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Microsoft Doubling Price For Those Who Still Want XP Support

February 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

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.

 

 

 

Will AMD Release Kaveri Today?

February 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has confirmed that it is releasing new AMD A8-7650K APUs today.

The chips are based on the “Kaveri” design and are designed for overclockers on a budget.

The APU has four “Steamroller” cores (two dual-core modules) operating at 3.30GHz/3.90GHz clock-rate, 4MB L2 cache, AMD Radeon R7 graphics engine with 384 stream processors, a dual-channel DDR3 memory controller, unlocked multiplier and up to 95W thermal design power. The chip will be drop-in compatible with FM2+ mainboards.

AMD will officially start to sell its A8-7650K on the 20 February, 2015. In Japan, where prices are traditionally a bit higher than in the rest of the world, the APU will cost $117.

The new chip is slower than the company’s A8-7700K, which AMD discontinued late last year. That said, it is not completely clear why the company decided to replace an APU with a product with lower performance and did not just drop the price of the A8-7700K.

Later this year AMD plans to release a family of A-series APUs known as “Kaveri Refresh” and “Godovari” which will have higher clock-rates.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Intel Give A Boost To Its Exascale Computing Effort

February 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s exascale computing efforts have received a boost with the extension of the company’s research collaboration with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.

Begun in 2011 and now extended to September 2017, the Intel-BSC work is currently looking at scalability issues with parallel applications.

Karl Solchenbach, Intel’s director, Innovation Pathfinding Architecture Group in Europe said it was important to improve scalability of threaded applications on many core nodes through the OmpSs programming model.

The collaboration has developed a methodology to measure these effects separately. “An automatic tool not only provides a detailed analysis of performance inhibitors, but also it allows a projection to a higher number of nodes,” says Solchenbach.

BSC has been making HPC tools and given Intel an instrumentation package (Extrae), a performance data browser (Paraver), and a simulator (Dimemas) to play with.

Charlie Wuischpard, VP & GM High Performance Computing at Intel said that the Barcelona work is pretty big scale for Chipzilla.

“A major part of what we’re proposing going forward is work on many core architecture. Our roadmap is to continue to add more and more cores all the time.”

“Our Knights Landing product that is coming out will have 60 or more cores running at a slightly slower clock speed but give you vastly better performance,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Wooing Windows Users With Free iWork For iCloud

February 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple has opened the beta of its iWork for iCloud application suite to Windows-only users, letting people without an iOS device or OS X-powered Mac create an Apple ID needed to access the Web apps.

Apple in mid-2013 launched iWork for iCloud — the browser-based versions of its productivity apps Pages, Numbers and Keynote — requiring an Apple ID for access. Apple IDs are normally associated with an Apple-made device, such as an iPhone, iPad or Mac. Consumers who owned a Windows PC but also, say, an iPhone, had an Apple ID and thus were able to access iWork for iCloud.

This latest change gives anyone, including those without a stake in the Apple ecosystem, access to iWork for iCloud.

iWork for iCloud, which has been in beta for more than a year and a half, is Apple’s productivity answer to Microsoft’s Office. Starting in the fall of 2013, Apple began giving away the iOS and OS X iWork apps to new buyers of iPhones, iPads and Macs; iWork for iCloud is the browser-based side of those apps.

The availability of iWork for iCloud will tempt few if any Windows-only consumers: They have free access to Microsoft’s own Web apps, dubbed Office Online.

 

 

RapidShare Is Closing It’s Doors

February 12, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

File-sharing site RapidShare is closing its doors after a many a year of offering web storage, and is advising customers to clean up and get out.

RapidShare has weathered the storms of the copyright controversies and has even been able to withstand a number of legal approaches.

The firm has not given a reason for its decision, and has not given its users much time to react.

A note on the RapidShare homepage thanks customers for their years of support, and says that there are two dates to be aware of, one at the end of this month and one at the end of March, and that people ought to be done with its services by then.

“Dear RapidShare customers. Kindly note that RapidShare will stop the active service on March 31st 2015. Extensions of Standard Plus and Premium accounts will be possible until February 28th 2015,” the note says.

“We strongly recommend all customers to secure their data. After March 31st 2015 all accounts will no longer be accessible and will be deleted automatically.”

RapidShare has remained up while others have fallen, Megaupload for example, but has received the same kind of attention.

