Subject: Systems | July 3, 2012 - 03:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, overclocking
If you've ever wondered if it was worth hitting that 'Report to Microsoft' button after you experienced a BSoD then perhaps this paper from Microsoft Research will enlighten you. After studying reports from 1 million machines that suffered CPU or memory problems, Microsoft broke down all of the data into both failure types and machine types so that they can contrast the results of overclocking laptops and desktops from both major CPU vendors as well as breaking the desktops into ones assembled by a major vendor and ones assembled either by the owner or by a small business.
The basic results are easy to sum up laptops are less likely to crash than desktops, CPU errors are more likely than memory errors and underclocking will indeed make your system less prone to crashes. You are also less likely to see crashes on machines purchased from a major vendor than one assembled yourself or by a small business. Of course the whitebox versus brand name ratings cannot differentiate between someone who just built a PC for the first time and one assembled by a veteran so it is possible that that rating is a little skewed.
As for overclocking, you can see that the results are split between Vendor A and Vendor B as opposed to being labelled Intel and AMD but most readers will be able to make an intelligent guess as to which is which. TACT represents Total Accumulated CPU Time, which does not have to be contiguous and could represent quite a few weeks of ownership if the computer in question is only run for a few hours a day and then shut off. Whether this time was accumulated quickly or spaced out, it shows that overclocking either vendors chips will have a significant impact on the stability of your system. Again, there is no division into experienced overclockers and neophytes nor between those who overclock manually or with software or hardware included with the motherboard they chose. Even still the impact on stability is very large regardless of vendor and if you crash once you can be almost guaranteed to crash a second and third time. The table only focuses on the first three crashes as by the time that third crash occurs it is obvious they will continue until something is changed. Check out the abstract here or just head straight to the bottom of that page for the full PDF of results.
"Researchers working at Microsoft have analyzed the crash data sent back to Redmond from over a million PCs. You might think that research data on PC component failure rates would be abundant given how long these devices have been in-market and the sophisticated data analytics applied to the server market — but you’d be wrong. According to the authors, this study is one of the first to focus on consumer systems rather than datacenter deployments."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Tech Report's Summer 2012 system guide
- CyberPower PC Gamer Xtreme 2000 SE @ Bjorn3D
- HP Phoenix h9-1120t System Review: HP's Gaming Desktop Round Two with Tahiti and Ivy Bridge @ AnandTech
- Building A 96-Core Ubuntu ARM Solar-Powered Cluster @ Phoronix
- Asus Republic Of Gamers Tytan CG8580 @ Kitguru
- Dell XPS One 2710 Review: The Premium All-in-One @ AnandTech
Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2012 - 11:22 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, microsoft, software, operating system
A few days ago we covered the Windows 8 upgrade process, and specifically what Microsoft will allow you to bring with you into a Windows 8 install from a previous version of the operating system. At the time of writing, we did not know the pricing for upgrade editions. However, today Microsoft released pricing information for upgrade licenses of the Windows 8 OS.
Through January 31, 2013, you will be able to purchase an upgrade version of Windows 8 Pro for $39.99 in 131 markets. Even better, you will further be able to add Windows Media Center for free via the “add features” option in Windows 8 after you have performed the update. The forty dollar price only includes the digital download version of the operating system. Using it, you will be able to either create your own media (USB or DVD) or purchase a physical installation DVD from Microsoft for an additional $15 plus shipping and handling.
The Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant is Microsoft’s recommended vehicle for installing Windows 8 over a previous version, but they are also allowing clean installs. The upgrade process is very similar to past transitions (say, from Vista to 7). The difference is that you do not need to have the media downloaded to begin the upgrade. After purchasing, it has a built-in downloader that will download the required files and verify them (you can further pause and resume the download).
If you prefer to buy locally, you will be able to purchase a retail-packaged version of Windows 8 Pro Upgrade for $69.99 until January 31, 2013. Beyond the upgrade versions, Microsoft has announced that System Builder versions of Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro will be available, though they did not state a specific price for the DIY-friendly versions.
You can find more information over at the Windows 8 blog, but I have to admit that it is a much more attractive price than I expected for the Pro version (much less free WMC!). Is this a price that might convince you to upgrade, or will you be sticking with a previous Windows version regardless?
Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2012 - 04:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, windows, upgrade, operating system, microsoft
ZDNet has managed to get its hands on some details regarding Microsoft’s Windows 8 upgrade paths. The company will support upgrade installations from XP SP3 to Windows 7 in various forms, and with some caveats. Users will not be able to do cross-language upgrade installs or upgrades from x86 (32-bit) to x64 (64-bit) Windows 8 (or vice versa).
Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system (check out our guide) is set to be available to consumers this fall, and the company has started prepping its partners on how the upgrade process will work for users running previous versions of Windows. The short answer is that users running at least XP with Service Pack 3 will be able to perform an upgrade install to a version of Windows 8 with the same language and architecture as the current version. The longer answer is that – while you may be able to upgrade – you may not be able to keep all of your applications, system settings, and/or data when moving to Windows 8 depending on your particular configuration.
Let’s run down some example upgrade situations.
For users running Windows XP SP3 or higher, you will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 and keep all of you personal files. You will lose all system settings and installed applications, however.
If you are currently running Windows Vista pre-Service Pack 1 (SP1), you will be able to perform an upgrade installation to Windows 8. You will be able to keep your personal files, but will lose any installed applications and system settings.
If you have Windows Vista SP1 (or newer), you will be able to keep your personal files and system settings. On the other hand, you will lose any installed applications as a result of the upgrade to Windows 8.
Further, as general rules of thumb, you can upgrade to Windows 8 (non-Pro version) from Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic, and Windows 7 Home Premium installs. You will be able to keep all of your settings, files, and applications. Also, you can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Pro, and Ultimate and keep the same system configuration, installed applications, and personal files. If you are a volume licensee currently running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterpirse, you will be able to perform and upgrade installation to Windows 8 Enterprise without losing any data, settings, or applications.
Just as with previous releases of Windows, if you want to move to the new version of Windows that has either a different language or different architecture (32-bit/64-bit), you will be required to perform a clean installation (not a bad idea in any event, actually). One detail that has not been released (or leaked) yet is pricing and whether or not we will see steep discounts for student versions, those that tested any of the Windows 8 preview builds, or family packs. If you eschew the DIY route and buy a new OEM computer between now and January 31, 2013, you will qualify for a Windows 8 Pro upgrade copy for $14.99, however. It will be interesting to see just how Microsoft prices its upcoming operating system, especially before any applicable discounts. Microsoft has streamlined the number of SKUs but also made Pro the version to get for even some home users; and because it’s the equivalent of Windows 7 Ultimate where they price it will be interesting (or rather disheartening should I let the cynical side of me win out).
Have you tried Windows 8 yet, and if so, will you be upgrading to it once it’s officially released? Any guesses on the final prices?
Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2012 - 01:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: surface, ultrabook, Pegatron, windows rt, windows 8, tablet, microsoft, arm, tegra 3
You've met Microsoft's two new Surface Tablet by now, either in Scott's write up or elsewhere on the net and are aware that there is a less expensive ARM and Tegra 3 version and a more expensive Ivy Bridge model. What you might not have known is the expected pricing, a lack that DigiTimes remedies this morning with the prediction the WinRT model will cost at least $600 and the Win8 model more than $800. Both are being assembled by Pegatron Technology but the amount being assembled is still unknown. The Surface Tablet is certainly attention grabbing but it costs significantly more than other tablets and many full notebooks, but it likely to be lower priced than either Intel or Apple's ultraportable devices which puts it in an odd spot in the market. How many will be willing to pay that much for a multi-touch tablet with dock?
"Sources from notebook players have revealed that Microsoft's 10.6-inch Surface tablet PCs will be outsourced to Pegatron Technology for assembly; however, there is still not a firm estimate for order volumes.
The sources also estimated the end-market price of the Windows 8 Pro-based Surface tablet PC with Ivy Bridge processor to be at least above US$799, while the Windows RT-based model, featuring Nvidia's Tegra 3, will be priced above US$599."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The obligatory Surface blog post @ The Tech Report
- NVIDIA Responds To Linus Torvalds @ Slashdot
- Getting root on a Sony TV @ Hack a Day
- Fujitsu cracks 278-digit crypto @ The Register
- Mellanox FDR InfiniBand pushes PCI-Express 3.0 to the limits @ The Register
- Nikon D3200 Review @ TechReviewSource
- How to Convert Cassette Tapes to CDs or MP3 Files @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | June 18, 2012 - 09:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, tablet, microsoft
Steve Ballmer led the enigmatic announcement of “Surface”, a Microsoft branded consumer tablet. The tablet will contain a 10.6” display and run either Windows RT or Windows 8 Pro depending on whether you choose the NVIDIA-powered ARM variant or the higher-end Intel x86-based sibling. The device’s cover will contain a built-in Bluetooth keyboard and multi-touch trackpad.
Microsoft generated a lot of hype around their latest announcement.
In the end what we received the entirety of what was expected -- except the product looks compelling.
The Surface, borrowing the brand from their business-oriented smart table products, is a series of consumer tablets with a 10.6” 16x9 form factor. Would you like a full Windows 8 Pro experience on an Intel device or would you prefer a thinner and lighter Windows RT device powered by an NVIDIA ARM processor? Let us weight the Pro and cons.
So would this be like -- an Ultra…clipboard? Ooo -- Ultraclippy, that has brand power.
Early reports testify that the device feels well built. The announcement made somewhat of a big deal that the tablet has a magnesium chassis and a Gorilla Glass 2 screen. You will cover the screen of the device with a small Bluetooth keyboard which will be available in a few colors. With the tablet resting on its included kickstand and its keyboard cover flowing out from beneath it -- the Surface looks very similar to a laptop.
So -- magnesium chassis. This should be fun to thermite.
The Intel variant will feature a larger battery although extra battery life is not an immediate guarantee. The Pro device will allow for MicroSDXC cards, USB 3.0, and mini DisplayPort output. Both devices feature 2x2 MIMO antennae for their WIFI connectivity which could provide a fair chunk of bandwidth for streaming media.
Pricing and availability are currently unannounced except that they will be comparable to what is available. The ARM device will be available in 32 and 64GB models with the x86 Pro-class device available in 64 and 128GB.
Subject: General Tech | June 1, 2012 - 11:51 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: win8, microsoft, release preview
The Developer Preview of Windows 8 has been around quite a while now, yesterday's release of the almost final version of Windows 8 is what is now creating the online buzz. Visually they indistinguishable, Metrosexual lucky Charms are still your main interface with a vastly increased amount of touch interface options for those who are using a device with that capacity. It also has an integral pop-up keyboard and a lock screen, making it incredibly similar to a smart phone. TechReviewSource did not delve below the surface to examine the technical changes to the OS but you can be assured that there will be information forthcoming on PCPer's front page in the near future. In the mean time take a look at some of the new interface options in TRS' article.
"This is an early look at Windows 8 Release Preview, Build 8400, installed on a slick and slim Samsung Series 9 ultrabook. Our take on the latest publicly available version of the next Microsoft operating system follows, but at the outset you should realize one thing: In appearance, it's nearly identical to the Consumer Preview released late last February."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Welcome to the Benchmarking Sweatshop @ The Tech Report
- Vint Cerf and Google want a .lol domain @ The Inquirer
- Oracle will roll out cloudy services next week – Ellison @ The Register
- Microsoft hands out tools to sneak Skype onto new PCs @ The Register
- Newer Technology Power2U (USB Wall Power) @ Tweaktown
- Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Review @ TechReviewSource
- Win a Gigabyte G1 Sniper M3 Board with GB and KG
Subject: General Tech | May 30, 2012 - 11:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, windows, software, release preview, operating systems, microsoft
Update: The Windows 8 Release Preview is now official. You can download the ISO images here. If you are following our installation guide, you will need to use the following CD Key to complete the installation: TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF.
According to The Verge, Microsoft fans will be getting a nice surprise tomorrow when the company releases the Release Preview of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system. What was first set to debut in early June, sources are indicating that Microsoft will officially release it tomorrow–a week early.
The Release Preview is Microsoft’s third official build for public consumption, following the Developer and Consumer previews respectively. This build is said to include hints at what the aero-less desktop will look like (though users won’t see the full UI changes until the final retail build) as well as built-in Adobe Flash in the Metro UI version of Internet Explorer. Although I can’t say I’m thrilled about the many changes in Windows 8, I’ll still be downloading the new Release Preview to give Microsoft another chance to make me like Windows 8 (hopefully they can). If you do download it, don’t forget about our Windows 8 Virtual Machine installation guide.
Will you be checking out the Release Preview?
In other Windows 8 news:
- Microsoft Taking out DVD Playback (codecs) in Windows 8
- Windows Media Center a Pro-only paid add-on
- Dell tablet running Windows 8 news
- Install Windows 8 In a Virtual Machine
Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2012 - 06:31 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Windows 7, windows, microsoft signature, microsoft
Microsoft’s Signature program is a Microsoft Store and online service where the company resells OEM partners’ computers without all the traditional bloatware programs. The company puts a clean install of Windows on the hardware, installs Microsoft applications–including Microsoft Security Essentials, Live Movie Maker, and Live Mail–and optimized the OS for that particular machine’s hardware. This Signature install of Windows has only been available to users that purchased a new computer from Microsoft–until now.
