Free Microsoft Operating System Upgrades?


A BT Internet payphone loading Windows XP Embe...

A BT Internet payphone loading Windows XP Embedded. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A week or two ago, there was a good article entitled The case for making Windows (upgrades) free at case. Actually, this would have helped some of my friends. They have been running XP on their home computers. One didn’t want to spend the one hundred and fifty dollars Windows wanted. What alternative did they have? I ended up installing the Linux Ubuntu system with long-term support. Ubuntu also jumped from 12.04 to 14 and some decimal. The upgrade worded well with all the existing hardware. The best benefit was saving a hundred and fifty dollars.

Another friend was running XP on their home computer. I ran the Windows upgrade adviser and there was some hardware upgrades they needed to apply. I recommended that they go visit a friend of mine, who specializes in computer repair. The reason is that they would have the recommended hardware upgrades.

Then there is Apple. I think Apple does a good job of offering free upgrades. This is something Microsoft should look at and emulate. The only concern I have with Apple products is that the Apple centers are few and far between. For me to get instruction, buy an Apple computer and/or get it repaired, I would have to drive a half hour to visit a center. For Microsoft products, there are different ma and pa repair shop for fixing problems nearby. There are also Microsoft embedded computers for sale at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Amazon, etc.

Probably in a year or two, I’ll either be forced to upgrade from Windows 7 or buy new machines with the latest operating system. Or I could take a twenty-minute drive and see what Apple has to offer. Or I could get a machine running a long-term support version of Ubuntu. If I took the Apple route, I’ll probably also take the Ubuntu route on another machine. Perhaps that is my solution to Windows and operating system upgrade payments.

One point the article made is this: “More importantly, though, Microsoft doesn’t need to charge for Windows upgrades. Technology changes over time. Hardware crashes and dies. There will be customers who will cling to their 10-year old hardware, but many will still buy new PCs to replace broken hardware, get a faster processor, or take advantage of the latest USB or Wi-Fi standards.”

Ten years? Why not? After all, you can run a car that long and use high quality, after market parts. And if the car needs a new engine, it’s easier to drop in a manufactured on than buy a new car.

Then there’s another article entitled 3 Reasons Microsoft Should Make Windows 10 Free. What are the three reason? According to the article, they are:

  • “People really didn’t like Windows 8 “
  • “Everyone thought the Start menu was going to be a Win 8 update”
  • “Microsoft needs to do the right thing”

And what was the wrong thing it did? According to the article, “Microsoft released an OS that was hard-to-use on non-touch devices that took away features its customers liked. It then ran a full-tilt marketing plan to coerce users to switch – including dropping support for Windows XP.”

All I can ask is this: Will we ever see the day of free Microsoft operating system upgrades? In the meantime, check out The geekiest tech jokes on the internet


Windows and free software


Windows mobile

Windows mobile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A while back, I wrote about my problems with Ubuntu and Windows. It was entitled Problems with Ubuntu and Windows 7 on same machine. Now I was left with a choice – either run Windows or Ubuntu by itself. So I opted to run just Windows, as it was already installed.

Now I’m not anti- Windows, anti-Linux nor Anti-Apple. It’s just with Mac stuff, I don’t have any experience with it. But for now, I will stick with Windows and a paid security suite. I feel that the paid security versions are a bit above the free ones. I recommend the site Filehippo and installing their update checker.

But most folks need a word processor and Excel sheet solution. They also need a solution to read Word documents – in Excel and Word. For a viewer, I recommend installing the Kingsoft office suite. It associates itself with all the Microsoft office suite document types. But for real work, you can’t beat Libre Office. The license agreement of Open Office allows Libre Office to include any features Open Office creates – but not the other way around.

For zip files, I use Peazip. It’s an active project and constantly being worked on. I also believe it uses some elements of 7-Zip.

VLC media player for playing sound and video files. Audacity is used as a sound editor and recorder. Both are great tools.

