Tag: windows

Microsoft turns on the heat on notebooks

Microsoft campusA report said Microsoft is cutting the licence cost on Windows 8.1 in a bid to offer notebooks costing $250 or less.

Digitimes Research said manufacturers will be offered Windows 8.1 with Bing with a tentative release date of February next year.

Microsoft has the problem that people who already produce notebooks running the Windows 8.1 operating system can’t compete with tablets at retail prices of $250 or lower.  So it is aiming to mollify its partners by limiting the cheap version to notebooks with screen sizes 14-inches and below.

That’s unlikely to mollify manufacturers of notebooks – their margins are already cut to the bone.

Microsoft has been pursuing this strategy since the Computex show in June last year, but so far there hasn’t been much sign of progress.  It is worried about Google with its Chromebook device but Microsoft’s core revenues depend on fat Windows licensing fees.

Intel bullish on tablet front

Intel-Core-MA Taiwanese supplier has received strong order for Intel based Android “white box” tablets.

So says Digitimes, which quotes an insider at Insyde Software as spilling the beans. Insyde has investment from Intel inside.

He or she said Intel will ship 40 million tablet processors this year, according to the report. But as well as hoping to sell Windows tablets, the same report suggests Intel will push Android based tablets too, based on a reference design it showed off at last week’s Intel Developer Forum.

Apparently Intel is teaming up with original design manufacturers Pegatron and ECS in the hope they can bang out ultra cheap tablets.

Intel is way behind in its smartphone and tablet dreams, and is desperate to show it has what it takes to compete with ARM based microprocessors.

The chip inside with the Insyde BIOS will use entry level Bay Trail processors, says Digitimes, here.

Microsoft intros MSN beta

Microsoft campusSoftware giant Microsoft said it has introduced a beta version of its new MSN.

The company said it’s designed for a world where the cloud and mobile are the name of the game.  It has content from major worldwide media and comes with productivity tools.

The software is available on the web right now and will soon be available for Windows, Apple iOS and Android too.

Microsoft claims MSN’s existing audience is 425 million people.

Steve Lynas, the MS suit in charge of MSN, waxed lyrical about the thing. “Microsoft’s DNA is about empowerment,” he said weirdly.  “The new MSN brings together content from over 1,000 publishers with experiences that help people live fuller lives.  We’ve completely reimagined the experience to embrace this opportunity.”

Media mates include the Guardian, the Independent, Sky News and the Telegraph.  It has struck similar deals in other countries across the world.

It’s got reviews of over 1.5 million bottles of wine, and 300,000 recipes.

You can have a dekko at Microsoft’s latest rock star by clicking here.

Windows XP refuses to die

Microsoft campusData from StatCounter Global Stats showed that Windows XP s still the world’s second most popular operating system.

That’s despite the fact that earlier this year Microsoft pulled the plug on XP, apart from on embedded devices.

StatCounter said that Windows 8.1 now has more volume than Windows 8.0 – representing 7.5 percent of OS share.

Windows 7.0 refuses to go away – it has a market share of 50.3 percent in the USA, with XP on 12.9 percent.  Windows 7 is expected to be EOLed next year, forcing the world+dog over to 8.1 in preparation for the introduction of Windows 9.

The figures are based on 15 billion page views per month to over three million websites – it’s possible to distinguish between 8 and 8.1 because the latter has a distinct user agent.

StatCounter data is here.

Gmail a doddle to hack

black holeA hole in Android, Windows, and iOS makes Gmail a doddle to hack to steal personal information.

Researchers at the California Riverside Bourns College of Engineering and the University of Michigan have identified a weakness they believe to exist across Android, Windows, and iOS operating systems that could allow malicious apps to obtain personal information.

So far the attack has been tested only on an Android phone, but it is believed that the method could be used across all three operating systems because all three can access a mobile device’s shared memory.

Zhiyun Qian, an associate professor at UC Riverside aid that one app can in fact significantly impact another and result in harmful consequences for the user.”

First, a user must download an app that appears benign, such as a wallpaper, but actually contains malicious code. Once installed, the researchers can use it to access the shared memory statistics of any process, which does not require any special privileges.

The researchers monitored changes in this shared memory and can correlate see if someone is logging into Gmail, H&R Block, or taking a picture of a cheque to deposit it online via Chase Bank. They managed to hack with a success rate of 82 to 92 percent. Using a few other side channels, the team was able to accurately track what a user was doing in real-time.

It is not that easy. The attack needs to take place at the exact moment that the user is performing the action. Second, the attack needs to be conducted in such a way that the user is unaware of it.

Of the seven apps tested, Amazon was the hardest to crack, with a 48 percent success rate. This is because the app allows one activity to transition to another activity, making it harder to guess what the user will do next.

The team will present its paper, “Peeking into Your App without Actually Seeing It: UI State Inference and Novel Android Attacks” (PDF), at the USENIX Security Symposium in San Diego on August 23. You can watch some short videos of the attacks in action below.

