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All posts tagged Windows 8

Is Windows XP Turning Into the Zombie OS That Won’t Die?

I am still hearing about companies and home users resistant to upgrading their PCs from Windows XP.

After talking to some Die Hard XP users this is what I came up with: –

Windows XP - fears

So for those of you who feel this way about Windows XP and haven’t spoken to me on or offline about this I felt I should address these issues.

What’s The Answer?

Let’s look at Windows Update again. I recently posted about the necessity of keeping your Operating System updated; in a nutshell, if your home locks or alarm wasn’t working you would update it too. Windows Update patches holes in your OS security. Is this enough security? No. You need to compliment this with robust anti-malware and a firewall combined with keeping your 3rd Party Applications up-to-date too.

Most users are happy to go with the default Windows Defender and Firewall but there are alternatives (another post for another time). As for your 3rd Party Apps look to Soluto or Filehippo.

The discomfort of learning a new OS. For those of you dead-set against Windows 8 I have two things to tell you: (1) You are wrong not to consider it but, if you really cannot get past your fears then (2) Windows 7 will make you say, “How have I been missing this? Windows 7 is like XP on steroids.” The learning curve for Windows 7 from XP is so shallow it’s almost nonexistent and the learning curve to Windows 8.1 is only slightly steeper.

Budget. Windows 8.x will install on most hardware still in use and you can check this using the Upgrade Assistant. I have a Desktop PC from 2004 that is capable of the upgrade. So in many cases all you need to do is spring for the Upgrade from Vista or XP.

FUD & Trolls: the irony is that the nonsense we read and hear about Windows 8 is regurgitation of the same nonsense we heard about the very OS you are stuck on, XP. Windows 8.1 fixes many of the issues that consumers disliked including a right-click Start Menu, greater mouse / keyboard support for non-touch PC’s and the option of booting to the old style Windows Desktop. Basically, ignore the trolls and head to the nearest PC store to try out Windows 8.1 for yourself. Preferably where knowledgeable techs can walk you through it and show you what it can do.

Overload: if doing the upgrade and migrating your data either to cloud storage or to an external Hard Drive is intimidating then you probably aren’t keeping a backup of your data. Not having a backup is akin to juggling chainsaws, it’s time to get this done whether you are upgrading your PC or not. If you can’t do it yourself then outsource it… now.

The Warptest POV

I’m not going to kid you, upgrading to a new OS or PC is a project but it’s a palatable one that brings a lot of benefits with it. Most likely you aren’t being as productive as you could be with your old PC, but you could be.

Important issues:

  • Run the Windows Upgrade Assistant with all your peripherals / hardware connected to ensure it all passes compliance testing. Some hardware may not have drivers for Windows 8.1 and then it will need upgrading. If your hardware doesn’t pass then do contact the company with the model number of the printer/scanner/ whatever and check with them before spending the money.
  • Make sure you have all your software install disks and licenses for any software you want to install after you have your new OS up and running.

Windows XP - reaper

To those of you still stuck on Windows XP ask yourself, are you really prepared to have all your work and data on a platform that will never be secure again? It’s time to accept that Windows XP has reached the end and you don’t need to Fear the Reaper.

So, embrace the idea of upgrading with both hands and you’ll almost certainly upgrade your productivity along with it.

At First Glance Windows 8 And Google+? What?!??

… however, after reading the responses online to Vic Gundotra’s announcement that he is leaving Google I ended up thinking about this over an espresso.

Vic Gundotra - Google+

Gundotra’s announcement led to a feeding frenzy of speculation (again) from all the “Usual Suspects” in the blogosphere that this was the end for Google+.

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So after finishing my espresso I came up with this list: –

  1. Both are seemingly misunderstood or misrepresented by elements of the blogosphere. Google+ is no ghost town and Windows 8 is no failure. In a nutshell both are nonsense.
  2. Both require refactored branding / marketing to match user expectations.
  3. Both have displayed receptiveness to constructive user input: Windows 8 demonstrated this with the latest update and Vic Gundotra is incredibly forthright and engaging when approached in Google+ both as an individual and clearly a brand ambassador.
  4. Both have penetrated saturated markets: Windows 8’s greatest fight is for the hearts and minds of satisfied Windows 7 users and Google+ contends daily with Facebook and Twitter.
  5. Both require new users to shed existing preconceptions and accept there is a learning curve (albeit a rapid one) to getting the most out of them.

