iPhone 4: they finally arrived and they aren’t bad

iphone4When last we met, I had ordered two iPhone 4’s for my wife and son. The phones arrived a day after ordering them, thank you Sprint.  Turns out the online ordering and delivery was a decent experience. Activating them, however, not so much. 

Following the directions on the web site, I carefully key in the IMEI numbers. One worked, the other did not. The one that ‘worked’ did not fully activate. I had to call Sprint for both phones.  Let me tell you, I DO NOT LIKE those damned automated answering systems these companies insist on using.

Fortunately, I got right through to a very nice young lady who helped me out fairly quickly. She not only got the phones activated, she also checked to see if the Windows 8 phones were on the horizon for Sprint. She found nothing, which is about what I expected.  At any rate, she was very polite, very friendly and, more importantly, very helpful.  Sprint seems to be stepping up their game in the customer service arena.

Once the phones were activated and working, I wanted to upgrade iOS. Other than just taking a lot of time, that went pretty easily.  I upgraded my son’s phone first and then my wife’s. While upgrading hers, I put my son’s music and iPod Touch apps on his iPhone. That was pretty easy and the only thing he lost was a song I bought for him a few months ago. Not sure why the track would not transfer. We got the apps and music transferred that he wanted and he is happy with his new phone.

My wife’s phone was easy to set up and, considering she had a Blackberry flip phone (it was a smartphone, but it was junk) she has stepped up considerably in the smartphone world.  I had to update iTunes on her laptop just so it would even recognize the phone (upgraded to iOS 6.)

So far, I am impressed with the iPhone. While Apple’s claim of ‘it just works’ is far from the truth, the simple fact is that iOS is superior to Android, the quality of the iPhone 4 is way better than that Samsung Intercept or HTC EVO Shift of mine (the Intercept was my son’s old phone.)  And, from what I have seen and heard today, I may be getting an iPhone 4 for myself. I want the Windows Phone 8, but it looks like Sprint is holding out on the phones.  Not happy about that, but I am not switching carriers for a phone.

While getting the phone proved to be an adventure (see my previous post) and activating was not perfect, this has turned out to be an not too bad experience and the phone is fairly impressive. And, best of all, both my son and my wife love the phone and, really, that is all that matters.

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Windows 8: Microsoft’s best yet?

I’ve been using Windows 8 for months now, first with the developer’s preview (admittedly, did not use this much) then with the consumer preview and, now, the release preview. With each release, the operating system became more and more usable as well as nicer to look at and experience.

While the removal of some of the stalwarts of Windows does nag me a bit, I cannot say that I will entirely miss them. Except for Aero, which I will miss, I don’t think I’ll miss anything.  Aero, however, I will. I love the way Aero looks in the Release Preview. I also like the flattened look, so I am a bit divided, but I do like the live window previews and all of the other Aero bits. I’m hoping that Microsoft will only do away with the Aero Glass…while I do like that, I could live without it.

I won’t, however, miss the Start button. I have been waffling back and forth on this, but, finally, decided that, no, in fact, I won’t miss it. Why? because the Start screen has what I need. The hot corners and the right click will give me most, if not all, of the Start button functionality.  The neutering of the desktop is just fine with me.

Why?

Metro.

Metro is gorgeous, as far an operating system is concerned.  The clean typography, full screen layouts, loss of the ‘chrome’, the gentle colors all add up to a very pleasant and easy to use OS. I hope developers fall in line and develop Metro apps that live up to the potential of Metro.

Metro, in many ways, is a step back in time to Windows 1.1. Windows 1.1, for those of you who do not know or remember, did not have overlapping windows. It presented them in a quadrant like display or, if only two apps were open, half and half.  It was also flat. There were no shadows or three-dee like buttons. Typography, however, was not its strong suit.  Machine requirements, as well, have not increased with Windows over your average Windows Vista computer. Hell, even some XP class machine will run Windows 8.  Windows 1.1 had rather modest requirements as well: CGA (remember that?) graphics, 256k RAM, Floppy disk. Mouse. That was it.

So, with Microsoft recent announcements, Windows 8 is poised to become the must have upgrade. It will be at the heart of Microsoft’s mobile strategy with Windows Phone 8, the Surface Tablets and who knows what else. Metro will be on those as well as the XBOX and, presumably, its successor.  So, what will this cost for existing computers? Well, no a whole lot. $40. And, the best part? You can upgrade from all the way back to Windows XP, if your computer will support it, that is. My guess is it will if that computer is five years old or newer. And, if upgrading from Windows 7 or the Windows 8 Release Preview, your programs and settings will remain intact.

I am also quite pleased with the compatibility as well. So far, I’ve not run into any application that won’t run. Some are not as smooth, but they do run. As a rule, if it runs under Windows 7, it will run under Windows 8. I am sure there are exceptions, but I have not run into them.

Microsoft is still being dodgy about a release date, but all evidence points to an October release. I can’t wait.  I thought Windows 7 was Microsoft’s best, but, that might just be Windows 8 instead.

Microsoft’s big week…phones and lawsuits

It’s been a pretty good week, PR wise, for the company that calls Redmond, Washington it’s home. Indeed, it has. First, Microsoft showed off its own tablet family, based on Windows 8, then they show off Windows Phone 8 at the Windows Phone Summit and Motorola offers a settlement in its on going legal battles with Microsoft.

We’ve already discussed the Surface tablet, here, so I won’t rehash that.

I would like to talk, briefly, though, about that legal issue and then the phone.

Motorola is suing Microsoft over critical parts of the H264 video codec.  The patents in question are a fundamental part of H264 and Moto had agreed, early on, with the standards body that they would license the patents in a fair and equitable manner.  Well, Microsoft brought about a suit against Moto regarding syncing technology used in the companies Android products. This upset Moto who then sued over the H264 stuff. They wanted an injunction against the XBOX 360 and other relief. Congress critters along with companies like Apple wrote the ITC on behalf of Microsoft, imploring them NOT to ban imports of the console. Yes, Apple was aiding Microsoft here, as they have products that use H264 as well.  Fast forward to now, and Moto wants to settle and not have their products held up either. They have offered 33 cents per Android device to Microsoft and cut what they wanted from Microsoft to fifty cents (down from 2.24 percent of revenue per device family.) No one expects Microsoft to accept this, but it is a step forward and only adds to Microsoft’s perceived ‘wins’ for the week.

Microsoft unveiled the next version of its smartphone operating system, Windows Phone 8.  The new version shares much of its underpinnings with its desktop overlords.  So much so that there is a ‘shared core’ and many apps can be ported to Win phone 8 with only ‘minor’ changes. Visually, what they showed was similar to Win Phone 7.5 except for the home screen. The tiles are customizable now.

Other features highlighted include NFC which allows for wireless sharing of data, files, credit card information and more.

The OS supports more screen resolutions now and better processors. It is a pretty decent step forward.

Microsoft did confirm that existing phones will NOT get an upgrade to the new OS. Instead, they get a point release update that gives them some, but not all of the new features.

I’m glad I have waited, I knew there was a reason.