Big changes could be coming to search on Apple’s App Store

Big changes could be coming to search on Apple's App Store

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple is planning on making some changes to its App Store, and has formed a secret team to implement them.

Word around the campfire is that the Cupertino company is considering changes to its search functionality, including a Google-style paid search system in which companies would pay to have their apps listed at the top of search results based on generic search terms.

For example, a developer could cough up part of its marketing budget for prominent placement of its game or app in searches based on genre or theme.

The report states that Apple has assembled a team of 100 people to work on the secret project, which includes a number of engineers from Apple’s advertising group, iAd.

The initiative is reportedly being led by Apple Vice President Todd Teresi, who was originally hired to lead Apple’s iAd division in 2012.

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Microsoft sues US government over hush-hush data requests

Microsoft sues US government over hush-hush data requests

2016 is proving to be the year of privacy debates between the tech world and the US government. In the latest clash, Microsoft has sued the US Government over the right to tell its users when federal agencies request access to private data.

Reuters reports that Microsoft has opened a suit against the policy of secret government data requests. The Redmond-based company alleges that Washington is violating the U.S. Constitution by preventing it from customers of government requests for emails and other documents stored on its remote servers.

In the suit, Microsoft claims it has received 5,624 demands for customer information over the past 18 months. Of those requests, 2,576 supposedly came an attached gag order preventing the company from informing customers of the government seized data.

What's more, Microsoft also says 1,752 orders came without a time limit, preventing it from ever telling customers that the government obtained their digital files.

Legal document argues that the governments breaches US citizen's fourth amendment rights to know if the government searches or seizes their property.

"People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud," Microsoft wrote in the lawsuit. "[The government] has exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations."

This is the latest legal battle between the government and the tech world over digital civil liberties. Earlier this year the issue was first sparked by a FBI vs Apple case, revolving around the data locked in an encrypted iPhone 5C formally owned by shooters involved in the San Bernardino, California shooting massacre last December.


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Microsoft has a clever plan to secure Windows 10 devices

Microsoft has a clever plan to secure Windows 10 devices

Microsoft is soon going to make it compulsory for the manufacturers of Windows 10 PCs, tablets and smartphones to include TPM (Trusted Platform Module) for bolstered security.

In a TechNet post which covered the topic of TPM 2.0 compliance for Windows 10 devices in the future, Microsoft said it would be introducing the cast-iron requirement for systems to include TPM on the day before the anniversary of Windows 10's launch.

Redmond stated: "All shipping devices for Windows 10 across all SKU types must be using TPM 2.0 discrete or firmware from July 28, 2016. This requirement will be enforced through our Windows Hardware Certification program."

TPM is already present on a large number of business-targeted computers and notebooks, where security is always a heightened concern, but it's not so common for consumer machines. That will all change soon enough.

Pi exception

All hardware running Windows 10 desktop editions – that's Windows 10 Home, Pro, Education and Enterprise – must implement TPM 2.0 and ship with it enabled, along with all Windows 10 Mobile devices.

The exception to the rule is Windows 10 IoT Core where TPM will remain optional, so the likes of the Raspberry Pi won't be bound by this new Redmond directive.

TPM encompasses a raft of security mechanisms designed to protect a device from tampering and would-be intruders if the hardware falls into the wrong hands, and the newer TPM 2.0 standard offers a number of clear advantages over TPM 1.2 including support for SHA-256 hashing.

It can be implemented either in discrete form (a separate chip) or as firmware TPM.

Via: PC World

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Final Fantasy 9 lands on Steam with grind-busting boosters

Final Fantasy 9 lands on Steam with grind-busting boosters

Final Fantasy 9 is now available to download for the PC on Steam, and it comes with a promotional launch price, too.

If you purchase the game within the next week, you'll get a 20% discount, meaning you can bag the title for $16.79 or £12.79 (around AU$23.50). The offer expires on April 20.

This one has come rather out of nowhere with no launch fanfare, although it isn't a surprise to see the ninth incarnation of the series pop up with a PC port, given that previous games have received this treatment.

Final Fantasy 9 was released back at the turn of the millennium, and the publisher Square Enix notes that it has sold in excess of five million copies since then.

Boost for the win

This new PC version contains a number of improvements, including seven 'game boosters' such as 'high-speed' and 'no encounter' modes which allow the player to progress more quickly through the game, and concentrate on enjoying the ride with less grind in terms of elements such as slow and convoluted battles.

