Category Archives: Windows

Simplifying Windows: Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8

Microsoft Surface
Microsoft Surface

If you were disconnected from the world for the past several months, you wouldn’t know that Microsoft is going to release the next version of their operating system for personal computers, called Windows 8. Let me rephrase that: Microsoft is going to release an operating system for mobile, highly-connected devices, with touch input at the front-and-center, and along with that operating system, it is also providing an upgrade to their existing Windows 7 operating system.

The look and feel of Windows is very different from earlier versions of Windows, and as a result there has been a lot of uncertainty and (unfair) judgement about it being circulated in the tech press. Instead of writing yet another article about how this whole thing is confusing, my goal here is to make it simple for someone who wants to know more about “The Big Launch” that Microsoft is undertaking at the end of October.

Windows 8

First and foremost, there is Windows 8. It is the operating system that will ship on most PCs and it is also something that you can upgrade from virtually any previous Windows version. This operating system runs the new “Start Screen” with Live Tiles, and will allow you to install apps (yes, there are now Windows Apps) from the Windows Store. Additionally, Windows 8 has a “desktop” environment that may seem familiar to users of Windows, especially Windows 7/Vista. Here, you can install applications outside of the Windows Store, for example CutePDF and Winrar. There is no restriction on what you can install in Windows 8 “desktop” environment. For apps on the other hand, unless you work at a company that supports it, or if you are a developer with the correct settings, you cannot install them from anywhere else except the Windows Store.

Windows RT

Windows RT is the radical new operating sytem that Microsoft is introducing for the first time along with Windows 8. It will not ship as standalone software, and instead, it will only be available as part of devices that ship with this operating system. Think of it as the software that runs your appliances like a DVD player or your car navigation system. Windows RT also has the same “Start Screen” as Windows 8 and you can install apps from the Windows Store just like Windows 8. It also has a “desktop” environment but you cannot install anything there. Yes, you read that right. Microsoft has locked the desktop environment so customers cannot install any software on the device except the apps you can get from the Windows Store.

Microsoft does ship Windows RT with a version of Office 2013 for free. It is called Office Home & Student 2013 RT which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Think of Windows RT as Windows 8 with only the Windows Store Apps along with Office. (Yes, I know there are more “desktop” applications that come with Windows RT, but at a high level, this should suffice.)

All the apps you purchase from the Windows Store will work on Windows RT devices as well as Windows 8 devices.

Windows Phone 8

Microsoft also makes operating system software for phones, called Windows Phone. The next revision of this software, called Windows Phone 8, is also due to be released at the end of October. Windows Phone 8 is built on the same core as Windows 8 so application developers can reuse their logic between a Windows 8 app and a Windows Phone 8 app.

Although the apps are not the same across Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, a lot of app developers are using the cloud to power native experiences across multiple platforms and devices. Evernote, for example, will have a Windows 8 app as well as a Windows Phone 8 app (in addition to other platforms), both delivering native experiences for the screen sizes, keeping most of the data and logic in the cloud so it is easily portable.

From a “devices” perspective, it is important to keep Windows Phone 8 in mind, but if the discussion is about “computers”, you only need to consider Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Windows takeaways

Having discussed the software at a high level, here’s the quick overview of Windows:

  • Windows RT is the new mobile operating system built for increasingly popular simpler devices like tablets and slates. It comes bundled with Office and the only way to get more apps is via the Windows Store. It cannot be bought in the store, it comes pre-installed with devices like tablets and hybrids.
  • Windows 8 is Windows RT combined with the ability to install any application that you can buy off the shelf today. It is built for more powerful computers, but retains all the advantages of mobility-focused Windows RT. It introduces many upgrades in that “desktop” environment over its predecessor Windows 7 and is generally installable on any PC that runs Windows 7 today.

Form factors

The second complexity that will come in terms of increased choice is via the increased form factors of devices that are going to hit the market. Windows 8 being a touch-focused operating system, has led OEMs to ship many PCs with touch capabilities. So in addition to the simple desktop, laptop and tablet form factors, we have touch-screen laptop, devices with detachable screens/keyboards, laptops that convert to slate with a flip or a twist, and touchscreen all-in-ones. Additionally, PC makers as well as component makers have promised much better trackpad/touchpad technology in new devices and Windows 8 gesture support.

