Posts with tag windows
The year of the budget Windows tablet
Microsoft hasn’t had the best of luck with tablets running Windows 8.1 just yet, but that isn’t stopping some manufacturers from trying. Budget manufacturer eFun has come to CES with not one, not two, but three low-spec tablets running Windows 8.1, all of which will run you under $300, thanks in part to Microsoft’s still relatively new Windows 8.1 with Bing version of Windows.
The main differentiator between all of these devices would be, of course, screen size – all three models feature a quad-core Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB to 64GB of internal storage. The cheapest model will run you $229 and features a 10.1 inch display, while one ring up gets you a 11.6 inch display for just $279.
The real deal, however, is the 12.5 inch model at $279. Not only is that on the upper end of tablet display sizes, eFun’s tablet also comes with a full year’s subscription of Microsoft Office 365. That comes with the full suite of Microsoft Office programs, something that many other tablets can’t boast.
But if Windows 8.1 isn’t your thing – and if sales are any indication, it might not be – eFun also has three Android tablets they want to offer you. A slightly smaller 8-inch device ships with bundled LTE support and a Snapdragon processor starting at $129 in a 16GB configuration, or you can upgrade to 32GB of internal storage if you need a little more room for activities. There’s also a 10.1 inch model for $229 with similar specifications, and an 11.6 model for $249 with a boosted 64GB of internal storage. All of the Android tablets feature 1GB of RAM.
Calling it Windows 7.5 isn't that far off
Using the Windows 10 Technical Previews feels a little bit like going home. It’s as if I had just spent the last three years in some sort of bizzare-o world filled with buggy, nearly useless full screen applications; like I’m enjoying a swim in a refreshing, crisp, blue pool after spending an eternity in the fiery depths of Hell.In this scenario, Hell is, of course, a stand in for Windows 8 – and I think the sooner we admit the similarities, the sooner we can all recover from its abuses.
The Windows 10 Technical Preview is kind of like the anti-Windows 8 – indeed, some have taken to calling it Windows 7.5, and I don’t think that’s too far off. If you’ve not seen it in action yet, picture this – all the Desktop improvements that shipped with Windows 8 minus all of the horrible Start Screen garbage. Oh, and the Start Menu is back, so that’s pretty nice.
Microsoft is saying that this represents only a tiny fraction of the features, design, and functionality we’ll find in the final version of Windows 10 – due sometime late 2015 – and I believe it. Essentially, there’s only a couple of things worth getting really excited about here thus far, if you appreciate the fact that Microsoft is reverting back to the “classic” Windows 7 way of doing things.
Read more to hear our early impressions of the Windows 10 Technical Preview build.
Unveiling at 10 AM Pacific / 1 PM Eastern
Windows 9 is coming. Sure, Microsoft may not call it that – not today, and perhaps not ever – but whatever Microsoft announces at their “future of Windows” event today, it is the next major release of Windows, one that will stand just as tall as the Windows 8’s, 7’s, Vista’s, and XP’s before it. Despite remaining relatively secretive about the future of Windows beyond what little of a next generation Start Menu that was revealed at BUILD 2014, we know a surprising number of details about what the future of Windows will look like and how it’ll work. Let’s get started.
What to realistically expect…” is a series of posts which we use to temper expectations concerning upcoming industry events. All entries thus far have focused on Apple events, however a big new version of Windows doesn’t come along every day, so we think it’s important to take an in-depth look.
A Windows machine for under $100? Madness!
Microsoft has been looking to readjust their Windows strategy to better combat the influx of ultra low-cost, low end machines flooding the market these days, and today we’re seeing another step in that process. HP has just announced a bunch of new machines, but the stars of the show really are the new HP Stream tablets and two new HP Stream laptops. Both are (presumably) low end, both have Intel processors, but perhaps most impressively, both are full blown Windows PCs with some truly unbelievable price tags.
Starting off with the HP Stream, we’re looking at a 7-inch tablet with a starting price of just $99 – that’s a buck under $100, crossing something of a mythical line in the sand when it comes to pricing. It runs the full version of the latest version of Windows 8.1 and even comes with a free year’s worth of Office 365 subscription. There’s also an 8-inch tablet that’ll cost you an extra $50. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to learn what exactly is powering this bargain basement deal or how much memory it’ll ship with, but all in due time.
