Windows 8, three editions for the average consumer

I always asked myself why Microsoft was so technical is naming their Windows RT edition of Windows. We all know it looks and functions the same as Windows 8, so why not just call it as it is; Windows 8. Not to mention the ‘Windows 8’ label doesn’t give any clue to what it offers. So instead of slapping confusing and potential-buyer-deterring labels, use three easy to remember and easy to compare and easy to differential labels:

  • Windows 8 Tablet Edition: It’s simply the modern Windows 8 interface without Desktop mode. Why include Desktop if the user won’t be able to install or run anything else besides the pre-installed Office suite? And since we all know Office suite will eventually be available as modern apps, this is more reason to completely remove Desktop from this edition.
  • Windows 8 Standard Edition: This is basically the current offering of Windows 8 (not the Pro edition). If you think about it, Windows 7 never came out as Windows 7, even the home edition was called Windows 7 Home. Heck, there was even a Windows 7 Basic edition. So why didn’t Microsoft clarify this by calling it Windows 8 Home or Windows 8 Standard like Windows 7 Home? I prefer the ‘Standard’ label since many small businesses are actually using the Home edition in their office therefore it makes sense to replace the ‘Home’ label with ‘Standard’ for general use.
  • Windows 8 Professional Edition: This is, obviously, the current offering of Windows 8 Pro.

Of course, there is also the Windows 8 Enterprise edition but I am currently just covering the operating systems that an average consumer would use.

In a nutshell, if you’re using the Windows 8 Tablet edition, then you’ll be only using the modern UI and there is no Desktop mode which means you will only be able to install and run Windows Store apps. If you’re using the Windows 8 Standard edition, then you’re going to have what the Tablet edition offers plus Desktop mode that gives you the ability to install and run any desktop app you desire. If you’re using the Windows 8 Professional edition, then you’re going to have what the Standard edition offers plus joining corporate or school domains, gives you access to Remote Desktop and provides enhanced data protection.

Easy as pie. Now why couldn’t Microsoft think of that?

Why is it called Windows RT?

Microsoft decided to completely remove the ARM based Windows OS from the Windows 8 family by calling it ‘Windows RT’, even though it looks completely identical to Windows 8 to the end user. Now why would they ever do something like that?

It looks exactly like Windows 8, it runs the same Windows Store apps like Windows 8, and on top of all that it even comes with Windows Desktop just like Windows 8. I understand that it won’t run other Desktop software besides Office but why confuse the end user with terminology? What happened to ‘Keep It Stupid Simple’?

The average consumer doesn’t give a crap of the underlying technology, and Microsoft expects them to know that ‘Windows RT’ stands for ‘Windows Run Time’ and that it’s sharing kernel code with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8? Are you kidding me?

Here is what I think: Windows RT should have been called Windows 8 Express (just like how Microsoft uses ‘Express’ for other light weight and free software), and Windows 8 should have been called Windows 8 Premium and keep the Windows 8 Professional offering.

Express, Premium and Professional (and there is always the special Enterprise version). Simple and straight to the point.

Windows 8 Music app volume issue

I recently installed Windows 8 Pro on my home PC, which is the last computer that needed to be upgraded, and after installing the latest update for the Music app I experienced a strange issue.

I had no problems opening and browsing the Music app but when I started to play a song and switched to Desktop the computer somehow decides to dramatically lower the volume. Switching back to the Music app would bring up the volume automatically.

Since this is a Windows Store app, I couldn’t play with its settings or configuration files to try to determine what could be causing this, so I simply uninstalled the Music app and installed it again which fortunately fixed it.

Anyways, I thought I would post my experience in case there are others out there facing a similar issue.

How does Messaging work on Windows 8?

On Windows Phone, I tap on the Messaging tile and from there I can see who’s online, all my previous message threads and an option to change my chat status. So you’d expect the same experience or similar options when you click on the Messaging tile on Windows 8, right? Wrong.

The most important option when it comes to messaging is to see who’s online, which is sadly not present on Windows 8’s Messaging app. In order to see who’s online, you’ll need to open the People app and if you click on an online contact Windows 8 switches you to the Messaging app to chat. So essentially, you’d have to keep flipping back and forth between the Messaging and People apps.

Am I the only one who believes that this messaging workflow is completely flawed?

That being said, and as I mentioned before, the experience and workflows between both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 aren’t always consistent and often confusing even for people trying to use Windows 8 whom already own a Windows Phone.

As much as I like Windows 8’s new modern Start screen, the way I currently see it and from a developer’s point of view, it certainly shows that this was a quick first iteration that Microsoft had to release on launch day. The built-in apps feel like they’re still in beta which further confirms (I hope) the rumor of an upcoming major update that will bring all Microsoft’s Windows platforms closer to one another in terms of features and UI consistency.

What’s the deal with Xbox Music pass on Windows Phone 8?

So let’s assume that at least a million people out there own a Windows Phone 8 smartphone, and let’s also assume that a quarter of them have an Xbox Music pass. Well, most (if not all) of those people are suffering including myself. Apparently, Microsoft seems to have released Windows Phone 8 before it entirely matured cause you simply cannot sync or properly use your Xbox Music pass on it.

Microsoft’s Zune/Xbox Music support representatives keep telling me that in order to fully make use of my Xbox Music pass that I need to use it with the Xbox Music app on Windows 8, and that’s the only way. Whatever music I download on my Windows Phone 8 device doesn’t get synced on the Xbox Music cloud collection and I cannot just simply hookup my phone with Windows 8 and expect all my Xbox Music collection to get synced automatically without any issues (DRM issues specifically).

It’s an ongoing issue that has plagued Windows Phone 8 since its launch. I am hoping that Microsoft is working on a major update for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 that will enable them to talk ‘better’ with each other.