Microsoft says it will allow developers to incorporate Windows Vista graphics on older versions of Windows as well as other platforms, including Macs and cell phones. The company also announced a delay in the consumer launch of Windows Vista, saying that some PCs with the new operating system won't go on sale until January--well after the holiday buying season. The company said the "few week delays" would force some partners to sell PCs without the new operating system due to time constraints. CNET News.com reports that the company's Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere, or WPF/E is a user interface design software for operating systems other than Windows Vista. Microsoft plans to release a "community technology preview" of the software in third quarter of this year with a final release due in the first half of 2007; the final version will be available for the Mac, Windows 2000, Windows XP and mobile phones. Due along with the new Windows Vista OS, the Windows Presentation Foundation will allow developers to write graphically rich applications that include animations and three-dimensional objects. [updated]
TechSmith today introduced EnSharpen 1.1, an update to its QuickTime codec that allows Intel-based Macs to compress screen recordings such as multimedia tutorials, presentations, screencasts, and animated content for cross-platform playback via QuickTime. EnSharpen integrates with Camtasia Studio, QuickTime Pro, Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, Snapz Pro, iMovie and all other Macintosh and Windows authoring and editing tools that allow access to third-party video codecs for QuickTime. EnSharpen, a lossless video codec that enables high-quality and small-file video playback, is based on the TechSmith Screen Capture Codec (TSCC) found in the company’s Camtasia Studio software and is "the first delivery codec" to provide Macintosh users with lossless quality and a high compression ratio, according to the company.
Apple may be switching video iPod suppliers or adding more capacity, according to a new report. In its Wednesday edition, The Economic Daily News reported that Quanta Computer has secured contracts from Apple for the manufacture of video iPod devices. Inventec Appliances Corp is the current video iPod manufacturer. Quanta is already the world's leading contract maker of notebook personal computers, according to Forbes.com; the company recently also began manufacturing Apple’s MacBook Pro, according to a previously published report. The new report says that Quanta has won certification for its output and will begin delivery from next month -- the same time frame that some analysts expect a new version of Apple's high-end video iPod.
Apple today responded to the initial passing of the proposed French law that would force companies to open up their digital rights management (DRM) software for interoperability with other players and music services. Apple said the draft law would result in "state-sponsored piracy," according to a statement obtained by Reuters: "The French implementation of the EU Copyright Directive will result in state-sponsored piracy," Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris told the publication. "If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers." Although it opposes the law, Apple said the proposed law, which passed in the French National Assembly on Tuesday, would likely increase iPod sales: "iPod sales will likely increase as users freely upload their iPods with 'interoperable' music which cannot be adequately protected," Kerris said. "Free movies for iPods should not be far behind." Analysts have said that Apple will likely pull out of France before it opens up its FairPlay DRM to other companies.
In brief: OnMac.net has posted a narrated video containing step-by-step instructions on how to install Windows XP on an Intel-based Mac.... One user who claims to know many Apple ex-employees has posted a column regarding the company's enterprise support policies.... Piper Jaffray today said in a research note that France's move to pass its online copyright bill will only minimally impact Apple's business in the long haul.... The Washington Post today offered a short review of Apple's iPod Hi-Fi, noting specifically the digital audio port that allow users to plug the portable unit into a MacBook Pro.... Apple's managing director of the UK, Ireland, and Nordic Regions, Mark Rogers, is set to offer business leaders a peek into innovation at a Regent Associates function on June 8th.... iPods and iTunes downloads have been added to the list of goods used by the UK government as a standard for measuring inflation.
