This is not a great day for developers of the various third-party Roku apps available at the Windows Store. It’s an excellent day, however, for those who’ve been waiting on a free remote control app direct from the company itself. The app is compatible with Windows Phones as well touchscreen Windows 8 and RT tablets, but it’s not designed for mouse n’ keyboard setups. Just like the iOS and Android versions, it’ll scan your network and (hopefully) find all your players and channels, at which point it’ll act just like a regular remote, although it does appear to be missing the new enhanced search function found elsewhere. One other thing you might find lacking is the ability to stream your own choice of web files (.mov, .mp3 etc.) to your Roku box — you’ll still need an unofficial app for wild stuff like that.
Xplore Technologies makes tablets that are so rugged, just picking one up will cause your palms to go all hairy. Up until now, it’s made chunky Windows tablets like the XC6, and slender, less powerful slates that are capable of running Android. The Xplore Bobcat wants to sit between the two ranges, offering the brawn of Windows 8 with the svelte looks of the company’s RangerX tablets. Of course, this isn’t just about shedding weight and size, since the Bobcat will still work in freezing conditions, withstand drops of nearly two meters onto concrete and all of the other tortures most gadget geeks could conceive.
The Bobcat’s biggest selling point is that it’s got a surprising number of inputs for something that appears to be far less capable than its elder sibling. For instance, there’s an Ethernet jack in there, as well as micro-HDMI-out, two USB 3.0 ports, a microSD reader and a micro-SIM card slot, the latter taking advantage of the optional Sierra Wireless 4G modem. If you’re rocking industrial hardware that still uses a serial port, you’ll find one of those lurking beneath a rubberized port that’s screwed down for normal operation. Oh, and there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack in there, obviously. Imaging-wise, there’s the same pairing of a 5-megapixel primary camera and 720p webcam we found on the XC6, neither of which you’d like to use unless you really had to.
Given the greatly reduced hardware, you may expect that performance would take a hit, but we couldn’t see any noticeable stress. Thanks to the quad-core 1.9GHz Bay Trail (E2845) chip and 4GB of RAM, switching between several open apps is smooth, and we certainly found it comfortable enough to hammer out (parts) of this article, so long as we connected a USB keyboard. Display-wise, the slate has a 10.1-inch, 1,366 x 768 IPS display, but there’s no pen-style digitizer like the higher-priced models, so the two attached styli have soft rubber tips and no hover mode. The display only has a 500-nit backlight, so while it’s brighter than some laptops, it struggled a little more in bright, direct sunlight. We also played some audio on the hardware, and found that the single rear-facing speaker can be muffled easily, but provides a decent volume, although it’s too hollow-sounding for any impromptu dance parties.
Naturally, it’s not going to be the go-to tablet for 90 percent of our readership, unless we all decide to become the most extreme of extreme sports fans. But if you’re interested in grabbing one of these, then the Xplore Bobcat goes on sale from today. Price-wise, bereft of build-to-order options like a 256GB SSD and the aforementioned 4G modem, it’ll set you back $2,200. But then, if you’re the sort of rich daredevil who keeps dropping their Galaxy Tabs off cliff edges, then that might be worth a slice of your cash.
Microsoft has just announced Windows 8.1 with Bing, confirming rumors about a lower-cost Windows version for OEM manufacturers only. As suspected, Redmond is attempting to recoup the lost revenue with ads by forcing suppliers to keep Internet Explorer with Bing search as the default browser. However, end-users will be able to change those settings so that Microsoft won’t arouse the wrath of European regulators (again). Rumblings about a discounted version of Windows 8.1 began cropping up earlier in the year, and Microsoft recently announced that Windows Phone 8.1 would be free for 9-inch or smaller devices. Other than the Bing and IE defaults, the new OS is reportedly identical to the standard version of Windows 8.1. However, the OEM cost will reportedly drop from $50 to $15, so don’t be surprised to see a new crop of cheaper Windows devices arriving soon.
