Microsoft Readies Office 2010 Upgrade Program

It is not uncommon for Microsoft to launch a “technology guarantee” program ahead of a new version of Office or Windows, offering buyers of a product late in one cycle an upgrade to the new version once it comes out. So it’s not a shocker that Microsoft has one planned for Office 2010.

That said, Microsoft wasn’t quite ready to tell the world about the program. Nonetheless, an employee briefly posted details of the planned upgrade offer on a blog. It was quickly pulled down, but the cat is out of the bag. (The post also lives on in a Google-cached version, as noted by Ars Technica.)

According to the now-removed posting, the program will kick off March 5, meaning people who purchase Office 2007 between March 5 and September 30 can get a free upgrade to a comparable version of Office 2010. Users will be able to download Office 2010 as soon as it is made broadly available. Customers can also order a DVD, for a small fee.

Buyers get one copy of Office 2010 for each eligible copy of Office 2007 they buy, with a limit of 25 free upgrades per person.

Microsoft said any posting was done in error and the company has nothing to say about a tech guarantee program.

The company did confirm to CNET earlier this week that it has given some testers a near-final “release candidate” version of Office 2010, with the final version due to go on sale in June.

Meanwhile, SD Times has a post up on its Web site noting that Microsoft is considering some new subscription pricing options for business users of Office. Microsoft declined comment on that report.


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iPhone Loses Market Share, But The Devil Is In The Details

As reported by the Wall Street Journal , an ABI Research paper claims (with what sounds like a little too much glee) that the iPhone’s market share among smartphone has dipped to 16.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, compared to a little over 18 percent from the previous three-month period.

During the fourth calendar quarter of 2009, Apple reported sales of 8.7 million iPhones–a growth rate of 18 percent over the previous quarter. Meanwhile, the overall market grew by 26 percent, as a slew of new devices from manufacturers like Nokia and Motorola hit the market and Google’s Android started to make waves in the mobile space.

However, assuming that the nomenclature used in the Journal article is correct, this report could actually be good news for Apple lovers for two reasons. First of all, Apple sales are going up–way up. Between September and December of 2009, Apple sold some 1.3 million more phones than in the previous three months. The smartphone market is growing–and so is Apple’s installed base.

In addition, “sales” and “market share” are not necessarily interchangeable terms. In other words, sales of the iPhone can fail to keep pace with the overall industry for the simple reason that more players are getting into the game and fragmenting the market, without adversely affecting Apple’s overall hold in the realm of the smartphone.

Finally, Apple is a trendsetter in this market space and has created a vibrant eco-system around its products, which, so far, none of its competitors has managed to match. With a growing number of users and apps, it’s clear that sales numbers alone do not tell the whole story.


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Twitter Forces Some Users To Reset Passwords After Phishing Attack

Twitter has apparently forced some users to reset their passwords after a phishing attack, and urged users to choose hard-to-guess passwords and be on the lookout for suspicious third-party activity.

Social networking hacks: Top 10 Facebook and Twitter security stories of 2009

Scottish blogger Andrew Girdwood was among those who reported receiving a message that states “Due to concern that your account may have been compromised in a phishing attack that took place off-Twitter, your password was reset. Please create a new password by opening this link in your browser. … Remember to choose a strong password that is a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Do not reuse your old password.”

Twitter acknowledged the password reset, describing it as a “precautionary step,” but did not say how many users were affected or describe the nature of the phishing attack.

Twitter’s official “safety” account issued a tweet saying “Got an email from us saying we’ve reset your password? A small # of accts seemed possibly affected offsite & we took a precautionary step.” Previous tweets from this account offer advice for avoiding attacks, such as “Giving out your username & password to a 3rd party site promising you more followers: not a good idea AND a violation of the Twitter Rules.”

Twitter’s message to users urged them to remove any updates they did not post themselves; scan their computers for viruses and malware; and check the Twitter connections page and revoke access privileges for any third-party applications they do not recognize.

Twitter has become a magnet for computer hackers because of its increasing popularity, with reports of malware and spam on social networks rising 70% in the last 12 months.


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Google Email Uploader Moves Your Archives To Gmail

Mail storage is the organizational conundrum of the early 21st century for many longtime Mac users. On your hard drive, you probably have an e-mail archive literally dating back to the last century, containing a few thousand irreplaceable, keep-forever messages in an ocean of saved detritus. Searching is a pain, but “reorganizing” your archive is a fate worse than death, so you’ve gamely stuck to your system–until now, when Google Email Uploader for Mac presented a viable alternative.

Every time you log into your secondary Gmail account, you’ve probably heard it beckon to you. “Join us. You have over seven gigabytes of storage available. Searches are instantaneous. Take the blue pill. Tag anything you like and never file a message again. Use IMAP to keep your Mac, iPhone, and that new iPad in sync. Join us. You will kneel before Zod.”

Then reality throws a bucket of cold water in your face, as you contemplate the pain of uploading all of those archived messages to a new account. Sure, this is theoretically possible using IMAP accounts. In reality, I’ve never met an IMAP e-mail application that could reliably copy folders of thousands of messages. (One of several reasons why there are plans afoot to build a more powerful Mac email application.)

Thankfully, Greg Robbins at Google felt our pain when he faced the same problem himself, so he designed Google Email Uploader for Mac, a standalone application which can transfer your archives to Gmail from Mail, Thunderbird, or Eudora.

Google Email Uploader is a free download. Fire it up, give it a few minutes to automatically figure out where your email lives, and the Upload button will work the magic. GEU has options to set labels based on folder names, or to assign them manually–useful if you choose to upload a few folders at a time, instead of everything in one fell swoop.

There are two caveats, though. First, it doesn’t work with email addresses “”; you can only use it with mail accounts hosted by Google Apps for your domain. A standard Apps account is free, and allows you to create up to 50 e-mail accounts at any domain you migrate; if you don’t have your own domain name yet, you can create one in the Google Apps setup form for $10 a year.

Second, the first 500 messages you transfer will be lickety-quick, but afterwards messages are uploaded at the rate of one per second. You can choose individual folders and mailboxes to upload one at a time; each upload gets 500 fast messages before the throttle kicks in.

Google Email Uploader informed me that my mail archive upload will take 68 hours and 52 minutes. I don’t think my MacBook has been stationary for that long since it left a Taiwan warehouse, so I’ll be copying my ~/Library/Mail folder to another Mac and attempting the long upload from there. I’ll be glad to stop in and let you know how it worked…sometime on Tuesday.


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Accessory Turns iPhone into The Mother of All Remotes

A Florida-based company has announced the upcoming availability of a hardware add-on that turns any iPhone or iPod Touch into a universal remote for your home entertainment devices.

The system, dubbed the L5 Remote and produced by Fort Lauderdale-based L5 Technology, is made up of a tiny 1.5 by .85-inch infrared transceiver that hooks up to the dock connector of your device and an app that provides the necessary user interface to communicate with your favorite appliances.

According to L5, the remote will allow users to design their own visual interfaces using a drag-and-drop approach. However, you’ll have to manually assign the functions to the remote by pointing it at the remote of the device you want to control and pressing the button of the desired function.

The L5 Remote serves the same purpose as the universal remotes that Macworldfeatured in its review roundup last October, except that you will presumably be able to position each key exactly where you want it to be, instead of having to rely on a pre-determined layout.

Interestingly, because the hardware portion of the remote needs to be plugged into the dock connector, the interface of the app is actually flipped upside down so that you can point the IR transceiver at your appliances while pressing a button.

The company claims that the remote will work with iPhone and iPod models of all generations–including the original iPhone–and that it will be able to store and reproduce up to 100,000 button codes in up to 1,000 configurations.

Both the software and the hardware accessory, which does not require any external power source and works by simply plugging it into a compatible device, are slated for release in February. The transceiver is expected to retail for $50, while the companion app will be a free download from the App Store.


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