The cunningly named Windows 8

By | April 1, 2012
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In the Computers newsletter this time:
  • The new Windows – out this year?
  • Great news for London Workaholics…
  • Alan Turing to follow Charles Dickens?
  • Some questions and their answers…

What comes after 7? Will it be 8? We’ll have to wait until October to find out for sure… What do I mean? Well, the next version of Windows is (probably) out later this year…

The cunningly named Windows 8…
Microsoft seem to have figured out what went wrong with Windows Vista (which wasn’t a big success for them and in my opinion isn’t a terribly good version of Windows).

It’s the name. It always did seem a bit of a silly name. So after it they went to the boring but understandable “Windows 7” And the working title for the next version is (wait for it…) Windows 8 – though they might change it when they finally launch it.

The rumour is that it’s due out in October. In the past Microsoft have been awful at meeting deadlines but they have got much better lately, so it’s plausible. Especially since they’ve released a “Consumer Preview” version of it recently, which is not far off finished.

The preview isn’t the kind of thing I’d recommend to everyone. You need to have a PC to install it on and it’s not a good idea to install it on your main PC as, after all, they haven’t quite finished it yet! But it means techies, geeks and journalists can have a go on the new system and see how it works. It also means Microsoft get lots of feedback on any bits that don’t work.

Generally it seems pretty good. It looks like it’ll work fairly well. There’s just one big thing that’s a question mark, which is what they call the “Metro interface” (so they still do like silly names sometimes).

This interface is designed so the same system runs on PCs, tablets & fancy mobile phones. That means they’ve had to do some clever technical stuff but also means they’ve changed the way you use it. After all, you don’t normally have a full keyboard and mouse with your mobile phone. So instead of little menus and icons you have big “panes” on the screen which you touch to choose. If you don’t have a touch-sensitive screen (and most PCs don’t at the moment) you can click on them instead.

If you like the way you’re used to, though, you can still choose to go to the desktop and use it the normal way, which is a big relief for me.

Of course, even if they do bring it out in October there’s absolutely no reason you have to get it. You can carry on using whatever you’ve got. In fact I don’t generally recommend getting new version of Windows when it’s first out as there’ll be bugs that they fix over the first few months. It doesn’t matter if you use an older version of Windows, as long as it does whatever you need – in fact although at home I use Windows 7 at work I’m still using Windows XP, released back in 2001 – and it works fine for me!

Great news for London based workaholics…
It’s just been announced that all London train stations will shortly have free wifi. Underground stations were already planned to get it but now the overground ones will too. So you’ll be able to carry on working while you wait for your delayed train (as long as it’s not too delayed – it’s only free for an hour). Or read the news or watch TV online, if you’re not a workaholic!

Alan Turing to follow Charles Dickens?
Alan Turing has always been a bit of a celebrity to me. Not only did his work at Bletchley Park in the war, cracking German codes, almost certainly shorten the war, it also saved countless lives because some of the German bombing missions were known about in advance – which meant defences could be in place before they arrived.

That’s on top of his theoretical work that helped develop the computer AND was some of the first proper work on “Artificial Intelligence”. Not a bad legacy!

Now there’s a chance he might follow Charles Dickens as the face of the ten pound note (the other side from the Queen) when the new one comes out.

It’s a way off yet but there’s already an online petition for it – if you’d like to, you can add your name here:
There are 13,286 “signatures” so far.

It’s a sobering thought – if it wasn’t for Turning (and the others who worked with him) then thousands of people around now wouldn’t be alive.

A few questions answered…
Here you can read the answers to a few questions about the digital photography videos: /digphqanda.htm
There might be some questions there that you’d wondered about (or some that hadn’t occurred to you).
(The full info from before is here: /digitalphotographyvideos.htm)

That’s all for now. Don’t forget the next few newsletters might be a bit erratic as “bump” is due in around a week’s time and I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off when the big event happens. Laura, Louize and the others will keep everything ticking along at the office, though!

Tim Wakeling
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