Microsoft Windows RT – The Change That a Year Makes

As I am going through my 30 days with Windows RT on a Microsoft Surface RT I had to stop and realize something.  Windows RT 8.1 is a lot different then the shipping version of Windows RT over a year ago.

First is obvious the update to Windows RT 8.1 itself has a lot of improvements and I feel make Windows RT a little easier to use.  However there has also been a years worth of new apps or updates to apps in the Microsoft App Store that helps to make the Surface RT feel a little more mature than when it was first released a year ago.

I really feel it has been this passage of time that helps to make the Microsoft Surface RT a more practical computing device.  I have turned to the Microsoft App Store many times in the past few days and have found many options to help get work done.

Lets see how the rest of the month goes.  Wish me luck.

30 Days With Windows RT on a Microsoft Surface RT

This past Black Friday there were many great deals out there including some on the Microsoft Surface RT.  Both Best Buy and Microsoft had the 32Gb Surface RT on sale for around $200. No to mention I also saw it being sold with a touch cover for around $230 to $250 at other stores.  Well I had to jump on the chance to get one of these devices for many reasons if not for the fact that they are kind of a unique computing device.  So I picked one up from a Best Buy in Las Vegas and got a Type 2 Cover with it.  I know, I spent more than half of the total cost of the Surface RT on that Type 2 Cover but I think it was worth it.

After using this for a few days though I have to admit, I think this could replace my laptop almost full time.  Windows RT is just that good enough.  Of course it is also a year later so much has changed from a year ago and it does not hurt that Windows RT looks and works almost exactly like Windows 8, which I have used for over a year so I know a thing or two about it.  When I installed Windows 8 on my laptop it took me all of 10 minuets to know I could use that Windows operating system full-time, but without support for any desktop applications on windows RT can I really use the Surface RT like I use Windows 8 on my desktop and laptop?

So for the next 30 days I will only use the Microsoft Surface RT for my computing needs.  I will write many articles to help some of you out there that also picked up one of these devices and I will write about my usage every so often.  I think this will be an interesting month.

So for my first note about the Surface RT, I wrote this whole article on it using only the default touch on-screen keyboard.  Yeah its going to be an interesting month.  So make sure to subscribe to the blog, or follow Useful Windows on Facebook or Twitter and see how I do this month.

Using Free Windows Media Center Keys Will Render Windows 8.1 Not Activated

I have an important warring; using free Windows Media Center Keys will render Windows 8.1 not activated.  I know everyone wants to keep using their free copy of Windows Media Center for Windows 8 but do not attempt to use that key to upgrade to Media Center with Windows 8.1.  The Add Features to Windows 8.1 option in Control Panel will take the free Windows Media Center and it will install Media Center but as soon as Windows restarts it will not be activated.  I did not create a System Restore point before trying the upgrade so I could not do anything but reinstall Windows 8.1.

Now if you installed Windows 8 used the free Windows Media Center key and got that to activate and then upgraded to Windows 8.1 that may work but I have not tried it yet to verify.

So just some warnings and ideas for those of you wanting to clean install Windows 8.1 but keep Windows Media Center.  I suggest either trying my suggestion or just pay the $10 to get Windows Media Canter after you clean install Windows 8.1.

Microsoft Releases Windows RT Recovery Image For Surface RT

With some of the issues that people are having updating their Surface RT devices to Windows 8.1 RT, Microsoft has released an image of Windows RT (8.0) to restore non-functioning devices back to factory settings.  Microsoft has also taken the Windows 8.1 RT update offline till they can figure out the issue.  If you want to grab the image you can download the Surface RT recovery image from the Microsoft Download Center.  You will need to have a USB flash drive with about 4 GB of space.  I suggest if you own a Surface RT to grab a copy of the recovery image in case anything happens in the future. This Windows RT recovery image should prove helpful in the future.

Is This The Beginning of The End For Facebook?

