Tired of hearing about WinRT yet?

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2012 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: win8, winRT, microsoft, tablet, surface

Now that you have finished reading and absorbing Scott's take on what WinRT will mean to developers of games and programs as well as users who have become habituated to the desktop being the computer you might wonder if there are any alternate viewpoints.  AnandTech offers a different take, starting with the history of tablets and touchscreens and the ways in which Microsoft has previously failed in that market.  They move onto the rational behind the decision to toss backwards compatibility out the window as well as how the app environment will likely change over the near future and the new locked down nature of the desktop.  You can finish up with a look at the current state of WinRT's apps such as Office 13 and the different versions of IE on these WinRT powered devices.

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"Meet Windows RT. It’s Microsoft’s first major foray into the modern tablet market, the shipping version of Windows-on-ARM, and it’s one of Microsoft’s most important product launches ever. Windows 8 shares the same touch-friendly user interface, but the ARM silicon makes RT an almost entirely tablet-centric operating system, the first for Microsoft. Combined with the focus on premium hardware experiences, this is Redmond’s most serious push to be competitive with the iOS and Androids of the world. How does it fare? Keep reading."

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Source: AnandTech

Microsoft Surface Launch Webcast

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2012 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: surface, microsoft

Interested in the Microsoft Surface?  Check out the live web stream of the Microsoft Surface Launch from New York City in about an hour at 10:30 AM PT/1:30 PM ET.

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Read more about Windows RT tablets at PC Perspective.

What do you think about the Microsoft Surface tablet? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Microsoft

Pricing of Retail Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro SKUs Revealed

Subject: General Tech | October 13, 2012 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: windows media center, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, upgrade, pricing, microsoft

The official release of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system is later this month on the 26th. Previously, Microsoft had announced promotional pricing for online upgrade versions, but retail pricing was unknown. Now, we are starting to see pricing for boxed editions of the OS that are available for pre-order from various retailers.

 

Image credit: The Verge.

The boxed editions will come with install media in the form of a DVD, but the in place upgrade pack and online promo deals will not come with any media. In that case, you will need to download an .ISO file from Microsoft's Digital River website. The pack that many home theater PC enthusiasts will want is the Windows 8 Pro Upgrade Pack that will upgrade a base Windows 8 install to Windows 8 Pro with Windows Media Center. Unfortunately, we do not yet know how much the base Windows 8 Upgrade SKU will cost – only that the full System Builder (OEM) edition will be $99 at retail. Depending on the price of the add-on pack with WMC, it may be better to go with the Windows 8 Pro Upgrade for $39.99 (promo until January 31, 2013) and buy the add-on separately. It's difficult to say either way since we don't know what the final prices for the add-on will be.

Windows 8 SKU Media Pricing Pricing after Promo
Windows 8 Pro Upgrade (with OEM PC) None $14.99 N/A
Windows 8 Pro Upgrade (Online) None $39.99 $69.99
Windows 8 Pro Upgrade DVD $69.99 $199.99
Windows 8 System Builder DVD $99.99 ?
Windows 8 Pro System Builder DVD $139.99 ?
Windows 8 Pro Pack In-Place Upgrade None $69.99 $99.99

If you already have a copy of a previous edition of Windows (XP, Vista, or 7), you will be able to get Windows 8 fairly cheap thanks to the promotional pricing. If you are wanting to get Windows 8 onto a new machine without a previous license however, it's going to cost you. Personally, I would have liked to see Microsoft offer better promo pricing on non-upgrade versions as well. Currently, Newegg has several Windows 8 SKUs up for pre-order along with a shell shocker promo code (EMCJNJH82) for $10 off a pre-order until the end of the weekend.

What do you think about the pricing? Will you be buying into Windows 8 on the 26th?

Lenovo Launches Yoga 11 Windows RT Tablet

Subject: Mobile | October 10, 2012 - 10:26 PM |
Tagged: yoga 11, windows rt, tegra 3, tablet, nvidia, notebook, microsoft, Lenovo

At an event in New York earlier this week Lenovo announced a new Windows RT tablet called the Yoga 11. It will be joining the company’s lineup alongside the larger x86-powered Yoga 13.

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The Lenovo Yoga 11 follows in the footsteps of the Yoga 13 but steps down the hardware specifications. The 11.6” tablet is 15.6mm thick and 2.8 pounds. On a simple level, the Yoga 11 is a notebook that doubles as a tablet thanks to the five point multitouch screen that can swivel 360 degrees to lay flat like a tablet.

