All posts by Paul Paliath

I founded and regularly wrote blog posts on GeekSmack from 2008 until 2011, when I failed at running a blog. I now write about Microsoft for Techie-Buzz. When not writing blog posts, I'm usually found designing websites and learning how to code. You should follow me on Twitter here.

Reminder: Microsoft’s Windows Phone Summit Is Today, Don’t Forget To Catch The Livestream

It’s shaping up to be a rather crazy Microsoft week. It’s hardly been two days since Microsoft dropped the bombshell that it’s making its own tablet, and, in roughly an hour — at 9AM PDT, 12PM EDT — Microsoft will be providing a sneak peek of Apollo at the Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco. If their objective was to take everyone’s mind off of some Google event that’s taking place soon, it appears that they’ve succeeded.

WPCentral has put together a pretty nice list of what to expect at the Summit today; notable things include the long-rumored switch to the Windows 8 (NT) kernel, multiple screen resolutions, better Skype/VOIP integration (perhaps they will also fix the issue of not being able to use the rest of your device while in a Skype call), and an answer to the big question of whether legacy devices will be able to upgrade. They’re saying not to expect any big changes UI-wise; we also have it on good authority that this is the case.

Of course, there are a few other tidbits of rumored Apollo functionality that weren’t mentioned on that list (NFC support, multi-core processor support, enterprise tidbits such as BitLocker and Secure Boot, etc.), but it’s worth noting that Microsoft will probably not reveal everything at this event; it is just a sneak peek after all.

So yes, for emphasis, this is taking place at 9AM PDT, 12PM EDT, and you can watch a live stream of the event on Channel 9 once it begins.

Steve Ballmer Composes Optimistic, Enthusiastic Internal Memo

Following Microsoft’s big announcement on Monday that it’s entering the hardware business, Steve Ballmer sent out an internal memo that excites employees about recent achievements: Shipping the Windows 8 Release Preview, announcing SmartGlass, the Bing redesign with additional social features, and of course, announcing the Surface tablets. He also looked to the future and hinted that some “great news” can be expected within the next few weeks from the Windows Phone (he is of course referring to the unveiling of Windows Phone 8 which will happen at today’s Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco) and Office divisions.

Quite a lot of people have wanted Ballmer to step down, citing that he is an unfit CEO who lacks the right vision to lead the company. It’s undeniable that the company has made quite a few big mistakes under his watch, but at the same time, it’s undeniable that as of late, the company has been taking some drastic steps in the right direction, also under his watch.

GeekWire managed to get their hands on the memo, which you can read below:

From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Monday, June 18, 2012 4:31 PM
To: Microsoft – All Employees (QBDG)
Subject: Big Day, Big Year
I love this company.

I love that we have brilliant engineers with brilliant ideas. I love that we aren’t afraid to make big bold bets. I love that we are persistent – after all it’s our passion and tenacity that bring our dreams to life. And right now, I love how so much of our hard work, passion and tenacity are coming together in the products we are bringing to market.

Today, we made an exciting and significant Windows announcement — we revealed Microsoft Surface — a new family of computing devices from Microsoft. Surface complements the work of our OEMs and fulfills the Windows 8 vision. You can learn more and watch the event video tomorrow on the Microsoft NewsCenter.

This great news comes on the heels of an incredible few months. Just think, we celebrated the one year anniversary of the Skype announcement. We shipped the Windows Release Preview. Dynamics delivered key updates, and continues to crank out double digit growth. We made search more social (and we did it the right way!) with a significant redesign of Bing. We announced that we’re making entertainment more amazing with Xbox on the phone, PC, tablet and TV with the coming releases of Halo 4, Internet Explorer on Xbox and SmartGlass. We shared our vision for a new era of cloud computing with Windows Server 2012 and important advancements to the Windows Azure services. And in the next few weeks we’ll see more great news and momentum from the Windows Phone Division and the Microsoft Office Division.

Our plans are well underway to unleash an incredible pipeline of new devices and services that consumers love and businesses need. Our work is getting noticed and our customers are excited.

We still have a lot of hard work to do. But today, I encourage you to pause and reflect on how far we’ve come over the past few years and how much further we’ll go in the next one.

