Microsoft Releases Considerable Windows 8 Update Before General Availability

With roughly two weeks to go until Windows 8 is generally available, Microsoft has pushed out a cumulative update set to make improvements to various aspects of the operating system.

As announced by Steven Sinofsky on Tuesday in a surprisingly brief blog post, the updates address performance, power management and battery efficiency, media playback, and compatibility and are now available on Windows Update for those of you who are already running the RTM bits. The update is rather sizable; Robert McLaws, an enthusiast who downloaded the update pointed out on Twitter that it is roughly 170MB in size.

That’s pretty impressive. In Sinofsky’s post, he talks a bit about how 8-12 weeks usually passes from when Microsoft ships the finalized Windows code to manufacturers, to when the operating system is generally available. This time is usually used by OEMs to ensure that everything works well; drivers are compatible, companion software (i.e bloatware) works fine, etc., but there are times when “changes and improvements” need to be made to the fundamental aspects of Windows.

He also touches on how major “bundles” of updates are traditionally delivered on Windows through service packs. Various changes are made by Microsoft for each OEM and their new PCs, and said changes are deployed during manufacturing and therefore remain unnoticed by consumers. These changes may apply to a wider range of PCs, but there’s no time to properly test and certify these updates. Therefore, they may only be pushed out on a broader scale with the first service pack of Windows.

However, the update process has been improved with Windows 8, as Sinofsky notes:

During the final months of Windows 8 we challenged ourselves to create the tools and processes to be able to deliver these “post-RTM” updates sooner than a service pack. By developing better test automation and test coverage tools we are happy to say that Windows 8 will be totally up to date for all customers starting at General Availability. If you are an MSDN or enterprise customer, these updates will be available for your Windows 8 PCs via Windows Update as of today (October 9), following our standard cadence for Windows Updates on the second Tuesday of each month at about 10:00am.

Good stuff. I wonder if Microsoft will continue this update pace beyond the interim period of RTM and GA, frequently pushing out significant updates without waiting to bundle them within a service pack.

For more on the update (KB 2756872), check out the Microsoft Support article.

Windows Store Surpasses 2,000 Apps As Windows 8 Launch Looms

With only a month to go until Windows 8 is generally available, the question is, how are developers taking to the platform? Given the importance of apps — especially with Windows 8’s tablet ambitions in mind — the quality and even quantity of apps in the Windows Store are important metrics to keep an eye on. Thankfully, Directions on Microsoft Vice President of Research Wes Miller is doing just this, regularly blogging about his findings on winappupdate.com.

On September 21st, Miller pointed out that the Windows Store broke the 2,000 app mark, with 2,079 apps available internationally. Out of this, 83% of those apps are free, compared to 89% back on the 9th of September.

Seeing that the pre-release versions of Windows 8 were downloaded by millions — something that Microsoft proudly and rightfully boasted about — and the fact that Windows 8 will definitely be shipped on millions, if not hundreds of millions of PCs and tablets worldwide, why is developer interest so low? Surely people would be wanting to get their apps in before the OS ships, right? The issue here isn’t that the Windows Store isn’t growing; according to the chart created by Miller, it is growing at a rate of roughly 100 apps per day. The problem is that it definitely isn’t growing fast enough.

This is pretty concerning, as Alex Wilhelm points out:

Thus, for Windows 8 to break the five-figure app threshold – in a world in which it’s six figures or bust – by launch, the operating system must undergo a massive burst of developer release before its debut.

However, looking at the above chart, the Windows Store is growing by under 100 apps per day. Thus, at its current rate, given the time until Windows 8 becomes generally available, we can expect around 5,000 apps to populate its virtual shelves. Remember, however, that not all will be available in all places. Thus, under 5,000 apps for everyone.

Given the pretty much guaranteed widespread adoption of Windows, and the insane effort of evangelists to get developers excited about the platform, what gives? It’s a rather peculiar issue, but for its own sake, more apps need to hit the Windows Store. And more quality developers who already create apps for iOS and Android need to get on board as well if Windows 8 wants to be successful in the tablet space.

