JorgeA

Windows 8 - Deeper Impressions

6,162 posts in this topic

Uh-oh:

Microsoft Plummets On Q4 Miss, Surface Tablet Losses

Microsoft (MSFT) whiffed with its fiscal fourth quarter reported late Thursday, as weak consumer sales of Windows 8 PCs dragged down revenue and earnings. It also took a $900 million charge to write down inventory of its poorly selling Surface RT tablets.

On a year-over-year basis, revenue rose 10%. Earnings per share fell 1.5% excluding the Surface RT write-down or 12% including it.

[Microsoft CFO Amy] Hood said the Surface RT "inventory adjustments" mostly stemmed from $150 discounts off the original price of $499 for the base model. The $900 million is equal to $150 discounts on 6 million Surface RT tablets. Microsoft has been heavily discounting the slates in recent weeks, and observers speculate the company might discontinue the line, which it launched with great fanfare in October.

Microsoft is a big company with a lot of divisions and products. Here are reported figures for the most relevant division for our purposes:

Revenue in Microsoft's Windows division rose 6% to $4.41 billion, but excluding deferred revenue from other quarters, sales fell 6%.

So, actual Windows sales are off 6% despite (or, as we might say, because of) the introduction of the new version of their flagship product.

The final paragraph passes along speculation that PC makers might be holding off on buying new Windows licenses 'til Windows 8.1 comes out in the fall. This sounds plausible, until we remember (correct me if I'm wrong) that Windows 7 sales remained healthy at the same point in the cycle a year ago, even as Win8 was approaching. The bottom just happened to fall out with the launch of Win8, right?

--JorgeA

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It's even worse than we thought:

NSA warned to rein in surveillance as agency reveals even greater scope

The National Security Agency revealed to an angry congressional panel on Wednesday that its analysis of phone records and online behavior goes exponentially beyond what it had previously disclosed.

John C Inglis, the deputy director of the surveillance agency, told a member of the House judiciary committee that NSA analysts can perform "a second or third hop query" through its collections of telephone data and internet records in order to find connections to terrorist organizations.

"Hops" refers to a technical term indicating connections between people. A three-hop query means that the NSA can look at data not only from a suspected terrorist, but from everyone that suspect communicated with, and then from everyone those people communicated with, and then from everyone all of those people communicated with.

How Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages

Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users' communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company's own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian.

The documents show that:

• Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;

• The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;

• The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;

• Microsoft also worked with the FBI's Data Intercept Unit to "understand" potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases;

• In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;

• Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a "team sport".

The NSA has devoted substantial efforts in the last two years to work with Microsoft to ensure increased access to Skype, which has an estimated 663 million global users.

One document boasts that Prism monitoring of Skype video production has roughly tripled since a new capability was added on 14 July 2012. "The audio portions of these sessions have been processed correctly all along, but without the accompanying video. Now, analysts will have the complete 'picture'," it says.

Eight months before being bought by Microsoft, Skype joined the Prism program in February 2011.

According to the NSA documents, work had begun on smoothly integrating Skype into Prism in November 2010, but it was not until 4 February 2011 that the company was served with a directive to comply signed by the attorney general.

The NSA was able to start tasking Skype communications the following day, and collection began on 6 February. "Feedback indicated that a collected Skype call was very clear and the metadata looked complete," the document stated, praising the co-operation between NSA teams and the FBI. "Collaborative teamwork was the key to the successful addition of another provider to the Prism system."

--JorgeA

Edited by JorgeA
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It's high vacation season, but I'll keep providing updates so that y'all can catch up when you come back.

A few posts upthread we mentioned the Windows substitution project, ReactOS. Turns out it was the June "Project of the Month" at SourceForge, and they interviewed the project coordinator who had a number of interesting things to say. Sadly, the worst one is that they're still on FAT. This may be the reason that my attempts to run the ReactOS live DVD failed with blue screens on every machine -- except on my Windows 98 box.

But anyway, there's a good comment at the bottom of the page, and which ought to serve now as the main motivator for ReactOS to get traction as an operating system that's outside the Microsoft touch-obsessed orbit but which can run our Windows applications:

Personally I prefer using the keyboard, -- the concept of Win8 smacks of dumbing down, where we are assumed to be illiterate and can only respond to pictures (like my 3 year old grand son) + poking at screens with greasy fingers is a time waster.

My tablet (a tool) is a boon, but the fingered screen (sweat and grease) inhibits reading data, especially outdoors.

--JorgeA

Edited by JorgeA
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Sadly, the worst one is that they're still on FAT. This may be the reason that my attempts to run the ReactOS live DVD failed with blue screens on every machine -- except on my Windows 98 box.

