Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Microsoft's chief researcher takes new role; will retire in 2014

Craig Mundie has left his role as Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer to become senior adviser to the CEO, as he winds down before retirement.

Mundie had led strategy since founder Bill Gates stepped down from full-time work at the company in 2006.

Ina Fried of All Things D first reported the move Monday morning, noting that it was announced in an internal memo from CEO Steve Ballmer on Dec. 14, which also included news that Mundie plans to retire in 2014.

Chief Technical Strategy Officer Eric Rudder has taken over most of Mundie's former duties, including overseeing Microsoft research.

Mundie, who will turn 65 in 2014, joined Microsoft in 1992 in the consumer platforms division, where he managed production of Windows CE. Before then, he had co-founded Alliant Computer Systems, which filed for bankruptcy in 1992, and previously was director of Data General's advanced development facility at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

The 5 biggest tech failures of 2012

Technology marches onward with unrelenting determination year after year. The gadgets that run our lives get cheaper, faster, and more beautiful without fail. However, that doesn’t mean that individual companies can’t pull a boner from time to time, and 2012 was no exception. Let’s take a look at the five biggest technology fails of the past year.
The HP-Autonomy deal

Before HP ousted its consumer-hating CEO Leo Apotheker in 2011, he inked a deal to buy UK-based business services and consulting firm Autonomy for $11.1 billion. This action was undertaken with the understanding that HP was leaving the consumer market. When new CEO Meg Whitman joined the company, fresh off her loss in the California gubernatorial race, she stuck with Autonomy in 2012...

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Microsoft's original, uncompromising vision for Windows 8

One of the conceits of the typical disaster movie is that -- at least at the beginning -- the audience knows what's going to happen, even as the people on screen go about their seemingly normal lives.

When Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet boarded the Titanic, you knew they'd have a rough voyage, even though they had no idea what was coming. When Bruce Willis is climbing around in the pipes of his oil rig in Armageddon  (the best movie ever made, by the way), he has no idea that in a few short days, he'll be in a spacesuit, fighting for his life on an asteroid about to impact Earth.

Watching Microsoft's Program Manager for the Windows User Experience, Jensen Harris, tell the story of Windows 8's UI design has a little of that disaster movie feel. He gave his talk back in August, when -- you'd think -- he'd already know about the deep compromises and designed-by-committee feel Windows 8 would eventually end up with.

This is an impassioned and proud speaker who talks about the Windows 8 design principles of "Do more with less, authentically digital, pride in craftsmanship, be fast and fluid, and win as one." And yet, we've seen Windows 8 and we've seen the highly problematic Surface RT. The vision was strong, perhaps somewhat impractical, but the execution has been rife with dangerous and possibly deeply damaging compromises...

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Microsoft plans patches for IE10, Windows 8 next week

Computerworld - Microsoft today announced it will deliver seven security updates next week to patch 11 vulnerabilities, including the first that apply to Internet Explorer 10 (IE10), the company's newest browser.

As it did last month, Microsoft will also patch Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Server 2012, its new desktop, tablet and server operating systems.

Five of the seven updates will be marked as "critical," Microsoft's highest threat ranking, while the remaining pair will be labeled "important," the Redmond, Wash. developer said in an advance warning published today.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security, put the IE update atop his tentative to-do list. Others did, too, including Paul Henry, a researcher with Arizona-based Lumension.

In an email Thursday, Henry said that the bugs in IE9 and IE10 -- the only versions directly affected -- were "use-after-free" memory management vulnerabilities.

By the IE update's critical label, it's likely that the bug(s) can be exploited by hackers using "drive-by" attacks, those that execute as soon as an unsuspecting user surfs to a malicious or compromised website...

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Experts question Microsoft's decision to retire XP

Computerworld - Microsoft will "draw a line in the sand" come April 2014 when Windows XP exits support, security researchers said today, even if millions of customers are still running the aged OS and a zero-day bug threatens the Windows ecosystem.

Or maybe not. Other experts believe Microsoft will have no choice but to continue supporting XP.

Windows XP, now in its twelfth year, is slated for retirement on April 8, 2014. After that date, the ancient OS will receive no further security updates or bug fixes, except to enterprises that pay for high-priced support contracts.

PCs running XP will not suddenly stop working, of course, but they will be at risk to attacks exploiting vulnerabilities uncovered -- and patched for other editions of Windows -- from that point on.

Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash. research firm that focuses solely on Microsoft, posed a scenario.

"Suppose we get to a date post the end of Extended support, and a security problem with XP suddenly causes massive problems on the Internet, such as a massive [denial-of-service] problem?" asked Cherry. "It is not just harming Windows XP users, it is bringing the entire Internet to its knees. At this time there are still significant numbers of Windows XP in use, and the problem is definitely due to a problem in Windows XP. In this scenario, I believe Microsoft would have to do the right thing and issue a fix ... without regard to where it is in the support lifecycle."...

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Microsoft: 40 million Windows 8 licenses sold

IDG News Service - Microsoft has sold 40 million licenses of the Windows 8 OS since its launch a month ago.

"We believe Windows 8 is shaping up is as one of the company's most successful products," said Tami Reller, Microsoft's chief marketing officer and chief financial officer for Windows. Reller spoke Tuesday at the Credit Suisse Annual Technology Conference, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Reller also noted that Microsoft's Surface RT Pro would be available in January. Previously the company only stated that the computer would be available in early 2013.

She also said that Outlook.com, a relaunch of the company's Hotmail service, has attracted 25 million users.

During her talk, Reller pointed to a number of other statistics indicating how well Windows 8 has fared with users, perhaps addressing criticisms of its user interface. "When people experience Windows 8, they do find it is easy to get started and fun to learn," she said. "We know from the data we're getting in that customers do indeed get the product."

Since the launch, Microsoft has logged over 1.5 billion impressions of users deploying the start screen through remote telemetry. "So we know this is home base for customers, as we intended it to be," she said. Customers are also personalizing the start screen. Within the first three weeks, customers on average added 19 tiles to the ones that are already installed on the system...

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

IBM Notes/Domino 9 Social Edition public beta planned for December 14

On a webcast watched live by 2000 people, earlier today, IBM announced a plan for a public beta of IBM Notes/Domino 9.0 Social Edition. The beta is expected to be available on December 14, and you can register for the beta today via http://bit.ly/ND9BETA .

If you were unable to join us for the webcast, a replay will be available starting tomorrow morning via On24.

