On Tech Brief today: Microsoft thinking on Windows 8 is leaked, court documents indicate Dell may have known about computer faults years before it acknowledged them, and Nokia's advice on holding mobile phones.
• The blogosphere is excited about the leak of what appear to be documents illustrating Microsoft's early thinking about the future of Windows. Whilst the company is not commenting, the slides indicate possible facial recognition technology in future editions, as well as a little envy about Apple's success, according to Stephen Chapman at Microsoft Kitchen:
"There appears to be considerable planning taking place as to how a user will access Windows. Right off the bat, one of my favorites is [a] prototype which shows a user logging in via facial recognition! Basically, you enroll your face, then all you should have to do from that point forward is sit down, have your webcam get a look at you and then log you in based on facial recognition."
If so, presumably the boffins in Redmond have thought through how to avoid someone logging in by simply holding up a photo of a person whose computer they want to hack in to! The documents also indicate that Microsoft may be a little jealous of Apple's success with customers, as Mr Chapman explains:
"Included in these presentations is a rather telling (but obvious) slide which shows that Microsoft is clearly paying attention to Apple while planning Windows 8. Titled, 'How Apple does it: A virtuous cycle,' Microsoft has broken down Apple's UX/Brand Loyalty cycle and cited its value. Though it's fairly obvious, the takeaway here is that Microsoft is aiming to give Windows the very same 'it just works' status that Apple's products are known for."
• The New York Times has been poring over court documents released in a civil case being pursued against Dell in the US, over computers that the firm allegedly sold knowing they were likely to break down:
"Documents recently unsealed in a three-year-old lawsuit against Dell show that the company's employees were actually aware that the computers were likely to break. Still, the employees tried to play down the problem to customers and allowed customers to rely on trouble-prone machines, putting their businesses at risk. Even the firm defending Dell in the lawsuit was affected when Dell balked at fixing 1,000 suspect computers, according to e-mail messages revealed in the dispute."
Dell declined to comment on the case to the New York Times, and it has yet to come to trial. But Ashlee Vance highlights some interesting discussions between Dell employees:
"In one e-mail exchange between Dell customer support employees concerning computers at the Simpson Thacher & Bartlett law firm, a Dell worker states, 'We need to avoid all language indicating the boards were bad or had 'issues' per our discussion this morning.' ... In other documents about how to handle questions around the faulty OptiPlex systems, Dell salespeople were told, 'Don't bring this to customer's attention proactively' and 'Emphasize uncertainty.'"
• Over at The Guardian, Charles Arthur is exercised by some bizarre terms and conditions imposed on users of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website. The terms are drafted in such a way that just reading them implies your assent. But most notably perhaps, you apparently need the organisers' permission even if you want to just link to one of its pages:
"About linking by hypertext to our website: Before providing a link to our site you must seek our permission. To do this, email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of the URL to which you wish to link and the URL of the page on which you will be displaying the link. We do not permit the display of our web pages in any HTMLl [sic] frame unless we have expressly authorised this."
The organisers told the Guardian that the Fringe website's terms and conditions are kept under review.
• In the battle for web access supremacy, Google's web browser Chrome appears to have passed an important milestone in the United States, by beating Apple's Safari browser to become third most popular in the country for the first time:
"Chrome nabbed the spot with an 8.97 percent share, following behind Internet Explorer with 52 percent and Firefox with 28.5 percent. Safari ranked fourth according to their stats with 8.88 percent. Globally Chrome has been in third place for some time, but this is the first time it's surpassed Safari in the United States."
Finally, for today, after Apple's much reported issues over iPhone signal declining when the latest model is held in a particular way, Nokia have taken the opportunity to gloat a little about the fact you can hold their phones any way you want, and highlight a few popular styles, like the "Four Edge Grip":
"Regardless of the size of your hands, the Four Edge Grip (FEG, for short) is a universal grip which involves all of your fingers and thumb, each having hold of one edge of the device (the middle and ring fingers actually double up to provide an opposing force to the much stronger thumb). You'll find a little gap develops between the back of the phone and the palm, which is useful. For something."
JBC goes on to have a little dig at Nokia's rival, Apple:
"Providing a wide range of methods and grips for people to hold their phones, without interfering with the antennae, has been an essential feature of every device Nokia has built ... Of course, feel free to ignore all of the above because realistically, you're free to hold your Nokia device any way you like. And you won't suffer any signal loss. Cool, huh?"
Links in full
• Stephen Chapman | Microsoft Kitchen | Windows 8 Plans Leaked: Numerous Details Revealed
• Ashlee Vance | New York Times | In Suit Over Faulty Computers, Window to Dell's Fall
• Charles Arthur | Guardian Technology Blog | Please don't read this post about the Edinburgh Fringe site
• Laura June | Engadget | Chrome overtakes Safari for number three browser spot in the US
• JBC | Nokia Conversations | How do you hold your Nokia?