microsoft en Microsoft Now Says Not All Lumia Phones Will Receive Windows 10 Update <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_10_phone.jpg" alt="Windows 10 Phone" title="Windows 10 Phone" width="228" height="203" style="float: right;" />Microsoft jumped the gun on Twitter</h3> <p>There's a lot of buzz and excitement surrounding Windows 10 at the moment, which is understandable since Microsoft just finished revealing a bunch of extra details at a scheduled press event. However, if you direct your attention to Microsoft's Lumia Conversations blog, there's a bit of a buzz-kill for Windows Phone owners. Specifically, <strong>Microsoft said that not all Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices will see an upgrade to Windows 10</strong>, even though it previously said they would.</p> <p>"We’re making it as easy as possible to get Windows 10. Windows 10 has been designed to run well on today’s Lumia phones. Like any upgrade to a new platform, not every phone will upgrade or support all possible Windows 10 features, and certain features and experiences will require more advanced future hardware," <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft said</a>. "Our goal is for the majority of the Lumia phones running Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 to join the Windows ecosystem along with an expected hundreds of millions of PCs, tablets and other devices running the next generation of Windows."</p> <p>Back in November of last year, Microsoft was saying something different on its Lumia Twitter account.</p> <p>"There will be Windows 10 upgrades for all Windows Phone devices. And will we will release new Windows 10 models in the future!," Microsoft tweeted, adding an smiley emoticon for good measure.</p> <p>It's not clear which devices won't see an upgrade to Windows 10, only that some won't make the cut. That's disappointing, both because Microsoft set a contrary expectation two months ago, and also because this isn't the first time owners of older Windows Phone owners have been left behind when a new OS came out.</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> lumia microsoft mobile operating system OS smartphone Software windows 10 windows phone 8 News Fri, 23 Jan 2015 17:54:04 +0000 Paul Lilly 29304 at What Impact Will HoloLens Have on PC Gaming? <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/hololens_holobuild2.jpg" alt="HoloLens Holobuild" title="HoloLens Holobuild" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />When physical and virtual worlds collide</h3> <p>Microsoft made a <a href="">handful of revelations</a> during its press event yesterday, such as that <a href="">Windows 10 will be a free upgrade</a> for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users for the first year, and that Cortana is headed to the desktop. But one of the most intriguing things Microsoft talked about was HoloLens, essentially a head mounted display that splatters holograms all over your living room, or wherever you happen to be wearing it. There are several potentially viable applications for this kind of technology, though the one I'm most curious about is gaming.</p> <p>You'd have to be blind, deaf, and dumb, <em>and</em> live under a rock the size of Manhattan to have not noticed the industry-wide push toward virtual reality, especially in the gaming sector. The name that comes to mind, of course, is Oculus and its Oculus Rift headset. Oculus captured the imagination of gamers and developers alike when it solicited funding on Kickstarter, and now that it's owned by Facebook, funding is one thing the project should never have to worry about again. Instead, the big question is when will it be ready for mass consumption, followed by what will the experience be like?</p> <p>So it goes with HoloLens, though let's be careful not to clump the two together. Whereas Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus are VR headsets that cover your entire line of vision so that all you see is a virtual world, HoloLens is different. It's an augmented reality experience, somewhat like Google Glass, though arguably more ambitious. When you wear a HoloLens headset, it fills your real-world environment with virtual objects and overlays, and you can manipulate them. Oh, and in case you're wondering, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is "<a href="" target="_blank">Super excited</a>" about HoloLens, further underscoring that these are different products.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/hololens_holobuild.jpg" alt="HoloLens Holobuild" title="HoloLens Holobuild" width="620" height="343" /></p> <p>Several applications come to mind, like 3D modeling and virtual exploration. And of course PC gaming -- one of the demos Microsoft is fond of showing is Holobuilder. It looks like Minecraft and works like Minecraft, filling your mapped out environment with blocks and bits and pieces that you can then manipulate. I haven't tried it, nor have I experienced HoloLens in person, though I've done my fair share of reading. You can too, and I'd suggest checking our own <a href="">Jimmy Thang's in-depth impression</a> of HoloLens, along with that <a href="" target="_blank">of our sister site, <em>PC Gamer</em></a>.</p> <p>I agree with Jimmy that HoloLens has the potential to be an all-around transformative technology, but what I wonder is if something like this has the legs to excite developers and gamers alike. I'll go ahead and assume that Microsoft hashes out the hardware challenges so that users don't have to heave a 5-pound battery over their shoulder, and that HoloLens in its finished form will be lightweight, comfortable, and truly wireless. Those are challenges on the design end, and I suspect they'll be figured out.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/hololens_0.jpg" alt="HoloLens" title="HoloLens" width="620" height="254" /></p> <p>The bigger roadblock is getting game developers on board to create interesting content, and then convincing gamers that there's something here to be excited about. I'm skeptical, mainly because I wonder about the viability of gamers adopting headsets on a mass scale. I have no doubt there will be a niche audience, but what about mainstream users? Will the price be set at a place where gamers at large can afford to join the HoloLens party, or will this be a high-end experience for gamers with higher levels of disposable income?</p> <p>If Microsoft can clear that hurdle, then it needs to get developers to make some games that go beyond Minecraft. For me, it's a bit easier to envision gaming on VR headsets like Oculus Rift as opposed to augmented reality gear like HoloLens, but I'm keeping an open mind about it.</p> <p>My other fear is that gaming will be gimmicky and that the novelty will wear off after the first few titles. If you own a Wii, you know what I'm talking about -- it's fun to flail about in the living room when you first try it, and you'll quickly invite friends over to see what the fuss is about, though after awhile the 'wow' factor diminishes -- I'd much rather pay Skyrim some attention if I only have time for one or the other.