Thurrott Daily: October 24

Posted on October 24, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile with 34 Comments

Tech tidbits from around the web.

10/24/2016 11:56:17 AM

Microsoft fires back, tepidly, at Bill Belichick

When Patriots coach condemned Microsoft’s unreliable Surface tablets recently, I figured the software giant would make like the Seattle Seahawks and just lose the big game. Nope: They’re fighting back. With a blog post.

Every week nearly 2,000 Surface devices are deployed at 34 stadiums, and used extensively at over 330 NFL games each year.

We know change can be hard and technology adoption typically has a growth curve. We’re excited to be working with some of the best IT professionals in the industry at the NFL to help with the transition.

Amidst the chaos, each week a team of NFL IT staff rolls out the equipment – sets it up to each team’s specifications; connects network and communications; tests the systems; simulates games between the test cameras and the video directors to test the systems end-to-end; recharges devices; ensures appropriate protection from all sorts of extreme weather conditions; and helps the coaches and players get familiar with the set-up.

It’s an ever-changing, fast-paced technical environment – truly one of the toughest IT jobs on one of the world’s biggest stages, with hundreds of millions of viewers watching. We applaud these hard-working technical experts and appreciate their great partnership.

My mistake. That wasn’t much of a rebuttal, actually. And while the words “Bill,” “Belichick,” and “Patriots” never appear in that post, the controversy is alluded to up front. This is about saving face and damage control. Which would be a lot easier if Surface didn’t have a legacy of unreliability.

Skype no longer works on 85 per cent of Windows Phones

This is rather incredible. MSPowerUser reports.

If you’re a Skype user on a Windows phone (8.x or older), Microsoft no longer supports your device as of this month. Users who activate Windows phone 8.1 devices, or suddenly seek to download Skype from the Store (as few as those may be) – would be surprised to see that Skype is no longer accessible for their devices. You may still be able to download the app via a direct link or installing the appx directly, but it will stop working in a matter of months in any case.

Microsoft lists Skype as being compatible with Windows 10 Mobile, [but] this is a half-truth. Skype officially only supports Windows 10 Mobile 1607, aka the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Now, while 14% (13.7% at last count) of Windows phones are running Windows 10 Mobile, 9.5% of these devices still run Windows 10 Mobile 1511.

So that is a struggle to read, I know, but the basic gist is that Microsoft is killing support for Skype on older Windows phone versions. Which, as the post points out, is most Windows phones.

Microsoft’s Surface PC event: what to expect

I can’t stress this enough. This week’s Microsoft event is about Windows 10, not Surface, and while a Surface AIO is expected to make a showing, that is not the focus. Anyway, Tom keeps doing what Tom does:

Microsoft’s big focus with this event is Windows 10 … This year’s show is expected to include less hardware, with more of a theme around 3D and creativity.

Ah. So it was just a clickbait headline then.

Note: Now it appears that the Surface AIO will be called Surface Studio. Which makes sense: The Studio name previously leaked.

“Microsoft Surface Pro 5, Surface Book 2 release date, specs rumors: Oct. 26 launch likely for both Surface devices”

Nope. Still nope.

What to expect from this week’s Mac event

As you may have heard, Apple is also holding a press event this week, and has been rumored, it will focus on the Mac. But according to a research note by KGI, the focus has been fine-tuned even further. And now it will just be about Mac laptops. 9to5Mac explains:

The report says that Apple will launch three new MacBooks at the event, a new 13 inch MacBook, a new 13 inch MacBook Pro and a new 15 inch MacBook Pro.

The new Retina MacBook Pro, expected to include Touch ID, an OLED function row above the keyboard and new internals, will be debuting in both 13 inch and 15 inch screen sizes.

New iMacs and the Apple external display will not be shipping this year; those should be expected in the first half of 2017.

I can’t say that I’m too excited by this, but Apple’s Macs are all woefully out of date. This is long overdue.

“Pixel vs. Nexus 5X: Which smaller Google phone is best for you?”

The one that is still being sold?


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  1. 1 | Reply
    Narg Alpha Member #420 - 2 months ago

    I've read a lot of "Apple is growing Mac" stories this week.  Yet, on usage charts, both those I run and others from around the web, the growth is much slower if nothing at all.  Mac may be selling more hardware, but the usage just doesn't jive with sales.  Wonder why?

    1. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 2 months ago
      In reply to Narg:

      Maybe the people more likely to be Mac users are less likely to actually use the device and more likely to be concerned with the image of having a Mac? If we are in a world where Chromebook is a feasible option because now everything is moving to being web-based, wouldn't that mean Mac is also feasible (just far more expensive)?

