Archive for the ‘google’ Category

This simple idiom is understood by the youngest of school children. It has been around for centuries, so why do our financial institutions, retailers and cloud based service corporations continue to put all of our sensitive data in one basket!?

First things first. This idiom, Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket applies to you, the companies and businesses you interact with and do business with, the stores where you shop as well as the cloud(s) where you store your personal data and photographs and social networks you participate on.

Your data, their data, our shared existence on the Internet is vulnerable. No person, business, corporation, utility or government is immune or impervious to hacking. One thing we should all know by now it that today your financial institution could be hacked and next month your it’s your co-worker or neighbor’s bank or transaction.

It seems simple enough that if Target, Sony, Bank of America and other major businesses sites get hacked, they are not just getting a fraction of user’s data, they are getting all of their user’s data.

Check out Entrepreneur.com’s 8 of the Biggest Data Breaches Ever and How They Happened (Infographic) – it’s all pictures, so no heavy reading is required.

I don’t think the government needs to always step in and tell corporations how to conduct their businesses, but when it comes to protecting customer data, I think we need the government to step in and create some “best practices” for businesses, our data and their corporate and employee data.

Best Practices for Business

  • Do not place all your customer data behind one firewall
  • Do not place all customer data on one server cluster
  • Limit credit card and payment processing from one vendor to a percentage of your business
  • Limit the data shared back to third-party creditors, financial institutions, marketing services
  • Split customer data into logical or random packets to assure that if data is stolen, it can’t be used in whole or in part by the hackers

If all businesses, corporations and governments implemented just one of the above Best Practices, it would go a long way to protecting our sensitive customer information.

In fact if these, the most simple and most basic of practices isn’t followed, the same insurance companies who have been bailing out these businesses after each credit card breach, each server hack, or just plain old corporate arrogance and stupidity should stop taking policies which are not in good faith being protected to begin with.

What can you and I do as consumers?

We can tell let the businesses we currently do business with, that we take these breaches seriously and expect that they will change the way they conduct business, store our personal and financial data and when breached, they will respond with full disclosure to the public and support the breached users and businesses with safeguards and protections.

We can also do what we can to place our own eggs in more than one basket.

  • Diversify your banking to two or more financial institutions
  • Use different email aliases for correspondence and online shopping, another for your user login name, etc.
  • Use one password for social networks, another for banking and another for work, and so on
  • Change one or more of your passwords or email aliases after a busy shopping seasons such as Christmas, or after returning from a vacation

Let’s face it, most people re-use the same username, email and password over and over again. Many do not change this information for years at a time – if ever.

By utilizing the email “Alias” provided by nearly all email hosting services, such as Outlook.com, Exchange, Google, Yahoo!, etc you can have one email Inbox for all your incoming email, but use a give out different email addresses (aliases) to different services and businesses you do business with.

This way if one hacked and your data has been breached, you only need to discontinue using the breached alias and give the new updated alias to a fraction of sites and services.

Four is a good number of aliases people should consider

Red: High security sites such as banking, financial, credit cards, Bill Pay

Orange: Online retailers and Utilities such as Amazon, Target, Best Buy, NewEgg, PG&E, AT&T, Comcast

Yellow: Minimal security for cloud services, non-financial social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, or political campaigns, charities…. Yellow should also be used for mailing lists

Green: General correspondence to trusted family and friends

Your Bank gets hacked, just change your email address yourname-red@service.com to yourname-red2@service.com and password for all “Red” accounts.

Say you start receiving lots of spam on your Orange Alias – change the email alias and password for only those sites. This way the spam goes to a non-working/cancelled Orange Alias and your new correspondence goes your updated Orange Alias.

Apply the same four color rule to your usernames and login for different sites and if your social network gets hacked and your data is stolen, the people who now have your information can’t use it access your bank or credit cards.

Grade Schoool

Remember, not putting all your eggs in one basket is something that we learn in grade school. This most basic of principles to protect oneself should not be forgotten once we turn 18, or our income skyrockets. We should all diversify and we should all demand that the businesses we trust with our business also follow this simple rule.

