Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2012 - 02:37 PM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2012 - 12:33 PM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
The Dell All-in-One
Reviewers, at times, can be somewhat myopic. I speak for myself in this particular instance. My job as a writer is to test hardware on a daily basis, and as such I have a very keen understanding (or so I hope) of the intricacies of computer design. If I need to build a machine, whether for test purposes or something that my wife can play Song Pop on, I have a near infinite variety of components that I can choose from to fit the needs of the project. As such, we often forget that not everyone has that level of expertise. Most people, in fact, just want to be able to buy something that not only fits their needs, but also simply just has to work.
Dog is unimpressed with packaging. UPS complained profusely though.
This is the reason why we have the Dells, HPs, and Lenovos of the world. The vast majority of people out there are unwilling to build their own machine and support it themselves. They neither have the time nor patience to dive in and learn the ins and outs of a modern PC and the software that runs them. This is not a bad thing. Just as I do not have the patience to learn how to sew, I still like wearing clothes. At least during our podcasts. For the most part.
We must also admit that we are moving well away from the typical beige box that dominated the 90s and early 2000s. Manufacturers have a much better eye for not only functionality, but also aesthetics. No longer do we have the hulking CRTs of yesteryear, and neither do we have the large boxes that are nearly indistinguishable from one or another. Multiple form factors abound and these large manufacturers have design teams that pay very close attention to things like compatibility, power consumption, and thermal dissipation. With these things in mind, they are able to create unique devices that not just serve the needs of consumers, but also just simply work.
Apple has been at the forefront of this type of design for quite some time. This is a company that has prized fit, finish, and functionality far more than they have pursued cost cutting and homogenization. This has lead to much higher margins for the company, and a nearly rabid following by the people buying their platforms. We certainly can argue that they probably perfected the “all-in-one” machine back in the Macintosh days, and since that time they have not stood still. The iMac was a further advancement in that field, but the introduction of relatively inexpensive and large LCD panels allowed them to further shrink the all-in-one. It also allowed them to further sculpt the design into what we see today.
Everything is nicely supported in the box.
Obviously people around the industry have noticed this trend, and noticed the devoted following of the Apple consumers. It is hard to miss. The world is a big place though, and surely there are people who crave the type of design that Apple pushes, but do not necessarily want to jump on that particular bandwagon. Dell has recognized this and created their XPS One lineup of products. Not everyone wants to run OSX and pay the Apple tax. If this is the case for a reader, then this might be the product that catches their attention.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 12, 2012 - 10:02 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2012 - 04:55 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 28, 2012 - 03:18 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zenbook, windows 8, ultrabook, nvidia, laptop, Ivy Bridge, GT650M, GT620M, asus
Asus has announced a refresh of its Zenbook lineup of Intel-powered ultrabooks to accompany its new VivoBooks and VivoTabs running Windows 8. Available next month, the PC OEM is introducing six new laptop SKUs with Ivy Bridge processors and dedicated graphics cards from NVIDIA. Specifically, the Asus Zenbook UX21A, UX31A, UX32VD, UX42VS, US52VS, and U500VZ ultrabooks are coming soon with the refresh.
The UX31A Ultrabook with touch display
The new Zenbooks will have Ivy Bridge processors, up to 10GB of memory, and up to NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics. They maintain the aluminum chassis of Asus’ previous generation ultrabooks but up the hardware ante. The company has expanded the lineup to include models with 11.6,” 13.3,” 14,” and 15.6” IPS displays, backlit keyboards, and multitouch trackpads. The U500VZ and UX31A can even be outfitted with capacitive touchscreen displays.
The ASUS UX42VS Zenbook
The VX42VS further includes an optical drive, but otherwise the Zenbooks source of storage lies in solid state or hybrid hard drives. Interestingly, the UX32VD and U500VZ can even be configured with two 256GB solid state drives in RAID 0 (Ryan’s favorite kind of RAID).
The ASUS UX52VS Zenbook
The following chart outlines all the known specifications. Note that several of the ultrabooks are not listed on Asus’ website yet so exact dimensions are unknown for the UX52VS and U500VZ in particular.
|Dimensions||299 x 196.8 x 3 ~ 17 mm||325 x 223 x 3 ~18 mm||325 x 223 x 5.5 ~18 mm||14" tapers to 6mm||~15" tapers to 6mm||~15"|
|Weight||1.1 kg||1.3 kg||1.45 kg||1.5kg||2.2kg||2 kg|
|Processor||i5 3317U or i7 3517U||i5 3317U or i7 3517U||i5 3317U or i7 3517U||i3, i5, or i7 IVB||i5 or i7 ULV IVB||i7 std voltage|
|Storage||256GB SSD||256GB SSD||2 x 256GB SSD (RAID 0)||1TB Hybrid Hard Drive||1TB Hybrid Hard Drive||2 x 256GB SSD (RAID 0)|
*onboard + 1 x SODIMM
All of the new Zenbook laptops will be available in November and will come with Windows 8. Pricing will range from $699 to $1999 for the premium model (The U500VZ). Specific pricing details should become available closer to launch.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | October 26, 2012 - 02:46 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: windows 8, video, system build, live
Today at 3pm EDT we are going to be doing a live stream of a system build and Windows 8 installation on our PC Perspective Live! page. Won't you come and join us?
UPDATE: Did you miss the event? Well then, we have you covered with the replay of the two and a half hour stream right here!
Sorry, no, I won't be doing it blindfolded this time...
If you are looking to learn how to build a PC, how the Windows 8 setup goes along with initial Windows 8 experiences, or just want to hang out during a lazy Friday, click on the link above or on the flashing radio tower to the left and join us!!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 26, 2012 - 01:05 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, vivobook, laptop, asus
Asus has launched a line of VivoBook laptops to accompany its series of convertible Vivo Tab Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets. Initially, there will be two VivoBooks available around Windows 8’s October 26, 2012 launch date that will come in 11.6” and 14” screen sizes with the VivoBook X202 and S400 respectively.
The VivoBook series will focus on multitouch input available on a lightweight laptop chassis. They will have a similar tapered design as the company’s Zenbook laptops, and will use metal for the chassis and a glass screen rather than plastics. SonicMaster audio, and 32GB of Asus WebStorage space (for three years) also come standard with all VivoBooks models.
The X202 VivoBook
Interestingly, the specifications put the laptops just out of ultrabook territory, which should mean cheaper starting prices. Both the X202 and S400 will have processor options spanning Intel's lineup from lowly Celeron 847s to its Core (Ivy Bridge) series. However, the X202 will be limited to a top end of Core i3 while the S400 will be able to utilize up to a Core i7 processor. Both further feature 5400 RPM hard drives, though the S400 will have a 24GB caching SSD option to speed up general performance. Also, the X202 and S400 will come with multitouch displays and large trackpads. While Asus made no claims on the S400, they have stated that the X202 will have a trackpad normally used on a 14” laptop despite the X202 being a smaller 12” model. The larger trackpad will allow for easier gesture control of Windows 8, according to the company.
The specifications for the X202 and S400 VivoBook touch-enabled laptops are as follows:
|VivoBook Model||VivoBook X202||VivoBook S400|
Intel Core i3
Intel ULV Pentium 987
Intel ULV Celeron 847
Intel Core i3, i5, or i7
Intel ULV Pentium 987
Intel ULV Celeron 847
|Display||11.6" @ 1366 x 768||14" @ 1366 x 768|
|Graphics||Integrated (Intel)||Integrated (Intel)|
|Memory||1333MHz DDR3 up to 4GB||1600MHz up to 8GB|
|Hard Drive||320GB/500GB 5400RPM HDD||
320GB/500GB 5400 RPM
+ 24GB SSD (cache drive)
|Ports||1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, 1 x SD Card Reader||1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, 1 x SD Card Reader|
|Wireless||802.11n Wi-Fi||802.11n Wi-Fi|
|Dimensions||30.3cm x 20.0cm x 2.17cm||33.9cm x 23.9cm x 2.1cm|
|Weight||1.4Kg (with 38W/h Li-Po battery)||1.8Kg (with 44W/h Li-Po battery)|
|Operating System||Windows 8||Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro|
|Starting Price||$599 (for Core i3-3217U)||$699.99 (for Core i5-3317U)|
Of course, the laptops will come pre-loaded with either Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro. The X202 measures a bit over 0.85-inches and the S400 is slightly thinner at approximately 0.82-inches. On the other hand, while the S400 is thinner, it weighs more at approximately 3.96 pounds versus the X202's 3.08 pounds.
