The incredible moving cursor: why your cursor jumps around when typing on your Windows 7 laptop

Here is the problem: you are typing on your laptop and suddenly the input cursor jumps to a different place and you are typing somewhere in a previous paragraph.

It is infuriating and there are long threads on the subject on Microsoft Answers here and here, for example.

I have just been speaking to a user with exactly this problem. The clue: he had recently created a new profile, which resets your Windows user settings to the default.

The answer was simple. Laptops have touchpads or trackpads which have a feature called tapping. Just tap with the finger and it registers a mouse click. Double tap and it registers a double-click.

Nice idea, but it is a vile feature for some – possibly most – users since it is so easy to trigger accidentally. Anything might happen: emails sent by mistake, documents closed, buttons clicked, and so on. It is as if your computer is being remote controlled by a malevolent third party, especially if you have a slight tremor for any reason.

Fortunately you can disable the setting, but it is among the most buried in Windows. The instructions on my Toshiba are as follows:

Go to Control Panel, Mouse, Change Mouse Settings, Advanced tab, click Advanced Feature Settings, then click Settings under Detailed Settings for Touch Pad operations, then uncheck Enable Tapping.

The path may be different for you, particularly if you have a different brand of touchpad. The above is for a Synaptics; Alps has different dialogs, for example. Poke around in mouse settings until you find it.

The setting “Disable tapping while typing” is not sufficient for some reason.

Why does this make your cursor jump, even if you do not use your touchpad? It is the vibration from your typing that is enough to trigger a tap on some machines, registering a “click” wherever the pointer happens to be (and the pointer is usually hidden when typing, making this appear even more mysterious).

The question which puzzles me is why this annoying feature is enabled by default, when it should be disabled, and second, why it is so hard to find the setting, when it is something that many people need?

I imagine this single feature has driven some users to the Mac. Most users never discover the fix, but just have the impression that Windows is buggy.

Adobe will charge a royalty for use of “Premium features” in Flash Player

Adobe has announced that from August 1 2012, developers who make use of hardware-accelerated Stage3D in Flash Player, in combination with Domain Memory, will pay a 9% net revenue share as royalty. Net revenue is what remains after taxes, payment processing fees and “social network platform fees” (sounds like Facebook) are deducted.

“Domain Memory” is a block of memory declared as a byte array that is used as memory by the Alchemy C/C++ to ActionScript compiler. Allocating some bytes from this byte array is much faster than asking the Flash Player to grab some real memory from the system for your new object or variable, and manipulating memory via this technique is quicker too. In other words, it is a hack to improve performance.

Adobe is aiming the new licensing arrangement at games developers. Most developers will not be affected because of the following:

  • A license is only needed if both Stage3D hardware acceleration and Domain Memory are used. Use just one of these and you are fine.
  • If the game or app is packaged using Adobe AIR for iOS, Android, Windows or Mac (in other words, anywhere) then no license is needed.
  • Applications that make less than $50,000 in revenues (not clear whether this is net or gross) will be royalty-free
  • Applications released before July 31 2012 will remain royalty-free

There may be a program fee however, which I imagine will apply whether or not you pay royalties.

Although the new royalty is not all that onerous, it is significant as a change of direction. Until now, the deal with all these runtimes – Flash Player, Silverlight, Java – is that you might pay for the tools, but the runtime is free.

If you are considering Flash versus other runtimes for your new project, Adobe has now informed you that future free use of the runtime is not a foregone conclusion. Who knows what Adobe will define as “premium features” that might require royalties in future?

According to the FAQ, further premium features are indeed planned:

We are already planning premium features that enable "instant play" gaming experiences for content that relies on large assets which will be able to cache data using a local storage API. For content publishers looking for better branding and user acquisition, another planned new feature would allow apps to request if the user would like to create a shortcut on the desktop, task bar or start menu pointing to the application.

Overall it seems a curious move, at a time when Adobe seems to be moving away from Flash and towards HTML5 as its long-term strategy. The company may profit a little from a few high-profile games, but the dampening effect on Flash usage in the long term will offset any advantage.

No developer likes to pay runtime royalties and I would guess that Adobe’s move will spark an immediate search for alternatives.

