About the author  ⁄ Suril Amin

Suril is a scientist, journalist and obsessive Microsoft observer. He holds an advanced degree in Biotechnology with minors in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. Send him tips on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/surilamin

The world’s first 4K tablet will begin shipping in the US shortly. At CES 2014, Panasonic announced the Toughpad 4K Tablet lineup called the “Toughpad 4K performance model”. This upgraded version of the Toughpad 4K Tablet will be available in Spring 2014. Panasonic had both the standard and performance models of the Toughpad 4K Tablet on display at CES this year. The Toughpad 4K Tablet performance model has a few key differences compared to the standard model: Intel Core i7 CPU (Standard has Core i5) NVIDIA Quadro K1000 GPU (Standard has NVIDIA GeForce GT745M) Increased internal battery volume An added 5 MP rear camera Upgraded ports including full-size Ethernet and mini-DisplayPort out Full specs: HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE Microsoft® Windows 8.1 Pro, Intel® Core™ i5-3437U GHz vPro™ Processor – 1.9GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz, NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M, 2GB dedicated VRAM, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, HD 720p webcam with ...

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PCs have long been known for their great value.  This is part of the reason Microsoft was so successful.  Affordable PCs were produced at high scale and sold at a high volume allowed Microsoft to gain a large amount of marketshare in the early days of the PC industry.  Of course in an effort to make more money on low margins, build quality on PCs suffered along with a ruined experience with the introduction of crapware.  There was practically no innovation from the OEMs after laptops became mainstream.   The higher end of the PC market typically appealed to gamers.  The two leaders in that market , Alienware and VooDoo were bought by Dell and HP, respectively. Historically Apple maintained a nice niche on the high end of the market pushing well designed hardware.   The success of the ipod and then iphone are of course well known to our readers ...

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Screenshots leaked by the well known Wzor show our first glimpse of Windows 8.1 Update 1 that is expected to be released at the Build conference in early April.  Nothing new in the screenshots really other than a slightly updated IE11.  We may get more leaks after Microsoft distributes new builds more widely internally. This is our first glimpse into Terry Myerson’s vision for Windows 8.x. Source: Wzor   ...

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Film site “One View With A Room” has a nice series on best films never made.  Among them was the Halo movie which would have been co-produced by Peter Jackson, of Lord of the Rings/Hobbit fame, and directed by Neill Blomkmap best known for District 9.  The script was written by Alex Garland most recently known for the highly successful Dredd 3D film.   What ultimately killed the project was Microsoft’s inexperience in the movie business coupled with a greedy and controlling movie studios Fox and Universal.  Here is an excerpt: In amongst the dusty annals of the best films never made, one blockbuster lies atop the pile. Widely known and anticipated for the last 8 years, the ultimate videogame film/adaptation, and the one film that could never make the final jump to our cinema screens: Halo. So what if one of the biggest videogame franchise had made it to the big screen? ...

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Most consumers are familiar with “2-in-1″ PCs, which can either be a tablet or laptop.  But Toshiba has stepped it up a notch and unveiled a 5-in-1 PC concept.  Toshiba calls it a “shape-shifting” PC and it has three parts, a screen, keyboard and kickstand.  The kickstand contains the motherboard and the three parts can be arranged for different usage scenarios. As expected the PC take the form of a traditional laptop.  It can also take the form of a tablet, one with the keyboard detached and one with it folded back.  Two other modes include a “Presentation/TV” mode that involves using the kickstand, and a “Canvas” mode that lets the user flip the attached keyboard 270 degrees, making the device better for drafting with a stylus. As this is just a concept, there is no word on pricing or availability.  Other PC makers also are promoting convertible devices. At CES, ...

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Today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Sony announced they had sold a record 4.2 Million PS4 consoles.  The data was from launch, November 15, 2013 to December 31, 2013.  Sony choose a staggered launch and the PS4 was available in 53 countries by the end of the year.  Reports from analysts predicted Sony would sell 5 million units by Spring 2014 and they seem on pace to do this. “The momentum of the PS4 system keeps getting stronger and we couldn’t be more thrilled gamers worldwide are enjoying the incredibly immersive gaming experiences along with deep social capabilities and entertainment provided by our network,” said Andrew House, President and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “After a remarkable launch, we look forward to bringing even more exciting content and continuing to explore the power of the PS4 system by adding new features and services, including PlayStation Now, in ...

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We reported some time back that Microsoft was more interested in having Alan Mulally on the board rather than its next CEO.  Mulally was primarily being pushed by investors to become Microsoft’s next CEO as they believed he would sell off many parts of the company.  Alan Mulally has officially confirmed what the world suspected. He’s not leaving Ford to become Microsoft’s next CEO.  He has promised to stay on with Ford until at least 2014, reports the AP.  The odds that he planned to leave Ford for Microsoft got pretty slim last month, when a Ford board member said, “Alan is staying through the end of 2014 and that’s all I know.”  At that time, Mulally said, “I love serving Ford … I have no change to the plan.”  Not everyone believed that he would say no to Microsoft if asked. But now that he has confirmed that he ...

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We have not seen too many former colleagues publicly speak out about Jon DeVaan or George Grant outside of Steven Sinofsky.  But as it turns out Hal Berenson has worked with both DeVaan and George Grant.  Of course here at MSNews we are fans of Hal’s who writes a great blog entitled Hal2020. For those not familiar with Mr. Berenson, he is a former Microsoft distinguished engineer and worked at the company from 1994 – 2002 and spent decades at the Digital Equipment Corporation before that.  Due to his experiences Hal often provides a unique perspective and earlier today he shared his thoughts on DeVaan and Grant. Hal on Job DeVaan: I interacted with Jon a little in his time in Online Services and then we worked together extensively (on Quests) when he was running the Core OS group during Windows 7.  Steven Sinofsky got the public credit for how good ...