Blue screens hit Black Tuesday

Backstreet_Boys_-_Black_&_Blue_album_coverThree different patches from this week’s Black Tuesday crop are causing Blue Screens of Da’ath,   causing some users to plunge into the abyss.

MS14-045/KB 2984615 kernel-mode driver patches, KB2976897 and KB2982791, have been implicated in triggering Blue Screen Stop 0x50 messages since users starting updating their systems this week.

Most of the people suffering from most of the glitches say they are using 64-bit Windows 7 but the  Windows 8.1 “Update 2” fix that adds the ruble character as an official currency marker in Win 8.x and Win7, KB 2970228, also seems to be causing the problem, too.

There is no word from Microsoft on the problem yet, but it would appear that if you have not upgraded your system on Patch Tuesday it might be a good idea not to do so for little while.

You just knew that something was going to go wrong when you saw the number of patches that Microsoft was asking you to install.

Microsoft released 41 updates, including one that fixed an Internet Explorer vulnerability that may allows hackers to take control of a computer.

Included in the updates were two patches that were meant to fix “critical” problems. The first one, with the title “Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer,” addresses 26 vulnerabilities: one publicly disclosed and 25 that were privately reported. In the most severe cases, the vulnerability may allow attackers to have the same rights as the legitimate user. The security hole can be exploited when a user views a malicious website using Internet Explorer. Before the patch, users who had administrative rights on their computers were more susceptible to the security flaw.

Another critical patch, with the Bulletin ID MS14-043, is meant to fix a security flaw in Windows Media Centre that may also allow for remote code execution.

Aside from the critical patches, there were updates that have been labelled as “Important.” The software that have been tapped for the patches include OneNote, SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint Server, .NET Framework and Microsoft Windows itself. The problems range from the remote code execution, elevation of privileges and security features bypass.

 

Rumours of Windows 9 emerge

Bill GatesSoftware giant Microsoft has been hinting that it will make changes in Windows 9 which should satisfy those who are using Windows 7 and will not upgrade.

While Windows 8 has been a disaster for Microsoft because it forced desktop users to conform to a tablet format and download Apps which did not function as well as their desktop version.

Word on the superinformationstrasse is that Vole is planning to further merge the Modern UI with the desktop in Windows 9 and might reduce the OS’s use for tablet users.

According to WinBeta, the cunning plan is that tablet users will see the demise of the desktop in Windows 9.  Instead Microsoft is set to replace Win32 applications with Modern UI alternatives in Windows 9, meaning Windows is set to get a full on Modern UI facelift when it rolls around next year.

This means that the desktop will no longer have a place for tablet users running Windows RT.
This fits into rumours regarding Windows Phone and Windows RT becoming one operating system. This would see Windows Phone devices and Windows RT tablets run the same operating system with no desktop.  If the device hardware requires it, a cut down version of the desktop will be available, but this is not likely to be seen much.

Vole is apparently worried about Chrome OS.  It wants to make Windows Phone free, and Windows RT being merged with it.  This will use this as the cheaper alternative for OEMs to sell tablets and cheap laptops too.

These laptops will run apps from the Windows Store just like on Chrome OS, which is limited to Chrome OS apps, the Windows Phone/RT devices will be limited to Windows Store apps.

This means that Windows 9 will be different depending on the hardware you use and you will only see a desktop if you are actually on the desktop.

Word on the street is that Microsoft will allow Modern UI apps to run in the desktop, in windowed mode, and have Modern UI apps pinned to the Start Menu instead of a Start Screen.

Tab market booms in MEA

tablet-womanWhile Western Europe and the USA are showing signs of saturation for tablet sales, it looks like some regions are continuing to boom.

A report from IDC said that PC tablets grew 111 percent year on year in the last quarter of 2013 in the Middle East and African (MEA) markets.

Shipments amounted to 3.45 million units and both the home segment and the corporate segment showed steady growth. The educational market also saw growth.

Huawei won a deal to supply around 90,000 units in South Africa in the education sector.

Android wins the game – 2.8 million units shipped up 16 percent compared to the same quarter in 2012.  iOS fell and Windows OS lost share in Q4 2013.

Top vendor was Samsung, followed by Apple, Lenovo, Asus and Huawei.

The PC market will fall further in 2014, while tablets will grow significantly, IDC said.

Tablet growth slows

ipad3Despite phenomenal growth in sales during 2013, it seems that the tablet market will slow down during this year.

That’s according to market research company IDC that said the total tablet market – including stand alone units and 2-in-1 devices – will grow by 19.4 percent this year, down from 51.6 percent in 2013.

There is slowing growth at the consumer end of the market, and average selling prices (ASPs) have fallen rapidly in the tablet market.

Prices in 2013 dropped by 14.6 percent but IDC said price erosion “has started to slowly bottom out”, meaning ASPs will only fall by 3.6 percent this year.

Tom Mainelli, who runs devices and displays at IDC, said the white box tablet market will slow this year.  In mature markets, people are sticking with their current tablets and few feel the need to upgrade them, he said.

