It seems that these days it is not enough for a laptop to just be a laptop, or a tablet to be a tablet. I'm not talking about the strange new breed of devices that are capable of running Windows and Android, or the rumors that handsets running Windows Phone and Android might see the light of day (haha! Can you imagine?). I'm talking about the devices that seem to be trying to become best friends with Michael Bay, transforming between multiple modes.
It's not really a new concept. We've already looked at Lenovo's Yoga 11S which can be bent into four different positions. The same company also has the Flex range which has fewer Transformer-like capabilities, but is still more than just your average laptop. At CES 2014 Toshiba decided to up the ante, taking the wraps off a 5-in-1 device.
The start to any new year is always slow, and 2014 is no different. As the tech world struggled to shake off its New Year hangover, it was a pretty quiet week. The pace should start to pick up again, though, as CES is just around the corner!
The New Year wasn't the only cause for celebration; it was also Linus Torvalds' 44th birthday. Tablet makers were popping the champagne corks as it was revealed that such devices were among the most popular Christmas presents. Microsoft was also celebrating Windows 8 gaining a 10 percent market share, but Windows 7 also continues to grow in popularity.
Great news for fans of Windows 8 and 8.1, Microsoft’s divisive operating system has finally claimed 10 percent of the desktop market. According to NetMarketShare, which monitors such things, in December Windows 8 lost 0.01 percent share, but Windows 8.1 grew by 0.86 percent. Windows 8 now has 6.65 percent of the market and Windows 8.1 is sitting on 3.5 percent, bringing the OS’s combined share to 10.15 percent. Great job Windows 8.x.
However, as seems to regularly be the case, the new operating system’s gain was dwarfed by that of its elder sibling. Windows 7 put on a growth spurt that’s nothing short of stunning.
Well, that's another year out of the way! It's customary at this time of year to make resolutions... for some people at least. It's something I've always shied away from, but this year is going to be different.
I don’t smoke anymore, I don’t need to lose weight, and I'm unlikely to take over the world in the next twelve months. But when it comes to tech, there is room for improvement, so here are my New Year's resolution that I will, truly, try to stick to.
Being slightly late to the party when it comes to posting my list of favorite tech kit for this year means you'll probably have seen some of these things on other people's lists too -- blame spending Christmas in an internet free zone.
But hey, this is very much a personal thing, so these are my particular selections and the reasons why I've chosen them.
Microsoft has released Project Siena, a Windows 8 app which allows anyone to create Windows 8 apps, no programming skills required.
Building the interface is as simple as placing, moving and resizing assorted objects on your page: images, videos, buttons, lists, checkboxes, whatever you need.
The finished version of Windows 8.1 has been out for a couple of months now, but if you’re still using the free preview build, time is running out. Windows 8.1 Preview and Windows RT 8.1 Preview are both set to expire on January 15.
Upgrading from the preview to the final GA release is very easy, and there are a couple of ways of doing it.
It's that time of year once again. Approaching the end of another 365 and a quarter days cycle puts us all in a reflective mood. It's not uncommon to look back at what has happened in the previous 12 months and pick out the highlights of the year. It's also quite common to look forward in anticipation of what the coming year might have to offer. But how about something a little different, something a little more downbeat? What have been your lowlights and disappointments? There's no need to end the year on a high, after all!
I am one of those people still devastated at the loss of Google Reader. Both as a journalist and as someone who simply devours news from all manner of sources, this was my go-to service for getting my daily -- well, hourly… oh, OK, five minutely -- fix of headlines from hundreds of websites. Double disappointment came when I thought an ideal solution was to be found in Feedly, but slow updates and a pricing structure I found objectionable meant that this soon fell by the wayside. Disappointment number two. Still, it helped me to discover InoReader -- every cloud, and all that.
So Windows 8.1 is finally here and although it is a massive improvement over its predecessor (I recently had to install Windows 8 on a laptop and couldn’t believe how bad it is in comparison), Microsoft’s new Start button really isn’t what a lot of people were hoping for.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of the new operating system without being bothered by the Modern UI there are lots of alternative third-party options available. And when I say lots, I mean it. Some cost money, others are free. I’ll list my favorite three and then suggest some others to try if those don’t appeal.
