Posts tagged Windows 8

Microsoft enables Windows 8 Flash support in IE 10

Windows 8 users who often encountered broken websites due to Flash content being blocked in Internet Explorer 10 are in for some relief.

Microsoft says the latest version of IE 10, now available, will display Flash videos and games by default.

Flash content was always available for anyone who used the browser in Windows’ ‘Desktop mode’ however that meant many of us – myself included – would just use the operating system in the traditional view rather than the “immersive” live-tile view.

The update will also enable Flash for IE 10 on the watered-down version of Windows 8, better known as Windows RT.

In a blog post, IE group program manager Rob Mauceri said they believe that when sites “just work” in the latest web browser, the experience is better for everyone involved. Fantastic move – finally.

So why did they limit Flash content to sites on a special list in the first place? Apparently, that move was to improve performance.

Flash wasn’t completely banned on Windows 8. Websites could get themselves on a so-called ‘Compatibility View’ list which enabled site-specific content. To get on the list, developers had to prove their site didn’t hurt a computer’s responsiveness, performance and battery life.

At the same time, Flash is problematic when it comes to web security, with anti-virus firms like Kaspersky often finding bugs and exploitable holes.

Then again, is any web browser ever secure? Apparently not.

Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer were compromised at the annual Pwn2Own hacker conference. According to a blog post from Sophos, all three browsers were cracked.

Which web browser do you prefer to use?

 

Pokki App for Windows 8 brings back the start button

Looking for the coveted Start button in Windows 8? You won’t find it, unless you get this app.

Pokki adds start button-like functionality to Windows 8 when in Desktop mode, adding all the usual menus you’re accustomed to in Windows 7 and previous versions.

You can access your apps, other documents and search for files from within the Pokki start menu.

Pokki also lets you download and install apps from their parent company, such as an app that lets you check your Instagram feed and another for Facebook.

 

Review: Microsoft Surface Pro a mixed bag

Microsoft Surface Pro, with the Surface Pen, appears in this supplied photo,

Microsoft Surface Pro, with the Surface Pen, appears in this supplied photo,

When Microsoft rolled out Windows 8, it did so alongside its first tablet – the Surface.

But that device wasn’t running the most powerful hardware, and the operating system was actually a watered-down version of Windows 8 called Windows RT.

The concept was a good effort, but I was hopeful that a tablet with more horsepower running a full-blown version of the operating system would be better.

Here we are, a few months later, and Microsoft has rolled out the Surface Pro. With more power under the hood and an operating system that can run Windows 8 apps along with traditional Windows 7 programs, is the Pro any good – and is it better than the basic Surface?

For those not familiar with the Surface, it’s a tablet with a little (and sturdy) kick stand that helps it stand at a slight angle on its own. Users can use a keyboard to type and click away at things. When it’s not a necessity, the keyboard can snap off or fold backward.

The Surface Pro has significantly faster hardware behind its rock-solid VapourMg case. Behind the 10.6-inch screen sits an Intel Core i5 processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000, the same type of computing brains you’d find in many laptops and desktops. Microsoft has this tablet configured with 4 GB of RAM.

There’s no spinning hard drive – the Surface Pro is available with either a 64 GB or 128 GB SSD drive that helps the device boot up and restore in almost no time at all.

But going back to the case, the Surface Pro has actually gained a bit of weight to fit in all the hardware. It’s not as easy to hold for long periods of time, but it’s still lighter than a laptop.

The full HD screen looks great, but it’s almost too small to use comfortably when in Desktop mode. Unfortunately, given the still-fresh selection of apps, I used the Surface Pro in Desktop mode almost 90 per cent of the time.

The other 10 per cent of the time, when I’m either watching full-screen video or using native Windows 8 apps, the display looks fine.

The Microsoft Surface Pro is an improvement on the base Surface. But with a starting price tag of $899 (which doesn’t include the Touch Cover keyboard), the Pro proposition is getting a little expensive.

And then consider what most people may not like with the Surface – you can’t exactly use it as a laptop on your lap. The hinge, though very clever, is not ‘stiff.’ And this means you can’t use it on your lap comfortably while the little kickstand rests on your legs.

Although it’s larger and less travel-friendly, the Lenovo Yoga is a Windows 8 computer that seems to get the format just right.

Much-anticipated Microsoft Surface Pro release date set

Microsoft_Surface_Pro_with_Type_coverMicrosoft announced when the new, powerful version of it’s Surface tablet will be released, as well as details on pricing and other accessories.

In a press release, Microsoft said the Surface Pro will be available in Canada on February 9 for an estimated street price of $899 – the same goes for shoppers in the United States.

The biggest difference between the standard Surface and Surface Pro is the amount of horsepower under the hood.

The Microsoft Surface Pro is running a full-fledged CPU under the hood, so the tablet isn’t running the watered-down Windows RT.

While Windows RT has it’s advantages, such as the ability to run on low-powered computers, it can run traditional software titles or my favourite web browser, Chrome.

Windows Surface Pro is running full-fledged Windows 8, so you can run pretty much whatever you want.

It’ll ship with a powerful Intel Core i5 processor in either 64GB or 128 GB varieties. The Surface Pro also comes with a stylus, designed to help users draw, take hand-written notes or doodle during boring meetings.

I had a chance to play around with the Surface (running Windows RT), and can’t wait to see what the Pro has to offer.

While I was impressed by the rock-solid hardware (watch me drop it) and how nicely the Touch Cover keyboard works – the inability to run traditional apps such as Chrome and VLC held me back. Pro should fix that.

