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April 24th, 2014

Microsoft ended official support for Windows XP recently—on April 8, 2014—but no one can claim surprise. And they didn’t need to convince the tech-savvy, who have been moving to Windows 7 and 8 (and, in small numbers, to Linux and Macs, like our potent MacBook Pro rental) for the last few years. It’s true that, as of March 2014, XP was the world’s second most popular OS, holding about 28 percent share. But the pace of upgrading is accelerating, a pretty predictable result when you really do get to the end of the road.

Microsoft has been “pleading with customers” to upgrade, observes Spencer Ferguson of Wasatch IT, who was on Microsoft’s licensing and anti-piracy teams back in the day. It might look and sound like a sales pitch for buying the company’s latest OS, but Ferguson says it should mean only one thing to users: “It means you should take action.” We offer up these simple, straightforward FAQs about this crucial matter, and suggest that whatever action you are going to take, do it ASAP. Now consider:

What’s the #1 reason to upgrade? — One word: security. Windows XP computers will certainly still function, but without new security updates, non-security “hot fixes,” free or paid support plans, or online technical content updates. Some firms are moving to fill in the gaps, but your XP computer will be poorly defended, and hackers will exploit bugs and back doors that Microsoft is neither fixing nor closing.

Are there exceptions? — After the initial negative feedback , in February 2014 Microsoft extended Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP until July 2015. Enterprise customers will get System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security and Endpoint Protection, and Windows Intune, while consumers will receive Microsoft Security Essentials updates. nti-malware solutions are limited, and only “some anti-virus providers” will extend support for XP.

Is it a big deal for real, or Y2K-level dramatics? — A new data breach or computer invasion hits the headlines daily. The risks are real. Just because you like XP, or you don’t want to hassle upgrading, you’ll risk your company? Anti-malware maker Avast estimates that Windows XP systems are “six times” more vulnerable than PCs running Windows 7. (Of course, when you rent iMac computers from CRE, you get the least hacked OS around.)

How do I make the switch? — Microsoft’s online tutorial help you get from Windows XP to Windows 7, so make certain to back up all your files. The update process will not preserve your settings, preferences, files, and programs.

Can I upgrade straight to Windows 8? — It is technically possible, of course, but Microsoft warns that “Windows 8.1 isn’t designed for installation on PCs running Windows Vista or Windows XP.” What with the costs of two OS packages, if you want to end up with Windows 8, you really should buy a new machine. If you have a tight budget, search for reports like “Best Budget Laptops.”

Microsoft, naturally, wants everyone to adopt its latest and soon-to-be-upgraded-to-greatest OS, Windows 8. It has picked up market share slowly (it just went over 11 percent in February) because of the touch-centric UI, but the newly released Windows 8.1 Update promises to bring some of the Windows 8 resistors back into the fold. We’ll keep you posted!

When you rent computers from CRE Rentals you can feel safe knowing that you’ll be getting the most secure,  up-to-date OS and Anti-virus versions available.  Plus, our post-rental wiping process ensures that any data you leave on the machines will not make it into the hands of the next client.  Keeping your valuable data safe is just a small part of the CRE Rentals experience.   Call 877-266-7725 today to let us know how we can help with your technology rental needs.

 

February 20th, 2014

According to major tech watchers, Microsoft is  “mere weeks” from releasing the recently leaked Windows 8.1, Update 1. Preliminary builds of the software have found their way to the Internet. Although we can’t assume every feature now present in Update 1 will make it to the release version, there are enough changes, improvements, “do-over’s” to make for a fairly comprehensive (p)review. Since Windows users far outnumber any other kind, important changes to the OS are essential news.

Is Metro moniker a goner?

Much despair greeted Windows 8 when it “went cubist,” dumping the Start button and Desktop for its Modern interface. Update 1 will apparently detect the type of device it is running on, then boot to the Desktop for regular PCs like our computer rental, or the Modern-tiled interface for tablets, touch-enabled PCs and laptops. Or not. You can boot wherever you like by changing your PC Settings.

