Visual Studio 2013 is released. What’s new?

Microsoft released Visual Studio 2013 yesterday:

VS 2013 can be installed side by side with previous versions of Visual Studio or, if you have a VS 2013 pre-release, it can be installed straight over  top of the pre-release.

I installed over the top of the pre-release and I’m happy to say that this worked without incident. This is how it should be.


Oddly, the launch of Visual Studio 2013 is not until November 13th, proving that in Microsoft’s world products can “launch” before, at or after general release.

So what’s new in Visual Studio 2013? Tracking Visual Studio is difficult, because many important features show up as updates and add-ons. After all, at heart Visual Studio is just a shell or platform in which development sit. The Visual Studio LightSwitch HTML client, for example, which made LightSwitch into a strong tool for rapid application development of mobile web apps, appeared as part of Visual Studio 2012 Update 2. Now in Visual Studio 2013 we have LightSwitch support for Cloud Business Apps, though the new project type is shown under Office/SharePoint rather than under LightSwitch:


A Cloud Business App is an add-on for SharePoint typically running on Office 365. In the new model SharePoint apps do not really run on SharePoint, but are web apps that integrate with SharePoint. This is great in an Office 365 context, since you can write a web app that is accessible through the Office 365 site and which is aware of the logged-on user; in other words, it uses Azure Active Directory automatically. There’s more on the subject here.

What else is new? Here are some highlights:

  • Better ISO C/C++ compliance in Visual C++
  • Upgraded F# with language tweaks and improved performance
  • .NET Framework 4.5.1 with minor enhancements
  • Support for new Windows 8.1 controls and APIs in Windows Store apps – these are extensive.
  • “Just my code” debugging for C++ and JavaScript, and Edit and Continue for 64-bit .NET apps
  • Graphics diagnostics for apps running remotely
  • Sign into Visual Studio with a Microsoft account. Microsoft pulls developers further into its cloud platform.
  • Windows Azure Mobile Services – build a back end for an app running on Windows, Windows Phone, iOS, Android or web

Does that amount to much? Compared to the changes between Visual Studio 2010 and 2012, no. That is a good thing, since what we have is a refinement of what was already a capable tool, rather than something which gives developers a headache learning new ways to work.

Microsoft should have made a separate Windows for tablets say critics – but it did

David Pogue at the New York Times expresses a common view in his take on Windows 8.1:

The more you work with Windows 8, the more screamingly obvious the solution becomes: Split it up. Offer regular Windows on regular computers, offer TileWorld on tablets. That way, everyone has to learn only one operating system, and each operating system is suited to its task.

Simple, eh? One of several flaws in this argument though is that Microsoft did exactly that.


What is Windows RT? It is a Windows tablet OS where only Windows Store apps can be installed. Admittedly the presence of the desktop in Windows RT, in order to run Office and to access settings that would otherwise be unavailable, is a sign that Windows RT is not quite done; but you can ignore it if you want. If you are looking for Windows 8 for tablets only, here it is.

Did the market love Windows RT? No, on the contrary, Microsoft had to write down $900 million on excess Surface RT inventory and OEM partners have pretty much abandoned it, leaving Surface 2, which also runs RT, alone in the market.

What was wrong with Windows RT? While you can identify missteps in naming and marketing, the fundamental reason is the weak app ecosystem, which limits what you can do.

There is no reason to think that some other variant of Windows RT – for example, one without a desktop at all, or renamed “Surface OS” – would have fared any better. It would probably have been a bigger disaster, lacking even the benefit of Microsoft Office.

Personally I like Windows RT and I think it is strategically important, though rumours suggest that it will be absorbed into a future Windows Phone OS:

Right now, Microsoft has two ARM-based Windows operating systems: The Windows Phone OS and the Windows RT OS. The thinking is these will be one by Spring 2015. Because it tends to be easier to take a “smaller” OS and add to it than to take a larger one and remove features from it, it’s likely that the Windows Phone OS is the one on top of which the new operating systems group will build.

The reasoning, incidentally, does not altogether make sense, though I do not doubt Mary Jo Foley’s reporting. Windows Phone itself is based on a cut-down version of a larger operating system, with the Windows 7 range built on Windows CE and the Windows 8 range built on the full Windows NT kernel. What we will get, I suspect, is unification of the app platform in Windows Phone and Windows 8, and the question will be what happens to the desktop and ability to run full Office in this ARM Windows vNext.

