Scott Hanselman

Video Tutorial and Screenshots: Windows 8.1 Update 1

April 3, '14 Comments [50] Posted in Screencasts | Win8
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I have a personal MSDN account so I download and installed the Windows 8.1 Update as soon as I could. It'll roll out to the rest of the world slowly in the coming weeks.

The verdict? It's a significant improvement. I use an X1 Carbon Touch laptop, and while it has a touchscreen, I spend most of my time on the mouse and keyboard. I'm comfortable with moving between Store (fullscreen) apps and Desktop apps but it's always a little jarring. You're leaping between two universes. I want to live in one universe and this Windows update merges them in a measured way that means I'm moving faster when using my computer.

I've just put up a brand new 5 minute YouTube video to give you a tour of just a few of the new features.

After you get the update, you'll notice immediately that the Windows Store - a full screen app, mind you - is pinned to your Windows Desktop's Taskbar. You can now pin any app, desktop or store, to your Taskbar.

Even better, you can close them with a right click, just like you're used to:

Windows Store apps can be pinned to the taskbar

And Windows Store apps like Xbox Music that use the Media Controls can also get taskbar enhancements like the Media Controls within the Taskbar button. Here I'm controlling the music in my Windows Store app while I'm in the desktop. The "universal" music controls also pop up when you press your hardware volume keys as well.

Windows Store apps can modify the jump menu

The Start Screen now includes a power button and search button, always.

Windows Start Screen has a visible power button

If you right click a pinned Tile with the mouse (or Shift-F10 with the keyboard) you'll get the familiar context menu. You can change sizes, pin to the taskbar, and more.

Context Menus are in the Start Menu now

There's also some nice subtle changes and features added. This is great for me as I travel a lot. I can manage my known Wi-Fi networks now. This was in Windows 7 and was either removed or hidden. I even wrote a utility to manage Wireless Networks because of this missing feature. Well, it's back.

Manage known WiFi Networks is back

You can move the mouse to the top of a Windows Store app and a title bar will appear. Click in the left side of that title bar, and you can now control Window Splitting.

You can split windows with mouse clicks from the System Menu

Windows Store apps also get Minimize and Close buttons as well.

Windows Store apps have a minimize and close now

Newly installed apps are easier to find and a notification appears on your Start Screen:

"2 new apps installed" notification on the Start Screen

Fullscreen IE11 also has an option to always show open tabs, useful if you're an "out of sight, out of mind" individual.

IE11 Fullscreen can show open tabs now

All in all, it works surprisingly well. I'm moving around Windows faster than before and actually using more Store apps like Mail and Music.

Free Windows 8 and 8.1 Tutorials

I've made this easy link to my free Windows 8 Tutorials. There's a whole playlist up on YouTube and you can get to them from here: http://hanselman.com/windows8 

Please do pass that link along to family and friends, or via Social Media. Thanks!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Three all new Windows 8.1 video tutorials - what's new in 8.1, keyboard shortcuts, and managing windows

December 8, '13 Comments [32] Posted in Screencasts | Win8
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I'm really happy with the response from my "Windows 8 moved my cheese" YouTube Tutorial. It's helped thousands of people lose their fear of the change that Windows 8 represents. I encourage you to check it out.

I decided to sit down today and create three more short tutorials that all address Windows 8.1. If you find them useful, please share them with your friends, family, and the people on Twitter and Facebook you call your friends. ;)

I've created a single link to a YouTube Playlist that you can share, or watch them below.

Here's the How to use Windows 8.1 YouTube Playlist.

What's new in Windows 8.1?

Using Windows 8 or 8.1 with a Keyboard

Effectively Managing Multiple Full Screen Windows Store Applicatons

The 25 min Windows 8 Missing Instruction Manual (VIDEO)


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Run more apps and show more tiles on your Surface 2 or high-dpi Windows 8.1 Laptop

November 19, '13 Comments [28] Posted in Tools | Win8
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Show more tiles and run more apps on a Microsoft Surface 2

I did a blog post a little while ago about getting real work done on a Surface 2 (ARM & RT) and I've learned a few interesting things since then. The Surface 2 has a great screen. Having 1920x1080p resolution screen on 10.6" screen is really fantastic. In fact, the DPI on the Surface 2 is so nice that working on any other machine (like the 13" 1366x768 laptop I'm writing this on right now) is just unacceptable.

NOTE: This isn't specific to Surface 2. It works on the first Surface Pro, or really, any 1080p or above Windows 8.1 machine!

However, the default DPI settings for both Store Apps and Desktop Apps is set too high, which scales everything and in my opinion this limits you in a few ways. You see fewer tiles on the start screen and can't snap/see more than two Store Apps at a time. If you don't mind smaller on-screen elements, here's a few tricks that will take your high-resolution Surface 2 to the next level. It did mine.

