On Monday I said Windows 8’s ‘failure’ is still a win for Microsoft and talked about the upcoming update -- codenamed Windows Blue -- speculating that it would be priced cheaply like a Mac OS-style upgrade, rather than be given away for free.
Turns out I was wrong. Today Tami Reller, Windows division CFO announced at the JP Morgan Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in Boston that the update will be called Windows 8.1 and be entirely free for existing Windows 8 users, as a download through the Windows Store.
Late yesterday, cloud storage provider Box released updated apps for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. The latest iterations come with new features which are designed to "give users and businesses better control and enhanced security over their content". Let's take a look at the changes.
The most noteworthy feature introduced on Box for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 is the ability to manage (add, change and remove) access permissions for any collaborator in any folder, which the user owns. This functionality is aimed at both users, like students working together on an assignment, and businesses, which need in-depth collaboration features to manage a project.
I was in Dubrovnik, Croatia (or King’s Landing for Game of Thrones fans) when Tami Reller, Windows division CFO announced that Windows 8 had sold 100 million licenses. Since I’ve been back in the UK I’ve had a chance to catch up on what the internet thinks, and it’s fair to say Windows 8’s accomplishments continue to divide opinion.
Some pundits claim the big number proves the doubters wrong, and shows Windows 8 is a roaring success. Others, like my colleague Joe Wilcox, argue 100 million is nothing. I have my own view, and it’s somewhere in-between.
Twenty-eighth in a series. Several popular apps received updates this week. A new version of the ESPN app was uploaded to the store adding tennis coverage to it and fixing a couple of bugs related to the live scoring tile feature and the display of select sports when they are snapped on to the side of the screen.
Toolbox, an app offering access to custom tools that you can display next to each other on the screen received its first commercial in-app upgrade. Users can add a Twitter client to the app for a one-time payment of $4.99.
There’s more than one way to advertise a product and while I am a big fan of the approach that specifically focuses on features, I understand there is a need for other approaches. Sometimes you just need to go for the pure emotional response. In the case of the ads released by Microsoft today which focus on the Asian market that seems to be what they were going for. Take a look.
Some critics (and, oh, there are many) claim Windows 8 is out of this world -- or not meant for it. That Microsoft reached for the stars but fell to earth. How right they may be. The operating system won't achieve escape velocity anytime soon, and an older version is about to burn up on reentry.
The International Space Station, better known as the ISS, runs on Windows, but that is changing. Launched in 1998, the orbiting home, which circles the earth at an altitude of just over 400 kilometers (it varies), is home to a team of astronauts who depend on, not only supplies from home, but also a computer system that keeps everything running smoothly. That computer system is moving to Linux.
Colleagues Mihaita Bamburic and Larry Seltzer both have stories today about Microsoft's newest sales milestone. They make valid points in "Windows 8 is such a failure Microsoft sells 100M licenses" and "You wish you could fail like Microsoft". However, 100 million is less than you might think and represents Windows 8's failure.
Meanwhile, the announcement is Microsoft's attempt to use seemingly good news to admit failure, by softballing step-backwards changes coming with Windows Blue.
The sharks are in the water smelling Microsoft blood. It's the company's "New Coke" moment. Windows 8 is too little too late (hey, that rhymes).
Over the years Microsoft has had a number of true product failures, genuine losers, but fewer than you'd think. I'd certainly count Microsoft BOB as one of these; BOB was an attempt at a cartoony, fun interface to Windows that was laughed off the market in short order. (Microsoft reps told me at the time that the focus groups loved it.)
Judging by all the heavy criticism hitting the interwebs each day one would rightfully assume that Microsoft is on the wrong path with Windows 8. The operating system is often blamed for declining PC shipments, an user interface designed only for touchscreen devices or a scarce Modern UI app ecosystem filled with knockoffs. So, therefore, Windows 8 must be a clear sales miss, right?
Today, Tami Reller, Windows & Windows Live CFO, boasts about 100 million Windows 8 licenses, a figure which does not fall in line with what every naysayer leads you to believe. "This number includes Windows licenses that ship on a new tablet or PC, as well as upgrades to Windows 8. This is up from the 60 million license number we provided in January. We've also seen the number of certified devices for Windows 8 and Window RT grow to 2,400 devices, and we're seeing more and more touch devices in the mix".
Twenty-seventh in a series. Growth remained stable but below the 2,000 new apps mark this week. The overall app count is now at 46,143 in the U.S. Windows Store, an increase by 1,788 apps in total. The store features 36,164 free apps, an increase of 1,362 apps, and 9,979 paid applications, which increased by 426 apps this week.
Several core apps were updated this week. The OneNote application for Windows 8 received an update that adds finger drawing support to it. To use the new feature, tap on the screen and select draw from the radial menu that opens up when you do.
On April 30th, while announcing Skype video messaging for the desktop, Microsoft let it be known that the feature would be coming to the Windows 8 app soon, as well. The company did not lie -- soon arrives today. The communication app already had video calling, but Skype Video Messaging lets you record and send a video message, as opposed to making a live call. This enables getting your message across, even when the recipient is away from his or her PC or phone -- think SMS with video capability.
The new version of the Skype "Metro" app is officially 1.7 and available now from the Windows Store, although the feature is still considered a "preview".
So much for Apple's tablet reign that analysts stoutly stood by even just months ago. Android kicks ass, crushing iOS shipments during first quarter, according to IDC. Among the top four, the fruit-logo company posted the lowest year-over-year growth (65.3 percent), and considerably less than the overall market (142.4 percent). Meanwhile, the company's market share fell by 18.5 points to 39.6 percent.
Among tablet manufacturers, Apple is market leader, with the question being for how much longer. Samsung share rose 282.6 percent -- ASUS even more (350 percent). Strong Nexus 7 shipments pushed ASUS past Amazon to take third place. ASUS' challenge and opportunity could be Google I/O, where the tablet launched last year and new model is rumored for the event starting May 15. Challenge is maintaining shipments during product transition; opportunity is capitalizing on new sales.
Many people want Microsoft to die, and the sooner the better. I’m not in that group, although I understand that years upon years of letdowns through viruses, DLL hell, BSODs (Blue Screens of Death) and a myriad of other problems lead many in the tech world (and consumer world, too) to walk away from everything Microsoft. Add to that the growth of the Internet and mobile devices as well as slumping PC sales, and you can see why so many wait with baited breath to see the company go away for good.
Nevertheless, quarter after quarter Microsoft continues to prove that it still has life and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, in 2011, CEO Steve Ballmer explained how the company intends to reinvent around devices and services. Seeing that the growth of mobile devices and the services that support them represent the future of computing, Microsoft responds yet again to the changing world of computing.
What do you do when you need to check your email? Fire up Outlook or Thunderbird? Launch Chrome and head over to the Gmail website? Having to do this throughout the day is a waste of time, and it’s a waste of time that Toasts&Tiles for Gmail aims to address. As you’d probably guess from the name, this is a Gmail client that includes support for toast notifications as well as live tiles.
With the app running constantly in the background, you will be notified whenever a new email hits your inbox. There’s no need to keep manually checking, breaking away from what you’re doing and losing your train of thought -- if there’s something you need to know about, the app will let you know.
Little more than a month after the company released significant updates for three of its major Windows 8/RT apps, Microsoft unveiled a new set of features for the Weather app. The latest update is aimed at "meteorologists", but the enhancements are likely to be felt by casual users as well.
The weather app now introduces "interactive and dynamically" moving maps, a feature which shows cloud cover, precipitations, radar, satellite views and temperatures for the city or region in which the user resides. The functionality should be familiar to people watching the weather forecast on TV.