The customer is always right, right? As a customer it is understandable that this old adage seems like something set in stone, but looked at from a company's point of view things are rather different. A large proportion of customers are in fact idiots. While it is reasonable to expect a company to listen to what its customers have to say, does this risk stifling innovation as customers demand that things be done a certain way?
Here on BetaNews we've had a little debate about whether Microsoft should reintroduce the Start menu. Despite the number of people calling for its return, Brian does not think it is a good idea saying that "the company should ignore these customers, even if they are the majority". I am of the opinion that it would be good to at least make it optional, particularly for enterprise customers.
Things are starting to get festive, and that means there's also a lot going on. This past week has been quite a busy one! It might not come as a surprise, but the figures are in -- Windows 8.1 is not performing anywhere near as well as Windows 7 in terms of sales. Part of the reason for the slower adoption could be the Start screen and the absence of the Start menu. There has been some debate here at BetaNews about the possibility that the Start menu could make a return. Brian is very much opposed to the idea, I think it's probably a good idea, particularly for business users, while Wayne showed us how to get the Start menu back right now.
The backlash against NSA surveillance continues, and now Microsoft, Apple, Google and a number of other big names have joined forces and written to President Obama asking for reform. Joe was not impressed. To help protect user accounts, Microsoft beefed up security.
I know what you’re thinking -- BetaNews doesn’t need yet another Start button/menu story surely! But actually, I think we do, so bear with me. My colleague Brian Fagioli believes that Microsoft most definitely shouldn’t restore the Start menu in a future version of Windows, and in fact wants the OS to run "legacy" (aka desktop) software full screen like a Modern app. Mark Wilson on the other hand, thinks Microsoft should re-introduce the menu and leave the Modern UI to tablets.
Both are interesting viewpoints, and the comments accompanying the articles show that there’s a firm split in opinion among Windows users. But the Start button and menu isn’t a magic bullet. Adding it to Windows 8.2, aka "Threshold", or even bringing it back to Windows 8.1 as a mini update, as some tech watchers have suggested could happen, won’t save the day. There’s too much negativity surrounding the tiled OS -- and that’s what Microsoft really needs to work to fix.
Unlike my colleague Brian Fagioli, and many other disillusioned users, I think Microsoft made a serious mistake when the Start menu and button were removed from Windows 8. The company practically admitted as much when Windows 8.1 saw the reintroduction of the Start button. But this was simply not enough. Windows is all about the Start menu, and for many people the Start button and Start menu are so inextricably linked that to have either without the other just makes no sense.
Sure, we have the Start screen in Windows 8.1 and from it you can achieve pretty much what you were able to do with the Start menu. But it is not the same. Windows 95 was all about the Start button and the Start menu that it conjured up. Yes, we may be the thick end of 20 years down the line, but this is at least partly the point. We have had almost two decades to get used to a particular way of working. It would be strange if there wasn’t a backlash against something we have become so used to.
The year 2013 has been a roller-coaster ride for me -- full of surprises when it comes to computing. After all, I am a self-proclaimed Linux user who fell in love with Windows 8. While I struggled with the operating system, I have ultimately settled in with it (Windows 8.1 helped improve the experience).
However, I am a bit dismayed -- no, livid -- that Microsoft is allegedly considering bringing the Start Menu back in the next version of Windows (code named "Threshold"). While it is only a rumor thus far, it warrants some consideration. The Modern UI is the future of Windows and Microsoft should not listen to naysayers. In other words, the company should ignore these customers, even if they are the majority.
According to Microsoft watcher Paul Thurrott, Windows 8.2, or "Threshold" as it’s apparently being referred to internally at Microsoft, could see the return of the Start menu for desktop users. "After bringing back the Start button in Windows 8.1, Microsoft will take the next logical step in the next Windows version and make the Start menu available as an option. It's possible this will appear only on those product versions that support the desktop", claims Thurrott. He also suggests Threshold will allow users to run some Modern UI apps on the desktop, as you can using ModernMix.
The absence of a real Start button and menu is seen by many as one of the main reasons why Windows 8.x is doing so badly. The Start button and Apps screen in Windows 8.1 is -- for me -- a great compromise, but it seems many consumers would rather just have things back how they were, and if Thurrott is right those disgruntled users might finally get their wish when Threshold arrives sometime in 2015. Don’t want to wait that long to get a proper Start menu in Windows 8.x? The good news is there are plenty of quality third-party options available now.