Unable to re-install Windows 8

I decided to downgrade my computer from Windows 10 to Windows 8 today and was unable to re-install Windows 8 initially. Whenever I tried to install Windows 8, I kept running into the issue where I got the following error “We couldn’t create a new partition or locate an existing one.  For more information, see the Setup log files.” After banging my head for a while, I came across a number of articles including this one which I took the steps from.

  1. Remove all drives from the computer. This includes hard disks, usb disks and also any PCI-E disks you might have
  2. Reboot the PC with the Win 8 CD in and select repair
  3. Head over to the advanced tools option
  4. Once in the command prompt Type the following:
    DISKPART
    LIST DISK
    SELECT DISK <whatever disk number you have>
    CLEAN
    CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY
    ACTIVE
    FORMAT FS=NTFS QUICK
    ASSIGN LETTER=<whatever disk letter you want it to be>
  5. Repeat the steps above for all other Hard Disks present but don’t make any other disks active
  6. Reboot and start the installation again

I think I ran into this issue primarily because I also dual boot my machine between Ubuntu and Windows and Windows 8 doesn’t seem to like seeing a GRUB partition in existence.

This works with Windows 8

Google Apps – Can it beat out Microsoft in the Enterprise in the long term?

I recently read this post through my google feed titled Google Still Doesn’t Get How to Beat Microsoft Office a while ago and thought this would be a great segway to some observations I had about Google Apps. For some context, I’m an avid Google Apps user. I use it for my personal domains (i.e. for both my business as well as my private domains) as well as professionally in an enterprise setting. The feedback in general are mixed like most things – some people love it, some people are ambivalent about it and some people loathe it. No real surprises there. I’m in the camp of those who really like it. Although I have Microsoft Office installed on every device I have – I even pay for a TechNet license so that I can always have the latest and greatest software available – but I find myself using it less and less for most things. For the most part, my needs can be met by using the word processor, spreadsheet and, yes, even the presentation app that they have. They are no where as good as Microsoft Office but for me they do the job. Even more importantly for me, no one has yet to complain when I either share with them my document either in through Google Docs or through the attached documents.

I’m working for a relatively young company now – we’ve been existence for less than a couple of years but we’re striving to grow. While I’m a tech-head, I would say most of my colleagues aren’t but they aren’t afraid of tech either. I suspect that we’re the sort of company that Google is targeting for and it’s a smart play, in my opinion. I suspect that many new tech startups use Google Apps as their default enterprise collaboration software because it’s free and relatively painless to set up. You get a whole bunch of really powerful tools to go with it even if you didn’t intend to use it to start. There are better tools in market than any of the Google Apps products but nothing easier to set up and nothing that works more seamlessly together. This is actually very similar to the Microsoft Office strategy back in its heyday. In a lot of ways, it’s actually a smart play not to worry about backwards compatibility. In the market that Google seems to be addressing, it’s not high on the priority list. And it’s actually one of the things that have persistently hindered Microsoft from growing as quickly as it needed because it was constantly going back to ensure software was compatible to products that are sometimes more than a decade old. In technology, that’s at least 5 generations old – it’s like trying to ensure that we can support horse buggies today.

In short, Google isn’t playing to win in the short term. Google seems to be attacking Microsoft but not head-on. It’s betting on the future and I think it’s a smart bet. It seems to be doing tactically and strategically. It also shows that Google knows it target market and isn’t wasting it’s effort on features that aren’t nearly as relevant as other things in the pipeline for them. I’d love to actually see some stats on this to see if my hypothesis holds.

Windows Phone 7 – Should we care?

Microsoft release Windows Phone 7 (WP7) a couple of weeks ago with a lot of fanfare. I personally haven’t delved that much into it. I had once written that I didn’t think that WP7 will save Microsoft’s mobile strategy but much of what I wrote in that article is no longer true. I’ll start off by saying that I’ve always been a big fan of Windows Mobile. In my opinion, it was a far more flexible platform whose largest drawback was that it wasn’t exactly user friendly and the users punish Microsoft greatly for it by abandoning them when Apple came up with the iPhone. There are so many “innovations” that were released recently that have long been on Windows Mobile phones. Front facing camera was available on the HTC Tytn II in 2007. Skype for Windows Mobile has been available for Windows Mobile 2003 and because there were no constraints given by the provider, it’s been working over mobile networks since then. Evernote for Windows Mobile supports drawing while that feature is not supported by any other mobile platform. All in all, the strength of Windows Mobile was also it’s weakness. It is essentially a desktop platform ported over to a mobile platform with minimal changes.

So did Microsoft learn from it’s lesson over the past few years? I’ve never played with any Windows Phone 7 devices yet but from what I’ve read recently, it looks like they’ve had. For the sake of this entry, let’s assume that they have. The question is will it be enough for it to be a differentiator. Only time will really tell. However, I do have a few observations.

