Friday, May 26, 2006 

3G Embedded Modems the Latest Craze in Wireless

3G vendors started to develop these services before the advent of WiFi and widespread availability of broadband connections. Consequently, they envisioned a bevy of users who would need high speed data services. The market seems much smaller today.

At one time, users had to buy Ethernet adapters, install them in their desktop computers, and then upgrade them as they moved to a faster version of the networking option. Now when users buy a desktop system, it comes with an integrated adapter that supports a variety of transmission speeds. A similar transition is beginning with 3G wireless data services.
"Laptop vendors are interested in embedded 3G modems because it offers them the potential to differentiate their products and cellular carriers think it may encourage a few more users to rely on their services," noted Allen Nogee, a principal analyst with market research firm In-Stat/MDR.

Whether or not their hopes will become reality is uncertain. Prices for these devices are high, and currently, the modems lock customers into specific carriers' services, an unappealing option. Since cellular services have not been as functional as alternatives, such as broadband and WiFi , they have not garnered widespread acceptance.

To address the last problem, 3G carriers have been upgrading their networks, so they support faster transmission speeds. Many have made the transition from GPRS, which works at 115K bps, to EDGE, which operates 384K bps. On the docket are upgrades to HSDPA and UMTS (W-CDMA), which have the potential to support multi-M bps transmission rates.

Trying to Spur Sales
As speeds increase, cellular data services should become a more viable option for laptop users. Bundling the modems with the system is designed to make it entice enterprises to provide their users with 3G connectivity. "The uptick with cellular data services has not been as significant as carriers had hoped, so they have been looking for different ways to market their services," said Ken Dulaney, an industry analyst with market research firm Gartner . Bundling has been so successful with WiFi links that now almost all laptops come with an embedded WiFi modem.
Simpler management may be another benefit. Since employees are working with the same modem and same cellular carrier, corporate IT staff should have less trouble pinpointing problems.

In addition, the built-in WAN connections could lead to lower costs for the cards. "3G modem cards have been expensive, ranging in price from US$200 to $300," stated Jack Gold, president of consultancy J. Gold Associates. Users who often pay less than $1,000 for the laptop can find it difficult to justify such purchases. Theoretically, the integrated modems reduce the number of needed components, which cuts pricing, and should appeal to a wider range of users, thus driving up shipment volume.

Notebook Vendors Pick Partners
Consequently, there has been a lot of activity in this space. Lenovo has begun shipping its Z, T and X Series ThinkPads with Verizon Wireless data connections. Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ) nc6140 Notebook PC also has a Verizon link, and in April, the computer company said it plans to develop an embedded modem for Cingular's cellular networks. Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) integrated Cingular Wireless UMTS/HSDPA and Verizon Wireless EV-DO mobile WAN connections into its Latitude notebooks.

While there has been plenty of activity among laptop vendors and cellular carriers, however, user interest does not seem as keen for a variety of reasons. One problem with the current cards is they are tied to specific vendors. Switching from one service to another now requires a hardware alternation. The upgrade would require that users turn their systems in for at least a brief period as the new equipment is installed.

External modems can simply be unplugged. Even sticking with the same carrier does not solve the problem: many are moving to higher speed networks, which require new cards. "Since most users plan to keep their laptops for two to three years, they would have to upgrade their computers a couple of times, so we are recommending that they avoid the internal cards at this time," J. Gold Associates' Gold told TechNewsWorld.

Vendors are working to make the upgrade process simpler. Embedded modems that work with a variety of networks and support a range of speeds are on the drawing board, but they probably won't arrive for a few years.

Short Lived Differentiation
Once the multifunctional internal modems are shipped, hardware vendors will no longer have a feature to differentiate their hardware from competitors' products. "I don't think the imbedded modems will lead to many additional sales for hardware vendors," In-Stat/MDR's Nogee told TechNewsWorld.

Also, cellular data services tend to be expensive, costing at least $50 per month. "If you think about it, how often would most users work with a cellular data service: maybe an hour or two when they are sitting at an airport," noted Gartner's Dulaney. "There are faster, less expensive options available to them, such as WiFi and broadband, if they really need to access to data.'"
3G vendors started to develop these services before the advent of WiFi and widespread availability of broadband connections. Consequently, they envisioned a bevy of users who would need high speed data services.

Securing the Niche
The market seems much smaller today. The embedded modems will likely appeal to highly mobile employees, those in sales, field service , real estate, or public safety. If the number of users is small, the promised savings from increases in shipment volumes may not materialize. so vendors remain caught in a chicken-and-egg scenario: prices are high because shipments are low and shipments are low because pricing is high.

Consequently, analysts expect only limited use of these new modem in the next few years. "Eventually, the embedded modems will become more common, but in the short term, there does not seem to be many compelling reasons to buy them," concluded In-Stat/MDR's Nogee.


Hi-tech bid for joggers to reboot

THESE shoes are made for walking – and so much more.Sports giant Nike and computer titan Apple have joined forces to unveil a running shoe that tells runners the distance they've covered, their pace, time and how many calories they've burned.
But fitness fanatics and part-time plodders will have to wait until October for the Nike+iPod system.
They will also have to be prepared to fork out some big bucks, with the entire set-up expected to cost at least $370.
The system consists of a sensor kit, a special Nike shoe and an iPod nano.
The sensor is slipped into the shoe and measures a runner's activity, sending the information wirelessly to a receiver attached to the iPod.
The information can then be displayed on the iPod screen and audio progress reports given through the headphones at the touch of a button.
Runners can also call up a pre-programmed motivational song to give them a boost when their energy starts to flag.
"The result is like having a personal coach or training partner motivating you every step of your workout," Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said at the slick New York launch of the system yesterday.
After the workout, the iPod can be plugged into a home computer so the information can be downloaded and stored for performance comparisons.
A Nike spokeswoman in Australia said the first of the iPod compatible shoes, the Air Zoom Moire, was expected to reach our stores in October.
She said price had not been decided but the shoe was expected to retail for $100 in the US.
An iPod nano costs between $219 and $359, depending on memory space and the sensor kit, which is expected to be available from the Apple website within 60 days, costs $49.


Hi-tech: Nike and Apple have joined forces to unveil a running shoe that tells runners the distance they've covered, their pace, time and how many calories they've burned.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 

Secrets of US spying revealed on Web site

A technology news Web site has published documents that it said appear to have been filed under seal in a lawsuit accusing AT&T of taking part in a secret government program to track Americans' phone and Internet communications.

The site,, said the documents included a statement by former AT&T technician Mark Klein claiming that the telecommunications company built a "secret room" at one of its buildings in San Francisco that he believes housed equipment that allowed the federal government to monitor Internet traffic flowing on its network.
The documents that Wired posted online also include eight pages of technical drawings and tables, most of which are marked "AT&T Proprietary" that Klein said describe how to "spy on fiber-optic circuits."

A former chief technologist at the Federal Communications Commission, Dale Hatfield, said the documents posted on the Wired site appeared to be authentic and to describe a way to monitor traffic on a high-speed fiber-optic circuit.

A class-action lawsuit filed this year by the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation and others claims AT&T took part "in a secret and illegal government program to intercept and analyze vast quantities of Americans' telephone and Internet communications, surveillance done without the authorization of a court."

In court filings, AT&T has argued, without confirming or denying it carried out any of the activities alleged, that Congress and the courts have given blanket immunity to telephone firms that "respond to apparently lawful requests for national security assistance" from the government. The company has argued the lawsuit should be immediately dismissed.
The judge last week refused AT&T's request that certain documents filed under seal in the case be returned to the company, and he ordered the plaintiffs and their lawyers not to disclose those documents to anyone.


Saturday, May 20, 2006 

MacBook: What you need to know

The inside scoop on Apple's low-cost Intel laptop

The release of the MacBook Pro was big news: It was Apple’s first laptop with two processing cores, the first to use Intel chips, and had the feature set and price tag professional users are accustomed to. The new MacBook, on the other hand, replaces both the iBook and the 12-inch PowerBook G4 in Apple’s product line. As you might expect from a product that replaces both a consumer and professional system, the MacBook is a fascinating hybrid of high-end features and cost-conscious engineering. Now that we’ve spent several days with these new laptops, here are some answers to several burning MacBook questions.

How does the MacBook fit into Apple’s portable lineup?

With the release of the MacBook, Apple has discontinued its last two PowerPC-based laptop models: the 12-inch PowerBook G4 and both sizes (12.1-inch and 14.1-inch) of iBook. The 12-inch PowerBook was in many ways a souped-up iBook with a metal skin, so merging the two products together wasn’t that much of a stretch.

So only one size for the MacBook?

Currently, yes. There’s no word on if Apple will ever consider making a larger-screened version of the MacBook. For now, if you want a screen larger than 13 inches diagonal in a Mac laptop, you’ll need to move up to the MacBook Pro.

The MacBook is quite a bit bigger than the 12-inch PowerBook. What if I want a truly tiny Apple laptop?

We can imagine a day when Apple will come out with an ultra-small subnotebook. In fact, we daydream about it on a regular basis. Historically, Apple has shown very little interest in designing very small laptops. But things change, and the transition to Intel has opened up a new world of possibilities in terms of what parts Apple can use to assemble its computers. So you never know.

Why did Apple raise the price of the entry-level laptop? I used to be able to buy one for under $1000.

It’s true that Apple no longer has a $999 laptop, a fact that some have lamented already, as much for the psychological aspect as any other. But if you ignore everything else, this is a consumer-level laptop with a dual-core processor—a feature that can probably justify the price increase all by itself.

Apple could have chosen to release a cheap, underpowered MacBook with an underpowered Intel Core Solo processor—the same approach it took with its Intel-based Mac mini models—but it didn’t go down that path. (Apple’s MacBook product manager told us that the company wanted to simplify its portable product line, and tossing in one model that ran a different chip would have complicated matters.) As a result, even the lowest-priced MacBook is a remarkably powerful system.

So there’s a black MacBook model—what’s it like?

If you’re an old Mac hand, you’ll find the black MacBook quite reminiscent of the “Wall Street” generation of G3 PowerBooks. Unlike the white MacBook (or previous iBooks), the black MacBook has a matte finish. After less than a day of use, the trackpad on the black model was smudged with fingerprints, although the rest of the case remained in pretty good shape.

Other than the color, is there anything special about the black model?

When you get beyond the sheer blackness, the only difference between it and the 2.0GHz white model is a slightly bigger hard drive (80GB versus 60GB)—and a $200 price increase.

Wait, the hard drive upgrade is a $50 option, so does that mean Apple is charging $150 just for the color?

You subtracted correctly. If price is your main concern, then the black model is not a good deal. But with the U2 Special Edition iPod, Apple proved that it could charge more for a tweaked design. And people were ready to storm the Cupertino campus and throw cash at Steve Jobs’ feet when Apple released the iPod mini, which cost nearly as much as a full-size iPod, but with only a fraction of the storage space. Of course, the iPod mini went on to become the most popular iPod model ever. Since it also replaces the 12-inch PowerBook, Apple says the MacBook’s new and different look will appeal to the more professional customer who prefers the MacBook’s small size. Clearly, Apple is banking on the fact that its customers are still willing to pay a premium for a different design.

I hear Apple is using a glossy screen on the MacBook—isn’t that a bad thing? Won’t I just see my reflection all the time?

If you’ve ever walked past a PC laptop (or your TV, for that matter) and noticed that its screen was incredibly reflective, you’ve seen the same type of screen that’s been incorporated in the MacBook. In the right conditions the glossy screen looks absolutely gorgeous; blacks are blacker, whites are whiter, and colors are more intense. However, the screen is also remarkably reflective when compared to Apple’s previous laptop displays. If you frequently work in glare-filled environments, the MacBook might not be for you. It’s safe to say that some people will love it, and others will hate it.

But I liked the old screen—why did Apple change it?

According to Apple, iBook customers have been asking for a glossy screens for about as long as they’ve been available for PC laptops—and that’s been quite some time. But Apple says that it’s only now that the glossy-screen technology has advanced enough so that the company was comfortable adding the feature to its laptops. Apple’s MacBook product manager told us that the two big improvements in the glossy screens were a reduction in reflection levels and the elimination of color-distortion problems. When you consider that the screen is also 79 percent brighter than the one on the iBooks and 12-inch PowerBook, this new screen type might end up pleasing a whole lot of people.

How is the MacBook’s keyboard not like other keyboards?

The MacBook features an entirely new keyboard style for Apple. The biggest change is with its look. Previous Apple laptops have featured keyboards with keys that are wide at the base, but narrower at the top. As a result, even though there are fairly large spaces between the square areas where your fingers contact the keys, there are only tiny gaps down at the base of the keys.

This new MacBook keyboard does away with that approach. The MacBook’s keys don’t get wider at their base. Instead, they’re short, perfectly square key caps—although you can still pop them off if you want to, Apple says it’ll be harder for kids to do so, which is a good news for schools.

Although the feel of the MacBook’s keyboard is hard to describe, it’s definitely different. However, it’s quite usable, and we adapted to the new keyboard almost immediately. It doesn’t feel cheap at all—just different.

I see the MacBook uses the same GMA 950 integrated graphics as the Mac mini—should I be worried?

This is a consumer laptop, and as a result Apple has made some technological sacrifices. One is the MacBook’s lack of a graphics chip with dedicated video RAM. It’s the same graphics as you’ll find in the Mac mini. For most tasks, you probably won’t notice the lack of a video card at all—but if you try to play a 3-D game, you’ll see the difference. And the MacBook’s Core Duo processor can overcome many of the limitations of its graphics system. For example, we played back numerous 1080p high-definition videos with nary a hiccup on both the 1.83GHz and 2.0GHz models. And don’t forget that the MacBook improves on the resolution of the models it replaces.

Why does Apple only sell MacBooks with RAM in pairs that use up both RAM slots? The MacBook Pro ships with one RAM module instead of two.

