It was in 2010, when Microsoft brought a new innovation to the Mobile OS market, with its Windows phone 7. Although it did not turn out to be a game changer in the market, it had really brought in some interesting innovations for a mobile phone OS. ‘Live tile’ was the most important of them. It allowed users to see all the information they needed from the start screen. And they were not standalone icons like in iOS, but live tiles, which kept on updating real-time. Windows phone came at a time when Nokia was seeing its initial downfall in the market and was looking for a solid OS to compete with the likes of Samsung (Android) and Apple (iOS).
With the introduction of Windows Phone 8 in late 2012, its devices started to see some significant growth in the market. Nokia introduced Windows Phone 8 in the market with its Lumia 920 and 820 range, following it up with a low-cost Lumia 520. The devices turned out to be a hit and windows phones started seeing more than 100% year-on-year growth. Unfortunately, that saw windows phone’s last smile. Despite the growth, Nokia could not manage to financially lift itself up from the big losses it had undergone in the previous years and ultimately ended up being acquired by Microsoft in late 2013.
What seemed to be a good deal for the growth of windows phone, turned out to be more or less the beginning of downfall of the Operating System. Since then, windows phone is making news for the wrong reasons more than the right reasons. The most important of them was seen in July 2015, when Microsoft decided to write down Nokia’s acquisition deal of $7.5b, which indicated nothing but negative signals for the future of windows phones.
A recent article published by PC Mag claimed “Microsoft Doesn’t Really Want to Sell Windows Phones in the U.S“. In the US, Microsoft Lumia devices are only available with AT&T. Does it mean that no other carrier is interested in Windows Phones? Apparently, that is not the case. Almost every carrier in the US is open to having windows phones, but Microsoft gives them the cold shoulder. Infact, the CEO of T-Mobile, John Legere, himself had tweeted saying
Is Microsoft deliberately trying to jump into the well? It does seem so.
What is the future for windows phone? Will it continue to exist? Was Microsoft too ambitious when it had decided to become a smartphone device maker, rather than just a software maker? Would Microsoft and Nokia have remained better off without the acquisition?
These are some of questions that pop up in everyone’s mind and unfortunately, are still debatable.
Author: Gaurav Kumar
Picture Source: Apple.com
Macbook users, did you know that the newest version of OS X is already available for download on 30 September? Are you still unsure whether to update it or not? Here is something you would like to know before you upgrade.
WHAT IS NEW?
Honestly, this update of OS X is not a real breakthrough, rather a more routine refining of Yosemite. It mainly improved user experience in some details. Five major changes are:
- Split View
This is ranked as the first major change in this new OS X. Now users can arrange two windows under the full screen mode. To enter the Split View, you simply long click the green button on the left up corner. Then it will enter the full screen Split View mode and let you select another opened window to fill in the other half.
Honestly, the long click seems not an intuitive gesture for myself. The function will be very useful for users who need to multitask or need to refer to one window to work on another. However, for users who are not big fun of full screen mode, this new function will be rarely used. And there are already plug-ins that can realize a very similar effect, but not in a full screen mode.
In one word, Split View would be a good reason to upgrade for users who love full screen mode.
- New Layout in Mission Control
Another big change is in the layout of Mission Control. In previous OS X, windows of same application will be categorized and overlap with each other. Now, every single window is spread over the screen, with No overlapping, like this
It is hard to say if it is a good or bad move. It can a disaster for users who love to keep a lot of windows open at the same time (like me, never close a pdf in preview). It may take time for users to get used to the change.
- More powerful Notes
Finally, Notes can be a fast text editing tool, not only a plain text editor any more. Now you can have pictures, bullet points, and checklist. Maybe it is a move towards merging the Notes and Reminder.
- A better graphical experience
Apple claims to have a new graphic technology called Metal and it makes the graphic experience better and faster. It is a good news, especially for basic users like myself, who use mostly browser and PDF reader everyday.
- Something Else
Some other features include minor new functions in Safari, link to third party editing tool in Photos, improvements in Maps, better input methods for Chinese and Japanese. Apple also claim to have a better overall performance since they optimize their system to work more efficiently.
