Sunday, April 2, 2017

And Now For Something Completely Different

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Hey everyone, it’s your favorite Windows guy… No, not Ben,m but Ron. Ok so you’ve probably never even thought about the face behind this all but abandoned blog about Windows, but hey, I’m still here and I’m still trying very hard to carry a Windows Mobile device today. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to carry a ‘new’ Windows Phone since there are only two active models on the planet right now, but today I’m coming back to talk about something completely different.

Microsoft has announced their plan to begin carrying a special edition of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ in their retail stores and online. This is quite the departure from even a few months ago, when Microsoft was touting the power of the HP X3 and its expanded Continuum mode, but is it necessarily a bad move for Microsoft and their mobile aspirations?

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What Microsoft is up against is an impossible situation. Manufacturers and programmers have been fleeing from the fledgling OS for quite some time now, with only a few select manufacturers helping to keep the ecosystem alive. As a matter of fact, currently there are 2 major operators making Windows Phones, HP and Alcatel, that’s it.Sure, Microsoft is still tossing out their 950 and 950XL lines, but those aged devices from late 2015 just aren’t going to last much longer.

Gone are Microsoft’s long time friends like HTC, LG and Samsung. Gone is that mysterious plan to allow Android users to install Windows Phone on their mobile devices. What happened and why did Microsoft lose the mobile battle. To be honest, they are building back what they lost very quickly, but not in the way any Windows Mobile/Windows Phone user ever wanted them to. From the ashes of what was, has come a new way of generating income and bringing Windows to the masses – services.

With a partnership like the one with Samsung, Microsoft is guaranteeing, at least a minor footprint in a mobile world that had them completely blocked out only months ago. Sure, Samsung and Microsoft have teamed up in the past offering some of their own Apps in some markets, but this is a ground breaking move, and one that should be welcomed with open arms. Windows 10 isn’t ready for prime time on mobile devices quite yet and the developer support hasn’t come anywhere near what the folks in Redmond had hoped for, but this latest move gives them hope. Hope for a future in mobile and a bridge, or a lifeline, to stay relevant in the mobile landscape.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Just A Normal Day In Windows Update Land...


So, I noticed that I hadn't visited this page since April of this year. That means I'm almost 2 months overdue for my next, Windows Phone has failed me post. I have to say that with a grain of salt, because it isn't Windows fault that it's not in my pocket right now, it really isn't. What I mean by this is that it's not that the OS is poor, or my HTC One M8 for Windows is an inferior device for some reason - in fact, it's quite the contrary. The sad reality is that no matter how hard I try to make Windows my daily driver, there's just too much out there for other platforms that will never find their way to Windows.

To put the power of Windows in perspective, I had a 16GB Lumia 925 that NEVER ran out of space. It powered through 2 days of use on a single charge. It had all the necessary evils: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc... I had Nokia Mix Radio for downloading a playlist or two (or streaming over Wi-Fi to protect my data and storage) and a camera that out performed most devices on the planet even today. To this day, I still can't tell you why I ever left my 925, it seemed like the perfect phone, and it just may have been.

Since then, the rotating levels of cheap Lumia devices have done NOTHING for me. 500 series were great starter phones, or a good device for Grandpa's first smartphone, but they weren't for the serious user. Then we had the 600 series, which was a bit of a step up, but still fell flat. The 800 series never came back to it's former glory and the 700 series was left only to Verizon's 735, which again, left a rather bland taste in my mouth.

The last saving grace would have been the Lumia 950 series, which was limited to only one US carrier - and not one that I have wanted to use in quite some time. The $650 sticker price also threw that device far from the realm of, sure, I'll give up everything Android for a decent enough device, but with a price tag that is out of the normal range of a Nexus or even something more powerful. No thanks.

