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вівторок, 8 березня 2011 р.

Windows 8 leaked screenshots show Windows Live integration, taskbar tweaks

Tangible Windows 8 details are beginning to emerge with some screenshots of the OS making the rounds on the Internet. Not much is revealed, but we do get a glimpse at a couple interesting changes.

For starters, taskbar progress indicator support has been expanded to other built-in Windows functions, like hardware installation. Windows Live integration is evolving, too -- you'll be able to log in to Windows 8 using your Windows Live ID and have your avatar set to your local Windows profile picture. This also hints at further integration with the cloud.

There's also a lot of noise being made about an eight-minute Windows 8 install process, though if you've loaded Windows 7 from a bootable SATA hard drive onto a system you've already seen pretty similar speeds (and that's what the tester used, not a DVD). The post also refers to a factory restore function, which would roll back your Windows 8 installation back to its day-one glory in about two minutes.

It's also clear that excited Windows 8 leakers aren't paying any attention to Microsoft's not-so-subtle wallpaper. We're not entirely sad about that.

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SMART v2.0 released - tweak Windows Services quickly and easily

Lee Whittington has released version 2 of his Services-tweaking utility, SMART Windows Services Tweaker. SMART – an acronym for Services Management And Realeasy Tweaking – offers a number of preset options for tweaking Windows Services to boost both startup time and overall performance.

Version 2.0 features a redesigned interface, a new custom settings option, plus the ability to find out more about selected Services via a Microsoft Bing web search or by visiting the relevant page on the BlackViper website, which is used by SMART to determine the settings for each of the three available preset options.

Windows Services are background programs loaded at startup. They consume their fair share of resources, and like most aspects of Windows, are configured for maximum compatibility rather than performance. Services can be managed via the Services management console – type services.msc into the Run dialogue box – but it can be difficult knowing what each Service represents and if it’s safe to disable or switch to manual.

The Black Viper website provides detailed information about each and every system Service running on PCs, and also includes a series of recommended settings based on how far the end user wishes to push their system performance in relation to stability and compatibility.

While it’s possible to tweak individual Services manually using the Services console and following the advice on the Black Viper website, it’s a fiddly and time-consuming process. SMART simplifies the process by offering three preset settings based on Black Viper’s own recommendations: Safe, Moderate and Advanced. The program creates a Restore point before making any changes, plus there is a Defaults button to restore the system to its original state should the tweaks prove more harmful than beneficial.

Version 2 has redesigned the interface, plus tweaked how Services are configured or viewed – double-click to view more details about an individual Service (complete with links to a Bing search or Black Viper), or right-click to configure individual services manually. Custom settings can then be saved for future use, allowing the user to quickly and easily switch between different configurations. It’s not recommended for novices, but so long as you’ve created a System Restore point or even taken a drive image of your hard drive, you should find even dipping your toe into the water by selecting the Safe option will provide a moderate – but noticeable – speed boost without any side effects.

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Windows 7 slate: A PC by any other name?

Microsoft has some fancy footwork to do around its tablet/slate positioning.

Until now, Microsoft officials have claimed that iPads are not PCs. It’s not hard to see why. If iPads are counted as PCs, Apple would be the No. 2 PC vendor.

But are slates/tablets running Windows 7 PCs? As is evident by a marketing campaign on the Windows.com site, Microsoft is straddling the fence. The campaign isn’t new; Microsoft officials pointed to it from the Windows Blog some time after the Consumer Electronics Show in January. But it does make plain the Softies’ dilemma in the tablet/slate space.

“Introducing a PC that’s not very PC: The ASUS Eee Slate,” reads the banner-ad copy. “The ASUS Slate with Windows 7 delivers all the power, speed and productivity you’ve come to expect. Once off its stand, it becomes a sexy, touchscreen slate that provides infinite possibilities.”

Microsoft’s ad shows a young child picking up the $999+ device and intuitively knowing how to use the stylus to draw. (Haven’t we seen a similar tactic somewhere before?)

The longer version of the text shows more clearly the tricky marketing waters the Softies need to navigate with the company’s slate strategy. Is a Windows 7 tablet/slate a PC? Or isn’t it? You can argue both sides, especially with a device like the new ASUS Eee Slate, which has a stand and a keyboard.

Last year, Microsoft execs scrambled to undo confusion over the company’s tablet vs. slate vs. PC rhetoric. To differentiate between tablets and slates running Windows 7 vs. tablets and slates running Windows Embedded Compact 7, the Softies ended up saying that Windows Embedded Compact slates were for content consumption, while Windows-based ones were for both consumption and creation.

As Apple drove home last week, the iPad — especially iPad 2 — can do both content consumption and creation. But to me, this doesn’t mean PCs are toast and we’re now in a post-PC era. And as long as a PC/Mac continues to be a necessary part of the iPad mix, as one blogger noted recently, can we really say we’re in a post-PC world?

While we’re debunking tablet-related rumors, I’ve seen a few reports claiming Microsoft is “delaying” its tablets until 2012. Um… there are Windows tablets and slates out already, running both Windows 7 and Windows Embedded Compact 6.X. Microsoft officials still haven’t said when they plan to deliver Windows 8 to OEMs. (In fact, they still officially have not used “Windows 8″ to refer to the next version of Windows, if you want to be precise.) But if they do RTM Windows 8 in 2012, enabling tablet/slate makers to get Win 8 slates out in time for holiday 2012, they will be “on time,” in my book.

