OS wars 2013: How the latest Mac and Windows upgrades compare

Last year when Mountain Lion and Windows 8 were released, I wrote a piece comparing the Mac and Windows operating systems, and concluded that Apple took the better path by keeping its tablet and desktop operating systems separate. With Windows 8 Microsoft gave its operating system a complete makeover, asking that people change the way they use their computers. Now that the two operating systems have updated with Mac OS X Mavericks and Windows 8.1, I thought I should take another look at both to see if the update did anything to change my mind...

Read the full story here... Source: CNET

Firefox OS phone launches Tuesday in Spain at $3 a month

It's not every day that a new mobile operating system arrives, but Tuesday will be one of them as Telefonica begins selling the inexpensive ZTE Open with Mozilla's Firefox OS in Spain.

The move marks the commercial beginning of an effort by phone makers and network operators to use Mozilla's open-source, browser-based operating system to reclaim power in the mobile market lost to Apple and Google.

The phone itself costs 69 euros ($90), including 30 euros ($39) of pay-as-you-go credit -- or for those who sign up for a two-year contract, for 2.38 euros ($3.10) per month. That's a lot cheaper than most of the new Android and iOS smartphones on the market today that consumers have flocked to and that Firefox OS is competing with.

The ZTE Open won't impress smartphone power users who want more than its 3.5-inch 480x320-pixel touchscreen, 3.2MP camera, 256MB RAM, and 512MB flash memory that's boosted with an included 4GB microSD card. But it's not designed to win them over; it's more for new and cost-conscious smartphone buyers, Yotam Benami, Telefonica's digital director of open Web devices, said in an interview...

Read the full story here. Source: CNET

Facebook Home software leaks, try it out early

If you want to go Home early, now's your chance: a pre-release version of Facebook Home has leaked to turn your Android phone into a photo-liking, status-updating machine.

Facebook Home is software that completely replaces the interface on your Android phone, loading your friends' photos, posts and status updates on your homescreen. The software is showcased on the HTC First phone, but you'll be able to download it for a range of Android phones.

And ahead of the official launch, MoDaCo has pulled an early version of the software from the ROM of the HTC First, consisting of three APKs.

There's the main Facebook app, codenamed 'katana'; the Messenger app, codenamed 'orca', which integrates with your text messages; and a launcher shell app codenamed 'home'. To try out the pre-release software, including the floating head Chat Heads feature, you need to completely uninstall the existing Facebook app. The leaked software works on phones with a resolution lower than 1,280 x 768 -- and, as ever, you mess with the dark arts of leaked pre-release software at your own risk.

[Source: CNET]

Windows Blue confirmed as Microsoft hints at yearly updates

Windows Blue, the heavily rumoured update to Windows 8, has been confirmed by Microsoft -- but the software behemoth says the "chances of products being named thusly are slim to none."

In a post on the corporate blog, Frank Shaw, corporate vice president of corporate communications (none more corporate!), wrote, "product leaders across Microsoft are working together on plans to advance our devices and services, a set of plans referred to internally as 'Blue'."

What Microsoft hasn't yet announced -- and what Shaw heavily hints at here -- is that Windows will become a regularly updated service, instead of a major purchase once every three or four years. This would make it more like Mac OS X, which typically costs around £15 to upgrade to the newest version (going from Lion to Mountain Lion currently costs £14).

"Our customers have already experienced the ongoing rhythm of updates and innovations over the past six months, including new devices, new apps and services, better performance and new capabilities," Shaw explains. "This continuous development cycle is the new normal across Microsoft -- we'll tune everyday experiences as well as introduce bold, connected and exciting new scenarios."

Windows upgrades have typically been a big deal. Bouncing up a notch from Windows 7 will set you back £100, or £190 for the Pro version, after an introductory offer of £25 ended in February.

With take-up of Windows 8 so far below expectations, Microsoft may feel the time of the big-box upgrade has gone the way of the box itself. Smart phones have accustomed us to free, instant OS upgrades -- and we're mad as hell when we don't get them -- so paying £100 for new PC software is just archaic.

Windows Blue is expected to bring more subtle and detailed touchscreen control, as hinted at in a recent leaked demo video. It's due out in August, according to sources speaking to our sister site ZDNet.

[Source: CNET]

Steve Ballmer is “Super-Glad” Microsoft Built Surface, Thinks Windows 8 Adoption is “Perfect”

Steve Ballmer sat for a spell with MIT Technology Review to discuss the Windows 8 ecosystem.

It’s no easy task to gauge the impact Windows 8 is having on the industry, in part because the industry is changing. The traditional desktop is taking a backseat in popularity to mobile form factors, like notebooks,tablets, and hybrids. Windows 8, as you know, is an attempt to bring all these devices together, along with smartphones, under a unified user interface. IsMicrosoft happy with its strategy up to this point?

Jason Pontin, MIT Technology Review’s Editor-in-Chief, had a chance to speak with Steve Ballmer about Windows 8 and related topics. One of the questions he asked is what Ballmer feels is a reasonable adoption period for a new version of an operating system that’s to be used by a billion people.

