back to article Third-gen Ultrabooks must offer USB 3.0, anti-theft tech

"Ultrabook", you'll recall, is an Intel trademark. If you want to use the name in association with your laptop, you need to follow the chip giant's rules. Those edicts have been extended for third-generation machines, which, Intel hopes, will spearhead the platform's entry into the mainstream. There are three new requirements a …

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Happy

Oh.....

Being responsive while active is harder to do. The vendor's best laid plans can be screwed because the user's running a resource-hogging app.

Well thats Windows f***ked then.

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Bloatware

To be fair to Dell, the last few "corporate" laptops I've bought through our agreement have come with nicely pared down installs, and minimal (if any, I'm not going to open the latest one just now to check) bloatware - I no longer have to wipe the disk and install a new operating system.

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Re: Bloatware

Yes Dell's are not too bad at the moment.

The worst in no order of preference are -

HP

Toshiba

Asus

Acer

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Anonymous Coward

Still don't see the point of them, full spec laptops with DVD drives are much better value.

But what clever marketing, less for more especially when a £200 netbook can do much the same. And tablets can fill the other gaps.

The only reason to buy, a fashion accessory, people who have to wear branded clothes and £300 sunglasses are probably the intended victims.

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Re: Bloatware

RE: Acer, I got through dealing with a couple of Vernitron M4618s, and surprisingly, during the initial setup, you could turn off a lot of the crapware.

So, pre-LOADED, yes

pre-INSTALLED, NO.

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Anti-theft tech?

If a thief wipes the hard disk and installs a pirate copy of Windows, is the anti-theft tech wiped too?

If I wipe the hard disk and install Linux, does the anti-theft tech activate?

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Re: Anti-theft tech?

Chip level ... so i would imagine simply swapping the hard drive or OS will not make any difference.

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Re: Anti-theft tech?

So basically it's a rootkit. Remind me never to to buy an Ultrabook™.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Anti-theft tech?

"So basically it's a rootkit" would be a worthy question.

I guess it comes down to who controls it, and if it has any back door 'features' to buy pass your control. I imagine a few in the middle east are wondering about this sort of thing just now...

Can anyone here enlighten us on how it works and the implications for the owner's security?

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"Chip level" is not an answer

Does "not make any difference" mean anti-theft activates when a thief or I swap the OS or hard disk, or does it mean anti-theft does not activate when a thief or I change the OS or hard disk? Is there some kind of naughty or nice detector that decides who has changed the OS or hard disk?

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Re: "Chip level" is not an answer

It probably will work like Lojack/Computrace which is already built into most laptops now a days - but supposedly not actually turned on until you set it up as so.

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Re: "Chip level" is not an answer

If it's the same chip as they had years ago, it's basically a lock-down chip; enter the wrong password for the BIOS too many times, and it literally breaks the laptop... and you can't un-break it without sending it in, along with a wad of cash and proof of ownership. "Expensive" versions of the chip include remote wipe/remote lock, built-in GPS tracking, phone-home capabilities - all from BIOS-level. Even if a thief pulled the hard drive, you could still remote-lock it if it was plugged in to a network. It's actually fairly impressive; overkill for a personal laptop, probably, but impressive nonetheless.

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Re: "Chip level" is not an answer

>overkill for a personal laptop, probably, but impressive nonetheless.

But pointless for anything other than a personal laptop.

If you care enough to have full disk encryption and your laptop is returned after being stolen - would you still use it?

Here you are Mr Official Visitor to China, your laptop was stolen but we the Chinese police have recovered it. Please take it back to your office in Washington and plug it into your network as normal.

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Wrong BIOS password - really scarey

Some kind person just enters "password" 5 times and my expensive new ultra-book is broken. I think I will just stick with computers that are so cheap that they are not worth nicking.

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Thumb Down

"It comes down to who controls it"?

