Microsoft's Mission To Reignite the PC Sector ( 266 writes: Sales of personal computers have been declining for so long — 14 consecutive quarters — that it's hard remember a time when PCs ruled the tech world. Now Nick Wingfield writes in the NY Times that Microsoft is leading the way on a mission to re-ignite the PC market by taking the once-unthinkable step of competing with its hardware partners. This week, Microsoft dived even further into the business with a laptop device, the Surface Book. The stated reason that Microsoft got into the PC hardware business three years ago, with the original Surface, was not to put PC companies out of business — but to better illustrate the capabilities of its software, providing devices that would inspire PC makers to be more innovative.

One of the most remarkable things about Microsoft's growing presence in the hardware business is that it has not led to open revolt among its partners. Initially, many of them were not happy about Microsoft's moves, complaining in private. "It's positioned as a laptop, very squarely against the MacBook Pro as an example. But that could also be extended to a Dell XPS 13, or an HP x360," says Patrick Moorhead. One reason there hasn't been more pushback from OEMs is that Microsoft's Surface business is still relatively small. Another is that the money Microsoft has poured into marketing Surface has raised the broader profile of Windows PCs. While Microsoft obviously risks alienating its partners, it's doing so with a much bigger fight in mind. "Right now Microsoft really believes that it has to have a combined hardware, software, and services play to go up against the likes of Apple," says Moorhead. "That's why it's doing this. That's why it's taking such an aggressive stance now, moving to laptops."


Ask Slashdot: Recommendations For a Reliable Linux Laptop? 237

An anonymous reader writes: I will be looking for a new laptop soon and I'm mostly interested in high reliability and Linux friendliness. I have been using an MSI laptop (with Windows 7) for the last five years as my main workhorse and did not have a single, even minor problem with the hardware nor the OS. It turned out to be a slam-dunk, although I didn't do any particular research before buying it, so I was just lucky. I would like to be more careful this time around, so this is a hardware question: What laptop do you recommend for high reliability with Linux? I will also appreciate any advice on what to avoid and any unfortunate horror stories; I guess we can all learn from those. Anti-recommendations are probably just as valuable, a lesson I learned when an HP laptop I bought (low-end, I admit) turned out to be notoriously fickle when it comes to Linux support. Since our anonymous submitter doesn't specify his budget, it would be good if you specify the price for any specific laptops you recommend.

WSJ: We Need the Right To Repair Our Gadgets 345

An anonymous reader writes: An editorial in the Wall Street Journal rings a bell we've been ringing for years: "Who owns the knowledge required to take apart and repair TVs, phones and other electronics? Manufacturers stop us by controlling repair plans and limiting access to parts. Some even employ digital software locks to keep us from making changes or repairs. This may not always be planned obsolescence, but it's certainly intentional obfuscation." The article shows that awareness of this consumer-hostile behavior (and frustration with it) is going mainstream. The author links to several DIY repair sites like iFixit, and concludes, "Repairing stuff isn't as complicated as they want you to think. Skilled gadget owners and independent repair pros deserve access to the information they need to do the best job they can."

Amazon Reportedly Aiming For the Low End With a Loss-Leader $50 Tablet 111

Amazon has been dogged with criticism for its high-end, somewhat oddball phone, but done rather better with its high-end Fire tablets, and has mostly defined the market for e-ink book-reading devices with its long-lived Kindle series. Now, according to a report in the WSJ echoed by Fortune (and by Ars Technica and many others), the company is said to be working on a tablet aimed at the low end of the market, with a 6-inch screen, a mono speaker, and a tiny pricetag -- which could be as low as $50. "At the bottom end of the range at least, the devices won’t be priced to make a profit," writes Fortune. "The dirt-cheap price tag is intended to maximise the reach of its e-book and Amazon Prime video streaming content."

Ask Slashdot: Best Tablet In 2015? 283

An anonymous reader writes: My 2012 Nexus 7 tablet is showing its age. The battery drains quickly, the storage problem that plagued all the Nexus 7s persists even after rooting and re-imaging, and the CPU/RAM can't keep up with the later Android versions. When it came out, it was fantastic — good specs, solid build quality, Nexus line, and a good size. Is there anything on the market today that stands out as much as the Nexus 7 did? I tend to prefer the smaller tablets over the bigger ones, but I'm not entirely averse to an 8" or 9" device. There seem to be some really nice devices in the $3-400 range, but I'm not sure if there's a huge benefit to those over the ~$200 models. I don't do any serious gaming on my tablet, but I also want the apps I do use to be snappy. Those of you who have bought or used tablets made in the past year or so, what has your experience been? Any brands or models that stand out from the crowd? Any to avoid?

Four Men Arrested Over Million-Dollar MacBook Heist 100

An anonymous reader writes: In January of 2014, Anton Saljanin was hired to drive 1,195 Apple MacBooks, valued at over $1 million, from a vendor in Massachusetts to a pair of high schools in New Jersey. The day after picking them up, he told police that the truck disappeared overnight while he slept. Later that day, he told police he just happened to spot the truck abandoned in a parking lot while he was driving down the highway. Unfortunately for him, detectives quickly realized none of these things could be true. Footage from CCTV cameras and cell-site records for his phone indicated he met with his brother and drove to another suspect's house, where they unloaded the laptops. Later, a fourth man helped them sell some of the MacBooks, often at steep discounts. The four men have now been charged in federal court for the theft.

Intel Launches Onslaught of Skylake CPUs For Laptops, Hybrids and Compute Stick 54

MojoKid writes: Intel is following up on its Skylake launch bonanza by opening the floodgates on at least two dozen SKUs mostly covering the mobile sector. The company is divvying up the range into four distinct series. There's the Y-Series, which is dedicated to 2-in-1 convertibles, tablets, and Intel's new Compute Stick venture. Then there's the U-Series, which is aimed at thin and light notebooks and "portable" all-in-one machines. The H-Series is built for gaming notebooks and mobile workstations, while the S-Series is designated for desktops, all-in-one machines, and mini PCs. Also, the Y-Series that was previously known as simply the Core M, (the chip found in products like the 12-inch Apple MacBook and Asus Transformer Book Chi T300) is now expanding into a whole family of processors. There will be Core m3, Core m5, and Core m7 processors, similar to Intel's Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 CPU models in other desktop and notebook chips.

Samsung May Release an 18" Tablet 177

A report at PC Magazine says that Samsung may soon field a tablet to satisfy people not content with the 7", 9", 12", or even slightly larger tablets that are today's normal stock in trade. Instead, the company is reported to be working on an 18.4" tablet aimed at "living rooms, offices, and schools." There's a lot of couching going on, but it sounds like an interesting idea: It's said to run Android 5.1 Lollipop and be powered by an octa-core 64-bit 1.6GHz Exynos 7580 processor. Other rumored specs include 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot with support for cards up to 128GB, and a large 5,700 mAh battery. The device also has an 8-megapixel main camera (and you thought people looked silly taking photos with their iPads) and 2.1-megapixel "secondary camera."

Yet Another Compromising Preinstalled "Glitch" In Lenovo Laptops 89

New submitter execthis writes: Japanese broadcaster NHK is reporting that yet another privacy/security-compromising "glitch" has been found to exist in preinstalled software on Lenovo laptops. The article states that the glitch was found in Spring and that in late July Lenovo began releasing a program to uninstall the difficult-to-remove software. The article does not specify, but it could be referring to a BIOS utility called Lenovo Service Engine (LSE) for which Lenovo has released a security advisory with links to removal tools for various models.
Desktops (Apple)

Could the Best Windows 10 Laptop Be a Mac? 435

dkatana writes: Now that Windows 10 is finally out there many people are looking for the best laptop with the power to make the new OS shine. The sweet spot appears to be in $900-$1500 machines from Dell, Asus and HP. But Apple, the company that has been fighting Windows for ever, has other options for Windows 10: the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. According to InformationWeek there are many reasons to consider purchasing a MacBook as the next Windows machine, including design, reliability, performance, battery life, display quality and better keyboard. Also MacBooks have a higher resell value, retaining up to 50% of their price after five years.

NVIDIA Recalls Shield Tablets Over Heat Risk 27

An anonymous reader writes: NVIDIA has issued a recall for 88,000 units of its 8-inch Shield tablet sold in the past year. Predictably, it's because of the battery. There have been reports of overheating, including two reports that the tablet got so hot it damaged the floor it was resting on. Oddly, the company is requiring anyone returning the tablet to update its OS to the latest release.

Experiment: Installing Windows 10 On a 7-Year-Old Acer Aspire One 405

jones_supa writes: Windows 10 will launch in less than a week and it is supposed to work flawlessly on devices already powered by Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, as Microsoft struggled to keep system requirements unchanged to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Device drivers all the way back to Windows Vista platform (WDDM 1.0) are supported. Softpedia performed a practical test to see how Windows 10 can run on a 7-year-old Acer Aspire One netbook powered by Intel Atom N450 processor clocked at 1.66 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, and a 320 GB mechanical hard disk. The result is surprising to say the least, as installation not only went impressively fast, but the operating system itself also works fast.

Lenovo ThinkPad W550s: Heavy, But a Battery That Lasts Nearly All Day 79

MojoKid writes: Mobile workstation notebooks typically offer a fair degree of performance but usually at the expense of battery life. It comes with the territory for machines that are configured with higher-end processors with discrete graphics chips, as well as high-end displays that take more power to light up. Lenovo, however, seems to have found a way to strike a better balance with their new ThinkPad W550s, which comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-5600U CPU, an NVIDIA Quadro K620M GPU, and a 15.5 inch IPS display that sports 2880X1620 native resolution. With that kind of horsepower and that many pixels to push, you would think untethered up-time wouldn't be its strong suit but Lenovo configured a snap-in extended battery for the W550s. The 6-cell extended battery, in combination with its 3-cell internal battery, was able to power the machine for over 18 hours of light-duty web browsing in real-world testing (Lenovo claims up to 20 hrs of battery life). The machine also lasted over five hours under heavy-load Battery Eater testing, and the extended battery is unobtrusive, tilting the keyboard up slightly toward the user but keeping well inside the machine's footprint.
Linux Business

Lenovo Will Sell Ubuntu Laptops In India 77

puddingebola notes the news, as carried by Tom's Hardware, that Lenovo will soon ship laptops preloaded with Ubuntu in India. "The first of these systems will be the Lenovo Thinkpad L450, featuring only one of two CPUs, but the selection may widen over time and expand to other countries ...Overall, switching to Ubuntu reduces the system cost considerably. Currently, the standard L450 system with Windows 8.1 Pro utilizing a Core i3, 4 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB HDD costs 59724 INR ($943.02 USD). An Ubuntu version of the system with the same hardware specs, however, will only cost 48000 INR ($757.91 USD).

Two-Pounder From Lenovo Might Be Too Light For Comfort 134

MojoKid writes: With the advent of solid state storage and faster, lower-powered processors that require less complex cooling solutions, the average mainstream notebook is rather svelte. Recently, however, Lenovo announced their LaVie Z and LaVie Z 360 ultrabooks and at 1.87 and 2.04 pounds respectively, they're almost ridiculously light. Further, with Core i7 mobile processors and fast SSDs on board, these machines perform impressively well in the benchmarks and real world usage. If you actually pick one up though, both models are so light they feel almost empty, like there's nothing inside. Lenovo achieved this in part by utilizing a magnesium--lithium composite material for the casing of the machines. Though they're incredibly light, the feeling is almost too light, such that they tend to feel a little cheap or flimsy. With a tablet, you come to expect a super thin and light experience and when holding them in one hand, the light weight is an advantage. However, banging on a full-up notebook keyboard deck is a different ball of wax.

Lenovo Could Remake the ThinkPad X300 With Current Technologies 219

MojoKid writes: The ThinkPad brand has been around for a long time; the first model was introduced by IBM way back in 1992. And although technological advances over the past two decades have lead to Lenovo ThinkPads that are lighter, much faster, and highly more cable than any model in the early 1990s could have ever imagined, there's still a clear visual link between yesteryear and today with regards to design cues. Well, apparently, Lenovo is seriously toying with the idea of making a "unique" model that would incorporate some of the strong ThinkPad language that has been erased in recent years. "Imagine a blue enter key, 7 row classic keyboard, 16:10 aspect ratio screen, multi-color ThinkPad logo, dedicated volume controls, rubberized paint, exposed screws, lots of status LEDs, and more. Think of it like stepping into a time machine and landing in 1992, but armed with today's technology." It might not be for everyone but some execs at Lenovo think there might be a market for it.

