Microsoft Updates Windows Store to Show Really Large Screenshots

Microsoft has quietly updated the Windows Store in Windows 8.1. The update is server side. That is, you will not need to update your operating system to see the changes; it is automatically available for all users of Windows 8.1. What is the update, you might ask? Basically, the screenshots in the app landing page are huge! It actually looks pretty nice. Before this update, the screenshots were much smaller, and you could see more of the panoramic view of the Store. But now, with the much larger screenshots, most of your screen is used by the app screenshots.

Here are some screenshots. Note that the resolution is 1920 by 1080. Before the update, I observed the app screenshots to be much smaller and I could see more stuff on screen than I can now.

Flixter App Landing Page

Windows Store Large Image

McAkins Online App Landing Page

McAkins Online App Updated With Improved UI

McAkins Tile Wide v2

Preview and Install

Hi folks! It’s Nazmus here, reporting to you that we have updated the official McAkins Online app. The update (now at version 1.1.0.3) 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.

Help & Tips Explore Great Windows Apps and Games Xbox Games for Windows Playing a Video

Why Metro UI Doesn’t Have a Name (Original Article from Summer 2012)

I had originally written this article as a guest-post on newoin.net on August 2012. To see the guest post, please click here.

Montreal Metro Sign

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.

Download Windows 8.1 ISO Using your Windows 8.0 Key

Folks, we have some GREAT news for you! A Microsoft community member have figured out a loophole that lets you download Windows 8.1 using your Windows 8.0 product key! The community member’s name is Tom. Here’s his tip.

Easy Steps to get Windows 8.1 ISO

Step 1: Go page and click on the “Install Windows 8″ button. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/upgrade-product-key-only

Step 2: Run the file and enter in your retail Windows 8.0 product key. Click Next.

Enter Windows 8 product key

Step 3: It will show you the version of Windows that is to be downloaded. Click Next.

Ready to Download Windows

Step 4: Download should be started. Cancel the download immediately by clicking the X button on the upper right of the setup Window.

Downloading Windows 8

Step 5: Go to this page again and, now, click on the “Install Windows 8.1″ button.  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/upgrade-product-key-only

Step 6: Run the file and it should say “Download is interrupted”. Close it and run the file again. It should now start downloading Windows 8.1.

Downloading Windows 8.1 50%

Step 7: Once the download is complete, you will be given the option to create an ISO file. Do this and you now have an ISO file that you can use at your disposal.

You can now also use this ISO file to burn to a DVD or USB and use it to refresh or reset your PC! This is great to see the community members stepping up to make up for the stupidity of Microsoft not willing to give its paying customers an ISO file.

Thanks to Tom for finding this awesome workaround! Here’s Tom’s original forum post: http://www.eightforums.com/installation-setup/33164-how-download-windows-8-1-iso.html

This post was originally published in McAkins Online

[OBSOLETE] We Have Found a Solution to the Refresh and Reset Problem in Windows 8.1!

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Windows Blue

Warning! This solution doesn’t fully work and is now obsolete!!! We have a newer, easier, and more reliable solution that does work and have been tested multiple times with success! Please see the new article on how to download a Windows 8.1 ISO using you Windows 8.0 retail product key. http://mcakins.com/2013/10/19/download-windows-8-1-iso-using-you-windows-8-0-key/

I am very excited to share with you guys that my efforts to find a solution to the frustrating refresh and reset problem in Windows 8.1 has not been fruitless. As you may now, we have blogged earlier that if you upgrade your retail copy of Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 using the Windows Store, you will loose the ability to refresh or reset. Well, I have good news for you, as I have discovered one way to regain the functionality in your Windows 8.1 install!

As you may recall from the previous blog post, when you upgrade to Windows 8.1, you cannot refresh or reset your PC due to missing installation files. To make matters worse, Microsoft stubbornly refuses to provide any ISO image or recovery files to go along with the Windows Store upgrade. However, the good news is that Microsoft is providing an ISO of Windows 8.1 to any users for free. This ISO is the Windows 8.1 Enterprise Evaluation for IT professionals. And because all Windows 8 ISOs contains the files necessary to install any edition of Windows, you can use the Enterprise evaluation ISO to refresh or reset your Windows 8.1 PC!

Please follow the steps to restore the refresh and reset functionality to Windows 8.1

Tutorial Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Step 1: Download the Windows 8.1 Enterprise Evaluation ISO

Please go to the following link to download the Windows 8.1 Enterprise ISO. Remember, you MUST download the version (32-bits or 64-bits) that match your current install of Windows 8.1!

