My Early Windows 10 Experiences

I took the plunge yesterday while preparing an Azure presentation – I performed an in-place upgrade of Windows 8.1 on my Toshiba KIRAbook to Windows 10. Initially I tried to do it via USB, but I’d not prepared a UEFI stick for the device (thanks for the tip Hans Vredevoort). I copied the install files onto the laptop and ran it – within half an hour I had a fully upgraded machine with all my apps, programs, data, and settings in place. I think the only thing I had to do was re-install LastPass for IE.

The performance of the technical preview is excellent. Reboots were already blisteringly fast on this machine and now it’s not much more than a slow blink.

The start menu works as expected. I doubt I’ll use multiple screens much but it’s easy to use too. The weird experience was that I kept expecting to see the start screen when I clicked on Start. I have the ability to go back to the Win8 behaviour but I won’t; instead I just pinned my usual warm apps to the start menu, while my usual hot apps were on the task bar as they were before the upgrade.

I was out on a customer site today performing a health audit of a hosting infrastructure. I had the KIRAbook with me, taking my notes in OneNote. It behaved normally and was stable. Performance was good, and as usual for this hardware, the battery was excellent.

This afternoon I was back in the office and showed the machine to my colleagues. While they are not IT people, most of them are comfy with tech because that’s what they sell. The Start Menu seemed like a hit. One odd reaction I got was “I want to be able to expand the start menu to a start screen”. The reasoning was that it was easier to search for something in a bigger screen if you had loads of stuff installed. I can understand that one.

Anyway, so far, so good. And like many others have said already, Windows 8 would have been a hit if it was like this.

Somewhere, Steven Sinofsky and Julie Larsson Green are seething.

Enable CTRL Keys in Windows 10 Command Prompt

In case you didn’t know, you can use CTRL + V to paste into Windows 10. This is off by default. You can enable it:

  1. Open Command Prompt
  2. Open the properties of the command prompt (right-click the top left corner)
  3. Browse to the Experimental tab
  4. Check the box for Enable Experimental Console Features. The CTRL key option is the only one checked by default. You can enable others if you want.
  5. Restart the Command Prompt

Yeah! Now you have copy/paste via the keyboard. My laptop has a very high screen res. Before the upgrade the text in the window was TINY and was not adjusted. By enabling experimental features, the text has been increased in size to make it legible.

San Francisco 49ers Are Using Windows Tablets & Microsoft Surface

The San Francisco 49ers (an NFL or American Football team) are based in Santa Clara, California. Nearby you will find Cupertino, the HQ location of Apple. Also nearby, you will find Mountain View, the HQ location of Google.

image

What tablet did I see the 49ers using on the side line in a preseason game against the Ravens last night?

image

Let’s take a closer look:

image

Hmm, that’s not the Apple square button and it sure aint Android. The announcers went on to mention that the NFL has a sponsorship agreement with Microsoft Surface. Note the stylus? I reckon that’s a Surface Pro (not the 3 based on the shape). Apparently the league only allows side line tech such as this for analysing still pictures (a full field shot is taken just before and after a play starts for later analysis by coaches and players).

Previously a junior staff member printed out booklets of black and white photos and ran them to the coaches/players on the side line. That took at least 30 seconds. They must be a mess to use and keep organised. Now colour images (see above) are transmitted straight to the Windows tablets and presented in a tiled touch interface. You can see below that some coaches like the new system, and some do not:

image

Interesting to see a team such as the Niners, who have just built the most technology centric stadium on the planet in the shadows of Apple and Google, are using Windows and the Surface.

Technorati Tags: ,

Microsoft Announces “Windows 8.1 With Bing”

Microsoft just announced the coming of a new edition of Windows 8.1 for low cost devices called Windows 8.1 with Bing. The goal of this SKU is to reduce the overall cost of low price machines, making Windows PCs more accessible.

I talked with one of my colleagues who manages our consumer device market, spanning Windows, Chromebooks, Android, etc. He just told me that Chromebooks have 20 percent to 25 percent of the U.S. market for laptops that cost less than $300 – note that story was from 2013 so the Google gains might be larger now.

