Tag: Windows 8.1

Confusion reigns over Windows 10 licensing

windows-10-start-menu-customised-live-tilesWhile Microsoft has now confirmed that PC versions of Windows 10 will ship at the end of July, and versions for other machines later, there is considerable confusion in the market about how the firm will price up its offerings.

Windows 10 is being offered free to users of Windows 7 and the benighted Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 – but reports suggest that the picture is far from clear on how Microsoft will tackle the OEM end of the market.

According to a report in Taiwanese wire Digitimes, Microsoft has muddied the waters by offering discounts in a failed bit to compete with Google Chromebooks.

The report suggests that Microsoft is now offering discounts depending on the specifications of the hardware with the cheapest charge being $15.

And that’s discouraging some vendors of high end machines.

Nevertheless, it’s believed that Microsoft will encourage vendors like Acer and Lenovo to supply Windows 10 notebooks costing no more than $250.

These are supposed to compete with Chromebooks but it could be the move is too little, too late.

Microsoft says start-menu non-starter this year

It looks like Microsoft’s promise to provide a Start Menu for Windows 8 with its coming Windows 8.1 Update 2 is not happening. ,

Vole had been promising a new “Mini” Start Menu part of a second update to Windows 8.1. Windows 8.1 Update 2 was supposed to arrive in August.

ZDNet hackett Mary Jo Foley said her deep throats in Redmond had told her that Microsoft’s operating systems group has decided to hold off on delivering a Microsoft-developed Start Menu until Threshold. Threshold is the next “major” release of Windows which will be released in April 2015.

It is unclear if the postponement is because the feature won’t be fully baked in time, or if there’s another reason for the change in plans.

Vole is still trying to make Windows 8 work if people have computers rather than tablets. At the moment most people just ignore Metro and its clunky apps and stay on their desktops.

Foley said that the new Microsoft-developed Start Menu isn’t going to be the same as the Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7 Start Menus. It will apparently integrate Windows 8’s Metro-Style Start screen concept, which Microsoft is stubbornly holding onto.

With no start menu appearing in August, the question is what is going to be in Windows 8.1 Update 2?

So far Microsoft has not revealed if there is going to be any user-interface changes or will it be more a vehicle for under-the-covers programming interface and reliability improvements. 

One in ten smartphones runs Windows

Microsoft’s deals with Nokia are starting to make slow but noticeable progress, with more than ten percent of smartphones in the EU running on Windows.

According to market analysts Kantar WorldPanel, Android still remains the number one system in most countries, but Windows Phone is gaining fast.

In the UK it now accounts for 11.4 percent of the market, up 7.2 percent compared with the same period last year and easily overpowering BlackBerry which has a dismal 3.1 percent of the market to take third place.

Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said that the gradual global growth of Windows Phone stems partly from the historical popularity of budget Nokias with users.

In Latin America, no one actually wants expensive smartphones and they are happy to own Nokia-built feature phones.

However, this means that Microsoft really did buy itself a foot in the door in the mobile market by getting Nokia, if it does not make the same mistake and try to push its phones into the high margin multiple feature smartphones peddled by the likes of Apple.

But there are risks that while Microsoft might get its way into the cheap and cheerful market, it is not the part of the industry where great profits are made. Unless, that is that Microsoft can work out a way of linking cheap smartphones with the rest of the Microsoft hardware it has in its stable. 

Microsoft goes all out to push upgrade

Software king of the world, Microsoft is going out of its way to convince the world+dog that it is much better to upgrade to Windows 8.1.

A statement which has crossed our desk implies that while users might not actually like Windows 8.1 they are better off upgrading to it because it has much better security.

Even those who do not like Windows 8 should consider it for its superior security as opposed to older Microsoft operating systems, if nothing else, the company tells us.

As you might expect the latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, seems to be targeted at Windows XP users which Vole is preparing to abandon.

Windows XP users are six times more likely to become infected than machines running Windows 8, the report says. The raw numbers are that 9.1 Windows XP machines need to be cleaned per 1000 versus 1.6 Windows 8 machines. In addition, Windows XP machines also encounter more malware than Windows 8 machines, with 16.3 percent of XP machines encountering it vs 12.4 percent of Windows 8 machines, the report says.

