Windows 10 Upgrade Could Install ‘Automatically’ if You Aren’t Careful

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We know Microsoft is going through great lengths to get users to switch to Windows 10. Last month it was reported that the company was downloading the installation files of Windows 10 on several Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 systems even when their respective owners hadn’t asked for it, and now we’re learning that the company is quietly opting-in for Windows 10 update on some devices, leading to the installation of the operating system. Separately, Microsoft has started pushing advertisements in the form of suggested apps for users via the Start menu.

Released on July 29, Windows 10 is the latest desktop operating system from Microsoft. The update is available for free for all users of genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 for the first year of its availability. The update, however, is an optional choice and wasn’t supposed to get pushed to everyone’s computer. And yet, that seems to be the case.

The company announced earlier this year a program in which it allowed users to reserve a copy of Windows 10 when it becomes available. Those who didn’t opt in for the program – many of whom seemingly did not want Windows 10 on their system, for whatever reason – reported that irrespective of their choice, the company was downloading Windows 10 update files to their system anyway. And as Ars Technica now reports, the optional update has been chosen by default in Windows Update, leading to the installation of Windows 10 if users are not paying attention when they approve the installation of pending updates.

Many users understandably aren’t expecting this sort of action from Microsoft and are unlikely to be prepared for it. Microsoft denied an ulterior motive, telling Ars Technica it accidentally enabled the optional feature by default in a recent update, and also stated that it will fix it. “As part of our effort to bring Windows 10 to existing genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers, the Windows 10 upgrade may appear as an optional update in the Windows Update (WU) control panel. This is an intuitive and trusted place people go to find Recommended and Optional updates to Windows. In the recent Windows update, this option was checked as default; this was a mistake and we are removing the check,” the company said.

Separately, the latest Windows 10 build 10565 enables a new feature that allows the Start menu to show suggested apps. Make no mistake, this is an ad. The company has been previously criticised for showing ads on the new Solitaire game app, and assigning every Windows 10 system with a unique advertising ID, and it seems that it’s now gradually rolling out ads in places.

Windows 10 is a substantial upgrade over Windows 8.1. It comes with a range of features that are genuinely handy and users are likely to find it useful. However, Microsoft has been battling consumer and critical protest about privacy and other issues with the operating system.

Apple India Quietly Increases Prices Across the Entire Mac Lineup

It may be the week of online sales in India, but Apple has quietly increased prices across the entire Mac lineup. The hike ranges from Rs. 4,000 for the entry-level Mac Mini to Rs. 30,000 for the top of the line Mac Pro.

The new prices of all Macs (except the Mac Pro) are now listed on Apple India’s website. In addition, Gadgets 360 has learnt India pricing details of the Mac Pro, as well as the new iMac lineup that wasunveiled earlier this week without any India-specific pricing or availability details. At the time of filing this report, Apple India’s website still lists the iMac as “Coming Soon” without any price information.

But first, details of the price hikes. The prices of MacBook Air 11-inch and 13-inch models with 128GB SSD storage have been increased by Rs. 8,000 each, while the models with 256GB storage are now Rs. 10,000 costlier. The price of the MacBook Air was last updated in April 2014, when it had received a small price cut.

The price increase for the MacBook Pro ranges from Rs. 11,000 for the non-Retina model to Rs. 20,000 for the top-end 15-inch MacBook Pro. Details of the price hike for individual MacBook Pro models and other Macs are available in the table below. It’s worth pointing out that for some of the MacBook Pro models, the hike exactly matches the price drop they had received in July last year. Also worth noting is that the Macbook Air and some MacBook Pro models got a bump in specifications and features without a price increase earlier this year.

The 12-inch MacBook has received its first price change since it was launched earlier this year. The base model now starts at Rs. 1,06,900, an increase of Rs. 7,000, while the model with 512GB storage is now costlier by Rs. 10,000.

Apple MacBook Air Pro Retina Mac Mini iMac Price in India Macs

The Mac Mini sees its price go up by between Rs. 4,000 and Rs. 10,000, while the Mac Pro will be costlier by Rs. 20,000 for the base model and Rs. 30,000 for the most expensive Mac in Apple’s lineup. The 27-inch Thunderbolt display will now be available at a MRP of Rs. 88,900 compared to the earlier price of Rs. 74,900.

While there’s no official word on the rationale behind the price hike across the Mac lineup, given the fact that the new iPhone models were also introduced in the country carrying a price tag that’s higher than their predecessors, it’s safe to assume that Apple is bearish on the Indian rupee.

In addition to the price increase, we also have information about the India pricing of the new iMacs. Gadgets 360 has learnt that the 21.5-inch iMac with 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard disk, and Intel HD Graphics 6000 will be launched at Rs. 91,900. The 21.5-inch iMac with 2.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard disk, and Intel Iris Pro 6200 will be launched at Rs. 1,07,900. The new 4K Retina iMac with Intel Core i5 3.1GHz, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard disk, and Intel Iris Pro 6200 graphics will be priced at Rs. 1,23,900.

The refreshed 27-inch 5K Retina iMac with 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard disk will be available at Rs. 1,48,990; 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB fusion drive will be available at Rs. 1,64,990; and 3.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 2TB fusion drive will be available at Rs. 1,88,990.

There’s no word yet on the availability of the new iMacs.

Intel Said to Secure EU’s Okay for $16.7 Billion Altera Deal

World No. 1 chipmaker Intel Corp will be given the go-ahead from the EU for its $16.7 billion (roughly Rs. 1,08,178 crores) bid for Altera Corp, its largest ever deal, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The US company is looking to Altera to reinforce its portfolio of higher-margin chips used in data centres and to focus on chips for cars, watches and other devices in a future “Internet of Things”.

The US Department of Justice cleared the deal unconditionally last month while other agencies such as the Chinese are also looking at the bid. Analysts had expected smooth sailing but some investors were concerned about possible antitrust hurdles.

The highly fragmented chip industry has seen a wave of consolidation this year as companies beef up their capabilities and try to squeeze more technologies onto chips in response to demand for integrated suppliers.

The European Commission will clear the deal without requiring concessions from Intel as it does not see any competition issues, the sources said. A decision is scheduled by October 14.

Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso declined to comment. Intel spokeswoman Cara Walker declined to comment on the regulatory process, saying the company continued to work closely and cooperate with the agencies involved.

Altera makes programmable chips used to speed up web searches and update social networks, among other uses.

The Commission is now examining Avago Technologies’ $37 billion (roughly Rs. 2,39,676 crores) offer for Broadcom Corp, the biggest ever deal in the sector. The preliminary review will end on November 9.

Dell Said to Use VMWare to Help Pay for EMC Deal

Dell Inc is planning to use equity in cloud software company VMware Inc to help pay for its acquisition of EMC Corp in a deal valuing the data storage company at more than $55 billion (roughly Rs. 3,56,276 crores), according to people familiar with the matter.

While the bulk of its offer will be in cash, Dell also plans to pay EMC shareholders with “tracking stock” that follows the value of the 20 percent of VMware that EMC does not own, the people said on Friday.

A deal could be announced as early as next week, assuming that financing arrangements and the remaining negotiations are completed, the people said.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Dell, EMC and VMware did not immediately respond to requests for comment. EMC shares ended trading on Friday up 2.5 percent at $27.86 after tech website Re/code reported that Dell was offering $27.25 a share for EMC in addition to stock in VMware.

An acquisition of EMC would strengthen Dell’s presence among corporate customers at a time whenMichael Dell is trying to transform his three-decade old PC company into a provider of complete enterprise computing services.

EMC has been under pressure from Elliott Management Corp to spin off VMware. The activist investor has said EMC’s structure of combining several businesses obscures “enormous” value.

Dell – which has about $12 billion in debt, according to Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi – went private in 2013 in a deal worth $25 billion (roughly Rs. 1,61,943 crores), less than half EMC’s current market capitalisation.

EMC to Reportedly Shop Itself After Deal With Dell

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EMC Corp, the data storage company that is preparing to unveil an agreement to be acquired by personal computer maker Dell Inc as early as Monday, is also planning to seek out other suitors, according to people familiar with the matter.

EMC has asked for a ‘go-shop’ provision to be included in the merger agreement that will allow it to solicit bids from other parties and pay a discounted breakup fee to Dell if there is a deal with another company, the people said.

Such a clause, though not unusual in merger agreements, shows how EMC Chief Executive Joseph Tucci is preparing to exhaust all arguments to convince the company’s shareholders that a deal with Dell is the best possible outcome for them.

While IBM Corp, Cisco Systems Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co could theoretically be potential suitors for EMC, which has a marker capitalization of $53.6 billion, the chances of them challenging Dell with a rival offer are slim, the people said.

The negotiations between Dell and EMC, as well as talks with banks about securing the necessary debt financing, continued on Sunday, and the two sides hope to unveil an agreement on Monday or Tuesday, two of the people said.

The deal will likely value EMC in the region of $33 per share, one of the people said. Around $25 (roughly Rs. 1,600) per share would be paid in cash, and the rest would be paid to EMC shareholders with a special stock that tracks the market value of VMWare Inc, the virtualization software company majority-owned by EMC, that person added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. EMC, Dell, IBM, Cisco and Hewlett-Packard did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The acquisition of EMC, which would be the largest technology sector deal on record, would help Dell diversify away from the stagnant personal computer market and give it the scale to attack the faster-growing and more lucrative market for managing and storing data for businesses.

A go-shop provision is not without risks for the acquirer. In the case of Dell’s acquisition by its founder Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake in 2013, the go-shop clause allowed activist investorCarl Icahn and private equity firm Blackstone Group LP to submit rival offers.

While Michael Dell’s consortium prevailed, pressure from Icahn and other Dell shareholders resulted in the acquisition price being sweetened by more than $350 million to $24.9 billion (roughly Rs. 1,61,218 crores).

