Microsoft to share more details on its Windows 8 app store

Summary: Microsoft is set to share more details about the Windows Store in Windows 8 on December 6. Will there be synergies with the new Xbox dashboard update, also arriving December 6?

Microsoft plans to share more about the Windows 8 app store at a two-hour preview event in San Francisco on December 6.

Microsoft has invited select developers and local press to hear more details on the Windows Store. The spokesperson declined to share more details prior to the event.

December 6 also happens to be the day when Microsoft will be rolling out its new Xbox 360 dashboard. Testers who’ve been working with a test version of the dashboard (under non-disclosure-agreement terms) have mentioned in passing new app store functionality in the dashboard. Facebook, Hulu, Netflix and Twitter are listed under apps in the preview, testers have said.

Microsoft officials shared some high-level details about the Windows Store at the Build conference in September, even though the Store isn’t operational in the Windows 8 Developer Preview build. They said all Metro-style apps would be available only via the Windows Store. Metro apps will be protected by an account-based (not a machine based) licensing model that is limited to a set number of machines (5). Users will be able to access app trials, buy/download Metro-style apps, license them, have them serviced through the Store.

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Microsoft Lowers Flags to Half-Staff in Tribute to Steve Jobs

As a tribute to Steve Jobs, Microsoft will fly its flags at all its worldwide offices at half staff for two days, reports the blog site Microsoft news. Here is a photo taken of the Microsoft UK offices.

I congratulate Microsoft on this show of respect. Although the two companies were often bitter rivals, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were also friends. In Gates statement on Jobs' death released yesterday, Gates said, "Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues,

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Microsoft kills Google Chrome with bad malware signature

Computerworld - Microsoft scrambled earlier today to revise an antivirus definition file that deleted Google's Chrome browser from users' PCs.

"Wow, that's certainly one way to win the browser war," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security.

Storms was referring to the battle between Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) and rivals, including Chrome, for usage share. According to data from one Web metrics firm, Chrome will pass Mozilla's Firefox as the second-most-popular browser by the end of this year, pitting Google and Microsoft for the top spot.

Chrome users began reporting the specious detection of the browser early Friday in a quickly-growing thread on a Google support forum.

"This morning, after I started up the PC, a Windows Security box popped up and said I had a Security Problem that needed to be removed," said someone identified as "chasd harris" in the first message of the thread. "I clicked the Details button and saw that it was 'PWS:Win32/Zbot.' I clicked the Remove button and restarted my PC. Now I do not have Chrome. It has been removed or uninstalled."

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Intel: We're Not Ditching The Atom Brand

Intel has officially nuked rumors about plans to re-brand its Atom chips.

Recent reports indicate that Intel plans to re-brand its Cedar Trail processors slated for 2012 because demand for Atom-based netbooks, nettops, handheld devices, consumer electronics products and embedded devices have dropped significantly. The reason behind the decline, according to industry sources, is due to the "poor brand image" of Atom CPUs.

According to Intel's roadmap, Cedar Trail CPUs will be launched in November 2011, and will include the Atom N2800 and N2700 for netbooks, and the Atom D2700 and D2500 for nettops. Industry sources claim that the re-branding will cover Intel's N/D/Z/E lineups.

But Friday a spokesperson from Intel squashed the reports. "There are no plans to change the Atom brand. We are on track to launch new Atom processors during the fourth quarter, with more new Atom processors during the first half of 2012."

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Microsoft CEO hints at 'Metro-ization' of Office

Desktop suite will continue, but Microsoft needs a touch-based edition for tablets, says expert

Computerworld - Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Wednesday strongly hinted that the company will craft a Metro-style version of the next Office suite.

"You ought to expect that we are rethinking and working hard on what it would mean to do Office Metro style," said Ballmer, when asked by a Wall Street analyst whether Microsoft is working on a version of Office for Windows 8's Metro touch-based interface.

Metro is the name Microsoft has given the tile- and touch-based interface borrowed from Windows Phone 7, the smartphone operating system, and before that, Zune, the company's portable music player. The interface is the first thing users see when they launch Windows 8, and apps must be specially-coded to run in Metro.

A Metro style look-and-feel would be a massive change for Office, one that would dwarf the "ribbonization" that set off a firestorm of complaints about Office 2007's new look. The criticism died down, and Microsoft later extended the ribbon in Office 2010 and Windows 7. It will ribbonize other components of Windows 8, notably the OS's file manager.

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How To Use HP New Support Page

I was surprised and impressed to see new HP Support page.

The new page is very user friendly and easy to navigate. Below are simple steps to download needed drivers or software for you HP product.

1. Go to

2. Enter you product name or number in the space provided. You may also allow the site to automatically detect your HP product if you do not know the specific name or number of your item. Auto detection may be a good option however I think it is slower as it has to check the system first.

 3. Select your Operating System. Click your Operating System from the list. Happy for Windows user. HP has good support to you but Linux will also be happy to see that HP is now supporting them.

4. Drivers and Software for your selected OS will open available for download. You may use the “Quick jump” option to jump to specific category.

5. Click Download button to start downloading the file.

HP Client Management Solutions - HP System Software Manager
The HP System Software Manager (SSM) is a utility that automatically detects and updates BIOS, device drivers, and management agent versions on your networked PCs.

This is also impressive, especially if you do not mind having another application for this purpose.

