A New Groove

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     First there was Zune, which is pretty much gone except for the desktop client which is still available for the diehard amongst us. Then came Xbox music. A service that failed to live up to either Zune or the Xbox name. Now there’s Groove. How long this incarnation of Microsofts music service will stick around is anyone’s guess. But at the rate it’s going with its available features, it can’t be long. Groove is feature poor. Compared to Apple music/iTunes, Spotify & even Google play music, Grove is just sad as a music service. And it’s even sadder when you know Microsoft can and has done better. But it doesn’t mean that what’s wrong with Groove can’t be fixed.

Let’s get Social again:

     What passes for social in groove is a joke. I can share a song or a playlist to Facebook, Twitter or whatever the share pane will allow. Big fucking whup. We live in a day & age of Spotify and can see each other’s music, playlist and latest plays without having to open facebook. Congratulations Microsoft, you brought groove into 2010. But if you were a Zune user, you know that Microsofts music service had social before Spotify existed. Lets’ bring this back. Imagine logging into Groove with not only your Microsoft account, but also your facebook and twitter account. In doing this, Groove can not only link you to your friends & the music they’ve shared/liked. It can see what music, artist, concerts you’ve shared/liked and curate music based experiences for you. Be it songs or playlist or concerts.

     For Groove to survive and maybe even succeed, it must be more than just a means of playing music. It must be a music social network. From within Groove, you can see your friends regardless of whether they have a groove account. You can see the music they’ve shared, liked and artist they’ve followed. If they have a groove account, you can see their most recent plays & the playlist they’ve made. You can communicate with them from within Groove and even send them music & playlist. These songs & playlists can much like a message in snapchat be set to automatically self-destruct.

     Let’s add a feature to kill a hardware accessory, Shared play. Have you ever seen two people walking down the street and they are either sharing a set of earphones or they have a headphone splitter? The worst of these is the Bluetooth headphones that can share the music experience at the same time with someone with the exact same pair of ugly & otherwise useless headphones. Why can’t we listen to music from our own devices but have them play at the same time? Netflix for the Xbox 360 used to do this.

     Now this shared experience can be expanded beyond people on your friends list. Let’s say that you’re at a friend’s place. You have on your phone and they have groove on their PC or Xbox. But you aren’t friends on groove for some reason. But your device is on the same Wi-Fi as their devices. You can broadcast through their device and add to their now playing playlist. With Spotify, stagnant on windows mobile and not even available on the windows store. Social features are DESPERATELY needed. There, now we’re not only back up to the social levels we were at when Groove was Zune, we’ve up the game a bit by adding Chromecast like functionality.

     But music is about more than the music your friends listen to. It’s about the artist you love. By plugging in your social media information, Grove automatically follows artist you’ve followed. From the artist section, you can get more than their albums, songs and a little information about them. You can get their full Wikipedia page & if applicable, their IMDB information. You can also get their latest facebook, twitter and even Instagram feed via a mixed view pane. This is in addition to their photos and if applicable, a link to their website. Zune also had a great, but under developed feature that allowed you to see artist concert dates. If Microsoft partners with a ticket agency like live nation & or ticket master, you can get concert promotions directly through Groove.

      Now we need to fix groove itself. So far, grove is SOOOO basic that there’s nothing that needs to be stripped from it. But there’s a few features that it’s in DESPERATE need of. One of those feature is crossfading. It’s the ONLY thing I like about iTunes. This should be available if throughout the app whether your just playing random music or listening to a playlist. Another is a feature that was available in the Zune HD & windows phone. The ability to affect the lock screen when music is playing. Not simply affect the live tile. Let’s add a few social features that don’t merely involve sharing a link to facebook and twitter (Sidebar, If you’re going to let me share what song I’m listening to via social media, INCLUDE THE ALBUM COVER for the song along with some text saying I’m listening to X song from X artist from X album. Just FYI). For instance, lets borrow from tinder. Let’s say I’m listening to a smart playlist. But the biggest feature that’s missing from Groove is podcasts.

More than music:

     You can get music from any app. But having 1 place for all your music & podcasts is something that’s appreciated by virtually EVERYONE. Google knows this. It’s long past time that Microsoft accepts this. On windows, I should have no problem what so ever in finding new podcasts via the windows store. It gives people a reason to go there and maybe get games, apps, media and books.

     The podcast app from windows phone, albeit bare bones has a great mechanism for searching for podcasts. So that if for some reason, a podcast isn’t available in the store, it can be found thanks to Bing. Podcasts should be displayed and categorized in accordance with the way the store works for apps, games & media. But from within the app, there are core features that Groove MUST have. The ability to add podcasts via OPML file is at the top of that list. Because many of us have podcasts libraries with other services and this shouldn’t be a barrier to entry. Adding podcast via a link is also important because some of us subscribe to podcast via paid subscription. And on this note, it’s important that it can be able to add login information if the podcasts ask for it. Like music MUST have crossfade, podcast must have the ability to be played at faster speeds, skip and rewind by a set amount of time.

     Now that the basics are there, what’s needed now for podcast is smart playlists. These are groups that are automatically created based on the genre that corresponds with that podcast. Other than these, there are 4 other list: All podcasts, new episodes, now playing and downloaded. These are fixed playlists. User can create playlist. Podcasts and playlist can have setting fairly like music playlist. They can be set to be available offline. A set number of episodes can be downloaded and this can be set for when in Wi-Fi. Podcasts can be set to be automatically added to now playing playlist once a new episode is added. Old episodes can be automatically deleted once listened to or once a new episode is downloaded. Episodes can also be favorited for listening to later.

     But Groove is now social. You can see what your friends listen to. You can share podcasts with them. Either your choice of episode of entire podcast. This should be limited to podcast available in the store. For podcast, you’ve added via link and even need login credentials for, you can only listen to their podcast if you are on your friend’s groove page. You can’t subscribe or download. Possibly even limit the amount of time you can listen to that podcast. But ultimately, podcast can be as social as music. And if used with OneDrive for syncing, I should be able to stop listening to a podcast on my phone and pick it right back up on another device.

     Groove is can be so much better. We know this because Microsoft has done better with its media players in the past. Now Microsoft needs to take a few simple actions to make Groove a better media player. Doing the above and bringing groove to even more platforms beyond Windows, iOS and Android will help make groove sustainable and maybe even popular. Bringing it to Mac, Linux & even if possible other gaming consoles will help bolster Groove.

