If you like the idea of trying out the next version of Windows before it is officially launched, Microsoft has made the Windows 10 Technical Preview available for everyone to use. There are various ways to get the preview installed on your computer, but since the release of build 9926, it is possible to upgrade your current Windows 7 or Windows 8 installation to Windows 10 using Windows Update.
This is a much simpler option than downloading the ISO image, but it is an upgrade route that almost encourages people to install the preview build on their everyday computer -- don’t forget that this is not a finished product! We've already looked at how to install Windows 10 in a virtual machine, but if you have a spare machine running Windows 7 or 8, using it as a test bed for Windows 10 just got a whole lot easier.
Windows 10 is shaping up to be the best Windows yet. I am still wrapping my head around it, but after going through most of the changes I think there are a ton of things to like about it, which is an astonishing achievement. Microsoft really managed to surprise me, and I didn't expect that, to be perfectly honest.
However, what seals the deal for me is how all the changes tie together. I can now say that there are clear benefits to using the latest Windows across all devices that support it. It makes total sense, for the first time. In fact, without even trying the new Preview release, I am sold on Windows 10. Count me in as one of the first to make the switch on all of my devices!
At the end of last week, Google took the somewhat unusual step of releasing details of a Windows vulnerability before a patch had been produced. Microsoft is unhappy. Very unhappy. The bug, which affects the 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 8.1 Update, was publicized as part of Google's Project Zero, but Microsoft is calling it a "gotcha".
So angered was Microsoft that Chris Betz, Senior Director of Microsoft Security Response Center hit out at Google in a strongly worded blog post. Citing the war against cyberattacks, Betz expresses anger that Google made public a security issue about the elevation of privileges in Windows user accounts, saying that companies should "come together and not stand divided".
Panasonic is known for its rugged notebook computers and, more recently, tablets. The devices have become essential for folks in certain fields of work. While folks in the construction industry can benefit from this technology, what about those who have a need to process payments while on the go? Panasonic now has that covered as well, unveiling the Toughpad FZ-R1 mobile point-of-sale tablet.
This is a seven inch tablet that runs Windows 8.1 and is powered by an Intel Celeron processor. It also comes with a PIN pad to make accepting payments simpler.
The Enterprise edition of Windows 8.1 has a feature called Windows To Go, which lets you build a portable version of the operating system that you can run directly from a USB flash drive. It works well enough but you need a super-fast (and therefore expensive) USB 3.0 stick to get decent performance.
Intel has come up with an alternative solution that can turn any HDMI display into a fully functioning computer running Windows 8.1 with Bing, or Ubuntu Linux.
It had a bit of a rocky start, but Microsoft's Surface devices have ended up more popular than more people would have imagined. But if there's one complaint that crops up time and time again, it's that the tablet cum laptop is a little on the expensive side -- a Surface Pro 3 could set you back up to $1,949.00 (512GB / Intel Core i7 model).
If you feel priced out of the market, E FUN (nope, us neither) has a trio of cheap alternatives that might suit your pocket. Ranging from $229 to $279, the Nextbook devices include a removable magnetic keyboard and boast touchscreens, and details have been announced ahead of CES 2015.
Yesterday, web analytics firm NetMarketShare released its monthly breakdown of desktop operating system usage share, and it contained a huge shock. According to the figures, Windows 8.x had dropped to its lowest usage share since March 2014, putting it back below XP.
It was a surprise because Windows 8 and 8.1 had both shown solid growth in the previous two months, but suddenly, according to NetMarketShare, 8.x had dropped a whopping 7.07 percentage points in a single month, most of that going to Windows NT. As I observed when reporting, something not quite right there. Late yesterday, the figures were pulled, and new ones have appeared today that show the tiled OS still doing badly, just not quite as badly.
If you are running Windows 8.1 and have a collection of videos in the MKV format, then you are most likely using desktop software like VLC, or a third-party Store app to watch them. You are forced to, because Xbox Video, the Modern UI video player that Microsoft bundles with the operating system, doesn't support MKVs. Well, that just changed.