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/populous.jpg" alt="Populous" title="Populous" width="620" height="387" /></p> <p>Still, I'm reminded of Populous and how much fun I had with that game several years ago. I think a modernized version would be a prime candidate for something like this, and since your environment dictates the shape and form of the virtual world that's overlayed on top of it, it would be easy to keep things fresh. A more modern (though still dated) example would be Black &amp; White, another God game that seems like a natural fit.</p> <p>I'm sure there are other potentially fun scenarios, and it will be up to developers to figure them out and then deliver on whatever experience they're shooting for. Though this technology has been around for some time, I consider this new territory, and only by exploring it will we find out if there's something here for gamers to be stoked about.</p> <p>Finally, if not HoloLens, I wonder what other hardware will help shape the future of PC gaming. Don't get me wrong -- I see myself wielding a mouse and keyboard for the foreeable future, but if the HoloLens earns itself more than just a footnote in the history of gadgets, it could inspire a slew of add-ons and peripherals, as well as competing headsets that go beyond the place where HoloLens is currently at.</p> <p>In any event, the short answer, quite simply, is that I don't know what impact HoloLens will have on PC gaming, and while I'm skeptical it will transform the industry, I'm willing to keep an open mind, or at least indulge in some novelty fun (somebody please develop a Populous-type game for this!).</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> augmented reality Gaming holograps Hololens microsoft News Thu, 22 Jan 2015 20:36:31 +0000 Paul Lilly 29298 at Microsoft’s HoloLens Has the Potential to Be Transformative <!--paging_filter--><h3>We tried Microsoft's augmented reality demo and couldn’t stop smiling</h3> <p>Many suspected that Microsoft would toss its hat into the virtual reality headset game. After all, Oculus VR was successful enough with its Kickstarter campaign that Facebook ended up purchasing it for $two billion, and longtime console rival Sony jumped into the fray not long ago with its Project Morpheus. While Microsoft did reveal its own head-mounted display, the HoloLens isn’t competing in the VR space, but is instead paving new paths for augmented realities. We got a chance to try it ourselves and you’re probably wondering, “Is it any good?” Simply put, if it's executed correctly, it has the potential to be transformative.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_rgb.png" alt="hololens" title="hololens" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A prototype sample of Microsoft's Hololens headset.</strong></p> <p>How does an AR headset differ from a VR headset? Whereas VR headsets try to take you into a virtual world completely, Microsoft’s augmented reality HoloLens is happy to keep you in reality. It instead opts to inject virtual holograms into your own real-life world (think the Princess Leah hologram and you pretty much get the idea). “This is your world with holograms,” Microsoft said of the device at its Windows 10 keynote. Unlike the fictitious technology in Star Wars, however, here you have to wear a headset. The HoloLens has a see-through visor, and augmented reality objects are beamed into a rectangle in front of you. The rectangle isn’t all-encompassing, however. You’ll still be able to see around the rectangle. The visual box is akin to you sitting in the middle of a movie theater, in that you can see more than just the screen. Technically, you can also see through this rectangle, considering it’s a see-through glass-like material, but we must say that Microsoft has done an incredible job making the area behind the rectangle disappear. We had to stick up a hand in front of our face to make sure that we could still see through it, and even then it was hard not to focus on the augmented reality visuals right in front of us.</p> <p>While our developer kit unit was wired and featured a chest mount tethered to a janky-looking headset (so janky that Microsoft wouldn’t let us take pictures of it), the company says that the consumer version of the HoloLens will be completely wireless and will not require a separate device, like a smartphone or computer. Nor will it require markers or have an external camera, even though it supports positional head-tracking. Instead, it will run Windows 10 itself and has its own dedicated CPU, GPU, and a new holographic processing unit (HPU) that processes all of these sensors together in real time. Another little dev-kit quirk is that Microsoft had to measure the distance between our eyes to properly configure the headset to our needs. The company says this will be handled automatically with the consumer release.</p> <p>The headset also has integrated speakers that provide spatial sound and a built-in mic that will allow you to issue voice commands. In addition, Hololens has an integrated depth sensor, supports stereoscopic 3D, and can track your finger gestures (provided they are in your line of sight). Activating a command is as easy as holding your right fist one foot away from your chest (with your knuckles facing you), lifting your index finger up to the ceiling, and flicking up and down with said finger. Slightly weirder was that you don’t control the headset’s cursor with your finger; instead, the cursor is always fixated in the middle of your vision, so you essentially use your eyes to point at objects. It took us about five minutes to get the hang of it.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_family_room_rgb.jpg" alt="minecraft ar" title="minecraft ar" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Minecraft-inspired demo looked nearly as good as this picture depicts.</strong></p> <p>At the Windows 10 event, Microsoft showed off four HoloLens demos. The first one we tried was called HoloBuilder. It’s essentially a Minecraft-inspired augmented reality demo. We were situated in a living room with the headset on, and when we looked around, the various desks and coffee tables had virtual 3D buildings and structures situated on top of them. The blending of the real and virtual was seamless and truly impressive. It never felt like the augmented reality objects were inappropriately floating in space, or didn’t have a sense of presence to them. It felt like all the Minecraft castles and farmlands were actually there (albeit in virtual miniature LEGO form). We couldn’t help but shout out expletives at how unbelievable it felt at times; we were blown away. One of the picture frames in the room featured a cavern and it really felt like we could stick our arm into the cave. The 3D depth here is amazing. Another experience had us looking at a short table on the floor. On top of the table were blocks of TNT that we could look at and explode with our activate finger gesture. When we blew up the box of dynamite, we saw the virtual earth open up to reveal magma underneath the floor. This might sound like hyperbole, but it looked so incredibly convincing that we had to step on it ourselves to make sure it wasn’t actually there.