The sad tale of the refresh that failed to quench the desires of Windows users

Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2015 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, market share

Of the total PC market Windows holds just over 90%, Linux 1.57% and Mac around 8% which is about what it was a year ago.  The release of Windows 10 has not created a surge in Microsoft users, nor has it caused the migration to Linux that so many claimed they would do after the EoL of Windows XP.  Worse news for Microsoft is that there are more people using Windows 7 than there were 12 months ago, 55.71% compared to 53.05%.  Even Windows 8 users are not shifting in any significant amount, 13.22% compared to 16.8% last year.  Even with the dearth of new hardware to spur an upgrade cycle the numbers show that consumers have little to no interest in updating to Microsoft's newest platform.  Perhaps the negative press surrounding some of the contentious features which Microsoft introduced in the new OS have harmed the upgrade cycle in addition to the lack of a driving reason to do a full system upgrade.  For more on these interesting times in the PC market you can check the original story at The Inquirer.


"Things are almost stagnant elsewhere, which is a worry because it seems that, although Windows 10 is gaining ground, very slightly, it doesn't seem to be at the significant expense of anything else."

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Source: The Inquirer

Just Picked Up: Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2015 - 09:36 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, xbox, windows 10

As some have noticed, my recent “Just Delivered” post for the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller was not very... wireless. Simply put, the Elite does not come with a wireless adapter for Windows, because that would be useless for the console-only crowd, and its price was already high enough. While it was released on October 20th, the Xbox Canada website gave a server error for its product page until the 22nd.

It seemed like a bit of a rushed launch, to say the least.


Well, when I popped into EB Games on my walk today, I was surprised to find that they have stock. Yay. Installation was relatively simple. Open the box, stick it into an available USB port, wait for Windows 10 to recognize it, put batteries in your gamepad, turn the controller on, press both sync buttons, and wait until the Xbox logo (on the controller) turns a solid glow. From then on, you just need to turn the gamepad on and off by pressing and holding the Xbox logo, which takes about a count of fifteen to turn off.

A couple of additional notes. First, the adapter is said to support up to eight controllers. This is great, especially for indie developers who are interested in party games. Also, the ability to update controller firmware will be added via the “Xbox Accessories” app from Windows Store, which is the same one used to rebind gamepad inputs. That update will be available on November 12th (see "Headset audio issues through the controller"). Thanks to an anonymous comment for this info!

Also, this means that you pretty much should not get Xbox One accessories unless you're planning to run Windows 10.

Microsoft Publishes Windows 10 Build 10576 to Fast Insiders

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2015 - 06:23 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

It's unclear which changes will make it into the general release November update, but Insiders are still getting features early. Microsoft has just published Build 10576, which contains a few interesting additions, but one that stands out. Microsoft Edge will be able to cast (unprotected) content to any Miracast and DLNA device on your network. This could be something like a WDTV Live or an Amazon Fire TV. It might even work with the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, but that's just speculation from a quick Google search.


So basically, it works with YouTube, Facebook, Pandora, and other sources. It will not work with Netflix or Hulu, which use EME, though.

There are quite a few Known Issues with this build, though. Volume gets ducked when the system gets a notification, some devices will bluescreen if their display resolution is odd, a few codecs are still missing (although that last issue was around for a couple of builds).

If I were to guess, I would expect that these features are targeted for Threshold 2 in November. I doubt that we have seen anything scheduled for Redstone 1 yet, but I could be wrong.

Source: Microsoft

Video Perspective: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Preview

Subject: Mobile | October 27, 2015 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: video, surface pro 4, surface book, surface, Skylake, microsoft, Intel

In early October Microsoft took the wraps off of a pair of new 2-in-1 convertible notebooks in the form of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. The Surface Pro 4 is much like the previous tablet designs from the Redmond giant and includes a kick stand and optional Type Cover to make the tablet a notebook in terms of functionality. The update kicks up the processor to Intel's 6th generation Skylake design while increasing storage performance with NVMe Samsung SSDs.


The Surface Book is definitely the more interesting of the two devices with a unique design that is more notebook than tablet/2-in-1. The 13.5-in 3000x2000 3:2 screen tablet is detachable from a base that includes a full keyboard and track pad, additional battery and even an optional discrete NVIDIA GeForce GPU. The hinge is similar to the watch hinge that Lenovo introduced with the Yoga 3 Pro and uses something Microsoft calls "Muscle Wire" to keep the tablet and keyboard docked firmly using magnets.


Though I am really just getting started on the review process of these devices, I wanted to share a quick overview of both machines. Check it out in the video embedded below.