Living Room Entertainment Microsoft Apple Google
Watch and record Live HDTV OTA and Cable television Yes, available since 2001: Windows 8.1 Pro Media Center with TV Tuner Card or with cable service No No
Watch and record Live HDTV Cable TV & Premium Channels Yes, available since 2007: Windows 8,1 Pro Media Center with CableCard and network tuner No, negotiating directly with content providers for new TV product No
DVR “TiVo” Functionality Yes, available since 2001: Windows Media Center 3-6 simultaneous channels per cable card No No
Select and Stream videos, photos or music stored on storage device or PC Yes, Today: Xbox 360 via DLNA or Windows Media Center Extender
Limited, Xbox One can only control cable box and cable DVR via Ir blaster and HDMI pass-through
Yes, videos, photos and music stored on Mac No, push only
Remote schedule, Record Programming Yes, Today: 3rd party app Ceton Corp, My Media Center for Windows 8, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad and Android No No
Internet Movie Streaming Services Yes, Today: Xbox – 60+ video streaming services including, Xbox Video, HBO, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu+, VuDu…. Limited, iTunes and Netflix No, Chromecast cannot run apps; Yes, Google TV compatible appliance required
Watch On-Demand Cable Programming Yes, Today: Xbox 360, Xbox One via Comcast/Xfinity, Time Warner Cable apps + other International No No
Control programming via Remote Control Yes, Today: Xbox Media Remote, game controller, voice control with Kinect, Smartglass app (Windows, Windows Phone, iOS, Android) Yes, Apple TV remote, iOS app No, all content needs to be pushed to television via Chrome browser or Chrome compatible app.
Electronic Programming Guide (TV Guide) Yes, Today: Xbox 360 Media Center Extender w/Windows Media Center PC
Yes, Today: Xbox One via native service
No No
Open and Free API Yes, since 2001: Windows Media Center and Media Center Extender like other Windows platforms have an open API for 3rd parties to write apps and interfaces within Media Center  No, must be invited by Apple and agree to royalty shares Chromecast, No, shortly after introduction Google closed it’s open API for Chromecast and it became invite only
Google TV, Limited by vendor/OEM
Offers 100% of both Internet and cable television programming TODAY YES NO NO

Google-Chrome-King

You may have read or discovered first hand that Google has now removed the ability to download maps to your Android smartphone, tablets as well as your Google Maps app on iOS.

There are two simple reasons why Google has been able to remove the offline maps feature:

  1. Google does not see Apple or other service as a major threat to their “free” maps and navigation and therefore they can remove features without losing customers
  2. Google needs to keep your smartphone connected to their servers so that they can find patterns in your walking and/or driving habits – when your maps are stored on your phone, you are not leaving breadcrumbs for Google to follow

This sounds like a step backwards for the search giant, but it is a major step forward for the advertising giant.

Yes, there is an Easter egg which will allow Android users to “download” limited map locations to your Android smartphone, but it is little more than caching the route you are taking to your phone. This is caching, not offline maps. With the route data cached to your Android or iPhone Google Maps is still able to relay data to and from their servers, and thereby gives them permission to follow you for every step, every turn and how long you’re stopped at a red light or slow moving traffic.

It is imperative to Google’s business model to keep continuous access to you and your whereabouts on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Gathering information on from your Google searches is no longer enough for Google to continue to raise profits and make their shareholders billions.

Breadcrumbs

Think about it, every time you log into your computer, tablet or smartphone, you are simultaneously signing into Google+, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, YouTube account.

This means that anything you search for on Google, post on Google’s ‘social network’ Google+, videos you play or subscribe to on YouTube, driving directions, emails and even your top secret business plan you are storing on Google Drive is all being collected and saved into a profile they then sell to their clients in the form of targeted advertising.

Capitalism demands that more is more and anything less is failure

Google has already concurred the ‘free’ internet services business and in order to grow, they need to know what you are doing when you leave your home or work computer, they need to know where you go, how you get there and what streets you use – even what time of day or night you make these trips.

Google Maps and navigation was one area of compromise Google made in order to secure their dominance on your smartphones. First, kill the stand alone GPS business by making their navigation free, then Google needed to make sure that their navigation offerings had features that Apple could not easily replicate and would be highly desired for not only the iPhone, but also for their loyal band of Android enthusiasts. So they gave everyone what they wanted, what they desired and added the ability to free users from slow or poor internet connections and make their maps available offline. Everyone who has used GPS navigation on their phone knows how slow and annoying it is when you make a wrong turn and have to wait for your phone to download new directions – it’ terribly frustrating to say the least.

There is one problem with offline maps for Google and it is simple. If the users smartphone has offline maps, and the user can download all the maps they may ever need to their devices, they also don’t need to connect to Google’s servers, and if the devices are no longer connecting to Google’s servers, they can no longer follow your every move.

You don’t even need to be receiving turn-by-turn directions in order to be followed, all you need to do is carry a smartphone with Google Maps installed around with you. That’s it.

But it’s Anonymous; Don’t be so paranoid:

First off, I am not paranoid and I could care less that Google makes billions of dollars a quarter by collecting information from the people who use their services, but it isn’t as anonymous as you think.

Anonymity doesn’t have the same meaning as it once did. It once meant, freedom from identification, but identify you is exactly what Google and others are now doing to hundreds of millions of people every minute of the day and night, year after year.

You see, by signing into your Google service you are giving Google authorization to collect all your search results, emails you create and receive, they see all your transaction confirmations from your Zappo or Amazon purchases, they can read the documents you have created and stored on their Drive cloud service and now that they have removed the ability to download maps to your mobile device, they are now able to continue to monitor and follow you wherever you travel.

If a neighbor, colleague or classmate followed you or even just knew what park you like to relax at, what grocery store you did your shopping at or which pharmacy you filled your prescriptions at you would be upset, angry, creeped out and rightfully so.

But this is what you are allowing Google to do and while I think that many users get a fair amount of services in return for this information, Google is none the less tracking you and collecting information about you and then using what they have learned to send you targeted ads and services.

When the information Google discovers about you is being collected and collated in order to sell you, your identity to marketers and businesses is no longer anonymous.

Connect the Dots

So, now you understand that everywhere you go is being recorded by Google. We also know and accept (agree to license) that Google ‘reads’ our Gmail correspondence, but add that to the data they already have from your Android or Chrome device and that goes beyond “anonymous” tracking.

There is nothing anonymous about knowing where you live, work, shop, write in your emails, what you receive in your emails, your purchase and shipping histories, or what routes you take every day or every weekend.

Do you go to a country club every weekend? Do you regularly go to sporting events, take your children to the same park or recreation area – these are the areas where Google’s tracking is lacking. They need to get more information from each user and the way to do that is to connect your emails, searches, Google+ posts, Twitter posts, Google searches and maybe even the thesis or business proposal you wrote in Google Office or shared on Google Drive.

Drive, Googles cloud service is Ingenious

How does Google generate revenue from people who:

  • Purchased smartphones from Apple, Nokia and Blackberry?
  • Purchased Microsoft Office, Office 365, Final Draft or Apples Pages at home or at work?
  • Purchase or use email from Outlook.com, Exchange 365, or Apple, Yahoo!, or use business or school email?
  • Participate on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Sina Weibo and others?

Why it’s simple, offer them ‘free’ cloud storage and market it as a service to safeguard their most important documents, reports, photographs and anything else people want to store on their Drive cloud storage service.

It’s smart really, if users value their files, photos, music and other data, they will want to keep it backed up and accessible from anywhere.

Not only do they have access to where your photographs were taken – think about all the photos you have taken of your children at their favorite park, day care or school play.

Does it stop with Google’s maps and navigation?

No, where there is money to be had, you can be sure that companies will continue to find ways to capitalize on future revenue and growth.

Just think about what Google could do if they wanted to take control your car?

Yes, ask your car to take your to a steak dinner and the Google car of the future will take you to one of its advertisers which is likely a national chain restaurant and not the 60 year old family run steak house with 5 star ratings.

Need your clothes dry cleaned, direct you to a copy-shop that supports Android and Chrome’s Cloud Print “feature” because they have no direct printer support of their own. I can only guess where your car will direct you when you have ½ a tank of gas, but happen to be 10 miles away from one of Google’s advertisers who sells gasoline.

If you mind getting all these wonderful services in exchange for following you, tracking where you go, what you do, what you write about in your diary or where you take the most photographs, maybe you would care if I said that Google is collecting this information about your children, your wife, your husband, your mother or father?

We are just entering the era where consumers are used as currency and with every new generation, trading their privacy for products and services there will be fewer companies which create products and charge for their use. If corporations such as Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Oracle and others cannot sell their products for a fair price, then all consumers will lose their right to privacy.

Closing thoughts on Apple and Microsoft

Google is one of hundreds if not thousands of companies who use similar practices and business models, they are just the most successful at it.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine offers advertisements based on your searches and if you allow them, they will use your Facebook account to offer more customized search results.