&nbsp;</p> <p>The next demo we attended had Microsoft representatives showing off the HoloLens’s HoloStudio tool. Microsoft believes that this program will bring about a “new medium for artistic expression and creation.” HoloStudio is the company’s tool that will allow you to use Hololens to easily create 3D augmented reality objects, using simple hand gestures and voice commands. From here, you’ll be able to get these objects 3D printed. Microsoft says HoloStudio represents a “perfect print preview for 3D printing.” This tool essentially blends the physical and digital worlds. We saw a live demo of a Microsoft employee building a virtual toy koala in under two minutes. The toy looked impressive, but perhaps more impressive is that, according to Microsoft, the employee didn’t have any 3D modeling experience prior to prepping for the demo. He also showed us a 3D model of an X-Wing that looked accurate to the Star Wars incarnation. According to the rep, it only took him about an hour and a half to build it. The company says it wants to make building 3D objects easy for beginners; you won’t have to be a professional 3D artist to construct interesting designs. In the live HoloStudio live demo, the Microsoft rep was able to pull objects out from a virtual toolbox and copy/reorient them with simple tap/voice commands. The software looks promising, but unfortunately Microsoft couldn’t tell us if it would be bundled for free with the purchase of HoloLens.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/dsc02559.jpg" alt="koala" title="koala" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>&nbsp;Here is a 3D printed figure of what the virtual koala looked like.</strong></p> <p>The following demo took us to space—Mars, specifically. Microsoft has been working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs to recreate a 3D rendering of Mars using Curiosity's images. While our physical body was located in an office in Bellevue, Washington, it felt like we were walking on the red planet. When we asked if any of the landscape were computer rendered, the Microsoft rep told us that all the imagery was actually from Mars, and that it was the closest man has ever come to walking on the planet. Suffice it to say our jaws hit the floor. It looked entirely realistic. Never did it feel flat or like images were being stitched together. We actually felt like we were on Mars (at least as best as a see-through augmented related lens can deliver). Microsoft also set up a tour guide in a different room to show us around the alien planet. Our tour guide was golden (picture the Silver Surfer, except gold). This is but one humanoid prototype Microsoft said it was working on. It had Superman-like laser beams pointing out of its eyes (minus the laser sound effects) that would point us in the direction of interesting objects spread throughout the desert terrain. By focusing in on objects, we could use the flick command to zoom in on surfaces. Again, the headset features positional head tracking, so we were able to get on our knees and closely observe the rocks underneath our feet. It was a surreal experience and we could definitely see NASA using this headset for more research.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_skype_rgb.jpg" alt="skype hololens" title="skype hololens" width="620" height="423" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Who knew Skype could be so informative?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;The final demo we took part in had us interfacing with a real human being over Skype. While that might sound less exciting than the other demos, it was actually pretty cool. The person on the other end of the line was going to help us repair a broken electric wall socket. Our Skype helper could see what we were seeing (as a function of the HoloLens), and she walked us through all the steps to fix the socket, connecting wires and all. We had a funny moment during this demo when she asked us to look down at the tools. We did what we were asked and looked at the virtual tools below her video feed. But she asked us to look down at the tools again, and we realized she meant the physical hammers and such on the desk beside us. It’s sort of crazy how the physical and digital are already becoming hard to distinguish in AR. Once we got that squared away, we pinned her video feed to the side of the wall socket (so that it wouldn’t float in the middle of our vision and obstruct our view of it). From there, she was able to give us very clear and precise instructions on how to fix the issue. It worked about as well as someone giving you instructions over the shoulder in real life. </p> <p>It’s extremely exciting to see examples of what AR will allow people to do. Obviously, helping someone fix an electrical socket over Skype is one of them, but you’ll also be able to get cooking lessons from your mom or learn how to fix a car from your dad, and so on. Virtual classes with one-on-one instruction seems like a natural next step. We see a lot of potential here in the professional world, too. It could potentially aid doctors in the ER or help soldiers avoid potential land mines in the field. Then, yes, of course, game opportunities abound. You could potentially do some unique eye-spy or hide-and-seek type games around your house or blast aliens as they start coming in from your kitchen. Microsoft says gaming will be a big component of HoloLens, but it will be up to the developers to push the boundaries of what’s possible with AR games. In addition, as we also saw with the Mars demo, virtual tourism could be a big thing.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_mixedworld_rgb.jpg" alt="mixed world" title="mixed world" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>If pulled off correctly, HoloLens could be transformative.</strong></p> <p>Of course, virtual tourism may be better suited for VR experiences, where you are completely visually isolated from the outside world, and some people were bothered by the fact that you could see through and around the lens. It didn’t bother us, however. It was actually hard to stop smiling at points.</p> <p>When asked, Microsoft was coy about the technical aspects of the device. When we asked the HoloLens’s resolution, the answer was merely “HD.” In theory, this means 720p and up. Regardless, from our experiential test, we didn’t have any major issues with the resolution and thought it looked quite sharp for a developer kit. Of course, we’ll take higher resolution any day of the week, but the resolution that Microsoft is currently running seems ready for consumer release.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_pivotpoint_rgb.jpg" alt="pivot" title="pivot" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>HoloLens could open up 3D modeling for beginners.</strong></p> <p>When will it be released? Microsoft says during the Windows 10 launch timeframe. As Microsoft aims to release Windows 10 sometime this year, you shouldn't have to wait too long to try it yourself.&nbsp;</p> ar augmented reality headset Hololens holostudio microsoft minecraft vr windows 10 News Features Thu, 22 Jan 2015 18:07:04 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29299 at Everything We Know About Windows 10 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_10_wall.jpg" alt="Windows 10 Wall" title="Windows 10 Wall" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />Free, Surface Hub, Cortana and Hololens</h3> <p><strong>UPDATE: We've updated the story to include more info on Microsoft's PC gaming initiative and talked more about the tweaks to Windows 10.