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Virtru Adds Office 365 To Its Email Encryption Service

March 25, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Virtru has added Microsoft’s Office 365 and Outlook Desktop services to its growing list of compatible email platforms available on its encryption product.

The company, headquartered in Washington, D.C. and launched in January, is targeting people using major email providers who want stronger privacy controls for more secure communication.

The service is designed to be easy to use for end users who may not have the technical gumption to set up PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), a standard for signing and encrypting content.

Virtru is compatible with most major webmail providers, including Google’s Gmail, Yahoo’s Mail and Microsoft’s Outlook webmail, which replaced Hotmail.

Emails sent using Virtru through those services would look like gibberish, providing a greater degree of privacy. Law enforcement or other entities would not be able to read the content unless they could obtain the key.

Virtru uses a browser extension to encrypt email on a person’s computer or mobile device. The content is decrypted after recipients receive a key, which is distributed by Virtru’s centralized key management server.

Although Virtru handles key management, the company is working on a product that would allow that task to be managed on-site for users, as some administrators would be uncomfortable with another entity managing their keys.

Virtru has said it put aside funds to contest government orders such as a National Security Letter or law enforcement request that are not based on a standard of probable cause.


Can LibreOffice Challenge MS Office?

February 4, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Libreoffice 4.2 is out and is a major upgrade release.

The popular alternative to Microsoft Office has been retooled to increase compatibility with that expensive proprietary productivity applications suite, including compatibility with Visio and Publisher files.

In addition to a much improved formula process for its spreadsheet application, Libreoffice 4.2 also includes a new startup screen and improved round trip compatibility for newer formats such as .docx.

Java accessibility features are being phased out in favour of the IBM IAccessibility2 package, which will supercede the Java version in future editions.

iOS users can take advantage of the Impress Remote Control feature that allows users to control presentations from their smartphones. This feature has been available on Android for some time but now Apple fans can use it too.

Libreoffice claims that this is the biggest recoding of its office suite yet and says that it now offers better integration with Windows 7 and Windows 8, with documents grouped on the taskbar and quickview thumbnails.

The news comes after UK cabinet minister Francis Maude recently announced that Parliament will move towards using open source software for its documents, and said that interoperability improvements such as those Libreoffice has introduced will be key to ensuring that all areas of government communicate a lot more effectively than they do right now.

Libreoffice has also made contributing to continued development of the open source office suite even easier with a new code submission and review portal known as Gerrit.


Microsoft Adds Enhancements To Yammer’s Mobile Apps

October 17, 2013 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft has made updates to its Yammer enterprise social networking suite’s mobile applications, email integration and document collaboration.

Microsoft detailed the improvements  at an event it held in San Francisco for Yammer customers that kicks off its Working Social Tour, scheduled to land in up to 200 cities worldwide, including New York City, Amsterdam, Sao Paulo and Tokyo.

“It’s part of our push to connect with Yammer customers,” said Jared Spataro, general manager, Microsoft Office, in an interview. Attendees are expected to be both Yammer customers as well as those who are using Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud email and collaboration suite, which includes online versions of Exchange, Lync, SharePoint and Office.

Microsoft bought Yammer in mid-2012 for $1.2 billion in order to extend the enterprise social networking (ESN) capabilities of its SharePoint collaboration server and of other products in the Office family and beyond. Microsoft is in the process of integrating Yammer’s cloud suite with those products now.

The mobile improvements include a revamped iPad application and tweaks to the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 applications. The overhaul of the iPad app is supposed to simplify the user experience, while the Windows apps got improvements to live tiles and a better inbox.

Microsoft also deepened the interoperability between Yammer and email systems, making it possible for people to participate in Yammer group discussions through email messaging and without necessarily having a Yammer account.

Establishing bridges between Yammer and email is important because many customers are still trying to figure out the best way to use the ESN suite with email, according to Spataro.

