Digest

We have a few news items for you today so let’s get crackin’.

Microsoft Surface Pro – When Windows 8 launched at the end of October, 2012, so did Microsoft’s new tablet known as the Surface RT. The RT received mixed reviews – from good to wretched – with some writers claiming that it was a laughable/forgettable product. Among the points its favour were assessments stating that it was a good, solid performing tablet but not a spectacular one. There were a few more negative items including the fact that it could be somewhat lethargic loading programmes as well as the fact that it would not run programmes that a PC could. If you wanted an application to do something or other, you would have to go to the Windows Store to find one designed to run on the RT. Given the fact that the shelves in the Windows Store were somewhat bare at that  point, it was easy to see why many reviewers were less than enthusiastic.

To be fair, the Windows Store opened with more RT apps than Apple’s App store had iOS apps when the iPad launched. Microsoft’s prediction that there would be 100,000 apps available 90 days after the launch has failed to come true with slightly more than 25% of that landmark ready for downloading in the waning days of January. There were complaints that the RT apps were mostly crap but from my experience, there’s plenty of crap to be found in Apple’s App Store as well.

Comes now the availability of the Surface Pro, a tablet that can run PC programmes as well as those designed for the Pro platform. The  price is somewhat dear with the entry-level version costing just over $ 1,000 when all is said & done. Will the price come down? Probably in the same way that the iPad has come down in price; a noticeable reduction but still nothing to write home about. Consumers are more likely to buy Android based devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Note or Google’s Nexus 7 or 10 than the Surface Pro . . . at least for now.

ZDNet’s Ed Bott has penned a pretty good review of the Surface Pro that is well worth reading. Meanwhile, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley is ready to tell us why she’s not trading her RT for a Pro. Finally, TechRadar’s James Stables has a mostly favourable review of the RT, published not at launch time as so many reviews were, but instead 90 days post launch. Read them and decide for yourself.

DELL Plans To Go Private – It’s a goal for many small and not-so-small companies to grow to the point that shares are publicly traded on of the major exchanges. Dell did just that back in 1988. Well folks, the days of “Dude, you’re getting a Dell” are long gone now and the company is starting to move towards buying itself back. The price is $24.4 billion and includes a $2 billion loan from Microsoft.

What does all this mean? How will you be affected . . . if at all? Here are some stories that will – hopefully – begin to answer those questions:

HP Contemplating A Break-up – The long, strange trip of Hewlett Packard is taking yet another turn. According to one report, executives are mulling a company break-up as well as other options. Of course, other sources say that there is nothing of the kind going on. This is not the first bout of indecision for the company. You may remember that HP was going to get out of the PC business until they changed their mind and decided to stay. They introduced a well-received tablet only to drop it 5 months later; not unlike Microsoft dropping its Kin smart phone after a similar length of time. The trouble is that the Kin was a deeply flawed device while the HP Touchpad was quite good and now suffers from a lack of applications as well as other support.

For more on this latest development in the HP saga, read HP reportedly considering company “breakup” on ZDNet. Even if does turn out to be a faux report,  consumers might want to weigh their hardware options carefully if their choice include HP.

 

Here are a few items to close out the month of January.

  • Windows 8 Market Share – According to an article in ZDNet Tech Today, the market share for desktop PCs remains low compared to Windows XP & Windows 7.  As of the first of January, Windows 8 had a 2.26% share of the market – ahead of Apple’s Mac OS X 10.7 or OS X 10.6 but slightly less than OS X 10.8 – which is rather small when you compare it to Windows XP’s 39.51 % and Win 7’s 44.48%. It should be noted that Post-PC devices like tablets have shown a significant rise in popularity and this has impacted the share of desktops belonging to Windows 8. Nonetheless Win 8 is selling fairly well – all things considered – and continues to gain momentum. What sales will do in January remains to be seen. On the consumer front, Xmas is now behind us so the figures for January may not be spectacular. Enterprise sales may pick up now that 2013 is here but it is worth keeping in mind that surveys back in the 4th Quarter of 2012 indicated that there was no great rush to move to Windows 8. Many companies are still moving to Win 7 and some plan to wait until Win 8’s successor appears to see if it is any more promising than Windows 8. Read all about it on ZDNet.
  • [stextbox id=”Question” float=”true” align=”right” width=”200″ mleft=”10″]Do you plan to move to Windows 8 this year? Tell Dr. Data all about it.[/stextbox]Windows App Numbers Fall Short – Way back in October of 2012, Redmond predicted  that there would be 100,000 apps available in the Windows Store within 90 days after the launch of Win 8. Well, 3 months later, the count as of January 8th, 2013 was only 26,643; not even half of what was predicted. The low market share held by Win 8 may account for some of the reluctance shown by 3rd party developers to start coding for the new platform but 26,643 is a disappointment by almost any standard. Read all about it on Tech Republic.