Update: there is a great discussion of the issue with participation from Adobe’s Thibault Imbert here. Why the change in direction, when Adobe has previously made money from its tools:

at some point you are capped. Ask any tooling company today, hence why you see companies going to consumers, services, because games could generate millions of revenue with maybe 200 copies of Flash Builder and Flash Pro sold. Is it a good business? Not really.

says Imbert. Another issue is that third-party tools for Flash have been taking market share away from Adobe, which must hurt:

The model where Adobe invests all of the resources in developing the Flash Player, and then projects such as Haxe and Unity pull developers away from Adobe tooling is one that was not sustainable under the old model. Under the new model, it doesnt matter which tools and technologies you are using to develop Flash content, since revenue is generated based on the runtime and not tooling.

says Adobe’s Mike Chambers.

Microsoft open sources further ASP.NET Frameworks, publishes code with Git

Microsoft has released two further ASP.NET frameworks as open source, joining ASP.NET MVC which was already open source. These are published on CodePlex, Microsoft’s open source repository site, using the newly added Git support. You can find the code here.

The two additional frameworks are ASP.NET Web API and ASP.NET Web Pages. Just to recap, ASP.NET supports several frameworks:

ASP.NET Web Forms: the original framework shipped with .NET 1.0 and greatly enhanced since then. Excellent for quickly assembling a dynamic web site but somewhat heavyweight with its ViewState field and complex page lifecycle. Designed in pre-Ajax days.

ASP.NET MVC: A more elegant framework with separation of content from code, amenable to test-driven development, based on controllers and routing.

ASP.NET Web Pages formerly known as Razor: An alternative view engine designed to work with ASP.NET MVC. Uses .cshtml or .vbhtml extension in place of .aspx. A declarative language with codewords like @foreach and @if – though Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie says it is not a language but rather a template markup syntax.

ASP.NET Web API: formerly known as WCF Web API is a framework for building REST services. A key framework if you have a cloud + mobile target in mind. Now gets installed with ASP.NET MVC.

So why is ASP.NET Web Forms not open source? According to Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman:

The components that are being open sourced at this time are all components that are shipped independently of the core .NET framework, which means no OS components take dependencies on them. Web Forms is a part of System.Web.dll which parts of the Windows Server platform take a dependency on. Because of this dependency this code can’t easily be replaced with newer versions expect when updates to the .NET framework or the OS ships.

though it is not clear why this prevents the code being published.

Hanselman adds that Microsoft is not only publishing the code, but also taking contributions:

Today we continue to push forward and now ASP.NET MVC, Web API, Web Pages will take contributions from the community.

Why is Microsoft doing this? Within Microsoft, there have always seemed to be open source advocates like Hanselman, and others who pull back. One answer is that the open source folk are winning more arguments now.

Another take is that this is the outcome of industry-wide changes. Microsoft’s platform is less dominant than it was; it still reigns on the desktop, but Macs, tablets and smartphones are eroding its position on the client, and on the web Netcraft’s figures show steady decline since June 2010:


Most of the competition is open source and it is possible that this is a factor behind the latest moves. Microsoft is not open sourcing its IIS web server yet, though Hanselman does make the point that ASP.NET MVC runs well on Mono, the open source implementation of the .NET Framework, which is often used with Apache.

Developers: will you do Metro?

It is fascinating to watch the Metro-fication of all things Microsoft, from the Xbox 360 user interface to Windows Phone to Windows 8 to forthcoming versions of Office and other applications.

Future versions of Dynamics products were previewed at the Convergence 2012 event (which included a session called CRM goes Metro) and there are a bunch of screenshots here.


Microsoft calls Metro a design language and you can see its guiding principles here. Calling it a language does not seem quite right; the word “style” is more accurate, but it does have building block elements (and yes it is blocky) which I guess make it more than just a style.

A safe prediction at this point is that all Microsoft’s products will be touched by Metro influence, even though not all will become full Metro apps running on the Windows Runtime (WinRT).

In the past the style adopted by Microsoft for its own applications have strongly influenced third-party applications as well. Once Windows, Office, Dynamics and other apps have a Metro look, other apps that do not may begin to look dated or out of place.

