Archive for the ‘Miccrosoft Surface’ Category

Way back in 1999, two tech startups introduced the first direct to consumer Digital Video Recorders. Both Tivo and ReplayTV introduced into the retail channels their first generation of DVRs. These two DVRs had plenty in common, but also had their own take on how to get their products and services into the mass market.
Tivo
Tivo supplied an inexpensive DVR into the retail channel. However, the DVR could not be operated without their Monthly, or later, Lifetime TV Guide services for $9.99/mo or $200 for lifetime.

ReplayTV
ReplayTV supplied a more premium product into the retail channel, however their products were priced 3-4x higher than Tivo, however it did include the necessary program guide for no added fee.

Both the Tivo and ReplayTV were both limited to recording only one standard definition program at a time. The program guide was updated and collected nightly via your home phone line. Both products could be configured to work with coax (free) cable television, or could be connected to a premium cable box or satellite box to access premium content such as HBO, Showtime and other pay channels.

During initial installation, the user would select which antenna, cable or satellite service they were using and that specific guide would be downloaded to their boxes.

Dish Network licensed technology from Microsoft to bring DVR capabilities to their customers. Built into the satellite box, users of Dish had the added convenience of having one less piece of hardware to place beside their television.

Being designed by Microsoft, the Dish DVR also brought basic web browsing features to the family television.

In Europe, the current satellite television providers provided “plus” (+) boxes which included the satellite tuner plus hard disk for time shifting content.

While these products were all available in 1999 or early 2000, these products were still very much a niche product and while people had had Video Cassette Recorders (VCRs) for years now, the mass public still did not know what a DVR was, nor did they even understand how a DVR could actually enhance their television viewing experience.

Usage
People who owned a DVR loved their DVR and most homes had more than one – in many cases people had 3, 4 or even 6 DVRs in their homes.

Since the first DVRs could only record one show at a time, people started stacking their DVRs up under their televisions and soon people went from having one cable box per television to having 3 DVRs and 3 cable boxes per television!

As you can imagine, the cable companies loved this scenario, because they were now making more in monthly box fees than ever before. Homes went from paying $30 per month for cable boxes to paying $100. In those days, you also subscribed for premium channels on a per box fee, not a per household fee.

Just 2 years later, in 2001, second generation products were hitting store shelves. These products allowed for watching one live show and recording one show at a time.

ReplayTV added a networking feature which allowed multiple Replay TVs in a home share previously recorded content on one ReplayTV and watch it on anther ReplayTV on the same network.

Soon TiVo would add similar features as well add more features unique to TiVo where they would recommend and record shows for you based on your existing recording habits. This didn’t always work very well and if you happened to record the Golden Girls one time, it would seem that your TiVo now thought you were a “chic” and record all shows that aired for “chics.”

Today that wouldn’t be big problem, but back then, if you could only record one show at a time and your DVR could only hold 10, 20 or later, 30 hours of television, this feature had its haters.

What else did these early DVRs do?
Well, ReplayTV was the first to allow “streaming” shows recorded on one ReplayTV device and play them on another ReplayTV device in the home, but ReplayTV was also the first (and only?) DVR company to allow users to SHARE recorded programs over the internet to other friends and family who also owned a ReplayTV! By linking two or more ReplayTV units with a secret code, all future recordings from one ReplayTV could be sent/received by another ReplayTV.

Sharing recordings was a two-step process. First the user had to share the program and secondly, the receiver would have to accept the show before it would begin transferring. While this was a little cumbersome, it was a unique and amazing way to share shows with family and friends – remember, only one show could be recorded at time. J

All of these program sharing features have since been removed from all modern DVRs because of costly litigation from the content owners (network television, mpaa, etc).

Enter Windows Media Center
Microsoft, who already had several DVR products and technologies in various states of release and or development brought a new and unique product to market with it’s OEM hardware partners – Enter Windows XP Media Center Edition – yes, XP!

In 2001, Microsoft brought the DVR to the home PC however there a couple differences between the Microsoft offering and the consumer products that were already in the market.

