Friday, June 12, 2009

Microsoft To Release Free Anti-Virus Software Morro Soon

Microsoft is about to release a first public beta version of their new free anti-virus software program Morro which is supposed to fill the gap left by the Microsoft One Care demise. Morro seems to be concentrating on being an anti-virus software program without additional modules that allow a user to create backups or use a firewall for extra protection. Those extra modules are on the other hand already available in the Windows 7 operating system which makes Morro the ideal candidate to fill the one layer of protection that is not already shipping with Windows 7: Anti-virus protection.

Microsoft has said it will provide protection from several types of malicious software including viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans.

It is not yet clear how Morro will run along with Windows Defender. It basically seems that Morro will be Windows Defender with added capabilities to detect and remove viruses, rootkits and trojans as well as spyware. The anti-virus software is expected to enter public beta stage in the coming months with no exact date given yet.

Which leads to the closing question: Which (if any) anti-virus software programs are you using on Windows 7?

Archos Launch 9″ Windows 7 Tablet UMPC

Archos launched yesterday in France a very sexy looking 9″ Windows 7 Tablet UMPC.

For 500 Euros you will get:

Windows 7 with the Intel Atom Z515 (800/1200Mz CPU)
Expected to be multi-touch
Update: 1GB (DDR2 400/533)
1024×600 screen
800gm, 256mm x 134mm x 16mm
Bluetooth 2.1
802.11b/g
1.3MP webcam
120GB.
3G Tuner Diversity (dual) tuner. 3G Option, 9″
ethernet 10/100
external mic, stereo speakers, vga out, 1.3mp webcam

That should be more than match the min spec to run Windows 7.

Microsoft Set to Release Windows 7 without Internet Explorer in Europe

Microsoft Corp. plans to remove Internet Explorer browser from the versions of Windows 7 operating system that will be sold in the European Union. The company reportedly said that the move is set to be made in order to remain “compliant” with the laws of the EU. Microsoft reportedly offers PC makers to install Internet Explorer (IE) onto the PCs themselves.

“To ensure that Microsoft is in compliance with European law, Microsoft will be releasing a separate version of Windows 7 for distribution in Europe that will not include Windows Internet Explorer. Microsoft will offer IE8 separately and free of charge and will make it easy and convenient for PC manufacturers to preinstall IE 8 on Windows 7 machines in Europe if they so choose. PC manufacturers may choose to install an alternative browser instead of IE 8, and has always been the case, they may install multiple browsers if they wish,” a memo to PC makers sent by Microsoft reads, claims Cnet News.com web-site. 

Microsoft reportedly confirmed the authenticity of the document, but declined to comment further.

Developers of “alternative” browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox or Opera, have been complaining for many years that integration of Internet Explorer into dominant Microsoft Windows operating system also ensures leadership position of the browser. Several courts backed allegations of Mozilla and others against Microsoft.

It is not clear why manufacturers of pocket calculators do not sue Microsoft and cell phone manufacturers for integrating calculator software into their products.

It is interesting to note that Microsoft has always claimed that Internet browser is an integral part of its operating systems and cannot be removed easily. However, the company claims it was virtually forced by preliminary decision of the European Commission, which found that integration of own Internet browser into Windows operating system is against antitrust laws.

“Microsoft will not offer for distribution in the European territory the Windows 7 product versions that contain IE, which are intended for distribution in the rest of the world. This will apply to both OEM and Retail versions of Windows 7 products,” the memory reads.

It is not exactly clear how end-users should download Internet Explorer, or Mozilla Firefox, without an Internet browser available in the operating system during the age of the World Wide Web. But Microsoft claims that the solution should be found with the European Commission.

“Our decision to only offer IE separately from Windows 7 in Europe cannot, of course, preclude the possibility of alternative approaches emerging through Commission processes. Other alternatives have been raised in the Commission proceedings, including possible inclusion in Windows 7 of alternative browsers or a “ballot screen” that would prompt users to choose from a specific set of Web browsers. Important details of these approaches would need to be worked out in coordination with the Commission, since they would have a significant impact on computer manufacturers and Web browser vendors, whose interests may differ. Given the complexity and competing interests, we don’t believe it would be best for us to adopt such an approach unilaterally,” commented Dave Heiner, vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft. 

ATI to Boost Efficiency of Multi-GPU Operation in OpenGL

Graphics sub-systems with numerous graphics processing units (GPUs) have existed for more than one decade and in the recent years leading developers of graphics processing units – ATI, graphics business group of Advanced Micro Devices, and Nvidia Corp. – resurrected graphics boards with two chips. So far multi-GPU operation relied mostly on drivers from ATI or Nvidia. But the recent OpenGL extension from ATI allows game developers to optimize their titles for multi-chip rendering.

There is currently no way for applications to efficiently use GPU resources in systems that contain more than one GPU. Hardware developers have provided methods that attempt to split the workload for an application among the available GPU resources, but this has proven to be rather inefficient since most applications were never written with these sorts of optimizations in mind, e.g. alternate frame rendering, split frame rendering or tiled rendering.

The new “WGL_AMD_gpu_association” provides a mechanism for applications to explicitly use the GPU resources on a given system individually. By providing this functionality, a driver allows applications to make appropriate decisions regarding where and when to distribute rendering tasks. In particular, when multiple GPUs are present, a context can be created for off-screen rendering that is associated with a specific GPU. This will allow applications to achieve an app-specific distributed GPU utilization.

An interesting thing that Geeks3D.com web-site pointed out is that a similar OpenGL extension (NVIDIA’s WGL_NV_gpu_affinity) is also offered by Nvidia: an application can bind an OpenGL render context to a specific GPU once several graphics chips are. However, Nvidia only offers this extension for its Nvidia Quadro professional graphics cards, whereas ATI provides its extension both for Fire-series professional cards as well as for Radeon-series consumer graphics boards.

