Archive for the ‘ Computers and Internet ’ Category

A Brief Comparison of Upgrade Support Between Phone OSs

Much todo has been made about the recent decision to not provide upgrades to Windows Phone 8 for existing devices.  Indeed some of this criticism is warranted but I think before we go further, we need to put this into perspective.  Many references have been made to Apple’s rather good track record of providing OS updates for existing devices so let’s start there.

The iPhone released June 29th 2007, the last OS update for that phone was released Feb 2 2010, so it recieved 950 days of upgrade support.

The iPhone 3G released July 11th 2008 and the last OS upgrade it was eligible for was Nov 22 2010, so it got 865 days of upgrade support.

The iPhone 3GS was released June 8th 2009.  As of today it is still getting OS updates, but the last one was May 7th 2012 giving it at least 1065 days of upgrade support.  iOS6 comes out much later in 2012 so obviously this number will increase.

The 4 and 4S released in 2010 and 2011 and show no immediate signs of losing OS support.

So with those numbers in mind how does Android do?  This is a difficult one to peg down, because so many different manufacturers offered varying amounts of support.  Let’s take the reference design from Google, the Nexus line, and see how it fairs:

The first “Google Phone” was actually a reference design from Google/HTC released by T-Mobile as the G1.  This phone released October 22 2008.  The last OS it was -officially- eligible for was released September 15th 2009 giving the phone just 329 days of support.

The next reference design, the Nexus One released Jan 5th 2010, the last official update it recieved was September 2 2011, giving it 606 days of upgrade support.

The Nexus S released December 16th 2010.  It recieved its latest upgrade March 29th 2012 and continues to get updates for the forseable future…thus far giving it 470 days of official support.

So now that we have an idea of those OS support histories, what of Windows Phone?   The first Windows Phone devices released in Europe October 21st 2010.  If we presume that the 7.8  update will release after Windows Phone 8 (speculated as late Sept/Oct) this will mean devices at release will have had approximately 2 years of OS support or 730 days. Other markets released shortly afterwards in 2010 (November for US) so the time frame here is roughly the same.  We also don’t know if 7.8 will be the last update, I’m guessing it probably will be though.  From a support standpoint however it is very plausible we could see 7.8.x updates into 2013.

This puts Windows phone behind Apple’s support schedule but looking MUCH better than Android’s support schedule.  I will not go into the fact that each subsequent Apple iOS releases excluded features for earlier devices.  There are still lingering issues however.

One of the common complaints is that people buying Windows Phones in the last few months have been abandoned.  Indeed, the Titan II and Lumia 900 were only released mere months ago.  The Samsung Focus 2 released only weeks ago.  So for these new phone owners, their lifecycle support is drastically reduced to a few hundred days, if that.

There are certain Android device makers that have done the same thing however.  Samsung, Sony, and LG to name a few have released 2.3.x devices most recently that are not upgradeable to the latest Android 4.0 release.  One difference however is that they are not limited by Google to provide this update, they simply choose not to.  Microsoft on the other hand is defining this hard cutoff for device makers, giving no recourse for customers to pressure the device OEM for an upgrade.

This may be the largest fracture for recent Windows Phone adopters, which by recent numbers, make up a huge bulk of the Windows Phone user base.  Users who bought launch devices are vastly outnumbered by post-Mango buyers simply from the fact that Nokia is the largest Windows Phone OEM now, and has only released 7.5 devices.  How these users will react remains to be seen, however it can be safely assumed that the upgrade announcement has killed sales until the fall.

So in summary:

iPhone       950 d
iPhone 3G 865 d
iPhone 3GS 1065+ d

Google/HTC G1  329 d
Nexus One           606d
Nexus S                470+ d

Windows Phone (first devices) 730+ d (est), possibly continued support?

Microsoft has struck a healthy balance it appears on paper it seems, if not in the minds of their customers.  Microsoft can never hope to attain device support tenures to the length of Apple’s, as it does not control device release schedules for the various OEMs.  It can and has provided better support than Android reference designs.  I would speculate that it also has had a better support lifecycle that the average times for all Android OEMs.  Going forward, Microsoft has committed to an 18 month support cycle for devices, but as of right now it is unclear if this means from the release of the major OS revision, or when a device actually ships.