New and simple steps above is impressive but I not yet finished giving you easier and more convenient way to update your drivers. I use this third party HP Drivers tool to do all the monitoring, downloading and installing of driver to my computer. What I like about this is its compatibility, other hardware vendors are support by this tool.

Microsoft fixes Mac Office bug in Apple's Lion

Computerworld - Microsoft has released an updated version of Communicator for the Mac that works with Apple's new Lion operating system.

Communicator for Mac 2011 version 13.1.2 was released Thursday to Microsoft's download site, and will be pushed to users via the company's update service shortly, a Microsoft product director promised.

The new version of Communicator resolves the crash bug that afflicted the program when users tried to run it on Mac OS X 10.7, the new operating system Apple launched July 20.

Communicator is the corporate version of Microsoft's consumer-grade Messenger chat client for the Mac, and is available only to business and academic volume licensing customers. It is also the software that connects Mac users to Microsoft's enterprise communications server software, Lync 2010.

Last week, Microsoft's Office for Mac development team reported several problems with the 2011 and 2008 editions of the suite when run on Lion.

At the time, the Communicator crash bug and a glitch that prevents users from importing messages from Apple's Mail email client into Outlook 2011 or Entourage 2008 were the top two issues spelled out then by Pat Fox, a senior director of product development.

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Microsoft Announces Earnings for End of FY 2011

Microsoft has announced its quarterly earnings for the fiscal quarter just ended as well as financial results for its last fiscal year.

Microsoft this week released details for the fourth quarter of the company's 2011 fiscal year, which ended June 30. Redmond recorded revenue of $17.37 billion for the quarter, an eight percent increase from the same period of the prior year. Operating income, net income, and diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $6.17 billion, $5.87 billion, and $0.69 per share, which represented increases of four percent, 30 percent, and 35 percent, respectively, year-over-year.

Because this was the end of Microsoft's FY2011, the company also released details for the entire year. For FY2011, Microsoft reported record revenue of $69.94 billion, a 12 percent increase from the prior year. Operating income, net income, and diluted earnings per share for the year were $27.16 billion, $23.15 billion, and $2.69, which represented increases of 13 percent, 23 percent, and 28 percent year-over-year.

Microsoft reports that its Microsoft Business Division revenue for the fourth quarter grew 7 percent with revenue for the full year increasing 16 percent, while Server and Tools revenue grew 12 percent for the fourth quarter, making it the fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, and grew 11 percent for the full year. Windows and Windows Live Division revenue saw a 1 percent decline for the quarter just ended and revenue for the full year decreased 2 percent. Redmond's Online Services Division revenue grew 17 percent for the quarter and 15 percent for the full year, which the company attributes to increases in search revenue (Bing's U.S. search share increased 340 basis points year-over-year to 14.4 percent this quarter). The ongoing popularity of Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Kinect helped revenue for the Entertainment and Devices Division grow 30 percent for the fourth quarter and massive 45 percent for the year.

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Internet Explorer 9 outperforms competing browsers in malware download test

According to a newly released research by NSS Labs, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 greatly outperforms competing browsers in a test against socially-engineered malware. Based on an active testing against 615 malicious URLs for 19 days, both Internet Explorer 9 and Internet Explorer 8 topped the comparative chart.

Here are the findings:

Windows Internet Explorer 9 - IE9 caught an exceptional 92% of the live threats
Windows Internet Explorer 8 - caught 90% of the live threats
Apple Safari 5 - caught 13% of the live threats
Google Chrome 10 - caught 13% of the live threats
Mozilla Firefox 4 - caught 13% of  the  live threats
Opera 11 - caught 5% of the live threats

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How Do 400 Million Windows 7 Licenses Compare Against Windows XP and Vista History?

Steve Ballmer proudly announced that Microsoft has sold 400 million Windows 7 licenses. It's a big number by any measure, but how does it compare to Windows Vista and Windows XP?

It has become a tradition for me that I am looking a bit closer into Microsoft's operating system license shipments every time Microsoft announces a new number with the subtle remark that a certain Windows is the fastest selling operating system ever. I don't know about you, but I never heard Microsoft ever announcing that any of its OSes was not the fastest selling OS in Windows history. Even Vista was, apparently, but we know that Vista wasn't exactly a success which tells us that a big number does not mean necessarily that a particular OS is a big success.

So, do 400 million Windows 7 licenses mean that Windows 7 is a big hit? Let's see.

We need to break this number down and put it in perspective to actual PC sales. Windows 7 launched on October 22, 2009 and has sold, on average, about 20 million licenses per month since then (give or take a few hundred thousand per month to even out the pre-sales event preceding the OS launch in 2009). During those 20 months, the global PC industry sold about 591 million PCs, which means that Microsoft shipped about 68 Windows licenses for every 100 PCs sold (let's forget the upgrades for a moment and take this number as a way to compare sales).

What is particularly stunning about the 20 million-per-month number is the fact that it is very consistent and there seems to almost clockwork in play to achieve those 20 million units. 100 million Windows 7 licenses were sold after 6 months, 150 million after 8 months, 240 million after 12 months and 300 million after 15 months. It is almost spooky. Windows 7 sales may be declining just a tad from the 8 month mark, but it's not significant.

