Microsoft to begin automatically pushing Windows 7 Service Pack 1 update starting today

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Date: Tuesday, March 19th, 2013, 06:03
Category: News, Software

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If your Windows 7 partition seems to be updating itself after you’ve booted into it, there’s a reason why.

Per ZDNet, as Microsoft marches toward its early April 2013 end of free support deadline for Windows 7, the company is planning to update automatically some of those who still have yet to install the first (and seemingly only) Service Pack for the operating system.

As announced on March 18 via its “Blogging Windows” blog, Microsoft plans to begin rolling out Windows 7 SP1 automatically, via Windows Update to Windows 7 users who still are running the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) version without SP1 installed. This process will begin on March 19.

From the blog post:

“Starting tomorrow, the installation will be fully automatic with no user action required for those who already have Automatic Update enabled. SP1 will be released gradually over the coming weeks to all customers on the RTM version of Windows 7. The service pack will take slightly longer to install compared to other updates. To ensure Service Pack 1 is installed without issue, customers should check for sufficient free disk space and that AC power is present on a laptop. If additional space needs to be created, we recommend using the Disk Cleanup tool to delete some files so that the service pack will install. If the service pack installation is interrupted, it will reattempt to install automatically after the next restart.”

This automatic update will be applied only to Windows 7 consumer PCs that are not managed via other Microsoft management tools like System Center Configuration Manager or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), the post noted. Some admins have chosen to temporarily block their users from getting SP1 until they’ve tested it to their satisfaction. Those in that category won’t be getting SP1 pushed to them starting tomorrow.

Windows 7 RTM, with no service pack installed, will no longer be supported as of April 9, 2013, according to a February 14 post on the Microsoft Springboard Series blog. Support for specific Windows releases ends 24 months after the release of a new Service Pack, and Windows 7 SP1 was released in February 2011.

Windows 7 SP1 mainstream (free) support continues until January 13, 2015. Extended (paid) support for Windows 7 SP1 is available until January 14, 2020. (Microsoft continues to provide security updates for free during the Extended support phase of a product.)

Microsoft made available last week a Windows 7 hotfix rollup that includes 90 previously released hotfixes.

So, if you’ve been lax with the “Windows Update” feature on your Windows 7 partition, it might just do it for you.

Rumor: Apple’s next-gen “budget” iPhone to feature same 4-inch display as current iPhone 5

Posted by:
Date: Friday, March 15th, 2013, 07:09
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Just because you’re buying the economy model doesn’t mean you have to settle for a smaller screen.

Per AppleInsider, contrary to some rumors suggesting Apple’s low-cost iPhone will have a larger 4.5-inch display, the company’s new entry-level handset will have a 4-inch display, matching the size of the iPhone 5.

The details on Apple’s so-called “budget” iPhone were revealed on Friday by Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a reliable track record in predicting Apple’s future product plans. According to Kuo, the specs for Apple’s low-cost iPhone were decided in 2011, and the company is “unlikely to abruptly change” due to a market shift toward larger screens in the 5-inch range.

The new, less expensive iPhone model is said to have a “super-thin plastic casing mixed with glass fiber.” The material will make it stronger, thinner and lighter than typical smartphone plastic casings, Kuo said.

He expects the thickness to be between 0.4 and 0.6 millimeters, which is thinner than the average plastic casing at between 0.7 and 1 millimeter.

The phone will also reportedly come in a range of colors, much like Apple’s iPod lineup. According to Kuo, there will be between four and six options, expanding from the black and white choices currently available on existing iPhone models.

Apple is said to have contracted with Foxconn as well as Green Point of the Jabil group for its strong and thin iPhone plastic casings. Hon Hai will both build casings and assemble the phones, while Jabil is expected to provide its casings to Pegatron, which will assemble the remaining iPhones. The analyst reported earlier this week that Apple was likely to diversify manufacturers for both its low-cost and legacy iPhones.

Kuo’s latest report issued on Friday was specifically issued to dispel claims made in the rumor mill that claimed Foxconn would be losing orders for Apple’s low-cost iPhone. The report erroneously indicated that the device would have a larger display than 4 inches.