Whereas the products from TiVo, ReplayTV, Dish, etc all included one or more dedicated analog tv tuner(s) paired with dedicated MPEG-2 (some proprietary) encoders to quickly convert the analog television signal into a digital MPEG-2 file that could be stored and replayed, the solutions for Windows XP Media Center were a mixed bag of mostly cheap analog tuners without the hardware MPEG-2 encoders. Because these early “Media Center PCs” sold by Hewlett Packard, Dell, Gateway and others didn’t have the dedicated horsepower like the DVRs did these Media Center PCs weren’t able to consistently record programs in full quality. Many recordings had ships or blocky images, audio distortion or simply didn’t complete a single recording to the end of the airing show – but there was promise in this fledgling system….

Enter the Media Center Extender…
Another very notable difference was that Windows Media Center supported a mode called an “Extender” where a “dumb” set top box, could extend the Media Center interface to the living room, bedroom or other televisions throughout the home.

These Media Center Extenders as the name suggests, would extend your copy/installation of Windows Media Center on your PC to multiple televisions in your home. Every networked Extender when turned on, would connect to the Windows Media Center PC and actually be run on the PC as a separate user.

This distinction of the Extender running the software on your WMC PC and not on the extender itself, allowed Microsoft to circumvent future legal issue that plagued, hindered and eventually would put many DVR companies out of business.

Computers Get Faster
Over the years to follow, computers would get faster and better able to multitask. Hard disk drives would become faster and the link between the CPU and the HDD would become faster too, allowing for many-multiple shows to be recorded at once.

TV Tuners with dedicated MPEG-2 encoders would be released, although costly, many of these cards cost $200 and came with 2 standard definition tuners. Thus a home Media Center PC could record 2, 4 or even 6 shows at one time!

But just because it could be done, doesn’t mean that it was easy to build the computer, configure the software and once working, Windows Media Center required a lot of maintenance to keep it operating smoothly.

New versions of Windows Media Center

With Windows Vista, Microsoft was ready to unbundle Media Center from a dedicated product sold by OEMS and package this software and interface into the more premium versions of Widows Vista.

Windows Media Center would get enhanced and upgraded over the years with support for 16:9 widescreen televisions, support for recording premium cable content with the use of CableLabs certified CableCards provided by the local cable companies.

All was not rosy
While anyone could configure their Pro or Ultimate versions of Windows Vista or later Windows 7 to work with standard definition television tuners; premium (pay) channels still require that a user have a dedicated cable box for each tuner on their Media Center PC.

Another problem for Windows Media Center’s central hub was that people didn’t have computers in their living rooms where they had their Cable TV coming into their home. Home also didn’t have wired networks and wifi networks were too slow and too unreliable to transmit video.

Now, HDTV is transmitted through the cable service already in MPEG-2 format in 720p and 1080i standards. Windows Media Center computers no longer need to convert the video signal into MPEG-2 formats and allows for much more reliable recording and trouble free use.

For me personally, I switched from having a dedicated Media Center PC to combining my main PC and Media Center PC into one. That’s less overall cost for the system and one PC uses less electricity than 2 computers, and much less electricity than 2, 3 or 4 DVRs from the cable company.

Fast forward to today

Before all these latest advancements, even a geek like me couldn’t rely on using one computer to do it all and was much easier to have two machines.

Many households are getting their internet connection from the Cable company so they now have a cable going to their computer – in addition to their TVs. The same cable that feeds your internet, also can be your one cable to supply your home with all your television. Most homes top out at 12, others have more.

The “main” computer isn’t used every day or even ever week. People are using their mobile devices and phones on their sofa, bedroom, etc.

Fast wireless networks are the norm in many households and many homes now either have a wired Ethernet connection to various rooms in their home.

While not every television in the home has a DVD or Blu-ray player, every television is connected to a cable box and/or Cable Company provided DVR. Our need for having premium content on each of our televisions, or rather, the requirement set by the Cable companies to have a “box” on every television, keeps us tethered and paying premium prices for services we may or may not be using on a daily basis.