JFYI, there is much more reason to be sad :( about the ReactOS development, they IMHO completely missed a logical, prgmatical approach and spent an incredible amount of (otherwise exceptionally good) resources and talent without advancing a single bit in practice, but your blue screens have nothing to do with NTFS. NTFS is just a filesystem, a live CD without NTFS support won't be able to access a NTFS volume, that's all, no reason why it should Blue Screen because of it.

jaclaz

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The three phases business plan for the Surface RT has been written by Undrpants Gnomes:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/20/surface_rt_cashing_out_while_burning_the_cash/

The plan for Surface RT was written by the Underpants Gnomes.

Phase one: Apple is successful because it has a tablet, we build Windows tablets.

Phase Two: ?

Phase three: Profit.

Some intelligent considerations here:

http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/19/microsoft-still-hopes-youll-buy-a-surface-rt-launches-new-surface-vs-ipad-ad/

Users didn’t care that the Surface RT has a USB port and kickstand before and they won’t care now. The x86-based Surface Pro is a much more useful machine, of course, but its price ($899+ at many retailers) puts it in a different category from the RT.

And another competitor for the "Captain Obvious 2013 Award" here:

http://betanews.com/2013/07/19/surface-rt-sales-suck-and-heres-why/

There are other things as well that work against Surface RT, with one of them being Microsoft's own Surface Pro which, even though it comes with lower battery life, is an appealing tablet for current Windows users looking to take their work on the go, without having to ditch traditional software and readjust to limited mobile apps in the process. I'm certainly not alone in saying this, but I've considered buying a Surface RT only to realize that what I really need is a Surface Pro (which I'm likely going to purchase soon, come upgrade time).

It happened to me last time I was in a Volkswagen showroom, I went there to have a look at an used Polo:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VW_Polo

and suddenly realised that what I actually wanted was a new Golf R:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Golf_Mk6#Golf_R

Get real, Mihaita, you can get 2 (almost 3 now) Surfaces RT's for the price of a "real" Surface.

Would this mean that they are worth 1/3 to 1/2?

jaclaz

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Sadly, the worst one is that they're still on FAT. This may be the reason that my attempts to run the ReactOS live DVD failed with blue screens on every machine -- except on my Windows 98 box.

JFYI, there is much more reason to be sad :( about the ReactOS development, they IMHO completely missed a logical, prgmatical approach and spent an incredible amount of (otherwise exceptionally good) resources and talent without advancing a single bit in practice, but your blue screens have nothing to do with NTFS. NTFS is just a filesystem, a live CD without NTFS support won't be able to access a NTFS volume, that's all, no reason why it should Blue Screen because of it.

jaclaz

Thanks for the clarification. I was looking for a possible explanation of those blue screens, in light of the fact that my 1999-vintage tower was the only one to be able to finish booting ReactOS. What other "usual suspects" might there be? (If all else fails, I'll consult the ReactOS site, although the matter is not all that important. We're shooting the breeze here. :) )

More importantly -- in your view, what would have been a more pragmatic approach on the ReactOS team's part?

--JorgeA

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Interesting viewpoint on the Windows 8 debate in the comments section to this Win8.1 overview:

So I guess it's either, "Win8 is the most awesome thing ever," or, "Win8 sucks." Both types of comments are pointless.

Try this: Win8 was a modest technological upgrade beneath an interface revision which requires a very steep learning curve. It's new successor appears to demonstrate only that its authors have not learned from the market and insist on shoving questionable "innovations" down users' throats.

Say what you will about stability, but the market has labeled this OS a turkey, and that's a tough rep to shake, especially when genuinely useful improvements like the ones described by this article are intentionally obscured in the name of a misguided attempt at convergence.

If you love Win8, good for you. If you think it sucks, well, fine. All that really matters is that, according to the market, MS is failing with this product, and has stuck their heads in the sand about it. And the new revision appears to do nothing about that fact. Should we be surprised to learn that Android laptops (and even desktops) are starting to appear in system-makers' design chains?

So far, Win8 has basically set the stage for Windows becoming the ultimate boutique OS. For those of us who truly rely on it, this cannot be a good thing. My sincere hope is that MS gets the message from the market. But that's hard to imagine when they crank out misguided, half-hearted, condescending hoohah like 8.1.

Windows turning into a "boutique" OS -- ouch!

--JorgeA

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Windows turning into a "boutique" OS -- ouch!

this is nothing new. We know this sicne we saw Windows Developer preview the first time :thumbdown

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More importantly -- in your view, what would have been a more pragmatic approach on the ReactOS team's part?