China believes that Windows 8 poses enough of a future security risk that it’s banning government agencies from installing the operating system on any of its new computers. In a statement issued last week and picked up by China’s official news agency today, the Central Government Procurement Center has dealt Microsoft a massive blow by stating that all desktops, laptops and tablets must now run an OS other than Windows 8. Consumers aren’t affected, as it’ll only focus on computers used by government offices. It’s a curious decision, given the fact a reported 70 percent of Chinese computers run Microsoft’s 13-year-old Windows XP platform, but it’s believed officials are trying to stop agencies from being left in the cold should the company pull official Windows 8 support in the future. The government will now focus its efforts on its own Linux-based OS, which is an idea it’s been flirting with for a while already, firstly by promoting its use in an official capacity and then by attempting to persuade consumers in China to switch too.
eBay’s mobile apps just got a little more personal. The company refreshed its offerings for the iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone 8 today, unveiling a new look for the apps that’s customized to your habits. The highlight of the update is a new “My Feed” section on the home screen which populates with large photos of items you’ve indicated you want (like this epic collection of 125 Goat books). It looks a lot like Pinterest, with updated imagery that makes you feel a little more like you’re shopping for high-end antiques rather than crap someone found in grandma’s attic.
If you’d prefer to bid on a “Stylish Lion Mane” for your pooch from the mobile web, you’re in luck. Those accessing the site from their phone or desktop browser will also get the new personalized feed. The update isn’t quite live yet, but will launch with the ability to list items for sale from your phone as well as respond to offers and browse through Daily Deals. Because bargains like this $5 unisex toilet bag don’t come along everyday.
When a company sends you a tablet buried under a half foot of sopping-wet turf, you can be reasonably sure that the hardware’s going to be sturdier than your average kit. Xplore Technologies makes computing devices for the harshest of environments, including warzones, so we thought we would spend some time with the company’s latest slab. The XC6 is the most powerful unit the company has ever released, packing Intel’s Haswell internals and a 1,300-nit display. Like Lady Gaga, the XC6 likes it rough, so we grew out our beard, grabbed a sledgehammer and did some extreme computing for our enjoyment.
If the most that you do with your tablet is check Twitter while sitting in a restroom stall, then it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the XC6 is a tad overkill. Since it’s been designed to be used by oil-rig workers, soldiers, census takers and civil engineers, among other dangerous professions, it’s designed to take a lot of rough treatment. Weighing in at 5.4 pounds, it’s got a magnesium-alloy chassis, coated with liberal amounts of rubber over the port bays and corners. It’s rated for IP67 and MIL-STD-810G, so it should be able to handle being submerged into a meter of water for half an hour, as well as hot, cold, sand and extreme humidity. What we were able to do is leave this machine in our freezer for a few hours, only to find it still cheerily working, as well as take it into the shower with us for a casual spot of surfing while we rinsed ourselves clean. Reportedly, this unit is able to withstand drops from seven feet onto concrete, something that we tested with glee. There’s a 5-megapixel camera on the back with a fixed focal length that’s great for taking pictures of barcodes, and useless for anything else. There’s a 720p front-facer, which is perfectly acceptable for Skype chats, but not much else.
Despite the austere construction, there are a few surprising additions to the input list, with Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI-out alongside the usual complement of a fingerprint scanner, a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. In order to ensure that the device can withstand gloves and extreme temperatures, Xplore has eschewed a capacitive touchscreen in favor of a heavy-duty resistive one. Thankfully, there’s a pair of styluses available that’ll help you navigate around the device, and while it can work with gloves, it’ll require a hefty press. We did find that gestures in Windows 8 (for the Charms Bar) didn’t work unless we used the stylus, unfortunately. That 1,300-nit display is also strong enough to hold its own in direct sunlight, making it much more visible than the average laptop in similar conditions — although it’s by no means comfortable if you’re without shade for long periods of time. Another thing that we noticed is an odd amount of ghosting, with the previous screens lingering on the display as we flicked between various applications.
