A Few Bits About Windows “Threshold”

Interesting post by Paul Thurrott about the 2015 version of Windows, currently code named “Threshold.”

Windows 8.1 Service Pack/Feature Pack 1 will be about around the April 2014 timeframe this year.

During the Microsoft Build 2014 conference, also scheduled for April of this year, “Threshold” should get official as Windows 9.

Metro 2.0 should be arriving in Windows 9, allowing us to run traditional Windows desktop applications alongside Metro, aka “Modern UI”, applications.

And, thankfully, the Windows Start button and menu should be back in this release.

But most interesting, or maybe not, of over the 1 billion traditional desktop and laptop PCs that are out in the wild, there are only 25 million PCs currently running either Windows 8 or Windows 8.1.  Wow.

With the return of a more traditional Windows Start button and menu, and the ability to run Metro applications in a window next to traditional PC applications, I think Microsoft will be striking the correct balance between tablet and touch-enabled PCs and the traditional keyboard and mouse PCs that are still out there.

[Via Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows…]

Net Applications: Windows XP Loses Ground, Windows 8 Gains, and Mavericks Levels Off

Earlier today web analytics firm Net Applications released PC operating system numbers.

In a nutshell, today’s report keys on trends we would expect: Windows XP, first released back in 2001, is still hanging on at just below 30%.  Windows 8/8.1 are in a dead heat with Vista, with Windows 8 finally starting to gain ground and Windows 7 is still by far, the Windows desktop champ.

On the Apple front, Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks saw a huge 21% market share jump in November.  Compared to December’s numbers, Mavericks looked to be standing still with a 5% increase.

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[Via ComputerWorld.com…]

Nokia Set To Introduce New Devices Tomorrow

According to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, Nokia is set to unveil not one, not two, but up to six new devices tomorrow during an event to be held in Abu Dhabi.

This will be the first devices unveiling from the Nokia devices unit after having been acquired by Microsoft.  Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO, is now in change of running the devices unit as it gets absorbed by Microsoft.  Elop, a former Microsoft executive, will return to the company once the acquisition is fully completed early next year.

The article mostly goes on about the moves between Microsoft and their new Nokia devices business with just a few lines discussing tomorrow’s product unveilings of phones, “phablets,” and a new LTE-enabled tablet.  (We can only assume that the tablet offering(s) will run Windows 8.1 rather than the market flop, Windows RT 8.1.)

The interesting thing for me is the timing of this event.  It’s to be held on Oct. 22.  The same day Apple is set to hold their second fall event.  It always amazes me when tech companies hold media events on the same day.  I can kind of rationalize it during a trade show/conference, sort of, but outside of that environment it just blows my mind.

The Nokia folks have no doubt been working hard on their new products and are probably excited to show them off.  But with Apple coming in with what is rumored to be at least two new iPad announcements, the Nokia stuff is going to get drowned out in the mainstream and tech media.

Not so fast, you might be thinking. It takes months to stage and line up these kinds of events so it will be difficult to plan around Apple’s secretive schedule.  True, but if Holywood studios can move tentpole movies around the calendar to avoid colliding with another tentpole movie opening on the same day from a rival studio, then, surely, Nokia can do the same thing.  If nothing else, it would help ensure that their message gets across clearly to investors, IT technology buyers, and customers.

[Via WSJ.com…]

Outlook RT Will Arrive Later This Year

 The well connected Microsoft blogger Mary Jo Foley has an update on how the software company is trying to sweeten the appeal of the Windows RT operating system – releasing Outlook RT.  Outlook RT will ship with Windows “Blue” (aka Windows 8.1) which is rumored to ship late this summer (read: September).

“Microsoft will make available as part of its upcoming Windows 8.1 “Blue” release of Windows client the rumored Outlook 2013 RT mail client, company officials confirmed on June 5.”

This information was confirmed by Tami Reller, Microsoft’s Chief Financial Officer of Windows according to Foley’s ZDNet report.

But here’s the interesting thing about Outlook RT, if the report is accurate, it won’t replace Windows Mail client.  Sounds a bit nuts, no?  Given the opportunity to use Outlook or the basic featured bundled email client, I’d pick Outlook all day long.  But then again, I can’t seem to pick an email client for personal use (web-based or native code on my Mac or PC) that I like and use consistently.