Hmmm :unsure:, this would probably need a new dedicated thread, where I will manage to get flamed :ph34r: by everyone:

  • the "Windows" guys
  • the "Linux" guys
  • the "React-OS" guys

BTW all good guys :thumbup:, but quite touchy when you "comment" their beloved creature/preferred OS.

See if these posts are enough:

http://www.msfn.org/board/topic/58899-open-sourcing-windows-9x/page-6#entry747389

http://reboot.pro/topic/4207-running-kde4-programs-under-windows/?p=46592

http://reboot.pro/topic/5512-mobileos-sorry-guys-im-a-little-confused-again/#entry43184

jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz
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Recapping the big story just 3 days ago ...

Microsoft: $19.90 billion in revenue for Q2 2013; $900 million charge for Surface RT ( NeoWin 2013-07-18 )

Microsoft takes $900 million charge on unsold Surface RT tablets ( TechSpot 2013-07-19 )

Microsoft's Failed Surface RT Strategy Leads to $900 Million Charge on Unsold Inventory ( Maximum PC 2013-07-19 )

Microsoft released their FY2013 results, numbers which are heavily massaged as they end their accounting year and now move into FY2014. Even after juggling numbers around and spinning it as positive, the overall negative undertow was obvious to all except die-hard MicroZealots at NeoWin. In that comment thread one sensible commenter tries in vain to clue them in on what it all means and what Wall Street will do later in the day. I mean in post after post he tries to tell them that this is bad news and not spin-able, and that the market is not going to like it. Note that the NeoWin headline itself is ambiguous, stressing revenue instead of profit, and using "charge" which is not language understandable by most fanboys.

Slight digression here, there was one typical comment in there rationalizing Microsoft's collection of extortion money from Android device makers ...

Does it matter? Collecting money from Android is a legitimate part of their business. They practically birthed the tech in Android, why shouldn't they be able to count it?

Yeah right, Microsoft "birthed" Android only if he means by screwing up Windows people feel comfortable looking elsewhere. As for the patents, keep in mind that no-one at MicroApple, who both are busy pirates collecting duties from Android, are actually talking about what they claim to have invented, and the extortees are not talking because of some kind of gag order. So we don't really know what Microsoft and Apple are extorting for sure. There are strong suspicions that the file system is claimed by Microsoft and some other mobile functions by Apple, but they successfully extort them and then get them to hush up about it. Wikipedia currently has this ...

In October 2011, Microsoft said they had signed patent license agreements with ten Android device manufacturers, whose products account for 55% of the worldwide revenue for Android devices.[172] These include Samsung and HTC.[173] Samsung's patent settlement with Microsoft includes an agreement that Samsung will allocate more resources to developing and marketing phones running Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.

Google has publicly expressed its frustration for the current patent landscape in the United States, accusing Apple, Oracle and Microsoft of trying to take down Android through patent litigation, rather than innovating and competing with better products and services.

Clearly Microsoft has went right back to their old ways of Standard Oil style anticompetitive monopolistic practices. Their "agreement" extracted by extorting Samsung is illustrative, getting them to promise to build devices using Microsoft's pOS because nobody wants them by choice. I don't know if Microsoft and Apple even realize it but they are really setting themselves up for a momentous fall. We can be certain that Google is not happy about this, nor the hypocritical Scroogle campaign, so they will have something up their sleeve, perhaps even writing their own royalty-free file system. The bad-will about these patent issues will also return to bite Ballmer's big fat butt because when you live by the patent suit, you also die by it. All it will take is the next big case that reverses this extortion and the house of cards will come tumbling down. It is within the realm of possibility that a future without Apple and Microsoft will arrive, and they will deserve all that comes with it.

Now back to the earnings report. After the denial of any whiff of bad news in the announcement, and despite the warnings from one intrepid commenter they stood fast on their religious belief in their MicroGod. Then reality hit them int their face as it always does ...

Microsoft Shares Tumble On Q4 Earnings Miss ( Forbes 2013-07-18 )

Its been a rough quarter for Microsoft.

Between the recent NSA revelations, the botched reveal of the Xbox One, and the departure of Xbox chief Don Mattrick, the company has faced one speed bump after another.

In todays earnings report, Microsoft had more bad news.

The tech giants Q4 earnings took a hit thanks to a $900 million writedown (or 7 cents per share) from slashed prices on its Surface RT tablet, just one factor that led to the company missing its fourth quarter expectations for profit and revenue.

I said a while back that the big Microsoft re-org thingie was nothing more than a preemptive strike to tamp down negative reactions on Wall Street. It is obvious to me that they had their preliminary FY2013 numbers a month ago and proceeded to do everything they could think of, including re-arranging the deck chairs, to keep the stock afloat.

