In what may be considered a triumph depending on which side you’re on, Apple has apparently responded to Microsoft’s “Laptop Hunter” series of television commercials. Per Ars Technica, Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner was quoted as stating at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference on Wednesday that “two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying [...] ‘Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices.’” Turner further went on to note that “they took like $100 off or something,” before stating to applause that it “was the greatest single phone call in the history that I’ve ever taken in business.”
Turner also confirmed that Microsoft is indeed “just going to keep running them and running them and running them.”
I’m not sure if this is effective marketing or not, as no one has actually mentioned enjoying these commercials to any extent of the imagination…
Microsoft let the Windows 7 details fly on Thursday with news of lower Windows 7 upgrade prices as well as a concession that lets owners of the now 8-year-old Windows XP move up to the new operating system at a lower price.
According to AppleInsider, Microsoft detailed the pricing for the three editions of Windows 7 that customers would be likely to find in stores.
In a bid to placate those upset by elevated Vista pricing, some versions of Windows 7 will be less expensive than Vista has been in the past. At retail, a Home Premium upgrade will cost US$120 (US$40 less than it did when Vista was new) while its stand-alone version has dropped a similar amount to US$200. Buying a copy of Professional will retail for US$200 (upgrade) or US$300 (full) as it has in the past, but Windows 7 Ultimate will cost US$220 to upgrade versus the US$260 for Vista Ultimate in 2007. A full copy of the new Ultimate release costs US$320 versus US$400 two years ago.
Customers eager enough to pre-order the new OS before it ships on October 22nd will pay even less. Starting Friday, advance orders for Windows 7 Home Premium and Professional upgrades will retail for US$50 and US$100 each in the United States and should last until July 11th or until stock runs dry. Many PC vendors, including HP, will also offer upgrades to Windows 7 for free or for a small cost on any PC sold from Friday until Windows 7 comes preloaded on the new computers.
Microsoft also announced that those using the now two generations old Windows XP OS can upgrade their OS rather than pay full retail pricing. However, due to the change in architectures between Windows XP and 7, buyers will have to perform a clean install rather than the in-place upgrade Vista owners can use.
Current builds of Windows 7 function well under Apple’s Boot Camp technology and are expected to be supported by virtualization programs such as Parallels Desktop and VMware.
Recently, Apple announced a final ship date and upgrade price its upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) operating system. The new OS will hit this September as an upgrade for Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) users and be available for US$29.
In addition to the US$29 single user upgrade, a family pack upgrade will cost US$49. Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) users will pay US$169 for a 10.6/iLife box set or US$229 for a family pack.
All users who purchased or will purchase a new qualifying Mac between June8th and December 26th will receive a free upgrade package and pay US$9.95 for shipping and handling. You must request your up-to-date upgrade within 90 days of your original purchase.
Snow Leopard requires a minimum of 1GB RAM and runs on Intel-based Macintoshes. Full system requirements are hosted at Apple’s tech specs page.
Ok, this was completely interesting, even if it proved that the British are mildly crazed on some levels, but there’s some cool stuff in the works for Microsoft’s Project Natal (video courtesy of GameTrailers.com:
If Apple could trump this, that’d be something worth seeing.
Electronic Arts on Tuesday announced the simultaneous release of The Sims 3 for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows and Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch handsets.
The new version allows users to control simulated people inside a virtual world, the application allowing for dozens of unique personality traits as well as extensive customization for your Sims home. According to Macworld, the game bypasses the micromanagement of basic tasks such as bathing and using the restroom (unlike the first two versions) and allows for additional items to be purchased via an in-game store.
The Mac and Windows game also lets you record movies of your Sims, edit the soundtrack, story and transitions, then share the movies you’ve made with friends on The Sims 3 Web sites, social networks, and on your own blog.
The game ships on a hybrid DVD-ROM that contains both Mac and Windows versions of the games, retails for US$50 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later, 2 GB of RAM, 6.1 GB of hard disk space and an ATI GMA X3100 or Nvidia 7300 GT graphics card or better to install and run.