You don’t need to worry too much about the increased choice – just know that you can take advantage of touch, via direct touch on the screen or via indirect touch on the touchpad on laptops or separate trackpads that will ship with PCs, especially all-in-ones.

What will be tricky to decide and can only be done after trying a few PCs, are the convertible PCs. An Ultrabook-sized laptop, i.e., thin and light, that flips completely to convert to a touch slate, or a similar laptop where the screen detaches and becomes a standalone slate. I happen to prefer the convertible laptop (specifically, the Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA) but those detachables also sound quite interesting. Again, since we have not seen these form factors before, it is best to try them out before making a decision. (Yes, I know these existed in the Tablet PC era, but remember, Windows XP and even Windows 7 were not touch-first like Windows 8 is, and those PCs were thick and heavy. Besides, there was no app ecosystem like the Windows Store to enhance functionality in the PC.)

Of course, if you end up buying a pure slate form factor, Windows 8 and Windows RT both support Bluetooth so you can always slap an external keyboard and a mouse if you don’t see yourself always needing them.

Final thoughts

Windows 8 is dramatically different from Windows 7. It also adds the mobile OS Windows RT. It is bound to create snap judgements from tech press used to “old Windows way of doing things” or those enamoured with anything that Apple produces. Having used Windows 8 over the past few months constantly on a very old PC with keyboard and mouse, I can assure you that for most people, it is going to be a significant ugprade over whatever else they have been using. It is fast, it is efficient and with the move towards an app-centric world, its functionality will constantly get enhanced by third-party developers building innovative apps and distributing them through the Windows Store. It will add some learning curve, especially for folks with muscle memory, but as we have seen with touch OS like iPhone/iPad’s iOS, it is much easier to learn navigating via touch than navigating via keyboard and mouse.

Don’t base your opinion on what’s being written by tech writers, especially those who have not really used the operating system. Certainly they have not used it on “Windows 8 hardware” so their opinions are either based on conjecture, or fear of change, or simply with a motive to get more pageviews because that pays the bills. I am sorry I had to create this disclaimer but having read the stuff that has been written about Windows 8, I can’t help but shake my head.

Having said all that, I must say, Microsoft’s efforts to educate what is Windows 8 and how it is different from Windows RT and which form factors are available and how to choose, has been abysmal. They may be able to train Microsoft Store employees in the last week before launch but how about the many other stores that are going to sell Windows 8 PCs and Windows RT devices? How are those employees going to guide the customers in the right direction? It would be a pity if customers see a beautiful ad on the TV showing “Windows 8″, go the store and happen to find a Windows RT tablet to be the cheapest, and go home and find out that they cannot use Quicken or Photoshop on it.

Windows 8 is too good for Microsoft to throw it off the rails like this. Hope they do enough in the “last mile” to guide customers in the right direction. They can’t rely on people like yours truly to keep demystifying and simplifying for them.

Are you sold on Windows 8? Do you plan to get a Windows RT device? Let me know in the comments!

Microsoft: Windows Blue Will Be a Free Update Downloadable from Store as Windows 8.1

Windows-Blue Microsoft doesn’t exactly have the best of reputations when it comes to keeping cards close to its chest. Windows Blue is turning out to be no exception. We have had tips from insiders, leaks from partners, and even functional builds available for download on torrent websites. Now, Microsoft has finally opened up about its plans for the next iteration of the Windows operating system.

Speaking to shareholders, Tami Reller — who is the new Windows CFO, confirmed at the JP Morgan Media & Telecom Conference that Windows Blue indeed exists, and will hit the market by the end of this year. He also revealed that the operating system will be officially known as Windows 8.1. The best piece of news for current Windows 8 users is that the update will be available as a free download from the Windows 8 Store. Reller didn’t provide any insights into the expected enhancements in the next edition of Windows. However, the good news is that a public beta will be released on June 26th at the Build conference.

