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?

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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…

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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.

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Recent Microsoft Developments

There’s a lot going on in Redmond these days…

Microsoft Zentrale 16:9 hires Firmenschild Building 99

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had my head down at work; but I’ve also been hot and heavy with a review of the Fitbit Surge that’s still yet to be completed. When it comes to wearables, this new computing category really has many people curious and thinking about how and what it can and should be.

Over and above THAT, which has been more than enough in and of itself, I’ve been beginning some evaluations of Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac as well as dealing with some very serious issues with OneNote 2013 and Windows 10 … and yeah. I’ve been a little busy.

However, there have been a few new developments over at Microsoft, other than the ones I’ve mentioned, and I wanted to not only acknowledge them but comment on them just a bit as well. While this may not be ALL that’s hit the news wire lately, it is what has stuck in my head as I’ve got it buried under a bunch of stuff at the office as well as under a ton of research, screen shots and support thread posts.

Here they are in no particular order…

Internet Explorer is Dead
IExplorer_TransparentYes. The victor of the Browser Wars of the late 1990’s has followed Netscape and one or two other browsers in death. The Internet Explorer brand will die with IE 11, as Microsoft has finally decided that their latest browser, current code named, Project Spartan, will be released with a different branding and label.

While everyone is busy clamoring on the fact that IE is gone and that Project Spartan – whatever Microsoft ends up officially calling it – will be taking its place, what many are glossing over is that IE is still around, and likely will be for a while. IE is going to be relegated to the enterprise version of Windows, and will be used there for corporate and enterprise application compatibility purposes. With IE still in use at work, it’s likely that despite the fact that it won’t be officially updated any longer, it’s still likely to be patched for enterprise uses as part of Microsoft’s monthly, often security based, Patch Tuesday. So, it’s gone, but still likely to show up on many browser share analytic reports, as the peoples will surf while they’re at work. (yes… you can still haz internets.)

One of the things that I saw, but lost and had to recreate on my own, was a complete release history of IE from its initial 1.0 release in 1995 to its current, main release in 2013.

IE 1.0 – 1995-08-16 and released as part of Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95
IE 1.5 – 1996-01-15 (or there abouts) and included compatibility for WinNT 3.5.1
IE 2.0 – 1995-11-22 and included backwards compatibility support for Windows 3.1
IE 3.0 – 1996-08-13 and Included partial CSS support. Introduced ActiveX
IE 4.0 – 1997-09-15 (or there abouts) and was the first version to support Active Desktop and full OS integration
IE 5.0 – 1999-03-18 and was included with Windows 98SE and Office 2000
IE 5.5 – 2000-07-15 (or there abouts) bundled with Windows ME
IE 6.0 – 2001-08-27 released for Windows XP
IE 7.0 – 2006-10-18 first release to support tabbed browsing
IE 8.0 – 2009-03-19 Last version supported on Windows XP
IE 9.0 – 2011-04-12 Last version supported in Windows Vista
IE 10.0 – 2012-01-26 Only version supported in Windows 8.x
IE 11.0 – 2013-10-17 the LAST version

The tell-tale sign of its huge – and still very current problem – is the five (5) year span in the release cycle between IE 6 and IE 7. A great many corporate web portals and apps were developed for IE 6 during this time, and due to compatibility issues, many of them are still running on that platform today (five full versions later…)

Microsoft to Give Windows 10 to Pirates
This was an interesting development early this week, and is a great example of journalism that didn’t go quite far enough.

Windows_10_Logo.svg

Early during the work week of 2015-03-16 to 2015-03-20, Terry Meyerson, EVP for Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group, was quoted saying a few very interesting things. One of them was severely misquoted and created not only a huge stir within the tech circles I follow, but a rather large piece of link bait as well.

First and foremost, Meyerson stated that Microsoft would ship Windows 10 sometime this Summer (meaning 2015-06-21 to 2015-09-23). Which is a huge statement to make, seeing as the software isn’t even feature complete yet in the builds delivered to Windows Insiders. Build 10041 is a perfect example of this. Microsoft still has a long way to go in not only delivering a new operating system that’s feature and function complete, but is stable and ready for both the enterprise and the consumer world. We’ll see how things go…

Secondly, Meyerson was quoted saying that Microsoft would give pirated copies of Windows an upgrade to Windows 10. The statement is accurate, albeit a bit misleading, hence the link bait… What the world heard was that Microsoft as going legitimize every copy of Windows out there, certified Microsoft Genuine, or not with a Windows 10 license.

