Africa Dispatches: Break-out brands

There was a time when Silicon Valley dominated technology’s global brand map. Information and communications technology (ICT) brands like Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, Google and Oracle ruled this world. But the landscape is shifting, reports Jon Pienaar (@j0nn0) in this Mark Magazine: Africa Dispatches feature.

Media Future: Life left in Microsoft – and Nokia

Microsoft finds itself in the uncustomary role of underdog, but that only tells part of the story, says SA managing director Mteto Nyati in discussion with Arthur Goldstuck (@art2gee).

The one-time all-conquering giant of software, Microsoft, is suddenly finding itself performing an uncustomary role: that of underdog. Aside from a share price that had reached a record low earlier this year, it has also been taking a public relations beating.

The launch of the new Windows 8 operating system (OS) late last year did not set the market alight with new respect, and its recent unveiling of the specifications for the Xbox One entertainment device was vilified for the restrictions it placed on users.

For many companies, that would spell doom. In the past, that kind of response to previous products did indeed cast gloom into the hearts of all at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond near Seattle.

Brand reinvention: Nintendo is about to lurch out of the tomb once more with Wii U GamePad

Nintendo is doing its own zombie act: coming back from the dead with the new Wii U, writes Arthur Goldstuck (@art2gee)

Are you prepared for the Zombie apocalypse? It’s a concept that has long been viral on the Internet, inspiring numerous guidebooks on how to prepare for both the day and night of the living dead. You can even explore a version of Google Maps adapted to show the level of likely zombie infestation across the globe, and highlighting resources like pharmacies, hardware stores and police stations, where you would find handy resources to help survive the undead onslaught. Medicine, guns, axes and baseball bats will be high on your shopping list.

Sadly, preparing for the apocalypse only by reading a map is like learning to drive using a mapbook. You also need on-the-job training.

Enter an unlikely ally: Nintendo. It is the old-timer of the gaming console industry, and rapidly falling behind Sony and Microsoft. These global giants have brought the industry back to life, respectively, with a new version of the PlayStation Portable, called the Vita, and an add-on to the Xbox, the Kinect.

The next Windows shows future looks a lot like the tablet computer and smartphone

Windows 8 was unveiled – at least in preview form – for the developer community last week. What does it mean for users and for Microsoft? ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK explores its significance.

MSN SA tries to regain traction with upgrade as Nielsen restates stats

MSN has always been the biggest invisible brand in South Africa’s digital content space. The default home page for millions of Internet Explorer users, local Hotmail and Window Live Messenger users have also received significant exposure to the content portal. It had become, according to MSN senior editor Justin Zehmke, little more than a compulsory stop on the way to another online property.

Windows 7 Review: Windows as it should be?

On April 30 Microsoft unveiled the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) – the final Beta version of the upcoming release of its new operating system – to the developer community. Today (5 May) it goes live to the public. The initial Beta released in January has been polished, updated and improved. Microsoft have also included new functionality, namely XP mode, which uses Virtualisation to run older XP programmes natively in Windows 7, promising 100% XP compatibility. Will this release be the one to finally set aside Windows XP (and kill off Vista)? STEVEN AMBROSE blows his download data cap again, downloads all the bits, and puts Windows 7 RC to the test.

Quick fix: How to open a docx file without Office 2007

If you Google that question you find a number of sites explaining that docx files (Office 2007 files) cannot be opened by Office Word 2003 or earlier and that you will need to download install all 27 megs of a compatibility pack made available by Microsoft. There are also several online document converters that supposedly convert docx files to PDF or doc files but in my experience they either don’t deliver or they charge.

The simplest way to open a docx file is to email it to your account, and then to view the file as html, which lets Gmail do all the converting, and save you a lot of hassle!

Mark Shuttleworth tells the NYTimes about code, dollar billionaire status and Ubuntu

The NYTimes just ran an in-depth article on Mark Shuttleworth and his evangelism for the Linux based Ubuntu operating system, referring to him as “the charismatic 35-year-old billionaire from South Africa who functions as the spiritual and financial leader of this coding clan.”

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