Who is the Target Customer for Surface Windows 8 Pro?

The embargo lifted on Surface Windows 8 Pro or as I will call it, Surface Pro, reviews and out of the gate, most tech news sites had a “meh” conclusion. The device, they claimed, is neither a great tablet nor a great Ultrabook. Hence, their take away was that it is not a good device for either use case. A few sites mentioned that it is not for all, but for those who need such a device, it is a great one for them.

Who is the target customer for such a device? Is it a big enough market for Microsoft to pursue, or is it a niche that may explode in the future?

First, let’s remove the obvious non-market. This device is not for those who have truly moved into the “post-PC era” and are ok using just a tablet for their computing needs. It means they either don’t need programs that need a “computer”, or they have decent alternatives available in the tablet’s app marketplace to accomplish all their computing on the tablet. For such a market (many of the tech writers may be in this category, since most of their work is writing and with decent keyboard attachments, they can somehow make it work), a tablet like the iPad with a much lower cost and a much better battery life may easily be a better choice than the Surface Pro.

Surface Pro is also not for those who don’t mind carrying two devices around, or having two devices in general. They have a computer, perhaps even an actual desktop PC, where they do all their work. In addition, they have a tablet where they do most of their “play”, and have some sort of connectivity established to their workplace email so they can keep on top of email while they are away from the office. These folks are perfectly ok with two separate devices because they may not be carrying both around much.

There is an important market though, which many/most of the reviewers failed to recognize, either due to ignorance or oversight. The typical office worker. Millions of employees around the world are handed a laptop when they join a company. Earlier, it used to be dull Windows PCs from a single supplier. Nowadays the choice has expanded to include Macs as well. However, many of these office workers also carry tablets around the office because they don’t want to or they don’t need to carry their PCs around to conference rooms and to meetings. These folks will absolutely love the Surface Pro (especially the ones who did not choose a Mac :-)).

For the office worker, the Surface Pro provides a powerful PC for all they do at their desk, but instead of leaving the PC at the desk and carrying a separate tablet to meetings, or to use at home for “play”, they can have the same device for both those purposes. Since the “work PC” is normally plugged in, the lower battery life of Surface Pro compared to the iPad would not be a big factor. Also, since the device won’t be used purely as a tablet, the slightly higher weight compared to most tablets would also not be a concern.

On the other hand, having one device instead of two would be a benefit in favor of the Surface Pro. The Surface Pro would weigh less than the combined weight of a PC and a tablet, and because it is one machine, the office worker would not need to keep shuttling files between the two devices with or without the cloud. Also, there would be no issues about apps and application compatibility and maintaining document fidelity. All these are important considerations for many, many employees around the world.  Needless to say, there were many on the Surface Pro team’s Reddit Ask Me Anything thread who claimed that they would be getting a Surface Pro (or their company is testing the device for mass deployment, or as one person said, it would be great to load Linux and use it!).

From the CIO’s perspective, the Surface Pro offers an ideal solution to the BYOD movement. Since it runs Windows, it is a highly manageable device, and it would work with all the existing management infrastructure. The CIO gets to sleep at night, and the employees get something that is thin, light and works for work and works for play.

There may be other scenarios too, where the Surface Pro may work quite well, but I focused mostly on the biggest piece of the pie, the enterprise worker.

What’s your take? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

60 Million Windows 8 Licenses

At the JP Morgan Tech Forum at CES 2013, the Chief Marketing Office and Chief Financial Officer of Windows, Tami Reller stated that Windows 8 has sold 60 million licenses so far. This includes licenses sold to OEMs to install on new devices as well as upgrades sold directly to customers. Additionally, she also said that this is approximately in line with Windows 7 sales.

This announcement is the third key data point we have been given by Microsoft with regard to Windows 8 sales. At the end of the first month of sales, Microsoft announced on their blog that they had sold 40 million licenses after the first month of general availability.

Before that, at Microsoft’s developer conference //build/, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that over the weekend after Windows 8 was generally available, they had sold 4 million upgrade licenses.