Notes/Domino Social Edition was first unveiled at Lotusphere 2012, and has been in development for more than a year. We decided to release a public beta, the first in a long time for Notes/Domino, because of the importance of the release. That was also the consideration that lead to putting the 9.0 version number on the beta, rather than the 8.5.4 we have previously announced.

The plan for Notes/Domino Social Edition calls for availability in Q1 2013, subject to change and all the usual disclaimers.

The decision to call Social Edition beta "9.0" is the right one, but leads to some questions. Yes, there will still be an 8.5.4 maintenance release, with no new features, sometime in 2013. A "dot zero" release is legendary in the IT industry as being the one you play with, waiting for a bug fix release. Except that the DNA of this release is what we have been building as 8.5.4, and carries with that all the stability and reliability of the 8.5 codestream. The 9.0 beta will show that though there are many new features, they are built upon the same solid architecture as the entire 8.5 series. We want you to deploy the dot zero, and we will stand behind it with every confidence.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ballmer decided Windows chief Sinofsky was too divisive

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer decided he had had enough of Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky.

Sinofsky had developed a stellar reputation for shipping quality products on time. And he streamlined the management structure in the gigantic Windows division so that it hummed and produced the latest version of the company's flagship product on a tight deadline to solid, if not spectacular, reviews.

But a day after Sinofsky's sudden departure from Microsoft, it's also clear that Ballmer recognized that the Windows leader was too divisive of a figure to continue on at the software giant, where collaboration among groups is taking on increasing importance.

A Microsoft executive familiar with the thinking of senior management said there was no single event that led to Sinofsky's exit. Instead, relations between Ballmer and Sinofsky frayed as development on Windows 8 progressed.

Microsoft declined to make either Sinofsky or Ballmer available for comment. And while sources say the two executives had several disagreements in recent months, there was little chance any change would happen before Windows 8 launched on October 25.

The final decision about Sinofsky's exit was made shortly before the company announced the news Monday night. That's because Sinofsky was an officer of Microsoft, and regulatory rules require the company to immediately disclose material management changes. Even though Ballmer wanted Sinofsky out, the company said the decision was ultimately mutual...

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Windows head Steven Sinofsky to leave Microsoft

IDG News Service - Steven Sinofsky, the executive in charge of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system and the driving force behind its new OS, is leaving the company, Microsoft announced late Monday, leading analysts to speculate that the company could be dissatisfied with early sales of the operating system.

Sinofsky was the public face for Windows 8 and its new Metro interface, posting constant updates in a Windows 8 blog that charted its development. His last post, fittingly, was entitled "Updating Windows 8 for General Availability." The OS was officially launched at the end of last month.

Sinofsky's departure is effective immediately, Microsoft said. The company will promote Julie Larson-Green, a lead engineer on Windows 7, to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering. CFO Tami Reller will take on the added duty of managing the business side of Windows.

Microsoft didn't say why Sinofsky left. In a statement, CEO Steve Ballmer thanked him for his work and added, somewhat ambiguously, that the company must "continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings."

According to the All Things D blog, there was growing tension between Sinofsky and other members of the Microsoft executive team, who didn't see him as enough of a team player. But Microsoft's official position is that the decision was a mutual one.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Microsoft slates first Windows 8, RT patches since launch

Computerworld - Microsoft today announced it will issue six security updates next week, including three for Windows 8 and its tablet spin-off Windows RT.

The half-dozen updates will patch 19 vulnerabilities in Windows, Internet Explorer (IE) and the .Net framework.

The four critical updates -- the highest threat ranking in Microsoft's four-step system -- will patch 13 bugs, including an unknown number in Windows Server 2012, Windows 8 and Windows RT, the operating system that powers Microsoft's own Surface RT tablet, according to the advance warning Microsoft published Thursday.

The Windows 8 and Windows RT security updates will be the first shipped since those operating systems' launch on Oct. 26. While Microsoft had previously issued patches for the new OSes, all but a September "out-of-band" fix for IE tackled problems in its unfinished previews, not the final code.

But Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security, downplayed the patches for Windows 8 and Windows RT...

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Introducing PCWorld's Windows 8 Starter Guide

Windows 8 is the biggest change to Windows since the original Windows 95. Whether you've been playing with the consumer preview, intrigued by the direction Microsoft is taking, or worried that you may have to relearn Windows all over again, PCWorld can help you get started with the Windows 8.

Our Windows 8 Starter Guide covers some key things you need to know before you get started, during the installation process, and with your first few hours with the Microsoft's new OS. We'll help you check for potential compatibility pitfalls, walk you through a typical upgrade process, and suggest when a clean install might be better than an in-place upgrade.

 PCWorld's Windows 8 Starter Guide also contains information on the different versions of Windows 8, and Microsoft's introductory pricing, so you can get the best bang for your Windows 8 buck.

Once Windows 8 is up and running, PCWorld editors help walk you through many of the new features of Windows 8. We'll explain just how the new Start screen works and how to best navigate your way through the new interface. We'll also introduce you to the Windows 8 desktop, and the best way to navigate the new, Start menu-free desktop. You'll learn how to navigate Windows 8 using touch and gestures, or using the good old mouse and keyboard (including important keyboard shortcuts.)

When you're familiar with navigation and the basics, we'll lead you through the process of creating and managing accounts, backing up your system, and other basic chores. You'll be up and running with Windows 8 in no time.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Microsoft Orders Up to 5 Million Surface Tablets for 2012

Shipping figures are in line with Google and Amazon's Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire tablets.

Microsoft is instilling enough confidence into its Surface tablet that it has commenced a "large volume production" of the device, which may see up to 5 million units being shipped during the fourth quarter.

According to component supplier sources in Asia, the Wall Street Journal said Microsoft will build between 3 million and 5 million Surface tablets before 2013 arrives.

Sources suggest that Microsoft's figures are in line with both Amazon and Google for their Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 tablets, respectively...

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lenovo knocks HP from top of global PC market: Gartner

SAN FRANCISCO/HONG KONG (Reuters) - China's Lenovo Group Ltd edged out Silicon Valley icon Hewlett-Packard Co to become the world's No. 1 PC maker in the third quarter, according to data released by research house Gartner on Wednesday.

A rival to Gartner, IDC, still ranks HP in the lead - but by less than half a percentage point - in terms of PC shipments worldwide. Both studies reinforce HP's struggles against rivals as new chief executive Meg Whitman tries to overhaul the stalled 73-year-old company.