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The notebook will come pre-loaded with Microsoft’s upcoming Windows RT operating system as well as Office 2013 RT. It is powered by a NVIDIA Tegra 3 ARM System on a Chip (SoC) and 64GB of internal storage. What we don’t know yet is the amount of RAM, radio support (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE, et al) if any, and the specific display resolution and panel type. Lenovo has announced that the Yoga 11 will be able to get up to 13 hours of usage on a single charge.

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The Yoga 11 is a traditional notebook at first glance, and it even includes a full Qwerty keyboard and trackpad. Where the Yoga differentiates itself is in the screen hinge. The hinge allows you to swing the display all the way around to lie flat against the bottom of the computer, which amounts to tablet mode, and every position in between. One use for this feature would be to show off presentation to a small group or prop it up on an airplane to watch a movie. It is essentially a convertible tablet without the center-mounted swivel hinge.

It certainly looks like an interesting device, and the Tegra 3 should provide enough GPU horsepower to allow you to watch HD videos with ease. Unfortunately, pricing and availability are still unknown, which makes this a hard product to place or predict the success of.

Read more about Windows RT tablets at PC Perspective.

Source: NVIDIA

Acer Details Iconia W510 Convertible Tablet With Windows 8

Subject: Mobile | October 9, 2012 - 12:09 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, microsoft, Intel, iconia w510, atom, acer

Earlier this month, Acer announced its Ivy Bridge powered W700 tablet, and now it is time for its little brother to be announced: the Iconia W510 convertible tablet.

The Iconia W510 is a 10.1” tablet that will run Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system and any x86 applications. The tablet itself is 1.27 pounds and 0.35” thick. On the outside, the W510 features a LED backlit IPS display with resolution of 1366 x 768 that can accept touch input and is protected by Gorilla Glass 2. Also present are two speakers, as well as a 2MP front facing camera and 8MP rear camera. Both of the cameras are capable of recording 1080p video.

Acer Iconia W510 Windows 8 Convertible Tablet (2).png

Ports on the Iconia W510 include a microSD card slot, micro HDMI video output, and a micro USB 2.0 port.

Internal specifications include an Intel Atom Z2760 Clover Trail processor (which we recently reviewed) with two cores running at 1.5 GHz, 2GB of RAM, and either a 32 GB or 64 GB solid state drive (SSD). This configuration should result in a decent system for web browsing and running Office 2013, among other everyday tasks. It will not be nearly as speedy as the Ivy Bridge-powered W700, but this tablet is also coming in at a much lower price point.

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In addition to the tablet itself, Acer will be selling a keyboard dock. The $150 keyboard docks adds a physical keyboard, trackpad, and second battery. The dock also adds one additional (full size) USB 2.0 port.

Without the keyboard dock, Acer is claiming 9 hours of battery life. With the dock connected, Acer is further claiming that users will get up to 18 hours of battery life.

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There will be at least three SKUs of the Acer Iconia W510 tablet. It will be available for purchase in the US and Canada on November 9th. The W510-1674 will feature a 32GB SSD and no dock at a MSRP of $499.99. The W51-1422, on the other hand, will have a 64GB SSD and a bundled keyboard dock for $749.99 (MSRP). Finally, corporate customers will be able to purchase a W510P SKU with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and a two year warranty for $799.99.

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You can find more photos of the Icona W510 along with the full press release over at Engadget.

Read more about upcoming Windows 8 tablets at PC Perspective.

Source: Engadget

Microsoft desires it's name on hardware so much it is willing to compete with its self

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2012 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, win8, surface, google, Android, nexus 7, Samsung, Pegatron

Two companies which for the most part sold software only are making a name for themselves in the hardware sector, in two very different ways.  Google's Android has become quite a player and the upcoming release of the Nexus 7 platform is anticipated by many mobile players because Google has no intentions of making its own phones.  Instead they will make their money licensing the platform to a variety of established cellphone and tablet manufacturers, as they have in the past.  According to what DigiTimes has heard, Microsoft is going in the exact opposite direction with Surface and will be continuing with the same plan as their tablet, which has already caused negative backlash from many of the major player in the market such as Acer.  Designers of Microsoft Win8 based phones are required to use the same platform and interface in order to meet the requirements of Microsoft's licensing agreement which will make phones difficult to differentiate as competitors are very limited in the customization they can offer, at least on the software side.  To make the market even more confusing, Microsoft is reaching out to Pegatron to manufacture their own branded Surface phone, which will find its self in direct competition with the phones from established players, the ones Microsoft is count on to license the portable version of Win8.  It would be hard to come up with another way that Microsoft could make licensing their new OS even less attractive for OEMs and ODMs.

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"Google and Microsoft both reportedly plan to extend the Nexus 7 and Surface tablet lineups to include smartphones as a means to further increase the penetration of their own platforms, but the two companies will implement the strategies in a different tune, according to industry sources.

Google aims to launch smartphones based on its Nexus 7 platform in cooperation with a number of smartphone branded vendors with Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Sony Mobile Communications and HTC likely to be potential partners, said the sources.

On the other hand, Microsoft is reportedly tapping ODM maker Pegatron for the production of WP8-based smartphones slated for launch in the first half of 2013, the sources indicated."

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Source: DigiTimes

HTC Announces Windows Phone 8X and Windows Phone 8S Smartphones, Coming to Verizon (among others)

Subject: Mobile | September 20, 2012 - 08:23 PM |
Tagged: wp8, windows phone 8x, windows phone 8s, windows phone 8, snapdragon s4, microsoft, htc

Not content to let Samsung and Nokia have all the fun with Windows Phone 8, smartphone company HTC has announced two new WP8 devices. The results of a partnership with Microsoft, HTC will be releasing the Windows Phone 8X and Windows Phone 8S shortly following the official unveiling of the Windows Phone 8 operating system in October.

The HTC Windows Phone 8X will be the company’s flagship WP8 smartphone. On the outside, the HTC phone features a 4.2” Super LCD 2 display with a resolution of 1280x720 pixels (341 PPI). The smartphones will come in yellow, red, black, and blue colors. The front of the device is flat with a ring of color (of your choice) while the back and edges are rounded. No specific dimensions were given, but the smartphone weighs 130 grams. Cameras include a 2.1 MP front-facing camera for video calling that is capable of recording 1080p video as well as an 8 MP rear camera.

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Internal specifications include a 1.5GHz dual core SnapDragon S4 SoC, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and an 1800 mAh battery. Wi-Fi and NFC radios are also present, but the Windows Phone 8X does not appear to support US LTE networks similar to the Samsung ATIV S. On the audio side of things, HTC is touting Beats Audio functionality and an internal amplifier that will allow users to attach larger headphones to the HTC 8X.

The 8X is not the only Windows Phone 8 smartphone that HTC is releasing. Positioned as a budget WP8 option is the HTC Windows Phone 8S. This device goes for a two-tone approach by placing a strip of color along the bottom of the front that extends to fill the entire back. The area around the display is black, and the available colors include white, yellow, red, and blue. It weighs in at 113 grams, which makes it the lightest WP8 smartphone announced so far.

The front of the device features a 4” Super LCD with resolution of 800x480 (233 PPI), and a row of capacitive buttons. There is no front-facing camera on this smartphone, but it does have a mircoSD card slot (unlike the 8X).

Internal specifications include a dual core SnapDragon S4 SoC running at 1GHz, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, and a 1700 mAh battery. The HTC 8S does feature a 5MP rear camera that is capable of recording 720p video. Radios include Wi-Fi and at least 3G. It does not appear to support LTE networks. There is also no NFC support.

HTC WP8S.jpg

WPCentral got hands-on time with the 8S.

The HTC 8S also has support for Beats audio, and HTC is including a Beats Audio application that will allow users to adjust audio output settings.

HTC has not announced any specific pricing, but both models should be available for purchase in November. The HTC 8X smartphone will be supported on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the US. In Canada, Bell and Rogers will support the 8X, and in Europe it will be carried by Orange, O2, Telefonica, MTS, Three UK, T-Mobile, and Vodafone. Unfortunately, there is no word on which cellular networks will carry the HTC 8S. At least in the US, AT&T and T-Mobile seem like good bets.

Comparison of Upcoming Windows Phone 8 Devices

Current Windows Phone 8 Lineup.jpg

Some details are not official yet (LTE support), or unknown. 

The 8X and 8S are smaller than the Windows Phone 8 devices from Nokia and Samsung, and it will be interesting to see which design direction customers prefer. I would expect both of the HTC smartphones to be priced comptetively under the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 based on the specifications to try and lure potential customers in with a lower price tag and similar feature set. As far as raw specs go, the Lumia series seems to have the upper hand, but if HTC prices these right it could be a popular and 'good enough' alternative.

You can find more photos of the 8X over at WPCentral. The video below shows off both the HTC 8X and 8S and the design concepts behind them.