WGL_AMD_gpu_association is currently supported by ATI Catalyst 9.6 beta drivers. Applications have to support the extension to gain performance benefit out of multi-GPU configurations.

It is interesting to note that the forthcoming Microsoft DirectX 11 application programming interface (API) does not have any multi-GPU specific optimizations.

Corsair Memory Updates Cooling Systems of Memory Modules

Corsair Memory, a leading producer of superior memory products, on Wednesday unveiled an update for cooling solution for its premium memory modules that it has been using for three years. The company hopes that improved coolers will help to further boost performance of memory modules.

From now on, Corsair’s Dominator and Dominator GT memory modules may be optionally equipped with DHX+ (dual-path heat eXchange) coolers featuring extended cooling fins. The DHX technology allows to cool down memory chips from the back and from the front, like any conventional heat-spreaders, as well as take the heat away from print-circuit board (PCB), which incorporates some additional elements to remove heat from BGA memory chips.

The extended cooling fins are engineered using high-grade aluminum that is extruded and machined, and have more than double the surface area of the standard Dominator and Dominator GT fins. In addition, the racing-inspired red Dominator GT fins are coated with a phase –change thermally conductive polymer that expels air pockets in the micropores of the heatsink surface, optimizing overall thermal resistance.

At present the extended fins are exclusively available from Corsair’s online store and are priced at $19.99 for the black fins and $24.99 for the racing-red GT fins. They are sold in packs of three, which include extended fan brackets to maintain compatibility with the Corsair Airflow and Airflow 2 memory coolers. Considering that hardly a lot of enthusiasts are going to upgrade coolers on memory modules, it is very likely that shortly Dominator and Dominator GT products will come with extended fins by default.

“The extended cooling fins for Dominator and Dominator GT memory kits have been designed with an aggressive, high-performance look for enthusiasts and gamers who want to upgrade their memory to stand out from the crowd. By choosing Corsair Dominator or Dominator GT, you not only get the highest-performing memory in the world, but also the most distinctive and customizable memory too,” said Jim Carlton, vice president of marketing for Corsair.

ATI Drops the Price of ATI Radeon HD 4800 For the Third Time This Year

ATI, graphics business unit of Advanced Micro Devices, on Thursday announced third price-cut on its flagship ATI Radeon HD 4800-series graphics cards this year. The price drop is not really dramatic, but the company hopes that it will be enough to improve competitive position of the product family.

“ATI partners are offering fantastic deals on ATI Radeon HD 4800-class GPUs. This is great news for gamers contemplating upgrading their current graphics card,” said, Jay Marsden, a spokesperson for ATI/AMD.

From now on, official price of the ATI Radeon HD 4850 512MB will be $109, ATI Radeon HD 4850 1GB will be priced at $119, the price of the ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB will vary between $125 and $175, ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB will be available for $159 and the ATI Radeon HD 4790 1GB will be sold for around $200 and upwards. New recommended pricing was not announced for ATI Radeon HD 4830, 4870 X2 as well as proprietary graphics cards now available widely, such as ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2.

At present U.S. online stores, such as Newegg.com, are beginning to offer the aforementioned graphics cards at the prices noted above. Traditionally, price-cuts will take effect in Europe and Asia several weeks later.

ATI cuts prices on its mainstream lineup in order to respond to the global economic recession as well as to better compete against arch-rival Nvidia Corp. and its mainstream GeForce line.

Apple Updates iPhone Family with iPhone 3G S Model

Apple this week updated its iPhone lineup with new models that the company calls 3G S. The two new phones feature similar design with the previous generations of iPhones, but add missed capabilities, performance and battery life. The iPhone 3G S models will hardly become a new revolution, but will allow certain users to obtain better experience with the device. In addition, Apple lowered the price for the iPhone 3G.

“iPhone 3G S is the fastest, most powerful iPhone yet and we think people will love the incredible new features including autofocus camera, video recording and the freedom of voice control,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.

Apple iPhone 3G S is very similar to the 3G model and features almost the same 3.5” touch-screen with 480x320 resolution, which now comes with special covering that should mask fingerprints. The main differences compared to the existing models is 600MHz ARM Cortex A8 microprocessor that enables higher performance of applications, PowerVR SGX graphics core that provide better performance of graphics as well as 256MB of random access memory (vs. 128MB of earlier models). Besides, Apple promises longer battery life for the new iPhone 3G S as compared to predecessors.

Less important differences are 3.0MP camera with autofocus and macro shooting support, a new built-in digital compass for instant navigation, voice control support and some other improvements. The iPhone 3G S also includes support for quad-band GSM, EDGE, UMTS, 7.2Mb/s HSDPA, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless technologies. Traditionally, the 3G S model sports audio and video playback capabilities, assisted GPS function and so on.

Apple iPhone 3G S will be available in the US on June 19 for a suggested retail price of $199 for the 16GB model and just $299 for the new 32GB model in both Apple and AT&T’s retail and online stores, Best Buy and Wal-Mart stores. iPhone 3G S requires a new two year contract with AT&T for qualifying customers.

A lot of new features of the iPhone 3G S are enabled by iPhone 3.0 software platform, which will be available for owners of existing iPhones as well. iPhone OS 3.0 software will be available on June 17 as a free software update via iTunes 8.2 or later for all iPhone customers.

Beginning June 8, iPhone 3G will be available for $99 for the 8GB model provided that a user signs a contract with AT&T in the U.S.

“With a breakthrough price of $99, we are thrilled to get iPhone 3G into the hands of even more users who want them,” said Mr. Schiller.