If you have some of your own idea, leave them in the comments section below. If you agree with me in anyway, do me a favor. If you’re a windows insider, go to the feedback hub and add as a new suggestion “groove needs better social and podcast support” and post a link to this article. And or Tweet this article at:

https://twitter.com/joebelfiore

https://twitter.com/panos_panay

https://twitter.com/tmyerson

https://twitter.com/donasarkar

AND last but not least

https://twitter.com/SatyaNadella

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Getting Microsoft wearables back in shape

 

 

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  I’m going to get a little personal here. Not that long ago, I was, let’s not mince words, fat. I was well over 100 lbs. overweight. To be exact, I weighed 250 pounds.  EVERYTHING I wore was a large. I had a 42-inch waist. Below is a photo of me.

 

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I don’t take a lot of photos of myself but here’s the most recent full body shot of me. This is after I lost 50lbs. I’ve lost 25 lbs since then.

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     I’ve battled weight issues for a long time. I’ve either been fat or thin. And I genuinely don’t know why I gain weight, hold it for a while, then lose it for almost no reason whatsoever. I can have no fitness routine at all and be thin, then eat 1 pop tart and balloon up to the point where none of my clothes fit me anymore. Until the fitness bands and health apps came around there really wasn’t a way to monitor my activity & caloric intake without a pen and paper. FYI, I don’t keep paper money around because it gets lost & or destroyed. How do you think a notebook with scribblings of my diet/exercise routines faired? Then along came the various apps which helped a lot. I went from weighing 250 to 245-240. I had a pretty wide net of them. But they couldn’t do a lot. Because frankly, a phone as a fitness device is just a glorified pedometer. Enter wearables and the Microsoft band. The Microsoft Band was the only 1 that worked with my Lumia that was on par with what other fitness bands and some smartwatches did at the time. It allows me to basically micromanage my body. I track my sleep, my calories (when I could use it with the MSN health app to track my caloric intake) and workout routines. But all that isn’t why I initially bought the Band. I bought it as a companion device for my phone. It’s simple. It doesn’t run any apps. What it does is it kept me apprised of what’s going on with my phone without having to look at my device. I could control some functions. About the only thing, I could do is buy a cup of coffee with it. The fitness stuff was a bonus that I didn’t think I’d use on a regular basis.

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     But when I started seeing my sleeping stats, my calories burned, etc, I started to care more about those health functions. I currently weigh around 180. And I’m still losing weight,  getting in better shape and I’m still rocking the Microsoft Band. But I’ve got a problem with the Microsoft Band. As far as Microsoft is concerned, it doesn’t exist. Because Microsoft isn’t really a company that fights battles unless they’ve already won it. Microsoft band isn’t the #1 fitness band or even in the top 5 fitness bands/smart watches? So, they pretend it doesn’t exist. Windows Phone isn’t setting the world on fire? So, they do what Apple did with the Apple TV after it 1’st launched. Treat it as a hobby but then, unlike Apple they did nothing after that. Under Satya Nadella, Microsoft is a retreat and play nicely on other platforms while it almost completely disregards its own platform. Don’t believe me? Look at the mail/calendar app on windows then look at the outlook app on iOS or Android. Where do you see most Microsoft garage apps? Do you see them on windows as UWP apps? Do you see ANY in the windows store? “Windows 1’st or Windows best” right?

     Microsoft keeps saying that Windows Mobile is important to their overall strategy. I believe that’s true. But the same goes for wearables. The Microsoft band isn’t exactly the Microsoft Spot Watch. This is important because it’s capable of being the perfect fitness monitor and device companion. Microsoft is fully capable of innovating. The question remains however, is Microsoft capable of reaching down a little deeper for a bigger set of balls to compete anymore? Should Microsoft get back into the wearables business as more than a hobby, I’ve got an idea of what I’d like to see from them. Starting with the hardware.

Surface Pulse:

     Let’s do away with the Band name all together and ride the Surface coat-tails. In doing so, let’s keep with the design and engineering philosophy that comes with that brand name. Something that could be a category all to itself. Not just a fitness tracker or smartwatch. But a perfect companion device for phones, tablets, PCs, ETC. Currently, there are 2 main parts to the band. There’s the main part with the screen and then there’s the sensor on the latch. The Pulse, needs to be an all in one. Put the sensor right in the main housing of the device. This allows for 1 size fits all devices with customizable bands and straps. There should be 2 options for powering the pulse.

· QI wireless charging: Lots of Lumia devices do this already.

· Thermoelectric: Lots of watches do this. It wouldn’t be enough to keep the battery at 100% but this could be used to prolong the battery life.

· The point of this is to help make the device as water resistant as possible. The device itself shouldn’t even have buttons or dials.

Back to the wrist bands, Microsoft, I know you like partnerships. PLEASE SKIP THIS. Just make the connection for the wrist bands to be made by ANYONE. This is going to play a very important part because now we’re going to talk about what the device is going to be shaped like.

     The current band is a curved plastic unit with a thin strip of glass that’s roughly a half inch tall and about two inches wide. This is probably why they couldn’t get windows to run on it. But rather than make Windows smaller, lets make the device a little bigger. What if it was a little over twice that size and turned on its head? So now when you hold your wrist upright, you have a device that’s 3 inches tall & 2 inches wide that curves around your wrist. Now we have a bigger screen and an overall bigger device to work with. Use an AmOled screen to save power and allow for glanceable details to be shown such as the time & a few app notifications. Now the pulse would be running a stripped down, device specific version of windows 10. This is not windows mobile or windows that runs on your Surface pro/book/studio or your Xbox. You will see tiles and tile groups. The interface will allow for being viewed in portrait and landscape. But what will be front and center is Cortana. You can get the time just by turning the screen off. Now if the pulse runs apps, does that mean I can run office and play games on it? This leads us into what the Pulse should not do/be.

1. It’s not a smartphone for your wrist. This shouldn’t be a gaming platform. Maybe like the Surface Dial it can be a peripheral for apps and games on the phone, PC/Tablet & Xbox (more on that later). But it shouldn’t be able to play games.

2. It shouldn’t run full blown apps & programs. At best, what it should be running would be something more akin to widgets for the active apps on your devices. Allow me to reply to things like messenger apps & social network reply’s and updates. But this shouldn’t be a full-blown app platform.

3. The Pulse needs to be a companion to primary devices like phones, tablets, PCs, Xbox and windows IOT devices first & a fitness tracker a close second. It should be sparingly used as a standalone device.

4. Storage shouldn’t be an issue. It should have enough space for the OS, Maps and some data relevant to the apps on your windows device. The closest thing to 3’rd party apps you’d be using on the device would be almost like a cross between widgets and googles apps on tap.

