April 23, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
About a month ago at this year’s Build conference, Microsoft partially unveiled its vision for the future of Windows. One of the key highlights for Windows users was the upcoming return of the Start Menu. And while the touch-friendly Modern UI (i.e. Metro) works great on tablets and touch-enabled laptops and desktops, it’s a bit of an exercise in frustration when used on traditional computers without touch support.
You may recall that Microsoft issued a small update to Windows 8.1 (termed Windows 8.1 Update) that enabled Modern UI apps to live alongside Desktop Mode apps in the taskbar. However, this obviously didn’t bring back the Start Menu, which was slated to be delivered in a second update at an undisclosed date this year. Now, Russian Piracy group WZor (known for its high leak accuracy) has stated that the Start Menu is set to return in an update that will make its way to consumers this autumn. Furthermore, sources exclusive to ZDNET point to a release as soon as August of this year.
Currently, it is not known whether this will be Windows 8.2, Windows 9, or Windows 8.1 Update 2. But since last month’s Windows 8.1 Update was simply called Windows 8.1 Update, it’s highly likely that this will either be Windows 8.2 or Windows 9, and whether this update will be free of charge.
However, the leak does indicate some details regarding the Start Menu itself. For starters, the new start menu will work differently on devies with a touch screen versus those without. It will be available in classical form, similar to the screenshot demonstrated at Build 2014 and shown to your right, on non-touch computers. But on touchscreen devices, the start menu will be reimagined.
Are you a Windows 8.1 user eagerly awaiting the return of the Start Menu or have you adapted to the Modern UI? Let us know in the comments below!
April 9, 2014 By: Samantha
Although the spec sheet of your Windows 8 or RT device may give a pretty big indication of its performance, it’s sometimes a lot more helpful if you have an idea of how well it performs in real life. But although there are plenty of software tools available to help you to do this, we thought that XDA members may be much more inclined to try something home-grown and open-source. This is where CPU Performance Tester comes in.
Developed by XDA Senior Member rootfan, CPU Performance Tester performs a large number of mathematical operations on your Windows 8 or RT device in order to see how well its CPU performs. Depending on your device’s CPU, it uses up to 8 threads to do this, and measures the amount of time it takes to finish the test. This provides a simple and easy way of comparing the CPU performance of your device versus other devices that have gone through the same test. One great thing about CPU Performance Tester is that it is also open-source, so you can incorporate your own tests and measurements if you want.
If you are interested in giving this a go, be sure to check out the original thread for more information.
April 2, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Today in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, Microsoft kicked off its annual Build developers conference. Up until now, many had been questioning Microsoft’s continued relevance in this new mobile-friendly age. However, today’s keynote clearly shows that Microsoft doesn’t intend on letting Google and Apple have all the fun.
Does Windows have what it takes to be your platform of choice in 2014? Read on to find out more about what Microsoft has in store for Windows and Windows Phone. READ ON »
February 21, 2014 By: Samantha
If you’re running Windows 8 on a device of yours, you’re probably already aware of the wealth of unit conversion programs and software granted by the platform’s capability to run standard Windows EXE files. Of course, one of the most glaring downsides with this is that most, if not all, of such standard PC programs are not designed for the touch interface, which can lead to a whole lot of accidental presses. So, if you’d rather have a touch optimized app converting all those confusing units for you, check out Global Converter.
Developed by XDA Senior Member jimdem, Global Converter is compatible with both Windows 8 and RT. As an app with tablets and other touch screen devices in mind, its interface features big and unmissable buttons as the primary mode of navigation. The left half of the interface is dominated by a list of all the different types of units that the app supports, such as area, data, pressure, and radiation, while the right half is where you plug in your numbers and where the units are converted.
Global Converter is a well-polished and easy to use unit converter that can be downloaded for free, and it is ad-free. If you own a Windows 8 or RT device and would like to give this a go, check out the application thread for more details.
January 12, 2014 By: Samantha
Now that the gift giving season is over and we have all (hopefully) received presents we’ve been wishing for, there are probably a lot of folks who’ve been gifted with a brand new Windows device and are wondering what exactly to do with it. If you are on a budget or are trying to reign in their spending habits, you may want to check out Costs Keeper.
Developed by XDA Forum Member filfat, Costs Keeper is an app compatible with the Windows 8 and RT platforms, and it and is essentially what one expects of it: a costs keeper. The app presents itself in a very typical, Metro manner that’s very clean and simple, with a user interface that’s very navigable and touch-friendly.
On the main screen, you’re presented with the all-important spending tracker that displays the total amount of money spent in a given time period, what category the expense is under, and the amount of the transactions. Since the app is still in its alpha phase, you can only see the monthly expenses, with daily, weekly and yearly tracking to be added in the future.
For a more detailed view, tap the ‘Transactions’ tab, and you’ll be able to see all the expenses of the selected time period and any related information such as date, category, and name. Three bright and clear buttons to the right allow you to add income and expenses, as well as export transactions if you wish to do so.