NeoWin eventually posted a more accurate headline in the followup ...

Microsoft stock price down 11.40 percent in trading Friday ( NeoWin 2013-07-19 )

Although with a clear expression of head-scratching disbelief seen in the opening paragraph ...

You would think that champagne bottles would be popping if you owned stock in a company that announced it had $19.90 billion in revenue and a net profit of $4.97 billion for its last fiscal quarter, which is what Microsoft reported for its second quarter 2013 calendar earnings on Thursday.

It's all kinda funny because this was completely predictable if you read that first article at the top because they obviously had prepared all along to spin it in their favor. Such are the ways of the fanboy cult.

Microsoft also eventually had to respond to the obvious.

Microsoft CFO Amy Hood: "We know we have to do better" ( NeoWin 2013-07-19 )

But it's just more gobbledygook really. They have learned nothing.

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On the security front the bad news still outweights the good ...

NSA and GCHQ siphoning huge quantities of data from undersea fiber optic cables ( TechSpot 2013-07-18 )

The plot thickens as the NSAs data collection net widens. NSA leaks reveal that governments are tapping into the Internets backbone to siphon off huge quantities of data. That is, government programs in the US and UK are able to gain access to tremendous amounts of data by accessing networks of undersea fiber optic cable, according to a report from The Atlantic.

British surveillance programs titled Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation (that sounds legitimate, right?), akin to the USs PRISM program, operate a subsidiary program called Tempora. Tempora soaks up huge amounts of data, upwards of 21 million gigabytes per day, and then retains the data for a month.

Tempora then shares this data with the NSA and British GCHQ, which reportedly commits 550 analysts to reviewing the contents. The data collected is cause for more concern to privacy advocates than the recent reports of collection of phone call metadata, because tapping into these cables allows governments to make complete copies of all the data, not just the metadata.

They pretty much decided to monitor everything, everywhere, all the time. I'm having a hard time thinking of something they might NOT be spying on now. Note that the USA is using the UK as yet another vendor, just like all the tech companies. This is an important point because they get to say that they themselves are not spying, so-called plausible deniability, letting others get their hands dirty and then forcing them to shut up about it.

Yahoo! Resisted PRISM, And Can Now Prove It ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-16 )

Okay, we'll give them a merit badge for trying at least. However, since Yahoo uses Bing as its actual search engine who do they think they are fooling? Also, if you read the article though you will see just how bad this whole thing is with that secret star-chamber FISA court rubber stamping the fed spooks and dismissing all challenges with the back of their hand.

Microsoft defends against data sharing allegations ( NeoWin 2013-07-16 )

Lots of weasel words in there, leaving a hole big enough to drive a fleet of government trucks through.

Microsoft and others asks for the US government's permission to reveal data requests ( NeoWin 2013-07-18 )

Microsoft, Others Requesting More NSA Transparency ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-18 )

Tech giants come together to demand NSA surveillance transparency ( TechSpot 2013-07-19 )

In a letter published yesterday, the more than 63 technology companies, trade groups and non-profit organizations called upon the U.S government to allow internet, telephone and other communications based service providers to disseminate requests they receive for user data in greater detail. More specifically the group is requesting permission to regularly share details regarding:

  • The number of government requests for information about their users
  • The number of individuals, accounts, or devices for which information was requested
  • The number of requests that sought communications content, basic subscriber information, and/or other information.

Actually, that request for transparency is more like translucency or opaqueness. That request language is merely asking for some minor rollbacks but nothing that would satisfy me or anyone else I know.

IMHO there is just one important thing to take away from all these stories, and it could be construed as good news ... these companies are actually getting some real heat now, specifically Microsoft who were exposed in the leaks as Big Brother's FIRST partner in crime ( perhaps we should call them Baby Brother ). So anyway, these guys are feeling pressure now, and I find this intriguing, very VERY intriguing. How exactly would Microsoft and the others receive angry feedback? How does anyone penetrate that force field? They are completely oblivious and tone-deaf to two years of criticism about the Windows 8 fiasco, so the pressure cannot logically be coming from the retail sector. Developer opinions carry no special weight, nor would they particularly care about end-user privacy, so I doubt it's them. Big business perhaps? Nah, I doubt any big American company gives a crap about privacy because if they are based here in the USA they are already subject to other forms of domestic spying, court orders, etc. So who else is there? I think there is only one thing left, and that is foreign interests ( business, government, utilities, retailers, end-users ), people who actually have something to lose by signing up with Microsoft. This is only speculation but I would guess that Office and Azure and even Windows contracts are suddenly in jeopardy. What form this might be taking I don't know, but there is no doubt that something has suddenly lit a fire under them.

