Apple to Release Larger iPhone, Discontinue iPhone 5c

There are lots of rumors hitting the airwaves about Apple’s new iPhone plans…

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I watched the Ashton Kutcher “Jobs” movie last night, and while I won’t go into a review of that film here, even with its disappointments, it DID do one thing pretty well – it gave many an insight on what Steve Jobs may have been like at the office…what kind of person he may have been to work with…sorta. The movie, unfortunately, left you wanting a great more than it was willing to deliver.

HOWEVER, if there’s one thing that I do know – did know – even before watching that movie, it’s to understand that regardless of what it did or didn’t show us about Steve Jobs as a person, the iPhone 5c would never have seen the light of day if he was still here.  It’s a shadow of what the iPhone 5s is, and it just wouldn’t have made the cut.

green-iphone5cAccording to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Apple is planning on discontinuing the iPhone 5c this year, due in no small part to its dismal sales and demand for the device.  That, and save its colored, plastic backing and lack of Touch Sensor (and a couple other key, internal components) the device is nearly identical to the iPhone 5s. I say good riddance.  From a technical perspective, the device was about 1/2 of the iPhone 5s. Technically, buying an iPhone 5 would have been a better deal. From a product perspective, in my opinion, the device did nothing but cannibalize sales of the iPhone 5s. The 5c may have had a subsidized price of about $100 bucks, but older iPhones – the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4s – I think would have been a better consumer choice if you were looking for an entry into the iOS ecosystem but didn’t have a large budget. Either way, the device is rumored to be discontinued with the release of the iPhone 6…

The iPhone 6 is currently rumored to be announced as early as June of this year.  The big feature for it is thinner and wider. Current rumors include an iPhone 6 (and for lack of a better name) iPhone 6c with a 5+ inch screen and 4.5 inch screen, respectively.  Both devices are rumored to also contain 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

As far as the implementation or desire of these features in the actual device, I know that Apple is going to be very picky about screen size. They have a firm belief that a smartphone should be easily operated with one hand, so the screen can’t be too wide.  I happen to agree.  While most people use two hands to operate their phones, being able to do that with one hand is an important distinction.  The device likely won’t get too much wider than it currently is.  However, the screen could get a little wider, and it wouldn’t hurt too much. Any more than say, another 1/4 to 1/2 inch wider, though and you’re going to risk a sprained thumb…

As with all Apple rumors, this is pure speculation; and while fun to ponder, these rumors are really nothing more than fodder to make your garden grow. Predicting what Apple will actually release is an art, and one that many, if not most to all, don’t excel in, including investor analysts.  Sometimes, they can be the worst of the prognosticating lot, as they have to deliver for the investors they try to prognosticate for. Dollah-dollah bills, y’all…

As far as what else the device may contain, or what else it may do, I have no idea. Apple released the original innovation for the device between 2001 and 2007 (iPod to iPod Touch to iPhone).  Everything that’s happened to the device since then has been evolutionary instead of revolutionary.  Where they can or will go with the device going forward probably won’t come with such a giant step from device model to device model.

Even after almost 2 years with an iPhone 5, there’s nothing really WRONG with my iDevice. I have no real reason to upgrade it other than AT&T says I can, and I may want <this new, incremental feature> or <that new, incremental feature>.  If you want the big, “I gotta have <this new feature>” experience from an upgrade, then you may want to wait more than 2 years.  Based on what’s going on with the iPhone, it may be that I wait until the iPhone 6s (or whatever THAT’S called) before I think about upgrading.

Now that Q1 2014 is firmly out of the gate, you can expect to see more iDevice rumors as well as iOS 7.x or iOS 8 rumors beginning to churn prior to the annual iDevice event everyone is expecting later this year.  What future versions of iOS will do, along with the implementation of any new hardware components, remains to be seen.  So far, iOS 7 is working pretty well. Aside from the security based, lock screen bugs that have come up with the last 2 major releases of iOS, I don’t hear many people clamoring for the implementation of this, that or the other feature.  I also haven’t heard anything definitive coming out of the iOS development community on what Apple will or should implement in future releases of iOS 7.x, let alone, iOS 8.

Now, depending on what Apple decides to do with the iWatch – if and when it releases that piece of highly anticipated wearable technology – I can see a number of different hardware and software based tweaks that might or will be implemented with both the iPhone as well as the iPad.  If it could do most of what the Pebble Steel will do, most of what the Galaxy Gear does,  as well as incorporating what the Fitbit Force, and Nike Fuel Band SE and others do NATIVELY, that device could work with a new, updated and REVOLUTIONARY iPhone very well; and that’s something that I’d like to see and would likely buy as soon as it was released.