Microsoft’s SkyDrive is now OneDrive, and installs with the OS. In another move to educate users to address important issues up front, there is now a PC Settings tile on the Modern Start screen. Scrolling down from the Start screen to find PC Settings with all the other apps is not the way to encourage its use or get important things done quickly. Were you to use this coming OS with our LCD touchscreen monitor rental you would get a Start screen with easy-to-spot buttons for Search and Power Options (Shut Down, Restart, etc.). These are small but smart improvements.

Putting Windows back in Windows

Right-clicking on the Start and Apps screens now gets you what the rest of the world’s computer users get: a contextual menu. Bring your mouse to the top of the screen in a Modern app and a black bar with Close and/or Minimize buttons pops up (and appears momentarily at app startup). The Store icon is pinned to the Task Bar by default, and you can add other Modern apps that will run full-screen as usual. The Task Bar can now be displayed within Modern apps, too. Users asked, Microsoft answered.

Not sure which Windows software to use? CRE Rentals can help! We  support a variety of industries, and work with all kinds of media pros, designers, post experts, and animators who know their way around render farms and the other high-tech gear behind every cartoon, cable series, and movie. Call us today at 877-266-7725.

December 19th, 2013

Microsoft is an odd company, a strange admixture of genius and clumsiness, strategic vision and unscripted silliness. Steve Ballmer was no favorite of the punditocracy and left a while back with something less than a hero’s send-off. But around the same time, we wondered if Microsoft could be “The Comeback Kid,” noting how it has yo-yo’ed through the years. It is a unique story, this tech giant’s dramatic ups and downs, and often hard to fathom.

The “Relevance” Thing

In late 2012, Andreas Pouros, COO at marketing firm Greenlight, wrote in his Econsultancy blog that Microsoft would again be “relevant” in 2013. Despite a top-selling game console (seven years “mature”), a market capitalization approaching $230 billion, 90+ percent of the PC market, and an OS that you can even rent iMac computers to run, at the end of 2012 it was clear to Pouros and everyone else that Microsoft was not the world-changing juggernaut of its prime. Was it time for another Microsoft obituary?

Pouros had an emphatic response: No! In fact, he saw a turnaround coming, based on Microsoft’s “dominant position on the desktop” plus the company’s core strengths in gaming, OS, and two-way communication (Skype). Success in these areas would underwrite the development of products in what Pouros called “an exciting ecosystem that will make Microsoft a compelling choice for consumers.”

The “Devices and Services” Thing

However, the company’s major consumer device focus in 2013, the Surface line, did not explode on the scene and zoom anywhere near iPad rental in sales or market share. Pouros got this one wrong, but let’s just say Microsoft started a slow-growing fire in the segment, rather than a blaze. To finish off the company’s strategic plan, Pouros predicted Microsoft would buy Netflix to secure its new position as “a devices and services” company.

That didn’t happen (to be fair, it is still 2013) but how did the Pouros Prognostication fare, overall? Quite well, in fact: In its most recent earnings report (October 2013), Microsoft announced that quarterly profits increased 17% from the year prior, on sales that rose 16% to a bit over $18.5 billion. That was more than two-thirds of a billion dollars beyond Wall Street’s consensus estimate of $17.8 billion. Complete details of the report can be reviewed online, but for a quick overview here are lists of the “Strong” and “Weak” Microsoft operating units:

Strong

  • Business sales of Office and server software
  • Xbox One
  • Commercial licensing
  • Cloud computing for business

Weak

  • Windows
  • PC sales
  • Cloud for consumers (SkyDrive)
  • Device and licensing revenue from Surface line
  • Device and licensing revenue from Windows and Windows Phone product lines

Surface and Surface Pro sales hit $400 million, aided greatly by the blowout pricing on the original RT model. Finally, the Nokia acquisition will play out over the coming year(s) in surprising ways that are, as we’ve said before, often hard to fathom. And that prediction brings us full circle on our latest ride on the Microsoft yo-yo!