However, Bing also has a Bing Rewards Program where you can earn credits for your searches and can then trade those credits in for products or services. Google does not share their profits with their users.

SkyDrive is not free, you get 7GB of cloud storage when you purchase Microsoft products such as Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone, Office, Office 365, Xbox membership etc. You currently only receive 7GB total no matter how many products you purchase, the exception being Microsoft’s Office 365 which comes with 20 additional gigabytes of storage as long as you license the Office software.

Windows Phone 8 comes with true offline maps on all devices from all manufactures for the region or country you live in. Nokia’s Lumia 82x, 92x and 102x come with licenses to download maps from anywhere in the world. Other Nokia Lumia smartphones as well as Windows Phone 8 phones from HTC, Samsung and others can upgrade their regional licenses for a global one.

These maps, navigation, poi and mass transit apps are licensed from Nokia’s HERE/Navteq division currently are the most advanced and most complete navigation, poi, traffic and routing services available for the consumer.

Smartphones running Windows Phone are fully licensed and purchased from Microsoft. They are not developing the platform to give away, but that might change if all consumers demand free to use products in exchange for their privacy.

For Apple’s part, they invest vast amounts of research and development dollars to create their products and take a lot of care to make sure their partners follow through with their vision.

Apple makes quite a bit of money this way and this is how they are able to provide users with email, cloud storage and services.

Facebook, MySpace provide a social playground for their members to share and create. It is very apparent that they provide ads based on your personal data and they do not hide that. It is up front and understood.

Amazon, Newegg, Zappos sell products and make most of their profits from making money on each sale or selling you additional services, just like your local Macy’s department store, service or gas station.

The difference is that Google is selling your privacy in exchange for cash and while I am fine with that arrangement, I believe that many users of Google’s services and products do not understand that their privacy doesn’t[t end with a targeted add based on your current search, but it follows you and tracks you on your way to work, school, shopping, playground, daycare, little league, soccer practice and beyond.

starting tomorrow, Sunday July 14, Staples is reducing the price of all Surface RT models by $150, with the 32GB model with 10.4″ widescreen for $349.99

ms_office_rt_2013_1_jpg_17101

For me the one thing that differentiates an ordinary or extraordinary tablet from a computer isn’t its size, shape or design, but what defines a computer is its ability to connect to a broad and diverse set of peripherals.

I’m not just talking about USB storage, a smartphone, external monitor or television, but peripherals which add value to a device such as printers at home or work, scanners which allow your device to scan in photographs and documents.

This is the holy grail of computing.

If you can walk into a Kinko’s or client’s office and be able to connect to their printers or scanners with your “tablet” then it has gone beyond the definition of tablet and has crossed over to PC. Think how many times you have purchased tickets for the movies or vacation and printed your tickets? These are things you can do on RT – at your home, hotel, office or friends place – without downloading messy printer drivers which never quite uninstall. :/

In my opinion, a keyboard or traditional laptop form factor doesn’t make your device a PC. The ability to create content on your device, no matter what its shape is, be able to manipulate it and then to finally print it from that device makes a device a PC.

For example the iPhone can many things that we traditionally used a PC for – whether it was a Mac or Windows. You can surf the web, play movies, read email and with relative ease, you can also create or respond to emails.

There are even apps which facilitate bookkeeping, banking, etc on the iPhone – it can send a document or email to a printer equipped with Apple AirPrint support, but these are not your everyday printers and the all-in-one devices which include a scanner or fax cannot be directly used by your iPhone.

The iPad on the other hand can have a keyboard and mouse added to it, but without the ability to print or scan to ordinary printers – like the one you already own, it is a dead end device and leaves it in a category that has more in common with your smartphone than your desktop computer.

Android and Chrome are even less capable than similar products from Apple because there is no printer you can print directly to. Everything you want to print has to be directed via the internet or network to a service or app running on your PC which then sends your printout to the printer after first being uploaded and downloaded through the internet and then prints.

That’s not very convenient or very practical and limits the use of your Chrome or Android device and makes Google’s “Office” suite of apps little more than a gimmick.

Enter Windows RT

Windows RT is Windows and don’t be fooled by people who tell you otherwise!

Windows RT in fact has the underlying capability to run many apps designed for Windows 7 – in fact, it can run many apps written for Windows XP. The fact is simple, Microsoft has disabled the ability to run these apps on devices that run Windows RT – the future is touch, the future of apps is sharing resources and suspending when not in use to allow RT devices to operate longer between charges, and at the same time, rid developers and users from a system that was designed back in the late 80’s and released in the 90’s.

