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Nerd Things by Brandon LeBlanc

My high school report on the future of Windows

Windows XP Professional

When I was a high school senior, I was in a special program called Students Recycling Used Technology (“StRUT”). We would take used PCs and repurpose them in our school in the labs and classrooms as well as get hands-on experience repairing and building PCs with various types of components. It was really fun! As part of the class — we had to do a technology report. And I recently discovered my report which was on the future of Windows. I got a kick out of the report so I thought I would share it out.

Yes, better emoji is coming to Windows 10

The Verge did a piece today that takes a closer look at Google’s new emoji coming to Android with the Android N update. The post pokes fun of Microsoft for lack of better emoji — specifically on the animals. But the article neglected to look at the new emoji coming to Windows 10 with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. These emoji made their debut for Windows Insiders in Build 14316 for PC and Build 14322 for Mobile. I thinks its only fair to compare one unreleased OS update with another — right? So I decided to help The Verge out and rounded up a bunch of the new cat emoji and the octopus emoji:

New Windows 10 Emoji

For a closer look at the new emoji coming with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update — check out this post over at Emojipedia!

Remembering Windows 95

20 years ago today — Windows 95 was released. Windows 95 was the most significant update to Windows ever made at the time — ushering in the transition from 16-bit architecture to 32-bit architecture and introducing a completely brand new graphical user interface designed to make Windows much more consumer friendly. I was only 12 years old at the time but well on my way to being the computer nerd I am today. I thought I’d share some of my favorite memories of Windows 95 in honor of its 20th anniversary.

There are two things about Windows 95 that were big deals at the time for me when Windows 95 was released: it’s new UI and the Internet.

First — a little bit of backstory. In the early 90’s, my dad brought home our family’s first PC: a HP Vectra 486U. It ran Windows 3.1.

HP Vectra 486U

It was with this PC that I fell in love with Windows. My dad’s job at the time dealt with a lot of computer stuff and I learned to do things on the PC by watching him do things. I had tons of fun. But Windows 3.1 wasn’t exactly intuitive or easy to use. And I quickly got bored with MS Paint. I wanted to do a lot more. You had Program Manager that would be your go-to spot for all your applications and then File Manager to manage your files, etc. But Windows could be so much more easier to use. As a kid — I wanted Windows to enable me to do more.

When Windows 95 came out, my dad and I upgraded our PC together. When I say “together” I really mean I watched him go through the setup experience. And when the upgrade was done and the PC booted into Windows, I can remember being blown away by the new UI. It had a Start button! What did the new Start button do? A taskbar! This was all new! No more Program Manager! So how do I get to all my programs? How do I manage my files? I was so excited to learn the new Windows. I dove right in. The Start menu for me was the single best thing about Windows 95.

The next best thing about Windows 95 was how it made connecting to the Internet and browsing the web much more easier. When Windows 95 came out, I had already been “surfing the web” and checking email. In Windows 3.1, I remember having to use a command line to dial-in and connect to the Internet. With Windows 95, you could do this simply by double-clicking on a connection icon you setup for your Internet service. It also came with a brand new web browser called Internet Explorer. However, my dad didn’t like IE at the time so we kept with Netscape as our default web browser. But even Netscape was better on Windows 95 (they released Version 2.0 after the release of Windows 95). I do remember moving away from Eudora and using the inbox e-mail client Windows Messaging for my e-mail (as a 12 year old and one of the very few kids to even have an e-mail address at the time, I didn’t get much e-mail though).

After Windows 95 was released, I got a huge kick witnessing friends and family all of a sudden in the market for PCs. The PC market exploded with Windows 95 because it made using PCs and connecting to the Internet really easy. And I quickly became the kid everyone wanted to help them learn how to use their PC and the Internet — and I loved it.

Windows 95 helped people DO more with their PCs and I think at its heart — that’s what Windows is all about. And it’s great that Windows 10 has gone back to this.

Microsoft: #notdeadyet

CNN ran a story last week calling Microsoft a “dying consumer brand”. No way. With products like Windows 7 that have been on the market for the last year and Windows Phone 7 and Kinect hitting the market soon — I of course have to disagree. But my opinion is pretty biased. Frank Shaw, however, has started up a new hashtag on Twitter called #notdeadyet with a series of tweets highlighting some pretty eye-opening numbers regarding Microsoft. Here are some of what’s been highlighted:

And of course in September we also released the new version of Windows Live Essentials which includes new versions of Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Mesh (previously Sync), and Family Safety. Download Windows Live Essentials 2011 here. Here are some interesting data tidbits about Windows Live my pal Dharmesh published in a blog post last week:

  • 300 million active Messenger users.
  • Mesh is syncing over 500 terabytes of data between PCs (wow!).
  • 360 million active Hotmail users.
  • Hotmail delivers 8 billion email messages daily.

Over the summer, we also released Office Web Apps where you can edit and create Microsoft Office documents, PowerPoint presentations, and spreadsheets online through Windows Live!

And in September we also launched the beta of Internet Explorer 9. As of this week, the IE9 Beta has been downloaded 10 million times making it the fastest adopted browser beta. If you haven’t already, you can download the IE9 Beta here.

I also highly recommend reading Frank Shaw’s blog post on the official Microsoft Blog from June called Microsoft by the numbers for further perspective.

Microsoft is not dead yet.