Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Ok… so… this is where I’m at…

Sometimes being me can be difficult and frustrating.

Given the current state of consumer computing, finding a business solution for me and my needs at the office has been really difficult. As such, I’m finding myself stuck between a rock and hard place.

This area of no man’s land where I shuttle myself between two different ecosystems just to get critical work done is getting to be a pain. I honestly hate what’s going on, and I’ve got to come to some sort of resolution, soon, or I may just decide to pack it all in…

Problem:
Okokokok… so, my problem is that I’m a little OCD when it comes to meeting notes. I don’t like using a standard, paper note pad. In the past, I’ve misplaced them by either leaving them in a conference room, or have accidentally thrown them away or accidentally stuck them in a drawer or filing cabinet when trying to organize and straighten up either my home office or my desk at work.

A Rock…
As such, I made the switch to electronic notes. Originally, I chose Evernote, as it was available for Windows as well as Mac. Typed notes are great – and since I type 65 to 85 words a minute, I was able to keep up with the discussion. However, I got the ol’ stink-eye from a lot of other meeting attendees who complained that the noise from my notebook’s keyboard was distracting. So much for Evernote.

When TabletPC was popular between 2007 and 2010, I switched to OneNote and digital inking. It took me a while to OCR my handwriting, but there were ways around that. This lasted until the TabletPC died. I moved back to this solution when I had a Surface Pro and a Surface Pro 3.

With some of the issues I’ve been having with OneNote recently, continuing to use a Windows PC + Touch + OneNote combination has presented a number of different unresolvable challenges, especially when it comes to a Surface branded PC. They just don’t seem to be very reliable.

Some have asked why I have chosen to stick with a Surface branded PC, when something like a Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2 in 1 laptop would do the trick. Dell PC’s have their own issues, in my opinion, including the bundling of crapware and other undesirable software like MacAfee Live Safe. Removal of this software isn’t easy and takes a lot of time. Other Windows PC’s also have their own issues when it comes to drivers; and unfortunately, graphic drivers are always high on the hit list. I don’t know a Windows PC that doesn’t suffer from some sort of graphics driver gotcha.

A Hard Place
At this point, I know a bunch of you are trying to jump through your computers wanting to throttle me, saying, “you switched to an iPad Pro. Why are you still kvetching over this?!” and you’d be right.

I did switch about a year ago. The inking on an iPad Pro, especially with an Apple Pencil, solves all of my inking issues. So what’s all the hullaballoo about? That’s simple – OneNote for iOS.

OneNote for iOS doesn’t work ANYTHING like the desktop version of OneNote for Windows. It also doesn’t work anything like OneNote for macOS (but please, pleASE don’t get me started on a feature comparison between the Windows and macOS versions… you’re just gonna make me cry).

In short – OneNote for iOS is feature deprecated. The iOS version is missing features from both desktop versions; and the features that it does have, work somewhat differently than on either desktop side.

Because things work differently, you run into some serious synchronization bugs that make working with the software rather difficult.

For example, the iOS version of OneNote doesn’t allow you to insert meeting headers into any of your notes. (i.e. it won’t pull meeting information from your calendar and auto insert that into a note page via the Meeting Details button.

winonenote-00

Instead, you must do this on the Windows desktop side.

winonenote-01

When do you this, you MUST insure that you expand all of the collapsed links in the header that is inserted.

winonenote-02

They will appear auto expanded in OneNote for iOS. If you don’t do this, depending on how your handwritten notes are inked and where and how OneNote recognizes those ink strokes – as a contiguous flow of ink or as separate ink strokes – OneNote will move your inking down the page. It is possible, depending on how OneNote sees your ink that your hand written ink may get separated from the rest of your notes, thereby becoming illegible chicken scratch.

If your writing is recognized as continuous word objects, this won’t happen, but you won’t know this until you either try to select a block of ink and move it yourself, or until the header or other object from the desktop side gets inserted via sync from your desktop copy.

I’ve had this happen to me, and unfortunately, trying to piece things back together again is really difficult, and your notes end up ruined. I shouldn’t have to completely change the way I write just to make certain my digital inked notes synch correctly with all of the required meeting information.

Conclusion
I may be whining about this a bit, and I’m willing to accept that; but this is getting to be a little silly. There are three (3) different, disconnected teams writing OneNote software – the Desktop Windows Team, the macOS Team and the iOS Team. Why they are working on different feature sets? Why are feature basic sets deprecated between the three versions? Why are the teams working from appears to be a different vision for each version of the app on separate platforms? Shouldn’t this at least be unified? Shouldn’t this all be on the same page with the same feature sets?

Hint-hint… Bring the iOS, macOS and Android versions all up to feature parity with the Desktop Windows version of OneNote.

To be very honest, working with the iOS version of OneNote isn’t easy. The object selection tools are difficult to work with. Items often don’t get selected correctly, or fall off during a drag and drop and need to be reselected or grabbed again. Dragged objects or group of objects often don’t drop in the right place, and I end up arguing with OneNote for iOS on where and how objects get placed on a page.

Inking..? Oh yeah… it’s generally fine; but starting at the right point on the page so that when meeting information is inserted in the page there’s enough room for any collapsed text or graphics (whatever was in the body of the invitation when it was sent/ received) fits when it syncs over to the iOS version (and is auto expanded) without messing up any of your inking can be very challenging.

I find myself working around all of the issues more than actually getting any work done with OneNote for iOS.

