Category: Systèmes d’exploitation

Microsoft Paint–here to stay but available down another path

Articles

Windows Paint – here to stay but will be available through Windows Store

Microsoft Paint isn’t dead yet, will live in the Windows Store for free | The Verge

Classic MS Paint is coming to the Windows Store, for FREE! | Windows Central

From the horse’s mouth

Microsoft

Windows Experience Blog

My Comments

Recently the computer press has been awash with articles that Microsoft was killing the Paint app that always came with Windows since 1.0 . But they are keeping it available for Windows users to continue working with by allowing them to download it for free from the Windows Store.

The Paint app was simply a basic bitmap-driven graphics editor that allowed users to get used to using a mouse for creating computer graphics. It was based on ZSoft’s PC Paintbrush which was the PC’s answer to the various baseline graphics editors that came with every mouse-driven graphical user interface since 1984 when that kind of computing came on board with the Apple Macintosh.

This app ended up being the answer for any basic computer-graphics work at home or in the office, whether it be children creating computer drawings through to designers creating rough prototypical images of what they are designing in the office. I have infact used Paint as part of creating screenshots for this Website by editing the various screenshots whether to redact private information or to call out particular menu options that I am talking about in the accompanying article. This was thanks to an easier learning curve that this software implemented from Day 1.

A common fear that I would have expressed in relation to the press coverage about Microsoft abandoning or paying less attention to Paint and other bundled or cost-effective graphics tools (remember PhotoDraw?) is that they could end up stripping down their application-software portfolio of titles seen to be less valuable. Then they would just focus their efforts on the popular premium business software like the “Office” essentials such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

At least those of you who buy a computer with Windows 10 Fall (Autumn) Creators Update in situ don’t have to miss that basic Paint app because it’s not delivered “out of the box”. Rather they can raid the Windows Store and find this app.

But could this be the path for evergreen software that was always distributed for free as a standalone package or with operating systems like graphics or sound editors by the major operating-system vendors?

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Microsoft dropping features from Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Article

Acer Switch Alpha 12 2-in-1 with keyboard press image courtesy of Acer

There is the risk of over-promising and under-delivering when there is a short time between major operating system updates

Where do we stand with features for the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update? | Supersite Windows

My Comments

An increasing trend for regular-computer and mobile operating systems is for them to be updated on a regular basis along the model of “software-as-a-service”.

With this model, the companies behind these operating systems will typically license the operating system with new hardware, but not require the user to pay to acquire newly-developed functionality. It is in conjunction with making sure that all bugs and security exploits are removed from the system.

A problem that has been found with this method of delivery is that it can be easy to over-promise and under-deliver as what Microsoft commonly does. This has shown up more so with the Fall Creator’s Update of Windows 10 where Microsoft removed Windows Timeline and Cloud-Powered Clipboard, two highly-promised features, from the feature list for that update.

What is underscored here is the frequency of major updates that add significant amounts of functionality to an operating system, along with calling out the promised improvements for these updates. Apple and Google implement a yearly cycle when it comes to delivering major operating-system updates that are about adding extra features while Microsoft undertakes this on a six-monthly basis.

The advantage of the long lead-time that Apple and Google run with is that they can deliver on their promises by writing in the code and subjecting it to a long debug and optimisation cycle including delivering it in publicly-available beta-test packages. This is conversant with Microsoft calling out features for a major functionality update and having to have all of them work to expectation by the time the update is considered “feature complete”.

But how can Microsoft and others who implement the short lead times for major functionality updates avoid the issue of over-promising? Here they could announce that some features are being destined for the upcoming functionality update while others are being destined for the subsequent update.

Similarly, they could deliver the functionality in an “out-of-band” form such as free-to-install apps provided through the platform’s app store, a practice Google is undertaking with the Android platform. In the case of functionality dependent on a particular peripheral class, it may be delivered as part of the onboarding process that the operating system performs when that peripheral is connected for the first time.

Personally, I would like to see some effort put towards fine-tuning the peripheral and network interface software code to encourage more “driver-free” peripheral connectivity that occurs in a secure stable manner to the latest specifications for that device class.

What is being highlighted here is the risk of over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to delivering major functionality updates for an operating system.

