Tag: "microsoft"

iPhone 4 can't keep up, looks dated compared to WP7

So Apple announced the iPhone 4 earlier this week. Jobs proclaimed it was the biggest upgrade since the iPhone came out. To which the Apple fanboys cheered. Perhaps somewhat exposing how disappointed they had been by the iPhone 3G, which added 3G support bringing the iPhone up to the same level as smartphones that had been shipping for years prior. And showing how lacklustre the iPhone 3GS was which was the same thing, only a bit faster.

Essentially the form factor is the same. The huge ugly bezel is still present, and with the design of the sides being a bit more chunky it is only going to feel more like a brick. They've finally added a front facing camera - again a feature that shipped on original 3G phones back 5 or so years.

Most importantly they have increased the screen resolution. Anyone who had used any Windows Mobile phone back when the iPhone first came out saw instantly how low resolution the screen on the iPhone was. They've finally caught up with the old Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 in having a display over 300 DPI. So that at least puts them up with 2008-era screens.

However the screen is the same size, 3.5 inches is pretty average nowadays. Most high-end smartphones today offer larger screens without making the handset larger by having a smaller bezel and having more of the phone taken up with screen. Also disappointingly it is the same old 4:3 aspect ratio, when other smartphones have been shipping with widescreen displays for a couple of years now as the standard.

Here's the iPhone next to the HD2. The HD2's screen is almost an inch bigger, yet the device is only slightly larger. You can really see how much space is wasted on the iPhone. Look at all that black empty nothingness top and bottom of the screen.

iPhone vs HD2

The HD2, or the Nexus One or the Desire etc show how a smartphone should be done. The front surface of the phone should be as much screen as possible.

The other much touted new feature is video calling. Yes, apparently the old iPhone didn't support that along with dozens of other features that other phones support. Worse yet it only does video calling with other iPhone 4s and you need a Wi-Fi connection. Apple blame this on mobile providers. Despite the fact the first generation of 3G phones supported video calling. Apple of course in their attempt to get mindshare give this feature a hip name FaceTime. Amazing. Once again Apple are attempting to re-write history, and too many people are letting it pass.

More importantly as Microsoft showed some newer builds of Windows Phone 7 at TechEd this week and announced that some developers (on a case by case basis) would be getting their hands on Windows Phone 7 devices next month for free. It is becoming painfully obvious just how out of date the iPhone is looking compared with WP7.

Here's the AP application running on an iPhone, and underneath an AP application running on WP7.

AP Mobile on iPhone
AP Mobile on Windows Phone 7

The screens really don't do it justice so here's the video:

In my opinion the iPhone definitely looks dated in comparison. Steve Jobs' little features here and there aren't going to make up for it. iPhone applications just look stale.

Microsoft backs Web Open Font Format

In some rather good news, it seems Microsoft have backed the Web Open Font Format (WOFF).

Previously Microsoft have supported Embedded OpenType (EOT), which they developed back in the 1990s, and was supported by Internet Explorer 4 onwards, although no other web browsers bothered implementing it. However back in those days adding an extra 100KB download was a heavy price to pay for embedding fonts into a website, and so it wasn't widely used. The release of the Core Web Fonts which Microsoft released for free back in 1996 were quite honestly better than a lot of fonts people were wanting to embed, or were allowed to embed, as the Core Web Fonts were designed for screen readability, and weren't just quick ports of fonts designed for printing.

However in 2009 the Web Open Font Format starting gaining support, like EOT it kept font foundries happy by preventing the font being downloaded to the computer and used in other applications, which had been the main stumbling block for all other font embedding technologies. Mozilla implemented it Firefox 3.6, Opera also have plans to implement it. The three have recently submitted it to the W3C. It isn't known if support will make it in for IE9, but it seems likely in my opinion. There's no date yet for when Opera plan on implementing it, and Chrome, Safari and the WebKit developers haven't decided who, let alone when is actually going to build support for it.

Internet Explorer and Firefox support would I think be enough to roll this thing out. As many of my readers know the second Windows Vista and Office 2007 came out I switched to using the 6 new fonts included with those on my blog and several other websites, because Segoe UI is gorgeous. Having a font embedding technology will really make the web a lot richer, maybe not for body text (frankly Segoe, Calibri, and even Verdana are hard to beat) but for headers the new choices and variety will really shine and best of all, it will cut down the need for images of text which many websites still use for headers, which don't scale well with high DPI screens and aren't easily search engine readable.

Hopefully in a couple of years web designers won't have to worry about what fonts people have on their machines, and we can just use the fonts we want to use and embed them and count on support across all, or at least most browsers.

Hands on review with Apple's iPad

So I've managed to sit down and use Apple's attempted copy of a Tablet PC for half an hour or so. Dubbed the iPad, the model number on the back reads TC1100, with a manufacturing date in 2003. Hmmm weird. Moving along.

HP TC1100

So what have we got in this machine? It comes with a 1Ghz processor (ouch Catherine's HTC HD2 mobile phone has a 1Ghz processor) and sports a 4:3 (no widescreen in this day and age, not good for media watching) that has a resolution of 1024x768. Kind of lacking considering I'm used to Tablet PCs with 1440x1050, really the minimum in my opinion as that way browsing the web isn't annoying in portrait mode as you've got over 1024 pixels in width.

