Samsung Reveals Two New Windows 8 ATIV Tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 24, 2013 - 11:01 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, Samsung, office 2013, haswell, atom z2760, ativ tab 3, ativ q, ativ, android 4.2.2

Late last week, Samsung announced new hardware at an event in London. Among the products shown off, Samsung unveiled the 10.1" ATIV Tab 3 and the 13.3" ATIV Q Convertible notebook. Both machines are x86-64 and run the full version of Windows 8.

Samsung ATIV Q

The ATIV Q is the premium device, with Intel's latest Haswell processor, a high resolution display on a unique sliding hinge design, and a thin ultra-portable form factor. The 13" convertible notebook is 14mm thick and weighs about 2.8 pounds. The system features an impressive 13" touchscreen display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800 (275 PPI) and 178-degree viewing angles.

The ATIV Q has a unique sliding hinge design that allows the display to lay flat in slate tablet mode, held above the keyboard parallel to the keyboard, and in laptop mode with the display snapped to the top of the keyboard and at an angle. The display further supports the company's S-Pen stylus. In order to maintain the 14mm thick figure, Samsung has packed the processor and some of the other internals into the display hinge rather than the traditional placement in the laptop's base (under the keyboard). The hinge also hosts USB 3.0 and mini-HDMI ports. Here's hoping the build quality is good and the hinge is sturdy as having the internals packed into the hinge is a risky proposition.

Other IO (located around the laptop's base) includes USB, power, and Ethernet jacks. Note that the ATIV Q does not have a touch pad. Users will need to use the eraser point or the touchscreen to navigate.

Samsung ATIV Q Convertible Tablet.jpg

Internally, the ATIV Q features an Intel Core i5 CPU with HD 4400 graphics, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a battery that is reportedly capable of delivery 9 hours of normal usage. The integrated HD 4400 graphics will not get you much, but it is just barely enough to run older games at around 30 FPS at 1280 x 1024 and reduced quality settings according to reviews of systems with similar specs around the net.

On the software side of things, the ATIV Q runs the full version of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system. Samsung is also bundling the PC with a virtualized installation of Android 4.2.2 that runs on top of -- and can share files with -- Windows 8. Users can access and run traditional Windows applications, Windows 8 (Metro/Modern UI/Whatever It is Called This Week) apps, and applications from the Google Play store. The WIndows 8 and Android OSes further share folders such that files can be shared between them. Application shortcuts for the Android apps can also reportedly be linked to from the Windows 8 Start Screen.

ATIV Tab 3

The ATIV Tab 3 was also announced at the Samsung event in London. This device is a 10.1" tablet measuring 8.2mm thick and weighing 550g (approximately 1.21 lbs). It is powered by an Intel Atom Z2760 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. The 10.1" display has a resolution of 1366 x 768. Samsung is reportedly including a battery rated at 10 hours of usage. The system supports microSD cards for expansion, which is good because there is not going to be much storage space left for user-space files after the OS and bundled programs.

Samsung ATIV Tab 3 Atom Z2760 SoC.jpg

The ATIV Tab 3 comes with the full version of Windows 8 and the full version of Microsoft Office 2013.

Pricing and availability for the two new ATIV tablets has not yet been announced. The Q is a tablet to watch out of for though. So long as the build quality is there, I think it will be popular with those fans of convertible notebooks (of which I am one).

Source: Ars Technica

So, about that non-transferable Office 2013 license? Not so much.

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2013 - 10:24 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, office 2013

As many expected Microsoft has made an about face for the single machine licensing for Office 2013 which would permanently tie an Office 2013 serial number to a single machine.  In fact the licensing was so strict that an OS reinstall on a machine with an Office license would invalidate that license.  Now this would seem to be a way to convince customers to move to the subscription based Office 365 which has much a more lax licensing agreement when it comes to multiple machines.  Now all versions of Office 2013, barring the OEM version which has always had a rather draconian license, will allow the transfer of licenses as long as that license is only ever active on one single machine.  You can get more details on Microsoft's change of heart at The Register.

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"Based on customer feedback we have changed the Office 2013 retail license agreement to allow customers to transfer the software from one computer to another," Microsoft's Jevon Fark said in a blog post on Wednesday. "This means customers can transfer Office 2013 to a different computer if their device fails or they get a new one."

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Source: The Register

Office 2013 brings a Java powered app store?

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2013 - 09:47 AM |
Tagged: office 2013, microsoft

That might be exaggerating somewhat, Java runs between your library of apps and Office but the actual store is HTML and XML based; on the other hand why you need an app store for office or what these apps will be is a bit of a mystery.  The Register also noticed a rather poorly thought out feature, your controls recede into the background when you are working on your document which can make finding the right button on the ribbon a more difficult task than it should be.  On the plus side the controls are more spaced out making it easier to use with the touchscreen input capabilities of Windows 8 and who wouldn't want to build an Excel spreadsheet from scratch using a touch screen keyboard?  This release also marks a serious effort by Microsoft to make Office applications mobile, not only for Surface but iOS and Android as well, so there is that.

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"Fourteen revisions since the first Office that it may not be easy, because spell checking, grammar checking, wiggly underlines, paragraph styles and even Track Changes have been in Word since way back when.

With Office 2013 now officially available, is there anything in it actually worth upgrading for?"

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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 - 10:24 AM |
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.

Office-2013-Logo.jpg

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

Microsoft will chop bits off of Office on WinRT

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 10:53 AM |
Tagged: arm, office 2013, winRT, lies

Microsoft has done an about face which is going to disappoint office workers who were planning on switching to ARM based hardware running WinRT, which includes Microsoft's Surface tablet/laptop.  Though this was promised to us, The Register now has heard that macros, 3rd party add-ons, and support for VBA will not exist on Office 2013 for ARM.  Since that removes any possible automation from Office as well as damaging the productivity of those users who depend on 3rd party add-ons the Surface suddenly seems a lot less attractive.  For those who fervently believe that PowerPoint is the only Office application there will likely be no effect whatsoever.

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"If true, it would be something of an about-face for the software giant. At a press event announcing the Office 2013 Preview in July, Microsoft honcho Steve Ballmer said that Redmond was committed to providing the full Office experience on Surface and other devices running Windows RT.

"You'll see this as we and our partners ship PCs and Surface devices with ARM chips in them," Ballmer said. "Full Word. Full PowerPoint. Full Excel. You give up nothing of the rich capabilities of Microsoft Office when you embrace a Windows 8 ARM device."

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Source: The Register

No, Microsoft is not recording your Skype converstations with Mom

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2012 - 10:07 AM |
Tagged: fud, skype, microsoft, office 2013

It is highly unlikely that the reason many of Skype's Supernodes have been moved to the inside of Microsoft data centres is to allow them to record your Skype conversations.  Consider instead the numerous guides on the net to disable the ability of Skype to co-opt your PC into being a temporary supernode.  With many users opting out of that necessary piece of Skype's infrastructure it could possibly cause quality of service issues with Skype.  As Microsoft is planning on bundling Skype in with the new version of Office, it makes sense that they want at least some supernodes of which they can guarantee a certainly level of QoS to their paying customers.  As The Register points out, they need to find some way to recoup the expense of purchasing the company.

The patent that Microsoft holds to allow for the silent recording of transmissions between two computers, like VoIP, is of some concern but perhaps not as much as some other coverage would have you believe.  The patent application was filed almost 2 years before the purchase of Skype; while it could certainly be used on Skype connections it seems unlikely that it was designed specifically with Skype in mind.  Perhaps a more logical application of this patent would be to offer a way for business users to record conference calls natively and not need to rely on third party software to enable them to do so.  Skype has offered up unencrypted recordings to law enforcement agencies in the past but only did so in special circumstances.  It is likely to continue to do so for as long as the laws of the land consider that process to be legal but the likelihood of general recording of all Skype conversations is almost nil.

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"Skype has issued a formal denial to reports that it has been allowing law enforcement to listen in on users' calls following a change in its system architecture.

