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.

Read full story...

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."

Read full story...

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."

Read full story...

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.”

Read full story...

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

Read full story...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

IPv4's funeral expected to come Thursday

IDG News Service - A press conference taking place on Thursday in Miami is expected to mark the last allocation of Internet Protocol, Version 4 addresses by the central authority that assigns them.

The event, which will be held at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time and will be shared via webcast, will bring together four nonprofit organizations that coordinate the Internet's addressing system, according to an advisory sent to the news media on Tuesday. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Number Resources Organization, the Internet Architecture Board and the Internet Society all are scheduled to participate.

The advisory specifies that the event will concern the dwindling number of IPv4 addresses. The total supply of 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses has been nearing depletion for several years, leading to warnings that enterprises and Internet service providers (ISPs) should adopt IPv6, a next-generation protocol with virtually unlimited addresses.

IPv4 addresses are allocated by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a part of ICANN, in large "/8" blocks of about 16 million addresses each. IANA has allocated all but five of these blocks, and its rules now call for one of the remaining blocks to be handed out to each of the five regional Internet registries (RIRs).

Read full story...

Dell Streak 7 4G Tablet Launches on T-Mobile

 We went hands-on with the Dell Streak 7 when it was unveiled at CES. It was a nice little device with Tegra 2 muscle, but it was strange to be using a smartphone version of Android on it when we knew that Honeycomb is right around the corner.

Nevertheless, the Streak 7 was today announced to be hitting U.S. consumers thanks to T-Mobile. It'll be rolling out on February 2 as T-Mobile's first 4G tablet device.

Read full story...