I’m incredibly proud of the work this company is doing and incredibly optimistic for what’s ahead.

Steve

Image Courtesy: The Verge

Microsoft Has Finally Taken A Stand Against Janky OEMs

From way back — years ago, on then-popular Internet forums — I vehemently argued that Microsoft needs to either highly regulate OEMs, or manufacture its own hardware (and this wasn’t even in the context of tablets at the time; prior to Windows 8, the bigger issue was the complete lack of touch usability). Rather, OEMs made sub-par hardware, provided a terrible customer experience, loaded up their machines with bloatware, and at times failed to produce adequate drivers for their hardware, causing instability issues for the end-user. And, partially wrongfully — they still could have taken more action to prevent it — many users blamed Microsoft for these shortcomings.

Fast forward to now, Microsoft has realized that the tablet space will be a very crucial part of their business in the years ahead. They have built Windows 8 primarily with touch in mind, taking a relatively big risk with some of the major changes they have made to the OS. They have also realized that, during such a critical time for them as they adapt to the changing ecosystem, they cannot completely entrust their fate in OEMs. Finally, they have taken matters into their own hands.

Now, while I do have some criticisms towards both the event itself and the actual Surface devices that were announced, it’s important to realize that this is a colossal step in the right direction for Microsoft in many ways.

The event took place at a highly suitable venue: Milk Studios, a noteworthy photo studio that could have had the keynote easily mistaken for a fashion runway event. The lighting was excellent, and the slides were elegant and simple while still looking like Microsoft. But not the clumsy Microsoft that we have come to know; rather, the slides help to depict the new era that the company is kicking off.

Thankfully, Microsoft did not deploy any of their notoriously embarrassing tomfoolery, such as that Tweet Choir from CES, or that inappropriate joke about genitals and the innuendo of the company name.

Something else worth noting is the secrecy that surrounded this event. Shortly after the cryptic invitations to the keynote were sent out to the press, AllThingsD and some other noteworthy sites began to report that Microsoft were building their own tablet. However, there were no solid leaks or specifics revealed about the actual device.

Now, that being said, there were also a few negative things about the event. For one, they didn’t reveal some very critical details about the devices; we’re still in the dark on availability, pricing and battery life, all of which are critical things that people consider when purchasing a tablet.

It’s absolutely ridiculous that not only is there no official word from the company on when these tablets will be available, but we also cannot preorder them. That brings us to the timing of the event: If Microsoft for whatever reason felt unable to announce these details or even make the tablet available for preorder for that matter, why couldn’t they have waited until they were able to? I fail to see how this was time sensitive in that regard. If the timing was so that they could overshadow Google’s I/O event, it wasn’t worth it in my opinion; they should have just waited.

Moving on to the devices themselves. There will be two Surface tablets: The first is an ARM-based Windows RT tablet that’s aptly named Surface RT. As it is targeted towards the iPad, Android tablets, and other Windows 8 ARM devices, it will likely be competitively priced and endowed with considerable battery life. The second tablet — Surface Pro — is Intel-based and will run a full-fledged copy of Windows 8 Pro. This is more of an ultrabook competitor, so it will be obviously more expensive with less battery life than its ARM counterpart.

As you can see, they just couldn’t resist doing two highly Microsoft-y things here: Confusing customers with SKUs, and terrible branding. Now people will have to educate themselves about the differences between the Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets. They may even assume that due to the higher price tag and use of the word “Pro” with the Surface Pro tablet, the Surface RT is inadequate for their needs when really they just want a tablet for content consumption purposes. It’s even more confusing because the legacy desktop is still present in Windows RT and may lead consumers to believe that they can run all desktop apps on their ARM device, but that’s for another post.

And what’s with the recycling of the Surface brand? When you think of a surface, you think of a generally larger area such as a table or countertop. But a tablet? Did Microsoft want to capitalize on what consumers may have already known about the Surface branding?

WAIT. I’m going to stop quibbling about SKUs and branding. Microsoft has finally stood up to the OEMs that have continually besmirched their software products, and, in the process, (hopefully) set the bar for actually good hardware. Considering that they’ve done something this radical, it’s only a matter of time before they begin to simplify their product names as well.

