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Microsoft Unveils ‘Near Share’ Wireless File-sharing Feature

November 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft last week unveiled another Windows 10 preview, a regular occurrence in its Insider program, that featured a handful of additions to the under-construction OS. One of those, called “Near Share,” is a simple wireless service meant for impromptu file transfer between devices.

The easiest way to pigeonhole Near Share is to think of it as Microsoft’s belated doppelgänger of Apple’s “AirDrop,” the share service that debuted on Macs, iPhones and iPads six years ago.

Although AirDrop is one of the most under-used tools in macOS and iOS, there’s no reason Near Share has to follow suit on Windows 10. That’s why Computerworld dug up information on the feature now, rather than wait for its debut next year.

Near Share is Microsoft’s name for its ad hoc file transfer feature in Windows 10.

Like Apple’s AirDrop, which it resembles, Near Share is a file transfer service that works only between nearby devices. It’s designed for occasional inter-device transfer where simplicity and convenience are paramount. Rather than email a presentation from one device to another, for example, or upload to an online storage service or the network, Near Share lets one user zip the file directly from his or her PC to a colleague’s.

Not to beat the comparison horse, but again, it works much like AirDrop, the iOS and macOS file-sharing feature. Near Share relies on both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth alone, to sniff out nearby devices, create an ad hoc peer-to-peer network, then transfer the file.

Like AirDrop, Windows 10’s Near Share uses Bluetooth to broadcast the presence of the sharing-enabled device, detect other ready devices, then negotiate the connection between the two. For all but the smallest files – which are transmitted via Bluetooth – Near Share moves the file over a point-to-point Wi-Fi link.

That Wi-Fi connection uses the Wi-Fi Direct peer-to-peer (P2P) industry standard.

Microsoft doesn’t say, but Bluetooth – the limiting factor here – can reach as far as 300 feet. Most Bluetooth, however, maxes out at an effective range that’s considerably less. Apple, for instance, recommends that AirDrop be used only when devices are within 30 feet of each other.

Microsoft debuted the file transmission in Build 17035 of its Windows 10 Insider program, released Nov. 8. Devices on both ends of the transfer must be running that or a later build of Insider. The feature must also be enabled on both devices by toggling the “Near Share” switch under the “Shared Experiences” section of Settings.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios must also be present in both devices. A Wi-Fi connection to the Internet, or even a Wi-Fi network, is not necessary.

Apple Previews Lion OS, Reveals New Features

February 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Computing

Apple today released a preview version of Mac OS X 10.7, also known as  Lion, to developers, who can download the new operating system from the Mac App Store.

The preview is developers’ first look at the upgrade scheduled to reach consumers sometime this summer.

Included in the preview, and to be bundled with the operating system when it ships, is Lion Server, Apple’s new server software. One analyst saw that move as an admission by Apple that it hasn’t been able to make inroads into the corporate server market.

“They’ve recognized they’re not going to break into the data center,” said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research. “They’re admitting that what server sales they’ve made in the past have been to very small businesses.”

Currently, Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server is sold separately from the general-purpose edition for $499.

Late last year, Apple killed its Xserve line of rack servers, halting sales of the hardware on Jan. 31, 2011. Instead, Apple now steers customers toward Mac Pro and Mac Mini systems with Leopard Server pre-installed.

The bundling of Lion Server with Mac OS X 10.7 will save customers hundreds of dollars, said Gottheil, assuming Apple sticks to its traditional $129 price point for Lion next summer.

“A very small server should cost about $700 [this summer], not the $1,000 [a server-equipped Mac Mini] costs now,” said Gottheil.

Apple announced Lion and its summer 2011 availability in October 2010 during an event where CEO Steve Jobs also debuted a redesigned and lower-priced MacBook Air. At the time, Jobs called the new operating system “Mac OS X meets the iPad,” and talked about iOS features that would find their way onto the Mac.

The company has already delivered one Lion component — the Mac App Store — to users of Snow Leopard, launching the online software mart in early January.

Today, Apple revealed more details about the enhancements and additions to Lion, ranging from a redesigned Mail — the e-mail client bundled with Mac OS X — to AirDrop, a new tool for transferring files between Macs.

Apple did not disclose a ship date for Lion or its price. The company has usually priced its operating system upgrades at $129 for a single license, $149 for a five-license package. It departed from that practice with Snow Leopard — which it billed as a minor upgrade — in September 2009 when it priced Mac OS X 10.6 at $29 and $49.