Disable notifications for apps in Windows 8

Notifications are handy to let you know something like when you have a new email. But if you’re like me, you disable Facebook notifications because otherwise you’d get pop ups all the time (using the Facebook Touch app or others available). Same goes for Twitter. I don’t have just a few friends on my Twitter feed, I follow thousands, and several hundred people follow me! So I like to

From the Start Screen, bring up the Charms Bar by placing the mouse in the upper or lower right corner of the screen – on a touch device, swipe in from the right edge toward the center of the screen. Then click the Settings gear icon, then Change PC Settings at the bottom. Click on Notifications on the left, then toggle notifications on or off – altogether, or app-by-app.

How to accept a friend request in Skype for Windows 8

The other day someone asked me how to accept a new contact request in Skype for Windows 8. I remember struggling with this, and remembered the final answer was really stupid, but I was stumped. Ready for the answer? It was painfully obvious once I realized what my eyes were glossing over. Look above. In the 2nd column, on the first screen you see, you will see your recent activity. What’s there? Oh, look, a friend request. Wow, it really is that simple.

People still ask what if it does not show in your Recent Activity on the main page? Simple – right click! Or, if you’re using a touch screen, swipe down from the top. A menu will drop down from the top of the screen. There you can scroll side to side through your recent items until you find the friend request you’re looking to accept.

Good luck out there, everyone!

Where are my regular Desktop programs Windows 8?

So you’re in the Windows 8 “Desktop Mode” – because the Start Screen just doesn’t feel right. You installed a few programs, but with no Start Menu – you can’t find them! Sure you can try to browse using Windows Explorer and find you way in to program files, but that’s just not what you want to do. So where are the desktop programs?

Well, good and bad news. The good news is they’re easy to find – the bad news? They’re in the new Start Screen. Go ahead, put your mouse down in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, or press the “Windows Key” on your keyboard, and scroll all the way to the right. There are probably several small, not exciting icons. Those are your Windows desktop applications. “Apps” you install from the Windows 8 App Store get live tiles, and are different sizes and more bright and vibrant. Most normal applications that would put a shortcut in the Start Menu are going to also create an icon here. If it doesn’t? You’re not out of luck.

If you have the Start Screen open, just start typing the name of the program! You can also move the mouse to the right side of the screen or press “Windows Key + C” to bring up the “Charms” bar and begin searching. As you can see in my screenshot above, I installed a program called Handbrake – and in order to find it in the Start Screen, I just started to type – and sure enough it showed up in my list of “Apps.” The same goes for my installation of Office 2010 programs, and other applications like Steam and games installed like Half-Life!

If you’re looking for something like how to pick and choose your Windows Updates, you can search for Windows Update, then click Settings on the right side of the screen and then click on the icon to Install Optional Updates.

How to add your GMail or other mail account to Windows 8's Mail App

If you bought a Surface for Windows RT, or a new tablet or laptop, you’ve no doubt seen the new mail app. The question is, can you add things like your Hotmail account or a work email address to it – and if so, how? It’s not too painful. The best and easiest method is to use IMAP for your GMail account, and if you’re using Hotmail, Outlook.com, or Exchange in your office, you can add your email as an Exchange account and it will work just fine. There are some basic steps to follow to be well on your way to adding mail to the app.

With a recent update, Microsoft has made it easier and the mail application now prompts you what type of account you want to add. But, if for any reason it doesn’t, the easiest thing to do is as follows:
For GMail:

  1. Open the mail app.
  2. Swipe in from the right / place the mouse pointer in the upper or lower right corner.
  3. Click Settings (I’ll bet you didn’t know it was contextual – you do now!).

  4. Choose Accounts.
  5. Choose Add Account.
  6. If you have the option, choose GMail, and enter your email address / password. If not, choose Exchange and continue:
  7. For the username, enter your email address. For the domain, leave it blank. Enter your password, of course, and then for server, enter m.google.com – the app will handle the rest!

