Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

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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.

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The new plans from T-Mobile and AT&T which allow customers to upgrade their phones as frequently as every 6 months as it is in T-Mobile’s case or every 12 months in the case of AT&T may just give Micosoft and Nokia new opportunities to not only gain much needed market share, but steal away the very valuable and influential smartphone enthusiasts who crave the cutting edge hardware they crave.

Mac or PC – It’s an Investment

My reasoning is that consumers aren’t married to their smartphone platform in the same way they are for their Windows or OSX based computers and laptop.

When you purchase a laptop or desktop computer, you are making an investment in hardware. Neither Windows of Macs come with productivity software, so the consumer makes additional investments in a word processor, photo editing software, video editing software, software to play DVDs or Blurays.

This is a big investment to make and one that you plan on leveraging for years to come. Upgrade it little by little and very quickly you have, “bought into” the platform you chose.

Smartphones

Up until this summer, Americans “buy a phone” for a discounted rate and are locked into a contract for 24 months – this lock isn’t just for their wireless service, it’s also linked to the smartphone you purchase.

Apps are for the most part free and an “expensive” app or game could cost you $10, but more than likely, if you buy an app it will yt between $2-$3.

Like in the example above, you have now invested in the cost of the phone, you may have purchased some apps, but the investment is very small and I’d argue many people spend much more a at Starbucks in one visit than most people pay for their apps in 6 months.

Smartphone users no longer have the same capital invested in apps and games because they are free or very low cost, they still have the 2 year commitment to the smartphone.

This commitment to one phone, one platform for 24 months is not to be taken likely and I believe that people’s loyalty to their 2 year plan extends to the device they chose and for many people they make the most of it and select the “best phone at the time.”

Next and Jump!

So now we have the plans from AT&T and T-Mobile which allow users to exchange their phone on a more frequent basis and since the users never buy the phone and have to trade it in to get the newest plan they now have the opportunity to get a new phone – a clean slate.

So every 6 or 12 months customers can trade in their current phone for a brand new device. There is a premium for this service, but making a trip to Starbucks once a day is much more costly than these carriers’ premium plans.

So now the 2 year commitment is out of the equation and consumers who choose one of these plans they now have the mindset that they phone they have today will not be the phone they have next month or in the near future.

The shackles are gone

If Nokia and Microsoft and Blackberry for that matter can come out with phone designs that are compelling on a reguar enough basis, keep them current and up to date, the person who has an iPhone, Galaxy or One trades in the phone they have only had for a short period of time, they are free to choose the smartphone with the most “wow factor.”

I could see many people who purchased a high end smartphone from Apple, Samsung or HTC trade and on their 6 or 12 month cycle “try” a phone like the Nokia Lumia 1020 – with its revolutionary 41MP sensor and HD zoom technology.

One of the biggest barriers to switching phones has been removed and in AT&Ts case, after 12 months, they can exchange their year old phone for the latest and greatest with no money down – not even any fees.

What about the App Store?

While I will be the first to say that there are some holes in the Windows Phone 8 Store, most people will never notice – well, maybe after Instagram gets released for Windows Phone, but seriously, there are an abundance of apps in the Store and while there isn’t everything, if consumes switch platforms, the developers will follow their customers to Windows Phone.

Gosh, once users have HERE Drive+, HERE Transit, HERE Maps and discover the built-in and instantly accessible app-like features built into Bing on Windows Phone, they will see the wealth of features available to them and everyone who has a Windows Phone out of the box – it’s really an amazing feeling showing an Android or iPhone users Bing Vision or Bing Music. They go nuts!

Loyalty and Superfans [Disclosure: I am a Microsoft and Nokia superfan]

For every Android, iPhone or Windows Phone 8 superfan out there, there are 30 more who are not loyal to any of the smartphone platforms. These people are heavily influenced by that one friend, co-worker or family member and will then make a purchase based on what these people have.

If Nokia and Microsoft can come out with smartphones with WOW features that people really can relate to and then see the superior results immediately – like with an ultrahigh resolution phone with “zoom later” capabilities, then I believe these people, the non-techy people will be drawn to the “new” Windows Phone platform.

Of course, if Microsoft and Nokia don’t upgrade both the operating system with more features and improve upon not just the phones camera, but evolve beyond the imagination they will get more users leave Android and leave iPhone.

Wrap-up

So while these plans for power users aren’t for everyone, they do allow consumers in the US who are locked to a carrier in 2 year contracts one to three additional times in their contract to trade-in the old for the WOW!

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

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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. 😉

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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.

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.