Microsoft announces Windows 8 release date for this fall, shows off NFC features

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Date: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012, 11:06
Category: News, Software

It may not be your favorite operating system, but it’s good to have on hand.

Microsoft announced today that its Windows 8 operating system will launch this fall alongside Windows 8 for PCs and the new Surface tablet, featuring e-wallet support with NFC chips, as well as support for high-definition screens.

Windows Phone 8 was unveiled at Microsoft’s Windows Phone Developer Summit, where the company announced that the platform will support multi-core CPUs and high-definition screen resolutions. The new Windows Phone 8 will also borrow much of its code base from Windows 8, which will allow developers to create applications that can be run on phones, tablets and desktops all running Microsoft’s operating systems.

Windows Phone 8 also features Internet Explorer 10, which Microsoft said has four-times faster JavaScript performance than its predecessor, Windows Phone 7.5, and also twice the feature support for HTML5. Microsoft says that Internet Explorer 10 for Windows Phone 8 gets a better SunSpider score when testing Web browsing than the iPhone 4S running Apple’s first beta of iOS 6.

The operating system will also support near-field communications chips with a native wallet application that will store credit and debit cards, as well as loyalty and membership cards. Microsoft Vice President Joe Belfiore also demonstrated onstage on Wednesday how the new NFC functionality in Windows Phone 8 will allow handsets to scan NFC-enabled advertisements or business cards.

Microsoft is also focusing on enterprise users with Windows Phone 8, offering encryption, secure boot, and IT device management. And turn-by-turn navigation will also be built in to the operating system with Nokia map technology.

Starting with Windows Phone 8, developers will also be able to offer in-application purchases. That means upgrades and other content can be purchase with an integrated tool part of the operating system.

Microsoft is also enhancing its speech support with the latest version of Windows Phone. But in one onstage demonstration, the Audible application was asked to play “Game of Thrones,” but the phone mistakenly tried to search for “St. Louis, Missouri.” After the technical hiccup, Microsoft showed how speech recognition could be used by third-party developers for functions like searching, and playback and pausing of content.

Devices currently running Windows Phone 7.5 will not be able to upgrade to the new Windows Phone 8. Instead, Microsoft announced on Wednesday that some of the new features, such as an updated Start screen, will be brought to legacy devices with the Windows Phone 7.8 update.

The unveiling of Windows Phone 8 comes only a few days after Microsoft held a heavily hyped, high-profile event in Hollywood to unveil Surface, its new touchscreen tablet that will compete with Apple’s iPad when it hits the market this fall. Surface will be built by Microsoft itself, and will come in two forms: an ARM-based model running the Windows RT operating system, and a “pro” model featuring an Intel processor and running the full Windows 8 operating system.

A final release date and pricing have yet to be announced for the new operating system.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

LG pinpointed as supplier for MacBook Pro Retina Display

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Date: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012, 06:27
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

Per a tweet by iFixit, electronics maker LG was identified as one of the parties responsible for the new Retina Display in the recently-released 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook.

Particular interest has been paid to who supplies components to Apple since its largest supplier, Samsung, has become a fierce rival and legal opponent. Over the last year, Apple has shown signs that it would like to move away from relying on Samsung for components, but the company is believed to have been the only partner who could produce Retina displays for the third-generation iPad at launch earlier this year.

The wedge between the two companies has been driven by competition in the smartphone and tablet markets. Last April, Apple was first to sue, when it accused Samsung of copying the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad, and the two companies are now involved in a number of lawsuits that span around the world.

LG has been a major supplier of LCD displays to Apple over the years, and in 2009 the two companies reached a US$500 million deal for the supply of flat-panel displays through the year 2013. But the relationship between the two companies may have strained late last year, when LG was said to have lost its status as the leading display maker for Apple’s iPad 2, when a batch of LCD shipments were reportedly plagued with quality issues.

Going forward, Sharp is also expected to be a major partner with Apple for screen production. Last year, reports indicated Apple had invested in a Sharp plant in Japan, while this year Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn bought a 10 percent stake in Sharp to help boost its LCD business.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple requests developers focus on graphics for recent Mac OS X 10.7.5 beta

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Date: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012, 06:34
Category: News, Software

The Retina Display is king for Apple, so graphics have to be pretty high up there these days.

Per AppleInsider, Apple supplied its development community with the first beta of OS X 10.7.5, its forthcoming maintenance update to the Lion operating system.

Sources familiar with the beta issued on Tuesday indicated that it is identified as build 11G15. Those testing the software have reportedly been asked to concentrate on testing graphics performance and quality along with networking reliability and performance.

Another area of focus is said to be the importing, editing or viewing of images and media. The delta download is reportedly a 937-megabyte installer, while the combo update weighs in at 1.87 gigabytes.

Details on what exactly has been changed in the first beta of OS X 10.7.5 remain unknown, but any fixes or updates are likely to be relatively insignificant with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion set to hit the Mac App Store in July.

The most recent update to Lion, OS X 10.7.4, was publicly released in early May. It included a fix for a potential security flaw in FileBug.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.