Archive for the ‘Clubhouse Posts (Computers, Software, and Internet)’ Category

If you haven’t heard already, Windows Mobile Marketplace is coming out sometime in the next few months. Building upon the craze of an all-inclusive “App Store,” akin to what Apple has had tremendous success with the iPhone and iPod Touch, the Marketplace is going to bring such to Windows Mobile phones. It is quite possible this strategy will be extended to Zune, XBox, and other Microsoft platforms.

While you cannot submit applications at this time, you can sign up for the Marketplace today. This gets you approved for the Marketplace now, meaning you won’t have to wait [hopefully] for account approval when the Marketplace officially starts accepting application submissions.

It’s not surprising that Microsoft has taken many pages from Apple:

  • $99 entry fee (same as Apple’s)
    • Note this is for the first 5 apps, then $99 per app thereafter (a policy that is subject to change)
  • Developers get 70% (so 70 cents of a 99 cent app)
  • A developer dashboard (similar to Apple’s)
  • Built-in to every Windows Mobile 6.5 phone (Apple’s iTunes App Store is built-in on every iPhone and touch-screen iPod)
  • Having the built-in App Store gives way to impulse purchases, especially 99 cent applications

The Windows Mobile Marketplace will be different in many ways as well:

  • More devices by many manufacturers expands the breadth of your distribution, and increases potential revenue
  • Target devices with capabilities suited to your application’s needs
  • Rely on Microsoft as a development company to make development and deployment easy
  • Businesses tend to use Windows Mobile, opening up a great market segment to independent developers
  • Use Visual Studio to write killer apps in a simple-to-understand framework – .NET
  • No reason to code in Objective C (seriously)

There Are Hurdles, Of Course

Now, to be fair, Microsoft faces a few hurdles Apple doesn’t, namely:

  • Multiple device types, formats, screen resolutions, processor speeds, keyboard capabilities (Apple only has one format, basically)
  • Development time constraints for 12 screen resolutions
  • Much less control over what’s already included on phones, and how OEM software will conflict with built-in applications

Hopefully the market will work out the two issues above. I posted a Wish List on the Windows Mobile Marketplace forum, hoping Microsoft will help us developers out when it comes to deployment. To be fair, Microsoft is selling operating system licenses, not phones. The more manufacturers, the more licenses. However, it’s a chicken and egg problem – getting developers to write applications for the devices running the operating system.

There are already tens of thousands of Windows Mobile applications out there. It is likely many of those will already be available in the app store, and they already run on the majority of Windows Mobile devices, especially those with touch screens (the ones I hope will win out in this “format war” of sorts). So, it’s good to see Microsoft can start with a vast library.

Of course, the downside to this is it’s not a new library, and developers may be turned away after seeing so much competition; especially entrenched competition with a potentially unfair lead into inclusion. Microsoft also faces the risk that of those thousands of applications that are already out there, many of them may be written for older Windows Mobile devices, and thus have compatibility issues, or very outdated interfaces. There is something to be said about iPhone apps – they look pretty – with special thanks to Apple’s UIKit extensions, which provide transitions, flips, acrobatics, shine, and panache with practically a click of a button. Let’s hope Microsoft provides the same.

Developers – Make Money!

The draw to these application stores isn’t just for consumers looking for games to show off to friends at a bar. The revenue possibilities for independent and commercial developers are huge. Impulse purchases are a gimme – 99 cents to try an app, just tap to get it. That’s easy money for the store provider, the phone company (they get a cut of that 30%), and especially the developer. Most independent developers could never afford this type of exposure, and commercial distributors are likely salivating over getting their apps in front of so many people through such an outlet. If you’ve read the stories of people making hundreds of thousands of dollars with Apple’s App Store, you can see why.

Microsoft is really the only other game in town when it comes to serious platform availability. Given that they are incredibly popular in the business arena, and business applications are super easy to write with .NET, independent developers should be flocking to their Marketplace. I hope they do – but then again I’m biased as a Windows Mobile developer who’s done WM dev since the beginning.

Can Apple Be Beat?

Apple exudes iron-fisted control over their platform in a way no other provider can, and they can get away with it, since they own both the hardware and the software. Heck, to some extent, they even control the carrier (for now). Microsoft, Google (Android), RIM (Blackberry) – they are all operating system manufacturers with multiple devices on practically every carrier.

