So what's new in Windows 8.1 update?

Microsoft yesterday announced the long awaited update to Windows 8.1 during it’s BUILD developer conference. The update brings with it some quite significant changes and improvements to how Windows 8.1 works. Microsoft claims to have fixed everything that consumers felt was wrong with Windows 8 and it seems they have done a reasonably good job, though it’s unlikely to stop the complaints from diehard fans of Windows 7.

Modern Apps in Taskbar

Microsoft has added the ability to pin modern apps to the task bar so you can launch and switch between Modern UI apps much like you would do with regular applications.

Boot to Desktop

With Windows 8.1 we had the option introduced to allow us to boot straight to the desktop but it involved hunting down the settings menu in order to enable it. Thankfully now all non touch screen devices will now automatically boot straight to desktop so you can avoid the Modern UI interface which is really only suitable for touch screen devices.

Default to desktop apps

In previous versions of Windows when launching a file such as an image or video, the file would automatically open in the Modern UI version of the app. Now when opening a file Windows will automatically open the file in the desktop version of the app. Obviously you can change the default options if you wish.

Shutdown and Search Icons

It seems some users were a little confused at how to search from the new Modern UI interface as the options were actually hidden in previous versions and required the user to swipe from the side of the screen to reveal these functions. In the latest update to Windows 8.1 there are now prominent shutdown and search icons displayed at the top pointing users in the right direction.


Whilst these aren’t exactly groundbreaking changes they do bring with them ease of use especially to users who didn’t find previous versions of Windows 8 to be intuitive. In the past it’s likely that these relatively minor updates would have come as part of a general Windows update or a Service pack, Microsoft is doing things differently now and looking to provide more regular updates. It’s not clear why this particular update took so long to be released but it’s clear from early feedback that most users are happy with the changes being made even if it didn’t bring back the much coveted Start Menu.


OS wars 2013: How the latest Mac and Windows upgrades compare

Last year when Mountain Lion and Windows 8 were released, I wrote a piece comparing the Mac and Windows operating systems, and concluded that Apple took the better path by keeping its tablet and desktop operating systems separate. With Windows 8 Microsoft gave its operating system a complete makeover, asking that people change the way they use their computers. Now that the two operating systems have updated with Mac OS X Mavericks and Windows 8.1, I thought I should take another look at both to see if the update did anything to change my mind...

Read the full story here... Source: CNET

Virus Protection on Windows

It is a well known fact that viruses are more common on the Windows platform. This is purely because of the larger user-base. There are many steps you can take to protect your computers & devices from these threats. In the video below, not only do I share some advice, but also some interesting real-world examples.


I am the 'Geek Ambassador' for Hotspot Shield ...
Get behind the Shield here.


Evernote starts testing Evernote 5 for Windows desktop

Evernote has released its Evernote 5 beta for Windows, allowing users to try out the productivity desktop app and its slew of new features.

The app has been redesigned with features similar to the Evernote 5 for Mac app released in November. New features include shortcuts, dedicated buttons, expanding lists, and a redesign of the note list and note editor. Users will also be able to view notes as cards and edit the metadata on notes. Premium customers get an additional feature: related notes. With this feature, Evernote will automatically pull up notes that may be related to notes you're currently editing or viewing.

Andrew Sinkov, Evernote's VP of Marketing, warns that the app may be glitchy because it's in beta, or testing, mode.

"Evernote 5 is currently in beta," he wrote in a blog post. "In fact, this is the first of several betas that we'll be releasing. Before installing it, please be sure that you're comfortable using early software. While unlikely, you may experience various issues and possibly even data loss. Also, certain features, like Reminders, are yet to be implemented."

Source: CNET

Microsoft to launch Kinect for Windows sensor in 2014

Microsoft will finally deliver a Kinect sensor for Windows sometime next year.

The company announced Thursday that the Kinect for Windows sensor will use the same set of technologies key to the new Kinect sensor for the Xbox One, both of which will allow people to issue commands using voice and gestures.

The sensor will include a high-definition color camera and a noise-isolating multi-microphone array. Also part of the system will be a technology called Time-of-Flight, which measures how long it takes for photons to bounce off a person or object. Combined, these features promise greater accuracy and precision in detecting your movements and voice commands...

Read the full story here. Source: CNET

Microsoft Hints It’s Working on 7-inch Surface

Microsoft CFO Peter Klein on Thursday confirmed the company is looking into smaller touch devices, further fueling speculation we’ll see a 7-inch Surface later this year. During an investor call, Klein said Microsoft is working closely with OEMs to create small touch-based Windows devices, which are expected to land with competitive pricing. Klein’s comments add more weight to a previous report from Intel CEO Paul Otellini about cheaper Windows 8 devices.

The Redmond-based company has been quietly inching its way toward smaller tablets, backed up by Microsoft changing its minimum tablet hardware requirements down to a resolution of 1024 x 768. Smaller tablets such as the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD 7 and iPad mini have all proved enormously popular over the traditional 9-inch and above size. They’re not only cheaper, but offer greater portability, making them easier and more pleasing to use in most cases.

Klein also noted during Microsoft’s earnings call on Thursday that he is departing the company at the end of the fiscal year.

