[Interview] Dell is Committed to PC Business: GM, Dell India

According to IDC, Dell is the number one PC vendor in the consumer, small & medium business, as well as the enterprise space. Dell has channel presence across hundreds of cities and sells at thousands of retail outlets across the country. Apart from a variety of product lines to suit diverse customers, the after-sales support options from Dell has garnered several fans and loyalists, including me.

Last week I met Mahesh Bhalla, Executive Director and General Manager (Consumer & SMB) at Dell India. We talked about Dell’s business in India, the revolution in devices and form factors, and Dell’s newest line of business the mobile phones.

  • Dell is fully committed to the PC business. The high-volume business is tricky, which is why HP recently announced that they are looking to spin-off their PC business
  • Mahesh dismisses the myth that to succeed in Indian market, one has to sell the product at the cheapest. Dell’s number one status testifies this assertion since Dell prices it products higher than the regional industry average.
  • Dell succeeds in getting positive mindshare on basis of support options since it builds those with an astute understanding of the local market. In India, on-site service is the best option. Dell provides on-site service in 650 cities
  • There are a variety of form factors in the market at this moment. After a certain time, the market would crystallize. One can always give choice to customers, but too many choices add to costs.
  • Dell has been in mobile business for less than a year, and is working to improve the distribution channels and also offer different form factors and device options.

New Windows 8 Pre-Boot Troubleshooting Options

Windows 8 is an ambitious attempt by Microsoft to prepare Windows for the post-PC’ era. As we have discussed in our earlier coverage, Windows 8 abandons several Windows conventions in a bid to reimagine itself. One such casualty is the Safe Mode.

The Windows Safe Mode is designed to help you troubleshoot Windows, in case your system becomes unbootable due to incorrect drivers, corrupt system files, or buggy/malicious applications. Ever since its inception, the Safe Mode could be accessed by pressing F8 during Windows boot. However, in Windows 8, this is what pressing F8 will bring up.


In Windows 8, the troubleshooting screen has also been given the Metro treatment. Although Safe Mode doesn’t find a spot under the ‘Troubleshoot’ options, there are a couple of new options that users will find handy.


Reset Your PC: Selecting this option is akin to doing a factory reset. All your system settings, personalization settings, applications, and files will be removed.


Refresh your PC: This will keep your files and personalization settings intact, but remove any application that wasn’t installed through the Windows Store, and reset system settings.


Other options available through the new Metro troubleshooting interface include System Restore, System Image Recovery, Command Prompt, and Automatic Repair.


Even though the Safe Mode is nowhere to be found in the new troubleshooting interface, it’s still included in Windows. To trigger it you simply have to press Shit+F8. Here’s the Windows 8 Advanced Boot options screen.


Metro UI Tweaker for Windows 8

Yesterday I shared a couple of tiny utilities to toggle some of the new Windows 8 features. Now, TheWindowsClub has released another utility, which is very similar to the ones I covered yesterday, but has a few more bells and whistles.

Two of the most debated aspects of Windows 8 are its new Start menu and the Ribbonified Windows Explorer. Metro UI Tweaker for Windows 8 makes it extremely simple to disable either or both of these features. Interestingly enough, if you chose to disable both of these features, the Lock Screen and modern Task Manager will also get disabled.


Earlier today, I highlighted some of the major inconsistencies and stupidities of the Windows 8 interface. One of the issues I highlighted was the placement of the Power options. Windows 8 makes shutdown process complicated enough to merit a tutorial. Metro UI Tweaker can make life easier by putting the Power options in the Start screen. It can also add options like Lock, LogOff, and Switch User which are not present by default in the Windows 8 power options.


The final feature of Metro UI Tweaker is the ability to pin any file or application to the Start screen. Adding folders, however, is not permitted due to restrictions imposed by Windows.

Metro UI Tweaker for Windows 8 doesn’t require installation and can be used on both 32bit and 64bit editions.