Productivity and Collaboration?

The Windows changes are clearly to refine consumer understanding of the vast capabilities across different devices of the OS. Google+ is an incredible place for social but has the enormous potential for collaboration and productivity which seem under explored.

Google+ for business has a strong customer discovery / engagement orientation and from within Google Drive you can share documents to Google+ but where is the Google+ feature to collaborate on documents / spreadsheets / presentations in your feed or in real-time in a Hangout? (This is about the only feature request I would make other than an official Windows Phone app).

Google+ Business

Microsoft understand the vast social element of Office365 with their new Project OSLO and Office Graph and Killer App Zula clearly gets the idea of mobile oriented collaboration.

The Warptest POV

I’m a happy user of both Google+ and Windows 8 and I know I have more to learn about both of them. Both have enormous potential.

Should Microsoft and Google be continually reevaluating the UX, ensuring the features deliver the maximum to users? Yes. Do they need to refine the marketing being done to increase consumer understanding of use cases and reasons for adopting these? For sure.

One more thing that Windows 8 and Google+ have in common? If you aren’t using them, you should be (and if you need help to get started then get in touch).

Microsoft and AOL Just Announced Their Deal …

Teaming up to offer AOL’s premium video content through various Microsoft channels.

The AOL post mentions MSN, Bing Apps for Windows and Windows Phone but also goes into detail about the dazzling array of content from sites under the AOL banner like:

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AOL On has a staggering 900000 videos across 15 channels and are announcing new original series this week. All of this adds up to a substantial boost for Microsoft in terms of entertainment and informational content.

I Had Speculated …

In a post unpublished last month that Microsoft might be well served by partnering with Vimeo or Yahoo Videos but since Yahoo are reinventing themselves as a competitor for Bing there was no apparent logic to Marissa Meyer agreeing to this kind of deal.

In the end I let the post sit in drafts and as it percolated this news broke changing the whole picture.

The Warptest POV

Microsoft have been lacking original video content and a sound means to compete with YouTube. This has caused all kinds of problems with Windows Phone and the failure to resolve differences with Google over the jointly created YouTube App.

This is a win-win deal for AOL and Microsoft and whilst AOL already has iOS and Android apps, how long will it take for us to see the equivalent Windows Apps? More importantly will this be one of the first big-league apps to be built as a universal app?

Windows 8 Ecosystem Universal Apps - Microsoft

Windows 8 Ecosystem Universal Apps

So video content consumption just got a lot better in the Windows 8 ecosystem. Is this the first of such content distribution deals and if so will device company, Microsoft explore a competitor to Chromecast too?

Chromecast - Microsoft

Will we see a Microsoft competitor?

Time will tell if Google should have just worked with Microsoft and released the YouTube app and not (de facto) created this partnership.

I’m looking forward to using these new AOL apps when they arrive. How about you?

Microsoft BUILD Kicked Off Yesterday

… and the opening keynote was huge in terms of content and impact.

Joe Belfiore, Satya Nadella and a cast of others delivered an engaging, high octane presentation with a grab-bag of goodies about the Windows ecosystem.

Where To Begin?

I managed to catch most of the colossal keynote and sat scribbling notes as I went in my Moleskine notebook (I’m old school that way, don’t judge me).

I decided after reading some of my earlier posts and conversing via Twitter with the awesome @LiorYe to keep things in the context of the Windows ecosystem.

BUILD 2014 - Windows 8 Ecosystem

Outline of major feature updates announced in the Windows Ecosystem.

Explanations

The major points of interest and impact are: –

  • Universal Apps: can I finally say well done Microsoft? One app works on any device and will display responsively.
  • Windows Phone 8.1: each of the features here deserve a post in their own right but the highlights are: –
    • Cortana:
      as expected we had Cortana introduce herself (albeit not at MWC). The electronic Personal Assistant can speak, recognize speech, scan your email and proactively respond to events e.g. tracking a flight whose itinerary is in a mail. Joe Belfiore displayed a slew of features and tasks ranging from Live Tiled App, replacing Bing behind the search button, access to 3rd party data feeds (e.g. Yelp) interaction and activation of Apps, and more. Everything that adds incredible value to the Windows Phone by having an intelligent, learning “AI” aboard.
    • Windows Phone Enterprise we were presented with a narrow selection of power features taking Windows Phone into the Enterprise with VPN, S-Mime encrypted email options and MDM control for BYOD where enrolled device policies/apps/settings are defined by a group policy until the phone owner opts out.
    • Start screen customization  both the width of Live Tiles and the Start Screen background will allow for greater personalization.
    • Action Center slide down to access the new Action Center.
    • Shape Writing: akin to Swype on Android this is a faster, more efficient way to interact with the phone.
    • New Devices: Steven Elop announced 3 new phones the Lumia 930 (a beautifully designed, flagship Windows Phone 8.1 handset with a large HD display), the Lumia 630 / 635 (respectively 3G & 4G/LTE Dual SIM phones at a budget price-point). In addition these new phones will support 2 new SDKs: Imaging SDK v2.0 and Sensorcore, a feature to measure motion.