Aside: of all the gadgets I carry around, it is Surface RT that draws the most approving comment from non-technical friends, thanks to its small size, excellent screen, long battery life, and ability to run Word and Excel as well as tablet apps. Of course it is too expensive and too slow, in its first release, and while Surface 2 may fix performance, it will not fix the premium price.

Windows 8.1: now good enough that it is ready for general use

Windows 8.1 is now released and you can upgrade for free from Windows 8.0.


What is significant about Windows 8.1? This is something I have thought long and hard about. The problem with reviewing Windows 8/8.1 is all to do with its dual personality. You can review the details of the tablet or Metro or Windows Store side, but while these are interesting in their own way, the fact is that most users are in the desktop most of the time, so how much does it matter? Alternatively, you can review the desktop experience but frankly it’s hardly any different in Windows 8.1 than in Windows 8, and not that different in Windows 8 than in Windows 7 if you overcome the hump of “hey, where is my Start menu?”


Let’s divide this then into two strands. One is the progress of Windows towards being a tablet OS, a Bring Your Own Device, a cloud-centric operating system, secure, apps installed from a curated store or corporate portal. This is the future Microsoft has in mind, and there is some progress. You can see this in refinements to the new UI, the Start menu/screen becoming more like Windows Phone where you pin your favourites to the main part and find the rest in an “all apps” view, and new business-oriented management features which work in concert with Server 2012 R2 and System Center R2, including Workplace Join, Work Folders, InTune device management, Information Rights Management, and the ability to set up a company portal.

Windows 8.1, together with the server updates, adds a lot in this area; and while in my opinion it is not yet fully baked, you can see the pieces coming together and I think it will get there.

The second strand though is about the general user? This is where all the noise is. Microsoft managed to alienate a large part of its core user base with Windows 8.0, accelerating (ironically) the decline of PC sales (though they would have declined to some degree anyway).

I cannot in honesty say that Windows 8.1 is usable for, say, a desktop keyboard and mouse user where Windows 8.0 is not, because even Windows 8.0 works fine with keyboard and mouse if you take the trouble to learn how to use it (and it is not that much trouble).

I can say though that Windows 8.1 does much more to help users over that hump. The restored Start button is the thing that represents that shift, returned by user demand, even if it is not the Start menu of old. I use it all the time, though mostly with right-click for quick access to the admin menu and shutdown option.

Things like the new Help and Tips app also make life better for new users.

My view is that Windows 8.1 is easy enough for Windows 7 users that you could reasonably upgrade one of those “just let me get on with my work (or play)” users without too much stress. This was not the case with Windows 8.0.

I think those users should upgrade too, where possible. Windows 8 and 8.1 are real upgrades, even for desktop users. Things I would miss if I had to go back to 7 include faster boot, improved file copy dialog, improved task manager, and slightly better performance overall.

The two strands begin to come together if you go out and get a tablet. Even if you use the desktop most of the time, with keyboard and touch control or mouse, you find yourself dipping into the Modern UI some of the time, for web browsing or mail or Twitter at the times when you are using your tablet as a tablet and a keyboard would get in the way.

It is worth mentioning that most of the new wave of Windows 8 tablets are not hybrids with twist keyboards. Some are conventional laptops or ultrabooks of course, but there are also tablets with removable or optional keyboards, a better approach that lets you use Windows 8.1 as designed.

Does that make Windows 8.1 a huge success for Microsoft? It’s doubtful. I took a light-hearted look at attitudes to Windows 8 here and it was a way of explaining that for a lot of users Windows 8 just is not on their wish-list, no matter how good it may be.

The best outcome now is that Windows 8.1 starts to gain traction in business and among consumers, driving a stronger app ecosystem, and gradually greater use of the tablet side. Then the point comes where Windows and Windows Phone merge to the point where there is a single development platform, and the third ecosystem that former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop used to talk about becomes a reality.

I can see this happening, particularly in business where Office 365 is taking off, presuming Microsoft manages to makes Windows devices the best partners for its cloud services while still supporting others.

On the other hand, the idea that a resurgent Windows will beat off iPads and Androids and become a mainstream tablet for consumers is fanciful. Microsoft is too late, the usability still is not there, the app ecosystem is too far behind, and prices versus Android are too high.

All speculation; but if you are a Windows user, you should not hesitate to upgrade to Windows 8.1.

