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Microsoft is ready to help consumers forget about Windows 8 and 8.1, and is rumored to begin promoting its upcoming Windows 10 operating system starting next January. The company took the wraps off Windows 10 during a relatively low-key event that was hosted in September.
Windows 10 for Business preview was released earlier in the year, as testers continue to provide feedback, Microsoft wanted to wait until later to begin discussing "significant" new features to the successor to Windows 8/8.1.
Even with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) happening in early January, Microsoft will host a dedicated a press event in late January to discuss Windows 10. The company previously said consumer features would be unveiled in "early 2015," as the company wants to move ahead with the latest Windows OS.
Google has just updated Google Now, which is now capable of providing a countdown timer to your important event. This might be reminding to brush your teeth, or a doctors appointment, or even your own wedding.
Android Police discovered the new ability of Google Now, with the countdown timers reportedly being part of your reminders. As it stands, these reminders aren't tied to the Calendar right now, so you can't add the doctors appointment into your calendar, and have Google Now remind you of it. Although, you could create a countdown timer separately.
Android Police explains: "Basically, if you have a reminder related to an event Google knows about (like Christmas, for instance), Google will pick up on that and - on your reminder card - serve you a countdown. The functionality doesn't seem to work with things like birthdays yet, so it probably won't work with any personally-connected events, but it does work with events that Google as a service recognizes, like holidays".
Encryption and security was a big part of the push toward Android 5.0 Lollipop, with the first version of Android that enables Full Disk Encryption (FDE) by default on new devices.
AnandTech has now discovered that this forced security actually kills read/write performance on some devices, testing a Nexus 6 with some benchmark numbers to prove it. The benchmarks, below, are using AndEBench, where FDE has a really bad hit on performance. When FDE is enabled on AnandTech's Nexus 6 smartphone, random read performance drops by 62.9%, while random write speeds slump by 50.5%. That's not the worse of it, where sequential read speeds are hit by a huge 80.7% drop in speeds.
FDE is only enabled by default with devices that ship with Android 5.0 Lollipop, so if you're upgrading to Lollipop, FDE isn't enabled by default, thus you're not affected by these slowdowns. When FDE is enabled, all writes to the flash are encrypted before before being saved, and then decrypted when they're being read and sent to RAM. Worse yet, are those who enable FDE with it requiring a key to decrypt, which is protected by a lockscreen password. This means people who opt out of the passcode on the lockscreen, still experience the performance hit on their Lollipop-powered device, without the benefits of FDE's encryption.
It would appear some Google Android 5.0 Lollipop early adopters are having trouble with their update, with Google Nexus 7 tablets running slowly and crashing. Apps built by Adobe Air are being automatically uninstalled and users cannot reinstall the missing apps - Adobe has escalated the problem with Google, trying to find a solution as quickly as possible.
Google has promoted Android 5.0 as a "quantum leap forward" and demand for the mobile OS has accelerated. However, user problems might have other Android supporters rethinking updating their smartphones and tablets until these problems are resolved.
Google Nexus, LG Electronics, NVIDIA and Motorola have rolled out Android Lollipop updates for their mobile devices, but with apps crashing or freezing, it's possible to hear even more user complaints in the near future. If nothing else, Google is likely working quickly to ensure these problems are fixed as more devices are expected to receive the update.
When I reviewed the iPhone 6 Plus, the one thing that held it back was iOS - but, that could be a problem of the past thanks to a Chinese man who has installed Window 98 onto his iPhone 6 Plus. Yes, Windows 98 - not Windows XP, or even Windows 7 or 8 - but Windows 98 - the OS that could handle over 720p at 30FPS close over 15 years ago now.
The modder who installed it goes by the forum alias of 'xyq058775' and installed Microsoft's super-aged Windows 98 onto his brand new iPhone 6 Plus. He posted a bunch of pictures with some descriptions, detailing his process of installing and getting the OS running on his iPhone. The desktop OS can't run .exe files, but it can alter and change the input methods of Windows 98, which allows you to navigate through the OS.
He was even able to run Internet Explorer, on an iPhone no less. Ugh.
September 2014 has come and gone, with Google securing more of that coveted mobile OS market share pie. Android continues to lead, according to ComScore's latest data, with 52.1% of the mobile OS market, leaving iOS with 41.7% and Windows Phone with 3.6%.
When it comes to the OEM market share, Apple actually lead the pack with 41.7%, while Android is the leading platform spread across multiple partners in Samsung, LG, Motorola and HTC. Not only that, but ComScore is looking at what users are running on their phones, with Google and Facebook owning most of the top-used applications.
Facebook and its own app leads the pack, with YouTube coming in second, Google Play in third, and Google Play in fourth place. Pandora takes fifth place, Facebook returns for sixth place with Messenger, and then Google makes a return for seventh and eighth place with Maps and Gmail, respectively.
Microsoft has set aside sales of retail versions of Windows 7 and 8, with 8.1 now the only packaged software that can be found on store shelves. Consumers cannot purchase retail copies of Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium or Ultimate, and Windows 8 has also been pulled - new PCs and laptops will have Windows 8.1 pre-installed.
Windows 10, which Microsoft hopes can convince users to put full faith back into the Windows OS, is scheduled for release in late 2015.
Some manufacturers will allow customers to downgrade from Windows 8.1 down to Windows 7 Professional - and indicates Microsoft is desperate to get consumers to forget about Windows 8, even though it's just two years old.
Microsoft Windows 8.1 is finally beginning to pick up market share, increasing from 6.7 percent in September up to 10.9 percent market, according to Net Applications. The company has continued to try to convince users to leave behind older versions of Windows and upgrade to 8/8.1, but has struggled to entice users.
Due to the failure of Windows 8/8.1, Microsoft is fast tracking Windows 10 to be released in 2015 - listening to user feedback - as consumers were unhappy with 8/8.1. Windows 7 currently has 53.05 percent market share, as Vista continued its slide, down to 2.82 percent - and the unsupported Windows XP has dropped 6.69 percent down to 17.18 percent.
It seems many consumers are interested in waiting to see how Windows 10 operates before upgrading - and could be waiting to purchase new PCs and laptops.
Microsoft has pushed out the latest build of its Windows 10 Technical Preview, with build 9860 being made available to members of the company's Windows Insider Program. As long as their PC is on, or sleeping, the update will be pushed over to down, and installed automatically.
If you want to manually force this, go to PC Settings, Update and Recovery, then Preview builds and then tap on the 'Check now' button. The new update is between 2GB and 2.7GB "depending on CPU architecture and language", with the rebooting process taking a little longer than normal. Once the newest build of Windows 10 is on your machine, you'll notice it has a Windows Phone feature: Action Center.
Microsoft explains this as "This build is focused ONLY on enabling basic notifications - quick actions and cleaner UI will come later. You'll see notifications from the system and apps - from new emails and invites to IMs, Facebook posts and more - all-in-one place, so you don't miss a thing. Click on the new Action Center icon in the notification area of your taskbar to check it out". The company has also made it easier to move apps between monitors, and has also added an animation for switching desktops.
The company plastered ads between the awesome premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC, showing some Droid-looking characters in various scenarios. Google has used an interesting tagline for the new ads: "Be Together. Not the Same". We should hopefully hear about the new Nexus devices, as well as the new version of Android sometime this week.