Is this the beginning of the end for Facebook?  I have read a few articles that say Teens are starting to leave Facebook for other social media endeavors.  With reasons ranging from their parents being on Facebook to unnecessary drama on the social network giant.  With teens, Facebook is a thing their parents have, and most parents are well aware of Facebook but not of other social media sites so teens head to the other sites to be less monitored by their parents.

While teens are just one demographic of the Facebook user base it seems the older generations are starting to become disenchanted as well.  While talking to a friend and colleague of mine the topic of recent privacy changes to Facebook came up and we both agreed we are considering dropping the social network all together and moving to something else.

Still other friends of mine have brought up drama, people over sharing information, and that they do not find Facebook fun anymore as reasons they have either left or are thinking about doing so.

Another aspect is the rise of blogging which seems like everyone has one these days (you’re reading one now) and how things like Blogger, WordPress , and Tumblr are gaining traction with older audiences.

Still there are many people who have no intention of leaving Facebook as it has become the main way for them to communicate with friends and family.

So Is this the beginning of the end for Facebook, maybe but I don’t think it will be soon. I am interested to see what you all think of Facebook and if you are looking to jump ship to something else. As for me I am thinking of closing my personal profile, maybe I will go back to MySpace.

Microsoft Posts the Support Lifecycle for Windows 8.1, Windows 8 Users Have Two Years to Upgrade

I came across a page on Microsoft’s website about the Support Lifecycle for Windows 8.1 stating that “the lifecycle of Windows 8.1 will remain under the same lifecycle policy as Windows 8 with support ending 1/10/2023″.  This is interesting because it tells us that Microsoft really does consider Windows 8.1 just an update to Windows 8 and not a new version.   They state this later on the page that “Windows 8 customers will have two years to move to Windows 8.1 after the General Availability of the Windows 8.1 update to continue to remain supported under the Windows 8 lifecycle”.  So if you want to continue to get updates to Windows 8 you will have to upgrade to Windows 8.1 within two years after Windows 8.1 is released this October.  This is more in like with a service pack which is what Windows 8.1 basically is but it is a new way of doing service packs and really I like it.  You can read the support lifecycle for Windows 8.1 and check it out.

So the thing to remember, Windows 8.1 is not a new version of Windows, just an update to Windows 8, and the Support Lifecycle for Windows 8.1 is the same as Windows 8. I really feel like Microsoft is trying to avoid having another Windows Vista by not calling this update a service pack, which after getting this information Windows 8.1 is basically Windows 8 Service Pack 1, granted there are many user interface changes we usually do not see in service packs.  It will be interesting to see how this play out and if this helps the perception about Windows 8 and Microsoft.

Install Windows 7 on HP Compaq DX2400 Microtower D2400M

You can easily install Windows 7 on HP Compaq DX2400 Microtower D2400M and this article will show you how easy it is and give you insight on how it performs.  Your organization may have a few of these DX2400’s left around and when these machines were deployed most of them were probably downgraded to Windows XP as that was the dominant business operating system at the time.  Now Windows XP has less than a year of security updates left and a lot of businesses are looking at finally moving off of the now ancient Windows XP to something else.  Now I have written about how to install Windows 8 and 8.1 on HP Compaq DX2400 Microtower but many businesses have been reserved about Windows 8 however I do feel like Windows 8.1 is the best choice for businesses as Microsoft has lessened the learning curve and added many features for businesses to manage the operating system. So what about Windows 7 as that is quickly becoming the replacement to Windows XP in the enterprize.  Well I did a clean install, keeping nothing, of Windows 7 Enterprise 64 bit (however you can do an upgrade from Windows Vista keeping all your files, settings, and programs.  If you are coming from Windows XP you need to do a clean install or upgrade to Windows Vista first.

I booted off of the Windows 7 DVD and did a clean install and after the installation was complete I did not have to install any drivers, Windows Setup took care of that for me.  There were some driver updates in Windows Update so I do suggest doing that as soon as you are done installing Windows.  Below is the System Properties and the Device Manager.