Windows XP machines also encounter more malware than Windows 8 machines, with 16.3 percent of XP machines encountering it vs 12.4 percent of Windows 8 machines, the report says.

However the report also attacks Windows 7 which is widely seen as a better alternative to XP and Windows 8.

Windows 7 computers have the highest encounter rate with malware with 19.1 percent and Windows 7 machines are more than three times more likely (5.5 per 1000) to become infected than Windows 8 machines.

It looks like Microsoft is attempting to convince the world that the main reason to upgrade to Windows 8.1 is security, part of which is supplied by Windows Defender anti-virus. What appears to be the problem is that many users of older operating systems do not use Defender or any third-party AV software. 

Intel hopes for a netbook zombie apocalypse

Five years ago the market was abuzz with talk of cheap netbooks based on Intel’s Atom processors and AMD’s upcoming low-end APUs. Then Steve Jobs took to the stage with the first iPad in tow and the rest is history – netbooks died out faster than any PC form factor in recent history.

However, the basic concept never really went away. Although Intel lost interest in doing cheap netbooks and ultraportables (if it ever had any interest to begin with), AMD stepped up with a couple of cheap APUs. Intel netbooks were killed off, but slightly bigger 11.6-designs are still around, based on AMD and Intel silicon. Google also joined the fun with Chromebooks and they are taking off slowly. 

Netbooks weren’t a bad idea, but neither Intel nor Microsoft seemed too interested in actually coming up with good platforms. There were too many hardware limitations and netbooks never offered anything really new or revolutionary – they were just small, underpowered notebooks. 

Now we’re seeing an interesting trend. Redmond botched the Windows RT rollout and Windows 8 never caught on as a tablet OS. Intel on the other hand is rolling out new Bay Trail chips, with a lot more muscle than Atoms of yesteryear, but with much higher efficiency. Intel is now talking up 2-in-1 designs and other form factors that practically look like the natural extension of netbook evolution.

Asus recently launched a Windows 8.1 tablet with a keyboard dock for just $349. It’s the first such machine – a Windows 8.1 tablet on the cheap, with a proper keyboard to boot, but it’s by no means the last one. New designs from big PC players are on the way and they are bound to be cheap. Several companies have already rolled out 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablets and $299 seems to be the sweet spot, so these hybrid designs should end up priced anywhere from $349 to $449 – cheaper than an iPad, but more expensive than cheap Android tablets. 

Chromebooks are an interesting development, too. Although they lack the x86 legacy appeal of cheap Bay Trail gear, they appear to be selling quite well. Acer, HP and Samsung already have a few designs each and they are going for $249 to $399 – somewhat cheaper than what a full size Bay Trail tablet should cost. Lenovo recently launched the IdeaPad 10, a cheap Android netbook, although we’re not sure it has much mainstream appeal. Gateway launched a 10.1-inch Windows 8 netbook for $329 and the new Asus F102 is also a 10-inch netbook with a €299 price tag, with an AMD APU running the show.

So what’s going on here? 

Well, touchscreens are dirt cheap and so are 10-inch panels, yet Windows 8.1 is becoming a viable OS for cheap ultraportables and tablets, thanks to Intel’s Bay Trail and AMD Jaguar parts. Although netbooks are dead, quasi-netbooks are starting to make sense again, especially for players who did not roll out Chromebooks of their own. Convertible tablets like the Asus T100TA seem to offer the best of both worlds – an ultraportable Windows 8.1 notebook that’s also a tablet on the cheap. It all makes us wonder what would have been had Intel and Microsoft taken netbooks seriously five years ago.

Windows 8.1 ate my mouse

Software king of the world Microsoft has warned that the new version of Windows has three problems which could spoil a gamer’s afternoon.

There have been complaints of mouse problems after applying the Windows 8.1 update, including that cardinal sin of video games, a lag in picture speed.

Vole says that it is actively investigating the problems and working on a patch, although there is no idea how long it will take for the problem to be fixed.

