Hooray! This week, Microsoft reversed its very conservative Flash policy for Windows 8 and Windows RT. The previous policy required Flash developers to certify their applications and have them added to Microsoft’s Compatibility View List. This was frustrating to me as a Surface RT early-adopter. Many Flash sites didn’t work. And I’m not talking about small-time Flash sites from random developers. I’m talking about large-scale, reputable sites like LogMeIn.com.
Luckily, Microsoft decided to convert its Compatibility View List from a white-list to a black-list. Now, all Flash websites will work in IE10 in Windows 8 and RT unless they have been explicitly banned.
In the long-term, I don’t think this is big news, as I see Flash being replaced slowly and surely by HTML5. I definitely see this as a win for RT in the short-term, though. Not being able to install alternate browsers or software really puts RT users at the mercy of Microsoft, and while it obviously had the best of intentions, the certification process was causing more harm than good. Kudos to Microsoft for realizing this and easing the restriction. As a Surface RT user, I appreciate it!
Read more about the policy change here.
Rumors are flying that Microsoft will release the Pro version of its Surface tablet this month. The most interesting news I’ve seen on the topic is that Office 2013 won’t be included. As an MSDN subscriber, this wouldn’t be a big deal for me. However, I’d be pretty annoyed as a regular consumer.
Taking off my techie hat for a moment, it doesn’t make any sense. I can buy RT, a “lite” version of Windows, and get a free version of Office. Alternatively, I can pay $300 more for the Pro version that gives me less capability out of the box. If I want Office, I have to pay even more.
Now, putting my techie hat back on, I understand that the Pro version gives you a full version of Windows, and that’s what you’re paying for. You can install your old copy of Office 2003 or download a free alternative like OpenOffice.org–something you can’t do with Surface RT. If Microsoft didn’t provide Office with RT, there would be no offline alternative available, and that would be a huge problem. That said, it still seems like a silly move to me. Think about every feature graph you’ve ever seen that compares different versions of a product: the checkmarks usually don’t disappear as you move to the “advanced” versions.
The reality is that Surface Pro is intended for business and professional users. The Home & Student version of Office that ships with Surface RT probably isn’t sufficient for them, and they’d likely upgrade to a better version of Office anyway. So why not throw the average Joe User a bone and include a free version of Office? Is this just another example of corporate greed? It sure feels like it.
On a lighter, less-ranty note, I’m very curious to see how Surface Pro users will really use their tablets. I convinced myself that the things that appealed to me with Pro weren’t realistic uses. I’d love to install Visual Studio, but I’m not going to sit down and develop applications on it. I’d like to install Photoshop, but I’m not going to be editing graphics on it. Or… maybe I would, and I’m just trying to convince myself that I hastily made the right decision by opting to not wait for Surface Pro. I’m also interested in the difference in battery life, as that was another key justification in my decision to go with RT. I think I have a few co-workers that are ready to pull the trigger on a Pro as soon as it’s available, so I should have answers to these questions soon.
I’d been using Office 2013 Preview since August, and, while there have been hiccups here and there, I’ve been very happy with it. Last week, the RTM version was released to MSDN subscribers. (I think it will not reach general availability until Q1 2013.) I was excited to get my hands on it, so I downloaded and upgraded right away.
My only disappointment in the upgrade experience is that I couldn’t go directly from Preview to RTM, but that wasn’t completely unexpected. I uninstalled and installed the new version. Everything went smoothly.
I’ve been using it for a week now. I haven’t noticed any new features in the RTM version that weren’t in Preview, but there are a few “quirks” that have been fixed. The biggest bug that I’d been dealing with in Preview was in Excel: when you clicked a drop-down in a cell, the options would display in the upper-left corner instead of at the cell. This has been fixed in RTM. Another gripe I had in Preview was about the read-only, “Preview Mode” version of Word that opens when you open a Word document attachment from an email. This is still there, but pushing the ESC key takes it out of Preview Mode and back into the standard, edit view. So that’s good!
Everything else has felt really polished and very slick, and I haven’t seen anything that I’ve perceived as a bug, flaw, or unintentional.
I’m definitely loving the new version!
As I was catching up on my current events on CNN, I noticed an interesting headline on their bottom line: “Microsoft replaces Hotmail with Outlook.com.” After I missed out on the ideal Twitter name, I made a decision to always sign up for new services right away regardless of how much I think I’ll use them. So, with the announcement of Outlook.com, I wanted to get over there ASAP and stake my claim! Unfortunately, “email@example.com” was already taken, but I still took the chance to look around and explore some of the features.
Overall, the UI is quite nice. It feels very crisp and clean, much like the upcoming Office 2013. I wasn’t a Hotmail user, but my Live account was already setup for it, although I wasn’t receiving any email since I hadn’t connected any of my existing email accounts. As I said before, my goal was to get my “@outlook.com” email addresses, and it took me a minute to figure out how. You need to click “More mail settings” under the configuration menu in the upper right corner, and then click “Create a Outlook alias.” (C’mon, Microsoft–do a grammar check! Create an Outlook alias!) You’ll be taken to a screen with a [textbox]@outlook.com prompt, and you can claim your name. Note that you can create multiple aliases, so you may want to grab firstname.lastname and firstnamelastname or whatever other nicknames you might want. (I was hoping they’d make period placement in email addresses irrelevant like gmail, but it appears they didn’t.)
I’ve only spent a few minutes with it at this point, but here’s what I like so far:
- Multiple @outlook.com aliases
- Drag and drop messages and folders
- Keyboard shortcuts
- Clean UI/look and feel
If you’re a fan of the offline Outlook experience, you’ll probably really like Outlook.com. It’s definitely worth checking out!
I have been a Windows Phone user since WP7 was released at the end of last year. From the very beginning, there have been rumors of updates coming in Janurary, February, March… but now, on the brink of April, I’m still yet to get any updates.
I’m not upset about the delay because I really don’t have any major gripes and am generally happy with my phone. At the same time, I want them updates!
Last week, I was excited to see Microsoft introduce a “Where’s my phone update?” site where you can check on the status of the phone updates by region and phone model. This is great because I can check the website periodically to see when it moves out of Testing, to Scheduling, and finally to Delivering Update.
Here’s the link: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-us/features/update-schedules.aspx