Windows en Lenovo Refreshes Yoga Line, Unveils Yoga Tablet 2 and Yoga 3 Pro Laptop <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/lenovo_yoga_3_pro.jpg" alt="Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro" title="Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro" width="228" height="149" style="float: right;" />Hey look, it's Ashton Kutcher</h3> <p>Why's Ashton Kutcher hanging around Lenovo, you ask? The short answer, quite simply, is marketing. But the longer answer is that he joined Lenovo as a product engineer a year ago and purportedly helped develop the <strong>Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, one of three new products Lenovo just rolled out. The other two are the non-pro version of the Yoga Tablet and the Yoga 3 Pro</strong>, an ultraslim convertible.</p> <p>Both the <a href="" target="_blank">Yoga Tablet 2</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Yoga Tablet 2 Pro</a> can run either Windows or Android. The Pro model sports a 13.3-inch QHD display with a 2560x1440 resolution powered by a 4th generation Intel Atom Z3745 processor (Bay Trail) and 2GB of RAM. It has a built-in pico projector, 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.6-megapixel front camera, 32GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, optional 4G, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 8W sound system with a subwoofer, and up to 15 hours of battery life.</p> <p><iframe src="//" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Lenovo plans to make the Tablet 2 Pro available this month starting at $499.</p> <p>As for the non-Pro models, they're available in 8-inch and 10.1-inch form factors with choice of Windows 8.1 or Android 4.4 KitKat. Both feature a 1920x1200 IPS display powered by the same Atom Z3745 processor and 2GB of RAM. Other specs are similar to the Pro except that onboard storage is cut in half to 16GB.</p> <p>The smaller version will start at $250 and the larger model at $300 later this month.</p> <p>Finally, the <a href="" target="_blank">Yoga 3 Pro</a> is a thin and light convertible with a new watchband hinge design. It boasts a 13.3-inch QHD+ touchscreen display with a 3200x1800 resolution powered by an Intel Core M-70 processor (Broadwell), 8GB of RAM, up to 512GB of storage, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, two USB 3.0 ports, micro HDMI, microSD card slot, and various other odds and ends.</p> <p>The Yoga 3 Pro will ship at the end of October starting at $1,350.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> android ashton kutcher Hardware laptop lenovo mobile notebook OEM rigs Windows yoga 3 pro yoga tablet 2 News Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:32:58 +0000 Paul Lilly 28696 at Windows 8 Market Share Headed Back Towards Single Digits <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_8_1.jpg" alt="Windows 8" title="Windows 8" width="228" height="222" style="float: right;" />Windows 10 will go up against Windows 7, not Windows 8/8.1</h3> <p>Now that Microsoft has <a href="">unveiled Windows 10</a> and is even <a href="" target="_blank">serving up a Technical Preview</a> for curious folks to check out, Windows 8 is already feeling like old news. Some felt that way even before Microsoft's announcement, which might explain why <strong>Windows 8 lost market share in the desktop OS market in the month of September</strong>. At this rate, it won't be long before Windows 8's share drops back into single digits.</p> <p>According to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Net Applications</em></a>, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 fell to a combined 12.26 percent of the desktop OS market by the end of September, down more than a percentage point from 13.37 percent at the end of August, which is the highest it's ever been.</p> <p>It will be interesting to see how things shake out from there. On one hand, it's possible that Windows 8/8.1 peaked in August and will never see a higher share of the market now that Windows 10 is on the horizon. However, it's also possible that Windows 8/8.1 will see a small surge as companies continue to migrate away from Windows XP, though the numbers don't yet support that notion.</p> <p>Since having support pulled back in April (except for firms who pay for extended support), Windows XP has dropped less than 3 percentage points, going from 26.29 percent at the end of April to 23.87 percent at the end of September, a decline of 2.42 percent. During that same time, Windows 8/8.1 has gone from 12.24 percent to 12.26 percent, or virtually nowhere.</p> <p>Windows 7 is the one that's benefiting from XP's demise -- it's share of the market has gone from 49.27 percent at the end of April to 52.71 percent at the end of September, a bump of 3.44 percent. Barring an extreme turn of events, Windows 10 will find itself competing with Windows 7 instead of Windows 8/81.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> net applications operating system OS Software Windows windows 8 windows 8.1 News Thu, 02 Oct 2014 18:13:18 +0000 Paul Lilly 28654 at Chromebooks and Macs Cut into Windows PC Sales <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/chromebooks_1.jpg" alt="Chromebooks" title="Chromebooks" width="228" height="94" style="float: right;" />Retail PC sales rise up on Chromebook and Mac shipments</h3> <p>As we've said time and again, the PC sector is alive is well. <strong>According to NPD Group, retail PC sales grew nearly 3 percent during the 10-week back-to-school shopping season</strong> that went from July 4th through Labor Day week), compared to a 2.5 percent decline in the same period a year ago. Where things get interesting is when you break down those sales to look for trends in consumer spending.</p> <p>Chromebooks drew a lot of attention and led the sales drive with Chrome OS unit sales jumping 37 percent over 2013, while Mac OS-based systems climbed 14 percent. The increased sales came at the expense of Windows devices, which declined 3 percent.