Do you think you’ll upgrade to Windows 8 when it launches?

Windows 8 is due to be released in just a few short months, and the RTM is next month. But are you going to upgrade to it when it is released?

I personally am going to – I find it makes my PC faster than it was with Windows 7 on (especially startup), I find the new desktop features awesome (see my post on those by clicking here) and well as some useful Metro-style apps (e.g. Mail and People). But are you going to upgrade?

It’s been a busy week for Microsoft – Surface tablets, Windows Phone 8 and more…

It’s been quite a busy week for Microsoft, with them announcing 2 Surface tablets, Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 7.8 and some more minor news, such as the Audible app finally being released for Windows Phone.

I’m not going to attempt to cover all the information by myself, so here are links to The Verge‘s relevant articles:

I recommend watching Windows Weekly 256, which will cover most, if not all, of these topics. Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley discuss the latest Microsoft news each week, and this week will be especially interesting. You will be able to watch it at

What do you think of this week’s Microsoft news? Are the Surface tablets an iPad killer? Will their launch hurt sales of Dell’s, Asus’ etc. Windows 8/RT tablets? Will you buy one?

Windows 8/RT vs. iPad – multiple users

Tablets available today are pretty rubbish at several things, but one particular one is multiple users. Tablets are often shared amongst families, and this means you all have to share the same Angry Birds high score, apps, wallpaper and more. Apple encourages you to add your email accounts to the Mail, Calendar etc. apps so you even end up sharing your private email (unless you don’t set it up, then you have to access it through the browser in a poor experience). Current tablets are made for one, but used by many.

However, Windows 8/RT devices will be different. They allow, just like traditional Windows, multiple user accounts. You sign into your device with a Microsoft or local account for the first time, and if you choose the former, all your email and more is automatically synced down. If/when you want someone else to be able to use the device, simply create a new user account for them in PC Settings. Every user has these separate things:

  • Apps installed (with the exception of desktop apps)
  • Desktop/start screen background/colours and patterns
  • Passwords
  • Email etc.
  • High scores
  • Lock screen pictures
  • And more…

While the iPad does offer multi-user in some apps (e.g. Facebook) it’s not system wide.

Another feature Windows 8/RT offers is parental controls. Full-fledged parental controls. When you add another account, one check box turnsMicrosoft Family Safetyon, and by default it’s just monitoring. But you can easily set up time limits, “curfew”, website filtering and more. And you are not affected by these limits at all, because you’re on a completely separate user account. Awesome, isn’t it?

Of course, if you all want to share one user account like with the iPad, you can also do that. When setting up your PC for the first time, choose to create a local account (if you choose Microsoft account your settings, email etc. will sync down and that stuff’s not for sharing!) and call it Family tablet or something. Then just use it as you would an iPad.

So, if you want multi-users, my suggestion is wait until later this year and get a Windows RT or Windows 8 device. :)

Microsoft, please take a look at Gmail’s themes

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a big Microsoft fan. I use Hotmail, SkyDrive, Messenger, Windows 8, Office 2010 and more. But there are some things they really need to improve on, and today I’m looking at Hotmail’s themes. Here they are:

Current Hotmail theme selection

Current Hotmail theme selection

They’re not great. At all. As you can see from the screenshot, there’s a bunch of ‘static’ themes and a limited selection of themes that change from the weather. There’s one thing in common with all of them: they’re all kind of childish. And there’s no customisation within a theme – you can’t change the colour of the text, for example.

People have long asked for a Bing theme, which changes each day and is based on the image of the day. But that’s never appeared. Same for requests about customising themes and adding your own. It’s basically rubbish.

Gmail, however, is very different. With the recent-ish new look update, they added a bunch of lovely HD themes. Now they’ve added custom themes, which let you upload your own photos. This is what us Hotmail users would love, but Microsoft simply haven’t listened.

But there is some hope. Microsoft is currently doing a re-design of all it’s Windows Live services, making them follow the metro design principles in all Microsoft’s products (Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone and Xbox 360 all use metro) and removing the Windows Live branding. Here are some screenshots. Microsoft does have a chance to add HD themes. Admittedly, it’s unlikely because it won’t follow the metro design principles, but I really hope that Microsoft will take a look at Gmail and provide some nice themes.

On a side note, I think I may stop the mostly-weekly format of this blog – as I’ve started focusing on technology, waiting up to a week to write things doesn’t really work. So expect posts from me any time, and don’t be surprised if you don’t get one for a week now and then. :-)

On a second side note, if any of you have any good names for this blog other than a standard “doctorwhofan98’s blog” please let me know. Thanks.

