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Microsoft ditches Adobe Flash within Metro IE in Windows 8


Announced in an official blog post earlier this week, Microsoft explained why the company wouldn’t be supporting plugins within the Metro version of Internet Explorer 10. Designed to improve security and reliability as well as preserve precious battery life, Microsoft believes leaving out support for plugins like Adobe Flash should ultimately offer the best experience for the consumer. Microsoft claims to have studied nearly 100,000 popular websites and over 60 percent of them already offer HTML5 video for site visitors if the Flash plugin isn’t installed. However, if a user opts to use the desktop version of Windows 8, the Abode Flash plugin is supported.

In addition, Microsoft hasn’t included support for Silverlight within Metro, instead opting to rely on HTML5. For instance, users attempting to use the Netflix streaming video application in the Metro version of Windows 8 won’t be able to access it until Netflix rolls out support for HTML5 video. However, users can flip back over to the desktop version of Windows 8 to install Silverlight and watch Netflix video. If Microsoft decides to create a Metro-only version of the OS for tablets, Flash support would be absent similar to Apple’s approach with the iPad and iPhone. Apple has long been a critic of Adobe Flash and former CEO Steve Jobs constantly stated that Apple should have to wait on a third party developer to improve software for other iPhone and iPad developers to utilize during creation of new apps.

Adobe was quick to respond to the news that Windows 8 Metro wouldn’t support Flash. The company mentioned that they are working on a version of Flash that’s compatible with low-power processors found in tablets and smartphones. They also stress that users of Windows 8 will be able to seamlessly switch over to the desktop version of Windows 8 when landing on a site that requires the Flash plugin.

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Mike Flacy
By day, I'm the content and social media manager for High-Def Digest, Steve's Digicams and The CheckOut on Ben's Bargains…
Turns out, nobody wants to touch Windows 8 (and Microsoft is screwed)
nobody wants to touch windows 8 laptop sales suffer turns out

The numbers are coming in on touchscreen laptop sales, and they don’t look good. In May of this year, a report from DisplayBank, a division of market research company IHS, said that only 10 percent of laptops shipped worldwide during the first three months of 2013 had a touchscreen (this tidbit was reported as good news). And last week Bob O’Donnell, an analyst for IDC, told Computerworld that forecasts for touchscreen sales have dropped from up to 18 percent of all notebooks to between 10 percent and 15 percent of the market.
Poor sales spell big trouble for Microsoft. The company banked on touch as the next big thing, but consumers don’t seem to be buying it so far. Does this mean Windows 8 has failed to achieve its goals, or are there still a few tricks for Redmond to play?
The numbers are worse than they look
Skeptics might look at the figures and say: So what? While some success stories do take over a market overnight, most grow at a slow but steady rate. If touchscreens have taken 10 percent of the notebook market in the year, and grow at a similar rate every year, they’d be the majority of laptops by the end of 2016. 

That’s true enough, but Windows is not an operating system for notebooks. Desktops still make up 30 percent to 40 percent of the market, depending on whose numbers you look at. If about half of all notebooks had touch by 2016, that’d still put total adoption at less than 50 percent because of the desktop market, which is only seeing touch embraced by expensive all-in-ones.
And it gets worse. PC sales are plummeting, so whatever slice touchscreens take is part of a dwindling pie. That in turn worsens overall adoption, because these market share figures only cover new devices, not the existing base. There are hundreds of millions of Windows users who have existing PCs without touch, and Windows 8 does not and will never provide a reason to upgrade for them.
No one wants to touch Windows 8
Windows 8’s flaws have resulted in the worst of all worlds. Instead of providing a cross-platform solution, Microsoft bred an operating system that’s not great for any particular platform. And the company stubbornly continues to encourage PC manufacturers to push Windows 8 over Windows 7, despite the fact many users who don’t care about touch would prefer to have the latter instead of the former.
Windows 8’s flaws have resulted in the worst of all worlds.
This is a dire situation. Instead of encouraging growth in a PC market assailed by tablets, Microsoft has made the situation worse by giving users yet another reason not to buy a new PC. There’s no way to know how much Windows 8 contributed to the decline of computer sales, but it’s clear that the new OS has done nothing to help.
A lack of competition provides a silver lining for all this bad news. Nearly two decades of near-monopoly has left users with no alternative. Macs are too expensive for most, and Linux is too difficult to understand. But that doesn’t mean users are eager to spend. They’re looking for a way out. Tablets provide one excellent escape route, and if another appears, Windows might not survive.
What can Microsoft do? 
Windows 8 is a failure. Besides providing slow sales, the operating system hasn’t slowed the PC market’s decline or spurred a massive growth in touchscreen PCs. Like any failed project, it should be abandoned. Instead of trying to patch the hull of a sinking ship, the company needs to go back to the drawing board. This might mean a new, better compromise solution, or it might mean spinning Windows and Windows RT into two very different beasts for different very different tasks. Another idea would be to expand the Windows Phone OS into the tablet space.