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Controlled folder access to come to Windows 10 soon

Articles 

Windows 10 preview build protects your files from ransomware | Engadget

Windows 10 will hide your important files from ransomware soon | The Verge

Microsoft previews new ransomware protection feature | Bit-Tech

From the horse’s mouth

Microsoft

Windows Experience blog post

My Comments

If you have heard the news over the last few month, you will have heard about ransomware activity in the form of the WannaCry and Petya ransomware variants getting at major installations including the NHS and the Victorian traffic-camera infrastructure.

But Microsoft has attacked this problem in a different way by providing application-level control for the next major update for Windows 10 – the Fall Creator’s Update. It is part of refining the Windows Defender security software that is part of the operating system for improved business-tier data security.

It is a very similar process to what Android and iOS do in relation to allowing the user to control what apps have access to what resources and features on their smartphone or tablet. It is also in contrast to how regular-computer operating systems work when it comes to controlling the level of access granted to a computer’s file system, where users or groups of users are typically granted particular levels of access to folders or files.

Here, once you enable the Controlled Folder Access function, applications can’t add, modify or delete files in folders where this control exists unless the app is part of a user-defined whitelist.  The routine for adding an app to the whitelist will be very similar to what you do on your iPhone or Android phone when it comes to allowing that app you newly downloaded to have access to a particular resource on your smartphone and could occur during installation or when you first use that app after enabling Controlled Folders.

By default, this feature would be enabled for the Documents, Desktop, Pictures and Videos folder trees but you can enable this feature for other folders such as “ad-hoc” work folders created on the system disk or other fixed storage on your system. I am not sure is this is also to apply to removable storage like USB hard disks, USB memory keys or SD cards, or whether this can also apply to network and online storage like your NAS shares or your Dropbox folder.

A question that can also be raised is whether the Controlled Folder feature will also provide a way to limit access to other system resources by apps. Here, it could range from access to network and Internet resources to prevent spyware from “phoning home” or to limit access to your computer’s Webcam and microphone to limit use of these resources as a surveillance tool.

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Android Auto now for every car independent of the head unit

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Android main interactive lock screen

Your Android phone could become its own driver-friendly interaction screen for Android Auto

Google

Android Auto Available In Every Car (Blog Post)

My Comments

Android Auto provides a driving-friendly “extension” for your Android-based smartphone on your car’s dashboard. This yields a simplified user interface for audio, navigation, communications and allied apps so you can use them at the wheel.

Increasingly most of the vehicle builders are offering Android Auto compatible infotainment setups for most of the models with a few car-audio manufacturers running with aftermarket head units that have this functionality. But not everyone can benefit from this technology at the moment, perhaps due to a vehicle builder like Toyota not providing support or you maintaining an existing car that doesn’t have this functionality.

Google has answered this problem with version 2 of Android Auto which has the ability to use your Android phone’s screen as an Audroid Auto user interface. This is being rolled out during the current major update cycle for the Android Auto app.

Cassette adaptor in use with a smartphone

An Android phone running Android Auto 2.0 can bring this cassette-adaptor-based setup for classic car stereos to current expectations

Here, you would install your phone on an in-vehicle mounting kit such as the kind that uses a suction cup to anchor to your vehicle’s windscreen. This will allow for your phone to be operated in a stable and road-legal manner while you are driving.

But you can have the sound come through your car’s speakers via a hands-free kit or car stereo that has Bluetooth communications-level or multimedia-level audio compatibility. Or you can use a 3.5mm auxiliary cable or cassette adaptor connected to your smartphone to have its sound through your car stereo. For those of us who have the Bluetooth-based setup, you can set the app to start automatically when your phone connects to the Bluetooth in-car audio device.

This update is infact taking advantage of the Android phablets and smartphones that have the larger display, making it viable for us to use them as a control surface for Android Auto setups. As well, some accessory builders are even taking advantage of this ability by offering Bluetooth-capable mounting kits that provide automatic enablement for Android Auto setups.

I also can see this benefiting the “two-wheeled” community once appropriate mounting kits become available for installation on to bikes and motorcycles. Here, they could use a Bluetooth headset or helmet and benefit from the reduced-interaction abilities that Android Auto offers so their hands are effectively on the handlebars and their eyes on the road all the time.

A good question to raise would be whether Android 2.0 could support a dual-device setup where an Android tablet could serve as a Android Auto display/control device, which could please those of us who want to integrate a 7”-8” tablet to bring Android Auto to our vehicles. Similarly, implementing Android Auto over a MirrorLink setup could open up paths for increased compatibility with infotainment setups.

