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If you are a user of Windows 8.1 on a computer that lacks a touchscreen, you may be very frustrated at the user experience that the OS has offered so far. One of the things that Microsoft has promised to address with the first update for Windows 8.1 is making it easier for people not on touch PCs.
We mentioned last week that rumors pegged the launch of the update for Windows 8.1 to happen on April 8. That also happens to be the same day that Windows XP reaches the end of support date. Word has surfaced from sources who claim to be familiar with the goings on at Microsoft that the update has reached Release to Manufacturing or RTM.
That is a significant milestone for software and means that the update is officially ready to ship. The source also claims that Update 1 for Windows 8.1 has also been shared with PC makers and partners. The final update is said to have been compiled on February 21.
Microsoft plans to notify current Windows XP users of the April 8 end of support by onscreen pop-up notifications starting on Saturday. XP is almost 13 years old and has proven to be a great success, but Microsoft wants users to upgrade to newer OSes, which are more secure - and provide easier integration and compliance.
Microsoft is using the PCmover Express service designed to copy data and settings from XP machines to a newer version of Windows. There are a number of different software tools available that should help make switching easier, though businesses hopefully have some type of migration plans of some sort in place.
Users either refusing - or are unable - to upgrade from XP to Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 face an even higher number of potential security threats.
Rumors are circling that Microsoft is working on a new version of Windows 8.1 that the company would release for free in an effort to introduce more people to the company's flagship operating system. The free version is reportedly called "Windows 8.1 with Bing," and will include several key apps from the Redmond software giant that have been limited in functionality in an effort to promote sales of the higher tier versions of the OS.
Microsoft could introduce the free version as an upgrade from current Windows 7 customers, which could significantly boost Windows 8.1's adoption numbers. The free version of Windows 8.1 would also most likely push Microsoft's subscription-based cloud services as a way of generating revenue from the free OS. Many see the free version of Windows 8.1 as a way for Microsoft to combat Google's Chrome OS as well as the growing popularity of Linux-based OS such as Ubuntu. Additional rumors suggest that Microsoft is also using this initiative as a way to push integration of Windows RT and Windows Phone into a single low-cost mobile OS, which could entice more OEMs into releasing Windows-based smartphones.
If you are one of the PC users out there who are using Windows 8.1 without a touchscreen, you may be wondering when the next update will land. Microsoft has promised to make Windows 8.1 easier to use for people that aren't on touchscreen devices with the new update.
The update is tipped to add things like a right click context menu and the ability to launch apps from the task bar. The update is also expected to put the search and power buttons inside the Start screen. Back in January, we heard that the update might land in March.
A new rumor is making the rounds that Microsoft will wait until April 8 to make that next update. The specific day the update will land according to the rumor is April 8. There is something else interesting about that date for Microsoft fans.
MWC 2014 - AMD has partnered with Bluestacks to unveil a new dual-OS Android solution that has been optimized for AMD APUs at this weeks Mobile World Congress. The new dual OS solution brings a virtualized Android experience to new Microsoft Windows 8-based AMD-based tablets, 2-in-1s, notebooks and desktops and can be found on devices at select retailers across the US now.
"The ability to span two OS ecosystems gives end-users access to both Windows and Android apps, but the key is providing for the seamless integration of entertainment and productivity across those ecosystems," said Steve Belt, corporate vice president, Product Management, at AMD. "Introducing our solution in retail puts AMD and BlueStacks in a unique position to offer in-store customers the option to include access to this great experience at the time of purchase of their new systems."
Microsoft is beginning to finally, kind of, talk about Windows Phone 8.1, but won't utter the words during Mobile World Congress. Microsoft's Joe Belfiore says that the company will "technically" support all existing Windows Phone 8-based devices with the upcoming mobile OS update.
The company says that the update will arrive in spring, with some major changes coming to Microsoft's mobile OS. Microsoft will support on-screen buttons in Windows Phone 8.1, as well as new hardware support for Qualcomm's Snapdragon 200, 400 and 400 LTE chipsets. This will allow device makers to make cheaper devices, as well as devices without physical buttons.
Belfiore says that the changes talked about are designed to "help us get more and more momentum", while allowing phone makers to reuse their existing Windows Phone devices. The new update will also include support for apps to be stored on the microSD card, which will pave the way for cheaper phones with less on-board storage.
To appease OEM hardware manufacturers upset with disappointing Windows 8 sales, Microsoft reportedly will slash 8.1 prices it charges to OEMs by 70 percent. Instead of paying a license fee of $50 for mobile products that cost $250 or less, OEMs will now only have to pay $15 per unit.
Microsoft said it did 1.24 billion hours of Windows 8 testing during development, hearing about user displeasure of the Metro interface. New CEO Satya Nadella must try and determine if Microsoft will move on to the next version of Windows, or put full effort into trying to raise adoption as quickly as possible.
Using market-development funds and other incentives, larger hardware OEMs were paying around $30 per unit, according to a report published by Bloomberg Technology. Microsoft offers MDF money, similar to other companies, based on sales, revenue generated, using a tier system with its partners.
How is Windows 8 going for Microsoft after a year on the market? Well, Microsoft's Executive Vice President of Marketing, Tami Reller, spoke at a Goldman Sachs technology conference yesterday, where he said: "We've surpassed 200 million licenses now on Windows 8, which is pretty stunning".
This seems like a lot, and it is - especially when you compare the numbers against Windows 7 after a year in consumers' HDDs. Windows 7 at this point in time had sold over 240 million licenses, but with Windows 8 not being received anywhere near as well as its predecessor, it's doing quite well at this point in its lifecycle.
Google has pushed out a new policy that will see OEMs using newer versions of Android, if they want to quality for Google Mobile Services (GMS) - otherwise known as Google Apps, reports Android Police.
If the rumors are true, it would see the Mountain View-based giant no longer authorizing devices running versions older than Android 4.2. The report also states that OEMs will no longer be allowed to release devices running versions of Android older than Android 4.2 after April of this year, with the same rules applying to Android 4.3 after July 2014.
OEMs won't be happy with this news, but consumers will benefit greatly from having the latest versions of Android on new devices.
Winphollowers has posted some leaked screenshots from an internal Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, which show off Windows Phone 8.1's heavily improved Notification Center.
The Notification Center, or "Action Center" as Microsoft seems to call it, will display itself with a quick swipe from the top of the screen. From here, four basic settings are on-hand, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and more. These four actions are customizable, so you can play around with them, but the basic Action Center will also display the date, and battery level percentage.
If you continue to pull on the Notification Center, a full "Action Center" will be displayed with even more information and settings. Microsoft's update to its mobile OS will also push forward a split in volume controls for ringer/notifications and media/apps, too. Windows Phone 8.1 will also bring forth Microsoft's own personal assistant, "Cortana". We should hear more about Windows Phone 8.1 at Microsoft's Build developer conference in April.