Microsoft working to prevent developers from salvaging killed-off Start button in Windows 8, source says

Microsoft is so determined to wean users off Windows 7 and get them on board with Metro that, according to Paul Thurrott of Supersite for Windows, it’s “furiously ripping out” legacy code from Windows 8 that would enable developers to revive the killed-off Start button, the Start Menu, and other familiar vestiges of past operating systems that Redmond plans to put out to pasture.

Thurrott writes:

I’ve seen that several well-known UI hacks that worked fine with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview are no longer functional in the coming Release Preview.

Talk about cutting off your users cold turkey..

For the full scoop on Microsoft’s efforts to clean house in Windows 8, head over to Supersite for Windows.

Source: The Verge

Apple by far the biggest consumer of semiconductor chips

CNET reports that Apple is far and away the world’s premier purchaser of semiconductor products. According to the site, Apple not only leads all others in computer chips procured, it outpaces even second-place Samsung by a wide margin, buying nearly 50 percent more memory and processors than its South Korean rival.

Interestingly, though, much of the estimated $30 billion Apple is expected to spend in 2013 will go to Samsung, which, on top of being a consumer of semiconductor products, is also one of the industry’s largest manufacturers.

Leap Motion’s 3D motion-tracking system puts Wii, Kinect to shame with its amazing accuracy

 Leap Motions 3D motion tracking system puts Wii, Kinect to shame with its amazing accuracy

Six years ago, Nintendo’s Wii brought to life the touch-free motion control shown off in 2002′s “Minority Report,” and four years after that, Microsoft took the fledgling technology to the next level with its Kinect peripheral. Yesterday, though, a San Francisco startup made both look positively primitive. Leap Motion, fresh off a successful opening round of funding, unveiled Sunday its Leap motion-control system, and get this: The company claims Leap, which enables users to manipulate their computers in hands-free fashion, is 200 times more sensitive than its competition.

Using a small USB input device along with sophisticated software, Leap creates a 4-square-foot three-dimensional interaction space within which users’ touch-free gestures are captured and translated with pinpoint accuracy – down to a hundredth of a millimeter, the company boasts.

According to CNET, which witnessed Leap in action, the technology is ideal for

  • Navigating an operating system or browsing Web pages with the flick of a finger
  • Finger-pinching to zoom in on maps
  • Letting engineers interact with a 3D model of clay
  • Precision drawing in either two- or three-dimensions
  • Manipulating complex 3D data visualizations
  • Playing games, including those that require very “fast-twitch” control
  • Signing digital documents by writing in air

And unlike Microsoft, which closely guarded Kinect before eventually letting developers have their way with it, Leap Motion will make its technology widely available to developers off the bat.

Michael Buckwald, Leap Motion’s CEO, told CNET:

We want to create as vibrant a developer ecosystem as possible, and we’re reaching out to developers in all sorts of [fields].

We believe that ultimately, the sheer number of use cases for this technology are so great that the value can only be realized by making it open. So think what would have happened if the mouse had been initially been released as a closed technology. The impact would have been a tiny, tiny percentage of what the impact was because it was an open system that anyone could develop for.

We want there to be world-changing applications that fundamentally transform how people interact with their operating system or browse the Web…. The goal is to fundamentally transform how people interact with computers and to do so in the same way that the mouse did, which means that the transformation affects everyone, both from the most basic use case all the way up to the most advanced use cases you can imagine for computing technology.

And if developer interest is any indication, Leap’s off to a good start. Buckwald said the company has already received more than a thousand inquiries about its technology, and while it plans to work with just a few hundred of them for now, Leap Motion will soon send out as many as 20,000 free developer kits.

When Leap makes its public debut early next year, it should cost in the neighborhood of $70.

Windows Phone surpasses iPhone in China with 7% market share

Emerce.nl reports that Windows Phone 7 has taken China by storm in the short time it’s been available. According to Microsoft, despite spending only two months on Chinese shelves, Windows Phone now accounts for roughly 7 percent of the country’s smartphone market, exceeding even Apple’s iPhone, which has a 6 percent slice.

Michel van der Bel, Microsoft’s COO of the Greater China Region, said of Windows Phone’s incredible traction:

We’ve only just begun. Our smartphone and tablet-pc are hybrid, making them suitable for the consumer, but also easy to insert within an existing company infrastructure. This will allow us to better anticipate the consumerization of IT than many competitors.

While Windows Phone’s nearly instant success comes as a surprise, its popularity doesn’t. IDCpredicted in June of last year that Windows Phone would overtake the iPhone in China, but the market researchers thought the power shift would take much longer than it has.

Windows Phone also recently surpassed the iPhone in Russia.

Kodak to bankruptcy court: Apple holding up $2.6B patent sale, clearly trying to get portfolio for a steal

With a value that could approach $2.6 billion, Kodak’s patent portfolio could get the bankrupt company’s debtors off its back. If only it could sell it. Unfortunately for the defunct camera maker, Apple stands in its way. In a move that’s infuriated Kodak, the Cupertino-based company has claimed ownership of key Kodak patents, effectively putting the brakes on their sale.

Specifically, Apple alleges Kodak took digital-camera technology it learned from Apple during a former partnership and claimed it for itself.

And here’s where things get really interesting: Observers say Apple might buy Kodak’s patent portfolio, so by holding up its sale and driving down its price amid the dispute, Apple could be setting itself up for a bargain-basement deal. What’s more, Kodak claims the iPad maker has infringed on several of its patents and ought to fork over more than a $1 billion in damages and royalties. But by snatching up Kodak’s patents on the cheap, Apple could avoid paying, well, anything. Besides the price of the patents, of course. After all, you can’t infringe on patents you own.