Windows Vista, in comparison, sold 128 million licenses in 9 months, or 12 months, if we include the 3-month Express Upgrade cycle that enabled Microsoft to make the 2006/2007 holiday season (Vista was officially released to retail in January 2007, but was available through a coupon beginning in October 2006). So, a fair comparison would be that Vista sold just over 10 million units per month in the first year. Microsoft then announced 180 million units in August 2008 or 19/22 months after launch, which dropped the average to about 8 million units per month: interestingly enough, that means that Windows 7 has outsold Vista already as Windows Vista sold 384 million licenses in a best case scenario (48 months * 8 million units) until it was discontinued in October of last year.

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Microsoft Scores Deal to 'Bing' China's Search


Microsoft has scored the English results job for Chinese search engine giant Baidu. Rather than pursue its own search engine market, as Google is doing in China, Microsoft is working on partnerships.

Google's share in China is just under 20 percent, but Baidu commands the vast majority at more than 75 percent of the search market. Microsoft's Bing will return results in English searches.

As quoted by the Financial Times, Samuel Shen, senior vice-president of Microsoft China, said that the partnership "would give Baidu's many users better results and a better English search experience. At the same time, it will allow more Chinese users to experience Bing".

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Microsoft ignores IE slide, touts IE9 success on Windows 7

Chrome on pace to crack 15% usage share by October, Safari continues gains

Computerworld - Chrome and Safari continued to chip away at Internet Explorer's usage share last month, while Firefox remained stalled for the fourth straight month, a Web statistics firm said today.

Meanwhile, Microsoft used the same data from California-based Net Applications to tout the success of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) on Windows 7, where the new browser is now the second-most-popular behind the 15-month-old IE8.

Total IE share fell by six-tenths of a percentage point in June -- the fourth consecutive month that Microsoft's browser slid by that amount or more -- to end at 53.7%, a new low for the browser. The drop was less than the previous three months, when IE's decay accelerated, and more in line with the average decline over the last 12 months.

At its current pace, IE could slip under the 50% bar before the end of this year, ending the majority Microsoft has enjoyed for more than a decade.

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Windows forecast shows XP's one-of-a-kind dominance

 Windows 7 will top out at a 41% share, less than half XP's peak

Computerworld - Windows XP may be the last Microsoft operating system to hold a majority share, according to data from Web metrics company Net Applications.

At its peak, Windows XP powered more than eight out of every 10 computers worldwide. In November 2007, the earliest month for which Computerworld has Net Applications' data, XP accounted for 83.6% of all operating systems.

Although Windows XP's share has gradually declined since then, it still enjoys a slight majority: Last month, XP owned a 52.4% share.

The long lag time between Windows XP's release in 2001 and Vista's debut in late 2006 -- combined with Vista's stumble in the marketplace -- are the factors usually cited to explain XP's large-scale and long-term dominance.

Both conditions could be reproduced -- Microsoft might face future failures like Vista -- but the one least likely to happen again is the five-year gap between upgrades.

That's because Microsoft has taken to a three-year development cycle. Even though the company has been mum about a ship date for Windows 8, the operating system it showed off last week, most experts have pegged its release to the fall of 2012, or three years after Windows 7's launch.

With a regular cadence between upgrades, it's unlikely that any one edition of Windows will be able to duplicate XP's supremacy.

Forecasts based on Net Applications' numbers bear that out.

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Ballmer promises Windows 8 PCs, slates and tablets in 2012

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has promised a Windows 8 release next year.

Ballmer, speaking at Microsoft’s Developer Forum in Japan on Monday, promised a Windows 8 release across PCs, tablets and slates next year. “As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8,” said Ballmer. “Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.” Ballmer’s mention of Windows 8 is a stark contrast to that of his colleagues. Steven Sinofsky and the Windows team typically refers to Windows 8 as the “next-generation” of Windows, avoiding the 8 branding. Mary Jo Foley reports that a Microsoft spokesperson referred to Ballmer’s words as a “misstatement.”

    “We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows. Windows 7 PCs will sell over 350 million units this year. We’ve done a lot in Windows 7 to improve customer satisfaction. We have a brand new user interface. We’ve added touch, and ink, and speech. And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.”

Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky will appear at the All Things Digital D9 conference next week. WinRumors reported on Monday that Sinofsky plans to demo Windows 8 at the conference. The demo will likely only be a “technology preview” of what Microsoft is planning for its tablet and slate come back. Microsoft has been secretly preparing an “immersive” tablet experience inside Windows 8. The “immersive” experience will include a Metro based user interface according to sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans. Microsoft will include a new application model codenamed “Jupiter” that will allow developers to create Silverlight based applications, deployed as AppX packages (.appx). The packages will be part of a new Windows application store, pre-installed with Windows 8. WinRumors understands the company will be looking to provide an easy way for existing Windows Phone developers to scale their applications for use with Jupiter.

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Windows 7 Infection Rate Lower Than Windows XP

Newer is better.

A newer Windows is a safer Windows, as Microsoft proved with its internal security findings comparing its three most recent versions of its OS family.

Windows XP SP2 suffered a quarterly infection rate of 19.3 computers per thousand. SP3 improved things to 15.9 per thousand.

Windows Vista improved upon those numbers significantly. Windows Vista SP1 had 9.8 infections per thousand, while SP2 hit 7.5. The 64-bit versions of the OS did even better at 6.6 and 5.3, respectively.

Windows 7 was the best of all with the 32-bit version having only a 3.8 infection rate, and the 64-bit improving to 2.5 per thousand.

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How Microsoft, Skype, Nokia can rule: Cut out obscene data roaming rates abroad

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates stumped for the $8.5 billion Skype purchase and international domination may be a good reason for the enthusiasm. Microsoft, Nokia and Skype could be deadly to data roaming charges.

In a BBC interview, Gates said he advocated for the Skype acquisition. Surprise! Did you expect Gates to say that he hated the Skype purchase and that it was too pricey?

In the BBC chat, Gates said video conferencing will improve. He’s alluding to the fact that video phones will be common—you could argue that they are today via tablets and Skype.

Kevin Fox, a Mozilla Labs designer, argued that Microsoft-Skype and Nokia can upend mobile carriers. Google is aiming for something similar.

I agree with Fox, but there are a few other key items to consider about the Microsoft-Skype combination with a broad partnership with Nokia. Here’s the landscape:
* Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 on Nokia phones will still have a tough time getting traction in the U.S.
* In Europe, however, Microsoft and Nokia could do significant damage in terms of market share gains.
* Skype is well received abroad and serves as a killer app on a solid mobile OS with good hardware from Microsoft and Nokia, respectively.
* Europe also happens to be the place where data roaming charges are obscene. ZDNet highlighted the data roaming issue in polls around the world.
* Take those moving parts and Nokia and Microsoft could take Skype and integrate it to the point where it can minimize carrier connections on the fly. If Skype could instinctively leverage Wi-Fi where ever possible—or cut out wireless carriers entirely—Nokia and Microsoft could do a real service.
* And those data roaming charges are high enough where even folks that even the Microsoft phobic would play along.

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Microsoft software satisfaction rating hits record high

But high ratings can't solve slumping sales

Computerworld - Americans are more enamored than ever with Microsoft's software, according to a national customer satisfaction survey released today.

Microsoft scored a record 79 points in the newest poll conducted by American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a consumer survey started by the University of Michigan.

The three-point increase over 2009's results -- representing a 7% gain -- put Microsoft's rating at its highest level since ACSI began quizzing Americans about the quality of computer software in 2006.

And it shows that Microsoft's put the Vista debacle behind it, said David VanAmburg, the ACSI's director.

"Microsoft's continued improvement over the last three years suggests that we're out of the Vista phenomenon," said VanAmburg, referring to the hammering Microsoft took after it launched Vista in early 2007 with nearly-instant bad reviews.

MIcrosoft's ACSI rating has improved each of the last three years after dipping as low as 69 in 2008, the second year of Vista's general availability.

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Microsoft Buys Skype in $8.5 Billion Deal

Microsoft will purchase VoIP service juggernaut Skype for $8.5 billion in a deal to be officially announce Tuesday morning. The all-cash deal will make Microsoft a powerful player in Internet-based voice and video communications overnight. Microsoft issued a press release Tuesday morning making the rumored acquisition official.

Previous reports suggested the purchase price would be somewhere between $7 billion and $8 billion. Skype has been on sale for a while now, and a number of companies reportedly showed interest in purchasing the Web-based phone and video chat service, including Facebook, Google, and Cisco.

The $8.5 billion purchase is Microsoft's largest acquisition in nearly three decades. Until now, Microsoft's most expensive acquisition was its 2007 purchase of digital marketing services agency aQuantive for $6 billion.

Despite Skype's having a debt of $686 million, the deal should be a plus for Microsoft. After all, Microsoft will finally have a brand-name Web service under its wing, though it's believed Microsoft plans to integrate Skype into Microsoft Live.

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Unpatched DLL bugs let hackers exploit Windows 7 and IE9, says researcher

Although Microsoft has patched multiple DLL load hijacking vulnerabilities since last summer, Windows and Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) can still be exploited, a security company warned today.

Microsoft confirmed that it's investigating the claims by Slovenia-based Acros Security.

Researchers from Acros will demonstrate the new attacks at the Hack in the Box security conference in Amsterdam later this month.

"We'll reveal how IE8 and IE9 can be used on Windows 7, Vista and XP for attacking users without any security warnings, even in 'Protected mode,' and how to remotely make many seemingly-safe applications, for example, Word 2010 and PowerPoint 2010, vulnerable," said Acros CEO Mitja Kolsek in a Friday email.

The attack class called "DLL load hijacking" by some, but dubbed "binary planting" by Acros, jumped into public view last August when HD Moore, the creator of the Metasploit penetration hacking toolkit and chief security officer at Rapid7, found dozens of vulnerable Windows applications. Moore's report was followed by others, including several from Kolsek and Acros.

Many Windows applications don't call DLLs using a full path name, but instead use only the filename, giving hackers a way to trick an application into loading a malicious file with the same title as a required DLL. If attackers can dupe users into visiting malicious Web sites or remote shared folders, or get them to plug in a USB drive -- and in some cases con them into opening a file -- they can hijack a PC and plant malware on it.

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13 Windows Key Tips

For most people, the Windows key (you know, the one with the flag on it?) just sits neglected on your keyboard. It was fairly well known when Vista was released that the then-new (and not yet reviled) OS included a new way to shuffle through open application windows. Using the Windows key while successively pressing the tab key displayed the Aero Flip 3-D view of your windows flying by in mid-screen. Well, that still works in Windows 7, though it's probably just as convenient to stick with the less glitzy Alt-tab to switch through windows, or just choose the one you want from the now-bigger Taskbar.

But the Windows key does a lot more than this fancy scrolling. Windows 7 added a new way to hide all windows at once to reveal the desktop that involves moving the mouse pointer all the way down to the lower-right-hand corner of your screen. While that new Aero Peek is cool, sometimes you want a quicker way to view the desktop. For example, pressing Windows key + D reveals your desktop far quicker than moving the pointer to the corner. If you just want a peek, it's even easier—hit Windows key + Spacebar.

