Windows 8.1 Update. Windows 8.1 Update 1. Windows Feature Pack. Windows 8.1 Service Pack 1. Call it what you will, the big update to Windows 8.1 is just around the corner and it promises much. Or at least it did. It was revealed yesterday that it was possible to get hold of the update ahead of schedule with a quick and simple registry edit -- or by downloading the necessary files from the numerous mirrors that quickly sprang up -- and it appears that this is final code; the RTM version that will hit Windows Update for the masses very soon. Was it worth the wait?
This update was Microsoft's chance to put things right, to win back people who hated Windows 8 and have failed to be won over by 8.1. I make no secret about having a love-hate relationship with Windows 8.x. There have been parts of Windows 8 -- particularly the Metro/modern side of things -- which I disliked from day one, but for the most part I have been able to just avoid using them. Microsoft has even acknowledged that people want to avoid the Start screen whenever possible, and has provided tips on how to do so.
Traveling on an airplane used to be quite the archaic experience. Sure, soaring above the clouds is great, but for many, using electronic devices for things like Flappy Bird is much more exciting. Sadly, for many years, electronic devices were banned from certain phases of flight, such as take-off. Luckily, last year, the FAA allowed electronic devices during all phases.
While that was great for passengers, what about the pilots? Surely these air-based navigators want to take advantage of cutting-edge technology too. Well, today is their lucky day, as the FAA grants authorization to Microsoft's Surface 2.
Super Bowl Sunday is a big day for Americans. While baseball may be the national pastime, football has captured the hearts and minds of many people with fantasy leagues and tailgating. Yes, for many, football is not about watching the actual game, but instead eating food, partying and watching commercials.
While it seems most Super Bowl commercials are about comedy, sometimes they tug at the heartstrings too. Last year, I damn-near cried when Budweiser showed a friendship between a man and a horse. This year, in an early unveiling, Microsoft has me both inspired and teary-eyed with its new Super Bowl commercial, simply titled "Empowering".
Handset news aplenty this week. The Nokia Lumia 929 appeared for sale in China, and also showed up on Verizon's US website under the Nokia Lumia Icon name before quietly disappearing. None of this did anything to improve Windows Phone sales for Nokia which were found to be disappointing. Figures released this week showed that phablets are going to become increasingly popular as user look to merge smartphones and tablets in to a single device. It will probably come as little surprise that in the next few years it is predicted that mobile apps will be the most used software. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 owners were disappointed to find that upgrading to KitKat killed their ability to use third party accessories.
Ahead of the release of Update 1 to the operating system, Microsoft finally got around to releasing a guide to mastering Windows 8.1. So keen is Microsoft for you to learn more about Windows 8.1, a second batch of guides was released later in the week. And while you're becoming an expert Windows 8.1 user, Microsoft would like you to take a second look at Internet Explorer and rethink its web browser.
Yesterday, Microsoft released its earnings report for Q2 FY2014 (that is Q4 CY2013), revealing revenue of $24.52 billion and net income of $6.56 billion (78 cents per share). The Redmond, Wash.-based corporation has managed to beat the average analyst consensus of $23.68 billion and 68 cents per share respectively, as my colleague Joe Wilcox noted.
Aside from the strong overall results, there was another part of the earnings report which has caught our attention -- Surface sales. Revenue from Microsoft's Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets reached $893 million during the quarter. That is $493 million more than in the first fiscal quarter of the year. Good news, right? Surface is finally starting to take off, after all. Well, an SEC filling puts a damper on any enthusiasm, as Microsoft actually lost money on its tablets in Q2 FY2014.
Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer got a vote of confidence from customers today, if Surface's sales surge is any indication. In October 2012, he refocused the company on "devices and services", something reflected in the Windows 8.1 tablet and also Xbox One, which launched during fiscal second quarter 2014.
After the closing bell today, Microsoft released long-anticipated Surface sales with its quarterly earnings report. Wall Street analysts and investors also eagerly wondered about Windows 8.1, which revenues looked to be brutally beaten back by historic declines in PC shipments. Surface revenue reached $893 million, up from $400 million during fiscal first quarter. Meanwhile, Windows OEM license sales declined by 3 percent, year over year.
The start to any new year is always slow, and 2014 is no different. As the tech world struggled to shake off its New Year hangover, it was a pretty quiet week. The pace should start to pick up again, though, as CES is just around the corner!
The New Year wasn't the only cause for celebration; it was also Linus Torvalds' 44th birthday. Tablet makers were popping the champagne corks as it was revealed that such devices were among the most popular Christmas presents. Microsoft was also celebrating Windows 8 gaining a 10 percent market share, but Windows 7 also continues to grow in popularity.
Computers are constantly being upgraded at a furious pace. It seems like as soon as you buy one, a new model is ready to make your purchase obsolete. Quite frankly, you may almost prefer not to know about the new models and upgrades -- in other words, ignorance is bliss.
