Sunday, December 25, 2011

Microsoft Firing on All Cylinders, Posts Record Quarter

It's been somewhat of a banner year so far for Microsoft, at least in terms of revenue. Driven by solid business and consumer demand, Microsoft announced record first quarter revenue of $17.37 billion for its first fiscal quarter ended September 30, 2011, representing a 7 percent increase from one year prior. It's also higher than what Wall Street was expecting.

"We saw customer demand across the breadth of our products, resulting in record first-quarter revenue and another quarter of solid EPS growth," said Peter Klein, chief financial officer at Microsoft. "Our product portfolio is performing well, and we’ve got an impressive pipeline of products and services that positions us well for future growth."

The Microsoft Business Division reported $5.62 billion in first quarter revenue, up 8 percent from one year ago when Microsoft launched Office 2010. Microsoft's Server & Tools segment grew 10 percent year-over-year to $4.25 billion, which marks the sixth consecutive quarter of double digit growth, and the company's Windows and Windows Live Division revenue increased 2 percent to $4.87 billion, a figure Microsoft says is "in line with the PC market."

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Motorola May Be Violating Another Microsoft Patent

Microsoft has scored another victory against the Android camp as the ITC confirmed a claim that Motorola is violating one of the company's patents.

The patent in question describes the creation of meeting requests with a scheduling function on mobile devices. the decision by the ITC is the second hit against Android within two days. Earlier this week, the ITC found that HTC violates an Apple patent and issued an injunction against the affected devices beginning in April.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hard drive manufacturers slash warranty periods

Computerworld - Seagate and Western Digital are cutting back on hard drive warranties, in some instances from five years to one, in order to save money or redirect it to product development.

Seagate's warranties on certain drives will be reduced as of Dec. 31, and WD will follow beginning Jan. 2. All drives shipped prior to those dates will continue to carry the current warranty term associated with the products.

The warranty period reductions, first reported by The Register, mean some of Seagate's and WD's most popular drives for desktops and laptops will no longer carry three- or five-year warranties.

In an email response to Computerworld, Seagate said it was reducing warranty periods as a way to standardize its terms "to be more consistent with those commonly applied throughout the consumer electronics and technology industries.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Microsoft slates Windows 8 beta for late February 2012

Company's app store to launch simultaneously, free apps only

Computerworld - Microsoft on Tuesday confirmed that it will release a public beta of Windows 8 in late February, 2012.

The company broke the news at a San Francisco developers event Tuesday, where Antoine Leblond, vice president of Windows Web services, touted Windows Store, the app market that will be the sole distribution channel for applications designed to run in Windows 8's new "Metro" interface.

Windows Store will open to the public at the same time Windows 8's beta ships, a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

While Microsoft has yet to talk about an official launch date for Windows 8, the beta's timing hints at a fall 2012 debut, assuming the company paces Windows 8's final development and testing as it did Windows 7's.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Intel's Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge Benchmarks Leaked

We get an early glimpse of the potential of the upcoming Ivy Bridge CPUs through initial benchmarks.

With the Intel's Ivy Bridge set to release around April 2012, Intel has reportedly begun sending official Ivy Bridge performance expectations to its partners, manufacturers and resellers. Xbit-labs has published a set of slides that are supposedly from Intel, but are not sanctioned for general public consumption. These could give us an early glimpse of what type of performance we might expect when Ivy Bridge hits the market.

The charts show the Intel Core i7-3770, which is a has 4 cores (8 threads) at 3.40 GHz, with 8MB L3 cache going up against the current Core i7-2600 with similar specifications. 

According to the chart, there is an improvement across the board with the new Core i7-3770 processor. Intel states the improvement is due to improved architecture and a higher turbo boost performance. This may be attributed to the new 22nm 3D Tri-Gate technology utilized with the upcoming processors.

    * 7% improvement in SYSmark 2012 score
    * 14% improvement in HDXPRT 2011 score
    * 15% improvement in Cinebench 11.5 score
    * 13% improvement in ProShow Gold 4.5 results
    * 25% improvement in Excel 2010 performance

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Friday, November 25, 2011

China Overtakes US in Smartphone Shipments

With China contributing such a huge chunk of the world’s human population and being the world’s largest cellphone market, it should not surprise anyone that it’s said to have overtaken the United States in smartphone shipments during the third quarter. According to research firm Strategy Analytics’ latest research, China is now the world’s largest smartphone market in terms of total shipments. Hit the jump for more.

“Smartphone shipments grew 58 percent sequentially to reach a record 23.9 million units in China during Q3 2011. In contrast, smartphone shipments fell 7 percent sequentially to reach 23.3 million units in the United States. China has overtaken the United States for the first time to become the world’s largest smartphone market by volume,” said Linda Sui, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

How will the disk shortage affect you?

Summary: Massive flooding has shut down disk giant Western Digital’s Thai plant. Asustek could run out of disks by the end of this month; Lenovo and Apple have issued warnings. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

We heard a similar story with the Japan earthquake/tsunami/meltdown disaster: plants offline; component shortages; widespread disruptions forecast. But somehow things have kept going for most vendors with the exception of Lexus, Toyota and Honda.

What’s real
There’s 4 feet of water in the WD plant. Even after the flood waters recede a substantial clean up is required: one analyst forecast 56 days of downtime.

That plant produces about half of WDs disks. WD produces about half of the world’s disks, so worst case we’re looking at a 25-30% reduction in global disk supply over the next 2-3 months.

Global production is ≈50 million drives a month, so the shortfall could be 30-50 million drives. Yeah, that would hurt.

Disk component suppliers have also been affected, but there’s less visibility into their condition. Worst-case so far: the vendor who makes most of the world’s spindle motors has a flooded plant.

But shortages of other critical components are possible, and could affect all vendors, not just WD. OTOH, other plants could ramp up to fill the void - and it would be in their financial interest to do so.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

HP unveils its first business ultrabook

The new ultrabook and other products come shortly after the company decided not to sell its PC business

IDG News Service - Hewlett-Packard introduced Wednesday its first business ultrabook, offering nine hours of battery life, a solid-state drive, and a security chip that protects data in email and information on the hard drive.

The roll out by HP comes less than a month after the company said that its Personal Systems Group (PSG), which deals in PCs, smartphones and tablets, will stay with the company. HP had earlier talked about evaluating options for this business.

The company also expanded Wednesday its ultraportable consumer notebook PC line with the HP Pavilion dm4, including a Beats Edition. Beats Audio technology was developed by HP in collaboration with artist and producer Dr. Dre, and chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine, the company said.

HP also introduced Envy 15, Envy 17, and Envy 17 3D notebooks, which will be available in the U.S. on Dec. 7, besides two wireless accessories.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

The Top 10 Best Laptops

Do you want to buy a laptop, but are daunted by the sheer number of choices out there? We winnow down your options to the top 10 best laptops available today.

Shopping for a laptop these days is a pretty daunting task. The sheer number of laptops available online or in a store's electronics section is enough to make your mind spin. Most people have a general idea of what their laptop should look like and what they want in terms of features, but are often intimidated by the choices available. That's where we come in.

The editors of test hundreds of systems each year to help you find the best laptop. There are a lot of laptops out there, from the large-screen desktop replacements to the lightweight ultraportables, and even netbooks, but all share common features. In this story, we help you narrow your choices by collecting the top 10 laptops on the market today.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

How Windows 8 Will Deal With Tons of CPU Cores

Windows 8 will be more hard"core" with multiple cores.

The growth in processing power hasn't come so much from ramping up the clock frequency, but rather in adding more cores and increasing efficiency.

With growing core counts and technologies such as HyperThreading, Windows' task manager needed to evolve in order to accommodate future hardware. The good news is that a revised Task Manager will be a part of Windows 8. Microsoft's Ryan Haveson, a group program manager on the User Experience team, last month gave a preview of what the Task Manager would look like when dealing with a ton of logical cores.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Seagate kills 5400 rpm desktop drives, all Barracudas now 7200 rpm

Computerworld - Seagate today announced that it's bumping the platter rotation speed in all of its flagship Barracuda desktop hard drives from 5400 rpm to 7200 rpm.

