Why I Ultimately Dumped my Surface Pro 3

There comes a time when enough, is just enough…

Surface pro 3

Its hard to know where to start with this one.  I’ve been a Windows guy for so long – nearly 20 years – that in the end… I feel like I abandoned my post, or something.  However, there comes a time when you know you’ve fought the good fight and that you just can’t fight any more. I never thought I would ever say this, but personally, I really think I’m done with Windows and Windows 10. So much so, that I’ve sold my Surface Pro 3.

Over the past year, I’ve written a bit on how much of a problem OneNote and Windows 10 can be together. Funny thing is, I thought it was limited to Office 2013.  Unfortunately, its not.

Even with OneNote 2016 ink still disappears on all Surface Pro tablets running both Windows 10 and OneNote.

I’ve also noticed that while things should be getting more and more stable on Windows 10, they aren’t.  They just aren’t.  Not on my Surface Pro 3.

And to be quite honest, I was willing to live with it. I was going to figure out some way to work through it. I wasn’t going to be easy, but I was resigned to it, in a sense.

That is until I found this thread.

This is not going to end during the life cycle of this device. Period.

The problem exists on the Surface Pro 4. Though it’s a bit different, it’s the same type of problem.

It became clear to me after reading through that thread, that its not going to end. So… I sold my Surface Pro 3. What have I replaced it with?

Nothing yet.

Honestly, I’m not certain what I should do at this point.

The Surface Pro line is proving to be a bit unstable and honestly, unreliable for what I need it to do.  Its also a bit more expensive than I want or need it to be.  I am looking for a way to take hand written, notes in meetings.  The Surface Pro 3 was perfect for that, to a point. It ran OneNote 2013 well enough.

So why not return my Surface Pro 3 to Windows 8.1?  That’s a fair question…

There are really two big issues here:

  1. Windows 8.1 is Clumsy
    Windows 8.1 still has the Windows 8 UI. While there are apps like Start8 and ModernMix that can help hide some of the issues and problems; but its really just a coat of paint for both the Start Screen and ModernUI based apps, nothing more.
  2. Windows 10 isn’t Going Away
    Microsoft is getting aggressive with Windows 10. Their Windows 10 upgrade stub that installs as part of a Windows Update component.  While you can defer it for a while, its going to do its best to assert itself on your computer. I’m not entirely certain you can say no forever. I may be wrong – I hope I am – but it may be true.The OS has been downloading to computers without the consent of their owners. It could install itself overnight, also without their consent.

I thought long and hard about just taking my Surface Pro 3 back to Windows 8.1 and just using Office 2013 or Office 2016 (and ultimately OneNote) there. However, in the end, I decided against that, largely because of number 2, above.

So, out the door it went.  I just wasn’t willing to deal with its problems and issues any longer. I had had enough.

At the end, when I went to take my Surface Pro 3 back to Factory fresh with Windows 10, I had all sorts of trouble, too. Windows 10 would not reset itself on my Surface Pro 3.  Most of the time, it prepped itself and then simply restarted and went back to my Windows 10 account. When I tried to use the Advanced Restart Settings – which booted to the UEFI where you can also refresh, reset and even wipe the drive if you wanted – my Surface Pro 3 froze when trying to reset itself… more than once (I know because it sat at that screen for over three hours each time I tried. I tried three times…).

I had to pull the Windows 8.1 recovery USB I made many months ago and use it; and even then, it wasn’t smooth sailing with that either. I had trouble resetting the device with that too. I had to try ore than once with it, and then ultimately I had to wipe the drive to get MY data off when it sold.

What does this mean for you?

Probably not too much, unless you’re having similar ink and stability issues with Windows 10 on your Surface Pro device (the thread that I’ve been referencing with disappearing ink has a couple posts in it which indicate that it also happens with the original Surface Pro and the Surface Pro 2 as well).

If you are, then you have some kind of decision to make – either put up with it, stay on or move back to Windows 8.1, or sell yours, like I did.

Do you have a Surface Pro device?  Are you having issues with disappearing ink?  Is yours unstable?  Are you using Windows 8.1 or Windows 10? Are you using Office 2013 or Office 2016? Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and give me your thoughts on this and tell me what you think you’re going to do?

Related Posts:

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Build 10576 to Fast Ring Insiders

The latest build of Windows 10 has been issued. Here’s what it’s got…

Windows10mic

If you’ve been following me over the past year, you know that I’ve been a Microsoft Windows 10 Insider since the first released build of Windows 10 to Insiders back in October of 2014. Over the past year or so, there’s been a boat load of new builds released to the Fast Ring. Some have been good.  Others… not so good.

While the jury is still out on the quality of Windows 10 Build 10576, it is the next item up for bids…

New Features

  • Media Casting in Microsoft Edge: You can now use Microsoft Edge to cast video, picture, and audio content from your browser to any Miracast and DLNA enabled device on your network. Please note: Casting protected content (content from places like Netflix and Hulu) is not supported.
  • Ask Cortana inside PDFs in Microsoft Edge: You can now highlight text while reading a PDF in Microsoft Edge and right-click to “Ask Cortana” to find additional information.
  • Updated Xbox beta app for Windows 10: The Xbox beta app for Windows 10 was updated last Friday which includes the ability to easily find and add Facebook friends who are also on Xbox Live to play, chat, and share clips – a top requested feature. In addition to that new feature, voiceover recording functionality has been added to Game DVR, and the Store in the Xbox beta app will allow you to search for and purchase Xbox One games – including Games with Gold and Deals with Gold promotions, and Xbox One 25-digit codes will be redeemable within the app.

