Apple, Adobe sandbox Flash Player development for OS X versions

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 24th, 2013, 22:00
Category: News, security, Software

When in doubt, sandbox the sucker.

Per Mac|Life, Adobe announced on Wednesday that the latest version of the Safari web browser included with OS X Mavericks now features app sandboxing for Flash Player, following similar moves with browsers from Google, Microsoft and Mozilla.

Although Flash Player has been sandboxed for some time, for whatever reason Apple didn’t get on board with Safari until version 7.0, which is included with this week’s update to OS X Mavericks.

“For the technically minded, this means that there is a specific com.macromedia.Flash Player.plugin.sb file defining the security permissions for Flash Player when it runs within the sandboxed plugin process,” explains Adobe Platform Security Strategist Peleus Uhley.

“As you might expect, Flash Player’s capabilities to read and write files will be limited to only those locations it needs to function properly. The sandbox also limits Flash Player’s local connections to device resources and inter-process communication (IPC) channels. Finally, the sandbox limits Flash Player’s networking privileges to prevent unnecessary connection capabilities.”

The bottom line is that viewing Flash Player content will now be safer and more secure for Safari users on OS X Mavericks, thanks to the combined work of Adobe and Apple, who not so long ago were on opposite sides of the track when it came to Flash technology.

If it makes it more secure, then godspeed…

Study shows Microsoft’s Windows market share falling from 90% to 33% in post-PC device world

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 11th, 2013, 06:21
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

microsoftlogo

The day you never thought would arrive may finally be here.

Of course, it still depends on how you look at the data…

According to Asymco’s Horace Dediu, over the last five years, Post-PC devices have displaced conventional Windows PCs so rapidly that Microsoft’s dominance over personal computing has plummeted from roughly 90 percent share to less than a third.

The data highlights in implosion of growth that has sapped Worldwide PC shipments starting with at the launch of Apple’s iPad in 2010.

While PC shipments have stagnated over the past five years, Apple’s sales of iPhone and iPads and the estimated shipments of Android-based devices have grown rapidly.

The personal computing industry has shifted from 92 million shipments in 2008 to today’s market of 269 million units, as the site further details in charts.

Five years ago, Windows PCs accounted for the vast majority of computing devices – around 90 percent. But after failing to materially participate in the shift to tablets and smartphones, Microsoft has been left with its OS software on less than a third of the devices companies and individuals now use.

Dediu’s figures come from Gartner’s PC and tablet shipment data. The firm, along with IDC, suddenly stopped counting certain tablets among PC sales after Apple released its iPad. Both companies have since added Microsoft’s Surface and other Windows-branded tablets to their PC numbers while relegating iPads and Android tablets into a separate “media tablet” category.

Ostensibly, this was to separate devices used only for “media consumption” from PC figures, but the firm’s PC data has always included vast numbers of PCs that have only ever been used to browse the web or check mail, and have also included low powered netbooks and other limited-duty PC devices.

In stark contrast, complete PC market data from Canalys has more clearly shown how modern tablet form factors have had a tremendous impact on the PC market, without regard for how flattering the truth is to Microsoft.

Rumor: iPad media event to take place October 22nd, exact location unknown

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 9th, 2013, 07:35
Category: iPad, iPad mini, Rumor

It’s the leaks that make things interesting.

Per AppleInsider and AllThingsD, the date for Apple’s anticipated iPad media event was leaked on Tuesday, which cited unnamed sources. The same publication has accurately shared word of Apple event dates in the past.

In addition to new iPads, the event in two weeks is also expected to focus on the company’s revamped Mac Pro high-end desktop, and the forthcoming OS X Mavericks operating system update.

While the date for the event is known, its exact location has yet to be determined. Possible spots include Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., campus, or the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Last year’s iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad event was held in San Jose, but the company reportedly does not plan to return there this year.

The next 9.7-inch iPad is widely expected to sport a redesigned chassis that will make it look like a big iPad mini. Apple is expected to reduce the weight and thickness of its full-size iPad, and also give the device thinner side bezels.

As for the iPad mini, it’s anticipated to feature a high-resolution Retina display with its second-generation model. Both devices are rumored to sport high-quality 8-megapixel rear facing cameras, equivalent with the iPhone.

Still unknown is whether either of Apple’s new iPads will sport the Touch ID fingerprint sensor the company unveiled in the new iPhone 5s, but did not bring to its mid-level iPhone 5c.

The new iPads will hit the market ahead of the holiday shopping season, and at a time when traditional notebook PCs continue to struggle. Competition in the tablet space has been heating up, with Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HDX, Microsoft’s Surface 2, and Google’s Nexus 7.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

SpamSieve updated to 2.9.9

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 7th, 2013, 08:02
Category: News, Software

spamsieve-icon

SpamSieve’s about ready for Mavericks.