7 types of Windows 8 users and non-users

When I was in Seattle earlier this month I visited the Microsoft Store in Bellevue. I nearly bought a Nokia Lumia 1020, but also observed an enthusiastic salesperson showing off Surface 2 (a pre-launch demo unit) to an older customer. She watched patiently while he showed how it handled pictures, SkyDrive, Office, Email, Facebook and more. At the end she said. “I don’t need any of that. Show me your cheapest laptop.”


Yes, it’s tough for Microsoft. The incident got me thinking about computer users today and whether or not they are in the market for Windows 8 (or the forthcoming Windows 8.1).

Here is a light-hearted at some categories of users. And yes, I think I have met all of them. For those that are saying no, what would change their minds?

1. The Apple fan.

Switched to Mac from Windows XP around 2007. Has Mac, iPhone, iPad. So much easier, no anti-virus nags, boots quicker, less annoying, always works smoothly. Occasionally runs a Windows app on Parallels but nothing non-nuclear would persuade them to switch back.

Buying Windows 8? No.

2. The Enterprise admin.

In latter stages of migration from Windows XP to Windows 7. Still a few XP machines running awkward apps or run by awkward people. Last holdouts should be gone by year end. Job done, won’t even think about another migration for 3-5 years. Next focus is on BYOD (Bring your own device); will be mostly iPhones and iPads with the occasional Android or Windows 8 tablet.

Buying Windows 8? Mostly no.

3. The older Windows user

Son thinks a Mac would be better, but Windows works fine, is well understood, and does all that is needed. No desire to upgrade but when PC conks out will look for the most familiar looking machine at a good price. Would prefer Windows 7 but may be forced into Windows 8 if those are the only machines on offer.

Buying Windows 8? Maybe reluctantly.

4. The PC guy

This is the guy who understands PCs back to front. Never saw the point of Macs, overpriced, fewer apps, and little different in functionality. First thing to do with a new PC is either spend 3 hours removing all the crapware, or reinstall Windows from scratch. The Windows 8 user interface took some adjustment at first but fine with it now, likes the slightly better performance, and even uses a few Metro apps on the Surface Pro tablet.

Buying Windows 8? Yes, best Windows yet.

5. The tablet family

Used to update the family PC every few years, but mum got an iPad, son got an Android tablet, then dad went Android too, and now they spend so much time doing email, games, web browsing, YouTube, Facebook and BBC iPlayer on the tablets that the PC gets little use. It’s still handy for household accounts but it won’t be replaced unless it breaks.

Buying Windows 8? Not soon, and maybe not ever.

6. The tried it once never again person

It was embarrassing. Used Windows for years, then a friend brought over a Windows 8 laptop. Clicked on desktop, but with no Start button how do you run anything? Clicked around, right-clicked, pressed ESC, pressed Ctrl-Alt-Del, but nothing doing. Friend was laughing. Now the sight of Windows 8 evokes a chill shudder. Never, just never.

Buying Windows 8? No way.

7. The “Make it like 7” person

Windows 8? No problem, it’s just like 7 really. Installed Start8, got the Start menu back, set it to boot to desktop, set file associations for PDF and images to desktop apps, and never sees the Metro environment.

Buying Windows 8? Kind-of, but will never run a Metro app.

Usability: Microsoft’s big weakness

The iPhone, or maybe the iPod, was the beginning of the era of usability. Make something nice to use, reasoned Apple, and users will come flocking.

After the iPhone came the iPad; and then Android which while lacking the polish of iOS, mostly has the same characteristics of appliance rather than computer in its user interface.

What about Microsoft? It has learned to some extent. Windows Phone is a user-friendly operating system. The touch interface in Windows 8, although a shock to existing Windows users, shows obvious effort towards usability and sometimes succeeds. Navigating the weather app, for example, is a pleasure.

There are times though when Microsoft seems to have learned nothing. Take the new SkyDrive integration in Windows 8.1 for example. It is foundational in Microsoft’s effort to wrest Windows into being a cloud-centric operating system, where you could lose your device, buy a new one, log in, and find all your stuff. I’ve posted about its progress here.

But then you are on a train, say, with a poor internet connection, and you double-click a file in SkyDrive that has not been downloaded to your PC. This is the dialog you see (at least, it is the one I just saw):


There is so much wrong with this dialog that I don’t know where to start. But I will have a go.

First, I doubt the error is really unexpected. If my internet connection is poor, problems downloading stuff from SkyDrive are expected, not unexpected. You would think that the client could figure out, “It looks like I have a poor connection to SkyDrive” and inform the user accordingly.

