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Intel Looks To Android To Boost Tablet Business

April 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Its becoming more obvious lately that Intel and Microsoft are no longer joined at the hip. Intel is trying desperately to make a dent in the tablet market, and with Windows struggling on those devices, Android is where it’s at.

Intel hopes to see its processors used in 40 million tablets this year, and 80% to 90% of those will be running Google’s Android OS, CEO Brian Krzanich said on Tuesday.

“Our mix of OSes reflects pretty much what you see in the marketplace,” Krzanich said during Intel’s quarterly earnings call.

Most Intel-powered tablets running Android today use the older Medfield and Clover Trail+ chips. More Android tablets running the latest Atom processor, called Bay Trail, will ship later this quarter.

That’s not to say Intel is abandoning Windows — far from it. It’s just going where the market is today. Krzanich said he expects Windows to “grow and gain traction,” and more Intel-based tablets running both Android and Windows will be shown in June at the massive Computex trade show in Taipei.

The first Android-based Bay Trail tablet, the DreamTab, was announced in January, but it hasn’t shipped yet.

Intel is chasing ARM, the U.K. company whose processor designs are used in most tablets today, including those running both Android and Apple’s iOS.

The 40 million Intel tablets that will ship this year will give the company 15% to 20% of the tablet market, Intel CFO Stacy Smith said on the earnings call.

Intel is providing discounts and development funds to tablet makers to reduce the cost of using its chips. It’s looking for growth with the white-box Chinese tablet makers, which are expected to ship up to 130 million tablets this year.

Intel chips are available in some tablets now priced under $99, but most will be priced between $125 and $250, Krzanich said.

Microsoft hasn’t made much of a dent yet in Google’s and Apple’s share of the market, but IDC estimated last month that Windows would have 10.2% of the tablet market by 2017. Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard have launched Windows 8 tablets with Bay Trail, and Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 2 uses an Intel Core processor, but the tablets haven’t sold well.

 

 

 

MediaTek Shows Off New LTE SoC

April 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek has shown off one of its most interesting SoC designs to date at the China Electronic Information Expo. The MT6595 was announced a while ago, but this is apparently the first time MediaTek showcased it in action.

It is a big.LITTLE octa-core with integrated LTE support. It has four Cortex A17 cores backed by four Cortex A7 cores and it can hit 2.2GHz. The GPU of choice is the PowerVR G6200. It supports 2K4K video playback and recording, as well as H.265. It can deal with a 20-megapixel camera, too.

The really interesting bit is the modem. It can handle TD-LTE/FDD-LTE/WCDMA/TD-SCDMA/GSM networks, hence the company claims it is the first octa-core with on board LTE. Qualcomm has already announced an LTE-enabled octa-core, but it won’t be ready anytime soon. The MT6595 will – it is expected to show up in actual devices very soon.

Of course, MediaTek is going after a different market. Qualcomm is building the meanest possible chip with four 64-bit Cortex A57 cores and four A53 cores, while MediaTek is keeping the MT6595 somewhat simpler, with smaller 32-bit cores.

Courtesy-Fud

Can AMD’s A1 Challenge Intel’s Bay Trail?

April 11, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has released its first “system in a socket” single accelerated processor unit (APU) that aims to reduce the cost of entry-level PCs.

Based on the firm’s Kabini system on chip (SoC), the APU is named the “AM1 Platform”, combining most system functions into one chip, with the motherboard and APU together costing around between $39 and $59.

Launched at the beginning of March and released today in North America, AMD’s AM1 Platform is aimed at markets where entry-level PCs are competing against other low-cost devices.

“We’re seeing that the market for these lower-cost PCs is increasing,” said AMD desktop product marketing manager Adam Kozak. “We’re also seeing other devices out there trying to fill that gap, but there’s really a big difference between what these devices can do versus what a Windows PC can do.”

The AM1 Platform combines an Athlon or Sempron processor with a motherboard based on the FS1b upgradable socket design. These motherboards have no chipset, as all functions are integrated into the APU, and only require additional memory modules to make a working system.

The AM1 SoC has up to four Jaguar CPU cores and an AMD Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPU, an on-chip memory controller supporting up to 16GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, plus all the typical system input and output functions, including SATA ports for storage, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, as well as VGA and HDMI graphics outputs.

AMD’s Jaguar core is best known for powering both Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4 (PS4) games consoles. The AM1 Platform supports Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 in 32-bit or 64-bit architectures.

AMD said that it is going after Intel’s Bay Trail with the AM1 Platform, and expects to see it in small form factor desktop PCs such as netbooks and media-streaming boxes.

“We see it being used for basic computing, some light productivity and basic gaming, and really going after the Windows 8.1 environment with its four cores, which we’ll be able to offer for less,” Kozak added.

AMD benchmarked the AM1 Platform against an Intel Pentium J2850 with PC Mark 8 v2 and claimed it produced double the performance of the Intel processor. See the table below.

The FS1b upgradable socket means that users will be able to upgrade the system at a later date, while in Bay Trail and other low-cost platforms the processor is mounted directly to the motherboard.

AMD lifted the lid on its Kabini APU for tablets and mainstream laptops last May. AMD’s A series branded Kabini chips are quad-core processors, with the 15W A4-5000 and 25W A6-5200 clocked at 1.5GHz and 2GHz, respectively.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is AMD’s Graphic’s Push Paying Off?

April 9, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It appears that AMD’s professional graphics push is finally starting to pay off.

AMD’s graphics business is chugging along nicely, thanks to the success of Hawaii-based high-end cards, solid sales of rebranded mainstream cards, plenty of positive Mantle buzz and of course the cryptocurrency mining craze, which is winding down.

However, AMD traditionally lags behind Nvidia in two particular market segments – mobile graphics and professional graphics. Nvidia still has a comfortable lead in both segments and its position in mobile is as strong as ever, as it scored the vast majority of Haswell design wins in 2013. However, AMD is fighting back in the professional market and it is slowly gaining ground.

Mac Pro buckets boost FirePro sales

Last year AMD told us at the sidelines of its Hawaii launch event that is has high hopes for its professional GPU line-up moving forward.

This was not exactly news. At the time it was clear that AMD GPUs would end up in Cupertino’s latest Mac Pro series. The question was how much AMD stands to gain, both in terms of market share and revenue.

Although we are not fans of Apple’s marketing hype and hysteria associated with its consumerish fanboys, we have to admit that we have a soft spot new Mac Pro buckets. The bucket form factor is truly innovative and as usual the Mac Pro has the brains to match its looks. Basically it’s Apple going back to its roots.

Late last year it was reported that AMD would boost its market share in the professional segment to 30 percent this year, up from about 20 percent last year. For years Nvidia outsold AMD by a ratio of four to one in the professional space. The green team still has a huge lead, but AMD appears to be closing the gap.

It is hard to overstate the effect of professional graphics on Nvidia’s bottom line. The highly successful Quadro series always was and still is Nvidia’s cash cow. AMD is fighting back with competitive pricing and good hardware. In addition, the first Hawaii-based professional cards are rolling out as we speak. AMD’s new FirePro W9100, its first professional product based on Hawaii silicon, was announced a couple of weeks ago.

Can AMD keep it up?

2014 will be a good year for AMD’s professional graphics business, but it still remains to be seen whether the winning streak will continue. Apple does not care about loyalty, it’s not exactly a monogamous hardware partner. Apple has a habit of shifting between Nvidia and AMD graphics in the consumer space, so we would not rule out Nvidia in the long run. It might be back in future Mac Pro designs, but AMD has a few things working in its favour.

One of them is Adobe’s love of Open CL, which makes AMD’s professional offerings a bit more popular than Nvidia products in some circles. Adobe CC loves Open CL and AMD has been collaborating with Adobe for years to improve it. Support now extends to SpeedGrade CC, After Effects CC, Premiere, Adobe Media Encoder CC and other Adobe products.

Pricing is another important factor, as AMD has a tradition of undercutting Nvidia in the professional segment. When you happen to control 20 percent of the market in a duopoly, competitive pricing is a must.