Now, unlike Apple’s hilarious dick move of not informing carriers about iMessage until it was announced, Steve Ballmer did mention while speaking with The Verge that OEMs were informed about the company’s decision to make their own hardware. He also noted that they might “opine”; sounds like some may not be happy. Here’s hoping that rather than whine about it, they proceed to actually make good hardware.

And, to be clear, there’s nothing unfair or uncompetitive going on here. Microsoft isn’t doing anything dodgy, and have clarified that they will be playing by the same rules as the OEMs in their press release: “OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT.”

It will be awesome if the Surface is really as sturdy and well-built as they described, as these are two very important qualities that the iPad excels at. A high-scoring bit on the build quality test will certainly be testing the kickstand to verify that it is similar to the door on a luxury automobile. I think that the Touch Covers were also a great idea. Whether or not you agree with Microsoft that tablets should be accompanied by external keyboards, you have to admit that their execution on this vision is really well-done.

From an aesthetic point of view, the darker shade of grey that the tablet is in can look slightly boring in some photos, but that’s okay. I’m sure it’s nicer in person. It still looks much better than any of the Windows RT tablets that OEMs have shown off thus far (and probably will show off in the foreseeable future). It also looks pretty unique; you can easily tell it apart from an iPad, or from Samsung tablets that look like the iPad. Strangely enough, it didn’t need to be designed by lawyers to achieve this.

I’ll reserve further commentary on the hardware for when I actually get some hands-on time with it, but I’ll conclude the post with this:

Holy shit, Microsoft is actually making their own tablet.

Image Courtesy: Surface, The Verge

Video: Microsoft Surface Tablet Event

Earlier today, during the immensely hyped Microsoft event that had the blogosphere speculating since Thursday, the company revealed something big: They’re making their own tablets, dubbed the Surface. And now, the full video of this pivotal keynote has been released on the Microsoft News Center website (and YouTube, thanks to The Verge.)

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky both took the stage to debut the device, along with Michael Angiulo, the Corporate VP of Windows Planning, Hardware, and PC Ecosystem, and Panos Panay, who lead the team that created the device. One quote that truly captures how major this is coming from Microsoft is this, from Ballmer:

“It was always clear that what our software could do would require us to push hardware, sometimes where our partners hadn’t envisioned.”

While Microsoft has certainly made its own hardware before — the Xbox and Zune — it has never done so in a manner that encroached in the space of its valued PC OEM partners, who manufacture the very devices that run Windows.

Head on over to YouTube to watch the roughly 48 minute long keynote.

WSJ: Microsoft To Acquire Yammer For $1 Billion

The Wall Street Journal has just confirmed through its own sources that Microsoft will acquire Yammer for $1 billion. Rumors surfaced not too long ago as someone eavesdropped in on people discussing the deal at a San Francisco cafe that’s right across the street from Yammer’s offices.

This is one Microsoft acquisition that I think makes a lot of sense: Yammer is a service that allows businesses and enterprises to set up private, internal networks that employees can use to communicate. These are fairly old numbers, but, as of 2010, 80,000 companies — including 80% of Fortune 500 companies — use Yammer. In fact, we even use Yammer here at Techie-Buzz for editorial operations and internal company communication.

It remains unknown when Microsoft will complete and announce the deal, but it’s unlikely that this is the big announcement that the company has in store for Monday. Bloomberg suggests that the deal could be completed as soon as tomorrow (Friday, June 15).

Microsoft: We’ve Sold Over 600 Million Windows 7 Licenses

Speaking at the Computex hardware event in Taiwan, Microsoft’s Steven Guggenheimer revealed that the company has sold over 600 million Windows 7 licenses to date. Now of course, Windows 7 is no stranger to well-deserved — and breathtaking — sales milestones. Here’s a list of their total milestones, bearing in mind that Windows 7 hit the shelves in October of 2009:

March 4, 2010 – Over 90 million copies sold.

April 23, 2010 — Over 100 million copies sold, six months after general availability.

June 23, 2010 — Over 150 million copies sold, making it the fastest selling operating system in history with approximately (and ironically) 7 copies being sold every second.

