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Microsoft Surface

The article will provide a reader with information on Microsoft Surface.  shafkats-work-imageAs the only Microsoft-branded Windows RT hardware to launch with the new operating system the tablet serves as ambassador and flagship for the touch-focused, wildly risky Windows grand experiment. The Surface excels thanks to its thoughtful design, sensible implementation of its keyboard accessory, and the innovations brought about by the interface formerly known as “Metro” — chief among them: the gesture-driven menu system, powerful search tool, and incredibly cool and versatile split-screen feature.

The features and aesthetic details that do set it apart are significant, if not immediately apparent. For one, the Surface sports a 10.6-inch screen, which is only about 0.5 inch larger than most full-size, mainstream tablets’ screens and 0.9 inch larger than the iPad’s screen. However, this larger screen affords it a true 16:9 aspect ratio at a screen resolution of 1,366×768 pixels. This aspect ratio matches most movies and TV shows, eliminating the need for black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. While movies shot in Scope (2.35:1) will still display with black bars, they’re not nearly as all-encompassing as when watching the same movies on an iPad with its 4:3 aspect ratio.
Microsoft Surface is the best productivity tablet yet, and it had better be. As the only Microsoft-branded Windows RT hardware to launch with the new operating system (Windows 8 launches this week as well), the tablet serves as ambassador and flagship for the touch-focused, wildly risky Windows grand experiment. The Surface excels thanks to its thoughtful design, sensible implementation of its keyboard accessory, and the innovations brought about by the interface formerly known as “Metro” — chief among them: the gesture-driven menu system, powerful search tool, and incredibly cool and versatile split-screen feature.
The Surface sports a 10.6-inch screen, which is only about 0.5 inch larger than most full-size, mainstream tablets’ screens and 0.9 inch larger than the iPad’s screen. However, this larger screen affords it a true 16:9 aspect ratio at a screen resolution of 1,366×768 pixels. This aspect ratio matches most movies and TV shows, eliminating the need for black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. While movies shot in Scope (2.35:1) will still display with black bars, they’re not nearly as all-encompassing as when watching the same movies on an iPad with its 4:3 aspect ratio.

Then there’s the Surface’s beveled back, which contributes to its sleek, somewhat industrial-looking metallic aesthetic. It looks practical without being cold, and just feels like a high-quality device that Microsoft cut few corners to make.  The entire chassis is surrounded by a full magnesium (VaporMg, pronounced “Vapor Mag”) outer casing that’s supposedly both scratch- and wear-resistant; however, scratches are already beginning to appear on my unit. In the top middle of the front bezel, next to an ambient light sensor, is the front-facing 720p-capable camera. Several inches below that on the bottom of the bezel sits the Windows home touch sensor, which takes user back to the Start screen or to the last app a user had open if use is already at the Start screen.

Along the right edge, from the top, are a speaker grille, a Micro-HDMI port, a full USB 2.0 port, and the power port, which magnetically attaches the power cable. At the far right of the top edge is a lone power/sleep button. The left edge features an additional speaker grille, a headphone jack, and a satisfyingly tactile and clicky volume rocker. Seated toward the bottom of the left edge is an inch-long groove that allows user to easily pull out the built-in kickstand and prop the tablet up.

The microSD port, located under the kickstand, can be accessed, in a somewhat awkward fashion, once the stand is engaged. On the bottom edge is another array of magnets where the Touch and Type Cover keyboards connect.
The Surface houses a 1.3GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU as its brains and comes in both 32GB and 64GB varieties. Its microSD card slot supports up to 128GB cards, and the tablet includes 2GB of RAM. It has 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 4.0, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and a built-in compass, but no GPS.

Microsoft Surface Tablet

The article will provide a reader with information on Microsoft Surface tablet.  The design credentials and specification of Microsoft Surface Tablet is attractive.  It’s thin, it’s light, it’s comfortable to hold, it runs Windows RT as excellently, it makes a user want to touch it but it’s also designed so a user can snap the magnetically attached cover into place.

