Tag Archives: Windows

Microsoft Windows 8.1: Rumoured Price Drop.

Following on from the announcement last month of a release date for Windows 9, which will come as welcome news to pretty much everybody in the world (we blogged about here), Microsoft are rumoured to be reducing the costs for Windows 8.1, as an added incentive to increase uptake of the software giant’s most recent flagship OS.

Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft are prepared to reduce the cost to OEM’s by up to 70% in a bid to counter the growing popularity of alternative OSs on platforms like of Google’s cheaper Cromebook.

Targeting the low cost PC and tablet market, currently Microsoft charges OEM’s $50.00 per device that retails for under $250, this means the price will reduce to just $15.00.

Microsoft is hoping this new incentive will also help out its floundering (but resugrent, if  you believe the analysts) tablet market share, which is worth a total of $80 Billion table. This is after posting its worst annual decline on record last quarter. With global computer shipments falling and with a continued decline predicted, and the ever increasing popularity of tablets, Microsoft has to act fast to try and attract users away from Apple and Google products, who already have a huge head start on Microsoft.  

This is no easy task, as Apple and Google Chrome Operating Systems currently account for 95% of the tablet and smart phone market. However, if Windows 8.1 builds some momentum on the backup of this price drop, that could change.

Windows 9 set for April 2015 Release

Stories being released over the last few days are citing Microsoft’s planned announcement for the next incarnation of its flagship Windows OS.

At this years BUILD conference, to be held at the start of April in San Francisco, it is expected Microsoft will discuss its future vision of Windows. During this conference it is also expected that more information about the next release, codenamed by Microsoft as “Threshold”, will be announced.

Writing on his blog last week, Paul Thurrott, states that Microsoft are likely to move away from the codename and name the OS Windows 9, in an attempt to move away from the flunked Windows 8 brand. As Thurrott himself states hereWindows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment. That’s a disaster…” 

Writing on his blog for UK research firm Tech Market View, Richard Holway states the consumers he has spoken to about Windows 8 are “appalled” by it, also stating that manufacturers are seeing client still purchasing Windows 7 as their preference. The end of his article sums up “Let’s be honest, the Windows 8 debacle was totally predictable. Indeed, WE predicted it would be a disaster right from the start! W8 only served to accelerate the move to tablets and away from Microsoft. Balmer (MS CEO) truly has a lot to answer for”. The full article can be read here. This argument is supported by the fact that Microsoft’s stock share value went up significantly upon the news of Ballmer’s resignation.

So it will be interesting to see the plans for the future of one of the world’s biggest household names hit hard by its flagging operating system. Data published on the computerworld.com website quotes Net Applications research showing Windows 8 and 8.1 accounting for just 10.5% of OS’s currently used on computers. This accounted for 11.6% of computers running any form of Windows.

The real question is; who will be looking forward to Windows 9 more? Microsoft themselves, hit by dismal sales and a damaged reputation, or loyal Windows customers, hit by a dismal OS and frustration.

The iPad at Work – Can it replace a laptop?

With the launch of the latest round of iPad Generations including the iPad Air (aka iPad5) and iPad mini (with Retina display), Apple are once again showing their ability to dominate the market and convince their avid fan base to part with their hard earned cash.  (My iPad air arrived this morning!!).

Every time a new portable device arrives on my desk, fresh from the delivery man, I say to myself how can I be more productive with this.  How can I get more value to for money from this device?  I then find myself spending the next 20 minutes searching the app store to see if any new ‘wonder apps’ have been released that are going me to allow to discard my laptop and spend the rest of my working days tapping away on the new shiny screen.

In reality what happens is you see the same apps, all of which specialise in one particular aspect of what you want, be it document editing or spreadsheet work.  Essentially the lack of the office suite is a massive disadvantage to the business iPad user.

Sure Apple have released their Notes, Numbers and Keynote software on the device, which are fantastic products, however, with no way to access folders directly on the company network, the whole process can become tiresome and convoluted.  There is certainly not a solution that you could document and expect the CEO to understand and follow every time he needed to make last minute adjustments to the presentation he’s giving when he gets off the train!

I understand that you can have everything sync’d between devices, using solutions like iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive etc.  However, enterprises invest huge sums of money in storage for their users, much to the finance departments resentment.  For an IT manager to then have to go cap in hand and ask for more money, so the sales boys can access their documents on the an iPad is quite simply asking for trouble.

Mail, Apple have pretty much nailed in my opinion, their integration with exchange is seamless, and easy to setup.  Providing your inbox management is good, I’ve seen no issues in sending and receiving mail on the road.

If Apple could get their suite to integrate with Windows file servers, or Microsoft could get an Office suite onto the app store, then I feel that the iPad could start to make the switch from being a consumer, or on the go device to a laptop replacement / fully operational working device.

Is Windows 8.1 an improvement?

