Chromebook: stop calling it a laptop

Google is so pleased with themselves. They’re seeing success with the recent Chromebook releases. Which made sense, in some form, when it was a few hundred dollars and had an impressive screen and physical design. But the Chromebook Pixel, which starts at $1,299 and goes upwards of $1,599, looks to many people browsing store shelves like a full blown “laptop.”

I will be the first to admit that over 80% of what I do on my computer is within my browser, these days. We live our lives on the World Wide Web, even if we don’t call it that anymore. Email is in the browser, Netflix is in the browser, Facebook, all of our news websites, even the tool I’m using to write this blog (and obviously how you’ll read it!) is all in a browser. Kudos to Google for identifying this. But for those other things? We need computers. Real ones. Not just browsers, or environments that look like Windows but are little more than a browser, like Google’s ChromeOS.

Google can pat themselves on the back all they want, but Google isn’t getting phone calls every day asking them “how do I install Quickbooks on this thing?” They would, except Google has gotten into the market of selling things without support. This was fine when everything was free. So what if GMail is down? It’s free! Or, it’s in beta! These were Google’s favorite defenses. But now they’ve achieved widespread use. They need to offer support. They need to hear the complaints their customers have, because right now, they’re marching onward so damn proud of their Chromebook sales. Meanwhile, every person I’ve met with a Chromebook so far? I’ve successfully talked them in to returning it to the store.

What do you mean I can’t install Word?. Well, Google offers Google Docs! It’s free! And it looks kind of like Word! But no, you can’t install the program you’re used to. And if your internet ever goes out, your productivity literally, not figuratively, just dropped to zero.

Google still lives in a Google world. Where everyone is a geek, who loves the idea of Google Buzz. Google forgets that there are still non-technical users out there. The people drawn to the iPhone? Are the same people who ask me why Word didn’t come with their new Windows computer. They don’t understand that Word 2007 and Windows 7 are different products. They don’t understand why they have to pay for Office 2011 on their new Mac if they want Outlook installed. They don’t understand that a Chromebook isn’t a computer, it’s a browser. And the people who pay over a thousand dollars? Are expecting a hell of a lot more than a browser.

Maybe I haven’t seen the right use case or product review, but I think the Chromebook, especially the Chromebook Pixel, is a waste of money.

How to download Office 2013 64-bit

Another one of Microsoft’s little messes. It’s the year 2013, and Microsoft is still so afraid of jumping head first into 64-bit computing that, by default, Office 2013 users who need to download their installer will download the 32-bit client. As if it’s impossible for Microsoft to run a script on the web page to identify what version of your OS is loaded on your computer? It’s just another one of those SNAFU’s that you get used to, I guess.

First you buy a license at a store like Best Buy, or Amazon. Then you have a product key, nothing more. You have to enter your product key to download the software. But don’t start the download right away! After you click the “get started” button as pictured above, you need to look for (I wish I screenshot of this, sorry, I don’t have one right now) “Language and Install Options.” Then there will be another link that says “Additional Install Options.” There you will find your 64-bit installer.

Perfectly logical, right?

Where and How to configure Out of Office in Outlook 2010

You might have some travel planned and need to spend some time away from work. In the age of mobile phones it feels like we can never be too far away from our email, particularly when it is work related. Still, it is professional courtesy to leave an “Out of Office” message on when you’re gone – so that people who send you email get an automatic response to their email. I generally put in a blanket statement saying I’m out of the office, and I’ll be back at a certain date; including a contact number for someone they can reach quickly if they need help is a nice addition. But how do you DO it when it comes to the “vastly different than its predecessors” Outlook 2010? This is how:

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What is Windows Blue?

I wondered when I was going to use the Windows Mobile Marketplace logo again. It seems suitable this time. Microsoft fan sites have rumors of Windows Blue flying all over the place. We don’t know much, and some of the articles I’m reading are crossing themselves trying to explain what they think it is. Here’s my take on Windows Blue.

Windows Blue is what most people would call Windows 8 Service Pack 1. But don’t think of it as a service pack. Think of it as an upgrade. Because Microsoft is most likely going to charge a modest fee (honestly? I’m hoping it’s $20. If it’s much more than that, Microsoft will probably blow their chance, have to release it for free, and refund people’s money). They’re trying to cramp Apple’s style and get in on the pricing model much like how Apple has released several releases to OSX in the form of Snow Leopard, Lion, and Mountain Lion.

If you were around for the transition to Windows XP Service Pack 2, you should understand what I mean when I say “upgrade” rather than just a service pack. Microsoft had every right to charge full price for Windows XP SP2. It replaced swaths of the operating system, it almost eliminated most Kernel differences between Home and Pro versions of Windows XP. For all intents and purposes, it was one of the largest operating system releases Microsoft never had! There were new features, additional support for new features, future-proofing the operating system in a way that hadn’t been done before. And it was all behind the scenes. Blue is supposed to really be a major step for Windows as brand.

It’s been discussed, but my theory as that Blue will unify the code bases of Windows Phone, Windows RT, and Windows 8. An app designed for one, will run on any. Blue has support for many resolutions, which is prepping it for things like a Microsoft Surface Mini. I anticipate a Surface Mini would likely run Windows RT (it would be hard to fit an x86 processor in such a small package with passive cooling – an Intel i5 would melt the plastic!), but if Blue does what we expect, it’s going to simplify the “app” Store a great deal and broaden the audience of developers in one quick move. People don’t want to develop for Windows Phone because it hasn’t seen mass adoption. But if you could develop your app and release it to every Windows Phone, Windows RT, and Windows 8 device with just a few clicks? Suddenly you have a massive audience which will grow by the day.

Rumors abound that Microsoft’s Windows team hit their first Milestone with Blue just a few weeks ago, and if it stays on schedule we’ll see an RTM in the summer, and early in the fall we should be getting access to Windows Blue. Time will tell what all that really means, but I’m pretty excited – and surprised at how little chatter there has been! I mention this to other people in the tech industry and they haven’t even heard of Blue! Open your eyes and ears, because it’ll be here before you know it! And whether it’s free or paid, I don’t care. I’ll be all over it!