Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Clearing out Windows 8 Usability FUD

Tuesday, 20 November 2012
I am using a Windows 8 for half a year, right from its Developer Preview and it has grown on me to such an extent that now I can't switch back to Windows 7. I don't have touch based tablet. I am using it on my laptop with track pad.  I blogged below video earlier explaining how Windows 8 works great with mouse. If you have not watched the video I will suggest you to watch it first and get all doubts cleared and then decide yourself how it feels


I believe this video is enough to prove that Windows 8 works great with mouse and keyboard. But there are many articles on the web saying how new user interface of Windows 8 is poor, productivity killer. So I am writing this post as a comparison to one such post floating on the web: Windows 8 — Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users. It very well proves how Windows 8 user interface is just bad. The author of the post has an authorative voice in UX design field. In no case, I want to judge his credibility. But I feel my 5-6 months of experience with Windows 8 also gives me some authority. So I am putting my thoughts here. Instead of looking this as a fight between Windows/Microsoft lovers and haters, it is better to analyze facts and come to decision. So I will focus on that. At the end of this post, I talk about very hot usability topic - Start menu vs Start Screen. 

Also I will prefer to ask trying Windows 8 at least for a week. Within a week, I am sure it will grow on you and you will simply forget Windows 7. And this is the best way to judge anything instead of reading any comparison and directly coming to conclusion.

With that I will now discuss the usability features of Windows 8.

Windows 8 UI in nutshell
  1. Basically, Windows 8 is Windows with Start menu replaced with Start Screen. Apps you install from Windows Store run full screen (with no title/status bar) and are touch optimized. The traditional apps like VLC, Calculator, Adobe PDF reader run as they were - with desktop behind them. 
  2. Swipe from left edge for switching between apps.
  3. Swipe from right to reveal Charms bar which contains options generally common to all apps, for example, share between apps, search in app, app settings, and interfacing app with some hardware
  4. Swipe from top or bottom edge to reveal App Bar which contains app specific options - for example in People app - option to filter notifications from Twitter and facebook or if you have selected some text in an app, then swiping from top/bottom may open up text editing options. 
One thing is sure Windows 8 has some new usability features. So learning them is ought to be there. But I don't think understanding above facts and the video takes even 10 minutes. All gestures are intuitive and if you use it for a day they will simply become a subconscious routines. 

Double desktop = Cognitive Overhead or Great Capabilities

  1. Cognitive overhead in switching between environments (ohh, better you should not call it two environment, its just a desktop and a new Start screen) - If you ever have used Windows, then it must be obvious how to pop up Start menu - Windows key. And it must also be obvious how to go back to your desktop Windows+D. Both Windows key and Windows+D are there right from Windows XP, that means at least they are decade old. So at least switching between two environment should not cause any cognitive overhead.
  2. Time cost needed to switch between Start screen and desktop  -  I will call it minimal as it is just hitting a Windows key. Yeah its just Windows key. You dont even need to hit Windows+D combination. Now you will ask how is that intuitive? Ok, what you did to push down Start menu? Hit Windows key again, right? Its just that. The fuss is caused because everyone is forced to imagine Start screen as something drastically new and difficult to understand environment. Yes it is really powerful Screen, but surely everything you did with Start menu can equally intuitively and easily done with Start screen.
  3. Inconsistency in environment  -  This is really a big topic. First, better call it Desktop and Start screen. We are very well aware of the fact that we run "Apps" on tablets and mobiles and run "Softwares" on laptops/desktops. Apps (be it email client, chat client,a news app) are meant for information consumption and softwares (Microsoft Office,IDEs,video editors and many other) are meant creation/developemnt. Obviously we don't interact with both types of programs in a same manner. We need better capability to choose options from complex UI layout in softwares. That is why we use them on laptop and desktop with trackpad and mouse. Apps being concentrated to information consumption, they involve relatively less interactions or better to say less complex interactions and hence they work with touch. Now Windows 8 is meant to provide best of both words. And we know best of both worlds already. We have used all laptops,desktops, and touch devices for many year. To be very clear there is nothing - absolutely nothing new with interacting with desktop apps. All software: Office, VLC, Adobe PDF reader, Calculator all work the same way as they were right from Windows XP. Now come to touch optimized apps they are like apps on any touch device. What might be new to you is that there are new gesture and to be very clear - swiping from edges - but thats it. But again they are swiping gestures - nothing new. Its very obvious that two types of programs - desktop apps and touch apps work differently. But given that we are using both of them for many years it must not be a big deal to switch between them. Whats really new here is that we were using them on two different devices until now and with Windows 8 we can use both of them on the same device. Now you decide whats good. 

