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Windows 8 early review

November 4, 2012 1 comment

It’s been quite a while since I last posted anything on this blog. Reason? Well, quite simply because of lack of time. But since I now have used and tried out Windows 8 in difference scenarios I thought it might be a good idea to share some of my thoughts and experiences.

This review is based on the use of a Dell Inspiron Duo hybrid laptop/tablet, a XBox 360 with the latest updates, Windows 8 Enterprise edition and a network consisting of 802.11n WIFI, Gbit cabled backbone and a 20/10 Mbit internet connection.

DISCLAIMER
This review is based on my own experience so far and might contain comments, statements or recommendations which may be inaccurate. This is my personal review and does not represent the views of my employer or any other entity. Any decision made based on the content of this post is completely on the readers own risk.

Windows 8 in general

At first the Windows 8 user interface, often referred to as Metro, scared me a bit. Where’s the blooming start menu? Oh, it’s the entire screen filled with tiles! Anyway, it took me a while to get used to it, but when I think of it now it’s actually quite amazing. It’s easy to navigate regardless of type of pointing device (finger, mouse or keyboard). The key is to know the shortcuts and the how to complete different tasks. Swiping the fingers from different sides and corners on the touch display and the different keyboard shortcuts make all the difference. Learn them and you will find the new user interface to be quite nice.

My one big issue with the new UI is that it’s too user friendly. If you need to get under the hood of your computer or installed apps you will most likely run into some difficulties. But do you really need to get under the hood? In most cases you probably don’t, but if you do you will put your hacker skills to a test. I expect it won’t take long before there’s a lot of tools available for tweaking, tuning and customizing Windows 8 and different apps.

APP SUPPORT
The app support for Windows 8 is still underdeveloped and is expected to be the key success factor for Windows 8 compared to Apple and Google. One thing which has annoyed me for several years is the limitations in cross language app support. Since I’m living in Norway I’m automatically excluded from US apps. Why? I’m interested in lots of international services and content but for some strange reason I’m not supposed to use them.

I know there’s about 9000 apps in Microsofts store but I can only choose from about 50 apps in the app store on my device. To get a hold of US and international apps I have to hack my computer so that the online services don’t believe I’m in Norway.

YOU SHOULD BE ONLINE
Many features within Windows 8 requires the user to be online with Microsoft and other service providers. You have the ability to store information locally, but the best use is when you are online. Since most people have the ability to stay online more or less all the time, this shouldn’t be a big issue unless you travel abroad. It’s still very expensive to roam on mobile networks and it something you probably won’t do.

My recommendation is to think online when you consider Windows 8 devices.

MEDIA SUPPORT
The Windows 8 media control is very nice but some key features are still missing. Even if it’s possible to add UPnP media  services as a device in Windows, it’s not possible to add media content from these devices into media libraries in Windows. You will have to have an indexed local copy the media files to be able to add it into the media libraries. If this is how it’s supposed to be, what’s the point of having a SAN with media server capabilities? I thought central storage with streaming capabilities was a good idea, but maybe not? This said, it is possible to playback from UPnP devices but you will have to browse files each time you use it and it’s not possible to add UPnP content into playlists.

Windows 8 for enterprise business use

Windows 8 is very integrated with online public cloud services. For most companies this is a security risk and there are several issues with integrating personal and professional information. The use of Windows 8 in a corporate environment will probably introduce new and complex security risks which might give the CISO and IT quite a headache. Unless the enterprise has established own private or hybrid cloud services, the use of Windows 8 will not provide increased business value, and I expect it to take quite some time before the enterprise is completely cloud based.

The good thing is the ability to provide sandboxed solutions. This will reduce the users ability to move information from the personal space to the professional space and vice versa. However, this will reduce the users experience and the ability to work with information transparently. But it might be worth it until cloud services are secure enough and the enterprise is mode cloud based than today.

XBox360 and Windows 8

One of the things I was looking forward to was the Windows XBox integration. The ability to control the media experience transparently between the XBox and the Windows 8 tablet is something I’ve longed for. Unfortunately this was a bit too mature. The thoughts and ideas behind seems to be very good but the implementation has some issues.

First of all is the pricing. In most cases you need to have an XBox Live Gold subscription to be able to use any features. In addition you are required to subscribe to different services such as audio and video streaming services. So far you are more or less bound to Microsofts own online services or at least Microsoft partner services. All in all it’s very expensive compared to other online streaming services and you’re not able to choose which services to use. Is Microsoft adopting the Apple business model I hate so much? I hope not.