The latest information from Kuo corroborates other rumored details present within the tech industry. That report claimed the “budget” iPhone will feature a 5-inch display like the iPhone 5, but will also borrow some design elements from the latest iPod touch and even the legacy iPod classic, with a flat back made of plastic.

In addition to a low-cost iPhone based on the design of the iPhone 5, Kuo also expects Apple to release an updated premium “iPhone 5S” later this year. He has previously revealed that the next high-end iPhone is expected to include a fingerprint sensor under the home button that will eliminate the need to enter passwords and potentially add new functionality such as secure e-wallet transactions through Passbook.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.3.2, Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.6 updates for Mac

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Date: Tuesday, March 12th, 2013, 09:17
Category: News, Software

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.2 update. The update, a 118 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- This update fixes critical issues and also helps to improve security. It includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.2 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

The company also released its Office 2008 12.3.6 update, a 219.9 megabyte download (via MacUpdate), which offers the following fixes and changes:

- This update fixes critical issues and also helps to improve security. It includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.6 requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later to install and run.

Rumor: Intel, Apple in negotiations for Intel to start making processors for iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 7th, 2013, 06:26
Category: Hardware, News, Processors, Rumor

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Maybe a really good partnership CAN live forever…

Per the Chicago Tribune, an anonymous source has cited that executives have over the past year discussed a possible partnership in which Intel’s foundries would be used to manufacture Apple-designed chips. A deal has not yet been reached, the source said.

This is not the first time rumors of an Apple-Intel partnership have cropped up. A report from May 2011 suggested that Intel showed interest in building Apple’s A4 and A5 SoCs, though no action was taken and the idea was apparently shelved as the so-called Ultrabook initiative gained momentum.

Intel is supposedly looking to shift its strategy as PC sales continue to slump as mobile devices, led by tablets like Apple’s iPad, continue to gobble up marketshare. The firm has been looking to expand its foundry business, most recently agreeing to fabricate silicon based on technology from chip maker Altera.

While an agreement to start production of ARM SoCs would likely undercut adoption of Intel’s own Atom mobile processor, the move might be necessary to keep pace with a quickly changing market. The report also speculates that Intel’s replacement for CEO Paul Otellini, who plans to retire in May, may further diversify the company’s contract operations in a bid to keep manufacturing facilities working at full capacity.

As for Apple, a move to Intel is easier to imagine, as the Mac lineup already runs on x86 processors. It has also been rumored that the company wants to distance itself from current A-series SoC manufacturer Samsung, with which it is ensnarled in a worldwide patent struggle. The Korean electronics giant is also Apple’s biggest competition in the mobile marketplace, with a variety of Android-based devices going jockeying for position against iOS products like the iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft quietly increases Office 2011 for Mac price by 10 to 17%

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 19th, 2013, 07:03
Category: News, Software

Well, this is mildly sadistic.

Per CNET, Microsoft has quietly increased the prices of its Office for Mac 2011 by as much as 17 percent, putting it on price par with Office 2013 for Windows.

The company has also quit selling multi-license packages, which allowed customers to purchase multiple copies of the application suite at a discounted rate.

The single-license Office for Mac Home & Student now retails for US$140, an increase of about 17 percent from the previous price of US$120. Meanwhile, Microsoft raised the price of Office for Mac Home & Business, which includes Outlook, to US$220, a 10 percent increase over the previous US$200 price.

Microsoft doesn’t seem to have publicized the price increase, so it’s not clear when it actually took effect. However, Computerworld, which first reported the increase, estimates it occurred around January 29, the same day that Microsoft Office 2013 and Office 365 were launched.

In addition to the price increase, Microsoft ceased sales of multi-license editions.

