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* Posts by ThomH

1747 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Android's on top – will Nokia and RIM let it in?

ThomH
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@Mark

On an iPhone I copy and paste by (i) selecting the text; (ii) selecting 'copy' on the little sign board that pops up; (iii) putting the cursor somewhere else; and (iv) selecting 'paste'.

I multitask by (i) launching an application; (ii) going back to the home screen; (iii) launching another application.

For the record, I do pretty much identical things on my Nexus One. If you have no trouble doing basic things on a Nokia 5800 but can't figure those out, I guess you're used to looking for complexity that isn't there?

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ThomH
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I'm not sure that's where they need to be going

To my mind, Nokia engineers great operating systems with barely usable interfaces. If you look at the abstract numbers, Nokia seem to be able to get a lot more battery life out of ostensibly comparable devices at a cheaper price point. Their problems on the software side are that the user interface is awful.

Testing an N8 versus an iPhone versus a Nexus One: I'm in the browser, I want to go to a different web page.

On the iPhone I scroll to the top of the page (by tapping the status bar), tap the address bar, the keyboard comes up, I type the new address and press 'Go', which is right there on the keyboard. The Nexus One is very similar. Scroll to the top (albeit without a single tap shortcut, but that's because Android has other functionality permanently attached to the status bar, so no overall conclusion to be drawn here), tap in the address bar, enter something via QWERTY, press 'Go'. Total: two taps, some typing, one tap.

On the N8: tap the little arrow in the bottom right. I'm presented with a five button menu, of which three are not particularly obvious graphics without text. Having used it before I know to tap the world icon in the middle, which brings up a combined URL or search term menu. I then tap the URL line. That brings up an entirely different screen because all text box entry is done on a separate screen. I have to enter in T9. Tick that to go back. Tap 'Go to' to load the URL. Total: three taps, some T9 entry on a completely separate screen, two more taps. With lots of menus on which to get lost in between, and the extra delay of having to type in T9.

And the entire software stack is like this. It's a labyrinthine nightmare of menus upon menus upon menus with everything you want to do always requiring quite a lot more effort than on other phones and even then being achievable only if you've bothered to experiment with and memorise the system in advance.

Any strategy in which Nokia holds itself forward as being even slightly competent with UI design is a very bad idea. They're better off sticking with the Series 40 for emerging markets, adopting Android with the normal user interface and ensuring there's an official port of QT to the platform. They can revive themselves with hardware (there's a market for 12mp phones with Carl Zeiss lenses) and unique applications (Ovi Maps in particular). I think there's a route by pushing QT on Android to become the default glue for people that want to port C/C++ stuff, but it's probably more risky.

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ThomH
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I think you severely overestimate the importance of Flash

"Look, we've got Flash" is what manufacturers say to score points with tech bloggers.

"Look, we've got a good browser on a big screen, available for free on a contract and for not all that much on pay as you go" is what manufacturers say to win consumers.

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First fondleslab found in 1970s kids TV sci-fi gem

ThomH
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Telepathic teens?

Did the three-day week lead to rationing of birthdays? That guy looks about 30.

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Motorola Super Bowl ad rips Apple drones

ThomH
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No, it's like a regular owl

But somewhat superb.

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Google man: 'Honeycomb' only for fondleslabs (so far)

ThomH
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Apple have done a broadly similar thing

The main difference is that we're almost a year down the line. So we temporarily had iOS 3.2 for the iPad only, with a bunch of new features that are useful on both types of device, then we had iOS 4.0 for handsets only which jumped 3.2 to a bunch of other useful features, then only at 4.2 did everything come back together. I'm sure they'll do the same thing with Android; fork the code base during the development and launch of new types of product, then a merge further down the line.

There's a risk of fragmentation, of course, but we're still in a much better position than we were trying to support J2ME across the breadth of available handsets, and the available handsets are a lot better.

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Murdoch & Co unveil iPad news rag The Daily

ThomH
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I think they're hoping that...

... just like people buy into Sky, HBO, etc despite free television being available, they can build up sufficient brand prestige that some people will sign up for a subscription, allowing them to pay proper reporters and/or famous name pundits to maintain the brand. They would argue that one of the problems with other iPad content is that Apple didn't have a subscription model before, meaning that users have to invest effort every time they want to buy an issue (analogous to going to the newsagent) rather than having to invest effort if they want to stop receiving issues (as with the sort of magazine subscription they want to sell).