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Windows 10 Start Menu–not your father’s old station wagon

Windows 10 Start Menu

Start Menu in Windows 10 – the pop-up look from Windows 7 with the tiles from Windows 8

Windows 7 and its predecessors had a traditional pop-up start menu with an option to see all the programs or the frequently-used programs on your computer. This was presented in a list rather than a cluster of icons or tiles.

But Windows 8 headed down a totally different path with a dashboard-style layout hat has all of the programs or a user-defined set of programs represented as tiles. This had thrown many computer users off the operating system and caused some unnecessary worry.

The Start Menu

Windows 10 brought back the pop-up Start Menu that looks like a combination of the traditional Start menu and Windows 8’s tile-based look. This includes the famed “Live Tiles” that are always updated with new content thus working like a dashboard.

In the early days of your experience with Windows 10, you can mess around getting that tile-based Start Menu area looking how you want. If you run Windows 10 on a touchscreen laptop or a computer with a touchscreen monitor, this menu style can work just as well for you.

Getting it right!

You can organise your tiles in to groups by dragging them in to the space between two groups to create a group or dragging them in to a group to have them part of that group. This can be done in both the traditional pop-up view and the Tablet Mode view mentioned later on at the end.

Then you can name each group by right-clicking or “dwelling” your finger on the group name then typing in the name you want to give it.

Browsing for that program

Windows 10 Start Menu - All Apps highlighted

Looking for that program – click All Apps on the Start Menu

This will be a situation for those of you who have held out with Windows 7 or its predecessors, where you will be wanting to know where all of your programs have gone even though they aren’t on the Start Menu or Taskbar.

Browsing for that particular program? Click on “All Apps” to see a list of all programs on your computer. Then, click on any of the letters to bring up a list of alphabetical letters. Subsequently, you just need to click on the first letter of the program’s title to be sent straight to a list of the programs beginning with that letter.

You then have two options to have your program readily accessible. One is to “pin” your program to the Taskbar so it is always accessible and this setup may remind you of the station-preset buttons on your car radio. On the other hand, you could “pin” your program to the Start Menu where it will appear as a tile which you shift around until it is in the right place for you.

Tablet Mode

Windows 10 Tablet Mode

How Windows 10 looks when you use Tablet Mode

The Tablet Mode gives you a view that is not dissimilar to how you have operated your Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 computer. It is automatically selected if you detach a keyboard from your detachable-style “2-in-1” tablet or fold over a convertible notebook so the screen becomes a tablet. But you can manually select this mode on any Windows 10 computer.

Windows 10 Notification Menu buttons wiht Tablet Mode highlighted

How to select Tablet Mode manually

As I have said just before, this doesn’t just those of you who work with tablet computers or 2-in-1 devices. You can use it with a laptop or desktop computer and it doesn’t need a touchscreen to benefit from this function. Rather you would use your mouse or trackpad to navigate around the screen and a scroll-enabled mouse earns its keep by allowing you to scroll downwards. In the Notification Menu, you have a button labelled Tablet Mode which you can use to toggle between this mod and the regular Desktop Mode.

I would recommending having your screen in the Tablet mode if you are trying to sort out the Start Menu groups after an upgrade because you can use the whole of your screen’s real estate to do this.

Search Bar

There is an always-visible Search Bar on the Taskbar which you can fill in your search requests for local or Web-hosted resources. This works with Cortana which is the personal digital assistant in the same vein as Siri or Google Now.

Here, ordering a search is as simple as clicking or tapping on the search area and typing in what you are after.

Conclusion

Anyone who has worked with any of Windows’ incarnations will find the Windows 10 Start Menu as something that doesn’t daunt you but allows you to get more out of the operating system.

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Windows 10 to benefit from the FIDO authentication standards

Article

Microsoft to support Fido biometrics | NFC World

From the horse’s mouth

Microsoft

Windows For Your Business blog post

FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance

Press Release

My Comments

Microsoft is to enable Windows 10, which is the next version of Windows, to work with the FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance standards for its authentication and authorisation needs.

But what is this about? FIDO is about providing a level playing field where authentication and authorisation technologies like biometrics, electronic keys and the like can work with applications and sites that support these technologies.