As always, we’ll keep you posted on the latest technology news. Do you need to be relevant for an upcoming project or event? If so, we can help by supplying you with the latest technology rentals to help get the job done. Complete an Express Quote online or call us today at (877) 266-7725.

October 31st, 2013

Microsoft has been in the news a lot—Steve Ballmer’s cheerless departure, the billion-dollar flop of the original Surface, Windows Phone inertia, and other miscues and missed opportunities haunt the firm. Yet Microsoft just posted better-than-forecast figures for Q1. The company reported that its “devices and services transformation is progressing” just as after-hours trading pushed shares up.

Microsoft is a fascinating study of a firm that has had several well-defined eras following its founding at the dawn of the microcomputer age—which is the problem at the moment. Long criticized for “going in one era and out the other” with tech strategies and marketing campaigns, Microsoft is looking for a solid new identity for its post-Ballmer era. We’ve written about Ballmer’s bad moves, but now let’s take a look at some positive incidents that just might reveal where this tech giant is headed.

Microsoft Logo
Aggressive pricing

Windows XP had a special edition that ran on tablet PC and before that, Microsoft had Windows for Pen Computing—for Windows 95! The company really does know tablets, from hardware and software to sales and support. Now that Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro tablets are on sale, Microsoft went ahead and reduced the price of the original Surface Pro. In August Microsoft initially reduced the price when slow sales slowed even further. Since then, however, Surface models have contributed $400 million to the Q1 figures cited above.

More bang for Bing

In July, Microsoft announced that Bing was much more than a mere search engine. It’s a developer platform, too, offering coders the development kits, back-end services, and control modules for creating new tools and techniques. Microsoft is aiming for the type of ubiquity enjoyed by Google, where everything from the temp’s computer rental to the CEO’s gold iPhone is using Gmail, Gdrive, and Google+. Just last week, Microsoft brought a missing piece to the Bing developers’ construction kit: speech recognition. A new control enables developers to include speech recognition as an input in apps made for Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows RT. Microsoft managers also announced that the Bing Translator Controls and Optical Character Recognition Control would be updated, too.

Breaking into the Glass market

Microsoft may become a top rival to Google Glass, as the firm is already testing prototypes for web-connected glasses with high-tech specs similar to the Glass product. The Wall Street Journal cited some unnamed people “familiar with the matter,” but offered no details about the project, saying only that it is part of Microsoft’s “grand strategy” to become a top player in the device market along with Google, Apple, and Samsung.

Finally, fast fixes!

Within two days of removing the Windows RT 8.1 operating system update from the Microsoft Store on October 19 (just two days after its launch), Microsoft released a new, fixed update. The initial Windows RT 8.1 update caused problems with one of every 1,000 Surface RT 8.1 installations. Following initial criticism, Microsoft was lauded for its quick and complete fix.

Need the best event production rentals, or the right laptops for your conference team? You always get first-rate advice from experienced CRE Account Executives. Call (877) 266-7725 or visit the Quick Rental Quote page. We’re ready to help—24/7/365!

August 20th, 2013

As always, Apple is in the news, with several big announcements coming soon. In addition to a new iOS release and the upcoming debut of OS X Mavericks, there are iPhone rumors a-plenty, too. Let’s get up to speed on what’s happening in Cupertino, since whatever happens there on Infinite Loop usually makes its way around the world pretty quickly. Here we go…!

iWork for iCloud

Apple has been quietly sending out invitations for people to try its iWork for iCloud suite that will debut this fall. The three applications that make up the iWork package—Pages, Numbers, and Keynote—sell individually ($9.99 each for iOS, $19.99 each for OS X). Apple has various options for pricing, and has not announced its plans yet. If an iCloud version ends up being free, you could rent laptops and use the iWork apps free via a browser, rather than pay to have them on your computer or tablet.

