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Getting to Know Windows 8 and You

A few months ago, David Pogue, the personal technology columnist at The New York Times, penned his weekly column on how to choose a tablet.

The holiday gift-giving guide recommended the usual suspects: the various iterations of the Apple iPad, including its new sibling the iPad mini; a variety of Android-based tablets; and the latest Kindle Fire upgrade. But conspicuously absent was any mention of the recently released Surface RT from Microsoft and devices from other OEMs running Windows 8 and its Windows Store (aka Metro)-only Windows RT.

I was miffed by the omission because I knew Pogue was quite familiar with the most significant revamp of Windows ever. As author of a number of the O'Reilly Media guides on how to use Windows 7, (as well as Vista and XP), Mac OS X Lion and iPhone, Pogue's latest book is "Windows 8: The Missing Manual" (also from O'Reilly Media), officially released today.

Wondering what led to the Windows 8 exclusion, I asked Pogue if it ended up on the cutting room floor, or if perhaps he simply didn't consider the Surface RT -- with the new Windows 8 and Windows RT touch-enabled interface -- a legitimate tablet. I made clear my interest was in understanding his point of view on the matter, not to critique his column.

In his response, Pogue reiterated he'd spent a lot of time with Windows 8 and had already covered it weeks earlier -- ­and would have more to say in the future (and he did). I invited him to share his favorite Windows 8 tips with Redmond readers and his result is this month's cover story, "20 Windows 8 Tips."  While editing it, I tested his tips, and hope they're as useful to you as I found them. Be sure to share your own Windows 8 advice at or send your tips directly to me at

Quite a few Redmond readers have taken a wait-and-see stance regarding Windows 8. Many of you panned the preview version before its Oct. 26, 2012, release, while others have warmed up to it. Personally, the more time I've spent with it, the more I've come to like it. But in order for Windows 8 to succeed, the catalog in the Windows Store is going to need many more apps.

Just over four months after the OS release, Microsoft recently disclosed it has sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses. But PC shipments have declined. Microsoft is betting it can make up for that in sales of Windows tablets.

I encourage you to get to know Windows 8. And I'd like to get to know you better. This is my first Redmond View column as Redmond magazine's new editor (available in March's Redmond magazine), though I'm no stranger here, having covered IT and Microsoft since the early 1990s -- and spent the last six years with this publication and its sister titles.

But enough about me. A number of exciting things are in the pipeline for Redmond, including a refresh of and an extensive readership survey that will help us understand where you are and where you're headed. We look forward to publishing the results.

Technology has shifted rapidly over the past few decades, and now it's changing faster than ever. In the meantime, I want to hear from you. Drop me a line at


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/27/2013 at 1:15 PM

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Reader Comments:

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 mark justice hinton Albuquerque, NM

Good luck, Jeffrey. I look forward to an article on Windows 8 by a real enthusiast, not someone who explains how to undo the interface. peace, mjh

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 Dan Mile High, Mile Deep, everyone on the level

I don't like Windows 8! What is it? (To paraphrase my kids when faced with something new) I have resisted Win8 but one of my customers purchased one and I had to set it up on their network . . . . As with Win7 Pro, how do you get to Internet Exploder? At least there was a place to type in an URL (Ok, I admit I'm livin' in the past. The keyboard and mouse will be the next to become fossils.) I was thinking the "Bing App" might do it, but all I get is an orange screen. The "App Crap Page" doesn't do anything for me. If I were an app programmer, I'd sell a "Start Button" app. I must say that it appears that Win8 runs programs (I almost said applications by accident) faster than Win7 on a Vista vintage system.

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 IT Manager Central NY State

The death of the PC, if it really happens, will be as much due to hardware FUD as due to Microsoft's warped vision of the future. I have recently lost my custom PC vendor of 20+ years. They laid off 120 employees in Ohio, supposedly because PC's are dying. I need 50 PC's this year to replace expiring XP boxes, that's half of my network! But PC's are dying? I am infuriated every time that I see the new ad for the Microsoft Surface, You know, the one with all the young "business" people sitting around the big round table who then start dancing and prancing, break dancing and end up tossing all of their papers into the air? It's supposed to portray how business can convert to tablets from PC's - HUH? The closest thing in the commercial to anything approaching work is a doodled circle around a colored bar graph, using the miraculous stylus unclipped from the edge of the Surface. The whole thing is horse hockey! Tablets have their place, smartphones have their place, laptops have their place AND PC's have their place too. I will agree that there is overlap with adjacent devices in the progression from big to small and also some specific situations where an app on a tablet or a smartphone can take the place of a PC. That still does not make them all equivalent. My users need PC's to get real, productive work done. D**n those who insist on the myth that PC's are dying and put me in the position of having to try to find a vendor who still builds PC's. (In case you haven't noticed, HP & Dell have drunk the Kool-Aid too. They are even less responsive than before.) Grrrrrrrrr.

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 Russell

If PC vendors want to increase their sales, just make Windows 7 an optional boot, or put the Start button back in Windows 8. A lot of people don't want Windows 8 and so are not buying new PCs. Upgrading old PCs from XP to Windows 7 is a pretty good improvement in itself.

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 Dan Iowa

PC shipments have declined? Maybe, maybe not. Somebody will first need to define what a PC is and what a Tablet is. Let's face it. The industry is confused about what device is what, and the numbers are usually meaningless on an industry-wide scale, which probably explains why you simply said PC sales are down instead of giving an actual number and disclosing what you define as a PC. Of course this isn't new. For years Apple had some small percentage of the PC market, but only for those who considered a Mac a PC. For the rest, Microsoft was unable to every break into the Apple dominated market of Macs, or it just plain didn't matter. We are in a similar situation now. People like to draw conclusions about tablets replacing PCs, while secretly getting their numbers from only the Desktop sector, or some other subset of the PC market. And show me one article that actually gives real numbers for the number of tablets owned by people who don't own PCs (desktop or laptop) vs the number of tablets owned by people who own both vs the number of PC owners that don't have tablets. You'll also need to disclose the number of people who bought keyboards for their tablets essentially turning them back into PCs I guess. Until you come up with those numbers, this is all a bunch of fluff with no useful information. When you've done that, let me know, and I'll complain that your PC numbers actually included laptops with flipable touch screens essentially making them tablets, and the same with the portable all-in-ones that are essentially heavy tablets. Ultimately, the real issue is the PC is simply evolving the way we always knew it would, and the death of the PC will happen when people no longer have anything to say to each other besides LOL, so go ahead... try typing that on your touch screen. ;-)

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