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This morning Microsoft announced that its SkyDrive cloud storage service is now hosting over one billion documents thanks to a very successful Office 2013 launch. The success is credited to users being easily able to upload and download their files from within the new Office software.
SkyDrive is the latest brainchild of Microsoft, and is billed as a cloud storage system for consumer, business and enterprise. Office 2013 is now able to save user documents to both the user's HDD as well as SkyDrive simultaneously, mitigating the need for frequent document backups. In a release Microsoft said:
Last week Office 365 Home Premium launched and we've seen a lot of enthusiasm over the seamless integration of SkyDrive for saving and sharing your docs. Recently we reached a big milestone; our customers are now storing over a billion Office documents on SkyDrive!
Cloud storage provider, Dropbox, has updated their service to offer quick Documents Previews of photos and documents. The service is interested in moving away from looking at these specific file types as just files and would rather have a visual emphasis on the actual content stored inside the files.
"This is part of a shift we're seeing that is sort of under way at Dropbox," said Chris Beckmann, product manager for products at Dropbox.
Rolling out over the next few months at Dropbox.com, users will be able to click on many common file types and see a preview of what the file contains. Supported file types will include RTF, PDF, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and, eventually, Excel. Images will have their own way of being displayed.
Photos are laid out on a grid of thumbnails and will be listed chronologically, rather than by file name. A view similar to the one launching on the web is already available through the Android app, and the new view will eventually make its way to the desktop client and iOS client, as well as an updated Android app.
Microsoft has finally launched its long anticipated Office 2013 product. Today the OS and productivity app giant officially launched its Office 2013 and Office 365 products to the consumer market.
In its ever present, yet slow march towards having everything in the "cloud", Microsoft has built a new subscription model around the latest Office products. Starting today consumers will be able to purchase a subscription to Office 2013 through its new Office 365 service.
For $99 a year, subscribers will get access for up to five office installs on Mac or PC's which includes access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access. As an incentive Microsoft is also bundling 20GB of additional SkyDrive space and 60 minutes of Skype calling per month with each subscription. A monthly plan of $9.99 is also available.
Non-subscription packages of Office Home and Student and Office Professional are also available for $139.99 and $399.99 respectively. Finally, Microsoft has ditched using physical media to get Office onto consumers PC and is relying on users downloading the software from the cloud. Even "retail box" versions will only include download instructions.
BitTorrent has announced a new piece of software that is currently in the pre-Alpha stage. Called BitTorrent Sync, this piece of software will allow users to create their own personal cloud and sync files across multiple systems in a manner similar to Dropbox, all without the central repository.
As part of the announcement of this new software, BitTorrent is taking applications to test out the pre-Alpha software and help them work out the bugs. If you want to apply for this, you can check it out at the BitTorrent Labs and fill out the form available here.
Files will be transferred using the BitTorrent protocol, which should allow transfer speeds to increase when the file resides on more than one system. File transfers will utilize 256-bit AES encryption. Mac, Windows, Linux, and NAS servers will all be supported with native apps.
Leaving the GPS function on your smartphone enabled can rip apart through battery life pretty quickly, but with their Facebook check-in, Foursquare check-in and various other GPS-powered apps, what else can we do?
Well, Microsoft researchers have worked out a way to get phones' GPS chips to use significantly less power just by outsourcing some of their functions to the cloud. Researchers with the software giant have worked out a way to use the GPS chips to collect just the most important data from the satellites, while relying on "public, online databases" to collect other key data, "such as satellite trajectories and Earth elevation values, to calculate the device's past locations".
This sounds like an incredibly efficient way of doing things, with Microsoft Research principal researcher Jie Lui telling Technology Review that low-powered GPS chips could lead to more "continuous location-sensing applications" that could give consumers more detailed and accurate information than many of today's GPS-capable apps.
Apple's iCloud services experienced a service disruption today starting at about 2:30PST. Apple updated its service status page, which provides more granular data now than it used to, with the details. Apple says that some users were affected across nearly all of iCloud's services, though iMessage seems to have stayed functional.
The outage lasted until 3:49PST, and Apple has yet to update it with any more information, such as the number or percentage of users affected by the outage. If you experienced the outage, let us know! This outage continues to prove that Apple needs to work on its internet offerings, as it is quickly getting left behind in terms of up-time.
Hold on, everyone, we've got a price war developing. Everyone will likely remember that Google dropped its pricing for Cloud Storage by 20 percent earlier this week ahead of Amazon's big convention-thing. Well, now that Amazon has announced it's cutting its S3 prices, Google is further dropping prices by 10 percent.
This brings the total Google price drop to 30 percent, which is quite the decrease in pricing. The chart seen above contains the old price and the new price. Google had the following to say about the price drop:
We are committed to delivering the best value in the marketplace to businesses and developers looking to operate in the cloud. That's why today we are reducing the price of Google Cloud Storage by an additional 10%, resulting in a total price reduction of over 30%.
It will be interesting to see where this price war leads. Either the two companies will realize that both are losing out by dropping prices, or we could end up seeing some really low cloud pricing until one company says "enough" and stops dropping prices.
Google's cloud computing services have seen a price drop ahead of Amazon's first big event that takes place this week in Las Vegas. The new prices are roughly 20 percent lower and Google has gone ahead and offered a new service to compliment the price drop. The new feature is like Amazon's Glacier service in that it provides large amounts of storage for cheaper prices. These cheaper prices come at the cost of slower access.
Google's new Durable Reduced Availability Storage is an ideal option for data archiving and backup. If you have data that you're required to keep and don't need to access it very often, if at all, this new cloud storage option by Google could be just the thing for you. The archiving pricing, as seen in the chart above, is $.015 to $0.02 cheaper than the new pricing for the standard cloud storage offering by Google.
Google has also introduced a new feature called Object Versioning, which does exactly what it sounds like it does. It allows users of Google's cloud storage to keep a list of updates so that files can be reverted to earlier states or be resurrected after an accidental deletion. This is an experimental feature, which means that updates to it make not be backwards-compatible and that the feature may be removed in its entirety.
Most of our readers will know about the service Dropbox, which provides 2GB of free cloud storage, with ways to earn more and options to pay for more. The service was started roughly five years ago after the creator forgot his USB stick at home. Since then, Dropbox has grown by leaps and bounds and has had to fight off competition from larger tech companies, such as Microsoft and Google.
Today, the Dropbox blog announced that they have 100 million users, "100 million [different] reasons" for needing cloud storage, but a general place to join together. The blog post goes on to share some stories of people who use the service and how they use it to advance whatever worthy cause they are championing.
For instance, Coach Stringfellow:
Among these is Coach Stringfellow in Utah. High school football's a big deal - while there are the lights, crowds, and cheerleaders, less visible are the sweat and tears needed to build a great team. Coach Stringfellow and his players use Dropbox to study game films and scouting reports on their own terms. And because Dropbox keeps everyone connected, the Bountiful Braves have the edge they need to play stronger and smarter.
Google's AI is getting smarter, hopefully won't take over the world or friend request SkyNet on Facebook
Google have been playing with artificial intelligence (AI) for quite a while now, with previous reports and stories of it being able to detect cats in YouTube videos. But now the team is months ahead in their project, where they've been experimenting with different methods and giving it more power.
Google's learning software is all based on simulating groups of connected brain cells, that all communicate and influence each other - which is normally refered to a 'neural network'. When this network is connected to data, the relationships between differing neurons can change. Once this change begins, the network develops new abilities - where it is able to react in different ways to the incoming data, and its new ability is having learnt something.
Learning something for a neural network is the exciting part of it all - and various companies have been playing with this technology for quite a while with the Terminator and Matrix series' famous for making these networks more well-known. Where Google are changing things up is that the Mountain View-based company's engineers have found different ways to put more number-crunching power behind them, creating neural networks that can learn, all without human assistance.