Metro is controversial though, perhaps even more so than the Office Ribbon which replaced menus in Office 2007 and 2012. There is some connection: members of the Office team who worked with Steven Sinofsky on the design of Office 2007, including Julie Larson-Green and Jensen Harris, are now working with him on Windows 8. Harris has written extensively about the work on Office 2007 on his Office User Interface Blog, though the last substantial post was in 2008.

What’s not to like about Metro? Here’s a few arguments against:

  • Beauty is in the eye of etc; but the blockiness of the Metro style does give it a utilitarian appearance. In Windows Phone 7 it is nice to use, but not so great to look at.
  • The Live Tile concept, where shortcut blocks can be populated with current information, adds a random element to Metro start screens which does not always look good.
  • The emphasis on simplicity and immersion makes Metro vulnerable to the accusation that it wastes too much precious screen space.
  • Metro tends to be a horizontally scrolling style, though I am not sure if this is baked into the guidelines. This takes some adjustment since most of us are more used to vertical scrolling to see more content.
  • Metro seems to be optimized for a touch UI, and while its advocates insist that it is just as good with keyboard and mouse, that is a stretch. Metro seems to be a big bet on touch as the future of human-computer interaction.

On the other hand, the usability of Windows Phone 7 is a point in its favour, and some are convinced. Paul Greenberg, in a positive take on Microsoft’s strategy based on his trip to Convergence 2012, says:

They have nailed UX (a.k.a user experience). Nailed it. Their combination of the extremely well done Metro interface and their work on natural user interfaces involving voice and touch is the new gold standard – and I’m someone who loves Apple products. (please, Mac fanboys, spare my life.)

I would be interested to hear from developers whether you expect to embrace the Metro style in your apps, wither in WinRT or elsewhere.

Whoosh! Review: Samsung 830 series SSD kit

Is it worth replacing your laptop’s hard drive with a solid state drive instead? If you can put up with a few limitations (and perhaps a smaller drive) then it probably is. SSD is faster than a spinning disk, and you will notice this in the form of faster boot, faster application loading, and a snappier system in general. Battery life may improve too.

This review covers the Samsung 830 series 128GB SSD, specifically the laptop installation kit which contains all you need (except the screwdriver).


Laptop drives are usually easy to replace physically, but migrating your operating system can be tricky. Samsung seems to be making an effort to simplify this, though it could do better. The essentials are here though, particularly a very handy cable that lets you connect your new SSD as an external USB drive. This means you can image your existing drive to the SSD, then replace the drive and boot as normal. The package also includes two CDs, one for Norton Ghost and the other for some utilities and documentation. Finally there is a short printed manual and of course the drive itself. Since it is thinner than a hard drive, a spacer is supplied which bulks it out to the size of a standard 2.5” drive if necessary.


The laptop I picked for this test is a Dell running Windows 7 64-bit. It has a 160GB 7200 rpm Seagate drive – typical of a laptop which is a few years old.

Curiously, although all the kit is supplied to migrate from your existing hard drive, there is a note in the instruction leaflet that says “Samsung recommends that you do a fresh OS install to ensure an optimal operating environment for your new SSD”. Good advice, except that laptops usually do not come with Windows install media, and if they do it is recovery media with recreates the original install, which is not quite the same as a fresh install. Another problem with a fresh install is the time-consuming job of reinstalling your applications. There are many advantages to migration rather than clean install, even if the final result is not optimal. You can also tweak an existing Windows install for SSD so it is not that bad.

A problem with this kit is that although it does have all you need, it lacks a simple step by step guide. That is not for want of trying; someone has worked hard on the interactive manual on one of the CDs. Even so, with a printed manual that covers both desktop and laptop versions of the kit, two CDs, Samsung’s Magician utility as well as Norton Ghost, it ends up being a confusing bundle.

Most laptops only have one drive, and you may well find that there is more data on your current drive than there is space on the new SSD. I recall a note somewhere that advises you to delete unimportant data to make space. Alternatively, you could get Samsung’s 256GB kit for around twice the price. On a desktop, you would likely use an SSD drive for booting and for the operating system, but conventional hard drives for data.