The game runs on Windows 7, 8 and 10 PCs, with unsurprisingly low minimum requirements that include an Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz CPU, 2GB of RAM, and a GeForce 8600GTS or Radeon HD4650 graphics card along with 7GB of hard drive space for the installation.

The recommended spec stipulates an Intel Core i5 2520 2.5GHz processor with 4GB of system memory.

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Is the MacBook Air on Apple’s chopping block?

Is the MacBook Air on Apple's chopping block?

There will be no new MacBook Air models this year, as Apple is preparing to ditch its most wallet-friendly laptop. At least that's the latest rumor, fueling previous speculation and perhaps lending a little more weight to the prospect of a serious rejig of Cupertino's notebooks in 2016.

As spotted by BGR, tech blogger Jack March claims to have a source who has given him a "strong indication" that Apple won't be launching new MacBook Air models, and that this is the end of the road for the feathery-light portables.

He's not the only pundit to argue against the MacBook Air appearing this year, as others have suggested that a simpler line-up of just the MacBook and MacBook Pro would make sense.

March believes we will see MacBook Pro models that are thinner and lighter than the current Air. By that logic, this year's 13-inch MacBook Pro would effectively be the MacBook Air Retina notebook that folks have been keenly anticipating for years.

Furthermore, Apple seems to have killed off the iPad Air line in favor of the iPad Pro, so perhaps the Air brand has outlived its usefulness all together (particularly given the fact that all MacBooks are now thin and light).

It's worth noting that Blogger March was previously on the money when his sources revealed details on last year's 12-inch MacBook, along with that it was inbound as a new separate brand, and wouldn't be a "12-inch MacBook Air" model.

Money matters

That said, there are strong counterarguments to consider. As we discussed recently in our MacBook Air 2016 news and rumors hub, it is possible that Apple will ditch the Air – but it doesn't seem too likely a prospect, particularly if you look at it from the pricing angle.

MacBooks aren't cheap by any means, but at least the MacBook Air starts at $899 (£749), a much friendlier-looking price compared to the 12-inch MacBook starting at $1,299 (£1,049).

Apple is doing well selling its computers right now – managing growth with its Mac range, swimming very much against the tide – so cutting out the relatively affordable player in Cupertino's notebook range seems like a risky move. In other words, why rock the boat?

Another possibility is that Apple will kill off the smallest 11-inch MacBook Air, and keep the larger model. At any rate, we won't have to wait too long to find out what's planned, as MacBook announcements will likely be coming at WWDC in June.

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How to make Windows 10 notifications last a little (or a lot) longer

One of the nicest features that Microsoft added to Windows 10 is the revamped Action Center and the new notifications system. Instead of just seeing a bunch of glowing icons on your taskbar, Windows 10 notifications pop out of the bottom-right side of the screen. For some people, however, these notifications might be coming and going too quickly.

By default, Microsoft sets Windows 10 notifications to pop out and stay visible for five seconds before disappearing into the Action Center. That’s a good amount of time for most people, but if you'd prefer that notifications stick around just a little bit longer, you can make that so.

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PC sales in reverse gear, slumping to lowest level in a decade

PC sales in reverse gear, slumping to lowest level in a decade

Another round of figures on PC shipments have been released, and following the strong trend of late, there's more bad news for computer manufacturers.

In fact, Gartner's figures for the first quarter of 2016 show a 9.6% drop compared to Q1 of 2015, with total shipments falling to 64.8 million units. That marks the sixth straight quarter in which the analyst firm has observed a decline.

Perhaps the most worrying point of all is the fact that the last time PC shipment numbers dropped below 65 million units was in 2007 – nearly a decade ago now. That's a hell of a long time in the fast-moving world of tech.

Scary slump

So why the major slump? Folks simply aren't replacing their PCs as fast as they used to, with the upgrade cycle lengthening, helped by the fact that hardware is more resilient against becoming obsolete these days. Smartphones have become the priority for people spending their cash on upgrades, too, rather than PCs.

In a broader sense, global economic turbulence has continued to prove problematic, as have unfavourable currency fluctuations.

