Windows 8 is the New Windows Vista

Microsoft on Windows 8 – You don’t see anything…

Windows8 is the new Windows Vista

I think it’s safe for nearly anyone and everyone to say and agree that Windows 8.x is a total train wreck. That’s sad, because it isn’t the OS itself that’s horrible, it’s just Metro, or what Microsoft officially calls “ModernUI” (though I fail to see much that’s “modern” about it. It’s very similar to Windows 1.0 in look and feel…). Microsoft is officially looking forward to putting Windows 8 far, behind it, much as they did with Windows Vista.

When Windows 7 was released, Microsoft went on a huge media blitz. They contracted with a company called, House Party – a company that does classic “Tupperware” styled parties for just about everything – to help them get people across the country to host Windows 7 Launch Parties. If you were chosen to host one, you got a party kit, which included a free Windows 7 license so you could demo the new OS and talk up its new features. I actually got a local newspaper – The Aurora Beacon – to help with the coverage and started a 12 week freelancing stint with them where I started off with a cool series on Setting up Windows 7 for the first time. In the end, they really did great job on moving the limelight away from Windows Vista – the old and busted – to Windows 7 – the new hotness.

Microsoft would very much like to repeat that kind of activity with similar results. In fact, I’d wager that their tactics will be nearly identical. They’ll do anything and everything they can to make the public forget Windows 8.x, and especially MetroUI.

For example, in the months leading up to Windows 7’s release, Microsoft did everything it could to make users forget about Windows Vista. All formal communications released from Microsoft either downplayed the former OS release and/ or played up the new OS release. Microsoft did everything it could to help users forget that Windows Vista ever existed.

For Windows 8, it’s going to be a little more difficult, but in the end the results will be the same. Microsoft has one more major update to Windows 8.1 scheduled for release on 2014-08-12. Windows 8.1 Update 2 (or whatever they end up calling) was supposed to be the update that had the new, revamped Start Menu in it. However, that update was pulled from the release many months ago and will instead come as part of Threshold, largely believed to be called, Windows 9. New – read reinstated – Start Menu with a revamped – read MetroUI removed – user interface, plus some other, yet to be announced, features = new version of Windows that Microsoft hopes everyone will embrace. In an effort to help that, Microsoft will likely have little to no press or released information about the 2014-08-12 Patch Tuesday and the release of Windows 8.1 Update 2 (if, in fact, that is what it called).

Another tactic, as noted by ComputerWorld would be to change the naming convention of the next version of Windows. As I stated above, the next version of Windows is rumored to be called Windows 9. When Microsoft released Windows 7, instead of giving it a name – like XP or Vista – Microsoft instead switched to a numeral based designation. They did this because XP was the OS that just wouldn’t die no matter how hard they tried and Vista was the marketing and sales thud heard round the world. Since Windows 8 is just as much of a dud as Windows Vista is, Microsoft may decide to remake the brand entirely and leave the numeric designations behind.

Perhaps they’ll move back to a product name. The next version of Windows is codenamed, “Threshold.” So, for example, calling it Windows Threshold, or something else may help Microsoft move away from the failure of Windows 8. Perhaps they’ll return to a year designation like they did with Windows 98 and Windows 2000 and call this version of Windows, “Windows 2015,” as the OS is supposed to become available for download and distribution in the early Spring of 2015.

Whatever its name, Microsoft is going to have to put some heavy marketing capitol behind it in order to reduce and remove the market share that Windows 8 has. Windows 7 had three to four years of exclusivity before Microsoft started talking up Windows 8.x. Microsoft is hoping to bury Windows 8 after only 2-3 years of exclusivity. Yes… it’s really that bad for Windows 8.x.

(BTW, it’s not the OS itself that’s bad, just MetroUI, which unfortunately, is nearly everywhere within the OS. While you can’t get away from it, with tools like Stardock’s Start8, and other very cheap utilities, you can nearly turn Windows 8 into a Windows 7 look alike. The OS in and of itself, is fast, optimized, and it will run on cheaper, more affordable hardware. That means your older notebooks and netbooks can use it too, extending their value and life.)

Some pundits – as well as many people in the tech circles that I frequent – that are talking about this issue are saying that Microsoft needs to do something spectacular to help remove Windows 8 from the annals of history. Some feel that giving away Threshold may be the best way to do that. Those that ARE saying that are calling that the, “smart thing to do.”

