.  I know that Microsoft REALLY needs to hit a homerun here.  They’re pretty much betting the [relevance] farm on it.  If it tanks, it’s going to be a really bad 2015 in Redmond.  But that’s just me…  There’s a lot going on with Windows 10, and (un?)fortunately, we haven’t seen everything.

At least not yet…

To be honest, even though I have been covering the Microsoft ecosystem since 1997, and I’ve written a lot for media organizations like AOL/CompuServe, InformationWeek, Computer Power User Magazine, WUGNET – The Windows User’s Group Network and LockerGnome, among other online and international print publications, I still haven’t broken into that “insider,” inner circle like Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott, even though Paul and I worked together at WUGNET in the late 1990’s.

So when it comes to the inside track, I trust Paul and Mary Jo explicitly.  Period.

So again, while I wasn’t impressed with the current state of Windows 10, what I’m hearing from both Paul and Mary Jo is to sit tight.  According to Paul, Windows 10 is coming into focus.  His recent statements reminded me of what most everyone in the Windows Insider Program heard from the very beginning – what you see now, isn’t the final state of the software.

This is a good thing, because as I said, Windows 10 currently has “work in progress” stamped ALL over it.  The last formally released build – Build 9879 – was pretty much a train wreck.  For many Insiders, the OS crashed all the time, requiring them to reboot multiple times a day.  When Microsoft did release a fix, it wouldn’t install for many; and in many cases, users wouldn’t know if the patch install had failed until they looked at the Windows’ Update History to see which updates had successfully installed or had failed. The fact that the patch was continually presented over and over again as an available update *did* tip most of us off; but to be honest, it could also have been Microsoft issuing additional, related updates.

So, what is Microsoft wanting Windows 10 to be?  That’s simple – the future of their desktop and mobile platform.  Notice… I didn’t say, “platforms.”

Platform… as in singular.

Microsoft is looking to completely unify its portable (meaning tablet), mobile (meaning phone) and desktop experiences into a single OS that will only install and run the bits that are appropriate for the hardware its running on.  This convergence is a complete departure from over 30 years of business practice; and as such, they’re having the problems that most everyone is seeing in the (tech) news.

In fact, Larry Seltzer has a huge article detailing some real Microsoft Update Missteps that is worth a read.  Things are changing at Microsoft, and what’s going on with Windows 8.x and with some of the official and leaked builds of Windows 10 speaks to the many development related paradigm shifts going on over at Microsoft.

At least they’re trying to change.

However, with everything that’s happening – the Windows 8.x Update missteps, the buggy internal and external Windows 10 builds, the Surface Pro 3 Wi-Fi issues, many – me included – are wondering who is steering the Microsoft Release Management Ship.  At the very least, I think most are chalking this up to a change of CEO, but honestly, by this time, most of those hurdles should be cleared.

So, what does Microsoft need to Windows 10 to be..?

They need it to be a success. Windows 10 needs to be a unifying platform that doesn’t require all of the “legacy related, DOS-world” tweaking. It needs to just work out of the box, regardless of platform – tablet, phone or desktop.

Windows 10, more I think than Windows 7 did, needs to be sexy. It needs to lure users back to a user experience that provides a known, familiar feel, while providing a unified, POPULATED ecosystem where users can buy not only applications, but media content – audio, video and apps – without being totally disjointed. It needs a developer community that embraces it, with support from Microsoft as well as hardware vendors, alike.

Windows 10 needs to run Office 2010 and later – including Office 365 – without any burps or issues, as not everyone wants to upgrade or wants to buy a subscription to the productivity platform.

More than anything… Windows 10 needs to be dirt cheap. On the consumer side, that means free… as in zero dollars and zero cents.  On the enterprise side, Microsoft needs to figure out how to sell OS licensing that makes sense for IT departments who don’t jump on the newest version OS because they don’t want new, untested bits to tank their company’s productivity and profits.

Microsoft needs to look at service and support on both the consumer and enterprise side of the equation, and they need to figure out a better life cycle that ends support and moves people to the most current bits in a manner that doesn’t cause a massive revolt.  The OS needs to be solid, stable, and near bug free for those folks so they move without worry, and with confidence that, again – everything just works.

THAT kids… That’s a big order to fill.

However, I really think that if Microsoft doesn’t do it, and do it quickly, decisively and without any of the current drama, at least at some point, they’re going to force users into looking into alternatives.  That means, alternative platforms, alternative productivity tools, and internal servers, middleware and other enterprise related software.

Microsoft is sitting on the edge of a very sharp knife named, “Change.”  If they don’t embrace it and do its bidding, I think they’re really risking a LOT.

What do you think?  Have you used Windows 10?  Are you a Windows 8.x user experiencing update confusion and issues?  Are you considering a move to Windows 10?  Will you stay on Windows 7 until they pry it out of your cold, dead fingers (or until you buy a new PC and HAVE to take it)?  Or, will you simply move to another computing platform like Linux or Mac?

Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and give me your thoughts on the whole thing. I’d love to hear what you have to say, and to see if I’m on target, or all wet…

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Windows 10 Features – Much ado about… Nothing?

What’s all the fuss about Windows 10 core features..?

Windows 10

Over the past few days I’ve seen a few articles on Windows 10 cool and unknown features; and while I will spend a few moments going over some of the bigger stuff of note in the upcoming OS, quite honestly… I’m wondering what all the hullaballoo is about.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that Microsoft’s marketing machine has to pump up the volume on Windows 10 somehow. Unfortunately, they can’t simply go with:

Windows 10 – It doesn’t suck like Windows 8 did.

So yeah… they have to say SOMETHING positive about it that doesn’t speak to just the code tweaks and optimizations that you’re going to find under the hood. Unfortunately, Windows 10 really IS all about not sucking like Windows 8…which, by the way only sucked because the UI – or User Interface – was so horrible. If you could get past that, Windows 8 ran well and would run on a LOT of budget class, legacy hardware.

The vision for Windows 8 was to be a bridging OS that got users used to the idea that computing was shifting away from a post 1990’s traditional, put a program in a movable box on a screen, metaphor to one that really tried to embrace tablet computing.

That’s one of the reasons why Microsoft Surface Pro exists – to help users find a way to have their tablet and [eat] it too. Microsoft’s thought was, “well, users want to compute on a tablet… we can give them a tablet form factor if they want one. We have the whole slate TabletPC thing that kinda tanked about 10 years ago; and THAT kinda looks like an iPad…just a lot bigger and bulkier… If we thin it down and shrink it down a bit and then MAKE a detachable keyboard that goes WITH it (one of the BEST ideas with Surface Pro, by the way…) we can pocket the 3rd party dollars there along with the device sale.”

Whaddya think Stevie B.?

It was a good idea, but unfortunately, the execution didn’t match the vision, and the whole bridging OS thing really went over like a fart in an elevator. In other words, it really stunk up the joint and people ran (not walked) and in some cases, pealed back the proverbial steel plating on the “elevator” to get off. Many of us in the tech sector had the words, “Metro Sucks” tattooed on the inside of our eyelids and spent a lot of time with them closed, shaking our heads wondering why Microsoft ticked off their established enterprise and consumer user bases with a confusing, UGLY and productivity shifting interface that not only made it hard to get anything done, but totally changed the way you HAD to work with a standard, desktop computer.

 But, again… I digress…

Anyway, as I said over the past few days, I’ve seen a few articles on Windows 10 features and while there’s some “nice” things in there, there may only be one or two of the 10-15 or so things that people are touting as awesome that may make ANY kind of a difference to anyone outside of the Microsoft Marketing department.

I’ve been running and testing nearly EVERY beta version of Windows on all of my production Windows machines since Windows 95 (so, for almost 20 years, now…) and I’ve seen stellar UI changes… I’ve seen great feature implementations… and I have to tell ya I’m lookin’ at all of this stuff in the Windows 10 Technical Preview and I’m thinking…

 Meh…

Some of what we’re seeing is definitely a rethinking or reworking of stuff that didn’t quite make the impact that it was intended to make. The Start Screen and the reinstated Start Button and (more importantly) reinstated Start Menu are some good examples. People absolutely HATED the Start Screen and DEMANDED their Start Button back. When they said that, everyone ALSO meant the Start Menu, but Microsoft decided to play stupid on that and only brought back the BUTTON in Windows 8.x.

When the world saw that, they called “bullshit” and gave Microsoft the big, “c’mahn…! You KNOW we meant MENU and not JUST the button..!” schpiel , but for some reason, all we got from Redmond initially was the big, wide spread armed, “WHAT?!? We gave you what you asked for…” response, which caused us to give Microsoft the “crossed armed, head tilted to the right, raised eyebrow silent treatment” that said, “Really..??”

So Microsoft is giving us the Start Menu back, but said, “okokokokokok… but you gotta give us a bit to put it back.” Its actually coming back as part of Windows 10. So, without any further kibitzing… here are the features and some of the hidden features of note <chuckle> in windows 10.

Improved and Expanded Start Menu

So, yeah… as I mentioned, the Start Menu is coming back; but its not the Start Menu that you remember from back in the day. Microsoft can’t seem to let the Live Tile thing go on the desktop, so they gimished the two of them together and we get an improved Start Menu (as you can quickly and easily pin, remove and customize items on it) but you also get the ability to pin Live Tiles to it.

Live Tiles work VERY well on Windows Phone devices. In fact, some will argue that the Windows Phone UI, with all of its Live Tiles, is perhaps one of the BEST mobile interfaces available today. You get updates, information and what you need from it and all you have to do, really, is turn on the phone. (Honestly, this would work on a tablet device as well… IF Microsoft could have let go of the Desktop computing metaphor on their RT based tablets and just gone with the Windows Phone interface approach there, and then maybe they wouldn’t have taken the $1B USD write off on all those unsold RT tablets; BUT again… I digress)

So, yeah, you get the ability to have both Live Tiles and shortcuts on the Start Menu and can now easily customize it; and while this is totally cool, its nothing really to whoop and holler about, ya know?

Oh, you also get the ability to pin the Recycle Bin on not only the Start Menu, but the Task bar as well… However, in order to get it on the Task Bar, you have to first pin it to the Start Menu and then drag and drop it from there to the Task Bar…which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

I’m also a bit fuzzy on why this is so important…or cool… In order to delete items from somewhere on the PC, you have to either drag and drop it to the shortcut on the desktop, or pick it in File Explorer and hit the delete key on the keyboard/ right click and choose delete from the context menu. I’m not certain how putting the Recycle Bin on the Start Menu or Task Bar gets you anything important… Maybe someone can pop a comment in, below, and share the cool factor with the rest of us who are scratching their heads…

Run Store apps and Desktop apps simultaneously

With Windows 10, all apps can run in a window, or can run full screen. This is much like what Stardock Software’s ModernMix does. Its been running MetroUI apps in a window for a few years.

However, now, you can do this and run those applications side by side, natively. Its nice, but quite honestly, it’s a small step for computing kind. Especially since the app from Stardock started allowing this to happen shortly after Windows 8 hit the market, making the transition to Windows 8 a bit easier than without it.

Task View Button

The Task view Button in Windows 10 is really a “view all the virtual desktops you have” button. I understand that its now removable from the Task Bar. I don’t like virtual desktops because I don’t like having to cycle through a lot of open apps. If I do, ALT-TAB has always worked for me and I’m really good with just that quick, keyboard shortcut and familiar tool. See… this is why Bill invented “minimize and maximize/restore” for program windows. You can pretty much clean and clear up your active desktop just by minimizing stuff you need open, but aren’t working with just now.

However, I know I’m not EVERY use case out there, and some people may find this feature of value. If you want to put your music apps on one, photography/picture apps on another, I get it. I get it… However, I wouldn’t call this an “A list” feature…ever.

Multitasking with Enhanced Snap View

Snap is a new feature as of Windows 8 that allows you to place windows side by side in a way that allows you to evenly tile windows on your display. In Windows 10, the number of windows that can be snapped has been doubled to four windows. Windows that are snapped are evenly and equally placed on the screen.

What’s strange to me is that you could always do something like this by tiling windows across your screen. I’ve been doing it since Windows 3.x… However Snap does it without having to execute any kind of strange command, and your Windows don’t start off unevenly proportioned. So, if you have a large enough display and up to four programs that you need to swap data in and out of, it can be a huge time saver, I guess.

Snap Assist

Snap Assist is used as part of Snap View. It helps you snap windows into place and then resize the windows that get placed on your screen. The problem with Snap and Snap Assist is that it doesn’t work well with small screens.

Continuum for Windows (2-in-1 devices)

Interestingly enough, perhaps the biggest and most interesting feature that Windows 10 is going to provide hasn’t hit the streets yet. Windows 10 will work on just about any device that was able to run Windows 8.x, and will especially work well on any and all Surface Pro devices.

With Surface Pro and similar devices, Microsoft is creating a new kind of mode that will allow Windows to function as both a content consumption device as well as a tablet. Its called Continuum; and what it does is allows Windows 10 to change UI’s when a keyboard is attached to a device like Surface Pro 1/2/3. When the keyboard is reattached, the UI switches back to a traditional desktop UI. ModernUI apps will function full screen as they do in Windows 8 when the keyboard is removed and then will function in a Window when the keyboard is reattached.

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Microsoft Acquires Acompli

…and now they have a cool mobile email app.

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When a company doesn’t really have a US focused mobile device strategy – and let’s face it… Microsoft really doesn’t – things can get a bit stressful. Yes. You’re right… Windows Phones exist. Yes. I have one. No, it obviously ISN’T my daily driver; but you also have to understand one thing – Microsoft’s target market for all of its Windows Phone is NOT the United States (or other First World countries).

Microsoft isn’t making high end Windows Phones any longer. They have instead decided to concentrate their efforts on Third World countries. Very quickly, here’s why that’s very smart
1. There’s no way they are going to overtake Android or iOS devices in any kind of market share race. They just don’t have the legs to do it. Both Android and iOS are too firmly well established to nudge out of the way.
2. Microsoft’s Mobile strategy is still largely unknown. Without any real presence in the US, we’re left to people like Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott and to give us any kind of clue on what Microsoft is going to do with itself in the mobile space.

Let’s face it… even though the Surface Pro 3 may be an interesting ultrabook, Microsoft has no real content consumption device or smartphone that it can really point to or rely on in any of the markets that will either garner a lot of press or a lot of money via flagship sales. They want to concentrate on third world sales, and while that WILL perhaps produce a lot of global share, in the markets that really drive innovation and enterprise sales – First World markets – they’ve got next to nothing…

So, to help address that issue, early on during the morning of 2014-12-01, Microsoft announced it had acquired the email app developer Acompli for somewhere in the neighborhood of $200M USD.

The acquisition is a good move for Microsoft on a number of different fronts. They acquired not only the app and its IP, but also the people that coded it. Acompli has a really good Exchange interface on both iOS and Android devices, and they plug a hole where something is CLEARLY missing from Microsoft’s mobile Office Suite – Outlook.

Microsoft doesn’t have an “Outlook Mobile App” to speak of on either iOS or Android before this acquisition. According to Rajesh Jha, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Outlook and Office 365, “This acquisition brings us an app with innovative technology and a set of talented people who are passionate about reinventing email and communications on mobile screens. It will expedite our work to deliver the full power of Office to mobile devices.”

It’s clear that Microsoft is intending Acompli to be “Outlook mobile.” How the app is rebranded or actually integrated into their newly forming mobile suite for iOS and Android is yet to be totally understood. However, one would think that users would see something for those mobile suites sooner rather than later…if not before they intend to release the “touch” version of Microsoft Office for their Surface and Surface Pro tablets, currently codenamed Gemini.

This is a developing story, and I intend to follow up with either an update or a new post if something interesting comes to light. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, what do you think of this development? Do you use Acompli? How badly do you feel “Outlook mobile” is either missing or is needed on the iOS and Android side of the world? Why don’t you join me in the discussion area and let me know what you think?

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Convert your DVD’s to any video format with TDMore DVD Converter

Convert your DVD’s to any video format with this handy Windows tool.
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I don’t know about you, but I have an absolutely HUGE DVD collection.  I’ve got DVD’s. I’ve got Blu-rays.  I’ve got movies coming out of my ears…and I absolutely love them all. All of them; but I have a huge problem. I’m running out of physical storage space for all of them.  Literally.  I’m really struggling to find a place to store even one more physical jewel case. Its probably for this reason alone that I really love applications like TDMore DVD Converter..  It’s a DVD converter for Windows, and if it can help me…it can help you, too.

TDMore DVD Converter is a versatile DVD converter and ripper that helps users quickly and efficiently convert DVD’s.  With it, you can convert DVDs to MP4, MKV, WMV, FLV, AVI, VOB, TS among other video formats.  You can also convert 2D to 3D video in MP4, MKV, WMV, TS, AVI formats.  If you’re into the audio tracks, you can convert your DVD’s to MP3, WAV, AAC, FLAC, M4A as well as other audio formats.

The app uses some pretty advanced compression power to get the job done. It uses H.265 HEVC.  That gives it the ability to shrink both audio and video down to about 50% of its actual size without losing any quality during playback.  That means that the files should work very nicely on your smartphone, tablet, or anywhere else you have a finite amount of non-upgradable storage (like many of the more popular ultrabooks and other notebooks on the market today as well).  Speaking of working with today’s popular hardware, the app has integrated NVIDIA’s CUDA and Intel’s Quick Sync technologies to dramatically reduce conversion times without skimping on playback quality.

The new version of TDMore DVD Converter can provide amazing functions as other popular software with the most reasonable price. For more information, please visit official website.

TDMore DVD Converter is a decent app. Its easy to use and has supports some really cool technology built into it that allows it to create some really small video conversions.  The big problem with this app, however, is its non-standard user interface.  The problem here is PC based performance after the conversion starts.

The app does all right with its own functionality.  The PC does ok on its own, but not every PC will handle multi-tasks ok.  Now, that’s not necessarily a specific problem with THIS app on mid-range to high-end PC, but on low-end or budget based PC’s, it may be; AND the non-standard app graphical interface doesn’t help.

TDMore DVD Converter does a really great job converting movies. On my PC, it was fast and quick and PC performance didn’t tank; but then again, I have a quad-core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM. Other PC’s may not fare as well as mine; but the end result on the ripped movie will be really great.