…and THAT’S why I’m seriously considering a Windows touch device purchase.

I know right…?!

It seems crazy with all of the issues I’ve outlined above. However, in a Microsoft dominated and driven corporate world, what else am I supposed to do? Microsoft drives businesses. It drives industries. The entire world uses is office suite components. How do you switch to something else, when you need to integrate with other Office files? It seems a bit silly to switch to something else…some other kind of note taking tool at this point.

Where do you sit with all of this? Are you a OneNote user? Are you using OneNote for iOS? Do you use inking in OneNote on ANY platform? What has your experience been with it? I’d love to hear what you have to say; or if any of you have any recommendations for me. Why don’t you join me in the discussion area, below and give me your thoughts on all of this.

Related Posts:

What’s with the Sleep of Death Thing..?!

Really..!? Surface Book users are still dealing with driver issues??

I’ve been testing Windows for Microsoft since Windows 95 – that goes back to 1995, so more than 20 years – and if there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that Microsoft Windows has ALWAYS had issues with power management. It doesn’t matter if its sleep, hibernation, or simply creating profiles to manage power use… battery life management on any kind of portable computer has been a freakin’ train wreck for Microsoft since someone put Windows on a laptop for the first time.

sleep of death

…and 20 years later, things haven’t changed much.

Based on what I learned late last night, Microsoft is STILL having driver and power related issues on its new Surface Book convertible notebook/ tablet.

Now, between us, if this was just any Windows laptop, I wouldn’t be so surprised or very concerned, for that matter; but Surface Book is a PREMIUM computing product, with some configurations costing well over $4000 USD after tax (when configured with Surface Dock, Microsoft Complete Accident Protection for Surface Book, Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition and Surface Ethernet Adapter). Configurations of Surface Book start at $1499 USD. And that, kids is really the bottom line – this common problem that goes back well over 20 years, is happening with a $4000, Microsoft branded laptop.

You may recall my rant, published the other day, about Microsoft purchasing LinkedIn. I had a reader comment to me that I really must be upset with Microsoft as I spent at least two paragraphs ranting about Surface Pro and Surface Book in THAT article.

Yeah… I think you can say that I am…

Allow me to be blunt here, folks – I’m very bearish on Microsoft over the Surface Pro 3/ Pro 4 and Surface Book for my issues and concerns around OneNote. The bottom line there is a video driver issue. So it’s clear to me, that Microsoft is having a very serious driver development issue that it just can’t see to get around. When I said earlier that this problem goes back to the days of Windows 95 and the first laptops running Windows 95 and Windows 98, I wasn’t kidding. In nearly 21 years of covering Windows and mobile computing, I have never had Microsoft power management features work as designed on all of the hardware I’ve used it on. And nearly every time there’s a problem with Windows, it nearly is always related to some sort of driver conflict (and then nearly always a battery or power management related driver).

I don’t know if this is because Windows runs on just about any and every type of computer hardware in the world (heck, even a Mac can run Windows and do it WELL), meaning that the hardware options are just too diverse to manage, or if it’s because the developers that write this stuff don’t know what they’re doing (the INDIVIDUAL drivers don’t work right) or if it’s just a matter of too many developers writing code that just can’t work and play well with others.

I don’t know; but when entry level buy in for a Surface Book is well over $1500 after taxes, shipping and any necessary/ wanted accessories and warranty, this level of performance is completely unacceptable. At this point, Microsoft doesn’t necessarily have a fix or resolution yet for any of these power/ hibernation/ sleep problems.

Reddit users are having field day with this. Many of them are using traditional support channels to try to address the problem with varying levels of success, but never final resolution. When they finally get fed up and try to return the device to Microsoft, most are being met with the, “Microsoft doesn’t accept any returns after 30 days,” excuse… which is sending some users through the roof.

However, Microsoft is standing firm on its 30 day return policy. If you’ve had it for more than 30 days, it’s yours. Period.

As of two weeks ago (as of this writing), the Sleep of Death issue is still plaguing the Surface Book and many Surface Pro 4’s. How and when Microsoft will resolve this issue is anyone’s guess, however. They haven’t been able to resolve this issue, EVER.

The only work around that I know for it is to NOT use any sleep or hibernation features. While this will require you to shut down the night before and restart your Surface Book cold every morning (or every time you want or need to use it). There are to my knowledge, no known whole or even partial resolutions for this issue, regardless of hardware.

If you sleep your machine and then try to wake it from sleep hours later, be prepared to be forced to pull all power cables/ batteries from it so that it fully shuts down. If you failed to save any work prior to finding your computer in this condition, you’ll lose any unsaved work. Unfortunately, the only thing that I, or anyone, for that matter, knows to do to resolve this particular condition is to power the device completely off and to do a cold restart.

Do you own or use a Surface Book or Surface Pro 4 that is experiencing the Sleep of Death? Do you use any other Windows powered computer that bumps into the problem? Have you found any way to resolve the problem? Have you tried to return your Surface Book to Microsoft after owning it for more than 30 days only to be told that you can’t?

If any of these things have happened to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can either meet me in the Discussion area below or send me email to chris (at) oneitechgear (dot) org.

