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Microsoft looking towards digital delivery system for Windows 8 upgrades/installs

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Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 14:11
Category: News, Software

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You may not be in love with Windows, but it does become handy from time to time.

Per the MSDN blog, Microsoft looks to be gearing up to release its next-generation Windows 8 operating system via digital release. In a post to the company’s official blog this week, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows Division, detailed the setup experience users will see with Windows 8.

Sinofsky explained that Microsoft aims to satisfy two distinct types of customers in the install process: those who want to install with minimum hassle, and those who want to do a clean install with more options, control and customization. Microsoft’s simpler solution will allow users to simply launch a file that can be delivered via the Web, not unlike Apple’s Lion, which is available for purchase and install through the Mac App Store.

“In the past, if you wanted to buy an upgrade for Windows, it involved purchasing a boxed product from a retail outlet, taking it home, (sometimes being infuriated while trying to open the box,) and inserting a DVD,” Sinofsky explained. “However, buying boxed software is quickly becoming the exception rather than the rule, with more and more software being purchased online as broadband penetration increases and large-size media downloads become more common.

“While we will continue to offer boxed DVDs, we are also making it easier than ever to purchase and install online. This includes starting the setup experience online as well, and having one continuous integrated experience from beginning to end.”

Microsoft’s Web setup will allow the company to “pre-key” the setup image that is downloaded to a unique user. This means users won’t need to enter the 25-digit product key that is currently necessary to install existing versions of Windows.

Sinofsky stopped short of saying that the Web install method will be the preferred way for users to install Windows 8, though the simplified process will likely make it ideal for most users. Through one application, Microsoft will scan a user’s system for compatibility, download Windows 8, and then install the operating system.

Apple has made it clear that the Mac App Store is the preferred way for users to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, though the company has made Lion also available on a USB thumb drive. But while Lion costs US$29.99 on the Mac App Store, its US$69 price tag when bought on a USB drive is more than double the price of the digital download.

Of course, Microsoft’s digital delivery method for Windows 8 is very different from Apple’s approach, in that Microsoft does not have a centralized software storefront akin to Apple’s Mac App Store. Users will have to load the dedicated Windows 8 Setup application to make the upgrade on their system, while the Mac App Store is available on all up-to-date systems running Apple’s previous-generation operating system, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Beyond digital delivery, Microsoft has made a number of other changes to help simplify and speed up the Windows 8 install process. Through a number of modifications to the upgrade engine, Microsoft says it has reduced a clean install time from 32 minutes for Windows 7 to 21 minutes with Windows 8.

The greatest improvement will be seen for power users who complete a “super upgrade,” which, in Microsoft’s tests, includes 1.44 million files and 120 installed applications. While a Windows 7 upgrade under that scenario would have taken 513 minutes, Windows 8′s advertised upgrade time is just 52 minutes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple specifies discounts for 2011 Black Friday sales

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 03:01
Category: iPad, iPod, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, retail

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As mentioned yesterday, Apple will be planning assorted discounts for this year’s Black Friday shopping holiday.

Per 9to5Mac, the discounts are in-line with last year’s prices with only modest discounts on their products. Price drops for their core products are as follows:

iPad 2: US$41 to US$61 Off

iPod nano: US$11 off

iPod Touch: US$21 to US$41 off

MacBook Air: US$101 off

MacBook Pro: US$101 off

iMac: US$101 off

Meanwhile, 3rd party accessories are also seeing some small discounts ranging from US$11-US$101.95 in savings for accessories such as iPad Smart Covers, iPhone battery packs and external hard drives.

These prices should be available for both online and local retail Apple store locations. For those who were planning to purchase from Apple retail anyway, it makes sense to wait until Friday. For those looking for more savings, other online retailers frequently their own Black Friday sales on Apple products as well. Depending on your location, those other online retailers may provide the added advantage of not charge sales tax on online orders. Apple’s online store does charge local sales tax on all orders due to its local presence in every state.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts Black Friday savings teaser, leaves iPhone out of potential deals to be had

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011, 08:16
Category: iPad, iPhone, MacBook Pro, News, retail

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Come Friday, there shall be savings.

And probably shoving to get to those savings.

So, look, try to be polite and don’t shove other people for the savings, all right?

Per MacStories, Apple has placed a teaser on its web site, saying that it will be holding a “special one-day Apple shopping event” on Friday. Apple plans to offer discounts on iPad, iPod, and Mac lines. It made no mention of iPhone deals.

The teaser appears to show Apple offering the deals worldwide. As of this writing, the Black Friday deal teaser is being displayed on Apple’s Australia, Italy, and U.K. online stores.

However, there are a few caveats you should keep in mind. For one, Apple says that the deals will be available on its “Online Store,” seeming to indicate it might not offer the same discounts in its retail outlets. The company is also waiting until Friday to unveil the deals it will offer customers that day.