It is likely Apple will want to extend the iPhone to other markets. This could mean different-sized screens and device capabilities. If they release a netbook or tablet-like device, they’ll probably want to use the iTunes App Store to monetize it. So, Apple may end up getting dragged into this device format and software compatibility issue as well. Time will tell.

Moving Forward

At the end of the day, though, it’s all about you. If you’re a developer, you win all the way around. For $99, you get distribution to millions of devices, no matter which store you choose. If you have .NET development skills, you can start writing applications for Windows Mobile devices today, and get them distributed easily. Release a great game, entertainment or business application for 99 cents and maybe make thousands of dollars in a single month. The tools are free, and $99 isn’t too bad, especially since you only have to pay it once, not per application. If it doesn’t do well, at least you can brag to your friends that your app is available phones all over the world 🙂

In the mean time, why not sign up for the Marketplace and prepare yourself for a potentially great revenue stream?

Some helpful resources:

 

Updates to article:

  • Corrected Android reference
  • Updated fee information to include 5 app limit on $99

I noticed these “test updates” in Windows Update today (Patch Tuesday, which occurs on the second Tuesday of every month):

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The updates are:

All three updates have the same description:

This update is a test update to validate Operating System servicing. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer. This update is provided to you and licensed under the Windows 7 Prerelease License Terms.

According to Microsoft’s site, these are simply used to test updating in Windows 7 and, since they’re based on the same underlying operating system, Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta. If you’re interested in the technical details, click the links for each knowledgebase article above.

After installation, it does not appear these updates affected my system.

If you had any issues, I’d like to know! Lovin’ Windows 7!

Best,

-Auri

Intel’s Atom processor is an ULV (ultra-low voltage) processor making strides in the netbook market. Often teamed with wireless networking and a mediocre to decent graphics solution from Intel, ATI or nVidia, these systems make great budget PCs. Most of the time they come with Windows XP and a gig of RAM, although Windows 7 may change that game.

Compaq offers a $249 desktop PC with a 1.6 GHz Atom processor, Windows XP, and a gig of RAM. It’s a nice looking box that likely has a very small power footprint. It even has a DC adapter (although I actually don’t know much about what that means)! I can see them bundling it with a monitor and printer for $299 soon… Nice for the budget market. I’m curious how Windows 7 will affect it, and I’m hearing good feedback that Windows 7 accomplishes Microsoft’s goal of running well on netbook-grade devices.

For those of you looking for an affordable all-in-one desktop, check out Asus’ EeeTop PC – $549, wireless, and a touchscreen. That beats Dell’s StudioOne 19” and HP’s TouchSmart on price if you’re just looking for an auxiliary PC for the kids or kitchen. It isn’t a high-powered machine – so pay the extra money if you need performance for gaming, business applications, and the like.

If you’re in the market for a budget PC, you can also save on software by checking out my post Finding Free Software For Every Task.

If you want to see these in person, they have ‘em at Fry’s. You can get more information on each product’s respective Web site – click the images below to visit each product’s page.

 

Continuing my series of Windows 7 Tips & Tricks, here are the final seven tips shared with us by Microsoft as part of the Microsoft Partner Program. Did you know you can have a slide show as your desktop background? What about the new Calculator? You can even literally shake your windows to make others get out of the way. Neat!

  • Tip 1: Change the Scenery.
  • Tip 2: Crunch The Numbers.
  • Tip 3: Smart Printing.
  • Tip 4: Shake It Up.
  • Tip 5: Clean Your Desktop! And Order It Too.
  • Tip 6: Right-Click Mania.
  • Tip 7: Unveil Your Hidden Drives.

Change the Scenery

Windows 7 allows you to personalize your desktop background to suit your many moods with a new shuffle feature for your desktop. You can program your desktop background to shuffle through your favorite images and get a change of scenery as often as you like. To enable the shuffle feature, right-click on your Desktop and select “Personalize,” then “Desktop Background.” Choose the folder where your favorite images or photos are stored and select as many as you like. Make sure you check the “Shuffle” box, and choose how often you’d like your images to shuffle. It’s a simple way to keep your desktop looking fresh and fun.

