Posts Tagged ‘Windows’

On and off, I’ve dabbled into the Technical Previews prior to the official release of Windows 10 on July 29. I even installed the TP on my Transformer in the early months of the program but the build available back then was too unstable for the hybrid to be usable that I had to reinstall Windows 8.1. I confined TP testing to a virtual machine, but have not been using it much since then.

On Wednesday, I stayed up late to install the release build on the Transformer. I was actually eager to install Windows 10 on my Satellite as Internet Explorer has suddenly inexplicably started crashing Windows when I launch it. No logs, no nothing to work with.

Installation of Windows 10 on my Transformer took more than two hours – even with a fully downloaded ISO.

I had hoped it would not be the case, but Windows 10 still has the feel of an unfinished beta. Bugs abound.

The Start Menu, while a nice comeback, may take a little getting used to. I find it annoying that if you are in “All Apps” view, you won’t be able to type in and search for a program. Rendering bugs still afflict the menu, with tiles displaying in random disarray. Closing and launching the Start Menu usually resolves the layout issue, but that’s still a bad user experience. Even the notification area acted weird on me last night, showing a blank transparent square area at the bottom while the quick-access buttons that are usually found there are MIA. I had to log-out and back in for that to sort itself out.

On the apps front, the Store app has improved. I like the Music and Movies+TV sections. At least they show up and it looks like I can actually buy content this time. If this is because of the unbundling of the XBox brand – and thus, the need for the Xbox account – then I fully support the removal of the XBox branding.

Groove (the music player) is… new. But it looks to be better than the old music app. I haven’t used Movies & TV app much yet, but at least on the store, I was able to ‘buy’ a free episode of a TV Series, giving me hope that Microsoft will indeed enable buying content without the “your region is not supported” downer.

Twitter revamped its app, but it still is a subpar version compared to its offerings on other platforms, with a lot of features missing. Its design is a head-scratcher, wasting a lot of space, without good reason. You’re better off using TweetDeck.

At least the “Metro” modern apps appear to launch and open with less hassle now. Most are actually usable almost instantly.

With all that said, I think I’ll wait before updating my main laptop. I will just have to avoid using IE on my Satellite for now.

Does this mean it’s going to be an animated wallpaper?

 

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(Image swiped from www.geekwire.com)

Microsoft had plenty to announce this week – Windows 10, Windows 10 for phone, Project Spartan, and the pleasantly surprising HoloLens. It’s an exciting time for all Windows users.

But those are aimed for the future. What’s the plan for today? After all, despite hanging on to a huge chunk in the desktop stage, the landscape is admittedly becoming more focused on mobile. Despite a good offering, Microsoft hasn’t managed to break through significantly in the mobile space.

The leading problem that Microsoft has to overcome before it could gain any ground is itself. Microsoft is Microsoft’s biggest problem. Its reputation has been so tarnished by its past mistakes and questionable behavior that it completely undermines the good that it does today. Mention Microsoft to almost anyone and the best reaction you can get is indifference.

Compound that with the company’s inability to market itself and its technology, and you find yourself a company that is inching ever further on consumers’ minds and wallets.

Microsoft seems to have solid products on the pipeline, but it needs immediate actions to repair the blemishes that mire its consumer face lest those technologies suffer the same fate as Windows 8.1.

And that would be a crying shame.

There are now oodles of games on the Windows Store, meant for the Metro interface. Generally, the games are pretty at par with those released on other platforms when it comes to quality. But for games bearing the XBox mark, I find it increasingly difficult to justify even launching them. Upon launch, the game will try to sign in to the XBox service, and this process can take several minutes even on broadband. Add the loading time for the app itself and it becomes problematic, but it gets worse, because most of these games won’t let you play along until you’re signed in. Way to kill the urge to pop up a quick game for a quick fix.

I’ve had RE5, RE6, RE:Revelations and a bunch of other games I bought through Steam for a while, and have been happily killing off the mutated and the undead every chance I get.

This weekend, though, RE6 wouldn’t start. It would just show a blank screen where there used to be the loading cues. It would stay like that for a while, unresponsive except for the ALT+CTRL+Delete salute. I’ve been able to launch Task Manager this way and found the RE6 process eating up all available CPU, which explains the unresponsiveness.

The Issue:

My laptop comes with two display adapters – the built in HD4000 and a secondary discrete card NVIDIA GeForce GT 740m. On Device Manager, I saw that there’s a yellow exclamation icon plastered on the 740m. Uh oh, trouble. Opening the device’s properties, Windows offered this explanation:

Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems. (Code 43)

Some useful information regarding this error can be found here.

The Solution:

In my case, the fix was straightforward.

  1. Right-click the device on Device Manager, select Uninstall. Select not to remove the driver if prompted.
  2. Click Scan for hardware changes. Wait until the device is recognized and Windows reconfigures the drivers. It should take a couple of minutes and a few screen flickers but no reboot necessary.

That took care of it. Easy peasy.