“They’re looking for a mental model for how to use email and Yammer and how to think about those two worlds coming together because not everyone jumps on Yammer or enterprise social networking at the same time,” he said.

Unlike other vendors, Microsoft doesn’t see ESN suites as a replacement for email communications. “We believe they’re very complementary tools, that they can and should coexist, and that when used together they provide a very good, rounded experience,” Spataro said.

Microsoft has also started to add features to Yammer so that it can be used as a more structured tool for getting things done and managing tasks, not just as a social conversation meeting place, he said.

In addition, it’s now also possible to launch a Yammer conversation from an Office 365 document stored in SharePoint Online by hitting a “Post to Yammer” button. That way people can have discussions about the document on Yammer.


Will MS Target Wii Owners With the Xbox 360?

November 2, 2012 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo will be launching Wii U in just a few weeks, and Mario and Co. no doubt would like Wii owners to make the jump to their new platform, but Microsoft sees it playing out differently this holiday. With blockbusters like Halo 4 and a $50 price cut on holiday bundles, Matt Barlow, general manager of product marketing for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, believes Xbox 360 will have the edge in the HD console battle.

“I think this holiday season is an amazing jump off for all those people who may have been interested in the Wii and now want to be interested in high definition gaming”. “I can’t think of a better console for them to choose than one that has the most games available, the highest rated games available, than the Xbox 360 platform.”

“And when you look at the alternative experiences that we’re going to bring with SmartGlass, the entertainment providers that we’re bringing on board, with sports and music and movies and TV, and then if you think about those preeminent best selling blockbuster games that they’re going to want to play – Halo, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Forza, Nike+ Kinect Fitness – they either play first or they play best on Xbox 360 and nowhere else.”

“We’ve only scratched the surface…Kinect is going to be something that everyone’s going to want to own”

Matt Barlow

“Like I said, jump off is great and we like the way we’re positioned to pick those customers up. They really should consider an Xbox 360 if they’re looking for the best high definition gaming and entertainment platform.”

Barlow was speaking as part of an interview about how Microsoft is positioning the Xbox 360 business going into yet another holiday season, nearing the end of its lifecycle. He noted that Kinect, which he said has now sold 20 million units, will continue to play a large role and he believes it’s actually beginning to resonate with the core audience.

“When you look at the way core has adapted to Kinect, the things that they’re valuing with it – the voice control stuff is really starting to catch on. When I look at some of the stuff we’ve done with Skyrim, some of the integration we have with Skyrim, some of the work with FIFA…voice integration has been unbelievable. If you look at some of the reviews we have on Mass Effect 3 and some of the people who play through using some of the voice control capabilities as well in that game. We’re starting to strike the right chords in the core audience,” he said.

“There are plenty of uses for this particular technology, whether it’s gesture or speech, and we’ve only scratched the surface. We’ve only been in this thing a couple of years now…Kinect is going to be something that everyone’s going to want to own. Whether you’re core, whether you’re broad.



Latest Xbox 360 Update Goes 32GB Flash

October 19, 2012 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft has a little surprise in store for those using USB Flash drives for storage on their Xbox 360 consoles. With the latest update, Microsoft has doubled the allowed size of USB flash drives from 16GB to 32GB.

The news of the capacity increase came as more users have been getting the latest dashboard update. Previously, even if you had a larger flash drive than 16GB, the Xbox 360 would only allow users to use 16GB of the available storage space.

The storage increase comes as Microsoft confirms that Halo 4 will require 8GB of available storage space. The capacity increase will help those users that have opted not to go with a hard drive, but instead have taken advantage of the cheap prices of USB flash drive storage for handling their storage needs. Some users have reported using multiple USB flash drives and are pleased with the option, as it is still cheaper in most cases than buying a hard drive for use with their Xbox 360.

