Windows 8, tablets and hardware

Today is the day.

Windows 8 is finally here for everyone.

I’ve had my Samsung slate running Windows 8 for a few weeks now and I love it. Last week I had my extra hardware accessories arrive which make it even better:

  • Samsung Dock
  • Microsoft Wedge Keyboard
  • Microsoft Wedge Mouse

Demoing the slate to customers with these bad boys hooked up really helps light up the fact that they can be used as a replacement to laptops, in the office as well as out on the road.


That right there looks great doesn’t it?! You can of course connect it to a  monitor for a bigger screen when in the office and then when you need to leave, for a meeting, to go home etc – just pick it up out of the dock and off you go!

Windows 8 Enterprise SideLoading Keys

One of the many new things introduced with Windows 8 is the concept of “Enterprise SideLoading”.

While existing “desktop” apps can be deployed in the same fashion as with previous editions of Windows, “Windows Style” apps are published to the Windows Store and then downloaded from there. Microsoft realise that this isn’t the preferred method for organizations with bespoke apps for LOB (Line Of Business), HR etc, software purchased directly from an ISV etc. and so “Enterprise SideLoading” was born. This enables organizations to publish a Windows Style app directly to machines, circumventing the Windows Store, and is available in a couple of different ways.

Software Assurance

Enterprise SideLoading is a Software Assurance (SA) benefit on the following license schemes*:

  • Enterprise Agreement
  • Enterprise Subscription Agreement
  • Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES)
  • Campus & Schools agreements still running
  • Select Plus with SA
  • Select contracts still running

*Note it is NOT an SA benefit on Open licensing.

meaning customers running Windows 8 Enterprise (obtained via Windows 8 Pro + SA or VDA subscription purchased on the above licensing schemes) can enable this feature on domain joined machines through the “Allow all trusted applications to install” Group Policy setting.

More info on the policy setting can be found here:


Enterprise SideLoading Keys

Organizations who:

  • Choose not to purchase SA on Select/Select Plus & so have Windows 8 Pro
  • Have Windows RT devices
  • Obtain licensing (even with SA) via the Open license programmes

can purchase Enterprise SideLoading license keys in packs of 100, for approximately £2500 RRP…so around £25 per machine.

MAK (Multiple Activation Keys) will be made available via VLSC (Volume License Service Center).

For customers with non-domain joined Windows 8 Enterprise machines, these keys will be made available free of charge.



This will enable smaller organizations, or those who choose not to take SA, to still deploy apps without going through the Windows Store.


  • It should be noted that “Each…Enterprise SideLoading license must be permanently assigned to a single device”.
  • For Academic institutions, Sideloading may only be enabled on institution owned devices
  • This licensing is per device NOT per app.

It appears that the info on this isn’t as widespread as I’d thought so hopefully this will help!

Update: Here’s a link to the “Windows 8 & RT Licensing Document” that gives some info on page 12:

Volume Licensing guide Windows 8 and Windows RT

October Microsoft Product List, page 101 has good info:

October 2012 – Microsoft Product List

Activating Windows 8 Enterprise

Windows 8 has hit the RTM (Released To Manufacturing) stage so those people with Software Assurance, MSDN etc are able to install the final copy of Microsoft’s latest OS. However it’s not all plain sailing.

It seems sometimes, with the Enterprise version, it refused to activate. You get the screen overlay in the right hand corner telling you to activate but when you go to settings to do so, it fails. The ones I’ve seen fail with a “DNS name does not exist” and shows that it has a license key already, that ends “CWCK7” despite you not having entered one. There no longer appears to be a way of manually typing the key into the Windows Activation section…so what to do?

I came across an article at here that told me what to do, which is actually quite simple:

slmgr -ipk “valid license key”

That 2nd character is a lower case “L” by the way!

Couple of things I thought I’d mention to make things a bit easier:

First of all – you must run command prompt as an admin.

I must admit I struggled for a while to work out how to run CMD as an admin on my Windows 8 tablet. How do you right click without a mouse?

Simple (once you know/remember how) – swipe up on the app icon and it brings up the app commands at the bottom of the screen. Hit “Run as Admin” and you’re away!

Windows RT Office Licensing

More Surface info was announced last night, with pricing and pre-orders being made available.

All was great and then something of a hubbub started on Twitter when it was noticed/realised/discovered that the Office included in Windows RT can’t be used for commercial purposes or, to quote MS:

“not for use in commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities”

Now, I’ve known this over 2 weeks and didn’t really think it was particularly surprising; it is, after all, Home & Student edition – which has never allowed those usage scenarios.

I’ve also known that, through:

  • Having a copy of Office 2013 on the RT device user’s primary device


  • That user having an Office 365 subscription that includes Office


  • Buying the “Office RT commercialization license” that will/should be available from November

You will be able to use said RT Office license in the previously restricted manners mentioned above.

