First look at new Windows and its name

A shadow of a man using his mobile phone is cast near Microsoft logo at the 2014 Computex exhibition in Taipei June 4, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Pichi Chuang

A shadow of a man using his mobile phone is cast near Microsoft logo at the 2014 Computex exhibition in Taipei June 4, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Pichi Chuang

Microsoft Corp will unveil a new name for its best-known product on Tuesday when it offers the first official glimpse of its latest Windows operating system.

The project, known for the past few years as “Threshold” inside the software company and “Windows 9” outside it, will likely get an entirely new brand, or just be called Windows, analysts said, ahead of its full release early next year.

The name change is symbolic of a new direction and style for Microsoft, which is veering away from an aggressive focus on Windows and PCs, the hallmark of previous Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer. The new, quieter emphasis is on selling services across all devices and is championed by new boss Satya Nadella.

The switch also represents a desire to erase the ill will generated by Windows 8, an ambitious attempt to redesign Windows with tablet users in mind, which ended up annoying and confusing the core market of customers who use mice and keyboards.

“Windows 8 was not a shining moment for Microsoft,” said Michael Silver, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner. “Probably the biggest issue that lingers is the negative brand equity in the name.”

Many users howled in protest over the death of the start-button menu and the introduction of a colorful grid of squares or tiles representing apps in what became known as the modern user interface, even though they could easily switch to a traditional desktop mode.

Judging by recent leaks online, which Microsoft has not tried to discredit, the start-button menu will come back in the next Windows, with an option of tacking on tiles if preferred.

But the problem of users having to toggle between the modern interface and the old-style desktop – for instance to use the full version of Excel spreadsheet software – has yet to be solved.

“The schizophrenic behavior between the modern user interface and the Windows desktop has got to go away,” said David Johnson, an analyst at tech research firm Forrester. “They have to smooth that out.”

Microsoft declined to comment on the new name, or what it plans to unveil on Tuesday.

The Redmond, Washington-based company has said only that it will have a “discussion” about where Windows is headed at a stylish event space in San Francisco on Tuesday.

The choice of wording and venue are key to a humbler, lower-profile Microsoft under Nadella, who is keen to rebuild respect in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley as it moves away from the PC and to play a bigger part in the mobile computing world fashioned by Apple Inc and Google Inc.

Nadella’s slogan is “mobile first, cloud first,” and although he will not be at the San Francisco event – he is traveling in Asia – that theme will be at the fore.

“This is a launching pad and catalyst for Nadella’s holistic cloud vision over the coming years,” said Daniel Ives, an analyst at investment bank FBR Capital Markets. “Windows 9 is a potentially game-changing product release for Microsoft.”

Nadella is resigned to the fact that sales of PCs have leveled off, and with it sales of Windows. With the explosion of smartphones and tablets, Windows now powers only 14 percent of computing devices sold last year, according to Gartner.

His response is to focus on selling high-quality services – such as the Office suite of applications or storing documents in the cloud – to people on whatever device or system they are using.

“Microsoft is changing from a company that was Windows-centric to one that is services-centric,” said Silver at Gartner. “It has to be that way. Windows revenue is likely going to decline, and Microsoft’s task is to replace that Windows revenue with revenue from services on all sorts of platforms.”

The challenge is to come up with killer apps and services users can’t live without.

“Microsoft built their business on being very good at delivering what people needed in the moment, for example Excel in the 1990s,” said Johnson at Forrester. “That’s what Microsoft has to get back to, innovating and creating things that people find indispensable.”

(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: Reuters

 

Apple unveils watch and larger iPhones

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple event announcing the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California, September 9, 2014.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple event announcing the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California, September 9, 2014.

Apple Inc unveiled a watch, two larger iPhones and a mobile payments service on Tuesday as Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook seeks to revive the technology company’s reputation as a wellspring of innovation.

The first new product to be developed and introduced under Cook’s reign is a timepiece tethered to the iPhone that will combine health and fitness tracking with communications. It will price at $349 and go on sale in early 2015.

First impressions were mixed. Some expected Apple to blow away the current competition but others warned the fact that it requires a paired iPhone may limit its sales.

Starting at $349 – $50 more than the cheapest version of the iPhone 6 with a contract, the lofty price tag may also keep some consumers on the sidelines. It could go up to more than $1,000 for higher-end editions, IDC analyst Danielle Levitas said.

The Apple Watch can receive phone calls and messages, play music, serve as a digital wallet to pay for goods and monitor heart rates via special sensors. The watches will come in three collections, including a sport edition and an upscale line coated in 18-karat gold.

“People are kind of scratching their heads on this watch, especially the fact that to successfully use the watch and to take advantage of its capabilities, you also have to have an iPhone,” said Daniel Morgan, vice president at Synovus Trust Company in Atlanta. “I don’t know if they’re in the right direction with this iWatch.”

Still, rival watch and wearable device makers will keep a wary eye on Apple, which upended the music industry and drove once-dominant phone makers like Blackberry to the brink of extinction.

Sony Corp, Samsung, LG Electronics Inc and Qualcomm Inc have already launched smartwatches, albeit without much success.