Microsoft’s Developer Marathon in India Sets Guinness World Record

Microsoft’s Windows AppFest held at KTPO, Bangalore, has set the Guinness World Record for “Most Participants in a Software Development Marathon in One Location”. A little more than two and a half thousand (2567 to be precise) developers poured their heart and soul for eighteen hours to design, build, and test new Windows 8 apps.

Microsoft-AppFest-Bangalore-World-Record

Microsoft has been holding developer events across the world in an attempt to energize the developer ecosystem for Windows 8 ahead of its launch. Windows 8 features an entirely new class of touch-screen friendly apps that leverage web technologies. While Windows 8 makes developing Windows apps easier than ever before, it also eschews backward compatibility. Old apps will still run on desktops, but only in the classic mode, and in ARM tablets, they won’t run at all. Microsoft is making a bold move by redefining what we mean by Windows Apps, and its success hinges on developer participation.

AppFest is an initiative to get developers familiarized and involved with Windows 8, as well as to raise awareness about the opportunities offered by Windows 8. The Bangalore event was filled with activities throughout the day and night including performances from DJRink, rock band Swarathma and morning yoga sessions. Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India, remarked “The spectacle of thousands of developers toiling through the night has demonstrated great commitment to their work.”

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[ Photos courtesy of Abhishek Baxi and Microsoft ]

How to Share Files in Windows 8

Windows 8 has the ability to share files between computers just like its predecessors. Unfortunately, the look of Windows 8 may make setting up files sharing a little difficult. Today, I would like to show you how you can easily share files using Windows 8.

First, position your mouse in the top right corner of the screen to bring out the charm bar. At the bottom of the charm bar there is an icon that looks like a little cog. This is the “Settings” icon. Click it and you will see the menu pictured below. Click the “Network” icon that you can see highlighted in red below.

Network Settings

Under the “Networks” menu, find your network and right-click it. You will see a menu that says “Turn sharing on or off”. Click this option.

Turn on Sharing

Click the option that says “Yes turn on sharing and connect to devices”.

Sharing

Now, find the tile on the main screen labeled “Desktop”. This will take you to the traditional desktop screen.

Desktop

Once you are in the desktop mode, go ahead and bring out the charm bar by positioning your mouse in the upper right corner of the screen. Choose the “Settings” icon and then choose “Control Panel” at the top of the screen. In the control panel window, you should see something similar to what I have pictured below. You will noticed I have highlighted a group and underlined an option that says “Choose homegroup and sharing options”. Let me give you a real quick overview of homegroup. Windows 7 and Windows 8 will allow you to share files using the homegroup feature. It is a very easy way to share files between computers without having to worry about user level permissions.

Homegroup

Pictured below, you can see the “Homegroup” screen. You have several options here. First, you can set what you want to share between computers. This is a real easy way to make an entertainment PC in your home because you can share movies and music with other devices in your house and stream them from your PC.

Homegroup

If you haven’t created the initial homegroup then instead of the picture above, you will see what is pictured below. At this point, you will want to click the “Create Homegroup” button and select what files you want to share. Then you will be able to see the options pictured above.

Create Homegroup

Once your group is created, you will also notice towards the bottom of the screen that there are other settings. One in particular I want to highlight is the option to “View or print the homegroup password.” Go ahead and click this option. Notice the long password at the top of the screen. This password is automatically generated for you by Windows 8. Even more cool, is they are nice enough to give you instructions at the bottom of the window so you know how to connect to shares on this computer. At this point you will want to write down the password generated by Windows 8.

Password

Now that we have the initial homegroup created, we need to join other computers to it. Please note, only Windows 7 and Windows 8 can do homegroups. In the example below, I went to my Windows 7 PC and clicked the homegroup options as previously shown above. Notice that my Windows 7 PC sensed a homegroup had been started on the network. At this point I clicked “Join Now” at the bottom of the screen.

Join Group

Remember that long password I showed you earlier? This is why you need it because when you click the “Join Now” button, you will be prompted for the password to join the homegroup.  At this point, you decide what files you want accessible on the other PC and voila!, you have a homegroup.