Fixes

  • We fixed the issue where the Xbox app for Windows 10 would consume gigabytes of memory on your PC if you have any Win32 games (non -Windows Store games) installed on your PC that have been identified as games or added by you in the Xbox app.
  • We introduced an early preview of nested virtualization so that people could run Hyper-V Containers in Hyper-V virtual machines with Build 10565. This build includes performance improvements.
  • We’ve been addressing a lot of feedback around localization text UI in various languages and you’ll see a lot of that work in this build.
  • The search box should now work in this build if you are in a locale where Cortana is not available.

Known Issues:

  • To continue receiving missed call notifications and send texts from Cortana, you will need to be on this build and higher. We’ve made a change that improves this experience that requires newer builds.
  • When notifications pop up from Action Center, any audio playing (like music from Groove, or videos from the Movies & TV app) gets reduced by 75% for a period of time.
  • After upgrading to this build, all your Skype messages and contacts are gone in the Messaging app. The workaround for this is to navigate to this folder in File Explorer:
  • C:\Users\<USERNAME>\AppData\Local\Packages\
  • Microsoft.Messaging_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalCache
  • Delete or rename the “PrivateTransportId” file.
  • Then restart the Messaging app.
  • Small form-factor devices, like the Dell Venue 8 Pro, that boot with rotation or virtual mode screen size set larger than the physical screen size will experience a bluescreen on upgrade and will roll back to the previous build.
  • After upgrading to this build, the power button on your Surface Pro 3 may no longer put your Surface Pro 3 to sleep and instead shut down.
  • WebM and VP9 have been temporarily removed from builds. We continue to develop a VP9 implementation that we intend to ship in Windows. Expect VP9 to return soon in a future build.

Conclusion

I give top marks to the Windows 10 Team here. They’re really trying to get this thing ready for release. They’ve also had a number of different quality and stability (as well as privacy) issues to deal with. Not everyone, myself included, is happy with the current state of Windows 10, either in a released or prerelease state.

It still need a great deal of work.

It’s still not ready… though it’s slightly better than it was.

However, it’s clear that there are still a number of issues with Windows 10’s update mechanism – Windows Update – still… especially on a Surface Pro device and especially when it comes to firmware updates.

I know that I’m not the only one that continually sees the download of firmware or hardware updates for their Surface Pro device.  They can get repeated many, many times in both failed and successful installs.

The biggest problem here is that my Surface Pro 3 very rarely actually runs through the firmware update process.  Yes, Windows Update restarts my Surface Pro 3; but it doesn’t always update the firmware, even if it hasn’t been applied (or truly updated) on the device.  And before anyone asks, yes, it has actually reapplied a firmware update more than once, though more often than not, it just redownloads the firmware update, SAYS that it’s going to reinstall it, doesn’t finish the firmware update, but lists the reapplication as successful anyway.

Go figure…

Are you (still) on the Windows 10 Insider Fast Ring?  Have you been installing all the updates?  Have you installed the latest build, Build 10576?  What do you think of the current state of Windows 10?  Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area below and give me your thoughts on these and other Windows 10 related issues. I’d love to hear them…

Related Posts:

UPDATE – OneNote 2013 and Windows 10 – Potentially Lethal

It’s been a long time coming, but there finally seems to be light at the end of the tunnel…

onenote and windows 10

I’ve been using the Surface Pro 3 at the office since December of 2014.  Prior to that, I used a Surface Pro 1 for a couple of years. It was the best and easiest way to really organize work at the office; and I say this to any and everyone who asks why I use it:

  1. It’s the best digital notepad (with OneNote) I’ve ever been to find and use
  2. With OneNote on the web and/ or OneNote’s sync capabilities, you have access to your notes nearly everywhere you have a device with internet access
  3. Paper notepads, notebooks and portfolios get lost. You’re never going to leave a tablet in a conference or meeting room (they’re too expensive to forget)

It’s a nearly flawless system, and it’s one of the best out there. Other software and hardware tools just don’t have the same capabilities or use cases due to one limitation or another.

When the Surface Pro 3 was released, I knew it was worth the upgrade from my Surface Pro 1, so off it went toGazelle, and over to the Microsoft Store I went.  While Windows 8.1 wasn’t as optimal a notebook experience as I wanted, and while (in my opinion) Windows still doesn’t know if it wants to be a desktop or tablet OS (even with Windows 10); with either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (and the right utilities, like Start8  from Stardock Software) it can still be a very productive tool in either an corporate or academic setting.

Until, however, you move to Windows 10 and you bump into the problems I mentioned in March of 2015.  The Disappearing Ink Bug is a huge problem for users of the Surface Pro 3.

It completely negates nearly all the value out of the device.

The reliability of the inking system is nearly gone. You never know when you’re going to lose anything you’ve written down, as the bug is completely random, and in end, you’re left with two very real choices – downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 8.1 or take your chances with Windows 10, the bug, and maybe you lose some notes or maybe you don’t.

Well, I have a bit of an update for you.  There appears to be, what may be, a final fix for this problem.  There are two very active threads on this issue over at the Microsoft Support Community (here and here).