Download link: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/evalcenter/hh699156.aspx?CR_CC=200320080

If you are using 64-bit Windows 8.1, download the 64-bit version of the evaluation. If you are using 32-bit version of Windows 8.1, then download the 32-bit version of the evaluation. If you don’t do this, it will NOT work.

Step 2: Mount the ISO Image

Right-click on the ISO image you downloaded and click “Mount”. Then, open “My Computer” aka “This PC” and double click on the ISO image you mounted.

Mounting ISO

Step 3: Locate and Copy Install.wim

Once you have double clicked on the mounted ISO image from “My Computer” aka “This PC”, go to the “Sources” folder. In that folder locate a file called “install.wim”. Right-click on it and click “Copy” to copy the file to the clipboard.

Finding Install.wim

Step 4: Setup the Refresh Folder

Open “This PC” and go to the C drive. There, create a new folder called Win8 (You can call it whatever you want, actually. Just remember to replace ‘Win8′ with the name you have given it in the steps below).

Paste the Install.wim file you copied earlier in this folder.

Pasting Install.wim

Step 5: Some Command Prompt Magic

Open the search charm and type “CMD.exe”. Do not press enter. Right-click on the first result you get below the search box and choose “Run as Administrator”.

Once a Command Prompt window opens, type the following commands:

reagentc.exe /setosimage /path C:\Win8 /target c:\Windows /Index 1

That is all you have to type. Press enter.

It should say:

Directory set to: \\?\GLOBALROOT\device\hardisk0\partition2\Win8

REAGENTIC.EXE: Operation Successful.

C:\Windows\system32>

Please replace “Win8″ if you named that folder something else. Also, if your copy of Windows is installed on a different lettered drive, replace the letter c with the appropriate letter in “C:\”.

Step 6: Refresh or reset your PC from PC settings

Now, whenever your PC is not running well, you can use the refresh and reset functionality in PC Settings.

For more information on how to do this, please see this Microsoft support article: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/restore-refresh-reset-pc

Refresh or Reset Windows 8.1

Concluding Thoughts

Since Microsoft failed to provide a proper solution to this problem, we as the community must help each other out. I really hope this helps you solve the refresh/reset problem in Windows 8.1. If you have any questions whatsoever, please leave a comment below. I will try to get back to you as soon as I can Inshallah (God Willing).

Helpful Links

Instructions on how to Reset and Refresh Windows 8 without DVD from our friends at IntoWindows

http://www.intowindows.com/how-to-reset-or-refresh-windows-8-without-dvd/

Download Windows 8.1 Enterprise Evaluation

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/evalcenter/hh699156.aspx?CR_CC=200320080

Visual Studio 2013 Will Be Released on October 31 for Dreamspark Users

Visual Studio 2013 Logo

Microsoft Dreamspark is a program by Microsoft that allows students and teachers to have free access to professional Microsoft Software. These software include Microsoft Visual Studio, Windows Server, Microsoft Robotics Studio, and much more! Dreamspark users have free access to Visual Studio Professional Editions. This is true for Visual Studio 2013 as well.

While the final version of Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 is available for customers to purchase or obtain as part of MSDN today, Dreamspark users will have to wait a little longer to get the bits. According to the Dreamspark download page, the final version of VS2013 will be available for Dreamspark users on October 31, 2013. That’s about two weeks from the time of this writing.

Visual Studio 2013 Dreamspark Release Date

If you are a student, and you really need to get your hands on the final version before the 31st of October, you can download the trial version of Visual Studio 2013 from here. Then when the bits are available in Dreamspark, you can get it from there. Alternatively, you can install the release candidate version from Dreamspark, and perform a direct upgrade to the final release after October 31st.

Helpful Links

Download trial versions of Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 if you need it now:

http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/eng/downloads

Visit the Microsoft Dreamspark website:

http://dreamspark.com

Visual Studio 2013 available for download — Blog at MSDN

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/somasegar/archive/2013/10/17/visual-studio-2013-available-for-download.aspx

Warning! If You Upgrade to Windows 8.1 Through Windows Store, You May Loose The Ability to Refresh and Reset

Ready to Refresh Windows 8 (1)

I am reporting to you with a very important precaution for anyone who has Windows 8 retail and is planning to upgrade to Window 8.1 for free through the Windows Store. This is serious because you may loose the ability to refresh or reset Windows once you do the upgrade, and there is no easy way to fix this, currently. This applies to every one who bought and installed a retail copy of Windows 8 (including those who took advantage of the $40 upgrade offer).

Here’s a quick background on what the reset and refresh functionality is. Basically, it is a “push-button” reinstallation of Windows. The refresh option allows you to reinstall Windows while keeping your files and settings intact, and the reset option allows you to do a easy, once-click, clean install of Windows. This feature is very important, as you might need to reinstall your OS if you are experiencing slowdowns or are infected by a computer virus.

