Microsoft unveiled a nice surprise at its 2014 build conference: the third major upgrade to the Windows Store! Windows Store was introduced on Windows 8.0 as a software distribution platform. It received a major upgrade that drastically improved its usability with the launch of Windows 8.1. However, Microsoft still didn’t go far enough to make the browsing the Store a pleasant experience as it is in competing platforms. Although there were minor UI enhancements since the launch of Windows 8.1, the third upgrade to the Store truly brings it on par with the app stores of iOS and Android. I am very excited for this and I hope you are too. So let’s see what’s new! Continue reading
I know App count has lost its meaning, still we at McAkins Online feel we should inform you folks that indeed Windows Store has passed the 150000 Apps mark. Really I don’t know whether to cry or to rejoice as I don’t see the real meaning of bloggers beating the app count to death resulting in the OS Publishers allowing junk apps in the Store just to belong to the number success group. If I may have my take I’ll say let Windows Store have just 5000 App that are highly polished and worth users’ time than having to prune the Windows Store just to find App needle in a haystack. Continue reading
The Modern (aka Metro) version of VLC Media Player has passed the Windows Store certification! VLC Media Player is a very popular media player, known for its ability to play a large number of video and audio format without needing to install additional codecs. Essentially, if you can’t play a video or audio on your PC for any reason, installing VLC media player and opening the media using it will possibly allow you to play it. Continue reading
We kicked off our information about Windows 8.1 Update one with new taskbar features coming to Windows Store apps, namely the Jumplists and media controls. Today, I want to share with you another neat feature I uncovered. Windows Store (metro) applications running in multiple Windows show up in the taskbar as multiple windows. This behavior is the same in Desktop Applications since Windows 7. It is nice to see that it is being included in Windows Store applications. Continue reading
Microsoft yesterday published a new blog post discussing new features and user interface updates to Microsoft Office Word Web App. As you know, this is the web version of Microsoft Word, offered free of charge to everyone. The update includes a fresh new look and feel, footnotes, and even a new way to interact with Word and get things done! Continue reading
Hi folks! It’s Nazmus here, reporting to you that we have updated the official McAkins Online app. The update (now at version 220.127.116.11) is in certification with Microsoft and should be rolling out to you in the next few days. If you are running Windows 8.1, you will get the latest version automatically. If you are on Windows 8 or have turned off automatic app updates in Windows 8.1, you will need to manually update this app from the Store.
So what’s in this new update?
The most noticeable thing is the new look and feel. The app sports a cleaner, more beautiful design. The colors are pleasing to the eye and the entire design follows the Windows 8 design language. Gone are the gradients and unnecessary clutter!
The new update sports a new tile design that look cleaner and fits right in with your Start Screen! The tiles are live, so you will be notified of your latest posts without even having to open the app!
We fixed several annoying bugs, including the NaN bug that prevented content from showing up on the home page. We also made some performance improvements.
Check out the screenshots below to see what the new version looks like.
I had originally written this article as a guest-post on newoin.net on August 2012. To see the guest post, please click here.
According to Microsoft, Windows 8 is “a bold reimagining of Windows, from the chipset to the user experience.” This reimagining, then, brings a completely new user interface to Windows 8, an UI that is a complete departure from any previous versions of Windows. And since the first unveiling of Windows 8 and throughout its public preview releases, this new UI has been referred to, by the community, as the Metro UI because it follows the Microsoft’s design language that was known as the Metro design language. Microsoft itself referred to apps running on the reimagined Windows 8 platform (WinRT) as Metro Style apps. Why, then, isn’t the term “Metro” ever referred to in the operating system itself? More importantly, why does Microsoft officially refuse to name the new, reimagined, user interface?
According to Paul Thurrott in Windows Weekly podcast episode 274, when asked, Microsoft personnel would gladly call the classic desktop as the Windows 8 desktop, but they would never call the new UI by any particular name. When asked explicitly what the name of the new UI in Windows 8 is, they just called it Windows. So basically, we have the Windows desktop and, simply, Windows, and not desktop and Metro. At first, this seems quite strange because why would there not be an official name to the new UI in Windows 8; I will admit that I was quite confused by this as well. However, given some time to think about this, I am able to understand what Microsoft is trying to get at.