That’s not the case.

Let me say again – That’s not the case.

While Microsoft WILL allow every single copy of Windows on the internet that it said had an upgrade path to Windows 10 – including Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 Update – to upgrade to Windows, it did NOT promise to legitimize non-Genuine copies of Windows. So, a pirated copy of Windows 7 WILL get upgraded to Windows 10 for free… but if it started out as a pirated copy, and was identified as non-Genuine, then it will remain that way until the owner of that pirated copy buys a legitimate license.

Period.

Microsoft Gives Passwords the Finger
I’ve heard a number of IT security professionals say that one of the biggest security problems in IT is – passwords. They’re lost, forgotten, stolen, easily hacked and in general… a giant pain the rear.

Microsoft has proposed a way of getting around the whole password issue with Windows Hello. According to Joe Belfiore,

“Windows Hello introduces system support for biometric authentication – using your face, iris, or fingerprint to unlock your devices – with technology that is much safer than traditional passwords. You– uniquely you– plus your device are the keys to your Windows experience, apps, data and even websites and services – not a random assortment of letters and numbers that are easily forgotten, hacked, or written down and pinned to a bulletin board. Modern sensors recognize your unique personal characteristics to sign-you-in on a supporting Windows 10 device.”

Windows Hello will satisfy stringent security requirements for government, defense, financial, healthcare, pharmaceutical and other security conscious organizations. The system WILL be able to distinguish between you and someone else and will only allow you to access YOUR authorized resources, though it will require specific hardware and software (like fingerprint readers, illuminated IR sensors and other biometric components) in order to work its magic.

In conjunction with a new and relaunched Microsoft Passport, you’ll be able to authenticate your identity and verify that you have the device in your possession. If the device also contains Windows Hello compatible hardware, then it can use your biometrics to log you in. Combining these two new pieces of technology, Microsoft will leave the password behind and will allow you to gain access to sensitive and confidential files and resources without any risk of them being inappropriately or illegally accessed. It finally gets around the weakest link in the computer security chain – the password.

While I’ve been writing this article, I’ve also been dealing with a huge Windows 10 and Microsoft Surface Pro issue. It’s the biggest reason why I haven’t posted anything in the past week or so. I am back… I think… and I hope to have something up on the experience in the next couple of days. Please stay tuned for the recounting of THAT train wreck, as its almost certainly going to point out that running a beta version of ANY operating system on your computers – whether they be daily drivers or other, less mission critical boxes – is a risk for any and everyone.

Let me just stress this here (and I will in the article I’m prepping, too) – You shouldn’t do it unless you are willing to accept the consequences and deal with the fall out. It isn’t always easy to recover from some of these situations. Sometimes, even the experts need help…

BUT, in the meantime, let me know what you think of these Microsoft developments. I’d love to hear from you and learn what you think of them.

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Microsoft to Release Another Browser

But it’s not all sunshine and daisies, like you’d think…

Microsoft to Release Another BrowserHonestly, I’ve struggled with this bit of news over the past couple of days. Initially, I wasn’t going to cover it, because there really isn’t too much to say about it. There aren’t any screenshots. There isn’t an alpha or beta version to play with; and knowing Microsoft, things could change long before ANYTHING is released. However, the latest scuttlebutt out of Redmond has Microsoft working on a new browser for Windows 10.

There’s good news and bad news related to this. The good news, obviously, is that Microsoft is leaving IE behind. The bad news is that they aren’t moving to WebKit. They’re sticking with Trident – IE’s current rendering engine – and it looks like even THAT engine is getting a rewrite; at least according to Brad Sams at Neowin.

According to my friend, Mary Jo Foley, Trident’s rewrite is part of an effort not to (necessarily) replace IE; but to create a new, light weight browser, currently code named, “Spartan.” While Spartan isn’t IE12, it does seem to be a new animal all together. The new browser should look and feel more like popular WebKit browsers, Chrome and Firefox, and it will support extensions. All of this is going to be done as part of the work behind Windows 10.