The goal with FIDO is to remove the need for drivers, client-side software and certificate-authority setups for 2-factor authentication or password-free authentication. As well, one hardware or software key can be used across compatible services and applications without user parameters being shared between them.

There are two standards that have been defined by FIDO Alliance. One is UAF which supports password-free login using biometrics like fingerprints; USB dongles; MiFare NFC cards; Bluetooth-linked smartphones and the like as the key to your account. The other is U2F which allows these kinds of keys to serve as a “second factor” for a two-factor authentication setup.

But what could this mean? With a UAF setup, I could set things up so I could log in to Facebook using my fingerprint if the computer is equipped with a fingerprint reader but not have to worry about using a password vault that plays nicely with that fingerprint reader. With a U2F setup, I could make sure that I have a tight two-factor login setup for my Website’s management account or my bank account but use a preferred method like a USB key or a smartcard reader that reads my EMV-compliant bank card.

The current implementation tends to ride on client-side software like browser plugins to provide the bridge between a FIDO-enabled site and a FIDO U2F-compliant key and this can impair the user experience you have during the login. It is because of you having to make sure that the client-side software is running properly and you use a particular browser with it before you can interact with the secure site. There is also the risk that the software may be written poorly thus being more demanding on processor and memory resources as well as providing an inconsistent user interface.

Microsoft will bake these authentication standards in to Windows 10 for the login experience and authentication with application-based and Web-based services. This will cut down on the client-side software weight needed to enhance your Internet security and allows those who develop the authentication methods to focus on innovating with them, just as Microsoft has done with other functionality that it has baked in to the various Windows versions. It will apply to Azure-based cloud-hosted Active Directory services and on-premises Active Directory services for business users; along with the Microsoft Account which is used for home and small business users with Windows 8 login and Outlook.com (Hotmail).

The question yet to raise with FIDO UAF and U2F functionality is whether this will be provided for application-based “client-to-server” authentication for situations like word-processors being used to upload blog posts or native clients for online services like Dropbox and Evernote. Similarly, would this technology allow a device to serve as a temporary or conditional authentication factor such as a smart lock that has just been used with your electronic key; or allow a card like a SIM card already installed in our smartphone or a MiFARE-compliant transit pass to serve as an electronic key for our Webmail.

Personally, I find that Windows implementing FIDO Alliance standards will allow us to make more use of various authentication technologies on our home or business computers.

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Preferring highest-throughput on your dual-band Wi-Fi setup

Article

Specify 2.4 or 5 GHz WiFi bands on Surface Pro 3 | Barb’s Connected World (blog)

My Comments

A problem that Barb Bowman had highlighted in her blog was that the Surface Pro 3 was preferring to connect to her Wi-Fi home network on the 2.4GHz band rather than the 5GHz (802.11ac) band that it was capable of. This may be a problem with a lot of dual-band 802.11n/ac devices.

Here, she had ran the same SSID and security parameters for both the bands on her network and the Surface preferred the 2.4GHz band. To work around this, Barb had used the Device Manager to force her Surface Pro 3 to stay on the 5GHz 802.11ac band. With this 2-in-1’s network adaptor, there was an “Advanced” option to lock on 2.4GHz or 5Ghz or simply switch between the bands. The problem would become worse when she took the Surface on the road because of having to head to the Device Manager to set these parameters.

Another way to work around this is to run separate SSIDs for each band, having the 2.4GHz and 5Ghz networks work as separate segments. Here, the network could be set up as MY-NETWORK for the 2.4GHz band and MY-NETWORK-54 for the 5GHz band. Most simultaneous-dual-band access points and routers allow you to set this up and your can prefer to connect to a particular band using your device’s network-selection function. If you wanted to allow automatic switching, you then just set both SSIDs up on your device for automatic connection.

On the other hand, it could be feasible for operating systems to have support for “preferred” bands or operating modes for wireless networks in a similar way to how you can determine in Windows whether a network is a public, home or workplace network and adjust its sharing behaviour according. This kind of manual override could allow a device to prefer the 5GHz band for better performance but fall to the 2.4GHz band if this band works better. 

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Why do I describe non-Apple operating systems and hardware as being open-frame?

Sony VAIO Fit 13a convertible Ultrabook at Rydges Hotel Melbourne

Windows 8 – open-frame as can be

I make references to computer systems or mobile devices based on platforms like Windows, Linux or Android as being “open-frame”.