Michael Tsai’s must-have shareware program, SpamSieve, has just been updated to version 2.9.9. The new version, a 10.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- SpamSieve is now compatible with the GM build of OS X 10.9 Mavericks. It is recommended that you update to SpamSieve 2.9.9 before installing Mavericks. If you’ve updated to Mavericks first, and you don’t see the SpamSieve commands in Apple Mail’s Message menu, be sure to choose Install Apple Mail Plug-In from the SpamSieve menu.

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

- Microsoft Outlook 2011’s notification sounds are now available in SpamSieve’s Notification preferences.

- Added the Apple Mail – Server Junk Mailbox script. When it’s not possible to turn off a server-side junk filter (e.g., iCloud’s), this lets SpamSieve save you from mistakes that the server junk filter made by moving any messages that SpamSieve thinks are good back to the inbox. It will also consolidate the spam messages from all the accounts into a single spam mailbox (the same one where SpamSieve is already putting your spam).

- Can now repair the ownership and permissions of the SpamSieve and Apple Mail preferences files if needed. This fixes problems where SpamSieve would lose its registration information or Apple Mail wouldn’t show the SpamSieve menu commands.

- Fixed some problems where the Open Window command in Apple Mail was not available or did not always open the specified window.

SpamSieve 2.9.9 retails for US$30.00 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sees pay cut as result of poor Windows 8, Surface tablet marketplace performance

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 7th, 2013, 08:54
Category: News

ballmer

This is pretty much unparalleled.

Or at least it’s a decent case of schadenfreude.

Per CNET, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer saw his pay docked this year as a result of the disappointing performance of the company’s Windows Division over the past year.

The Microsoft head received US$1.26 million in compensation for fiscal 2013, with US$697,500 of that in base salary and US$550,000 in bonuses. Ballmer’s “incentive plan award” for 2013, which is calculated by the Microsoft board, was only 79 percent of the total he could have gotten, while in 2012, the Microsoft chief received 91 percent of his eligible incentive award.

The reason for the pay dock: the continuing poor sales of devices running Windows 8 the spectacular failure of the company’s Surface RT device. Microsoft’s latest operating system has underperformed since its launch, and the firm’s fiscal 2013 proxy statement points to those shortcomings.

The report cites “weakness in the consumer PC market,” a continuing issue for Microsoft as consumers increasingly turn away from traditional PC form factors in favor of smartphones and tablets running iOS or Android. Microsoft has sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses since the platform’s launch, but that is well below what the company had expected.

Adding to the Windows Division’s woes, the Surface RT device Microsoft rolled out last year met with middling reviews and virtually nonexistent consumer demand. Microsoft eventually wrote down US$900 million worth of unsold inventory. The company has since shown off new versions of its tablet devices, but the poor performance of the last generation still dragged on Ballmer’s compensation.

All told, the sales woes for the PC market and product launch costs for Windows 8 and Surface resulted in an 18 percent decline in Windows Division operating income.

The report is not entirely negative regarding Ballmer, as it notes that “the Committee and Board believe Mr. Ballmer is underpaid for his role and performance.” That feeling, though, was insufficient to earn the Microsoft chief his full incentive payment. A number of other Microsoft managers received 100 percent of their incentive payments, including COO Kevin Turner and CFO Amy Hood. The head of the Servers and Tools unit received 105 percent of his eligible award, as that division pulled in more than US$7 billion.

Ballmer shocked the tech world some weeks ago by announcing that he will leave Microsoft within the next year, and the company’s search for a successor is ongoing.

Apple informs former MobileMe users that their extra 2 GB of iCloud storage space has expired

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 1st, 2013, 06:20
Category: iCloud, News, Software

Not only did the U.S. government enter a shutdown today, so did your complimentary iCloud storage.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple has sent out emails informing iCloud users their complimentary iCloud storage has expired. The complimentary iCloud storage was a free extra 20 GB of storage for MobileMe members. Now all those members will be downgraded to the free 5 GB of iCloud storage all iCloud members get.

While any free storage is generally a good deal, Apple’s complimentary 5 GB now has to weigh against the 7 GB Microsoft has been offering with its SkyDrive service, although it still readily trumps Dropbox’s free 2 GB of storage space.

Still, it had to happen sometime…

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.3.7 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 11th, 2013, 07:28
Category: News, Software

An update’s always appreciated.

Microsoft on Tuesday released version 14.3.7 of its Microsoft Office 2011 suite for the Mac. The update, a 113 megabyte download, features the following 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. For more information about this update, please visit the Microsoft Web site.

- Applies to: Office 2011, Office 2011 Home and Business Edition, Word 2011, Excel 2011, PowerPoint 2011, Outlook 2011, Office for Mac Standard 2011 Edition, Microsoft Office for Mac Home & Student 2011, and Microsoft Office for Mac Academic 2011.

The update can also be located and installed via the Microsoft AutoUpdate feature.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.7 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, let us know in the comments.

Microsoft launches Xbox Music streaming service for iOS, Android devices

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 9th, 2013, 09:05
Category: iOS, News, Software

microsoftlogo

If you’re hankering for additional streaming music on your iOS device, Microsoft has its own offerings prior to Apple’s release of its iTunes Radio streaming service.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Microsoft has released Xbox Music app for iPhone. Xbox Music was first unveiled last October and allows users to listen to ad-supported or ad-free music (depending on whether they have a paying subscription or not) on their Microsoft devices, such as Windows Phone, Xbox 360 and Windows PCs.

