Microsoft VP highlights Windows 8 interface changes, emphasizes upcoming Ribbon features

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Date: Tuesday, August 30th, 2011, 04:18
Category: iOS, News, Software

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If Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) was starting to look like Windows 7 (or vice versa), this might be reassuring.

Per a blog entry by Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft’s president of its Windows Division, indicates that one key element of Windows 8 will take the new release in a very different direction than Apple’s outline for Mac OS X.

Sinofsky detailed his thinking behind changes planned for Windows Explorer, which is roughly analogous to Mac OS X’s Finder.

The Windows file system manager originally appeared as “MS DOS Executive,” which exposed DOS commands in a graphical environment with little similarity to the icon-centric Mac desktop.

As Windows began to grow in popularity, Microsoft created an embellished graphical representation of the file system with File Manager. Then, as web browsing became popular, Microsoft brought a browser-like interface to the file system, renaming File Manager as Windows Explorer, complete with a URL-like address bar and prominent back button.

Microsoft has incrementally incorporated Mac-like interface elements in Windows Explorer, with icon-centric file browsing that links documents to their preferred application. Particularly since the release of Mac OS X, Microsoft has incorporated a similar user environment focus that presents the user’s documents, pictures, music and videos rather than just a raw window into the root file system.

Microsoft’s biggest changes in Windows 8 will be an Office-like Ribbon that presents all the major functions in a tall, window-wide control bar. This marks a radical change in thinking compared to Apple’s increasingly minimalistic interface in the Finder, which limits the default buttons to a grouping of view options, a new sorting feature in Mac OS X Lion, a Quick View button, an Action button, and a search field.



Microsoft’s Windows 8 Explorer presents 19 visible buttons in five categories, and that’s just the Home tab. The Ribbon also supplies four other tabs, which function similar to the Mac’s main Menu Bar. Sinofsky explains, “The Home tab is the heart of our new, much more streamlined Explorer experience. The commands that make up 84% of what customers do in Explorer are now all available on this one tab.”

Outside of the graphical interface, Microsoft’s design goals for Windows 8 also mark a new era of computing centered around mobile devices such as tablets. Existing Windows 7 apps won’t run on future ARM-based tablets, but a new secondary environment of web-based apps will, something Microsoft hopes will enable Windows to remain relevant even as the conventional PC market has plateaued and begun to shrink globally.

Apple’s design direction for Mac OS X has opted to incorporate a variety of design elements originally created for iPad, including a simplified, window-less Full Screen mode for apps; limited and simplified control buttons in toolbars; an increasing use of touchpad gestures; and a new security model that encapsulates apps and their documents in a private sandbox.

Apple’s iOS originally appeared on the iPhone without any “file browser,” and even the latest version works hard to avoid any exposure of the underlying file system, despite supporting document-centric apps like iWork. Apps on iOS simply can not present a global view of the underlying filesystem, because all they can see is their own sandbox.

Apple’s iCloud similarly reduces the exposure of file system, replacing MobileMe’s iDisk with a new Documents and Data feature that secures an app’s files and data from access by malware while making the user’s files (and any changes) easier to manage across various devices.

Future versions of Mac OS X will likely continue along the same path, focusing upon self contained apps that create files, rather than a wide open file system (and the security issues related with having any piece of user-level software capable of accessing or wiping out any files in the local user folder).

Yes, the Ribbon shall rule the day after you boot up your Windows partiion either via Boot Camp or your virtualization app of choice.

All hail the Ribbon!!!

Cocktail 5.0 (Lion Edition) released

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Date: Monday, August 29th, 2011, 09:06
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, shareware developer Maintain released version 5.0 of Cocktail (Lion Edition), Cocktail, the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Added Mac OS X 10.7 compatibility.

- Miscellaneous bug fixes and overall improvements.

- Updated Automator actions.

- Revised Help files.

Cocktail 5.0 retails for a US$19.00 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

Apple seeds updated Mac OS X 10.7.2 build, iCloud beta 9 to developer community

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Date: Monday, August 29th, 2011, 03:25
Category: iCloud, News, Software

Apple on Friday supplied developers with a new beta build of Mac OS X 10.7.2, as well as iCloud for Lion beta 9 for testing purposes, just a few days after the last beta builds were issued.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the latest beta of Lion 10.7.2 said it is known as build 11C43 and carries no known issues. Developers have reportedly been asked to focus on AirPort, AppKit, GraphicsDrivers, iCal, iChat, the Mac App Store, Mail, Spotlight and Time Machine.

Beta builds of Mac OS X are meant for testing purposes only, and are available to members of the Mac Developer Program. The last major update to Lion came just last week in the form of Mac OS X 10.7.1, packing fixes for Wi-Fi reliability, HDMI output resolutions, and optical audio output.

The last beta build of Mac OS X 10.7.2 was issued to developers this Monday. It came along with iCloud beta 8, and similarly on Friday, the new build of 10.7.2 debuted alongside iCloud for Lion beta 9.

iCloud for OS X Lion beta 9 is an add-on installer for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion that adds in-development iCloud functionality to Macs for developers.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new builds, please let us know what you make of it via the comments.

Apple releases iMac Graphics Firmware Update 3.0

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Date: Thursday, August 25th, 2011, 03:12
Category: iMac, News, Software

Amidst a wild series of events at Apple yesterday, the company released its iMac Graphics Firmware Update 3.0, a 482 kilobyte download designed to fix a graphics issue that may cause an iMac to hang under certain conditions.