     Keep what’s currently on the Microsoft band. The weather app, Messaging should be the skype app. Just combine messages & phone. Cycling, workout but lose guided workout (more on that later), outlook mail and calendar, alarm & sleep. Music controls, power options, quiet hours & settings should be accessible via edge gesture. Swipe out from the right to get them. Cortana would be available by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Notifications would be a swipe from the right edge of the screen. The rest of the apps available would be based on the apps you allow from your windows 10 devices. Facebook, News, whatever the developer allows for. For most things like looking at photos, it would stream it via Bluetooth from whatever device associated with your account, it’s connected to and nearest. Earlier I said there are no buttons or dials on the Pulse. So how do you turn it on & off? When the screen is off (connected standby), double tap to wake it up. When the screen is on and you want to go back into connected standby, swipe down from the top of the screen. There really isn’t a reason to turn it off. But if you should need to & then need to turn it back on simply power the device off while not charging it either by Qi or wearing it. To power it back on, just plug it in or wear it and it’ll power back up.

     Tap to pay and tap to pair are a must. This shouldn’t have Microsoft edge however. Just let Cortana handle searches. GPS is a must. Pulse should just communicate with the nearest device it’s paired to. There shouldn’t be a camera. It doesn’t need LTE but it should have Wi-Fi. Keep the Optical heart rate sensor, (Formerly3-axis) 8-axis accelerometer/gyro, Gyrometer, GPS (for running, cycling and navigation when maps are downloaded), Ambient light sensor, Skin temperature sensor, UV sensor, Galvanic skin response, Barometer and add a Proximity Sensor, Gyroscope, Magnetometer & SensorCore. The only things it shouldn’t have is a camera, speaker & a microphone.

     So, what can this device do? Imagine your phone rings. You see who’s calling. But you don’t have to touch the device. By using gestures, you can lower your hand to dismiss the call or bring it up to your ear to answer it (No, there are not speakers built into it. More on that later). In addition to using it for security as you can now with any Bluetooth device for windows 10. You can use it as a peripheral in almost Kinect like ways. Maybe 1 extra sensor that can allow the device to sense the tendons in your wrist to tell what your fingers are doing. So, let’s say I bring my wrist to chest level & I tap my palm with my index finger. That triggers it to go to music controls. From there I can gesture to lower or raise the volume or move to the next or previous song. Other fingers correspond to other actions on the Surface Pulse. This can be further customizable for other functions with your phone or pc. If the Surface Dial has shown us anything, a new peripheral can attract developers. So, these gestures can be made relevant to an open app on a device then set by the developer. Or Imagine doing a gesture, turning your wrist upside down and hovering over a table while you’re using your surface. While doing this, you have your index & middle finger extended like you’re making a peace sign. Now, because of the gestures you’ve made and the actions you’re doing with your fingers, you have a virtual mouse. For gamers, this would almost be like a small cross between a Kinect and a controller. Microsoft can even sell an extra accessory. Something small like a small, Bluetooth joystick like what some VR sets come with.

     But earlier on I said this device has no speakers. Not entirely true. What about if it came with a Bluetooth headset? Now they can’t be too expensive. The LG Tones can cost as little as $50 and they get long battery life. These headsets wouldn’t have controls on them except for the power button, because they are controlled by the Pulse. They’d be chargeable by USB-C & Qi. You’d have your choice of in ear and over ear. Pairing would be handled by the Pulse rather than at the headset.

The Microsoft Band app.

     Since the band as far as this piece is concerned is dead. Then we can stop calling it the Microsoft Band app. But don’t go back to calling it the Microsoft Health app. For right now let’s call it by Bings initial code name: Kumo (That and no one apparently owns the site). This would have the added be added benefit of not being strictly being locked to the Surface Pulse. Which leads me to my next point. Allow it to be used with other fitness trackers. Allowing it to be used by other fitness trackers allows many things. It lowers the barrier to entry for device makers to support windows because for all intents and purposes, they don’t have to. It lowers the barrier to entry for users as well. Their fitness tracker of choice if it’s not the Pulse, is available for windows 10 devices. Furthermore, this allows for Kumo to be a fitness social network by allowing people to compete against each other with universal data points: Push ups, sit ups, steps taken, etc. Not to mention it buys good press and the best experience would still be possible would still be the Pulse. I don’t need to get into what the benefits of having a social network would mean. If you don’t know the possible ad revenue streams, then I would have to sincerely question why are you even in software. But this can be easily done for Microsoft as they already have the means of getting ads in front of users. Use Azure as the back bone. You wouldn’t be in direct competition with your “partner” Facebook. But you would add to your revenue by filling a gap left behind by Facebook because it’s too much of a niche for them to dedicate time to fill.

     This app will allow you to set the background and layout of the pulse, the tile group layout along with the tiles as the current band app does now. It will give you your stats; calories burned, sleep, steps, etc. But it’ll also do a few other things. Kumo, as an app/service/social network will compete against services like Strava for cycling and running. By letting users show the miles they ran, jogged, cycled and challenge their friends and various other people that are in their skill level. It’ll also compete against lose it. MSN health used to be able to tell you how many calories was in a meal just by entering it. Whether you where cooking it from scratch and allocating the portions yourself or if it was a store-bought meal or something you bought from a restaurant. Add the ability to scan items and use location to help input what meals the user is logging in. Allow for smart scales to connect to it and you have a fully developed featured social network based around fitness. Apps like Lose it and Strava are not and for the foreseeable future will not be available as an app in the windows store. Let alone a UWP. And apps like Runtastic are leaving. So, until they are, users shouldn’t be left wanting for similar functionality.

     You know what my favorite thing to take into the gym is. My Surface Pro. It’s honestly my favorite fitness tool. Because with the apps available, I can select the workout I want and the screen is big enough that I can see what I need to do. So, as I said earlier, pull guided workouts from the device. The pulse when used by itself for workouts should be running, walking, golfing, cycling & generic workout. A guided workout should be done with the phone or the PC. This allows for Microsoft to build in features from properties they already owns like Kinect fitness. Finally, both the device and the app need to strongly benefit from 2 things Microsoft does well. 1 is calendars. For scheduling workouts & tracking progress. The other is Cortana. Because she’s connected to so many things: your phone, tablet, etc. As I mentioned earlier, Microsoft has several apps that center around 1 thing. This is the usual Redmond redundancy. Build in Microsoft health vault and health vault insights. This part WILL NOT BE SHARED TO THE SOCIAL NETWORK ASPECT OF KUMO. This allows for users to make their health data portable.