Lack of Multiple Windows.... vs fairly enough number of windows

Just have a look how I multitask while chatting with my friend:

I believe ability to work in three windows side by side so neatly is satisfying and I don't think I will be more productive if I find any options to fit in forth window in the same screen.

What is great is how easy it is to arrange these windows: I snapped Messages app to the right. Now on left I have desktop. I used Windows+Right arrow to snap Internet Explorer to right and Windows+Left arrow to snap Visual Studio to left. Yes, Windows+Right and Windows+Left works in snapped in desktop mode also - pretty neat. Of course you can fit in more windows, but then you have to do it by mouse manually. You can even snap two Metro apps side by side. 

Low Information Density vs Putting Only Consumable Enough Information on the screen

Its not low information density, but consumable amount of information in the best consumable manner / per screen.

This actually boils down to Metro Design Language and Metro Design Principles - originated in Zune devices then carried over to Windows Phone and now adapted in Windows 8. This is really a big field - UX designing, typography... The basic conception behind Metro is to make information consumption easy by:

  • reducing chrome
  • extensively using clean typographic cues for making things more intuitive
  • being authentically digital - meaning not attempting to replicate real world metaphor on devices as it is
  • being minimal and having things on screen only if they eases/enhances information consumption, if not just take them out of screen
  • use of intuitive and smooth motions
Its a very well thought design philosophy. We can do two things here: 
  • use apps following Metro design principles for a while and decide whether it is good or bad or
  • learn Metro design principles and language and decide.
For learning Metro for Windows 8 refer MSDN.
For learning Metro for Windows Phone refer 24 Weeks of Windows Phone Metro Design series

Now see what others think about these design principles and design language:
Finally there are articles on the web that go on visually comparing apps written for Windows Phone against their iOS and Android counterparts. You can have a look at them: 1, 2, 3

Now most of the above content is for Windows Phone. But both Windows 8 and Windows Phone follow Metro design principles and language. This follows at least if you think about information density. The best thing is to use them and decide yourself.

Overly Live Tiles Backfire vs. Improve Productivity

Again this deals with Metro. There are guidelines for tile designing. By guidelines all the app text or app logos on the tile very well align on bottom left corner with same margin - yeah guidelines are pretty strict.

But we can easily evaluate them: what you do to open My Computer? Do you read the full name - "My Computer" every time? Or you search for the symbol of My Computer? Or you know it is at top right corner of desktop, so just take pointer there and hit it? or just hit Windows+E? Ok when you see Start screen fair number of times, you will already know where the each tile is. Or if you are a poweruser, reluctant to get your hands away from keyboard- you will hit Windows key and type in Mai, Calc, Mes,.. (for Mail, Calculator, Messaging app) search will instantaneously show up the apps and you will hit Enter. To know how well it really works just watch video I prepared. Its not at all counter productive. I will talk more on this in last section of the post "Does Microsoft made mistake replacing Start Screen with Start menu?".

Flat Style Reduces Discoverability vs Eases Usability

A very deliberate pic:
It does not tell you anything about real context of this UI part, you don't know when it appears and where it appears and obviously you get no idea about what to do next.
Now, notice how upper part is chopped off:

As I said, swipes reveal options and options are obviously clickable. We don't think of options as anything long textual article, we see for where should I click next. In right edge swipe panel, there is a title (with a intuitive big font size) at the top with description of currently running app below it. As you can see, every text in that panel (apart from title "Settings" and description of an app below it) is clickable. Hence I think when you see the whole right-swipe panel, you will surely click on "Change PC Setting".

