Monthly Archives: March 2013
Windows Blue – the NEXT big thing?
After an abundance of rumors we now have concrete evidence of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Blue operating system. The leak of “Windows Build 9364” appeared Sunday morning and news of the leak blazed across the internet like wildfire. Although Microsoft hasn’t issued a formal statement about the leak, it’s been reported by many industry news sources such as PC World, C-Net and numerous blogs and forums.
From the information currently available, here are what’s expected to be the 10 coolest features (and hints of new features) buried deep inside this build of Windows.
1. Half-screen app snapping
Windows 8’s ability to “Snap” an app to the side of the screen while another runs beside it gives the OS multitasking that Android and iOS just can’t match. The Windows Blue leak adds a 50/50 snapping option that should’ve been available from the get-go. Being able to dedicate half your screen to two separate apps makes the Snap feature much more useful for day-to-day app-based activities. (The old 75/25 split is still available if you prefer it, though.)
2. The rise of modern User Interface PC settings
One of the worst flaws of Windows 8 is the way it splits crucial settings options between the traditional desktop Control Panel and the modern-style PC Settings found in the Settings charm. Windows Blue fixes this with its vastly expanded PC Settings, which now contain many of the options hidden within the Control Panel.
Windows Build 9364’s PC Settings now let you fiddle with default apps, resolutions, networking details, and a whole lot more—including a new SkyDrive section.
3. Super SkyDrive
The modern-style SkyDrive app is not the same as the desktop SkyDrive app. That difference is glaring in Windows 8, where the modern-style app can only access files previously stored in your SkyDrive—it has no ability whatsoever to sync new files to the cloud. That may change with Windows Blue.
Hidden under the new SkyDrive section of the PC Settings is a Files submenu that hints at the addition of a file-syncing option in Windows Blue.
4. Internet Explorer 11
Also found in Windows Blue: Internet Explorer 11. It’s a very early version of Microsoft’s next-gen web browser—so much so that, functionally, it’s the exact same as Windows 8’s Internet Explorer 10. Under the surface, however, lies an intriguing hint of a new feature for the browser.
Buried inside the “More options” button in the top-most menu bar is an option dubbed Show synced tabs. Internet Explorer 10 introduced synced bookmarks and history to Microsoft’s browser. Were those just the beginning? It’ll be interesting to see if and how the new tab syncing function fits into the various IE iterations spread across Microsoft’s various platforms.
5. New apps?
Alongside the usual Mail, Maps, and Music tiles you know and love/loathe, a quadruplet of new apps appear on the Windows Blue Start screen: Alarms, Calculate, Sound Recorder, and Movie Moments.
6. New Live Tile size options
In Windows 8, you have two basic Live Tile sizing options: A medium-sized square, or a larger rectangle the size of two of those squares combined. Windows Blue ups the customization ante with the introduction of two new tile sizes. One’s an itty-bitty square a quarter of the size of Windows medium Tiles, while the other is a massive Tile as big as a pair of Windows 8’s larger rectangular tiles.
The additional sizing options afford a lot more customization flexibility, giving you the ability to craft a Start screen that isn’t quite as grid-like as what you’re limited to in Windows 8.
7. Say goodbye to accidental tile shifting
One of the biggest frustrations of the Windows 8 Start screen is how easy it is to accidentally move a Live Tile to a new location. If you move the mouse even a little bit while clicking on a Tile, the screen shifts to Semantic Zoom to allow you to move the Tile to another location, rather than simply opening it. Windows Blue eliminates that frustration with a new Customize button.
8. New gestures
That doesn’t mean the All Apps screen was eliminated from Windows Blue, however. The Verge reports that Windows Blue includes new gesture controls, including the ability to swipe up from the bottom of the Start screen to reveal all of your installed apps. Swiping up from the bottom of the desktop reveals a hidden app bar that includes snapping and projector options, amongst other things.
9. Easier personalization
While we’re on a Start screen, it’s worth mentioning that Windows Blue makes it much easier to change the look of the user interface. In Windows 8, the personalization options are banished to the darkest corner of the OS, buried deep in submenu after submenu. In Windows Blue, a Personalization option appears in the level of the Settings charm, right above the familiar Tiles and Help options.
10. Simple screenshot sharing
Maybe it’s because I love anything that streamlines the process of taking and sharing operating system screenshots. Windows 7’s “Snipping Tool” is/was the best thing since sliced bread in my opinion. Windows Blue adds the ability to share a screenshot of the app you’re working in using other modern-style apps you have installed, similar to Android’s sharing function. Again, it’s a simple change, but an awesome one.
The more things change, the more they stay the same
The most telling takeaway has nothing to do with features or functionality, however: It’s the very nature of Build 9364 itself. Previously, there was some debate about whether Windows Blue was a whole new OS or an update to Windows 8. Now we know it’s clearly the latter, as evidenced by the incremental improvements found in the leaked operating system.
And while we’re talking notable non-features, the Start button still doesn’t make it into Windows Blue. Looks like it’s really gone for good!