Design The front is sleek black glass, precision bonded to the magnesium alloy, with only a Windows logo visible – the word Microsoft doesn’t show up on the case anywhere. Turn it on and the 10.6″ screen fills most of the Surface’s front display, but the four edges have half an inch of bezel so that a user can hold it comfortably.  The Windows logo isn’t just for show; it’s a touch button that gives a user the Start screen when he/she taps on it, plus the whole bezel is touch-aware so a user can swipe across it to bring up the App bar or the switching pane.

The Surface is light and comfortable to hold; the edges are sloped to provide a user with a comfortable grip.  The magnesium alloy chassis is covered with a soft coating that feels durable and expensive.  If a user doesn’t want to hold it, there’s a built-in stand that’s like a large hinge running across the entire back of the Surface, with another Windows logo in a slightly matte finish.

The hinge is usually held in place by an array of magnets so it doesn’t fall out if a user shakes the Surface around; on the left there’s a little cutout in the edge of the hinge to make it easier to flip out.  The Surface tablet also balances well on the hinge, which has two long rubber feet to stabilise it.  With the Touch Cover on, a user can easily balance the Surface on a lap for typing like a notebook without it falling forward or tipping over backwards.

T bottohem edge is filled with the magnetic keyboard connector, the top has the power button and the sides have two speakers, dual microphones, microSD, one USB 2.0 port (USB 3.0 for the Surface Pro) and Micro HDMI (on the surface Pro that’s mini DisplayPort), plus a magnetic power connector.

The magnesium alloy chassis and the precision design give the Surface RT a sturdy feel. The Touch Cover is the ultra-thin touch keyboard for those that value portability; the Type Cover is the slightly thicker keyboard with physical buttons for those that want keys that actually move rather than just the audio feedback of the Touch Cover. Both have the same connection and they snap into the magnetic latch easily but firmly; little latches fit into the Surface itself, which is why it stays in place even if a user is holding the cover and letting the keyboard drop under its own weight.

After reading the article a user would have gained knowledge and understanding about Microsoft Surface Tablet.

Cause of Windows 7 Black Screen of Death Announced

The Windows 7 ‘black screen of death’ is being blamed on malware.

The problem arises when users are confronted by a totally black screen when they log on to their computer.

Initially it was thought that Microsoft’s own security update could have caused the problem but that has now been ruled out.

The company that made the suggestion that the security update was the problem has apologised for its claims and reports are suggesting that the problem affects Windows Vista and XP, too.

Microsoft revealed in a blog on its security site that it was looking into the claims and “found that our November Security Updates are not making changes to the system that these reports say are responsible for these issues”.

Microsoft believe that the issue was probably due to malware, such as Daonol.

Amid the confusion over the cause, software company Prevx had said the November update may have been to blame, but have retracted their statement, saying it had been a “challenging issue” to identify the cause of the problem.

The firm announced on their website that “having narrowed down a specific trigger for this condition we’ve done quite a bit of testing and re-testing on the recent Windows patches including KB976098 and KB915597 as referred to in our previous blog”.

“Since more specifically narrowing down the cause we have been able to exonerate these patches from being a contributory factor.”

Prevx issued an apology to Microsoft “for any inconvenience” its initial claims may have caused.

Prevx has offered a fix for the problem, which it says could affect “millions” of computers worldwide.

David Kennerley, an employee for Prevx, wrote in a blog post that “users have resorted to reloading Windows as a last ditch effort to fix the problem”.

“We hope we can help a good many of you avoid the need to reload.”

Although Prevx don’t believe that the fix will always work, with Mr Kennerley stating that “there can be many causes”.

“But if your black screen woes began in the last two weeks… or after running any security program (including Prevx) to remove malware during this time, then this fix will have a high probability of working.”

“At least 10 different scenarios which will trigger the same black screen conditions,” according to Mr Kennerley.

“These appear to have been around for years now”.

Prevx believe that the black screen of death can affect Windows 7, Vista, XP, NT, and Windows 2000.

Microsoft would like all those that experience problems should get in touch with their customer service line.