Worldwide shipments of personal computers fell over 8 percent in the third quarter to 87.5 million, the steepest decline since 2001, Gartner analysts said.

PC demand growth has crumbled over the past year as more consumers flock to ultra-portable and increasingly powerful tablets and smartphones for basic computing.

"It's quite a tough year for PC makers because (Microsoft's) Windows 8 is not launched yet and some consumers are waiting for that. Cannibalisation of tablet PCs is also another factor," said Eve Jung, an analyst with Nomura Securities in Taipei.

Both sets of data show that Lenovo, Taiwan's Acer and other Asian PC makers are taking share away from U.S. competitors HP and Dell, which held on to the No. 3 spot in the quarter.

Lenovo, which has a market value of $8.2 billion, said it believed there was room for continued growth in the sector...

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Philippines Supreme Court restrains government from enforcing new cyber law

IDG News Service - The Supreme Court in the Philippines has temporarily restrained the government from enforcing a new controversial cyber law, in response to petitions from civil rights and journalists groups in the country.

In a temporary restraining order (TRO), the court on Tuesday enjoined the government from implementing or enforcing the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which makes online libel a cybercrime with the prospect of being punished twice for one act, allows the authorities to take down a website alleged of violating the cyber law without judicial review, and also provides for collection of real-time traffic data without a warrant or judicial order, according to its critics.

By punishing libel as a cybercrime simply because it is committed through a computer system, the clear intent of the provision of the Act is to single out Internet users in their chosen medium of expression, according to one of the 15 petitions before the Supreme Court.

The court has ordered that the respondents including the office of the country's solicitor general comment on the case within 10 days. The oral arguments for the case have been set for Jan. 15.

The new Act, also known as the Republic Act No. 10175, was signed into law by the country's president Benigno S. Aquino III last month, and took effect from Oct. 3...

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Foxconn Workers Strike Over iPhone 5 Quality Demands

A labor rights group said Friday that workers on the iPhone 5 production line at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory went on strike earlier this week amidst overly burdensome quality control demands for Apple's new smartphone.

Approximately 3,000-4,000 workers went on strike on Monday, prompting a "widespread work stoppage on the factory floor," China Labor Watch said in a statement.

"According to workers, multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were in a state of paralysis for the entire day," China Labor Watch said.

Most of the workers, the group said, worked in onsite quality control (OQC). China Labor Watch said Foxconn and Apple imposed "strict quality demands" on workers regarding indentation standards and not allowing the frame and back cover of the phone to be scratched.

Furthermore, Foxconn did not allow workers to take a vacation day on Monday, which was China's National Day...

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Microsoft's 'big gamble' with Windows 8 won't pay off in the enterprise, says Gartner

Computerworld - Microsoft is taking a "big gamble" with its new Windows 8, one that will see the operating system peak at just 20% to 25% of corporate PCs, Gartner analysts said today.

"Microsoft is taking a big gamble over the next few months with Windows and Office, the two products responsible for most of its revenue and profit," the research firm said in a statement Tuesday. "[But] it is a risk that Microsoft must take to stay relevant in a world where mobile devices with new modern experiences are becoming the norm."

Windows 8 is set to launch at retail Oct. 26, one month from today.

The reasons cited by analysts Michael Silver and Steve Kleynhans will be familiar to followers of Windows 8's development: The two disparate user interfaces (UIs) of the OS, its tablet- and touch-first philosophy, its possible rejection by IT administrators as too much like Windows 7 on one hand, too different on the other...

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Friday, September 21, 2012

HP Intros New Lineup of Windows 8 Consumer PCs

Hp has revealed a new set of desktops and laptops featuring Windows 8.

Gearing up for a big launch in October, HP is now teasing new desktops and laptops that will come packed with Microsoft's blocky "Modern UI" new operating system. Not to disappoint, there's seemingly something for everyone in this batch of hardware, ranging from thin and light "Sleekbooks" to the armor-plated high-performance desktop perfect for PC gamers.

Here's a quick breakdown of each without all the PR hoopla:

HP Pavilion Sleekbook 14 and Pavilion Sleekbook 15
* Start at $499.99 and $559.99, respectively and ships in NA on Oct. 26
* 14-inch and 15.5-inch HD displays
* Up to 1 TB of storage
* A full array of ports including HDMI, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0
* Pavilion Sleekbook 15 includes a numeric keypad
* HP TrueVision HD Webcams and HP MyRoom for video calling, sharing photos and more in a private virtual room
* Dolby Advanced Audio
* Optional discreet Nvidia graphics
* HP CoolSense for a cooler PC
* HP ProtectSmart to help prevent file loss in case of a bump
* Pavilion Sleekbook 14 is powered by AMD Accelerated Processors
* Pavilion Sleekbook 15 is powered by Intel processors and features Intel Hyper-Threading technology

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Microsoft prepares developers for Windows Phone 8 SDK launch

IDG News Service - Microsoft started accepting on Wednesday requests for access to the Windows Phone SDK 8.0 Developer Preview program, the company said in a blog post.

To apply, developers can go to the Microsoft Connect site, and the deadline is Sept. 17 at 5 pm PDT. Developers that are accepted will hear from Microsoft soon after the deadline has passed to get instructions on how to download the Windows Phone 8 SDK and get support.

The objective of the program is to let developers of the most popular apps start optimizing them for Windows Phone 8, and therefore it expects the majority of published developers "in this situation to qualify for access," according to the blog post.

Getting developers on board will be key if Windows Phone 8 is to become a success, and limiting access risks alienating developers that are not included in the preview program.

Not all Windows Phone 8 features have been announced yet and the SDK includes comprehensive emulators that give some of that away. Keeping them under wraps will however help generate more excitement, which in the end will help both Microsoft and developers, according to the blog post...

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

HP releases two beta versions of open-source webOS

IDG News Service - Hewlett-Packard released two beta versions of its open source webOS on Friday: one for developers that runs on the Ubuntu Linux desktop, and one for the "OpenEmbedded" development environment, intended to help developers port webOS to new devices.

The August Edition, as the webOS team calls the latest release on the project website, consists of 45 open source webOS components and 450,000 lines of code. The two versions were released under the Apache 2.0 license, which is one of the most liberal and accepted in the open source community, the team said.

