Tag Archives: windows

Sinofsky Out: Were We Right About Windows 8 Usability?

Yes, Steven Sinofsky will no longer be at Microsoft. Can’t say that I’m surprised, either. I don’t know the guy, and I would never wish anything but the best for him.

Still, my long-standing belief that Windows 8’s UX is a disaster area remains unchanged and, if anything, Sinofsky’s sudden departure is vindication.

I’m certain there are other factors at play, but I know I’m not the only one who looks at Windows 8’s schizophrenia and wonders just what he was thinking.

Let me put it to you another way: If he was right about the Windows 8 (and RT) strategies, do you really think he’d be out so soon?

Android is the New Windows

I mean that in the most polite way, too. 🙂

There’s a reason that Android is the most widely used smartphone platform today — just like there’s a reason that Windows is still the most widely used platform on desktop computers today.

You never heard an argument from me; it was inevitable that Android (or another competitor) would overtake iOS with a licensing strategy.

There are certainly more Windows PCs out there, but people haven’t stopped buying Macs — and Apple hasn’t stopped being profitable with them.

iOS devices will continue to be purchased and used by a segment of the market that spends money (a great market to corner for semi-obvious reasons). Even if Apple only continued to produce those iOS devices for its Mac customer base, it’d still remain profitable — though wouldn’t sell as many as it would have without competition.

Just because you sell more doesn’t mean you have the “best” product, either.

To me, the question isn’t “will Apple be destroyed” as much as it is “can Microsoft catch up?”

Windows 8: a Monkey with Four Asses

Windows 8: a Monkey with Four AssesIt’s good that many people are in love with their Windows 8 experience. I don’t want to take away from that, and my perspective should not be any reflection on your choices. What you like is what you like, and I respect that.

I just can’t get over the blended UX — and I keep trying to do just that. I am trying to accommodate Microsoft’s decision to keep its feet on both sides of the riverbank. I simply am not having a great time with this new version of Windows. It’s not that I’m “biased,” it’s not that I haven’t tried, and it’s not like I’m comparing it to anything other than what it’s trying to be. I’m just confused with Windows 8. What is this supposed to be?

So, great, I’m glad you’ve found something that works well for you. I am happy to hear you singing its praises (Microsoft appreciates it, too). But slapping the beautiful, touchscreen-optimized Modern UI atop the classic Desktop makes me see Windows RT / 8 as… a four-assed monkey.

That’s my perspective. That’s my experience. If we don’t see eye-to-eye, we don’t. Obviously, you might see it as the best thing Microsoft could have done — but I see it as one big usability compromise. “You’ll get used to it” sounds like a cop out.

I think I’ve figured out what the best possible Windows 8 PC is (for maximum usability):

  • Portability (Lightweight)
  • 5+ Hour Battery Life
  • Not Plastic
  • Touchscreen
  • Keyboard
  • Around $1,000
  • Crucial: Trackpad

Given that we have to put up with Microsoft’s decisions, I’ve set out to find the optimum Windows 8 computer. I’m wholly frustrated with the bifurcated UX (it’s schizophrenic, at best). When you use Windows 8, you quickly realize that Modern is nothing more than lipstick. But, as it turns out, the lynchpin for my disappointment in other Windows 8 configurations was not having a trackpad (sounds stupid, but that’s the only way I can effectively navigate on the classic Desktop while still being able to touch the tasty Modern experience).

Looks like Surface Pro might be it, unless you know an OEM that’s making a PC that fits the bill?

One thing’s for sure: at $1,000, Windows 8 will never be an iPad killer. And, as much as Microsoft believes a Windows RT PC can kill the iPad or stave off Android tablet experiences, RT is not up to the task today.

I’m trying, here… I really am.

Image: South Park Studios

How to Switch from Windows to Mac

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Long-time community member and contributor Lamarr has long been a die-hard Windows fan. However, as evidenced in this video, he is beginning a switch over to the other side. Whether Apple is the Dark Side or not remains to be seen. This is something Lamarr has researched and thought about for months. He is convinced that he is making the best decision for himself and his business.

That’s what it boils down to, folks – a personal decision. I cannot tell you what to buy, nor can I condemn you for your choices. Until I am paying for your devices, I’m pretty sure I have no say at all. It’s my job as a tech reviewer to give you honest feedback about the various devices and gadgets that I have bought or which have been sent to me to review. Those videos and blog posts are simply additions to the ways in which you can learn about each product for yourself. They’re not there as a means of my telling you what is the right thing for you to buy.