Windows RT ships with Microsoft Office 2013 preinstalled on all RT devices and includes the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and with the launch of Windows RT 8.1, it includes Outlook 2013. All of these apps operate just like their x86-64 counterparts that you would purchase for your home desktop PC or Office PC. Yes, some features have been removed like macros in Excel as well as some other features, but those are not used by many people and they have been removed (for now?) to conserve battery power and other performance reasons. All in all, you will never know those features are missing.

But like I said before, a tablet or device isn’t a PC if It can’t be used to take your work from idea to final product and printing is the way most of use finalize our work.

Since Windows RT is Windows, it also has decades of peripherals which have support for Windows built in. No, it can’t print to every printer you have eveer purchased, but out of the box, it can print to thousands and thousands of dot matrix, injet and laser printers without even downloading any drivers from the printer manufacture – and this can typically be well over 100 megabytes of files just so that you can print.

Windows RT and Windows 8 have a new driver model for printer which is built into Windows and has a built in library of thousands of printers, their capabilities and features and as soon as you connect to the printer or all in one with a USB cable or via your home network you can print immediately (period).

You can even scan in photos from your scanner directly to your RT device – although there is no pretty Metro interface to do this, you can do this from the Windows desktop.

Windows 8.1 adds the ability to print to 3D printers and also adds the ability to scan from your scanner or all in one without leaving Windows 8’s finger friendly interface (this was likely possible before, but it wasn’t included with every RT PC sold – now it will be).

The last difference I have found between an iPad, Android or Chromebook is the ability of Windows RT to have totally separate user accounts all accessible on one device. Log in with your personal account and your Start Screen, accent colors, wallpapers, email, documents, photos, cloud storage, etc, etc, etc, are loaded on the device and are separate from all other users on the device – and follow you between RT and your desktop or laptop running Windows 8.

So, before you go out a purchase a new “tablet” or feel like you need to upgrade your current tablet or even replace your laptop, please consider replacing it with a “PC” running Windows RT.

** All devices running Windows 8.0 and RT 8.0 are upgradeable to 8.1 free of charge later this year. (Unlike your Android tablet which will likely never be upgraded or patched with security updates).

Windows 8 is a download, no disks, that means no booting from CD, no going to Best Buy, no extra trips or added expenses to upgrade your computer with more memory, no new video card required, etc. Windows 8 works on the computer you have today – only faster, longer and easier.

Windows 8 has a record number of firsts for the industry

Yes, Windows 8 has been totally redesigned and while many people are talking about how it was designed for touch screens that’s only HALF correct. Windows 8’s new Modern design was also designed to be used with your Mouse, trackpad and keyboard. Those who claim that Windows 8 only is needed for touch devices are cheating themselves of some of the wonderful new features in Windows 8 which are designed for everyone.
Yes you’ve already heard that it’s the first Windows to be redesigned to support touch screens, and it’s the first to support low per ARM chips, but here are some firsts you may not know.

1. Windows 8 updates are delivered from the web, download and install windows 8 without ever putting in a disk! Sit back and relax because for anyone upgrading from Windows 7, you don’t need to do a thing.

2. Windows 8 is actually faster than previous versions of Window. That means your 4 year old computer will not only start up faster than the day you first plugged it in, but your programs will load faster too – this is nothing short of a miracle for those people who do not feel the need to upgrade their PC every couple of years.

3. Windows 8 was redesigned to extended battery life – yes, install it on your laptop and you can spend less time charging your battery and more time untethered and less time worrying about where the closest power outlet is. Newer laptops will see better battery life than older ones, but something is better than nothing.

Do you own a license Microsoft Office? Well, if you upgrade to Office 2013 or Office 365 you will see even better battery life because the new Office allows your computer to rest more between keystrokes so if you use Microsoft Word all day, you can see as much as a 30% reduction in battery usage!

4. Manage your Windows account(s) from the cloud. Log-in to any Windows 8 computer or tablet running Windows RT with your Microsoft Account and your color preferences, your files on SkyDrive and all the files on your PC will be instantly available to you! – yes, even those files not stored on SkyDrive. You can now access the files on your computer’s hard drive from any PC in the world. Of course, all of this is password protected.