Nearly every version of every distribution of Linux is free to end users. Apple is making OS X Yosemite free to all Mavericks users. For Microsoft to continue to charge end users for upgrades and new versions is becoming problematic. Only Macs can run OS X, but nearly every Windows machine can run Linux, and their user interfaces are becoming more and more Windows-like and end-user friendly than they were before. With online versions of Microsoft Office and other online office suites that run on any and every OS that has a web browser, a compelling reason to pay for Windows on your PC is quickly disappearing, despite any reasoning behind Microsoft’s One Windows vision and streamlining.

What do you think of all of this? Is Windows 8 a boat anchor drowning Microsoft and holding them back? Should they do their best to erase it from history as they did with Windows Vista? Should they give Threshold away? Let me know in the Discussion area, below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the whole issue.

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Windows 8 Adoption is Slower than Adoption of Windows Vista Was

If this isn’t a “V8 Moment,” I have no idea what might be…

There’s been a bunch of articles hitting the tech rags lately indicating that the current rate of Windows 8 adoption is slower than the adoption rate of Windows Vista was at about the same point in its release cycle.

Well, duh.

If that isn’t a “V8 Moment” (think of the V8 vegetable juice commercials, where people smacked there head out of “stupidity…”) I have no idea what is.

The major reasons why Windows Vista failed were:

  • The interface – Microsoft moved our cheese
  • XP adoption was still strong
  • Enterprise adoption didn’t take off

Unfortunately for Microsoft and Windows 8, the conditions the market is seeing with Windows 8 is either the same or much worse than with Windows Vista. I’m going to break it down, very quickly.

Graph Source: Net Applications via ComputerWorld

The Interface
Unfortunately for Microsoft, I think there’s more negative press with ModernUI than with the Vista version of Aero. The biggest problem with Vista was that MS changed where people had to go to get to most of the same functions they were using in Windows XP. What they were doing when they finally FOUND what they were looking for didn’t really change, though there were some updates to process, method, etc.

Unfortunately for Vista, the changes were considered so drastic that its consumer adoption tanked. People didn’t want to have to relearn what they were doing and those that were buying new PC’s decided to use Windows XP instead. Which brings us to the next point…

Previous OS Adoption
At the time that Windows Vista was introduced, Windows XP was still in very wide use. It was stable. People were comfortable and familiar with it, and most importantly, were productive at home and at work.

Enterprise Adoption
This was a foregone conclusion – enterprise adoption of Windows Vista wasn’t going to happen quickly, even under the best of conditions. IT Admins and managers don’t introduce unknowns onto their networks. They just don’t. They want tried, tested and reliable equipment, software and tools they know won’t fail or cause problems. At the time, Vista wasn’t it, and wouldn’t be for at least a year or more.

The problem with Vista’s enterprise adoption was that people weren’t willing to wait to learn where Microsoft had moved everything. Vista failed to gain any traction because it was considered too different in a sea of Windows versions that had evolved and moved users towards greater productivity.

Now let’s take a look at Windows 8. The interface is a more drastic change from Windows 7 to Windows 8 than Windows Vista was from XP, Windows 8’s touch interface also doesn’t work well with non-touch hardware.

Windows 7 is still very popular and very usable on laptops, desktops, slate styled tablets and ultrabooks. Windows 7 also hasn’t made it into the enterprise in many cases because of the upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7. You either need to jump to Vista (and pay a license fee to do so) or wipe the PC and install from scratch. Enterprise adoption slows to a crawl there due to the amount of heavy lifting and/or large cost to upgrade from XP (where many companies still reside) to Windows 7 or even Windows 8.

So what’s the bottom line here? Please don’t be surprised that Windows 8 adoption is slow. Please also don’t be surprised when Windows 8.x (including Windows Blue) is declared a flop. I am seeing a great deal of press on all of this and no one should be surprised.

Windows RT should be the tablet OS and Windows 8 should be a desktop/laptop OS. The Live Tile interface on the desktop doesn’t work, and Microsoft is being VERY stubborn about admitting it made yet another mistake.