What’s coming in Xbox SmartGlass and Xbox Music

Quite a quick post this week. Paul Thurrott recently posted previews of Xbox SmartGlass and Xbox Music (which replaces Zune), both announced at E3. Here are the links:

And some videos:

Xbox music isn’t particular revolutionary in my opinion – just a re-branding of Microsoft Zune – but SmartGlass seems pretty great. What are your thoughts?

How to get Media Center in Windows 8 Release Preview

A bit of a how-to this week. As you may know, Windows 8 won’t come with Media Center, or DVD playback at all (not even in Media Player). In the final release of Windows 8, if you have Windows 8 Pro, you can buy Media Center (and that will have Media playback).

But where does that leave the Release Preview, available now? Media Center (and DVD playback) is not included, though it can be accessed for free. To get it (you need to be running the RP for this!):

  1. Go to the Start screen, and type “add features”
  2. Go to the Settings mode in the sidebar of the results
  3. Click “add features to Windows 8″
  4. Confirm any UAC prompts
  5. Click “I already have a product key”
  6. Copy and paste:


Then follow the rest of the wizard, and boom, you have Media Center (and DVD playback there, but NOT in Media Player). Enjoy, because come October you’ll have to pay for it!

I would really like this Windows RT tablet

Asus recently announced the Tablet 600, which has a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, an eight-megapixel camera, 2GB RAM, and a 10.1-inch 1366×768 Super IPS+ panel. It also has a detachable keyboard (which I hope I’ll be able to get it without). I would really like to get this later this year when it’s available, but it depends on the price. See the link below:

Toshiba unveils first 21:9 ultrabook… and it’s very wide

If you think 16:9 is wide (1366×768, 1600×900, 1920×1080 etc.) then you’ll be shocked by 21:9. Toshiba recently unveiled a 14 inch, 21:9 ultrabook, with a resolution of 1792 x 768 – the normal vertical amount for an ultrabook, but the horizontal amount nearly meets a desktop display. Here’s a pic (credit: The Verge):

View a fully gallery on The Verge for more pictures.

The selling points are that it is the first laptop display to play widescreen movies without black bars, plus that the extra-wide aspect ratio should make fine use of Windows 8’s ability to run apps side by side (though why they showed Windows 7 on it, and not the Windows 8 Release Preview I have no idea). The extra horizontal space should be great for multitasking, but there are some downs to it.

Firstly, there is no number pad. My Mum’s 17 inch laptop, with quite a low 1600×900 resolution, fits a number pad in. So why can’t a laptop with a 1792 x 768 resolution fit that in? Secondly, there really isn’t much vertical space – a lot of websites scroll down (it’s only really Windows 8’s metro-style apps that go across) and you will end up with a lot of white space, and a lot of scrolling. We really don’t mind black lines when watching movies, and it wouldn’t be that hard to make it 16:9 so we:

  • Have a little less scrolling
  • Have no black lines on iPlayer etc.

While the extra wide display will be amazing for snapping Windows 8’s full screen apps (coming from someone – me – with a 1920×1080 monitor, it really is great), a little more down space would be great.

It’s targeted, I think, as a back to school laptop, and we’ll see whether it sells well later this year. If they get the price right, I can see movie enthusiasts buying it, and maybe a few Windows 8 extremists (though I’m one, and I wouldn’t buy this), but it overall being somewhat of a gimmick. Well, then again, it could be the move away from 16:9, just as we moved away from 16:10 and earlier 4:3 (I hope not, though – I just bought a new 16:9 monitor!!).

Your thoughts?

Windows 8 tip: change how much Mail to sync, and when to sync

One of the many missing features in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview was, in the Mail app, to choose how much Mail to sync and when to sync. You were stuck with the default last 2 weeks and it was unknown when it synced.

But with the Release Preview, that’s all changed, though it’s a little hard to find. You keep the same defaults as in the Consumer Preview (2 weeks), but you can change it by following these steps:

1. Launch Mail from the Start screen (if you don’t have it pinned, search for it):

2. Go into the charms and click settings:

3. Click Accounts:

3. Click the account you want to change the settings for:

5. Now you can change when you want mail to check for new messages, as well as how much mail to sync. I’ve changed it to 1 month, as I just need recent email and if I need to see old messages, I just go to the web:

Repeat the steps for all your email accounts you have connected to Mail. I hope this tutorial has helped!