Windows 9 hasn’t been officially announced yet (we don’t even know if that will be its name) but already we’re starting to see screenshots purportedly showing off the feature that is set to get most, if not all of the attention -- the restored Start menu.
Myce.com managed to get hold of two new screenshots -- one showing off the new menu, and the other providing an example of windowed apps. They were taken from build 9795, which was compiled on July 13 (the calendar says both shots were taken a day later).
In the second of our (hopefully) regular competitions, we have quite a treat for you. You've read the headline so you should know what's up for grabs, but if you missed it, the prize is a year's subscription to Office 365 Home worth $99.99.
Microsoft has very kindly donated a full subscription for us to give away, but this is more than just one copy of the world-famous office suite -- you can install Office 365 Home on up to five PCs or Macs, as well as five tablets. Enough for all the family!
Microsoft is keen to get its tiled OS on as many devices, from as many hardware makers, as possible. It introduced the license-free Windows with Bing back in May as part of this push, but prior to that, at Build 2014, it announced it would be offering Windows for free to OEMs and ODMs on all tablets smaller than nine inches.
The dream of an army of smaller devices running Windows 8.1 has suffered a major setback now though with news that one of the largest Windows device makers, Lenovo, has decided to kill off its smaller tablets in the US, citing lack of interest.
Get ready for another rash of "Year of the Chromebook" stories. It isn't, but tongues will wag. Today, NPD released new data about U.S. commercial computer sales which, like the last set, is sure to be misquoted. Spurred by educational buying, Chromebooks accounted for 40 percent of U.S. commercial channel notebook sales for the three weeks ended June 7. But some nitwits are sure to claim all sales, as they did following December's data drop. Commercial sales are more limited and represent those to businesses, educational institutions, governments, and other organizations.
That's not to diminish Chromebook's success, considering the category is but three years old and supplants OS X and Windows sales in the coveted education market. Users gotten young often stay with a platform for life. The browser-based computers aren't singular entities, either. Android and stand-alone Chrome platforms benefit, too, from halo sales going both ways.
We got our first glimpse of the future Windows Start menu at this year's Build Developer Conference, but since then Microsoft has kept the much requested feature well under wraps.
Over the past couple of weeks we've seen some screens purporting to be from leaked versions of the next major Windows release. They certainly look the part, but are they the real deal?
I know it’s a little crazy to talk about how well a future operating system will do, especially when Windows 9 hasn’t even been officially announced yet. But we do already know a fair bit about Windows 8.1’s successor and that, I think, is enough to build a reasonable case.
Windows 8.x is a flop. As much as I love it, I’m a realist. The operating system has taken 20 months to grab just 12.54 percent market share. Windows Vista, the previously used example of a failed OS, was at 19.82 percent in the same time frame. Windows 7, which followed Vista, has been a great success, and there’s every reason to think Windows 9 will do much, much better than Windows 8.x has.
Microsoft’s thirst to put Windows on as many devices as is humanly possible is finally starting to bear the smallest fruit possible with growth of half a percentage point expected in 2015.
Gartner’s figures on the worldwide operating system market released yesterday showed that Windows owned 13.9 percent of the OS sector in 2013, a number that will drop to 13.7 percent this year before rebounding to 14.4 percent in 2015 -- a rise in two years of 0.5 percent.
Eric Ligman, Microsoft Senior Sales Excellence Manager, has released a whole new batch of free ebooks, covering topics such as Windows 8 and 8.1, Windows 7, Office 2013 and Office 365, Azure, Lync 2013, and SQL Server. There are ebooks and resource guides for all things Microsoft.
For the past few years, Ligman has been writing posts in which he has given away almost 150 free Microsoft ebooks, and now he has another 130 more titles available to download for free, in addition to all the ones previously offered. Yes, that's right -- there are now close to 300 titles available.
The problem with running rumors -- something we rarely do on BetaNews -- is in most cases they are entirely made up. We will occasionally cover claims by trusted Microsoft watchers like Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley because they usually come from a knowledgeable source.
