Microsoft Surface Devices Fail on Reliability, Finds Consumer Reports Survey

The breakage rate for Microsoft’s Surface devices is significantly worse than for other manufacturers’ laptops and tablets, Consumer Reports said, adding that it was removing its “recommended” designation for Surface products.

The non-profit publication surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found that an estimated 25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices would be presented with “problems by the end of the second year of ownership,” according to a study published on Thursday.

“If you are very concerned about how long your products are going to last, it might be better for you to go with a brand that has a higher predicted reliability,” Jerry Beilinson, electronics editor at the consumer goods testing publication, said in an interview.

Microsoft disputed the study, saying the company’s return and support rates differ significantly from the Consumer Reports study.

“We don’t believe these findings accurately reflect Surface owners’ true experiences or capture the performance and reliability improvements made with every Surface generation,” the company said in a statement.

According to the Consumer Reports survey responses, the Microsoft devices were found to freeze, unexpectedly shut down or have issues with their touchscreens, Beilinson said.

Altogether, the reliability issues made Microsoft a statistical outlier compared with other brands. Apple Inc had the most reliable devices, Beilinson said.

Microsoft Surface Devices Fail on Reliability, Finds Consumer Reports SurveyMicrosoft entered the hardware market with its first Surface tablet in 2012. Since then, the company has released a series of new Surface tablets and laptops, including the well-reviewed Surface Pro, which launched in May.

The Surface devices serve as a face for the company and exemplify how Microsoft’s manufacturing partners can build hardware around the Windows 10 operating system. However, Surface is a small part of Microsoft’s overall revenue, and Surface revenue has declined year-over-year for the past two quarters.

“The reality is that Microsoft has very little experience in some of the newer categories it’s entering very rapidly, which may expose it to more risk of problems in manufacturing,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.

Consumer Reports has conducted its annual reliability study since 1952, starting with cars. The study is also used to determine the reliability of products like refrigerators, lawn mowers, televisions and more. In more recent years, the organization has added laptops and tablets.

Windows 10 Pro for Workstations Unveiled by Microsoft, Available This Fall

Microsoft on Thursday announced a new edition of Windows 10 Pro targeted at power users with high-end hardware. Windows 10 Pro for Workstations will be available to power users as part of Fall Creators Update, which will be available this fall.

For those unaware, Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is a high-end edition of Windows 10 Pro which comes with support for server grade PC hardware and has been designed to meet critical and compute intensive workloads.

Windows 10 Pro for Workstations Unveiled by Microsoft, Available This FallMicrosoft says that Windows 10 Pro for Workstations has been optimised to increase performance and reliability with features like ReFS (Resilient File System) which provides cloud-grade resiliency for data on fault-tolerant storage spaces and manages very large volumes with ease, and faster file sharing with a feature called SMB Direct which supports the use of network adapters that have Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) capability. It also promises persistent memory that provides the most demanding apps and data with the performance they require with non-volatile memory modules (NVDIMM-N) hardware. This ensures read and write of files with the “fastest speed possible, the speed of the computer’s main memory,” claims Microsoft.

“Users will now be able to run Windows 10 Pro for Workstations on devices with high performance configurations including server grade Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron processors, with up to 4 CPUs (which is today limited to 2 CPUs) and add massive memory up to 6TB (today limited to 2TB),” Microsoft’s Klaus Diaconu, Partner Group Program Manager, Windows and Devices Group wrote in an announcement blog post.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper Enthusiasts CPUs Go on Sale in India Starting at Rs. 55,999

AMD has already announced pretty much everything there is to know about its high-performance Threadripper CPU line, and now the products have finally been launched. The 12-core, 24-thread Ryzen Threadripper 1920X is priced at Rs. 55,999 excluding GST in India, while the flagship 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen Threadripper 1950X will cost Rs. 69,999 excluding GST. The 8-core, 16-thread Threadripper 1900X which was added to the lineup after the former two, will become available on August 31 and its India price will be announced at that time.

Indian retailers PrimeABGB and MD Computers are already listing the two high-end CPUs, with identical MRPs of Rs. 65,488 for the Threadripper 1920X and Rs. 82,008 for the Threadripper 1950X at both stores. Judging by its US dollar price of $549, our calculations estimate that the Threadripper 1900X should come in at around Rs. 38,499 before GST and Rs. 45,500 MRP.

Threadripper is AMD’s answer to Intel’s Core-X series, more commonly known as Extreme Edition processors. AMD is hoping to upset Intel’s dominance by offering more cores per dollar, just like it has done with its Ryzen 7 (Review), Ryzen 5 (Review) and Ryzen 3 CPUs so far this year. The launch of the Threadripper models completes AMD’s top-to-bottom desktop CPU lineup – though more variants within each family could still be launched.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper Enthusiasts CPUs Go on Sale in India Starting at Rs. 55,999AMD is aiming Threadripper at content creators, gamers and overclockers who want the best performance without spending too much. These CPUs are physically much larger than mainstream ones, and use a different socket called TR4. They support quad-channel DDR4 RAM and feature 64 lanes of PCIe bandwidth for high-speed components such as graphics cards and SSD arrays. They have a much higher 180W TDP rating and need specific coolers. Because the Zen architecture is common between Ryzen product families, Threadripper CPUs are based on the same Infinity Fabric interconnect between internal clusters called Core Complexes, and have the same benefits including XFR which boosts speed beyond the rated limits when thermal conditions allow it, and SenseMI which adjusts operating parameters dynamically using hundreds of embedded sensors.

Threadripper-compatible X399 motherboards are available from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and ASRock. They will also show up in pre-built systems from a number of boutique builders. Dell is the exclusive big-brand OEM at launch time, and has already announced several Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition models.

It has been a busy year for AMD, which hasn’t had a competitive CPU lineup in nearly a decade. The company has so far launched the entire Ryzen desktop CPU line as well as Ryzen Pro variants for businesses, Epyc server processors, and the Radeon RX 500 (Review) series of graphics cards. High-end Radeon RX Vega graphics cards are set to launch over the next few weeks, and Ryzen Mobile and APU products with integrated graphics are in the pipeline as well.

Microsoft Outlook.com Beta Unveiled With Improved Search, Quick Suggestions, and More

Microsoft on Tuesday announced the beta version of Outlook.com with more personalisation options, a new design, and new inbox features. The company has already started rolling out the Try the beta toggle, which allows users to join the beta and users can switch to regular version from the beta and vice versa by simply using the toggle button.

With the Outlook.com beta, Microsoft says that it has implemented a “more responsive” Web development framework that allows for an upgraded search feature that shows previews for files and photos right in your conversation list. It also helps the email client to deliver “a fresher look with a modern conversation style and a new design to let you see, read, and attach files and photos faster,” the company said in its post.

Microsoft Outlook.com Beta Unveiled With Improved Search, Quick Suggestions, and MoreMicrosoft has also introduced a new inbox that offers Quick Suggestions as users write in order to help them add information about particular locations such as restaurants or flights to their conversations. “An improved photo experience puts all the pictures sent or received in your email in one place and makes it easier to share them with others. The new modern conversation style makes it easier to manage and preview photos and attachments,” the company said.

Further, inside the inbox, users get the option to personalise their inbox to make it easier to find friends, files, or important conversations. Users will also get access to emojis and GIFs to help make emails livelier than earlier. The Redmond-based company has said that more improvements, including updates to Calendar and People, will be rolled out in next few months.

Windows 10 Timeline Feature Won’t Arrive With Fall Creators Update, Reveals Microsoft

Microsoft announced its promising Timeline feature earlier this year, and claimed that it would arrive with the scheduled fall feature update. However, the company has now confirmed that the feature won’t be a part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, and instead, be rolled out in early builds by the end of the year.

This means that Timeline will see the light of day only in the next big Windows 10 update next year. Microsoft executive Joe Belfiore confirmed to The Verge that the feature won’t be a part of the fall update. “Timeline won’t be in the Fall Creators Update. We’re planning for it to be in early insider builds shortly after Fall Creators Update is out,” he confirmed.