July 22, 2010 — Over 175 million copies sold.

October 21, 2010 — Over 240 million copies sold.

January 27, 2011 — Over 300 million copies sold.

July 12, 2011 — Over 400 million copies sold.

January 19 2012 — Over 525 million copies sold.

Microsoft is rightfully proud of this accomplishment. However, they do have their sights set on the future, with Guggenheimer pointing out that this is a crucial time for Microsoft with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 in the pipeline, among other things.

“This is the biggest launch time in Microsoft’s history,” said Guggenheimer. “In addition to updating Windows client, Windows Server, phone and embedded platforms, there’s a massive wave of software and services coming to market that we think will delight customers, from Windows Azure, to Office 15, Xbox games, Skype and Bing.”

Here’s hoping that Microsoft can pull off similarly astounding sales figures with Windows 8; judging by their infamous OS release patterns — of unleashing a major, yet fairly unrefined OS (Vista) and then a successor that fixes issues and adds finesse (7) — people may be a bit wary of just jumping on the 8 bandwagon, especially considering the rather radical changes. We shall see, of course, but I do wish Windows 8 luck in gaining a piece of the tablet market.

Image Source: Zeusandhera (Flickr)

Microsoft Confirms Store Openings In Florida, Virginia, Connecticut, New York, and Kansas

Microsoft, moving forward with its plans of nationwide retail domination, is building a store in the Florida Mall at Orlando, FL, according to an image of the “coming soon” placeholder wall sent to WPCentral by a local resident, and the Microsoft Store locations website. This comes on the heels of the company announcing its plans to open a brick-and-mortar store in Boston at the Shops at Prudential Center.

In typical Microsoft Store fashion, the Orlando store is being opened right next to an Apple store. Not across from it, or a few doors down from it, nope. They’re pretty much next-door neighbors, according to an image of the mall map.

The Orlando store isn’t the only one on the way, though. Recently, Microsoft has officially acknowledged most of the stores that were found on an “unofficial” list of planned Microsoft Store openings compiled by WPCentral based on job openings found on the Microsoft Store Careers website. This list is looking pretty credible now though, as quite a few stores on the list have been officially acknowledged by Microsoft over the past week or two. Here’s the full lineup of cities, with the ones that are officially confirmed highlighted:

  • White Plains, NY
  • Huntington Station, NY
  • Newark, DE
  • Overland Park, KS
  • Salem, NH
  • Orlando, FL
  • Arlington, VA
  • Bridgewater, NJ (Bridgewater Commons)
  • Freehold, NJ (Raceway Mall)
  • Danbury, CT (Danbury Fair Mall)
Last year, the company did announce plans to open 75 brick-and-mortar stores within the next two to three years, so we’ll likely see more and more stores opening up throughout that timeframe. With their officially announced upcoming stores factored in, they have a total of 24 stores open or almost open, making them about one-third of the way to their goal.

Notch: Minecraft Is The Best-Selling XBLA Game Ever

With Minecraft quickly proving itself to be a largely popular game on the computer, the news that broke yesterday should come as no surprise: Minecraft creator and Mojang founder Notch proudly tweeted that in under a month, Minecraft became the best-selling game ever on XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade, a service that offers an array of game titles through digital distribution). Mojang employee Daniel Kaplan followed up in another tweet saying that 2 million copies have been sold.

The title is no stranger to relatively awesome milestones, though; Minecraft on Xbox 360 was the fastest-selling XBLA game ever, selling more than any other title within the first 24 hours on XBLA. There were over 400,000 people playing already at that time. And on May 14th, Major Nelson amended his post with an update stating that Minecraft has sold over 1 million copies worldwide in just under a week of availability. Also, as of May 14th — almost a month ago — a total of 5.2 million online hours, 4 million multiplayer sessions, and 2.4 million total multiplayer gaming hours were already clocked across all users. Crazy.

Now, bear in mind that the Xbox 360 version of the game is relatively lacking in features compared to its PC counterpart. Enchantments, the ability to connect to popular PC servers, and other key parts of Minecraft have not been implemented in the XBLA version just yet. However, even a more minimal and barebones version of Minecraft is awesome, so it’s not a surprise that people are still purchasing the console version of the game despite these existing “drawbacks”.