Skype is still my preferred communication tool – even though it is owned by Microsoft. It’s free and you know it won’t have conflicts with any Windows supported operating system. If I was looking for an alternative, then I would choose Google Hangouts.

For browsers, I prefer Firefox and Google Chrome. But I also have Opera installed, should I ever need it. I do believe that internet Explorer is a good browser. I just prefer the open source versions and the developed extensions.

I really need to plug Malwarebytes as a good scan tool. Each week, I do a quick scan with both my paid security suite and Malwarebytes. Of course, I don’t run them at the same time. I think that between the two tools, they can detect any problem that comes your way. And if you send any email attachments to the Virus Total scanner, it should ensure you are clean.

For a mail client, nothing can be Thunderbird. You can configure all your email accounts with it and handle your mail with one tool.

Then there’s the Java Run time Environment. While there are open source alternatives, I still go with the one from Oracle. Sure, it’s not open source. But you have a big company behind it and it’s very stable and often being developed.

Anything else? Sure. If you run a Mac, then I would also install File Hippo update checker and get software from their site. Why pay either Microsoft or Apple for software, when you can get either a free and/or open source alternative?

Switching to Android? Why You Won’t Miss Your iPhone

Since their beginning the debate has raged: Android or iPhone?


Apple got the jump on the smartphone industry with its release of the iPhone in 2007, but Android quickly followed a year later with the HTC Dream, also known as the T-Mobile G1. What most people don’t realize is that Google’s Android team had been secretly working on a different design with a keyboard and smaller screen that was scrapped with the release of the original iPhone. They completely re-designed the product and released the G1 in late 2008.

Thus began the battle among cell phone designers and manufacturers. In 2010, Apple dominated the smartphone market with a 28 percent share compared to Android’s 9 percent, according to a study by Nielson. However, a mere three years later, Android held the majority share with 51 percent while Apple had 43 percent, according to research conducted by Kantar Worldpanel Comtech.


Android invasion, Sydney, Australia

Android invasion, Sydney, Australia (Photo credit: Pranav Bhatt)

So what caused this skyrocket in popularity? From the start, the Android team was committed to doing something different. They set out to create a platform that would apply to a wide variety of phone carriers and manufacturers. This allowed the potential development of a multitude of different phones all carrying the Android platform.


However, they were not always confident in this choice. When they came up with the concept, they were a little concerned because their greatest strength could easily become their biggest weakness. If multiple hardware developers all chose to use their operating system, there potentially could be a greater increase of miscommunication, leading to a snowball effect that ended in disaster. Luckily, this wasn’t the case.

Over the years, the Android team has been able to accommodate the variety of hardware designs and specifications as their popularity grew. Since their first major update in 2009, named Cupcake, Google has focused on improving consumer functionality while continuously expanding resource allocation. The first update incorporated increased support for camcorder and camera functions as well as Bluetooth and software upgrades. Now, as new technology is added, the Android software gets updated and released as quickly as possible so that users can enjoy the benefits of stronger, faster and more reliable innovations.

The latest updates to versions 4.3 (named Jelly Bean) and version 4.4 (Kit Kat) included several upgrades to make user interaction more intuitive and efficient. Improvements to touch responses and typing intuition on the keyboard allow for quicker response and better communication. Software updates to the camera system allow users to take 360 degree photos. Wireless printing and streamlined multitasking make business applications more user friendly, and improved voice recognition enables improved hands-free accessibility.

But, software is not the only update to the Android devices. Phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are incorporating a wide variety of new technology including a stylus for improved note taking and Galaxy Gear for increased connection with less distraction.

The future of Android shows all kinds of possible technological combinations for the future, and why they have taken over the smartphone market. So, do you miss your iPhone now?

Is WhatsApp a Threat to Mobile Calls?




Llamadas en WhatsApp


The growing rise in the number of users of WhatsApp has thrown the obvious question – will it be a threat to mobile calls? Well, it is still early days to predict any such outcome for the mobile app that has created a renewed interest in mobile based VoIP systems. WhatsApp is continuously working towards new upgrades that would make it even friendlier for iOS7. VoIP calls are now the latest offering from WhatsApp and it wants to be among the top newsmakers this year.