Related Posts:

Whisky Tango Foxtrot – Microsoft Buys LinkedIn

This was the WTF on the top of my day…

I’ve been a LinkedIn member since the very early 2000’s. Back in the day, you had to be INVITED to join LinkedIn, and you couldn’t connect with just ANYONE. You really had to have done business with a person or had to have worked with them; and you had to know their email address, too. If you didn’t know them, LinkedIn wouldn’t let you connect. In situations like that, you had to have a common contact between you and your desired connection “introduce” you; and then the person you were trying to connect with would very often either ignore you, or decline the connection. Back in the day, actually MAKING a connection on LinkedIn was a BIG deal.

LinkedIn used to be… USED to be… VERY exclusive.

microsoft buys linkedin

Today, it was purchased in total by Microsoft (MSFT) in a $26.2B (that’s Billion with a “B”), all cash deal, that is likely going to be 2016’s most outrageous and totally over paid deal of the year.

If I were the guys at LinkedIn… I’d be laughing all the way to the bank. If I were Microsoft, I would be trying to figure out how long it would be before I’d totally call the acquisition a failure before writing everything off… and if I were a long time, seriously dedicated LinkedIn user (and I am…) I’d keep my eyes open for the next big professional, social networking site. If I were Lynda.com, I’d be doing my best to try to figure out the best way to buy myself out of this deal…

If it doesn’t sound like I have a lot of confidence in Microsoft, or this acquisition, you’d be correct. I don’t. Not one bit.

Over the past couple of years, Microsoft’s track record for integrating businesses into its core hasn’t been a huge success. They bought Nokia and burnt it to the ground. They’ve totally screwed up their ENTIRE mobile strategy as a result, and I think I can say with 100% certainty that they have totally ruined their chances of EVER having any kind of meaningful presence in the mobile computing space.

On top of this, I have no confidence that OneNote is EVER going to work right on a Surface Pro 3 or Surface Pro 4.

Speaking of the Surface Pro… don’t even get me started on this thing. As much as I like it – and honestly, I really do – it’s not a tablet. It’s not. It’s an ultrabook. At best, it’s a slate computer with a removable keyboard…

THAT’s not a tablet, folks.

That’s a really thin PC with an even thinner keyboard. It runs desktop Windows. It doesn’t run Windows Phone or Windows 10 Mobile. (and a UWP – Universal Windows Platform – does NOT a unified OS make… Just because the same version of Notepad that runs on desktop Windows will also run on Windows Mobile, doesn’t mean that Windows Mobile and desktop Windows are the same operating system. If they were…the same build would run on any Windows compatible device, regardless of form factor, and that’s simply NOT the case…)

Getting back on track… If I can’t trust Microsoft to not screw up my productivity software or produce an ultrabook that doesn’t have ENDLESS driver problems, or to not totally obliterate a mobile platform that, quite honestly should be ruling the world (because it outlasted Blackberry and had THE most universal mail platform that during 2009 – 2011 simply EVERYONE was using and interoperating with), or to not totally cannibalize and destroy THE single, most prestigious name in mobile handsets on the entire planet, how the H3LL am I – or anyone for that matter – going to trust them NOT to screw up the BEST – and really ONLY – professional networking site on the internet?

I have ZERO confidence in Microsoft when it comes to LinkedIn. I mean… when they integrated Skype into their productivity model, it didn’t screw it up at all, did it…?? It took me years to build and curate the pedigree that is my LinkedIn profile.

Quite honestly, LinkedIn is how I landed my last two jobs. If LinkedIn goes sideways, the entire way people look for jobs and network with coworkers and potential, professional network contacts will need to change. This may sound totally cynical, and it likely is, but I don’t have the time, patience or desire to completely rebuild that wheel; and based on what Microsoft did with Surface Mini, has been doing with Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, Windows Phone, Windows 8.x and Windows 10, I have zero confidence that they will succeed with LinkedIn on their watch.

I think my former coworker, Paul Thurrott said it best, “So let’s see. Microsoft is spending four Nokias for a company that will it treat like Skype. Does that sound like a recipe for success to anyone?”

Related Posts:

Windows 10 – Where Are We?

It’s been six(6) months since its initial release.  How is Windows 10 shaping up?

windows-10 were are we

Introduction

My good buddy Ed Bott recently published an article on the state of Windows 10 from an industry perspective and it got me thinking of my OWN experience with Window s10, now that it’s been out for six or so months.

It’s not all sunshine and daisies.  In fact, there’s a lot that needs to be fixed and changed.  Here’s where I think the new OS stands at this point.

The UI

To say that the Windows 10 user interface is an improvement over Windows 8.x is a bit of an understatement.  The UI is a huge improvement and one that nearly everyone who used Windows 8.x is glad to see.  The Start Menu is back, and it’s something that nearly everyone is happy about.  This single most, familiar UI tidbit is something that’s been around in computing since the release of Windows 95 – nearly 21years – and it’s something that nearly every consumer and corporate user has used and identified with as the beginning of their computing experience that they just can’t seem to give it up. Honestly, seeing as everyone nearly lost their minds when Microsoft replaced with the Start Screen, it’s amazing that people were able to use Windows 8.x at all.  I mean, without a place to Start, how do you get work done?

The other, most noticeable change to the UI is the removal and death of Charms and the inclusion of the Action Center.  The Charms were the UI element that you saw when you swiped in from the right edge of the screen with either your finger or with your mouse cursor.  Those have been replaced by the Action Center, which is a general catch all for notifications and other items requiring… well, requiring user action.

