December 11, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
It’s no secret that despite their previous successes in both the mobile and traditional computing spaces, Microsoft’s market performance as of late has been lackluster. And while sales for all of their platforms are currently suffering to a degree, it’s really only Windows Phone and Windows RT that are in serious trouble. Why have these two OSes struggled to gain any sort of traction? Part of this is due to the confusion of simply offering too many different versions. But that’s not the only reason. Though they generally offer optimized performance and a great user experience, industry adoption on either seems to be stagnant. Why? The answer is simple. Google’s Android.
To see why Google poses such a threat to Microsoft’s attempts to regain its former smartphone glory, let’s look back at why Android became so successful in the first place. In a world dictated by OEM profit margins, it’s hard to argue with “free.” I use free in quotation marks for two reasons: First, in order to access the Google Play Store in official capacity, you need Google’s seal of approval. And in order to get this, you quickly have to venture outside the realm of the increasingly few open source first party Android apps. Second, thanks to industry litigation, some of the major OEMs have to pay royalties to Microsoft when building atop the Android platform. But regardless of these issues, “free” is still better than paid licensing.
But if you think Android only became successful because of it’s ”free,” you’re wrong. Let’s take a look back at the history of Android. When it first launched, the smartphone landscape was quite different. Back then, Apple’s iOS offered some legitimate innovation in the form of new UI paradigms that were, at least to a certain degree, well ahead of the competition. Back then, many outside of the “draconian” Apple ecosystem wanted a viable alternative to Apple’s growing stranglehold on the market. Sure Windows Mobile existed, as did BlackBerry and Palm, but none of those captivated consumers like the iPhone.
Now let’s take a look at what Microsoft is contemplating. A story published earlier today over on The Verge detailed a potential path for Microsoft to help it better compete with Android. According to the story, Microsoft OS Chief Terry Myerson is considering removing licensing fees for Windows Phone and Windows RT, in the hopes of recuperating these losses with ads and subscription revenue. Clearly, Google dominates the market both in mobile ads and online services, and much of this is undoubtedly spurred on by the exponential growth of Android. Having free versions of Windows would (in theory) put Windows devices into more hands. And once it’s in more hands, people will naturally use Microsoft services.
However, the market today has changed, and it has changed dramatically. There are currently plenty of options in the mobile marketplace. Sure, Android is the only alternative to Apple iOS that has actually gained any significant traction, but the fact remains that other touch-friendly options do exist—and many of these options are legitimately free, no quotation marks. Thus, it’s no longer “good enough” to simply be free. Rather, any OS that hopes to stake its claim in the mobile OS pie has to offer something special—be it apps, groundbreaking features, or incredible user friendliness.
Ultimately, the mere fact that Microsoft is even considering such a dramatic shift in their business model makes it absolutely clear that they are targeting Google smack dab in the middle of their crosshairs. Whether this succeeds, and even whether this comes to fruition, is yet to be seen. As it stands, it’s hard to define just what Windows RT brings to the table that cannot be accomplished by other tablet-friendly OSes such as Android and even Microsoft’s own Windows 8.1. However, perhaps the picture is a bit rosier for Windows Phone, as it now is starting to gain much more third party developer attention. One thing is clear, though: The mobile OS wars are about to get a whole lot more exciting.
Is it too little too late, or do you think Microsoft can actually fight
fire free with free? Is Microsoft just mad that they got Scroogled? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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.
OK, I must admit before I write anything else that this story hits extremely close to home on the nostalgia front. Having first played the game upon release in 1998 and considering it one of the best games of any genre ever made, Half Life’s single player campaign not only forged a new genre of story-driven and immersive first person shooters; It defined the later part of my childhood.
With that disclaimer etched in digital 1s and 0s, I’m delighted to say that it is possible to enjoy this masterpiece of digital entertainment on Windows RT tablets thanks to XDA Forum Member S1yRuleZ. The project is built atop the preexisting WinQuake ARM project by Senior Member bfosterjr. The game itself is occasionally glitchy, but this shouldn’t detract from the pure awesomeness of being able to travel between worlds and defeat the Nihilanth and the rest of the Xen forces.
