Well Played Microsoft, Well Played

by Ed Sparks

April Fools Day seems to be on an upswing of increasingly clever and complex hoaxes the last few years, and Microsoft was no exception for 2015. 

Beautifully skewering their own naming practices, and particularly Apple's over-the-top design videos, Microsoft released MS-DOS Mobile.  

Today Microsoft launches MS-DOS Mobile, a new OS designed especially for Lumia smartphones.
Microsoft is going back to where productivity started for millions of people, launching a beautifully simple OS.
“Turning our back on graphics was hugely liberating. We’ve dropped the resolution, and in doing so re-discovered our roots.”

The best part of this?  You can actually download and run this thing!  Set Blaster=A220! Oh the memories.

Not to be outdone, the Mountain View folks launched com.google.

Try it yourself.    !desirprus eb thgim ouY

GDR3 vs KitKat - A Tale of Two Updates

by Ed Sparks

There's hope for Windows Phone.

A tiny hope, at least. 

We've recently been testing a couple of Windows Phones including the HTC 8X, and the surprising little $99 wonder called the Nokia Lumia 520.

While initial impressions were a mixed bag, the recent update to what Microsoft ridiculously calls "GDR3" has brought a new lease on life to the device.  Incidentally, when WHEN will this company fire their naming strategy people?

GDR3 improves the multitasking substantially by making it much clearer how to kills apps, and updating the still overly-complex and confusing "back stack" to be more consistent with other platforms.  Even more impressively, it dramatically speeds up the OS's performance.  Coupled with the arrival of, or big updates to, a number of necessary big-name apps like Instagram, Facebook, etc. it's an incredibly capable device that works exceptionally well for user's in a Microsoft environment.  Again - this was bought and paid for with NO contract - for under $99!

It's definitely worth checking out, and a great stepping stone to the flagship Lumia models.   

Windows Phone has been somewhat of a behind-the-times also-ran since it's inception, but with these recent updates, and finally a decent app story, 2014 could very well prove to be the year it solidly comes into it's own.  The "Threshold" release of Windows and Windows Phone is next.  Fingers crossed.


On the flip side, the recent Android update to 4.4 (Kit Kat) has proven nothing short of train wreck across multiple devices.  Google's outward hostility to Microsoft and their users showed up again with a completely broken ActiveSync client, and the entire OS - despite promising even more 'buttery smooth' UI - seems laggy, slow and buggy.

The gains Android has made against iOS in fit and finish and apps has been nothing short of incredible, but the recent leaps by iOS 7 and Windows Phone show this race is far from over, and Google's definitely getting a bit high on it's perch.  I'd say the personnel changes taking place on the Android team, including the loss of the founder, are showing. 

There are cracks in the Android juggernaut yet.

Microsoft to compete, by giving itself away?

by Ed Sparks

The post-Ballmer changes are well underway at Microsoft, and so far we like what we see.  Hopefully the new CEO, in conjunction with what appears to be a pretty clued in group that's new feverishly backtracking and consolidating the products, can turn this giant ship around.

First we heard of the bringing back of the actual start menu (and let's hope the banishment of the ridiculous Start Screen on Server forever!).  Now numerous reports that - smartly - Microsoft is considering giving away Windows RT and Phone to OEMs.

Let's be honest: they're getting their butts kicked by Android and iOS, so this is better late than never move that removes a key advantage of the other platforms.  
Windows Phone is on the right track, but with little OEM support and a feature-set that offers precisely nothing to end-users over Android and iOS, this can't happen soon enough to hopefully encourage a better, larger ecosystem.

Oh while you're at it Microsoft, can we please have a notification centre already?

Let's get on it!

The Verge  Toms, and GigaOm all have more.