Mac and Linux fans you are out of luck. Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, the headset that perhaps more than any other device has ignited public interest in virtual reality, will run almost exclusively on well-appointed Windows PCs, at least in the near future.
The process that most laptops use to output video doesn’t work with the Rift, and Oculus has temporarily halted development for hardware running Apple and Linux. That’s the takeaway from the spec informationOculus published Friday detailing what type of computer would be compatible with its headset.
Graphics cards need to be equivalent to or more powerful than the AMD Radeon R9 290 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, while the processor needs to match or exceed an Intel i5-4590 chip, the virtual-reality headset maker said in a blog post. Systems need at least 8GB of RAM, two USB 3.0 ports and must be able to handle HDMI 1.3 video output. They also need to be running at least Windows 7 with Service Pack 1.
Having common specs will simplify the development process and allow programmers to create apps and games that offer a consistent experience, said Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock in a blog post. This is important, since hardware that isn’t up to par will deliver a negative experience, he said.
The specs will stay consistent, but in theory, the cost of components that support the technology will decrease over time, allowing a broader range of PCs to work with the Rift, Binstock said.
Laptop owners who hoped to use the Rift are out of luck, at least for now. Many laptops have external video outputs connected to an integrated GPU (graphic processing units), said Binstock said. However, in those scenarios the video output is handled by “hardware and software mechanisms that can’t support the Rift,” he added.
Reviewing a laptop’s spec would not reveal this information, and Oculus is working on a method “to identify the right systems,” Binstock said.
The new desktop suite includes Access, Excel, Lync, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher and Word. It can be downloaded and installed by any consumer, whether they currently have an Office edition or Office 365 subscription or not, and by business workers whose companies subscribe to an eligible Office 365 plan that has Pro Plus as part of the deal.
The latter range from Office 365 Enterprise’s E3 and E4 plans and Office 365 Education’s E3 and E4, to Office 365 Government’s E3 and E4. Some plans, such as Office 365 Business, are not eligible for this preview but will be opened to the beta later, Microsoft said.
“Since March, we’ve shared some glimpses of what’s to come in Office 2016,” Jared Spataro, the Office marketing group’s general manager, said in a blogpost. “Today, we’d like to give a more holistic view of what customers at home and work can expect in the next release.”
The March preview Spataro referred to was available only to a subset of Office 365 subscribers, and followed the release of a broader-based preview of Office 2016 for Mac weeks earlier. Because the latter was open to anyone two months before the Windows version’s audience was expanded today, it looks likely that Office 2016 for OS X will debut in final form before the Windows edition.
Microsoft said that Office 2016 for Windows would ship in the fall, the same timetable executives had shared earlier.
In a FAQ, Microsoft listed the requirements for running the preview, which include Windows 7 and later, and reminded potential testers that they had to uninstall Office 2013 before shifting to the preview. The two editions cannot be run side by side, as can the beta of Office 2016 on the Mac with the older Office 2011.
As is Microsoft’s practice for previews, support for Office 2016 remains self-serve, primarily at a peer-to-peer discussion forum.
Microsoft has not yet revealed the pricing of Office 2016 — on either Windows or OS X — nor its retail strategy for selling the suite outside Office 365 subscriptions.
Dell’s security division has announced that it is working on a next-generation Firewall (NGFW) that it claims is the first to deliver deep packet inspection (DPI) speeds of up to 120Gbps.
The company will demonstrate these speeds at the RSA conference in San Francisco this week, and said that the NGFW cluster enables an “easy migration path” for the future growth of enterprise networks.
Dubbed a “firewall sandwich” of high DPI performance, better security efficiency and N+1 resiliency, the NGFW architecture is also said to lower the cost of demanding data centre operations.
“SSL decryption and inspection are critical NGFW capabilities required to effectively uncover malware deeply hidden inside encrypted web sessions and provide deeper perimeter network security,” said Dell.
“In this network design, the Dell SuperMassive NGFW with onboard SSL decryption can be incrementally deployed and horizontally scaled infinitely to address SSL performance loss and increase SSL decryption and inspection performance.”
The company will show off the technology at RSA in collaboration with Array Networks and Spirent Communication to give a demo of a highly-resilient, scalable, ‘Open Firewall Sandwich’ layer 3 architecture.
Dell will be joined by Ixia in demonstrating a network-based model for scaling the NGFW with DPI speeds of above 100Gbps.
