Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Lawsuit against Microsoft brings gates to the stand

Story first appeared in the Associated Press.

Microsoft's Bill Gates returns to the witness stand Tuesday to defend his company against a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit that claims the software giant tricked a competitor into huge losses and soared onto the market with Windows 95. A Boston Intellectual Property Lawyer was keeping himself posted as the case continued.

Utah-based Novell Inc. sued Microsoft in 2004. The company says Gates duped them into thinking he would include its WordPerfect writing program in the new Windows system, then backed out because he feared it was too good. A Frankfurt Intellectual Property Lawyer watched the high profile case closely.

Novell said it was later forced to sell WordPerfect for a $1.2 billion loss.

Gates testified Monday that Microsoft was racing to put out Windows 95 when he dropped technical features that would no longer support the rival's word processor because engineers warned it would crash the system. A Leeds Intellectual Property Lawyer thought that this appeared to be a reasonable answer.

Windows 95 was a major innovation, and Gates said he had his mind on larger issues. A Nashville intellectual Property Lawyer said this is not uncommon.

Gates said Novell just couldn't deliver a Windows 95 compatible WordPerfect program in time for rollout, and its own Word program was actually better. He said that by 1994, Microsoft Word was rated No. 1 in the market above WordPerfect. A Pittsburgh Intellectual Property Lawyer said she liked Microsoft Word.

WordPerfect once had nearly 50 percent of the market for computer writing programs, but its share quickly plummeted to less than 10 percent as Microsoft's own office programs took hold.

Microsoft lawyers say Novell's loss of market share was its own doing because the company didn't develop a Windows compatible WordPerfect program until months after the operating system's rollout. A San Francisco intellectual Property Lawyer agreed this would be a tough argument.

Gates called it an "important win" in an email to executives.

Attorneys for Novell, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Attachmate Group as a result of a merger earlier this year, concede that Microsoft was under no legal obligation to provide advance access to Windows 95 so Novell could prepare a compatible version. The Redmond, Wash.-based company, however, enticed Novell to work on a version, only to withdraw support months before Windows 95 hit the market, Novell attorney Jeff Johnson said. A Zurich intellectual Property Lawyer listen closely.

Microsoft lawyer David Tulchin argued that Novell's missed opportunity was its own fault, and that Microsoft had no obligation to give a competitor a leg up.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz late Monday denied Microsoft's request to dismiss the case. He said Novell's claims appeared thin but that he would let the case continue another month and allow a jury to decide. An Athens Intellectual Property Lawyer said a jury would have a tough choice to make.

Gates was the first witness to testify Monday in his company's defense after a month-long case by Novell. Cross-examination begins Tuesday.

Gates, a billionaire, began by testifying about Microsoft's history. He was just 19 when he helped found the company. Today, Microsoft is one of the world's largest software makers, with a market value of more than $210 billion. A Bucharest Intellectual Property Lawyer would like to have Gates as a client.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Problem with iPhone Battery

Story first appeared in USA TODAY.

Apple concedes there's a problem with the new iPhone 4S battery life after all — a snag that apparently extends to other devices running the new iOS 5 mobile operating system software.

A small number of customers have reported lower-than-expected battery life on iOS 5 devices. Apple has found a few bugs that are affecting battery life, and they will release a software update to address those in a few weeks.

Apple didn't reveal the nature of the bugs or go into any other specifics.

Apple's statement follows a rash of complaints in various online Apple forums from customers upset about battery woes on the new iPhone 4S. As previously reported in USA TODAY, users said they've lost as much as 15% of the battery power per hour, even when the phone is not in active use. Last Friday, TheGuardian reported that Apple engineers contacted iPhone 4S owners seeking an answer to the battery issue.

Some speculation has centered around a location setting involving a "time zone" function that is useful for customers who travel a lot but that may potentially sap the battery. Also, iOS 5 brings a systemwide Notification Center that keeps users constantly informed of missed calls, messages, appointments, reminders and more.

Apple touted great battery life for the iPhone 4S — up to eight hours of 3G talk time — when it introduced the phone last month.

Creative Strategies President Tim Bajarin believes the fact that the issue can be resolved through a software fix makes a big difference and that sales won't be hurt. Apple tends to wait until they're certain of a problem and then works very fast to try and correct it.