Microsoft has released KB3093266 in response to disappearing ink on the Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10.  This cumulative update addresses not only disappearing ink, but tap becomes right click as well.  Both of these issues were contributing factors to the conditions being experienced (where ink would vanish in OneNote on a Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10).

The cumulative update available via Windows Update on your Windows 10 PC, may take a while to appear on your Windows 10 PC. Like all Windows Updates, Microsoft rolls them out in batches.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had it show up for me yet.

However, one really good point came up out of (this support thread. I wish that I could take credit for it, but I really can’t.  Credit for that goes to Clayton Dittman

“Can you possibly tell the Windows OS team to check with the surface team and tell the surface team to check with your team before releasing an Operating System which breaks core functionality of your Staple Devices?

I cannot in good conscious use a Surface (Pro or not) again because of the way this migration to Windows 10 was handled in lieu of Office 2016 and the Surface Pro 4.

I want to trust Windows, I want to depend on you guys for quality control and solutions my customers can trust. I just can’t…”

While it seems obvious, the reliability and trustability of Windows 10 for many users has greatly diminished.  It’s not just this issue, there are still huge privacy, stability and (other) reliability concerns.  You can check just about any and every Windows blog on the internet today and find at least 2-3 articles covering all that.

The cumulative update I mentioned may resolve the disappearing ink issue… it may not.  KB3093266 is not the first fix that was released to address the issue.  There were individual updates made to Windows 10, OneNote 2013/2016 as well as Office 2016 that failed to resolve the problems between May and September of 2015.

Results from those that have received this update have been generally positive, though somewhat mixed.  Generally, it seems to be working; but like Dittman noted above, how much damage has TRULY occurred for the Windows and Surface Pro brands?

How easily Microsoft can recover from this is going to depend on a couple of things:

  1. Does the cumulative update truly resolve the bug for all users of both the Surface Pro 3 and the Surface 3 (its actually experienced on nearly all Surface Pro devices as well as the Surface 3)
  2. How well the Surface Pro 4 is received
  3. How well the bug stays resolved (especially on the Surface Pro 4)

Every time Microsoft releases a cumulative update or a new build, this issue is going to have to be retested. It’s very possible given the depth and severity of the problem(s) that Microsoft may resurrect the issue in future builds and updates. While that’s not ideal and certainly won’t be intentional, it does happen quite often with software development. It’s simply the nature of the beast – sometimes, it comes back.

The Surface Pro 4 has been anticipated for many months now. While there’s no real evidence that any industry pundit can provide regarding a credible rumor on the device’s ACTUAL existence, it is said that Microsoft will announce something next week (2015-10-05 to 2015-10-09) with an actual release date also rumored to be SOMETIME this month (October 2015).  While it totally misses Back to School, it should hit the 2015 Holiday Buying Season, provided its already being manufactured.

Do you have a Surface Pro device (1, 2 or 3)?  Do you have a Surface 3?  Are you using OneNote and the Surface Pen to take notes?  Are you experiencing issues with floating and disappearing ink?  Have you been following any of the Microsoft support threads I mentioned (here or here)?  Have you received the Windows 10 Cumulative Update (KB3093266) that I mentioned?

If you have, do, etc. and have received the update, I would REALLY appreciate hearing back from you on this.  Please provide the appropriate comments and/ or information in the Discussion area, below, so that I can get your information back to Microsoft.  This is a huge bug, and really needs to be resolved once and for all.

Related Posts:

Updating Windows 10 Mobile After it goes RTM

Microsoft says that it wants to push rapid updates to users; but there are issues…

Windows 10 mobile

I saw an interesting update on the Supersite for Windows this morning, and I answered a comment asking what the issues were on this in the US. I wanted to expound a bit more, so I thought I’d gather what I wrote and then start shooting my mouth off.

The original article deals with Microsoft taking control of OS related updates from the mobile carriers – in the States, that’s basically, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, but may also include a number of larger regional or budget carriers like US Cellular, Cricket and Boost Mobile – and making updates available roughly four to six (4 – 6) weeks after the updates go RTM. Based on a report from Ed Bott, Microsoft is serious about it. According to Terry Myerson,

“Here at Microsoft, we take our responsibility to keep Windows secure seriously. We follow up on all reported security issues, continuously probe our software with leading edge techniques, and proactively update supported devices with necessary updates to address issues. And today, we’re announcing this continuous update process applies to all Windows 10 devices, including phones.”

The only way that Windows as a Service (WaaS) REALLY works, is if Microsoft can release updates to users as they are ready.

The problem is that mobile broadband carriers in the US don’t allow just anything to ride their networks and don’t allow hardware manufacturers or OEM’s to release just any device update without that update going through a testing and certification process. Well, at least everyone but Apple; users of any cellular capable iDevice get iOS updates all the time…as soon as they’re released, in fact. I’ll deal with Apple in just a bit. However, every other device and device manufacturer/ OEM has to jump through a lot of hoops.

There are two parts to this issue: Control of the (enterprise) network and control of support. The second one is easy to understand. The first one is a PITA.

Control of Support
Many users don’t know much of anything about their smartphone past how to make and take calls, send and receive text messages, and change a status update on Facebook (or other social network). Most carriers like these types of users, because they generally accept what they are given, even if they don’t like it (which leads to the first thing, but I’ll get to that in a minute).

