RT Jailbreak Tool Allows Third Party Desktop Apps To Run On Windows RT

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2013 - 06:55 AM |
Tagged: windows rt, microsoft, arm

One of the downsides to Microsoft’s ARM-powered Windows RT operating system is the lack of desktop applications. While Windows RT devices to retain the traditional Windows desktop, only Microsoft applications that come pre-packaged with Windows are allowed to run. Instead, Microsoft wants users to stick to Modern UI applications and the Windows Store to get new apps. (Granted, the ARM hardware powering these devices necessitates porting x86 desktop applications in order to run in the first place, but Windows RT locks out even recompiled apps).

Enthusiasts are working on changing that, however. A XDA Developers forum member known as Netham45 recently released a tool that allows users to run unsigned desktop applications on Windows RT. The new RT Jailbreak tool is a batch file that automates a hack discovered by another hacker known as clrokr.

The hack is currently only temporary, and needs to be redone after every computer restart. It does, however, allow Windows RT to run unsigned code on the desktop. After downloading the batch file, you run the runExploit.bat and follow the prompts. After it completes, you users can run recompiled desktop apps such as PuTTY, 7-zip, TightVNC, DOSBox, Quake 2, and more

While it is not a permaent solution, it is a step in the right direction, and makes ARM-powered Windows RT devices a lot more interesting and useful to power users. For more information on the RT Jailbreak hack, and to grab the batch file to unlock your WinRT tablet, check out this forum thread on the XDA Developers website

NVIDIA to rip the ARMs off of Surface?

Subject: General Tech | January 10, 2013 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface, winRT, tegra 4, nvidia, arm

NVIDIA's new Shield gaming device might have distracted your attention from another new product they demonstrated which could be even more important to their success, a fully functional WinRT tablet.  The tablet is powered by a Tegra 4 chip and apparently runs smoothly even on this OS which was theoretically designed for ARM hardware.  DigiTimes feels that this is a sign that NVIDIA, who have had a long if somewhat troubled relationship with Microsoft, could become a chip supplier for new Surface devices and tablets.  Hopefully in the near future we will get to see a head to head review of two devices powered by different chips so that we can see which provides the best experience.

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"Nvidia unveiled a pilot tablet based on its new Tegra 4 processor and Microsoft's Windows RT operating system at CES 2013, and since the device is already operating smoothly, Nvidia will have a chance of becoming the CPU supplier for next-generation Surface tablets or Windows RT-based tablets from other IT players, according to Digitimes Research senior analyst Eric Lin."

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Source: DigiTimes

Nokia Sold 4.4 Million Lumia Phones in Q4’12

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 08:23 AM |
Tagged: wp8, nokia, microsoft, lumia

Finnish handset manufacturer Nokia has released a preliminary report on last quarter’s WP8 handset sales. There is good news and bad news.

On the positive side of things, Nokia managed to sell approximately 4.4 million Lumia-series smartphones running the Windows Phone OS. While not spectacular, it is a healthy ramp-up in Lumia phone sales versus previous quarters. For example, in Q4 of 2011 the company sold 1 million Windows Phone handsets, and then it managed to sell 2.9 million in Q3 of 2012 resulting in both year over year and quarter over quarter growth. Another interesting figure from the report is that Nokia has sold a total of 14.3 million Lumia smartphones to date. Lumia sales in Q4 2012 have also managed to surpass the company’s 2.2 million Symbian OS phone sales in Q4’12.

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And now for the slightly-less-good news. The Lumia series (and Windows Phone 8 OS/handsets in general) continue to occupy the spot of ‘mobile OS underdog’ by a significant margin. To put the Lumia/WP8 sales in perspective, according to Android Authority, Samsung made $8.1 billion through sales of approximately 65.7 million Android smartphones. On the other hand, Nokia’s sales of Windows Phone hardware has surpassed its sales of phones powered by Symbian OS (at 2.2 million in Q4’12).

The numbers do seem to suggest that the market for Nokia Lumia handsets is slowly growing so it will be interesting to see sales figures a few years down the road. (Note that historic growth does not necessarily equal future growth. It does suggest that it is on the rise though. heh).

Source: The Verge

Microsoft To Open Additional Stores in 2013

Subject: General Tech | December 26, 2012 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, Microsoft Store

A new year is nearly upon us, and Microsoft today committed itself to expanding its retail presence throughout 2013. In a blog post, the Redmond-based company talked-up the successful launch of its 51 physical Microsoft Store locations. Reportedly, the retail venture was successful enough to warrant expansion. As such, the compnay will convert several of its pop-up stores to permanent locations as well as opening six new Microsoft Stores in new locations next year.

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Microsoft did not indicate how many of the pop-up locations will be converted and how many (if any) will be closed, but the post did detail the locations of the new stores. The lineup is as follows:

  • The Shops in La Cantera, San Antonio, Texas
  • Dadeland Mall in Miami, Florida
  • Beachwood Place in Beachwood, Ohio
  • Westfield San Francisco Centre in San Francisco, California
  • City Creek Center in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • St. Louis Galleria in St. Louis, Missouri

 

The expansion is encrouaging, and it seems that the store locations are worthwhile for Microsoft despite the less than stellar Surface tablet sales. The store in St. Louis will be interesting to see as it is somewhat close to me. You can find all of the details in the blog post on the company's Technet website.

What are your thoughts on Microsoft’s retail expiriment?

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft Rumored to Release Subscription-based Windows Blue Update in 2013

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2012 - 11:37 AM |
Tagged: Windows Store, windows blue, windows 8, update, subscription, OS, microsoft

In other Microsoft news, the company is rumored to be working on its next generation operating system. Codenamed Windows Blue, it will be a low cost upgrade for existing Windows users that will be based on a subscription service for updates.

Details are extremely scarce at this point but it does seem like a probable move from Microsoft. It does seem like Microsoft has been moving in that direction for some time now. According to The Verge in reporting on sources in the know, Windows Blue will keep the Windows 8 name for branding purposes but the OS will receive a new SDK, UI changes, and performance tweaks during yearly updates. The updates are due in mid-2013, and the Windows Blue update service will span from Windows 8 to Windows Phone (Windows Server was not mentioned). Oddly enough, with the Windows Blue update Microsoft will stop accepting new Windows Store applications built to run on Windows 8. The Windows Store will continue to allow existing Windows 8 applications, but will require developers to rewrite their applications using the new SDK in order to get them on the Store for users running Windows Blue subscription service.

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It is a lot to take in, and there are many unknowns at this point. Do you think Microsoft has a good idea with the yearly subscription model, or will it cause backlash from users used to the way Windows has worked for years. Especially those that buy an OEM system with a pre-installed OS and use it until something breaks. Will they be receptive to yet another subscription service for an OS that traditionally has been a one-time purchase?

Assuming it is a good idea, how much would you pay for yearly updates? Will the Windows Store be enough of a success to essentially subsidize the development cost and allow for cheap pricing on the subscriptions?

Find more details on the rumored Windows Blue subscription over at The Verge.

Source: The Verge

Microsoft Sells 40 Million Windows 8 Licenses in First Month

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2012 - 09:33 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, windows, upgrades, microsoft

Analysts and computer enthusiasts have been predicting the success (or demise) of Microsoft’s latest Windows 8 operating system for some time now. Fortunately, we finally have some rough sales numbers from the Redmond-based software company to go off of. In short, despite the controversial nature of the operating system Microsoft has a winner on its hands.

Microsoft Windows 8 Modern UI Desktop.jpg

As the first month of Windows 8’s retail availability came to a close, Microsoft’s Tami Reller announced that the company has sold 40 million licenses so far. The company did not specify how those licenses broke down as far as the SKU and how many were OEM/Upgrade/Retail copies. It is also unclear whether the free Windows 8 Pro keys the company accidentally gave out were included in the number (hehe).

One other interesting tidbit that Microsoft did share was that the Windows Store has seen several apps that have made more than $25,000 with the developer and Microsoft doing an 80/20-percent split of the revenue.

As a point of comparison, Windows 7 sold 60 million copes over a two month period, so it will be interesting to see if Windows 8 will surpass that 60 million mark at the end of next month or not. Right now, it is looking promising.There are quite a few things to be wary of in the new operating system, but there is also a lot of under-the-hood performance tweaks that are worth putting up with the other changes for. It will be interesting to see where the OS goes from here and how it is received on the enterprise side of things.

Source: Microsoft

Breaking News: Steven Sinofsky Leaves Microsoft Immediately

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 12, 2012 - 07:02 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, microsoft

Our regular viewers know that I am not too fond of Microsoft’s recent vision; I will get that out of the way right at the start. I am a major proponent of open platforms for uncensored art with perpetual support and Windows 8 shows all the signs of Microsoft turning its back on that ideology.

And Steven Sinofsky, the one who allegedly came up with that vision, is no longer with Microsoft: effective immediately.

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Not much in the line of reasoning is known about why Steven Sinofsky parted ways with his long-term career as head of Windows division. He had a clear and concise vision for his products and it was evident both in Windows 7 and in Windows RT.

Rumors exist that his fellow executives were not on pleasant terms with him. All Things D claims to have sources which suggest that his colleagues were unhappy with his conduct in terms of collaboration.

But that is all hearsay.

What it means for Microsoft is that the face that set sail is no longer at the helm. Microsoft could revert back to their twitchy attempts to appease everyone and abandon their vision. On the other hand it is entirely possible that the company could continue off on the last bearing set by Sinofsky.

No-one knows, but I stand behind my previous assertions that the PC industry will get messy in the next few years as things boil over at Microsoft.

Source: All Things D

Why talk about Win8 when you can hear about Windows Server 2012

Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2012 - 09:37 AM |
Tagged: HyperV, microsoft, windows server, WS2012, vmware, virtualization

Today is launch day for WS2012, the first new Microsoft server OS many years and it brings with it a host of changes.  While advertisers talk about 'the Cloud', server admins are into virtualization and that is a big part of the update to WS2012, with Hyper-V arriving an integral feature of the new server OS and highlights Microsoft's next target.  They've demonstrated the robustness of their virtualization implementation by running Bing and TechNet on Hyper-V, something very important for a relatively new piece of enterprise software to accomplish.  The specifications are impressive, from the amount of CPUs and addressable memory which can be granted to a VM, to the virtual Level-2 switches which can be created. Of course it is not all virtuality, a new ReFS disk format and built in file deduplication make this a much more impressive upgrade than the previous Server 2003 to Server 2008.  Read more and catch some movies at The Register.

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"In 1985, Commodore held the UK launch of the Amiga 1000 at the World of Commodore Show at the Novotel in Hammersmith. Twenty-seven years later, Microsoft used the same venue to host the Technical Launch of Windows Server 2012."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft Giving Away Free Media Center Keys For Windows 8

Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2012 - 01:55 AM |
Tagged: wmc, windows media center, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, microsoft, free

Microsoft has decided to separate Windows Media Center from its latest operating system, making it a paid add-on to Windows 8 Pro. This has the consequence of making users wanting to upgrade their home theater PCs to Windows 8 have to pay not only for the more expensive Pro version but the add-on pack with WMC as well. Needless to say, I was less than pleased to hear that news. Especially, since CableCard users are stuck with WMC if they want to watch or record any shows flagged with anything more restrictive than copy freely (copy once, copy never).

Fortunately, Microsoft has backed away ever so slightly from that position by giving away free WMC keys to users until January 31, 2013. You will still need to pony up for the Pro version of Windows 8, but at least you will not have to pay for the add-on pack to get what is essentially the same media center that is available in Windows 7.

WMC_Windows 7_Program Guide_Most Viewed Channels.png

You can obtain a key by heading over to this Microsoft web page and entering your email address. The company is offering up a single key per email address. Even if you do not currently have Windows 8, it might be prudent to grab a key just in case. Note that you will need to activate the key by January 2013 or it will expire, however.

Once you have Windows 8 Pro installed, to add Windows Media Center, open up the Start Screen and search for “add features.” Click on “Settings” and then “Add features to Windows 8.” You will then be prompted for a product key, and once you input the key Microsoft emailed to you, follow the remaining prompts to install it. A restart will be required (and is automatic, so save any open documents!), and then you can get your WMC fix.

The promotion will end on January 2013 so grab the free keys while they last!

Read more about Windows 8 at PC Perspective.

Source: Microsoft

Tired of hearing about WinRT yet?

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2012 - 10:32 AM |
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