The beta desktop build includes a version of the webOS System Manager that will run as an application on the Ubuntu desktop, the team wrote. System Manager's functions include rendering the webOS Card View, Launcher, Status Bar and other user interface elements. Core webOS applications such as Calendar and Contacts run within System Manager, and the new version also supports apps built with the third party JavaScript framework Enyo, the team added.

Releasing a version of webOS for the OpenEmbedded platform was a natural choice, the team said, because of its widespread community adoption, excellent cross-compiling support for embedded platforms and support for multiple hardware architectures, the team wrote. The OpenEmbedded build of webOS includes an ARM emulator to run core services such as db8 and node.js, the team said...

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Western Digital Regains HDD Market Lead in Q2

Following Seagate, Western Digital has apparently recovered from the impact of the Thailand flood as well. As of Q2, the company has become the leading hard drive maker again.

According to IHS, the company built about 71.0 million HDDs during the quarter, ahead of Seagate, which manufactured 65.9 million devices. WD's revenue was $4.8 billion, while Seagate posted $4.5 billion of sales.

“Western Digital lost its No. 1 unit shipment ranking to Seagate in the fourth quarter of 2012 after flooding in Thailand damaged its HDD manufacturing facility,” said Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at IHS. “The company now has fully recovered from the disaster, allowing it to sharply increase shipments of HDDs for notebook PCs, up 28 percent from the first quarter. Western Digital is on track to retain the top spot in shipments and revenue for the third quarter.”...

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Microsoft to Grant Windows 8 System Builder License to Home-Built PCs

Microsoft is slightly, but very distinctively changing the license agreements for Windows.

With Windows 8, Microsoft acknowledges for the first time installations on home-built computers.

ZDNet got a hold of the new license agreements that affect the upgrade sold via retail, the OEM license agreement as well as system builder license relating to personal use systems. If you are building your own PC, you can, effectively take advantage of OEM versions instead of having to purchase a full and more expensive retail license.

ZDNet quotes the personal use license for system builders and Windows 8 Pro as follows:

We do not sell our software or your copy of it – we only license it. Under our license, we grant you the right to install and run that one copy on one computer (the licensed computer) as the operating system on a computer that you build for your personal use, or as an additional operating system running on a local virtual machine or a separate partition, subject to the restrictions outlined under “Are there things I’m not allowed to do with the software?”...

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Intel leads tech industry in crusade to eliminate conflict minerals

Sometimes high-tech companies do what they say they are going to do. Intel, which has pledged to eliminate all minerals potentially sourced from "conflict" zones in the Congo from its microprocessors by the end of 2013, leads the list of technology companies that have made progress on this goal, reports the Enough Project.

Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Solutions and Apple have all established policies that focus on removing so-called conflict minerals including tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, according to the organization's report, "Taking Conflict Out of Consumer Gadgets: Company Rankings on Conflict Minerals 2012."

Six other companies have taken steps toward establishing broader policies: SanDisk, Philips, Sony, Panasonic, RIM and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

But game technology company Nintendo gets called out for the opposite reason: it hasn't done anything about this yet, at least not publicly.

"HP and Intel have gone above and beyond the call of duty on conflict minerals," says Sash Lezhnev, an Enough Project analyst who co-authored the report. "It is now time to level the playing field for all companies, and the Securities and Exchange Commission has a key role to play in its upcoming vote on the rules for the conflict minerals law on August 22."...

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Microsoft: Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung on board for Windows RT

Computerworld - Microsoft today said that Windows RT, the spin-off of Windows 8, has been completed and will power ARM processor-equipped tablets and PCs from Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung.

The Redmond, Wash. company had earlier announced that its own Surface RT tablet, based on Windows RT, will ship Oct. 26, the day Windows 8 is set to go on sale.

Some of the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) listed by Microsoft as Windows RT partners had earlier publicly revealed designs or said they would deliver hardware based on the new operating system. Others not named by Microsoft, including Toshiba and Acer, had also announced plans previously.

In a post on the "Building Windows 8" blog Monday, Mike Angiulo, the vice president of Microsoft's ecosystem and planning team, declined to go into specifics of each OEM's planned products -- he left that for the vendors to do themselves closer to the October launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT -- but he did spell out some specification ranges for the new hardware...

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Acer Sternly Warns Microsoft Over Surface Tablet

PC vendors are not especially excited that Microsoft will be building its own tablet. We have known that for some time, but the tone that is used to criticize Microsoft is getting more serious and may be surprising.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Acer's CEO JT Wang gave us a taste what is going on behind the scenes between PC makers and the Windows company, something we usually can only speculate about:

"We have said [to Microsoft] think it over. Think twice. It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at so please think twice."

There are several subtle messages that are buried in this statement. The translation: "Surface is killing our business. You have had your fun, but it's time to tell everyone that it was just an idea that will never see the light of the day."...

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Microsoft confirms dumping 'Metro' brand from Windows 8

Computerworld - Microsoft will walk away from the "Metro" tag it's been using for over a year to describe the new environment and apps in both Windows 8 and Windows RT, the company confirmed Friday.

"We have used Metro style as a code name during the product development cycle across many of our product lines," a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. "As we get closer to launch and transition from industry dialog to a broad consumer dialog we will use our commercial names."

Late Thursday, The Verge reported it had seen an Microsoft internal memo that explained to employees the change was a result of "discussions with an important European partner" that forced Microsoft to "discontinue the use" of the Metro brand...

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

16 PC Mysteries Solved!

Our digital detectives uncover the truth behind some of tech’s most baffling questions.

Why do I need administrator access for some tasks?

IPC Mysteriest's a security precaution. Windows requires you to have administrator access in order to modify or delete files, if doing so might affect other people who use the computer. This usually isn't a problem if you set up the PC yourself, since the primary account on any Windows machine is assigned administrator privileges by default; but if you need access to your PC's administrator account without a password (if you bought the PC used, for example) you could be in a pickle.

Normally, gaining administrator access in Windows when you don't know the password to the account entails either reinstalling Windows or using third-party software like the Offline NT & Password Editor to reset the password. PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector has written about this issue extensively in his Answer Line column, and you can find his advice on using the Offline NT & Password Editor to gain administrator access...

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Monday, July 23, 2012

How Can You Get Windows 8?