This is compared to Apple’s computer systems and mobile devices which are focused around hardware and software interfaces are peculiar to that manufacturer’s devices. As well, it takes a long time for Apple to integrate a common hardware or software standard in to a platform although other platforms are already implementing the standard; or an accessory or peripheral vendor has to go through hoops to have a device considered “fit” to work with Apple’s products.

Android - also open-frame

Android – also open-frame

Computer systems that are based on an “open-frame” environment has the ability for one to connect peripheral devices easily to it no matter who the hardware or software vendor is. An example of this includes smartphones and tablets implementing a microUSB Type-AB socket for charging or transferring data.

Open-frame computer systems can attach themselves to a network or quickly discover and benefit from or share network resources using commonly-available standards that aren’t particular to one particular vendor. As well, the companies behind the platforms are quick to meld support for most. if not all. of these common standards and specifications in to the next major version of their software platforms and will nurture these standards through their platform’s lifecycle.

Naim UnitiServe - provides music va UPnP AV / DLNA to equipment independent of vendor

Naim UnitiServe – provides music va UPnP AV / DLNA to equipment independent of vendor

There are many examples here that I could mention.

One example is a Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer or an Android smartphone can quickly associate with a WPS-capable Wi-Fi wireless network segment at the click of a button on the wireless router as what happened when I stayed with some friends up in Sydney and when I stayed with another friend up in Ballarat. In both instances, I brought in my Samsung Android smartphone and a Windows-based review-sample laptop  to these locations and brought them on to the hosts’ networks to benefit from their Internet access.

DLNA collections listed as sources on the TV

DLNA content collections listed as sources on a Samsung Smart TV

Another example is to have the ability to discover multimedia content held on a network-attached storage device or media-server software using UPnP AV / DLNA standards which many manufacturers and software developers offer. I have seen this demonstrated many times with setups based around different manufacturers and software developers and, one time, this provided a simple on-ramp for a couple to show travel pictures to the mother-in-law.

Sony SBH-52 Bluetooth headphone adaptor NFC tie clip

Touch your NFC-capable phone on the clip to pair it with the headphone adaptor

Yet another example is my Sony SBH-52 Bluetooth headphone adaptor that quickly pairs with my Samsung Android phone when I touched them together in a same vein as a Braven Bluetooth wireless speaker that I reviewed. In some cases, this even applies to the ability for Android users to exchange contact details with each other or Windows 7/8 computers via Bluetooth or NFC.

How I see the personal-computing scene for both regular (desktop) and mobile applications is that there will be balkanisation taking place between Apple and the rest of the field and this has been underscored in the computer press as simply “the cult of Apple”.

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Setting up a “his-and-hers” computing environment

Sony VAIO Fit 15e on dining table

A large laptop that is commonly used in a “his-and-hers” computing environment

A common situation that I face when providing IT support for couples, families and similar households is providing a level of individual operation for each user who uses shared computer equipment. A typical situation is a couple who have desktop, laptop or tablet computers that they share with each other or a family who maintains the “family” computer that is used also by the children.

On the other hand, you may make sure each of you have your own computing devices that are set up with your own operating environments. This is more so with tablets or other ultra-portable computer equipment where you want to effectively “take it with you”.

But there is a goal where each person may want to “keep their space their space”. That is to have their preferred operating environment with their preferred user-interface customisations (wallpaper, button styling, etc), preferred email client, preferred Web bookmarks and other parameters maintained while they operate the equipment. As well, they may want to keep their communications with their social community private or prevent confusion with your communications. This is even though both or all of you will have the same relatives and friends that you maintain regular contact with.

Most of you may operate on a trust-based environment where you will want to know the passwords to each other’s accounts simply as a symbol of “our love for each other has nothing to hide”. This may not be applicable for those of you who are running or working in a business where confidentiality concerning business data is so important.

How do computer operating environments handle this?

Regular computers

Create multiple Microsoft.com accounts on your Windows 8 computer to achieve a unique user experience across all of your Windows 8 computers

Create multiple Microsoft.com accounts on your Windows 8 computer to achieve a unique user experience across all of your Windows 8 computers

Most “regular-computer” operating environments such as Windows, MacOS X and Linux allow multiple individual accounts to be created. These accounts support their own username and password and allow the computer to open up to a desktop environment that is personalised for each of the users. You even have concepts like separate user folders, desktop wallpapers and themes, or, in some cases, email clients that are peculiar to each user.