</strong></p> <p><strong>Microsoft held a Windows 10 press conference today and revealed a massive amount of details from the upcoming OS</strong> and much more. After many rumors, Microsoft confirmed that Windows 10 will be free to Windows 8, 7, and Windows Phone users...for the first year, at least. The company views it as an incentive for users to quickly jump on board to the Windows 10 platform. Microsoft believes this will solve one of its biggest OS issues for developers, and that is OS fragmentation. Beyond the initial year, however, Microsoft hasn’t revealed any pricing details for how much the OS will cost.</p> <p>Another rumor that Microsoft confirmed is that Windows 10 will support Cortana, which the company is pitching as the OS’s personal digital assistant. In short, the character Cortana is based off the character from the Halo games and is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri. With Cortana, Microsoft is saying "she" is really tailored for the PC experience and you will be able to use voice commands to search for locally stored files or files on your One Drive account. These file types will include documents, pictures, music, and more. In the live demo that Microsoft gave on stage, Cortana was able to provide information on the weather, flight information, and more. What’s quite impressive about Cortana is that her voice sounds extremely realistic, much more so than either Apple’s or Google’s equivalents. Microsoft is also saying that Cortana will be able to get smarter and learn about you. For instance, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore asked her what she thinks the Super Bowl score will be. Knowing that Joe is from Seattle, she jokingly said that the Seattle Seahawks would win in dominating fashion. If you’re a little creeped out by this, you’ll be able to clear some of her history about you. She will also be able to tell you more about any particular web page you’re browsing and you’ll be able to right-click on words to get definitions and more.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/windows_10_project_spartan.jpg" alt="Project Spartan" title="Project Spartan" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>To go along with Cortana, Microsoft is also creating a new browser. Codenamed Project Spartan, Microsoft's new browser will use a new rendering engine and will support note taking with either a stylus or a person's finger. Project Spartan will also let you click on words/phrases and leave comments. You'll then be able to share pages with your comments on them on the various social media outlets. Project Spartan will also enable saving web pages to view offline, much like the Get Pocket app.</p> <p>Microsoft wants to push gaming with Windows 10. "We will treat gaming on Windows 10 with as much passion as on Xbox One," said Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft's Xbox division. In addition to supporting DirectX 12, which the company vaguely stated will run up to 50 percent faster than DX11 equivalents, the company announced that users will be able to stream Xbox One games to any Windows 10 PC over a local network. This includes Windows 10 tablets/convertibles. Currently, the build that the company is using only supports 30fps/720p streaming, but Microsoft hopes to up that to 60fps/1080p by the offical release date of Windows 10.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/windows_10_xbox_one.jpg" alt="Windows 10 Xbox One" title="Windows 10 Xbox One" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>Microsoft also revealed the Xbox app, which will allow you to capture and record the last 30 seconds of gameplay in any PC game, much like Nvidia’s ShadowPlay feature. This includes games from Steam, Uplay, or Origin. In addition, you’ll be able to cut and trim the beginning and ends of clips and share them with your Xbox Live friends on the Xbox app. When we asked if there were plans to integrate the Xbox friends list with Steam’s friends library, the company said it certainly wasn’t against it and said it was in talks with Valve.</p> <p>Currently, the software only records the last 30 seconds of gameplay, but when we asked if there were plans to be able to up the time limit, the company said that was possibility down the road.</p> <p>Microsoft also announced that Fable Legends would no longer be Xbox-exclusive, and will come to PCs. Even better, PC gamers and Xbox One owners will be able to play together online. This is a start of a strategy in which Microsoft envisions cross-platform play. The company confirmed that Xbox achievements will be making their way to PC titles as well.&nbsp;</p> <p>Another sector that Microsoft said it was interested in improving in the PC gaming space pertains to battery life. With gaming laptops becoming more popular, Microsoft says it's working on optimizing the OS for gaming battery life.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/windows_10_surface_hub.jpg" alt="Windows 10 Surface Hub" title="Windows 10 Surface Hub" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>Beyond the gaming stuff, Microsoft went over a multitude of other OS updates. Windows 10 will work across a wide variety of devices including phones, tablets, desktops and laptops, and would even eventually come to the Xbox One in some form. Power desktop users worrying that their OS will be compromised with a mobile OS (a la Metro) needn't worry, because the Start button is indeed back. There is, however, a tablet mode where the start button opens up and shows many more touch-friendly icons, but unlike Metro which was quite in-your-face, users can ignore this altogether if they so desired. Other features include the melding of the control panel and settings menus. The company said looking at the data, users were confused by which tool did what.</p> <p>One of the biggest issues with current versions of Windows is 4K scaling. Everything either looks too tiny, or certain programs aren't optimized for the resolution and look blurry. Microsoft said it is working hard to solve this issue both internally and with third-party developers. Considering that 4K seems to be a mere stepping stone for UHD panels at this point, Microsoft also told us that Windows 10 will support 8K. &nbsp;</p> <p>The company's various software suites will be getting updates as well. Outlook will be getting Microsoft's popular ribbon tool, allowing you to properly compose and format letters from your email client. Power Point will support hardware acceleration for fancier transitions. Microsoft is also introducing a new photo-organizing tool, which will collect your images and categorize them by location and time. This photo tool can also enhance images automatically to remove red-eye, and delete duplicate images.&nbsp;</p> <p>The company also announced Surface Hub, which is a Windows 10 PC integrated into an 80-inch 4K TV with a mic, cameras, and touch screen. Using it, you'll be able to use a stylus to draw on PowerPoint presentations, etc. The Hub is being designed for enterprise in mind and will cater to professionals who use Skype video conferencing.</p> <p>Microsoft’s last announcement was arguably the most exciting: Hololens. Many suspected that Microsoft would release a head-mounted display for VR to compete with Oculus Rift/Project Morpheus, however the company opted to go the augmented reality route. Hololens is a head-mounted display, but unlike VR headsets, the Hololens grants you full vision of your surrounding with a clear glass overlay in front of your eyes. In the glass, you’ll have a video feed that beams on to it in real time. The end result is you looking at virtual objects lying around your real living room space. Furthermore, you’ll be able to use the company’s new HoloStudio program to easily build 3D models with your hands. Microsoft is calling it the best print preview for 3D printing out there.