The Windows 8 desktop UI… revealed

Microsoft last week announced a metro-redesign for the desktop UI in the final release of Windows 8. Yep, not the Release Preview, the final version, so you’ll have to wait till October to see it. :(

See it in this post on Building Windows 8:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/05/18/creating-the-windows-8-user-experience.aspx

I’m not too sure I like it, at first. It’s very different. Then again, I hated the name change from Windows Live Hotmail to Microsoft Hotmail at first, but now I prefer the latter way more. I suppose that once I get to use it, I’ll hate Aero and wonder why I ever use it.

This change actually proves many people wrong. Paul Thurrott from http://winsupersite.com/ said Microsoft will not re-style the desktop because it’s the past, and that people failed an intelligence test when someone posted a metro desktop mockup and people said “Microsoft should hire this guy”. But it turns out Microsoft doesn’t see the desktop as completely dead just yet.

What do you think of the change?

By the way, the Release Preview will have a slightly more metro-y desktop (e.g. flatter Explorer), but the complete metro re-design won’t be complete by the first week of June so it’ll only be available in the final version. I think the new UI is in the current winmain builds, but since the RP build will be in the final versions, we won’t see the whole new UI for a while. To see what is coming in the Release Preview, see my post.

The new SkyDrive – [someone else's] thoughts (now updated with proper link)

I was going to write about the new Microsoft SkyDrive features and what could be improved this week. But someone has beaten me to it :), and they’ve essentially summed up what I would like. So I recommend you have a read of this post:

http://wp.me/p15Dp2-eh

In other news, I have updated the blog’s icon to the new Windows 8 logo. I have done this because the focus has changed from a primarily Doctor Who blog to a Doctor Who and technology blog (in part because there hasn’t been any Doctor Who for ages, and there won’t be any Doctor Who for ages yet, and in part because I find technology interesting, wanted to blog about it occasionally and didn’t want to start a different blog). In relation to the icon changes, I’ve changed the name to the more simple doctorwhofan98′s blog. This may or may not be a temporary name (as it depends on whether I think of something better).

Do let me know if you have any good name ideas. Do you use cloud storage? Why/why not?

Edit/update 05/05/2012: I’ve updated the link above in the post to go to the correct article. The previous link went to a post written in February when the features were announced, but not released. The newer post is after the app was released. Here is a link to the old post, and look above for a link to the new post.

Windows 8 isn’t just about metro… the new desktop features

A lot of people seem to think that Windows 8 is just about touch screens, and is rubbish when just using a mouse and keyboard. This isn’t true in the Consumer Preview (the beta), but even if you want to completely avoid metro-style apps etc., the desktop offers a lot of improvements over Windows 7 that makes it worth upgrading:

  • Windows Explorer has the ribbon - this makes file management a lot easier and quicker. Also, the copy experience has been improved (pause/resume, multiple copies in one window) and deleting, for example, no longer requires confirmation (the file is sent to the Recycle Bin so it can be recovered, and confirmations can be turned on).

  • Faster startup: true, this isn’t really a desktop feature, but it certainly makes Windows boot faster (restart, unfortunately, is as slow as ever :()
  • Improved task manager: the default interface is simpler and more user friendly, and clicking a button gives power userswaymore features. This is perhaps one of Windows’ most used features, so it’s good that it has got an update.

  • Built in anti-virus software: you may have heard of Microsoft Security Essentials. Well, it’s got a new name and is built into Windows 8 – yes, you don’t need to install another anti-virus program. You can if you want to, though – it will automatically disable if you do.

  • Finally, pin to start. Even quicker access to your files!

So those are just a few improvements to the Windows 8 desktop. All Windows 8 computers can run both the desktop and metro apps if they have a resolution of at least 1024×768 – this means netbooks are stuck in the desktop environment.

I recommend you take a look at Paul Thurrott’s article on the Windows 8 desktop:

http://www.winsupersite.com/article/windows8/windows-8-feature-focus-windows-desktop-142642

The not-so-many editions of Windows 8

A bit of news today, but first I would like to mention the Windows 7 and Vista editions. They were:

  • Windows Starter
  • Windows Home Basic
  • Windows Home Premium
  • Windows Professional (Business in Vista)
  • Windows Ultimate

It’s really hard to know what to choose, isn’t it! But Microsoft announced the editions of its next OS, now definitely called Windows 8 (it was previously Windows “8″ as it was a codename). The versions will be:

  • Windows 8 (perfect for most users)
  • Windows 8 Pro (includes all Win 8 features plus things like Bit locker)
  • Windows RT (no, this isn’t Windows Re-tweet, it’s the version of Windows for ARM. It will only come on new devices)
  • And there will also be Windows 8 Enterprise, only available for businesses.

This means that the consumer will just have to choose between Win 8 or Win 8 Pro when choosing a new x86/64 PC, or upgrading (well, Win Ultimate/Professional 7 users will have to go Pro). This is a lot simpler and is generally better.

See the official blog post for more info, a table of the version differences and more…

By the way, for people who want pricing, that’s coming later on, says Microsoft.

Why I think Apple made a mistake calling the new iPad just “the new iPad”

This is probably going to be quite a short post, but I just wanted to say that I think Apple has made a mistake naming the 3rd generation iPad “the new iPad” and not iPad 3, iPad HD or even iPad 2012. When the fourth generation iPad comes out next year (or whenever it will come out), what with the third generation by called. “Introducing the new new iPad!” doesn’t really seem to work. Along with the new iPad, the iPad 2 is still on sale, making matters complicated.

