Microsoft re-introduced Windows 7 Family Pack in October to coincide with the first anniversary of the launch of the operating system. If you don’t already know, the family pack gives you three upgrade licenses of Windows 7 Home Premium for $149.99, when a single upgrade license alone costs $119.99. But if that sounds like a great deal to you, just wait till we tell you about the limited-time discount Dell is offering on the family pack. The family pack is available for $119.99 – three upgrades for the price of one – from Dell’s online store. However, only when you add Windows 7 Family Pack to your cart does the discount reveal itself.
First there was suspense over the status of HP’s Slate 500 Windows 7 tablet, with many fearing that the device might never see the light of day owing to the PC vendor’s acquisition of Palm, now that it is actually available for order from HP’s website there is confusion on when the company will begin shipping the device. While there are reports of pre-orderers being notified about a delay of 10-15 business days in shipment of their orders, the order status page seems to indicate a much smaller delay. The slate was originally expected to arrive on November 12.
“Due to high demand on the portable system you have selected we will not be able to fulfill the order from on hand stock, therefore we have routed your order to manufacturing for your product to be built. The average lead time to get these portables ready to ship may vary from 10 to 15 business days,” reads an email the company sent to one of the pre-orderers.
This has fueled a lot of speculation, with different blogs positing different theories to explain the delay. GottaBeMobile is blaming the delay on an unexpected bug that requires a full reboot, whereas SlashGear feels HP “may have hedged their bets with Slate 500 stock and planned to manufacture on-demand rather than face a mountain of unsold units.”
A week after it introduced a 96GB model of its enterprise-oriented V+ 100 SSD, Kingston has announced another addition to the SSDNow V Series. Available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities, the SSDNow v100 is targeted at both consumers and small businesses looking for an affordable “upgrade path for desktops and notebooks, short of a total system replacement.”
As you'd expect, the new SSDNow v100 drives feature Windows 7 TRIM support. A major difference between the enterprise-centric V+100 drives and the V100 series is the former's support for “always on” garbage collection across both TRIM and non-TRIM supported operating systems. But as Kingston clearly places a premium on that OS-independent garbage collection feature, the V100 is much more affordable. In fact, at $489.99 (stand-alone unit), the 256GB V100 is by far Kingston's most affordable 256GB SSD till date. The drive is capable of sequential read and write speeds of up to 250MB/sec and 230MB/sec, respectively.
“The SSDNow V100 drives ship as either a stand-alone unit or as an upgrade bundle kit. The desktop bundle kit includes the SSD, cloning software, cables (SATA data and power), and 3.5″ hard-drive mounting brackets and hardware. The notebook bundle includes the SSD, cloning software and a 2.5″ external enclosure allowing the replaced hard drive to be used as extra storage” Kingston said in a release.
In the long run, Microsoft didn't do itself any favors by releasing Internet Explorer 6 as a non-standard browser. Now all those companies who were forced to develop apps specific to the nine-year-old browser are struggling to migrate to Windows 7, according to market research firm Gartner.
Even worse for these companies is that Microsoft doesn't seem all that interested in fixing a problem it created, instead hoping to sweep IE6 under the rug.
"Microsoft would rather put the non-standard browser technology behind it," said Michael Silver, an analyst with Gartner. "Microsoft needs to explore all avenues that could ease the transitions away from IE6."
Here's the problem. Businesses still clinging to IE6 told Gartner that 40 percent of their browser-depending apps don't work with IE8, which comes baked into Windows 7. Fixing these apps to run in IE8 takes a sizable investment, both in time and money, and temporary workarounds all carry downsides. Probably the most promising is to use application virtualization tools, but as far as Microsoft is concerned, that's a violation of licensing agreements.
"It's ironic that Microsoft would oppose methods that would help organizations accelerate the move to Windows 7," Silver said. "Microsoft must do more to help organizations with their IE6 problems that Microsoft helped create."
Here's something for all you early adopters who scoff at the notion of patience being a virtue. Provided you're rocking a legal copy of Windows 7, you can now download the operating system's first Service Pack in Release Candidate (RC) form.
Windows 7 SP1 includes both a roll-up of OS updates and several new goodies, including RemoteFX.
"Microsoft RemoteFX introduces a new set of remote user experience capabilities that enable a media-rich user environment for virtual and session-based desktops," Microsoft said in a statement. "RemoteFX can be deployed to a range of thick and thin client devices, enabling cost-effective, local-like access to graphics-intensive applications. RemoteFX also supports a broad array of USB peripherals to improve the productivity of users of virtual desktops."
Also included is Dynamic Memory, which enables servers running Hyper-V for server virtualization to make better use of memory.
Before you go and download the Release Candidate, there are some things you should know. The RC can't be installed over the beta of SP1, though you can install it on an evaluation version of Windows 7. Microsoft considers this a "high quality release," however once the final build of SP1 ships, you'll need to uninstall the RC version in order to upgrade.
The expression “kids say the darndest things” gets just about anyone under the age of 10 off the hook for bizarre remarks, but Microsoft PR is likely looking for someway to spin Steve Ballmer’s latest comments into this category as well following a recent interview at the Gartner Symposium. During the one-on-one with ZDnet’s Larry Dignan, Ballmer claimed that “the next version of Windows” was Microsoft’s “riskiest bet”. Given that such a large percentage of Microsoft’s revenue comes from Windows, this probably wasn’t the best thing to admit in a public forum, but his honesty certainly does give us lots to write about!
This begs the question, why is Steve so worried about Windows 8? ZDnet’s Mary Jo Foley speculated that it could be because Microsoft’s next operating system is rumored to be a radical departure from Windows 7, but since nothing has been officially confirmed by the company, we still have very little to go on. Leaked feature slides claim Windows 8 is going to be faster booting, have more advanced biometric security support, and maybe even an app store. Sure these are interesting features to a select few, but not exactly what most people would consider “risky”.
The more likely explanation is simply the natural fear built into Microsoft after the launch of Windows Vista. In many ways Vista failed because they tried to change core aspects of the operating system too quickly, and the compatibility problems caused a backlash that they are only now starting to recover from.
So should they make radical changes and risk another Vista? Or should they simply continue tweaking the UI and risk not making a compelling case to upgrade in two years time?
When Hewlett-Packard bought Palm earlier this year, it looked like the final nail in the coffin of the Windows 7 tablet it had trotted out in January. The company was now on the horns of a dilemma, torn between WebOS and Windows 7. The world’s leading PC maker eventually chose to accommodate the Windows 7-based Slate 500 in its WebOS-dominated tablet plans, albeit only as a business-oriented product.
The back-from-the-dead Slate 500 is now available for preorder. The 8.9-inch device features a 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z540 processor, a 64GB SSD, 2GB of RAM, a 3MP camera on the back, one front-facing VGA camera, and a Broadcom graphics accelerator. The Slate 500 sports a $799 price tag.
Ahead of the first anniversary of the launch of Windows 7 on Friday, Microsoft has posted some stats about the first year. Writing on The Windows Blog, a perceptibly triumphant Brandon LeBlanc, a Windows Communications Manager at Microsoft, revealed that MS has sold 240 million Windows 7 licenses, making it “the fastest selling operating system in history.”
“Six months after launch, 100% (over 18,000) of our OEM partners were selling Windows 7 PCs versus 70% for Windows Vista PCs at a comparable time period. And there is an incredible ecosystem of products – software and hardware – that work great with Windows 7 too,” LeBlanc wrote.
LeBlanc also shared 7 lists of favorite Windows 7 highlights, including favorite Windows 7 features, themes, PCs and products. What do you like or dislike about Windows 7?
If the thought of a dual-booting netbook puts a smile on your face, then you'll be happy to know that Acer's Aspire, um, "Happy" netbook is expanding its reach. Previously seen at Spanish and Hungarian retail sites, the Aspire Happy is now headed to the U.K.
The 10.1-inch dual-booting netbook sports both Windows 7 and Android 2.1 Other than the OSes, it's a fairly standard netbook. Configurations include a single-core Atom N450 or dual-core Atom N550 processor, up to 2GB of memory, up to 250GB of hard drive space, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional 3G, and a variety of color options, including "Candy Pink," "Lavender Purple," "Lime Green," and "Hawaii Blue."
The Aspire Happy runs £250 (just shy of $400 USD). No word yet on when this one is bound for the States.
When Microsoft agreed to add a browser ballot screen to copies of Windows sold in Europe, many questioned just how much of an impact this would have on Internet Explorer’s market share. If you count yourself among the naysayers then feel free to make a triumphant fist pump, because the early feedback would seem to agree with you. According to the New York Times the first six months of data is suggesting that the browser ballot screen is having only a minor influence on the browser decision making process, and has renewed the debate over the effectiveness of mandated antitrust remedies.
According to StatCounter reports, Microsoft’s European share has dropped from 44.9 percent in January to around 39.8 percent today, but it’s almost impossible to tell if the browser ballot screen is to blame. Experts argue that the decline curve seen in the EU matches losses in other markets, with much of the lost IE business moving over to Google Chrome. Google’s share of the European market has doubled to 11.9 percent over the past twelve months, and they even managed to pick up 5.8 percent during the same period in which IE shed 5.1 percent. Is this the result of the browser ballot screen? Or just Google making a more compelling product?
What would you do if you were greeted with a browser ballot screen with your new install? For many people Internet Explorer is the best browser for downloading other browsers, but would you actually want a Windows PC without it at all? Let us know after the jump and help us conduct our own unofficial survey.