What about you?  Do you want a wide(er) screened iPhone?  Are you glad to see the iPhone 5c be set out to pasture?  Are you interested in the iWatch or any other wearable tech?  Why don’t you join us in the discussion area below and tell us what you think.

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Windows Threshold – Bringing Back Windows 7 & the Desktop

It’s clear from the “retrohancements” in Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows Threshold, that Microsoft is saying, “mea culpa.”

image2993This is just a (short) update to one or two other columns that I’ve written here for Soft32 over the past few weeks and months.   It’s clear to me that Microsoft is firmly embracing its wishy-washy stance and back tracking not only on the implementation of the Metro/ ModernUI that it introduced with Windows 8 and Windows RT, but on the vision they had to change the direction of mainstream computing.

None of this is news. People have been saying this stuff for a little bit. However, it occurred to me while reading an article by Mary Joe Foley recently that Microsoft really has no one else to blame but themselves.

Windows XP was initially released in August of 2001, almost 13 years ago.   Windows XP SP3, the OS’ last major release and most current version, was released in April of 2008, nearly 6 years ago. Windows Vista, which used much the same UI, but is largely considered a flop by many industry leaders, was released in November of 2006, nearly 7 years ago. Windows 7, which uses much the same UI was released in July of 2009, over 4 years ago.

So what’s the point with the history lesson..?   Simple – Microsoft has had the same UI in place for approximately 15 years, or 50% of the modern computing history (and by modern computing history, I mean anything not mainframe/thin client based).

The world is hooked on the Windows desktop.   Microsoft’s licensing deals with most companies have allowed enterprise users to bring copies of Windows and Office to their homes for under   a $100 bucks combined.   That same software combination that would have cost nearly $750 at retail, depending on which versions of the two software titles you purchased. They further reinforced this desktop monopoly by making  many of their enterprise titles – Server editions of Windows, Exchange, SQL Server, etc., accessible for “testing” purposes via different developer and technical programs as well as other licensing programs that brought enterprise and business versions of Microsoft software to an end user’s home.

Somewhere during this 15 year dairy farm period where Microsoft didn’t do much more than milk the cash cows they had reared, someone got off the merry go round and looked around, realizing that the party was pretty much over.   At that point, they looked at the tablet and personal device trends – the CoIT and BYOD challenges that many IT managers were facing – and decided it was time to embrace that vision.   Unfortunately, this required a huge paradigm change not only for their products and their internal processes, but for their customers as well.

Going cold turkey is the (usually) best way to break a habit…unless of course, you’re talking about the way I get work done, and then maybe not so much. It’s clear that the rest of the world felt the same way, as the wailing and gnashing of teeth has been loud and arduous.   The Start Button is back. The Start Menu is confirmed to be coming back (though just how that, or any other returning feature, will be reimplemented is unknown as of this writing).

Unfortunately, Microsoft has no one to “blame” for the rejection of this new computing vision but themselves; and its two fold.

1.    If it ain’t broke…
If they had retired XP at a much earlier date, if Vista hadn’t been a train wreck, and if Windows 7 wasn’t viewed as the OS to save us from the disaster that Vista was or from the stale nature that was (and currently still is) Windows XP, then perhaps they wouldn’t be in the pickle that they’re in.   The world doesn’t stand still.   Moore’s Law was clearly in effect, and all of Microsoft’s billions couldn’t build blinders large enough to hide the changing computing trends
2.    A Lack of Vision and Leadership
Ballmer is a self-proclaimed sales guy. He doesn’t get computing and mobility very well, and unfortunately, those two combined to create the current computing trend that Apple, Google   and Samsung are clearly leading with their desktop and mobile operating systems.

Revelations like this just point out to the public what I’m certain the MS Board must already know – Microsoft has a long comeback road in front of it; and the organization really needs to pick the right CEO.   With both Gates and Ballmer remaining on the Board after Ballmer leaves the Microsoft CEO spot, that person’s job isn’t going to be easy. Not only do they have a public relations mess to fix – the public is not happy with the direction that Windows 8.x has been going and wants a change, the evolutionary rather than revolutionary path that Office has been taking coupled with both title’s high price tags – but the new Microsoft CEO will have to create both mission and vision strategies that fit well with the current strategic direction set in motion by Steve Ballmer (did I mention that he will still have a lot to say about the company’s direction after the new CEO is named..??).

