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Here Come the 1st Windows 8 Reviews

Soon you will have the option of upgrading to the newest version of Windows, and if you choose to do so, it will be a wholly different experience.  And if you buy a new PC device in the coming months, you likely won’t be given the choice.  Windows 8 is here.

The first reviews are starting to come in and the general consensus is that what Microsoft has done here is futuristic and interesting but because it is so touch based it is also confusing and ultimately not exactly a winning OS.  Watching a few of the review videos I personally think the idea of reaching across my desk to touch the screen to do all of my work is something that will take a lot of getting used to and just looking at the layout without knowing anything about it, it looks really confusing.

Touch interface in a device I am holding, versus one sitting on my desk are two different things.  Probably because we’ve spent our entire computing existence interacting with a desktop via peripherals.  Doing all of this via touch is just something I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around.  I guess I will have to try it myself.  And yes, I realize that you can still do all of these functions with a peripheral, but I’d think since that isn’t how it was intended, that would be a lessor experience.

From Gizmodo, here’s an interesting quote:  “Using Windows 8 is pleasant, especially if you don’t have to do anything in a particular hurry. It’s a totally new way of thinking about how you want to operate in a desktop OS—and maybe not entirely in the way you think. But it also seems like a rough draft of a deeply interesting idea.”

Here’s a list of reviews from people that have actually spent time with it.  Judge for yourself.

Here’s a video review from CNET

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Microsoft Makes Its Move, Debuts Surface

Microsoft remains a wealthy and powerful company.  It no longer is the king of computing hill but it still is a tremendous force to be reckoned with and I have thought for a while that it simply had too much money and resources to sit and allow Apple and Google to leave it behind.

So for the last several months Microsoft has been doing two things, continuously building up the successful user base of their XBOX360 console into more than just gamers, rather a total entertainment hub – and the previewing of Windows 8.  The new OS promises to be far more like the others and less like what you think when you consider a Windows OS.  It also holds the promise that what you get from the platform will be consistent from device to device.  Desktop to tablet to smartphone, Windows 8 wants to you know what to expect.

Yesterday Microsoft held what seemed to be a hastily organized conference in Los Angeles and the general prediction was that an e-reader was in the wings, some sort of relationship with Barnes and Noble. What I don’t think anyone expected was Microsoft’s attempt at the proverbial ‘left-hook’ squarely at the jaw of it competitors.

Microsoft’s Surface is their tablet, but it’s actually two different products in the same way the iPad is different from the MacBook Air.  Both hold the tablet form, but one has the guts and power of an ultra book.  Both have a 10.6 screen with proper 16:9 aspect ratio are really thin and reportedly have a “ruggedness” and “high quality feel” to them due to a magnesium case and a kickstand that pops out to hold it at the perfect 22 degrees needed of viewing and video chatting.  The display is called “Clear Type” and certainly shoots at Retina Display quality and falls just short of that in the pixel density department (264ppi v 208ppi).

The brand “Surface” had been attached to a large coffee table sized device topped with a piece of glass (now renamed PixelSense) that allowed for touch interaction and control that led many to think that was the direction Microsoft was headed with their OS and touchscreen.  But that has been recycled here with a non-Pro version that would run of the RT version of Windows 8 and has the same type of processing as other handheld devices (ARM), and then there is this Pro version that knocked everyone out with the news that it would run the full desktop version of Windows 8 and be powered by an Ivy Bridge Core i5, USB 3.0 and other specs that take the device from tablet to a new place of admiration in tech circles.  Here, Microsoft appears to actually built something really neat-o.  In other words, if Apple had released this device, Twitter would have crashed and Walt Mossberg may have had a heart attack from the excitement.

Topping off the cool new tricks is a cover, much like the one Apple added with the iPad2, that clicks onto the Surface, but when opened reveals a full keyboard and trackpad.  The versions shown to the press yesterday were not operable, so no one knows how it feels to work with, or how well it actually works… but it looks beautiful and awesome.

There is way better coverage to be read by people that have actually seen the devices and in some cases held one.

A couple of things to note:  We don’t know how much either of these will cost.  And that will be a giant consideration as the Pro version will probably come in at the $1000 mark which would give anyone pause to consider versus the options in that price range (Mac Book Air), and Windows 8 is going to have to be awesome to really make that deal work.  The RT (non-pro version) has the almost Herculean task of competing in the ring with the iPad – a device so completely in control of that market segment one wonders how anyone (Android or Microsoft) is ever going to best it.  Its price is going to have to be really competitive, below the $499 intro point for an iPad.  Microsoft’s biggest challenge here are the apps.  Apple has such a lead in the department that Android, already with several really nice tablets of their own, can’t grab a real number of developers to spend the time and money to make apps for them.  So, how Microsoft plans on successfully jumping that hurdle has yet to be seen.

It should be noted that Microsoft designed and is building these in-house.  No Dells, Lenovos or HPs.  This is Microsoft’s baby.  We also aren’t sure when these will arrive.  What we know is that the RT version will arrive along side Windows 8, and, confusingly, the version that actually runs on Windows 8 “90 days after that” – an early sign that Microsoft already has some better decision making to do.

Here’s the whole presentation via The Verge:

 

Can You Love a Windows Phone? *updated*

*update* – upon the release of this phone there was a software glitch that AT&T had to push out as a fix.  They did so quickly, but to make nicey-nice, Nokia is offering up a $100 credit towards the AT&T bill.  That means you can get this phone for free until April 21st.

Additionally, since I wrote this post last week, I found this emulator/demo from Microsoft that shows you how Mango would look on your Android or iPhone.  It’s more of a guided tour, (follow the blue dot) but you get to see how nice the animations, transitions and graphic design that Mango gives you with the “tile structure”.  Check it out by clicking on this or typing in this http://bit.ly/vvvU05 – but you have to be on a mobile device for it to work…

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The long awaited flagship Windows Mobile phone, the Lumina 900 is now on sale.  It’s generally receiving solid to great reviews.  The overall vibe is that Microsoft has a really awesome phone in its possession and an OS that really impresses, but most people may never experience it – or wonder if its too late.

Running Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) it is the tile-based interface that I actually find very useful, smooth and different from the app-icon idea you see on Apple and Android phones.  The tiles are “live” – the images on them change to to provide real time information to the user.  The email icon updates with info about your inbox, the Facebook icon can instantly show you info from your account, the weather icon would give you a nice graphical representation of – duh – the weather.

I have seen Mango running a few different phones and always walk away from it impressed.  It doesn’t feel like a Windows product, and runs very smoothly.  The windows slide, shift with ease the animations/transitions from screen to screen are very nicely done.

The Nokia Lumina 900 is the best Windows Phone you can now buy.  It is their version of the Apple 4s or whatever Android is currently on top of that hill.  It doesn’t have processing equal to either of the best phones from the other OS’s and also lags behind in terms of video recording capability and some other specifications.  Windows Phones are also hampered by lagging far behind in terms of apps.  Only 70,000 compared to the iTunes App Store’s 750,000.

But, this flagship is only $99 and when you compare that to the prices of the previously mentioned flagship phones, it suddenly put a whole new group of consumers in line to be able to afford a top of the line phone they previously could not.  The question is now, even if – for argument’s sake – Mango was the very best OS available is Microsoft just too late to the party to carve out a real space in the pie to sell enough phones to make it a real business.

You can go get yours at AT&T and hook it up to their 4G LTE network for zippy connection speeds.  If you’re in the market it is definitely one to consider, especially if $99 is your price point.  It is a solid option compared to the iPhone or Android available at that same price.  Read up, educate yourself and make the purchase that best suits your needs.