A dive into Windows 8 RTM

Microsoft just released Windows 8 RTM (Release To Manufacturer) today. This is the version this is given to the manufacturers and will be shipped to consumers. This means that I had higher expectations from this release. When I first boted into Windows, I noticed the new blue logo (yes, the colored flag is not the logo anymore). The interface is completely Metro – feels like a Windows Phone device. The first startup screen asked me to login with my Microsoft Account (Hotmail/Windows Live Passport) and then I got an SMS asking me to confirm the association with Windows PC. I clicked on the link and confirmed the computer. After a few minutes, my desktop was setup. The first thing you see is the Start screen with Live Tiles and Apps. This version also has the Windows Store (which is separate from Windows Phone Store). There are a few apps published, I downloaded Box and iHeartRadio from the Store and was able to login and use the apps. I also used Connect with Facebook and the app worked as a mobile app would. The Desktop is similar to the old Windows desktop with a few UI changes. But the Windows 8 focus lies on Tiles and the tablet functionality.

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Google Wallet in action

Google has released its wallet on the Nexus S 4G on Sprint in the US. The product will roll out on other carriers and devices soon. The initial version of its Android app looks very promising even though it is incomplete and will undergo a lot of development. It allows users to add credit cards (or use Google’s prepaid MasterCard) and add loyalty and gift cards for various stores (the current version only has American Eagle). When you make a purchase, it would first use the gift card balance, then pay the balance with a selected (or default) credit card. It should also scan the loyalty card automatically though this has not yet been tested.

Here is a video of Google wallet in action: [Engadget] A week with Google Wallet

Spotify US: First Impressions

Music streaming service Spotify has finally launched in the United States after much anticipation and waiting. Spotify is a music streaming service that lets you search for songs and play them on the air. Its much like Grooveshark, except this one has got some nifty features. Spotify has three packages. Spotify Open is a free package offering 10 hours of streaming every month and a limit of playing the same track up to 5 times. Unlimited package offers unlimited listening without ads and travel option (which means you can stream from other countries besides the UK and the US) which comes at a price of $4.99/mo. The Premium package comes with Spotify on your cell phone which lets you stream to mobile devices such as the iPhone and Android.  It also boasts enhanced sound quality and has offline listening. This one has a steep price tag of $9.99/mo. Let’s see how it performs with competition like Pandora, Rdio, Grooveshark, Slacker Radio and a bunch of others in the space.

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A look at Apple’s Ping

So Apple launched a new Social Networking service along with a few new products last week. I signed up on Ping when it was announced, or when iTunes 10 went live and have been using it since a week. So whats Ping? Just your own profile with activity of accounts you follow. More like facebook status updates where you can write comments. Apple’s intention was to allow people to discover music by following people and encountering new music that they like. Another thing with Ping is that you can follow music artists and get updates from them directly. This is one of the popular features of Ping. However the down side is that only a handful of artists are on Ping and most of the artists are not registered. This is one of the things that breaks Ping’s usability. Another issue is finding people you know or adding friends. Initially Apple had Facebook Connect that allowed you to see your facebook friends who use Ping and add them. But due to some issues, Apple silently pulled that feature out of Ping. So what’s left? Well.. you can follow people who you know are on Ping and see what they like in iTunes Store or what they purchase from iTunes Store, if at all they use iTunes Store. In a nutshell, I think Ping is a failure as most people I asked about Ping said that its useless so they have turned it off. The only people using it right now are techies. They are just testing the new service out. Other than that, Apple, I think you should keep out of the social networking business…

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Ubuntu Light is another Netbook OS

Netbook had become the most popular computer of the age. It was a new era in Computing. All manufacturers had all kinds of netbooks, from Acer aspire one to Lenovo to Sony Vaio P. This boom gave a rise to tons of new Operating Systems that make the “net”book more net friendly. In other words, make it rely on the cloud. So we started getting “Cloud OSes”. There came Google Chrome OS which I reviewed here, then JoliCloud OS which I reviewed here and many different Linux distros.

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A review of JoliCloud – Another Cloud OS

So Google Chrome OS has been out for some time and there have been numerous builds by developers all around the world. Dell came up with a 8GB version of Chrome OS, a developer slimmed it to a 300MB version and now we have a new version by Hexxeh. Since Chrome OS is out of the box, JoliCloud unveiled the alpha version of their cloud-based OS. JoliCloud is a similar concept to Chrome OS, but expends its functionality. It has an Application Directory that allows users to install apps with one-click and keep them updated. It also runs Adobe AIR to allow users to enjoy applications that run on the AIR platform. So it is more useable than Chrome OS as it allows users to run native applications that work with Linux.

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A Review of Chrome OS

So Google Chrome OS was unveiled yesterday and everyone was excited. Google released the source code of Chrome OS and the Developer build for preview. Many people read through the documentation and compiled the source to test Chrome OS. I thought to give Chrome OS a try and review it – the features, interface and speed. I tested the Developer build and made a small 4 minute video showing Chrome OS, right from booting to all menus. This will give you an idea of what Chrome OS is like and give you the feel of it, so you need not spend your time figuring out how to get Chrome OS running.

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Hands-on: Tweetie for Mac

Atebits is known for their great Tweetie app for the iPhone, and today they released Tweetie for Mac! it just went live for download. Tweetie for Mac has a nice slick interface with a two columns: The thin pane on the left shows the Twitter Avatar with tabs for Timeline, Replies, Messages and search. The pane on the right has a broad view for the Tweets.

Besides the beautiful interface, Tweetie offers great features such as one button URL shortening, Tweeting pics and most importantly (for some) support for multiple accounts!

Tweetie is available for $19.95 with the introductory offer of $14.95. However, you can download a fully functional version with Ad-support, just as Twitterific.

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A look at Chrome for Mac

So Google Chrome has been there for a while and captured many users, some even switched from Firefox to Chrome. Chrome has been remarkable where speed and performance is concerned, though there were issues with flash objects open simultaneously in multiple tabs. But, overall it has been doing great!

However, Google Chrome is available for Windows only and a Mac version is awaited. It is said to be released this fall. Mac users are waiting to get their hands on Chrome for Mac. Manu J, a developer has made a stripped-down, basic version of Chrome for Mac. The application does not offer all the features of Chrome, but it works, and it works fast like Chrome.

I downloaded it and tested it out for a while and was impressed, it is really fast and gives the Chrome feel on Mac. There are a few features missing, including Open in new tab, Flash support (YouTube), Deleting bookmarks, etc. but it should be good for some basic surfing and checking out Chrome on your Mac.

Anyways, I’ll get to the point now. Here’s how it looks (Click on the screenshot for a larger preview):

And here’s the link to the Download! – Download Now

A preview of Postbox mail client

Postbox is a new E-mail client that was just released as public beta yesterday. It delivers E-Mails, RSS Feeds and Newsletters. I played with Postbox yesterday and found it to be “a beautiful and feature enhanced Thunderbird”. It feels like Mozilla Thunderbird but has more features like ToDo lists and tagging. The interface also looks a bit different with hooded transparent windows and pop-up menus.

So, lets run down through the features of Postbox.

More after the break.

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