Forthcoming Microsoft Office 2011 update to add support for Mac OS X 10.7 feature base

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Date: Thursday, July 28th, 2011, 12:25
Category: News, Software

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The good news: Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) is out.

The bad news: Not all of Microsoft’s products support all of the Mac OS X 10.7 feature base.

Still, there may be hope on the horizon.

Per the Office for Mac blog, Microsoft has revealed that a forthcoming update for Office for Mac 2011 will add support for new features in Mac OS X 10.7, including versions, auto-save and full-screen.

Pat Fox of the Office for Mac team wrote on the company’s official blog this week that inquiries about those features have been the “most common question” for users of late. The Microsoft team is said to be “working hard with Apple” to enable the features.

“I know your next question will be ‘when?’, and unfortunately I can’t answer that — but it’s likely measured in months not days — just to set expectations,” the post reads.

The news came alongside the release of an update to Communicator for Mac, which addresses an issue related to crashing in Lion. The download is available through Microsoft AutoUpdate.

The company also reiterated that Office for Mac 2004 will not ever work on Lion, because the software was a PowerPC-based product, and Lion no longer includes Rosetta.

“Now would be a great time to upgrade to Office for Mac 2011 if you’re upgrading to Lion!” Fox said.

Office for Mac 2011, the industry’s most popular productivity suite, was released last October, delivering better compatibility with the Windows version of Office and corporate server products. It also features a revised user interface that’s similar to the “ribbon” interface used in Windows.

Those user interface elements are built on Cocoa, the development layer of Mac OS X. And the all-new version of Outlook that shipped with Office for Mac 2011 was also built from the ground-up with Cocoa for the Mac.

File versions, auto-save and full-screen are major features touted as part of the newly released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion operating system. With support for Lion, documents are automatically saved, and multiple versions of the file are stored allowing for Time Machine-like recovery of previous iterations of a file.

The new full-screen support in Lion will bring an iPad-like feel to the operating system, allowing users to concentrate on one task at a time and quickly swipe between full-screen applications with a multi-touch gesture.

Apple’s own competing productivity suite, iLife, was already updated for Lion earlier this month. iWork Update 6 adds support for full-screen mode, resume, auto-save and versions to Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft to open 75 retail locations over next 2-3 years

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Date: Wednesday, July 13th, 2011, 13:16
Category: News, Retail Store

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If you can’t beat ‘em, follow their lead and eventually try to take them down.

Per Neowin, Microsoft plans to massively expand its retail presence to take in the U.S. in the next 2 to 3 years, with an aggressive goal of 75 new stores to take on Apple’s own retail operations.

The plans are said to be part of the company’s effort to expand the “Microsoft story,” an initial map showing clusters of stores in California, Texas, Florida and the Northeast.

Microsoft gave a presentation at its Worldwide Partner Conference on Wednesday. Currently, the Redmond, Wash., software giant has a total of 11 stores across America, mostly in California, with a new one that just opened in Los Angeles.

“Also shown off during this presentation was that an Apple retailer in Latin America was showing off Apple hardware running Windows 7,” the report said. “Microsoft used this to poke fun that Apple makes fantastic hardware but their OS is still behind Windows 7.”

Microsoft first announced in early 2009 that the company planned to open new retail stores, in an approach that mimics Apple’s own wildly successful retail operations. The company pushed hard with viral marketing buzz, and even poached employees from Apple’s retail operations with the promise of pay raises and compensation for moving expenses.

In a recent instance, Microsoft was able to court an Apple retail market manager who had recently left the company. That person said they were offered a pay raise and were then allegedly asked to contact employees they had previously worked with at Apple in an effort to recruit them.

Little has been said of Microsoft’s retail operations since their debut in 2009, but Wednesday’s latest development indicates that the company has high hopes for the future of its brick-and-mortar ventures. The news comes as it was revealed that Apple single-handedly accounted for one fifth of all sales growth by publicly traded American retailers during the first three months of 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

SpamSieve updated to 2.8.6

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Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011, 02:26
Category: News, Software

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Michael Tsai’s must-have shareware program, SpamSieve, has just been updated to version 2.8.6. The new version, an 8.3 megabyte download, makes the following fixes and improvements:

– Made various changes to improve SpamSieve’s filtering accuracy.

– Improved compatibility with Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion).

– Added support for Postbox 2.5.

– Updated the Setting Up MailMate instructions for the new preferences in MailMate 1.1.2.

– Updated the Setting Up Outlook instructions for Microsoft Office 2011 Service Pack 1.