We didn’t have time to run any in-depth battery life tests, but were able to run the XC6 through 3DMark 11 to offer us some indication of its ability to handle tasks. You may be surprised to learn that it managed to crank out benchmarks of E1,801, P898 and X299 — figures that put it very close to Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro. Given that it’s packing a 1.9GHz Haswell Core i5-4300U with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD, we can be sure that while it may look like a piece of farm equipment, it’s certainly no tractor. It’s launching today, with the base model setting you back a whopping $5,299 — and more if you want to add in a Core i7 or other accessories like a card reader, or, who knows, maybe a rocket launcher.
Remember all those Windows 8 screenshots that surfaced before the platform was released? Well, some of those might have been courtesy of Alex Kibkalo, an ex-Microsoft employee who was just arrested for stealing and leaking company secrets. Unlike the HTC execs who reportedly stole trade secrets to run a new firm, though, Kibkalo allegedly leaked info to a French tech blogger for something akin to revenge — he was apparently angry over receiving a poor performance review when he was still with Microsoft. According to Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the accused sent the blogger (whom he met on a forum) parts of Windows 8′s code and Microsoft’s Activation Server Software Development Kit. While Kibkalo’s charging paper states that the blogger only posted Windows 8 screenshots, Microsoft believes its former employee also encouraged him to share the development kit online. He supposedly wanted that to happen so hackers can use the kit (one of Microsoft’s defenses against software piracy) to crack the company’s products.
If you’re wondering how exactly the accused got caught, it’s because the blogger contacted Microsoft in September 2012 to verify the Windows 8 code Kibkalo sent. When Redmond determined its authenticity, investigators looked through the blogger’s Hotmail account and instant messenger, where they found incriminating emails and chat logs. In one of those sessions, the accused even claimed that he broke into one of the company’s buildings in an attempt to copy a server. Kibkalo’s now facing criminal charges for this particular offense, but according to investigators, he also bragged about leaking Windows 7 files in the past.
[Image credit: Victor/Flickr]
Source: Seattle PI
We hope you weren’t eagerly anticipating a finished release of Firefox for Windows 8 — despite releasing a beta of the browser just last month, Mozilla has cancelled the project. There just aren’t enough testers using the new interface to justify shipping a completed version, the developer says. It’s concerned that the missing feedback could lead to a buggy release that requires too much repair work. Pre-release code will still be available, and Mozilla isn’t ruling out a change of heart in the future. For now, though, Windows 8 users will have to switch to a rival like Chrome if they want a touch-friendly alternative to Internet Explorer.
Via: The Next Web
Source: Mozilla Future Releases
Let’s say you bought a new laptop and wanted to check out a few videos that you legally downloaded without leaving Windows 8′s touch-focused UI — until now, your options have been pretty limited. If you’re feeling a little adventurous though, the beta version of VLC’s media player that Microsoft News spotted on Redmond’s app store should do the trick. It’s an experimental port of the Windows RT app, however, and as such the application has a few hurdles to clear before it’s ready for prime time. General sluggishness compared to the desktop version and some audio bugs, for instance, are a few issues that may crop up. Developer VideoLAN says that this version isn’t nearly as stable as it should be (it is a beta, after all), but that hasn’t stopped you from downloading its apps before, has it?
VLC for Windows 8 first beta: http://t.co/CxDfE2gfNi
- VideoLAN (@videolan) March 12, 2014
Via: Microsoft News
Back in May, Microsoft announced over 100 million sales of Windows 8, but how much progress has the software made now that we’re in 2014? Today the company reported shipment of more than 200 million Windows 8 licenses. As usual, Microsoft didn’t specify whether or not that figure includes Windows RT licenses as well.
Naturally, those numbers mean nothing without context. Compared to Windows 7 sales a few years back, the latest-gen operating system is lagging. Windows 7 passed the 240 million mark within its first 12 months on the market, while Windows 8 is just hitting 200 million after more than 15 months of availability. Several reasons factor into Windows 8′s slower pace — among them lackluster sales of Microsoft’s Surface tablets and a shortage of touch- and tablet-optimized apps. The company hasn’t said much about the upcoming Windows 8.1 Update 1, but rumors point to better compatibility with budget tablets and an interface that favors the classic desktop over the Start screen. Look for that update to hit the market in April.