The new version of WhatsApp promises to be different in terms of the features but the looks and overall feel will remain unchanged. There are changes that would change the game in the VoIP world. Yes, finally WhatsApp is bringing the VoIP calls into its application and this will be direct challenge to the users of other services like Skype. The revolutionary VoIP calling facility was long awaited for and finally it is being integrated with the latest updates. The call can be initialized by opening to a flight or an open chat on the iPhone. You will be able to automatically dial the contact when you see his/her name flashing on the top. The VoIP calls will be initiated through a new icon called the WhatsApp Call.

It can be said that the VoIP feature offered by WhatsApp will take away a bit of the shine from mobile calls but to say that it would completely kill the same will be an overstatement. Mobile calls have their own charm and that I really feel cannot be overrun by the VoIP feature in WhatsApp. It is also interesting to note that not everyone is accessing WhatsApp whereas there is hardly anyone who does not make mobile calls.


Sizing up WhatsApp and Twitter

Sizing up WhatsApp and Twitter (Photo credit: Tsahi Levent-Levi)

Over the last two years, WhatsApp had witnessed phenomenal fan-following and popularity and obviously no other app could match its popularity. It is interesting to find out that there are many other apps that are performing really well but none has been successful like WhatsApp. WhatsApp has been able to create a loyal fan-following for itself through a variety of one-to-one chat and group chat options. Mobile phone calls can’t really be replaced by the apps like WhatsApp as there are a number of elements that makes mobile calls much better than the VoIP calls.


Mobile phones will not require the internet connection on the phone to place calls but for the VoIP to be active on WhatsApp, users will have to switch on the internet. The internet connection on mobile phones also suffers from the same connection problems which are bound to affect the call quality. VoIP calls are heavily dependent on the type of internet connection and if there is even a simple problem with the connection, the call quality immediately takes a beating. This is where mobile calls score higher than the VoIP calls through mobile apps like WhatsApp.

Mobile calls are not under any real threat from the latest smartphone apps like WhatsApp because it still is the most reliable means of communication. Neither is it affected by weather nor does it have to rely on the internet connection for placing calls. Irrespective of the users, the mobile phones can be used for calls by anyone but to run complex apps like WhatsApp, users need to have a level of understanding about using mobile applications. The only real threat would be the cheap call costs that is often associated with VoIP but once this barrier too is overcome by mobile phone companies, apps like WhatsApp will not be able to provide much of a competition.

Author Bio:

Michelle Patterson has been learning and writing about the new IP based communication technologies on One Communication Blog. She loves sharing information about VoIP. Read her post to keep yourself updated.


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Reflections on the Microsoft acquisition of Nokia

I used to work at Motorola’s cell phone division, as a software engineer. It was before Google purchased them. During that time, the biggest competitor was Nokia. Samsung was really not in the running back then. Here’s a couple articles announcing Microsoft acquisition of Nokia.

SYJ: Nokia

SYJ: Nokia (Photo credit: bfishadow)

If you read the BBC article, Samsung holds a 24.7% market share, with Nokia having 14% and Apple 7.3%. As one  of the BBC commentators said in part, “In truth there is not so much difference between the top few phones.”

In an article entitled In The Smartphone Wars It’s iOS Vs. Android And Windows Phone Vs. The Rest In The Smartphone Wars It’s iOS Vs. Android And Windows Phone Vs. The Rest, it mentioned this: “However, given what IDC revealed today, we can essentially view the market as a three-way war, but not one in which Windows Phone has even begun to challenge the incumbents.” Since this article came out in August 2013, I wonder how much inroad Windows phones are making?

