1/5/2008

The Most Hated Company In the PC Industry

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Who in the hell is Asustek, and why does Microsoft hate them more than any other company in the industry? Why does Apple, Dell and Palm Computing hate them?

And why does Intel love them?

Taiwan’s Asustek — better known as ASUS — is one of the most interesting, innovative and fastest-growing companies in technology.

At its core, Asustek makes motherboards — more than any other company. Asustek motherboards are the heart of Sony’s PlayStation 2 consoles, Apple MacBooks, Alienware PCs, and some HP computers.

But that’s not why they’re hated. The source of ire is a tiny laptop called the ASUS Eee PC. This open, flexible, relatively powerful, and very small laptop is notable for one feature above all: Its price. The Eee PC can be had for as little as $299. (Go here to read the reviews — they’re all positive.)

Let’s take a moment to ponder how cheap that is. This full-featured laptop costs $69 less than the 16 GB Apple iPod Touch. It’s $100 less than an Amazon Kindle e-book reader. The most expensive configuration for the ASUS Eee PC on Amazon.com is $499.

Even though ASUS isn’t a well-known consumer brand, and even though the company just started selling them in late 2007, the company expects to sell up to a half million units by March, and up to 5 million by 2009.

Warner Bros. Picks Blu-Ray Over HD-DVD

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Warner Bros. Entertainment said Friday it will release movie discs only in the Blu-ray format, becoming the latest studio to reject the rival HD DVD technology and further complicating the high-definition landscape for consumers.

Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner Inc., was the only remaining studio releasing high-definition DVDs in both formats.

It is the fifth studio to back Blu-ray, developed by Sony Corp. Only two support the HD DVD format, developed by Toshiba Corp.

Both formats deliver crisp, clear high-definition pictures and sound. But they are incompatible with each other, and neither plays on older DVD players, which means consumers seeking top-quality playback face a dilemma.

Warner said it decided to go with Blu-ray because consumers have shown a stronger preference for that format than HD DVD.

Microsoft Simplifies File Format Fix

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft Corp. changed course on an update to Office 2003 that blocked certain older file types from opening, after receiving a flurry of criticism from users and online publications.

Office 2003 Service Pack 3, a free package of updates and fixes released in September, blocked users from opening files created by older versions of Word, Excel and Power Point - mostly programs launched in 1995 and earlier. The change also kept users from opening some files made in Corel Corp.’s CorelDraw.

Microsoft said opening the legacy file formats poses a security risk, and shut down easy access to the same older file types when it launched Office 2007.

For people who wanted to read the old files, the software maker built a workaround into Office 2007 that lets them open files they have stashed in a specific folder.

But the software maker devised a more complicated workaround for Office 2003 SP3 that involved modifying a user’s PC’s registry - a crucial directory of settings the average computer user rarely deals with.

On Slashdot, a technology news and discussion site, more than 500 people logged comments about the issue this week. Some railed against what they saw as a way for the software maker to force people to spend money on new software, while others complained that Microsoft’s security explanation wasn’t accurate.

Microsoft took heed, and Friday unveiled a simpler way for people to unblock the older file types.

The new procedure - which involves clicking on a series of links - is detailed here

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