Tag Archives: Windows 7
“Going into the holidays, we will make tablets a focus,“ Score said.”Like e-readers over the last couple years, we think customers will think of Best Buy for tablets and expect us to have the right ones.”
Yeah. Like e-readers. I don’t know if I agree that monochrome book replacements really have the same cachet as a multimedia tablet, but whatever. The fact of the matter is that there is going to be a wide selection of tablets showing up in the next few months, and we’ll see which one can stand up to the incumbent iPad.
Score declined to say what operating systems these tablets will have, perhaps maybe because he doesn’t even know, or maybe because they’re still trying to keep secret that there’s a Chrome OS tablet on the horizon. It’s hard to say at this point.
Android, Windows 7, webOS, Chrome OS and whatever a Blackberry tablet would run on are all possibilities. Best Buy is also expected to have a tablet at some point under their own brand, Rocketfish.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the advent of the tablet. Sure, much has already been written about the subject, so I’d like to stay away from the normal conversation. I would, of course, like to reference some articles before I delve deeper here, including Devin Coldewey’s article about the coming onslaught of Android slates, as well as Christopher Dawson’s take on the amount of changes he’s seen in a month’s time of more people relying on tablets and smartphones.
I currently use a Dell v13, an $899 ultra light laptop that is loaded with Windows 7 for all of the work I do on this site. Notwithstanding the fact that I had a Dell tech replace the faulty touchpad within a month of purchase and the fact that the graphics capabilities are tethered to the Intel-based chipset, I’m happy with it. But a nagging feeling remains that my current setup is just not optimal. If there were a middle ground between smartphone and laptop that is not Apple based and could give me what I get from the v13, I would happily switch.
The problem with my current laptop is that even though it is light and very mobile, it lacks the “easy-on” that I need. It runs Windows 7, a behemoth that seems to be better suited for desktops or bulky replacements for such. I don’t need all the junk that comes with a Windows OS; I just need something that works. This is not to say I don’t want to tinker, but I would prefer everything be configured from the start, and I’ll mess with what I want to much later on.
I want a tablet; I just don’t want an Apple one. I also am not interested in one that runs Android because that’s for phones, not for computers. Do I need a keyboard? That’s a subjective question, since I do type a lot as a writer but if there is a badass alternative to this antiquated set of Chiclets that I use to communicate then I would be all for it.
What do you think? Is the time for grappling with Windows over? Where is the cloud-based Windows killer we’ve all been looking for?
Maybe Windows is horrible, or could just be enough for people to get by. ITPro’s Simon Brew has an article talking about alternatives to using the Windows operating system. Of course, there are open source alternatives in Linux and Chrome OS was brought up, but the main question brought to mind is this: are users actually going to want to switch from Windows?
On example of this is the fact that Microsoft is still trying to get users off of Windows XP, which debuted in 2001. If a user does get off of XP, their alternative now is going to be to start using Windows 7 which to some people may not be any different than the classic XP. It starts to make one wonder how much market share Google can really take from Windows, especially since probably the only ones buying a Chrome OS system will be those who are actually seeking out the device.
So, with that logic, maybe those who actively hate Windows will go out and look for a Google alternative when it arrives, but the fact of the matter is that Microsoft holds a dominating ninety percent share of a profitable market, and they are not going to lose out very quickly to upstart operating systems.
An example of Microsoft’s stronghold is that somehow, Internet Explorer, known to be an inferior browser through technical tests, still commands a sixty percent share across its three versions. Anyone can download one of the better alternatives, but either they don’t know they can or can do what they need to with a Microsoft product. And that’s the problem.
I say this because when I was at Taiwan’s Computex 2010 conference less than a month ago there were some formidable competitors in terms of hardware, but the leading manufactures for these devices didn’t really offer a whole lot in terms of software.
Sure, the Acer tablet that allows one to flip the netbook-style form factor over to a table was impressive, but the touch functionality of Windows 7 for it was quite lackluster: I asked a product rep to reboot the device because there seemed to be a problem with the touch software, only to have the same problems crop up again once it started up.
Asus offered up a beautiful tablet design that had potential to compete with Apple, but they kept a product manager closely hovering over the device running a new version of Windows CE that looked surprisingly Android-like, but because of the people and Asus employees holding a close grip on the tablet, no one was really able to test the paces of Microsoft’s UI.
MSI had a winged version of a tablet running Android that seemed surprisingly comfortable in my hands, but we all know that Google’s smartphone operating system isn’t really meant for tablets – it just seemed like a supersized stock version of the OS. An MSI product manager also told me that the MSI Wind tablet was just a concept for now.
This is problematic. The reason why I say this is because since Apple has taken the world by storm plugging an already existing operating system with the iOS to a tablet form factor, that have essentially beaten the entire computer manufacturing market with the iPad. There is no one else that has an operating system that is fully compatible with touch on a tablet.
That’s not to say Android is far behind Apple’s touch-based operating system, but it is clear that unlike the iOS, there was no plan for tablets in its future. We’ve seen early on Google’s Chrome OS tablet concept, and we can only hope that Chrome OS will offer a stylishly-designed slate from the likes of HP, Dell or Acer in the coming months, hopefully something that is just as functional, open source for app developers and creatively designed mobile gadget that can compete with the iPad.
I hold out hope on this, because only one successful tablet in the market does not bode well for innovation. What do you think? Which one of these PC manufacturers has the best chance of offering a tablet running Chrome OS that can compete with Apple?
So the first day of the Computex computer trade show has come and gone, and I’ve been confronted with a startling revelation: Microsoft really has command of this conference.
I spent a good amount of time today going from manufacturer to manufacturer asking about Chrome OS. While most of them are open to using it, there really seems to be an “in the future” mentality to using any operating system from Google. That also includes Android as well, with the sheer majority of tablets that I saw sporting a touch-enabled Windows 7.
Here is some of the reasons that Microsoft is such a force at Computex.
The Show is for Procurement
People come to Computex to make purchasing decisions for their companies on products that mostly come from Taiwanese manufacturers. As such, they want to see what they are going to be buying over the balance of 2010 and into 2011. Because of this, purchasers are looking at getting devices that run Windows 7 since it is here and now, ready for deployment and/or selling.
Windows 7 was launched not too long ago, and as such Microsoft is making a big push to sell its new operating system. Despite the software climate these days, Redmond still makes a ton of money on selling operating systems that are shipped on new computers. That would partially explain the reasoning behind so many tablets having a Microsoft OS instead of Android. With that being said, there was an open source booth that had some different commercial versions of Linux. I also got a chance to try MeeGo, and I have to say I was impressed with it.
The Microsoft-Manufacturer Connection
One product manager I talked to for a leading manufacturer told me that there are some financial incentives to help them put a display on at Computex if they follow certain standards for showing off Microsoft products. I was a bit surprised by this fact initially, but it makes sense. The relationship between Microsoft and Taiwan manufacturers is very tight-knit whereby Microsoft offers a platform that works with an array of hardware that the manufacturers design and produce for a good price.
The most intriguing dynamic to all of this is the fact that it was reported by CNET today that new Google employees can no longer choose a Windows solution for their workstations. Future Microsoft implementations at Google will only be for testing purposes, or specially approved. This report, which was rumored but not confirmed until now, comes at the same time we are seeing a boatload of Microsoft-loaded products at Computex.
It will be interesting to see how this may change over the course of the next year, with Google exerting more dominance in the market. This is a telling sign that IT purchasers do not have Google platforms in their sights as of yet.
Yesterday’s first day for the Pwn2Own contest came and went literally for the Chrome browser. The competition, which pits security minded hackers against web browsers, operating systems and mobile phone platforms did however do a number on Apple products. Apple’s Safari browser was hacked on both Snow Leopard and the iPhone, while Charlie Miller, a previous winner, snagged ten grand by remotely taking control of Safari on a MacBook Pro. Miller is the one who was quoted a while ago saying that Chrome 4 without Flash on Windows 7 was the most secure computing environment out there today.