Windows 10 Timeline Feature Won’t Arrive With Fall Creators Update, Reveals MicrosoftFor those unaware, Timeline is a feature that will offer a historical view of everything that you do across Windows 10 devices. Timeline will allow users to jump back in time with a visual timeline that displays what a user was doing previously on another Windows 10 device, and easily hop back into files, apps, and websites as if it was real time. For example, if you are working on your smartphone on a document that’s stored on your OneDrive, this activity will show up on your Timeline as well.

The Timeline view will be made available on Android and iOS devices via the Cortana app, which now also offers the ability to pick up where you left off on other devices. This works similar to how Apple’s Continuity feature offers for iOS and macOS.

Microsoft is expected to roll out the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update in September, while the next Windows 10 update with the Timeline feature should be rolled out in March next year.

Microsoft Confirms Layoffs, Said to Be Cutting 3,000 Jobs, Mostly From Non-US Sales Staff

Microsoft said Thursday it was cutting an unspecified number of jobs amid reports the US tech giant was reorganizing its global sales operations.

“Today, we are taking steps to notify some employees that their jobs are under consideration or that their positions will be eliminated,” Microsoft said in an email response to an AFP inquiry.

Earlier, CNBC television said the company would be cutting some 3,000 positions, mostly from its non-US sales staff.

“Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time-to-time, re-deployment in others,” the company said in a statement.

The layoffs come as the US software colossus refocuses its sales force on making Microsoft a pivotal part of businesses relying on cloud computing, according to media reports.

Microsoft had more than 121,000 employees worldwide at the end of March, according to its website.

Chief executive Satya Nadella has sought to reduce the tech giant’s focus on software, shifting to cloud computing and business services.

“From large multinationals to small and medium businesses to non-profits all over the world, organizations are using Microsoft’s cloud platforms to power their digital transformation,” Nadella said when the company reported its earnings for the first three months of this year.

Microsoft Confirms Layoffs, Said to Be Cutting 3,000 Jobs, Mostly From Non-US Sales StaffRising cloud
Microsoft reported revenue gains in cloud and business service operations, which offset a drop in “personal computing,” which includes the Windows operating system that once made up its core business.

Microsoft said revenue from its “Intelligent Cloud” rose 11 percent from a year earlier to $6.8 billion.

Microsoft said its Office commercial products and cloud services revenue increased seven percent.

Office consumer products and cloud services revenue rose 15 percent, as the number of Office 365 consumer subscribers increased to 26.2 million.

Microsoft is to release its earnings for the recently-ended quarter on July 20.

Microsoft’s cloud platform, called Azure, faces competition from technology powerhouses Amazon and Google.

Each of the companies has also been investing in artificial intelligence which can make services hosted in the internet cloud more intuitive and insightful when it comes to handling data or catering to needs of users.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft has announced thousands of jobs cuts in recent years, the most severe being 18,000 positions eliminated in 2014 related to its acquisition of Nokia and failed efforts in the smartphone market.

The technology giant cut 7,800 jobs in 2015, and 4,700 last year.

Toshiba Said to Be Under Pressure to Consider Plan B as Chip Sale Falters

As the $18 billion (roughly Rs. 1,16,325 crores) sale of Toshiba’s memory chip unit to a government-approved consortium falters, some bankers and potential investors are pressing the board to seriously consider alternatives, people with direct knowledge of the sale process said – including picking a new buyer.

Those people say Toshiba’s leadership is sticking to Plan A: selling the world’s second-largest memory chip maker to a Japanese government-backed group that also includes Bain Capital.

But the clock is ticking for Toshiba, which was still recovering from a $1.3 billion accounting scandal in 2015 when it was hit by billions of dollars of cost overruns at its US nuclear unit Westinghouse in December.

Unless it closes a deal by March, a gaping balance-sheet hole will prompt automatic delisting of its shares from Tokyo’s stock market – further battering its shareholders.

As questions emerge around the role of South Korean rival SK Hynix in the preferred bidder group, some Toshiba executives and officials at the company’s main creditor banks say they want top management to look at other options.