Gartner also noted that when it comes to the business world, organisations are still testing the waters and formulating upgrade programs, and have not yet started the move to Windows 10. This is expected to happen towards the end of this year, and companies upgrading could also be refreshing their hardware which might help to drive sales.

Right now, though, Windows 10 isn't making much of an impact, and indeed as we've previously discussed it could be a drag factor – because those who have upgraded to Microsoft's newest OS are getting a 'new computer' experience, as it were, without actually having to buy a new PC.

Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, observed: "Vendors that had a strong consumer focus struggled to increase sell in shipments. There was no particular motivation for US consumers to purchase PCs in the first quarter of 2016. There have been increased sales of two-in-one PCs, but not enough to offset the decline in desktop and traditional notebook sales."

The theme of convertible PCs doing better is again a repeated one, and 2-in-1 devices are expected to make good progress over the course of 2016.

Some stability

When it came to the UK, there was some slightly more heartening news as Gartner said that "consumer demand remained stable" as it did in Germany, despite European PC shipments falling 10% year-on-year in total, with EMEA shipment numbers falling to 19.5 million units.

There were another couple of bright spots aside from convertible PCs, and once again one of them was Apple's Mac computers, which managed year-on-year growth of 1% to reach 4.6 million units shipped. Asus also grew 1.5% to hit 5.4 million units, and these two companies were in fourth and fifth place when it came to the top PC vendors.

Lenovo remains top dog with a 19.3% market share, despite its shipment numbers seeing a major drop of 7.2% compared to Q1 2015. HP and Dell are in second and third place respectively.

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Updated: The very best Nvidia GTX 950M, 960M, 965M, 970M and 980M laptops for gamers

Updated: The very best Nvidia GTX 950M, 960M, 965M, 970M and 980M laptops for gamers


Update: We've added the beefy Origin EON17-SLX to our list of 980M machines.

It's much easier to identify a gaming laptop that matches your requirements these days. Nvidia's GeForce 900 series of mobile GPUs now includes the GTX 950M at the lower end, followed by the GTX960M, GTX 965M, GTX 970M and GTX 980M. Which one you'll need depends on your budget, how modern the games are that you want to install and what resolution you want to play them in.

As a rule of thumb, anything up to a GTX 965M will be more than suitable for 1080p gaming, albeit with varying levels of graphical detail and inconsistent frame rates in texture-heavy titles such as Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3. If you won't accept anything less than 60 fps with every graphics options ticked, expect to splash out on a 970M or 980M-equipped laptop - especially if you've set your sights beyond full HD.

Nvidia GTX970M

To help you find out which mobile GPU is for you, we've rounded up the best laptops to feature each chip. We're basically the aspirin to your gaming laptop headache.

GTX 980M

The GTX 980M is the current cream of the crop as far as Nvidia's mobile graphics chips go. (We'll take a look at Nvidia's laptop-bound GTX 980 another time.) The 980M is around 75% as powerful as a desktop GTX 980, which gives you some idea of how meaty it is. The 980M uses a 256-bit memory interface, packs 2,048 CUDA cores and can boost its clock speed up to 1,216MHz. Most laptops with a 980M inside are paired with a large amount of video memory, allowing you to play titles built on massive textures sans slowdown.

origin EON15-X 960M

Origin EON 15-X

The Origin EON 15-X chews through anything you throw at it thanks to its GTX 980M, which is backed up by a huge 8GB of video memory. Having that much vRAM onboard means you won't have to worry about the laptop coping with high-res texture-heavy titles like The Witcher 3, GTA V or Fallout 4. And yes: they all look stunning on the EON 15-X's 15.6-inch 1080p matte display.

MSI GT80 Titan 960M

Gigabyte P35X v5

If you're looking for a powerful gaming laptop that's also compact, the P35X v5 should be on your radar. Its GTX 980 GPU packs a punch thanks to its 8GB of video memory, which you can put to good use on its impressive 4K display. (A 1080p panel is also offered as a choice.) The P35X v5's solid benchmark scores beat those produced by more expensive 980M-equipped rival machines, so if you care more about what's under the hood than the hood itself, it's well worth a look-in.

MSI GT80 Titan 960M

MSI GT80 Titan

The MSI GT80 Titan lives up to its name. It houses not one, but two GTX 980M GPUs configured in SLI and more than delivers the horsepower required for intense gaming sessions. It's quite easily the heaviest GTX 980M-powered computer on the block, but you get a full-sized mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches under the keycaps to make up for that sprained back you'll get after lugging it around.