The article also makes this summation: “So a simple way of viewing the smartphone market is that Android is consistently adding friction to Apple’s products, which are seeing their market share fall as the market itself expands more quickly than they ship. And that Windows Phone, while still a distant third place player, has managed to functionally cement itself as a player in mobile.”
The BBC article says this:

“Critics say the firm has been too slow to respond to the booming market for mobile devices. It launched its Surface tablet PCs last year, but sales of the devices have been relatively slow.”

“Analysts said that the company wanted to make sure that it got its strategy right in the mobile phone market.”

Apple Inc.  New Headquarters

Apple Inc. New Headquarters (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

I’m a guy who runs dual Windows 7/Ubuntu machines. I’m also one who refuses to go Apple, until you get an Apple Store less than ten miles from where I live. In fact, they better have a store in the same city I live in. So I gravitate to Android devices.

Patent stuff

When Google first brought Motorola Mobility, articles speculated that a key factor was Motorola’s large patent inventory. Did Google use any of that patent inventory against Samsung? Don’t know. But I’m sure that Nokia has a large patent inventory, which Microsoft can use again either Samsung or Google. I just wonder if they will leverage it?

The smart watch

Then Samsung is busy developing a smart watch, according to a news report I watched. The commentators were wondering if folks would want it. An article came out entitled How Smart Can a Watch Really Be?. As the article mentioned, “Today, Samsung introduced the Galaxy Gear, a three-hundred-dollar smartwatch the company hopes will change all that.” They also say this: “So there remains a strange undercurrent of hope that somebody—Apple—will figure out, soon, some grander vision for wearable technology, transforming it from something that people have vaguely imagined into something people intensely desire.”


Is Skype bug free on non-Windows operating systems?

Is Skype bug free on non-Windows operating systems?

Skype 한국 모임

Skype 한국 모임 (Photo credit: Peter Kim/PMP,

I usually conference with a couple of folks on Skype. I always try to have the latest application, production ready versions. I recently suggested to the other folks to check for the latest versions. A couple have Skype installed on an Apple machine. This prompted an email from one user:

I downloaded an update to skype but then I got the message: “Skype was unable to install the update because the old application can’t be overwritten.”

Do you have a suggestion?

A bit of research prompted a response:

I’m not an Apple expert. Let me Google the message and see what comes up.

When I Google the message and Mac, it takes me to some Skype community forums, like the one at Skype community forums. Apparently, the easiest solution is to unlock the Skype read and write permissions, like it says on the bottom answer. Alternatively, you can uninstall Skype and install the latest version. I’m not sure why this is an issue on Mac (and perhaps Linux). I never ran into this issue on Windows. Hope this helps.

I have installed Skype on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. It’s one of the few versions Skype officially supports. The GUI is much more primitive and limited than the Windows GUI. Now I know why I have trouble with Skype tabs, when talking to Apple Skype users over the phone. The tab structure appears to different between the Skype Apple, Windows and Linux versions.

English: The iPad on a table in the Apple case

English: The iPad on a table in the Apple case (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is an article entitled Skype jumps the shark: Seven alternative VoIP services at Skype jumps the shark: Seven alternative services. It says, “Yes, it’s very popular, but it was always horribly out-dated on Linux and both its technology and security were, and still is, lousy.”

But it looks like Microsoft is targeting Apple’s high-end products. There’s an article entitled iPad Skype adds HD quality video call support to Apple . Another update is entitled Latest Skype Update Enables HD Video Calling On Apple iPad 4 Tablets HD Video Calling On Apple iPad 4 Tablets. It has this to say:

“Skype has this week released a new update for its iOS application which brings with it the addition of a new HD quality video call feature for use with Apple’s new and latest iPad 4 tablet.”

“The new update allows Apple iPad 4 owners to enjoy high definition video calls through the Skype application and is now available to download from the Apple iTunes App Store for free.”

So Skype will probably be relatively error free for Windows and high end Apple products. But it probability will not be on their high list of priorities for Linux and low-end Apple products.