Also, changing vendors in the professional arena is a bit trickier than swapping out a consumer graphics card or mobile GPU in a Macbook. This is perhaps AMD’s biggest advantage at the moment. Maintaining such design wins is quite a bit easier than winning them. AMD learned this lesson the hard way. Nvidia did not have to, at least not yet.

According to Seeking Alpha, demand for Mac Pro buckets is “crazy-high” and delivery times range from five to six weeks. Seeking Alpha goes on to conclude that AMD could make about $800,000,000 off a two-year Mac Pro design win, provided Apple sells 500,000 units over the next two years. At the moment it appears that Apple should have no trouble shipping half a million units, and then some.

If AMD manages to hold onto the Mac Pro deal, it stands to make a pretty penny over the next couple of years. However, if it also manages to seize more design wins in Apple consumer products, namely iMacs and Macbooks, AMD could make a small fortune on Cupertino deals alone.

Bear in mind that AMD’s revenue last year was $5.3 billion, so $800 million over the course of two years is a huge deal – even without consumer products in iMacs and Macbooks.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Microsoft Announces Give Away Of Windows For Tablets, Phones

April 4, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft Corp announced plans to give away its Windows operating system to makers of smartphones and small tablets for consumers as it seeks to make more of an impact on those fast-growing markets and counter the massive success of Google Inc’s free Android platform.

Microsoft’s, plans which were unveiled at its annual developers conference in San Francisco, is an attempt to broaden the small user base of mobile versions of Windows, in the hope that more customers will end up using Microsoft’s money-making, cloud-based services such as Skype and Office.

Up to now, Microsoft has charged phone and tablet makers between $5 and $15 per device to use its Windows system, as it has done successfully at higher prices for many years with Windows on personal computers. Hardware makers factor the cost of that into the sale price of each device.

That model has been obliterated in the past few years by the fast adoption of Google’s Android system for phones and tablets, which hardware makers quickly embraced and now accounts for more than 75 percent of all smartphones sold last year. Apple Inc’s iPhone and iPad account for most of the rest of the mobile computing market.

By contrast, Windows-powered phones held only 3 percent of the global smartphone market last year. Windows tablets have only about 2 percent of the tablet market, according to tech research firm Gartner.

Microsoft’s move to make Windows free for some consumer devices bucks a central tenet of Bill Gates’ original philosophy, that software should be paid for, which led to Microsoft’s massive financial success over the last four decades. But analysts said it is a realistic reaction to the runaway success of free Android.

“Microsoft is facing challenges on the mobile and tablet fronts and need to change their strategy to move the growth needle, this is a good and logical first step,” said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets.

Windows will be free for companies making phones and tablets with screen sizes under nine inches for the consumer market. A license fee will still apply for business devices.

It comes a week after new Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella unveiled new versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel applications for Apple Inc’s iPad. A year’s free subscription to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 service will be offered on the new devices running the free Windows, Microsoft said.

Both moves show that Microsoft is now more interested in gaining market share for its cloud-based services such as Office on any platform or device, rather than its traditional approach of putting Windows at the center of everything it does and extending its influence from there.

In the new era of mobile computing, Nadella acknowledged Microsoft’s underdog status.

“We are going to innovate with a challenger mindset,” said Nadella in a question and answer session at the developer conference. “We are not coming at this as some incumbent trying to do the next version of Windows, we are going to come at this by innovating in every dimension.”

 

Intel To Offer Exclusive Content For Devices Built Around Its Chips

April 3, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

After trailing ARM in the mobile processor market, Intel plans to change strategies by creating exclusive content for devices built around its chips.

More details about the exclusives will be shared during the Intel Developer Forum in Shenzhen, China. But Intel’s software chief Doug Fisher said the U.S. chipmaker wants to work “hand in hand” with vendors to develop unique content within a game or product.

The partnerships could even result in building entire software products exclusive to Intel chips, he added.

The company is trying to distinguish itself, as ARM chips remain the most commonly used processors in smartphones and tablets. Over the last four years, Intel has responded by building more power-efficient mobile processors, and optimizing Google’s Android OS for its chips.

“That’s not sufficient, we want to differentiate,” Fisher said in an interview on Wednesday. One area in which the company said it can excel is graphics, creating more detailed backgrounds in games. Another is in better multi-tasking for Android devices.