After all, OS X El Capitan worked more optimizing the details instead of making breakthroughs. There is no feature that enables a further collaboration with mobile devices this time, which I would say is quite disappointing. There is no big incentive to upgrade right away. But since it is only 6GB to download, maybe you will do this in some random afternoon break. It does not hurt right?
Microsoft released the latest version of its operating system, Windows, a bit more than one year ago. Windows 8 as it is called was Microsoft’s attempt at penetrating the mobile market of tablets and other mobile devices with a single operating system. The interface, dubbed Metro, is clearly optimized for touch based interaction; the start menu has been replaced with big interactive ‘tiles’ that provide shortcuts to the most commonly used apps. As such, the system sort of mimics iOS’ and Android’s interface currently the two dominant operating systems on tablets and mobile phones.
Google in its constant quest for market share has found a way to exploit the interface of its rival Windows 8. Chrome is Google’s web browser and currently the most used browser on the internet with a market share of about 35-40%. One reason for Chrome’s success is the availability on the majority of operating systems on not only mobile devices, but also desktop systems. Moreover, Google has extended the Chrome product line beyond the browser into a complete operating system based on Linux called Chrome OS.
Here comes the trick: Windows 8 enables software to launch in a so called ‘Metro-style mode’. The original intended function of this feature is to give applications in Windows 8 a coherent and consistent user interface in line with the OS itself. However, the latest versions of Chrome in this metro-style mode is basically identical to Chrome OS. As such, you have the functionality and user interface of Google’s operating system within a Windows ecosystem, including an app launcher and toolbar with Google apps such as Chrome, Gmail, Google Docs, and YouTube. This strategy, if not stopped by Microsoft, will let Google develop its own apps ecosystem even more than it has done so far on Android and the web.
It is not clear whether Microsoft will continue to allow this, but it clearly shows the intense competition of these companies. I find it a bold move by Google, but doubt that Microsoft will allow this to happen for a long period. Microsoft is already losing market share because it moved rather late into the mobile industry and most probably does not want to fight Google on more fronts than it is already doing.
What do you think? Will Microsoft allow this strategy, or perhaps even pull a Google itself? And do you consider this move by Google to ethically responsible?
There has been doubt and straight out denial from other industries, but the proof is irrefutable. The games industry has over the last decades grown from an insignificant niche market to the mainstream form of entertainment it is today. “No other sector has experienced the same explosive growth as the computer and video game industry. Our creative publishers and talented workforce continue to accelerate advancement and pioneer new products that push boundaries and unlock entertainment experiences. These innovations in turn drive enhanced player connectivity, fuel demand for products, and encourage the progression of an expanding and diversified consumer base.” (M. D. Gallagher, 2013)
Now don’t dismiss this as nonsense, because according to Esa- research (2013) the average age of game players is 30. And girls, don’t place this in the category boys being silly because women 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (31%) than boys age 17 or younger (19%). Games concern us all.
It no secret that this industry is dominated by three major parties. The names of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will probably ring a bell to everyone. These major players have dominated the industry for years now, but in recent years the attempts to wrestle market share away from them have been numerous. Facebook started offering social games, and to no small success. OUYA , the GameStick and the NVIDIA® SHIELD tried it with cheap hardware. Even phones and mobile devices are more convenient on the road. So convenient that 36% of gamers play games on their smartphone, and 25% play games on their wireless devices(ESA, 2013). And still these behemoths of gaming thrive and live on. But this might not be the case any longer.
Because there is a new, old player looking for ways to dethrone these giants. Valve, big time player on the PC- gaming market, has identified the target markets of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo as it’s new hunting grounds. Valve is an entertainment software and technology company founded in 1996 by Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington and based in Bellevue, Washington. The company became famous from it’s first game Half-Life.Valve currently develops and maintains several video games. In addition, Valve is a developer of leading-edge technologies including the Source game engine and Steam, a leading platform for digital content with over 10 million registered users. (Crunchbase, 2013)
Why do this? Three problems to solve!