Here’s how you can share a file using homegroups. On the Windows 8 PC, create a folder on the desktop. I called mine “Home Budget”, but you can call it whatever you wish. Now, right-click that folder and choose the “Share With” option. Notice in the picture below, you have the option to share with the ‘Homegroup” and give them “view” rights or “View and edit” rights. If you don’t want people on the other computer to be able to change files on the Windows 8 computer, choose the “view” only option.

Share With

So now the big question becomes, “how do I get this file from the other computer?” What you are looking for is a path. The easiest way to get that path is to right-click the folder, just like we did above, and choose “Properties”. You will see the window pictured below. Click the “Sharing tab” and notice the network path that is listed.

Path

Now, go to your other computer, and click the “Start” menu. Where it says “search programs and files”, type the path that was shown to you on the properties menu exactly and hit “Enter”. This will take you directly to that folder.

Start Menu

Another way you can access files is to go to your “Computer” window from the start menu, and look on the left side of the screen for “Homegroup”. Under it, you will see all the computers that are members of your homegroup listed, as pictured below.

homegroup list

All the files that were shared by default on the Windows 8 computer will be listed in the window to the right of the homegroup list.

I hope this tutorial helps you in getting files shared across your computers. As always, feel free to comment or email me any questions you may have.

Editorial: Will Windows 8 Boost or Bust Office Productivity?

Windows 8 has opened up a whole new world of opportunities and speculation too. The pages of the Internet are completely flooded with new gadgets, tips, and speculation surrounding Microsoft’s newest operating system. I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about Microsoft’s prospects. In some ways, I feel like Microsoft represents the big bad corporate fat cat that tried every way it could to monopolize the software market. In other ways, I am really pulling for Microsoft to win on this one. Let’s face it, a lot of people make a lot of money because Microsoft developed a product they could support or develop apps for. With the U.S. economy in the tank, we desperately need a shot in the arm. As popular as Apple products are, how many people do you know who are making a great living off Apple products? I would wager that they are few and far between. Consumer oriented products are just not the boon to the economy in the long term that business oriented products are. I am sure Apple investors might disagree, but unless you have big bucks in the market, you’re probably not benefiting very much from Apple’s success.

Window 8 Logo

Now that I have had a chance to play with Windows 8 a little, I am starting to draw some of my own conclusions about it. I see that a lot of thought has been put into designing this OS, there are a lot of opportunities for both software and hardware makers, and I think this is going to be a royal nightmare for IT departments supporting business.

Thoughtful Design

Somewhere along the way, Microsoft started making assumptions that everyone was locked into their products and that consumers would hopelessly remain in the cycle of expensive software upgrades every few years. Unfortunately for Microsoft, they made a very decent OS when they made Windows XP. Windows XP simply worked. It worked fast as compared to Windows 2000. It was pretty simple to use. From an IT standpoint, it was very simple to administer on a domain. It wasn’t flawless, but it got the job done. This was a big problem for Microsoft because in order to keep the revenue stream alive, they decided it was time for everyone to jump to the latest and greatest OS. This is where Windows Vista entered the scene. Short of trying to sound insulting, Windows Vista was a poorly planned, poorly implemented flop. It was riddled with problems right out of the box. However, even it had been delivered in perfect working condition, it just didn’t offer anything upgrade worthy. As an IT manager, I would love to have had a Microsoft exec try to help me explain to my boss why I needed to upgrade 100 computers to Windows Vista because frankly, I saw no advantage whatsoever except for veiled threats that Microsoft would soon stop supporting Windows XP.