The Best features of your Leased DVR and none of the annoying or bad stuff

  • No advertisements: there are NO ADS in the program guide and there are no ads when switching channels
  • Remove annoying unused channels: Only have Media Center expose the channels you subscribe to and/or use in the program guide
  • Watch recorded shows on any television connected to an Xbox 360 – regardless of where you recorded it
  • Stream your home videos or play photo slideshows on your TV without having to transfer them to your tv
  • If you have a DVD or Blu-ray movie collection, you can add on 3rd party Media Center apps to allow you to stream those movies anywhere in your home – without leaving Media Center
  • 3rd party apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows 8 and Windows Phone that allows you to remotely record shows when you are away from home
  • More

Xbox 360 Media Center Extender
Over 25 million Xbox 360s sold in the USA – over 78 million worldwide.

With so many homes already owning an Xbox 360 and many of those homes already owning a Windows PC, there are a lot of people who could quickly and easily switch from their Cable TV monthly rentals to a single much less expensive CableCard rental. Each CableCard supports up to 6 simultaneous channels recording or playing back at once and combining 2 of these cards can give you a total of 12 shared simultaneous channels shared on ALL your televisions.

The Xbox 360 is also the first game console with support for the most popular HD streaming services from Netflix, Amazon, Comcast/Xfinity, Time Warner Cable, ESPN, Hulu Plus, ESPN, Vudu, CinemaNow, HBO Go and many more. There is also the Microsoft Xbox Video service which allows you to rent or purchase 1080p movies – before many are available for sale on Blu-ray!

With all these services available on the Xbox 360 as well as it being able to play all your DVDs, the Xbox can become the one and only device next to or under your television.

The latest Xbox that supports Media Center Extender is the Xbox 360 E. An Xbox 360 E with 4GB storage (plenty of space for non-gamers) lists for $199 and can be found selling for $180 new at retailers. The older slightly larger Xbox 360 S 4GB can be found selling for around $120 used on Craigslist or game store. (Note: The Xbox One does not have support for Windows Media Center Extender).

Repurpose your desktop or tower Windows computer

Don’t throw away your “old computer”

Repurposing your lightly used Windows computer and adding the hardware to allow it to record HDTV and share it around your home is a no brainer.

Is your old Windows computer still running Windows Vista or Windows 7? Have you not felt the need to upgrade to Windows 8.x? Why not? Chances are you haven’t upgraded the OS because love it or hate it, it works just fine and allows you to do everything you need.

  • Store digital photos from your camera or phone – check!
  • Surf the World Wide Web – check!
  • Send and receive email – check!
  • Pay your bills – check!

Get Under-used Computers Back in Circulation!
Chances are, you purchased a good computer at the time thinking you would be using it for years to come. However, now we find ourselves ignoring the home office or computer desk and are using other devices around the home.

So you see, the computer that you purchased 3, 4 or even 6 years ago has all the horsepower it needs to be a Media Center PC and record cable HDTV. Note: the PC you already own may not be powerful enough to record over the air television from an antenna, or standard definition television using a “tv tuner,” but today’s CableCard tuners are nothing more than a fancy network card – and a slow one at that. 😉

What does it cost to get going and replace one of your Cable Company rented DVRs with a Media Center Extender?

Well, if you already own an Xbox 360 – and 78 million of you do, and you are one of the 68% of households that has a PC running Windows Vista, 7 or 8.x then you only have to pay a onetime fee for the HD Cable tuner that is certified by CableLabs and by Microsoft.

You may be able to still find 4 tuner cards or solutions, but the tuners have a total of 6 available tuners on one device.

You can get one that sits inside your PC, or you can buy one that sits outside your pc and connects to your home network’s router with a standard Ethernet cable.

These cards list for $300, but can be found for less – Newegg has sales on the cards every so often, but they usually sell new for $260.

A single DVR rental costs $120 a year before service fees and taxes. A Single CableCard rental which supports up to 6 tuners, will cost only cost you about $48 a year.

That’s the savings just for replacing one DVR, if you have more than one DVR or televisions in your home without a DVR or cablebox, just buy a used Xbox 360 for $120 and instantly get access to both live and recorded television on that TV as well!

Depending on the Windows OS version you are running you may not have to purchase an upgrade as many shipping PCs with Vista and Windows 7 included Media Center. Windows 8 removed both DVD player and Media Center from the standard versions, but it can be added on as an upgrade – prices vary, so you will have to check your version and local retailer.

Windows Media Center isn’t for Everyone

While I am a huge advocate of Windows Media Center and Ceton’s InfiniTV CableCard digital tuners, there are some people who should switch or upgrade to Windows Media Center.