“Not the knockout some were anticipating. A bit gimmicky also on the health end of the wearable bands market,” said Jon Cox, an analyst of Swiss watch companies at brokerage Kepler Cheuvreux in Zurich.

“Not as cool as I feared. Nick Hayek is probably sleeping a little easier tonight,” Cox said, referring to the chief executive of Swatch Group.

Shares of the company closed just a tad higher after having risen almost 5 percent before executives trotted out the watch. The stock tends to rise in the run-up to a major product launch, and come under selling pressure afterward as investors cash out.

BUY WITH BIGGER PHONES

The watch is unlikely to increase Apple’s top-line. Estimates vary but IDC expects total global demand of 42 million smartwatches in 2015. Apple sells that many or more iPhones in a good quarter.

But the pressure was on for the world’s largest tech company to wow on Tuesday, after a years-long drought of products beyond new iPhones and iPads. The prospect of a new gadget attracted a broader swathe of attendees than usual, with celebrities, fashion industry editors and even healthcare executives rounding out the mostly tech-industry crowd.

In a rare move, Apple had planned on livecasting its entire event online, with a simultaneous translation in Chinese. But the livestream went down about a half-hour in, prompting many users to take to Twitter to express their frustrations.

Also on Tuesday, the company took the wraps off a larger, 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. They will support more than 200 telecoms carriers worldwide, including all three in China – a key growth market for the company.

And it introduced a new mobile payments service dubbed “Apple Pay.” Each phone will come equipped with its new payments service, which launches in the United States next month and allows users to pay for items in stores with their phones instead of physically presenting their credit or debit cards.

Launch partners include Walt Disney Co, McDonald’s and Whole Foods. The move gives Apple access to a trove of data on how consumers shop in brick and mortar stores, where more than 90 percent of U.S. retail sales are still conducted.

Each new iPhone will come with a “secure element” chip and a near-field communications, or NFC, antenna.

Ben Milne, CEO of Internet payment network Dwolla, wanted to hear a lot more about how Apple will tackle the aging payments infrastructure. Apple Pay should get some level of mass adoption based on the number of iPhones out there, but Apple will have to tackle the current high costs of payment processing to make its new feature more widespread, he said.

“The old architecture that payments is driven on is not up to snuff for the future they want to build,” Milne said.

Source: Reuters

 

Facebook ready to spend billions to bring whole world online

Mark Zuckerberg (R), founder and CEO of Facebook, gestures during his conference at the Seminar ''Mexico Siglo XXI'', organized by Telmex foundation, in Mexico City, September 5, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Edgard Garrido

Mark Zuckerberg (R), founder and CEO of Facebook, gestures during his conference at the Seminar ”Mexico Siglo XXI”, organized by Telmex foundation, in Mexico City, September 5, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Edgard Garrido

Facebook Inc is prepared to spend billions of dollars to reach its goal of bringing the Internet to everyone on the planet, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Friday.

“What we really care about is connecting everyone in the world,” Zuckerberg said at an event in Mexico City hosted by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

“Even if it means that Facebook has to spend billions of dollars over the next decade making this happen, I believe that over the long term its gonna be a good thing for us and for the world.”

Around 3 billion people will have access to the Internet by the end of 2014, according to International Telecommunications Union (ITU) statistics. Almost half that, 1.3 billion people, use Facebook.

Facebook, the world’s largest social networking company, launched its Internet.org project last year to connect billions of people without Internet access in places such as Africa and Asia by working with phone operators.

“I believe that … when everyone is on the Internet all of our businesses and economies will be better,” Zuckerberg said.

 

Source: Reuters

Apple’s iWatch for fashion lovers?

 The leaf on the Apple symbol is tinted green at the Apple flagship store on 5th Ave in New York April 22, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid/Files

The leaf on the Apple symbol is tinted green at the Apple flagship store on 5th Ave in New York April 22, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid/Files

Apple Inc has invited top fashion editors and bloggers in unprecedented numbers to its Tuesday launch gala, further evidence that the iPhone maker is preparing to take the wraps off a smartwatch.

Apple is forging closer ties to the fashion world as it plots its foray into the fertile field of wearable technology, trying to win over a critical crowd that may prove crucial to the success of consumer gadgets worn around the body.

A smartwatch would represent Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s first real new product since taking the baton from Steve Jobs. Several fashion media editors told Reuters they received invitations for the first time to an annual September product-launch, which they took as confirmation of a wristwatch in the wings.

“I assume it’s because they are unveiling a wearable,” said Lea Goldman, features and special projects director for Marie Claire magazine, a first-time invitee. “This suggests Apple is serious about tapping into the fashion world, which often sits on the sidelines.”

Apple declined to comment.

The iPhone maker, known for its sleek aesthetic, has made overtures to the fashion press in the past. It typically opts to host a separate event in New York where editors meet the team and review products, two fashion editors say.

That courtship has grown more aggressive. Last month, the company hosted what it called a “first-of-its-kind event” at an Apple Store in New York to showcase fashion and retail apps to a group of style editors, according to an invitation seen by Reuters.

Fashion site Refinery29’s health and science director Kelly Bourdet said the decision to include fashion editors on the invite-list is a “nod to the fashion crowd.”

Apple seems poised to network with the who’s who of the industry. In the past year or two, it has hired Patrick Pruniaux, former vice president of Tag Heuer’s global sales and retail; Angela Ahrendts, former chief executive of Burberry Inc; and former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve joined as vice president of special projects.

It is not just Apple. From Google Inc to LG Electronics Inc and Intel Corp, technology companies are beginning to forge fashion ties. On Friday, Intel announced a tie-up with Fossil Group on wearable technology.

Sonny Vu, chief executive of Misfit Wearables, expects more tie-ups as tech companies ramp up the fashion quotient in smartwatches, given that the current crop of watches has received mixed reviews.

The challenge for technology companies is to make something “fashionable off the bat” that is not clunky, said Eric Wilson, fashion news director for InStyle Magazine.

He and other editors said they harbored high hopes for Apple and planned to monitor Tuesday’s event.

“It confirms that they have a play in wearables and that they want to appeal to the fashion world, and not just technology consumers,” said Lauren Indvik, editor in chief for Fashionista and another first-time invitee.

 

Source: Reuters

 

Apple is replacing your iPhone 5 battery

iphone5blackwhiteApple has determined that a very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently. The affected iPhone 5 devices were sold between September 2012 and January 2013 and fall within a limited serial number range.

If your iPhone 5 is experiencing these symptoms and meets the eligibility requirements noted below, Apple will replace your iPhone 5 battery, free of charge.

Replacement process
As of August 22, 2014, the replacement process will be available in the U.S. and China. In other countries, it will be available as of August 29, 2014.

Visit a participating Apple Authorized Service Provider to have your battery replaced. Your iPhone will be examined prior to any service to verify that it is eligible for this program and in working order.

To prepare your iPhone 5 for the battery replacement process, please follow the steps below:

  • Back up your data to iTunes or iCloud
  • Turn off Find my iPhone
  • Erase data and settings in Settings > General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings

Note: If your iPhone 5 has any damage such as a cracked screen which impairs the replacement of the battery, that issue will need to be resolved prior to the battery replacement. In some cases, there may be a cost associated with the repair.

Additional Information
Apple may restrict or limit repair to the original country of purchase.

If you believe your iPhone 5 was affected by this issue, and you paid to replace your battery, you can contact Apple about a refund.

This worldwide Apple program doesn’t extend the standard warranty coverage of the iPhone 5. The program covers affected iPhone 5 batteries for two years after the first retail sale of the unit or until March 1, 2015, whichever provides longer coverage.

For more information and to check if you are eligible or not, click here.

Smartphones will go ultra-high definition in 2015

HYPER DETAILED: The latest LG flagship phone, the LG G3, can capture video in ultra-high definition. — ©LG

HYPER DETAILED: The latest LG flagship phone, the LG G3, can capture video in ultra-high definition. — ©LG

Just like televisions and computer monitors, handset displays are about to get a huge resolution boost.

According to the latest forecast from ABI Research, a 4K screen will become a flagship smartphone feature within the next 12 months and within five years, 478 million smartphones a year will ship with a UHD display as standard.

However, at the moment there is very little native 4K broadcast content available for either televisions or smartphones, meaning that, for the time being, a display with a super resolution could be seen as just a marketing gimmick.

Senior analyst Michael Inouye commented: “While some content owners and broadcasters have or are preparing to launch 4K programming, video resolution delivered to mobile devices will continue to lag behind screen pixel densities. While mobile device components, such as processor, memory and in some cases batteries, are gearing up to handle 4K, network and infrastructure elements remain challenging.

“Key video services like several under the UltraViolet umbrella, for instance, still largely distribute content to mobile devices in SD. Content protection and data utilisation concerns are part of the issue, but consumers also have not demanded higher resolution video in adequate numbers for services to respond,” he adds.

Although UHD displays aren’t expected to arrive until next year, the ability to use a smartphone to create 4K content is already here. The latest Samsung and LG flagship handsets both record video in 4K and as such join a growing list of UHD devices, such as the GoPro action cam.

However, even with more user-generated UHD content, disseminating it among friends or even hosting it to sites like YouTube is still an issue in terms of streaming or downloading due to the size of the file involved and consumers’ hatred of videos that buffer.

“Over The Top (OTT) video services will carefully weigh the costs of 4K delivery, the impact on viewing on mobile devices, and the brand halo high resolution services can bring,” said practice director Sam Rosen.

Rosen believes companies that use the internet to deliver content will initially focus on bringing UHD to televisions but there are emerging connection technologies that could mean that smartphones become a hub for streaming rich content to other devices around the home.

“New connections like wired MHL 3.0 and wireless 802.11ad can help position mobile devices as a hub for streaming high quality video and gaming to TVs. Qualcomm’s acquisition of Wilocity and push of 802.11ad could further encourage OTT companies and TV manufacturers to embrace the technology and bring high resolution video to TVs via mobile devices,” he adds. — AFP/Relaxnews 2014