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In what is either masterful spin or material information which suggests the Surface tablets are selling much better than expected, Microsoft has said it has increased their Surface tablet production and will be expanding the retail locations the tablet will be available. “The public reaction to Surface has been exciting to see. We’ve increased production and are expanding the ways in which customers can interact with, experience and purchase Surface,” said Panos Panay, general manager, Microsoft Surface. Microsoft said it would make some of their pop-up stores permanent, and would make the tablets available via retailers in Australia and USA. Additional availability will be added in a number of countries in the coming months. “Our plan has been to expand the retail presence for Surface after the first of the year. Based on interest from retailers, we are giving them the option to carry Surface with Windows RT even earlier,” ...

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The first 7 GB of SkyDrive storage is free, but users can buy as much as 100 GB of storage. Now Apple is insisting that Apple should get a cut of any SkyDrive purchases made via their devices, be it via the official SkyDrive app, or via integration with 3rd party apps. That cut is 30%, and the policy is consistent with the same one which Dropbox suffered from, which in the end forced them to remove any way for an iOS user to purchase additional storage. According to TNW Microsoft’s biggest issue with paying Apple’s 30% cut is that it would continue for the length of the subscription, which could easily be several years, and would last even beyond the user graduating from Apple’s products. As it is Microsoft and Apple are at an impasse, and Microsoft is unable to update their iOS SkyDrive app, and 3rd party devs ...

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While Microsoft has been extremely cagey about their Office products coming to Apple mobile devices, the software has been widely leaked about, and now for the first time references have shown up directly on Microsoft’s website. Spotted by Mac4Ever on a Microsoft Office support page the page makes clear references to Office Mobile for the iPhone, Excel for iPad, Lync for iPhone and PowerPoint for iPad. It has previously been leaked that the software will be available as free viewers, and will have edit functions available once users subscribe to Office 365, making sure once again Microsoft Office will be available on whichever device a user owns. The software is expected in Q1 2013. Via Neowin.net. ...

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Smarthouse.com.au reports that Australian retailers will soon start selling the Microsoft Surface, with JB Hi Fi confident that they will have stock in store before Christmas. Harvey Norman is also expected to carry the Windows RT tablet. Scott Browning, the Marketing Director of JB Hi Fi, said "We have been talking to Microsoft for some time about selling their Surface tablet. It’s now a question of stock levels and whether we can get the device into stores prior to Christmas." Browning said "This is a product that needs to be exposed to a consumer; they need to touch and feel it and only retail stores can do this. Online is a commodity sell and if a consumer does not know the product or has not seen it in store it is always going to be harder to sell online". Smarthouse reports OEMs are not too happy with the move. One ...

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Here is an app for those who absolutely hate Metro in Windows 8, but are forced to use it. The select group of course includes those who want to develop for Windows Phone 8, which needs the Hyper-V feature to run the emulator. Ex7forW8 is a wrapper for the Windows 7 explorer, which means the Metro start screen is completely abolished and not even loaded which means absolutely no RAM or cycles are wasted. New Windows Explorer features like ribbon and file copying are however preserved. The hack can be used on Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 RTM or RP versions, really any Windows 8 version. This program does not modify system files and system protected registry entries and you can switch back to unaltered Windows 8 UI any time. Windows 7 shell is enabled only to users which switched to it and other users can use Windows 8 ...

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SAAlecComputing have posted this brief overview of the Plex Media Center app for Windows 8 Metro. With Plex, you can stream your music, videos and photos from your home computers running Plex Media Server and access content from a wide range of channels. Channels are available for iTunes, and for online services like YouTube, Vimeo and Revision3. Additionally, you can sign up for the myPlex service, which lets you connect to servers shared with you by your friends, queue videos from your web browser to watch later, and connect to your Plex Media Server at home wherever you are in the world via Wi-Fi or a cellular connection, with no configuration necessary. Plex Media Server streams your media directly from your computer, so there’s no need to manually convert before viewing. Plex is smart, too: if your media isn’t already in a format your device can play, it’ll convert it ...

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If you are hoping for a new Windows Phone or a Surface tablet this Christmas, you probably want to keep an eye on Santa’s progress on the most important day. The official NORAD app will help you countdown to December 24th and enable you to watch Santa traverse the globe in real time on Christmas Eve as he distributes gifts to all the world’s children! The app also features: Learn more about NORAD and how and why we track Santa Watch videos from all of our Commands Links to Windows Store games Find the app in the Windows 8 store here. Thanks Christopher for the tip. ...

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Gottabemobile have posted a review of the Dell XPS 12 hybrid Windows 8 laptop. The Windows 8 Core i5 laptop (also available in Core i7)  has a 12.5 inch Gorilla Glass  display and an aluminium and carbon fibre construction. The capacitive touchscreen was felt to be  responsive with good viewing angles, but it is very reflective. It features an excellent backlit keyboard and was noted to have a somewhat high price at $1.199 and only moderate battery life as negatives. The hinges were felt to be sturdy and the touch screen remains in place while in notebook mode, even when tapping on the top section of the screen. The laptop has  two USB 3.0 ports, a DisplayPort connection and a headphone/microphone jack. Unfortunately, there’s no SD card slot, which means users will have to bring their own adapters or USB cables to move photos over from their cameras. The screen ...