  • If you don’t have an existing Windows PC
  • If you only have a Mac (there are no CableCard and/or HD Compatible solutions for any platform other than Windows)
  • People who like remote controls with 30 buttons on them (Xbox Media Remote is easy to use and doesn’t require you to look at the remote in order to find the function/button you need)

Heck, I was talking about easy… My 82 year old mother installed Windows 8 Media Center herself with me directing her over the phone a couple of years ago. Since then, she’s had little to no issues. If she reboots her computer once a month or after major Windows Updates, everything works as it should.

I am happy to say, that uses her television much more than before and has mastered recording her favorite series on television – whether she gets around to watching them or not. 😉

As for me, I’m still a “power user” and in addition to recording everything, most shows I watch later after they have been automatically processed, commercials removed and placed in their series folders.

microsoft_surface_phone_8_by_yronimus-d54trfa

The current rumor going around is that Microsoft is going to rename their Surface tablets as Lumia’s.

I don’t know if this is indeed going to happen and if so, when and for what reasons, but this is what I could see happening going forward.

First, it is very difficult to trademark a name or brand in one country, let alone trademark one on a worldwide basis.  Look no further way than last year when Microsoft was forced to rename their cloud storage service, SkyDrive to OneDrive because Sky TV fought in court that the name SkyDrive belonged to them, and or it would confuse their customer base.

We can also go back to Microsoft naming their new tablet PC products as “Surface.”  Surface is a trademark held by Microsoft and used for their tabletop computers with 4 foot touch screens.  But that all changed when Microsoft surprised the world with their Surface and Surface Pro tablet PCs.

It was easier for Microsoft to use an existing trademark they already owned and enforced worldwide than create a new name for their first personal computers.   While the Surface computer was well known by news executives and weather-persons at top market news stations and a handful of geeks, the name or word Surface wasn’t used by the every day person on the street.

So, this brings me to 2014 and Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia.  With Nokia, came the Lumia brand/trademark.  Other than people, it is the one thing we understand that Microsoft got with the purchase of the mobile division. 

As stated above, it is much easier to take an existing brand name you already have trademarked around the globe and reuse it, rather than start again from scratch — that takes time, and Microsoft is nearly out of time.

So loosely, Lumia is already used by Nokia to represent their Windows Phones and ARM based tablet running Windows RT — both platforms use the ARM architecture to power the Lumia devices.

Microsoft’s Surface however, is used for both Windows 8.x tablet PCs running on the Intel x86-64 architecture, such as the initial Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2 and the new Surface Pro 3.  However, Microsoft’s ARM based Surface and Surface 2 run the Windows on ARM variation of Windows 8.x and can run the new Windows 8 apps, but not the Windows “desktop” programs so many expect a Windows PC to run.

To cut out some of the confusion, Microsoft would be smart to leverage the Lumia brand they just acquired from Nokia and apply that brand to all ARM based Windows phones, tablets and personal computers (should the future bring such a PC).

So, could the future of Windows Phone and ARM based Windows be branded as Lumia, while the Surface brand is reserved for x86?  That certainly makes more sense then continuing a loosing battle to market both or Microsoft’s tablet as Pro and “non-Pro.”

ed: look at Samsung, they have “Galaxy” for Android and “ATIV”, a word I still don’t know how to pronounce, still haven’t heard anyone speak in a television commercial and I can’t remember; and they use it as their “brand” all of their Windows Phones, tablets and laptops — no wonder thieir PC sales are down and Lenovo’s PC sales are up (hint: ThinkPad and Yoga)

While analysts and original equipment manufactures are cheering the death of Windows RT and the Surface RT, I think it’s a blessing that these vendors are leaving Windows RT.

This allows Microsoft to develop new and improved products unhindered and free to create.

Microsoft will not have to worry about their (fair-weather) partners complaining that Microsoft has an unfair advantage over them.

Microsoft is now free to create a new generation of products as distinct as the iPad and as advanced as the 41 megapixel Nokia Lumia 1020.

Like they did with the simple addition of an integrated kick stand and revolutionary Touchcover keyboard.

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).