The multi-user packs are still for sale on Amazon (while supplies last) at a significant discount, but the listing notes that the software is an older edition.
The moves are apparently intended to redirect customers toward Office 365, which costs US$100 for an annual subscription. The new offering is part of effort by Microsoft to bring its suite of Office server tools and collaboration work flows into the cloud.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.3.0 update for Mac

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013, 07:27
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.0 update. The update, a 106.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Meeting invitation times are displayed inaccurately in Outlook. Fixes an issue that causes meeting invitation times from non-Exchange calendar servers to be off by one hour during certain times of the year.

- Slides in collapsed sections cover other slides in Slide Sorter view in PowerPoint.

- Fixes a display issue that involves collapsed sections in Slide Sorter view.

- Hash tags (#) in hyperlinks aren’t saved correctly in PowerPoint. Fixes an issue in which hyperlinks that contain hash tags (#) aren’t saved correctly.

- Crash occurs when you use Paste Special with a partial table in PowerPoint. Fixes an issue that causes PowerPoint to crash when you use the Paste Special option to copy and paste part of a table.

- RTF text that’s saved in PowerPoint for Windows can’t be pasted into PowerPoint. Fixes an issue in which RTF text that’s saved in PowerPoint for Windows can’t be copied and pasted into PowerPoint for Mac.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.0 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and have anything to report back, let us know.

CrossOver updated to 12.1

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Date: Thursday, January 24th, 2013, 08:09
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular virtualization program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 12.1. The new version, a 75.7 megabyte download, is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

WHAT’S NEW:
- We have fixed a bug where certain users who chose “Register for all users of this computer” during CrossOver’s registration would receive an error claiming their bottle had “expired” and could not be used, despite the user having a valid CrossOver license.

- We have added a preference setting allowing the user to control what CrossOver does with an unknown Windows .exe file when it is launched. Using this preference, the user can tell CrossOver either to treat the unknown .exe file as an application installer, or to simply run it.

- CrossOver will now auto-update CrossTie files if the user has permitted auto-updates of CrossOver itself via Sparkle.

- Fixed a bug where automatic updates via Sparkle would fail for some users on Mac OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard.

- Fixed a bug which caused several games to fail when running in fullscreen mode.

- Games which should be improved include StarCraft, Fallout, and, we hope, many others.

- Fixed a bug which prevented some users from logging into World of Tanks servers.

- CrossOver no longer ships Wine-Mono, an open-source replacement for .Net, by default. We had started doing this for CrossOver 12 but the large increase in download size and disk space usage proved too much. CrossOver can still download and install Wine-Mono as-needed.

- We have fixed a bug which caused CrossOver to print unnecessary error messages when launching Windows applications, complaining that certain icon files could not be found.

- New translations for Polish & Chinese (China), and a partial translation for Italian.

Application Support:
- Fixed connection errors with Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010 when connecting to hosted Exchange servers.

- Fixed a bug which caused adding a table of contents to a Microsoft Word document to fail.

- Fixed an issue where Quicken failed to download WebConnect and QFX files.

- Fixed an issue where Quicken crashed viewing investment details.

- Fixed an issue where Quicken crashed when expanding columns in reports.

- Fixed a bug which caused clicking on a promotional offer in Quicken to crash.

- Fixed some connection failures with Quicken 2011.

- Fixed an issue where rotated text was garbled in PowerPoint 2010.

- Fixed a bug selecting shapes in Visio 2010.

- Fixed a crash on launch in HCFA-1500.

CrossOver 12.1 retails for US$59.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.6 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Intel licensing/certification restrictions holding up Thunderbolt adoption rate

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 16th, 2013, 07:15
Category: Hardware, News

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If you wondered why Lightning and Thunderbolt accessories were being adopted at a slow rate, there might just be an answer.

Per Ars Technica, a number of factors have played a part in the small selection of available Thunderbolt accessories, but the most significant may be Intel’s lengthy licensing and certification process.

A rundown on the state of Thunderbolt was published on Tuesday which acknowledged that accessories designed for the high-speed port remain a “niche.” It noted that more Thunderbolt-compatible devices are coming, but the initial selection has been limited thanks, in part, to Intel’s licensing requirements.