“Well, it’s a complex question. You’ll need to define what you mean by adoption rate. It’s affected by three things: How many do we sell? How quickly do people retire the installed base that they own? And what are the similarities and differences between the consumer market and the corporate market?,” Ballmer said. “In the first 10 weeks, we sold 60 million copies. All new consumer PCs are now Windows 8 based. So in that sense, I would say that here the adoption rate is perfect.”

Ballmer pointed out that consumers upgrade PCs less frequently than phones but upgrade them more frequently than TVs and game consoles. And in the corporate world, “adoption is always a little slower.”

And what of Microsoft’s Surface strategy?

“I’m super-glad we did Surface,” Ballmer said. “I think it is important — and not just for Microsoft, but for the entire Windows ecosystem — to see integrated hardware and software….Surface is a real business. In an environment in which there’s 350 million PCs sold, I don’t think Surface is going to dominate volume, but it’s a real business.”

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview Available Now

Well that was fast. Canonical, the parent company behind Ubuntu, recently announced itsintentions to provide Ubuntu for tablets, in addition to its goal to launch Ubuntu smartphones in 2014. Good news, tinkerers: the developer preview of Ubuntu Touch is now available for download.

Ubuntu promises the software, which is available for the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, will provide support for WiFi, GSM network connections, functional cameras and the shell and core applications needed to experience the software in full. You’ll need to have some coding chops to get started, however, since there are a few commands required. You also have to make sure your device is unlocked so that Ubuntu can access the bootloader.

Thankfully, if you don’t dig the experience and want Android back, it’s as easy as downloading the factory image and reflashing it to your device. If you run into troubles along the way, you can join the company’s mailing list or head over to its IRC channel at irc.freenode.net and joining the #ubuntu-phone channel.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

Chrome OS developer update adds extended desktop support

Google issued an update this week for the developer edition of Chrome OS, which adds extended display support via HDMI or VGA. Chromebooks packing A15 and Intel Celeron processors are said to fit the bill, while older machines such as the Cr-48 may experience a few hangups. The Dev Channel update also brings a newer version of Flash and Intelligent Window positioning, which automatically organizes your content displayed. If you'd like to go hands-on with these new features before they make their official debut, you'll need to switch your Chromebook over to the Developer Channel. This can be done by toggling: Menu, Settings, Help, More Info and then selecting the Dev Channel option. However, if patience is your strong suit and you prefer to wait for a certified stable release, at least you now know what lies ahead.

[Source: Engadget]

O2 UK's Nexus 4 reportedly SIM-unlocked

If you live in the UK and weren't lucky enough to bag yourself a Nexus 4 from the Google Play Store, there might be a way -- albeit an expensive way -- to get your hands on an unlocked 16GB model. As we reported a few weeks back, O2 scored a month-long exclusivity period, meaning it's the only carrier able to directly sell the Nexus 4 in the UK until mid-December. (Carphone Warehouse has the new Nexus too, though officially they're not offering it SIM-free.)

Today we're seeing reports from members on the Android Central forums, corroborated by similar posts from other forums, indicating that Nexus 4s sold by O2 are in fact SIM-unlocked, despite the carrier's protestations to the contrary. Android Central forum member tomjdavies writes -- 

I got my Nexus 4 from O2 today. They were adamant in-store that it was locked to O2 but I made them put my Vodafone sim in it - and it worked, much to my joy ha. I paid £399.99 plus £10 for a pay as you go SIM.

Similar reports from XDA suggest this isn't an isolated incident, and that despite what O2 store staff are telling customers, at least some of network's Nexus 4 stock is unlocked. That means if you're willing to cough up the £400 (plus £10 top-up) asking price, you could walk away with an unlocked Nexus 4, weeks before it's available again on the Google Play Store. Nevertheless, we'd advise caution until there's official confirmation that all O2 Nexus 4s are sold without a network lock.

In the meantime, we've reached out to O2 for any official comment, and will keep you updated on any new information you provide. If you've picked up a Nexus 4 from O2 in the past few days, be sure to hit the comments and let us know if it's SIM-locked.

[Source: Android Central]

Ubuntu lands on Nexus 7 slates with Canonical's one-click installer

If you'd rather not let your Nexus 7 live out its life as a Jelly Bean-toting device, Canonical's freshly minted Ubuntu Nexus 7 Desktop Installer can help. Instead of allowing Ubuntu to ride shotgun with Android, the installer requires unlocking the device's bootloader, which wipes the slate clean. Once the Nexus 7 is unlocked, started in fastboot mode and connected to an Ubuntu machine, the one-click installation software takes care of the rest. Roughly 10 to 15 minutes later, your tablet will be running full-blown Ubuntu. Since development is currently focused on getting the core of the desktop OS up and running, there's no tablet-specific Unity UI to see here. However, Raring Ringtail is set to flesh out the mobile experience with an emphasis on sensors, memory footprint and battery life, among other features. Those who regret ousting Google's confection-themed operating system can simply reload their device with stock Android. For the entire walk through, hit the first source link below.