My biggest fear is that I’m right about all of this. My biggest fear is that Microsoft takes too long to make changes to address the way its users work and it waits itself right out of business. I’m not saying it’s GOING to happen… I’m saying I’m afraid it might if someone at Microsoft doesn’t take control of how the ship is spiraling out of control…

If I were a shareholder, I’d be demanding changes be made…quickly. If I’m wrong, I’d love for someone to present convincing evidence to the contrary. I’m willing to listen…

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Steven Sinofsky has left the building

The post-PC tide makes collateral victims and Steven Sinofsky is one of them. Almost three weeks after the launch of Windows 8 and RT on October 26, the man responsible for these products and president of Windows and Windows Live division, is gone. Preceded by a short announcement by Microsoft, his departure becomes even weirder.

We should take in consideration that Sinofsky is the architect behind Windows 7, a product that was meant to revive the Microsoft platform, after the unsuccessful launch of Vista. Not to mention his direct involvement in the developing process of Windows 8. Against all these facts, “he left the building” instantly without any transition period. It looks like he was fired during a crucial launch. The only official explanation about Sinofsky’s departure comes from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer who explains that this move is necessary in order to: “continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycle for our offerings.”

Sinofsky’s departure comes short after the exit of iOS chief Scott Forstall from Apple, but unlike Sinofsky, Forstall departed during a transitional period.

As a result, Microsoft’s stock is down 3.2 percent, but this drop is modest considering that many imagined Sinofsky to be the CEO heir when Ballmer quits his job. An immediate side effect is that the management will change which will affect the cycle of development for the next Windows operating system.

Unfortunately there is only speculation about the reason of his departure, but the truth is out there, and it may surface in the end because Microsoft is a leaky environment.

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Microsoft Returns the Simple to Windows 8 Editions

Microsoft has announced how it will release  Windows 8 in three different editions, two of which should be right for most.

Microsoft has always taken an unusual stance when it comes to how to distinguish between the different versions of Windows. Barring special editions that were released as a result of litigation or court proceedings, such as Windows XP Starter Edition for developing markets or Windows XP Edition N, Microsoft made it easy for most of us with just two versions of Windows XP – Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional. It really doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Microsoft released Windows Vista with a bit more diversity.  Vista came in five different editions – Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate, Business and Enterprise.  Windows 7 was similar with Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. Microsoft is taking a “Windows XP Editions” approach with Windows 8.  There will be two – Windows 8 and Windows 8 Professional.  Windows 8 is the edition that most everyone will use. It replaces Windows 7 Home Premium and includes the ability to switch languages on the fly, which was previously only available in Windows 7 Enterprise or Ultimate.

BitLocker and Encrypting File System support are part of Windows 8 Professional. It also has client Hyper-V virtualization and can boot from a virtual hard drive (VHD).  Windows 8 Professional is the edition you’re most likely to see in the enterprise, as it also allows you to join a Windows domain, contains support for group policies and has Remote Desktop host.  Currently, these features are only available in Windows 7 Ultimate or Enterprise.

Both Windows 8 editions will be installed at the factory, and will be sold at retail locations. They will be the only editions available to the consumer.  Microsoft also plans on releasing Windows 8 Enterprise; but it will only be available to corporate customers with a Software Assurance agreement.

Windows on ARM, or WOA, has been rebranded as Windows RT. It does not come with the Microsoft Windows 8 brand, even though it has a similar feature set and the Windows 8 code-base. It will only be installed on ARM-based computing devices at the factory. It will not be available for purchase in any retail or corporate channel. Pricing for all Windows 8 editions is still unknown.

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10 years of Windows XP

It has now been a decade since Windows XP revolutionised the world of computers and on October 25 of this year the world’s most popular operating system turned ten years of age. Although the world has been flooded with wave after wave of new technology since the initial launch of Windows XP, the simple fact remains that Microsoft’s most successful and longest lasting operating system is not going anywhere, anytime soon. It is still the computer software of choice amongst millions of people and companies worldwide, and despite the hype and marketing surrounding Windows 7, Windows XP will still be used by many of us another ten years from now.
Let’s take a look at the beginnings of Windows XP, why it became so immensely popular, and why only a fool would bet against it still ruling the roost by the time it turns 20.

A Star is Born

Initially, sales were slow for Windows XP when it first hit the high-street and was introduced around the globe in 25 different languages. For example, in the United States only 260,00 copies were sold during the first three days. However, with little steps epic journeys begin and when system vendors began selling computers with Windows XP pre-installed it took off in a big, big way.