I don’t think that the traction surrounding Minecraft will stop anytime soon (not before Notch launches 0x10c, at least.)

Microsoft Promises Peek At Future Of Windows Phone During San Francisco Summit

Last month, Microsoft announced plans to host a Windows Phone Developer Summit in San Francisco on June 20th through the 21st, and on Monday, the company opened up registration to the event so that those who were invited could RSVP.

An updated invitation was also released, revealing a few interesting things about the event. For one, those who had this added to their calendars from the first invite can free up June 21st; the event has been slashed down to a day-long event on the 20th. They also added a pretty suggestive tagline, which seems to suggest that this is going to be the event where Microsoft truly pull the curtain on Windows Phone 8: “A sneak peek of the future of Windows Phone.”

That, along with the fact that they’re referring to it as just a Windows Phone Summit (and not a developer summit) seems to indicate that they decided at some point during the last four weeks or so that this should be a full-blown Apollo announcement instead of just a mere event to spur additional developer interest in San Francisco. Jokes aside, this is actually a pretty intriguing event. And don’t worry, it will be livestreamed; just remember to head on over to Channel 9 on the 20th to watch the webcast.

Microsoft Announces Xbox Music (RIP Zune)

It looks like it’s time to finally hold a funeral for the Zune brand (it’s too late to do an open casket viewing, though; the body is already far too decomposed.) Microsoft has finally unveiled Xbox Music, the successor to the Zune Pass streaming service (and entire Zune brand, for that matter), rumored to have been codenamed “Woodstock”. During a very brief teaser that showed dramatic flashes of a Metro-style music app, Microsoft only shared two tidbits about the service today: It will pack a library of over 30 million songs, and it will be available on Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices as well as on your TV screen via Xbox.

The service — and subsequent phasing out of the Zune brand — has already been mentioned on the Zune.net website. On a Q&A format page that explains Xbox Music and what’s going to happen to Zune, we finally have word from the horse’s mouth indicating that the brand will be killed off:

The Zune music and video service has been a key component of Microsoft’s entertainment offering. We’re using our expertise from Zune to launch a brand-new music service under the Xbox Music brand.  When we launch, Xbox Music will bring you a world-class music library, and great new ways to enjoy, share and discover new music. We will release Xbox music on Xbox 360, Windows Phones and Windows 8 PCs and Tablets. Click HERE to watch the video from our E3 announcement.

Again, Microsoft is yet to really share any details about this service, so its differences and improvements from its predecessor remain unknown. There is chatter, however, claiming that it’s more than just a Zune rebranding.

I do hope that Microsoft makes this a cross-platform service. Music streaming has been really gaining ground with mainstream users lately through services like Spotify and Rdio, and if they’re making an awesome service, it could be a great way to get more people to use Metro and sort of familiarize themselves with the Microsoft ecosystem.

We can expect Microsoft to share more on Xbox Music throughout the coming months.

Microsoft Demonstrates SmartGlass “Airplay-Esque” Technology At E3, Brings Three Screens Closer Together

As of late, Microsoft has been working hard to better unify its ecosystem. The company is in a unique position as it owns a living room entertainment device, a desktop operating system, and a mobile phone OS. With E3 taking place today, the spotlight was placed on the entertainment device, and Microsoft took that opportunity to unveil a product that would better integrate the company’s other two screens with their entertainment device. Dubbed SmartGlass, the app transcends screens to allow users to utilize their tablets and phones to indulge in and interact with content on their TVs.

The first thing that the company demonstrated was the ability to watch a movie or show on a TV using your Xbox, stop the movie, and continue watching it — from where you left off — on your tablet, and vice versa. As Microsoft intends to compete with Apple in the living room, it was only a matter of time until they’d implement this AirPlay-esque feature.

This isn’t all there is to SmartGlass. You can also utilize it to view relevant bonus content on your “secondary screens” while watching something on your Xbox; this was demonstrated on stage with Game of Thrones. The same applies to bonus content with games; they showed a user playing Halo 4 being able to view information and schematics on a ship on their tablet. Users will also be able to actually interact with some games using their tablets as well: They showed off the ability to make a play in a football game on your tablet then execute/play it on the Xbox, scoring a touchdown.

