There’s been a lot of talk in the press over the past few days that Microsoft is planning to kill off RT, its ARM version of Windows. Speculation about the future of the tablet OS has been rife for ages. Five months ago I declared, "Stick a fork in it, Windows RT is done" and although the OS is still with us -- thanks mostly to its inclusion in Surface and Surface 2 -- its days look to remain numbered.
The cause of this latest round of death knells for RT is something Julie Larson-Green, executive vice-president of Devices and Studios at Microsoft, said at a UBS seminar in Sausalito, California, last week. When asked about RT, and whether there was a future for it, Larson-Green replied:
We're all used to getting touchy-feely with our phones and tablets, but it's only in the past few months that touchscreen laptops have really gained any ground. A report by NPD DisplaySearch states that by the end of 2013, touchscreen devices will account for 11 percent of all notebook shipments -- that's around 19.8 million notebooks with touchscreens -- and there has been a steady increase in market share since the beginning of the year.
Richard Shim, senior analyst at NPD DisplaySearch explains that "Premium pricing and a lack of compelling uses for touch screens on notebooks continue to hinder adoption", but goes on to say that "as touch interfaces become increasingly common across all mobile devices, it is just a matter of time before the technology also becomes more prevalent in notebooks".
Another busy week with more news than you could shake a stick at. Following the release of KitKat, Google was riding high as figures revealed that Jelly Bean is now installed on more than half of Android devices. It’s a similar story for Microsoft. Its previous operating system, Windows 7, is still the most popular while growth for Windows 8 and 8.1 remains slow. It was better news for Windows Phone which is making serious inroads into Android and iOS's share of the mobile market in Europe, and even managed to overtake Apple in Italy.
It seems that more people want to be able to use the latest and greatest version of Android, and following the announcement that the Galaxy Nexus would not receive a KitKat update, a petition was quickly launched to try to change Google's mind. Showing that the march of progress will always leave casualties, Google announced that Internet Explorer 9 will no longer be supported by Google Apps, and Windows 7 users gained Internet Explorer 11. To push the launch, Microsoft unveiled a new Anime ad campaign focusing on the browser's improved security.
Next week’s Patch Tuesday will see a number of security patches for Windows 8.1 including three that get the top Critical rating. According to Microsoft’s advanced notification on TechNet the three critical updates address remote code execution issues in Windows and Internet Explorer.
There are also five more updates flagged as Important, three for Windows and two for Office. The three Critical bulletins also apply to Windows XP and will be among the last for the 12-year-old operating system before support ends in April next year.
In keeping up with tradition, Microsoft has launched Windows 8.1 in both digital and physical form. Users can install the new operating system by using either a downloaded ISO file or the provided DVD. But what happens when neither option is right for you? You can use a USB drive.
There are a number of major benefits to using a USB drive for this process. It's compatible with virtually every device that is meant to run Windows, forgoes the need to have a spare DVD and the burner around and is much easier to store and carry with you wherever you may go. A USB drive can also be faster than any DVD, shortening the time needed for the install, and, chances are, you probably already have one lying around. Also, compared to ISO files which can only be leveraged from Windows, USB drives can be used with no software installed on the device.
Most people should know by now that Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP in April 2014. However, according to NetMarketShare's latest report, 31.24 percent of the PC market is still running the venerable OS.
For enterprises this raises serious security and compatibility issues not to mention the time and effort involved in migrating large numbers of systems. Solutions provider Adaptiva is offering an answer in the form of its OneSite Rapid OSD product to aid operating system deployment and cut the time and cost involved in moving to Windows 7 or 8.
NetMarketShare's monthly operating system statistics always make for interesting reading and analysis. For example, a month ago they showed Windows 7's growth was outpacing that of Windows 8. That was, naturally, just a blip, but in October -- the month that Windows 8.1 launched -- Windows 7 managed to make further market share gains.
There are other interesting things about last month's share statistics. Windows 8.1 -- which NetMarketShare has included since the Preview version launched -- is up, as you'd expect, while Windows 8 drops. Combined, the two operating systems see an overall rise, but the growth is slight.
When I embarked on my Microsoft-only journey, I was scared. After all, my professional life and career depends on my use of technology. By limiting myself to only one company and its products, there could be room for more harm rather than good. However, I was also excited to try something new and share it with you.
In reality, people will not purposely restrict their choice in computing; they will choose the devices they want, regardless of brand. Quite frankly, many people mix and match brands and operating systems -- Windows laptop with an iPhone, iMac with an Android smartphone, etc. While I was using a Surface 2 with a Windows Phone in my experiment, that is not necessarily a common combination.