I’m honestly surprised at the furore around this…it follows the same rules as the previous version and is related to a product not actually out yet…is that just me?

Microsoft Surface: A look at Screen Resolution

Microsoft have now released pricing and spec for the Surface RT tablet and one thing that some people have already latched onto is that the screen resolution isn’t as high as that on the iPad 3. This OF COURSE means it is much worse right? Because, just like in the camera world, it’s all about the number of pixels right? What’s that? It ISN’T all about the number of pixels with cameras? That’s right…so why would it be different for screens?

The Microsoft Surface team have, quite brilliantly, been doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) over on Reddit and have almost literally* been droppin’ science about the screen, which we’ll look at now.

Stevie from the Surface team says:

“Screen resolution is one component of perceived detail. The true measure of resolvability of a screen called Modulation Transfer Function (MTF), not Pixels”

Here’s a Wikipedia article on MTF –

“The common practice of defining resolution in terms of pixel count is not meaningful, as it is the overall OTF of the complete system, including lens and anti-aliasing filter as well as other factors, that defines true performance. The optical transfer function is roughly the equivalent of phase and frequency response in an audio system, and can be represented by a 3D graph of light amplitude (brightness, i.e. intensity) versus phase and spatial frequency (cycles per picture width).”

As Wikipedia articles of this ilk often do, and I love it, this quickly turns to what can be known as “crazy maths” – you know, the kind where there are more letters than numbers, to give more detail:


Back to “Surface Stevie”:

“Most folks just focus on one number out of dozens of items that effect perceived detail. Without good contrast resolution decreases”

That last piece is what jumps out at me – “without good contrast, resolution decreases”. Here we have a graph that shows contrast sensitivity of the human eye:


“Basically, as resolution/DPI increases the eye has become less sensitive. So as a result, the amount of light in a room and the reflections off the screen have a huge effect on the contrast of the display. In fact, a small amount of reflection can greatly reduce contrast and thus the perceived resolution of the display”

Stevie goes on to detail Microsoft’s 3-pronged approach to this subject:

  1. Microsoft has the best pixel rendering technology in Cleartype
  2. Microsoft designed a custom 10.6” high-contrast wide-angle LCD screen
  3. The screen was bonded with the thinnest optical stack anywhere on the market

Although they aren’t official, Stevie pulls these numbers out of the bag:

“…the amount of light reflected off the screen is around 5.5%-6.2%, the new IPad has a measurement of 9.9% mirror reflections”


Marketing considerations aside, do you really need all of that “Retina Display” resolution and sharpness? In many cases no, for these five reasons: 

  • Most adults don’t actually have true corrected 20/20 Vision even with glasses or contact lenses.
  • If you view the display further away than the recommended viewing distance your eye can no longer fully resolve the sharpness of the display, so that high resolution is wasted. 
  • Unlike computer graphics images, photographic images (including videos) are inherently fuzzy, with the sharpest image detail spread over multiple pixels. Similarly, you would be hard pressed to visually tell the difference between 640×480 and 2048×1536 photographic images of a (Granny Smith) Apple.
  • Sub-pixel rendering, rather than ordinary pixel rendering, will significantly improve the visual sharpness of any display, especially for computer generated text and graphics, so that is the most efficient approach to improving sharpness.
  • Most people don’t even have 1600×1200 resolution on the much larger 15-19 inch screens on their (Apple or Windows) laptops and desktop monitors and are happy with them (even the tech journalists that I asked).

The AMA post can be found here –

The whole AMA article is here –

Thanks to @CarmenCrincoli for tweeting that post.



*It’s definitely science but they weren’t literally dropping it :-)

Microsoft Surface pricing announced

Microsoft Surface, the Redmond produced tablet – built from awesomeness and secrecy – is pretty much here. Microsoft have announced pricing and pre-order availability!!!


So what are the scores on the doors?


How does this stack up to the iPad3?

32GB iPad = £479

64GB iPad = £559

So the Surface matches up exactly against the best seller from Cupertino, which I must say I find a little surprising – I thought it would come in under those prices…but I can see Microsoft not wanting to under-value the great hardware and efforts that are on offer here.


  • Integrated Touchstand
  • 32GB or 64GB
  • WiFi and Bluetooth 4 – no cellular/3g
  • 8 hours “mixed activity” battery life
  • 2 x 720p HD cameras, 1 x front & 1 x rear facing
  • USB 2.0
  • Micro SDXC slot
  • 2GB RAM
  • 10.6” Screen

Head over to the Microsoft Store at:

and check out the specs, the accessories and get one on pre-order!

I am REALLY excited about this product release, both from a personal “zOMG, I want one” but also from an industry/technology perspective – this is an exciting time for everyone (except perhaps Apple!).

First Windows 8 advert arrives

Windows 8 will be released on October 26th and the first advert has debuted. It’s reported that Microsoft are set to spend $1.5 billion on advertising for this latest OS release…take a look at the first offering here: