Microsoft's recently released Internet Explorer 8 runs faster than previous versions, boasts better standards compliance, and serves up some nifty features like Tab Grouping, Web Accelerators, and Web Slices. And without any major UI changes to pull end-users out of their comfort zone, Microsoft likely expected a mad rush to upgrade. As it turns out, those who are upgrading appear to be running back to IE7, according to data by Net Applications.
After being released on Thursday of last week, IE8's market share ramped up to 2.59 percent on Sunday. By Monday, that number dropped to 1.86 percent and today sits at 1.17 percent. Going by Net Applications' numbers alone, this would seem to indicate early adopters aren't all that impressed with IE8.
Because of the improvements made to web standards compliance, Microsoft had to implement a Compatibility Mode to prevent itself from essentially 'breaking the web.' Major sites known to render improperly in IE8 automatically run in compatibility mode, while others require end-users to manually switch modes. Complaints have surfaced from not being able to print from greeting card sites to missing images on pages built with Microsoft Publisher.
Are you having issues with IE8? Hit the jump and sound off.
By now you've probably had a chance to either play with the Windows 7 beta, or have at least read up on Microsoft's upcoming operating system and have had your share of screenshots. But what you might not know is that the Windows 7 interface was close to being decidedly different than what it is.
Steven Sinofsky, senior VP for the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, said that kept a gallery of designs for the Office Assistant on his office wall to help inspire the Windows 7 team. His gallery contained over 400 sketches of the desktop UI, including a taskbar with thumbnails of open windows instead of icons.
Other interface considerations include a Bat Signal, so that when you hovered your mouse over an icon, a window pop-up would appear highlighted by beams of light. This would later evolve into Aero Peek in Windows 7. Aero Shake, on the other hand, came from an experiment called Aladdin. So long as a user kept 'rubbing' a window in the background, it would stay on top.
Check out what other wacky ideas the Windows 7 team considered and view more sketches here.
Bigfoot, the company behind the uber expensive Killer line of network interface cards (NIC), expands its lineup this week with the Killer Xeno Pro and Ultra cards. Both cards run on the PCI-E interface and purportedly offer better throughput than the company's earlier models. But the biggest selling point for the Xeno series is the integrated audio for hardware-accelerated voice-chat.
"Killer Xeno's voice-chat acceleration technology addresses the most requested gamer feature, and will enable the millions of online gamers worldwide who utilize these chat services to enjoy a 'hiccup-free' voice experience while playing the latest generation of online games," Bigfoot wrote in a press release (PDF). "Bigfoot, in providing voice-chat, has partnered with companies supporting leading products such as TeamSpeak and Vivox as well as utilizing the popular open-source application Mumble."
The Xeno Pro comes with 128MB of onboard RAM, while the Xeno Ultra upgrades to 256MB, while also adding a customizable onboard LED status display for caller ID, network statistics, game information, and customized messages. Otherwise, the two cards are share the same spec sheet, including an upgraded NPU, hardware bandwidth control, and a hardware firewall.
The Xeno Pro will be available in April for $130 from both Alienware and EVGA. The Xeno Ultra will be available in May for $180 on retail shelves.
The internet has been rife with rumors of an Apple netbook. Another unconfirmed report has joined this unabated procession of rumors. According to a report on the website of Smarthouse, a prominent technology publication from down under, Apple has a functioning netbook prototype.
The magazine’s source at LG, Korea also claimed that the netbook will be produced in Taiwan and will feature a LG OLED screen. But our abstruse friends at Engadget have pointed out that the author of this particular Smarthouse report, David Richards, has a history of fanning rumors bereft of any logic. So do take this with a pinch of salt.
Remember a few young, naïve years ago (What’s an Obama?) when Crytek first cracked open your PC and drank the syrupy yolks within with the second iteration of its CryEngine technology? Remember the stomach-churning mix of awe and a heart attack you felt upon viewing its viewtiful vistas?
But it is very, very crisp, clean, and lush – just like CryEngine 2, but tweaked to levels of near-perfection. Does it knock reality off its high-horse and keep on riding? No, but if we fired a real rocket at an equally real tree, we imagine that its leaves tenuous grip on their lofty home would look something like that.
And oh, hey – look! A waterfall! Why, is that a heart attack we feel coming on? We’ll never doubt you again, Crytek.
Like a family engaged in an annual game of holiday card one-upmanship, the PC Gaming Alliance’s numbers, figures, and, er, printed-on coffee stains – courtesy of its State of the PC Gaming Industry in 2008 report – are shining with that make-everyone-else-jealous-of-your-obvious-superiority sheen that’s so popular with these sorts of things.
