Microsoft plan to funnel people towards their newer products

Microsoft Merges Windows Live Messenger with Skype and Announces that Support for Windows XP ends in 365 days

On Monday 8th April Microsoft announced that support for Windows XP will stop in exactly 365 days. This announcement came at the same time Microsoft merged Windows Live Messenger with Skype. These recent announcements are part of the new strategy Microsoft is intending to follow in order to channel customers to their latest products including Windows 8.

These updates from Microsoft are certain to affect many businesses and home users. Following we look at how Microsoft plan to funnel people towards their newer products and what you need to do to keep updated.

Windows-XP-Skype

RIP Microsoft XP

Windows XP was originally launched in October, 2001. From April 8, 2014 Microsoft will officially cut off corporate support for Windows XP SP3, as well as Microsoft Office 2003. Once support is cut, Windows XP will no longer receive any new security, hot fixes and most importantly support.

Microsoft announced that come April 2014 any customers using XP will be doing so at their “own risk,” and that failing to update would likely be costly later on down the line. It is estimated that 40 percent of all PCs still run XP, so these changes are set to affect a large amount of customers.

Cutting off support is likely to have a much bigger impact on businesses, than it is on home users. Whereas home users can simply upgrade with little hassle, upgrading for businesses is much more complicated. Microsoft warned businesses that is can regularly take 18 to 32 months to go through the entire deployment phase for new operating systems.

The announcements have put major strains on many businesses still using XP. Many are simply refusing to upgrade to Windows 7, as there is no simple upgrade path. These changes are likely to cause major upset for many a business.

If it wasn’t obvious, Microsoft is using this opportunity to persuade customers to upgrade to Windows 8 stating that it offers cutting edge technology with a stronger interface.

For smaller companies, with one or several computers, updating their operating system will be a breeze. The problems occur for larger companies and if they’ve failed to select a new operating system by now, it may already be too late to beat the XP deadline.

Windows Live Messenger Merges With Skype

In October 2011 Microsoft acquired Skype. Ever since then, they have been working to replace WLM. And on the 8th April 2013, Windows Live Messenger, known to most as MSN Messenger, was finally retired – ending 14 years of loyal service.

The last few years has seen a rapid decline in the amount of people using Windows Live Messenger, mainly due to the success of Facebook’s instant messaging service. Microsoft will now focus on increasing the success of Skype.

If you still have an account with Windows Live Messenger, you can still use those same details to log in to Skype. Once logged in you’ll find a list of all your old contacts, which can then be merged into Skype.

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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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Windows 8 – Only What Matters

Windows 8 is likely less than a year away, and it can best be summed up as Windows in the post-PC era. That’s not to say that desktop computers and laptops won’t be a major part of the system, but this will be the first version of Windows designed with both computers and portable devices such as smartphones and tablets in mind.

Starting with the basics, Microsoft has confirmed that the sequel to Windows 7 will indeed be called Windows 8. This isn’t so much a lack of imagination as a belief that Windows 7 was much better received than its predecessor Vista: Microsoft wants to convey the message that the sequel will continue that success. As for a release date, there’s been no official word, but the timing of releases (both official and leaked) of in-development editions is, consistent with an Autumn 2012 release.

Over the years Microsoft has generally followed a pattern on alternating between a new version of Windows that starts from scratch (such as Vista) and one that is based upon its predecessor but has key usability and feature improvements (such as Windows 7.) Windows 8 looks set to fall into the former category and it’s the user interface that is the biggest change.

Previous attempts to produce low-specification netbooks and tablet devices with Windows have proven unsuccessful simply because it was primarily designed for desktops and laptops. Windows 8 changes that with the Metro user interface which is designed to work equally well on traditional monitor/keyboard/mouse setups and touchscreens.

There’s also a major overhaul to the basic look of Windows. The default setup replaces the familiar desktop with small icons and then the taskbar at the bottom. In its place is a new customizable start screen with larger tiles that take the user directly to commonly used applications; some tiles can be set to display information updated in real time such as weather or sports scores. Users can switch to the traditional set-up if they prefer.

The Metro system also means a big tweak to Internet Explorer. The default version of the browser will run in HTML 5 and won’t support any plug-ins such as Flash, which is already blocked on Apple’s portable devices. There’ll be a separate version of the browser accessible through the traditional menu system that does support plug-ins.

While full details aren’t available yet, it does appear Windows 8 will reflect the growing interest in cloud computing by which not only is some data stored online, but some processing work by remote computers rather than by the device itself. One confirmed change from this is that users will be able to use a Windows Live ID to log-in, such that they can go on any machine and access settings and files.

