Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.1 update released

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Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 17:05
Category: News, Software

Let’s try this again.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.1 update. The update, a 110 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Document Connection support for SkyDrive documents is improved. This update enables users to view and access documents that are located in the root level of a SkyDrive folder.

- The drag-and-drop feature in Document Connection is added in Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). This update adds a drag-and-drop feature for files in Document Connection in Mac OS X 10.7.

- Upload functionality for SharePoint sites is improved. This update fixes an issue in which you receive the following error message when you upload a file to a SharePoint site: Upload Failed You must sign in to save your changes to the server.

- The Italian grammar checker is improved. This update fixes an issue in which the Italian grammar checker does not check a complete document.

- The German grammar checker is improved. This update fixes an issue in which the German grammar checker does not check a complete document when the document contains certain German sentences.

Improvements for Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011:
- The database and the rebuild utility are improved. This update includes fixes that increase the robustness of the database and that improve the effectiveness of the rebuild utility. Outlook for Mac uses the Office database to store personal information, such as messages and contacts.

- This update fixes issues that cause database corruptions, instability, and crashes. This update also improves database transactions and the ability to recover from certain errors. If there is a problem within the database, Outlook for Mac starts the Database Utility, which tries to rebuild the database. After you install this update, the Database Utility recovers additional account information, such as shared resources and categories, and recovers from corruption scenarios. This update also adds the ability to cancel a database rebuild in Outlook for Mac.

- IMAP account sync that includes support for synchronizing with Gmail is improved. After you install this update, Outlook for Mac updates new messages in IMAP folders regularly. Additionally, Outlook for Mac users who use Gmail accounts can map folders, such as Drafts, Deleted Items, Sent Items, and Junk E-Mail, automatically.

- Outlook for Mac performance in key scenarios is improved. This update introduces several performance improvements in the following areas:
General responsiveness during syncing
Deleting multiple records
Displaying email message content
Sending email messages

- Exchange email message sync is improved. This update introduces a new sync model for Exchange. The new model enables Outlook for Mac to download an email message in parts. For example, Outlook for Mac first downloads and displays message text and then downloads large images and attachments.

- Downloading messages in parts reduces the load on the Exchange server and improves performance for the user.

- Support for calendar scheduling resources is improved. This update improves support for calendar scheduling resources and for free/busy comparison functionality in the Scheduling Assistant.

- Week numbers are added to the calendar display. This update adds a preference to enable the calendar to display week numbers.

- Distribution list expansion functionality is included. This update enables you to expand distribution lists into individual members when you add a distribution list in the To field or rest the mouse pointer on a distribution list.

Improvements for Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2011:
- Functionality for pasting special hyperlinks is included. This update introduces functionality that enables you to paste special hyperlinks in PowerPoint.

- The list of co-authors is improved. This update fixes an issue in which you cannot see the list of co-authors in a presentation.

- Full Screen View in Lion is supported. This update supports Full Screen View in PowerPoint. Additionally, when you close slide show mode in PowerPoint, edit mode opens.

Improvements for Microsoft Word for Mac 2011:
- Printing PDF faxes is improved. This update fixes an issue in which Word cannot send .pdf files as faxes.

- The user information display in templates is improved. This update fixes an issue in which a Word template does not display a user’s name, address, telephone number, fax number, and email address when you view the template after the template is saved in .doc format.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.1 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and for the Service Pack 1 updater to have been previously installed.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Google Chrome updated to 18.0.1025.165

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Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 11:17
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 18.0.1025.165 for the Mac. The new version, a 35.4 megabyte download, offers the following changes:

- Fixes a top crasher on the Mac.

Google Chrome 18.0.1025.165 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Google Drive service launched, users begin with 5GB of free online storage space

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Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 06:21
Category: News, Software

You just can’t knock free cloud space.

Per Google’s official blog, the company launched its long-rumored Google Drive service was officially launched on Tuesday, offering users 5 gigabytes of free cloud-based file storage.

