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Sep 30, 2014

Windows 10 Preview to Launch for Users Tomorrow

Microsoft confirmed at the Windows event in San Francisco that consumers would want to give the new Windows 10 a try would be able to do so starting tomorrow thanks to a free Technical Preview as part of its new Windows Insider Program.

This new program will kick off tomorrow and will bring a downloadable version of Windows 10 preview for desktops and tablets, while servers will get their very own flavor at a later time. Other devices could also get an early build of the operating system, but no other specifics have been provided. The preview version will include many of the features that we heard about in the latest few months, including a Start menu, multiple desktops, a revamped command prompt and other features that are supposed to improve the desktop side of the platform.

At the same time, Microsoft has also presented a revamped Start screen, but the focus is clearly on the desktop, as the company wants to boost productivity as much as possible, as its two top executives said during the event. The preview version will be free for everyone, but keep in mind that Microsoft expects you to submit feedback and thus help the company improve features before the debut of the final product. Feedback forms will be available everywhere you look, including the Start menu, and will prompt you to submit your thoughts on specific features right after performing specific tasks, such as sending emails.

Windows 10 Preview will be part of the new insider program
Image credits to Microsoft

Microsoft’s New Windows Will Be Called Windows 10

Microsoft has just announced at a press conference in San Francisco that its new operating system would be called Windows 10, contrary to all rumors that have reached the web in the past few months.

Surprisingly, Microsoft isn’t calling its new OS version Windows 9, as everyone believed, or Windows Threshold, as some people close to the matter hinted, but Windows 10 in what’s pretty much the most surprising decision for the “new Microsoft.” Terry Myerson, head of the OS division at Microsoft, said that Windows 10 would run on as many devices as possible and will even span new categories, hinting that it could even power small devices such as smartwatches. “Windows 10 will be familiar to enterprise end users whether coming from windows 8 or Windows 8,” Myerson said, clearly hinting that many requested features would come back, including a Start menu.

"Windows 10 will be compatible with all the traditional management systems used today,” he added. "Windows 10 will be our most comprehensive platform, ever. Windows 10 will deliver the right experience at the right time." Of course, Microsoft’s decision to skip Windows 9 and go directly to Windows 10 is a bit surprising, but the company suggested that it needs a fresh start that would clearly signal the debut of a completely revamped Windows version.

Windows 10 is Microsoft's new OS name
Image cedits to Litabi

AMD Strategy to Set Off to Free Itself from Intel and It Has Succeeded

Advanced Micro Devices had some management problems back in 2009-2010, and it didn't get out of them even after it hired Rory P. Read as CEO in August 2011. But the Chief Executive Officer immediately set about cleaning house, and changed the company's direction too, for good measure.

In a nutshell, the man's idea was that Advanced Micro Devices would be better off if its products stopped being compared to Intel's all the time. Understandably enough, everyone was skeptical about AMD's chances of freeing its brand from automatic association with Intel's products. Especially after the fiasco of the 8-Core Bulldozer CPUs that didn't live up to their hype (to say the least). Fast forward to 2014, though, and the company has pretty much already managed it. Sure, it had to drop high-end, enthusiast-grade CPUs/APUs completely, but its other moves seem to be paying dividends.

The APU business unit

Accelerated Processing Units are essentially CPUs with full-on GPUs integrated into them, from the Radeon line, instead of meager iGPs (integrated graphics processors) like what Intel still offers. Basically, AMD has managed to merge together the mid-range CPU with the mid-range GPU. While it did that, it managed to kill a large part of NVIDIA's customer base too, since not only did it have to give up low-end add-in boards, but some mainstream adapters too. That's why, today, mainstream graphics cards are what would have qualified as upper-end boards a few years ago. Sure, APUs still don't sell nearly as well as Intel CPUs do, as a whole, but last I heard, AMD had managed to increase its CPU share by a little bit. As for graphics, the company definitely stole some of NVIDIA's market share.

The Opteron A-Series server CPUs based on ARM architecture

AMD has shown real support for the ARM architecture on the big data / data center markets. Intel refuses to even consider the notion, but AMD released the Seattle A-Series Opteron CPU back in August. The chip is based on ARM Cortex-A57 cores, which fully support 64-bit instructions. More importantly, AMD has just launched a demo of Apache Hadoop running on a system based on this particular processor. With this, the company has placed itself squarely at the head of the ARM server industry. Until now, ARM-based processors only made it in a handful of microservers, which themselves came to be in no small part due to AMD's efforts.

And yet, there seem to be no signs of the heated AMD-Intel rivalry sparking on this side of the field. Just like it seems to be dying on the CPU market. In fact, the only rivalry involving AMD that still seems to be going on is the one with NVIDIA, and that's precisely on the matter of add-in video boards.

What it all means

Some may say it's a bit too early to tell, but AMD has really managed to avoid a potentially serious, if not fatal, slide downwards. In fact, it appears to have reformed itself into something a lot more self-determined that it was before. It took a lot of work, and the firing of quite a few people to pull it off, but everything seems to have worked out. Now we just have to wait for those fabled 2018-bound hybrid x86-ARM processors and we'll really have something to swoon over. Assuming the mishap of Bulldozer doesn't repeat, that is, but I think AMD can avoid the same hype implosion.

AMD Opteron A1100
Image credits to AMD

Nexus 6 Confirmed to Pack 5.9-Inch QHD Display, 13MP Camera and 3200 mAh Battery

Google upcoming flagship smartphone, the Nexus 6 made headlines in the last couple of weeks, as rumors about the handset’s specs continue to leak online.

According to previous reports, Google’s Nexus 6 will boast a huge 5.9-inch capacitive touchscreen display, which is supposed to support QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution. The information has just been confirmed through another source, so Android fans expecting to upgrade their older Nexus smartphone should start thinking whether or not they want a device with such a large display. Even though Nexus 6 originally leaked as a 5.2-inch smartphone, it looks like Google decided that’s not enough of an upgrade over the previous model. We do think that Google might launch two versions of Nexus 6, one with a large 5.9-inch QHD display, which will be the company’s flagship smartphone, and another one with a 5.2-inch display aimed at those who can’t afford the flagship device or favor smaller screens.

However, the chance of Google launching a smaller version of Nexus 6 does seem slim now that everyone is only talking about the Motorola Shamu, the large Nexus 6 model. Anyway, the folks over at AndroidPolice report they have been given inside info on the Nexus 6, which confirms the smartphone will indeed sport 5.9-inch QHD display with 496ppi (pixel per density). Design-wise, the smartphone will look exactly like the Motorola Moto X with only a few differences given the slightly larger chassis.

Nexus 6 will be compatible with Motorola's turbo charger

For example, the Nexus 6 will feature black stereo speakers in the front, while the power on/off button and the dual volume key will be placed farther down on one side of the smartphone. The smartphone is likely to be made of high-quality plastic, but it will feature an aluminum frame, just like the new Motorola Moto X. On the back, Nexus 6 will pack a 13-megapixel camera with autofocus, dual-flash ring and OIS (optical image stabilization. The smartphone will also come with a 2-megapixel camera in the front and a huge 3200 mAh battery to make up for the power hungry display.

Speaking of which, sources familiar with Google Nexus 6 plans claim the smartphone will support Motorola’s turbo charger, which means users will be able to charge the phone’s battery for 8 hours of usage in just 15 minutes. As expected, the Nexus 6 will be the first smartphone to ship with Android L operating system out of the box and the mockup attached shows the handset’s new homescreen that reflects this change.

Nexus 6 mockup
Image credits to AndroidPolice

Best Anti-Virus Solutions for Windows 7 SP1 Revealed [av-test.org]

Windows 8 already comes with Windows Defender turned on by default, but as far as Windows 7 users are concerned, turning to a third-party software solution to protect their PCs is the only solution.

A new round of tests performed by German institute AV-TEST reveals that Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) customers have a wide array of anti-virus solutions to choose from, some of which can provide maximum protection in most of the cases. The July/August round of tests put Bitdefender’s anti-virus products on the first place, with a maximum score of 6 points out of 6 in all three main categories, namely protection, performance, and usability. The same top score was also achieved by Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Norton, and Bullguard, all of which managed to perform impressively well in this new test.

Free solutions not the best choice

If there’s anything important that can be seen in this chart is the performance of freeware anti-virus solutions, all of which obtained really disappointing scores in this new tests. 

Panda Cloud Free is the software solution that scored the best in the free category, gaining 6 points for protection, 5.5 points for performance, and 5.5 points for usability.

Avira received 6, 4.5, and 6 points, respectively, while Avast did even worse and scored 3.5 points for protection, 4.5 points for performance, and 6 points for usability.

AVG Free, which is currently one of the top freeware solutions on the market with millions of downloads, is the freebie that’s ranked the worst, with 3.5 points for performance and protection, and 5.5 points for usability.

Microsoft’s Security Essentials again at the bottom of the pack

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s Security Essentials solution, which is available with a freeware license for those running Windows 7, performed really bad and received the second worst score after Norman. MSE obtained 0 points for protection, 4.5 points for performance, and 6 points for usability. Of course, protection is the most important chapter, and given MSE’s score, some might obviously want to try out a different security solution. Microsoft Security Essentials is available with a freeware license for users of all Windows versions before Windows 8. MSE has recently dropped support for Windows XP, while in Windows 8 the app has been improved and rebranded as Windows Defender.

Windows 8 comes with Windows Defender turned on by default, and the app is automatically disabled once the user deploys a third-party anti-virus product, no matter its name.

Bitdefender continues to be the leader of the anti-virus market
Image credits to AV-TEST

Watch Windows 10’s Top New Features in Action [Video]

Windows 10 is the surprising name of Microsoft’s new operating system, but apart from the designation, there’s nothing new except from the features we’ve been reporting about for the last couple of months.

The Start menu will finally be brought back and together with it, Microsoft is also introducing a new search option that allows users to look for information not only locally, but also online. Of course, Bing powers the search option, just like it was the case with the similar feature on the Start screen. At the same time, Microsoft is introducing multiple desktops, which are great for those working with multiple apps at the same time and want to keep things organized on their screen. Windows 10 Preview will be available for download tomorrow, but the company warns that since it’s an unfinished product, it’s natural to expect bugs, issues, and other problems after you install it.