The Action Center has been well received, in my opinion. It’s an easy tool to use, and gives you access to the system events you need to act on.  Charms never did anything of value in my opinion, and were very confusing.

The thing that helped Windows 10 out the most is that, in all reality, its UI is more Windows 7 like.  All of the ModernUI elements are gone.  The ModernUI apps have been changed to Universal Apps and have a totally different look and feel to them.  Isn’t it funny what a new coat of paint will do..?

The Update Mechanism

Microsoft seems hell bent on putting older versions of Windows out to pasture.  It’s a problem they created for themselves with the support lifecycle of Windows XP and the absolute failure and public rejection of Windows Vista. An operating system version should never be in active support for 15 years.

As such, Windows 10 is on an auto update trajectory with destiny.

(Provided you have a legitimate, REAL copy…) If you run Windows 7, Microsoft is going to upgrade you to Windows 10 whether you want it or not… whether you like it or not.  …) If you run Windows 8.x, Microsoft is going to upgrade you to Windows 10 whether you want it or not… whether you like it or not.  There is no opt out.  If you run an earlier version of Windows on your PC, other than a version of Windows 10, you’re going to eventually run Windows 10 on that PC.

Period.

Get over it. Stop complaining and just accept it.  Apparently, there’s not much anyone can do.  Microsoft is hell bent on getting all the world’s Windows users off of their older version of Windows and on to Windows 10… and apparently, they don’t  care who they upset or anger in the process; and it doesn’t matter if you have that version of Windows running on hardware that the OEM won’t support with Windows 10.

In and of itself, upgrading and updating hardware that is on and supports Windows 10, is very easy. All the updates are pulled down in the background.  You don’t even have to run Windows Update. It’s now a service that is run for you and all you have to do – at most – is simply restart your computer.

This is the cool part of the update mechanism.  In fact, you don’t even have to restart your PC. Windows will do it for you and then apply all of the outstanding updates it has downloaded.

It’s the most hassle free way to update Windows… provided you actually want or are really able to run Windows 10.

Recovery

I have yet to have Windows 8.x’s or Windows 10’s Recovery mode/ partition – whatever you want to call it – work correctly for me.  And trust me…. this is definitely NOT a PEBKAC issue (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair).  I know my way around Windows; and honestly…

The feature just doesn’t work.

Most often, the feature doesn’t boot into Recovery Mode. It simply reboots the device, which totally defeats the purpose of the recovery partition in the first place.

When the recovery partition does do something else other than just simply reboot the device back into Windows 10, things usually go very, very wrong.  Wrong to the tune of, “I need to download the recovery image from the internet, create a USB boot stick and try to run that to blow the device and start from factory fresh because my device is now hosed,” wrong.

And to be quite honest, I’ve had the same problem with the recovery partition in Windows 8.x AND in Windows 10.  If you’ve been successful with a restore or complete wipe with the recovery partition running off the device’s internal drive and not off a USB stick, I’d love to talk to you about the experience and the process.

Microsoft’s Signature Hardware

I don’t want to over play this too much. I wanted to start off this section by saying something like, “wow! What a train wreck the Surface Pro and Surface Book are,” but that really isn’t very fair.

Make no mistake.  Both of these devices have some very serious problems.  Both of them have graphics driver issues that (at the very least) are at the root of the disappearing ink issue I’ve been barking about for the past year or more.  The problem is so severe, that it’s also effecting the Surface Pro 3 (a problem, that I think many – including Microsoft – are overlooking).

The Surface Book as graphic driver issues but also has sleep and battery related problems. These problems are so severe that in many cases when users try to put the Surface Book to sleep, the device won’t sleep.  When users try to sleep their computer and then put the device in a backpack or laptop bag, they often get what has been dubbed, “hot bag syndrome.” This is when  the computer fails to sleep, continues to run, tries to “cool” itself with ever warming air (due to it being confined to the small, secure space of a laptop section in either a backpack or laptop bag), becomes overheated and the battery then quickly drops its charge to zero (0).

Having both the disappearing ink/ graphics driver issue along with these battery and sleep issues has made the Surface Book nearly unusable for many.  Thankfully, I haven’t  succumbed to any pressure related to making a Surface Book purchase. The device is simply too pricey to begin with.  To have these simple usability issues on top of it all is nearly unforgivable in my opinion.

While this doesn’t make Windows 10 unusable, it kinda does make you wonder why Microsoft is having issues that it can’t seem to fix with its own, native hardware running its flagship OS, and many OEM’s are not.

I think I’ll just leave that one there to fester for a while…

Conclusion

I’m going to make this short.  Windows 10 isn’t bad, but Microsoft has a ways to go yet, in my mind.

The UI is pretty good, and a much better improvement over Windows 10.  I think Microsoft peaked in 2009 with Windows 7; but that’s my opinion. They haven’t always gotten things right, straight out of the gate.  Heck, it took them three versions of Windows before they got THAT right (Windows 3.0 was the first big hit for Windows, and then it took three versions of Windows 3.x – Windows 3.0, 3.1 and Windows 3.11 – before they got THAT right.

Their update mechanism isn’t bad, but they need to stop forcing the upgrade on users who don’t want it or can’t run it because their hardware isn’t rated for it.  If I don’t want Windows 10, please stop forcing it on me and my under rated hardware.

Their recovery mechanism needs a bit of work. I haven’t been able to make it work right.  Unfortunately, with the way Windows problems work, in many ways its always been easier to rebuild a system rather than troubleshooting it. That isn’t always the case now.

Finally, Microsoft needs to stop screwing around and needs to fix the driver problems in their Signature hardware.  If Microsoft can’t get this right, it’s hard to think that OEM’s and other PC manufacturers will.

Have you had issues with Windows 10?  Are you satisfied with the way it runs on your upgraded or native PC?  I’d love to hear how things are working for you.  Why don’t you join me in the Discussion area below, and give me your thoughts on the matter.

Related Posts:

Here Comes the iPad Pro

A replacement candidate for the Surface Pro 3 has been identified…

iPad-Pro-Smart-Keyboard

Yes, yes, yes… I know.

Many of you expected this and are not surprised at all – the iPad Pro is going to get a chance to be my digital note taker in the office.

When I dumped my Surface Pro 3, I was pretty annoyed. Hell, let’s face it – I was really mad. The Surface Pro 3 has some real issues with Windows 10 and Microsoft OneNote 2013/ 2016.

It’s not pretty…

When I put the Surface Pro 3 head to head with the Surface Pro 4, I came away with some serious concerns and misgivings about where Microsoft was headed with the Surface Pro line (which, by the way, includes the Microsoft’s Surface Book).

Both the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book have problems with drivers, battery life, and in the case of the Surface Book, detaching from the native keyboard. These issues are so severe, in some cases, that people – including the friend I have in the office who lent me his SP4 to put head to head with my SP3 – returned them for replacement or refund. It’s a shame, too, as all three of these ultrabooks are really very nice… you just apparently have to use them for the right tasks, with power available, and without detaching the keyboard (in the case of the Surface Book), or you run into problems.

To be honest, it was the head to head article that I wrote that really pushed things over the edge for me and really prompted me to sell (read: dump) my Surface Pro 3. Windows 10 is problematic on it and OneNote is almost unusable, if you’re not careful.

So, enter the iPad Pro…

The office procured one for me, and I’ll be putting it through its paces. I’ve got the 128GB version on T-Mobile; and I’m using a instead of Apple’s Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro. it’s a matter of preference, really… I’ve played with the Pro’s Smart Keyboard and I didn’t like the way the keys felt; or the way it worked (attached to the iPad and flipped around). I instead asked for the Logitech Create Keyboard, and though it adds a great deal of [overall] thickness to the device, it provides a much better typing and computing experience in my opinion. The keys have nice travel, and I’m able to touch type on it as I would with any other laptop or computer I work with.

The fact that it’s at least $20 USD cheaper than the Apple Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro is just a bonus.

Yes… I have an Apple Pencil scheduled to arrive in the next week or two. The fact that these things are hard to come by (I’ve been calling the local Apple Store a few times a week to inquire about buying one in store) isn’t helping matters. The iPad Pro really wants an Apple Pencil, despite the fact that taking notes in OneNote via the Logitech Create Keyboard works very, very well.

I’ll have a full review of the iPad Pro, the Logitech CREATE Keyboard and the Apple Pencil as soon as I’ve had a chance to spend some time with all of them.

At this point, I’m working on an opinion. If you just can’t wait and need something to chew on, you can go back and read this article on what’s going to make or break the iPad Pro. While it may have been a bit early on in the process for me, I really think the article speaks to some of the major hurdles the device is going to have to get passed in order to be the success that it wants and needs to be, especially in the enterprise.

In the meantime, just hang out…

I’ve got a few other interesting things that I’m working on that many of you might find interesting:

The Conclusion to the Smartwatch Roundup that I’ve been writing for (literally) the last year. While all of the principle players have been reviewed, I’ve got some issues that I’m still trying to work through with the Olio Mode One that have been keeping me much more occupied than I would like…
The review of the Hendocks Horizontal Dock for MacBook Pro 15″ Retina. While there are some issues to work through, I’ve been rather happy with the way things have been going; but I don’t want to ruin the review.
The Release of Windows 10 Mobile. Its rumored to be right around the corner. I’m hoping that the Windows Phone I have gets the upgrade sooner rather than later. If it does, I’ll have a full review, rather than just a news-based article speaking to the release of Microsoft’s mobile OS.

What about you? Did you get any new tech for the Holidays? Am I missing some big piece of gadgetry that I should follow up with an article or two or with a full review? Will wearables continue to be a big player in 2016? Is the iPad Pro JUST a bigger iPad or will it be as ground breaking as Apple hopes it will be?

Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and give me your take on all of these and more? I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say!

Related Posts:

Windows 10 and Dell Latitude 10 ST2

Well, I found out that Dell doesn’t support Windows 10 on this device…

And isn’t THAT just dandy..?!?

Funny thing is, I’m getting pestered all over the place from Microsoft (via their Windows 10 Upgrade stub) to upgrade the device to Windows 10.

capture

In fact, it (and Microsoft) won’t leave me alone about it.

So, what is a Windows user to do?  Because this is the huge debate and dilemma of Late 2015: My PC OEM isn’t supporting Windows 10 on my device, but since it runs a version of Windows that qualifies for the free Windows 10 upgrade, and the Windows 10 upgrade stub knows this, I get nagged.

I get nagged a lot.  A LOT, a lot; and this creates a bit of a problem.