The “black screen of death” is a pun based upon “the blue screen of death” which is displayed when Windows experiences a system failure.

Windows 7 Black Screen of Death

It has been confirmed that computing giant Microsoft is looking into a problem described as the “black screen of death”, which is a growing problem for users of its latest operating system, Windows 7.

The problem has caused many users of Windows 7 to be shown a completely black screen after logging on to the system.

Microsoft has said it is looking into claims that suggest the latest security update, released on 10 November, was the root of the problem.

However, according to reports, the error also affects Vista, XP and other systems.

Major software company Prevx, which has created a download to remedy the problem, says “millions” of people may be affected.

David Kennerley, an employee at Prevx, revealed that “users have resorted to reloading Windows as a last ditch effort to fix the problem”.

“We hope we can help a good many of you avoid the need to reload.”

Prevx announced that although the cure to the problem worked in many cases, it did not work in all.

“There can be many causes,” said Mr Kennerley.

“But if your black screen woes began in the last two weeks after a Windows update or after running any security program (including Prevx) to remove malware during this time then this fix will have a high probability of working.”

Mr Kennerly went on to reveal that “at least 10 different scenarios which will trigger the same black screen conditions”.

“These appear to have been around for years now,” he said.

According to Prevx, the problem affects editions of Windows 7, Vista, XP, NT, and Windows 2000.

Those who have been affected by the problem have been advised to contact Microsoft’s customer service line.

A Microsoft spokesperson declared that reports did “not match any known issues” that had been recorded by the company previously.

Many are concerned that Microsoft has yet to issue a fix for the problem, which, according to reports, causes the desktop, task bar, system tray and side bar to disappear.

The “black screen of death” term is being used by many to describe the problem and is based on the “blue screen of death” pun, which is visible when Microsoft operating systems crash.

Microsoft Releases ‘Faster’ Windows

The brand new Windows 7 operating system (OS) is set to deliver “better battery life and quicker boot times,” according to Microsoft and Intel.

The statement was made during a press conference in San Fransisco, where engineers gave the new OS a stringent test.

Microsoft will be expecting Windows 7 to avoid the negative exposure generated through the release of Windows Vista, and joined Intel in saying they have never worked as closely and have released a product that “they are proud of”.

Mike Angiulo from Microsoft told the BBC, “we both made a larger investment than ever before on the engineer side to improve on the hardware and software.”

Collectively known by some as Wintel, the two companies began the day after Windows Vista was released over two years ago and used hundreds of engineers in the process of development.

Steve Smith, the vice president at Intel’s digital enterprise group “we have spent 20 years getting to know each other and have businesses that are very well aligned.”

Dean Takahashi from VentureBeat, the popular internet technology blog, believed that Windows Vista needed drastic improvement.

He went on to say, “the collaboration was in the name of making Windows 7 better and more bug-free than the January 2007 launch of Windows Vista, which was broadly criticised in the industry and was one of the best advertisements for buying a Mac in history.”

Engineers have looked into the technological advances made by Microsoft and Intel, such as improved energy efficiency, security and performance.

One demonstration involved two identical Lenovo T400 laptops playing the same video, one using the Windows 7 OS and the other using Vista. Microsoft reported that the machine that ran Windows 7 experienced a 20% improvement in power efficiency due to “timer coalescing,” a design that extends battery life by holding the processor in low power states.

Ruston Panabaker, Microsoft’s head programme manager wouldn’t comment on how much battery power Windows 7 would save computers, stating “we’re achieving a very significant amount of battery savings.”

Engineers at Microsoft and Intel believe that end performance was dependant upon how manufacturers configured their machines.

Engineers were capable of boot up a system running Windows 7 in just 11 seconds. Intel’s Mr Smith told that “what we showed today was real capability in actual scenarios.”

CNET’s Ina Fried had reported on Microsoft for over 5 years and felt that this was a hurdle that both Microsoft and Intel needed to cross.

Ms Fried insisted, “in order for the computer users to get the benefit of all this work, it’s down to what choices the PC maker makes. It requires them all to be talking to one another all the time.”