That said, Windows Blue is a clearly a step in the right direction, addressing many of the basic interface complaints leveled at Windows 8 and Windows RT as they stand today. Will it be enough to woo Windows 7 enthusiasts to Microsoft’s platform of the future? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Want to see a video of Windows Blue new features? Visit our friends at the Verge
Ready or Not – Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is Coming
If you’re a Windows 7 user and you’ve been dragging your heels when it comes to that Service Pack 1 upgrade, then prepare to get an extra dose of encouragement from Microsoft.
Starting today, March 19th, 2013, Microsoft will begin deploying SP1 via Windows Update to all neglected PCs, and just so you’re aware, the update won’t require your consent. The push will happen during a phased rollout over the next few weeks, and as for the consequence of not upgrading, Microsoft will no longer support Windows 7 RTM as of April 9th 2013. As usual, PCs that are managed by system administrators can be shielded from the deployment, but for everyone else, it seems that you’d best prepare for the inevitable.
Here’s a snippet from the Microsoft “Blogging Windows” blog post:
“The installation will be fully automatic with no user action required for those who already have Automatic Update enabled. SP1 will be released gradually over the coming weeks to all customers on the RTM version of Windows 7. The service pack will take slightly longer to install compared to other updates. To ensure Service Pack 1 is installed without issue, customers should check for sufficient free disk space and that AC power is present on a laptop. If additional space needs to be created, we recommend using the Disk Cleanup tool to delete some files so that the service pack will install. If the service pack installation is interrupted, it will reattempt to install automatically after the next restart.”
What’s included in Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1)
Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is an important update that includes previously released security, performance, and stability updates for Windows 7. SP1 also includes new improvements to features and services in Windows 7, such as improved reliability when connecting to HDMI audio devices, printing using the XPS Viewer, and restoring previous folders in Windows Explorer after restarting.
Installing SP1 helps keep Windows 7 up to date.
The recommended (and easiest) way to get SP1 is to turn on automatic updating in Windows Update in Control Panel, and wait for Windows 7 to notify you that SP1 is ready to install. It takes about 30 minutes to install, and you’ll need to restart your computer about halfway through the installation.
To find out if Windows 7 SP1 is already installed on your computer:
Click the Start button, right-click Computer, and then click Properties. If Service Pack 1 is listed under Windows edition, SP1 is already installed on your computer.
Microsoft recommends that customers use Windows Update to install the service pack as it will provide the best experience but if you just can’t wait to get SP1, see this link on how to install Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) manually.
Internet Explorer 10 is not compatible with many online banking sites and a host of other websites not yet upgraded to render properly in this brand new browser release.
During the month of March, Microsoft will be making its Internet Explorer 10 browser available for Windows 7 and 8. This browser update will be automatically propagated and installed as part of the next Microsoft Windows update.
Preliminary testing has identified compatibility issues between the new Internet Explorer browser and many online banking sites.
Since many banking sites do not support Internet Explorer 10 at this time, we STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO NOT install the new browser on computers that access any cash management or banking sites.
If you insist on installing IE 10 or the Microsoft auto-update gets past you and find that you can’t remove it to roll back to IE9, there is a workaround.
To force a webpage you are viewing in Internet Explorer 10 into a particular document compatibility mode, first open F12 Tools by pressing the F12 key. Then, on the Browser Mode menu, click Internet Explorer 10, and on the Document Mode menu, click Standards.
This special mode will allow most incompatible sites to work for you. This is by no means guaranteed and your success with this workaround may be limited.
Information on using IE 10 in Compatibility Mode:
Additional info here:
Avoiding the constant barrage of email security threats has become a challenge for even the most savvy internet users. These emails may be used to install a Trojan program on a computer to collect data that will be used in Internet fraud, identity theft or allow a hacker to gain control of your computer.
Two of the threats currently circulating are:
UPS – sends you an email stating “Unfortunately, we failed to deliver the package you have sent on the 27th of February in time, because the recipient’s address is not correct. Please go to the nearest UPS office and show your shipping label to collect the package.” The email includes a submit button that, supposedly, will print a shipping label.
FedEx – someone masquerading as FedEx sends you an email stating that your parcel has arrived. Courier was unable to deliver the parcel to you at… To receive your parcel, please, print this receipt and go to the nearest office.
Both of these emails are bogus and with a little detective work you can identify the problems.
There are 3 very important and easy to distinguish warning signs with these types of emails:
1: The first warning sign is that the message is not written in clear English, contains improper punctuation and just doesn’t make sense.
2: The second warning sign is that the “senders” email address is obviously NOT a FedEx email address
3: And finally, if you hover your mouse cursor over the “Print Receipt” link you’ll see that it points to a website that has absolutely nothing to do with FedEx.
Many people are tricked into clicking the links because they may be waiting for a package delivery or have recently sent something to someone. That’s what the hackers are counting on when they send these types of emails.
Once you’ve clicked the link, the damage is done so be very vigilant in verifying every minute detail in these types of email scams. Also keep in mind that FedEx and UPS don’t usually email their customers about anything having to do with deliveries.
The BEST course of action is to immediately delete these emails without clicking any of the links. If you have reason to believe or “think” the email might be legitimate – simply pick up the phone and call the carrier involved.