The general population is OS agnostic 

Outside of a small percentage of us that qualify as fanboys of sorts, very few people actually are even aware of the relevance that the OS has on a device. Most people are looking for a device that works to solve only a handful of requirements that they have. For some it’s an integrated PIM with a phone, for others it’s the integration of a music player and a phone, and for others it’s having productivity tools. As long as people can do what they need to do without many major changes to the way they do things, the OS for the most part doesn’t matter.To reinforce that idea, the Android platform has recently overtaken the iPhone in terms of popularity among new buyers.

I think what most people care about (if they care at all) is the availability of solutions which are represented in apps. While there are still more apps in the Apple App Store than there are in the Android Marketplace, the reality is that all of the major apps are being released to the Android Marketplace as well. From what I’ve read, development seems to be more straightforward than it’s traditionally been with WIndows Mobile in the past.

Microsoft is familiar with coming from behind

The one thing that Microsoft is familiar with is coming from behind. They came behind in the browser wars and they came behind in the PDA wars. While it’s true that they used their ability to influence some of these outcomes through their dominance of the desktop OS, they still shouldn’t be counted out. 

Learning from past mistakes

The one thing that seems to be true is that they seem to be learning from their mistakes. For one, they have created more hype about Windows Phone 7 which in the past has been relegated to manufacturers to tout it as part of a product release. They’ve made developing apps significantly simpler which should attract a larger development base and lastly, they are attempting to be more involved on how Windows Phone is implemented by the manufacturers (and hopefully providers). 

The end results should be more choice for the consumers. I am curious to see what the uptake of Windows Phone 7 would be like. In all honesty, I’m not sure if I’ll desperately try to switch to Windows Phone 7 anytime soon. For me personally, I’m yet to see how it’ll be better than Android.

Microsoft Courier – Potential Paper Notebook replacement

 

I’m really excited about the Microsoft Courier. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, I have reluctantly gone back to using my Asus R1F tablet and have indirectly given up on my Macbook Pro. Don’t get me wrong – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Macbook Pro or OSX. It’s still my desktop OS of choice. Everything just seems to work on the Mac.

Given then I’m no longer a developer, a lot of my work life is involved in meetings with the business team or the dev team to discuss new ideas, work out issues or discuss design. In meetings, I often find it a lot easier to use a notepad instead of typing on a computer to communicate or describe ideas. The tablet is both the happy medium and extension of these two solutions. It has the flexibility of a notepad and the ability to store and distribute digitally. The downside of my current tablet is that it is extremely heavy weighing at almost 7 lbs. The weight isn’t bad if all I’m doing is lugging it from home and to work. It’s a bit weighty to be lugging it around the office and sometimes across the street. The weight is not bad if you consider what it does but today, it is more powerful than what I need it to be today.

Here’s where I think Microsoft Courier comes in. From the demos on Gizmodo, the product looks more like a paper notebook or portfolio which I take to my meetings right now. It has two “pages” and the way it is designed to work is that one page is used for searching and research while the other is used to work on. The form factor is ideal and I love the idea of having both stylus and finger touch. The really interesting thing about the product is that most of the function that is being displayed here already exists within the Microsoft realm of products. The note writing, embedding of images, handwriting recognition, OCR and concept of pages is embeded in a combination of OneNote and Windows 7. If you’ve never tried, the tablet function in Windows 7 is phenomenal. The gesture support is already used in the Microsoft Surface products.

 

Courier User Interface from Gizmodo on Vimeo.

As there are still a number of things that are unknown about the product, there are also a number of things that I’d love to see incorporated into the device. Synchronization to a central service is key. Notebooks are really good to start ideas however at some point, most ideas need to be finished on a computer. Also for me I tend to work on multiple computers and other peripherals so inter-device accessibility is key. I’m not sure I would install a lot of different applications on the device but the additional applications that I would use on this device are instant messaging, email and multimedia player. Bluetooth integration would be a nice touch to connect to a wireless headset. While having the ability to do both multi-touch and stylus is really nice, I hope that the hardware is able to differentiate the two as when writing, my hand tends to touch the paper and could cause the device to go awry. The biggest unknown about the product is hardware. For me to be able to use it, it would need to weigh at 2 lbs or less. It also can’t be too big or too thin as this would be a device to supplement my MacBook, not replace it. Given that I’m usually moving around for meetings, it will need to last at least 4 hours and have the ability to change batteries.

 

At first glance, I’m not convinced that the Microsoft Courier is built to compete with existing PC Tablets. Think of the Microsoft Courier as what the iPhone is to the MacBooks. While the Courier is supposedly getting the full Windows 7 treatment, it’s use will be limited by its form factor. As for the Apple tablet, it looks like it’s going to be more of a multimedia device whereas the Courier looks to be more of a productivity device. All in all, I’m still very excited to get my hands on the product.