Update: 2014.05.24 It looks like a culprit to the volume-lowering behavior is none other than Steam. Woke up this morning to this:

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There I was enjoying some alone time watching videos on my Satellite S40t, when suddenly the volume gets knocked down for no apparent reason.

I never had this issue, or at least never noticed it before since I tend to just use earphones whenever I want to watch something. Lately, I’ve been viewing the movies with the ear sets unplugged and listening to the sound directly out of the laptop speakers (Satellite S40t audio is phenomenal, btw).

That’s when I started noticing it. Randomly, the audio would diminish. Still audible, but it’s really annoying and a tad bothersome. I suspected bad drivers, hardware problems, even VLC itself.

The culprit? A seemingly innocuous little setting nestled deep in the audio settings that Windows (using 8.1 here) helpfully enables by default. Fastest way to access the setting is to right-click the speaker icon on the Notification Area, select Sounds and then click the Communications tab. By default, this is set to Reduce the volume of other sounds by 80%.

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I don’t know what triggers it but Windows seem to think that there is some communication activity going on at random points and decides to swoop in and adjust the sound of my video playback. Setting it to “Do nothing” does the trick.

The Windows world was set abuzz with the recent reveals at Microsoft’s Build conference just this week. Updates to Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Phone were shown off. And honestly, they both impress.

Windows 8.1 Update

The update to Windows 8.1 is now available via MSDN to developers, and on April 8th, it will be released to the general public. I know I’m excited, with two – nay, three – machines already running Windows 8.1 ready for the new bits. This latest update focuses on Desktop users, with consideration for making life easier on those who use the mouse and keyboard as opposed to touch-first interfaces of tablets.

Windows 8 saw polarized acceptance when it was released. It’s dual-personality confused and angered a lot of users, bloggers and the Technorati. Personally, despite not finding much use or purpose for the interface formerly known as Metro, I enjoyed the OS from the start. I was part of the public beta after all.

I wasn’t bothered at all with the lack of a start button. I never felt the jarring feeling a lot of folks complained about, having to drop in and out of the modern interface to run desktop applications. Frankly, though, I find the metro apps lacking. Not a lot of developers were on board at the start and those who were seemed to not give too much effort with their app offerings. The result is a rather less-than-satisfying experience compared to already established platforms, such as the ones found in iOS. Modern apps are slow, particularly those needing internet connectivity, and a lot are not as feature-rich as their counterparts on other platforms. For a long while, there weren’t even official apps for the major services common today.

But the desktop experience – what an improvement! I do miss the aero interface at times. The 8.1 update was a welcome improvement. It added a start button to appease the critics, but it’s no Start Menu. By now, people should realize that it’s not coming back. Or is it?

Windows8.1Update

Above screenshot is what we can expect of the update to Windows 8.1 – and more. Universal apps – cross-platform apps that work on phone, computers and yes, even the XBox One –, windowed modern apps, taskbar on both desktop and modern interface for mouse/keyboard users, and, your eyes don’t deceive you, the return of the Start Menu.

Update: Wndows 8.1 Update is now live. No windowed modern apps. No Start Menu. Looks like they’re gonna be part of another update to the Windows 8.1 Update or even Windows 9. 

There is another update announced that will come to Windows 8.1, but no new information on when and what it will contain as of now.

Windows Phone 8.1

The only reason I haven’t bought a Lumia Phone is because I cant justify Nokia’s decision to not include a card slot on their high-end phones. I wanted the 920 or 925 but crippling the storage front turned me away. I do have the Lumia 520, the cheapest Windows Phone available, from my company. And surprise, it has microSD support!

After seeing the features lined-up for Windows Phone 8.1 though, I’m contemplating getting the 32GB version of either 920/925 again. Or perhaps go with their phablets, since both the 1320 and 1520 have microSD support. The just-announced 930 looks absolutely incredible, but a) it’s not available ‘til June, and then only in Europe and b) even if it is, it will really be expensive. I can get the 920 legitimately today for about Php14,000 (~$310).

The live tiles on WP are a nice touch, but the toast notification is seriously not enough. If you missed a toast, then there’s no way to check what it was about unless you scan your apps’ tiles for updates. A central notification area where all notifications can be glimpsed upon would really simplify matters. Thankfully, this is coming, along with access to quick settings like Bluetooth, Wi-fi and Airplane Modes. All customizable of course.

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Another great feature to look forward to is the Word Flow keyboard. I suck at these touchscreen phones because of my stubby hands.

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Then we have the new ability to set a background image for tiles. Just wonderful, it can’t get any more personal than that! The update will also allow for up to three columns of medium-sized tiles.

Tiles

The new OS debuts Cortana, a digital assistant similar to Apple’s Siri, but does a lot more. Although, it will be available for US-based users upon launch only. Microsoft is also making it clear that they’re releasing Cortana as a beta.

Of course, there’s a lot more features coming our way. Look here and here for a definitive list.

The world’s most personal smartphone sounds right!