There are some other interesting data points provided today in relation to the Windows 8 momentum. The first, related to developer interest, is that the number of apps in the Windows Store has quadrupled since the Store opened. The second, related to consumer interest in the apps, is that the Windows Store passed the 100 million apps downloaded milestone.

This is a terrible market for traditional PCs. These Windows 8 and Windows Store show that despite the steep fall in consumer interest in PCs and the obvious resistance to Windows 8 by enterprises, Microsoft may actually have an interesting story to tell in 2013. The reason being, more and more made-for-Windows 8 devices are coming to the market (as evidenced by the announcements at CES 2013), and some of the trendsetting enterprises may start taking a look at Windows 8 finally.

2012 was the year Microsoft changed virtually every product in their portfolio. 2013 is the year they build upon it.

 

Remove Metro UI from Windows 8 with Ex7ForW8

Windows 8’s new Modern UI (Metro) hasn’t exactly wowed users as Microsoft was hoping it would. For me, the biggest annoyance with Windows 8 is its jarring and conflicting nature. I had detailed my frustrations with the Metro UI more than a year back. Unfortunately, not a lot has changed since then. The full-screen app layout might make a lot of sense on smaller form-factors; however, it feels crippled on a laptop. Windows, which was one regarded as the king of multi-tasking, sacrificed one of its biggest features in an attempt to become modern.

To be honest, not everything about the Modern UI is bad. The Start screen is definitely a big improvement. It’s not only beautiful to look at, but it is also pretty productive. The Market is something that Windows should have received a long time back. And, SkyDrive integration is really handy. However, if you feel that the Windows 8 Metro UI is more trouble than it’s worth, then you can easily nix it.

Windows-8-Remove-Metro

A new portable Windows 8 application called Ex7ForW8 (Explorer 7 for Windows 8) allows you to enjoy all the performance and security benefits of Windows 8, while removing the Modern UI. Ex7ForW8 is actually a wrapper to the Windows 7 explorer.exe. Once installed, it will automatically launch Windows 7’s Explorer on boot and hide all traces of the Metro UI. It doesn’t actually modify any system and protected registry entries. So, you can easily switch back to the old UI by switching shells from the app. The app itself works as advertized, with the only drawback being that you will need to supply the WIndows 7 explorer.exe as the app doesn’t include one in its package.

[ Download Ex7ForW8 ]

via BetaNews

Windows Blue: Free, Annual Upgrades for Windows

Windows-BlueIt’s been just about a month since Windows 8 was released, but Microsoft is already hard at work on its successor. Of course, this isn’t really surprising. However, what is surprising is that Microsoft might be gearing up to launch Windows 8’s successor as early as next year.

The Verge is reporting that Microsoft plans on ditching its traditional big-bang release cycle in favor of a more iterative annual release cycle. The next Windows OS, which is currently going by the codename ‘Windows Blue’, is slated for launch in mid-2013. It will reportedly include UI changes and alterations to the entire platform. The Windows SDK will also be updated, and in a move that will surely infuriate developers, once Blue is released, Microsoft will stop accepting apps coded using the Windows 8 SDK in the Store. Thankfully, Blue will be fully backward compatible, and will be capable of running Windows 8 apps. The most interesting thing about Blue is that Microsoft plans on making the upgrade extremely cheap or even free for current Windows users.

Although Windows Blue is a dramatic departure from the tradional Windows release cycle, it does make a lot of sense. While previous versions of Windows were tasked with simply maintaining or improving Microsoft’s dominance in the PC market, Windows 8 has the additional burden of making Microsoft competitive in the tablet segment, where it is a late-entrant and an underdog. Without rapid iterations, it will be virtually impossible for Microsoft to remain competitive with Android and iOS, both of which offer free, annual upgrades.

Windows 8 is Not the New Vista, 40 Million Licenses Sold

Windows-8Recently, the blogosphere was abuzz with reports that Microsoft’s Windows 8 was a dud, as it had failed to meet projections. While there might have been some truth in those stories, the reports of Windows 8’s doom were undoubtedly greatly exaggerated. Tami Reller, corporate vice president for Windows, has revealed the actual sales figured for Windows 8, and they aren’t all that bad.

