Users hoping that the arrival of Windows 7 will lessen the power drain on Apple’s MacBook Pro notebook may have some hard news to face up to, as CNET’s Eric Lai discovered for a recent article he wrote. Running Windows 7 in Boot Camp caused one CNET reviewer’s battery life to fall by more than two-thirds.
In addition to this, virtualization software such as VMware Fusion suffer from the same complaints. Some blame Apple’s Boot Camp drivers (the last ones were released in April 2008) while others blame Windows’ bloated codebase. With Apple and Microsoft both trying to avoid responsibility for improving the experience, Windows 7′s reported improvements in power management will be moot for MacBook Pro users for a while.
If you’ve tested the Windows 7 beta on your MacBook and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.
On Monday, Microsoft released updates for its Microsoft Office 2008 suite as well as its Open XML Converter applications.
The Office 2008 update (which functions as a second service pack), is a 297 megabyte download that offers the following fixes and changes with a full description of the changes available here:
Stability is improved: This update fixes an issue that causes Office 2008 applications to exit unexpectedly when you open or use the applications.
Setup Assistant displays a message when an invalid product key is used: This update fixes an issue that causes Setup Assistant to loop when the user enters an invalid product key. The Setup Assistant now displays a message and asks the user to enter a valid product key.
Spell checking is improved when International System Preferences is set to Austrian or German input methods: This update fixes an issue in which the spell checking feature is disabled intermittently for Austrian and German languages.
Text box and the custom tab stops on a ruler align on a PowerPoint slide: This update fixes an issue that causes the text box and the tab stops on the ruler not to line up appropriately.
New controls for changing the alignment of text on chart elements: This update includes new controls for setting the vertical position, orientation, and custom angle of text in chart elements. It also includes controls for data label positions.
Improvements for Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac: Stability is improved when you use Mail Merge with pictures.
This update fixes an issue that causes Word to crash when you use the Mail Merge Manager to insert a record with pictures from an external data source into your main document.
Notebook Layout View recovers audio notes after Word closes unexpectedly: This update fixes an issue that causes users to lose their audio notes when Word closes unexpectedly. When you restart Word, the AutoRecover file does not include the audio notes. This issue is fixed now.
Performance is improved: This update fixes performance issues that occur in the following scenarios:
When you use the Outline View.
When you use Japanese characters and the Formatting Palette Styles functionality.
Section indicator is included in the Word status bar: This update reintroduces the Section indicator to the status bar. The Section indicator provides the section number that you are currently viewing in your document.
Reliability is improved with display redraw issues: This update fixes various display redraw issues that might occur when you scroll through a document that contain bullets and numbering.
Compatibility with Word 2007 is improved: This update fixes an issue that causes a Word 2007 document that has table borders not to be displayed correctly when the document is viewed in Word 2008 for Mac.
Reliability is improved when you copy a numbered list: This update fixes an issue that causes a numbered list to lose its formatting when it is copied into another document.
Improved editing when you use Korean characters: This update fixes an issue that causes Korean characters in a document to display incorrectly when you press the arrow keys.
Compatibility is improved with SpellCatcher X: This update fixes an issue that improves compatibility with SpellCatcher X.
Microsoft Office 2008 12.2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.4.5 or later to install and run.
Per the Open XML Converter 1.1 update, Microsoft released the 44.7 megabyte updater file for download. The new version of the utility (which lets you convert Open XML files that were created in Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac or 2007 Microsoft Office for Windows so that you can open, edit, and save them in earlier versions of Office for Mac) boasts currently unspecified fixes and changes.
The application requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to and Microsoft Office X 10.1.9 or Microsoft Office 2004 11.4.0 or later to install and run.
Both updates can be located and installed with the Microsoft AutoUpdater application.
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.