Ever since viruses started to hit the headlines back in the 1980s, security for PCs has been big business. Products like Norton and McAfee have grown to household name status, and made their original developers very rich men on the back of it.
This is mainly because Windows wasn’t built with security in mind and was adopted in such huge numbers that it made a tempting target. Until recently that is. With Security Essentials built into Windows 8 and active by default, and available free for users of older systems, the boys at Redmond have suddenly started to take security seriously.
Well, well, perhaps Windows 8 isn't cause for all the PC market's woes, as IDC strongly stated yesterday. Gartner's first-quarter assessment is grim but no reaper. The analyst firm lays blame partly on consumers unwillingness to pay more for touchscreen models and asserts that the business market actually grows. Also, the firms released contradictory data, with Apple showing glaring and shocking differences.
Mikako Kitagawa, Gartner principal analyst, doesn't blame Windows 8: "Consumers are migrating content consumption from PCs to other connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones". The first factor pulling down PC shipments, which by Gartner estimates fell 11.2 percent globally during Q1, is tablet competition, then. Not Windows 8.
In some alternate universe, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer slaps former Windows & Windows Live president Steven Sinofsky on the back for a job well done. The company's newest operating system is such a huge success that sagging PC shipments soared to record numbers. Our reality is something shockingly different. First-quarter declines are the worst since IDC started tabulating numbers in 1994 and surpass the worst estimates. You know things are really bad when even perennial gainer Apple sees a huge year-of-year fall off.
"At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market", Bob O'Donnell, IDC vice president, says. Holy Moley, Windows 8 slowed the market? You want to know why Ballmer booted Sinfosky out the door? O'Donnell offers chilling indictment.
What shameless exploitation. I know PC sales are slow, with Windows 8 giving no lift. So Microsoft resorts to this? Today, Stephen Rose issues an ultimatum: Windows XP support ends in 365 days. From April 8, 2014, there will be no more patches and updates for you.
How outrageous! Microsoft cuts off XP users thirteen-and-a-half years after releasing the operating system. My leather jacket is older, and the clothier who made it isn't forcing me to buy a new one. Nor does Texas Instruments demand I upgrade from the calculator purchased in college. If users want to run Windows XP forever, Microsoft should let them. Instead, it's compute at their own risks or upgrade.
A fortnight ago I asked a simple question -- Is it time for Microsoft to make big changes to Windows 8? BetaNews readers weighed in on the topic and as I'd hoped it made for some fascinating and insightful reading.
Although plenty of people support Windows 8 and the Modern UI, a lot of readers feel that yes, Microsoft should seriously consider making changes to its divisive OS and accept that the "one size fits all" model isn’t working.
I am simply stunned by the ridiculous number of "Microsoft will be dead in four years" stories, following Gartner's grim PC forecast three days ago. I offered brief analysis then and promised something later, and this is it. Yesterday, colleague Alan Buckingham posted first: "Microsoft is nowhere near death's door" -- and he absolutely is right.
Throw a rock, and you can't miss a doom-and-gloom armchair analysis. Among the many are "Gartner: Microsoft is dead, Windows has expired, Office has ceased to be" (Computerworld); "How long can Microsoft go on like this?" (InfoWorld); "Apple's ultimate victory over Microsoft" (Motley Fool); and "Gartner may be too scared to say it, but the PC is dead" (ReadWrite). For the most part, all these armchair pundits are mistaken. Hugely.
Twenty-third in a series. The app count in Windows Store made a huge jump this week from 35,631 apps last week to 38,113 apps, an increase of 2,482 apps in total. The majority of new apps fall once again in the free category, with 2,044 new ones released this week for a total of 29,840. Paid apps increased by 439 this week to 8,273 in total. It appears as if Windows Store is picking up pace in regards to apps releases. The chart above highlights the progression in the last five weeks.
As far as updates go: the Skype app for Windows 8 bumped up to version 1.6, adding better options to block contacts in the communication app.
It’s no secret that Windows 8 has seen some controversial changes, in particular the removal of the Start menu. But with all the focus on these larger issues, you might have missed some smaller, but also significant design decisions. Like, for example, that there’s no longer any desktop alert when Windows updates are available.
There is a new alert on the logon screen, of course. And you can always set up Windows to install updates automatically. But, if you don’t reboot often (or you bypass the logon screen), and you want to keep tighter control over your updates, then you’ll need to look elsewhere for a little extra assistance. And Windows Update Notifier is the perfect candidate.