The move to 7200 rpm across the board for Barracudas also means that Seagate is the first company to offer a 1TB of capacity at that drive rotation speed.

The move away from 5400 rpm drives is based on the advent of a new read/write head technology that has allowed Seagate to squeeze more data onto a drive platter and still be able to read it.

In another development, Seagate said it will be converting its line of Barracuda XT 3.5-in. hard drives to a hybrid drive technology by adding NAND flash to the drives as a type of inexpensive cache. The most frequently used data is kept on the NAND flash board to increase performance.

Seagate already sells hybrid drives under its Momentus XT line, which has up to 500GB capacity. The Barracuda XT lineup includes models that have as much as 3TB of capacity. Seagate would not specify a date for the launch of the new Barracuda XT hybrid drives, saying only that its disclosure of the new line is to demonstrate it is committed to hybrid technology.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Microsoft to Windows XP: Please Die, Already

Microsoft is eager for Windows XP, its 10-year-old operating system, to fade into computing history. The sooner the better, in fact. But for that to happen, the Redmond company needs millions of XP users to drop creaky, old XP and migrate (hopefully) to Windows 7, or even to Windows 8, which won't arrive until next year.

Windows XP's demise may be proceeding steadily, but Redmond wants to pick up the pace. According to analytics firm Net Applications, XP finished September 2011 with a 50.5 percent share of all desktop operating systems, a drop of nearly 10 percent from just ten months earlier.

Microsoft has made it clear in recent weeks that it will be ending support for XP in April 2014, a hard deadline the company hopes will light a fire under enterprise customers still running XP on aging iron.

Redmond usually supports its operating systems for 10 years after their introduction. However, it made an exception in XP's case, extending the OS's lifespan by three years due to XP's popularity in the enterprise market.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Is Microsoft gunning for Yahoo again?

Computerworld - The will-they-or-won't-they questions are heating up again.

For weeks now, the blogosphere has been awash with speculation that Microsoft may make a new play to acquire Yahoo, which has seen significant upheaval since the firing of CEO Carol Bartz early last month.

The Wall Street Journal reported early Thursday that Microsoft execs are discussing a Yahoo acquisition. Citing unnamed sources, the Journal reported that Microsoft is working with Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm, to put together a bid for Yahoo.

Silver Lake Partners., a tech investor, has bought stakes in Skype, Seagate Technology and Avaya.

The newspaper reported that the deal being considered would include funding from banks and Silver Lake, along with a major investment from Microsoft.

After the report, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang said during a conference in Hong Kong that the company isn't up for sale.

Read full story...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ballmer feels lucky Microsoft didn't buy Yahoo in 2008

DG News Service - Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer feels intensely fortunate that his company's US$44 billion bid for Yahoo back in 2008 never materialized.

"Sometimes you're lucky," he said with a smile at Web 2.0 Summit, responding to a question from conference co-chair John Battelle.

Careful not to offend his search market partner, Ballmer put his comment in context, saying that any CEO would feel grateful for not making a major acquisition in the months prior to the global financial collapse that started in the second half of 2008.

"We would have been closing [the Yahoo deal right after] Lehman Brothers," Ballmer said, referring to the historical collapse of one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S. Microsoft made its offer for Yahoo in early 2008 and withdrew it several months later.

Of course, Yahoo has continued to struggle since 2008, when Microsoft made its acquisition bid, and this year Yahoo's fortunes have taken a more steep downturn. CEO Carol Bartz was fired last month, and this week the company announced that CTO Raymie Stata has been replaced, as the company struggles to emerge from years-long financial and technology funk.

Although Ballmer made a point of saying that "there are a lot of great things about Yahoo" and that he's very satisfied with Yahoo as a search partner, it's clear that Yahoo would be worth much less than what Microsoft offered for it in 2008.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Gartner: Lenovo Now 2nd-Largest Worldwide PC Vendor

Lenovo is now the second-largest PC vendor in the worldwide market for the first time.

ZoomWednesday Gartner Research said that worldwide PC shipments actually grew 3.2-percent in the third quarter of 2011 compared to the same quarter in 2010, totaling 91.8 million units. However Gartner also said that the numbers are actually lower than its earlier projection of a 5.1-percent growth during Q3 2011.

"The inventory buildup, which slowed growth the last four quarters, mostly cleared out during the third quarter of this year; however, the PC industry has been performing below normal seasonality," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "As expected, back-to-school PC sales were disappointing in mature markets, confirming that the consumer PC market continues to be weak. The popularity of non-PC devices, including media tablets, such as the iPad and smartphones, took consumers' spending away from PCs."

Ouch. Yet despite all the talk about spinning off its PC division, Gartner points out that HP actually grew faster than the industry standard in the third quarter, and still reigns as the #1 worldwide PC vendor shipping over 16 million units, a 5.3-percent jump from the numbers seen in the same quarter last year. It's current market share hovers at 17.7-percent, just over 4-percent more than the new #2 PC vendor, Lenovo.

"Lenovo became the second-largest PC vendor in the worldwide market for the first time," Gartner said. "The company's expansion was boosted in part by the joint vendor with NEC in Japan. However, its aggressive marketing to both the professional and consumer PC markets accelerated its shipment volume."

According to the report, Lenovo shipped more than 12 million units in the third quarter and currently commands 13.5-percent of the market. The company has actually enjoyed a growth of 25.2-percent compared to the sub-10 million units and 11.1-percent market share seen in Q3 2010. Dell reportedly controlled 12.2-percent of the market during the same 2010 quarter, but didn't share the same growth into 2011.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Intel to Bundle Liquid Cooler with Sandy Bridge-E CPUs

Intel has confirmed that they will be bundling a sealed liquid cooling system with its next-generation Core i7-3000 series (Sandy Bridge-E) CPUs.

Intel has teamed with Asetek to provide an Intel-branded sealed liquid cooler for their CPUs. Intel becomes the first major CPU manufacturer to offer this as a base thermal cooling solution over the standard air cooler. In addition, it shows Intel's commitment to provided users with new, improved options, along with offering options designed with the overclocking community in mind.

The cooler will be sold as a bundle option with their Sandy Bridge-E series CPUs. Users will be able to purchase the Sandy Bridge-E processors with or without the bundled cooler. This allows the end-user to determine what thermal cooling solution they want to utilize with their new CPUs, without having to deal with the "basic Intel heat-sink" utilized through the years. This does mean that the end-user will need to make sure they either go with the bundled option or have a 3rd-Party cooling option chosen for their new processor. 

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs interview: One-on-one in 1995

Computerworld - In April of 1995, Steve Jobs, then head of NeXT Computer, was interviewed as part of the Computerworld Honors Program Oral History project. The wide-ranging interview was conducted by Daniel Morrow, executive director of the awards program.

From his early years -- when he says except for a few key adults 'I would absolutely have ended up in jail' -- to how he felt about Apple in the mid-'90s -- 'The Macintosh will die in another few years [under John Sculley]' -- to his predictions about how the Internet would change the world, this is a rare look at Jobs after his first string of innovations but before he returned to Apple.

Steve, I'd like to begin with some biographical information. Tell us about yourself. Steve Jobs (SJ): I was born in San Francisco, California, USA, planet Earth, February 24, 1955. I can go into a lot of details about my youth, but I don't know that anybody would really care about that too much.

Well they might in three hundred years because all this print is going to disintegrate. Tell me a little bit about your parents, your family; what are the earliest things you remember? In 1955, Eisenhower was still President. I don't remember him but I do remember growing up in the late 50's and early 60's. It was a very interesting time in the United States. America was sort of at its pinnacle of post World War II prosperity and everything had been fairly straight and narrow from haircuts to culture in every way, and it was just starting to broaden into the 60's where things were going to start expanding out in new directions. Everything was still very successful. Very young. America seemed young and naive in many ways to me, from my memories at that time.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

IBM to lead $4.4 billion chip investment in New York

DG News Service - Five chip makers, including Intel, IBM, Samsung Electronics, GlobalFoundries and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. have committed investment of US$4.4 billion in research and development in the state of New York over the next five years, to develop new 450-millimeter chip wafer technology, the state's governor Andrew M. Cuomo said on Tuesday.