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/windows_10_vr.jpg" alt="Windows 10 VR" title="Windows 10 VR" width="620" height="384" /></p> <p>We got a chance to try the headset and can say we walked away incredibly impressed. Expect a more detailed write-up on it soon. There’s still a lot that we don’t know. For instance, we don’t know how it will interact with Windows 10 PCs considering it is it’s own dedicated, wireless device. We will say that we were pleasantly surprised by it and like VR, it has the potential to be transformative if it’s pulled off right. While no release date was given, Microsoft told us that it would come out during the Windows 10 launch timeframe.</p> <p>When is Windows 10 releasing? The company says it is aiming for this year. When we asked them if it would be coming out during Q4, Microsoft said it hopes to release before then, but gave no concrete date or time frame.</p> <p>What did you think of Microsoft’s various announcements? Let us know in the comments below.</p> cortana Hololens microsoft operating system OS Software windows 10 News Thu, 22 Jan 2015 05:05:55 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29294 at Microsoft to Offer Windows 10 as Free Upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Users <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_10_3.jpg" alt="Windows 10" title="Windows 10" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />Can't beat the price!</h3> <p>Stop whatever it is you're doing and make a fist. Make sure there isn't a living creature within arm's length, and when the coast is clear, pump your fist in the air in celebration. What are we celebrating? The fact that <strong>Microsoft today confirmed plans to make Windows 10 a free upgrade for Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 users!</strong> This is exactly the type of announcement we were hoping for, but didn't really think would happen.</p> <p>Yes, there were rumors that Windows 9 would be a free upgrade, most of which suggested the free upgrade would apply to Windows 8/8.1 only. And then Microsoft did something nobody saw coming -- it skipped over Windows 9 and announced Windows 10, giving itself an out to the rumors that Windows 9 would be free. Shenanigans, we thought. And we were wrong.</p> <p>Microsoft is holding a press event today in which it's revealing all kinds of details about Windows 10 and related hardware, including confirmation that Cortana is headed to the desktop. We'll have plenty of coverage once things wrap up, but in the meantime, we wanted to give you heads up about Windows 10.</p> <p>This is a bold move by Microsoft, and of course a welcome one by consumers. The free upgrade will be available for the first year, giving consumers plenty of time to make the transition. It should also mean that Windows 10's market share will eclipse that of Windows 8/8.1 in short order.</p> <p>Stay tuned folks, we'll have more to come!</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 10 News Wed, 21 Jan 2015 18:31:43 +0000 Paul Lilly 29291 at Watchdog Accuses China of Hacking Outlook Over the Weekend <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/email_hack_china.jpg" alt="Email Hack in China" title="Email Hack in China" width="228" height="197" style="float: right;" />More overseas hacking shenanigans</h3> <p>Weeks after Google's Gmail service was blocked in China, <strong>Microsoft's Outlook email service was the target of a cyberattack over the weekend</strong>, with fingers once again pointing to Chinese authorities. Online censorship watchdog <em></em> said that China initiated what's known as a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack, affecting people using email clients like Outlook, Mozilla's Thunderbird, and smartphone apps using the SMTP and IMAP protocols.</p> <p>Man-in-the-middle attacks essentially entail hijacking an online connection. The culprit then monitors communication and/or alters the transmission. He or she can also redirect users to malicious websites when they think they're headed towards a legitimate portal.</p> <p>"This attack comes within a month of the complete blocking of Gmail (which is still entirely inaccessible). Because of the similarity between this attack and previous, recent MITM attacks in China (on Google, Yahoo and Apple), we once again suspect that Lu Wei and the Cyberspace Administration of China have orchestrated this attack or have willingly allowed the attack to happen," <em></em> stated in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>. "If our accusation is correct, this new attack signals that the Chinese authorities are intent on further cracking down on communication methods that they cannot readily monitor."</p> <p>While IMAP and SMTP for Outlook were subject to a MITM attack, the web interfaces at and were both unaffected, the watchdog organization said. Nevertheless, <em></em> still considered it "especially devious" because the pop-up warning messages that people receive in email clients are often vague in nature, prompting users to quickly click through them while attributing the messages to benign network issues.</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> china email Gmail hacking microsoft Outlook Privacy Security Software News Mon, 19 Jan 2015 16:14:14 +0000 Paul Lilly 29274 at Microsoft Calls Out Google for Disclosing Unpatched Windows 8.1 Vulnerability <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/microsoft_way.jpg" alt="Microsoft Way" title="Microsoft Way" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" />Microsoft views Google's disclosure as a "gotcha"</h3> <p>During the holiday break, Google's Project Zero team <a href="" target="_blank">disclosed a vulnerability</a> in Windows 8.1 after Microsoft failed to issue a patch within the 90-day deadline that Google gives vendors. That sparked a debate on whether or not Google did the right thing, and while many (not all) of our readers sided with Google, Microsoft has some information that warrants asking the question again. Specifically, <strong>Microsoft says it was scheduled to patch the vulnerability on Patch Tuesday, two days after Google's deadline</strong>, and that Google ignored its request to withhold details until that time.</p> <p>"Although following through keeps to Google’s announced timeline for disclosure, the decision feels less like principles and more like a 'gotcha', with customers the ones who may suffer as a result. What’s right for Google is not always right for customers. We urge Google to make protection of customers our collective primary goal," Microsoft's Chris Betz stated in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p> <p>The vulnerability in question could give low-level users in Windows 8.1 administrative rights. Google's Project Zero team let Microsoft know about its findings with its usual 90-day deadline attached, and when the deadline arrived, the team went ahead and posted the full exploit details online.