O'Grady's PowerPage » Microsoft

Apple developing its own alternative to Flash via Gianduia

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Date: Monday, May 10th, 2010, 07:57
Category: News, Software

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When in doubt, roll your own.

As the multimedia wars continue between Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, Apple is using Gianduia, a client-side, standards based framework for Rich Internet Apps that it introduced World of WebObjects Developers Conference last summer, to create its own production quality apps.

Gianduia, named after an Italian hazelnut chocolate, is “essentially is browser-side Cocoa (including CoreData) + WebObjects, written in JavaScript by non-js-haters,” according to a tweet by developer Jonathan “Wolf” Rentzsch. “Jaw dropped.”

After watching the NDA demo Apple gave for the new framework at WOWODC last year, Rentzch also tweeted, “Blown away by Gianduia. Cappuccino, SproutCore and JavascriptMVC have serious competition. Serious.”

Per AppleInsider, SproutCore is the JavaScript framework Apple uses to build the web interface for its desktop-like MobileMe web apps. Cappuccino is another third party JavaScript framework that works as a Cocoa-like API for web apps; it was used to deliver 280Slides, a web app designed to provide most of the functionality of Apple’s Keynote desktop application. JavascriptMVC is also an independent open source project used to develop rich apps within JavaScript for web deployment.

Like Cappuccino, Gianduia takes a Cocoa-inspired name (Cocoa is itself a Java-inspired name) to describe its role as a way for Cocoa developers to bring their skills to rich online applications built using web standards, with no need for a proprietary web plugin like Flash or Silverlight.

While the emerging new support for Rich Internet App features in HTML5 is often pitted competitively against Flash, Gianduia, SproutCore and related frameworks demonstrate that sophisticated web apps are already possible using existing web standards and without web plugins.

Apple retails locations have been noticed using Gianduia to create web app clients (which plug into the company’s WebObjects-based services), for a variety of popular programs over the last several months, including its One-to-One program, iPhone reservation system, and its Concierge service for Genius Bar reservations and Personal Shopping (shown below) programs.

While it’s unknown as to what this will turn into, Apple may be able to work around Flash support for its iPhone OS devices in its own way.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft Updates Office 2004, 2008, Open XML Converter

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Date: Wednesday, March 10th, 2010, 05:29
Category: Software

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Yesterday, Microsoft updated just about everything in its Office suites, the first change being an update of Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac to version 11.5.8. The new version, a 9.7 megabyte download, improves security and includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

Office 2008 for Mac received an update to version 12.2.4. The new version, a 221.5 megabyte download, offers several improvements to enhance stability and performance. In addition, this update includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

The company’s Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition went up to version 13.0.4 yesterday. The new version, a 64.3 megabyte download, offers several calendaring improvements, this new version of Entourage synchronizes notes, tasks, and categories with Exchange Server. This update also enables logging that can be used for diagnostic purposes.

Finally, Microsoft’s Open XML Converter utility reached version 1.1.4. The new version, a 45 megabyte download, received unspecified changes.

As always, the new versions can be located, downloaded and installed with the Microsoft AutoUpdate utility.

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

Mac OS X Market Share Up 29% According to Recent Report

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Date: Monday, March 1st, 2010, 05:07
Category: News

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If you’re still being told that the Mac is on its way out (a la the mantra of the 90′s), a new set of statistics released today show that the market share of Mac OS X in Web use has grown by 29.4% in the last year, while Windows has decreased 3.8%.

According to AppleInsider, web statistics company Quantcast found that Mac OS X represented 10.9% of total Web consumption in North America in January. Despite its losses over a year prior, Windows remains the dominant format with 86.8% of all Web use.

The analytics company noted that Windows share held steady for the last three months, following the introduction of Windows 7. But January repented a decline once again following a strong holiday season during which Apple sold 3.36 million Macs.

Mac OS X share also grew 7% between December and January, and also saw 5.2% quarterly growth. Windows saw a 0.9 percent increase in both monthly and quarterly share.

The report cited that the greatest growth in Web use has been on mobile devices wherein mobile operating systems increased their presence by 123.8% year-over-year in January. Even with that tremendous growth, mobile devices still represent just 1.3% of total Web use.

Quantcast also revealed that Mac OS X 10.5 remains the dominant version of Apple’s operating system. In January, Leopard represented 52.1% of all Mac users.

Adoption of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard remained rapid, with 27.3% of Mac users running Apple’s latest operating system, which was released in August and got off to a strong sales start twice as high as the debut of Leopard and four times better than Tiger.

In January, 17.2% of Mac users were running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, while 3.4% were on an earlier version.

For Microsoft, Windows XP remains the dominant platform, with 51.8% of users running the operating system. In fact, Quantast found that Windows XP actually gained share in January, due to strong sales of netbooks.

Windows Vista commands 37.4% of PC users, while Windows 7 has been adopted by 10.2%.

