Windows RT to cost OEMs $85 per device in licensing fees?

According to VR-Zone, Microsoft’s Windows RT – the iteration of the Windows OS for ARM powered devices- will cost OEMs willing to load the software onto their devices between $85-$90 per device in licensing fees. According to the site, initial estimates were that Redmond would charge $35 but “the reality is that Windows RT will cost staggering USD$80-95 dollars, with $85 being the most commonly quoted price.”

At this price, we should expect to see Windows RT (sounds like retweet to me, really) tablets are going to be at par with the iPad rather than Android devices. With expected prices to range between $500-$900 for a device, it’s going to be interesting to see how Microsoft plans to take on both Android powered tablets and Apple‘s iPad.

A late to comer to the raging table battle, one would have expected a more overwhelming strategy from Microsoft to take on Android instead since it cuts across both the high and low spec’d spectrum, but instead they chose to go after the iPad. The next year is going to be really interesting in the tablet market for observers and consumers alike. 

Lenovo Sucks- Never buy this box

Being both a student and worker means having a lot to carry around. One of the things I did not have to let weigh me down is my laptop since I carry it around pretty much everywhere. Looking for a much lighter laptop with reasonable specs, I settled on this Lenovo Ideapad S205 netbook. 

It’s a nice notebook packed with reasonably powerful specs, but unless you want to run with Windows as your OS, avoid this box like the plague. It ships with a faulty bios that cannot boot any Linux distro that ships with GRUB2 as the default bootloader. I’ve read GRUB2 itself is not fully done yet, but so far every box I’ve tried installing a GRUB2 distro on has simply worked. Since virtually all the Linux distros out there ship with GRUB2, it effectively means running Linux on this notebook is nigh impossible.

I’ve seen tedious workarounds that involve chrooting and other long winded methods. Unless you’re a masochist or have enough time to spare, you’re better off shopping for another box than buying this. So far I’ve not seen any bios update from Lenovo to correct this anomaly even though their forums are flooded with similar complaints. 

This was my first Lenovo purchase and with this experience, they can sure count it as my last, not just purchase but will also not recommend it to anybody. Get a better brand that you can install 

Windows Phone 7? 5 Reasons Why I Have no Faith in it

In my last and final goodbye to Nokia, a commeter asked the question, “what about Windows Phone 7?” Indeed, all throughout the post, there was not one mention of Microsoft’s answer to both Android and iOS. Is it because I think WP7 is no match for the two dominant OSs? Or that because it’s from Microsoft? I don’t think so. WP7 for me, is not a viable contender for the following reasons

1. Lateness: I really don’t know what Redmond was doing when Google bought Android Inc back in 2005 or when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone back in 2007, but somehow they chose to turn a blind eye to the then budding ultra smartphone market and instead concentrate more on their desktop offering. As the adage goes, the early bird catches the worm, and both Google and Apple were those early birds. If Redmond had thrown down its gauntlet at that time with the introduction of WP7 then, at least they would stand a chance today.

2. Miscrosoft bullying: Rather than focus time and resources on marketing and making WP7 attractive to both developers and those who don’t want either iOS or Android, Microsoft prefers to spend its energy on  bullying Android OEMs into paying so called royalties for infringing never-shown Microsoft patents. But there’s no surprise here, it’s one of Microsoft’s hallmarks to use the bogus patent system as a trump card if it cannot compete. 

3. Nokia: Perhaps the biggest reason why WP7 will find it tough on the market is the unholy alliance with Nokia. For years, Nokia had been a company known to make profits by selling high volume, low cost “dumb” phones to hundreds of millions of people across the world. Now with WP7, it will have to focus on the highend spectrum of the market. With Elop giving Symbian just a few years more for “harvesting,” Nokia is left with WP7 as its primary OS. We don’t know when Meltemi will finally take the place of Symbian, but for now, we can safely assume Nokia is going to alienate its core market. 

To also hammer home the point of Nokia being a disaster for WP7, take a look at the press coverage the release of the N9 and N950 MeeGo powered devices enjoyed and compare them to the Nokia Lumia, even Engadget, an ultra Apple centric blog was drooling over the N9. The Lumia? Yawn. The market logically expected Nokia to overhaul Symbian and fire up MeeGo, not sell out to Redmond.

4. Apps, apps and apps: The Apple App Store and Android Markets both have hundreds of thousands of apps available for download. Think of anything and you’re likely to find an app for that in those two markets. WP7 is yet to catch up, and with Microsoft busily suing other OEMs rather than go all out to attract developers, it’s going to take an eternity for WP7 to reach the scale of Android and iOS in terms of apps. 

5. The OEMs just love Android: Why? Because it gives them the power to differentiate themselves completely from their competitors. Given its open nature, it is always easy and safe to model Android into anything one can think of, an example being what Amazon did with it on its Kindle Fire tablets. Which company would not love such an offering? It’s little wonder that even the home pages of almost all the device makers  readily feature Android phones, with WP7 a few clicks down the menu. I don’t know the extent of customization Microsoft allows the OEMs, but it sure will not be on the scale Google gives them with Android. 