The other major issue I have is the stability and media support embedded into the OS and the XBox. Streaming over the air (similar to Apples AirPlay) lags and in some cases, typically when playing HD quality video, it’s not possible to view. Several media formats is not supported and even the industry standard h.264 MP4 video format is not supported by the XBox. But it is support by Windows 8.

Besides this it’s close to a dream come true. To use the tablet as the XBox remote and view Windows media content on the XBox is very nice, and I expect the integration support will increase over time.

The hybrid laptop/tablet

As I said in the intro I use a Dell Inspiron duo for this review, and there’s not much to say really. The device is too heavy, has too short battery life, is missing two-face camera etc. the flexibility of having both a multi-touch screen and a keyboard is very nice, but I expect the future devices such as Microsofts Surface Pro will kill devices like this one. At least I am looking forward to the new series of Windows based devices.

Summary

To summarize I think Windows 8 and the “new age” of computers is very exciting but there’s still a long way to go. It’s especially important that the areas of consumerization vs the enterprise and cloud services is resolved.

Office365 Beta Review

Office365, which is the cloud based Office portfolio provided by Microsoft Online, has been available in beta and I’ve been using it for some time now. Since I’ve used Office Live Small Business” for several years I’m very familiar with the concept and was looking forward to the promising new release. The following post covers the major aspects of using the service and some technical issues and comments.

Summary

All in all I expected a much more complete service with better user experience, better customization possibilities, more standardized tools and better integration with other services and client installed rich applications. Even the “Public web site” publishing feature is more or less the same as it was in Office Live and does not use the SharePoint rendering engine.

Yes, it’s good value for money, but so is both Google applications and Windows Live and these services are free. OK, Google apps and Windows Live may not for enterprise use, but it gives an idea of what to expect from a commercial cloud based service.

This being said, I think the ideas behind is great and I’m certain this will become an important part of future use of technology. It’s maybe a bit too early?

The basics

Office365 is basically an upgrade to the previous “Office Live” with new releases of SharePoint, Office, Lync and Exchange. However, there is several new features which might be of special interest to professional users.

The service consists of an Exchange based e-mail service, a Lync based IM and presence service and a SharePoint 2010 site collection where the top level site is available to the public as a corporate official web site. Since Office365 is a subscription service it’s also possible to subscribe to a license for a locally installed Office Professional.

The service is divided into two major target clients: Small business or professionals and the Enterprise customer. The two editions are more or less based on the same technical architecture, but the Enterprise edition may be integrated with local Active Directory and is lot more customizable. Since SMB is the most likely target for early adoption, my focus on reviewing the service is based on the SMB edition. Enterprise customers may customize a lot more and may work around any issues.

Identity and Access Management (IAM)

The SMB edition seems to be using a SQL database for managing users and is not connected to the Live ID service. The authentication is forms based and seems to be using Claims based authentication towards the online service providers. When it comes to easy user management this is a good idea, but when it comes to authentication you may run into lots of trouble.

Lets say you want to access your secured SharePoint data from another web service or application, the service or application will have to support Claims based authentication as Windows Integrated and Kerberos will not work. My experience is that most applications expect other authentication methods and will not work. Even the blog feature of Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Live Writer does not work with the Office365 service.

Availability

Microsoft claims a 99,9 % uptime guarantee for the service, which is a nice guarantee. However, this is only a technical guarantee and other types of availability should be considered.

The SharePoint sites may be used offline with Office SharePoint Workspace 2010. Only a few content types are not supported and the synchronization seems to be working flawlessly. With the use of Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), any mobile device with the support for EAS may be used to synchronize mailbox content including contacts, calendar and e-mail. Outlook 2010 may also be used with RPC over HTTPS to get the rich Outlook experience in cached mode and the ability to transparently work in Outlook regardless of connectivity.

When it comes to web availability the support is a lot less than expected. With the use of Internet Explorer on a Windows based computer, the user experience is quite good, but if you try to use other web browsers on different types of devices, the service is more or less useless. Even simple rendering of the “public web site” is entirely messed up in Safari on an iPad. I would have expected that standard web rendering of content would work on any device and any browser. In addition, the mobile based rendering of content is not very good and should not be used unless you do some serious customization, preferably with an Office365 Enterprise license.

Since the service is still in beta, bugs and errors are more or less expected. However, I think the general stability of the service should have been better at this stage. Lots of features does not work as expected and none or strange errors are returned to the user. In some cases I’m actually not sure if the feature is supposed to be available at all.

User experience

In general the user experience is more or less the same as if you would install the different components on your own local infrastructure. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but users with little or no experience with SharePoint 2010 may find it very hard to use the service. A simple task of saving a locally created Word document to the team site’s document library will require the user to know the address of the document library – at least the first time. Even Live SkyDrive has resolved this by adding a “Save online” option in Office applications.

For the administrator it’s fairly easy to create and manage basic services as long as you don’t require any customization. If you want to customize the public web site or the SharePoint team sites, at minimum you will have to use SharePoint Designer and have experience with customizing SharePoint.

My guess is that the user experience needs a facelift and will require customization for effective use of the service. Since this isn’t the easiest task, I expect that there will be a nice portion of consultancy possibilities which I expect will not be entirely free of charge…

Features

The service is based on Office Professional, Exchange Server 2010, SharePoint Server 2010 and Lync Server 2010, and most of the features available in the back-end servers are available to the user. However, many of the SharePoint features are not available, at least not with the SMB license. Especially Enterprise features (such as Excel services, data connectors and mysite/personal site) and publishing features are excluded from the Office365 service.

In some cases, especially within SharePoint, it seems like the feature is available but when you try to use or enable it, nothing happens. This might be a beta issue and will hopefully be resolved before the service goes live.

If you have custom solutions or would like to use open source solutions within your SharePoint site collection, you will have to reconsider. It’s not possible to add custom solutions, but if you have web parts which doesn’t require special server-side components, you may upload the web parts on a page or into a library. With the sandboxed solution feature in SharePoint 2010 I’d hoped it would be possible to upload new features through custom solutions.

Licensing and Pricing

Microsoft has based the service on a very scalable licensing plan which enables the ability to only pay for actual usage. The SMB/Professional license starts at $2 per user per month and the full online license without the locally installed Office license is only $6 per user per month.

This makes the service very affordable and even the Enterprise licensing is very good compared to the cost of internal IT managed services. The cost of storage, antivirus and backup is probably higher per user than the Enterprise license. Any other cost, including labor and investments, is pure cost savings.

Productivity in the cloud

Office365 is a cloud based productivity service where all data is stored on Microsoft’s production servers. This is something to keep in mind when you start using cloud based services. Basically, Microsoft and it’s employees has a possibility to access all data stored on their servers. When you store documents, e-mails and other company internal content, you must be aware of this and be confident that Microsoft does not exceed their responsibility as a service provider.

Make sure you read the agreements and privacy policy statements before you go ahead with cloud based productivity services such as Office365!

Cloud security

As you might expect, Microsoft has not revolutionized the security concept of Cloud based services. However, they have enabled the possibility to use corporate internal Active Directories as an authentication source for the enterprise license (I think through Federation Trusts). This will increase the corporate control over data and access to it. But you still have to trust Microsoft and all employees with the ability to gain administrative rights and access to data.

Summary of notes

The following bullets is a summary of notes taken during the test and continuous usage of the service. Statements and comments have not been verified as correct and is only my personal experience and best guesses.

  • The setup and use of the service is not very user friendly and is most likely to cause problems for non experienced users.
  • The first registered user becomes the ever lasting admin of the site and services and should not be a person but a role. This is not communicated when creating the site and it’s not possible to change this user/role at a later stage. The admin will also take up one licensed user.
  • The Lync gateway does not seem to be installed. Therefore it’s not possible to add users in the Lync client from other IM services such as Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger or Apple Talk.
  • Offline synchronization with SharePoint Workspace and any EAS-enabled device seems to be working just fine.
  • The support for non-Microsoft web browsers and operating systems is very limited. The use of the services on devices like iPad and Galaxy tab is more or less impossible.
  • The client-side applications must be installed for a fully featured rich client experience. This include Office 2010 Professional, Lync 2010 and some custom additions for all applications and Internet Explorer. The web edition of Office is most likely to be used as a viewer and not an editor.
  • There are several publishing features which is not available. The publishing tools and rendering engine is based on the old office online service and does not use SharePoint features.
  • Even if SharePoint Designer is supported for customization of the SharePoint sites and the “public web site”, there are lots of limitations with the customization of the web site.
  • It’s not possible to use Live Writer with the SharePoint blogs. Probably because of the authentication algorithm in use. Not even the blog features of Word 2010 works with the SharePoint Blog Sites!
  • It seems like it’s not possible to add custom solutions to the SharePoint site collection and the online gallery is more or less empty.

iPad/iPhone apps review

I’ve been using iPad and iPhone fore some time now and would like to share some of my experience with different apps. The apps reviewed may not be the best app for it’s use but it’s the best alternative I’ve found out there, and I use more apps than I’ve listed in this post.

Social Apps

Since I use Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live and LinkedIn to keep in contact with professionals as well as personal friends, I needed apps to use this service in a more streamlined fashion than the web. I tried out several apps for this purpose, some bundle-apps and some only for one of the services, but ended up using the following apps.

Other apps I’ve tried and chosen not to use include IM+, Twitter, owalla, MyPad and WordPress. I’m still trying to find a useful blog tool which supports rich-text formatting for viewing and editing.

But, why is the support for Microsoft’s online services so f#%"&! bad? I use both Live Messanger, Live SkyDrive, Live Hotmail and Live Office but these services are not supported by most apps. This goes for WordPress (and other blog services) as well. Why – I wonder!

Twitterific (Twitter)
It’s a simple app which does the work and I think it’s quite easy to use. It’s stable and fairly fast. Compared to other Twitter apps I think this one is the best becase of the features and the ease of use. It’s an alternative front-end for Twitter – nothing more and nothing less.

The app is available for both iPhone and iPad and is free to use!

Friendly (Facebook)
Since Facebook hasn’t made their own iPad app, I had to choose from different alternatives. I didn’t really like any of them, but Friendly seems to be the best of the bad. The app is quite slow and somewhat unstable. Lots of features are missing and in many cases you’re bounced of the actual web site inside the app.

The app is only available for iPad but it’s free to use with adds. An add-free version is available for purchase for about 1$.

Skype for iPhone
This app is made by Skype for use with Skype and does the job as expected. It has lots of features which may be a bit confusing. I don’t use the app a lot, but in some cases it’s very nice to be able to make a long distance phone or video call with the use of Internet as the carrier absolutely free.

The app is free and only for iPhone.

HootSuite (Social Bundle)
HootSuite supports both Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and is the only bundle I think is worth giving a thought. It’s fairly easy to use and quite fast.

The app is available for iPad and iPhone and is free.

FlipBoard (Social Bundle)
This is primarily a tool for reading, but it’s great for that purpuse. RSS-feeds, Facebook and Twitter are formatted as a newspaper, which makes it very user friendly and ease to read. The app is fairly fast and very easy to use. However, it is somewhat unstable which is quite annoying when you read a story.

The app is only available for iPad and is free!

Productivity and business tools

SharePlus
This is a great app. The purpose of the app is to be a front-end to SharePoint with both online and syncronized offline access. An integrated viewer will display close to any format document and if you have other apps installed for editing, you may use these to edit documents in a library. Since it syncronizes content from SharePoint sites (not only documents, but list contents as well) it may be used as a base of document storage and document transport. For me this is a far better file management tool than iFiles, DropBox and similar services.

The app is for both iPad and iPhone and there is a free edition with some limitations. The Pro edition is add free and includes the syncronization feature. The Pro edition costs about 15$.

Remote Desktop – RDP
Most remote desktop apps require an online account at the service provider who made the app. This was one of the few RDP clients I found which could be used regardless of service provider. It’s a clean RDP client to use with Windows 7. For commercial use with Windows Terminal Server I suggest a more robust RDP business client.

The app is made for both iPhone and iPad and costs about 7$.

Citrix Receiver
Citrix Receiver is an terminal client to use with Citrix servers. It’s more or less straight forward to use and is fairly stable.

The app is only available for iPad but is free.

Utilities

AppBox Pro
The AppBox is a must for iPhone. It’s a collection of tools you just can’t live without and even if it’s not written for iPad, it’s quite useful on that device too. The collection of tools include a secure e-wallet, alarm clock with music play, currency converter, flashlight, ruler, translator, unit converter, battery life, system status and much more.

The app is only made for iPhone but works fine on iPad as well. The Lite edition is free and the Pro edition costs about 3$.

Calculator (HD)
There are tons of calculator apps for both iPad and iPhone and they are more or less good apps. I’ve tried about a handfull and ended up with the "Calculator for iPad Free" made by the International Travel Weather Calculator Association.

The app is only for iPad and is free!

SPB Wallet
SPB Software has been in the mobile apps industry since the early beginning. Their initial focus was on Windows-based devices but because of the hype for Apple devices they now deliver several apps for iPhone. Since I’ve used SPB Wallet as my e-wallet for quite some time it felt like the right choice. I don’t think it’s the best tool for iPhones, but I didn’t want to convert all the content I had in my exsisting wallets. It’s possible to syncronize wallets between devices with either a G-mail account (unstable) or with Apple’s Bonjour.

The app is only for iPhone but works fine on iPad as well. However, it costs about 10$.

Penultimate
This is most likely the best handwriting app for iPad. Personally I find it hard to use my finger as a writing tool and would really like to be able to use a stylus or similar pointing device. However, that doesn’t work very well. Besides that the app is great. It’s stable and quick (which is a must for this kind of app!) and very easy to use.

The app is only for iPad and costs about 2$.

DropBox
Actually I don’t like DropBox, but if you need a file syncronization service and don’t mind that all your data is lost in the cloud, this is the most popular tool. You will need a DropBox account to use the app, even if it’s possible to access any WebDAV service. Personally I prefer SharePlus to syncronize files to my iPad and iPhone, but this requires the use of SharePoint at the back-end. I also use Live SkyDrive, but has yet been able to find an app I can use to syncronize files.

The app is free and available for both iPhone and iPad.

Games and entertainment

Media Player
The iPad is the best media player device but for some strange reason there is no good media player apps out there. The popular VLC player and VLC streamer works fine if you have a networked computer with the helper app. If you want to view a movie on the plane, just forget it. I also tried the "Movie Player" (priced at 3$), but it has some lagging and syncronization issues. It’s not too stable and not too fast, but otherwise the app is quite good. Now I’m trying out the "Buzz player" which supports both local files, network files and streams via AirPlay.

All the players may be used with both iPad and iPhone. None of them are free, but the price range is only 2-6$.

World Series of Poker Hold’em
There’s a lot of poker games available for iPhone and iPad. Personally I’ve found most poker apps to be boring and not realistic. The UIs is often slugish and not very user friendly. However, the World Series of Poker Hold’em is great. I’ve used it on Windows Mobile before and was happy to see it on iPhone. The graphic’s great and it’s fast to use even if the loading is slow.

The app is made for iPhone and iPad and the pro edition costs only 1$!

Mummys Treasure
This is a fun puzzle type game with about 20 hours of game time. It has very nice graphics and makes your brain work together with a touch of frustration.

The app is only for iPad and costs only 1$.

Last Temple
This is also a kind of puzzle game with nice graphics. It’s stable and quite fast and has lots of game time. I’d suggest about 40-50 hours of great puzzle fun. Some levels and special quests are quite hard, so if you want the "Gold level" you will have to make an effort.

The app is only for iPad and priced at 1$.

LUDO board game
If you ever want to be social with you iPad, this is the thing. The board game Ludo is an ancient board game for 2, 3 og 4 players. This app is a great implementation of the game and may be played on a single device.

The app is only for iPad and it’s free!

Other/miscellaneous

PayPal
PayPal has made an iPhone app to administer your personal PayPal account. It’s not a great app, but if you use PayPal it’s a must.

The app is made for iPhone but may be used on iPad. The app is free.

SharePoint Install & Config

There are lots of things to do to install and configure a SharePoint 2010 farm in a production environment. Even if it’s possible to use wizards for most operations, it’s often required to have a better control of what’s going on and in most cases tweak some of the options used during installation and configuration.

Because of this I’ve put together a list of steps to complete based on the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Deployment Guide and personal experience. Each step is linked to the deployment guide or other resource with detailed information on completing each steps.

Read more

Additional core information about SharePoint Server 2010 may be found at the following locations:

HTC 7 Trophy Test Drive

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been using the Windows Phone 7 based HTC Trophy for some time now and would like to share my experiences and recommendations. This post describes my experience with the device and the OS from a professional point of view and are only my personal views.

The basics

Windows Phone 7 is a brand new operating system and should not be compared to previous versions of Windows Mobile. However, in most cases the users have used Windows Mobile devices before and it’s logical to compare the old OS with the new. This is not too easy since the new OS is completely different from any previous version.

The user experience is brand new and the need for additional shells such as HTC’s shell for Windows Mobile 6.5 is no longer needed. It’s very user friendly but the ability to reach beneath the UI is no longer possible. Access to the file structure and the ability to tweak the device is more or less not possible. Not even with the synchronization software.

The business usage

Phone 7 has a new release of Office Mobile with support for SharePoint sites and SharePoint Desktop (only SharePoint 2010). This enables the use of real collaboration features and seems quite easy to use. However, this requires access to the corporate SharePoint servers which in most cases is not possible over the Internet, at least not without a VPN connection. Even if the idea is great I think it’s more or less useless since my phone cannot connect to the corporate backbone where the SharePoint servers are located.

The OneNote Mobile is quite nice. It’s easy to take notes and some basic formatting features is also available. But since the only way to synchronize documents is to use SharePoint 2010 or local PC connection, it no easy way to export notes to your computer.

All in all I don’t think the phone is as good a business tool as the previous Windows Mobile releases.

The social usage

As a social device it’s more or less like any other new smart phone. Facebook and Windows Live are integrated and there are applications available for Twitter and similar social networks. But it’s nothing new. With Windows Mobile 6.5 you had all the same features and functionality and the only new thing is how the information is presented to the user. Anyway, the iPhone beats the hell out of Phone 7 when it comes to social computing.

Synchronization and PC connection

Microsoft has based the synchronization and PC connectivity on the Zune application framework. The Microsoft Mobile Device software is no longer required, but you’ll have to install the Zune application on your PC. This is more in the same direction as Apple has done with the Apple store. The Zune network is the distribution point for all software and media to the phone, but it’s possible to synchronize media files from your laptop with the PC application.

A very nice feature is the ability to synchronize to and from Live SkyDrive, but as far as I’ve been able to see it’s not possible to synchronize documents, text messages and other non-media content. This is quite bad since Microsoft has removed the support for the “MyPhone” service. The phone may also be connected to the MyDevices feature of Live, and it’s possible to lock, wipe and locate the device from Live Devices.

Security

I’ve not been able to test the security completely, but Microsoft states that security has been a focus area. So far it seems like they’ve managed to make it secure. When connecting to Exchange ActiveSync all security policies are applied and there is no obvious way to bypass global security settings. How easy it is to hack the phone I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure a good hacker will be able to get around the security features.

Device encryption, backup software and antivirus is not included with the OS or the device, which I find somewhat disappointing. One of the great features of Windows Mobile 6 was the ability to use market standard device encryption, antivirus applications and backup software. I expect that these issues will be resolved when third party vendors have completed and released their applications for Phone 7.

I don’t think Microsoft’s management tool for mobile devices (System Center Mobile Device Manager) has support for Phone 7 yet, but I expect it to be a question of time before they do. Until then, you will have to manage your device by yourself. The ting is that non-technical users seldom do and data loss is very likely to happen.

Stability

The phone is fairly stable, but in some cases the phone stops responding for a few seconds. Sometimes it’s enough to just wait it out, but in some cases I have to turn on and off the lock screen. I’ve had similar problems with HTC HD2, which is a Windows Mobile 6.5 based device. Therefore this might be a device issue and not an OS issue.

Besides that, I find the phone very stable and since it’s much faster than Windows Mobile the user experience is a lot better!

The device

Since I’ve used the HD2 for some time I can’t help but comparing the two devices. One of the issues I had with the HD2 was the sensitivity of the touch display. It seems like HTC have fixed this and the Trophy has a very nice feel to the touch display. It’s sensitive but not too sensitive and the responsiveness is very good. The dual-touch is very nice as well, but it requires that the applications you use supports dual-touch. The only embedded applications which support this are Office and Internet Explorer.

The phone is a bit smaller than HD2, which I find very nice. The HD2 was a bit too big and in some cases it was hard to use with only one hand. Since the Trophy is just a bit smaller it’s a lot easier to use with one hand. My thumb reaches the entire display without shifting the hand grip.

The device has a 5 mega pixel camera with the capability of recording 720 HD video. It has a built in flash and should be able to take good pictures. In my opinion this is not the case. I think the pictures is blurry even after retouching and optimization.

The embedded speakers are poor, but if you connect a high quality headset (not the ones that are included with the phone) or speaker system the sound is great. One fascinating thing is the placement of the embedded speakers. It’s located on the back of the phone which means that if you put the device on a table with the back side facing down, the sound and volume is radically reduced. I almost overslept since I didn’t hear the alarm when it went of.

The battery capacity is quite good. I may use the device, even with Wi-Fi and HSPDA enabled, for about three to four days without having to recharge it. With the standard micro USB interface it’s possible to use any charger and standard USB cables to both charge the phone and connect it to a computer.

Issues by experience

Besides what’s mentioned above, I have some issues which I would like to emphasis. These are, from my point of view, critical issues and has to be resolved if I’m going to use and recommend Windows Phone 7.

  • Microsoft’s synchronization service “MyPhone” is not supported on Windows Phone 7. Microsoft has not developed a Phone 7 based similar service. I think the MyPhone service was great and I was very disappointed when I found that the Phone 7 doesn’t support the service.
  • Unfortunately there is no backward compatibility with Windows Mobile based applications, which in my case is not that good. I have a selection of 5-6 purchased applications I use a lot, and too find out I can’t use them any more was horrifying.
  • The pre-installed applications were too few. Basic tools as a note taker and Messenger client are not included, and since the Phone 7 marketplace so far only is available in 5 countries it’s not possible to download and install applications. Even if I live in Norway, I primarily use English software but this doesn’t matter since it’s the GSM carrier identification which defines my region.
  • The auto-complete feature in the address book and phone dialing in Windows Mobile has been removed. This feature is one of the best features with Windows Mobile, but for some mysterious reason Microsoft has removed this marvelous feature.
  • The support for online media is poor. In many cases it’s not possible to play streaming audio and video, and the only message I get from the phone is “Unsupported format”.

Summary

I’m missing a lot of features which I’ve been using for several years on Windows Mobile. Since the OS is quite new I will have some patience but not for too long. When it comes to commercial and professional phones I believe that Windows Mobile was far ahead compared to competitors. For me Phone 7 is a step back and the focus on personal services such as Facebook is far to high.

As a smart phone without professional or business needs Phone 7 very good, but I believe that both iPhone and the next generation Android phones are just as good. Microsoft had a lead in the commercial and professional market, but with Phone 7 this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Hopefully third party vendors will put Windows based phones back on the top as a professional phone.

Pads and Tabs

November 18, 2010 4 comments

The new market hype seems to be tabs and tabs, or tablets if you like. But for some mysterious reason it seems to me like the different devices are evaluated based on complete different perspectives and in most cases the wrong ones.

Because of this I want to tell you my story and what I concluded on.

Requirements

First of all lets take a look at what I need and how I would like to use my device. In general I want a business tool which is easier to use and take along compared to the traditional laptop, which means support for features and functionality like:

  • I want to have an intelligent synchronized copy of documents I need to take with me. Manual copy is not an option.
  • I want to comment on documents I read or review directly in the document in a reasonably easy fashion.
  • I want to connect to my corporate network to interact and collaborate with people I work with and use web based application and services in an adequate secure fashion.
  • I want to surf the web and use intelligent and advanced features such as Silverlight, Flash and Java based applications.
  • I want to take notes when I’m in a meeting or get one of my fantastic ideas, but I don’t need to be able to write huge documents and reports.
  • I want to use e-mail and IM from my corporate network in an easy and efficient manor. Maybe even communicate with my personal contacts through public IM and social services.
  • I want a small and handy device which is quick and responsive and has enough power to last an entire workday without recharging.
  • I want to be able to use my device as a media player and be able to watch streaming video from my partners, TV and corporate internal streams.
  • I want my device to be online 24×7 without much interaction from me. Support for wireless LAN and high speed mobile internet access is a minimum requirement.

Research & Review

Based on the requirements I’ve done lots of research and tried out different devices. In general it seems like all the major vendors are focused on creating the most hip device and not the most useful device. I’ve checked out Apples iPad, the Samsung Galaxy tab (which use Android as OS), Amazon’s e-book reader and HPs brand new tablet PC running Windows 7.

The Amazon Kindle is more or less a pure e-book reader and is very good at that, but you can’t use it for anything else. Therefore it excluded it self. The next generation Kindle will be based on Android and have more or less the same features as any other Android based device.

The iPad and Android based devices are neat, but don’t have the business features I would expect from a device like this. None of them are very good as an input device. Apple states that hand writing recognition is something they will never support, and a stylus will never be included with the iPad. Android will on the other hand support hand writing in the next major release of the OS, but they can’t or won’t say when the next release will be available. Since Microsoft have had this since the first Windows tablet edition, they are miles ahead compared to the other two.

As a media device and surf-board all devices are fairly good. There are some limitation, but most web based applications work fine. Well, except for Silverlight apps, which only Windows 7 supports. Since the Windows based tablets are the only “fully qualified” PCs, it’s possible to install any browser, add-on or application you want to use.

Synchronization is yet another feature only Windows based devices support. With both iPads and Android based devices you will have to manually copy content, either from an offline media or from the corporate or open network. Since Apple has decided not to support standard I/O interfaces such as USB and different Flash memory cards, it may be quite complicated to add content to the iPad. However, Apple states that the iPad 2.0 will support standard interfaces.

Centralized management of things like apps deployment, antivirus, security, backup, inventory and so forth is probably something your IT staff and security officer will require if you want to use your device with business content and as a business tool. The ability to remote wipe the device in case you loose it is probably an absolute requirement for a business with some security restrictions. Apple will support some kind of centralized management in their next major release but Android has not stated anything with regards to future support for centralized management. Since a Windows based tablet PC is just like any other Windows based computer, it’s possible to use any mobile device management software to administer and control the device.

Conclusion

All in all, the only device which is even close to meet my requirements is a Windows 7 based tablet PC. Yes, it’s slower, heavier and doesn’t have the best battery capacity, but I can use it as the tool I need. I can even leave my laptop at my desk when I go to meetings.

If you are looking for a “surf-board” kind of device and only want to surf the web and READ documents, choose the iPad or an Android based device. But if you’re looking for a useful tool and not just a hipped up gadget, you have to choose a Windows based device. At least for now.

Until “the rest of the world” realize the importance of synchronized content, integrated services and centralized management it seems to me like Microsoft don’t have any actual competition, at least not in the business market.

God kommunikasjon – Egentlig

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Det er ikke til å legge skjul på at mange av de moderne konfliktene oppstår på bakgrunn av manglende eller dårlig kommunikasjon. Dette resulterer ofte i misforståelser og spekulasjoner som på sin side skaper konflikter som ikke er relevante og som kunne vært unngått. Min erfaring tilsier at god kommunikasjon er vesentlig, men hva innebærer egentlig dette?

For min del dreier god kommunikasjon seg om noen grunnleggende prinsipper som verken er nytenkende eller revolusjonerende, men allikevel nødvendig å fokusere på.

Vær konsis

Jeg opplever ofte at personer er for vage i sitt budskap. I stedet for å si direkte hva de mener og ønsker, pakkes budskapet inn i velformulerte setninger der budskapet blir borte. Det er dermed opp til mottakeren av budskapet å forsøke å tolke hva som egentlig menes.

Mitt råd er dermed; Vær kortfattet og konkret, unngå åpenbare misforståelser og vær bevisst på og lojal til ditt eget budskap.

Vær direkte

Dessverre er det langt lettere å snakke om en person enn til en person. Man vil ikke si hva man egentlig mener til den eller de det gjelder i frykt for en konfrontasjon. Men, så lenge mennesker snakker sammen så sprer dette seg og et rykte har startet. Rykter blir imidlertid omformulert og tilpasset for hver person som forteller det videre, og når det kommer frem til den det gjelder er det lite substans igjen.

Mitt råd er dermed; Kommuniser med den det gjelder på en måte som mottakeren forstår.

Vær ærlig

Et gammelt uttrykk sier at: “Du kan ikke mene hva du sier om du ikke sier hva du mener”. Min erfaring er dessverre at det moderne mennesket ofte er konfliktsky og ønsker å tilpasse den egentlige sannheten. Ved å unnlate å fortelle alt eller ved å pakke inn upopulære uttalelser på en måte som gjør det uforståelig for mottakeren har man jo ikke løyet, men etter min mening har man heller ikke vært ærlig.

Mitt råd er dermed; Fortell hele sannheten, vær klar og tydelig og behold din personlige (og profesjonelle) integritet.

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