Indian Railways launches official train enquiry app for Windows 8

Center for Railway Information Services (CRIS) has launched a Windows 8 app that keeps the users posted about the Indian trains status. The app is available for Windows 8 desktop and Windows Phone 8.

This National Train Enquiry System (NTES) app comes packed with many useful features that will be helpful for the Indian rail commuters. It helps the users the track the status of a train on motion, search for trains between stations, cancelled, diverted, rescheduled trains, arrival and departure time of trains and more.

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Based on first impressions, the app worked fast and delivered the information fast. With just the input of the train number, you can get details about the Indian trains.

There may be many third party mobile apps that do the same task, but this being the official one from the Indian Railways, it should keep the users posted on accurate and prompt information.

If you didn’t know, Indian Railways also has the official IRCTC app for Windows devices. There are no reports on when the Indian Railways plans on bringing these apps to other mobile platforms.

Links : NTES for Windows 8 desktop | NTES for Windows Phone 8 | IRCTC app for Windows Phone 8

Acer’s Small Screen Windows 8 Tablet Leaked by Amazon.com

Acer 8 inche Windows 8

One of Windows 8 questionable decisions was to not have a small screen tablet. Google has Nexus 7 and Apple has its iPad Mini. Acer was then rumoured to bring out a Windows 8 tablet with a 8-inch screen. The new tablet has been spotted leaked by PC World on the retailer website Amazon.com.

The tablet named Acer W3-810 is priced at $380, which is not exactly very expensive. The tablet will in all probability go head to head with iPad Mini and Nexus 7 as a competitor.

Acer W3-810 Specs

  • The final spec list has not been revealed but here is some information which was leaked.
  • Screen-size of the device will be 8.1 inches and support 1200 X 800 pixels maximum resolution.
  • The device will run on 1.5 GHZ A4 processor which is the same one as that of the first iPad. But that could be a mistake.
  • The device will run on Windows 8 but its not clear if its Windows RT or full-fledged Windows 8 version.
  • It will also pack in 1 USB 2.0 port and battery life is expected to last upto 8 hours.

The small-screen form factor for tablets really works. Apple iPad Mini has seen a great deal of popularity but it might be coming at the cost of the full sized iPad. It works because these tablets are cheaper and still have a screen-size large enough to work for reading books, web browsing and even games.

This tablet looks like $50 cheaper than iPad but if it has a full working Windows 8 on it, that could be a real bargain.

What do you expect from 8-inch Windows 8 tablets? Do you expect them to catch on? Do drop in your comments.

Take Screen Captures on Windows 8 With Free Software

Since Windows 8 supports touch-screen inputs, a screen capture software that works on say Windows 7 might not be suitable. I personally use Skitch for Windows, as it is free. Today, I tried out Windows Screen Capture Tool, which is a portable software that works on Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Windows Screen Capture

Windows Screen Capture Tool Features

  • Install the software from this download link (.zip file). It is portable and needs Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 on your computer.
  • The Screen Capture tool is metro styled and allow a range of options from full-screen capture, area capture, adding a watermark and Window Capture
  • There is support for keyboard short-cuts but with touch-screens for Windows 8, they might not be used as much.
  • The software allows insertion of text based watermarks on images.
  • The really nice feature of this software was that I found useful was that it could take screenshots with or without the cursor.
  • The only downside of this screen-capture tool was that it does not have a time-lapse feature that takes a screen-capture after say five or ten seconds.

If you have a Windows 8/7 desktop and need a portable software that works with metro UI, then try this one out.

Download Link: Windows Screen Capture Tool

(via TWC)

Dropbox Releases App for Windows 8 Tablets

Dropbox has recently released an optimized app for Windows 8 users. This app is a tablet friendly one and available at the Windows Store. The Dropbox app will run on any Windows 8 platform which includes the hybrid laptops with touch-screens along tablets like Surface RT which do not support all applications that run on Windows 8.

Unfortunately Dropbox has still not released an app for Windows 8 phone platform.

Dropbox App Windows 8

Is Dropbox App in Windows 8 worth your time?

  • The app really is not all that useful if you already have the older version of Dropbox running on your Windows 8 PC. This is because this app is optimized only for the tablet interface and not the PC.
  • It allows features like sharing photos with Facebook and Twitter friends using the Windows 8 Charm Share feature.
  • It is very basic and if you have a Windows tablet then this is a must have app for you.
  • On the downside the app does not seem to support selective sync for folders which is very useful especially if your device might not have continuous connectivity.

A Dropbox app is still not available for Windows phone, but it should be available sooner rather than later.

Try out the Dropbox app if you have a Windows tablet and let us know your views in your comments.

Link: Dropbox for Windows 8

Microsoft to Kill Live Messenger in Favour of Skype

Last year Microsoft ended up buying Skype at an approximate price tag of US $ 8.5 Billion. Many were left wondering what will be the fate of Windows Live Messenger which was also similar to Skype. The Verge, has reported that Windows Live Messenger will soon be killed off by Microsoft.

A couple of days ago, I already saw the first signs of Microsoft’s plan which allowed me to integrate my Skype account with my Live ID (Microsoft Account). I came across this feature, when I upgraded to Windows 8 and used the new Skype app on it. From now on, I have to simply use my Microsoft account details to sign in and use Skype.

Alternately current users can also integrate their Skype accounts with their Facebook accounts. The idea behind this all will be for Microsoft to leverage and support one single service instead of two. Also Live Messenger is most used for text based chatting while Skype is probably a more popular voice client.

Skype does have its premium options for making phone/ video calls and group video calling. It might also face competition from Google Voice and Google+ Hangouts which offer some great features.

I doubt Microsoft will kill off Live Messenger suddenly and will probably do this over a few months in a organised manner. But it won’t be a bad idea to move over to Skype as soon as possible.

Do you use Skype or Live Messenger? Which one do you use more? Do drop in your comments.

Get Popular Screenshot App Skitch Free on All Windows Platforms

I do not use own a Mac but some of our authors do (namely Vibin and Rahul). I am very happy with Windows but if there was one Mac software I really wanted on my Windows, it was the image editor Skitch. Skitch is great to take screenshots, add arrow pointers, text in different colors. Overall I found it was a great app for taking screenshots and as a blogger, I end up taking an incredible amount of scree shots.

A couple of days ago, I upgraded to Windows 8 and started looking around for some image editors which were free. To my surprise I found Skitch app for Windows 8.

Staying consistent with offering a free app on other platforms, Skitch also can be downloaded as a desktop version for older Windows version. It is supported on Windows XP/Vista and Windows 7.

Skitch Features

  • Skitch offers the option of taking screenshots and editing image files.
  • It is a Evernote product and hence we can directly store screenshots on Evernote accounts.
  • The functions are simplistic like using pointers, adding text to images, blurring out some part of the image and other basic functions like cropping, resizing and highlighting.

I would recommend Skitch highly for taking and sharing screenshots mainly as it is available free on many platforms. It is supported on Mac, iPhone, Android and now Windows.

Do try out Skitch and drop in your comments.

Link: Download Skitch

Get Official Google Search and Chrome App for Windows 8

Yesterday I upgraded my laptop to Windows 8 Pro. It was a painless installation. Windows 8 offers users to option to retain their previous settings from Windows 7 or do a clean install.

I like using Chrome and use Google and related services a lot. Windows 8 is a Microsoft product and so its not surprising that I see Bing and IE icons / tiles at the start screen.

Thankfully Google has introduced a quick simple way for users to download and install Google Search and Chrome on their start screen.

How it works:

  • Once you are on the start screen visit the Get Your Google Back page with Internet Explorer.
  • The first install is Google. It installs a cool Google app on the platform. It can be used for voice search and also if you choose to sign-in with your Google account, can help you access all your important Google services like Google+, Reader, Gmail, Map and more.
  • The best feature of it was looking up my search history which can be explored.
  • The next link at the site is to download Chrome from the Windows 8 Store.
  • The first thing I did after downloading Chrome was to make it my default.

Finally now I have my Google shortcuts on my Windows 8 Start Screen. Try it out if you are a heavy Google and Chrome user and have recently upgraded to Windows 8.

These apps works only on Windows 8 platform and not on the Windows RT versions.

Link: Get your Google Back (Windows 8)

Why you’ll never need a Start Menu replacement for Windows 8

Microsoft had released Windows 8 for public last week and this time I found many people actually buying Windows instead of pirating it, which is a good thing.

As expected, many of these people who got their hands on Windows 8, have started raging about how Windows 8 is a step back in usability – mainly referring to lack of start menu.

Many of them even started installing 3rd party start menu replacements. Heck, Samsung is bundling it with their new Windows 8 laptops.

So is lack of start menu really a big problem? Here’s why it is not.

Windows 8 search – it’s all there

The search in Windows 8 is hidden in the Charms bar – the bar that slides from right. But again, you don’t even need to wait for Charms bar to open – to start searching, all you need to do is, get on to the start screen and start typing. Can it get more easy than that? I don’t think so.

Browsing through apps in Windows 8 is much better than navigating through folders and menus in Windows 7’s start menu. Think of it like OS X’s launchpad, i.e. really good for checking out all the apps you’ve installed.

Searching and browsing through apps

Not just that, all the run commands which worked in Windows 7’s start menu will work in Windows 8 too. For example, msconfig lets you add/remove startup programs, accessible through Windows 8’s search.

Run commands in search

If you’ve ever used OS X’s Spotlight feature, you know how slow searching files is, in Windows 7. Not anymore, Windows 8’s search is a considerable improvement, though not as fast as Spotlight, it’s much better than what it was previously.

It’s all about making search universal

Windows 8’s search feature is not restricted to apps or settings or files. It’s built into each and every app on your OS. That opens for a lot of possibilties.

For example, I type ‘Hyderabad’ in Search and hit the ‘AccuWeather’ app – it starts showing the weather of Hyderabad immediately. If there was no universal search, I had to open the app, find the search bar, enter the query and get result. This is how Windows 8’s search turns a multi-step process into a considerably shorter one.

In-app searching

Windows 8 is a big change and it’ll take a bit of time for everyone to get used to. Installing a start menu replacement will only make it look like Windows 7, and you’ll never come to know the beauty of integrated/universal search.

What are your thoughts on Windows 8? Have you tried it? Put that in comments.

Get List of All Windows 8 Laptops / Tablets recommended by Microsoft

Yesterday I wrote a post on how to go about upgrading your laptop or PC to Windows 8. But that one was for people who already owned a computer and not for new buyers. There are many manufacturers who have already made Windows 8 laptops and tablets.

Keeping track of all the different devices running Windows 8 might seem like a difficult task but thankfully Microsoft has an official list. Just visit the Windows 8 Tablets & Convertibles or Windows 8 Laptops pages to get a list of all Windows 8 devices.

The price, specs and availability of all the devices on Windows 8 is made available. ;-)

Use PC Selector to find suitable Windows 8 laptops and tablets:

Along with list of all devices, Microsoft also has a handy online tool called PC Selector for users to device on what PC or Tablet will be best suitable for them. This one is mainly devised for people who are do not understand technical terms.

Users need to answer questions based on how much they use a computer and what exactly they use it for along with their desired budget. Based on that information the website suggests users the best Windows 8 PCs or tablets.

Are you planning to buy a new Windows 8 laptop or tablet? Do drop in which one you are planning to and why in your comments.

Link: PC Selector | Windows 8 Laptops | Windows 8 Tablets

Simplest way to Buy or Upgrade to Microsoft’s Windows 8 in India [Online]

Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is available around the world for people to either buy or upgrade. Most new computers manufacturers over the next few months will start offering Windows 8 on their devices. Windows 8 is priced reasonably and it is affordable for many. This should ideally reduce the amount of piracy of Windows 8 OS.

At this moment we can either purchase Windows 8 pro or upgrade a recently bought computer to Windows 8 but with a discount. Both can be done online.

Purchasing Windows 8 Pro in India

I decided to check how to go about upgrading my laptop to Windows 8 and how to go about doing that online. Windows 8 pro can be purchased online for Rs. 1,999/-.

Visit this link and download the file. The initial file is only 5 mb size and allow it to run after its downloaded. The file will check if your computer is compatible from hardware and software point of view. The purchase supports using a credit card or Paypal  I am not sure if PayPal would work for Indian buyers.

Link: Buy Windows 8 Pro

Upgrading to recently bought Laptop to Windows 8 Pro

This applies only to people who have bought their laptops after the 2nd of June 2012. The upgrade on such laptops is available for Rs. 699/-.

Users need to register their laptops at this link. Microsoft will send across an email with your promo code and details on how to download and purchase Windows 8 Pro.

Link: Windows Pro Upgrade Offer

Hope this helps your upgrade to Windows 8 in India. At the moment I am unaware of any online retailer selling Windows 8 Pro in DVD.

Do drop in your experiences and views on Windows 8.