Subject: Editorial, General Tech | March 16, 2014 - 03:27 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows, mozilla, microsoft, Metro
If you use the Firefox browser on a PC, you are probably using its "Desktop" application. They also had a version for "Modern" Windows 8.x that could be used from the Start Screen. You probably did not use it because fewer than 1000 people per day did. This is more than four orders of magnitude smaller than the number of users for Desktop's pre-release builds.
Yup, less than one-thousandth.
Jonathan Nightingale, VP of Firefox, stated that Mozilla would not be willing to release the product without committing to its future development and support. There was not enough interest to take on that burden and it was not forecast to have a big uptake in adoption, either.
From what we can see, it's pretty flat.
Paul Thurrott of WinSupersite does not blame Mozilla for killing "Metro" Firefox. He acknowledges that they gave it a shot and did not see enough pre-release interest to warrant a product. He places some of the blame on Microsoft for the limitations it places on browsers (especially on Windows RT). In my opinion, this is just a symptom of the larger problem of Windows post-7. Hopefully, Microsoft can correct these problems and do so in a way that benefits their users (and society as a whole).
Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2014 - 03:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, office, office 365, tablet
The newest member of Microsoft's cloudy version of the world's most common productivity software is called Office 365 Personal and it will provide a single license which can be used on a PC or Mac and one tablet. The subscription will cost less than the current Office 365 Home Premium which allowed up to five devices access but only offered a version of Office dubbed Office Mobile for tablets and phones. This will not be the watered down version of Office that ships with WinRT on Surface and while The Register was provided some hints on what the new software will look like we won't be seeing any demos until closer to the launch which will take place this Spring.
"Microsoft will soon debut a new formulation of its Office 365 subscription service aimed at individual consumers, the company said on Thursday, and in the process it hinted that new, touch-centric Office apps may be coming soon."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Google starts encrypting search data to protect users from NSA snooping @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft gives away Windows Phone 8 licences in India – report @ The Register
- HTC One 2 release date, specs, rumours and price @ The Inquirer
- VLC Player beta arrives for Windows 8 @ The Inquirer
- The real story behind Twin Galaxies @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 5, 2014 - 08:28 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, gdc 14, GDC, DirectX 12, amd
The announcement of DirectX 12 has been given a date and time via a blog post on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) blogs. On March 20th at 10:00am (I assume PDT), a few days into the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, the upcoming specification should be detailed for attendees. Apparently, four GPU manufacturers will also be involved with the announcement: AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm.
As we reported last week, DirectX 12 is expected to target increased hardware control and decreased CPU overhead for added performance in "cutting-edge 3D graphics" applications. Really, this is the best time for it. Graphics processors are mostly settled into highly-efficient co-processors of parallel data, with some specialized logic for geometry and video tasks. A new specification can relax the needs of video drivers and thus keep the GPU (or GPUs, in Mantle's case) loaded and utilized.
But, to me, the most interesting part of this announcement is the nod to Qualcomm. Microsoft values DirectX as leverage over other x86 and ARM-based operating systems. With Qualcomm, clearly Microsoft believes that either Windows RT or Windows Phone will benefit from the API's next version. While it will probably make PC gamers nervous, mobile platforms will benefit most from reducing CPU overhead, especially if it can be spread out over multiple cores.
Honestly, that is fine by me. As long as Microsoft returns to treating the PC as a first-class citizen, I do not mind them helping mobile, too. We will definitely keep you up to date as we know more.
Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2014 - 03:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, surroundweb
Microsoft is working on a new way to display the web to you, projecting it onto your walls. They make use of Kinect to map your walls so that they can pick where to beam your content. According to what Microsoft told The Inquirer, they can manage to project sites at 30 frames per second with up to 25 screens and up to a 1440x720 resolution. They make a nod to security concerns, it seems that the information about what your room contains will not be sent back to the website you are viewing.
"Called Surroundweb, the software is peddled by Microsoft as an "immersive room experience". However, as far as we can see, it's simply a means of projecting different parts of a web page on different surfaces around a room."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft adds nag screens as Windows XP End of Life looms Chris Merriman @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft integrates Skype with Outlook.com @ The Inquirer
- How to Use htaccess to Run Multiple Drupal 7 Websites on Your Cheapo Hosting Account @ Linux.com
- Radeon Gallium3D Performance Gets Close To Catalyst On Ubuntu 14.04 @ Phoronix
- In spinning rust we TRUST: HGST slips out screamingly fast ... HDD @ The Register
- New Attack Hijacks DNS Traffic From 300,000 Routers @ Slashdot
- Exclusive interview with Tobias Brinkman from OCZ @ Kitguru
- Antec USA & EU Joint Giveaway @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | March 2, 2014 - 10:34 PM | Scott Michaud
According to Kara Swisher at Re/code, two of Microsoft's Executive Vice Presidents are leaving the company. Tony Bates, EVP of Business Development and Evangelism, and Tami Reller, EVP of Marketing, are expected to have their departure announced to the public on Tuesday. Tony Bates joined the company during the Skype acquisition in 2011, while Tami Reller has been with Microsoft since it acquired Great Plains Software in 2001. While Bates is expected to depart immediately, Reller is expected to remain for a while and "help with the transition".
Video Credit: Dilbert Youtube Channel
Seeing the Microsoft reorganization, it should be quite obvious how expensive they can become. They are struggling to find a path for their products that their customers actually want to go down. At the same time, people seem to be flying in every direction. I just wonder if these are the final movements.
Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2014 - 02:16 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: microsoft, Windows Store, appstore
Microsoft introduced its own application download repository with Windows 8 along with an SDK for developers to put together touch friendly applications around the formerly-Metro-No-Longer-Modern-Whatever-It-Is-Called-This-Month user interface. Dubbed the Windows Store, it would be the source of applications for Windows RT, Windows Phone, and Windows x86/64 alike.
Since the release of Windows 8 Consumer Preview in February 2012, users have been able to use the Windows Store application to search for and download both free and paid-for apps. The Windows Store is a curated marketplace with applications that must be certified for compatibility by Microsoft who takes a percentage of sale price (30% or less depending on number of downloads).
At the end of last year, Microsoft had approximately 142,000 apps listed in the Store. Further, the company is seeing as many as 4 million application downloads per day from the Store. The 4 million downloads per day number was uncovered by Alex Wilhelm at TechCrunch, and is a 134.6% increase over the downloads/day number from October 2013. The breakdown of application type is pre-dominately free with paid applications acconting for less than half of the daily downloads (which makes sense).
At the current download rate, Microsoft could push as many as 1.46 billion app downloads a year. All things considered, the Windows Store is still dwarfed in downloads, number of apps, and popularity by the iOS, Google, and Mac app stores, but it is showing a surprising amount of growth lately. Hopefully this rise in popularity will beget more popularity from the cycle of developers getting interested in the Store and users getting new applications. (Ideally, as the Windows Store userbase grows, developers will have increased incentive to program new, or port existing, apps
to Metro which should further bring in new users and so on).
Have you used the Windows Store to find new Start Screen apps?
Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2014 - 12:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: win8, surface, microsoft
DigiTimes does not specifically mention Surface but there are not too many devices running Windows 8 which can be purchased for under $250. By reducing the licensing fee by $35 for machines that are at that price level Microsoft might make system builders a little more interested to include low cost Windows 8 machines in their lineup as they can sell at a higher margin or at a lower MSRP. Of course consumers would still have to buy them for those companies to make a profit and it seems very unlikely that a 10% price reduction will convince people they need a Surface or similar device when there are so many other alternatives available. It does make you wonder if you could get your hands on a Win8 license at a lower cost if you promise to install it on a cheap system.
"Microsoft plans to further decrease Windows 8.1 licensing rates for entry-level PCs priced below US$250 and tablets, from nearly US$50 currently to about US$15, according to Taiwan-based PC supply chain makers."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Netflix Blinks, Will Pay Comcast For Network Access @ Slashdot
- MWC: Qualcomm outs 64-bit octa-core chips, the Snapdragon 610 and 615 @ The Inquirer
- D-Link DIR-868L & DWA-182 Wireless AC Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Safari, Mail and more hit by SSL snooping bug on Mac OS X 10.9, fix 'soon' @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2014 - 09:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, microsoft
PC Gamer reports that Jason Holtman has left Microsoft after being there just six months. Little is known about his departure, or even what he accomplished at Microsoft beyond his "Head of PC Gaming and Entertainment Strategy" title, but the publication hopes to have more details soon.
It does appear as if he chose to leave.
Image Credit: Microsoft-News
Prior to joining Microsoft, Holtman served as the director of business development for seven years at Valve. He is credited with a lot of Steam's success, from content deals to their wildly successful "Summer Sales".
We do not really have much beyond that, yet.
Readers, how do you think this reflect Microsoft's stance toward PC gaming?
Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2014 - 07:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows xp, windows, microsoft
Windows XP will be end-of-life in just 59 days and Microsoft is concerned. They want to enlist their blog readers as tech support who encourages the upgrade to Windows 8.1 directly, or by the purchase of a new PC. Of course, they are not going to provide any incentive or discount. They just hope that a little peer pressure is all they need.
I will not beat someone up for being a dreamer, but...
The security nightmare is real, however. It is expected that attackers are hoarding vulnerabilities until after April 8th, when open security holes will remain without patch. Some customers will be allowed paid extra support, apparently at the price of $200 per PC for a year. Of course, this is common practice and can limit the number affected by the rumored malware apocalypse.
Then again, I expect that plenty of those machines are already ripe with infection.
Microsoft seems to be hoping that the exodus from Windows XP will land in Windows 8.1 and solve two problems at once. Windows 7 is still available in devices and resellers who stocked up on old installation media, both in spite of Microsoft (rather than endorsed).
For the rest of us, sit back and watch. I will make a crazy prediction and claim that, sometime between now and June, Microsoft should flinch in some way. It could be the re-introduction of Windows 7, some promotion or discount for retailers or system builders, or whatever.
I think they will be disappointed by April.
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2014 - 02:34 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, CEO
We are a little late on this news, but the hunt for a new Microsoft CEO is over. Satya Nadella, an internal choice from the enterprise division, will take over the entire company. Apart from a little buzz around Stephen Elop, and a lot of it around Allan Mulally, he was the figure on the rumors. Even though the decision was not shocking, it does question Microsoft's role in consumer devices.
Satya only mentioned devices and services twice in his first email to employees.
Speaking of his introductory email, Satya claims to have asked Bill Gates to "devote additional time to the company". He has been a Microsoft employee for over two decades and he will be supported by its famous co-founder. All of this follows the attempts to discover outside candidates and re-invent the company.
More confusingly, the aforementioned first email contained the line, "This is a software powered world", as a single-line paragraph. He wanted to make this sentence perfectly clear. He believes that Microsoft is the only company with routine success developing platforms and ecosystems. Microsoft has not felt this much like Microsoft in quite some time, which contrasts the last two years of corporate soul-searching.
Then again, those were some of their best years.