Tag Archives | Windows

Satya Nadella’s Microsoft Vision is Strikingly Different From Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft Vision

The era of devices and services gives way to mobile-and-cloud productivity
Satya Nadella announces Office for the iPad at an event in San Francisco on March 27, 2014

Satya Nadella announces Office for the iPad at an event in San Francisco on March 27, 2014

At 6am this morning, Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, sent his colleagues a long memo spelling out his vision for the company. He was thoughtful enough to post it on Microsoft.com for the rest of us to read, too.

The memo contains no shockers: Instead, it spells out things Nadella has already said, only at greater, more ambitious length. But I am struck by this bit near the top:

Microsoft was founded on the belief that technology creates opportunities for people and organizations to express and achieve their dreams by putting a PC on every desk and in every home.

More recently, we have described ourselves as a “devices and services” company. While the devices and services description was helpful in starting our transformation, we now need to hone in on our unique strategy.

At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.

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I'll Celebrate When Windows 98 SE Turns Fifteen

A post by Gizmodo’s Sam Biddle reminded me of a fact I would have had memorized if I were a serious tech historian: Windows 95 shipped fifteen years ago today. I certainly have memories of the launch–including running the beta for months beforehand and working on PC World‘s Windows 95 issue.  (That magazine remains the single best selling issue of PCW ever sold; I don’t think there’s a topic in tech today that would capture the imagination of such a high percentage of computer users all at once.)

Oddly enough, thinking back doesn’t leave me all that nostalgic. It’s not that I’m incapable of being fascinated by mid-1990s Microsoftian history–just a few months ago, I wrote a gazillion words about the fifteenth birthday of Bob. But Windows 95 didn’t capture my imagination in 1995, and it doesn’t do so today.

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Veghte Leaves Microsoft

Microsoft has announced that Bill Veghte, a 19-year veteran of the company, will be leaving to pursue his own interests. The move is not all that surprising considering no announcement had been made of his role in the Windows division of the company following Steven Sinofsky’s promotion to president.

It is rumored that Veghte wasn’t too happy with being passed over by Sinofsky, who had previously served as vice president of the engineering group within Windows. He served as senior vice president of the global Windows business, and had been instrumental in orchestrating Microsoft’s Windows 7 launch. It would almost seem as if he would have been the logical choice to ascend to the top spot in Microsoft’s Windows division, but that was not meant to be.

Mary Jo Foley reports that Veghte told her in a phone interview that he did attempt to find a new role within the company, but in the end decided leaving was the best option.


Device Stage Gets Short Shrift

Windows 7 LogoMicrosoft blogged today about the compatibility logo program for hardware and software devices that will work with Windows 7. It’s in sync with Windows 7’s overall spirit of simplicity: There’s just one logo (“Compatible with Windows 7”) vs. the two that Microsoft came up with for Windows Vista. (“Works with Windows Vista” indicated basic compatibility; “Certified for Windows Vista” was more rigorous.)

Simplicity is good–especially since nobody who doesn’t work at Microsoft and who isn’t involved in manufacturing hardware or developing software really knows the specifics of what the logo indicates. As the “Compatible” in “Compatible with Windows Vista” indicates, the emphasis this time around seems to be on ensuring that products will function reliably with all versions of the OS, including the 64-bit ones. It’s not claiming that a product is a shining example-the equivalent Windows XP logo had the loftier-sounding name of”Designed for Windows XP”–but just that it works.

But I’m sorry that Microsoft didn’t institute one additional requirement for hardware products: mandating that they support Device Stage, the OS’s new system for putting a bunch of features related to a peripheral in one place, such as a camera’s charge level, storage capacity, and tools for importing and transferring photos.

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PC Annoyances–and a Security Fix

Steve Bass's TechBiteI know you’re not always happy with your PC, so here are three fixes to some of the annoyances you’ve sent to me.

Louder. No, Quieter

The Annoyance: I have lots of MP3s I’ve ripped onto my hard drive from CDs. Nothing seems to play at the same volume level. When I play Copeland’s “Fanfare,” it’s loud enough to make the dog jump, yet all of Dave Brubeck’s music is way too soft.

The Fix: When you use Windows Media Player to burn music into a CD, the trick is to adjust–or normalize–the sound level as you’re burning the MP3s to the CD. Do that from the Burn menu by enabling Apply volume level across tracks on the CD. Normalization doesn’t work in WMP when you’re ripping MP3s from a CD to disk. Unfathomable, I know, but it’s Microsoft’s party. So use FairStars CD Ripper to do the job. The freebie does its job, normalizes the cuts, and handles plenty of file formats, including WAV, MP3, WMA, and more obscure ones, such as APE and VQF.

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Bill Gates Sees Project Natal in Windows’ Future

xboxnatalMicrosoft tricked us by revealing its 3D motion-sensing camera at E3. At the game industry’s biggest trade show, we all assumed Project Natal would be a console peripheral for gaming, but Bill Gates says the camera will have other uses in Windows.

As part of a lengthy interview with CNet, the Microsoft chairman said Project Natal is not just for games, “but for media consumption as a whole, and even if they connect it up to Windows PCs for interacting in terms of meetings, and collaboration, and communication.”

Gates stayed pretty vague when describing how Natal might be used away from the Xbox 360. He noted that motion control could come in handy when managing movies, music and “home system type stuff.” He also said “there’s incredible value as we use [Natal] in the office connected to a Windows PC,” but the rest is left to imagination.

It’s easy to see some common ground with the Xbox 360 and Windows PCs. The obvious use is gaming, but one of the things shown during Natal’s E3 demonstration was motion-controlled menus. Instead of using a joystick or remote control, the demonstrator moved through the Xbox 360 dashboard by flicking his hand in the air. That functionality might be useful for PC entertainment hubs, so maybe Natal will be integrated with Windows Media Center.

Beyond that, I’m at a loss for ideas. The key to Natal is that it senses three axes instead of two, but what office uses or collaborations would take advantage of that? Are we looking at a reinvention of the wheel, or just tacky gimmicks? Natal is an exciting prospect for gaming and entertainment, but I fail to see how it’ll work as an office tool. It could fail miserably in that regard if it doesn’t change everything.


How Bright Do You Keep Your Notebook Screen?

(Here’s another guest post by Pat Moorhead, Vice President of Advanced Marketing at AMD. Pat’s postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies, or opinions. You can find Pat at Twitter as @PatrickMoorhead.)

The current defacto standard used by PC makers to measure notebook battery life is MobileMark 2007 (MMO7). This piece takes a look at the basic facts behind the notebook brightness settings recommended by MM07, comparing that to some typical home electronics devices and the average settings some consumers are using for their notebook displays.

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Russia Mounts Antitrust Charges Against Microsoft

Russia’s state anti-monopoly service today launched an investigation of Microsoft for phasing out its Windows XP operating system. The agency’s complaint centers on Microsoft’s decision to discontinue selling Windows XP after this month while demand for the operating system continues from retailers and the Russian government. It will consider charges against Microsoft on July 24.

Microsoft told Reuters that it would cooperate with the Russian government. Meanwhile, the company is appealing the European Commission’s (EC) preliminary findings concerning its middleware bundling practices for Windows. The charges were levied by browser maker Opera Software.

The EC initially fined Microsoft €497 million ($613 million) in 2004 for abusing its dominant market position, followed by an additional €280.5 million ($357 million) in July 2006 for charging “unreasonable prices” to software developers for access to information about Windows client and server protocols. The cumulative fines amount to nearly $2.3 billion.

Microsoft has made strides towards interoperability and openness since the EC penalized it. The company is now sharing information about the inner-workings of its products that it it once fought tooth and nail to hold as trade secrets. A specific problem was remedied.

I’m not an expert in the Russian customs code; it could have a legitimate bone to pick with Microsoft. It just seems silly to base an antitrust investigation on normal business behavior. Windows XP is not the first operating system that Microsoft has phased out, and it will continued to support compatibility for Windows XP applications in Windows 7.

Windows XP’s product life cycle and support policies are also public. Microsoft’s Moscow office would certainly have informed its customers about its transition to Windows Vista and beyond. I’m not certain what the Russian government is harping about–it has had ample time to plan for XP’s obsolescence.

I recently spoke with someone that was commissioned by the Canadian government to assess the viability of mainframes over the next decade. The Canadian government estimated that it would take nearly a decade for it to replace critical mainframe applications, and was performing due diligence to determine whether it needed to get started. It’s keeping its mainframe systems.

In the same vein, Russia should have known that there was risk when it purchased Windows XP in the first place, or negotiated terms to receive extended product support from Microsoft. When taken at face value, these antitrust charges are bogus.


Windows 7: Coming to a PC Near You on October 22nd

Windows 7 LogoBack on May 11th, Microsoft confirmed what was already pretty obvious: Windows 7 would ship for the 2009 holiday season. Today, it got specific and said that the OS would show up on new PCs and in retail upgrade boxes on October 22nd. That’s a little later than some predictions–just yesterday I was telling someone that I thought it would arrive in time for the full back-to-school season–but it’s cheery news for a PC industry that’s presumably already worrying about the holiday sales period and looking for incentives it can give consumers to buy, buy, buy.

It’s also a positive development for consumers, since there’s plenty of evidence that a Windows 7 machine will be more pleasing than the same hardware loaded with Windows Vista (or for that matter, Windows XP).

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Why I Dumped Windows System Restore for ERUNT

Steve Bass's TechBiteI gave up on Windows System Restore. Yep, I turned the feature off and replaced it with a freebie I like better.

System Restore is a recovery tool built into Windows that backs up and restores the Registry. System Restore takes a snapshot of your computer — called a restore point — once a day, as well as before you perform certain tasks, such as installing a new program. If all goes well, you can use a restore point later on to bring your PC back to the state it was in when the snapshot was taken. But remember, we’re talking about computers.

Sometimes System Restore doesn’t work. You click a restore point and Windows has a hearty, gleeful laugh. The problem is that each restore point is linked to previous points; if one is corrupt or missing, you’re out of luck: System Restore won’t work. (Learn more about the ins and outs of System Restore in Bert Kinney’s smart and thorough FAQ.)

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