“In the Vista time-frame, we saw not necessarily the kind of communication that leads to happy users and I think they have really tried to address that this time.”

“We will see how far they have really got when we see those Windows systems shipping in October.”

Why Microsoft Needs Windows 7 to Succeed

Thursday, 22 October sees the highly anticipated arrival of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system, with many believing that the future of the world’s largest software company will depend on its success.

The enormous scale of Microsoft’s grip on the market becomes clear when told of the 90% of computers relying on its Windows operating system, and over 1 billion people using it.

Microsoft’s last financial year saw a £35.7bn turnover with a net profit of approximately £9bn. Over half the profits generated were reliant upon Windows.

Experts have predicted that Microsoft’s stranglehold over the market was due to drop, with competitors Linux and Apple waiting to jump in. Many experts predict that software will be shifted to the “cloud,” where people connect to remote servers to access their software in a revolution to worldwide computing.

Microsoft brought about the attention of regulators at the US Department of Justice and the European Commission with ruthless actions towards competitors.

The release of its Vista operating system 3 years ago rendered many of its first users with unusable hardware and software; a crushing blow and seriously damaged its reputation with software developers and customers alike.

Most people still prefer Windows XP, Vista’s eight-year-old predecessor, with estimates suggesting that Vista has between 18.6% and 35% hold on the market.

Annette Jump, research director at technology firm Gartner, believes that “Vista is the worst-adopted operating system” whilst Microsoft International’s Jean-Philippe Courtois thinks “we don’t feel great about Vista adoption.”

This could be the only chance for Microsoft to regain the confidence that took a blow during the Vista period. Many Microsoft executives feel that they learnt a lot from what went wrong with Vista.

Windows 7 looks set to be released in good time, just 3 years after the release of Vista. Those that have tested it have reported it to be fast, secure, reliable, and easy to use. Microsoft have made big steps to avoid making the mistakes experienced with Vista, and prepared its partners for the release.

Mr Courtois believes that “the Windows ecosystem is the broadest in the world, and we have to take care of that,” with Alex Gruzen from Dell Computers surprised at how “the preparations for Windows 7 have been a remarkable step up from the days of dealing with Vista.”

He continued by revealing that “in the past, Microsoft looked at its operating system in isolation, and gave it to [manufacturers] to do whatever they wanted. Now they collaborate, help to figure out which third-party vendors are slowing down the system, help them improve their code.”

Sidekick Loss Hits T-Mobile Phone Sales

T-Mobile has had to withdraw the Sidekick in America, after being made aware that customers could lose personal data through its server.

The designer of Sidekick’s software, Danger (a subsidiary of Microsoft), confirmed the fault, with the mobile phone industry condemning the issue as one of the biggest failings in recent years.

Microsoft are also coming out of the situation look bad, after promoting cloud or online services as a means of less expensive solution to enterprise storage.

Harry McCracken, editor of Technologizer.com told BBC News “this is the most spectacular loss of data on the web to date.”

“There have been other examples, but always from small companies. For this to involve a big name like Microsoft is a major embarrassment and a big worry for consumers and Microsoft.”

Data back-up

It is understood that Microsoft’s company Danger, experienced a technical hitch which caused major data loss, with Sidekick users seeing disruptions for the past week. Investigations are underway to find the cause of the faulty server, with Microsoft yet to offer an explanation.

Sidekick uses an online service to provide back-up contacts, calendar appointments, photos and other personal information saved to the mobile phone. Some of the one million subscribers to Sidekick have “almost certainly” lost personal data as a result of this glitch according to Microsoft.

Those most at risk of losing their personal information are those who let their battery fully drain or removed it completely, causing all local copies of data to be cleared from the phone.

“I had 411 contacts, now they are all gone. I had five e-mail accounts set up on the phone as well which are also gone, address book and all,” complained 17 year old high-school student Kayla Hasse from New Jersey.

“I am extremely upset not only due to the fact I lost everything, but also because I pay 20 some dollars a month for THIS? It’s ridiculous.”