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A group that calls itself the Syrian Electronic Army has gained access to the Skype social media accounts and is posting messages asking Skype to “stop spying on people.”  The Skype twitter account has over 3 million followers.  The group has also compromised the Skype blog.   Microsoft is aware of the situation and is working to resolve it. h/t @ProfJeffJarvis ...

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As we look at 2014, Dell is now the only major OEM that is a privately owned company.  Dell was a publically traded company for 25 years, its IPO was in 1988, a mere two years after Microsoft’s own IPO.   The $24.4 billion buyout orchestrated by Michael Dell is the largest leveraged buyout backed by private equity since the 2007 financial crisis. It is also the largest technology buyout ever.  Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners put together most of the money with the addition of a $2 billion loan from Microsoft. The “new” private company has released an ad emphasizing its own startup roots: The ad also featured a number of companies that are important customers of Dell’s or Dell Ventures invested in including Amerijet, Gilt.com, The Knot, Overstock.com, Salesforce.com, Shazam, Shutterfly, TripAdvisor, and Zoosk.  It is quite common for large corporations to invest in small start-up and we have ...

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The Tower Game Starter Kit is a simple, open-source (MIT licensed) javascript game engine designed specifically to help you skip “square one” on your way to creating a great Tower Assault or Defense game. Included in the github source repository are project files for Windows 8 Store apps that run on win8 tablets, desktop, and windows RT devices, as well as a project that compiles to Windows Phone 8. In addition, the game runs great on all modern desktop web browsers. Features include: silky-smooth 60fps on most platforms levels that are larger than the screen spritesheet animation of in-game characters touch-screen and mouse controls music and sound effects particle effects and eye-candy a full game complete with a beginning, middle and end little extras like a low-level C++ sound engine for wp8 lots of debug log and benchmarking functionality a-star pathfinding for A.I. movement entities have health (with visible health ...

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We reported on Project Siena a few days back.  It is a Metro app that allows you to create Metro apps with a minimal amount of coding.  The app is currently in beta and does allow project to be submitted to the Windows Store, however there is a workaround.  Note, this is an interim method that leverages the Store wizards in Visual Studio Express, you will not need to do any programming, but there will likely be an easier way to do this down the line. Prerequisites Register for a Developer Account: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/jj193592.aspx. Have “Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8” installed. Free download from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30664. (Not Express 2013). Produce the app Create your app in Project Siena and publish it (File | Publish) to a destination on your machine. This produces a folder called PublishedPackage. Double click on InstallApp.exe within this folder and choose “Install on this PC” – if prompted, sign in ...

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One demographic Bing has been lacking in is getting more women to use its service.  The company is trying to change and has put together a new ad about ‘heroic women’ and their contributions in 2013.  The ad is airing on tv in many markets over new years eve. The ad features the Sara Bareilles’ song “Brave” seen in many Windows marketing “honestly” campaigns.  Now we have seen feminists get angry when Microsoft makes Xbox ads that appeal to men.  However, as a man I am in no way offended by this ad that appeals to women and hope to see the company do more in the future. The ad features a number of women including: Malala Yousafzai Who stood up to educate us all. After surviving an assassination attempt, she arose stronger than ever.  In 2013 she addressed the UN, was named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People” and, at ...

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Another day, another Sinofsky lieutenant leaving the Redmond software giant.  As with Jon DeVaan, it’s not a surprise that George Grant is leaving as Terry Myerson forced him out and replaced him with Mike Fortin.  Sinofsky and Grant go way back to the Office days in 1994.  For those unfamiliar with Grant, a brief bio: Grant George was the Corporate Vice President of Testing and Operations – Windows Experience Group, in the Platforms & Services Division. The Windows Experience Group is an integrated system of programs, services and solutions that largely make up the Windows Client experience – designed to work together to address a broad array of customer problems and needs. George is directly responsible test teams and test engineering as well as internal engineering operations in the Windows Experience Group. George has additional responsibility to drive engineering standards and methods with other leader-partners across the broader Windows teams ...

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Robert W. Wilson, the hedge fund founder who committed suicide at age 87 over the weekend, was known as one of the most active philanthropists in the country. But his style of giving was radically opposed to that of Bill Gates, who asked Wilson to join his Giving Pledge for the ultra-rich — and was rebuffed in a series of caustic emails. In emails from 2010 the hedge fund manager tells Gates that the pledge is essentially “worthless” and that he wants to “stay far away” from his effort. —— Original Message ——- From: Bill Gates To: Robert W. Wilson Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 1:03 PM Subject: Giving Pledge discussion Robert, I’m writing to let you know about an idea we’re calling the “Giving Pledge” that came out of a number of conversations that Melinda and Warren and I have had with a number of people over the past ...

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Close observers of Microsoft saw Jon DeVaan’s exit from Redmond software giant as no surprise.  In late September we reported Terry Myerson forced him out of his position as head of CSOD (Windows Core Operating System Division): Myerson has removed some of Sinofsky’s other lieutenants from power including Grant George, Antoine Leblond and Jon DeVaan. (see: Terry Myerson Flexes His Muscle, Removes Sinofsky’s Lieutenants From Power) Devaan was a mentor to Steven Sinofsky and many other high profile employees at Microsoft.  DeVaan had been with the company since 1984 and became a multi-millionaire after the Microsoft’s IPO in 1986.  Many of the standard engineering practices within Microsoft were created by DeVaan after he was charged with the task by Bill Gates himself.  See our post from yesterday: Veteran Microsoft Engineering Leader Jon DeVaan Leaving The Company After 30 Years Just as an aside, for our readers in Seattle, you may recall Jon’s wife, ...

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