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September 28, 2014

Free Windows 9 Upgrades for Windows 8 Users?

New Microsoft LogoMicrosoft is widely expected to introduce its Windows 9 operating system at an event in San Francisco next Tuesday and rumors have been flying about what we can expect from the successor to Windows 8.

Now we can add "free upgrades for Windows 8 users" to the mix of speculation in advance of the unveiling of the next-gen software platform code named Threshold.

The source behind the latest rumor? As spotted by BGR on Saturday, Indonesian tech site Detik earlier this week quoted Microsoft Indonesia president Andreas Diantoro as saying that "the Windows 9 upgrade will be available free of charge to all existing Windows 8 users once it's released."

The Detik article is in Indonesian, but BGR gleaned from a translation that once Threshold is released, Windows 8 users "will be able to easily install the Windows 9 update after downloading it from Microsoft."

In fact, the rumor that Redmond could be planning free Windows 9 upgrades has been kicking around for some time, with variants suggesting that legacy Windows XP users may also be gifted free upgrades. If any of these rumors prove solid, what's unclear is what happens to users of other Windows OSes like Vista and Windows 7, BGR noted.



September 28, 2014

Windows 9? Microsoft Might Just Call it Windows

Windows 9 leakDetails about Microsoft's follow-up to Windows 8 are set to be revealed in a matter of days, but it might not carry the moniker Windows 9.

Reuters on Friday reported that Microsoft is planning to announce a new name for the ubiquitous operating system at its press event next week. Though the software is known as "Threshold" inside Microsoft, the expectation was that the company would officially call it Windows 9, and recent leaks have backed that up.

But Reuters sources said the revamped OS may be called something else altogether. It will either get a completely new brand name, or just be called Windows, according to the report.

"The name change is symbolic of a new direction and style for Microsoft, which is veering away from an aggressive focus on Windows and PCs, the hallmark of previous Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer," the report notes. "The new, quieter emphasis is on selling services across all devices and is championed by new boss Satya Nadella."



September 15, 2014

Windows 9 Leaks Tip Notification Center, Cortana

Windows 9 Notification CenterMicrosoft is rumored to be unveiling details about its next-gen operating system later this month, but German site WinFuture has more details about what Windows 9 might entail.

According to the blog's screenshots and videos, Redmond is working on virtual desktops, a new Start menu, and a Notification Center, as well as adapting its Cortana digital assistant for the next-gen OS.

Codenamed "Threshold," Windows 9 is expected to formally roll out next year and include the return of the Start menu, according to WinFuture, which also reported on a multi-desktop feature, a Windows Phone-like Notification Center (pictured), and the incorporation of mobile-based Cortana to the desktop.

Details have been leaking since late last week, when the German site suggested the much-anticipated Start menu will include Redmond's famed Live Tiles in an expandable table, as well as the option to individually enable the menu.

WinFuture also provided a look at virtual desktops, each of which can be created to fit your needs—one for personal projects, another for work use, and more for family or entertainment. Similar to Apple's OS X platform, Windows users will have access to various workspaces and their open programs via a new taskbar icon.



September 12, 2014

Verizon Tips a La Carte Internet TV Service in 2015

Verizon Phoens Verizon is looking to roll out its Internet TV service by mid-2015, with an offering that will allow viewers to pick and choose the channels they want.

During a Thursday appearance at a Goldman Sachs technology conference, Verizon Communications chief Lowell McAdam said the service will likely include access to the "big four" broadcast networks, as well as "custom channels."

"No one wants to have 300 channels on your wireless device," McAdam said. "And I think everyone understands. It will go to a la carte."

Major cable and pay TV services have long resisted an "a la carte" approach that would let customers pick and choose the channels they want to pay for rather than pay for a bundle of 300+ channels. For about a decade, they have argued that a la carte would result in increased pricing and less channel diversity.

And while that probably won't change for traditional cable customers anytime soon, McAdam acknowledged that when it comes to the Web and mobile, a different approach is necessary.

"We do see that the millennials really want to look at...content over the iPads and other tablet devices and their smartphones," McAdam said. Attitudes in the industry about accessing content online is "changing dramatically," he said, and execs are more open to the idea now than they were two years ago.

"I don't think there is any one that would stand up here and say the only way it's going to be offered five years from now is linear and it's going to be tied to your TV set because frankly they will miss the market and they will be the ones left behind," McAdam said.

In January, Verizon Communications bought Intel's TV business for an undisclosed sum, picking up the intellectual property rights and other assets that powered Intel's OnCue Cloud TV platform. At the time, Verizon said it planned to integrate IP-based TV services with FiOS video as well as expand its mobile video offerings.

