microsoft

There’s a cat fight happening between Google and Microsoft. Basically, Google has a policy to publicly disclose any bugs it finds within 90 days of informing the software provider. In this case, it was a bug in Windows that allowed a person’s system to be taken over. It’s not easy to do, but possible nevertheless.

The 90 window passed with still no fix from Microsoft, so Google went ahead and published the bug for all hackers to learn. Microsoft did issue a fix just two days after Google went public, and obviously isn’t happy with Google. As a Microsoft representative wrote:

Although following through keeps to Google’s announced timeline for disclosure, the decision feels less like principles and more like a “gotcha”, with customers the ones who may suffer as a result. . .What’s right for Google is not always right for customers. We urge Google to make protection of customers our collective primary goal.”

So who’s right, who’s wrong?

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I don’t normally think much of clones, but the Remix Ultra from Jide is intriguing.

Let’s get it out of the way: it’s basically a rip-off of the Surface, right down to the aesthetics, adjustable kickstand, thin detachable keyboard cover, location of SD card and ports, etc. Even the software looks the same.

Fortunately, there are two key differences that can validate the Remix Ultra’s existence. The first is that the tablet is based on Android and with a custom launcher that’s designed for productivity. The second is price.

I’m in the middle of testing a Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 Tablet and, there’s no sugar coating it, Android is terrible for tablets right now and especially for productivity use cases.

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Microsoft is rumored to be working on a new browser for Windows 10. So new, it may not even be called Internet Explorer.

It will still use Trident, Microsoft’s web rendering engine, so it’s likely to be more about changing the user interface (to be more like Chrome) and brand than anything fundamental. However, the break is supposedly big enough that Microsoft will include both this new browser and the existing IE11 “just in case” for Windows 10.

The new browser’s primary feature is to be lightweight and fast loading; hence its code name “Spartan” within Microsoft. This is the browser designed for all devices: PCs, tablets, phones and maybe even smaller.

It will probably have native app support – similar to extensions – and I expect Microsoft to eventually port it to Android and iOS.

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Here’s a hardware feature that doesn’t receive much publicity but which I’ve come to heavily appreciate: the Surface Pro’s AC adapter. The main reason is the USB slot on the adapter itself.

Whenever I travel, I don’t like carrying more than one plug converter and feel bad asking for more from the hotel — the USB slot on the power adapter solves that. The AC adapter charges the Surface and the USB slot simultaneously charges my smartphone, and it seems to charge just as quickly as it would normally.

Genius feature! If it gets shouted about enough, hopefully other manufacturers will follow.

 

In a recent conference keynote, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner said the following:

We’ve got to monetize [Windows] differently. And there are services involved. There are additional opportunities for us to bring additional services to the product and do it in a creative way. And through the course of the summer and spring we’ll be announcing what that business model looks like. At the same time it’s wonderful to see these nine-inch and below devices explode, because that was an area, candidly, I was blocked out and I had no share of what was getting built. So it’s a very fascinating transition for us. And finding new ways to monetize the lifetime of that customer on those devices, again, I would tell you we’re learning, we’re growing, and we’re smarter and wiser every day.

The key language is “finding new ways to monetize the lifetime of that customer,” which is another way of saying that they’re shifting from a product-centric view to a customer-centric one. It doesn’t have to be Windows per se necessarily.

Many have interpreted that to mean the base OS might be free, and that Microsoft will earn via subscription or freemium. While the Redmond company will likely continue to charge enterprises and computer manufacturers, Windows and all its updates should absolutely be free to consumers. It probably will.

Although it may not look like it, Microsoft has actually been dealing with monetization questions for a long time. Back when Windows was a monopoly, it was difficult for Microsoft to add features to Windows without incurring anti-monopoly wrath. Security was one such example – the likes of Norton and McAfee lobbied hard behind the scenes to keep built-in security out of Windows.

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Chromebooks are finally getting serious about penetrating the mass market. No, it’s not better offline capabilities, though that would help greatly. And no, Minecraft is not making an appearance any time soon.

Chromebooks are getting serious because finally, Acer is releasing a 15.6-inch version of its Chromebook, supposedly on March 2015.

Months ago, I wrote about how the most popular computing device of the future will be a 15-inch tablet weighing less than 1.5 pounds with a keyboard accessory. While we are a good three to five years away from that getting there, the rationale is that the 15-inch display size is actually the most popular category of laptops.

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The $200 HP Stream 11 is an intriguing laptop — it comes with full Windows, has 32 GB of eMMC memory and houses an attractive design (though that’s subjective) — all for $200. You also get Office 365 and 1 TB of OneDrive storage for one year; and just for kicks, HP is throwing in a $25 Windows Store coupon.

That’s incredible value. If you are in the market for Office 365 and want to spend money on the app store, this laptop effectively costs $105.

Tempting!

Reviews around the web are positive. Performance is fine for low computing tasks and the laptop can even manage bigger Windows programs, albeit slowly. It boots from sleep quickly. You don’t want to overload it with too many tabs on your browser however. The keyboard is great while the touch pad is finicky. The display isn’t the greatest but average for the price. Battery life is excellent. You’ll want to buy the Signature Edition direct from Microsoft; otherwise the laptop is weighed down by bloatware.

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