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Windows 8.1 Update 1 Leaks Early

Microsoft accidentally released the Update 1 for Windows 8.1 this morning. It has since been taken down. However, some folks were able to jump on it and update early. The rest of the public will have to wait until April for the full release. However, those wanting to update to the RTM version of Windows 8.1 Update 1, there are other means to update. Some aren't suggested (torrents, etc.) as they can contain malware within the packages. Some are very legit, but you do take a risk when downloading those.

While the software maker is expected to release the update officially in April, Microsoft has only detailed a few of the features in the update and has not yet provided an official release date. Links to download a final version of the Windows 8.1 Update, thanks to Microsoft’s Windows Update service, have been discovered. A series of patches are required to obtain the full update, but once installed the new desktop-friendly features are enabled.The update can be downloaded via a registry change, or through direct links, but we recommend waiting for Microsoft to officially release it through the normal Windows Update channels in April.

DirectX 12 Coming Soon

Microsoft is teasing the new release of DirectX 12 for Windows. Many have speculated that DirectX was dying and Microsoft was discontinuing the development. Now, it’s finally coming. Now, the speculation of what awesome new features will be coming!

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Are you Running Windows XP?

Are you running Windows XP? Time is running out when it comes to official support from Microsoft. Microsoft has created a website to help you move to a newer edition of Windows, as well as to let you know if you are actually running Windows XP, if you aren't sure. It also has a countdown. 

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10 Stupid Things “Experts” Say About Microsoft

People always have something to say about Microsoft. Some say good things, others say bad things. However, the so called experts in the field, including analysts, always seem to say the stupidest things ever. While some people have their own opinion of Microsoft and their products, they are mostly going off their own experiences and of those people they know. A good selection from Ed Bott shows the top 10 (I can name another 10!) stupid things these experts and analysts say about Microsoft and their products.

In Silicon Valley (and in media satellites that take the NoCal mindset to New York and beyond), everyone has an iPhone, a MacBook Pro, and a Gmail account. Microsoft products and services might as well be from Mars. So be skeptical when you read analyses or predictions of what's coming next from Redmond.

Possible Free Windows 8 OS – Sponsored by Bing?

There are rumors that Microsoft may be going with a free version of Windows 8. Free, but ad supported. This has worked for many products (Juno ISP, Kindle with ads, etc.). As an OS, I'm not sure how many people would be willing to install an OS with adware already installed. I'm sure there will be a few people, but I'm not sure if it's be enough to continue the support for the free version. Of course, I could be wrong and this could be a huge hit among consumers. 

This new SKU, from what my contacts are saying, is key to Microsoft's experimentation with monetization. I hear this SKU has only minor differences from the current Windows 8.1 SKUs, but that it may be a kind of placeholder for the future when consumer operating systems are, basically, free. I'm not sure if this SKU will offer OEMs and/or consumers new Bing-related incentives by the time Update 1 is made available this spring.

Big Upcoming Update for Windows Phone 8.1

The new Windows Phone update, which brings it to Windows Phone 8.1, looks to be a big one and has a lot of new features. Ars has even said it should be a larger update version – to Windows Phone 9, but it it trying to keep in line with the desktop Windows versions. I'm hoping by the time I upgrade to the Nokia Icon, the new update will be available. I am very impressed and happy with my current HTC 8X, but the Icon looks amazing. 

8.1 is set to address a lot of missing user features. Some are much-demanded capabilities. Action Center will provide centralized notification management to see historic alerts, missed notifications, and so on, and it will also provide quick access to things like airplane mode. 8.1 will support different volume settings for music and for notifications. Google Calendars with multiple calendars will be supported. There will be a full-featured podcast app.

Xbox One March Update

Larry Hyrb, otherwise known as Major Nelson, of Microsoft's Xbox division has an interview with the Xbox team regarding the March update to the Xbox One. A lot of very welcome additions. Check out the video for more information.

With a ton of great new multiplayer-focused features, the product update that’s coming to Xbox One in March will forever change the way you and your friends interact on Xbox Live. You’ll now be able to get into your friends list faster and customize the way you view it, allowing you to quickly get in and get gaming. Once you’re in a game, the revamped party system and “Recent Players” list will let you spend more time with your friends while also encouraging you to make new ones. In the video above, we take a closer look at what Xbox One fans can expect in March. 

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Microsoft Cutting OEM Cost for Windows 8.1

Microsoft is cutting the cost for OEM’s to license a copy of Windows 8.1 by around 70% – from $50 to $15 per copy. Will the consumer see a price reduction in devices? Maybe not. But, the OEM will see a larger profit margin and will have more incentive to create new devices. Eventually, there will be some lower cost tablets or similar cost yet higher quality tablets.

Another gotcha – they are only for machines that are to cost below a $250 threshold. So, these would be extremely low cost to begin with. This is to help against the competition of Chromebooks and the like.

PC makers have struggled in the face of dwindling sales, and so have had to slash the retail cost of their computers, and that has eaten into profits. The push towards including costly touch-friendly screens in new PCs hasn’t helped either. Sure, PC makers could scrap the touch element, but doing so is risky — Windows 8.x is built with touch in mind, and the days when OEMs can offer Windows 7 instead are drawing to a close. End of sales for PCs with Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate preinstalled has been set at October 31, 2014.

Satya Nadella on his new role at Microsoft

The NY Times has a brief interview with Satya Nadella about his new role as CEO of Microsoft. From the sounds of it, they really may heave picked the right man for this job. He sounds like he has the passion to run the company. Excellent read.

One of the things that I’m fascinated about generally is the rise and fall of everything, from civilizations to families to companies. We all know the mortality of companies is less than human beings. There are very few examples of even 100-year old companies. For us to be a 100-year old company where people find deep meaning at work, that’s the quest.

Tech Writer Gives up XP Finally

This tech writer from C|Net finally gives up Windows XP, after worrying about the transition. C|Net has disappointed me in the past, but a person that writes about technology that hasn’t left XP yet? Unless there was some major reason for not upgrading (old hardware not compatible), then I don’t understand the wait for someone that is in the technology field. Most tech writers I know either upgrade to the latest and greatest (at least in a VM or a second PC) or stay a version behind. But, staying with XP through 3 (.1) releases (Vista, 7, 8, 8.1)? That seems a bit much. 

For those home users still on XP, it might be time to upgrade. For those in the tech industry that haven’t upgraded yet for no reason other than “you’re nervous” – get to it!

I’ll admit it. The thought of having to adjust to a new interface made my palms a little sweaty. Yes, yes, I can hear it now: "Wow, Amanda, you’re such a wimp. It’s just an OS upgrade." There’s some truth to that. I was totally wimping out on upgrading, but we’re all creatures of habit and it’s hard to say farewell to something that’s been a part of my daily work life for more than a decade.