GEEK! has been placed on an indefinite hold for the foreseeable future as I've ran out of time to keep it up to date. For the mean time it will remain alive at this address in archive form. You can reach me via @geekonthepc. Thanks to everyone who read and got involved with the site! Who knows - when I get the chance I might start posting again! Wish me luck at Oxford Brookes University studying Mobile Computing! :)
Quick note: Really sorry I haven’t blogged for a while – been busy with other things! Will try and keep a vague schedule for posts going.
I read in the news recently that Microsoft are stripping back some of the built in features that will be included in Windows 8. Windows 8 is Microsoft’s new flagship operating system that is expected to reach computer screens in the last quarter of 2012.
Two things came to my attention as I read these two (one & two) blog posts by Microsoft.
First of all, Windows Media Center is going to be an extra add-on to Windows 8. This means, unlike Windows 7, you’ll have to pay for it on top of the price of the core OS if you want – no matter whether you have the home or pro version of Windows 8. Whilst this won’t bother most people, for anyone using TV tuners on their computer (ie me), this could be a huge downfall. Media Center has a fantastic interface for TV and the EPG is great too – so I’ll be rather peeved if I have to pay for Media Center.
Secondly, Windows 8 will not be able to natively play DVDs or Blu-Ray discs. Why, you ask? Well, I’m not sure, but it does make some kind of sense to an extent. The key idea of Windows 8 is that it will be usable on tablets – which, in most (if not all) cases, won’t have a DVD or Blu-Ray drive – so Microsoft are probably thinking they don’t need to waste money on licensing codecs to decode the discs. However, this is no good for anybody who is planning to use Windows 8 on a laptop or a desktop.
I fear that Microsoft are going to fall into the same trap with Windows 8 as they did with Windows Vista/7. Windows 8 will be fantastic on new devices that have it preinstalled, but Microsoft will face the backlog of people using their existing machines with Windows 7. Then, years after Windows 8 has launched, there will still be a vast majority of people on older operating systems that are still supported.
At the moment, I can’t see any huge reason to upgrade to Windows 8. There’s nothing in it for me that stands out and makes me think “I really want that”.
Ah well, Windows 7 is going to be supported until 2020, so I think I’ll stick with that for now.
As you may have been reading in the news, Microsoft has recently agreed to purchase the popular VoIP service Skype. After a couple of previous acquisitions in the past, Microsoft has made it’s biggest purchase – this time worth well over $8 billion.
Before I even start, I think it’s fair to say that this is either going to be a monumental win or a catastrophic fail – one or the other.
The question is, what will Microsoft do with Skype? Obviously, Skype certainly hasn’t been in the green lately – it’s debts have definitely been on the rise. So, Microsoft have evidently got to make a few considerable changes – otherwise the rather large purchase will become rather a large waste of money – even on Microsoft’s terms!
I can imagine Microsoft will probably implement increased charges for the paid services. However, I do hope that Microsoft will lower the charges for features in Skype that could potentially become very popular – such as group video calling. I happen to think that group video calling was a very well implemented feature into Skype – but unfortunately Skype started charging ridiculous amounts of money for it. If Microsoft lowered charges to £1-2 per month, I would probably consider purchasing it.
The other big question is whether they will continue to support all of the operating systems that Skype currently supports. Microsoft has never really supported Linux and people are starting to ask if Microsoft will drop support for it. Personally, it wouldn’t surprise me hugely if they did – but it would be a real shame.
The sale probably won’t finalise for another few months at least, so we’ll just have to wait and see what changes Microsoft will inevitably implement. In the mean time, enjoy Skype in it’s current form while you can!
Internet Explorer 9 went live in the early hours of today after a year of development. You can grab the new version from http://www.microsoft.com/ie9.
After a relatively quick installation, you are presented with the new interface (see below).
There are several issues with IE9 that I haven’t really liked since the Platform Preview. For example, I’m really not sure why Microsoft bothered to make it so that tabs appear on the same row as the web address. On a low resolution display such as a netbook, this becomes extremely frustrating when you can’t see the titles of your open tabs. This can be fixed by right clicking on the title bar and selecting ‘Show tabs on a separate row’ but I’d rather it did this by default.
On the plus side, launch time definitely seems to have improved and seems to be relatively comparable to Google Chrome.
Doing an acid3 test on IE9 will give you a result of 93/100, which isn’t perfect – but isn’t awful. The latest version of Chrome will give an acid3 result of 100/100.
Whilst it still is no comparison to Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox (and probably won’t ever be), it has to be said that there have been several improvements. Sadly, Internet Explorer’s rendering system has always been a let-down to me as it just isn’t half as good as Webkit or Gecko.
It has been confirmed by Microsoft that on February 22nd, 2011, the new service pack for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will go live.
The service pack has been in testing for several months, but Microsoft has previously said that it won’t really bring any new functionality (for Windows 7 at least). Microsoft admitted that the service pack is merely a combination of various updates that have already been released.
“For Windows 7, SP1 will help keep your PCs well supported by delivering ongoing updates, many of which have been made previously available through Windows Update.” – Windows Blog
Windows Server 2008 R2 users will see more fixes in the service pack and a couple of new features.
If you’re a Technet or MSDN subscriber, you can grab the update from February 16th.
Well, today marks one year since Microsoft launched Windows 7 to the general public.
By the sounds of it, Windows 7 has been a great success from Microsoft – after the dismal performance of Windows Vista. Windows 7 (as of September 2010) has a market share of 17% which is pretty amazing for 12 months on the market.
I’ve had Windows 7 since launch day and I have been extremely impressed with it. If you haven’t already given it a spin, you could be really missing out as it definitely performs much better than Vista and has considerably better features than XP.
Users of XP still don’t seem to be giving up just yet, though. Although XP’s market share is dropping rapidly, it still (as of September 2010) has just over 60% of the market share – so it still has some way to go. With basic security support for XP not due to expire until 2014, I don’t think too many will be rushing to upgrade their existing PCs.