Intel is poised to make a breakthrough in the mobile processor market, Fisher said. The company has the goal of shipping 40 million Intel-powered tablet devices in 2014, four times more than the previous year.

To help bring more Intel-powered devices to the market, the U.S. chipmaker is tapping China’s tech hub of Shenzhen, a major center for electronics manufacturing. On Wednesday, Intel announced it would establish a center in Shenzhen devoted to helping vendors create mobile devices with the company’s chips.

Intel will also fund Chinese product development on tablets, smartphones and wearables with $100 million from its venture capital arm.

One area where Intel is noticing some innovation is vendors bringing Android to larger devices, including PCs. But Fisher said it’s still too early to say whether Android PCs have a future, given that Google is also pushing notebooks running its Chrome OS.

“We don’t care as long as it runs on Intel,” he added.

 

Can DirectX-12 Give Mobile Gaming A Boost?

March 31, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft announced DirectX 12 just a few days ago and for the first time Redmond’s API is relevant beyond the PC space. Some DirectX 12 tech will end up in phones and of course Windows tablets.

Qualcomm likes the idea, along with Nvidia. Qualcomm published an blog post on the potential impact of DirectX 12 on the mobile industry and the takeaway is very positive indeed.

DirectX 12 equals less overhead, more battery life

Qualcomm says it has worked closely with Microsoft to optimise “Windows mobile operating systems” and make the most of Adreno graphics. The chipmaker points out that current Snapdragon chipsets already support DirectX 9.3 and DirectX 11.  However, the transition to DirectX 12 will make a huge difference.

“DirectX 12 will turbocharge gaming on Snapdragon enabled devices in many ways. Just a few years ago, our Snapdragon processors featured one CPU core, now most Snapdragon processors offer four. The new libraries and API’s in DirectX 12 make more efficient use of these multiple cores to deliver better performance,” Qualcomm said.

DirectX 12 will also allow the GPU to be used more efficiently, delivering superior performance per watt.

“That means games will look better and deliver longer gameplay longer on a single charge,” Qualcomm’s gaming and graphics director Jim Merrick added.

What about eye candy?

Any improvement in efficiency also tends to have a positive effect on overall quality. Developers can get more out of existing hardware, they will have more resources at their disposal, simple as that.

Qualcomm also points out that DirectX 12 is also the first version to launch on Microsoft’s mobile operating systems at the same time as its desktop and console counterparts.

The company believes this emphasizes the growing shift and consumer demand for mobile gaming. However, it will also make it easier to port desktop and console games to mobile platforms.

Of course, this does not mean that we’ll be able to play Titanfall on a Nokia Lumia, or that similarly demanding titles can be ported. However, it will speed up development and allow developers and publishers to recycle resources used in console and PC games. Since Windows Phone isn’t exactly the biggest mobile platform out there, this might be very helpful and it might attract more developers.

Courtesy-Fud

Tumblr Finally Goes Two-Factor Authentication

March 28, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Tumblr has added two-factor authentication to its log-in system and recommended that people use it.

The firm, which is now owned by Yahoo, introduced the feature in a blog post where it compared control of a blog to control of a nuclear weapons system or a blanket.

Two-factor authentication improves your end security through adding in an extra layer. The example here is that users will log in with a password and back this up with a code generated on a mobile phone.

“The smile of a loved one. Your childhood blanket. A handsome bodyguard to take you in his arms. ‘Security’ can mean a lot of things in this crazy life, but nothing says ‘security’ like Tumblr’s two-factor authentication. It’s available as an option in your Settings page as of right now,” said Tumblr.

“You know how you need two keys to launch a nuclear missile? Two-factor authentication works like that. One key is your password, the other key is your cellular phone, and you need both to access your Tumblr Dashboard.”

The firm is joining a number of other companies that have added two factor authentication, and now sits alongside the Microsoft Xbox Console, Yahoo and Twitter.

If the Tumblr proposition sounds confusing, don’t worry because it isn’t. Users can elect to get a one-time code through their phone or through an app.

