Windows 8

It has been over 72 hours since Windows 8 officially went on sale and Dr. Data has yet to get a copy for his test machine. While that should come later this week, he is nonetheless enjoying the post launch buzz – both pro and con. For example Dan Costa from PC Magazine claims that Windows 8 Is Too Big to Fail.  Dr. Data remembers that being said about Wall St. and Banks as recently as 5 years ago and we all know what happened after that, don’t we. Dan reasons that Microsoft still dominates the market despite Apple’s growth to 13% and – as much as I hate to say it – the minuscule 1.5% that Linux owns. Since Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, stated that there were 670,000,000 Windows PCs just a-waiting to be upgraded, Dan  claims that Windows 8 has become the new standard – apparently by default – overnight. OK, but Dr. Data remembers when Vista was the next big thing and  . . . well . . . you know the rest.

Meanwhile, Matthew Murray – also writing in PC Magazine – argues that Windows 8 is a Desktop Disaster and bewails loading it on his PC over the weekend. Like Dr. Data, he feels that Redmond gas given short shrift to traditional desktop and laptop users. Though Matthew and Dr. Data are no longer in the Windows target market – in the same way that hiring managers believe that people over 50 no longer exist – there are still a whole heck of a lot of us out there. Windows Vista was little more than a damp squib until Service Pack 2 came along and the same fate may befall Windows 8. By the time that Microsoft released that service pack, Vista  had gained such a bad reputation that the damage was almost irreparable.  When Windows 7 came out, there was much rejoicing and history may indeed repeat itself with the majority of those millions and millions of PCs that Steve Ballmer mentioned holding out for Windows 9. Until then, Windows 7 is most likely the new standard.

Microsoft strutted its stuff today beginning at 11:15 AM EDT. On the whole, it was not a bad presentation. There was a healthy dose of self-congratulation but without the competitor bashing that has come to be a hallmark of Apple announcements/launches. Apple’s leadership may know everything – or at least think they do – but, realistically, they know nothing of sportsmanship. Of course, the announcements/launches are meant to rally the faithful and Microsoft does that as much as Apple or Google. The difference is that Apple events have all the religious fervor of a tent revival. But I digress.

Both outside the auditorium and on stage as well, there was a veritable plethora of Windows 8 devices indicating:

  1. That manufacturers have decided that it’s time to start innovating again
  2. That manufacturers really don’t have a clue as to which devices and form factors are going to be a hit with consumers.

PC makers will be doing a lot of experimenting – and holding their collective breath – over the next 15 months because not all of these Windows 8 devices are going to sell well enough to see two holiday seasons. Dr. Data suggests that if you’re just itching to buy a Windows 8 Device, it would probably best to take a conservative approach and buy something in a traditional form factor – like a basic tablet or notebook – rather than bet the farm on some eye-catching device that will be discontinued before you can say “Bob’s your uncle”. Manufacturers may swear on the proverbial stack of bibles that they will offer first class support for this or that discontinued device for the next three to five years but the reality is that often support of orphaned devices winds up at the back of the bus.

Today’s presentation was more about Windows 8 and less about the Surface RT. While Microsoft has suddenly become a competitor in the tablet arena, Steve Ballmer and Steven Sinofsky were nonetheless quite cordial and complimentary to their Windows 8 partners and manufacturers. Microsoft simply wants to sell Windows 8 rather than create a race of zombies.

A lot was said about Windows 8 on tablets and notebooks and rather less about Windows 8 on the traditional desktop PC. There is no getting away from the fact that Windows 8 was made for touch and while it will work just fine on a desktop, it will simply not be the same experience. What tweaks, adjustments and add-on’s – in both software and hardware – are made available over the coming months remain to be seen.

It’s Digest Time!

Here’s a compilation of articles – mostly from c|net – about Windows 8 and the Surface RT:

  • Don’t Hate Windows 8 – The UK’s Matt Baxter-Reynolds explains that Windows 8 may take some getting used to but it may well be the  best OS ever made by anyone.
  • Windows 8 Forces A Steep Learning Curve c|net’s full review of Windows 8.
  • Innovative tablet stranded in an app desert Eric Franklin believes that in addition to the RT having sluggish performance, Windows App Store is a ghost town with tumbleweed rolling down the middle of main street. It has been claimed for weeks now that there are relatively few apps for the RT and most of them are rubbish. While that may be so, Dr. Data has had experience with Apples App Store and he can attest to the fact that a goodly number of those apps are rubbish as well.
  • Dueling bloggers –Ed Bott and Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols square off over the success of the Surface RT.
  • More Microsoft hardware on the way Steve Ballmer has confirmed that Microsoft plans to introduce additional hardware offerings. Do the include a 7″ Surface RT?
  • And finally . . . – Apple’s CEO weighs in on the Surface RT.

I’m sitting here, basking in the glow of a well-received book review, and for some reason I hear the voice of launch control in the back of my mind. Microsoft’s launch of Windows 8 and the Surface RT tablet kicks off at 11:15 EDT and while I’m trying to take an impartial, objective view of Win 8 & the RT, it will nonetheless be a bit exciting to see and hear what Steve Ballmer will have to say at the event. Apple has already shown its hand and Google’s hastily arranged event is next week. Microsoft has had dibs on this week for months and now it is their turn in the spotlight.

I plan to have some analysis of all this for you bright and early tomorrow morning.


Only a couple of interesting bits today and they both deal with tablets.

  • The term “post-PC” device has been bandied about recently and you may be wondering just WHAT a  “post-PC” device is. Matt Baxter-Reynolds, a UK-based software development consultant, has penned an excellent analysis in which he concluded that a post-PC device is

a lightweight device that’s used for one’s relationships and personal life, not for work.

   Read the full article on ZDNet.

  • Microsoft will be launching Windows 8 and its new Surface tablet in a little over two weeks from now. More than one analyst has observed that apps (applications) for the RT model – and Windows 8 in general – will be few and of mediocre quality. Microsoft’s VP for Sales and Marketing has announced that he expects that 100,000 Windows 8 Apps will be available by the beginning of February, 2013 and that 400 million people will be using Windows 8 devices by July of that year. Is he the Oracle of Delphi or is he just blowing smoke? Read what Charlie Osborne wrote about this on ZDNet.

Here’s what we have for today:

  • Apple’s iOS maps get better – Apple has been quietly improving  the data returned by the iOS 6 Maps application. Good news for those using the latest version of the OS, but shouldn’t this have been done BEFORE  both iPhone 5 & iOS 6 launched? Dr. Data depends on maps from his iPhone and wonky data is the last thing he needs. Was it because Apple wanted to get its latest phone out there in time for holiday shopping or did someone drop the ball in QC? Read the full story from Tech Republic.
  • Apple in a post-Jobs world – It’s been a year since Steve Jobs ascended in to passed away and there have been ups and downs for the company. There are two articles that are worth reading if you follow the goings-on in Cupertino. The first is from ZDNet and the second is from PC Magazine.
  • Win 8 Kill Switch: Threat or Menace? – If you’re contemplating moving up to Windows 8 anytime soon, this may give you reason to think again. Windows 8 includes a “kill switch” which allows the remote editing of applications and the deletion of  software and possibly data. Is this Nirvana for hackers? Read what John C. Dvorak in PC Magazine has to say.
  • Windows 8 is available before its time – – the online arm of the Home Shopping Network began offering PC’s with Windows 8 installed and ready to go. Before you decide to jump the gun, you should note that the machines are loaded with Crap-ware. These are applications that come pre-installed on a new machine and usually include a lot of things that you may not want as well as “trial versions” of software. Read the full story on ZDNet.
  • Samsung’s Apple “attack ad” – If the political season wasn’t bad enough, Samsung is airing an attack ad that touts the technological superiority of its latest   smartphone over the iPhone 5. does a bit of fact-checking for you.

Here’s a few items for today’s digest:

  • HP has announced a “true” business tablet. No it’s not an updated version of its TouchPad; A great tablet that fell victim to stupid business decisions. The HP ElitePad 900 will run Windows 8 and is  1.4 millimeters thicker & .2 lbs heavier than the iPad 3; A minuscule difference that Apple’s marketing department will no doubt exploit. Release is set for January, 2013 and will most likely be competitively priced with Microsoft’s Surface tablet. HP’s newest product is reviewed by both ZDNet and C|NET.
  • Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, has issued an apology over the less than stellar performance of its iOS 6 Maps application in which he admits that the company fell short of delivering a world-class product. Mr. Cook also took the unprecedented step of suggesting that users try one of the competing mapping applications until Apple Maps is ready for prime time. Read the full article.
  • If you’re gobsmacked at the though of Apple apologising for an underachieving product, you should be cognisant of the fact that this is not the first time that Cupertino has cried mea culpa. Read the full story of Apple’s lamentations.

The release date for Windows 8 is lest than a month away and a lot of the brouhaha seems to have settled down since there is nothing to do now but wait. Reports from those privileged enough to have seen the version that was released to manufacturing indicate that things are pretty much as they were in the consumer preview released earlier this year. If those reports are indeed correct, it means that Microsoft failed to come to its senses and did not include the option for a Start Menu to be used by those of us who have PC’s or Laptops.