New York secured the investment in competition with other locations worldwide, Cuomo said in a speech that was also webcast.

IBM has committed $3.6 billion of the total investment to work on next generations of computer chips, including those using 22-nanometers and 14-nanometers process technology, said John Kelly, senior vice president and director of IBM Research.

Since 2000, IBM has invested more than $10 billion in New York state, its largest investment anywhere in the world, Kelly said.

The transition from 300mm to 450mm wafers will require unprecedented industry-wide collaboration, and the New York project is critical for the new consortium, called Global 450, said Brian Krzanich, senior vice president and general manager of manufacturing and supply chain at Intel.

Read full story...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thermaltake's Chaser MK-I LCS Case with Liquid Cooling

Designed for the e-sports gamer, Thermaltake is launching a new chassis with a built-in liquid cooling system.

The company just announced the E6460 embedded discrete GPU, which complements the higher-performing E6760. Compared to the E6760's 480 shaders, the E6460 has only 160, and has to work with only 512 MB GDDR5 memory instead of 1 GB and supports only four instead of six displays.

AMD pitches the graphics processors as products for casino gaming, digital signage, kiosks, point-of-sale (POS) and industrial measurement and controls applications.

Read full story...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

HP confirms layoffs at Palm unit

Network World - HP has started laying off workers associated with last year's billion-dollar acquisition of Palm, as it closes down the mobile device business it planned to base on Palm's webOS. The news comes almost exactly a month after HP announced a sweeping reorganization and refocusing of its business.

News reports say that HP has confirmed the layoffs have begun, but declined to say how many will end up with pink slips. AllThingsD, The Wall Street Journal's tech blog, says the number could reach 525.

TIMELINE: The decline, further decline and collapse of webOS

"As part of this decision, the webOS (unit) is undergoing a reduction in workforce," according to the HP statement.

HP bought the struggling Palm last year, to launch a new mobile product line based on webOS, which was introduced by Palm with the Pre smartphone. This summer, HP unveiled the HP TouchPad, its first entry in the hot tablet computer market.

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Microsoft Releases Robotics Developer Studio 4 Beta

The fourth law of robotics: Monetize

If you've nursed a casual interest in robotics - maybe you love Asimov or you've been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix - but lack funding or a hard robotics background, you might find Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 4 a good place to start. Just released for beta, the software allows programmers to develop their own applications to control robots using a Windows PC as the CPU and a Kinect sensor as eyes and ears, further demonstrating that of Kinect's large number of useful applications, 'playing video games' is lowest among them.

As with most Microsoft endeavors, the company is only providing software, and they've released a reference platform design spec for third parties wishing to develop robots for the platform. You're not going to be able to make your own doomsday device, but you might be able to make something useful for around the house. Parallax, Inc has already manufactured a hardware kit based on that document, for a cute robot/chair named Eddie, currently available for preorder.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Microsoft opens Windows 8 preview to all

Computerworld - Taking a different tack than it did three years ago, Microsoft has made a preview of Windows 8 available to anyone who takes the time to download it.

Windows 8 Developer Preview, as Microsoft called the pre-beta build, was posted to a company website shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday.

The downloads, which range from 2.8GB to 4.8GB in size, come with no restrictions, a company spokeswoman confirmed earlier in the day.

Microsoft gave customers their most-detailed look yet at the new operating system during a two-and-a-half-hour presentation at its BUILD Windows conference, which opened Tuesday and runs through Friday.
Windows 8

When Microsoft debuted a similar developers preview of Windows 7 in October 2008, the company limited the early look to attendees at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC), and told the general public to wait for a beta early the next year.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The First Glimpse of the Windows 8 Start Menu

A new start for Windows 8.

The Microsoft Build event is kicking off in Anaheim, CA this week, so we're expecting lots of Windows 8 related news bits.

Before the conference starts, here is one new tidbit: the Windows 8 start menu. Microsoft has not officially talked about any of its changes in the start menu from Windows 7 to 8, but you can see below that there's been some tweaks that draw from Windows Phone 7.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

HP Unveils Consumer-Priced 3D Scanner

HP Computer division is on spin... but look they have now. 3D Scanner!

"It isn't a holographic projector, but it might bring small businesses one step closer to the Star Trek version of the future.

"Say what you will about Hewlett-Packard's consistently terrible corporate management and laughable failures in tablets and smartphones, HP still knows a thing or two about amazing peripherals. Witness the just-announced HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275, an impressive web-connected printer/scanner that can scan 3D objects and still comes in at a reasonable $399.99. Of course this doesn't mean the kind of 3D for which you probably spent way too much money on a 3DS. The function is intended to streamline the process of photographing objects and getting the images online, for people who make their living from boutique sites or on eBay."

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Yahoo! Fires CEO Carol Bartz Over the Phone

Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz has just been shown the door and, according to a note she sent out to staff earlier today, she was given the news over the phone. Ouch.

All Things D today broke the news that Yahoo!'s Carol Bartz has been "removed by the Board from her role as Chief Executive Officer." The company has since confirmed the news with an official press release announcing "leadership reorganization." The executive shuffle will see Carol replaced by CFO Timothy Morse. Timothy will act as interim CEO (and still fulfill his duties as CFO) while Yahoo! conducts a search for a new chief executive officer. Aside from appointing Morse as interim CEO, Yahoo! has also formed a new Executive Leadership Council that will help in the running of day-to-day operations.

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hard Drives 101: Magnetic Storage

SSD, Flash drives, Hard drives, CD/DVD, Floppy disks, Tape drives. More or less our storage technology was developed that way as far as I can remember.

I was very happy to read an article in about how "Hard Drives 101: Magnetic Storage". It discusses the basic technology behind this marvel.

"Most permanent or semipermanent computer data is stored magnetically, meaning a stream of binary computer data bits (0s and 1s) is stored by magnetizing tiny pieces of metal embedded on the surface of a disk or tape in a pattern that represents the data. Later, this magnetic pattern can be read and converted back into the same original stream of bits. This is the principle of magnetic storage and the subject of this chapter.

History of Magnetic Storage

Before magnetic storage, the primary computer storage medium was punch cards (paper cards with holes punched in them to indicate character or binary data), originally invented by Herman Hollerith for use in the 1890 Census."

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Microsoft Making File Copying Better in Windows 8

One of the great things about GUI operating systems is dealing with file management. While some of us from the old days became pretty good at shuffling files around via the command line, seeing graphical representations of files and dragging and dropping them made things much faster and easier.

Microsoft has changes planned for the way Windows 8 handles the copying and moving of files. Microsoft cites add-ons TeraCopy, FastCopy, and Copy Handler as software it has looked at for file copying. The company found that less than 0.45 percent of Windows 7 PCs are running such software, but still sees it as

"We aren’t aiming to match the feature sets of these add-ons. We expect that there will be a vibrant market for third-party add-ons for a long time," wrote Alex Simons, Microsoft's director of program management, in the Windows 8 Blog. "Our focus is on improving the experience of the person who is doing high-volume copying with Explorer today, who would like more control, more insight into what’s going on while copying, and a cleaner, more streamlined experience."

Ever get stuck copying more than one file, or a set of files, thus collectively dividing up the available transfer speed available? That's no problem if you're not in a hurry to have a certain job finish before the other ones, but for when it's a problem, you'll be thankful that Microsoft has added a pause feature.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Will Jobs' departure shake up the mobile industry?

With succession plan, rivals will be 'foolish' to try to take advantage of leadership change at Apple, analysts say

Computerworld - The iPhone. The iPad. Both iconic Apple products have soared in global popularity. Both have led to a mobile computing movement started, arguably, when the iPhone first appeared in 2007.

