Microsoft ditching Windows 8, plans to release Windows 9

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shows off Windows 8 at an event back in 2012. Now there are rumours the company is scrappi...

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shows off Windows 8 at an event back in 2012. Now there are rumours the company is scrapping the software. AFP PHOTO Source: AFP
MICROSOFT is rumoured to be getting ready to give Windows 8 the boot and release a brand new Windows 9 operating system.
The ill-fated software introduced just 15 months ago has suffered from heavy criticism and poor consumer uptake and is reported to be given a complete overhaul for 2015 with Microsoft expected to make the announcement at an event in April.
As to what consumers are expected to see with the new operating system is yet unknown but many know the problems faced with Windows 8 and why it's time Microsoft are having a sweeping re-think.

The tile-style interface of Windows 8 isn't to every...

The tile-style interface of Windows 8 isn’t to everyone’s taste. Source: Supplied
When Microsoft gave its radical Windows 8 operating system it presented consumers with a bright, colourful tile style interface which could run seamlessly on desktop, mobile and tablet. However, many traditional features of the system millions had been using for years disappeared, confusing some, alienating others and infuriating many when even the iconic "start" button disappeared.
An 8.1 update came to rectify many faults and consumer complaints (including bringing back the Start button) with the software but it seems too little too late and Windows is ready to pull the plug on the whole thing.

On the mobile scene Windows 8 devices hold a minority market share compared to Android and Apple's iOS devices and despite a good go at releasing numerous handsets and tablets last year the lack of consumer interest and failure to really make an impact in the mobile market has been cause for review for the Microsoft board.

Microsoft's foothold in the mobile market has been a slippery one with Windows 8 devices not taking off like the...

Microsoft’s foothold in the mobile market has been a slippery one with Windows 8 devices not taking off like the company expected. Source: AP Photo Source: AP
Windows 8 has even been unable to make waves in the workplace with many millions of corporations around the globe still using, and preferring to use, Windows 7 running machines.
It is a case of identity crisis for the much understood Windows 8, which never managed to bridge the gap between PC and mobile experience. We await more news in the run-up to Microsoft's Build conference in April and perhaps we'll even see a new CEO there, too.
Why do you think Windows 8 failed and what would you like to see on the new Windows 9 software? Continue the conversation @newscomauHQ



Microsoft publishes a new expert guide to mastering Windows 8.1


Windows 8.1 -- or "New Windows" as it’s increasing being referred to -- is much easier to use than its predecessor, thanks to the inclusion of various help and tips built directly into the OS. There is still a learning curve for anyone coming to Windows 8.1 from an older, or different, operating system, but it’s nowhere near as challenging to get to grips with as Windows 8 undoubtedly was.
The new operating system is very powerful, but many people won’t be aware of just what it’s capable of, so to help users uncover the advanced features on offer Microsoft has published a new 20 page PDF guide covering areas such as File Explorer, Task Manager, Internet Explorer 11, Mobility Center, Windows To Go, Miracast, and SkyDrive.
The Windows 8.1 Power User Guide for Business is, as the name says, aimed at business users, but the information it contains will be of use to anyone looking for ways to do more with the tiled OS.
As the description accompanying the guide says:
With the new Windows, you have everything you need to work efficiently. Your familiar desktop is better than ever with advanced functionalities, like the new Task Manager and streamlined file management. Internet Explorer 11 gives you instant and fluid access to the world. And best of all, you can do it all feeling confident that your important data is secure. With the advanced features of Windows 8.1, you can get the most out of your device.
The guide explains how to access the various features, providing details for all input methods -- touch, mouse and keyboard.
You’ll be shown how to customize the taskbar, manage apps and services, use Windows To Go, master IE11, use Miracast to project Windows to a wireless display, protect your device, store stuff in SkyDrive, and sync your settings. There are also full pages devoted to getting the most out of touch, the mouse, and keyboard.
The Windows 8.1 Power User Guide for Business is available to download from here.


15 Free Windows 8.1 Customization & Tweaking Tools

Posted January 14, 2014 – 8:50 pm in: Windows 8.1

A number of free and paid software have been released ever since the preview release of Windows 8.1 update. In this guide, we have compiled a list of 15 free tools that help you tweak and customize the default look and feel of Windows 8.1 operating system.
In no particular order, following are the 15 free tools out there to tweak and customize Windows 8.1 operating system.
Windows 8.1 customization tools
NOTE: We suggest you create a manual system restore point or create a backup image before using these tools.