– Updated the Setting Up Postbox instructions to ensure that messages that you train as spam are moved to the junk mailbox or trash.

– Worked around a rare OS/hardware condition that could prevent SpamSieve from launching.

– The Apple Mail plug-in is better at reporting errors when it’s unable to fully load itself.

– Made various other clarifications to the manual.

– Adjusted the help page titles to fit better in the menu and search results.

SpamSieve is available for a US$30 registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run. The new version can either be downloaded directly from the web site or brought up to the current version via the program’s built-in update feature.

Microsoft releases 14.1.2 update for Office 2011, 12.3.0 update for Office 2008

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Date: Wednesday, June 15th, 2011, 03:06
Category: News, Software

On Monday afternoon, Microsoft released version 14.1.2 of its popular Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac suite. The update, a 109 megabyte download, can also be located, snagged and installed via the Microsoft AutoUpdate program, offers the following fixes and changes:

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

In an updated security bulletin, the company admitted that a “specially crafted” Excel file could allow unwanted access, thus leading to the updates.

Microsoft Office 2011 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and is available for US$149.99 and up depending on the suite purchased.

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

In other news, Microsoft also released version 12.3.0 of its Office 2008 suite for Mac. The update, a 333 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Improves stability. In addition, it includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.0 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run and
Microsoft Office 2008 with Service Pack 1. The update can, of course, be located and installed with the Microsoft AutoUpdate tool.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any comments, let us know in the comments or feedback section.

AT&T to argue need for T-Mobile resources, spectrum, in merger deal

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Date: Friday, June 10th, 2011, 06:13
Category: iPhone, News, wireless

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You may not think too highly of wireless carrier AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA, but apparently it’s necessary for the company to move forward.

This was the statement from company officials on Thursday, who said the deal would allow AT&T to significantly improve its mobile network capacity and give better service to its customers.

Critics of the deal, including competitor Sprint Nextel, are incorrect in asserting that AT&T is sitting on mobile spectrum, said Bob Quinn, AT&T’s senior vice president for federal regulatory affairs in a Macworld article. The proposed US$39 billion deal, announced in March, is a “very clean and quick way to deal with some of the spectrum issues that are facing this country and this company in particular,” he said during a press briefing.

The deal is necessary because AT&T is facing a spectrum shortage as mobile broadband use continues to skyrocket, the company has argued. While critics have suggested AT&T is hoarding spectrum, the company is using its 700MHz spectrum, acquired in 2008 auctions, and its AWS (advanced wireless services) spectrum to roll out 4G LTE (long-term evolution) service, Quinn said.

Sprint has questioned why AT&T, with the largest spectrum holdings of any U.S. carrier, needs T-Mobile. “AT&T has repeatedly reassured investors that it has the spectrum and network capacity it needs to meet the growing demand for data services,” Sprint said in a May 31 filing at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. “If AT&T has capacity constraints, they are the result of its failure to upgrade and invest in its network. AT&T has lagged significantly in network investment.”

Dozens of groups have voiced opposition to the merger between the second-largest mobile carrier in the U.S. and the fourth-largest. The merger would reduce competition in the mobile market and likely drive up prices, said critics including Public Knowledge, the Rural Telecommunications Group and the NoChokePoints Coalition, a coalition of telecom customers, consumer groups and small carriers concerned with mobile backhaul rates.

The merged company would be “contrary to the express policies of Congress and the Commission to rely on competition rather than regulation to protect consumers and spur deployment of new services,” Public Knowledge and the Future of Music Coalition wrote in a May 31 filing to the FCC.

The combined company would be the largest mobile provider in the U.S. and would be able to assert control over mobile handsets, applications, equipment and protocol development, Public Knowledge and the Future of Music Coalition said in their filing.

But AT&T, in a response filing to be sent to the FCC on Friday, will argue the merger will be good for mobile customers. By combining networks, AT&T will be able to increase its mobile capacity by 60% in New York City in the short term, and by more than 80% in the long term, Quinn said.

Los Angeles and San Diego would both see short-term spectrum gains of more than 45%, Quinn said.

The merger would give AT&T more spectrum and cell tower coverage, giving customers better mobile data service, he said. AT&T has tried other ways to improve capacity, including distributed antenna systems and Wi-Fi hotspots, Quinn said.

“We are not stupid,” he said. “We’ve been in the wireless business for a long time. We’ve tried all of these as short-term methods … to fix and provide for more capacity. While they give you some short-term benefit, they’re not long-term benefits to address the kind of bandwidth demands that we’re seeing.”