Microsoft needs to do something to relieve the angst held by the late cycle Windows Phone owners.  Providing a very complete 7.8 update would go a long ways towards this.  By complete, we are talking IE10, Wallet features (even NFC Wallet for the Lumia 610), replacing the maps with Nokia Maps along with the enhanced Local Scout improvements, additional Bluetooth and networking support (VPN), and improved support for Skype et al.

For all devices, OEMs need to also be mindful of curing any and all lingering hardware bugs (Dell compass, HTC memory crashes) so that customers can really feel like they have reached the pinnacle of their device’s performance.

Windows Phone 7.8 needs to see devices going out with a bang, the absolute best they can be, while still providing the smooth user experience we have come to expect.

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Does Windows Phone 7.5 now offer the best Exchange experience?

When Windows Phone released in 2010 it was widely panned by the business community for lacking the feature sets businesses had come to expect with Exchange and Windows Mobile 6.5.  Indeed, with every release of Exchange, the next release of Windows Mobile would almost always support the full functionality of Exchange. 

To exacerbate the situation iPhone licensed certain Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) policies from Microsoft which put them ahead of the initial Windows Phone release in regards to EAS.

With the release of Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango), support for several EAS policies came as well.  I believe it is important to now contrast these improvements between the latest versions of operating systems on the three major platforms.  I will go through the current list of support provided by Wikipedia and have discussion points of the specific Windows Phone discrepancies as current of Feb 1 2012.  For this exercise we are going to only discuss Windows Phone 7.5 as there is simply no reason why you would not be upgraded to Mango at this point.

Company
Microsoft Apple Google
Product Windows Phone[4] iPhone/iPod (iOS)[5] Android
Version 7.5 5 4
Mango Ice Cream
  Sandwich
Exchange ActiveSync 2.5 – Exchange Server 2003 SP2
Features:
Direct Push Yes Yes Yes
Email sync Yes Yes Yes
Calendar sync Yes Yes Yes
Contacts sync Yes Yes Yes
Tasks Sync Yes Yes No
Remote wipe Yes Yes Yes
Sync multiple folders Yes Yes Yes
GAL lookup Yes Yes2 Yes
SSL encrypted transmission Yes Yes Yes

With what we would regard as basic EAS support, or 2.5, pretty much across the board all phones support full features.  Chuckles do go out to the fact that Android 4.0 still cannot sync tasks from Exchange.  GAL lookup on iOS only returns basic information for the user instead of the full contact info on Windows Phone.  It is safe to say that Windows Phone offers the best EAS 2.5 support.

Exchange ActiveSync 12.0 – Exchange Server 2007
Features:
User started remote wipe (server side) Yes Yes Yes
Link Access No No No
HTML email Yes Yes Yes
Server Search Yes Yes Yes
Set Out of Facility/Office (OOF) Yes No No
Follow-up flags Yes No Yes15
Meeting attendee information Yes Yes No
PIN reset No No No
AutoDiscover Yes Yes Yes
Bandwidth reduction Yes Yes Yes
Policies:
Allow attachment download (client side) No Yes Yes
Maximum attachment size No No Yes
Enable password recovery No No No
Allow simple password Yes Yes Yes
Password expiration (days) Yes Yes Yes
Enforce password history Yes Yes Yes
Encrypt storage card No N/A No

 

With Exchange 2007, the EAS version jumps to 12, to match the version of Exchange itself.  Feature wise none of the operating systems support Link Access or reset PIN.  Link Access allows Exchange to proxy through links to SharePoint and UNC files without need to use a VPN.  I do have to take exception with the information provided by Wikipedia as I have personally witnessed and performed access to a file via Exchange email.  None of the OSs support the ability for Exchange to reset the lock screen PIN.  With 7.5, Windows Phone offers a leg up on the competition by having the ability to set Out of Office replies directly on the phone as well as set and sync follow up flags in mail (which iOS cannot do)  Windows Phone can also view meeting attendees which Android does not do.

