Steve Ballmer’s tenure at Microsoft has seen plenty of ups and downs, but one down that really sticks with the outgoing CEO was the failure of Windows Vista. ZDNet scored an interview with Ballmer after he announced his retirement on Friday where the longtime Microsoft chief reflected on his biggest accomplishments and his biggest missteps over the years. When it came to mistakes, Ballmer singled out all the resources devoted to Vista over the years that ate up manpower that could have been devoted to other projects. More →
We knew it wouldn’t be long before a simple solution brought Apple’s AirPlay streaming media functionality to Windows, and today the deed is done. Independent developer Apostolos Georgiadis has assembled a neat little Windows application called AirMediaPlayer that allows Apple’s iOS devices to stream music and video via AirPlay to a Windows PC. The player is compatible with Windows 7, Vista and XP, and requires .NET framework 3.5, Bonjour and Quicktime to operate. Once those installations are taken care of, AirMediaPlayer is free to use and is compatible with any AirPlay-equipped iOS device. Hit the break for a video of AirMedia Player in action, and then hit the read link to download the app. More →
Apple’s latest iOS update finally adds AirPrint to iOS devices, bringing wireless printing capabilities to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. That’s the good news. The bad news is that in order to use AirPrint, you need a compatible printer. Since very few printers are compatible at this point in time, odds are pretty good that yours isn’t one of them. Don’t worry, though — that’s where hobbyist hackers come in.
If you own a Mac [update for Windows PCs added below] and a printer, you can use AirPrint. In fact, your printer doesn’t even have to be wireless. A simple new hack using an OS X app dubbed AirPrint Hacktivator will enable printing via AirPrint for nearly anyone in a matter of minutes. Hit the jump for a guide that will get you up and running in no time. More →
Windows XP set the bar quite high when it was released back in August 2001. Barring a few security issues, XP was considered a success and is still the OS of choice for some PC users today. Microsoft followed this up with arguably their most criticised offering, Vista. Steve Ballmer, CEO of the Redmond outfit went as far as calling Vista “a work in progress” after its launch. 2009 marked the start of better days for Microsoft, a year in which they released Windows 7, a welcome refresh for PC users. Windows 7 went on to sell an impressive 240 million licences in its first year; a record for Microsoft. Today, in a blog post on Microsoft’s Dutch website, the company explained that it is working on Windows 8, however, the OS will not be due for another two years. Microsoft representatives failed to elaborate further when asked to comment by CNET. According to a leaked presentation earlier this year, Microsoft plans to introduce a native Windows app store akin to Apple’s recently announced Mac app store. Amongst other improvements, Microsoft is purportedly working on improving power efficiency and computer wake times. If you don’t believe in the Mayan calendar, 2012 should be an interesting year for Microsoft. What features are you guys pining to see in Windows 8? More →
Sometimes, company executives provide the best one-liners. Microsoft’s chief operating officer, Kevin Turner, was speaking at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C. when he let this little cherub go:
“It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their [Apple’s] Vista, and I’m okay with that.”
But the COO wasn’t done there, he also went on to say, “One of the things I want to make sure you know today is that you’re going to be able to use a Windows Phone 7 and not have to worry about how you’re holding it to make a phone call.” Burn, Kevin, burn. The quotes are funny, albeit useless, and inject some humor into the following situation: Apple’s flagship product is having several reception issues and Microsoft’s current mobile OS is two years behind the rest of the smartphone market. Wait… that’s not funny. More →
Well, the numbers for week 1 are in, and they look good for Microsoft and Windows 7. Microsoft’s latest OS venture has outpaced Vista in first week sales by, get ready for it, 234%. Not bad in a down economy for sure. The new OS has also outpaced Vista in terms of revenue: Seven has generated 83% more revenue for Redmond than the big “V” in its first week. We’ve got 7 on our fleet of machines, but how many of you out there have upgraded? What are your thoughts thus far? So far, we like! More →
Google recently issued a new beta of its infant web browser and while it touts some huge improvements over older builds, we still find ourselves hesitant to give it any real face time on our machines. Let’s start by covering the improvements: First and foremost, Google claims the new version 188.8.131.52 runs over 30 percent faster than previous builds according to benchmark tests. Wow. To jump over 30 percent from one build to the next is nothing short of incredible and in our time spent playing with it, the improvement is quite obvious. Beyond speed, Google has also added some customization options to the new tab page, tweaked the display in the Omnibox, added some basic HTML5 capabilities and added 29 themes just in case the old Google blue bored you. Long story short, the new version offers a pretty respectable bump over previous builds — but we’re still not using it. Why? The answer is simple: one product cannot be all things to all people.
It’s no mystery that when it comes to computers and the Internet, you need protection. Maybe not the kind of protection ‘ole Harry here is packing, but the stronger the better in this day and age. Most agree that there are several good free anti-virus solutions available on the market and while they may offer decent protection against the various malware floating around, there’s no substitution for subscription services such as those offered by Symantec and McAfee. Apparently, Microsoft hopes to change that stance. Codenamed Morro, Microsoft is preparing to bring a new free anti-virus solution to market that could spell trouble for competing products in the AV industry. The company’s earlier attempt at an anti-virus solution, OneCare, was anything but a success following its launch in 2006 and subsequent benching. Since then however, Microsoft has stepped up its game where marcom is concerned and to say the company is on a roll is an understatement. Morro, poised to compete with free anti-virus and entry-level paid solutions, is expected to be released soon as a public beta with a full launch slated to follow before the year is out.