[ws_table id=”1″]

This is a new feature of The Parsons Rant. Quite often, there are news items in the computing press where the article is short, everything that you need to know is contained within the article itself and there’s not much that Dr. Data can add in the way of commentary. So, rather than having 3 very short posts, Dr. Data will combine these small bits into one big byte. These digests won’t be a daily or even weekly occurrence but they will appear as situations warrant.

Now that that’s settled, let’s get on with today’s bits and bobs.

Google’s Sub-Aquatic Street View

A good many of us know and love Google Maps and find it extremely helpful to see a street view of the address. Google has unveiled a new feature that will allow you to see a “street” view” of what’s under the water starting with the Great Barrier Reef. There is no word at this time if places of interest will be marked such as Neptune’s Palace, sunken treasure or mermaid hang-outs. Apple’s maps currently place Neptune’s palace in the vicinity of [ANYTHING-POPUP:3].

See the full article.

Siri Still Causing Problems

Not all of the problems with Siri have been resolved in the release of  iOS 6. Reports are coming in that something must be askew in how Siri processes location information as it is delivering inaccurate weather forecasts. Ask it for the weather in NYC and you just might get the current conditions in Boomer, NC.

See the full article.

Has Apple Lost Touch?

As long as we’re taking potshots at Apple, one blogger is beginning to think that Apple is dropping the ball more and more since Steve Jobs’ departure.

See the full article.

 New Beta Version of START 8 Released

Stardock Corporation has released a new beta version of its START 8 menu feature for Windows 8. Dr. Data will be going into the labs at Parsonage Data Services later today to take at look for himself.

Learn more at


Microsoft has an uphill battle on its hands. Apple’s iPad owns 80% of the market. The other 20 % belongs to Samsung’s Galaxy offerings, Google’s Nexus 7, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, etc. and etc.  The market floor is littered with also-rans and products that got off the launch-pad – like HP’s TouchPad – but were aborted in mid-flight.

With the advent of the touch-centric Windows 8 operating system and the Surface tablet range, Microsoft is going to have to come out swinging if they want to have a decent chance of making a significant dent in the market, let alone Apple’s iPad behemoth. Of course, there are Microsoft loyalists who face Redmond twice a day in prayer just as there are Apple Loyalists who face Cupertino and threaten jihad against anyone who suggests that even a few i-Products may be behind the technological curve. To be sure, those hard-core loyalists will help to boost sale of the Surface tables when the first one makes its debut a month from now but what about the long-term? suggests that one of Microsoft’s secret weapons could be the ubiquitous MS Office.

Redmond has already announced that they will release a version of Office 13 that will run on the Surface RT which is based on the ARM processor platform. This is a good thing because at the moment, RT-compatible apps are few and far between. The RT version of Office 13 will be a tablet-optomised version of the Home & Student edition that contains Word, Excel, Power Point and OneNote, the greatest little application that you’ve probably never even heard of.  To the continuing chagrin of all who purchase Home & Student, this version does not include the indispensable Outlook application and that tradition will continue with Office RT. Whether there will be a RT compatible version of Outlook available as a separate purchase remains to be seen.

Office RT will come bundled with the Surface RT tablet and will not be available as a stand-alone product. As to whether or not this is a good thing, only time will tell. However, a tablet that already comes with most of the features from the world’s most popular office suite could well give Microsoft a competitive edge amongst new tablet purchasers as well as those who have been sitting on the fence waiting for a truly viable iPad alternative to come along. We’ll see in a little over a month.

Suggested Reading:

The article from about the RT-Office combination

Microsoft’s Office blog which talks about Office-RT

Microsoft has confirmed that it will hold the official launch for Windows 8 on October 25th in New York City. Readers should be advised that this is not the same as the date that Windows 8 will be available commercially. Launch dates are usually big, splashy parties for the media so a company can announce that its long-awaited product is finally here.

Sometimes, launch/announcement events can backfire as happened with Apple very recently. The boys from Cupertino made the formal announcement that the iPhone Five is here – and there was much rejoicing – and then subsequently announced that the delivery date was being pushed back. Of course, this came as a major disappointment to the legions of Apple fanatics who had planned to stand on line – for days if necessary – outside the nearest Apple store so that they could be among the first to have one. (Apple is missing a golden opportunity by not selling tents, sleeping bags and umbrellas stamped with the corporate logo.)

Windows 8 will be commercially available – which means that ordinary folks like you and I can buy it – the following day on Oct. 26th. Those of you who have downloaded the customer preview of Windows 8 should be advised that the demo OS will cease to work on that day. (There is no such thing as a free lunch.) Microsoft will also make the RT version of its Surface tablet commercially available on that date, just in time for the holidays. It should be an interesting Autumn.

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