Because most users aren’t very tech savvy, they don’t know how to trouble shoot issues when they bump into problems, so they call their mobile carrier for support. The mobile carrier knows that support is a big issue, and don’t want to HAVE to support each and every problem that can arise, especially with exotic or little/unknown 3rd party software. So, they offer crapware that may have much the same functionality that most users are looking for and do their best to push users that way. They pay their support people to troubleshoot the crapware, and to try to get users to use it instead of a similar, and likely much more popular app that does the same thing. They can’t pay their people to know everything about every chat client, social network, photo enhancer, etc. it costs too much money to train and support them.

Control of the (Enterprise) Network
(Most) Mobile carriers don’t allow just ANY smartphone on their network. Unknown or rogue mobile devices can eat up bandwidth; and as much as they want to charge you for the bandwidth you use, mobile carriers certify devices and updates because if it rides on their network, users are going to demand support, so… they limit what can actually get on the network… or they at least try to.

Historically, this is why mobile carriers take so long to test individual devices before they actually offer them for sale; or take so long to test and certify updates before they actually go out to users of devices that use the mobile network.

Think of this the same way you think of your work computer. Your office’s IT department doesn’t let you install everything from any and every download site on the internet. Many sites are blocked to protect the network from viruses and other malware. It’s the same thing here.

All you do is use the network. You don’t own it, so the mobile carrier doesn’t allow you to do any and everything you want…. just like the office. The purpose is public communication. Your use effects the public, and the carrier has an obligation to insure that its available to all that pay to use it.

Now, all of this is SOMEWHAT based on older information. I really ran into this face first when I was a Verizon customer, living in Nashville, TN back in 2003/ 2004. I had two separate talks with a VzW store manager and a Tier 2 install technician (I had a car kit installed for my then, state of the art new, Samsung i700). The install tech who put the car kit in my Honda CRV laughed at me when I asked him why the store staff wouldn’t talk to me. I have to admit, it was kinda funny. However, he explained that I gave them fits because I knew more than they did, and had issues they couldn’t support (smartphones were new back then…). I later confirmed this with the store manager, who apologized, but didn’t offer any helpful suggestions, either.

However, the general principals here are the same now as they were then. Control… at least until you pay me (me, being the mobile carrier). Apple cut a lot of deals to get the iPhone on AT&T (and eventually VzW and T-Mo). Part of that was specifically that Apple has control of OS updates. It worked, and continues to work because Apple sells a BOAT load of iPhones. Mobile carriers make a lot of money via mobile accounts, upgrades, and other add-on related iDevice purchases.

…and volume. Let’s not forget the amount of sales volume they get. The carriers tolerate it because they make a lot of money based on iDevice sales volume.

Microsoft has a huge issue here. They simply don’t – and won’t – have the device sales volume to help them convince mobile carriers not to relinquish they’re control of their networks so Microsoft can deliver both software and firmware updates as needed. I have no idea what incentive Microsoft thinks it’s going to come up with to convince the carriers to allow this to happen. However, you would have to think that it may involve a bit of that ol’ happy cabbage… We’ll have to wait and see what and how MS does to make this happen.

What do you think about all of this? Will Microsoft be able to release updates to Windows 10 Mobile device owners as they want to; or will the US mobile carriers put a halt to it? Would these OS and firmware updates attract you to a Windows 10 Mobile device over, say, an Android device or iDevice?

I’d really like to hear from you on this, so why don’t you join me in the discussion area, below, and give me your thoughts on it all.

Related Posts:

Windows 10 on a Low-End Windows Tablet

There aren’t enough pain relievers for crap like this…

c04511601

I have a 32bit Dell Latitude ST2 Windows Pro tablet. It came to me as a review unit while I was writing at InformationWeek’s BYTE. I’d point you to that URL, but unfortunately, UBM has finally retired it (along with most of the writing and editing staff. Boy do they like to do “strategic shifts” over there…) Originally, the device ran Windows 8.0. It got upgraded to Windows 8.1 and then Windows 8.1 Update before finally moving to Windows 10 in October of last year when the Windows 10 Technical Preview began.

As you may recall, I put Windows 10 on it, and its performance with the new OS in ALL builds so far has been… well… yeah. To be blunt, it’s been painful… at best.

So, while I was having issues with my Surface Pro 3, I was also having issues getting Windows 10 Build 10041 on my Dell Latitude 10 ST2. That was a particularly bad couple of weeks or so. In order to resolve the bricked state that the Dell was in, I had to contact Dell Support and was fortunate enough to have them send me a Recovery USB Stick. It put the tablet back to Windows 8, which, again, is what the tablet originally shipped with; but at least it was working again, and I could do SOMETHING with it.

After I had Windows 8 on it, I could have gone through the entire upgrade path again from Windows 8 to 8.1 and then to 8.1 Update; but with the prospect of installing well over 200 individual updates, I passed. Instead, I tried putting Build 10041 on it. I was able to get the build on the device, after booting from a USB stick that had the ISO burned to it. I then updated it to Build 10049, but that update failed and auto rolled back. That, unfortunately bricked the tablet again.

I restored the tablet back to Windows 8 and put Windows 10 Build 10041 back on and left it there. Please note that I was able to install Windows 10 Build 10041 from a USB stick with NO issues.