Norton Ghost is not my favourite disk utility. It is a backup tool as well as a drive cloning utility, and has a rather complex and intrusive install. An alternative is to use the backup and restore built into Windows 7, which would work fine for this although you will need an additional external drive as well as a Windows restore CD or bootable USB device. There are also leaner tools such as Drive Snapshot which work well.

Still, for this review I decided to use the tools in the bundle and installed Norton Ghost. The Ghost install flashed many command prompts at me and then hung for ages doing apparently nothing. I gave up, tried to cancel the installation without success, and rebooted to find that the install had apparently succeeded. I did not trust it so did a repair install which did complete, giving me reasonable confidence that I had Ghost installed OK.

If you go the Ghost route, you should read the document called NortonGhost_Data_Migration_User_Manual_(English).pdf which is in the MagicianSoftware folder on the Samsung Magician CD. The main issue is that Windows 7 creates a hidden system partition which you need to copy to the SSD *first*, otherwise Windows 7 will not boot.

I then attached the SSD drive with the supplied USB cable and ran Ghost to copy the partitions. It took around two hours for my 100GB of data.


I then switched the drive with the hard drive installed in the laptop. This was pretty easy, though I did need the supplied spacer in order to press the hard drive close enough to the case for the stubby screws to bite.

Booted up, and Windows warned that it had not been shut down properly. I chose a Normal start, Windows detected the new drive, reconfigured itself, and requested a further restart. That was it.

Well, not quite. I ran Outlook which decided it had to recreate its offline cached mailbox completely. Mine is huge so that took a while.

I also used the Samsung Magician utility to optimize Windows for an SSD install.


This utility tweaks a few settings, such as disabling Super Fetch. It also recommends disabling the Windows indexing service. The idea is to reduce the number of disk writes, bearing in mind that SSDs gradually wear and their capacity reduces as data is deleted and written.

There are other Windows tweaks you can make to optimize for SSD. Tom’s hardware has a handy list here. Note that there are trade-offs. Disabling the indexing service may be a good idea for the SSD, but can be inconvenient, particularly if you use Outlook whose search depends on it. Disabling System Restore means you lose its benefit if something in Windows gets corrupted and will have to resort to other restore methods.

Was it worth it? Here are the PassMark before and after results:

  Old 7200 RPM HD New SSD Drive
Disk Mark 234.7 2186.9
Sequential Read 31.4 241.2
Sequential Write 31.2 205.4
Random Seek + RW 2.31 158.2

and here are the results of the PassMark advanced drive test, showing that disk speed improved from 3.7 MB/Sec to 34.8 MB/Sec:


A glance tells you all you need to know: the SSD is much faster. The Disk Mark improves by 931%.

In use the laptop feels like a new machine; everything happens faster than before. It is worth the hassle.


Nokia gradually fixing Lumia 800, battery life much improved

Nokia has rolled out several updates to its Lumia 800 Windows Phone. The latest is version 1600.2487.8107.12070, which for many users has greatly improved battery life, probably the biggest problem with the phone.

Whether you have this update pushed to you automatically depends on operators, region and who knows what. I followed the unofficial instructions here in order to get the update early and it worked fine for me; but try this at your own risk.

In my case battery life improved from needing to charge daily to running for several days with light use. Results do vary though. You can see how you are doing by running the Nokia diagnostics app and checking battery status.


Check the figure for Discharging. If it is 70 mA or less you are doing well. If it is up at 140 mA or higher your phone will not last long on a full charge. Note that for some reason the screen capture utility I use bumped up the battery drain, which on my Lumia hovers around 74 mA since the update.

Some have found that disabling 3G in the “Highest connection speed” setting, under Mobile network substantially extends battery life. Worth a try if you care more about battery life than getting the highest data speeds.

Of course users should not be having these kinds of problems; but despite some hassles – the will not turn on issue is the worst for me but I hope is now fixed – I like the phone increasingly. The feel of the device in your hands is excellent, it is responsive, email works well with Exchange, and the Nokia Drive turn-by-turn directions are proving useful, to mention a few things.