Second, the error number. The dialog invites me to search for help using this number; however to do so I would have to copy it manually as it is unselectable. The number of course is in hexadecimal, so there is a high chance of copying an O instead of a zero as the difference is not obvious other than to programmers. Nor is it clear where I should search. Should I bang the number into Bing and hope for the best? Such searches can be fruitful, but they can also go badly wrong when you hit sites that tell you to download their utility to clean your registry, or some such nonsense.

Third, there is space for a human-understandable description of the error, but it is says “No error description available”. Lazy programming somewhere. Maybe in a code base the size of Windows it is too much to expect helpful messages for every error but this is not something users should normally see.

Fourth, there are three choices: Try Again, Skip and Cancel. Bearing in mind that I double-clicked only one document, what is the difference between Skip and Cancel?

Fifth, there is a More details button but it is disabled. Why, if no more details are available, does this More details button appear at all? Though I’d suggest that Error 0x80040A41 is a great candidate for “More details” rather than being something non-technical users are expected to make sense of.

What should happen? First, SkyDrive and/or its client should work better. This is a critical feature; but users are complaining (yes, I found this by searching for the error code) and it seems that problems persist in Windows 8.1 RTM. Microsoft has been working on file sync for decades, yet upstarts like Dropbox work more smoothly.

Second, when bad things happen, I am all in favour of plain English. I don’t see any reason ever to confront users with error numbers in hex. Put it in a technical details option by all means. In this particular case, why not something like, “Windows is having problems downloading from SkyDrive. You may have a poor internet connection; please try again later, and if the problem persists, contact support.”

Getting this right is not easy; but for as long as ordinary users see this kind of dialog in day to day use of Windows, the flight to iPad and Android will continue.

Update: the error fixed itself when I found a better connection

Getting up and running with Workplace Join

A key part of Microsoft’s strategy for supporting tablets and smartphones in the enterprise is Workplace Join, which lets devices register with Active Directory:

When you join your personal device to your workplace, it becomes a known device and will provide seamless second factor authentication and single-sign-on to workplace resources and applications. When a device is Workplace-Joined, attributes of the device can be retrieved from the directory to drive conditional access for the purposes of authorizing issuance of security tokens for applications.

Devices currently supported are Windows 8.1 (RT or x86) and Apple iOS, with Android in preparation. It is a kind of lite version of domain join, enabling single sign-on but not group policy (centralised control of device settings). In order to control device settings, you can use ActiveSync (limited but includes password requirements and remote wipe) or device management through the cloud-based InTune.

I set myself the task of implementing Workplace Join on my test network, mainly using the guide here. It was somewhat arduous. Here are a few points to note.

Workplace Join is also called Device Registration and is a feature of Active Directory in Windows Server 2012 R2. It depends on Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS).

I wasted some time juggling with certificates and Service Principal Names (SPNs). On my test network I have Active Directory, Certificate Server and ADFS on the same virtual machine, which is not recommended. Here are some things to note.

You need a Server Authentication certificate which includes a Subject Name and two Subject Alternative Names, one of which is In order to get this out of Certificate Server I ended up copying and modifying a template to allow this additional data to be entered when the certificate is requested. I did not need to purchase any certificates; it all works as long as the Enterprise CA (Certification Authority) certificate is trusted by the device.

IIS will need this certificate as the default web site must accept secure connections to

I got into difficulty when configuring ADFS. Initially I used the same name for the Federation Service Name as the computer name. This in turn caused a conflict with the registration of an SPN for the ADFS service account, probably because I have too much installed on one box. SPNs are used by Kerberos for secure communications and each SPN must be unique. The solution was to remove ADFS and re-install, using a different Federation Service Name. Then I modified DNS so that all three names – computer name, Federation Service Name, and enterpriseregistration – resolve to the same box.

I have not published my ADFS to the internet so mine is only an intranet solution for now.

Once all this was resolved I was able to run the PowerShell scripts to enable the Device Registration Service, and to check Enable device authentication in ADFS:


Of course my first efforts at actually using Workplace Join on a device (I used Surface RT and Surface Pro) failed with a generic error.


Confirm you are using the correct sign-in info, and that your workplace uses this feature. Also, the connection to your workplace might not be working right now. Please wait and try again.

