Facebook is closing around 200 of its 500 Oculus Rift virtual-reality demo stations at Best Buy locations across the US.
Apparently the move is because of poor “store performance” which is spin for the fact that few people are even trying the technology out.
Business Insider claims it is common for them to go days without giving a single demonstration.
Oculus spokeswoman Andrea Schubert insisted that the closings were due to “seasonal changes”.
“You can still request Rift demos at hundreds of Best Buy stores in the US and Canada. We still believe the best way to learn about VR is through a live demo,” she enthused.
Best Buy said stores that no longer offer demos will continue to sell the Oculus Rift headset and accompanying touch controllers. But it apparently interests in the headsets dried up after Christmas.
Another worker from California said that Oculus software bugs would often render his demo headsets unusable.
Announced at the World Economic Forum, the VR For Impact initiative will shared the same objectives as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 platform, Upload VR reports. These goals include no poverty, zero hunger, quality education and gender equality.
Vive is looking for experiences that will “improve awareness, education and lead to action”, whether that’s through virtual reality games, films or other cotnent.
“HTC Vive will fund the best ideas using Virtual Reality that truly drive awareness and positive change in our world,” said Cher Wang, the company’s CEO and chairwoman. “We encourage all players in the VR eco-system to join as only together can we drive real impact.”
Vive is now calling for ideas that could become part of VR For Impact, with plans to announce the chosen projects on April 22nd, Earth Day. Developers can apply at www.vr4impact.com. The initiative has already gained the interest of other organisations, such as the World Food Progam.
The power of virtual reality to immerse users in someone else’s story or situation is a major driver for the technology, and exploring the medium’s abilities to convey some of the world’s biggest crises to more people can only be a good thing.
While PC shipments are set to decline in 2016, beancounters at IDC think that the drop will be better than expected and there will be an improvement in 2017.
IDC expects PC vendors to ship a total of 258.2 million units this year, a figure which would be 6.4 percent lower than last year. It had been expected that there would be a 7.2 percent fall. Now IDC is saying that growth will still be negative in 2017, but shipments are expected to decrease by just 2.6 percent compared to this year.
Commercial shipments of notebooks will grow this year, while desktops should stay flat in terms of growth. The pressure from mobile devices is said to decrease as the markets mature. The tablet market in particular is not as big of a concern or threat to PCs as it is declining too.
IDC Worldwide Tracker Forecasting and PC research vice president Loren Loverde said that the PC market continues to perform close to expectations.
“Some volatility in emerging regions is being offset by incremental gains in larger mature markets while the interaction with tablets and phones is stabilizing. We continue to see steady progression toward smaller desktops and notebooks as replacement buying helps stabilize overall shipments in the coming years”.
Looking towards 2020, IDC claims that the market will still face a decline in terms of unit shipments, but only a small one at 0.8 percent. In 2020, PC vendors are expected to move 250 million units.
IDC Devices and Displays senior research analyst Neha Mahajan said:
“Despite continued weakness in the consumer segment, the US PC market is showing some signs of stability in the near future with some sources of optimism for the long haul. Backed by early Windows 10 transitions that are expected to boost commercial PC shipments in the next couple of years, and steady growth of PCaaS (PC as a Service) which should help shorten refresh cycles of commercial systems in the long-term, the overall US PC market sentiment certainly seems to be improving”.
I had fun playing on Microsoft HoloLens this week.
That’s significant because the last time I went hands-on with the intriguing, expensive AR technology (at E3 2015) I was left palpably disappointed.
Part of that was because Kanye West had cut into the line and forced my group to wait an extra 30 minutes to play on it, but it was also because the restricted field of view meant that the ‘Halo experience’ (which is what we played) was underwhelming and only really worked well if we didn’t move our heads and stood exactly where we were meant to.
I could comfortably imagine how this device might work in the education, retail and manufacturing spaces, but it didn’t seem remotely suitable for video games. After playing HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, a piece of gaming technology where the illusion was ruined if I stood too close to an object just wasn’t good enough.
Microsoft seems to understands that. HoloLens, as it stands, is not a consumer product, it is not even a gaming device – not really. The demos we were shown at the firm’s Lift London studio last week mostly involved retail projects – the ability to dismantle a watch you might be buying, or to change the colours on a car you are interested in, or to make virtual changes to your kitchen. There were education uses, too, such as a nice demo where you can explore and analyse the human body. NASA has even invested in the tech so its engineers can wander around a virtual Mars Rover.