Given that it's a US publication, although not a Fox spin off so I'm using these names just as examples, I can imagine they'd recoup if they carried exclusive content by Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Glenn Beck, etc. Vanity disclaimer: I don't actually like any of those people.

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Samsung Android tablet sales smaller than thought

ThomH
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But how do those mobile operators count?

I've seen this story in a few places, and all of them seem to be a bit vague (as a result of the executive's inexact comment, no doubt) as to whether a tablet delivered to and subsidised (possibly up to 100%) by a mobile operator but put into the hands of a consumer counts as a sale to a consumer for the purposes of this story.

I would expect devices that can be supplied cheaply through operators to gain significant traction, even if they weren't available at all for direct consumer sales, just like the overwhelming majority of mobile phones.

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Google to Microsoft: You're stealing our search results!

ThomH
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@ElReg!comments!Pierre

It's not just according to Google — they acquired Android (the company, working on the OS) in 2005. That would seem to establish that work was in progress before the iPhone came out.

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ThomH
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@Greg J Preece

Apple have paid for all the technology they've acquired but do we really have to drag them into it? They don't even run a search engine.

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Apple clips publishers' wings

ThomH
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@hitmouse

It's nothing like the "two wrongs make a right" argument. That would be to argue that Apple's behaviour is excusable because of an earlier unethical act perpetrated against it. This is the argument that requiring perfect ethics would preclude you from buying absolutely any of the available devices, so an unethical act is not in itself sufficient.

You seem to have managed to post something to the Internet, so you're almost certainly using a component from an unethical company, whether it's Intel (anti-competitive practices to crush AMD), Google (Wifi sniffing), Microsoft (anti-competitive practices to crush just about everybody), Apple (anti-competitive practices to ensure revenue capture) or somebody else.

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ThomH
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Maybe not calling them iFans would help?

You know, per the general rule that insulting people tends not to work very well when you're attempting to talk them around to a differing point of view.

I also think you'll want to argue that what Apple are doing is so disproportionately unethical as to be a sufficient reason to avoid the company's products. All of the competing vendors are also doing at least one unethical thing, so there's an on balance argument to be made.

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Enterprise fanbois yawn at death of Apple Xserve

ThomH
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Per the last earnings report...

... Mac shipments during the fourth quarter of 2010 were up 23% over the year before, setting a new record (though they've been doing that every year for a while — since 1984 the market has grown a lot more than the Mac's relative share has dropped, though the Mac continues to grow a lot faster than the market).

I was unable to find a detailed profit breakdown, but of iPads, iPhones, Macs and iPods, the breakdown by units sold during that quarter was:

8.8% Macs (up 23% year on year)

15.5% iPads (available for less than a year)

34.4% iPhones (up 85% year on year)

41.3% iPods (down 7% year on year)

Macs are still a non-negligible contributor, probably to a greater extend than those percentages suggest given that they're likely to be higher profit items than iPods or iPhones.

I'll wager that Xserves constituted maybe 0.001% of units shipped.

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Memo to Microsoft, RIM, Nokia: Quit copying Apple!

ThomH
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@AC

You have a funny definition of stealing.

Apple gave Xerox stock in return for IP. That's called a business transaction.

Touch screen technology? Nobody has ever claimed this to be an Apple invention, it's a straw man. You appear to be arguing that any company that uses any single component that isn't entirely new deserves no credit for anything.

Multitouch technology? Apple paid for FingerWorks in 2005 to acquire the technology. That's called a business transaction.

You seem to believe that if someone receives something and pays for it, then that's theft?

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ThomH
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Overreaching, I think

Take iOS as the example. It introduced the direct manipulation metaphor to the mass market. To 99.99% of people that met one, it was a new idea. They acquired most of the relevant IP by acquiring FingerWorks, but in order to commercialise it to the extent that they felt it could be. What they didn't do was look at what was already number one in the market and copy that. They've actually never done that.

There's a distinction between being able to spot and develop good ideas before they hit the prime time and running after the market leaders.

