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Analyst: Microsoft won’t copy Apple’s online-only sales for Windows 8

Microsoft will probably trim the number of Windows 8 editions it will sell later this year, but won’t mimic Apple’s online-only approach to OS upgrades, a retail sales analyst said today.

In developed countries, including the U.S., Microsoft offers Windows 7 in four SKUs, or editions: Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. All but Enterprise — available only to volume licensees such as major corporations — are sold to the general public.

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Evidence uncovered by ZDNet blogger Stephen Chapman — who found a list of Windows 8 SKUs on a pair of Hewlett-Packard support documents — hints at just three editions of the upcoming OS: a generic “Windows 8,” Professional and Enterprise.

Missing from that list: Ultimate.

“There had been interest in Windows 7 Ultimate,” said Stephen Baker, an analyst with the NPD Group, but sales were skimpy and vastly outnumbered by Home Premium and Professional.

Baker expects that, if Microsoft does produce a Windows 8 Ultimate edition, it would be an OEM-only SKU. In other words, Microsoft would drop it from retail and offer it only to computer makers to pre-install on high-end PCs.

The two retail editions for Windows 8 will most likely be Home Premium — perhaps renamed — for consumers, and Professional for businesses or consumers who need to connect to their workplace network, said Baker.

Enterprise would remain as the upgrade SKU dealt to volume license customers.

Dropping Ultimate from the Windows 8 list would fit with Microsoft’s demotion of that edition in Windows 7. Three years ago and several months before Windows 7 launched, Microsoft confirmed that it was dropping the heavily-criticized “Ultimate Extras” from the version.

Microsoft first pitched Ultimate Extras in the Ultimate edition of Windows Vista, but buyers blasted the company for a sluggish release pace of the add-ons that Extras had promised.

Windows 7 came in two other editions — Starter and Home Basic — but both were exiled to emerging markets as part of Microsoft’s strategy to offer lower-priced versions that could better compete with the rampant piracy in some countries. The company could retain those developing-markets-only SKUs for Windows 8.

Microsoft has not yet disclosed how many versions of Windows 8 for PCs it will sell, and today declined to share more information about its plans.

An announcement of the Windows 8 lineup could come next week. Microsoft will host a Windows 8 launch event in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday, Feb. 29, when it’s also expected to release the Consumer Preview.

Although Microsoft revealed the names of its Windows 7 SKUs in early February 2009, nearly nine months before launching the operating system in late October, the company is on a slower pace for Windows 8 than it used then. For example, Windows 8’s Consumer Preview will appear almost two months later than the early January 2009 ship date of Windows 7’s first public beta.

One thing Microsoft won’t do, said Baker, is follow Apple’s lead and sell Windows 8 upgrades only online. Last year, Apple sold OS X Lion almost exclusively through the Mac App Store, and recently said it would use the e-market later this year to distribute the Mountain Lion upgrade.

“The [Windows] ecosystem is very different from Apple’s, so no, I don’t think they would go to that extent,” said Baker.

Windows 8 will include Microsoft’s new Windows Store mart as the sole channel for Metro-style apps — and some traditional x86/64 Windows software — but the firm hasn’t said whether Windows 7 users will be able to access the store, and thus make it a destination for upgrade downloads.

With the new store’s emphasis on Metro apps, Baker doubted that Microsoft would use that channel to sell Windows 8 upgrades — people with access to the store would, by definition, already be using the operating system — but acknowledged that the e-store could be used to deliver future upgrades to Windows 8 users.

Instead, Baker said, Microsoft will continue to include brick-and-mortar retail stores in its delivery mix.

“Microsoft wants to be where the customers want to buy,” Baker said. “And the key card approach they used [with Office] cut a lot of the costs of being in stores.”

Microsoft sold some upgrades of Office 2010 at retail minus installation media, instead including a small credit card-sized piece of plastic — called “Product Key Cards” — that unlocked downloaded versions of the suite or added features to the OEM-preloaded Office Starter 2010.