iWork in Beta testing

“We’d like to invite you to be one of the first to try it, so we’re giving you early access to the iWork for iCloud beta,” the latest emails state. Anyone who wants to try the apps on iCloud, whether via an iMac or a PC, can use the current version of Internet Explorer, Safari, or Chrome. Apple has committed to broad accessibility, and is likely to add Firefox and Opera, browsers that will run on any computer rental in the world, Macs as well as PCs. Before the suite is released, Apple is tweaking printer settings, sharing iCloud-based documents with links, and refining the way the apps handle document version histories.

iPhone: Rumors Now, Facts Soon!

According to the digerati at the Wall Street Journal’s “AllThingsD” blog, Apple is set to debut its new iPhone on Sept. 10. The event may take place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco where the company made last year’s iPhone 5 announcement. iOS 7The “rumor consensus” on the name is the “iPhone 5S,” and it should include a fingerprint reader, faster CPU, and better cameras. It will come pre-installed with iOS 7, which Apple gave developers back in June. After the iPhone launch, iOS 7 will be released and our iPad rental inventory can then get updated, too.

If Apple parallels the 2012 schedule, pre-orders for the iPhone 5S could start on Sept. 12 and retail sales on Sept. 20. The firm might use the same Sept. 10 event to announce a low-priced iPhone (the 5C?). With Apple’s global smartphone share dipping 3 percentage points since 2012, from about 16% to 13%, the company needs an entry-level model to counter the aggressive competition from Android models. The MacBook Air itself was an attempt to offer a lower price point in the MacBook line, and a low-cost iPhone would target the same developing markets of China, Brazil, Indonesia, and India.

CRE can set you up with leading-edge render farms for high-end post-production, or a stylish expo-floor booth crafted with our fabulous trade show rentals. Call (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit our Quick Rental Quote page and together we’ll find the right solutions to your unique challenges. We’re here to help—so call now!

July 30th, 2013

Chrome OS logoFor a few years, so-called “netbooks”—small, light, inexpensive mini-laptops—were wildly popular despite leaving out optical drives, having minimal RAM, and reducing the number, size, and type of connections (except WiFi, of course). Some overeager early adopters thought they could replace laptop rentals for their field sales personnel and conference teams with netbooks, and quickly discovered the limitations.

Today’s netbook is a Chromebook, an entirely different animal. Google’s Chrome OS lets manufacturers build reasonably priced, hard-drive-free, cloud-centric, small-form laptops with decent screens and enough “oomph” to get work done. Chromebooks are no competition for our MacBook Pro rental, but they aren’t supposed to be. Still, only someone with modest computing demands—web, social media, email, basic office work—would make a Chromebook her primary computer.

Google’s success is no joke

As global PC sales continue their downward trajectory, media outlets are reporting Chromebook sales increases. The major stories indicate neither how much, nor who in the product chain is making any money. When trying to confirm technology rumors, you pore over shipping reports of touchscreen panel makers and other component subcontractors; in the absence of hard figures about sales and shipments, you make inferences from market share estimates and price tiers. The picture that emerges from them lately shows a company that has had its blunders, certainly, but which has steadily advanced toward its ultimate goal: Subjugation of the universe!

Chromebooks are cloud-based

In all seriousness, Google is creating wildly popular products and services that are changing the world. And how’s this for change: Gartner notes that worldwide PC sales dropped nearly another 11 percent in the second quarter of 2013, while NPD Group notes that Chromebooks grew to a new high and account for 20-25 percent of all units under $300. Of course, we cannot put that in perspective until we know (1) accurate sales figures and (2) margins. However, Google wants people to know that Apple is not the only tech firm that can create new PC paradigms, and that Google and its growing group of A-list manufacturers—Samsung, HP, Acer, Lenovo—have birthed a healthy niche in a dwindling market.

On the other hand…

Remember, it was Windows 8—which is either flailing about wildly or really stirring it up, depending on your choice of pundit—that was going to “save the PC industry.” Instead we have a continuing slide and another 11 percent drop in sales, while Google’s Chrome OS gets packaged by some of the same respected manufacturers in the CRE computer rental inventory, then grabs about a quarter of the sub-$300 U.S. PC business.

Estimates on numbers of Chromebook units that have been shipped, sold, or put to use are varied. NetMarketShare data from April 2013, however, showed total web traffic from Chromebooks at approximately 1/50th of 1 percent. ZDNet estimated earlier in 2013 that Windows RT had earned a larger share than that after being on the market a mere three months (Chromebooks began shipping in 2011). So, will Chromebooks succeed? There are good signs, like wide acceptance in the education market, and support from Google Apps resellers and CSBs (cloud services brokerages). If more big-name manufacturers sign on to make Chromebooks, that’s another giant step for Google—but it doesn’t mean you have to buy one, or help them take over the universe. Just don’t bet against ’em.

When you need just the right event production rentals, another mountain of mass storage, or high-end post-production gear, CRE is your smartest source. Give us a call at (877) 266-7725, send a short (or long!) message, or use the Quick Rental Quote page to reserve what you need, when you need it, 24/7/365!

July 2nd, 2013

The Microsoft Build Developer Conference (subtitled “The Next GenerationMSBuild02 of Modern Apps”) took over a chunk of San Francisco last Wednesday through Friday (June 26-28, 2013). It’s a year-round ritual for Big Tech to roll out the revival meetings and fanfests (er, conferences and breakout sessions), and since Google had theirs and Apple just dominated the June news, it’s arguably Microsoft’s “turn.”

This year, there was a strange mix of anticipation and giddiness, as there are more positive developments coming out of Redmond now than have been seen in many moons. With the iMac, and desktops in general, sales continue to slide, but Microsoft’s in a good position with its own tablet hardware/software “ecosystem”–every bit as closed as Apple’s iOS walled garden, at least so far–and Windows 8.1 is looking to make good on the predictions of Windows 8′s success (and make up for the slow uptake that spelled failure for 8.0).

In three geeky days in The City by the Bay, the Build Conference delivered the goods to a grateful crowd, then the world. We took it all in, considered all the different views, then boiled it down to just the news you can use. And we’re off…!

Missing parts restored

From the first news last year that the Start button would be retired, a huge majority of users derided the move. When Windows 8 was released without it, the derision turned into barely contained rage. Though Windows 8.1 restores the apparently life-sustaining tool, rather than invoking a narrow menu it routes you right to the start screen tiles, now the kind of eye candy that looks downright edible on our LCD touchscreen monitor rental. The entire user interface (UI) has been “unbolted” a bit to allow for additional, unique user customizing—and better accessibility for keyboard & mouse users without touchscreens.

Windows 8.1 adds back something else that was inexplicably left out of the initial release: support for a range of screen resolutions and dimensions. On ultra-high-res displays–as on CRE’s MacBook Pro rental and the Chromebook Pixel–some Windows 8 buttons are so small they’re impossible to click. The 8.1 update fixes this. Microsoft knows that 18 months from now, if you rent laptops, you’re as likely as not to get ultra-high-res screens. The company sees the zillions of 7- and 8-inch tablets coming, too, so it’s tweaking Windows to look right wherever it’s used.

And some new things, too

Let’s not forget that next generation of apps line, as the near future may see touch-enabled Microsoft Office apps. This was the most buzzworthy of in-conference buzz. Several Microsoft speakers mused about swiping and poking their way through PowerPoint presentations. Presently, Office apps are usable only in “desktop mode” and not via start screen tiles (“Metro”), thus still run fine on any basic Windows computer rental you can find. But if PowerPoint, Word, and Excel do go touchy-feely, it could be huge for Microsoft.