Charms Are Hidden Generic Commands vs Great Way To Bring Common Things At One Place

For at least a decade, right click menu was also a generic user interaction feature and also a hidden one - very analogous to Charms menu. Normal windows users always know that they can right click on every icon plus they know that depending on type of the file/program that icon represents, the right click menu is going to show different options.  Again right click menu is always out of sight but this does not mean that you forget it. So it is surely not out of your mind. 

The point here is how many time you summon right click menu - well whenever it needs to be. Similarly you will summon Charms whenever you want to share, search, change settings. How many time you change settings of any app? If you want to share a news/article/picture isn't it good to Swipe from right -> Hit Share -> and then select service on which you want to share. Strictly its Swipe+Click+Click - three gestures, no need to generate links (if picture/file is on SkyDrive say), no copying of links, no need to open another app to paste in link and share. Isn't that less fuss? Watch how you can use Share charm to tweet SkyDrive file or mail it.

Now the next point is that not all apps provide search and share capabilities. But this completely depends on the developer of an app. You can think of some obvious apps not providing such capabilities like painting apps, Camera app. But you can intuitively think of apps that must provide such abilities like Search in Windows store (to search apps), twitter apps like MetroTwit (to search #hashtags, twitter handles), News app (to share article).

I feel it is better to have well known approach to discover anything instead of knowing nothing. If you don't know whether an app supports any search/sharing/settings option you will straightaway head to Charms and will see if it is there.

Weather app - App Bar Usability perspective

Now let us talk about Weather app as a case study of usability of App Bar - one that opens up when you swipe in from top or bottom edge or when you right click anywhere on the app. First thing first, you should expect any app specific options in Apps Bar. Ehhh, I know I said that many times. But that is what all you need to know. If you want to know weather of any place other than default place detected by Windows, follow below steps:

Now that is a new way to find any app specific feature in App Bar, but is surely well defined way and you will get accustomed to it. What is great is that you can even pin a place to your start screen to know weather at that place. The same can be done in People app to pin your closer ones to Start Screen so that you are always up to date with them. And the great thing is that it follows same approach going through App Bar, when you get to the profile of your closer ones -> Swipe in from top or bottom -> Then select Pin to Start. The same can be done to pin a specific feed of News app to Start screen as shown below. 

What should we call this a consistency or a mess? With Metro, everything is well structured, well thought and well laid down in Windows 8 UI.

Error-Prone Gestures vs Intuitive Gestures

A video is worth thousand words. I don't have a tablet running Windows 8 but below video is really good. It is 7 minutes long, but first two minutes are enough to tell you how Windows 8 shines on tablet with touch.

Let me summarize gestures:
  • Swipe from top or bottom edge to reveal App Bar.
  • Swipe from right edge to reveal Charms Bar.
  • To move across Start Screen its obvious swipe right. Ok now you know you don't have to reach the right edge while moving across Start Screen. But I don't think while moving across Start Screen you will go long to the right edge of a device. Do you go so long to touch the top or bottom border of iPad's screen while scrolling down any webpage. So its rare that you will jumble between scrolling Start Screen horizontally and revealing Charms bar. 
  • To close an app drag it down from top to bottom. You will not jumble it with revealing App Bar since you will have your finger touching the screen all the time dragging it from top to bottom. While revealing App bar you don't bring finger all the way down to the bottom of screen. At least this gesture is surely easier than four finger gesture for iPad to close an app.
  • To switch to last app, just swipe in from left edge. To get the list of running Metro apps, just swipe in from left and continue back the same gesture in opposite direction. Its like moving thumb left and then right.
  • And at last if you don't digest this all stuff, there is decade old Alt+Tab which allows to switch between all apps (desktop and Metro apps). 
  • Now if you want to switch between just Metro app, you can try Windows Key+Tab.

