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These days it is not uncommon to see developers auctioning off exclusive dev units they received for free, but the action of a Steve Ballmer-signed Microsoft Surface is fortunately nothing like that. Emotion Touch is auctioning off an exclusive Steve Ballmer signed Microsoft Surface with all proceeds going to supporting a Christmas Party at the cancer ward Charité, Campus Virchow-Klinikum, Berlin, under the auspices of the Kinderleben Association for the Promotion of the Department of Children’s Cancer Association. The 32 GB Surface tablet was signed by Steve Ballmer at a Berlin developer event 3 weeks ago, and comes with free shipping and the original accessories, and also with a VAT invoice if companies want to bid. At the time of writing the auction is standing at 610 Euro with 9 bids and is closing on the 5th December. See the auction at eBay here and support a good cause while ...

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WAToday.com.au reports that early Windows 8 sales returns were below expectations in Australia. Australian IDC market analyst Amy Cheah, who has spoken to local retailers, vendors and channel partners as part of her work compiling sales numbers, said Windows 8 take-up was "not as strong as Microsoft would like it to be". "Actual sales to date is not matching the hype, but the momentum is picking up in November," she said. IDC has yet to release its latest quarterly numbers for Australia and New Zealand, but Cheah said it was already clear that Windows 8 was "a steep learning curve and the initial phase is going to be a bumpy one". Ben McIntosh, general manager of computers at Harvey Norman, said interest in Windows 8 in his stores was "very encouraging" but stock was "coming through a lot slower than I would like to see". He said he always expected ...

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The Financial Times reports that Microsoft is confident about launching their first European Microsoft Stores next year, with the company reportedly already speaking to property landlords in UK about the plans. Apparently plans are pending an internal review at the end of this year that will study how well the stores in the US have performed, and which formats have worked best. The stores would sell Microsoft-branded devices like the Surface tablet and possibly rumoured Surface phone, but also hardware  and accessories from their OEM partners like HTC and Nokia Windows Phones. With rumours of an Xbox TV in addition the number of products which could fill shelves makes the decision to have its own retail chain increasingly compelling. Read more at  FT here. ...

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Minecraft’s creator Notch took a pretty strong stand against Minecraft on Windows 8, but a bit like Valve’s Steam it seems where there is a will there is a way. At Minecon 2012 a version of Minecraft optimised for touch was shown off. The app still appears to be a Windows desktop app, but as long as Windows 8 users with x86 tablets will not need to pull up a mouse and keyboard it is still progress. Hopefully the Minecraft team, who Notch no longer is directly in charge of, will see sense and finally release a Windows Store app rather that stick to a bizarre ideological stance, which did not stop them from releasing Minecraft for the iOS App store for example. Via YouTube.com ...

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According to Bloomberg the FTC may not bring Google to trial for the most serious allegations of abuse of their dominant search position. The issue is apparently that the FTC is unsure that they have enough evidence to successfully prosecute Google for giving its own services top billing and pushing down the offerings of rivals. The FTC is also apparently  looking at whether the ranking system’s benefits to consumers outweigh any harm suffered by rivals including NexTag Inc. and Kayak Software Corp, an argument Eric Schmidt put forward to defend surfacing information without directing browsers to the source of the information. The FTC may still extract concessions from Google to resolve their concerns, but it seems main thrust of the investigation, which was threatened to break up Google, has been lost. The European Union has however not shown any indication to be flagging in their pursuit of Google. A final ...

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Valve are no great fans of Windows 8, going so far as to start a project to move their Steam gaming empire to Linux. It is therefore no surprise that they do not make any compromises for Windows 8, including allowing one to pin Steam  games to the Windows 8 Start screen. That’s where FeLiZk’s Pin Steam comes in.  The app allows one to select games from Stream’s service and pin either Double Wide (the default) or smaller tiles to the Start screen, and when the game is uninstalled will also remove the tile. This app requires you to have a Steam account and to have setup a Custom URL in your steam profile. It also requires Steam to be installed on your device to launch games. The app is $1.49 with a free trial and can be found in the Windows 8 Store here. Via Ghacks.net ...

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Regular readers will know we are quite concerned by the lack of support for 3G Dongles in the Microsoft Surface and by extension other Windows RT tablets. While 3G/WI-Fi dongles provide somewhat of a solution, it seems unnecessary to waste battery life on running two WIFI radios when communication could as easily happen via USB. The big issue with using existing 3G dongles is that they need drivers and management software installed, which makes all of the current crop incompatible. Now it seems, from a twitter conversation with O2 support, that O2 may be working on a Connection Manager for Windows RT, which would solve the problem and fulfil one of the major expandability promises of the Surface- the ability to overcome any issues by simply plugging in an accessory into the USB port. See the twitter conversation here. ...

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WindowsTabletTV have unboxed the Acer Iconia W700 which seems to be a pretty rewarding experience, seeing the huge amount of accessories that come bundled with the Windows 8 tablet. The Core i5 powered device with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB storage will currently set you back around around $788 on Amazon.com which includes a case, a stand and a Bluetooth keyboard, which is not a bad bundle. The tablet promises 9 hours battery life, but given it is a Core i5 device this seems rather unlikely.  We will look forward to the follow-up review for its real performance. Thanks Sam for the tip. ...

