Old Windows is new again

Feeling like a bit of Windows Nostalgia?

Take a trip down memory lane by trying some of these emulators to remind you of the good times of what Windows was...

What Windows 10 means for you

On Wednesday 21st Microsoft took the wraps off the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview known as the Consumer Preview. Microsoft described Windows 10 as "the first step to an era of more personal computing" that would allow your apps, services and content to move with you across devices, seamlessly and easily.  The webinar showed the future Microsoft envisions where the same operating system can seamlessly work across all our devices.

So what does this really mean for you? I have pulled apart the key features in the latest preview to break it down for you.

What Windows 10 shows is that Microsoft is listening and this is apparent in the changes they have introduced.  The first and most important note is that they want you to have it and fast. This means that Windows 10 will be free for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to upgrade in the first year.

Read more: What Windows 10 means for you

Windows 8.1 is here

Finally Windows 8.1 is here. For those who found Windows 8 too confusing and too much of a transition from Windows XP or Windows 7, this update finally brings back the Start button and also adds a few forward planning features. This includes better integration with cloud search and storage.

This is a definite must have for all Windows 8 users. 

Get Windows 8.1 from the Windows Store.

Kindle Fire HDX will set the tablet industry on fire

Amazon Kindle readers have traditionally been focused on being great e-book readers but not necessarily top notch tablets.

With the Kindle Fire HDX it appears this is going to change. Amazon are not interested in making money from these tablets but from getting you to use their services. Just like the console wars between the Playstation and Xbox this means that you are getting fantastic hardware at a bargain basement price (or actually at their loss) as they are keener to see you using their hardware than making profits.

Finally for under $300 you can get a 7" tablet with 1920x1200 pixel display with resolution of 323 PPI and perfect color accuracy. If you want to upgrade to the 8.9" then you get a 2560x1600 pixel (339 PPI) display. These devices put the Apple Retina display to shame! Add to that a 2.2GHz Quad Core Processor with 2GB RAM and on the 8.9" model an 8MP rear facing camera which can record 1080p video and a 720p HD front facing camera. The list goes on with custom Dolby Audio, 10 hours of in use battery life, up to 18 hours of standby battery life and available with 16, 32 or 64GB storage. Bundle this with Live on-device tech support from Amazon and these devices are unbeatable.

If you are looking for an Android device, comparable, if not better than an iPad or iPad Mini then the Kindle Fire HDX is the one to choose. At this price this might be the game changer for the tablet industry that we have been waiting for.

Android 4.3 Jelly Bean Release

Android 4.3 Jelly Bean has now been released and has already been pushed to Nexus devices this week.

My Nexus 7 received the latest update on Wednesday 31st and the update was seamless and straight forward.

While not a major feature enhancement from 4.2, the latest update of Jelly Bean provides a large number of stability and background improvements that enhance the usability of the device. 

This includes a better camera, surround sound for Google Play Movies, improved keyboard and predictive dialpad, wifi location detection and graphics enhancements.

The biggest feature enhancement is Restricted Profiles allowing me to setup a much more simplified and secure profile for my son. 

Read the full feature list here: http://www.android.com/about/jelly-bean/

The end of TechNet

Microsoft has decided it is time to terminate TechNet. 

This is a sad day for developers and system engineers. Over the years I have found TechNet and it's subscriber downloads an invaluable resource for software development, testing and training and I will miss it greatly. Yes, I can still access 30-180 day free trials or sign up to MSDN at a significantly higher cost but I have been using some of my testing virtual machines for many years to support some of my older products and this will hamper my ability to rapidly test and release new versions of these programs without up to date preconfigured environments.

Microsoft is correct that the environment is changing and free trials or previews are more common and more available but this will greatly impact the individual IT professionals who rely on TechNet and it's services to educate, inform and implement new Microsoft systems. 

See the full release - click

Read more: The end of TechNet

Windows 8.1 is coming

What is Windows 8.1?

