ComTech: IT Support Stirling
TwitterFacebookGoogle

What happens if Windows 9 is no good?

I wrote an article last week asking if Windows 8 was in danger of becoming the next Vista?. One of the reasons I asked this question is that Microsoft has pulled forward its release schedule for Windows 9 to next year, possibly April. What happens though if Windows 9 isn’t well received by the public and business customers? Could Microsoft’s customers actually stomach another operating system that they see as no good?

As it stands businesses have pretty much completed their move to Windows 7 from Windows XP.  If Windows 9 is released and isn’t liked by business they will pretty much stay with Windows 7 until end of support in 2020 (unless of course Microsoft extends this).  If this did happen Microsoft would lose billions in licensing fees but more importantly businesses might start to lose confidence in Microsoft being able to produce quality products.  This loss in confidence could make businesses start to look elsewhere for their software (Google Apps instead of Office 365?) and this could seriously hurt Microsoft.

In the home market PC sales are approaching rock bottom (they will level off at some point) primarily due to people using tablets and smartphones for their daily tasks instead of PC’s and laptops.  If Windows 9 is perceived as just another Windows 8 (which a lot of home users hate) then people will have even less incentive to purchase new PC’s and laptops.  The one shining light for Microsoft in this market is that if they can get Windows 9 to work well on a tablet (and be not to expensive) this could generate significant interest and possibly sales.  In their defence Windows 8 and RT both work very well on a tablet.

Windows 9 could be a defining point for Microsoft.  If it is them getting back on track or slowly sliding into obscurity remains to be seen.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Windows 8 in danger of becoming the next Vista?

First off I personally think that Windows 8 is far superior to Windows Vista.  It is more secure and much faster and on a touchscreen it is a pleasure to use. It seams though that quite a few people just do not like it as shown by the market share figures for June 2014. So what is the problem?

The main problem with Windows 8 is its split personality.  It is designed for touchscreens but at its launch there weren’t many about and on a traditional laptop or  PC it can be clunky.  Then there is the Start screen (which I actually like) which a lot of users just hate and users having to retrain to actually use the new interface didn’t go down well either.

Put Windows 8 on a touchscreen tablet (where it really belongs) and it does start to make sense.  I have a client with a Surface 2 (yes the Windows RT one) which is lovely to use.  The swipe gestures and moving around the OS with your finger is a joy.  Yes it does have its issues with lack of apps but that is another blog!!

Microsofts biggest problem is that business customers were never going to switch to Windows 8 in huge droves due to the retraining costs and have instead switched to the tried and tested Windows 7.  This leaves the home market where tablets have overtaken laptops and PC’s thereby squeezing out Windows. Windows 8 should have been developed purely for PC’s and laptops (businesses would have preferred this and uptake would have been higher) and develop a separate OS for tablets (and do not call it Windows).  Windows RT can (and possibly should) be used for this purpose but it would need a complete rebrand as people still expect to run Windows programs on it.

At this point people generally bring up the Surface line of hybrids stating that Microsoft got it right and Surface is the proof.  The Surface Pro 3 is a cracking piece of kit and if I had the money I would seriously consider buying one but that is the problem – they cost too much.  Pricing something in MacBook Air territory generally doesn’t work as Windows is seen as “for everyone” whilst Apple products are seen as “premium”.  Maybe I will be proven wrong (it won’t be the first time) but somehow I doubt it.

Windows 9 is due to be released early next year and when it does I can honestly see Windows 8’s market share start to go the same way as Windows Vista, which would be a shame as it does have some good qualities but it just can’t make its mind up what it wants to be.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

 

Upgrade or buy new? Choices, choices….

It is the age old question. When is the right time to change my computer, whether it be a laptop, PC or tablet? The answer as always is there is no right answer as it all depends on the systems in question and what they are been using for.


Lets take an example.

I was asked to quote a client a while back to migrate them from Windows XP to Windows 7.  On inspection of their systems it was clear that two of them needed replacing (calling the systems ancient would be polite) but two could very easily run Windows 7 with a memory upgrade.  The client was shocked at this.  In their mind because the two systems were 5 years old they must be past it and they needed new ones.  I pointed out that they were only accessing files on a local server, word processing, a couple of spreadsheets, emails and some internet browsing so they weren’t exactly getting taxed.  In this scenario it made more sense to spend a relatively little amount of money upgrading the two systems in question than purchase two new ones.