So there you have it. The Surface Pulse! It’s a smartwatch that’s the perfect companion device for your windows 10 devices be it a Windows Phone, Tablet/PC, Xbox, IOT or the range or Cortana devices like the Harmon Karmon Invoke. A fitness tracker that can collect your health data, analyze it & allow you to share it. And it’s a peripheral for your choice of gaming or productivity. It’s a smarter bluetooth headset. And because it’s made with some of the internals as the current Band 2 and the Lumia 520 minus the LTE, camera & microphone, it can be made on the cheap & sold at a bargain. If you have some of your own idea, leave them in the comments. If you agree with me in anyway, do me a favor. Tweet this article at:

https://twitter.com/joebelfiore

https://twitter.com/panos_panay

https://twitter.com/tmyerson

https://twitter.com/donasarkar

AND last but not least

https://twitter.com/SatyaNadella

Dear #Mozilla & Microsoft haters. Knock off the bullshit with #Windows10

It NEVER ends & somehow NEVER gets old. So with the launch of windows 10 comes the launch of Microsoft’s new browser, Edge. For all of the bitching & complaining about Internet Explorer, you’d think there would be fireworks and dancing in the streets for its demise. After almost 20 years, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has been killed… by Microsoft & when it’s above 50% market share. Not killed by Opera, not Chrome & sure as fuck not Firefox.

Speaking of the devil, Mozilla is butthurt because of something. What I don’t know or care about anymore. Some bloggers are saying Mozillas panties are in a bunch because the defaults after the windows 10 update switch to Microsoft’s apps. Others are saying the 1 or 2 extra clicks are to hard for users to figure out. Either way I don’t care.

It’s not that hard to set a different browser as the default. As soon as a browser installs your prompted as to whether to keep using edge or switch. I’ve gotten prompted twice after installing Opera. And in settings, all you have to do is type default and you can get to it. It’s not hard AT ALL unless your brain dead. To which I guess that’s most of firefoxs customer base.

Most people aren’t having this default problem because they don’t click express install. Others didn’t even know this was an issue. But this is the internet. If 5% of people complain about something then that means the world is coming to an end. Why doesn’t anyone complain that changing the browser default in iOS is not at all an option? That’s somehow ok. 1 or 2 extra clicks to change the default ANYTHING in windows and it’s a call for a public hanging. People complaining about the defaults on an OS is ridiculous and stupid. You don’t hear about tire companies complaining or suing car companies. If a tech company is more whiny than a tire company, then they should just close their doors.

Funny their name is Firefox. A Firefox was a real thing. Every now and then a forest would catch fire. Of the many woodland animals that would run from the blaze would be foxs’. Many of which would still be ON FIRE. They’d run out of the flames and into wooden villages, setting them on fire. Hence the term, FIREFOX. I’m reminded of this everytime I load Firefox on my otherwise fine PC only to see the CPU want to die and programs crawl then crash even after I close Firefox out.

But then there are the Microsoft haters. Sorry! I mean Micro$oft haters, jumping into defend poor Mozilla. Yeah really? Microsoft! That evil company that when a blogger from Gizmodo got their hands on a prototype iPhone left in a bar, they sent Jack booted police into their homes then banned them from their conferences. Oh wait, that was Apple. I mean that evil company scooping up private Wi-Fi data while mapping. Oh wait, that was Google. You mean that Hitler-esqe Microsoft with Chinese slave labor that jumps out of windows because they work 18 hr days? Nope, that was Apple. Wait, I mean that evil Microsoft that made Ellen DeGeneres apologize the day after she made an Apple parody ad on her show. No wait, that was also Apple. I mean the Microsoft that sued the city of NYC over the the nickname the big apple. Nope, that wasn’t Microsoft either.

I guess I’m not talking about the Microsoft founded by the guy running around the world getting rid of malaria & HIV, funding a new condom, giving pretty much all his money to charitable organizations (doing much of it now before he dies. Beats the shit out of Steve Jobs who couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge his own daughters existence without a fight. Let alone donate to charity. His wife and Tim cook did that in his name after he died.), was the FIRST major tech company to publicly support glbtq equality & was a major, early investor in Facebook? Which evil Microsoft are people talking about? And oh, really? Micro$oft? Because Apple & Google just toss iPhones and Google Glass out of the side of a truck for free right?

You know what, I take it all back. This browser issue isn’t a whiny, first world, white person problem. This is worse than when the barista at Starbucks misspells my name on my $6 coffee. The EU should break up Microsoft for having a monopoly. Because Google doesn’t have a search or mobile monopoly & Apple doesn’t have a media distribution monopoly? And it’s not like Mozilla had ever changed search defaults in their browser right? Sataya Nadellas head should be mounted on a pike. How dare they include a browser with their own OS. If I want a browser, I’ll order one on a cd or floppy disk via toll free number. Or they could give me the same browser choice that the EU made them offer but then everyone just ignored.

And that analogy I made about car companies and tires. I should have unfettered user choice everywhere. I’m going to march down to my local Ford dealer, buy a Mustang but then demand they fit it with monster truck tires. I don’t want their 18 in firestone Bullshit. It’s my choice. And I’m genuinely concerned as a customer of Brangelina movies that they have a monopoly. I’m gonna sue and make them take turns being married to me. In the EU court I’m seriously sure I would win.

An EPICALLY DUMB idea

 

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     I’m typing this out on my Surface RT. Not my Surface Pro 2. We all know how I fell about windows 10 as it stands right now. My Surface RT has been my on the go work horse. No matter how much it has been lambasted by the press or the short comings of its app store, I’ve absolutely loved it. But then again, I am the patron saint of lost causes. I love this tablet about as much as I loved my Lumia 900. Which got it EOL notice before it could get dirty or scratched. I got that as a replacement for my HTC HD2. As you know my Microsoft fandom started with the Zune devices. My last one being a Zune HD 32 GB in black. I think an iPod touch released the same year has seem more updates than the Zune HD ever did. The Zune desktop software is now defunct. I still use it for streaming podcast and music. It looks a lot better on a large screen TV than XBox music. Especially at parties. Know what all these things have in common? I loved them so Microsoft HAD to kill them.

