Showing posts with label amazon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label amazon. Show all posts

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Microsoft releases Windows 8 for public testing

Microsoft Windows 8
Microsoft Windows 8
(Reuters) - Microsoft Corp released an incomplete version of Windows 8 for the public to download and try out on Wednesday, looking to rev up excitement for the slick, new-look operating system that it hopes will restore its fading tech supremacy.

Windows 8, as the first Microsoft operating system compatible with low-power microprocessors designed by ARM Holdings Plc, will run on tablets as well as desktops and laptops, in an effort to counter the runaway success of Apple Inc's iPad.

"It's an even better Windows than Windows 7," said Steven Sinofsky, head of Microsoft's flagship Windows unit, as he demonstrated the new system at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Windows 7, Microsoft's last operating system, was its fastest-selling ever, racking up 525 million sales in less than three years. But Microsoft has found itself sidelined in the rush toward mobile computing by Apple, Google Inc and Inc.

"It's incredibly fast and fluid to just navigate this UI (user interface)", said Sinofsky, showing off Windows 8 on a tablet and an ultra-thin laptop at the event in Barcelona.

Anyone can download the new version of Windows, but it will only work on PCs and laptops running standard Intel Corp x86 chips. Consumers will have to wait longer to try out the full experience on ARM-compatible tablets.

It is available for download at

Sinofsky said people from 70 countries had already downloaded the software on Wednesday morning, but he did not give exact numbers.

Microsoft says it is aiming to get machines running on both the ARM and Intel platforms into the market at the same time, but has not set a target date. The world's largest software company generally tries to bring out a new version of Windows every three years, so that would indicate a full release date around October this year, in time for the holiday shopping season.

In both versions, Windows 8 features a completely new interface, borrowed from what Microsoft calls the "Metro" style of the current Windows Phone software. It features blocks or "tiles" that can be moved around the screen or tapped to go straight into an application.

The latest version of Windows 8 unveiled on Wednesday has better performance, quality and reliability than the version it released to developers last autumn.

For the first time, this version of Windows 8 includes the Windows Store, where users can download and try out apps and get access to cloud storage with the ability to move content across a range of devices including Windows phones. It also uses a test version of Microsoft's newest browser, Internet Explorer 10.

The Windows Store has a range of apps including a reader for Gannett Co Inc's national newspaper USA Today, games such as Cut the Rope, and other titles compatible with Microsoft's Xbox video game system. But it is still tiny in comparison with the 140,000 apps available for the iPad. Users need to sign on with a Microsoft account to download apps, which are all free during the test period.

The test version of Windows 8 has mail, calendar and messaging apps, but no evidence of Office, Microsoft's dominant suite of work applications. Sinofsky said earlier this month that a version of Office would be included in Windows 8 for ARM tablets.

Microsoft's shares fluctuated on the Nasdaq, but briefly hit a new four-year high of $32.00 in early trading. The shares were down 17 cents at $31.70 in afternoon trading.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

24 million customer accounts hacked at Zappos

(Reuters) - Online shoe retailer Zappos told customers this weekend that it has been the victim of a cyber attack affecting more than 24 million customer accounts in its database.

The popular retailer, which is owned by, said customers' names, email addresses, billing and shipping addresses, phone numbers and the last four digits of credit cards numbers and scrambled passwords were stolen.

But it said the hackers had not been able to access servers that held customers critical credit card and other payment data.

"We were recently the victim of a cyber attack by a criminal who gained access to parts of our internal network and systems through one of our servers in Kentucky," Zappos chief executive Tony Hsieh said in an email to staff which was posted on the company's blog on Sunday.

"We are cooperating with law enforcement to undergo an exhaustive investigation," he added.

Zappos said it was recommending that customers change their passwords including on any other website where they use the same or similar password.

The company, which is well known for its customer service, said due to the high volume of customer calls it is expecting it will temporarily switch off its phones and direct customers to contact via email.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How would you change Amazon's Kindle (2011)?

Kindle Dictionary
Amazon's Kindle is, broadly, the million-selling gold-standard that all other e-readers aspire to. This year's edition was slashed back to basics, with the hardware keyboard, touchscreen, expandable memory, 3G access and MP3 support sacrificed in favor of a $79 (with ads) price tag. Now you've had three months to get to grips with the changes, do you feel it was worth it? Do you miss the keyboard, are the adverts too intrusive, is it the right size for comfortable use? If you were in Jeff Bezos' shoes, let us know what you'd have done differently in the comments below.

News by Engadget

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Want to buy clothes online? New technology may help

Buy Clothes
(Reuters) - Asaf Moses is in the midst of displaying a new way to measure body dimensions.

A virtual instructor prompts him to turn 90 degrees to the left and adopt various poses such as "The Penguin," aimed at capturing over 20 different measurements using a device that many people have embedded in their laptops -- a simple webcam.

"It's capturing everything that's needed to tailor a shirt to your measurements", said Moses. And it's all online.

Shoppers generally flock to malls during the holidays beginning on Black Friday, although in recent years many have headed to the Internet. A recent survey by analytics firm comScore predicted online shopping would increase 15 percent this current holiday season.

Yet buying apparel from a website can cause problems finding the right size, look and fit for your body type and personal tastes. As a result, several technology companies have created new ways for people to size themselves up at home.

Moses, the co-founder of one such technology company from Germany, UPcload, said his system takes just three minutes and generates measurements as accurate as a tailor.

Once measured, shoppers will be able to access their measurements at supporting retailers' websites so they can see, for example, if a size small-sized t-shirt will fit around their chest or be long enough to drape down their torso. is taking the task of finding the perfect fit a step further by using robotic mannequins with dimensions similar to a shopper's in a sort of virtual fitting room.

"Robots are a fantastic tool to see how garments look on differently sized human bodies", said Heikki Haldre, co-founder and CEO of the Estonia-based company.

Each garment is photographed 2000 times, accounting for the permutations of body measurements that the robots morph into.

"When the customer goes online to see the garment on their body measurements, they are seeing one of those pre-recorded images," said Haldre.'s virtual fitting rooms are currently being used by retailers such as Thomas Pink and Ermenegildo Zegna.

Haldre said that users of the technology are almost 10 times more likely to make a purchase.


That boost is significant. Forrester Research forecasts that only 10.9 percent of apparel and accessories transactions will be conducted online by the end of 2011, far less than the 25 percent for books and 17 percent for consumer electronics.

"Books and electronics are the most penetrated categories because they're easy to purchase online -- you don't need to touch or feel them," said Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principal analyst of eBusiness for Forrester Research.

Mulpuru said the apparel shoppers' online hesitancy is complex, extending beyond finding the perfect fit.

"It's not just a science. A lot of it is personal preference," which is difficult for technology to address.

Moses of UPcload said accounting for people's varying tastes is something the company considered during development.

"When we started, we had this intention to tell you your size ... (but) people's preferences play an enormous role. Some people want their clothing tight, and some want it loose," he explained. Now UPcload just provides details on the fit.

Haldre of agrees. "The fitting room looks at size from the perspective that 'it's a matter of a style', he said.

"It's surprising how many people choose a size that is not recommended by the size chart. Almost half would go for a size smaller, or even a couple sizes larger."

Looking ahead, Haldre envisions an online shopping world where people will "see how clothing will look on them -- with their face and other apparel they might be wearing."

For instance, another company, Zugara, lets customers overlay garments on themselves using a webcam.

Haldre predicted the convergence of various technologies would create a big shift in shopping, eventually leading to online making up 30 percent of apparel purchases.

But Mulpuru was more skeptical.

"I don't know that we'll ever get to 30 percent, because ultimately it's a very personal decision," she said.

"So much of what happens in a store is not just about fit. It's also about someone saying 'that looks great on you' and getting social validation for a product -- and that's something that an algorithm definitely can't account for."

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving kicks off fight for holiday sales

Holiday Shopping
(Reuters) - The holiday shopping season is in full swing on Thursday, with retailers hoping consumers will spend big despite worries about the fragile economy and their own precarious finances.

The shopping period has been underway for some time as retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Toys R Us started early by offering layaway programs.

But shoppers are looking for major bargains and retail executives are predicting a more competitive season than 2010.

An Old Navy store in Watchung, New Jersey, was teeming with shoppers on Thursday morning, while a line outside a Best Buy in Union, N.J., included shoppers who had pitched a tent to stay warm until the store's midnight opening, according to Charles O'Shea, a Moody's senior retail analyst.

O'Shea said he was visiting various retailers to gauge consumer traffic. The big draws are deals, like t-shirts for $6, down from $12. Bargains like those will be a fixture for the season, he said.

"There is no question that the shopper is looking for deals," O'Shea said. "Nobody wants to feel like they're leaving money on the table, especially when they have less money now."

Millions of U.S. people will head out to shop once they are done with their turkey dinners, getting a jump-start on "Black Friday" - the single biggest shopping day of the year, which sets the tone for the entire season.

Still, many others will be watching their pennies.

Paula Taero, a 58 year-old housekeeper from Queens, New York who was shopping on Thursday at a Kmart in Manhattan, said she is cutting back this year on her Christmas shopping.

"Santa will buy for others. I don't have so much money this year."

Wal-Mart, Old Navy, which is part of Gap Inc and KMart, owned by Sears Holdings', are among the few retailers open on Thanksgiving. Toys R Us opens Thursday evening.

To narrow the gap in store hours with rivals, discounter Target Corp, electronics chain Best Buy and department store chains Macy's Inc and Kohl's Corp will open at midnight - their earliest starts ever.

Others, including J.C. Penney Co Inc, are opening early Friday morning as they did last year.

The National Retail Federation expects sales in November and December to be up 2.8 percent over last year, but below 2010's 5.2 percent gain. So retailers, online and offline, see little margin for error.


Wal-Mart starts its Black Friday "doorbuster" deals on Thursday at 10 p.m. at its stores. Inc, not to be outdone, will offer its deals online at 9 p.m.

Newspaper inserts on Thursday morning were boasting of the usual "Black Friday" bargains to get people into stores. For example, Staples Inc was offering an ink jet printer for 60 percent off, while Target was offering 46-inch, high-definition televisions for about 45 percent off.

The knock-down-drag-out fight comes as the rebound in sales cooled in October, when many top chains like Macy's and Saks reported disappointing sales.

It will be even tougher for chains that have struggled with sales declines lately, like Gap and Penney.

The NRF expects 152 million people to hit stores this weekend, up 10.1 percent from last year.

But much of that traffic will be fueled by bargain hunting, analysts said, with the real test coming after the weekend when retailers see if spending happens only if there are big bargains on the table.

Last year, after a strong Black Friday weekend, shoppers sat on their hands until closer to Christmas.

This year, those looking for steals beyond the requisite "Black Friday" specials may be disappointed.

In a research note on Tuesday, Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner said: "Bargain hunters may have a tougher time finding those markdowns this year, as retailers are keeping a sharper eye on profit margins."

Either way, middle class shoppers are also more frugal now, taking a page from their lower income counterparts, Andrew Stein, vice president of marketing planning at Sears Holdings told Reuters.

"The Kmart customer has always been a value shopper. The rest of the country is behaving like the Kmart shopper now," he said, noting that there were a lot of people at Kmart's layaway lines on Thursday.