What’s right for me may well not be right for you. What’s right for Lamarr may not be what’s right for you. What’s right for you… well, you get the picture. This is the beautiful thing about the tech industry: we each have our own sets of desires and needs. There are millions of product out there aimed at fulfilling whatever hole it is you have in your life or business. Yes, it can be difficult at times to narrow down the choices. In the end, though, it’s your choice to make. Bashing someone for what they CHOOSE is pretty dang stupid if you ask me.

It’s a HUGE deal to have Lamarr switching over to Mac. For fifteen years, he’s built computers for himself and others – based around Windows. He didn’t hate Macs, but he admits he used to wish that they had never been created. The closed atmosphere bothered him greatly… and there were limited software choices years ago.

Lamarr’s vision of what “closed” means has drastically changed in recent years. Back in the day, it meant simply that you were limited by choices on software and portability. Today, closed (in relation to Apple) means simply that Apple controls their hardware and other features as closely as possible. Lamarr has begun to see the light – by having this control, Apple is able to deliver solid performance every single time. This also marshals protection for the users.

I commend Lamarr for making a change that he felt was necessary to move him forward. It doesn’t matter to me that he went from Windows to OS X. What matters is that he did his homework, weighed his options and decided what the best choice was for him. Hate on him all you want, Windows fanboys – but he had the guts to try something new and realize that it fit his needs better than what he had in the past.

Good on you, Lamarr!

How to Buy a Computer

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Buying a new computer can be quite confusing. There are so many brands out there – so many choices. You have to attempt to figure out if you want a desktop or laptop. Then you need to narrow down your choices. How much do you plan to use your machine? What types of tasks will you be performing with it on a regular basis? The answers to these questions can help you figure out which computer is right for you. According to the team behind the Windows Twitter account, a lot of you simply aren’t sure what you are supposed to be looking for when purchasing a new system.

Computers are a lot like clothes: not one size fits all. What you want will be different from what the rest of us want. Microsoft has developed a tool called Windows PC Scout to help you make the right choice. This tool will step you through a series of questions to get you to your ideal machine.

The experts behind Windows went on a hunt to find the best of the best, and the PC Scout will help you figure out which of those works best for you. There are no paid placements. The machines recommended on the site are only there because they were determined to deliver the best Windows experience possible.

If you already have a general idea of what type of specs you want in a machine, the tool can help you narrow down your choices by giving suggestions of the best laptops available which fit your specific criteria. You can choose from categories such as everyday usage, gaming rigs, multimedia machines and connected companions.

The more you spend, then happier you will be several years from now. If you don’t spend much, you’re likely going to become frustrated with the limitations of that device within a much shorter period of time. Many of you feel you need to have the latest and greatest – and that’s okay. It’s honestly all a matter of personal choice. Its’ about what works for YOU.

If what you have right now is working just fine, stick with it – especially if your software is up to date. You need to always keep your software updated… including (and most importantly) your operating system. If you don’t have a computer running Windows 7, I honestly think you should upgrade. Microsoft and software/hardware vendors are developing their products to run most effectively on Windows 7. Yes – they make work well with older versions, but they won’t run at their level best. Don’t you deserve the best?

Windows Run as Administrator

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Once again, I decided to pick the brains of my friends over at the official Twitter account for Microsoft Windows to find out what it is people are asking them the most often. They were only too happy to send me a list so that I can try and help give some solid answers to the community. Keep in mind that while you may already know the answer to these types of questions – many people do not. This time around, we’re going to talk about the necessity of the “Run as Administrator” command – why, when and how.

The first thing you need to know is that if a program wasn’t designed to be run as an Administrator, then don’t do it! You shouldn’t give admin access to anything that isn’t absolutely necessary to help keep your machine secure. Why let an executable run amok – using up a ton of resources it really doesn’t need – if you don’t have to?

If a program isn’t give you enough privileges, then you may want to try running it as an Administrator. Perhaps you are running an installer and the software didn’t install fully. You might want to redo it by choosing the “Run as Administrator” option in cases like these.

There are many ways of running a program as an Administrator. One of the ways is to turn off the User Account Control (UAC). I don’t necessarily recommend that option, though. You could potentially expose your computer to some really bad things.

You can pull it up from the task menu and run it as an admin from there, or you can go straight to the .exe and right click, then choose to “Run as an Administrator.” Notice that just to the left of those words is a little warning icon. It’s asking you if you’re sure you want to do this! I mean, really.. you’re granting a whole lot of privileges to one tiny little executable. It’s always good to make sure you know why you’re doing this and whether it’s necessary.

Using Run as Administrator isn’t only reserved for software installations. Any time a program just isn’t doing what it should be, it could be due to your giving the wrong amount of access to your system. Also, there are times that you will need to update drivers as an Administrator.

