(WinSupersite) Surface 2 Reviewed

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 1, 2013 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, Surface 2

The Surface 2 is what happened to the Surface RT. Microsoft decided that "RT" has no place on this product except, of course, its software ("Windows RT") because they painted themselves into a corner on that one. The message is something like, "It's Windows RT 8.1 but not Windows 8.1; in fact, you cannot run that software on it". I expect, and you probably know I have voiced, that this all is a moot point in the semi-near future (and that sucks).

Microsoft's "Official" Surface 2 overviews.

Paul Thurrott down at his Supersite for Windows reviewed Surface 2 in terms of the original Surface RT. The inclusion of Tegra 4 was a major plus for him yielding "night and day" improvement over the previous Tegra 3. In fact, he thinks that everything is at least as good as the original. There is not a single point on his rubric where the Surface RT beats its successor.

Of course there is a single section where the Surface 2 lacks (it is shared with the Surface RT and I think you can guess what it is). The ecosystem, apps for Windows RT, is the platform's "Achilles Heel". It is better than it once was, with the inclusion of apps like Facebook, but glaring omissions will drive people away. He makes this point almost in passing but I, of course, believe this is a key issue.

It is absolutely lacking in key apps, and you will most likely never see such crucial solutions as full Photoshop, iTunes, or Google Chrome on this platform. But if we're being honest with ourselves here, as we must, these apps are, for better or worse, important. (The addition of Chrome alone would be a huge win for both Windows RT and Surface 2.)

I agree that this is the problem with the Windows RT platform and, in Google Chrome's case, the blame belongs to no-one but Microsoft. They will explicitly deny any web browser unless it is a reskin of Internet Explorer (using the "Trident" rendering system and their Javascript engine). You will not see full Firefox or full Google Chrome because Gecko, Servo, Webkit, and Blink are not allowed to be installed on end-user machines.

You are paying Microsoft to not let you install third party browsers. Literally.

Not only does this limit its usefulness but it also reduces the pressure to continue innovation. Why add developer features to Internet Explorer when you can control their use with Windows Store? Sure, Internet Explorer has been on a great trajectory since IE9. I would say that versions 10 and especially 11 could be considered "top 3" contenders as app platforms.

The other alternative is the web, and this is where Internet Explorer 11 plays such a crucial role. While many tier-one online services—Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Cloud Player and Prime Video, and so on—are lacking native Windows RT aps, the web interfaces (should) work fine, and IE 11 is evolving into a full-featured web app platform that should present a reasonable compromise for those users.

Only if Microsoft continues their effort. No-one else is allowed to.

Now that I expanded that point, be sure to check out the rest of Paul Thurrott's review. He broke his review down into sections, big and small, and stuck his opinion wherever he could. Also check out his preview of the Nokia Lumia 2520 to see whether that (if either device) is worth waiting for.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | August 14, 2013 - 05:46 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, mouse, microsoft, keyboard

I would normally begin a product announcement with some introduction but, this time, a quote from Mary Jo Foley seems a better fit:

These new peripherals work with Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows RT, though only "basic functionality" is provided when used with Windows RT.

Problems with Windows RT, it is now obvious, go beyond Ethernet dongles and I would be shocked if Microsoft Hardware are the only ones suffering. We have already heard Plugable, an adapter and peripherals company, complain about Microsoft and their demand for Plugable to pull Surface RT drivers from their website. I cannot see this being a few localized issues.

microsoft_kbmnum_desktop_hero.jpg

These are the problems you will experience with a platform where the owner has complete control. Imagine how bad Windows RT will be if Microsoft slips behind, again, in Internet Explorer development; the only browsers allowed must be Internet Explorer reskins. But I digress.

The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop is a mouse, keyboard, and number pad with a unique appearance. Non-uniform keys pushing upward to a split should conform to the hand of a typical home row typist. WASD gamers might as well stop reading by this point. Microsoft is not known for mechanical switches so I would expect this keyboard to be typical membrane-based activation.

microsoft_kbmnum_side.jpg

Side-on shows off the depth better.

That said, most Microsoft peripherals I have used tends to keep up with mechanical in terms of durability and performance... except wired Xbox headsets. Those little turds snap within a matter of hours.

The mouse, on the other hand (literally), does not seem to include extra mouse buttons except for a dedicated Windows button. If you have not figured it out by now: gamers are not the target audience. It seems fairly standard otherwise, from a feature standpoint, although comfort and durability are the big deciding factors for many users which we are not in a position to give an honest opinion on.

