Posts tagged Windows 8
The Windows Blue operating system update is likely to be named “Windows 8.1″ when it arrives this summer, according to sources. Microsoft officials supposedly have decided on the final name for Windows Blue. The final decision, one of my sources told me, is that it will be Windows 8.1. The client version of Blue, codenamed Windows Blue, is a refresh of Windows 8. It is expected to be released to manufacturing around August of this year. As I’ve blogged a few times, Microsoft is planning to position Blue as part of the Windows 8 wave, not as Windows 9.
On Twitter this morning Roman L. (a k a @AngelWZR) posted a screen shot of what appears to be a build of Windows Blue that postdates the one that leaked a week ago. The week-ago Blue build was 9364; the new one is 9375. It is labeled in AngelWZR’s screen shot as “Windows 8.1 Pro.” ”Well maybe that’s not an April Fools’ joke,” AngelWZR tweeted. My Blue source said that the top-level branding will be “Windows 8″ when Microsoft releases the 8.1 update — similar to the way that Microsoft’s Windows Phone officials talked about the “Mango” (Windows Phone 7.5) release as part of the Windows Phone 7 family.
My tipster also says that Microsoft plans to refer to the Blue update for Windows RT as “Windows RT 8.1.” There’s no word as to what, if anything, Microsoft plans to charge existing Windows 8 and Windows RT customers for Blue. Microsoft executives like Windows Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller have said repeatedly that Microsoft envisions Windows 8 as something more than a one-season wonder. Reller has said the companyconsiders Windows 8 a product “of multiple selling seasons.” So it makes sense that Blue would be christened Windows 8.X, not Windows 9.
If it pans out that Microsoft has, indeed, opted for Blue to be named 8.1 — rather than 8.5 or 8.7 — I wouldn’t be surprised to see the expected next couple of annual Windows client refreshes to also have an 8.X name when they roll out over the next few years. Microsoft officials are not commenting about Blue, beyond acknowledging that the code namerefers to the next wave of products from the company. This story originally appeared at ZDNet under the headline “Microsoft’s Windows Blue looks to be named Windows 8.1.”
Dell is revealing a decidedly pessimistic view of its future in an SEC filing stating its reasons for going private. Dell painted a somewhat bleak depiction of its prospects in a recent SEC filing. In a 274-page filing on Friday, the PC maker indicated market and product challenges on several fronts. In the filing, Dell makes a case for accepting a $24.4 billion offer to go private so it can be in a better position to deal with the myriad challenges facing the company.
Those included “the deteriorating outlook for the PC market as a result of, among other things, smartphones and tablets cannibalizing PC sales,” according to the filing. The SEC filing also cited “the uncertain adoption of the Windows 8 operating system” at several meetings, including one in December 2012. Brian Gladden, the chief financial officer, noted “adverse developments, coupled with generally weakening demand in the global PC market and lower PC margin rates” at a meeting in September 2012.
The filing also cites a presentation made by Michael Dell in December of 2012 to the Board “in which he expressed his conviction that a going private transaction was the best course for the Company and its unaffiliated stockholders.” Among the reasons were:
Investing in the PC and tablet business. Mr. Dell stated his belief that such initiatives, if undertaken as a public company, would be poorly received by the stock market because they would reduce near-term profitability, raise operating expenses and capital expenditures, and involve significant risk. Mr. Dell stated his view that a going private transaction was in the best interests of the Company’s unaffiliated stockholders because…they would receive a portion of the potential upside from these initiatives in the form of a premium for their shares without bearing the risk and uncertainties related to executing such initiatives.
Microsoft made a case this week for Windows RT. Is it necessary? Microsoft made a case this week for Windows RT, its stripped down version of Windows 8. But do we need a third version of Windows? It’s been about five months now since Windows RT debuted. And this week Microsoft made a case to CNET for the new operating system.
Michael Angiulo, corporate vice president, Windows Planning, Hardware & PC Ecosystem, told CNET: “It was a ton of work for us and we didn’t do the work and endure the disruption for any reason other than the fact that there’s a strategy there that just gets stronger over time.” And he went on to spell out reasons why RT is necessary.
Some of those reasons included:
- Allowing the development of a product that’s competitive with the iPad.
- Providing a way for a PC-class Windows OS to tap into the dynamic ARM chip ecosystem that powers the world’stablets and smartphones.
- Having a Windows PC that uses only “modern apps,” i.e., apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store, and is not encumbered by legacy software.
- A “propensity” for a much higher percentage of devices that ship with mobile broadband, i.e., 3G/4G.
