Category Archives: PC

Last straight line before Windows 8.1.

With a forecast of release by October 22nd, 2013, Windows 8.1 arrives at big step, with its procession of “novelties”.

Windows 8.1 publicity (Clic to search on Amazon.com)

Windows 8.1 publicity (Clic to search on Amazon.com)

Start button, new size of tiles, until four applications in parallel (according to the size of the screen), here is for the visible part. Lets add to it more personalization (start screen with notifications, animated background screen), possible starting up on the desktop, filters on applications, improved search, new applications…

 

Of new devices.

With the release of Windows 8.1 will come the second generation of Surfaces… Surface 2 and Surfaces 2 Pro.

Microsoft Surface 2 (Clic to search on Amazon.com)

Microsoft Surface 2 (Clic to search on Amazon.com)

Although RT disappeared from the title, the Surface 2 will have this version of the OS (that is Windows RT 8.1) and will work with a NVidia Tegra 4.

The Surface 2 Pro will turn under Windows 8.1 with a new generation Intel Corie I-5 (Haswell).

Office, SkyDrive (200 GB) and USB 3.0 for everybody ūüėČ

Without counting the possibility of adding it a “Surface Docking Station” supplying three USB 2.0, an USB 3.0, a connections Ethernet, an audio entry and the possibility of connecting it two screens… Of what to transform a Surface into real Desktop PC.

Still let us note the project “Remix”, a keyboard dedicated to the mix of pieces of music, usable with the musical applications (whith one on Xbox Music).

Let us hope that they will receive a better welcome than the previous generation, considering the biggest maturity of the OS and the most rand count of applications (100 000). Personally, only the price holds me ūüôā

Source (EN): TabletPC Review: Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2.

Other manufacturers announce too of new devices (tablets, cross, etc.) for the release of Windows 8.1… With always persistent rumors around a Nokia tablet (Sirius or Lumia on 2520). It will be necessary to wait on October 22nd to know more about it.

Source(EN): TabletPC Review: Nokia Sirius.

 

Of new uses.

With all this, also move forward the Xbox One and of “new uses”: Cloud Gaming. What is it?

Xbox One Cloud Gaming (Clic to search on Amazon.com)

Xbox One Cloud Gaming (Clic to search on Amazon.com)

Cloud Gaming (or PROTIP project to Microsoft) allows to play since a Xbox One on a PC, a tablet or a Smartphone. The game being stored “on-line” the “power” of the terminal does not enter in account… Understand all the same broadband (we do not still know if the storage is on-line or in WAN). Microsoft have already run Halo 4 on Nokia Lumia 520 (understand bottom range Windows Phone 8). I hope that this kind of thing is going to succeed ūüôā

 

Conclusion:

Things continue to move in the Microsoft ecosystem. Although there will be no independent games on Xbox One before 2014, this more and more coherent set Windows/Windows Phone/Xbox is always very attractive for the .Net developer I am… And there are new and interesting things to be made ūüôā

Microsoft moves forward its pawns…

Yesterday, September 4th, 2013, Microsoft announced the acquisition of the mobile division of Nokia.

Nokia connecting Microsoft

Nokia connecting Microsoft

Here we are, it is made… So far both entities worked jointly on Windows Phone, now the Finn integrates the American Publisher to strengthens his division “Device” and appropriates the “trademark” Nokia (as well as Lumia). But this acquisition raises numerous questioning:

  • The future of the “brands” Nokia and Lumia ?
  • What about the “low-cost” Asha and the classic telephones ?
  • What reaction of the other manufacturers (HTC, Samsung) ?
  • An impact on “light” tablets (Surface RT) ?
  • “fan” of Nokia are going to follow ?