Microsoft has updated Xbox Video for Windows 8.1 to introduce support for MKV video playback. The latest version of the app -- 2.6.0432.0 -- also packs a couple of fixes that improve the functionality of certain features.
It still has plenty of haters, but Windows 8.1 is finally finding an audience. It may not be anywhere near as sizable as the audience Windows 7 commands, but after losing usage share earlier in the year, the tiled OS is finally headed in the right direction, and at speed.
Earlier today I reported on NetMarketShare’s figures which show Windows 8.1 as having 12.10 percent of the desktop OS market, but now StatCounter has released its own figures which show Windows 8.1 as having just hit a pretty special milestone -- overtaking Windows XP for the first time.
Last month Windows 8.x's usage share did something very surprising -- it went up. Massively, according to figures from web analytics firm NetMarketShare. The tiled OS had been losing share for months, but in October it suddenly took off like a rocket, packing on 4.54 percentage points share in a single month, mostly at the expense of Windows XP.
It wouldn’t have been a total surprise to see Windows 8.x's growth stop, or go back into reverse gear in November, but actually, both Windows 8 and 8.1 showed positive gains once again.
For some strange reason, when Microsoft released Windows 8.1 it forced Windows 8 users to update through the Windows Store. If you wanted to download an ISO file for installing how and when you liked, you either had to be an MSDN subscriber or use a couple of clever workarounds (as detailed here and here).
Thankfully, better late than never, Microsoft has finally come up with an official tool which will let you create your own Windows 8.1 installation DVD or USB flash drive. If you need to install Windows 8.1 from scratch, no longer do you need to install Windows 8 first, and then update through the store.
The Windows tablet market isn't a danger to Android or iPad, but it isn't doing horribly either. Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 seems to be a hit and others are on the market as well, with makers like Dell and Toshiba jumping on board. But in case you haven't yet taken the bait, Microsoft wishes to add a bit more enticement with a sale on one of them.
Between now and November 21st the company is offering the Toshiba Encore Mini WT7-C16MS Signature Edition for a steal of a price. The tablet is a seven inch model and it comes with an Intel Atom Z3735G processor, one GB of memory, 16 GB of storage, front and rear cameras and promises up to seven hours of battery life.
Hands up if you saw that coming? We’ve been so used to Windows 8 and 8.1 losing usage share month on month, that any kind of move in the right direction -- i.e. growth -- seems almost an anomaly. And when Windows 8.x does gain usage share, it’s usually pretty minimal.
Not in October. According to the latest usage share figures from web analytics firm NetMarketShare, Windows 8 use grew in that month, and Windows 8.1 (finally) took off like a rocket. In fact, Windows 8.1’s growth in that month is so impressive you’ve got to imagine the number crunchers at NetMarketShare spent a long time checking and re-checking their findings to make sure there wasn’t a mistake at their end.
With Windows 10, Microsoft will finally restore the missing Start menu to its tiled operating system. That’s great news for anyone who isn’t a fan of the Start screen and Modern UI. But Windows 10 is still a good six months away (probably longer), so until it arrives, the only options for users of Windows 8.x is to either accept the Start screen, or install a third party Start button and menu.
The good news is there are plenty of excellent free options available. Here are our top 12 recommendations.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is one of the greatest tablets for content creators. It can run full-blown software like AutoCAD, Lightroom, Office and Photoshop because Windows 8.1 runs the show, it rivals ultrabooks in the speed department, can double as a laptop with a Type Cover attached, offers good battery life thanks to efficient processors and, on top of all this, ships with a neat stylus as well, out-of-the-box, which Microsoft calls Surface Pen.
Surface Pen is a precise input tool, which comes in handy when users want to draw, sketch or take notes, for instance. Still, for those who would like to make the stylus even more precise in operation can turn to Microsoft's new app, Surface Hub, to adjust pressure sensitivity, among other things.