While the price of 32GB USB flash drives isn’t as cheap as 16GB flash drives yet, 32GB USB flash drives are now under $20, and we see the price going a bit lower as many makers are moving to USB 3.0 drives; which is making for great deals on the older and slower USB 2.0 models. Since the Xbox 360 does not support USB 3.0, there is no gain in buying a USB 3.0 model. With two 32GB drives, users have more storage than the 60GB hard drive that appeared in the Xbox 360 for a short time prior to the company moving away from both the 20GB and 60GB models in favor of the 120GB drive, which became the standard for a long time.



Will The Xbox 360 Get A Price Cut This Fall?

August 27, 2012 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft lowered the price on its Kinect camera peripheral by $40 last week. It’s a sign that Microsoft is getting ready to ramp up for the holidays, but is it also a portent of an imminent price drop on Xbox 360 hardware? Not necessarily, according to top industry analysts.

Most analysts we spoke with think Microsoft is much more likely to continue enhancing its bundle offerings rather than slashing any hardware prices.

“Price cut no, bundles yes. For now, I think Microsoft is happy with Xbox sales and some early traction in the different pricing models they have rolled out at retail,” said Colin Sebastian of RW Baird. “We still expect the launch of the next Xbox in the fall of 2013, so there will still need to be a price cut on the current gen, although perhaps not until after the holidays. I am sure retailers will offer their own promotions this holiday though.”

Sebastian makes a good point. Consumers hungry for great deals may still find a sudden temporary sale price for Xbox 360 at huge brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart. To the extent that Microsoft will cut prices on anything, it will be in the form of discounted bundles.

“I don’t believe an Xbox 360 price cut is imminent. The Xbox 360 hardware still leads in sales and I do doubt whether we even see a price cut at all in 2012. However, we should expect a holiday season full of discounted and limited edition bundles that, on paper, would reflect a price cut. But a full price cut on the base hardware, I wouldn’t expect one until early 2013,” Jesse Divnich of EEDAR told us.

Divnich noted one caveat in his prediction, however, and it involves Nintendo. “Of course, this is entirely dependent upon the success of the Wii U. If the Wii U comes flying out of the gates and begins to impact Xbox 360 hardware, I would expect Microsoft to react swiftly with a price cut or more aggressive retail promotions,” he added.

Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter couldn’t believe that Kinect hadn’t seen a price cut already. “I thought Kinect had been cut a long time ago, and can’t believe that the standalone unit sells that well,” he said. Pachter is forecasting a slight reduction on the current Kinect bundles. “I think they will price a Kinect bundle at $50 lower than the current bundles, so $249 for the 4GB bundle and $349 for the 250GB bundle, and yes, I think this is a sign [of future Xbox hardware cuts],” he remarked, deviating from other analysts’ opinions.

Aside from the possibility of Xbox 360 hardware seeing a price cut, we also have to look at what a Kinect price cut means for Kinect. Is Microsoft paving the way for a Kinect 2 launch this holiday? Lewis Ward of IDC Research believes so.

“I’m leaning toward Microsoft not cutting the price of the Xbox 360 in the near future since it’s already selling quite well, though a minor cut is possible. I think there will definitely be some interesting bundles this holiday season,” he noted, then adding, “I’ll go out on a limb as far as the Kinect MSRP cut goes. It’s been rumored that Kinect 2 will arrive with the Windows 8 launch at the end of October. It’s possible that Microsoft is clearing the channel in preparation of this (potential) new arrival.”

“If Kinect 2 does arrive this holiday season I’m sure they’ll put it in a bundle and there will have to be a few marquis games that use it in interesting ways. That’s a tall order, though, and if they’ve been able to keep it quiet to this point that would be a stunning feat!”


Will The ITC Ban The XBOX 360?

May 25, 2012 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Judge David Shaw’s recommendation to the ITC Commission that the import of 4gb and 250gb Xbox slim models to the US should be banned is unlikely to be enforced, says patent expert Florian Mueller.

