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All posts tagged Touch

Windows 8.1 Is A Great Operating System…

… and getting the best out of WIndows 8.1 is by no means rocket science, but it helps to have some direction.

As mentioned in a prior post on rules for selecting a new PC make your life easier and select a laptop that comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1 (or have the store you buy from do the upgrade for you). Why?

  • Windows 8.1 is a vast improvement on Windows 8 across the board.
  • A pre-installed Windows 8.1 PC is likely to be built with newer hardware and drivers that work with Windows 8.1 too.
  • Whilst I advocate embracing Windows Update this is one use case where less is better than more.

Touch: I’ve been getting touchy-feely with Windows 8.1 since I upgraded my Dell Inspiron (when it up and died on me) to the Asus touch enabled laptop I have now. I have scarcely touched a mouse since. In fact, my biggest problem is the laughter that ensues every time the Missus asks me to resolve a problem on her Windows 7 laptop, as she watches me poking the screen for a few seconds befuddled at its lack of response. Touch is habit forming in a good way.Windows 8.1 Smart Art Chart

A Couple of Free Tips Too..

A couple of tips that will make your life with Windows 8.1 much easier.

  1. Don’t ignore the New Windows Apps or Desktop. Keep in mind these might be lighter on the functionality but they are also less resource hungry which allows for even greater multitasking.
  2. Windows 8.1 Start Menu: one of your best friends is [Windows Key]+[X] or touch and long press on the Windows icon (bottom left on the System bar).
  3. Search for ANYTHING, yes that’s right anything: the easiest way to start an app / software or find anything else on your PC ranging from files or settings is to go to the New Windows Desktop and just type. Windows will detect your typing and open Search from the Charms Bar. (Alternatively you can swipe in from the right side of the screen to access the Charms bar.)

 

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The Warptest POV

Windows 8 has not been without its hiccups but Windows 8.1 is a productivity OS extraordinaire once you get to grips with it. This isn’t going to take long at all with a positive attitude, an open mind and tips like those here.

So far most of the naysayers I’ve experienced have limited if any time hands on with Windows 8.1 so kick their opinions to the curb and try it for yourself. I’m confident that you won’t be disappointed.

If you have any tips for Windows 8.1 feel free to share them in the comments and I’ll write a follow up crediting you your tips of course.

 

Buying A New Windows Laptop Is An Investment…

…the idea is this will be your engine of mobile productivity for the next 3 plus years. So you want to make all the right decisions and invest wisely.

This is one of the big three questions that techies continually get asked: –

Windows Laptop - Techie Questions

Buying A New Laptop

Let’s start by asking ourselves, do we need a laptop?

This really feeds into rule 1: what are you going to use your computer to do?

  • Your use cases will define the form factor of the computer you choose. Filter from here.
  • If the answer is work from home only then why not look at a desktop. These are still more robust and allow for hardware upgrades easier than a laptop.
  • If you are only interested in email, some documentation, web surfing, video conferencing on the go then a tablet or tablet / laptop hybrid night be for you.
  • If you are mobile then screen-size, weight and battery life are all issues for you.
  • If you work with graphics intensive applications e.g. video post processing then you will probably want a computer with GPU (graphics card).
  • If you are mobile but perform keyboard intensive work then you need to find a laptop with a keyboard that works for you.

These feed into rule 2: try to go hands on with whatever you want to buy.

  • UX and how the keyboard feels or the screen looks is subjective.
  • Go to a store that allows you to try different models without too much of a hard sell.
  • Keep in mind what your uses cases are for the computer and if need be ask a salesperson to let you see a movie or go to your most used web app.

Rule 3: Only consider Windows 8.1 not Windows 8.

  • Windows 8 is great but why force yourself to do more Windows Updates than you have to?
  • Windows 8.1 was the last major update for Windows (akin to a Service Pack) and it carried with it vast improvements.
  • When you buy a Windows 8.1 computer you are insuring that not only is the OS in a newer state but also the hardware is at least as new as the OS.
  • There will still be Updates but these will be hotfixes and security patches and it should be a relatively speedy process (when I unboxed my new Windows 8 laptop, it took over 200 updates to get me to Windows 8.1 and the process was not seamless).

Rule 4: Touch.