“Toshiba hastily picked the consortium ahead of its [June 28] annual shareholders meeting, but more and more flaws are emerging as time passes,” said a senior official at one of Toshiba’s banks.

SK Hynix, which was initially included just to help fund the deal, is now looking to own equity in Toshiba’s chips unit, according to sources, raising antitrust and national concerns in Japan. SK Hynix has not commented.

Addressing concerns that its chip technology could be handed to a foreign rival, Toshiba said previously that SK Hynix would have no equity or management influence.

Scrapping that deal would leave one obvious option: rival suitor Western Digital, which bid for the chip business with private equity firm KKR. But Western Digital, already a Toshiba joint venture partner, is in a legal dispute with the Japanese firm, and sources describe a deep distrust.

But Western Digital could have the support of government-backed Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) and Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ) – both currently part of the preferred buyer consortium – the sources said. They are said to be wary of SK Hynix, and of Toshiba agreeing a sale to the group while Western Digital has sought an injunction to stop it.

“If asked, we are ready to team up with Western Digital and KKR, and we actually prefer that,” said a senior official at one of the government investors.

Both the DBJ and INCJ declined to comment.

A Toshiba spokesman said the firm is negotiating with the preferred buyer consortium to sign a definitive agreement as soon as possible.

Selling other assets seems a less likely avenue, as Toshiba has few of sufficient value, and a piecemeal process could take too long.

It sold its medical equipment business to Canon for $6 billion last year. There are plans to list Toshiba’s smart meter business Landis+Gyr, but that will not plug the gap. Toshiba turned down offers from buyout group CVC and industrial conglomerate Hitachi to buy the business for almost $2 billion earlier this year, sources have said.

Toshiba cannot raise cash by issuing shares because of restrictions imposed by the bourse after the 2015 scandal.

Toshiba Said to Be Under Pressure to Consider Plan B as Chip Sale FaltersDeal or no deal
Toshiba has been scrambling for cash for months – since it shocked investors late last year with news of the cost overruns and delays at Westinghouse, which forced a hefty writedown and losses.

Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in March in one of the nuclear industry’s most costly collapses to date, leaving Toshiba to cover $6 billion of liabilities it guaranteed.

Even so, investors and some creditors say they fear Toshiba may simply refuse to consider what appears to be the most obvious option.

“Some within Toshiba say they’d rather die than be (acquired by) Western Digital,” said a banking official who has discussed the deal with senior Toshiba executives.

Western Digital is a recent partner for Toshiba – it bought SanDisk, Toshiba’s memory chip business partner for 17 years, in May last year. A leap from joint venture partner to buyer would have to overcome significant distrust.

Last month, Western Digital sought a US court injunction to prevent a sale of Toshiba’s chips arm without its consent.

“We worked with SanDisk over more than 10 years, but it’s been just one year that we’ve worked with Western Digital executives, and we’ve had no good experience from it,” a senior Toshiba executive said.

Two people familiar with the matter said Toshiba believes that even if the court grants the injunction, it can proceed with a chip sale agreement – so long as it holds off completion.

US chipmaker Broadcom, previously considered a major candidate with a $20 billion offer for the Toshiba chips arm, backed off due to legal risks involving Western Digital.

Laptop Ban: Royal Jordanian, Kuwait Airways Say Now Exempt

Royal Jordanian and Kuwait Airways said on Sunday passengers could take laptops and large electronic devices in the cabin on flights to the United States, the latest Middle East airlines to be exempted from a US ban.

Royal Jordanian and Kuwait Airways join Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airline who each announced last week a lifting of the ban.

In March, the United States banned laptops and other large electronic devices on direct flights originating at 10 airports in eight countries – Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey – to address fears that bombs could be concealed in them.

Royal Jordanian, which flies to New York, Chicago and Detroit from Amman, Jordan, lifted the ban after new security measures were implemented for US-bound flights, airline President Stefan Pichler said in a statement.

State-owned Kuwait Airways, which flies from Kuwait to New York via Ireland, said the ban was lifted after US officials inspected security measures on its flights.

