Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2016 - 08:09 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Windows 7, windows 10, microsoft
For the second month in a row, NetMarketShare are reporting that Windows 7 is gaining market-share faster than Windows 10. It's difficult to know exactly what this means, and for who, but one possible explanation is that users upgraded to Windows 10 and rolled back to 7 in significant amounts. It will be interesting to monitor the next couple of months, now that Windows 7 is no longer available at retail, to see how its market-share shifts. Then, a few months after that, we'll need to see how Zen and Kaby Lake, which are not supported by Windows 7 and Windows 8.x, changes that further.
I'll now spend the rest of the post discussing statistics... because I can visualize the comments.
NetMarketShare records browser identification strings from partnered websites. As you would expect, there's a bit of controversy regarding how accurate their numbers are. Some of this criticism is simply wrong, usually misunderstanding how small a truly random sample needs to be to converge to the same ratios you will see in a large sample. Just a thousand truly random samples can get you within a few percent of hundreds of millions of people. Studies like this, if they are truly random, have plenty enough data to get a very precise ratio.
A valid concern, however, is whether their pool of websites under- or over-represent certain groups, especially when you attempt to make comparisons on the order of a hundredth of a percent. NetMarketShare claims that they try to get a global representation, including government websites, and they correct their traffic based on the CIA's per-country statistics. Still, it's good to question whether the group of people you are trying to investigate are represented by NetMarketShare's traffic, and how their limitations lower your effective precision.
Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 11:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows update, windows 10, microsoft
In a blog post, yesterday, Microsoft outlined their Unified Update Platform (UUP) initiative. The short version of this story is that UUP, which is expected to affect consumers with the major update after the Windows 10 Creators Update, will shrink download sizes of updates by omitting portions that are already on your device. They claim that it is expected to result in about 35% less bandwidth used by a major update.
Beyond bandwidth, Microsoft also claims that this will help battery life and time spent searching for updates, because the difference is calculated in the cloud. (I guess you can call that reAzurement. I'll see myself out.) At least for mobile, I can see how this might be cheaper than the new system completely client-side. I wouldn't say the current method is too slow, though. I mean, it takes a while, especially a Windows 8.1 laptop I have at times, but I don't really see how it would help a gaming PC that likely has a faster processor than their servers.
Also, if you're the type of person who likes to scorch earth on a regular basis, I'm guessing Microsoft will still be providing ISOs that can either clean install or perform the typical update method. Also, this new feature will reduce the download size of cumulative updates, which are inherently very redundant, so that should be good.
I can't think of a real negative to this, especially not with the ISO workaround for the more picky power users. Maybe I'm not thinking of something, though, but it sounds like a net win (unless it turns out to be an unstable mess).
Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 07:07 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, VR, snapdragon 820, qualcomm, microsoft, idol 4s, alcatel
While it does make a little sense if you pay attention, I guess, Microsoft's business in the mobile space has been... sporadic. Initiatives seem to come and go with little notice, and they may or may not oppose one another. To me, they do seem to point to Microsoft wanting to keep Windows Mobile relevant as a third-place contender, but they realize that, outside of leaning it against the development of Windows 10 for PCs, it's a money pit. Its problems cannot be solved by simply throwing money at it, so don't throw any more than is necessary.
Through this lens, the recent announcement of the Alcatel IDOL 4S makes a bit of sense. Google has not secured their place in mobile VR, and Apple isn't even trying to enter this segment (as best as we can tell). Microsoft is also into VR and AR on the PC and console side of things, so I'm guessing that even that cost can be dulled slightly. As such, why not release a phone that has roughly the same specs as a ZTE Axon 7, which is itself positioned as a first wave of mobile Google Daydream VR devices, and hopefully plant your foot somewhere in this space? They even have an OEM partner covering the hardware side of things.
So, basically, it seems like last year, when we heard that Windows 10 Mobile would be quiet, it wasn't so much an admission of defeat. They really seem to be moving forward, slow and steady.
Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2016 - 04:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, OEM, windows, EoL
We've known for quite some time that Microsoft planned to stop providing OEMs with keys for Windows 7 or 8.1 this Halloween and they have made good on that promise. If you already have a valid license you will contine to be able to use it on your machine and even reinstall from scratch but you won't be able to buy a machine without Windows 10 anymore. On the corporate side this is being ignored, the new machine may ship with Win10 installed but that will not last long. This is your last chance to grab one of the few remaining unused Windows 7 or 8.1 keys, The Register managed to spot at least one company still offering a Win7 downgrade so get moving if that is your plan.