No, there is no surprise here and anyone who claims that it is a surprise and/or revolution – well, they are either intentionally feeding into the hype or they are reporters (enthusiasts) who are wearing Apple Inc blinders.

128GB iPad – this is not surprising, this is typical Apple and the same tactic all premium brands with “inflated” product prices do.

When the iPad was released with a 64GB option there were a certain percentage of people who will pay top dollar to have the best.
When these “top of the line” models sales begin to decline then Apple has no choice to release a new model which will take over the top of the line spot.  This new model also must not cost Apple any more in R&D.

This model is not designed but for a few to buy, no, this model is not created because users are craving more storage.  This new 128GB model was designed to sell more 64GB models and bring that production and it’s higher margins and higher net profits back to the levels it was selling at when first launched.

16GB and 32GB parts costs are pretty much fixed because those memory sizes are mass production and foundries have no problem manufacturing them.

64GB parts are newer, there are less factories manufacturing them, but Apple purchased them a year in advance and because Apple purchased so many of these parts they have a lower price as compared to other vendors. Why? Because Apple’s huge guaranteed order helped pay for the factories and advanced technology required to make them. Everyone else buys these new 64GB parts for considerably more because the memory manufacturer still needs to make a profit for this new part.

So the iPad 64GB model is the sweet spot for pure profits and Apple is not going to let this highly profitable products sales decline, in fact they need to sell more of them.

Enter the 128GB iPad.  Now when people are shopping for their iPad they will be presented with four options, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB.  If you were shopping for an iPad and didn’t need anything fancy the 16GB model would be sufficient for most users, but iPads, just like iPhones can not be upgraded once you buy it so most people will buy the 32GB model.

The iPad is luxury device for most people.  Between smartphones, laptops and desktop computers, most users do not have a “need” for an iPad, but they have a “want” for an iPad.

Before the 128GB iPad was announced most people looked at the 64GB model first with glazed over eyes and drooling down their chin.  But who can justify getting the top of the line iPad when in fact you don’t even know what you are going to use it for?

In comes the 128GB model to distract and be the new product  people crave and see in the Apple Store and can not justify so what do they do now? They are not practical and do not buy the 32GB model which would have been fine just last week, no, they purchase the 64GB model, one step down from the best.

Sure, there will be people purchasing the 128GB iPad, but those people aren’t looking at the prices and never have. This model is not made to be sold, it’s made to convince you to buy the 64GB model which makes Apple the most revenue and profits.

Before you ask, no this same model does not entirely apply to the Microsoft Surface RT and Surface Pro.  Yes, Microsoft is making good money on each Surface sold, but you see they are selling only two memory configurations for the RT and Pro each, and Microsoft also includes an industry standard MicroSD slot so people who purchase any of Microsoft’s 4 Surface computers at 32, 64, or 128GB can upgrade them with an additional 64 or 128GB of storage.

So, remember what I just taught you not only have I saved you a few hundred bucks, but I also kept some revenue away from Apple Inc. 😉

By now, many of you have read why Windows 8 sucks or how the Surface RT is a failure and how everyone should skip the Surface RT and purchase the Surface Pro running Windows 8. Or maybe you have heard that sales of the Surface RT are way below expectations?  Or maybe you have even heard, as I have, that the new Windows 8 user interface, Modern UI (metro) can’t do many of the things Windows 7 could do?

Hog wash!

Microsoft Windows 8 and Windows RT 

Touch vs. Mouse

This is the biggest area of confusion for even the most technical of Windows users.  Windows 8 supports both touch and mouse controls, the gestures you use for touch are not the same as the gestures you use for the mouse – why would they?   You don’t poke a mouse with your finger as you would a touch screen, you cradle a mouse with the palm of your hand and move the pointer with movements of your entire arm.

With that said, the controls on Windows 8 appear the same on screen, but are accessed differently based on whether you have a touchscreen, mouse or trackpad – as you would on a laptop.  For the sake of this writing I will refer to mouse and touchpad as mouse since they are used by Window nearly identically.

The methods of accessing the menus in Windows 8/RT are dictated by your choice of pointing device: Finger or mouse. No matter your pointing device, the menus are the same.  For example, the Charms Bar on the right of the screen always reveals, the Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings.  The menu on the left of your screen always displays thumbnails of programs running in the background.  Then their are other menus revealed in other programs. These two are consistent in use, but are tailored to the program you are running at the time.

