One of the key ways to get people to buy a product is to actually make it possible for them to buy it. It sounds obvious, I know, but even a company as big as Microsoft has been having trouble fathoming this simple idea. Every Surface model has launched in a limited number of markets, taking its sweet time to hit new ones. Surface Pro 3 is no exception, but at least the delay is much shorter in its case.
Starting today, a little over two months after Surface Pro 3 went on sale in Canada, Japan and US, the Windows 8.1 device is available in 25 additional markets. What's more, also today, the much-anticipated Surface Pro 3 Docking Station is available to pre-order in all markets.
Think about wearable tech and your mind probably jumps to watches first. V.BTTN is a little different. It's a programmable button that links smartphones, tablets and computers via Bluetooth and it can then be used to trigger all manner of events. Looking for a remote shutter trigger for your smartphone? V.BTTN can do that for you. Need a remote control to start and stop recording? Got that covered too. The device comes from VSN Mobil and is available now for $59.99. It's one of those pieces of hardware billed as having virtually limitless possibilities, but this is one instance where the claim is justified.
What the button does depends entirely on the app you decide to link it to. It's slightly more advanced than just "hit the button" -- there are short and long press options, as well as gesture support thanks to a built-in accelerometer. As standard, V.BTTN is just a button. You can stick it in your pocket or bag and carry it around with you if you like, but there are also a number of accessories.
Microsoft pulls download links to Windows 8.1 August Update, recommends users uninstall some updates
The August Update for Windows 8.1 (once rumored to be Update 2) has been pulled from the web and is currently no longer available for download after Microsoft received complaints that it was causing errors and system instability for some users.
If you attempt to visit the original download links you’ll be met with a message stating "The resource you are looking for has been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable".
Microsoft’s long-awaited "Update 2" for Windows 8.1 users has materialized in the guise of August 2014 update rollup for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Also available separately for 64-bit Windows, the update is currently listed under optional updates in Windows Update.
The update is not as major as the previous Update 1 release, but does nonetheless contain a number of improvements and tweaked features.
Ninth in a series. User experience is an ongoing series of surprises -- discovery of something unexpected and useful when positive and discovery of annoying glitches when negative. Both evoke emotional responses. The latter is devastating as little frustrations build to crescendo. That's the state I near with my "Microsoft All-In" experiment. Dissatisfaction grows.
I started this journey on July 1, after buying Surface Pro 3. The tablet-hybrid promised so much, and my overall experience with the hardware is excellent. I can't say the same about the operating system, web browser, or supporting services. Clunky is good word. Think old car that runs well on the highway but sometimes stutters and stalls at stoplights. The overall UX is nowhere as smooth as Chrome OS or OS X.
Microsoft will have a hard time convincing consumers who wish to buy Apple's MacBook Air to get Surface Pro 3 instead. That is not because the former is the better purchase, but because these devices aim to please two different crowds. You're either a Mac or a PC, as the old Apple commercials would say today.
I believe that Microsoft does not realize that it is pitching Surface Pro 3 to the wrong crowd. Swaying would-be MacBook Air owners in the hybrid's direction is not a simple matter of touting feature benefits, as in Surface Pro 3 can be more and do more than MacBook Air. People have to be convinced that those features are things they want; just because they are offered does not automatically mean that they will immediately gravitate towards the device that has them. Yes, some do not want more just because they can get more. And, would-be MacBook Air users do not want more. It's more likely that would-be Surface Pro 3 users do.
Microsoft has confirmed that it will be delivering an update for Windows 8.1 on August 12, as part of Patch Tuesday, and as I reported yesterday, it will be a pretty unexciting release.
Anyone hoping that Microsoft was going to surprise us all with a feature packed update will be doubly disappointed as not only is the August update not the rumored Update 2, but Microsoft has no plans -- zero, zip, zilch, nada -- to release an Update 2 at any point in the future. Clear signs that the tech giant is focusing all its attention on Windows 9 (aka Threshold) now.
Microsoft continues to try and change opinions regarding its tiled OS, and today the company introduces a new video showcasing three reasons Windows 8.1 is better. It doesn’t say what it’s better than -- Windows 8, possibly, or Windows 7 -- but it does show how you can use Windows the way you want.
The minute long video is fast paced, colorful, and set to a pumping music track ('Sassy Gang' by Mike Sampey and Mark O'Grady). Frankly if you’ve never used the tiled OS before you probably won’t have a great idea of what is going on, but the flashy captions might help you make some sense of things. As for the three reasons? They are, in order, The Desktop ("it comes up automagically!"), The Apps (which you can pin to the desktop or the Start screen), and The Navigation (the ease with which you can switch between desktop and full screen apps).
In the (nearly) two years since launch, Microsoft has made sweeping changes to its tiled OS. The road from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 Update, has been an interesting, not to mention bumpy one. I was never a great fan of Windows 8, but I love the operating system it’s become.
However, poor market share, and negative word of mouth has meant that Microsoft has to move on and away from 8.x as quickly as possible and, as a result, any future changes and additions -- including the reintroduction of the Start button -- will be rolled into Windows 9 instead of appearing in the next 8.x Update, as had originally been rumored.
Windows 9 can’t come soon enough for Microsoft, as Windows 8.x continues to lose market share, according to the latest usage data from Net Applications.
Last month I reported that in June Windows 8.x had gone into reverse gear, losing market share for the first time, and posed this question -- "Statistical anomaly or downward trend?" It’s too early to call it a "trend" but anyone who expected the tiled OS to make a recovery in July will be disappointed by the latest set of figures. There’s a striking difference this time around too -- both Windows 8 and 8.1 show drops in July. Ouch.
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?