Microsoft releases several Surface Go videos on YouTube

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  • Microsoft Surface GoIs the Surface Go a powerful computer? No, compared to some other Windows 10 devices on the market, its specifications are rather meager. With that said, many consumers don’t need a hardcore PC. In other words, for basic computer needs, such as word processing, web surfing, social media, and media consumption, the Surface Go is more than enough — even with its base configuration.

For those that crave portability over performance, the Surface Go should prove quite popular. I don’t only see students embracing the low-cost tablet/laptop, but potentially, business executives too. Heck, any type of consumer may fall in love. To get the full Windows 10 experience in such a svelte and elegant package is very intriguing. Of course, Microsoft needs to convince consumers that they want/need it, and advertising is a great way to do so. With that said, the Windows-maker has posted ten new Surface Go videos on YouTube.

All of the videos are shockingly short — 16 seconds or less. You know what? I think that’s a wise move. Each video briefly highlights a Surface Go benefit, such as portability, creativity, security and more. There is no nonsense. When watched back to back, the videos do a great job of quickly educating the consumer. With back-to-school shopping coming up for many consumers, the videos are very well-timed.

If you are interested in checking the videos out, I am happy to say we have embedded them below for your convenience. After watching, please head down to the comment section and tell me which video is your favorite of the bunch.

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Apple Needs a Revamped iPad Mini to Fend Off Microsoft’s New Surface Go

And whatever else Microsoft might have in the works, too.

Evan Niu, CFA


Jul 17, 2018 at 3:32PM

It has now been nearly three full years since Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) introduced the iPad Mini 4. In the period since, the tablet has only gotten minor changes in storage configurations and seen its price reduced, currently starting at $399. While rumors rage on about the new iPad Pros with Face ID that Apple is preparing to launch later this year, investors have not caught wind of any potential iPad Mini updates in the works.

Meanwhile, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) at long last announced the Surface Go earlier this month, starting at the same $399 price point. Surface Go is “the most portable and affordable” Surface thus far, as Microsoft is expanding downmarket.

Surface Go with accessories in different configurations

The new Surface Go. Image source: Microsoft.

Microsoft goes for affordable

Surface Go is now the software giant’s entry-level Surface offering, and naturally supports the company’s slew of peripherals designed to make it a potential laptop replacement. That price point is comparable to where the old Surface RT had been cut to before getting discontinued years ago. Microsoft is positioning it as more of a portable device, being thinner and lighter than pricier Surface products.

With a 10-inch display, Surface Go will actually compete with both the iPad Mini 4 as well as the 9.7-inch iPad ($329), but the latter has already been updated recently (March of this year). It’s worth noting that Microsoft is reportedly working on a “pocketable” Surface as well, after canceling its plans for a Surface Mini years ago. If that product gets released soon, it would serve as an additional impetus for Apple to revamp its iPad Mini offering.

Affordable tablets are extremely popular

If you look at iPad average selling prices (ASPs) over the years, it becomes abundantly clear that lower price points are a hit with consumers. iPad ASPs have hovered in the mid-$400s ever since the original iPad Mini was introduced in 2012, and came in at $451 last quarter.

Chart showing iPad ASPs over time

Data source: SEC filings. Chart by author. Calendar quarters shown.

Apple has adopted a bifurcated strategy of offering higher-end models with more features alongside more affordable models with fewer, which CEO Tim Cook has said is “really resonating with our users.” Apple does not officially disclose unit mix for any of its product segments, but the sustained drop in iPad ASP shows that the volume is concentrated at the low end. For reference, Apple’s entire iPad portfolio spans $329 for an entry-level 9.7-inch iPad to $1,279 for a maxed-out 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

If Microsoft is planning to address the affordable tablet market more aggressively, Apple needs to respond in kind to fend off its longtime rival.

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Forget the myth about iPhones being more reliable than Android

iOS vs Android most reliable 2018

Among all the mythical ways that iPhones are supposedly better than Samsung or LG’s products, one of the most pervasive is that the iPhones “just work.” A quality flaw with some display units gets turned into “never buy a Pixel;” a couple Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices catch fire, and people start freak–OK, actually, that one was probably justified.

But anyway, you get the point. Apple’s reputation is all about quality, ease of use, and reliability. But according to a new Mobile Device and Security report from Blancoo, a company that makes diagnostics and repair software for mobile carriers and manufacturers, that’s not the case. Their data shows that iOS and Android devices are sent in for repair at incredibly similar rates, and in North America, it’s actually Apple devices that seem to have more problems.

Across the three major markets examined, Asia, North America and Europe, the failure rate of iOS and Android devices was nearly identical. iOS was at 12.5 percent, while Android was at 14 percent, close enough that we can call it a wash. In North America, things look even better for Android, which had a failure rate of just 9 percent. iOS was at 12 percent in North America.

The data for the report is “based on internal mobile diagnostics and mobile erasure data collected from iOS and Android mobile devices that were brought into hundreds of mobile carriers and device manufacturers for diagnostics tests and mobile erasure.” The data varies significantly between region, which implies that there’s likely some major variables in how the software is used in different countries and by different organizations. Nonetheless, the report is useful for comparing between different devices in the same region, even if we can’t tell whether Americans or Europeans are more likely to be breaking their phones.

Not all iPhones and Android devices are created equal, however, and the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S continue to look like particularly bad examples of poor design. The iPhone 6 has a recorded failure rate of 26 percent and the iPhone 6S is at 14 percent, far above most other models. The more recent iPhone 7 is at 8 percent failure, while the iPhone 8 Plus is at just 2 percent (so far).

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Did Microsoft Scrap Surface Phone Plans?

a close up of a cage © Provided by IBT US

It looks like Microsoft may have abandoned its plans of releasing the heavily rumored Surface Phone device. Microsoft’s vice president Panos Panay recently had an interview in which he revealed that the company won’t be releasing such a device.

During Panay’s recent interview with Wired, he was asked about Microsoft’s roadmap for future hardware releases. He did not directly answer the question, but he did tease about more advanced technologies that could change the way consumers interact and use gadgets and devices.

“This is the classic question of tell me what your future roadmap is. I can’t right now. But I can tell you this: The idea that we can move between modes of touch, pen, voice, using your eyes, motion. The idea that we can see more, hear more when we’re interacting — form factors continue to evolve, continue to change. There’s a pretty exciting future in front of us, for sure,” Panay said.

When asked further if Microsoft’s plans include the release of a Surface Phone, Panay laughed before shutting down the idea of such a device being released. “Well … I wouldn’t say it includes a Surface Phone, I think you have to think about where is that unmet need when you’re thinking about your product; when you’re thinking about your roadmap, your line-up,” Panay said.

“Of course, we’re always inventing; of course, we’re thinking about the new form factors. It doesn’t include a Surface Phone, but it includes the way to think about what is that people want to accomplish and how they’re going to accomplish it and what are those form factors,” he added.

For years, there have been ongoing buzz about a Windows-powered Surface Phone. A document leaked earlier this month even hinted at a smartphone-like device that is in the works at the company. The Verge also previously claimed that Microsoft has been working on a mysterious Surface device that’s codenamed Andromeda.

Patently Apple has also uncovered several patents made by Microsoft describing what appears to be a mobile device that has dual displays. The phone is said to have a folding mechanism, leading some to speculate that the Surface Phone could be a smartphone that can be converted into a tablet when folded out.

Given Panay’s latest statements, it’s clear that Microsoft might not be releasing a Surface Phone device. However, the company seems to be focused on delivering a non-traditional mobile phone experience. Hence, consumers shouldn’t expect something that embraces classic and modern smartphone designs and form factors.

a close up of a cage © Provided by IBT US

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New survey conveys the challenges of the Windows 10 migration

It has been heralded as the last version of Windows you will ever need. This is great news for internal IT. Rather than large abrupt OS version updates such as the cumbrous leap between Windows 7 and 8, the Windows-as-a-Service delivery of Windows 10 will allow for regular incremental improvements and updates. The expectation is to eliminate the arduous elongated process of OS migrations that require significant planning, training and working hours. For those who need any further incentive, there is also the impending end-of-life deadline in January 2020 for Windows 7. Of course, to get to Windows 10, you have to endure one final big upgrade.

Fortunately, Microsoft has taken great strides to simplify the Windows 10 migration process. New deployment methodologies that utilize images, task sequences and provisioning packages make the deployment process far more agile today. That does not mean there aren’t challenges in the process however. The hurdles instead lie in the standardization of the user workspace. It is the details of ensuring that all those configuration settings, applications, printers and security protectants are delivered to ensure a secure productive work environment.

A recent survey conducted by PolicyPak and set out to learn firsthand about the experiences that businesses are having today in their Windows 10 migration projects. The goal was to find what inherent challenges they are encountering if any, the impact of those encountered issues, and how they were rectified. The results show that despite a greater array of tools to simplify the overall deployment process, some aspects of Windows 10 do not migrate in as automated a fashion as hoped. The survey involved over 500 organizations representing 30 countries and multiple industries. The organizations ranged in size from small businesses of less than 100 users to enterprises with more than 5,000 users.

Analyzing the Survey Results

The first objective in the survey was to find out where businesses currently are in the migration process. Four stages were identified as Planning, Pilot Only, Mid-Migration and Nearly Complete. On average, about 26 percent of all organizations were still in the planning stage. When comparing the survey results according to company size, the greatest disparity occurred within those organizations who are nearing completion. While 42 percent of SMBs with less than 100 employees identified themselves as being in the final phase of the migration process, only 13 percent of 5,000+ user based enterprises report their implementations to be nearly complete. 33 percent of these large enterprises identified themselves as being in the mid-migration stage, and only 10 percent of SMBs reported the same.

The survey identified four challenges involving productivity and system security. The first challenge was the issue of file/application associations. 63 percent of all organizations dealt with this issue, the biggest culprits being Office (90 percent), Acrobat Reader (71 percent), default browser (59 percent), and media players (31 percent). When asked how they managed the issue of unexpected file associations, a majority of organizations (57 percent) chose to manually update a given system or allow users to update the associations themselves. Other companies (25 percent) went about the process of rebuilding and distributing images or some type of file association policy.

The second challenge concerned the task of standardizing the Windows 10 Start Menu and Taskbar. The majority of respondents (57 percent) have a desire to standardize these two desktop areas. The most popular way to accomplish this was to use Group Policy to push out settings (62 percent). Other tools included scripts, SCCM and third party tools.

No discussion of desktop OS migration would be complete without the topic of imaging. Standardizing the Image Deployment process was the third challenge identified in the survey, and aptly so as 73 percent of organizations use some type of imaging software or MDT tools. The primary hardship of imaging is the material investment that is involved in the creation of each image. According to the survey, the process of creating an initial golden image required five staff people for enterprises with over 5,000 users, with each of those staff people devoting 62 hours. On average, organizations with less than 1,000 users allocated 2 people and 15 hours each to the process. Of course, it does not take long for golden images to lose their luster, as customized modifications must be repeatedly implemented. The three most cited customization activities were the removal of non-essential applications, security hardening and Bitlocker setup. The production and testing of subsequent images is time-consuming as well, with SMBs allocating up to 17 hours per person and large enterprises allotting 42 hours per person.

The most surprising finding of the survey concerned how many organizations continue to assign local admin privileges to low-level users. Local admin rights reduction and elimination was the fourth challenge highlighted in the survey and is one that internal IT continues to struggle with. On average, 57 percent of organizations admitted to assigning local admin rights to some portion of their “normal” user base. This percentage generally increased along with the size of the organization with 69 percent of the largest enterprises in the survey following this practice. The two most cited justifications for allocating local admin rights was the ability for normal users to install software and contend with UAC-based elevation issues. Said one survey respondent, “We give local admin rights because the business decision came down that someone might have to install software at 3AM when the help desk is closed.”

