SkyDrive OS X client pics, specs leaked, iCloud may have worthwhile competitor

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Date: Tuesday, February 21st, 2012, 07:10
Category: Rumor, Software

If you’re not totally enthralled with iCloud at all times, Microsoft is working to ensure that there are options.

Per Germind, Microsoft is readying a significant update to SkyDrive in Windows 8, and reportedly leaked screenshots of the revamped file syncing and cloud storage service show that a Mac OS X client could be poised to compete with Apple’s iCloud.

Also of note are paid storage options that can be purchased in 20GB, 50GB or 100GB flavors for approximately US$10, US$25 or US$50 per year, respectively.

The extra space will supplement the already copious 25GB in free storage offered by SkyDrive. In comparison, iCloud only offers 5GB of free cloud storage, however Apple’s system does not count Photo Stream, iTunes’ media, apps and iBooks against the limit.

According to Microsoft’s blog, the Metro-style cloud-based Windows 8 app will share characteristics with Dropbox in that users can sync and backup certain files automatically, though SkyDrive goes further and allows limited remote access to files not synced to the cloud. Maximum file size for remote file fetching is pegged at 2GB.

Additional shots have also leaked through liveside.net that showed SkyDrive would support file sharing through social networks like Twitter and Facebook, BitLocker recovery keys, OpenDocument files from Office Web Apps and URL shortening.

iCloud’s current file-syncing implementation is aimed mainly at iOS users who can backup device profiles and data to the cloud. Apple’s free service does support certain automatic syncing to OS X programs such as Photo Stream and a clunky Pages document syncing procedure, but the process is not as smooth as other third-party solutions.

This situation could change when OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is released this summer as many iOS features like Notification Center and iMessage will be ported to the desktop operating system, though no official word has been given regarding iCloud upgrades.

Apple has invested heavily in iCloud, and the service which was introduced alongside iOS 5 could be getting more features, as previous reports that the company offered to buy Dropbox in a failed nine figure deal point to a definite interest in automatic file storage and syncing.

The SkyDrive update is set to launch later this year with support for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 already announced.

It remains to be seen which Windows 8 SkyDrive features will be implemented in the rumored Mac client, if any, and to what extent the service will affect iCloud.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple release Mac OS X 10.7.3 build 11D50 to developers with no known issues

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Date: Wednesday, January 25th, 2012, 05:44
Category: News, Software

If you’re hankering for the Mac OS X 10.7.3 update, you probably won’t have much longer to wait.

Per MacNN, a week after the last release, Apple has again posted build 11D50 of the upcoming Mac OS X 10.7.3 for developers. The new version lists no known issues and again asks testers to focus on iCloud Document Storage, Address Book, iCal, Mail, Spotlight, and Safari. The build weighs in at 1.26GB for the combo update, and 997.01MB for the delta release (reversioners are no longer required).

While the company hasn’t identified any issues in several builds now, each subsequent releases is slightly larger than the one before it, suggesting that Apple is still tweaking the codebase. The main features of 10.7.3 are expected to be support for several new languages and issues relating to smart card authentication, Windows file sharing and directory services authentication. Testers are cautioned that they cannot revert to an earlier version of OS X once the beta 10.7.3 is installed.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the current build and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

MSI demoes external Thunderbolt-based GPU for Apple notebooks at CES

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Date: Wednesday, January 11th, 2012, 05:49
Category: Accessory, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro

Ok, this is interesting.

Over at CES this week, MSI is showing off a new external graphics solution that can connect to a Mac through a high-speed Thunderbolt port. Per AnandTech, the MSI GUS IIrelies on the high bandwidth capacity of the 10Gbps Thunderbolt port found on the latest Mac models, including the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

“The external chassis features a Thunderbolt interface and an internal PCIe slot,” Anand Lai Shimpi noted. “Despite running on a MacBook Pro there is currently no OS X support for the solution, but it does work under Windows. Presumably if there’s OS X support for the GPU inside the enclosure it would work under OS X as well.”