There are still a few annoying bugs. The camera is not as good as it should be, bearing in mind Nokia’s boasting about the Carl Zeiss lens, and a future update may improve the colour balance. There is a volume bug introduced in the latest update, that blasts your ears if a call comes in and your volume is set below 14.

App availability is still limited on Windows Phone. I would like to see a Dropbox client, for example.

Nevertheless, Nokia has created an excellent smartphone and seems to be serious about maintaining and improving it.

The meta-story here is that Microsoft’s success depends on the commitment of its hardware partners. Although Windows Phone was available from others such as HTC and Samsung, who no doubt made a substantial investment, those companies are more committed to Android and that shows in the quality of the devices and the way they are marketed.

Will this story repeat when it comes to Windows 8 tablets, particularly on ARM, which to my mind is the critical platform here?

What’s new in SQL Server 2012?

Microsoft’s SQL Server 2012 is released next month and available to download now (I am not sure what the distinction is). I have a high regard for Microsoft’s database server; it seems to me that the team mostly gets it right. The product has become somewhat diffuse though, especially as the Business Intelligence aspect has grown, and this may account for what to me is a rather unfocused launch for SQL Server 2012, even though its name suggests that it is the most significant release since SQL Server 2008.

The following slide summarises the new features, presumably with the type size suggesting the importance of each one.


But is the ODBC Driver for Linux really more important than the SQL Server Data Tools, for example? Not in my view; but that reflects how SQL Server represents different things to different people.

So what are the key new feature? Here’s my quick take.

Always On

A new feature called Availability Groups that is an improved version of database mirroring

Improved failover clustering which supports multi-site clustering across subnets – above to failover across datacentres.

ColumnStore Index

A new type of index for data warehouses. This is actually pretty simple: the name says it all. Here is Microsoft’s illustration:


and explanation:

A columnstore index stores each column in a separate set of disk pages, rather than storing multiple rows per page as data traditionally has been stored.

Why do this? Because it is more efficient when the query only requests a a few columns from the table. Microsoft claims performance improvements from 6X to 100X in cases where the the data can be cached in RAM, and thousand-fold improvements where the working set does not fit in RAM.

SQL Server Data Tools

This is my favourite feature, probably because it is developer-focused. These are the tools that were code-named “Juneau” and which install into Visual Studio 2010. There are some visual tools, but this is essentially a code-centric approach to database design, where you design your database with all its tables, queries, triggers, stored procedures and so on. You can then build it and test it against a private “localdb” instance of SQL Server. What I like is that the database project includes the entire design of your database in a form that can be checked into source control and compared against other schema versions. Here is the Add New Item dialog for a database project:


Data Quality Services

Data Quality Services (DQS) lets you check your data against a Data Quality Knowledge Base (DQKB), the contents of which are specific to the type of data in the database and may be created and maintained by your business or obtained from a third-party. If your data includes addresses, for example, the DQKB might have all valid city names to prevent errors. Features of DQS include data cleansing, de-duplication through data matching, profiling a database for quality, and monitoring data quality.


Illustration and more details are here.

Updated SQL Server Management Studio

SQL Server Management Studio now runs in the Visual Studio 2010 shell.


LocalDB is a local instance of SQL Server aimed at developers and for use as an embedded database in single-user applications. It is a variant of SQL Server Express, but different in that it does not run as a service. Rather, the LocalDB process is started on demand by the SQL native client and closed down when there are no more connections. You can attach database files at runtime by using AttachDBFileName in the connection string. LocalDB is intended to replace user instances which are now deprecated.


This is the most intriguing feature in SQL Server 2012. It is described here:

The FileTable feature brings support for the Windows file namespace and compatibility with Windows applications to the file data stored in SQL Server … In other words, you can store files and documents in special tables in SQL Server called FileTables, but access them from Windows applications as if they were stored in the file system, without making any changes to your client applications.

and the purpose:

Enterprises can move this data from file servers into FileTables to take advantage of integrated administration and services provided by SQL Server. At the same time, they can maintain Windows application compatibility for their existing Windows applications that see this data as files in the file system.