5. Family Safety: This too is managed from the cloud and you can create and edit what not only what your children have access to on your home computer, but these safety settings also follow your children to their grandparents computer(s), the computers at the library as well as the family Xbox 360 and their Windows Phone 8.

The main advantages with this type of system is that you do not have to set 15 or 20 restrictions on your child’s iPhone and again on their iPad. No, you set them in a friendly web browser with your mouse and full sized keyboard. Since you are using your computer to set these limits, you get full descriptions about each setting or restriction on screen and you do not have to look each setting up as you do with Apple’s solution.

You can begin by selecting Child, Teen or Adult and keep the default settings, or you can customize them to suite your family’s beliefs.
Using Apple’s parental controls, you can turn broad features off or on and restrict all access to certain features.

On Microsoft’s platform, you can do that too, but it is recommended that you set other types of limits. For example, your child can play 4 hours of games a week, or 4 hours M-F and 8 hours on the weekends. Instead of not allowing your child to use the web/internet, you can set limits based on age. Like I said, many of these settings follow them to other computers not at your home as well as to their own phone(s) when they are old enough to have one.

6. Windows 8 and RT are the first operating system parent’s weekly reports of their activity. Microsoft’s parental settings don’t just block your children from broad features of their phones and computer experience, no, it’s about letting them have more freedom to learn and explore and if their grades go up or go down, you can see if it’s because they played too many games or surfed the internet for hours on end following Justin Bieber.

No, Apple doesn’t give you or your children this type of freedom, it just allows a tech-savvy parent to prevent them from accessing features and programs and making purchased from the App/iTunes Store. Archaic especially since Apple prides itself for being family friendly.

7. Windows 8 is also the first Windows that brings the store to you. All new Winnows 8 apps are now purchased from the Windows Store, No more ordering software from Newegg or going to your local computer store to buy your programs. Now you can do it from your own computer at any time in the day or night. Need to research an app before you purchase it, or need to compare several? No problem, get sneak peeks at sample screens from the apps you are considering, read customer comments and many apps even have trial periods where you can try the app for free.

This is not like the way you currently purchase software over the internet, no, this is from a Store which is organized and searchable using Windows new universal search. All these apps have been tested for malware and go through certification from Microsoft before they are released into the Store. Safe, secure and easy.

Yes, you can still buy apps for Windows 8 on disks which you buy online or pick up at your store. Those apps will be around for some time to come, but are now called “legacy” or “desktop” apps. Windows 8/RT Modern apps can only be purchased from the new online Store.

8. Windows 8 and RT are also the first operating systems that defaults to saving and retrieving your files to/from the Cloud – more specifically, SkyDrive. This is where signing into your computer with your Microsoft Account really starts to make sense.

Once you log into a computer in a coffee shop or cruise ship, from your smartphone (Windows, iPhone or Android) or from your laptop, you will have access to all your files and photos. If you use SkyDrive as it’s meant to be used, you will never again be looking at two documents side by side – one on your PC and one on your laptop and wonder which file is newer? Which one has the latest updates? Which one can be deleted? Or worse yet, not know how to merge the two documents together to make one complete and up to date document.

No, you always have the most current version of your document because you are always accessing the one file on SkyDrive which is always kept in sync by SkyDrive and Windows 8’s apps.
Just a little more about SkyDrive

8a. The SkyDrive desktop app available for Windows and Mac OSX both keep all of your files that you designate on your computer up to date and provide all your devices with these always current files.
Here are devices that have SkyDrive client apps available for them and allow you to access your files when away from home/work. Windows 8 (laptop), Windows RT (tablet), Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android and not to be forgotten, the Xbox 360 also has a SkyDrive app.

With all of the above devices with client apps, you can create and edit Word and Excel files with a basic free web edition of Office which is integrated in SkyDrive.com. That means that even if the computer you are using doesn’t have a copy of Microsoft Office, you can still open, edit and create those office files stored on SkyDrive – even on a Mac or iPhone.

So while most people on the web are talking about how they wish Windows 8 was more like Windows 7 or Windows 95, I am focusing on how the changes Microsoft made to Windows 8 and all the new Windows versions were done to make your life easier and bring these many features to all their users, not just the ones who work in Silicon Valley or the ones who don’t mind tinkering and tinkering, and tinkering.

Upgrade to the first Operating System which was designed from the ground up to be faster, easier to use, easier to share around your home, easier to work as teams and easier to work with your existing keyboard and mouse as well as the computer or tablet you may be buying in the next few years.

