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14 January 2015

Windows 10: Free download? Minecraft included?

The fees charged for its Windows operating system licences are a significant revenue earner for Microsoft. So, it might seem an unlikely prospect.

And yet, early in 2014 Microsoft reduced its licence fee to manufacturers of low-cost PCs. While in April 2014 it announced free licences for smartphones and tablets with screen sizes smaller than 9 inches.

Of course, Apple did just this in 2013 when it made its OS X Mavericks available on the Mac App Store as a free upgrade for all Mac users running Snow Leopard or above. And offered the same deal when OS X Yosemite launched in 2014.

Minecraft Giveaway?

And what are Microsoft's plans for Minecraft after its $2.5 billion acquisition?

There's been a wall of silence so far. Although Minecraft modding integration with Microsoft's .NET development platform, toolset and coding languages seems likely.

But could this hugely popular game be included for free in a Home or Community Edition of Windows 10?

Maybe the Microsoft event scheduled for the 21st January 2015 will shed some light on Minecraft's future?

Read more Microsoft analysis posts.

11 January 2015

HP Mini Desktops and Chromeboxs

HP Pavilion Mini Desktop

The latest devices to hit the HP Store are the Pavilion Mini Desktop and the Stream Mini Desktop.

The HP Pavilion Mini Desktop is just 52 mm (2 inches) high and only weighs 725 grams (1.6 lbs). Yet processors options include an Intel Core i3, it runs Windows 8.1 plus expansion options include 8 GB of expandable memory and 1 TB of storage.

Video or casual gaming is supported by the dual display support with DisplayPort and HDMI compatible ports. So it's capable of streaming content across multiple screens, including TV with Quad HD support.

The HP Pavilion Mini Desktop also draws a maximum power of 45 watts, far lower than the 250 watts of a typical tower desktop.

A HP Pavilion Mini Desktop with Intel Pentium 3558U processor, 4 GB RAM and a 500 GB Hard Disk Drive (HDD) costs $319.99.

HP Stream Mini Desktop

Meanwhile the HP Stream Mini Desktop has the same small format as the Pavilion Mini Desktop but comes with value-added options and services.

These include a 32 GB solid-state drive (SSD) for speed and reliability, 200 GB of Microsoft OneDrive Storage for two years plus a $25 gift card for the Windows Store to purchase apps, Xbox games, music and so on.

An HP Stream Mini Desktop with Intel Celeron 2957U processor, 2 GB RAM and a 32 GB SSD costs $179.99.

HP Chromebox

These Mini Desktops supplement HP's 2014 launch of its equally diminutive Chromebox range. These desktop boxes are less than 126mm (under 5 inches) square and just 39mm (1.5 inches). And even the separate AC power brick is small; around the size of a typical laptop one.

HP Chromebox's square form is softened by rounded edges with subtle design flourishes. And there's a number of case colours to choose from; Smoke Silver, Snow White and Ocean Turquoise.

HP's low-end CB1 model has an Intel Haswell Celeron 2955U 64-bit 1.4GHz dual-core processor plus 2GB of RAM and 16GB of solid-state drive storage. In addition to the local storage owners receive 100GB of space on Google's Drive Cloud.

Despite the small dimensions a Chromebox isn't short of ports. There's four USB 3.0 ports (two front, two back), both HDMI and DisplayPort out for video (including dual monitor support), analogue audio out, an SD card slot, Ethernet port and a security lock slot. Wireless communication options include 802.11b/g/n wi-fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Read more Analysis posts.