Mac mini inventories begin to dwindle, could signal next-gen Ivy Bridge model

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Date: Tuesday, October 9th, 2012, 07:46
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, News

You love your Mac mini.

And you’re fond of the Ivy Bridge hardware architecture.

It’s time the two came together to form something nifty.

Per AppleInsider, numerous sellers are currently out of stock of the Mac mini. Specifically, for the 2.3-gigahertz model, stock-outs are seen at Amazon, MacConnection, and J&R, while the 2.5-gigahertz option is unavailable at Amazon, MacMall, MacConnection and J&R.

Supplies of the Mac mini Server with a 2-gigahertz Core i7 processor is also running dry, as Amazon advertised as of Monday that it only has a few units left in stock, while MacMall and MacConnection are currently sold out.

In addition, Macerkopf.de noted on Monday that supply of the Mac mini has also begun to run dry in Germany. Apple typically winds down its inventory ahead of a new product launch, and limited supply at third-party resellers is often one of the first signs that a hardware refresh is forthcoming.

However, supply fluctuations are not always a sign that a hardware refresh is imminent. For example, Apple’s iMac has seen its availability remain constrained off and on since July, but the all-in-one desktop has not yet been updated.

An updated Mac mini was not listed by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo among the eight new products Apple is rumored to launch this fall. However, he did indicate that Apple is planning to debut a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, as well as redesigned 21.5- and 27-inch iMacs.

Apple last updated the Mac mini in July of 2011, adding support for the high-speed Thunderbolt port while ditching the built-in optical disc drive that had been found on previous models. The current Mac mini lineup starts at US$599 and features Intel’s previous-generation Sandy Bridge processors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Two new patents show Apple looking into “shake to print” technology for iOS devices

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Date: Friday, October 5th, 2012, 07:02
Category: News, Patents, Software

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This could lead to something interesting.

Per FreePatentsOnline and AppleInsider, a pair of new patent filings reveal a concept from Apple that would allow users to select custom settings for printing by moving or interacting with an iPhone or iPad in unique ways.

The patents, entitled Systems and Methods for Defining Print Settings Using Device Movements, and Systems and Methods for Defining Print Settings Using an Input Interface, respectively, describe a system in which a user could shake their iPhone back and forth to enable a print settings mode. In another implementation, a user could shake their iPad to cancel a print job.

Apple already has a system-wide “Shake to Undo” feature in iOS that uses a device’s built-in accelerometer. The company also offers “Shake to Shuffle” when playing music.

With Apple’s new concept, users could also change settings — such as print orientation — by rotating or moving an iOS device. For example, viewing a photo in portrait mode could then send the picture to a printer with the same layout.

The patent application also goes beyond motion and orientation of the device, and presents new ways that users could interact with an iPad to select printer settings. One illustration shows how users could select a range of pages to print from a document, while a template selector would show a user how their content would appear on various paper sizes.

When viewing multiple pages of a document at once on a touchscreen device, a user could also use their finger to draw across the pages and signify an order in which the pages should be printed.

The applications, made public this week, were first filed with the USPTO in March of 2011. The proposed inventions are credited to Howard A. Miller, David Gelphman, and Richard Blanchard Jr.

Apple assembles audio/video homage to Steve Jobs to celebrate former CEO’s passing

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Date: Friday, October 5th, 2012, 06:45
Category: News

If you have a chance, head on over to www.apple.com today.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has assembled its homage to co-founder Steve Jobs, who passed away one year ago today as well as a letter from CEO Tim Cook.

Users who visit the web site are greeted with a blank white website that simply plays the video, which features black-and-white pictures of Jobs, along with audio clips from some of his greatest speeches and presentations.

The video concludes with the title “Remembering Steve,” and the dates marking his birth and death. After it concludes, navigation links to the remainder of the company’s website fade in to view, along with a note from Cook, Apple’s chief executive.

Cook’s full letter is included below:

A message from Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

Steve’s passing one year ago today was a sad and difficult time for all of us. I hope that today everyone will reflect on his extraordinary life and the many ways he made the world a better place.

One of the greatest gifts Steve gave to the world is Apple. No company has ever inspired such creativity or set such high standards for itself. Our values originated from Steve and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple. We share the great privilege and responsibility of carrying his legacy into the future.

I’m incredibly proud of the work we are doing, delivering products that our customers love and dreaming up new ones that will delight them down the road. It’s a wonderful tribute to Steve’s memory and everything he stood for.

Tim

It was exactly one year ago, on Oct. 5, 2011, that Jobs passed away at the age of 56 after a long bout with cancer. He died peacefully at his home, surrounded by his family.

Apple exploring wireless headphone technology for “active” users

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 07:22
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

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The wireless headphones you’ve been dreaming of…they could be en route.

And if wireless headphones are the biggest concern in your life, that’s saying something.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday reveals Apple is investigating a unique set of headphones, designed to withstand the rigors of athletic activity by eliminating the need for cumbersome cords.

The invention, titled “Detachable wireless listening device,” describes headphones designed to free listeners from the burden of wires by leveraging wireless transmission technology, such as Bluetooth.

Apple notes that, while inexpensive and efficient, common wired headsets like earbuds are “susceptible to becoming entangled while the end user is participating in physical activity.” The situation can be “particularly nettlesome” since the cord is somewhat firmly affixed to the portable media player by a 3.5mm plug, which can be a potential hazard to both the device and its user.

To solve the ever-present trouble of wired connections, Apple suggests a type of hybrid system that can receive audio data through a cable as with traditional earbuds, but can also be detached from the device and operate wirelessly when needed.

The clever “listening device” is connected to the player by either a physical clip or detent, or a series of magnets. When attached, the headphones are able to use the cord as an RF antenna with data being processed by the host device, and a means of power for charging a set of built-in batteries. While connected, the headphones receive audio signals through the cable and are able to tap into the media player’s power supply if needed, thus saving precious energy for untethered use.

If the headphones becomes detached, either by the user or unintentionally, the host device seamlessly pauses the charging process, activates a wireless module and begins to send audio over Bluetooth of some other form of radio communication. The patent notes that stereo audio can be provided to the wireless headset by assigning each side, right and left, a unique wireless address.

Apple cofounder Steve Jobs famously said in 2005 that Bluetooth was simply not suitable for headphones because the bandwidth was too low for high quality sound reproduction, and people are loathe to charge both an iPod or iPhone as well as a peripheral.

That was arguably true seven years ago, however the advent of low-power Bluetooth 4.0 components, combined with Thursday’s unique hybrid headphone invention, could one day lead to the level of technology Jobs was waiting for.

The “listening device” patent was filed in March 2011 with Jorge S. Fino credited as its inventor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.2.4, Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.4 updates for Mac

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Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:24
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.4 update. The update, a 116 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Office 2011 for Mac now supports retina rendering on Mac computers that are equipped with a Retina display.

Improvements for Outlook for Mac 2011:
- This update adds the ability for reminders of calendar events to be displayed for all calendars in Outlook. Previously, reminders were only displayed for calendar events in the default account’s calendar. Reminders are now displayed for other calendars, and this includes local On My Computer calendars. This update adds the ability to select a default text encoding for composing new messages.

- The encoding that is selected in composing preferences will be applied to all new messages that are sent from Mac Outlook. To access composing preferences, select Outlook, select Preferences, and then select Composing. The new preference is Preferred encoding for new messages.

- This update changes the HTML syntax of new signatures to be compatible with Mountain Lion and the latest version of WebKit. Email signatures in HTML-formatted email messages may not be displayed in the intended color when the messages are viewed in Mountain Lion or in previous OS versions that were upgraded to the latest version of WebKit. Existing signatures that exhibit this problem must be deleted and recreated to resolve the problem.

- This update improves Mac Outlook’s handling of partially downloaded messages. It is now possible to delete or move partially downloaded Exchange messages within the same account.

- This update fixes an issue in which Mac Outlook would crash when it moved certain messages to On My Computer folders by using client-side rules.

- This update fixes an issue in which the last entry from search results in the Select User dialog box was chosen even when another entry was selected. Distribution lists that are selected from search results in the Select User dialog box are chosen correctly. This issue was related to searching and selecting distribution lists only.

- This update resolves an issue that prevented Mac Outlook from downloading mail, calendar, or contact items that contained certain nonprintable characters.

- This update fixes an issue in Mac Outlook with delegated access to email. In certain cases, the email address of the primary user would be added incorrectly to the “Me” contact of the delegate.
This update resolves the issue in which, in some cases, searching in Mac Outlook by using a date filter returned the wrong results.

- This update fixes an issue in Mac Outlook that affected certain messages that were originally imported from PST files. If such messages were copied into an Exchange account, certain messages would not be readable on Outlook Web Access or other Exchange mail clients.

Microsoft Office 14.2.4 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.

The company also released version 12.3.4 of its Microsoft Office 2008 suite for Mac. The update, a 229 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and features:

- Contains changes that improve stability, reliability, and performance.

- Fixes an issue that may cause Excel 2008 for Mac to crash when you click Insert Object and then click to select the Display as icon check box in the Insert Object dialog box.

Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.4 requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later to install and run.

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

Apple to cover international LTE standards via three hardware variants

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Date: Thursday, September 13th, 2012, 08:31
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

The iPhone 5 is en route.

And it looks like a nifty feat of engineering.

With the variety of different LTE frequency bands used by various carriers available globally, Apple will be making three versions of iPhone 5, with the potential for additional new models as Apple signs on other carriers according to AppleInsider.



Apple built a single, global model of the iPhone up until the beginning of 2011, when it introduced a CDMA-only iPhone 4 version compatible with Verizon. When it introduced iPhone 4S a year ago, Apple incorporated support for both GSM and CDMA networks, resulting in a “world phone,” albeit still locked by specific carriers.

The new iPhone 5 now comes in three LTE versions, all of which continue to support the global GSM/UMTS services of iPhone 4S (Quad Band 2G GSM/EDGE on 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz, and Quad Band 3G UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA on 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz) with new support for “4G” DC-HSDPA (which at up to 42Mbps is as fast as most carriers’ 4G LTE service). Only one of the three versions continues to support CDMA.

To cover its launch carriers’ LTE services, Apple has announced these three different models:

A North American GSM A1428 model for use on AT&T and Apple’s Canadian partners Bell/Virgin, Rogers/Fido and Telus/Kodo provides LTE support for bands 4 (AWS) and 17 (700b MHz) but not CDMA.

AWS-flavored LTE is exclusive to North America, where it was originally assigned for use as wireless cable. In both the US and Canada, it has been reassigned for mobile voice and data networks. While Canadian carriers used it for LTE deployments, T-Mobile acquired large portions of the U.S. rights to AWS and used it to build out its non-standard 3G UMTS service.

This is one significantly reason why AT&T wanted to acquire T-Mobile two years ago. After the U.S. government intervened, T-Mobile was left with its AWS 3G service incompatible with previous iPhones. It now plans to build out LTE service, although that won’t happen until next year, leaving it with the interim option of shifting its 2G GSM service to 3G/4G HSDPA in order to woo unlocked iPhone 4/4S/5 users (which it currently has in place in only a few markets).

A second, CDMA model A1429 will support Sprint and Verizon’s CDMA network in the U.S. and KDDI in Japan. In addition to the standard “EVDO rev A” 800 and 1900MHz support on previous CDMA iPhones, iPhone 5 now also supports the slightly faster and more efficient rev B on 2100MHz. Sprint and Verizon once considered upgrading to EVDO rev B before throwing their support behind 4G networks, but Japan’s KDDI does use rev B networks. CDMA carriers in India and Russia also support rev B.

More importantly, the CDMA iPhone 5 supports LTE Bands 1 (2100MHz), 3 (1800MHz), 5 (850MHz), 13 (700cMHz, used by Verizon) and 25 (1900MHz, used by Sprint). The first three bands overlap those used by Apple’s other carrier partners in Europe and Asia (but not AT&T/Canada), although the company also notes that “band support does not guarantee support on all LTE networks running on the same bands.”

Finally, a third model for the rest of the world supports GSM carriers that have added support for LTE on Bands 1 (2100MHz), 3 (1800MHz), 5 (850MHz).

This includes Deutsche Telekom in Germany, Everything Everywhere in the UK, Optus/Virgin and Telstra in Australia, Softbank in Japan, SK Telecom and KT in Korea, SmarTone in Hong Kong, and M1 and SingTel in Singapore.

There are several other global LTE carriers Apple could support, either with its existing models or new models, that the company hasn’t announced any deals with yet.

In Japan NTT DOCOMO uses Band 1, and a long list of other European carriers are deploying Band 3 LTE. T-Mobile, Cricket and Metro PCS use Band 4 (AWS) in the U.S., so these carriers could all apparently be supported by Apple’s existing models, given a carrier agreement.

Other carriers have deployed LTE Bands that none of Apple’s existing iPhone 5 versions support. A variety of carriers in Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland are all deploying Band 7 (2600 MHz), while others in Germany and Sweden are using Band 20 (800MHz), and a variety of Middle Eastern carriers have started building out Band 38 (2600MHz).

iPhone 5 is believed to use Qualcomm’s fifth generation MDM9615 baseband chip, which supports both FDD and TDD signaling technologies for LTE.

FDD or Frequency-Division Duplex signaling technology is used by CDMA and WCDMA/UMTS for most modern cellular systems, and is the technology most LTE providers will use, including the networks being built out by AT&T and Verizon in the U.S. Qualcomm owns most of the patents supporting CDMA and WCDMA technologies.

TDD or Time-Division Duplex is an alternative flavor of the LTE standard developed by China, and is being deployed in that country under the name TD-LTE. China developed its own TD-SCDMA and now TD-LTE to avoid paying Qualcomm’s patent royalties. By supporting both FDD and TDD technologies, Qualcomm’s chipset can enable a single device to work on a wide variety of 3G or 4G networks.

It’s not clear if Apple is supporting TDD-LTE (or China’s 3G TD-SCDMA) in its existing iPhone 5 versions. This would dictate whether a separate model would be needed to support LTE service in China and India. Apple’s partner Softbank initially built out TDD-LTE in Japan, but has since augmented its coverage with standard FDD-LTE.

However the MDM9615 does appear to be giving Apple support for new DC-HSPA+ and EV-DO Rev-B, making it likely that Apple’s existing iPhone 5 models will eventually make it to a wider selection of carriers. And even in areas with incompatible LTE networks, iPhone 5 will support very fast HSPA+ networks at similar speeds to today’s LTE deployments.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Guide: How to troubleshoot PowerNap weirdness under OS X 10.8

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 11:13
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News

There’s been a lot written about OS X 10.8′s new PowerNap feature, wherein your 2011-2012 MacBook Air and 2012 Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks can perform various background tasks (such as synchronization and updates) while in Sleep mode, but it’s hard to say what to do when things go wrong.

With that in mind, the mighty Topher Kessler has written a spiffy PowerNap troubleshooting guide over on CNET.

Go.

Take a gander.

Check it out.

And even though the guide goes through the somewhat frightening steps as to how to reset your notebook’s SMC should circumstances require it, it’s worth reading.

That is all and enjoy your Friday.

Apple posts $8.8 billion profit, $35 billion in sales for Q3 2012 returns

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Date: Wednesday, July 25th, 2012, 06:30
Category: Finance, News

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There’s a nice ring to the words “US$8.8 billion quarterly profit”…

Per Macworld, Apple announced its returns for the third quarter of 2012 yesterday, the company’s sales hitting US$35 billion, up 22 percent from US$28.6 billion last year while profits rose 20.5 percent to US$8.8 billion from US$7.3 billion. Earnings for the quarter were US$9.32 a share, up 20 percent from last year. Reported earnings topped Apple’s forecast, but fell short of Wall Street expectations of US$10.35 per share on projected revenue of US$37 billion.

Apple sold 17 million iPads during the quarter, the most the company has ever sold during a quarter. The company tallied June quarter records for both Mac and iPhone sales—the latter figure coming even as customers have held off on purchasing a new iPhone in anticipation of a new model coming out later this year.

Despite the sales records, the third quarter saw the slowest growth rate for profit since 2009. Still, Apple finds itself better positioned than most tech companies. Sales of Macs, for example, rose during the quarter while the rest of the PC market saw a 1 percent decline, according to figures from market-research firm IDC.

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer, told analysts during a conference call that the company was “pleased” with its quarterly results.

The number that probably pleased Apple the most came from its surging iPad business, where Apple saw sales of its tablet grow 84 percent from the year-ago quarter. This was the first full quarter of sales for Apple’s third-generation iPad, which debuted on March 16. Apple is currently selling iPads in 97 countries.

Recognized revenue from the iPad lineup hit US$9.2 billion for the quarter, up 53 percent from the US$6 billion in revenue Apple recorded last year. Apple says it sold twice as many iPad as Macs to its education customers—and Apple just happened to set a record for Mac sales to U.S. educational institutions for the quarter.

As for its Mac business, Apple sold 4 million computers, up slightly from the 3.9 million Macs it sold in the year-ago quarter. Even with slight 2 percent gain, Apple still sold more Macs in this three-month period than in any June quarter before.

Those sales were largely driven by the revamped MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models Apple released, even though those notebooks came out less than three weeks before the end of the June quarter. According to Cook, prior to the release of those models at June’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple’s Mac sales were off last year’s pace. Once the updated MacBooks hit the market, though, Apple’s weekly sell-through increased, allowing it to beat last year’s figure and outpace PC industry growth for a 25th straight quarter.

In particular, Cook noted that the MacBook Pro with Retina Display has been “incredibly well-received. We still have not caught up with demand, but we anticipate doing so next month.”

Mac sales are usually dominated by portables, and this quarter was no exception. Notebooks accounted for three-fourths of the Macs Apple sold.

In addition to the June record for overall Mac sales, Apple executives noted that the quarter was the best ever for Mac sales to U.S. education institutions.

Apple sold 26 million iPhones during the quarter, compared to 20.3 million last year—another June quarter record for the company. The 28 percent growth in iPhone sales was also ahead of the amount Apple factored into its quarter guidance, Oppenheimer noted.

While Apple hasn’t made any iPhone hardware changes since it rolled out the iPhone 4S last year, it has been expanding the reach of its smartphone. During the June quarter, for example, the company added a number of regional carriers in the U.S. More than 250 carriers now provide service for the iPhone in 100 countries.

Recognized revenue from the iPhone rose 23 percent from last year to US$16.2 billion.

Despite the record sales, this quarter’s iPhone figures represent something of a blip for Apple. Both unit sales and iPhone revenue were down sequential in the third quarter; in 2011, unit sales and revenue rose from the second quarter to the third quarter. That’s largely a sign that customers may be holding off on iPhone purchases in anticipation of a new smartphone from Apple.

Pressed by analysts about the impact iPhone rumors might have on Apple’s bottom line, Cook said that while the company goes to great lengths to keep its product road map under wraps, he doesn’t put any value in clamping down on speculation about product releases.

“That’s just the environment we’re in,” Cook said. “I’m glad that people want the next thing. I’m super happy about it.”