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  • Windows 8.1.x: the update for Windows 8.1 is touted as bringing enhancements for mouse and keyboard users: –
    • In fact the thrust of the update indicates a convergence of Modern Windows UI (Desktop and Apps) with Classic Desktop. By allowing Modern UI Apps to interact with the Windows taskbar and giving these apps the familiar close X button much of the trolling against Windows 8 has been made redundant.
    • Device Responsive Boot: preset defaults for boot based on device type e.g. Desktop PC boots to Classic Desktop and Tablet to Modern Windows Desktop.
    • Combine these with the return of the Windows Start Menu and Windows 8.1.x is upping its usability game once again in response to consumer issues with the OS.

The Warptest POV

Obviously we can expect new development tools to support these features but if everyone at BUILD went home today there would still be a gargantuan amount of information to digest.

As I have stated in several past posts the Windows 8 ecosystem is a revolution and it’s time for the trolls and h8ters to step aside and let the consumers decide if this delivers. IMHO many of the improvements to Windows 8.1.x are winners and Windows Phone has a glorious year ahead with 9 new OEMs, Cortana, Enterprise and new Lumia devices too.

For my money, the biggest news was Universal Apps that will run cross-device from one store purchase. This may well be the holy grail of the Windows Ecosystem.

I’m excited to get these updates and try them for myself and I’m looking forward to lengthy interaction with Cortana.

Well played Microsoft for putting the WIN back in Windows.

The Greatest Unappreciated Strength of Windows 8

…Are the Metro New Windows UI Apps. Like genius they seem to be unappreciated in their lifetime.

Most people seem to be content to boot Windows 8 to old-school desktop and may never intentionally look at the New Desktop and Apps.

Windows 8 - Metro Desktop

In my last Windows 8 post I suggested that the 1 Critical Thing Wrong With Windows 8 was the act of treating consumers as square pegs to be hammered into round UX holes.

Facebook’s New UI

As Facebook introduces their new UI the sentiment seems to be one of wholehearted dislike for the slew of UI bugs larded into the browser:

Windows 8 - Facebook Bugs

Facebook as we know it today: Sample of UI bugs and comments added.

It occurred to me after using the new Facebook UI that it bothered me and inhibited my use. I found myself using the mobile app more and my laptop browser less.

Then I was in the Windows 8 New Desktop and I was spending the day almost exclusively using these Apps. I opened the Facebook Metro App and was greeted with a feeling of relief and contentment by the unblemished beauty and simplicity that greeted me:

Windows 8 - New Windows UI App

  • Toggle to hide sidebar menu
  • Large photos
  • A wide, unencumbered feed
  • Friend requests, Messages and Notifications all drop down below the toggle button on the left.

For those of you married to the idea of a right hand, subsidiary feed and your friends’ online statuses you are going to be disappointed but the miscomprehension of most users is that these Apps are intended to mirror desktop or browser apps. They aren’t.

New Windows UI is to App Design and functionality what the Danish Modern movement was to furniture.

The Warptest POV

It’s time for users who are struggling with the new Facebook UI to realize that they have an alternative in these Apps.

Facebook may have just given Windows 8 its biggest push, at least until we see what Microsoft has in store for us in the next release of Windows 8.x (expect big announcements from Microsoft BUILD this week).

So if this matches how you are feeling towards Facebook right now then you might want to ask a friend with Windows 8 if you can try this for yourself.

Even without touch your inner calm will be restored.

So take it for a spin and let me know what you think.

Windows 8 Can’t Seem To Please Some People…

…Or at least the blogosphere would have you believe this. Did Microsoft try too hard to please everyone and end up pleasing no-one?

