With the advent of intelligent one-to-one file sharing solutions such as Streamfile and the increasing popularity of great cloud storage and sharing solutions such as Dropbox and Syncplicity, FTP’s days are numbered. Why bother with unsightly FTP software and annoying server settings when a solution like Syncplicity will allow you to securely share any directory in about five seconds? The answer: You don’t have to. Massachusetts-based ExpanDrive offers two solutions, one for Mac and one for PC, that will make you look at FTP in a whole new light and think twice before shelling out big bucks for a trendy cloud storage solution.
If you’ve tried Microsoft’s Windows 7 beta for any period of time, odds are you’re pretty impressed with its performance. Many call it what Vista should have been and we’re not so sure that’s a bad thing – remove the stigma from Vista, make some key (major, at times) tweaks and you’re left with a solid OS. If you’re in the seemingly massive group of unhappy Vista customers however, the questions are now twofold: 1. Are you ready to trust Redmond again and embrace 7? 2. How much cash are you willing to drop in the process? Courtesy of an anonymous Ars Technica tipster we may now have our first glimpse at Microsoft’s pricing scheme once 7 drops:
- Windows 7 Starter: $199
- Windows 7 Home Premium: $259
- Windows 7 Professional: $299
- Windows 7 Ultimate: $319
Now before flames rain down, let’s start at the beginning. This is not upgrade pricing, this is fresh box pricing. We do have a bit of good news today in the form of confirmation from Microsoft that it will be offering a Windows 7 upgrade package for those of us still running XP, though the news is somewhat sullied by the fact that an upgrade will require a complete wipe. So with that out of the way, this rumored pricing isn’t terrible. It places entry-level pricing at the same level as Vista and knocks $80 off the Ultimate edition, though we know Ultimate will only be available during promotional periods. Home Premium pricing jumps up by $20 which seems a tad odd, while Professional maintains its $300 price tag. Given that the price model was hardly among notable barriers for Vista we wouldn’t be surprised if these prices indeed end up hitting shelves. As far as upgrade pricing is concerned, we would expect it to stick close to Vista as well. While the base upgrade price for Vista is $99 however, Microsoft should get a little saucy with 7 and show us a $77 limited-time launch price on the Starter edition. Make it happen, Redmond.
To say Microsoft’s handling of Windows 7 to date has been nothing short of excellent would be an understatement. To paraphrase, the world wants 7. Working towards a very stable beta release and then making it available to the general public was a very smooth move – it showed the tech blogosphere, Vista’s harshest collective critic, that hope is not lost. 7 is fast, 7 is capable and most importantly, 7 is usable. The fun couldn’t last forever though and Microsoft announced last night that the public availability of the Windows 7 beta is coming to an end. Those of you who still haven’t gotten around to download the beta will have until February 10 to begin the process as no new downloads can be initiated as of that date. As the ISO is massive however, those who initiate downloads before the deadline will have until February 12 to complete them. Beta product keys will continue to be available after the deadline though, so stragglers need not worry. The key for Redmond now is to work tirelessly to ensure upcoming milestones are met and Windows 7 is rolled out on time. The world is high on 7 right now and the longer it has to wait for its next taste, the more people will have forgotten this round of praise.
Microsoft and Mickey Rourke have more in common than you might think. Both went from being desirable to being painfully tolerated in an instant and both are now poised to make huge comeback. At this point we’re even giving slightly better odds to Windows 7 over The Wrestler, following the massive demand for Microsoft’s first publicly available 7 beta. Oh, and Windows install discs are made of plastic, just like Rourke. As announced by Ballmer during his keynote at CES, Redmond made Windows 7 available to the world yesterday, for free, but many have noticed that all download links have mysteriously disappeared from the 7 page. Did Microsoft change its mind? Of course not — it did hugely underestimate the demand for its upcoming OS however and the mass of PC users eager to check out the OS so many have been praising proved to be a bit too much for Microsoft’s servers to handle. Don’t worry folks, if you didn’t get there quickly enough to snag your copy of the ISO it should only be a short while now before it goes live again. Microsoft is working overtime beefing up the Microsoft.com infrastructure so it can handle the rush a bit more smoothly and once all of the Tetris blocks are in place, downloading can resume. Sure, it’s hard to say Microsoft is on the brink of a comeback since the company still owns over 89% of the computer OS market, but its Vista-scarred image will no doubt benefit from the homerun Windows 7 is hoping to hit.
So let it be written, so let it be done. During Steve Ballmer’s decidedly humdrum keynote yesterday evening, the Microsoft CEO made several announcements that were less than surprising. In fact, the majority of Ballmer’s key points were leaked earlier this week. One simple statement however, has the tech blogosphere buzzing and rightfully so. That statement: “I’m thrilled to announce the availability of the Windows 7 beta.” Despite the fact that everyone and their 10-year-old torrent-traversing nephew has already gotten their hands on unofficial builds of Microsoft’s upcoming revival OS, the beta release of 7 marks the start of what is looking like a huge (HUGE) turning point for Microsoft. It’s not exactly a state secret that Vista has been a low point for the company; love it or hate it, the OS has a negative stigma that has been a blemish on Redmond since Vista was first previewed. With each passing day and each new mention of Windows 7, the dark and dingy room that Microsoft had been trapped in gets a bit brighter. Rumors of July upgrade availablility are one thing, but the official public release of the Windows 7 beta is big, big stuff. When it becomes available tomorrow, anyone with a PC and about 45 free minutes (yup, it can be installed in as little as 45 minutes) should download Windows 7 from http://www.microsoft.com/windows7 – you can be sure we will.
According to a report this morning from Techarp, Microsoft may be making Windows 7 upgrades available a bit sooner than expected. Beginning July 1 of this year, Microsoft will supposedly be providing an affordable upgrade option to all Vista users. A similar move was made during the XP – Vista transition in an effort to encourage PC purchases during the months leading up to a new OS release. While a rocky launch and a harsh stigma prevented resulted in the general refusal of the upgrade option for Vista, a similar Windows 7 program would likely be welcomed with open arms. Since the Windows 7 beta leaked onto the internet recently, the upcoming Microsoft OS has been widely acclaimed despite its early beta status. Tremendous speed and stability improvements have been reported along a host of other enhancements that should distance Windows 7 from its whipping-boy predecessor, Vista. It just goes to show you – advertising is a great and necessary tool but actions speak far louder than words. Say you have a great OS and someone might believe you. Build a great OS and your product can do the talking.
[Via Silicon Alley Insider]
This is definitely not what Microsoft had in mind when it launched its recent $300mm ad campaign. In what can only be described as a coup for distributors, Microsoft has given in to the pressure and extended XP’s stay of execution. Redmond has indeed confirmed that January 31, 2009 is no longer the end of the road for XP PC sales. Instead, January 31 is now the final date on which distributors can place orders for Windows XP OEM licenses and orders can be filled through May 30 of next year. For you, the end user, this means that Vista will not be your only Windows OS option for new PC purchases in the coming year as XP-powered PCs will be available for many months to come. This is no doubt viewed as a major check in the loss column within Microsoft – the company has been pushing Vista in full force lately in the hopes that it might reverse the negative connotations carried forth by Apple’s marketing and the bad tastes left behind from a bumpy launch. On the bright side of things, Microsoft can likely look forward to some massive XP license orders in early Q1 2009 that will help get its calendar year off to a flying start. Sure this likely isn’t Microsoft’s optimal situation but hey, in this day and age beggars can’t be choosers.
Microsoft higher-ups might not exactly be shaking in their boots upon hearing this news, but market research firm Net Applications has just released new information that puts the Windows OS market share at its lowest point in 15 years. That low point – 89.62%. Yes, Microsoft still holds the overwhelming lion’s share of the computer OS market and that most definitely won’t be changing any time soon. Since 2004 when Net Applications began OS market share data however, Microsoft’s market share has been steadily declining. Windows reportedly had an astounding 96.4% of the OS market in October of 2004 when Net Applications’ first report on the subject was issued. In other words, Microsoft is losing an average of 1.7% of the market each year, a trend that it certainly hopes to reverse with its recent advertising campaign and eventually with the release of Windows 7. An interesting related note – Vista currently holds approximately 20.45%, up 2.12% over the past three months. Microsoft’s recent ad campaigns have been going strong during that period so this may appear to be a small victory until XP’s market share loss of 2.36% over the same period is considered. As for Microsoft’s largest competitor, Apple’s market share now sits at 8.87% up from 6.80% in November of last year and 3.2% in November of 2004 when the first Net Applications OS report was published.
Back when Vista was announced, everyone was upset that they’d have to make significant hardware upgrades in order to accommodate the new operating system from Microsoft. Many faithful Windows users had to buy new computers because it was less expensive than making the upgrades necessary to their then-current notebooks and desktops. However, there was a slight problem involved. The original date for the “Vista Capable” campaign was slated for June 1, 2006. For one reason or another, Microsoft decided to launch it three months earlier on April 1. Some of the folks over at Intel were upset because the premature release would not give them enough time to make the chipsets necessary to run properly on Windows Vista. Now it looks as though the two company’s CEOs allegedly had a little agreement of their own – one that would misleadingly label machines with the inadequate Intel chips as “Vista Capable”. Though Microsoft and Intel employees were aware of the situation and were unhappy with it, the issue seemed to be controlled further up the corporate ladder.
The gauntlet has been thrown down and Microsoft is making it pretty clear that they’re not going to be bullied around by Apple’s advertising tactics. In England at least. Apparently, these booths aren’t just advertisements, but they’re also interactive booths. From AppleInsider:
“It’s a friggin booth where you can record your own I’m a PC video,” he said. “This is outside the Apple Store, Bullring, Birmingham, England.” He added that a trio of Microsoft staffers will be on hand to turn patrons off from the Mac for the next three days.
Microsoft staffers will be there goal-tending! Wow, this is a pretty gutsy move. One would think this is just asking for it – how can things not get intense or even hostile? Of course, it’s perfectly legal for Microsoft to put these booths right in front of Apple stores, but talk about taking it to their house and just invading their turf – ballsy! Steve Ballmer and all his buddies aren’t holding back and are pulling all the stops. What do you guys think? Good idea, bad idea? Let us know!
First is was hilarious. The Mac, Justin Long, all cool and hip with his witty retorts and his, umm, jeans. The PC, John Hodgman, all dorky with his thick glasses and his ties. Oh lordy that PC, how silly he was with all of his dumb ideas and his inferior OS. After a while, Microsoft decided to respond to the commercials with a run of its own. “I’m a PC”, responding to “I’m a Mac”, highlighted the tremendous reach of the Windows OS and the millions of people in all walks of life who use Windows. Ok, super. Can we move on now? Oh no – now a fresh crop of two new Mac ads have started running, attacking Microsoft for not saying the word Vista in its commercials in the “The V Word”, and claiming that Microsoft is spending all its money on advertising as opposed to fixing Vista in “Bean Counter”. Umm, prior to Microsoft’s current ad run did any computer company advertise on TV even 10% as much as Apple? Regardless, it’s getting dirty out there folks – we haven’t seen a smear campaign like this since, well, Obama and McCain. The bottom line is that the whole thing is getting old. Sure, fanboys will still snicker at Justin Long and all of his snappy zingers but you don’t need to sell fanboys now do you Apple? You need to sell the rest of the market and stagnant ads with a dude who was funnier when he was getting pelted in the marbles with dodgeballs might not cut it anymore. So Apple, it will behoove you to know that we’re kind of over it. It was witty, it was effective and it’s time to move on. It might be best to get rolling with a new campaign before Justin Long becomes the next Aflac duck or Geico gecko – you know, so hated that people actually vow never to give those companies a single dollar as a result. Hit the jump for the other zany new “I’m a Mac” ad.
Well there you have it. Microsoft did in fact ditch its Seinfeld / Gates campaign at least temporarily, in favor of a new run directly targeting Apple’s “I’m a Mac” ads. The new series of commercials features an eclectic bunch of people, all claiming to be PC users. The message in theory being that PCs don’t necessarily have to hide in pizza boxes to attract an interesting customer base. Instead, they are used by people in all walks of life and are “connected to over a billion others worldwide.” The slogan of this new campaign, “Life Without Walls,” is an effort to show viewers how versatile and capable PCs are – contrary to the notion conveyed in Apple’s ads. A few celebrity cameos within the first run of the “I’m a PC” series include William Gates himself, Mrs. and Mr. Eva Longoria and BGR pal Pharrell Williams. The commercials also features a number of Microsoft employees and offers an email address along with each one, including Mac commercial “PC guy” look-alike Sean Siler (email@example.com). While we think these new ads are fine and good, they’re still missing one of the key factors that makes Apple’s “I’m a Mac” commercials, and even it’s iPhone and other commercials so compelling. Features. Apple’s commercials use interesting scenarios and catchy themes to highlight actual capabilities of its products. In fact the key theme behind just about every “I’m a Mac” commercial is, “I can do this, this and this. PC can’t.” Here’s to hoping that this first “I’m a PC” run is just a little taste to get us used to the campaign and that eventually Microsoft might actually show us all of the great things about PCs as opposed to just telling us that “real people” use them. Hit the jump for two more runs of the commercial.
On Thursday, Microsoft debuted the second advertisement in its recently launched marketing campaign to improve the public perception of Windows Vista. The first advertisement was met with mixed reactions. Some people noted the comedic qualities and loved it while others failed to see the humor and thought it made no sense. This second ad places Gates and Seinfeld in a house with a semi-dysfunctional family (whose family would be normal if you had those two as house guests?). It remains to be seen whether this marketing campaign will achieve it’s goal of rejuvenating the image of Windows but one thing is for sure: It has us talking and thinking about Microsoft again, especially in the wake of some recent Apple announcements. Pretty clever Microsoft, pretty clever.
Note: The version above is the full 4:30 version, not the clipped version that is currently running on TV.