Monday, October 29, 2012

Windows 8–The Whole Deal

It’s been an unexciting weekend. Windows 8 was launched. Windows 8RT was launched. Windows 8RT Tablets were launched. Modern, the Interface Formerly Known As Metro came. And went. Office 2013 was Released To Manufacturing to MSDN and Technet Subcribers. Yeah. Shrug. Yes. Shrug. Some mainstream news outlets picked up the goss and reported either the Beginning of Microsoft Dominance in Tablet Space or The End of Microsoft As We Know It. Then they got occupied with Mitt Romney (who’s he? I’m not American). The Storm called Sandy. Maybe even the violence that intruded into Eid.

So, What Is Windows 8?

It’s the next evolution of Microsoft Windows. The previous one was Windows 7. Heck, some organisations are just getting that deployed. So is there a deal? I mean should we make any hoo haa over Windows 8 Desktop (otherwise known as Windows 8 for Intel chips)? The story goes like this.

Windows 3.x evolved to Windows 95 to Windows 98. That was a good vintage, Then came Windows NT (which was a new redesigned Operating System). Windows NT eventually evolved to Windows XP. That gave way to Windows VISTA (yuck!) and then Windows 7 (that’s a good vintage). Windows 8 is Windows 7 with some nice icing on the cake. And a kludge to embrace The Touch Space.

So What’s The Touch Space?

It goes that Bill Gates was very keen on The Tablet. Except that he used a Stylus – because it was hard to point with a fat finger. Tech was sooo primitive then. But he still yearned to have the Padds that Star Trek Next Generation crew would toss at The Holographic Doctor. Even with massive pushing, the idea would not gain traction. Not enough units were sold. The displays were meh. The devices were heavy enough to give you forearm ache after 15 minutes. The Intel Pentium chips were not fast and batteries went flat after one and a half hours. Real meh. We did the stylus thing with Windows CE devices too. Those that looked like Windows but weren’t really Windows, they were wimps. And they didn’t run Microsoft Access. Or full versions of any Microsoft Office apps.

Close your eyes, go to sleep and do a Rip van Winkle. Open your eyes. Suddenly Nokia isn’t a brick anymore. In fact Nokia is nowhere anymore. It’s all iPhone, iPod, iPad. With Android devices rooting away. Even your 80 year old Gran knows how to touch Angry Birds and Facetime to you.

What to do? In true Microsoft fashion, provide “Real Soon Now” touch input devices – mice, touchpads, desktop screens. Touch Enable .net – Result? No traction, Dude! People now make Apple the bigger company in dollars. What The! And no one’s talking about desktop Windows. Nobody’s buying or more particularly lusting to buy new PCs even though Microsoft Partners call their new shiny silver things Ultrabooks, like in MacAir. Ok, push out some Atoms – they’re Intel chips but low powered enough to survive 4-6 hours of use. But performance is, sort of meh. So Intel makes portable versions of Core i3, i5, i7 to make the notebooks like go really fast. Battery life is like 2 hours though. Which causes people to keep buying and lusting over the danged Coretex ARM powered tablets and smart phones that cost less.

Like, what’s Ballmer gonna do? Bill’s gone to Pakistan to give away money and left him running the shop. Ray Ozzie had a fight over who owned Cloudspace with Sinovsky and just called it quits. Yeah. “I’m dying here guys”, I can hear Ballmer say. Sinovsky and Jensen Harris to the rescue.

They come up with a whooo! A New User Touch Interface. Like Tiles. Nothing near a Apple’s legal spitting distance of circular icons on a field of black.

Bing! A Brilliant Idea

How about this? Create a Universal User Interface running Platform Agnostic (well Microsoft Platforms anyway) over Intel chips (desktop), ARM chips (Tablet Space), Windows Phone. Well, that’s what Windows 8 is! Just Brilliant! Brings The Desktop To The Modern World. Microsoft will be Happy. Microsoft Hardware Partners will be Happy. Microsoft Software Partners will be Happy. I mean we could even wake up the old Microsoft Store so that these Partners can sell things. Because that’s what they do. Sell things.

Got it? Good!

But, you say, it doesn’t do that much more on the desktop on the desktop. I mean, a 16 year old could program a supplementary program for Windows 95 that does Trays and Drawers or Multiple Desktops. Yeah. Sucks right? It’s early days. More will come. Give it a chance.

Microsoft has always been Real Soon Now.

Get used to it. This is how it goes.