Together, the devices are available within the week and retail for $129.95. The keyboard, separately, will be available in September for $80.95; the mouse, separately, will be available for $59.95. High price, but it might just be worth it for dedicated typists.

Source: Microsoft

Surface Pro Has Ethernet... Surface RT Does Not.

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Mobile | July 6, 2013 - 12:31 AM |
Tagged: windows rt, Surface RT, reverse-consolitis

It is a good thing that Windows RT is not always online, because you would be pretty screwed if you did not have access to a wireless network. To compensate for a lack of ethernet, users can typically plug in a USB to wired internet dongle; this is even possible with consoles such as the Wii. Microsoft makes one such accessory for their line of Surface tablets.

But just the Pro ones.

wii-lan.png

Wow, if only my PC was as open as my console...

Paul Thurrott even tried a handful of third-party adapters to similar, depressing, results on both Windows RT RTM. While the ability to attach your device to a wired high-speed internet jack is niche nowadays, mostly for users of HD video conferencing and certain hotels, it highlights the gigantic problem with Windows RT and other consumer tablet OSes: there will be some things you wish that your device did that it simply will not be able to do.

I guess pack a travel router?

CEO Jen-Hsun Huang Sells Windows RT... A Little Bit.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | March 20, 2013 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, nvidia, GTC 2013

NVIDIA develops processors, but without an x86 license they are only able to power ARM-based operating systems. When it comes to Windows, that means Windows Phone or Windows RT. The latter segment of the market has disappointing sales according to multiple OEMs, which Microsoft blames them for, but the jolly green GPU company is not crying doomsday.

surface-cover.jpg

NVIDIA just skimming the Surface RT, they hope.

As reported by The Verge, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang was optimistic that Microsoft would eventually let Windows RT blossom. He noted how Microsoft very often "gets it right" at some point when they push an initiative. And it is true, Microsoft has a history of turning around perceived disasters across a variety of devices.

They also have a history of, as they call it, "knifing the baby."

I think there is a very real fear for some that Microsoft could consider Intel's latest offerings as good enough to stop pursuing ARM. Of course, the more the pursue ARM, the more their business model will rely upon the-interface-formerly-known-as-Metro and likely all of its certification politics. As such, I think it is safe to say that I am watching the industry teeter on a fence with a bear on one side and a pack of rabid dogs on the other. On the one hand, Microsoft jumping back to Intel would allow them to perpetuate the desktop and all of the openness it provides. On the other hand, even if they stick with Intel they likely will just kill the desktop anyway, for the sake of user confusion and the security benefits of cert. We might just have less processor manufacturers when they do that.

So it could be that NVIDIA is confident that Microsoft will push Windows RT, or it could be that NVIDIA is pushing Microsoft to continue to develop Windows RT. Frankly, I do not know which would be better... or more accurately, worse.

Source: The Verge

RT Jailbreak Tool Allows Third Party Desktop Apps To Run On Windows RT

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2013 - 06:55 AM |
Tagged: windows rt, microsoft, arm

One of the downsides to Microsoft’s ARM-powered Windows RT operating system is the lack of desktop applications. While Windows RT devices to retain the traditional Windows desktop, only Microsoft applications that come pre-packaged with Windows are allowed to run. Instead, Microsoft wants users to stick to Modern UI applications and the Windows Store to get new apps. (Granted, the ARM hardware powering these devices necessitates porting x86 desktop applications in order to run in the first place, but Windows RT locks out even recompiled apps).

Enthusiasts are working on changing that, however. A XDA Developers forum member known as Netham45 recently released a tool that allows users to run unsigned desktop applications on Windows RT. The new RT Jailbreak tool is a batch file that automates a hack discovered by another hacker known as clrokr.

The hack is currently only temporary, and needs to be redone after every computer restart. It does, however, allow Windows RT to run unsigned code on the desktop. After downloading the batch file, you run the runExploit.bat and follow the prompts. After it completes, you users can run recompiled desktop apps such as PuTTY, 7-zip, TightVNC, DOSBox, Quake 2, and more

While it is not a permaent solution, it is a step in the right direction, and makes ARM-powered Windows RT devices a lot more interesting and useful to power users. For more information on the RT Jailbreak hack, and to grab the batch file to unlock your WinRT tablet, check out this forum thread on the XDA Developers website

CES 2013: Tegra 4, the Vision of Windows RT?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2013 - 09:42 AM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, nvidia, windows rt

It is the day after the NVIDIA keynote and the Tegra 4 floodgates are open. Sure, the rumors were fairly accurate, but I guess speculation waits for a solid basis to be believable.