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Asus eee Transformer Sold Out, But Who Bought Them?

The Motorola Xoom isn't xoom-ing off the shelves, but the Asus eee Pad Transformer tablet apparently sold out at on its first day of launch.

At $399, the lowest-priced of the Android tablets combines a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, Android 3.0 ("Honeycomb") operating system, 10.1-inch display, dual-facing cameras, and 16GB of storage. It uses the Corning Gorilla Glass technology to protect it from scrapes and drops, and supports up to 10-finger multitouch support against its 1,280-by-800 resolution. As its name implies, it transforms from a laptop to tablet.

Launched in U.S. stores on Tuesday, the tablet appears to be sold out at, though it is unclear whether or not Asus simply didn't stock a reasonable amount. A Best Buy salesman said Asus didn't have enough tablets to stock its brick and mortar stores, and that Best Buy's online retail stores had already sold out. "But UPS may be on the way right now," the salesman said.

Last week Asus released a statement apologizing to UK customers for selling out of Transformer tablets so quickly. "Initial demand for the Eee Pad Transformer has been far beyond our expectations," the company said. "Following the on-sale date (6th April 2011) the first batches delivered to the UK have entirely sold out. Please accept our sincere apologies for the difficulties regarding stock availability with our retail partners."

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Troubleshoot and Fix Your Windows PC Problems

Networking nightmares? Haunted by your crashed hard drive? Read on for troubleshooting tips on all your Windows problems.

If you stop and think about it, a Windows PC is a pretty amazing machine. That little box (or big box, if you use a desktop) contains dozens of small components most likely made by different companies, in different factories all around the world. All you have to do is press the power button, and Windows makes everything work together.

Except sometimes it doesn't. Instead, one of those dozens of small components is causing you endless pain and suffering every time you turn the darn thing on.

We can help.

Windows Task ManagerCheck out this handful of how-tos aimed at helping you fix your PC, whether you're facing a series of small annoyances or a show-stopping crash crisis. Read on, and you'll be armed with tips for fixing a home network, troubleshooting with Windows Task Manager, and resolving several other Windows nightmares. Looking to recover lost files or damaged data? We've got you covered.

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Rumor: Windows 8 Set for September Reveal

The Windows 8 talk has really been heating up over the last week or so and today brings speculation about a possible release date for the OS.

It’s been 18 months since Microsoft’s Windows 7 hit retailers’ shelves and if the latest reports are to be believed, the beta of the next version Windows will arrive in six month’s time. Microsoft has announced that the company’s annual Professional Developers Conference will kick off September 13 and run through to September 16.

Considering Microsoft debuted the first public beta of Windows 7 at PDC 2008, Business Insider is leading the way in speculating that PDC 2011 will include a demo of the first public beta of Windows 8.

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Control Your PC Using Only Your Eyes

Built for customers with spinal injuries or limited motor skills, this USB device allows the user to control a PC by mere eye movement.

ZoomTuesday Tobii revealed an eye control device for the PC, a gadget which literally allows the user to control a PC by mere eye movement.

Called the Tobii PCEye, the gadget is primarily designed for those needing an alternative method for controlling a mouse and a computer--those with spinal cord injuries or with limited motor skills due to ALS.

Like an old-school webcam, the Tobi PCEye mounts on the bottom of an LCD panel and connects to the PC via a USB port. After completing a one-time calibration, users can thus control their entire computer through gazing, blinking or dwelling on an item with their eyes.

"Ease of use, reliability and outstanding performance were our design goals for the PCEye," said Oscar Werner, Executive Vice President at Tobii Assistive Technology. "I believe that we have created a device that satisfies a very important need – those with high cognitive levels and motor skill impairments now have the computer access they need to lead a more independent life."

Although the company didn't get into the gritty details on how the device actually works, Tobii said that its eye tracking technology can effectively track nearly every user (over 95-percent) regardless of eye color, lighting conditions, environments or head movement. Tobii also said that its track box (explained as the box defining the area/volume in which a person's eyes can be tracked) is one of the largest on the market.

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Intel doubles capacity, drops price in refresh of popular SSD line

Solid-State Drive 320 series offers up to 30% drop in price; capacities increased by up to triple that of X25-M drives

Computerworld - Intel announced today a new line of consumer-class solid-state drives based on its smallest 25 nanometer (nm) circuitry that replaces the chip maker's most popular SSD, the X25-M.

The new 2.5-in. Intel Solid-State Drive 320 Series offers models that more than triple capacity over the X25-M and reduces prices by up to 30%, or $100, on some models. While aimed at the laptop and desktop market, the consumer SSD has also been Intel's most popular model for servers in data centers.
SSD 320 doubles sequential write speeds
The SSD 320 more than doubled sequential write speeds from Intel's second-generation X25-M consumer SSD, to 220MB/sec.

With the 320 Series, Intel has added native 128-bit AES encryption on the drives, which protects data while at rest on the NAND flash memory.

For data resiliency, Intel also included surplus NAND flash chips on the drive's board over and above the usable capacity. If the SSD's controller detects a potential chip failure, it automatically migrates data to the spare capacity.

Intel has also included small capacitors in its latest SSD, so that in the event of a power loss, data writes in progress to the NAND flash memory will be completed.