Source: The Verge

RIM is licensing from Microsoft, not the other way 'round

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2012 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: RIM, blackberry, microsoft, exFAT

While the news was enough to bump RIM stocks up somewhat this morning, the deal inked between Microsoft and RIM does not have Microsoft licensing hardware or software to RIM, instead it is the other way around.  RIM is licensing the exFAT operating system for use in its phones at an undisclosed price per device.  We know that Microsoft has charged $15/device from some other mobile companies; not that they paid it that way, instead it took a court case for Microsoft to get their full price.  Where exactly RIM is going to find the resources to pay for this deal is a mystery, the already cash strapped company is currently suffering from their new OSes failure to launch on time.  At least their new phones will be using a common format for their flash storage, assuming the company lasts until the BlackBerry 10 can be marketed.  More over at The Register.

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"Shares of Research in Motion spiked briefly on Tuesday on news that the struggling smartphone maker had signed a new licensing agreement with Microsoft, but investors who hoped the deal meant Redmond would bundle BlackBerry technology with its phones were in for a disappointment."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft is going out of their way to make Office 365 more attractive than its boxed cousin

Subject: General Tech | September 18, 2012 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: SaaS, office 365, office 2013, microsoft, cloud

Today The Register posted the pricing Microsoft plans for their two new office suites, the familiar semi-yearly upgrade that is Office 2013 and the brand new, yearly licensed cloud dwelling Office 365.  They are two very distinct products in many ways even if they both encompass the same software suite.  The boxed Office 2013 will come it the three flavours we are familiar with as well as pricing that remains in line with previous releases, though the licensing terms of one copy of Office per machine seem to be more strict and you may not be able to transfer a license to a new PC if your old one is forcibly retired.

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Office 365 on the other hand is a very different beast and it seems that Microsoft is offering a few carrots to tempt the home and small office users who didn't really jump onto the beta release of this new online version of Office.  Pricing is much less especially considering you get the same suite of programs as the most expensive boxed edition, though it is of course a  yearly fee. However at the cost of $100/yr a home user would only start paying more than the Professional Edition of the boxed set after the fourth year and you can bet that Microsoft would have released a newer version in the interim. 

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The other edition of Office 365 is intended for small to medium companies and as even the basic edition of 365 comes with Outlook, Access and Publisher, Microsoft needed to find another hook to attract customers.  That hook is a hosted Exchange server with a 25GB Outlook mailbox for each user, 10GB of online storage plus another 500MB per user, and HD Video conferencing which will more than likely use Skype.  The pricing isn't bad either, at $150 per license you do pay a bit for the extras but each Small Business Premium license allows the user to install Office 365 on five different machines, though only under their user and obviously nobody would ever share users to overcome that hurdle. 

This is a very different Office, which will have to compete with Open Office and Google's new offering as well.  It is hard to predict if small companies will jump on this new way of licensing Office but the lack of an announcement about an Enterprise Edition is very telling.

"Redmond is still offering shrink-wrapped versions of Office 2013 for those who prefer the old model. The suite will be available in three configurations: Home & Student for $139.99, Home & Business for $219.99, and Professional for $399.99.

All three bundle the same core components, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. The Home & Business edition adds Outlook, and the Professional edition throws in Publisher and Access."

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Source: The Register

Surprise! The Microsoft Surface won't be $200

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2012 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: surface, microsoft, obvious, ballmer

While Steve Ballmer did not give a firm price for his companies Surface Tablet, The Inquirer was given a range that starts well above the original $200 price tag.  The range he gave stretches from just over $300 to just over $800, fairly similar to the iPad range of pricing from the base 16GB WiFi only to the full 64GB WiFi and cellular.  The hardware of Surface tablet is going to have to shine in order to compete in the tablet market, as simply running Windows 8 will probably not be enough to make it stand out, if sales of Win7 based phones and tablets are any indicator.  The pricing may appease some of Microsoft's clients such as Acer, who were more than a little upset at Microsoft's announcement that they were getting into hardware instead of simply licensing manufacturers to use the Win8 OS and branding.

Apparently there is a way to get both a Surface Tablet and a Win8 phone on the cheap, Microsoft will be handing out one of each to all of its full time employees.

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"200 Microsoft dollars"

"BOUNCY MICROSOFT CEO Steve Ballmer has refused to put a price on the Windows Surface tablet and has only given a ballpark figure of somewhere between £200 and £500.

What this means is that a Windows Surface tablet will cost more than an Android tablet, such as the Asus Nexus 7 for example, but less than an Ipad."

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Source: The Inquirer