Will you upgrade to Windows 8? Will you get it on a new PC? On a tablet? Or do you plan to skip it as you may have skipped Vista? For those willing to dip their toes into the waters of Microsoft's drastic re-thinking of its flagship chunk of software, there are a number of options for how to actually get it. And in a poll on PCMag run back when Windows 8 Release Preview was launched, a surprising number of you want to start in with the new OS the moment it's available. For those eager beavers, along with anyone else wanting to move forward in the Windows world, we submit the following guide.

As of a couple days ago, we know exactly when you'll be able to get Windows 8—October 26. Windows head honcho Stephen Sinofsky made the announcement at Microsoft's annual sales announcement on July 18. This availability applies to both new PCs and tablets and to upgrade options.

Let's take a look at the different paths you can take to get to Windows 8 once that date rolls around, with the two primary options being upgrade versus new machine...

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Microsoft could face billions in new fines over browser choice

Computerworld - European Union (EU) antitrust regulators today threatened Microsoft with more fines, potentially massive ones in the billions of dollars, after the company failed to make good on its promise to offer consumers there a choice of browsers.

The EU's chief regulator, Joaquin Almunia, talked tough. "If the facts are confirmed, [I will] use the legal instruments at my disposal to deter and to punish [Microsoft]."

In announcing the new investigation, Almunia, the head of the EU's Competition Commission, added, "If confirmed, this would have severe consequences ... and there will be sanctions."

Microsoft immediately apologized, calling the failure to offer the browser choice screen to Windows 7 users a "technical error."...

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Speed Tests: Windows 8 Vs. Windows 7

We've heard it before: The next version of Windows is going to start up way faster and run faster than the last. With Windows 7, we were told that we could expect 15 second boot times, but that sure hasn't been my experience. With Windows 8, it looks like the claims are for real: In using the Windows 8 Developer, Consumer, and Release Previews, I've noticed a huge improvement in startup times. No longer do you have to wait for nearly a minute just to log into a typical PC.

And the company has stated that it's working on reducing another big source of waiting time: Updates. If you don't use a Windows 7 PC for a week or so, chances are that you'll have to wait a few minutes for it to download and install updates, and you'll probably have to go through a second reboot. This is less of a problem for PCs that are left on all the time (to the detriment of energy conservation), which is the case for most business PCs...

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bill Gates Backs Microsoft's Surface Tablet Solo Venture

Windows 8 tablets will replace the desktop, says Bill Gates.

Former chief executive and current chairman of Microsoft Bill Gates knows exactly why the company seemingly punched its partners in the gut with the introduction of the Windows 8-powered Surface tablet. Even more, he thinks Microsoft has done the right thing by going solo, and that Windows 8 is going to kill the traditional PC. Whoa.

Bill Gates made this revelation on Charlie Rose Monday night as he talked about Microsoft's decision to make its own tablet. As previously reported, Surface will arrive in two flavors: x86-based featuring Windows 8 Pro, and ARM-based using Windows RT. It will feature a unique cover that also serves as a super-thin keyboard, and go head to head with other Windows 8 tablets manufactured by HP, Dell, Asus, Lenovo and others.

"I actually believe you can have the best of both worlds," he said. "You can have a rich eco-system of manufacturers and you can have a few signature devices that show off, wow, what's the difference between a tablet and a PC?"

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

HP Offering Motherboard Fix for 3 Pavillion Desktops

Hewlett-Packard said on Tuesday that it has identified a high rate of motherboard failures in its popular Pavilion line of desktop PCs built in June and July 2010. The company said these system boards have a "slightly higher than expected failure rate" although a specific problem wasn't addressed.

According to the announcement, the affected machines include Pavilion Elite HPE-4xx, Pavilion P66xx and Pavilion Slimline S5660f desktops. "[These] computers may experience no video at start up and stop responding," said HP in its email to desktop owners.

The affected machines won't be recalled, but rather HP will extend their warranty for another twelve months. Customers who already have an expired warranty will have one year to report the problem. Either way, HP will replace the motherboard free of charge, and will even pay for round-trip shipping...

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

What OEMs desperately need to learn from Microsoft's Surface

Microsoft is not throwing its OEM partners under the bus. It is pushing them out of the way of an onrushing freight train.

See what I did there? I substituted one violent transportation-based metaphor for another. That was deliberate. So was Microsoft’s unprecedented decision to cross a line it has maintained for three decades.

See also: How the tech press reacted to Microsoft Surface

Why now? What changed? Why did Microsoft decide the time has come to compete directly with its OEMs? Why design its own line of tablet PCs, to be sold in Microsoft stores under the Surface brand?

Back in 2006, Microsoft and the OEM community collectively failed with Windows Vista. Microsoft delivered a messy glop of code that didn’t work well until Service Pack 1, and the OEMs were embarrassingly unprepared with drivers and designs. The OEMs also insisted on packing their products with performance-sapping crapware...

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

With Surface tablet, Microsoft breaks tradition

t’s the end of an era. Or maybe the start of a new one.

Microsoft — a company that traditionally has relied exclusively on its PC partners to provide hardware powered by its Windows operating system — is trying out a new business model with next Windows release.

The company is going to offer two Microsoft-branded tablets of its own, both of which are branded as Microsoft Surface.

Mystery solved: Microsoft’s new Surface tablet (pictures)

Microsoft isn’t actually manufacturing these new tablets itself — just as it doesn’t actually “make” the
Xbox or the now defunct
Zune media player. But it will be putting the Microsoft name on these devices. And this, many have speculated, will set up Microsoft as a head-to-head competitor with its own PC maker partners.

Pricing or any information on availability is not available yet. All officials are saying, via today’s press release, is that “suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC. OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT.”...

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Microsoft Charging OEMs $85 for Windows RT

Microsoft reportedly isn't planning to offer Windows RT at a reduced cost considering the cheaper tablet form factor.

ZoomIt was presumed that Microsoft would offer its ARM-friendly version of Windows 8 -- aka Windows RT -- on the cheap given that both Microsoft and tablet manufacturers want to push Apple's own iPad into a dark little corner of the tablet market. Achieving this would not only mean providing a AAA experience, but a low price tag. Even more, Google doesn't charge manufacturers anything at all to use its Android platform -- the search engine giant makes its money off advertising, app and other media sales.

But apparently offering Windows RT for a reduced price isn't on Microsoft's list of goals. Various reports claim Microsoft is charging manufacturers between $80 and $95 USD for an OEM Windows RT license to be used on a tablet. That's roughly the same pricetag required for the OEM version of Windows 7 Home Premium for desktops and laptops...