Bing’s overhaul bolstered visual search aids and results, while Xbox Music and Mail underwent cosmetic surgery. One of Windows 8.1′s many under-publicized features lets you “snap” apps together, using them simultaneously for true multitasking. Finally, despite lukewarm sales of the Xbox One, Microsoft hinted that building apps for Windows 8.1 would be a “head start” on subsequent development for the slow-selling game console. Windows 8.1 has no official release date yet, but a preview is available for download.

CRE, always the smart source for everything you need, from computer rentals for post-production to audio visual (AV) equipment rentals for conference training sessions. An experienced Account Executive is awaiting your call at (877) 266-7725. You can also send a message or visit our Quick Rental Quote page if you know what you need. We’re always here, and always ready to help!

June 27th, 2013

OSX-Mavericks-iconApple fans and detractors alike enjoy the firm’s conferences, like the recent WWDC 2013, because both groups eagerly await the latest and greatest from Cupertino—one to praise the firm, one to pick on its “fanboyz.” This year’s WWDC delivered a host of new goodies, from upgraded MacBook Air and Mac Pro models to the latest Apple OS releases, iOS 7, and OS X Mavericks (10.9). The latest OS X version institutes a new naming convention, which many thought to be “box office flops,” since Chasing Mavericks was a dud of a surfer flick last year. But no, it’s a location name—a beach, in fact.

Both iOS 7 and Mavericks will be available in final form this fall, but betas will start floating around the Internet in mass quantities starting next week as developer-only “beta time” runs out. As the firm did with the new Mac Pro, in the final push before an OS release Apple tallies feedback from developers and early adopters to refine the package. You can get complete technical specifications for iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks from Apple, but we’ll tell you what you need to know in plain English. We’ll start today with Mavericks and get to iOS 7 in the next blog or two. Let’s get to it!

Mavericks (not the movie!)

Shoring up its green bona fides, Apple retooled OS X 10.9 with power-optimizing features that reduce CPU use, compress memory, and put your other software programs into “App Nap” when not needed. Apple has supported collaborative use since before you could rent iMac models, and has finally made using a second (and third) display simple—you get a menu bar and dock on all screens, and can drag assets from one to another even with full-screen apps running. Some tweaks to the Finder are in the “took you long enough” category, like the ability to combine multiple open windows into a single one with tabs (like some browsers). Another is a minor “yay” moment: You can now assign certain tags (Draft, Important, etc.) when saving files, and use them to locate others similarly tagged.

Apple’s browser, Safari, is part of Mavericks, too, and got a decent reworking. A new sidebar now houses your bookmarks, the Reading List, and the Shared Links section that has OSX-Cloud-KeychainTwitter and LinkedIn updates (only from people you follow) with web links they send you. The new iCloud Keychain will save, encrypt, and automatically enter passwords for the websites you visit on all your Apple devices, plus give you highly secure password suggestions when you register for a new one. In your screen’s upper right corner, Mavericks’ new “push notification” will display pop-up messages for particular apps, some of which you can manage without launching a program. The Maps app is now able to send directions directly to the lock screen of an iPad rental or iPhone, and tighter ties to the Calendar app means it will calculate when you need to leave to make your appointments on time, based on current weather, your location, traffic reports, and the time of day.

Work in progress? Always!

Science and technology are never “finished” since we never stop learning and improving our tools, from the Stone Age through the Iron Age and into the Cyber Age. Humans are like that (certainly you’ve noticed). The humans at Apple, even without their iconic co-founder at the helm, still seem to be doing the right things, with enough “insanely great” products and services to remain a key arbiter of tech and style. OS X 10.9 Mavericks may just be the hippest among the new offerings. We’ll keep you posted—count on it!

Count on CRE, too, every time you need industry-leading render farms and other tools for high-tech heavy lifting. And call us when you want to put your best corporate face on a few big screens, and situate them in a stylish expo floor space created with our great trade show convention rentals. Call (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit our Quick Rental Quote page and we’ll find the precise solutions to your unique challenges. We’re here to help—so call now!

June 13th, 2013

NEWS FLASH: Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013 has taken over San Francisco’s Moscone Center this week. Already we know that the product codenamed “Cabernet” is the new OS X Mavericks, and there’s a new Mac Pro, iOS 7, and other Apple-icious stuff to talk about. And we will, with 20/20 hindsight, too—check out our complete WWDC wrapup on Tuesday, June 18!

- – -

Windows-XPSometimes it seems like tomorrow never comes. We’ve been hearing about the “expiration date” of Windows XP for a couple of years now, and it’s still another nine months or so until Microsoft officially abandons it. Come April 8, 2014, there will be no more bug fixes, patches, updates, or anything else from Microsoft related to XP. This third-generation OS (Operating System) runs on an estimated 570 million computers worldwide, the second highest installed base (38%) behind Windows 7 (45%). No one has any idea of how consumers will react, but Microsoft is sparing no effort in promoting Windows 7, its new net offering Office 365, and, in particular, Windows 8 (make that 8.1).

Among the most convincing reasons to update consistently is for the ever-improving security infrastructure in business-critical software. Nothing is 100% safe, of course, but that is no reason to forgo updates, patches, and upgrades that do offer greater security from outside (and inside, too). Running Windows 98 on a computer rental of yesteryear would be “security suicide” today, not to mention the compatibility problems that would be inherent in a world using such a sleek, slick modern OS as Windows 8 or the new OS X Mavericks (see WWDC wrap-up on Tuesday, June 18). The new Mac OS will be showing up this fall on the just-announced Mac Pro as well as all the other Mac models.

Hang on anyway?

There are more computer users working on obsolete systems (hardware and software) than you’ll ever know, and it happens with Mac users, Windows users, and Linux “lone rangers,” too. Some computer makers, most notoriously Apple, make product changes that orphan entire user populations, which contributes to Apple’s steady loss of its “coolness factor.” With XP fading away, Microsoft is more concerned about a loss of people, as the user population of Windows XP is well over half a billion. Real soon you won’t be able to rent laptops with good ol’ XP anymore, and after the official end-of-support day (4/8/2014) not only will Microsoft not support it, more and more browsers, programs, and online services won’t, either.

Where will the XP folks go? Most will end up with Windows 7 or 8; a few will opt for RT on the low-end Surface; some will bail and get an iMac or Linux box; and an unknown number of early-adopter types will go for a potent Android tablet. Another “last” for XP was the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, which replaced MS Pen Computing in 2002. All Windows iterations since Vista have natively supported pen computing. The very latest OS, Windows 8.1, was retooled to wring the maximum efficiency out of ever-more-accurate touch screens, deploy “smart” power management tools for a dramatic increase in battery life, protect you with beefy security features, and not give you the Blue Screen of Death.

Sooner… or later?

Time waits for no one. It’s easy (make that effortless) to be a slow adopter, and perhaps not so costly in your personal life. But if your business doesn’t keep up with the Jones Corporation’s latest and greatest hardware, software, and Whatever-as-a-Service, your bottom line can suffer. In about eight months, XP slips into limbo, a gray area in which the unsupported OS could actually remain installed on many companies’ computers—and work just fine, according to some experts. So, go or no-go? You have enough time to make an unhurried, careful decision, so take a deep breath, do your homework, and get help if, when, where, and how you need it. There is life after XP. In fact, considering the Never Say Never Rule, there just might be XP after XP, too. To be continued—in other words, we’ll keep you posted!