A number of vendors who spoke with author Chris Foresman claimed that Intel has been “cherry picking which vendors it worked with.” The chipmaker has apparently opted to work closely with a select number of vendors to ensure products would meet its stringent certification requirements.

Intel has denied that characterization, but did reportedly admit that it has had limited resources to approve new products. But Jason Ziller, director of Thunderbolt marketing and planning with Intel, also suggested licensing will expand to a greater number of vendors this year.

Another sign of potential improvement in Thunderbolt availability came last week, when Apple quietly released a shorter cable measuring half a meter in length, and also shaved US$10 off the price of the original 2-meter cable that debuted in 2011. Corning also showed off new Thunderbolt optical cables at CES that can transfer data over hundreds of feet.

Thunderbolt was developed in cooperation between Apple and Intel, and first launched on Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup in March of 2011. Since then, Thunderbolt ports have also begun to appear in some Windows-based PCs, though the number of available accessories has not yet taken off.

Thunderbolt pairs the high-speed PCI Express serial interface with the Apple-developed Mini DisplayPort to provide both data and video through a single port with I/O performance of up to 10Gbps. Originally codenamed ‘Light Peak,’ Intel had planned to use optical cabling but switched to copper wire because of cost constraints.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple adds Fusion Drive as build-to-order option for 21.5-inch iMac

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Date: Monday, January 7th, 2013, 06:29
Category: Hardware, News

The cool thing you want is now available for the base model iMac.

Per MacGeneration and AppleInsider, Apple is now offering the Fusion Drive as a build-to-order option when ordering the most affordable 2.7GHz 21.5-inch iMac model, a change in availability from October when the system was limited to high-end versions and the 27-inch iMac.

The revision to the Online Apple Store’s build-to-order options, first spotted by MacGeneration, adds Apple’s hybrid Fusion Drive as a US$250 upgrade to the base model 21.5-inch iMac.

Introduced in October 2012 alongside the redesigned iMac, Apple’s Fusion Drive is a hardware and software solution that promises the performance of a solid state drive with the storage capacity of a hard drive. Initial tests showed the hybrid drive to cut startup times in half while increasing read and write speeds significantly when compared to a traditional 5400-rpm hard drive.

The software driving the technology is built into OS X Mountain Lion and join a 128-gigabyte SSD with either a 1-terabyte or 3-terabyte HDD to form a single addressable volume. Integral applications and the operating system itself are permanently stored on the flash memory while other files are store on the slower spinning drive. The system monitors a user’s operations and swaps frequently accessed files, folders or programs between the two to optimize performance. Transfers take place seamlessly in the background and require no user input.

Previously, the hardware that works in tandem with the Fusion Drive software was only available on the more expensive 2.9GHz 21.5-inch iMac model.

Rumor: Apple may switch to IGZO displays for next-gen iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 27th, 2012, 06:57
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, Rumor

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Next year could be interesting where iOS devices are concerned.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is reportedly in talks with Sharp to use the company’s IGZO display technology in next-generation iPhones and iPads, but low yield rates have prompted the Cupertino tech giant to look at other Asian display makers in efforts to bolster its supply chain.

According to sources close to the story, Apple is said to be further evaluating Sharp’s IGZO panel production capacity for 2013 ahead of rolling out the technology in upcoming iPhone, iPad and iPad mini models. Rumors of Apple’s interest in using IGZO, or indium, gallium and zinc oxide, displays first surfaced in late 2011.

While the Sharp-developed screens are thinner and more efficient than those found in current iDevices, Apple was unable to take advantage of the technology as the struggling Japanese electronics firm saw setbacks with initial yields. Only recently has the company introduced the first IGZO panels with its own mobile offerings limited to the Japanese domestic market.

It appears that supply constraints are a continuing concern, as Apple is said to also be evaluating whether display partner AU Optronics’ “L5C” line can be used to produce the cutting edge panels. In addition, Innolux was reportedly granted a license to make IGZO displays, suggesting that the Taiwanese company may become an Apple display supplier.

The most recent rumors surrounding an IGZO-toting Apple product came in July when sources in China claimed the tech would be one of the standout features of the iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.