As a counterpoint, Tom Mainelli, research director of tablets at market researcher IDC, toldCNET earlier this month that “Microsoft decided to have a smartphone OS, then have Windows RT and Windows 8. I think the distinctions get lost on folks. I think they might be better served by putting more muscle behind Windows 8. Try to make that successful rather than trying to do three OSes.”
And observers have pointed to the lack of RT apps and the fact that Intel’s Atom chip offers pretty much the same benefits of ARM chips — including long battery life and the ability to build ultrathin “fanless” tablets — but with full Windows 8 compatibility. What do you think?
The new Twitter app for Windows 8 has some familiar features as well as a few new ones that are specific to Windows 8. We’ll show you how to get started with the new app. Twitter released its first-ever Windows client yesterday for Windows 8. The client supports the usual array of Twitter features, but also includes a few that are unique to Windows 8. Here’s how to get started with Twitter for Windows 8:
Download and install the Windows 8 Twitter app from the Windows Store. The first time you launch the app, you’ll need to log in with your Twitter username and password to authorize the app. The second time you launch the app, you may be prompted to allow Twitter to run the in background. If you want show quick status notifications on the lock screen, you should allow it to run in the background. You can always go back to PC settings and change it later if you change your mind.
Using Twitter for Windows 8
After authorization, you’ll see the familiar timeline as well as the navigation tabs on the left side of the app: Home, Connect, Discover, and Me. In the upper right-hand corner, you’ll also notice the Compose and Search icons. If you’re already familiar with Twitter, using the app to compose, reply, retweet, and favorite should be pretty self-explanatory.
Photo grid: A unique feature of the Twitter app in Windows 8 is the photo grid in profiles. When viewing a Twitter user’s profile, you can swipe photos or scroll horizontally and see them all in a grid. When you select a photo, it will display in full-screen.
Search and Share charms: Another distinct feature of the Windows 8 Twitter app is the Search and Share charms. From any app in Windows 8, you can search Twitter for hash tags or accounts using the Search charm. And with the Share charm, you can quickly share content from any app to Twitter. To access the Charms, just swipe in from the right edge of the screen or move the mouse to the lower right-hand corner. You can also use the keyboard shortcut,Win+Q for Search and Win+H for Share.
Snap view: One of the cooler features of Twitter for Windows 8 is the ability to snap the app to the side of the screen. This lets you view your timeline while using another app. To snap two apps side by side, bring in the second app from the left edge with your finger or the upper left-hand corner with your mouse. You can also use the keyboard shortcut, Win+. to toggle snapping the current app to the left, right, or back to full-screen.
Settings: If you want to change notifications, log out of the Twitter app, clear search history, or modify display settings, swipe in from the right edge then go to Settings > Options, or use the keyboard shortcut, Win+I and select Options. From Settings, you can also choose Permissions to change privacy settings, toggle notifications, and to allow or disallow the app to run in the background.
That’s it. The Twitter app for Windows 8 is great for Windows 8 tablet and hybrid users, but desktop users might be able to benefit from it as well. When used with StarDock’s ModernMix, it’ll run in its own window, making it function like a desktop client.
Microsoft needs to fix Windows 8 to make it easier for the average consumer to use, says IDC. After four months of tepid Windows 8 PC sales, maybe it’s time for Microsoft to make a few changes. During a conversation I had this week with IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell, he volunteered the following statement, which sounded strangely like my experience.
There were certain decisions that Microsoft made that were in retrospect flawed. Notably not allowing people to boot into desktop mode and taking away the start button. Those two things have come up consistently. We’ve done some research and people miss that.
And there are a lot of people that as soon as they boot into Windows 8, they go to desktop mode and do most their work there and occasionally back to Metro. But the point being they’re much more comfortable with desktop mode.
Bingo. I understand that this issue has been around since Windows 8 beta. And, yes, there are ways to boot to desktop mode and apps for getting the Windows Start button back. I’m not writing this to whine about how hard Windows 8 is to use. It’s not — for me. But Windows 8 PC sales are “horribly stalled,” as O’Donnell put it. So maybe Microsoft should rethink the design, as IDC — whose business it is to get input from PC makers — thinks the company may be doing.
“It’s possible [Microsoft] is making changes to the OS [to allow a boot to desktop mode]. There’s a lot of debate about it. Certainly if you talk to PC vendors, they’d like to see Microsoft do that. Because they recognize some of the challenges that consumers are facing.” And that’s the point. I’m guessing a lot of consumers don’t get (understand) Metro. And I’m guessing that a lot of consumers aren’t that savvy about using a PC and don’t know about workarounds to boot to desktop mode or get the Start button back. Even though that may vastly improve their experience.