[ Download Metro UI Tweaker for Windows 8 ]

Windows 8: When Two Worlds Collide

Steven Sinofsky, the President of the Windows division at Microsoft, has dubbed Windows 8 as Windows reimagined, and for once, it’s not just PR-speak. Windows 8 introduces sweeping changes that affects both users and developers. In many ways, it’s probably the most significant release of Windows since Windows 95. Windows 8 is a touch-first operating system, which offers a new immersive user interface that actually does away with the concept of windows.


From the start, our approach has been to reimagine Windows, and to be open to revisiting even the most basic elements of the user model, the platform and APIs, and the architectures we support.
– Steven Sinofsky

Windows 8 is Windows reimagined. However, Windows also has its own legacy and tradition that it just can’t axe at one fell swoop. Currently Windows has hundreds of thousands of apps that are utilized on a day to day basis by its millions of users. It simply can’t turn around and ask everyone to begin from scratch. Doing so will almost certainly have disastrous consequences for Windows both among enterprise users and consumers. As a result, Sinofsky has had to pull off a balancing act. Even though Sinofsky has stated that his goal was a no compromise design, Windows 8 is full of compromises.

Windows Reimagined

Windows 8 attempts to put the focus on the modern Metro interface, without abandoning the classic Windows shell. Windows 8 tries to put the focus on touch, without forgetting keyboard and mouse users. Windows 8 tries to simplify computing, without alienating its power users. In short, Windows 8 tries to please everyone. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. When two worlds collide, baby eating aliens are to be expected.

Quench Your Thirst with 14 Free Oktoberfest Screensavers

[Windows Only]

These beer themed screensavers are perfect for getting into a thirsty mood for the upcoming October festivities. If you are hosting your own little Oktoberfest party, one of these on your computer screen is sure to be popular. Just be sure to  set a password on the screensaver. I don’t recommend letting drunk people operate your PC. There’s nothing worse than a PC with a spyware hangover.

• Screensaver Download Page

As many of you have learned by now, not all free screensavers are created equal. Many times, free  means that you have to install stupid toolbars, adware and other unwanted junk along with the screensaver. That’s not true of the ones at NewFreeScreensavers.com.

Once again, remember my warning about letting your buddies use the PC while drunk.  However, your crew may fall on the floor laughing, while watching what happens when a squirrel has too much to drink. (video: Drunk Squirrel)

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I’ve downloaded and installed several of the screensavers at this site and never had a problem with any of them. These screensavers are safe, totally free, and there are dozens more to check out once you visit.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

An Introduction to Metro Style Apps

The next version of Windows (codenamed Windows 8) is designed to build on what is great about Windows 7. It extends the fundamental features of Windows 7 with a new touch-optimized interface. Windows 8 introduces a new Metro style interface, which shows the information important to you, embodies simplicity, and gives you control. The interface is optimized for fluid and intuitive interaction and navigation with either a finger, or a mouse and keyboard. Windows 8 provides a platform to create a new generation of full-screen apps that are based on modern web standards and provide an immersive experience. These Metro style apps are tailored to users’ needs and to the device they run on.

Windows 8 Start Screen

Immersive and Fluid

Your Metro style apps fill the entire screen for an engaging experience and saving you from any distraction. Apps can adapt to a variety of form factors and screen resolutions, and can work on x86, x64, and ARM platforms.


Metro style apps engage users with the info they are interested in and the people they care about. Live tiles present activity updates to users at a glance and the Start screen shows off what apps are great at.


Your apps are ready for you on any Windows 8 PC you use. When   you sign in with your connected Microsoft account to a PC running Windows 8, your Metro style apps and settings go with you. You’ll also be signed in to all of the websites you were signed in to.

Work Together

Metro style apps can communicate with each other in Windows 8, making it easier to search, share, and send content between them. So, if you want to send pictures in email, and they’re in different places like Facebook or on your hard drive, you can easily pick and send the ones you want.

Always On

Metro style apps run and stay up to date even when the PC is on standby. When Windows comes out of standby, your apps don’t need time to catch up.


While apps immerse your users in a full screen environment, Windows also makes it possible for them to multitask. The Snapped view allows users to do more than one thing at once while the Filled view allows users to snap one app and keep another app in the fill space.