Apple may have less reason to happy with its iPod sales, which saw another dip. The company sold 6.8 million music players, down from 7.5 million iPods in the year-ago quarter. Average selling price for iPods was also down for the quarter. Still, Apple notes that the iPod continues to hold a 70 percent share of the music-player market.

Combining iPod touch numbers with iPhone and iPad figures, Apple says that cumulative iOS device sales have reached 410 million units.

Revenue from the iTunes Store topped US$1.8 billion for the quarter; Apple brought its online music, movie, TV, and app store to 12 more countries.

Cook said that Apple sold 1.3 million Apple TVs during the quarter, bringing total sales for the fiscal year to 4 million units. The set-top box is “still at a level that we would call it a hobby, but we’ll continue to pull the string to see where it takes us,” Cook added.

During Tuesday’s briefing, Apple also unveiled the details of the stock dividend plan it first announced in March. The company will pay out US$2.65 per share on August 16, 2012 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on August 13. Subsequent dividends will be announced at the same time as the company’s results, with future payouts subject to declaration by the board of directors. Apple will begin buying back stock starting in its 2013 fiscal year, which starts September 30, 2012.

Both the dividend and the stock buyback program are part of Apple’s efforts to dispense with the massive amounts of cash the company has on hand. Apple ended the June quarter with US$117.2 billion in cash and short- and long-term securities, up from US$110 billion the previous quarter.

In terms of future performance, Oppenheimer told analysts to expect revenue of US$34 billion during the company’s fiscal fourth quarter and earnings of US$7.65 a share. That compares to 2011 fourth-quarter revenues of US$28.27 billion and earnings per share of US$7.02.

Microsoft: No plans for Mac version of Office 2013

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 19th, 2012, 06:20
Category: News, Software

Sometimes it’s just natural to want to take the ball and run off with it.

Per Cult of Mac, when Microsoft recently announced an Office for Mac 2011 update was in the works it also confirmed that OS X users would not be able to take advantage of the newer Office 2013 as the software suite is reserved for Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines only.

Microsoft failed to mention whether a Mac version of Office 2013 was in the works when the productivity software reached Customer Preview phase on Monday, though during Wednesday’s Office for Mac 2011 update announcement the company stated that it had no such plans.

“We haven’t announced the next release of Office for Mac,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

According to the publication, Office 2013 will feature support for a new server-based version of Office which is said to be highly integrated with its SkyDrive cloud system. Microsoft released the Service Pack 2 update to Office for Mac 2011 in April to fix bugs affecting Outlook.

While Mac owners won’t be able to enjoy the newly-implemented cloud capabilites of Office 2013, the Office for Mac 2011 update will bring access to Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Office 365 where users are able to save documents off-site.

The Office for Mac 2011 update is expected to ship early next year alongside the Windows-only Office 2013.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.2.3

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2012, 06:56
Category: News, Software

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.3 update. The update, a 110 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- This update fixes an issue that causes Outlook not to display details for certain contacts when Lync or Communicator is running.

- This update fixes a problem that occurs when users reply to or forward Exchange email messages that were downloaded from Exchange 2007 servers. When this problem occurs, the Date field is missing from the body of the message.

- To correct email messages that have already been cached, right-click the folder that contains the email messages, select Folder Properties, and then then select Empty under Empty Cache. Or, you can delete the Exchange account and then add it again to resynchronize the account.

- This update fixes an issue where users may have duplication of mail when they use Gmail and connect with Outlook by using IMAP. This update fixes an issue where some users who have IMAP accounts intermittently receive a “Too many simultaneous connections” error. A setting is now available to control the polling interval that Outlook uses with IMAP servers.

- To adjust this setting, select Tools, select Accounts, and then select Advanced for the IMAP account. The setting defaults to synchronize all lMAP folders every two minutes.

- This update fixes a connectivity issue that occurs when Outlook connects through a proxy server that uses NTLM based authentication. Improvements to Word for Mac 2011
This update improves Full Screen View integration with Word.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.3 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.