Naturally, users must supply their own game data (PAK files), which can easily be obtained from the original game’s ID1 folder. This is because the actual game content is housed within these files, and including them would be less than legal. However, even if you can’t find that old installation CD of yours, you can always pick up this relic of a game for practically pennies on your online game distribution network of choice.
Head over to the original thread to get started.
March 15, 2013 By: Conan Troutman
If you own a Surface or similar device running Windows RT and are reading this, chances are that you’ve already jailbroken it and are always on the lookout for useful ported apps to install. You may have been using some of those already ported by the development community, or even begun to port them for yourself. Either way, the selection of apps available to Surface owners is improving on a daily basis.
One of the latest traditional desktop apps to be ported across to RT is Process Hacker. It’s a tool for viewing detailed system information and interacting with the various tasks and processes running on the device at any given time. The RT port is currently still at a beta stage and doesn’t feature all the functionality of the desktop version. However, most of the functionality you would expect is there.
Some of the things that Process Hacker will allow you to do include:
If you’re interested in what’s going on with your RT device behind the scenes, this is well worth a look. Check out the original thread for more information.
One of the things Windows RT users have found most frustrating is the inability to run traditional desktop apps on their shiny new(ish) device. Although it was never any secret that this would be the case, it’s still something that many people were hoping would cease to be an issue thanks to the development community.
The release of the RT Jailbreak Tool, which allows the device to run .exe files that aren’t officially compiled and signed by Microsoft, was a huge step towards solving this problem. What remained was to start porting across applications to run on the ARM architecture. XDA Senior Member no2chem has put together a pretty comprehensive guide to porting Win32 apps to run on Windows RT, which will hopefully spur a few people on to porting and sharing some applications and helping to fulfill the potential of RT powered devices, at least until we see the selection of apps available for the platform bulk out a little.
If you have previous experience of developing for Windows, chances are you already have most, if not all of the required tools and shouldn’t struggle to get started with this. If you do not have any previous experience, you’ll probably need to do a little reading before attempting this, although no2chems guide does take you through the process in a good amount of detail. Check out the original forum thread for more information if you’re looking to add to the collection of previously ported applications.
January 28, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
In an move unheard of from OEMs, Sony has released an official Alpha build with the source code! A lot of other great news stories hit the Portal here at XDA this weekend. Jordan reviews all the important stories from this week. Jordan talks about the official Jelly Bean 4.1.2 for the Samsung Galaxy S II I9100.
In Windows RT news, Jordan talks about the whitelist tool that allows flash for certain sites. Also, a Windows RT jailbreak tool lets people installed non-Microsoft executables. Jordan talks about the new bootloader unlock for the Galaxy Note 2, with XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler‘s CASUAL Tool updated to make the process painless. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
January 27, 2013 By: Former Writer
This is XDA Developers, and we like our devices a certain way. We like them unlocked, rooted, and free to do with as we please. However, very few devices are ever released in this condition. Thus, our large community of dedicated developers figure out a way to do it. After all, it’s happened again and again and again. When Windows RT came out, it wasn’t 100% open either. There were security features in place that prevented users from installing unsigned .exe files. This, of course, means that users can’t install much outside of the Microsoft App Store. Now, there’s a jailbreak tool to get around it.
XDA Forum Member clrokr observed the exploit first and XDA Senior Member netham45 wrapped it up in a nifty little tool. Called the RT Jailbreak Tool, it allows users to sign unsigned applications on their Windows RT devices. This is a pretty big deal since most of the fun applications are unsigned.