The trick to all this is to approach Windows 8 in a fundamentally different way. That is, we must not think of Windows 8 as having the Metro UI on top of the Windows 7 desktop, but rather, we should approach Windows 8 as having the Metro UI as the primary UI with desktop as the secondary option. Conceptually, Windows 8 is Metro plus desktop, and not the other way around. Technically, Metro is not primary nor secondary because both desktop and Metro is part of explorer.exe. But if we conceptually see the Metro UI as the primary Windows user interface, there is no need to really call it anything but the Windows UI. For instance, we don’t call the UI in Windows 7 the desktop UI or the Aero UI, but, rather, we call simply call it the Windows 7 user interface. This is the same with Windows XP, or Mac OSX. We call OSX’s Aqua user interface by, well, OSX user interface. The same principle applies to Windows 8, if we consider metro to be the primary UI. Metro, then is the Windows 8 UI, and because the desktop is now secondary in Windows 8, the classic Windows UI in Windows 8 is given a name of “desktop”.
Paul Thurrott does bring up a valid point that term Windows 8 UI is time bound, whereas something like Metro is timeless. That is, when, say, Windows 9 is released, the term Windows 8 UI will make no sense. I completely agree with this argument. I believe the proper name of the Windows 8 UI is Windows UI. In Windows 7 and prior, for example, the tem Windows UI represented what is now the classic desktop. There was no need to call it Windows 7 UI or Windows Vista UI because the UI paradigm was the same in these versions of Windows. Because the UI paradigm is changing in Windows 8, the metro UI in Windows 8 is being referred to as “Windows 8 UI” rather than simply “Windows UI” for differentiation. However, I do think that in the future, the new Metro UI will simply be referred to as the Windows UI. I believe in the future, when we hear the term Windows UI, we will think of what is now called Metro and we will refer to the classic UI as the desktop. Similarly, we will soon refer to Metro Style apps as Windows Apps and the traditional Windows apps as Desktop Apps.
Windows 8 is as much a transitional OS as it is a reimagining of Windows. Hence, terms such as Windows 8 UI or Windows 8 Apps are only temporary, which will eventually be replaced by broader terms such as Windows UI and Windows Apps. Metro, or Modern, or whatever they are calling it these days may be still referred to the design language itself, just like Aero or Aqua is.
- Happy Birthday, Windows Phone And MetroUI ! (wmpoweruser.com)
- Microsoft’s Windows Phone head marks Metro’s third birthday (neowin.net)
- How-to Update to Windows 8.1 (technobuffalo.com)
- Microsoft now calling Metro apps Windows 8 Store apps (reviews.cnet.com)
Windows 8.1 Preview came with a handful of new features that made it easier for desktop users to use the OS, including boot to desktop, combustibility of the start screen to appeal for the desktop usage scenario, and better multitasking. Windows 8.1 RTM adds to the list. Thanks to our friends at Into Windows for discovering this feature.
In Windows 8.1 RTM, Microsoft added the ability to return straight to the desktop after closing metro apps. Currently, if you close all metro apps on screen, you will be taken back to the start screen. In Windows 8.1, you have the option to set it so that once every metro app on a monitor is closed, you are automatically taken back to the desktop. This is useful if you use the desktop primarily and open metro apps once in a while. A good scenario is that you double click on a photo on File Explorer and are taken to the Photos app. Once you close the photos app, you will be returned back to File Explorer; neat!
You set this option from the navigation tab in the Task Manager properties, the same place you set the boot to desktop. Here’s a picture (via Into Windows).
Source: Into Windows
- Touring through the final Windows 8.1 (windowssecrets.com)
- Windows 8.1 May Have Featured App Showcase on the Start Screen (mcakins.com)
- Windows 8 delivers the goods on benchmarks (reviews.cnet.com)
- Microsoft Updates the Start Button in Windows 8.1 RTM – Screenshot (news.softpedia.com)
Yes, Microsoft was right to overhaul the traditional desktop in preparation for the future. Recently ASUS announced their 21:9 monitor, the PB298Q Ultrawide 21:9 Panoramic Monitor your are seeing here above. Other manufacturers have been announcing Ultra-wide and 4K monitors. The first thing that comes to mind seeing all these influx of ultra-wide monitors is that the traditional Desktop will be hideous on these monitors. This is just but the beginning folks, it will not end with 21:9 real-estate, but you will eventually end up with Wall2Wall monitors. I am talking of your complete living room wall as one gigantic monitor. You can have a taste of it with projectors at the moment, but projectors will not provide the kind of experience we are going to be having in about a few years.
Can you then imagine your traditional Windows 7 Desktop on such a UI, it will be ridiculous. The thought of interacting with mouse and all on such displays becomes ridiculous. You will quickly conclude that yes, Microsoft was right in preparing us for the future in which your monitors will now be you Windows to the world; pun intended. The partitioning that Windows 8 brings to the UI makes more sense with these kinds of displays than the traditional desktop. You can divide such a wide estate into sections and have apps running there. Take my word for it, now you only have vertical partitioning in Windows 8 displays, very soon, as monitor heights increases like we are seeing now for display widths, horizontal partitioning with be introduced in which you can stack your applications also vertically. Imagine a stock-ticker kind of app running at the bottom or top of your screen, or a weather app stacked vertically with a photo app. Yes, we’re going to be blown away by our future vista, believe me. The Metro UI will then make perfect sense.
