Microsoft announces Windows 8 release date for this fall, shows off NFC features

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Date: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012, 11:06
Category: News, Software

It may not be your favorite operating system, but it’s good to have on hand.

Microsoft announced today that its Windows 8 operating system will launch this fall alongside Windows 8 for PCs and the new Surface tablet, featuring e-wallet support with NFC chips, as well as support for high-definition screens.

Windows Phone 8 was unveiled at Microsoft’s Windows Phone Developer Summit, where the company announced that the platform will support multi-core CPUs and high-definition screen resolutions. The new Windows Phone 8 will also borrow much of its code base from Windows 8, which will allow developers to create applications that can be run on phones, tablets and desktops all running Microsoft’s operating systems.

Windows Phone 8 also features Internet Explorer 10, which Microsoft said has four-times faster JavaScript performance than its predecessor, Windows Phone 7.5, and also twice the feature support for HTML5. Microsoft says that Internet Explorer 10 for Windows Phone 8 gets a better SunSpider score when testing Web browsing than the iPhone 4S running Apple’s first beta of iOS 6.

The operating system will also support near-field communications chips with a native wallet application that will store credit and debit cards, as well as loyalty and membership cards. Microsoft Vice President Joe Belfiore also demonstrated onstage on Wednesday how the new NFC functionality in Windows Phone 8 will allow handsets to scan NFC-enabled advertisements or business cards.

Microsoft is also focusing on enterprise users with Windows Phone 8, offering encryption, secure boot, and IT device management. And turn-by-turn navigation will also be built in to the operating system with Nokia map technology.

Starting with Windows Phone 8, developers will also be able to offer in-application purchases. That means upgrades and other content can be purchase with an integrated tool part of the operating system.

Microsoft is also enhancing its speech support with the latest version of Windows Phone. But in one onstage demonstration, the Audible application was asked to play “Game of Thrones,” but the phone mistakenly tried to search for “St. Louis, Missouri.” After the technical hiccup, Microsoft showed how speech recognition could be used by third-party developers for functions like searching, and playback and pausing of content.

Devices currently running Windows Phone 7.5 will not be able to upgrade to the new Windows Phone 8. Instead, Microsoft announced on Wednesday that some of the new features, such as an updated Start screen, will be brought to legacy devices with the Windows Phone 7.8 update.

The unveiling of Windows Phone 8 comes only a few days after Microsoft held a heavily hyped, high-profile event in Hollywood to unveil Surface, its new touchscreen tablet that will compete with Apple’s iPad when it hits the market this fall. Surface will be built by Microsoft itself, and will come in two forms: an ARM-based model running the Windows RT operating system, and a “pro” model featuring an Intel processor and running the full Windows 8 operating system.

A final release date and pricing have yet to be announced for the new operating system.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft targets iPad, unveils Surface tablet

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, 07:56
Category: Hardware, News

A little competition never hurt anyone.

Per Engadget, Microsoft debuted its Surface Windows 8 tablet on Monday at a last-minute special event in Los Angeles, marking the tech monolith’s entrance into the iPad-dominated tablet market.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, showed off the tablet computer based on the company’s new Windows 8 operating system he called “the new Surface,” according to the report.

After giving a brief history of Microsoft-branded hardware like the venerable mouse and keyboard, Ballmer introduced the new device, likening it to the Xbox 360 in that it has a strong synthesis of software and hardware that push each other to new limits.

Microsoft’s President of the Windows and Windows Live Division Steven Sinofsky proceeded to show off the 10.6-inch multi-touch tablet, which features a magnesium enclosure called “VaporMg” with built-in stand, dual MIMO arrays, an optically-bonded proprietary display with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2 and a variety of input ports. The unit is also coated with vapor-deposited magnesium (PVD) to avoid scratching.

Surface will be sold in two distinct incarnations with one touting an Ivy Bridge i5 processor while the other will feature a low-energy NVIDIA-made ARM cortex CPU. The Intel model, called Surface for Windows 8 Pro, will weigh in at 1.9lbs at 13.5mm thick and feature a 10.6-inch 1920-by-1080 pixel ClearType full HD display. Input and output for the higher-tier Surface is handled by USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort and an microSDXC card reader.