The judge made the decision to recommend an import ban to the ITC Commission yesterday, ruling in a case between Microsoft and the Google-owned Motorolla which has the Redmond manufacturer defending itself against four counts of patent infringement.

Motorola, on the other hand, stands accused of not offering what are seen as essential patents for use by other companies under fair terms, violating the FRAND agreement by asking for an excessive share of profits.

Whilst Shaw has effectively ruled against Microsoft here, the actual outcome of the case rests heavily on two parallel cases in Europe which will establish whether Motorolla has operated within the terms of FRAND policy.

Nonetheless, even this judgment will be evaluated in the light of its potential effects on other businesses and the public.

“I’ve never seen an ITC judge make any other recommendation than an exclusion order if his initial determination is that there is a violation,” says Mueller. “This is the normal course of business.

“Unlike judges at courts, ITC judges don’t make the decisions: they merely recommend them. Their recommendations are very frequently not adopted by the Commission, the six-member decision-making body at the top of the ITC. Not only does the Commission overrule those judges with respect to the actual violations but the Commission also has the final say on remedies.”

Mueller, who runs tech patent blog Foss Patents, also said that developers and publishers are likely to petition the US administration to overturn the ruling.

“Even if the Commission agreed with the judge on some or all of the violations, there are public interest considerations for which an exclusion order should not be entered, or at least not before or during the Christmas Selling Season. The more Xbox games makers write to the ITC about this, the less likely an import ban will be.

“If many games makes write to the ITC, then I doubt that there will be ever be an actual Xbox import ban. What’s more likely to happen is that a federal court in Microsoft’s home state of Washington will set the terms of a license agreement that Motorola and Microsoft will have to enter into. As a result, Microsoft will be licensed and the Xbox won’t be an infringing product.”



Verizon To Sell LTE Capable Galaxy Tab 7.7 Starting March 1st

February 29, 2012 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon Wireless announced it will exclusively sale the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 starting Thursday for $499.99 with a two-year agreement for the carrier’s 4G LTE network.

The Android 3.2-based tablet has a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor and a 7.7-in. Super AMOLED Plus display at 1280 by 800 resolution.

A 3.2-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera are included, as well as 16 GB of on-board storage, with support for a 32 GB microSD card.

Verizon said the device is suited for workers since it comes with mobile device management software, a virtual private network, on-device encryption and push synchronization to email.

The device supports Microsoft Office. Hotspot connections to 10 Wi-Fi devices are possible.

Customers must subscribe to a 4G LTE broadband data package that starts at $30 a month for 2GB of data.


Xbox 360 Sells Skyrocket Over Black Friday Weekend

November 30, 2011 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

The Xbox 360 has seen impressive Thanksgiving sales this year, selling more that 960,000 units in the US alone.

It’s the biggest sales week yet in the history of the seven year old console.

Larry Hryb, the director of programming for XBox Live, and also known as Major Nelson, shared the figures. They also showed that of the 960,000 sold, 800,000 were sold within one 24 hour period.

More that 750,000 Kinects were also sold, a figure that includes both individual peripherals and bundles.

“We have seen tremendous excitement from customers for our hot holiday gaming offers,” said Chris Homeister, SVP and GM of Home Entertainment at Best Buy.

“Xbox 360 was among the best-sellers at Best Buy this Black Friday, and is a testament to the continued popularity of the gaming category this holiday.”

The news follows figures from Japan, where the Xbox 360 Kinect peripheral has been on sale for one year, selling 114,000 units in that time.



Android & iOS To Get Libre office

October 17, 2011 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

It has been revealed that it is working on bringing Libreoffice to the Android and IOS mobile operating systems.

Ever since The Document Foundation spearheaded the Libreoffice project it has gone from strength to strength, with many Linux distributions opting to replace Openoffice with Libreoffice. Now the project is looking at bringing its application suite to Android and IOS.

The Libreoffice port project is based on the work of Tor Lillqvist and has the objective of porting the open source office suite to Apple’s Ipad and Android tablets. There is also a plan to eventually port it to smaller devices, presumably smartphones.

