Amazon unveils new Kindle Fire

kindle-fire.jpgAmazon has unveiled four new Kindle Fire tablet computers, including ones with larger, high-definition color screens.

 

The online retailer is stepping up competition with Apple ahead of the holiday shopping season.

The basic, 7-inch Fire model will cost $159, down from $199 for the original model, which sold out last month. Larger versions will go for $199 to $499 depending on various features.

Amazon also refreshed its line of standalone e-readers with Paperwhite, with a light source that the company says makes for better reading in direct sunlight. It costs $119 or $179 with a 3G cellular connection.

Windows 8 on sale Oct. 26

Microsoft says Windows 8 will go on sale Oct. 26. The upgrade to its operating system is designed to work better with touchscreens and on tablet computers.

Announcing the date in a blog post and at its annual sales meeting, the software company had said earlier that Windows 8 would go on sale in October.
Microsoft is releasing the software as a downloadable upgrade that day for PC owners, and letting PC makers start selling computers with Windows 8 the same day.

As an upgrade for users of Windows XP, Vista or 7, Windows will cost $40. That’s much less than Microsoft Corp. has charged for previous operating system upgrades. People who bought a Windows 7 computer on June 2 or later can upgrade for $15.

IBM introduces powerful mainframe computers

ARMONK, N.Y.— IBM is introducing a new line of mainframe computers the company calls its most powerful and technologically advanced ever.

IBM on Tuesday said its zEnterprise EC12 mainframe server is designed to help clients securely sift through
massive amounts of data, meeting market demands in what is often called the age of “Big Data.”

Mainframes are used by corporate clients ranging from banks to chain stores. IBM says the new model could be used by retailers to manage online transactions to analyze clients’ buying habits and then use the information to create a “more customized shopping experience.”

IBM says more than $1 billion was spent on research and development for the system, mostly in Poughkeepsie.

Microsoft revamps Office

The new version of Office — Microsoft’s suite of word processing, spreadsheet and email programs — will sport touch-based controls and emphasize Internet storage.

Sigificance? The changes reflect an industry-wide shift away from the company’s strengths in desktop and laptop computers.

The addition of touch-based controls will enable Office to extend its franchise into the rapidly growing tablet computer market.

A preview version of the new Office suite is being made available online. Microsoft Corp. isn’t saying when the software will go on sale or what the price will be.

Amazon gets Epix video rights

Amazon.com’s Internet video library is gaining more box-office appeal under a licensing deal with Epix that threatens to undercut Netflix leadership in a growing market that’s transforming the entertainment industry.

The multiyear agreement eliminates one of the competitive advantages that Netflix’s video subscription service held over a rival offering that Amazon provides to customers who pay $79 annually for unlimited free shipping of merchandise bought in its Web store.

Netflix Inc. had been paying about $200 million annually during the past two years for the exclusive online rights to show movies from Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate 90 days after they appeared on Epix’s pay-TV channel. The exclusive window closed on Netflix at the end of August, requiring the company to either renegotiate the terms with Epix or allow the rights to be sold to other Internet video services.

After Netflix decided that holding the exclusive rights to Epix was no longer worth the cost, Amazon.com pounced on the opportunity to expand its Internet video service.