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Crunch the Numbers

The new Windows 7 calculator is a number cruncher’s dream. New functionality allows the user to not only calculate in the Standard and Scientific modes, but also in Programmer and Statistics modes. And that’s not all! Ever need conversion formulas for temperature, weight, area, or time? Finding the unit conversion option makes it a snap and takes all the work out of the user’s hands. There are even templates for gas mileage, lease estimations, and mortgage estimations.

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Smart Printing

Windows 7 allows for several default printers in several locations. Your computer will choose the correct printer for where you are. No need to reset your default or remember what the printer name is; Windows 7 will figure out whether you’re at home or at work with Location Aware Printing.

Shake It Up

Remember the Etch-a-Sketch where you would shake it to make things disappear? Windows 7 uses the same shake concept to help you manage your windows. Windows 7 Aero®Shake allows you to clear the inactive windows from your desktop by “shaking” over the window you’re working. Hover your mouse over the title bar of your active window, left-click and shake from side to side, and all your inactive windows will disappear. To bring them back, repeat the procedure and shake everything back into view.

Clean Your Desktop! And Order It, Too!

You’ve always been able to auto-arrange your desktop icons by right-clicking on the desktop and choosing “Sort By.” Now Windows 7 makes it even easier. To auto-arrange the desktop icons according to your default settings, simply press and hold F5. Order is instantly accomplished.

Right-Click Mania

In Windows 7, right-clicking may just be your secret friend. There are many ways the right-click can simplify your computing experience. Here are just a few:

  1. Right-click any empty spot in your desktop, and you have the control to change the screen resolution.
  2. Right-click any of the icons in the Taskbar to “Unpin this program from the Taskbar.”
  3. Last but not least, right-click the Taskbar Explorer icon to access your most frequently used folders.

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Unveil Your Hidden Drives

Want to see the drives that aren’t currently in use when you open My Computer? To display empty drives, click Computer → Alt to see the toolbar → Tools → Folder Options → View (tab) → Uncheck “Hide empty drives in the Computer folder.” And they magically appear!

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Continuing my series of Windows 7 Tips & Tricks, here are seven more shared with us by Microsoft as part of the Microsoft Partner Program. Did you know you can now pin folders? Have you heard about Bitlocker disk protection and how it applies to Windows 7? How about the Windows Troubleshooting Platform? Lots of stuff to learn…

  • Tip 1: Put a “Pin Up” of the Folders You Use Most.
  • Tip 2: Double-Up Your Windows.
  • Tip 3: Clear, Crisp Display—It’s In Your Control.
  • Tip 4: Order and Reason for Your Taskbar.
  • Tip 5: Taskbar Traversing.
  • Tip 6: BitLocker To Go Protection.
  • Tip 7: Your Own Personal Help Desk: Windows Troubleshooting Platform.

Put a Pin Up of the Folders You Use Most

Windows® 7 allows you to “pin up” the folders you use most on your taskbar. Simply hold your mouse over the favorite folder, right click, and drag it onto the taskbar. Windows 7 automatically pins itself to the Explorer Jump List. To open the folder, right click on the Explorer icon and select the folder you want.

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Double-Up Your Windows

When working within an application, sometimes you just want more of a good thing. To open another window of the same application (assuming the app can run more than one instance), simply hold Shift and click the taskbar icon. You can also middle-click your third mouse button for the same result.

Clear, Crisp Display – It’s In Your Control

Windows 7 makes it easy for you to adjust your display settings, making text and images easier to view in all the various locations where you work on your computer. Your laptop display may look fine at work but a little dark at home. Adjust the text and image settings easily with two snappy applets: ClearType Text Tuning and Display Color Calibration. Run cttune.exe and dccw.exe, or look them up in the Control Panel. (click the screen shots for a larger view)

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Order and Reason for Your Taskbar

You can decide the order that your icons show up in your taskbar by simply dragging them to the order you desire. And for the first five icons, you can launch them with a simple keystroke: Any of the first five icons can be opened by pressing image+1, image +2, etc.

Taskbar Traversing

While we’re on the subject of taskbar shortcuts, use image+T to shift your attention to the taskbar. Your machine will make its active screen your taskbar menu, and you can use the arrow keys to select the application you’re interested in. Just hit Enter to launch it. Naturally, to exit this trick, press Esc.