“It causes me great consternation every time HoloLens is shown at a gaming conference, because all journalists want to talk about is games.”
Leila Martine, Microsoft
It is here, in the commercial space, where HoloLens is most promising. We should all try to forget that Minecraft demo that over-excited the games business on stage at E3 2015.
“If you are in the gaming industry, it is things like E3 where you will have been exposed to this,” says Leila Martine, director of new device experiences in the UK.
“I am probably saying something out of turn, because I’m not sitting in the room when they’re making these decisions in Redmond, but I do know that it causes me great consternation every time they go to a gaming conference and they show HoloLens. Because when that happens, all that journalists want to talk about is games. I have Case Western University, which is one of these most phenomenal case studies [with its education product that teaches anatomy]. But they’ll get like 300,000 YouTube views, which is still great for a B2B scenario. But Minecraft… are you kidding me? Those views are in the bazillions.”
Martine says that games is ‘definitely a piece of the long-term vision’ for HoloLens, it’s just not there yet. However, Microsoft remains interested in attracting games studios. HoloLens utilises Unity technology, which means that video games developers are uniquely placed to build HoloLens applications – even if it’s not games that they end up making.
“We are definitely seeing games developers in demand,” says Martine. “Part of that is because Unity is a core way to be able to build on this right now. With their heritage in gaming and with the demand coming from these new places, it is a pretty hot place for these games developers to be. Then we are seeing who has the appetite to move outside of gaming and capture opportunities that are coming from, quite frankly, places they haven’t worked with before. It could be a power plant looking to visualise their plant, or training simulations for pilots or engineers. With the Unity capability, these opportunities are there for game makers.”
The HoloLens Minecraft demo at E3 2015 was viewed by millions
One of the key stumbling blocks for HoloLens right now, particularly for smaller independent games teams, is its price. HoloLens dev kits will set you back $3,000.
“Unlike some of the other ones that are out there on the market, you don’t need a high performance computer to go with it,” defends Martine. “Everything you need is right on that device. And that device is really unique in terms of it capabilities, and the team has done a tremendous amount to bring it to market in a very short amount of time.
“As we think about all the things that it can enable, there are a lot of companies right now that are going: “We need to be in this space”. This is not the final form factor, this is not a consumer device, there is much more on the roadmap, but right now, the focus is making sure that we’re getting it into the hands of people and doing stuff that isn’t trivial, but actually matters to companies… and we are seeing really good progress in that area.
“But this is not the end.”
Because we asked nicely, and promised not to tell people that HoloLens is anywhere close to being a consumer games product, Microsoft did let us try out one of its games it had experimented with.
The title in question was RoboRaid, which is a mixed reality demo where aliens drill through the walls in you room, and you have to shoot small flying robot invaders out of the sky. Over three levels, you’ll battle bosses, shoot around shields and dodge fireballs. It’s hardly a game that would inspire consumers to buy HoloLens, and it isn’t particularly dissimilar to the sort of experiences that you can find in VR. but it was definitely entertaining, it worked well within the device’s limitations and proved that maybe, one day, HoloLens might succeed in the world of video games.
Alienware has updated its 13-inch Alienware 13 notebook by equipping it with Nvidia’s Geforce GTX 1060 with 6GB of VRAM, making it both VR Ready and giving it a significant boost in graphics performance.
Starting at US $1,199.99, the Alienware 13 is built around a 13.3-inch screen and at this price, you’ll get 13.3-inch HD 1366×768 TN screen, Intel’s Skylake quad-core Core i5-6300HQ CPU clocked at 2.3GHz base and 3.2GHz Turbo, 8GB of RAM, 180GB M.2 SATA 6GBps SSD storage and Alienware HD+IR presence detection camera, which is a standard on all models, same as the GTX 1060 with 6GB of GDDR5 memory.
As was the case with most Alienware notebooks, the new Alienware 13 can be upgraded and taken over US $2,099.99 quite easily. The upgrade options include 13.3-inch FHD 1920×1080 IPS screen or high-end 13.3-inch QHD 2560×1440 OLED anti-glare touchscreen, Intel Core i7-6700HQ quad-core CPU, up to 32GB of DDR4 memory and up to 2TB of PCIe SSD storage – 1TB for Boot and 1TB for storage.