The machine in question runs Windows XP Tablet Edition, possibly a bit of a strange choice for Apple, again in this day and age one would really hope for Windows Vista or Windows 7. It does however sport a proper Wacom digitiser now, unlike HP *coughs* last model which required one of those weird battery powered pens.

All in all, in this day and age (again), this machine seems a bit lacking. Back in 2004 or 2005 it was pretty much cutting edge for a slate Tablet PC. Releasing something like this in 2010, with those sorts of specifications, with the an unknown amount of RAM, and no doubt less than HP's TC1100 shown above, essentially nothing more than a giant iPhone (without the telephone), a strange sort of Tablet PC that you can't use for note-taking, or handwriting on, or drawing in Photoshop (not that it can even run Photoshop of course) with an old 4:3 screen when its being marketed as something to watch TV or films on, with it being locked into a single store, not capable of running anything other than software approved by the manufacturer with a bezel that fat is frankly more of an iDud.

I prefer the look of HP's latest slate Tablet PC:

Not only does it actually look good. It's a proper computer, that runs a normal operating system, in this case Windows 7 so you can do everything you can on a normal computer. You can take your existing PC applications and put them on this little beauty.

Personally I'll be keeping my Motion LE1700 for a while, and then maybe I'll look at MSI's dual-screen netbook when its released.

Zune 4.2 update adds podcasting library to Windows 7

So a new Zune update has just come down, it adds welcome support for Windows 7 libraries.

Awesome. Now it behaves like it should, like Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center. You should have a single library for music that can span multiple locations and computers. No longer will the Zune want to put its music in Music\Zune, but rather it'll use the default folder that the Music Library specifies, and best of all no matter what application I use, Media Player or Zune I'll see the exact same content. Now if only more primative software like iTunes could work this out instead of maintaining its own library isolated from everything else.

Even more impressive especially for podcasters like myself is it creates a new Podcasting library.

Yes I subscribe to my own podcast, (well I have to make sure it works). Hopefully with this level of exposure it will bring millions more into podcasting.

What is an MS Explorer and Google's security

The BBC have a headline that reads "German government warns against using MS Explorer". Well that's no problem, as I've never even heard of an MS Explorer. Of course what they're really going on about is Internet Explorer, and how version 6 was used to compromise Google's systems.

find an alternative browser to Internet Explorer to protect security.

Who knows what "protect security" actually means. Perhaps they mean protect their systems, or improve their security. Seriously who wrote this article?

What they should really be having a go at is what sort of incompetent system administrators would be using a 10 year old browser on a 10 year old operating system. Ed Bott says such administrators should be guilty of malpractice. And I agree with him, what sort of people are running the IT departments of companies like Adobe and Google to allow such dated technology on the network.

Even three year old systems like Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7 in the default configuration are immune to this sort of attack.

And it is just amazing that this has somehow been spun into an anti-Internet Explorer story when the real story is how can we trust Google with our data in the cloud when they're running such antiquated systems?

Let's get some Zune goodness in the UK please

Until yesterday I had never bothered really checking out the Zune, the actual device wasn't available in the UK. The marketplace obviously wouldn't work in the UK, not that I'd probably buy anything from there I do prefer my CD-quality sound. But one thing about the Zune had always interested me, the social aspect of it, and the recent rumours of a Zune client being available for Windows Mobile has made it far more interesting, and removed a lot of the potential lock-in aspects, like only syncing protected tracks to Zune devices.

Since moving to Aldershot and having to spend more time travelling I find I actually listen to music and podcasts a fair bit more. You need something to do on these long boring treks back and forth from town right? Right so I've been listening to music but over the last couple of months my music collection, which has barely changed in 5 years is started to feel old.

So yesterday I decided to try and get the Zune software working, at least partially to try and get Zune Social working. I don't have many friends in the US (the Zune shares your Xbox Live friend list), just a few but two of them use the Zune and I can see what they're listening too and so on. After spending a while in the registry I managed to get the marketplace to display, I managed to login with my UK Windows Live ID and I thought I was all set. Wrong. Zune Social didn't seem to be working. So I am assuming they're either filtering any non-US/Canada IP addresses or they're picking up the locale your computer is set to and filtering that server side. I could of course set my computer to the United States (which I really, really wouldn't want to do), but then it won't sign in with my Live ID, I could of course create a new Live ID based in the US - but to be honest that's too much hassle.

The Zune software itself is fantastic, far far better than I imagined. It has loads of gorgeous fluid animations and it looks awesome. I can see why many people have argued it should come with Windows and replace Windows Media Player - but there are counter arguments lets be honest, Windows Media Player has a much lower memory footprint, much faster loading times and syncs with virtually any mobile device that isn't locked down, i.e. iPod and Zune.

What would I like to see?

Stop blocking international users from using Zune Social. OK you won't be making money off us but it will be building mindshare. People will visit my blog and the websites of thousands of other people and see Zune Social badges.

Ideally of course I'd like to see it supported in the UK. Not tied to the Zune hardware, but opened up at least to Windows Mobile. And I'd like to see the Zune Pass priced at £7.99 a month at the most, or better yet £4.99 which would be an insanely successful price point.

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