There’s a place for Metro of course. It’s not a bad place to start when using Microsoft’s Surfacetablet. And if there were more Metro apps, there would be more reasons to spend time there. But if you’re doing productivity stuff (hey, isn’t that what Windows is for?) it’s not a big factor in day-to-day use. Microsoft may “stick to its guns” and leave everything pretty much as is, O’Donnell added. Pride goes before the fall. Surface Pro: Even on the Pro, a lot of time can be spent in desktop mode.
Addendum: Note that Redmond is considering Windows 8 price cuts for PC makers to boost PC sales. More on that next week.
Tami Reller, one of the pair of Microsoft execs running Windows, provides a few new insights into what’s happening — and coming — with Windows 8 and Windows RT. Microsoft’s new Windows management team is coming into its own. Last week, I met with Tami Reller, the chief financial officer and chief marketing officer for the Windows/Surface teams. Reller was on a New York City tour, meeting with financial analysts and press. Reller is one of the pair of executives running Windows, following the departure from Microsoft of Windows President Steven Sinofsky late last year.
My sit-down with Reller — my first meeting with Windows management in a number of years — was more interesting for the between-the-lines tidbits and nuances than it was for the parade of PCs and tablets that she and Aidan Marcuss, principal director, Windows Research, pulled out of their bags to show off. Here are a few of the topics upon which we touched during our conversation:
How well is/isn’t Windows 8 selling? Reller didn’t veer from Microsoft’s message that Windows 8 is on pace with Windows 7 in terms of number of licenses sold during its first few months. (Microsoft sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses to original equipment manufacturers and to consumers as upgrades by early January 2013, executives have said. ) But she did share one new metric during our meeting: OEM revenue Microsoft is deriving from sales of Windows 8 is even with OEM revenue garnered from Windows 7 licenses sold during the same period of time. We don’t know if Microsoft charged OEMs the same per copy for Windows 7 and Windows 8, but the implication is OEMs are buying Windows 8 licenses at the same pace as they bought Windows 7 ones.
A Windows 8/Windows RT “mini?” To date, word was that Microsoft didn’t see a need for tablets and PCs with screens smaller than the 10.6-inch Surfaces. Microsoft’s stance was tablets equals PCs and thus must be able to do all consumption and creation tasks that “real” PCs can do. When I asked Reller last week about the possibility of 7-inch “mini” Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs, I received a less rigid answer — more along the lines of “let’s see what customers want.” Windows 8 was designed to run on smaller and bigger screens and at different resolutions. Theunderlying app-platform/app model is what enables this, Marcuss emphasized. So, again, no announcement today, but it seems as though one or more Windows 8/Windows RT “mini” tablets are likely waiting in the wings…making rumors of products like a 7-inch HTC tablet and the rumored Xbox Surface more believable.
First-party Windows 8 and Windows RT apps: Yes, Microsoft knows thatMail/Calendar/People and Xbox Music on Windows 8 and Windows RT need real work, and not just a few minor updates. Reller didn’t share any kind of time table as to when these apps will be updated in a significant way. But it was encouraging to hear that Microsoft is committed to making these “first-party”/built-in apps best-of-breed. Happily, the team isn’t pretending these apps are good enough.
Where are all the Windows 8/Windows RT PCs and tablets? Why more than three months after Windows 8 “launched” (and about six months after it was released to manufacturing) are there still relatively few new Windows 8/Windows RT touch tablets and PCs available to consumers? OEMs have known for years what Microsoft was planning for Windows 8. So what happened? Reller isn’t attributing the relatively slow ramp-up to any kind of components shortage. She said the Windows team is trying to figure this out themselves. She said the team is looking at every communication between the OEMs and Microsoft during the Windows 8 development period. Was there a program, a campaign, a missive that would have convinced OEMs to put more muscle behind touch sooner rather than later? Reller said the team is looking into this.
Also, for the record, Reller isn’t blaming the relatively slow ramp-up to any kind of components shortage. She is emphasizing the positive: The number of Windows 8 certified devices (1,000 at launch in late October) is now double that. Lots of new Windows 8 form factors from Lenovo, HP, ASUS, Acer, and others are coming to market in the February-through-spring time frame, she reiterated.