No matter how you decide to look at this, it’s clear to me that Microsoft and its Board of Directors painted themselves into this corner. How they are going to get themselves out, is up to them.   I know that the entire world is waiting and watching. I know I am…and I’m certain I’ll have a thing or two to say about it in the coming months as developments unfold.

What about you?   What do you think of all of this?   Did Microsoft do this to themselves? Are they victims of circumstance, or did they just sort of arrive here because their product roadmap dropped them at the corner? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Why don’t you join me in the discussion area, below and let me know what you think?

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HP Applying OS Pressure

HP’s “Back by Popular Demand” Promotion confirms – Windows 8 really does suck.

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I heard this while listening to episode 926 of TNT, “Get Adam Curry on the Phone.” My initial response was that this was a huge problem for Microsoft. HP is not only offering a current PC i.e., not refurbished and not a clearance item with Windows 7 on it, but it’s doing so at a $150 discount.

HP is offering the HP Pavilion 15t-n200 Notebook PC with Windows 7. It has  a 4th generation Intel Core i5-4200U Processor and is priced $599.  This is huge for both consumers and the enterprise, as many users have really struggled with Windows 8. Many enterprises are still using Windows XP and their IT departments are more inclined to refresh those aging endpoints with Windows 7 rather than Windows 8.  The Windows 8 UI is totally different from Windows XP and the learning curve is steep.

Many organizations aren’t willing to take the productivity hit associated with the new desktop OS. That coupled with the fact that many critical, proprietary and other traditional enterprise apps have not been fully vetted or optimized for Windows 8 makes them an unlikely candidate for the touch-centric OS.  Add in the absence of a Start Button and a more traditional Start Menu and you begin to clearly see the hot mess that Windows 8.x has created for itself.

I think the biggest issue here is that Microsoft is having to compete against itself with much older products.  Windows 8 has less than a 10% market share of all Windows PC’s worldwide, and they’re under a great deal of pressure to:

1.Make Windows 8.x work – Microsoft has a long row to hoe, here. Their Windows 8.1 Update 1, or Windows 8.2,whatever they’re going to call it, has a large bill to pay. It needs to right more wrongs than Windows 8.1 did gain more confidence, more user satisfaction than it currently enjoys and it really doesn’t have a lot of time to do that with.

2.Distance themselves as quickly and as far as they can from Windows 8.x. Microsoft can’t make Windows 9 get here quick enough.  While its next OS, code named Threshold is currently scheduled for a Spring 2015 release, for Microsoft, this next year is going to crawl.

Microsoft’s PC market is losing a lot of ground to the tablet market, especially the Android tablet market. Not only are Android tablets cheap , many decent models can be had for between $250 to $450.  Microsoft’s tablet offerings, Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro are much more expensive, and Windows RT doesn’t have the ecosystem of apps and content that Android has, yet another area where Microsoft seems to be seriously struggling.

HP’s move to bypass Windows 8.x and instead offer the outdated Windows 7 is a slap in the face for Microsoft. It’s clearly a challenge.  Microsoft clearly needs to do better with Windows 8.1+ and Windows 9. It needs to make serious advances with its tablet offerings, and either change, enhance or open its mobile ecosystem to insure that it attracts users, or its going to have some serious relevance issues in the next 5-7 years. It can ill afford a third Vista, let alone two…

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Repair and maintain your Windows PC with Windows Repair

icon1348083463If there’s one thing that I have learned over the years its that keeping your Windows PC running without issues can be complicated.  These machines can do a lot and its not always easy to fix the problems once they’ve occurred. Sometimes, its easier to just blow the box and start over.  Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. Sometimes the existence of important data, or specific peripheral drivers, other add-ons or reasons prevent you from taking that route. Its at this point that having comprehensive tools like Windows Repair, a fix-it and maintenance utility for Windows – can make the difference.

I’ve written well over 3000 individual tips for Windows covering Windows XP to Windows 7 over a 15 year period, and between us…Windows can be complicated. Fixing issues or problems with the OS, let along getting past a virus or other malware, can be challenging at times. In many cases, my recommendation is to save yourself some time, get your data off the machine, and then simply blow the machine and start from scratch. However, that isn’t always an option.

Reinstalling ANY operating system, whether you want to or not, regardless of experience level can take a long time; and it doesn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes, things don’t come back the way you think they will.  Tweaking.com’s Windows Repair is meant for situations like this, and I’m really glad its there. The application is an all in one repair tool that should help you fix many of the bigger Windows problems, including registry errors and file permission errors.

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Windows Repair is a good app, with a good beginning. It can do a lot of things to help repair Windows, but it isn’t a universal cure.  The app is still very young and needs to mature. It needs to be able to determine what the problem is and then either fix it, or offer ways to resolve the issue.

Most of the big problems that afflict Windows, aside from malware attacks, are driver and registry issues.  While Windows Repair can fix some registry issues, the Registry is a complicated animal. Modifying it doesn’t always provide the results you think or hope it will.

Driver issues are another huge problem. While you hope that drivers for peripherals work as intended, the world of Windows drivers can be a huge mess.  Not all of them are created equally, and in many cases, they don’t work and play well with other drivers.  While Windows Repair may not be able to resolve these issues, it would be nice if it could ID the potential conflicts and then provide download links to the latest versions of all drivers involved. If that doesn’t resolve the issue(s), then informing users that the drivers are known to conflict, or indicating that it will inform others of the potential conflict could be a huge help.  It would also be nice if the app used your PC’s currently installed malware software to scan and remove malware, especially if your’re using MS Security Essentials on Windows 7 or MS Defender in Windows 8.x.

download Windows Repair

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Yahoo COO Dismissed

 Further problems for Yahoo and CEO Marissa Mayer make its comeback less likely.
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I saw recently on Linkedin where Marissa Mayer gave COO Henrique de Castro his walking papers. It’s unfortunate, as it indicates a couple of things:

1. The organization is still struggling a year  and a half or so after Mayer came on board

2. Her current strategy isn’t working

de Castro was Mayer’s first major hire as president and CEO of Yahoo. He was previously Google’s VP of Partner Business Solutions, and his role at Yahoo was to increase advertising revenue. From what I’ve been able to see on this, Yahoo’s display advertising revenue fell by 7% in the last quarter of 2013. They now sit third behind both Google and Facebook, respectively. de Castro was given a $64.6M severance package as well as an uncharacteristically cold exit.  From what has been reported by Bloomberg the separation as well as ReCode the announcement from Mayer were both very sudden and cold.  Even though Mayer brought him over from Google to help her turn Yahoo around, it’s clear the she and de Castro didn’t see eye-to-eye on the operation vision and direction taken over the last 18 months.

Yahoo is in bigger trouble than most people thought.  More than I thought…  This is the one good thing about Google, though.  They have a very diverse mission and product portfolio.  Yahoo was all about search.  Back in the mid to late 1990’s they were the “Google” of their day, if you will, leading the search industry with MSN (now Bing), Lycos and Excite falling, literally, far behind them.  Their biggest issues have been, at least in my opinion, timing (they went public in 1996), lack of an appropriate product diversity, and weak management.

Timing has been an issue for Yahoo simply due to events near the time of its birth. They were created in 1994, went online in 1995, and then shortly after that, Internet bubble burst.  Yahoo’s product portfolio was largely in Internet properties, apps, portals, as well as search, and its revenues tanked. Unfortunately, strategies implemented by CEO’s Jerry Yang (1996 – 2009) and Carl Bartz (2009-2011) didn’t do much for the organization, and it has continually floundered. Marissa Mayer has been on board now for about 18 or so months.

Frankly, I think she is running out of time. She needs to get something together quickly – I’m thinking she might have 6-12 months left to produce some results – or she may also be out of a job, and Yahoo’s board may have some tough decisions to make.  Mayer has to get it together, show clear vision and direction, along with a personnel strategy to get the job done. While she did have that in place with de Castro, his failure to execute isn’t helping her; and she may have to go back to the drawing board (or at least she better before the Board does…)

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(Son of) The Operating System that Wouldn’t Die

Microsoft extends security update support for Windows XP for an additional 15 months.

securityI’m not surprised, but in a way, I kinda am. It’s like a “B” horror movie from the 1950’s. Windows XP is an operating system that Microsoft desperately wants to kill, but the darn thing just won’t stay dead.

Microsoft announced today that due to customer concerns, it will further extend security update support for Windows XP by an additional 15 months. The new, new end of support/ end of life date for Windows XP is now  2015-07-14.

Its currently estimated that even by THAT time, 10% of all PC’s in medium to large businesses will still be running Windows XP. Microsoft will continue to provide security updates for its anti-malware and security products – System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection, and Windows Intune running on Windows XP as well as for Microsoft Security Essentials.

Users will need to insure that their PC’s remain secure after the  2015-07-14  deadline. That may involve a platform change. That may involve a hardware change. It likely will involve both at this point, if PC’s that fall within this category are intended to remain on main network lines within the organization.