Queue the other evening when Build 10061 was offered as an upgrade. The Dell tablet downloaded the update and attempted to install it. Initially, the installed failed without upgrading to Build 10061 and tried to roll back to Build 10041. This, again, NEARLY bricked the tablet. The tablet would NOT connect to the internet after that and had a great deal of problems even booting up. So… back to Windows 8 via the Dell stick again.

I wanted to get to Windows 10 Build 10061. So, I built a bootable USB stick with the 32bit version of official Build 10041 ISO and booted the tablet with that USB stick. I ran into several ,very strange, new issues with that install :

1.Touch screen is disabled

The touch screen is totally disabled when booting from the USB stick (created with Rufus 2.1.649). In order to complete the install, you must connect an external keyboard and mouse to the docking station that is available for this Windows 8.x Pro tablet. The tablet seems to have frozen once you get to the initial setup screen (choose keyboard, language, etc.) due to the touch screen not being recognized.

2.The onboard USB 2.x port Works Intermittently

This may be appearance only, due to the touch screen issue above, but there are times when trying to boot from the on-tablet USB port that the tablet simply does not boot from the USB stick and goes right into Windows 8.x

3.Many Drivers Missing, Device Not Functional

I found that with both Builds 10041 and 10061, Windows 10 would install clean from an ISO, but many of the drivers for the device were missing. Wi-Fi does not work, as the drivers for the built in wireless card did not install. There were roughly 10-12 “Unknown” devices in Device Manager. The tablet is unable to connect to the internet via wireless OR the LAN port in the docking station, as drivers for both did not install. The Wi-Fi card is obviously, one of the unknown devices. The LAN port on the docking station is identified, but drivers for the device didn’t install with the build and are not found when you try to install them manually.

The only way I was able to get ANY connectivity was through a USB Ethernet dongle that the tablet was able to recognize and install drivers for, but ONLY via one of the USB ports on the docking station (and not the one on the tablet, as it didn’t work). Unfortunately, drivers for the unknown devices would not install, even when attempting to download and install one via Device Manager. None of them were identified or found.

Upgrading to Build 10061 via a wired connection through the USB Ethernet dongle did NOT fix the problem. The touch screen was still disabled. All devices that were unknown were still unknown.

This wasn’t an issue in previous builds, nor in initially joining the Insider’s program with earlier builds.

I was able to get Build 10061 on the tablet, however. Instead of going through the update and upgrade process, however (as that proved not to work…AGAIN), I wiped the tablet and restored it back to Windows 8.x. I copied the ISO for Build 10041 to the tablet’s Downloads directory. From there, I mounted the ISO and ran setup.exe. The build installed and ALL of the device’s drivers installed as well, meaning that the touch screen works, the on-device USB port works, etc.; AND there were no unrecognized devices in Device Manager.

After that worked, I did the same thing with the ISO for Build 10061. It also installed over Build 10041 without issue and ALL of the devices on the tablet are recognized and seem to be working appropriately. After this, however, I have come to one very clear conclusion:

Windows 10 on older, less powerful devices seems to be a huge problem. My Dell tablet has an Intel Atom Z2760 processor running at 1.80Ghz. It’s a bit underpowered, and Windows 10 seems to have a huge problem performing well on it.

Given that Microsoft is realistically targeting July 2015 for the RTM of Windows 10, there are many who believe – me included – that July is an unrealistic release time frame. Windows 10 isn’t ready for prime time at this point and July, even for Desktop, seems unrealistic and overly aggressive.

Are you running Windows 10 on a budget tablet? There are a number of them out there. My Dell is one. Microcenter makes a couple – the TW700 Series and the TW800 Series. HP offers the Stream 7.

All of these are running low-end Intel processors. While they may have dual or quad cores, they don’t really have a lot of punch. They also don’t have a lot of RAM. The Winbooks are a bit better as they are running Baytrail processors as opposed to Atoms in the Dell and HP, but in the end, I suspect that ALL tablets that are running Windows 8.x and eventually the DESKTOP version of Windows 10 (because that’s their upgrade path…) will have performance issues.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, as the WinBooks, the Dell and the HP are all GREAT offerings for a cheap way to get into a Windows tablet, but if their performance is so horrible, they may end up being used as Frisbee’s more than actual computing devices. Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and tell me what you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, as I kinda feel as though I’m eating my own dog food on this one.

Related Posts:

Windows 10 Preview Builds to Come More Frequently

According to Gabe Aul, it’s about to get hot in their kitchen…

Windows10

I’ve spent a great deal of my early to mid-adult life in the South Eastern United States. When you hear someone tell you that it’s about to “get hot in the kitchen,” what they mean is that things is fixin’ ta get real busy. According to Gabe Aul, the Microsoft exec in charge of the Windows 10 Insider program for the Windows 10 Technical Preview, its fixin’ ta get hot in the Windows 10 kitchen.

Now, what exactly does that mean? Very simply – more builds.

According to a 2015-03-09 blog, and then reiterated in an email sent earlier today 2015-04-20, Windows Insiders are about to see the frequency of builds pick up.

Microsoft has released the second build of Windows 10 Mobile for Windows Phone; and from all accounts, including my own look at the new Mobile OS, it’s still a VERY early build for Windows Phone.

That’s a kind way of saying its currently a train wreck.