Apple has been holding special Black Friday events for years. But its offers haven’t always been so exciting. In 2009, for example, it took just US$101 off its MacBook Pro models and US$31 off its iPod Touch.

Apple product discounts don’t come along too often and those who want to save a few bucks might want to head back over to the Apple online store later this week to see what’s offered.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Users report losing Wi-Fi signal strength after updating to iOS 5.0, 5.0.1

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011, 05:35
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Because software updates are either a great thing or a terrible thing.

Per Engadget, a number of users have reported losing Wi-Fi after updating to iOS 5.0 and beyond in the Apple discussion boards.The majority of replies mention intermittent connectivity and/or a significant loss in signal strength. The issue remains unconfirmed by Apple, but it appears to span across a number of devices, including the iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS, along with the iPad (and possibly, the iPod Touch).

Through troubleshooting, one user was able to resolve the problem by reverting to iOS 4.3, then cause it to manifest — once again — by upgrading to iOS 5. The recent iOS 5.0.1 update failed to fix the matter as well.

Apple has yet to offer an official reply regarding this issue.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Recent Apple patent points towards shatter-proof, shock mounted iPhone glass

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 21st, 2011, 07:58
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

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You can’t knock Apple for trying to make a sturdier product.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a recent Apple patent applications shows the company looking to create a “shock mounting cover glass in consumer electronic devices,” the invention claims a tunable shock mount sandwiched between the phone’s glass and other hardware. There’s also plans for a sensor that can distinguish a “drop event” from normal phone movements and an actuator to prepare the shock mount for impact. Given that it’s only at the application stage, we won’t be seeing bombproof iPhone displays any time soon, but here’s hoping it’ll become a product reality someday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T adjusts iPhone 3GS price to $0.99

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Date: Monday, November 21st, 2011, 07:08
Category: iPhone, News

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Wait long enough and things will get, well, unbelievably cheap.

Per Electronista, after making the iPhone 3GS free with contract last month, wireless AT&T has now raised the price of Apple’s two-year-old smartphone to US$0.99.

The iPhone 3GS was originally announced as free with a two-year contract during Apple’s iPhone 4S unveiling in October. It was reported Friday that AT&T has now bumped up that price to 99 cents.

“iPhone 3GS is still available at an incredibly low price and we’re confident consumers will agree that this remains one of the best deals for a leading smartphone,” the company said in a statement.

The second-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. has been the exclusive seller of the iPhone 3GS since it arrived in 2009. Sales of the handset have remained surprisingly brisk even after more than two years on the market. According to the NPD Group, the iPhone 3GS was the second-best-selling smartphone in the U.S. during the third quarter of this year, behind only its successor, the iPhone 4.

The reason for AT&T’s minor price hike remains unclear. In the past, Apple has, however, asked its partners not to advertise its products as “free” during promotions in order to prevent its brand from being diluted. It’s possible that the iPhone maker had a change of heart about the iPhone 3GS deal and asked for a nominal fee to be put in place.

Another explanation could be the existence of an obscure accounting rule that would require a token payment for the device. For example, Apple in the past had to adjust its accounting of the iPhone to a subscription method in order to steer clear of laws and policies put into place after the Enron scandal. There’s no indication that this is the case for the iPhone 3GS, however, and offers of free phones on contract have long been a practice among wireless carriers.

It has also been suggested that the new price is meant to curb overwhelming demand, but it seems unlikely that the extra US$1 would deter many prospective customers.

So, yeah…maybe you SHOULD be listening to your ancient/pragmatic relatives when they tell you to wait two years for the smartphone you’re interested in.

VMWare releases Fusion 4.1.0 update

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Date: Friday, November 18th, 2011, 11:21
Category: News, Software

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On Friday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 4.1.0 of its Fusion software for the Mac.

Similar to other virtualization software packages, VMWare allows users to run alternate operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions on Intel-based Macs at native speeds. Other features, such as Unity, allow users to run and minimize Windows applications from the Mac OS X Dock.

The new version, a 180 megabyte download, can be found here and offers the following fixes and changes:

- Smart Full Screen.

- The Return of automatically powering on favorite virtual machines: – We removed this feature in VMware Fusion 4 and you really wanted it back. Virtual machines can now be powered on automatically when VMware Fusion starts. This can be set for each virtual machine under Settings > General.

- Greatly improved graphics performance for Internet Explorer 9 with hardware accelerated graphics are up to 6x faster than VMware Fusion 4.

- Improved rendering correctness in Solidworks 2012.

- Improved graphics performance when using Mac OS X 10.7.2.

- Improved animations for full screen mode, unity mode, library and snapshots.

- Improved startup time with Windows 7 virtual machines.