In regards to EAS 12 policies Windows Phone does not support the policy “Allow Attachment Download”, this policy allows the phone user to choose whether to download the entire message with attachments or not.  Since the Windows Phone user has the ability to do this manually in each message, support of this functionality is unnecessary, although other OSs will respond “True” to a query from the server.  Lilewise, neither Windows Phone or iOS will respond to a Maximum Attachment Size query from the server.

Windows Phone does not support the policy to encrypt storage cards.  This is an issue that has been mentioned before by enterprise security pundits.  It should be known that only one Windows Phone to date has supported a user removable storage card, the Samsung Focus which uses the SD Card Association encryption scheme to encrypt and pair itself with the card.  Removing this card from the phone resets the phone and renders the card data useless.  Because of this, support for removable storage encryption is unnecessary.

To summarize, Windows Phone offers the best EAS 12 features support, but does not support the most EAS 12 policies from a strict compliancy perspective.  However, it equally supports the most –pertinent- EAS 12 policies compared to other mobile OS.

Exchange ActiveSync 12.1 – Exchange Server 2007 SP1
Features:
Cancel remote wipe (server side) N/A N/A N/A
Remote wipe confirmation N/A N/A N/A
Default mobile policy (server side) N/A N/A N/A
Bandwidth reductions (compressed/removed headers) Yes Yes No
S/MIME13 No Yes No
Policies:
Disable desktop ActiveSync Yes18 N/A N/A
Disable removable storage Yes18 N/A No
Disable camera No Yes Yes
Disable SMS text messaging No No No
Disable Wi-Fi No No No
Disable Bluetooth No No No
Disable IrDA Yes18 N/A No
Allow internet sharing from device Yes18 No No
Allow desktop sharing from device Yes18 No No
Disable POP3/IMAP4 email No No No
Allow consumer email No No No
Allow browser No Yes No
Allow unsigned applications No N/A N/A
Allow unsigned CABs No N/A N/A
Application allow list No N/A N/A
Application block list No N/A N/A
Require signed S/MIME messages No No No
Require encrypted S/MIME messages No No No
Require signed S/MIME algorithm No No No
Require encrypted S/MIME algorithm No No No
Allow S/MIME encrypted algorithm negotiation No No No
Allow S/MIME SoftCerts No No No
Allow device encryption No Yes16 Yes
Require device encryption No Yes16 Yes
Minimum number of complex characters Yes Yes Yes
Configure message formats (HTML or plain text) No No No
Include past email items (Days) Yes Yes No
Email body truncation size (KB) No No No
HTML email body truncation size (KB) No No No
Include past calendar items (Days) No No No
Require manual sync while roaming No Yes Yes

Service Pack 1 for Exchange 2007 brought us EAS 12.1. From a feature perspective not much was gained.  However, policy wise, many additions were made.  EAS 12.1 was designed with managing with quite some granularity, Windows Mobile 6.x devices.  As a result, many of the policies we see in this release are not supported by any modern OS.  Feature wise, Windows Phone supports Bandwidth Compression, as does iOS.  Windows Phone does not supprt S/MIME.  The reasons for this are many, but I invite you to look up the background on S/MIME and its difficulties of implementation

For the policies, Windows Phone will reply in the affirmative when queried by the server to disable certain features.  However, features such as IrDA, CAB files, etc are not even applicable to Windows Phone, so support for these deprecated features are to maintain backwards compatibility as much as anything.  Windows Phone does not support the disabling of the camera or browser.  Also at 7.5, Windows Phone does not support on device encryption.  This is an issue for many corporations who need to secure devices physically out of their control.  Microsoft has indicated at Windows Phone 8, Bit Locker encryption will be provided to encrypt the phone and presumably meet this criteria.

To summarize EAS 12.1 support, Windows Phone supports the features equally, but currently is deficient in policy support. We hope for this to improve in Windows Phone 8.

Exchange ActiveSync 14.0 – Exchange Server 2010
Features:
Conversation View Yes No12 No
Move always No No No
Reply state Yes No Yes
UM card (client side only) No No No
Free/Busy lookup No No No
Nickname cache Yes No No
SMS sync No No No
Downloadable client No No No
Notes sync No No No
Policies:
Allow mobile OTA update N/A N/A N/A
Mobile OTA update mode N/A N/A N/A

EAS 14 ships with Exchange 2010.  Windows Phone supports the broadest set of the new features.  With Windows Phone we get the Conversation View, similar to GMail.  Windows Phone also supports Nickname Cache which is a sync of commonly used emails (So type Bob and it knows that as bgood@contoso.com), and this is synced between all clients such as Outlook and Outlook web access.  Windows Phone and Android will also reflect the reply state of the message, so you are not left wondering if you have replied to the email.  The only new policies introduced are regarding over the air update functionalities for Windows Mobile devices.  Support for this is not applicable.

In short, the new features brought by Exchange 2010 are best supported on Windows Phone.

Exchange ActiveSync 14.1 – Exchange Server 2010 SP1
Features:
Conversation segments Yes No No
GAL Photos Yes No No
IRM support Yes No No
Block/Allow/Quarantine List (device info) Yes No10 Yes
Allow attachment download (server side) N/A N/A N/A
Policies:
Allow IRM over EAS Yes No No

Most recently, Exchange Service Pack 1 introduced some new and useful features for EAS 14.1  ONLY Windows Phone supports these new and useful features.  With SP1 we get full support for Information Rights Management (IRM) which is a more straight forward and practical way of securing corporate information via email.  Windows Phone will also now pull contact photos from GAL if utilized in the enterprise.  It can now pull segments of email conversations as well.  Of the policies, only Windows Phone supports IRM over EAS.

There is no question, if you want to extend the latest features of Exchange SP1, Windows Phone is your only solution.

So, does Windows Phone offer the best Exchange experience these days?  Feature wise, without a doubt.  If you want to enable the most EAS features across platforms, Windows Phone is the way to go.  It is important to note that none of the modern mobile operating systems support EAS features like Windows Mobile, but then again, some of those features (like CAB black/white lists) are obsolete.

From a policy perspective, Windows Phone is still lacking in three areas, device encryption, camera disablement, and browser disablement.  If companies are not currently or planning to implement these policies then I can say Windows Phone still holds the advantage here.  Also, if you want to take advantage of new enterprise friendly technologies like IRM, Windows Phone is the only way to go.

Talking about T-Mobile’s Dash: Head-turning smartphone – Tech News & Reviews – MSNBC.com

 

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T-Mobile’s Dash: Head-turning smartphone – Tech News & Reviews – MSNBC.com

 

Krackpot, you are out of touch. 

First of all your article states that Cingular doesn’t offer a phone with Wifi….WRONG.  Check out the 8125. 

Secondly, you mention that the Dash can "wirelessly sync with any windows PC"  Technically correct with severe limitations.  You can sync wirelessly via bluetooth only.  You cannot sync to a windows pc via Wifi or GPRS/EDGE.  Activesyc 4.x prevents this.

Then you bemoan the fact that up until the Dash, windows phones didnt have more than a day of battery life.  Start with the 8125, check out the Q and move on to the 700w.  What are you a shill for T-mobile?  The dash is a great phone, but it shouldn’t need factual errors and outright lies to put it ahead of the competition.

Man, I should NOT have to send in my laptop for repair

I’ve had this laptop since April, and it has been a great computer.  However on two occasions it has simply overheated.  This is NOT what I signed up for.  And of course, HPs solution is to have it sent in for repair.  I can’t believe how ridiculous this is.  For the first time, I get a computer that is new, as opposed to building my own…and the darn thing breaks.

Talking about NEW: XBox WPA-enabled Wireless Adapter!

 

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NEW: XBox WPA-enabled Wireless Adapter!

As many of you know, we stopped making wireless equipment, and right around the time everyone expected a update for the MN-740 XBox Wireless Adapter to enable WPA encryption, we canned the whole wireless line.
 
