Microsoft developing Office update for Lion, Office apps for iOS

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Date: Wednesday, November 30th, 2011, 05:19
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

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Give Microsoft time and it’ll eventually get its products to new platforms.

Per The Daily, Microsoft is preparing a new edition of its Office suite for Apple’s iPad, as well as an updated Office for Mac OS X Lion users.

According to the report, Microsoft is “actively working on adapting its popular software suite for Apple’s tablet,” in recognition of the fact that iPad now accounts for the vast majority of tablets sold, and now represents a market nearly as large as Mac OS X itself.

The report also notes Microsoft is working to complete Office 2012 for Windows, already in beta, for release next year. An updated edition for Lion would presumably be made available through the Mac App Store. The existing Office 2011 only supports Snow Leopard officially.

By adding support for Lion document features such as Auto Save and Versions, Microsoft could bring its Mac Office into parity with Apple’s iWork suite, which has been updated for Lion but hasn’t been significantly revised since the release of “iWork 09″ nearly three years ago.

On iOS, Apple has enjoyed an uncontested run at providing its iWork productivity software for the iPad, as well as the smaller screen of the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s Pages, Keynote and Numbers apps for iOS have remained at the top of the App Store’s highest grossing iPad apps.

While failing to predict the popularity of Apple’s iOS as a mobile platform, Microsoft has made some efforts to bring its apps and services to the App Store.

The company has delivered an iPad version of its Bing search app as well as MSN Onit and OnPoint apps, and has released a Tag barcode scanner, OneNote and Windows Live Messenger clients for iPhone.

Microsoft also just announced a deal to license its enterprise protocols involved with Remote Desktop Services, Windows Azure, Active Directory and SharePoint, to third party developer Agreeya Mobility, which plans to build apps for Apple’s iOS as well as Android and other mobile operating systems.

While Microsoft has largely ignored Apple’s iOS as it worked to improve Windows Mobile 6, then build Windows Phone 7 as a viable competitor, its own mobile platforms have failed to gain traction.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.

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).

Apple apparently exploring further updates to resolve MacBook Pro battery/Lion issues

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Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 15:11
Category: battery, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Sometimes the firmware update doesn’t fix everything…

Per AppleInsider, as some users continue to report battery life issues running Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on older MacBooks, Apple continues to look into the problem in hopes of finding a solution.

One user reported receiving a phone call from an Apple technician last week. The representative was said to be following up on both an AppleCare call and Genius Bar appointment involving the customer in July, just after Mac OS X Lion was released as an upgrade on the Mac App Store for US$29.99.

“My (MacBook Pro) battery life dropped precipitously after the install, and the Apple support team was clueless,” this person wrote. “It kind of ended there, until the phone call last week.”

The user was given the impression that Apple is still working on addressing the bug, as they were asked to send an e-mail back to the Apple technician sharing data from a number of tests. These tests included running commands in the terminal window of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

“I was told to expect a software update addressing the issue eventually,” they wrote.

Other users continue to detail their own problems with battery life after upgrading to Lion on Apple’s official Support Communities website. One thread has ballooned to more than 1,200 posts and 130,000 views, with more being added every day.

“After a full charge on my 17 inch (MacBook Pro), I booted up this morning and it took 5% of the battery to boot up,” user “DucatiMonster” wrote on Apple’s forums on Monday. “It said 2:52 minutes left, and now 20 minutes later it says 1:33 left. I will be lucky to get a full hour out of this battery that got 8 hours a couple days ago.”

The person later posted that their MacBook Pro, after upgrading to Lion, managed 2 hours and 24 minutes of uptime, most of it with the screen off. Another user, “Nickofari,” said they went through two calls to AppleCare and two Genius Bar visits to troubleshoot the problem, but no solutions have been provided.

“At the last Genius Bar appointment, they said I need to check-in my computer so they could diagnose the problem more deeply,” they wrote. “It’s a reasonable approach, but not for me. If I had an extra machine, I would do this, but as my (MacBook Pro) is my primary work computer and I can’t live without it. Even with AppleCare, Apple suggested that I buy into the US$499 Business Joint Venture Program so they might provide a loaner. Disappointing to be sure.”

If you’ve seen these concerns on your end, please let us know.

Logitech releases Control Center 3.5.1 update

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Date: Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 07:34
Category: News, Software

Late Friday, Logitech released version 3.5.1 of its Control Center software. The update, an 18.9 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes for the driver software:

- Provides support for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and offers a new Mission Control action.

- Fixes issues with the Solar Wireless Keyboard K750 for Mac – Fn Key Inversion feature, and support for the EU layout.

Logitech Control Center 3.5.1 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases Thunderbolt Software Update 1.1 firmware upgrade

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Date: Thursday, October 27th, 2011, 04:39
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Apple released its Thunderbolt Software Update 1.1 firmware upgrade for its Thunderbolt-equipped Macs running Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”). The update, a 72.53 megabyte download, provides support for the Apple Thunderbolt Display and bug fixes for Thunderbolt device compatibility.

In addition to the direct download, Thunderbolt Software Update 1.1 is available through Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature. The update requires a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.2 or later to install and run.

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

F-Secure identifies new Mac trojan masquerading as Flash Player update

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Date: Thursday, October 20th, 2011, 02:28
Category: News, security, Software

Sometimes you get the feeling that that the security war never really ends.

Per Macworld, F-Secure has reported on a new, scarier-than-usual Mac Trojan horse masquerading as a Flash installer. The downside is that if you do fall victim to the Trojan, it disables your Mac’s automatic malware definition updates.

F-Secure, which has a report on the issue, has dubbed the new pest Trojan-Downloader:OSX/Flashback.C; Macworld reported on a previous version of the malware back in September. A Trojan horse works by fooling you into running it; in this case, Flashback disguises itself as an installer package for Flash Player.

The earlier incarnation of the Flashback Trojan horse sent information about your Mac back to a remote server, which was bad enough, but this new version disables the security definition updating mechanism Apple first introduced in Snow Leopard back in May; the same malware protection is included in Lion, too. If you install the rogue software, it prompts you for your administrator password. Enter that, and Flashback.C wipes out files necessary for the malware definition updating process to run properly.

By disabling the malware definitions update, Flashback.C attempts to ensure that your Mac won’t know about any update Apple releases to remove the malicious software. Notably, the Trojan horse bails and deletes itself if you have the Little Snitch app installed.

F-Secure offers removal instructions if you fear you’ve been infected; the fix involves deleting entries from your browsers’ .plist files. Check out F-Secure’s page if you’re concerned, but you only need to worry if you recently installed Flash Player from a download that you didn’t get from Adobe’s website.

If you’ve seen this trojan on your end or have any feedback on it, please let us know in the comments section.

Apple posts $28.27 billion revenue, $6.62 billion profit for Q4 2011, still disappoints some analysts

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Date: Wednesday, October 19th, 2011, 04:00
Category: Finance, News

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You can offer evidence of something pretty amazing, but you’ll never win the entirety of your audience over all the time.

In this vein, Apple released the financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter yesterday, reporting record sales of the Mac and iPad product lines as well as the company’s highest September quarter revenue and earnings ever, the news still failing to meet some analysts’ expectations.

Per Mac|Life, Apple announced its quarterly financial results for the fiscal 2011 fourth quarter which ended on September 24. Even without a new iPhone over the summer, the company still racked up quarterly revenue of US$28.27 billion and quarterly net profit of US$6.62 billion, or US$7.05 per diluted share. Last year at the same time, Apple had revenue of US$20.34 billion and net quarterly profit of US$4.31 billion, or US$4.64 per diluted share. The company’s gross margin was 40.3 percent compared to 36.9 percent in the same quarter a year ago, with international sales accounting for 63 percent of the quarterly revenue.

Even with this at hand, analysts on Wall Street looked at the report glumly, with Apple missing their own expectations of US$7.22 per share and revenue of US$29.5 billion. Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple hasn’t missed earnings forecasts since the second quarter of 2002, but others are saying sometime in 2004 instead. Whatever the case, the stock fell eight percent after hours but rebounded just a bit to close at US$398 per share.

While Apple has already sold more than four million iPhone 4S devices in the first weekend which won’t be accounted for until next quarter, the company still managed to move 17.07 million of the older handsets in the current quarter, a 21 percent year-over-year growth and certainly nothing to sneeze at. 11.2 million iPads flew out the door, marking a 166 percent increase from the same quarter last year, with 4.89 million Macs also finding homes in the quarter, a 26 percent unit increase.

“We are thrilled with the very strong finish of an outstanding fiscal 2011, growing annual revenue to US$108 billion and growing earnings to US$26 billion,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Customer response to iPhone 4S has been fantastic, we have strong momentum going into the holiday season, and we remain really enthusiastic about our product pipeline.”

One product category that took a hit was the iPod, which sold only 6.62 million units during the quarter, marking a 27 percent decline from the same quarter last year — but certainly not bad for a lineup that’s now a decade old, and the iPod continues to hold more than 70 percent market share.

“We are extremely pleased with our record September quarter revenue and earnings and with cash generation of US$5.4 billion during the quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2012, which will span 14 weeks rather than 13, we expect revenue of about US$37 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about US$9.30.”

As usual, Apple held a conference call to provide further highlights and field questions from analysts and investors, with CEO Tim Cook noting that it marks the first since the passing of co-founder Steve Jobs. “The world has lost a visionary and an amazing human being,” Cook stated. “He was an amazing leader and mentor. His spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple, and we are dedicated to continuing the amazing work that he loved so much.”

Cook then got down to business by turning things over to CFO Peter Oppenheimer, who repeated most of the details from Apple’s earlier press release before throwing out some additional numbers. These included iTunes Store revenue of US$1.5 billion, 180 million iBooks sold, US$11 billion in revenue from iPhone handsets and accessories, and six million downloads of OS X Lion in the quarter.

Asia-Pacific growth doubled year over year, which the company was expecting to fall when it became clear in June that no new iPhone was on the horizon. The handset is now available on 230 carriers in 105 countries, with Consumer Reports listing the device with its highest customer satisfaction rating for the sixth consecutive time. 93 percent of Fortune 500 companies are now either deploying or testing the iPhone, up from 91 percent last year.