The Tegra 4 marries 72 of the expected GPU cores with four… “plus one” as the bonus core is present although 4+1 branding does not seem to be… ARM Cortex-A15 cores. This push to an A15-based design provides a significant performance increase over Tegra 3. Another interesting feature is the ability to transmit 4K video should you have a suitable source or the rendered application can support 4K at a suitable framerate. You can then add in Icera’s LTE modem which is interesting in its own right to see a compelling product.

tegra4-super-processors-hover.png

Jen-Hsun spent about as much time justifying the need for speed as he did hyping its performance. Photographers, particularly those who wish to dabble with HDR, are able to use the Tegra 4 to vastly increase the speed of image processing at the time of taking the shot. Tonal mapping for an HDR image will take just 200ms of processing which allows HDR to be used along with burst mode and a flash.

Paul Thurrott over at the Supersite for Windows ponders whether this was Microsoft’s vision for Windows RT. He wonders whether Microsoft will try to take a mulligan on the first generation similar to Windows Phone 7-based devices led us to Windows Phone 8. At the same point, the weight which the Surface was designed to bare is pretty immense if it was just designed to buckle to Tegra 4. I would not put it past Microsoft although the Surface does not strike me as a product designed to have a doughy half-baked middle -- despite what actually shipped.

PC World also notes how Qualcomm continues to improve their products and have just recently transitioned to a 28nm process for the Snapdragon S4. Qualcomm is a giant and even then there is also Samsung to contend with in the ARM space -- then you consider x86 brings at least Intel to the game with its massive advantage in legacy software that are usually not abstracted by a platform-independent runtime layer.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: NVIDIA

Breaking News: Steven Sinofsky Leaves Microsoft Immediately

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 12, 2012 - 07:02 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, microsoft

Our regular viewers know that I am not too fond of Microsoft’s recent vision; I will get that out of the way right at the start. I am a major proponent of open platforms for uncensored art with perpetual support and Windows 8 shows all the signs of Microsoft turning its back on that ideology.

And Steven Sinofsky, the one who allegedly came up with that vision, is no longer with Microsoft: effective immediately.

surface-cover.jpg

Not much in the line of reasoning is known about why Steven Sinofsky parted ways with his long-term career as head of Windows division. He had a clear and concise vision for his products and it was evident both in Windows 7 and in Windows RT.

Rumors exist that his fellow executives were not on pleasant terms with him. All Things D claims to have sources which suggest that his colleagues were unhappy with his conduct in terms of collaboration.

But that is all hearsay.

What it means for Microsoft is that the face that set sail is no longer at the helm. Microsoft could revert back to their twitchy attempts to appease everyone and abandon their vision. On the other hand it is entirely possible that the company could continue off on the last bearing set by Sinofsky.

No-one knows, but I stand behind my previous assertions that the PC industry will get messy in the next few years as things boil over at Microsoft.

Source: All Things D

NEC Launches LaVie Y Windows RT Tablet in Japan

Subject: Mobile | October 28, 2012 - 12:59 AM |
Tagged: windows rt, tablet, nec lavie y, nec, ideapad yoga

NEC, a Japanese IT services and products company, is launching a convertible laptop similar to the Yoga 11 from Lenovo that we covered previously. The NEC LaVie Y is an 11” laptop that incorporates Lenovo’s 360” hinge to allow it to transform into slat mode when folded down or operate as a traditional laptop. The device measures 298 x 204 x 15.6 mm when it the screen is folded down over the keyboard. Further, it weighs in at 1.24 kg, or approximately 2.7 pounds.

Similarly to the Lenovo Yoga 11, the LaVie Y will run Microsoft’s Windows RT operating system. The convertible notebook will be powered by an Nvidia Tegra 3 system on a chip (SoC) along with 2GB of RAM, and a 64GB SSD. NEC has reportedly packed a decent-sized batttery as well, as the company is claiming up to 8 hours of use.