Make sure you are following the Windows Twitter account and the Windows Gaming account to get many more tips and tricks.

How to Adjust Screen Resolution in Windows

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Screen resolution refers to the size of the whole image that is displayed on your monitor. It specifically refers to the number of individual pixels that are shown at once. The more pixels on your screen the more detailed your images will be. With less pixels, the elements will look larger… but there will be a lot less space on the desktop for programs to run.

Your monitor has a native resolution – unless it’s an older model. Most LCD monitors these days can display a lot of different resolutions, but the native one always looks the best. This is because that is the resolution that matches the number of pixels inside of your display. Any other resolution might look a bit distorted since the number of pixels used won’t match the actual number in the display.

However, there are times when you may need to change your resolution to make it easier for you to see properly. Our monitors have an optimal resolution setting that works best for the monitor – but it may not work best for our eyes. Changing up the resolution is a pretty simple matter, thankfully. Before adjusting the resolution settings, make sure your display drivers and monitor drivers are up to date.

To change your resolution in Windows 7, right-click on your desktop and then choose “Screen Resolution.” You will find a drop-down menu next to the word “resolution,” showing you all of the different resolutions that your monitor can support. Further down on that same screen, you will see blue words: “Make text and other items larger or smaller.” Clicking here will help you quickly and permanently adjust your font and image size to meet your vision needs. Additionally, you can temporarily change text size on a page by holding down your CTRL key and scrolling the mouse wheel in or out.

Again on that same screen, clicking on the blue words “What display settings should I choose?” takes you to a Help topic which explains each of the changes you can make in detail. This page can help you make decisions on choosing color settings, brightness and contrast settings and more.

Microsoft has put together a fantastic tutorial to show you all of the ways you can customize your Windows 7 installation to meet your particular accessibility needs.

How to Change Screensavers in Windows 7

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Back to basics! My dad asked me how to do something routine: change the screen saver in Windows. This isn’t the desktop background, mind you. It’s just a screen saver – you know, the software thingy that moves imagery around the screen after a specified period of time? And why not just right-click the desktop and do it from there? Well, there’s a reason I step a user through the help applet. The next time they need to figure out how to do something in Windows, they’ll know what to use. Can’t right-click the desktop for everything, yo.

Clicking on the little blue orb with the Windows logo at the lower-left corner of the screen bring up the Start menu. Click the option to the right that says “Help and Support.” At the top of the new screen, you will see a white box that says “Search Help.” Click your mouse there to bring up a cursor and type in “Change Screensaver.” Hit the Enter key, and the best results will pop right up.

Choose the top option. Click the blue hyperlink that tells you to “change a screensaver.” This will bring up step-by-step instructions to help you change your screensaver.

Keep in mind that you need to be careful where you’re downloading screensavers from. Not all of them come from safe and reputable sites. If you’re ever unsure, send me an email. I’ll gladly send you a list of safe sites.

You can use this same method of help and support to change or find other things on your computer.

Which Version of Windows is Right for You?

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Someone wondered recently why there are so many versions of Windows. I wanted to answer with “Because Microsoft hates you!” Have you ever walked into a store and been confronted with seventy different types of gum? You have no idea what you want. The same thing happens with Windows… there are so many flavors, you aren’t sure what it is you want and need.

Microsoft does this because they want to give you what you need. The problem arises when you don’t know what you need. I say they should make one version and let people choose which parts of that piece of software they want. That has caveats of its own, of course. It’s a never-ending cycle.

Theoretically, Microsoft is giving you a choice of features with a variety of pricing structures. I don’t agree with this. I just want gum. I’m also the kind of guy who walks into a store and buys plain vanilla ice cream. I just want ONE thing.

It would be easier to have one copy of Windows and allow you to buy (and use) the portions you want to use. This makes sense from a marketing and a consumer standpoint.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel there are too many flavors of Windows?

Is the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool Necessary?

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Someone recently asked if I felt the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool is actually necessary. It’s a good tool for what it’s designed to do and I don’t see why you would NOT have it on your Windows machines. It’s free, and it’s designed to help keep your computer – and information – safe.

My assistant Kat is a Microsoft MVP in Windows Security, and I’m pretty sure she’d agree with my assessment, as well. This tool checks computers for infections by specific, prevalent malicious software—including Blaster, Sasser, and Mydoom—and helps remove any infection found. When the detection and removal process is complete, the tool displays a report describing the outcome, including which, if any, malicious software was detected and removed.

You can grab the tool via your Windows Updates, or simply download it directly. The version of the tool delivered by Windows Update runs in the background and then reports if an infection is found. To run this tool more than once a month, use the direct download version linked to above.

What security measures do you employ on your various machines?