The company has fiercely denied allegations that it is a source of pirate booty, and defended a reputation that MarkMonitor was trying to dirty back in 2011.

“RapidShare is a legitimate company that offers its customers fast, simple and secure storage and management of large amounts of data via our servers.”

But it seems that RapidShare has had enough of the market, possibly because the paid-for cloud storage market is now mostly dominated by the free options. These include Mega, which came out of the ashes of Megaupload.

Courtesy-TheInq

Are Tablets On The Way Out?

February 4, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Technology

The keyboardless netbooks once touted by the Tame Apple Press as game changing, continue their death spiral of doom as the fad dries up.

Worldwide tablet shipments plunged 12 percent year-over-year to 67 million units in Q4 2014, which research firm Canalys says marks its first ever decline after several quarters of slowing demand.
The reason is that Phabets, which Steve Jobs said would not work, have taken over making Tablets, which never found their killer app, out of date.

Last quarter was the fourth in a row that Apple’s year-on-year tablet shipments have declined since the temporary boost it received in Q4 2013 when the iPad Air was first launched. In Q4 2014, Apple’s tablet shipments fell by 18 percent, while rival Samsung’s dropped by 24 percent.

But despite smaller shipments, Apple’s ecosystem helped it gain 30 percent of the market in Q4 2014, said Canalys. Samsung, on the other hand, did not do as well because its shipments were impacted by inventory issues.

While Apple and Samsung both dealt with dropping shipments, other manufacturers fared better thanks to seasonal sales. Amazon shipped 4 million units, giving it a 6 percent market share, while Lenovo shipped 3.7 million units, marking its best-performing quarter ever, and giving it a 5.5 percent market share.

Overall, however, the fall in demand is impacting both high-end and cheaper tablets. In Q4 2014, 7-inch Android tablets made up half of all Android tablet shipments, but that is a significant drop from the share of 66 percent they took just three months earlier in Q1 2014.

Canalys analyst Rushabh Doshi attributes the decline to the increasing popularity of phablets, as well as price competition which has resulted in lower margins.

Canalys’ findings come a few days after another report from Strategy Analytics that also showed slowing growth in tablet shipments. The research firm found that total tablet shipments in Q4 2014 reached 78.3 million units, up just one percent year-over-year. Apple’s quarterly shipments decreased 18 percent year-over-year to 21.4 million as customers decided to purchase the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus instead of an iPad Mini.

Of course none of the Tame Apple Press are apologising for advertising a product that no one really needed or wanted. Nor is anyone saying that Steve Jobs made a mistake claiming that Tablets would change the world. The only real effect they had was to kill off the netbook.  Apple fanboys will off course say that Apple made lots of money off tablets so it was a success.  It is the only time a consumer claims a company is successful because it sold them something useless.

Courtesy-Fud

Will AMD’s Kaveri Processor Launch As Godavari?

February 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The new desktop refresh according to SweClockers is going to end up with A10-8850K branding. The new processor will get a 100MHz faster turbo clock and is based on the same 28nm manufacturing process. The base CPU clock for the A10-8850K is 3.7GHz, the same speed as the AMD A10-7850K, but the Turbo clock will jump to 4.1GHz with the new one. The A10-7850K has 4.0 GHz top turbo clock and 720 MHz GPU speed for its GCN Sea Island GPU.

The new A10-8850K will get the GPU to 856MHz. The memory speed supported stays at 2133MHz and the socket of choice remains FM2+. The TDP stays at 95W.

As you can see this is a small evolution and you can expect some cool parts for AMD on the desktop side in the latter part of 2016, some eighteen months from now, in 14nm.

Courtesy-Fud

Dell Shows Off A Ubuntu Based Mobile Workstation

February 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Dell has unleashed a mobile workstation aimed at developers, designed to be the “beast” to the already available XPS 13 ultra-mobile system “beauty”.

The Precision M3800 was previously available only with Microsoft Windows 8.1, but the new Precision M3800 Developer Edition will ship with the Ubuntu 14.04 Long Term Support Linux distro.

The developer version was unveiled by Barton George, Dell’s director of developer programmes, who talked about the company’s “beauty and the beast” strategy for Linux-powered PCs to produce an ultra-portable laptop as the XPS 13 and then a more capable machine.

Work on making the Precision M3800 a more Ubuntu-friendly machine started soon after the XPS 13 release thanks to developer Jared Dominguez, who improved the code in his personal time and put together instructions on how to run the OS on the machine.

After listening to “tremendously positive” feedback, George said that Dell has now officially added a Ubuntu 14.04 LTS customisation option to the company’s official online shop.

The Precision M3800 Developer Edition weighs 1.88kg, and is less than 18mm thick. It runs a 4th-generation Intel Core i7 quad-core CPU coupled with an Nvidia Quadro K1100M GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 4K Ultra HD screen option.

Dominguez explained that there are still problems with Ubuntu support for the Precision M3800 hardware as the distro shipped with the first M3800 units doesn’t include support for Thunderbolt ports.

The updated kernel of Ubuntu 14.04.2 will add “some” Thunderbolt support, however, thanks to the hardware-enablement stack in Ubuntu, the developer said.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Microsoft Attempting To Attract More Mobile Users With Freebies

January 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft Corp made its popular Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications available,free of charge, on Android tablets, further signifying its drive to attract as many mobile customers as possible using its software.

It also released an app for its popular Outlook email program to run on Apple Inc’s iPhone and iPad, hoping to attract the millions of users familiar with Outlook from their work desktops.

The new releases are the latest gambits in Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella’s attempt to wrest back the initiative in the battle for mobile users, where Microsoft has fallen behind Apple and Google Inc.

Nadella broke with decades of tradition last March by releasing a free, touch-friendly version of Office for Apple’s iPad, before such software was even available for Microsoft’s Windows devices.

By giving away its industry-standard Office apps on Apple’s popular iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, Microsoft is looking to build up a base of users which it can later persuade to sign up for Office 365, the full, Internet-based version of Office starting at $7 a month for personal users.

Microsoft has been offering test versions of the Office apps on Android for almost three months, but Thursday marks the first day they are available as finished products from the online Google Play app store.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint, the key elements of Microsoft’s top-selling Office suite of applications, have been a hit on Apple’s mobile devices, with 80 million downloads since last March, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft plans to release new, touch-friendly versions of its Office apps for Windows devices later this year when it releases the Windows 10 operating system.

The new Outlook app, based on a popular app made by Acompli, which Microsoft bought in December, will allow iPhone and iPad users much easier ways of linking email to calendars and working with file attachments. Microsoft is also releasing a test version of the Outlook app for Android users.

 

 

New Internet Browser Vivaldi Launches

January 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Well known software developer Jon von Tetzchner has launched a new internet browser, offering an interface for high-volume users who “have problems fitting all their open tabs on one screen”, he said in a Reuters interview.

Known as Vivaldi and available on desktop computers from Tuesday, the browser’s initial launch covers the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

“A mobile phone and a tablet version are in the pipeline. We are working on it, but they won’t be out until they’re ready,” said von Tetzchner, who owns 90 percent of the company’s shares and has paid for the development.

“At some point it will need to fund it self and to reach that point we will need a few million users. I have no doubt that we will reach that number quite easily,” he added.

With features like personalized notes, bookmarks with small screen shots and speed dials with options for multiple groups and folders, Vivaldi hopes to attract high-volume users.

Despite tough competition from the likes of Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Corp’s Firefox and Opera Software’s browser, von Tetzchner believes there is still room for more.

“We welcome everyone, but this is first of all a browser for people who expect and need more,” he said. “There is without a doubt a demand for this type of browser even though I don’t expect it to take more than a few percent of the total market.”

Vivaldi has signed a few affiliation deals ahead of the launch and is in talks with several potential partners for functionalities like search and online shopping.

“We have made several deals and have started a dialogue with others. But because some of these are potential competitors, we’ve wanted to go live with the browser first.”

Named after the 18th century composer Antonio Vivaldi, the name carries an inescapable reference to von Tetzchner’s previous role as co-founder and long-time head of browser and mobile phone technology firm Opera Software.

 

Hacker Forum Working To On Evolving Malware

January 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Notorious malware kjw0rm and Sir DoOoM have been uncovered in a hacker forum as evolved versions, developed with advanced functionality, according to researchers at Trend Micro.

A threat response engineer at Trend Micro, Michael Marcos, said that he uncovered the malware while examining the Arabic language on a bogus “computer enthusiast site”, called dev-point.com forum.