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In defence of Comic Sans

ThomH
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So... a symptom, not a cause

Banning Comic Sans somehow to solve all the world's signage and document composition problems is surely akin to banning PowerPoint and expecting everybody suddenly to be really good at public speaking?

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Yuppie cellphone-style iPhone case comes to Blighty

ThomH
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It's market share

In four years, there have been only three shapes of iPhone, all of them very similar and with exactly the same size of screen. That makes the form factor extremely compared to the market for all other phones. Nobody else keeps their handsets in as similar a form and nobody else sells so many of a single handset (albeit if only because the main competitor is characterised by choice).

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CodeWeavers pours Wine for the masses

ThomH
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Lost me at

"Obviously, in the Linux crowd, we still have plenty of geeks out there, but we do have to recognize that certainly in the Mac marketplace there are a lot of people that need that ease of use."

Ease of use isn't about being patronising towards one group or another, it's about designing something properly. If you think it's acceptable to make interfaces more complicated than they need to be just because you have a technical audience then you've failed to grasp even the most basic concepts of human computer interaction.

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PSP 2 'as powerful as PS3'

ThomH
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Nah, the hardware's completely different

It's ARM + PowerVR, whereas the PS3 is Cell + RSX. I think they're just arguing that the graphics are similar to those of a PS3 (at a much lower resolution, one assumes, and therefore a lower processing cost — and getting a 1080p screen onto a PSP-sized mass consumer device just isn't going to happen very soon). So, no doubt, porting incurs costs and gives an opportunity for Sony to charge consumers that want both copies for (i) the additional costs of porting; and (ii) the content, a second time.

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Passenger cleared after TSA checkpoint stare-down

ThomH
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@No No No......

There's an exception to this; per the relevant Occupiers' Liability Act, signs on private property that direct you as to the required behaviour in order to be safe absolve the owner of liability if a person ignores the signs and is injured as a result. Though they have to give you actual, workable instructions (like "keep all limbs within the vehicle") rather than just warning you about a danger (like "bridge unsafe" without a safe bridge or other crossing being available).

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iPad propels Apple into top-three PC vendor placement

ThomH
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@Eponymous Cowherd

The dictionary agrees that a PC is a general purpose computing device, but I don't think walled garden versus free for all is relevant to the device classification, no matter how relevant it is to potential customers. The iPad has a microprocessor and an interface that is suitable for a variety of tasks and in practise can be used for such tasks as browsing, emailing, word processing, games, spreadsheets and others. It's therefore general purpose in that sense.

Personally, where the things that the majority of people use them for are the same, I'd use sales channels to differentiate products for the purposes of market reporting. So the Galaxy Tab, the iPad, etc, get bundled with things that are uncontroversially PCs since generally you walk into a shop and buy one.

Phones don't because generally you buy a phone contract and get the phone as a bonus. You may specifically pick the phone and pay a premium for it, but the main commercial transaction is the acquisition of the phone contract.

I don't go with the Canalys attempt to define a pad as something with at least a seven inch screen and then to try to get pads into the category of PCs.

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CoD: Black Ops 'not fit for purpose', fans claim

ThomH
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Courts decide

And since the Sale of Goods Act works to imply terms into the contract of sale you implicitly make when you purchase something, this is civil law and the balance of probabilities is the relevant standard of proof. If they push it all the way, a court will decide.

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Reg Hardware Reader Awards 2010 Winners

ThomH
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Cue the gnashing of teeth

Quite a few products on that list seem to be contrary to the extremely fair and balanced opinions usually put forward by the posters of comments to your website. I expect a lot of very well reasoned comments to flow as a result.

My main reaction: I can't believe Angry Birds is only just more than a year old. Was there a time before Angry Birds?

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Apple tightens screws on hardware hackers

ThomH
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I agree entirely

I guess Apple are concerned that botched adjustments by less ethical people may lead to greater support costs at their end. Though, like you, I don't really see that they're likely to see any real improvements from this change.

First person to make a workable pun about Apple screwing things up wins a prize.

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Apple without Jobs: Who's next?