"We're talking about microseconds [of power] here, not seconds," said Kishore Rao, product line manager for SSDs. "There's just enough reserve current to complete any writes that were in progress."

Michael Yang, an analyst with market research firm iSuppli, called the SSD 320 Intel's "Honda Accord." Yang noted that Intel is not the first manufacturer to offer native encryption or data redundancy features on an SSD, but he said they have added what amounts to enterprise-class features on a consumer-class SSD.

For example, SSDs made with SandForce and Indilinx controllers -- such as those from OCZ -- also come with native encryption.

"This is not a leadership product by any stretch," Yang said. "But it's a good product, especially for a 25nm SSD."

Intel's legacy consumer SSD series, the X25-M, comes in 80GB and 160GB models. The new SSD 320 Series offers capacities ranging from 40GB to 600GB.

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Intel ships first Celeron chip based on Sandy Bridge

IDG News Service - Intel this month started shipping its first Celeron laptop processor based on Sandy Bridge architecture. It is a cheaper and stripped down version of the new Core i3, i5 and i7 counterparts.

The dual-core Celeron B810 processor runs at a speed of 1.6GHz, includes 2MB of cache and draws up to 35 watts of power. The chip is priced at $86 when purchased in quantities of 1,000.

Celeron chips have been used in low-cost laptops designed for basic applications such as word processing and Internet surfing. Over the last two years, single-core Celeron chips have been used in sub-$300 laptops with 15.6-inch screens. The Celeron chip usually competes with AMD's V-series and Sempron processors.

PC makers have not yet announced laptops based on the Celeron chips.

According to product details on Intel's website, the Celeron B810 includes integrated graphics capabilities just like the Core i3, i5 and i7 chips, which are being used in the recently announced business and ultraportable laptops from Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. But the Celeron chip is missing some power saving and speed-enhancement features such as Turbo Boost 2.0, in which idle processing cores can be shut down or cranked up depending on the level of processing power needed.

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HP Slimline Transferred to Mini Tower Case

My friend’s new HP Slimline power supply broke down due to wrong power supply rating used. It was setup for 110volts however mistakenly plugged to 220volts then boom!

I had problem getting replacement for its power supply because of its rare slim design and availability from HP. So it came into my mind to transfer its entire component to a bigger case – mini tower minus the broken power supply. This idea worked like a charm. Everything worked perfectly, motherboard is like ordinary board that fits into the new case. I also like this idea of having enough room for heat being bigger.

Asus Making a $200 Android or Chrome Netbook

ASUS is a pioneer of the low-cost, small notebook made for internet consumption. That was the original concept behind the Linux-based Eee PC, but soon that grew into something bigger when Windows XP invaded and owned the segment.

Now Google has something that could be a very good alternative to Linux in the form of Chrome OS. We put Google's own Cr-48 through its paces and we came away impressed with computing from the cloud.

Reports from Taiwan now point to Asus as working on a low-cost netbook that could float around the $200 to $250 range that will run a Google OS. Interestingly, the report says that it could be either Android 3.0 or Chrome OS.

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Microsoft Patch Tuesday Targets Four Bugs, One Critical

Microsoft on Tuesday issued three security bulletins that tackle four vulnerabilites. Just one of the vulnerabilities is rated critical. The other three are essentially the same bug, despite the fact that they affect three different products.

The first bug, MS11-015, describes two vulnerabilities in Windows Media. One, the only rated critical in this group, is a bug in Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player related to the handling of .dvr-ms files. It can lead to remote code execution in the context of user.

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Asus Motherboard Box Turns into PC Chassis

Now here's one way to stay green: use the motherboard packaging as a chassis.

We've seen mods in the past that bypass the chassis and use what's available in the nearby vicinity to create a unique rig. A great example was the one crammed within a used Little Caesar's pizza box; another resided in an actual trash can. Needless to say, the modders were looking to stay "green" with their designs, and it seems that ASUS may be following in those footsteps starting this June.

According to a report by PCWorld, Asus plans to alter the shipping box for one of its upcoming Mini ATX motherboards so that additional components can be added without removing the mainboard, thus replacing the typical metal chassis with the cardboard box. Punch-out holes for ventilation will also be present as well as an actual panel for containing the rig's connectors and interfaces.

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Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is Ready for Download

Microsoft has released its first Service Pack for the Windows 7 operating system addressing minor OS nips and tucks.

Bug fixes and security patches don't make for the most exciting Windows update, but they're the high points of Windows 7 Service Pack 1, now widely available for download.

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is now available from Microsoft's Website for download, or via Windows Update, and by ordering an installation DVD. Windows 7 SP1 takes roughly 30 minutes to install, and you'll have to restart the computer halfway through. System requirements and detailed installation instructions can also be found on Microsoft's Website.

Here are the most notable changes in SP1:

*     A bug fix for HDMI audio devices that stopped working after restarting the computer

*     Corrected behavior when printing mixed-orientation XPS documents

*     Changed behavior of the "Restore previous folders at logon" functionality so that all folders are restored to their previous position, rather than in cascading order based on the most recently active folders.

The service pack also includes all previously released security, stability and performance updates for Windows 7. Like I said, not very exciting.

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Rumor: Dell May Purchase AMD

MD's inner-turmoil may have positioned it as a prime target for an acquisition by Dell or companies.

Monday AMD saw a sudden 4.2-percent rise in share value by 4pm in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, jumping 35 cents to $8.63 per share. The increase was reportedly due to speculation that AMD may be a take-out target for Dell or other OEMs looking to purchase the nation's second-largest CPU manufacturer.

