Windows Phone 8 Update 3, what’s in there?

wp_ss_20140125_0005I’m not sure how long update 3 has been out, I just got it myself.  So, what’s in the update? Well, nothing earthshattering, but a few small but useful enhancements and bug fixes.

Perhaps the best enhancement is with the task manager. In the past, if you held down the back button, you saw a webOS like screen that contained thumbnail images of the running tasks. You could swipe left and right through them and tap one to open it up. The thing you could not do, however, was close them from this screen. Now, you can. Start task manager by holding down the back button. Swipe left or right to get to the task you wish to kill. A little ‘x’ in a circle will appear. Tap it and the app goes away.

Internet sharing or tethering, as it is also known, has been enabled in the operating system. Your carrier, however, must support it on your device.

Memory management has been enhanced. New categories have been added and you can more easily clear out temporary files and manage your device’s memory. Go here to see what you can do both from the device and your computer via the Windows Phone app.

Here’s a list of the changes:

· Accessibility. Several improvements for customers who are visually impaired.

· Storage. Easily free up storage space on your phone and manage temporary files. New categories show what’s taking up space.

· Driving Mode. Driving Mode allows you to minimize incoming calls and text messages to help you focus on the road.

· Screen. Lock your screen orientation so it doesn’t shift when you move your phone around.

· Wi-Fi. Connect to Wi-Fi during set up.

· Internet sharing. use your phone’s cellular data connection from your Microsoft Windows 8.1 device

· Bluetooth. Several fixes were made to address known issues, and improvements were made to connection quality for Bluetooth accessories.

· Ringtones. Assign ringtones for text messages, instant messages, emails, voicemail, and reminders.

· App switcher. Use the App switcher to quickly close apps when you’re finished with them.

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Windows 8.1 Update, it will be here soon

win8startctober 18, 2013…that’s the day Microsoft releases Windows 8.1, it’s fantastic update to the belittled Windows 8 release of a year ago.  If you are still running plain WIndows 8, you really have nothing to do other than just install the update. It will take care of that for you. IF, however, you are like me and like living dangerously, you have installed the ‘PREVIEW’ edition of 8.1.  And, well, you will have a  problem going to the official release.  ALL of your currently installed DESKTOP applications will have to be re-installed.  Your Windows Store Apps, while needing to be redownloaded in some cases, should weather the storm a bit better. Some of those apps, like Calendar and Mail, will have to be redownloaded since they are receiving major updates as well. We did not see all of them or all of the changes to them in the preview. Mail gets the biggest change as it was just junk anyway. However, more inoccuous apps like Music will also be updated, but not as drastically as Mail.

Be sure you make a backup of your system prior to the upgrade.  At the very least, you should:

  • gather all of your Desktop install media (if it had it) and any licensing info (like keys)
  • backup your photos, documents, source code (if you develop), art/graphics and any other filetypes you deem important
  • MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR WINDOWS 8 KEY. This is very important.
  • All the patience you can muster.

It might be best to wait a day or two to download as their servers will be hit hard. This update fixes many things, enhances a few things and takes a couple small step backward, but I think it is a worthwhile updata and there will be quite a few who will want it as well.

I’d set aside a couple of hours, at least, to do the upgrade.

Remember, October 18 is the day.

Windows 8: it isn’t bad and it is not difficult to use

win8startMicrosoft is readying an upgrade to Windows 8 (surprisingly called Windows 8.1) which should address some issues with the operating system as well as add new features.  Microsoft is hoping the changes will help the operating system, which the tech press is now panning after heaping praise on the OS.  Among the improvements: ‘metro’ updates to more of the system settings, less dependencies on the antique desktop mode (they should ditch that now.)

Now, noted CNet/ZDNet columnist Mary Jo Foley is saying that ‘sources’ are now saying that there will be options to boot to the antique desktop and add the now useless Start Orb back (this, after Microsoft claimed to have removed the plumbing for it…riiiight.)  While I am all for the ‘metro’ additions, I can’t say I support the option to boot to the let-it-go-already desktop.  Seriously. The old Windows dressings need to go and go now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying ditch Win32 all together, but there is zero reason to leave the desktop intact.  None. It is holding back the operating system. Seriously holding it back. As long as it is there, people, who do not want to change, will continue to use.

Mary Jo herself proclaims this line reasoning as the number one reason Microsoft defaults boot to the Start Page. She is right.

The biggest gripe I see and hear is that Metro is difficult on non-touch devices. I use it on two desktops with decidedly non-touch interfaces and have no problems getting around. In fact, I find it just as easy, if not a bit more so, than with touch. The other criticism is discoverability.  Well, if that is the case, then every touch device currently out suffers from this very same issue.  Did you know that the iPad uses gestures?  Can you name them? Do you use them? My guess would be no. Most people just swipe and tap.  That is it. Well, guess what? It is the same for Windows 8 RT. With or with out touch, it is the same.

I think part of the problem is the name. “Windows” really does not suit it, but it is still Windows underneath.  And Windows has the recognition (good or bad.) Windows RT denotes the non-Win32 stuff, but still is confusing. Microsoft would have been better off naming that something completely different and explain that “Windows” is compatible with what ever that is.  Say, WinTab RT.  That would be a lot less confusing.

At any rate, the grumbling about using a mouse and keyboard with RT is silly. It is no less useful than that damned old desktop.  And, lets be honest, not every facet of the desktop is obvious. You have to right click to do certain things. That is NOT intuitive at all. We do it because we know or someone told us.  Well, same thing can happen for RT.

My point is that people seem resistant to Windows 8 solely because it is different. Not for silly reasons like ‘it isn’t very discoverable.’ Its funny that my five year old stepson can pick up the mouse and use Windows 8 like it is second nature. I did not show him how. He figured it out. In just a few minutes.  If a five year old can do this, certainly adults can.

Look for Windows 8.1 preview to be available sometime in June.