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Five Free Start Menu Replacements for Windows 8

Pokki Windows 8 Start Menu replacer

A list of five free applications that will bring a start menu to Windows 8 along with many other exciting features.

Windows Spotlight10

Windows 8’s First Year in Review

Tuesday December 31, 2013

Help and TipsWindows 8 was released at the end of last year to mixed reviews. It offered users a lot of enhancements and new features, but also included a bunch of unpopular features and UI tweak that users would rather have removed. Understandably, it had a pretty sluggish adoption rate at first reported often as being accepted even slower than the much maligned Vista.

Though it still has a relatively small chunk of the desktop market share, Windows 8 has made strides. Windows 8 has finally overtaken Apple having a larger share than all versions of Mac OS X combined and it's user base continues to grow.

There are a few reasons why Windows 8's popularity has grown. Chief among those reasons is the release of a major feature update with Windows 8.1. In one fell swoop Microsoft added many new features, tweaked user interface issues and addressed a lot of user complaints.

Though Windows 8.1 isn't perfect, it is a major improvement. The addition of a Start button makes navigating between the Start screen a desktop much more intuitive. Microsoft also included a bunch of desktop features allowing users to boot directly to the desktop and disable hot corners at will. On top of that 8.1 also bundled a few useful apps that add a bit of value.

On the app front Windows 8 has also made a bunch of improvements. The operating system is designed largely to integrate mobile apps, but the Windows Store was slow to offer a lot of the big titles that users were itching for. Now that Twitter, Facebook and a number of other high big names have thrown an app into the Store Windows 8's modern apps seem a lot more valuable than they did at the beginning of the year.

Windows 8 still has a long way to go to catch up to its predecessors. Though it's gaining momentum, it's measly 8% share pales in comparison to XP's 30% and Windows 7's 47%. Windows XP's end of life may push a few users towards Windows 8, but it may just as easily buff Windows 7 which is shaping up to be the next XP.

Image above courtesy of Microsoft.

The Windows Store is Improving but it has a Long Way to Go

Saturday November 30, 2013
The Windows Store has been improved significantly.

 

A simple fact that has kept a lot of new users from jumping on board the Windows 8 mobile app platform is that there are a lot of apps missing from the Windows Store. Sure, there are over 1,000 apps to choose from, but a lot of the big names people are looking for have been absent. Heck, just a few short months ago there wasn't even an official Facebook app in the Windows Store.

Microsoft has been seeking to improve public opinion of their Store and seems to be making headway. With the release of Windows 8.1, users were treated to a beautifully overhauled Store. It's now easier to navigate, easier to find apps that suit your interests and, best of all, it's got that Facebook app everyone was clambering for. Coupling that with the fact that users can now sync modern apps between their user accounts, Microsoft seems to have recaptured come of their consumers wondering interest.

Since then a few more big names have jumped into the pool including Foursquare, Rhapsody, Twitter and Flipboard. Another major boon came when the popular Unity game engine announced support for the Windows platform. In just the past couple of months over 1,000 Unity apps have been added to the Store buffing the games section considerable.

Though things are certainly looking up for Microsoft's app market, it still has a long way to go. You'll notice there remains a conspicuous lack of Google apps in the store, LinkedIn has yet to provide an app for Windows 8 users and you may also notice Minecraft and Pandora missing. Though we can assume that these apps will come eventually there are certainly plenty of knock-offs to hold you over until you do.

The total number of Windows 8 apps also pales in comparison to competing markets. While the Windows Store sits around 130,000 the Google Play store and Apple App Market both boast over 1,000,000. We can hope the recent slew of new titles brings in significant new interest. You can be sure that increased interest is the only thing that will bring in those missing developers.

How do you feel the Windows Store stands up? Are there any apps you wish were around but aren't? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or connect with me on Facebook.

Image above used courtesy of Microsoft.

With So Many Options, How do you Install Windows 8.1

Thursday October 31, 2013

The Windows 8.1 update link in the Windows Store.

Windows 8.1 has been unleashed on the world and it brings with it an arsenal of great new features and tweaks. Anyone with Windows 8, and a good many users of older versions of Windows, will likely want to get their hands on it. Though the installation is necessarily difficult, it can be hard to figure out the right way to go about it. There are three ways to install Windows 8.1 and the option you choose will depend on the version of Windows you're running.

The first option is to simply download Windows 8.1 through the Windows Store. This option is the easiest installation method, takes the least time and, obviously, is the best option if you are eligible. Most users running Windows 8 (including trial and preview versions) with a Microsoft account will be able to use the Store to download 8.1. The only exceptions are users of Windows 8 Enterprise and users running a version of Windows 8 Professional with a bulk license or installed by a TechNet or MSDN ISO. This option is free to anyone who can use it.

The next best option is to perform an upgrade installation. Any Windows 8 users who aren't eligible for a Store upgrade as well as Windows 7 users will want to go this route. If you're upgrading from a version of Windows 8, you'll be given the option to preserve your personal data, account settings and even your Windows Store apps. Upgrading from Windows 7 allows you to preserve your data. Either option will lose you your desktop applications. This update will be free to Windows 8 users but Windows 7 users will have to pay.

The final option, which also happens to be the longest and most complex method, is a clean installation. Users of older versions of Windows, including Vista and XP, will need to take this route to upgrade to Windows 8.1. Though you aren't given the option to preserve anything, if you don't delete and recreate your hard disk's partitions, your personal data will be recoverable from a Windows.old folder on your C: drive after the installation. Users looking to perform a clean installation will have to purchase their copy of Windows 8.1.

Though there are a number of installation options, once you know which option is right for you, the job shouldn't be a problem. If you have any trouble with it, feel free to comment here or connect with me on Facebook. I'm happy to help.

Image above is used courtesy of Microsoft.

Why You May Not Find the Windows 8.1 Update in the Store

Tuesday October 29, 2013

The Windows 8.1 update link in the Windows Store.

As you're likely already aware, Windows 8.1 is officially complete and released to the public. Though users looking to upgrade from earlier versions of Windows will obviously have to pay for it, Windows 8.1 is free of charge to existing users of its predecessor Windows 8. Such users should be able to simply download the update via the Windows Store and install it without any fuss at all, but that isn't working out for a lot of users.

If you're currently running Windows 8 and you can't seem to find 8.1 in the Store, don't panic. Don't even run for the ISO downloads and install that way. All you need is a quick update for the Store and you'll be ready to go. For most users, the update should install automatically, but if you aren't configured for automatic updating, you'll need to get it yourself.

To trigger an update you'll need to click "Change PC Settings" from the Settings charm. Select "Windows Update" from the left pane of app that opens up and click "Check for updates now." When you get results back stating that there are indeed updates available, click "We'll install ## updates automatically."

You'll now see a list of updates available for installation. You can simply click "Install" to download and install them all, but if you're behind, that could take a while. For a faster fix, click "Choose which important updates you want to install to be taken to the Control Panel. Once there, click "## important updates are available. Deselect all but KB2871389 and click "Install." This update is less than 10 MB and should only take a minute or so. Once done, restart your computer and try the Store again. You should find a link to Windows 8.1 waiting for you.

If you know of anyone experiencing this issue, make sure to share this with them.

Image above courtesy of Microsoft.

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