Tag Archive | "xbox"

Surface ‘Mini’ may not rear its smaller frame until early next year


Surface 'Mini' may not rear its smaller frame until early next year

Microsoft’s Surface lineup has received a mixed reception (to say the least) so far, and there’s still one noticeable gap in the lineup: a Surface “Mini.”

With the success of Apple’s iPad mini it would surprise no one if Microsoft does have a Surface Mini in the works, but today word is that the smaller Surface could still be months away.

According to ZDNet‘s Mary Jo Foley, the Surface Mini may not arrive until spring 2014. The timing reportedly has to do with Microsoft’s desire to launch it with the next General Distribution Release, a minor update that will follow Windows 8.1. It’s reportedly being called “Spring 2014 GDR.”

Microsoft is apparently hoping the stars will align and allow it to release the Surface Mini alongside the update, as well as Windows Phone Blue. That update, which may or may not be called Windows Phone 8.1 at launch, would land on Microsoft’s mobiles.

Thanks a lot, Xbox One

There’s another reason for the Surface Mini “delay,” if you want to call it that (many have taken the tablet’s existence as a given, and expected it out by now), and that’s a little something called the Xbox One.

Word is Microsoft is dead set on getting the Surface Mini out with the Spring 2014 GDR update, and much of the team responsible for that update has reportedly been reassigned to help make sure the Xbox One operating system is shipshape before the console launches on Nov. 22.

And there’s still the general availability release of Windows 8.1 to worry about, not to mention the GDR 3 update for Windows Phone 8 that’s due before the proper Windows Phone 8.1 update.

Bottom line, there’s plenty to do, and the Surface Mini is reportedly tied tightly to the Windows update scheduled for spring 2014.

A mini void

Not much is known about the Surface Mini, and different rumors have pegged it anywhere from 7- to 8-inches.

That’s a significant downgrade from the Surface Pro and Surface RT’s 10.6-inch displays, but like the iPad mini, a smaller Surface could appeal with lower price points and improved portability.

The Surface Mini will likely stick with Windows RT, despite the OS’ difficulties. Foley reported the loyalty, if misguided, is spurred on because Microsoft likes how locked down machines running the OS tend to be. The newly-announced Surface 2 will keep it going, too.

That would make the Surface Mini the sole smaller-form tablet running the stripped-down Windows OS.

TechRadar previously predicted that smaller tablets from Asus and Acer could fill that void, but those companies and others backed off from Windows RT as soon its fortunes started to turn.


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Surface ‘Mini’ may not arrive until early next year


Surface 'Mini' may not arrive until early next year

Microsoft’s Surface lineup has received a mixed reception so far (to say the least), and there’s still one noticeable gap in the lineup: a Surface “Mini.”

With the success of Apple’s iPad mini it would come as no surprise if Microsoft does have a Surface Mini in the works, as has been rumored for some time, but today word is that the smaller Surface tablet could still be months away.

According to ZDNet‘s Mary Jo Foley, the Surface Mini will arrive in spring 2014. The timing has to do with Microsoft’s desire to launch it with the next General Distribution Release, a minor update that will follow Windows 8.1. It’s reportedly being called the “Spring 2014 GDR.”

Microsoft is reportedly hoping the stars will align and allow it to release the Surface Mini alongside the update, as well as Windows Phone Blue, a software update for Microsoft’s mobiles that may or may not be called Windows Phone 8.1 at launch time.

Thanks a lot, Xbox One

There’s another reason for the Surface Mini “delay,” if you want to call it that (many have taken the tablet’s existence as a given, and expected it out by now), and that’s a little something called the Xbox One.

Word is Microsoft is dead set on getting the Surface Mini out with the Spring 2014 GDR update, and much of the team responsible for that update has reportedly been reassigned to help make sure the Xbox One operating system is shipshape before the console launches on Nov. 22.

And there’s still the general availability release of Windows 8.1 to worry about, not to mention the GDR 3 update for Windows Phone 8 that’s due before the proper Windows Phone 8.1 update.

Bottom line, there’s plenty to do, and the Surface Mini is reportedly tied tightly to the Windows update scheduled for spring 2014.

A mini void

Not much is known about the Surface Mini, and different rumors have pegged it anywhere from 7- to 8-inches.

That’s a significant downgrade from the Surface Pro and Surface RT’s 10.5-inch displays, but like the iPad mini, a smaller Surface could appeal with lower price points and improved portability.

The Surface Mini will likely stick with Windows RT, despite the OS’s difficulties. Foley reported that’s because Microsoft likes how locked down the OS is (no surprise there), and the Surface 2 will keep it going as well.

That would make the Surface Mini the sole smaller-form tablet running the stripped-down Windows OS.

TechRadar previously predicted that smaller tablets from Asus and Acer could fill that void, but those companies and others backed off from Windows RT as soon its fortunes started to turn.


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Updated: Surface 2 release date, news and rumours


Updated: Surface 2 release date, news and rumours

Surface 2 news and rumours

We already know that Microsoft is working on future models of its Surface tablet beyond the Core i5 Surface Pro that came out in January.

Why? It’s thanks to job adverts revealing the kinds of experts Microsoft is hiring. And, what’s more, we could see a reveal as early as June. Keep on reading for the latest info. There’s also this internal slide, which lists “Update to Surface RT” and “Update to Surface Pro” alongside other landmarks like the release of the Xbox One, Windows 8.1 and other new Windows 8.1 devices.

We’re fans of Surface on TechRadar, even if we think that Surface Pro is too expensive and Surface RT is too limited (due to Windows RT). And so we’re excited about what version two may bring.

It seems sure that a new Surface RT is imminent due to price reductions – shown by this post on the Staples website and by news stories across the web – it’s around a $100 USD cut.

By general concensus the Surface RT hasn’t done that well, although we’ve never been clear on how many slates Microsoft has sold with RT. But the fact that a price cut amounting to $150 per model (equal to £98, AU$163) is a sign the numbers aren’t stellar.

But it seems Microsoft has been bolstered by the successful sales and international pre-orders of the Surface Pro and may even bring forward a Surface 2 release date as a result – a device that will surely feature Intel’s new Haswell processors. The 128GB version sold out numerous times and there was a definite shortage of the tablet across the US and Canada in the weeks after launch and subsequently some shortages in Europe.

Microsoft Surface versions and release date

The latest rumours say that a new model of Surface, called Surface Plus, will be available. It could be a whole range of devices rather than just a new tablet. But what will Microsoft add to Surface to keep competing with the iPad?

According to the latest rumours, Microsoft’s next batch of Surface tablets will include a 7-inch edition, which will go up against the Google Nexus 7 and iPad mini and which will be available before Christmas. Indeed, we know from Microsoft Build 2013 that we’ll be seeing a lot more small tablets, such as the 8-inch Acer Iconia W3.

We heard back in November that a new Xbox Surface could be on the cards and this could also be the smaller ARM-based Microsoft tablet we keep hearing about. As for when it will be here, analyst NPD DisplaySearch believes that a Microsoft 7.5-inch slate won’t hit until 2014.

New Surface specification

We could definitely see newer technologies in a forthcoming Surface, including NFC and LTE as well as, potentially, wireless charging. Strong rumours from June suggest the Surface 2 could have the 4G LTE version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 chip running Windows RT.

According to a Bloomberg report, people “with knowledge of the plans” have spilled the beans. Microsoft plumped for Nvidia’s Tegra chipset in the original Surface RT.

As we’ve reported before, Intel’s new Haswell chips may be on board the new Surface Pro-level devices.

We’re also hoping Microsoft will be one of the first tablet makers to use the new high-speed, low-power 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, especially as even the first Surface model has twin antennas.

There continue to be rumours that the new Surface could be launched in an 8-inch version. Samsung will supposedly supply the panels for these displays.

Surface Pro battery life

A big problem with the existing Surface Pro appears to be battery life, with around four hours reported for most. That’s about half the battery life of Surface RT and the iPad, but while you might not be too surprised considering the Intel Core i5 that the Surface Pro runs, we’d point you in the direction of the six or more hours that many Ultrabooks can reach.

Microsoft’s leaks also show new Surface accessories and accessory colours, which could mean new charge covers for extra battery capacity.

In a two hour AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit, head of Surface Panos Panay talked about the Surface Pro in detail and had to defend the battery details against Redditors who suggested Panay – and fellow engineers who also appeared to be participating in the chat – were giving guarded answers drawn from marketing speak.

They had a point. Exhibit A is a key passage about the battery life and size, and the compromise that has been made. “If you compare [Surface] to say a MacBook Air, you will quickly see that pound for pound in battery size vs battery life, you will find optimizations that puts Surface best in its class.