Currently AMD may be conceived as a prime target. Back in January, Chief Executive Officer Dirk Meyer stepped down from his position after fighting with the board over the company's lack of products in an expanding mobile computer market, and its overall lack of progress in regaining lost shares of the server market. For now Financial Officer Thomas Seifert is acting as interim CEO, but he made it clear he doesn't want the position to be permanent.

Then just last week Chief Operating Officer Robert Rivet and strategy head Marty Seyer announced that they were also leaving AMD. Although the reasons were not provided, it's speculated that the two decided to leave when AMD announced it would conduct an external search for the new CEO. Rivet and Seyer may have assumed that they would not be considered for the position, and quit.

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IBM and Samsung In Huge Patent Deal

IBM and Samsung have agreed on a patent cross-licensing deal under which the companies are licensing their "respective" patent portfolios to each other.

ZoomAccording to IBM, the deal includes a "wide range" of semiconductors, telecommunications, visual and mobile communication, software and technology services. While there was no detailed information available our sources mentioned that the agreement is likely among the widest ranging ever signed in the IT industry.

Of course, such an agreement was merely a matter of time, as IBM and Samsung are the leading organizations in the U.S. patent race in which the companies are attempting to acquire copyrights in truckload volumes. Of the 219,614 patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year, IBM gobbled up 5896 and Samsung 4551. This week alone, IBM was granted 152 patents and applied for 47, which is a rather low number for the company. Samsung received 113 patents and filed 121 applications. 

Not all of the patents filed and granted relate directly to the company's business and the patent listings are occasionally entertaining reading material from the outside. For example, IBM received a patent for a specific (lawn) irrigation system and Samsung recently ventured into automatic shooting robots. The favorite remains Samsung's attempt to patent the patent. So it makes only sense that these two giants cross-patent a large portion of their "portfolios".

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ASUS Introduces P67 Series Motherboard

The Intel P67 Chipset is a game changer. A revolutionary redesign of the CPU micro-architecture enables P67-based systems to post the most impressive gains in speed and performance seen in the latter half of the last decade. Users looking towards the future will have their eye on integrating P67 motherboards in their PCs.

Providing top-notch pairing solutions with Intel processors is nothing new for ASUS. Known for its reliability and performance, ASUS is the number one choice for computer components.

ASUS designed diverse solutions for the Intel P67 Chipset. For gamers and overclocking enthusiasts, ASUS offers the unmatched power of the ROG Maximus IV Extreme and tough, durable Sabertooth P67. For business owners, the P8P67 series is competitively priced and positioned to fulfill the ever-increasing needs of expanding modern businesses. At the high-end, the P8P67 Pro and Deluxe provide impressive performance and stability with advanced features, while the P8P67 LE presents a conservative option for the budget-minded user.

For space-conscious users, ASUS offers MicroATX solutions: the P8P67-M and P8P67-M Pro. MicroATX solutions offer compact design, energy-efficiency, and space-efficiency while still preserving basic functionality and compatibility with standard PC components.

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Last Friday, a friend of mine asked me to fix his Dell OptiPlex GX 620 having BSOD Unmountable_Boot_Volume.

Ok, here is what I’ve done:

1. Booted the computer to see the problem and confirm it myself. My friend did not know exactly what the error is.

2. Tried booting in Safe Mode knowing that there is really a problem.

3. Then I hit the BSOD Unmountable_Boot_Volume error.

4. Forced reboot the computer by holding the power button.

5. Booted using Windows XP installation disk that comes with the computer (dell)

6. Went to Recovery Console

7. Issued command: chkdsk /r (check disk with repair option), that particular error is caused by dirty or faulty hard drive sectors.

8. Waited for more than an hour to finish the process.

9. While still in Recover Console, I issued: fixboot to fix the boot sectors.

10. Exit Recovery Console and rebooted the computer.

11. Updated the sound card (Realtek Audio Driver) and video card (ATI)

11. Rejoiced! Error is fixed.

Reference on the internet for Windows XP computers are everywhere and this is one thing I like about Windows XP. J

Microsoft Has Sold 300 Million Windows 7 Licences

We already know that Windows 7 has seen a much more positive reception than its predecessor, Windows Vista. Last summer Microsoft announced that it had shipped an impressive 175 million Windows 7 licenses. So how are sales now that the OS has been available for more than a year?

As part of its quarterly earnings call yesterday, Microsoft revealed that the company has now sold 300 million Windows 7 licenses.

“To put that in perspective, 300 million is roughly the combined number of households in North American and in Europe!” writes Brandon LeBlanc on the Windows blo. “Or, to put it another way, if you lined up 300 million Windows 7 product boxes, they would stretch nearly 1.5 times around the Earth,” he said.

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Facebook phone to debut next month

PC World - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's belittling of the idea of burning the social network's brand on a smartphone has done little to squash the rumors that such an animal will be unleashed this year. The latest prediction is that Taiwan-based phone maker HTC will pull the wraps off two smartphones bearing Facebook's brand and colors at an event in Barcelona next month.

The phones will run a "tweaked" version of Google's Android operating system and will prominently display their owner's Facebook messages and news feeds on the phone's home screen, City A.M., the online edition of a London-based free business newspaper, reported today in a story citing unnamed sources.

Another feature will be the ability to e-mail or call friends from information located on a user's Facebook page.

