SkyDrive OS X client pics, specs leaked, iCloud may have worthwhile competitor

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Date: Tuesday, February 21st, 2012, 07:10
Category: Rumor, Software

If you’re not totally enthralled with iCloud at all times, Microsoft is working to ensure that there are options.

Per Germind, Microsoft is readying a significant update to SkyDrive in Windows 8, and reportedly leaked screenshots of the revamped file syncing and cloud storage service show that a Mac OS X client could be poised to compete with Apple’s iCloud.

Also of note are paid storage options that can be purchased in 20GB, 50GB or 100GB flavors for approximately US$10, US$25 or US$50 per year, respectively.

The extra space will supplement the already copious 25GB in free storage offered by SkyDrive. In comparison, iCloud only offers 5GB of free cloud storage, however Apple’s system does not count Photo Stream, iTunes’ media, apps and iBooks against the limit.

According to Microsoft’s blog, the Metro-style cloud-based Windows 8 app will share characteristics with Dropbox in that users can sync and backup certain files automatically, though SkyDrive goes further and allows limited remote access to files not synced to the cloud. Maximum file size for remote file fetching is pegged at 2GB.

Additional shots have also leaked through liveside.net that showed SkyDrive would support file sharing through social networks like Twitter and Facebook, BitLocker recovery keys, OpenDocument files from Office Web Apps and URL shortening.

iCloud’s current file-syncing implementation is aimed mainly at iOS users who can backup device profiles and data to the cloud. Apple’s free service does support certain automatic syncing to OS X programs such as Photo Stream and a clunky Pages document syncing procedure, but the process is not as smooth as other third-party solutions.

This situation could change when OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is released this summer as many iOS features like Notification Center and iMessage will be ported to the desktop operating system, though no official word has been given regarding iCloud upgrades.

Apple has invested heavily in iCloud, and the service which was introduced alongside iOS 5 could be getting more features, as previous reports that the company offered to buy Dropbox in a failed nine figure deal point to a definite interest in automatic file storage and syncing.

The SkyDrive update is set to launch later this year with support for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 already announced.

It remains to be seen which Windows 8 SkyDrive features will be implemented in the rumored Mac client, if any, and to what extent the service will affect iCloud.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to ship iPad 3 in March, iPad 4 in October

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Date: Friday, January 6th, 2012, 07:20
Category: iPad, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make technology interesting.

Per DigiTimes, component makers in Taiwan have stated that the so-called “iPad 3″ will launch in March with a high-resolution Retina Display, like is found on the iPhone and iPod touch. That will be followed by an “iPad 4″ with “killer applications” set to launch in October.

The report claimed that Apple is planning to launch the fourth iPad quickly in October to counter a rumored Google-branded tablet as well as touchscreen devices running Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. The Taiwanese industry publication said the fourth iPad will feature “much upgraded hardware specifications and integrated applications so as to compete with an array of Android-, Wintel- or WoA (Windows on ARM)-based tablet PCs to be released in the fourth quarter.”

As for the third-generation iPad, the report said it will feature a QXGA display with a resolution of 1,536-by-2,048 pixels. It will also sport longer battery life, but reportedly “may not be so amazing as expected.”

Finally, the publication also reiterated belief that Apple will continue to sell the current iPad 2, but will drop its price to US$399, much like Apple currently does with older iPhone models. Such a move is believed to be in an effort to counter lower priced tablets that are available, such as the Kindle Fire for US$199.

Of course, Friday’s report should be taken with a heavy dose of skepticism, as similar rumors surfaced numerous occasions last year that Apple planned to launch a third-generation iPad in 2011. That, of course, never came to be, and Apple stayed true to its promise of 2011 being the “Year of iPad 2.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Nintendo to create Wii U app store, work to draw business from iOS App Store

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Date: Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012, 10:05
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

You know all those nifty profits Apple seems to be making from the App Store? Nintendo might want some of it for itself.

Quickly coming on the heels of talk of a full Wii U app store is a rumor late Monday of Nintendo actively courting iOS developers. The gaming giant was said by a developer talking to Forget the Box to be offering “assistance” porting apps for Apple’s platform to the Wii U. The titles would by necessity played on the controller’s 6.2-inch touchscreen.

Per Forget the Box, Nintendo may also be dipping into e-reading on its mobile devices for the first time, the source said. It would make e-reading catalog with books, comics, magazines, and other periodicals. The aim would be to let owners read even when the TV is occupied, since the ultra-wideband wireless controller would let users treat the Wii U controller as a tablet while within range.

To stand out, Nintendo would bring some of its own content into the fray. Every issue of Nintendo Power ever released would be available, as well as its Players Guides and manuals for Virtual Console games. Titles would be available on both the Wii U and the 3DS, presumably taking advantage of the 3DS’ second screen for extra reading space.

All of this remains a rumor, but combined with talk of an app store point to Nintendo hoping to get away from its reputation solely as a child-oriented game system developer. Both Microsoft and Sony have made their systems media hubs with access to several or more music and video services and, in Microsoft’s case, an revenue losses to Apple from those using their iPads and iPods both for gaming and for apps.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Argentina enacts ban on iPhone, BlackBerry imports as part of effort to boost local production

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Date: Thursday, December 29th, 2011, 07:10
Category: iPhone, News

If you were planning on hitting up Argentina any time soon, snagging an iPhone there just got that much harder.

In an attempt to rectify issues with Argentina’s economy, the South American country placed a temporary ban on imports of foreign-made electronics. Two of the most well-known of those electronics are the iPhone and BlackBerry devices. Apple and RIM collectively account for 60 percent of Argentina’s smartphone market, so the ban is going to have a substantial impact on its mobile industry.

According to Electronista, Neither of the operating systems nor the hardware manufacturers were affected because they — Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Microsoft, etc. — have manufacturing facilities within Argentina. Android and Windows Phone will very quickly see a boost in sales, while iPhone and BlackBerry sales will drop to zero, unless of course Apple and RIM open up local plants or partner with other manufacturers.

In all actuality, the iPhone and BlackBerry markets have been struggling in Argentina for a while. A law was already in place that added a 20.48 percent tax on electronic imports on top of the standard 21 percent sales tax.

The government of Argentina says they will lift the ban on iPhones and BlackBerrys when the economy shows significant signs of stabilization, but there’s no telling just when that will happen.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft adds XMPP support for Messenger, allows connectivity with iChat, other IM clients

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Date: Thursday, December 15th, 2011, 07:48
Category: News, Software

As tempting as it might be to be snarky towards Microsoft, perhaps they’re opening things up a bit more to the Mac side of things.

Per AppleInsider, Microsoft has opened up public access to its Messenger IM network via XMPP, enabling Apple and others to build open clients capable of interacting with Microsoft users.

Recently, the company has announced “public availability of access to the Messenger network via XMPP,” a step that finally brings Microsoft into the fold using eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol.

Unlike email, which has long used Internet standards to exchange messages between servers, IM providers each created their own proprietary protocols for sending IM, making it difficult or impossible for users on AIM, Yahoo, MSN and other IM services to connect with each other.

Apple initially partnered with AIM to launch iChat in 2002, but by 2004 had introduced a new iChat 3 version that supported XMPP, allowing users to seamlessly connect with Google Talk. In this summer’s release of Mac OS X Lion, Apple also added support for Yahoo IM, enabling the chat client to connect to three different chat networks (AIM, Yahoo and open Jabber/XMPP servers like Google Talk, Facebook chat and Apple’s own iChat Server).

Conspicuously absent was any support for Microsoft’s MSM/Windows Live IM network, which is extremely popular in some areas, particularly in Europe. Microsoft’s move to support the open XMPP may explain why Apple didn’t build in support for Microsoft’s previous, proprietary Messenger network. Apple has separately worked with Microsoft to support its Exchange Server protocols, so it was likely privy to Microsoft’s Messenger plans.

Apple and XMPP :
Apple has invested significantly in the open XMPP, not only using it to support Bonjour local chat in iChat, but also adding support in Mac OS X Server to allow companies to set up their own XMPP IM services, just as easily as setting up local email services.

Additionally, Apple has used XMPP to power push notifications in iOS and Mac OS X, enabling an energy efficient mechanism for supporting third party app notifications and support for FaceTime and iMessage.

Now that Microsoft Messenger enables open XMPP access, iChat users should be able to add Messenger accounts and directly interact with Messenger users without needing to configure a gateway, use a multi-protocol chat client, or use Microsoft’s own chat application.

iOS Messages app flirts with IM functionality :
Apple appears to be headed toward adding direct IM support to iOS devices through its Messages app. The company has already released direct iPhone to iPad to iPod touch support for iMessage, which automatically connects via XMPP when it detects a connection with an iOS client (using a direct XMPP message rather than SMS, a telephony protocol that requires a mobile connection).

With Microsoft adding 300 million Messenger users to the open XMPP world, Apple appears capable of supporting direct chat functionality with Messenger, Facebook and Google Talk users to its iOS Messages app, as seamlessly as it has added iMessages support alongside SMS/MMS.

Last month, a developer reported that Apple’s iOS 5.0 includes IMService code that makes mention of AIM and Jabber (XMPP) alongside iMessage and FaceTime, indicating that it plans to incorporate external IM features on a system wide level.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft Office 2008 updated to 12.3.2

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Date: Thursday, December 15th, 2011, 07:10
Category: News, Software

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Microsoft has posted an update to version 12.3.1 for Office 2008 for Mac. The update, a 285 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- This update improves security. This update includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.2 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.

Microsoft releases SkyDrive app for iPhone, offers free cloud storage in process

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Date: Wednesday, December 14th, 2011, 06:43
Category: iPhone, News, Software

It’s surprising but it could be useful.

Per the cool cats at The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Microsoft has just released an iPhone app for access to the free Microsoft SkyDrive cloud storage service. SkyDrive for iPhone should make Windows users who have documents stored in the cloud happy.



Users can upload videos or photos created on the iPhone to SkyDrive using the app, which takes up about 4.4 MB on the device. SkyDrive users can access all of their content, including files that someone has shared with them. Likewise, any file can be shared by sending a link via email.

The app also provides a way to create and delete folders from the iPhone. Users of Hotmail, Microsoft Messenger, and Xbox LIVE already have SkyDrive accounts and anyone else who’d like to give it a try can sign up for a new account at SkyDrive.com.

The SkyDrive app is available for free and requires iOS 4.0 or later to install and run.

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

Microsoft Office 2011 updated to 14.1.4

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Date: Tuesday, December 13th, 2011, 13:03
Category: News, Software

It’s still not the sexiest update in the world, but it might help a bit.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.1.4 update. The update, a 112 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 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later 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 Ivy Bridge details leaked, interesting new specs and support on horizon

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Date: Tuesday, December 6th, 2011, 05:05
Category: News, Processors, Rumor

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If you like Intel’s current Sandy Bridge architecture, then the leaked details of the company’s Ivy Bridge architecture should give you a warm, snuggly feeling inside.

Per X-Bit Labs and Macworld UK, according to information reported by X-bit Labs, a lineup of Core i5 and Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors will be available in Q2 2012. The processors will all be quad core, except one economy Core i5 processor. The rest of the Core i5s reportedly have a 6MB cache and speeds ranging from 2.7GHz to 3.4GHz. The Core i7 lineup has 8MB cache, and clock speeds from 2.5GHz to 3.5GHz.

The Ivy Bridge processors will support PCIe 3.0 x16, and come with native support for Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. It will be up to hardware manufacturers to determine which of those slot and port technologies individual systems will include, though.

The most notable difference between the “Ivy Bridge” and “Sandy Bridge” processors is that Intel is building the next generation CPUs using 22nm architecture–a nearly 30 percent drop in size from the existing 32nm chips. Good things come in small packages, though, so there are some benefits that come with the smaller processors.

First, Ivy Bridge CPUs will consume less power. That translates to lower energy costs, and lower heat output, which snowballs the lower energy costs because less power is then required to cool the system as well.

Second, the smaller central processor makes more room for the integrated graphics chip, allowing Intel to boost the graphics processing capabilities. The Ivy Bridge graphics capabilities are estimated to be up to 60 percent faster, and will support Microsoft DirectX 11.

The bad news is that Ivy Bridge is an incremental bump from the Sandy Bridge processors available today and might not offer a blazing improvement over the current Sandy Bridge architecture.

The good news is that the Ivy Bridge processors will work with existing Sandy Bridge motherboards. So, if you do get a new system now with a Sandy Bridge CPU, you will have an upgrade path available, and won’t be painting yourself into a corner.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Microsoft may ship Windows 8 public beta in late February

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Date: Friday, December 2nd, 2011, 05:27
Category: Rumor, Software

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Windows 8: It’s on its way, though it might take a little while to get here.

Per TNW, Microsoft’s Windows 8 public beta might have been moved further into the year. A rumor from “sources close to Microsoft” has the release tentatively slated for late February, more than a month after the CES expo intro hinted earlier. It’s not known if this was a delay or always part of the schedule.

The developer preview version released in September was in a rough state, missing e-mail and otherwise being in a state only really suitable for third-party app testing. A beta is defined as feature-complete, however, and it’s likely that any delays might be to polish the release for regular users.

A public beta so late would rule out an April release to manufacturing. Microsoft always produces at least one release candidate build and rarely turns so quickly. Talk of a June or later completion date and a second-half 2012 release are more likely.

If true, the timing could create problems for Windows 8 and Microsoft’s attempts to reclaim the tablet space. The first truly touch-native Windows tablets may not be on the market until 2.5 years after the iPad, and possibly months after the iPad 3 appears.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.