As for what type of custom channels viewers can expect, McAdam pointed to AwesomenessTV, which DreamWorks acquired last year, but didn't delve too much more into possible partners, except to say that they will probably be "out of the West Coast, where a lot of this is more home grown content."



September 4, 2014

Microsoft Tips New Version of Windows Phone, Lumia Denim

Lumia 830 BERLIN—Microsoft might license its Windows Phone OS to third-party manufacturers, but it really only wants you to buy Lumia devices. How do I know? Look no further than the new Lumia Denim update for Windows Phone 8.1, which the company announced at IFA on Thursday.

Lumia Denim—a much catchier name than Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2—combines the latest Windows Phone 8.1 update with exclusive enhancements for Lumia smartphones, particularly in the camera department. But I'll get to that in a moment.

Microsoft has introduced a feature called "Hey Cortana," which is a more convenient, hands-free way to activate Cortana, Microsoft's Siri-like voice assistant. All you have to do is say "Hey Cortana" and your phone will automatically be listening for you, even when it's in an idle state. Cortana is rolling out to new markets, too, including China, the U.K., Australia, India, and Canada.



September 1, 2014

Report: Apple Strikes Deal with American Express for iPhone 6 Mobile Paymens

Credit Cards

The Apple rumor mill continues as we get closer and closer to the company's September 9 event.

According to unnamed sources speaking to Recode, Apple has allegedly finalized a deal with American Express—just one of the partners Apple has to work with in order to launch a rumored new mobile payments platform. The end goal is to allow iPhone 6 owners to pay for goods and services using their phones, eliminating the need for credit cards, debit cards, or cash at certain retailers.

Of course, that does depend on which payment services Apple has signed up. It's also unclear just which retailers have agreed to participate in Apple's plans—we presume they would need some kind of technology to be able to extract the payment information from one's smartphone.

Nevertheless, that's another major partnership that Apple has brought on board. The Information previously reported that Apple has been successful in courting Visa as well. And it's widely rumored, though not confirmed, that Apple will indeed use NFC as the basis for its mobile payments. We can only presume that, somehow, Apple will also make use of a fingerprint verification system built into the phone itself for said payments—assuming Apple is continuing to employ Touch ID in the next iteration of iPhones.

It's certainly possible that Apple might scuttle the entire feature for its big September 9 reveal—or perhaps postpone its announcement until more partners have signed on board.

Still, it's been speculated that Apple has been very interested in somehow getting more use out of the millions of credit card records it currently has stored as a result of its customers' iTunes accounts. Allowing its iPhone owners to make use of that data in new and interesting ways seems like a natural evolution.

More importantly, having both Google and Apple finally playing in the same mobile payments space might bring some much-needed competition and attract the interest of even more retailers. For phone owners, that's a good thing—especially if you dream of a wallet-free future.



September 1, 2014

Report: Apple Pondering $400 Price Point for ‘iWatch’

Apple Sept. 9 Invite So, given the latest reports from 9to5Mac about Apple's aggressive public relations efforts, are the recent reports of the company's potential price for its new wearable true? False? A way to gauge consumer interest and backlash before Apple unveils the real price, if it even plans to do that at its upcoming September 9 event?

We'll leave that for you to decide. Right now, Recode is reporting that Apple is allegedly considering a $400 price for its to-be-revealed wearable (hereafter called the iWatch, even though that might not actually be the device's name). That's not the end-all, be-all price, however. Multiple versions of the device will allegedly cost "a range of prices," with some coming in under the $400 mark—if that ends up being the final price for one iteration of said iWatch.

Does that sound tentative? Yes. According to said sources, the price hasn't been finalized. There's no indication that it will even be finalized for the September 9 event where many presume Apple will be showing off its iWatch for the first time. And, as reports have recently suggested, there's no indication that Apple will even be able to start shipping the iWatch at any point this year. Those looking to get a first crack at the new wearable might have to wait until early 2015 to get their hands on one.

Nevertheless, if the $400 price point is true, that will be quite a bit higher than anything offered within Google's competing Android Wear smartwatches at this point. Will that ultimately matter? It remains to be seen—Apple has never been one to shy away from pricing its devices at what it feels makes the most sense, and its anxious fans aren't always that apprehensive about plunking down for new Apple products.

As for how Apple might differentiate between its various iWatch versions, that's anyone's guess at this point. It's been speculated that Apple might consider offering iWatches with different screen sizes, but there's only so much one can shave (or add to) a smartwatch before it becomes, well, less of a watch. In this case, Apple has to deal with fashion and form—a bit different of a beast than simply deciding to release two different sizes of a tablet, or laptop, or what-have-you.

