Inside Windows 10

I can’t explain it.

I mean I just can’t explain it.

How is it that the folks at Microsoft can’t release two good Operating System versions in a row??

If you look at their track record over the past 20 years or so of new Windows releases, you can discern a pattern.

1995 – Windows 95 – Good
1998 – Windows 98 – So, so
2000 – Windows 2000 – Good
2000 – Windows ME – Disaster
2001 – Windows XP – Outstanding
2007 – Windows Vista – Disaster
2009 – Windows XP – Terrific
2012 – Windows 8 – (Another) Disaster

So, the law of averages would tell us that the release of Windows 9 would be a success, right? Hmmm! How much do we want to tempt fate?

Two things!

(1) The next release of Windows will not be called Windows 9. It will be called Windows 10. Why? Who knows, perhaps they are trying to break the hoodoo of the every other version curse (I mean, have you tried Windows 8? Ugh!).

(2) The next release of Windows, called Windows 10, looks like it will be a winner! I volunteered to be a beta tester and have been playing with the new release for several weeks, on and off.

My first impressions are favorable – they’ve gotten rid of the most annoying parts of Windows 8. The pop out sidebar is gone, so finding the Control Panel and Power switch is easier; the screen full of tiles is gone. Selecting the Windows button or Icon gives you a modified Start Menu; much of the old Start Menu has been restored with the addition of just a few tiles that the user can configure (size, location, and which tiles are shown).

Other, less obvious changes are meant to make some of your daily tasks easier, while binding you into the Windows infrastructure. The addition of a Search Icon on the taskbar is good, but it is tied to the Bing search engine (Windows own search tool) which opens in Internet Explorer (Windows own Browser).

The Evaluation Copy Build 9841 I’ve looked at is not the final release, but is smooth and polished. Despite loading the Windows 10 on a new hard drive, the system recognized my HP Elitebook 2540p and loaded all the drivers. All I had to do was start the machine and it all just worked!

We’ll have to wait and see what else Windows does with this release – will it add tabs to the File Explorer? Will it help battery life for laptops? How much will it cost? I don’t have any of those answers, but so far I’m a fan of Windows 10!

10 Things that never used to bother me

The Tech GERD must be getting older because there are things that bother him that never used to.  Patience is what I need, but until I get some, here is my list…

  1. Slow Internet – Remember when we used a dial up modem and that strangely wonderful squeal it would make when it connected?  Remember the blazing fast speeds we achieved back in those days when the internet was young and our patience long?  Now if it takes more than two seconds for a web page to open I’ll hit the big “X” and move on!  That being said, when in the rare case my internet slows down I find my anger and impatience rising.  When that happens, remember those early dial-up days.
  2. No Internet – This is the only thing worse than slow internet!  I travel from time to time and there are those rare times when I check into a Hotel and it has no Internet.  Only the Per Diem rate and sheer fatigue prevents me from immediately checking out and finding a Hotel from this planet.  Our society has become so used to the internet that we expect it everywhere – and just about have.  Airplanes, Starbucks, McDonalds, even hospitals and Doctor Offices have it.  The first time I attend a funeral and see a “Free Internet Available” sign on the door I’ll know things have officially gone too far.
  3. Red Lights – In my town it seems that the City Engineers have developed a strategy for me to hit every Red Light in town, no matter how close or far apart they are, and no matter what the traffic conditions are.  If the Police have a device to change the lights when they are on emergency runs (a great idea, by the way), why can’t they invent a “Smart” Red Light that can “See” traffic and “Talk” to the other Red Lights to help traffic flow instead of stopping 75 cars for a single car when they run over one of those activation strips under the road. Please?
  4. Commercials – I must admit, I rarely see commercials anymore (thank you DVR).  I know advertising pays for Network TV, but haven’t we progressed beyond this simplistic notion?  Someone give me a pay-for-channel menu and let me make my own choices.  It works pretty well everywhere it is used (Pay-for-view events, Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes).  I can buy almost any TV episode for $1.99 ($2.99 for HD) and it’s mine forever with no commercials.  Have you seen that Football games (just a few for now) are available on iTunes?  No commercials, just the entire game (i.e. Super Bowl XLII) for $2.99!  I like it!
  5. Network TV – See above.  Some of the worst ideas ever created by mankind are on display most any night on Network TV and reality shows are the worse. Other than sports, I watch one (count ‘em, one) network TV show.  You Keep up with the Kardashians, Duck Dynasty, have a Storage War and be Amish in the City.  Give me an old Carol Brunette or Magnum P.I. episode anytime. 
  6. USB 2 – Did I say I hate slow things?  USB 2 officially falls into that category.  With external hard drives reaching 3TB in size and with prices falling faster than a Meteorite in Russia, USB 3 just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Send USB 2 to the land of 8-track tapes, dot matrix printers, and floppy disks and speed up my life!
  7. Non-standard connectors – As a Tech GERD I have lots of electronic toys.  My specialty is Bluetooth headphones – I must have 8 or 10 different ones.  The ones that get used are not only the best; they are the ones with a standard power connector (Mini or Micro-USB).  I have one set of Bluetooth headphones I can never use again.  It has a unique connector (I hate unique when it comes to connectors) that I lost long ago, so it will never be charged again. I never buy a headphone or other like item until I’m satisfied it has a standard power connector.  
  8. Lack of Bluetooth – When the original Kindle fire came out, it did not have Bluetooth.  Something about saving money or some other poor excuse.  Did you notice that when the Kindle Fire HD came out it had Bluetooth?  Can you name a successful device that doesn’t have Bluetooth?  Do me favor technology producers around the world; never make the mistake of a Bluetooth-less device again!
  9. Internet Flamers – I used to read the comments section on a variety of web sites, especially Technology sites, but also news, sports, and politics.  Regardless of the topic, you will always find at least two or three who feel the need to harshly criticize whatever is being talked about.  When I say harshly, I mean nastily, viciously, even brutally assaulting the topic, the writer, or both.  I call these “Internet Flamers” – the only way they can get noticed is to be so blatantly ignorant.  They enjoy it even more when others fall for the trap and answer back, encouraging the anonymous flamer to go even further.  The anonymous nature of these comments (can anyone say Twitter?) encourages stupidity and meanness; avoid them!
  10. Lists of “10 Things that…”– I know, I know; I’m violating my own pet peeve here, but the web is full of top ten lists.  The technology sites are full of “Top Ten Phones” or “Top Ten MP3 Players”, or my favorite, “Top Ten Things We Want to See in the Next Release of …”  Many times the tenth item is a link to another list of “Top Ten Things That…”  It never ends…