But there’s always a silver lining to every cloud. He said that commercial shipments are set to go up and while tablet growth has largely been confined to verticals like education, in the future tablets will penetrate SMEs globally.  And that will give a boost to Microsoft Windows.

Jitesh Ubrani, a research colleague of Mainelli, thinks that Android and iOS will stay as the dominant forces although Windows could grab more than a quarter of the market in the future.

Ultraportables hold notebook hotspot

framedwindowsA report from ABI Research said that of the 22.5 million notebook shipments in 2013, the ultra portable segment held 12.3 percent of the market.

Selling prices worldwide averaged between $940 to $1,540 but the higher end represented the majority of the ultra portables sold.

Most of these machines use the Windows 8 OS, which “suffered fits and starts during 2013”, largely because of usability problems and “poor first impresions”.

ABI believes that many people and organisations are still waiting for hiccups in the OS to be sorted out.  And as tablet prices fall, many are testing the water with the slate form factor.

LTE mobile broadband will soon become a key differentiator as it reaches critical mass.

Acer turns in big loss

acer-w3Taiwanese PC maker Acer said that it lost $274 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.

That includes a chunk of money set aside to pay for depreciated stock as well as a provision of money to lay off seven percent of its staff worldwide. Executives will have to endure a 30 percent reduction in their salaries from now on.

Acer has brought in retired founder Stan Shih in a bid to turn the company around – its sales fell by 16.2 percent in 2013 compared to the year before.

Most of its woes are caused by the decline in PC sales, and it appears from the stock write-off that applies to Windows based touch notebooks.

UK turns into throwaway society

kettleA survey shows that 65 percent of Brits believe that it’s better to plump for new products rather than make do or upgrade existing ones.

Crucial, which has an axe to grind because it supplies memory upgrades, said it surveyed 2,000 people in the UK.

People want to replace old lamps for new whether they’re mobile phones, kettles, computers, microwaves, televisions and toasters.

One in five folk said they were expecting to spend between £100 and £300 replacing existing items in the next month.

A third – actually 34 percent – said if stuff broke down they’d rather replace them than try and fix them.

Roddy Mclean, from Crucial, said that people replaced products at the slightest sign of them slowing down. And here’s the axe grinding: “Lots of people are mssing a trick, as products such as home computers and laptops can easily be upgraded by their owners.”

Apparently one in five people surveyed are likely to trade in their computers for a new lamp rather than upgrading them. Over 90 percent of the people said their computer runs slowly or has difficulty booting.

Windows?  The survey didn’t ask that question.

PC market to take further plunge

surface-pro-2Research from IDC indicates that worldwide PC shipments will fall by 10.1 percent in 2013.

The market research firm said it is most severe fall since records began.

Shipments in 2014 are also set for fall by a further 3.8 percent with total PC shipments staying at 300 million.

Interest in PCs has waned, but IDC said that enterprise sales are performing far better although still falling by five percent year on year.  But, said Jay Chou, a senior analyst at the company, the long term outlook for commercial and consumer markets is not significantly different.

Even developing markets are showing a fall.

He said: “Perhaps the chief concern for future PC demand is a lack of reasons to replace an older system. While IDC research finds that the PC still remains the primary computing device – for example, PCs are used more hours per day than tablets or phones – PC usage is nonetheless declining each year as more devices become available. And despite industry efforts, PC usage has not moved significantly beyond consumption and productivity tasks to differentiate PCs from other devices. As a result, PC lifespans continue to increase, thereby limiting market growth.”

And so to PC tablets running Windows. While in 2017 it is expected to grow to 39.3 million units, from the 2013 figure of 7.5 million, such tablets will only add a few percentage points a year to PC growth.

ODM bullish about notebook sales

Flying in the face of received wisdom, Compal’s president Ray Chen is talking up notebook sales in 2014.notebooks

Compal is an original design manufacturer (ODM) – that is to say a company which makes notebooks for big brand names.

According to a report in Digitimes, Chen expects shipments to hit 40 million units next year.

But he is conservative about touchscreen notebooks, despite Microsoft’s best efforts, and thinks they’ll only account for 15 percent of shipments next year. Compal will ship 15 million tablets next year.

He told the Taiwanese wire that its customers have been placing additional orders in this final quarter and expects notebook business to increase as enterprises are forced into upgrading as Windows XP reaches the end of the road.

You can read more, here.

Microsoft is damaged – report

Windows 8.1 is unlikely to save Microsoft’s bacon and slowness in delivering an adequate OS has damaged its reputation, a report suggests.

According to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, unnamed sources in the supply chain are suggesting that there will be little or no improvement in the PC market not only this year, but into next year too.

It isn’t all Microsoft’s fault, however.  Sales of PCs are in decline because people are using tablets and smartphones more.

Even though the unnamed sources think that things are looking gloomy, nevertheless a number of vendors including HP, Lenovo, Acer and Asustek are introducing devices tailored to Windows 8.1, says Digitimes, here.