Windows 8 upgrades could be sold using Product Key Cards to activate downloaded trials, or Microsoft could continue to sell electronic editions through its current e-store, where it now sells Windows 7.

Microsoft has not set definitive system requirements for Windows 8 upgrades — much less prices — but has indicated that the new OS will run on PCs now powered by either Vista or Windows 7.

Avaya may hold share offering in April

Private equity companies planning IPO of equipment maker Avaya in April to raise $1bn

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Equipment maker Avaya could hold its initial public offering of shares as early as April, reported Bloomberg citing sources. While the company had filed for an IPO in June 2011, it had delayed the sale due to volatility in stock markets which kept investors at bay, the report added.
The company, which separated from Lucent in 2000, is owned by private-equity firms Silver Lake and TPG Capital.
The firm is hoping to raise $1 billion from the IPO and has appointed Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase to lead the IPO. Avaya has not revealed a price range or the number of shares to be offered. GTB

Intel sneaks out quad-core Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E processor for under $300

If Intel’s six-core Sandy Bridge-E CPUs were too rich for your blood (and wallet), the chip giant is now giving you a more affordable option. The Core i7-3820 sports only four cores, but it also carries a much lighter price of $294. The new chip has a higher clock speed than its siblings at 3.6GHz, but […]

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If Intel’s six-core Sandy Bridge-E CPUs were too rich for your blood (and wallet), the chip giant is now giving you a more affordable option. The Core i7-3820 sports only four cores, but it also carries a much lighter price of $294.

The new chip has a higher clock speed than its siblings at 3.6GHz, but its Turbo Boost maxes out at 3.9GHz like the Core i7-3960X. It also has only 10MB of cache, while the 3960X comes with 15MB and the i7-3930K includes 12MB.

The 3820 is priced lower than the Core i7-2600K, despite having some key advantages (support for quad-channel memory and PCIe 3.0), though it requires a new, pricey X79-based motherboard. Would you rather get the new CPU and motherboard, or go with the older processor and cheaper LGA 1155 motherboard? Let us know in the Talkback section.

Apple launches the iPad into the classroom

A home is where treasures are kept. Treasures in many California homes are in the form of furniture collections with a coffee table from a favorite antique store or a wing-back chair you inherited from a grandmother , or may be your electronics collection with flat screen high-definition television and surround sound equipment. Even your garage is full of things boxes of treasures of which you may only have of vague recollection.

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Your most important treasures are, of course, your wife and children. Naturally, you want all these to remain safe and a part of your life. Unfortunately, there are others who share your world who would like to relieve you of these treasures for their own gain. There may come a time when you feel the need to protect yourself and those you love with security. California security is available in many forms: by a guard with training in Los Angeles, by electronic alarm systems, or by camera surveillance.

Investing in an alarm system for your home can help you sleep better at night in your own bedroom, as well as help you play better when away from home on vacation or business trips. Representatives from alarm system companies may visit your home in person to help you design the perfect alarm system to protect your possessions and your family. Sophisticated electronic systems are disguised in a simple control panel that mounts on a convenient wall in your house, which can then be programmed to alert you and local law enforcement when a door or window of your home is opened, or when an intruder is seen on camera surveillance.

For example, one man was concerned about nightly robberies which were occurring in his small rural mining town. He traveled out of state often with his work. He decided to be proactive in protecting his possessions, and bought an electronic alarm system with a proven track record. One feature of this system included the capability to alert him by mobile phone text if his home alarm system were activated. One week after he bought and installed the system, he received a text that his alarm system had sounded. He immediately called the local police near his residence. Law enforcement was already en route; they caught the thief, who was still at the residence in the act of removing expensive electronic equipment.

There are ways to be sure your personal guard has training in Los Angeles and is completely trustworthy. One such service, called the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, accepts applications from would-be guards. The Bureau, and other companies like it, then checks criminal history and posts applicants who are ready for employment as guards on their web site. It is important to note, however, that some states may allow those applicants with a past history of felony or misdemeanor offenses to qualify for employment as a registered guard after careful review of circumstances and possible rehabilitation. Some applicants with a criminal history may become guards, but may be restricted from carrying a weapon.

