Windows 10: First Drive

Last day I got a chance to install the latest of the Windows breed from the Microsoft stable. The Windows 10 Technical Preview. You can download the install files from here.

This is a touted as the successor of Windows 8, which did not make any impact in the market. Windows 8 was primarily intended for touch screens. The desktop integration was an afterthought. However for Windows 10, there is a clever attempt to marry the desktop with the modern touch friendly interface.


I dual booted the Windows 10 with the existing Windows 7 on my laptop.  The installation was uneventful. It detected all the hardware correctly. NVIDIA drivers were installed separately.

First Look

Having used Windows 8 before, there were not much surprises. The desktop integration is a welcome addition. The choice of viewing an application in full screen now rests with the users (In Windows 8, all applications open in full screen mode). Users can cycle between full screen, windowed or minimized mode.

The Start menu now has a small button at the top right to make it either full screen (ideal for tablets) or in normal mode (ideal for desktops). The good part is that live tiles are enabled on the start menu in both modes.

Windows 10 – Start menu in full screen mode
Windows 10 – Task manager has a new look and more details
Windows 10 – Task manager now has a minimized view with just the critical information

Application Compatibility

Applications designed for the ARM architecture and applications developed for the x86 architecture worked side by side. There is no switching required between the modern UI and desktop UI anymore like in Windows 8.

I tried installing some of the legacy windows applications and all of them worked seamlessly. However, the applications I compiled for the Windows 8 machine failed to run. I don’t know the reason at this time, I’m investigating.

Universal Windows Apps

Universal Windows Apps is a great idea, the support of which started with Windows 8.1. It promises to provide the developers with a common windows platform which gives a consistent API with consistent UX design. The developers can have the same code base for multiple platforms like desktops, tablets & phones. As a developer, I love this! 🙂

Further Reading

1. A video by Windows VP Joe Belfiore explaining the features of Windows 10:

2. Read about all the new features:

3. Download your copy of the Windows 10 Technical Preview:

A Free and Effective Anti-Virus Software

‘Microsoft Security Essentials’ has been around for quite some time in different names (Microsoft Defender being its previous incarnation). Now it is available for free from the Microsoft site.

Microsoft is not probably the best when it comes to protecting the computer from viruses, at least traditionally. Norton and McAfee dominates this space.

When we migrated our operating system to Windows 7 last year, I decided to give Microsoft Essentials a try for a few months.

I downloaded it from here or click on the below image to go directly to the download page.


The installation is quite smooth. It is better not to have other anti-virus / anti-spyware programs active when you install this. If you have other anti-virus programs installed, disable it before you install this.

I like its clean look. There are not too many options to mess around with, which makes it easy to use in my opinion. There really is nothing much to do from the user once it is installed.



The virus definitions are updated online automatically. The virus definitions appear to be updated very frequently, I see it getting updated every day or so, which I think makes it effective.



See the settings page in the screenshot above. I like the fact that the CPU usage can be limited during a scheduled scan. This really helps when a scheduled scan is kicked off when you are in the midst of doing something else and the scan eats up most of the CPU-cycles which in-turn slows you down. By limiting the CPU usage to 50% or even less, your activities on the computer will not be hindered when a scheduled scan kicks off.

I have used it for more than an year now and am very satisfied with it. Again, you really cannot rate an anti-virus unless it gets hit by a virus and see how effectively it handles that virus. But the fact that I have not been hit by a virus so far makes this anti-virus effective for me at least until now.

Internet Explorer 9: A better browser than earlier

ie9It was not long before IE6 ruled the landscape and had complete market domination. IE6 did not follow the web standards and developers were having a difficult time developing web applications that work seamlessly on IE6 and Firefox. But then came along Chrome, which tilted the balance towards web browsers that followed the web standards like Firefox.

Microsoft quickly went to damage control mode and released IE7 where they fixed some bugs. IE8 was released by Microsoft in quick succession which fixed more compliance violations, but not all. Then came IE9 where they follow most of the standards and added support for newer standards like HTML 5.0 specification.


Even though I use Firefox exclusively, I recently installed IE9 on my Windows 7.0 computer to see how it fared.

The installation was very easy. It was a one click install.


As with most Microsoft installations it required a restart at the end.


Being a web developer myself, I have to deal with different web browsers and different versions all the time. IE9 amazed me, it fared almost on par with Firefox on user experience, if not a tad better.

The user interface is very minimalistic like Chrome and now Firefox 4.0. See a screenshot below. It is much easier to use than any of its predecessors. A good job done by Microsoft.

Browser Wars

All the 3 major browsers, IE9, Firefox 4 and Chrome are has done very good and is improving with every version (I left out Safari explicitly, as I have never used it on a Windows machine.).

Here’s a benchmark study conducted by CNET recently with these 3 browsers:

Chrome 10 IE9 Firefox 4
SunSpider 0.9.1 (ms) 336.20 250.60 292.37
Kraken (ms) 8,806.30 15,606.77 7265.13
V8 v6 (higher is better) 5,173.67 2,235.33 3540.33
JSGamebench 0.3* (higher is better) 322.00 1,156.00 1,482.00
Boot time (s) 26.22 21.86 17.80
Memory (kb) 390,532 205,616 148,020

Credit: Chart by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

See the full report here.

The Social Networking Bubble

facebook_zuckerbergIf you are in the habit of reading the technology page of your newspaper (aka. online newspapers), you might have noticed the bulge in reporting of new online services or sites, especially that relates with social networking. There is also a growing number of these companies trying to cash in by going public through the IPO (Initial Public Offering) route.

It appears as though a repeat of 1999, when every startup was an e-commerce company trying to sell ‘something’ on the internet. The only difference now is that every startup is a social networking company trying to collect personal data from the users.

twitterI do not disagree with the fact that the social networking space holds enormous potential. If you look at how much of an individual’s personal data is held by companies like Facebook and Google, it is quite staggering.

However, I do think that the stock price valuations that they get is way disproportionate to how much money they can make in the future with these data. To me it feels like an exact repeat of 1999, but instead of e-commerce space, it is the social networking space that is heating up this time.

See the current valuations of some social networking sites:color_app_iphone

Facebook – $60 Billion

Twitter – $4 Billion

Quora – $86 Million (a question and answer company) – $41 Million

Groupon (online coupon company)

Zynga (Creates games like Farmville and Cityville for Facebook, who are valued more than Electronics Arts, who used to be the leading game developers for the PC.)

There are many more in this list which does not warrant the high stock price valuation that they are currently enjoying. However, only time will tell which companies will survive a social networking bust.

Update (28-Mar-2011):
Here’s another story that came out yesterday in NY Times. Investing Like It’s 1999.

AT&T, AT&T, what have you done?

T-Mobile cannot be classified as one of the best cellular providers in US, nor it had the best coverage in the country. However, it was one of the only 2 service providers which offered GSM mobile services, the other 3 major providers being CDMA players.

AT&T has struck a deal with T-Mobile to buy them for $39 Billion. By agreeing to buy T-Mobile, who is currently an innovative, low cost carrier, AT&T will be eliminating their only competitor running on a network with the same technology as theirs. With all the providers moving to the 4G network, how much of this will have a positive impact on AT&T remains to be seen.

T-Mobile had very aggressive pricing, which AT&T was forced to match all this while. With this deal, AT&T will have a monopoly in the GSM arena. It will be the consumers who will be paying the price if this deal goes through.