Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 14, 2012 - 03:34 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 8, Windows 7
Microsoft is expected to announce their upgrade promotion for users to purchase a Windows 7 PC after early June and move up to Windows 8 when it is released. Unlike past promotions, such as Office 2010 and Windows 7, it is expected that you will have the option to be bumped to the Pro level SKU -- but not for free. While this does not rule out the potential for a free upgrade to Windows 8 Home, Mary-Jo Foley of CNET seems to have not heard that from her sources.
People constantly mock computers for having a very quick apparent turnaround time.
There tends to be a desire in consumers to put off purchasing new equipment. Users know that patience will very often yield more for the same cost. Software is no different which is why Microsoft and others offer initiatives to allow users to upgrade to impending releases with the purchase of the current version.
But wait, if you order now -- you can order later!
On or around June 2nd, Microsoft is expected to unveil their upgrade program for users who will purchase a Windows 7 machine. According to Mary-Jo Foley of CNET and her sources, this time you will be able to upgrade your Windows 7 machine to Windows 8 Pro. This upgrade will not be free but is expected to be under a hundred dollars according to leaked promotional content. Targeting June is designed to prevent sales of Windows 7 PCs dropping off for back to school.
The upgrade to Windows 8 Pro makes sense as it allows the addition of Windows Media Center and other features that were available in the lower end versions of Windows 7. I think you could imagine what a user would feel like if they updated their operating system and lost features that they could not even add back in to their “upgraded” version.
Of course the better option would likely have been to rethink removing features if they feel as though vanilla Windows 8 is not an apples-to-apples comparison to Windows 7 Home Premium.
Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2012 - 06:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows media center, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, upgrade, htpc
News is circulating around the Internet that Microsoft is taking Windows Media Center out of Windows 8 and offering it as a separate paid add-on for Windows 8 Pro users. Many are not happy about the decision.
Windows Media Center is an application developed by Microsoft that provides a TV friendly interface for all the media on your computers including photos, videos, music, and television. That last function is quite possibly the biggest feature of WMC as it allows users to ditch their cable set top box (STB) and turn their computer into a TV tuner and DVR with the proper hardware.
Windows 8 Metro With Media Center Icon
The program debuted as a special edition of Windows called Windows XP Media Center Edition. It was then rolled into the general release of Windows Vista and then into many editions of Windows 7. Windows Media Center has a relatively small user base relative to the number of general Windows users, but they are a vocal and enthusiastic minority. About a month ago, I got a CableCard from Comcast (after a week of... well, let’s just say it’s not a pleasant experience) and after pairing it with the HDHomeRun Prime and my Windows 7 machines, i was able to watch and record TV on any of the computers in my house as well as on the living room TV via an Xbox 360 acting as a Windows Media Center extender. I have to say that the setup is really solid, I have all the expandable DVR space I could want, and the WMC interface is so much snappier than any cable or satellite set top box I’ve ever used. Windows 7 became that much more valuable once I was able to utilize Windows Media Center.
With that said, it is still a niche feature and I understand that not everyone needs or wants to use it. It is even a feature that I would pay for should Microsoft unbundle it. Yet, when I read a bit of news concerning Windows 8 and WMC over the weekend, I was not happy at all. According to an article at Tested.com, Microsoft is going to unbundle Windows Media Center for Windows 8 into a separate downloadable Media Center pack with a currently unknown price (so far, I’m disappointed but still willing to accept it). The Media Center pack will be made available for purchase and download using the “Add Features To Windows 8” control panel option–what was known as Windows Anytime Upgrade in previous versions of Windows.
Windows Media Center in Windows 7 - TV Guide
What is confusing (and what I find infuriating) is that users will only be able to purchase the Media Center pack if they are using the Pro version of Windows 8, leaving home users out of luck. Due to Windows 8 Pro essentially being the Ultimate Edition of previous Windows versions, it is definitely going to cost more than the base version, and that is rather disconcerting. I have no problem paying for the Media Center pack, but I do have a problem with Microsoft artificially limiting who has the right to purchase it to begin with. It just seems downright greedy of them and is a big disservice to Media Center’s faithful users. Microsoft should go with one method or the other, not both. For example, they should unbundle Media Center, and allow users of any desktop (not RT, in other words) Windows 8 version to purchase it. Alternatively, if they are going to limit Media Center to be a Pro version only feature, it should be a free download. Users should not have to pay for the privilege to pay for the software, especially when Microsoft has said that Windows 8 Media Center will not be very different from the one in Windows 7 and will only contain minor improvements.