Did You Hear That?

There have been several technology bombs dropped in the past month or so. If you haven’t been paying attention, please allow me to summarize;

1. Amazon introduced a new line of Kindle products, including the very awesome Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ and 7″.

2. Apple introduced both the new iPhone 5 and the iOS 6, both also totally awesome.

I haven’t seen this many bombs since the last time I watched Saturday Night Live (well, those were just really lame jokes and we’re talking metaphorical bombs, but you get my point, I hope). The key here is that a little competition is finally taking place between Apple and Amazon.

While the original Kindle and Kindle Fire were fine products, there were some glaring shortcomings (limited, non-expandable hard drive space, no Bluetooth, etc). The new Kindle Fire HD’s memory is still not expandable, but has been bumped to 16 or 32 GB. Combined with the cloud storage available through the Amazon Prime service, this is very acceptable. The physical size of the 7″ Fire has always appealed to me; add the HD display, increased memory, terrific battery life, and the low price point of $199 or $249, and Amazon has me standing up and paying attention. $299 for the 8.9″ model is even more appealing. If i didn’t already own an iPad (or if I was independently wealthy) you would have to arrest me to keep me from buying one. I was very skeptical of their semi-Android operating system that acted primarily as a pathway to shop at their web site, but in practice this has proved a successful approach. I loath advertisements and the new Fire HD comes with advertisements (you can pay Amazon $15 to turn these off), but I find these unobtrusive and even sometimes helpful. I’m field testing my new 7″ Fire HD during my business trip to England this week. It makes an excellent tool to watch movies & TV shows, listen to music & audiobooks, and view the web.

Have I drunk the cool-aid? Has this Apple fan-boy defected to the other side? Do I ask questions on a blog site that no one can answer? No, no, and probably. The iPhone 5 and iOS 6 introductions that followed Amazon’s big day was just as impressive; I’ve not laid hands on the new iPhone yet, but by all reports it is a thing of beauty. iOS 6 is proving a good update (maps issue aside), and has made the existing iPhone 4S even better.

My point is not that Amazon is beating Apple or the other way around; my point is that the competition is getting closer, and that’s good for all of us tech-heads. The more Apple and Amazon compete, the better the products will get and the lower the price will be.

The next anticipated technology bomb to be dropped is the projected release of the new Apple Mini-iPad. IF this happens, pay particular attention to the price. I bet a friend of mine a soda of his choice that the price of a basic mini-iPad will be less than $250. Actually, I believe it will be $199 or close to it. Why? To compete with both the hardware specs and price point established by Amazon. Did you hear that? To compete with an established product – something Apple has not needed to do for some time – never in the field of tablets.

I think Apple will drop a sizable weapon for mass distribution when it introduces the mini-iPad. Apple will feel the need to compete and when highly successful, very competitive companies like Apple and Amazon compete head to head, we are the ones who win. Stand by, the fuze on that next technological bomb is ticking…..