U.S. Commerce Department unnecessarily destroyed $170K worth of IT gear to hunt down malware ( TechSpot 2013-07-09 )

Forgot about this one from a few weeks ago. This should drive fellow USA citizens mad. From both a financial wast point of view, and from a tech standpoint ...

In 2012, the department shelled out more than $2.7 million (more than half of their annual IT budget) trying to track down what appeared to be a major malware infestation. Acting on the guidance of the CIO of the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the department subsequently destroyed more than $170,000 worth of IT components including desktops, printers, TVs, cameras, computer mice and keyboards.

What! Malware infected printers, cameras, mice, keyboards! These must be MetroTards. Windows 8 was clearly made for them.

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More on the security and cloud related front ...

Kremlin returns to typewriters to avoid computer leaks ( UK Telegraph 2013-07-11 )

Back in Time: Russian Agency Seeks Typewriters for Secret Documents ( Spiegel International 2013-07-11 )

The Kremlin is Going Back to Typewriters, and You Should Too ( PolicyMic 2013-07-14 )

Russia considers going back to typewriters ( NeoWin 2013-07-14 )

Very cool story mentioned by Jaclaz earlier. Russian intelligence possibly reverting to typewritten paper archives for sensitive information. The "eyes only" approach is time tested and fairly secure but unfortunately it was easily defeated by tiny cameras and that weak link has also progressed a bit in the intervening years since cameras are smaller and more capable. But of course this story is probably just another smokescreen anyway. The real point is larger than typewriters, it is the fact that people are much more aware of what is going on. The spying scandal has effectively launched a new information arms race, not just between national capitols, but between everybody and those that allegedly govern them.

Look for the next big thing to be end-to-end security applications. It's amazing how PGP and Steganography and text cipher programs were all the rage in the 1990's and suddenly they disappeared from the public eye for at least the past decade. Secure P2P communication and end-user crypto will likely become quite the growth field of the next decade. And they will not be programs developed by Microsoft, Apple or Facebook.

Some examples are already surfacing ...

Pirate Bay co-founder plans Hemlis, an encrypted messaging app where 'no one can listen in' ( The Verge 2013-07-09 )

Pirate Bay co-founder planning "secure" WhatsApp rival ( NeoWin 2013-07-10 )

Pirate Bay co-founder to develop encrypted mobile messaging app ( TechSpot 2013-07-09 )

The real problem I guess is determining just who you can trust. At this particular point in time the Pirate guys no longer automatically sound like the enemy, do they? Of course this is "encypted messaging", which means they supply everything and is transparent to end-users. A lot of trust is placed into them which doesn't really solve the issue IMHO. An alternative is for both parties to have shared passkeys in advance and use offline standalone decrypters to unscramble coded messages they themselves create but send over such an encrypted service. This looks like a workable and secure arrangement given what we know. If anyone else has ideas or links about this I'd love to hear them.

Google testing encryption methods to foil government snooping ( TechSpot 2013-07-17 )

Google Testing File Encryption to Protect Drive Users ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-18 )

Somewhat related, Google is clearly moving to shore up the reputation of its cloud which is smart considering the situation with Microsoft and Office and Azure. If they play their cards right they might just peel away some of that user base which I do believe is very nervous at the moment. Google will have to do much more than this however, perhaps move their servers offshore because anything less cannot really guarantee security.

And therein lies the real consequence to the spying scandal, which John Dvorak correctly IMHO mentioned several times in posts cited earlier in this thread. The USA will be considered positively insecure for data storage of any kind, and quite rightly so.

Meanwhile, back in Redmond, the tone-deafness continues ...

Microsoft expands Office 365 to 38 new markets ( NeoWin 2013-07-13 )

I think one commenter had it right: "Office 365.. NSA 365 rather. I wonder which companies are so stupid to use this service anymore.."

Rumor: Shared file lists, folder mounting and more coming to SkyDrive ( NeoWin 2013-07-14 )

The article cites a laundry list of features for the cloudboys. Noticeably absent is anything about customer security from prying eyes inside their walls. We'll see how this pans out in their next earnings report. Watch for possible slowing cloud growth as an indicator.

Skype to retire Desktop API support by end of 2013 ( NeoWin 2013-07-15 )

Skype first launched its Desktop API nearly 10 years ago, well before Microsoft acquired the VoIP service in 2011. In his email, Andrews mentioned the previously announced plans to improve Skype's performance on mobile platforms as the main reason for retiring the Desktop API. He added:

These APIs were originally created in 2004 and do not support mobile application development. Going forward, developers will be able to write applications, which use features of Skype across all the major platforms, through the use of Skype URIs. We believe this will allow developers to create innovative mobile, web and desktop solutions, while retaining a familiar and consistent Skype experience across devices.