Origin EON17-SLX

A beast and no mistake, the Origin EON17-SLX combines a stunning display with blazingly-fast SSDs and muscular graphics courtesy of Nvidia's GTX 980M inside. It's all wrapped up in a chassis that's not particularly portable, but is actually nice to look at unlike other gaming tanks. It also features Nvidia G-Sync display tech, desk-quaking audio and an endless list of high-end components including Intel's sixth-generation Skylake processor.

MSI GT80 Titan 960M

Origin EON17-X

Like the MSI GT80 Titan, the Origin EON17-X is a true desktop replacement with a desktop processor inside. On the outside it's basically a larger EON15-X, featuring a 17.3-inch display (with G-Sync support) and a top-end sixth-generation Intel Skylake processor. Its 980M lends it some of the best performance stats we've seen from a laptop thanks to its massive 8GB video memory buffer, and if you're not keen on wearing a gaming headset, the EON17-X's speakers impress too.

Alienware 17 960M

Dell Alienware 17 (2015)

Angular, powerful and delivering attitude in spades, the Alienware 17 has everything fans of Dell's gaming systems want. Packing a large 17-inch display, its GTX 980M chip inside is backed up by an acceptable 4GB of video memory and 16GB of DDR3L RAM. If you're seeking even more power, Alienware's Amplifier lets you connect the laptop to an external GPU enclosure to draw power from a desktop-grade graphics card.

Alienware 17 960M

Acer Predator 15

A laptop that looks like it was built by gamers for gamers, the 980M-powered Acer Predator 15 has a chassis that would light up any LAN party. You probably won't want to bung its massive angular frame into a backpack, but if you do, it's one heck of a portable powerhouse. An Intel Core i7-6700HQ and 4GB of GDDR5 RAM paired with a whopping 32GB of DDR4 of main memory means you'll have no trouble running the latest games.

Acer Predator 17

Acer Predator 17

Trading portability for power, Acer's Predator 17 is the Predator 15, amplified. Featuring a display that measures 17.3 inches across the diagonal, this supersized gaming tank is the biggest, baddest and reddest in Acer's range. Packing Intel's sixth-generation Skylake processor clocked at 2.6GHz, the Predator 17's GTX 980M GPU (with 4GB of video memory) has enough power to churn through the latest games at 1,920 x 1,080 resolution for some time to come. A nifty cooling system keeps Acer's machine under heavy load, but it weighs a ton — so be prepared to hit the gym.

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GTX 970M

Like its desktop equivalent, the GTX 970, the 970M does a better job of balancing performance and cost than the flagship 980M above it. Most models still offer plenty of video memory, but the 970M is less capable of hitting the high notes once you venture beyond full HD. Still, it's the ultimate semi-affordable solution for 1080p/ultra gaming on the go. The 970M packs 1,280 CUDA cores, uses a 192-bit memory interface and features a base clock of 924MHz (plus boost).

Asus ROG G752

Asus ROG G752

A silver-styled laptop with the strength of a silverback gorilla, the ROG G752 packs power and style. While not the lightest of laptops, the GTX 970M inside ensures eye-popping visuals and smooth frame rates courtesy of its G-Sync screen. The G752's display tops out at 1080p, which helps it score points in the value department at the expense of crisper visuals on the desktop and in games.


Schenker XMG P506

The XMG P506 isn't the prettiest 970M-powered Nvidia notebook, but it packs a punch and doesn't cost the world compared to gaming laptops with similar specs. Its GPU is backed up by a beefy 6GB of video memory, which produces benchmark scores that aren't a million miles away from more powerful (and expensive) 980M models. Its 15.6-inch display is bright and attractive, but at 5.5 pounds (2.5kgs) the P506 isn't the most portable option around.

MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 960M

MSI GS60 Ghost Pro

The MSI GS60 Ghost Pro is a stylish machine with a 1080p display. It pairs a 970M with an Intel Core i7 6700HQ Skylake processor making it one of the most capable full HD laptops we've ever tested. It's something of a multimedia all-rounder too thanks to its excellent screen and formidable speakers - plus it has one of the most comfortable keyboards doing the rounds on a gaming laptop.

MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 970M

Aorus X7 Pro-Sync

This monster from Aorus features Nvidia's frame-smoothing G-Sync tech, which eliminates screen tearing to make gameplay super-smooth. On the inside there's a 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-4870HQ processor and - wait for it - dual GTX 970M GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 video memory configured in SLI. Fashioned out of a futuristic lightweight alloy, the X7 Pro-Sync is a tempting blend of power and semi-portability.

Aorus X3 Plus V3 970M

Aorus X3 Plus V3

The slimmest of the lot, the Aorus X3 Plus V3 is a slimline computer that features a GTX 970M chip under the hood, one that's backed up by a whopping 6GB of GDDR5 memory. With that amount, 4K gaming is possible on some titles. Tune down the resolution down a notch or two and you can play any title out there. Just make sure you pack a gaming mouse because the Aorus X3 Plus V3's glass trackpad is a confusing and at times unusable pain point.

Razer Blade 2015 970M

Razer Blade 2015

Styled like a MacBook Pro but packing the power of a portable battlestation, the 2015 Razer Blade is primed for 3K gaming – though you'll want to lower the resolution down from its native 3,200 x 1,800 when playing recent titles if you want to hit 60 fps. Its GTX 970M is paired with 3GB of GDDR5 video memory, and Intel's older Core i7-4720HQ features as the processor. It's highly likely that Razer will update the Blade with Intel's sixth-generation Skylake processors in 2016, but if you can't wait that long then the company's inventive Blade Stealth laptop and docking station combination might prove a tempting alternative.

GTX 965M

The GTX 965M is the newest mobile graphics chip on the block from Nvidia. Lying one place below the 970M, laptops housing a 965M are often equally as affordable as the 960M while bagging you a handful more frames (or more, depending on the title), compared to the that chip. The 965M is configured with 1,024 CUDA cores and has a base clock of 944MHz (plus boost), with a 128-bit memory interface.

Aorus X5

Aorus X5

A thin-and-light 15-inch gaming laptop that's compact enough to slip into a backpack, the Aorus X5 brings the power. The machine somehow manages to squeeze in a pair of GTX 965M GPUs under its aluminium chassis, which measures under an inch thick. Packing a total of 8GB GDDR5 vRAM, the X5 is equipped to tear through games with large textures - and you can even go beyond Full HD thanks to its gorgeous 2,880 x 1,620 pixel-resolution WQHD+ display.

Gigabyte P55K V4

Gigabyte P55K V4

The Gigabyte P55K V4 isn't the prettiest gaming laptop out there, but it packs a punch. Intel's fifth-generation Core i7-5700HQ (quad-core, 2.7GHz up to 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost) Broadwell processor is paired with a GTX 965M (2GB GDDR5) and 8GB of main memory, which all helps games look terrific on the P55K V4's accurate IPS display.

Gigabyte P35K V3

Gigabyte P35K v3

The second Gigabyte entry our list of GTX 965M-powered laptops dials down performance in one or two areas to make it more attractive for budget buyers. The P35K v3 packs a slightly older (but still very capable) Intel Core i7-4270HQ, and its GeForce GTX 965M's 4GB of video memory is actually double that in the 2GB in the P55K V4.

GTX 960M

Lying bang in the middle of the mainstream and performance sector, the Nvidia GTX 960M suffers a significant dip in performance in some games compared to the 970M due to its considerably fewer CUDA cores (640 versus the 970M's 1,280). With a 128-bit memory interface and a base clock of 1,096MHz (plus boost), the 960M is a still a great option for 1080p gaming and models sporting the chip are often (but not always - see the HP Omen) a good deal more affordable than their 970M-equipped competitors.

Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 15

It isn't a gaming laptop, but Dell's XPS 15 makes for a mean 1080p gaming machine thanks to its beefy Skylake processor, 960M and incredible 4K InfinityEdge display. The XPS 15 doesn't weigh a ton and is the most compact 15-inch laptop on the block due its display's thin bezels, making it a great choice if you're frequently carting your gaming machine around in a backpack.

HP Omen

HP Omen

Many gaming laptops with a 960M inside don't feel the need to be stylish, but not the HP Omen. Steeply tapered edges and lights embedded around the chassis make for one of the most eye-catching models out there, and with 4GB of GDDR4 RAM and 16GB of main memory, there's enough grunt under the hood to take on today's most demanding games. It's pricier than other 960M-equipped laptops out there, but style-conscious gamers might think it's worth it.