Disable Metro Interface and Enable Start Menu in Windows 8

I am sure most of you have already read aplenty about Windows 8. In fact, some of you have probably already tried the developer preview, which is available for download from dev.windows.com.

Windows 8 is the most significant release of Microsoft’s venerable operating system since Windows 95. It introduces sweeping changes for both users and developers. For example, Windows 8 does away with the Start menu, and focuses on a touch-first Metro interface. However, changes always tend to be polarizing. I am sure there are some of you who prefer the old interface over Metro. Fortunately, it’s rather simple to disable the Windows 8 features that you don’t like.

As mentioned earlier, Windows 8 replaces the traditional Start menu with a full screen launcher featuring interactive tiles. However, the old Windows 7 style Start menu. is still included. Microsoft has just locked it away. To unlock it you need to make a few simple Registry modifications. Even better, you can use the Start Menu Toggle utility developed by Deviant-Art member Solo-Dev to unlock the Start menu with a single click.


If you want, you can get rid of the entire Metro interface with the help of Metro Controller application discovered by IntoWindows. This utility even allows you to disable most of the features introduced in Windows 8. However, you will probably be better off using Windows 7 rather than a crippled version of Windows 8 developer preview, if you don’t find any of the new features useful.

Windows Dev Center for Windows 8 Launched; Download Preview Release Now

Earlier today at the keynote of   BUILD conference, Steven Sinofsky, President, Windows & Windows Live Division at Microsoft announced that developers will be able to download the Windows Developer Preview via the new Windows Dev Center. Microsoft showcased a detailed preview of the next major release of Windows, code-named Windows 8.’ The Windows Developer Preview is a pre-beta version of Windows 8 for developers. Windows Dev Center

The new Windows Dev Center dev.windows.com – has just gone live and promises to make guides, tools, samples, forums, docs and other resources to build on Windows available soon. You can download the Windows Developer Preview right away.

Download Windows 8 Developer Preview

Windows Developer Preview with developer tools English, 64-bit (x64) – DOWNLOAD (4.8 GB)

All of the following come on a disk image file (.iso).

  • 64-bit Windows Developer Preview
  • Windows SDK for Metro style apps
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows Developer Preview
  • Microsoft Expression Blend 5 Developer Preview
  • 28 Metro style apps including the BUILD Conference app

Windows Developer Preview English, 64-bit (x64) – DOWNLOAD (3.6 GB)
Includes a disk image file (.iso) to install the Windows Developer Preview and Metro style apps on a 64-bit PC.

Windows Developer Preview English, 32-bit (x86) – DOWNLOAD (2.8 GB)
Includes a disk image file (.iso) to install the Windows Developer Preview and Metro style apps on a 32-bit PC.

System Requirements

Windows Developer Preview works great on the same hardware that powers Windows Vista and Windows 7:

  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
  • Taking advantage of touch input requires a screen that supports multi-touch

Note that you can’t uninstall the Windows Developer Preview. Also, the preview is available as-is, and is unsupported by Microsoft. The Windows Developer Preview is delivered as an .iso image that must be converted into installation media stored on a DVD or a USB flash drive.

Sinofsky mentioned that this developer preview will be followed by one beta version, and a release candidate before the final release. With Windows 7, a similar process took about a year to go from developer preview to final release. Microsoft hasn’t specified if and when a preview version of ARM-based version of Windows 8 will be made available.

Prior to this, all the developer information, downloads, and documentation was hosted at Microsoft’s developer portal MSDN. This included development for Windows client, and other Microsoft’s web and server technologies. With the launch of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft created App Hub, a developer portal for Windows Phone 7 app and games developers and Xbox LIVE game developers. Unless some integration or merger happens in the future around the release of Windows 8, this could create factions between developers on same technologies but on different portals.

Touch Me! Microsoft gets ready for BUILD


We were greeted to Windows 95’s launch by The Rolling Stones’ Start Me Up, a reminder of the new, but now iconic Start button in Windows. Maybe for Windows 8, Microsoft should use The Doors’ Touch Me.


We have been waiting anxiously for this day to arrive. Tomorrow, after months of keeping a tight leash (leaks notwithstanding) on the progress of or the details about Windows 8, Microsoft will reveal its newest operating system to the world at BUILD.