“Don’t worry about memorising that password, by the way,” said Tumblr in its FAQ on security. “You’ll only need it once, and it’s really stupid-looking anyway.”

Plus, you don’t have to take its advice. Tumblr will prefer that you do though. “Your account is far less likely to get compromised if you’ve enabled Two-Factor Authentication,” it added.

“But if you must, we’ll ask you to enter your account password to make sure it’s really you. You’ll then be able to log in to your account without the extra verification step. If you would like to re-enable it at any point, you’ll have to go through the aforementioned setup process again.”

Courtesy-TheInq

AMD, Intel and nVidia Go All In For OpenGL

March 25, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD, Intel and Nvidia teamed up to tout the advantages of the OpenGL multi-platform application programming interface (API) at this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC).

Sharing a stage at the event in San Francisco, the three major chip designers explained how, with a little tuning, OpenGL can offer developers between seven and 15 times better performance as opposed to the more widely recognised increases of 1.3 times.

AMD manager of software development Graham Sellers, Intel graphics software engineer Tim Foley and Nvidia OpenGL engineer Cass Everitt and senior software engineer John McDonald presented their OpenGL techniques on real-world devices to demonstrate how these techniques are suitable for use across multiple platforms.

During the presentation, Intel’s Foley talked up three techniques that can help OpenGL increase performance and reduce driver overhead: persistent-mapped buffers for faster streaming of dynamic geometry, integrating Multidrawindirect (MDI) for faster submission of many draw calls, and packing 2D textures into arrays, so texture changes no longer break batches.

They also mentioned during their presentation that with proper implementations of these high-level OpenGL techniques, driver overhead could be reduced to almost zero. This is something that Nvidia’s software engineers have already claimed is impossible with Direct3D and only possible with OpenGL (see video below).

Nvidia’s VP of game content and technology, Ashu Rege, blogged his account of the GDC joint session on the Nvidia blog.

“The techniques presented apply to all major vendors and are suitable for use across multiple platforms,” Rege wrote.

“OpenGL can cut through the driver overhead that has been a frustrating reality for game developers since the beginning of the PC game industry. On desktop systems, driver overhead can decrease frame rate. On mobile devices, however, driver overhead is even more insidious, robbing both battery life and frame rate.”

The slides from the talk, entitled Approaching Zero Driver Overhead, are embedded below.

At the Game Developers Conference (GDC), Microsoft also unveiled the latest version of its graphics API, Directx 12, with Direct3D 12 for more efficient gaming.

Showing off the new Directx 12 API during a demo of Xbox One racing game Forza 5 running on a PC with an Nvidia Geforce Titan Black graphics card, Microsoft said Directx 12 gives applications the ability to directly manage resources to perform synchronisation. As a result, developers of advanced applications can control the GPU to develop games that run more efficiently.

Courtesy-TheInq

iOS Tops Android For Web browsing

March 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Android based mobile phones from all manufacturers make up nearly 80% of all smartphones recently sold worldwide, but Apple’s iPhone and iPad still dominate when it comes to Web browsing in the U.S. and other highly developed countries.

In the U.S., about 62% of all mobile Web browsing in the last year came from iOS smartphones and tablets, according to dotMobi, a Web consulting and Web data measurement firm. The company measured billions of Web sites visited by smartphones and tablets in 101 countries, including the most developed ones.

Overall, iOS devices were used most often for browsing in 34 of the 101 countries measured; Android dominated in 67 nations.

The percentage of mobile users browsing the Web with iOS devices was higher in several nations than in the U.S. In the UK and France, that figure was 65%; in Japan, 68%; in Canada, 73%; and in Australia, 74%.

Meanwhile, Android smartphones and tablets are used more often for browsing in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, including Spain (56%) and Germany and India (both at 58%). Macedonia was strongest for Android usage, at nearly 91%, while South Korea — home of big Android device maker Samsung — had 74% of users browsing with Android.

Eileen O’Sullivan, the chief operating officer of dotMobi, said that Apple still maintains a stronghold across major markets in the world, but added, “its dominance is not guaranteed.” She said that while Apple is still considered an “aspirational brand,” its relatively high prices compared to Android smartphones and tablets could cost it market share in the countries where it leads.