Using the tool is pretty simple. It comes in a zip file that must be extracted first. Once extracted, users run the .bat file included to make a menu open. There are a few options: Users can install the jailbreak just one time, have the script apply the jailbreak on every login, or uninstall the tool. You may notice it says that it can install it just once. One caveat—or possibly one advantage—to this exploit is that it is goes away upon a reboot. In other words, it’s quite easy to remove if you wish to go back for any reason.
There are some other fun facts that come with this tool. It won’t let you run apps like Photoshop, AutoCAD, etc. You can still only install RT applications. Installing a jailbreak doesn’t make traditional x86-64 applications suddenly compatible with ARM. However, apps that are open source and can be compiled for ARM processors will work. An example would be the growing list of ARM-compatible apps being ported from desktop apps being worked on already. In addition, there are also links to help people with things like lib problems and compiling their own apps from source.
There are a few issues as well. Some people who try this may get a BSoD. This has been tracked down to something that happens only in the first couple of minutes after logging in. So if you try it and get BSoD, wait a few minutes after the next reboot and try again. It is also suggested that you make sure you are fully updated via Windows Update. Also, since it allows unsigned .exe files to be installed, there is always a risk of a virus. So be sure you trust the source of the unsigned apps.
If this looks like something you want to do with your copy of Windows RT, then check out the RT Jailbreak Tool thread for more details.
January 25, 2013 By: Former Writer
For those who don’t know, Internet Explorer 10 has what is called a Whitelist. The Whitelist determines which websites Internet Explorer allows Flash for. For instance, if you went to a Flash heavy site and it wasn’t on the Whitelist, none of the Flash content would load. This is a real pain for those who either enjoy Internet Explorer or have to use it due to lack of replacement browsers on Windows RT. We’ve previously covered a way to to add sites to the Whitelist manually. Now, there is a script that will help make it much easier.
XDA Forum Member TheDroidKid released the script, presumably based on the prior work linked above. As stated, this can be immensely helpful for people who have to use Internet Explorer. It’s pretty easy to run, and it’s a simple .bat script that opens up to a menu driven command prompt window.
To get to the interface, just open the script. It is recommended that users reset their Whitelist settings before actually doing anything. This not only allows users to start from scratch, but it also prevents the list from auto-updating, which would delete all your hard work. After that, it’s a matter of choosing the proper menu item to add new websites. Then, just type in the URL of the website you need Flash support for. After adding the site to the list, the script will clear browser cache to prevent further issues. Finally, you can open up that site and Flash content will play. There is also an option to load a custom Whitelist included with the script. TheDroidKid doesn’t mention what sites are included with this custom Whitelist, but it’s likely a number of popular streaming video websites.
There are a few caveats. It can take up to two to two and a half minutes for a change to apply, which can be tedious if you’ve got a long list of sites to add. Also, as some users have reported, deleting the browser cache will remove any active log ins. So if you’re logged into Facebook and then use this script, you’ll have to log in again.
If you have a Microsoft Surface, this is yet another essential tool. The idea that Internet Explorer even has a whitelist like this is a bit off-putting as Microsoft has no idea what Flash enabled sites people like to use. If they did, tools like this wouldn’t exist. To get more Flash enabled websites in your life, check out the Whitelist script thread.
January 18, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Jelly Bean 4.2.1-Based AOKP for Nexus Devices. That and more news happened this week at XDA-Developers. Jordan reviews all the important stories from this week. Another story talks about Super Backup for your all-in-one needs. Additionally, Jordan talks about finding UART on Qualcomm variants of the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Additionally, this week Jordan released three other videos, one is a Sony Xperia Z and Xperia ZL Hands-On, one is a discussion on Nvidia’s CES releases, and the last is a recap of the whole CES 2013 event. Finally, Jordan talks about standard desktop apps being ported to Windows RT. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
January 17, 2013 By: Former Writer
One of the main limitations of Windows RT is that most 32- and 64-bit applications aren’t compatible. Therefore, if you are buying a Microsoft Surface and intend to install all your favorite Windows programs, then you’re going to have a bad time. To remedy this issue, XDA Recognized Developer GoodDayToDie has begun an initiative to get some desktop apps compiled for RT users.