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

25 most-used passwords revealed: Is yours one of them?

After it was discovered that more than six million LinkedIn passwords had been leaked as well as many at Last.fm and eHarmony, no one has stopped talking about password and passcode security.

That’s actually a good thing because it’s an incredibly important topic that many Internet users don’t take seriously.

Case in point, take a look at this new report from IT security consultant Mark Burnett. Self-described as someone who “loves writing about passwords,” Burnett has compiled a list of the “top 500 worst (aka most common) passwords” based on a variety of methods he has detailed on his blog.

Here are the top 25, as extracted by antivirus solution provider ESET. Is yours one of them? If so, it’s safe to say you should consider changing it to something stronger immediately...

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Microsoft finally goes public with Windows Azure Active Directory details

Microsoft finally is starting to share publicly its high-level cloud-centric identity management plans, as my ZDNet blogging colleague John Fontana noted last week. That means the semi-mysterious Windows Azure Active Directory (WAAD) service is finally fair game for discussion.

I blogged about WAAD — Microsoft’s cloud version of its Active Directory directory service — earlier this year. Although Microsoft had a public-facing page about WAAD on its Azure site (which it subsequently removed), officials declined to comment on the technology when I asked in February. And members of the Microsoft cloud community said they were not at liberty to share specifics because of non-disclosure agreements.

But Microsoft has decided now’s the time to talk WAAD, possibly as one stage setter for its June 7 announcement of new Windows Azure features and functionality. TechEd North America, which kicks off on June 11, also will be a venue for more WAAD information, as I noted in February. (After I blogged about the WAAD sessions on the TechEd docket, Microsoft pulled the listings from their TechEd site, but I still believe there will be more information on the topic there.)

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

HP to cut 27,000 jobs

IDG News Service - Hewlett-Packard will trim 27,000 employees as part of its long-term restructuring plan, the company said Wednesday when it announced quarterly financial results.

The company will shed about 8% of its workforce through a combination of layoffs and retirement offers that started last Oct. 31 and will continue through the end of its 2014 fiscal year, HP said. Employee reduction plans vary by country.

In a statement, HP said it expects the restructuring program will save $3 billion to $3.5 billion through fiscal year 2014. A majority of those savings will be reinvested in the company, HP said.

The job cuts are "difficult" but they also are "necessary to improve execution and to fund long-term health" of HP, CEO Meg Whitman said in a statement.

HP also announced that its net income for the second quarter, which ended April 30, was $1.6 billion, a drop of 31% over the same quarter a year ago. It reported revenue of $30.7 billion, down 3%.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Microsoft's shifting priorities: It's about time

I’m taking a couple weeks off before the busiest part of Microsoft’s 2012 kicks into full gear. But never fear: The Microsoft watching will go on while I’m gone. I’ve asked a few illustrious members of the worldwide Microsoft community to share their insights via guest posts on a variety of topics — from Windows Phone, to Hyper-V. Today’s entry is all about Microsoft’s increasing consumer focus and is authored by Mike Brown.

For a while I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I could tell something different was happening in Redmond.

It started with Windows Phone 7. The mobile team, which was normally very accessible and open, had gone dark. Anyone paying attention knew something big was happening, but just what was it? Granted there were some leaks that gave hints as to how the next mobile platform would work. But there was very little voluntary information coming from Microsoft until they were ready.

The level of secrecy around Windows Phone 7 was like an open book compared to the tight wraps Microsoft has placed on Windows 8. Again, there were inevitable leaks, but the Windows team, the Visual Studio team, everyone remotely involved with Windows 8 again has had tight lips — even to the point that the Build conference did not even have a public agenda before the opening keynote.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Windows 7 In Old Customized PC

Our office just upgraded all our workstations to Windows 7. It was good at the beginning but I feel it is going better and better as I get familiar working knowing where and which is the correct button to click for setting and performing specific task...

After the upgrade to the company,  I decided to get my own copy of Windows 7 (ultimate for me, enterprise is what we have in the office) and install it to my 4 year old AMD custom built computer, so I will have the same system in the office at home. I am hoping that this will fast track my familiarization stage with Windows 7. My computer specs:

  • Processor: AMD X2 Dual Core
  • Motherboard: MSI
  • RAM: 3GB
  • GPU: built-in
  • Previous OS: Windows XP SP2

With my computer specification, I know that Windows 7 will run just fine without so much bloatwares installed so I am keeping it clean as possible. This idea is backed up with Windows 7 systems requirements:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM
  • HDD: 16 GB available hard disk space

The idea is confirmed! My customized build is "just" fine with it. :)

So your old computers may still work with Windows 7 and be able to perform it's basic function just do not install or remove bloatware and keep it clean.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Microsoft yanks Office for Mac 2011 upgrade

Computerworld - Microsoft last Friday pulled an Office for Mac 2011 major update from its upgrade servers, acknowledging bugs that have corrupted the Outlook database on some machines.

Office for Mac 2011 Service Pack 2 (SP2) was released April 12. That same day, users who had upgraded began reporting problems on Microsoft's support site, saying that they were unable to run Outlook, the suite's email client.

Last Tuesday, Microsoft confirmed that the SP2 upgrade could in some cases corrupt the Outlook identity database, and offered workarounds to prevent that from happening for those who had not yet installed the service pack, as well as a step-by-step guide to reconstructing the database for those affected by the bug.

Three days later, Microsoft took more drastic action, shutting down the delivery of Office for Mac 2011 SP2 through the company's automatic upgrade service.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Microsoft and Intel Teaming Up, Plotting to Take Down Apple

Taiwan-based ODMs claim that Microsoft is teaming up with Intel to take tablet marketshare from Apple.

It's probably now a given that Microsoft and Intel are working together to produce top-notch Windows 8 tablets and touch-based Ultrabooks. Both have high standards when it comes to the consumer experience, and are bringing to first-tier device manufacturers their requirements and expectations. But Taiwan-based ODMs are claiming the duo are looking to reduce the iPad's 70-percent global market share down to below 50-percent by the middle of 2013.

What will be their secret weapon? Windows 8, of course. They'll also be coming after Apple on two fronts: tablets and hybrid Ultrabooks that can "fold" into a tablet. While the latter is still in a prototype stage, manufacturers are already lined up to offer Windows 8 tablet by the end of the year including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Asustek Computer and Toshiba.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Windows Phone's many problems: Should Microsoft give up?

