Thursday, March 19, 2015

Microsoft announces Windows 10 will be free for anyone using Windows 7 or Windows 8!

Windows 10 is coming this summer, Microsoft has confirmed, and will be free to anyone using Windows 7 or higher systems. Even people who didn’t pay for it.

That’s right, even Windows 7 and 8 users who don’t have a valid Windows license will get a free bump up to Windows 10. The release timing and new upgrade scheme were revealed by Microsoft operating system chief Terry Myerson at the WinHEC technology conference in Shenzhen, China, Reuters reports. Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment.

It’s a surprising move given the importance that Microsoft has placed on Windows license revenue in the past, and the lengths Microsoft has gone to to prevent the spread of pirated copies of the operating system. But the company has spent the past year reinventing itself in many ways, including going so far as to announce a free version of Windows for devices with screens smaller than nine inches.

Meanwhile, operating system pricing expectations have also been changing. Apple has offered free upgrades to OS X since 2013, and mobile operating system updates have long been free. Apple can make up for some of this lost revenue through increased hardware sales, and Microsoft is trying this strategy as well with its Surface tablet/notebook hybrid and other new devices. But Google offers its Android mobile operating system for free, making money off mobile advertising and app sales in the Google Play Store. Microsoft may similarly see a free Windows 10 as the gateway to alternate revenue streams.

The company now offers a range of cloud services, including Office 365, Skype and OneDrive, that Windows users may be more likely shell out for, even if they didn’t buy an operating system license. And even if those customers don’t end up buying cloud services from the company, at least they’re staying in the Microsoft ecosystem. Last quarter Microsoft’s revenue from consumer licensing — including both Windows and Office — accounted for only 16 percent of the company revenue, down from 23 percent the previous year. With Apple and Google Chromebooks slowly eating into Microsoft’s market share, the company could be thinking that a non-paying customer is better than no customer at all.

The company could also be worried about leaving millions of machines running outdated operating systems and software. Unpatched systems can spread malware and viruses, and releasing security updates for decades old platforms is costly. Microsoft has been campaigning to get users to retire Windows XP and the Internet Explorer 6 web browser, but China has been particularly slow to upgrade both. To make matters worse, the Chinese government, which has long clashed with Microsoft over piracy, even banned the use of Windows 8 on government computers largely due to concerns over upgrade costs.

The move to simply give away updated copies to pirates could ensure that Microsoft doesn’t end up in the same situation again. But regardless of the reason, it’s certainly a change of direction for the company. And welcome news to those who acquired Windows through less than legal means.

Source: Wired

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Got an extra $17k to burn? Buy this 18 karat gold Apple watch!

Apple expects some iPhone owners to shell out more than $10,000 for a smartwatch. And it hopes they don't care if it becomes outdated in a year.

The Cupertino, Calif., electronics giant on Monday revealed pricing for the three models of Apple Watch, which will be available April 24 in nine countries. The device starts at $349 for the basic Apple Watch Sport version and goes up to $17,000 for the premium Apple Watch Edition.

That huge price gap comes from the use of the materials in the watches - 18 karat gold for the high end edition versus aluminum for the sport edition - but not for any of the actual features. iPhone owners won't be able to do any more with the expensive gold number than with the entry level model (aside from show off their ability to afford a wearable device that costs more than some cars).

By pricing its smartwatch that high, Apple, one of the world's largest makers of smartphones and tablets, is setting itself up as a luxury watch seller. But the transition could be tricky. The computing world is moving faster than ever before, as technology executives like to tell us, and what's new one day may easily be outdated a few months later. Spending $10,000 - $17,000 on a golden gadget that could become obsolete in a year is a risky proposition, especially since we don't yet know if Apple will have a trade in program, how it will support older devices in the future and whether any of the components in the device are replaceable.

History has shown that buying the first generation of a new Apple product often isn't the smartest move. Apple tends to update its products in short order - usually within a year and sometimes even earlier. And it incorporates new features in each update that make the prior model less attractive.

Source: CNET

Monday, March 9, 2015

Your website is one of your biggest marketing opportunities. Don't let it fall victim to these 5 home page missteps.

It's all too common for small business owners who build their own websites to make a handful of rookie mistakes. Luckily, the professionals at IES know how to effectively design and code websites. If you need a website designed, give us a call at 781-816-9437 or email

Your website is one of your most important marketing tools, so whether you're taking on the creation and design of it yourself or you're hiring someone else to do it for you, make sure you avoid these all too common home page mistakes:

1. Too Many Choices
People won't actually read your home page. They'll scan it, looking for the information that's most immediately relevant to them. If they can't find it quickly and with minimal effort, they'll visit a site where they can.

Your site should be designed to guide new eyes exactly where you want them to go, even if they don't know for sure what they're looking for....especially if they're not sure what they're looking for. Simple navigation with clean lines is the way to go. If your business requires that you offer robust, complex choices, do that on a deeper page. Your home page should be simple and easy to navigate.