MSI GE72 Apache Pro

MSI GE72 Apache Pro

The MSI GE72 Apache Pro is an aggressively-styled machine with performance to match. It features plenty of storage for games and is a strong performer thanks to a sixth-generation Intel I7-6700HQ Skylake CPU under the hood paired with a GTX 960M (2GB vRAM) and up to 16GB of DRR4 RAM.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000

Dell Inspiron 15 7000

Affordable yet powerful, the Inspiron 15 7000 deploys Nvidia's GTX 960M to great effect. The mobile GPU's healthy 4GB of GDDR5 video memory means the Inspiron can chew through games packing large textures. If you can cope with its bulky chassis and slow hard drive, the Inspiron 15 7000's great display, speakers and battery life all add to its gaming credentials.

GTX 950M

Nvidia's GTX 950M is the lowest we would recommend you go if you're on the hunt for a gaming notebook. You're looking 1080p gaming squarely in the eye with this mobile chip, but be prepared to tune down some graphics settings (and the resolution) on more recent titles to hit 60 fps. The GTX 950M packs 640 CUDA cores and a base clock speed of 914 (plus boost), with a 128-bit memory interface.

HP Pavilion Gaming Notebook

HP Pavilion Gaming Notebook

One of the best value gaming laptops out there, the HP Pavilion Gaming Notebook is a mean green gaming machine. It features Intel's new Skylake i7-6700HQ processor which also resides in Acer's Predator 15, though the 950M makes for a comparatively modest gaming machine. 60Hz gaming isn't out of the question, but you're more likely to achieve it playing titles from one or two years back and with the graphics turned down a notch or two.

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Should the enterprise consider the Apple Mac again?

Should the enterprise consider the Apple Mac again?

Introduction and changes in enterprise computing

While Apple sells millions and millions of iPhones and iPads, the Mac is more of an oddity in business, especially as companies grow. What might start as a few people with MacBooks on a college campus eventually becomes business users all running Windows on a laptop.

Except for this: IBM recently announced that it is switching to the Mac. And so did SAP. And, as Uber and Buzzfeed have grown, they've stubbornly stayed with the Mac platform, despite having hundreds of users. In fact, the Mac is reappearing in the enterprise. One big reason is that the Mac now offers management software that is much easier to deploy than ever before.

Setup and support

Starting with the serial number for a new Mac, large companies are able to begin the management process before a new Mac is even shrink-wrapped and shipped out.

Another reason is that the user interface is still better. According to IBM, only 5% of tech support calls are related to Mac problems. That's spurred renewed interest in the OS, and a few analysts have told me they see an uptick in adoption.

Yet enterprise users can be still incredulous. PC laptops are still the most prevalent portables at airports, high-tech companies, and hotels. They're cheaper (usually by a few hundred dollars or pounds, possibly more), which makes them more common. Microsoft's new Windows 10 operating system is a hit. It has already been installed on 270 million devices worldwide with the goal of landing on one billion in the next few years. Microsoft owns the business market, or so we've been told again and again.


An open door for Apple?

However, that's starting to change. Gartner analyst Michael Silver, who is the Research VP for Mobile and Endpoint Computing, says most businesses need Windows for about half of the apps they use, despite what you may have heard about the cloud taking over. Yet, as the shift to the cloud makes local enterprise apps less and less viable, the Mac could have an open door.

"We do see the enterprise changing, they are broadening who can have the Mac as an exception to the rule," says Silver. "And, we companies are more likely to choose the Mac."

For any enterprise considering the Mac again, there are three major reasons to choose the platform, but also three major reasons to avoid it. And we're going to detail those reasons on the next page…

Pros and cons

Reasons to switch

1. User-centred management

There's been a dramatic shift in IT to a more user-centred approach. More and more, IT is not 'on-high' dictating which computer and software you need to use. Because of this shift, there is a new trend in embracing the Mac as just another platform available to end users.

Thomas Saueressig, the SVP and Global Head of IT Services at SAP, says his company has deployed Macs "in a five digit number" of units recently, mostly due to the shift in IT.

"The Mac computer has dramatically changed the perception of IT at SAP. It doesn't matter whether our users start their work day using a mobile device while commuting to work and later on continue working at their desk by using a more powerful machine: it has to be a seamless experience," he says.

