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Windows 8.1 Tip: Master Auto-Snap | Windows 8 content from Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows September 22, 2013

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Paul Thurrott, Windows 8.
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One of the more interesting new features in Windows 8.1 is what I call Auto-Snap, the ability of certain actions in this OS to automatically enable Snap and place two Metro apps side-by-side. For example, when you open a picture-based email attachment in the Mail app, it opens side-by-side with Mail in the Photos app. Some people don’t like this behavior, but this simple tip will ease a bit of the pain.

Thanks to Clifford B, for tipping me off to this functionality.

(Metro) Snap debuted in Windows 8 as a way to run two apps side-by-side. But in that initial release of OS, Snap was very limited. It could only be triggered manually by the user, and yet was almost impossible to discover. And the snapped area was very small, and hard-coded to a specific pixel width, making side-by-side app usage almost pointless.

In Windows 8.1, Snap has been improved in many ways and is now far more usable. Auto-Snap is just one of those improvements: It is triggered when one app needs to open a document or other file in another app. So instead of opening the new app full-screen as before—triggering confusion on the user’s part, since many people had no idea how to get back to the original app—Auto Snap opens the new app side-by-side with the original app.

You can see this effect most clearly in the Mail app, though this isn’t the only example. When you open an attachment in Mail, the attachment opens in a new app alongside Mail. For example, here’s a picture attachment opening in the Photos app.

It’s worth mentioning, incidentally, that Auto-Snap is pretty intelligent, too. That picture attachment opens in such a way that the Photos app takes up most of the screen because a picture is visual and Microsoft understands that it requires more of the available screen real estate. But if you open a document or web URL, the app that opens those attachment types will open in a 50/50 split with Mail so you can more easily read both side-by-side.

Of course, you may want to view the second app full-screen, and once you’ve dealt with that second app, you probably want to then return to email (or whatever app you were originally using).

With a touch-based system, this is easy and works as before: You can simply drag the Snap border to a screen edge in either case. (Though of you hide the first app by displaying the second one full screen, you then need to know how to redisplay that first app, which is another issue.)

With the mouse, you can use Auto-Snap. You may already know that if you move the mouse cursor to the top of the screen in Windows 8/8.1, the cursor changes into what I call the "hamburger helper" cursor, shown here:

Note: Technically, this cursor is called the Link Select pointer.

This indicates that you can now drag the currently displayed app, to move it manually into a snapped position or to exit the app. But in Windows 8.1, you can also double-click when the cursor is in this mode. Using the previous example with the picture snapped next to Mail, doing so in the Photos app maximizes that app so that the picture is now full-screen:

But if you double-click on the hamburger helper cursor again—again, at the top of the screen—the Mail app will then reappear, full-screen. You can double-click in this way at the top of any Metro app to toggle the display of Snap.

So the next time Windows 8.1 triggers Auto-Snap, don’t despair. Just remember that you can double-click to toggle the display the way you prefer.

Windows 8.1 Tip: Master Auto-Snap | Windows 8 content from Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows

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Microsoft Windows Server 8 Hyper-V March 3, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Platforms & EcoSystems, Windows Server.
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Wow! If I had to pick one word to describe my reaction to the new and improved Microsoft Hyper-V features in Windows Server 8, then wow would be it. A little smile crept onto my face when I saw all the features that will put Hyper-V on equal footing — or ahead of — the competition, from a pure machine virtualization-platform feature comparison.

Microsoft has been clear in its message that Windows Server 8 is the OS and virtualization platform, for both private environments and the public cloud. Hyper-V provides functionality that allows Windows Server 8 to be a true cloud solution. This typically means enough scalability, flexibility, and security or isolation capabilities to handle all the possible scenarios in a cloud solution that’s shared by different business units or even different organizations

Read More…Microsoft Windows Server 8 Hyper-V

Why even waste a single dollar on VM-Ware. I’ve been running Hyper-V configurations for many years without much difficulty. They have proven reliable and consistent with a proper infrastructure design. It’s benefited my SMB customers by migrating VHDs instead of reinstalling application when upgrading to new server hardware,

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Internet Explorer 10 Secrets March 3, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Platforms & EcoSystems, Windows.
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Looking at Windows 8 broadly, I think the most curious and interesting thing about this new operating system is its dual–and dueling–personalities. This is most obviously seen in Windows 8’s new Windows runtime, or WinRT, which provides a Metro-style environment and the Start screen in addition to the more traditional Windows desktop. But it can also be seen in Internet Explorer 10.