Yes, whether adding Exchange or Gmail, the basic step is just getting to that “Settings” menu, and adding a new account. That was the moment I learned that the “Settings” button on the charm bar was contextual – depending on the program you’re in at the time, some of the “settings” will be different. Lesson learned, and carried forward!

Let us know if you have any more questions about the mail app – need another screen shot? Some more advice? Let me know! I usually respond pretty quickly!

Windows 8 apps can be downloaded on multiple computers (VIDEO)

Hey everyone – sorry for the lack of news lately, I’ve been enjoying a brief holiday vacation. But I wanted to get back to the grind and give a word of advice to new Windows 8 users. I’ve already seen interest in the App Store on Windows 8, but people are asking “if I buy a game or app on one computer, do I have to buy it on another?” You’ll be thankful to know that, no, you don’t have to spend your money over and over for apps you’ve already purchased in Windows 8. This holds true as long as you use the same Windows Live ID / Microsoft Account on each of the computers. If, for some reason, you have used different Microsoft Accounts, then the Store cannot see your purchases and synchronize them. Buy once, download many!

It should be noted that apps of the same title that have been purchased on other platforms, such as Windows Phone 7 or Xbox 360, do not transfer. This was a bit of a let down, as my quest to have this question answered began with the game I show in the video, Hydro Thunder Hurricane, which I already own on Xbox 360 (along with Hydro Thunder Go on WP7). Here’s hoping that, eventually, this will all be a thing of the past, and I will finally begin to grow a catalog of applications – but at least you can rest easy knowing that you won’t have to spend a fortune getting apps on both your “work” and “play” computers!

FTP for Windows RT

Update 1: if the idea of the command prompt doesn’t appeal to you, read Clive’s comments below this post for using the Windows Explorer FTP feature, or see my new article about mFTP, a free app from the Windows 8 Store.

Some things we just take for granted. Maybe you’ve used CoffeeCup FTP, FileZilla, or CuteFTP – well whatever you’re used to, it’s not in Windows RT. You just had to get a Microsoft Surface, didn’t you? Haha, it’s okay, so did I. But, since you can’t go back to old familiar stand-by FTP clients, I asked this week what option you have when you need to upload a file to an FTP server in a pinch? Relax, Microsoft has had you covered for over a decade!

Windows RT has a command prompt. It’s true! From the Start Screen, just type three letters: cmd and a command prompt icon will appear. Click that. Look familiar? Good. Now you can type ftp exampleservername.com – and away you go! Perhaps, in yourcase, it’ll be ftp.exampleservername.com, whatever… you should know your own server. The point is, once logged in, you can upload and download files through the command line!

The two biggest things to know: first, by default you’re in ASCII mode, which is for transferring text files – to transfer a binary file, you should switch to BINARY mode. Just type the word “binary” and you’ll switch modes – then you can upload MP3s, JPGs, PNGs, EXEs, and so on. Second: if you are trying to upload or download files to the server, they are coming from and going to whatever folder you were in before you started the client. You can use the “lcd” command to change your local directory, but by default you start out in C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\.

More commands and important sub commands are available on Microsoft.com, though a simple HELP command will present you with some helpful information.

Should I buy Microsoft Surface now, or wait?

When rumors leaked of the prices for the Microsoft Surface around October 18th, I wasn’t thrilled. It was a little higher priced than I had originally hoped, but I had been setting aside cash with every intention of getting one “no matter what.” The thing is, I’ve known what I was getting in to. So here is what you need to know.

If it looks like Windows 8, and moves like Windows 8… it may not be Windows 8. Microsoft’s Surface that was made available in October is technically called “Microsoft Surface with Windows RT.” This device, while touting a full desktop-like experience, is limited to running apps from the Microsoft Store, found on the Start Screen. While I have no doubt that an eventual “Jailbreak” will be developed, there will still be problems with application compatibility. It is important to understand that the Microsoft Surface, and, in fact, any Windows RT tablet, can not run your traditional 32 or 64-bit Windows applications. The ARM processor requires software developers to do things differently than they would on traditional x86 architecture. Just the way your PC and your Mac can’t run the exact same programs, the same holds true for Mac OSX and iOS, Android, and even ChromeOS… each one requires special attention. Windows RT is no different.