Dell also unveiled several updates to the SecureWorks offering, which it claims will help firms increase network security and grow their business.
Updates include improved services in Dell Secure Mobile Access (SMA) solutions to increase mobile productivity for remote workers while protecting critical data from cyber threats.
The new SMA 11.2 release adds secure access to more resources using a standard HTML 5 browser, which Dell said allows easier access for most smartphone, tablet and laptop users while reducing reliance on Java and ActiveX components.
The new release adds HTML 5 browser access to Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp ICA support.
Dell said that new SMA 6200 and 7200 appliances also offer increased scalability. The SMA 6200 entry-level platform supports up to 2,000 concurrent users, while the SMA 7200 mid-range platform supports up to 10,000 concurrent users.
The SMA updates arrive six months after Dell revealed the SuperMassive 9800 firewall, which it claimed would protect against high-profile bugs such as Shellshock and Heartbleed.
Touted at the time as the most powerful in the SuperMassive 9000 line-up, the 9800 offered Dell’s Reassembly-Free DPI single-pass threat prevention engine, and advanced DPI with speeds up to 20Gbps. That’s a whopping 100Gbps less than the speed it is about to go for at RSA.
Microsoft is going great guns in the server market having recently announced the Nano Server, a “minimal footprint” Windows Server, and Hyper-V containers, which provide virtual machine isolation capabilities to containers.
Nano Server is even more stripped-down than Windows Server Core with the GUI stack, 32 bit support (WOW64), MSI and a number of default Server Core components all being put in the dustbin.
You can’t do local logons, Remote Desktop and WMI and PowerShell are the only tools available to manage the creature.
Microsoft is also working on better remote tooling and is coming up with a set of management tools for the nano. It is planning work on PowerShell’s Desired State Configuration, file transfers and script authoring and debugging.
Cutting all this stuff out has made it more efficient, secure and availability. Redmond said that the Nano Server has 93 percent lower VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) size.
It also gets 92 percent fewer critical bulletins and requires 80 percent fewer reboots than a typical Windows Server. It is also a bit quicker to setup: from bare metal to running Nano Server takes 3 minutes.
Hyper-V containers also will offer the system a fair bit of isolation that was only available to “dedicated physical or virtual machines”.
“DNT will not be the default state in Windows Express Settings moving forward, but we will provide customers with clear information on how to turn this feature on in the browser settings should they wish to do so,” said Brendon Lynch, the firm’s chief privacy officer, in a blog post Friday.
“Windows Express” is Microsoft’s label for the setup process after first turning on a new PC or after the installation of an upgrade.
Do Not Track signals whether a user wants online advertisers and websites to track his or her movements, and was modeled after the Do Not Call list that telemarketers are supposed to abide by. All five major browsers — Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer (IE), Opera and Safari — can send a DNT request.
“This change will apply when customers set up a new PC for the first time, as well as when they upgrade from a previous version of Windows or Internet Explorer,” added Lynch.
His comments implied that when users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 upgrade to Windows 10 later this year, the DNT setting in IE11 and Project Spartan — the new browser that will be named the default — will be left as off.
Lynch cited new emphasis in the DNT standard for the change.
The standard’s latest draft states, “The basic principle is that a tracking preference expression is only transmitted when it reflects a deliberate choice by the user. In the absence of user choice, there is no tracking preference expressed.”
“We are updating our approach to DNT to eliminate any misunderstanding about whether our chosen implementation will comply with the W3C [World Wide Web Consortium] standard,” said Lynch.
AMD must face claims that it committed securities fraud by hiding problems with the bungled 2011 launch of Llano that eventually led to a $100 million write-down, a US court has decided.
According to Techeye US District Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers said plaintiffs had a case that AMD officials misled them by stating in the spring of 2011 and will have to face a full trial.
The lawsuit was over the Llano chip, which AMD had claimed was “the most impressive processor in history.”
AMD originally said that the product launch would happen in the fourth quarter of 2010, sales of the Llano were delayed because of problems at the company’s chip manufacturing plant.
The then Chief Financial Officer Thomas Seifert told analysts on an April 2011 conference call that problems with chip production for the Llano were in the past, and that the company would have ample product for a launch in the second quarter.
Press officers for AMD continued to insist that there were no problems with supply, concealing the fact that it was only shipping Llanos to top-tier computer manufacturers because it did not have enough chips.
By the time AMD ramped up Llano shipments in late 2011, no one wanted them any more, leading to an inventory glut.
AMD disclosed in October 2012 that it was writing down $100 million of Llano inventory as not shiftable.
Shares fell nearly 74 percent from a peak of $8.35 in March 2012 to a low of $2.18 in October 2012 when the market learned the extent of the problems with the Llano launch.
Net Applications’ monthly user share tracking — an estimate of the percentage of all systems that rely on a specific operating system — pegged Windows 7 at 63.7% of all Windows PCs in March.
That was a 2.6 percentage point jump from February.
The climb of Windows 7′s user share has been remarkable. An older operating system — Windows 7 debuted in 2009 — typically loses share when a successor appears on the scene. Even in the dark days of Windows Vista, the OS tagged as a flop for Microsoft, Vista stole share from the then-overwhelmingly-dominant Windows XP.
Instead, Windows 7 has gained significant user share since the October 2012 launch of Windows 8. In the intervening 29 months, Windows 7′s share of all Windows PCs has climbed nearly 15 percentage points, representing an increase of almost a third.
Notable, too, has been Windows 8/8.1′s stagnation: In the last four months, Microsoft’s latest OS has grown by just six-tenths of a percentage point, reaching 15.4% of all Windows PCs in March. In the same span, Windows 7′s share of all Windows machines jumped 2.2 points.
Microsoft would prefer that Windows 7 not repeat Windows XP’s trajectory. The 2001 OS still powered more than 30% of all Windows PCs in April 2014, when free support ceased.
However, analysts have already predicted that Windows 7 will reprise XP’s late-to-leave behavior. Net Applications’ data suggests that their forecasts are on the money.
Intel has announced details of its first Xeon system on chip (SoC) which will become the new the Xeon D 1500 processor family.
Although it is being touted as a server, storage and compute applications chip at the “network edge”, word on the street is that it could be under the bonnet of robots during the next apocalypse.
The Xeon D SoCs use the more useful bits of the E3 and Atom SoCs along with 14nm Broadwell core architecture. The Xeon D chip is expected to bring 3.4x better performance per watt than previous Xeon chips.
Lisa Spelman, Intel’s general manager for the Data Centre Products Group, lifted the kimono on the eight-core 2GHz Xeon D 1540 and the four-core 2.2GHz Xeon D 1520, both running at 45W. It also features integrated I/O and networking to slot into microservers and appliances for networking and storage, the firm said.
The chips are also being touted for industrial automation and may see life powering robots on factory floors. Since simple robots can run on basic, low-power processors, there’s no reason why faster chips can’t be plugged into advanced robots for more complex tasks, according to Intel.
Microsoft will double the per-PC price of support for enterprises still holding onto Windows XP systems when the anniversary of the aged OS’s retirement rolls around in April, according to a licensing expert familiar with the situation.
The per-PC price for what Microsoft calls “custom support agreements” (CSAs) will increase to $400, the expert said after requesting anonymity.
CSAs provide critical security updates for an operating system that’s been officially retired, as Windows XP was on April 8, 2014. CSAs are negotiated on a company-by-company basis and also require that an organization has adopted a top-tier support plan, dubbed Premier Support, offered by Microsoft.
The CSA failsafe lets companies pay for security patches beyond the normal support lifespan while they finish their migrations to newer editions of Windows. Most enterprises have shifted — and are continuing to do so — to Windows 7 rather than adopt Windows 8.1.
Last year, just days before Microsoft retired Windows XP, the company slashed the price of CSAs to $200-per-device with a cap of $250,000.
Because a CSA is an annual-only program — and Microsoft limits each organization to just three years of post-retirement support — agreements must be renewed each year. The first renewals come due in less than two months.
Ideally, companies that signed up for a CSA last year will have retired large numbers of Windows XP machines in the interim. If a firm reduced the number of Windows XP PCs by half, it will pay the same as last year if it renews the agreement at the higher per-device price.
It’s difficult to gauge the persistence of Windows XP in commercial settings, but the operating system, which debuted in 2001, continues to appear in analytics firms’ tracking.
According to U.S.-based Net Applications, for example, the global user share of XP stood at 20.7% of all Windows-powered PCs in January, representing more than 300 million machines. Meanwhile, Irish metrics company StatCounter pegged XP’s usage share at 12% for January.
Dell has merged its SonicPoints with Dell SonicWALL next-generation firewalls to create what it claims are secure wireless networks. According to the company, the Dell SonicWALL firewalls automatically detects and provision SonicPoints, while it pushes appropriate security updates as well as policies to ensure enterprise-class security.
Of course, it also claims to simplify management, deliver a lower TCO and protect you from badgers at the same time. But it is a pretty interesting product. The SonicPoint AC Series of wireless access points would be able to support the high-performance IEEE 802.11ac wireless standard in order to offer close to three times that of the last wireless standard (802.11n).
SonicPoints will offer deep packet inspection security from Dell SonicWALL next-generation firewalls. This opens the door for small- and mid-sized organizations to leverage enterprise-class wireless performance and security, all the while simplifying wireless network setup and management.
With enterprise-level performance, WiFi-ready devices are able to hook up from greater distances, while making use of bandwidth-intensive mobile apps, including video and voice, working in higher-density environments with virtually no signal degradation.
Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told Japanese news service Nikkei on Wednesday that the new system would be released “early next fall.”
Microsoft has not publicly set a firm timetable for the release of Windows 10, but only last week suggested the possibility of an earlier release.
“By next late summer and early fall we’ll be able to bring out this particular OS (operating system). That’s the current plan of record,” Turner told the Credit Suisse Technology Conference last Thursday.
An autumn release would put Windows 10 on track for launch three years after Windows 8, which got a mixed reception as it confused many traditional PC users with a design more suited to tablets.
Microsoft unveiled the name Windows 10 in late September, saying the jump in numbers from 8 to 10 marked a leap as it looks to unify the way people work on tablets, phones and traditional computers.
An early test version of Windows 10 – which blends the traditional look and much-loved start menu with newer features – has been available for download from Microsoft’s website for more than two months.
Windows is still a core part of Microsoft’s business and dominates the desktop computing market with 1.5 billion users. But the growth of smartphones and tablets means Windows now runs on only about 14 percent of computing devices worldwide, according to tech research firm Gartner.
Dell got back to us about the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet following our recent article, in which we pointed up that it has yet to ship. The company said the tablet will officially launch at CES 2015.
This is the tablet that Michael Dell held in his hand at IDF 2014 in September and later Jim Parsons promoted the sleek device in a commercial that aired less than two weeks ago.
“The Venue 8 7000 – the world’s thinnest at 6mm, with the world’s best display (2560 x 1600 OLED) and the first RealSense depth camera integrated into such a small form factor – is going to be officially announced with pricing and availability at CES.”
It cannot be clearer than that, but we would be a tad happier to know what sort of SoC Intel uses in this tablet is and it would be great to know the price. There is still a chance that this will be the thinnest tablet by the time it actually launches, although we don’t think that Dell will be the only brand launching new products at CES.
The competition never sleeps and after a lot of digging around the most serious candidate for the SoC inside the ultrathin tablet is the Intel Atom Z3580, a 22nm processor previously codenamed Moorefield. This SoC is a quad-core clocked at up to 2.33GHz and based on the Silvermont architecture. The prototype that Dell showed back at IDF 2014 and Dell World was running Android 4.4 and Morefield Atom Z35xx has been confirmed as the SoC of choice.
Moorefield is ready for 64-bit Android 5.0 and this might be the reason behind the slight delay. Let’s face it, Lollipop is the biggest Android refresh in years and it’s a big selling point.
There is no doubt that Airmont, the 14nm follow up architecture for mobile Atom has been delayed. In September 2013, Intel’s Hermann Eul, VP GM mobile communication group announced that Airmont 14nm Atom is coming in 2014. Well it didn’t show up and it won’t as 2014 is coming to an end.
The 14nm Airmont based Cherry Trail product has been pushed to 2015, so if all goes well Dell might be launching an updated Venue tablet later in 2015, powered with a new and improved Atom processor.
The service, which is designed to do what Drive does for Google and what Office 365 does for software rental, has gained mobile apps for the first time as Zocalo appears on the Google Play store and Apple App Store.
Amazon also mentions availability on the Kindle store, but we’re not sure about that bit. We assume it means the Amazon App Store for Fire tablet users.
The AWS blog says that the apps allow the user to “work offline, make comments, and securely share documents while you are in the air or on the go.”