Meanwhile, the HP Stream laptop features a bunch of, erm, “interesting” bold color options, like the purple one above. Starting at $199, it features an 11-inch display, an Intel processor, a front facing camera, and also runs a full version of Windows 8.1. There’s also a 13-inch version, if you’re the type of person who needs a bit more screen real estate. No specifics on exact processor or memory configurations here either.
Microsoft has their building blocks
Mojang isn’t a big studio, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from paying a big price for it. While the Swedish indie studio is home to less than 50 employees, these guys are hard at work on one of the biggest games the gaming industry has seen in some time – Minecraft, the multiplatform wonder that has captured the heart of hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of gamers across potentially even more devices. And now, for a cool $2.5 billion, it belongs to Microsoft. Or it will as soon as the deal closes, rather.
While it’s not inherently clear as to what Microsoft plans on doing with Mojang, you can bet that Minecraft won’t see any neglect going forward. Minecraft is essentially the singular big product the company has ever put out, which means that Microsoft’s interest in the company has to be directly relating to Minecraft. More than likely, the company is planning on using the studio to build up the in-house studio support of their Xbox (and likely Windows, including Windows Phone) gaming platforms.
While that may sound like it makes sense, and also pretty exciting – Microsoft is a massive company with enough clout and money to improve all the ways Minecraft has lagged behind some expectations in recent years -it should also kind of scare you. Minecraft is famously available on just about every platform known to man (as long as that platform doesn’t happen to be made by Nintendo – sorry, fellow Wii U and 3DS fans), and Microsoft likely has very little interest in becoming an enthusiastic PlayStation or Android developer. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that Minecraft will ever become an Xbox and Windows exclusive, it does mean that we know where their priorities lie; indeed, Microsoft promises that Minecraft will “remain available” on all available platforms.
Mojang leader Markus “Notch” Persson has taken this opportunity to leave the company he helped build, explaining his feelings towards both the sale of his company to Microsoft as well as his personal feelings towards his relationship with his fans and game development in general in a new note posted on his personal website (and mirrored here) entitled, appropriately, “I’m leaving Mojang.” Notch claims that the deal, to him, isn’t about the money – but rather his sanity.
I'm going to make it call me Chief
Microsoft made a splash with Cortana when Windows Phone 8.1 finally launched a couple of months ago, and after months of testing people have gotten a pretty good idea of how accurate and useful Microsoft’s Siri alternative truly is – and as it turns out, Cortana is actually pretty impressive. It should come as little surprise then that Microsoft is working on bringing its Cortana Personal Assistant to the next major version of Windows, Codename “Threshold”, which will likely be named Windows 9 upon its release in 2015. According to Neowin, who has provided accurate information in the past, current development builds of Windows Threshold actually do have placeholders for Cortana, however it has yet to be fully realized in the most recent builds.
Rumor has it Microsoft will integrate Cortana deeply into the core of the operating system, as opposed to acting as just a separate application that runs on top of the operating system. Microsoft currently takes a similar approach to Cortana in Windows Phone 8.1. Windows Threshold is rumored to be announced later this year at an upcoming Special Event alongside an early Developer Preview of the operating system and will be home to a significant reworking of the way Windows currently works and looks. Recent rumors indicate that Microsoft is killing off the much loathed Charms bar in Threshold while also bringing native support for virtual desktops – a feature that has been in most Linux distributions and Mac OS X for quite some time now.
Recently leaked screenshots have also revealed that Microsoft has reimplemented a newly redesigned version of the Start Menu in Windows Threshold, which seems to be a monster mash between the Windows 7-era Start Menu and the Windows 8 Start Screen. Recently opened applications are seen on the left side of the Start Menu while the right is dominated by live updating tiles, which users could presumably pin for easy access to glanceable information.