</p> <p>That said, Windows is still the most popular platform with a 68.4 percent share of the market, though that's down from 72.3 percent in 2013 and 75.2 percent in 2012. Mac OS-based systems take up second place with a 26.8 percent share, up from 24.2 percent in 2013 and 24.5 percent in 2012. Finally, Chromebooks bring up the rear with a 4.5 percent of the market, up from 3.3 percent 2013 and just 0.2 percent in 2012.</p> <p>Going forward, Windows is in position to reverse course. There's a concerted effort to flood the market with lower cost Windows laptops in the $199 to $249 range, along with a new OS (Windows 9) around the corner, both of which could drive sales up.</p> <p>"Due to the success of the aggressive Windows notebook pricing during back-to-school we could see a much more aggressive pricing strategy this holiday season as the seemingly stable PC volume environment emboldens the PC OEMs and the OS and chip suppliers to make a grab for market share while the industry remains relatively steady," <a href="" target="_blank">said Stephen Baker</a>, vice president of Industry Analysis at NPD</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> chromebook Hardware Mac NPD Group OEM rigs Windows News Fri, 26 Sep 2014 21:13:32 +0000 Paul Lilly 28620 at ARChron Hack Brings Android Apps to Chrome for Linux, OS X and Windows <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="ARChron" title="ARChron" width="228" height="151" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Theoretically, almost any app can be ported</h3> <p>When Google first announced Chrome OS in 2009, among the few people who were polite enough to not dismiss it outright, and predict for it either a stillbirth or an early demise, were those who saw a merger with Android as its ultimate fate. Of course, let alone a full-blown merger, we have yet to see substantial interplay between the two platforms. The best we have seen, all these years down the line, is the <strong>ability to run a grand total of four Android apps on Chrome OS</strong> — and that too is a very recent development. Even now, Google is only working with “a select group of Android developers” and is unlikely to bring more than a handful of mobile apps to Chrome OS in the near future. Well, that’s what hacks are for, right?</p> <p>A developer named Vlad Filippov (a.k.a Vladikoff) has not not only figured out a <a href=";utm_source=pulsenews" target="_blank">way to run virtually any Android app on Chrome OS</a>, he has also found a way to do so using the Chrome browser on major desktop OSes like OS X, Linux and Windows. To this end, he has released a custom version of <a href="" target="_blank">App Runtime for Chrome (ARC)</a>, the Native Client-based Chrome OS extension that enables Android apps to run on Chrome — the APK needs to be converted into a Chrome extension. Unlike ARC, which is only compatible with Chrome OS,&nbsp; the hacked version called <a href="">ARChon</a> can be used to run Android apps inside the Chrome browser. As for converting APKs into Chrome extensions, the Toronto-based developer has released a tool called “<a href="" target="_blank">chromeos-apk</a>”.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> app runtime for chrome apps archron chrome chrome os hack linux nacl native client OS OS X Software Windows News Mon, 22 Sep 2014 06:54:08 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28578 at Microsoft Unveils Universal Keyboard and Wired Xbox One Controller for Windows <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/xbox_one_controller_windows.jpg" alt="Xbox One Controller for Windows" title="Xbox One Controller for Windows" width="228" height="188" style="float: right;" />A keyboard that doesn't play favorites</h3> <p><strong>Microsoft beefed up its hardware portfolio today</strong>, and two of the more notable items consist of a universal mobile keyboard that works with Windows, iOS, and Android devices, and a wired Xbox One controller for Windows. For those of you looking for a new rodent, the company also released an <a href="" target="_blank">Arc Touch Bluetooth mouse</a> and a <a href="" target="_blank">Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 Limited Edition</a>.</p> <p>Getting back to the good stuff, the universal keyboard sports an OS switch that lets you change from one operating system to another while maintaining a fully functional keyboard. That means you can pair the keyboard with up to three devices and take advantage of each one's unique keys, like the Windows Control key, the iOS Command key, and Android's Home button, all on a single plank.</p> <p>It also sports a built-in cover that doubles as a stand for your tablet or smartphone when opened up. When you flip it open, it turns the keyboard on automatically and initiates a Bluetooth connection. Closing the cover turns it back off. <a href="" target="_blank">According to Microsoft</a>, the rechargeable battery is good for up to six months of use on a single charge -- if it runs out of juice, it only takes 10 minutes to charge it enough to last a full day.</p> <p><iframe src="//" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">Universal Mobile Keyboard</a> will be available in October for $79.95 at the <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft Store</a> and other places.</p> <p>As for the Xbox One controller, it's now available for the PC. Like the version for the Xbox One, it sports over 40 improvements compared to the Xbox 360 controller. It also comes with a cable so you can enjoy a wired connection and not worry about battery life; it also works wirelessly, but only on the Xbox One, not PC.</p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">Xbox One Controller + Cable for Windows</a> will be available in November for $59.95.