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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

One of the selling points for most of the Microsoft cloud based Office 365 subscriptions is the ability to use the software on mobile devices. Up until recently, however, there wasn’t an Android app that would let you use your subscription directly from your phone.   Now there is.

According to Phandroid, the Android companion app for Microsoft Office 365 is finally available.  It only took two years longer than expected but it has finally hit the Google Play store. You can download the app for free but you can’t use it without a subscription to Office 365.
You also have to have the right subscription or you won’t be able to use the app.  According to Microsoft’s Office Home comparison the subscription version of the software will allow you to use it on up to five computers and five mobile devices including Android and iOS.  With the business versions of Office 365, you can access and edit documents with the Small Business Premium and Midsize Business versions on Android phones and iPhones but you don’t have that option with the basic Small Business Version.
Right now it looks as if Microsoft is limiting the mobile feature to its own Windows phones, iPhone and Android phones.  The only tablets with the ability to access and edit Office 365 documents are Windows tablets. Apps are not available (yet?) for Android or Apple tablets. At the rate that Windows RT tablets are not selling, that could change.
Most people purchase Microsoft products and use them until they have to purchase a new computer which can be three years or more.  They don’t particularly bother with purchasing the updates until they have to.  With the subscription home versions, you pay a yearly fee to use Office 365.  True that means that you will always have the latest version but that also means that you will be paying considerably more than if you purchase the Office product once and use it for three years or more.
The new Android app is free, as is the iOS app, adding a bit more convenience to Microsoft’s Office 365 users. Still most people are not going to be using their phones for any major editing of Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents. Now if they expand the apps to Android tablets and iPads it could be a different story.
Posted in Android, Android apps, Apple, Applications, iPhone, Microsoft, Windows Mobile | No Comments » Read more from Susan Wilson
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In a recent podcast with Marc Whitten, corporate VP of Xbox he revealed that the company was able to safely bump up the performance of the GPU on the console by 6-percent. Whitten didn’t elaborate much on this statement, but he did indicate that developers will be able to push the system a little harder.

During Major Nelson’s podcast, Whitten stated:
That’s the time where you start tweaking the knobs. Either your theory was right dead on, or you were a little too conservative, or you were a little too aggressive. It’s actually been really good news for us, an example of that is we’ve tweaked up the clock speed on our GPU from 800mhz to 853mhz.
He also talked a little bit about new drivers that help take advantage of the GPU better called “mono driver.”
Microsoft’s Albert Penello elaborated on this improvement on NeoGAF boards recently. According to Penello, Microsoft set “aggressive targets for reliability, performance, yields, and noise.” This all makes perfect sense considering that the Xbox 360 was notorious for having a very high failure rate made popular by the Red Ring of Death stigma. The Xbox 360 originally sounded like a jet was taking off before several iterations of refinements were made to the console.
It seems like the company set out to improve on these things as the Xbox One is reported to be stealthily quite.
We want it to be DEAD quiet (and let me tell you, X1 is quieter than the new Xbox 360 we just released). And we wanted killer game performance. But those targets are in conflict with each other.
Penello adds that through testing, the team was able to find that the console could safely handle the bump in clock speed despite pushing the GPU beyond its set parameters.
What we’ve found through the development process is we were able to actually exceed our goals on the thermals and acoustics.
This gave us headroom to increase the clock speed without any hit to noise, reliability, or heat, so we took the opportunity to bump the GPU. I get it’s only 6% or so, but that could translate to a few FPS in the real world.
Posted in Games, Hardware, Industry, Microsoft, Xbox 360, Xbox One | 5 Comments » Read more from Mike Ferro
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John Carmack, genius programmer at id Software talked a little bit about Microsoft’s challenges with the Xbox One at his Quakecon keynote speech. While he stated that many of the things people fear about the Xbox One are probably true, he also defended things like Kinect spying on you as something that it is inevitable.
Carmack talked about Microsoft’s recent woes with its used game and always online policies as well as recent backlash over the always listening and watching Kinect camera. Carmack stated paranoia around a living room camera watching constantly is most likely a “temporary” vision of how things are perceived with the concept.
He stated that everyone is scared that the government is going to gain backdoor access into everyone’s Kinect and watch what’s going on in your living room. He then said “well, yea that’s pretty much the situation,” with the audience eruptin”g in laughter.

Carmack talked about some of the incidents reported in the media about laptops cameras getting hacked remotely and turned on. Back in December, reports revealing that the cameras built into some of the Samsung TVs could be hacked had the media in a frenzy.
This negative publicity has caused Samsung to back away from pushing models with web cams built in as aggressively.  Carmack stated, “we will just get used to it” regarding having a camera always watch you. Carmack does have a good point in that advances in technology will happen eventually and even believes that there will be some sort of major scandal involving the Kinect in the future.
He gave an example paralleling it to the introduction of tracking GPS through cell phones. While having GPS capabilities in smartphones has allowed the government to have the ability to track you, most people view the tradeoff to be well worth it if it.
However, so far Microsoft has yet to really show how the Kinect will revolutionize things. Besides big brother gaining access to your Kinect camera remotely, there is also the threat of an external attack on our systems. 
Posted in Games, Hardware, Industry, Microsoft, PS3, PS4, Sony | 14 Comments » Read more from Mike Ferro
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