Overall, I can honestly say that nothing has happened in the world of Windows Phone/Windows Mobile in the two months I've been wandering around and playing golf. Sure, they've been polishing the OS a bit and squashing a few bugs, but in all honesty, the official device list has been cut, the feature sets have been limited to 2 devices and there looks to be no hope of anything new coming to market soon. The question is, how much longer will Microsoft continue on this mission before they either exit the market or release something that shocks the industry. It can go either way and I for one am still hoping for the latter.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Dear Windows 10…

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I love you, but that doesn’t mean I have to like you right now. Yes, frustration levels are at an all new high for me and Microsoft’s new beta operating system. I’m not even talking about the Preview releases when I say beta either, I’m talking about the normal, I updated through Windows 7, boring, this should work version of Windows 10.

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Yes, it doesn’t seem to matter what type of Audio program or Video file I click, but they are all met with the same issue, “The remote procedure call failed.” Now here’s the good part… I’ve already “fixed” the error multiple times after updates in the past, but every time, it comes back after a few days. Probably the worst part of the whole thing is that when this issue arises, Cortana stops working completely. So, not only do I have to open media files in Windows Media Player, but I lose my desktop assistant.

Between the loss of Windows 10 Mobile in the shuffle of all things Windows and the fact that Windows 10 is barely hanging on on my desktop machine, I would say that things aren’t looking spectacular for my opinions on the products coming out of Redmond at the moment. If it weren’t for the fact that the Insider builds on my Dell Venue 8 Pro were getting better and better, I would be posting this from a Linux or Windows 7 computer right now.

But here’s some words of advice to the Windows team, get this right, ok? There’s so much riding on this and touting that there are 270 million installs doesn’t mean crap to the average user. If it’s behaving this badly for everyone that installed it, you’re going to sell 265 million Macs in the next few months for Apple. Buckle down and get this ready to go. Ditch the fix it with a patch later syndrome and make the OS run better.

Thanks!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Have You Grabbed Your Free Office 365 Subscription Yet?

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If you are suffering under the OneDrive cutbacks that Microsoft announced, your first glimpses of a reprieve are now active under your OneDrive Upgrade page. Your new subscription to Office 365 and a TB of storage is now available if you haven’t taken advantage of it so far. It hasn’t been made clear how long Microsoft will run this deal, but the $69.99 value is a decent attempt at making amends for their storage plan cutting that is currently occurring.

Now, if they could only start releasing some additional information on the state of Windows 10 Mobile and a time frame for it to hit some additional devices.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Windows 10 Updates: What A Difference A Year Makes

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Last April, I brought to you details of how HTC planned on supporting the Windows 10 Update for the HTC One M8 for Windows. When we fast forward to this year, and yes, it’s been a full year, we now see that the upgrading future of the powerful device is now shaky at best. While it hasn’t officially been put on the no fly list, there are no indications that it will be receiving the newest version of Windows either. HTC support is pulling their usual operating silence and Verizon, their launch partner is also not commenting on the topic.

The worst part of this for consumers is that most of us purchased Windows 8 devices after being told that they would receive the Win10 update. The first step was Microsoft letting us know that some features – mainly Continuum – will never work with older devices. Now the list of upgradable devices is shrinking at an alarming rate. Is this feedback from the Insider’s Program, and if so, they really need to share that with the public, or is it just another reboot where they are telling everyone they need to buy a new phone every 2 years?

Either way, the transparency that I so boldly wrote about a year ago has gone by the wayside. It’s now a muck of gloom and doom for almost anyone with a non-2015 Lumia model. Hopefully Microsoft will get their act together and let us know what’s going on. Many of us still love the Windows platform and really want to carry a strong Windows 10 device, but that just doesn’t exist in reality yet. Maybe someday, but not yet.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Insiders On Lumia 550, 950 And 950XLTreated To Mobile Build 14267

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This is when reality stinks for Windows 10 Mobile bloggers. When something new comes out and it will be a $600 investment to see it in action. Alas, I must come back to reality and just report that some folks out there in the fast rings have been reporting that their magical Lumia’s have found the first of the Redstone builds, complete with some polish for Edge and Cortana. Overall, Redstone build 14267 appears to be a bunch more polish and a way to include a few new features.

First off, Microsoft Edge moves along nicely in this build. With the ability to use the WordFlow keyboard in the address bar and initiate a private browsing section without 4 taps to get there. There is also the new tabs key next to the address bar for faster switching between tabs. Overall, Edge is coming together quite nicely for the first major release.