Windows 8.1 is the next service pack for Windows 8.

 The good things to come are:

  • Start Button
  • Single SkyDrive app (for Start Screen and Desktop)
  • More resize options for live tiles on the start screen
  • Customisation of the lock screen
  • Run more than two applications side by side on a screen
  • Improved visual search and web integration for search
  • New onscreen keyboard
  • Reading List, a read it later type application
  • new Calculator application

It seems underwhelming when you read that list but I definitely think these changes are going to make a great difference making the Metro side of Windows more mobile/android like and providing desktop users with some of the features they feel they have been missing.

I still don't like the fact there are some applications that don't seamlessly work between the desktop and the apps sections of windows. Internet Explorer 11 is a good example. Many users may not realise there are two separate versions of IE installed on Windows 8, one for the start menu and one for the desktop. Even Chrome has an option to allow it to switch between the two, why can't Windows 8? I still find a real separation in usability between the apps and the desktop when using Windows 8. It is also concerning that not all apps may work on the Windows 8.1 update. Hopefully this is resolved before release as I can see this frustrating users.

Technet and MSDN subscribers can try out the Windows 8.1 preview now and the full edition should be available for everyone in the 3rd quarter of 2013.

Windows 2008 R2 WMI Service memory leak

If you use any applications that constantly query the WMI Win32_Services class on a Windows 2008 R2 server then you may have noticed a memory leak where the memory usage of the Wmiprvse.exe service keeps increasing and system performance decreases until all resources are exhausted. This can then impact other critical applications and services.

This is a known issue and Microsoft has released a kb article (981314) and a hotfix for this issue.

If you think you might be affected find out more here.

Barley is the new web designer

Is your small business website looking tired?

A new web editor called Barley is hoping to change that.

Barley is designed to be the absolute simplest way to build and update websites. Barley will host your site, you specify the template, then updating your site is as easy as using Microsoft Office. Simply click where you want and change what you want directly in your browser.

Most new websites are based on Content Management Systems such as WordPress and Joomla which are very powerful but also require a web designer skilled in HTML and CSS. Barley thinks that should change and that anyone should be able to create a website, so no business has an excuse not to be online.

Pricing is based from $18/month and you can find out more here.

Apple releases iPhone 5

iPhone 5Apple has today released the iPhone 5.

Find out more here: http://www.apple.com/iphone/

The iPhone 5 runs the latest Apple operating system, iOS 6, which has in recent days been rolled out to owners of 3G, 4 and 4S iPhones and iPads.

So what's new? Well the iPhone 5 is thinner and taller than the previous iPhone and has a different connector at the bottom to previous iPhones. The headphone socket is also now located at the bottom. That's about it, the rest of the features are part of iOS 6 although some won't work with earlier phones.

Known issues? So far we have heard of some iPhone users reporting of wireless problems in iOS 6 and the biggest complaint from users is the Maps application. Apple has decided to split from Google and build it's own maps application. What they have achieved in a short time is admirable but falls far short of the slick capabilities of Google Maps we have come to expect. As a result it tarnishes the potential of this device. I have had colleagues report of attempting to navigate in local suburbs in Australia of being directed to locations in the United States which were impossible to reach. One US city is shown as being a major hospital. Searching for various items such as hospital, gardens or emergency room produces varied results and nowhere near as many as using Google. Apparently Madison Square Gardens is a garden. Other cities have been reported as being underwater. To add the icing on the cake, Public transport is missing. Apple is working with third party app developers to integrate public transport capability into Apple Maps. Google on the other hand has already incorporated public transport of many cities, including Sydney, into it's search which is then used by the transport system's own apps. While Google has built it all, now Apple wants others to build it for them. Google has advised it is not yet developing a replacement app so if you desperately need to find your way around open your web browser to maps.google.com and you can still get the Google goodness, while Apple play catch up in the map making game.