"If you can get Dell, HP Inc, Lenovo or any other PC-maker to sell you a PC running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1, please let us know how you did it because Microsoft no longer sells the operating system to OEMs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- LastPass Makes Password Management Free Across All Of Your PCs, Tablets and Smartphones @ Slashdot
- 5 systemd Tools You Should Start Using Now @ Linux.com
- The Sharp Z2 & Sharp M1 Smartphones Revealed @ TechARP
- BlackBerry DTEK60 vs DTEK50 specs comparison @ The Inquirer
- Sound-mufflers chuck acoustic sleep blanket at the noise-plagued @ The Register
- Broadcom buys Brocade for £4.8bn in bid to bolster storage biz @ The Inquirer
- Fancy Bear: Russia-linked hackers blamed for exploiting Windows zero-day flaw @ The Inquirer
- VMware stubs its toe again: NSX has another VM-flattening bug @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2016 - 04:19 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: z850, x50, video, tegra, switch, surface studio, Samsung, qualcomm, podcast, Optane, nvidia, Nintendo, microsoft, Intel, gtx 1050, Fanatec, evga, acer, 960 PRO, 5G
PC Perspective Podcast #422 - 10/27/16
Join us this week as we discuss the Samsung 960 Pro, Fanatec racing gear, an Acer UltraWide projector, Optane leaks, MS Surface Studio and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom
Program length: 1:47:11
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- Fragging Frogs VLAN 14
- Week in Review:
- Today’s episode is brought to you by Harry’s! Use code PCPER at checkout!
- News items of interest:
- 1:00:50 GTX 1050 and 1050Ti
- 1:05:30 Intel Optane (XPoint) First Gen Product Specifications Leaked
- 1:11:20 Microsoft Introduces Surface Studio AiO Desktop PC
- 1:21:45 Microsoft Windows 10 Creators Update Formally Announced
- 1:25:25 Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon X50 5G Modem
- 1:31:55 NVIDIA Tegra SoC powers new Nintendo Switch gaming system
- Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
- Ryan: Chewbacca Hoodie
- Jeremy: The Aimpad R5 is actually much cooler than I thought
- Josh: Solid for the price. Get on special!
- Allyn: Factorio
Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2016 - 09:19 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, paint 3d, Minecraft
At a press event today, Microsoft was promoting their platform with a focus on creativity. The show opened with a video that highlighted upcoming changes in accessibility. For instance, they are adding a preview mode to Microsoft Edge developer tools that help developers make their application accessible to people with impaired vision, who are reliant upon screen-readers. Immediately following that few-minute video, Terry Myerson gave a speech and announced that the next feature release of Windows 10, which was codenamed Redstone 2, will be officially called the Windows 10 Creators Update.
Naturally, Microsoft wanted to associate the creative potential of PCs with... MS Paint. This application is used by over 100 million poor, unfortunate souls per month, because it is simple... and, of course, pre-installed on basically every Windows machine ever. This transitioned to an announcement of Paint 3D, which is actually quite interesting. 3D applications tend to be a daunting mountain of tools for countless use cases, which helps professionals but somewhat hinders the hobbyist.
Paint 3D tries to strip it down to the use cases of home users, especially children, who want to goof around with creating stuff. Take a photo, remove the background, and place it in a sand castle that you scanned with your Windows Phone (just kidding, we all know you'll be using it on Android or iOS) into a 3D model. Position the 3D camera just right, and you have a summer holiday postcard. They also have a service, Remix 3D, that allows sharing of 3D content, even from Minecraft. You can then order 3D prints of these objects, seemingly from the service although I haven't been able to see an explicit announcement of that.
Moving on, Microsoft has also released a few videos of this event. In a couple of them, they included a short clip of another, otherwise unannounced application, Groove Music Maker. It appears to be a competitor to Apple's GarageBand, mixing recorded and generated tracks to create music. On the PC side, there really isn't much apart from Fruity Loops and a handful of open source applications to solve this need, and music is definitely a creative avenue. I assume that we'll see something announced about this in the near future.
The Windows 10 Creators Update will be available in “early 2017”. Rumors point to March, based mostly on its expected 1703 version number; still, the early August release of Windows 10 Anniversary Update was listed 1607, so it could vary a bit.
I mean, I hope they will release it when it's stable enough this time.
