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Microsoft Thursday launched the biggest, most dramatic makeover of its operating system since Windows went graphical, perfuming the effort with a billion-dollar marketing budget. Windows 8 will be on the street Friday, October 26. It has to best the competition from the smartphones and iPads that have helped Apple and Google suck up a lot of Microsoft's business. If the new un-Microsoft-like operating system doesn't catch on - it has no familiar Start button or menu - it could be curtains for CEO Steve Ballmer and maybe even the company. Microsoft has been late to the Internet, search and mobile and looks to be an old relic, whose stock barely moves anymore, compared to Apple, Google and Amazon. The new touchscreen-favoring widgetry - with colored tiles instead of icons to indicate applications - will turn up on hundreds of x86 PCs, tablets and hybrids in the com... (more)

Surface Off to Modest Start: Ballmer

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told French daily Le Parisien Monday that sales of the company's iPad- and Android-challenging Surface tablet had a "modest" start because of limited availability confined to its online retail sites and the few Microsoft stores in the US. Surface tablets are based on the ARM chip and are not compatible with the huge library of x86 Windows apps. It's got a click-on keyboard cover that's supposed to represent the best of the PC and tablet worlds. Ballmer also reportedly said that four million upgrades to Windows 8 were sold in the three days following its launch. ... (more)

Cloud Expo Platinum Plus Sponsor HGST and Gold Sponsor Verizon Team Up

As 13th Cloud Expo / Cloud Expo Silicon Valley draws near, two of its major sponsors are working together in a high-profile way. Platinum Plus Sponsor Hitachi GST (HGST), a Western Digital company, and Gold Sponsor Verizon Enterprise Solutions today announced that HGST is providing solid-state storage solutions for Verizon's recently introduced Verizon Cloud. HGST's s800 Series Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) enterprise-class solid-state drives (SSDs) are being deployed in Verizon's cloud servers, providing large enterprises, mid-size companies and small businesses with high-performing, highly reliable solid-state storage on a scalable platform. "In building Verizon Cloud, we set out to vastly improve public cloud performance and deliver control and flexibility to the user," said John Considine, chief technology officer of Verizon Terremark.  "HGST's reputation for high-... (more)

BusinessWeek Piece on Cloud Computing Misses The Point

Steve Hamm (@stevehamm31) of BusinessWeek - pictured below -got a big article on #cloudcomputing into last week’s issue.  It rightly points out that cloud computing is the big thing and will keep us busy for the next 10 years.  Unfortunately, a lot of the article is misleading or missing key context. His first example cited is Avon’s use of a smartphone- and PC-accessible system for connecting Avon’s 150,000 “sales leaders” with their reps (sales leaders are the consultants who recruit and run other consultants/reps and get a cut of the “upline” commission).  Nothing in the article explains how this is a “cloud computing” solution.  Remote/mobile accessible applications have been around almost as long as the Internet.  The article doesn’t say, but I suspect that the system serving up all this info is a traditionally developed and deployed one sitting inside the Avo... (more)

The Downside of Mobile Applications

I had the fortunate opportunity to meet a classmate for coffee this week. I had not seen him for over a decade. He serves as a traffic cop and uses a TDS Recon mobile handheld computer in the course of his work writing tickets. During our conversation we discussed the rugged laptop he had mounted in his unmarked police cruiser. He said it had many of their police forms and documents on it, but that the mobile software was not able to keep up with the required edits and changes needed on the forms. As a result, they had stopped using it for much of their documentation. This discussion highlighted the need for a mobile workflow application that is a separate layer from the data layer. The field data collection requirements should be very simple to edit and not impact the field user. If the mobile application requires a complete update to edit data fields, then it risks ... (more)

Redbox, M2M and Mobile SAP Micro-Apps

M2M is not only a cool acronym, kind of James Bond like, but a very interesting category in the wireless industry.  M2M in this context means machine-to-machine wireless connectivity.  A few other terms that describe this category are "the Internet of Objects" or the "Internet of Things."  All of these terms relate to machines that can talk or exchange data with other machines via wireless connectivity. One strange example that I wrote about a few months ago was a bathroom scale that would wirelessly tweet your body weight to your Twitter list every time you weighed yourself.  The scale, a machine, was collecting data and sending it automatically via a wireless connection to another machine (server). A recent example that I found particularly interesting was Redbox.  These are the DVD rental kiosks that we see everywhere now days. Did you know that Redbox machines are... (more)

Once Again About Apple

Two most fashionable discussions for this Spring-Summer season are: 1. Will Apple kill Flash Player? 2. Will Apple kill Adobe? Apple won't kill neither Flash Player nor Adobe. Yes, Steve Jobs is going slightly mad. He goes against all rules in the industry, and there's no logic in his statements. For example,  today Apple allowed Opera browser on iPhone violating their own non-compete rule for accepting application for the iPhone OS. But if you think about it, all important shifts in the computing industry were made by "crazy" people who were pissing against the wind. At this point, let's enjoy Freddy Mercury, the best impersonator of Steve Jobs - they even look alike. Three other guys in this video play roles of CEO's of Adobe, Google and Microsoft. But having said all this, it's obvious that Adobe is too slow in releases of new software. Silverlight will become a se... (more)

HP Has a webOS Tablet, You Just Can’t Buy It

HP unveiled its expected Palm webOS 2.1-based tablet Wednesday but won't be able to deliver the very Apple-y 9.7-inch "TouchPad" until summer sometime, putting HP and its ambitions that much behind the master, which should be delivering the iPad 2 by April, and behind the throngs that by then should be hawking Android 3.0 gismos, not to mention the RIM Playbook. HP wasn't definite about pricing saying merely that it would be competitive with the iPad, which starts at $499. The TouchPad can do some cute tricks like syncing content with one of HP's new webOS smartphones - which also aren't available - just by touching, or answer a test message on the phone, but consumers are unlikely to buy it for those features. (Obviously HP is hoping to sell bundles.) The tablet multitasks though. That's a reason. And it has fancy Beats sound and gesture-based interaction. The 1.5l... (more)

China Convicts Three for Stealing iPad 2 Specs

A Chinese court has convicted three local guys who stole iPad 2's blueprints to make counterfeits. The two guys who stole the plans worked for Foxconn, Apple's contract manufacturer. They sold them to a third guy for about $31,000 who built and sold knockoffs way before the genuine article appeared on the Chinese market last month. One of the Foxconn employees got 14 months and a $15,500 fine. His buddy got 12 months and a $4,600 fine. The buyer, an agent of Maita Electronics, got 18 months and a $23,000 fine. The same thing happened with the original iPad. ... (more)

iPad 3 Rumor Mill

DigiTimes says it's heard from its redoubtable downstream sources that Apple has scratched the notion of iPad 3 being available this year maybe because Samsung and LG can't get decent yields on a 2,048x1,536 9.7-inch "retina display" panel and Sharp's are too expensive. On top of which Apple's high-resolution demands also mean a larger backlighting source and apparently a single-edge light bar won't do plus the panel is reportedly having trouble meeting Apple's physical thinness, rich color and toughness requirements. DigiTimes claims iPad 3 was supposed to launch in the second half "with a supply volume of 1.5-2 million units in the third quarter and 5-6 million in the fourth quarter." Not to worry though, it says the supply of iPad 2s "in the second half will still be maintained at 28-30 million units." Meanwhile, Reuters says Apple plans to put a billion-dollar ... (more)

Monty Python, the Black Knight, and Tablets from HP & BlackBerry…

Remember the great scene in classic movie, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” between King Arthur and the Black Knight? Wanting to pass over a bridge protected by the Black Knight, Arthur compliments him, then asks the Knight to join Arthur’s quest. When the Black Knight tells Arthur that he shall not be permitted to pass, the two engage in a sword fight. Arthur immediately chops off the left arm of the Black Knight. (from the script by Monty Python:) ARTHUR: Now stand aside, worthy adversary. BLACK KNIGHT: ‘Tis but a scratch. ARTHUR: A scratch? Your arm’s off! BLACK KNIGHT: No, it isn’t. ARTHUR: Well, what’s that then? BLACK KNIGHT: I’ve had worse. Arthur then chops off his other arm. The Black Knight continues to challenge saying it’s “Just a flesh wound.” After Arthur has taken both the Knight’s legs — and, I realize if you haven’t seen it, this scene doesn’t sound ... (more)