Onlife Public Beta 4 (free) allows users to visualize and keep a record of computer activities, with Public Beta 4 introducing a summary view, a content filter, a private mode, and Applescript support. The update is available as a Universal Binary, offering native compatibility with Apple's latest Intel-based Macs. A new item filter is configurable to selectively discard incoming items, and activities are now reset when the application launches. [Download - 807KB] MacDoppler 2.0 ($100) updates the satellite tracking software for Mac OS X, offering native support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. New features include automated internet download of keplerian elements, full predictive dead spot crossing to prevent pass interruption, and speech advisory of next satellite AOS as well as maximum elevation. The update offers built-in support for Satellite Gateway using Ontrak ADR101, and offers tuning dial tracking to tune the downlink from a radio's front panel while MacDoppler automatically adjusts the uplink. [Download - 30MB] PDFpen, PDFpenPro 2.3.3 ($50, $100 for Pro) updates the standard PDF editing and form-filling utility, as well as PDFpenPro, which creates fillable forms with new keyboard shortcuts and performance enhancements. The update affects both applications and includes additional keyboad shortcuts for highlighting, inserting a blank page, and the "go to page" feature. Version 2.3.3 incorporates updates essential for Intel compatibility as a Universal Binary, and provides various improvements as well as performance enhancements. [Download - 5.6MB (Standard) and 5.6MB (Pro)] SnapMeasure 1.0 ($15) is a plugin for Adobe Illustrator and CS which implements an improved measuring tool. SnapMeasure snaps with visual feedback to elements on the page, allows scrolling or zooming during a measure operation, offers an alternate measure line color for better visibility, and can optionally change the constrain angle and/or cursor key distance without the need to open the preferences window. The software requires Illustrator 10 running under Mac OS 9; or Illustrator 10, CS, or CS2 running under Mac OS X. [Download - 514KB] Avernum 4 for Mac 1.0.3 ($25) fixes a few bugs and improves overall system performance when playing the fantasy role-playing adventure game. Players wander the subterranean world of Avernum, full of numerous characters, hundreds of side quests, traps, tricks, and treasure. Players become involved in a shadowy war which will progress through strange lands, bandit cities, and the darkest depths of the underworld. [Download - 20.1MB]
Apple's lead in the digital music and video markets may be challenged by possible new services from Google and MTV, as well as mobile phone carriers and Apple's own stubbornness. According to CNNMoney.com, one analyst believes that Google will enter the online music industry with the launch of "Google Tunes." Bear Stearns internet analyst Robert Peck said the new Google offering could be launched in the next few months, although others believe that other services pose little risk to Apple. In addition, the report says that there has also been speculation that Google could buy its way into the market through a purchase of iTunes rival Napster. Meanwhile, one independent research firm believes that mobile phone networks pose a threat to Apple as well, while Forrester Research technology analyst Ted Schadler believes that Apple's iPod marketshare numbers are distorted and that it will need to build an all-in-one digital device to compete with offerings from competitors.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said that Disney content has surpassed 4 million downloads on iTunes since the company first began offering content in October of last year. Citing the evolution of TV content toward digital delivery, he said that the data point is indicative of the biggest change in the TV business: "Technology has transformed authority from the distributor and creator to the consumer. Today's consumer is more tech-savvy and governs how and when and at what price content is sent to them," according to a quote in TVWeek.com. The report says Iger, speaking at the TelecomNext show in Las Vegas, also credited ITunes for introducing the concept of new distribution windows, which he said Disney has been a proponent of, including re-evaluating distribution windows for content in general. Iger also said that the trend toward multiple and diverse platforms--including digital delivery from services such as iTunes--will further widen the divide between good and "inferior" programming.
