Windows 8.1

Build an App for Windows 8.1 with the Microsoft Project Siena Beta


Microsoft just gave Windows 8.1 users who aren’t coding experts or developers a nice holiday gift. The Microsoft Project Siena beta was released yesterday as a free app in the Windows Store.

Microsoft characterizes the app as:


Siena apps are as easy as editing a document. You place some visuals on a canvas. You hook them up to your data. You customize how your app looks and works. Then, if you need special logic and intelligence, you write some Excel-like expressions. You can use your app immediately, or share it with colleagues or the world.

With Siena, you can conceptualize, validate and build your app ideas almost as fast as you can come up with them. And if your needs change tomorrow, updating your app is no problem. Open it. Change it. Share it again, and you’re off to do business.

Siena works well with corporate and web data and media content: SharePoint lists, Excel and Azure tables, RSS feeds and the gamut of RESTful services.

Siena apps are just HTML5 and JavaScript and are deployed and managed like any other Windows 8.x app. In fact, developers can open them up, see what’s there and, if needed, extend them in their favorite programming tools.


The app is visually driven and easy to use and it seems reasonably self explanatory for anyone with decent skills in constructing documents in Microsoft Word and Excel. And while the app is a beta (some things aren’t fully supported yet) – I was particularly looking to see what capabilities were there to use RSS feeds – but I’m sure more and better is on the way.

I decided to see what I could do to create a Holiday Greeting card for my Internet friends.


It was pretty easy to manipulate graphics and add audio and specify page transitions and event driven navigation.


The app generates an exe to install on the machine on which it was created and also allows you to build an installable appx hierarchy that can be distributed and used by anyone running Windows 8.1. Note that to install apps distributed in this manner, you’ll need a dev license for the computer on which you wish to install (easy, part of the install process) and need to open with powershell and follow the prompts.


So from me to you, download my 2013 holiday greeting!

Windows 8.1 Photos App Crash Fix Steps


It’s obvious from the number of posts and threads in Microsoft Communities that the Photos App in Windows 8.1, besides having been gutted of features loved by many, that QA on this app pretty much didn’t happen and customers are suffering.

Symptoms include (but are not limited to)


  • attempting to open the Photos App and immediately crashing back to the Start screen
  • message from Photos “please try again later”
  • message “your SkyDrive could not be created”
  • message “no content found”



Following is a collection of fixes and issues.


Before trying these fixes, make sure the Photos App is not running. I recommend that you restart your computer or tablet which will insure that Photos is closed.


1. Photos App Opens but No Content is found

This could be a corrupt/damaged library issue.


a. Open Windows File Explorer on the classic desktop.

b. Select the Navigation pane and insure all options are checked, especially Show Libraries





c. Now Navigate to Libraries (shown in Purple) and right click Pictures (tap and hold on a tablet) and then select Delete. Be sure you are in the Libraries hierarchy before you do this.



d. Now restore default libraries by right clicking on Libraries and then selecting Restore default libraries




2. Manually Rebuild the Index


If after performing Step 1 there is no content in the Photos App, try rebuilding the Index.


a. On the Start screen, type or search for indexing


b. Select Indexing Options and then select Advanced in the Indexing Options window



c.  In the Advanced Options window, select Rebuild. This will take some time. You can continue to use your computer, but this will slow down the process.



3. Indexing Can’t Run or the Photos App Crashes on Startup


If the  Windows Search Service is not running, the Photos App may crash on startup in Windows 8.1. To start the service:


a. Type or Search for services.msc on the Start screen and then select it



b. Scroll down in the Services Window and verify that Windows Search is running.



c. If it is disabled, right click it, select Properties and set it to Automatic (Delayed Start) and verify it is started.



d. Restart your computer or tablet and try Step 2 again.


4. Can’t Start the Windows Search Service or File Not Found Error

Some Registry tools like iolo System Mechanic and PC Doctor have reportedly damaged the registry and prevent Windows Search from starting. It has also been reported that some vendor utilities that ship with computers with SSD drives turn Windows Search off.


a. If you have used a utility as described above, undo the changes made. My opinion is that most third party registry tools do more harm than good (and this current situation is just but one example).


b. If you can’t undo the changes or un-doing the changes does not work, it has been reported that there is a registry fix that may resolve the issue. I have not tried this personally, but there are many confirmations that it does work. See the reply marked as Answer in this thread on Microsoft Communities. My recommendation is that if you try this fix (which I will repost below) that you first back up the registry and export the original key so that you have a way back. Using the registry editor is not something you should do unless you understand the consequences.

Find this key


HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Search\FileChangeClientConfigs\{A010C594-BAB6-4690-952C-28A0C0365307} value=ScopeToMonitor


Rename it to


HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Search\FileChangeClientConfigBAK\{A010C594-BAB6-4690-952C-28A0C0365307} value=ScopeToMonitor

c. Restart your computer and then attempt to start the Windows Search Service (Step 3).


5. Photos App Still Crashes on Start Up After Performing above Steps


It has been reported that if a firewall rule blocks access to SkyDrive that the Photos App crashes on start. If you can change the rule, it may resolve the problem.