BitLocker To Go Protection

BitLocker® has become a saving grace when it comes to increased laptop security. Windows 7 has taken security even farther with its BitLocker To GoTM feature, which allows you to encrypt removable USB devices and external disks. To enable BitLocker or BitLocker To Go, right click the drive in Windows Explorer and select “Turn on BitLocker…” This can also be managed centrally via Group Policy, so IT administrators can require the USB drive be encrypted before files can be written to it.

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Your Own Personal Help Desk: Windows Troubleshooting Platform

We’ve all experienced minor issues like Windows Aero not displaying or sound controls not functioning. Don’t get stuck in the mud just because your computer seems to be. Windows 7 can save you from having to bite the bullet and call the help desk for every problem that comes up, thanks to the new Windows Troubleshooting Platform. It’s easily accessed by typing “fix” or “Troubleshoot” (without the quotes) in the Start Menu. A list of Windows Troubleshooting Packs allows you to choose from what might be giving you trouble, and the troubleshooter will faithfully attempt to clear up the problem.

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Below are a ton of Windows 7 Tips & Tricks shared with us by Microsoft as part of the Microsoft Partner Program. Did you know Windows 7 has built-in screen recording? How about control-clicking the taskbar to switch between windows? Read on and learn how you can get even more from Windows 7!

I received three of these great documents, so this is part 1 of a three part series.

  • Tip 1: Shuffling Through Program Windows.
  • Tip 2: Managing Your Windows.
  • Tip 3: Project Your Display With Ease.
  • Tip 4: Multi-Monitor Window Management.
  • Tip 5: Aero Peek Your Desktop.
  • Tip 6: Live Clutter-Free.
  • Tip 7: Help the Help Desk Help You.

Shuffling Through Program Windows

If you’re running a number of files from the same program, such as multiple documents in Microsoft Word, Windows 7 allows you to switch through these windows with ease. Simply press down on the Ctrl key while clicking the icon from the taskbar. Each click will change the window to the next in the sequence, in the order that you opened them.

Managing Your Windows

Windows 7 simplifies document and program management by allowing you to “dock” a window or manipulate its size with one mouse maneuver or a simple keystroke. To dock your window on one half of the screen, drag it to the left or right and it will change its size to fit that half of the screen. To manipulate the vertical size of a window, drag the window to the top to maximize it, or double-click the window’s top or bottom border to maximize it vertically while keeping the same width.

You can also perform all of these functions with keystrokes: image+Left Arrow and image+Right Arrow dock to half the screen image+Up Arrow and image+Down Arrow maximize and minimize image+Shift+Up Arrow and image+Shift+Down Arrow maximize and restore vertical size.

Project Your Display With Ease

Plugging in a projector and projecting your display is a snap with the Windows 7 driver display utility, displayswitch.exe. Simply hit image+P to display the following easy-to-navigate pop-up window:

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By hitting your arrow keys (or image+P) you can switch through multiple display settings, such as “clone”, “extend” or “external only.”

Multi-Monitor Window Management

Windows 7 makes using multiple monitors as convenient as it should be. When you’re working in multi-monitors, use the keyboard shortcuts image+Shift+Left Arrow and image+Shift+Right Arrow to toggle between monitors. The new window will keep its relative position to the top-left origin of the original.

Aero Peek Your Desktop

A lesser-known versatile tool introduced with Windows 7 is the Windows® Aero® feature, “Aero Peek”. Just click the rectangle in the lower right hand corner of the task bar for quick access to your desktop. The keyboard shortcut image+Space performs the same function.

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Live Clutter-Free

We live with enough clutter in our lives. Windows 7 gets rid of all the superfluous windows behind your active window. Just hit image+Home to minimize all inactive windows. To restore the windows when you’d like them, just press image+Home again.

Help the Help Desk Help You

Solving problems unique to a machine can be an arduous task for both the end-user and the help desk. That’s why Windows 7 introduces the Problem Steps Recorder, a screen-capture tool that allows the end-user to record the problems they’re having step-by-step. It’s as simple as hitting “record” then adding in comments as needed. A HTML-based file is converted to a .ZIP folder, which is easily passed on to the help desk. The program is accessible from the Control Panel under “Record steps to reproduce a problem” or run psr.exe from Explorer.