So what do you want to know about or see specifically tested on the Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book? Let us know in the comments below!

Microsoft Edge Extensions Delayed

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2015 - 07:28 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, edge

One thing that will not be in the November update for Windows 10 is extensions for Microsoft Edge. The browser should be updated in general, that feature needs a little more time before it is ready for the public. The official statement has the feature arriving in “a future Windows 10 update in 2016”. We still don't know how frequent these updates will occur, but Mary Jo Foley has sources that say “Redstone 1” will be released in June (give or take maybe?).


Microsoft also has not elaborated too much on what this extension model will be. The Ars Technica source reports that Microsoft will allow add-ons to be written in “HTML-plus-JavaScript” but they do not elaborate on whether privileged APIs will be available, and what those would be. Whatever is being planned, Microsoft has been dead-silent about it.

To me, this means that it's either far off, or completely mundane.

Source: Ars Technica

Windows 10 Update Details

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

We have been expecting a relatively major update to Windows 10 in the October-ish (which at some point the rumors slipped to November-ish) time frame since the OS launched in July. We already know much of what will be in it, based on the preview builds being sent to Windows Insider participants, so the contents are not really a surprise either. It will update a few user interface elements, tweak how System manages memory, and allow clean installs using Windows 7 and 8.1 product keys that qualify for Windows 10 upgrades.


Really, the major news is how the update will be delivered. I was honestly expecting to do the in-place upgrades that each new Insider build forced upon users. This made sense to me. If you have installed Windows 7 recently, you will know that it is a several-hour updating process that involves several reboots and gigabytes of patches. The build metaphor makes sense in a “Windows as a Service” universe, where all PCs are pushed from milestone to milestone with a few incremental patches in between.

Apparently, it will just be pushed down Windows Update in an item named “Windows 10 November 2015”. That's it. Pretty much the same experience as downloading service packs over Windows Update in previous versions. Oddly familiar, especially given the effort they put into the in-place upgrade interface over the last year and a bit.

Maybe we'll see that in future feature-updates?


Windows 10 Slow Ring Users Get First Post-Launch Build

Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2015 - 06:25 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Windows 10 Build 10565 was released last week to Fast Ring users. It was the fourth public build since release, and it contained the most listed changes of any of them. One major change is the ability to clean install Windows 10 with a Windows 7 or 8.x key. Previously, users would need to install their old OS and then upgrade it. This was particularly annoying for users who upgraded an old version of Windows to 10, did a reinstall of Windows 10 for some reason, and the activation servers didn't recognize them. The official solution in that case was to uninstall Windows 10, installed Windows 7 or 8.x again, then upgrade again. (Again, this is only if a Windows 10 reinstall failed to reactivate for some reason.)


Tonight, the bandages come off... or on. On. Definitely on.

That's last week's news, though. This week, they moved Build 10565 to Slow Ring and released ISOs for it. The interesting part is that Slow Ring users, until now, were still on the official build, 10240, alongside the general public. This is almost too close to the rumored November update of Windows 10 to be worth it. At the same time, they also chose the build with some of the more severe known issues to flight to the Slow users, such as the inability to use Search without Cortana. This makes me wonder if they pushed it just to release ISOs for the above reinstall with Windows 7/8.x key feature.

If you're a Slow Ring user that is still on 10240, then this is your last chance to disable Insider builds, if you are properly activated.


Podcast #370 - Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1, New Microsoft Surface products, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2015 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, gigabyte, z170x gaming g1, Skylake, microsoft, surface pro 4, surface book, Android, ios, iphone 6s, Samsung, 840 evo, msata, dell, UP3216Q, nvidia, pascal

PC Perspective Podcast #370 - 10/08/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1, New Microsoft Surface products, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:31:05

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:30:00 This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Audible, the world's leading provider of audiobooks with more than 180,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature including fiction, nonfiction, and periodicals. For your free audiobook, go to
  3. News item of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan: iPhone 6s Stallion
  5. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Microsoft Surface Book 2-in-1 with Skylake with NVIDIA Discrete GPU Announced

Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2015 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: video, surface book, surface, Skylake, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, geforce

Along with the announcement of the new Surface Pro 4, Microsoft surprised many with the release of the new Surface Book 2-in-1 convertible laptop. Sharing much of the same DNA as the Surface tablet line, the Surface Book adopts a more traditional notebook design while still adding enough to the formula to produce a unique product.


The pivotal part of the design (no pun intended) is the new hinge, a "dynamic fulcrum" design that looks great and also (supposedly) will be incredibly strong. The screen / tablet attachment mechanism is called Muscle Wire and promises secure attachment as well as ease of release with a single button.