That’s it for this week. Have a good weekend.

Here it is, the middle of January, and it seems like we were watch the Tournament of Roses parade just the other day. At this rate, it’ll be time for shorts and flip-flops before you know it. So while we’re waiting for time to fly even faster, here’s a small collection of technology news items:

At the Consumer Electronics Show in ‘Vegas, Microsoft showed off the second offering in its’ line of tablets; the Surface Pro. Two different reporters developed two differing opinions of the new device:

  • In the affirmative, Jon Phillips of PC World has an overall positive impression of the Pro. He does conclude, however, that the $900 – $1,200 price point is going to be a drag on adoption and sales in a segment of the computing marketplace where the hardware is already overpriced. Read the article on PC World.
  • Sebastian Anthony from Extreme Tech does find some things to like about the Surface Pro but at the end of the day, the device is neither fish nor fowl. Read Sebastian’s article on Extreme Tech.

Jon and Sebastian do agree on one thing; the Surface RT was a waste of time.

Those of you who read our wee collection of Apple news last week may remember the item about Cupertino making a less expensive iPhone. Well, according to Apple’s VP of world-wide domination marketing, Phil Schiller, there are no plans to do any such thing any time soon.

. . . despite the popularity of cheap smartphones, this will never be the future of Apple’s products.

That’s the way to do it, Phil. Keep the iPhone out of the hands of the peons who don’t deserve them anyway. There’s more to this story and you can read it for yourself on PC World.

In light of that last item, this one is all the more interesting. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Apple has reduced its orders for iPhone parts because of lackluster demand. This reduction has resulted in orders for  iPhone 5 screens being halved and orders for other components have been reduced as well. The fact that demand for the iPhone 5 has been sluggish is certainly an eye-brow raiser.This is partially due to increased competition from Samsung – the biggest phone manufacturer in 2012 – and other phone manufacturers with devices based on Google’s Android operating system. Another possible reason is that releasing a new iPhone every time you turn around has taken its toll on consumers who have figured out that you don’t need the latest offering from Cupertino to be hip/productive. PC World has the full story.

I’ve never been a huge Apple fan. They make some good stuff but price points keep me away. I do have an ancient iPod and an iPhone, however. I have the iPod simply because my former employer – who, like Lord Voldemort,  shall not be named – offered it as a gift for 20 years of thankless labour. I got the iPhone because it was less than $100.00 as an upgrade from my late and unlamented Blackberry. I probably should amend the bit about the iPhone because we became a two-iPhone family in the last days of 2012.

My wife had been using the same cell phone since 2003 and the technology was old even back then. We signed up for Nextel because of the push-to-talk feature. I could never get my wife to use push-to-talk in the nine or so years that we had the phones. (Heck, I can barely get her to turn the thing on!) In early Feb. of 2012, I gave up & moved over to the Sprint network. Well, the Nextel network is going bye-bye around the end of June so it was time to find her a new phone. Sprint was offering a $100 dollar upgrade for the iPhone 4S so we did as switcheroo and I got the newer iPhone & she took my old – but still perfectly good – iPhone 4. At this point, she still hasn’t gotten the hang of touch-screens and Siri is not speaking to me. (Was it something I said?)

The preceding has be a circumlocutory way of leading in to the three bits of Apple news I have for you today so let’s get down to business.

  • Apple is rumoured to be planning a cheaper iPhone. Since Cupertino has seemed to finally grasp the idea that ordinary folks don’t have the cash to splash out on their hardware, they are said to be considering a polycarbonate plastic rather than the standard aluminium case and possibly using parts from recycled iPhones. Since refurbished keyboards. headphones and mice are a so-so kind of experience, Dr. Data is not too keen on having to rely on recycled phone parts. Read the full story on ZDNet.
  • Apple + Internet = Mess or so says a former Apple Engineer who is a die-hard dyed-in-the-wool Apple fan. The ZDNet article by Charlie Osborne – no, she does not appear to be related to Ozzy even though she is British – goes on to list a plethora of Apple internet services that aren’t up to snuff. The aforementioned Apple engineer also indicates that Android is gaining a significant advantage over iOS. Read the full article on ZDNet.
  • Just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you. The former CEO of Apple’s big Israel acquisition, Anobit, shares his experiences of Apple culture and how the company’s 1990s ‘near death experience’ still shapes it today. OK, I “borrowed” the article summary from ZDNet but nonetheless, the story is well worth your time. Read it on ZDNet.