Subject: Systems | October 26, 2016 - 08:31 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: workstation, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, GTX 980M, GTX 965M, desktop, DCI-P3, core i7, core i5, all-in-one, AIO, 4000x3500
Microsoft has announced their first all-in-one PC with the Surface Studio, and it looks like Apple has some serious competition on their hands in the high-end AIO workstation space. Outfitted with the highest resolution display this side of Cupertino, 6th-generation Intel Skylake processors, and discrete NVIDIA graphics, there is plenty of power for most users (though gamers will clearly be looking elsewhere). Make no mistake, this new AIO from Microsoft is not going to replace a standard desktop for most people due to the $2999+ price tag, but for creative professionals and other workstation users it is a compelling option.
"Expanding the Surface family, Surface Studio is a new class of device that transforms from a workstation into a powerful digital canvas, unlocking a more natural and immersive way to create on the thinnest LCD monitor ever built.1 With a stunning ultra-HD 4.5K screen, Surface Studio delivers 63 percent more pixels than a state-of-the-art 4K TV. Surface Studio works beautifully with pen, touch and Surface Dial — a new input device designed for the creative process that lets you use two hands on the screen to compose and create in all new ways."
The star of the show is the 28-inch PixelSense display, which boasts a massive 4500x3000 resolution for a pixel density of 192 ppi, and the taller 3:2 aspect ratio will be welcomed by some users as well. Microsoft is using 10-bit panels for this premium AIO offering, and color reproduction should be outstanding with the Surface Studio thanks to "individually color calibrated" displays. Another advantage for creative customers is the display's multi-touch capability and 1024 pressure-level Surface Pen, which makes this a very nice option for digital artists - especially at 28 inches/192 ppi.
Touchscreen desktops need display placement flexibility to be useful, and here Microsoft has a "zero gravity" hinge to allow for easy movement. The design looks stable thanks to a pair of arms connecting the display to the base, and this lower half is what actually houses the PC components. What's inside? Here's a look at the official specs:
- Screen: 28” PixelSense™ Display
- Resolution: 4500 x 3000 (192 PPI)
- Color settings: Adobe sRGB and DCI-P3, individually color calibrated
- Touch: 10 point multi-touch
- Aspect Ratio: 3:2
- Supports Pen enabled and Zero Gravity Hinge
- Processor: 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 or i7
- Memory: 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB RAM
- i5 Intel 8GB: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 965M 2GB GDDR5 memory
- i7 Intel 16GB: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 965M 2GB GDDR5 memory
- i7 Intel 32GB: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 980M 4GB GDDR5 memory
- Rapid Hybrid Drive options: 1TB or 2TB
- Connections & expansions:
- 4 x USB 3.0 (one high power port)
- Full-size SD ™ card reader (SDXC) compatible
- Mini DisplayPort
- Headset jack
- Compatible with Surface Dial on-screen interaction*
- 1 Gigabit Ethernet port
- Cameras, video and audio:
- Windows Hello1 face sign-in camera
- 5.0 MP camera with 1080p HD video (front)
- Autofocus camera with 1080p HD video (rear)
- Dual microphones
- Stereo 2.1 speakers with Dolby® Audio™ Premium
- 3.5 mm headphone jack
- Wi-Fi: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n compatible
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
- Xbox Wireless built-in
- TPM chip for enterprise security
- Enterprise-grade protection with Windows Hello2 face sign-in
- Warranty: 1-year limited hardware warranty
- Display: 637.35 mm x 438.90 mm x 12.5 mm (25.1” x 17.3” x 0.5”)
- Base: 250.00 mm x 220.00 mm x 32.2 mm (9.8” x 8.7” x 1.3”)
- Product weight: 9.56 kg max (21 lbs max)
The Surface Studio is currently available for pre-order at Microsoft.com with prices ranging from $2999 to $4199, depending on configuration.
Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2016 - 04:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, hololens, nokia, windows 10 mobile, satya nadella
Windows Mobile 10 powers 1% of the mobile devices on the market, so when Satya Nadella states that Microsoft missed the mobile phone he is not exaggerating. The $7.6 billion write off of Nokia earlier this year signals a change in focus for Microsoft and Nokia phones will run Android instead of waiting for a proper release of the new Windows Mobile or a reincarnated version of an older mobile OS. From what The Inquirer gathered from Satya's recent speech the new focus will be on something vague called the Ultimate Computer as well as their much more concrete HoloLens and the new VR market. Surface Phone and Surface Mini are likely to fall by the wayside as HoloLens becomes the focus, hopefully we will see some models for testing in the near future as Microsoft has hinted at something happening tomorrow.