“That said we picked a smaller battery to be sure we were able to give you the same performance and to keep it thin. This kept the weight under 2lbs. While these tradeoffs are challenges as much as they are opportunities, we think given the performance and experience you will be getting, it is an exciting product.”

Put simply, the 42Wh Surface Pro battery had to be small and, while it’s good for the size, there are compromises as a result.

Commenter Wiseasss wasn’t appeased. “In every paragraph you insist that the computer has ‘no compromises’, and then turn around and talk about the compromises you made. What exactly is the difference, in your mind, between ‘compromises’ (which you say this product does not have) and ‘tradeoffs’ (which you say it does)?”

Microsoft Surface power saving

His thoughts echoed many comments that suggested the Surface Pro’s battery life made it poor value up against competitor tablets and Ultrabooks. But Redditor marm0lade could see that physical size was the restriction, and that’s how it had to be.

“Do you not think they are squeezing every ounce of battery life that they can get? It’s a power hungry CPU with a tiny battery. But you need that CPU to be able to run desktop apps (do actual work). I have the Samsung Ativ tablet, which is running the same CPU as the Surface Pro, and I get 7 hours battery life. It, again, has a bigger screen/body which allows for a bigger battery.”

You’d hope Microsoft could pack a bigger battery inside the Surface Pro, but judging by its responses here, there is precious little that will happen in the short term – it simply opted for power over longevity. After all, if it had wanted to offer a more frugal Intel solution, it would have opted for the Atom chip being used by others such as the Asus VivoTab.

Some respite was provided by the Surface engineers, who were surprisingly positive when questioned about whether an external battery could be on the way for Surface Pro. “That would require extending the design of the accessory spine to include some way to transfer higher current between the peripheral and the main battery. Which we did…”

Commenters were immediately enthusiastic. Here’s Skaarg: “That response 100% sold me on the Surface. I’d been debating between the Surface Pro and other devices such as the Vaio Duo 11, Yoga 11S, etc. but knowing that an extended battery or keyboard with a battery is in the works makes me much more comfortable buying this device.”

Microsoft Surface future connectivity

Panay also provided more detail about new connectors found on the Surface Pro’s bottom dock, writing, “Wow – I’m pumped you caught that! We haven’t announced what they are for but they aren’t an accident!” he continued.

Surface Pro

“At launch we talked about the ‘accessory spine’ and hinted at future peripherals that can click in and do more. Those connectors look like can [sic] carry more current than the pogo pins, don’t they?”

So as well as a powered keyboard dock (the like of which is appearing on many other Windows 8 devices, could we also see other peripherals appear such as a battery pack or full dock? Only time will tell.

Surface Pro storage issues

Storage space – or lack of – was also a bone of contention during the AMA. According to Microsoft recently, the base model Surface Pro with 64GB of storage only comes with 23GB of free storage. That means Windows 8 Pro and whatever other default programs and apps come loaded on the tablet will leave just 36 per cent of the drive open for users.

The 128GB model fares better, with 85GB (64.8 per cent) of the storage space left open for people to use. The Surface RT also went through some similar memory troubles. The 32GB Surface RT included just 16GB of storage when it arrived, and the 64GB version allowed users to work with 46GB of space.

Over the course of many tens of comments, Redditers were highly critical of the amount of space used up, comparing the device to others where free space was not as cited, but was still a smaller proportion of the storage space (the iPad or an Android tablet, for example).

Sag969 suggested they should have “cancelled the 64 GB model, sold the 128 GB model at $899 with no keyboard and the 128 GB model at $999 with a touch OR type cover” to alleviate the storage issues but still hit a reasonable price point.

Surface Pro

An interesting titbit was revealed in the talk – that Office 2013 is actually pre-installed on Surface Pro – you just have to activate it. Asked if this was the case, the Surface team replied “Yes, that’s exactly what it means :) .”

On the 128GB version, the drive is formatted to 119 binary GB of which 89 GB is available. 10.4GB of that is taken up by Windows, while there’s 2.3GB of Office 2013.

7.8 of those can be freed up by using the built-in tool to move the recovery data to a USB drive.

The Surface team unsurprisingly suggested that the answer to a lack of storage lay with extending space via the memory card slot, plugging in an external drive or using SkyDrive adding, “Windows does provide tools that allow you to free space by easily removing applications you are not using as well as move the recovery image to a USB thumbdrive.”

Surface RT

“We decided to ship a Pro 64GB sku as it provides full Windows 8 and enough storage for a number of large application installs. It also provides you flexibility to extend storage should you need. If you plan to carry more personal items with you locally, our 128GB may be the better option for you.”