There could be even more reasons why it’s going to be a monumentous act for WP7 to climb out of the bottom, but from where I sit, these are the 5 basic reasons I see which work well against Microsoft’s comeback in the mobile spectrum.

And Microsoft came to the aid of disgruntled Blackberry users

The overly philanthropic and highly caring Microsoft corporation, having noticed the frustration of Research in Motion’s Blackberry users, has extended a helping hand to them. According to Windows Phone evangelist Ben Rudolph, Microsoft has 25 Windows Phones to give away to Blackberry users.

#DearBlackberry users, Frustrated with your BB? Tell me why you want to upgrade to a #windowsphone – I’ve got 25 to give away.

 via BenthePCguy 

How do you qualify? Well Rudolph says just tell him why you’d want to upgrade to a Windows Phone. Yup. Simple as that. So if you’re a frustrated Blackberry user, this might be your chance to jump ship…

2 Reasons Why Google Should Buy Ubuntu

In its apocalyptic battle with both Microsoft and Apple, there is one thing that both companies have that Google does not: a desktop OS. Chrome OS at best, is just a bridge OS. No matter how one looks at things today, there are hundreds of millions of machines out there powered by Windows or Mac OSX. 
I’m not sure we’ll all wake up one day and suddenly realise we’re living in the “cloud”. Google needs to equally have a traditional desktop OS, and I strongly suggest the purchase of Ubuntu Linux. Here’s why
Better competition with Microsoft
So Google’s Chrome OS is out. And it’s aimed at so called thin clients. That’s cool. But what about the “fat clients” that are in the majority today? Windows is Microsoft’s cash cow. To be able to compete with Redmond head on, Google would need to bring to the table not what it thinks people will be using in the future, but also a better alternative to what they are using today, until that elusive future is reached. 
Living in a part of the world where the cost of bandwidth is still on the high, it’s very difficult to see value in a cloud based OS other than the traditional one. There are also people and businesses that use Windows because either the Windows applications they depend on have no Linux alternatives or where there are, those alternatives don’t meet their requirements.
Google with its clout can get ISVs to port their applications to Linux. If the application my employer uses has a version for the Linux OS, why would I not evangelise it (Linux) to my bosses? Also, what’s the value in having Android/Chrome OS power smartphones/tablets/netbooks and when it comes to the desktop where more heavy lifting of internet activities take place, there’s suddenly no Google backed Linux presence? 
The Android Magic
Given the fact that there are millions of people that use Android without having the foggiest idea it’s Linux, one would expect that Google would have tried to replicate such a feat on the desktop first before going very futuristic with Chrome OS. 
Properly packaging Linux for the masses will again give Google the exact success its enjoying with Android in that given its price point (free definitely), array of commercial grade applications available and polish, more and more OEMs will be more than likely to give shipping their boxes with Linux some thought.
And how does Google gain I hear you ask? Simple. First it could ship the OS with its Chrome browser (I personally would not mind Ubuntu shipping with Chrome, really). Secondly, owning the OS will give it a better insight into developing seamless syncing with its other platforms for the myriad form factors those platforms support.  Also, it would help them tightly integrate their vast array of services into their OS platforms and thereby replicate the Apple “Garden of Eden” experience, but in an open environment.
There is a lot of space in the desktop market that currently only Microsoft and to a lesser extent Apple are making use of. There is still a lot of money to be made in that part of the market. Also Chrome OS, no matter what Google would want us to believe, cannot be a serious substitute to Microsoft Windows. Grab an already popular brand of OS and throw in the gauntlet more fully Google!

Latest Google Chrome Build Now Supports Speech Input

The latest stable release of Google’s Chrome browser features speech input through HTML. What this simply means is that you can now translate your voice input into other languages using Google Translate right in the browser.

So for instance, you can “if you’re translating from English, just click on the microphone on the bottom right of the input box, speak your text, and choose the language you want to translate to. In fact, you can even click on the “Listen” feature to hear the translated words spoken back to you!”

This feature is available on the Chrome stable channel across Windows, Mac and Linux. If you aren’t using Chrome yet, you can grab a copy from here.

Nokia Finally Signs WP7 Deal with Microsoft

Nokia has finally signed the NoWin deal with Microsoft, a deal set to see Windows Phone 7 become the company’s primary OS. Here at Ghabuntu, as long time Nokia users and Linux enthusiasts, we’ve made our position categorically clear that we believe this deal is a bad one both for Nokia as a company and for the open source community in general. See here, here, here and here.

Nonetheless, we respect the right of Nokia as a company to pursue strategies it believes will maximize shareholders’ worth. What we still are trying to get our heads around is why it’d take 10 weeks to sign the agreement and another couple months to release a full blown device running the new OS. That does not look good to us. We’d expect a rapid acceleration in releasing a device to the market asap.

As we disagree with Nokia going WP7, we’ll nonetheless welcome the opportunity to test any of the devices that will be running the OS to see for ourselves if we are wrong in our opposition to the move. When all is said and done, only time will tell what the outcome of this move is going to be. As we say in the Akan language, “Emere bekyere” which roughly translates as “time will tell.”

Microsoft’s Tim McDowd chats with Nokia’s VP of Microsoft Alliance, Waldemar Sakalus, and Microsoft’s General Manager of Developer & Marketplace Experience, Matt Bencke, about Nokia and Microsoft signing a strategic alliance.

Linphone- An Open source SIP phone for desktop & mobile

Linphone is an open source VOIP software capable of making voice, video and IM using the SIP protocol. This gives users easy access to a host of SIP VOIP operators across the world. You can also use Linphone’s free SIP voice/video.

Linpone on Android

It’s cross platform, available for Windows, Linux, Android, iPhone and Blackberry. Among its features are

  • Support for simultaneous multiple calls with call management features like hold with music, transfer etc
  • Efficient bandwidth management
  • Support for plugins
  • Support for any webcam with a V4L or V4L2 driver under linux and Directshow driver on windows
  • Video with codecs: H263, H263-1998, MPEG4, theora and H264 (thanks to a plugin based on x264), with resolutions from QCIF(176×144) to SVGA(800×600) among others

Linphone is available in the App Store on iPhone, Android Market, and Blackberry. It is also available in the Ubuntu repos and as a .exe file for Windows. 

5 Reasons why Linux is the Future of Technology

From embeded spaces to mobile phones to desktops and servers, there’s not a single one of those except it’s being overtaken by the gradual but consistent revolution called Linux. Here’s why

The Breakdown of the Psychic Barrier
The situation where people simply state Linux is not for them because it’s either too difficult or unfriendly is what I like to call the psychic barrier to use. However, that barrier is being broken down gradually thanks to distros like Linux Mint and Ubuntu. I never cease getting amazed at the sheer number of Ubuntu powered laptops I keep seeing on campus, mostly owned by people who hardly even know the distinction between Linux and Windows.

Android
There’s no gainsaying that Android has indeed come to stay. Having claimed Symbian as its first victim and set to be the most popular smartphone platform by the end of this year, there’s little doubt that Android is securing that space as the purview of Linux for a long time to come.

Africa
As I’ve stated a number of times, Africa, a massive market of about 1 billion people, is still mostly untapped and under-served. Symbian used to be the platform of choice of you wanted to use a smartphone. However, I’m increasingly seeing a gradual shift to the two platforms: iPhone and Android, especially among my contemporaries in school.

All it’ll take for Android to excel here is for a handset maker to achieve the right balance between reasonable price and the right hardware capable of running Andoid at reasonable speeds. I personally tick Samsung to achieve this feat.

Then in terms of desktops, again I was fairly surprised the first time I walked into our school’s computer lab and found out that half the computers are powered by Ubuntu 10.04. To say the popularity of Linux is soaring here in Africa is an understatement.

Availability
Again, it’s ten times easier for both an individual and a business to get access to Linux than to its alternatives. It’s this simple factor that in the long run will counter the Windows piracy in the developing world, a practice deliberatley overlooked by Redmond to help entrench its OS and maintain its dominance.

Google
With Android already a stunning success, Google is now turning its attention to Chrome OS, the browser based, netbook centric OS. With the entire handheld market currently fixated on lightweight devices, Chrome OS need only repeat the Android formula to make that spectrum Linux owned.

There are other reasons why the status quo will never be the same, with Linux emergin ultimately as the winner. Some might not be so clear if you live in the heartland of proprietary software like the US, but as an African on the ground, I can confidently tell you that things are changing, the tables turning in favor of Linux in particular and open source in general, albeit at an agonizingly slow pace.

Community SSU- Keep Your N900 OS Constantly Updated Without Nokia

Seamless Software Updates is a term coined by Nokia to refer to the pain-free method of updating the OS of your Nokia Internet Devices like the N900.

With the company now defecting to the Windows camp, the maintenance of Maemo 5 has virtually fallen on the shoulders of the community. To enjoy continous updates of your OS from the Maemo Community, you’d need to install the Community Seamless Software Updates or CSSU.

Basically what this does on setup is that it runs a small script which adds the Maemo Community repos to your software sources and tells the Hildon Application Manager to use the custom community repos for updates.

It comes with bug fixes and features such as support for portrait mode in the menu and also the ability to force applications to use the portait mode. It is important to know however, that this software is still under development and only recommended if you are willing to risk a flash of your device.

I have installed it however and find it working perfectly with no system upsets. Installing the CSSU is easy and takes just a few minutes by following the steps on the wiki page. I highly recommend it to all N900 enthusiats who want to enjoy the use of this awesome device for a long time to com.