 

Asus R1F – A Second Life

Although I really love my Macbook, there are certain aspects of my Asus R1F tablet that I really miss. The biggest one, of course, is the ability to use the tablet function. While I type a lot of things, I actually write and draw just as much. The only difference is that most of it is done on paper and they never get transferred to anywhere else and often times I lose them too. While I have my handy dandy tgrmobile (HTC Fuze) with me close to 100% of my waking hours, there are a few shortcomings to it. The first is that it’s a phone. When I type information with it during meetings, the assumption is that I am texting someone or emailing someone. It does have Evernote on it but the reality is that it is too small to be truly useful to write lots of notes or jott down my ideas fully with it. So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about going back to the Asus R1F or purchasing an Asus T91 to solve this issue. There were quite a few things that frustrated me about the Asus R1F, most of them stemming from using Windows Vista. When it was announced that Windows 7 would be released, I decided to give it another go. Although my initial install of Windows 7 RC was quite disastrous, the RTM seems much more solid. Here are some of my notes about setting up the Asus R1F with Windows 7.

 
Tablet functionality
After installing Windows 7, one of the things that I quickly noticed about my install was that I didn’t seem to have the tablet functionality. That will be fixed after the Intel 965 drivers were updated
 
Screen Rotation
This took a little bit more research but after doing some reading the answer was to install the Vista ATK Hotkey Utility for the Asus R1E. Yes, that’s not a typo. For the most part, most R1E software and drivers should work with the R1F. This is one such case.
August 13th, 2009
Biometric security
I’ve been slowly starting to use the tablet more and more and I finally got around to looking into the biometric feature for the R1F. When you install Windows 7 the first time, it will download an updated biometric driver. I actually found that it wouldn’t work properly. After some digging and testing, I found that the best way of getting this to work was to install the drivers that are available on the Upek site followed by installing the Protector Suite software after. Both will require reboots. Once Protector Suite is installed, go through the steps to activate it. In my case, I had to the Biometric Device Centre to enable domain security for biometric.
I’ll continue to update this post as I come across more fixes for the install.

 

Google, the Microsoft of the World Wide Web

It has been really interesting watching Google manouver its way into being the next Microsoft of the web. I'm not sure if Google will run into monopolistic issues but I am certain that Google will be the dominant platform of the not so distant future. It's not hard to see if you simply look at Google's investments in terms of what it has purchased and built.

Until the emergence of Google Apps, Google seemed destined to be a search engine that generated a tonne of revenue from its advertisement capability. It had odd offerings here and there that seemed fragmented at the very least. As soon as it launched Google Apps, it was rather obvious that Google was building towards the business markets as well. Looking at Google Apps for the very first time, I couldn't help but think about how close the offering was to Microsoft Exchange; it offered organizations the ability to host email, share calendars and even offer instant messaging capability. With the additional capabilities of wiki, blogging and document sharing, you essentially have most of Sharepoint's capabilities. It's hard not to offer small clients to use Google Apps as it is easy to setup with minimal operational and maintenance cost.

Google reached further to the consumer with Android and Chrome. The reasoning behind it really is simple – it's about control. The hardest thing about developing any software is the inability to determine where it is going to run. One of the most challenging thing about developing for Zoocasa is that we have to cater to a large number of browsers. A lot of our code gets "dirty" to account for the way different browsers react to different pieces of the code. So Chrome makes sense. The strategy would be to develop functionality that would work best on Chrome before venturing out to other browsers. The other thing to note is that the browser is the new desktop. The browser is by far the most used application that I have as it is the window to how I manage my life. I still use Firefox as my primary browser, venturing into Chrome every once in a while.

Android is particularly interesting for me. The one thing that Apple did right was that they limited devices and the Apple App Store was simply brilliant. Google seems to be building the best of both worlds. There already is an Android App Store and by choosing HTC as their first manufacturer, you can be certain to find Android on traditionally Windows Mobile devices. Android will give Google the ability to reach a user in the most personal of spaces. Outside of my wife, my mobile device is my next closest confidante. I have it with me wherever I go. For instance, on this trip, I have my phone but have left my trusty Asus R1F at home. Given that Google has a whole battery of web services, Android makes a tonne of sense. Right away, Android would be a killer device if it integrates into all of Google's core apps like mail (including contacts), calendar (including tasks), reader, news, picasa and of course search.

FriendConnect is going to be interesting. The function that I see it to be most useful is to be an LDAP-like service. One of the most frustrating for corporate users is to have to have multiple login ids and passwords for multiple systems. The web is littered with many small applications that make our life simpler. If FriendConnect can simplify this, it would make life simpler for webizens every where.

What most people fear about and rightly so is handing so much personal and private info to an external entity. This will be Google's Achilles heel and something that they will have to maneouver and struggle with over time. But that being said, Google is going to be the platform to contend with in the WWW.

Sent from my HTC Touch Pro®