This is an important market – it’s where the education market resides. Ever hear the crude phrase: “get ‘em young and rear them as pets”? That’s what Google is trying to do … get kids into the ecosystem and keep them for life.

Microsoft has no choice but to react; they’re used to owning 90%+ of the PC market so losing an important demographic such as this is not good. Losing a large market to the Google ecosystem at such a young age makes it more difficult to win them back.

Many OEMs take payment to change the browser and search engine to something other than the default Microsoft services. Windows 8.1 with Bing will ship on devices with IE set as the default browser and Bing as the default search engine. In return, we believe that OEMs will get lower cost copies of Windows, and this will allow Windows laptops to compete against Google’s machines … and hopefully (for Microsoft) bring those young users into the Microsoft world of Bing, Outlook, and more.

Technorati Tags:

Windows 8.1 Update & Windows Server 2012 R2 Update Is Available On MSDN

The update formerly known as Windows 8.1 Update 1 is available on MSDN now as a slipstreamed build called Windows 8.1 with Update

image

There is also something called Windows 8.1 Industry Update that appears to be the non-slipstreamed update for existing installs.

image

Some may have forgotten, but Windows desktop and server share the same code base, even if they live in different groups within the org chart in Microsoft. Windows Server 2012 with Update is also available on MSDN:

image

The Windows 8.1 non-slipstreamed update should also install on existing WS2012 R2 installations.

I was told by Kirill Andrienko that the ill-fated TechNet also has the updates.

image

Windows 8.1 ENTERPRISE To Be Available For Purchase

Way back when Windows 7 was first announced, I got into a wee bit of trouble for criticising Microsoft’s bundling of the differentiating features of the new desktop OS into just the Enterprise edition. Why? That was because only those who licensed the Pro edition via Volume Licensing with Software Assurance would be entitled to the Enterprise edition. If you couldn’t buy all the cool features, then why would a business consider jumping from Windows XP to Windows 7? Sure, there were lots of good stuff in Windows 7 Pro, but all the cool business features were in the Enterprise edition.

Hmm, turns out that lots of businesses don’t actually buy SA. Large enterprises get SA with their Enterprise Agreements. Larger businesses with Select or Select Plus only get SA at extra cost – they choose this program to avoid annuity programs. In the SME world, those with OVS rather than pure Open do get SA. That leaves lots of businesses without SA, and without the benefits of the Enterprise edition that make an upgrade so appealing. And they just were not able to pay for the Enterprise edition because it was only available as an VL+SA benefit.

Well it seems that some backtracking is occurring. Mary Jo Foley reported overnight that Microsoft is to release the Enterprise edition of Windows 8.1 (and therefore lower editions via downgrade rights) as a standalone product via Select, Select Plus and Open – the two programs without SA. Going forward you will be able to buy the Enterprise + SA option through any VL program.

I think that’s a good news story to get March kicked off!

Technorati Tags: ,

Internet Explorer 11 Freezes With “Your Last Browsing Session Closed Unexpectedly” (Workaround)

I’m in an IE hating kind of mood this week. For no reason, IE11 decided to die on my new laptop on Thursday. That’s forced me back into the hands of Google (I find Firefox to be the worst to use of the 3 big browsers).

What’s happening? When I open IE11 it comes up with “Your last browsing session closed unexpectedly”. And then it locks up. I’ve reset IE and I’ve deleted all items. I’ve disabled all plugins and no joy.

One thing I found was interesting: I reset the home page to the default. IE opens just fine then. But try to browse to a page and it freezes before the page can load. It’s as if the rendering of the page is causing the issue.

A nice suggestion I got via twitter from Tero Alhonen was to:

  1. Disable Browser sync via PC Settings > SkyDrive > Sync Settings
  2. Uninstall IE from Programs & Features > Windows Features
  3. Reboot
  4. Reinstall IE
  5. Reboot
  6. Re-test

Why try this? Because a new test user on the same machine has no issues.

No joy.

