Microsoft took a huge gamble with Windows 8, reinventing its operating system for tablets and touch screen PCs. Unfortunately, when it was first released there really weren’t many touch devices for it to run on, and the majority of desktop users (myself included) hated the bolted on full screen Modern UI that replaced the traditional Start menu.
With Windows 8.1, a lot of the complaints aimed at the tiled OS have been addressed. Desktop users can pretty much avoid the Modern UI altogether, and overall 8.1 is a much more polished affair. Despite the improvements and near ubiquity on new hardware, Windows 8/8.1 is still struggling to find an audience. Last month, Windows 7’s growth was four times that of the newer OS. So where does Microsoft go from here? Mary Jo Foley of the All About Microsoft blog reports the answer is "Threshold".
After getting the new 2013 Apple MacBook Air I looked into how I could get it to run Windows 8.1 seamlessly, as my aging HP laptop does. While my needs for using Windows software have decreased dramatically, I do still need a couple of applications every now and then, that either are not available for OS X or do not work as well as I would like them to on Apple's operating system. My first thought was to use Boot Camp, which allows to run Windows 8.1 natively on the MacBook Air, and other Macs.
My experience with Boot Camp has been far from ideal, as some features that I have grown to love in OS X, like the touchpad and the efficient power management, do not work as well under Windows 8.1. This is to be expected because Microsoft did not design its new operating system to run on Macs, but rather PCs, and the drivers provided by Apple are, also, far from perfect. No matter what is to blame, users wanting to run Windows 8.1 will find a way to do it, despite the shortcomings. After my Boot Camp experiment, I decided to try Parallels, one of the best known virtualization software for Macs, to test how well Windows 8.1 can run next to OS X, in a virtual machine.
Microsoft's business communications app Lync, formerly known by the catchy name of Microsoft Office Communicator, has become a go-to instant messaging service for a number of businesses. It works with contacts from Outlook and uses Microsoft Exchange Server, to help bring people together, regardless of where they are.
Now a new update to the Lync app is being pushed out, and this one is exclusively for Windows 8.1. "Based on your feedback, we made a number of improvements in this update that we think you’ll like", the Lync team announces.
The official holiday shopping season kicked off last week and reached full speed today with Cyber Monday. Like every year, Microsoft hopes to see a Windows product on everyone's wish list. This year the company is even planning to throw in a little something extra to sweeten the deal.
The software and services company is announcing that starting now, and running through December 28th, anyone who purchases a new touch PC or tablet is eligible for a shiny new gift card to go along with it. The card can be used to purchase any app or game in the Windows Store.
November was not a good month for Microsoft’s tiled operating system. While Windows 8.1’s market share grew, Windows 8’s share dropped (to be expected as users upgrade). But the real kicker for Microsoft was Windows 7’s growth which saw the older OS easily besting Windows 8.x’s gains.
I really like Windows 8.1 and when people ask me if they should upgrade to the new operating system I say yes, and reel off a list of reasons. But I feel deep down like I’m championing a presidential candidate who no one is ever going to vote for.
It’s Thanksgiving in the US today (as if you didn’t know) so I’m using that as a feeble excuse to give thanks to Microsoft for some of the best features found in its new operating system. As someone who pretty much detested the turkey that was Windows 8 from the moment I installed it to the moment I updated it, I’m constantly surprised by how much I like the new incarnation.
I appreciate Windows 8.1 is not for everyone, but if you persevere with it for a while, and can let go of the old ways, you’ll find it’s actually a great operating system. Controversially, I’d have to say it’s maybe my favorite OS of all time. Sure, as a desktop user there are some things I hate about it, but the pluses easily outweigh the minuses -- for me anyway. Here are five of the features I like best.
There’s been a lot of talk in the press over the past few days that Microsoft is planning to kill off RT, its ARM version of Windows. Speculation about the future of the tablet OS has been rife for ages. Five months ago I declared, "Stick a fork in it, Windows RT is done" and although the OS is still with us -- thanks mostly to its inclusion in Surface and Surface 2 -- its days look to remain numbered.