This functionality has been baked in to the “regular-computer” operating environment due to the fact that these machines are used by different employees in the workplace or are used to work with data that is confidential to a particular user.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro convertible notebook at Phamish St Kilda

Copy your Windows 8 user experience to that secondary convertible Ultrabook

Windows 8 and newer versions of the Windows operating system even takes this further by allowing you to create a Microsoft.com login account that you can take between different computers. Here, this allows you to use the same user credentials which will lead you to your same user environment on the different computers. For example, you could share use of different computer types such as a 15” mainstream laptop or an all-in-one desktop that lives at home and an Ultrabook or detachable tablet that you use while travelling or maintain as an “around the house” computer for example.

Last but not least Google implemented multiple-account operation on the ChromeOS platform which then adds most of the cheap Chromebooks to the list of devices that can support “his and hers” computing. This is through a blind update (version 37.0.2062.119) that should be in your Chromebook by 6 September 2014.

Mobile computing devices (tablets)

The tablet, typically the 10” tablet like the Apple iPad, is very much the only device that runs any mobile operating environment which ends up being shared by a couple or family.

Recent iterations of Android installed on tablets can support this kind of operation. This has been introduced to support “privileged operation environments” in the workplace. The same also holds true for tablets that are powered with the Windows 8 operating system.

The only tablet device that doesn’t support a true “his-and-hers” environment is the Apple iPad. This is bound to one Apple ID account, which affects use of the iTunes Store, the App Store and other Apple-provided apps and services. The passcode on these devices doesn’t even provide separate or unique login environments on these devices.

Email, Social Networks and Instant Messaging

Windows Live Mail client-based email interface

Windows Live Mail – an example of a client-based email interface

If these services are operated via a Web-based user interface, they can support “his-and-hers” operation as long as each user logs out of their account at the end of each session. This is more critical if both of you use the same provider.

Some client-side environments like email clients may allow you to have different sets of account credentials tied to particular system user accounts. But some other clients like a few mobile-platform or entry-level desktop clients or most social-network clients won’t allow you to keep service login parameters peculiar to a system user account. Here, you may have to log out of your account at the end of each session. As well, some client-side email programs may maintain only one address book or contact list that is available to all users.

Log out properly of Facebook by clicking "Log Out" in Settings

Log out properly of Facebook by clicking “Log Out” in Settings

On the other hand, you may be able to preserve separate email or social-network accounts by using a separate client-side program for each login. This may limit your ability to use application-driven functionality like “share this via email”. On the other hand, you could always have a practice of each user logging in to the client with their credentials for the duration of their session.

Cloud-based online storage

Most “cloud-based” online storage services like Dropbox can support different logins for each user and you can tie these different logins to a particular device-based login for most regular-computing platforms like Windows. But you can’t have two different service logins associated with one computer login unless you use premium or “business” variants of their services.

But you can create a “household” folder in these services which is shared by all of you, simply by having one account-holder create a folder and invite the other account-holders to have full access rights to that folder. The only limitation with this is that if a friend or relative outside the household wants to share resources with all of the household, they have to invite each Dropbox account to the folder they want to share.

App Stores and gaming league tables

Some operating environments like the Apple MacOS and iOS environments implement a “family-share” option for software bought through their app stores so that you can share the same content that you have purchased across multiple accounts. These features place a limit on the number of accounts you can share with, typically a number you can count on one hand.

Otherwise each user has to purchase their own content through the storefronts and only be able to use it themselves.

Operating environments that have their own gaming-league or similar functionality will typically bind your identity in that league to your user ID that is part of that operating environment.

NAS units

WD MyCloud EX2 dual-disk NAS

NAS units like the WD MyCloud EX2 can work well in a “his-and-hers” computing environment

You can create individual storage accounts on your network-attached storage to allow each member of your household to store their data on their own space in the network-attached-storage unit. Here, you also use the “public” spaces on the NAS to store and share data that is of common interest but doesn’t have a perceived disclosure risk like your file-based AV collection or, if the data is confidential to you both, you could create a private share that you grant the other accounts access to.

The multiple account feature would tie in well with the remote-access or “cloud” features that an increasing number of NAS units like the WD MyCloud EX2 are equipped with. This will maintain the “private data pools” and allow the remote access to these resources.