</p> <p>Those in favor of Google's decision point out that Microsoft had plenty of time to issue a fix. They also point out that hackers don't take breaks during holiday periods, so the timing of the deadline didn't matter. However, if it's true that Microsoft asked for two additional days, do you still feel it was right for Google to ignore its request?</p> <p>We know Google's view, based on its actions, but what of Microsoft? Here's what Betz had to say:</p> <p>"In terms of the software industry at large and each player’s responsibility, we believe in Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure (CVD). This is a topic that the security technology profession has debated for years," Betz explains. "Ultimately, vulnerability collaboration between researchers and vendors is about limiting the field of opportunity so customers and their data are better protected against cyberattacks.</p> <p>"Those in favor of full, public disclosure believe that this method pushes software vendors to fix vulnerabilities more quickly and makes customers develop and take actions to protect themselves. We disagree. Releasing information absent context or a stated path to further protections, unduly pressures an already complicated technical environment. It is necessary to fully assess the potential vulnerability, design and evaluate against the broader threat landscape, and issue a 'fix' before it is disclosed to the public, including those who would use the vulnerability to orchestrate an attack. We are in this latter camp."</p> <p>Why did it take Microsoft 92 days to issue a fix? We don't know for sure -- it could be that other, more serious vulnerabilities were a higher priority, though Betz didn't say as much, at least not directly.</p> <p>"Responding to security vulnerabilities can be a complex, extensive and time-consuming process. As a software vendor this is an area in which we have years of experience. Some of the complexity in the timing discussion is rooted in the variety of environments that we as security professionals must consider: real world impact in customer environments, the number of supported platforms the issue exists in, and the complexity of the fix," Betz added. "Vulnerabilities are not all made equal nor according to a well-defined measure. And, an update to an online service can have different complexity and dependencies than a fix to a software product, decade old software platform on which tens of thousands have built applications, or hardware devices. Thoughtful collaboration takes these attributes into account."</p> <p>As the late Paul Harvey would say, now you have the rest of the story. The question is, does it change your opinion of what Google did, or does the fault still lie with Microsoft for letting 90 days elapse without a fix?</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> Google microsoft Security Software vulnerability windows 8.1 News Mon, 12 Jan 2015 16:16:56 +0000 Paul Lilly 29240 at Microsoft Outlines Plan to Improve OneDrive Sync Experience <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="OneDrive Sync" title="OneDrive Sync" width="228" height="164" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Company trying to get rid of multiple sync engines</h3> <p>Microsoft drew the ire of many Windows 10 Technical Preview testers when Build 9879, which was released in November, was found to be <a href="" target="_blank">missing a key OneDrive functionality: “smart files”</a>, which are offline placeholders containing thumbnails and metadata of OneDrive files. At the time, the company said the feature had been withdrawn in response to consumer feedback and some key parts of placeholders could return once it was done making “fundamental improvements to how Sync works.” A few days back, the <strong>company outlined its OneDrive improvement plans</strong> much more clearly.</p> <p>“Prior to Windows 8.1, we had two sync experiences. One used on Windows 7/8/Mac to connect to the consumer service, and a second sync engine to connect to the commercial service (OneDrive for Business). In Windows 8.1 we introduced a third sync engine that supported placeholder files, an innovative capability that lets you access all the files you have stored in OneDrive whilst only using a fraction of the local storage space,” wrote, corporate vp for OneDrive and Sharepoint, Chris Jones in a recent <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p> <p>According to Jones, the company felt it necessary to “step back and rethink our approach” once it realized that there are many people out there —&nbsp; particularly those that use both the commercial and consumer versions of OneDrive — who find placeholders confusing. To make matters worse, the company also found “certain file operations (including copy, move, and delete) had a higher degree of failure when placeholders were utilized.”</p> <p>“It was clear that the right approach was to converge to a single sync engine and experience that would be able to provide all of the benefits of the consumer and business service to all customers faster,” Jones wrote, adding that the said convergence is already taking place and Windows 10 Technical Preview, which no longer has a separate engine for placeholders, is at the forefront of this effort.</p> <p>“There are important capabilities that we need to bring to Windows 10 – some will make it into the first release – including shared folders and support for the consumer and business service. However, others will come in updates that follow later in the calendar year – most notably the core capabilities of placeholders that are both reliable and comprehensible.</p> <p>“For those of you in the Windows Insider Program and running the Windows 10 Technical Preview, thanks for bearing with us as we make these changes and be assured that we have a clear roadmap to bring the best experience we can to you between now and the end of the year.”</p> <p><em>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></em></p> cloud storage microsoft onedrive placeholders smart files Software Sync windows 10 News Mon, 12 Jan 2015 08:12:57 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 29236 at Leaked Images of Windows 10’s Spartan Browser Show Minimalist Design <!--paging_filter--><h3>Rumored features include digital inking support and tab grouping</h3> <p>Microsoft has a special press event scheduled for January 21, when it will finally turn the spotlight on Windows 10’s consumer-specific features. Chances are Microsoft could end up formally announcing <strong>the new "Spartan" browser</strong>, which we first heard about late <a href="" target="_blank">last month</a>, at the upcoming event, though it’s hard to say anything with certainty at this stage. Well, it may or may not figure on the upcoming company’s agenda for the event, but Spartan has already gotten the tech media buzzing.</p> <p>Over the last couple of days, some fresh details have emerged, along with a couple of purportedly leaked screenshots, courtesy of Chinese site <a href="" target="_blank">Cnbeta</a>, that show a Chrome-like minimalist browser interface. </p> <p>The new browser, according to a recent <a href="" target="_blank">The Verge report</a> citing people close to the company’s plans, will have a number of new features not currently found in competing browsers, including digital inking support that lets users add annotations to web pages using a stylus. What’s more, multiple users will reportedly be able to share these annotations with each other using a OneDrive-powered note sharing service. Cortana integration and the ability to group browser tabs are some of the other key features that the browser is rumored to have.