IE 10 is a curious beast. There are two versions of this application, really two completely separate applications, in Windows 8. One is a Metro-style app and more locked down and constrained while providing a unique full-screen browsing experience that will be useful on tablets and other highly mobile devices. The other is a traditional desktop application that looks and works much like its predecessor and is fully extensible with third-party add-ons.

The two share the same rendering engines, of course, the same bookmarks, and some basic features like tabs. But the interaction between these two separate IE versions may be unclear to most users. Add a third party browser or two, or muck around with configuring a different browser as the default, and things get even weirder.

So let’s discuss a few of what I consider to be IE 10’s biggest secrets. Some of these are subtle, but those who upgrade to Windows 8 in particular, this will be worth understanding.

Read More…Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Internet Explorer 10 Secrets

WinInfo Short Takes: March 2, 2012 March 2, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in Apple, BlogoSphere, Google, Paul Thurrott, Platforms & EcoSystems.
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An often irreverent look at this week’s other news, including Microsoft’s amazingly successful launch of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Windows Azure falls for the oldest trick in the book, Google’s privacy policy change goes live and the world moves on, AT&T starts throttling more people, OnLive Desktop heads to Android, iPhone and Android lets apps steal your photos, and US users admire Apple and Google because they don’t know what these companies are really doing.

News Flash: People are Ignorant When it Comes to Love

And speaking of Apple and Google, these two wildly out of control corporations just topped Fortune’s list of the most admired companies in the United States, proving once again that the public has absolutely no idea what Apple and Google are really doing. Unbelievable.

Read More….WinInfo Short Takes: March 2, 2012

I find it’s amazing how the general person says Apple or Google is the best and most of them can’t even give you an exact reason why. I might be a Microsoft Partner, but I’m not a total fan boy. They make plenty their own mistakes over the years, but at least they take responsibility.

 

With Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft Silences the Critics March 2, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Software, Windows 8.
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Suddenly, you can see it happening: A future in which Microsoft melds the traditional Windows desktop with the highly mobile and highly connected devices that are just now exploding isn’t just possible. It’s a sure thing.

Microsoft on Wednesday unleashed its nearly feature-complete Windows 8 Consumer Preview to the public. This new pre-release milestone, called the Beta internally, is one of just a handful of public releases the company plans before delivering the final version of the OS in an expected Q4 2012 timeframe. But it’s already got the Internet buzzing.

"Get psyched," commentator and professional Apple promoter David Pogue wrote from his column at the New York Times. "With Windows 8, Microsoft has sweated the details, embraced beauty and simplicity, and created something new and delightful." 

"A Silicon Valley startup called Lytro is shipping a camera this week that actually lets you focus or refocus your pictures on a computer after you take them," commentator and professional Apple promoter Walt Mossberg wrote from his equally lofty perch at the Wall Street Journal.

Wait, what?

OK, so Mr. Mossberg hasn’t opined on Windows 8 yet, but then why would he with other such exciting topics to discuss this week? The point, however, is simple: Even Microsoft’s biggest critics—and Apple’s biggest public backers—love Windows 8. Well, assuming they give it the time of day, that is.

"We really are on the threshold of a whole new era of personal computing,
USA Today‘s more moderate Ed Baig noted in his own review. "I’m impressed by what I see."

So am I, Ed. So am I…….

With Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft Silences the Critics

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Why Metro and the Desktop Don’t Mix March 1, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Paul Thurrott.
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Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Why Metro and the Desktop Don’t Mix

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In January, I wrote a quickie blog post in which I rhetorically asked, Why Doesn’t Windows 8 Just Look Like THIS? And while tech enthusiasts rallied around my recommendation to mix Metro-style apps with the legacy Windows desktop, it turns out that Microsoft has some fairly compelling reasons for not doing so. I’d like to discuss this topic briefly.

First, here’s the mockup image I provided:

win8why

I called it "pragmatic, and doable, and entirely in keeping with the Windows team’s ‘no compromises’ slogan." Why, I asked, aren’t we getting this?