Here's my Start Screen with the default settings as the Surface 2 shipped.

3 rows of Tiles by default

But, if you search for "size" in Settings... (hit the Windows Key+W and type "size")

Size the apps on the screen in Windows 8.1

From this Setting screen, change the Default setting to "Smaller."

Changing Store App sizes

Here's the Start Screen now with the size set to Smaller.

5 rows of tiles

But wait, there's more. Now, go to Settings (Windows Key+C) and click Tiles, then Show More Tiles.

Show more tiles

Now my Start Screen has smaller tiles, but lots more. It's nice to have options.

6 rows of Start Screen Tiles

Here's Mail and News snapped next to each other using the Default DPI setting on the Surface 2.

Mail and News

After changing the setting to Smaller, I can now pull a third application in and the others will get out the way. With 8.1 apps I can resize them to more sizes than 8.0 apps.

 Adding a fourth app and swapping out a third

I prefer the smaller Full Screen/Store DPI setting because I can now read email, check web pages and watch a movie at the same time.

Mail, IE, and Video

I can also bring the Desktop in and run apps over there at the same time I have other Store Apps.

Here I'm running Excel on the Desktop, next to Mail, next to Hulu.

Excel, Mail, and Hulu

After changing Full Screen/Store DPI settings, don't forget you can also changed the DPI for Desktop apps as well. Right click on the Desktop and click Resolution, then "make text and other items larger or smaller." You can play with the settings and find what works. These desktop settings do not change your Store Apps.

Change the size of all items

I hope these tips help you push your own Surface (or any high-DPI laptop) harder.


Sponsor: Thanks to Red Gate for sponsoring the feed this week! Easy release management: Deploy your .NET apps, services and SQL Server databases in a single, repeatable process with Red Gate’s Deployment Manager. There’s a free Starter edition, so get started now!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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How to sign into Windows 8 or 8.1 without a Microsoft account - make a local user

November 3, '13 Comments [60] Posted in Win8
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I was setting up Windows 8.1 on a machine and didn't want to use a Microsoft ID (Live ID) to sign into it. I didn't feel like linking this temporary machine to my existing Microsoft ID and just wanted a regular local login. Now, I realize that not using a Live ID would limit the things I could do and cause a lot more account popups when I visited apps like Music, Store, Video, and others, but still, I want the choice.

It wasn't immediately obvious to me how to create a local login, so I wrote it up here to help you, Oh Internet Person.

Step 1

When you get to settings, it doesn't matter if you click Use Express Settings or Customize. Pick what makes you happy.

2

Step 2

Setup will ask you to Sign into your Microsoft account. You can, but you don't have to. You can also click "Create a new account" at the bottom. You can click there to create a new online Microsoft account, sure, but this is also how you create a local account.

3

Step 3

At this point, it looks like you'll need to Create a Microsoft account, but you can also click "Sign in without a Microsoft account."

You should really know what you're doing here. Don't just do this because you don't like the idea of a Microsoft account. Be aware of the ramifications. That said, you can always add an account later. I found using a local local to be better for me when making a Virtual Machine.

4

Step 4

Here's where you actually make your local account. Put in a user name and password like you always do. This is a local account that has no ties to the online world.

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Hope this helps someone.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Make a Windows 8.1 Pinned Live Tile for YOUR website in minutes

October 21, '13 Comments [34] Posted in Win8
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imageI actually set this up on my site a few months back when Windows 8.1 preview showed up, but I didn't mention it. If you've got Windows 8.1, you've likely figured out that the most fun apps are ones that have active live tiles.

I'm a web guy and I like web sites, though. Certainly there's no reason or need for a "Hanselman" app anymore than there's a need for an app for, say, The Verge.com. We have perfectly lovely sites today and work just fine. We also have RSS feeds that contain our content and let folks know when a site has been updated.

You can add some HTML META markup to your site now and have a multi-size automatically updating Live Tile for Windows 8.1 in minutes. It's very cool.

Pin a Site to your Windows 8.1 Start Screen

  • Open Full Screen IE (that's the big blue IE from the Start Screen, not the one on your Desktop).
  • Visit the site you want to pin, like http://hanselman.com/blog.
  • Click the Star to Favorite the site, then the Pin to Pin it as a Live Tile
    • Before you finally pin the site, you can click the arrows left or right to pick the size of the Tile.
    • You can change the size whenever from your Start Screen by right clicking the Tile and clicking Resize.

Don't worry about my creepy eyes staring at you. My RSS feed will start coming in soon and the Live Tile will flip over.

Get a Large Live Tile for Your Site

The easiest way to make one of these is to visit http://buildmypinnedsite.com as they have a wizard that helps you make four file sizes and setup notifications from your RSS feed, as well as pick the background color for your Tile.