Although in its alpha phase, Costs Keeper is an app that seems otherwise. Despite some missing features, it’s simple, well designed, ad-free, and promises much in the future. If you would like to check out the app, visit the application thread for more details.
January 12, 2014 By: Samantha
If you’re using a device running either Windows 8 or RT—be it a tablet, a PC, or a hybrid—you’ll probably be familiar with the tools context menu that pops up when you right click on the desktop. And in all honesty, it’s not that particularly useful other than to organize your desktop. This is a shame because it wouldn’t cause any harm if some more options and actions were added.
Well, XDA Senior Member pbanj thought similarly. And as a result, he developed a batch file that allows you to conveniently install extra tools to the context menu. As of now, there are three different menus that you can choose from:
Installation is simple. You simply run the batch file and follow the prompts. The process is the same for uninstalling the menus.
If you would like to give this a go, visit the original thread for more information and download.
January 6, 2014 By: Samantha
Automatically adjusting the screen brightness depending on ambient light levels, also known as adaptive brightness, is a pretty standard feature on modern smartphones, tablets, PCs, and anything in between. This is most definitely the case for Windows 8 and RT devices such as the Microsoft Surface RT and Pro (check out the review here), Asus t100, and the Dell Venue 8 and 11 Pro tablets. But if you’ve been having issues with the pre-determined screen brightness levels of your Windows 8 device, or you’re simply not satisfied with them, there’s a fix that may help you out.
Developed by XDA Forum Member antys86, this tweak rids you of the default setting that only offers three brightness levels. As a replacement, it introduces a more flexible brightness adjustment that adapts to any light condition. The adaptive brightness changes according to the brightness level you’ve manually set, which means if the level is set at 0, there will be no automatic adjustment in brightness.
Additionally, the tweak shortens the time between adaptive brightness changes from three seconds to only 0.1 second (100 milliseconds). This will not drain the battery faster, as the tweak does not interfere with the sensor refresh rate. Rather, it simply modifies the time between changes in brightness.
This fix is easy to install, requiring you to simply download the provided registry key, run and confirm it, and reboot your device. But as always, make sure to backup your original registry key just in case you want to revert back to the original settings.
If you would like to learn more about this adaptive brightness tweak for Windows 8 and RT devices, visit the original thread for more information and download.
December 31, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Back when we launched our Best of 2013 Holiday Gift Guide, we asked you to cast your vote and pick the best smartphones and tablets of 2013. Well folks, the votes are in, and you’ve made your voices clear!
Starting off with your top tablet picks, the winner by a mile was the Google Nexus 7 (2013) with 53% of your votes. Then in second place, we have the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) with 15% of the votes. Next up is the LG G Pad 8.3 with 10% of the votes. The remainder of the votes was split up between the Surface Pro 2 (6%), Asus Transformer Book T100 (4%), Dell Venue 8 Pro (3%), and other (10%). And for those of you wondering which was the most popular write-in, it was none other than the Sony Xperia Tablet Z.
As for your favorite smartphones, there was still a decisive winner, but the race was much closer than with the tablets. Your pick for the best smartphone of 2013 is the Google Nexus 5, with 29% of your votes. Next up, we have the HTC One, with 15% of your votes. Then, we have essentially a three-way tie between the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (10.49%), Sony Xperia Z1 (10.29%), LG G2 (10.07%). The remainder of the votes went to the Moto G (7.69%), Samsung Galaxy S 4 (6.99%), Moto X (3.63%), Oppo Find 5 (1%), and other (5.94%). For smartphones, the “other” category was essentially split between the Google Nexus 4, Sony Xperia Z, and Sony Xperia SP.
From these results, it’s clear that Google scored a home run with its most recent Nexus devices. Do you agree with these results? Let us know in the comments below, and of course, Happy New Year!
December 20, 2013 By: Samantha
For Android users who have made the leap of faith to Windows 8 or RT, the limited number of available Modern UI apps can be quite a shock. But this shouldn’t be a surprise, as the majority of tablets now ship with Android. This is then naturally reflected in user and developer contributions.
It seems like Microsoft’s well aware of this issue, however, as they’ve just released Project Siena. Sienna can be seen as Microsoft’s attempt to encourage app development for Windows 8 and RT.
Sienna’s description states that it “works well with corporate and web data and media content: SharePoint lists, Excel and Azure tables, RSS feeds and the gamut of RESTful services.” Examples of apps that can be made with Siena include “media-rich product catalogs,” apps which solve customer service issues, apps that make use of photos, videos, pen and voice notes.
Siena is currently in its beta phase, and can be downloaded for free from the Windows app store.
[Via Surface Geeks]
Which company has not one, not two, but three operating systems being actively developed at the same time? Microsoft does, and they’re getting tired of it.