Windows 8.1, the follow up to the flop that was Windows 8 has arrived after months of frustration for users. The initial release was part of Microsoft’s big effort to take on Apple and Google in the tablet market, but to the frustration of many Windows 8 spilled into the PC and server versions. The main complaints were the removal of the Start button, as well as the general feel of the OS, which was clearly designed for touch screens. The Start button issue has been addressed, along with the other complaints, in the release which was available last Thursday by download, and as a hard copy on Friday.

Gartner analyst Michael Silver called it “a significant improvement, more like what Microsoft would have liked to ship a year ago”. He also praised Microsoft’s willingness to listen to user feedback in their efforts to improve their flagship product. He added that 8.1 was Microsoft “clearly responding to the needs of enterprise users” which is a very positive thing to hear, considering how much business users felt ignored with the release of its predecessor.

Some of the improvements for business users are “more and better IT controls, security features and device management capabilities”, which were lacking from version 8 and made it a largely unappealing update to the competent Windows 7. As it happens, International Data Corporation (IDC) still recommends that businesses upgrade their PCs and servers to Windows 7 rather Windows 8, which is a reflection of the lack of fundamental change at the heart of Windows 8 and 8.1.

Despite the cosmetic overhaul, underneath Windows 8 is the skeleton of Windows 7, and it isn’t difficult to find evidence of this either. Simply changing between the new interface and the old style desktop shows this. Many in the industry have predicted that, like XP for so long, Windows 7 will now become the “gold standard” of enterprise IT operating systems, bar tablets and convertible PCs.

David Johnson, of Forrester Research, predicts that the Windows 8 family will be on a much more frequent release cycle, where new versions, such as 8.1 will be released on a regular basis. This can present a serious headache for IT managers if and when the older releases are no longer supported.

Johnson also predicted that new hardware from the likes of IBM, which should be much more “battery friendly”, will improve the picture for Windows and businesses. As well as improved hardware from Microsofts partners, the improvement of Windows’ own Surface tablets should benefit users greatly and make Windows 8 a much better product in general.


Windows 8 is not aimed at existing business and enterprise customers

It is instead aimed at users of the fast growing handheld computer sector, comprising tablets, e-readers (such as Amazon’s Kindle) and smartphones. This is an area of the market in which Windows has so far been soundly beaten by Apple and to a much lesser extent, Android.

In June 2011, The Online Publishers Association (OPA) estimated the number of tablet users in the U.S. at 12% of the internet population, a figure that was set to rise to 23% by early 2012. The majority of units are iPads (62%, according to Market Watch), with android tablets making up a small but growing percentage.

The type of usage of tablets, e-readers and smartphones is important to consider. For instance, The Nielsen Company’s May 2011 survey estimated that of 12,000 owners, at least 65% of tablet and smartphone users used their device whilst watching TV and 50% used their preferred device whilst in bed.

With the mobile computer market being dominated by Apple, it is clear to see why Windows have targeted their latest OS at the handheld computer market, rather than focusing on an already well-established business and enterprise customer base.

Windows 8, when used on a desktop or laptop, is an amalgamation of the classic layout, seen in Windows 7, and Metro, the new style of OS. The two styles contrast, with Jekyll and Hyde like results, according to one article. Metro functions well on a tablet, which is yet more emphasis of the direction that Microsoft has pointed its latest OS system.

Is this latest edition a predecessor to all future Microsoft OS? Will Microsoft release another OS tailored towards business and enterprise separately within the next year or two, or will their next release be another mish-mash of systems designed for the handheld device and desktop PC? Business users will surely be hoping against the latter…

Application Security: Adobe Case Study

The promised updates for those who are using the Adobe Reader 9.x and Acrobat 9.x applications on a Microsoft Windows operating system have been released. Adobe had to release the unscheduled updates due to an increased number of cases of hackers exploiting a security weakness in the software which enabled them to hijack the machine, and potentially compromise confidential data.

These updates for the applications aim to prevent hackers from exploiting memory-corruption bugs, which were allowing them to hijack the Windows based machines. When Adobe became aware of the attacks, Adobe’s advisory stated that the security weaknesses were “being actively exploited in limited, targeted attacks in the wild.” It has been well documented that other versions of the applications for other operating systems such as Mac and Unix do possess the same memory corruption bugs. As there have been no instances of the security flaw being exploited on other operating system other than Windows, Adobe have taken the decision to release the patch update with other schedule updates in January.

The attacks have been traced back to as early as November 1st by researchers from antivirus provider Symantec. The hackers initially conducted the attacks by circulating harmful emails which exploited the security weakness and installed the Backdoor. Sykipot. This is a Trojan horse which gives the attacker(s) a back door entry to the compromised computer.

Despite the new updates and previous implementation of other security features such as a security sandbox, it still isn’t easy sailing for Adobe security team. A new vulnerability in the applications has been discovered and is in a remote procedure call (RPC) component. Adobe has yet to comment on how serious they perceive this security flaw to be and so far, they have only revealed that they are “only aware of one instance” of it being used.

Despite the significant security improvements that Adobe have made to their applications over the last year, new vulnerabilities seem to be discovered as previous ones are fixed. There is no doubt that the Adobe security team will keep battling and carry on improving the security of their applications.

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