Archive for the ‘ Microsoft ’ Category

Android, Jellybean and What we can expect next from Google

These past three weeks have been jam-packed with OS news. First Mountain Lion reared its face back mid february then Microsoft released the highly anticipated Windows 8 consumer preview to the public. These new softwares from the tech titans of silicon valley show us not only what’s coming later this year but the direction they’re taking computing. For once Apple is the less interesting of the two, presenting an OS that’s just more of an incremental step closer to bridging the iOS/OSX gap. Windows on the other hand is coming in packing a completely new OS with Windows 8. The desktop we’ve all come to know and love has taken a backseat to a more Windows Phone 7-eque metro tile screen. This new interface makes windows more walled, adds an app store and, most importantly, finally makes Windows finger-friendly.

                                

But in all this buzz, one major player is still left out. Google has for over a year now been trying to sell us on the idea of a Chrome OS without any success. Sure, they’ve come down in price but at the end of the day they still leave people asking, “why don’t I just install Chrome?” But, Google has seen nothing but good results when it comes to their Android mobile OS. In light of the major plays by both Cupertino and Redmond, Google may just have just had their hands forced. Putting Android on a laptop would make for a lightweight OS that, with the inclusion of the Android market, would be more than capable of performing most common tasks such as writing documents, browsing the web, playing music and light gaming. And because Google licenses Android for free, a mobile version could be priced competitively against Microsoft’s offerings and still keep all the revenue from searches and Android Market purchases.

So what’s the hold up? Well, Google still has a lot of work to do before they’re ready to enter the laptop market. First of all, Android on tablets is a hot mess. Samsung, by far the largest seller of Android tablets, had to admit during Mobile World Congress that their tablet  sales were less than steller. The biggest reason is most likely because Android isn’t micromanaged enough. It’s closing in on half a year since Ice Cream Sandwich was released and we’re still only seeing it on select devices. While this is a nuisance for smartphone owners, it’s a deal breaker in the high-end market. If Google wants to be a respected player on the laptop front, they’re going to need to be able to give people the peace of mind that their $400+ investment will be supported for 2-3 years at least.

This may just be speculation but with the way the market is going I don’t think Google has a choice unless they want to kill off the Chromebook experiment. For now, we just have to hold our breath and wait to see what’s coming down the road with Jellybean.

In Defense of Windows Phone 7

 

tl;dr

For the time being, WP7 is underpowered, lacks developer support and is still behind in features we’ve come to expect as standard. But if you don’t care about apps (besides Angry Bird) or having the fastest phone money can buy and just want a gorgeous interface to stay connected, take occasional photos and just keep things simple, you’re in for a treat. If you have a smartphone (or if you’re on a computer) and want to try out the WP7 experience, just click here.

 