Apple doesn’t specify which iMac models the firmware update targets, but the package will only install on applicable models and requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run. iMacs that need the update can download it through Software Update or from Apple’s download page.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback, please let us know.

Roxio Toast Titanium 11.0.4 update released

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Date: Wednesday, August 24th, 2011, 11:16
Category: News, Software

Late Thursday, Roxio released version 11.0.4 of its Toast Titanium authoring software. The new version, available here, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Resolves several compatibility issues related to Mac OS X 10.7.

- Audio effects are now carried over to duplicated items correctly.

- Large AVCHD archive projects now display the correct number of required discs.

- You can now burn a Mac Volume project after canceling a previous Mac Volume project VCD and SVCD projects with merged clips should no longer cause errors when burning or writing a disc image.

- Resolves issue where thumbnail and video preview window appear green for specific MKV video files.

- Resolves an issue related to burning projects with MPEG-2 TS streams.

- Note: SDX (Spin Doctor) is not currently supported on Mac OS X 10.7.

Toast Titanium 11 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and retails for US$99.99.

If you’ve tried the new update and noticed any changes, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Epson 2.8 drivers for Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7

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Date: Wednesday, August 24th, 2011, 04:58
Category: News, Software

Let’s face it, you’re going to need functional printer drivers for your Mac.

Per Macworld, Apple on Tuesday released its 2.8 Epson driver update, released Tuesday.

The updated driver provides updated support for Epson’s entire line of printers, scanners, fax machines, and multi-function machinery when connecting to a Mac running OS X 10.6. The update is available as a 962 MB download size from Apple’s Support website.

The update can also be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve installed the update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.2 build, eighth iCloud beta to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011, 07:39
Category: News, Software

It’s the updates that make things interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple recently issued a new build of Mac OS X 10.7.2 along with the eighth beta release of iCloud for Lion.

According to people familiar with the release, Apple’s beta build 11C40 of Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2 is a 730MB download. Focus areas for the update include AirPort, AppKit, Graphics Drivers, Mac App Store, Mail and Spotlight.

iCloud for OS X Lion beta 8 is an add-on installer for OS X Lion that add in-development iCloud functionality to Macs.

The first external beta of Mac OS X 10.7.2 arrived in late July. Mac OS X 10.7.1 was released to the public last week, with improvements to Wi-Fi and fixes to audio out.

Apple released Lion via the Mac App Store on July 20, quickly selling more than a million copies in 24 hours. According to one analyst, Mac sales got a 26 percent boost in July from Lion’s launch and the release of updated MacBook Airs and Mac Minis.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the beta, please let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Apple releases iTunes 10.4.1 update

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Date: Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011, 02:21
Category: News, Software

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Late Monday, Apple also released iTunes 10.4.1, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 90.3 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Fixes a problem where the media keys on some third-party keyboards work inconsistently with iTunes.

- Addresses issues with adding artwork to songs and videos.

- Resolves an issue which may cause iTunes to become unresponsive when purchasing an HD movie.

- Fixes a problem where iTunes may take longer than expected to open after waking your Mac from sleep.

- Addresses issues with VoiceOver support.

iTunes 10.4.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Onyx 2.4.0 released, now available for use with Mac OS X 10.7

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Date: Monday, August 22nd, 2011, 04:52
Category: News, Software

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Onyx, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.4.0. The new version, a 6.6 megabyte download adds the following fixes and changes:

- New version for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion only.

Onyx 2.4.0 requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

Controversy surfaces over Kagi’s VisualHub updater

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Date: Wednesday, August 17th, 2011, 11:41
Category: News, Software

There’s good news and bad news.

The good news: VisualHub, a beloved video converter utility that exported to roughly nine zillion formats but was discontinued in 2008, has been updated with support from the author.

The bad news: It apparently wasn’t updated in a way that the author, Tyler Loch, approved of. Per Macworld, Kagi, a popular payment processor for independent software developers, recently began selling a US$5 Lion-compatibility patch for the discontinued-in-2008 VisualHub video converter that Loch stated he didn’t authorize—and isn’t getting paid for. Kagi has taken steps to defend the move, arguing that it’s merely helping less tech-savvy customers that the developer abandoned.

Though Loch no longer offers support for VisualHub, Loch did post updated files and instructions for getting VisualHub to work under Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”).

After receiving complaints from customers about Lion compatibility, however, Kagi—VisualHub’s former payment processor—decided to offer its own vHub Updater for VisualHub patch for US$5, without informing Loch.

Per the article, representatives from Kagi explained that the US$5 updater Kagi now sells merely wraps the updates that Loch offers on his own site in a more usable interface. Loch’s instructions for updating VisualHub require copying a trio of AppleScript files into the app’s package contents; he also recommends installing an updated copy of the open source conversion utility ffmpeg.

The Kagi app “downloads his patches, and we also download the new ffmpeg,” installing all necessary files without additional user involvement. The updater avoids altering your original copy of VisualHub, instead creating a duplicate application called “VisualHub Lion.”

At this point, there’s a significant amount of back and forth between Loch and Kagi, representatives from Kagi stating that, with regard to the vHub Updater, “we would be pleased if Tyler was to release an updater that performs the function that our vHub Updater performs,” Nethery said. “His users deserve better than to be completely abandoned in 2008 and to be asked to be technical enough to edit an application package. We just want the customers to get the support they deserve.”

For his part, Loch pointed out that—though open-source forks of the code at the center of VisualHub exist—“VisualHub, as it exists in the world, is not. I gave no permission and had no prior knowledge of Kagi hosting, redistributing, and indirectly selling the components I wrote in [vHub Updater].”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.