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     We live in a time where nothing can stand on its own. We only care about speeds and feeds as Steve Jobs once called it. Be #1, a very close #2 or fail fast. The Surface RT devices didn’t set the world on fire nut they weren’t spectacular failure either. Any device maker that made a Windows RT didn’t sell nearly as many as the Surface RT. Many bowed out before Microsoft released the sequel to it. Now it seems that Microsoft is giving up on the RT models. No mini! No slated surface 3 on its way. Another EOL! The title of this piece is called “An epically DUMB idea”. The DUMB idea wasn’t me buying any of these devices. The dumb idea is Microsoft killing the Surface RT and half assing an update for the people who bought the Surface on good faith that Microsoft would continue to treat it as the premium device it was sold as.

Killing off Surface RT:

     The problem with Surface RT and Windows RT as a whole is the app gap. When people get something with the windows name they think about the 5 million programs available to it. Not less than 200,000 apps you’re limited to acquiring through the app store. This will be moot if the windows phone & windows app store are really going to merge. Having the desktop available while handy for using office was more of a tease. But killing off the Surface RT isn’t going to fix anything either. You may have read the complaining about there not being a new, high end Lumia on the horizon from everyone? When my Surface RT breaks, what do I replace it with? I want a tablet with a display that’s about 10 inches. I want about 10 hrs. of battery life. You’re probably saying to yourself “Quit you’re bitching and get a Surface Pro 3”.Wait for it. I don’t want to pay more than around $500 for a 32 GB model. Without a Surface RT option I’m forced to pick 2 of those 3. And so are a lot of people. You know what those people are going to get? An iPad! Microsoft has effectively given up on making its own affordable tablets. The Surface Pro 3 is too expensive and heavy to compete against the iPad. Hence why it’s always advertised against the MacBook Air and MacBook pro.

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Not really updating the Surface RT:

     With my Lumia 900 I could understand why it wasn’t going to see windows phone 8. It was a kernel switch from 7.5’s CE (compact embedded or seeing as it was already a decade old, Clinton era. Take your pick) to Windows phone shared NT kernel. Getting an update for a windows phone is harder than finding a virgin in a delivery room. Everything was against that Lumia 900 getting a decent upgrade. So I took 7.8 until I could get a Lumia 920. Windows RT doesn’t have those problems. It is the NT kernel right? And there’s no AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint or Verizon standing between my surface and a full update right? And Microsoft is making a version of Windows that runs on ARM processors right? So why am I getting some of windows 10 features? Why am I not getting Windows 10 mobile? It’s bad enough that my Surface pro is getting a tablet-ish experience. Why is my tablet getting the shaft? So I’ll get some of the features of windows 10 but none of the apps?

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It’s about trust:

     I’ve asked a lot of questions. I’ve got one more. How do I trust Microsoft again? Why should I buy ANYTHING with the Microsoft Brand on it? I was looking at and drooling over the Hololens. Now I’m not so sure. People buy Apple products because they can count on them getting updated and being replaceable with a newer version. They trust Apple to not fuck them over. How many people bought a Surface and Surface 2? Does Microsoft really want that many people spreading doubt about Hololens when Google is about to release a Google Glass 2, Apple is about to get into the VR space, HTC and Samsung about to sell their own VR/AR headsets and Oculus rift still a major player? Stand by your customers Microsoft and don’t give up on challenging the iPad. Because looking at Google it seems like you’re the only ones that can challenge Apple. Don’t just hand it over to them.

Windows 10: A fugly, Technicolor, Train wreck.

I really want to like Windows 10. I really do. All the promises that have been made by Microsoft I can’t help but want to like it. I love windows 8 and 8.1. My Surface RT is practically tattooed to me. And I Absolutely LOVED my Surface Pro 2. Right up until I installed the Windows 10 technical preview. Two weeks ago I installed the successor to windows 8 and turned my great hybrid tablet/pc into an eyesore. An eyesore that is at best a mediocre laptop. But gives you a HORRIBLE tablet experience. I’ve been nothing but frustrated using windows 10. All I can do is look at it and remember an axiom a friend said to me many years ago. Do you know what you get when you combine a good idea with a bad idea? You get a dumb idea. Windows 10 on hybrid devices is aesthetically a REALLY DUMB IDEA.

Before I go into what I HATE (I know hate is a strong word. And I mean it) about windows 10, Let me just say what I do like about it.

 

Windows-10

 

Multitasking is much improved:

My problem with windows 8 was what I would get when I would swipe from the left side of my screen. It wasn’t that big an issue but the small targets to select and open or snap an app weren’t great for my bad eyes or my large/clumsy thumbs. And it was limited to only 5 or 6 running apps. This only applied to the metro apps. No desktop programs. The closest you got was a view of the desktop itself as an app. Seeing all the programs and apps almost windows phone multitasking style is great. It would be nice if I could then pull the app completely down to close it or pull the app partially down to refresh it as I do in windows 8.1. But this may still yet come. Touching the X on the app/program in multitasking view is annoying. But at least when the app or program is full screen and my Surface Pro is in tablet mode I can pull down from the top to close it.

 

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The desktop is appealing for the first time in OVER a decade:

I started using windows back in junior high school. My computing life until then was your choice of a Tandy or a Mac. Windows 95 was awesome. Let me rephrase that. Windows 95 was awesome once I turned off Microsoft Bob. But it (the desktop) hadn’t really evolved. It got incredibly ugly with Windows XP with its Fisher Price UI. That and the fact that I got more viruses using XP than at any other time in my life almost made me switch back to a Mac. Aero-peek came with windows vista (a maligned OS in my opinion) and then pinning came with Windows 7. Not much else interesting. With windows 8 came a very clean look & feel to a desktop that once in it was driven mainly by your desktop icons & taskbar as the start button was gone. This wasn’t a great loss to me as when pinning programs to the taskbar came in windows 7, I had pretty much stopped using the start button. Yes that’s right. When they looked at the metrics of desktop use in windows 7. It was people like me that for all intents and purposes killed the start button. Now you have a blend of Windows phone in the start menu along with a few extra goodies. And if you spend much of your time in the desktop, you can have your modern apps running alongside of you old legacy programs.

 

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The app store works:

You can actually search for an app and find it. This is a pain in my ass when it with windows 8.1. The store didn’t work. On my windows phone I could search for an app without really knowing the name of the app I was looking for. For example: ompl podcast. I get a nice list of apps that fit that criteria. Not so in the windows 8.1 store. Results returned bump kiss. So apparently it only handles specific searches right? If you search for Facebook on windows phone you’ll get the Facebook app, the Facebook beta app, a few Facebook related apps (anything that used Facebook for some reason) and then a long list of bogus, 3’rd party Facebook apps that you probably shouldn’t use. That’s how an app store should work (minus that very last part). The app store in windows 8.1 is a completely different story in that if you typed in the word Facebook you got the suggestion and MAYBE if you tapped it you got the Facebook app. But god help you if you hit enter. It’s like it never existed in the marketplace at all. Now the “beta” app store will find the app you want if it’s in the store.