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> controller Hardware keyboard microsoft Windows xbox one News Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:45:13 +0000 Paul Lilly 28545 at China to Microsoft: You Have 20 Days to Explain Compatibility Problems <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/microsoft_sign_5.jpg" alt="Microsoft Sign" title="Microsoft Sign" width="228" height="133" style="float: right;" />Microsoft must issue a written statement to China within 20 days</h3> <p>Around the same time China banned Windows 8 from government use over concerns that there could be built-in spying mechanisms, authorities also began investigating Microsoft for antitrust violations. The latest in China's antitrust probe over Microsoft's business practices has the <strong>State Administration for Industry and Commerce giving the Redmond outfit 20 days to issue a written explanation</strong>. What for, you ask?</p> <p>The agency wants Microsoft to explain "problems like incompatibility and other issues caused by a lack of released information about its Windows and Office software," according to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Wall Street Journal's</em></a> translation of the SAIC's <a href="" target="_blank">online notice</a>. That's an incredibly vague task, though the agency issued the 20-day deadline during a meeting with Microsoft, in which further details were likely given.</p> <p>Citing state media reports, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Reuters</em> says</a> Microsoft's use of verification codes led to complaints by Chinese companies. Interestingly, verification codes could be one of the ways Microsoft supposedly violated China's anti-monopoly law, though if that's the case, it puts Microsoft in a tough spot. Software piracy in China is a big problem for Microsoft, and it's difficult to see how verification codes could run afoul of antitrust laws.</p> <p>Microsoft isn't China's only foreign target when it comes to anti-monopoly concerns. There are dozens of other companies being investigated, including Qualcomm, which China accuses of overcharging customers for its patents.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> antitrust china microsoft office Software Windows News Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:01:22 +0000 Paul Lilly 28458 at Microsoft is Cleaning up Windows Store, Removes 1,500 Copycat and Fraudulent Apps <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/windows_8_logo.jpg" alt="Windows 8 Logo" title="Windows 8 Logo" width="200" height="200" style="float: right;" />Cleaning is good for the Store</h3> <p>It’s easy to be overwhelmed when searching for applications on the various platforms out there. If it is not due to various apps having similar names then it is the ones that are copycats or even fraudulent. Well, <strong>Microsoft announced that it has removed 1,500 apps from its Windows Store</strong> in an attempt to make finding things easier and provide better quality and choice.&nbsp;</p> <p>To this end, Microsoft has modified its Windows Store app certification requirements. Some of the changes made involves the name of an app. An app’s name will need to “clearly and accurately reflect the functionality of the app.” Developers will also need to make sure that apps are properly categorized and icons must be different from other apps so that consumers will not mistake one for another. The policies are being applied to both new and existing apps for Windows and the Windows Phone Store.</p> <p>Windows Store general manager Todd Brix wrote of Microsoft’s progress on the <a title="Microsoft blog" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">official blog</span></a> saying, “These revised policies are being applied to all new app submissions and existing app updates for both the Windows and Windows Phone Store. We’ve also been working on titles already in the catalog, conducting a review of Windows Store to identify titles that do not comply with our modified certification requirements. This process is continuing as we work to be as thorough and transparent as possible in our review. Most of the developers behind apps that are found to violate our policies have good intentions and agree to make the necessary changes when notified. Others have been less receptive, causing us to remove more than 1,500 apps as part of this review so far.”</p> <p>Brix goes on to say that this is still an ongoing process and that the company is increasing resources to speed up the process.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Follow Sean on&nbsp;<a title="SeanDKnight Google+" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Google+</span></a>, <a title="SeanDKnight's Twitter" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Twitter</span></a>, and <a title="SeanDKnight Facebook" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Facebook</span></a></em></p> apps microsoft Todd Brix Windows Windows apps windows store News Fri, 29 Aug 2014 01:02:52 +0000 Sean D Knight 28443 at China Plans to Build an Operating System to Replace Windows and Android <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/chinese_windows_7.jpg" alt="Chinese Windows 7" title="Chinese Windows 7" width="228" height="165" style="float: right;" />China's own operating system could be ready by October</h3> <p>After banning Microsoft's Windows 8 software for use on government PCs, <strong>China is now reportedly planning to cook up its own operating system</strong>. The home brewed OS could see a launch as early as October, and it would have the full backing of the Chinese government. China's motivation in building an OS of its own is to alleviate concerns that imported software from the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Apple could have spying mechanisms built into the code base.</p> <p>According to <em>Reuters</em>, China's OS would debut on desktop devices before expanding into smartphone and other mobile categories.</p> <p>"We hope to launch a Chinese-made desktop operating system by October supporting app stores," Ni Guangnan, head of an of an official OS development alliance, told the <em>People's Post and Telecommunications News</em>, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Reuters</em> reports</a>.