I really dont think anything is difficult here. All are just swipes and they are surely intuitive - if you swipe in from any edge it is going to reveal a panel/bar from that edge only, it will not do any non-intuitive funky thing.

Did Microsoft made mistake replacing Start Screen with Start menu?

Again I don't think. One thing is sure: Start Screen is better than Start menu when it comes to touch. Do you remember you can pin apps in small area above Search box in Start menu. With Windows 8 that area is Start Screen. What I mean is that - in Start menu you were able to pin small number apps, with Start Screen you can pin any number of them, plus you can group them neatly, plus they will show live update on tiles. Now let us see if it requires more clicks. 

  • For pinned apps:
    • In Start menu, you hit Windows key -> Click on pinned app.
    • In Start screen, you hit Windows key -> Click on pinned app on Start screen. Here it is same.
  • When app is not pinned:
    • In start menu, you hit Windows key -> Click on All Programs -> Click on program group (if the app has a program group) -> Click on app icon
    • In Start screen, you can have as many apps pinned as possible. So mostly you end up with same sequence as above: hit Windows key -> Click on pinned app on Start screen. So in fact two click are reduced and I feel this will be the major usage scenario while accessing Start menu/screen.
  • If you are power user reluctant to take your hands away from keyboard, what you do is hit Windows key, type in initials of app/software in search box of Start menu and hit Enter to run that app. Exactly same works with Start screen.

Now, don't forget what you can pin to Start screen: hyperlinks to launch website in default browser,  peoples (from same People app) to launch their updates in People app, weather places, folder location, different news feeds (from same News app). And if you love to customize things madly, you can pin custom commands like say hibernate, sleep, restart right to your start screen as explained here. So in fact there is really a great capability built with Start screen. Again, what you can pin is all dependent on developer of different apps, so there is really no real limit to that. 

Rethinking it all again

Let us get out of the context of Windows 8 critics. Let us forget them and think what is true. 

Very truly talking, the whole decade old PC experience is still there in its original form. You can use all desktop apps the way you were using for more than a decade. So genuinely there can be only two possible reasons if anyone say it sucks with mouse and keyboard:
  1. Switching between Start screen and desktop in Windows 8 -  And as I wrote above, this is still done by hitting a decade old Windows key, so at least this cannot be a problem.
  2. The next is whether Start screen itself sucks - And above section in my post proves that start screen actually makes it fast.
If you think Windows 8 sucks with mouse and keyboard watch the first video. If you think it sucks with touch, watch the last video in this post. If you still think it sucks, then please feel free to comment about exactly where you think so.

Friday, 9 November 2012

CSS3 text-shadow property

Friday, 9 November 2012
Understanding CSS3 shadow property

Below all are CSS3 shadow effect. I have put the CSS code here. But if you want to see page source, you better download cleaner html file, since the page source of this article contains a lot of extra styling information as I crafted it in blogger. 

First six examples explain vertical and horizontal positioning of the shadow works. Essentially they are similar with different positions of the shadow. The remaining examples illustrate the capability of this CSS3 property. 

1. In below code, 
        0em - means shadow is not horizontally skewed, it is exactly vertically aligned   
                   with the text. Second value, 
        0.2em - means the shadow will appear below the text (since the value is positive) by   
        #0e0bf7 - is hex value for a shadow color
        <span style="text-shadow: 0em 0.2em #0e0bf7;">CSS   
        CSS Shadow

2. In below code,
        1em - means the shadow will appear right skewed (since the value is positive) by 1em
        0.2em - means the shadow will appear below the text (since the value is positive) by   
       #87bb04- is hex value for shadow color
       <span style="text-shadow: 1em 0.2em #87bb04;">CSS 
           CSS Shadow

3. In below code,
        1em - means the shadow will appear right skewed (since the value is positive) by 1em
        1em - means the shadow will appear below the text (since the value is positive) by   
       #f00- is hex value for a red shadow color
         <span style="text-shadow: 1em 1em #87bb04;">CSS 
           CSS Shadow