Start building the internet of things
When Microsoft announced Windows for the Internet of Things at the company’s annual Build conference this year, people were excited. A little bit confused, considering how nebulous the term “Internet of Things” has actually become, but excited nonetheless – this is a totally new vision of Windows designed to run on small, ultra-low power devices. The company had remained tight lipped on their plans for the launch of the program right up until a couple of weeks ago, when they announced that they’d be shipping free Intel’s x86 based low power Galileo boards – the same ones that usually run around $80 – totally free of charge to any interested developer alongside the IoT SDK as Windows for the Internet of Things development kits.
Registration for these free boards have been closed for some time, and it appears Microsoft has finally gotten around to actually shipping the kits to at least some interested developers. We’ve heard reports from at least one developer who received the above email this morning, claiming his free Galileo board has been shipped over FedEx, tracking number and all. It appears not all developers have received their emails just yet, but if you’re one of the lucky few who got into Microsoft’s IoT developer program before it closed, keep your eyes fixed on your inbox.
Windows for power users
Although we’ve heard this for a couple days now, Mary Jo Foley has posted that the next version of Windows will indeed feature virtual desktops, a feature that Linux has had for nearly 20 years and one that Microsoft has historically never added as their own studies found users would often get confused as to which desktop they were in.
That’s not all that’s coming to Threshold – The Charms Bar, which has been a feature of Windows 8 since the first developer preview, will be going away in Threshold. According to Mary Jo Foley’s sources, not only will it be going away for desktop users, it’s going away for all users, including touch users. The functionality of each of the charms won’t be going away as every Metro app will have a new menu bar with the charms added to it, or developers can manually add a charm to their own app.
While this is another major score for the 100% of Windows users still using the desktop, I can’t help but shake the feeling that Windows Threshold is becoming nothing more than Windows 7 with an extra extension of .NET bolted onto it. But then again, maybe that’s for the better.
Well its about time
If your computer is one of the many affected by the bug that blocks its copy of Windows 8 from being upgraded to Windows 8.1, there’s good news on the horizon. Microsoft is finally taking pity on your computer’s soul and has decided to fix that, allowing previously (and randomly) un-upgradeable copies of Windows 8 from being upgraded to Windows 8.1.
The bug, which affected computers and tablets running both Windows 8 as well as the original version of Windows RT, affects only a small number of computers – so chances are, if you haven’t upgraded yet, you’ll be able to do that now just fine. But if not, keep an eye out for the fix due any day now.
Some weird naming going on
According to popular Microsoft beta scene group WZOR, which has accurately delivered copious amounts of news, screenshots, and leaks regarding the development of various versions of Microsoft Windows all the way from the Windows Vista days to today, Microsoft is planning on releasing the next update to Windows 8, which was announced at BUILD 2014 and brings windowed “Modern” Windows Store applications and the return of the Start Menu, before the end of the year. What’s more, according to the group, Microsoft is planning on releasing the update not as Windows 8.1 Update 2, as you might expect, but as Windows 8.2.
This reinforces the notion that development of Windows “Threshold”, which many expect will be called Windows 9, is too early in development to be a serious contender for release any time soon. Microsoft’s latest update to Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Update 1, brought significant changes to the operating system, including usability improvements for keyboard and mouse users and the ability to pin “Modern” applications to the desktop taskbar. Considering Windows 8.1 Update 1 could have easily been called Windows 8.2, there seems to be little rhyme or reason to Microsoft’s marketing of Windows 8 updates. But no matter what they’re called, a significant update is a significant update, and Windows 8 needs all the improvements it can get.
Now on Windows Update
Microsoft’s next big update to their desktop Windows platform, Windows 8.1 Update 1, has just been released onto Windows Update. The update, which Microsoft officially announced at Build last week, significantly improves the Windows 8.1 experience for keyboard and mouse users, bringing new features such as “Modern” Windows Store application docking into the desktop taskbar, traditional Windows control buttons (such as close and minimize) on “Modern” applications, classic style Context Menus in the Start Screen, and more.
While Windows 8.1 Update 1 has only just been made official and released, we took a look at a pre-release build of Windows 8.1 a little while ago before the Build conference. Be sure to take a more in depth look at whats new in Windows 8.1 Update 1 by navigating here, and head on over to Windows Update to get updating – it’s worth it, trust me.