It is the same with Windows Vista machines.  Most systems running Vista could easily run Windows 7 with a memory upgrade rather than purchasing new systems.  You would probably be running 32 bit software but unless you are a power user you are unlikely to notice the difference in performance. The reason I am saying Windows 7 and not Windows 8 is that for all the advertising Windows 8 still confuses a lot of users (personally I like it).

The flip side of this of course are the businesses that refuse to change their systems when it is blindingly obvious they are not fit for purpose.  I have known clients in the past who wanted to upgrade systems rather than purchase systems thinking this would be the cheaper option.  I did try and point out that I would be very happy maintaining their systems but they would end up seeing me more than my wife does (and with me would come the bill).

As you can see there is no right or wrong answer to the question as it does depend on the state of the existing systems and what they are being used for.  When you start to think you need new systems ask yourself one question – what exactly do I need the system to do?

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

Is Windows 8 really struggling that bad?

I have been reading quite a few articles this week from zdnet regarding the failure of Windows 8.  Windows 9 is even apparently being brought forward for a release in April 2015. Is it really a failure though or is this something drummed up by the media?


Lets take a look at the numbers.  As of the end of December 2013 Windows 8 and 8.1 combined has a market share of 10.46%.  Windows 7 is still way out in front with 47.52%.  The installed PC base globally is estimated to be approx 1.6 billion which means at the moment Windows 8 (and 8.1) are installed on approximately 167 million PC’s (and laptops).  To me that is a very large number of installed systems.

While talking to a lot of my clients regarding Windows 8 there is a very noticeable split of opinion between the younger generation and the older one.  The older generation was quite happy on XP (and in some cases Windows 7) so when they see how different Windows 8 is they hate it.  Compare that to the younger generation with their smartphones and tablets who seam to gell with the “Metro” interface.  Personally I don’t mind it (I used to hate it) but I still disagree with Microsofts vision of one interface for all systems.

For a long time wherever Microsoft led the market followed (UEFI anyone?) but times have changed.  Microsoft is no longer the leader of the pack as the market has been turned on its head by tablets and smartphones.  In the enterprise things are chugging along as normal as Microsoft has a very strong grip with the likes of Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V but the poor PC and laptop are taking a battering.  The PC is not going anywhere anytime soon but the market will reach a point where it can’t shrink anymore and stabilize leaving Microsoft as the big fish in a very small pond.

Microsoft knows this and that is why we have Windows 8.  Would it not have been better though to continue to develop Windows along the same lines as Windows 7 and have a brand new operating system developed specifically for tablets rather than the one interface across everything.  Something along the lines of iOS and OS X perhaps?

I don’t think that Windows 8 is struggling as bad as the media is suggesting but I do agree that it isn’t doing as well as Microsoft had hoped.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

I just don’t get this Windows RT bashing

Windows RT is the OS that no one seems to love.  The problem it has is that it is not “real” Windows.  Well sorry to disappoint you all but it was never meant to be “full” windows in the same way iOS was never meant to be OSX.


The most popular complaint by people who have actually bought one is “it doesn’t run my Windows software”.  This is primarily down to Microsoft’s marketing people who failed to convey to customers that Windows RT is in fact not Windows (in the traditional sense).  In fact they should never had called it Windows in the first place to differentiate it from the traditional Windows software. Either way Microsoft made a balls up in the name.

Naming aside though Windows RT (especially 8.1 on the Surface 2) is a lovely OS to use.  A client bought a Surface 2 just before christmas and they love it.  I got to set up Office 365 and Skydrive on it and was very impressed by the hardware and the OS itself (Windows 8 does work with touchscreens).  The inclusion of Office is a real bonus for actually getting work done especially when Office is still the defacto standard in a business environment.

This is the market Microsoft should be aiming the Surface 2 squarely at.  The Surface 2 can print, includes a full Office suite and has the battery to last all day.  Yes the lack of Apps in the Windows Store is a real limitation but how many businesses really use apps? The other bonus is that while not being “real” Windows Windows RT feels familiar even though it differs from Windows 8.  If you can already use Windows 8.1 on a laptop or PC there is very little you wont be able to do on a Surface 2.

If you use the Surface 2 for what it was designed for (ie work) you wont be disappointed. Try and use it for playing around on or comparing it to an iPad then you will.