"Speaking at the opening dinner of Wall Street Journal Live, Mr Nadella said, "We clearly missed the mobile phone, there's no question," adding. "Our goal now is to make sure we grow new categories."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD reports 3Q16 results @ DigiTimes
- BlackBerry DTEK60 arrives with 5.5in QHD screen, Snapdragon 820 and USB-C @ The Inquirer
- Silicon colour centre could be used for information processing @ Nanotechweb
- Intel throws the ball long with sports, VR and IoT cash injections @ The Register
- It's nearly 2017 and JPEGs, PDFs, font files can hijack your Apple Mac, iPhone, iPad @ The Register
- Death To The 3.5mm Audio Jack, Long Live Wireless @ Hack a Day
- 5 More Reasons to Love Kubernetes @ Linux.com
- Engage Tinfoil Hat: Samsung Note 7 Battery Theory @ Hack a Day
- Wi-Fi Alliance Begins Certification Process For Short-Range Wireless Standard WiGig (802.11ad) @ Slashdot
Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2016 - 03:37 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: supercomputer, microsoft, deep neural network, azure, artificial intelligence, ai
Microsoft recently announced it would be restructuring 5,000 employees as it focuses its efforts on artificial intelligence with a new AI and Research Group. The Redmond giant is pulling computer scientists and engineers from Microsoft Research, the Information Platfrom, Bing, and Cortana groups, and the Ambient Computing and Robotics teams. Led by 20 year Microsoft veteran Harry Shum (who has worked in both research and engineering roles at Microsoft), the new AI team promises to "democratize AI" and be a leader in the field with intelligent products and services.
It seems that "democratizing AI" is less about free artificial intelligence and more about making the technology accessible to everyone. The AI and Research Group plans to develop artificial intelligence to the point where it will change how humans interact with their computers (read: Cortana 2.0) with services and commands being conversational rather than strict commands, new applications baked with AI such as office and photo editors that are able to proof read and suggest optimal edits respectively, and new vision, speech, and machine analytics APIs that other developers will be able to harness for their own applications. (Wow that's quite the long sentence - sorry!)
Further, Microsoft wants to build the world's fastest AI supercomputer using its Azure cloud computing service. The Azure-powered AI will be available to everyone for their applications and research needs (for a price, of course!). Microsoft certainly has the money, brain power, and computing power to throw at the problem, and this may be one of the major areas where looking to "the cloud" for a company's computing needs is a smart move as the up front capital needed for hardware, engineers, and support staff to do something like this in-house would be extremely prohibative. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will win out in the wake of competitors at being the first, but it is certainly staking its claim and does not want to be left out completely.
“Microsoft has been working in artificial intelligence since the beginning of Microsoft Research, and yet we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible,” said Shum, executive vice president of the Microsoft AI and Research Group. “Today’s move signifies Microsoft’s commitment to deploying intelligent technology and democratizing AI in a way that changes our lives and the world around us for the better. We will significantly expand our efforts to empower people and organizations to achieve more with our tools, our software and services, and our powerful, global-scale cloud computing capabilities.”
Interestingly, this announcement comes shortly after a previous announcement that industry giants Amazon, Facebook, Google-backed DeepMind, IBM, and Microsoft founded the not-for-profit Partnership On AI organization that will collaborate and research best practices on AI development and exploitation (and hopefully how to teach them not to turn on us heh).
I am looking forward to the future of AI and the technologies it will enable!
Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2016 - 06:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, server 2016
Ars Technica have put together an overview of the new Windows Server, three pages which broadly cover the new features you will find. As has often been discussed there will be three ways of installing the new Server OS, the familiar Desktop experience as well as Core and Nano. Nano is similar to the Core installation which we saw introduced in Server 2012 but further reduces the interface and attack surface by removing the last remnants of the GUI, no support for 32bit apps and the Microsoft installer; all you get is a basic control console. The Core and Desktop versions remain the same as in the 2012 version.
If you are curious about the inclusion of Docker features such as the Linux-like containers and changes to Hyper-V or deployment techniques drop by for a read.
"Like a special breed of kaiju, Microsoft's server platform keeps on mutating, incorporating the DNA of its competitors in sometimes strange ways. All the while, Microsoft's offering has constantly grown in its scope, creating variants of itself in the process."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Memristor behaves like a synapse @ Nanotechweb
- Google Fiber Is Now a Fiber and Wireless ISP @ Slashdot
- A year living with the Nexus 5X – the good, the bad, and the Nougat @ The Register
- Researchers Develop System To Send Passwords, Keys Through Users' Bodies @ Slashdot
- Apple takes tips from Microsoft as macOS Sierra becomes an automatic download @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft Azure sets up shop in France @ The Register