The first thing to check is that your device can access the device registration service over HTTPs. Open a browser and go to this URL:


If this does not resolve, or returns a certificate error, you need to fix this before registration will work. Possible reasons:

  • Your device does not trust the certificate
  • IIS has the wrong certificate
  • A necessary service is not running on the server (check ADFS and the Device Registration Service as well as IIS)
  • The device cannot access the Certificate Revocation List for your domain

There is also an event log for workplace join, buried in the Applications and Services section, even on Windows RT.

Once fixed, I was successful and saw my devices show up in Active Directory under Registered Devices.


17CD John Martyn download set offered for pennies across the web

A recently released 17 cd box set, “The Island Years”, collecting most of the recorded works of singer, songwriter and guitarist John Martyn (who died in 2009) is being offered at download stores from just £1.29 – which is just over 7.5p per CD and less than 0.5p per track.


The offers, which have been available for several days, are on reputable download stores including Google Play, Amazon MP3 and Rakuten


The physical box is around £150 which suggests that the bargain offers are some kind of mistake, but one that is replicated around the web on different music stores. Did someone at Universal Music mis-tap a number? Or is it a sign of some kind of automatic pricing algorithm, where one store sets a wrong price, and the others replicate it so as not to be outdone?

Or maybe someone is a John Martyn fan and wants the widest possible audience for what is a remarkable body of work? No, scrap that idea.




Adobe’s security calamity: 2.9 million customer account details accessed

Adobe has reported a major security breach. According to the FAQ:

Our investigation currently indicates that the attackers accessed Adobe customer IDs and encrypted passwords on our systems. We also believe the attackers removed from our systems certain information relating to 2.9 million Adobe customers, including customer names, encrypted credit or debit card numbers, expiration dates, and other information relating to customer orders. At this time, we do not believe the attackers removed decrypted credit or debit card numbers from our systems.

We are also investigating the illegal access to source code of numerous Adobe products. Based on our findings to date, we are not aware of any specific increased risk to customers as a result of this incident.

A few observations.

  • If the criminals downloaded 2.9 million customer details with name, address and credit card details the risk of fraud is substantial. Encryption is good of course, but if you have a large body of encrypted information which you can attack at your leisure then it may well be cracked. Adobe has not told us how strong the encryption is.
  • The FAQ is full of non-answers. Like, question: how did this happen? answer, Our investigation is still ongoing.
  • Apparently if Adobe thinks your credit card details were stolen you will get a letter. That seems odd to me, unless Adobe is also contacting affected customers by email or telephone. Letters are slow and not all that reliable since people move regularly (though I suppose if the address on file is wrong then the credit card information may well be of little use.)
  • Adobe says source code was stolen too. This intrigues me. What is the value of the source code? It might help a criminal crack the protection scheme, or find new ways to attack users with malicious PDF documents. A few people in the world might even be interested to see how certain features of say Photoshop are implemented in order to assist with coding a rival product, but finding that sort of buyer might be challenging.
  • Is the vulnerability which enabled the breach now fixed? Another question not answered in the FAQ. Making major changes quickly to such a large system would be difficult, but it all depends what enabled the breach which we do not know.
  • I’d like to see an option not to store credit card details, but to enter them afresh for each transaction. Hassle of course, and not so good for inertia marketing, but more secure.

Sunspider JavaScript Benchmark on 4 models of Microsoft Surface

Today I got my first sight of Microsoft’s new models of Surface, its Windows tablet, on display at the Microsoft Store in Bellevue.


I ran the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark on the new models, and then on the old ones for comparison.

  • Surface RT 1.0: 922ms
  • Surface 2.0 (RT): 397ms
  • Surface Pro: 127ms
  • Surface Pro 2.: 114ms

No surprises; but what this confirms is that Surface 2.0 RT, which has an NVIDIA Tegra 4 chipset, is substantially faster than the earlier Tegra 3 model; whereas Surface Pro which has an updated Intel Core i5 processor is only a little faster on this particular test.

Microsoft is attempting to continue selling Surface RT alongside Surface 2.0 RT, at $349 vs $449 for the 32GB model. However the new one is a better buy and I imagine the price of the earlier model will fall further, given that Microsoft appears still to have substantial stocks.

Windows 8.1 and cloud-centric computing

If your iPad breaks or gets stolen, it’s bad but not that bad. The chances are that there is no data on the iPad that is not copied elsewhere, especially if you let Apple’s iCloud do its default thing and copy everything you create. Get a new iPad, sign in, and you can carry on where you left off; the apps are there, the data is there too, even if you do not actually have a backup of the device itself.

Google’s Chromebook goes even further in this direction. When you sign into the device you sign into Google and all your data is there.