  • The touch vs non-touch debate deserves a post all of its own (a work in progress, stay tuned) but suffice it to say that touch enabled Windows 8.1 will rock your world.
  • If you don’t go for touch then this is the next best reason to opt for Windows 8.1 as the improvements for mouse / keyboard oriented work are seriously good.
  • Since getting my touch enabled laptop, I have not needed to use a mouse once.
    I let my fingers do the working…
Windows 8.1 Touch: Let your fingers do the working

Windows 8.1 Touch: Let your fingers do the wOrking (thanks to Yellow Pages)

The Warptest POV

At the end of the day the rules above are a tried and tested guide for making objective choices. Choices that don’t factor in brand loyalty or prejudice, online reviews or the experience of your friends. All of these are valid factors but involve subjective evaluation.

The bottom line is actually the bottom line, start with a budget and work from there and keep in mind you are investing in your productivity.

If you have anything to add or a question then hit the comments and I’ll be certain to reply.

New Windows 8 UI Desktop

Earlier this week I read in a good friend’s Twitter Feed a link to Jakob Nielsen’s Article, “Windows 8 — Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users”.

I followed the link and was a little surprised by the look and feel of the site, shades of Windows 95 by the look of it. Still I persevered, I was curious to read this.

Screengrab of Jakob Nielsen’s Website on Usability and Design

As I read Nielsen’s review I had to ask myself, had we been given the same OS?

I could turn this into a point by point discourse on where I disagree but the problem here is more fundamental, more pervasive.

My Product Testing Team..

I don’t formally have a team or direct access to Windows 8 / RT touch devices but I was witness to the scores of users who were at Microsoft Discovery 2012 in Tel Aviv.

Admittedly many were in the business of IT and many were there because it was Microsoft; some were even vendors but the crowd of users able to go hands on with the slew of touch devices seemed happy, if not enthralled by the UI, functionality and general look and feel of the devices. I have had some short time hands on with the Surface and came away wishing for more.

Of all the people I viewed there were no frustrated or confused faces. Everyone just got on with it and seemed to be having fun with Windows 8 and RT.

The other segment of my Product testing team are my 2 year old daughter and my 7 year old son who have had a chance to use my no-touch upgraded Windows 8 laptop.

In a nutshell, no problems there. They were incredibly curious about everything, love the colors, adore the lock screen and are fascinated by the Live Tiles. So am I saying that Windows 8 is the OS for small children? No!

Microsoft has dared to boldly go…

Not where no man has gone before however, with Windows 8 they have attempted to rekindle a dormant desire to explore and discover.

Star Trek Into via Youtube.com

There has been a suspension of imagination on the part of computer and tablet users. Anything but the most familiar look and feel are greeted with scorn, derision and disinterest; and this isn’t just consumers. Some of this may be directly attributable to the knee jerk content we are being fed about Microsoft from tech blogs and journalists.

The Windows 8 ecosystem has dared to innovate and encourage users to explore and think a little. Is Windows 8 counterintuitive? Not one bit.

Are hidden features like the Charms bar frustrating and inaccessible to the average user? Only if their ability to slide the mouse/ their finger to the corners of the screen is frozen somewhere in the lower recesses of their medulla oblongata.

Do you even remember the pleasure of finding a really neat feature you hadn’t previously been familiar with when using your computer? There a very little in the way of obstacles to productivity in Windows 8.

As to the accusations of a “two-headed desktop” I dare you, go ahead and open Metro (yeah I’m going to keep calling them that) Apps and Desktop Apps then use the <gasp> ALT-TAB buttons. Sorry Mr Nielsen but for most of what you wrote I’m going to have to disagree.

To sum up, Microsoft has nudged us out of our complacency and dared us to done our virtual safari jackets and pith helmets. Windows 8 is worthy of you.

Image courtesy of Office.com clipart

I will offer two pieces of advice for anyone planning to make the jump to Windows 8: –

  • Go see it at a store or on a friend’s computer. Try it yourself and see if you can wrap your head around the differences but don’t fear the change.
  • Live Tile overload: you don’t need to leave every single Live Tile flashing and blinking at you;

Simpsons in Japan via Youtube.com

 

Windows 8 comes preinstalled with a lot of great Apps on the Metro desktop; right-click those you don’t want and from the bottom menu unpin them. If you do want them all then you can simply rearrange their placing so some of the more active Tiles are off-screen.

I’m going to give Windows 8 a buy recommendation for upgrade on non-touch and a strong buy recommendation if you are buying a new touch tablet/ laptop/ hybrid.

The revolution is here, are you ready to explore its potential?