</p> <p><img src="/files/u46168/spartan-browser-ms-win10.jpg" alt="Spartan Windows 10 Browser" title="Spartan Browser" width="620" height="361" /></p> <p>You may have noticed that in the above screenshot the browser’s tabs bar and the Windows taskbar are both dark. That is, per The Verge, part of a Microsoft plan to “build light and dark themes with color accents for Windows 10”, à la Windows Phone.</p> <p><em>Image Credit: Cnbeta</em></p> <p><em>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></em></p> browser leaks microsoft rumor spartan windows 10 News Mon, 12 Jan 2015 01:13:19 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 29233 at Google Posts Unpatched Windows 8.1 Vulnerability After Disclosure Deadline <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/google_4.jpg" alt="Google" title="Google" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Did Google do the right thing?</h3> <p><strong>There's a bit of debate brewing over whether or not Google did the right thing by posting a Windows 8.1 security vulnerability to the public before Microsoft was able to release a patch</strong>. The disclosure came from Google's Project Zero program, which hunts down vulnerabilities in software and alerts its findings to vendors "in as close to real-time as possible." Vendors are then given a 90-day deadline to issue a patch, and in this case, Microsoft didn't react in time.</p> <p>Here's what happened. A Google researcher discovered a vulnerability in Windows 8.1 that could give low-level users administrator rights. The Project Zero team communicated its findings with Microsoft, and when the 90-day deadline came and went without a patch a few days ago, they went ahead and posted the exploit details online.</p> <p>"Automatically disclosing this vulnerability when a deadline is reached with absolutely zero context strikes me as incredibly irresponsible and I'd have expected a greater degree of care and maturity from a company like Google," reads a comment in <a href="" target="_blank">reply to the disclosure</a>. "My reading of the disclosure is that it's your average local privilege escalation vulnerability. That's bad and unfortunate, but it's also a fairly typical class of vulnerability, and not in the same class as those that keep people like me up at night patching servers. The sad reality is that these sort of vulnerabilities are a dime a dozen on Windows, and the situation on Linux is pretty comparable. But disclosing it with zero context strikes me as the wrong approach."</p> <p>"Agree with comment #5. This OS is run by billions. Exposing vulnerabilities like this has far reaching consequences. People could get hurt by this and it doesn't bring anyone closer to a solution. I find it difficult to believe that MSFT and GOOG don't have red-telephone access to each other if needed," another reader commented.</p> <p>Not everyone shared the same opinion.</p> <p>"Attackers are not going to take the day off because it's the Holidays. Microsoft dropped the ball, did not perform a security assessment of the new features before releasing them into production, and now have to deal with the consequences," a reader pointed out.</p> <p>There was a bit of confusion as to whether Google even contacted Microsoft about the security flaw, which it in fact did back in September. Google points out that its initial report included the 90-day disclosure deadline, a policy that's been in place since the team was formed last year.</p> <p>However, not everyone agrees with the lack of flexibility in Project Zero's policy, especially when the deadline falls during a holiday break and affects millions of PCs.</p> <p>"We are working to release a security update to address an Elevation of Privilege issue," Microsoft said in a statement, <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>Engadget</em></a>. "It is important to note that for a would-be attacker to potentially exploit a system, they would first need to have valid logon credentials and be able to log on locally to a targeted machine. We encourage customers to keep their anti-virus software up to date, install all available Security Updates and enable the firewall on their computer."</p> <p>What's your opinion on this? Should Google have waited a bit longer, or does this fall squarely on Microsoft's shoulders for failing to respond within 90 days?</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> Google microsoft operating system OS project zero Security Software windows 8.1 News Fri, 02 Jan 2015 16:31:07 +0000 Paul Lilly 29179 at Microsoft to Discontinue Original Kinect for Windows Sensor in 2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/kinect_for_windows.jpg" alt="Kinect v1" title="Kinect v1" width="200" height="152" style="float: right;" />Out with the old, in with the new</h3> <p>It was only a matter of time before the original Kinect for Windows sensor would be set aside once Microsoft had released the Kinect for Windows v2. The new device was released in October and now&nbsp;<strong>Microsoft has announced that it is discontinuing the original Kinect for Windows in 2015</strong>.</p> <p>“The move to v2 marks the next stage in our journey toward more natural human computing,” said Microsoft in a <a title="Microsoft blog" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">statement</span></a>. “The new sensor provides a host of new and improved features, including enhanced body tracking, greater depth fidelity, full 1080p high-definition video, new active infrared capabilities, and an expanded field of view. Likewise, SDK 2.0 offers scores of updates and enhancements, not the least of which is the ability to create and publish Kinect-enabled apps in the Windows Store.”</p> <p>Microsoft plans to phase out the original Kinect in 2015 but says it will do its best to meet the orders from business customers that still require large numbers of the v1 hardware. However, once the current stock is depleted, there will be no more v1 units for sale.&nbsp;</p> <p>The release of the original Kinect sparked interest from the PC community, which resulted in the device being <a title="MPC How to Hack Your Kinect" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">hacked</span></a> early in its lifecycle and then repurposed for other tasks. From being used as a <span style="color: #ff0000;"><a title="Kinect 3D radar" href="" target="_blank">3D radar</a><span style="color: #000000;">,</span>&nbsp;</span>to pairing the device with a Roomba for <a title="Kinect plus Roomba" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">gesture-controlled cleaning</span></a>, there have been some interesting innovations that came about once the Kinect was made available.</p> <p>What were some of your favorite Kinect-related innovations or hacks revolving around the v1 sensor? Sound off in the comments below!