Like the other Intel-based Macs, the MacBook uses dual-channel memory. Although you can put RAM in just one slot, when installed in matched pairs, the RAM can achieve its maximum throughput. According to Apple, you probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference on the MacBook Pro, which has a discrete graphics card. But on the MacBook, which shares up to 80MB of its main memory with the onboard graphics system, the extra speed you pick up by interleaving two separate RAM modules is vital.

Sounds like the 512MB of include RAM isn’t enough—should I custom-order a MacBook with more RAM?

We wouldn’t use a Mac with 512MB of RAM, so take that as a strong recommendation to upgrade. Apple usually charges a lot more for RAM than you can buy it for by searching a site such as Ramseeker. In the case of the upgrade to 1GB, however, Apple’s prices are pretty much in line with the industry. If that’s all you need, it’s probably best to let Apple do it. But if you want a MacBook stocked with 2GB of RAM, you could save as much as $300 by ordering your system with the stock 512MB, pulling those RAM modules out, and replacing it with modules you bought elsewhere.

How difficult is it to upgrade the RAM myself?

Not very hard at all. If you’re comfortable with a screwdriver and pushing and pulling RAM modules with a little force, you shouldn’t have any trouble. Just flip over the MacBook, remove the battery, unscrew the three screws holding the L-shaped aluminum strip in place, and you have access to the two RAM slots. Push the levers to pop out the modules, and put new modules in their places. (Want to see it in action? Check out our video.)

How about the hard drive?

The hard drive’s just about as easy. Once you’ve removed the same L-shaped aluminum strip that you need to remove to access the RAM, you’ve also exposed the front of the hard drive, tucked away on the left side of the battery bay. Just untuck out the white plastic tab that’s looped under the drive and then use it to slide the drive out into the bay. You can then unscrew the special metal drive enclosure, remove the drive, and attach the enclosure to a different Serial ATA laptop drive. (Our video covers this process too.)

What other goodies are inside the MacBook?

All models include a built-in iSight video camera, Front Row software with an Apple Remote, a MagSafe Power Adapter, AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0 wireless networking, Gigabit Ethernet, and analog and digital audio input and output.

Speaking of wireless networking, I’ve heard the MacBook has greater AirPort range than previous Apple laptops, and also sees more networks?

In our testing, both of those have been true. We’ve been able to stretch an AirPort Base Station signal a bit farther, and have noticed more networks popping up when clicking on the AirPort icon in the menu bar. Apple says the MacBook’s antennae (there are two, both located by the MacBook’s display: one placed horizontally on the left side and another placed vertically on the right) were designed specifically for the MacBook, and it definitely appeared to have better reception than older models. Although Apple officially supports connections only to 802.11b and 802.11g networks, the MacBook can actually connect to 802.11a networks, too.

I probably sound like a broken record, but there’s no modem, right?

Correct. As with all other Intel-based Macs, Apple has dropped the internal modem, and offers a $49 external USB version for those who need one.

What if I want to attach the MacBook to an external monitor?

You can do it, but you’ll need to buy one (or both) of two $19 video adapters. The MacBook’s video-out port is the same mini-DVI port found on the old 12-inch PowerBook G4. Apple sells a mini DVI-to-DVI adapter, as well as a mini DVI-to-VGA adapter. You’ll need one of those to hook it up to the external monitor of your choice (up to 1,920-by-1,200 pixels).

Won’t hooking the MacBook up to an external monitor just display the same thing that I’m seeing on my MacBook screen?

No. Although the MacBook can do video mirroring (where both monitors display the same thing), it also supports desktop extension—in other words, it can drive two monitors at once, no problem. You can even boot the MacBook with its lid closed, attached to an external monitor, if you want. Although the 12-inch PowerBook has the same capabilities, this is all new ground for iBook users.

I already own a MacBook Pro—can I use the power supply that came with it on a MacBook?

If you hold the two power supplies side by side, you’ll notice that the MacBook Pro’s is larger. That’s because the MacBook Pro uses an 85-watt power supply, while the MacBook uses a 60-watt power supply. Apple says you can use the more powerful, 85-watt power supply with a MacBook without any problems, and that in 80 percent to 90 percent of situations, you can use the MacBook’s power supply with the more-demanding MacBook Pro as well. If you’re really taxing the MacBook Pro’s processor with some heavy-duty work, the MacBook’s adapter will still be able to power the MacBook Pro—but it may not have any power left over to charge its battery.

Speaking of batteries, what’s the battery life like on the MacBook?

We haven’t had a chance to let it run dry yet, but Apple told us that the battery life is close to that of the iBook. Apple claims that in light use, the MacBook can run up to six hours on one charge. With more normal use, you could expect between three and three-and-three-quarters hours.

courtesy of:

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 

Apple Mac back in black!

Apple officially ditches iBook in favour of a slinky new MacBook, that’s also available in panther black. Grrr…

Now you can colour coordinate your black video iPod or nano with your notebook. Which is the most important thing, of course... [more images]

Slap yer thighs and yell “come ’ere boy!” because Apple has just launched the MacBook. Replacing the trusty iBook, MacBook swaggers onto the notebook scene packing a 13-inch widescreen, Intel Core Duo chip, iSight webcam, Wi-Fi and the all important new MagSafe power cable as standard.

But if like us you’ve fallen for the black version, this sultry shade is only available if you go for the ultimate model which comes with a 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo, 80GB hard drive and SuperDrive for DVD burning. Bit cheeky, nonetheless we’re there with bells on. This version will set you back a modest £1,029. Whereas if you go for the white entry-level beauty with its 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo chip, 60GB HDD and standard CD Combo drive you’ll only have to shell out £749. A genuine grade-A steal, bargain hunters.

We’ll be bringing you the first hands-on verdict tomorrow, so be sure to check back.


Xbox 360: Feel the Power

We all know that Xbox 360™ blows the doors off today's consoles in the power department. But just how much power does Xbox 360 have, and why do developers and gamers agree that it's the system to beat? Glad you asked!

By now you've already heard how Xbox 360 puts you at the center of the most powerful games on the planet—hence the "360," as in 360 degrees (geometry students will recognize that as the number of degrees in a circle). To accomplish this feat, Microsoft® has brought together a full circle of powerful factors.

Behold your future—Xbox 360 has the power!

Behold your future—Xbox 360 has the power!

Processing Powerhouse

The custom-designed Xbox 360 central processing unit (CPU) runs at a breakneck speed, thanks to its three separate core processors that clock in at 3.2 GHz each.

Xbox 360 boasts a custom ATI graphics processor that clocks in at a blistering 500 MHz. If you want to get even more technical (and who doesn't?) Xbox 360 can take advantage of more than four times as many polygons as the original Xbox® console, and more than four times (seeing a pattern here?) the number of pixels per second.

"Xbox 360 is the best. So we should

wait with a great anticipation."

Ninja Gaiden creator Tomonuba Itagaki

The 512 MB of RAM in Xbox 360 is eight times more powerful than the original Xbox, in terms of simple arithmetic. The system RAM gives developers a unified memory architecture. Game creators decide how to partition it, and all of the hardware components (like the CPU and GPU) can access the memory.

The HD Era

High definition is upon us, and Xbox 360 is ready. Games are required to be authored for 720p and 1080i, and all games are optimized for the 16:9 widescreen viewing ratio. That doesn't mean you have to have an HDTV to play Xbox 360 games. Xbox 360 games always look good, but they look spectacular on your high-definition display.

Hard Drive

The elegantly styled hard drive is physically very small and detachable, but it still boasts a whopping 20 GB of space. The sheer amount of downloadable content that fits on such a hard drive is staggering, and now you can rip more music onto your hard drive and play your own tunes as a soundtrack in any Xbox 360 game.

Smart Power

Xbox 360 utilizes 48 parallel shader pipelines in the GPU that developers can optimize to get the performance they want.. A huge battlefield in Kameo™: Elements of Power™ and a shadow-laden firefight in Perfect Dark Zero™ look completely different and show the diverse ways just one developer, Rare®, took advantage of the GPU's flexibility.

"You know if you have a 360 it will look

as good as it can possibly look."

—Pete Hines from developer Bethesda

Developers tell the smart Xbox 360 which graphics engines to use to make visuals as sharp as they can be. The console depicts the vastness of a space fleet engaged in a battle hundreds of miles across or a single human face with equal aplomb.

More than Games

Xbox 360 is first and foremost a gaming machine, and the number of amazing launch games and the intense focus on the gamer's experience cannot be denied. But Xbox 360 is also the center of your digital entertainment world. Not only will it play DVDs, but the system supports CDs, DVD-ROMs, DVD-R/RW, MP3s, JPEGs, and more.

Xbox 360 Online

Xbox Live®, the premier console online gaming service with more than two million members, is getting even better, with a huge new center of online commerce called Xbox Live Marketplace, and best of all, Xbox 360 is always online with your high-speed Internet connection.

"It's the best development environment

I've seen on a console."

—id Software's John Carmack

Xbox Live Silver, available to anyone with an Xbox 360 or Xbox 360 Core System console, a hard drive or a memory unit, and a broadband connection, provides many free features, including messaging and downloads. The second level of service—Xbox Live Gold, with the option to play multiplayer games online—costs the same as your original Xbox Live subscription.

USB? U Bet!
Xbox 360 boasts three multi-purpose USB ports (two in front, one in back), so there is almost no end to the various accessories and other pieces of hardware that will connect to the console and interact with it. The keyword here is versatility.

You can connect and stream media from a wide range of portable music players and digital cameras, or stream your digital music, photos, and more from your connected PC with Microsoft Windows XP or Windows XP Media Center 2005 Edition. For more information go to

No More Wires

Wireless integration is one of the most important aspects of Xbox 360. Right out of the box, the lightweight wireless controller—in fact, up to four lightweight wireless controllers—connect instantly to the console with no other peripherals needed.

Thanks to a cycling signal that avoids other wireless hardware in your house (such as telephones), there is never any delay between your thumb and the game.

The dedication to versatility even carries over to recharging your controller—with the Play & Charge Kit, you not only have a rechargeable controller battery, but a charge cable that actually recharges your battery pack while you're playing, or while Xbox 360 is in standby mode.

The wireless Xbox 360 controller is actually lighter than the wired Xbox Controller-S. Carry the wireless experience over to Xbox Live by plugging in the pocket-sized Wireless Networking Adapter.

Gamers First

Lest there be any doubt, one of the sharpest aspects of Xbox 360 power is somewhat unquantifiable—and that is the slate of fantastic games you play on the system and the way the inner workings of the console are all dedicated to making Xbox 360 the ultimate gaming experience. In addition to eagerly anticipated Microsoft titles like Kameo: Elements of Power, Project Gotham Racing® 3, and Perfect Dark Zero, you can also anticipate the exclusive QUAKE™ 4, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion™, and Call of Duty® 2, to name a few—and that's just the beginning.

Xbox 360 with the hard drive is backward-compatible for an array of original Xbox titles too, which means both original and Xbox 360 gamers will be able to play in the same matches online with Xbox Live.

The Competition? Meh.

Don't want to take our word for it? Check out the "Tech Head-to-Head" article published during E3, where they said, "The real power of the 360 is in its networking ability. We can't forget that Bill Gates's new system can also reach across the network to access media from local, Windows-based PCs."

Then there's Major Nelson, who did a nifty comparison (with charts and everything) where he concludes, "When you break down the numbers, Xbox 360 has provably more performance than PS3."

What the Developers Say

Who could be better judges of hardware than the game developers themselves?

"It's a wonderful machine to work with. I never lied about my impression of the hardware. It's definitely software-friendly hardware. From a developer's perspective, it's exactly the kind of hardware you want to work with."

—Tomonobu Itagaki, leader of Team Ninja and creator of Ninja Gaiden® and the Dead or Alive® series, quoted at E3 2005.

"It's the best development environment I've seen on a console."

—id Software's John Carmack on Xbox 360, quoted at QuakeCon 2005 (reported on GameSpy).

"The advantage of the Xbox 360 is that it's designed to run our game, period. You know if you have a 360 it will look as good as it can possibly look."

—Pete Hines from developer Bethesda, quoted on

"I can't speak much for Sony right now—yeah, we're working on stuff for the PS3 but honestly I'm so busy with Gears [of War] that it's all I'm seeing and I can tell you—Microsoft is giving you a hell of a system. This thing is a BEAST and is capable of MUCH GREATNESS."

—Cliff "Cliffy B" Bleszinski, creator of the Xbox 360 shooter Gears of War™, on his blog.

That Indefinable Quality

Talk about numbers all day—and without a doubt, the numbers on Xbox 360 show how powerful the new console is. But beyond simple numbers, there's the power of having one system that serves as the center of your entertainment lifestyle.

Xbox 360 isn't just about swinging its stats around like a club, it's about bringing you into the club. The Media Center Extender, wireless adaptability, an endless variety of USB-compatible hardware, and of course the greatest games in the world make the power of Xbox 360 crystal clear.

Welcome to the next generation of gaming with Xbox 360.

Monday, May 15, 2006 

Windows Media Player 11

Apple has been amazingly successful at winning over PC users and infiltrating their machines via iTunes, but with Windows Media Player 11 (WMP 11), Microsoft says "No more."

The new release, launched today as a beta download, beats Apple iTunes in many aspects. It acts as a repository and player for all your music, video, and images, unlike Apple's popular player. And while WMP 11 doesn't integrate with the iTunes Music Store, it also doesn't lock you in to one purchasing source. In fact, it integrates numerous stores including Napster,, Movielink, and MTV's new Urge service.

This release represents a major departure from the feel and navigation styles of WMP 10 and iTunes. With many other media players, you scroll through a list of files; WMP 11 lets you browse your library by cover. Some other players, like Yahoo! Music include the capability, but none do it as well. Bringing art to navigation makes the process much more appealing visually—your music collection no longer looks like a spreadsheet.

You'll also find the Word Wheel search technology Microsoft has implemented with Vista. Its speed is stunning—start to enter the first few letters of a track, album, or artist into the search bar, and the appropriate music will be waiting for you before you stop typing. Although iTunes has the same basic feature, seeing album art pop up is much more compelling than getting a list of tracks.—Continue reading

All Together Now

Navigation is also more unified than with iTunes, which still hasn't found a smooth way to integrate video files and podcasts into a general media library. With the Apple player, you use entirely different interfaces for the different media types. In WMP 11, though, the interface looks the same for all content types in all locations, so you browse, search, add, and delete photos no differently than music or videos. Searching for and editing content on portable devices works the same way as well. Windows Media Player 10 has a poorly integrated navigation system, so I'm pleased to see such a consistent one now.

During setup, the new media player searches your entire PC for compatible files and adds them to your library. If you're like me, though, you've got all kinds of cruddy audio files on your drive, and as happened with me, they'll end up in your library. I cleared out the whole list and started over, but on the second try, I specified the folders to be searched. The process wasn't as intuitive as iTunes' Add Folder command but was easy enough.

Once the player has built your library, the default view divides your music by album, with the artwork and artist info on the left, followed by track information. I love being able to browse by artwork, but in these days of Bit Torrents, indie music, and downloaded singles, large chunks of your collection will probably be missing such images. No worries: Half of my collection had no art, but when I started WMP the next day, Presto! It was magically there. Of course, if you don't want to browse by artwork, you can always use a simple List view.

In a few instances, WMP didn't find album art or had incomplete ID3 info, forcing me to search the database myself—a bit cumbersome, as I had to associate tracks to the album one by one. But as I did so, the software kept updating metadata, so most albums worked themselves out on their own. I was surprised by the depth of the ID3 catalog, supplied by All Music Guide. An album by my own band, Mere, automatically retrieved album art and ID3 info, despite having sold only 3,000 copies or so.

There was a hubbub a few months ago concerning privacy with the iTunes Mini Store because it phones home to transmit info about your listening (as do several of the popular players). For those with such concerns, the WMP 11 setup asks you if you'd like to disable the auto-connect capabilities, which are set on by default. At any time, you can turn off features that require connecting to the Internet.

The window layout is fairly straightforward. The familiar tree navigation, reminiscent of WMP 10 and iTunes, sits on the far left side and lets you select among views: Album, Artist, Song,, and others. Back and Forward buttons that look like those in Internet Explorer 7 reside at the top left and greatly simplify navigation.—Continue reading

Cheese and Other Features

The cheesy visualizations of the previous version remain—why, I don't know—and the equalizer is still just as hard to find. I was intrigued by the Display Lyrics and Captions option but wasn't able to get it to work, even when I chose ultra-poppy songs like The Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA," Michael Jackson's "Beat It," and Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone."

Windows Media Player 11 also includes easy-to-use ripping and burning features. You can compile and burn either audio or data CDs—you can even burn collections that span several discs. Very cool. I found the ripping options to be fairly extensive. You can rip to MP3, WAV, WMA (with several bit-rate options—full quality, variable bit rate, or up to 192 kbps). MP3 ripping maxes out at 320 kbps.

Syncing and loading portable players is much, much, much easier than with WMP 10, and is as smooth as what any of the other services, including iTunes, offer. Surprised? So was I. Getting music onto a portable player using the previous version was a truly awful experience, but this one lets you hook up your player, then simply drag files and drop them into the right-hand pane. As the media player scans your library, a meter lets you know how much room the device will have left when the files are copied onto it. When you get close to the limit, just hit sync to actually transfer the files.

The iTunes transfer feature has one advantage—it loads your device as you drag and drop, but that's the only way it's better. And there's a trade-off —WMP 11 lets you see what you're loading without switching views; iTunes doesn't. And with WMP 11's reverse sync you can easily get pictures or voice recordings off of your portable device and into your library. Still no iPod compatibility, though. If you've been holding your breath waiting for it, I'd exhale. It'll never happen.

As with music album covers, the folder view of photos shows the pictures in each folder in the form a virtual stack, with the top image visible. Clicking on a folder takes you inside. Clicking on an individual image blows it up to full size and starts a slide show of all the folder's images.

Microsoft still has some work to do before it launches Windows Media Player 11 for real. Metadata lookup could be faster, and the interface, while good, needs tweaking—for example, some of the buttons you use most often are too small. But this media player is a lot more fun to use than any other, and just as powerful. To check it out for yourself, go to (the link will be live on Wednesday, May 17th).


U.S. Dismisses Google Complaint, Says IE 7 Plays Fair

Government regulators on Friday dismissed claims that Microsoft's newest browser, Internet Explorer 7, gives the Redmond, Wash. company's own search engine an unfair advantage, knocking aside objections that Google recently raised.

The Justice Department has evaluated the search box -- a new feature in IE 7 that lets users initiate searches -- and concluded it "respects users' choices" and "is easily changed," according to a status report released Friday by federal and state officials.

Earlier this month Google complained that IE 7, which will ship later this year for Windows XP and within Microsoft's new operating system, Windows Vista, in January 2007, wasn't letting users pick a default search engine when it was installed.

"We don't think it's right for Microsoft to just set the default to MSN on install," Marissa Mayer, vice president for search products and user experience at Google, said then.

Microsoft's counterattack charged that Google wanted the default spot, and last week chief executive Steve Ballmer dismissed Google's complaint as sour grapes.

The Justice Department report said that although IE 7 may default to MSN's search service in some cases, it concluded the feature didn't violate the terms of Microsoft's antitrust agreement with the federal and state governments.

"OEMs are allowed to set the default search engine when the machine is first sold to a user, and Internet Explorer 7 itself includes a relatively straightforward method for the user to select a different search engine from the initial system default," the report read.

The number of steps to change the default search engine in IE 7 and Firefox, the open-source browser supported by Google with advertising revenue, are in fact identical: five.

Google has also raised the issue with European Union's antitrust regulators, who remain locked in a long-running case about Windows XP that recently went to appeal. The EU's Competition Commission has said it is looking into concerns that Windows Vista might also violate antitrust laws when it's released in 2007.

In the U.S., however, the matter appears closed. "Plaintiffs have concluded their work on this matter," Friday's report said.

Sunday, May 14, 2006 

Apple Computer wins apple logo lawsuit

Apple Computer has a cartoon-like apple with a neat bite taken out.Apple Corps uses a shiny green apple as its logo.(file photo)
BEIJING, May 14 (Xinhuanet) -- A U.S. judge ruled on Monday in favor of Apple Computer Inc. in the latter's right to use the apple logo on its iTunes Music Store.

Early on Apple Corps Ltd., the guardian of the Beatles' commercial interests, filed a lawsuit, charging the U.S. company of having broken a 1991 agreement in which each agreed not to infringe on the other's field of business.

Judge Edward Mann ruled that Apple Computer used the apple logo in association with the store, not the music, and thus did not breach the agreement.

"I conclude that the use of the apple logo ... does not suggest a relevant connection with the creative work," Mann said in his written judgment. "I think that the use of the apple logo is a fair and reasonable use of the mark in connection with the service, which does not go further and unfairly or unreasonably suggest an additional association with the creative works themselves."

While Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs was pleased with the turnout, Neil Aspinall, the manager of Apple Corps, vowed that his company would immediately appeal.

"We felt that during the course of the trial we clearly demonstrated just how extensively Apple Computer has broken the agreement," Aspinall said in a statement.

Lawyers for U.S.-based Apple Computer had argued that the logos used by the two Apples are different. While Apple Corps uses a shiny green apple as its logo, Apple Computer has a cartoon-like apple with a neat bite taken out, the lawyers said.

The two Apples have been in dispute for the past 25 years. The 1991 agreement ended previous lengthy litigation over the logo.

Apple Corps was started by the Beatles in 1968 and the Cupertino, California-based Apple Computer was formed in 1976 by two college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak on April Fools' Day.Enditem


Softbank and Apple to develop iPod phones

The Japanese Internet service company and the U.S. computer company are expected to launch handsets with the iPod functions as early as this year in Japan.

Softbank Corp. and Apple Computer Inc. are planning to jointly develop mobile phones that have built-in iPod digital music players and can download songs directly from Apple's iTunes Music Store, news reports said Saturday.

The Japanese Internet service company and the U.S. computer company are expected to launch handsets with the iPod functions as early as this year in Japan, Japanese business daily Nihon Keizai reported, citing unnamed sources.

The two companies also plan to develop a phone that can download songs using Softbank's wireless communication network next year, the paper said. Kyodo News agency had a similar report.

Officials of the two companies were not available for comment Saturday.

Softbank entered the mobile phone business in April after it acquired British mobile phone company Vodafone's struggling Japan unit. The acquisition allows Softbank to take over the more than 15 million Japanese uses who have signed on to the carrier, as well as its mobile network, instead of building it from scratch.

The reported plan comes amid intensifying competition in the mobile phone business.

On Thursday, NTT DoCoMo, Japan's biggest mobile carrier, and Microsoft Corp. announced to jointly provide music services for mobile phones this summer. The second largest mobile phone company KDDI Corp. has drawn users through its music download feature.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 

Nokia to add Google Talk to tablet device

Nokia Corp. is adding the Google Talk application to a Nokia handheld Internet browsing device, in a move that could help boost the search company's reach in mobile communications.

Finland-based Nokia on Tuesday plans to announce that an upgraded version of its Internet Tablet device will come ready loaded with Google Inc.'s Talk service, which enables users to have voice conversations and exchange instant messages, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The device, which relies on short-range technology known as WiFi rather than cell phone networks, isn't a cell phone.


Google goes after Microsoft

Google Inc. took direct aim at rival Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday by unveiling several search products while simultaneously calling the Redmond, Wash., software giant a "convicted monopoly."

Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder, made the unusually harsh comments about Microsoft at his company's annual press day in Mountain View.

He voiced concerns that Microsoft may use illegal tactics to give its own search engine preferential treatment in an upcoming release of its Windows Vista operating system for computers. He then recalled Microsoft's past legal battle with the now-defunct Netscape Communications Corp. over Internet browsers in which Microsoft was found by a federal court to have abused its power.

"We certainly see a history with that particular company, Microsoft, behaving anti-competitively, being a convicted monopoly," Brin said. He then talked about Google taking preemptive action against any future abuse by Microsoft, including lobbying the Justice Department.

Microsoft has denied any intentions to engage in anti-competitive behavior.

Brin's comments contrasted sharply with what was otherwise a get-along theme at Wednesday's event. Google executives repeatedly downplayed any rivalry with Microsoft -- or with Web portal Yahoo Inc., for that matter -- and emphasized that they're focusing on their own products.

Google's new features Wednesday, many released as tests, are intended to help users find and organize information. The products illustrate Google's dual strategy of connecting users with information through their Internet browsers, and a more recent initiative to get users to download desktop software onto personal computers.

Desktop software is Microsoft's traditional turf. Google's increasing interest in the area has ratcheted up an already formidable rivalry.

Google Notebook, to be released next week, will allow users to keep notes on a scratch pad. Users will be able to store text, links or images as they sift through results while shopping or for school research; users can then review the information privately or share it.

Google Co-op, another new product, makes searching more of a social event. Users can help others by labeling Web pages or creating specialized links to which others can subscribe.

Already, Google has signed up a number of partners to annotate Web pages about health and city guides. A few businesses have also contributed. Google said the companies do not pay to be included.

Users who subscribe may see results from a business of their choice above the traditional Google results. The theory is that such results will be more relevant and therefore deserve to be in a more prominent location.

Google also unveiled Google Trends, a product that allows users to see the popularity of specific search results over time. A user who enters "full moon," for example, will see a trend line showing that the popularity of the query spikes about once a month, but because of proprietary concerns, users cannot actually see the number of individual searches of specific terms.

In addition, Google upgraded its desktop search engine to allow users to more easily download so-called widgets, tiny programs that reside on desktop computers. They allow users to get information such as weather reports, for example, without having to open a browser.

Andy Beal, chief executive of Fortune Interactive, an online advertising company, said none of the products Google unveiled Wednesday is revolutionary. Many have been available from other companies, either for free or for a fee, he said.

"There wasn't really anything today that was groundbreaking technology," Beal said. "It was great to see Google offer them, but they have been offered by other companies for at least a couple years."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006 

A new PlayStation generation -- for $499

Los Angeles -- The highly anticipated PlayStation 3 video game console will be available for $499 in the United States starting Nov. 17, Sony executives said Monday.
In a news conference one day before the start of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Sony officials sought to build momentum for the fall launch by providing hard information about their next-generation platform and displaying new games that showcased the visual and audio breakthroughs made possible by PlayStation 3 technology.
Kaz Hirai, president of Sony Computer Entertainment America, and Phil Harrison, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, hoped gamers would be impressed by the pricing of the new unit and its next-generation controller, which will feature "six-degree" sensing capability to enhance gameplay.
The pair also showed off an array of games from their studios and third party developers that are part of Sony's response to Microsoft's Xbox 360, which launched last fall.
"We have said the next generation doesn't start until we say it does," Hirai said. "Today the PlayStation 3 is real. The future is today."
Hirai concluded the Sony news conference by announcing pricing information, which many considered the most pressing detail. At $499, Sony's 20-GB PlayStation 3 is $100 more than a fully equipped Xbox 360. Hirai said a 60-GB version will be available for $599 at the Nov. 17 launch.
During the news conference, Harrison showed off the new PS3 controller, which, while looking like the PS2 controller, has a built-in sensor that follows the movement of the controller and translates that into gameplay.
When used in a game like WarHawk, which was demonstrated at the event, the user pulls up and down on the controller and controls the pitch and rolls of a fighter jet in a manner reminiscent of the new gyroscope-equipped controller for Nintendo's Wii platform.
"This controller allows me to unlock the most fluid movement in games," Harrison said. "It feels very intuitive. I'm very excited what it means not only for developers, but what it means for consumers."
Earlier in the news conference, Hirai touted the networking capability of the PlayStation 3, which will allow players to connect online with other users for free and buy additional levels and enhancements. With a built-in hard drive, the PlayStation 3 will support broader downloadable games, said Hirai.
Hirai said the Blu-ray DVD format will not only allow users to play next-generation high-definition movies but also will create more capacity for game developers to pack on to game discs.
Ankarino Lara, vice president for video game Web site GameSpot, said Sony failed to hit one out of the park with its announcements. He said the game demonstrations, while impressive, did not seem markedly different from what is available on the Xbox 360. And he said the price of the PlayStation, with a second controller and its first game, will be out of reach for all but early adopters.
Sony has enjoyed a strong historical lead over its console rivals, commanding more than 50 percent of platform sales. But Microsoft gained an edge last year by releasing its Xbox 360 a full year ahead of the PlayStation 3. Analysts believe Microsoft will have sold 8 million to 10 million Xbox 360s by the time the PlayStation 3 hits the shelves.
But that lead isn't insurmountable. With the Blu-ray DVD player included, Sony could get a big bump in sales. Much as it helped jump-start the DVD revolution with its PlayStation 2, the new PlayStation could lead movie fans into the high-definition DVD era with the relatively low price of its Blu-ray DVD player. Some standalone Blu-ray players are due to sell later this year for $1,000.


FAQ's on 3GP for Mobile phones

What is 3G?

3G stands for third generation, a generic wireless industry term for high-speed mobile data delivery over cellular networks. 3G networks allow users to send and receive bandwidth-intensive information such as video, video conferencing, high quality audio and web data on-demand, virtually anytime and anyplace.

What is 3GP?

3GP - is the new mobile phone video file format.
3GPP, 3GPP2 are the new worldwide standard for the creation, delivery and playback of multimedia over 3rd generation, high-speed wireless networks. Defined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project and 3rd Generation Partnership Project 2 respectively, these standards seek to provide uniform delivery of rich multimedia over newly evolved, broadband mobile networks (3rd generation networks) to the latest multimedia-enabled wireless devices. Tailored to the unique requirements of mobile devices, 3GPP and 3GPP2 take advantage of MPEG-4, the standard for delivery of video and audio over the Internet.

.3gp 3GPP standard, GSM Network, Video: MPEG-4, H.263, Audio: AAC, AMR
.3g2 3GPP2 standard, CDMA2000 Network, Video: MPEG-4, H.263, Audio: AAC, AMR, QCELP.

The evolution of high-speed wireless digital networks is based on two predominant technologies � GSM and CDMA2000. Both types of 3G networks are currently being deployed worldwide to offer consumers a variety of on-the-go multimedia services.

3GPP and 3GPP2 Mobile Infrastructure Solutions � Many of the world�s largest telecommunications infrastructure companies provide 3GPP and 3GPP2 mobile content delivery products and services to operators. Examples include:
* Alcatel
* Ericsson
* Nokia
* Siemens Mobile
* Sun Microsystems

3GPP and 3GPP2 Mobile Phones � Many of today's new mobile phones offer 3GPP and 3GPP2 content capture and playback capabilities. Leading providers of these standards-based multimedia phones include:
* Motorola
* Nokia
* Panasonic
* Sanyo
* Sharp
* Sony Ericsson
* Toshiba
* Qualcomm


Intel Announces New Brand Name for Chips

Core 2 Duo will debut this summer, replacing Conroe and Merom code names.

Intel will sell its new generation of 65-nanometer desktop and laptop chips under the brand name Core 2 Duo when it launches them this summer, the company says. Intel plans to launch its desktop chip, code-named Conroe, in July and its laptop chip, code-named Merom, in August.

"You could kind of say we're core crazy," company spokesperson Bill Kircos explains. "It's a way of saying 'Hey, this isn't your grandfather's PC'."

Both chips will be built with Intel's new 65-nanometer Core Microarchitecture design. After their launch, Intel will have a common architecture for its consumer, gaming, notebook, and business-desktop lines.

More Cores, More Efficiency

Chip vendors such as Intel and AMD have designed their latest processors with multiple cores in each chip as an energy-efficient way to process more software code without increasing clock speed, heat, and electricity demands. Just like cars, faster chips are generally less efficient.

Under Intel's new marketing plan, both the desktop and laptop chips will be called Core 2 Duo, with each chip distinguished by a following five-part alphanumeric code.

The first element will be a letter connoting the power draw of the chip: "U" for ultralow voltage (below 15 watts); "L" for low voltage (15 to 24 watts); "T" for standard mobile (25 to 55 watts); E for standard desktop (55 to 75 watts); and "X" for extreme (above 75 watts).

The next four elements will be a numeric code, with Conroe chips in the 4000 and 6000 series and Merom chips in the 5000 and 7000 series. Additional numbers will represent other features--for instance, the chips' suitability for Intel platforms such as Centrino for mobile PCs, Viiv for home entertainment, or vPro for business desktops.

Still Room for Extreme CPU

As an example of this nomenclature, a high-end desktop chip might be called the Core 2 Duo E6800. However, Intel will call its high-end gaming desktop processor the Core 2 Extreme.

The new Core 2 Duo nomenclature will supersede the Pentium D dual-core brand for desktops, and eventually take over for future chip designs such as four-core and eight-core processors, Kircos says.

Sunday, May 07, 2006 

Cisco to update Wi-Fi setup

Cisco Systems is planning to announce a new wireless module for its Catalyst 6500 Ethernet switch that will provide more centralized management and enhanced features for Cisco's Wi-Fi product.

According to one analyst, the capabilities provided by the module will put Cisco's gear on par with products from start-ups such as Airespace and Aruba Wireless Networks.

"Cisco is catching up to offering capabilities that other companies introduced a year ago," said Dave Passmore, research director for the Burton Group. "So in that respect, it's a big deal for them."

Cisco's wireless product is made up of three parts. Its Aironet wireless access points transmit the Wi-Fi radio frequency signals. The Wireless LAN Solution Engine (WLSE) provides centralized management of the access nodes. And the Catalyst 6500 Ethernet switch provides the link from the wireless network to the customer's data network.

These products are all a part of Cisco's SWAN (Structured Wireless Aware Network) architecture, introduced last year. The concept is designed to enable current Cisco customers to integrate wireless services into networks already running Cisco networking gear.

The new module will fit into the Catalyst 6500 Ethernet switch and is designed to provide more intelligence so that more functionality can be centrally controlled by the WLSE. The new module will offer several new features, including dynamic selection of radio frequency and automatic power adjustment on the Aironet access points.

The addition of these features is important as more companies rely on Wi-Fi for network access. One problem with many Wi-Fi installations is that performance suffers when a user gets close to the edge of a coverage area. The performance degradation not only affects the user who is wandering out of range, it also affects every other user attached to that access point. To mitigate this problem, companies have begun installing more access points in denser configurations.

But this has caused another problem for system administrators. Because there are more access points set up closer together, it's more likely that radio-frequency signals from one access point could overlap with a neighboring node. Administrators also must make sure the power level on the access points is adjusted properly. Before Cisco added these new capabilities to the Catalyst 6500, administrators had to manually configure every access point.