The App Store is also flying high, with 22 more countries enlisted during the quarter for a total of 123. Retail stores are also enjoying “very strong” year-over-year growth, particularly for Mac and iPad sales, which enjoyed their best quarter ever — which no doubt helped lessen the blow from the iPhone 4S being unveiled in fiscal Q1 2012 instead.

Last but not least, during the closing question and answer session, Cook proclaimed confidence that Apple would have record sales for the next quarter, which includes the all-important holiday season. That quarter will also bring the iPhone 4S to another 22 countries at month’s end, with even more coming by year’s end.

MobileMe users vent frustrations about iCloud transition issues

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Date: Monday, October 17th, 2011, 11:02
Category: iCloud, News, Software

If you’re going to give birth to something (overarching cloud services included), you’re going to have some labor pains…

Per AppleInsider, a number of users have vented their frustrations as they have attempted to migrate from MobileMe to iCloud. One person explained in an e-mail that they have called AppleCare, used online support, and even asked for help at a local retail store.

“I bought a MobileMe subscription when they came out,” the user wrote in their e-mail. “Until Wednesday I didn’t (realize) this created a new (Apple ID). I asked (iTunes) support to add this MobileMe address to my current (iTunes Apple ID) as this was to become my primary email address.

“On Wednesday when iCloud came out it became apparent that this MobileMe email address could not be verified on the MobileMe account as it was in use by my old (iTunes Apple ID). So (I) went to appleid.apple.com to try to change the Primary email address to something different in my iTunes AppleID but it wouldn’t let me.” Calls made to AppleCare couldn’t resolve the problem, they said.

It’s a similar story for another user, who has one Apple ID used to purchase applications and music, which is separate from the e-mail address used for their MobileMe account. The person is in a position where they must choose between the e-mail address associated with their MobileMe account, or the Apple ID that they have used to purchase applications and music.

Another person said that upon setting up their iOS device, they were asked to create a me.com e-mail address, but they were unable to do this on an iOS device or a MacBook Air.

The users stated that after speaking with a senior technical support representative at Apple, they were told that Apple is “not allowing new me.com e-mail addresses,” but only allowing MobileMe accounts to be converted to iCloud. The representative allegedly indicated that Apple has been receiving many calls about the issue, but they do not know when a fix will be available.

A similar list of headaches for MobileMe users making the move to iCloud was also detailed Monday by Chris Foresman of Ars Technica. He noted that the issues can also apply to users who have shared an Apple ID with family members, allowing purchases like software from the App Store to be installed on multiple devices — a practice allowed with Apple’s terms of service.

“Unless all devices are going to be synced to the same data store — with everyone sharing contacts, calendars, and other information — other users who were previously dependent on that account may have to re-purchase apps or music,” he said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook allegedly indicated in an e-mail in September that Apple is working to allow users to merge multiple Apple IDs. But that ability has not yet arrived.

Apple launched its free iCloud service last Wednesday, along with the release of iOS 5 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and an update for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion adding iCloud support. iCloud will back up users’ personal data on their iOS device to Apple’s remote servers in the cloud, and also keeps data, documents, calendars and contacts synced across a number of devices with the use of an Apple ID.

If you’ve had any issues in your own MobileMe to iCloud transition, please let us know in the comments.

Apple sells over four million iPhone 4S units in first weekend of availability

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Date: Monday, October 17th, 2011, 06:48
Category: iPhone, News

If you were alive on Friday, you probably made an effort to snag a brand new iPhone 4S.

So did several million other people.

Per AppleInsider, Apple sold a total of 4 million units in its first three days of availability.

“iPhone 4S is off to a great start with more than four million sold in its first weekend—the most ever for a phone and more than double the iPhone 4 launch during its first three days,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “iPhone 4S is a hit with customers around the world, and together with iOS 5 and iCloud, is the best iPhone ever.”

Sales of four million iPhone 4S units in three days more than double’s the company’s previous record of 1.7 million iPhone 4 units sold in the summer of 2010.

Apple also revealed that more than 25 million customers are already using iOS 5, the latest mobile operating system upgrade for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Those 25 million customers have made the upgrade in just five days of availability.

More than 20 million customers have also signed up for iCloud, the set of free cloud-based services offered by Apple for iOS and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion users. iCloud will remotely store users’ data and push it to all of their devices, automatically.

The iPhone 4S is currently available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K. Apple will launch its new iPhone in 22 more countries on Oct. 28, and it will be available in more than 70 countries by the end of the year.

A week ago, Apple announced that it had sold a million preorders of the iPhone 4S on its first day of availability. That provided the first hint that the iPhone 4S was on pace to have a record-breaking start when it went on sale.

The sale of four million iPhone 4S units at launch exceeds Wall Street expectations, which had called for Apple to sell around three million units over the weekend. Analysts have also called for Apple to sell around 25 million total iPhones this holiday quarter, which concludes in December.

If you snagged an iPhone 4S over the past few days and have any thoughts about it, please let us know what you make of Apple’s newest handset via the comments.