According to Reller, Microsoft has sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses so far. It’s not clear if Microsoft is reporting the number of units sold to end-users or the number of units shipped to retailers. The latter figure is almost always bloated, since it includes units sitting in the shelves waiting to be sold.

To put things into perspective, Windows 7 sold 60 million copies during the first ten weeks. So, Windows 8 is selling at least as well as (if not better than) Windows 7. Considering that Windows 7 was the fastest selling Windows in the history, this is hardly a bad performance. The sales figures look even better if you consider that Windows 7 was coming off the back of Vista, which was widely considered a flop. Even when Windows 7 was released, most of the people were using Windows XP, which was nearing its end of life. Consumers as well as enterprises were eager to upgrade to a newer, better operating system. Windows 8 doesn’t quite have the same advantage. On the other hand, Windows 8 has benefited from the extremely tempting upgrade offers ($39.99 for Windows 8 Pro). Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 8 is indeed outpacing Windows 7 in terms of upgrades.

Windows 8 represents a bold new direction for Microsoft. It not only has to maintain Microsoft’s dominance in the PC segment, but it also has to shoulder the responsibility of making Microsoft competitive in the post-PC segment. Microsoft badly needs Windows 8 to succeed. According to Paul Thurrott, Windows 8’s initial sales figures are well below internal estimates. Microsoft believes that Windows 8 would have sold even better if its OEM partners had more high quality hardware on offer, and it is probably right. Although a number of Windows 8 powered tablets, ultrabooks, and laptops have been announced by various manufacturers, most stores across the US are yet to stock them. However, the good news is that even if Windows 8 isn’t setting the market on fire, it is doing fairly well. It’s not the new Vista as many had feared it would be.

How to Check Compatibility of Apps and Devices with Windows 8

The biggest decision before you make your upgrade decision or the hardest chore after an upgrade is checking compatibility of apps that you use daily or have bought licenses of and the peripheral devices that you’ve purchased already. Windows Compatibility Center is the perfect resource for information on the same. The Windows Compatibility Center lists thousands of the most popular apps and devices to help you easily identify what will or won’t work with various versions of Windows.

While the site has been there before, it has been revamped for Windows 8 now. You can check compatibility of apps across different categories and diverse range of devices with Windows 7, Windows RT, and Windows 8.

The compatibility is determined in two ways. One, when the product has passed Windows certification requirements and received a logo, which indicates it has met Microsoft testing requirements for compatibility with either Windows 8, Windows RT and/or Windows 7. Second, when the app publisher or device manufacturer states that the product works with Windows 8, Windows RT and/or Windows 7.

The Compatible icon means the product is expected to work with the specified version of Windows. Usually, you won’t need to do anything to ensure compatibility, however, if a manufacturer or publisher offers a newer version or extra software is required, you’ll find an additional link to the publisher’s website. Certain devices (like my HP PhotoSmart Plus B210 All-in-One Printer) are indicated to have limited functionality on Windows RT, and you’d be pointed to specific details regarding the same.

The Action recommended icon indicates that you may need a solution to ensure that a product will work properly with Windows. Below ‘Action recommended’ you’ll find a link to the publisher’s website. The Not compatible icon, of course, means that the product is not compatible, or is not expected to work with Windows and the No info icon means that the compatibility information is yet to be confirmed.

On a product page, you can vote the product as compatible or not compatible. The product listing includes the community rating of the compatibility which would indicate the real-world scenario. The page also pulls discussions on the products from Microsoft Community (formerly Microsoft Answers). You can also click anywhere on the product listing to bring up a product details page to get downloads for drivers and software updates.