With the experience of the Vista debacle in their past, Microsoft seemed to take its time with the Windows 8 rollout and it shows. First of all, Windows 8 embraces a new age of technology based on tablets and smartphones. Though it is the nightmare of many IT security personnel, the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) movement has changed the way people interface with the company network. Employees are more than willing to go out and get the device of their choice and use it for company business. Of course, the consumer market cannot be ignored either. Microsoft recognized that Apple and Google were making a fortune in this area and that every day Microsoft didn’t have a product in that vertical was a day of missed opportunity. Microsoft also had to ensure that they got this OS right, or else suffer the same fate that Vista did. Windows 8 is definitely a tablet friendly operating system. The design is gorgeous and it is pretty intuitive as a touchscreen OS. It also doubles as a desktop operating system. By clicking the “Desktop” tile on the main screen, you can get to a more classic looking screen where you can setup shortcuts and pretty wallpapers. This dual personality, I believe, is going to make it the most flexible operating system on the market. I really don’t see how Android or IOS will be able to even compete against it unless they come up with something radical soon.

Adding Mail Accounts to Windows 8 Mail

Windows 8 has a nice mail client built into the operating system. Setting it up to work with multiple accounts is pretty easy too. One thing you might remember is that you can use your Hotmail account as your Windows 8 security account. This is pretty nice. If you do this, then your Hotmail/Outlook.com account will already be setup automatically for you after you get Windows 8 installed. Today, I would like to show you how you can add a mail account to Windows 8. In particular, I will show you how to set up your Gmail account on Windows 8 Mail.

First, you need to find the tile on the main start screen labeled “Mail”. See the picture below.

Mail Tile

Next, you need to put your mouse in the top right corner of the screen to reveal the “Charm Bar”. On the “Charm Bar”, find the “Settings” icon.

Settings

At the top of the “Settings” window, you will see an option that says “Accounts”,pictured below. Click “Accounts”.

Accounts

Now, you’ll be given a list of account types that you can configure for Windows 8 Mail. If you look at the picture below, you will see it has the major account types like Hotmail, Gmail, Exchange, and then “Other Account”.

Account Types

For this tutorial, I am picking the “Google Connect” option, which will allow me to import my Gmail account on here. Believe it or not, it is incredibly simple to integrate this Windows 8 with Gmail. Pictured below, you can see all of the information it asks for when building an account. If you use Gmail contacts or calendars, you can include them as well.

Gmail

Once you hit “Connect”, you’re in business. Pictured below, you can see that the mail client grabbed all of my folders from my Gmail account. Notice in the bottom left corner of the picture, that I have highlighted the area that shows both accounts I have on the Windows 8 machine. All I have to do to switch between them is click the name of the account and it will show me mail from that account.

Mail Inbox

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. As you can see it is pretty easy to setup mail accounts in Windows 8. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to comment or email me and I will try to help you the best I can.

How To Enable Hibernate in Windows 8?

One of the best features in Windows has been the ability to hibernate your PC and then log back in to the same state later on. However, the hibernate option is not traditionally available in Windows 8 and requires users to enable it.

If you are looking to enable the Hibernate option in Windows 8, you can follow the steps given below and you’ll see the Hibernate option in the power options for Windows 8.

Windows 8 Power Options Search

Step 1: Bring up the power options in Control panel by searching Windows 8 for “Power Options” and selecting it under the settings. Alternatively, you can also use the shortcut combination “Windows + I” and then select Control Panel from the list and search for “Power Options”.

Windows 8 Power Button Settings

Step 2: In the Power Options window, click on the link which says “Choose what the power buttons do” and then click on the link which says “Change settings that are currently unavailable”.

Add Hibernate in Windows 8

 Step 3: Now scroll down till you see the “Shutdown settings” and then select the checkbox next to “Hibernate” and save your changes. Once you have made that change you will start seeing the Hibernate option when you try to shutdown, restart or sleep Windows 8.

That’s it, you can now put your Windows 8 PC into Hibernate mode instead of shutting it down.

Read some of our other Windows 8 Tips and Tricks Below

How to Shut Down, Restart, Sleep, Lock or Switch User in Windows 8?

While many of you might think that it would be trivial to perform such a task, it is definitely a little confusing for new users to shutdown, restart, sleep, lock or log off from Windows 8. Windows 8 does not have the traditional start button which has made it harder for users to actually find the shutdown button (Read: How to add Start Button to Windows 8).

