Mozilla abandons Firefox Metro version

Windows 8’s controversial Metro interface has received another blow today as Mozilla has revealed that after 2 years worth of development and testing that it is shelving the Metro based version of Firefox. Microsoft launched Windows 8 with a new Metro start screen 2 years ago and developer interest in the platform has been slow. The latest snub from Mozilla is not likely to help matters either. Microsoft have been trying to entice developers to write touch friendly apps for it’s new touch interface but so far the interest has been minimal.

Recently Microsoft announced details for Windows 8.1 update 1 which gives users the ability to boot straight to the desktop and bypass the Metro interface all together. Along with this update there will be an option to run metro based applications on the desktop and use the taskbar to switch between them. It seems even Microsoft isn’t sure what it want’s in regards to Windows 8 either. So it comes as no surprise that Mozilla decided it just wasn’t worth their while working on a Metro version of their browser.

In a blog post the vice president of Firefox said, "On any given day, we have, for instance, millions of people testing pre-release versions of Firefox desktop, but we've never seen more than 1,000 active daily users in the Metro environment." The blog post goes on to explain that with so few people interested in this version that bug testing would take far too long as there were not enough people actively using the software to properly test it and squash bugs.

With such a big software developer giving a ‘vote of no confidence’ on Microsoft’s new interface you have to wonder what the future holds for Windows and how Microsoft will move on from this. The idea behind Metro was supposed to be to carry the Windows PC power into the tablet market, a very different strategy from Google and Apple’s approach, which expanded their smaller screen smartphone OSes to tablets. If software developers don't adopt to Metro, though, and stick only with the older "desktop" interface, it undermines Microsoft's strategy.


Microsoft Surface Pro coming to the UK in May

Microsoft's proper Windows 8 tablet, the Surface Pro, is coming to the UK "before the end of May", according to a company blog post. The software behemoth has yet to announce prices.

The last we heard about the delayed Pro was several weeks ago, when Microsoft said it was due "in the coming months". It'll arrive in other countries next month too, covering much of Europe -- Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland -- and further afield in Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

The Surface Pro runs full Windows 8, rather than the cut-down Windows RT on the Surface. That means you can run any Windows-compatible software, whereas the Surface is stuck with whatever's available on the Marketplace app store. Manufacturers including Samsung have criticised RT for being hard to understand, but it's due to get Outlook at some point this year.

While a British price for the Pro is yet to materialise, it sells for $899 (£560) in the US. The £399 Surface is cheaper in the States than in the UK, thanks to our swingeing 20 per cent VAT. Plucking a number out of thin air, I reckon the Surface Pro will be £700 here.

But that's just for the basic 64GB model, which doesn't have much free storage, and no keyboard cover. Upgrading to the 128GB model, which our colleague Scott Stein calls "essential", and adding the cool keyboard will set you back $1,200 -- nearly £800, plus VAT. Cripes.

If you can't wait for a Windows 8 tablet, we can recommend the £600 Acer Iconia W700 and £400 Asus VivoTab Smart, both four-star machines.

[Source: CNET]

Intel: New Windows 8 Intel Notebooks to Cost As Little as $200

The PC industry is in a sharp decline as consumers gravitate more towards smartphones and tablets. Intel hopes to change that trend, largely blamed on Windows 8 itself, by introducing its new Bay Trail processors that will enable low cost Windows 8 machines. How cheap? Budget-friendly enough that notebooks will be able to compete with sub-$200 priced tablets from Amazon, Samsung, Google and other manufacturers.

“If you look at touch-enabled Intel-based notebooks that are ultrathin using [the new] processors, those prices are going to be down to as low as $200,” Intel CEO Paul Otellini said, according to a recent article from CNET. It might be easy enough for Otellini to promise those prices, especially as he plans his exit from Intel next month, so we’re going to remain skeptical until we hear manufacturers say that they can deliver on those promises.

After all, touchscreen displays themselves can cost more than $200, add in memory, a hard drive, a graphics chip and other components and you’re looking at a rather expensive device. Look at the smartphone industry, for example, where it’s common to find an off-contract flagship smartphone for $650. Still, we do know that it’s possible to create low-cost devices if you’re willing to take a hit at the point of sale. Amazon says it breaks even on its Kindle Fire devices but makes money once consumers enter its ecosystem and begin to buy eBooks, music, videos and applications.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

Microsoft Preparing 7-inch Surface

While the PC market continues to flounder, Microsoft needs to find new footing if it wants to keep pace with the competition. Samsung, Apple and others have found great mobile success over the past several years—with both tablet and smartphones—and it’s a sweet spot Microsoft will desperately need to muscle its way into. So far, the company’s Surface lineup hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm, though a brand new focus could help to change that later this year.

