Ceton's My Media Center goes Metro

Subject: Systems | January 23, 2013 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: htpc, ceton, my media center, win8, Metro

Ceton's My Media Center is a replacement interface for Windows Media Center's UI, allowing you to control functions on a device separate from the display which is connected to your WMC.  That means that any device running the Metro interface of Win8, which is any flavour of Win8, can be set up to connect to your HTPC and allow you to control WMC even if you are out of the house and it won't interfere with anyone who happens to be using it at the time.  The Companion software is loaded onto both the HTPC and the secondary device and with a little configuration, which Missing Remote details here, you will be in full control of WMC from anywhere.

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"Earlier today a new Windows 8 "Metro" version of Ceton's suite of applications for managing Windows Media Center joined the existing lineup of Andriod, Windows Phone and iOS companion apps priced at $4.99. As part of this effort they were rebranded from "Ceton Companion Apps" to "My Media Center". All the great functionality for browsing recordings, managing series and scheduling, and browsing the guide is still there, but this time Windows 8 tablet and desktop "Metro" users can also join the party. We had a chance to take an early spin through the updated UI, let's dig in."

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And the mobile IE10 makes three versions

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 9, 2012 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: win8 mobile, win8, IE10

We already know that Windows 8 essentially has two versions of IE10, the one you launch from Metro and the one you launch from the desktop with the desktop launched version possessing more features.  Today Microsoft detailed (to some extent) what IE10 will be like on Win8 powered phones.  They told The Register that the mobile version will not support inline video, multi-track HTML5 audio, drag-and-drop APIs, pinned websites and other features available on the full version.  However thanks to the presence of hardware acceleration for graphics the majority of the graphical features you want will be supported by the phone OS.  Check out more here.

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"SOFTWARE HOUSE Microsoft has detailed the differences between its Internet Explorer 10 (IE 10) web browser for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 ahead of the release of the mobile operating system (OS) in the US today."

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Source: The Inquirer

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

Hondo powered Win8 tablets; sweet spot or not?

Subject: Processors | October 18, 2012 - 05:58 PM |
Tagged: homdo, AMD z-series, z-60 apu, tablet, win8

Could AMD powered tablets firt in a sweet spot for those looking to pick up one of these new Win8 powered devices?  They will certainly be more powerful than an ARM powered WinRT tablet and the graphics will be superior to Intel powered tablets.  The Z-60 will have two 1GHz Bobcat cores each with 512KB of L2 cache and the HD 6250 GPU with 80 DirectX 11-class shader ALUs which should give snappy performance up to a 1920x1200 resolution.  The Tech Report talks about the various benefits and penalties to choosing a Hondo based device over an Ivy Bridge powered on in their article here.

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"AMD is readying a new APU aimed at Window 8 tablets and hybrids. Otherwise known as Hondo, this Z-60 processor offers lower power consumption than AMD's existing APUs, and it comes with a side order of USB 3.0."

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Worried your GTX690 won't work on Win8? Don't be!

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 10, 2012 - 09:33 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, driver, win8

It is not just that the latest GeForce drivers will work on Windows 8, these are the third WHQL certified drivers so you can be pretty much guaranteed to have the same compatibility and control over your GPU after making the switch as you do with Win7 and previous versions.  The GeForce 306.97 drivers are good for Win7 and Win8 and offers the list of fixes and improvements which you can see below.  Owners of Doom 3: BFG Edition who want to play in NVIDIA 3D should definitely upgrade as NVIDIA specifically mentions the quality improvements you will enjoy upon upgrading.

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Adds support for the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti GPU.
Updates SLI profile for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier.
Updates 3D Vision profiles for the following PC games:

  • Check vs. Mate - Rated Excellent
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - Rated Good
  • Doom 3: BFG Edition - Rated Excellent
  • English Country Tune - Rated Good
  • F1 2012 - Rated Good
  • Iron Brigade - Rated Fair
  • Jagged Alliance: Crossfire - Rated Good
  • Orcs Must Die 2! - Rated Good
  • Planetside 2 - Rated Not Recommended
  • Prototype 2 - Rated Poor
  • Sleeping Dogs - Rated Good
  • Spec Ops: The Line - Rated Good
  • Tiny Troopers - Rated Fair
  • Torchlight 2 - Rated Good
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron - Rated Fair
Source: NVIDIA

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

Do these pixels look funny to you?

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2012 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: win8, resolution, asus, Zenbook Prime, win7, disappoint

The Tech Report were excited by the arrival of the new ASUS Zenbook Prime with its 1920x1080 13.3" IPS display but when they they used it under Win7 they ran into some problems.  As the text at this resolution is absolutely tiny on a 13.3" screen it is zoomed to 125% which is about right for text on the desktop, the third party applications however did not necessarily look right and when they fired up IE9 it got much worse, as you can see below.  As there is a new almost finished version of Windows 8 available, which touts its ability to handle high pixel per inch screens, they loaded that OS onto the Zenbook in the hopes of improving the look of the web.  Read their disappointing results from using Win8 and IE10 on small screen with a big resolution.

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"We've taken Windows 8 for a spin on Asus' new Zenbook Prime in order to get a feel for the new OS's PPI scaling capabilities. As we found, Windows 8's suitability for systems with high-PPI screens may have been exaggerated."

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Windows 8 can go diskless

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2012 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: win8, cloud, microsoft, Windows to Go, kingston, super talent

Installing Windows from a USB drive is old hat to many, both consumers and professionals, but booting to Windows from an external drive would be a new trick.  Windows 8 has been designed with this type of usage in mind, which is unsurprising considering how much talk there is about the cloud.  A proper implementation of this would mean that low cost computers, shipped without a hard drive, could be readily sold.  Both Kingston and Super Talent have designed USB 3.0 devices which will have "Windows to Go" on them; fully able to boot to a full installation of Win8 on Intel powered machines.  Unfortunately there is a problem with WinPE installations on ARM based devices, as that method requires a wired network connection which may mean ARM devices would have to be sold with a USB to ethernet dongle in order to allow for booting.  Once the machine is booted and the wireless drivers load then the ARM devices could be unplugged.  Check out the hurdles Microsoft had to pass in order to make this work at The Register.

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"Such devices, Niehaus said, will have to be certified to run Windows to Go for two reasons, one of which is that in Microsoft's tests external storage ran dangerously hot.

The second reason is that external drives can't be partitioned in the ways Windows 8 requires, thanks to its use of BIOS-replacement Unified Extensible Firmware Interface(UEFI) that is an important contributor to the new OS' faster boot times. Niehaus explained that UEFI means Windows 8 needs four partitions in a disk. One is for recovery purposes, a second for the system, while UEFI uses a third invisible partition of 128MB to help it go about its work. The fourth partition holds the OS and user data."

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Source: The Register

You won't be able to blame TSMC or GF for any shortage of Win8 devices

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2012 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: surface, win8, winRT, touch screen

DigiTimes foresees supply problems with Windows 8 mobile devices but for once it is not the fault of the CPU/GPU manufacturers.  Instead it is the feature which makes Win8 on mobile devices so much more attractive that previous versions of Microsoft's mobile OS, the Achilles heel could be the touchscreen manufacturers.  Shipping millions of new touchscreen laptops and tablets could lead to availability problems with the industry already spread among so many current touchscreen products.  Even if the supply holds up there are also concerns about demand as a touchscreen device will cost more than an equivalent laptop without a touchscreen, something that DigiTimes' sources are concerned about.

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"Windows 8-based notebook shipments are expected to start increasing in September as the launch date of the operating system approaches, but because most orders are scheduled for shipping in September and October, sources from the upstream supply chain are concerned that related supply chain players will face great challenges in terms of capacity management and production smoothness."

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Source: DigiTimes

GeForce 302.82 Driver for Win8

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 27, 2012 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: win8, whql, nvidia, geforce, driver

If you are running Windows 8 and an NVIDIA graphics card on a desktop machine then you should head on over to NVIDIA to grab the WHQL certified GeForce 302.82 for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the pre-release OS.  If you are on a laptop then NVIDIA suggests you should continue to use the 302.80 drivers for the moment. 

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You will see a new NVIDIA Control Panel page that allows you to set up stereoscopic 3D for 3D Vision.  The drawbacks are few, the driver will request a reboot in order to finish the installation, which you should do whether you are asked or not, and there is an issue for users of the GT520 who enable FXAA via the NVIDIA control panel but other than those two addendum, NVIDIA posted no other known issues.  As it is a WHQL version, you can expect it to be stable and to be around for a bit as the release date of Win8 slowly approaches. 

Source: NVIDIA