Experiencing Windows 8: From Exasperating to Adoring

First of all, here’s some history. When Windows 8 was first shown in ‘Allthings D’ conference last year, I was skeptical  The interface was intuitive on a touch enabled device, but for a non-touch device, I was not so sure. And with that in mind, I tried the very first release for the public, the Developer Preview or DP and as expected, I was not impressed. It didn’t feel quite that well when used with a keyboard and mouse. I went back to Windows 7 in around three days. The same was the case with the Consumer Preview. And although I downloaded the Release Preview as soon it was released, for some reason, I didn’t even bother installing it.

Last month, I got access to the RTM version of Windows 8 via the Dreamspark subscription. Since it was the final version, I decided to give it a chance. And on September 29th, I finally installed Windows 8 on my primary system as the only OS. I was certain that if I had installed it along with Windows 7 as a dual boot setup, I would just keep on switching back and forth between the two operating systems and that wouldn’t be doing a fair assessment and would just lead to decrease in productivity. So, here’s my initial experience with Windows 8 RTM and how it has evolved over time.

Initial Setup

The installation was smooth with the need of minimal user interference. Microsoft has really worked on improving the installation experience through the years from Vista onwards. Unfortunately for me, the simplicity ended right there. I had to face some driver issues, particularly with the Wi-Fi driver. Since Windows 8 was not yet released, I couldn’t find drivers on the manufacturer’s website. And, there was no generic driver available. I tried installing Windows 7 driver, but it gave me an error. But ultimately, I was able to solve the issue by installing the same driver in compatibility mode.

Apps

The next thing to do after installing Windows was of course installing the required apps. Now I use a multitude of apps ranging from big software like Visual Studio and Photoshop to tiny applications like NetWorx. I could install all of them on the new setup without any hassle. But the big change here is the introduction of the new Modern (formerly metro) applications.  Although Windows 8 was not released, there were still around 4000+ apps in the Windows Store which I think is incredible. But how many of it were actually usable or more importantly, does it include the apps that I need was the real question. Windows 8 comes with a bunch of useful apps such as Mail, Messaging, Bing News and which are really nice. I was particularly fond of People Hub and Photos app. The People hub connects to various major social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and shows updates and notifications. The Photos app aggregate photos from various services including your photo library to one location.

Although I couldn’t find replacement for the majority of my software, there were quite a few nice apps that I liked. Being a heavy user of various social networks, the first few apps that I downloaded were the ones for various social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.  For Twitter, I am using MetroTwit which is very good. I used to have Fliptoast for Facebook, but recently it started crashing on me, even after doing a reinstall. So I am pretty much using the Facebook web interface as of now, until there’s a good app. Another important app that I required was a good reader for fetching feeds from Google Reader. I rely on Google Reader heavily for keeping up with the latest developments on technology as well as information security. Fortunately for me, I keep some good company. Ed Bott directed me to an excellent app called Feed Reader (which is a paid app). I also discovered a free app called Flux which was really nice, but didn’t have all the features that Feed Reader had. For browser, rather than using the default IE10 as my primary browser, I installed the metro version of Chrome. The metro is just in the name and it looks just like the original Chrome window maximized with the title-bar removed. But that did the job for me as I wanted a browser that would display the tabs by default whereas with IE10, one has to right click in order to see the open tabs.

As I mentioned earlier, the majority of the software I am using are legacy desktop apps and although it is not really inconvenient to switch back and forth between desktop and start screen, when you are forced to use desktop for simple tasks like copying files, it feels like a compromise, something that Sinofsky had said you wouldn’t have to deal with.

So, what Microsoft has to do here is to maintain developer interest in the new OS and to make sure that Windows Store gets all those popular apps that people care about. How well the developers accept the new OS will have a huge impact on the market share for Windows, especially for Windows RT which will only be able to run Windows Store apps.

Usability

Once I had all the apps in order, the biggest challenge for me was to get used to the operating system itself, especially the Charms bar. For example, while using the Music app, I was foolishly looking for the volume changer while it was in the Charms bar (which had to be opened by swiping from the right edge of the screen or by hovering the mouse to the top/bottom right corner). Charms bar provides a set of commonly used commands and settings option that could change with the app that is currently open. For example, when you have a webpage open, you can share it on a social network or email it to a friend using the Charms bar. Once I got accustomed to Charms bar, it was much easier to use Windows 8. I knew exactly where to look and that made a hell lot of difference. For using general settings or for interacting between apps, use the Charms bar and for viewing the specific app settings or controls, you can right click the app or swipe down from top of the screen. Once you get hold of this, Windows 8 will be pretty much easy to use.