Per the iPhone version, the application is available for US$9.99 through the App Store and requires iPhone OS 2.2 or later to install and run.
Having lost the battle to acquire Yahoo! so many times, Microsoft decided it still needed to get into the search engine business, and this weekend they launched a “preview” of the service.
Called “bing“, the service doesn’t look much unlike Google, except for some prettier formatting. Opinions online seem pretty varied so far, as people try to test the new engine search capabilities. Much like the recent Wolfram|Alpha preview, most users seem polarized from being very impressed, to not at all, with search results of some terms leaving much to be desired. However, as a preview, it seems to do a pretty good job.
Personally, I did not spend a lot of time hammering on the service, but I did find the image search to be very good, and I liked the way the images were displayed where a roll-over would give you the additional details and location of the picture.
It also seemed pretty fast compared to Google, but maybe bing just doesn’t have enough data to bog it down yet. If there was one thing that really disappoints me about the service, it is that I don’t see anything new or revolutionary. Perhaps that is coming, but it seems like Microsoft is doing the usual thing and just putting their spin on something somebody else has already done. Come on guys, lets see some innovation!
In addition to Microsoft’s Bing preview, Microsoft also announced Project Natal, a technology project developed by 3DV which uses a camera technology to function as an input. The core ideas behind the project include motion recognition, complex voice recognition and scanning body features.
And since a picture’s worth a thousand words, here’s what the guys at Joystiq had to offer…
Now if Apple could do something like this with the iSight, that’d be worth seeing…
Apple sent an announcement to developers last Thursday that the next seed for Snow Leopard was available for downloading. AppleInsider reported that this was the second beta of the software released this month and is labeled Mac OS X 10.6 build 10A335.
The new download is reported to also include a new version of 10.6 Snow Leopard Server which incorporates a number of new features. Some of the features mentioned, “[...] new junk mail filters in Mail Server, better automated account creation in Calendar Server, and completely re-written certificate management code”.
One of the developments that may be of interest to businesses that have, or want to deploy, a fleet of iPhones to their employees is the addition of the secure Mobile Access Server. The first hints of the new mobile services comes as a listing on Apple’s Developer site as one of the sessions available at WWDC called Deploying Mobile Access Server. The session has the following description:
Secure remote access to your business network has never been more critical than in today’s increasingly mobile world. The Mobile Access Server provides a path through a corporate firewall for IMAP, SMTP, HTTP, and CalDAV without using VPN. Learn about the features of, and deployment tips for, this powerful new service in Snow Leopard Server.
This comes in addition to features already mentioned such as remote access and control of mobile devices as well as push notifications. This positions OS X Server as a means to deliver intranet web services to iPhone and iPod touch users far more cost effectively than Microsoft Windows Server, and takes advantage of the popularity of the iPhone.
Microsoft apparently still holds aspirations of delivering a version of Office to Apple’s iPhone handset, though some more development time may still be necessary.
According to TechCrunch, Microsoft Business Division president Stephen Elop, speaking at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco on Wednesday, dropped hints to suggest that Office was bound to turn up on the Apple handheld device sometime soon.
Elop later hedged his remarks when interviewer Tim O’Reilly probed him over the comments, admitting that the software isn’t ready quite yet and stating that hopefuls should “keep watching.”
Over a year ago, Microsoft expressed “confidence” in its ability to deliver applications for the iPhone. At the time, Tom Gibbons, corporate vice president of the company’s Specialized Devices and Applications Group, indicated to Fortune that Office applications were a natural choice.
“It’s really important for us to understand what we can bring to the iPhone,” he said. “To the extent that Mac Office customers have functionality that they need in that environment, we’re actually in the process of trying to understand that now.”
Although the iPhone ships with built-in support for viewing Office documents, users wishing to make changes to those documents have had few options prior to this week’s announcement of Quickoffice, which will support editing (as well as creation of) Word and Excel documents when it’s released later this month.
To date, Microsoft has become the largest software developer for the Mac outside of Apple, its Mac Business Unit estimated to generate revenues in excess of $350 million and profits of over US$200 million each year.