Also, IE8 on Windows 7 was successfully hacked on the first day of Pwn2Own, with researcher Peter Vreugdenhil getting past Windows 7′s data execution protection (DEP) and address space layout representation (ASLR) to exploit IE8. An hour after that, a freelancer named Nils was also able to use those same Windows vulnerabilities to also hack Firefox 3.6.
Yesterday was the day for Windows 7, and today the competition will face Vista, with tomorrow highlighting XP. Will Chrome fall on a less secure system? We shall see. Here is the complete three day schedule for Pwn2Own:
The target pairings for day one are:
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 on Windows 7
- Mozilla Firefox 3 on Windows 7
- Google Chrome 4 on Windows 7
- Apple Safari 4 on MacOS X Snow Leopard
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 on Windows Vista
- Mozilla Firefox 3 on Windows Vista
- Google Chrome 4 on Windows Vista
- Apple Safari 4 on MacOS X Snow Leopard
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 on Windows XP
- Mozilla Firefox 3 on Windows XP
- Google Chrome 4 on Windows XP
- Apple Safari 4 on MacOS X Snow Leopard
Most top prizes are in the $10,000 range, plus the hardware that is hacked on is also awarded. There is also a focus on these mobile platforms (and as we said that the iPhone has already been hacked):
- Apple iPhone 3GS
- RIM Blackberry Bold 9700
- Nokia E72 device running Symbian
- HTC Nexus One running Android
We’ll keep you posted, especially on the Google-related products.
As mentioned previously, the Chromium team is giving out cash awards to researchers who are able to find vulnerabilities in the browser’s software. While most awards given out are in the $500 range, there is another tier for those who are able to find very serious flaw. Finally, someone has won the top award, getting $1,337 from Google for finding what must be a serious exploit. Although we cannot see what the flaw is because not all browsers have been updated, I’m Sergey Glazunov, who won the award, is happy to be receiving some recognition since most of the time these folks don’t get the appreciation that they deserve.
This is coming at a good time, and there is no doubt that the recent rash of updates to Chrome’s stable build has to do with the upcoming Pwn2Own contest which pits hackers against browsers and operating systems in a contest to see who can compromise a system the fastest. Charlie Miller, one of the past winners, has gone on record to say that he thinks Google Chrome is one of the most secure browsers along with Windows 7 being the most secure operating system.
Although it appears that smartphone operating systems will be a big focus of the year’s Pwn2Own, it will still be interesting to see which browsers are the most secure. Computerworld is predicting that Chrome will last the longest which is a promising sign and shows how much effort has been put into a browser that has only been around since 2008.
Here is a cool video that pits a few operating systems against each other to see which one boots the fastest. The four OSs shown are (from top left clockwise) Ubuntu 9.10, Windows 7, Chrome OS Flow and Ubuntu 9.04.
Flow took about thirty seconds to load, while Ubuntu 9.10 came in second at around forty-eight seconds. Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.04 took well over a minute.
It’s not surprising that Chrome OS Flow is the fastest, but according to the initial announcement from the Chromium team back in November 2009, Chrome OS was supposed to be able to boot in “a few seconds”. Does this mean we have a long way to go? It’s possible, but then again Google is going to require manufacturers to have certain hardware specifications for Chrome OS machines, so don’t be surprised if they are serious when they say this.
Best known as the hacker that is able to consistently deliver results in the Pwn2Own contest which awards contestants for successfully exploiting OS vulnerabilities, Charlie Miller gave an interview recently and shared his thoughs about the most secure computing platform for users. While he was unable to comment on Chrome OS (he said he didn’t have enough info yet) his thoughts and the best browser and OS were of interest.
“Chrome or IE8 on Windows 7 with no Flash installed. There probably isn’t enough difference between the browsers to get worked up about”, Miller told oneitsecurity. And while we agree with his point, it stands out that he would find that IE8 is comparable to Chrome in any way other than security. Chrome offers a better UI, is faster and has far better web compliance scores.
He discussed the potential of hacking Linux, saying that it would be relatively easy to pull off. But the low adoption rate of Linux as inhibited any motivation for researchers to try to point out flaws that are inherent to the system. Chrome OS is based off of a flavor of Linux so it will be interesting to see how it evolves from the perspective of security.
Miller is clearly not impressed by Flash, and that’s no surprise. With Pwn2Own’s 2010 contest coming up, the focus this year is going to be on exploiting mobile phones. That would probably be made easier if some of these platforms like the iPhone actually had Flash, so expect Android to be a big target with a lot of entrants trying to win the big prize by hacking that platform. The total prize allocation for the contest is set at $100,000.
So you want to see how fast an operating system can load? Here is a video that compares Windows 7, Ubuntu Netbook Remix and one of the early public releases of Chromium. All set to sophisticated music. Makes you want to sail a yacht or something classy like that. Anyways, check it out, you’ll be surprised to see how Netbook Remix performs compared to Windows 7:
It’s not a shock that Windows 7 comes in dead last, but I would have expected Ubuntu to boot up much faster than than that. Let’s hope that newer versions of this Linux netbook OS are able to compete with other operating systems that plan on booting in under ten seconds.
Also, I’d like to point out this isn’t any sort of measurable test – for one thing, Chrome OS is supposed to boot much faster than this when running hardware specifications that are built for it. Although those specs are expected to be closely related to what Netbook Remix usually runs, they are surely not the same required for Windows 7, even the Starter Edition. Plus, this guy seems pretty enamored with Chrome by the way he spends so much time browsing with it during the video. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
According to the developer changelog, there are a few new features (more sure to come):
- Use of the default downloads directories in Windows 7 and Vista
- Better plugin stability for Mac
- A fix for tab dragging in Mac that used to cause Chrome to crash
Also, in the Under the Hood tab for Chrome Options, there is a new Content section for fonts, language and Google Gears settings:
Both Windows and Mac is supported for this developmental build. For those of you interested in making some money finding flaws in Chrome browser, you probably want to have the latest and greatest version. Just keep in mind this is a beta, and therefore it is a version that Google deems unstable. If you experience issues you can report them here.
UPDATE: For Mac users, there’s a different download link – thanks to the commenter who pointed this out!
There is no speculation at this point that Apple’s tablet has been way overhyped – but it’s been some great free marketing. Plus, the iPad has a leg up on its rivals in that it does not have any solid competition right now in this segment. Many are saying that at $499 ($130 if you want wireless 3G) for the entry level 16GB iPad that this tablet is a good price. But the reality is that it’s a good price because there are not many tablet products out there as well as the fact that it’s a pretty cheap Apple product.
The only other tablet products that are out now are made by PC manufacturers such as HP and Lenovo, but these devices usually come with Windows 7, have swivel keyboards and cost over $1,500. Those products are tagerted toward businesses, and that’s a totally different market altogether than what the iPad is currently focusing on.
What you’re getting is essentially a larger iPhone – without the phone. There’s no camera, you cannot multitask and typing anything other than short texts are going to be difficult unless Apple has some really groundbreaking technology in this product. And did I mention that the operating system for the iPad is closed source?
Apple still doesn’t offer a product in the netbook genre. Instead, they are releasing a tablet. This may be a good idea for them – but I have a feeling once the competition heats up that only those who are Apple diehards are going to want an iPad. In fact, at a recent presentation at Google’ London headquarters, Senior Product Manager of Search Anders Sandholm basically had to go the “no comment” route when asked about whether Chrome OS will have a multitouch tablet product.
Final thought? Apple is going to have a cash cow on their hands – until Google gets a product from a manufacturer like HTC or maybe even an MSI product running Android. Also Motorola has announced plans to bring out a product that is cheaper and has more capabilities. And there’s no doubt that many other companies are going to announce their plans as well.
Don’t believe that Apple is just using this tablet to pad the bottom line from slower iPod sales? Look at this bill of materials report on the iPad by Computerworld. Interpretation? Apple has room to drop this price when competitors arrive, but they will try to keep their healthy margins as long as they can.