The Microsoft-Intel relationship: “It feels like we’re doing better aligning with Intel on messaging,” Reller told me last week. For a while, it’s felt as though Microsoft was highlighting its work on Windows RT and ARM to push Intel to speed up its chip-delivery timing. Now that the Intel Core i5-based Surface Pro is poised to start shipping on February 9, the Wintel partnership seems to be back, front and center, in Microsoft’s positioning and thinking.
The Windows distribution connundrum: While Microsoft is continuing to staff more Microsoft Stores, the pace is still too slow for those of us who consider Best Buy, Staples, and other retail chains not-so-optimal showcases for Microsoft’s and its partners’ hardware and software. But the Windows team seemingly isn’t writing off these other retailers. “We need to get Surface RT and Surface Pro in retail and do it really well,” Reller told me. She said Microsoft believes it can make the buying experience in retail chains a positive one for those shopping for Microsoft or OEM PCs and tablets.
I haven’t seen customers busting down doors to buy any kind of Windows 8 or Windows RT PCs or tablets in the admittedly small number of retail stores and Microsoft Stores I’ve visited. Reller said Microsoft has seen the dynamic for PC purchasing changing. The retail store experience is more of an exploratory, educational “try before you buy this online” one these days, she said. (That’s not so different from what’s happening in the book-selling world.) There you have it. No earth-shattering revelations (sorry, Windows Blue watchers). But it’s still good to have a chance to ask questions and get some answers from the Windows brass in person.
With its serious processor, and its guts-behind-the-glass design, Microsoft’s Surface Pro may well be the template for the new PC. And device makers should pay attention. PC makers take note. Microsoft is pioneering the next PC. Here are two simple reasons why the Surface Pro makes a good case as the template for the new PC. One, Microsoft realized that the device’s electronics should go behind the glass, not under the keyboard. Two, the device uses a real processor. Let’s address the electronics first. Most of the newfangled laptops I saw at CES were convertibles. That is, the displays are not detachable because the core electronics are under the keyboard, just like your father’s laptop.
And most of them were unimpressive. The mechanics necessary to flip and/or slide the screen and convert the laptop to tablet mode were more often than not kludgy and some seemed destined for mechanical problems down the pike. And the more problematic designs weren’t thin or light, either. At least not when compared with popular tablets like Apple’s iPad or Google’s Nexus. One of the few exceptions – as I noted before – was the HP EliteBook Revolve. That 11.6-inch design was about as well conceived as a convertible can be. But there’s a reason for that: HP has been building Windows convertibles for ages. The EliteBook 2700 series and its progenitors have been around since the dawn of Windows XP. So, HP has this down to a science.
But, again, that’s a rare exception at present. The future leans more toward a PC with the electronics behind the glass. And there’s no better example right now than the Surface Pro. Microsoft was bold enough to go with a mainstream third-generation Core Intel “Ivy Bridge” chip, not the slower Atom processor that most Windows 8 tablet and detachable makers have opted for. Yeah, the battery life won’t be great, but Microsoft, I think, knew (rightly so) that it would be crucified if it opted for the performance-challenged Atom chip, which isn’t up to the task of running serious desktop applications on Windows 8.
Remember the netbook? That’s one way to look at the first crop of Atom-based Windows 8 tablets: a netbook in tablet clothing. Microsoft didn’t want to go there. And give Lenovo some credit too. It showed off the ThinkPad Helix detachable at CES that separates from the base to become a full-fledged Ivy Bridge-based tablet, not unlike the Microsoft Surface Pro. And Intel, I think, in its heart of hearts knows Atom isn’t really up to the task. Thus, the revelation at CES of the most power-efficient Ivy Bridge yet. One of Intel’s goals is to get these new Ivy Bridge chips — as well as upcoming “Haswell” chips — behind the glass, as Intel’s Adam King told me at CES.
So, I would expect to see an increasing number of Windows 8 tablets and/or detachables sporting Intel’s mainstream Haswell Core processors later this year. And battery life will improve with Haswell. I would be fine with a Windows 8 tablet packing a real Intel chip that gets six hours of battery life. And a Haswell-based Surface tablet should meet or exceed this.
Existing Windows licensees have until January 31 to get Windows 8 Pro on the cheap. After that, the promo price vanishes and upgrade costs head upward. When Microsoft announced last year a ”limited time offer” for Windows 8 upgrade pricing, some thought — or at least hoped — the discounted price might be indefinite. Microsoft officials announced on January 18 that this will not be the case. After January 31, the $40 upgrade price will end. Starting February 1, the Windows 8 upgrade (from previous Windows home/consumer SKUs) will cost $120. The Windows 8 Pro upgrade will cost $200.
