An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
This Week: New Zealand
I spent this week in Auckland, New Zealand, where I participated in Microsoft’s TechEd 2012 New Zealand keynote address. Best of all, I got to play with some pretty exciting devices, including a Windows RT tablet with dock and the world’s largest multi-touch screen, the 82" Perceptive Pixel display that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer uses in his own office. The week was kind of a blur—I never did adapt to the time change, which was 16 hours ahead of my normal time (a first)—and never got outside of Auckland. So I guess I’ll have to come back some day. Everyone here has been fantastic, especially my host, Bradley, who did a tremendous job of making the show such a huge success. I lost a day flying here, but I guess I get it back when I fly home. I’m sure it won’t feel that way, and I expect to be out of it for a few days at least.
From the "You Can’t Make This Stuff Up" Files: Nokia Fakes Lumia 920 Promo Video
I think we’re hitting the point where beating up on Nokia isn’t just not fun, it’s as abusive as kicking a defenseless child. But I can’t stop Nokia from hurting itself. This week at its eagerly awaited and then curiously disappointing Windows Phone 8 launch event, Nokia presented a video that purported to show off the prowess of the Pureview camera in the Lumia 920. There’s just one problem: The video used to promote the Lumia 920 wasn’t taken with the phone; it was taken with a real camera. The fake was easy enough to spot—you can see the reflection of the camera crew in the video, for crying out loud!—and Nokia was actually compelled to publicly apologize. Claiming the video was a simulation, the firm blogged that “hindsight is 20/20, but we should have posted a disclaimer stating this was a representation of [this camera] only.” No kidding.
Microsoft Offers the Pespi, er ah, Bing Challenge
With its share of the online search market stuck in the mid-teens, Microsoft is trying a different tactic: a taste test. Dubbed Bing It On, the new marketing campaign challenges users to perform five searches; the site presents the Bing and Google search results anonymously side-by-side and asks you to pick the results you prefer in each case. Then, you are told which service you preferred. Ignoring the sample queries that are likely tilted in Bing’s favor, I gave this thing a few run-throughs and found that I basically preferred Bing (shocker). That said, most of the results were fairly close. Check it out! My guess is that it will be a toss-up for most. But at least a unicorn doesn’t die every time you use Bing.
Doesn’t “Move the Needle” on Security, Symantec Says
Which is great, since its means that the most secure OS available is as good as ever. Computerworld’s Gregg Keizer reported this week that Symantec’s evaluation of Windows 8 is complete, and the security firm is not hugely impressed with the security model of Metro-style apps, which are sandboxed from each other and the underlying OS. "We're just not seeing any significant improvements in Windows 8 security ... it doesn't move the needle much," Symantec’s Gerry Egan told Computerworld. “It's partially true that Windows 8 is more secure. But underneath is a traditional Windows-Intel desktop, which is backward compatible with both the good code and the bad.” Put another way: Windows 8 is more secure than Windows 7. And Symantec of course has a vested interest in pretending otherwise. Moving on.
Amazon Announces New Kindle Devices and Tablets
Amazon today announced new lineups of Kindle devices and tablets, and as you can read in my "Amazon Kindle Fire HD Preview," I’m particularly jazzed about the tablets. On the device side, Amazon is replacing its Kindle Touch with a new touch-based device called Kindle Paperwhite that features a higher-contrast screen with front lighting and costs just $120 or $180, depending on the version. (A low-end $70 Kindle still rounds out the product line.) On the tablet side, things are getting really interesting: Amazon is replacing its 7" Kindle Fire with the Kindle Fire HD (still just $200), which provides an HD display, dual-core processor, Dolby audio with dual speakers, 16GB of storage, and super-fast wireless. It gets 11 hours of battery life, Amazon says. (A $250 model includes 32GB of storage.) And Amazon is going right for the iPad jugular with its Kindle Fire HD 8.9, which comes in two models. The first is a $300 version with a full HD screen (Retina spec 1920 x 1080 with 254ppi), 16GB of storage, and a dual-core processor. (For $360, you can get 32GB of storage; Apple’s comparable iPad costs—wait for it—$600.) On the high end, Amazon sells a $500 Kindle HD 8.9 4G that matches the cheapest iPad price, but this device gives you 32GB of storage and 4G LTE wireless capabilities. For just $60 per year, you can get 250MB of LTE access per month; AT&T charges $180 for that same package on the iPad, which by the way costs $730 for a version with the same specs. Yep, Amazon is making Apple pay the price for its luxury pricing structure. Oh wait, Apple’s customers pay that price. These devices and tablets will all ship over the next few months, Amazon says. Just enough time for Apple to come up with another excuse for why their own products will remain very expensive.
Google Tries a Hail-Mary Pass on Chromebook, but No Receivers Are Open
Remember Google’s Chromebook? No? Don’t worry about it, because they’ll be gone soon. In a desperation move, the online advertising giant is trying yet another selling strategy for the laptop-like devices that no one wants: It’s going to let customers essentially rent them for $30 per month. To be fair, the offer is only open to business users, further denting the chances that anyone will take the company up on the offer. But if you want to pay $30 a month for a laptop that only runs a web browser, I won’t stop you. Heck, I won’t have to. No one wants this.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
Despite being roughly 9,000 miles from home, I recorded What the Tech with Andrew Zarian on Tuesday and Windows Weekly with Leo Laporte and Mary Jo Foley on Thursday at the normal times (which were 8am and 6am for me, respectively). Both podcast episodes should be available soon, on the web, and via iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found. You can also find all of my podcast activities on the SuperSite for Windows.
The Paul Thurrott Mobile App: Is That a Paul in Your Pocket?
The Paul Thurrott: Pocket Tech app is now available for both the iPhone and Windows Phone, bringing all of my technical content to your favorite mobile device in a fun, on-the-go format. We'll have an Android version available soon as well, I'm told. And who knows? A Windows 8 app would make plenty of sense too. Download for Windows Phone - Download for iPhone
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