While Libreoffice competes primarily against Microsoft’s Office on the desktop, for tablets it will have to go up against Google Docs, Quickoffice and Apple’s Iwork suite as well.

The Document Foundation warned that the tablet ports are “advanced development projects” and the user interface work has yet to begin, but said that “the bulk of the code is compiling”. Releases are expected late 2012 or early 2013.

The Document Foundation also announced that the French government is switching 500,000 or so desktops from using Openoffice to Libreoffice. That will increase Libreoffice’s Windows installed base by five per cent, claims the organisation.

Perhaps Libreoffice’s announcement that it is working on an office suite for Android and IOS will spur Microsoft to bring its Office 365 out of Windows Phone and offer it on these competing mobile operating systems too.






Is Microsoft Trying To Help Indie Game Developers?

July 26, 2011 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft XBOX 360 Console

Xbox Live Indie Games Developer Robert Boyd has said that Microsoft must do more to promote games on the service, or risk seeing talented developers alienated and moving to rival services.

The head of Zeboyd’s comments come after two of his games, Cthulhu Saves The World and Breath Of Death VII, made more money in a week on Steam than they had in 18 months combined presence on Microsoft’s service.

Speaking to this week, Boyd expressed his feelings about the reputation of the service, which he feels is unduly negative. What’s on offer there, Boyd argues, is much more than the massage ‘apps’ and poorly implemented knock-offs which are seen by some as the service’s mainstay.

“XBLIG is a great solution for new developers,” Boyd told Edge. “It’s cheap, easy to learn, and has a great community of people that are willing to help each other.

“However, from a perspective of actually making good money, I do not believe it is a viable platform. The greatest strength and greatest weakness of the service is that it’s the most open platform we’ve ever seen on any home console. Just about anyone can release an XBLIG title, and just about anyone does. As a result, the service has got a reputation for being full of garbage.”

The issue, says Boyd, is an amalgamation of the problems faced by many similar services with a low barrier to entry.

“XBLIG basically has the low price expectations and flood of product that the Apple App Store has, combined with the low visibility of Nintendo’s digital stores – it’s no wonder most titles sell poorly. Greater visibility for the high-quality titles on the service would be a great help.”

However, Boyd does acknowledge that the experience he gained from XBLIG was an important step in the continuing journey to success, seeing it as a stepping stone to Steam validation.

“I believe that starting out with XBLIG was the correct choice for us,” Boyd continued. “Without the experience and positive reputation that we gained from making XBLIG titles I believe it would have been much more difficult to get approved for Steam.” by Dan Pearson


Xbox 360 Revenue Up Almost 50 Percent

July 22, 2011 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft’s financial reports for its Entertainment and Devices Division show that Xbox 360 revenue grew by 45 per cent for the year, while the device itself shipped 13.7 million units, an increase on 2010′s 10.3 million.

Profit from EDD for the quarter was $32 million. The report also noted that the 360 has been the top selling console in the US over the last 12 months.

“EDD revenue increased primarily reflecting higher Xbox 360 platform revenue. Xbox 360 platform revenue grew $2.7 billion or 48 per cent, led by increased volumes of Xbox 360 consoles, sales of Kinect sensors, and higher Xbox Live revenue,” said the firm.

The report also showed a 12 per cent ($119 million) rise in research and development costs for the division over the year, due to an expanded team, and an increase in marketing costs of 12 per cent.

Across all divisions Microsoft’s sales for the quarter was $17.37 billion, a rise of eight per cent, and a profit of $5.87 billion, a rise of 30 per cent.