If you have a current Windows keyboard, mouse, non touch screen and are using Windows 7

Windows 8 and the new Metro Modern Tiles don’t bring Big Bang to the desktop. What is nice – the odd Metro app will make full screen casual browsing of news (ditch the paper newspapers and mags) pretty nice. The famous Start Menu / Orb is gone. Whenever you think Start Menu, think Modern Tiles – they appear whenever you touch the Windows Key like a Charm. You could press lots other keys too. Microsoft Office 2013 is really worth updating to though. Easy Skydrive Cloud Storage. OneNote 2013. Excel is ah, even more feature rich.

If you want to get a new PC

Don’t go and buy a discounted classic PC running Windows 7 because it is heavily discounted old stock. Get a new PC with a Windows 8 compatible Touch Screen. Really. Night and Day Difference. Get a transforming one though. Or something that does not feel that if you tilt the screen the whole PC will fall onto your face.

Microsoft and Software Partners will be working night and day to make XAML + HTML5 + .net apps that mash into various web services.

If you want to get a Tablet

iPad is The One. Lots of apps. There I said it. Get a Droid if you’re a Geek. A fair number of apps too. Microsoft Surface is available. It runs Windows RT for ARM chips. Windows RT is not desktop Intel chipped Windows classic. Microsoft Access, Project, Outlook isn’t on Windows RT. I have not seen whether the Word for Windows RT and Excel for Windows RT is blow for blow the same as Windows 8 Desktop Edition. There are already some tablets running Windows 8 desktop edition. They’re really cool. But they’re not el cheapo tablet priced. In fact Windows Surface tablets are not cheap either. Because they’re new hardware, just developed and sold direct by Microsoft with some standard of quality. Wait for Chinese or Taiwanese Windows RT Tablets to come on the scene if you want cheap.

If you want a Phone

iPhone 5, despite the jokes about getting lost in the mapping, is it. Or get a top Droid if you’re a geek. Get a Windows Phone if you think this is how to be extra cool to the corporate Microsoft Exchange Server. Or you want to keep Nokia from going under.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Prime Cuts for Windows 8

Windows 8 retail was officially launched yesterday. I’ve been driving Windows 8 for a while but didn’t enjoy the Metro factor until I came across Scott Hanselman’s video and checked out these keyboard shortcuts from Derick Campbell and Microsoft IT Showcase list hosted by Amit at LabNol.

(I’ll update this information as I find and figure out more and more accurate details.

You're gazing at the Metro tiled screen.

  • Just start typing the name of a program and the screen will shortlist the icons that are relevant.
or
  • Tap on the Windows key to return to the last used open program.
or
  • Windows key + Tab to cycle through the list of running programs including Metro
or
  • Windows key + Minus to zoom out, Windows key + equals to zoom in
or
  • PgUp or PgDn to scroll the tiles horizontally
or
  • Win + X - Quick Menu
or
  • Win + R - Run command
or
  • Win+E - Explorer

You are on the Desktop want to get back to the Metro screen

  • Tap on the Windows key once to bring up the Metro screen, tap again to return to your last used running program
or
  • Move the mouse quickly to the bottom left corner of the screen to display the Metro button hovering

Killing a Running Task

  • Windows Key + Tab to nominate the program and then tap the Del key without releasing the Win+Tab
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del will as usual display a small menu and then you can proceed to the enhanced Task Manager

You're running a Metro App and want to bring up the bottom App Commands Bar

  • Windows key + Z

You want to switch between Metro Apps and classic programs

  • Holding the classic Alt+Tab shows a dialog listing running processes inclusive of classic programs and Metro apps. The titles of these processes are not descriptive enough and the visual for each process may not accurately reflect the program's screen
or
  • Windows key + Tab - displays a vertical panel on the left of the screen enumerating Metro apps
or
  • Windows key + dot / Windows key + Shift + dot will
    • Snap the App
      • If there are several running classic apps, they will tile into a vertical strip
      • If you are running a Metro app, this app will fill the vertical strip
    • Subsequently press Windows key + Tab to put another running Metro app into the main screen
or
  • Windows + D to switch to Desktop

Charms and Stuff

Win + C Open Charms (also shows Date/Time/Power/Net).
Win + F Open Search Charm on Files.
Win + W Open Search Charm on Settings.
Win + Q Open Search Charm on Active App
(on right side only if supported by App).
Win + H Open Share Charm.
Win + I Open Settings Charm (plus Start Settings and Metro Help).
Win + K Open Devices Charm.
Win + P Control second screen
Win + PrintScreen Screen capture AND creates a .png file

Not aware of pre-existing Windows 7 Shortcut Keys? 

- See Computer Productivity - Windows 7 Shortcut Keys

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Microsoft Office 2013 RTM now available for download for Technet and MSDN subscribers

I got wind of the availability today through the Into Windows third party website.
A few quick points:
For incremental news updates on my adventures with Office 2013, circle me on: