Microsoft competing in tablets and smartphones

This week's Tech Yourself column which was contributed by Rob Orchiston


Microsoft Windows 8.1 will debut on Friday, October 18th. As a windows user for 20 years, I found the sudden absence of the Start button in Windows 8 strangely reminiscent of my ratty security blanket “disappearing” when I was 2 years old.

Microsoft does listen to consumers, and are bringing back the Start button in Windows 8.1, which is of course a free upgrade if you already have Windows 8. You can upgrade to 8.1 for $120 if you have an older version of Windows, but check the hardware requirements.

Microsoft is banking on its huge weight and market penetration to play catch up with Apple and Google in the hugely successful tablet market, and is shipping the Surface 2 tablet also in late October.

The new devices are thinner, lighter and faster than their predecessors, pack a better battery life and start at $449. After writing off $900 million in unsold inventory of the original Surface tablets, Microsoft is having a fire sale on the original surface tablets.

In a move that mimicked Google’s purchase of Motorola for $12.5 billion, Microsoft recently snapped up Finland’s Nokia for a cool $7.2 billion, indicating Microsoft’s serious desire to play catch-up with Apple and Google in the smartphone market as well.

Fall must be the best time to plant a new operating system (OS) as Google too, is also releasing it’s Android 4.4, also known as “Kit-Kat”.

In a novel marketing partnership with Nestle (and Hershey in the U.S.), in which no money changed hands, the chocolate manufacturer will sprinkle tokens redeemable for new Android “Kit-Kat” devices throughout its Kit-Kat chocolate bar inventory in packages marketed with the Google Android logo. Hopefully Charlie finds a lucky token and perhaps gets to meet Mr. Wonka or at least Google’s founders Sergey Brin or Larry Page.

Google has also begun manufacturing smartphones in Texas in a reshoring move, although only producing 15,000 units per day. With well over a million Android activations worldwide each day, the Texas MotoX units are only a fraction of the Android devices being manufactured in Asia. Google’s total Android activations recently surpassed the one billion mark — not bad for a little search engine company that is only 15 years old.

As Newton discovered in 1666, Apples also begin self-seeding in the fall. A couple of new Apples fell into stores in late September –  the Apple 5c and 5s (with a biometric unlock feature). One of my

colleagues has been tasting iOS7 for several months and likes the better responsiveness and improved battery time due to some CPU savings.

In earlier versions of iOS, rendering all those fancy Apple icons’ shadows was chewing up a lot of CPU power. To achieve longer battery life, the new operating system has really flat boring icons reminiscent of the 1980s. But at least now you can stay in the 1980s 3-D timewarp for a couple more hours before your battery dies.

In my next column, we’ll be looking at which new game consoles Santa will be delivering this holiday season.



Rob Orchiston is a software programmer who lives in Invermere and stays on top of the latest trends in technology.


Just Posted

The end of an Echo
The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

Princeton wildfire phots courtesy of Debbie Lyon.
UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers
VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

Aerial view south of Williams Lake Friday afternoon shows dry lightning storm passing over, leaving fire starts behind. Lightning sparked more than 100 new fires Friday. (Black Press)
VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017
DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase
59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

(Flickr/Andreas Eldh)
Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage
Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds
UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Photo by:
Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert
UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

A university study finds that about nine per cent of Canada’s Grade 11 and 12 students – roughly 66,000 teens – have driven within an hour of drinking and 9.4 per cent drove after using marijuana.                                 Photo: Now-
Leader file
One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records
Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read