ThomH
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@AC

According to Dr. James D. Eason, programme director of the hospital that treated him, Jobs "received a liver transplant because he was the patient with the highest MELD score (model for end-stage liver disease) of his blood type and, therefore, the sickest patient on the waiting list at the time a donor organ became available". Or is this one of those theories where people connected to the events agreeing would prove it and people connected to the events disagreeing also proves it?

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Apple's Jobs stand-in touts iPad's enterprise reach

ThomH
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@AC

JaitcH always funds a way to say something negative about an Apple story. I doubt the downvote is to do with just this one comment. I don't necessarily agree with it, but it's reasoned and appears to make no particular effort to be inflammatory, so I can't see a problem with it either.

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ThomH
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@AC

Anon because you didn't think to give him Numbers and a Bluetooth keyboard, so he could not just view but also edit and otherwise work with Excel spreadsheets?

Then the evaluation could have proceeded to "you forgot to give me a mouse".

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Apple posts dev-only iOS 4.3

ThomH
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@AC

Idioms don't have to make sense on their own terms. That's why you rarely get "How so?" as a response when describing something as being swings and roundabouts. There's a distinction in that most idioms did make sense in the first place, but most people don't inspect the actual words if they know the meaning. I figured it was worth pointing out for "could care less" because people outside the US don't automatically associate a meaning to that.

And it turns out it was a typo anyway. Ho hum.

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ThomH
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Ah, an American in the house

*cough* "could care less" isn't idiomatic outside of the US... *cough*

Regardless of what the article says, I don't think AirPlay is usable for moving any old output around. My understanding is that bandwidth concerns limit it to compressed video. Since the iOS devices don't really have the stuff to perform video compression as well as whatever else they were already doing, that limits it to video that has already been compressed — i.e. anything you'd currently stream over the internet or add yourself via iTunes.

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Android passes iPhone in mobile ad race

ThomH
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@jbk

I think the iPhone screen is above the Android average. Possibly you've underestimated the penetration of Android into the low end of the market, skewing the results away from the flagship Droids, Desires and other really decent handsets? Android is about choice and not everybody prioritises screen size.

Anyway, if screen size is really the most important then probably some sort of argument about tablets is more appropriate?

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ThomH
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Not quite right...

Per the pie chart in the article, of smartphones there's a 32% market share for iOS and 46% for Android. Smartphones are 60% of the total, so that's 19.2% to iOS, 27.6% for Android. I think your Android answer suffers from being a summation only across the top 30; you have to assume a whole bunch of other handsets are Android powered, which I guess cuts to the issue of the iPhones being lumped together.

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ThomH
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Furthermore...

... Apple have their own advertising network in iAds, which is trivially easy to implement in an application and for which most developers will already have suitable payment details set up. Is anybody willing to guess that Apple are supplying any statistics whatsoever for surveys like this?

Ad supported apps may be a larger proportion of the Android Marketplace, but are there really more of them in absolute terms?

I have no doubt Android devices are ahead in the US given that they're cheaper and more widely available (re: carrier exclusivity), I'd just like to know more about how the numbers were collected and can think of factors that could skew them either way.

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Open source Java 7 for Mac code appears

ThomH
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I don't see the anti-competitive angle

Assuming you can't bundle the Java runtime into your app (hence: no other optional install components required), just distribute somewhere other than Apple's App Store. Apple have themselves donated a large chunk of previously proprietary code to help the OpenJDK team start getting up to speed, so they probably have some sort of interest in keeping Java available in some form (keeping university science students on board, maybe?).

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ThomH
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Good for Mac owners

People with much more specialised knowledge are going to be maintaining the OS X port of Java and this effectively makes it an optional install, so it cuts a feature that few use from the list of things you have no choice about the installation of.

I guess the main risk is that, ala VLC, Gimp, OpenOffice and Firefox in the days before 3.0, Mac users are going to get a rubbish second class user experience. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

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Google axes Jobsian codec in name of 'open'

ThomH
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Flip reversing it

Flash supports H.264. Some, but no means all, browsers support H.264. As a content provider, you can (in theory) therefore keep a single encoded video and serve it in either a Flash container or an MP4 container as the browser will accept. Per the current version of Flash, you definitely need that H.264 video in order to reach the majority of end users. So whatever licensing issues may apply to Flash, you're already having to navigate them. From that point of view, H.264 as a supported <video> tag codec is a big technical win.