Praevius has released SoftBooks Pro 2.0, an update to its full-featured Payroll and Business Management application for Mac OS X that includes functions for estimates, invoices, time tracking, ledger management, customer management, inventory/supply tracking, services, and category-based transactions. Version 2.0 now includes a full-featured Payroll Module to calculate Federal Income Tax, FICA, FUTA, Medicare, State Income Taxes, SUTA, SDI (where applicable), Local Taxes and Benefits. In addition, SoftBooks Pro also allows you to account for AEIC payments (Advanced Earned Income Credit). The software includes support for Daily, Weekly, BiWeekly, SemiMonthly and Monthly pay schedules, as well as support for the standard 0-10 withholding allowances. SoftBooks Pro now integrates with Mac OS X Address Book, offers interface improvements, and more. It is available for $130 and is a free upgrade for current owners. It requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later to run. [updated]
Radical Breeze today released Footlights 2.1, a free upgrade to its video playback and conversion software for Mac OS X. Footlights allows users to play videos using various options, such as transparent movie windows, full screen playback, adjustable playback speed, and more. Version 2.1 brings preferences to fully customize the look and feel of the thumbnail movie list, alongside preset styles for the thumbnail movie list. The update also includes a new "Save Current Frame As" menu option to save the current frame of the playing movie to a variety of picture formats. Footlights 2.1 is available for $15, and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later.
MacPractice and aMac today announced the integration of MacPractice DDS 2 with aMac's digital sensor, pan, and intraoral imaging solutions for general dentists and specialists. The Universal Binary applications provide native support for Intel-based Macs, and offer users the ability to utilize their software with the aMac Digital Radiography System as one seamless tool in their Mac-based dental offices. MacPractice features patient and insurance billing and tracking, EClaims, scheduling, integrated word processing, Rx, practice management reports, image storage and Perio charting. Version 2 features drill-down reports, reminders, an interface with PhoneHerald for automated appointment confirmation, schedule Transparencies for block time, enhanced technical support with built-in remote control, an enhanced tutorial with over 500 QuickTime movies, and an interface with MYOB. MacPractice DDS 2 is slated for general release over the next 10-30 days along with MacPractice MD 2 for physicians and MacPractice DC 2 for Chiropractors (pricing and system requirements were unavailable).
Apple this year has won a second significant contract for the large-scale deployment of laptops--this time in the state of Maine's school system. Apple has been selected as the top-scoring bidder for services and equipment for the four-year, 36,000 laptop Maine Learning Technology Initiative, following a request for proposals on January 13th, 2006. Apple will provide "portable computing devices with suitable basic applications" for all middle school students and teachers, along with upgraded wireless networks for all participating schools, appropriate server capacity, training and technical support. Earlier this year, Apple was chosen to supply Henrico County's middle school students with laptops, despite a lower bid from Dell.
Microsoft is developing a portable device that would play video games, music, and video that the company hopes will out-class Apple's fifth-generation video iPod. The device could debut as soon as the end of 2006, and several top Microsoft executives involved with the portable device's development who also worked on the Xbox 360 game console said Microsoft is very serious about catching up with Sony's PlayStation Portable hand-held game console, as well as Apple's iPod players, according to a report from CNN Money. Microsoft is already a major player in the home console market, and the company's early release of the Xbox 360 could make that device the new dominant player of home consoles. The Xbox 360 launched offering limited connectivity to many digital music players, revealing Microsoft's hope to integrate consumer's home entertainment systems with its own hardware products.
Analysts continue to have a strong outlook for Apple despite the potential of a sales slow down during the Intel transition and somewhat constrained supply of Apple's MacBook Pro laptops. Piper Jaffray Senior Analyst Gene Munster said that a slow production ramp for the MacBook Pro will likely constrain shipments during the March quarter, despite improving availability: "The Street has been concerned that production constraints for the MacBook Pro may spill over from the March quarter into the June quarter. Investors are aware that this issue has added risk to Mac estimates for March," Munster told clients. "While our checks suggest demand for the MacBook Pro is strong, ramping production has been slow. The Street is looking for 1.1-1.2 million Macs in the March quarter, but we believe the number will be in the 1.0-1.1 million range." Earlier today, American Technology Research warned that both consensus revenue and iPod unit estimates may be "unreastically high."