How to Reveal the Charms Bar

Mouse: bump your mouse pointer to and then past the bottom right hand corner of your screen, then move your mouse pointer up along the right side of your screen.  The Charms Bar is revealed.

Touch: Take your pointer finger and place it on the outside of your computer screen. With a light touch, move your pointer finger left and onto the screen towards the middle. After your finger moves slightly past the edge onto the screen the Charms Bar is revealed.

The 5 menus on the Charms Bar are always revealed whether the action applies to the program you running or not.  However, the context behind the menus changes based on the program you are running.

Example, Open the Devices tool when you are viewing an email and it will reveal printers available on your network so that you can print the email.  Open the Devices tool when you are viewing a video and you wont see a printer listed, you will instead see any DLNA devices on your network such as a smart TV, blueray player, Xbox or even a PS3.  Selecting one of these devices, if available, will send your video from your Winnows 8/RT device to your TV – simple!

** Yes, a Window tablet running Windows RT can print to most printers and scan from scanners out of the box, no drivers to download or special devices to purchase! (try this on an iPad or Android tablet)

Beautiful, smart and aware of what each app is capable 0f, Windows is shedding the endless cascading menus used in “legacy” or “desktop” apps and moving to an all-new future with a clean design.

Desktop (legacy) Programs vs. Windows 8 Modern Apps (native, metro apps)

The programs you are running today and have been using on Windows for years are now referred to as “desktop apps.” These desktop apps do not use the new Windows 8 Modern Interface or menus like the new Charms Bar and are run on “the desktop,” they continue to work as they always have.

Desktop apps do not, and never have been required to go through any testing by Microsoft to verify they contain bugs, virus’, malware, etc.  Programs and drivers, not Windows is the main cause your computer crashes.

These desktop apps will not run on the new low power computers and tablets running Windows RT.   They require Intel or AMD x86/x64 processors which power most of todays computers are built upon.  Whether run on Windows Vista, Windows 7 or 8 these programs behave and operate just as they always have.  There are some power saving and improvements in speed and performance brought by Windows 8, but generally behave as they always have.

Windows RT based computers, whether they look like tablets or laptops are all based upon the ARM SoC platform – much like your smartphone, Android or iPad tablets.

Then there are the new Windows 8 apps which have been written or rewritten to take advantage of Windows 8, it’s friendly touch interface, are finger and mouse friendly and with little modification also run on Windows RT and even can be ported to Windows Phone 8.  Another benefit is that all Windows 8 apps are purchased and installed from the online Microsoft Store. No more searching via Google, Bing or going to your local computer store to buy an app.  You now search, find, purchase and install the app from the internet.  There is another benefit to this method of purchase as well; no longer will you have to worry about ill-behaving programs crashing your computer or possibly installing malicious software since Microsoft tests and certifies each app available in their Store.

Where is the Start Menu!? Start Screen and Taskbar

The Start Menu we have been accustomed to using on Windows for decades has now adapted to a Start SCREEN.  No longer do you have to drill down through your All Programs menu/folder to find the app you want to use.  Nor do you have to sort through all the files, documents, etc which most programs install only to get to the one your want to use.

Now you “pin” the apps to your Start Screen and leave the useless and unused links and programs where they belong – hidden and out of the way, yet easily accessible if you wish with one finger flick or right-mouse click and then selecting “all programs.”

The new Start Screen is not to dissimilar to the way people put links to their most frequently used programs to their desktop; except that these links are now inside a square “tile” and can be organized into groups along with your new Windows 8 apps which use the new “Live Tiles.”

Live Tiles are live and while seem like icons or widgets on Android are neither.  Live Tiles are part of the program they represent and continually update the status of their associated program.  For example, if you are waiting for an important email (aren’t they all important?) you no longer have to keep your entire email program open, nor do you have stop what you are working on and open y0ur email program every 10 minutes to see if it arrived. No, you watch out for your email’s Live Tile to show you a new email has arrived.

The Start Screen is more efficient and makes it faster to access the programs, files, webpages you access most frequently.  The ones you don’t use as frequently are still be placed on the Start Screen, but can be placed away from view, on the side where you can scroll to the far right of your the Start Screen to access them when needed.