Not everyone needs this type of personal security. However, a widow in a large city felt particularly vulnerable after her husband’s death. She even suspected she was being followed when she left her house to go shopping or to walk her dog. Her children, who lived out of state, contacted an agency that provided personal security guard protection at specified times of the day to help her feel more confident every time she went out of her home. The widow saw no more evidences that she was being followed by strangers, and she was comforted to know someone was nearby that she could trust to help her if needed. Her children were also comforted to know the one they treasured was protected.

All eyes on’s uptime with next designer launch Sunday

The last time Target launched a discount brand from a designer label, both the site and customer service overall crashed. Can Target endure another episode like that?

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Target is gearing up to launch yet another discounted line of clothing from a high-end fashion designer, but analysts, investors, and customers are all waiting to see whether or not the retail giant will be able to handle the e-commerce load better than it did in September.

To recall, there was a frenzy both in stores and online for Target when it launched a line from Missoni in September. (In case you’re interested, this Sunday’s launch is from Jason Wu, a favorite of First Lady Michelle Obama.)

I pinged Target reps this week to see if has taken any precautions to try to prevent similar site crashes this weekend, and I received the following response:

We have been working to improve and continue to make updates daily to provide a positive shopping experience for our guests. Many factors are taken into consideration when planning the inventory levels of our limited-time only collections. It is not uncommon for these collections to sell out quickly and we encourage our guests to shop the collection early.

Often times with sales such as these, inventory definitely can run out quickly. Yet Target all but imploded, especially on its website. Many consumers are fans of online shopping for the convenience of it as well as the opportunity to avoid the masses in stores.

But the masses came to too, bringing down the site several times for almost a day. To make things even worse, the site would come back at times and let customers order — even if it turned out there wasn’t any inventory left to buy.

Thus, many customers were left fuming when they received emails that orders could not be completed. The lucky ones got emails saying that their purchases would ship within a month. (Most in-stock items at are supposed to ship within one to two days.)

Personally (and fortunately), I fell into the latter category. However, my email read that the item I ordered (a Missoni bathmat) was out of stock — even though the product page clearly said it was “In Stock” when I put it in my shopping card and checked out.

Nevertheless, the bathmat showed up four weeks after I ordered it.

Jamus Driscoll, senior vice president of marketing at e-commerce solutions provider Demandware, warned that “any website downtime or slowdown can definitely frustrate consumers and leave a negative impression.”

“Today’s web-savvy consumers demand exceptional brand experiences, and those expectations include reliable and accessible access to a brand’s website at all times,” said Driscoll.

Nearly a month after this debacle,’s president, Steve Eastman, resigned suddenly. A very brief (one sentence) statement was released, opening the floodgates for rumors as to why he was leaving besides the typical “pursuing other opportunities” form letter — whether it had to do with this event or not.

In November, questions were raised as to whether or not Target would even be able to meet traffic demands on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, the two biggest online shopping days of the year.

However, it doesn’t appear that suffered from traffic slowdowns or worse more than any other giant online retailer.

Thus, perhaps either Target is now more prepared for such a downpour of online consumers — or it only buckled during a more high-profile, exclusive event. After all, people visit and shop from many different websites on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Target has had similar, very popular events with designers in the past, so you might be wondering why the Minneapolis-based enterprise had trouble all of a sudden and looked unprepared.

In fact, relaunched in August with a new platform after parting ways with to focus more on its own website sales. ( powered, and Target products showed up in Amazon searches).

While the revamped was backed by some heavy partners (including IBM and AT&T), the Missoni launch proved to be the first major test for the new version of the online store. Although it looks like pretty much failed that test, Sunday will provide more conclusive evidence.

Target reps couldn’t provide an estimate for how many online visitors they are expecting this weekend, nor did they specify what precautions they were taking to meet new traffic surges.