Windows 8.1 Boot Screen Logo Changer:
An advanced tool designed to change the default logo of the boot screen. Even though it sports a simple user interface, using this tool isn’t very straight-forward and we advise you follow the instructions mentioned in our how to change the boot screen logo in Windows 8.1 guide for detailed instructions.
Windows 8.1 Boot Screen Logo Changer
Download Boot Screen Logo Changer

Start Button Changer:
The Start button on the taskbar in Windows 8.1 is quite nice but if you have come across a better looking Start button and want to replace the default one with your desired one, Start Button Changer is the ideal tool. It’s easy-to-use as well.
Start Button Changer
Download Start Button Changer

Lock Screen Customizer:
Even though you don’t need a third-party tool to set your picture as lock screen background in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, you might want to use this tool to change the time format, disable the lock screen, and change the login screen color.
Download Lock Screen Customizer

Charms Bar Customizer:
As the name suggests, this tool lets you change the default look of the charms bar by replacing default icons with custom ones. That is, you can replace search, share, Windows logo, settings and devices icons with your own icons.
Charms Bar Customizer
Download charms Bar Customizer

WinAero WEI Tool:
This isn’t exactly a tweaking or customization tool but helps you get the Windows Experience Index (WEI), one of features removed from Windows 8.1 update. As you might know, only the GUI version of Windows Experience Index has been dropped from Windows 8.1 version. This tool reads the WEI file located in Windows folder and then displays processor, RAM, hard disk, and graphics scores.
You can also check out other two tools named Metro Experience Index and ChrisPC Windows Experience Index to get Windows Experience Index in Windows 8.1.
Download WinAero WEI

Windows 8.1 Start Screen Customizer:
Microsoft has enhanced the Start screen in Windows 8.1 with even more customization options. For instance, you can set your current desktop background as Start screen background. But if you want even more customization options, Windows 8.1 Start Screen Customizer is the right software. It’s not only free but portable as well.
Start screen customizer
With Windows 8.1 Start Screen Customizer, you can set your own custom picture as Start screen background, set a video file as Start screen background image, change Start screen opacity, and more.
Download Windows 8.1 Start Screen Customizer

This PC Tweaker:
This PC Tweaker lets you add new folders and locations to This PC and also lets you remove Documents, Pictures, Music and Videos folders from This PC.
This PC Tweaker
Download This PC Tweaker

Start Is Gone:
The Start button in Windows 8.1 isn’t quite useful as there is no Start menu and it takes us to the Start screen, which can also be accessed by pressing the Windows logo key on the keyboard or by clicking the Windows logo button on the Charms bar. If you prefer to see the Start screen by pressing the Windows logo key on the keyboard and want to free up some space on the taskbar, you can use this little tool hide or remove the Start button from Windows 8.1 taskbar.
Start Is Gone
Download Start Is Gone

Tiny Windows Borders:
Unlike Windows 7 and previous versions, window borders in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 are thick. If you prefer to see small window borders instead, you can use Tiny Borders to reduce the border size.
Tiny Window Borders
Download Tiny Windows Borders

Aero Glass for Windows 8.1:
If you have upgraded from Windows Vista or Windows 7, you’ll want to enable the Aero glass transparency to enhance the look of the desktop environment. Aero Glass for Windows 8.1 is the only and best tool out there to enable Aero Glass in Windows 8.1.
Aero Glass for Windows 8.1
Download Aero Glass for Windows 8.1

Start Screen Color Tuner:
Start Screen Color Tuner automatically changes the Start screen background to match the window borders color on the desktop. You can also use this tool to automatically update your window borders color to match the Start screen background color.
Start Screen Color Tuner
Download Start Screen Color Tuner

Win+X Menu Editor:
Win+X menu or power user menu is the small menu that pops up bottom left corner of the screen when you right-click on the Start button or when you press Windows logo and X keys. You can customize this menu by removing default entries or by adding new entries.
Download Win+X menu Editor

Start Menu Modifier:
Many users don’t like to leave the desktop environment to launch apps or search for system settings. This tiny tool lets you open the Start screen right within the desktop environment and also lets you change the default size of the Start screen.
Start Menu Modifier
Download Start Menu Modifier

Ultimate Windows Tweaker:
Ultimate Windows Tweaker is probably the best tweaking software out there for Windows. It has recently been updated to version 3.0 to support Windows 8.1. UWT 3.0 for Windows 8.1 includes over 170 tweaks in six different categories.
Download Ultimate Windows Tweaker

Boot UI Tuner:
Unlike Windows 8.1 Boot Screen Logo Changer, Boot UI Tuner lets you enable/disable the Windows logo on the boot screen, enable/disable messages, enable/disable the small loading circle that appears just below the Windows logo, and enable/disable Windows 7 style legacy boot menu.
Boot UI Tuner
Download Boot UI Tuner

7+ Taskbar Tweaker:
As the name implies, this tool is designed to help you tweak the taskbar in Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 versions.
7 Taskbar Tweaker
Download 7+ Taskbar Tweaker




Ultimate Windows Tweaker 3.0 Released For Windows 8.1

Those of you following IntoWindows or any other popular tech website ever since the release of Windows 7 probably have noticed that most of the tweaking applications that were released for Windows 7 haven’t been updated to support Windows 8 or Windows 8.1.
For those who have started using Windows or computers recently, hundreds of tweaking applications were released soon after the release of Windows 7. IntoWindows had reviewed almost all of the tweaking tools out there for Windows 7. In fact, we had compiled a list of 55 free tweaking tools out there for Windows 7, 7 free tweaking tools to tweak the taskbar, and 5 tools to tweak and customize Windows 7 ISO.