Apple likely will not be holding a special event for its 30th anniversary on or near April 1st, according to a new analyst report. UBS IT Hardware Analyst Ben Reitzes said that while he still expects Apple to introduce new products in the near-term, the company will not be holding a special event around its anniversary. "We continue to believe that Apple will introduce new Intel-based iBooks (important for education) and a larger MacBook Pro in the June quarter," Reitzes wrote to clients. "We forecast Mac units to improve in fiscal third quarter of 2006 (June) to -1 percent year over year from -9 percent year over year in the second quarter of 2006 (March). We still believe that a new video iPod, download service & new iPods are coming this year by the fall." Maintaining its current forecasts, the research firm said that the potential near-term risks for Mac and iPod sales are already reflected in shares. USB has a price target of $100.
French lawmakers approved an online copyright bill Tuesday that would require Apple to open its FairPlay digital rights management format that it uses for its iTunes music store and iPod players, according to The Associated Press. Lawmakers in the National Assembly, France's lower house, approved the bill 296-193. However, the law has yet to be debated and approved by the Senate--a process that would not begin until at least May, according to report. The "draft" law also would force Apple as well as others such as Sony to share proprietary copy-protection technologies so that rivals can offer compatible services and players. "Under the bill, companies would be required to reveal the secrets of hitherto-exclusive copy-protection technologies such as Apple's FairPlay format and the ATRAC3 code used by Sony's Connect store and Walkman players."
Yellow Mug Software today announced the release of EasyBatchPhoto 2.0, the Universal Binary version of its batch image processor. EasyBatchPhoto makes it easy to process a large set of images all at once. It supports format conversion, resizing, cropping, watermarking, etc. The software will recursively process sub-folders, supports true lossless JPEG operations, preserves JPEG/EXIF headers, and flexible on-the-fly renaming. "EasyBatchPhoto's stellar performance on the new Intel-based Macs is prompting us to accelerate our transition effort across our entire product line," said Yellow Mug's founder Jay Teo. EasyBatchPhoto runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or later, and is priced at $24.
Apple may be preparing to replace its high-end 60GB iPod with a new model, according to several reports, including a new research note from American Technology Research. The firm said that Apple earlier this month notified its resellers and distributors that the high-end video-capable 60GB iPod was "at risk," meaning that Apple could discontinue the product and/or replace the product at any time through the end of April. "Timing is not certain to us, but we believe a new widescreen video iPod with Bluetooth headphones could be ready as early as the June quarter," analyst Shaw Wu of told clients. The note also mentioned the near completion of the transition to Intel-based iMacs, as Apple finally removed the 20-inch iMac from its online store, improving supply of the MacBook Pro, "lukewarm" sales of the Intel-based Mac mini, and a strong seasonal decline in iPod nano sales.
Toon Boom Animation today announced the release of Toon Boom Studio V3 for Intel-based Macs. Toon Boom Studio offers a rich animation toolset that works with QuickTime and Final Cut Pro and is a complete solution for developing high quality animations on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. “In test comparisons between a PowerPC G5 and Intel Core Duo iMac the new Universal version of Toon Boom Studio ran up to 2.5 times faster so we’re excited to see what will be created with the latest Toon Boom Studio." The Toon Boom Studio V3 Universal Binary release is available now for $400 (before a special 25 perent discount through the end of March) and is a free upgrade to registered v3 customers. A Universal version of Toon Boom Studio Express V3 is slated to be available April 2006.
Other World Computing today lowered the price on NewerTech's miniStack V2 external storage solution and FireWire and USB 2.0 port expander. The NewerTech miniStack features up to 500GB of high-speed bootable storage; integrated, powered FireWire and USB 2.0 hubs; intelligent thermal monitoring; and auto power convenience (along with manual controls). The miniStack v2 is perfectly matched to the exact footprint, aesthetic design engineering, and color configuration of the Mac mini and Intel-based Mac mini, according to the company. Pricing has been lowered by up to $20 and is available ranging from $130 (80GB) to $440 (500GB). All NewerTech miniStack V2 solutions include FireWire and USB cabling, Intech HD Speedtools, EMC Retrospect backup software, and a full 2-year NewerTech Warranty. The NewerTech miniStack V2 also is available without a hard drive in a 0GB 'Add Your Own Hard Drive' enclosure kit for $80.
Quantam has introduced the DLT-S4, a tape drive designed to meet the demands of emerging tiered storage architectures. The new drive delivers 1.6TB of storage capacity per cartridge compressed or 800GB native, and costs six cents per gigabyte. The DLT-S4 features Quantum's DLTSageTM, a suite of intelligent data protection tools that includes DLTSage WORM (Write Once, Read Many) and DLTSage Tape Security. DLTSage WORM is designed to meet the regulatory compliance requirements for unalterable long-term data storage, using a standard tape cartridge. DLTSage Tape Security prevents unauthorized access to data on tape cartridges, and is designed to be particularly useful should tapes be lost or stolen. The DLT-S4 is available as both a standalone tape drive and for Quantum's PX720 enterprise tape library, with a standalone tape drive priced $5,000. Single DLTtape S4 cartridges cost $100 each. DLT-S4 is expected to be available in Quantum's PX500 Series midrange tape libraries and the SuperLoader 3 autoloader next quarter.
In Brief: Apple's MacBook Pro notebook, featuring an Intel Core Duo processor, is now available in the Middle East (following better availability from the Apple Store).... Scheduled concurrently with MacExpo, the first iPod event in Amsterdam RAI includes a 'French kiss' iPod party as well as seminars on podcasting, and other speakers about Apple's popular music player.... Iconkits.com has released a stock icons set of 40 useful add on icons ($70) to extend the original Lugo Base Kit ($200) collection, which are "rendered with bold borders and sweet gradients in fun colors."... The Fast Icon Studio recently released a new stock icon collection called Aqua Land Vector Icons ($450), which is developed in Aqua style and includes 165 icons for toolbars and navigational elements.... Mark/Space says it is "hard at work" on "universal" versions of The Missing Sync for Palm OS and The Missing Sync for Windows Mobile.... iPods and iTunes downloads have been added to the list of goods used by the UK government as a standard for measuring inflation.... Belkin on Monday announced its new TunePower for iPod (shown at right), a new black battery pack for Apple's popular music/video device that keeps users' videos and tunes playing even when the internal battery is drained.
iPods and iTunes downloads have been added to the list of goods used by the UK government as a standard for measuring inflation, according to Macworld UK. "The 650-product list is maintained by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and it aims to measure the fluctuations in prices paid by the UK population. ONS collects about 120,000 prices every month for a 'shopping basket' of about 650 goods and services. It uses the change in price of those items to compile its main measures of inflation: the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and Retail Prices Index (RPI). The Bank of England uses the CPI as its inflation target while the RPI is used to uprate many state benefits."
Autodesk today announced its MotionBuilder 7.5 character animation software. Designed for motion capture, the software features real-time productivity tools for creating sophisticated 3D characters. MotionBuilder software includes real-time architecture, animation layering, a unified Story Timeline development environment, instant retargeting of animation data, the ability to stream and record live device data, and integration into Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya workflows. Version 7.5 features a new keyframe-centric workflows for streamlined keyframe animation, including advanced timeline editing, a new Undo system and enhanced posing and mirroring of character extensions. It also features quicker setup and animation of a wider range of character types, easy transfer of mirrored poses of one character extension to another, and fast setup of complex multiple character interactions. It is available now to MotionBuilder Platinum Members and will ship later this month for $4,200 (locked) for $4,800 (floating).
QuickerTek's MacBook Pro Connect is a new antenna for the new MacBook Pro, allowing users to add wireless networking to the new MacBook Pro without wires. "Many antenna products require that you open the computer case to attach cables to the internal wireless card. MacBook Pro Connect eliminates this requirement - making improved wireless performance within the reach of every MacBook Pro user. It is available in two versions - one powered by either the included AC power adapter or through USB and the other is powered through an internal battery ($230 model). "The Connect product is perfect for MacBook Pro users because it delivers on the Mac's legendary 'ease of use' promise. No wires, no surgery and no hassle. It also extends the accelerated performance levels that has made the MacBook Pro such as hit," according to the company. MacBook Pro Connect is available now for $200 from QuickerTek dealers.