Integration of the file system and the database is not a new idea, and Microsoft has tried variants before, such as the “M” drive that was once part of Exchange, the aborted WinFS feature planned for Windows Longhorn (Vista), and SharePoint, which can store documents in SQL Server while presenting them as Windows file shares through WebDAV.

That said, FileTables in SQL Server 2012 are not an attempt to reinvent the file system, but presented more as a way of supporting legacy applications while managing data in SQL Server. It is an interesting feature though, and it would not surprise me if users find some unexpected ways to exploit it.

Power View

Codenamed “Project Crescent”, this is a web-based reporting client for businesses that have embraced Microsoft’s platform, because it has several key dependencies:

  • SharePoint Server Enterprise Edition
  • SQL Server Reporting Services
  • Silverlight on the client

In fact, Power View is described as:

a feature of SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services Add-in for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise Edition

Power View reports that I have seen do look good, and have an Office ribbon style designer for designing customising the report. That said, I would guess that Microsoft now wishes it had used HTML 5 rather than Silverlight for this – there are those Apple iPad and Windows 8 Metro users to think of, after all.

Microsoft emphasises that Power View is not a replacement for Report Designer or Report Builder, but an ad-hoc reporting tool.

Closing thoughts

There is more in SQL Server 2012, as a glance back at the initial slide will tell you, but the above is a starting point if you are wondering what it is all about. It is also worth noting that Microsoft still gives away SQL Server Express which supports up to 10GB per database and includes many of same features as the paid-for versions; it is the same product at heart.

Someone who finds that SQL Server Express actually meets all their needs asked me why Microsoft gives it away. My guess is that this is a consequence of all the other free database engines available such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, interesting  newer NoSQL options like mongoDB, and of course equivalent free versions of Oracle and IBM DB2. A proportion of customers who start with SQL Server Express will grow into the paid-for editions.

This does make SQL Server Express an excellent choice for smaller scale applications and small businesses, particularly since it integrates smoothly into Microsoft’s developer stack. Having said which, I am becoming something of an Entity Framework sceptic, but that is a story for another day – and fortunately you do not have to use EF if you do not want to.

Just three Windows 8 on ARM tablets at launch? Not good for Microsoft


Bloomberg reports unknown sources stating that only three Windows on ARM (WOA) tablets will be available at launch:

There will be fewer ARM-based devices in the rollout because Microsoft has tightly controlled the number and set rigorous quality-control standards, said one of the people. The new version of Windows will be the first to use ARM processors, which are most commonly found in smartphones. Windows 7, the current version, only works with Intel’s technology. Three of the Windows 8 ARM devices will be tablets, the people said.

This may be nonsense but I can see this playing out badly for Microsoft. I am making several assumptions here:

1. The design of Windows 8 is all about tablets. If it fails on tablets, then it has failed.

2. Windows 8 Intel tablets will not compete with the Apple iPad and will probably not do well. The main reason is the old one: Windows desktop is mostly unusable with touch alone. I mean, you can get it to work but it is not much fun, and that will not change.  Supplementary reasons are that Intel CPUs are less efficient than ARM which means shorter battery life, and that traditional Windows applications expect lots of disk space and RAM, and that OEMs will want to pre-install anti-malware and other foistware, and repeat the mistakes of the past that are driving users with relief towards iPads.

I can also imagine Windows 8 Intel tablets being sold with add-on styluses and keyboards that are necessary to operate desktop applications, but a nuisance in all sorts of ways.

3. Windows on ARM has more potential to be a compelling iPad alternative. Metro-style apps are designed for tablets and will work well with touch alone. ARM devices may be lightweight and with long battery life. The locked-down Windows Store is some protection against excessive OEM interference. With Microsoft Office compatibility thrown in, these might appeal to a business user who would otherwise buy an iPad.

Despite the above, my guess is that Microsoft’s OEM partners will instinctively put most of their effort into Windows 8 on Intel tablets, because that it the way it has always been, and because of an assumption that someone buying a Windows 8 device will want to run Windows applications, and not just Metro-style apps.

The problem is that such people will try Windows 8 on Intel tablets, hate them because of the reasons in (2) above, and end up buying iPads anyway.

