Microsoft Ends Retail Sales of Windows 7

microsoft-windows-7You can’t buy it at the store any more…

I saw this the other day and it was one of those “oh yeah..!” revelations that take you buy surprise, but you kinda already knew if you sit and think about it for a second or two.  Microsoft very quietly has announced that is has ended retail sales of Windows 7 as of October 30, 2013.  However, don’t start panicking just yet.

If you still want Windows 7, you can still get it if you buy a new PC.  However, that’s likely the ONLY way you’re going to get it.  And – here’s the caveat on that – you have to buy that new Windows PC between now and October 30, 2014. Over and above that, the PC vendor you’re buying the hardware from has to offer the PC with Windows 7.  Unfortunately, not all of them do. However, PC vendors that DO provide that option should be able to sell Windows 7 at least until that date (2014-10-30) or two years after the release date of Windows 8.

After that, you can still get Windows 7 if you want. Windows 8 includes downgrade rights, so consumers can put an older OS on a Windows 8 machine if they wish. Further, OEM’s can also make use of those rights and offer the hardware with an older OS if they choose, before it ships.

Microsoft first announced this policy – to stop selling the OLD version of an operating system one year after the latest version is released – in 2010.  With Windows 8 released in October 2012, it was time for this policy to kick in.  However, Microsoft, as late as September 2013 hadn’t acknowledged this. Obviously, now they have.

win7_size

However, if you’re not in the market for new hardware, again…don’t panic. Its likely that you’re still going to be able to find retail copies of Windows 7, though likely not the latest, greatest version as of 2013-10-30, at a number of online retailers, including Amazon, for example, for years.  Copies of XP and Vista were available for quite a while after Microsoft stopped selling it directly to retailers for quite a while, and getting restore DVD’s for current hardware for some level of nominal fee has been possible for Dell customers for as long as I can remember. Downloading ISO images may also be possible, depending on the PC vendor in question.

For those that don’t have options to get Windows 7, you can always use apps like Stardocks’ Start8 to bring the Windows 7 UI experience to Windows 8.x.  The OS itself isn’t bad, its fast, stable and easy to use. It also has touch built in, so if your hardware has a touch screen, you may find it easier to use with Windows 8.  If not, apps like Start8 will make your Windows 8 PC more Windows 7 like.

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One Windows OS (to Rule them All)

App windowsConfirmed – Windows RT to be cut from the Windows catalog.

I love my friends who cover Windows, namely Preston Gralla, Mary Jo Foley and Ed Bott.  They really know their stuff; and they have a number of contacts on the inside, where it counts, that provide them with some awesome insight. Today, I learned something “new.”

Windows RT is going to die.

Well, nearly EVERYONE knew that already; but today we were made aware of a couple interesting statements from Microsoft that all but confirmed it.

The Verge reported that Julie Larson-Green stated at the UBS Global Technology Conference that, “we have Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and full Windows.  We’re not going to have all three.”  Further, Terry Myerson, now heading up the Windows Group at Microsoft stated, “we should have one set of developer APIs on all of our devices…all of the apps we bring to end users should be available on all of our devices.”

Since Windows RT can’t run Windows desktop apps, and won’t, this indicates that the vision here is to have one Windows OS that will run on all devices, including phones, tablets and PC’s.  Since Dell has proven that a Windows Pro device can be just as miserly on battery life as a Windows RT device with its Venue 8 Pro, running Windows 8.1, it’s clear that MS is speaking directly about Windows RT.

Further, since Microsoft took a $900M charge against unsold Surface RT devices and forced Ballmer out, logic dictates that the shelf life of Windows RT and Surface 2 (not Surface Pro 2) are limited.  Consumers have repeatedly indicated that they don’t like the ARM based OS that doesn’t run standard Windows desktop apps.  This was just a matter of time on Microsoft’s part.

If I recall correctly, MJF indicated during a Windows Weekly podcast last month that this was going to happen, but the details have changed slightly. It’s easier to simply kill RT and then move Windows Phone and Windows to a single platform that it would have been to combine all three into a newer or single platform. The whole idea behind RT was to create a tablet platform, but Microsoft missed the boat when it created a separate platform instead of merging Windows Phone and RT together.

Since RT is going to die, and they’ll be merging Phone into Desktop Windows, it’s going to be a LOT easier for developers to create apps and games that can run on either platform. It’s going to make developing and selling apps a lot easier as well.

What do you think? Is this the right move for Microsoft? Why not join in the discussion below, and let us know what you think?

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Run Windows apps in a new OS with ReactOS

reactosIconI’ve always been big on trying new computer operating systems and such. Heck,  I have beta tested every Windows beta since Windows 95 as part of Microsoft’s Technical Beta Team.  I’ve got the golf shirt to prove it.  However, the recent months have produced a lot of uncertainty, and finding a suitable replacement for Windows has crossed a number of people’s minds. That’s where ReactOS comes it. It’s a Windows compatible, alternative operating system that you might want to keep your eyes on.