Either way, there has been a significant amount of attention and buzz surrounding this launch for months now, so we can definitely expect long virtual queues on Sunday.

Driscoll advised that “brands must utilize a scalable commerce platform that enables their team to quickly prepare for and react to traffic spikes, and allocate capacity when needed.”

“This is a key benefit of a SaaS-based commerce platform,” Driscoll explained. “Retailers can respond to an uptick in traffic in a matter of minutes, whereas a retailer on a license-based platform might need weeks –- and costly hardware -– to manage this surge in traffic.”

Bluetooth in Brief

Bluetooth is a radio or wireless technology designed for short range data communications in the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) band. The frequency range is from 2.402Ghz to 2.480Ghz, with the available frequency sprectrum being broken up into 79 x 1Mhz wide bands.

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Bluetooth was designed by Ericsson as a short range wireless connectivity solution and is used to build Personal Area Networks, or PANs as they are known so that devices in close proximity can pass information. Typical examples being a mobile phone downloading data to a Personal Computer or a mobile phone earpiece communicating with the phone itself.
The technology behind Bluetooth is known as FHSS (Frequency Hopped Spread Spectrum), where the datastream is broken up into small pieces, each containing several binary bits of data which are transmitted in a pseudo random sequence over a series of up to 79 frequency bands. As Bluetooth has developed and matured, a number of data modulation schemes have been used to modulate the data onto the radio carriers including GFSK (Gaussian Frequency Shift Keying), DQPSK (Differential Quadrature Phase Shift Keying) and 8DPSK (8-ary Differential Phase Shift Keying). The development and use of the different modulation schemes were an attempt to increase the data rates of the system.
So how does Bluetooth operate?
Two or more Bluetooth devices that establish a connection (and share a channel) form a small wireless network known as a Piconet, with up to eight devices, forming the piconet . One device becomes the Master station, can join a Bluetooth piconet. Normally the device which initiates the connection will be the Master and other devices joining the PAN will be slaves. The master passes a Frequency Hopping Synchronisation (FHS) packet to any slaves containing its address and clock. The address of the Master Bluetooth device is used to determine the hop sequence and all slaves use the Master Clock to determine which frequency to transmit or receive on at any given time.
A group of piconets are referred to as a Scatternet, with each individual piconet having a unique hopping sequence, determined by it’s Master’s address. If a collision occurs where two devices transmit on the same frequency, a device will just retransmit the data on the next frequency hop. Although this can ultimately affect the performance and data rate of the transmission, it is the accepted method, just like collisions are a way of life in a shared Ethernet network when a hub is in use.
Devices can be a member of multiple piconets by using each Master address to determine the hopping sequence for each network, but can only be the Master for one piconet. The access method used by Bluetooth devices is known as TDD (Time-Division Duplex) where each device (Master and Slave) share the same frequency and are allocated a timeslot during which to transmit. A master will normally use even-numbered time slots and the slave will use odd numbered timeslots.
There are two types of transmission links normally supported by Bluetooth, known as SCO (Synchronous Connection-Orientated) and ACL (Asynchronous Connectionless Link). General Bluetooth operation uses ACL, where the packet and payload length will determine how many timeslots are required. Because ACL is Connection-Orientated, packets that are not acknowledged will be automatically retransmitted, abeit on a different timeslot or timeslots. Forward error correction can be employed as an option and although the data delivery may be more reliable, the data rate will reduce accordingly depending on how error prone the environment is at the time.
Voice over Bluetooth normally used an SCO link, where the voice data is sent over a number of reserved timeslots within an already established ACL link. Retransmissions do not occur on an SCO link as this could cause a number of problems, least of all latency and jitter. However, forward error correction can be used to provide a degree of reliability. There is an Enhanced version of SCO that can employ retransmission in some circumstances.
The latest version of Bluetooth, version 4 and all previous versions of Bluetooth have been designed to be backward compatible with previous versions, so no worry about using older devices with the newer Bluetooth devices.
The Bluetooth technologies have allowed us to provide fast data communications between devices that are in close proximity (within a few metres) without the need for a cable running RS-232 protocol for example and so have provided us with mobility free from the constraints imposed with the use of copper wiring.