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Microsoft Borks OneDrive in Windows 10 Preview Update

Sometimes when it ain’t broke, you have to fix it…or not.

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I saw an interesting article on ITWorld by fellow technology journalist Gregg Keizer and it confirmed what I had suspected had happened in the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9879 – Microsoft changed the way OneDrive works.

With services like Dropbox and Google Drive – as well as OneDrive – files that you upload that you place in the service’s home folder on your PC, upload to the service. This is how everyone expects the service to work.

Files that you upload to the service via the website, are uploaded to the service; but may not be downloaded to every computer you have OneDrive installed. Believe it or not, this is how the service was originally designed to work, even in Windows 8.

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft used placeholders on your PC to represent files that you have stored in OneDrive. These files weren’t actually on your PC, but were effectively shortcuts to them, on OneDrive. When you searched your PC for a file, you found either the actual file because it was on the drive, or you found a place holder. Double clicking the file, obviously opened the file. Double clicking the placeholder downloaded the file to your PC, opened it in the default program and then kept the file on your PC. Users had to learn the difference between a place holder and a file, but it really only mattered when they were off line. When online, you may have noticed a small delay in opening the file because you had to download it; but depending on your broadband connection, it may not have been noticeable.

Users really didn’t notice the difference between a place holder and the actual file. The place holder looked like a file, had a thumb nail like a file and got you the data you were looking for when you double clicked it (if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…). While slightly different than Dropbox and Google Drive, it did save local storage space; and the whole thing was largely transparent to users.

In Windows 10, things are a bit different. OneDrive now uses Selective Sync, by default and has killed the place holders. Now…to be fair, nearly ALL cloud file storage services can use selective sync, or the process of ONLY synching the files that you actually want on your local PC, while everything else stays up in the cloud. The problem with this is that if you want to work on a file that isn’t on your PC, you first have to search your PC (to confirm that you do or do not have the data you want or need) and then go online and search your cloud based file store for the file you want.

All the other services have this Selective Sync as an advanced setup option. Microsoft has it turned on by default, doesn’t tell you, and then makes you search your online file store a second time for the data you’re looking for.

Microsoft also totally failed to tell anyone they were making this kind of drastic change to the way OneDrive works.

As you might suspect, users are a bit ticked off.

When users search for files in Windows 10 Build 9879 they may not find the file they are looking for and may not understand that the file is ON OneDrive, but just not ON their PC.

In response to the outcry, Microsoft’s Ning Jin-Grisaffi has responded to these concerns with both an explanation of the problem and a small description of the solution.

The problem as he describes it was that “[Microsoft was] not happy with how [they had] built placeholders, and [they] got clear feedback that some customers were confused (for example, with files not being available when offline), and that some applications didn’t work well with placeholders and that sync reliability was not where we needed it to be.”

(Frankly, the first part of this, I consider BS. That last part, where apps didn’t work right with place holders, might carry a bit of weight though…”

The solution is a bit more complicated than just reimplementing or turning place holders back on. Microsoft is making a serious business change to OneDrive. They are combining the backend consumer service engine with the OneDrive for Business service engine, in part to insure that it can handle everyone’s unlimited storage from both sides of the service (consumer and business).

Microsoft is also adding in additional capabilities. In order to do that, they had to remake the service and had to basically tear it down to build it back up. According to Jin-Grisaffi, the OneDrive experience in Windows 10 Build 9879 is the first iteration of this redesign. Microsoft may not bring back place holders, but it he says they WILL “bring back the key features of place holders.” Eventually, you will be able to search your files and find both those that are and are not physically on your local hard drive. It’s just going to take time.

So, let me say this – hold your horses.

Apple did a similar thing with iWork when it totally killed all of its advanced features. If you recall, that caused a huge outcry, too. Like Apple, Microsoft WILL make sure that all of the capabilities that everyone was happy with will come back to OneDrive. Apparently, it’s going to take a few iterations.

If you want to see the improvements to the service faster during the Technical Preview, you can always choose to receive preview builds faster. To do so, follow these steps:

Open PC Settings
In the list on the left hand side of the screen choose, Update and recovery
In the Update and recovery section, choose Preview builds
In the drop down, choose Fast as your delivery method
Click the Check Now button.

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If a new build is available on the Fast track, you can download and install it. The build will download in the back ground, so you don’t need to baby sit it. You can go on about your work. When it finishes, you can come back to the Preview builds PC Settings page and tap the install button. Just make certain that your PC is plugged in during the install so that it doesn’t sleep or die during the update.

What do you think about the whole OneDrive system change? What would you tell Microsoft do to do change or improve the service? Why not sound off in the Discussion area below and let me know your thoughts?