AT&T, in its FCC filing, will also note support for the merger from dozens of groups, including 15 state governors, 10 labor unions, nine venture capital firms and several tech firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Oracle and Yahoo, Quinn said.

Many groups supporting the merger see the potential for AT&T to bring mobile broadband to more corners of the nation, he said. AT&T has said it plans to cover 97% of the U.S. population with 4G service if the merger is approved by the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice. Right now, the company plans to cover 80% of the population with 4G service.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft looking to ARM processors, HTML5 for Windows 8 mobile strategy

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Date: Thursday, June 2nd, 2011, 04:38
Category: News, Software

There may be something to this whole HTML5 thing…

Per AppleInsider, Microsoft has provided a look at how it plans to bring Windows to more mobile devices in the future, leveraging ARM processors and using HTML5 as the basis of a new app platform.

As demonstrated at the D9 conference, Windows 8 will deliver a touch-centric new interface for apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that runs on top of the existing, conventional Windows platform.

The company showed off a new Start screen patterned after the tiled home page of Windows Phone 7. The company says the new tiled interface “replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.”

Microsoft’s mobile Windows CE core operating system differs dramatically from its desktop Windows operating system, but the two will grow closer together in appearance as Windows 8 adopts a similar, top level interface to Windows Phone 7 and the Zune.

In contrast, Apple’s desktop Mac OS X and mobile iOS share the same core operating system and use optimized versions of the company’s proprietary Cocoa development platform to deliver native apps, but differ in the interface they present, with Mac OS X retaining a mouse-based windowing environment while iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad present a completely rethought, touch-based interface.

Microsoft’s own efforts to build a cohesive development environment for both the Windows CE-based Windows Mobile 6 and its desktop Windows XP/Vista/7 platform initially revolved around the company’s .Net APIs before shifting Windows Phone 7 to use Microsoft’s Adobe Flash-like Silverlight as its mobile app platform.

Now, Microsoft is announcing a new shift that leverages the interest in HTML5 to deliver “web-connected and web-powered” apps (similar to HP’s webOS platform acquired from Palm) that will run alongside legacy Windows apps on the forthcoming Windows 8. Microsoft says this approach “is designed and optimized for touch,” although the company also says “it works equally well with a mouse and keyboard.”

Ironically, the new HTML5 layer of Windows 8 works like the Dashboard layer of Mac OS X, although rather than only supplying quick assess to simple widgets, the new “Windows 8 apps” are intended to supply a layer of highly animated, full screen, touch-based apps capable of competing with native apps running on Apple’s iPad.

Like Apple’s iOS, Windows 8 is intended to be deployed on highly mobile devices such as ARM-based tablets in addition to the conventional PCs Windows has powered in the past. Unlike Apple’s iOS, which became instantly popular on the iPhone before expanding to the iPod touch and iPad, Microsoft’s tile-based Zune interface hasn’t yet found a significant, sustainable audience. After the Zune failed, Microsoft KIN and Windows Phone 7 have both found little interest among consumers.

Microsoft’s radical experimentation with Windows Vista in 2007 caused a negative backlash from Windows PC users, which has only settled down with the more conservative release of Windows 7. Sales of PCs have yet to rebound to levels prior to the release of Vista, and new mobile devices, in particular Apple’s iPad, have siphoned off a significant amount of demand among generic PCs.

Microsoft does have considerable clout among its developers and hardware makers however, and describes the new Windows 8 as its biggest risk yet, hoping the new release, due sometime over the next couple years, will bring it back into relevance among new generations of consumers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype posts workaround instructions for connection issues found on Mac OS X, Windows (updated)

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Date: Thursday, May 26th, 2011, 05:55
Category: News, Software

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Er, if Microsoft paid US$8.5 billion for something, I suppose they’d like it to work on all the platforms it services…

Per Macworld, Skype has published workaround instructions for correcting an issue that prevented many Mac users from successfully logging into the service. The company also published a set on instructions focused on resolving connections on the Windows operating systems.

Early Thursday morning, some Skype users found that they couldn’t log in or stay connected. Not all users were affected, however: Folks using Skype on iOS and Android devices were fine, as were some people using different desktop editions of the client.

The issue prevented some callers on Mac OS X and various incarnations of Windows from connecting. According to Skype, Mac users battling connection issues can repair the problem by following these steps:

– Quit Skype.

– Navigate to ~/Library/Application Support/Skype/ (~ refers to your Home directory).

– Locate the file shared.xml, and delete it.

– Launch Skype again.

Upon relaunch, Skype will generate a new version of the XML file. There’s no word yet on what caused the issue, or why deleting the XML file will correct it.

If you’ve seen this issue or tried this fix on your end, please let us know.

Microsoft retracts CEO Steve Ballmer’s comments as to Windows 8 arriving in 2012, cites “misstatement”

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Date: Wednesday, May 25th, 2011, 04:42
Category: News, Software

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer has always possessed a multitude of skills.

Knowing when to keep his mouth shut has not always been one of them.

Per InfoWorld, a Microsoft spokesperson has clarified Ballmer’s comments as to Windows 8 arriving in 2012 as “a misstatement.”

At a developer forum in Tokyo, Japan on Monday, Ballmer used the name “Windows 8″ in public for the first time.

“We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows. Windows 7 PCs will sell over 350 million units this year. We’ve done a lot in Windows 7 to improve customer satisfaction. We have a brand new user interface. We’ve added touch, and ink, and speech,” the company’s official transcript reported Ballmer as saying.

“And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors,” he continued.

However, Ballmer may have said too much, as Microsoft has retracted the comments.

“It appears there was a misstatement,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement the company issued. “We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year. To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows.” Microsoft’s 2011 fiscal year ends on June 30.

According to the report, Microsoft has kept quiet about the names of previous Windows versions. Windows 7 wasn’t officially labeled as such until “just weeks” before developers received an early build.

However, analysts and developers appear to have already settled on calling the next version “Windows 8,” though Microsoft’s backpedaling has left some analysts wondering. “Was it the name, Windows 8?” analyst Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft asked. “Or was it [the release in] 2012? Sometimes this is like being a soothsayer, pulling apart the entrails of animals.”

Developers report that builds of Windows 8 are still in the early stages. For example, the Ribbon UI feature is “only half-finished and, frankly, of dubious value,” according to one report.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft’s Ballmer cites Windows 8 release for 2012, begins to drop details

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Date: Tuesday, May 24th, 2011, 02:59
Category: News, Software

Ok, this isn’t amazing news about an upcoming Apple notebook or a revelation that the next iPhone will be able to paint your living room, but it never hurts to run a Windows partition on your Mac…

Per AppleInsider, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed plans for a 2012 launch of the “next generation of Windows systems,” which will include Windows 8 slates and tablets at a developer forum in Tokyo on Monday.

During the keynote, Ballmer publicly used the name “Windows 8″ for the first time. While touting advances made in Windows 7, Ballmer noted, “There’s a whole lot more coming.”

“As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors” he said.

Microsoft announced in January that it plans to port Windows 8 to the ARM system-on-a-chip architecture in order to compete with devices like Apple’s iPad. “Windows PCs will continue to adapt and evolve. Windows will be everywhere on every device without compromise,” said Ballmer at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Early builds of Windows 8 hint at a scalable cross-platform solution that could make its way into tablets and phones. Microsoft has struggled in the mobile market, partly due to Intel’s unsuccessful efforts to meet low power requirements with its line of Atom chips.

Ballmer admitted on Monday that the company’s “big sort of effort” to transform communication with Windows Phone had arrived late. “We came to market with Windows Phone about a year later than I wish we had, shame on us. But, we’re moving forward very actively,” said Ballmer. The company is set to launch a major upgrade to Windows Phone on Tuesday.

For its part, Apple will unveil the future of Mac OS at the Worldwide Developers Conference early next month. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion brings several major features from iOS back to the Mac and is due out this summer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft purchases Skype for $8.5 billion

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Date: Tuesday, May 10th, 2011, 04:26
Category: News, Software

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You’ve got to admit, Skype does have its uses.

And companies tend to see this.

According to Fortune, Microsoft has agreed to buy the voice-over-Internet company for US$8.5 billion, including the assumption of debt.

There had been reports last week that Skype was in acquisition or partnership talks with both Microsoft and Facebook.

Skype will become a new business unit within Microsoft, to be run by current Skype CEO Tony Bates, who will report directly to Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer.

Luxembourg-based Skype began life as a VC-backed company, before being acquired by eBay (EBAY) for US$2.6 billion in 2005. The combination didn’t pan out as expected, and eBay gave public thought to either selling the unit outright or spinning it off into an independent public company. In November 2009, it agreed to sell a 65% stake in Skype for US$1.9 billion to an investor group that included Silver Lake Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Index Ventures (the 7th-largest leveraged buyout of 2009).

Skype then filed for a US$100 million IPO last August. The company reported a US$6.9 million net loss in 2010, on nearly US$860 million in revenue. It reported just US$686 million in long-term debt, and just over US$1 billion in liabilities.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.