If you have purchased and installed a retail copy of Windows 8 and have upgraded to Windows 8.1, you have essentially lost this crucial feature, Please see below for details on this. Below, please refer to the scenario that applies to you. You either upgraded to Windows 8 electronically or used an upgrade DVD or ISO.

If You Installed Windows 8 Electronically from Windows.com

Many have installed Windows 8 electronically from Microsoft. This includes many who took advantage of the $40 upgrade offer. If you have done this, the web installer created an ESD file on your hard drive that allowed you to refresh or reset your Windows 8 PC.

The ESD file is located in a hidden ESD folder on your main drive (usually the C drive). It is a few gigabytes in size and provides all the necessary files needed to reset or refresh you PC at anytime you needed. See the image below:

Windows ESD files to refresh and reset (3)

You were also given the option to delete the ESD file using Disk Cleanup if you wanted to free up some disk space, but that would mean you would loose the ability to refresh or reset.

Windows ESD Installation file in Disk Cleanup

After You Install Windows 8.1 Through the Windows Store

When you upgrade to Windows 8.1 through the Windows Store, you are not provided with an updated ESD file. Windows 8.1 cannot use the original Windows 8.0 ESD file to reset or refresh. As such, if you attempt to refresh or reset Windows 8.1, you will see this error message, asking you for the Install media. However, you were never provided the install media and you are stuck! Please see the image below:

Insert Media to Reset or Refresh

If You Installed Windows 8 from a DVD or ISO Image

You might have purchased a Windows 8 upgrade DVD from a retailer. Alternatively, you might have purchased Windows 8 upgrade electronically from Microsoft, but, instead, you might have created an ISO image, burned it to disk and installed it from there. In either case, the following applies to you.

Windows 8 installations that were done through the DVD or ISO can only refresh or reset using the DVD or USB drive containing the installation files. When you need to reset or refresh Windows 8, you will first need to insert the Installation media in your drive and then reset or refresh your PC from PC settings.

After You Install Windows 8.1 Through the Windows Store

When you upgrade to Windows 8.1 through the Windows Store, you essentially get a brand new OS. Therefore, you can’t use your original Windows 8.0 install media to reset or refresh Windows 8.1 if you ever need to. Even if you have your original Windows 8 install media in the drive, you will get an error message when you attempt to refresh or reset your PC, asking you to provide the install media. However, you were never provided the install media and you are stuck! Please see the image below:

Insert Media to Reset or Refresh

Final Thoughts

If you care about being able to refresh or reset your PC for any reason, I suggest you do not yet upgrade to Windows 8.1 until Microsoft comes out with a fix or the community finds a solution to this problem. Of course, one solution is to give Microsoft over a hundred dollars to get a Windows 8.1 DVD, with which you can refresh or reset, but that is not a pleasant solution. We’ll keep you posted when a solution arrives, God Willing.

Report: REALLY Good News is Coming for Future Windows Phone Updates

windows phone 8This may sound like a dream but comments from Paul Thurott suggests that the days of waiting months for Windows Phone updates to be rolled out is over. Now, Mr. Thurott is not saying exactly what it is, probably due to NDA, but he hinted at some very interesting thing.

There are three hints from the Microsoft watcher that should be noted. First is a comment on his blog in response to people blaming AT&T for the delay of Windows Phone GDR3 update on devices such as Lumia 920. Earlier, Microsoft MVP Richard Hay suggested that the delay was not due to AT&T blocking the update but a technical glitch on the update itself, which Microsoft had to fix. Thurott confirms this in the following comments in response to people blaming AT&T for the delay:

“No one is to blame. An unexpected problem came up. It was fixed. It was tested. And then it was released.”

“AT&T wasn’t at fault for this delay and had no way of knowing when the problem would be fixed. It delivered the updates as soon as it got a fixed version of GDR2.”

Now here’s the second, more interesting, comment from Paul Thurott, on the same article. He responds to this reader comment:

“Now we can go ahead and prepare early for complaining about GDR3. :)”

Mr. Thurott responds: “No need for that. Stay tuned.”.

Finally, we have the best hint that suggests that something is really changing in the Windows Phone update front. Mr. Thurott, on What The Tech, responds to the following question by Andrew Zarian. The conversation starts at 20:40 minute mark and ends at 21:27 mark:

Andrew Zarian: “When the next release (GDR3) comes out, would it be coming on [Lumia 520]?

Paul Thurott: “Yes. I can’t say much about that right now, but there’s going to be some good news there….[the lack of updates] aren’t going to be an issue going forward. I’ll talk more about that next week. But that won’t be a problem.”