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, the company is readying a completely fresh lineup of Surface tablets, including a more attractive 7-inch version. If Microsoft manages to produce the same excellent form factor in a smaller package and include a higher resolution screen, it could very well be the push Surface (and Windows RT) needs to become a viable competitor. Slap that with an aggressive price and Microsoft could grab a lot of consumer attention.

Last year, IDC research suggested half of Q4 tablets sales were smaller than 8-inches, with the iPad mini and Nexus 7 easily the most popular available. Microsoft initially didn’t have plans to go down the smaller tablet road, WSJ sources claim, but numbers don’t lie and, like Apple, it sounds as though the company doesn’t want to just stay out of the race entirely.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

Windows 8.1 is Official Name for Microsoft’s Project Blue


Microsoft recently confirmed that it’s working on new developments for its Windows Phone and Windows 8 platforms under the code name “Project Blue.” The company hasn’t revealed much about what Project Blue will entail, but ZDNET’s Mary Jo Foley has learned from inside sources that the Redmond-based company will ultimately call the release Windows 8.1. A similar update called Windows 8.1 RT is also scheduled for Windows RT.

Foley said Microsoft is currently planning to push the update in August, but that Microsoft will continue to call the operating system “Windows 8″ to avoid confusion among consumers. That’s a similar approach that the company took when it released service pack updates to its earlier operating systems. Foley isn’t aware of any pricing for the cost of the planned upgrades, if there’s any cost to consumers at all.

It’s unclear how Windows Phone will play a part of Project Blue, although we suspect an update for the platform is also in the works.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

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]

Surface Pro confirmed for UK 'in the coming months'

If you were a little disappointed by the Surface Pro being exclusive to the US, you won't have much longer to wait -- Microsoft is bringing the full Windows 8Surface to Britain "in the coming months".

While Microsoft didn't exactly offer much explanation as to how many months that would be, or if it'll be on sale in John Lewis like the ARM-powered Surface RT, it did say the rollout of the Surface PCs to more countries will begin in late March -- and why wouldn't the UK be an early bird? After all, we did get the RT early. Lucky us.

The Surface Pro won't only be hitting the UK -- it'll be reaching our chums in Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong and New Zealand. The Surface RT will also be rolling out in Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan.

One thing to note is the Surface Pro sells for much more than the RT -- currently in the US it's $899 (£560), but if you're hoping for an exact like-for-like conversion, then you'll be sorely disappointed. The Surface RT, like most other tech products, is cheaper in the States than in the UK, mainly due to VAT. If I were to take a guess, I'd say the Surface Pro will land at around £700.

When our very own Luke Westaway took a look at the Surface Pro, he loved that the full Windows 8 OS was on-board, but he also had several reservations -- mainly the chunkier form factor and Windows 8's touch-friendliness (or lack of).

The Surface Pro has also played host to many other controversies -- most notably the fact you get much smaller storage space than advertised, meaning if you buy the lower-end model, you'll find yourself running out of room very quickly.

If you don't want to wait another minute for a fully fledged Windows 8 tablet, you do have other options. We recently reviewed the Asus VivoTab Smart and Acer Iconia W700 -- both of which received a very respectable four stars.

[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]

Surface Pro Bombs iFixIt’s Teardown Analysis

Our diabolical friends at iFixIt gave Microsoft’s Surface Pro notebook/tablet the teardown treatment, and as always, they documented the surgery with plenty of pics every step of the way. It’s a given that you need nerves of steel to tear into some of the devices that end up on iFixIt’s operating table, and that’s especially true of the Surface Pro, which scored a measly 1 out of 10 on iFixIt’s Repairabilty scale (the higher the score, the easier it is to service).

That’s worse than Apple’s fourth generation iPad tablet, which scored a 2 out of 10, though woe is the user who attempts to service either device on their own. It can be done, though there’s a high amount of risk involved.

On the bright side, the battery in the Surface Pro is not soldered to the motherboard, and the solid state drive is removable, though you risk killing the tablet by trying to open it. Those who brave opening the Surface Pro will find 90 screws inside the device.

“We’re proponents of mechanical fasteners, but this number is a tad crazy,” iFixIt says.

The real challenge, however, is removing the display assembly, which is comprised of a fused glass and LCD. iFixIt says it’s “extremely difficult to remove/replace” because of the amount of adhesive holding everything together.

“Unless you perform the opening procedure 100 percent correctly, chances are you’ll shear one of the four cables surrounding the display perimeter,” iFixIt warns.