Most notably, the report states that PC gaming still brings home pounds upon pounds of bacon – nearly enough to necessitate tossing away a few slabs before fording the river, in fact – making it the largest single gaming platform in existence. As of now, industry revenues sit at $11 billion, and are expected to continue making our fingers, toes, and abaci feel inadequate in spite of the current Harsh Economic Climate.
In addition, PCGA president Randy Stude emphasized the PC gaming market’s unique advantages, saying:
“The biggest story in PC games is the expansion beyond retail. PC games have successfully pioneered online subscription and distribution models that have resulted in a global boom that shows no signs of slowing. Despite the advances of the likes of Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Network, the online platform that remains the most accessible and robust worldwide is the PC.”
Buried at the bottom of scenic Oh-God-Don’t-Look, State of the PC Gaming Industry U.S.A. were a few roadblocks the industry’s currently negotiating, mostly stemming from variations in hardware configurations, piracy, and – of course – the economy.
You can check out the full, 33-page PDF file on the PCGA’s website, if you really want. Be warned, though – it’s large enough to become the butt of many a “Yo momma’s so fat” joke. Peruse at your own peril.
Some users of Netflix’s streaming service have groused about dwindling performance in recent times. The dip in performance has not only nettled users but also engendered speculation as to its cause. The most plausible conjecture is that video streams are being deliberately throttled by Netflix.
“Also, routing to different ISPs in the same region may be quite different, thus performance may also be quite different, even for neighbors, if they are connected to different ISPs. Moreover, congesting points can rise and fall with ISP configuration changes and other conditions,” Hunt wrote.
While Intel’s line of Z5xx Atom processors have already impressed the masses with their clock speeds ranging from 1.1GHz to 1.86GHz (all on 2.2 watts of power or less!), Intel feels like they’ve got more to prove.
The newest additions to the Atom family are the Z550 which clocks in at 2GHz while drawing only 2.4 watts and the Z515, with a dynamic clock speed ranging from 800MHz to 1.33GHz (depending on what you’re doing).
It’s expected that these chips will mostly see their way into mobile phones and MIDs, but the Z550 seems well within the realm of netbooks.
Step one on the long road to retiring 32-bit computers to the PC graveyard was the development of 64-bit processors (check). Step two was the development of 64-bit operating systems (check). Step three was the development of 64-bit drivers (check). And now, it's almost time for step four: major 64-bit applications.
ZDNet's Ed Bott has done some digging around in Windows 7's MigWiz.xml file (it's used to configure the Migration Wizard in Windows 7) and discovered that the upcoming Microsoft Office 14 will be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. In the Office 14 section of MigWiz.xml in post-beta builds of Windows 7, Bott found references to both standard and x64 programs in Office 14, as well as references to upgrade options from Office 2003 to either Office 14 or Office 14 x64 (note that the public Windows 7 beta doesn't include these settings). What does this mean to Office 14's expected release date? Bott says:
The fact that this code is being baked into Windows 7 now suggests that the rumors of an early 2010 ship date for Office 14 are accurate. Having native 64-bit support for all members of the Office family is an extra bonus and welcome news.
If you're currently using some version of Microsoft Office, does the advent of a native 64-bit version make you more likely to upgrade to Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 14? Join us after the jump for your chance to sound off.
Unlike the chicken and the egg, in today's multicore environment, we can definitively say the hardware came first, and we're beginning to wonder if the software will ever come at all. We're not referring to the handful of games and applications that are multicore friendly, but the widespread development of software to take advantage of multiple cores.
So what's the holdup? According to participants at last week's Multicore Expo in Santa Clara, California, programming challenges remain. While there's no shortage of multicore processors in the wild, much of the software being written is still being geared towards single-core computing.
"Looking at the specifications for these software products, it is clear that many will be challenged to support the hardware configurations possible today and those that will be accelerating in the future," said Carl Claunch, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "The impact is akin to putting a Ferrari engine in a go-cart; the power may be there, but design mismatches severely limit the ability to exploit it."
The above statement comes from a report Gartner released two months ago. In it, Claunch goes on to explain that the software running today's servers have both hard and soft limits on the number of processors the software can effectively handle, the latter of which requires trial and error to overcome.
Parallel computing may seem like a no-brainer, but programmers point to the potential of new types of software bugs and lack of programming tools. On the bright side, more tools are emerging, and both Intel and AMD have made it clear that the future of computing lies in multiple cores. That future will be realized once software development catches up to the hardware.