  2. 1 | Reply
    digiguy Alpha Member #2015 - 2 months ago

    No SP5, but it seems that SP4 will be upgraded, according to Amazon...


  3. 0 | Reply
    chrisrut Alpha Member #193 - 2 months ago

    "Martin Hajek’s peek at what the new MacBook Pro OLED strip could look like."

    Brilliant - that's what we dreamed of for Epson's HASCI keyboard back in the early 80s - the ability to alter the "controls" of the tool to match the task. i.e. what you put on it matters.

    If true and well done, that could finally get me to want a MAC... (Holy crap - did I really say that?)

  4. 0 | Reply
    wolters Alpha Member #390 - 2 months ago

    “Pixel vs. Nexus 5X: Which smaller Google phone is best for you?”

    My Verizon rep forgot to order the XL for me, so  the standard Pixel arrived. It has taken me a good while to get used to the smaller screen and my XL isn't slated to be here until the 18th of November, unless they ship early. But performance and camera are amazing and if a 5" is more of what you need, can't recommend this phone enough. :) 

  5. 0 | Reply
    dcdevito Alpha Member #220 - 2 months ago

    I sure hope the new macbook pros get more features (other than spec bumps) than this supposed OLED function row. It will be required of 3rd party app developers to incorporate it into desktop apps. As someone who uses more web apps than desktop apps I don't see how this is such a big deal, but maybe I'm dismissing it too early. And let's face it, all laptop OEMs will be aping it next year anyway

  6. 0 | Reply
    hrlngrv Alpha Member #100 - 2 months ago

    Picky, but unless NFL teams are all playing intermural scrimmages, there's only 16 NFL stadiums with games each week. Also, there are 32 NFL teams, so where do the other 2 come from?

    Silly marketing people, acting like they can count or do math!

  7. 0 | Reply
    mortarm - 2 months ago

    >Tom keeps doing what Tom does...

    Who's Tom?

  8. 0 | Reply
    ponsaelius Alpha Member #1328 - 2 months ago

    With Windowsphone market share so small stopping Skype support on all Windowsphones wouldn't impact very many people now.

    Windowsphone - now in the last throws of existance as Microsoft switches off life support.

  9. 0 | Reply
    Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 2 months ago

    “Pixel vs. Nexus 5X: Which smaller Google phone is best for you?”

    The one that is still being sold?

    Not sure what you're getting at here, other than being smug.  Google may not be selling the 5X anymore through the Google Store, but you can still get it through Project Fi starting at a monthly fee of $8.29/mth or as a flat purchase of $199 (the monthly plan has 0% interest, BTW).  You can also get it via Expansys and other unlocked phone dealers.  Ditto for the Nexus 6P.

    1. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 2 months ago
      In reply to Waethorn:

      I think the fact that you can only get the 5X through those methods demostrates that Google is likely going to discontinue the phone once all stock is elminiated. I hope I am wrong and they continue to offer it on Project Fi as the Pixel has too large of a cost point for most to test the waters.

    2. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 2 months ago
      In reply to jr.flynn:

      I wish they wouldn't discontinue them (or at least come out with a lower-cost Pixel).  It was the only way to get an economical phone with Google's vision of what Android was meant to be.  The Pixel is the antithesis of Nexus.

      There is no Google Android available on any inexpensive phones.

    3. 0 | Reply
      TroyTruax Alpha Member #1821 - 2 months ago
      In reply to Waethorn:

      I purchased a 5x from B and H photo the moment I got confirmation on the Pixel prices.

  10. 0 | Reply
    glenn8878 Alpha Member #2387 - 2 months ago

    Skype no longer works on Windows Phone by design. What else is new? It's like they want to kill Skype by lack of users. Just like they don't want people to buy Surface Pro or Book. "Sell it, Kill it." Microsoft's product strategy.

    1. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 2 months ago
      In reply to glenn8878:

      I disagree with your notion they are killing Skype with a lack of users, dropping support for less than 1% of all users isn't that impactful. The fact that those 1% happen to be your largest enthusiasts is a problem. Supporting Windows Phone 8 likely is as support intensive as every other platform (Win10, iOS, Android, etc.), they simply cut the smallest user base thereby increasing the availability of their resources to improve the other platforms.

    2. 0 | Reply
      hrlngrv Alpha Member #100 - 2 months ago

      In reply to jr.flynn:

      Doesn't Windows Phone 8.x have a larger user base than Windows 10 Mobile?

  11. 0 | Reply
    burog25c Alpha Member #2145 - 2 months ago

    And in all the time since WLM was dumped for Skype, I've never used it for anything on any device. Nor have any of my friends. Can Skype please die now?