All of dotMobi’s data is freely available on the Web, but users must register to see it.

The company provides maps that rank browsing by OS, even a specific device, and clicking on a country will show the percentage of use for that device in that country. For the U.S., Apple’s 62% share of Web browsing by iPhone and iPad compares to about 19% for Samsung devices and less than 4% each for Motorola, LG HTC, BlackBerry, Nokia and others.

In China, nearly 49.5% of Web browsing is done via iOS devices, with the remainder shared by Android devices from various brands, including Samsung (11%), HTC (9%), Huawei (6%) and Lenovo (3%).

 

Apple Says Good bye To iPad 2, Hello To iPad 4

March 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc said it would offer an iPad 4 tablet to replace the mid-range iPad 2 at the same price and the company also debuted a cheaper, lower capacity version of its plastic-backed iPhone 5C in Australia, China and some European countries.

The iPad 4 is available at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and $529 for the 16GB Wi-Fi + cellular model at the four major U.S. carriers – AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp, T-Mobile US Inc and Verizon Communications Inc.

The fourth-generation iPad, which has a 9.7-inch Retina display and supports 4G carriers worldwide, was launched in 2012, while the iPad 2 was launched in 2011.

Apple discontinued the iPad 4 last year when it launched its current flagship tablet, the iPad Air. The company had cut the price of iPad 2 to $399 in 2012.

Tablets based on Apple’s iOS platform held 36 percent share of the market in 2013, trailing those based on Google Inc’s Android software that had 62 percent share, according to research firm Gartner.

Apple also launched on Tuesday an 8GB iPhone 5C priced at 429 pounds ($710), 40 pounds cheaper than the 16GB version, according to the company’s UK website.

The 8GB iPhone 5C will also be available in France and Germany.

“We believe this newly configured device will have a lower gross margin as we estimate the difference in cost to Apple for the 8GB of NAND is $5 to $10,” Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross wrote in a research note.

Analysts have said earlier that the iPhone 5C, which is about $100 cheaper than the iPhone 5S, was unable to grab market share from rivals offering lower-cost phones based on Android.

 

Pandora Raises Monthly Fee For Ad Free Music

March 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Pandora Media Inc will raise fees for its ad-free service by $1 a month to almost $5 a month in May, a move to cover the increasing cost of licensing tunes that may annoy some longtime fans of the popular music-streaming service.

The company, which streams music from virtual radio stations to mobile devices such as Apple Inc’s iPhone or Google Android smartphones, said in an earlier blog post that royalties paid to artists had risen 53 percent over the past five years and will rise another 9 percent in 2015.

The increase of $1 to $4.99 a month takes effect for new subscribers in May. Existing monthly subscribers will not be forced to accept the higher charges for now, it said without elaborating.

Annual subscriptions will be discontinued however. Yearly subscribers paying $36 a year currently will move to a monthly, “loyalty” $3.99 plan once their memberships expire.

Pandora said the fee hikes should affect an estimated 3.3 million listeners, out of 250 million registered users, the bulk of whom tune in to the free, ad-supported service.

“The costs of delivering this service have grown considerably,” Pandora said in a blog post on Tuesday. “We hope that you understand why we have taken these steps. Our goal is to continue to be your go-to internet radio destination.”

Pandora is already one of the world’s most popular streaming music services though it has plenty of competitors, including Spotify and Apple Inc’s iTunes Radio. It’s also aggressively investing in local sales forces to sell ad spots and on expanding its four-year-old service.

The company said that active listeners in January fell to 73.4 million from 76.2 million in December, due to normal seasonality.

However, year-over-year active users were up 12 percent.

 

Microsoft’s Office For iPad Said To Announced Soon

March 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Satya Nadella may announce an iPad version of the company’s Office software suite on March 27, a source familiar with the event has stated, and use his first big press appearance to launch the company’s most profitable product in a version compatible with Apple Inc’s popular tablet.

Nadella, who replaced longtime CEO Steve Ballmer earlier this year, will address the media and industry executives in San Francisco on March 27.