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Windows 10 – If you Love it, Set it Free

Some thing that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade

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Over the past 20 plus years, Microsoft has made a great deal of money with both Windows and Office. In fact, those two products alone have given the company a great deal of freedom to pursue other products and technologies. Without either Windows or Office, Microsoft wouldn’t exist… Period.

When it comes to consumers, keeping everyone on the same page, has been a huge problem for Apple as well as Microsoft. Apple addressed their OS based issues and now has a plan to get their users on the latest version at all times.

Microsoft doesn’t have such a plan, and really needs a strategy. They may be doing that with Windows 10. Some think that they are planning on giving Windows 10 away to consumers for free.

If they do, it makes a great deal of sense. Many consumers NEVER upgrade their computer’s operating system. Their PC came with operating system N. It should always have operating system N, and they don’t want to change it. They purchased it because it has specific features and functions provided by hardware integrated with features in that OS. They may not have those features if they change their operating systems, and therefore, don’t want to lose them. They may also not be a big fan of change; or feel they are technically competent enough to upgrade or change the OS on their computer. Whatever the reason, many people don’t change their OS, which creates support issues for the PC manufacturer and (in this case) Microsoft.

While changing a computer’s operating system may not be at the top of every computer user’s list, keeping it current can make a user’s life a lot easier. Keeping current makes your PC more secure as well as better performing. So, its good for consumers.

Making updates and upgrades available to consumers free of charge can create a lot of difficulty, however, especially for hardware manufacturers who have historically relied on new OS versions to jumpstart consumer PC sales.

However, a free Windows is an idea whose time has come. The problem that they have is the frequency of updates. Most everyone is used to getting a new version of Windows on an annual basis. We’re also used to getting new updates or fixes from Microsoft every month on Patch Tuesday. For this to work, the frequency of updates has to be one that is palatable to the people receiving those updates.

Businesses don’t like monthly updates. Updates to business PC’s at that frequency create too much disruption. However, consumer PC’s represent a less disruptive path, and updates at that frequency are far less worrisome, if not desired. Consumers get everything that Microsoft releases every Patch Tuesday.

The enterprise, however, will have a bit of a different cadence. Enterprise customers will get all of the updates at the same time as consumer customers. They’ll have the ability to package all of the updates together and then release them at their convenience as a stake in the ground with a shelf life of 10 years. They’ll be able to use that stake in the ground for as long as they need or want. If they lock themselves in (to that stake in the ground), they’ll continue to get security updates, but their feature set won’t get updated unless and until they remove the stake in the ground.

In the end, though, support and the updates for corporate customers will cost them. In the end, support and updates for consumers – those that are using the most up to date versions of Windows – should be free.

What do you think? Should Windows be free for consumers? Should they be able to get all security updates as well as new features and functionality free of charge? Should corporate customers have to pay for everything? Why don’t you chime in the comments section below, and let me know what you think.

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Microsoft Launches Windows 10 Technical Preview

“But this one goes up to [10]..!”

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Introduction

I’ve been working with Windows for quite some time. I was one of Microsoft’s first technical beta testers, WAY back in the day. In fact, I still have a Microsoft Account with one of the ORIGINAL @.msn.com addresses. It goes back to the Windows 95 and MSN Online betas from 1994-1995. MSN Online was Microsoft’s answer to AOL. The address is still active and used today.

I’ve been interested in Windows based tablets and TabletPC since the early 2000’s. TabletPC showed a lot of promise, but like so many things in technology, it was a bit before its time. Convertible TabletPC’s took off, but slate styled TabletPC’s (the form factor that was the precursor to the iPad and ever version of Surface and Surface Pro Windows based tablets), did not.

In fact, slate styled TabletPC’s were a total failure. The idea would eventually take root after Apple came a long with the iPad and showed us what a tablet could really do, but slate styled TabletPC’s are yet another example of technology introduced way before its time.

Microsoft Introduced Windows 8 in 2012 and like Windows Vista, the public – as well as the enterprise – completely rejected it. I think that the public and the corporate world disliked Vista because it was a performance dud. I think the public and corporate world HATED Windows 8 because the user interface changes were so drastically different from Windows XP and Windows 7 that they just couldn’t get used to it and be productive with it.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be looking at Windows 10 Technical Preview. I’ll be taking a look at both the Consumer and Enterprise versions, though in all honestly, without a AD server set up and running, I’m not going to be able to do too much evaluating on the enterprise side. The situation that I thought I might be in didn’t come through, and my look at some of the more corporate tools may not materialize as I’d hoped. However, I’m going to try…

I’ll be looking at the Consumer version on my Dell Latitude 10 ST2 tablet and the Enterprise version on my Surface Pro 1. Today, I’m going to talk about Setup.