4. In below code,
        -1em - means the shadow will appear left skewed (since the value is negative) by 1em
        1em - means the shadow will appear below the text (since the value is positive) by   
       #fc04f7- is hex value for a shadow color
         <span style="text-shadow: -1em 1em #fc04f7;">CSS 
           CSS Shadow

5. In below code,
        -1em - means the shadow will appear left skewed (since the value is negative) by 1em
        0em - means the shadow will appear in the same line of the text
       #fc04f7- is hex value for a shadow color
         <span style="text-shadow: -1em 0em #ff6a00;">CSS 
           CSS Shadow

6. In below code,
        -1em - means the shadow will appear left skewed (since the value is negative) by 1em
        -1em - means the shadow will appear above the text (since the value is negative) by   
       #05b4a3- is hex value for a shadow color
         <span style="text-shadow: -1em -1em #05b4a3;">CSS 

           CSS Shadow

7. Fuzzy text shadow effect
    Below the highlighted value 0.15em is an amount of desired spread of shadow edges or 
    simply shadow fuzziness value.
         <span style="text-shadow: 0.5em 0.5em 0.15em #808080;">CSS 
       CSS Shadow

8. Multiple Shadows - separate multiple shadow specs by comma
         <span style="text-shadow: 0.1em 0.1em 0.2em #f00,0.1em -0.1em 
          0.2em #0e0bf7">CSS Shadow</span> 
       CSS Shadow

9. Another example
         <span style="color: white; text-shadow: 0.1em 0.1em 0.2em 
         black;">CSS Shadow</span>     
       CSS Shadow
10. Inset and outset effects with shadows
           <div style="display: block;background: #c2bfbf;">
        <span style="color:#808080;text-shadow: 1px 1px white, -1px -1px   
              #444">Inset</span> <br />
        <span style="color:#808080;text-shadow: -1px -1px white, 1px 1px  

11. Neon glow (light & heavy intensity)  
      Glow effect can be achieved by having shadow very close to text (that is smaller 
      horizontal and vertical skew values) and with more spreading. For intense glow, simply 
      specify same shadow specifications multiple time.
             <span style="text-shadow: 0.1em 0.1em 0.2em blue;">CSS 
             <span style="text-shadow: 0.1em 0.1em 0.2em blue,0.1em 0.1em 0.2em 
            blue,0.1em 0.1em 0.2em blue;">CSS Shadow</span>
         CSS Shadow
       CSS Shadow

12. Outlining text with shadows
      Show four shadows, one on each side of the text with very small horizontal and vertical    
      skew values.
             <span style="color:fc04f7;text-shadow: 1px 1px black,1px -1px 
             black,-1px -1px black,-1px 1px black;">CSS Shadow</span>  
         CSS Shadow

13. Fire effect using multiple shadows
      One main point to remember here is to ensure that spread value increases as the color   
      shades moves away from text so that it mixes with the background well.
      <div style="display:block;background:black"><br />
         <span style="color: white;text-shadow:0 0 4px white, 0 -5px 4px 
               #FF3, 2px -10px 6px #FD3, -2px -15px 11px #F80, 2px -25px  
               18px #F20;">CSS Shadow</span>
         <br /><br />

       CSS Shadow

Thursday, 6 September 2012

GMail vs Outlook.com

Thursday, 6 September 2012
Initially I used YMail. It was good. Especially its new tabbed interface is great. Dragging dropping the email into the folder was one of good features in YMail. Then I tried GMail just because many of my friends use it. I started loving it. It is clean and neat. Google Docs are great and now Google Drive works just fine.

Microsoft's original mailing service hotmail.com was re-branded as live.com. Microsoft again renamed its Live mailing service to Outlook. I have Live account for many years, but I rarely use it, because it was nowhere better than YMail and GMail. But with re-branding live.com as outlook.com, Microsoft done good efforts to revamp the whole user interface of their mailing service. So I thought to start using it. And I realized its pretty good. The workflow is much streamlined and straight forward.

