Android Laptop PC Marks Industry Turning Point

We’re seeing reports this week (apparently based on leaked user manuals) that Lenovo is about to release an Android-powered laptop, the A-10. But it’s not Android itself that’s important here, it’s the fact that non-Windows options are suddenly proliferating. System makers are looking for alternatives, 1) because they’re tired of paying exorbitant license fees to Microsoft, and 2) because Windows 8 has been a disaster for them. They were happy to pay ‘the Microsoft tax’ only as long as Microsoft was steering a profitable course. More…

Microsoft Xbox Stats Emerge

It was announced today that Don Mattrick had left his position as president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment division to join online gaming giant Zynga as its new CEO. Interesting news… but even more interesting were some of the Microsoft stats included in Zynga’s press release. The numbers were cited as evidence of Mattrick’s huge success with the Xbox. But they reveal just as much about the limits of that success. More…

Xbox One: Pushing a Rope

What is it with Microsoft these days? They totally own something like a billion Windows PCs, but never seem to have time to listen to that audience. They’ve sold — what? seventy-six million Xbox 360s? But they can’t seem to build a new console that’s backward compatible with that ginormous installed base. Instead, they’ve smacked Windows users in the face with a tablet OS, and now they’re clubbing Xbox gamers with some sort of media streaming gizmo.

I’ve interviewed most of the major manufacturers of media boxes. (All except Apple, who never answer my calls. I take that as a compliment.) They all admit that regular consumers are just not interested in these devices. Apple TV does best, partly because it’s got that magic Apple name, and partly because it’s kind of cheap. But none of these things are selling all that well, probably because most consumers are already as baffled by TV technology as they ever want to be. More…

Popular MSconceptions, and the OS/2 Effect

Recent discussion regarding Windows 8 sales sats shows a profound misconception, as to the way that the computer market has functioned over the past 30-odd years. And a total ignorance of how companies succeed, or fail.

Everyone, including Microsoft, seems to have concluded that Apple’s success has been based on brilliant, game-changing innovation. Nothing could be further from the truth. If we look at the complete record — not just the usual high points — we’ll see clearly that steady evolution and a favorable cost-benefit ‘value proposition’ — not revolutionary new products — are what actually define the process. As in most other markets. More…

PC Shipments Plummet; Microsoft Implicated

IDC is reporting that worldwide PC shipments in the first quarter of 2013 were down 13.9% compared to the same period in 2012. Bob O’Donnell, IDC Program Vice President, Clients & Displays, put much of the blame on Microsoft:

“At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market. While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.”

This is probably a pretty fair assessment, but there’s much more that could be said. Microsoft has let the PC industry down in a major way, and Windows 8 is only one aspect of the larger failure. More…

BlackBerry Z10: Wi-Fi Solved

I got Wi-Fi access working again. It turns out that I needed to go to the Identification on Network option, and set both my Username and Workgroup. Obvious enough… what really confused me was that networking worked for a while before failing. It’s also a shame that all these options aren’t in the same place in OS10.

By the way, if you want to use Wi-Fi sharing without entering your password and username every time, you’ll need to know how to make Windows remember your settings. Merely ticking the “Remember my credentials” box won’t do it. (I’m talking about Windows 7 here, though I seriously doubt the problem has been addressed in Windows 8.) If you go to the Control Panel and open Credential Manager, then click on the BlackBerry entry, you’ll find a line that says “Persistence: session.” That means when you log out (or reboot) your credentials disappear.

BlackBerry Z10 007 credentials BLUR
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BlackBerry Z10 Problems

Okay, so now I’m not quite as happy.

First, Wi-Fi access to the Z10 suddenly stopped working. Where before I had not been asked for the password, now attempting to open a folder on the Z10 instantly displays a pop-up asking for the password. Worse, the password is simply never accepted. I tried rebooting everything, changing the password, connecting the Z10 via a different access point, switching from 2.4GHz to 5GHz. You name it. Same problem: password not accepted.

So I broke down and installed the BlackBerry Link app. Ugh. More…

BlackBerry OS10: Strange Negativity

I was at the BlackBerry event, and was very impressed. But I seem to be in the minority, among tech journalists.

RiM (now BlackBerry Inc.) has done just about everything right. They hired Alicia Keyes, instead of, say, Lady Gaga. They based their new OS10 heavily on the PlayBook OS, arguably the nicest mobile OS out there. More importantly, I got a powerful sense of vitality and creativity from all their people. This is a company that’s got a lot of good ideas, that’s listening to its customers. BlackBerry isn’t “innovating” purely for the sake of being different. It’s looking at what’s out there, and trying to do better. That used to be the recipe for success.

And yet, most reviews have been enormously skeptical. With the needlessly alien Windows Phone, it was all “looks very promising,” or “has some great features.” Nothing about a steep learning curve… With the comfortable, discoverable BB10, the learning curve is “steep” merely because there’s no Home button. There are “many flaws,” and “no apps.” I don’t recall a single WinPhone story harping on about the lack of apps, certainly not to this extent. Were people expecting a new OS to ship with 2 million apps? Is that where the bar is set? Are we really that averse to change, to competition? More…

BlackBerry Z10: Music Player

The BlackBerry OS10 Music app plays FLAC files! I think I may be in love…

Well, I guess that’s going a bit far. But this is the first device I’ve come across that didn’t need a third-party app to handle the only audio format anyone should be using at this late date. It means that I can use the BlackBerry Z10 as a music player without constantly transcoding my bit-perfect CD rips to lossy, dull-sounding MP3.

BlackBerry Z10 Music Player     BlackBerry Z10 Music app
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