Tag Archives: Windows

Thoughts on Adding New Technology to Your Life or Business

Step back for a moment and look at your life or your role within your company. You are a part of a larger system, responsible for input and output and some semblance of order for each. You have either been given or have sought out a set of tools to manage and execute your assigned tasks. You evaluate your existing tools constantly each time you encounter an issue and grumble under your breath or rave about how easy something is to use. Often, we search for better solutions for our personal and professional needs. Based on our knowledge of the tools available and, more important, those that are familiar, we develop procedures to fill these needs and move on, but what should we consider when looking for the best solutions?

In today’s mobile world, the way we determine what solution is best is very different from only a few years ago. Here are a few points to consider as you decide what technology will fill a need in your personal or professional life:

Modern and flexible – Apps that heavily rely on one particular software language may not pose a large risk, but heavy reliance on something like Flash would make iOS consumption difficult.

Mobile-friendly – If the solution is online-based, how does it look on a mobile browser? If the user experience is different, what functions do you lose on the smaller screen?

Appified – Is the solution available in app flavor? Is the functionality limited? Does the original developer maintain the app, or is the function available through a third-party developer? Face it––if the potential solution doesn’t offer a mobile option (and if it seems like this would be useful), smoke is in the air and you should yell fire and run the other way. An app version for most solutions is a given at this point, so if it isn’t available, think again about the ”future-proof” aspect of the solution.

Cross-platform – Not only does the solution have to play nicely with both the Mac and Windows operating systems, the application may also have to play nicely with mobile and tablet versions of Android and iOS, among others.

Backup – Does the solution offer backup? Can you point the application to a cloud storage solution––something easy like Dropbox, for instance––and will the app update its pertinent information (settings, application data, etc.) to the cloud on a routine or on-demand basis? In the day and age of lost and stolen mobile technology, the ability to recover quickly from backed-up data is mission critical.

Exportable – Plan for the future by making sure you can extract all of your data into a format that could be easily imported into a new application.

Offline capabilities – If you lose data connection, does the solution still function? Does it lose any key features or grind to a halt? From natural disaster to being trapped on the A line, we don’t always have the luxury of a data connection, and when it goes down, your level of stress will be determined by how the solution performs when you are off the grid.

Efficient data usage – Is the solution a Hummer or a Prius? In the age of the data meter running virtually everywhere, we have to be cognizant of how much data our solutions guzzle down. Is the solution built with a frugal mentality, or does it require lots of data to be transferred frequently?

Security – Does the solution offer security measures, such as encryption options and password-reset controls? While these measures may not to be required in some instances, in other areas where the transfer of information needs to remain confidential, security needs to be a big consideration. If the solution is for professional use, does it comply with your company’s IT guidelines and requirements?

Plays well with others – Some of the web’s best applications offer application programming interfaces (APIs), which enable other developers to make amazing solutions that tie in nicely to other solutions.

Others want to join in – If the solution offers an API, how many applications are available for the solution? How many unique developers are writing applications for the solution in question? These questions, which may seem like icing on the feature cake, may shine a light on the back operations and health of a solution.

Social – When applicable, the solution should tie in to the social web easily and share content using those channels in a well-formatted manner.

Author: John Carew

Advertisements

Meet Microsoft’s “App Store,” the Windows Store

In a blog post on Microsoft’s new Windows Store blog, Antoine Leblond, VP of Windows Web Services, introduces a laundry list of details on the new Windows Store. Here are some highlights:

  • Microsoft’s focus on making it easier to find apps and its focus on better economic returns for developers sets it apart from both the Apple App Store and Android Market.
  • The app page and catalog will be exposed to search engines and have deeper linking, improving users’ ability to search for apps.
  • An integrated “get the app” function allows a consumer using a Windows 8 machine to get an app from a website using a button displayed on the toolbar.
  • The Windows Store will offer market-specific app catalogs covering 231 markets worldwide with developer opt-in for any or all.
  • Enterprise app support will allow companies to manage enterprise apps or offer their solutions to the larger app market. Enterprises can also control end-user app access on Windows 8 devices.
  • The Windows Store will allow trials and subscription services for in-app purchases.
  • Microsoft promises a more transparent app approval process, with access to reasons for failing and app acceptance guidance in plain English.
  • New apps will receive 70% of profits, and after $25,000 in revenue, the share of profits will increase to 80%, the best return for developers across any platform.