Andrews added that the decision "was not made lightly" and they wanted to give developers who still use the Desktop API in their applications time to modify them before their support ends.

So the desktop API, pre-Microsoft acquisition, is retired and devs should rewrite their stuff now. Now there's a familiar story. Not to mention that there is a pretty good suspicion that "old code" now simply means not easily accessible by spooks. I suspect this is also very true with Windows in general and that is why there is such a mad push to kill their uber-successful Windows XP. I'd have to say that "old code" now means "safer code", but that's just me.

Regardless, Skype must now be the most radioactive of all Microsoft products. They have had substantial security and outage incidents, and are prominently mentioned in the spying scandal. See upthread for more. I wouldn't use it if my life depended on it.

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News from the competition ...

Intel, Samsung Dishing Out Over $4 Million to Tizen Devs ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-09 )

To reel in developers for the new Tizen mobile platform, Intel and Samsung are providing $4.04 million in rewards to developers who contribute to the project via the Tizen App Challenge.

Previously it was rumored that the Tizen project was actually dead. The Tizen project itself resides within the Linux Foundation, and is governed by Intel and Samsung.

They go on to say that Tizen might be a threat to Android and Firefox operating systems, maybe so, maybe not, but it will in no way help Microsoft or Apple, that's for sure. Actually it will more likely serve as some needed Linux competition for Android, Firefox and Ubuntu, and that cannot be a bad thing. Especially if one of them or all of them figure out a way to circumvent and defeat whatever it is that Microsoft ( and Apple ) are extorting out of them as royalties. That should be topic number one at their little meetings. Now git'er done.

Deals July 12: Lenovo 7" Android 4.0 16GB Tablet $119 ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-12 )

This is from the periodic sale postings at Tom's, but I wanted to show that insane price of $119 for a Lenovo Android tablet. Now who can possibly compete with that? This is the critical "mobile" space that Ballmer and Co. decided to chase after and kill Windows for. But by the time they arrived, the manufacturers had driven prices down to levels that Microsoft cannot even fathom. Indeed, they are used to getting at least half of that just for the OS alone. It is also sweet because Lenovo is pretty much the one and only darling of the MicroVerse. Needless to say this tablet mention will not appear at NeoWin where it would only serve to rile up the natives.

Is an Ubuntu Phone in Verizon's Future? ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-13 )

Verizon joins the CAG ( Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group ) leading some to think that these carriers are serious about some alternative phone operating systems. Naturally the MicroZealots will laugh at even the suggestion of this, fine. But one thing is for sure, it can not help WP, only hurt it. All it will take is a percentage point going to Firefox and another to Ubuntu and the Microsoft Tiles WP8 will be right back to the bottom from its current tenuous 3-4% marketshare. Laugh at your own risk fanboys.

Crytek in Need of a Programmer to Port CryEngine to Linux ( Maximum PC 2013-07-15 )

Hmmmm. This is how it could start. A couple of big names like Crysis and Far Cry running native on Linux would start the leaks popping in the platform dikes and Ballmer would run out of fingers to plug them up with. This may be totally unrelated to Steam too, the story does not say because it is merely a tidbit of information about a job position. But it has to be good news, unless you are a MicroZealot that is. The key really is to get a bunch of different game engines ported and up an running, once that happens many more releases should follow.

Rockchip Bringing Windowed, Tiled Capabilities to Android ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-19 )

Sure, Android is capable of multi-tasking, allowing users to run numerous apps in the background and access them by hitting the Recents button in the Navigation Bar. But typically users can't natively use their apps like they can in a desktop setting.

Chinese tablet maker Chuwi is reportedly making this happen thanks to chip maker Rockchip. The latter company was actually showcasing this multi-window technology back at CES 2013 using an RK3188 quad-core SoC. Users could treat Android like a desktop, opening apps in several windows, sizing them and moving them around on the screen.

XwzPwFp.jpg

There is some speculation there that Google might not like this and somehow clamp down on them ( good luck with that ), but you know that one or all of them will eventually get there anyway. It is inevitable since there are well over a billion people already familiar with the desktop concept, the same billion people that Microsoft took a giant crap on, therefore there are exactly a billion reasons to get this concept on Android. If Google does not want this clear shot across Microsoft's bow, then there are some backroom shenanigans that we really ought to know about. :yes:

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Xbox was also in the News ...