Once more, with feeling: Windows 7 slates are not touch-centric, though they may be touch-capable. There’s no equivalent to the Apple App Store for these devices. They tend to be heavy, pricey and fairly bulky. They don’t come with their own colorful array of covers with cleaning cloths built in. All of these reasons contribute to the way Microsoft is marketing Windows slates vs. iPads. Microsoft is focusing on selling Windows 7 slates/tablets primarily as devices for the enterprise. (And that’s why the Eee slate campaign is rather confusing, in my opinion, as it is attempting to position a $1,000 PC as a potential iPad equivalent.)

To me, a tablet/slate is something quite different from a PC. It shouldn’t be a PC stuffed into an iPad-like shell. Do you think tablet/slate is more than just another PC form factor category? Why/why not?
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Microsoft releasing Windows 7 Slate tablet commercials

While we are waiting for Windows 8 and tablets for the next OS, Microsoft is releasing a couple of commercials for Asus Eee Slate running Windows 7 Home Premium

The Asus Eee Slate EP121 was unveild at CES earlier this year but the device is not yet available for sale. We are usually writing about Android devices here at Esato, but are doing an exception for this one. Asus has a couple of Android tablets in production, including 10.1 inch Eee Pad Slider, 10.1 inch Asus Eee Pad Transformer and 7.1 inch Eee Pad MeMO. All are running the latest Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS for tablets. The three Android devices are powered by Nvidia Tegra 2 chipset and has support for Android Flash, HD video and HDMI out.

Asus Eee Slate running Windows 7 Home Premium

Eee Slate on the other hand is a 12.1 inch Windows 7 Home Premium tablet powered by a Intel Core i5 dual-core cpu. It has a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution capacitive touch screen. It also has a capacitive stylus for better input and control. The Slate has no docking craddle, but it can be connected to an external keyboard via Bluetooth and you will have full access to the usual Windows 7 applications. The commercial points out that the Eee Slate is both a full grown PC and a tablet. The tablet part reminds us of Windows Mobile 5 from 2005 and that's not a pleasant memory.

Asus Eee Slate running Windows 7 Home Premium

We saw the Motorola Atrix 4G demonstrated at the MWC last month, and that was more our kind of toy. An small mobile phone powerfull enough to be used as a pc replacement. You will be missing many of your usual office applications on the Android platform, but for simple tasks like browsing and messaging, the Atrix 4G will do fine.

Motorola Atrix 4G lapdock

Motorola Atrix 4G powering the Motorola Lapdock. The Lapdock is just a display and keyboard hosting the Atrix 4G
The Motorola Multimedia dock with HDMI out, three USB connectors and power cords

What about the iPad 2 then? Do you see yourself buying the $999 Asus Eee Slate before considering the cheapest $629 iPad 2 with a 3G network? If you want a PC with tablet functionality, maybe. If you are looking for a tablet with light PC functionality. No way.

As for the two videos below. Is it any thought behind the fact that the Slate tablet are used as a PC on a table by adults and the tablet part as a drawing table by the children in both the commercials? Isn't Windows 7 tablet usage suitable for grown ups? We haven't tested the three Windows 7 input methods but none of them seems very quick. It is easy to see that this OS not are created with thumb input in mind.

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Windows Phone 7 Actually Manages To Lose Market Share

We couldn't make this stuff up. Nobody could. Despite the savior of Microsoft's mobile "strategy" appearing not to be a complete disaster (as we thought it would be), Windows Phone 7 actually lost market share for Microsoft at the end of last year.

Yes, that's right. The knight in shining armor that rode in on its mighty steed and relegated the old Windows Mobile platform to the scrap heap of history turned out to be more of a peasant tottering around on a mule. The latest numbers from comScore, the organization of the atrociously capitalized name that tracks these sorts of things, indicate that Microsoft's market share has fallen since Windows Phone 7 hit devices last fall.

OK, now for the requisite caveats. Windows Phone 7 only hit the market in late October in Europe and in early November in the United States. Some of the time period in comScore's January 2011 numbers includes the old Windows Mobile era, then. And, to be fair, Windows Phone 7 is brand-new. Said Microsoft official Achim Berg of the share numbers:

"We introduced a new platform with Windows Phone 7, and when you do that it takes time to educate partners and consumers on what you're delivering, and drive awareness and interest in your new offering. We're comfortable with where we are, and we are here for the long run; Windows Phone 7 is just the beginning."

Yeah, OK, fine. But really, losing market share right out of the gate? With all the press coverage and the TV ads and whatnot? It's not exactly building momentum, is it? One wonders whether Stephen Elop, former Microsoft executive and now CEO of Nokia (yes, it's still in business) is reconsidering his decision to stiff-arm Google and instead partner with Microsoft and Windows Phone 7. (Actually, he might not be, given that Microsoft is apparently forking over $1 billion to Nokia as part of the deal.)

Up at the top of the standings, Google's Android platform took over at No. 1 for the first time, displacing RIM and the BlackBerry mobile OS. Down in third place is Apple, which, despite the hype the iPhone constantly gets, boasts "only" about 25 percent market share. Microsoft isn't even really an also-ran at this point, though, as its 8 percent share (down from 9.7 percent in the pre-WP7 era) has it much closer to Palm than to third-place Apple.

We're not sure what -- if anything -- is wrong with Windows Phone 7, but technology moves quickly, especially in the mobile world. Android has rocketed up the market-share table over the last few years. If Windows Phone 7 is going to do the same thing, it's going to have to do it from a big hole that it has dug itself in its first few months of existence. We can't really see why users would adopt Microsoft's mobile OS en masse, so low market share might be a continuing condition. But falling market share? That's just embarrassing -- and borderline unbelievable.

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