Then there are things that I hated first, but as I got to use it, I started loving it. The snapping of apps was one such feature. I was not a fan of the fact that you cannot snap two apps side by side like in Windows 7. One app will go into a minimized state whereas the other one will take the majority of the screen real estate. But after using Windows 8 for a few weeks, I have started loving this feature. I can read articles from Bing News or Feed Reader while the Music app or Metrotwit is snapped to the side for easy viewing of ‘Now Playing’ list or my Twitter feed. And when I need traditional multitasking, I just go to the desktop.

Some of the issues I had issues with Windows 8 were solved with driver updates. Previously, when I was using Windows 7, after I unplugged the HDMI cable that connected my laptop to an external display, the display would automatically reset to the default laptop panel. But that was not the case with Windows 8. I had to first change the display before unplugging the cable. This issue has since been solved after a driver update. Also the Synaptics driver for the touchpad still has some inconsistencies. Vertical scrolling is only present in desktop mode and doesn’t work with start screen for some reason. I’m hoping that this will also be fixed soon like the display driver.

Conclusion

It’s been a month since I started using Windows 8. And how has it affected my life? I can now safely say that it has transformed me from a web person into an app person. Previously, I just used Chrome to check my mail, Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader. I now use different apps for each of those tasks. My mornings now start with reading news using the Bing News app along with my morning coffee. I listen to my favourite albums using the Music app, surf twitter using Metrotwit and when I stumble on an article I feel like sharing, I just use the share option in the Charms bar. I use Feed Reader to keep up with the latest happening in the world of technology and when I need it, I head to desktop to use Word 2010 or Visual Studio 2012. It’s all good.

And what’s better? The performance of my computer has improved a lot from what was with Windows 7. Now my laptop takes just around 10 seconds to boot which is incredible considering the fact that Windows 7 took around a minute to boot.  The battery life has also increased but not by a great margin.

Wrapping up, I would say that Windows 8 is like a roller coaster rider. You might be a little bit afraid to get into one at first and might not feel comfortable during the initial climb, but once you get comfortable, it’s one hell of a joy ride.

It is fast, fluid and intuitive and has improved a lot from the early DP or CP stages that I had encountered earlier. Microsoft’s biggest challenge now would be to educate its user base and to make sure that they do not dump the OS before they realize how great it is. So my advice to everyone going to try Windows 8 is, give it a chance and give yourself a little bit of time to get accustomed to it. Because once you get the hang of it, there’s a very good chance that you are going to love it, just like I did.

 

[Windows 8] What’s Missing in the Mail App?

So, yes, Windows 8 RTM is here. And one of the first things I did was to configure my Hotmail Outlook.com email address on the new Mail app. While the user interface is slick and uses the screen estate in a brilliant way, there are some quirks that make me go back to Outlook or Outlook.com.

Sync
This might be an isolated incident with me, but the sync when the account is set up for the first time is awkward. I had to click on every folder separately to download the emails in that folder.

Flags
Am I missing something or is there no way to flag an email or access the flagged emails? I like Outlook.com’s feature of pinning the flagged emails on the top of the Inbox. In Outlook, I can access them in the right pane.

Move
While the Hotmail/Outlook.com team has been working to mimic desktop app like experience with features like drag-and-drop emails and right-click on folders, all that is deeply missed in the Windows 8 app. Moving an email to a different folder requires three steps that are anything but fluid.

Calendar
The Mail app does not integrate with the Calendar app. There is no way to create an appointment from an email message or accept calendar invites in email.

Folder Management
The app does not offer any functionality to create a folder or modify the folder structure. Also, there is no way to empty the Junk or Deleted Items folder in one go. No, seriously, there isn’t.