Today, Gartner offers grim prognostications for the PC's future, which is not surprising. That the analyst firm took so long disturbs and reveals much about how all these consultants seek to preserve client contracts before anything else. I've warned for years that connected-devices would diminish the personal computer's relevance, much like the mainframe's decline three decades ago. The PC era is over, as I asserted here 26 months ago. On Halloween 2008, I asked in a Microsoft Watch post: "Will your next PC be a smartphone?" What took Gartner so long? The "new device religion" analysis still misses the mark, too.
Following IDC's lead, Gartner now combines PCs, smartphones and tablets into a single forecast. By that measure, in 2012, Android worldwide device shipments (497 million) exceeded Windows (346.5 million) and will more than double (to 1.07 billion) by 2014. Analysts warn the operating system that defined the PC era will struggle with Apple iOS and OS X to be the second dominant platform. By many measures, the circumstance looks grim for Microsoft and Windows, and that's already the popular sentiment today among blog posts and news stories about Gartner's forecast. Don't believe them.
Late yesterday and throughout this morning I have browsed my RSS feeds and continued to be amazed by the stories I see. This is not new -- I am often amazed by what some sources will run with. However the latest "news" surrounding Windows "Blue", which leaked out last week, has me completely perplexed.
Blue is, of course, very real. I am running it in a virtual machine and Microsoft has even confirmed that this update will be unveiled at the BUILD conference in June. The company has also told us that "Blue" is a code name, meaning it will likely not be the final moniker that the update is released under. All of this we know.
Every week Microsoft's Office team does a webinar. That is not news, but this week the company is focusing on Office specifically within Windows 8. While perhaps many of you are not yet using the latest versions of Office and Windows, it is pretty much assured that eventually you will be -- assimilation is inevitable.
With that thought in mind, Microsoft's Doug Thomas announces that "if you are working with Windows 8-or your business will be using Windows 8 soon-check out this week's webinar. We will go over shortcuts and quick navigation for keyboard and mouse, plus answer your questions".
Twenty-second in a series. It has been a busy week filled with announcements and updates regarding Windows Store. The core applications Windows 8 Mail, Calendar and People got updated. Calendar users were in for a surprise if they used to sync their data with Google Calendar, as that does not work anymore after the update. The Mail app received significant improvements, including the ability to create, rename and delete folders inside the application and options to flag emails as important.
The People app got a new feature that lets you post messages to the Facebook Wall of friends, and the Calendar app received an interface makeover. Microsoft updated Xbox Music, too -- a new volume control option now acts independently from system volume and there are several other features, including the ability to make songs added to Xbox Music available on all compatible devices.
Tech journalists are talking about what Windows Blue will mean for the future of Windows. Actually, no matter what anyone suggests, only Microsoft really knows what it has planned for future versions. What really is important though is how changes to the operating system will affect software developers, plus businesses, and why considering this may be far more important in the long run.
In recent years we have seen the over-consumerization of computers, in particular the shift from desktop PCs to tablets and other portable devices. Everything seems to be all about mobile today. But is mobile and touch the future of computers ?
On Wednesday, Nook Media -- Barnes & Noble subsidiary -- announced that Windows 8 users can take advantage of a "free book and magazine offer", available for a limited period of time, after installing the Nook app.
All that users have to do is download the Nook app -- which is available for any Windows 8-based device -- and sign in with their Microsoft account. From there on, they can choose up to five popular books and five top magazines (all free) from a specific list that includes titles such as Blue Bloods, Hello, Life of Pi, The Enemy, GQ, HGTV Magazine and Time, among others.
Suddenly San Francisco is the hot developer ticket of the year. Say, can I just rent a room in your house for May and June? Today, Microsoft announced that BUILD 2013 will take place from June 26-28 at the Moscone Center in the city on the bay. Google will be there, same city and venue, with I/O from May 15-17. Apple usually holds its developer conference there in early June but hasn't announced. Big Three trio would be a helluva travel schedule for anyone flying in from anywhere else, particularly outside North America. Choose your event(s) wisely.
I just have to ask: Did Microsoft bump Google? Last year, I/O moved from its more typical May schedule to late June -- 27th-29th. Did Steve Ballmer and Company book early and lock in the dates? I don't really care, and it's not news, but speculation is delicious given the rivalry between these two companies.