Mark your calendars, Windows fans. Ballmer’s crew has just made the launch date for Windows 7 official: October 22nd, 2009. Since Microsoft first released Windows 7 to the public in beta form (and even well before then), feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, many were caught by surprise. Windows 7 is a breath of fresh air to those who were blindsided by a disastrous Vista launch and who didn’t bother to stick around to sample later, infinitely more stable/usable builds. Despite the fact that it has maintained its market share very well, Microsoft has been in a constant battle to revitalize its image since then. Efforts were hit and miss until the company’s latest effort, the Laptop Hunter campaign, which has been very well received. Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign simply rehashes the same jabs over and over at this point and with a global recession in full swing, shoppers seem much more receptive to Microsoft’s message of affordability and value than Apple’s recycled quips. If Redmond can ride the wave until October, Windows 7 could certainly be a death blow to Apple’s already-dwindling market share. That is, if we don’t see a more affordable option from Apple before then.
Back in February we reviewed a great little piece of software for OS X and Windows called Expandrive. In a nutshell, Expandrive makes interacting with FTP servers as easy as interacting with an external hard drive or a networked drive. FTP connections appear as drives and you can browse them and drag/drop files just as if you were using Finder or Windows Explorer — because, well, you are using Finder or Windows Explorer. During this past week, Expandrive announced a major upgrade in the form of version 2.0 for Mac and if you’re an Expandrive user, you need to check it out asap. Brief change log:
- All new SFTP Layer
- Up to three times faster when transferring large files
- New metadata-caching architecture that is faster and more reliable
- Experimental support to detect updates made on the server within ~20 seconds.
- Utilizes OpenSSH to take advantage of Kerberos auth, public key auth, etc on Leopard.
- Amazon S3 support — access Amazon S3 accounts like a filesystem, connecting to the root or an individual bucket
- Refreshed GUI with customizable drive icons
- In line eject/show in finder buttons
- Many many enhancements to FTP/FTPS, no longer in beta
There is a caveat, however. As the new build is essentially a new app, upgrades are not free for everyone. If you purchased Expandrive within the past 60 days, you’re good to go at no cost. If you purchased the program before then, an upgrade to 2.0 will run you $19.95. New users enjoy a 30 day free trial and then it’s $39.95 to stick with it.
You know when you’re talking about a subject you’re really passionate about and you start to head down a dangerous path? In the back of your mind, you know it’s going to come back and bite you in the ass but you don’t care at that particular moment because you’re so intoxicated with said passion… So you throw caution to the wind and keep going. Ahem. Microsoft COO Kevin Turner had this little gem to say at the MidMarket CIO Summit last week:
Vista today, post-Service Pack 2, which is now in the marketplace, is the safest, most reliable OS we’ve ever built. It’s also the most secure OS on the planet, including Linux and open source and Apple Leopard. It’s the safest and most secure OS on the planet today. Everything that we’ve learned in Vista will be leveraged in Windows 7, but certainly when we broke a lot of the compatibility issues to lock down user account controls, to lock down the ability to manipulate states and all the things, that was a very painful process for us to grow through, but we had to do it. And the reason that Windows 7 will be successful is because of the pain we took on Vista. Because from a compatibility standpoint, if it works on Vista, it will work on Windows 7. If it doesn’t work on Vista, it won’t work on Windows 7.
We’re not even going to touch this one, but please, feel free to discuss it amongst yourselves in the comments section.
We’ve been wondering how long it would take Microsoft to kick things up a notch with its responses to Apple’s I’m a Mac smear series. Times are tough these days and it looks like Microsoft is finally starting to target cost with its latest TV ad. Titled Windows Laptop Hunters, the spot features a young woman named Lauren tasked with finding a laptop that meets her requirements — “speed, a comfortable keyboard and a 17-inch screen” — for under $1,000. If she finds one, be it a Mac or a PC, Microsoft will buy it for her. You know as well as we do that the only way anyone is scoring a new Mac laptop with a 17-inch for under $1,000 is armed robbery, so you can imagine how the commercial plays out. Forgetting the fact that the Best Buy she was shopping in apparently doesn’t charge a sales tax, Lauren ends up with an HP Pavilion for $699.99; a price even the most modest MacBook can’t come close to touching. The model she walked with features a 2.1GHz AMD Turion X2 with 4GB of DDR2 RAM, 320GB hard drive, DVD-RW drive and of course a 1440×900 17-inch display — definitely a solid system.
No, we haven’t quite stooped to the level of a local politician’s attack campaign quite yet, but it’s good to see Microsoft finally showing a little spunk with its response ads. Considering the times, we imagine there are plenty more value-centric ads from Redmond on the way; at least, we hope there are. Hit the jump to watch the full commercial.
No, we’re not exactly out of the water just yet but growth in any market these days is definitely a diamond in the rough. The NPD Group released its February numbers yesterday and with both Apple and Microsoft still spending major ad dollars, PC and Mac computers saw remarkably different results. PC units sales jumped 22 percent year over year in February and revenue crept up 1.4 percent. In stark contrast, Mac unit sales were down a steep 16.7 percent and revenue dropped off a cliff, down 23.3 percent — this the month after Apple refreshed its laptop lineup, by the way. Ouch. Did Microsoft’s retaliatory “I’m a PC” ad campaign provide OEMs the adrenaline shot Microsoft was hoping for? Maybe. The simplest explanation is most often the correct explanation however, and February’s numbers likely boil down to dollars and cents. The average selling price of a PC in February was $555 while the average price of admission for a shiny new Mac was a whopping $1,500. In other words you can almost score three new PCs for the price of a Mac. Amidst a recession, the numbers speak for themselves.