And finally, they showed off how SmartGlass can help with using the Internet on your TV. As using a keyboard and mouse in the living room is something that nobody does, they demonstrated that you can easily browse the web using your smartphone and a few robotic Kinect commands. With SmartGlass, you could use your phone as a touch trackpad to control a cursor on screen, panning, scrolling, tapping to click, and even using gestures such as pinch to zoom. While I’m sure people will continue to avoid browsing the web on their consoles as much as possible, this at least helps to smoothen the experience.

SmartGlass will also be available on Android and iOS on top of Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

Here’s a video that showcases SmartGlass, Xbox Music, and Kinect voice commands:

Microsoft Touts Xbox 360 Worldwide Sales Dominance, Announces New Content Partnerships

During the E3 keynote in which Microsoft Ushered in their vision for the future of entertainment, the company also proudly pointed out that the Xbox 360 has gone beyond being the top-selling console in North America to having its foot on the throats of Sony and Nintendo worldwide. Now, their global reign didn’t just begin this month; not only was the Xbox 360 the best-selling console of 2011, but Xbox yearly sales surpassed that of the PS3 and Wii back in February, so it seems that the king of the living room is only maintaining its worldwide sales reign.

Today’s announcements of SmartGlass, Xbox Music, Internet Explorer on Xbox, and numerous hit titles should only act to bolster sales. Microsoft is rightfully pretty enthused about it:

“Xbox is on a mission to make the entertainment that you love even more amazing,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “With Xbox SmartGlass, we are lighting up entertainment across your phone, tablet, PC and TV in a completely new way. If you love to play games, watch TV and movies, surf the Web, or listen to music, there has never been a better time to be on Xbox.”

Microsoft has also announced a multitude of new media partnerships and content that will be coming to the Xbox within the next 12 months. Here are 35 such partnerships that the company announced today:

Absolute Radio (U.K.), Ameba TV (Canada, U.S.), BreakMedia (Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, U.K., U.S.), Comedy Central Stand Up (U.S.), Comoyo (Denmark, Norway, Sweden), Corus Entertainment’s Franklin the Turtle (Canada), GameSpot TV (Australia, Canada, U.K., U.S.), Headweb (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden), Indie Flix (U.S.), Machinima (All Xbox LIVE markets), Napster (Germany, U.K.), Nickelodeon (U.S.), Paramount Movies (U.S.), Picturebox (U.K), Quickflix (Australia, New Zealand), Rakuten ShowTime (Japan), Revision3 (Canada, U.K., U.S.), Rhapsody (U.S.), RTL XL (Netherlands), Slacker Radio (Canada, U.S.), SnagFilms (U.S.) Terra Sunday TV (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico), The AOL On Network (Australia, Canada, Netherlands, U.K., U.S.), The Weather Channel (U.S.), The Whistle (U.S.), TOU.TV (Canada), TV3 (Spain), Twitch TV (U.S.), Univision (U.S.), Wuaki (Spain), and Youzee (Spain).

And for you sport fans, Microsoft has the following content providers in store for you:

  • NBA Game Time with NBA.com League Pass Broadband (U.S.) and NBA League Pass (outside of the U.S.). Fans who subscribe to NBA.com League Pass Broadband will have access to hundreds of out of market live games (blackout restrictions apply in the U.S. and some international markets), plus highlights from around the league and up to the minute stats of your favorite players.
  • NHL GameCenter LIVE™ (Worldwide except Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden). Hockey fans will be able to enjoy every moment of the live action as it happens on the ice, with live games (out-of-market and blackout restrictions apply), more in-game interactivity, and replays and highlights on demand any time.
  • ESPN (U.S.). Later this year fans will enjoy 24/7 live programming through WatchESPN from ESPN Networks – ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3 and ESPN U. All the favorites, including “SportsCenter,” “SportsNation,” “The Mike and Mike Show,” as well as ESPN’s coverage of the NFL, MLB and the NBA, will be live on Xbox.

