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Windows 8: Do not go back to the start

  • Adrian bridgwater special to gulf news
  • Published: 19:46 July 4, 2013
  • Gulf News

Anyone who has initially struggled with the Windows 8 will know that Microsoft’s latest operating system takes more getting used to than most of its previous updates and releases.

But, Windows 8 - that tries to bring together personal computers, tablets and touchscreen interaction - is arguably quite an innovative step forward. If there is any trouble to report, it is simply that we don’t all have touchscreen devices as yet. Certainly most desktop PCs, in the UAE and other countries, are not touch-screen.

But things are changing. Microsoft’s own Surface Pro “2 in 1” device is a touchscreen tablet that is effectively a PC. The device comes with a detachable magnetic keyboard, an Intel Core i5 processor, four gigabytes (GB) of memory and a 64GB or 128GB solid-state drive (SSD). And, Windows 8 works well on it.

Those users who have bemoaned the lack of a START button should learn to live without one. The new Windows 8.1 update does have a start button, but users are not drawn to use it. Currently only in “technical preview” stage release, I downloaded Windows 8.1 and found several improvements, plus a START button that just isn’t that much use any more.

In the same vein as Microsoft’s Surface Pro, the Nokia Lumia 920 smartphone is Windows 8 done right. In this case it’s Windows Phone 8 and of course it is fully touchscreen driven. An average user should be able to quickly customise this device and remove the home screen apps that they don’t want and add new ones. If you can’t work out how to make something work, hold your finger on it for a couple of seconds or swipe it across the screen. Nine times out of ten that will bring up an action menu offering you all the controls you might typically need.

The Windows Phone platform alone now has over 200, 000 registered app developers.

There are 14 million mobile subscribers in the UAE, an average of two per person. It’s not one for each ear; it’s usually one for work and one for home. Either way, what with Dubai Smart Government initiative for mobile service delivery, we are going mobile and going touch enabled all the way.

With Nokia, Microsoft has made reasonable strides within the Windows 8 platform and 48 out of the 50 most downloaded apps from the Windows Phone store (Marketplace) are available on its Lumia range of smartphones. So what’s getting Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices moving in the UAE?

Here City Lens

Here City Lens allows the user to point Nokia’s camera at a city street to get an overlay of information about restaurants, shops, hotels and more on the surfaces of buildings and other places of interest. In the same family, HERE Transit provides details of all modes of transport including the metro, bus, taxi and boat for any given destination. The application features exact departure and arrival schedules along with details of transfers; and guides pedestrians to the nearest stop or station. With live updates from RTA, the HERE Transit app works pretty well for Dubai’s public transport commuters.

Carrefour

The new Carrefour UAE mobile app allows Windows phone users to save their MyCLUB Card details onto their phone and can then get it scanned at the counter directly from their phone. The app also includes features that allow users to find the nearest store to them and then get directions to that specific store. Users are also able to browse through available promotions.

Dubai Cinemas

Dubai Cinemas list every movie being shown at any cinema in Dubai. You can also access details about the cast of movies, their pictures and trailers, among other offerings

mPark Helper

mPark Helper allows users to access the Dubai mPark service by helping you to create the required SMS instruction. For future reference, it also enables you to save the code of the parking zone, making it easy for you to choose from the saved list.

Rowi

While Tweetdeck remains a skewed development project in many people’s opinion, Rowi is a Twitter app for Windows Phone 8 with a clean and simple interface. If you are a serious Twitter user, then this app presents a streamlined, easy to use Metro interface that will appeal to many.

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