120923_Kicking_the_Can_t618</aWINDOWS 8 & PHONE 8 MODERN INTERFACE
You may not realize this, but the new Windows Modern interface with Tiles and Live Tiles is the future and for once Microsoft is not playing follow the leader, they are the leader

Microsoft has created a new user interface not solely because touch isn’t ideally suited for Windows Classic/Desktop mode, but also because 25 years after the first Windows computers were shipped, we are now using computers differently and no longer benefit from the Windows of the past.

Microsoft has developed the Modern user interface to start over again, start over with new simpler way of using computers and simpler doesn’t mean limited

In the past 3 years, Microsoft has migrated this new and still developing user interface across all the screens you use every day.

Modern can now be found on your phone, your television via the Xbox 360, Windows RT for their low power tablets and hybrids as well as Windows 8 for all the existing computers powered by Intel and AMD based computers and laptops.

So consider the bandage “torn off” and now it’s time to adopt this new user interface on your computers with mice, your laptops with touch pads, your tablets and smartphones with touch, or via several hybrid methods – Microsoft has given its users plenty of flexibility and freedom for us to choose and hardware manufacturers introduce product types we have never seen before.

For me and a few million others who adopted Windows Phone 7 – which first introduced the Metro/Modern interface to the public, well, we “get it” as some people would say and we not only “get it” we are crazy in love with it!

APPLE OSX & IOS
For people using the Apple ecosystem they are using two interfaces, one for the desktop which uses a mouse or track pad and a second interface for mp3 players, phones and tablets.

Mac computers as well as MacBooks are both based on the user interface released over 25 years ago. It works great with a mouse or track pad, but they don’t work well with touch – and we know this not just because Steve Jobs has said so, but also because reviews of computers upgraded with 3rd party touch surfaces have been terrible.

Apple’s iOS platforms work great with touch, but don’t work vey well with a mouse pointer.

So you see, Apple is facing what Microsoft faced, two operating systems, two separate platforms and neither can be the basis for a future user interface for both of their quickly colliding platforms.

Google Android & Chrome
I propose we don’t have to worry about Google and their plans at this time. Why do I say this? Google hasn’t really developed anything new and will likely follow what ever Apple does, or they will adopt a similar approach to Microsoft.

Either way Google will be Google and I would be surprised if they make any changes to their platforms before Apple does.

KICKING THE CAN
So, are you going to kick the can until you run out of sidewalk and avoid Windows 8 Modern interface for as long as you can, or are you going to recycle that can start using Windows 8 and it’s new and improved Start Screen and as many new Modern apps as appropriate, or are you going to be the last to adopt and be left behind?

What about people who use Apple’s iPhone, iPad and Macs? Well, all of those users will be learning a new interface in the future – every single one of them, because whether Apple’s touch and mouse friendly interface is 1 year away or 4 years away, it is coming and no will have any say about it and believe me, Apple will not be as supportive and flexible as Microsoft is being with Windows 8, no, the past dictates that Apple will quickly abandon their users and push you all to new computers, phones and tablets running their new operating system.

You don’t believe me? It’s in Apple’s DNA to cut the rope of their customers: Apple III, Apple Lisa, Mac System 7 hardware, Mac OS 9 and again in 2006 with OS X and abandoning all their PowerPC Macs all became obsolete overnight and lost all support from Apple and software developers within 18 months. Only the new Macs would have updated apps and peripherals.

So, would you rather buy into and invest in Windows 8 and Modern and know you are already using the operating system and platform for the next 20-30 years, or buy an iPhone, iPad and Mac only to wake up in 2014 with huge paper weights?!

Not only that, but when Apple makes this change, and it’s going to be a big change, you are going to have to use this new platform, and it will not have benefitted by being used and changed over 3 years like Microsoft was able to do.

Buying a Mac or iPad in 2013 is like buying bellbottoms in 1979 when the “cool people” were burning their disco records.

kids-share-content

So, have you been reading the reviews for the HTC 8X, Lumia 920 any of the several other Windows Phone 8 devices?  Maybe you stopped reading them because you don’t believe that Windows phone is a mature platform and trails iPhone and Android? There are no apps for Windows Phone – hogwash! Are there apps which are “missing” from the Windows Phone Store, yes. But are these the apps you will be installing? Hardly. Perhaps the only app missing from the Windows Phone Store that the average user will be wanting to use is Instagram, and not that Instagram has been acquired by Facebook, it shouldn’t be long before Microsoft makes arrangements to bring Instagram to Windows Phone. You will be able to find many, many apps of all sorts on Windows Phone.

