Microsoft came very close to launching a smaller version of its Surface slate three years ago. The Surface Mini, as it was rumored to be called, was expected to see the light of day alongside the Surface Pro 3, but mysteriously there was no sign of it at the software giant’s launch event in New York.
During the company's earnings report a few months after the launch event, Microsoft admitted it had been working on the diminutive device, but had decided "to not ship a new form factor" after all, although it didn’t give a reason. Due to the late cancellation, we never got to see what a Surface Mini would have looked like, but today details and images of it have finally surfaced (pun intended).
The return of the Start menu to Windows 10 was one of the things that Microsoft managed to get right with the latest version of its operating system. While the company has promised to bring Windows 10 to as many devices as possible, it ruled out doing the same for Windows RT devices.
That said, we were told that some key features of Windows 10 would make their way to Windows 8.1 RT. That day has finally rolled around and thanks to the arrival of Windows RT 8.1 Update 3, the Start menu is now available in Windows RT.
We already knew that Windows 8.1 RT Update 3 is coming in September, but recent Windows news has been dominated by the release of Windows 10. The update will be pushed out to Microsoft's Surface and Surface 2 tablets as well as other RT devices, and Microsoft Window's 10 FAQ pages have been updated to explain some of the improvements that users can look forward to.
Nothing has changed with regard to Microsoft's position on Windows 10 for RT devices -- this is still not going to happen. Updates to Windows 8.1 RT is the best that users can hope for, and now the company is starting to advertise -- through Windows 10 -- what the update will bring.
Is Windows RT a failure? Obviously it is. With that said, failing is not always a bad thing. Taking risks and trying new things is essential to a company's survival. Microsoft was smart to make a version of Windows for ARM processors. The problem, of course, is that ARM processors cannot run x86 software. Software availability and compatibility are Windows' greatest strengths -- consumers did not like losing this. Hell, many consumers did not even realize this when buying an RT machine, leading to returns and poor experiences.
Windows RT is not dead yet, however. Earlier today, Windows guru Gabe Aul dropped a bombshell on Twitter -- Windows 8.1 RT Update 3 will be available in September. Oh my. We knew some type of RT update was coming, but it is so exciting to get an approximate ETA. As the owner of a Surface 2 -- which I still love -- I am overwhelming elated. The problem? Aul did not share any details. Here are 5 things I am praying to get in the update. Do you think my wants are reasonable and probable?
There's no need to ask for a show of hands. To get a sense of how long the Windows RT hate-train is, you can just spend a few minutes Googling. A few weeks ago when Microsoft let loose that official Windows RT devices, like the Surface 2, were not getting Windows 10 in any proper shape, the anti-RT chorus cheered that they have been finally vindicated.
Stories like this one which adorned The Verge planted their flags pretty clearly: "Windows RT is officially dead".
For too long it was the metaphorical unwanted litter of kittens tied in a sack just waiting for someone to ditch it in the river. Windows RT is dead, having enjoyed a cancer-ridden 'life' for longer than many people expected. Microsoft announced that it is no longer going to manufacture Surface devices, all but signing the death warrant for Windows RT.
Hear that sound? No? That's the sound of everyone caring about it. To be fair, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. Windows RT was always the sickly twin sibling of Windows 8 and now Microsoft has done the decent thing. It might not quite have delivered the lethal shot to the brain yet, but the gun has been cocked. And not before time.
Microsoft announces fiscal third quarter earnings on Thursday -- reason for me to visit the site today in preparation. I saw what you see in the photo. Tagline: "Honestly, my new PC is exactly what I need at half the price I thought I'd pay". I find the company's months-old "Honestly" campaign to be refreshing in overall presentation and emphasized benefits. Value is big among them. (Colleague Wayne Williams disagrees, by the way.)
Honestly, what's missing: More promotion how great a value Surface is. The Windows RT model doesn't get loads of respect, but I increasingly think that it should. Surface 2 offers HD display, like the Pro model, setting the tablet apart from comparably-sized Androids or iPads selling for about the same price: $449, with 32GB of storage. Microsoft Store offers the refurbished original, granted with lower screen resolution, for $199. Bump memory to 64GB and pay $219. Keyboard cover is another $74.01. Honestly, wow.
In recent years the threats faced by both individuals and businesses have changed thanks to the adoption of new technologies like the cloud, a shift towards social engineering attacks, BYOD and more.
We spoke to Egemen Tas, vice president of engineering for leading certificate authority and security software provider Comodo to get his view on current threats.