Russian leaker WZor knows a lot about Windows too, and although the group's website has been down since an ex-Microsoft employee was charged with stealing secrets (and early builds of Windows 7 and Windows 8), that hasn’t entirely stemmed the flow of leaks. A post from WZor on the Russian-language Ru-Board makes some interesting claims regarding both Windows 8.1 and its successor.
Sixth in a series. On July 1, I officially started my "Microsoft All-In" summer sojourn. Surface Pro 3 is my PC and Nokia Lumia Icon my smartphone for the next couple of months. Google gets the boot -- at least for awhile. I now largely use Microsoft products and services and third-party apps available for the company's platforms. Many commenters wonder why, so let me explain.
I last used Windows as my primary platform in 2010 -- never for Windows Phone. Like other BetaNews reporters, I tend to write about products used regularly. Writing is more authoritative from experience, and often only long-time use reveals hidden problems or benefits. The reality, and it's something obviously seen in comments: Microsoft platform users largely make up BetaNews readership.
Something of a quieter week this week -- perhaps because of Independence Day and preparations there for. Still, there was plenty of news to keep us busy, including the NSA releasing a transparency report -- for what it's worth. Facebook found itself in the firing line after it transpired that the social network had been conducting psychological experiments by meddling with users' newsfeeds. Security is an on-going concern in technology, but it's something we have tendency to think about only in relation to computers and smartphones. One of the latest targets for malware and attacks is the power grid, and it's hard to tell what sort of havoc could be wreaked.
Microsoft tried to do its bit for security -- arguably in a misguided fashion -- by taking control of dynamic DNS service No-IP, and accidentally taking out a number of legitimate sites in addition to those malware-related ones -- the intended targets. In more positive Microsoft news, enhancements were made to Office 365's collaboration options. Windows Phone is still struggling in the smartphone market, but Microsoft will be hoping that this month's launch of Windows Phone 8.1 will help to improve things -- will the addition of folder support be enough? Looking further into the future, Joe pondered what Microsoft should do with Nokia. He also decided to give Windows another chance, helped along by his new Surface Pro 3.
Fifth in a series. Two years ago today, I stepped away from Apple, following a boycott later abandoned. My problems were philosophical, regarding the company's aggressive patent litigation that thwarts innovation. This July Fourth I seek freedom from Google, and not for the first time. I don't oppose the search and information giant, nor like fanboy rally for it. I declare independence as a practical exercise; an experiment. Can you -- OK, I -- do without Big G's expansive portfolio of products and services? I want to know.
In many regards, Google is the Internet gatekeeper U.S. trustbusters asserted Microsoft would be, in their late-1990s court case. Big G is unquestionably a monopoly that integrates features and products for competitive gain. In the United States, Google's search share is about 67 percent (3.5 times greater than second-ranked Microsoft), according to ComScore, and as much as 90 percent in some countries. Android's worldwide smartphone share is about 80 percent, according to IDC.
Take a look at the monthly market share stats for Windows and you’ll see a good proportion of Windows 8.x users are still on the original version of the tiled OS. For some it’s a matter of choice, for others it’s because they simply can’t update to Windows 8.1.
A large number of users have experienced the dreaded Blue Screen of Death when attempting to perform the update to Windows 8.1, which has resulted in them being unable to complete the process. Fortunately, Microsoft has a fix to address the issue.
Like Windows Phone, Windows 8.x does not get anywhere near the same level of attention as its more popular rivals, Android and iOS, receive from top developers. Still, the app selection has slowly gotten better, thanks in no small part to third-party offerings, reaching the point where it ticks all the right boxes for casual users.
But, Windows Store is also seeing improvements in its selection geared towards professionals. The latest major Modern UI offering to greet Windows 8.x is Autodesk's AutoCAD 360, which arrives as a free preview. This is a huge win for the platform.
I’ll be honest, although Windows 8.x losing market share is a shocking state of affairs -- and a new low for an operating system which has struggled since launch -- it’s something that’s been coming for a while. Windows 8 has been dropping share since Windows 8.1 arrived, and Windows 8.1 has been growing at such a glacial pace it was only a matter of time before the losses outweighed the gains, and that’s exactly what happened in June according to NetMarketShare.
In a month where Windows 7 and Windows XP -- the OS that refuses to die -- both gained market share, "new Windows" shifted into reverse gear and began shedding users.