</p> <p>China banned the government use of Windows 8 back in May. Shortly after, China began investigating Microsoft for anti-trust violations.</p> <p>Tensions are also high between China and Google, with the former saying the latter has too much control over China's smartphone industry through Android.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> android china Google microsoft operating system OS Privacy Security Software Windows News Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:10:02 +0000 Paul Lilly 28411 at Internet Explorer 8 Support to End in Early 2016 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="Internet Explorer 8" title="Internet Explorer 8" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Per one estimate, IE 8 still accounts for over one-fifth of the PC browser market</h3> <p>Microsoft detailed its browser support plans in a post on the Internet Explorer Team Blog on Thursday. In its post, the company included a <strong>list of operating systems and browser version combinations that will continue to be supported beyond January 12, 2016</strong>, and the five-year-old Internet Explorer 8, currently the most popular version of the browser, is not on the list.</p> <p>“After January 12, 2016, only the most recent version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates,” Roger Capriotti, director of Internet Explorer, wrote in the <a href=";utm_source=pulsenews" target="_blank">blog post</a>, urging all users to enable automatic updates. “For example, customers using Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, or Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7 SP1 should migrate to Internet Explorer 11 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.”</p> <p>Apart from Windows 7 SP1, Microsoft will continue to support Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 beyond the said date. <br />The other versions to which support will continue to flow are IE 9 on Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2, and IE 10 on Windows Server 2012.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> browser end of life Internet Explorer 8 microsoft security updates Software Windows News Mon, 11 Aug 2014 05:21:31 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28321 at Google Releases 64-bit Chrome Browser for Windows to Beta Channel <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/chrome.jpg" alt="Chrome" title="Chrome" width="228" height="105" style="float: right;" />64-bit Chrome creeps closer to a stable release</h3> <p>Here's a bit of good news if you've been wanting to experiment with Google's Chrome browser in 64-bit form but weren't so keen on installing an ultra-early build that might be riddled with buggy code. <strong>Google just added the Chrome 64-bit Beta Channel for Windows 7 and 8 users</strong>, giving curious users and early adopters a more stable release to play with. It's probably not a good idea to use it for mission critical applications, but it should be in pretty good shape at this point.</p> <p>You can download the installer from Google's Beta download pages. Be warned that the new version will replace the existing version you have installed, though it will also preserve all your setting and bookmarks, so there's no need to uninstall Chrome before hitting up the new release, <a href="" target="_blank">Google says</a>.</p> <p>In theory, the 64-bit build should speed up page loads and offer other benefits on the backend, especially if you're a power user with multiple tabs open at any given time. However, you may or may not notice a real-world difference, depending on your setup and your browsing habits.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> 64-bit beta browser chrome Google Internet online Software Windows News Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:50:35 +0000 Paul Lilly 28270 at Cheap Windows Laptops Will Give Chromebooks Competition in the Second Half of 2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/acer_laptop.jpg" alt="Acer Laptop" title="Acer Laptop" width="228" height="180" style="float: right;" />Get ready for an influx of $199 to $249 Windows laptops</h3> <p>A big reason why Chromebooks are selling so well is because they offer up basic functionality at dirt cheap prices. However, what would happen if Windows laptops could easily be found at the same price points? It's a question that will get answered within the next few months. That's because <strong>Intel, Microsoft, and notebook makers are collaborating on entry-level laptops that will sell for $199 to $249</strong>.</p> <p>Citing sources within the upstream supply chain, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Digitimes</em> says</a> that these cheap Windows laptops will enter the market in the second half of this year. These will probably range in size from 10.1 inches to 15.6 inches with non-touchscreen displays powered by Intel's Bay Trail-M platform. Braswell-based processors could also sneak in.</p> <p>There are some parameters that Intel and Microsoft are insisting upon, such as keeping the clamshell laptops less than 25mm. The entry-level laptops must also have battery lives of 5 hours or more, 1-4GB of DDR memory, and either a 500GB hard drive or 16-32GB SSD. And of course they'll run Windows 8.1.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></p> chromebook Hardware intel laptop microsoft mobile notebook Windows News Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:58:02 +0000 Paul Lilly 28231 at No, Microsoft Isn't Scaling Back to One Version of Windows for All Devices <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/satya_nadella_2.jpg" alt="Satya Nadella" title="Satya Nadella" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Understanding Microsoft's unified strategy</h3> <p>Microsoft chief Satya Nadella caused a whirlwind of headlines and speculation with a comment he made during his company's fiscal fourth quarter earnings call. The way he worded some early rhetoric made it sound like the next version of Windows -- codenamed Threshold and likely to be called Windows 9 -- will ship with but a single SKU rather than multiple versions for smartphones, desktops, gaming consoles, and so forth. However, <strong>Nadella wasn't talking about a single OS to rule them all</strong>.