To further help protect these machines that will live in a perpetual Zero-Day threat status after support ends, Microsoft and analysis firm Gartner recommend that IT departments segregate their XP-based PC’s onto a private network. This additional insulation will limit external exposure and prevent XP machines from becoming infected on the wider, more accessible, corporate network.

For Microsoft, the challenge is not continuing support, but helping their channel and other partners move up to more current versions of Windows. Windows XP was never meant to last for 15 years.   Windows 7 – the likely landing spot for those still running XP at this time – will be 6 years old at that time, and likely two or more whole versions back from the current version of Windows (anticipated to be Windows 9). While IT departments do need to just get over it and spend the money required to update their infrastructures, middleware and end points, shareholders need to understand the costs involved and not freak out when their profit margins flatten out due to increased operational charges. It’s at this point that Microsoft’s newest organizational structure and focus could be of help.   If Windows 9 does end up being free, AND if it runs on legacy equipment, it may be a lot easier to afford the required upgrades.

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Microsoft CEO Search Rumors

Now that Alan Mulally is out of the running, where does Microsoft look for their new leader?

image2993A lot of wind was taken out of a great many sails in the past couple of weeks. Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Company and thought to be the front runner in Microsoft’s highly visible CEO search, recently took himself out of the running for the Redmond, WA company’s top spot. Now the whole world is wondering what Microsoft will do; and what direction they will head in.

Yes. Microsoft could promote Satya Nadella. That’s still a huge possibility.   Based on Mulally’s removal, I’m certain that many – if not most – people are expecting Microsoft to quickly march in that direction. However, that may not be the case.   Based on Mulally’s removal, if Nadella was the front runner, this would be a done deal by now.

I think many folks – including those that inhabit Wall Street – are wanting and expecting Microsoft to hire from the outside for this role.   I know many in the tech journalism field are a bit happier with those prospects than with the idea of promoting from within. It has nothing to do with Nadella – what he can or cannot do.   It has more to do with breaking away from the old guard and starting anew with someone who has a clear understanding of either how to rebuild troubled organizations (as Mulally did) or with someone who has a decent enterprise and mobile computing vision (as Ballmer never had).

Current word on the street is that Microsoft is  currently considering Hans Vestberg, CEO of Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson for software maker’s the top spot, at least all this, according to Bloomberg. The report, published  2014-01-16, indicated that Vestberg was a “media-savvy technology fanatic,” though many on Wall Street would find his candidacy a surprise.   However, with potential external candidates evaporating, I’m not surprised with anyone that Microsoft may give consideration to.

No matter how you slice it, Microsoft is expected to name a new CEO early in Q1 2014. The biggest hurdle that the new CEO will have, is not turning the company around, but likely that both Ballmer and Gates will retain their seats on the Board.   I can’t imagine any CEO wanting the company’s two previous CEO’s scrutinizing and critiquing their every move.   Ultimately, this may be why Mulally passed on the role.

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View your video where you want

hd_video_converter_factory_proWith HD Video Converter Factory Pro!

Putting multimedia on the device that you want to view it on isn’t always easy. Depending on the device that you’re using, and depending on the sync tools you have, getting specific video and other content there can be a challenge. I like having options; and this is why I like applications like HD Video Converter Factory Pro. This cool conversion app for Windows can help you get your video where you want it.

HD Video Converter Factory Pro is an advanced High-Definition (HD) video conversion app. It can help you convert videos from Standard-Definition (SD) to High-Definition (HD), and can reverse the process (HD to SD) if space and size are an issue. With support for over 100 different video formats, you can convert to and from any format for which you might have a need. The app also supports converting content from HD Camcorders to formats that can be viewed on your iDevice, PSP, Android or any other popular mobile device.

HDVCFP-01

Once you get your video taken or identified, the app really starts to shine. HD Video Converter Factory Pro supports Multi-CPU and Hyper Threading, so it offers up to 50X real time conversion speeds. Moving from one format to another is really fast, and you’ll really like that, especially if you have a large HD video you’ve taken on an HD camcorder that you want to post to Facebook, for example. Getting a large video from your computer to a social network can take a lot of time. With HD Video Converter Factory Pro, you can shrink that time thanks to its HD to SD conversion capabilities.

HDVCFP-03

HD Video Converter Factory Pro is one of those apps that you really need to have if you take, share, or watch a lot of video. On top of its conversion capabilities, it allows has a built-in, online video downloader. You can easily download online video files and then transfer them to any of your portable devices.

The app is a bit pricey, but if you can catch Wonderfox’s promotion, you may be able to get it at a highly discounted rate. They also have discount packs that provide you a couple different options at discounted prices.

download HD Video Converter Factory Pro

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