Was this really the issue? Or are we still in the midst of a major evolution of the Personal Computer?

Evolution of the PC

The question of what actually constitutes a PC is a challenging and evolving one.

There are a plethora of devices, platforms and factors to examine: –

Windows 8 - comparison

Portability, BYOD, virtualization and remote access are just a slew of other requirements and factors changing how our work / productivity and personal computing devices are being reimagined.

Somewhere in this mix landed Windows 8 with the incredible Metro UI and apps, Live Tiles, touch oriented UX and a farewell (at least temporarily) to the Start button.

The Warptest POV

The 1 critical thing wrong with Windows 8 was not the missing Start Button or any singular feature; it was the act of treating consumers as square pegs to be hammered into round UX holes.

Windows 8 - square pegs

Do I believe Windows 8.x is a failure? No I do not and Windows 8.1 demonstrated that Microsoft was willing to listen to consumers. Already Windows 8.1 allows users to choose whether they boot to classic or Metro desktop and we have the new Start Button.

But what could have been? Windows 8 could and should have been designed around one simple concept: responsive design.

Websites that respond to the devices they are viewed on and adjust accordingly to suit the device.

Surely an Operating System made for Desktops, Laptops, hybrid Laptop-Tablets and Tablets should be capable of offering the user a similar experience?

With the expected release of Cortana for Windows Phone next month one has to ask, why no Cortana for Windows 8.x too? An intelligent, responsive, interactive guide shaping our User Experience could only have helped.

Cortana - Windows 8

Cortana

Users could choose the defaults based on device or allow Cortana to guide them to optimal UX for their use case. In a nutshell, the true responsiveness of responsive design in this case would be to consumer needs.

With the expected improvements in Windows 8.2 (or whatever it will be called) one hopes the first post-Sinovsky era Windows update will reflect an increased responsiveness to user needs.

I’m looking forward to this update, how about you?

Bing Announced A New Logo Today…

… Amongst other things. The logo is part of an overall evolution of the brand. You can read what Microsoft had to say about the logo redesign here.

Ubiquitous… Almost

… Bing like many other Microsoft products catches a lot of flak and I’m going to say it. It’s unjust and mostly the usual Microsoft trolls. Bing right now is the go-to search / discovery enabler for Yahoo and Siri. Yes that’s right, pick your jaw up from the ground, Siri has made Bing its default search engine.

Understandably with Microsoft’s investment in Facebook there was a strong connection between Bing and Facebook also.

You Are Missing The Point

Bing has never been about being just a search engine. It is an enabling technology for discovery. Search provides results but discovery
delivers relevant and useful content.

Bing is an organic part of Windows Phone including voice and visual translation; has Apps for iOS and Android , Bing is used in Windows 8 / Windows Phone Apps and in a variety of Apps for Bing Maps: –

In addition the Bing API allows developers to build their own solutions integrating the service. The service is transitioning to the Windows Azure Marketplace.

Those who believe the announcement today is simply a new look and logo are very much mistaken.

The Warptest POV

It’s plain if you take the time to look that Bing is going to deliver contextually relevant, useful and usable content off the web. A lot of thought has gone into how to deliver this content in an incredible UX.

One of the examples given in the official Bing blog post is results about people. Bing already incorporated Social content (access to the person’s Facebook or Twitter feed and Klout score) but now the content delivered is a holistic/aggregated profile and not just a series of links with images/videos slapped in a sidebar.

The New Bing People Search via Bing blog.

Bing promises more evolution with news of development of a cross-device AI/Avatar named for HALO AI, Cortana according to Mary Jo Foley on ZDNet this week.

If this is true then firstly I am glad someone at Microsoft reads my blog.

I discussed this concept in October 2011 “An Ode to Ms Dewey…” where I suggest Ms Dewey (a marketing simulation for Live Search) become a Search enabled Personal Assistant App.

Whether we get to see Cortana soon or not, the new evolution of Bing delivers on an incredible search/discovery experience.

Will you be taking it for a spin?

microsoft surface

Surface is out there RT and Pro

Microsoft has a beautifully designed product line and right now, after going hands-on at Microsoft’s Build 2012 event, only Asus has tempted me with their Windows 8 touch enabled alternatives. In fact I defy you to go hands-on with the Surface and not be impressed by the look and feel from materials to UX.