Microsoft was resting much of its efforts in Windows Phone on the Nokia Lumia 900, and Nokia’s stake in the project was vital to its future smartphone building success.

Described by one colleague as the “only good phone” to come out of the Microsoft–Nokia joint venture, its flagship phone was hit with a critical bug, the Windows Phone marketshare is slipping, and the Windows brand itself is waning in the wake of Apple’s success.

Fortune described the Lumia 900 as a “sexy, award-winning smartphone is going on sale Sunday at half the price of the iPhone, and it’s launching on a blazing fast 4G network.”

“What’s the catch?” they asked. “Two things: The phone, called the Lumia 900, is made by Nokia — and it’s running Microsoft’s Windows Phone software.”

But since its launch, it has already suffered a data cut-off bug which will put off a vast percent of the consumer market, and business customers especially, where data is the lifeblood of mission-critical operations. It’s struggling with poor market share and hampered by an image problem in the wake of attention towards iOS and Android rivals.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Indian IT firms are heading for a fall

Computerworld - India's IT firms understand software, but not America.

It is the American character not to back down, and to fight for what is right. Our children are taught this from their earliest ages. Even new arrivals, immigrants or people on work visas are quick to grasp this essential truth.

America's institutions reflect the national character. Our political system encourages sharp and hard contests. Our legal system facilitates a fight, as India's IT companies are now learning.

Three of India's largest IT outsourcing firms, Infosys Technologies, Larsen & Toubro InfoTech and Tata Consultancy Services, are involved in lawsuits filed against them by current and former employees.

The lawsuits are a problem for each of the companies. But taken together, the cases are a major threat to the Indian IT industry in America.

India's IT firms are dependent on American businesses for about half of their revenue. They can't operate in this country without work visas, such as H-1B and L-1 visas.

Thus the allegations by employees of visa misuse and harassment have broad implications and are attracting federal investigators and congressional oversight...

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Friday, March 30, 2012

IT jobs will grow 22% through 2020, says U.S.

Computerworld - WASHINGTON -- U.S. officials on Thursday said that offshoring will hurt the growth of U.S. programming jobs in this decade, though expansion of healthcare IT and mobile networks will in turn increase demand for software developers, support technicians and systems analysts.

By 2020, employment in all computer occupations is expected to increase by 22%, but some IT fields will fare better than others, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) biennial update of employment projections.

Demand for software developers will be the strongest in this period, with increases ranging from 28% to 32%, depending on the type of software development.

The BLS update imagines what IT employment will look like through 2020.

The agency's forecasts, particularly for technology-related jobs, are often controversial because they can't account for rapid market changes and tech disruptions. But its estimates are often cited in various policy debates on issues ranging from education to immigration.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Asus Can Keep Selling Tablets Using "Transformer" Label

Asus can continue to use the "Transformer" label for now, says a federal judge.

A federal judge has ruled in favor of Asus in its battle with Hasbro over the use of the "Transformer" label, allowing the company to continue selling tablets using the robotic name. Hasbro filed a lawsuit against Asus late last year, claiming that the use of "Transformer" was trademark infringement, and causes consumer confusion even though the tablet doesn't convert into a truck or a bright yellow Mustang.

In the lawsuit, Hasbro said that it contacted Asus about the original Transformer tablet sometime around its release, requesting that the company not use the Transformer name. But according to the lawsuit, "Asus refused to comply." The lawsuit also points to December 2011 ads promoting the Transformer Prime which use imagery that "closely resembles imagery used in Transformers movies and video games, in particular evoking the Transformers home planet of Cybertron."

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Microsoft: Google's SPDY is nice for a faster Web, but...

Apparently Microsoft isn't content leaving one potentially important speed boost for the Web to Google.

The company last night announced a plan to improve HTTP -- the Hypertext Transfer Protocol that browsers use to request Web pages and servers use to deliver them -- with a technology it calls HTTP Speed+Mobility. Google has proposed an idea called SPDY for speeding up HTTP and won an important ally at IETF, the group that oversees the standard and that's beginning work on a new HTTP 2.0.

But Microsoft wants a piece of the action, too. It thinks SPDY is OK but wants to augment it with the new WebSocket high-speed communications link between browsers and Web servers. WebSocket has begun arriving in browsers after a hiccup last year.

And Microsoft wants to extend the work so mobile apps, can take advantage of the performance improvement, too. "We think that apps -- not just browsers -- should get faster too. More and more, apps are how people access Web services, in addition to their browser," said Sandeep Singhal, program manager of Microsoft's Windows Core Networking group, and Jean Paoli, general manager of Microsoft's Interoperability Strategy, put it in a blog post about HTTP Speed+Mobility.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Microsoft's ads, humor boost consumer opinion of IE

Computerworld - Microsoft's recent campaigns touting Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), including a tongue-in-cheek promotion it unveiled last week, have moved IE's quality perception needle for U.S. adults, according to a brand quality measurement company.

"When we see an inflection [in the quality scores], we look at other events that are happening," said Ted Marzilli, the global manager for BrandIndex, a brand awareness and consumer perception service of U.K.-based YouGov.

While BrandIndex does not gauge reaction to specific ad campaigns, Marzilli called Microsoft's marketing moves "a contributing factor."

IE's perception index is at its highest level since January 2011, said Marzilli.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

As ultrabook makers seek stronger sales, some opt for low cost

Ultrabook suppliers are still dealing with pesky market and profitability issues, according to a CNET source and two reports. And some will turn to low-cost designs as a result.

"The ultrabook adoption during the holiday season was ugly," an industry source, who speaks to ultrabook suppliers, told CNET. That source was speaking about sales for one particular ultrabook vendor.

The market for all ultrabook suppliers, however, is still challenging. "You've got a down market on the eve of a new operating system (Windows 8) at a price point that's fairly robust (high)," said the source.
And Acer, a high-profile ultrabook vendor, said today that it is not making a profit for lower-end models, according to a report in The Verge.

Acer's Aspire S3 ultrabook is priced generally at $899.99 but can go as low as $799.99 at Best Buy.

Acer's chairman said in December that ultrabook sales should be between 250,000 and 300,000 in the fourth quarter.

Other first-tier vendors like Hewlett-Packard and Dell have only just begun to sell ultrabooks so it's not clear how they are faring.

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

IBM cuts more than 1,000 U.S. workers

Computerworld - IBM has laid off just over 1,000 employees so far this week, and more layoffs may be possible, according to an employee organization.