An interesting aspect of the fulcrum design is that, when closed, the Surface Book screen and keyboard do not actually touch near the hinge. Instead you have a small gap in this area. I'm curious how this will play out in real-world usage - it creates a natural angle for using the screen in its tablet form but also may find itself "catching" coin, pens and other things between the two sections. 


The 13.5-in screen has a 3000 x 2000 resolution (3:2 aspect ratio obviously) with a 267 PPI pixel density. Just like the Surface Pro 4, it has a 10-point touch capability and uses the exclusive PixelSense display technology for improved image quality.

While most of the hardware is included in the tablet portion of the device, the keyboard dock includes some surprises of its own. You get a set of two USB 3.0 ports, a full size SD card slot and a proprietary SurfaceConnect port for an add-on dock. But most interestingly you'll find an optional discrete GPU from NVIDIA, an as-yet-undiscovered GeForce GPU with 1GB (??) of memory. I have sent inquiries to Microsoft and NVIDIA for details on the GPU, but haven't heard back yet. We think it is a 30 watt GeForce GPU of some kind (by looking at the power adapter differences) but I'm more interested in how the GPU changes both battery life and performance.

UPDATE: Just got official word from NVIDIA on the GPU, but unfortunately it doesn't tell us much.

The new GPU is a Maxwell based GPU with GDDR5 memory. It was designed to deliver the best performance in ultra-thin form factors such as the Surface Book keyboard dock. Given its unique implementation and design in the keyboard module, it cannot be compared to a traditional 900M series GPU. Contact Microsoft for performance information.


Keyboard and touchpad performance looks to be impressive as well, with a full glass trackpad integration, backlit keyboard design and "class leading" key switch throw distance.

The Surface Book is powered by Intel Skylake processors, available in both Core i5 and Core i7 options, but does not offer Core m-based or Iris graphics options. Instead the integrated GPU will only be offered with the Intel HD 520.


Microsoft promises "up to" 12 hours of battery life on the Surface Book, though that claim was made with the Core i5 / 256GB / 8GB configuration option; no discrete GPU included. 


Pricing on the Surface Book starts at $1499 but can reach as high as $2699 with the maximum performance and storage capacity options. 

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Includes Skylake, Iris Graphics

Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2015 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: video, surface pro 4, surface, Skylake, microsoft, iris, Intel, edram

Microsoft has finally revealed the next product in the Surface Pro tablet lineup, skipping the Broadwell processor generation and jumping straight to the latest Intel Skylake processors. The design is very similar to previous Surface Pro tablets but the upgrades and changes made for the Surface Pro 4 are impressive.


The kickstand design that has made the Surface recognizable remains the same but there is a solid collection of new features including a fingerprint reader and Microsoft Hello support for security and login. The new Pro 4 model is only 8.4mm thick (coming in just about 1mm thinner than the Pro 3) and is also lighter at 1.73 lbs.

The screen size is 12.3-inches with a 2736 x 1824 3:2 resolution for a pixel density of 267 PPI. It has a 10-point touch interface with drastically improved latency, palm detection and pressure sensitivity for the included Surface Pen. Even better, that improved Surface Pen will have a full year of battery life along with magnetic attachment to the tablet rather than relying on a elastic loop!

The Surface keyboard sees improvements as well including better spacing on the keys, quieter and more reliable typing and it also becomes the thinnest type cover MS has yet to build for the Surface line. A 5-point touch glass trackpad is now part of the deal, 40% larger than the one found on the Pro 3 - a welcome modification for anyone that has used the type cover in the past. 


In terms of computing horsepower, the Surface Pro 4 will be available with a Core m3, Core i5 or even a Core i7 processor. It will ship with 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of system memory and internal storage capacities as high as 1TB. Microsoft hasn't posted any more details about the clock speeds of these CPUs but if you look at the awesome hype video MS made for the Pro 4 launch, you'll notice an interesting thing in the exploded view: an Intel processor with three dies on a single package.


What you are seeing is the Skylake CPU, chipset and an eDRAM package. This tells us that at least one of the available options for the Surface Pro 4 will ship with Iris graphics and 64MB or 128MB of L4 cache / eDRAM - a first for this form factor! This should help improve performance for graphics as well as other specific CPU compute workloads.

Other highlights for the Surface Pro 4 include front facing stereo speakers, 8MP rear-facing camera and a fancy-ass Windows 10 logo.

Pricing will START at $899 but will spike to as high as $2699 if you max out the processor and storage options. 


We are working on getting a unit in for testing as the devices are going up for presale today and should arrive by October 26th.

Source: Microsoft