Microsoft announces fiscal third quarter earnings on Thursday -- reason for me to visit the site today in preparation. I saw what you see in the photo. Tagline: "Honestly, my new PC is exactly what I need at half the price I thought I'd pay". I find the company's months-old "Honestly" campaign to be refreshing in overall presentation and emphasized benefits. Value is big among them. (Colleague Wayne Williams disagrees, by the way.)
Honestly, what's missing: More promotion how great a value Surface is. The Windows RT model doesn't get loads of respect, but I increasingly think that it should. Surface 2 offers HD display, like the Pro model, setting the tablet apart from comparably-sized Androids or iPads selling for about the same price: $449, with 32GB of storage. Microsoft Store offers the refurbished original, granted with lower screen resolution, for $199. Bump memory to 64GB and pay $219. Keyboard cover is another $74.01. Honestly, wow.
In recent years the threats faced by both individuals and businesses have changed thanks to the adoption of new technologies like the cloud, a shift towards social engineering attacks, BYOD and more.
We spoke to Egemen Tas, vice president of engineering for leading certificate authority and security software provider Comodo to get his view on current threats.
Build 2014 has seen lots of revelations already -- a free version of Windows is on the cards, universal apps for different devices will make the lives of developers rather easier, and a raft of new Windows Phones are just around the corner -- but there is one that is particularly intriguing.
During the keynote speech today Microsoft also revealed something else. That it is changing its bloody mind yet again. The Start menu is going to make a return. Yep. The Start menu that was shunned is coming back.
Sonico GmbH has launched a Windows App version of its translation software with the release of iTranslate 1.1 for Windows RT and 8. The app follows the recent release of iTranslate Voice 2 on the iPad and iPhone.
As the name implies, iTranslate doesn't come with any support for translating phrases spoken into the microphone; instead users, must type their word or phrase into the box, and then wait for the app to translate it.
Just a few days ago, Mozilla announced that it would not bother releasing a modern version of Firefox for Windows 8.x -- this in spite of the fact that a team of developers have been working on it for over a year. It seems that the company behind the famous foxy browser regards the modern interface with just about as much disdain as everyone else. So much contempt, in fact, that it can't even bring itself to use the proper terminology: "I know [Metro is] not what Microsoft calls it anymore, but it remains how we talk about it in Mozilla", sneers Johnathan Nightingale, Vice President of Firefox.
Despite acknowledging that Mozilla is no longer "tiny" (far from it, really), Nightingale says that the company needs to focus its attention on those projects that will have the most impact. According to StatCounter, Firefox still manages to grab over 20 percent of the desktop browser market, dropping very slightly to just over 19 percent once tablets are factored in. But moving forward, there will simply be no more work carried out on the modern version of the browser. It is being abandoned like the runt of a litter.
Windows 8.1 Update. Windows 8.1 Update 1. Windows Feature Pack. Windows 8.1 Service Pack 1. Call it what you will, the big update to Windows 8.1 is just around the corner and it promises much. Or at least it did. It was revealed yesterday that it was possible to get hold of the update ahead of schedule with a quick and simple registry edit -- or by downloading the necessary files from the numerous mirrors that quickly sprang up -- and it appears that this is final code; the RTM version that will hit Windows Update for the masses very soon. Was it worth the wait?
This update was Microsoft's chance to put things right, to win back people who hated Windows 8 and have failed to be won over by 8.1. I make no secret about having a love-hate relationship with Windows 8.x. There have been parts of Windows 8 -- particularly the Metro/modern side of things -- which I disliked from day one, but for the most part I have been able to just avoid using them. Microsoft has even acknowledged that people want to avoid the Start screen whenever possible, and has provided tips on how to do so.
The standard fare of tech industry pundits just don't get it when it comes to Windows RT. They lambasted it when it came out in 2012 (in some ways, rightfully so). They doubted Microsoft would release a Surface 2 variant, and Redmond did just that. And they continue to beat the anti-RT drum loud and clear, using RT device sales figures as their proof of a pending death notice.
Perusing Google, you can come across a wild variety of articles that purport to explain why Microsoft needs to ditch RT altogether. Chris Neiger penned one such piece, and even John Martellaro of MacObserver.com did his best to argue how foolish Microsoft was for even considering RT a serious contender.
As a Surface 2 owner, I have come to grips with the fact that Windows RT, the operating system on my tablet, is a bastardized version of "real Windows". However, I love the OS, as it works great and is very secure. On the RT variant, the user cannot install classic Windows programs. While many see this as a negative, I see it as a positive -- classic Windows viruses and malware cannot be installed either.
While the user cannot install classic programs, many come pre-loaded. Favorites such as Notepad and Paint are all here, but even better, RT devices come with Office 2013 preinstalled. Recently, there has been much news about Office 2013 Service Pack 1, but the RT version has been seemingly forgotten. Believe it or not, Office 2013 RT also got updated to SP1. But if you cannot download and run an upgrade file from the web, how do you upgrade? Read on for instructions.
