Windows 8.1 is coming out soon and Microsoft is detailing some of the changes that are going to be present. One of the most looked for changes is a return of the start button. This one feature is so missed by users that a booming trade in third party software for add-in start buttons has developed. The problem is that the start button Microsoft is putting back does not mean the start menu is back. Instead clicking this button will only get you back to the Modern UI. This makes the change cosmetic in nature and does not actually address the issue that most people have with Windows 8 and the Modern UI. This is the same as the option to boot to the desktop, if you do not have a real start menu, what is the point. People were not looking just to get the start button back, but the actual start menu with the ease of access that it brought. The rest of the improvements all appear to be related to the Modern UI and show that Microsoft is simply not read to listen to reason or even the consumer.
With every new product that hits the market there are going to be winners and losers. This is true from CPUs to GPU s and everything in between. There is one place where this is more true than any other segment of the market; this is the mobile market. Now the mobile market does not just mean phones (smart or dumb). This market includes everything from portable power sources to fully fledged desktop replacement notebooks. Currently the most competitive market is in the Tablet world. To most people Apple is king. They have the most successful tablet device out and are well into the second generation of the iPad. But first does not always mean best nor does popularity alone indicate complete success (although it certainly helps). Today we have the chance to take a look at one of the competitors to Apple. Not necessarily the iPad, although it will challenge that device in a major way, this is more of a direct threat to the Apple fan base and their tablet/ultra-portable devices. This is the EEE Slate EP121 (also called the EEE Pad) from Asus; a product launched at CES and one that packs quite a bit of hardware including an Intel Core i5 Dual Core CPU and up to 4GB of RAM. So sit back for a good read and decide for yourself if this one falls into the winner’s group or the losers.
Today marked the day that Microsoft released Windows 8 to the general public. We have tinkered with several builds of Windows 8, but so far we have not been all that impressed with what the guys in Redmond have come up with. Our big issue has been the lack of functionality and usability in the new MetroUI. In our last public coverage we had to switch back to Windows 7 after only three days or testing. So now let’s take another stab at getting Windows 8 running on current hardware, namely our Asus EEE Slate EP121.
So after our look at the installation of Windows 8 on our Asus EEE Slate EP 121 we have gotten through the mess of installing drivers that are not meant for our device and getting some basic applications installed. We are now ready to take a look at the Metro UI and some of the features built into the Windows 8 platform. Let’s kick off with how fast this new OS starts up from a cold boot.
As we have been working with Windows 8 and Windows 2012 server we have become increasingly concerned about security. Although Microsoft has claimed that they have improved security through items like the locked UEFI boot process there are still glaring omissions in security that keep popping up very recently it was noted that despite the claims from Microsoft of a more secure login process the password hint is exposed in the SID database and easily recovered remotely. We also found that users’ contact lists are also left in the open (and in plain text) and available to anyone that can gain remote elevated privileges; which is what almost all Viruses and Malware try to do.
If you have been on the internet then you have heard about the possibility of Microsoft releasing a new “fix” to Windows in the form of Window 8.2 This new release is supposed to be an extension of their work to revamp Windows 8 into something that consumers will actually want. Now, most people will acknowledge that Microsoft needs to make a large number of changes to Windows 8 to make it more palatable (and usable), but are they really working on an 8.2 release when they just pushed out 8.1?
Yesterday the internet had an unexpected (by some) show of nVidia’s Mobile 28nm Kepler GPU. This was done through the review of an Acer Ultrabook. Although the desktop flavor is still some time away (maybe end of April or early May) we now can start to make guesses about how kepler might compare. Of course the real performance of Kepler is anyone’s guess. We decided to continue on with our coverage of Windows 8 x64. This time we dive into the nVidia side of gaming with an nVidia GTX 470 dropped into our testing rig. We used the same games and, of course, we shot some video of how well it worked out.
Microsoft is doing the hard sell on Windows 8 features and in particular they have made a valiant effort to push past some of the bad press (and consumer grumbling) about Metro UI and the way many of the apps are locked down. We have talked a little about this and even touched on it during some of our gaming coverage. Although you can launch “desktop” applications from the Start Screen (The Metro UI interface) you are not actually running them there. The only apps that will run in Metro UI Mode are ones that are downloaded from the Microsoft Store. This limits the functionality of the OS in many ways. Sure you can get some applications to interact with each other, but even then there are limitations.
One of the things that continues to annoy me about Microsoft is their constant failures. These failures are not due to product failures. The products they make are pretty solid; no it is because Microsoft fails to understand the market they are competing in. In the Operating system market Microsoft truly only has one competitor. I know I am annoying the Linux guys when I say this but Apple is their only real competition when it comes to the desktop OS. The same thing can be said for their Productivity suite Office. Even Mac owners use Office for Mac. Again I know there are multiple open source office products but even the most popular of them cannot compete with Microsoft sales in this area.
Microsoft had a brief moment in the sun with the release of Windows 10 after the less than stellar market performance of Windows 8.x. However, it seems they are determined to make sure that they screw things up as it was uncovered that the EULA (End User License Agreement) for the Windows 10 Technical Preview allowed them access to a little more than they would usually need for a Beta program.