Simple, easy, and frankly, not that new of an idea.  Many people have been bypassing the Start Menu for years and placing their frequently used programs, files and webpages on their desktop.

Since Windows 8 is still new and at this writing is still only about 2 months old, the reality is we will be using both Desktop apps and Windows 8 apps for a year or more.  Microsoft knows this and has made placing links to your frequently used legacy apps just as easy to pin them to Start Screen, as it is to pin them to your Taskbar (the Taskbar is part of your desktop.) Simple, uncomplicated and the best of both worlds.

“All Programs”

Where did my “all programs” folder go to?  Simply right-click anywhere on your Start Screen (not on a tile) and an “all programs” button will appear and lead you to all the programs installed on your computer.

I’m a geek/nerd and need the Start Menu!

Do you really need a Start Menu supplement or hack to access the Control Panel, Power Options, Disk Management etc – used by power users and geeks like myself.  The answer is Windows 8 has a hidden menu where the Start Menu used to be and to access it you only need to right click in the bottom left corner of your screen to have it appear.

Why don’t these techie Windows users know about many of these things I am sharing with you – because they are not taking the time to learn and discover Windows 8 and it’s Windows RT counterpart on their own.  They are getting their information from bloggers who favor other platforms, or from forums with others who are not taking the time to learn what is Windows 8/RT fact or fiction- Sad, really sad.  The same people we rely on to keep our computers running properly or fix things when they break are ignorant when it comes to Windows 8.

It doesn’t matter what these people think, or what they write in the pages of their magazines, newspapers or blogs. What matters is that there is a new generation of operating system out today which is easy to use, works equally as well on a server, desktop PC, laptop, tablet and smartphone and YOU are not going to be afraid of it.

For a limited time you can upgrade your PC running Windows to Windows 8 for $40. It works equally well with your keyboard and mouse as it does on new touchscreen model – again, neither is better, only different.

If you need a laptop for school or for work, look at the Microsoft Surface RT. It comes with the latest version of Microsoft Office 2013, Home & Student edition with desktop versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  No, it can’t run the apps you are running on your desktop computer, but it can run all the newly designed apps from the Windows Store.  It will would be even more of a no-brainer for business’ if it had Outlook for email.

While your friends or colleagues are spending their day watching for an available public power outlet, you can relax and leave your charger behind because your RT computer will last all day and likely into the evening too.

When Microsoft announced that they would be entering the computer tablet market with Windows 8 and ARM based Windows RT tabletsin the Spring if 2012, Apple’s iPad was the dominant tablet in the market – it’s no coincidence that the iPads and and both of the announced Microsoft Surface tablets have 10″ screens.

Now fast forward forward to October 2012 and the fastest growing tablet segment is the 7″ market and the 10″ tablets (iPad) are loosing market share.

Apple, the company which once claimed there was no use for a 7″ tablet is suddenly highly expected to announce and ship an iPad “Mini” this Fall – this iPad Mini is also rumored to have a 7″ screen.

Could Microsoft’s Surface “division” have foreseen this shift to smaller tablet screens and designed a top secret 7″ Surface alongside the their 10″ offerings?

Maybe they will release 3 tablets, a Surface 8 Pro, Surface RT and a smaller sized Surface “rt” device?

Heck, its interesting that the newly announced hi-end Windows Phones not only have potentially more horsepower than the Surface RT (it is widely known that the Qualcomm S4 SoC with 2 cores out performs the Surface RT’s 4 core SoC from Nvidia) and they offer comparable if not identical screen resolutions.

There is no guarantee Microsoft has a smaller less costly Surface tablet ready to ship and curiously, there have been no leaks or rumors of a 7″ Windows RT tablet from any of Microsoft’s hardware partners.

I find it curious that there is not one 7″ Microsoft Windows tablet announced to date when the new “mini” tablets are taking over the market. :-/

Microsoft has been executing everything around the “Microsoft 2.0″ re-lunch so right – could they really have missed the 7” tablet space?

It would be a shame to see all the established Microsoft divisions, Application, Operating System, Entertainment and hardware (Xbox, mice, keyboards) come together in harmony and the new Surface tablet division bring the company down. 😥

Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone