Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 3, 2014 - 07:23 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: fanless, htpc, windows, Android
Because fanless and cheap PCs are awesome, MINIX is launching the Neo Z64. Priced at $129 USD, it will contain an Intel Atom Z3635F SoC with 2GB of DDR3L and 32GB of eMMC internal storage. The device will ship loaded with Android 4.4.4 (KitKat) but is compatible with Windows 8.1, if you have a license for it.
Externally, the device features a microSD card slot (maximum size not specified), one 10/100Mbps Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, an IR receiver (with remote), and HDMI 1.4. Note that HDMI is the only audio outputs on this device, which could be tricky if you want to run it as something other than a home theater PC (if you do not have a USB sound card that is compatible with your chosen OS). Lastly, it also has 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless support.
This is still a significant price premium over some other devices, like a Roku, but could be useful for some. The lack of any SteamOS mention is a bit disconcerting, given that the free OS could be applied to turn the device into an In-Home Streaming target (or host of simple, Linux-compatible games, like Super Meat Boy). Hopefully, future products will consider Valve's home theater platform.
The MINIX Neo Z64 will be available in October for $129.
Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2014 - 02:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows, microsoft, threshold, win9
Something new will be announced by Microsoft in September but no one seems to know exactly what Threshold is. It could be a work in progress version of Windows 9: The Button's Return, but then again it could be something completely different. The rumours and speculation are rampant, as the current 982X build carries the name "Windows Technical Preview", similar to what Win8 was labelled before release but not specific enough to discourage enthusiasts from theorizing that it could be something else. Also adding to the fuel is a new feature in Windows Update which will allow in place upgrades of your build of Windows, perhaps similar to the Windows Vista to 7 upgrade which caused much confusion. You can follow the links from Slashdot to get your fill of the current guesses or wait until September 30th when Microsoft finally spills the beans.
"Nobody seems to know for sure whether 'Threshold' and 'Windows 9' will be one and the same or separate operating systems, reports Woody Leonhard in his roundup of insights on Microsoft's forthcoming OS plans, expected September 30. 'Many people think the terms are synonymous, but longtime Chinese leaker Faikee continues to maintain that they are two separate products, possibly headed in different directions.
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- LinuxCon and CloudOpen 2014 Keynote Videos Available @ Linux.com
- EMC to toss Avamar and other code into its VMware's EVO boxen @ The Register
- Apple will replace crapple iPhone 5 batteries @ The Inquirer
- Hardware Asylum Podcast - Wireless Headphones and High End Motorcycles
- The TR Podcast 160: Synchronicity
Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2014 - 12:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: galileo, Intel, windows, SoC
Intel's first generation low powered SoC which goes by the name of Galileo and is powered by a 400MHz Quark X1000 is now capable of running Windows with the help of the latest firmware update. Therefore if you are familiar enough with their tweaked Arduino IDE you should be able to build a testbed for low powered machines that will be running Windows. You will want to have some time on hand, loading Windows to the microSD card can take up to two hours and those used to SSDs will be less than impressed with the boot times. For developers this is not an issue and well worth the wait as it gives them a brand new tool to work with. Pop by The Register for the full details of the firmware upgrade and installation process.
"Windows fans can run their OS of choice on Intel’s counter to Raspberry Pi, courtesy of an Intel firmware update."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2014 - 12:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: internet explorer, windows, microsoft
We have another IE flaw, one which applies to IE6 though IE11 and officially all versions of Windows since Vista; unofficially it will also effect the non-supported legacy OS versions as well. This particular issue is not a memory overflow but instead is what is referred to as use-after-free which does make it somewhat harder to craft a webpage to take advantage of. Corporate users of the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit should make sure their users are up to date while the rest of us who are using IE should consider Protected Mode or upping your Security to high. Pop by The Register for a link to the full description of the vulnerability.
"The flaw means the browser “may corrupt memory in a way that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user within Internet Explorer"."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 01:11 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: BUILD 2014, microsoft, windows, winRT
A few days ago, I reported on the news from BUILD 2014 that Windows would see the return of the Start Menu and windowed apps. These features, which are not included with today's Windows 8.1 Update 1, will come in a later version. While I found these interface changes interesting, I reiterated that the user interface was not my concern: Windows Store certification was. I did leave room for a little hope, however, because Microsoft scheduled an announcement of changes. It was focused on enterprise customers, so I did not hold my breath.
And some things did change... but not enough for the non-enterprise user.