Perhaps it is more properly called a minor revolution that has forced the public to question its reliance on desktop and laptop computers. However you describe the way the mobile market and IT in general have been affected by the iPhone and the iPad, both products had Steve Jobs as the motivating spark behind their development.

Now that he has resigned as CEO, probably due to lingering health concerns, can his fire still burn inside Apple's engineers, designers and marketers? Jobs is staying on as Apple's board chairman, with former Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook installed as CEO. But is that enough to keep Apple on top with alluring new product designs and technology marvels, much less the business savvy to work with carriers and manufacturers globally?

"His departure will affect parts of the [mobile computing] industry dramatically," independent analyst Jeffrey Kagan said in an email. "Remember, it was Apple that was the leader in changing the music business [with iTunes], the smartphone business, and Apple invented the [touchscreen] tablet computer business. Much of that came from Steve Jobs' vision."

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Adobe Announces WYSIWYG HTML5 Design Tool

Adobe is serious about moving much more into the HTML5 direction.

The company today announced a new WYSIWYG HTML5 authoring tool code-named Muse, which is reminiscent of the first Dreamweaver beta released in 1997. It is not what I would call an extremely comprehensive authoring tool, but it shows the way how basic and mainstream HTML5 authoring software could look like (or how Dreamweaver could be extended). Much like the early version of Dreamweaver, Muse appears to be much more a proof of concept than a finished product.

Targeted at designers, Muse has the look and feel of Adobe's graphic design products and does not scare those without HTML5 programming language away. Each Muse project begins with a new site (there is support for sub pages) and leads the designer through planning, designing, previewing and publishing phases. There are several automated interactive functions such as tabbed boxes, slideshows, or menus. A finished product can be saved as a muse file, published via a Business catalyst account or exported to HTML, which will include all stylesheets and scripts.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Tech Icons Reflect on PC's 30th Anniversary

The IBM PC turns 30 today. Over those three decades the notion of personal computer has evolved greatly, spawning entire industries. From smartphones to tablets to "the cloud," the PC was the idea that created them all. Thirty years ago, the idea that we'd all be walking around with wallet-size computers was something out of science fiction. Now it's simply Tuesday.

Although we're celebrating the birthday of a machine today, it's important to remember that machines don't think, innovate, or create new paradigms (at least not yet). People still do that stuff, and we have a lot of them to thank for the many forms of personal computing that have emerged over the last 30 years. PCMag spoke to several technology icons, innovators, and thought leaders on this special anniversary to ask them their thoughts on the PC and what it's meant to the world.
30th Anniversary of the PC

From industry-defining software to highly specialized hardware, the contributions from the people represented here are as impressive as they are varied. For every person, we asked the same three questions: What was the biggest innovation for personal computing in the last 30 years? How has personal computing changed people's lives for the better? What do you see happening in personal computing over the next 30 years?

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Windows 7 Poised To Take PC Pole Position

After the debacle that was Windows Vista, Microsoft needed a hit, and it got one in the form of Windows 7, which debuted to solid reviews and sales in and out of the enterprise back in the fall of 2009. With Windows XP finally falling to the wayside after ten years and Windows Vista a bad dream many organizations skipped altogether, Windows 7 appears to be poised to take its place as the preeminent PC platform.

According to analyst firm Gartner, Windows 7 will hit that major milestone by the end of 2011. At that time, the platform will be running on 42% of all business and consumer PCs worldwide, making it the leading desktop and laptop operating system for the first time.

Greatly contributing to the explosion of Windows 7 PCs is an escalation in information technology spending and the follow through by enterprises with planned Windows 7 deployments. Late last year, Gartner predicted IT spending globally would rise by 3.1% to $2.5 trillion in 2011 from $2.4 trillion in 2010.

"Steady improvements in IT budgets in 2010 and 2011 are helping to accelerate the deployment of Windows 7 in enterprise markets in the U.S. and Asia/Pacific, where Windows 7 migrations started in large volume from 4Q10," said Gartner research director Annette Jump. "Many enterprises have been planning their deployment of Windows 7 for the last 12 to 18 months, and are now moving rapidly to Windows 7."

The researcher estimates 94% of all new computers shipped this year will run on Windows 7. That's 635 million Windows 7 PCs in 2011 alone.

Gartner cautions that Windows 7 may be the last Microsoft operating system deployed to all employees through large-scale, corporate-wide migrations, however. Instead, you'll find many organizations using alternative client architectures and delivery methods, including for Windows, as they increasingly turn to virtualization and Cloud Computing over the next few years.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Windows XP Finally Falls Below 50% Market Share

It was going to happen and some point.

Net Applications now lists Windows XP with a market share of 49.84 percent, down from 51.13 percent in June.

Windows XP was launched almost 10 years ago, on August 24, 2001 and is still the world's most popular operating system. Windows Vista failed to become a replacement for XP, but Windows 7 is apparently eating away share from XP at an accelerating pace. However, Windows 7 cannot collect all those users that XP and Windows Vista are losing every month: XP and Vista lost a combined 1.57 points of OS market share in July, while Windows 7 gained just 0.74 points and now stands at 27.87 percent. Windows overall dropped to from 88.29 percent to 87.66 percent market share, while Mac OS X climbed from 5.37 percent to 5.59 percent and iOS is now estimated to hold 2.98 percent.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Microsoft and Suse Renew $100 Million Linux License

Microsoft makes Windows, a closed source platform. Suse builds open source Linux distros aimed at enterprise users. On the surface, these two would appear the unlikely couple, but the two companies just renewed a pact dating back to 2006 that has Microsoft purchasing and reselling Suse licenses. As part of the four-year contract extension, Microsoft has agreed to invest $100 million in new Suse Linux Enterprise certificates for Microsoft enterprise customers receiving Linux support from Suse.

"Our collaboration with Suse not only helps customers to achieve success today, but also seeks to provide them with a solid foundation for tomorrow," said Sandy Gupta, general manager of the Open Solutions Group at Microsoft. "Through our continued engagement on the technical side, an outstanding support offering from Suse and our ability to provide mutual IP assurance, we feel confident that we will be able to deliver core value to those running mixed-source IT environments well into the future — and into the cloud.”

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Get 400 MS Points Free with Games for Windows Purchase

Microsoft is shelling out MS Points for those who purchase a Games for Windows title from this week.

To celebrate the (sad) merging of Games for Windows Marketplace and, Microsoft is giving away 1,000,000 free Microsoft Points starting July 25 and ending August 1. The only requirement is to make a Games for Windows online purchase between those dates. Consumers will then receive an email code for 400 Microsoft Points.

"Games for Windows Marketplace is open to millions of Xbox LIVE gamers around the world," Microsoft states. "Log in with your Xbox LIVE account and enjoy a single unified identity across Xbox LIVE and Games for Windows — LIVE. It’s the same gamertag, friends list, achievements and gamerscore on both platforms. Games for Windows Marketplace delivers great games at great prices and gives you access to Games for Windows – LIVE, a free online gaming service that lets you connect and play with your friends and millions of Xbox LIVE members!"

Microsoft moved the Games for Windows Marketplace over to back on July 11. "All of the same content from will be available on so members of communities across Xbox 360 and Games for Windows can purchase and get details on their favorite games, all in one place," explained a spokesperson. "All account information will remain the same and community members can still take advantage of their Xbox Live profile in their Windows games and stay connected to friends who are playing on the PC."

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Firefox at 64-bit: Do You Care?

Mozilla has begun collecting feedback on what appears to be a more serious approach to move Firefox for Windows from 32 to 64 bit. 

Taking the step from 32-bit to 64-bit has been much more difficult than many had anticipated and has been in the workings for close to a decade - compare that to the relatively quick transition from 16-bit to 32-bit in the mid 1990s. Of course, there are hurdles that need to be overcome and the benefits of a 64-bit app are only now becoming much more mainstream with more vendors now motivated to think about a transition.