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The Microsoft Life Cycle Support page has revealed Microsoft intends to look after Surface RT buyers for a very long time into the future. The listing for Surface with Windows RT shows that mainstream support will continue until at least April 11, 2017. A separate post on Microsoft’s support website shows the various SKU builds of Windows 8 will have their mainstream support end on January 9, 2018, with extended support ending on January 10, 2023. Support in this case likely means the provision of service packs and patches, not necessarily new features, but it still sounds like a much better deal that Windows Phone users can expect, where even for Windows Phone 8 Microsoft is only promising updates for 18 months after release. Windows RT itself, when not ensconced in a Microsoft Surface, is still to have its sunset date revealed, but in a in an FAQ post, Microsoft ...

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We have ranted in the past about the absence of a compatible 3G dongle for the Microsoft Surface. Now a potential solution has popped up. At the time many said to simply use a MIFI-type WIFI hotspot, which does not really address the issues of bulk and having to keep two gadgets charged, not to mention being rather inelegant. The Huawei E355 Mobile Wi-Fi Smart 3G dongle however seems to solve those two issues pretty well. Much smaller than the average MIFI-type device due to not needing a battery, the dongle is USB powered while still providing the internet access over WIFI, meaning no software needs to be installed on the device (a sore point for a Windows RT). The dongle supports connection by up to 5 devices, supports HSDPA+ and  comes pre-loaded with settings for UK Pre and Post-paid networks, which can also be added to via their web-based ...

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MacWeekend posted this video which was meant to reflect the traffic of Microsoft Stores vs Apples Stores on Black Friday. They labelled the Microsoft shopped are merely shopping, while the Apple buyers were engaged in Worship. If is of note however that in terms of actual traffic rather than simply crowding (the Apple Store is much smaller than the more expansive Microsoft Store) 3 adults entered the Apple store while 2 entered the Microsoft store, so the discrepancy is not as great as it may appear from the video, and of course even now Microsoft is still working on establishing its stores as a destination, especially with the Microsoft Surface being exclusive to their stores. Do our readers think the Microsoft Stores will ever become destinations like the Apple Store? Let us know below. Via CNN.com ...

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A survey conducted by  StollzNow Research showed that PCs were still the number 1 way people accessed the internet. “It is a rapidly evolving space and people are still exploring the whole notion of mobile computing,” Neil Stollznow, director of the company said, but noted “what you have to bear in mind is this is taking place right now, and not in the future.” The survey found PCs were used more frequently than smartphones or tablets, with 94 per cent of online users using their PC daily. “If you have a tablet and a smartphone, you’re still using it very regularly,” Stollznow said. In contrast 69% of people used their smartphone daily to access the internet, and 58% used their tablet daily. “Smartphones and tablets used a little bit less frequently, but not that much.” Overall  almost everyone in Australia (98 per cent) uses a PC to access the Internet ...

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Windows XP extended supports ends in 500 days.  This means Microsoft will no longer provide patches and security fixes fort he venerable OS, and any companies using the OS will have to deal with any security holes themselves. According to NetMarketShare a massive 40% of internet users are still using Windows XP, which was released in October 2001, with Asia a stronghold for the OS, likely due piracy. It is unlikely these users will be upgrading any time soon. Close to 20% of internet users in North America are still on XP however, and are missing out on the productivity improvements of the more modern OS. Jack Schofield from ZDNet warns businesses who continue to use the now outdates OS open themselves to liability and accusations of neglect if they were hacked due to a hole in the unsupported OS.  Similar to driving a 15 year old polluting car with ...

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One of the things which makes the Microsoft Surface a real productivity machine is the presence and support of the full-sized USB port. ChannelMetro decided to put this to a test, and plugged a total of 8 USB devices into their Microsoft Surface. The list included a 7-Port USB Hub, to which was linked: 1 XBOX 360 USB controller 1 Nokia X3-02 Smartphone 1 Apple IPod 1 USB Flash Drive 2 GB 1 Mouse Logitech receiver 1 HP Multifunction printer 1 Hard Disk of 2 TB Capacity While the video is really little more than a tech demo, if does show the range and breadth of devices supported. Have any of our Surface-owning readers ever used this feature in anger? Let us know below. Via Softpedia.com ...

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WindowsWave.com have posted on an interest menu in Windows 8 which would not normally be noticed by most users. By right clicking in the lower left corner on the screen a menu of shortcuts to mainly power user features such as disk and computer management can be revealed. This menu was of course also in Windows 7, but has significantly expanded in the next version. If what you miss from the Windows 7 start menu is quick access to the control panel and Run, the good news is that it is right there for the clicking.  The menu can also be pulled up by pressing Windows X,  providing one with the option to press Windows+X, P to bring up the Control panel for example or Windows+X,E to bring up the file explorer. Would our readers find this nifty power-user feature helpful? Let us know below. ...

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Steve Ballmer spoke to a group of developers at Microsoft’s new collaboration space in Shoreditch, East London, to share his views on the opportunity for developers with the Windows platform across Windows 8 and Windows Phone. The event showcased some of the best examples of the Windows 8 design and user interface, including demonstrations of the Music Info app, the British Airways Inspiration app and others. The app store has now grown to more than 20,000 apps a month after the general release, with multiple developers having downloads of more than 100,000. While the adoption of Windows 8 appears to be slower than Windows 7, it still seems pretty clear by January there will be tens of millions Windows 8 PCs and tablets in the market for developers to exploit. Via Ubelly.com ...

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