Google Drive was presented as a service that allows users to “create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff.” It allows users to upload and access all file types, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and more.

Users can start at drive.google.com/start#home and the Google Drive application can also be installed on a Mac or Windows PC to sync files locally. A Drive application is now available for Google Android devices, while the company said it is “working hard” on a version of Drive for iOS devices.

Storage can be upgraded to 20 gigabytes for US$5 per year, 80 gigabytes for US$20, 200 gigabytes for US$50, 400 gigabytes for US$100, and one terabyte for US$256.

Upgrading to a paid account will also give Gmail users a boost on their e-mail storage through Google to 25 gigabytes. Storage used in Gmail does not come out of space allotted for Google Drive.

In comparison, Apple’s iCloud service, which launched last October, comes with 5 gigabytes for free, while users can buy an additional 10 gigabytes for US$20 per year, 20 gigabytes for US$40, or 50 gigabytes for US$100.

Google said that Drive allows users to work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Using the new service, users can also share content easily, and add and reply to comments on anything, including PDFs, images, or video files.

Of course, the company’s search technology is also a part of the package, granting the ability to search by keyword and filter by type, owner and more. Google Drive can also recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition technology.

Drive also ties in with other Google products, allowing users to attach photos from Drive to posts in the Google+ social networking service. Soon, users will also be able to attach files from Drive directly to e-mails in Gmail.

Google also boasted that drive is an “open platform,” which will allow third-party developers to enable new features. Some of the additions mentioned by the company include the ability to send faxes, edit videos, and create website mockups.

If you’ve tried the new service and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple posts $11.6 billion profit for Q2 2012, iOS devices drive strong earnings

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Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 05:48
Category: Finance, News

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It’s pretty clear at this point: Apple’s not in danger of going out of business.

Per Macworld, on Tuesday, Apple reported a net profit of US$11.6 billion on revenue of US$39.2 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2012. Those are respective increases of 94 percent and 59 percent from the 2011 second quarter. Apple’s profit translates to earnings of US$12.30 per share, up from US$6.40 a share last year; analysts were looking for earnings of US$10.06 a share for the quarter.

All told, Apple tallied record March quarter sales for its iPad, iPhone, and Mac lineups. The company also saw record results for its retail stores during what chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer called “the most amazing March quarter that Apple has ever had.”

It was a big quarter for Apple’s iPhone business as the company launched the third-generation tablet on March 16 and cut the entry level price to US$399 for the iPad 2. While those moves came late in the quarter, Apple sold 11.8 million tablets during the quarter, up from 151 percent in the year-ago period.

In terms of revenue, Apple recorded US$6.6 billion from iPad sales, up from US$2.8 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Following its March 16 launch in the U.S. and nine other countries, the third-generation iPad is now available in 40 countries around the world.

Apple executives also noted on Tuesday that the iPad is extending the company’s reach into new markets. According to Oppenheimer, Apple sold two iPads for every Mac bought by one of its K-12 education customers in the U.S.—and that was during a record March quarter for Mac sales. Oppenheimer also touted the iPad’s presence in the enterprise, specifically citing the U.S. Air Force’s deployment of “thousands” of iPads as technical flight bags.

“The iPad continues to open new doors to customers with whom Apple had no previous relationship,” Oppenheimer said.

iPhone numbers were also strong for Apple during the quarter. The company sold 35.1 million phones between January and March, an 88 percent jump from year-ago iPhone sales and a record for the March quarter. That outpaced the growth of the overall smartphone market, in which sales increased 42 percent year over year.

Revenue from the iPhone grew 85 percent from last year’s second quarter to US$22.69 billion.

In particular, Apple did brisk iPhone business in the Far East. Sales more than doubled in the Asia Pacific and Japan markets, according to Oppenheimer. In China, iPhone sales increased five times from last year, helped by the iPhone 4S’s release in that country in January and the addition of China Telecom as an iPhone carrier in March.

Apple ended the quarter with the iPhone 4S available in 100 countries with 230 carriers offering the smartphone.