The thinner ARM cortex version will be released under the Surface for Windows RT moniker and will come in at a trim 1.5lbs and 9.8mm thick but bumps specs down to a 1280-by-720 pixel screen. Handling the heat put out by the Intel chip is what Microsoft calls “perimeter venting” or a series of integrated vents encircling the edge of the bezel, which itself is beveled. While the Windows RT model doesn’t carry the high-powered connectivity as its bigger brother, it still manages a microSD slot, USB 2.0 and Micro HD Video.



Accessories for both units include the “Touch Cover” which is a full multi-touch keyboard complete with arrow buttons that changes the color of Surface’s screen to the color of the cover when attached. Much like Apple’s Smart Cover, the Touch Cover also turns the device on and off presumably through use of magnets. The Surface “Type Cover” accessory brings physical switch-type keys and a clickable trackpad, though the part adds 5mm of girth to the tablet.

The Surface supports palm-blocking Digital Ink technology and can mark up PDFs and other supported documents with a digitizer, though the feature seems to be limited to the Intel model.

It is unclear what company is manufacturing the tablet for Microsoft, though the product itself looks to be a branded device with prominent Windows logos adorning the screen bezel and the back kick-stand.

The debut of the ARM-based Windows RT version of Surface is set to coincide with the launch of Windows 8 and will be available in 32GB and 64GB flavors. Pricing will be in-line with competing ARM tablets. The Intel Ivy Bridge i5-based Windows Pro Surface is slated to follow about three months later and will be sold in 64GB and 128GB capacities with prices comparable to Ultrabook PCs.

Full video of the event can be found here and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Microsoft Office for iPad to arrive on November 10th

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 31st, 2012, 10:58
Category: Rumor, Software

microsoftlogo.jpg

It’s a rumor…but it’s a more specific rumor.

And that can’t be a bad thing.

Per The Daily, the development team at Microsoft finished work on the project last month. The design team responsible for Office on iPad was also said to have wrapped their work soon after.

“The app is now in the hands of a usability team that appraises software that utilizes the Metro design language for ‘Metro compliance’ and suggests changes as needed,” reporter Matt Hickey wrote. “When approved by the team, the app likely will go to Apple for app store approval, which could take a couple of weeks.”

While development of the application is apparently near finished, Thursday’s report did not give any indication as to why Microsoft will wait more than five months to release the application on Nov. 10. The story corroborates with a report from last week that claimed Microsoft’s industry leading productivity suite will be coming to the iPad and Android-based tablets in November.

Word first surfaced late last year that Microsoft was working on an iOS version of its Office suite. It was also said that the Redmond, Wash., software company planned to release an updated version of Office for Mac on Apple’s digital distribution Mac App Store.

The Daily first shared what was said to be a picture of Office for iPad in action in February. However, Microsoft quickly responded to the report and portrayed it as “based on inaccurate rumors and speculation.”

Exact components and features within Office for iPad are still in flux/the rumor mill, but stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

“We Want a New Mac Pro” group page gaining traction/support

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Date: Friday, May 25th, 2012, 05:00
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, News

Apple’s Mac Pro line really hasn’t been updated in a while.

Which is growing disconcerting to some users.

Per AppleInsider, a group of users has begun a “We Want a New Macpro” group page on the social networking site had garnered over 4,000 likes as of late Thursday and a number of comments from group members calling for either a Mac Pro update or concrete information from Apple about its plans for the high-end machine.

According to the page, the petition was started by Lou Borella, a self-described “professional editor and graphic animator” in the New York City area, earlier in May.

On May 9, Borella posted an open letter to Apple asking for “a little clarity” about the Mac Pro.

“Its been neglected for far too long. We realize all the success of the iPad and iPhone and we’re really happy with our new toys,” he wrote. “But unfortunately many of us need to make decisions on hardware for professional uses that allow us to make a living.”

The letter went on to say that professional software applications, such as Adobe Creative Suite 6, AVID, Pro Tools and Smoke, require “the most powerful hardware available.” In addition, creative professionals need configurable systems for their business.

“The iMac is not the answer for these situations,” he said.

Borella is seeking for a “timeframe” for a new Mac Pro update or official confirmation as to whether the line is “dead.”

“It’s not too much to ask. We cannot wait any longer and it’s really not fair to string us along like this,” Borella concluded, also signing the letter on behalf of the “Creative Community.”

According to an informal poll posted to the page last week, 267 people are willing to wait until “shortly after” the Worldwide Developers Conference in mid-June, while 47 people said they would wait until the end of this year. 143 respondents said they would wait until the Mac Pro was “officially discontinued” before taking the next step.

A second poll found that 197 people are willing to wait because their “current computer still works fine.” 131 others said they would build a “Hackintosh,” a custom-built computer running an unauthorized copy of OS X. Finally, 47 people said they would switch back to Microsoft Windows.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on both the petition and its plans for the Mac Pro.

Apple’s neglect of the Mac Pro was especially felt last year as all of the other Mac models received upgrades adding Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge processors. Some have even suggested that Thunderbolt is Apple’s alternative to high-end workstations.

The Mac Pro’s important to Apple’s bottom line has diminished as the company’s profits have increasingly skewed toward mobile devices and the iPhone has come to account for the bulk of its revenue. Apple sold 1.2 million desktops in the second quarter of fiscal 2012, compared to 2.82 million notebooks during the period. Mac revenue for the quarter amounted to US$5.1 billion, much less than the US$22.7 billion in revenue from the iPhone and related products.

Though Apple has in the past been known as a niche hardware and software maker catering to creative professionals, the company has shown a willingness to adapt to better serve its mainstream customers. For instance, it announced plans to discontinue its Xserve server in 2010. Though the company redirected customers to its Mac Pro as a Mac-based server alternative, it has curiously not updated the Mac Pro since July 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPad version of Microsoft Office to hit this November

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 24th, 2012, 07:23
Category: iPad, Rumor, Software

microsoftlogo.jpg

Some pretty decent stuff comes out in November (including Thanksgiving), so perhaps a long-awaited version of Microsoft Office for iOS is in order.

Per Boy Genius Report, a “reliable source” stated on Wednesday that Microsoft is planning to release the full Office suite for iPad later this year. The loading screen for the application reportedly says “Office for iOS,” which could suggest that it will also be compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch.

A version of Office for Android tablets will also reportedly debut in November alongside an iOS version. Other details on the software, such as pricing or features, remain unknown.

Word first surfaced last November that Microsoft was working on an iOS version of its Office suite. It was also said that the Redmond, Wash., software company planned to release an updated version of Office for Mac on Apple’s digital distribution Mac App Store.

Rumors of Office for iPad appeared again this February, when iPad news publication The Daily shared what was said to be a version of Office for iPad in action. However, Microsoft quickly responded to the report and accompanying picture, portraying them as “based on inaccurate rumors and speculation.”

February’s report suggested that a version of Office for iPad would “soon” be submitted to Apple for review, suggesting it would appear on the App Store relatively quickly. However, since then, no word of an Office for iPad has surfaced.

That report also claimed that Word, Excel and PowerPoint files could be created and edited both locally and online with the iPad version of Office. It was reported as “unclear” whether Microsoft would support other Office applications, such as Outlook or Communicator.

Microsoft already offers a number of software options for iOS, including OneNote, Bing, SkyDrive, My Xbox Live, and the game Kinectimals.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google developing Chrome version for iOS

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Date: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, 12:08
Category: News, Software

google-chrome-logo

It never hurts to have a choice.

Per macq.wir.jp, Google is said to be planning to compete with Apple’s own Safari by releasing a version of its Chrome Web browser for iOS devices.

The launch of Chrome for iOS on the App Store could be as soon as this quarter, according to Macquarie Equities Research. Its debut is seen as igniting a modern browser war on mobile devices, similar to the “Browser Wars” of the late 1990s between Internet Explorer and Netscape.

All third-party browsers for iOS must be based on WebKit, Apple’s open source browser engine. The existing versions of Google Chrome, available for Mac, Windows and Android, are already based on the WebKit layout engine.

Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter said Chrome for PCs has been a “home run” for Google, as it has “significantly” reduced desktop traffic acquisition costs for the search giant.

He expects that Google will launch a major marketing campaign to hype the debut of Chrome for iOS. The company has run television spots promoting Chrome for desktops for some time, featuring celebrities like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, helping its advertising budget quadruple in the U.S. last year to US$213 million.

Google’s own Android operating system ships with a generic browser, but the company released a mobile version of Chrome for its Google Play application store in February. The free software remains in beta, but is well reviewed.