Mr McCracken feels it’s a “real wake-up call for customers.”

“In the past we have always tended to assume that big companies are better at backing up our data than we are. While this is true in most cases, a lot of people are going to say you can’t trust third parties, whether it’s Microsoft, Google, Apple or whoever.”

The future of cloud computing

Whilst Microsoft and T-Mobile may experience the immediate fall-out from this problem, experts fear that it may cause long term damage to customer confidence in cloud computing.

Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts is concerned. “Microsoft has been beating the drum for the idea of cloud computing where we all trust our stuff on some server up in Washington State,”

“This is going to throw a little cold water on that idea for the moment. Microsoft is going to have to do some explaining and give good assurances that cloud computing is viable and that it won’t lose data in the future, otherwise people won’t trust it.”

Microsoft £2.5m victory in parallel importing case

Microsoft finally have closure as the man behind the sales firm ITAC, Barry Omesuh, is sentenced to up to nine months in jail per sentencing and must pay £2.5 million in damages to Microsoft after an overwhelming battle against piracy.  The Manchester based distributor, ITAC, who are now out of business, were behind selling ‘grey’ copies of Microsoft’s software.

Omesuh was sentenced due to the fact that he was parallel importing by selling a software in a region that is actually intended for a different region, thus finding himself outside of his rights.  Omesuh was given 7 sentences which range between one month to nine months and he has been ordered to carry out his time simultaneously by the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Microsoft are clearing not taking any prisoners in their protection to their intellectual property and have proved that they will settle for nothing less than justice.  ITAC were originally made to pay out £1 million to Microsoft in 2006 for parallel importing, however the company continued on selling the software through an unauthorised company in the Middle East.  Microsoft have been battling against the company since 2004, and although they have won their battles in the past this victory is coming as great news for Microsoft as it should herald in the end of the illegal dealings through ITAC.

The High Court found Omesuh to be in contempt of court as he was found to have misled the court regarding the reality of the value of his assets.  When issuing her judgement, Mrs Justice Proudman highlighted how, “The defendant was a wholly unreliable witness who on his own admission told a number of bare-faced lies about relevant matters over a period of time.”

The anti-piracy attorney for Microsoft UK, Graham Arthur, has underlined Microsoft’s stance on piracy, saying, “This case against ITAC and Mr Omesuh shows that Microsoft takes a zero tolerance approach to anyone who undermines the level playing field for our retailer community.

“We are working hard, sometimes behind the scenes, to ensure the software reseller market is a place where all retailers can compete on an equal footing. We want to make sure that retailers caught cheating the system are held accountable for their damaging actions,” said Arthur.

ITAC can no longer damage Microsoft as the company went into administration in March 2008, however, Microsoft faces an ongoing battle against many other organisations around the world who continue to supply illegal copies of its software.  However, ITAC are one less organisation to worry about and Arthur continued to discuss how resolute Microsoft is about tackling the crisis.

“We caught ITAC trading illegally more than once which shows how determined we are to protect genuine, honest businesses from being undercut by unscrupulous traders.  In today’s climate, we believe this is more important than ever, particularly when the culprits blatantly persist in their unlawful trading,” continued Arthur.

The world braces as Microsoft get ready to sack up to 17 per cent of their employees

It seems as though Microsoft is getting ready to let go of around 15,000 jobs around the world.  The job cuts would be the first that the highly popular company would have made since the company’s creation 32 years ago.

Microsoft currently employs around 91,000 people around the world, however, news is circling the world that Microsoft is planning on getting rid of between 10 per cent and 17 per cent of their workforce from around the world.

The news about the job cuts is said to come on January 15 and MSN and Microsoft EMEA are apparently said to be preparing to feel the worst effects of the job cuts.

However, criticism has been felt from all over the world as many people don’t believe that so many jobs will be cut.  Henry Blodget, a Wall Street Analyst, wrote in a blog that, “A cut of this magnitude seems highly unlikely, although the targeted areas do make sense.  Unless Microsoft’s business has been absolutely crushed in the past two months, there is no reason for the company to suddenly cut this much cost. The only way we could see Microsoft laying off this many people is if the company decided to eliminate business units.”