Well, the holidaze are over and the last of the bowl games – at least the ones that really matter – have been played so it’s time for me to get back to blogging and annoying readers like you. Here are a few items concerning Windows 8 that have come across my desk over the past week .

  • Not for Old-at-Heart PCs – Walt Mossberg is a regular contributor to the Personal Technology column of the Wall Street Journal and those columns are echoed on the Dow Jones’ All Things Digital site which is, BTW, powered by WordPress. While I don’t always quite agree with what Walt has to say, his opinions are well wroth considering. In his column for Jan 8, 2013, Walt discusses the perils of upgrading to Windows 8 on not-so-new hardware. By way of example, he mentions his trials and tribulations in upgrading a 2008 Lenovo laptop and a 2009 Hewlett-Packard touchscreen desktop. To cut to the chase, Microsoft’s Windows 8 Upgrade Advisor told him that both machines were good to go when in fact, they were not. Why am I not surprised? In the case of the Lenovo, 4 years is a good run for a laptop and by this point in time, the hardware is old by PC standards. The HP has – in theory – a couple more years left in it but in both cases, the manufacturers have apparently decided not to update the various drivers to handle Windows 8. Reading Walt’s column on this subject is well worth your time.
  • Windows 8 hardware ‘overpriced’ – Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo, et al have launched a slew of new devices to take advantage of Windows 8. Market analyst, Shaw Wu, believes that growth in the PC market as a result of Windows 8 will only be 2% rather than the 7 – 9% that everyone else is predicting. The reasons include confusion because of all the different form factors that have been put on the market to take advantage of – or cope with; your choice – Windows 8, the price points for this new hardware – Microsoft’s Surface tablets are a fine example – and the fact that these new machines offer “no clear benefit in switching from iOS or Android.” ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes will fill you in on the details.
  • Coping with Windows 8 – Adrian has also published a post that features two down-loads that make Windows 8 work as nature intended. One is Classic Shell which Dr. Data uses on his test machine and the other is RetroUI. Classic Shell is free but does not have all the features that RetroUI offers but it still has plenty of options. RetroUI, however, is not free and costs a budget busting $4.95! Either way, these add-ons are a big help if you use Windows 8 on a desktop or laptop sans Touch. Read Adrian’s post on ZDNet.
  • Dr. Data contemplates moving to Windows 8 – Yes this is a shocker but I have reasons that will be discussed in a future post. (Talk about a teaser!!!)

Well, it’s Monday again. No matter how hard we try, this things seems to come around about this time every week. So, to start your week, here are a few items of note for those interested in technology:

  • Windows 8 Ho-Hum –The holiday shopping season – which seems to have already kicked off, may change things but a survey conducted by the Associated Press and GfK revealed the following:
    • 52% of  the 1,200 US Adults polled in this survey have never heard of Windows 8
    • Adding insult to injury, 61% had no interest in buying a desktop/laptop with Windows 8
    • And for a coup de grace, only 35% thought that Windows 8 was an improvement over Windows 7
    • It was probably a substantial portion of that 35% who comprised  the 31% of respondents who were actually interested in Microsoft’s Surface tablet.
    • Read the full story on the PC Magazine website.
  • No Help From the Business Sector –While Windows in the workplace has been a mainstay of Microsoft’s revenue stream, it looks like organisations will be slow to hop on the Windows 8 bandwagon. In October, TechRepublic  asked its members to talk about their organisation’s deployment plans. This was a voluntary survey drawn from a pool of people who frequent a particular website so the results are most likely skewed to some degree. Nonetheless, the responses were eye-opening:
    • 49.9 % of organisations have no plans in place to deploy Windows 8 but may do so at some future date.
    • 23.8 % plan to skip Windows 8 entirely
    • 11 % will deploy Windows 8 but have not set a target date
    • 10.7 % plan to deploy Windows 8 sometime in the next 12 months
    • 4.6 % are waiting until Service Pack 1 to deploy Windows 8
    • Hardly a stampede to adopt Windows 8 early on. Read TechRepublic’s complete article.
  • Some Hope for Surface – Opra Winfrey likes the Surface RT tablet saying that it feels like a Mercedes-Benz to her. It is worth noting that Opra gushed over the iPad in 2010 by saying “Words cannot describe what I feel for this magnificent device . . .” Opra – who has her own network, BTW – has added the Surface to her list of favourite things that will be featured in a 2-hour TV special scheduled on for Nov. 18th at 8:00 PM. There is no record of how Opra felt about the Microsoft Zune. Read PC Magazine’s full story on Opra’s endorsement.