And, as we mentioned up top, news of Apple pondering a $400 price point for its iWatch could all just be a clever ruse from the company to gauge interest (or hatred) as it works to finalize these details. That's Apple's PR machine for you—just one part of the company that's likely working a bit of overtime from now until early September.



August 28, 2014

Apple Sends Invites for Sept. 9 Event

Apple Sept. 9 Invite Apple on Thursday sent out invitations for a Sept. 9 event that is expected to include the launch of new iPhones and possibly the long-rumored iWatch.

"Please join Apple on September 9 for a special event," the invite says. "Wish we could say more."

As that message suggests, few other details were made available. The event information appears atop the traditional silver Apple logo, a bit of a change from last year's colorful invite, which hinted at Apple's multi-color iPhone 5c lineup. Things kick off at 10 a.m. PT in Cupertino.

Apple is widely expected to launch its next-gen iPhones next month. Rumor has it that Cupertino will release a 4.7-inch iPhone, as well as a 5.5-inch phablet for the first time. Though Apple chief Tim Cook has expressed doubts about phablets in the past, there's no question that phones with larger screens are all the rage at the moment. In some cases, they have eaten into small tablet market share as consumers look to save money and purchase just one device.

Whether Apple is finally ready to increase its phone sizes from 3.5 and 4 inches to 4.7 and 5.5 inches will be revealed on Sept. 9.

And while Apple's September events have largely focused on the iPhone in recent years, Re/Code this week reported that the Sept. 9 event will also include the launch of a new wearable - likely the iWatch.

The site, which also correctly predicted that Apple would hold its iPhone event on Sept. 9, said that Apple's wearable will tap into its new HealthKit and HomeKit e-health and home automation efforts.

New iPads are not expected to be revealed at the Sept. 9 event. For the past two years, Apple has held separate events in October to announce refreshes to its tablet lineup.



August 27, 2014

Report: iWatch Expected at Sept. 9 iPhone Event

iWatch Concept Apple is rumored to be hosting a Sept. 9 press event to show off its new iPhones, but a new report says that the iWatch will also makes it debut next month.

According to Re/code, Apple will "unveil a new wearable" at the Sept. 9 event alongside two new iPhones, which many believe will sport 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays.

Re/code did not specify that the device is indeed the iWatch, but said that the wearable will tap into Apple HealthKit and HomeKit, the e-health and connected home offerings Apple showed off at WWDC.

Re/code was also the one to report the Sept. 9 date. The staff, which was previously at All Things D, has a good track record when it comes to rumors about Apple events, so it's likely that a wearable is indeed on the agenda.

Of course, invites have yet to go out. They typically arrive about a week ahead of event, though, so be on the lookout next week.

Rumors about the iWatch, meanwhile, have been making the rounds for about two years. Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the D11 conference that wearables were "incredibly interesting," but didn't divulge Apple's plans, of course.

But the company has been snapping up executives with backgrounds in fashion, fitness gadgets, and watches - from Tag Heuer senior executive Patrick Pruniaux and Nike Fuel Band design director Ben Shaffer to retail chief Angela Ahrendts, who was previously at Burberry.



August 22, 2014

Report: Apple Display Changes Hold Up iPhone Production

Apple logo More reports of production problems with Apple's next-gen iPhone emerged this morning, with Reuters reporting that two suppliers are rushing to produce enough screens for the upcoming iPhone 6.

Production suffered a setback after the backlight that illuminates the phone's screen had to be revised, putting screen assembly on hold for part of June and July, Reuters said.

According to its sources, Cupertino wanted to slim down its smartphone by cutting the standard two layers of backlight film to only one. But the new format was not bright enough, and designers were sent back to the drawing board.

Still, it remains unclear whether the interruption will set the rest of production back, or if Apple will simply limit the number of phones initially available. According to Reuters, suppliers are working "flat-out to make up for lost time."

The news site tipped Japan Display, Sharp, and LG Display as iPhone 6 screen manufacturers. There is no word, however, whether those displays are made from the rumored sapphire glass.

Neither Apple nor those three companies immediately responded to request for comment.

Cupertino is rumored to be unveiling a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch handset during a Sept. 9 media event.

When it does make its debut, China Telecom will sell an unlocked version, ZDNet reported today.

Recently leaked photos highlight tapered edges connecting to a round rear shell—something more reminiscent of the iPod than recent iPhones. Other images suggested the 4.7-inch "iPhone 6" will run on a 1,810mAh lithium-ion polymer battery. The phablet-sized "iPhone 6L," meanwhile, will have a 2,915mAh battery.

Other rumors include a light-up logo for notifications, as well as a reversible USB plug, and only 1GB of RAM.