 

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Cortana could make it all worth it:

I’ve been wanting Cortana on my surface devices for the longest time. She’s not all there yet. She can’t open an app for me. There’s a lot of functionality that’s missing from windows phone. But it’s a great start. She’s not quite communicating with my Lumia Icon for things like reminders yet. But I’m sure that’s coming with windows 10 mobile.

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No more disjointed settings:

There’s very little I have to use the old control panel for. But the new settings looks great and is a lot neater. I’m sure that more of the control panel and desktop setting will find its way into the new settings.

 

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Action Center is a blessing:

I wanted this so badly in 8.1. It’s finally here. I’m hoping it will improve to be more in line with the action center in windows 10 mobile with actionable notifications.

There! I’ve said a couple of nice things about Windows 10 TP. It’s not like I completely despise it. As I said, the desktop is appealing to use for the 1’st time in a very long time. That means that for the 20% of the time I use my Surface Pro as a laptop, I’ll like (not love) it. My problem comes when I use my Surface pro as a tablet; which is 80% of the time. That’s when I HATE windows 10 TP. The bug up my ass is named continuum. The 1’st time I had heard this word was in reference to Star Trek. The Q Continuum was where Q stepped out of to make life a living hell for Picard and Janeway. Then it became a word I associated with a nightclub I got kicked out with because my friends got a little rowdy. That’s a completely different blog. Prior to windows 10 TP I associated with a show I’ve been meaning to check out because it has Lexa Doig from Andromeda in it. But I’ve heard mixed reviews about the show. That last one was the best thing I could associate with the word continuum. Then came 10 and now I just hate the word. Because it means tablet-ish mode.

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My Surface Pro was a slick machine that you could count on because you knew what it was going to do. 2+2 = 4. It’s now very hard to love. Not because of the bugs in the OS. I knew what I was getting into as far as that was concerned. It’s the UI changes. With 8.1 the start screen looked like it was almost an inch a way from being very much like the Xbox One dashboard. Navigate through all your apps by moving from left to right. Pinch to compress all the pinned apps together. Moving pinned apps around was pretty straight forward. Changing tile sizes could’ve been more like windows phone. Other than that, the start screen was great. Now, tiles can be too easy to move. Just scrolling can move an otherwise carefully placed app. You navigate up & down more like windows phone. I guess they didn’t know what to do with all the extra space after doing this in 10. So now at the left side of the blown up start menu (this is not a start screen as far as I’m concerned) is a very busy app list you CAN’T GET RID OF.

This app list doesn’t have nearly the function of the app list it replaces. It tells you the most used apps but it doesn’t tell you the apps used moderately, your least used apps or the apps you’ve never use at all. It’ll tell you the most recently install app. If you went on a spree and installed a bunch of apps then you’re out of luck. You only get the one. There’s no pinching to get a compressed view to find the app you want in alphabetical order. You can’t even tap the header letter to just get an alphanumeric view like in windows phone. It’s endless scrolling. Same goes for the tile experience. The pinch to compress is not there. I hope it comes back and fast. One thing I had really hoped to see is windows phone style folders. Not that I don’t like app groups. I love them. I REALLY wish I have them on windows phone. Right now I get that functionality with an app called group tiles. But I also really want folders on windows to help with the ENDLESS scrolling that I have to do.

While I like multitasking, snapping apps side by side is a terrible experience in 10 compared to its predecessor. In 8.1 I could snap an app of to the side and I could either snap an app that was already open off to the other side. Or use the search function in the charms bar (more on that later) to open up an app that easily popped into the empty space. In 10, there is no charms bar. I dare you to do what I used to do using the search in the persistent taskbar. Because it will open the app in full screen. In 10 if you snap an app, you can only snap another app that’s open already. In 8 you can move back and forth with snapping apps. So if I have Netflix open on the left side of my screen, I could swipe from the left and snap another app without interrupting Netflix. Not so in 10. It’s full screen all the way, then snap your apps.

If you think the app list on the blown up start menu bugs me, then you oughta know the taskbar is a pain in my ass. When I’m in desktop mode the taskbar makes perfect sense. Even though I have it set to auto hide. When I use my surface pro as a tablet like I intend on using it most of the time it’s really unwelcome. I want a taskbar when I’m using a tablet about as much as I want to see my mother while I’m having sex. It’s valuable real-estate being taken up by something I have ZERO intention of using outside of the desktop. SO when watching Hulu or Youtube or playing a game, that taskbar is there whether you like it or not. I’ll chalk it up to a bug but it even comes in continuum mode even when auto hide taskbar is on.

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The only thing I hate more than the taskbar or the app list is the hamburger bar. This is bar on the top of all your apps. Would you like Netflix full screen like you’ve come to expect and not have to look at the taskbar? Gently pull that down. Ever so gently pull down on that or you’ll make the app snap to the side. Then hit the made for a mouse expand button. Would you then like to close that app by pulling down like you did in 8.1? Well if you pull down you get that stupid hamburger bar and you have to use the legacy X button. Or hit the expand/compress button next to it then swipe down from the top like you use to once the taskbar returns.

right charm menu on Windows 10

More to my disdain for the hamburger bar. It’s a replacement for the charms bar. I love my charms bar. I’m really productive with my surface RT and my charms bar. Sharing is really easy. So is projecting to a wireless screen accessing the apps settings. Now I have to hit this tiny hamburger button that I HATE when I see it in an app (remember the OneDrive app revamp that drew a lot of hate. I was one of the many people that went postal over the hamburger button.) I still don’t want it there. And I don’t want it in windows 10 apps. So now instead of the thumb friendly charms bar that I could use one handed. I have to swipe down VERY GENTLY from the top. Then try to touch the tiny target of the hamburger menu on the left side of my screen. Then touch the tiny options that were in the charms bar. Then it takes me from the far left side of the screen to the far right of my surface to do what I need done. See how a one handed series of tasks became a complicated two handed series of tasks? I want my charms bar back & I’m DEADLY SERIOUS that not having it in windows 10 could be a deal breaker. Because without it, windows 10 is a fucking awful tablet experience.