Mozilla OKs Firefox 10 launch this week

Mozilla developers have given the green light to ship Firefox 10 on Tuesday.

Notes from a Mozilla meeting last week said that the upgrade was on for Jan. 31, the next ship date in the every-six-week schedule that the company adopted last year.


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The new version includes one of the first components of Firefox’s planned silent update mechanism: The browser automatically disables incompatible add-ons and marks all others as compatible.

Add-ons that work with Firefox 4 or later will be marked as compatible in Firefox 10, Mozilla said.

Complaints about incompatible add-ons have been common since Mozilla shifted to the faster release schedule, as add-on developers have been slow to revamp their code or at least mark their extensions as suitable for the newest browser.

Mozilla began automatically marking add-ons as compatible back in March 2011 when it launched Firefox 4, but limited that move to extensions distributed through its own website; the new feature in Firefox 10 does the same for all add-ons, including those not available from Mozilla.

According to the company, extensions offered outside its own download store account for 75% of all add-ons.

“Add-on compatibility has always been a huge barrier to releasing more often, so it was critical we have a plan that wouldn’t leave add-ons or users behind,” Justin Scott, who leads Mozilla’s add-on team, said in a September 2011 blog post. “For this new [rapid-release] system to work, we wanted a compatibility process that didn’t require developers to lift a finger unless their add-on was one of the few broken.”

As Scott hinted, automatic add-on compatibility is one of several features Mozilla is working on so it can offer “silent updates” that upgrade Firefox in the background and without any user interaction. Other parts of the service will debut in future versions of the browser.

Mozilla’s current plans are to complete silent update with Firefox 13, now set to launch on June 5.

Also on Tuesday, Mozilla will ship Firefox 3.6.26, a security update for that two-year-old browser. This week’s update will be followed by two more before Firefox 3.6 is retired from support in late April.

Firefox 10 will also be the first edition in the Extended Support Release (ESR) line that Mozilla has created for enterprises that cannot — or will not — upgrade every six weeks. Firefox ESR will be upgraded every 42 weeks, or seven times slower than the “standard” build of the browser.

Genius wireless mouse does away with batteries

The Genius BlueEy DX-ECO mouse uses a rechargeable gold capacitor to keep charged up.

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I am so enamored of my solar-powered, wireless keyboard from Logitech that I had to mention a new product that I just heard about from Taiwanese technology company Genius: a battery-free mouse called the DX-ECO BlueEye Mouse.

According to the product specification sheet, the mouse uses a rechargeable gold capacitor instead of a battery. The capacitor charges fully via a microUSB cord in about three minutes. The Genius BlueEye DX-ECO product literature doesn’t say how long the capacitor will hold a charge, but it can be recharged up to 100,000 times.

The device uses 2.4 Ghz wireless communications technology (which means you have to use a Pico receiver, which will require a USB slot). It can communicate up almost 50 feet away. There is not shortage of buttons and features, including a scroll button, a button for adjusting DPI settings, and even a button for clicking back and forth between pages (previous and next). The products supports Windows 7, Vista and XP and works with Macintosh OSX 10.4 or later, according to the specs.

The suggested retail price on the DX-ECO is $39.99. I haven’t managed to find the mouse for sale at any of the usual retail suspects, although the company appears to have a relationship with many of them.

Cloud platform supports product development activities

OneDesk collects feedback and ideas from internal sources and social media; a new API allows it to integrate with apps from NetSuite, Oracle, SAP and

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When you talk about the sorts of internal collaboration activities that companies of any size need to support, those related to product development should be right up near the top of the list.

That’s why your organization might want to take a peek at a platform called OneDesk, a cloud-based application that is explicitly intended too coordinate product managers, engineers, marketing teams and even customer support professionals.

I spoke a few weeks back with Catherine Constantinides, one of the OneDesk team members, a few weeks back about how the platform might be used and the sorts of features that are included.

She describes it as a place for companies to declare and manage all the “needs requirements” associated with a given product or product development project.

Internally speaking, there are places to share ideas for the next releases, which can bubble up from anywhere. As some of these ideas are embraced for future features, the team can track the progress as well as any challenges or objections that might occurs along the way.

From an external perspective, OneDesk can be used to monitor and gather feedback about a product that is emerging in social media or social networks.

Ultimately, the main benefit is that all feedback — whether it is internal or external — can be gathered and searched from one location. “You can see all of the requirements, feedback and tasks associated with a particular product release,” Constantinides said. Then again, you can turn off any particular module that isn’t relevant to your organization.

There are two flavors of OneDesk, one that is free, which supports up to 30 people within a company (which is great if you are small small business) and that comes with up to 100 megabytes of data storage. OneDesk Pro will cost your organization $30 per user, per month. That essentially pays for the much larger storage capacity each users gets, up to 1 gigabyte per person.

For midsize businesses that need to worry about such things, OneDesk just released an application programming interface (API) that enables its application to be integrated with enterprise resource planning and CRM applications including Oracle, SAP, and NetSuite (they aren’t the only applications supported, but are among the most relevant, of course).

The Internet Makes It Possible To Earn A Health Care Degree Online

Many people enjoy working in the health care field, the career being an attractive one for many reasons. After all, you’re helping others, the job opportunities abound and the field of medicine is an exciting one that’s developing constantly. A career in health care is an exciting one, with hands-on experience and being personally satisfying. However, individuals wanting to break into the medical world need strong credentials and up-to-date training to have good employment opportunities with hospitals, private practices and ambulatory care centers. Finding that training can be difficult, but there are options available, thanks to technology and a widening recognition of virtual instruction. Obtaining a health care degree online is a smart choice for landing satisfying employment.


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Online education is transforming the way individuals receive instruction for top careers. The fields of opportunities are expanding and being able to earn your health care degree online is a perfect example of just how far education has come. Accredited universities and colleges provide high-quality instruction, leading to Bachelors and Masters Degrees that are recognized by employers. The training has a leading reputation amongst hospitals and health care facilities of all kinds, making individuals valuable assets to the medical field.

Obtaining your health care degree online can help with upward mobility on the ladder of success and increase job opportunities in the medical field. Expanding your education can improve communication skills and promote individual value to the mid-level management section, allowing students to respond to ever-widening community diversity. Interpreting and analyzing data as well as identifying human values, moral choices and fundamental beliefs are just part of what a health care degree online can provide to individuals. Courses within this field of online education touch on varied subjects, such as anatomy, legal issues, the aging process and research methods.

There are other reasons why pursuing a health care degree online is advantageous. Education in the virtual world allows students to easily balance studies with employment, meaning that individuals can continue to work and earn income while earning credits towards a degree in their own time. Home life, education and employment blend very easily, allowing students to combine all three areas of their lives without needing to take time off work to study or put off raising children to obtain an education. Also, pursuing an online degree allows individuals to save money on costs of transportation and commuting to educational facilities or having to pay for lodgings on or near a campus.

Employment opportunities in the health care field are continually broadening as the world’s population ages. Research and technology allow people to live longer, providing ample careers to those who pursue a profession in the medical field. As our population of senior citizens continues to expand, the needs for skilled professionals able to tend to individuals increases and finding employment is usually easy, for those who have the qualifications and credentials of accredited educational facilities. Top schools and universities have responded to the demands and offer excellent, recognized training to students in a manner that matches the technological revolution of today’s computer-based world.

Government offices continually demand high-quality workers and their predictions claim that having solid training is a must for those entering the health care world. Consumers and clients of hospitals, private practices, ambulatory care centers and home health agencies are also asking for better-quality care from those who tend to their needs. The advantages to earning a health care degree from a reputable educational facility are many and the long-term results will provide individuals with solid, satisfying and exciting careers.

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