US officials did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on the lifting of the ban affecting the Jordanian and Kuwaiti carriers.

Laptop Ban: Royal Jordanian, Kuwait Airways Say Now ExemptThe United States announced on June 29 enhanced security measures for flights to the country, requiring additional time to screen passengers and electronic devices for possible explosives.

The new US measures, which take effect within three weeks of the announcement, will affect around 325,000 passengers a day travelling on 180 airlines from 280 airports around the world, according to the US Department of Homeland Security.

Airlines that fail to meet the new security requirements could still face in-cabin restrictions on electronic devices.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has said it expects the ban to be lifted on flights from Jeddah and Riyadh by July 19.

Royal Air Maroc also believes it can have the ban lifted for flights out of Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport by July 19, a senior official from the state-owned airline told Reuters on July 6.

State-owned EgyptAir has also been affected by the ban.

Windows 10 Preview Build Gets DPI-Scaling Fix, Removes Blurry Apps on High-Res Displays

Microsoft on Friday released a new Windows 10 Insider Preview build that solves an issue that has been nagging Windows users with high-resolution display. The latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build 16237 changes how the system reacts to DPI adjustments. Users will no longer have to log out and log back in to fix blurry desktop apps, which are mostly related to old Win32 apps, after docking, undocking, and remoting.

Presently, if a user changes the resolution of a display by docking/ undocking or via Settings, the scaling gets reflected throughout the apps only by logging out of the account and then back in. However, with the latest build, Microsoft is cutting down that process and will adjust the scaling by simply relaunching the the app to render them crisply on your 4K display or high DPI display, the company says in its blog post.

This will solve the issue for most legacy apps, but not all as yet, and one will have to wait for those apps to get updated to respond to DPI change. Microsoft says that the apps will get updated DPI-related data from Windows when restarting them individually rather than having to log out and back in, which is a lot more annoying and cumbersome. The company has also noted that the change won’t improve apps that are blurry on secondary displays when in “extend” display mode.

microsoft windows 10 action center windows

That’s not all coming that is to the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build. Microsoft has also made some improvements to the notification buttons, which now spreads across the bottom of the notification, instead of being right-justified. Furthermore, the first notification in each group will be expanded in the Action Center so that you can quickly see and take action, of say your email, reminders and texts, without having to expand every single one of them.

The latest preview build for Windows 10 Insiders comes with a lot more fixes and improvements such as the Edge’s ability to now read out loud on websites and PDFs with word and line highlighting. The Emoji Panel now supports the new 5.0 making it easier to type and input the emoji you want. There’s also a new animation on when you add a favourite along with minor bug fixes. You can check the full list of improvements and fixes of Windows 10 Insider Preview build 16237 on the company’s blog.

Chrome OS Set to Get Touch-Friendly Controls in Upcoming Redesign

Chrome OS on Chromebooks was initially not designed as a touch-friendly interface but after the introduction of support for Google Play apps, things were bound to change. It now seems like the operating system might soon receive a design overhaul that would focus primarily on support for touch-based controls.

A new video, shared by Google Chromium Happiness Evangelist Francois Beaufort, shows an app drawer just like Android with Google Search bar and some app icons that can be launched with a tap. Users can further get access to all their apps by swiping up on this app drawer. To enable, Beaufort notes users must enable the chrome://flags/#enable-fullscreen-app-list flag, restart Chrome, and press the Search key to see it in action.

Chrome OS Set to Get Touch-Friendly Controls in Upcoming RedesignWith a simple tap, you can also perform voice search and the operating system will open the search result in a new Chrome window.

The touch-friendly interface is already live in Canary versions of Chrome OS, which is essentially an alpha build of the OS. As it is an early build, you can expect bugs and glitches that still need ironing out by the company. Google added a ‘hybrid’ mode to the OS last year to space out the icons little more and make it easier to tap them, as pointed out in a report by The Verge. However, this seems to be one of the giant leaps towards making the operating system more touch-friendly than before.

As Samsung and Acer have been building Chromebooks with touchscreens for quite some time now, it appears that with this latest introduction, users will be able to do more touch-based actions with their portables than before.