Yeah…

It’s not really ready for anyone to look at yet. In fact, if you tried to install it on one of the 35 different, supported, Lumia phones and decided it wasn’t for you, it’s quite possible that returning that phone to a Windows Phone 8.x state bricked your phone. If that’s happened to you, you may be able to unbrick it with the Windows Phone Recovery Tool. If you’re having trouble with a Lumia branded Windows Phone, you should use the Lumia Software Recovery Tool.

All of that notwithstanding , Gabe Aul again has stated that Windows 10 Insiders should begin seeing builds come much faster on the Fast Ring. Aul’s email specifically states,

“Based on your feedback, we’re going to send out builds more frequently to Windows Insiders that have selected “Fast” preview builds. That means you can getting fresher code with all of the features and fixes, more often – but builds may include more bugs. Read my blog for more details. To switch to slow or fast builds on your PC, go to Settings>Update & recovery>Advanced options. On your phone, go to the Windows Insider app.”

I’m certain that given the above referenced blog entry from early March, and the fact that Windows Insiders haven’t seen a new official build hit the Fast Ring since the release of Build 10049 about two weeks ago, Gabe has been fielding a great many questions on “when” the next build will hit.

Many Windows 10 Insiders have specific issues blocking them from moving forward with their evaluations and I know they’re looking for specific fixes. Specifically, I’m looking for a fix for my disappearing ink bug. A fix for that can’t come soon enough.

UPDATE: While working on this article, Build 10061 was released. I’ve got it installed on my Dell Latitude 10 ST2. We’ll see if my issue is resolved and if it’s worth installing on my Surface Pro 3. I’ll keep you posted.

Related Posts:

Windows 10 Announcement Highlights

There’s a lot to digest from the big announcements in Redmond. Here are the highlights…

I tried to watch most of the Microsoft announcement the other day. I got to see most of it, but I missed the very beginning and the very end. Such is the life of a working IT guy – meetings… its what we do. So I’ve been doing a lot of research on what’s coming with Windows 10 once the latest Technical Preview build is released. I’m also trying to keep an eye on the prize and dope out what might actually be coming through to us at the end of the whole gig, sometime in late Q3, early Q4 of 2015. What I’ve been able to pull together from what I can find on the internet is below.

However, please take everything with a grain of salt. The world is still geeking out over the Microsoft HoloLens. Everyone is doing the best NOT to turn into Lt. Barkley and become instantly addicted to the holosuite that can be strapped to your head. While I will cover some of that a bit later, its not the biggest and best thing about Windows 10, believe it or not.

win10

…and so, without much more mumbo-jumbo, here’s the highlights from the Microsoft Press Event of 2015-01-21.

Windows as a Service
This is probably the biggest announcement of the entire key note. It looks like upgrade costs – at least on the consumer side of the world – are a thing of the past. If I’m reading everything correctly, Microsoft is leaving its consumer, OS upgrade business model behind and is embracing the, “if you love them, set [it] free” model when it comes to upgrade pricing. According to the press even on 2015-01-21, Windows is now a SaaS (Software as a Service) product, and future upgrades will just appear on a Windows 10 (or better) machine, and cost the user nothing.

This is a HUGE step away from what was once a very lucrative business model – charging consumer users (sometimes hundreds of dollars) for OS/ platform upgrades. I can remember dropping $100 or more for an upgrade CD/DVD and looking at a full license cost of $357.99 or more and thinking that someone in Redmond was out of their mind. (Actually, I thought they might like to come over to my house, live like I do for a couple of weeks and then kindly explain to me what the hell they were thinking…) The general public can’t afford that, and that’s one of biggest reasons why users either tried to, wanted to or in fact, DID resort to pirating copies of Windows. The bloody thing cost too much for users either building or rebuilding a PC to afford (and don’t even START with me on Microsoft’s borked up Activation requirements that made you prove that you weren’t pirating a copy of Windows, but were, in fact, simply replacing a few computer components).

Now that Windows is a service and users of Windows 7 or better can upgrade their computer’s OS for free for at least a year after Windows 10 is released, pirated copies of Windows in the wild should be greatly reduced. The only question I have here is, “What if a consumer builds a Windows PC from scratch..? Will they have to pay for a Windows 10 license, or can they obtain a clean install DVD for free?” I haven’t seen an answer to that one just yet.

The other big question here is, “if Windows is TRULY a SaaS product, then is Windows 10 the start of ‘Windows 365,’ or some other subscription model?” My friend, Rod Trent, now running the SuperSite for Windows has an article on this specifically; and it makes some interesting points – Windows as a SaaS service is versionless (as its updated all the time, and there isn’t a new release, service pack or any major update… its just… updated); and how those updates will actually be rolled out to end users and/or corporate endpoints is unclear.

I mean, its assumed that Windows Update will still continue to deliver these and that corporate network admins can still deploy a version of Windows to the enterprise and then sit on updates until they are tested and approved; but that along with cost, are REALLY still up in the air. If Windows really is a SaaS product, then the delivery method may completely change… or it may not.

Windows 10 won’t be released until September or October of this year, so Microsoft at least has some time to work that out… Until then, we can all speculate on whether Microsoft is going to drop the Windows 10 brand for Windows 365 or Windows 1; or it if will offer Windows as both a subscription AND a standalone product as it does with Office today… let the rumor mongering begin!