This quick conversation seems to suggest that something is drastically changing for Windows Phone updates that may put an end to the long delays on getting updates. Paul Thurott says he can talk more about this next week, suggesting that Microsoft might have something to announce along this line!

What are your thoughts on this. I am very excited to see what exactly happens, but if what Thurott alludes to is correct, we might be in for a treat!

Source: Supersite for Windows and What the Tech

This article was first posted on McAkins Online.

Windows 8.1 GA Sneak Peek — Windows 8.1 Apps on the Windows 8 Store

At the general availability of Windows 8.1 on October 18, new apps will flush into the store. Many of these apps are exclusive to Windows 8.1 and are not compatible with Windows 8.0. But how will Windows 8 users see these exclusive Windows 8.1 apps? As it turns out, Windows 8 users can, indeed, see Windows 8.1 apps on the Windows 8 store.

When Windows 8.1 launches, exclusive Windows 8.1 apps will be listed in the Windows 8.0 store with a big banner asking them to update to the new OS if they want to take advantage of the app. This is what it will look like.

8.1 app on Windows 8

 

As you can see, Movie Moments is an app incompatible with Windows 8. Therefore, users of Windows 8 still see the app on the Windows Store, but rather than an Install button, they have a button that takes them to the Windows 8.1 download page. Microsoft wants to do the best they can in order to promote the new OS as well as get users to the latest version so that developers can target more customers while taking advantage of the latest features and APIs of Windows 8.1.

Source: BUILD 2013

Windows 8.1 RTM Adds A New Desktop Friendly Feature Since the Preview

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).

Show-desktop-after-closing-apps-in-Windows-8.1-step2_thumb

Source: Into Windows

Windows 8.1 May Have Featured App Showcase on the Start Screen

We all are anxiously waiting for the general availability of Windows 8.1 on October the 18th. We are hoping that we will also see some influx of new apps designed for Windows 8.1 and apps that Microsoft has promised us in the 2013 BUILD conference, namely Facebook and Flipboard. Another thing we might find in GA of Windows 8.1 is a new presentation of featured apps on the Start Screen.

The new Windows (8.1)

If you see the image above (acquired from the Windows Website), you will notice that the Store Tile features a more prominent live tile. In Windows 8.0, the Windows Store tile was a live tile, but it would only show the number of app updates available. In Windows 8.1, it appears that the Windows Store is showing featured apps that users can download. You may already know that the RTM version of the Windows 8.1 allows you to set the Store tile to large, and on the picture above, it makes sense as to why one would want to do this. It seems that if you set the tile to large, you can see a collection of featured apps that Microsoft recommends.

Of course, if you choose to do so, you can turn off the live tile for Windows Store, or make it a small tile. You can also unpin a tile, as before. I am personally very excited for this feature, as it allows me to see new editorial app pics without having to launch the Windows Store. Secondly, it looks kind of nice. What do you think? If you are already running Windows 8.1 RTM, let us know if this feature is already available to you.

Update: This feature is not yet available in the RTM release that has been provided to MSDN and TechNet subscribers (as well as Dreamspark Premium users). It is very likely that it is part of the massive post-RTM updates that is coming before GA. All current RTM users will be able to download the updates from Windows Update for free in the near future.

Let’s Run Internet Explorer 4 on Windows 8

Let’s have some fun guys! We are going to run ancient software in Windows 8. This time, however, it’s not any old software but a component of Windows that is almost two decades old! We are going to run Internet Explorer version 4.0 on Windows 8.0. Yes, I am serious! Let’s get to it. Continue reading

Experiment: Running Windows 98 on Windows 7 & 8

Is running windows 98 on windows 7 or 8 possible in 2013? Well first, Windows 98 was released in 1998. That’s a whooping 15 years! We are going to try running this 15 year old bad boy and see just how compatible these operating systems are.

We will browse the web and try installing modern software designed to run on Windows 7 and 8. Is it possible to browse today’s modern web? Can we install today’s applications in Windows 98? How far can we go? Join us, as we venture into the world of a 90’s operating system in the second decade of the 21th century!

Windows 8 Glitch Causes Windows 95 UI to Appear

For some strange reason, I encountered a Windows 8 glitch that did something unusual. Windows 8 fell back to the Classic, Windows 95 style, theme for window boarders, and user interfaces, such as buttons, text boxes, radio buttons, and more.

The Windows 95 UI theme, also known as Windows Classic Theme was finally removed in Windows 8 as an option. Up until Windows 7, users could switch to the Windows Classic UI theme. However, even though the classic theme in Windows 8 is no longer an option, it is still dormant, revealing itself when Windows needs to fall back to something simpler, and old fashioned.

Can’t play the video? Click here!