Surface Pro 3 Handily Outperforms iPad Air 2 and Nexus 9 204

An anonymous reader points to an interesting comparison of current tablets' peformance, as measured with the Geekbench benchmarking tool, which boils down various aspects of performance to produce a single number. The clear winner from the models fielded wasn't from Apple of Samsung (Samsung's entrants came much lower down, in fact), but from Microsoft: the i5-equipped Surface Pro 3, with a Geekbench score of 5069.; second place goes to the Apple iPad Air 2, with 4046. The Nexus 9 rated third, with 3537. One model on the list that U.S. buyers may not be familiar with is the Tesco Hudl 2, a bargain tablet which Trusted Reviews seems quite taken by.

Judge: Warrantless Airport Seizure of Laptop 'Cannot Be Justified' 200

SonicSpike writes with news of a ruling in U.S. District Court that the seizure and search of a man's laptop without a warrant while he was in an airport during an international border crossing was not justified. According to Judge Amy Jackson's ruling (PDF), the defendant was already the subject of an investigation when officials used his international flight as a pretext for rifling through his laptop. The government argued that a laptop was simply a "container," and thus subject to warrantless searches to protect the homeland. But the judge said the search "was supported by so little suspicion of ongoing or imminent criminal activity, and was so invasive of Kim's privacy and so disconnected from not only the considerations underlying the breadth of the government's authority to search at the border, but also the border itself, that it was unreasonable."

She also noted that laptop searches may require more stringent legal support, since they are capable of holding much more private information than a box or duffel bag. And while a routine search involves a quick look through a container, this search was quite different: "[T]he agents created an identical image of Kim's entire computer hard drive and gave themselves unlimited time to search the tens of thousands of documents, images, and emails it contained, using an extensive list of search terms, and with the assistance of two forensic software programs that organized, expedited, and facilitated the task."

Fastest 4.5 Watt Core M 5Y71 In Asus T300 Chi Competitive With Full Core i5 CPUs 48

MojoKid writes: Asus unveiled its latest addition to the Transformer series at CES in January, the Transformer Book Chi, which just recently began shipping. Available in three sizes, the new Transformer Book Chi Series features a 2-in-1 detachable design. The flagship Transformer Book T300 Chi offers a 12.5-inch screen, an Intel Core M processor, and a fanless cooling solution. The 2-in-1 detachable design employs a magnetic hinge that supports four usage modes: Attached, Detached, Flipped, and Tented. The T300 Chi measures about 0.65 inches when docked, making it slightly thinner than an Apple Macbook Air. Asus claims the T300 Chi is the world's thinnest Windows tablet, measuring just 0.28 inches thick. More interestingly, perhaps, is that Asus built this machine with Intel's fastest Core M chip, the Core M 5Y71. In the benchmarks, it competes well even with full-sized ultrabooks, though battery life does take a hit due to the system's mechanical limitations and smaller 31Whr battery. At prices from $400 to $900, this might be an interesting choice for anyone considering the new Surface 3, too.

Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer 434

An anonymous reader writes: An editorial at Tom's Hardware makes the case that Google's Android fragmentation problem has gotten too big to ignore any longer. Android 5.0 Lollipop and its successor 5.1 have seen very low adoption rates — 9.0% and 0.7% respectively. Almost 40% of users are still on KitKat. 6% lag far behind on Gingerbread and Froyo. The article points out that even Microsoft is now making efforts to both streamline Windows upgrades and adapt Android (and iOS) apps to run on Windows.

If Google doesn't adapt, "it risks having users (slowly but surely) switch to more secure platforms that do give them updates in a timely manner. And if users want those platforms, OEMs will have no choice but to switch to them too, leaving Google with less and less Android adoption." The author also says OEMs and carriers can no longer be trusted to handle operating system updates, because they've proven themselves quite incapable of doing so in a reasonable manner.