I have also tried removing and recreating my user. That, in my opinion, is going too far to fix this issue, and although I could go to some extremes down this path, I am not willing to do so. Why the frak should I? A browser should just damned well work.

BTW, I have found plenty of people on forums having the same issue for months. A few seem to have resolved their issue by installing a new NVIDIA graphics driver. My Yoga’s devices are up to date and it has a Intel HD graphics.

So IE11 is now dead (literally) to me. And MSFT wonders why Win8x isn’t doing well ….

EDIT:

A quick update. Most sites will not load, e.g. Bing or Google. Some (a very few) load slowly, e.g. independent.ie. This leads me to think that there is a rendering issue in IE11 that is specific to my user profile, and was synced in via Skydrive.

EDIT 2:

Tero came back to me with another idea. Disable GPU rendering in the advanced IE settings. I opened up Internet Options in Control Panel and checked Use Software Rendering Instead Of GPU Rendering. I started up IE and pages are opening as expected. Thanks Tero!

image

Back To School 2015 – Windows 9

The company I work for is a distributor. We sell Microsoft licensing (retail, OEM, volume licensing), retail and business laptops, Apple, and much more. Every summer I see how busy our Apple sales folks get. Back-to-school is a huge season for them and Apple recognises this by getting product out in time for the shopping spree.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been doing general availability releases in October, completely missing the season when parents go spend crazy on their precious darlings. Microsoft has effectively halved their seasons by only catching Christmas. Apple gets both the summer buzz and the winter holidays. Sure, Microsoft has gotten lots of biz from €400 laptops in this season, but we know how much that market has been shrinking thanks to the constant IDC headlines.

We know now that “Windows 9” (codename “threshold”) is coming out in April 2015 (or thereabouts). I suspect that is an RTM date. GA will probably be the end of May or start of June. That’s a good thing.

The releases of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have shown us that the interval between RTM and GA is not enough for OEMs to get product out onto shelves. We’ve seen October GAs and previously announced stuff has taken 4-6 months to appear in the retail channel where customers can buy it. I suspect there are two factors in the delay:

  • OEMs are slow to build and ship
  • Retailers are focusing on clearing old stock before ordering next generation stock

For Microsoft and the willing consumer that is a lose-lose perfect storm.

With GA possibly in June, that gives the channel a chance to get stock out in the market by August, the sweet spot in the back-to-school market, and even longer for products to mature for the Christmas shopping season (November onwards).

If this is what happens then I would hope that Microsoft sticks to April RTM dates.

Technorati Tags: ,

BBC News Incorrectly Reporting That Support For Windows XP Was Extended

I just got called over by a panicking sales person in the office who had been reading the BBC News site. The BBC incorrectly reported that Microsoft was extending support and patching for Windows XP, beyond the end date of April 8th (also the end of support for Office 2003).

Let me repeat this:

Support for Windows XP and Office 2003 ENDS on April 8th, 2014

 

There will be no changes to this, no matter what some clueless intern in the BBC news department might have imagined up.

The story links to an announcement by Microsoft that clarifies that support for Microsoft antivirus products on Windows XP will continue through to July 14, 2015. Some people will continue to use Windows XP beyond the end of support date and Microsoft will be providing them with a minimum level of security. They’ll still be vulnerable to attack via vulnerabilities that will be patched on Windows Vista and newer, but still exist in Windows XP.

Another ZDNet blogger (some beardy dude I never heard of) was complaining that Microsoft will continue to allow people to activate Windows XP. I’m not even going to link to that click-bait article because it doesn’t deserve it. Of course activations will continue. People bought the product, still own it, and still have the legal right to use it.

Geez! There really are only two tech journalists out there: Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley.

Right-Click On Start And Windows+X Fail To Open Power User Menu On Windows 8.X

This one has been bugging me for a couple of weeks and I just managed to find a fix. Right-clicking on the start button and pressing Windows+X failed to do anything.

The fix?

1) Open up command prompt and run:

xcopy %SystemDrive%UsersDefaultAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsWinX %userprofile%AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsWinX /e /y

2) Log out and log in again. Everything should work as expected.

Technorati Tags: ,