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Can Microsoft Pull It Off?

Since I last posted about MS and the Lumia, several notable things have transpired with the Redmond behemoth.  The Lumia was a yawner as expected, MS has announced the October 26th release date for Windows 8, they have announced a proprietary tablet called the Surface, which is amazing, they have redesigned their logo, and the “cross platform” operating system will become a reality with W8, drawing together PCs, tabs and Windows phones.  This is all quite exciting, but at the same time mind blowingly risky for Microsoft.  Don’t get me wrong, they have to do this in order to stay relevant in this ever changing technological world we live in.  It is going to be interesting to see how it all plays out.  The biggest question of all is “can they pull it off?”  Here are some things to consider.

1- The smart phone world is dominated by Apple and Android.  Is there room for, and will the public embrace, a third OS?  I think business will be quicker to embrace it than the everyday consumer.  A lot of businesses have skipped migrations to Vista and even 7, but XP is on its way out quickly.  The jump may be made en masse to W8 and all its cross-platform capabilities.  Adding the ubiquitous Office, the newly designed web based Outlook.com and SkyDrive to the platforms is a BIG deal and Apple and Android cannot play in that game very well.

2- Will W8 be amazing or will it be buggy and die like Vista did?  Only time will tell.  The initial reviews are mixed, but generally favorable.  If the OS is unstable or user unfriendly, it could spell BIG trouble for MS.  Their programmers better have gotten it right because everything is riding on the success of the W8 platform.  There is no room for error.  If they have to backtrack to get it all right,  it will become that much harder to gain market share as Apple and Android march on.

3- Will programmers, already busy with Apple and Android app development, make time for another platform?  Will the app market be robust enough and proprietary enough to attract new users?  Again, time will tell.  If the app market is anemic and unimaginative, the smartphone and tab market will crash for MS.

4- Can MS succeed in wooing consumers away from their beloved Android and iPhones and tabs?  Only if the hardware specs are off the chart and not ” me tooish” and the app market is mind boggling.

5- Will consumers go along with being stuck in the MS ecosystem?  Apple fans, probably not because Apple people have a nearly cult-like devotion to the products.  They like being caught in the Apple system and being gouged for everything because it makes them feel special along the lines of overpaying for a Mercedes Benz, which is no better than some cars priced $20,000 less, but it feels so good to say “I drive a Benz” or “I am Apple all the way.”  Android people can be wooed away, but it better be real good!

As I stated previously in another post, MS is facing an obstacle akin to climbing Mt Everest with no oxygen and someone on their back.  This is a new day for Microsoft.  They are reinventing who they are with a fresh new logo…  They have more money than many small countries and can play the waiting game for years, as they have demonstrated with the Xbox, until they succeed.  I personally hope they hit a home run because I like them.  It will be one of the most interesting business stories to follow for many years.  This is a war of Titans!  We will see if they can pull it off.  Stay tuned.  http://www.shocknetcomputerrepair.com/

MS has long been dominant in the OS market and productivity market with Office.  They have finally made large strides in the gaming console market with Xbox.  Sadly, like the Zune and the Kin, Bing has been a huge flop trying to compete with Google, and IE is looked upon by the under-thirty crowd as “your Dad’s Buick” compared to Firefox and Chrome jus because the word “Microsoft” is attached to it.  The two areas that are most important moving forward are cloud computing and the mobile movement for tabs and smartphones.  This week marks the beginning of an eight week-long cooperative ad campaign between AT&T, MS and Nokia to market the Windows Phone Lumia 900 (what a terrible name guys).  Gadget people like cool names that elicit feelings that something “other wordly” is in their hands.  The Galaxy, Droid, Droid X, HTC’s “One” (maybe a veiled reference to Neo in the Matrix)… accomplish that, but “Lumia?”  Sounds like “gloomia” or some old car name.  I would have named it the “Matrix Z” or “Deus X” and tied it in with the Matrix movie imagery somehow.    Have a guy holding the new phone dodging other phones in “bullet time.”  That would excite people, but “Lumia”…really?  Hell, have an Angry Birds Edition and contract Rovio to add a few new levels to Space only available in the WP app market.

If it flops, MS could be out of the US smartphone market. Right now Windows Phones only have about a 4% market share compared with Apple and Android devices.  To say it is an uphill battle is the understatement of the century.  It is akin to trying to climb Mt Everest with no oxygen and someone on your back.  I do like MS and their products.  I am an avowed PC guy, but I seriously do not think it is going to work.  They are proverbially a day late and a dollar short.  The ONLY thing that could sway consumers to buy the Lumia, other than a low price, would be some crazy spec list that is just irresistible and I have not seen it yet.  Single core processor, 720p resolution, only 65,000 apps?  Very unimpressive from a techno geek’s point of view.  It is all about the specs and the apps people!  My next phone will be an upgrade from my beloved HTC EVO to the HTC EVO One.  Why?  Because the specs rock and the Android app market is robust and I am not held captive by the Apple Nazis.  MS just doesn’t get it.