In the meantime,  CRE will continue to serve you with everything from laptop and desktop computer rentals with Windows to the mass storage needed for post-production. Wherever you need help—on-site, on the road, or at a convention—your solutions are all right here. Call an experienced Account Executive at (877) 266-7725, send us a message, or visit our Quick Rental Quote page if you know what you need. We are always ready to help you!

May 7th, 2013

Windows 8 RTIn all the talk about the never-ending debut of Windows 8—and there has been a veritable tidal wave of verbiage—there have been a few references to the inauspicious debut of New Coke in 1985. Last year, Microsoft tied a much-changed Windows 8 to its new Surface devices, wagering that a ton of marketing hoopla would establish them as competitors to our iPad rental. But the public isn’t buying it (or them). At the point in the New Coke story where the public made its preferences known, Coca-Cola did the right thing, right away. It brought the favored flavor back as “Classic Coke” while “unhitching the wagon” from the newfangled, widely detested recipe. Subsequent years saw huge sales increases for the firm.

The Coca-Cola chairman and CEO at the time, Roberto Goizueta, recounted the company’s New Coke maneuvers in a 1995 interview, declaring that company execs “really were ready to do whatever was necessary” to make things right. In Microsoft’s case, instead of acknowledging the problems, execs are doubling down on Metro. Many tech bloggers are ready to dump the “new, unimproved” Metro look in favor of getting Windows 7′s Aero UI back, or some of it, anyway. The question rang out on ZDNet: “Does [Microsoft chief Steve] Ballmer have the guts to admit he made a mistake and give users what they clearly want?” It’s a mystery, but there are a few clues, so let’s do some sleuthing…

Windows 8 and Windows RT sales

NetMarketShare regularly reports worldwide tech statistics, and the latest news about Windows 8 and Windows RT is not good at all. How “not good” is it? In April 2013′s report on OS use, Windows 8 was at a meager 3.82%, which means Windows 8 still lags behind Microsoft’s last OS failure, Vista, after about nine months on the market. Tablet PCs and other touchscreen devices with Windows 8 and Windows RT totaled 0.02% and 0.00%, respectively—and you read that last figure right. The launch of the Surface RT is probably the worst in Microsoft history.

Windows8Fail_Chart

The release of Windows 8.1 sometime next month will, according to top tech writer Mary Jo Foley, mark the return of the “lost” Start button, as well as an Aero-influenced UI. In a recent ZDNet debate, it was determined by a wide majority that Windows 8 had already failed, and the only remaining question was whether or not it could be saved. Now, there will always be the need for the desktop PC and general-purpose computer rental, so they’re not going away. So the next question is: Will Microsoft keep doubling down on Metro?

The future comes a day at a time

Sure, we’re moving into a new era, a “post-PC” future, with tablets and smartphones becoming more powerful, more necessary, more intimately integrated into our lives. Desktop PCs are not going away because of this, any more than mainframes disappeared when PCs debuted—because we regularly do any number of things that require an iMac or an HP Pavilion, things that can’t be done that easily with an Android tablet or an iPhone. Furthermore, even if it’s true that much of our computing (and even more of our storage) will be cloud-based, using a keyboard is still the easiest way for human beings to enter data besides dictation. (Think you can dictate an Excel spreadsheet?)

Windows 8 represents a colossal failure, and not just because of its bad design. If Microsoft stays the course it appears to have set—“appears” because so much is unknown, misunderstood, deceptive—it could be the end of Windows’ dominance in end-user computing. Such Wall Street denizens as KPCB (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers) and Goldman Sachs are on record stating that Windows market share has peaked. From here on, they imply, it’s downhill all the way to the dustbin of history. All we can tell you for certain is that we’ll keep you posted!

With wide-ranging, state-of-the-art expertise, our Account Executives can help you set up a new production workflow with a Mac Pro rental and mass storage, or show off your corporate pride with thoroughly modern and stylish trade show convention rentals. Call us at (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit the Quick Rental Quote form if you know what you need. Whenever you’re ready, we’re here to help!

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