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Windows 8.1 Preview hands on: Microsoft tackles W8 issues, but does it score?
windows 8 1 preview review start screen

We really liked Windows 7. It was easy to use, intuitive, and didn't stray too much from XP. Then, Windows 8 came out and we, like many people, were caught off guard. The operating system’s been out for nearly nine months now, so the qualms about Windows 8 (no Start button, the RT and Pro split,  the weird Desktop and Metro thing) are nothing new.
With the rate that PC sales are declining (yes, some of this can be attributed to the rise in tablet sales), it's no surprise that Microsoft hustled to fix some of these issues. It hasn’t even been a year, and, as Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer announced yesterday at its Build developers conference, the company is already releasing an update. Available to download now as a preview version, Windows 8.1 aims to mend the sores on Windows 8’s damaged body. 
We spent some time with Windows 8.1 yesterday at Build, trying it out on Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet, and we like what we’ve seen. Is it going to make us stop pining for the simple joys of Windows 7 again, though? Let’s find out…
The return of the Start button 
One of the most common complaints with the release of Windows 8 was the loss of the Start button. Microsoft originally claimed it ditched the Start button because no one was using it. Perhaps it was a case of not knowing how good we had it until it was gone, but many Windows 8 users missed the lil’ guy. Companies even created Start menu replacements so that we could bring the Start menu back to our Windows 8 devices. Rumors started circulating back in May that Microsoft was bringing back the Start button, and those rumors are true.  
It’s nothing major, really …  just a little four paned Windows icon that sits in the usual bottom left-hand corner of the Desktop screen. Hitting the Windows icon on either the keyboard or the Charms menu will bring you to the Desktop interface, where you’ll be able to hit the Start button to give you access to all your standard operating options, including Task Manager, Control Panel, Programs and Features, etc. Yes, you’ll even be able to shut down your device through the Start button menu – just like the old days. 
Though we didn’t experience this during our brief hands-on time, users will also be able to boot straight to the desktop, bypassing the Metrofied Start screen, and giving you the illusion that you’re not using a Windows 8 device.

Apps view
Though you may not be able to tell the difference between a Windows 8 device and a Windows 8.1 device at first glance, a quick swipe of your finger will tell you. Swiping up on the Start screen will bring you to a page with all of your apps. The All Apps view, as it’s called, lays out every one of your apps and lets you sort to view your apps by name, by date installed, by most used, or by category. We’re fans of these options, as we sometimes can’t find an app that we downloaded two days ago – yes, we download a lot of apps.

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Microsoft demos Windows 8.1 Start button, talks updated portrait mode for mini tablets

Arguably the most anticipated feature in Windows 8.1 is the return of the Start button, but you've only been reading about it. NetworkWorld, however, caught a glimpse of the Start button in action on camera at Computex 2013 in Taiwan, so you no longer have to imagine just how the new feature really works.
For folks who have been hoping that the Start button would bring back some of the capabilities of the classic Start Menu, which is a pop-up menu that lets you launch everything from files to programs in previous generations of the operating system, this video will probably disappoint you.
As you can see in the clip (skip to 1:17 for the Start button bit), the new button looks like the new Windows logo and is located in the same bottom left-hand corner of the screen. It's really just an on-screen version of the Windows key on your keyboard, which brings you back to the Metrofied home screen when pressed. When the Microsoft rep clicked on the new button, the Metrofied home screen appears on top of the Desktop wallpaper.  While this is a visually pleasing transition from one screen to another, it's not really something to get excited about.

Microsoft was also in a chatty mood about its improved portrait mode now that mini-Windows tablets like the 8-inch Acer W3 is available on the market. Since these tiny slates are powered by the x86 Intel Atom processor, they run full Windows and other legacy software like full Office 2013. In fact, as we reported earlier this week, Microsoft is offering Office Home and Student 2013 for free to new owners of these small Windows devices; the W3 will be preloaded with the $140 software. But the concern is whether these mini-Windows devices just too small to use software that was originally designed for the PC?
Antoine Lebond, Microsoft's Windows corporate vice president of program management, said on-stage at Computex that the company did a lot of tweaking to Windows 8.1 to make the most of smaller 7- to 8-inch screens. "We did some work at the device interface level around edge detection and things like that to make it easier to have smaller bezels on these devices so that OEMs and folks who build devices like this could build exactly the kinds of devices they want, and Windows 8.1 will be great on them," he said. (Perhaps the small Windows tablets use some of the "Smart Frame" screen resizing technology that Intel showed off with its North Cape hybrid device at CES back in January?) In addition, his team also created "portrait-specific" Start screen layouts for smaller devices, and made sure that all the preloaded apps will work in both portrait and landscape modes.
That said, Lebond didn't exactly touch on whether the bundled Office 2013 suite has been optimized for touch control. Frankly, even Windows 8's Desktop mode is a bit too tiny to use on a 10.8-inch screen, like the Dell XPS 10 we reviewed, so it's hard to imagine how much zooming in or scrolling it would require to edit an Excel spreadsheet on a mini-Windows tablet.

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