Microsoft may or may not show off their new browsers on 2015-01-21 when the company reveals the Windows 10 Consumer Preview. It’s very possible that it won’t be in a state to show off until later in 2015.

What Microsoft decides to do with IE and the IE brand is also up in the air. MJF made no mention of Microsoft discontinuing IE or totally replacing it with Spartan or any other new or revised browser.

All of this is a bit annoying if you ask me. IE has been such a pain in the butt over the past 15 or so years. Its broken the internet a number of times, and has really created more problems for web developers than it solved during that time as well. Why Microsoft is hell bent on staying with their own, proprietary rendering engine, is also completely beyond me. If they’re going to write something new for Windows 10, and knows that their development community and partners (as well as the general public) has issues with IE and Trident, why not totally embrace their new philosophy of customer – not Microsoft – first, and dump Trident for WebKit?

I’m fairly certain that the world won’t see the new browser and kick their love of Chrome, Firefox, Safari and other WebKit compatible browsers to the curb. Unfortunately, we’ll just have to wait and see where Microsoft takes this new effort, and how it’s received not only by the tech press and tech savvy, but the general public as well…. and if there’s one thing I really HATE doing when it comes to technology is, “waiting and seeing.”

What do you think? Is a new MS browser a good thing? Is sticking with Trident good or bad, regardless of its pending rewrite? Is this something that you’re looking forward to as part of Windows 10, or is this something that just seems to be an unneeded, unwanted, or misdirected effort? Why not sound off in the Discussion area below and let me know what you think?

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Web Browser Roundup

Find the best browser for you with this informative Web Browser Roundup

Introduction

Back in the days of the Browser Wars, it was a battle between two well established titans – Internet Explorer and Netscape.  IE dominated the Windows world largly because it was the default browser for Microsoft’s flagship OS; and it was causing issues for other organizations who were trying to make money via providing a competitive browser.

We all know what happened – Netscape eventually died and Microsoft was put on double-super-secret probation via global anti-trust actions. Today, they still have to present a browser choice screen allowing European users the option of downloading and installing a different desktop browser. Effects of that anti-trust decision have been long reaching.  The browser wars were effectively over more than 10 years ago.

However, IE innovation has been largely stagnant since IE7 was released. IE8 and IE9 provided evolutionary updates, but nothing really to write home about. My wife, upon using IE9 for the first time, wanted to know what else might be available to her, something that she’s never asked for or about…EVER.  Let’s take a quick look at a few different browsers and talk about the ups and downs of each in their own, separate reviews.

Opera for Windows

Its hard, sometimes to get past IE. There’s so much that its done wrong in the past.  Finding a replacement browser isn’t always easy.  This is one reason why I like Opera. It’s a web browsing alternative for Windows. Read more…

Mozilla Firefox for Windows

Directly from the folks who helped bring you Netscape, Firefox is perhaps one of the best 3rd party browsers available for Windows today. Read more…

Google Chrome

The number of people using Google’s Chrome browser has almost doubled in the past year, and most analysts expect it to take over from Firefox as the lead challenger to Internet Explorer sometime in 2012. Why the growth? Well, simply put it just works. Read more…

Safari

If you’re looking for an alternative for your Windows platform, or have made a switch to OS X, then you’re going to want to take a look at Apple’s Safari browser. It’s one of the best browsers around, and like most, it’s free. Read more…

IE 10

Browse the internet with ease with Microsoft’s premier browser for Windows and Windows RT. Read more…

 

Conclusion

While IE 10 isn’t bad, I have an issue with full screen browsing, and despite what you might think, IE really wants to function in a full screen, fully hiding the rest of the OS from the user, especially on a Windows RT tablet. This is a paradigm shift issue with me mostly; but I’m sorry…I just can’t help not liking full screen mode.  I don’t use full-screen mode on my Mac, either.  IE10 runs in full screen on Windows RT machines, and should run windowed on Windows 8 Pro tablets; but again, it wants to run full screen. I prefer a windowed look and the ability to tile app windows throughout.

While IE10 is much faster than previous versions, and there is a Windows 7 version available for download, Microsoft has always had performance issues with retro fitting current version browsers for previous version operating systems. IE10 was written for Windows 8. Expect to see the best performance for the browser on Windows 8.