Oppenheimer says iOS device sales—which include the iPod touch—totaled 50 million during the March quarter. Apple’s cumulative iOS device sales have grow to 365 million units.

The App Store now carries more than 600,000 apps, with a third of those specifically built for Apple’s iPad.

Mac sales also set a March quarter record. The company sold 4 million Macs, an increase of 7 percent from the year-ago quarter. The entire PC industry grew 2 percent during the March quarter, making it six full years that Apple’s Mac business has outpaced the demand for PCs overall.

Notebooks are still the driver for Apple’s Mac business. The 2.8 million portable Macs sold during the quarter represent 70 percent of Mac sales. Besides illustrating the importance of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air to Apple’s fortunes, that figure could also indicate that Apple’s desktop lineup is getting long in the tooth. The iMac last saw an overhaul nearly a year ago while the Mac mini has remained unchanged since July 2011. The Mac Pro is approaching the second anniversary of its last update.

The Asia Pacific market saw the biggest jump in Mac unit sales, with a 29 percent rise from last year. Other global markets saw single-digit growth in Mac sales.

Apple’s Mac sales may be outpacing the industry growth rate, thanks in some part to the company’s brick-and-mortar retail efforts. Apple says it sold 826,000 Macs at its retail outlets in the second quarter—about 20 percent of all the Macs it sold during the three-month period. About half the Macs sold at Apple Stores were to customers new to the platform.

Speaking of Apple retail, Apple ended the quarter with 363 stores, after opening two new ones in Amsterdam and Houston. Retail revenue of US$4.4 billion for the quarter was up 38 percent from last year. It was the retail segment’s second-largest quarter of sales, behind only first quarter of 2012, which includes the holiday shopping season.

iPod sales continued their decline. Apple sold 7.7 million music players, a drop of 15 percent from the second quarter of 2011. iPod sales actually came in ahead of Apple’s expectations for the quarter, according to Oppenheimer, with Apple choosing to focus on the fact that the higher-priced iPod touch represents more than half of the iPods sold during the quarter. Even with its declining sales, the iPod remains the market leader among MP3 players, according to Apple’s figures.

The company was much more eager to talk about the growth of its iTunes Store, which also saw record revenue of US$1.9 billion during the quarter. That’s an increase of 35 percent from last year’s tally, with music, video, and app sales driving the growth.

Apple executives revealed a few other interesting details about the quarter during their briefing with analysts. The company ended the quarter with US$110 billion in cash—a situation that figures to change in July when Apple starts paying out a US$2.65 per share dividend to shareholders. Oppenheimer said the company would provide more information about that dividend program in July.

iCloud now has 125 million subscribers, after Apple launched the cloud-based service and MobileMe replacement last October. That subscriber base is up from 85 million at the end of the first quarter. It was only in February that Cook was telling investors that iCloud had topped the 100 million subscriber mark.

Apple continues to do a staggering amount of business in China. Cook told analysts the company recorded US$7.9 billion in sales from that country during the second quarter, three times the amount of revenue it took in during the year-ago period. The US$12.4 billion in revenue Apple has seen in China during the first six months of its 2012 fiscal year nearly matches its revenue from that country for all of 2011. Cook credited pent-up demand for the iPhone 4S and strong iPad 2 demand for much of that growth, which is also creating a halo effect for Mac sales in China.

Oppenheimer told analysts to expect revenue of US$34 billion and earnings per share of US$8.68 for the June quarter. That compares to revenue of US$28.57 billion and earnings of US$7.79 per share for the fiscal third quarter of 2011.

Apple’s forecasted numbers would be a sequential drop from the revenue and earnings the company just reported for its second quarter. Oppenheimer said the company is expecting a sequential decline in iPhone sales, as Apple had ramped up inventory to meet pent-up demand. The company was also able to satisfy demand for the new iPad, thanks to a significant supply of tablets. The lower entry price for the iPad 2 and a stronger U.S. dollar are also factors in Apple’s forecast.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.