Microsoft is giving people a peek into Windows 8.1, a free update that promises to address some of the gripes people have with the latest version of the company’s flagship operating system.
Although the preview version of Windows 8.1 is meant for Microsoft’s partners and other technology developers, anyone will be able to download it for free starting Wednesday, exactly eight months since desktops, laptops and tablets with Windows 8 went on sale. The version of the Windows 8.1 update meant for the general public will come out later in the year, though a specific date hasn’t been announced.
Many of the new features have been shown off already. A three-day Build conference, which starts Wednesday in San Francisco, will give Microsoft developers a chance to learn more about the new system and try it out. It also will give the company a chance to explain some of the reasoning behind the update and sell developers on Microsoft’s ambitions to regain relevance lost to Apple’s iPad and various devices running Google’s Android software.
There’s also speculation that Microsoft could show off a new, smaller version of its Surface tablet computers. One of the new features in Windows 8.1 is the ability to work well on smaller-screen devices.
Windows 8, which was released Oct. 26, was meant to be Microsoft’s answer to changing customer behaviors and the rise of tablet computers. The operating system emphasizes touch controls over the mouse and the keyboard, which had been the main way people have interacted with their personal computers since the 1980s.
But some people have been put off by the radical makeover.
Although Microsoft has said it has sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses so far, some analysts have blamed the lackluster response to the operating system for a steep drop in PC sales in the first three months of the year, the worst drop since tracking by outside research firms began in 1994.
Among the complaints: the lack of a Start button on the lower left corner of the screen. In previous versions of Windows, that button gave people quick access to programs, settings and other tasks. Microsoft replaced that with a tablet-style, full-screen start page, but that covered up whatever programs people were working on, and it had only favorite programs. Extra steps were needed to access less-used programs. Settings, a search box and other functions were hidden away in a menu that had to be pulled out from the right. How to do that changed depending on whether a mouse or touch was used.
And while Microsoft has encouraged people to use the new tablet-style layout, many programs – including Microsoft’s latest Office software package – are designed for the older, desktop mode. People were forced into the tablet layout when they start up the machine and had to manually switch the desktop mode each time.
Windows 8.1 will allow people to start in the desktop mode automatically. In that mode, it is restoring a button that resembles the old Start button. Although the Start button will now take people back to the new tablet-style start screen, rather than the old Start menu, the re-introduction of the familiar button may make it easier for longtime Windows users to get accustomed to the changes.
Other new features of Windows 8.1 include more options to use multiple apps. People will get more options to determine how much of the screen each app takes while showing up to four different programs, rather than just two. The update will also offer more integrated search results, showing users previews of websites, apps and documents that are on the device, all at once.
Although Microsoft is addressing much of the criticisms with Windows, it is positioning the update as more than just a fix-up job. From its perspective, the tuneup underscores Microsoft’s evolution into a more nimble company capable of moving quickly to respond to customer feedback while also rolling out more innovations for a myriad of Windows devices – smartphones, tablets or PCs.
It’s crucial that Microsoft sets things right with Windows 8.1 because the outlook for the PC market keeps getting gloomier. IDC now expects PC shipments to fall by nearly 8 percent this year, worse than its previous forecast of a 1 percent dip. IDC also anticipates tablets will outsell laptop computers for the first time this year.
The growing popularity of tablets is now being driven largely by less expensive devices with display screens measuring 7 inches to 8 inches diagonally. Microsoft built Windows 8 primarily to run on tablets with 10-inch to 12-inch screens, an oversight that Microsoft is also trying to fix with Windows 8.1.
Microsoft has said the company was working with other manufacturers to make smaller tablets, but it has yet to confirm reports that it is making its own. A smaller Surface with an 8-inch screen would be significantly smaller than its current, 10.6-inch models and would put the Surface in closer competition with Apple’s iPad Mini, Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD.
Such a device would coincide with Intel Corp.’s recent release of a new chip line called Haswell. The company says Haswell chips offer a 50 percent improvement in battery life over the previous generation when playing back high-definition video.
In an indication that Microsoft Corp. is clearing out inventory of a Surface tablet running the lightweight Windows RT operating system, the company is effectively cutting the price of that by including a keyboard cover for free. The cover sells for $120 or $130 on its own.
Microsoft also said this month that it would give buyers of the RT version of Surface the Outlook email and calendar program at no extra charge – joining other Office freebies Excel, Word and Power Point – and sweetening the offer for the device that is priced starting at $499. That will come as part of the Windows 8.1 update.
Former BigEye.ug writer Jonah Kirabo set to represent Uganda in Turkey
By Staff Writer
Former BigEye.ug writer and journalist, Jonah Kirabo is set to represent Uganda in a Turkish annual leadership conference, this website has confirmed.
Named LOCALINTERNational Conference, the programme gathers recent university graduates every year in Turkey’s capital city; Ankara as well as other cities in Turkey such as Istanbul among others to provide graduates with local governance training through instructions, practical governance and field visits including social activities and trips within Turkey and all expenses are covered by Turkey’s Union of Municipalities.
This will be the first time that a Ugandan is selected to attend this conference that happens every year since 2012.
An excited Jonah Kirabo took to his social media to announce the milestone saying that he owes his success to God as over 10 Ugandan’s applied for the opportunity but it was only him that was chosen.
“Proud to be the first ever Ugandan to be selected to attend the LOCALINTERNational Conference that is hosted annually in Turkey since 2012. Over 10 Ugandans applied this year but I was the only one who was selected to join the other 41 recent graduates from Europe, Asia, South American and Africa,” Jonah said in part.
He told this website that he hopes to use the skills from the conference to boast his journalism and leadership skills when he is back.
The conference will take place in Turkey between 18th – 29th August 2019.
*About Jonah Kirabo*
Aged 22, Jonah Kirabo is a recent graduate of Business Administration from Makerere University.
Despite pursing a business degree, Jonah has always had a passion for journalism and leadership. While at Campus, he worked as news reporter for several blogs and local websites including BigEye.ug and Campus Eye before joining the Nile Post where he is currently employed.
He is also a current student of journalism and media at the Kansanga based Media Challenge Initiative.
Engineer Peterson Mwesigwa Is Once Again Overall Best Student at LDC
By Staff Writer
Peterson Mwesigwa could be the most intelligent Ugandan alive today. He holds a Masters Degree in Electrical and Computer Technology.
Two years back, he was the first person to get a first class Degree at the Law School after over a decade of only second class degrees.
Now Mwesigwa is also the top student at this year’s graduating platform. He was awarded for topping everyone. He is surely an exceptional achiever.
A man standing at the interesection of the arts and sciences. An Engineer and now a lawyer.
Andrew Mwenda on Loss of Mother: “I feel Empty and Lost”
By Staff Writer
It has been a sad week as one of Uganda’s best journalists, Andrew Mwenda laid his mother to rest.
While eulogizing his mother at All Saints Church, Mwenda described her as the most beautiful chic that ever lived. But one could not help but see the pain in his statements.
At 12 noon, Adyeeri Constance Muhangazima, was laid to rest in the great village of Kanyandahi.
Andrew Mwenda then took to Twitter to express his current pain and depression. He called it the biggest blow ever. He talked of feeling all lost and alone.
We can only pray for the best of comforting to the old man of the clan. Losing a mother is surely the hardest thing that ever happens to anyone in life. There is no hole deeper. It is a hole that cuts through a soul.
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