The X202 is in stock at Amazon now, and should be availabe at other retailers soon. The Core i3-3217U (1.8GHz) version has a listed price of $599. On the other hand, the S400 with an Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz) has a list price of $699.99. Unfortunately, pricing on the other models is still unknown, though you can expect the Pentium and Celeron powered X202 and S400 VivoBooks to be cheaper – it is jsut how much cheaper they will be that is still up in the air.
These do appear to be interesting machines if you are considering a new Windows 8 computer and want more of a traditional laptop form factor than the dockable tablet announcements that have dominated the news.
What do you think, would you use a touch panel on a laptop?
Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2012 - 02:26 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, vivotab rt, vishera, tegra, podcast, nvidia, n668, linus, fx 8350, fx 6300, asus, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #224 - 10/25/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the ASUS N66U Router, AMD FX 8350 and 6300 CPU, our Windows RT hands on, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Linus Sebastian
Program length: 1:30:18
Podcast topics of discussion:
- 0:00:50 Welcome our Guest: Linus Sebastian of Linus Tech Tips!
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:36:20 This podcast is brought to you by MSI
- News items of interest:
- 1:06:15 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Windows RT: Runtime? Or Get Up and Run Time?
Update #1, 10/26/2012: Apparently it does not take long to see the first tremors of certification woes. A Windows developer by the name of Jeffrey Harmon allegedly wrestled with Microsoft certification support 6 times over 2 months because his app did not meet minimum standards. He was not given clear and specific reasons why -- apparently little more than copy/paste of the regulations he failed to achieve. Kind-of what to expect from a closed platform... right? Imagine if some nonsensical terms become mandated or other problems crop up?
Also, Microsoft has just said they will allow PEGI 18 games which would have received an ESRB M rating. Of course their regulations can and will change further over time... the point is the difference between a store refusing to carry versus banishing from the whole platform even for limited sharing. The necessity of uproars, especially so early on and so frequently, should be red flags for censorship to come. Could be for artistically-intentioned nudity or sexual themes. Could even be not about sex, language, and violence at all.
Last month, I suggested that the transition to Windows RT bares the same hurdles as transitioning to Linux. Many obstacles blocking our path, like Adobe and PC gaming, are considering Linux; the rest have good reason to follow.
This month we receive Windows RT and Microsoft’s attempt to shackle us to it: Windows 8.
To be clear: Microsoft has large incentives to banish the legacy of Windows. The way Windows 8 is structured reduces it to a benign tumorous growth atop Windows RT. The applications we love and the openness we adore are contained to an app.
I will explain how you should hate this -- after I explain why and support it with evidence.
Microsoft is currently in the rare state of sharp and aggressive focus to a vision. Do not misrepresent this as greed: it is not. Microsoft must face countless jokes about security and stability. Microsoft designed Windows with strong slants towards convenience over security.
That ideology faded early into the life of Windows XP. How Windows operates is fundamentally different. Windows machines are quite secure, architecturally. Con-artists are getting desperate. Recent attacks are almost exclusively based on fear and deception of the user. Common examples are fake anti-virus software or fraudulent call center phone calls. We all win when attackers get innovative: survival of the fittest implies death of the weakest.
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