Microsoft bows to pressure: Office 2013 is no longer tied to a single computer

Microsoft Office 2013 logo

With the release of Office 2013 Microsoft took the opportunity to review and update the software license agreement in a way that upset just about everyone. The new license tied a retail copy of Office 2013 to a single computer forever. If your machine died, so did the copy of Office installed on it and you’d have to purchase a new license to continue using it.

The new terms clearly stirred up a lot of anger, and Microsoft has now responded to that by updating the license agreement to relax the restriction. Microsoft has stated that in response to “customer feedback,” you can now transfer Office 2013 from one PC to another. The change is effective immediately for anyone using a copy of Office Home and Student, Home and Business, Professional, or the individual Office applications.

The change effectively sees Office revert back to the license restrictions used for Office 2010. You can transfer Office 2013 to a new machine once every 90 days, or more frequently if your hardware fails. You can also transfer ownership to a machine owned by someone else. In all cases, you can’t continue to use it on the previous machine.

This decision will stop the complaints, but you have to wonder why Microsoft ever decided to do this in the first place. Hardware fails, and asking individuals to re-purchase software due to a hardware fault is ridiculous. Lets hope Microsoft has learned from this and doesn’t implement the same restriction again in future for Office or any other applications for that matter.

Now read: Microsoft Future Vision builds a smarthouse worthy of Tony Stark

CyanogenMod quickly brings Android 4.2.2 to many devices

CyanogenMod 4.2.2

With all the excitement surrounding Android 4.2.2 this week, as you look down at your non-Nexus phone or tablet you may be feeling more than a little left out. Fortunately, the CyanogenMod team has worked quickly to release nightly builds of CM 10.1 to their lineup.

It’s not always easy to sift through an Android update, as history has taught the CyanogenMod team. Previous Android updates that seemed small on the outside have often had so much underlying code that the merge took weeks. Android 4.2.2 is all about polish, slightly changing dozens of tiny things across the operating system. Adding colons and changing font size, as well as fixing some known performance and Bluetooth bugs.

There are more than a few tiny changes, but now that the changes are live in the Android Open Source Project, Android developers can get to work merging the changes into their own projects. CyanogenMod, as one of the largest third party Android OS developers, will be releasing updates to their lineup of supported smartphones over the weekend.

Android 4.2.2

On top of the Nexus devices that are already running Android 4.2.2, CM10.1 nightlies for the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy Tab P1000, and Asus Trnasformer Prime Infinity are available. Throughout the weekend, more smartphones and tablets are likely to become available. The CM team briefly commented on their progress, noting that as one device in a “family” becomes available, the others will be quick to follow behind. So, if your carrier version of something like the Galaxy S3 isn’t available yet, you won’t be waiting for very long. All of the work being done here continues toward the monthly stable release of CM10.1, which will be announced later this month.

CyanogenMod 10.1 remains the best way to bring your gadget to the latest version of Android, since even phones that will be announced next week will not get the update to Android 4.2.2 from the manufacturer for at least a couple of months. In the case of a phone like the Galaxy S3, whose version of Android is so heavily augmented by Samsung, it’s more likely that the Galaxy S4 will be released before an update is available.

Now read: Android 4.2.2 coming to most Nexus devices

Retail copies of Office 2013 are tied to a single computer forever

Microsoft Office 2013 logo

With the launch of Office 2013 Microsoft has seen fit to upgrade the terms of the license agreement, and it’s not in favor of the end user. It seems installing a copy of the latest version of Microsoft’s Office suite of apps ties it to a single machine. For life.

What does that mean in real terms? It means if your machine dies or you upgrade to a new computer you cannot take a copy of Office 2013 with you to new hardware. You will need to purchase another copy, which again will be tied to the machine it is installed upon forever.

This license change has been confirmed by The Age’s reporter Adam Turner after several frustrating calls to Microsoft’s tech support and PR departments. It effectively turns Office 2013 into the equivalent on the Windows OEM license where you get one chance to use it on a single piece of hardware.

Microsoft Office 2013 apps

On previous versions of Office it was a different story. The suite was associated with a “Licensed Device” and could only be used on a single device. But there was nothing to stop you uninstalling Office and installing it on another machine perfectly legally. With that option removed, Office 2013 effectively becomes a much more expensive proposition for many. As a reminder, Office 2013 costs anywhere from $140 to $400 depending on the version chosen (Office Home & Student, Office Home & Business, or Office Professional), all of which carry the new license agreement.

Of course, Microsoft has a solution to this in the form of Office 365. Instead of buying a retail copy tied to a single machine, you could instead subscribe to Office 365, which is tied to the user not the hardware, and can be used across 5 PCs or 4 Macs at any one time. But subscriptions aren’t for everyone, and eventually you end up paying more for the software.

It’s more likely these new license terms will push users to choose an alternative to Office 2013 or Office 365. Both OpenOffice and LibreOffice are free and good enough for the consumer market. Google is also continuing to push its free-to-use Google Docs as an alternative to Office.

JJ Abrams and Gabe Newell hint at collaboration in the future

Gabe Newell and JJ Abrams

It’s usually pretty big news when Gabe Newell announces a new game, or When JJ Abrams announces a new television show or movie. The anticipation alone for the release of whatever was announced by either of these two is typically enough to power a building. Hearing — from their own mouths — that JJ and Gaben might be working together on a future project is almost more excitement than a geek could handle.

At the DICE summit, Gabe Newell and JJ Abrams took to the stage to offer a brief keynote on storytelling in games and movies. Since the act of telling a story in a movie or television show is a little different than in a video game, you can imagine that JJ and Gabe have very different opinions on how a story should be told.