The fact that Apple said the bugs lie within iOS 5 suggests other products may be affected, including the iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone 4 and 3GS.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lenovo Tablet Review

Story first appeared in USA TODAY.

Persuading people to embrace a tablet that's not an Apple iPad compels rivals to come at buyers from a different angle. Lenovo's angle is to market a tablet at mobile professionals and students for office or classroom use. As the Chinese computer maker behind the ThinkPad-branded notebooks that are popular in business, Lenovo would appear to have the chops to pull it off.

The result is the ThinkPad Tablet that went on sale recently. I've appreciated many ThinkPad notebooks dating back to the IBM days — Lenovo snagged the ThinkPad franchise from IBM more than six years ago — so I was curious how Lenovo's tablet would measure up. Well, Lenovo has produced a solid machine — one that in the end I liked but didn't love.

Though the design and use of a tablet obviously differ from a laptop, you get the sense that the device was meant to evoke warm feelings from fans of ThinkPad notebooks. It costs $499 for a model with 16 gigabytes of storage, $569 for 32 GB and $669 for 64 GB. All are Wi-Fi-only; Lenovo hasn't announced specifics for versions with cellular connectivity, though a SIM slot is on board.

The tablet fuses business needs with entertainment and runs Android version 3.1 Honeycomb. It's about an inch taller than an iPad 2 and thicker. At 1.65 pounds, it's got some girth — providing space for a full-size USB 2.0 port that is concealed behind a sliding door. (Apple iPad has no USB.) There's also a microUSB port (you can use for charging) and a miniHDMI port for connecting to a high-definition television (at 1080p) and microSD card reader. There are front- and rear-facing cameras but no flash.

ThinkPad has a 10.1-inch multitouch display protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass. The screen didn't wow me. The home screens are a combination of icons, widgets, a carousel app wheel and a so-called Lenovo Launcher for quick access to frequently used apps, but I found the overall software interface to be cluttered and a little confusing. I rarely used the four physical buttons at the bottom of the screen (in portrait mode) for locking the screen, browsing, returning to a previous screen, and returning to the home screen.

As with the iPad, you can browse the Web (including Adobe Flash video, unlike iPad), fire slingshots on Angry Birds or watch a flick via Netflix. Those are among the preloaded apps, joining an app collection that includes Amazon's Kindle app, Amazon MP3, Slacker radio and the Zinio magazine reader. You can, of course, tap into the Android Market to fetch additional apps or browse through a modest selection in Lenovo's own App Shop, a nod to IT managers who might be concerned about viruses turning up on apps purchased elsewhere.

Still, you are drawn to this machine for its serious side. Along those lines, Lenovo supplies free Documents To Go software that lets you create and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files — an app that otherwise costs $14.99 in the Android market. The machine has security and remote access tools aimed at keeping the IT manager at your company happy. A USB file manager app lets you easily drag and organize files from a USB drive onto the tablet.

What stood out for me, though: a pair of optional accessories. For starters, ThinkPad is one of the few modern tablets to take advantage of a pressure-sensitive digitizer pen that you can use to draw, doodle or capture notes in a lecture hall or meeting room. The pen costs $30 at Too bad the company didn't include it gratis.

One place to use the pen is in MyScript's Notes Mobile app. You can leave notes in a notebook just as you wrote them or convert your scribbles into text, with more misses than hits in my test. You can also use the pen in Documents To Go.

The other accessory is a $100 keyboard folio that lets you prop up the tablet to use with a physical qwerty keyboard. When you're done, you leave the tablet inside and fold the whole thing up into a neat cover. It's a fine mobile keyboard, even if it doesn't measure up to the ones on ThinkPad notebooks. I was less pleased with the finicky optical Trackpoint that made me long for its eraser-head counterpart on Lenovo notebooks. Lenovo says the machine will last 8.7 hours off a single charge with Wi-Fi turned on. But I got only a little more than six hours in an informal battery test with brightness turned up to the max and a heavy dose of streaming video. The machine should do better under less-taxing conditions.

If you're looking for a tablet that mixes business and pleasure, ThinkPad fits the bill.