I’m still a big Skype fan. And I’m a big fan of running dual-boot Windows/Ubuntu systems. Perhaps if Apple had stores less than 10 miles from where I live, I might jump on their bandwagon. Who knows what the future will bring?


Mac vs PCs – a LinkedIn Group discussion

Picture of the Genius Bar in the Apple Store R...

Picture of the Genius Bar in the Apple Store Regent Street, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mac vs PCs – a LinkedIn Group discussion

Someone on a LinkedIn writer’s group asked for input on PCs and Mac.

Some folks are into Mac and it has a cult-like following.

Here’s a sampling of input:

“Macs are much more expensive than comparable Windows machines, but my wife has been on one (she’s only a recreational user) for years and never seems to have problems.”

Here’s a question I asked:

“Does anyone know how often Apple changes or brings out a new operating system? For Windows, it’s about every 3 years. And does the new operating system work on existing Apple hardware or do they “urge” you to buy new hardware (i.e. like Windows)?”

Here’s a response:

“Apple tweaks their OS once or twice a year.”

“I’ve been able to get through several upgrades in the Mac OS before having to purchase new hardware. I upgrade the hardware about every ten years.”

“My 9500 became antiquated when Apple changed to the BSD kernel for their OS. My eMac became obsolete when they moved to the Intel processors. Each had survived many OS upgrades.”

“An added bonus is the seamless synching between my various Apple devices.”

The Apple Store in San Francisco.

The Apple Store in San Francisco. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Me again:

I thought I might look at some recent (i.e. within the past 6 months) comparing Windows and Mac:

According to the article conclusions, Windows still wins the race.  I like Intel based PCs for these reasons:

  • I can get them inexpensively at places like Walmart, Costco, etc.
  • They are good, local PC repair shops to fix them rather inexpensively
  • I can run both Windows and Linux-based systems (i.e Ubuntu, Google Chrome operating system, etc.) on them.
  • I can run good open source and high quality freeware software on them.

So if you want security, run your computer (even one) behind a router, with good anti-virus and firewall software. Keep the operating system, anti-virus and application software up to date. On windows, add WinPatrol, KeyScrambler Personal and Malwarebytes.

Here’s what someone on the forum said about Apple repair – to their credit:

“Finally, I just took my Mac to The Apple Store to get repaired. Unfortunately, I had that bad NVidia chip that malfunctioned but the agreement to fix it for free had expired. However, they had a flat fee of $310 for the repair ($210 for whatever was needed and $100 for labor).”

“I was surprised when I received not only the repair (logic board replaced), but also a new keyboard (my “R” key had come loose and needed replacing), a new bezel (the part that surrounds the keyboard), AND a new battery! The battery alone would have cost around $100.”

English: Original source file of the “About Vi...

English: Original source file of the “About VirtualBox” window of VirtualBox 1.5.6_OSE. Deutsch: Original-Quelldatei des „Über VirtualBox“-Fensters von VirtualBox 1.5.6_OSE. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My response:

Someone is using the Apple duel boot and runs Windows.  It’s nice to see someone using Apple for the Dual boot and settling for the Windows operating system. And it’s nice to see a positive experience with Apple repair – where they throw in some free repair bonuses.”

I can’t say I’m anti-Apple. I do personally prefer a Samsung to an IPhone. And other programs like Open Office, LibreOffice and Google Docs do have the capacity to convert to Word build-in (or there are easy ways to do so). They do honor the fact that Word is king.

Windows 8 has a lot of criticism about the start menu. I believe they brought it back in SP1 – sort of. But there are application solutions to the start menu issue – just search for them.

I have nothing against Apples – either hardware or software. The biggest obstacle for me jumping on the Apple bandwagon is the distance of an Apple store. I don’t feel like driving 10+ miles to look at hardware, software, or get a repair done. Should Apple open a store nearer to me, or I move close to an Apple store – this could change.

For now, I’ll continue to run 2 PCs – one containing a flavor of Windows and one a flavor of Linux (i.e. Ubuntu).

Let’s part with some interesting  articles: