Digital Zone 222: Windows 95 Forever

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In this edition of the Digital Zone, we talked about:

  • Windows 95 turns 15
  • Apple applies for ‘kill switch’ patent
  • iPhone on Sprint and T-Mobile first
  • Foxconn to hire 400,000 new employees
  • MicroHoo becomes official
  • Oracle sues Google
  • Glasses-less 3D television
  • Google’s ‘Live’ search
  • Verizon’s gaming portal
  • Dell’s ‘Streak’ and ‘Aero’ phones
  • HP, Dell in bidding war
  • Intel buys McAfee

Microsoft’s Windows 95 turned 15 today. Its launch campaign included an ad blitz with the Rolling Stones song “Start Me Up” and ultimately saw Microsoft spend $300 million on marketing. It introduced true multitasking as well as 32-bit computing with long file names and a much stronger emphasis on media playback. The Mac OS wouldn’t support full multitasking until the release of Mac OS X in 2001. Windows 95 is credited with cementing Microsoft’s monopoly position in the desktop operating space. Windows 7 is the fastest-selling release ever at 175 million copies in less than a year.

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Apple has applied for a patent that could deactivate iPhones or other devices when it believes the device is being used illegitimately or by unauthorized users—and the devices could make these determinations both by how the device is being used, but also through biometric information like a user’s face, voice, and even their heartbeat. The patent targets a number of behaviors Apple describes as compromising or hacking a device, including removing the SIM card, unlocking, jailbreaking, and even moving a predetermined distance from a synced device. The patent also identifies a number of methodologies for determining whether a user is legitimate, including photographing the user and applying facial recognition software, analyzing their voice, and analyzing a users’ heartbeat using a “heartbeat sensor.” The technology could also be used to wipe sensitive information—address books, email, passwords, account details, and those sensitive text messages—if it detects an unauthorized user. Other implementations could have the device go into spy mode, recording and reporting the users’ activities, including sending pictures of the current user to a remote service, along with keylogs, location information, and data traffic. The Library of Congress recently ruled that jailbreaking mobile phones to switch carriers or add unauthorized applications is not a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Apple’s iPhone could come to Sprint or T-Mobile first, according to one analyst, saying Apple and Verizon Wireless are still negotiating important details for the iPhone, “including technology and economics.” Existing iPhones can technically run on T-Mobile already, and the phone’s chip would need a relatively small modification to support 3G on T-Mobile’s network. Verizon is having success sellling Android phones from Motorola and HTC, and the amount Apple charges AT&T will drop once exclusivity ends. If Apple doesn’t get what they want, they will look to other carriers who will pay more, resulting in bigger profits per sale.

Foxconn said it would hire 400,000 workers at new plants in China and will be built closer to the new employees’ homes. The company’s revenue has increased 50 percent and will grow the company to 1.2 and 1.3 million employees. The company also said is also improving meals and providing more entertainment areas to boost morale and help to reduce the suicide rates.

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Google is reportedly testing a “live search” feature where search results are updated in real time as you type. The “live” or “streaming” search works off of Google’s search suggestions feature. As you type each letter of your search term, Google gives you suggestions for what it thinks you’re trying to search for. The “live” search takes it one step further — instead of just updating the suggestions, it updates the actual search results as you go along. So, that means that the entire page of results will change with each letter you type.

Oracle sued Google alleging patent and copyright infringement in the development of the Android operating system. The suit claims that Google “knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property” in developing Android. Oracle acquired Java when it paid $5.6 billion for Sun Microsystems. The Oracle suite could signal that they intend to be more aggressive in seeking licensees for Java. The Android operating system uses Java technology.

Microsoft is now powering Yahoo’s search engine in the U.S. and Canada. The two companies completed the transition Tuesday, 13 months after announcing their deal. The shift in other countries will occur in 2011 and 2012. Microsoft is hoping to get better at understanding people’s search requests as it picks up more traffic from Yahoo.

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Toshiba said it is developing technology for a 3-D television that won’t require special glasses and could start selling the TV by the end of 2010. The company said the technology involves transmitting different images at various angles to create an illusion of dimension and depth.

Dell said its Aero smart phone is now on sale in the U.S. for $99 with a two-year AT&T contract. The Dell Aero uses an older version of the Android operating system, version 1.5. The Aero has a 3.5-inch touch screen and a 5-megapixel camera, and it has photo and video editing functions built in. Dell says the Aero can sync with Windows Media Player and music without copy protection from iTunes. Dell’s ‘Streak,’ also sold through AT&T costs $300 with a two-year contract or $550 without, has a 5-inch screen.

Verizon revamped its online game portal, unveiling a new desktop app that will provide access to 1,500 games for $15 per month. Verizon Games, available at games.verizon.com, provides access to PC games and will give users limited access to 450 games will cost $4.99 per month. Both packages provide a free, 7-day trial, and there is also a “one-hour test drive” option, and the ability to purchase single games.

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