Setting up Windows 10

There are a few different versions of the Windows 10 family available. Most people who get involved, will have the Windows 10 Technical Preview. IT Professionals will have access to the Windows 10 Technical Preview for Enterprise as well as the Windows Server Technical Preview, the windows Server Technical Preview (VHD), the Microsoft Hyper-V Server Technical Preview and the System Center Technical Preview.

Now, just for everyone’s information, here are the descriptions for the last few items:

• Microsoft System Center solutions help IT pros manage the physical and virtual information technology (IT) environments across datacenters, client computers, and devices. Using these integrated and automated management solutions, organizations can be more productive service providers to their businesses.
• Microsoft Hyper-V, formerly known as Windows Server Virtualization, is a native hypervisor; it can create virtual machines on x86-64 systems. Starting with Windows 8, Hyper-V supersedes Windows Virtual PC as the hardware virtualization component of the client editions of Windows NT.
• Windows Server (VHD) is simply the Windows 10 Server, but running from a Virtual Hard Disk.

With all of that said, Let’s get into the specifics of installing Windows 10 Technical Preview.

Microsoft Surface 1

Setting up Windows 10 Technical Preview up on my Surface Pro 1 was easy. I chose the 64bit version, downloaded the ISO file, burned it to a DVD and ran the setup file. After that, installing Office Professional Plus 2013 was super easy. Everything seems to be running correctly and working as intended. While I know there are some touch enabled features that aren’t quite there at this point, what I’m seeing so far looks solid.

What’s going to be key here is the balance of Windows 7 and Windows 8 styled interfaces that create what is supposed to be Windows 10. Specifically, what we’re looking to see here is how well MetroUI or ModernUI is hidden, removed or modified to provide a more user acceptable UI.

This is a wait and see development that I will be examining over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more on this, as well as Microsoft Windows 10.

Dell Latitude 10 ST2 Windows 8 Pro Tablet

Wow.

This is clearly an example of all computers/ tablets are NOT created equally. I’ve been trying to install Windows 10 on this tablet now for about 3 days. It hasn’t gone well at all. I have no idea what is wrong, or what is going on.

First of all, I tried to install the 64bit version. Huge mistake, as the ST2 tablet is a 32bit device. Seeing as setup wouldn’t even start, I had asked my good friend, Larry Seltzer how he got it installed on his ST2 and he reminded me that the Dell as a 32bit machine. So, back to downloading I went.

After I got the right version installed, I decided that I wanted the Enterprise version installed, so I grabbed it, burned it to a DVD and then installed it, completely wiping the tablet in the process. Big mistake…

I’m not sure what the issue is with the Enterprise version on this tablet, but it wasn’t very well liked by this unit. I wasn’t able to install any software on it, including Office Professional Plus 2013. The install routine would get about 35-40% through and simply stall. I let the app sit there “running” for more than 16 hours, and it never budged. In total, I’ve tried to get Office installed on this tablet for about 2.5 days. Its not been fun or encouraging.

I think I’m running into some hardware issues. I’m not sure if the processor isn’t completely supported, if there’s a graphics problem or WHAT else might be causing the install routine to go out to lunch, but this is really ticking me off. I have no idea why things are stalling in the middle of the install routine.

The only way I’ve been able to kill the stalled install routine is to turn off the device. That however, preserves the install state of the Office install, and when you try to restart it, it must first remove the changes made by the PREVIOUS install before it can continue, giving the unit yet another chance to have the install stall

I checked the Dell Support Page for this model and I do have a BIOS update available for it. There is also a relatively new chipset driver update that is available. I’m going to try the BIOS update first and then see if the chipset drivers will install or help if the BIOS update doesn’t resolve the issue. I was five BIOS versions behind…

This could also be an issue where the support files for the ST2 just aren’t really there yet. Honestly, I have no idea why I’m having issues and Larry Seltzer didn’t. We have the same device. I’ll keep everyone posted on this.

In the mean time, do you have any questions or concerns about Windows 10 that you’d like me to look into for you, please let me know and I’ll be happy to get the info and then report back to everyone. In the mean time, I’m going to go grab a crowbar and see if I can’t get everything installed on the Dell that I want and need to get installed. This is getting to be a bit on the silly side…

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Windows 8 is the New Windows Vista

Microsoft on Windows 8 – You don’t see anything…

Windows8 is the new Windows Vista

I think it’s safe for nearly anyone and everyone to say and agree that Windows 8.x is a total train wreck. That’s sad, because it isn’t the OS itself that’s horrible, it’s just Metro, or what Microsoft officially calls “ModernUI” (though I fail to see much that’s “modern” about it. It’s very similar to Windows 1.0 in look and feel…). Microsoft is officially looking forward to putting Windows 8 far, behind it, much as they did with Windows Vista.

