On the Threshold of What..?

There are Windows Changes coming and some of them, my friends, are truly encouraging.

Change ahead isolated signWhen I write a column, I usually try to come up with some cool play on words or other “hook” to sorta grab a reader’s attention. With this particular column its really hard because the news I found is really very exciting; and there really isn’t a decent, cute way to put this without reducing the excitement.  So, I’m just gonna come out and say it:

It looks like the Start Menu – the real Windows 7 styled Start Menu – is intended to make a come back in Windows Threshold.  At least that’s what I see when I read the latest article by Paul Thurrott.

Paul and I go back a ways. We both worked for WUGNET for a while. Paul started WinInfo there, and I wrote most of their computing tips over a 15 year period.  So, honestly, when Paul says something, I tend to listen and listen VERY carefully. If there’s one thing I know, its that Paul knows Windows. So when I hear Paul say that the Start Menu is coming back, I tend to listen.

According to Paul and his cohort in Windows Weekly crime, Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft Threshold is all about bringing Windows to the threshold of unification between Phone, desktop and Xbox One.  This unification will include a series of updates that will go a LONG way to satisfying many of Microsoft’s very, very unhappy enterprise and consumer users.

In the next version of Windows, be it Threshold, Windows 8.2 or whatever they decide to call it, ModernUI apps will run in a window, if your PC supports Windows’ Desktop Mode. This is going work a lot like Stardock’s ModernMix, though its likely be somewhat different…at least one would hope.

The Start Menu is also going to return. The Start Button clearly wasn’t enough for everyone, and the “next logical step”  is to bring the Start Menu back as an available option.  According to Paul, its possible that this option will only going to appear in product versions that support Desktop mode.  There’s more that will likely be in this update, but at this time, this is all that’s confirmable.

Paul calls this a good step. I have to agree with him. Part of me is wondering if I’m not the only one wondering if this isn’t in response to Surface RT/Surface 2’s poor sales numbers and if Microsoft is clearly starting to get it – after more than 30 years, Windows is a productivity tool more than an entertainment tool.

If this is the case, I’d call that a good thing too.  I like Surface Pro and Surface 2 Pro.  They’re both good ultrabooks. However, with full blown Windows on them, its hard for me to use something like that as an entertainment device. Its not impossible, but YOU have to change gears with it. I don’t know about you, but I am not always very successful with that. I often find that I gravitate towards other devices other than my work PC for entertainment. Its easier for me to mentally keep them separate than to use one device for both purposes.

Over the years, I’ve found that my IT departments feel the same way. When you use a work PC for personal use, at least at my current job, you can be terminated.  The two do NOT mix at all, and BYOD is not something they encourage or support.  While other IT shops may not have the same policy, filling up a hard drive with MP3’s or videos is often discouraged.  Unless you work for a company that fully supports BYOD or are self employed and have to supply your own PC equipment, I’m not certain that kind of concern applies to you.  My guess is that most people don’t bump into the problem. Its likely not an issue for most.

What do you think about the Windows developments? Why not join us in the discussion below and tell us what you think.

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Customize the look and feel of your Windows 8 device with Decor8

Decor8-Review-2One of the things that most new Windows 8 users won’t like is the lack of interface customization options it has. The OS is almost completely new, and most users don’t know which end is up as far as putting a personal spin on it is concerned. This is why Decor8 is so important. It’s a Windows 8 customization tool.

Microsoft Windows 8 currently limits your start screen customization options to only a few provided background images and a few pre-defined color schemes. While this isn’t earth shatteringly disappointing, Windows 8 doesn’t really provide a lot of customization options, either.  This is where Decor8 comes in. It removes these limitations and provides the freedom to personalize your start screen with your own images and colors.

D8-02

With Decor8, you can choose from more background images to personalize your start screen.  You can add your own photos and images, select multiple images to create a custom slideshow, randomize background images in timed intervals, and apply effects to scroll, fade, blur, recolor and add contrast to your background images.  You can also choose an image for your lock screen background.

Decor8 will automatically create a color scheme to match each of your background images. You can also customize the color scheme, if you prefer. Custom color schemes can also be applied to your charms bar. You can also control how many rows of tiles are available on your start screen.

Decor8 is a decent app; and it’s one of the very few customization apps out there right now for Windows 8. The app follows the same look and feel as Start8, also from Stardock.  The one thing that I would do at the time of this writing is to hold off on any purchase of Decor8 until after the release of Windows Blue. The update is supposed to add to Windows 8’s customization options, and that will likely cause a rev in Decor8 as well.

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