Microsoft also announced new stylish Touch Covers and a mouse.

Do you want the Surface Pro?

How to get more apps in Windows 8 by changing the location

While Microsoft is pumping a lot of money into Windows 8 app development, not all are accessible to Canadians.

It seems many app developers, when selecting the region or their apps, pick the United States instead of the rest of the world…or even North America.

So if you’re in Canada, great magazine apps like Zinio are ruled out. But there is a trick to beat the system that Microsoft hasn’t figured out.

All you need to do is change your region from Canada to the United States.

Here’s how:

  1. Swipe in from the right side and select the search button
  2. Select ‘Settings’ right underneath the search box
  3. Type in ‘location’ and then hit enter to search
  4. Select ‘Change location’ from the search results
  5. Select United States from the drop-down menu and then hit OK

And you’re done!

Note: You might need to close and re-start the Store app before the changes are reflected.

 

Tech I travel with – what’s in my bag?

Laptop, tablet, headphones and smartphones for travel.

Laptop, tablet, headphones and smartphones that are good for travel.

As a big gadget guy, it’s tough for me to leave home without my toys. So what do I bring with me when I travel? And how do I pack light?

Laptop:

You’ll see I pack my Ferrari-red Lenovo Thinkpad x100e. With an 11-inch screen, it’s not the biggest of laptops. But with a keyboard and a 64-bit processor under the hood, it’s a smart laptop that works for me. Other than the awesome colour, the keypad features the classic IBM eraser head-style mouse in the middle of a well-sized keyboard – making it great to type and navigate windows with.

The battery charge is enough to get me across Canada. When it’s not on, I use it’s active power USB port to charge up my next gadget.

Note: The Thinkpad has since been replaced with a Microsoft Windows 8 based Lenovo Yoga, which is yet to make its maiden voyage. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tablet:

I love reading magazines on long flights for two reasons: it’s usually the only time I’ll read, and reading sometimes puts me to sleep (I can’t nap while travelling). The full-size Apple iPad gets the job done for all the right reasons.

It also doubles as a handy device to get caught up on news and email when I’m away from home – and I can find good places to go see (and eat) without having to wait for my laptop to boot up.

I recently took the smaller iPad mini with me on a trip. While the smaller size meant I could break it out while waiting in lines and stash it in a small carry-on bag, the non-Retina display didn’t make it very comfortable for reading.

Headphones:

I used to bring my biggest headphones and blast the music to drown out the drone of jet engines. Then I discovered noise-cancelling headphones.

The sound from my Sennheiser cans sound great – and the noise-cancelling function dramatically cuts down the steady racket of air travel. When it’s time to land, they fold up into a small and stashable carrying case that keeps them protected.

Sunglasses:

It’s important to see the world in all it’s glory -whether you’re out on a patio or carving down the slopes. They’re not the most stylish sunglasses, but my Adidas sport sunglasses do the trick. The polarized lenses also help cut out glare and pump up the colours.

What else?

You might see there’s an LG phone in there. I’m often testing out gadgets, so there’s a good chance I’ll put one to the ultimate test when I’m away from home. Did I mention I really love the LG Optimus G? Ok, there you go. Quad-core power is awesome.

 

Hands-on preview: Microsoft Surface

Microsoft Surface

While Microsoft is launching a major new operating system, it’s also rolling out a major new piece of hardware: Surface.

Like the Xbox, Surface combines hardware and software developed by Microsoft. The company has taken full control over not just the operating system, but the physical device.

At first glance, it looks like just any other tablet, except this one has a 10.6-inch screen that displays 16×9 video beautifully.

Microsoft says a great amount of design has gone into developing the Surface. The batteries, which it claims can last a workday of use, are specifically designed for the Surface and are spread evenly through the device.The two MiMO antennas are designed for optimal connectivity and signal strength, helpful considering how reliant this device is on having a good Internet connection.

During my brief demo period with one, the Wi-Fi connection was being bombarded with traffic from others, rendering the device somewhat useless for connected apps and services.

The Surface feels really solid, however, as it has been made using VaporMg, a magnesium shell prounounced “vapour mag.”

Together with the Gorilla Glass screen, the Surface is the sturdiest consumer tablet out there. Surface team lead Panos Panay says it can be dropped more than 60 ways without the device breaking. I tried three – and had not so much but a scuff on a corner due to the Surface making contact with concrete.

Pricing – starting at $519 in Canada.

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Preview: Acer Iconia W700 tablet makes good sense of Windows 8

Better late than never for Microsoft to launch an operating system that “works” on tablet computers. In this case, Acer has just the PC to help.

I had an opportunity to try Acer’s Iconia W700 tablet before it goes on sale Oct. 26. Like a freshman who did his readings before class, the W700 is set to arrive on scene well-equipped for Windows 8.

Inside the tablet itself, Acer has squeezed in an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i3 processor (a faster i5 chip is also available). No beefed-up mobile phone processor here, this is a proper CPU providing sufficient grunt to plow through a bulk of tasks.

The rest of the hardware is typical of an Ultrabook laptop: configure it with either a 64 GB or 128 GB SSD drive for storage. Plus, there’s a rear-facing 5MP camera if you want to take photos on-the-go.

The 11.6-inch 1920×1080 (full 1080p HD) screen looks great for basic web browsing, watching movies or even reviewing photos.

But where the W700 really shines is with its cradle. Slide it in horizontally as if you were closing a household window, and then you can use this like a normal laptop or desktop using a keyboard, mouse and any other USB accessory you could think of.

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