MS needed to launch the phone with free cloud storage (like DropBox) as a perk, full integration with Office,  a print driver that will work with the phone and select printers and a robust app market along with killer specs.  That may have tipped the scales, but I have not seen signs of such a thing.  I also believe that full cross-platform compatibility with Windows PCs, tabs and phones via Windows 8 should have all launched simultaneously.  That would seriously get my attention.  Unfortunately, I do not see it happening.  It will probably be a non-event.  Read more here:  http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57406996-94/nokia-lumia-900-everythings-riding-on-you/?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20&tag=nl.e019  http://www.shocknetcomputerrepair.com/

This should come as a surprise to no one.  Just about everything Best Buy sells is way overpriced and The Geek Squad is probably the worst computer repair company on the planet.  I own a computer repair company in Charlotte called ShockNet Computer Repair and Tech Support and the amount of computers people bring to me for repair that GS said was beyond repair or diagnosed incorrectly by their “techs” is obscene. Personally, when I buy electronics it is either from Newegg, Costco… They are usually 25%+ cheaper than BB.  http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-57406595-64/is-best-buy-following-compusa-circuit-city-to-certain-doom/

HTC and Sprint are set to officially announce the HTC EVO One next week.  The baddest Android phone on the planet just got better! http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57407148-94/sprint-poised-to-unveil-htc-evo-one/

Apple’s Myths Busted

http://www.technibble.com/top-5-myths-computer-repair-customers-believe-about-going-apple/

So, you turn on your phone and you see the dreaded little disc low symbol on your top taskbar.  Not to worry.  Here are a few things to do to correct the issue.

 

1- Uninstall all apps you don’t need or want.

2- Install the “App2sd” app and run it.  It will identify all apps that can be moved to the SD card and out of the smaller on-board memory.  It even identifies some apps that appear “locked” and cannot be moved.

3- Clean the phone’s cache by using another app call “1tapcleaner.”  It dumps all the left-over garbage from uninstalls.

4- Finally, if you are looking to extend the battery life, I would recommend Juice Defender.

 

I was able to free up about 75mb on my phone’s internal memory.  That’s it.  Peace.

Like the rest of you who rely heavily on your smart phones, my HTC EVO is my life blood.  The other day it stopped charging unless I moved the charging cord to the exact angle to keep the light on.  As I watched the battery meter drop precipitously toward zero my blood pressure rose accordingly.  The problem is typically a bad charging cable, or more troublesome, the DC jack soldered to the motherboard has come loose.  At that point, most people opt for tossing the phone.  Here is a better idea that I myself have taken advantage of.  First, buy another battery or two from eBay, Amazon…  They run about $16-25 and buy a wall charging unit.  Charge one battery completely and throw it in the phone, have another in the wall charger waiting to be swapped and voila no more panic attacks over the battery and figuring out what to sit on the cord to keep it charging!  Peace.

ImageThis is just the latest iteration of the so-called fake antivirus “scareware” infection that has surfaced recently.  What makes this infection a little different is that it takes out the HOST files and they have to be reinstalled.  It sometimes also corrupts numerous system drivers.  These infections typically alter numerous registry properties as well.  Removal is not for amateurs. Running Malwarebytes, or some other program, is just the beginning of the process. Hire a professional.  Bleepingcomputer.com has a great tutorial on removal (http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/virus-removal/remove-strong-malware-defender), but as I said, removal is just step one.  Fixing everything that has been altered is not for the faint of heart.  I have seen DIYs wreck a system.  If you are in Charlotte, NC we do it for $99 at ShockNet Computer Repair Charlotte.  Peace.

Well we knew it would only be a matter of time and now it has happened on a large scale.  A new malware program call Android.counterclank has infected nearly 5 million phones according to extreme estimates.  The trojan is downloaded typically in the android market with the majority of the problem apps being game related.  I suggest downloading Avast’s new anti virus program for smart phones and scan your phone ASAP.  You can read more here: http://www.channelinsider.com/c/a/Mobile-Devices/Android-Counterclank-Malware-Assails-Android-Market-Symantec-455021/

One of the most frequently provided services by ShockNet Computer Repair Charlotte is virus removal. I get asked all the time why a computer gets a virus, especially if it is running an anti virus program, and how to stop it from happening.

There are many reasons why they occur, but three immediately come to mind and here are the ways to help prevent infection.

First is simply safe internet usage.  Here is a list of safe practices:

1- Don’t download games, buy them.

2- Don’t download music or movies from P2Ps, i.e., Limewire, Frostwire…

3- Don’t follow links from chat rooms or forums.

4- Don’t click on pop-ups.

5- Don’t open emails unless you are sure you know who they are from.  Even if it is from someone you know, don’t click a link.

6- Save any Google image to a dedicated file and scan the file prior to opening the pic on your computer.

7- Pick one reputable toolbar, like Google, and use it.  Don’t have multiple bars.

8- Don’t download wallpapers.

9- Download open source programs only from safe sources such as CNet, Filehippo, Major Geeks…

10- Be wary of any suspicious looking URL before clicking it from a web browser search results page. Tools like Webrep from Avast help.

Second is to make sure your virus data base is updated frequently throughout the day.  Most run in real time and auto-update.  However, it is a game of cat and mouse with the anti virus data bases and the malicious code writers.  They change the codes frequently and until someone gets a virus and reports it, the database does not contain the code to trigger an alert.  No AV is fool-proof, paid or free.  My favorite though is Avast Free or paid.

Third is to be careful doing searches for hot topics like “Tim Tebow”, “Kim Kardashian”, “coupons”, “how to remove a virus”, “computer drivers”…  The virus writers know what is trending and plant bogus links in forums, set up bogus search links… to try and grab you and infect the machine you are using. Be very mindful of Twitter and Facebook links.

These guys are smart and they want you to pay the $29.99 on your credit card once you are infected with their fake antivirus “scanner” to “remove” it.  The only thing they will remove is your money and maybe even your identity.  It is big business.  Be smart and safe.  Peace.