With today’s launch on iOS and Android devices, Microsoft appears to acknowledge that it thinks Apple’s iTunes Radio could become a big player on the streaming-music front — something it hopes to stave off with the expansion of Xbox Music.

Today’s release of the app offers users the following:
- Stream ad-free music from a catalog of tens of millions of songs.

- Add songs, albums and playlists to your Xbox Music collection and access them from other devices.

- Create playlists that sync across your phone, Xbox 360, PC, tablet and the web.

- Listen to music while using your iPhone.

- Listen to artist-based radio stations.

- Enjoy a rich visual experience for searching, viewing and playing back music.

- The company also says it will be releasing an update soon that will allow users to download music for offline listening.

Though Xbox Music is a free download, mobile users will be required to have an Xbox Music Pass to listen to the service on their iPhone. Xbox Music Passes are available for a free 30-day trial, but retail for US$9.99 a month after that.

Xbox Music requires iOS 6.0 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.

VMWare Fusion 6 released, offers Mavericks, Windows 8.1 support

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 4th, 2013, 07:24
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock the new version of a pretty useful virtualization application.

Per 9to5Mac, VMware has just released the immediate availability of VMware Fusion 6 and VMware Fusion 6 Professional. The new version of the virtualization software boasts over 50 new features and is prepared for the new operating systems coming from both Apple (Mavericks) and Microsoft (Windows 8.1).


vmware-fusion-6

The new version offers the following fixes and changes:
- Supports Mavericks multi-display features and even AirPlay displays.

- Enhanced dictation support.

- Run Mavericks as a guest operating system – can be installed using the recovery partition in just a couple of clicks.

- Ready for Windows 8.1.

- Built-in optimizations for the Haswell processors.

- Up to 16 virtual CPUs, 64GB of RAM, and 8TB of disk space – ready for the new Mac Pro coming soon.

- VMware Fusion 6 is available exclusively on the VMware Online Store for US$59.99 or US$49.99 for VMware Fusion 4 or 5 upgraders. A 30 day trial is available as well.

The announcement comes just days after Parallels announced the release of Parallels Desktop 9, which is currently available as an upgrade. The full version will be available tomorrow. We’ll have a full review of both apps shortly.

Generally Parallels is geared toward single users and has better performance whereas VMware is geared toward larger enterprise and folks who also work on PCs.

VMWare 6 requires any 64-bit capable Intel-based Mac with a Core 2 Duo processor or better, 2 GM of RAM, 750MB free disk space and OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run.

Microsoft purchases Nokia’s Devices and Services division, moves to rearrange executive lineups

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013, 06:53
Category: News, wireless

microsoftlogo

Because it’s fun to buy multi-billion dollar companies.

Per The Mac Observer, Microsoft is buying Nokia’s cell phone business for about US$5 billion and tossing in another US$2.2 billion to license the company’s patents. The deal throws together two big time companies that are struggling to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung, brings Nokia CEO Stephen Elop — a former Microsoft executive — back into the fold, and shows Microsoft is serious about playing in the smartphone game. All this as current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has announced he will step down within 12 months, although now it’s looking like that may come much sooner than he thought.

As part of the €5.44 billion (about US$7.2 billion) deal, Mr. Elop will step down as Nokia’s CEO and take on the roll of Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Devices and Services. Other Nokia executives joining Microsoft include Chris Weber, Jo Harlow, Timo Toikkanen, and Juha Putkiranta.

Microsoft has had limited success in the smartphone market taking on Apple’s iPhone and Google Android-based devices from Samsung and other companies. Nokia threw its weight behind Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform about two years ago, and has since been able to climb above BlackBerry’s marketshare to become a very distant third to iOS and Android-based smartphones.

With Nokia’s Windows-based Lumia smartphone now in Microsoft’s hands, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see a strong push to boost sales. Exactly how Microsoft can go about convincing consumers to start buying the smartphone, however, maybe something of a trick since shoppers haven’t been flocking to the device in droves. So far, consumers are still far more interested in buying iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.

Whether or not Microsoft can really be successful at its slow-and-steady game this time isn’t, however, a sure thing. Apple and Android smartphone makers hold nearly all of the market share today and aren’t showing any signs of loosening their grips.

Apple is expected to unveil new iPhone models on September 10, and Samsung, HTC and Motorola are churning out new Android-based smartphones as fast as they can. Microsoft has maybe a year ahead of it during during which it will integrate Nokia into its business, plus it’s on the hunt for a new CEO who will need time to settle into the job.

Mr. Ballmer said he plans to step down within 12 months, implying that it may be that long before his replacement is found. Finding a new CEO could take that long, although Microsoft is already on the hunt, and it’s very possible the company just bought their new boss and picked up their own smartphone business as a side bonus.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.