The Rise and Rise of Windows XP

The XP in Windows XP stands for experience, and Microsoft’s ambition was to have one codebase covering everything from consumers to corporate desktops. By 2006, Windows XP was being used by 400 million computers worldwide. With its user friendly interface and options to personally adapt and customise, Windows XP was hailed as one of the most reliable operating systems ever released. Reviewers lined up to write line after gushing line about its gorgeous design and innovative features and called it a marvel of conception. In short, nothing it seemed could come close to Windows XP.

The Champ’s Title Defence

Windows XP’s successor, Windows Vista was launched at the beginning of 2006, but it was widely rejected by the growing legion of XP adherents. Vista never caught the imagination of the public of businesses due to bugs and poor hardware driver support. Consequently Windows XP still reigned supreme, and despite announcing it was discontinuing the sale of Windows XP several times, Microsoft only stopped the line on June 30, 2008. Extended support for XP users is still available until April 8, 2014.

If it isn’t broke don’t fix it

Windows 7 was released in 2009 and according to recent statistics, Windows XP is just starting to lose its grip among PC users. Yet estimates show that XP still has a hold of 48% on the Windows market, which is far more than Vista ever did, after peaking with 28% in October, 2009. Businesses especially are reluctant to part with a tried and tested model they have used for the last ten years in favour of a major upgrade they feel they do not need – despite Microsoft’s urgings to the contrary. With Windows 8 on the horizon, many feel XP will shortly expire, but ten years from now you can bet your bottom dollar there’ll still be a large number of PCs worldwide operating through Windows XP, because if it isn’t broke there’s no need to fix it.

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Fix your laptop power consumption issue and extend battery life with Microsoft Fix it

One of the most annoying issue for laptop users is often the excessive power consumption of battery power which reduces battery life. This problem can be caused by improper system settings that can affect power usage (such as timeout and sleep settings, display settings, and screensavers). Well, if this this is the case, you can try to fix this problem using an automatic troubleshooter found on Microsoft Fix it Solution Center.

This tool can be used to troubleshoot power consumption problems such as:

  • Period of time before the computer goes to sleep is set too long
  • Screen saver is used instead of setting the computer to enter sleep mode
  • Display brightness is set too high
  • Power plan is not set to the most efficient power plan
  • Wireless adaptor in not optimized for power saving
  • Minimum processor state is set too high

Download the troubleshooter for power consumption problems – works on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

To find an automated solutions for any other computer issues, take a look at Microsoft Fix it Solution Center.

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Boost your computer performance with ReadyBoost

Every computer has physical temporary storage memory called RAM which provides space for your computer to read and write data to be accessed by the CPU. More RAM  usually allows your computer to work considerably faster so generally speaking, the more RAM you have, the better.

However, running multiple applications, games and so on can cause your computer to run out of RAM. That’s the moment when something called Paging File is used.

The Paging File practically allows the computer to use hard drive space as RAM. This means that if your computer has 1 GB of physical RAM and your computer needs to use 2 GB, it will firstly use the 1 GB of physical RAM and then anything else will be used from the hard drives Pagefile which is called virtual memory.

As a USB Flash drive is  faster than a hard disk (in general; excluding SSDs), Windows 7 has a feature called ReadyBoost which can improve your system performance by using a faster USB Flash Drives instead of your hard disks when the computer runs out of RAM.

When you insert a device with this capability, the AutoPlay dialog will offer you the option to speed up your system using Windows ReadyBoost. If you select this option, you can then choose how much memory to use for this purpose.

The recommended amount of memory to use for ReadyBoost acceleration is one to three times the amount of random access memory RAM installed in your computer. For example, if your computer has 1 GB of RAM and you plug in a 4 GB USB Flash drive, setting aside from 1 GB to 3 GB of that drive will offer the best performance boost.

Note: Only Windows 7 and Vista has the ReadyBoost feature.

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Ever wish you could turn back the clock after a bad crash? Use Windows System Restore

Sometimes, the installation of a program (or a driver) can cause an unexpected change to your computer or cause Windows to behave unpredictably (errors, system freeze, etc). Usually, uninstalling the program or driver corrects the problem. If this doesn’t help, you can try restoring your computer’s system to an earlier date when everything worked correctly. How can you do that? Using Windows System Restore.

To access Windows System Restore, start by clicking Windows Start button > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools, and then clicking System Restore.‌

Note: System Restore can undo system changes to your computer without affecting your personal files, such as e‑mail, documents, or photos. However, is not intended for backing up personal files, so it cannot help you recover a personal file that has been deleted or damaged.

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