windows 8

Windows 8.1 & Why you should update

Windows 8.1 Update: Why You Should Update Now

 

Following the mass of updates issued in June 2014, Microsoft issued six new computer updates with patches for all versions of Internet Explorer (IE) for all the Windows operating systems it supports at the beginning of July. According to experts in computer repair, Portland residents and others who use Windows should ensure the installation of the latest updates, especially if they have Windows 8.1.

Why the Updates Matter

Small business computer support often comes in the form of virus and malware eradication because of a security breach. In addition to being careful about the websites visited and email messages opened, installing an operating system’s security patches is critical to keeping the data on a computer safe.

Microsoft labeled two of the six July updates as “critical,” the highest threat level. Three are “important,” a step below “critical.” One update is “moderate.”

The “critical” updates will patch versions 6 through 11 of Internet Explorer, as well as IE6 on Windows Server 2003. The “important” and “moderate” updates include patches for all desktop and data center editions of Windows, including the Microsoft Service Bus for Windows Server.

Why Windows 8.1 Users Should Pay Attention

Windows 8.0 and Windows 8.1 required users to update their devices via the Windows Store. While the company offered its customers the choice to receive automatic updates, not everyone is onboard. If those using Windows 8.1 or Server 2012 R2 do not update their systems with the latest patches by August 12, 2014, they will not receive any future updates or security features. Computer repair experts share that Windows plans to roll out several updates in the future for Windows 8.1, which may require the installation of Update 1 and other updates issued in the past.

Before needing a costly computer repair, Springfield-area residents with Windows 8.1 or any other version of the operating system can ask contact us help them determine if they’re receiving automatic updates or have the critical updates installed. Rethink Associates will help you if you have any questions related to the latest updates or keeping your computer secure.

Windows 8.1 for Free? It may just be so...

A few recent reports have stated that Microsoft is moving to cut the Windows 8.1 Operating System licensing fee for OEM's (Like US)  (and possibly also Windows Phone OS) by a considerable amount, with some  reports suggesting Microsoft go as far as licensing Windows Phone OS free of charge. 

The logic here would be that the establishment of a new monetization model for the company, where MS can charge an individual licensing fee for the certain apps in the future, such as Bing, Bing Maps and more. The challenge before them is that currently OneDrive; Bing Maps and other Bing apps; Xbox music streaming; Bing SmartSearch; and the core Office apps (for Windows RT users) all currently ship for free with Windows 8. And OneDrive, Bing, Xbox music streaming and Mobile Office all ship for free with Windows Phone 8.

wzorbingwin81-620x484.png

 

A move like this would not be unprecedented. Google also did this, with Google Apps for those without business accounts. The challenge here is that in Google's case, there was a huge market for Google Apps, ironically enough, because of the extreme cost of Microsoft's offerings. For example, unless a user needs the advanced functions of MS Office like large Mail Merges or creating Indexes in your Word documents, Google Apps works beautifully. You get a full Office Suite with Google Apps for free for Individuals, $5/month for business users. For decades, Office was a minimum of $200 for the Software suits, and another $140 for the option to share your documents across multiple machines. Office 365 has improved that greatly, but it is still twice the cost of Google Apps. My point is, it remains to be seen, aside from Enterprise users, if anyone would be WILLING to pay for Microsoft's other services as standalone products. Of thousands of customers we have serviced, I can only think of a literal handful that use Bing, Bing Maps, OneDrive, Xbox Streaming Music, SmartSearch or any of their standalone services other than Windows and Office. 

There's a new SKU, or version, of the upcoming Windows 8.1 Update 1 operating system release that is known as "Windows 8.1 with Bing." Known Windows leaker WZor revealed the existence of this new SKU a week ago. Since then, many have been trying to guess what this thing is, given that Windows 8.1 already includes Bing SmartSearch by default. (Bing SmartSearch is the built-in version of Bing that searches a user's PC -- though not mail -- OneDrive and the Web from a single query.)

According to the indomitable Mary Jo Foley "This new SKU, from what my contacts are saying, is key to Microsoft's experimentation with monetization. I hear this SKU has only minor differences from the current Windows 8.1 SKUs, but that it may be a kind of placeholder for the future when consumer operating systems are, basically, free. I'm not sure if this SKU will offer OEMs and/or consumers new Bing-related incentives by the time Update 1 is made available this spring."

Microsoft Offers Tips to Help Users Transition Away from XP

With only two months reaming until the Windows XP support termination deadline, Microsoft is looking for help in getting users to upgrade.

With only two months reaming until the Windows XP support termination deadline, Microsoft is looking for help in getting users to upgrade.

Brandon LeBlanc of Microsoft wrote a Blog post that I missed a week ago, marking Microsoft's 60 day countdown to the end of Microsoft Windows XP. In his post, Brandon both marks the countdown and asks user for their help in getting their friends and family to convert before the switch. 

LeBlanc's post, while asking users for their help, outlines the detailed roadmap for what users' options are to stay protected after April 8th: Upgrade or Buy a New PC. that's it. Upgrade, or Buy a New PC.  

