O'Grady's PowerPage » Microsoft

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.

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.

Additional Black Friday sales announced, Microsoft and Adobe put forth wares

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 25th, 2011, 05:46
Category: News, retail, Software

It’s Black Friday and there shall be savings.

Per AppleInsider, the shopping holiday has brought an assortment of discounts on essential Mac software, including up to 50% off Adobe’s products, Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 for US$69.99, and VMWare Fusion for US$29.99.

Microsoft Office for Mac 2011:
The best deals for Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac come from Amazon, MacMall and Buy.com. Amazon is selling Home & Student One Packs and Family Packs for US$50 off retail, US$69.99 and US$99.99, respectively. The site also has the Home & Business One Pack for the low price of US$151.99. Buy.com is selling the Home & Business Multi Pack for US$180.94.

Mac Virtualization Software:
For Mac Virtualization software that lets Macs run the Windows operating system alongside Mac OS, Amazon has the best deal on Parallels Desktop 7 at US$44.99. MacMall has the lowest price for VMWare Fusion 4, selling the software for US$29.99.

Adobe Products:
Adobe is offering as much as 50 percent off on instant downloads of its software through Nov. 29, though individual products may need to be added to the shopping cart for the discounts in the chart below to appear. Creative Suite 5.5 is available to commercial customers with savings of 30 percent on upgrades and 10 percent on full purchases.

The software maker is also providing a discount of US$250 on the full version of Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended and US$150 off the full version of Photoshop CS 5, while those upgrading from an earlier version will save 30 percent. Commercial customers can get 50 percent off the entry-level Elements versions of the Photoshop and Premiere applications, as well as US$100 off Lightroom.

Meanwhile, qualifying education customers can save up to US$1800 on Student and Teacher Editions of Creative Suite from Adobe’s retail partners.

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.