Well, then you haven’t heard the entire story and you might be interested in some very real ways where Windows Phone 8 can school the iPhone and Android phones on some very real ways.

1. Child Safety:

IPhone:  The Apple  iPhone allows you to block users from running certain programs, using the phone’s camera, iOS can even limit iTunes purchases to those without parental advisories.
But all these “restrictions” have to be set on the phone and each restriction must be set individually.

Android: Google’s efforts to protect children is nearly nonexistent and if you want to set anything other than restrict the purchasing of apps in the Play Store you are out of luck because Google doesn’t have any way to protect your children and leaves that up to app developers.

Windows Phone 8: Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone 8 operating system has a cloud based approach to child safety and is fully integrated into the Windows Phone 8 and the settings you create on the cloud permeate to their Windows 8/RT user profiles as well as Xbox 360.
Microsoft also makes it super simple, select from Child, Teen, Adult or Custom.  The settings you choose for the Xbox 360 overlap to the settings your choose for Windows Phone 8, Windows 8/RT.
As a parent, it always seems like our children learn how to bypass every measure we put in place so that they can be free from restrictions.  One of the benefits of this cloud based parental controls system is that you, as their parent, can always check the settings of your child’s account online and not have to go through each setting on their phone to see if they are all set appropriately,

2.  Share your phone with your children, or protect your personal data from others

iPhone: n/a

Android: n/a

Windows Phone 8: Windows Phone 8 has a special mode which creates a “phone within a phone” on your Windows Phone 8 device.  This mode is called, Kid’s Corner.  Kid’s Corner can be used with your toddler or pre-teen who doesn’t yet possess their own phone.  Kids corner lets you select the apps which can be used in Kid’s Corner, the music they can play, the games you deem appropriate as well as the videos they can watch.   All this protected by your phones password.
No longer can your kids pick up your phone and drain the battery when your not watching it. This same Kid’s Corner prevents expensive app and music purchases as well as the embarrassing emails and phone calls made to your boss or co-workers or a costly international call.

Do not confuse Kid’s Corner with Parental Controls.  Parental controls are set on a phone which you give to your child as their phone.  Kid’s Corner is a secondary user account created on your personal phone and it limited to running only the apps you allow.

3. Camera – Simple to use and Keeps your Phone Secure!

Each Windows Phone has a dedicated camera button. that’s why when you look at a Windows Phone device you will likely never see the camera app set as a Live Tile.  Whether the phone is off, on, password protected or in Kid’s Corner mode, all you have to do is press the dedicated camera button on the phone an the camera activates.
When your phone is unlocked, any photo you take can be instantly tagged and shared on Facebook, sent via mms/text message email, etc.  When your phone is locked, the camera still functions as above, but with one important difference.  The camera operates, but you can only view the photos you just took.  You can’t share them, go into other menu’s on the phone and the only photos you can view are the ones you just took.  To gain access to the other features again, enter your phone’s password.

Another thing you may read about in a basic review of Windows Phone is that photos taken with the phone are taken just like a ‘real camera’ press the camera button on the top right of the phone – viola, no teaching Aunt Mary or your Mother on how to take a picture with your phone.  No taking 3 minutes to teach someone to us your phone as a camera in stead of taking your photo.

These are some of the things you will not hear much about because they cant be compared to the competition, because the competitions offerings aren’t as sound, as mature or as easy to use.  It may not be because the reviewer is trying to hide these features from you, it’s more likely that they don’t have children and don’t care about those things.

Why does this happen, why don’t these reviewers talk about these features which will make any parent’s job a little easier and children a lot safer?  Because they know how to use iPhone, or they know how to use Android, both of those operating system operate very similarly to one another.  Windows Phone and Windows Phone 8 doesn’t work like the others.  this is by design.

Microsoft could not place these child modes or child and teen safety features in their phones if they did not create a new platform.  A new platform which puts emphasis into safety; Safety from intruders, from thief’s, hackers as well as keeping your children safe.

So, as a parent, you should be looking for a phone which you and your family can use and one in which the phone manufacture puts as much emphasis on designing a fresh and easy to use phone as well as a company which has designed their platform for every user in the home, even if they are too young to have there own phone.

Keep a lookout for the next edition of Features you wont hear about on Windows Phone soon.