Since using windows 10 I’ve seriously started looking at getting an iPad. Because windows 10 as a tablet just is not doing it for me. I was REALLY happy with Windows 8.1. There were a couple of goodies from windows phone that I wanted and don’t get me wrong, some of them are here. But some of them won’t be here. Universal apps are great but that’s still on the developer to make them universal. So many of the apps I want from windows phone (podcast lounge for example) may not make the jump and may be stuck on windows phone. On the iPad, if I want an iPhone app, I can download and open an iPhone app.  Cortana isn’t enough to make me want to use windows 10 right now. There are a lot of things coming that could make me want to use windows 10 with Cortana. But right now, she can’t even open an app. And the same goes for the action center. Had they made a combined action center & charms bar I’d be writing a different piece. It’s not the bugs that makes me hate windows 10. It’s what’s missing from windows 8. To make matters worse, it’s also what I’m missing from windows phone & soon what I’m missing from windows 10 mobile. I’m still left envying my Lumia Icon. Especially the keyboard. I’d love to see shape writing on my surface. Taping away on my surface pro is really annoying. I started writing this paragraph from my Icon and I love it because it’s fast and by now VERY familiar. On windows 10 you can’t even slide on the space bar to get to the predicted words on the top of the keyboard like 8.1. This may be coming back. But it’s nothing compared to the typing experience on windows phone. Then there’s what you get with windows 10 mobile. The virtual joystick locks AMAZING. Simple, easy, better than trying to move the carrot and then using the arrow keys on the bottom right of the keyboard. And then there’s the dictation MIC. I’d love that to use it EVERYWHERE on my surface pro.

I’m sure that once I’m able to get windows 10 mobile on my Icon, there’ll be a lot of things from windows that I want on my phone. Tile groups & picture password immediately come to mind. But this is the thing Microsoft doesn’t seem to get. There’s little to no difference when someone uses an iPad, iPad air, iPad mini or an iPhone. It’s roughly the same experience. Much of the same settings and features are universally available. Same goes for the apps. With Windows the tablet experience you get on a device that’s smaller than 7 inches will be different than what you get with a windows tablet bigger than 7 inches. And that’s not a good thing. It changes my flow & expectations. As it stands right now. I can’t see myself using Windows 10. Luckily this isn’t the final build. There’s more stuff to come & many things can change. But one thing needs to happen. Microsoft needs to stop seeing small tablet users as a different animal from large tablet users. A tablet is a tablet is a tablet.

So what will it take to make me happy with windows 10?

· Bring back the charms bar. Merge it with the action center. Keep the search button (move Cortana & search there), keep the share button, and keep the devices button. Lose the redundant windows button & swap it out for a back button. This will be great for having windows phone apps that aren’t universal. Keep the settings button for app settings. With the charms bar back, please ditch the hamburger bar.

· When in tablet mode, the only thing I should see from the desktop is the programs. Let them act like apps. This is apparently possible. I don’t want to see the taskbar. At all! Much like the hamburger bar, it’s taking up my Surfaces screen real-estate.

· In windows phone & Windows 10 mobile, I can swipe to get to the full list of apps. Same goes for windows 8 (which as I pointed out earlier is way more functional). I don’t need the full app list shoved in front of my face all the time.

· I don’t expect the start screen to go back to its old left to right navigation method. I do want folders in addition to app groups & pinch to compress all tiles.

· Leave the desktop as is. Just fix the iconography.

I really hope windows 10 improves really soon. Because the only thing that keeps me from hitting the roll back button is my surface RT. Which very soon will get its own rant because it’s getting the Lumia 900 treatment for what I feel is no good god damned reason. Contrary to Satya Nadella’s wishes, I don’t think I’m going to love windows. Quite the contrary, this Microsoft diehard may well be running into Apples arms by the end of the year.

OnePay a wallet for EVERYONE


Dear Sataya Nadella

I’m a long time Microsoft fan. I own a PC, Xbox & a windows phone. This letter is about the latter. 3 years ago Joe Belfiore (I’m assuming with the permission of) while announcing windows phone 8 also announced that the carrier backed Isis, now known as SoftCard would also be coming to windows phone. I went out & got their secured SIM card & waited. I’ve been waiting for over 3 years now. They are now working with their competition, Apple. I’ve pretty much given all hope that an app will EVER come to windows phone.

Microsoft has for the past couple of years been a kinder, gentler company that will throw out metaphorical carrots for partnerships. That’s not working. A prime example of this is Facebook. It took them 2-3 years to bring their messenger app to windows phone. It’s still not available on windows. Same goes goes for instagram which took 2 years to come to windows phone after Facebooks’ purchase of it. It’s not available on windows and it’s still in beta on windows phone. Facebook got MILLIONS of dollars from Microsoft as an investment when it was starting out.

An even more subject appropriate example of failure of partnerships is SoftCard. Joe Belfiore announced windows phone 8 at the same event as the debut of the Lumia 920″ https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zq4GYlN9uDY The part that stuck with everyone is: they’d have an app within a year. Since then (there are EVEN MORE links about Microsoft’s partnership with SoftCard. These are just a handful) this is what we got:   http://t.co/Hht4cIJyw8 & http://t.co/ZCvTaqf4A9 & http://t.co/zeYDVaJEeB & http://t.co/UCK2iQvCfG & then finally this happened http://t.co/j87qM4BVTa Microsoft should’ve beat Apple to the market to mobile payments market 3 years ago. But that would’ve meant being on Isis/SoftCard like white on rice. Now everyone on windows phone is holding their breath for the Zapp Mobile payments app.

 

       I’d like to note that Microsoft has apparently acknowledged that partnerships failure. In the video above, the wallet hub looked beautiful, advanced & dynamic when windows phone 8 first launched. To call what it is now a shadow of its former self would be a MASSIVE understatement. Nothing personal but the latest incarnation looks like it was coded by first year interns on their lunch break. One failed partnership & Microsoft trades in its Shelby Mustang convertible for a used Ford Fiesta.

 

      People have lost faith in Microsoft because they see it as a company with no strength and no cachè. It’s time to put the carrots away and wield a stick. Starting with tap to pay. PLEASE MAKE YOUR OWN APP. People aren’t going to adopt Windows or Windows Phone if they feel left out on features AND apps. When people start seeing iPhone users with Apple pay, it’ll be another reason not to use windows phone. I & many people via social media begged & asked SoftCard to make their app available. It’s not happening. Another service I use is called venmo (not available on windows phone). They and another service called looppay that competes’ with SoftCard said they aren’t making a windows phone app. None of these parties are partners. PLEASE COMPETE AGAINST THEM. Do it with one app that’s cross platform. Make it available for Windows, Windows phone, iOS, OSX, Android and BlackBerry. Call it OnePay: A wallet for everyone. I was hoping to make this app this app myself once I finish studying app development. But I want to use my phone as a wallet. I’ve wanted to do this for a while now. And I really want to stick with windows phone as I have since it launched. As I did with its predecessor windows mobile. Because I like and believe in the platform & want to see it grow.