No timeframe for launch or price for the external GPU were given, but the product could be a solution for users who want more graphics processing power for their MacBook when it’s in use at home. The GPU featured in the MSI GUS II must be powered by PCIe alone, as there are no auxiliary power connectors inside the device.

Thunderbolt-based external drives have also been prevalent at CES this year. Seagate plans to ship by the middle of this month adapters that will allow existing Seagate GoFlex drives to fit into a Thunderbolt slot, while Western Digital plans to release new Thunderbolt drives by the middle of 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop updated to 7.0.15054.722853

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Date: Monday, January 9th, 2012, 04:04
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, Parallels released version 7.0.15054.722853 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 304 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Linux 3.2 kernel (used in Ubuntu 12 and others).

- Fedora 15 kernel.

Parallels Desktop 7 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

Rumor: Apple to ship iPad 3 in March, iPad 4 in October

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Date: Friday, January 6th, 2012, 07:20
Category: iPad, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make technology interesting.

Per DigiTimes, component makers in Taiwan have stated that the so-called “iPad 3″ will launch in March with a high-resolution Retina Display, like is found on the iPhone and iPod touch. That will be followed by an “iPad 4″ with “killer applications” set to launch in October.

The report claimed that Apple is planning to launch the fourth iPad quickly in October to counter a rumored Google-branded tablet as well as touchscreen devices running Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. The Taiwanese industry publication said the fourth iPad will feature “much upgraded hardware specifications and integrated applications so as to compete with an array of Android-, Wintel- or WoA (Windows on ARM)-based tablet PCs to be released in the fourth quarter.”

As for the third-generation iPad, the report said it will feature a QXGA display with a resolution of 1,536-by-2,048 pixels. It will also sport longer battery life, but reportedly “may not be so amazing as expected.”

Finally, the publication also reiterated belief that Apple will continue to sell the current iPad 2, but will drop its price to US$399, much like Apple currently does with older iPhone models. Such a move is believed to be in an effort to counter lower priced tablets that are available, such as the Kindle Fire for US$199.

Of course, Friday’s report should be taken with a heavy dose of skepticism, as similar rumors surfaced numerous occasions last year that Apple planned to launch a third-generation iPad in 2011. That, of course, never came to be, and Apple stayed true to its promise of 2011 being the “Year of iPad 2.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Boxee updated to 1.5, sings swan song for Mac OS X, Windows versions

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Date: Monday, December 26th, 2011, 09:05
Category: News, Software

The good news: There’s a nifty new version of Boxee available for the Mac.

The bad news: This will be its final version for the Mac.

Per Electronista, Boxee marked a swansong for its desktop app with the launch of version 1.5. The new version, an 82 megabyte download, has a newly refreshed interface with quicker access to the browser and the menu appearing as an overlay with quicker search. Movie and TV sections have been given their own updates, such as easier navigation by genres and sources, more details, and a better way to check for unwatched video episodes.

The app requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run. Its release is the last official desktop version and will be pulled after late January, when the interface comes to Boxee’s own hardware with the Live TV Tuner add-on.

Andrew Kippen from the company explained the decision to axe the desktop app as a virtue of a widening gap between the software version and what the team was allowed to do with the Boxee Box. Limitations on certification and copy protection imposed by Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, and others prevented Boxee from offering much of what it wanted.

TV was also more likely to be driven by dedicated hardware, Kippen argued. Along with the Boxee Box, it saw Internet-aware Blu-ray players and TVs leading the charge as well as sharing-capable smartphones and tablets. Makeshift setups with computers hooked up to TVs were less likely to stay.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases SkyDrive app for iPhone, offers free cloud storage in process

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Date: Wednesday, December 14th, 2011, 06:43
Category: iPhone, News, Software

It’s surprising but it could be useful.

Per the cool cats at The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Microsoft has just released an iPhone app for access to the free Microsoft SkyDrive cloud storage service. SkyDrive for iPhone should make Windows users who have documents stored in the cloud happy.



Users can upload videos or photos created on the iPhone to SkyDrive using the app, which takes up about 4.4 MB on the device. SkyDrive users can access all of their content, including files that someone has shared with them. Likewise, any file can be shared by sending a link via email.

