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Microsoft is gearing up to go global with cheaper Smartphones in emerging markets.

The Redmond software giant announced at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona Sunday that it is relaxing restrictions on Windows devices, which will permit manufacturers to produce less costly handsets for emerging markets.

As part of it plan to go global, Microsoft is partnering with nine new companies: well known firms such as Foxconn, Lenovo, LG and ZTE, as well as Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, Lava (Xolo) and Longcheer.

Windows Phone Nokia Lumia 620

Windows Phone Nokia Lumia 620

All together, Windows phone partners now encompass 56 percent of the global Smartphone market, according to IDC.

“This is exciting news for phone buyers around the world,” a blog post by corporate vice-president and manager for the Windows phone program Joe Belfiore said.

“With seven of the top 10 global OEMs—in addition to some of the leading brands in China, India and Taiwan— now collaborating with Windows Phone, you can expect to see an incredible new range of devices across screen sizes and price points. And of course we’re committed to delivering this device diversity without compromising the consistent, designed-around-you Windows phone experience our users have grown to love.”

To go along with the more extensive number of manufacturers creating Windows phones, Microsoft announced it is adding support for more Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, including LTE and non-LTE chips. Soft keys and dual SIMs will also be supported “where our partners want it for their devices.”

“One nice benefit of these additions is that many hardware vendors will be able to use the same hardware for both Android and Windows Phone devices,” Belfiore said.

Microsoft is also “working closely” with Qualcomm to aid manufacturers across the globe to build Windows handsets via Qualcomm’s Reference Design (QRD) program.

The software giant’s launch of the Windows Hardware Partner Portal, meanwhile, will hand its hardware partners direct access to the tools and content needed to build and market Windows devices efficiently and cost-effectively.

Belfiore also announced an update to Windows 8.1 is coming this spring.

“We are making improvements to the user interface that will naturally bridge touch and desktop, especially for our mouse and keyboard users,” he said.

“We have a number of targeted UI improvements that keep our highly satisfying touch experience intact, but that make the UI more familiar and more convenient for users with mouse/keyboard. Don’t worry, we still love and believe in touch… but you’ll like how much more smooth and convenient these changes make mouse and keyboard use.”

Enterprise customers can expect enhanced support courtesy of a few small changes such as improvements to IE8 compatibility in Internet Explorer 11.

Post from: SiteProNews: Webmaster News & Resources

Microsoft Announces Plan to Take Windows Phones Worldwide


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Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

The post Microsoft Announces Plan to Take Windows Phones Worldwide appeared first on SiteProNews.

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Two events in the telecommunications and cable world this week have highlighted why, exactly, we need net neutrality and stronger protections for consumer rights. First, on the cable side of the business, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Eagle Communications, and Comcast have collectively introduced a bill into the Kansas legislature that prevents any city from rolling out any broadband infrastructure unless said area is completely cut off from the grid.

Critically, the bill also claims that a municipality is “providing a video, telecommunications or broadband service” if it works through intermediaries, partnerships, on contract, or through resale. It would bar the use of eminent domain for the purpose of providing better service to a city's citizens. And not incidentally, it makes Google Fiber effectively illegal. “Unserved areas” are an exception to these policies, except, under the bill's language, an “unserved area” is an area within city boundaries where 90% of people cannot achieve the minimum defined broadband speed according to the FCC. Since satellite Internet technically covers nearly everywhere these days, even if the caps are low and the speeds typically terrible, this means there are precious few “unserved areas” in the contiguous United States.

This is an example of how the FTC dropped the ball when it came to setting the definition of broadband. By picking a pitifully low 4Mbps threshold, virtually everything can qualify as broadband, even when actual performance is nothing like what an urban user would actually expect. As a practical example, here's a map of Kansas showing total wired and wireless access above 3Mbps.

And here's a map of Kansas showing DOCSIS 3.0 rollouts. It's an older map from late 2012, which means the situation may have improved somewhat, but telecoms have dragged out the DOCSIS 3.0 rollout nearly everywhere.

The difference is in how you define “broadband.”

The bill would outlaw public/private partnerships, open access approaches, and the partnership that brought Google Fiber to Kansas City. It doesn't have a single sponsor, but was proposed by John Federico, president of the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association. As Ars Technica writes, the bill has exploded in controversy as a blatant attempt by the cable companies to outlaw competition.