ReactOS is a free open source operating system based on the architecture found in Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2012. Written completely from scratch, ReactOS is not a Linux variant and does not share any of UNIX’s architecture. ReactOS is its own animal entirely.

The main goal of the project is to provide an operating system that is binary compatible with Windows, allowing you to run Windows applications and drivers. It also has a similar look and feel so that familiar with Windows will find familiar and easy to use. With ReactOS, you get to use all of your Windows apps and device drivers without having to actually run the Microsoft operating system they were intended for.

ReactOS is a free open source operating system based on the best design principles found in the Windows NT architecture (Windows versions such as Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Server 2012 are built on Windows NT architecture). Written completely from scratch, ReactOS is not a Linux based system, and shares none of the UNIX architecture.

reactos-x264

ReactOS comes just at the right time. With all of the uncertainty that is oozing out of Redmond right now, having a Windows compatible alternative operating system is a GREAT idea.  There’s a lot that is going to be good here, however, by the dev team’s own admission, the OS is not ready for everyday use yet.  There is a live CD image, but I couldn’t even get that to run, and I tried booting it on 3 different machines.

There’s a bit of information out there about the OS, and it looks like it will REALLY be cool…someday; but not yet. I couldn’t even get the OS to start so I could take screen shots.

ReactOS is still in an Alpha stage, meaning it’s new, very buggy, much of the hardware that you might install on it won’t work right, and don’t even think about installing things like Microsoft Office on it.  It likely WON’T work…or even install.

HOWEVER, this is something that most everyone here should keep an eye on. Depending on how things go for Microsoft, having an updated, current alternative to Windows that will allow you to install and run all of the software you want and need to get your job done, is going to be important.  This is a good first effort, but it needs time to cook…

download ReactOS

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Create and manage virtual machines with Paragon’s Virtualization Manager 12 Professional

Virtual machines are becoming quite the hot computing topic.  In many cases, they are becoming the way to go for OS testing, specialty software installs, demos and other evaluations.  This is one of the reasons why I like Virtualization Manager Professional. It’s a VM tool for Windows.

Creating bootable images of a supported guest operating system is easy with their native tools. Moving and managing them in combination with each other, isn’t always easy. Managing the combination of more than one guest OS on a host OS, isn’t always easy either.

Virtualization Manager Professional has full OS support for any Windows version from XP forward, including all server edtions.  With it, you can migrate an OS from a physical drive, to a virtual one, or convert a backup image to a bootable virtual drive.  You can also migrate full, bootable operating systems from virtual to physical, virtual to virtual as well as physical to physical.

If you need to make potentially volatile changes to a virtual machine, say for example, to install a difficult to remove application, and don’t want to worry about dealing with program artifacts that may get left behind in your registry or on your hard drive, you can use VMP’s snapshot mode to connect a virtual disk as if it’s an ordinary physical disk and open up all physical-disk functionality in a virtual environment. You can use a read only mode or a special read/write mode that creates a snapshot and applies all changes after the snapshot to test the application without destroying your virtual source drive.

VMP supports virtual machines from Oracle VirtualBox 4, Microsoft Virtual PC, VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop but Parallels supports Connect VD only.

read full review | download Paragon Virtualization Manager 12 Professional

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Windows 8 still a bit glitchy

Microsoft released the Windows 8 Release Preview on, 31-May-12. I’ve pulled down the preview, with all of the Metro Apps and installed it…and then I promptly nuked my Asus Eee T101MT Touch netbook and restored Windows 7 to it.

Why?  Well, that’s pretty simple…

The OS couldn’t turn on the Wi-Fi Radio.

I have Comcast cable internet coming into the house providing me with a speedy 50Mbps down/20Mbps up pipe.  I’ve got 802.11g/n Wi-Fi in the house as well, and I know that when things are humming right and cooking with gas, I can push 22-25MB/s of data across my home network (That’s equivalent to 176-200Mpbs, kids…).  Oh yes… It’s a beautiful thing.

Soft32 will continue to provide in depth, thought provoking analysis on all major platform upgrades and advances, and the summer of 2012 looks to be a very active season.  There’s a lot happening in the desktop operating system world right now. So after downloading the 2.65GB ISO image of the 32bit version of Windows 8 Release Preview, with Apps last night, I set out to install the revised OS on my T101MT so that I could begin evaluating the delta (or change) between it and the Consumer Preview.

I plugged the Eee PC into one of the five wired Ethernet ports of the network switch I have in my home office and turned off the Wi-Fi radio. Over the years, I’ve learned that having more than one active network adapter running at the same time on a single PC (like having the Wi-Fi radio on and connected to your wireless router or access point while having a network cable plugged into your wired Ethernet port) can cause network performance issues on Windows PC’s.  After many conversations with Microsoft technicians and technical beta team leads, I’ve learned that a Windows PC can become confused when trying to determine which network adapter to send and receive IP traffic through if more than one networking adapter is active in the same PC at once.  So, I turned the Wi-Fi radio in the Eee PC off after plugging in the Ethernet cable. It seemed reasonable, logical, and it’s what my experience has taught me to do over the years.