Some of you may want to use two or three different NAS units connected to the network so you can keep individual units as personal data stores, which may be of importance if each of you run your own enterprise or you want to set up a NAS for the teenager or young adult about to leave the “family nest”.

What can you do to achieve “his-and-hers” computing

Some of you may decide to have a one or more smaller devices that you personally use, like iPads or work-home computers but you may then have to identify devices that you want to operate on a shared basis like larger tablets, laptops or desktops. Here, you can set these up with separate accounts so you can have a unique operation experience for each of you.

If you have equipment that runs Windows 8 or newer variants of that operating system, you could then set up personal Microsoft.com accounts for each of you and use these to log in to your equipment, personalising the operating environment as you see fit. As well, if you are using programs that don’t “switch users” as you change accounts or can’t “switch users” with a program, get in to the habit of logging out when you have finished.

When managing your contacts, you may have to copy your “common” contacts between each others’ contact lists on your email and other messaging clients and keep these up-to-date as each contact changes their details.

Conclusion

Once you know how to set up a “his-and-hers” computing environment, you can be sure that you have the ability to share devices yet know how to keep your working environments “as you like it”.

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Windows 8–How about apps that exploit both the Desktop and Modern UI?

After upgrading to Windows 8 on my main computer and utilising Windows 8 on review-sample laptop computers, I had a good chance to use the classic Desktop user interface along with the newer Modern user interface for a lot of computing needs.

Windows 8 Modern UI start screen

Windows 8 Modern UI has some benefits for some tasks

What I had found was that each of the “views” appealed to different tasks and working conditions. For example, I could use the Desktop View for applications that required detailed work and were more mouse / keyboard focused. This is although I had used the touchscreen with this interface for coarse navigation tasks like selecting functions on a toolbar or hyperlinks on a Webpage.

The Modern view, previously known as the Metro view, came in handy when I wanted a simpler user experience for the task like viewing a PDF or photograph. Even using Skype or Facebook with the Modern View gave that “dashboard” look which has everything at a glance, This worked well with the mouse on my main computer and with touchscreen setups on suitably-equipped laptops but was a bit of a pain when using just the trackpad on laptops that didn’t come with a touchscreen.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 has integrated Modern UI apps and Desktop apps into the Desktop user interface by allowing users to pin the Modern UI apps to the Desktop UI’s taskbar. This is augmented with the Modern UI apps also having a control strip that can be brought up to minimise or close these apps.

The current problem

Application with Desktop user interface

Skype with uncluttered Modern user interface

Skype with uncluttered Modern user interface

The current problem with the way applications are written for Windows 8 is that two different programs need to be delivered by different channels if you want to perform the same function on both interfaces. Firstly, I would have to install one application through the traditional paths for a regular computer i.e. install it from a CD or other removeable medium or download it from the developer’s site and install that download file. Then, if I want to have the “full” Modern user experience, I would have to visit the Windows Store to download a separate app that exploits that interface.

How could we improve on this?

One direction that Microsoft could offer for this is to allow developers to deliver a Desktop and Modern UI package as part of a single Windows 8.1 application install package. Here, the user just installs this one package as one action and finds both a Desktop-view application and Modern-view application for the same task on their machine.

This could come in the form of separate apps for each of the user experiences or a monolith app that presents in one way for the simplified Modern user interface and another way for the detailed Desktop user interface. This could also cater for a “live tile” option to show always-updating data. The user then has the choice of seeing a simplified user interface that works well with the touchscreen or mouse-based operation or a detailed user interface.

There also has to be the ability to be assured of data continuity between both the Desktop view and the Modern view, which is important for a lot of tasks. Some tasks like VoIP or working on a document can play a difficult hand if you switch between views whereas other “read-only” tasks which relate to a common data source can play properly with a user-interface switch.

The only problem about this ideal is having the ability for a user to determine the view they want to run because it is possible for a Desktop-view app launched from the (Modern-view) Start Screen. Similarly, from Windows 8.1 Update 1, it is possible to put a Modern-view Windows Store app on the Taskbar and launch it from there.

Conclusion

If Microsoft could provide a single-install single-update experience for those of us who run Windows 8 and newer operating systems, this could encourage software developers to work the Modern UI as a clean “dashboard” user experience while the regular Desktop view serves as a “detailed” user experience for those of us who want more control.

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