In the end, the survey clearly shows that the Windows 10 migration process is not as streamlined as many would hope. There is still a sizable degree of trial and error involved in the process. Despite the introduction of new deployment tools, many organizations are in need of some way to simplify the post-deployment process and reduce the involved time and costs of overcoming experienced migration challenges.

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Microsoft’s plan to try to win back consumers with ‘Modern Life Services’

It’s not a secret that Microsoft hasn’t been winning the hearts and minds of consumers lately.

Killing off products like the Groove Music service, Microsoft Band fitness tracker, and Windows Phone have left many questioning whether Microsoft’s grand plan is to simply focus on business users and leave consumers to its competitors.

But at the company’s Inspire partner show this week, Microsoft execs told partners that Redmond isn’t giving up on consumers.

Yusuf Mehdi — whose new title as of June 2018 became corporate vice president of Modern Life and Devices — led a session at the partner show in Las Vegas, Nev., where he outlined the company’s vision for what officials plan to christen “Modern Life Services.”

sixcoreareasmicrosoft.jpg (Image: Microsoft)

“Modern Life and “Gaming” are the two new additions to Microsoft’s core digital solution areas that its own sales force and its partners are meant to target in fiscal 2019 and beyond. (The others, which Microsoft announced a year ago at Inspire, are Modern Workplace, Business Applications, Applications and Infrastructure and Data & AI.)

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In teeing up his presentation, Mehdi acknowledged that “in the last couple of years, we’ve lost a little of that magic with consumers,” according to attendees who asked not to be named. He added (as can be seen on the teleprompter in a screen shot embedded above that Mehdi himself tweeted) that, this year, “we begin the journey to win back consumers with our vision.”

Most consumer companies are laser-focused on one thing, Mehdi said. Amazon is focused on shopping; Spotify, on music; Netflix, on movies. Microsoft’s core value proposition is productivity, he said. The company’s job is to try to make productivity more sexy.

Microsoft is targeting so-called “professional consumers” with these services, Mehdi said. These are people who already know how to use technology but need to figure out how to use it better to make them more productive. The goal of these services will be to give users back time and help them focus on what matters to them.

Microsoft officials believe because the company already “owns the work calendar with Outlook,” that it has a foothold in working to blur the line between consumer and commercial activities.

(For the record, Microsoft leadership has continued to insist that there is no identifiable line between consumer and commercial software and services, as people often do work at home, and personal tasks at work, but in recent months, haven’t really tried to make that argument as vociferously as they did several years back.)

Read also: A business laptop with 3 screens? Microsoft patent pops up – TechRepublic

What, exactly, will qualify as a Modern Life Service? Mostly they will be apps, services, and features that Microsoft already makes available or soon will in Windows, Outlook, and PowerPoint, but which officials will attempt to position as well suited to the needs of professional consumers on Windows PCs, iPhones and Android phones.

One example: The Microsoft”Your Phone” app, which Microsoft execs first showed off at the Build 2018 developer conference earlier this year. Your Phone on Windows 10 will allow users to respond to text messages on their Windows desktops, as well as drag and drop photos from their desktops and send them via their phones without actually having to access the phones. The idea is by not having to interrupt their workflow, users will save time and be more productive.

Features like Focused Inbox, @mentions, Time to Leave in Outlook for Windows 10, and Outlook Mobile also will make professional consumers more productive, Mehdi said.

Microsoft plans to tout the recently announced cheaper, lower-end Surface Go tablets running Windows 10 S and Office 365 as part of this “win back the consumers” push. Microsoft is dedicating more marketing and sales resources than ever to try to push the Surface line, especially taking aim at consumers, Mehdi said.

Read also: What is Microsoft’s AndromedaOS?

Microsoft also will make part of the new consumer campaign its Cortana digital assistant, which will be coming to more smart home devices, such as the Johnson Controls GLAS smart thermostat as of this summer. (It sounds like Microsoft is expecting the Cortana-powered thermostat to be available in its Stores as of August 2018 based on remarks from Microsoft Executive Vice President Judson Althoff at the partner show this week.)

Not surprisingly, Mehdi didn’t mention the Microsoft Andromeda dual-screen mobile device (I asked a few folks). Andromeda is not happening this year, and Microsoft is considering possibly changing the form factor to be more PC-like for any kind of new mobile device it may introduce at some point, sources have said.

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The first reviews of Apple’s new MacBook Pro are out — here’s what critics had to say

Apple released new versions of the MacBook Pro last week, which included quieter keyboards and new specs that boost performance.

Some publications have received MacBooks to review from Apple, and the consensus seems to be that there’s a big improvement in performance, but other features like the quieter keyboards aren’t as exciting.

The MacBook Pro is the only MacBook model that received an upgrade. The 13-inch model with Touch Bar starts at $1,799, and the 15-inch model with Touch Bar starts at $2,399.

Here’s the summary of the new specifications, from Apple:

a screenshot of text: MacBook Pro 2018 specs © Provided by Business Insider Inc MacBook Pro 2018 specs

Here’s how reviewers are feeling about the new MacBook Pros:

TechCrunch’s Brian Heater: “These are in fact extremely powerful machines built around the premise that, in 2018, one shouldn’t have to compromise power in order to go portable.”

a screen shot of a computer keyboard © Provided by Business Insider Inc

The bottom line: “The 2018 MacBook Pro is the most substantial upgrade (at least regarding performance) since the introduction of quad-core processors in the 2011 MacBook Pro.”

Macworld’s Roman Loyola: “The jump from four to six processing cores makes the new 15-inch MacBook Pro a beast of a performer.”

a close up of a computer © Provided by Business Insider Inc

The bottom line:  “There are some things that, in an effort to move towards a particular technological ideal, Apple won’t change. But as a whole, the 2018 MacBook Pro is a better laptop than its 2017 predecessor, and a vast improvement over the 2016 model.”

Engadget’s Dana Wollman: “You may have heard that the new MacBook Pro has an updated keyboard. The good news is, the keys are now quieter. The bad news is, that will probably not be a meaningful change for you.

a close up of a laptop computer © Provided by Business Insider Inc

The bottom line: “Most of the changes here are under the hood (think: quad-core processors on the 13-inch model), so it’s going to take a few days to test things like speed, graphics performance and battery life.”

Laptopmag’s Mark Spoonauer: “I’m happy to report that the 2018 MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar (starting at $1,799) has the serious speed boost I’ve been waiting for.”

a man holding a keyboard © Provided by Business Insider Inc

PCMag’s Tom Brant: “According to our tests, the 2018 top-of-the line 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro is a highly capable video-editing or number-crunching platform, if not as fast as some competitors.”

an open laptop computer sitting on top of a keyboard © Provided by Business Insider Inc

The bottom line: “Although the new 13-inch MacBook Pro’s performance is among the best in its ultraportable class, it’s not massively faster in most aspects than competitors like the most recent rev of the Dell XPS 13 ($999.99) or the Microsoft Surface Book 2 ($1,199.00). At $3,699, our specific review unit is also far more expensive than the Dell XPS 13 or Surface Book 2 samples we tested. So based on raw performance alone, the new MacBook Pro doesn’t look like a breakthrough, except, perhaps, on the storage-speed front.”

The Verge’s Dieter Bohn: “It’s a MacBook Pro! It has excellent build quality, four Thunderbolt ports, a headphone jack, and Touch ID. It also has a very nice Retina Display that I nevertheless wish had smaller bezels, true 4K resolution, and support for touch or pen.”

a close up of a computer © Provided by Business Insider Inc

The bottom line: “I’ll give you a few more impressions, of course, but ‘pro’ machines require quite a bit of testing to judge, and we intend to take our time with it. Is it fast? Of course it’s fast: it has a six-core Intel i9 processor, 32GB of RAM, and 4TB of storage. As shipped, this machine would run for $6,699 (though $3,200 of that is the SSD).”

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