Compared to its predecessor, the new Alienware 13 is both thinner (22mm) and lighter (2.6kg) and comes with the new Alienware TactX keyboard with 4-zone multi-color RGB AlienFX lighting. It also comes with a couple of USB 3.0 Type-A and Type-C ports as well as both Thunderbolt 3 port (USB Type-C) and dedicated Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port.
The new Alienware 13 is certainly an ultimate small gaming notebook that can be further beefed up with Alienware’s external graphics box, the Graphics Amplifier, but as always, such things come with a hefty price tag.
The Alienware 13 is already available and you can check out basic offers as well as customize your own over at Alienware.com.
The assorted throngs at Valve’s Steam Dev Days developer conference had a chance to play with the new gear although the press were banned from taking photos. Apparently some members of the great unwashed who were not showing their press cards managed to tweet pictures of them playing with the new controllers before HTC bouncers could stop them.
The controller is smaller than the current Vive controller and it strap to the player’s palm, so users can open their hands without dropping them. HTC said there are 21 sensors on the current prototype but was managing to keep all other technical details under wraps.
Personally we are not impressed with this line of technology. Strapping on armour to play a game, or do anything important is not really the way VR should work. These remind us a little too much like handcuffs, and while that is great for watching sometime of VR porn, it will not be useful for the rest of the time.
It would be much better if they did everything with external cameras which track your every movement and limit the number of censors you have to wear. Making the user look like an idiot will always be a big handicap for VR and this sort of thing does not help.
Oculus VR has introduced new Oculus Earphones which it claims will give “next-level audio integration,”
The outfit added that they will be a “new sound solution to satisfy even the most serious audiophiles.” We have grave doubts about that from the outset.
Any audiophile will dismiss earbuds in any shape simply on principle, particularly when they are priced at $49. Earbuds which lost lesst han $50 will be the audiophone equivalent of listening to sound between two bean tins attached with a piece of string. The fact that these are being touted as an improvement on the Company’s Rift VR headset there is now worries me – it means that the sound is currently as a Justin Beiber concert but you can get an upgrade so that it sounds like a Céline Dion concert held in a rubbish skip.
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, who announced them at the third-annual Oculus Connect developers conference in San Jose, CA.
Oculus Earphones will be available to buy from 6 December, though you can pre-order them starting 10 October on Oculus.com. There’s no word yet on pricing or availability outside of the US.
Software king of the world Microsoft will not support the upcoming Intel Cannonlake and Coffeelake CPU architectures in its current Long-Term Servicing Branch version of Windows 10.
Vole has said that users who want support for the next generation Intel CPUs will require a regular ‘current branch’ Windows 10 version.
The next update of Windows 10 LTSB will appear in 2019, but before that happens Intel will release two new CPU architectures.
The LTSB version of Windows 10 is designed for long term support of hardware and software. It receives security updates but doesn’t get any new features, including no support for newer hardware.
Michael Niehaus, Director of Product Marketing at Microsoft, told Heise.de the company is aware of the problem but, “officially every new CPU and chipset requires a new version of Windows, which is the same for LTSB versions.”
“In the past you only needed new drivers to support new CPUs and chipsets, however nowadays chipsets need specific setting in the operating system to work with reasonable performance and battery life.”
This means that users of the current LTSB build 1607 can’t use any of the new CPUs and Intel Cannonlake and Coffeelake architectures will only be supported by ‘current branch’ Windows 10 versions, such as installed on most computers.
Normally new LTSB versions are released every two or three years, however Microsoft also released an update for together with the Anniversary Update. The first LTSB version saw the light in 2015 together with the RTM version of Windows 10.
The company reset the Windows 10 uptake status on the same day it kicked off the 2016 edition of its Ignite conference in Atlanta.
Microsoft’s last Windows 10 update was at the end of June, a month before it halted the free upgrade for consumers and small businesses running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Then Microsoft pegged the number of “active devices” — a metric of those machines that ran the OS at least once in the past four weeks — at 350 million.
The increase of 50 million over more than 12 weeks — or about 17 million every four weeks — was lower than during the free upgrade offer period. For example, in the eight weeks from May 5 to June 29, Microsoft claimed 50 million active users were added to the Windows 10 rolls, or 25 million every four weeks.
Other measurements of Windows 10 have agreed with Microsoft’s assessment: Windows 10’s growth has slowed in the last month and more.
But Microsoft’s claim was in the same ballpark as Computerworld‘s latest calculation, which was based on Net Applications’ measurement of Windows 10’s user share and Microsoft’s oft-cited contention that 1.5 billion machines run Windows. At the end of last month, Computerworld‘s estimate of in-place Windows 10 stood at 380 million systems.
Microsoft has pledged to continue updating its Windows 10 “devices served” number, even though it back-pedaled two months ago from its previous 1-billion-by-mid-2018 goal. The timetable, the company said then, was unrealistic after it bailed out of virtually all the smartphone hardware market.
AMD has been on the blower to point out that figures from Mercury and Jon Peddie Research, show that it has been growing market share for the fourth consecutive quarter.
A spokesman for AMD said that for the last nine months, AMD has got its mojo back through its Radeon Technologies Group. During that time, the company has made significant investments in hardware, marketing, and software for the graphics line-up leading to four straight quarters of market share growth.
Mercury Research said that AMD gained three points of unit volume share in Q1 2016. The Mercury Research and Jon Peddie Research market share data for Q2 2016 shows AMD seeing its fourth consecutive quarter of desktop discrete GPU share growth, driven by AMD’s strongest quarter of channel GPU sales since 2015 and the commencement of shipping of the next generation Polaris GPUs.
In total discrete graphics, AMD gained 4.8 share points to 34.2 per cent of market by unit volume (based on Mercury Research). In desktop discrete sector, AMD saw a 7.3 share point increase, rising to 29.9 per cent market share.
“This is another positive testament AMD’s strategy is working as the company drives forward towards “Vega” offerings for the enthusiast GPU market, which AMD expects to bring to market in 2017 to complement our current generation of “Polaris” products,” the spokesperson said.
“AMD believes it is well positioned to continue this trend in market share gains with the recently launched Radeon RX 480, 470, and 460 GPUs that bring leadership performance and features to the nearly 85 per cent of enthusiasts who buy a GPU priced between $100 and $300,” she added.
I can’t remember how many times in the last 20 years that I’ve written up rumors that AMD is ripe for a takeover but now it seems it’s time to do it one more time.
This time the speculation is from the guys at Seeking Alpha – in a note to clients it suggests that it’s the magic X86 licences that could be the lure for a company with the financial muscle to make it go somewhere.
There aren’t that many of those around but the rumor mill mentions Qualcomm, Broadcom and Oracle as possible candidates.
There is, of course, the slight matter that Intel would no doubt spin up a legal challenge because it knows where it is with the AMD X86 licenses but might find itself losing that just like it lost it after AMD’s sale of its factories to GloFo.
Even more spectacularly, Seeking Alpha thinks that Intel could take over AMD but we can’t see that one being a goer.
Seeking Alpha doesn’t stop at Qualcomm, Broadcom, Oracle and Intel. It claims Microsoft, Samsung and even TSMC.
Heck, is it really going to happen? We’ve heard the rumors so many times before that perhaps it’s just that time of year.
Software King of the World Microsoft has apparently been seen in public with the PC supremo Lenovo and insiders have been told that they want something more serious.
The pair have announced that they are deepening strategic ties but have not hinted about financial details. Instead Lenovo will load Microsoft’s productivity apps, including Microsoft Office, OneDrive and Skype on select Lenovo devices that use the Android operating system.
Microsoft did not say how much gear would be involved in the deal. Lenovo expects to ship millions of these Android-based devices worldwide over the next several years.
The deal is the latest in a string of similar deals by Microsoft with more than 70 Android device makers, including Samsung, HTC, Asus, Acer and Xiaomi.
The expanded collaboration between Microsoft and Lenovo also includes a patent cross-licensing agreement that covers Lenovo and Motorola devices.
Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, it has entered into more than 1,200 licensing agreements.
Nick Parker, corporate vice-president OEM division, Microsoft said that Vole was thrilled that its productivity apps will be pre-installed on Lenovo’s premium devices and was talking about marrage.
“The marriage of Microsoft’s apps and Lenovo’s Android-based devices will enable customers worldwide to be more productive and connected and achieve even more,” he said.
Some Qualcomm chips have four serious holes which allow potential attackers to “trigger privilege escalations for the purpose of gaining root access to a device.”