IBM never comments on the specifics of any cuts, and the only reason that the company's job action is noticeable is due to the Alliance@IBM/CWA Local 1701, which gathers its data directly from IBM employees.

The alliance keeps a running tally of cuts by business units while affected employees post comments on a bulletin board.

An alliance spokesman was uncertain as to how many employees will lose their jobs in this latest round of cuts. The employees are from multiple business units and locations in the U.S., and nearly half of the employees "are mobile or work from home," according to a union spokesman.

An IBM spokesman, in a statement, said IBM "is constantly rebalancing its workforce." The company went on to say that "that means reducing in some areas and hiring in others -- based on shifts in technology and client demand. This flexibility allows IBM to remain competitive and relevant in an industry that is constantly changing. And given the competitive nature of our business, we do not publicly discuss the details of our staffing plans."

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Microsoft Office for iPad: Separating fact from fiction

Summary: If the Daily.com is right, Microsoft’s Office for iPad could be launching well ahead of Office for Windows 8 on ARM tablets.

The Daily.com — the folks that brought us last year’s rumor that Microsoft planned to deliver Office for the iPad in 2012 — is back with an update.

On February 21, The Daily folks said that they had gotten a brief hands-on with Office on iPad. They also said they expected Office for iPad to be sent to Apple for approval “soon.” The Daily’s Matt Hickey is guessing that the release could be “in the coming weeks.”

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson said the screen shot accompanying The Daily’s story is not a picture of a real Microsoft software product. But the spokesperson also said Microsoft is declining to comment as to whether or not the company has developed a version of Office for the iPad and/or when such a product may come to market. I’ve asked Daily Editor Peter Ha and Matt Hickey, the author of The Daily’s piece, for a response (via Twitter). No word back so far from either.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Apple, Microsoft to duel in '12 with OS upgrades

Computerworld - This year is shaping up as a repeat of 2009, when Microsoft and Apple last faced off with rival operating system upgrades, analysts said today.

Three years ago, Microsoft rolled out Windows 7, it's last operating system upgrade, and Apple launched Snow Leopard, or Mac OS X 10.6.

Today, Apple began distributing a preview of Mac OS X 10.8, aka Mountain Lion, to developers, and said it would ship the final code "late summer 2012."

Meanwhile, most analysts agree that Microsoft is on pace to deliver Windows 8 to customers this year, probably in the fourth quarter. The company has slated the release of what it calls a "Consumer Preview" of Windows 8 for Feb. 29.

"It looks like both have the mobile OS religion," said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research.

Gottheil cited the similarities between the Microsoft and Apple strategies, pointing out that both show strong influence from the companies' mobile operating systems.

"It's interesting that both companies are taking big gambles this year with their operating systems," said Gottheil. "Both recognize that the form factor that's taken off, tablets and smartphones, requires an upgrade from the 25-year graphical user interface that's dominated PCs."

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Intel Adds Seven New Sandy Bridge Processors

Intel has quietly added seven new Sandy Bridge processors in the i5 and Celeron M series.

The i5-2550K with four cores and 3.4 GHz clock speed replaces the i5-2500K as the i5 flagship product and sells for a tray price of $225, while the 2500K remains at $216.

There are two new "P" processors in the lineup - the i5-2450P (quad-core, 3.2 GHz) and the i5-2380P (quad-core, 3.1 GHz). It is already challenging for the average PC buyer to read and interpret Intel's model numbers. The "P" has, of course, a cryptic meaning: These Sandy Bridges do not have a (functional) graphics core. Compared to their counterparts with graphics support, the P processors are slightly cheaper: The i5-2380P sells for $177, which is $7 less than the i5-2400 (quad-core, 3.1 GHz). The i5-2450P lists for $195, $10 less than the i5-2500 (quad-core, 3.3 GHz).

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Apple is biggest buyer of semiconductors, Gartner says

IDG News Service - Apple became the biggest buyer of semiconductors last year, ahead of Samsung Electronics and Hewlett-Packard, Gartner said on Tuesday.

Apple's increased semiconductor spending is the result of a number of factors. The company sold more smartphones, and its tablet business was also highly successful in 2011, according to Gartner. The success of the MacBook Air also increased Apple's semiconductor demand, it said.

Apple spent a total of $17.3 billion on semiconductors during 2011, compared to $12.8 billion during 2010, according to Gartner's estimates.

In general, smartphones, tablets and solid-state drives were the major spending drivers in 2011, according to Gartner.

Samsung remained the second-largest semiconductor purchaser, thanks to its improving fortunes in the smartphone sector. The company's semiconductor spending grew by 9.2% to $16.7 billion.

With semiconductor products such as memory priced as commodities, PC and phone vendors' semiconductor spending is related to sales of their finished products.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hard drive shortage nails Q4 PC growth, but Apple shines

Global PC shipments for the fourth quarter were down 0.2 percent compared to a year ago as the industry was nailed by hard drive shortages and competition from tablets, phones and e-readers, according to data from IDC and Gartner.

Only Apple—fueled by its solid state drive MacBook Air—skated by unscathed. Apple delivered fourth quarter growth of 18 percent in the U.S.

For 2011, the PC industry grew at a 1.6 percent clip. Europe and Asia was better than expected. Overall though, hard drive shortages and a pause ahead of Windows 8 are going to keep PC growth in check.

IDC expects first quarter shipments to slow, but then pick up in the fourth quarter. For 2012, IDC is expecting growth of 5.4 percent.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

802.11ac: Gigabit Wi-Fi Devices will be shipping in 2012

To network equipment we used to drag yellow cable about the size and flexibility of garden hose through buildings’ plenum spaces. It was an ugly job. It got better. Then, we got wireless networking and setting up networks got much easier. Still, physical networking usually delivered faster speeds than Wi-Fi networking. Now, things are changing. Broadcom is promising us that the first 801.11ac chipsets will bring us Gigabit wireless speeds without any cables at all.

Mind you, 802.11ac is still a standard in the making. Still, that hasn’t stopped Broadcom from announcing that it’s building 802.11ac chipsets, under the trademark name 5G WiFi, that will be “three times faster and up to six times more power efficient than equivalent 802.11n solutions.” How fast is that? Rahul Patel, Broadcom’s VP of mobile and wireless, promises that their implementation of 802.11ac will be able to deliver speeds of up to 1.3 Gigabits per second (Gbps). Now, that’s fast!

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