NEC Windows RT Tablet_LaVie Y.jpg

Wireless connectivity options include 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. External I/O ports include USB 2.0, a 5-in-1 card reader, and HDMI output. Other specifications include an 11.6” touchscreen display with a resolution of 1366x768, a full QWERTY keyboard, and a touchpad. A 1.3 megapixel webcam is nestled above the display as well. The device comes in a two-tone color scheme: black for the keyboard and display bezel, and a silver color for the hinge and bottom of the tablet.

NEC LaVie Y Convertible Windows RT tablet.jpg

According to Engadget, the LaVie Y will be available for purchase on November 22nd, and the US pricing would be close to $1,136 should you import it. Needless to say, many Americans will want to wait it out for the Lenovo Yoga 11 which should be cheaper in the United States. For readers in Japan however, this might be worth checking out if you are into the Yoga-like form factor!

Read more about Windows RT tablets at PC Perspective

Source: NEC

Podcast #224 - ASUS N66U Router, AMD FX 8350 and 6300 CPU, our Windows RT hands on, and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2012 - 11:26 AM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, vivotab rt, vishera, tegra, podcast, nvidia, n668, linus, fx 8350, fx 6300, asus, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #224 - 10/25/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the ASUS N66U Router, AMD FX 8350 and 6300 CPU, our Windows RT hands on, 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: http://pcper.com/podcast - 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Linus Sebastian

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:30:18

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. 0:00:50 Welcome our Guest: Linus Sebastian of Linus Tech Tips!
  2. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:07:50 ASUS RT-N66U Router and Adapters Roundup
    2. 0:13:15 AMD Never Settle 12.11 Driver Update
      1. The Never Settle Bundle is awesome too
    3. 0:25:50 AMD FX-8350 and FX-6300 Vishera CPU Review
  3. 0:36:20 This podcast is brought to you by MSI
  4. News items of interest:
    1. 0:37:15 A quick look at the data on Apple's Fusion Drive
    2. 0:46:30 AMD work force cut coming?
    3. 0:52:10 ASUS VivoTab RT Released
      1. Hands on time!
    4. 1:07:45 ASUS TAICHI as well - can this really become popular
    5. 1:08:45 Corsair Carbide 200R Launches
      1. LinusTech Video on it
  5. Closing:
    1. 1:06:15 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Lantronix xPrintServer
      2. Jeremy: Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project
      3. Josh: Nice motherboard, now with new CPUS!
      4. Allyn: Media Player Classic - Home Cinema
      5. Linus: Fractal Design Define R4
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Windows RT: Runtime? Or Get Up and Run Time?

Update #1, 10/26/2012: Apparently it does not take long to see the first tremors of certification woes. A Windows developer by the name of Jeffrey Harmon allegedly wrestled with Microsoft certification support 6 times over 2 months because his app did not meet minimum standards. He was not given clear and specific reasons why -- apparently little more than copy/paste of the regulations he failed to achieve. Kind-of what to expect from a closed platform... right? Imagine if some nonsensical terms become mandated or other problems crop up?

Also, Microsoft has just said they will allow PEGI 18 games which would have received an ESRB M rating. Of course their regulations can and will change further over time... the point is the difference between a store refusing to carry versus banishing from the whole platform even for limited sharing. The necessity of uproars, especially so early on and so frequently, should be red flags for censorship to come. Could be for artistically-intentioned nudity or sexual themes. Could even be not about sex, language, and violence at all.

***

Last month, I suggested that the transition to Windows RT bares the same hurdles as transitioning to Linux. Many obstacles blocking our path, like Adobe and PC gaming, are considering Linux; the rest have good reason to follow.

This month we receive Windows RT and Microsoft’s attempt to shackle us to it: Windows 8.

Windows95.png

To be clear: Microsoft has large incentives to banish the legacy of Windows. The way Windows 8 is structured reduces it to a benign tumorous growth atop Windows RT. The applications we love and the openness we adore are contained to an app.

I will explain how you should hate this -- after I explain why and support it with evidence.

Microsoft is currently in the rare state of sharp and aggressive focus to a vision. Do not misrepresent this as greed: it is not. Microsoft must face countless jokes about security and stability. Microsoft designed Windows with strong slants towards convenience over security.

That ideology faded early into the life of Windows XP. How Windows operates is fundamentally different. Windows machines are quite secure, architecturally. Con-artists are getting desperate. Recent attacks are almost exclusively based on fear and deception of the user. Common examples are fake anti-virus software or fraudulent call center phone calls. We all win when attackers get innovative: survival of the fittest implies death of the weakest.

Continue reading why we think the Windows you Love is gone...