This kind of freedom from worry about losing apps or data stored on the device seems to be Microsoft’s goal with Windows as well, though it is more difficult because historically applications have complex local installs, sometimes protected by activation tied to the PC itself, and data is stored locally in your user folders – Documents, Pictures, Music and so on – or in some cases elsewhere, depending on how well behaved the application is. In order to defend against data loss if the PC is lost or damaged, you have to keep regular backups, or make a conscious effort not to store data locally.

Windows 8.1 includes a significant change. It is optional, but the default is that documents save to SkyDrive (note that the name will change soon) by default.


This is in addition to synchronisation of settings, passwords and application data. Again, SkyDrive is where this data gets stored. You can see and control what is synchronised in Charms – PC Settings – SkyDrive -  Sync Settings:


The list is extensive and includes web browser favourites (provided you use Internet Explorer) and “settings and purchases” within apps. Note that apps in this context means new-style Windows Store apps, not desktop applications. Separately, there is a Camera Roll setting that syncs images and optionally videos from the Camera Roll folder in your  Pictures folder.

How close then is Window 8.1 to a cloud-centric experience, where you could thrown your machine in the bin, buy another one, sign in and carry on where you left off?

It is getting there, but in practice there are plenty of snags and oddities. The big one is desktop apps, of course, which do not participate in this synchronisation other than via SkyDrive if you save documents there. You will have to reinstall the applications as well as reconfigure them. That said, certain desktop applications now have a subscription model. Two big examples are Microsoft Office, if you buy via an Office 365 subscription, and Adobe’s Creative Cloud which includes Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Audition and so on. Using cloud-aware applications such as these helps, but it is not seamless. For example, in Office 2013 I have to reconfigure the Quick Access Toolbar and copy my custom templates manually to a new machine.

New-style apps do roam to a new machine and you can now use them on up to 81 different machines, which should be enough for anyone. Note though that your apps, which are listed when you sign into a new machine with a Microsoft account , are not actually installed until you run them for the first time. Not a problem is you are on the internet, but worth knowing before you catch that flight. In the following example, only two of the apps are actually installed:


Microsoft takes a similar approach with SkyDrive documents. The feature called SkyDrive “smart files”, described here, means that documents are by default only available online. I can see this catching people out, especially with pictures, for which a thumbnail shows even when the actual picture has not yet been downloaded. Here are some pictures I took at Microsoft Build in June; they are on SkyDrive but although they look as if they are on my PC a message in the status bar says “Available online only.”


A nice feature in terms of seamlessly connecting to cloud storage without filling your local hard drive (or often, small SSD drive), provided you understand it. Of course, you can mark a file or folder to be available offline if you choose, in which case it is downloaded.

Some things are confusing. If you have a domain-joined machine then passwords do not sync, which makes sense for security, but also raises the question of what all this consumer SkyDrive stuff is doing on a domain-joined machine anyway? Of course there are other ways of doing something similar in domain environments:

  • Settings determined by Group Policy
  • Default document location set to corporate shared folder
  • Roaming profiles

The odd thing though is that you can link a Microsoft account (SkyDrive, App Store account) to a domain account and you then end up with a mixture of consumer and corporate features which work in different ways. It would be tempting simply to block the use of Microsoft accounts completely – which you can do with group policy – especially if you are concerned about sensitive corporate documents arriving on consumer cloud services and mobile devices through the magic of sync.

It is also confusing that Office 365 users cannot use SharePoint in Office 365 to sync settings.

I also feel that the user interface in Windows 8.1 needs some work in this area. Here are some things I find odd:

Applications like Paint and Notepad use a principle of “default to where you last saved.” This means that even if you set SkyDrive as the default document location, if you save once to the documents or pictures folder on the PC, it will default to that local destination next time you use it.

Since both SkyDrive and the local PC have a folder called Documents, it would be easy not to notice.

Office 2013 is even more confusing. I have Office 365, so when I hit save in Word I get offered Office 365 SharePoint, SkyDrive, “Other web locations” which includes an on-premise SharePoint, and Computer. Oddly, if I hit Computer, the default location is SkyDrive:


Much of this confusion is a legacy problem as Microsoft attempts to transition Windows to become a cloud-centric OS, but it could be better done. I would suggest clear naming to help users know whether a save location is local or cloud. Most of all, I would like to see consistency between consumer and corporate deployments so that a domain-joined PC can have the same options that work in the same way, except that data is stored to a corporate location.