With the new announcement, the internet is buzzing with the discussion of the major features of Windows 8.1. Therefore, I will not reiterate the things you may already know. Instead, I want to focus on some subtle changes in Windows 8.1 that you may have not known. There are many subtle improvements in Windows 8.1, but on the leaked build I am using, they are not yet enabled. There are other minor changes that I am not going to discuss yet because they are incomplete and will be refined further in future builds.
Start Screen Tattoos
In Windows 8, you could choose a limited number of static tattoos. The colors the tattoos are predefined and depends on the background color you chose for your Start Screen. In Windows 8.1, you are able to customize the colors of the tattoos independent of the background color of the start screen. You do this by setting the secondary Start Screen color. In this example, I have picked a blue tattoo on a black start screen, and I, then, selected an orange tattoo on the black start screen.
Furthermore, you can also have some animated tattoos in Windows 8.1. This is the closest to the resource intensive “Dreamscene” feature of Windows Vista Ultimate. But these animations on Windows 8.1 are nearly not as resource intensive.
Open Metro Apps in New Window
In Windows 8, Metro Style apps can only run in a single Window. On the Start Screen, if you right-click a metro app, you only see the options to unpin/pin, uninstall, and tile size options. In Windows 8.1, however, you have a new option when you right click a tile of a Metro App. This option is called “Open in a New Window”. This essentially allows you to open multiple windows of a Metro Style app.
Desktop Tile Improvements
In Windows 8, tiles of Desktop apps are uninteresting, as they only show the icon of the app with a background tile being a similar color as that of the Start Screen. In Windows 8.1, Desktop app tiles have background colors defined by the primary color of the app icon. For example, Microsoft Word will have a blue tile background, Excel with a green tile color, and Visual Studio with a purple tile color.
Modern File Manager
Windows 8.1 will come with a modern File Manager, labeled as “Skydrive”. I don’t agree with the naming of the app because this “Skydrive” app can do a lot more. Unlike other metro style apps, this app has full system access. If you look at the permission of the app, it shows that the app is trusted and has full access to the OS. For example, the file manager can open .exe files, which no other metro style app can do. If you have downloaded third party file manager apps, you will know that they cannot open .exe and other system files. The “Skydrive” app can open any files and access almost any location of the hard drive.
“Blue” is an update to Windows 8 that will bring patches and new features to Windows 8. We have discovered a hidden gem in “Blue” that might interest you. As you may already know, Windows 8 has two special requirements in regards to screen resolution of your device. In vanilla Windows 8, you need to have a resolution of 1024×768 to run metro-style (aka Windows 8 style) apps. However, if you want to be able to snap apps side-by-side, you will need a higher resolution of 1366×768. With the “Blue” update, however, Windows 8 will no longer require a resolution of 1366 by 768 to snap metro-style apps. As long as you have a screen resolution of 1024 by 768, you can snap metro style applications. In the video below, I demonstrate this behavior. As you can see, I am, indeed, running my PC at 1024×768 and am still able to snap apps.
We will have more blue coverage on this site, so stay tuned!
YouTube channels are hubs in which an user can upload and present their own YouTube videos. Each user gets their own YouTube channel. YouTube is about to go through a massive update to channels, bringing a more flat, tiled based, layout. Google is calling it One Channel, and it looks a lot like Metro, in my opinion. If you want to get it, you can enable it for your YouTube channel by following this link: http://www.youtube.com/onechannel
Well, today is turning out to be Excel Viewers’ Day! ComponentOne has just release an MX Viewer App too for Excel. This is sizzling hot people, fresh from the press. ComponentOne is a household name in Developers circle. The provide as their name suggest components and modules used by Devs in their apps. You may have been using their components without knowing it. They empower Devs to achieve their goals. So when a company like ComponentOne releases an App, you ought to take notice.
Now that we have different Excel viewers in the Store, the question is which one is best? Well, I am still investigating as we speak, but already my choice goes out to this current App from ComponentOne in terms of speed and function. The Anko solution doesn’t provide active Appbar from which you perform basic activity like copy/paste etc, you can only open file. Also, the ComponentOne solution is far more responsive than the Anko solution. So I am afraid we have a winner in our hand. Please note that all the solutions we have now are very difficult to work with with Touch, you may be more at home working in the sheets with a mouse or a pen-enabled devices. Hopefully we’ll see solutions down the line with fully Touch-compatible viewers. Also note that you may be able to do basic updates in the cells of these viewers, but they will not be saved. Your updates are for manipulations only, i.e. change formulas, tweak parameters etc.