So far the initiative has gotten attention from a number of users and developers. To begin with, everyone has been focusing on re-compiling free, open source software to work on Windows RT. Here is the current list of applications that have been ported already:
Bochs. x86 Emulator. Known issue: no network support.
TightVNC. VNC server and client.
PuTTY Suite. SSH/Rsh/telnet client and helpers. Printing fixed in this build.
7-Zip. Utility for file archives and disk images.
Notepad++. Powerful but simple text/code editor. New direct link:
SciTE. Code editor (Thanks to XDA-Devs member FearTheCowboy)
IP Messenger. Peer-to-peer chat/file transfer.
Unikey 3.1. Vietnamese character entry tool. This version is out of date, but is the latest with full source code available.
Unikey 3.6. Known issue: without RtfIO, the “Toolkit” and “Conversion on the fly” features won’t work. (Thanks minhtuan99bk)
CrystalBoy. Nintendo Gameboy emulator. Known issue: uses GDI+ instead of DirectX, may reduce performance. Reported issue: JIT is broken so games don’t actually play (unconfirmed). Thanks to DXA-Developers member daveoggy.
In addition to working on the porting, GoodDayToDie is also keeping a running list of applications that work without modification. These include Mouse Without Borders and Keepass Portable. This is a great initiative by everyone involved, and it continues the great development currently in progress for Windows 8 and RT. Also, do check back on the list frequently, as both lists are sure to grow.
For more details, check out the original thread.
Let’s say you have a device from 2009, and at times it seems like it’s just a little bit out of date. The latest devices coming out are all competing to become “The Next Big Thing,” and this device just doesn’t seem to stack up to the competition. And with the latest mobile Operating Systems out there, any device running Windows Mobile 6.5 just seems, well, outdated. But then you realize what device this actually is: It’s the Mighty Mouse of devices, the HTC HD2. The same device that has run not only Windows Mobile 6.5, but Windows Phone 7, Android (all versions up to Jelly Bean), Ubuntu and MeeGo of all things.
XDA Elite Recognized Developer Cotulla has a long track record of doing extraordinary things with Windows devices, and the HD2 is no exception. After teasing the developer world with what he called a “proof of concept” of getting Windows Phone 8 installed and running on the HD2, he released the first images of the device running Windows RT. While he hasn’t released any more details as to the full status of the project, the image gallery below should give anyone who owns the HD2 butterflies of excitement. After viewing the images, you can stop by the discussion thread to follow along with updates as Cotulla provides them.
And for those wondering why it is the HTC HD2 continues to live and breathe over 3 years after it’s release, it is because the device is completely wide open thanks to HTC’s old philosophy. They have since gone away from that, which would account for part of their meteoric slide in sales and relevance. When developers can do anything and everything they desire to a device, we get gems like this one. When they can’t, they stop recommending the manufacturer and people stop buying.
With the release of the Microsoft Surface, users are getting their first real world tablet experiences with Windows 8. Of course, it’s not perfect. That’s why we mod things—to bring it closer to perfect. There is now a simple tutorial that gives you the ability to use your SD card to store media in Windows 8.
XDA Senior Member mk1151 posted the tutorial link, and it isn’t very difficult to follow. Essentially, it sets the default save locations for documents, pictures, videos, and music to the SD card. Then it creates symlinks to those folders so that the the default photos, videos, music, and docs apps see the SD card by default.
As stated, it isn’t very difficult to pull off. Users will need little more than some command prompt knowledge. Users start by making the proper folders in the proper paths. Then, it’s a few symlink commands as administrator to link everything together. Once done, you should be able to open the applications mentioned and see your content from your SD card. There are a few issues mentioned, including having to name the Camera Roll folder to CameraRoll2 in order for it to display properly. Otherwise, it works fine.
If you’re looking for new and fun ways to expand your storage, check out the original thread.