Cortana
When Cortana was introduced on Windows Phone, it was seen as a direct competitor to both Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google Now digital assistants. While Siri is really the only DIRECT competitor here (Google Now is impersonal and doesn’t have the built in personality that come built into both Siri and Cortana. It may have something to do with the fact that “Google Now” isn’t a proper first name…)

Anyway, Cortana gets a big upgrade in Windows 10. She sits front and center, accessible via voice right off your Task Bar. There’s been a huge fuzzy logic implementation here, giving her the ability to learn about you and what you do, how you work, play, etc.; and the service will be providing information as you work and play – things (she thinks) you will find useful. The more you use Cortana, the smarter and more useful it gets.

The big difference between Cortana and Google Now is that Cortana isn’t doing all of this in order to either sell something to you, or to sell YOU to someone else (much like Google is doing with all of your information gathered via Google Now and other Google Services). Here, Microsoft wants you to use its product, instead of making a product out of you. Now, how long that stays that way, remains to be see, but at least for now, we can “trust” Microsoft not to abuse its superpowers.

Universal Apps
So, Microsoft is releasing, really only a single version of Windows 10. That same version of the OS will run on a desktop or laptop PC, a tablet AND a smartphone. The hardware effectively tells the OS what it needs, and the OS only installs and runs those components. Its smart enough to automatically determine the right screen sizes and orientations for what it needs to do all by itself. That, in and of itself is pretty cool.

If you’re a developer, it gets a bit cooler. Microsoft has one version of its OS, and they’re giving you (the developer) the opportunity to release only a single “universal” app that will run on all three major form factors (desktop, tablet and smartphone). Thanks to the smarts built into the OS, your app can take advantage of the same technology and only run in the right modes with the correct UI, screens, orientation, etc. In the end, you only have to maintain a single app if you wish (Microsoft isn’t holding its 3rd party developers to universal apps as a requirement).

I don’t know of any other desktop OS with a mobile counterpart (and that’s really only iOS) that has this capability. Right now, this is a Microsoft and Windows 10 exclusive feature.

Spartan Browser
Microsoft has surely heard the cries of its people and has provided a new browser for them. Spartan, a new browser targeted mainly at mobile devices – again, smartphones and tablets running Windows 10 – is a browser that will be running a new and improved Trident rendering engine. The browser will also work on Windows 10 powered desktop and laptop computers.

While the first build of Windows 10 that is supposed to run on smaller devices with screens 8 inches and under – like stables and smartphones – won’t be released until February of 2015, Spartan won’t be included in that build. It also isn’t included in the latest build of Windows 10 – build 9926 – for the desktop.

The browser is totally new. While it uses the Trident rendering engine, Trident is totally new. Microsoft rewrote it from scratch just for Spartan. The idea here is to create a browser that can truly compete with Web Kit based browsers like Chrome, Safari and Firefox. And while IE in and of itself isn’t going away, Spartan will be completely separate.

Its not completely clear which hardware will run IE, going forward. While Spartan will run on all Windows 10 compatible hardware and in any mode of the OS – meaning on a smartphone or tablet – its assumed that IE will remain a desktop only application. As such, Spartan will have some level of legacy compatibility built into it. That is to say, that it will be able to interact with websites written specifically for IE (like Outlook .com and OWA). While these sites run on non-IE browsers, their functionality is clearly limited and in some cases, disabled or missing. At least Spartan will have some level of legacy capabilities built in. How much, remains to be seen; and it’s hard to say, how well Spartan will be received, so it’s difficult to determine if this is the Microsoft browser that will finally replace IE or not.

Game DVR is a Game Changer
It’s obvious with the (at times, debatable) success of Xbox 360 and Xbox One that Microsoft is big on gaming and getting users to use Windows as a gaming platform. Microsoft is modifying its Xbox app for Windows, allowing you to view your games and chat with people via Xbox Live.

Game DVR is perhaps the biggest feature in the new app. With it, you can view, comment on and share game play clips. Any Windows game – including older Steam titles – can save a (last) 30 second game play clips via the Windows+G command. Since you never know when you’re going to bump into a totally stellar set of events, Windows 10 caches ALL game play on a rolling 30 second window, allowing you to save off the last 30 seconds to a cool clip that you can post and share with friends. Note, you’re likely going to need a fast processor, available free RAM and a fast hard drive to do this in a “reasonable” amount of time, if at all.

You’re also going to be able to serve up your games to any Windows 10 compatible, connected device on your home network. This is especially important if you have, say, a 9 year old son who totally LOVE playing Minecraft on your 50″+ plasma TV screen, and hates that he has to shut down because it’s time for the big game, or the family is just tired of watching him play for 4 hours straight. With Game DVR, the game can be transferred to a compatible phone or tablet, or other Windows 10 computer, where it can simply be continued. All you may have done is paused the game on Xbox One, run the Xbox app on an appropriate device and picked up where you left off.

With something like this in place, my son won’t have to stop playing simply because something as trivial as the Pro Bowl or the Super Bowl comes on. He can move to another Windows 10 device and pick up where he left off, and I can watch the game… All is right with the world.

Windows HoloLens
O
M
G

I nearly lost my mind when I saw Windows HoloLens. There’s a lot there to be excited about, but I couldn’t help but hear Arnold Schwarzenegger’s, “I’ll be back…” run through my head a couple of times while the presentation was going on. You had to think Skynet at least a couple of times while the presentation was running. It was totally (and frighteningly) cool.

