21
Nov

Working with Windows Preview, tile apps and desktop applications get along better than is the case with Windows 8.1

I’ve been working with Windows Preview for about a month. One of my computers, a laptop seeing otherwise low usage looked to be a perfect candidate for the preview, so I decided to use it to participate in the preview effort. The laptop is at build 9860. The pace of Windows Update is “slow”.

I like what I’ve seen so far, but, frankly, haven’t made much use of the computer, at least as of yet, to try out new functionality. I decided to move slowly on the preview opportunity as the result of several problems arising shortly after I loaded the preview:

  • The Security suite (McAfee LiveSave) on the laptop (originally running Windows 8.1 professional) proved to be incompatible, at least with build 9860 of the preview, so I decided to remove it and migrated down to Windows Defender
  • The fingerprint scanner feature, from HP (the laptop manufacturer), also failed, though I have gotten the scanner to work with the new login featured presented by Windows Preview, which gives me the option of using the fingerprint scanner in lieu of login name and password
  • The wireless adapter on the laptop, a Qualcomm Atheros AR9000, cannot be successfully updated with Windows Preview, build 9860 running

But I can say I find the new O/S to be much easier to use than Windows 8.1. My Windows 8.1 experience was colored by the hassle of switching between the tile interface and the computer desktop interface whenever I needed to use applications. As I just noted, this experience amounted much more to a hassle than anything else. Since I opted to use a Surface 2 RT tablet as my primary device in the category, the hassle presented by Windows 8.1 was probably more pronounced than would have been the case had I made more use of an Android tablet I also have available.

The good news with Windows Preview is most, if not all of the hassle has been removed. I rarely, if ever, experience the display driver crashes which are almost always “there” when I try to use the Surface 2 RT to post to Twitter, or some other app designed for small form mobile devices.

The laptop is equipped with a touch screen. I’m pleased to say I haven’t experienced any detraction from the touch functionality as the result of implementing Windows Preview. I happen to be keen on touch (in fact I’m keen on any input method other than keyboard and mouse) and would like to see this set of features kept as is as more builds are rolled out.

I haven’t any intention to quicken the pace at which I upgrade to later builds. So readers shouldn’t plan on much more content on this topic, at least for now.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

20
Nov

Comments on Google’s new InBox email reader

For better or worse, email remains the primary method computer users exploit for asynchronous communication. So Google’s release of a new reader application, InBox, stimulated my interest. I received an invitation to add the application and thought it might be helpful for readers to provide some comments here in this blog. For readers unfamiliar with the notion of “asynchronous communication”, the easiest way to understand the concept is simply to consider messages largely disconnected from one another. In other words, getting the message from an email does not require a review of the reply that may (or may not) result from it. Popular messaging apps like Whats App, or Facebook Messenger, Google Chat, etc. are all examples of synchronous communication, in other words messages are interdependent and really meaningless without the replies associated with them, even if there is no reply whatsoever. In the latter case the initial message is collected by each of these applications into the folder directly associated with a targeted recipient. In the case of almost any email reader, and in contrast, any sent message can be found in the “sent” folder repository for all sent messages, regardless of the intended recipient.

When I consider an application like Google InBox the important points all have to do with productivity, and, further, the pace at which I can locate information of importance to me, as opposed to all of the other information really of low importance to me. So I admit to liking the way InBox collects my messages into broad groupings: “Social”, “Updates”, “Promos”, etc. I find it easier to get the information I’m after as the result of this rearrangement. Dealing with a reorganized repository of messages is something easy for me to do.

But learning a different way of working with messages, which in the case of InBox amounts to using the new “Sweep”, “Pin” “Bundled”, “Unbundled”, etc features is another matter. I have made little, if any use whatsoever of these new features. Why? There is nothing wrong with how I’m presently working with my email, so I have no motivation to changing it. Learning a different way to work with messages is actually a matter of adopting a new computing technique. Adoption is a big deal and not something I want to get into, right now, for my daily, persistent need to interact with email.

I need an application like InBox to work with all of my email — not just the email I receive via GMail. This capability is presently available with Microsoft Outlook 2013, on my desktop. So I still prefer Outlook 2013, even without the new order to messages I’ve received by using InBox for my Google email aka GMail. I understand this capability will be rolled into GMail, but I would rather see it added to InBox. Perhaps I will have more information to share on this in a later post.

A bigger plus, for me, would be to have Google’s search service retrieve and expose relevant email messages from my inboxes based on my queries. Unfortunately the feature is not presently available, neither with Google Search, nor with Bing and/or Cortana.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved