Review: Outlook.com Web Mail 2013

Outlook.com Welcome messageHotmail gets the Metro treatment to become Outlook.com. Microsoft’s web-based email service remains solid, without starting a revolution.

Realising that Hotmail was getting long in the tooth, and was hardly a unified experience sitting in the Windows 8 browser, Microsoft is now adopting Outlook as a brand for personal, web-based email services.

The accompanying facelift – or face-flattening when you look at the Fisher-Price Metro/Modern-UI look imported from Windows 8 – means it sits comfortably in the Metro browser.

I finally got ‘upgraded’ from Hotmail to Outlook.com, which I put off as long as I could: as we know, not all such upgrades are an improvement. Continue reading

Review: Terms of Service – Didn’t Read

Witchburning by Robert Benner (mullica)We reserve the right to enslave your first-born whilst burning you alive inside a wicker effigy after harvesting your organs for transplant surgery. Without anaesthetic. Click here to agree to these Terms of Service.

“Terms of Service; Didn’t Read” (short: ToS;DR) is a young project started in June 2012 to help fix the “biggest lie on the web”: almost no one really reads the terms of service we agree to all the time.

How onerous, exploitative or indeed dangerous are all these Terms of Service? How can you tell? What do you need to know?

ToS;DR aims at creating a transparent and peer-reviewed process to rate and analyse Terms of Service and Privacy Policies in order to create a rating from Class A to Class E. Continue reading

Opinion: IE9 Theme Tune Mystery

IE9 TV adOk, I don’t get it. I don’t get the ad, which is on prime time TV and says next to nothing about IE; you barely get to see the browser.

I definitely don’t get the choice of theme song that plays over the top, not just underneath, the visuals. The ad features the song Too Close by UK-based singer Alex Clare which itself has a tenuous video featuring kendo swordsmen in a derelict building.

I suspect the marketing men leapt on a trending dub-step remix by an up-coming artist without actually listening to the lyrics. Continue reading

Opinion: Chasing Upgrades – Windows 8

New Windows 8 logo image“Windows 8 is being released soon and it’ll compete with Android and iPhone!”
“Really? I heard it’s still only for desktops.”

Following on from the Windows 8 Editions announced last month, there’s been time to reflect on the whole subject of Windows 8; do you need it? Will you upgrade at home? More importantly to Microsoft, will you upgrade at work?

The Windows 8 Pro desktop, licensed per-seat or per-machine, is likely be too expensive for most small business owners (less than five employees), even those located in western Europe or US. This large target group will require Remote Desktop (host), EFS, BitLocker as well as some of those many other features Microsoft is reserving for the volume-licensed Enterprise version.

Not only that, but Microsoft persists in thinking that these people will upgrade to a Windows Server-based network just like they did in the ’90s. Many of us got by then without needing Windows Server for small business, things are even easier now. Continue reading

How-to: Understand Windows 8 Editions

New Windows 8 logo imageI’ve left the dust to settle a while before runnning through this: the Windows 8 Editions (SKUs) have been officially announced by Microsoft. These are the editions of Windows 8 that will be available for purchase, along with the upgrade paths from Windows 7.

As usual, Microsoft’s behavioural disorder shows through in the packaging and naming; it’s a marketing-led company that doesn’t seem to understand marketing; Microsoft’s engineers think it’s an engineering-led company so they don’t listen to anything the marketing people say; the Board think it’s a cash-cow, so the entire sales strategy is determined by the amount of money that Microsoft thinks it can screw out of customers by twisting the editions regardless of the fact that it makes no sense to the customers. Business as usual, then… Continue reading

How-to: Escape the Windows 8 Re-boot Loop

Windows 8 Consumer Preview - Metro UIWindows 8 will install fine into an Oracle VirtualBox VM, but once the drivers are installed via Guest Additions,  you can  stuck in the reboot loop with the various error codes. It  can happen at random times during the OS boot process, leaving you with the fish and the Morris-dancing dots on a black screen.

I got into the same situation and here is what I did:

1. When Windows 8 stops with the  fish and the dancing dots, hit  Ctrl-Alt-Del for 3 or 4 times
2. This interrupts the system sufficient for it to identify that there is a problem, so you should get the message saying “Preparing Automatic Repair”
3. The message will change to “Diagnosing your PC” after a pause
4. You will then get the usual message about rolling back to a previous System Restore point and possibly losing some installed programs/drivers Continue reading