According to Ars Technica, Microsoft is now offering to turn any OEM PC running Windows into a Signature edition of the operating system for a one-time fee of $99. DIYers and enthusiasts are likely to scoff at the nearly hundred dollar price tag for popping in a Windows 7 install disc and doing a clean install, but the Signature service is most certainly not aimed at the technically savvy market to begin with. Rather, this is a service for ordinary computer users to get the most performance out of their computer while avoiding the numerous “optimize my PC” scams and malware-programs-masquerading-as-Windows-utilities minefield. Doing a clean install and then optimizing the OS can take at least an hour (though enthusiasts can generally shave that time down quite a bit), and a straight fee of $99 is a lot less than consumers are likely to find elsewhere (especially since that includes 90 days of tech support). And that’s where I think this program is okay, and even a good thing. Most OEM systems come pre-loaded with a bunch of unwanted programs and trial offers that serve no real purpose besides making the OEM more money. There is also the issue of security. The majority of OEM systems come pre-loaded with some form of trial antivirus (usually Norton), and customers are notorious for not upgrading to the paid edition after the trial period or replacing it with (better) free antivirus applications. For $99, Microsoft will take the OEM machine and spruce it up to be the operating system that it should have been running in the first place. Besides price, the other barrier to this catching on is that customers need to bring the PC into a Microsoft Store (which are few and far between).
That statement is where many users are not pleased with Microsoft. They believe that Microsoft should exert more control over what OEMs are allowed to do with its operating system. Certainly, that is the ideal solution, but Microsoft is not Apple and they do not have the same level of control over the resulting hardware and what is bundled into the OS after it is purchased by OEMs. The Signature program is at least a step in the right direction and making the best of the situation. Also, it is an optional service that consumers are free to shop around to find a better price (or learn how to do it themselves by checking out guides online). It may not be the best thing, but at least Microsoft recognizes that there is a problem and is offering an alternative.
I’ll admit that I reacted unfavorably when I first read about the program, especially since it seemed so expensive for what comes as second nature to me. But not everyone wants to muck around in settings and for those with more money than time the Signature program is not a bad deal. It’s not for me, but I can see situations where it will work well. What are your thoughts on the program; do you see it as useful or is Microsoft way off base here?
Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2012 - 02:58 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbox 360, microsoft, gaming, console
The Xbox 360 has now been available in some form for almost seven years and has sold approximately 67.2 million units. Consumers are able to get the updated Xbox 360 4GB model for $199 USD at many retailers along with the Kinect add-on for $99. If that price still seems too steep, Microsoft has started to offer a subsidized Xbox 360 and Kinect bundle for those users lucky enough to live close to a physical Microsoft Store. There are currently 17 stores in a number of US states, with four more listed as "coming soon."
Microsoft is offering a two year contract of Xbox Live Gold for $14.99 a month. As a promotion for signing the contract, the company will sell a 4GB Xbox 360 S and Microsoft Kinect add-on for $99 USD. In total, the system will cost $458.76 plus applicable taxes–$359.76 for the monthly contract and $99 for the hardware. Interestingly, the subsidized cost ends up being more expensive than buying it outright. In under five minutes of searching around Amazon, I found 2 1 year subscriptions to Xbox Live Gold and an Xbox 360 S 4GB and Kinect hardware bundle for $380.20.
That isn’t surprising but is still interesting that the subsidized model with contract does end up being more expensive. If you can’t afford the upfront cost the subscription may be worth it, especially with the Xbox Next not coming this year. Buying the hardware outright is going to cost less but considering the Xbox is rather dated at this point, paying $99 for the hardware–with the Xbox Live Gold contract not being locked to that one console– may be a better deal should the next Xbox be released within that two year window then buying both consoles outright. At least then, you can apply the contract towards the new console and not be out as much money on the original hardware. In the end, it is a nice alternative method for getting the console and Kinect hardware.
Subject: General Tech | April 13, 2012 - 11:57 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, leak, office 15, internet explorer 10
Microsoft had a very atypical reaction to the leak of slides which you can catch at The Register this morning. While most companies disavow any knowledge of leaks and refuse to either confirm or deny the veracity of the leaks, Microsoft came out and confirmed that the plans and dates are correct but that no one should bank on them actually meeting those deadlines. March of next year is when Office 15 is slated to arrive, along with Exchange, SharePoint, Visio and Project updates. Office 360 should continue to receive updates every quarter, so users of that SaaS may be the first to encounter any changes that will be incorporated into Office 15. Any users of IE should expect a new version this summer, but after that it will be two years before the next major rehaul of the browser occurs.
"Maarten Visser, CEO of Dutch cloud developer consultancy Meetroo, posted the plans, which were issued by Redmond at the end of last year, on his Twitter stream and they include launch dates for product as Office 15, Windows Phone and IE 10. Microsoft has confirmed the veracity of the images, but warns you shouldn't bet the bank on them."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Real-time movie FX editing on the Flash PCIe cards @ The Register
- Open-Source NVIDIA Driver Approaches Stable State @ Phoronix
- Thunderbolt Roadmap Unveiled for 2013 Apple Macs @ VR-Zone
- When super-sized smartphones become pocketable tablets @ The Tech Report