- Mac OS X 10.7 Lion as a guest just got better: – Improved Mac OS X 10.7 Lion virtual machine support including smoother mouse movement and support for FileVault 2 when using Mac OS X 10.7.2 and later.

Fusion 4.1.0 retails for US$49.99 and requires an Intel-based Mac, 2 GB of RAM, Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later (10.7 recommended) and a copy of Windows (if you’ll be installing Windows).

AppleCare+ policies/rules shifted, coverage now available for sale within 30 days of iPhone 4S purchase

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Date: Friday, November 18th, 2011, 11:24
Category: iPhone, News

AppleCare has always been a good thing, it’s just that its details can get a bit muddled.

Alongside the launch of the iPhone 4S, Apple also debuted a new US$99 AppleCare+ program offering an extended warranty with accidental damage coverage. The AppleCare+ package replaced the previous US$69 AppleCare for iPhone offering that did not offer accidental coverage.

Some confusion about the AppleCare+ program arose in its early days, stemming in large part from Apple’s requirement that the coverage be purchased at the same time as the iPhone, a requirement that seemed to conflict with the legal text of the agreement which stated that AppleCare+ must be purchased within the device’s one-year standard warranty period. Regardless, a number of customers were not offered the AppleCare+ option at the time of pre-ordering, and Apple addressed the issue by offering a temporary exception to allow any early iPhone purchaser to obtain AppleCare+ through November 14th.

With that deadline for delays AppleCare+ purchases having now passed, Apple appeared set to revert to the original policy of requiring that the plan be purchased at the same time as the iPhone according to MacRumors. Apple has now updated its AppleCare+ page to indicate that users can purchase it in-person at an Apple retail store or over the phone any time within 30 days after the iPhone purchase.

How to get AppleCare+:

- Add it to your shopping cart during the checkout process when you purchase your new iPhone.

- Buy it within 30 days of your iPhone purchase at an Apple Retail location (requires a Genius Bar appointment, inspection of the iPhone & proof of purchase).

- Or call 1-800-275-2273 (requires proof of purchase).

Apple has also revised the AppleCare+ terms and conditions to remove the previous mention of the option to purchase any time within the one-year standard warranty period.

In addition to the new 30-day window, SprintFeed reports that it has received an internal Sprint notice indicating that the original amnesty period for early iPhone 4S purchasers has also been extended through December 15th. The wording does suggest, however, that the 30-day limit still applies to these customers, so customers who purchased the iPhone 4S on launch day would still be out of luck given that the window has now passed for them. But the policy does offer some continuing retroactive coverage for customers who purchased their devices less than 30 days ago.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any positive or negative stories about AppleCare+ and your iPhone 4S, please let us know.

Apple TV updated to 4.4.3

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Date: Friday, November 18th, 2011, 04:24
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

Apple on Thursday released a software update identified as version 4.4.3 for its Apple TV set-top box, though what changes it includes are unknown.

Per AppleInsider, the new Apple TV update is labeled build 9A4051, and can now be downloaded directly from the device. The version number would suggest that it is a minor update, fixing issues in the Apple TV version 4.4 software update that accompanied the launch of iOS 5 in October.

Version 4.4.3 marks the third update to have arrived since the release of 4.4, a more significant update that added AirPlay Mirroring support, Wall Street Journal Live, National Hockey League Content, Photo Stream, and iTunes Trailers. Details for Apple TV Software Update 4.4.3 have not yet been revealed by Apple.

The last Apple TV update arrived in late October with Software Update 4.4.2. It addressed an issue that required a small number of Apple TV units to be connected to iTunes in order to complete an update.

Apple also quietly added support for iTunes Match to the Apple TV early this month, without the need for a software update on the device. The $24.99-per-year iTunes Match service, which lets users re-download their entire music library on a range of devices, launched this week with the release of iTunes 10.5.1.

If you’ve tried the new Apple TV update and noticed any changes, please let us know in the comments and feedback.

SpamSieve updated to 2.8.8

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Date: Friday, November 18th, 2011, 04:54
Category: News, Software

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Michael Tsai’s must-have shareware program, SpamSieve, has just been updated to version 2.8.8. The new version, an 8.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and improvements:

- Improved compatibility with pre-release versions of Mac OS X.

- Added support for Postbox 3.0.

- Added support for Growl 1.3.

- Made various changes to improve SpamSieve’s filtering accuracy.

- The Exclude my addresses feature now lets you specify additional addresses via Terminal, if you don’t want to clutter your “Me” card in Address Book.

- The Apple Mail plug-in installer is more resilient to permissions errors.

- Added example of using colored flags to sort spam messages in Apple Mail by spamminess.

- Added some logging to detect obscure errors when loading SpamSieve’s Apple Mail plug-in.

- Improved the French localization.

SpamSieve is available for a US$30 registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run. The new version can either be downloaded directly from the web site or brought up to the current version via the program’s built-in update feature.

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