On a Volish community forum, a Microsoft forum moderator posted that the problem was a little more complex than it first appeared.

The ‘mouse lag’ problem is actually several different things that could vary based on the game, and input methods used. He listed a few workarounds that have been found to help some of these problems.

The first is a bad case of jittering mouse –the mouse jitters as you move it through a game. Microsoft thinks that this because Windows 8.1 handles the games’ checks “for the mouse status differently.”

Then there is the small matter of mouse movement not being to scale even after acceleration is turned off,

Lastly the measured mouse polling rate has a lower reporting frequency than expected. This is probably because of dissatisfaction with both the main parties and a lack of a viable alternative.

Microsoft suggests disabling DPI scaling at least until it can come up with a fix. 

Microsoft releases Windows 8.1

Software giant Microsoft said it has now made Windows 8.1 available to download.

It showed off the upgrade to Windows 8 at Computex earlier this year, following widespread lack of enthusiasm at the “innovations” the operating system made.

It has restored the Smart button to the opening screen, has better apps and services, and a redesigned Windows Store.

The free update to owners of Windows 8 can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store now.  It is also making the upgrade available on new devices and boxed software.

Microsoft 8.1 will be available 17 October

Microsoft’s Windows 8 update, Windows 8.1, will roll out in the UK 12PM on the 17th October as a free update for anyone already on the Windows 8 OS, and 4am 17 October in the USA.

The update will be available through the Windows Store for existing customers and will also be available at retail and new devices 18 October.

It’ll feature an updated Windows Store and cloud connectivity with the soon-to-be-renamed SkyDrive. The Preview is already available for a quick look here.

Senior marketing comms manager at Microsoft, Brandon LeBlanc, said on the Windows blog that customers will appreciate increased personalisation, IE11, some built in apps “including a few new ones” like Bing Food & Drink.

Customers may not be looking forward to Bing-powered search, which reportedly sends searches on your desktop online to Microsoft servers.

But LeBlanc would not offer any further information in the comments about upcoming apps beyond what was talked about at the Build conference, such as the native Facebook and Foursquare apps. 

Windows 8.1 to feature native 3D printer support

It seems Microsoft is getting a bit desperate. The company has announced that one of the big new features in Windows 8.1 will be native support for 3D printers.

The OS update will feature device-specific APIs for 3D printers, which means that sooner or later 3D printing will work out of the box, with any Windows 8.1 box and a commercially available 3D printer. It will no doubt come as a shot in the arm for the 3D printing industry, which has a lot of potential as it is.

However, 3D printing is not mainstream yet and it won’t be for years to come. 3D printers will remain prohibitively expensive and most people just won’t need one. Microsoft wants to tell the world that it still has foresight and that its products will be future-proof, which is always a good thing.

Microsoft sees 3D printing as a huge opportunity – and it should. However, in the short term native 3D printer support doesn’t really mean much, since Windows 8.x will be eclipsed by a new OS well before we see 3D printers in average homes and offices. Microsoft claims 70 percent of 3D printing is done on the Windows platform already, so it views the decision to integrate native support as strategically prudent.

Although the OS and PC might be ready for 3D printing, 3D printers themselves still have a long way to go. The cheapest units still cost well over $1,000 and they are rather limited. For serious work, users have to dish out a lot more and go for pricier models.

Shine goes off Wintel tablets

It seems the novelty of tablets is dying fast with Acer predicting that the market will be flat.

Acer Chairman J.T. Wang told Reuters  that he expects notebook and tablet PC shipment to be flat in the second quarter from the first quarter.

Previously he had thought that there would be up to five percent growth in April.

This was a slap on the nose with a rolled up newspaper for Acer which, a month ago, was talking up the market.

Wang was saying that he expected up to 80 percent of Acer’s products to have touch screen technology by next year or the year after.

He is hoping new tablets and touch-notebook computers will revive sales in a PC market where quarterly shipments are at their lowest in nearly four years.

Wang added that sales were 19 percent lower in the first five months than in the same period a year ago.