October 17th isn't the sexiest date on the calendar. One might expect announcements from two of the leading desktop operating system makers to come on some other day than a middle-of-the-month Thursday.
And yet, today was the launch date for updates to both Windows 8 and Ubuntu 13, and the changes, while minimal, are worth the upgrades.
Windows 8.1: Better Late Than Awful?
We haven't been too kind to Windows 8, but truth be told, it was Microsoft's fault. How do you delete the start button, with little to no warning, after 17 years? And while going whole hog on touchscreen user interfaces is forward-thinking, there's no way any rational human being is going to upgrade a non-touch laptop.
That's not even beginning to address the issues of the disjointed desktop/Metro dual interfaces, the anemic Metro app store, the inability to multitask by splitting apps 50/50 on the screen, the confusion with the PC OS's disabled lookalike tablet-only Windows RT OS, which for some reason, is still being pushed my Microsoft (and Microsoft alone).
What does 8.1 bring? A whole lot of bug fixes (for free) to current Windows 8 users. For diehards, the start button returns (kind of -- it merely brings up the Metro screen, which in a way is really a big ol' start menu anyway) and you can boot directly to the old school desktop.
For us, the biggest feature is the ability to have programs sit, side-by-side, without sapping to a 30:70 split. If you like copying research from the Internet into a document, having the browser or word processor shrunk to a third of the screen will be truly annoying.
Besides that? There are a ton of minor visual tweaks that enhance the overall experience. Gizmodo says that the "little changes make a big difference." We're inclined to agree.
You can get the upgrade here. If you're already on Windows 8, it's a no brainer.
Ubuntu Linux 13.10: Much Ado About Milestones
Somewhere out there, there has to be another lawyer who is a Linux lover, right? Though the OS is typically the domain of geeks, hackers, and coders, it's (a) free (b) open source and (c) has everything you need to be a productive lawyer. The newest version today, however, is little more than an incremental upgrade.
What's new? According to ZDnet, the "Smart Scopes" search has expanded beyond looking at your system, and now queries the Internet. Type in Firefox, and you'll probably get the browser, as well as links to the website and the Wikipedia page.
Other than that? Pretty much nothing. There are updates to the bundled applications, some under-the-hood performance tweaks, and that's pretty much it. The most exciting part of the announcement is the release of Ubuntu for smartphones and the release of the new Ubuntu SDK for application developers, which will allow them code one app for all systems, from phone to tablet to desktop. Ubuntu's plan: one OS to rule them all.
The phone OS is mostly for developers, but if you have the desktop app, be sure to upgrade for the bug fixes.
Have any questions about Windows 8.1 or Linux lawyering? Ask away, on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.
- Big Changes for Windows 8? Plus, XP Starts Death March (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)
- Will $45 Android and Linux PCs Pose Problems for Windows? (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)
- The Five Best New Features in Windows 8.1 (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)