July 26, 2010

Windows® 8 Roadmap Revealed

Windows® 8 Roadmap Revealed

By Ryan Morse- July 25, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, an Italian Windows® site, Windowsette, released some presentation slides that revealed Microsoft’s plans for the next version of Windows®. I generally ignore announcements such as these as they tend to turn out to be fakes, but these seem to be the real deal. With that being the case, I feel they’re worthy of a look. It’s never too soon to get excited about what could be in store for the future of Windows®.

There is a lot of information contained in these slides, so I’m going to highlight the things I found most intriguing.

The planned release for Windows® 8 in these slides is 2012, but I don’t expect that date to be a concrete one. It’s still very early in the development cycle and many of the things outlined in the slides might not make the final cut, so don’t expect them all to be concrete either. If fact, when these slides were created, they were still in the Planning phase, which comes before the Development phase. Some slides include disclaimers noting that this is only discussion and not an actual plan of record.

The PCs of the Future

Among the slides was Microsoft’s plans for three main form factor categories; slate, laptop, and all-in-one. They included a mock up of what a Windows® 8 all-in-one machine will be as well as a brief outline of the specifications. It’s a good thing it’s only a mock up and they’re still in the Planning stage, too, because the mock up looks like a bloated iMac. The all-in-one’s specifications call for things you’d see in many modern desktop PCs, but with a few notable exceptions. The items most of you will recognize include things that are present in many notebook systems already; a DirectX-compatible GPU, a webcam, integrated microphone and speakers, wireless LAN and Bluetooth, and of course, a keyboard and mouse. The slides claim that webcams integrated in PCs will ubiquitous by 2012. The notable exceptions include a 17 to 30-inch touchscreen display and an infrared proximity sensor. The touchscreen display isn’t so surprising as Windows® 7 has paved the way for it with multi-touch support, but the proximity sensor definitely is.

Another slide discusses how this will be used in tandem with an integrated webcam to recognize users’ faces and whether or not the user has left the machine. Connect the dots to another slide that discusses the realities of managing all your online user names and passwords, calling for simplification, and your face could be the only password you need. A good portion of the form factor presentation details what using a Windows® 8 slate will be like, viagra alternatives over the counter so you can assume Microsoft is still looking at tablet options to compete with the iPad and eBook reader markets.

Delicious Apps

Also among the slides is one that looks at what Apple does well and how Microsoft can duplicate their successes. They discuss simplicity and the user experience in many places. One of the ways they plan to implement this is by opening what they’ve named the Windows® Store. The Windows® Store will be basically what the Apple App Store is. As a consumer, you’ll have a one stop shop for Microsoft-approved software that, along with your settings, will follow you as you change PCs. I don’t know about you but that makes me drool a little bit. Developers will be encouraged to get their products into a store that every Windows® user will have. The application submission process aspires to be “transparent and predictable,” giving investors a little more certainty know that, if they follow whatever guidelines there may be, their products will make it to market. For me, the Windows® Store can’t happen soon enough as Windows® Marketplace is a far cry from what it could be.


Microsoft wants to make PCs easier to manage. They want you to understand your PC better and have the tools to fix yourself and they want to change the Windows® troubleshooting process from rebooting or reinstalling the OS to just making a few tweaks in the task manager to “restore performance.” Part of me is excited about this; I wish everyone fully understood their PCs. On the other hand, they’re trying to make me obsolete! Who is going to come calling with computer troubles anymore? What use will you have for me when you can just reset your Windows® machine back to factory settings while retaining all your data and settings?

Make It Faster!

Finally, it just wouldn’t be a new version of Windows® if they didn’t talk about faster boot times. Microsoft is aiming for “instant-on” and quick shutdowns. This is also tied to a section on being more energy efficient. This also can’t happen soon enough. Many people simply leave their computers on at all times because of slow boot times. Others simply must leave their systems on all the time for other reasons, and this two-prong approach will help to alleviate a lot of energy waste.

There is plenty more in the leaked presentation slides to discover and if you’re interested, have a look at the slides yourself.

Slides link: http://www.hotshare.net/file/269729-118718472d.html

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Tethering – Having Your Cell Phone Cake….and Eating It Too!

Tethering – Having Your Cell Phone
Cake….and Eating It Too!

By Bryan Lambert – July 18, 2010

For as long as cell phones have been around there has been the ability to tether them in some form to devices such as computers and PDAs. However, not until the advent of SmartPhones with their built-in Internet access and unlimited data plans, coupled with the ease of implementing tether software, has using the cell phone as a tether been so widely popular.

In this Tech Tip we are going to take a look at tethering in general, some tethering (and other) software available as well as some implications of using tethering.

The Basics

Tethering is, in its most basic sense, using your cell phone as a modem for your device in need of a wireless modem. Many phones today have the ability to be used as a wireless modem (most often for a notebook PC) using either a USB or BlueTooth connection. In fact, many wireless companies will include software of their own to enable the phone to be used as a tether.

Some Software Used

In addition to any software already provided, third party companies also offer tethering packages as well. Many see them as a better solution than the wireless companies tethering software. Those packages often can be purchased for a one time cost and use the data plan you may already have rather than including any extra per month charges or data limits seen with providers tethering packages.

A couple of the popular third party software packages that people may use are PDANet by June Fabrics (due to their having not only a wide variety of SmartPhone operating systems supports – but also a free version as well) and Tether (formerly TetherBerry) by 3235106 Nova Scotia Limited due to its wide BlackBerry, Wireless carrier and PC OS compatibility. These two are just examples of what may be out there in the third party tether community.

Another popular thing that can be done with some phones is turning them into WiFi viagra alternative HotSpots. With more and mode SmartPhones also including WiFi built in, more and more companies are building this into their tether programs (and in some cases, into the OS). Wireless companies may also offer this as part of their tether package (either built into the phone or as a separate add-on device). If this can’t be done with your phone, you may be able to do this on the PC side using a free program called Connectify.

The Downside

There are some downsides to tethering however. Doing it incorrectly can be disastrous (for example, using it incorrectly for the data plan you signed up for or or being out of network, (such as being on a cruise ship). Almost like clockwork, every year you see stories like the person in Canada who got hit with an $85,000 cell phone bill.

The first thing that you need to check into is what exactly IS allowed by your wireless provider with the plan you signed up for. Many wireless providers frown on using third party tether software to connect your phone to a laptop and it may in fact violate the terms of service. Many providers consider the “unlimited data” is JUST for data sent to the phone – not to any device that may be tethered to the phone.

Basically, wireless providers would like you to sign up for their tether plan – where they can not only charge you extra, but they can also better regulate the use of their network. Most wireless providers offer limited data for use in tethering out of fear of their networks getting swamped (some, like AT&T®, have even dropped their unlimited data plans on SmartPhones as well – with Verizon® saying that they may soon follow). Another downside is that on many networks, the speeds achieved are just not what people are used to who have broadband Internet at home or work.

To Put A Bow On It

As pointed out by others, just because a phone is capable of doing “something cool” doesn’t mean that doing that “cool something” may be worth doing. Face it, tethering your phone is cool. Being on the Internet anywhere there is a cell phone signal is cool.

So, if you do plan to jump on the tethered phone bandwagon just be sure to do your research and do it right – and be sure to have fun as you join the tethered generation!

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