Features of OnePay: 

• Tap to pay: Pay any merchant that takes NFC payments. Integrates with windows phones wallet for quick easy payment. Just tap, enter 4 digit code, hit ok & go. Also tap any compatible phone together to exchange money whether the person is a friend or not (MUST BE PIN PROTECTED).

• Pay via QR code: Pay where NFC isn’t available. Using a unique QR code. One that’s also color coded & borrows from Microsoft tag. Also works from one user to another.

• All your store discount cards in one place. Snap a photo of your discount card. OCR scans it into the app. Your discount codes are saved in the users switchable choice of barcode or QR code (bar codes on phones don’t always work.). Saved to OneDrive.

• Request payment: Set automatic request. Automated reminders. Great for small businesses.

• Pay a contact: Send money to anyone with a OnePay account (sign up with a Microsoft account or Facebook account) to and from anywhere. Just select contact, select amount. Optionally add a note. Send money instantly & privately.

• Card agnostic: Routing number, account number for bank & debt card information. No need for partnerships with banks.

Services like Venmo I’ve noticed have a problem. If I have money in my account with them & If I want to send someone money, it doesn’t take it from the money I have in venmo. It deducts it from my bank account. Be smarter than this. Or ask where I’d like the money to come from. One thing I like about venmo is the next day pay out (happens so long as I do it before 7 pm on a weekday). It’d be nice if OnePay could give the option of doing this automatically with an alert letting me know this auto cashout is about to happen so that I can select postpone for one day like an alarm clock. That way I can use the money in my OnePay account rather than wait till the next day for my cashout.

• Does spending statements: Excel style statements. When (date, time) & where I spent money. How the transaction was done (tap to pay, QR, send to contact). Who it was with (person, friend, merchant). How much was the transaction. Allow for flagging individual transactions for fraud.

• Scan receipts: Itemize & get metrics on your spending habits using OCR & save to OneDrive. Never lose a receipt ever again. An accountants best friend. Great for finding deals on products people buy regularly. Use Photosynth for really long receipts.

• Bitcoin transactions welcome. Treat it just like money. Give users the option to spend it or convert it to cash (state exchange rate at time of cashout)

• Simple 4 pane layout: Make it look like Xbox music. With searchable transactions. Pane 1; make payment. (QR code, NFC or send to contact). Check balance. Receive/request payment. Manual cashout (bitcoin & money). Bring back deals. Pane 2; Discount/Club cards. Swipe up & down to riffle through cards. Tap the card & get a scanable QR code. Pane 3; Receipts. Sort by date & time or name of store. Pane 4; payment history. Who did you pay, who paid you & outstanding IOUs’.

Make an app for merchants. Call it OnePay business. A phone & tablet app that works with the consumer version of the app. The Surface as a simple, elegant POS. With profiles for cashiers that itemizes all actions. Make it work with an Excel created manifest/inventory. Finally, turf out Venmos’ owner PayPal by making a pay with a OnePay button & make it publicly available. Allow users and merchants to monitor all activity with OnePay from a tablet app or the web with a layout similar to kin studio. Partner with mint.com to help users manage their spending habits.

Partner with livingsocial for deals. Partner with Craigslist, BackPage & Local online newspaper classifieds to get the ball rolling on the OnePay button. Skip taking ANY money per transaction. It’ll give you good faith with merchants and consumers. Just collect data on where people spend their money & merchants for targeted advertising. SUPER ENCRYPT ALL DATA on Azure. Act as though your protecting military secrets. The highest bit encryption possible with MANDATORY two factor security. Have the Xbox customer service team handle customer service.

Square, Venmo, a full featured PayPal app, LoopPay, Google wallet & SoftCard. These are all things not available on windows phone. Business is a 0/1 sum game. The worst deal ANYONE should have with Microsoft should be NO deal at all.

    Michael Patcher is a myopic tool and no one in their right mind should listen to him on the Xbox one:

    But don’t worry. Plenty of tech bloggers Will quote him ad nauseum.

    If your as addicted to tech bloggers as I am, you’ve probably heard this a lot. “analyst says Xbox to be sold without Kinect”, “Patcher says a Kinect free Xbox is in the near future”, “Patcher believes Microsoft to sell an Xbox without Kinect soon”, “Michael Pachter believes that Microsoft will make the Kinect optional”. Right! And I believe that if monkeys came flying out of my ass I could be a billionaire just by selling the broadcast rights to pay per view. That doesn’t mean that I should go out and buy that McMansion I’ve always wanted.

    Here’s why he’s an idiot. The PS4 is available in 5x’s more markets than the Xbox One. Which is why it has a 2 million unit lead (anyone that doesn’t mention that is a disingenuous bastard). Knowing that I would ask why the PS4s lead isn’t larger if its so much better. But here’s the big reason why Microsoft won’t get rid of the Kinect. At build they announced windows apps for the Xbox one. These apps are developed for use with the Kinect. Not including the Kinect would be like Apple saying in 2006 here’s the iPhone. But here’s a cheaper one without a capacitive screen, a smaller display and physical buttons. An Xbox without a Kinect is a dumb idea from a business perspective, useless from a consumer perspective and pointless from a developer perspective.

    Only a short sighted trog that’s only interested in the immediate house race would say get rid of the Kinect. The console gaming market is really small. A user base that’s not the 1.5 billion that is the PC market that Microsoft owns. It’s at best 200,000 million. The mobile gaming market is bigger. For the Xbox One to be successful it has to be (unlike the ps4) useful when not playing games. The Xbox isn’t just competing against the PS4. It’s competing against the Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and the Apple TV. Apple which just this past year bought the company that developed the original Kinect (when it was know as project natal) and is going to put it in the apple tv along with siri. (just a side note. Does anyone think it’s funny that the tech bloggers are damn near jizzing in their pants at the thought that an Apple tv is on the way with a Kinect & possibly Siri built in but are demanding that Microsoft dump the Kinect) It would make a lot more sense to dump the optical drive. A smaller, $375 priced Xbox sans the late 20’th century technology of reading a spinning sheet of plastic would be better than not only throwing the brakes on technology, but shifting into reverse.