On one side the other manufacturers of Windows Phones are kept (in a way) by agreements of patents concerning Android… To leave Windows Phone would have an impact on their margin… On the other hand, for the users also, it is better to have the choice so much at the level of the price, of the size, the characteristics (and of a possible attachment in a brand). Finally, this commits only me ūüėČ

Source (FR): MonWindowsPhone: Microsoft acquires Nokia

For the moment, we have the beginning of answer on behalf of Nokia (Fr): MonWindowsPhone: Nokia what changes

 

Without counting the risks of losses of skills at Nokia (voluntary departures of staff as for Sun during its repurchase by Oracle), this acquisition is not made without game of musical chair at the hierarchical level. These were quickly cleared up by Steve Balmer (a good thing):

  • Stephen Elop returns at Microsoft to take care of a division specialized in the hardware beside Julie Larson-Green.
  • Juha Putkiranta handles the integration of Nokia within Microsoft.
  • The marketing will be centred a brand and a strategy of advertising unified (Tami Reller and Mark Penn).

Source (Fr): MonWindowsPhone: Microsoft Nokia changes

 

Microsoft and Nokia are going to have a lot of work… Especially as Microsoft has already begun a big internal restructuring to open up its divisions and favor the collaboration and the research.

Humor: Entreprise Organisations

Humor: Entreprise Organisations

Roughly, its the end of branches (Windows, Windows Phone, Office, etc.) divided up and with their own structures of management, Microsoft is reorganized in 4 poles: OS, Applications, Cloud and Devices, and transverse functions (Marketing, Finances, R&D, etc.). Nothing on “Green It”… But the Twitter feed of “Microsoft Green” still active…

As synthesizes it Steve Balmer, the company groups together around a unique strategy (One Microsoft).

Source (Fr): Developpez.com: Microsoft restructuration

 

Conclusion:

 

The medium and long-term impact of these evolutions on the Windows ecosystem and especially the impact for us, developers, in term of longevity of the technologies, the products and the technologies remains to see. Especially for the “rich” period: Surface 2, debates on Windows RT, the Xbox One release, Windows 8.1 update… I can’t wait that things settles that we see clearly there a little more ūüôā

Smoothly and colorfull passage with Windows 8!

Since the end of 2012 went out the last of the OS of Microsoft: Windows 8.

 

It joins in a “multi-screens” strategy, a convergence of the¬†Windows (PC, mobiles and tablets), Windows Phone, Xbox and¬†Windows RT (tablets) systems, a sharing of the profiles (Windows Live) and¬†data (SkyDrive… Meaning Cloud). This convergence is made through¬†the “Modern UI” interface, based on colored “tiles” (square) giving access to applications, which we find on the various platforms.

Accueil Windows 8

Windows 8 start screen

Arriving two years after Windows 7, this new system is subject to controversy.

At first the presence of two interfaces. The start screen and the desktop. The first one based on tiles and gets closer strongly to Windows Phone and accommodates the Store (shop of applications) and the Xbox services (games, music). Furthermore, the browser is IE10 close to that of the mobiles. This interface is rather intended for a tactile use. The desktop as for him is very close to Windows 7 and assures moreover retro compatibility. One of the most common criticisms is the shift from a mode to the other one and the too tactile orientation of the start screen for those who have no adequate screen.

There are two criticisms from this cut. The first one is the absence of start menu (replaced by the start screen which can group links towards all the applications) and second Windows RT, version relieved for ARM tablet having only the start mode, considered by certain manufacturers as ambigue because of the presence of Windows in the name (and of the absence of desktop and the classic environment).

Next to it, there is also an absence of Windows Media Center or of DVD / Blu-Ray reading of movies (attention, Windows 8 reads all the same the¬†data disks). To be able to read DVD, it is necessary to buy the extension Media Center… Or install a third party¬†software. For Blu-Ray, it is necessary to buy a third party software (that does not change). This orientation of Microsoft is understandable by a report¬†of users count¬†/ cost of development and licenses… It is a question of profitability.

Set apart it (voucher, at ergonomics level, it’s a “shock” because the users been used in “classic” Windows systems¬†need a time of adaptation) the system starts fast, is very fluid, little greedy, honorable of numerous novelties. The main clauses being IE10, Store, Xbox services, the “contextual” Search, break / resumption on the downloads of files, the¬†Windows Live / Skydrive integration and clearer interfaces.

Personally, I needed some time to accustom me to these changes, but finally we are there and found things to be as fast as under Windows 7. Example of the integration of devices with Microsoft OS, the Xbox Smartglass application allows to interact since a PC, a tablet or Windows Phone with the Xbox. With Skydrive, OneNote and Office 365 it is very easy to share documents and media between the various devices, what is not unimportant. Thus Windows 8 is a positive experience, especially as the whole ecosystem (with Windows Phone 8 and the Xbox 360) tends to be coherent.

 

But inside, what interests developers?

For an amateur developer (thus I for example when I develop at my home), the Express tools (limited and free versions) lean on Visual Studio on 2012 (thus a new version) and new thing, Team Foundation Server Express is available, what allows to secure his sources ūüėČ . Then, all the “former” technologies (WPF, WCF, WF, Silverlight, XNA, etc.) work in¬†desktop mode. Thus everything goes well ūüôā .

The big novelty is the Store, which following the example of its homonym on Windows Phone or of Xbox game for Xbox 360 and Windows Phone allows a “registered” developer to distribute its applications. Unlike Windows Phone which leans on¬†Silverlight or XNA¬†technologies and of the Xbox 360 which leans on XNA, Windows 8 Store leans on a new application¬†stack (or let us say an evolution of the previous technologies) which leans on three couples of technologies (and three big manners to develop): XAML¬†/ C#, C++ / DirectX, HTML / Javascript.

The set can represent itself so:

Windows 8 application stack


Windows 8 application stack

To summarize, a Store¬†application (and taken care by Microsoft) has to work with the¬†WinRT API (roughly, the technologies in green), whereas the desktop applications work with the classic¬†Win32 API¬†(technologies in blue). It’s to bet for the continuation that¬†Stores should converge between Windows 8, Windows Phone and the next Xbox, to strengthen the coherence of the system and return the more attractive development of application. Wait and See ūüôā .

 

Conclusion:

For my part, I am seduced by this ecosystem, visually different from the competitors and proposing nice technologies (although still heterogeneous). Of course, I find it’s a pity the absence of XNA¬†or Silverlight in new Store, but it is necessary to admit that XNA¬†has its limits (DirectX 9) and Silverlight was killed by Apple in the same way as Flash.

Remains to define what corresponds to me best…

Passage in the third dimension!

Having bought a NVidia 3D card, it was time to buy a 3DReady screen which goes with and to take advantage of the third dimension!

 

To take advantage of the 3D? But what he tells, will say to me you? 3D cards and 3D games, it’s been a while which we see and¬†speak about it! It is even a big selling point of games since one about fifteen years!!!!

 

Well, it is true that it is not a very clear¬†story. Then there’s the real 3D and the real-false 3D…

The real-false 3D is in fact any game or application manipulating an environment (or scene) in a space in three dimensions (direct or indirect). Every object (or model) have a position in this scene. This scene is seen through a camera, which is going to determine a visible volume in this space. The visible objects in this volume are going to be transformed according to position relative to the camera to appear to the good position, with the good orientation and the good size. The result is going to be then planned on a surface (in two dimensions, thus) to be shown in the screen.

To summarize, when we speak about 3D or about 3D engine it is in fact to describe the type of scene depiction and its result: a 3-dimensional effect.