</p> <p>The cause of confusion stems from Nadella saying, "We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating systems for screens of all sizes." However, he would later clarify that he was referring to the engineering approach -- having a single team work on all versions of Windows, each of which is built around a common core.</p> <p>"We will have multiple SKUs for enterprises, we will have for OEM, we will have for end-users. And so we will be disclosing and talking about our SKUs as we get further along, but my statement was more to do with how we are bringing teams together to approach Windows as one ecosystem very differently than we ourselves have done in the past," Nadella clarified.</p> <p>That said, Microsoft is hard at work unifying the Windows experience. Nadella envisions a unified store serving all platforms, even Xbox, along with a unified developer platform in which programmers can write code a single time and have their software run on any version of Windows.</p> <p>For more of what Nadella had to say, <em>Seeking Alpha</em> has the <a href="" target="_blank">entire transcript</a> from the earnings call.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft operating system OS satya nadella Software Windows News Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:09:43 +0000 Paul Lilly 28222 at Google Chrome: Draining Laptop Batteries Since At Least 2010 <!--paging_filter--><p><strong><strong><img src="" alt="Low Battery Warning" title="Low Battery Warning" width="228" height="107" style="float: right;" /></strong>First discovered in 2010, battery-draining bug yet to be fixed</strong></p> <p>It seems Microsoft has quietly slipped into the habit of commissioning at least one study every year that <a href="" target="_blank">compares the power-consumption habits of major web browsers</a> and declares the latest version of the company’s very own Internet Explorer to be the most power-efficient browser of them all. Although one can’t take such comparisons seriously, there may be some truth to them after all, especially where the lackluster performance of Chrome is concerned.</p> <p>There is a serious bug in Chrome that causes the browser to wake up the CPU as many as 1,000 times per second even when idle, thanks to the system clock tick rate being set to 1.00ms by Chrome. This is many times more than the 64 times per second usually observed with the Windows default clock tick rate of 15.625ms. Believe it or not, this bug has been known to Google for many years now but has yet to be addressed. According to a <a href="" target="_blank">Chromium bug report, dated September 29, 2012</a> (the <a href="" target="_blank">bug first surfaced in 2010</a>), the issue boils down to there being “no system clock tick interval management.”</p> <p>The bug report also quotes Microsoft on this whole issue of the clock tick being decreased to 1ms: "If the system timer interval is decreased to less than the default, including when an application calls timeBeginPeriod with a resolution of 1 ms, the low-power idle states are ineffective at reducing system power consumption and system battery life suffers.System battery life can be reduced as much as 25 percent, depending on the hardware platform. This is because transitions to and from low-power states incur an energy cost. Therefore, entering and exiting low-power states without spending a minimum amount of time in the low-power states can be more costly than if the system simply remained in the high-power state."</p> <p>Thankfully, Google is now trying to fix this issue and the bug has been assigned internally.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> battery bug clock tick google chrome Software Windows News Mon, 21 Jul 2014 07:38:25 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28200 at Microsoft Reportedly Expands Free Windows License Program to Boost Hardware Sales <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_8_logo.jpg" alt="Windows 8.1 Logo" title="Windows 8.1 Logo" width="228" height="228" style="float: right;" />More affordable Windows tablets could be on the horizon</h3> <p>Here's a bit of potentially good news for Microsoft's hardware partners. Word on the web is that <strong>Microsoft may expand its free Windows license program to include tablets priced below $250</strong>. Up until now, tablets less than 9 inches qualified for the subsidized pricing, though unconfirmed reports suggest the program will cast a wider net in order to get more Windows-based tablets out in the wild.</p> <p>Microsoft's partners already pay a reduced rate for Windows 8.1, and ever since June, they've paid nothing for installing Windows 8.1 on smaller size tablets. Giving Windows away like that reduces their cost by $10 to $15, and with sometimes razor thin profit margins ruling the day, it's been enough of an incentive to attract additional vendors into the Windows space.</p> <p>In addition, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Digitimes</em> reports</a> that Intel has been aggressively promoting its CPUs for mobile devices in China. The hope is that by offering its processors at cheap prices, it will attract white-box players to join the fold.</p> <p>As it stands, some 70 percent of whitebox vendors cooperating with Intel planned to release Android-based tablets in the second half of the year. However, between the expansion of the free Windows license program and cheaper Intel CPUs, that number is set to drop to 50 percent in the third quarter.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft operating system OS Software Windows News Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:41:30 +0000 Paul Lilly 28160 at Best Media Player Roundup <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/media_roundup.jpg" alt="Media Player Roundup" title="Media Player Roundup" width="228" height="214" style="float: right;" />We evaluate a collection of media players to find the best one</h3> <p>If we strip away everything else, your choice of car doesn't matter so long as it gets you from Point A to Point B. However, there are all kinds of factors that separate a hot rod from jalopy on wheels, including price, performance, amenities, maintenance, and more. So it goes with media players, which are vehicles for your music and movies.</p> <p>Like cars, not all media players are created equal. Some are big and bulky, others are lightweight and nimble. If all you care about is the ability to play your favorite song over and over, just about any media player will do, but why short change yourself? Of course, going through the process of testing them all is a daunting task, so it's understandable if you want to roll the dice with a random selection.</p> <p>Better yet, get your click (or tap) finger ready and digest our evaluation of some the most popular (and not so popular) media players around. As we go from one selection to the next, we'll tell you what we like and despise about each one, and then pick a winner.</p> <h3>Windows Media Player</h3> <p>One of the oldest media players around is <a href="" target="_blank">Windows Media Player</a> (WMP). For about the past 300 years, it's come bundled with Windows. Not to be confused with Windows Media Center, WMP was and remains a free a program. The latest version is WMP 12.</p> <p>Microsoft was able to trim some of the fat off of WMP 12 compared to previous versions. Streaming a song from a networked PC while browsing Xbox Music through WMP consumes about 100MB of RAM and barely registers a blip on the CPU (0.3 percent to 0.9 percent useage). It shows that Microsoft is thinking about performance.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/wmp.jpg" alt="Windows Media Player" title="Windows Media Player" width="620" height="406" /></p> <p>We also like the fairly robust CODEC support. By and large the biggest issue with playing back media is that you're bound to run into a situation where you're missing the proper CODEC(s). It's almost unavoidable, though Microsoft made a concerted effort to minimize such situations. The usual suspects are supported -- MP3, WMV, and so forth, but WMP 12 also supports H.264 video, XviD, AAC audio, 3GP, AVCHD, DivX, and <a href="" target="_blank">several others</a>.</p> <p>Due to its integration with Windows, WMP is adept at snaking through your home network to play shared files. This is a big deal if you don't keep all your media on the PC you're using.</p> <p>What we don't like is WMP is only supported on Windows -- sorry, Linux fans! And in Microsoft's attempt to streamline WMP, navigation takes some getting used to.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> Though it comes attached to Windows at the hip, WMP is one of better and more flexible media players available, and it's free!</p> <h3>Winamp</h3> <p>In stark contrast to Windows Media Player, which comes bundled with Windows, <a title="winamp" href="" target="_blank">Winamp</a> (and all the rest we'll be looking at) is a third-party media player, but also an example of what can go wrong venturing out of Redmond. Winamp was a pretty popular program when it was released in 1997, and by the year 2000, it had amassed over 25 million registered users.</p> <p>A year prior to that, AOL had acquired Nullsoft, which owned Winamp. That made Winamp an AOL property, and whether by coincidence or not, later versions weren't received as well. Earlier this year <a href="">AOL announced</a> it was pulling the plug on Winamp, seemingly leaving its remaining users high and dry.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/winamp_1.jpg" alt="Winamp" title="Winamp" width="620" height="431" /></p> <p>Radionomy stepped in and purchased Nullsoft, and as of now, Winamp has a future under its new ownership. As it stands, Winamp is fairly robust -- you can customize the software with skins, tweak the equalizer, connect and manage devices over Wi-Fi, and more.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> This once popular media player is stuck in limbo until its new owners can pump out a new version with promised upgrades.</p> <p><strong>Click the next page to read about VLC and more.</strong></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>VideoLAN (VLC)</h3> <p><a title="vlc" href="" target="_blank">VLC</a> is easily one of the most popular and well-liked media players around. It's an open source program with cross platform compatibility and an incredibly robust catalog of supported file formats. There's very little that can't be played in VLC.</p> <p>The interface appears a bit dated at this point, but if you take the time to dig beneath the surface, you'll find there's a <a title="vlc tips" href="" target="_blank">fair amount you can do with it</a>. Plugins and extensions increase the functionality even further. That said, novice users are likely to either feel overwhelmed, or never be able to take full advantage of all VLC has to offer. This is part because the interface needs a redesign in a big way.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/vlc.jpg" alt="VLC" title="VLC" width="620" height="553" /></p> <p>We like that you can configure a boatload of hotkeys in VLC. These can be a big time saver if you're a media enthusiast, which is definitely something VLC encourages. It's also nice having a "Reset Preferences" button in case you muck things up playing with the myriad settings.</p> <p>Where you decide to stop with your tweaking is up to you. There are tweaks to make increase the volume of dialog without having it washed out by louder sound effects, and vice versa. In fact, there's not much you <em>can't</em> do with VLC.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> VLC may need a facelift, but its true beauty lies beneath the surface.</p> <h3>GOM Player</h3> <p>Though <a title="gom" href="" target="_blank">GOM</a> is another free media player (aren't they all?), be warned that it will try and install Conduit Search (i.e., adware) during installation if you're not paying attention. It's easy enough to tell it, "Hell no!," but only if you don't rapid fire the "Next" button during installation. (Related story: <a href="" target="_blank">How to Download Software Without Installing Malware</a>)</p> <p>When you first launch GOM, it will bombard you with questions about how you want it configured. Most users will be fine to use the default options, though you'll want to pay attention to the selections to see if there's anything you want to change, including a more advanced mode for higher quality displays.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/gom.jpg" alt="GOM" title="GOM" width="590" height="331" /></p> <p>GOM's strength is in its simplicity. Navigating the UI is rather easy. It's also nice that GOM makes it easy to take screen captures of video -- there's a basic screen capture and an advanced screen capture that allows you to customize various settings, including whether you want to take a single snapshot or burst capture.</p> <p>While not immediately obvious, there are a lot of options underneath the surface. You'll find them by right-clicking the main window or by clicking on the tiny gear icon in the upper left corner.</p> <p>Unfortunately, GOM isn't an audio player. That functionality comes through a separate download -- <a title="gom audio" href="" target="_blank">GOM Audio</a>. If the two programs came baked as one, GOM would make a strong choice for our top pick. As it stands, it's a solid entry for video.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> GOM has the interface we wish VLC had, though unlike VLC, playing audio files requires a separate program download.</p> <h3>GOM Audio</h3> <p>GOM Audio is to music/audio what GOM Player is to video. While we'd prefer if thet two were integrated into a single application, if you're just looking for piece of software for your music catalog, this is a great option.</p> <p>You can use the equalizer to fine tune your music to your tastes and/or speakers. If you'd rather not tinker but still prefer a customized audio experience, you can choose between 18 different pre-sets. Curiously missing, however, is a preset for Country -- that's a big omission considering how popular the genre is.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/gom_audio.jpg" alt="GOM Audio" title="GOM Audio" width="310" height="440" /></p> <p>GOM Audio allows you to open up multiple playlists, export playlists, control the tempo of songs, stream radio from the web, and more. One particularly nice feature is the ability to set a shutdown timer -- this is handy if you want to fall asleep to music, but not wake up in the middle of the night to continued tunes.</p> <p>You won't have to worry about system resources with GOM Audio -- streaming from a radio station on the web only consumed around 43MB of RAM and used less than 1 percent of the Core i7 4770 in our test system.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> A great media player for audio, but you can't watch video with it.</p> <p><strong>Click the next page to read about Apple iTunes and more.</strong></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Apple iTunes</h3> <p>If you own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you don't necessarily need to have <a title="itunes" href="" target="_blank">iTunes</a> installed, but it can make life easier. At the same time, it can make things more difficult as well. Say what?</p> <p>Here's the deal -- if you take the time to really learn iTunes and all its nuances, then you can do most things you'd want to do with your mobile devices. The problem is iTunes is cumbersome and clunky, especially if you've never used it before. It's also a resource hog. Just firing up iTunes consumes about 170MB of RAM, and that's before you do anything with it. To be fair, it's not as heavy on the CPU as it is RAM (and hard drive space).</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/itunes.jpg" alt="iTunes" title="iTunes" width="620" height="497" /></p> <p>Apple affords end-users a bit of control on the backend, though not much. For example, you can turn on the Sound Enhancer, but you won't find an equalizer. It wouldn't be hard for Apple to add one, but the company is much more focused on making iTunes a content consumption portal -- while manipulating your library can be a bit tricky, it's remarkably easy to spend money on new songs, movies, and TV shows.</p> <p>While you're encouraged to spend money in iTunes, it's also easy to look up free content. We also have to give props to iTunes for its massive catalog of content. iTunes Radio is another bonus. You can listen to music for free with ads, or subscribe to iTunes Match for $25/year for ad-free music.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong>&nbsp;It's the media player with the biggest catalog, but not the best for managing your content.</p> <h3>Media Player Classic Home Cinema</h3> <p>Sometimes you just want to kick it old school, and that's precisely what <a title="mpc" href="" target="_blank">Media Player Classic</a> (MPC) does. Well, sort of. The beauty of MPC is that is looks and feels like the Windows Media Player 6.4, an ancient release by today's standards but one that was lightweight and super simple to use. MPC brings back those elements and injects modern features into the mix.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/mpc-hc.jpg" alt="Media Player Classic" title="Media Player Classic" width="620" height="470" /></p> <p>Though nimble in appearance, MPC supports a pretty wide range of file formats. It can play VCD, SVCD, and DVD, as well as process AC3 and DTS audio, among many others. MPC also boasts native playback of OGM and Matroska container formats.</p> <p>Another reason you might want to consider MPC is if you own an older computer. You can watch movies on any SSE processor, which means your 10-year-old PC can become a dedicated media player, if you want it to be.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> A no-nonsense media player with an old-school design and some new-school tricks.</p> <h3>XBMC</h3> <p>We've featured <a title="xbmc" href="" target="_blank">XBMC</a> on Maximum PC on a few different occasions, including a <a href="">guide on using XBMC</a> as your media hub and another showing <a href="">how to organize</a> your music, movies, and ROMs. Unlike traditional media players, however, XBMC isn't designed to work within Windows as one of several programs to manipulate, but as its own OS. It's not really an operating system, but once you fire it up, it looks and feels like one, sort of like Steam's Big Picture mode.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/xbmc.jpg" alt="XBMC" title="XBMC" width="620" height="262" /></p> <p>As such, XBMC is best suited for a home theater PC (HTPC). It supports a bunch of different OSes, and once it's up and running, you'll find it also supports lots of different file formats. We're equally impressed with how easy it is to navigate the interface to add and manipulate media, including files found on network-attached devices. It's also capable of streaming over the Internet so you can watch your content when away from home.</p> <p>Being an open source project with support for plug-ins, XBMC can be as robust as you want it to be. It's definitely overkill if you're not looking to run an HTPC, but otherwise it's one of the best all-around media players on the web.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> If you're building an HTPC, XBMC is definitely worth a look. Otherwise, look elsewhere.</p> <h3>RealPlayer Cloud</h3> <p>Several years ago, we couldn't uninstall RealPlayer fast enough. It was slow, resource heavy, and at one point it even served up annoying adware. People who wanted to use RealPlayer for one reason or another were advised to download Real Alternative, which allowed the playback of RealMedia files without the obnoxious footprint and adware.</p> <p>Fast forward to today and RealPlayer is now <a title="realplayer cloud" href="" target="_blank">RealPlayer Cloud</a> with a different focus. It's dubbed as being "Dropbox for video," and that's not an inaccurate descripton. RealPlayer Cloud takes a different approach to media. Any time you upload a file to your personal folder in the cloud, RealPlayer Cloud will transcode it into different formats that your mobile devices can understand. This eliminates the need to transcode files on your own for various mobile gadgets, but it also means you'll chew through storage space.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/realplayercloud.jpg" alt="RealPlayer Cloud" title="RealPlayer Cloud" width="620" height="407" /></p> <p>RealPlayer Cloud offers 2GB of cloud storage for free, plus 1GB of additional storage for you and a friend each time you refer someone. Adding devices nets you an additional 250MB, as does both adding and sharing a video. If that's still not enough, you can sign up for a Silver plan (25GB for $4.99/month), Gold plan (100GB for $9.99/month), or Pro plan (300GB for $29.99/month).</p> <p>You don't need to tap into the cloud to use RealPlayer Cloud, it will happily serve up your local audio and video files, too. And if you want to hide certain videos that might not be appropriate for little Johnny to see (or whoever else might use your PC), you can initiate Private Mode. This will put videos in a hidden folder that's unlockable with a PIN code, as well as clear your clip history when you're finished.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> Forget what you remember about RealPlayer and give RealPlayer Cloud a look.</p> <h3>KMPlayer with Connect (Beta)</h3> <p>The latest version of <a href="" target="_blank">KMPlayer</a> is a beta release that works in tandem with your mobile devices. You input a PIN code and password on, say, your mobile phone and you can access your media.</p> <p>On the desktop, KMPlayer supports almost everything under the sun, even damaged AVI files. There's also a 3D mode. Behind the scenes are a lot of dials and knobs to play with, and while they're pretty straightforward, less savvy and/or casual users might feel overwhelmed. That said, power users will delight in all the options, including some unexpected ones, like Intel WiDi support.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/kmplayer_0.jpg" alt="KMPlayer" title="KMPlayer" width="620" height="325" /></p> <p>This is a big program along the lines of iTunes or Windows Media Player. It also tries to bring some friends along for the ride during installation -- pay attention to those checkboxes or you'll end up with unrelated third-party software.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> A full featured media player best suited for power users.</p> <h3>And the Media Player Winner is...</h3> <p>There were quite a few contenders here -- more than we expected, actually -- but when the dust settled, we had to give the nod to <strong>VLC</strong> as the overall best media player. That doesn't mean you should ignore the other options if there's one you like better. However, we chose VLC in what turned out to be a close race because of its lightweight and no-nonsense approach combined with its wide range of CODEC support.</p> <p>We also have to give a shout out to RealPlayer Cloud. It's not anything like the RealPlayer of yesteryear, and we really like its cloud approach to media. We're all pushing smartphones and tablets these days, and RealPlayer Cloud makes it easy to access all our content on-the-go, albeit you're only allotted 2GB of storage space for free.</p> best Media Player itunes music roundup vlc Windows Windows Media Player Features Wed, 02 Jul 2014 21:08:56 +0000 Paul Lilly 27878 at