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.

Microsoft Surface RT review buzz

As the first reviews of the Microsoft Surface RT tablet start to shuffle in, I’m disappointed by the reviews and the reviewers themselves. While many of the reviews compare various tablet products directly, as they should, some of them look at the surface as a laptop replacement device. To be clear, the Surface RT has no illusions of its role as a tablet with a keyboard added for convenience. If a reviewer is expecting a “Surface” that is a replacement for a netbook or a similar product, they should be waiting to review the Surface “Pro” to be released in the first half of next year.

Beyond that, the sheer volume of Apple-biased reviews are somewhat painful. Nitpicking things like font-choices on the interface, rather than just admitting they like the product. If it had a different brand name behind it, the same reviewer would be gushing over it. I understand they really want to be unbiased, but they just aren’t. I can tell that I won’t be. I, myself, gush over all things Microsoft. I have since I was in high school, and although my friends wanted to be the Mac guy or the Linux guy, I had no hesitation about being the Windows guy. I was the one who had no problems with Windows ME, and the better part of a decade later was an early adopter of Windows Vista. But does that mean that I can’t load up a web page or a video on Netflix and compare the two images side by side? Absolutely not!

If the iPad 3 simply looks better to the naked eye, I’m going to tell you so. I’m not going to defend my side by talking about clear-type and DPI. But so many of the reviews I’ve read say things along the lines of “yeah, it looks good. But if it looks so good, why will the “Pro” version have a higher resolution? Why isn’t this resolution good enough?” They stop before they actually admit whether or not the Surface RT looks comparable or even better than the iPad 3.

And I can’t wait to talk about sound and various use cases (propped up with the kickstand, held in the hand, with the Touch Cover folded back, etc…). I have major issues with the sound on the iPad 3 – it is an extremely high quality speaker, pointed in entirely the wrong direction. I have such big problems with the iPad’s sound that a actually backed a Kickstarter of a product that hopefully you can buy in some stores soon, called Foco, which is a small pad which redirects the sound on the iPad 2 and 3 to the front.

Now, I haven’t received my Surface RT, yet – in fact, I haven’t even received confirmation that it has shipped, which is a little worrying. I can’t help but thank that perhaps a few of the people who supposedly preordered the same as everyone else got a little preferential treatment when their tech-pundit names showed up in the order lists. True or not, that’s fine, I’m a little jealous and a little anxious. I can wait my turn. When it does arrive, you can expect some first impressions as well as some good quality time spent comparing the Surface RT tablet and the iPad (3rd generation / 2012 edition, The New iPad, whatever Apple wants you to call it today).

Take Me Home Tile for Windows Phone 7 – great uses!

Take Me Home Tile, at first, sounds like a pointless app that wouldn’t get much use on the average person’s phone. But I’ve come up with some excellent uses for it, already. First, a little background as to what Take Me Home Tile is and what it does.

Take Me Home Tile, available for Windows Phone 7 devices, is quick and easy to configure, then places a tile on your home screen which will open up the Maps application and provide driving directions to a configured location, from wherever you are right now. The idea is that you configure the tile for “home” and no matter where you are, you just tap the tile and find your way back. It sounds simple enough, but some people might not see a need. Although I admit that not everyone is going to need an app like this, I’ve come up with some other-case uses it may be good for.

Say, for instance, you are starting a new job. Maybe you’ve moved to a new city or it’s just in a part of town you’re not familiar with. You may want to configure the application to take you to work, instead of home from work. For the first few days you could use this app to quickly pull up directions so you don’t miss your turn while driving through unfamiliar territory. Hop in the car, tap the tile, and you’re on your way – you won’t make yourself late for work and you’ll arrive with confidence.

Another use could be for elderly drivers. Nobody wants to think about the time that may come to take some of the independence away from their parents or grand parents. It is sad to think that you may take the drivers license away from someone who has been driving for decades, and make them unable to go to the grocery store, or to drive to local events. But I, for one, have heard several stories of a driver who may have the physical abilities to drive, but have simply driven around for several hours, unable to remember where they lived. Their vision and muscle responses are fine, but may have early signs of Alzheimer’s – this doesn’t necessarily make them a danger on the road. Perhaps providing them with this application, with the easy to use tile interface of Windows Phone 7, you can make it simple for them to get back home, wherever they may roam to.

I’ve come to appreciate this app in a new light. What was a simple shortcut to Bing Maps and directions actually could serve some quite useful purposes for many people. I hope you find a use for Take Me Home Tile.