You can let me know on twitter @barbbowman if any of the above helped you resolve your issue or post in Microsoft Communities

Cyberlink’s DVD Mobile App trumps the Photos App in Windows 8.1


I really wanted to title this post “Microsoft ruined the Photos App in Windows 8.1 for me and many others, but if you spend $15, there is a wonderfully elegant app that not only returns the functionality that Microsoft amputated, but adds striking new functionality” but that’s way too long for a blog post title.

I’ve been dismayed since I first installed the Windows 8.1 Preview (and later 8.1 RTM) over the dramatic reduction in functionality, usability, and capabilities of the Windows 8.1 Photos App. Microsoft elected to redesign the app, removing much loved features like Facebook and Flickr integration, the Play To contract (so you can use the Play menu with DLNA capable DMRS’s) and in general ruined the experience for many people, as evidenced by

Microsoft’s implementation of including network folders on non Windows NAS boxes, or lack or implementation also is frustrating.

I’ve spent many months trying to figure out how to replace all the functionality Microsoft removed and for $15, have a solution I’m pretty happy with. If you feel as I do, run, don’t walk, and grab a copy of Cyberlink’s Power DVD Mobile App for Windows 8. Don’t let the name DVD Mobile fool you, this is a TRUE media hub, better than Microsoft’s, and better than anything else out there. There is a 15 day free trial, so you really have nothing to lose.

I rarely review software, and this is, by no means, a software review. I’m posting this because it does all of the things Microsoft removed from the Photos App and adds a few really nice features. I haven’t even tried the Music features yet. But I will I bought this app after seeing what it did for Photos and Videos after using it for 24 hours. It’s that good.

I installed the app and looked around. This app has a stunning visual presentation. The Most Recent screen is a mixed media collage of your collections..


There’s a lot of functionality in the Photos area, and you can view your photos in multiple ways.


There’s a really nice calendar view, and the screen shot below should be self explanatory.


One of my biggest complaints was about what Microsoft amputated from the 8.1 Photos App – Facebook and Flickr integration, and this App brings it all back.



My Facebook albums:


My Flickr Photostream



Bonus points – if your ‘Nix based NAS box has any kind of DLNA server (and many do), this app can display the content.



Microsoft didn’t implement the Play To contract in the Photos App in 8.1. This app does not have that flaw. Cyberlink did it right.




More bonus points: I’ve got some HD mkv files stored on a networked drive. Using Windows File explorer, I’m able to navigate to these network shares, tape and hold to display the shortcut menu and Open with this App, and these videos play with no delay. Better still, I can even stream them using Miracast to my Netgear Push2TV 3000 from within the Cyberlink app. Even more bonus points: HD mkv playback on my Surface 2.

How to Make Miracast work on Surface Pro


Microsoft broke Miracast for Surface Pro (original) users on Windows 8.1. They have not officially commented on this or provided any information on a fix. As pointed out on Twitter by Rafael Rivera, you can work around this by disabling and re-enabling your WiFi connection. Every time you want to use it. Hat tip to Paul Thurrott for letting the Twitterverse know that the Surface Pro 2 firmware and driver pack was available. (Note: there is still no new driver for the Surface 2 so the WiFi toggle is the only option).


Microsoft just released a Surface Pro 2 firmware and driver pack. This is NOT for the original Surface. At your own risk, you CAN download and extract the Marvell WLAN network driver (the chipset in both the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 is the same) and fix your issue instead of cooling your heels waiting for the Microsoft Surface team to even acknowledge the issue.

1. Download the  file from


2. Drill down to to the x64 folder inside the Marvell\WLAN\win81 folder    ..\\Marvell\WLAN\win81


3. Copy ONLY the x64 folder to another location or folder and rename it so you know what it is. Something like x64Marvell driver would be a good name.



4.Open Device Manager and expand to show the Marvell Wireless Network Controller



5. Right click/press and hold to display Properties and select the Driver tab, then select Update Driver.



6. Browser to the folder where the driver is located and click OK.



7.Windows display the path to the driver. Click Next and it will be installed.




8. Reboot when prompted.


9. If you open Device Manager, you will see the new driver



10. Windows will now find the Miracast device when you select Project. (If you did not try the previous work around of toggling WiFi off and on, you may need to use Add a wireless display the first time you want to you your Miracast device).



Specify the 50 images that Photos App 8.1 selects from for Live Tile

You read that correctly. Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Photos App by design won’t let you select what images are used on the Photos App Live Tile. Microsoft uses your 50 most recent images, regardless of location, which means they can be on your local PC or on SkyDrive and from the base of 50, randomly selects 5 to use as the Live Tile Slide Show (which changes every 24 hours only).


This was driving me crazy. Here is a semi-ugly work way to specify the pool of 50 images.


1. Pick the 50 images you want in this pool (these must be from folders IN your Library or on SkyDrive). Copy them to a NEW folder on your local computer.

2. Do NOT add this new folder to the Library – it is your backup.

3. Navigate to the images in the original location one at a time in Windows explorer.

4. Make sure the Details pane is displayed.

5. Change the year to something in the future.

6. Click/tap Save.(A progress bar may appear quickly)

pick 50

7. Do 49 more in the same manner


If you want to see the results right away, follow the steps in

Windows 10 users: Read this blog with my PWA (Progressive Web App) from the Windows Store

Read this blog with my Windows 8 App

Get the App