Now AAPL Stock: 100.35 ( -0.06 )
Trade-up program expands in Europe
Smartphone users in France, Italy, and Spain will have until at least August of this year to trade in old iPhone, Windows Phone, or Android models at Apple Stores, and put the reward towards a new iPhone -- thanks to an expansion of Apple's trade-in program into those countries. The money given for the trade-in must be applied towards a new iPhone on a two-year payment plane, and traders must qualify under a credit check as part of the program. Interested customers can apply for the trade-in at their nearest Apple Store. http://bit.ly/1qPsldD
NBCUniversal adds Bravo, Syfy, E! to Apple TV
NBCUniversal has launched three new apps channels for Apple TV users. Bravo Now, Syfy Now and E! Now brings users access full seasons of current and past episodes of most of NBCUniversal's catalog. The Bravo Now app includes shows like "The Real Housewives of New York Cit," "Below Deck Mediterranean," comedy "Odd Mom Out" and "Top Chef." The Syfy Now app offers up shows like "The Magicians," thriller "12 Monkeys" and the reality show "Face Off." The E! Now app serves up shows like "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," "Botched," "#RichKids of Beverly Hills," Caitlyn Jenner's "I Am Cait," and "WAGS." While some content is free, most content requires users to authenticate via their cable satellite or telco TV provider. http://bit.ly/20K4Pea
Apple rolls out Arabic version of Apple.com
Apple has rolled out a new version of its Apple.com website for Arabic language users in the United Arab Emirates. The site utilizes a right-to-left reading format where it has been updated, although the upgrade is still in progress with a number of page links still in the original English language left-to-right format. Of particular note is that the site debuts an all-new custom Arabic font created by the Tarek Atrissi Design agency, giving it a highly contemporary look and feel. The new support for Arabic on its host website follows the introduction of full support for right-to-left languages in iOS 9, and the addition of Arabic support to Siri late last year. http://apple.co/20JHGIM
Adobe previews Photoshop content-aware crop
Adobe has previewed a new 'content-aware crop' feature from the next version of its Photoshop CC. The new feature is similar to its 'content-aware fill' from the current version of Photoshop CC, and potentially saves users time when cropping photos in a way that might otherwise leave blank white space in the frame. Adobe's 'content-aware' tech automatically assesses the blank space and seamlessly fills the blank space with the nearest related content in the space when a photo is expanded or rotated without the need to manually clone that part of the image. The feature allows users to move a horizon by adding more sky or ground, change the aspect ratio by adding content around the edges of the image and fill in the corners of an image when rotated during a crop. Adobe says the feature is coming soon and will be automatically available to Creative Cloud subscribers. http://adobe.ly/20JDFEu
Markzware updates Q2ID for QuarkXPress 12 files
Graphic design file conversion tool maker Markzware has launched a new version of its Q2ID tool. The InDesign plugin enables users to open QuarkXPress files within a new InDesign (INDD) document, without rebuilding the QXP document from scratch -- the new version includes support for QuarkXPress 12 files. Q2ID Subscription members can download the new version as part of their annual plan. A single-user can purchase the plugin for $200, with other licensing options available. http://bit.ly/1Z4dS9t
PopChar X 7.5 arrives
Ergonis Software has released PopChar X 7.5, an improved version of the company's tool for finding and inserting special characters and exploring fonts. PopChar X 7.5 adds support for combined emojis in the Apple Color Emoji font, enhances the "Font Info" view, and adds many further enhancements that improve overall speed and stability. PopChar X 7.5 retails for â‚¬30 ($34), and is free for anyone who owns a license for PopChar X 7 or purchased a license for PopChar X 6 on or after March 1, 2014 [4.5MB]
Safari Technology Preview release 5 arrives