"It's a very labor intensive process," said Passmore. "It's more an art than a science in trying to get all channels assigned properly and making sure the power was adjusted right."

Cisco is one of the first large companies to incorporate these features into its wireless products. Others such as Extreme Networks and Foundry Networks are supposedly working on similar functionality.

But start-ups including Airespace and Aruba have been offering these features for about a year. While Cisco and the rest of the established Ethernet switch market have been scrambling to catch up, these start-ups have moved forward, adding even more features like client location tracking. This feature becomes important as mobile voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones are added to the network. It allows for services such as E911 to work.

Cisco doesn't offer this feature yet, according to Passmore.

But even with a richer and more mature feature set, Wi-Fi start-ups will likely struggle to win deals among Cisco's customers, many of whom are willing to wait for Cisco to add new features to its portfolio.

Along with the new module, Cisco's Wednesday announcement will provide more information about its strategy for wireless networking. The company declined to comment on the specifics of the announcement for this story.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 

Microsoft may delay Vista again

SEATTLE, Washington (Reuters) -- Microsoft Corp.'s long- awaited release of the upgrade to its flagship Windows operating system will likely be delayed again by at least three months, research group Gartner Inc. said Tuesday.

The research note, released to clients Monday, said the new Windows Vista operating system is too complex to be able to meet Microsoft's targeted November release for volume license customers and January launch for retail consumers.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company disagreed with the Gartner report and it was still on track to meet its launch dates.

Vista is the first major overhaul of its operating system, which sits on 90 percent of the world's computers and accounts for nearly a third of Microsoft's total revenue, since Microsoft rolled out Windows XP nearly five years ago.

Microsoft originally targeted a 2005 launch for the new Windows, then pushed the release out to 2006 before announcing in March that Vista would again be delayed to improve the product's quality.

Gartner targets a Windows Vista release in the April-June quarter of 2007, nine to 12 months after Microsoft conducts a second major test, or "beta," release for Vista during the current quarter.

"Microsoft still wants to get it out as soon as possible, but slipping from January to March is nowhere near as bad as slipping from shipping before the holidays to after the holidays," a group of Gartner analysts wrote in the report.

Gartner said Windows XP took five months to go from a second test release to the start of production, but the magnitude of technological improvement in Vista is closer to Windows 2000, which took 16 months between the second test and production.

Once production starts, it usually takes between six- to eight-weeks for PC manufacturers to load the operating system onto new computers, Gartner said.

Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Mac Vulnerability Tops List of Security Flaws

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) computer users have long been immune from the Internet nasties that infect users of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows PCs, but that's beginning to change, according to a report released Monday by the SANS Institute.

The institute said in a statement that in light of recent attacks on Apple's Safari browser, SANS experts agree that Apple's operating system, OS X , still remains safer than Windows, but its reputation for offering a bullet-proof alternative to the Microsoft OS is in tatters.

As attackers are increasingly turning their attention to Apple, OS X vulnerabilities are being discovered at a rapid pace, the statement noted.

Hackers Favor Macs

"Users often feel invincible when they have their shiny silver-colored Apple and they're surfing the Net with it," observed Ed Skoudis, a senior security analyst with Intelguardians in Middletown, N.J.

"They think, 'All these vulnerabilities are out there for Windows, and I'm not using Internet Explorer so I must be safe,' and that's not true," he said at a telephone news conference held by SANS on Monday.

He revealed that the Macintosh , especially since it became an Intel-based machine, has become a favorite of hackers. "If you go to a hacker conference, you'll see that when they're doing presentations there, about 70 percent of the time they're presenting off a Macintosh," he said.

Drive-By Infections

He explained that recent flaws discovered in the Apple platform facilitate "drive-by infections."

"If you surf to a given Web site, it will hack your machine, install malicious code on it and let an attacker remotely control it," Skoudis said.

"Given all the research and all the use of this by the computer underground, I expect to see a whole lot more of this," he added.

Slow Patching

Apple's maintenance of the open source components of its code may be contributing to its platform's vulnerabilities, noted Johannes Ullrich, chief technology officer with the SANS Internet Storm Center in Boston.

"Apple uses a lot of open source products, but Apple is late in implementing some of the patches for vulnerabilities in these products," he said.

"What's happening is vulnerabilities are being disclosed and fixed in open source products, but the fix is not being implemented for OS X users. As a result, the window of vulnerability is extended to OS X users," he concluded.

Internet Exploiter

In addition to the increase in OS X attacks, SANS identified seven other major Internet vulnerability trends:

  • A substantial decline in the number of critical vulnerabilities in Windows Services and a corresponding increase in attacks through flaws in client-side software.

    "In the 90-odd services that are installed on Windows XP in the last six months, only about four critical vulnerabilities have been found," observed Amol Sarwate, manager of the vulnerability management lab at Qualys in Redwood Shores, Calif.

  • Continuing multiple zero-day vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer. A zero-day vulnerability is one that can be exploited before it can be fixed.

    "I think it's almost time to rename the Internet Explorer to Internet Exploiter, because rather than it exploring the Internet for you, the chances of you being exploited using Internet Explorer are much higher," quipped Rohit Dhamankar, security research manager for the TippingPoint Division of 3Com (Nasdaq: COMS) in Austin, Texas.

  • Rapid growth in Firefox and Mozilla vulnerabilities.

    "We see as many exploits or vulnerabilities in Firefox as we do see in Internet Explorer," noted Ullrich, of the Internet Storm Center. "So Firefox is a bit safer but it's not the cure all for safe Net browsing.

    "The one advantage you have with Firefox is that it's typically patched much faster," he added. "For critical vulnerabilities, patches arrive for Firefox within a week; with Microsoft, you have to wait for the monthly cycle."

  • Surge in the number of zero-day attacks used for monetary gain.

    Skoudis of Intelguardians noted that information highwaymen have been busy refining their business models. He cited one technique where malicious code hidden on a machine will scrape the advertising from Web pages and replace it with a spammer's ads.

    "When you do a search at your favorite search engine, those ads that come back might not be from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) itself but edited locally by spyware on your machine," he explained.

  • Rapid growth in vulnerabilities that allow unauthorized access to database, data warehouse and data backup information.

    "I don't see that trend as having surged, but I do see this one as a trend that's taking shape," observed SANS Director of Research Alan Paller.

  • A surge in file-based attacks, especially attacks using media files.

    "What hackers are trying to find is, if they can make a bad Excel file or a bad Word file, does the program crash and allow them to compromise the system," explained Ullrich, of the Internet Storm Center.

  • Spreading use of "spearphishing" attacks, especially among defense and nuclear energy sites.

    "These attacks are much less for money and much more for stealing sensitive information," SANS Research Director Paller said. "There's a massive spreading scourge of spearphishing."

Add to Google

The Author

  • Nick Perrydoo
  • Spawn at Philippines
My profile


Read Ons

Article of the Day

This Day in History

Today's Birthday

In the News

Quotation of the Day

Word of the Day

Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates
© Copyright 2006 Ba-zoo-ra - All Rights Reserved.