Rick Broida of PC World has been a bit more straightforward in stating his opinion of Microsoft’s decision in saying “I’m hopping mad.” And I tend to agree with his sentiments, except for WMC needing to be free. I’d be happy to pay for it if it means Microsoft continues to support it. I just have an issue with the pricing situation that the news of the decision is suggesting. To be fair, Microsoft has not yet released final pricing information, so it may not be as bad as I’m thinking. Even so, the news that they are making WMC a paid add on and are limiting it to Windows 8 Pro only leaves a rather bad aftertaste. Mr. Broida encourages HTPC users to not upgrade, and to stick with Windows 7. I don’t think I’m at that point yet (though I get where he’s coming from), but I will say that Windows 8 was a tough sell before I heard this news, and the WMC news isn’t helping. I can only hope that Microsoft will reconsider and, dare I say it, do the right thing for their users here.
Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2012 - 07:04 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: winRT, windows 8 on arm, windows 8, Metro
So Microsoft has officially stated in a blog post that their upcoming Windows 8 operating system will indeed be called “Windows 8” upon release and will come in four SKUs, three of which normal people will have use for and care about.
The three consumer oriented distributions or SKUs will be Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows RT [previously Windows On Arm]. The fourth SKU will be Windows 8 Enterprise and it will take all the features of Windows 8 Pro and then sprinkle in some IT management and volume licensing goodies to keep the majority of their customers (businesses) happy.
Windows 8 (non Pro) is essentially the same feature level of operating system that Windows 7 Home Premium is now. On the other hand, Windows 8 Pro is what Windows 7 Ultimate is today. Both new Win 8 OSes are x86 and x64 based and will be the two consumer options available to upgrade to from Windows 7. Windows 8 delivers about what one would expect, media and general desktop features, multi-monitor support, media player, media center, Windows Defender, the Metro UI, Storage Spaces, and the updated Internet Explorer (among others). One interesting addition to Windows 8 (and Windows 8 Pro for that matter) is the ability to switch languages on the fly -- a feature that was previously reserved for the Ultimate edition of Windows.
Windows 8 Pro then incorporates all the features of Windows 8 and adds some important tools for worker bees and students including Group Policy, being a Remote Desktop host, BitLocker (and Bitlocker To Go) encryption, and the ability to join a domain (necessary for some students, depending on university). There are a few other goodies in the Pro version, but one nice touch is that the Pro version will be able to include Windows Media Center with an additional “media pack” download.
Windows RT is the third important SKU, despite the odd name. This new entrant is the official name for the ARM version of Windows 8. This version will only come pre-installed on certain computer systems (who have partnered with MS) meaning that Raspberry Pi users are out of luck and consumers will not be able to purchase Windows RT separately and install it on their own. This version will include the Windows desktop, language switching, multiple monitors, a VPN client, Windows Defender, device encryption (but no BitLocker), and a slew of Microsoft Office apps with updated touch-oriented interfaces. Windows RT takes many of the features of Windows 8 Pro but strips out a few things here and there to trim down the OS.
I’m glad that the previous rumors of approximately eight separate Windows 8 SKUs turned out to be false! Beyond that, I’m still absorbing the announcement and trying to figure out why they are calling it Windows RT (why not keep it simple and call it Windows On Arm). What are your thoughts on the announcement? Are you ready for Windows 8? A Microsoft chart with more information on the feature differences between the various SKUs can be found here.
Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2012 - 02:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows on arm, windows 8, microsoft, arm
The Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been out for a few weeks now, and despite the controversy around the new interface it does seem to be coming along nicely as far as development and bug testing is concerned. While the Windows On ARM has received much less attention and Microsoft has publicly released very little about it, we can only assume that the company is working hard on getting it up and running on upcoming ARM tablets.
There have been several reports on release time frames, and the general consensus for the Windows 8 release will be Q4 2012 at the latest. Alternatively, if Bloomberg's sources "with knowledge of the schedule" are to be believed, the public will be getting both Intel and ARM versions of Windows 8 a bit earlier than expected. Specifically, Microsoft has chosen their upcoming operating system to "go on sale around October." Microsoft will also be releasing more specific dates during an event for its hardware partners in April.
Apparently, Microsoft has been rather strict with device makers in regards to hardware configurations allowed for launch devices that are to be powered by the Windows on ARM version of Windows 8. Of the ARM launch devices, only three of them will be tablets. Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows business, has stated that both the ARM and Intel/AMD versions of Windows 8 will be released at the same time, and that “I wouldn’t be saying it’s a goal if I didn’t think we could do it.” Microsoft restricting the designs is likely the reason they are able to get WoA out of the door at the same time as the tried and true x86 and x64 versions.