True, Apple doesn’t put a number at the end of its computer or iPod line-ups (other than “late 2011 generation” or “fourth generation”), so why put a number at the end of the iPad line-ups? Well, for one, they have before. If Apple had done MacBook, MacBook 2 then the new MacBook it would be very confusing. Secondly, because they are much more popular. If you compare how many MacBooks were sold in 2011 compared to how many iPads were sold that year, iPads I’m sure would beat them by a mile.

But Apple has named the new iPad just that. And they’re not going to change it. So what does that probably mean? That the new iPhone will most likely be called “the new iPhone”, not iPhone 5 (though the 4S istechnicallythe iPhone 5) or iPhone 6 or iPhone 4SS or even the 4S2. Which could be confusing.

So basically, Apple has confused everyone by calling the new iPad just that. :(

My thoughts on Windows 8 Consumer Preview

My Windows 8 Start Screen

My Windows 8 Start Screen

If you don’t know what Windows 8 is, be prepared for a lot of change. You can probably tell from the image above – that is what you now see when you boot up Windows – not the desktop (though the desktop can be accessed by clicking the desktop tile). I’m not going to go into all the details about Windows 8 (you can find out that info at preview.windows.com), just my thoughts.

I was initially worried about how the new “Metro-style” apps would work with just a mouse and keyboard – Windows 8 is what many people think to be basically iOS. But it actually works really well. From what I understand, the Developer Preview (which came out in September) wasn’t very mouse friendly, but Microsoft have certainly made improvements on that front. Metro apps are as easy to use as normal, desktop apps! Onto my favourite features (in no particular order) of Windows 8 and their details:

  • Signing in with your Microsoft account (formerly “Windows Live ID”) – when you launch Windows 8, it gives you an option to create a ‘local account’ (which is what accounts are in 7, Vista, XP etc.), or to sign in with a Microsoft account (if you use Hotmail, SkyDrive, Windows Live Messenger/MSN, XBOX Live etc. you already have one). Signing in with the former doesn’t sync apps, settings etc. - you’ll have to create a new user account from scratch on each PC, and re-install apps and not have bookmarks syncing etc. The latter option syncs everything (except for normal PC non-metro apps and files not on SkyDrive) between all your Windows 8 PCs. So, you customise your Start screen. All your PCs have that customisation. You add a favourite in IE, and you visit some websites. Your favourites and History are synced. It’s like having one computer.
  • Another of my favourite features is the super fast start-up. Windows 8, by default, saves your session onto a file (or something like that) when you shut down, so when you boot up it’s really fast. I mean, my PC boots up to a usable state in 15< seconds. Restart isn’t affected, as I found out when trying to demonstrate how fast my PC is to my dad, and it turned out to be really slow because I’d restarted and not shut down.
  • Another favourite feature, no matter how small, is the fact that spellcheck is in IE10. And I love it!
  • My final favourite features are the “refresh” and “reset” option. If you’re computer’s playing up, these options are for you. Refresh re-installs Windows, but keeps your files, settings and Metro apps (but not desktop apps) so you basically come back to your old Windows… but new. Reset re-installs Windows but keeps nothing - great for the last resort. It only takes about 15 minutes (I know from first-hand experience – there was a problem with user accounts and refresh wouldn’t work because it keeps user accounts).

Now for my worst features of Windows 8:

  • No plug-ins in the metro style IE10! Why, Microsoft? Why?!?!
  • Shut down/restart etc. are not the easiest options to get to. I mean, you have to launch the charms bar (no clicking but takes a couple of seconds). Secondly, you have to click the settings button. Thirdly, the power option. Then shut down. In Windows 7, it’s 2 clicks – start and shut down. Please make this easier, Microsoft!
  • Allow us to post updates in the People app. It’s the only thing missing from that app!
  • In Mail, let us see our folders AND messages at the SAME time. It’s really annoying to 1) right click 2) Click folders. 3) Click the folder 4) Click the message. There should only be steps 3 and 4.

Overall, Windows 8 is off to a great start. I recommend you give it a try. I think it’s the best version of Windows yet…

Parental controls – do you use them?

Windows Live Family Safety Icon

Image via Wikipedia

There are a lot of parental control services out there: Windows Live Family Safety, Apple Mac parental controls and so much more. But do you use them for your children (if you have any)?

Without parental controls, children can access anything and everything on the internet: from normal things like Wikipedia to horrible things. Also you can set time limits with parental controls.

So get parental controls today, and keep you and your kids safe. :-D

 

If I could have any job in the world

It would be the CEO of Microsoft. I mean, what is not to love? You get to announce new products, be on Wikipedia… the opportunities appear to be endless. Steve Ballmer is a lucky man.

But being the CEO of Microsoft isn’t my only dream job. A best-selling author would be a nice job. Or the Prime Minister of the UK. Or the President of the USA. There are sure a lot of nice jobs out there.

What is your dream job? What is the worst job you have ever had (mine is having to move the school bench in and out in Year 6 – so boring and time-taking.. no, it wasn’t really that bad)? And what did you learn from that job?

Big severe warning: don’t post anything TOO bad here – a future employer could look here and maybe destroy your job prospects. Even if I deleted the comment/post, everything on the internet stays there FOREVER!! Seriously, though, it is true. :-)

A pile of books

Books!