Microsoft has changed its Windows 10 upgrade options. You used to be able to ignore or defer the upgrade.  Now, you get to upgrade NOW or, later tonight.

windows10-upgrade

Microsoft’s Windows 10 upgrade is a 3.0 to 5.0 GB (give or take a couple hundred megabytes) file that Microsoft is pushing to your computer, whether you want it or not. This upgrade now or upgrade later today stuff has been viewed as malware or spamming mentality.  I’m pretty certain you can still “ignore” the process by clicking the red “X” in the upper right corner (effectively quitting the program), but it’s clear, Microsoft is taking a very aggressive – not assertive, but aggressive – stance on getting people to move to Windows 10, especially on the consumer side.  If you have Windows 7 or Windows 8.x on your personal, home computer, Microsoft has set its sites on you.

This would be fine, if Windows 10 weren’t a train wreck.

It would also be fine if my only remaining Windows machine weren’t unsupported on Windows 10.

Now, to be honest, I’ve got Windows 10 on it already; but there are a huge number of problems with it.  Internet access is difficult on in, as Windows doesn’t always recognize that it actually HAS an active internet connection (though, I’m connected to either Wi-Fi or wired LAN via a USB dongle). Sometimes I have to reboot the tablet four to five times before Windows sees the internet connection. I have no idea why; but this causes a number of different issues, especially with Windows Update (as well as general internet web browsing).

But that aside, it really begs the whole question, of what do you do when the OEM says Windows <the latest version> isn’t supported on your computer?  How do you convince the Windows 10 upgrade app to leave you alone and stop nagging to have Windows 10 installed?

And if it does install (and the experience sucks as bad as it does…), how many times do I have to pull it off before Microsoft and Windows 10 finally leaves you alone and lets you stick with your Windows 7/ 8.x experience?  Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn’t addressed this problem.  They’re assuming – or seem to be assuming – that if the device ran fine under Windows 7 or Windows 8.x that it will run Windows 10 without issue.  I think I’ve shown, or at least convinced myself, that that isn’t always the case.

Barring the forced upgrade issue

(and assuming you get stuck in a periodic, forced upgrade loop) when do you stop downgrading? I’ve actually pulled Windows 10 off my Dell Latitude 10 ST2, twice – once during the Beta period and once after the July 2015 initial release of Windows 10.  As far as I know, as long as you have a pre Windows 10 version of Windows on your PC, you’re going to get hit with this time and again (especially since the downgrade process doesn’t always work and in many cases people have to blow their PC’s and start over, or use a restore DVD/ USB stick to get back to an earlier version of Windows).

Microsoft is giving everyone who upgrades 30 days to go back to their previous version.  Have you decided that Windows 10 wasn’t for you?  I haven’t heard of too many individuals that have fallen into this trap or have been forced to upgrade only to put their computer back to the previous version, though I’m certain that some have done that.  Unfortunately, Microsoft isn’t making stats on those that have reverted to their previous Windows version available.  When they have a 1B user target their trying to hit, I’m certain that they aren’t wanting to advertise how many people have downgraded their PC.

Have you bumped into this problem?  Is your computer officially unsupported on Windows 10 (as mine is)? Have you been forced to upgrade your computer? If so, what’s the experience like?  Did you downgrade back to your previous version of Windows?  Did Windows pester you and make you upgrade again?  How did you make it all stop?  I’d love to hear from you if you did.

Related Posts:

What’s Going to Make or Break the iPad Pro

It might not be what you think…

Introduction

The iPad Pro is now available at an Apple Store near you. With everything that it can do – differently – than your run of the mill iPad, this thing could be huge in the corporate world. However, its going to take a little bit; and not everyone or everything is keen on its (potential) success.

The iPad Pro is the first iPad you can take to work. It has a native keyboard. Previous iPads didn’t come with a native keyboard. They have a smart cover only. If you want some kind of a keyboard, you have to go third party; and then (nearly) all of those keyboards connect to your iPad via Bluetooth.

ipad pro

The iPad Pro has a native, hardware keyboard cover that that connects to the device via three small contacts on the long edge of the device. The keyboard is backlit, powered by the device, and provides a standardized, tactile experience when typing with it. While third party keyboards are available – like the Logitech CREATE – this is the first iPad keyboard available directly from Apple for their tablet.

There is one big caveat, though – the hardware upgrade cycle on the iPad Pro has to be longer than one year. It needs to be closer to three to five years, or something that more closely and appropriately matches corporate computer leasing cycles – which may be two to three years or longer. The hardware is expensive enough without having to draw to purchase something new each and every year.

Given that, this isn’t what is going to make the iPad Pro great.

The iPad Pro also has a new stylus called the Apple Pencil. This is the first stylus for iPad that Apple has created as a native accessory for the iPad.

I’m certain that Steve Jobs is now rolling over in his grave.

Steve was always adamant that the iPad would never have or need a stylus. In fact, back in 2010 when most mobile devices had plastic sticks for a stylus, Steve Jobs was adamant that the only stylus an iPad user would ever need was their index finger. It worked. It couldn’t get lost, and materially contributed to the productivity and simplicity of the device.

In essence… Steve Jobs gave us the finger. Oh goody…

The Apple Pencil has 2048 different levels of pressure sensitivity. It has a rechargeable battery (where 15 seconds of charge will give you 30 minutes of battery life). Its weighted and doesn’t feel like it will snap in half when you use it. It can be used for creative purposes (drawing, painting, calligraphy, etc.), for technical purposes like schematics and blueprints, as well as for handwriting and notes.

But this isn’t what will make the iPad Pro great.