Gabe Newell thinks that the person watching the movie wants to interact with the world they are in, while JJ Abrams feels that most people don’t really know what to do in an environment like that. Is it better to be the guy sitting on your couch shouting about how you would have done it differently, or the guy who gets bored half way through some important dialogue and decides to carve his initials in the wall with bullets?

Maybe it’s a little of both, and maybe that’s why Newell and Abrams teased that they plan to try and work on something together in the future.

It’s far from a solid commitment to make anything at all, but just knowing that these two heavyweights were involved would likely be enough to have people line up around the block for it. Whether it is JJ stepping into the Valve offices and working with Gabe and his crew on a game, or having an extra chair on the set of Abrams’ next smash hit that says Newell on the back, the idea of them working together is something that excites both of them. Whatever it is, we’re probably going to have to watch Star Trek: Into Darkness frame by frame to figure it out.

The European Space Agency is planning a 3D printed moon base

moon base

Humanity hasn’t been to the moon in decades, but various space agencies around the globe are planning to head back. This time it’s not just for a short visit — the plan is to build a permanent base that can act a launching pad for missions further out in the solar system. The problem is how to build a moon base without transporting all the heavy materials from Earth. The European Space Agency (ESA) thinks it’s got the solution: 3D printing.

3D printing on Earth has been used to make structures, so it is believed that the same could be done on the moon with lunar soil as the raw material. Using lunar regolith analog (basaltic rock from a volcano in Italy), researchers were able to build a massive 1.5 ton building block as a proof of concept. The design would utilize an inflatable dome to hold an atmosphere with hollow closed-cell structures printed on site.

The oversized 3D printer was supplied by UK-based Monolite. It’s a D-shaped rig with an extruder nozzle on a 6-meter wide frame. Like a 3D printer on Earth, the nozzle moves around and lays down material layer-by-layer. The machine can currently build 2-meters of wall units per-hour, but the next prototype should bump that up to 3.5 meters.

The big challenge is going to be testing the process on Earth, when the conditions on the moon are going to be so different. The lack of an atmosphere is going to make working with liquid impossible. The current process involves mixing water with the volcanic basalt, but researchers believe mixing lunar soil with magnesium oxide should produce a paper-like material that can be printed. Temperature is also a concern. The lunar surface is subject to wild swings in temperature. Setting up shop at one of the poles should provide a more moderate climate.

Qualcomm leak confirms next Android version inbound

Android Key Lime Pie

Google’s yearly developer conference in May is still a little while away, and despite no hard evidence it should surprise no one to hear that the plan is to release the next version of Android during the event.

It’s not easy to keep a secret on the Internet, and Qualcomm will likely spend the rest of the day learning that as their legal team scrambles to squash a leaked document that points to their involvement in the next version of Android.

Since the first public release of Android, Google has stuck to a Linux-style alphabetical naming system for their Operating System. Each letter of the alphabet is turned into a code name for that version of Android, and all of the code names so far have been common desserts. We’re on our way to the “K” version of Android this year, and while the Android team at Google IO last year assured everyone that there had been no decision regarding which dessert they would go with, Key Lime Pie is the most popular choice in the Android ecosystem so far.

To give further proof that Android version K is right around the corner, Qualcomm accidentally published a document recently that confirmed the chip company was working with Google on the upcoming update.

As the dominant force in mobile processors today, it comes as no surprise that Qualcomm would be one of the first to collaborate with Google on the OS. Qualcomm’s LTE-ready processors have been in nearly every major Android phone of 2012, and will more than likely continue to dominate in 2013.

The documentation leaked by Qualcomm gave no real information regarding the next version of Android, so we still don’t know what version number or features to expect in version K. Qualcomm’s early participation will hopefully make it easier for manufacturers that have invested heavily in Snapdragon S4 processors to update to the next version quickly, though it is worth noting that so far no hardware but the Nexus devices are currently running Android 4.2.

We’d share the documentation that Qualcomm published accidentally, but it appears that the legal team at Qualcomm has been busy sending takedown notices to anyone who publishes the information. This could be the start of a three month long cycle of leaks leading up to the release of the next version of Android and the hardware it will run on at Google IO 2013.

via AndroidPolice

iRobot’s FirstLook surveillance robot begs to be thrown

When they aren’t working on the latest Roomba vacuum, the team at iRobot make equipment for more aggressive use cases. iRobot actually manufactures quite a few things that aren’t vacuums, and in all shapes and sizes, too. One of those other robots is called the FirstLook, and it begs to be thrown.

FirstLook is a five pound surveillance robot with tank treads and small mechanical flippers to help ensure it doesn’t get stuck. It’s waterproof up to one meter and can be used in up to 130 degree environments. The little robot is specifically designed to be thrown into an unsafe building or hostile location in order to evaluate the situation or see if anyone needs to be rescued. There’s heavy emphasis put on the ability to throw this robot through windows or down flights of stairs on to hard surfaces and still have it perform as intended.

The remote control for the FirstLook resembles a ruggedized Wii U GamePad and is dominated by a 5-inch display. The resolution isn’t great at just 800 x 480, but it’s good enough to see through the eyes of the robot. In fact it has four eyes, with a camera positioned on each side, all of which have tilt and pan capabilities. Anyone piloting a FirstLook should be able to assess the robot’s location and surroundings easily before proceeding.

The average consumer isn’t the target market here, like many of iRobot’s crazy projects. We certainly won’t be able to throw our Roomba’s around and use them like little tanks anytime soon, but it is undeniably cool that robotics are headed in this direction for those times where it is just too dangerous to send a person into a hostile situation.

Read more about FirstLook at iRobot, via Fast Company