The “Vista Capable” lawsuit has been dragging on for some time now, but it appears a verdict may be fast approaching, and its bad news for Microsoft. Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman released figures from the class-action suit which shows that the company stands to lose as much as $8.5 billion dollars. With such a large dollar figure swirling through the investment community, Microsoft instantly went on the defensive by issuing a statement claiming that the estimate is “over inflated”. They also assert that if damages are granted, they are unlikely to be anywhere near this amount.
The 8.5 billion dollar figure was calculated by a University Of Washington economist, and expert witness in the trial. To reach this number he determined the number of “Vista Upgradable” PCs that were sold in the US between April 2006 and January 2007. This essentially covers the period between the start of the marketing campaign and the release of the retail version of the OS. It was established that around 13.75 million laptops and 5.65 million desktop PC’s shipped with the “Vista Capable” designation, but did not live up to the “Premium Ready” requirements. The root of the plaintiff’s argument is that they were cheated as a result of not being able to use the Aero glass interface. As of July 2008 Microsoft had sold 180 million licenses for Vista, but only around 42 million of those were for the basic edition.
As PC enthusiasts we are suckers for OS eye candy, but does this case actually have merit? Your personal feelings on Vista notwithstanding, does the lack of Aero really cripple the rest of the OS enough to justify this kind of settlement?
In our March 2009 issue, we dressed our illustrious Editor-in-Chief up as a one of the ravenous antagonists from our Game of the Year, Valve’s Left 4 Dead.
The transformation from living human to decaying dead took almost two hours, though in the end it made for an amusing, but slightly horrifying, photo shoot. Read on to find out how we managed to turn this famed zombie slayer into one of his victims, or follow along to attempt your own zombie transformation.
As noted by Gizmodo, Windows 7 has made quite a few tweaks to the Windows Experience Index (WEI) first introduced by Windows Vista. For those of you tuning in late, the WEI tests hardware performance of five subsystems (processor, memory, desktop graphics, 3D gaming graphics, and hard disk), calculates a score for each one, and uses the lowest subsystem score as your WEI base score.
Since just after Windows Vista shipped, users of high-performance components, especially graphics cards, have been complaining loudly about Vista's WEI top score being capped at 5.9. While the Minpaso database of Vista WEI scores calculates a "presumption score" to try to make allowances for today's faster hardware, there hasn't been an official move from Microsoft until now. The code jockeys in Redmond heard you, and the top WEI subsystem and base score in Windows 7 is 7.9.
Wondering why the top score changed, and what else is different? Join us after the jump for details.
Nvidia has officially released its Forceware 181.22 WHQL GeForce driver suite just under a week since making the drivers available as beta downloads. The graphics chip maker recommends upgrading to the latest release "for the best GPU PhysX experience in EA's hot PC title Mirror's Edge." Forceware 181.22 WHQL installs the new PhysX system software, now in version 9.09.0010.
Also included with the new driver release is support for Nvidia's latest GPUs, the GTX 295 and GTX 285. Nvidia also claims modest to significant performance boosts in select titles, such as up to 80 percent in Lost Planet: Colonies, up to 38 percent in Far Cry 2, and up to 25 percent in Devil May Cry 4. Several other titles are said to run anywhere from 10 to 18 percent better with the latest Forceware driver.
Steve Ballmer’s luncheon meeting with Yahoo’s chairman Roy Bostock is being seen as a straw in the wind of a possible deal between the companies they serve. The possibility of such a deal has been ostensibly revived with last week’s meeting and the appointment of a new CEO over at Yahoo. But it might not be a great thing for Microsoft, after all.
Microsoft should concentrate on its core business of software, rather then treading Google’s domain – online search advertising, according to Slate’s Farhad Manjoo. In fact, he goes as far as saying that Microsoft should not even be in online advertising being a software company.
He points out that Microsoft’s core business has been ignored for a while and cites Vista and Windows Mobile as emblems of that ignorance. Manjoo finally has some M&A advice for Microsoft: buy Palm for just $1 billion or $2 billion instead of Yahoo - and its plethora of problems - for tens of billions.
Palm’s upcoming Pre is being tipped as the iPhone killer - that everyone is so desperately dying to encounter. Its interface does not appear to be a mere reinvention of the iPhone wheel, and may just be at the vanguard of mobile phone technology. On the other hand, Windows Mobile is a touch quaint compared to other mobile operating systems. So you can see why Microsoft’s unofficial M&A advisor believes that Palm may prove to be a better buy than Yahoo.
Despite a struggling economy, the worldwide PC market continues to grow, which is largely the result of mini-notebooks. The immense popularity in low-cost netbooks has also favored Intel, whose Atom CPUs contributed to record growth in the processor market in Q3 2008. But are consumers truly happy buying underpowered ultraportable PCs? According to a study by Biz360, an information-services company, customer satisfaction is falling short of the sales growth.
"The results of the analysis indicate that there is a lot of opportunity for improvement across the board for Netbook products," Biz360 concludes. "Netbook manufacturers also face a significant challenge with consumers whose expectations are based on years of desktop pc usage."
Surprisingly, Biz360 found that Acer ranks lowest in Net Advocacy (Biz360's proprietary metric that factors the positive and negative sentiment of individual comments), despite being the top seller in Q4 2008. Acer's Aspire one series had a 34 percent lower Net Advocacy than the average for all laptop brands.
Not so suprisingly, the number one complaint against netbooks has to do with performance, in which Biz360 found opinions to be "predominately negative."
You can already get hitched online, so why not webcast your funeral when you're dead and gone? More and more funeral homes have started offering such a service, making it possible for out-of-towners unable to make the trip to still attend a loved one's funeral, while simultaneously checking the latest sports scores in another tab (just the way Firefox envisioned it).
One such funeral home offering live (dead?) webcasts is Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service. The company first started streaming funeral services to families with relatives serving in the military, and now anyone can sign up at the any of the company's 11 locations. To prevent just anyone from watching the service, viewers must enter a password 15 minutes before it starts.
The Schoedinger funeral home says its webcasts have been popular and expects other funeral homes to follow suit. The practice has also attracted the attention of webcasting companies, who offer packages to funeral homes consisting of tripods, cameras with microphones, cables, and other webcasting necessities.
A group of chemical engineers with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have recently developed a hydrogen fuel cell that measures a measly 3 millimeters across. This means that within the not-too-distant future we could be using gadgets with cheaper, longer lasting, more eco-friendly power sources.
The cell consists of very few parts: a water reservoir, a chamber contain metal hydride separated by a thin membrane with an assembly of electrodes that conduct electricity underneath. And, thanks to the small size of the chip the need for a pump, pressure sensor and controlling electronics were eliminated.
The first models were able to generate 0.7 volts and a current of 0.1 milliamps for about 30 hours. The team does claim that now they’re able to produce 1 full milliamp for the 30 hours at the same voltage.
It’s unfortunate to see Microsoft so clearly working backwards in a progressive music market. In a world run by DRM-free services like Amazon, Lala and Apple, its confusing to see a giant like Microsoft moving towards DRM when it comes to loading music on mobile phones.
According to Hugh Griffiths, Microsoft’s Head of Mobile at Microsoft UK, “It's a first step. We're doing this in conjunction with a third-party provider. We'll be looking to enhance the service if we get some interest from consumers. They certainly tell us that they like listening to music while they are out and about, on their mobile phones.”
On top of that, there’s currently no announced way for customers to move music between their mobile phone and their computer. And, to further dig the grave of the service, the tracks will be selling for nearly $2 (American) per song, compared to Apple and Amazon’s 79 – 99 cents.
Lets just hope that either Microsoft takes their stake out of the DRM-fueled music game before some unsuspecting people get swindled into buying crippled music, or they drastically change their tactics.
Now that we’ve got Barack Obama in the White House, correct oath or not, the planned $6 billion stimulus package should finally be on its way. But, according to a recent study, most Americans that don’t already have broadband simply don’t want it.
Many Americans don’t see broadband as the saving grace that those that have it do. For example, 19 percent of dial-up users said that nothing would get them to upgrade, not even lowered prices. Of the 25 percent that don’t regularly use the Internet at all (too busy watching mid-day reruns of MacGyver), one third stated that they’re not even interested in going online, whereas an additional 10 percent claimed that they thought it was too difficult.
While many of these statements may hold water today, one can only hope to see what this planned broadband stimulus will bring to the table. Perhaps a healthy dose of cheap, fast broadband is just what the doctor ordered? Plus, it’s difficult to think about all of the modems still making that wretched screech after all these years.