More information on Windows 8 can be found around the site:
- Set up Windows 8 Consumer Preview in a virtual machine
- Windows on ARM details
- No more Start Button in Windows 8
- Windows 8 Defender at risk of anti-trust violation?
- Windows 8 news via the "windows 8" tag!
Subject: Mobile | March 13, 2012 - 10:35 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: WOA, windows 8, tablets, nokia, microsoft, arm
Earlier this year we heard talk of several planned Windows On ARM tablets that would run the upcoming Windows 8 operating system, and now more planned tablets have emerged. Asus is planning to release four Windows 8 tablets (two WOA versions), and according to Digitimes, Nokia will be joining the fray with their own WOA tablets.
Allegedly, Nokia will launch a 10" ARM tablet powered by Qualcomm's dual core System on a Chip (SoC) processor. The tablet will run the Windows on ARM version of Windows 8, and their sources have expressed that the Nokia tablet will further fuel the mobile tablet market and provide healthy competition for the iPad juggernaut.
Further, according to "sources at upstream component suppliers," Nokia will be outsourcing the manufacturing of their Windows 8 tablet to Compal Electronics. Also, the sources have stated that the first production batch will consist of 200,000 units.
Don't forget to check out our guide on virtualizing Windows 8 to get an idea of how the new interface works. More information on the Windows On ARM front as it develops.
Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2012 - 12:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: win8, windows 8, Metro
As many have done recently, The Tech Report downloaded the consumer preview of Windows 8 to try out the new interface from the perspective of a power user. While many glowing reviews of the OS have come from those who love the idea that their computer could just become a big phone, those of us who do far more with PCs have run into issues. One of the nastiest changes seems to be the complete removal of the Start button and breaking the registry hack that would restore it on the earlier beta version. The obvious preference for a touch interface makes keyboard and mouse control awkward at times, though once you manage to start the program you are looking for the response is the same as it was on previous versions of Windows. Not all was doom and gloom however, there are some positive points to designing a consistent touch interface which will work on your phone, tablet, laptop and desktop.
"In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan gets acquianted with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and explores how the Metro interface affects the traditional desktop."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- A Look at the Windows 8 Consumer Preview @ SemiAccurate
- Unknown Bash Tips and Tricks For Linux @ Linux.com
- 2-for-1: Can Windows 8 satisfy both the desktop and the tablet? @ Ars Technica
- Asustek to launch Cedar Trail-based netbook in March @ DigiTimes
- Samsung ST96 Camera Review @ Tech-Reviews
- The TR Podcast 107: Chasing Ivy and mechanical keyboards
- Win an LG Optimus 3D, and £50 Credit from Three! @ Tech-Reviews
- Win a £550 solid state drive with our partners ARIA @ Kitguru
- Weekly Giveaway #23: Thecus N2800 SMB NAS Server @ eTeknix
Microsoft's juggernaut Windows operating system powers on with the company preparing Windows 7's successor in Windows 8. The new operating system (OS) was first released for public consumption during the last BUILD conference in the form of a "Developer Preview." This release was mainly intended for software developers to start to get a feel for the OS and its new features, but many consumers and technology enthusiasts also took a peek at the OS to get an idea of where MS was going with its next OS.
Coinciding with Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2012, Microsoft released the next iteration of the in progress OS, and this time it is aimed at getting consumer feedback. The aptly named Consumer Preview build is now available for download by anyone interested.
Windows 8 Consumer Preview Desktop
The question many consumers and enthusiasts are likely asking; however, is what to do with the MS provided ISO, and what the safest and easiest method for testing the beta operating system is. One appropriate answer, and the method covered in this guide, is to use a virtual machine program to test the Windows 8 Consumer Preview inside a VM without needing to muck with or worry about effecting your existing system or settings. Installing to bare hardware will always be faster, but if you upgrade to Windows 8 CP from Windows 7, you will not be able to go back once the beta period is over. By installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview inside a virtual machine will allow you to test out the operating system in a secure environment, and if you have a recent machine with at least 4 GB of RAM, performance of the OS should be sufficient to get an idea of the new OS and whether you want to pursue a bare hardware full install.
I expect that many users are going to be curious about the new build as the Windows 8 OS has ignited several heated debates among enthusiasts concerning the direction Microsoft is going. The new Metro interface, removal of Start Menu, and the overhauled Windows logo are three of the major concerns users have raised, for example.