“One of the notable topics in the forum talked about new malware ‘kjw0rm’ and a worm named ‘Sir DoOom’, which both came about after the release of the Njw0rm malware source code in the same forum,” he explained.

The Njw0rm’s source code was leaked in May 2013. The evolved kjw0rm is currently available in two versions, both of which have advanced infiltration and infection mechanisms.

The first Kjw0rm V2.0 appeared initially on the forum in January 2014, while the updated 0.5X version and new Sir DoOoM malware followed in December.

The V2.0 malware is the most basic of the three and reportedly hides itself in bogus files within infected systems.

“The propagation method of this malware targets all folders in the root directory of the removable drive,” read the advisory.

V0.5X follows a developed version of the same tactic, and Sir DoOoM adds an anti-virtual machine capability.

“[V0.5X] obfuscated some portions of the malware code. The malware author utilises an obfuscator tool that converts characters to hex values, adds filler functions, and performs computations that make analysis more difficult and time-consuming,” explained Marcos.

“[Sir DoOoM] also has an anti-virtual machine routine. It first searches for a list of the installed programs in the affected computer.

“If this variant found itself in a computer where a virtual machine program is installed, it will uninstall and terminate itself from the affected system. This prevents analysts testing to determine malware behaviour.”

Trend Micro senior engineer Bharat Mistry told V3 that the variants are dangerous as they add several advanced functions.

“Previous versions were there mainly for password stealing from browsers. As the malware has evolved, after the initial infections it now has the ability to download and execute Visual Basic code [VBS],” he said.

“VBS is a powerful coding language and can be used to interact directly with the operating system on the infected device.

“Also it now has the ability to recognise if it is being used in a security testing environment known as a sandbox by looking for the presence of a virtual machine.

“Finally the replication has also advanced with the use of hidden files on removable storage devices such as USB sticks.”

He added that the new powers could be used to mount a variety of attacks.

“The malware can be used to perform a number of different functions, including download, installation and execution of additional files or tools to potentially gain administrator or privilege credentials,” he said.

“Once this is gained hackers then have the ability to move laterally in the organisation and start looking for crown jewels or simply advertise that a point of presence has been created in a organisation that could then be ‘rented’ out to perform attacks, such as DDoS.”

Kjw0rm and Sir DoOoM’s appearance follows the discovery of several evolved attack tools. These include the defence-dodging Skeleton Key malware and the advanced Cryptowall 3.0 ransomware.

Courtesy-Theinq

RHEL Finally Available On IBM’s Power8

January 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has made the Power8 version of the latest Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) beta available through its Power Development Platform (PDP) as the firm continues to build support for its Power systems.

IBM and Red Hat announced in December that RHEL 7.1 was adding support for the Power8 processor in little endian instruction format, as the beta release was made available for testers to download.

This version is available for developers and testers to download from today through the IBM PDP and at IBM Innovation Centres and Client Centres worldwide, IBM announced on its Smarter Computing blog.

“IBM and Red Hat’s collaboration to produce open source innovation demonstrates our commitment to developing solutions that efficiently solve IT challenges while empowering our clients to make their data centres as simple as possible so they can focus on core business functions and future opportunities,” said Doug Balog, general manager for Power Systems at IBM’s Systems & Technology Group.

The little endian support is significant because IBM’s Power architecture processors are capable of supporting little endian and big endian instruction formats. These simply reflect the order in which bytes are stored in memory.

The Power platform has long had Linux distributions and applications that operate in big endian mode, but the much larger Linux ecosystem for x86 systems uses little endian mode, and supporting this in Red Hat makes it much easier to port applications from x86 to Power.

Suse Linux Enterprise Server 12 launched last year with little endian support for the Power8 processor, as did Canonical’s Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

However, Red Hat and Suse are understood to be continuing to support their existing big endian releases on Power for their full product lifecycles.

IBM sold off its x86 server business to Lenovo last year, and has focused instead on the higher value Power Systems and z Systems mainframes.

In particular, the firm has touted the Power Systems as more suitable for mission critical workloads in scale-out environments like the cloud than x86 servers, and has been forging partnerships with firms such as Red Hat through its OpenPower Foundation.

Courtesy-TheInq

Microsoft Unveils Hologram Visor

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft Corp surprised the tech world with the unveiling of a prototype hologram visor that can bring the Minecraft video game, Skype calls and even the landscape of Mars to three-dimensional life.