If you are a confused user who has been searching for options to shutdown, restart, sleep, lock or log off from Windows 8, you will find all the information below.

Windows 8 Shutdown, Restart, Sleep, Switch User, Log Off and Lock options

Windows 8 provides a shortcut key combination in order to bring up the menu for performing settings change and viewing information about your computer. In order to find the menu for performing the above actions you will have to press the key combination “Windows + I” and then click on the “Power” button in the sidebar to bring up the options to Sleep, Shutdown or Restart the PC.

Shutdown, Restart or Sleep Windows 8

In order switch user you can use the famous key combination “Ctrl + Alt + Del” which will bring up options to switch user, lock the computer or log off from the current user. Alternatively, you could also use the “Windows + L” shortcut key combination to lock your computer quickly.

If you don’t want to go through all these hassles you can install the Windows 8 start button and get all these options right on the desktop itself.

Microsoft might have imagined Windows 8 in a different way, but traditional Windows users are going to find it hard to perform the simplest of tasks. Hopefully, they will learn their way around.

Read some of our other Windows 8 Tips and Tricks Below

Here’s the Rundown of the New Windows 8 Tablets

Ever since Microsoft announced its Windows 8 platform, the industry has gone abuzz about the touchscreen capabilities of its new OS. Even now there is a huge consumer electronics show going on in Berlin, Germany called IFA 2012. All of the big industry names are rolling out Windows 8 devices faster than I can honestly wrap my mind around. I will say this Christmas season is going to be tough for the average consumer as there are so many variations of hybrid tablets coming out from all of these manufacturers. We in the tech industry are going to have our work cut out for us trying to muddle through all the specs and separating the good from the bad. So without further ado, here is a list of Windows 8 tablets that have recently been announced.

HP Tablets

HP announced today, its lineup of hybrid PC and tablets. Pictured below, you can see what they look like.

HP Lineup


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The HP Envy x2 is a hybrid PC. It is basically a laptop and a tablet built into one. The 11.6 screen attaches seamlessly to a magnetic base on the keyboard. Slide it off and you have a tablet. The tablet weighs 1.5 pounds and runs on Windows 8. It has a front-facing HD webcam and an 8 megapixel camera on the back. HP expects to have the Envy x2 available around the holiday season and has yet to announce the price. HP also announced two ultrabooks, the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook, and the HP ENVY TouchSmart Ultrabook 4. 

Samsung Tablets

SamsungThe Samsung Ativ Tab seems to be getting a lot of attention and looking at the specs, probably rightly so. Pictured below, you can see it has a beautiful design. They put a Windows 8 button at the bottom of the screen so you can switch between Start screen mode and Desktop mode in Windows 8. It has built-in USB and HDMI ports so you can connect a mouse or printer without the hassle of special software. It also comes preloaded with Microsoft Office. Battery life seems to be incredible.

Samsung Ativ

They claim 13 hours battery time watching movies. It has a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM. It also has a front facing 1.9 megapixel camera and a 5 megapixel rear camera with LED flash. Currently it is unknown when the tablet will be available or what the price point will be.

Dell Tablets

Dell announced today, its new lineup of tablets, touchscreens, and ultrabooks. The XPS 10, pictured below, is Dell’s new 10 inch tablet running on the Window RT OS and ARM processors. If you’re not familiar with that jargon, I will try to simplify it for you. The RT version of Windows 8 is basically a souped smartphone OS made for a tablet. You don’t get the full blown desktop experience like you do with Windows 8 however, you do get a lot of apps. So it is more like an iPad than a desktop. The ARM processor is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 processor, which is a mobile processor. This isn’t a bad thing, because these mobile manufacturers have learned how to make these mobile processors powerful but easy on the battery life. The XPS 10 comes with a dockable keyboard. When docked it can get up to 20 hours battery life. They expect to release this tablet in late October.

Dell XPS 10

Dell also announced a hybrid pc called the XPS Duo 12. Picture below, the ultrabook transforms into a tablet by rotating the screen and folding it down over the keyboard. The specs on this model are a little bit sketchy at this time. It too is expected to be available at the end of October.