AT&T Attacks Net Neutrality Through Patents

Meanwhile, AT&T has been quietly assembling a patent portfolio for itself that simultaneously attacks net neutrality and consumer rights. The company applied for a patent titled “Prevention Of Bandwidth Abuse Of A Communications System” in October 2012; the patent was actually published in September, 2013. The abstract reads, in part:

A user of a communications network is prevented from consuming an excessive amount of channel bandwidth by restricting use of the channel in accordance with the type of data being downloaded to the user. The user is provided an initial number of credits. As the user consumes the credits, the data being downloaded is checked to determine if is permissible or non-permissible. Non-permissible data includes file-sharing files and movie downloads if user subscription does not permit such activity. If the data is permissible, the user is provided another allotment of credits equal to the initial allotment. If the data is non-permissible, the user is provided an allotment of credits less than the initial allotment.

This is actually a profoundly stupid move on AT&T's part, for multiple reasons. Current American copyright law shields online services and ISPs from the actions of their users unless a content owner can prove that the company knew about the infringement and did nothing to stop it. This is known as the “safe harbor” provision of the DMCA. If you're an AT&T customer and you upload a movie to a video service, AT&T isn't liable for the contents of that video because AT&T had to way of knowing that the video bits infringed on copyright owner rights.

Once you have the ability to “know” what all the bits contain, however, you're liable for stopping their transmission. So what AT&T is attempting to patent here is a classic case of eating your cake and having it to. They can penalize you for burning bandwidth in an unapproved activity, or you can just buy Netflix and pay an extra fee so that your data won't count against your broadband cap.

The telecommunications industry is not our friends. These are organizations looking to lock in profits and lock out competition in ways that would've made Ma Bell blush. 

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    Dell, the third biggest PC manufacturer in the world, could be a private company by the time the weekend is over. While most of use are planning Super Bowl parties (go 49ers!), Dell founder and chief executive officer Michael Dell, along with private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, are trying to finalize a a potential $ 24 billion deal that would shift majority control of the PC maker to its founder.

    Silver Lake and Microsoft would then become minority investors, with Michael Dell owning 51 percent of the company. Why go private?

    One of the main reasons is it would allow Michael Dell and his partners to transform the computer company however they see fit and without having to answer to a Board of Directors who might not agree with whatever strategy is put in place. Outside of Lenovo, most OEMs are struggling in the PC market, as consumers have turned their attention to mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones.

    Dell Monitor
    Image Source: Flickr (Axel Schwenke)

    Michael Dell hasn't said what specifically he would do differently if he had unfettered control (and he's not talking about the potential buyout at all), though towards the end of 2011, he went on record calling the post PC era talk “complete nonsense.”

    “There are a billion a half PCs n the world and while Gartner changes their estimate here and there, they also estimate there will be two billion PCs in the world by 2014. So when I took at that, I think the idea that the PC is no longer here is complete nonsense,” Michael Dell told the Financial Times in an interview.

    It's hard to imagine this deal not going through at this point, it's just a matter of when all sides can finalize the paper work.

    HotHardware Forums

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      CES is a blast in part because we get to see and touch exciting technology and amazing prototypes and grill companies in person about the latest rumors pertaining to their products. Yet for as exciting as all of that may be, it’s also a time for companies to simply look us in the eye and proudly show off their latest wares, whether they’re headline-grabbers or just solid updates to existing product lines.

      Dell fell into the latter camp this year for the most part, showing off their latest products to us away from the bustle of the show floor, at a quiet restaurant banquet room down the road. (We do enjoy pounding the pavement on the show floor, but it was nice to not have to shout to be heard for a while.)

      The company’s new offerings include several Inspiron laptops and a version of its Latitude 10 tablet, and although the designs are eye-catching and lovely to hold, the best features are the prices.

      Dell Inspiron 15
      Dell Inspiron 15

      Dell’s Inspiron 15 and 17 notebooks starts at a mere $ 399 and $ 499, respectively, and even the sexier Inspiron 15R and 17R models start at $ 549 and $ 699.

      The base model of the 15.6-inch Inspiron 15 features a Sandy Bridge Intel Core i3-2365M (1.4GHz) processor, 4GB of DDR3-1600MHz RAM, Intel HD graphics, and up to a 500GB (5400 RPM) hard drive. There’s also a 1MP webcam, a DVD+/- optical drive, stereo speakers, WiFi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports (two each), HDMI, and an 8-in-1 card reader. The Inspiron 17 offers a better CPU (the Ivy Bridge Intel Core i3-3217U processor at 1.8 GHz) and a bigger 17.3-inch display but otherwise offers nearly identical specs and features.