Honestly, the one thing that will make the iPad Pro great, is the one thing that it really doesn’t have yet.

Apps

Yes, apps; and more importantly, iPad Pro specific apps.

The hardware is in place. The iOS ecosystem exists and functions well. The App Store is in place and sells apps for all iDevices. The one thing that the iPad Pro doesn’t have, though… is iPad Pro specific apps. I’m not talking about the creative side of the world. Things like the Adobe Creative Suite are easy to see in this space. I’m talking about other apps…

There are a few specific issues here that I want to touch on. I’ve been trying to work through this for a few days, so please bear with me. This isn’t something that is a huge get or anything for Apple or any other app developer. However, its going to require a bit of cooperation that currently doesn’t exist. It will need to happen if the iPad Pro is going to be the success that it can and needs to be for Apple to be successful in the enterprise.

But before I get into all of that mess, let’s talk apps. Apps are the key to the iPad Pro being a success in the enterprise. Without them, the iPad Pro remains nothing more, really than just a really big iPad, and nothing more.

Without apps, the iPad Pro is really nothing more than a really big iPad with a stylus that can now get lost. Without apps, the iPad Pro is really nothing more than a big iPad with a stylus that can now get lost AND with an over priced, cloth covered, keyboard cover.

But which apps? Really glad you asked…

Microsoft Office – Outlook, OneNote, Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iOS already exist. It might be nice if Microsoft came out with an iPad Pro specific version that was a bit more powerful, but even if they didn’t, the versions that we have will work; but what we have now should really be considered a baseline or the bare minimum of functionality. They work for any iDevice with any kind of keyboard. Differentiation should really be the mantra here (and keep that close to your thoughts – differentiation…).

CRM Services

Most CRM apps – like Salesforce and Microsoft CRM – are web apps. While those will definitely work on the iPad Pro via Safari or other iOS compatible browser, and are made the more powerful by the 128GB LTE version (because it has access to the web from anywhere where there’s a cell signal), a client based app with some kind of data capture and reporting capabilities (for running basic, client and/ or data specific reports) would be huge win on the iPad Pro platform.

With something like this on a tablet near you, you can manage cases, customer needs and concerns, sales and service requests, etc. With the right data on your machine and the right reporting engine, you can pull together detailed service analyses detailing parts needed or consumed within a specific quarter or on a specific device or machine model you suspect may have reached its end of life. The possibilities are endless with the right app – the right data and the right reporting engine can make all the difference when your trying to upsell service contracts to your top clients.

Microsoft Office and Related Tools

I’ve already talked a bit about Office and a more powerful iPad Pro only version. I’m not going to rehash that. Its fairly obvious. And speaking of Office, there are some enterprise level apps that are currently missing form the Apple side of the fence – Visio and Project are nowhere to be seen, and quite honestly, in order for any Apple hardware to be taken seriously in the enterprise and for them to be any thing else other than a second class enterprise citizen, Microsoft needs to pull together both Visio and Project for both OS X and iOS. While they’re at it, they could also bring some feature parity to OneNote for both OS X and iOS.

The one thing though that is missing from this is SharePoint.

SharePoint right now is a Windows PC only kinda thing. Microsoft doesn’t have any kind of SharePoint client for its own mobile platform (and who can blame them – they don’t have a true tablet and their mobile phone platform is a joke at less than a 3% world-wide market share, but… I digress), let alone one for Mac or Linux. However, if they came up with extensions that would allow Safari or Chrome (for Android) to access SharePoint sites on a company’s intranet.

From there, you could collaborate on Office based documents, share data, etc. In offices that make use of core Microsoft services, having access to SharePoint’s sharing and collaboration based services can make a huge difference to the productivity levels of its mobile management members who spend most of their work days moving from one conference room to another for one meeting to the next.

Networking and File System Utilities

Now… couple all THAT with VPN software, telnet clients and a way to mount local SMB file shares so you can browse and work with files while connected to a wireless network in either your office or while on the road through that VPN.

Your iPad just got a lot more professional looking.

In fact, its likely now more of a notebook replacement – or at least, notebook companion – than you thought it was just a few moments ago.

Now, let’s talk file system for just a second… The beauty of the iPad and nearly every other iDevice is that its light. Its fast. The OS doesn’t get bogged down by a bunch of resource hogging overhead that prevents you from doing what you want or need to do quickly.

This is partially due to the fact that iOS doesn’t work the way that your Mac does. I don’t know if everyone wants a full blown, user accessible, file system exposed. While it may solve some problems, its going to uncover others and create new ones.

The biggest problem with the lack of a file system is that users really can’t manage files locally. If you want to work with any of your data, you have to do it in the cloud, and then those apps that do it, don’t really allow you to organize or use your files the way you can on a desktop PC or notebook. In fact, only specific apps – like Pages, Numbers or Keynote – allow you to see what data you have, and then only those files that they can work with.

With the introduction of the iCloud Drive app in iOS 9.x, you now have a bit more control and access to your data in that cloud-based storage service, but its not the same as working with Finder on your Mac.

Apple needs to close the gap a bit, and then your data and files need to be accessible by any and all apps, not just those that are iCloud enabled. Think of this as iCloud Drive Sync Lite, or iCloud Drive Sync for iOS. I want and need to be able to access my data locally, when I’m offline, and then have the changes sync up.