HP Compaq DX2400 Windows 7 System Properties and Device Manager

HP Compaq DX2400 Windows 7 System Properties and Device Manager

As far as performance goes the HP Compaq DX2400 holds its own but I will say if you are going to run the 64 bit version of Windows 7 you might want to consider upgrading the ram to 4 GB.  I ram the PassMark Performance Test and the machine got a score of 148.7 and I also ran Futuremark’s PCMark 7 Basic which got a score of 1152.  Below is the Windows Experience Index.

Windows 7 Experience Index on HP Compaq DX2400

Windows 7 Experience Index on HP Compaq DX2400

For those of you that do not want to go the Windows 8.X route and wish to stay with an operating system that more people are familiar with but need to move away from Windows XP I think Windows 7 is your best bet and it works well on this machine.  It is also easy to install Windows 7 on HP Compaq DX2400 Microtower D2400M and I highly suggest the upgrade just consider the ram upgrade if you are going to run 64 bit.


Install Windows 8 or 8.1 on HP Compaq DX2400 Microtower D2400M

Windows 8.1 Device Manager On HP Compaq DX2400

Windows 8.1 Device Manager On HP Compaq DX2400

You can install Windows 8 or 8.1 on HP Compaq DX2400 Microtower D2400m  and it is in fact very easy.  We will look at how easy it is to install Windows 8 or 8.1 on the DX2400 and how it performs on there as well.  For this test I did a clean install of Windows 8.1 Pro 64 Bit (and also Windows 8 Enterprise 64 bit) but you could do an upgrade install from Windows 8 keeping you files, settings, and programs or an upgrade from Windows 7 keeping you files and settings but not your installed programs.  If you have Windows Vista or Windows XP on this machine you will have to either upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 or just do a clean install, keeping nothing, like I did. (If you and installing
Windows 8 you can do and upgrade from Windows 7 keeping all your files, settings, and installed programs, from Windows Vista keeping your files and settings but not your installed programs, or from Windows XP keeping your files but not your settings or installed programs.) The Windows 8 install is just like the Windows 8.1 install on this machine. For the install I booted off of the Windows 8.1 Pro DVD and did a clean install.  After the computer restarted it ran well and once I connected it to the internet Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 automatically installed the graphic card and after that I had a clean device manager which is pictured to the right. Below is the PC Info in the new Modern Settings in Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1 PC Info HP Compaq DX2400

Windows 8.1 PC Info HP Compaq DX2400

One of the things that was cut from Windows 8.1 was the Windows Experience Index so we no longer have that to compare the performance of the computer however I did post the Windows Experience Index from Windows 8 below.  I ran PassMark’s Performance Test which this computer scored a 143.9 in Windows 8.1 and a 153 in Windows 8 and I also ran Futuremark’s PCMark7 Basic which this computer scored a 1193 in Windows 8.1 and a 1216 in Windows 8. I believe these numbers show that Windows 8 is a little faster than Windows 8.1 because Microsoft is still testing the performance of Windows 8,1 and will issue an update or two before Windows 8,1 hits General Availability on October 18.

Windows 8 Experience Index on HP Compaq DX2400

Windows 8 Experience Index on HP Compaq DX2400

Windows 8.1 is not only a great upgrade to Windows 8 for usability but Windows 8.1 runs very well on this HP Compaq DX2400 Microtower D2400M and I believe that Windows 8,1 performance will improve before October 18.  If there is anyone out there that is considering this upgrade should go for it.  It is very easy to install Windows 8 or 8.1 on HP Compaq DX2400 Microtower D2400M and it is recommended.

Verizon Rolls Out Amber and Windows Phone 8 GDR2 Updates for Nokia Lumia 822

I got a notification on my phone that an update was available so I started the download and did a search.  It looks like Verizon rolls out the Amber and Windows Phone 8 GDR2 updates for the Nokia Lumia 822 today.  This is not just an update that fixes a few things, this update brings some new functionality and a much requested feature to Verizon Windows Phones.