The veteran tech pioneer, which long ago lost the mantle of the world’s most inventive company, is making a bold play to regain that title in the face of stiff competition from Google Inc and Apple Inc.

Virtual or enhanced reality is the next frontier in computing interaction, with Facebook Inc focusing on its Oculus virtual reality headset and Google working on its Glass project.

Microsoft said its wire-free Microsoft HoloLens device will be available around the same time as Windows 10 this autumn. Industry analysts were broadly excited at the prospect, but skeptical that it could produce a working model at a mass-market price that soon.

“That was kind of a ‘Oh wow!’ moment,” said Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner who tried out the prototype on Wednesday. “You would expect to see a relatively high-priced model this year or next year, then maybe it’ll take another couple of years to bring it down to a more affordable level.”

Microsoft does not have a stellar record of bringing ground-breaking technology to life. Its Kinect motion-sensing game device caused an initial stir but never gripped the popular imagination.

The company showed off a crude test version of the visor – essentially jerry-rigged wires and cameras pulled over the head – to reporters and industry analysts at a gathering at its headquarters near Seattle.

It did not allow any photographs or video of the experience, but put some images on its website.

 

 

The ESA Goes With Red Hat For Cloud Services

January 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The European Space (ESA) has deployed a private, on-premise cloud platform designed to serve its community in Europe. The infrastructure is partly based on a custom version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

The ESA Cloud needs to be constantly available to the space agency’s large user base, ensuring high levels of reliability and flexibility and the management capabilities of a modern IT environment, according to Red Hat.

Hosted applications include software development and testing, satellite data processing, document management and “more traditional” corporate IT services used during day-to-day operations.

The ESA Cloud infrastructure is based on systems from VCE, including a blade architecture with x86 CPUs, and cloud management software from Orange Business Services.

RHEL is one of the platforms supported within the ESA Cloud, and the space agency worked closely with Red Hat to customise the enterprise OS.

The customisation and implementation phase was particularly important, the ESA said, because its requirements are “dramatically” different to those of any other enterprise.

The scenarios Red Hat and the ESA IT team had to deal with were quite often “absolutely new”, the company stated.

The ESA Cloud is designed to provide complex virtual environments “within minutes” to end users, shortening the time needed to reach an organisation’s business and scientific targets.

Monitoring computing resources consumed in real time is another important feature of ESA’s private cloud, allowing the IT team to optimise the available capacity to support specific agency projects.

The first ESA Cloud data center is ready for production in Frascati, Italy, and the space agency has already completed a similar site in Darmstadt, Germany.

Future targets include increasing the number of available services, and disaster recovery capabilities to face “any possible large-scale calamity”.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will Windows 10 Have An Impact On Tablets?

January 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

CCS Insight has said that, while Microsoft’s share of the tablet market is expected to grow, Windows 10 will have “little impact” before the end of 2016.

CCS has cast its eye over tablet sales, and said that while the market saw minimal growth in 2014, sales are likely to increase by 28 percent in 2015.

The growth will largely be driven by Android, thanks to affordably priced tablets running Google’s software, while Apple is expected to continue to woo those in the market for a high-end device.

Apple will also grow its position in the business tablet market, CCS expects, thanks to its partnership with IBM.

However, CCS stressed that Microsoft should not be overlooked. Sales of Windows-based tablets won’t see huge growth this year, but will gain a bigger share of the market.

Marina Koytcheva, CCS director of forecasting, said: “We expect Android to continue dominating the low-end and mid-range market, with Apple taking the lion’s share of the high-end.

“But Windows is gaining a bigger slice of the pie, albeit from a very low level, and should not be overlooked.”

Koytcheva added that Microsoft’s decision to scrap its licence fee for Windows devices under 9in is a major factor.

“It has given Windows fresh impetus, as it has spurred manufacturers to produce a better range of devices at a variety of prices, as low as $99 for HP’s Stream 7, for example,” she said.

Windows 10 is expected to make its debut on 21 January, but isn’t likely to have much of an impact, according to CCS.

“Microsoft still runs the risk of failing to convert the wide availability of cheaper Windows tablets into strong growth in unit sales before 2017,” Koytcheva said.

“Windows 10 will take time to make its mark, and developers will need a few months to perfect applications for the new platform. We expect Windows 10 to have little impact on tablet sales before late 2016.”

Courtesy-TheInq