Even so I haven’t made the leap and bought a Surface yet. If I was going to buy one of the existing alternatives it would have to be the Surface Pro and I’m a sucker for larger hard drives but I’m hesitating and not just because of budgetary concerns.

microsoft surface

What Am I Waiting For?

The truth is my 14″ Dell Laptop is still working and as important as it is to me to actively use new technology like touch enabled Windows tablets or laptops I can get a quick fix for now at the local computer stores.

The real reason though is that I (like many others) am speculating that it’s worth the wait to see newer and smaller Windows 8 Pro Tablets arrive on the scene. Even Acer whose CEO, JT Wang ripped into Microsoft last August over Windows 8 and Surface is fully onboard with smaller Windows Tablets. Earlier this month Amazon accidentally leaked an out of stock Acer Iconia W3 8.1 inch Windows Tablet.

acer iconia w3

The expectation is that a slew of 7 to 10 inch Windows Tablets are coming later this year.

What Is It Good For?

In a nutshell ask anyone with a pocket tablet like the iPad Mini or a Nexus. Which brings us to an important question, which mini Tablet would I choose?

The Warptest POV

I’m expecting (and I have no hard evidence to support this) to see amongst these a mini Surface Tablet and that would be my choice. The question though is will it be a pure Tablet or a Phablet? More important, if there is a mini Surface Phablet which flavor of Windows will it run?

Can we expect a full blown Windows 8 Pro Phab with phone functionality built in? I asked Microsoft if there was phone functionality coded into Windows 8 Pro or RT via Twitter but didn’t get an answer yet.

Perhaps the only conceivable alternative for me would be if Asus made a version of their Padphone with Windows onboard.

Asus padphone

Regardless of which of these we get to see I’m hoping the boffins at Redmond work hard to find competitive prices for these devices.

What do you think?

Die Hard 2

In My Last Die Hard post…

I talked about Microsoft’s efforts to put the seemingly Unkillable Internet Explorer 6 out to pasture.

As hard to kill as IE6 has been, the combination of Windows XP and Office 2003 have defied every attempt of Microsoft to kill it: again even John McLane isn’t this durable.

Die Hard 2

With thanks to IMDB

Our Sequel…

Windows XP may well be the most popular OS in the world still holding 40% market share on computers worldwide which is ironic because when I read many of the blogs (professional or otherwise) panning Windows 8 it reminds me of early sentiment for XP before SP2.

That aside, what does it mean when we say Microsoft are trying to kill it?

First off if you are running a Windows XP PC at home or at work it is not going to stop working.

What it does mean for both Windows XP and Office 2003 is an end to support from Microsoft.

This means not just technical support for daily issues encountered using them but more importantly no more patches and updates.

Ramifications…

In exactly 363 days from today, 8th April 2014 every single one of these Windows XP / Office 2003 computers will become a ticking security time bomb. The next black hat hacker to find an exploit will do so knowing there will be no Windows Update released to fix it.

Many of these individuals and companies stuck with Windows XP and or Office 2003 for a variety of reasons:-

  • A desire to save the money it will cost them to upgrade.
  • Due to concerns about hardware like printers, scanners or networked storage that may also be obsolete.
  • Due to concerns about legacy software running on XP not working in Windows 8.
  • The fear of having to learn to use Windows 8 / Office 2013 is outside their comfort zone.

But can we expect Microsoft to roll some form of update to Windows Servers / Vista / 7 / 8 to detect and counter these unprotected Windows XP PC’s?

Mockup Warning XP

Please note this dialog box is a speculative mock-up.

Keep Calm and …

The gut reaction at this point is something between a swearing jag at Microsoft and panic at what to do next.

Keep Calm

Microsoft have taken a bold move to sweeten the bitter pill of upgrading hardware, OS and software with various special offers via this webpage.

The Warptest POV

If you are a business and haven’t upgraded since Windows XP or Office 2003 then I’m basically gob-smacked. The math is simple though; let’s say you started a savings plan at your bank on October 25th 2001 (the date XP was released and you last upgraded).

  • October 25th 2001 until April 8th 2014 = 137 months
  • If you saved $5.00 per Windows XP PC being used / month in your bank account then (even without interest)
  • You have $685.00 per PC saved for upgrading to Windows 8 PC’s with Office 2013 / Office 365.

If you weren’t forward thinking about a planned upgrade of your IT infrastructure then you may want to have a rather tough chat with your CIO about all this.

