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 →
This morning, the crazy 16-month ride is over, as the ASUS Eee Keyboard has begun shipping via Amazon. Originally slated to be released in June of 2009, the Eee Keyboard was delayed until August, then October, and then fell off the face of the Earth until pre-orders finally kicked off last month. Running Windows XP, the Eee Keyboard packs an entire computer — complete with an Intel Atom N270 processor at 1.6 GHz, 1GB RAM, 16GB SSD, Wi-Fi b/g/n, HDMI out, built-in 5″ WVGA multitouch display and a battery rated for 4 hours — into the pretty tiny frame of a keyboard. Want in? That’ll be $599.
Thanks to our tipsters! 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.
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.
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.