Third-party browsers first began appearing on the Apple-controlled iOS App Store in early 2009. Prior to that, browsers that would rival Apple’s own Safari were rejected from the App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.2.2, Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.3 updates for Mac

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Date: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, 12:14
Category: News, Software

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.2 update. The update, a 110 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- 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 2011 14.2.2 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 12.3.3 of its Microsoft Office 2008 suite for Mac. The update, a 217.9 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and features:

- The 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 12.3.3 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 Office 2011 14.2.1 update released

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 17:05
Category: News, Software

Let’s try this again.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.1 update. The update, a 110 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Document Connection support for SkyDrive documents is improved. This update enables users to view and access documents that are located in the root level of a SkyDrive folder.

- The drag-and-drop feature in Document Connection is added in Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). This update adds a drag-and-drop feature for files in Document Connection in Mac OS X 10.7.

- Upload functionality for SharePoint sites is improved. This update fixes an issue in which you receive the following error message when you upload a file to a SharePoint site: Upload Failed You must sign in to save your changes to the server.

- The Italian grammar checker is improved. This update fixes an issue in which the Italian grammar checker does not check a complete document.

- The German grammar checker is improved. This update fixes an issue in which the German grammar checker does not check a complete document when the document contains certain German sentences.

Improvements for Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011:
- The database and the rebuild utility are improved. This update includes fixes that increase the robustness of the database and that improve the effectiveness of the rebuild utility. Outlook for Mac uses the Office database to store personal information, such as messages and contacts.

- This update fixes issues that cause database corruptions, instability, and crashes. This update also improves database transactions and the ability to recover from certain errors. If there is a problem within the database, Outlook for Mac starts the Database Utility, which tries to rebuild the database. After you install this update, the Database Utility recovers additional account information, such as shared resources and categories, and recovers from corruption scenarios. This update also adds the ability to cancel a database rebuild in Outlook for Mac.

- IMAP account sync that includes support for synchronizing with Gmail is improved. After you install this update, Outlook for Mac updates new messages in IMAP folders regularly. Additionally, Outlook for Mac users who use Gmail accounts can map folders, such as Drafts, Deleted Items, Sent Items, and Junk E-Mail, automatically.

- Outlook for Mac performance in key scenarios is improved. This update introduces several performance improvements in the following areas:
General responsiveness during syncing
Deleting multiple records
Displaying email message content
Sending email messages

- Exchange email message sync is improved. This update introduces a new sync model for Exchange. The new model enables Outlook for Mac to download an email message in parts. For example, Outlook for Mac first downloads and displays message text and then downloads large images and attachments.

- Downloading messages in parts reduces the load on the Exchange server and improves performance for the user.

- Support for calendar scheduling resources is improved. This update improves support for calendar scheduling resources and for free/busy comparison functionality in the Scheduling Assistant.

- Week numbers are added to the calendar display. This update adds a preference to enable the calendar to display week numbers.

- Distribution list expansion functionality is included. This update enables you to expand distribution lists into individual members when you add a distribution list in the To field or rest the mouse pointer on a distribution list.

Improvements for Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2011:
- Functionality for pasting special hyperlinks is included. This update introduces functionality that enables you to paste special hyperlinks in PowerPoint.

- The list of co-authors is improved. This update fixes an issue in which you cannot see the list of co-authors in a presentation.

- Full Screen View in Lion is supported. This update supports Full Screen View in PowerPoint. Additionally, when you close slide show mode in PowerPoint, edit mode opens.

Improvements for Microsoft Word for Mac 2011:
- Printing PDF faxes is improved. This update fixes an issue in which Word cannot send .pdf files as faxes.

- The user information display in templates is improved. This update fixes an issue in which a Word template does not display a user’s name, address, telephone number, fax number, and email address when you view the template after the template is saved in .doc format.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.1 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.

Microsoft pulls Office 2011 Service Pack 2 update, offers apology and workaround for Outlook database corruption bug

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 23rd, 2012, 05:28
Category: News, Software

Well, this is awkward.

A little over a week after releasing an update to its Office 2011 for Mac, Microsoft has stopped pushing out auto-updates for Service Pack 2 over a flaw that corrupts identity databases in the company’s Outlook mail client.

The announcement was made on Friday through the company’s Office blog, and notifies users that automatic updates for SP2 will be temporarily suspended while the company investigates the cause of the problem.

From the post:
“On April 12th, we released SP2 for Office for Mac 2011. The majority of our customers have been delighted with the improvements – new features and performance. Unfortunately, a small percentage are experiencing some issues with the update, specifically related to the Outlook for Mac database.”

Five days after initially releasing SP2, Microsoft posted a workaround and apology to users affected by the update.

The first workaround deals with those users who have yet to install the update, and calls for the rebuilding of Outlook’s database. The second, more comprehensive fix deals with those who already installed the patch and involves a complicated procedure to restore the database to working condition from an existing backup.

Office 2011 for Mac users can still download SP2 through Microsoft’s website, though it is recommended that the workaround be implemented prior to installation.

The SP2 update brought many enhancements for OS X Lion users like full-screen display modes and performance improvements.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.0 (Service Pack 2) released

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 13th, 2012, 06:11
Category: News, Software

Even your crankiest relatives at Thanksgiving can’t deny that an update is a good thing.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.0 (Service Pack 2) update. The update, a 112 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Document Connection support for SkyDrive documents is improved. This update enables users to view and access documents that are located in the root level of a SkyDrive folder.

- The drag-and-drop feature in Document Connection is added in Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). This update adds a drag-and-drop feature for files in Document Connection in Mac OS X 10.7.

- Upload functionality for SharePoint sites is improved. This update fixes an issue in which you receive the following error message when you upload a file to a SharePoint site: Upload Failed You must sign in to save your changes to the server.

- The Italian grammar checker is improved. This update fixes an issue in which the Italian grammar checker does not check a complete document.

- The German grammar checker is improved. This update fixes an issue in which the German grammar checker does not check a complete document when the document contains certain German sentences.

Improvements for Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011
- The database and the rebuild utility are improved. This update includes fixes that increase the robustness of the database and that improve the effectiveness of the rebuild utility. Outlook for Mac uses the Office database to store personal information, such as messages and contacts.

- This update fixes issues that cause database corruptions, instability, and crashes. This update also improves database transactions and the ability to recover from certain errors. If there is a problem within the database, Outlook for Mac starts the Database Utility, which tries to rebuild the database. After you install this update, the Database Utility recovers additional account information, such as shared resources and categories, and recovers from corruption scenarios. This update also adds the ability to cancel a database rebuild in Outlook for Mac.

- IMAP account sync that includes support for synchronizing with Gmail is improved. After you install this update, Outlook for Mac updates new messages in IMAP folders regularly. Additionally, Outlook for Mac users who use Gmail accounts can map folders, such as Drafts, Deleted Items, Sent Items, and Junk E-Mail, automatically.

- Outlook for Mac performance in key scenarios is improved. This update introduces several performance improvements in the following areas:
General responsiveness during syncing
Deleting multiple records
Displaying email message content
Sending email messages

- Exchange email message sync is improved. This update introduces a new sync model for Exchange. The new model enables Outlook for Mac to download an email message in parts. For example, Outlook for Mac first downloads and displays message text and then downloads large images and attachments.

- Downloading messages in parts reduces the load on the Exchange server and improves performance for the user.

- Support for calendar scheduling resources is improved. This update improves support for calendar scheduling resources and for free/busy comparison functionality in the Scheduling Assistant.

- Week numbers are added to the calendar display. This update adds a preference to enable the calendar to display week numbers.

- Distribution list expansion functionality is included. This update enables you to expand distribution lists into individual members when you add a distribution list in the To field or rest the mouse pointer on a distribution list.

Improvements for Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2011:
- Functionality for pasting special hyperlinks is included. This update introduces functionality that enables you to paste special hyperlinks in PowerPoint.

- The list of co-authors is improved. This update fixes an issue in which you cannot see the list of co-authors in a presentation.

- Full Screen View in Lion is supported. This update supports Full Screen View in PowerPoint. Additionally, when you close slide show mode in PowerPoint, edit mode opens.

Improvements for Microsoft Word for Mac 2011:
- Printing PDF faxes is improved. This update fixes an issue in which Word cannot send .pdf files as faxes.

- The user information display in templates is improved. This update fixes an issue in which a Word template does not display a user’s name, address, telephone number, fax number, and email address when you view the template after the template is saved in .doc format.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.0 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.