Next up, a few changes for Cortana. She now can listen to music and tell you what she is hearing from a simple one button tap on her home screen. This build brings her current to functionality found on the desktop App, which should help ease people back into the Cortana experience after a bumpy launch so far on Windows 10 and Android.

The final feature that received a bit of polishing for this build is the Save to SD feature on the video camera. Some Insiders had reported that they were suffering from stuttering video play back when videos were recorded to the SD card. What this ended up being was a recording issue, not a playback issue. Build 14267 fixes the write buffer which now allows for HD video to be recorded to the SD care without any additional issues.

So, good news overall, but please, someone send me a new Lumia so I can report on these first hand – or maybe even just buy a few items from my links on the right so I can afford to purchase one for myself. I would love to see these new builds in action, but my trust HTC One M8 for Windows just isn’t getting the updates as fast. For now, enjoy the updates if you get them and if not, with everything going ok on them, they should roll out to general release soon.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Most Confusing Windows 10 Device Ever: The Lumia 650

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I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea what the mission of the Windows 10 for Mobile team is any more. I had some ideas, or maybe even dreams, but the towel is going in on this one because I no longer have any idea what is happening. Apparently the newly announced Lumia 650 is in the same boat also. It’s part Lumia 950 series and part Lumia 640 series and part Lumia 530 series and adding it all together, makes it 100% confusing.

Let’s start with the positives. Microsoft released a new Windows 10 piece of hardware! Yea! It retails for $199! Yea! It has a solid 16GB of internal storage with additional space available via MicroSD card slot. It’s got a pretty nice 5” display to stare at all day long, which makes it a great portable size for a mobile device. The 8MP rear camera and 5MP front cameras aren’t all that bad for an entry level device, in fact their quite decent to say the least. And most of all, it’s just $199 retail.

So far so good, right? Well, not so much… Windows 10 Mobile isn’t exactly what you’re getting with the Lumia 650. The Qualcomm 212 processor will not support Windows Continuum, which for me is a deal breaker right off the bat. I have plenty of devices that will give me a great Windows 10 experience without that amazing feature. I don’t need another. The 1GB of RAM that the 650 ships with is barely adequate for today’s standards. It’s the starting point, not something that should mark your mid-range devices. In fact, the 1GB of RAM is what is shipped with the Lumia 535 at a much lower price tag. The final straw though, is that it is just $199. This price point is just too high for a wanna be second tier device.

What I mean by this is that the $100 price point where the 535 should be sitting is filled with crap-tastic Android devices and the Moto E. Most of the phones in this range are under powered and really just lacking features that make them a good choice for most. Then, you have the $200 range, with devices like the Moto G falling into it. As nice as the 650 looks on paper, the Moto G has so much more going for it that it’s scary to think that these two devices are in the same price range. Of course, this won’t matter to most consumers since they go in and finance the phone and leave with a $650 device that they are paying $30 a month for, so forget how much it costs and worry about what it does.

Here’s the real breakdown of how well the 650 will do. It won’t sell, at least not a lick in the US. The carriers won’t stock it and Microsoft doesn’t have enough stores to push them out to end users. It’s another “Smoked By Windows Phone” candidate right there. Of course, if Microsoft cut a deal with say Wal-Mart, Target or even a regional chain like Fred Meyer’s, to put up an endcap of “unlocked carrier phones that work with the carrier you already use” and will cut your bill $20-150 a month, I bet some people would drop in for a look. Unfortunately, most people don’t think about unlocked at this point, nor do they even know what it means. They go to the store, buy a phone and move along until it breaks.

The Lumia 650 is a nice step up from the 535 in may ways, but honestly, the lack of additional RAM and most of all, Continuum makes is a non-starter for me. Unfortunately, the lack of exposure is going to make it a no-go for just about everyone else. Hey Microsoft, if you’re listening, make sure you think about getting than end cap and maybe labeling some devices with a sticker that says “AT&T Ready” or “Save $25 a month on your bill without a device payment!” You’ll be shocked how well these things start to move. Think about how well the 520/521 did when those hit retail shelves! You could do it again, just that easily.