My recommendation is start planning your upgrade now. You have 363 days left to do so. I was involved in the upgrade of 300+ Windows 95 to Windows XP PC’s when I worked at Israel Electric Corporation so if you have concerns feel free to contact me. As to making the leap here are a couple of links to get you started with respect to Windows 8 upgrades (1 and 2) and Office 2013.

In a nutshell, you may not be happy over the cash outlay but once you have made the leap the ROI in terms of security and productivity will leave you scratching your head puzzled why you didn’t do this sooner. Get cracking then!

The New Windows UI

 

Windows 8 is here to stay…

Today I plucked a link out of my Twitter feed to a blog post by Israel Lifshitz, founder of SysAid Technologies about Windows 8.

The post on his blog was titled “Why I’m wishing success to Windows phone and not to Windows OS for PC?

This is a good post worth reading but there are several points I respectfully disagree on.

What’s to disagree with?

I’m going to focus on some of the major points of the post:

  • “Failure of Windows OS for PC will break the monopoly of Microsoft that has been going on for many years.”
  • Monopoly is bad for competition
  • Microsoft has blocked competition in the PC OS Market and stifled innovation.
  • “The monopoly of Microsoft is starting to crack.”

I’m assuming that this post refers to medium to large scale companies with IT infrastructure ranging from desktop to laptop PCs, server backend, databases et cetera. For most of us there has been no Microsoft monopoly at least for ten years but I can agree that for this part of the market Microsoft technology has retained a greater degree of stickiness.

Very soon every Windows PC in the market…

…will arrive preinstalled with Windows 8. Whilst Windows 8 is a radical, revolutionary departure for some users from prior versions of Windows it still falls into their “It’s Windows oh good.” comfort zone.

New Windows 8 UI Desktop

If Windows 8 fails to take off (and I would say with 60 million licenses sold to date we may as well trash the term “fail” here) it will be due to 3 main reasons: –

  1. Microsoft has yet to come up with a constructive way to drive a stake through the heart of Windows XP and encourage companies to upgrade.
  2. Windows 7 was until Windows 8 the best product anyone has ever made in the PC OS market. Companies are reluctant to abandon that stability.
  3. Money: given the economic climate in Europe and the US there is a reluctance to expend valuable funds even to upgrade existing PCs to Windows 8. Keep in mind that some of these companies will discover hardware, peripherals and software that are not Windows 8 compatible in the system analysis phase and will have to refactor budgets to cover this.

What are your viable, productive alternatives?

  • Linux Desktops.
  • Chromebooks
  • Apple’s MAC OS X

Okay, I used the word “viable” a bit easily there. IMHO Chromebooks are just taking off and have yet to build up any momentum. Linux Desktop is usable and there are certainly more than one version to choose from but that is what makes it a fragile alternative. If Linux is Linux then why the <redacted> isn’t the command line syntax not the same for Ubuntu, CentOS, Red Hat? It’s painful and annoying to switch between them and remember the differences.

Apple MAC OS X deserves its own mention. I like it. Yes don’t faint, I do. OS X has been around for a while and let’s be honest, it just works.

That said Apple has more money than some small countries and they still don’t have competitive work and productivity software to Windows. Take Office, yeah I know if you are on a MAC you would rather not; especially if you need to work in right to left languages.

Is this all just a matter of competition?

No. Apple and Google have failed to seize the PC market from Windows.

When you take into account just how much we work in the cloud surely this speaks to a ridiculous failure on their part given things like Google’s Apps productivity suite.

Microsoft has no more been strangling competition than Apple has become an evil empire bent on replacing Microsoft in that role.

(YouTube video courtesy of Microsoft Xbox)

The failure to innovate and produce superior and competitive products to Microsoft’s Windows Desktop OS or Office is just that: their failure.

Why is that? Because the warfare has been in the theater of mobile and yes, in terms of devices Apple is winning and Android is possibly most widespread but as I mentioned in a previous post Microsoft is poised to release Office 365 for Android and iOS.

This is the game changing move.

Microsoft will continue to battle uphill with Windows Phone but with Office 365 running on all the major mobile platforms they will secure ownership of the business IT market for on-device productivity and the common backend.

I have stated on many times in the past just how strongly I favor a market where competition is constructive and the consumer has choice. Is Microsoft inhibiting this? No. Their competitors have chosen to compete over mobile and ceded this market to Microsoft.