Well, since it's pretty clear that it's not the USER who controls it, that makes it a rootkit in my book. From my point of view, it doesn't matter much whether that third party is a Russian hacker, Microsoft, a "Trusted Third Party", or the NSA -- if someone else controls your computer, it's untrustworthy.

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Re: Wrong BIOS password - really scarey

But surely if it looks it after you enter the wrong bios password why not just pull the bios battery to clear the password. Problem solved?

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FAIL

Beyond bloatware!

To quote the article "Being responsive while active is harder to do. The vendor's best laid plans can be screwed because the user's running a resource-hogging app. Since the manufacturer has no control over what the user does, we hope this is in fact Intel telling Sony, Dell, Toshiba and co. to cut out the bloatware. And about time too."

So, when is one of the manufacturers going to step away from Windows and release an Ultrabook with a decent LINUX distro (say Mint)

This way you'll get your compatibility, responsiveness, battery life and with a little luck, a resale price reduction.

Intel may be waving the Ultrabook yardstick but seriously, they're all much of a muchness, as in skinny, pretty but rather costly Windows 7 laptops.

That in itself will never entice me to buy one...

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Re: Beyond bloatware!

Linux has more than its share of bloatware. Manufacturers are probably going to install every package they can get their hands on. And battery life? Forget about it, I have yet to find a Linux system that wasnt running Postfix, apache and Postgre all the time because some random package requires them to work.

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"Anti-Theft Tech stops the laptop from running if it has been reported stolen."

So the Anti-Theft Tech is useful after you have reported the theft of your laptop. Vendors keeps using this term' Anti-Theft'. I do not think it means what they think it means.

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Headmaster

Agreed

I was thinking they where mandating a Kensington Security Slot.

That's slot that you put the lock-and-cable in that noone uses

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"So the Anti-Theft Tech is useful after you have reported the theft of your laptop"

It's useful *before* the theft too, provided that the thief knows it won't be any use to them once it's been stolen. Much the same as the security code you often have to enter into car radios if their power is interrupted - it doesn't stop the theft as such, it reduces the likelihood of theft in the first place.

Of course, this requires the your average burglar / mugger is up to date on current technology, and can tell the difference between a two-year old laptop and a shiny new Ultrabook, which might be asking a bit much..

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Responsive while active

"All 3rd generation Intel Core Ultrabook devices wake in a flash – going from a very deep sleep state (S4) to full use (keyboard interaction) in less than 7 seconds and wake from “sleep” mode even faster. Additionally, they must be responsive while active, meaning they will load and run favorite applications quickly."

I suspect that this means "SSD or hybrid storage". The coupling of these features in this paragraph suggests it.

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M7S
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I'm pleased to see anti-theft being specified

Perhaps it could be linked to a register such as the ones run at immobilise.com, or the ones the mobile phone companies use to block stolen imei numbers. If this encouraged mass consumer use and reduced opportunistic crime, the insurance industry might be sufficiently incentivised by any long term drop in opportunistic theft to recude the excess in the event of a claim on any item you can show had been correctly registered by you beforehand and reported stolen so that it was "useless" (technical issues notwithstanding), perhaps with an "I've been registered" sticker to warn the scallys.

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FAIL

Re: I'm pleased to see anti-theft being specified

You must be dreaming when you said:

".....the insurance industry might be sufficiently incentivised by any long term drop in opportunistic theft to recude the excess..."

because, if you were not, then I

1) have some swamp land in Florida I can sell you, or

2) may be able to make a deal on a "historic" bridge located in London, or perhaps one in New York City, or

3) believe that you fail to understand the insurance industry - you pay your premiums, and the insurance company denies the claim. It is that simple, nothing comes between an insurance company and any excuse to charge a higher premium. There is NO SUCH THING as a rate reduction. Stockholder profits and excutive bonuses come first.

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Anonymous Coward

Even money can't buy...

...Ultra-expensive Book sales. Intel's bribe money has been unable to secure even remotely reasonable sales of absurdly underpowered and over-priced bricks.

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