Via ZDNet.com

Gates: Microsoft Surface Has “Richness”

Yesterday, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates appears with Warren Buffett on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

During the program, it wasn’t surprising that Gates was bullish on the prospects of the Surface family of tablet computers and Windows 8.

There are two quotes that everyone is talking about.  Here’s the first:

“”If you have Surface or Surface Pro, you have got the portability of the tablet but the richness of terms of the keyboard, Microsoft Office, of the PC,” Gates said.”

And now, the second:

“”With Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to gain market share in what has been dominated by the iPad-type device,” Gates said. “But a lot those users are frustrated. They can’t type. They can’t create documents. They don’t have Office there. So we’re providing them something with the benefits they’ve seen that has made that a big category but without giving up what they expect in a PC.””

Both of these quotes have Apple fanboys crying foul.  For staters, Mr. Gates has better head over to a local Best Buy or Staples.  Assuming that he does, he will see the myriad of keyboard solutions for the Apple iPad.  So as far as I’m concerned, the keyboards for the Surface and Surface Pro are accessories, just like the keyboards for iPads, and as a result, is a wash.  If Microsoft put one of those Surface keyboards in the box as standard hardware, I’d give him the point over Apple.

But the second quote, some would say — and I agree with — is a little self serving and misleading.

First of all, I’m not frustrated with my iPad.  I love it.

Second of all, I can type.  The iPad has a large on screen keyboard, assuming that you are using a full size iPad.  And even if you don’t want to use the on screen keyboard, Apple and others make full size keyboards that connect via Bluetooth.  I choose to use the Apple mini keyboard with my iPad.  But, fine, I really don’t care.

Thirdly, and this is the misleading part in my opinion, we can create content on our iPads.  We don’t need Windows 8 PCs and we sure don’t need Surface tablets.  For people who want to create general productivity content, that is to say word processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, there are at least three very good options.

There is Apple’s own iWork products: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.  Not to mention, iPhoto, Garage Band, iMovie, and even Cards if you are into that sort of thing.  (Cards is the weakest of Apple apps in the list, but I have used it a few times, so I’ve included it here.)

If you want to be able to work with real Microsoft Office documents, you don’t have to wait for Microsoft to eventually get around to releasing a native iOS version of Office.  You can create and edit Office documents — in their native formats — right now with Documents To Go from BlackBerry and QuickOffice from Google.  I’ve used both apps in the past on other mobile platforms and still use Documents To Go occasionally on my iPad.

So is looks like Gates was doing a lot of squawking and not much in the way of persuading the educated consumer about the merits of Windows 8 and Surface tablets.  The numbers are clear.  iPad sales continue to climb with millions of units sold each quarter.  So do the numbers of units sold for the Microsoft Surface.  With 1.6 million units sold, maybe they will reach 2 million this year.

[Via ComputerWorld.com…]

Microsoft Pulls Security Update That Kills Windows 7 PCs

 Microsoft, earlier today, sent out a report urging customers who have applied the MS13-036 security patch for Windows 7 based PCs to uninstall it.  It appears that MS13-036 can cause Windows 7 PCs to crash in such a way that the OS will need to be reinstalled for the computer to become usable again.

Gregg Keizer, writing for ComputerWorld.com this afternoon writes:

“The patch, which was originally issued Tuesday, has been pulled from Microsoft’s Windows Update service.

But the company told users who had already installed it — or had it installed for them by Windows’ Automatic Updates — to remove it as soon as possible. “Microsoft recommends that customers uninstall this update,” the company said in a support document.

Microsoft yanked the patch in response to widespread reports that it was generating the notorious “Blue Screen of Death” (BSOD) error message and by rebooting repeatedly, making the PCs useless.”

 If you have Windows 7, regardless of platform or architecture, I would suggest that you uninstall the patch, which you may have applied manually, or via Microsoft’s Windows Automatic Updates.  The reason why this patch is such a problem is it attempts to update the ntfs.sys driver that tells Windows how to read and write to the computers disk drive(s).

Given all the latest news about customers sticking it out with Windows 7, Windows XP, and even Windows Vista, conspiracy theorists will probably think that this is a ploy to get people to upgrade to Windows 8.  Released last year, Windows 8 has seen a much slower adoption rate by consumers and businesses and has been recently blamed in popular media as a major cause for the sharp decline in new PC sales over the 2012 holiday shopping season and first quarter this year.