First, I assume it’s obvious to everyone that the folks responsible for Windows don’t live in a vacuum. And while there are occasional exceptions to this rule, its fair to say that anytime someone (like me, in this example) comes up with an idea like this, Microsoft had already considered it and, in this case, tossed it aside for the reasons stated below. This is the case for much of the feedback that users supply as well; the lack of decent mouse and keyboard interfaces in the Metro-style environment, for example, was well understood before the Developer Preview shipped, and while Microsoft appears to have addressed users’ concerns in the Consumer Preview, the truth is, the company had planned almost all of those changes well in advance of any actual outside feedback.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: All Apps Comes Of Age March 1, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Software, Windows 8.
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Windows 8 Consumer Preview: All Apps Comes Of Age

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If you’re familiar with Windows Phone, you know that this system presents a dual view user experience, with a primary screen called the Start screen that is filled with pinned tiles and a secondary screen called All Apps that lists every single app installed on the device. In the Windows 8 Developer Preview, however, only the Start screen was readily available. To get to All Apps, curiously, you needed to instantiate a search.

Guess what just got a lot easier?

In the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft has fixed All Apps, making it much easier to access and, as important, making it even more useful than the similar feature in Windows Phone.

To access All Apps from the Start screen, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the new App Bar and then tap the All Apps button. (With the keyboard, you can tap WINKEY + Z. Or, with a mouse, just right-click the Start screen.)

ss_app_bar

The new All Apps interface, shown below, includes a few improvements, too.

all_apps

First, as you install new applications, the All Apps screen will segregate each of the app’s various executables into groups so that they’re together. As you can see above, there are groups for internal items (Windows Accessories) as well as applications that were installe separately by the user (Microsoft Office).

Also, the presentation is denser than it was in the Developer Preview, providing more apps onscreen at once.

Microsoft tells me, however, that one more change is coming. What’s missing, currently, is a way to easily get back to where you just were. So between the Consumer Preview an RTM, Microsoft will add an App Bar to the interface with a button to go back.

Note that you can still search for apps as before, and that’s true whether you’re in the Start screen or the All Apps view. To start a search, simply start typing any letter.

search

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Windows Key Keyboard Shortcuts March 1, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Software, Windows 8.
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Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Windows Key Keyboard Shortcuts

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With the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft has completely overhauled the system of keyboard shortcuts that utilize the ubiquitous Windows Key, and as you’ll soon discover, virtually ever letter in the alphabet is now assigned to some function. This change is in keeping with the company’s desire to make Windows 8 highly usable not just by beginners with touchscreen-based devices, but also by more experienced users on traditional PCs.

Here’s the complete list of Windows Key keyboard shortcuts in Windows 8. Unless otherwise noted, each is attained by tapping and holding down the Windows Key on your keyboard while striking another character…….

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The Developer Tools March 1, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in Beta, BlogoSphere, Downloads Links, Paul Thurrott.
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Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The Developer Tools

vs11_beta

Microsoft included a pre-release version of Visual Studio 11 in the Windows 8 Developer Preview, of course, giving developers the tools they needed to get started on Metro-style app development. But with the Consumer Preview, these tools are available as a separate Beta download.

Last week, Microsoft provided a sneak peek of Visual Studio 11, though it didn’t speak much about Windows 8 developer issues specifically. I can tell you, however, that the Windows 8 platform–the Metro-based environment–was finalized about two months ago, so the versions of the APIs and platform we see now with the Consumer Preview is pretty close to complete. Too, the Visual Studio 11 Beta is close to final from a user experience standpoint.

So before we discuss anything else, you’ll want to get that download (and installation) going.

Click HERE to download the Visual Studio 11 Beta

(Note that the Beta will include separate downloads of Visual Studio 11 Ultimate, Premium, Professional, Test Professional, Team Foundation Server, Express for Windows 8, Express for Web, and Team Foundation Server Express. Visual C++, Visual C#, and Visual Basic Express editions are not available for this release.)………

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The Windows 8 App Previews March 1, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Paul Thurrott.
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Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The Windows 8 App Previews

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There’s been some confusion about the apps that are included with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Many of these apps resemble Metro-style versions of apps that Microsoft currently includes in Windows Live Essentials, and that’s not a coincidence, as they too "complete" the Windows 8 experience. But they’re included only to provide testers with this more complete experience. They’re not part of Windows. Rather, most of these apps will ship with Windows 8 on most new PCs, and will be available separately, and for free, from the Windows Store.

So what’s an App Preview? According to Microsoft, its own internal apps developers began work on these apps at about the same time that external developers received the Developer Preview code at BUILD. And with the underlying Windows 8 platform only complete for about two months, these apps are not as far along as is the OS. So they’re branded as App Previews to differentiate them from the underlying system, which is more robust and mature.

To be clear, not all of the apps included with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview are App Previews. For example, the two included games, Pinball FX2 and Solitaire, are not. I think the naming here is telling, though, and not just for the fact that each app is incomplete.

In any event, here’s a quick rundown of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview App Previews…….