Ultimate Windows Tweaker for Windows 8.1 Picture1

For some reason, most developers haven’t updated their tweaking applications over the past two or three years and most of the tweaking utilities out there don’t include tweaks for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. If you are looking for a good tweaking tool for Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, your search should end here as the popular Ultimate Windows Tweaker has just received an update to support Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.
Ultimate Windows Tweaker, one of the best tweaking tools out there for Windows 7, has just been updated to version 3.0 to include new tweaks for Windows 8 as well as Windows 8.1.

Ultimate Windows Tweaker for Windows 8.1 Picture2

With UWT 3.0, you can customize Windows UI, enhance the performance, and also improve the security of your Windows OS. The current version of UWT includes over 170 tweaks in customization, user accounts, performance, security, Internet Explorer, and additional categories.

The system information tool in UWT provides some basic information about your operating system such as your processor type, installed RAM, user name, and computer name. The best thing about the system information tool is that it displays Windows Experience Index score even on Windows 8.1.

Ultimate Windows Tweaker for Windows 8.1 Picture3

Options to customize the Start screen animation, disable the lock screen, enable/disable lock screen slide show, disable toast notifications, and disable “You have new apps that an open this type of file” notification are some of the new tweaks included to customize the Windows 8/8.1 UI.
Ultimate Windows Tweaker is compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 8/8.1. Note that the developer recommends you use the UWT 2.0 for tweaking Windows 7 and use UWT 3.0 if you have upgraded to Windows 8/8.1.
We recommend you create a manual system restore point before tweaking the default settings of your Windows OS so that you can quickly revert to the default settings with a few mouse clicks.

Download UWT 3.0



How to clean up File Explorer's cluttered Ribbon menu in Windows 8

When it comes to Windows, there is nothing I love more than Microsoft’s infamous Ribbon interface—and nothing I hate more. Using it in Microsoft Office is great, but adding Ribbon to Windows 8's file explorer was a bit much for me.
So I decided to pare File Explorer down a little and put the features I might need front and center, while banishing the rest of the Ribbon from my sight. If you’re tired of dealing with a Ribbon-loaded File Explorer, here’s a quick way to simplify your menu hopping.
The Home tab of Windows 8's stock Ribbon interface. (Click to enlarge all images in this article.)

But first…

Before we get going, let’s run down some basic anatomy of Windows Explorer. At the very top of the window you’ll see a file folder icon in the upper left corner. Next to that are a few icons and a downward facing arrow. That small set of icons is known as the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).
Below that, where you see menu options for File, Home, Share, and View—each with their own mess of icons—is the infamous Ribbon we were talking about earlier.
And now, on with the show…

How to clean up the Ribbon interface

Ribbon UI quick access toolbar dropdown menu
The QAT's drop-down options menu.
First, click on the QAT's downward arrow to show the functions you can add to the Quick Access Toolbar, including undo, redo, delete, properties, new folder, and rename. Some of these should already be selected. Add the feaures you use on a regular basis; they should appear in the QAT immediately.
Fear not if you don't see a beloved function: The QAT can have any Ribbon UI feature you want. To add your favorites, just right-click the option in the Ribbon and select “Add to Quick Access Toolbar” in the pop-up menu that appears.
That’s it!
Now that you've got your QAT fine-tuned, it’s time to give it a more prominent placement and banish the Ribbon UI. Right-click the Ribbon and select “Show Quick Access Toolbar below the Ribbon.” Next, right-click the Ribbon again and select “Minimize the Ribbon.”
minimize windows 8 ribbon ui
Click "Minimize the Ribbon" to, well, you know.
Windows 8's File Explorer should now look similar to what you see below, with the Ribbon pushed to the background as much as possible and the Quick Access Toolbar front and center with all your favorite menu options.
windows 8 ribbon ui minimized
Well, that's much less of an eyesore.

Forgotten, but never gone

The Ribbon may be banished, but it’s not gone for good. Anytime you need to access the Ribbon, simply click on the menu option you need (File, Home, etc.,) and the Ribbon interface will briefly reappear. If you want the Ribbon back permanently, just right-click the Ribbon’s menu options and deselect “Minimize the Ribbon.”
You can put the QAT up at the top again by right-clicking it and select “Show Quick Access Toolbar above the Ribbon.”
These few simple steps can make File Explorer a lot easier to use—and a tiny bit closer to the standard menu interface found in previous versions of Microsoft’s OS. The same basic procedure can help you clean up Microsoft Office's Ribbon UI, if you consider it an eyesore, too. I hope it helps!