Of course, it also wants users to send their feedback and help the company improve performance of the new operating system before it hits the market in spring 2015, so make sure that you submit any bugs you find to be fixed by company’s engineers. The video demo was presented by Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore and includes only a handful of features, so to see all new things in Windows 10, it’s better to download the preview build.

Watch Windows VP Joe Belfiore talk about some of the features in Windows 10, like the new Start menu, multiple desktops, and improved multi-tasking. Learn how you can be part of creating the best Windows yet with the Tech Preview and the Windows Insider Program.
Video credits to Windows/Microsoft

Google's Project Ara Modular Phone Will Let You Hot-Swap Everything Except the CPU and Display

Project Ara started as a bold project inside Motorola Mobility a few years ago, but after the company has been acquired by Google, the program went under the search giant’s umbrella.

Even after Motorola has been sold to Lenovo early this year, Project Ara remained a Google program and the company does seem to invest quite a lot of resources in order to bring it to consumers. The end result should be some sort of starter kit that contains various modules that can be inserted inside a frame to form a smartphone. The $50 (€35) worth of components represents certain parts of the smartphone like display, CPU, Wi-Fi and battery. Each of these modules can be swapped for a better one when an upgrade is available, which means you won’t need to switch to a new smartphone each year.

If Project Ara proves to be successful, it should be used by “six billion people,” Google claims. The good news is that we might be closer to a market release than we might think, as Google confirmed all Project Ara modular phones will run a modified version of Android L.

The cheapest Project Ara kits will cost only $50 (€35) at launch

The first Project Ara kits are expected to go on sale sometime in early 2015, but details on exact release date should become available close to launch. Now PhoneBloks blog site reports Project Ara’s head, Paul Eremenko shared more details on the modular phone, which is supposed to arrive in January 2015. According to Eremenko, those who purchase a modular smartphone will be able to hot-swap any of the components except for the CPU and the display. This means that you will be able to upgrade your phone without having to turn it off. The display and CPU components will be swappable as well, but you will have to turn off your smartphone in order to do it. The fact that the majority of the modules are hot-swappable is made possible by the modified version of Android L, which is developed by Google in collaboration with another company called Linaro.

It’s also worth mentioning that additional modules will be purchasable through a dedicated online store, which should be up the moment Project Ara kits go on sale. Speaking of which, the first fully functional Project Ara prototype is expected to be showcased at the second developer conference of the program, which is scheduled for this December. Here is hoping Google’s modular phones will be made available to consumers sooner rather than later.

Project Ara Kits
Image credits to Google
LCU14 : Opening Keynote & Project Ara
Speaker: George Grey
Location: Grand Peninsula D, Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport, Burlingame, CA, United States
★ Session Summary ★
★ Resources ★
Zerista: http://lcu14.zerista.com/event/member/137700
Video credits to Linaro OnAir

Samsung Explains Galaxy Note Edge Display, Highlights Major Features via Infographic

Introduced along with the Galaxy Note 4 early this month, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge could outsell the many flagship smartphones already available on the market, if only the South Korean company didn’t see this device as “limited edition concept.”

That means Samsung plans to launch the Galaxy Note Edge in limited quantities, so you will only be able to get it in some countries and for a much higher price. Although info coming from sources familiar with the matter claimed there would only be around 1 million Galaxy Note Edge units available for purchase this year and that the phablet will not be launched in the UK and most of other European countries, Samsung introduces the phablet in more territories than it was original speculated. Availability aside, the Galaxy Note Edge was the star of Samsung’s Unpacked event earlier this month and even if it won’t outsell the Galaxy Note 4, the South Korean company will surely get rid of all the stock it plans to push into the market in no time.

In order to raise the hype around the Galaxy Note Edge, like that was really needed, Samsung has just released an infographic that shows 5 of the most important features of the smartphone’s display. For those unaware, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge comes with the same type of display as the Galaxy Note 4, but this one is curved. It’s also a bit smaller at 5.6-inch, but it supports QHD (2560 x 1600 pixels) resolution as well.

The Edge Screen can be personalized to show your own drawings

The smaller secondary display on right side called the Edge Screen, allows users to add frequently used apps in order to access them quickly no matter what you are doing. But that’s not all, as Galaxy Note Edge users will also be able to check notifications and messages while watching video or navigating. You can even personalize the Edge Screen with drawings using an S Pen, but you can also add images and texts that can be displayed on the screen instead of these drawings. The Edge Screen can also display useful information on stock trends, sports scores, news and twitter trend keywords through Ticker Board. The good news is that this type of info doesn’t really require a large display, which makes the Edge Screen perfectly suitable for displaying it.

Last but not least, you can even take advantage of Quick Tools, which provides access to essential apps and features through the Edge Screen at any time. As soon as the SDK reaches in the hands of developers, we’re certain the Edge Screen will be more useful to Samsung Galaxy Note Edge owners, but until then here are some of the most important features it has to offer.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Specs
Image credits to Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge infographic
Images credits to Samsung

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