Dell XPS Duo 12

Sony Tablets

Sony unveiled its new line of tablets at the IFA show in Berlin as well. Specs on this particular tablet are a little sketchy. It appears that it is intended to be a full blown laptop that transforms into a tablet. It comes with a stylus and the keyboard slides out instead of detaching like some of our previous contenders. The model they showed in Berlin sported an i7 processor and 8GB of RAM. That is some serious horsepower. They do plan to offer i5 and i3 processors as well. This is good because it is doubtful most consumers are going to want to spend the money for an i7.

Sony VAIO Duo 11


 

 

ASUS Tablets

ASUS unveiled the ASUS Tablet 810 and the ASUS Tablet 600 to the world. The 810 model is the full Windows 8 tablet. Here are the specs listed on their website:

Display11.6“ Super IPS+ Panel with 1366×768 resolution,
Touch panel: 10 fingers multi-touch
Operating SystemWindows® 8 Release Preview
CPUNext Generation Intel® Atom™ processor
MemoryRAM: 2GB
Storage64GB eMMC
Connectivity802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
DigitizerWacom digitizer stylus
CameraRear: 8MP Auto focus with LED Flash / Front: 2MP
SensorG-Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, E-compass, NFC ,GPS

Asus 810

The Tablet 600 is the RT version of their tablet. It too has a removable docking keyboard. Below are the specs per Asus’ website:

Display10.1“ Super IPS+ Panel with 1366×768 resolution,
Touch panel: 10 fingers multi-touch
Operating SystemWindows® RT
CPUNVIDIA® Tegra® 3 Quad-core
Memory / StorageRAM: 2GB / Storage: 32GB eMMC
Connectivity802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0C
CameraRear: 8MP Auto focus with LED Flash / Front: 2MP
SensorG-Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, E-compass, NFC ,GPS

Pictured below, you can see the ASUS Tablet 600.
Asus 600

As you can see, the selection is going to be pretty incredible this fall. The big question is how much are these things going to cost? Everyone seems to have their eyes on Microsoft as they are set to announce pricing for their Surface tablet in late October. I doubt we’ll get any ideas about these other tablets until Microsoft announces their pricing. Keep checking back with us as I am sure this list will increase with time. We’ll be sure to keep our eyes open for the latest and greatest as it comes out.

How To Install/Uninstall Apps from Windows 8 Store

Microsoft recently released Windows 8 to its Technet and MSDN subscribers and will make it available to general public in October. One of the new features in Windows 8 is the addition of the Windows 8 store from where users can download apps onto their PC or tablets.

Also Read: Tutorial – Navigating Windows 8 | Get Windows 8 Upgrade Discount

Windows 8 will allow users to install apps which are not part of the Windows 8 store as well. However, if you are new to Windows 8, here are some instructions on how you can easily install and uninstall apps using the Windows 8 Store.

Installing Apps in Windows 8

Windows 8 Store

To install an app on the Windows 8 store, you will need to move to the start screen by clicking on the Windows icon and then clicking on the Store tile. This will launch the Windows 8 store where you will be able to browse all the available apps and install them.

Install Apps on Windows 8

To install an app in Windows 8, click on the Install button and Windows 8 will download the app from the store and install it on your PC or tablet.

Uninstalling Windows Store Apps on Windows 8

When you install apps through the Windows Store, you will not be able to uninstall them through the regular “Add/Remove Program” option. The Windows 8 Add/Remove Program option only lists the applications you installed directly on your PC.

Uninstall Windows 8 Apps

In order to uninstall an app that you installed from the Windows 8 store, head over to the “Start screen” by pressing the Windows Key. Now “Right Click” on the app you want to uninstall. After you do this, a menu bar will appear at the bottom of the screen using which you can uninstall the app from Windows 8.

Bonus Hint: If you have unpinned the app from the start menu, you can hit the Windows key and then start searching the name of the app (See: How to Search in Windows 8). Once you see the app in the search results, just right click on it and uninstall it using the menu bar displayed on the bottom.