If you want (or need) the full Windows experience on a tablet then stump up the cash and go for a Surface Pro 2.  If you just want to get some work done using a tablet go for the Surface 2 instead and pocket the change.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

Passwords People!!

Passwords. Everyone uses them and everyone hates using them but like it or not they are essential to protecting your data (offline or online).  I had a customer earlier this week who learnt this the hard way.


Said customer had a brand new Windows 8 laptop  which he used for both work and home.  He had set up a login password which he wrote down on a postit note and stuck in his desk draw in his study (he said he could never remember them).

I got the call this week to try and recover some files off his laptop as someone had reset it back to factory settings.  It turns out that one of his kids was playing around on the system and inadvertently set the laptop back to factory settings hence wiping all the data. When I asked him how they gained access, the culprit popped their head around the door and said “Dad always uses password for his password”.  I had to try really hard not to smile.

Luckily my client had a backup of his data stored at his works premises which he had forgotten about and the file he was looking for was still on it.

You need passwords to protect your data but just as important is your password must be something that is not easily guessed. And what ever happens do not store it in your desk. My client was very lucky, you may not be!!

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Perth.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

Windows 8 – Good stuff and niggles


At the moment every spare second in the working day is spent studying for my MCSA in Windows 8.  Since I already hold the MCSA in Windows 7 all I have to do is pass the upgrade exam.  There is no point in just learning for the exam so I am also getting my hands very dirty under the hood.  This has allowed me to have a look at all the changes and decide what I think is a good idea and which of those are absolutely rubbish (don’t worry this is not another Windows 8 review but my own personal preferences).

First the good stuff.

Boot time is bloody fast.  Under the hood (for the most part) it is still Windows 7 and having the ability to pin all my applications to the Start screen and actually group them is a real bonus.  Then there is the ability to configure storage pools and file history which I think are really good ideas.

Now the other stuff.

Why change the way a user enters Safe Mode? I know they sacrificed the old BIOS for boot speed but in doing so they have also made a simple task MUCH more complicated. Before Windows 8 you simply pressed the F8 key at startup (nice and simple) but now there is variety of ways to enter it with most only being an option when inside the operating system. Why oh why?

Next is the BIOS and this to me is the biggest ‘niggle’ with Windows 8 (I am seeing this from a system admin point of view and not a user and personally I like the Start Screen anyway!!)

Sent to the grave are F2, Delete or F12 for entering the BIOS and instead we have PC Settings, holding down the shift key while restarting the system or a command which can be run from the command line.  All of these options are available when Windows 8 is running.  I can fully understand why the old BIOS setup wouldn’t work with Windows 8 but the new one is not upto the job and the following scenario will illustrate my point.

I had a customer last week who had a pretty bad virus on his system.  The system would boot as per normal but once up an running it slowed to a crawl.  Using the mouse became a chore and carrying out any simple task was not an option.  For instance he couldn’t select restart but instead had to hold down the power button instead.  Usually I would boot the system with a Linux Rescue CD and then remove the virus but this is not possible with Windows 8 unless you enter the BIOS and change the boot order. Guess what? I couldn’t access the BIOS as the system was running that slow.  I had to remove the hard drive and plug it into another system and clean it out that way instead.  This may not sound like a big deal but it makes a techs job just that little bit longer and fiddly which will cost the customer money.

Overall I like Windows 8 but one thing that comes apparent when using it for a while is that some things have changed for what feels like little gain.  Windows 8 doesn’t feel finished yet and hopefully Windows 8.1 will address some of these issues (don’t miss the start button either).

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Perth.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

 

Where does Microsoft go from here?


Last week Steve Ballmer the CEO of Microsoft, the man everyone seams to loathe, told the world he will be stepping down within 12 months. This is the man who oversaw the catastrophe that was Windows Vista, brought us Windows 7 and the yet to be proven Windows 8 while at the same time also increased Microsoft’s profits.  Whatever you think of Ballmer he did line the pockets of his shareholders.

The question though is what happens now? As good as Microsoft’s profits are they are a company who desperately needs leadership. Are they now a hardware, software or services company as at the moment even Microsoft doesn’t seam to know.

Microsoft built up its empire based solely on the Windows software and for years this worked for them.