Windows 8.1 is great. But at the same time it -- and its predecessor -- is based on a slightly flawed concept. It's built on the idea of a one-size-fits-all operating system, but in order to get it to work across tablets, desktop PCs, laptops and hybrids, Microsoft has had to make various compromises. A bit like trying to make one suit fit four people with different body shapes.
Windows 8.1 (like Windows 8) fits best on tablets, but tweaks had to be made to ensure it runs on smaller screen sizes. Windows 8.1 works well on standard PCs, but you can almost feel Microsoft's disapproval when you're controlling the OS with a mouse and keyboard -- "But that's not how it's meant to be used!" As a desktop user there are various elements of the new OS which annoy me, but none more so than the Calculator app.
Apple took center stage this week. At a special event the new iPad Air, iPad mini, Mac Pro and a raft of free software were all revealed, and we liveblogged through the whole thing. Not to be outdone by Microsoft, Apple decided to give Mavericks away free of charge along with iWork and iLife. But it was the iPad Air and mini that stole the show, sharing the same innards as the recently announced iPhone 5s, but boasting a redesigned exterior -- at least in the case of the Air.
Of course, no tablet launch would be complete without matching cases. There was also the interestingly designed Mac Pro which looks delightful and is a serious powerhouse, but has a price tag to match. After the big launch of the iPhone 5s, Apple showed off the latest addition to the iPhone range in a TV commercial.
Surface is the tablet market's laughing stock. Microsoft has introduced the two-slate lineup in an attempt to steer consumers away from Apple's iPads and the myriad of Android tablets, by luring them with Windows and its services. In theory, the idea sounded great when the lineup was unveiled in June, last year, showing plenty of promise from the get-go but, as it turns out, most people only want Windows on their desktops and laptops, and not on tablets. The lineup has yet to make great strides in the business segment also.
The moment of truth was in mid-July when Microsoft revealed a $0.9 billion write-off related to Surface RT inventory adjustments. This has clearly shown that the software giant planned to sell a lot more units while the market had other plans, which involved (yes, you guessed it) iPads and Android tablets. Fast-forward a quarter later and Microsoft is now carefully choosing its words, saying that Surface sales have since more than doubled but without announcing an exact number of units that were shifted during the three months ending September 30. But, the $400 million in revenue that the lineup generated still points to a bleak quarter, despite a different picture being portrayed.
In early August, Surface Pro received a $100 price cut in an attempt to lure prospective buyers, following the less than stellar revenues generated by Microsoft's tablet lineup. The base model would run for a more accessible $799, with the flagship costing $899. Now, the software giant is at it again, slashing the price of its Surface Pro one more time.
The latest Surface Pro price-cut comes in response to the arrival of the new Surface Pro 2, that touts significantly better battery life and performance improvements and a price that kicks off at $899 for the base model. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft wants to give Surface Pro a real fighting chance at raking in more sales before pulling the plug.
The traditional telephone and email setup at many businesses is dying. This old-school approach is no longer efficient. As crazy as it is to call email "old school", that is exactly what it is. Many business users want the ability to reach out in real-time, with the option to escalate the interaction to voice or screen-sharing. Lync is the dynamic software solution which is trailblazing the corporate world.
If you aren't familiar, Lync is a business-focused instant messaging client for Windows. However, it is so much more than that -- it is a communication service that brings colleagues together. It provides VOIP, instant messaging, video chat and screen-sharing. The magic of the software is the integration with Outlook -- your status can be automatically updated to reflect your meetings and appointments. Today, Microsoft announces that adoption of the software is booming.
Combined shipments of devices -- PCs, tablets and mobile phones -- are set to reach 2.32 billion units in 2013 according to technology research specialists Gartner. This represents a 4.5 percent increase over last year, but much of the growth is driven by a shift to lower priced devices.
Traditional PCs are forecast to show an 11.2 percent decline, which drops to 8.4 percent when ultramobiles are included. Mobile phone shipments are forecast to grow 3.7 percent to around 1.8 billion units. It's tablets that are still the darling of the consumer though, shipments are expected to be up a whopping 42.7 percent this year reaching 184 million units.
Just about everyone with a desktop, laptop or even a Surface Pro running Windows 8 has been busy updating to Windows 8.1 over the past couple of days.
But things aren’t so rosy for anyone with a Surface RT. After a number of users took to Microsoft forums to complain about problems updating their tablet/laptop hybrids to the latest version of Windows, the update was pulled from the Windows Store.