Investors for years have urged Microsoft to adapt Office for mobile devices from Apple and Google Inc, rather than shackling it to Windows as PC sales decline. But the Redmond, Washington-based software giant has been reluctant to undermine its other lucrative franchise, its PC operating software.

Microsoft gives up some $2.5 billion a year in revenue by keeping Office off the iPad, which has now sold almost 200 million units, analysts estimate.

Tech blog Re/code first reported news of Nadella’s event. Microsoft said in an invitation to reporters that Nadella will discuss “news related to the intersection of cloud and mobile” but declined to comment on the specifics of the CEO’s appearance.

Microsoft has had iPad and iPhone versions of Office primed for several months now, sources told Reuters, but the company has dallied on their release due to internal divisions, among other things.

Although Nadella is expected to discuss his thinking in depth next week, the company has already signaled that it will adopt a more liberal attitude toward putting its software on different platforms.

Microsoft said earlier on Monday that it would make OneNote, its note-taking software, available on Mac, a move interpreted by observers as a shot against Evernote, the popular note-taking application that has both Mac and Android compatibility.

Aside from Evernote, Microsoft also faces budding challenges from startups that have released mobile-friendly alternatives to Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

 

Samsung Debuts Milk, New Free Music Service

March 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung has high hopes for its new Milk streaming service.

The radio service, announced last Friday, is available for free, with no ads, and users don’t need a log in to use the service, said Daren Tsui, vice president of music at Samsung Media Solutions.

The Milk application is available through the Google Play store, and will initially work with Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets. The company is, however, thinking about expanding its use to competing mobile devices, Tsui said.

The service will initially be available in the U.S., and will be expanded worldwide at a later date. It has 200 radio stations and 13 million songs, and in addition to functioning as a jukebox, allows users to create customized stations based on artist or genres.

Milk is targeted at competing music service like Apple’s iTunes Radio service, which is available for free with ads and ad-free for $24.99 via the iTunes Match service. Samsung is not yet providing an option to buy music, but Tsui said that idea is being researched. Meanwhile, the service could be one way to sell more tablets and smartphones. The app works with the AllShare feature, which allows streaming of music to TV sets and other Samsung devices.

Samsung worked with popular radio service Slacker — which is ad-based and has a database of 10 million songs — to develop the service. Samsung will also compete with other ad-supported free music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify.

Milk covers a range of genres and songs, and has an interface designed to make it easy to find songs, Tsui said.

The Milk interface is centered around a dial — which looks much like the software version of dials found on Apple’s iPod Classic and Shuffle — which can be customized to include favorite genres. The dial can’t fit all 17 genres provided in the app, so users can select up to nine genres to fit on the wheel. The dial can be turned around to switch on a music stream from a specific genre such as dance, electronica or indie.

Users can also customize radio stations by searching for songs or artists. Samsung has music licensing deals directly with labels, Tsui said.

 

 

 

Is AMD Worried About Microsoft’s DirectX 12

March 7, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s Mantle has been a hot topic for quite some time and despite its delayed birth, it has finally came delivered performance in Battlefield 4. Microsoft is not sleeping it has its own answer to Mantle that we mentioned here.

Oddly enough we heard some industry people calling it DirectX 12 or DirectX Next but it looks like Microsoft is getting ready to finally update the next generation DirectX. From what we heard the next generation DirectX will fix some of the driver overhead problems that were addressed by Mantle, which is a good thing for the whole industry and of course gamers.

AMD got back to us officially stating that “AMD would like you to know that it supports and celebrates a direction for game development that is aligned with AMD’s vision of lower-level, ‘closer to the metal’ graphics APIs for PC gaming. While industry experts expect this to take some time, developers can immediately leverage efficient API design using Mantle. “

AMD also told us that we can expect some information about this at the Game Developers Conference that starts on March 17th, or in less than two weeks from now.

We have a feeling that Microsoft is finally ready to talk about DirectX Next, DirectX 11.X, DirectX 12 or whatever they end up calling it, and we would not be surprised to see Nvidia 20nm Maxwell chips to support this API, as well as future GPUs from AMD, possibly again 20nm parts.

Courtesy-Fud