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VideoLan is looking to raise £40,000 to port their popular VLC Media Player to Windows 8 Metro. The money is to help deliver a polished product that will work both on Windows 8 and the ARM-based Windows RT. As expected the team are aiming for wide codec support, DVD playback where applicable and the ability to play network streams. Ultimately all the code will be made open-source if possible. The kickstarter has already raised £12,588, and has 21 days to run. Contributors will have their name listed somewhere in the app. Read more at the KickStarter page here. Thanks Kristian for the tip. ...

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British Airways have always been one of the first to support new Microsoft platforms, so it is no surprise to see them deliver a Windows 8 app also. The British Airways Inspiration App is meant to inspire travel to great destinations, be it skiing in March or a beach destination in November.  The app will even deliver the cheapest fares from London, based on your preferences and tell you what to do when you get there. Find the app in the Windows 8 Store here. Via Neowin.net ...

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The Verge, who had earlier leaked some details about the next update to Windows 8 called "Blue” has now added some further information. In a meandering article which suggests Microsoft drop the Windows brand Tom Warren notes: "Windows Blue" (is)  an upgrade designed to improve compatibility with 7-inch and 8-inch devices The news suggests Microsoft is not planning to leave the small tablet market, dominated by cheap Android tablets, uncontested, and may finally bring lower prices for Windows 8 tablets. Would our readers pick up a small tablet, or do you think it compromises productivity too much? Let us know below. ...

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Dropbox has announced at LeWeb 2012 in Paris that the company has released a Modern UI Dropbox app for certification in the Windows 8 Store. The app will become available as soon as it passes certification, and will support access to files, photos and media files stored in the cloud from the desktop but also on Windows RT devices like the Surface. At the event, Aditya Agarwal, Vice President of Engineering at Dropbox, reconfirmed the company’s desire to develop apps for the major desktop and mobile operating systems and allow users to store and access their files from most modern devices. Dropbox has more than 100 million registered users, making it one of the major services to adopt the new OS environment. Via TNW and Windows8beta ...

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No-one except Microsoft really knows how well the Surface is selling, but speculation is rife. Detwiler Fenton, a Boston-based brokerage firm, said in a research note today that Microsoft is likely to sell just 500,000 to 600,000 Surface RTs in the December quarter. The analyst, a bit like Steve Ballmer, blamed it on poor distribution of the tablet. “Lack of distribution is killing the product,” Detwiler Fenton explained. “Mixed reviews and a [$499] starting price tag certainly don’t help, but lack of retail exposure at Best Buy and others is severely depressing sales.” Potential buyers are not able to get a hands-on with the device themselves, which can be a deal breaker with a new product like the Microsoft Surface. Currently, there are just 31 Microsoft stores and 34 smaller holiday kiosks in the U.S. Given that paucity of stores, the average consumer’s is pretty likely to see the device ...

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Microsoft has released the NPD figures for Xbox 360 sales this past November in USA, and once again the Xbox 360 ruled the roost as the most popular console, selling 1.26 million devices. Major Nelson reports: Xbox 360 sold 1.26 million units in November, maintaining the number-one console spot in the U.S. for the 23rd consecutive month. Total retail spend on the Xbox 360 platform in November (hardware, software and accessories) reached $1.2 billion, the most for any console in the U.S. During the month of November, Xbox 360 held four of the top 10 console game titles including: “Halo 4,” “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2,” “Assassin’s Creed 3,” and “NFL Madden 13.” While the headline numbers are very good, it is of note that Xbox 360 sales are still 25% down from last year, when 1.7 million Xbox 360s were sold, clearly indicating that this generation, which the ...

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Microsoft has continued its offensive on Google Shopping over the Christmas season. The charge centres around Google Shopping being based solely around paid placements, while Bing is based on natural search, meaning consumers can never be clear if there are not cheaper deals available which were simply not included because they did not pay the Google tax. While the Google-friendly anti-Microsoft media have laughed off the accusation, I certainly did not know before that Google Shopping was paid ads, and would trust it a lot less than before, suggesting to me that this is an important piece of information to pass on. Via Neowin.net ...

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AllThingsDigital reports that  Facebook is in negotiations with Microsoft about acquiring advertising technology that could allow Facebook to displays ads on other websites, much like Google does now. The product in question is called Atlas Solutions, acquired by Microsoft as part of their $6 billion acquisition of aQuantive in 2007. The sale is expected to net Microsoft only a few tens of millions of dollars, and is more significant for what it represents – Facebook, the internet’s biggest destination, taking on Google head to head in what is their only cash cow. The clash of the titans will focus Google’s mind on what’s really important, and distract them from their side businesses which have been subsidized by the river of cash generated by AdSense. Facebook and Microsoft representatives declined to comment. Via Dailynews.com ...

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