This leads to an interesting question: If app stores killed the brick-and-mortar, boxed-software business model and the availability of high-speed Internet and the app-ization of everything (turning small functions into bite-sized apps to complete one thing pretty well on a mobile or semi-mobile device), what change will come in the future––the death of the web browser and/or significantly increased use of cloud services? Either way, companies that “appify” their services or who make new app-centric services or offerings for the marketplace have a future … but for how long? As adoption continues and smart mobile devices penetrate deeper into every consumer lifestyle, “old” tech like the websites and native desktop apps we have come to know and expect will be the minority and the app-centric functions tied to cloud processing and storage will represent the future. Regardless, the Windows Store will take Microsoft, the leader in worldwide OS installs, into a stronger position in the marketplace by learning from some of the missteps and downfalls of the other app store ventures.

Look for the Microsoft Windows Store in late February 2012, when Windows 8 Beta hits the scene.

Author: John Carew

Microsoft’s High Hopes for Windows 8

On June 1, Mike Angiulo, corporate VP of Windows Planning, stated that Windows 8 offers “huge opportunities for our hardware partners to innovate with new PC designs.” Innovation, on a PC running Windows? The Windows market has not seen any real innovation between hardware and software since Windows 98 in 1998. Other leaders in the personal computer market, specifically Apple, have provided innovative interaction between hardware and software with virtually every major new release. Microsoft’s Windows 8 venture presents a few interesting technical points that are worth considering:

Multi-Device Support
Windows 8 is expected to support touch-friendly interfaces flawlessly across tablets, desktops, and laptops. This is the first significant push by a software company to move a mobile OS to non-mobile hardware.

Supports Dual-Processing Architectures
According to Microsoft’s Angiulo, Windows 8 will support both x86- and ARM-based architectures.

Legacy Hardware Support
Based on the information presented on June 1, it appears that Windows 8 will be supported by legacy Windows 7 hardware. In addition, Windows 8 will already have many of the Windows 7 features baked in and back-supported.

CNET posed an interesting question: Did Windows Phone 7 have “the kind of consumer impact that warrants this elevation?” The article goes on to state that “Windows Phone 7 commands only 1 percent of the U.S. smartphone marketshare”––a measly number to be hedging a new OS release against.

A closing thought: Apple will launch iOS 5 at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next week and release iOS 6 next year, just in time for the Windows 8 launch. Will the two new operating systems clash in a head-to-head death match, or will Microsoft’s newest stepchild cower, forlorn in a corner, while Android, Apple, and maybe even RIM or––gasp––HP steal the spotlight at the 2012 laptop/desktop/tablet/smartphone party?

 

Author: John Carew

Where do tablets fit into the marketplace?

Android, iOS, Windows, WebOS or Blackerry. Galaxy Pad, iPad, EeePad or PlayBook. Each spells change in the personal computing market, but where exactly will tablets end up within the computing spectrum.
Let’s take a step back to the beginning. Desktops lead to notebooks, availability of mobile broadband and the success and subsequent adoption of the smartphone app model brought the age of the netbook. This chain of events pushed tablet computing further than predicted within the last two decades and now the market is growing more and more addicted to mobile computing primarily via their smartphone. The natural transition for the user is to upgrade their computing power, battery life, screen size and port over basic notebook/netbook features to a multipurpose tablet following the same app model they have become hocked on.
Tablet computing only existed as over-marketed attempts to push a barely usable product with pen input as the only option but a design still married to the traditional keyboard configuration. Smartphone screen real estate across the board was significantly limited and the input method whether scroll wheel, touch screen or stylus limited the user experience dramatically. Fast forward to early 2010, pre-iPad era, when users complained of lack of features and processing power from their iPhones not knowing that the iPad was just around the corner. The Apple iPad debuted in January 2010 with only glimmers of hope and expectations for the future the tablet in the marketplace. Much like the early netbooks, many said it had no place in the marketplace beyond the endearment to the Apple fan boys around the globe.
Fourth quarter 2010 brought 4.19 million iPad units sold. Big numbers for a device that was said to not have a spot in the market. Apple already had 75 million plus users worldwide familiar with their iOS and consuming apps by the billions. Apply that same logic to Android coupled with recent talk of the mobile platform taking the number one slot worldwide in early 2011 for mobile OS installations and we see that some form of tablet plus smartphone configuration may just be in the cards. Then assuming success of future devices like the RIM PlayBook, HP WebOS Topax tablet and Windows 7 powered EePads, we see a far more diverse marketplace simply built on the consumers addiction to app and desire to do more.
It’s not difficult to find a real world use of tablet technology from bands to speeches to presentations but are they really the best use of current technology? They are more portable than notebooks to a small extent, overall tablets have a more refined user interface and if units sold are any indication they may be the future of computing. Heavy lifting desktops will be necessary for the foreseeable future, but as we move closer to cloud computing being used by the average user, the move toward a basic browser with Internet connectivity may just be the best fit.

Author: John Carew