[Via ComputerWorld.com…]

Vista Has More Users Than Windows 8

Stop and think about that for a second.  The 6-year-old Windows Vista operating system, arguably the worst Window releases of all time, has more Internet traffic than Microsoft’s latest ‘flagship’ operating system, Windows 8 according to Net Applications, an analytics firm.

Sounds like raising the price from $39.99 to $199.99 for Windows Professional was exactly the boost Windows 8 needed.

[Via BGR.com…]

Run Android Apps on Windows 8, Surface

Software developer BlueStacks has created an “app player” for Windows and Mac OS X that allows you to run Android phone apps on your Microsoft Surface, Windows PC (beta) and Mac OS X (beta) computers.

Their “layer cake” emulation module is the glue that holds everything together.

“Over 5 million people around the world use top apps like Angry Birds Space, Kik Messenger, Where’s My Water and more on their laptops with BlueStacks. It took 10 engineers two years to build the complex “LayerCake” technology that enables this to happen – but you get to experience it free while in beta. You can download App Player now at BlueStacks.com.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbE5Vz2QiCY]

Download App Player from BlueStacks.com.

[Via BGR.com…]

Microsoft Surface Pro “Sells Out”

This looks like an emerging trend: new gadgets are selling out on launch day.  First is was the new BlackBerry Z10, now it looks to be that the 128GB Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro is also flying off the shelf.

Here is some interesting information on sales estimates for the Surface Pro.

From the Microsoft Surface blog:

“Surface Windows 8 Pro 64gb is available online or from store shelves at all Microsoft retail stores in the U.S. […], at Staples and Best Buy in the United States […]. Customer response to the launch of Surface Pro has been amazing. We’re working with our retail partners who are currently out of stock of the 128GB Surface Pro to replenish supplies as quickly as possible. Our priority is to ensure that every customer gets their new Surface Pro as soon as possible.”

ComputerWorld‘s coverage of the Surface Pro launch:

“Microsoft’s retail partners for the Surface in the U.S. — had single-digit supplies that in some cases were claimed earlier in the week.”

Being an self proclaimed Apple fan, I liked John Gruber’s post on Daring Fireball about the subject.  Specifically, the articles he linked to over on the Virtual Pants blog.

From the Virtual Pants blog:

“When new products sell out on launch day it usually means one of two things: it’s a hot product or they didn’t make enough. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it appears that the Surface Pro falls into the latter category. My local (Northern Virginia) Microsoft store sold out in 15 minutes, which means there wasn’t much to sell. The local Best Buy sold out too, but only received one unit. The local Staples received and sold a whopping two units. Selling out on launch day doesn’t mean very much when there isn’t anything to sell in the first place.”

The author over at Virtual Pants, I’m sorry, but I didn’t see their name posted, goes on to do a pretty reasonable estimate of how many units were actually sold this past weekend.  The assumption is that Best Buy and Staples retail locations received 1 – 2 units each, while the 30 US-based Microsoft Stores received 150 units.  The Virtual Pants calculations break down like this:

“Let’s add up all the Surface Pros sold in the U.S. yesterday based on these estimates: 

Best Buy: 1,103 stores * 2 units per store = 2,206.

Staples: 1,575 stores * 2 units per store = 3,150. 

Microsoft Store: 30 stores * 150 units per store = 4,500. 


That’s 9,856 Surface Pros sold in U.S. retail stores on launch day. Many more were likely sold online, but less than 10,000 units available in retail stores is an embarrassment by any measure.”

Huh.  I wonder if Microsoft will release their launch weekend sales figures in the near future.  Remember, this is just an estimate of what Microsoft had out in retails locations in the US this past weekend.  It also doesn’t take into account how many Surface Windows 8 Pro units were sold online.  (My checks at Staples.com and BestBuy.com show the Surface Windows 8 Pro as out of stock.)

This “sell out” is starting to sound a lot like the BlackBerry Z10 sell out, the Palm Pre sell out (which I was a part of, my “live” blog is here), and as AppleInsider (biased, yes I know) reminds us, the Microsoft Zune HD sell out.