Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Microsoft Office and Word Sales to be Banned

Microsoft word 2007Practically everybody that uses a computer more than likely uses Microsoft Office. But what if one day you could no longer buy the popular Microsoft Office? Well that may be closer to a reality then many people might think. That's right, the U.S. Supreme Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has just upheld a decision that would ban the sales of Microsoft Word and Office starting January 11, 2010.

Way back in May, a patent infringement suit was filed by XML specialists i4i against Microsoft under the circumstances that Word's handling of.xml, .docx and .docm files was an infringement on i4i's patented XML handling algorithms. Although Microsoft did lose this case, the case against further sale of Microsoft Word was put on hold pending results of another appeal.

Unfortunately for Microsoft they lost again and it is expected that the company will appeal once more as well as submit a request for the injunction to be put on hold and taken to the Supreme Court or for Microsoft and i4i to settle. i4i isn't patent greedy or trying to tear down Microsoft or anything like that however.

i4i is a 30 person database design company which shipped one of the first ever XML plugins for Office. i4i is also credited with being responsible for revamping the whole USPTO database around XML so that it would be compatible with the 2000 version of Microsoft Word. The patents that i4i is suing over, surprisingly enough, do not cover XML itself. Instead they cover the specific algorithms used to read and write custom XML. This means all you OpenOffice users can breathe a sigh of relief because i4i stated that the law suit does not infringe. This is also good news for current Microsoft Office users because they, more likely than not, won't be affected. The suit is only intended to affect future sales of Office and Word.

Some more good news from Microsoft is that the company is working quickly to create versions of Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007 that do not have the XML features, which Microsoft claims are "little-used", by the injunction date of January 11, 2010. Microsoft also stated that the beta version of Microsoft Office 2010, which is available for download, will not contain the technology covered in the suit. Microsoft is also considering another appeal so for now all we can do is wait and listen.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Intel Introduces Newest Processors

Pine Trail Atom ProcessorBe prepared for a new generation of netbooks and desktops because Intel has just officially announced its newest line of processors. Intel has a new processor for netbooks as well as 2 new processors for desktop PCs. The Pine Trail Atom N450 will be put into next generation netbooks along with a new low-power Intel NM10 Express Chipset. New Desktops will be integrated with the Pine Trail Atom D410 or the dual core D510 which also comes paired with the NM10 chipset.

Intel's Atom processor was designed entirely with small devices and low power in mind. Since it was made on Intel's 45nm high-k metal gate manufacturing process, size has always been small. However, the overall package just got smaller thanks to increased integration and 45nm manufacturing. This means that designs will be even smaller and more compact which means lower costs for OEMs as well as an improvement to performance.

The 1.66GHz chips integrate the memory controller and Intel graphics directly onto the CPU die which isn't too surprising. Atom processors have a done wonders with the netbook market since Intel announced the first Atom processors for netbooks and entry-level PCs back in June of 2008. Intel has well over 80 design wins for the new Atom platform from from leading OEMs like Lenovo, MSI, Fujitsu, ASUS, Toshiba, Dell, Samsung and Acer. Most of these systems will come with either Windows 7 Starter or Home Basic OS though some consumers will have other options like Moblin TM Linux v2 for more customization.

Intel hopes to have at least 80 machines with the 45nm chips at CES 2010. Each one of the chipsets should use about 20% less power than its predecessor. The ASUS Eee PC 1005 PC, which was N450-based, got 10 hours of battery life in regular use. However, there was no performance improvements over the N270 or N280 that were noticeable. However, no official word can be laid down just yet until we can see a few more machines.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Five Reasons to Get New Hardware in 2010

Five Reasons to Get New Hardware in 2010
The year may be wrapping up but computer sales are on the rise. People are looking for new, innovative technology for a number of reasons. If you have been thinking about buying a new computer or upgrading your old one, there is no better time than 2010! Whether you are looking to save money or for better quality, or anything in between, here are a few quick reasons why you should refresh your computer hardware in the new year:
  • Make Life Easier - The newly released Windows 7 Professional has a number of features such as Quicklook 3 and Quickweb which allow you to access your personal information online or on your PC without even having to boot up!
  • Save Time - Newer computers boasting Windows 7 and Intel Core 2 Duo processors run much faster than your old one. Some can run up to three times as fast! Even laptops have large increased power performances with new technology.
  • Save Money - In an age where everyone is working to be "green" and save energy, many new computers operate using less power than the old ones. Hewlett Packard says their new desktops consume up to 55% more energy than the older ones! That means lot of savings on your power bill.
  • Less Downtime - Everyone who owns an older computer knows they spend way too much time dealing with downtime. Whether you're having to call in a computer technician for repairs or rebooting or scanning files for problems, it seems like something goes wrong almost weekly. Newer computers have less problems and in turn, will allow you to be more productive.
  • Special Offers - So many computer companies offer special deals when you buy a computer, you really have nothing to lose and this will only add to your new computer's value. For example, at Hewlett Packard, you receive over $1,000 in free offers when your purchase a new PC and if you trade in an old computer, you can get up to $100 in cash from the company's Trade-In Program.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fresh Complaints for Windows 7

Windows 7Windows Vista was the "new big thing" for Microsoft and while people liked it, it still had its fair share of complaints. That is why Microsoft developed Windows 7, the newest OS for the company. Windows 7, which was released in late October, opened to much fanfare. However, like all other previous Windows upgrades, bug complaints have already started coming in.