Currently, Microsoft is charging $40 for an upgrade license to Windows 8 Pro from Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7. Testers who’ve been working with Windows 8 preview builds also have been eligible for the $40 upgrade price. The Windows 8 preview builds (Developer Preview, Consumer Preview, and Release Preview) all expired earlier this week. After that time, users with those builds will notice that Windows 8 will restart every hour “until they’ve installed a released (RTM) version of Windows,” a Microsoft representative confirmed earlier this week. Here’s information on what users upgrading from XP, Vista, and Windows 7 can expect to migrate (and not) when upgrading to Windows 8. This story originally appeared on ZDNet under the headline “Microsoft’s Windows 8 upgrade promotion really is ending on January 31.”
Windows 8 doesn’t have native DVD video support, but there are several good options for watching DVDs in Microsoft’s latest operating system. We’ll show you a few of the more popular ones.
If you like watching DVDs on your PC, you’ll be disappointed to know that Windows 8 can’t play DVD videos out of the box, so to speak. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend a lot of money to get DVD video playback. In fact, there are quite a few programs available that are free. Here are a few popular options for watching DVDs on your Windows 8 PC:
Windows Media Center
It’s the omission of Windows Media Center that removed Windows 8′s ability to natively play DVD video. If you like Windows Media Center or prefer watching DVDs with Windows Media Player, Windows 8 Pro users can add Windows Media Center as an add-on for $9.99. For a limited time, however, you can get Windows Media Center for free.
Windows Media Center in Windows 8.
(Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET)
VLC Media Player
VLC has been around for over a decade and is one of the most popular media players available — free or otherwise. It ranks No. 1 for video players at CNET’s Download.com and has been downloaded over 47 million times. One of the reasons for its popularity is its support for a wide variety of audio and video file formats.
VLC Media Player in Windows 8.
(Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET)
GOM Media Player
GOM is another very popular media player that can play DVDs on Windows 8. It also supports a plethora of file formats and is easy to use. In order to achieve DVD playback, however, you may need to follow its FAQ on installing the MPEG-2 codec. An official Windows 8 version is in the works, but the current version seems to work fine in Windows 8.
GOM Media Player in Windows 8.
(Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET)
MPC-HC (Media Player Classic Home Cinema)
MPC-HC is a lightweight media player for Windows, based on the older Media Player Classic. It’s not flashy, but it’s small and offers a lot of customization options.
MPC-HC in Windows 8.
(Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET)
That’s it. Do you use any of the media players listed above or do you have another favorite? Let us know in the comments.
Windows 8 can designate Wi-Fi connections as metered, so you can better manage data usage on connections with a data limit.
One of the new features of Windows 8 is metered wireless connections. In the past, you could run Windows programs to monitor your data usage, but they didn’t do anything to actually reduce data usage. With mobile hot spot and broadband card usage on the rise and unlimited data plans nearing extinction, every kilobyte of bandwidth saved is a penny earned. Enabling metering in Windows 8 will limit your PC or tablet’s data usage by preventing nonessential data transfers.
According to Microsoft’s FAQ on metered connections, the effects of enabling a metered connection are:
- Windows Update will only download priority updates.
- Apps from the Windows Store may pause downloads.
- Start screen tiles may stop updating.
- Offline files may stop syncing automatically.
To enable metering on a wireless connection, go to the Wi-Fi network list and right-click on your connection. Touch-screen and tablet users should perform a long press. When the list of options appears, select “Set as metered connection.”
Disable data usage over metered connection
There are two metered connection settings that can further reduce data usage. The first is downloading device software. Go to Settings > Change PC Settings > Devices and make sure that “Download over metered connections” is off. The second setting is syncing settings. Go to Settings > Change PC Settings > Sync your settings, and make sure that both “Sync settings over metered connections” and “Sync settings over metered connections even when I’m roaming” are off.
Check data usage
To see how much data you’ve used on your connection, go back to your network list and left-click on your connection. Touch-screen and tablet users should perform a single tap. Unfortunately, there’s no way to set the counter to automatically reset on a schedule, but you can manually select “Reset” on the first day of your billing cycle.
Check app usage history
If you want to figure out which apps are using the most data, go to the Task Manager and click on the “App history” tab. You’ll see separate columns for overall network usage, metered network, and tile updates. You can get to the Task Manager from the Start screen by typing “task manager” or right-click on the desktop taskbar and select “Task Manager.”
That’s it. Now you know how to use metered connections in Windows 8 to keep your data usage in check. Keep in mind that metered connections only work with Wi-Fi connections; Ethernet connections cannot be metered.