This App from ComponentOne is also free as air; for now. So nothing is keeping you from getting it. Following is the excerpt from the Store:
The ComponentOne Excel Viewer allows people who do not have Microsoft Excel to view Excel workbook files.
The ComponentOne Excel Viewer is a app that lets you view Microsoft Excel workbook files (xls, xlsx files).
The ComponentOne Excel Viewer can open Microsoft Excel files but it will not display all features of Microsoft Excel. And any changes on file will not be saved back to the file.
Open Microsoft Excel Files (xls, xlsx files)
Microsoft Excel compatible UI behaviors for you easy to use
Touch friendly support
Provide data analysis functions like sort and filter
Provide UI undo redo functions
Please download this app now and start interacting with your complex Excel files from the Metro interface thereby improving your battery life on your mobile devices. Download via the Source link.
Source: Windows Store
[RED ALERT: I have just received warning from two sources in the comments that Anko is uploading your data to an external site for analysis. I do not condone this, therefore I will advice not to use this app until this has been cleared out. I will contact Anko for more information about their service and report back. In the meantime you may try the ComponentOne Viewer which is better anyway.]
[Update2: Ok Anko just placed themselves in the list of Bad Vendors. The App is NOT FREE as advertised. After two days or thereabout, you get a popup to recommend to your friends. If you say NO, you're told App trial period has expired and App is closed. This is in violation of the Store policy and I have reported them. The App is not advertised as Trialware in the Store, therefore it cannot officially expire!]
Wow! Anko has just dropped a bomb in the Store! Just last week I was imploring a Dev to work further on his Excel Sheet viewer because it was too basic, you can only view basic information, no Cell titles, no expansion of columns, no support for graphs etc, etc. Well, Anko Software, known for their Windows Phone and Windows 8 Apps has just blown everyone away with this release of Excel+ App.
I wrote then that we are happy to see Devs attempting to Metrofy Office Apps. That anything to keep us away from the Desktop is a welcomed addition on our Mobile Devices. The Desktop is power drain on a tablet. The Apps that run there aren’t optimized for power-sipping. They are power hogs! By running purely in the Metro environment, you can be sure of extended Battery-life. Therefore if all I want is just to peek an Excel file, why do I have to drop to the desktop to open Excel if I can just open simple MX App that does this. So, Excel worksheets is just the beginning, we are gunning for an MX Word Viewer too, and why not throw in an MX Powerpoint Viewer too. All these will get us on-track till Microsoft is finished porting Office to the MX environment. So, Go Anko! Go Devs! Dazzle us with what you can achieve in the MX environment. Prove the MX detractors that they are wrong. That you can also be productive in the Metro environment.
Anko is generous to make this app free for now. They need coverage of course, so I guess they’ll be asking for the money down the line somewhere. So get this while you can. Here is an excerpt of the App from the Store:
Excel + is an application for reliably viewing and interacting with Excel documents across platforms and devices. Install the Excel + app to work with Excel documents on your Windows 8 or Windows RT.
• Quickly open Excel documents
• Search text to find specific information
• Multiple spreadsheets support
• Open local as well as online documents
• Rich graphics support
Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application developed by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. It features calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications. It has been a very widely applied spreadsheet for these platforms, especially since version 5 in 1993, and it has replaced Lotus 1-2-3 as the industry standard for spreadsheets. Excel forms part of Microsoft Office.
Microsoft Excel has the basic features of all spreadsheets, using a grid of cells arranged in numbered rows and letter-named columns to organize data manipulations like arithmetic operations. It has a battery of supplied functions to answer statistical, engineering and financial needs. In addition, it can display data as line graphs, histograms and charts, and with a very limited three-dimensional graphical display. It allows sectioning of data to view its dependencies on various factors for different perspectives (using pivot tables and the scenario manager).It has a programming aspect, Visual Basic for Applications, allowing the user to employ a wide variety of numerical methods, for example, for solving differential equations of mathematical physics, and then reporting the results back to the spreadsheet. It also has a variety of interactive features allowing user interfaces that can completely hide the spreadsheet from the user, so the spreadsheet presents itself as a so-called application, or decision support system (DSS), via a custom-designed user interface, for example, a stock analyzer, or in general, as a design tool that asks the user questions and provides answers and reports. In a more elaborate realization, an Excel application can automatically poll external databases and measuring instruments using an update schedule, analyze the results, make a Word report or Power Point slide show, and e-mail these presentations on a regular basis to a list of participants.
Microsoft allows for a number of optional command-line switches to control the manner in which Excel starts.
So, you’ve got a sizzling hot device, go get this sizzling hot piece of awesomeness. Download for free now via the Source link here below; while you can. :-)
Source: Windows Store