Its difficult to pick between Opera and Firefox for Windows. They are in many ways, very similar. They’re both based on WebKit; and both perform well and offer what many would consider improvements over current and past versions of IE.

Honestly, it comes down to a matter of personal preference and choice. I use Firefox at work under Windows XP. It’s a great browser, and I am very satisfied with its performance. Its tabs are great, and I like its system of managing plugins and add-ons. Opera offers equivalent features, but it never seemed to catch on as well as Firefox has.  That shouldn’t keep you from downloading and giving the browser a chance, however. Its fast, easy to use, and offers the same value as Firefox, if with a different presentation. Its “O” button at the top left corner of its window is a great way to present all of its menu choices in one easily accessible place.

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Internet Explorer New Auto-Update Plan

Microsoft Internet Explorer is one of the most established and popular web browsers, with more than one in five people globally choosing it to surf their favourite sites. While the software is no strange to updates and developments, Microsoft has announced one of the biggest changes in its setup to date which will come into effect from January 2012.

From next month, Internet Explorer (IE) will introduce automatic browser upgrades across PCs operating Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. According to the official Microsoft’s Ryan Gavin, users will automatically be upgraded to latest version of IE available for their systems, “to make sure that Windows customers have the most up-to-date and safest browsing experience possible”.

Why is Microsoft introducing automatic updates?

Currently, Microsoft issues Internet Explorer software changes on an opt-in basis, through the Windows Update service. This, however, means that many users are running old versions of the browser – after all, everyone is guilty of ignoring notifications now and then.

While some updates are introduced for aesthetic purposes or to make navigation easier, many are developed as patches to security vulnerabilities that have been identified. As a result, previous releases could leave users’ systems open to abuse. On the firm’s official blog, Gavin explained: “We want to make updating to the best protection possible as fast and simple as we can for Windows customers.” To achieve this, updates will be forcibly patched onto browsers from now on.

What versions of Windows will automatic updates be applied to?

All PC users running Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 will receive automatic updates for IE. Older Microsoft operating systems – including Windows 98 and Windows 2000 – will not be affected, as they are not capable of running the newer incarnations of IE. Windows XP users will be upgraded to IE8, while Windows Vista and Windows 7 users will be given IE9 – the most recent release.

How will the changes affect IE6 and IE7 usage?

IE6 was introduced in 2001 on Windows XP and can still be operated with the Service Pack 3 version of that operating. However, Microsoft no longer updates IE6 and has officially declared it “time to say goodbye” to the iconic software version, as it is incapable of running more developed coding.

IE7 was released in 2006 and is still available for download on operating systems up to and including Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Windows XP users who still use IE6 and IE7 will be upgraded to IE8, meaning usage will drop significantly. However, if customers have opted not to upgrade previously, they will not be subject to an automatic upgrade.

How will the changes be rolled out?

From January, customers in Australia and Brazil who have turned on automatic updating via Windows Update will receive the new upgrading system. It will then gradually be extended to include users in other territories.

Microsoft says it recognises that businesses and organisations may have reasons for introducing browser updates at their own pace and, alongside the planned rollout, have introduced the IE8 and IE9 Automatic Update Blocker toolkits. In addition, all customers can uninstall updates retrospectively.

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Mozilla Firefox 8 cannot surpass Google’s Chrome

Lean, mean Mozilla update brings welcome improvements and enhancements.

Mozilla Firefox 8 is the latest major update to the popular web browser and includes a wealth of new improvements and features. Add-ons have long been a hallmark of the Firefox experience, allowing users to customise their browsing experience to their own preferences. The update has made a few improvements to the add-on system, including default disabling of add-ons installed by third-party programs, and a new system for managing installed add-ons. Twitter has been incorporated into the search bar in a particularly handy fashion. Tab organization has also been updated with a new preference allowing the loading of tabs on demand. This feature also helps to speed up start-up time.

Beneath the hood, the update has added in better support for HTML5, although Firefox still lags behind Chrome in this regard. Overall the update offers better performance and memory use than previously with increased graphics acceleration as well. On the downside Mozilla Firefox 8 features no built in PDF reader, flash or instant page view as can be found in Chrome, and the HTML5 support is behind Chrome. It is said that the startup speed has improved but it still lags behind that of IE9 and Chrome.

download Mozilla Firefox 8

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