Quickly create common filters in Outlook.com
I subscribed to many technical newsletters using my Live Id. So, the next big hurdle was to clear my inbox. I had more that 4000 mails (mostly newsletters) in my mail box. And in fact thats the thing that was making me not to use Live ID. But as I started cleaning my Inbox I realized that things are quite easy. It took just an hour to completely clean my inbox to 0 mails taking mail from each sender to their respective folder by creating 68 different filter rules. 

Outlook neatly recognizes that filters that are mostly created are to move the incoming mails to their respective folder. So they have made it easy to create such  filters in just 4 clicks. With GMail, you may need couple of more clicks per filter. This may become a big effort if you are to create many filters to clean your inbox. 

Outlook.com - Creating filter to move mails from a  particular sender to a particular folder:

Equivalent GMail filter creation:

However, you can see GMail provides capability to configure details of a filter in the same UI above. In Outlook, if you want to create filters with more detailed settings you need to go to More Settings menu as shown below:

Create Sweep rules in Outlook.com
Outlook.com also allows to create Sweep rules, with which we ensure that mails from particular sender lives in Inbox for certain days say 10 days and after 10 days they will be moved to a particular folder. These rules can be created as follows:

This is possible with GMail, however GMail allows to specify number of days to keep mails in inbox before moving to the particular folder in the filter settings itself.

In fact distinguishing filters from sweep rules makes them confusing. I feel there is no need to perform such differentiation. Outlook does not allow to specify constraint like "Apply after email stays in inbox for x days" in filter editor.

Quickly and neatly search mails
Outlook.com allows to quickly search all emails from a particular sender as in below video. It also allows to perform Advanced Mail Search:

Doing same in GMail surely requires couple of more clicks.

Chat with friends online on facebook right from your Inbox
When you connect outlook account with Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, it consolidates all the information like their email addresses, facebook page, phone number, residential addressesm twitter handles in People hub accessible from Inbox. If your friend is online on facebook, you can chat with him right from your inbox. This is a chat I tried first time with my friend online on facebook through outlook account:

GMail is integrated with Google+. However if most of your friends are on facebook, then you may prefer Outlook. However, Outlook does not allow to connect your inbox with services other than twitter, LinkedIn, facebook (and of course GMail). The most notable omission is YMail.

Instant Actions to delete/flag emails in one click
Instant actions fades in when you hover on the email. They allow to delete the mail, flag the mail, mark it as read/unread in one click. This simply reduces an extra click per email against two clicks in gmail:

Of course we can customize these Instant Actions in settings.

In built Slide show viewer
Outlook.com can show up the images sent in attachments as a slideshow. Though this feature is available in YMail, it is usually slow and tricky. GMail doesnt creates the slideshow of the images in the attachments. Instead it simply shows up all of them on a plain page separated by horizontal rules. Outlook also plays the youtube links in a built player, though this is possible very well in GMail.

SkyDrive Integration
Outlook provides easy access to SkyDrive, which is also revamped with similar neat and clean user interface. My favorite feature is their built in URL shortner to share document. 
Google Drive currently lacks such facility. However both are comparable in terms of their functionality. SkyDrive also provides 7GB of free storage which is maximum across all the cloud storage services out there.

So SkyDrive scores more when it comes to the user experience, the built in URL shortner and the free storage. While I like Google Docs more because of there sheer speed, though Office Web Apps also works great and have comparable editing features.

Other things
There are many things that can be compared just because these services provide many things in many different ways. For example you cannot drag drop the mails to the folder in GMail while this is possible in Outlook and even in YMail. On the other side, GMail provides more functionalities and settings, while Outlook provides very clean and intuitive UI. In GMail, you may find yourself searching some options in settings for long time, while in Outlook, you can find them quickly. Outlook also provides great feature to create aliases to your id. 
When you create alias, Outlook also asks whether you want to create separate folder to store all emails destined to that alias or to simply put those mails in Inbox. This also takes far less clicks and no page refreshes.

