Monday, 25 May 2020

WSL 2.0 - Windows Evolving

WSL 2.0 is the Windows Subsystem for Linux version 2.0. This release will come as part of the Windows 10 update for the first half of 2020. Expected to be called Windows 10 2004. The naming convention has been year and month for sometime with the 04 being April. As it is now May the actual name was a little optimistic but last minute fixes sometimes do this in the Microsoft world. 

The new WSL 2.0 brings a Microsoft built Linux kernel to Windows and, later this year, the ability to run Linux graphical applications in Windows. We are now approaching a world where desktop Linux may mean running Windows! 

Many of Microsoft’s open source critics are still living the world of Microsoft from 20 years ago. Former CEO Steve Balmer described Linux as “a cancer”. He meant that Microsoft made its money from software and giving it away undermines their business model.

However, things have changed. Microsoft is moving to cloud services. The world has gone mobile and the key operating systems are no longer based only on Windows. Developers have turned towards open source and re-usable code. Microsoft Azure hosts Linux as well as Windows. 

Microsoft would like developers to choose Windows PCs. So Microsoft bought GitHub, the developers choice of repository of source code. Now they have added a Linux subsystem within Windows to play well with web software development. The new Edge browser is part of the Chromium project. 
The latest move to WSL 2.0 is good news for developers. They can use Windows and Linux natively on one PC. New Windows apps will bring together development models of both Windows and open source. 

This won’t mean Microsoft abandoning Windows and being a Linux company. It does mean the next step in transforming Windows in a way that isn’t too scary for it’s main customer base – the enterprise. 

Sunday, 17 May 2020

The HP Stream 7 finally goes into recycling

Microsoft Store, San Francisco, 2015

Last week my HP Stream 7 ended its life. I bought it at the San Francisco Microsoft retail store back in 2015. It had Windows 8.1 and a 32-bit Intel processor. It was at the end of the short life of Windows tablets.

It didn’t bother me because the $79 price tag included Office 365 Personal for a year and $20 of Windows store credit. So the tablet was free. I used the Office activation as 9 months payment for an Office 365 Home Subscription.

I had upgraded the tablet to Windows 10. It worked quite well. The only issue was that Windows 10 changed over time and the chipset was no longer supported. I was stuck in a version of Windows 10 that would never update. So the maximum upgrade was to an 18 month old version of Windows 10.

The other problem was space. The tablet had 32gb and with temporary files the upgrade process it would frequently get down to zero. No space left.

These devices were underpowered in 2015. It has less space than my smartphone.

So it has gone to recycling. A low cost way of having a Windows tablet. It illustrated why Windows tablets ultimately failed as standalone devices. They have now been re-born as PCs with detachable screens in the more expensive Surface brand. I was happy with the purchase. It was a cheap way of buying an Office 365 subscription.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

WeChat is the route to Facebook Bank

Facebook wants a stake in the world financial system. It has 2 billion users and wants to be a bank.

Despite global concerns over Facebook's role in destabilising democracy through facilitating fake news, lies, misleading claims and pumping out unchecked ads it wants to be your bank.

Last year it announced plans for Libra, a cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that allow fast transfer of value. Typically they are based on a blockchain to record ownership of value. The blockchain being a giant global spreadsheet documenting digital transfers. It works similarly to banks keeping a digital record of how much money is in your account. However, the blockchain is designed to be an unalterable record of transactions. For more detail there are many videos on YouTube and other places. Suffice to say the idea is that Libra will be a way Facebook users will be able to pay for goods or services without involving a bank. In some parts of the world millions of people don't even have a bank account and are excluded from the sort of financial management most people in the developed world use every day.

Facebook also own WhatsApp and Instagram. So they will also be on the radar for using Libra.

Unsurprisingly the idea that 2 billion people might use Facebook instead of banks has caused the banking system some anxiety. Facebook has disrupted the news business, organising social events, messaging and much more. It could potentially have the same impact on banking.

The way this could work is the way it works in China.

In China a cashless society is in progress. Many Chinese were already unbanked with no access to credit or debit cards. The chat app WeChat, along with AliPay, are social media experiences that include payment, shopping and food delivery.

If the Chinese companies behind WeChat and AliPay actually entered western markets with the same services then China could dominate international digital transactions.

Facebook want to be a global bank and centre for shopping. The Chinese seem to already be doing it and it could come to an app near you soon.

iPhone SE 2020 is a game changer

The iPhone SE 2020 costs $399 in the USA. This is the same price as the older SE launched a few years back to deal with iPhone users who loved the screen size of the iPhone 4 and just kept their device until it died. They then went to eBay and replaced it with the same device.

Apple have spent recent years raising the price of the latest iPhone. If you pay cash then $999 is the price of the latest iPhone. Add some more storage and it zooms past $1000. 

The $399 iPhone launched in April 2020 has the latest processor, a decent camera, runs the latest software, has a smaller screen and uses the body of an iPhone 8. A design recycle rather than a refresh.

However, at this price it is now in the space that mid-range Android phone makers occupy. There are premium Android phones at more than $1000. They have been competing with iPhone. However, in the mid-range lower price market a lot of manufacturers have been making money well away from Apple.

The $399 iPhone is something that people that thought it was a too expensive brand can now consider. The iPhone SE 2020 is at a price that should change the market for lower priced Android devices even more dramatically in the coming months.

Mr Mobile Review of the iPhone SE 2020.