Mozilla's product manager, Asa Dotzler, just posted a somewhat careful question to the Firefox community and asked users what they would expect from a 64-bit version. The question by itself may be confusing as the perception of a technology may not be aligned with its potential. However, Dotzler's post indicates that very little research has been done on Mozilla's side to figure out what the opportunities of a 64-bit Firefox really are as he tells his blog readers that "any help is appreciated."

Of course, Mozilla has done some research and was out quite early with a 64-bit version of Firefox. Firefox 3.1 was the first 64-bit version of Firefox and was released in fall of 2008. "Released" is an overstatement as Windows Firefox 64-bit builds have never made it past the developer channel and are even today only offered via a nightly build download (now in version 8.0). Last week, Mozilla announced much more serious test builds of Windows 64-bit builds as it installed Windows 2008 servers "that can generate the 64-bit version of Mozilla Firefox."

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Windows 8 Will Play Very Nicely With Windows 7

Over 400 Million Windows 7 Licenses Sold!

Kicking off Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference, CEO Steve Ballmer today thanked partners for helping make Windows 7 the fastest-selling operating system in history, now with more than 400 million Windows 7 licenses sold in less than two years.

Echoing that point, Tami Reller, corporate vice president and chief financial officer of Windows and Windows Live, emphasized that Windows 7 is the path to Windows 8. Noting that there are still more than 200 million PCs running Windows XP, which was launched in 2001, Reller told partners they have a real opportunity to deliver more value to customers in the short term and "set them up for the future."

In providing an overview of the road ahead with Windows, Reller told partners that despite the record growth and success of Windows 7, there is tremendous Windows 7 deployment opportunity now and well into the future. "We see a future with a heterogeneous enterprise environment of Windows 8 devices and apps alongside Windows 7 PCs and apps," she said.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

5 reasons to embrace Microsoft Office 365 (or at least some of it)

Last week, I offered you 5 reasons why you should avoid Office 365 -- the new cloud service from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). This week, I want to offer the flipside of the coin. Let's see the glass half-full in The Long View...

Office 365 is a replacement for (and superset of) Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), its previous cloud collaboration offering. The two key components of BPOS are cloud-hosted versions of Exchange Server 2007 and Sharepoint Server 2007.

Office 365 updates the software to the latest versions, and adds additional functionality. Much of my criticism last week was aimed at how the new functionality presents itself. However, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the parts of Office 365 that are inherited from BPOS have some killer advantages over the competition.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bad IT management habits: Break them before they break you

A little introspection and an action plan for overcoming bad habits may be all that's standing between you and on-the-job awesomeness.

Computerworld - Every worker develops a few bad habits -- maybe more than a few -- as the years on the job add up. IT pros are no exception: They lose focus or jump to conclusions or put off niggling tasks that could be finished in minutes.
Frustrated tech worker

It doesn't have to be that way. Identifying and understanding bad work habits might require a bit of soul-searching, but the benefits of such introspection can be myriad, workplace experts say.

By taking the time to step back and understand their particular stumbling blocks, IT managers stand to improve not only their ability to work productively, but also their job satisfaction, says Michael Ehling, a business consultant and a career coach with Balance Coaching in Toronto.

"Stepping back gives you 'soak time' to think, dream, consider, ponder. Instead of running around fighting fires all the time, you get time to focus on the bigger picture," says Ehling, who has a background in IT and coaches mostly technology executives and managers. And that, he says, can spur tech managers to "develop more constructive habits that will improve productivity and effectiveness."

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Chrome makes gains in browser race; tablets jockey behind iPad

If web browser usage trends continue, it will be only months before no major browser holds the majority of the market.

My CNET colleague Stephen Shankland helpfully points out this morning that Google’s Chrome browser is making headway in the browser scrum, increasing from 12.5 percent in May 2011 to 13.1 percent in June, according to figures from NetMarketShare.

But market share is a zero-sum proposition, and that gain came at the expense of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which dropped from 54.3 percent to 53.7 percent — almost the same amount.

Mozilla’s Firefox browser continued to defend its place, preserving 21.7 percent share, while Apple’s Safari browser and the Opera browser duked it out on the low end: Safari increased from 7.3 percent to 7.5 percent while Opera decreased even further, from 2 percent to 1.7 percent.

Look at the big picture, and the web browser market is slowly trending toward more equal distribution. But make no mistake: IE continues to have a huge hold on the market.

Read full story and see graphs...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Windows Much Safer After Microsoft Killed Autorun

A safer, more idiot proof autorun.

Autorun is one way for malware to trick a user into installing some nefarious software from removable storage media. An executable could reside on a USB flash drive and, when inserted into a PC, would prompt the user to click the autorun file.

Back in February, Microsoft released an update that curbed autorun behavior for all supported Windows platforms stretching back to Windows XP SP3 to Windows Vista SP2 (Windows 7 already had a "fixed" autorun behavior and Windows XP SP2 was no longer supported through updates).

When comparing stats before and after the Microsoft update, we clearly see that blocking the autorun of removable storage had a significant effect on the infection rate. It may have been a tweak to stop a certain action on the users' part, but it was certainly effective.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bill Gates Gladly Admits That He's a Geek, And His Kids Are Still Banned From Apple Products

I wanna be a Bill Gates so freakin' bad...

Those of us familiar with the western world know who is Bill Gates. Our association with him is likely still to Microsoft, but he's doing far different work these days as a philanthropist.

The Daily Mail scored an interview with the world's second richest man, who talked about his family and what consumes his days these days. Just imagine Bill Gates rocking in his chair and singing "I wanna be a billionaire so freakin' bad. Buy all the things I never had. I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine. Smiling next to Oprah and the Queen..."

That Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars hit is something that his three kids use to tease him, but they won't be getting their wish unless they make it themselves. Gates' children Jennifer, 15, Rory, 12, and Phoebe, nine are believed to be getting 'only' $10 million each in inheritance.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Internet Has Now More Than 2 Billion Users

The Internet's population has just grown past 2 billion people, according to data posted by Internet World Stats.

According to the data set, the Internet had 2,095,006,005 people browsing its pages as of March 31, 2011. 30.2% of the earth's population now has access to the Internet.

Africa is still the continent with the lowest penetration of Internet connections with 11.4% of all people. However, Africa posts the fastest growth and multiplied its Internet users by a factor of 24 between 2000 and 2011. Asia has the largest Internet population with more than 922 million Internet users 44% of all Internet users globally. 45% those users are in China (420 million), which almost matches the total number of Internet users in Europe (476 million).

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Asus Launching Eee PC Netbooks with Ubuntu

Three ASUS Eee PC models now sport Ubuntu 10.10 in addition to the Windows 7 Starter option.

Thursday Canonical sent along a note announcing that its Ubuntu Linux OS (10.10) is now available pre-loaded on three Asus Eee PC models including the 1001PXD, the 1011PX and the 1015PX. More models packing Ubuntu will be made available throughout the year.

"The Eee PC with Ubuntu is ideal for consumers and businesses," the company said. "The hardware is sleek and lightweight and energy efficient while Ubuntu is safe, intuitive and stable. Ubuntu includes a complete office suite making it easy to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations and share them with Microsoft Windows users. A full, rich Internet experience is available with Mozilla Firefox and Adobe Flash pre-installed."

The ASUS 1001PXD, otherwise known as the ASUS Eee PC Seashell, features a 10.1-inch LED backlight WSVGA non-glare screen, Intel's Atom N455 CPU, 1 or 2 GB of DDR3 memory, and a 160 to 320 GB 5,400RPM HDD. The 1011PX sports a meatier dual-core Intel Atom N570 (or N455) CPU and essentially the same specs as the Seashell, but with dual boot capabilities thrown in. The 1015PX supposedly offers notebook performance in a netbook size seemingly using more of the same but with a larger HDD (up to 500 GB).

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Microsoft to Impose Hardware Restrictions for Windows 8 Tablets

Microsoft had a few restrictions in place for manufacturers wishing to produce Windows Phone 7 devices. All devices had to carry a certain level of specs before Microsoft would give manufacturers the WP7 stamp of approval. Now it seems Redmond is also planning on imposing restrictions for Windows 8 tablets, too.

Microsoft has apparently informed hardware partners that restrictions for those planning Windows 8 tablets will be announced in the coming weeks. Manufacturers aren't too keen on the idea that Microsoft will be restricting the types of tablets they can produce, and Acer has been particularly vocal in its objections.

“They’re really controlling the whole thing, the whole process,” Bloomberg quotes Acer CEO J.T. Wang as saying in a Computex interview this week. “They try to set the game rules,” he said, and chip suppliers and PC makers “all feel it’s very troublesome.” 

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Microsoft downplays IE 'cookiejacking' bug

But clickjacking expert Jeremiah Grossman calls cookie hijacking attack 'clever'

Computerworld - Microsoft today downplayed the threat posed by an unpatched vulnerability in all versions of Internet Explorer (IE) that an Italian researchers has shown can be exploited to hijack people's online identities.

The bug, which has been only discussed and not disclosed in detail, was part of an attack technique described by Rosario Valotta, who dubbed the tactic "cookiejacking," a play on "clickjacking," an exploit method first revealed in 2008.

Valotta combined an unpatched bug, or "zero-day," in IE with a twist on the well-known clickjacking tactic to demonstrate how attackers can steal any cookie for any site from users duped into dragging and dropping an object on a malicious Web page.

He had demonstrated the attack at a pair of security conferences in Amsterdam and Zurich earlier this month, then published more information on his blog Monday.

By hijacking site cookies from IE7, IE8 and even IE9, attackers would be able to access victims' Web email, Facebook and Twitter accounts; or impersonate them on critical sites that encrypt traffic, like online banks and retail outlets.

Jeremiah Grossman, founder and CTO of WhiteHat Security, called Valotta's attack "clever" and said he could see hackers taking to it as a fallback to clickjacking, which he and Robert Hansen uncovered and publicized nearly two years ago. "In the event they can't find a cross-site scripting or clickjacking vulnerability, this would be a nice fallback plan for [attackers]," Grossman said.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Microsoft Kissing Windows Mobile 6 Goodbye

Ever since Windows Phone 7 devices hit the shelves, Windows Mobile 6 has been pushed aside in favor of its more modern successor. It’s no secret that Microsoft’s main focus is WP7, and the company has confirmed will take another step away from Windows Mobile this summer.

Microsoft has set the end-of-support date for Windows Mobile 6.x. According to WinRumors, the company told Windows Marketplace for Mobile developers that it will no longer accept new Windows Mobile 6.x applications or application updates from July 15 onwards.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

IBM to invest $100 million for big-data analysis research

IDG News Service - Sensing a greater need in big-data analysis tools, IBM will invest US$100 million to research advanced large-scale analytics, the company announced Friday.

IBM also said it will have 20 new service offerings to help customers quickly analyze petabytes of data.

"We think it's a good time from a research perspective to double down on how we think about big data and how people can get actionable insights from it," said Rod Smith, IBM vice president of emerging technologies.

The money will be used to investigate ways of advancing software, systems and services to better analyze data. "Analytics are terrific, but if you can combine analytics with specific problems and expertise around certain problems, then you can define outcomes in unique ways," Smith said.

While the IT industry already has plenty of business intelligence and analytics software, tools are still lacking for analyzing large amounts of unstructured data, Smith said. About 80 percent of the data in an enterprise is unstructured, meaning it is not easily categorized in databases.

Smith said many IBM customers are collecting large amounts of data through sensors, either software- or hardware-based, but do not have ways of analyzing the results. "From a research perspective, we can ask, 'What does that mean, and what can we do in these new areas to help them?' " Smith said.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Report: Microsoft to Buy Nokia Mobile Division

It’s been a big year for Microsoft so far. Between signing a landmark deal with Nokia and its more recent bid to purchase Skype, the Redmond team has certainly been busy. However, it seems Ballmer and co. may have another trick up their sleeve for us. 

The latest scuttlebutt says Microsoft has its eye on Nokia and the two companies will be entering discussions next week. If fruitful, they would see Nokia’s mobile phone division sold to Microsoft. The source of these reports is Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin. Murtazin focuses mostly on phones and has a pretty decent track record. Though he doesn’t know the finer details, Murtazin claims both parties are in a hurry and that the deal could close before the end of this year.

Of course, lending credence to the rumors, is the fact that Nokia recently signed a deal with Microsoft that will see Windows Phone 7 become the Finnish company’s primary smartphone OS. Prior to this decision, Nokia was very dedicated to its own software and desperate to differentiate itself from other manufacturers by developing its own OS. That all changed when current CEO Stephen Elop took the reigns. Oh, and did we mention that he's a former Microsoft employee?

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Microsoft TV ads to target old PCs with anti-'good enough' angle

Campaign to push consumers off Windows XP, blunt surges by smartphones and tablets, says analyst

Computerworld - Microsoft on Monday night will debut a new television advertising campaign hoping to convince consumers to upgrade their older PCs to ones running Windows 7.

The ads will run on ABC, CBS and NBC starting in the 8 p.m. time slot. One of them is available now on YouTube.

As first reported by Todd Bishop of GeekWire, the ads will be the latest incarnation of the "I'm a PC" campaign that ran more than two years ago, but will target consumers already using Microsoft Windows.

"The ads feature real couples who thought their old (4+ years) PC was 'good enough' being surprised to find a Personal PC store built out in their homes," Microsoft said in a statement.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Microsoft explains its location data collection practices

IDG News Service - In the midst of an uproar over ways that Apple and Google collect and store location information from mobile phones, Microsoft has laid out details about its Windows Phone 7 data collection policies.

Microsoft says that it collects location information only if users allow an application to access location data and when that particular application requests location information. It also said that it keeps that data in a Microsoft database.

Apple has come under fire in recent weeks after researchers showed that the iPhone and iPad store location data about users on the devices. Additional research found that both Apple and Google collect location information about users even when applications that require location information aren't running.

Google has defended itself by saying that location sharing by users of Android-based mobile phones is opt-in and that all location data the company stores is anonymized. Apple has not commented on the situation.

Microsoft said that it assembles and maintains a database of the locations of cell towers and Wi-Fi access points in order to provide its location services. When a user accesses an application that requires location information, Microsoft compares the Wi-Fi access points and cell towers in range of the device with the location database, which contains details of the locations of the access points and cell towers.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Windows 7 (Finally) Beats Windows XP's U.S. Desktop Share

Someone get the party balloons and slap a big "7" on them, for Windows 7 has finally overtaken its younger brother, Windows XP, in desktop market share. For those keeping score at home or running an office betting pool, the milestone comes just under two years since the release of Windows 7, and a bit over one year since Windows 7 passed Windows Vista's desktop market share.

According to new statistics from Statcounter, Windows 7 now commands 31.71 percent of all U.S. desktops—that's based on the aggregated visitor statistics tracked across approximately three million websites during the month of April. Windows XP now takes up second place in the U.S. desktop market at 31.56 percent, with Vista trailing third at 19.07 percent. And for Apple fans only, OS X currently hovers at a desktop market share of around 14.87 percent.

Looking at the stats over the past year, Windows 7 has been eating away at the desktop share of Windows Vista and Windows XP in equal measure. The desktop share of Apple's OS X has risen slightly from April 2010's 13.24 percent, but its overall growth hasn't experience nearly the same rise of fall as its Microsoft-based brethren.

Windows XP commanded 42.51 percent of the U.S. desktop market in April 2010, and Windows Vista, 27.45 percent. Windows 7 saw half the market penetration of its present-day totals, eating up only 14.7 percent of all U.S. desktops in April of 2010. 

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Microsoft sets mammoth Patch Tuesday, will fix 64 flaws

'Out of line with anything normal,' says security expert

Computerworld - Microsoft today said it will patch a record 64 vulnerabilities in Windows, Office, Internet Explorer, Windows graphics framework, and other software next week, and tie a December 2010 record for the number of security updates it issues.