Times however are changing.  Consumers are buying less PC’s and laptops and turning instead to tablets and smartphones. Microsoft was late to the mobile party and at the moment doesn’t seam to have a coherent mobile strategy.  Instead of trying to put Windows 8 on everything they should position Windows RT as THE mobile platform.  Coupled with a strong Windows store they could start to make inroads in the same way that Apple has done with iOS and the App store. Windows RT was never meant to run traditional windows applications but the marketing people at Microsoft failed to convey this to consumers.  Windows 8 should be a desktop OS for PC’s and laptops.  Forget trying to get everyone onto tablets that run a full version of Windows and instead concentrate on your core market.  Leave tablets to Windows RT as no one asked for tablets or touchscreen laptops with Windows 8 on them.

The market is also turning towards cloud based services and it is here that Microsoft has a strong  basis with its Windows Azure and Hyper V platforms.  If they keep developing these then they could start to take market share away from the likes of VMWare and AWS.

Then you have Windows Phone 8.  While slowly starting to gain market share it should be more closely developed alongside Windows RT (the same as Apple does with iOS). It couldn’t hurt to sign up more manufacturers either.

All of the above are issues that the incoming CEO needs to sort and quickly to keep Microsoft relevant in todays tech world while also keeping profits coming in.  Personally I would n’t want that job. Would you?

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

Is Windows XP dead? Not by a long shot!!


April 8th 2014. Put that date in your diary as it is the date all support for Windows XP ends. You must be thinking “so what consumers and businesses will have upgraded to either Windows 7 or 8 by then surely”. Or will they?

Current statistics show that Windows XP is currently the second most used operating system on the planet with 37.17% share. Yes its share is dropping month on month but at the current rate it could still be the second or third most used operating system when support ends next year (depends on if Windows 8 finally starts making inroads). So why is that?

In most peoples minds XP “just works”.  They have become so used to it that they don’t want to upgrade unless their hardware dies and they have no choice.  I regularly see PC’s with XP installed which are 6-8 years old which the customer would rather clean up and keep working rather than upgrade to a new one and lose XP.

In the business environment things are much different.  Here applications have been written specifically for XP and businesses are very loathe to upgrade and possibly lose them.  At present Windows 8 is no goer for a lot of businesses so Windows 7 is their only upgrade option.  Even though they have an upgrade option a lot of businesses will still turn to running Windows XP inside virtual machines just to keep their old software running.

A lot of this problem is down to Microsoft themselves.  When Vista turned out to be a complete disaster they extended Windows XP’s lifecycle to counteract the possibly of consumers and businesses turning to OS X and Linux. It worked but it also had the side effect of making people reluctant to upgrade when Windows 7 came out.  If Microsoft has any sense it wont make them same mistake with Windows 8 (even if it turns out to be a dog like Vista).

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!

 

 

 

 

What next for Microsoft?


Windows RT is dead, maybe not literally but not far off it.  It was Microsoft’s attempt to take on iOS and Android on consumer tablets and to say it didn’t catch on is an understatement (I did try it once and thought it was pretty good).   It was designed to run apps from the Windows Store in the same way that Android and IOS devices do and for some reason consmuers just didn’t get it (bad marketing perhaps?). They also called it Windows which was a bad idea as Windows is synonymous with PC’s and people expected to run their full Windows applications on it.  When they couldn’t Microsoft got a huge backlash but Windows RT was never designed with that in mind.  With Windows RT now going the way of the dodo what next for Microsoft?

At the moment Microsoft doesn’t have a viable option in the consumer tablet market (7 and 10 inch tablets) and this could hurt them in the long run.   The full version of Windows 8 is not a viable option as it is designed to run on hardware much more powerful than a 7 inch tablet. They could go down the route of adapting Windows Phone 8 to run on a tablet which would be a much better option.  Using Windows Phone 8 would also give them the advantage of no misunderstanding with the consumer on what software could be run on the tablet.

But the bigger problem for Microsoft could be the connection between the PC and Windows. PC sales are plummeting and with it Microsoft’s profits will also start to fall.  The PC will not disappear altogether as businesses will still be using them, however in the consumer market they are getting replaced by tablets and smartphones.  If they want to stay relevant in the consumer market they need to come up with a solution for the post PC era and quickly.  At the moment think tablets and you think of iPads and Android.  Windows is not even on the radar.

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know!!

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!

 

CyberChimps
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers

WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera
WP Like Button Plugin by Free WordPress Templates