The cause of this latest round of death knells for RT is something Julie Larson-Green, executive vice-president of Devices and Studios at Microsoft, said at a UBS seminar in Sausalito, California, last week. When asked about RT, and whether there was a future for it, Larson-Green replied:
Windows 8.1, like its predecessor, is designed to run on a multitude of different devices -- desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and hybrids. When Microsoft first unveiled Windows 8 last year, there weren’t many products which really took advantage of the new Modern UI.
Fast forward to present day, and that’s all changed, with loads of touch screen devices available from all the major manufacturers including ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Nokia, and Samsung.
On the weekends, I often go to Best Buy with no intention of buying anything. In other words, I am a technology window-shopper. It is actually quite interesting to observe the habits of consumers while playing with the latest gadgets. While I typically visit all sections of the store, I make it a point to stop and play with one of my favorite computers -- the Acer Aspire R7. Sadly, I am not yet in need of a new computer, so I always leave without buying it.
This laptop is special to me because in a sea of similar devices, this one stands out. You see, it features some unique features such as the patented Ezel-Hinge, which allows the display to be manipulated into a myriad of positions; including a tablet mode. However, it also features a trackpad positioned above the keyboard, rather than below. Is your mind blown? Boom.
It took Microsoft a while to persuade Facebook to produce an official app for Windows 8, but having finally got the social network onboard, the software giant is looking to tighten the ties further still.
The newly announced Facebook Login APIs on Windows 8/8.1 and Windows Phone 8 will allow developers to create apps that can access a user’s Facebook profile, and make it possible to share content, and post comments in-app, and also find friends to play games with. Make no mistake, with more than one billion people using Facebook to connect and share, this is a hugely important development for Microsoft.
If you’re looking for a new tablet, laptop, 2-in-1 device or all-in-one system you might want to take a look at Intel’s new Holiday Buying Guide. The chipmaker has put together a 20-page PDF brochure featuring products from the likes of ASUS, Dell, Lenovo, Sony, HP, and Samsung.
Divided into sections, starting with 2-in-1 Devices, the guide tells you a bit about that particular type of system, and then presents a selection of shiny new hardware vying for your attention (and hard earned cash) this holiday season.
There is a ton of valuable news and information on the internet. Unfortunately, this information is scattered across the web, which makes for a frustrating experience. Sure, you can utilize an RSS service such as Feedly to aggregate your news in one place, but that is not a visually attractive option. The solution to this dilemma for many is an app called Flipboard.
If you aren't familiar, Flipboard is a news and social media aggregation app which formats your desired information in a magazine-like format. This makes it ideal for use on a tablet. It is widely popular on Android and iOS. Sadly, to the dismay of many, this app was not available for Windows 8.1 -- until today.
Next week’s Patch Tuesday will see a number of security patches for Windows 8.1 including three that get the top Critical rating. According to Microsoft’s advanced notification on TechNet the three critical updates address remote code execution issues in Windows and Internet Explorer.
There are also five more updates flagged as Important, three for Windows and two for Office. The three Critical bulletins also apply to Windows XP and will be among the last for the 12-year-old operating system before support ends in April next year.
The biggest threat to any operating system is malicious code gaining access to it. Whilst the User Account Control (UAC) introduced in Vista went some way towards guarding against this, many people found it so annoying that they turned it off.
Since most attacks arrive via the browser, Microsoft's introduction of SmartScreen Application Reputation technology in IE9 was a much more significant step. App Rep is a form of content agnostic malware protection (CAMP) and aims to prevent the execution of malware by barring any applications that aren't explicitly trusted. With the launch of Windows 8 SmartScreen App Rep was extended beyond IE to protect the operating system as a whole.
Inori Aizawa, the official mascot for Internet Explorer (in Singapore at least) is an Anime heroine who spends her time fighting against the dark side of the web.
On her official Facebook page she describes herself as a personification of Internet Explorer, and the parallels between her life and the browser are clear. "When I was younger", she says, "I used to be a clumsy, slow and awkward girl. However, just like the story of ugly duckling, people told me that I have really matured and changed over the years. I feel confident in my abilities now, and I'm eager to show you what I can do. Why don't you get to know me a little better?"