[Source: Engadget]

iMac and Mac Pro could ditch disc drives, OS code hints

Apple's desktop-bound iMac and Mac Pro computers could be about to lose their disc drives, configuration files in OS X Mountain Lion reveal.

An Appleinsider reader noticed the cryptic clue, which appears in a configuration .plist file that's used by Boot Camp Assistant, a bit of software that helps you install Windows on your Mac.

The file details newer models of Mac computers that can boot up an older operating system from a USB drive, handy if your computer lacks a disc drive. While a few Macs in the list do have slots for a CD or DVD, most are models that lack that disc-chomping capability.

Nestled among those models numbers are two that refer to Macs that haven't come out yet, the IM130 -- reckoned to be the next iMac -- and the MP60, which is thought to be an upcoming Mac Pro. It's far from conclusive, but does raise the possibility of professional-grade Apple gadgets devoid of disc holes.

The iMac was notably left out in the cold when Apple recently refreshed its lines of fancy computers, shivering in the snow outside the Apple family home and pressing its nose against a frosted window pane to watch the MacBook Air and all-new retina MacBook Pro dancing around a Christmas tree with Tim Cook.

The Mac Pro meanwhile was given a cursory processor boost and a snifter more memory, but hasn't been given a significant upgrade since 2010. Updates for both are tipped to arrive next year.

Apple appears to be driving out disc drives with its other computers, but would shedding this once-crucial port from its desktop machines be a smart move?

I can't remember the last time I stuck a CD in my computer, but I remember the cruel lesson taught by the browser-only Chromebook laptop -- just because you don't think you use something (like a bit of software or a certain port) very often, doesn't mean it won't prove totally crucial in the near future.

[Source: cnet]


Samsung, today announced its stylish Series 5 Chromebook, the world’s first Chrome OS notebook built to revolutionize the PC experience with unparalleled speed, simplicity and security. 
Damian Cusick, General Manager Computing, Samsung UK comments: “ With the creation of the Series 5 we are again pushing the boundaries of innovation by introducing an entirely new product category to the notebook market". He goes on to say "This partnership has allowed us to combine Samsung’s design and engineering expertise with Google’s intuitive user interface to provide consumers with a revolutionary notebook to fit today’s web-centric lifestyle.  This product will also open up endless opportunities for businesses already embracing cloud computing.”
Elegant Design, Power Performance
With its elegant shape, slim .79-inch body and simple black and white finish, the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 embodies fashion and function. The 12.1” Super Bright display is both anti-reflective and anti-glare for a consistently vibrant visual experience across a variety of light conditions, from outdoors to dimly lit environments. The Series 5 display’s 300nit brightness brings all forms of media alive in vibrant color.
Today mobility is a deciding factor for consumers. The Series 5 weighs 3.2 lbs. and has a battery life of up to 8.5 hours, including five hours of video play for all day use without the need to recharge.  The Series 5 battery has a lifespan up to 1,000 cycles, three times longer than conventional batteries, which reduces the need for replacements and proves that environmental consciousness and smart computing can be synonymous. The Samsung Series 5 packs power with an Intel N570 1.66Ghz Dual Core processor, giving you the versatility and performance you need for a one-of-a-kind web experience.


Simple, Secure User Experience
Google developed the Chrome OS with three key factors in mind: speed, simplicity and security. The average out-of-the-box laptop boots up in forty five seconds, by contrast the Series 5 boots up in less than ten. When waking from sleep mode, it’s ready to go within one second. This means that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, your computer won’t slow you down.
The Chrome OS has eliminated concerns about security and data loss by moving everything to the cloud. With nothing stored directly on the Series 5, malicious spyware, trojans and viruses are a thing of the past. If the notebook is ever broken or lost, all of your files are saved online.
Web-centric Entertainment, Unrelenting Workhorse
The Series 5 enables today’s digital entertainment lifestyle by simplifying browsing, social networking, application usage and multi-media viewing. An optional VGA adaptor can connect to a second monitor or television, while audio inputs connect to a microphone, headphones or external speakers. The HD Webcam completes the Series 5’s audio-visual package.
When there isn’t time for entertainment, the Series 5 can easily get down to business. Productivity is uncompromised with the notebook’s stylish and comfortable island keyboard which delivers performance that can’t be matched by a virtual keyboard. Samsung Series 5 will connect you to your data anytime, anywhere through 3G, WLAN and a 4-in-1 Card Reader. 


Key Specs:
· CPU: Intel® N570 1.66Ghz Dual Core
· Operating System: Chrome OS
· Storage: SSD 16GB
· Memory: 2GB DDR3
· Screen: 12.1-inch WXGA LCD (1280x800), SuperBright (300 nit)
· Resolution: 1280x800
· Security: TPM
· Battery: Li-Ion Polymer 61 Wh, Up to 8.5Hrs
· Weight: 3.2 lbs.
· I/O Ports: 2 x USB, SIM Card Slot, 4-In-1 (SD, SDHC, MMC), VGA Dongle, DC-in


The Samsung Series 5 will be launched in the UK on 24th June.  It will be available on Amazon and PCWorld.  The 3G Wi-Fi model will retail at £399 and the Wi-Fi model has a price point of £349.