Kodak , desperate to offload its property and satisfy hungry creditors, appealed to a bankruptcy judge in a court filing Monday:

Apple’s decision to press its ownership claims now … should be seen for what it is, namely, a ploy calculated to prevent the debots from using the [bankruptcy] sale process to obtain a fair price for Kodak’s digital capture portfolio (or to enable Apple to buy it no the cheap and extinguish its infringement exposure).

Kodak asked the judge to address the matter at a June 14 hearing.

Apple to hold conference call March 19, will announce plans for its massive cash reserves

Apple has announced that it will hold a conference call tomorrow, Monday, March 19, to discuss the company’s plans for its nearly $100 billion in cash reserves. The call will take place at 6 a.m. PST/ 9 a.m. EST, and will be hosted by CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer. Many have speculated that the company could be issuing a dividend, while others have suggested that Apple may announce a stock buyback. It’s also possible that the company has made a significant acquisition. Either way, tune in tomorrow to hear the mystery unfold.

Press release below:

WHAT: Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, and Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, will host a conference call to announce the outcome of the Company’s discussions concerning its cash balance. Apple® will not be providing an update on the current quarter nor will any topics be discussed other than cash.

WHERE: Via conference call. The dial-in number for press is (877) 616-0063 (toll-free) or (719) 219-0041. Please enter confirmation code 592016.

WHEN: Monday, March 19, 2012 at 6:00 a.m. PDT/9:00 a.m. EDT

Source: Apple

This American Life retracts ‘Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory’ episode

This American Life, a popular radio program, has retracted a popular episode entitled “Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory.” The episode garnered attention for supposedly offering insight into Apple’s factories. Well, as it turns out, it didn’t, and parts of that episode were made up.

This American Life had this to say:

Regrettably, we have discovered that one of our most popular episodes was partially fabricated. This week, we devote the entire hour to detailing the errors in “Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory,” Mike Daisey’s story about visiting Foxconn, an Apple supplier factory in China. Rob Schmitz, a reporter for Marketplace, raises doubts on much of Daisey’s story.

Mr. Daisey took to his blog to say:

What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed THIS AMERICAN LIFE to air an excerpt from my monologue. THIS AMERICAN LIFE is essentially a journalistic – not a theatrical ­- enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations.

Unknown group brings The Pirate Bay to its knees with DDoS attack

It’s no surprise that The Pirate Bay is under fire again. It’s always under fire. Over its eight-year history, the most popular file-sharing site in the business has irked governments and multi-billion-dollar companies alike, but despite repeated attempts at dismantling the site, including a British ban, the self-proclaimed “most resilient BitTorrent site in the galaxy” has endured. But something’s different about the latest assault. It has succeeded. For the past 24 hours, The Pirate Bay has been mostly inaccessible. The culprit? Neither the British High Court nor some disgruntled Hollywood studio. Rather, The Pirate Bay has been brought to its knees by a sustained DDoS attack perpetrated by an unidentified group.

Ironically, just last week, a similar attack was carried out against Virgin Media on The Pirate Bay’s behalf. Anonymous, a band of Internet vigilantes, sought to disrupt the company’s Web traffic after it complied with a court order to block access to the site. The Pirate Bay condemned the action in a statement.

We do NOT encourage these actions. We believe in the open and free internets, where anyone can express their views. Even if we strongly disagree with them and even if they hate us. So don’t fight them using their ugly methods. DDOS and blocks are both forms of censorship.

Whoever’s behind the latest attack, The Pirate Bay is confident their success will be short-lived. The site told TorrentFreak it expects to be back online for a majority of users within a few hours.

Source: TorrentFreak

Lenovo unveils world’s lightest Ultrabook: ThinkPad X1 Carbon

lenovo carbon1 Lenovo unveils worlds lightest Ultrabook: ThinkPad X1 Carbon

HP might have the cheapest Ultrabook around in the $749 Envy, but Lenovo will soon have the lightest. The company announced Monday that it will debut a 14-inch, three-pound laptop alongside its refreshed ThinkPad lineup. Lenovo said its feather-light ThinkPad X1 Carbon is just 18 millimeters thick at its thickest point, but despite its bony frame, the X1 doesn’t skimp on features. Rather, it packs a 1600 x 900 display; an unspecified Intel Ivy Bridge processor, a deep, backlit keyboard; a smooth trackpad with an eraserhead pointer and real mouse buttons; a pair of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports; a Mini DisplayPort socket; a 3.5mm headphone jack; an SD card slot; a fingerprint reader; and a Rapid Charge option, which will fill the X1′s battery to 80 percent capacity in just 30 minutes. Oh, and the chassis is coated in a fingerprint-resistant soft-touch rubber, so your Ultrabook won’t look like a freshly dusted crime scene after every use.

Lenovo hasn’t said how much the X1 will cost, but The Verge suspects it could be expensive when it hits shelves sometime in the next two months.

Source: The Verge

Apple talking to ESPN with an eye to lining up content for its TV

China Daily might’ve been full of it when it said Foxconn’s chief described Apple’s television as imminent, but that doesn’t mean Cupertino isn’t hard at work on its long-rumored TV. On the contrary, Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the iPad maker is engaged in talks with ESPN aimed at bringing the network’s WatchESPN application to Apple’s TV. The Disney-owned sports network, which already serves content to Xbox owners through certain cable providers, told Bloomberg that while a deal is likely, it’s far from being completed.

Sean Branches, ESPN’s executive vice president of affiliate and advertising sales, said, “We’re a platform-agnostic content company. To the extent that in the future there’s an opportunity with Apple to authenticate through the pay-TV food chain as we’re doing with Microsoft, that’s something that we will participate in.”

Source: Bloomberg