Yeah…someone please remind me not to do that again…Big mistake.

After Windows 8 Release Preview installed and I unplugged the Ethernet cable from the netbooks LAN port, I couldn’t get the wireless radio to turn on to save my life.  I fiddled with every setting and registry nugget I could find. I pulled the driver out, deleted the files and let the PC find everything again to no avail.

After a couple hours, I threw in the towel and activated the recovery partition on the netbook. I blew the entire contents of the PC and will start over from scratch this weekend…this time, leaving the wireless network adapter on after plugging in the Ethernet cable.

Come back next time, and I’ll give you the run down on what actually happened, why it happened and what this means to the Windows computing public in general.

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Review – Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Introduction

This year is going to be action packed. Apple is on track to deliver Mountain Lion OS X 10.8 to Mac users in late Summer/early Fall of this year. Microsoft is on track to deliver Windows 8 by the end of the calendar year. With all of the excitement coming from both companies throughout the year, you’re likely to hear a great deal on what’s hot and what’s not.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview was released at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on 29-Feb-12.  This will likely be the last public release of Windows 8 before the software is released to manufacturing later this year.  Users of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview should be able to use the software until January of next year.

It’s clear that Microsoft is attempting to unify the computing experiences in the latest version of its operating system. With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft is clearly making a bid for the enterprise tablet market. The big question is – Have they made the impact that they were hoping for; and will Windows 8 draw people away from iOS and Android?  Let’s take a long look at Windows 8 Consumer Preview and see how they did.

Microsoft has made the download of Windows 8 available in both executable and ISO 32bits and 64bits forms.  The total download, regardless of installation method requires 2.5GB of space. I initially had trouble getting the OS, but was able to successfully download the software by late Thursday evening, 01-Mar-12.  I used Microsoft’s new 5MB executable method.  After running the install stub, the complete installation downloaded and was placed in a folder called WindowsESD.

I’ve been playing with the OS for a while now; and while it can and does run on most any Windows capable machine, even under-powered PC’s like netbooks, it’s really not meant for traditional computers.  The interface is based on touch, and while you can use Windows 8 with a mouse and a keyboard, the OS really wants to be manipulated with your finger.  Using a Windows 8 powered PC with a mouse isn’t as natural an activity as you might think…

Continue reading…

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HP & WebOS – What does its Loss mean, really?

In a mobile world currently dominated by iOS and Android, does the loss and then open sourcing of WebOS really matter?

I’ve been in mobile devices most of my career. I cut my teeth on them. I’ve watched some devices and operating systems grow up, grow old and die. PalmOS, WindowsCE and Windows Mobile are a few. WinMo was killed for Windows Phone, and its totally different.

WebOS with its cards motif was a big step forward and a huge step away from Palm’s traditional PalmOS. The hardware was ok, the OS was pretty good; but Palm lost their momentum and wasn’t able to turn it around.

Palm mothballed the OS and sold it to HP. HP promised to do something with it, but they couldn’t get it together either. They initially decided to let the OS die, but later decided to revive it and open source it. Its been a number of weeks since that announcement. I can’t help but wonder what the impact of that development means at this time.

In a word or two…not much.

HP’s official development and work with WebOS has ended. They’ve given the software to the development community to tweak and use as they like. Right now, there aren’t any CURRENT devices using the open sourced (or any) version of WebOS. Unless a major hardware manufacturer or OEM decides to go that way, you likely won’t see it, either.

So again, what does that mean? Will it make a difference in an iOS and Android dominated market?

I don’t think so. The iPhone is the iPhone and will continue to grow in popularity all over the world. Android will continue in current and new devices, and be as diverse as the day is long. Windows Phone will continue to chip away at both; and RIM will likely disappear,  regardless of what WebOS does or doesn’t do.

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Push your PC to its limits with AIDA64 and find out how stable it is

When it comes to personal computers, facing some problems is inevitable. Sometimes the problems are quite simple and they are mostly caused by your Operating System, other software or nasty things such as viruses, malware or spyware. But what if you suspect there is a problem with one of those different components that are connected to your motherboard? This is the case when you need to test your hardware with one of those tools out there which makes your computer run at its fastest possible speed for an extended period of time and then checks for any errors that occur. My favorite software with this purpose is AIDA64 Extreme Edition.

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for home users and provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, disk drives and now with the release of version 2, it offers a fully automatized online update, AVX-optimized 64-bit benchmarks for the upcoming Intel Core i7 “Sandy Bridge-E” processors, and further extends its exhaustive hardware database with Western Digital hard disk drives to cover 133,000 devices total.

AIDA64 is compatible with all current 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and you can get it from here.

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