A second announcement brings Zocalo into line with the AWS S3 storage on which it is built. Users will receive an update to their Zocalo sync client which will enable file capacities up to 5TB, the same maximum allowed by the Amazon S3 cloud.
To facilitate this, multi-part uploads will allow users to carry on an upload from where it was after a break, deliberate or accidental.
Zocalo was launched in July as the fight for enterprise storage productivity hots up. The service can be trialled for 30 days free of charge, offering 200GB each for up to 50 users.
Rival services from companies including the aforementioned Microsoft and Google, as well as Dropbox and Box, coupled with aggressive price cuts across the sector, have led to burgeoning wars for the hearts and minds of IT managers as Microsoft’s Office monopoly begins to wane.
Amazon has become the latest vendor to commission a customized Xeon chip from Intel to meet its exact compute requirements, in this case powering new high-performance C4 virtual machine instances on the AWS cloud computing platform.
Amazon announced at the firm’s AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas that the latest generation of compute-optimized Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) virtual machine instances offer up to 36 virtual CPUs and 60GB of memory.
“These instances are designed to deliver the highest level of processor performance on EC2. If you’ve got the workload, we’ve got the instance,” said AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr, detailing the new instances on the AWS blog.
The instances are powered by a custom version of Intel’s latest Xeon E5 v3 processor family, identified by Amazon as the Xeon E5-2666 v3. This runs at a base speed of 2.9GHz, and can achieve clock speeds as high as 3.5GHz with Turbo boost.
Amazon is not the first company to commission a customized processor from Intel. Earlier this year, Oracle unveiled new Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8 systems with a custom Xeon E7 v2 processor.
The processor is capable of dynamically switching core count, clock frequency and power consumption without the need for a system level reboot, in order to deliver an elastic compute capability that adapts to the demands of the workload.
However, these are just the vendors that have gone public; Intel claims it is delivering over 35 customized versions of the Intel Xeon E5 v3 processor family to various customers.
This is an area the chipmaker seems to be keen on pursuing, especially with companies like cloud service providers that purchase a great many chips.
“We’re really excited to be working with Amazon. Amazon’s platform is the landing zone for a lot of new software development and it’s really exciting to partner with those guys on a SKU that really meets their needs,” said Dave Hill, senior systems engineer in Intel’s Datacenter Group.
Also at AWS re:Invent, Amazon announced the Amazon EC2 Container Service, adding support for Docker on its cloud platform.
Currently available as a preview, the EC2 Container Service is designed to make it easy to run and manage distributed applications on AWS using containers.
Customers will be able to start, stop and manage thousands of containers in seconds, scaling from one container to hundreds of thousands across a managed cluster of Amazon EC2 instances, the firm said.
Dell customers who are exploring Windows 10 believe that the new OS takes care of some issues that Windows 8 failed to address, said Neil Hand, vice president of tablets at Dell.
The biggest advantage of Windows 10 is the ability to run programs across devices, be they mobile or desktop, Hand said.
“The ability to create applications that are super-scalable from phone to tablet to PC is the big step in a lot of ways,” Hand said.
Dell is in the early stages of testing Windows 10 with its customers and Hand said it’s premature to say whether the OS will succeed. Dell runs Windows on most of its PCs and will likely adopt Windows 10 for its tablets and PCs next year.
Microsoft previously offered different versions of the Windows OS for mobile phones, desktops and servers, but Windows 10 is designed to unite all those editions.
Microsoft also offers separate versions of Windows 8 for its Surface 2 and Surface Pro tablets, which run on different instruction sets. Programs written for Surface 2, which is based on ARM, won’t run on Surface Pro 3, which is based on an Intel chipset. Windows 10 will eliminate any such incompatibilities and also make it easier to write and export programs from one device to another.
“Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices — from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens — some have 80 inch screens — and some don’t have screens at all,” said Terry Myerson , executive vice president at Microsoft’s Operating Systems group, in a blog entry.
Windows 8, with its all-new tablet user interface, presented a radical transition at the time of its release two years ago and enterprise customers preferred to go with the older Windows 7. Business users, who are Dell’s target base, have mostly skipped Windows 8 and are still upgrading PCs to Windows 7.
However, Microsoft had the right idea in mind with Windows 8, which was to prepare customers for mobile, Hand said.