So imagine my surprise to see this:  http://games.dlink.com/products/?pid=383 
 
For those of you who own a MN-740 (or a few, like in my case), you’ll probably notice a remarkable similarity.  You’ll notice that the adapter now supports both 802.11b & 802.11a and most importantly, has WPA support while providing an update for the XBox to enable configuration through the XBox Console. 

This is the only external adapter I’ve found that supports WPA security as opposed to just WEP-128bit, which is trivially crackable.
 
So if you’re looking for a WPA-configurable wireless network adapter for your XBox to operate on your WPA-enabled wireless network, then this might be a great choice.

http://games.dlink.com/products/support.asp?pid=383#quickInstallGuides

 

 

Canned wireless division or not I think it is a little irresponsible for MS to be right on the cusp of releasing a WPA update and then not release it.  1000s of MN-740 users are unsecure because of Microsoft’s irresponsibility.  This should be handed off to the Xbox group to finish it up and get this released.

 

HP ZV6000 review Initial Thoughts

had my ZV6000 for 4 days now. I recieved it 9 das from when I ordered it at Office Depot. I have the following configuration:

Athlon 64 3200+
512m RAM
128m ATi Radeon 200M with Hypermemory
54(g) Broadcom wireless with Bluetooth
15.4 WXGA Widescreen Display
40G HD
8x DVD-ROM

The cost of this unit was $778 including tax. This reflects $200 in rebates ($450 if you take the $300 in hotel coupons)

A few comments about my config before I move on. The hard drive will be upgraded shortly with cheaper, faster drive from Pricewatch. I didn’t get BrightView becuse I hate the glare, and I got the 8x DVD-ROM because I have two faster and more capable burners in my PCs.

First of all, if you want a small laptop for travel, this is NOT for you. This is a desktop replacement unit. It is very large and heavy. However if you want a desktop replacement you can take with you then this is definitely the unit for you.

Hardware:

The speed of this unit is quite amazing. The Athlon64 seems to make up for any shortcoming the stock hard drive introduces. 512 RAM is definitely a must. The widescreen display is very nice, resolution is at a nice readable 1280×800. You an also S-video out to a TV. And the HP tools allow you to direct applications like DVD playback if the TV is attached. I have not had a chance to really benchmark the graphics card, but it seems speedy for desktop graphics.

This has the best bluetooth module/driver stack I have used on a laptop. Every bluetooth device I have pairs flawlessly and all the services are supported. You can’t go wrong with Broadcom wireless 54g(TM). My router is also a Broadcom chipset which helps a lot.

The laptop has 4 USB ports on 3 sides of the laptop, so convienent placement is not a problem. Firewire and a SD card reader are also present. My one complaint about the ports is that you need the xb2000 docking station to get SPDIF out in order to plug into stereo system.

Software:

My one initial complaint is all the preinstalled junk that HP ships. They give you Microsoft Works which is trash to start with. Fortunately they also give you Office 2003 preinstalled so if you have an existing key you can acivate it and be on your way, or activate the 60 day trial.

This comes with Money 2005 (which I use) and you also get a free year to MSN Encarta Plus.

I’m not a XP Home user, but I got it on this laptop to try it out. One disappointing afterthought is that XP Home is not eligible for XP 64-bit Edition upgrades, though I am not sure if this laptop could fully benefit. At any rate, XP Home is sufficient if you can live with some of the obvious networking shortcomings.

It would be nice if you could clean up all the junk like AOL and MSN install files. Funny enough, they give you Sonic RecordNow! even though I didn’t get a DVD burner.

It also comes with muVee autoProducer, which appears to be a Windows Movie Maker for dummies. If you have an iPod you are in luck as iTunes is preinstalled.

The laptop comes with a trial of Norton SecuritySuite. That will be coming off after the trial is up.

All in all my initial impressions are very favorable. If you kep in mind that you’ll need to clean the junk off of it (or just format it to start with) then you have a very capable laptop.

New Toy

I got an hp rx3115.  Replaces my old Compaq 3970 which was starting to show its age.  Very nice device.