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 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.
Windows Phone 8 has been available on the market since late-October, 2012. That makes it more than a year old in human time and quite a bit older in tech years. So far, I've been through two smartphones running the tiled operating system -- the HTC Windows Phone 8X (in an insanely gorgeous purple) and Nokia Lumia 920 (the boring "businessman-black" version as I like to call it). There is also a Lumia 520 nearby (in a nice shade of red), that I use from time to time to gauge how it gets along with Windows Phone 8 and various new apps.
I have been playing with three important handsets that are available under the Windows Phone 8 umbrella, in order to discover the benefits and the downsides of the platform as well as get an idea of the direction Microsoft wanted to impose for its latest attempt to make great strides in the smartphone OS market. On paper, the software giant only wants the best for Windows Phone, but in practice there are still a couple of bad points about its strategy that indicate, to a certain degree, smartphones are not really a priority for the Redmond, Wash.-based company.
Today, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and Hanukah, a rare occurrence they overlap. We reflect on the things we feel -- or should be -- grateful. Ahead of the holiday meal I served up "13 things for which Google gives thanks" and colleagues Wayne Williams and Alan Buckingham "5 things to be thankful for in Windows 8.1" and "5 products I'm thankful for", respectively. I would be remiss ignoring Apple.
The fruit-logo company is unique in techdom, inventing or reinventing several hugely successful product categories. Most companies have one- or two-hit wonders. Apple has a string of smash hits, like the rarest of iconic musicians. The Beatles come to mind, because of their 50th-anniversary and name shared -- you know, Apple Records. The many things for which the company should be thankful are obvious, so let's just dispense with those and get to items other list-makers, if there are any, likely will overlook. I present Apple's thankful things from least to most important.
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.
After pitting its Surface 2 against Apple's iPad Air (unsurprisingly, the former wins that round), Microsoft is now going after Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 in a new Surface RT ad that focuses on the connectivity options offered by the two devices.
It is a no-brainer as to which one wins the battle in this new ad -- yes, it is the Surface RT. The slate comes out on top as the superior device because it allows users to connect an external display, connect a drive to the full-size USB port and charge it, at the same time. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is portrayed as the sore loser due to its significantly limited hardware design.
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:
Whoa, twice now in less than seven days, I defend Microsoft's "Scroogled" advertising campaign. Seriously, someone deserves a fat Holiday bonus for hitting homers out of the marketing park. As good as anti-Google logo mugs and Tees are, the followup is better.
The Scroogled commercial featuring Rick Harrison and his dad from "Pawn Stars" is so effective that BetaNews has three posts debating the merits -- and there are loads more across social networks. Colleague Brian Fagioli calls the commercial the "best Scroogled ad yet", while Alan Buckingham says it's an "embarrassment". Hehe, they're both correct.
Microsoft has been on fire today in the video department. First, the company released a controversial video declaring that a Chromebook is not a laptop. While that should be enough controversy for the day, it is not resting.
Today, Microsoft releases two new videos comparing its own Surface 2 to the iPad Air. Shocking to no one, the Surface 2 beat Apple's tablet. Was it a fair fight? You tell me.
While the staff here at BetaNews is a fairly close knit bunch, that doesn't always mean we agree on everything. In fact, debate is a part of daily life. To that end, earlier today my colleague Brian Fagioli took it upon himself to call the latest Scroogled ad, this one against the Chromebook, the "best Scroogled ad yet".
He seems to think all of this behavior is acceptable, even amusing and honest. I suppose if you are a fan of the show Pawn Stars, then you may find it of mild interest. However, what it also turns out to be is utterly untrue.
When it comes to TV advertisements, they can usually go two ways -- flashy or informative. For the most part, flash dominates the airwaves. Sometimes I watch an advertisement and have no idea what the product is. Microsoft is no stranger to the flashy commercial. If you recall the original Surface ads, they featured trendy people dancing, with a focus on the sound that the kickstand made. It was an overall dud.
It is hard to fault a company for taking this approach, as informative ads can be considered boring. However, Microsoft may have found the perfect balance in its latest Scroogled ad, which features the stars of hit TV show, "Pawn Stars". It is one of the best advertisements I have seen in recent memory and Microsoft deserves applause.
Thanksgiving is only two days away. Across America, people have begun thawing out their turkeys in preparation of the big meal. Yes, the carcass of a slaughtered bird is being prepared for consumption, as is the custom. While the traditions of the holiday go back hundreds of years, there is no reason that modern technology cannot be utilized to improve upon it. Today, Microsoft announces the best Thanksgiving apps for Windows Phone.
"With T-minus two days to Thanksgiving 2013 here in the US, many people are double-checking shopping lists and firing up their stoves for a lazy day of holiday feasting, family, and football. That’s where our newly updated Thanksgiving collection for Windows Phone comes in: it’s full of apps to help organize, upgrade and generally ease your plans for the big day", says Michael Stroh of Microsoft.
When Microsoft launched the Scroogled store, it was met with both criticism and praise. Even in the BetaNews newsroom, it was a polarizing topic -- Wayne called it a "new low", while Joe called it "genius". Regardless of your stance, one thing is for sure, the products have been popular. Much of the Scroogled merchandise sold out very quickly and now show either an "Out of stock" or "Ships within 3-4 weeks" message.
Heck, I felt compelled to buy something from a collector standpoint. After all, Microsoft selling anti-Google products is a notable moment in the history of technology. With that said, I frantically pulled out my credit card and bought the mug before it sold out. While I did receive the mug, I received something unexpected too -- a second mug, with an unreleased design. Whoa.
Despite the small number of problems reported by customers of the new Xbox One, Microsoft is still heavily pushing the new generation of its gaming console. The latest version comes with a learning curve, though not a steep one. Still, for the average user, it will take some getting used to.
Now, Larry Hryb, better known as Major Nelson, wants to help out new users in finding their way around. To do so, the Xbox Live chief has released a cheatsheet to teach everyone a bit about controlling the Kinect with voice and gesture commands. "I tweeted images of a Kinect voice and gesture 'cheat sheet' earlier today, but I was able to get my hands on the high resolution PDF of them both as one file that will print out at a much higher quality", Hryb states.
If my colleague Mark Wilson’s list of five reasons to choose Surface 2 over iPad Air has you considering purchasing one of Microsoft’s slates, you’d better get your wallet ready.
There are always bargains to be found on Black Friday (and the days surrounding it) but you can never guarantee that the tech you’ve got your eye on will be discounted. The good news for would-be Surface owners is Microsoft has confirmed it will be offering "awesome deals" on its tablet PC.