The counter argument? That Apple conquered the tablet market with just one model, so perhaps three is more than enough.

PhoneGap is Adobe, Cordova is Apache

The hot cross-platform mobile toolkit PhoneGap was created by Nitobi, a company acquired by Adobe last year. Almost at the same time, the project was submitted to Apache as an open source project. However, the Apache project is not called PhoneGap; it was briefly known as Callback and is now called Cordova (the name of the street in Vancouver where Nitobi was based).

A new official log post explains why PhoneGap was renamed at Apache, but also makes the point that the PhoneGap brand will continue.

PhoneGap is a distribution of Apache Cordova. You can think of Apache Cordova as the engine that powers PhoneGap, similar to how WebKit is the engine that powers Chrome or Safari. (Browser geeks, please allow me the affordance of this analogy and I’ll buy you a beer later.)

Over time, the PhoneGap distribution may contain additional tools that tie into other Adobe services, which would not be appropriate for an Apache project. For example, PhoneGap Build and Adobe Shadow together make a whole lot of strategic sense. PhoneGap will always remain free, open source software and will always be a free distribution of Apache Cordova.

Read it carefully, because it is still potentially confusing. Note that PhoneGap “will always remain free, open source software” though it may gain hooks into commercial Adobe tools. At least, that is how I read it.

I would also expect that Adobe will come up with design and development tools for which PhoneGap (or Cordova) is invisible to the user. You will just be able to build for multiple platforms.

The post adds:

Currently, the only difference is in the name of the download package and will remain so for some time.

I will add that there is great brand-awareness of PhoneGap and what it is, and little for Cordova, so if you want to be understood talk about PhoneGap.

Fixing a Metro-style app in Windows 8 Consumer Preview

I am a fan of Wordament for Windows Phone and Windows 8. This is a Metro-style app. I was annoyed though to discover that it was broken on my Windows 8 slate. That is, it could not be launched because it did not exist when searching the Start menu, nor in the “All apps view”, but it could not be installed because the Store considered that it was already installed.

I could go into Store – Settings – Accounts and see it listed under “View your apps”, where it also said it was installed.

There was some kind of warning of problems, in that from time to time Windows 8 had been offering to fix a problem with Wordament, usually after I had set the slate to sleep while the app was running. When prompted, I always accepted and let it do its stuff, but the result of the last effort was the app had disappeared completely.

How to fix this? I found one piece of official advice for a similar problem which suggested refreshing the PC. This is not much fun because you lose all installed applications other than Metro apps – ugh. I did a bit of digging.

My first thought was to try manually deleting the app to see if I could trigger a reinstall. I got a little way with this. I found that Metro-style apps are installed into the WindowsApps folder, which is a sub-folder of Program Files. However, if you double-click this folder you get an access denied message, though the message also invites you to continue.


I did not wish to trample all over the security features of Windows 8, though following a hunch I did try restarting in safe mode. You can do this by choosing Settings – More Settings and clicking Restart now under Advanced startup. The PC restarts and you get to a “Choose an option” screen where you can click Troubleshoot. Next, click Windows Startup Settings and then Restart. This gets you the familiar F8 options including Safe mode.

In Safe mode you have read-only access to the WindowsApps folder, and there I could see the Wordament install files.


Here you can verify that this is an HTML and JavaScript app, just as its creators said. The JavaScript is minified so opening it up is not all that rewarding.


Still, I could confirm that the app was in fact installed, but I could not run it.

I had another idea. If all I needed was a shortcut to the app, perhaps I could grab one from another profile on the machine. I restarted in normal mode, created another user (which must be one with a Microsoft Live ID) and logged in as that user (shutdown /l logs off without shutting down). I installed Wordament, and it ran fine.

So where are the per-user shortcuts? Easy, just go along to c:\users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Application Shortcuts and there they are.


Again I had to grab permission to access this folder, but doing this in a user folder is not so bad as in a system folder.

I copied the shortcut to the same location in my normal home folder and lo, Wordament reappeared in the Start menu.


Not too bad; but it seems to me that Windows 8 should have a built-in way of fixing this kind of problem – perhaps it has, and I missed it.