ASIDE: Back when IE9 came out, I added Site Pinning support to my site in a similar way. You can still do that for your Windows Taskbar, in fact, and get a nice right-click context menu with lots of quick access to my site, archives and podcasts. View Source or visit the link there for details.

There's a very detailed API on MSDN if you'd like to understand all the little details of Pinned SItes with IE9, 10 and 11. It's literally minutes of work on the low end, and maybe an hour if you go nuts with JavaScript.

You can put all your META tags in the HEAD and just have a pile of them if you want, which is fine:

<meta name="application-name" content="Scott Hanselman's Blog"/>
<meta name="msapplication-TileColor" content="#83382b"/>
<meta name="msapplication-square70x70logo" content="/tiny.png"/>
<meta name="msapplication-square150x150logo" content="/square.png"/>
<meta name="msapplication-wide310x150logo" content="/wide.png"/>
<meta name="msapplication-square310x310logo" content="/large.png"/>
<meta name="msapplication-notification" content="frequency=180;polling-uri=http://notifications.buildmypinnedsite.com/?feed=http://feeds.hanselman.com/ScottHanselman&amp;id=1;cycle=1"/>

More on that crazy notification one in a second.

Or, if you want a tidy META area, just move this stuff into a static XML file:

<!-- IE11 pinning and live tiles -->
<meta name="application-name" content="Scott Hanselman's Blog"/>
<meta name="msapplication-config" content="/browserconfig.xml" />

And that file, is predictably similar. Again, it's not needed, but you can either put the stuff in META tags, or in a file.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<browserconfig>
<msapplication>
<tile>
<square70x70logo src="tiny.png"/>
<square150x150logo src="square.png"/>
<wide310x150logo src="wide.png"/>
<square310x310logo src="large.jpg"/>
<TileColor>#83382b</TileColor>
</tile>
<notification>
<polling-uri src="http://notifications.buildmypinnedsite.com/?feed=http://feeds.hanselman.com/ScottHanselman&amp;id=1"/>
<frequency>180</frequency>
<cycle>1</cycle>
</notification>
</msapplication>
</browserconfig>

Now, let's look at those notifications. The service above is speeding things up by making the little Tile Notifications XML file for me. This is similar to Facebook's open graph stuff or Twitter Cards, where you want an image (if available) plus the title of a post to show up as a "card" or in this case, a Tile.

ASIDE: You can do similar type things in other browsers with nice custom PNGs and Icons, like Opera's Speed Dial, or iPhone Home Screen icons. I've done all those for my site. There's a lot, but it's minutes each and then it's done.

You get some amount of control as to text and images that can appear in your live tile if you make the notification yourself. The BuildMyPinnedSite service, as you can see in the URL above, takes your RSS feed and makes it WAY smaller (mine is too large to poll, for example) and pulls out prominent images. I set my Frequency at a few hours, since I'm a blog, not a news site. No need to poll me every 30 minutes!

Here's a Wide title generated by a recent post:

image

Or a Large tile:

image

The site will generate those, but if you're a really high-traffic site you might just write a little handler to make these Notification Tile Files from your RSS feed.

<tile>
<visual lang="en-US" version="2">
<binding template="TileSquare150x150Text04" branding="logo" fallback="TileSquareImage">
<text id="1">CollectionViewSource is crazy useful for binding to filtered Observable Collections on Windows Phone 8</text>
</binding>
<binding template="TileWide310x150ImageAndText01" branding="logo" fallback="TileWideImage">
<image id="1" src="http://www.hanselman.com/blog/content/binary/Windows-Live-Writer/CollectionViewSource-is-crazy-useful-for_122F5/image_b5516dd4-31b0-422b-8742-9bc1fbfa5d12.png"/>
<text id="1">CollectionViewSource is crazy useful for binding to filtered Observable Collections on Windows Phone 8</text>
</binding>
<binding template="TileSquare310x310TextList02" branding="logo" contentId="http://www.hanselman.com/blog/PermaLink.aspx?guid=11a2bbd4-261b-4ba2-93cc-cdbdc3de6825">
<text id="1">CollectionViewSource is crazy useful for binding to filtered Observable Collections on Windows Phone 8</text>
<text id="2">SCREENCASTS: What's New in Visual Studio 2013 - learn over lunch!</text>
<text id="3">IE10 and IE11 and Windows 8.1 and __doPostBack</text>
</binding>
</visual>
</tile>

I wonder how hard it would be to write a WordPress, Drupal, Ghost, or MiniBlog plugin to make these notification files? Not hard I think.

UPDATE: Looks like Nick Halsey has already crated a Windows Pinned Sites Plugin for WordPress. Nice job, Nick!

UPDATE: Drupal has Pinned Sites also!

I'm looking forward to seeing tiles like this for sites I visit like LifeHacker, The Verge, CNN, etc. I'll be more likely to pin a site to the home screen if it also shows me updated headlines.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.