What does this mean for you? A lot of applications you know and love aren’t going to be available. Are you a business person who needs Quickbooks? Too bad. Are you a gamer wanting to play some Diablo III? Outta luck. Need to Sync with iTunes? You’re out of luck.

This is where Microsoft has failed, this time around. While Windows RT shines with hardware compatibility, the software is clearly lacking. So eager to get people to buy their products, they haven’t made clear the distinction between Windows RT and Windows 8. And I don’t anticipate your normal big-box retail sales-person to be the one correcting you. What I describe above? Knowing that a lot of familiar programs just won’t run on Windows RT? THIS is the crux of the problem. No, don’t ask. Don’t even give me, “yeah, but what about… Outlook, Publisher, VPN Clients, Peachtree, Firefox, WinRAR, ĀµTorrentNO. They just don’t run. You need to know, without a doubt, that the Surface RT is designed to compete with the iPad and Android tablets – it is built new from the ground up. As such, it’s going to take time to get good applications, and that time is something many people don’t want to give up, waiting.

Surface Pro – a Microsoft made Windows 8 Tablet, NOT a Windows RT tablet, is supposed to be released this January or February. As of right now, there’s no such thing, especially not one directly from Microsoft. So if you’re looking to replace your laptop? Hold on. If you’re looking to have a nice portable and well-rounded alternative to an iPad? Look no further. If you’re hesitant, you should be. I would wait for the Surface Pro in the Spring – but start saving now, it will undoubtedly carry a 4 figure price tag.

Microsoft Surface with Windows RT: A Huge List of Impressions

When I unboxed the Surface RT, it was a thing of beauty. I clicked my Touch Cover on and away I went. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to adjust to typing on it. So let’s start there.

Touch Cover – within minutes I was tapping away, nearly full speed. Now, I will admit I have already acclimated myself to the smaller typing space of a netbook, but it wasn’t the space I had been worried about, it was the lack of a spring-feedback key-press. It turned out, I was ready for the change. Continue reading “Microsoft Surface with Windows RT: A Huge List of Impressions”

Is Microsoft already experiencing too much Platform Fragmentation?

There it is. Hydro Thunder Hurricane. In the Windows 8 app-store. For $9.99. When I first mentioned that Hydro Thunder would be coming to Windows 8, I thought it would possibly be free, for me, because I had already purchased both the Xbox 360 version of Hydro Thunder Hurricane, and the Windows Phone 7 version of Hydro Thunder Go. But, alas: it’s not free to me.

I am logged in with my same, unified LiveID, but if I want to play Hydro Thunder Hurricane on my Windows 8 PC – I’m stuck shelling out yet another ten dollars. I’m disappointed. But what is going to hurt worse? I have this sneaking suspicion that any apps I buy in the Windows RT store will not translate to buying the same Windows 8 “x86” app. We’ll find out this weekend, my Microsoft Surface RT tablet should arrive in the next few hours. It will be a tell-all moment for just how much app-purchasing I’m going to be doing in the new Microsoft ecosystem.

If I buy a Windows Phone 8 and none of the apps are compatible with my RT Tablet, and none of those apps are compatible with my Windows 8 app-store purchases… just what was the point of the app-store? Locking users in to only making purchases from one place? Then requiring them to pay for the same thing three times? I understand that there is bound to be some fragmentation – not all of the platforms can do the exact same things – there need to be certain limitations. But to offer the same application on multiple platforms but to charge for each one? That will infuriate many, many people. There will be a backlash if that is actually the case. But today is just Windows 8 Launch Day, October 26th, 2012. Maybe I’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. Time will tell, and I’ll be sure to write about it when I find out more. Just look for all of my Windows 8 related articles in the Windows 8 Archive.