Depending on who you ask, that's probably two or three versions too many. Unfortunately, unless Redmond changes its mind between now and Windows 7 release, it looks likely that the same "too many versions" problem that haunted Windows Vista will be back for Windows 7. There's one bit of good news, though. It looks as if an easy-to-use version of Windows Anytime Upgrade will be included in non-Ultimate releases so you can move up.
It doesn't matter how good Intel's Core i7 platform is (and it's pretty damn good), several thousand of the chip maker's employees could soon be looking for employment elsewhere. As part of a plan to restructure its manufacturing operations and realign its manufacturing capacity to current market conditions, Intel said it will consolidate several "older" facilities.
"The actions at the four sites, when combined with associated support functions, are expected to affect between 5,000 and 6,000 employees worldwide," Intel said in a statement. "Not all employees will leave Intel; some may be offered positions at other facilities. The actions will take place between now and the end of 2009."
The restructuring effort includes closing two assembly test facilities in Penang, Malaysia and one in Cavite, Philippines, and halting production at Fab 20 in Hillsboro, Oregon. Intel will also stop producing wafers at its D2 facility in Santa Clara, California. Despite the restructuring and layoffs, Intel says the deployment of 45nm and 32nm manufacturing capacity will not be impacted.
Apple had a good year in notebook sales in 2008, but according to Forbes, Steve Jobs' health is just one of the troubles Apple will face in 2009. Like everyone else, the economy has taken its toll, sending Apple's share price down by more than 50 percent in the past six months from $171.81 to $82.33. But it's the emerging netbook market that could ultimately bite into Apple's revenue.
Despite Apple's success in the mobile PC market, average notebook prices are far below what you can expect to pay for a MacBook, and prices will only go lower as the economy continues to struggle. Acer's Aspire one, which sells for around $320, became the best selling netbook in 2008 putting Acer in fourth place in the PC market and ahead of Apple. And with Intel's next-gen Atom processor promising lower cost netbooks, Apple may find itself struggling to compete, whose lowest price notebook sells for $1,000.
Catch Forbes' full analysis here, then tell us what you think below.
Move over HP and IBM, and make room for Cisco Systems. Cisco, who has remained focused on routers, switches, and other networking gear and software responsible for the majority of its $40 billion a year in revenue and 65 percent gross profit margins, plans to release a server computer equipped with sophisticated virtualization software within the next few months, according to The New York Times.
"This will be the most important and most talked-about product of the year," said Brent Bracelin, a hardware analyst for Pacific Crest Securities. "There will be massive competitive reactions from both IBM. and HP, and we expect this will lead to a new wave of industry consolidation."
Cisco, who views the move "not as new market, but a market transition," will focus just on virtual applications rather than release a general purpose server. Other details remain sparse and Cisco isn't yet saying what exactly it envisions for its new product, but rumors suggest the company will also bundle networking hardware and virtualization software from Cisco and VMware, the latter of which Cisco owns close to a 2 percent stake.
Look for more details to emerge in the next couple of months.
IBM took its patent filing mojo to a whole new level last year, filing more patents in a single year than it has ever done before. But not only is IBM's 4,186 patents inside 12 months a new record for the company, it's also the most ever issued by the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office to one company in a year-long time period.
"IBM's leadership in the strategic use of intellectual property is based on balancing proprietary and open innovation," said Dr. John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of IBM Research. "Our goal is helping stimulate innovation as public investments in large infrastructure projects are being planned to boost global economies. We also anticipate that adding additional transparency to the patent system will help tackle the continuing patent quality crisis, which is impeding inventors, entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes."
This marks the 16th year in a row IBM has led the charge in patent filings, with Samsung being its nearest competitor in 2008 with 3,515 patents. Microsoft, who's pay-as-you-go computing concept patent was ultimately denied, checks in at No. 4 with 2.030 patents.
Nvidia this week revised its fourth-quarter outlook saying its revenue is expected to plunge at least 40 percent sequentially, and possibly as high as 50 percent. The graphics chip maker blames the revised estimate on a one-two punch of weakening end-user demand and inventory reductions by channel partners. Nvidia didn't have much more to say on the matter, other than that no conference call will be held regarding the update and we'll have to wait until February 10, 2009 when Nvidia reports its financial results for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009.
While everyone seems to be struggling in a weakened economy, and Nvidia in particular is coming off a year plagued with negative PR over GPU failures, the company appeared to be righting its ship by landing some big contracts. Earlier reports showed several global top-tier notebook vendors jumping on board Nvidia's 9400M graphics, including Apple, who ditched Intel in favor of Nvidia to supply the graphics chipset for the refreshed MacBook line. But this latest revenue warning trumps other big players in the tech market, such as AMD, Intel, and LSI who recently offered revised guidance ranging from 15 to 25 percent lower sequentially.
Meanwhile, we're still waiting for Nvidia to make good on its promise to "open a can of whoop ass."
Any sports fan will tell you that regardless of a team's record, first place is still first place (deep, isn't it?). So in that respect, Hewlett-Packard can still claim victory as the world's top supplier of desktops and notebooks. The only problem is HP is the top dog in a weak economy, which is kind of like a sports team taking the top spot in a weak division (we're looking at you, Arizona Cardinals).
Putting aside the sports analogy (and go Cardinals, btw), overall shipments of both desktops and notebooks dropped in the fourth quarter of 2008, which had a significant impact on the PC market, according to Gartner and IDC. But if there's a silver lining, it's that despite the Q4 slide, overall PC shipments for 2008 increased by a tad over 2 percent with 68 million units shipped. It should come as no surprise that netbooks helped drive the overall market.
"In the fourth quarter, if you had to pick a bright spot, the surge of mininotebooks in the PC [market] has helped drive growth," said Doug Bell, an analyst with IDC. "The Catch-22 is that these are inexpensive machines and that means total revenue is down. As far as volume goes, it helped a very tough fourth quarter."
For HP's part, the oem topped 15 million units in Q4 2008, representing a 3 percent increase over one year prior. Dell lost some footing with a 6 percent drop, and Acer has been gaining momentum with a 25 percent increase over Q4 2007.
In what some might view as a dark day in e-commerce, a New York Supreme Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit by Amazon.com and Overstock.com over a new law that requires online retailers to collect sales tax. Despite not having a physical presence in the state, the cleverly conceived law taxes any online retailer who has an affiliate marketing program in New York.
At stake is an estimated $73 million for New York this fiscal year. But lawyers representing Amazon and Overstock contend that the law violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and were seeking an permanent injunction prohibiting New York from enforcing the law. Judge Bransten didn't see it the same way.
"The neutral statute simply obligates out-of-state sellers to shoulder their fair share of the tax collection burden when using New Yorkers to earn profit from other New Yorkers," the judge wrote.
Amazon and Overstock are expected to appeal the ruling with the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, and failing that, it would then go the New York State Court of Appeals. And yes, being a constitutional issue, this could also end up being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
So much for the $2.2 billion operating profit Sony predicted just three months ago. Perhaps the company was looking at the balance sheet upside down, because now Sony is expected to report a 100 billion yen (that's $1.1 billion in homegrown U.S. currency) loss for fiscal 2008 ending in March, says Nikkei business daily. And that's just the beginning. Nikkei says the loss could reach as high as $2 billion, and will depend on whether or not Sony is successful in cutting inventory in Q1 2009.
If Nikkei's prediction comes true, this will mark Sony's first loss in 14 years. But unlike the one-time charge the electronics took for its picture division over two decades ago, losses this time around can be attributed to less than expected sales of Sony brand flat-panel TVs and other electronics, particularly in the U.S. market.
As the memory market can attest, it's become a tough proposition to try and sell computer components for a profit. But it's not just memory; motherboards and videocards have been on the decline since Q3 2008, and according to Henry Lu, VP of products at MSI, the market won't see any further expansion.
It gets even worse. Lu contends that a top four motherboard maker -- Asus, Gigabyte, ECS, or MSI -- will drop out of the market within the next few years due to the inability of the market to support the growth of all four. It may seem inconceivable that one of the industry's stalwarts should ultimately exit stage left, but one only need look back at Abit's recent fall from grace as a grim reminder of how quickly the game can change.
And speaking of Abit, it's because of them and other second-tier mobo makers exiting the market that the big four can scrape by for the next three years, Lu says, but then something has to give. If Lu's prediction comes true, the question is, who will be the one to leave? Ironically, it's MSI who seems poised to fall if looking strictly at motherboard shipments. In 2008, Asus shipped around 21 million mobos, the same amount as ECS. Gigabyte trailed slightly behind at 19 million, and MSI was the least active shipping around 16 million.