The specific program in question that we will be using is Oracle's VirtualBox software, which is a free VM host that is very easy to setup and use. Another alternative is VMWare, and the setup process will be very similar (though the exact steps and settings will differ slightly). This guide will show you how to go from the Windows 8 ISO to a fully functional installation inside a VirtualBox virtual machine. If you are familiar with setting up a new VirtualBox VM, you can safely skip those steps. I felt it prudent to go through the entire process; however, for those new to VirtualBox that wish to try out the new Microsoft OS.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 21, 2012 - 01:21 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: antivirus, windows 8
Imagine if it were illegal for a dominant homebuilder to sell a house with locks on the door to be fair to the market of locksmiths?
The legality of Microsoft’s planned upgrades to its Windows Defender security suite has been questioned in an article up at ZDNet Asia. While the article itself is very correct in its analysis of the situation it does implicitly ask at what point a market should be obsolete.
Does it really protect consumers to intentionally unbundle security from a core application? Is it better to unbundle security to promote an industry worth of companies with products designed to successfully do little more than alert you when a breach has occurred?
Industry status - Not Protected
Despite the wording of the above three paragraphs, the answer actually is not simple. There is a lot of merit to disallowing the bundling of internal security applications and protect the antivirus industry.
Ponder this, what if Microsoft’s system was really bad? Would promoting competition ultimately drive for a stronger and more secure product in the end? Or alternatively, would the pressure from the attackers themselves be sufficient competition to not need to protect antivirus companies?
It really is an interesting problem when you look into it. What do you think? The comments await, and registration is not required to voice your opinion.
Subject: General Tech | February 13, 2012 - 01:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, windows, OS, microsoft, logo
That fluttering window containing flag that would carry Microsoft into Operating System dominance on the, er, wind of success debuted with Windows 3.0 in 1990. As the years have passed, the company has made alterations and updates to keep the design modern. After 22 years of ingraining into people's minds that the flag logo is Windows, Microsoft may be ditching it in favor of a new minimalistic monochromatic affair. According to Chinese site cnBeta.com, Microsoft will roll out the new Windows logo with the launch of Windows 8. Allegedly, the new logo will be four turquoise panels with a shifted perspective and separated by interior white borders. The site claims that the evidence lies in a logo photo and a photograph of a physical "Windows" button on a tablet.
Personally, I think Microsoft would be crazy to change their logo, and especially insane to switch to this particular alleged new logo. Minimalist designs certainly have their place, but the colorful Windows logo that we are all used to has always done a good job of catching the eye (and four blue-green rectangles just don't do it for me). Not to mention that the company has had 22 years to burn into the minds of consumers that the logo is Windows, and it will be difficult for people to accept the new logo. There is definitely a certain amount of nostalgia and consumer confidence associated with the "old" logo, and it seems odd that Microsoft would be so cavalier to throw it away just to make their logo look better on the Metro desktop. Perhaps if they were changing direction and entering a different market or if they had a line of crappy products they would want a new logo, but that really does not seem to be the case. Here's hoping the photos are just fake. On the other hand, if Microsoft does end up taking out the start button it's not like people will be seeing the new logo anyway (heh).
What are your thoughts on the new logo? Am I off base in thinking that the current logo has a lot of "mindshare" built up and it would be crazy to just leave it behind?
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 11:19 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, windows, start orb, start button, microsoft, crazy
Microsoft is continuing full steam ahead with Windows 8 development where they axe many of the familiar features of previous Windows iterations. According to a post over at The Verge, the latest feature to get removed is the start button of all things. In the "Consumer Preview" version of the upcoming operating system, users will be greeted with a desktop that shows application icons and the Super Bar, but no start button in sight.
Oddly enough, they are removing the Start button in favor of a small area in the lower left of the screen that, when hovered over with a mouse or swiped over on a touchscreen, a Windows 8 charm (small menu) will appear along with a thumbnail preview of the mode that will be switched to upon clicking the element. For example, when you are in the Metro Start Screen mode, hovering over this area would show a small preview of the full Windows desktop and vice versa.
I'm a bit confused by this move as it doesn't really add anything to the experience, and makes the start "button" hover area harder to hit and find. Tech support people are likely crying now, as it is difficult enough to get people to click on the start button much less have the patience to hover over an area or perform a swipe action in the lower left of the screen! Not to mention that the start button has been a signature of the Microsoft operating system since Windows 95. At least the Windows key (i hope) still works as expected, but it seems like a non sensical move. How do you guys feel about the change? Will you be keeping your relatives and/or employees on Windows 7 (heh)?