Lest anyone make a mountain out of a mole hill on this one, tablets aren’t exactly known for being easy to repair at home. At the same time, it’s something to consider with the Surface Pro, which is positioned as a full fledged notebook that pulls double duty as a tablet. If you’re concerned about component failure, you may want to think about an extended warranty.

Original Post by Paul Lilly, Reposted Courtesy of Maximum PC – Covering everything from hi-end gaming PCs to tablets, peripherals and home theater rigs, Maximum PC’s print and Web editions stay one step ahead of the fast-changing world of everything computer and computing related. Whether its the latest on building your own desktop system, reviews of the latest laptops and accessories, orroundups of the games and software that make your machine go, Maximum PC brings it to you with news, reviews, and years of expertise. TechnoBuffalo is thrilled to bring you the best of Maximum PC right here on our own pages to keep you immersed in all things digital.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

Microsoft sells out of 128GB Surface Pro models online and in some stores

If you were wondering how well the public would take to a Microsoft-made tablet costing $899 or more... quite well, at least from initial impressions. The 128GBSurface Pro has sold out at Microsoft's US online store, and checks suggest a lack of stock at both the company's retail stores as well as Best Buy and Staples. Canada is facing similar shortages at Best Buy and Future Shop. Not surprisingly,storage worries (since partly alleviated) have left the 64GB tablet as the only one in consistent supply, and we suspect that the 128GB model in Microsoft's Canadian store won't last for much longer. We'd be cautious before declaring the Surface Pro a runaway hit, however -- there's no word on how many units each store had, and Microsoft has refrained from reporting Surface sale numbers to date. Still, the early uptake is good news for Microsoft's first foray into designing an x86 PC, and it shows that many early adopters aren't hung up on the price.

[Source: Engadget]

Bill Gates: Windows 8 is doing "well" without him

How is Windows 8 doing? Microsoft says it's sold 60 million licenses for the latest version of its operating system, though according to other reports, it's performing nowhere near how the company would like. Bill Gates, however, seems pretty chuffed.

Asked by CNBC whether he'd ever return to the company as CEO, Gates replied that Windows 8 and the Surface tablet are doing "well" without him, The Verge reports. But then he would say that. Wouldn't he?

You can watch the full interview for yourself here. The interviewer asks the question just after five minutes in.

Gates points out he's engaged with Microsoft on a part-time basis, but he's very focussed on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "Microsoft has got a lot of exciting things going on," he said. "It's a competitive field. Windows 8 has done well, Surface computer is doing well, so I share lots of ideas where Office should go, and I think the field as a whole should feel proud of how quickly it's moving, and Microsoft will lead in a lot of those areas."

Asked which devices he uses, Gates said he reads on a Windows PC, while Windows Phone is "a fantastic product" and a "great tool".

So pretty effusive.

In just a few days Microsoft will hike up the price of Windows 8 by some 400 percent. So if you're umming and aahing about whether or not to buy, it's make your mind up time. And it's just a couple of weeks before Microsoft launches its Surface Pro tablet that runs Windows 8 instead of Windows RT. Which is the one everyone has been waiting for.

In the interview, Gates also gave an update on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has given away $28 billion to help combat health crises around the globe like Malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.

[Source: CNET]

Microsoft profits down during Windows 8 and Surface launch

Windows 8 has sold 60 million copies, helping Microsoft to take a record amount of money. In the three months during which it launched Windows 8 and the Surface tablet, the big M saw revenue rise but profits fall.

In the final quarter of 2012, Microsoft took in a total of £13.61bn revenue. £4.1bn of that is profit. Revenue is up by 3 per cent on last year, but profits are down 4 per cent.

That might sound disappointing in the period that Microsoft launched a new flagship operating system, but in fact Windows revenues went up by a quarter, with 60 million copies sold. It's the business-focused Office software that's underperformed.

One reason for the reduced profit is that a boatload of cash was ploughed into marketing. With the launch of Windows 8 the click-tastic Surface advert seems to be in every blinkin' ad break. Sadly, Microsoft kept schtum about sales of the Surface.

The Surface runs the stripped-down Windows RT version of the OS that's designed specifically for tablets. The full version of Windows 8 appears on the Surface Pro, which debuts in the US next month but could take a while to reach these shores.

Meanwhile Microsoft is set to hike up the price of Windows 8 by an eye-watering 400 per centnext month.

This week Apple also announced its numbers, and has once again done boffo business thanks to the phenomenal popularity of the iPhone and iPad. In crazy upside-down finance world, however, Apple's record profits led to a dizzying drop in share price. Work that one out.

[Source: CNET]