In conclusion, Kinect voice search will be expanding to 12 additional countries: Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland. It’s definitely been a big day for the Xbox. Stay tuned as we delve further into today’s various announcements from the Xbox E3 keynote.

Image Source: Josh Ferris (Flickr)

Asus Unveils ARM, Intel Windows 8 Tablets

With Windows 8 nearing its final stages of development and Computex right around the corner, it’s no surprise that companies are beginning to out their plans for Windows 8 tablets. Asus is the first company to do so, revealing two such devices: The Tablet 600 — a Windows RT ARM device — and the Tablet 810, which is an Intel-based x86 tablet.

Let’s talk specs: The Tablet 600 packs an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor, a 12-core GPU, 2GB of RAM, and a 32GB eMMC storage solution for local storage. Disappointingly, the 10.1″ display offered by the tablet has a mere resolution of 1366 x 768, though it does have a vivid Super IPS+ display. The Tablet 810 on the other hand offers a next-gen Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, twice the storage (64GB of eMMC storage), and an 11.6″ display with the equally pathetic resolution of 1366 x 768. It has 10-point multitouch support though, along with Wacom digitizer stylus support.

The laptops do have one prominent thing in common, though. Both come with a mobile dock with a QWERTY keyboard, trackpad, additional USB ports, and a secondary battery for extended juice on the go that allows you to “transform” the tablet into a clamshell ultraportable device. The two tablets also come with NFC sensors and Asus SonicMaster technology for quality audio on the go.

Tweets Published From Windows Phone Now Say ‘via Microsoft’

It seems like Microsoft are already working to dissolve the Windows Live branding in even the littlest details: Moving forward, when tweeting from your Windows Phone, the client used will display as “via Microsoft” instead of “via WindowsLive” as it had in the past. Now, on the basis of the lack of spacing between “Windows” and “Live”, this is already a welcome change. However, in the process of eliminating the Windows Live branding from here, they have proceeded to choose yet another inappropriate label.

I mean what, are they going to phase out the @live.com email address in favor of @microsoft.com email addresses now? When I stumbled upon this in my Twitter stream yesterday, I initially thought that this was some sort of secret ‘Softie client, or some internal beta client that they were using. But nope; as Metro Powered pointed out, they simply changed the client name. I think that ‘via Windows Phone’ would make far more sense here.

This is downright confusing. However, it will give Windows Phone owners the fuzzy, warm illusion that they are actually tweeting from Microsoft’s Redmond mothership.

Intel CEO Knocks Windows RT’s Legacy Limitations

While the general sentiment amongst most sane people is that the legacy desktop doesn’t belong in Windows RT, there is one man who unsurprisingly holds a different view. Intel CEO Paul Otellini thinks that the limitation of the legacy desktop — where non-sanctioned third-party apps are not allowed to run — is actually a vulnerability of the ARM platform:

“With one button you can get to legacy mode…this is critically important for CIOs who want to preserve all of their investments in software,” he said, referring to “tens of millions” of programs built around Intel’s x86 design.

“We have the advantage of the incumbency, advantage of the legacy support. Not just in terms of applications but devices.”

As you can see, he feels that the support of legacy applications that Intel-based x86 tablets can offer users far outweigh the limitations of ARM. I largely disagree. Obviously, tablet users don’t want the Classic Windows UI or applications; they want something that’s far more suited for touch. However, a part of me does think that Intel has a sales advantage.

Microsoft’s choice to retain the classic legacy desktop in ARM to begin with was a completely idiotic decision, and I’m going to only focus on one reason — reason #5219874, to be exact — as to why that is. Average consumers will be so confused when they find that they can’t download normal software on their ARM tablet. It looks just like their desktop OS, but why doesn’t it work? So, perhaps this problem could be avoided through educated and informative salespeople, right? Well, if they tell consumers that something “doesn’t work”, while it will on another tablet, it may sway some people towards purchasing an x86 tablet, even if it’s more expensive.

They’ll justify the cost just because they want everything to work. And the people who buy an ARM tablet uninformed will be rather pissed at Microsoft when they cannot download MSN games like Belle’s Beauty Boutique to their device.