Windows HoloLens was developed in part by the same guy that brought us Kinect – Alex Kipman. Both he and others that have tried the device describe it as pretty much what you would think it was – It looks and works pretty much like it did in the video demonstration that we saw during the keynote.

You put the helmet on, and you’re effectively inside a new world that’s laid over the top of the one you live in every day. The thing that struck me while I was watching the demo was the ability to man and control drones in the same manner that Will Robinson controlled the robot in “Lost in Space movie that was released back in 1998. This way, you could pilot a plane or fly a reconnaissance mission without ever having to leave the safety of the airbase; and have a better, over-all experience than you would flying via a camera on the drone, displaying on a monitor at the base. With Microsoft HoloLens, you’d be “in” the plane.

NASA has eyes on the device for controlling rovers and being able to “explore” the surface of a distant world or asteroid (dare I say, comet?!?) without having to physically man a mission. They will be able to move the surface topography, examine specifics of it, and replace it, all without disturbing a single grain of sand. Other applications for design, design review, and hands-on training come to mind. They possibilities are very vast.

So is it available? As of this writing, it hasn’t. It should be available to developers in the Spring of 2015. The fact that Microsoft has this developer based, preliminary release milestone set in stone means that they must have a somewhat viable product, at least.

The other big problem is, of course, the cost. When you have something that is this cutting edge, it’s hard to know if and what will be available at what price. I would assume that this will initially be quite pricey. However, with the consumer based examples that Microsoft demoed – the dad helping his daughter fix the drain on her sink, for example – you would think that this would be something that most everyone could afford to purchase and work with.

However, this, like availability, is going to be a wait and see operation. There’s a big deal here; but how big will ultimately be determined by how affordable it is for the masses.

Conclusion
There’s a lot here. Windows 10 could really be cool if it was affordable to all, always up to date, and contained technology (like Cortana, HoloLens and Game DVR) that really worked in real world situations without a boat load of tinkering and tweaking required to keep it running and at an affordable cost so that the down stroke didn’t eliminate more than 75% of potential customers.

What do you think? Is Windows 10 going to be a winner? I’ll have a few articles up on my install experiences with it over the next few days as well as a follow up article to my Windows 10 Predictions column.

In the meantime, why don’t you join me in the Discussion area, below and let me know what you think?

Related Posts:

Last week’s highlights #01

It was a crowdy week in terms of new releases but somehow shadowed by the death of Steve Jobs and the release of iPhone 4S. Therefore we made for you a round-up of some highlight products and news.

Google Chrome is coming to Android

As expected by many, Chrome will be launched for Android too and it might happen in October 11. The information comes from Chromium Code website where we also found out that the Android version of Chrome will include most desktop functions and support for 2D Skia – a complete 2D graphic library for drawing Text, Geometries, and Images that Google has been hard at work on.

Back to October 11, Google has an event partner with Samsung with the debut of Nexus Prime and Ice Cream Sandwich and maybe, Chrome for Android makes an appearance. I believe that the Android version Chrome will be available through Android Market and it will also come as an option to the stock Android browser right out of the box for the latest version of Android, but this is just a hunch.
Make and share screenshots with Ashampoo Snap 5

This program allows you to easily take screenshots of various regions, websites, or even specific windows on your desktop with just a few clicks. Within the same interface you can use several tools for editing. In this way you can easily add images, notes, texts, markings, and watermarks to your screenshots. Even for saving or exporting the screenshots you’ll get a complete set of tools. You can share your screenshots within the program by email, by saving them to the clipboard or a file or just print them. Moreover, you can now upload your result directly to Facebook or YouTube.

download Ashampoo Snap 5
Get rid of malware with the latest version of Emsisoft Anti-Malware

The best way to protect yourself is with a virus or malware scanner. Emsisoft Anti-Malware (previously known as a-squared Free) is a program that can be a good choice to scan and remove malicious software from your PC. The new version comes with great improvements and completely re-written dual scan engine for multi-core optimizations which brings a huge speed improvement on average, with the same things being scanned. Also, the false positive handling was improved too and now with the latest version, there is a caching system which makes the scanning faster with every scan.

download Emsisoft Anit-Malware
Avira Antivirus 2012 the basic trusted protector

Avira Internet Security comes with an improved interface with many visual changes that reflect the status of the most critical components you use. The entire status panel has been redesigned in order to allow a fast configuration and control of all options and features. In case of emergency, the casual user will not be bothered with dozens of settings because now Avira can decide what needs to be done to protect the your computer. And this can be done with only one click: Fix problem.

download Avira Free Antivirus 2012
The father of the post-PC era is dead

Last week Steven Paul Jobs (Co-founder and former Apple’s CEO) died of cancer at age 56. The world has lost one of the most influential and visionary character of the modern digital era, an entrepreneur and inventor who managed to change the consumer’s mentality in latter years through revolutionary products such as: iPod and the iTunes service, iPhone, iPad, or the latest generation of MacBook Air.

 

Ashampoo Photo Commander – all-in-one app for editing, organizing, sharing, and presenting photos

We all edit our photos in one way or the other. Either simply to remove the “red eyes” from our photos, either to resize, crop or rotate them. Ashampoo Photo Commander is a comprehensive photo tool that covers all that you need to edit, optimize or quick fix your photos, but it also offers all the features to organize, share and even present your digital photos.

download Ashampoo Photo Commander

 

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