The moment many Windows fans have been waiting for has arrived — sort of. We now have a video of Windows 8.1′s new Start button in action. In a video filmed this week at Computex 2013 in Taipei by IDG News, a Microsoft representative showed off how the new Start button will work on the Windows 8.1 desktop mode. Anyone who was hoping for a return of the traditional Start button in its entirety is bound to be disappointed, however: The new Start button brings up the same Live Tiles interface that users see when they exit the desktop screen. The difference, though, is that bringing up the Live Tiles menu doesn’t boot you out of the desktop screen now, acting instead as an overlay. It’s still not a traditional Start button, but a free app is available for those seeking a more traditional Windows experience. The video demonstration showing the new Start button is posted below. More →
A postdoctoral researcher at the University of Manitoba has developed a mobile app that uses depth-sensing cameras to alert people who are about to suffer collisions because they’re staring at their smartphones instead of watching where they’re going. The application, known as CrashAlert, is still in the early stages of development, but in the future it will work on smartphones that are equipped with cameras that can detect their surroundings. Juan Hincapié-Ramos, the app’s creator, tested CrashAlert using a 7-inch Acer tablet connected to Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor. The researcher then had volunteers play a mobile game while walking down a crowded hallway. More →
Is Windows Phone picking up smartphone market share in America? Two leading research firms offer opposite views on the matter. The new comScore numbers are fairly shocking — they show Microsoft’s smartphone market share dipping to 3% in the three-month period ending in April, from 3.1% in the period ending in January. This would be pretty devastating considering AT&T and Verizon both have offered fairly robust Windows Phone marketing support since December. But wait! Just few days earlier, Kantar Worldpanel stated that Windows Phone’s share in America jumped to 5.6% during the three months ending in April, up significantly from 3.2% in the period ending in January. More →
Microsoft on Wednesday posted a video walk-through of its new Windows 8.1 operating system highlighting improvements to the Start screen, search function and more. Microsoft’s new lock screen will no longer display a single static image, but will instead scroll through a collage of photos generated from a user’s PC, SkyDrive account and Windows Phone. The company has added two different Live Tile sizes to Start screen, and Windows 8.1 will deliver more personalization options with more background colors and new animated wallpapers that move as you scroll through the Start screen, called “motion accents.” More →
Microsoft is starting to get creative when it comes to selling Windows-based tablets. We learned late last week that the company had started giving away keyboards for the Surface RT for a limited time and now The Verge reports that Microsoft is throwing in Office 2013 for free on smaller Windows 8 tablets. Microsoft said that while it’s up to OEMs to bundle the software, customers who buy 7-inch or 8-inch Windows tablets in the coming months should expect most of them to come with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote already installed. Smaller Windows 8 tablets won’t have access to Outlook 2013, however Microsoft did say that they’ll likely come installed with the less comprehensive Outlook RT that’s now included for free on Windows RT tablets.
Qualcomm at the Computex 2013 trade show in Taipei on Tuesday announced that it has added support for Microsoft’s upcoming Windows RT 8.1 operating system to its high-end Snapdragon 800 processor. The quad-core chip features an integrated multimode 3G/4G LTE modem and supports speeds of up to 2.2GHz per core. The company promises a new wave of tablets, hybrids and notebooks that are “thin and fan-less, and deliver speedy performance with long lasting battery life.” Along with its four asynchronously clocked cores, the Snapdragon 800 chipset includes a new Adreno 330 graphics processor that is capable of supporting 4K resolution playback at 30 frames-per-second. Qualcomm’s press release follows below. More →
We saw plenty of promise in Windows 8 when we first previewed it back in 2012, but consumers and businesses weren’t blown away and PC sales began suffering as a result. Now that Windows 8 is seven months old, has anything changed? According to new market share data from Net Applications, which determines software market share by monitoring traffic across 40,000 difference websites, Windows 8′s share of the PC market grew to 4.27% in May from 3.82% in April. While things are certainly moving in the right direction, Windows 7′s share grew in May as well, from 44.72% in April to 44.85% last month. Worst of all, Vista’s market share of 4.51% is still greater than Windows 8′s share seven months after the new OS debuted. More →
There are still several big questions surrounding the next-generation video game consoles from Microsoft and Sony, and pricing is somewhere near the top of the list. According to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, however, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will be priced in line with expectations. The analyst on Monday issued a note ahead of E3 that looks to pinpoint pricing for these next-gen consoles. Patcher believes the Xbox One has a bill of materials (BOM) totaling $325 and the console will launch at $399. Sony’s PlayStation 4 has a BOM of about $275 according to the analyst, and it will cost $349 when it launches ahead of the holidays this year. More →
Microsoft has confirmed the departure of chief information officer Tony Scott, who was in charge of the company’s internal IT operations for more than five years. In a statement to GeekWire, Microsoft acknowledged that Scott decided to leave the company to “focus on personal projects.” It was also confirmed that Jim Dubois, the company’s vice president of IT product and services management, will serve as interim CIO until a permanent successor is found. Scott said that he plans to continue training for his pilot’s instrument rating and “work on a couple of other long delayed personal projects.” He added that he plans to “go back to ‘work’ (in some form) in a few months.”
Acer doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind about Microsoft and its new platforms. Top executives from the company have called Windows 8 a flop and bashed Microsoft for its Surface tablet, but at the same time Acer’s president Jim Wong has also defended the operating system. Microsoft is doubling down on its Windows RT platform and is looking to its manufacturing partners to help spur consumer interest with new and affordable devices to compete with low-cost Android tablets. Acer may not be one the companies willing to help Microsoft, however. Acer chairman J.T. Wang said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that Windows RT won’t be “so influential anymore,” and the company is unsure if it will release a new RT tablet. More →
Microsoft’s struggles to make inroads in the tablet market with Windows RT are well documented, but the company still seems to think it can make lemonade out of what has been described as a very large lemon. Unnamed sources tell Bloomberg that Microsoft plans to cut licensing fees for Windows RT in an effort to boost interest in the platform and cut into iOS and Android’s dominant share of the tablet market. Bloomberg notes that Acer, HP and HTC have shied away from Windows RT so far while Samsung hasn’t committed to releasing any further Windows RT products after its first RT tablet fell flat. Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, tells Bloomberg that the company desperately needs more manufacturers producing lower-cost Windows RT devices for the platform to have any kind of future.
Microsoft and Sony’s used game policies for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 remain unclear. Both companies have confirmed that their respective consoles can play used games, however they would not go into further detail. An earlier rumor suggested that Sony would incorporate some form of digital rights management (DRM) for pre-owned games, while a second report claimed that Microsoft would only allow select retailers to resell games. Gamers are becoming increasingly frustrated with both companies for not addressing the issue at hand. More →
May was a big month for big tech as sales of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 kicked into high gear, Google held its annual I/O conference and Microsoft finally took the wraps off of its next-generation Xbox One video game console. Last month was big indeed, but June is shaping up to be even bigger. Computex kicked off on Monday and we’re already seeing a flood of new computers spill out, and then the real action starts next week as Apple unveils iOS 7 with a huge redesign, along with a new version of OS X, updated Mac computers and maybe even iRadio. Samsung follows a week later with new Android and Windows devices that will likely include the Galaxy S4 Zoom and Galaxy S4 Active, and then Microsoft’s BUILD conference kicks off on June 26th and a new 8-inch version of the Surface tablet is expected. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all have big things in store for the annual E3 conference that starts next week as well, so tech fans shouldn’t expect to get much rest until July.