Who Needs PC When You Can Have Xbox One at Work ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-14 )

OK, so how is this gaming box going to boost productivity in the work environment? As Lyons pointed out, there's Skype which allows for multi-person chatting. Combine this factor with the wide-angle lens and 1080p view of the included Kinect sensor, and businesses have the means for collaborative meetings and presentations.

Considering the broad spying scandal, this sounds like the last thing anyone put on the factory floor or business office. But that's just me. :lol:

Microsoft Research uses Kinect to translate sign language ( NeoWin 2013-07-16 )

This is gonna sound like a nitpick to some people but I have to say, what the frig took so long? Frankly I expected this to be the absolute first thing that was done using Kinect. But I can see they were too busy with table tennis and other nonsense. And what Microsoft Research actually shows isn't really that incredible ...

The software has two modes. The first, Translation Mode, is self explanatory. It translate the sign language from a person into either text or speech. The second, Communications Mode, has a hearing person using the software who types in words that are then displayed on screen as sign language via a 3D avatar. The person on the other end then uses sign language that is then translated to text or speech.

... note the phrase "translated to text or speech". Why not both? It seems to me that this is the perfect application to shake out the bugs with, and that means pushing it to do it all, at once. I have a deaf relative and struggled to learn some signs and understand them, so I tend to watch for breakthroughs in this kind of AI. Frankly there is too little real progress. Even relatively simple related technologies like transcription and OCR and teleprompters are littered with errors. If these companies like IBM and Microsoft weren't too busy extorting patents, milking profits and holding back end-user technology, we would have had this licked a while ago. Realtime closed captioning and other things are so far behind expectations it is not even funny. I'm very disappointed.

Microsoft could bring some Xbox One digital sharing features back ( NeoWin 2013-07-13 )

Rumor: Microsoft Upgrading Xbox One Specs, Features ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-16 )

"The GPU core clock has been increased, and Microsoft will likely bring back Family Sharing." See what a little competition can do? :yes:

Microsoft win out, finally take ownership of xboxone.com ( NeoWin 2013-07-17 )

Grrrrr. The rigged system for Big Technology swallows up yet another victim. This guy had the name long before Microsoft ever even thought about Xbone. The fair thing would have been to buy it for a decent chunk of change or simply live with the fact that they blew it in the first place by not reserving it. Listen to the venom from the MicroZealots in there. "Hey they used the word 'Xbox' so they deserve to lose". Really? Should Microsoft have every domain with "Windows" or "Office" in the alias? Utterly ridiculous.

Windows RT was also in the news and definitely had a bad week ...

Surface RT at $350: Time to Buy? A sale is not a sale if you do not need the thing being sold ( Thurrott 2013-07-14 )

Paul Thurrott is definitely not going to make any new friends at Microsoft or NeoWin or The Verge with this column ...

With retailers suddenly dropping the price of Surface RT dramatically over the weekend, some are wondering if this is the time to take the plunge. Folks, put away your credit cards: Surface RT isnt a good deal at any price.

[...]

Some will try to tell you in the comments to this post that they love Windows RT and/or Surface RT and cannot for the life of them imagine why Paul, the big, bad, brutish Windows RT hater, keeps stating otherwise. My response is that 20 years of writing about technology and pretty extensive experience testing a wide range of Windows 8/RT hardware sets me up to understand this topic pretty well: Windows RT in general, and Surface RT specially, is not worth the investment. Its like throwing money away.

[...]

Im sorry this isnt better news. And Im not super-interested in hearing from RT defenders right now, sorry: Youre wrong about Surface RT. This may be an operating system for the future, sure. But its not the future. Its 2013, and this thing was built last year using components that were obsolete before it even hit the market. Do not fall for this Crazy Eddie pricing. You will only be disappointed.

That's gonna leave a mark!

I don't have time to skewer him and his upsey-downsey mood swings right now, but this downsey column contradicts key parts of his infamous The Desktop Must Die! article I covered here.

Lenovo stops selling Windows RT Yoga 11 notebook on its website ( NeoWin 2013-07-17 )

Whoopsie. Another one bites the dust.

Poll: Should Microsoft build a Surface RT 2? ( NeoWin 2013-07-19 )

Two-Thirds of the MetroTards, 68% say YES. Funny thing is, I doubt very many of even them have bought one. So why would they really want Microsoft to lumber ahead? Do they want to see another write-down?

Nvidia Sees Great Future with Windows RT ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-19 )

Pheewww. The nVidia dude is back, singing the praises of Windows 8 Retard Edition. It's sad really. And no-one is buying it. Check this out ...

Nvidia previously stated that its new Tegra 4 SoC will be used in multiple Windows RT tablets. Haas wouldn't elaborate on when, or what types of future RT products will appear. However Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said he doesn't believe any tablet maker will produce a Windows RT tablet in the future. Even more, Nvidia is reportedly "blowing smoke" about the future of Windows RT and Surface RT because marketing people don't want to spook the market with negativity.

"RT is dying overnight. RT is going to die a slow death," he told Computerworld.

Wow! I don't recall seeing that quote mentioned at NeoWin.

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Miscellaneous News ...

Verizon May Owe Apple $14B Over Slow iPhone Sales ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-14 )

The LA Times reports that Verizon Wireless may end up owing $14 billion to Apple. That's because the company must sell $23.5 billion worth of iPhone units this year to meet a commitment it made with Apple back in 2010. To do this, Verizon must double its iPhone sales of last year. Unfortunately, iPhone sales just aren't all that great thanks to larger, zippier Android phones dominating the market.

I think it's safe to say that the party is over for the smartphone boom, actually the big clue was to just watch for when Microsoft makes their big entry, because it is usually right before the bottom falls out, unfortunately Microsoft has Nokia to take the fall for them. Smartphones should be saturated within a few more quarters, at most a year and then the race to the bottom begins. Let's just hope that the rigged subsidy system is taken down with it. It is the only reason that tiny $700 phones ever had a chance to be "purchased" by people who cannot even help from losing their pocketbooks, laptops and even children. Anybody who buys in to the top-end now is nuts, this industry is about to become one big buyer's market.

WhatsApp for iOS moves to subscription model ( TechSpot 2013-07-17 )

The app initially sold for $0.99 in the App Store but as of today, itll be free of charge to download and use for the next year. After the one year trial period has expired, users will be charged $0.99 annually if they wish to keep using the popular messaging application.

And there's the business model in a nutshell, and exactly what to expect from Microsoft for Office and Windows. From .99 cents once to .99 cents a year in this case, but $99 dollars works just as well. Spreadsheet economics was the ancient term, now I call it sheeplenomics. Just picture the bean counters playing around with their spreadsheets. How do we squeeze more bottom line out of these numbers? Easy, just fiddle with the revenue column by locking the customers into a subscription instead, and deduct it right off their credit card. Do the numbers ever go down? No. Never. It is a purely synthetic model with no such thing as supply or demand. Moreover, if the cloud ever goes down are there any automatic adjustments crediting the accounts for lost service. Heck no.

Speaking of going down ...

Ubisoft accounts hacked, email addresses and passwords compromised ( PC Gamer 2013-07-03 )

Bohemia Interactive hacked usernames, emails and encrypted passwords taken ( PC Gamer 2013-07-12 )

Ah, just another day in the cloud. It's gonna be some sight to see the next time Xbox Live goes down.

Microsoft, Windows, and Phone News ...

Microsoft Demos 3D Printing with Windows 8.1 ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-13 )

Is this really supposed to be a selling point? Let's see, the government is banning certain items from being printed, forcing the CAD files to be removed from the websites, and we're supposed to believe that printing something from the new government approved Windows 8 is not going to phone home with the details? Come on.

Petition wants Microsoft to continue TechNet ( NeoWin 2013-07-13 )

Man, they really screwed the pooch with this one, huh? There are a few die-hard defenders naturally, but none of them are dumb enough to start a petition to 'Keep TechNet Dead!'.

Bill Gates jokes Microsoft Bob will make a comeback ( NeoWin 2013-07-15 )

Bill Gates: Microsoft Bob to Make a Return (in Concept) ( Tom's Hardware 2013-07-16 )

Leave it to billg to mess up the punch line for this joke. He should have just said: Microsoft Bob is already here and working! Where do ya wanna go today?

Rumor: Windows Phone 9 will be a clean slate, again ( NeoWin 2013-07-15 )

Microsoft's Windows Phone design team deletes tweet on revamp rumor ( NeoWin 2013-07-20 )

More astonishing unprofessionalism. It sure seems that almost anyone can post stuff at Microsoft who have no concept of a public spokesman or information clearinghouse. In this case, the latest of many weird incidents, someone let slip that the next Windows Phone would be a total rewrite, then ...

The team also offered up a couple of responses to their first message from Twitter users, saying, "don't believe everything you read" and, when asked if they were drunk said, "nah. The guy who started that rumor is though."

However, just a couple of hours later, those messages were removed from the @WPdesignteam Twitter account. It's possible that the person in charge of that feed was not authorized to make official statements from Microsoft, and as a result the messages were taken down.

So they tried to correct it with that one tweet, but then pulled them all because they were not "official". This is like Three Stooges comedy. I love how the NeoWin author finished there with: "It's possible that the person in charge of that feed was not authorized to make official statements from Microsoft". Ya think!

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