In a world where to the untrained eye the top two devices in the smartphone sector Android and iPhone are pretty much similar with the columns and rows of icon's and pretty much the same apps. The industry needed a shake up as the two pioneers slowly go from innovative to consumer and that has come with another big hitter Microsoft.
Microsoft's tack record is interesting in the PDA/Smartphone space for years it tussled with Palm in a David and Goliath like battle between innovation at Palm and pure corporate might at Microsoft. Ironically the complacency Apple and Google find themselves unwittingly sliding into is the same malaise which Palm and Microsoft found themselves in when Apple blew a gaping hole in the who marketplace with the iPhone.
Microsoft dipped its toe back in the water with a radical new UI design with Windows Phone 7, and in the process alienated many people when it shipped Windows Phone 8 not as an update but a new revolution of the interface.
That hiccup aside, what Microsoft have done with WP8 is not just show the world "another way" of interacting with a phone, smart tiles, resizeable icons and solid hardware which has taken its share of time to get a hold, they have also shown that the "cottage industry" style of apps. Developers creating apps to interface with the Big Players such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter for example are putting out apps which are actually proving to be better than the apps these vendors themselves put out.
Unicorns, Fairies, even Goblins, all make for wonderful viewing and on paper are a great thing, but over here in the real world, just like BYOD they are just make believe
BYOD means Bring Your Own Device and is an idea that staff instead of being handed equipment, by the companies IT dept, go out and buy their own hardware be it a Laptop, Tablet or Mobile phone, bring it into work, and because they have the latest empowering devices productivity goes up, and everyone is happy.
This is how companies formed round BYOD sell it to you, the simplicity of a 3rd party Mobile Device manager, linking all these devices securely to your company network, provides a harmonious experience, and is easy for your IT dept to maintain and provided a segregated work, home experience for your staff.
However from the perspective of the person who maintains the company network, BYOD is more akin to something the Manager in the Dilbert comics might suggest..
Microsoft are a late comer to the Tablet 2.0 market which was opened by the Apple iPad and have had a hard time if you read the popular press getting this format right. In an attempt to converge the same experience across Phone, Tablet and Desktop the huge changes to the Desktop alone have brought the claws of Users and Reviewers alike out.
The Gen 1 surface gained a lukewarm welcome and was generally seen as being expensive, underpowered and cumbersome. However as a Gen 1 user of a Windows RT tablet the cut down version of the Windows 8 OS a few things have come to light.
The press was wrong, very very, very wrong.. Windows 8 is a touch interface and on a tablet it works, and it works VERY VERY well. As a hater of Windows 8 on the Desktop this suprised me, however it really shouldn't have. Microsoft designed this as a touch interface and bolted on the keyboard and mouse. Most peoples first experience with Windows 8 is on a Desktop PC and that's doing the platform no favours at all. Touch and Click are not the same thing..
With the huge shift from keyboard to touch in the last few years the iPad, Smartphone and Tablet computer have turned the complex desktop computing metaphor which befuddled most users to the point of only understanding Outlook, Windows and Word into devices grandma and grandpa are actually happy to pick up and communicate with the grand-kids because its easy...
The new era of computing is all about being mobile, devices have 10hr battery life, they are 3G and 4G and designed to be used on the go with the cloud, and free
That is until you want to put the content from your mobile device onto the TV
Now I'm the first to admit that it is possible in a locked in world to use technologies such as Apple Airplay or Google's Chromecast. These are however proprietary systems locked into Apples iDevices are Googles Chrome OS/Browser and don't work at the family gatherings.
When it comes to Enterprise software there is one system which reigns supreme and thats Microsoft Exchange. Turn up at any enterprise and you can pretty much be ensured that the mail will be serviced by either 2003, 2007, 2010 or 2013 of this stock mail server.
The promise of exchange is a simple one, much like IBM in the 70's No one ever got fired for installing Exchange. The promise of point and click email management, integration with everything on the planet, document collaboration.. It pulls people in..
The simple fact is however unless you are a 100% Microsoft house there is a simple stark reality that all you are using Exchange for is email and calendar/meetings.
We need Outlook, so we need Exchange..seems to be the thought process, this is simply not true, there are systems which are far superior to Exchange out there, which offer Messaging, Calendar and Meetings, better web interfaces AND IMAPS and are designed with plugins to integrate far better into outlook than Exchange does.
DO a search to investigate Windows RT 8 and you'd be presented with a common opinion amongst most quarters of the tech press when you see popular news sites presenting headlines like these
Headlines like these and reading this particularly scathing review of the device from Paul Thurrott amongst others where Windows RT is described as "(Windows RT) is simply too underpowered to provide a satisfactory experience." and "Windows RT does everything slowly. Everything. The day-to-day experience is terrible." anyone doing research about Windows RT would be forgiven for thinking Microsoft has released a bit of a dud here.
Well the truth is far from it, far from it if your expectations of what you are buying are set correctly and you have an understanding if what Windows RT is and is not...
Forget what you think you know about Windows RT, the media have been on a witch hunt and in the process misled the consumer about this Operating System and the hardware which runs it.While you can read more on why i think thiselsewhere on this blog. this post is about Windows RT Apps and what works.
While it may not have all the abilities of its sibling to install apps on the Desktop, this is still a Windows machine with the ability to connect to mapped drives and mount lots of external media. While you could do all this management from the desktop explorer RT is about the apps. What this app offers above many of the others is its simple layout which makes dragging and dropping files between mapped folders easier.
It's worth noting if you do want to see a nas drive as a mapped drive for example, you'll need to do the actual drive mapping (for now) in the Desktop explore app. However once done you can create links within this app to any sub folder.
This is a very quick tip for those trying to Get Windows 8.1 running in Virtualbox
If you get an error
Your PC needs to restart.
Please hold down the power button.Error code: 0x000000C4Parameters:0×00000000000000910x000000000000000F0xFFFFF801E5962A800×0000000000000000
Burn the heretic, he has cast doubt on the almighty..
There's no doubt about it, if you want to start a flame war in the tech community then there is no better place to start than the world of the Linux Distro. When it comes to waving the collective wand around, Linux fanboys are notoriously hardcore and put even the most ardent Mac vs Windows debate to shame.
When it comes to versions of Linux there are two big players here with Ubuntu in the one corner which without a doubt shook the Linux world by its coat tails and brought as promise Linux to a wider audience. It's changes are seen by many as potentially disrupting there is no doubt Shuttleworth the companies talismanic Jobseque leader has a grand plan, and that alone is making Ubuntu in many quarters mean Linux.
Then there is OpenSUSE the distro has been around since the dawn of time, ok it hasn't but it feels like it. The original desktop Linux OS lost a lot of ground to Ubuntu and has been occasional confusing, so how many built in package managers do you need?
With an Intel Haswell processor, 128Gb SSD and 4Gb of RAM the Surface pro 2 is ripe for installing Ubuntu on..
So I did by following various instructions around the web like these and it does install, and runs well, however something became very apparent.
Unity isn't as touch friendly as you'd think it is. Sure the desktop and the side menu are well designed for touch, the problem is and this may be device specific everything is a bit small and while it is possible to do what Microsoft have done on the surface and increase the font size by 150%.
The window close, minimze and maximize buttons are far too small as well and while the stylus does work well I am looking for more of a touch experience.