“Available disk space is a design choice and a tough one to make as an engineering team,” said the engineer, saying it was the result of “a clear set of tradeoffs to provide the customer more space while providing them the tools out of the box”.

“There has [sic] also been questions about why including the recovery image by default. Ideally, you will never need your recovery image, however this is a choice we would prefer the customer to make vs. having the customer need the recovery image not realizing they needed to create one themselves.”

Microsoft Surface display issues

During the chat the Surface team also cleared up how it came to ship the Surface Pro after RT. And the answer is surprisingly simple: “We started the Pro 3 months after we started Surface RT :-) That is exactly when we staffed the team to go and bring this product to life.”

The final point of interest from the AMA concerned the 1920

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Microsoft to take on iPad mini with 7-inch Surface


Microsoft to take on iPad mini with 7-inch Surface

Microsoft’s next batch of Surface tablets will include a 7-inch edition, according to the latest rumours.

A ‘person familiar with Microsoft’s product plans’ told the WSJ that the company is on the 7-inch case to take on the likes of the Google Nexus 7 and iPad mini.

The smaller Surface is apparently set to go into production later this year, which should see it hitting the shops in time for the Christmas rush.

Festive

Back in November, we heard talk of an Xbox Surface – apparently a 7-inch gaming tablet running on a custom ARM processor with a cut-down Windows version.

It’s expected to work in conjunction with the new Xbox which means we may see Microsoft unveil the smaller Surface at the same time or shortly after the console, slated for a May announcement.

Whether these two rumoured tablets – the Xbox Surface and the 7-inch Surface – are one and the same remains to be seen. Either way, we’d expect to see a 7-inch slate from Microsoft before the year is out.

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W8 upgrade to deliver Mail, Calendar and People updates on March 26


W8 upgrade to deliver Mail, Calendar and People updates on March 26

Good news for Windows 8 and Windows RT users: updates for the Mail, Calendar and People apps are being released on March 26, Microsoft announced today on its official Windows blog.

“The features that are part of this update are designed to align with the different habits people have for staying on top of their email and schedule and staying organized,” wrote Microsoft Communications Manager Brandon LeBlanc.

Specifically, the March 26 Windows upgrade for Mail will enable users to filter messages so that only unread emails show up, and to create and delete folders directly within the app.

For even more Mail organization, it’ll also be possible to select all items within a folder and either move or delete them in one fell swoop.

Composing email will get easier with tomorrow’s update thanks to Microsoft improving the “To” field, which includes a contacts drop-down the company calls “smart contact suggestions.”

Windows Mail vs Gmail

All of these Windows Mail changes are on par with what Gmail already does – except for one convenient tweak.

Drafts will automatically sit at the top of the Mail app’s inbox, ensuring that the drafts folder isn’t filled with half-finished, long-forgotten messages.

That’s great news for everyone except tricksters like former CIA Director David Petraeus and his mistress Paula Broadwell, who allegedly used the “Save as Draft” trick to skirt watchful eyes.

Maybe they can star in a future Google-made ad for the Microsoft version of getting Scroolged.

Windows Calendar, People updates

Changes to the Calendar and People are less plentiful, with the Calendar update offering some cosmetic alterations to make the app easier to read.

“Gone are the solid blocks of colors – instead, those colors are reflected in a small bar on the left of each appointment,” wrote LeBlanc.

Functionality-wise, “work week” view returns to this version of Calendar, and Microsoft added the scheduling assistant feature for business accounts that use Microsoft Exchange.

Windows Calendar users stuck in a lot of meetings will be happy to know that it’ll be possible to forward meeting invitations, send email to all attendees, choose more recurrence options, and set end dates for events.

The People app, meanwhile, will mostly improve upon navigation with things like app commands and new filters for social media networks.

Xbox Music, Bing AppEx updates too?

Mail, Calendar, and People is the focus of the March 26 Windows app update, but Microsoft may also be readying other Windows 8 and Windows RT apps.

Xbox Music and the Bing AppEx applications were also scheduled to be refreshed this month, according to an unnamed source who spoke to ZDNet.

However, with just six days left in the month, these updates may have to wait until April, even though the publication’s tipster said the Xbox Entertainment app team is “almost done.”

Either way, expect to be pinged to update Windows Mail, Calendar, and People via the Microsoft Store within the next 24 hours.



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