Between starting to write this post and finishing I read a post on RWW that cites Forrester’s latest market analysis titled “200 Million Workers Want Windows 8 Tablets, Not iPadsand yes one of the major influences here seems to be BYOD.

So while Windows 8 seems to be a tough nut for some to swallow my advice is make the extra effort, the revolution is here and it presents us all with boundless opportunities. We just have to recognize them not try to wish them away.

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?

 

Steve Ballmer onscreen at Discovery 2012

Microsoft Discovery showed yesterday …

..why the company haven’t lost a step and mojo well it’s not in short supply.

Israel hosted the first outside the US launch event for Windows 8 and related devices with the added bonus of Microsoft Israel’s Thinknext 2012 Special Edition later in the day. Both with guest Steve Ballmer.

As you will see from my previous post, Ballmer played a pivotal role in the launch to a crowd of 5000+ Israeli technologists, entrepreneurs, Start Ups and Vendors. It’s easy to buy into the Trolls on the blogosphere that Microsoft is a down and out company unable to keep up with others in the technology market but the energy level of the crowd here at Microsoft Discovery kills that idea dead!

Hands on Windows 8 Touch Devices

The Event began with a hall full of vendors allowing every attendee to go hands on with their Windows 8 device or Windows 8 Phone. Microsoft managed to pull off an act of serious diplomacy towards their OEM partners by not pulling all the focus onto the Surface RT at least until it was mentioned by Steve Ballmer in his keynote.

My two favorites stands were Asus and HTC. Asus had a variety of tablet / hybrid tablet – laptops but the Taichi was the device I had been skeptical about until I saw and tried it. The Taichi is a laptop with a screen on each side of the top. When I heard about this I discounted it as gimmicky but when the salesperson from Asus demonstrated it by standing opposite and showing me a presentation on screen that I could also work on and not just on the same thing but another document I was blown away.

Asus Taichi dual sided screen

The other Asus winner was the Transformer-like Vivo RT

Transformer Like Asus Vivo

The quality of design and materials of the Asus devices has not faltered in any way. These are sleek, thin but sturdy devices made with attention to detail and the right materials.

HTC was displaying the HTC 8X their powerhouse Windows Phone 8 in a well designed form-factor. I use a Windows Phone 7, the HTC Titan which fits nicely in my large hands but the small changes in design, beveling the back corners of the case made for a more comfortable fit. The screen was a joy with depth of color and sharpness beyond anything I had experienced and given that it was an HTC there was no need to check the sound. IMHO HTC demolishes the competition when it comes to sound quality. If I had to choose right now between this phone or a Lumia, I wouldn’t hesitate.

HTC's flagship Windows Phone the 8x

The phone was fast and responsive and Windows Phone 8 OS is everything it’s meant to be.

The Launch

The event itself was something to behold, here is a photo of some of the crowd waiting for the event to get started

The crowd at Discovery 2012

The best review of the event I have read is from Shar-i.com giving her perspective on the day.

The Warptest perspective

Microsoft Discovery was a well polished, multimedia event clearly produced by professionals who with an initial dance number, an interactive stage display and a series of TV Show like chats between various well put together Microsoft managers and some hands on display of a variety of Windows 8 Devices presented a strong launch with high energy.

The keynote was delivered by Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer. This was my first time seeing him speak live and I cannot describe the passion, energy, humor and winning personality that he brings to the stage.Hearing him talk about the potential for Windows 8 and having tried it myself it’s hard not to see a glowing future for Microsoft.

Several other things stood out: –

  • The presentation of Office 2013. I reviewed it earlier this year and if you haven’t downloaded and tried it then you are missing a treat. This is the ultimate productivity tool.
  • XBox – Xbox 360 is finally and yes, belatedly officially launching in Israel and this was launched with a visit from Master Chief himself on stage with a backdrop trailer for the pending HALO4.

  • The Head of Microsoft Israel gave a presentation that included a tongue-in-cheek video of him and his staff discussing Windows 8 only to be interrupted by Israeli Supermodel Bar Refaeli who had a few pointers and comments vis a vis marketing and features. (sadly this video is not online to share or embed yet).

As you know i have upgraded to Windows 8 and I spoke to several people attending the conference who were happy to discuss with me the hows and whys of upgrading.

Based on what I saw, I’m giving Windows 8 and the various devices a strong buy recommendation.