Joe Hewitt, who developed the Facebook app for the iPhone but left the platform in a huff, and Matthew Papakipos, director of engineering at Facebook, are thought to be behind the launch, according to the business newspaper.

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10 Most Memorable Tech CEOs of the Digital Era

Which of these CEOs will we remember in 50 years?

Chief Executive Officer is a title with significant cachet. As a CEO, you may as well be a modern day king of a commercial fiefdom. Your influence within your firm is unmatched, and your leadership determines the success or failure of everyone serving beneath you.

Through a complex series of cascading algorithms stuffed into an Excel spreadsheet, a few coin tosses, the heart of a Wookie, and the brain of a historian, I have determined what I consider the 10 most memorable CEOs of the digital era. With the PCMag audience in mind, favor was given to American CEOs of prominent high tech companies. As for the "digital era," well, that's a fuzzy term that essentially means post-WWII, computer-related companies.

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WD Again Outships Seagate in Disk Drives

Western Digital again shipped more disk drives than Seagate in the fourth quarter of 2010, although Seagate's stronger enterprise presence allowed it to top WD in overall revenue.

WD said Wednesday that it shipped 52.2 million disk drives, versus 48.9 million for Seagate, the third consecutive quarter Western Digital has reigned as the overall leader in disk-drive unit sales.

But Seagate pulled in $150 million in net income and $2.7 billion in revenue, versus WD's net income of $225 million and revenue of $2.475 billion. Profitability has been historically somewhat rare in the disk-drive market, although the industry has worked hard to keep costs under control.

WD topped analyst estimates for unit sales, although Seagate underperformed. Western Digital was expected to ship 51.5 million HDD units in the fourth quarter, up 1.7 percent from 50.7 million units in the third quarter, iSuppli said on Dec 15. Seagate was expected to ship 49.5 million drives, up 0.6 percent from 49.2 million units during the same period.

"Calendar 2010 was a year of tremendous opportunity for the hard drive industry with 651 million drives shipped, that's 330 million terabytes of storage capacity sold into a broadening set of applications and markets,"said John Coyne, president and chief executive officer of WD, in prepared remarks. "At 16 percent, this was the industry's strongest full year unit growth in five years. Rotating magnetic storage remains the dominant technology solution for high volume, mass storage of digital content in both the consumer and commercial markets. Full-year revenue for the industry expanded by some 13 percent to $34 billion.

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PC Growth Slows During the Fourth Quarter

PC growth slowed during the fourth quarter, evidence that in this category, at least, the recovery was not as strong as expected.

Using preliminary figures, Gartner reported that 93.5 million units were sold during the fourth quarter, up 3.1 percent from a year ago, but below Gartner's earlier projection of 4.8 percent growth. Rival IDC said that 92.1 million PCs were sold, up 2.7 percent and under the previous projection of 5.5 percent.

Chipmakers like had begun warning of lower holiday sales as early as September.

The quarter saw no shifts in the rankings of the top five PC vendors, either in the United States or worldwide. Both firms noted that Lenovo grew sharply in the worldwide PC market however, nearly overtaking Acer to become the world's third-largest PC vendor.

IDC blamed the rise of tablets for the slowing PC market, and named the Apple iPad specifically.

"The US market was expected to shrink year over year given the exploding growth experienced in the fourth quarter of 2009," said David Daoud, the research director who oversaw IDC's quarterly PC tracker forecast, in a statement. "Growth steadily slowed throughout 2010 as weakening demand and competition from the Apple iPad constrained PC shipments. In addition to relatively high market penetration and a 'good-enough' computing experience with existing PCs, consumers are being more cautious with their purchases and competing devices have been vying for consumer dollars. This situation is likely to persist in 2011, if not worsen, as a wave of Media Tablets could put a dent in the traditional PC market."

Gartner also noted the tablet phenomenon. "Overall, holiday PC sales were weak in many key regions due to the intensifying competition in consumer spending, said said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement. "Media tablets, such as the iPad, as well as other consumer electronic (CE) devices, such as game consoles, all competed against PCs."

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Obama Wants Internet ID for All Americans

These will be IDs provided by online vendors for financial transactions.

CBS reports that the Obama administration is currently working on the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, a cybersecurity effort that essentially hands out Internet IDs to all Americans. Once completed, the new plan will be handled by the U.S. Commerce Department rather than the Department of Homeland Security or the National Security Agency.

"We are not talking about a national ID card," said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke during an event at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. "We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities."

For now the details surrounding the upcoming security measure are scarce, unusually so according to CBS. However when it was first revealed late last year, there was indication that users would have a smart card or digital certificate that would prove their actual identities. There would be offered to consumers by online vendors for financial transactions.

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Microsoft to put next Windows OS on ARM chips

IDG News Service - Microsoft said Wednesday that the next version of its Windows PC operating system will run on ARM processors, part of an effort to adapt Windows to the fast-growing market for tablet computers, where Apple and Google have gained traction.

It's a big move for Microsoft, whose desktop OS has traditionally run only on x86-type processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. Chips based on ARM designs use much less power and are dominant in smartphones like the BlackBerry and iPhone and in tablets like the Apple iPad.

Microsoft executives made the announcement during a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where tablet computers are the hot topic. CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to talk further about the effort in his keynote address that opens the show Wednesday evening.

The move will bring Microsoft's operating system into the era of "system on chip" processors, such as the ARM chips made by Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, said Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live Division.

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