Rumor: Apple May Opt for Bing as iPhone Search Engine

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 12th, 2010, 08:16
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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With relations between Apple and Google growing strained, a new set of rumors places Apple as having gone into discussions with Microsoft towards making Microsoft’s Bing search engine the default for the iPhone.

According to Businessweek, a source close to the story offered the following: “Though Microsoft did not confirm or deny any chatters on the likelihood of Microsoft wining Apple search deal for iPhone, [Microsoft executive] Mr. Apter told us that for right economics Microsoft would like to win the Apple search deal.”

In a recent note, Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Aggarwal, also commented: “In our view, Apple search deal can be strategically very significant win for Microsoft not only because of Google and Apple’s history of working together but also because Microsoft has been lagging behind in terms of making in roads on fast growing mobile Internet market.”

As mentioned yesterday, Apple’s inclusion of the Google search engine on the iPhone platform nets the company about US$100 million a year from Google as part of a revenue-sharing deal, making it less likely Apple would want to develop its own search engine.

MWSF: Day One Gallery

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 12th, 2010, 04:41
Category: Macworld Expo, Pictures

Macworld Expo is underway and with we’ve sent ace photo hound Michael Johnston of iPhone Alley to go grab shots for us.

Take a gander, let us know what you think and remember: you can probably outrun the giant anthropomorphic Microsoft Office icons:

IMG_5759Yep, we’re in the right place.

IMG_5776Even without Apple there, you’ve got a crowd. Not too shabby.

IMG_5784Behold, more crowds. And escalators.

IMG_5788Attendees walk to the next exhibit or section in what appears to be a full capacity Expo.

IMG_5791The latest Microsoft marketing campaign: a combination of annoyance and primal terror.

IMG_5794To be fair, the giant Microsoft Office icons CAN be killed with silver bullets and holy water.

IMG_5804Attendees sit in on a panel featuring John Braun and Dave Hamilton of the Mac Observer.

IMG_5802Attendees listen to a panel on the Main Stage before hopping off to the next vendor or exhibit.

Rumor: Apple May Be Looking to Google for Continued iPhone Search Engine Deal

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 15:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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A recent rumor stating that Apple may be looking to develop its own search engine may be untrue, an inside source citing that Apple may look to extend its current search engine deal with Google to continue providing such a function for the iPhone.

The deal may also be worth over US$100 million per year to Apple in revenue sharing.

Per Silicon Alley Insider, a source has stated “there’s too many options” for search on the market and thus no reason for Apple to build its own search engine.

Another reason Apple might not want to build its own search engine: It’s getting over US$100 million a year from Google in its revenue share deal, according to the source.

According to the source, although US$100 million isn’t a ton of money to Apple, it wouldn’t make sense for the company to invest a significant number of resources building its own search engine when Microsoft has Bing and a nigh-limitless checkbook to finance its research and development.

Additional rumors have stated that Apple and Microsoft have been in talks to make Bing the default search provider for the iPhone as the relationship between Google and Apple has reportedly soured as competition between the two companies has become increasingly intense.

MWSF: Microsoft Announces Office for Mac 2011

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 09:10
Category: Macworld Expo, News

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With Macworld Expo underway, representatives from Microsoft announced Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, which should arrive in time for the 2010 holiday season.

Per Macworld, the new version focuses on better compatibility across platforms, improved collaboration tools, and a more refined user interface. Also, as Microsoft announced last August, the suite will include Outlook for Mac, which replaces Entourage as Office’s e-mail client. The new version of Office will also offer renewed support for Visual Basic, which was dropped in the 2008 version of the productivity suite.

“Nowadays, compatibility means more than just file formats,” said Microsoft’s Kurt Schmucker. “It’s also workflow, collaboration, and user interface.”

To that end, the new version of Office will incorporate document-collaboration features that take advantage of Microsoft’s online storage features. With Office for Mac 2011, Mac users will be able to share files and collaborate on documents with other Mac and Windows users via Microsoft’s SharePoint, SkyDrive, and Office Web Apps.

Those online tools will allow users to collaborate on documents with other Windows and Mac Office users in real time, similar to the features found in Google Docs. For example, users could create a document in Word on your laptop, save it to SkyDrive, then share it with others. A pop-up in Word will display who’s working on the document; click on that list, and you’ll be able to send them a message (as long as everyone is using Outlook or Microsoft’s Messenger IM application). The paragraphs your collaborators are working on will be locked out until they’re done. Users will also be able to edit those same documents from any computer, using Office’s Web apps. Mac users will have the same experience in the their versions of Safari and Firefox as Windows users get with their browsers, Schmucker said.

Microsoft also says it’s learned from user feedback about Office 2008 and has tweaked the user interface accordingly in Office 2011.