Build 2014 has seen lots of revelations already -- a free version of Windows is on the cards, universal apps for different devices will make the lives of developers rather easier, and a raft of new Windows Phones are just around the corner -- but there is one that is particularly intriguing.
During the keynote speech today Microsoft also revealed something else. That it is changing its bloody mind yet again. The Start menu is going to make a return. Yep. The Start menu that was shunned is coming back.
Sonico GmbH has launched a Windows App version of its translation software with the release of iTranslate 1.1 for Windows RT and 8. The app follows the recent release of iTranslate Voice 2 on the iPad and iPhone.
As the name implies, iTranslate doesn't come with any support for translating phrases spoken into the microphone; instead users, must type their word or phrase into the box, and then wait for the app to translate it.
Just a few days ago, Mozilla announced that it would not bother releasing a modern version of Firefox for Windows 8.x -- this in spite of the fact that a team of developers have been working on it for over a year. It seems that the company behind the famous foxy browser regards the modern interface with just about as much disdain as everyone else. So much contempt, in fact, that it can't even bring itself to use the proper terminology: "I know [Metro is] not what Microsoft calls it anymore, but it remains how we talk about it in Mozilla", sneers Johnathan Nightingale, Vice President of Firefox.
Despite acknowledging that Mozilla is no longer "tiny" (far from it, really), Nightingale says that the company needs to focus its attention on those projects that will have the most impact. According to StatCounter, Firefox still manages to grab over 20 percent of the desktop browser market, dropping very slightly to just over 19 percent once tablets are factored in. But moving forward, there will simply be no more work carried out on the modern version of the browser. It is being abandoned like the runt of a litter.
Windows 8.1 Update. Windows 8.1 Update 1. Windows Feature Pack. Windows 8.1 Service Pack 1. Call it what you will, the big update to Windows 8.1 is just around the corner and it promises much. Or at least it did. It was revealed yesterday that it was possible to get hold of the update ahead of schedule with a quick and simple registry edit -- or by downloading the necessary files from the numerous mirrors that quickly sprang up -- and it appears that this is final code; the RTM version that will hit Windows Update for the masses very soon. Was it worth the wait?
This update was Microsoft's chance to put things right, to win back people who hated Windows 8 and have failed to be won over by 8.1. I make no secret about having a love-hate relationship with Windows 8.x. There have been parts of Windows 8 -- particularly the Metro/modern side of things -- which I disliked from day one, but for the most part I have been able to just avoid using them. Microsoft has even acknowledged that people want to avoid the Start screen whenever possible, and has provided tips on how to do so.
The standard fare of tech industry pundits just don't get it when it comes to Windows RT. They lambasted it when it came out in 2012 (in some ways, rightfully so). They doubted Microsoft would release a Surface 2 variant, and Redmond did just that. And they continue to beat the anti-RT drum loud and clear, using RT device sales figures as their proof of a pending death notice.
Perusing Google, you can come across a wild variety of articles that purport to explain why Microsoft needs to ditch RT altogether. Chris Neiger penned one such piece, and even John Martellaro of MacObserver.com did his best to argue how foolish Microsoft was for even considering RT a serious contender.
As a Surface 2 owner, I have come to grips with the fact that Windows RT, the operating system on my tablet, is a bastardized version of "real Windows". However, I love the OS, as it works great and is very secure. On the RT variant, the user cannot install classic Windows programs. While many see this as a negative, I see it as a positive -- classic Windows viruses and malware cannot be installed either.
While the user cannot install classic programs, many come pre-loaded. Favorites such as Notepad and Paint are all here, but even better, RT devices come with Office 2013 preinstalled. Recently, there has been much news about Office 2013 Service Pack 1, but the RT version has been seemingly forgotten. Believe it or not, Office 2013 RT also got updated to SP1. But if you cannot download and run an upgrade file from the web, how do you upgrade? Read on for instructions.
Today on the Windows Experience Blog, Microsoft has done something a little odd -- admitted that the Start screen "can take some time to get used to". But more than this, the blog post by Kirsten Ballweg outlines five tweaks that can be used to "make Windows 8.1 feel more familiar". Given that the first line of the post is "Windows 8.1 looks a whole lot different than Windows 7 or Windows XP", it appears that Microsoft is conceding that Windows 8.1 just isn't everyone's cup of tea.
The solution? A series of tips to help make the latest version of Microsoft's operating system feel more like a version that is several years old! The first tip is interesting. Rather than suggesting the ways in which the Start screen could aid productivity, rather than pointing out all of its cool features, users are advised to simply bypass it. Microsoft has given up trying to sell the new features of Windows to users, opting instead to show how they can be avoided -- after all "the desktop we all know and love is still there".