The biggest change “under the bonnet” comes with support for ARM processors for the first time. To date Windows has only supported Intel x86 processor system, which is used in the vast majority of PCs. ARM is far more common in smartphones and tablets and works in a way that uses far less power, thus extending battery life. If all works as planned, this should mean Windows is much more effective in portable devices than before.

Download Windows 8 Developer Preview (32/64-bit)

Note: Windows 8 Developer Preview is a pre-beta version of Windows 8 for developers and it may not be stable, operate correctly or work the way the final version of the software will. It should not be used in a production environment. The features and functionality in the prerelease software may not appear in the final version.

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Windows 8 Developer Preview now available to download

As you may heard, Microsoft has released its official Windows 8 Developer Preview Build for PCs and tablets. Now let’s see what’s this version all about. First of all, let me tell you that this is a pre-beta version of Windows 8 – currently in beta status – and is not even close for daily usage. In fact, it is meant to be used by developers who are looking to make apps for the desktop and tablet OS. However, considering that no developer registration or anything like that is needed, anyone can download and install the new OS.

Apart from the major new changes such as a the cool “Picture Login Feature” (which allows users to login into their computers simply using a picture of their choice), Windows 8 has a lot new smaller features and functionality. Take a look at the highlights…

Windows 8 system requirements (same as Win 7):

  • 1GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1GB RAM (32-bit) / 2GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16GB available disk space (32-bit) / 20GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) 1.0 or higher driver

Best elements out of the Windows 8 keynote (for me):

  • Under 10 seconds boot time
  • Virus, Malware and Rootkit boot level protection and Full expanded Windows Defender with Antivirus and Anti-malware
  • Low memory footprint (around 280 MB on startup versus 400MB for Windows 7 )
  • Touchscreen password unlock
  • New low-power stand-by mode
  • New Restore, Refresh and Reset (clean up Windows 8 and keep what you need or return to out-of-box)
  • App Store
  • Sync Settings across multiple devices (via cloud)
  • Better Task Manager
  • Email notifications on Lock Screen

There are more, I’m sure, but this is what I really like the most. Below you’ll find the  official details of the MS press release…

Touch-First User Interface

  • Metro style. Windows 8 introduces a new Metro style interface built for touch, which shows information important to you, embodies simplicity and gives you control. The Metro style UI is equally at home with a mouse and keyboard as well.
  • Touch-first browsing, not just browsing on a touch device. Providing a fast and fluid touch-browsing experience, Internet Explorer 10 puts sites at the center on new Windows 8 devices.

More Ways to Engage With Powerful, Connected Apps

  • Powered by apps. Metro style apps built for Windows 8 are the focal point of your experience, filling your entire screen so there are no distractions.
  • Apps can work together. Apps communicate with each other in Windows 8. For example, you can easily select and email photos from different places, such as Facebook, Flickr or on your hard drive.
  • Your experience syncs across your devices. Live roams all the content from the cloud services you use most — photos, email, calendar and contacts — keeping them up-to-date on your devices. With SkyDrive, you can access your files, photos and documents from virtually anywhere with any browser or with Metro style apps in Windows 8.

Enhanced Fundamentals

  • The best of Windows 7, only better. Windows 8 is built on the rock-solid foundation of Windows 7, delivering improvements in performance, security, privacy and system reliability. Windows 8 reduces the memory footprint needed — even on the lowest-end hardware — leaving more room for your apps.
  • Preserving power-user favorites and making them better. For those who push the limits of their PC, Windows 8 features an enhanced Task Manager and Windows Explorer and new, flexible options for multimonitor setups.

New Developer Opportunities

  • Windows Store. The Windows Store will allow developers to sell their apps anywhere Windows is sold worldwide, whether they’re creating new games or familiar productivity tools.
  • Build using more languages. Windows 8 lets you leverage your existing skills and code assets to create great experiences using the programming language you prefer.
  • Rich hardware integration leads to richer experiences — particularly for games. DirectX 11 gaming power underlies Windows 8, allowing the easy creation of full-screen games with smooth, flicker-free action.

New Generation of Hardware

  • One Windows — many shapes and sizes. Support for ARM-based chipsets, x86 (as well as x32 and x64) devices, touch and sensors means Windows 8 works beautifully across a spectrum of devices, from 10-inch tablets and laptops to all-in-ones with 27-inch high-definition screens.
  • Always connected. With Windows 8, new ultrathin PCs and tablets turn on instantly, run all day on a single charge and stay connected to the Internet so your PC is ready when you are. Next-generation system on a chip (SoC) support will also enable greatly extended standby and low-power states.
  • Tap the full power of your PC. Windows 8 runs on PCs and is compatible with the devices and programs you use today on Windows 7, without compromise, to deliver the performance you expect of a PC.

Download Windows 8 Developer Preview (32/64-bit)

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