</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> kinect kinect for windows Kinect v2 microsoft Gaming News Wed, 31 Dec 2014 20:01:10 +0000 Sean D Knight 29174 at Microsoft May Build a New Browser for Windows 10 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_10_2.jpg" alt="Windows 10" title="Windows 10" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" />Say goodbye to Internet Explorer as you know it</h3> <p>The reason Microsoft is rolling with Windows 10 instead of Windows 9 for its next major operating system is because the changes are so dramatic, it warranted a generational leap in naming the product. That's the official story Microsoft wants us to believe, anyway, and while there are alternative theories -- like lazy coding -- there are parts of Windows 10 that are truly shaping up to be vastly different than Windows 8/8.1. That includes the browser, and <strong>word on the web is that Microsoft is rolling out a new vehicle for surfing through cyberspace in Windows 10</strong>.</p> <p>There's already been plenty of talk about Microsoft stripping down Internet Explorer so that it more closely resembles the look and feel of Chrome, but according to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>ZDNet's</em> Mary Jo Foley</a>, the Redmond outfit is actually building a new browser. The codename for the new browser is "Spartan" and as far as Foley's sources are concerned, it's not an early version of IE 12, but something completely different.</p> <p>Those same sources say Spartan will still use Microsoft's Chakra JavaScript engine and Trident rendering engine (sorry, WebKit fans), but in a new lightweight package that resembles Chrome and Firefox, and of course supports extensions.</p> <p>The desktop version of Windows 10 will supposedly ship with both IE 11 and Spartan. Why both? IE 11 will be included for backwards compatibility, while Spartan will ship on both desktop builds and mobile versions of the OS.</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> browser Internet Explorer microsoft Software windows 10 News Tue, 30 Dec 2014 15:44:44 +0000 Paul Lilly 29163 at Top 14 News Stories of 2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/2014_news.jpg" alt="2014 News" title="2014 News" width="228" height="153" style="float: right;" />Looking back at another wild year in the tech sector</h3> <p>Two years ago, the world was supposed to end, based on the Mayan calendar. And last year, we heard about the death of the PC ad nauseam. Of course, neither of those things happened, setting up yet another event-filled 12 months of technology news that ran the gamut from a major security flaw affecting nearly every website on the Internet, to Blizzard announcing its first new PC game franchise in 17 years, plus a whole lot more.</p> <p>We're more anxious than ever to see what's in store for 2015, both internally (we have a new Editor-in-Chief, <a href="">say hello to Tuan Nguyen!</a>) and of course externally, with a new Windows OS release on the horizon. Prices of solid-state drives continue to fall, graphics cards are getting faster and offering more bang for your buck, virtual reality is closer than ever to being a mainstream thing, and Intel and AMD keep piling on more CPU cores for that inevitable day when software developers finally take full advantage of multi-core processing. It's going to be an exciting year indeed!</p> <p>However, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Before we cross over into 2015, let's take a moment to look back and give 2014 a proper goodbye. To do that, <strong>we've put together a gallery highlighting 14 of the more interesting tech stories of the past year</strong>. It's a trip back in time, if you will, so grab a bottle of grog, sit back, and let's toast another fun year together before we embark on a new one!</p> blizzard features gallery haswell-e heartbleed hgst intel maxwell microsoft net neutrality news Nokia north korea nvidia windows 10 windows xp Features Mon, 29 Dec 2014 17:45:39 +0000 Paul Lilly 29129 at Low Memory Devices Represent Majority of Windows Phone App Downloads <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/lumia_720.jpg" alt="Nokia Lumia 720" title="Nokia Lumia 720" width="228" height="194" style="float: right;" />Handy information for app developers</h3> <p>Microsoft recently revealed some interesting stats and trends about Windows and Windows Phone, and among them is a tidbit that Windows Phone app developers may want to pay attention to. As it turns, <strong>most Windows Phone app downloads come from so-called "low memory" devices</strong>. On Windows Phone 7.x devices, low memory refers to having 256MB or less of RAM, and 512MB or less on Windows Phone 8.x handsets.</p> <p>The breakdown between low memory and high memory devices accounting for downloads is 71 percent and 29 percent, respectively, according to Microsoft. Good stuff to know if you're an app developer.</p> <p>"With 71 percent of downloads now coming from low-memory devices, you can more than double your potential market by optimizing your app to run on low memory devices. If that’s not possible, consider creating a version with lower memory requirements to offer alongside your primary apps," Microsoft suggested in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p> <p>The Nokia Lumia 720 (Windows Phone 8 device) is currently the most popular phone in the low memory category for downloading apps in the Windows Phone ecosystem. If a developer wants to dig even further, Microsoft also released download data for specific categories, with Games proving the most popular, followed by Tools &amp; Productivity.</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> apps microsoft mobile smartphone windows phone News Mon, 29 Dec 2014 15:19:14 +0000 Paul Lilly 29155 at Will Windows 10 Spur PC Replacement Demand? <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_10_pcs.jpg" alt="Windows 10 PCs" title="Windows 10 PCs" width="228" height="178" style="float: right;" />PC vendors are not sure what to expect from Windows 10</h3> <p>Trying to predict the PC market is like to trying to forecast the weather a month in advance -- it's a crapshoot, basically. So, we're taking it with several grains of salt that <strong>PC vendors are reportedly doubtful that the Windows 10 launch next year will stimulate demand for replacement systems</strong>. One reason they feel that way is because of the lingering rumor that Microsoft may make Windows 10 a free update.</p> <p>We haven't heard much on that front lately, but with Microsoft making such a big deal about the changes in Windows 10 and even skipping a number due to the massive overhaul, we'd be mildy surprised (not downright shocked) if Redmond doled it out as a free update to Windows 8.1.</p> <p>Players within the Taiwan-based supply chain point out to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Digitimes</em></a> that brand vendors usually launch new notebook models to pair with a new OS release, though they don't know if that will be the case if Microsoft does indeed make Windows 10 a free update.</p> <p>Market research firm Gartner is a bit more optimistic, or at least it was earlier in the year. Back in July, Gartner predicted that PC shipments could reach 317 million units in 2015, up from 308 million units expected to ship this year. The reason? A "revival" of the PC market due to business PC upgrades, especially as more companies replace their XP systems.</p> <p>What effect do you think Windows 10 will have on PC sales? Sound off in the comments section below!</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> Hardware microsoft operating system OS pc Software windows 10 News Wed, 24 Dec 2014 15:59:55 +0000 Paul Lilly 29147 at