Microsoft is still hanging on to the curation of apps, except for "domain-joined" x86 Enterprise and x86 Pro PCs; RT devices and "not domain-joined" computers will only allow sideloaded apps with a key. This certificate (key) is not free for everyone. Of course, this does not have anything to do with native x86 applications. Thankfully, the prospect of WinRT APIs eventually replacing Win32, completely, seems less likely now. It could still be possible if Windows Store has a major surge in popularity but, as it stands right now, Microsoft seems to be spending less effort containing x86 for an eventual lobotomy.
If it does happen, it would be a concern for a variety of reasons:
Governments, foreign or domestic, who pressure Microsoft to ban encryption software.
Internet Explorer's Trident would have no competition to adopt new web standards.
Cannot create an app for just a friend or family member (unless it's a web app in IE).
When you build censorship, the crazies will come with demands to abuse it.
So I am still concerned about the future of Windows. I am still not willing to believe that Microsoft will support x86-exclusive applications until the end of time. If that happens, and sideloading is not publicly available, and web standards are forced into stagnation by a lack of alternative web browsers, then I can see bad times ahead. I will not really feel comfortable until a definitive pledge to allow users to control what can go on their device, even if Microsoft (or people with some form of authority over them) dislikes it, is made.
But I know that many disagree with me. What are your thoughts? Comment away!
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | April 2, 2014 - 09:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: BUILD 2014, microsoft, windows, start menu
Microsoft had numerous announcements during their Build 2014 opening keynote, which makes sense as they needed to fill the three hours that they assigned for it. In this post, I will focus on the upcoming changes to the Windows desktop experience. Two, albeit related, features were highlighted: the ability to run Modern Apps in a desktop window, and the corresponding return of the Start Menu.
I must say, the way that they grafted Start Screen tiles on the Start Menu is pretty slick. The Start Menu, since Windows Vista, has felt awkward with its split between recently used applications and common shortcuts in a breakout on the right with an expanded "All Programs" submenu handle on the bottom. It is functional, and it works perfectly fine, but something just felt weird about it. This looks a lot cleaner, in my opinion, especially since its width is variable according to how many applications are pinned.
Of course, my major complaint with Windows 8.x has nothing to do with the interface. There has not been any discussion around sideloading applications to get around Windows Store certification requirements. This is a major concern for browser vendors and should be one for many others, from hobbyists who might want to share their creations with one or two friends or family members, rather than everyone in an entire Windows Store region, or citizens of countries whose governments might pressure Microsoft to ban encryption or security applications.
That said, there is a session tomorrow called "Deploying and Managing Enterprise Apps", discussing changes app sideloading in Windows 8.1. Enterprise users are already allowed sideloading certificates from Microsoft. Maybe it will be expanded? I am not holding my breath.
Keep an eye out, because there should be a lot of news over the next couple of days.
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 | 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 | December 10, 2013 - 12:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows, microsoft, threshold, win 8.2
Two rumours about Microsoft are making the rounds right now, the first about the impending death of one their OSes is pretty easy to understand; there is no polite way to describe WinRT. The second is both more interesting and also harder to believe, Project Threshold could possibly see the return of a fully functional Start button to a newly updated desktop version called Windows 8.2 as apparently Service Packs are no longer cool. Project Threshold is bigger than just a button as the rumours have this updating Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox One with the possibility that WinRT gets rolled into the Windows Phone OS. While there are ways to modify Win 8.1 to allow a more classical interface it will be a big step forward in usability if it becomes native. You can follow the links at The Register to the source of these rumours.
"According to Winsupersite, Microsoft is planning the return of the Windows Start button under the codename "Threshold", and this will be the first time we'll see it in its original form since Windows 7."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 06:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows, microsoft
Peter Bright at Ars Technica is wondering how many operating systems (OSes) Microsoft actually needs and, for that matter, how many they already have. Three consumer versions of Windows exists (or brands of it does): Windows RT, "full" Windows, and Windows Phone. Then again, it is really difficult to divide up what a unique operating system even is. All of the aforementioned "OSes" run on the same base kernel and even app compatibility does not align to that Venn diagram.
In my personal opinion, it really does not matter how many (or what) operating systems Microsoft has. That innate desire to categorize things into boxes really does nothing useful. At best, it helps you create relationships between it and other platforms; these comparisons may not even be valid. Sure, from the perspective of Microsoft's marketing team, these categories help convey information about their products to consumers.
... And if recent trends mean anything: very incorrect and confusing information.
So really, and I believe this is what Peter Bright was getting at, who cares how many OSes Microsoft has? The concern should really be what these products mean for consumers. In that sense, I really hope we trend towards the openness of the last couple Internet Explorer versions (and of course Windows 7) and further from the censored nature of Windows RT.
You can have 800 channels or just a single one but that doesn't mean something good is on.