The strongest suggestion of this comes with Microsoft executive Julie Larson-Green’s statement that “We [Microsoft] have the Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and we have full Windows. We’re not going to have three,” at the UBS Global Technology Summit last week. The straightness of the statement strongly hints at a potential axing of an existing OS. And given each OS’s relative success, it’s not difficult to surmise which.
Although the bluntness may come off as rather shocking, we all should have seen it coming sooner or later, with trails of bread crumbs here and there. This is evident with comments made by Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft, who said that “We [Microsoft] should have one set of developer APIs on all of our devices. And all of the apps we bring to end users should be available on all of our devices,” in September.
So which OS will be axed? Well, all the fingers point towards Windows RT, the lonely and confusing child that never quite knew who it wanted to be. And Microsoft doesn’t know either, with Larson-Green admitting “We didn’t explain [Windows RT] super-well. I think we didn’t differentiate the devices well enough.” She went as far as saying that “[Microsoft] should not have called it Windows.”
Windows RT will most likely be ‘gently’ merged with Windows Phone rather than suffer an immediate death. According to the Verge, Windows RT in some shape or form will be seen on mobile devices in the future, with Myerson complimenting the long battery life and large connectivity options and potential of ARM-based devices, on which Windows RT runs.
Despite this, troubling comments have been uttered by Larson-Green at the same summit that will possibly impact the potential of Windows and any future Windows OS being developer-friendly, or at least to an extent that is remotely close to Android. As she explains,
“you look at iPad in particular, and it’s a turnkey, closed system. It doesn’t degrade over time….It doesn’t get viruses. It’s not as flexible, you can’t do as much with it, but it’s a more seamless experience, even though more simplified….So we believe in that vision and that direction and we’re continuing down that path.”
This is a strong hint that Windows will probably be trying to keep to themselves in the corner of the room, much like Apple. It doesn’t bode well for developers who are hoping that maybe, just maybe, Microsoft may make Windows more open to development.
What are your thoughts on Microsoft’s vision and future plans? Have they gotten it right, or are they just digging themselves a deeper hole? Share them with us below.
October 17, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
If you’re a Spotify user running Windows 8/8.1 or RT, you may have noticed that there’s currently no official offering available in the Windows App Store. While x86 users can simply download the official client directly from Spotify’s website, ARM-based users aren’t so lucky.
To alleviate this, XDA Forum Member hsalps created Spotlite and uploaded it to the Windows App Store. The application supports x86, x86-64, and ARM processors.
In addition to allowing Spotify members to listen to music, Spotlite lets you play playlists, search for songs/albums/playlists/artists, and it gives you personalized recommendations based on your listening habits. Initially, the app only allowed users with Spotify premium memberships to listen to music. Now, however, Spotlite allows free Spotify users to login and play music.
If you’re a Windows on ARM user, or even if you’re an x86 user looking for a different experience, Spotlite may be worth a look. Head over to the application thread to get started.
October 7, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Some time ago, we took a look at a simple, open source application for Windows 8 by XDA Senior Member Beatsleigher that returned CPU information on demand. Telling you all sorts of parameters, the application was useful for all of us looking to learn a little more about the architecture used in our desktop-class processors.
Since then, Beatsleigher has received many requests to port the application to C++ or C# in order to allow other developers to create an app similar to the admittedly awesome CPU-Z. Rather than simply porting the app, Beatsleigher instead created a .Net library that has most of the functionality of DetectCPU, and then some.
SysLib was created using Visual Basic .Net, and it can be used in any .Net application. This includes apps coded with Visual Basic .Net, C#, and Visual C++. Currently, it features three classes: CPU, motherboard, and battery.
Using the library is simple. First off, you need to have .Net 2.0 or higher and use the framework in your app. To get started, add the DLL as a reference to your program. Then, import the library to your app’s classes. Finally, add the class as a variable.
If you’re an app developer looking to read CPU, motherboard, and battery data, SysLib has the potential to make itself quite useful. Head over to the original thread to get started. And if you’d like to take a look at the source code, Beatsleigher has it available over on his Github.
July 5, 2013 By: Conan Troutman
The Acer Iconia W700 is a perfect blend of the tablet form factor and ultrabook specs. Sure, it’s a little heavier and chunkier than your average Android tablet, but that’s the price you pay for having the power of a full desktop OS like Windows 8 at your disposal. Well, at least it is if you want that experience out of the box. You could always take you’re existing Android tablet and use something like the Linux on Android Project.
While it’s no doubt great to have the power of Windows 8 in a compact device, what happens if you find that the full on desktop experience isn’t always necessary? You dual boot with Android, of course, and XDA senior member ThatGrass has put together a handy tutorial on how to go about doing just that. Despite running an Intel chip, getting Android loaded onto this device is remarkably simple, thanks to projects such as Android on Intel Architecture and of course Intel themselves.
There are a few prerequisites to fulfill and tools to gather before jumping into this, but overall the process is pretty straight forward and will add a whole new level of functionality to a device such as this. The process should also be applicable to other Intel-based devices as well, although some steps may vary. Be sure to check out the original thread for more information.