The 17 updates -- Microsoft calls them "bulletins" -- tie the count of December 2010. The bulletins that will ship next Tuesday will include 64 patches, Microsoft said, 15 more than the previous record of October 2010, and 24 more than the 40 of the former second-place collection of December 2010.

Of the 17 updates, 9 will be rated "critical," the highest threat label in Microsoft's four-step scoring system, while the remaining 8 will be marked "important," the second-most-dire ranking.

"We were expecting the larger release this month, based on the normal cadence," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security, referring to Microsoft's habit of issuing a larger number of updates on even-numbered months.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

AMD Readying Radeon HD 6790 for April 5?

A combatant for the Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti?

ZoomNordic Hardware has a report stating that AMD will be launching a new mid-range graphics part called the Radeon HD 6790, which is supposed to be an answer to Nvidia's just announced GeForce GTX 550 Ti.

The Radeon HD 6790 will be more powerful than a Radeon HD 5770, at a lower price than Radeon HD 6850. According to the report, the 6790 will use a GPU called the Barts LE, which uses AMD's classic VLIW5 architecture with 10 SM units with 800 stream processors. In comparison, the 6850's Barts Pro GPU has 12 SM units and 960 stream processors.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

AMD Calls Out Nvidia for GTX 590 Performance Claims

In a rare display of public displeasure, AMD is taking Nvidia to task over a recent Nvidia press release that touts the alleged supremacy of the company's new GeForce GTX 590 graphics card. These battles between the "big two" graphics card manufacturers are most often held across the immeasurable number of reviews sites that run an endless series of benchmarks to sort out winning hardware from duds.

In this case, the squabble shapes up something like this: AMD launched its flagship GPU, the AMD Radeon HD 6990, approximately two weeks ago. As is typical, this announcement was heralded with a press release that described the card as follows: "AMD today announced the launch of the fastest graphics card in the world, the AMD Radeon HD 6990, packing so much raw performance it delivered a new single graphics card world record score of P11865 in the industry standard 3DMark11 benchmark."

Flash forward to Nvidia's March 24 announcement, where it described its latest GeForce GTX 590 card as "the fastest dual graphics card available today which also happens to be the world's quietest too."

Upon reading the Nvidia release, a senior public relations manager at AMD took to the company's official blog to lay into its chief competitor.

"We combed through their announcement to understand how it was that such a claim could be made and why there was no substantiation based on industry-standard benchmarks," wrote Dave Erskine, the aforementioned senior public relations manager.

"So now I issue a challenge to our competitor: prove it, don't just say it. Show us the substantiation. Because as it stands today, leading reviewers agree with us […] that the AMD Radeon HD 6990 sits on the top as the world's fastest graphics card," he added.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Firefox 4 Averages 5K Downloads Per Minute

Four days after the release of its Firefox 4 browser, Mozilla on Friday released some stats about the launch, revealing that it hit 15.85 million downloads in the first 48 hours, with an average of 5,503 downloads per minute.

"The response to Mozilla Firefox 4 has been astounding," Mozilla said in a blog post that also included an infographic (click below) with launch stats.

After day one, the download tally was at 7.1 million. At its peak, Firefox 4 was attracting 10,200 downloads per minute about 91.7 downloads per second. After the first 48 hours, users had downloaded 193.4 megabytes worth of browser.
Firefox 4 infographic

The top region downloading Firefox 4 was Europe, with 6.63 million, while the U.S. was the top country with 4.45 million.

Mozilla had some trivia to go along with its numbers. If each download were a mile, for example, that would equal 33 round trips to the moon. The 48-hour download tally is also bigger than the population of Los Angeles, the 12th largest city in the world, Mozilla said. Finally, it's also equal to the entire Internet population in 1995.

As of 5:30pm on Friday, the tally was at 26.6 million.

Microsoft's IE9, which made its debut last week, reached 2.35 million downloads in its first 24 hours. However, at this point, its reach is limited. IE9 can only be downloaded on machines running Windows Vista and Windows 7 - not XP - in order to accomplish its hardware acceleration using those OSes' version of DirectX multimedia APIs. According to February data from Net Applications, about 55 percent of computer users worldwide still use Windows XP, followed by 23 percent on Windows 7 and 11 percent on Vista.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dell to unveil PowerEdge microservers

IDG News Service - Dell on Tuesday is set to announce low-power PowerEdge servers that can quickly band together to execute transactions more efficiently than traditional servers, which use faster, but more power-hungry chips.

The one-socket PowerEdge C5220 and C5125 servers, also called "microservers" by Dell, also share components inside a dense chassis while coalescing to provide better performance-per-watt than traditional servers, company executives said.

The new PowerEdge servers are built for customers looking to host Web, print, content or file servers, said Deania Davidson, product marketing manager at Dell. Davidson said that the servers are suited for Web hosting, where providers will be able to offer dedicated or shared hosting services while sticking within the power and space constraints of a data center.

Dell's Data Center Solutions division already offers a server based on Via's low-power Nano processors, and the new servers are more powerful. The PowerEdge C5220 will run on Intel's recently announced Xeon E3-1260L and Xeon E3-1220L processors, which consume 45 watts and 20 watts of power, respectively. The low-power Xeon chips include features found in traditional server chips including 64-bit support, error correction features and hardware-based virtualization support. The PowerEdge C5125 will run on Advanced Micro Devices' Phenom or Athlon dual- or quad-core chips.

The Intel version of the new servers are Dell's first to use the Xeon E3-1200-series chips, which were unveiled last week at an event where the chip maker outlined its microserver strategy. Intel at the time said microservers would take 10% of the server market over the next four to five years.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Internet Explorer 9 is Great, But is it Too Late?

Microsoft has successfully delivered its best Internet Explorer ever, IE9, but I have this nagging feeling that it may be too late.

Let me put it another way. Imagine you're having a delicious piece of apple pie and you realize that the only thing that would make it better is an ice-cold glass of milk. Someone goes out for milk, but by the time it arrives, you've already finished your pie, cleaned the plates and left the room. Today, I'm wondering if Internet Explorer 9 is that cold glass of milk.

With 40 million downloads on the beta and release code and another 2-million-plus since launch, Internet Explorer 9 is shaping up to be a success. There are hundreds of millions of Windows users in the world, and I bet many will want to download IE 9 (Windows XP users can't run IE 9. There must be a lot of frustrated netbook owners out there today.) With all those potential customers, why am I worried? Heck, why should Microsoft be worried?

Blame the iPad

We're entering a "post-PC era," Apple CEO Steve Jobs told a packed auditorium as he unveiled the iPad 2 last month. I was in that audience and thought it a bold statement. Jobs is, however, at least partially correct. Things are changing fast in the PC space. There are still millions of PC users out there, but the activity, excitement, innovation and interest is on mobile devices—devices that don't require a mouse and keyboard. On the other hand, "PC" equals "Personal Computer," and the iPad is clearly a computer and also very personal.

I suspect, though, that Mr. Jobs was really trying to use "PC" as a synonym for Windows computers. In that case, this all gets more interesting and brings me back to my concern about Internet Explorer. You see, Jobs is right: Windows and the software that runs on it, including Internet Explorer, is becoming less interesting by the minute. First of all, all the latest browsers now look and work the same (I challenge you to, at a glance, tell the difference between IE 9 and Firefox 4 RC). Secondly, they're largely irrelevant for the hottest gadget space: Tablets. Let's look at some of the top products:

The iPad 2: It runs Apple's iOS, Safari, and virtually no Microsoft client-based software.

The Motorola Xoom: This Android 3.0-based device has a Linux core and its own browser client.

The RIM Playbook: It's also running a new mobile OS, QNX, and also has its own home-grown browser software.

The HP TouchPad: The first and possibly most important Web OS device is not running Windows and will have another unique browser.

Read full story...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Microsoft delivers Visual Studio 2010 SP1

Microsoft is rolling out this week the first service pack (SP) for Visual Studio 2010.