When it comes to connecting many services and some other options GMail is great. But when it comes to core mail handling, Outlook provides quicker ways to do things. 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Ouch, my new wireless router block some sites, oh it is blocking microsoft.com !$!$ 

I was using a ADSL broadband connection from India's largest ISP - BSNL. I was using an ancient modem/router to connect to Internet - Pronet PN-ADSL 101E/U:
As you can see below it has only one RJ45 out. So I was able to connect only one PC at a time. And currently I have two desktops and a laptop. So it was really headache to wait till my dad or brother accessing Internet on other PC.
So I decided to buy a new one. I went for a ADSL-less wireless router, since I wanted to ensure that the new one will work with cable net too (in case I change my ISP). So I bought TP-LINK wireless router: TL-WR941ND on Flipkart:
I configured my ADSL modem/router in bridge through its management console 
To open management console of any router, you have to connect to it through wire. You cannot configure router when you are connected wirelessly. 
Management console of old modem/routers usually opens up when you put  in the browser's address bar. If it doesnt open up, you may need to change the IP address of your NIC to something (the last number can be anything but not 1), subnet mask to and the default gateway to
For new routers the address for management console may be different (You can also try Usually you can find the default domain name in the router's manual. This domain name can be put in the browser's address bar instead of IP address. For example my new routers user guide says that default domain name is http://tplinklogin.net, the default IP address is
When you put appropriate address, it asks for username and password which is usually admin and admin for most routers (check manual if it does not work ). 
The bridging option can be done in management console. Generally the option shows in  the Advanced Network Setup option. ( However different routers have different management console layout, so just check the manual ):
Then I setup router in following way:
Connecting the output of my old router to input WAN RJ45 of new router and then connecting my PC to anyone of the LAN ports of new router. Then I configured the new router in PPPoE through its management console and entered the username and password so that my new router will automatically login to the connection from my old router:
Oh yes, if you have changed your PC's IP address using procedure above while trying to open up your router's management console, change it to "Obtain an IP address automatically" (thats what usually ISPs do, but you may need to check with your ISP):
With that done I was able to connect my new router both through wire and wirelessly, but then there was a problem - it is not allowing access to some sites. Most notably yahoo.com (though ymail was working ), msn.com and yeah microsoft.com toooo. So that was seriously unacceptable. I did quick google and got some suggestions like adding rules to router to allow some ports. I did many of them but none worked. After hours of search I read something about Maximum Transfer Unit (MTU):
MTU of a communications protocol of a layer is the size (in bytes) of the largest protocol data unit that the layer can pass onwards. If the MTU size set in your router exceeds that can be handled by the devices at the backbone or by your ISP, then it may lead to packet retransmissions or eventually some sites getting blocked (at the router which cannot handle the bigger MTU sizes). Too small size may lead to excessive fragmentation, header overhead and acknowledgements.
Some sites went on saying:
The usual minimum MTU size for dial-ups is 576. So, with MTU = 576, possibility that the problem is solved is more. So change the MTU size to 576 and then go on increasing it by ten while checking whether connection works or not. The optimal MTU size will be the maximum one where router shows up all the websites.
Changing MTU to 576 surprisingly worked for me, but then I went to check out what will be the optimal MTU size. So the obvious idea was to check the MTU of the old router. First I connected my PC back directly to the old router. But the old routers' management console was so dumb that it did not showed anything called MTU (forget about changing MTU size). So I went on checking the other ways to check MTU size for the old router. And fortunately I found some DOS commands. This one really worked for me:
                   C:\Users\Mahesha999>netsh interface ipv4 show subinterfaces     
I realized that the MTU size for my connection was 1460:
So I just went to the management console of new router (of course I connected my routers back in the setup showed above) and changed the MTU size from the default of 1480 to 1460:
And finally things started all working. That difference of 20 bytes was making all the mess!!! Now I can access all sites and yes microsoft.com too!!!!