Many people

Steven Bathiche, director of research in the Applied Sciences group at Microsoft, explaining how he knows the 1366×768 Surface display shows more detail than the 2048×1536 iPad display:

“[We did] a side-by-side with the new iPad in a consistently lit room, we have had many people see more detail on Surface RT than on the iPad with more resolution.”

Many people said so. At the side-by-side comparison we conducted. Like a whole lot of people. Seriously, though, I mean like SO many people said ours is better. Lots of people.

Microsoft Office on the iPad (Update)

If Microsoft does indeed release Office for the iPad (Google translation), The Daily will flip its lid.

Last February, The Daily claimed that it had seen an early build of Microsoft Office for the iPad:

“A brief hands-on with a working prototype of the software revealed a number of new things. The app’s user interface is similar to the current OneNote app, but it has hints of Metro, the new design language that can be seen in Windows Phone and in the as-yet-released Windows 8 desktop operating system.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint files can be created and edited locally and online.”

The digital publication first hinted at the software’s existence in November, 2011.

Microsoft immediately denied the software’s existence:

“A Microsoft spokeswoman issued this statement: ‘The Daily story is based on inaccurate rumors and speculation. We have no further comment.’ She added that a screen image included with The Daily’s article showing an Office product for iPad was ‘not Microsoft’s software,’ she said.”

Shortly after that, The Daily claimed that it was actually given a demo by a Microsoft employee.

If Microsoft’s Office suite is released for the iPad next year, expect a mighty “I told you so” from The Daily. Provided that The Daily still exists, in May, 2013 that is.

Update: Microsoft’s head of corporate communications Frank Shaw has flatly denied today’s rumor, saying, “The information shared by our Czech Republic subsidiary is not accurate. We have nothing further to share.”

Evening tech news July 16 2012

Today’s tech news, neat and tidy in a single post for you.

The sad state of Office 2013 touch support

Ars Technica’s Peter Bright examines the state of Microsoft Office and touch computing. Considering the emphasis on touch in Windows 8‘s Metro interface, Bright wonders why Office 2013 — one of Microsoft’s important products — isn’t a Metro-style app. Office ’13 does offer some touch support. Specifically, the ribbon features greater spacing between elements when in “touch” mode and apps like Word and Outlook support two-finger zooming. And that’s about it.

What’s worse, Bright explains, is how many elements do not support touch at all, like check boxes and radio buttons in the options screen, as well as dialog boxes like Excel’s “format cells.” As Bright says, “The Office team appears to be positioning touch support more as a way of enabling simple edits to be made as a kind of fall-back—a stopgap solution for those times when the mouse and keyboard aren’t available.”

Adobe releases fix for OS X 10.7.4 InDesign crashing bug

Warning! Of something!

Earlier this week, Adobe admitted that InDesign was crashing on Intel Ivy Bridge-equipped MacBooks running OS X 10.7.4 in the form of blank dialog boxes. Today the company has released a fix, though it’s not easy to apply. The ZIP file includes the necessary components and instructions on how to get InDesign to behave. There’s a script that will install the files for you, and instructions on updating manually if the script fails. If neither of those solutions work, Adobe suggests a third option: “Do not install or remove the installation of the MacOS Mid 2012 Software Update for 10.7.4.” No, “MacOS” is not my spelling error.

iOS 6 will offer icloud.com email addresses

iOS 6 beta three was released today, and MacRumors notes that the changelog mentions the pending availability of icloud.com email addresses:

“icloud.com email addresses are now available for iCloud mail users. Users signing up for new Apple IDs, or enabling Mail on their iCloud account for the first time, will automatically receive an @icloud.com email address instead of a me.com email address. iCloud users with @me.com addresses that have been used with iOS 6 beta 3 will receive an @icloud.com email address that matches their @me.com address.”

Note that existing @me.com and @mac.com users will not be required to switch. Heck, I still use the @mac.com address I got through iTools. Still, I wondered if Apple would make @icloud.com email address available some day. Now I know.

Apple working to fix in-app purchase security problem

Late last week, a hacker demonstrated how to bypass Apple’s in-app purchasing system. This week, Apple has responded to say its working on a fix. Too bad, I was looking forward to ripping off some of my friends while interacting with a Russian hacker’s server.

Microsoft, NBC part ways

MSNBC.com now resolves to NBCnews.com. Here’s a look back at MSNBC’s first broadcast from July, 1996.

Reviewers struggle to get a Nexus 7 out of the box

Not news, but a fun way to end this post. Plus, “Fandroid” is a great name for  a blog.

Not “Windows 8 Surface” (Update)

Jason Brennan:

“The product name is completely devoid of the term ‘Windows,’ a term for which Steve Ballmer appears to have a major crush on. Even their touch-based phone products can’t escape the Windows moniker, resulting in the Windows Phone 7 mouthful. Though the Surface will run Windows 8, they aren’t calling it Windows 8 Surface.”

I didn’t realize it, but Jason’s right. It’s not the “Windows 8 Surface” or even the “Windows Surface.”

UpdateDillon Larson points out that Jason and I might be exactly wrong. Microsoft lists each device as “Surface for Windows RT” and “Surface for Windows 8 Pro.”

The New York Times on pricing the Microsoft Surface

Nick Wingfield of the New York Times explores Microsoft’s sticky wicket: how to price the Surface tablet:

“When Motorola introduced its Xoom tablet, based on Google’s Android operating system, early last year, it priced the cheapest model without a wireless contract at $800. It steadily discounted the Xoom after that, but it never caught on.

The cheapest PlayBook from Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, was the same price as the iPad. It, too, fizzled and is now on sale for as little as $199.”

Also:

“One big expense for Microsoft’s PC partners traditionally has been the licensing fee they pay for Windows. Microsoft could, in theory, forgo those licensing fees to itself with Surface to offer a cheaper tablet.

But that would create another problem for Microsoft. If it took that path, the company might undercut its license-paying hardware partners, making it difficult for any other company to get traction in the Windows tablet business.”

I’m so interested to see how Microsoft will price these things. I assume it won’t make the mistake of “chasing Apple” again, having learned lessons from the Zune’s failure. The Surface’s potential is compelling.

Oh, Gizmodo

When Microsoft announced the Surface tablet this week, I was disappointed to see so many Apple fans bashing the device without having laid a finger on one. It’s embarassing. Even the select journalists who received brief, hands-on demos weren’t permitted to explore the Surface freely. No one has enough information to declare it a success for failure. The bashing was premature to say the least.

Also premature is declaring the iPad obsolete as a result of Microsoft’s announcement. In a post entitled, “Microsoft Surface Just Made the MacBook Air and the iPad Look Obsolete,” Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz has done just that:

“Surface just bumped the MacBook Air and the iPad to the back seat, and it did so by hewing tightly to everything that Apple’s Jonny (sic) Ive holds dear…Microsoft is the underdog and has the freedom that only someone with nothing to lose can afford. I wonder if Apple would be bold and continue to innovate instead of just living from Job’s heritage.”

That’s premature, Jesus. And you spelled “Jony” incorrectly. Embarrassing.

Pricing the Microsoft Surface (Update)

Microsoft’s new Surface Tablet looks interesting, and I’m wondering how much it’ll cost. Microsoft has said consumers can expect a price point that’s “on par with Ultrabook-class PCs,” according to Engadget. I’m not familiar with the Ultrabook market, so I looked up the cost of five popular models:

  • Lenovo ideapad U300s – $1,399
  • Toshiba Portege Z835 – $899
  • ASUS ZENBOOK UX31E – $1,249
  • Acer Aspire S3 – $699
  • Samsung 900X3A – $1,087

The average price of these devices is $1,066. That’s a lot of money for a tablet computer. While $1,066 isn’t the Surface’s official price, it is “on par with Ultrabook-class PCs” and twice the cost of an iPad.

Also, this suggests that Microsoft considers the tablet a PC.

UpdateShadoe Huard notes that, “…the ultrabook pricing is for the ‘Pro’ surface only (Intel CPUs). The lower end Arm version (RT) is in line with other ARM tablets. So prob in the 400-700 range, considering there’s no 16GB model.”

Microsoft’s gut-wrenching decisions over Office for iPad

The New York Times lays out some of the hard decisions Microsoft has to make around launching Office for the iPad:

“First, the company has its own answer to the iPad coming out this fall in the form of Windows 8, its first operating system designed from the ground up with touch screens in mind. One of the chief selling points of Windows 8 tablets, especially to business customers, will be that they can run an official version of Office designed for those devices. An Office for the iPad could hurt Windows 8’s chances of capturing a chunk of the tablet business.

There is also the question of how Microsoft designs Office for iPad and prices it so it doesn’t cannibalize sales of the software for computers. Quickoffice currently sells for $19.99 on the iPad App Store, a lot less than the $119 or so that Office for PCs starts at.”

The Times goes on to point out that ignoring the iPad’s potential would possibly be the greatest risk of all, as the device is becoming increasingly popular among people who buy Microsoft Office. All of this just as Google forces Microsoft to show its cards. I’m glad I’m not in that game of Hold ‘Em.

Microsoft kills the Zune

The New York Times:

“Microsoft spokeswoman, Melissa Stewart, confirmed [at E3] that the Zune brand is going away so Microsoft can use the better-known Xbox brand for its entertainment services, including its online video service.”

It was a bad idea to make the Zune brown (it resembled a turd), but even worse to “chase Apple,” as former Microsoft executive Robbie Bach explained at a Northwest Entrepreneur Network in May:

“We just weren’t brave enough, honestly, and we ended up chasing Apple with a product that actually wasn’t a bad product, but it was still a chasing product, and there wasn’t a reason for somebody to say, oh, I have to go out and get that thing.”

Users who’ve created playlists will find them intact in the new Xbox Music Service.

The mother of all wrong predictions

“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60 percent or 70 percent or 80 percent of them, than I would to have 2 percent or 3 percent, which is what Apple might get.”

You’ve seen this, of course, but it bears repeating after yesterday’s announcements. In fact, Apple’s iPhone business alone now generates more revenue than all of Microsoft.

How’s the chowder, Mr. Ballmer?