According to the PDF on Verizon’s website this update brings the following to the Nokia 822.

-Flip to Silence a call (Enabled by default, it is under Audio under Settings)

-Improved Xbox Music Experience

-Improved HTML 5 Compatibility in Internet Explorer

-Improved reliability for VOIP apps like Lync and Skype

-CardDAV and CalDAV support for Gmail

-Storage Check to remove temporary files (You will find this under Settings)

-FM Radio (yes its back) (It is part of the Xbox Music + Video App)

-Improved Texting performance and Bluetooth Connectivity

-Glance Screen (Disabled by default, you can enable it under Display + Touch under Settings)

-The ability to adjust the color profile of the display (Same Location as above)

-Group Text (Its back and this has been requested by many users) (Disabled by default it is under the Settings in the Messaging app)

According to Nokia’s website the Amber update also brings the following to the Nokia Lumia 822

-Improved Camera Capabilities with better Low-Light performance, Improved Auto Focus, and Enhanced Noise Filter

-Nokia Smart Camera And Nokia Video Trimmer Compatibility (You can download these from the App Store, Nokia Video upload and Play To already work with older Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 Devices)

I also see under Settings Call + SMS Filter which I believe is part of the Nokia Amber update.

Also under Display + Touch you can enable Double Tap to Wake Up Phone (Part of the Nokia Update)

Also according to Microsoft’s website the GDR2 update also brings the following.

-Set one of the Lens apps to open when the Camera Button is pressed. (you can change this under the Camera Settings)

-Update to the Bing Search app, (reduced the number of panes of information and not all data loads till you swipe to them to save data)

This really brings a lot to the Nokia Lumia 822 and the Amber and GDR2 updates should help make this device great to use even more so than it has been. I know some people think this is not that big of an update but with all the new features this is a pretty big update indeed. Below is a screen shot of the PDF on Verizon’s website.

Nokia Lumia 822 Verizon Update

Nokia Lumia 822 Verizon Update

The Future of Computing is Touch!

I firmly believe the future of computing is touch, but will that include the PC?  I know a few people who think touch computing is just a fad like 3D TV and will be gone soon.  I however think touch computing is here to stay but I think it will happen one of two ways.

The PC will adapt to touch computing and continue being dominant.  This is what I hope will happen.  I hope that computers like what we use today like laptops and even desktops will embrace touch interfaces and we will have powerful machines that we can interact with touch.  Now the mouse and keyboard will not go away as the mouse is more precise especially when using video and audio or even image editing programs and you need a keyboard for programing but lets face it most people use their computers to check email and Facebook, or to play flash-based games.  I think this gives the all in one device we are looking for instead of having to have multiple devices to take with us when we travel.

The second way is similar to what we see today.  Basic tablets like the iPad, or Android tablets will replace most computers in the home because they meet the needs of people who just check email and Facebook.  Lets get real here, most people do not really need all the power in their computer all the time and could make by with just a basic tablet.  I mean these tablets are just big smartphones and people use smartphones all day long for similar functions.

Now Microsoft is trying to position itself to be ready no matter which scenario works out.  If normal PC’s go the route of touch than I expect to see Windows RT go by the way side but if these less powerful media tablets start winning the battle (like the iPad and Android tablets) then I expect to see Windows RT further developed into something to compete with these devices and probably no longer contain a Desktop.  While Windows 8.X (Or whatever version we are on to by this time) will keep the desktop and rely less on the modern environment.  We could then see Windows booting straight to Desktop and maybe not containing the Start Screen at some point.  Again this is all speculation and just what I see as I look in from the outside.

Either way touch screen devices are here to stay in the home, now seeing them in business uses we will have to wait and see.  I see either way working out long-term for the future of computing what I do not see is computers staying in their traditional configuration (non-touch) and being as dominant as they once were, not in the home.  Again this will be different in businesses but for the home market computing is changing and its future is touch.