The most popular stories on BetaNews this past week March 2-8

It’s been a busy week for Microsoft  and not necessarily for the reasons the company might have expected. For anyone unwilling to wait until April to receive Windows 8.1 Update, a few methods emerged that made it possible to grab a copy of the eagerly awaited update ahead of the official launch.

While some of these options appear to have been stopped in their tracks, where there’s a will there’s a way, and numerous users my good self included  jumped on the downloads as soon as possible. Some were impressed while others yep, me again!  were not. Perhaps it is little wonder that Windows XP usage continues to grow faster than that of Windows 8.x. This lead to analysts suggesting that the decline of the PC will be slowed rather than avoided by the continued popularity of XP.

Windows 8.1 Update wasn’t that only Microsoft download that was on the agenda this week. Brian had details of how Windows RT users can update their copies of Office 2013 to SP1. At the top of Microsoft, a quick reshuffle saw a change of faces in a number of key positions as well as the departure of some well-known characters. Skype rolled out to around the world and gained HD video calling as well. It is normally Microsoft that is to be found on the giving-end of a smeary advertising campaign (hello, Scroogled), but after the Oscars it was Nokia poking fun at Ellen DeGeneres’ blurry selfie that was taken on a Samsung device.

When not being mocked in tweets, Samsung was busy unveiling the Chromebook 2 which will be available in 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch variants. Benchmarks seemed to show that Samsung has stopped ‘tweaking’ performance when testing software is detected, meaning that benchmarks are now more reliable.

Samsung also managed to hit the headlines yes, again! by launching its Milk music service for Galaxy owners. Yahoo and BlackBerry (who?) announced plans to experiment further with mobile advertising. Oh, talking of BlackBerry, OneDrive also arrived in the platform.

As a writer, it is quite common to be accused of being a fanboy. Express a like for something and you’re clearly being paid by the company in question, offer criticism and you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of hate letters (not literally sent through the mail, though). This made me wonder about the fanboy phenomenon and to ask whether brand loyalty was becoming a thing of the past. One field in which fanboys certainly still exist is the world of Linux, and if you fancy getting in on the action, the Linux Foundation has a series of free courses to help you get started.

Anyone looking for money to get a project off the ground can take heart from the fact that crowdfunding site Kickstarter has helped countless campaigns to the tune of a total of $1 billion since it launched. Windows Phone users felt the benefit of the arrival of Facebook Messenger.

In-car entertainment took a turn for the fruit-flavored as Apple announced CarPlay to make it easier for iPhone owner to listen to music, use maps and make calls in their vehicles. Entertainment in the home is made a little easier thanks to the latest additions to Logitech’s Harmony range, including a keyboard and mobile app. Rokua launched the Stream Stick, a direct Chromecast competitor complete with a now-familiar casting option. That’s it for this week. As ever… much more coming up over the next seven days.

Image Credit: vinz89 / Shutterstock


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