The news was first released on the Fudzilla website who claimed that the news was poised to be announced by Microsoft a week before the company’s second quarter earnings report on January 22.

Fudzilla said, “So far, we haven’t managed to confirm what departments or regions will be hit the worst, but we’re hearing that MSN might be carrying the brunt of the layoffs. We’re also hearing rumours about the possibility of somewhat larger staff cuts at Microsoft EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

“It’s unlikely that Microsoft will be laying off a lot of people in departments and regions that are doing well, and considering the recent upturn in console sales, we have a feeling that at least most of the people working in the Xbox 360 departments will be pretty safe,” claimed the site.

Then Henry Blodget went on to announce that the claims may be true, but again he does not believe that the number of employees losing their jobs will be as high as Fudzilla claims they will be.

“Unless Microsoft’s business has been absolutely crushed in the past two months, there is no reason for the company to suddenly cut this much cost. Microsoft’s margins are still fine, and much of its revenue is generated from multi-year contracts,”
claims Blodget.

If there are to be cuts then it does make sense to make the most of them in the MSN department considering how badly the department has done compared to other departments in the company.  The console department for example has achieved good results with its Xbox 360 and therefore relieving employees of their jobs would not be the most sensible direction for Microsoft to move towards.

Netflix cut 50 tech jobs because Silverlight is just too good!

A while ago, Netflix decided to “go pro-Mac/Windows support” and allow their video streaming to be controlled by Microsoft’s Media Player, Silverlight, and threw their copies of Windows Media Player out of the window.  The new Silverlight streamer allowed Windows Media Player movies to be streamed by Macs the world over, making quite a few people very happy.  Bye bye Windows Media Player, thanks for all the memories.

But it’s not all jubilation and cheering in the Netflix offices today.  The Silverlight Media Player has proved to be so powerful, reliable and efficient, that there is just no need for Netflix to employ their tech savvy team of experts anymore.

Netflix, who had a team of 75 technically endowed maintenance workers, will have to get rid of 50 of them, simply because no one using the new Silverlight software is having any problems.

Sky and ITV are another couple of video streaming websites that have jumped on the Silverlight bandwagon.  They will be aiming at taking the iPlayer customers away from the BBC, hopefully providing faster and clearer video streaming.

Griff Parry, the director of On Demand at BskyB, is hailing the introduction of the Microsoft software, saying, “Microsoft Silverlight and PlayReady allowed us to build and launch this innovative service quickly, easily and in a package that provides consumers with even more flexibility in how they engage with Sky content.”

He went on to say, “As technologies that can reliably enable the rich delivery of high-quality protected content to both Windows-based PCs and Macs, the use of Silverlight and PlayReady was key in helping us provide our customers with more choice and control over their viewing.”

However, the Silverlight take over has been flagged to take over from DVD rentals by Silicon Alley Insider, who say, “It this as good as HD on-demand from your cable company? No. But it’s free if you subscribe to Netflix. Will this replace renting DVDs in the mail from Netflix if they’re available online, too? Maybe. Especially for movies that you aren’t watching for the visuals. Will this stop us from renting movies from iTunes if they’re available in both places? Probably — again, depending on the type of movie.”

Yet, although Netflix are releasing 50 members of the technical team, in what will be a pretty harsh Christmas for those leaving the group, they still seem pretty confident in the software, and why not.  If it’s so good it can replace the old human touch, then surely it scores high in my books.

Neil Hunt, Netflix Chief Product Officer, said, “Silverlight with PlayReady offers a powerful and secure toolkit for delivery of dynamic streaming, which offers faster start-up, and higher quality video, adapted in real time to users’ connection speeds.  Members who enjoy watching movies and TV episodes from the growing library of choices that can be instantly streamed at Netflix will be thrilled with this next generation improvement of access and quality, on a broader range of platforms, including Intel Macs and Firefox.”