Microsoft’s own Surface tablets haven’t exactly lit the market on fire, and OEMs have found it difficult to hock devices running Windows 8 and RT, so a change is definitely in order. While Klein’s comments don’t specifically call out tablets as a point of interest, it’s certainly a logical next step for the company to take. A Microsoft spokesperson said the company doesn’t have anything more to share right now, so perhaps we’ll see an announcement over the busy summer months.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

Microsoft’s Smartwatch Has Been in Development for Over a Year

Microsoft might not just be toying with the idea of building a smartwatch, but may already be well along in the development process. The Wall Street Journal said earlier this week thatMicrosoft is working on a smartwatch with a 1.5-inch display and now The Verge says it has learned that Microsoft’s Xbox team has already spent a year developing a prototype. The watch will allegedly employ a wristband that attaches to the watch face using a magnetic mechanism that’s capable of transmitting power and data, The Verge said.

Microsoft isn’t the only company planning to enter into the smartwatch wars. Samsung, Apple and Google all reportedly have similar devices coming down the pipeline. The ultimate question that remains to be answered is how they will benefit consumers. Will smartwatches simply serve as notification windows into our smartphones, or will they provide a unique experience that adds real value to our wrists?

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

Two-step verification starts rolling out for Microsoft accounts

Everyone else is doing it, so why not Microsoft, right? The company has been accused of playing the "me too" game in the past, but we're not going to complain when the the end result is better security. As we learned from a leak last week, Redmond will begin enabling two-step verification for Microsoft accounts. The switch will get flipped for everyone over the next few days and, with email, Xbox Live and Skype (just to name a few) associated with the service formerly known as Live, it's never been more important to keep it locked down. (Especially when others are learning this lesson the hard way.) The two-factor gateway is purely opt-in, except where it's already been required: editing credit card information and accessing SkyDrive from a new computer. There's even a dedicated authenticator app for Windows Phone 8, which works whether or not you've got an internet connection. There's loads more detail at the source and you can check to see if the feature has been turned on for your account at the more coverage link. And if you can, we strongly suggest you turn it on. Like, now.

[Source: Engadget]

Microsoft to Enable Flash by Default in IE 10 on Windows, Windows RT Tomorrow

Microsoft announced Monday that it will automatically enable Adobe Flash content inside of its Internet Explorer 10 browsers on Windows RT and Windows 8 machines beginning tomorrow, March 12. The company suggested that there was a compatibility issue before now that prevented it from wanting to leave the option on by default.

“As we have seen through testing over the past several months, the vast majority of sites with Flash content are now compatible with the Windows experience for touch, performance, and battery life,” Microsoft said on its website. “With this update, the curated Compatibility View (CV) list blocks Flash content in the small number of sites that are still incompatible with the Windows experience for touch or that depend on other plug-ins.”

The update should be available to all users running Windows RT and Windows 8 tomorrow.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

Microsoft could be making a Surface phone, Nokia says

Microsoft surprised everyone by launching its Surface tablet, taking on its hardware partners at their own game. Since then, there have been plenty of rumours about a possible Surface phone, with the device apparently entering the testing phase at the end of last year. And now it seems Nokia is getting a little antsy, suspecting Microsoft will step on its toes.

ZDNet reports that in a filing with the SEC (US Securities and Exchange Commission -- a federal regulator), Nokia wrote not only did it suspect Microsoft of making a mobile, but that it could be "detrimental" to the Finnish phone firm's business interests. Sounds like a storm brewing.

"Microsoft may make strategic decisions or changes that may be detrimental to us," Nokia wrote in the filing. "For example, in addition to the Surface tablet, Microsoft may broaden its strategy to sell other mobile devices under its own brand, including smart phones.

"This could lead Microsoft to focus more on their own devices and less on mobile devices of other manufacturers that operate on the Windows Phone platform, including Nokia."

This is a world away from Nokia CEO Stephen Elop's previous claims that he would welcome Microsoft as "a stimulant to the ecosystem". Nokia does sound a little paranoid, but then this is a security filing, so I suppose it's to be expected.

It's even considering what would happen if Microsoft put the kibosh on its mobile OS, Windows Phone 8. "If Microsoft reduces investment in that operating system, or discontinues it, our smart phone strategy would be directly negatively affected by such acts."

Come on Nokia, I'm sure it'll be alright.

While we have heard about Microsoft testing a phone, that doesn't mean it'll release the device. The company tests all sorts of products without putting them up for sale. Still, a Microsoft mobile would shake things up a bit. And this is business, I'm sure the Redmond company isn't here to make friends.

[Source: CNET]

Microsoft landed with £486m EU fine in browser-choice row

Microsoft has been landed with a staggering €561m (roughly £486m) fine, after European regulators found the software giant hadn't offered PC owners enough of a choice when it came to their browser.

The fine was handed down by the European Commission, as punishment for neglecting an anti-monopoly settlement from 2009, the New York Times reports. In that settlement the company behind Clippy vowed to offer Windows users a choice of which browser they wanted to use, instead of simply defaulting to its own Internet Explorer.

The result was 2010's browser ballot, which you may have spied yourself if you've started up a new Windows PC in the last couple of years. The ballot offered rival operating systems such as Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple's Safari browser.

The order in which rival browsers would appear on the ballot was a subject of heated debate, but eventually Microsoft plumped for the five most popular Web browsers appearing in random order.

Good stuff, but Microsoft seemingly dropped the ball, with a version of Windows 7 (SP1) not offering users the choice. The company reportedly says it has updated both Windows 7 andWindows 8 to include the ballot, but that hasn't stopped anti-monopoly officials sending the firm a monstrous bill.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser remains popular, though critics say a huge part of that success is because it's been the default software on Windows PCs for a long time.

[Source: CNET]