According to security outfit Checkpoint, Quadrooter flaws are particularly nasty, if only because they appear in a large number of phones.
Most of the major recent Android devices are expected to be affected by the flaw, including the BlackBerry Priv, Blackphone 1 and Blackphone 2, Google Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, and Nexus 6P, HTC One, HTC M9, and HTC 10, LG G4, LG G5, and LG V10, Moto X, OnePlus One, OnePlus 2, and OnePlus 3, Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung S7 Edge and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra.
Three of the four holes have already been patched, with a solution for the fourth is coming but given the fact that handset manufacturers work at glacial speed applying them the world could see a lot of these being exploited.
Google has pushed patches to its phones, but the others might release theirs when hell freezes over. One of the weak points about Andorid is that phone manufacturers or a Mobile Carriers think developing a new versions of software and patches is expensive, some of the might chose not to do it. But that is the whole fragmentation thing and the reason why you cant get an decent Android update for your phone.
Checkpoint revealed its findings over the weekend at the Defcon security conference in Las Vegas. It said that the “vulnerabilities can give attackers complete control of devices and unrestricted access to sensitive personal and enterprise data on them.”
Last week Qualcomm’s CEO confirmed to its investors that the company has taped out its 10nm system on a chip (SoC).
This news kind of went unnoticed and we have decided to revisit this. A few months back Fudzilla was talking with a few industry sources about 10nm and it was the general impression that Apple and Qualcomm would get to 10nm quite soon.
When David Wong from Wells Fargo asked Steve Mollenkopf when we could expect a tape out of 10 nanometers and samples, Steve answered that it had already happened.
We expect to see the successor of Snapdragon 820 being introduced this year and shipping in phones in late Q1 early Q2 2017. This has been the course of things for a while at Qualcomm. The timing also mateches a normal phone refresh lifecycle as most companies – including Samsung – will launch their next generation phones at the Mobile World Congress that takes place in Barcelona on February 27 2017.
This might be the 10nm that Mollenkopf mentioned and confirmed that it has been sampled to customers. We can call it Snapdragon 830 but there are no real guarantees that this will be the final branding. Steve also said that Qualcomm will continue its multi-sourcing strategy for 10nm and beyond.
Multi-sourcing is always a good strategy, as having more than one supplier is definitely better and safer. After 10nm, Samsung, TSMC, GlobalFoundries and Intel will use 7nm and then 5nm.
From what we’ve heard, we will be stuck at 10nm for a while probably through 2017 while we might see some of the first 7nm products in 2018. After 7nm comes 5nm and then it becomes very interesting as the semiconductor manufacturing industry can’t work out how to get smaller than that. It’s the end of Moore’s Law.
So the next generation phones that we expect in early 2017, powered by the next generation 10nm Snapdragon will definitely get faster on a CPU, DSP and GPU side, probably getting more processing power and performance at the same time. This has been the case since the introduction of the smartphone, and won’t change anytime soon.
Qualcomm will also have a server ARM based product in 10nm, as we exclusively reported too.
Microsoft last week stepped up its campaign to stop software pirates when it filed the fifth lawsuit in as many months accusing unidentified individuals with illegally activating more than 1,000 copies of Windows, including the newest Windows 10, and Office.
The suit was filed in a Seattle court last Thursday. It was almost identical to others submitted since February, when Microsoft started a string of cases targeting numerous “John Does.”
“Microsoft’s cyberforensics have identified over one thousand activations of Microsoft software originating from IP address 18.104.22.168 (‘the IP Address’), which is presently assigned to Cable One, Inc.,” Microsoft’s complaint read.
Microsoft did not identify the culprits, but tagged them as “John Doe” 1 through 10.
“Defendants have activated and attempted to active [sic] copies of Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Office 2013, Office 2010, and Windows Server 2008,” Microsoft charged.
As with the previous four John Doe cases of 2016, Microsoft asserted that it tracked the allegedly illegal activations to the IP address, and that the number and pattern of those activations “make it more likely than not” that they were using stolen product keys or abusing legitimate keys.
Microsoft has been given permission in two of the 2016 cases — both filed in early June — to serve subpoenas to internet service providers (ISPs) Comcast and EarthLink. Those subpoenas have demanded that the ISPs identify the alleged software pirates who have been assigned the IP addresses Microsoft had fingered.