"Some media stories recently have suggested Skype may be acting improperly or based on ulterior motives against our users' interests. Nothing could be more contrary to the Skype philosophy," said Mark Gillett, Skype's chief development and operations officer in a blog post."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft Releases Office 2013 Customer Preview

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2012 - 03:56 AM |
Tagged: office, microsoft, windows, Metro, windows 8, software, outlook, office 2013, customer preview

Microsoft’s next generation Windows 8 operating system is due out later this year, which generally means a refreshed version of Microsoft Office – the company’s productivity software – is also on its way. To show off the new interface and updated features, Microsoft has decided to release what it is calling a Customer Preview of Office 2013 that will allow you to try out the new versions of Access, Excel, Word, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Word.

Office 2013 Title.jpg

The new Office programs feature a refreshed interface that does away with the aero glass windows in favor of the flat metro look, and integrates into Microsoft’s Skydrive cloud storage service. By default, you log into your Skydrive account during installation, and from then on it will store your documents and other files in your Skydrive folder. In addition, Office will allow you to log into the various social networks to retrieve contact data, which is a nice addition to the Outlook email client (in my opinion). You can also utilize the chat features to communicate with friends or coworkers from within the Office 2013 applications. Of course, being designed for Windows 8, Office 2013 has several new ways to interact with the applications using touch controls or a stylus.

The other major change with Office 2013 is the introduction of several new subscription service. While Microsoft has had the Office 365 subscription brand for awhile, they have not really advertised it. With Office 2013, you can choose from four tiers including Office 365 Home Premium, Small Business Premium, ProPlus, and Enterprise. The Home Premium tier is the one that will interest the majority of people as it provides an extra 20GB of Skydrive storage space, a synced Office experience on up to five computers, the ability to stream the Office 2013 applications to another Internet connected computer with Office on Demand, and sixty minutes (every month) of Skype calling minutes. From there, the Small Business Premium and above tiers add business-centric features like HD conferencing, encrypted email, archiving, and other goodies.

Outlook 2013_ Main UI.jpg

Outlook 2013. As you can see, Office 2013's interface has been heavily influenced by Windows 8's Metro UI.

We’ll be playing around with the Office 2013 Customer Preview this week and will report back, so stay tuned. If you want to try it out for yourself, you can grab the Customer Preview download from the Microsoft website (an Internet connection is required during installation). It can be installed on computers running either Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Also, according to Tom’s Hardware, a version of Office 2013 – specifically Office Home and Student 2013 RT – will come pre-installed on all Windows 8 RT (ARM-based) computers, so that is a nice touch (especially since it’s basically the only traditional desktop application that the ARM tablets will be able to run, at least at launch).

Source: Microsoft

Ribbons and Clippy and Clouds, oh my! Office 15 may be revealed today

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2012 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, office 15, office 2013, Metro

If you want to see professionals absolutely lose it, hang out in a office during the first time the encounter a new version of Microsoft Office.  Suddenly their barely tamed tool which delivers their emails and allows them to put together slide decks and documents has turned into a wild beast which stands between them and their deadlines.  Those that claim Microsoft has to change their Office Suite in order to stay relevant in the marketplace do not have much familiarity with the Sharepoint and Exchange driven companies which don't decide to stick with MS Office because the ribbons are pretty, they do so because their entire infrastructure is built around Microsoft products.

That hasn't stopped Redmond however and those of you in support positions at work or in your family are in for a nightmare as Office goes Metro.  That's right, if you thought explaining Ribbons to 'C' level executives was difficult just wait until you have to explain the new Windows GUI as the rumours and leaks we have seen all point to Office going Metro.  On the plus side, we should see some sort of Office Suite for ARM based WindowsRT systems, and it isn't Office 365.  The Register has some key dates and should post more info as it arrives.

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What Supersite for Windows saw

"Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is widely expected to announce details of the next version of the Microsoft Office productivity suite on Monday USA Today reports, giving the public its first glimpse of a product that has so far remained shrouded in secrecy.

Microsoft has been calling the new version "Office 15," but come Monday we'll probably know it as Office 2013, assuming Redmond sticks to convention. To date, only "a select group of customers" have had their mitts on the new suite, via a technical preview program that began in January, and then only under a strict nondisclosure agreement."

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Source: The Register