When Windows 7 was released, Microsoft went on a huge media blitz. They contracted with a company called, House Party – a company that does classic “Tupperware” styled parties for just about everything – to help them get people across the country to host Windows 7 Launch Parties. If you were chosen to host one, you got a party kit, which included a free Windows 7 license so you could demo the new OS and talk up its new features. I actually got a local newspaper – The Aurora Beacon – to help with the coverage and started a 12 week freelancing stint with them where I started off with a cool series on Setting up Windows 7 for the first time. In the end, they really did great job on moving the limelight away from Windows Vista – the old and busted – to Windows 7 – the new hotness.

Microsoft would very much like to repeat that kind of activity with similar results. In fact, I’d wager that their tactics will be nearly identical. They’ll do anything and everything they can to make the public forget Windows 8.x, and especially MetroUI.

For example, in the months leading up to Windows 7’s release, Microsoft did everything it could to make users forget about Windows Vista. All formal communications released from Microsoft either downplayed the former OS release and/ or played up the new OS release. Microsoft did everything it could to help users forget that Windows Vista ever existed.

For Windows 8, it’s going to be a little more difficult, but in the end the results will be the same. Microsoft has one more major update to Windows 8.1 scheduled for release on 2014-08-12. Windows 8.1 Update 2 (or whatever they end up calling) was supposed to be the update that had the new, revamped Start Menu in it. However, that update was pulled from the release many months ago and will instead come as part of Threshold, largely believed to be called, Windows 9. New – read reinstated – Start Menu with a revamped – read MetroUI removed – user interface, plus some other, yet to be announced, features = new version of Windows that Microsoft hopes everyone will embrace. In an effort to help that, Microsoft will likely have little to no press or released information about the 2014-08-12 Patch Tuesday and the release of Windows 8.1 Update 2 (if, in fact, that is what it called).

Another tactic, as noted by ComputerWorld would be to change the naming convention of the next version of Windows. As I stated above, the next version of Windows is rumored to be called Windows 9. When Microsoft released Windows 7, instead of giving it a name – like XP or Vista – Microsoft instead switched to a numeral based designation. They did this because XP was the OS that just wouldn’t die no matter how hard they tried and Vista was the marketing and sales thud heard round the world. Since Windows 8 is just as much of a dud as Windows Vista is, Microsoft may decide to remake the brand entirely and leave the numeric designations behind.

Perhaps they’ll move back to a product name. The next version of Windows is codenamed, “Threshold.” So, for example, calling it Windows Threshold, or something else may help Microsoft move away from the failure of Windows 8. Perhaps they’ll return to a year designation like they did with Windows 98 and Windows 2000 and call this version of Windows, “Windows 2015,” as the OS is supposed to become available for download and distribution in the early Spring of 2015.

Whatever its name, Microsoft is going to have to put some heavy marketing capitol behind it in order to reduce and remove the market share that Windows 8 has. Windows 7 had three to four years of exclusivity before Microsoft started talking up Windows 8.x. Microsoft is hoping to bury Windows 8 after only 2-3 years of exclusivity. Yes… it’s really that bad for Windows 8.x.

(BTW, it’s not the OS itself that’s bad, just MetroUI, which unfortunately, is nearly everywhere within the OS. While you can’t get away from it, with tools like Stardock’s Start8, and other very cheap utilities, you can nearly turn Windows 8 into a Windows 7 look alike. The OS in and of itself, is fast, optimized, and it will run on cheaper, more affordable hardware. That means your older notebooks and netbooks can use it too, extending their value and life.)

Some pundits – as well as many people in the tech circles that I frequent – that are talking about this issue are saying that Microsoft needs to do something spectacular to help remove Windows 8 from the annals of history. Some feel that giving away Threshold may be the best way to do that. Those that ARE saying that are calling that the, “smart thing to do.”

Nearly every version of every distribution of Linux is free to end users. Apple is making OS X Yosemite free to all Mavericks users. For Microsoft to continue to charge end users for upgrades and new versions is becoming problematic. Only Macs can run OS X, but nearly every Windows machine can run Linux, and their user interfaces are becoming more and more Windows-like and end-user friendly than they were before. With online versions of Microsoft Office and other online office suites that run on any and every OS that has a web browser, a compelling reason to pay for Windows on your PC is quickly disappearing, despite any reasoning behind Microsoft’s One Windows vision and streamlining.

What do you think of all of this? Is Windows 8 a boat anchor drowning Microsoft and holding them back? Should they do their best to erase it from history as they did with Windows Vista? Should they give Threshold away? Let me know in the Discussion area, below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the whole issue.

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