The phone space has become a battleground between Android and iOS. Android owns over half of the industry and iOS is raking dough and dominating mindshare like nobody’s business. This isn’t exactly the most fertile ground to sow your seeds but you’ve gotta plant something if you ever wanted to grow. Playing the part of the little Charlie Brown tree in between two mighty evergreens is little Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. But it could be worse for Microsoft, just ask Nokia and RIM. So, what chance does Microsoft stand to enter this mature (by tech standards) industry? Quite a bit actually. Windows Phone 7 came like a breath of fresh air to the smartphone OS space. As much as people like to fight over Android vs. iOS, they’re actually very similar operating systems when you look at the side by side. They have the same app layout, marginally different page layouts and besides widgets and more customization on the Android front, the differences pretty much end there. But you’re not gonna see Microsoft in court defending its OS any time soon. The Metro UI tile layout is a first and it accomplishes three things very well; It’s simple, eloquent and informative all at once. The hubs are also unique (although ICS is cozying up to the design) and they provide full information in a weird but interesting partial page layout. Microsoft has really created something from the ground up that they can claim to be 100% their own. You really have to give it a chance. But enough with the flattery, WP7 has quite a few knocks against it as well. First of all, it’s the new kid on the block. The phones coming out on the Windows front aren’t the highest end models the OEMs churn out and carriers don’t exactly place them front and center. WP7 also lacks any mentionable developer community. If Microsoft want to ever get this thing off the ground, it definitely needs the right stuff. Hoping to mend these issues, Microsoft has partnered with Nokia to be the sole software provider of future Nokia phones. This might sound strange seeing as neither companies have strong marketshare but it’s actually quite a brilliant strategy… although not immune to failure. Nokia used to be the premier phone maker until the smartphone era came. Since then they’ve floundered through OS’s (Symbian, Maemo, back to Symbian, then MeeGo) without finding anything that stuck. But even through this tumultuous time they’ve been praised for their hardware design, exactly what WP7 has to bring to the table.  Nokia also retains a strong market presence in Europe that will undoubtedly help propel WP7 into the hearts and minds of developers. This is only the hope though, and things aren’t coming to a solid start. The first phone to come out of the alliance, the Lumia 800, left reviewers both astonished and appalled. The design is a beautiful unibody structure that looks great and feels great in the hand but that’s where the flattery ends. The screen is a tiny 3.7 inches and a lowly 480 x 800 pixels, it’s running on a measly 1.4 Ghz single core processor, it has just 512 megs of ram and the camera is an outdated 5MP Carl Zeiss lens. These feature  read like a dream a year ago when they were introduced with the N9 but in a market where two moths is midlife crisis there isn’t a good excuse for releasing rebranded internals. Of course, there was a push to get something out the door by holidays 2011 so there’s still hopes that Nokia will wow us early next year. For the time being, WP7 is underpowered, lacks developer support and is still behind in features we’ve come to expect as standard. But if you don’t care about apps (besides Angry Bird) or having the fastest phone money can buy and just want a gorgeous interface to stay connected, take occasional photos and just keep things simple, you’re in for a treat. If you wanna give it a shot for free, just click here (preferably on a handheld).


Google VS. Apple

Google’s been on a tear lately with its Android operating system. It has become the most popular phone operating system, commanding 40% of the smart phone market, and still expanding at an incredible rate. It’s hard to imagine that the adorable little green android’s humble beginnings on the bulky, sluggish, and unpromising T-Mobile G1. From there came a torrential downpour of phones, each better than the last until finally we had a true iPhone competitor with the HTC Incredible (Verizon’s rendition of the first Google Nexus phone). From then on it has been a chase, every year Apple would announce a new phone that would blow all the current Android phones out of the water and the enclave of Android would continue to push back until a clear competitor would arise and the cycle continues. But, while this trend is what makes Android profitable, it is also a huge crutch moving forward. Android is the bestselling OS by far but three major aspects of its growth keep it far behind Apple’s throne:

  1. In all its growth, the Android OS has managed to completely avoid Apple’s market share. Apple has been growing steadily and untouched since the first iPhone came out. Every year they break records (4 million in the first weekend this year) and every year they mint more and more income. Android has actually planted itself in the lush soil left behind by decaying giants Nokia, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry.                     
  2. Android also isn’t that profitable once you break it down. Google actually makes little or no money on the operating system itself, it just gives it away and profits on the tail end with the search engine, baked in services and (mainly) Android Market… That’s how it’s supposed to work at least. In reality the Android Appstore isn’t even as profitable as Blackberry App World even though it commands more than twice the market share. The companies are also not touching Apple’s numbers individually.      
  3. And the biggest reason, like it or not, is that they’re just not Apple. Before you light your torches, let me explain myself. An Apple product just has an air of prestige and class that no Android phone has matched to date. Even six months after the iPhone 4 was announced, it was still outselling the latest and greatest of the Androids even with their dual-core, LTE, massive screen and all that. No Android has ever been a heavy hitter after more than three months of shelf life.
               

And I shouldn’t forget to mention Apple’s earnings on the iPhone. No phone comes close to having the same market dominance as the iPhone. In fact, carriers pay top dollar just to have the iPhone in their line up just because it brings that many customers. Sprint’s deal to get the iPhone on their shelves is losing them money and they won’t start making returns on profit until 2015! That just shows you how strong a presence the iPhone has. Add to that the amount of capital Apple has to put towards R&D for new devices and their complete control of hardware and software and it doesn’t look like they’re being dethroned any time soon.

Top 5 Assets of Windows 8

Over the last week I’ve been giving Windows 8 Developer’s edition a test drive and I wanted to share my experience so far. This post is written with the fact that this is only a developer’s preview. Not all features are working yet, there are some bugs and implementation needs work but let’s keep in mind that Microsoft has at least a year (based on previous dev. editions) to get everything fixed and polished. So, without further ado, here are the top 5 reasons Microsoft could hit a home run with Windows 8.

1) It’s gorgeous!

Let”s face it, Microsoft hasn’t had the best track record for making beautiful products but with 8, they’ve come a long long way towards that goal. From the moment you turn it on, you get his beautiful splash screen that shows the time and your choice of background. Once you get into Metro UI, that’s when 8 really shines. I’ve always been a fan of windows 7 tile theme and to see it on the big laptop screen just makes it look all the better. It’s minimalistic, breathtaking and functional all at once. If you need to know the weather, check your emails and notifications or any other information, you just need to glance at the tiles. But the appeal isn’t just skin deep, even the oldest and most utilitarian of windows programs (I’m looking at you Task Bar) gets a makeover. This deep integration of Metro UI into Windows 8 is gonna be paramount to 8’s success.

2) Tablets!

Another area apple has taken the lead over Microsoft in. The only response windows has had so far was to put windows 7 on tablets but, as we’ve learned time and time again, it just doesn’t work. A tablet isn’t even at half the power of laptops and desktops yet so everything runs slowly or not at all. With tablet ownership is growing at a faster rate than all other PC’s, you can’t consider a tablet UI as secondary. And 8 definitely gets that right. Metro UI is beautiful, finger friendly and easy to learn. Even in it’s beta, I’d put it head and shoulders above Honeycomb (based solely on looks and implementation since 8 obviously doesn’t have the same selection of apps available as android).

3) Integrated

This is what 8 is all about. Microsoft doesn’t want two separate UI’s for it’s big screen products but wants to unify both under one roof. The outcome looks good so far and if they can make sure that both Metro UI and the traditional desktop get the attention they need, They’ll do just fine.

4) Apps (programs for the windows user of all of us)

The iPad’s monopoly is based almost entirely on the app selection that you just can’t get elsewhere. But this tactic is taken straight out of Microsoft’s playbook. Because of the integration, and he fact that 8 will have  a built in base of 400 million plus users, there’s gonna be a large incentive for developers to build for windows instead of Honeycomb (or ice cream) and maybe even iOS.

5) It’s unique

This is the reason that I’ve always been a fan of windows phone 7. If you’ve payed any attention to the big Apple/Samsung wars, you’ll have realized that iOS and Android have a lot of similarities (I’m not saying I agree with apple or that they should win, especially in light of the recent discovery that apple Photoshopped Samsung’s devices to look more similar to theirs.. but more on that later). Metro UI’s tile layout is unlike anything else out there and it’s still beautiful and functional. But that wasn’t enough to help Windows Phone 7 so Microsoft doesn’t exactly have an easy home run on its hands. But 8 amends some of Windows Phone 7’s woes with it’s built in library of programs (and shorter name).

Although, from what I’ve seen, Windows 8 isn’t perfect, It’s definitely the best update from either Microsoft or Apple in years (I’m looking at you Lion). It’s combination of sex appeal, performance and programs/app selection make for a winning OS that’s definitely worth following (and eventually purchasing