      Dell Inspiron R family
      Dell Inspiron R family

      The least expensive Inspiron 15R can be configured with an Intel Core i3-3217U (Ivy Bridge) chip, but you can also configure it with up to an Intel Core i7-3517U. Other specs include 6GB or 8GB of DDR3-1600MHZ RAM, integrated HD graphics, up to a 1TB (5400 RPM) hard drive, DVD+/-RW optical drive, 1MP webcam, WiFi and Bluetooth, and the same ports mentioned above. On the top end, the Inspiron 17R also boasts a 17.3-inch HD+ (1600×900) display and up to an Intel Core i7-3517U (Ivy Bridge, 3GHz) processor.

      Dell Inspiron R
      Dell Inspiron R

      After seeing them in person, we have to say that the Inspiron R-series are beautiful, moreso than in the photos you see. They immediately make you want to pick them up. Dell told us that they spent a great deal of R&D resources developing lappies that looked amazing yet offered those little extras such as fingerprint-resistant surfaces, and indeed, the brushed metal finish looks clean and svelte even after being aggressively fondled.

      All of these Inspiron laptops come with Windows 8.

      The other main feature of Dell’s new lineup is aimed at the enterprise with the new Latitude 10 Essentials Configuration. Dell bills this device as “the first full-featured, enterprise-ready Windows 8 tablet experience at a price below $ 500 (US)”, calling it ideal for schools and small businesses due primarily to its ability to snap right into existing IT environments.

      Dell Latitude 10 tablet
      Dell Latitude 10 tablet

      The essentials configuration is “essentially” the same as the standard Latitude 10 and features 2GB of DDR2 RAM, 64GB of SSD storage, Intel Atom Z2760 (1.8GHz) processor, 10.1-inch (1366×768) display, and 720p HD front-facing and 8MP rear cameras.

      Most notably, this is a tablet that can run Windows 8 Pro starting at $ 603.50; a 32GB version is coming as well, and that will start at $ 499 with Windows 8. And of course, there’s a slew of accessories you can add on, including a dock that adds several I/O ports, a nice stand for the tablet, and thus the ability to plug in any mouse/keyboard combo you want.

      HotHardware Forums

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        Dell used to be a company with a clever sales strategy that sold PCs, but it has increasingly focused on the IT/data center market. Dell has proved that as of late with a slew of acquisitions (a dozen just in the last year or so) and a substantial investment in R&D, and today it announced new enterprise solutions based around the idea of speed and simplicity.

        Dell’s concept of IT is that it is now completely intertwined with the business side of a company and that a company’s IT infrastructure is a crucial part of an organization’s ability to compete and adjust in these rapidly changing times. The slow guy, the one who adapts last, loses.

        To that end, Dell introduced an end-to-end suite of enterprise tools geared for “simplified management, increased performance and superior long term value” with 10GbE support that alleges to boost IT performance by factor of 10.

        The suite consists of several components, including Dell’s 12th-generation PowerEdge Servers, with 2nd-generation embedded systems management for handling lifecycle information; Dell EqualLogic PS6110 and PS4110 storage arrays; and Dell’s Virtual Network Architecture (VNA). Dell’s vStart for Dell Private Cloud, which is designed to help companies quickly deploy their own private cloud, desktop virtualization tools for easy PC management and security, and business intelligence delivery with the Dell Quickstart Data Warehouse Appliance, which is specifically designed for mid-market and departmental users.

        Most of the parts of the suite are available today, including the EqualLogic storage arrays, Desktop Virtualization Solutions, and 10GbE VNA components, while the new PowerEdge Servers are coming “in the near future”. Presumably, that will be within weeks, as Dell has vStart and the Quickstart Data Warehouse Appliance (the latter of which is in beta) pegged for release in Q2 2012.

        Dell is wise to fight hard in the IT space; data drives everything these days, from personal data to proprietary knowledge to market research to handling data in the cloud, and whoever figures out the fastest, safest, and most effective way of turning that data into profitability (however you want to define that) for companies will find success.

        Dell looks to be all in; the company has conducted extensive market research, created an entire software group dedicated to developing these tools further, spent freely on acquisitions, and doubled the size of its enterprise business in the last year.

        HotHardware Forums