For Valve and many other studios the decline and fall of the PC is a slowly dawning apocalypse. Sales of gaming PCs may be up while the rest of the market is down but there’s a point at which the support that comes from the wider PC ecosystem starts to dwindle. Perhaps video cards start not keeping pace. Perhaps driver software becomes less updated. Perhaps commoditized components stop being cheap and PCs become much more expensive. The knock-on effects of this decline could wipe out Valve, Blizzard and a number of others.(Techcrunch, 2013)
However Valve’s second, and largely unique, problem is that a recovery in the PC space implies tighter integration of the platform by Microsoft. With the purchase of most of Nokia and a search for new leadership underway the Wyrm may finally be starting to turn at Big-M. Windows 9 (or 8.5, or whatever) may well turn things around. If it does though it will be for a Microsoft that’s far more interested in device-and-service thinking. It will mean more prominence for the Windows Store. It doesn’t compete much with Steam today but one day it will.(Techcrunch, 2013)
Finally Valve’s third problem is its ecosystem. It has a massive following of both players and developers. Steam is perceived as art house venue of games and every indie wants to be there. That ecosystem has evolved hand-in-hand with the PC paradigm since its inception and is resistant to fundamental change. Steam’s adoption took forever and required deeply discounted sales to overcome suspicions. Nowadays it’s huge but that doesn’t mean its audience is ready for a big shift.(Techcrunch, 2013)
Valve’s three solutions.
A new Operating System
Steam (Valve’s platform) is getting its very own operating system. It’ll be a combination of Steam’s current platform and Linux.
SteamOS is a free operating system designed for living rooms that Valve says “combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen.”
Valve says they’ve already got “hundreds of games” that will come to the new operating system next year, including AAA titles, and that you’ll be able to access the entire Steam catalog via “in-home streaming,” a process they haven’t quite explained yet. (We’ve reached out to a number of publishers, including EA, Activision, Square Enix, and Ubisoft, to see who’s planning to develop or port games for SteamOS.)
“In SteamOS, we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we’re now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level,” Valve writes. “Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases.(Kotaku, 2013)
Valve is also partnering with various companies to release hardware that they’re calling Steam Machines. These are PCs designed to play games on your television, and they’ll compete with the next generation of gaming consoles for control of your living room. Valve says you’ll be able to play “hundreds” of games natively during the beta—the rest will be available via “in-home streaming.”
Details are still vague about the actual machines, but we know there will be multiple pieces of hardware. “Beginning in 2014, there will be multiple SteamOS machines to choose from, made by different manufacturers,” Valve writes.
That’s a pretty big deal—Valve, traditionally a software company, has earned a ton of success and acclaim with its current operations on Steam, and gamers love what the studio has to offer. Valve-branded PCs could pose strong competition for the next-gen consoles from the likes of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. (Kotaku, 2013)
A new Controller
This leaves us with the problem of how to control these new products? For this, Valve gives us a controller. The controller differs significantly from that for the Xbox and PlayStation and includes two track pads on the places where normal thumbsticks would be placed, and has no d-pad.
The track pads are made clickable and also contain a new type of haptic feedback, allowing the user to get information about the movements on the touch pads. With this it aim to be a cross between a traditional mouse and a conventional controller.
Between the touchpads is a touchscreen which can display virtual buttons and is also clickable. To press a button, the user must press the screen, like BlackBerry did with his Storm smartphone. When a user sits above the touch screen, the interface put it on the screen of the TV or monitor, allowing users to keep looking at the screen. (Tweakers, 2013)
Overall, it certainly appears that Valve is looking for consumer support and interest to drive SteamOS development, considering that concrete incentives for large developers to make the switch to Linux are nonexistent. Is there a level of consumer commitment that you think could get these developers on board? If so, perhaps Valve does have to kick off the SteamOS and Steam Machine release with a handful of at the very least temporarily exclusive titles to hit that critical mass. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what Valve has in store. (Techcrunch, 2013)
Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO, Entertainment Software association(2013). Sourced from: http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2013.pdf
Electronic Software Association, (2013)
Sourced from: http://www.theesa.com/facts/
Sourced from: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/valve-software
Sourced from: http://kotaku.com/valve-announces-steam-os-1371869324
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