Can Microsoft’s Renaissance Return it to the Top of the Tech World?

Can Microsoft’s Renaissance Return it to the Top of the Tech World?

Often in daily life, you’ll see examples of the surprising turnaround, such as a bottom-of-the-barrel sports team finally putting the right pieces together for a title run. Or an actor known mainly for stoner roles and rom-coms experiencing an acting renaissance (or McConaissance) that transforms him into a multiple award-winning superstar. But in the world of technology vendors, this kind of turnaround is pretty rare. Once a company gets a reputation as a purveyor of mediocre and uninspiring products, it can be pretty hard to overcome. However, it looks like Microsoft may be actually pulling off their own renaissance (Microsonaissance?). When Microsoft announced their new lineup of products, including a lot of impressive hardware, it turned a lot of people’s heads. For anyone who follows tech, it’s pretty hard to not compare this to Apple’s recent product announcements and come to the conclusion that Microsoft is, at least right now, doing more interesting things than Apple. Of course, this transformation didn’t happen overnight. For several years now, starting with the release of the first Surface devices, Microsoft has been pretty visionary in understanding where tablets, laptops, and computing related to, you know, actually getting things done, is heading. But given Microsoft’s reputation, the initial Surface announcements didn’t get a lot of love. However, the recent lineup of Surface 3 devices changed a lot of minds. Many people found these devices to be a perfect blend of portable and useful for work. So much so that even Apple is now following Microsoft’s lead with its newest iPad and MacBook. And with the releases this week, Microsoft may finally be getting the...
With the Not-a-Tablet iPad Pro, Apple Aims for the Enterprise

With the Not-a-Tablet iPad Pro, Apple Aims for the Enterprise

The iPad Pro is a biggie. No, really. It’s big both in size — the latest iteration of the tablet (if you can even call it that anymore) clocks in at 12.9 inches in screen size — and in sheer power; it’s equipped with an A9X chip, which, according to Apple, “delivers up to 1.8 times the CPU performance and double the graphics performance of iPad Air 2.” Why is it so huge that the iPad Pro is so huge? On the one hand, its size and power mean that it’s not really a tablet, but it’s also not a laptop due to its lack of a built-in keyboard. With devices like this that many dub as “2-in-1,” the lines are thus blurred between laptop and tablet. They create the perfect storm for enterprise users who require both: power to be productive on tasks other than email and mobility for modern-day users who are rarely behind their desks 40 hours a week. The iPad Pro joins the 2-in-1 devices field as stiff competition for Microsoft’s Surface Pro. While the initial generation of Surfaces were a commercial flop, the third iteration of Surface Pro is seen as a laptop killer by many, and has garnered sterling reviews. Even still, Apple joining the mix now could justifiably put Microsoft on edge. Check out some of TechPro’s past Apple coverage: The Debate is On! Is Apple’s New iPhone 6 a Must-Have or a Don’t Bother? Pushing the Apple Watch in the New iOS 8.2 Update The New Apple MacBook is a Netbook. And That’s Awesome Regarding his thoughts on the iPad Pro and its impact on business users, Aberdeen Group Senior Research Analyst Jim Rapoza sees...
Can you function without your Smartphone? Neither can your field tech!

Can you function without your Smartphone? Neither can your field tech!

Do you have a smartphone? When was the last time you woke up from a night’s slumber and didn’t first turn over to check your phone? Mobile technology has become an essential part of our lives – leaving a phone at home, dropping your smartphone, or losing WiFi connectivity can ruin your day. This level of significance has quickly seeped into the business world, specifically impacting field service in 2015. As seen in Aberdeen’s Field Service Workforce Management: Empower Tech 3.0 (May 2015), top performing organizations are 52% more likely than their peers to prioritize investment in mobility to provide technicians with better access to information in the field. This investment in mobility isn’t for the purposes of putting cool devices in the hands of service workers. Mobile tools (i.e., tablets, smartphones, and laptops) must help the field team get access to the right answers and information in real-time, and thus help them solve customer problems as quickly and efficiently as possible. These devices are changing at a rapid pace, just a few years ago giving a field technician a tablet seemed like a crazy idea which would be costly. This is no longer the case. I would like to know how your service organization views mobility in my latest survey. I discuss topics and questions such as: How many devices do your techs carry for work? What stops your management team from adopting a mobile technology? Is cloud scary for your business? Are smart watches or glass technology a wave of the future or just a cool idea? This current project will cover those topics and many more...
The New Apple MacBook is a Netbook. And that’s Awesome

The New Apple MacBook is a Netbook. And that’s Awesome

While many people focused on the new smartwatch that was announced this week by Apple, it was the new MacBook that was debuted the same day that caught my attention. This new laptop is super light, slim, and designed to be very portable with just enough power to get regular tasks done. In short, it’s a netbook. Now, while others have used the term “netbook” to mock the new MacBook, I mean it in a completely complementary way. While many people mocked netbooks when they rose to prominence years ago, and gleefully celebrated their death as tablets became the trendy super portable computing choice, I’ve always been a fan of netbooks. Yes, they tend to be underpowered, but so are tablets, and you buy a netbook to get basic tasks done, not to edit HD movies. But in almost every other way, a netbook is a winner, especially when compared to tablets. It’s small and light enough to carry around without breaking your back, it has a real keyboard, so it can be used to write things longer than a tweet, and it has most, if not all of the capabilities of a full laptop. Comparably, while tablets are great for certain functions, they don’t serve well as, say, the sole computing device you bring on a business trip. Bringing a tablet on a trip means also bringing a laptop or at least carrying around an additional keyboard, at which point you’re carting around more weight than a netbook. So yes, I am clearly a netbook enthusiast. But does the new MacBook really qualify as one? I say yes,...
Microsoft Windows 10 Will Be Free! (And it Looks Pretty Good Too)

Microsoft Windows 10 Will Be Free! (And it Looks Pretty Good Too)

While there were a lot of really good things to take away from Microsoft’s announcement this week of the consumer preview of Windows 10, probably the biggest takeaway was that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for many current users of Windows 7 and 8. When I first heard it, I thought, “Yes, this is a great idea. Just as Mac OS X, iOS and Android upgrades are free for users, Windows will now be too. This is a good move by Microsoft.” How will this work? Users who have existing systems running Windows 7 and 8 and who meet the qualifications will be able to upgrade for free during the first year of Windows 10’s release. And this is a pretty brilliant move by Microsoft. First, it puts them on the same level as competitors who also offer free operating systems. But more importantly, it could go a long way towards removing one of Microsoft’s biggest problems with Windows, namely, that many people still use older Windows versions such as XP and are more than happy to stick with these older operating systems. For Microsoft, this can be a huge headache as it keeps the channel full of older and inferior versions of Windows and it forces the company to continually support and secure these aging systems. By offering a free upgrade, and encouraging users to do it fairly quickly (within a year), this move could be a significant step toward ensuring that a majority of users are running the latest version of Windows. Beyond the free upgrade discussion, there were some very cool things shown in the consumer preview...
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