Further, this lite file sync shouldn’t be limited to iCloud Drive, but should allow hooks for OneDrive and Google Drive. You should be able to get to your cloud based files no matter what file sync system you use. In order to help this happen, and to insure that its secure, its likely that the whole thing will need to be sandboxed. At least that way, if one of your files has a bug, the damage it can do is limited.

Engineering Utilities

I’m not going to go too deep here. However, there are some tools that for some specific vertical markets that are sorely needed.

A buddy of mine is a Cisco VoIP Engineer. He’s looking to the iPad Pro to help him do his job. Things like RTMT (Real Time Monitoring Tool) that allows VoIP engineers to view traffic passing over cable in real time. If there’s a problem with a router a connection or other item, this tool is going to help them narrow it down. Getting access to other corporate resources on the Cisco corporate network with Cisco AnyConnect VPN is also going to allow them to contact others with analytical information so problems can be solved and solutions put in place.

Yes. You’re right. This can be done with a Windows computer.

The need here is that a full size notebook is one more thing that they have to carry. Most Cisco VoIP engineers travel from client site to client site throughout the day. If they can get the same job done with a lighter, more compact tool than a Windows PC, they’re all over it.

The same can be said for other service techs that manage workstations, servers and other enterprise configurations like Active Directory and Azure servers. If you look at other vertical markets – Sales, medical and hospital, insurance…ANY kind of insurance – it all fits.

Support from Apple

So… what does Apple need to do? Well, that’s a really good question.

A lot of it relates to policy they’ve put in place to help them make money and other policy, but it comes down to a few different things.

Differentiation
Remember when I mentioned differentiation? Yeah. The iPad Pro is a different beast. The A9X processor is a desktop class processor. It can do a lot more than just play video, run an eBook reader or a web browser. It can crunch numbers and do complex graphic displays. Its great for games, but its also great for running presentations while on the go.

Its apps need to reflect its enhanced capabilities. The iPad Pro is more than just a big iPad. Its apps need to call out that difference, and need to do so loudly. The device is expensive. Apple needs to help users justify the cost.

The iPad Pro needs its own app classification. While it may run apps for any other iDevice, there should be some apps that run only on the iPad Pro – enhanced versions of MS Office for iOS, Visio for iOS, Project for iOS, etc.

On the creative side, there should be some drawing and graphic apps that contain iPad Pro only features and functions. One of the easiest ways to do that is to require the use of the Apple Pencil, for example. The point is that the apps that I use may run just fine on any other iPad out there, but should do something different… something special… on the iPad Pro. Users will pay a premium for this device. They need to feel as though they’re getting something for their premium dollar.

The other thing that Apple needs to do is develop a different software model for Professional apps. On the enterprise side, there are a number of apps out there that follow the old Shareware model where an app functions with full functionality for a set period of time after its installation. This gives users a chance to evaluate apps to see if they meet their expectations and needs. You can’t do this under the current App Store. Unfortunately, that needs to change on the enterprise side of the app world. We need to try before we buy, not buy before we try.

Apple’s Cut
To put it bluntly, Apple’s 30% cut might need to be reexamined here. Most enterprise apps are going to cost a heck of a lot more than $10 bucks. This works for Apple on the consumer side for a number of reasons. Mostly because when the App Store hit the market, it was the only thing of its kind. Developers don’t like it but don’t complain too loudly because they make the 30% up in volume.

You aren’t going to see that volume on the enterprise side of things. Not too many people use Project, Visio outside of a work situation. Regular folks won’t need Salesforce or Microsoft CRM. Apple’s going to have to figure out a way of getting their cut without gouging enterprise app developers. Enterprise app devs aren’t going to make the cut up on volume.

Apple may also need to reexamine its ban on subscriptions and in-app catalogs. Again, it works on the consumer side because devs can make up the cut on volume. Volume doesn’t really exist on the enterprise app side.

Conclusion

This seems pretty cut and dry to me. The iPad Pro, even with its new accessories – an electronic, rechargeable, pressure sensitive stylus and a native, device powered keyboard – at the end of the day is just a really big iPad with expensive (some may say overpriced) native accessories.

And they may be right…

If it wasn’t for the apps.

Apps, which ones come out and for which verticals, how they’re implemented and how broadly they appeal to both enterprise users and consumer users who want to do a little enterprise cross over, will be what makes or breaks the iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro needs things like CRM software, an enhanced and differentiated version of Microsoft Office (including Visio and Project) for the iPad Pro, if its going to have a chance at success. Its going to need specialized vertical apps that address very specific needs for Sales individuals, engineering and service individuals, insurance and medical professionals, etc.

More than that, app developers are going to need help from Apple in the form of incentives, and reworked or reimagined demo, beta and shareware app classifications in order to help sell enterprise apps that will undoubtedly cost a great deal more than a copy of Boom Beach or other popular game app.

Finally, Apple’s going to have to find a different way to get their cut of the App Pie. Charging 30% doesn’t sit well with consumer market app developers. The only reason why they haven’t left the App Store is due to volume. They know their going to get volume sales so they don’t complain, at least not too loudly. Volume sales shouldn’t be expected on the enterprise side, especially when you’re talking about vertical markets.

What do you think? Is the iPad Pro the ticket to Apple’s cut of the enterprise pie? Is it the apps more than any thing else with the iPad Pro that will make it a success or am I all wet behind the ears? Why don’t you sound off in the discussion area below and give me your thoughts on it all?

Related Posts:

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:

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