On March 8, MSDN subscribers will be able to download and install SP1. MSDN subscribers also can get, as of today, the Team Foundation Server Integration Feature Pack (as part of the Visual Studio Ultimate SKU), which facilitates integration of Visual Studio, Project and SharePoint.  The general public can get access to the bits on March 10, according to company officials.

Visual Studio SP1, which has been in beta since December 2010, includes improved support for Silverlight 3 and 4 tools; the inclusion of Windows 7-specific MFC (Microsoft Foundation Class) programming interfaces to support use of Direct2D, DirectWrite, and Windows Animation; and a new local Help Viewer.

Beta 2 of Visual Studio LightSwitch (”KittyHawk”) also will be made available “in the coming weeks,” according to a March 7 blog post by Developer Division chief Soma Somasegar. Beta 2 will add new capabilities for building line-of-business apps that target Windows Azure and SQL Azure, Somasegar said.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

IE9 is Launching Either March 14 or March 24

It’s been a long time coming but word on the street is that we can expect to see Internet Explorer 9 by the end of the month, with rumblings suggesting both March 14 launch and March 24 as the launch date.

A rogue tweet from the official MSDN India Twitter account has apparently let the cat out of the bag in regards to the release date for the much-anticipated IE9. Though it’s since been deleted, Pocket-Lint reports that the tweet stated the launch would take place during Tech.Ed in Bangalore, India, which is scheduled for March 23-25. Conveniently, Brian Hall, GM of Internet Explorer And Windows Live, is set to give a March 24 keynote speech.

However, if another rumor is to be believed, we may not even have to wait until March 24. Download Squad cites its own sources that say Microsoft will release the final version of Internet Explorer 9 at the SXSW conference on March 14.

Read full story...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Microsoft Ups its Free App Submission Cap by 20X

Back when Windows Phone 7 launched, Microsoft restricted the number of free applications a developer could submit to five per year. Though it probably cut down on the number of farting bikini apps, it seems developers had a problem with only being able to submit five free apps as Redmond has upped the cap considerably.

In a recent news letter to developers, Microsoft revealed that after “feedback” from devs and partners, it would be raising the limit on free app submissions from five to 100. That means those submitting free app number six or seven don’t have to pay the $20 submission fee, as they would have had to in the past.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Microsoft Explains Why WP7 Update Bricked Phones

Microsoft's Michael Stroh indicated that the recent WP7 update wasn't quite as bad as the media portrayed.

Wednesday Microsoft's Michael Stroh explained what happened to numerous Windows Phone 7 smartphones while installing a patch to the OS updater. As previously reported, the minor update literally "bricked" around 10-percent of the WP7 smartphones currently on the market, all of which were manufactured by Samsung. Microsoft halted the update to investigate the problem and to prevent further troubles.

According to Stroh, the update process wasn't quite as dramatic as the press indicated (cough). "90-percent of people who’ve received an update notification have installed the new software patch successfully," he said. "Of the 10 percent who did experience a problem, nearly half failed for two basic reasons--a bad Internet connection or insufficient computer storage space. Luckily, both are easy to fix."

Unfortunately, that's the extent of the explanation: we still don't know how and why the minor update to the OS updater locked up Samsung phones. However, Stroh admitted that the update didn't execute perfectly, citing that few large-scale software updates ever do. "The engineering team here was prepared," he said. "Of course, when it’s your phone that’s having a problem--or you’re the one waiting--it’s still aggravating. That’s why we’re committed to learning from our first update and improving the process. We know we have work to do, and we won’t be satisfied until you are."

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lenovo chairman talks economics, future of PCs

Liu Chuanzhi's name may not be instantly recognizable in the U.S., but at home in China he's a technology and business celebrity.

Chuanzhi helped found Lenovo in 1984 with a group of 10 engineers in China at a time when the country was in transition. Moving from a planned economy to a market economy was hard enough, but Chuanzhi and colleagues also had to compete with Western companies attempting to insert themselves in the Chinese marketplace. After purchasing IBM's PC business in 2004, Lenovo has today grown to the fourth-largest provider of PCs in the world, behind Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Acer.

As chairman of Lenovo, Chuanzhi doesn't come to the U.S. often. But during a rare trip to San Francisco late last week, CNET got the chance to sit down with him. We spoke shortly after his company delivered a promising earnings report, but the topics ranged from Lenovo's efforts to grow its brand outside of China, to what happens to the personal computer in the "post-PC era."

Here's an edited portion of our interview (we spoke through an interpreter).

On why Lenovo keeps outgrowing the PC market overall:
"At the outbreak of the financial crisis, Lenovo's main sales and profits were all based in China, so when the Chinese economy took a downturn, Lenovo's performance took a very big hit. Over the last couple years a lot of attention has been paid to achieving more balanced growth, geographical balance both inside and outside of China, also (balance between) sales to enterprise versus sales to consumers. That's why we've been able to maintain very steady growth.

"Deciding on this correct strategy was not a fluke--it was the result of senior management having repeated discussions and analysis of what the trends would be."

Why the "post-PC era" is a good thing in the long run:
"Several years ago Lenovo realized that mobile broadband was on the horizon and we were working on integrating that into PCs. Then last year we introduced the LePhone (smartphone) and we're about to introduce tablets. We brought out a product at CES, the U1, that you put your slate into the laptop, that was quite favorably received at CES.

"We find it rather exciting in this new era we're going into that it marks the end of the 'Wintel' monopoly. It offers more room for innovation and choice of OS and CPUs. I think there will be more types of platforms. Right now, I think (the combination of Windows and Intel chips are) still the best choice for enterprise machines, but I think gradually the distinctions between consumer and enterprise machines will also change."

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Nokia and Microsoft Announce Phone Partnership

Nokia has confirmed yesterday’s rumors and announced that it will adopt Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system for its line of smartphones.

Gone are the days when Nokia denounced the use of Android by companies other than Google. The Finnish company had insisted that diluting your own brand by using so popular an OS was a poor move for any company. However, Nokia is under new leadership now, and it seems the newly-crowned chief executive is eager to correct past mistakes.

At an event in London today, Stephen Elop and Steve Ballmer announced a partnership that aids both companies in their battles against Google and Apple. Though Nokia claims it will continue work on its own mobile operating system, MeeGo, and still plans to launch MeeGo devices before the end of the year, the company has said Windows Phone 7 will be its principal smartphone strategy going forward.

Nokia will do well to have a more recognizable smartphone OS on its devices, but this deal isn’t all for Nokia. For its part, Microsoft will benefit from access to Nokia’s experiences with hardware and Espoo is promising to bring Windows to “a larger range of price points, market segments and geographies.”

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) Release Candidate

After a few years of Firefox (Free, 4.5 stars) chipping away at Microsoft's dominant browser position, Internet Explorer's real threat emerged just over two years ago: Google's Chrome. While Chrome has gone from nothing to over 10 percent of browser use, Firefox has held steady, and Internet Explorer has steadily declined. Microsoft knew they had to do something big to fight back against Chrome, and IE9 is the result of these efforts. It's a huge advance from the Internet Explorers of the past. But is it good enough to take the browser crown from recent favorite Google Chrome? The release candidate is available for download today, so I've decided to give it the review full treatment.

The release candidate of IE9 is even faster than the beta, adds more HTML5 support, and it sticks with that software's trimmed down UI, giving the most space to the webpage of any browser. Microsoft has also built in the unique new Tracking Protection feature for added privacy. Finally, it tweaks tabs, search, and its unique pinned site capability that places site icons in the Taskbar.

If you're running the IE9 Beta, there's no need to uninstall it: IE9 RC will replace it, and will become your only version of IE. There are already language versions in Chinese traditional and simplified, French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and German in addition to English, with many more presumably to follow. But remember, IE9 only runs on the most recent flavors of Microsoft's operating system—Windows 7 and Vista—and there are separate installers for the two and separate versions for 32-bit and 64-bit editions. After downloading the correct installer, running it takes longer than installing Chrome, Firefox, or Opera (Free, 4 stars), and, also unlike those, it requires a reboot and OS updates

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