Overall, a total of 31% of people using Windows 7 have reported problems with the upgrading process. This number comes from a recent survey of over 100,000 Windows 7 customers by consumer helpdesk firm iYogi. In a statement from iYogi co-founder Vishal Dhar, "Most of the problems that customers have with Windows 7 have to do with installation or application and data migration." Dhar goes on to say that "these are all fixable problems. but they're annoyances and they're time consuming."

A major problem with nearly 9% of users is that the installation process, which takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minuets, reaches the "62% completed" mark and then freezes. Microsoft is, however, aware of this problem and says that it can be fixed by rebooting your PC, going into advanced settings and typing in a code that instructs the computer to ignore plug-ins.

Issues do not stop with the upgrade process though. A lot of users still experience glitches even after Windows 7 is installed successfully. A common complaint is that the basic "applet" programs, programs like Mail, Movie Maker and Photo Gallery were missing. The reason for the missing programs is because Windows 7 deletes them and requires users to download them from the Windows Live essential web site. According to iYogi, nearly 26% of users were confused about the extra step.

8% of users complained that the DVD drives could not be found and another 2% said that they could not sync their iPhones with Windows 7. 1 out of every 7 people reported that the new "Aero" theme does not work but almost 14% of users who experienced problems with "Aero" do not have the graphics capabilities on their PCs to run it.

Among some other common complaints were that there are too many "mini-dumps", an inability to view file extensions, problems with the "Aero snap" feature, changes to custom icons and even problems with the new taskbar. Microsoft thus far has declined any request for comments.

Although there is a brighter side to all of this. Once users have worked out all the bugs, the experience has been relatively hassle-free and those who have bought a computer with Windows 7 preloaded onto it have seen the fewest problems. Dhar comments on this saying, "Customers who finally get it up and running love Windows 7. We haven't had a lot of people calling for usability issues because it's a much more intuitive interface than Windows XP."

But Windows 7 is far from perfect. According to an analyst with Yankee Group, one of the biggest annoyances people have with Windows 7 is that the ribbon menus located on the top of programs have been completely redesigned which means they have to be completely relearned.

Microsoft also got rid of a lot of applications that seemed to be favorites with customers, applications which included Windows Movie Maker. But despite all the complaints about Windows 7, they still do not seem as bad as the ones associated with Windows Vista. Vista was plagued with bugs, software incompatibilities and even sluggish and annoying security alerts. Principle analyst with ITIC Laura DiDio states that "While there are a few bugs, I haven't seen or heard any show-stoppers. In fact, just the opposite. Some Vista users can't wait to upgrade. So far this has been a home run for Microsoft."

The sooner the bugs can be fixed the better but regardless, Windows 7 seems to be a vast improvement over the near disaster that was Windows Vista.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Apple's Mac Mini is the "Greenest" Computer

Apple's Mac Mini is the

According to, an energy website that ranks energy usage and cost for thousands of home appliances, entertainment devices, and computers, Apple's Mac mini is the most energy efficient of all the computers on the market.

With its 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, the Mac mini uses .94W when powered off, just 1.71W when it's in sleep mode, and 12.6W when turned on but idle. According to the website, the energy cost per year (sans monitor) is $5.51 when calculated in accordance with the average United States electricity rates. While this particular model is no longer made by Apple, the new 2.26 GHz is and it's even more efficient. Apple's environmental report for the mini shows the revised model uses only .80W when powered off, 1.39W in sleep mode, and 13.4W when idle.

As far as other "green" computers on the list, Apple computers (both laptops and all-in-ones) were all ranked pretty high. The 1.86 GHz MacBook Air comes in at second place in the laptop category behind the HP Pavilion DM3. Both the laptops cost around $2.39 per year, but the HP had lower power consumption when powered off and in sleep mode.

As for the all-in-ones, eMachines, Acer, Asus, and MSI all came in the top five spots, followed by the iMac at number six.

If you're looking to make a smaller carbon footprint and buy a greener computer, the list at the sust-it website is a good place to do some comparison shopping. Though it's not apparent how often the list is updated, just make sure you know that the computer world is ever-changing and tomorrow, Apple or any other company could come out with an even greener PC.