Microsoft's approach to the transition is forced, and I personally don't believe they are being entirely fair with users. I feel that it is obvious if a user is still using a pc old enough it still has XP on it that they are not ready for nor do they like change. One would think that Microsoft would be forward thinking enough to help make the process less painful for users by making upgrading much cheaper. Currently, the cost for users to upgrade from XP to Windows 8 is $199 when bought straight from Microsoft, though Amazon still sells the upgrade to 8 Pro for only $95 (Grab it while it's hot). But I think that offering a limited run sale of $50 for XP users would be a more customer focused plan. Knowing how drastic the difference of experience is for users switching from XP to 8 will be, these kinds of concessions on Microsoft's part are just common sense in my book. But, I digress..

And it is only fair, after examining Microsoft's need to be more flexible and fair, it is extremely important for users to understand that WinXP is 12 years old. 12 years old. We have seen entire industry markets introduced and others revolutionized since WinXP launched. We have seen 2 Presidencies since it's launch. Facebook hadn't even been thought of, MySpace hadn't even launched, we mapped the Human Gemone, the world's first phone with a colored display was launched, 9/11 was just a day, not an anniversary of a tragedy, Switzerland joined the UN, Katrina hit New Orleans, the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression hit, the Space Shuttle program ended.. I could go on. You are using a relic. A piece of equipment from a by gone era. It is time to change. 

Microsoft 8.1 Update 1: Microsoft Admits Defeat. Finally.

An actual Power button on the Metro Interface

An actual Power button on the Metro Interface

So, Windows 8.1 Update 1 is floating around the internet, and it shows off many, many changes to the Metro interface that attempt to make Windows 8 less painful for desktop users. If you will remember, With Windows 8, Microsoft introduced the most radical change in the look and operation of Windows EVER, and few of the changes were welcomed by it's users. 

Since the backlash and poor sales of Windows 8, Microsoft hass been stuggling with getting users to accept the new interface. Some manufacturers like Dell, still offer new machines with Windows 7 as an option, just to avoid sales losses from consumers who can't stand Windows 8. And as the end of the year came, and the hottest app on the Windows App store was one that put the Start Menu back, it was time Microsoft admitted that trying to force users of Desktop PC's to use their computers like a touchscreen tablet was not going to work anymore. 

The ability to use Windows Apps on the Desktop?

The ability to use Windows Apps on the Desktop?

So What are the changes in Update 1? Most notable, the system now boots to the Desktop Interface by DEFAULT. In 8.1, an option was included to allow you to set the system to boot to the desktop, but in Update 1, boot is directly to the desktop by default. In addition, a power button was added to the Metro interface (Thank God), meaning no more having to move your mouse to the lower right corner of the screen, click settings, then power then Off/Restart/Etc.. Now, you have a power button right on the page in Metro. Also, Metro apps can now be "Minimized", pointing to the potential that Metro apps will FINALLY be able to be used in the Desktop interface as well. The primary thing that keeps me from using most Windows apps is that I live in a desktop world, and you never see them. You HAVE to go to the Awful Metro Interface to access the Apps for Windows, and you can only use them in the Metro environment. That looks to change with Update 1. 

Better scaling options for high end displays..

Better scaling options for high end displays..

And for those with High Resolution displays, REJOICE. Microsoft is finally including UI scaling options: 200%, 250%, and Custom (up to 500%). So finally everyone who has a Lenovo, Dell or Samsung laptop with a High Res display, it will actually be usable now. 

34218_original-640x480.jpg

All of these changes are actually welcome, and consumers have been pleading for them since the launch of Win 8. Microsoft's stubborn attempt to force an ecosystem change has failed, and they are essentially admitting defeat. Booting to the desktop interface is a MAJOR change of direction for Microsoft. I am not saying that the market doesn't need to adapt and change. But changes to interface that are as drastic as Metro, need to be handled with care and timing, to gradually push or pull users into the new interface, instead of forcing them. It is nice to see these changes being implemented to make Windows tolerable again. With all the changes between 8.1 and it's newest Update, I cannot wait to see Windows 9 when it is unveiled next year. 

Windows 8.2 is coming, and so is your Start Menu..

windows-8.1-start-button-660x431.jpg

Windows 8.2, codenamed Threshold, is on it's way, and with it, some unification of experience between Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox One. But of even more important news to consumers, Microsoft will be introducing a new SKU that is Desktop optimized for mouse-and-keyboard use instead of touch, and brings back THE START MENU. Thank you Microsoft. (about freaking time.) Other key features include: 

  • Start menu - as mentioned above, the Start button will be linked to the Start menu, the same way as it was since Windows 95
  • Internet Explorer - while version 11 of the browser did not bring any noticeable changes, the next version should feature obvious visual and functional changes
  • App store unification - one app store for Windows-powered tablets, phones and computers would be a logical move and it is possible to see it happening soon
  • File Explorer Libraries - this feature was introduced in Windows 7, still present in Windows 8, but vanished in Windows 8.1 and it will make its comeback in Windows 8.2

The next Windows update will be free and should arrive in January 2014 or at least in "early 2014" as most rumors claim. On the other hand it has also been rumored that Microsoft could simply drop the ill-fated Windows 8 label and go straight to Windows 9, but this is one rumor to be taken with a large grain of salt.