That’s it for this morning. Have a good day!

Now that copies of Windows 8 are flying off the shelves – both physical and virtual – let’s turn our attention to Apple. If you can remember that far back, the boys from Cupertino introduced the iPad mini – among other things – on Tues., Oct. 23rd. Here’s a few articles about the mini and the Company.

  • For some tablets, iPad Mini is a big threat in a little package –  Now that Apple is kinda sorta in the 7″ tablet business, what does that mean for makers of Android tablets? Some have more to worry about than others. Read the full story on c|net.
  • Fact-checking Apple on iPad Mini vs. Nexus 7 – Is apple worried by the success of Android tablets? Apple executive, Phil Schiller, seemed to embody that concern as he devoted more than the usual amount of time bashing the competition. C|net’s Scott Webster did a bit of fact-checking on Phil’s claims. Read the full story on c|net.
  • Is Apple A Religion or A Cult? –  An anthropologist seems to think so. ZDNet’s Charlie Osborne disagrees but Dr. Data is leaning towards the cult theory. Read the full story on ZDNet. Note to Apple Fanboys: Stay away from the grape Kool Aide!
  • Why did Apple Change its Mind? – Saint Steven of Jobs once gave a sermon on why Apple would not launch a smaller iPad. On Tuesday, Oct 23rd, all that changed. Rupert Goodwins gives us a bit of insight. Read all about it on ZDNet.
  • Is Microsoft’s Surface tablet like a flying car? –  Apple CEO, Tim Cook, sure seems to think so. Read what he had to say on c|net.

As part of the countdown for Windows 8 and the Surface RT tablet, here are some more articles courtesy of ZDNet submitted for your consideration:

  • Five Baffling Things About The Surface RT – Target market, licensing and  pricing are among the things that David Gewirtz finds quite puzzling about the Surface RT. Is he right? Read the full article on ZDNet.
  • Is Windows 8 the new XT? – Ed Bott seems to think so. The howls of righteous indignation over the new user interface have all been heard before . . . about the venerable Windows XT’s interface. To prove his point, Ed takes us down memory lane to the way we were a decade ago. If you substitute Windows 8 for Windows XT, then it’s deja vu all over again. Read the full story on ZDNet.
  • An OS For All Devices – Ken Hess believes that Oct. 26th will be a milestone in the history of computing. Microsoft is releasing an OS that will run on Desktops, Laptops, Netbooks, Tablets and other mobile devices. This is one trick that Apple doesn’t know. Read all about it on ZDNet.
  • Windows 8 vs Windows RT –  Mary Branscome opines that consumers are still uncertain of the differences between Windows 8 & Windows RT. Which OS will do what and where? Read what she has to say on ZDNet.

That’s it for this morning. Have a good one!

This has been a rather slow week, news-wise. Here are a few things of interest.

  • Weak Interest In The iPad Mini? – The TechBargains website recently conducted a survey concerning the much rumoured,  yet-to-be announced iPad Mini. Only 18% of the respondents indicated that they planned to purchase the min. 50% weren’t interested and the rest were sitting on the fence. Read the full story on ZDNet.
  • Why is the iPad mini like Waiting For Godot? – If you’re tired of waiting for Cupertino to announce/launch the vapour-ware mini, there are 5 other 7 inch options that you might want to consider. Read the full story from PC Magazine.
  • And you think that your cell phone bill is HUGE? – A French woman received an unbelievable bill from her carrier saying that she owed 11,721,000,000,000,000 euros. That’s roughly $15 quadrillion US. Suddenly, the national debt doesn’t seem quite as bad as we thought. Read the full story on C|NET. 
  • And finally . . .  –  Dr. Data is combining the Digest and All in fun today. He couldn’t resist the cat photo below.

Only a couple of interesting bits today and they both deal with tablets.

  • The term “post-PC” device has been bandied about recently and you may be wondering just WHAT a  “post-PC” device is. Matt Baxter-Reynolds, a UK-based software development consultant, has penned an excellent analysis in which he concluded that a post-PC device is

a lightweight device that’s used for one’s relationships and personal life, not for work.

   Read the full article on ZDNet.

  • Microsoft will be launching Windows 8 and its new Surface tablet in a little over two weeks from now. More than one analyst has observed that apps (applications) for the RT model – and Windows 8 in general – will be few and of mediocre quality. Microsoft’s VP for Sales and Marketing has announced that he expects that 100,000 Windows 8 Apps will be available by the beginning of February, 2013 and that 400 million people will be using Windows 8 devices by July of that year. Is he the Oracle of Delphi or is he just blowing smoke? Read what Charlie Osborne wrote about this on ZDNet.

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