We've heard of pay-as-you-go cell phones, but can the same concept be applied to PCs? Microsoft thinks it can, who filed a patent application in June 2007 detailing a new PC business model. U.S. patent application 20080319910, published on Christmas Day, outlines how end-users would be charged based on usage time and performance levels in exchange for a free or heavily subsidized PC, in addition to a "one-time charge."
While not a rent-to-own scenario, Microsoft concedes that this business model could result in end users paying more for their PC in the long-run than buying it outright. But that's okay, the Redmond company says, because the result would be a PC with an extended "useful life."
"A computer with scalable performance level components and selectable software and service options has a user interface that allows individual performance levels to be selected," the patent application reads. "The scalable performance level components may include a processor, memory, graphics controller, etc. Software and services may include word processing, email, browsing, database access, etc. To support a pay-per-use business model, each selectable item may have a cost associated with it, allowing a user to pay for the services actually selected and that presumably correspond to the task or tasks being performed."
Microsoft says its proposed business model would allow a more granular approach to both hardware and software sales, rather than forcing PC vendors to try and maximize profits on a one-time sale. To give an example, the company points out a scenario with three bundles of applications and performance, where the Office bundle would cost end users $1 per hour, a Gaming bundle $1.25 per hour, and a browsing bundle $0.80 per hour. Alternately, a specific bundle could incur a one-time charge instead of usage-based billing.
Is Microsoft on to something, or on something with its metered computing vision? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
As if AMD wasn't already fighting an uphill battle, the market share slope just got a little steeper to climb. At the top sits Intel, who increased its market share of OEM PCs from 80 percent in August 2008 to 82 percent in December 2008, representing a 2 percent hike in just four months, says The Wall Street Journal.
To come up with the market share numbers, J.P. Morgan Securities uses a proprietary model which tracks semiconductor specifications at Dell and HP, the two largest OEMs, for notebooks, desktops, workstations, and servers. Because Lenovo-USA includes only corporate PCs, the OEM is excluded from the analysis. White boxes are also not included, which J.P. Morgan estimates accounts for 40 percent of the overall PC market.
As has typically been the case, Intel continues to dominate the processor landscape at Dell, increasing its market share from 95 percent in August to 97 percent in December of this year. The tug-of-war between Intel and AMD is a little more balanced at HP, with Intel increasing its share from 65 percent to 67 percent in the same time frame.
Intel's Atom processor has been a driving force in the chip wars, and for the first time appears in J.P. Morgan's survey. According to the report, the Atom chip accounts for 3 percent of the offerings from HP and Dell. AMD thus far has not made a push in the netbook/nettop sector.
Now that AMD has split into separate design and manufacturing companies, do you see the chip maker's fortune changing in 2009? Hit the jump and post your prediction.
Terry Childs, who locked down San Francisco's FiberWan system last summer, will get his day in court on January 13, exactly six months since he went into the slammer for allegedly hijacking the network he designed and maintained. $5 million bail stands between Childs and a 'get out of jail' card until trial.
After an eight-day preliminary hearing, Superior Court Judge Paul Alvarado ruled Wednesday that prosecutors had produced enough evidence of Terry Childs' probable guilt to hold him for trial on four felony charges of tampering with a computer network, denying other authorized users access to the network and causing more than $200,000 in losses.
How much more than $200,000? According to prosecutors, the city claims it spent almost $1.5 million in "attempts to regain control of the network and assess its vulnerability to intrusions."
Childs' attorney claims her client was trying to protect the network from other employees:
Mr. Childs had good reason to be protective of the password. His co-workers and supervisors had in the past maliciously damaged the system themselves, hindered his ability to maintain it...and shown complete indifference to maintaining it themselves...He was the only person in that department capable of running that system.
The case made our 250 Most Important Tech Products, Events, and People of 2008list at number 232. Stay tuned to MaximumPC.com for further updates.
News and review site VR-Zone claims to have seen documents outlining Nvidia's plan to move to a 40nm process technology on its entire lineup of upcoming videcards starting in Q9 2009. On the high-end side, that includes the GT212 GPU, expected to debut in Q2 and replace the 55nm GT200, meaning a relatively short lifespan for the not yet released GTX285 and GTX295 videocards.
On the mainstream level, both VR-Zone and DigiTimes are reporting the launch of 40nm-based GT214 and GT216 GPUs in Q3 2009, which will replace the current G94 and G96 chips. Fleshing out the lineup will be four desktop SKUs for the GT216 and six desktop SKUs for the GT218, presumably representing different clockspeed and memory configurations.
Looking at the entry level, Nvidia's 40nm GT218 will supplant the company's G98 GPU, also in Q3 2009. Meanwhile, Nvidia's IGP line will see the launch of the iGT209, which is set to replace the GeForce 9300 and 9400 motherboard GPU series.
Despite a weakened economy, holiday shoppers didn't skip a beat this year, at least not at Amazon.com. The company reported it had never seen a better holiday shopping season in its 14-year history, which included 6.3 million items ordered on December 15th, or nearly 73 items every second. Between November 15 and December 10, Amazon sold a copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 about every 2.5 minutes. And in a particularly oddball statistic, Amazon.com says that the weight of all GPS devices sold from Black Friday through December was equal to that of 151 Mini Coopers. We don't know how many GPS units that breaks down to, but it sounds like an awful lot.
Nintendo's Wii console remained a hot seller, as did the Wii remote and Wii nunchuk controller. In consumer electronics, Samsung's 52" 120Hz LCD HDTV, the Apple iPod touch 8GB, and the Acer Aspire One 8.9" netbook with 160GB hard drive led the pack.
According to Comscore, heavy snowfall benefited online stores as shoppers chose to stay in rather than battle the weather and crowds.