Today on the Windows Experience Blog, Microsoft has done something a little odd -- admitted that the Start screen "can take some time to get used to". But more than this, the blog post by Kirsten Ballweg outlines five tweaks that can be used to "make Windows 8.1 feel more familiar". Given that the first line of the post is "Windows 8.1 looks a whole lot different than Windows 7 or Windows XP", it appears that Microsoft is conceding that Windows 8.1 just isn't everyone's cup of tea.
The solution? A series of tips to help make the latest version of Microsoft's operating system feel more like a version that is several years old! The first tip is interesting. Rather than suggesting the ways in which the Start screen could aid productivity, rather than pointing out all of its cool features, users are advised to simply bypass it. Microsoft has given up trying to sell the new features of Windows to users, opting instead to show how they can be avoided -- after all "the desktop we all know and love is still there".
Finnish maker Nokia has released its earnings report for Q4 2013, the first that indicates how the company, and its financial health, will look like without the Devices & Services arm that is set to be part of Microsoft's portfolio. That business is listed under "Discontinued operations".
Another effect of the sale of this business is that Nokia no longer lists the exact volume for the mobile phones and smartphones sold during the quarter. This effectively rules out any precise Lumia Windows Phone performance comparison. However, the company gives bad news as it reveals unit sales are actually lower for its Windows Phones compared to the previous quarter, when it sold 8.8 million of them.
Since the release of the first iPad, consumers have been trying to use tablets as PC replacements. They retrofit them with keyboards trying to make them laptop-like. It's hard to blame them -- after all, the battery life of most tablets is very attractive.
Sadly, most tablets have proven to be companion devices to the PC, rather than a replacement. Luckily, Microsoft released the Surface line of tablets, which melds fun and productivity into a true PC replacement. This is because, well...it sort of is a PC. Today, the 32GB RT variant is being sold for a super-low $299 -- will you buy it?
Nokia is one of the latest hardware makers to enter the tablet market, with the Lumia 2520. It's an interesting device, that has a great display, powerful internals, 4G LTE cellular connectivity, decent internal storage, an attractive price and Windows RT 8.1 on board, that you either love or loathe. And you'd think that Nokia would want to lure consumers with these features, to get them to buy its colorful new tablet.
Like Microsoft and its first Windows RT slate, the Surface RT, Nokia went on a different path to promote the Lumia 2520. The Finnish company has released an ad which, from my point of view, does nothing to explain to consumers why they should spend their money on the device. Do not get me wrong, the ad is very interesting but the way it goes about pitching the Lumia 2520 as a good buy is very, very strange.
Consumers who are in the market for a Windows RT tablet currently have two main options to choose from -- the Microsoft Surface 2 and Nokia Lumia 2520. The former has the upper hand when it comes to availability, as it is sold in a significantly larger number of markets, while the latter offers extra connectivity options -- namely 4G LTE -- and a wider color palette. But as it turns out the Lumia 2520 also has a better screen, according to a new DisplayMate test.
"With virtually identical functionality and OS software, it is the quality and performance of the displays that really differentiates these Windows Tablets", says DisplayMate CEO Dr. Raymond M. Soneira. "The display on the Nokia Lumia 2520 is impressive while the Microsoft Surface 2 is mediocre and a disappointment".
More than half of Black Friday sales were conducted online this Thanksgiving according to figures collected by Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). A 10 percentage point increase means that a massive 55 percent of people who shopped for technology products on Black Friday did so online, and both online and offline, consumer electronic devices accounted for more than a third of sales. Shopping started as early as Thanksgiving Day itself with more than 39 million shoppers hitting the stores. But how many of these purchases represent good value for money?
Some 35 percent of all sales this weekend were taken up by tech devices. Of this number, tablets accounted for 29 percent of purchases, which is hardly surprising when you take into account that the likes of Microsoft are dramatically reducing the price of Surface tablets -- there are a number other outlets that have followed suit with this particular tablet as well as numerous others. In the first two days of the holiday weekend sales, 24 percent of tech sales were taken up by headphones, 21 percent by game hardware, 19 percent by smartphones and 17 percent by laptops.
It being the week of Thanksgiving, anyone looking for a bargain will have been eagerly anticipating Black Friday. The big names did not disappoint including Microsoft who had special prices on Surfaces. If you were undecided between buying a Surface or an iPad, Microsoft compared the two devices so you don’t have to -- and there are no prizes for guessing which comes out on top! If you give or receive giftcards as presents this year, they can now be used to pay for things through PayPal checkout.
Microsoft's Scroogled campaign may not be in the spirit of the season, but it continues apace. In one advert, the services of Pawn Stars were called upon to take a pop at Google's Chromebook -- Alan was less than impressed. Brian, however was pleased to be the recipient of a surprise, unadvertised mug having placed an order via the Scroogled store, and Joe is a big fan of the campaign. Speaking of Chromebooks, Acer announced an ultra-cheap touchscreen device in the form of the C720P.