If only there was a company that would upgrade its product, but not tell anyone, then no one would get that bad feeling. Guess what? That company is Microsoft, the time is now and the product is the Surface Pro 2.
This hass been a much quieter week than usual with Christmas meaning that many companies have been on a virtual shutdown. But there has still been a bit of activity over the past seven days. We've reached the end of the year and the BetaNews team finds itself in a reflective mood. Mihaita was the first to pick his favourite tech products of the years, and Wayne wasn't far behind. Brian also got in on the action and Ian shared his thoughts as well. Bing also took a look back at the year, putting together a list of the top ten homepage images of 2013.
A delay at UPS meant that the delivery of many Christmas presents was held up, but if the delivery man did manage to make his way to your door in time to bring you a Surface 2, Brian has a guide to getting started. Alan was also on hand to help anyone who was the lucky recipient of a Kindle Fire HDX or a Google TV. Many people will have received, or bought themselves, a Windows 8.1 PC: Wayne had the info you need to get started.
While the Surface line of Windows tablets are well-built and functional, they have not exactly set the world on fire. Consumers are still mostly opting for iPads and Android tablets. It's hard to blame them -- the app selections on these competitor platforms are more bountiful and robust. Not to mention, Surface gets more press over price reductions and billion-dollar write-offs than anything else.
However, there is one place where Microsoft's tablet is poised to make an impact -- the classroom. A Surface tablet with the type-keyboard attachment is a wonderful tool for both students and educators alike.
If you’ve been putting off buying Microsoft’s slate until the price dropped a little, now’s your chance to pick up a bargain. As part of a holiday deal at the Microsoft Store, the devices and services giant has slashed $200 off the price of the 64GB version of the first-generation Surface Pro, and $220 off the 128GB model.
This brings the price of the 64GB slate down to $599 from $799. The larger capacity model is now $679, as opposed to $899. The price of the Touch Cover has been reduced to $49.99 also, so you may want to pick one of those up at the same time. The price includes free shipping and free returns.
Unlike my colleague Brian Fagioli, and many other disillusioned users, I think Microsoft made a serious mistake when the Start menu and button were removed from Windows 8. The company practically admitted as much when Windows 8.1 saw the reintroduction of the Start button. But this was simply not enough. Windows is all about the Start menu, and for many people the Start button and Start menu are so inextricably linked that to have either without the other just makes no sense.
Sure, we have the Start screen in Windows 8.1 and from it you can achieve pretty much what you were able to do with the Start menu. But it is not the same. Windows 95 was all about the Start button and the Start menu that it conjured up. Yes, we may be the thick end of 20 years down the line, but this is at least partly the point. We have had almost two decades to get used to a particular way of working. It would be strange if there wasn’t a backlash against something we have become so used to.
It being the week of Thanksgiving, anyone looking for a bargain will have been eagerly anticipating Black Friday. The big names did not disappoint including Microsoft who had special prices on Surfaces. If you were undecided between buying a Surface or an iPad, Microsoft compared the two devices so you don’t have to -- and there are no prizes for guessing which comes out on top! If you give or receive giftcards as presents this year, they can now be used to pay for things through PayPal checkout.
Microsoft's Scroogled campaign may not be in the spirit of the season, but it continues apace. In one advert, the services of Pawn Stars were called upon to take a pop at Google's Chromebook -- Alan was less than impressed. Brian, however was pleased to be the recipient of a surprise, unadvertised mug having placed an order via the Scroogled store, and Joe is a big fan of the campaign. Speaking of Chromebooks, Acer announced an ultra-cheap touchscreen device in the form of the C720P.
We're all used to getting touchy-feely with our phones and tablets, but it's only in the past few months that touchscreen laptops have really gained any ground. A report by NPD DisplaySearch states that by the end of 2013, touchscreen devices will account for 11 percent of all notebook shipments -- that's around 19.8 million notebooks with touchscreens -- and there has been a steady increase in market share since the beginning of the year.
Richard Shim, senior analyst at NPD DisplaySearch explains that "Premium pricing and a lack of compelling uses for touch screens on notebooks continue to hinder adoption", but goes on to say that "as touch interfaces become increasingly common across all mobile devices, it is just a matter of time before the technology also becomes more prevalent in notebooks".
Sony PlayStation 4 hit the stores and Brian not only took a look at the brand new console, but also cracked open the case and slipped a larger hard drive inside. Brian wasn't alone in his love of the PS4, more than a million people also bought a console on the day of launch. But not everyone was happy as many units were found to suffer from a Blue Light of Death problem that rendered them unusable. Raspberry Pi was also celebrating its sales figures as more than two million were shifted since its launch last year.
In a rare show of unity, Microsoft and Google joined forces to help tackle the problem of online child pornography. At the same time, Microsoft took its Scroogled campaign to a new level by releasing merchandise (although Joe was impressed). Elsewhere online, Twitter introduced Twitter alerts to the UK and Ireland to help provide people with critical information in an emergency.