Of course, I take Google's point that integrating something that is patent encumbered into the core stuff of the web — whether by specification or by common practice — could stifle innovation and raise costs in the future. See also: the GIF debacle. WebM hasn't been litigated yet, which is a worry, but the simple act of muddying the water is likely to be beneficial while the standard is still up in the air. I'm willing to take Google at face value when they say that they expect WebM to be litigation proof; their very selective stands against proprietary technology may be self serving but in this instance Google's best interest aligns with the web's best interest.

What I don't put any stock in is ad hominem attacks on anyone that calls Google hypocritical. Even supposing that all those calling Google's stance hypocritical are doing so through a vested interest in the Apple ecosystem and that Apple themselves take hypocritical positions, how does that exonerate Google?

For my money, the people Google are being hypocrites and we're all benefitting as a result.

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ThomH
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Net Applications would seem to disagree

Android is irrelevant in terms of browser market share. Chrome is the big hitter, and rightly the focus of the story. Per Net Applications, Chrome is the third most popular browser, pushing 10% of the entire market for browsing the web. All the Android devices put together manage just 0.4%. Chrome + Android is about double Safari + iOS, but with the caveat that Chrome (and, usually, Safari, though on some devices you have to install it yourself now) can fall back on Flash support.

iOS versus Android? 1.69% to 0.4%, with iOS up 0.33% during November, Android up 0.09% but by a larger proportion compared to where it started. Neither significant enough in numbers terms to really have an effect.

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ThomH
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@MacroRodent

"I suspect Apple would not have released their webkit version to the world, if it weren't for the GNU license of its original code that required publication."

This wouldn't seem to fit with Apple's recent release of Clang and their older decisions to open source stuff like Darwin and the entirety of WebKit — including the Javascript interpreter that they developed from scratch and various other bits additional to the stuff inherited from KHTML.

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Apple 4 Verizon. True

ThomH
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It's not Android owners in general

There is a group of people that have issues with everyone different from themselves. They see the world in stark black and white tones. Since they're consumers, some subset of them end up with Android phones and come on places like here to shout at everybody else. Similarly, some subset of them has iPhones and probably another is still very happy with a Nokia 3210.

So it's not Android owners you want to be unhappy with, it's a completely orthogonal set of idiots.

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Apple refuses frozen iPhone repair

ThomH
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You have to assume the iPhone normally works at -11

On the basis that they've sold millions of them over several years, yet this failure is newsworthy. As far as I'm concerned, the story is that Apple's customer support people are acting like asses.

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The Girl with the NSObject Class Reference tattoo

ThomH
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Reminds me of...

"This fictional account of the day-to-day life of an English gamekeeper is still of interest to outdoor-minded readers, as it contains many passages on pheasant-raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways to control vermin, and other chores and duties of the occasional gamekeeper. Unfortunately, one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savor these sidelights on the management of a Midlands shooting estate, and in this reviewer’s opinion the book cannot take the place of J. R. Miller’s Practical Gamekeeper."

— Field and Stream Magazine's review of Lady Chatterley's Lover, November 1959

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Apple 'cans restocking fees'

ThomH
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Restocking fees are just one of the (alleged) reasons

Other reasons for things costing more over here: VAT, the Distance Selling Regulations, higher taxation in general. But we get things like free hospitals and increased consumer rights out of the deal.

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ThomH
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But if he was thinking of the Distance Selling Regulations...

... then it seems a bit odd to single out the UK, given that they are an EU directive. From Google alone, I can find some case law that The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 have been used to quash restocking fees based on the prohibition of terms "requiring any consumer who fails to fulfil his obligation to pay a disproportionately high sum in compensation;", but without a proper law library at my disposal it's difficult to find anything more specific than that. And the standard Sale of Goods Act and Unfair Contract Terms Act bits prohibit a restocking fee for faulty merchandise, but that isn't really relevant.

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Android's Gingerbread finagled onto iPhone

ThomH
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Don't believe the propaganda

Although Apple products hold their value quite well, I doubt you'd end up paying £500 for a device that originally cost £500 and is now two generations out of date.

If you're looking for a cost argument for this hack (which I don't for a second believe that the team responsible considered at all), it's to repurpose a hand-me-down handset.