2. Wall Of Text
A few years ago, a multimillion dollar ad campaign from five major magazine publishers who were touting the power of print stated "We surf the Internet. We swim in magazines." To do that surfing, people will interact with, share and return to websites that have pages with:
  • Short paragraphs
  • Bullet and numbered lists
  • Lots of white space
  • Images and other graphics
  • Sections with subheadings
Anything that breaks up the information you're presenting means people will read more about your company, your products and services, and why they want to do business with you.

3. No Blog
Blogging for your business doesn't mean you have to post something every day, but it does give your website dynamic, rather than static, content. Dynamic content means something on your site changes often enough that people will come back to see what's new. More important, it engages Google in a way that unchanging pages don't.

Even one post per week will be enough to get the attention of Google and other search engines. To attract the attention of human readers, be sure to announce the newest blog updates on your social media platforms and encourage subscribers to sign up for your blog.

4. No Optimization
Yes, there's a lot of luck to search engine optimization (SEO). No, this doesn't mean you shouldn't build your site without sound SEO practices in place.

A full discussion of SEO could fill several books, which would then need new editions fairly quickly because of how rapidly Google changes its algorithms. A short list of essentials includes:
  • Identifying three to five keyword phrases for your site to aggressively pursue
  • Including keywords in metadata, URLs and similar "behind the curtain" aspects of your home page
  • Avoiding "black hat" SEO methods like keyword stuffing and courting unrelated links
  • Using smart, natural instances of your keywords in your blog and on the static pages of your site
5. Neglecting The Obvious
Google gives bonus points for including a handful of simple page components on your website, which will help your site perform better in searches. Including "Privacy Policy" and "Contact" pages with specific data about your company, information about how to reach you and what you'll do with customer information takes no more than 30 minutes per page, but it's been shown to give sites preferential ranking over similar sites that lack those pages.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Shortly after Google announces, Comcast admits "assessing the possibilities" of entry into mobile carrier market.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts recently hinted that the company is looking to launch a mobile phone carrier, to compete with the likes of Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. The service would make use of Comcast’s numerous national Wi-Fi hotspots to connect phones and tablets to the Internet.

As reported by FierceCable, the Comcast boss said during an earnings call Tuesday that the company is ”still assessing the possibilities” of becoming a carrier. Under the plan, Comcast would employ its 8.3 million Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), but Roberts emphasized that the time is not right to “chew open what [Comcast’s] Wi-Fi plans are.”

As pointed out by FieceCable’s sister site, FierceWireless, most of today’s MVNO services, like Republic Wireless and FreedomPop, work with a major cell carrier to augment their coverage when Wi-Fi isn’t available. The majority of your calls and website visits occur over Wi-Fi (at home or at work, for example); when there’s no Wi-Fi available, you are then passed off to a cellular network. It’s unclear whether Comcast would go this route or follow its competitor Cablevision, which recently launched Freewheel, a strictly Wi-Fi-only mobile phone service available at $9.99 a month for current cable subscribers.

"We do believe in the asset, and we’re looking for ways to bring it to market over the next several months," Roberts went on.

If that’s not enough evidence to convince (or scare) you, on Wednesday Engadget came across what seems to be a related Comcast job post. According to the listing, the company is looking to hire an executive under the context that it’s “evaluating potential entries into the wireless ecosystem” that would “utilize” Comcast’s millions of Wi-Fi hotspots.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Confirmed: Google to launch its own mobile phone network.

Google is planning to launch its own mobile phone network, the software and search firm has confirmed, as it plots a major business shift that will see the company move into supplying broadband connections across the planet

Details of what Google insiders are calling “Project Nova” were unveiled by Sundar Pichai, recently promoted as second in command to co-founder Larry Page, at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.

Subscribers of Google’s virtual network will be able to switch seamlessly between mobile phone and WiFi signals, and between the masts of competing mobile phone networks, as their phones seek out the best signals.

Dropped calls may also become less of a nuisance, as phones will automatically try to redial the number should the communication be cut mid conversation.

Nova, which will begin life as a US project, is part of a wider move by Google from software into networks, and the company’s ultimate goal is to beam internet connections to the earth’s remotest reaches, where four billion people have poor internet connections or simply live offline.

“We are creating a backbone so we can provide connectivity,” said Pichai. “We will be working with carriers around the world so they can provide services over our backbone. We want to focus on projects which serve billions of users at scale and which make a big difference in their every day lives.”

Leaks in January suggested Google had already signed agreements for Nova with Sprint and T-Mobile in the US. Google will not put up its own masts but will buy airtime wholesale from networks and repackage it for Nova subscribers. The model is known as MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator. It is used by services such as Tesco mobile and would be relatively simple to expand into Europe and further afield.

Pichai claimed Google’s intention was not to compete with existing operators like AT&T, but to improve their performance by demonstrating what was possible.

He said the project would follow the same model as Google’s Nexus devices, low cost but high performance phones and tablets which are made in partnership with manufacturers such as Samsung and LG.

“We don’t intend to be a network operator at scale,” said Pichai. “All innovation in computing happens at intersection of hardware and software. That is why we do Nexus devices. We do it at enough scale to achieve impact. We are at a stage now where it is important to think about hardware software and connectivity together.”