BUILD is Microsoft’s new developer-focused conference, a combination of PDC (Professional Developers’ Conference) and WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference). It is being held at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA.

What we know

Ever since Steven Sinofsky and Julie Larson-Green revealed Windows 8 at All Things D’s D9 conference in June this year, the anticipation and expectations have gone up for what Windows 8 will be. Windows 8 sports a brand new Metro style interface with its big tiles. This interface is obviously suited to touch gestures and along with the upcoming Xbox dashboard update, it completes the trifecta of Metro styled interfaces from phones (Windows Phone 7) where it started, to PCs and TVs. Recently, Microsoft started a new blog dubbed Building Windows 8, where they have revealed (or confirmed rumors regarding):

  • Support for ARM architecture
  • System requirements for Windows 8 will be the same or less than Windows 7 requirements which means the hundreds of millions of PC’s being used today can be upgraded to Windows 8 without the need for further investment
  • The teamswithin Windows 8, which in some ways confirmed rumors such as existence of Hyper-V in the Windows 8 client and an App Store for Windows.
  • USB 3.0 support
  • New file copy/move/delete experience in Windows Explorer, along with a new conflict resolution user experience
  • Ribbon-ized Windows Explorer
  • Native support for accessing ISO and VHD files
  • Hyper-V in Windows 8 client
  • Extremely fast boot times in Windows 8

From what is explicitly mentioned in the blog and what was demonstrated at D9, we also know that Windows 8 will have two user interfaces. The first being the Metro style, tile-based, interface and the other being the classicWindows 7-style interface. Both these interfaces, Microsoft claims, are an effort to have no compromise. By no compromise, they are implying that just because an interface has touch-first design, does not mean it will not support keyboard and mouse. Microsoft realizes that a large portion of its user base uses Windows in an enterprise where the tile-based, touch-first interface may not be the most optimum. Hence, instead of ditching the past and starting afresh with the new paradigm, Microsoft is now at a stage where it has to explain how the two interfaces will co-exist. This co-existence leads to many more questions, which brings me to my next topic.

Ribbonized Explorer in Windows 8 is Good News [Editorial]

Yesterday, Alex Simons from the program management team of Microsoft Windows shed some light on the planned enhancements for Explorer in Windows 8. I enthusiastically welcomed the new Ribbonized Explorer that Microsoft showed off. Minutes later, I was left scratching my head as negative responses begun pouring in from across the web.


BetaNews compared the new Explorer with an overstuffed refrigerator” and dubbed it as “a maze only navigable by your home’s primary cook, while Laurie Voss concluded that Microsoft UI has officially entered the realm of self-parody. The overwhelming consensus is that the Ribbon for Explorer is a bad idea as its overly complicated, and plain unnecessary. Of course, my personal opinion is drastically different. I will try to tackle some of the most common complaints and offer my perspective in this op-ed.


It’s Useless: This argument couldn’t be any further from the truth. The tabbed interface makes it possible to expose a multitude of features in the GUI, without overburdening a novice user. Here are some of the neat little things that will be possible with the new Explorer:

  • Compressing multiple files into a single zip file and emailing it with a couple of clicks.
  • Single click sharing of files with networked users.
  • Contextual searching that is both simple and powerful.
  • Enhanced and simplified keyboard navigation.

The Ribbon interface also makes several nifty existing features more accessible and discoverable. Here’s a very brief list of stuff that’s easier to do with Windows 8.

  • View hidden files and folders with a single click.
  • Launch command prompt in admin mode directly from the Explorer.
  • Rollback documents to a previous version with a couple of clicks.

Some of the buttons such as Copy, Paste, and Delete are redundant as most users perform these operations through context-menu or keyboard shortcuts. However, not including them also would have been quite controversial as they do represent the most commonly performed tasks by a user. Hence, even though almost everyone other than novices wouldn’t find these buttons of much use, it makes sense to feature them prominently. Microsoft also probably went overboard with the various selection options. However, on the whole, the Ribbon UI adds plenty of value to the Explorer.