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Apple unwraps app store for proper computers

ThomH
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Besides the plentitude of freeware within the App Store

There's macupdate, versiontracker, tucows, etc, etc. In summary: Apple still list and provide free software, lots of people outside of Apple continue to list and provide free software.

Your conclusion is unsupportable.

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ThomH
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It's not a package manager

It's a lot simpler than that. It's just applications. In fact, it's just an application storefront that can download and install the things. And keep track of your licences. But there's no uninstallation and no dependency tracking — though per the admissibility rules there are also no dependencies. But it's a technical difference nonetheless.

This is news because (i) it's the first major push to create an electronic store for desktop software; and (ii) some people fear it points to a locked-down future for Apple's desktops. I don't agree with them, but nevertheless it makes the story more interesting for a bunch of people. The story also contributes to the iOS versus Mac OS narrative.

Compared to a Linux package manager, the newsworthy differences are infrastructure (ie, paid apps, lots of commercial developers and commercial release cycles) and prominence. You're right that, technologically, there's nothing new here.

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ThomH
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Not tied to iTunes (the software)

The App Store is a separate program, though it does use your iTunes login. Sadly the linked terms and conditions (http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/uk/terms.html) still make such heavy reference to iOS devices that I strongly suspect some sort of error at Apple's end. Taking them at face value:

"(i) You may download and sync a Product for personal, noncommercial use on any device You own or control.

(ii) If You are a commercial enterprise or educational institution, You may download and sync a Product for use by either (a) a single individual on one or more devices You own or control or (b) multiple individuals, on a single shared device You own or control."

It's a bit weird that they seem to want you to be a commercial enterprise or educational institution before you can share your software on a shared device, but I doubt you can cherry pick the bits you want so I'd expect it to end up being install on one device for as many users as you want or install on as many devices as you want but only for one user. A reference elsewhere limits each device to carrying software linked to up to five iTunes accounts, but that's even deeper within iOS-worded territory.

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ThomH
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Bigger than you think

I think latest figures are something of the order of 5% of all computers worldwide, 10% in the US across all sectors but something like 25% at retail. Previous statistics from people like 2d Boy have suggested that Mac owners are responsible for around 40% of revenue of indie software in a straight Windows vs OS X comparison.

That all being said, OS X users account for only around 8% of usage of Steam according to Valve. It's unclear what they contribute as a share of revenue, but a very large portion of Steam content is unavailable to Mac users so the comparison is probably hard to calculate in a fair manner.

In any case, a new consumer oriented means to purchase software for Macs only is of real interest to the community. The Mac share of potential customers definitely isn't negligible, even though it may be small.

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iPhone-wielding chumps rush to give data to phish sites

ThomH
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@Lionel Baden

I suspect that "That's simply because unlike a BlackBerry, with the iPhone you actually can browse the net!!" was the AC's explanation of why his claim can be seen to potentially have objective validity.

Alternatively, see the NetApplications report for December (http://www.netmarketshare.com/operating-system-market-share.aspx?qprid=8) — iOS browser share is 1.69%, BlackBerry is 0.13%. So if the statistic were 'user of an iOS device' (rather than explicitly an iPhone) versus 'user of a BlackBerry', you'd expect to see exactly 13 times as many of the former falling for scams, all other things being equal.

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RIM reveals 4G PlayBook plans

ThomH
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This is the tablet that requires a BlackBerry?

As in, if you've no BlackBerry then you don't get email or a calendar on your tablet? Or maybe I've fallen for propaganda?

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Microsoft embraces ARM with Windows 8

ThomH
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Another use for their VirtualPC purchase, perhaps?

VirtualPC built a full-software x86 emulator and sold it for the purpose of running Windows on PowerPC Macs, were bought by Microsoft and their core technology is used in the XBox 360 (a PowerPC machine) to run original XBox (an Intel machine) software. If it's not completely PowerPC wedded, is it possible they could use the x86 emulator the same way Apple used Rosetta, to support old x86 apps on the ARM platform?

It's also a fantastic opportunity to emphasise Win32 as the past and .NET as the only way onward.

I wonder how companies like Adobe are going to take the news, being famously bad at keeping up with software transitions.

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