The real 3D, it is almost the same thing… Blimey! Except that in it of the Stereoscopic 3D there are two slightly moved cameras, one for the left eye, one for the right eye. Two surfaces are alternately sent to the screen, and the screen posts the images… Well, it’s there where we split in two different Stereoscopic technologies of 3D (there is a third but it’s still too marginal):

  • The Active 3D… Why active? Because of the glasses which are in fact LCD shutters. When the screen shows the image for the right eye, the left-hand side is filled. Alternately, when the screen shows the image for the left eye, it is the right which is filled. By persistancy, the human brain reconstructs a 3D image with the depth, and the tour is played ūüėČ For that purpose, is needed all the same a particular screen, say 3DReady, capable of reaching 120 Hz refreach (60 Hz by eye, thus) and being able to increase its luminosity (to compensate for the effect of darkening of LCD shutters).
  • The Passive 3D always because of the glasses which have polarized glasses, that is which filters the polarization of the light. In then there it is a question of showing both images at the same time in the screen, a line for every image (what divides the resolution by two… You follow?) but every line being alternately polarized for every eye. The brain makes then its work and the tour is played. The advantages of this methods are on one hand that glasses are less heavy, less cumbersome and less expensive and the screen needs only a rate of rafraichissement of 60 Hz. The inconvenience comes from the resolution which is divided by two.

 

There is the third shape, without glasses, which is certainly the future of the 3D (popularized by the 3DS¬†of Nintendo). But at the moment it’s used only on the portable consoles 3DS¬†of Nintendo, some Smartphones (3D LG Optimus,¬†HTC Evo 3D) and some prototype screens extremely expensive. Coming up next, but not at once.

 

Let’s go back to the subject.

Having a¬†NVidia¬†card, using the technology 3DVision, I turned to a¬†120 Hz screen certified for this technology (said 3DReady). To be there, I wanted to take a voucher. At the top of the basket, there was two in 23 inches, Acer and ASUS. The hazards of the availability made that I had only the choice of the ASUS – VG236HE 3D (but a good choice ūüėČ ).

ASUS VG236HE 3D

ASUS VG236HE 3D

It is a very good screen, and a very good brand. Its only defects, a brilliant screen surface (attention on the reflections) and its out of factory regulation which gives false colors. Well, the remedy is simple: to lower the luminosity (in 40) and pass in warm colors and it is adjusted. Then, it is necessary to acquire 3DVision glasses of NVidia. There, not too much the choice.

Lunettes 3DVision

3DVision glasses

And there, it is the assured slap when the games are made for this technology! Some require some regulations but they are generally supplied by NVidia. Generally, the 3D is very immersive but contents itself with effects in depths (going into the screen). There is some more of games exploiting the effects of gush (taken out of screen). Moreover, this technology is not intended that in the games. It’s possible of¬†read¬†3D Blu-ray if we have a classic Blu-ray¬†reader¬†(mine is an ASUS BW-12B1LT), even to convert in the air media classics (video on record, DVD) via the adapted¬†reader (PowerDVD supplied with the Blu-ray reader, in my case).

 

Little¬†technical tips… You will have a terrible look with these glasses and your close relations not technophiles shall not miss to point out it to you especially if you add¬†headphones ūüėČ

Other thing… Only the persons equipped with glasses benefit of the image the screen, the others see a “vague” image… To look at several, are needed several glasses. That is expensive (that it is not cheap already).

 

Well, if after some time passed in front of Stereoscopic 3D, you have a headache¬†or with eyes… It is one or the other: either you have tired eyes (too many screens, physical fatigue, etc.), or you have a sight problem requiring the consultation of an Ophthalmologist. We understand all the same that it is necessary to keep its prescription glasses under the 3D glasses (still unconfortable and terrible look). Otherwise the Stereoscopic 3D does not cause problems with eyes other than a certain fatigue, and it is however advisable not to let the young children look at it, because of their sight forming (the 3D, not before 7 years!).

 

Conclusion:

The Stereoscopic 3D it is beautiful, the Stereoscopic 3D it is funny. It’s a dumping without preceding (except¬†a good scenario and a voucher game design) and a fascinating technological experience. But that has a price.

Let’s say that you have to want it or have interest int it ūüôā

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