The app also provides a way to create and delete folders from the iPhone. Users of Hotmail, Microsoft Messenger, and Xbox LIVE already have SkyDrive accounts and anyone else who’d like to give it a try can sign up for a new account at SkyDrive.com.

The SkyDrive app is available for free and requires iOS 4.0 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.

Rumor: Microsoft may ship Windows 8 public beta in late February

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Date: Friday, December 2nd, 2011, 05:27
Category: Rumor, Software

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Windows 8: It’s on its way, though it might take a little while to get here.

Per TNW, Microsoft’s Windows 8 public beta might have been moved further into the year. A rumor from “sources close to Microsoft” has the release tentatively slated for late February, more than a month after the CES expo intro hinted earlier. It’s not known if this was a delay or always part of the schedule.

The developer preview version released in September was in a rough state, missing e-mail and otherwise being in a state only really suitable for third-party app testing. A beta is defined as feature-complete, however, and it’s likely that any delays might be to polish the release for regular users.

A public beta so late would rule out an April release to manufacturing. Microsoft always produces at least one release candidate build and rarely turns so quickly. Talk of a June or later completion date and a second-half 2012 release are more likely.

If true, the timing could create problems for Windows 8 and Microsoft’s attempts to reclaim the tablet space. The first truly touch-native Windows tablets may not be on the market until 2.5 years after the iPad, and possibly months after the iPad 3 appears.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft developing Office update for Lion, Office apps for iOS

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Date: Wednesday, November 30th, 2011, 05:19
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

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Give Microsoft time and it’ll eventually get its products to new platforms.

Per The Daily, Microsoft is preparing a new edition of its Office suite for Apple’s iPad, as well as an updated Office for Mac OS X Lion users.

According to the report, Microsoft is “actively working on adapting its popular software suite for Appleā€™s tablet,” in recognition of the fact that iPad now accounts for the vast majority of tablets sold, and now represents a market nearly as large as Mac OS X itself.

The report also notes Microsoft is working to complete Office 2012 for Windows, already in beta, for release next year. An updated edition for Lion would presumably be made available through the Mac App Store. The existing Office 2011 only supports Snow Leopard officially.

By adding support for Lion document features such as Auto Save and Versions, Microsoft could bring its Mac Office into parity with Apple’s iWork suite, which has been updated for Lion but hasn’t been significantly revised since the release of “iWork 09″ nearly three years ago.

On iOS, Apple has enjoyed an uncontested run at providing its iWork productivity software for the iPad, as well as the smaller screen of the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s Pages, Keynote and Numbers apps for iOS have remained at the top of the App Store’s highest grossing iPad apps.

While failing to predict the popularity of Apple’s iOS as a mobile platform, Microsoft has made some efforts to bring its apps and services to the App Store.

The company has delivered an iPad version of its Bing search app as well as MSN Onit and OnPoint apps, and has released a Tag barcode scanner, OneNote and Windows Live Messenger clients for iPhone.

Microsoft also just announced a deal to license its enterprise protocols involved with Remote Desktop Services, Windows Azure, Active Directory and SharePoint, to third party developer Agreeya Mobility, which plans to build apps for Apple’s iOS as well as Android and other mobile operating systems.

While Microsoft has largely ignored Apple’s iOS as it worked to improve Windows Mobile 6, then build Windows Phone 7 as a viable competitor, its own mobile platforms have failed to gain traction.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

CrossOver updated to 10.2

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Date: Tuesday, November 29th, 2011, 03:41
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 10.2. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Added a workaround for a bug in Mac OS X 10.7. Many games running in a virtual desktop cause a crash. This can be resolved by setting the CX_LEAK_XPLUGIN_SURFACES environment variable.

- Work around a bug in OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard. 10.6.8 generated corrupt icon files which caused occasional Finder crashes. Now we use a different API to generate icon files which bypasses the issue.

- Changed behavior of group permissions on certain files. Resolves an issue with .docx files on certain file systems.

CrossOver 10.2 retails for US$69.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.