A new Ribbon at the top of each document window replaces Office 2008’s controversial Elements Gallery, which took some fire from Mac users for its size and inflexibility. This new Ribbon is designed to give users quick access to each program’s most commonly used tools. Unlike the Elements Gallery, the ribbon is customizable and, if you want more screen space, completely collapsible.

The new suite will also feel more Mac-like than Office 2008. For example, the Ribbon is built entirely using Apple’s Cocoa development framework, and takes takes advantage of Apple’s Core Animation system. (As a result, Ribbon tabs will slide smoothly when you rearrange them.) Click on Ribbon tools and they’ll expand smoothly into popovers that don’t obscure the document you’re working on.

Summarizing the interface changes, Microsoft’s Han-Yi Shaw likened Office 2008 to a teenager—“a little quirky”—but said the new edition is Office matured. “This is the version that everyone wanted,” he said.

Shaw added that the Mac team at Microsoft worked hard to adopt Apple technologies while also making sure their product was recognizably Microsoft Office. “We’re at a cross-section of Mac and PC, and because we’re die-hard Mac users, we look at the [Office] technology and try to translate it,” he said. “Following the Apple design philosophy really takes you in the right direction.”

The new Outlook will support PST imports (allowing you to move an Outlook installation, including all your old e-mails, from a Windows PC to a Mac) and will also support Microsoft’s Information Rights Management (IRM), which allows senders to specify what recipients can do with messages (print, forward, and so on). Previously-Windows only, IRM is required in some corporate settings. IRM support in Office 2001 is aimed at Mac users in cross-platform environments, Schmucker said: “It’s been a blocker for some companies because the Mac support was not there.”

The company has also re-engineered the Outlook message database system to be a series of small files, so it’s more easily backed up with Time Machine and searched in Spotlight. “Outlook’s new database is more reliable, faster, and fully supports Time Machine and Spotlight,” Schmucker said.

Finally, power users will be be able to make use of the Visual Basic macro language. Visual Basic was dropped from Office 2008 in part because it was to technically difficult to port it to the Mac’s then-new Intel CPUs. Microsoft says it began work on that port as far back as 2008, before the last Mac Office shipped. That work is now complete and the Mac suite will be using the most up-to-date version of Visual Basic.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft Releases Findings on Windows 7 Battery Issue

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 9th, 2010, 04:12
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News

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Because a combination of Windows 7 and virtualization makes life interesting.

Per Engadget, a Microsoft statement from last week claiming that the company would look into reports of Windows 7 causing premature battery degradation on notebook computers has led to Microsoft stating that Windows 7 isn’t to blame.

According to the company’s testing, the new tool, which reports when a battery is down to 40% of its designed capacity and suggests replacement, hasn’t reported a single false positive. Additionally, the tool uses read-only data from the battery, and is in fact incapable of tweaking the battery’s life span or internal data, as it merely reports the data it receives, and stacks the theoretical design capacity up against the current full charge capacity.

Microsoft has attributed negative reports to the mere fact that many people might not have noticed the degradation already taking place in their batteries, as most batteries start to degrade noticeably within a year. The company has also stated that it will continue to look into the issue, but for now this sounds like a bit of a non-issue.

Whether or not Windows 7 lives up to one of its featured claims about helping to use a notebook’s battery life more conservatively remains to be seen, both on conventional PC notebook hardware and on Apple’s MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air hardware.

If you’ve tried Windows 7 on your notebook hardware and have either positive or negative feedback regarding its effects on the battery life, let us know.

Rumor: Apple Selects New Manufacturer for Fourth-Generation iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010, 06:37
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

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Along with Apple’s long-standing partnership with manufacturer Foxconn, Asus subsidiary Pegatron Technology will reportedly manufacture Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

Per Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, Pegatron Technology has been selected by Apple for OEM production of the next-gen iPhone, expected to debut this summer. Pegatron will join Foxconn in manufacturing the handsets, industry sources reportedly said.

Although Pegatron officially declined to comment, the report noted that the company expects its handset shipments to “grow substantially in 2010″. The company currently produces LCD TVs and handsets, and is due to produce Microsoft’s Project Natal motion controller sensor for the Xbox 360 this year.

Pegatron was previously connected to the iPhone last fall and a report alleged that the company would build a new hybrid, world mode handset that would allow calls on both CDMA and GSM networks, granting access to Verizon Wireless in the U.S. Apple’s current iPhone manufacturer is Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., better known by its trade name of Foxconn.

Microsoft Releases Version 7.1 of IntelliPoint, IntelliType Drivers

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Date: Monday, December 14th, 2009, 06:09
Category: Software

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On Saturday, Microsoft released version 6.2 of their drivers for their IntelliType keyboards and IntelliType mice. The drivers, which can be selected and downloaded here, bring the software up to speed with Mac OS X 10.6.2 (“Snow Leopard”) and offer full 64-bit compatibility with the operating system.

The drivers require Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, let us know what you think and feel free to hurl your two cents in, as Microsoft’s list of changes is fairly vague for the new version.