"Online spending over the most recent weekend was clearly substantially heavier than the corresponding weekend nearest Christmas last year, which suggests that many consumers opted for the cozier confines of online shopping rather than having to brave the severe cold and snowstorms affecting much of the northern half of the country,” said ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.
But even though this was Amazon's best holiday shopping season ever, ComScore estimates that through December 21, online shoppers spent $24.71 billion on the internet, down 1 percent versus the same period in 2007.
Didn't get that iPod, Zune, or other portable music player you had written down on your holiday wish list? Perhaps you need to work on your pitch. When making your plea to your parents, significant other, or whoever it is you're hoping will buy you an MP3 player next year, be sure to let them know it could be a matter of life and death. Let us explain.
Things were looking pretty grim for a skier and a snowboarder, both from France, who managed to get lost late Friday near the resort of Savognin in southeast Switzerland. Being lost in the cold and and snowy Swiss mountains is reason enough for panic, and though the two were able to call for help on a cell phone, the battery died soon after, leaving the two tourists in a chilly predicament. Lucky for them, their MP3 player gave their location away.
"The two winter sports enthusiasts were found by the crew of the Rega helicopter shortly after midnight -- thanks to the faint light of their MP3 player," said Gery Baumann, spokesman for mountain rescue service Rega.
Reuters reports the two men escaped with only mild hypothermia.
If you've purchased a digital photo frame from Amazon recently, it's in your best interest to pay attention to any emails originating from Amazon Customer Service. That's because the online e-tailer has been warning its customers that one of Samsung's digital frames, specifically its SPF-85H 8-inch unit, ships with a little something extra.
"We have recently learned that Samsung has issued an alert affecting its SPF-85H 8-Inch Digital Photo Frame," Amazon writes. "The alert concerns discovery of the W32.Sality.AE worm on the installation disc SAMSUNG FRAME MANAGER XP VERSION 1.08, which is needed for using the SPF-85H as a USB monitor."
Vista owners and those running a different Frame Manager version aren't affected by the worm, Samsung says. For those that are affected, Samsung advises removing the worm using Norton Internet Security 2009, uninstalling Frame Manager 1.08, and then updating to Frame Manager XP 1.082.
Thsi isn't the first time malware has made its way onto digital picture frames. Earlier in the year, some Insignia units sold at Best Buy were found to contain a Trojan Horse payload, with reports claiming several other vendors, such as Sam's Club, Target, and Costco, were also selling infected digital frames.
Windows Vista never did manage to win over an enthusiast following, leaving many eagerly awaiting the release of Windows 7. But while Microsoft's next OS is still a year (or less) from release, you can already get your paws on the beta 1 version (build 7000). Windows 7 beta 1 isn't supposed to make its way into the public sector for another couple of weeks, but leaked copies have already started appearing on BitTorrent, and initial reactions is that it's pretty good.
"This beta is of excellent quality," ZDNet wrote. "This is the kind of code that you could roll out and live with. Even the pre-betas were solid, but finally this beta feels like it’s “done.” This beta exceeds the quality of any other Microsoft OS beta that I’ve handled"
ZDNet noted "exceptional" performance while playing with the beta code, saying it feels faster and more responsive than is typical of beta builds. But what the site didn't find were any new features compared to earlier builds.
BlogsDNA lists several torrent links for the DVD ISO image, which should make installation a breeze for anyone wanting to chance pre-release software.
Outside of mobile Safari, and perhaps to a lesser extent Opera Mini, the mobile browser experience can be somewhat unsatisfying. Poor page rendering, or completely unusable interfaces seem to plague the mobile experience. That’s where Mozilla has seen an opportunity to expand its browser platform, and a market that is still relatively untapped. With the launch of Fennec Alpha 2, Mozilla is one step closer to its goal of a mobile Firefox. Alpha 2 seems to address many of the performance issues that hindered the previous version, and these complaints were clearly acknowledged in a blog posting by Mozilla’s Mark Finkle.
“While we focused much of the previous alpha on getting the user experience how we wanted, we’ve spent much of the time since focused on improving performance. We’ve made major strides improving startup performance, panning and zooming performance, and responsiveness while pages are loading.”
My somewhat unscientific testing seems to backup these claims and performance has defiantly improved. Currently support is limited to Nokia's Maemo based N800 and N810, but compatibility with Windows Mobile and Symbian is apparently well underway. These platforms could defiantly use a bit more choice when it comes to browsers, and many are hoping it will finally give the power enjoyed by mobile Safari users to those who prefer non Apple hardware.
WiMax is a concept that has been around since mid 2001, but North American consumers only really got their first taste of the technology in September with the roll out of Sprint’s XOHM WiMax network in Baltimore. With verified download rates of up to 3Mbs, the technology seemed sure to pick up steam and flourish against its bandwidth impaired, and overly expensive 3G alternatives. Unfortunately, nothing is immune to the economic downturn and a new report from Infonetics research shows that sales of WiMax equipment has fallen close to 21 per cent in Q3 2008 to US$245 million.
These numbers are expected to get worse going into 2009 and likely won’t recover until sometime in 2010. "With less cash available for network rollout - and possibly less spectrum being auctioned until the current financial crisis passes - WiMax deployment will be inhibited for the next 12 months," said Richard Webb, wireless analyst at Infonetics. Despite the storm clouds on the horizon, Infonetics predicts that by 2011 nearly 76 million people will subscribe to WiMax. Currently its greatest concentration is in the Asia-Pacific region, but it is also a cost effective option for developing countries. In North America, it’s currently being considered mostly for urban broadband, but it would also go a long way towards providing last mile high speed connections to rural regions which are currently stuck with either satellite or dial up.