2. Cloud backup and restore

Code42 is based in the same US city as JAMF Software. The firm's big differentiator is that it is not a scheduled backup service – it operates in the background, with no intervention from the user, and archives local files automatically as you work without much user intervention.

Justine Bienkowski, the IT Team Lead at Buzzfeed, says one of the key benefits of using Code42 is that employees can travel without fear of losing their work, even if that work involves large video files or graphics files.

She says, if someone were to leave the office in New York and fly to London, but leave the laptop in an airport, it would be possible to have a notebook waiting for the employee with a restored cloud backup ready and installed. "We could set up that computer remotely and have it ready for the employee with everything they need," Bienkowski notes.

3. Low tech support costs

IBM insists that the tech support calls for the Mac are incredibly low. That proved accurate in a visit to the company WhenIWork recently, a software developer which makes a timesheet app. According to reps there, they barely have to do any tech support at all. The only issue they've had is related to the trackpad functions, but those questions are usually about how to make the most out of the swipe features and changing some of the settings.

In fact, the main IT support tech, Adele Gower, is the 'office coordinator' and handles issues like employee training and scheduling visits to the company. There are no IT admins. It's just one company that has decided to deploy only Macs, but it shows how small an IT staff is required with Apple's computers. Similarly, at Buzzfeed, even though the organisation has thousands of employees, there are only a handful of IT staff to support the Mac and another 30-35 users who still rely on Windows.

Not all of Apple's computer range is seen as up-to-date like the iMac

Reasons to avoid

1. Missing Mac skills

Gartner's Michael Silver says one big reason many large companies have not switched to the Mac or do not even consider deploying the platform is that the IT staff do not use the Mac, nor do they have the skills required for management. That's offset by the benefits of using the Mac, which is that JAMF Software and Apple itself make deployment easy, but it still changes the IT landscape. IT leaders view the Mac as yet another platform to support and yet another suite of management tools to purchase.

"Gartner's advice is to get out of the business of providing and managing devices and start providing and managing applications and data users need access to so they can consume them on a variety of devices as they like," says Silver, making the point for either platform.

2. High costs

Regardless of the support and management costs, there's still the nagging problem of acquisition costs. The Mac is more expensive than comparable PCs, although Silver argues that a high-end PC workstation costs about as much as a Mac these days. It's just that many Dell and Lenovo business laptops can costs about $500-$700 (or pretty much the same amount in pounds) and most Macs are twice that much.

3. Outdated hardware

For some IT leaders, the real issue with the Mac platform is that the hardware has become slightly outdated. Indeed, the latest MacBook models use a fifth-generation Intel processor even though Skylake, the sixth generation platform from Intel, is readily available.

Macs do not rely on graphics cards from Nvidia and others – they do not use discrete graphics, which makes them unusable for VR products (like the Oculus Rift) which have just started shipping recently. Only the iMac line has been updated recently to support 4K display resolution.

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Would you buy a MacBook with a touchscreen keyboard?

Would you buy a MacBook with a touchscreen keyboard?

Laptops that turn into tablets, tablets with detachable keyboards... the line between tablet, 2-in-1 and laptop is getting blurrier all the time, and a new patent recently filed by Apple suggests the trend for versatile devices is unlikely to go away any time soon.

We're not talking about a touchscreen display here - we're talking about a touchscreen keyboard underneath the display. Haptic feedback would be used to let you know when you've hit a key, though you'd just be hitting a flat surface with your fingers.

It's essentially an iPad-style on-screen keyboard for your laptop: something Apple is dubbing "zero travel" (because your fingers don't actually travel anywhere). No doubt the MacBook would be able to get even thinner as a result.

Keyboard evolution

Apple patent

While keyboard-lovers would be up-in-arms if the MacBooks adopted this new system, it would allow for flexible, custom keyboards just like those on iOS. The keyboard layout could change depending on the application being used.

Presumably battery life could be improved as well, which may help to sell the idea to MacBook buyers. Ultimately, Apple is unlikely to ditch the physical keyboard altogether - this is more likely to be an optional extra rather than something for its entire range.

As seasoned patent-watchers will know, these filings only show the ideas being thrown around behind the scenes, and there's no guarantee something like this will ever see the light of day - though it's fun to imagine a flat, touch-sensitive laptop keyboard.

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