Windows 10 Technical Preview

In my post last week, I posted a number of guesses as to what Microsoft might be adding to the Windows 10 OS (or at least announcing in their big Jan 21st press event). Looks like I got a lot right, some wrong and completely missed one of the biggest pieces. I was hoping for better Xbox One integration and got voice/text chat and a remote play option (within a home) like I hoped. We got to see Windows 10 running on phone devices (and it looked great). We also got to see how Universal Apps would run across every Windows 10 device.

HoloLens

The biggest surprise: Hololens. Hololens is Microsoft’s augmented reality device (large visors) that augment your view with holograms. Right now the scope of the eventual consumer device will be limited, but expect the technology to change the way we view software and devices. Coming up with the software to use the new technology will be its biggest limitation. All that considered, hololens is completely amazing. Really looking forward to seeing this personally.

I’ve been testing out their latest Windows 10 Technical Preview in a virtual machine on my main desktop. My initial reaction was, “Meh, it’s a nice tweak of Windows 8.1″. After using it a little, I think that Microsoft is really nailing this new OS. It really is something that both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users will love. Knowing that I can write one set of code that will run across all devices has me pretty excited as a developer. The completely rebuilt browser engine is another great feature. Shame it took this long. By the way, when you have multiple devices running 8.1 or higher then there is very little configuration involved. Setup took about 20 minutes and I had all of my apps, email, desktop background, etc. I’m sort of shocked that Windows 10 will run on the hardware requirements of Windows 7.

When you combine the fantastic features of Windows 10 (Xbox integration, switching screen layouts between desktop and tablet, new browser, etc.) with the free upgrade from Windows 7, 8, 8.1 for the first year, this is going to be the time when I’ll move all of the PCs in my house to Windows 10. At the same time, I’ll probably start a subscription to Office 365 as well. This will get everyone on the same version of Office and provide cloud storage for all of my photos and videos.

The biggest piece of the puzzle that was missing in their presentation was their vision for digital media moving forward. By that I’m referencing Windows Media Center. We still use MCE to power the media in our house (recording shows, viewing photos and recorded media). Other than a series of individual apps, I didn’t see a unified vision presented. Perhaps they will eventually release their Digital TV Tuner for the Xbox One in the US. If they would do that and support it in Windows 10 (DVR capabilities), then that might suffice.

If you use Microsoft software in your house, prepare for a very exciting Fall 2015. You may want to hold off any hardware purchases until then as you’ll see a whole host of new devices when Win 10 hits the market.

20th Anniversary

Wedding Photo

Today is our platinum wedding anniversary. Connie and I have now been married for 20 years. I’ve had my up times and my down times, but Connie has been there 100% of the time. I could always depend on her to stick with me and that’s the one thing that allowed me to go out and fight another day.

Rarely does a man find such a wonderful treasure and rare beauty as she is to me and I hope that I never take for granted what a true blessing that she is to me and our family. As non-conventional as our decisions have been through the years (as compared to pop culture), we’ve made those decisions together. I love her today much more completely than I knew existed back in 1995.

20th Anniversary

Updated: We had a fun time going out eat at Chimes tonight. We followed that up with a trip to Starbucks for coffee and dessert.

Something to Ponder: Bad Luck

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

Now Robert Heinlein was a science fiction writer, so I don’t know that he would be considered a scholar. I can say that this quote of his is pretty interesting and thought provoking. It seems that our society is forgetting the importance of rewarding the creative productivity of it’s citizens. Hmm, happy Tuesday to you.

Windows 10 is Coming

Windows 10On Wednesday (21st), Microsoft will release fresh new information on Windows 10. Since they’ve already had an event detailing the enterprise / business side of the upcoming OS, this event is expected to detail the consumer side of the feature set. Microsoft has a site setup already where you can tune in for the event. Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft) will take the stage and this in itself indicates that this is a big event for them. It hasn’t been stated exactly what will be discussed, so I thought I would take a shot at prognosticating what will take place. This is just blind guessing on my part, but it is fun to post it ahead of time to compare what I expected to what was actually announced.

Gaming

In the area of gaming, I expect MS to at a minimum announce that the next version of DirectX will be in Windows 10 and hopefully it will be on all platforms. I don’t expect cross-platform gaming to be announced, but I would be totally pumped if XBL chat and party support would be coming to Windows 10. Right now the PC suffers from a lack of good chat/party software such as what exists on the Xbox right now (it’s out there, but it can get complicated for the novice). Another item which would blow me away would be Xbox One remote play for Windows 10 devices (play a game on the Xbox One via your desktop or tablet with controller support). This is very doable for them, but I’m not sure they are forward thinking enough.

Mobile

I expect MS to announce that Windows Phone 10 will be released at the same time as desktop and tablet versions of the OS. This mobile OS release will hopefully, finally bring a more mature API for building universal apps that cross the desktop / mobile divide. I don’t expect any new devices to be announced though (which is a bummer, but they probably wouldn’t want to confuse the topic). We’ll see how much they push the “we have the apps” mantra, but that’s a pretty empty promise at this point. Not a big deal for me, but plenty of people are jumping ship because of it. As they say, “put your money where your mouth’s at”.

Summary

I fully expect this to be a big event to rally the troops and provide some support to those looking forward to a “proper” upgrade to Windows 7 (I love Windows 8.1 by the way). So much Win 10 information is already out there that it will be difficult for them to truly surprise me. I really hope that Phil Spencer (head of Xbox) pulls one of the afore mentioned surprises out of his hat. That guy (and his team) have done amazing things over the past year.

Updated: An Ed Bott article reminded me that Cortana is in the Win 10 preview, but currently disabled. We can probably expect to hear more about the integration of the digital assistant. It’s interesting, but it’s not really an item high on my list of “must have’s”. I find digital assistants are most useful when I can’t easily use my hands (driving, exercising, etc..), so having it on my desktop system isn’t crucial.

Home Phone Changes

Landline PhoneAfter more than 20 years of having the same phone number, we have officially turned off that number. If you have our home line, then you can remove it from our contact entry now. When I first moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU in the early 90s, I got a phone that had this number (starts with 751) and it’s kind of weird to think that it will no longer be used. Ten years ago we made the jump to a VOIP line via Vonage and we’ve kept it since then. It’s worked well. As we’ve added cell phones to the family,  we used the home line with less frequency. Suddenly the cost of this dedicated home line seemed high compared to another cell phone.

No only did the phone get less use, but it became the phone that telemarketers and political action committees would call. I rarely if ever would answer it and we just let the answering machine take the calls. In general, people have adjusted to the era of cell phones and typically just call the person to whom they want to talk. We could have transitioned the number over to a cell phone, but we thought that it was a good time to retire it instead. So if you need to contact us, call our cell phones, email or Facebook message us.

As a free alternative to the Vonage line, I’m using an Obitalk device with my Google Voice account to have unlimited calling on our set of wireless phones. The two biggest downsides to it is that it doesn’t have 911 service and it also may go away at any time. A one-time $40 device purchase has quickly paid for itself when their isn’t a monthly service fee. It’s something you might want to consider if you have the need.

Stop by for a few words on what is happening with the Callahan's.