Overall Microsoft sales for the entire fiscal year was $69.94 billion, which represented a $23.15 billion profit. by Rachel Weber



SoC To Be Used in Slim XBOX 360s

June 13, 2011 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

The latest fad of using SoC (System-o-Chip) processor will be incorporated into the new Slim Xbox 360 according to Microsoft, which cuts down on two processors. According to Microsoft the chip was designed by IBM/Global Foundries is using a 45nm process and combines the tri-core CPU, AMD/ATI GPU, dual channel memory controller, and I/O onto a single chip with a new front side bus. This technological design is similar to the methods used by AMD’s Fusion and Intel’s Sandy Bridge offerings.

As you the true reason for Microsoft to use SoC is to reduce cost.  That said, it also reduces heat and increases power efficiency; these are two areas that Microsoft has improved upon with each generation of Xbox 360 that has been released.

The new SoC will have 372 million transistors that took Microsoft development team 5 years of research to bring to life.  It is said that Microsoft wanted to pay special attention to guaranteeing compatibility, implemented precision latency and bandwidth throttling that perfectly impersonates the older Xbox systems which used separate chips to make up older XBOX 360s.  Now I wonder if Microsoft will drop the Xbox 360 price even more in the Fall.


XBOX 360 Dashboard Coming This Month

May 10, 2011 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Word on the street is that Microsoft will be releasing the Xbox 360 Spring update starting on May 19th.  Sources are saying that Microsoft plans to do things a little different by releasing the update in a 6 phased approach to ensure a high quality update for its gamers.

Most people assumed that Hulu Plus was going to be a part of the spring update; but Hulu Plus was relased in to wild by Microsoft over a week ago.  We are hearing that the biggest part of the update is going to be the addition of Paypal and the new XGD3 disc format.

The XGD3 format supposedly will allow the use of a altered disc structure, which increases the available disc space that will help developers by providing an increase in space per disc.  While no titles are slated to use the format in the Spring and Summer.  However, the blockbuster titles coming in the Fall of 2011 are expected to start it off.  The real reason the format is being used to thwart pirating with the additional layers of copy protection.

This update will not include Avatar Kinect.  That said, the other improvements are said to be under the hood and not visible to gamers.  So be prepared to see changes starting on May 19th when the update starts.


Google To Offer Flexible Plan For Business Apps Users

April 27, 2011 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Google will allow companies to sign up users for its fee-based Apps for Business hosted collaboration and communication suite on a month-to-month basis, without having to commit them to an annual contract.

Dubbed the Flexible Plan, this new option will become available globally in the several weeks and will allow companies to pay $5 per user per month, providing more flexibility to add and delete employees from month to month.

Google will continue to offer its existing billing model of $50 per user per year, which requires a one-year contract. The Flexible Plan will be available to any company that signs up for Apps for Business online.

Google envisions the Flexible Plan as being most attractive to small businesses, because their staff and cash flow can change dramatically in a short period of time, Google said in a blog post on Tuesday.

In addition, Google will now charge Apps for Business customers at the end of each month, as opposed to up front, and will add the option of direct debit payments in the U.S., U.K., Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

“The new flexible billing options will be welcome in the marketplace. The less money customers have to put up front the better, and the more granular the billing options the better,” said Gartner analyst Matt Cain via e-mail.

Apps for Business resellers will be able to offer these new billing options in the coming months.

Simultaneously, Google next month will also shrink the maximum number of users an organization can have in the free, standard Google Apps edition from 50 to 10. That change will affect companies that sign up on or after May 10. Companies that already use the free Google Apps edition will be able to continue using it with up to 50 users.

This cap on the number of users doesn’t apply to the Google Apps for Education edition, designed for schools and universities, which is free, nor to the special pricing options Google has for nonprofit organizations.

The Flexible Plan could be prompted by the upcoming launch this year of Google Apps rival Office 365 from Microsoft. Office 365, the upgrade to Microsoft’s cloud-hosted collaboration suite Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), will have several pricing options, starting with a bare-bones, e-mail-only version that will cost $2 per user per month. At the high end, Office 365 will have a version featuring Office 2010 Professional Plus on a subscription basis for $24 per user per month, along with other suite components like SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online.