EMC already has a prominent activist, Elliott Management, among its shareholders. Elliott could push for a sweetened bid if it is unhappy with the price.

Acer Aspire R14 Laptop, Aspire Z3-700 AIO PC With Windows 10 Launched

Acer just announced two new Windows 10 devices at a joint event with Microsoft in Taipei – the Aspire R14 convertible notebook and the Aspire Z3-700 all-in-one PC with a built-in battery.

The latest incarnation of the Aspire R14 features a thinner 360-degree dual torque hinge which lets you switch from using it as a standard notebook to a tablet. It has a 14-inch full-HD display with 10-point multi-touch support for Windows 10. Acer has refreshed the internals with Intel’s 6th Generation Core processors so you have a choice between a Core i7-6500U or a Core i5-6200U. There’s support for up to 8GB of DDR3L RAM, Intel HD Graphics 520, up to 512GB SSD storage (no option for HDD) and Wi-Fi ac with MU-MIMO technology. The notebook will ship with Widows 10 Home 64-bit. The Aspire R14 will first launch in North America and Europe in late October with prices starting at $699 (roughly Rs. 45,300) and EUR 799 respectively (roughly Rs. 59,000).


Acer also announced a brand new all-in-one PC called the Aspire Z3-700. It features a built-in battery which can last up to 5 hours when not connected to wall power. The PC sports foldable legs which transforms it into a giant tablet so you can easily move it around the house. The 17.3-inch full-HD display supports 10-point multi-touch for Windows and weighs around 2kg. Other specifications includes an option of a Pentium N3700 or Celeron N3150 CPU (Braswell platform), up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM, Intel HD Graphics, up to 256GB SSD or 500GB HDD, and stereo speakers with Dolby Audio. The notebook will ship with Windows 10 and will be available by the end of the year for the EMEA region, with prices starting at EUR 799 (roughly Rs. 59,000).

The two newly-launched devices join the rest Acer’s Windows 10 lineup which the company announcedonly a month back at IFA 2015. In India, we should expect these products to hit the market towards the end of Q4, according to Oliver Ahrens, Senior Corporate Vice President of Acer. The company is also heavily focusing on its Predator gaming products to take on the established brands like Republic of Gamers from Asus. This lineup includes gaming notebooks like the Predator 17 and 15, gaming desktops like the Predator G6 and G3, and monitors like the new Z35, a 35-inch curved display with Nvidia’s G-Sync and a 200Hz refresh rate.

We also had a chance to play a bit with the Acer Liquid Jade Primo, which is its upcoming flagship Windows 10 smartphone with support for Continuum. The unit that we saw was a prototype device which was used to demo Continuum through a wireless mode by using Miracast. The phone itself felt very light and slim, and features similar specifications to the Microsoft Lumia 950 such as a 5.5-inch Super Amoled display, 21-megapixel rear camera, and a Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 SoC. Acer has yet to announce the final version, which we suspect could come out during the holiday season around the same time as the new Lumia flagships.

Dell to Buy EMC for $67 Billion to Add Data-Storage Devices

Dell Inc. has agreed to buy EMC Corp. for about $67 billion (roughly Rs. 4,34,139 crores) in the largest technology acquisition ever, creating a corporate-computing giant that will use a wider product lineup to woo customers as demand slows and competition stiffens.

Dell plans to pay $24.05 (roughly Rs. 1,560) a share in cash plus tracking stock in EMC’s prize holding, VMware Inc., valued at about $9 (roughly Rs. 580) for each EMC share, the companies said in a statement Monday. The price of $33.15 a share is 28 percent above EMC’s closing level on Oct. 7, just before reports surfaced that a deal was in the works. While the agreement has a provision that lets EMC talk to other potential bidders, the company doesn’t expect any, a person familiar with the matter said. EMC rose 2.5 percent Friday to close at $27.86 (roughly Rs. 1,800) on the New York Stock Exchange.

Dell will be run by Michael Dell, the chief executive officer of the company he founded. The deal is expected to close in May to October of next year.

The deal would combine EMC’s dominance in devices that store data with Dell’s No. 2 position in servers, the powerful machines that help companies handle big computing challenges. Dell, which was taken private for about $25 billion (roughly Rs. 1,61,943 crores) in 2013, can expand its product lineup to vie with perennial rivals including Hewlett-Packard Co. and upstarts such as Nutanix Inc.

For EMC, the agreement addresses pressure from activist investors who have been agitating for growth and resolves long- standing questions over succession for CEO Joe Tucci. He has agreed to stay at the company through the close of the deal and may stay beyond that, said the person, who didn’t want to be named because the details haven’t been disclosed. Michael Dell reached out to Tucci about a year ago, and the companies’ boards started working on the agreement in the spring, the person said.

EMC, which has been publicly traded since 1986, had been looking at strategic options for boosting its share price. Activist investor Elliott Management Corp. had pushed for EMC to sell itself or spin off software maker VMware, of which the storage company is the majority owner.

EMC is facing weaker demand for its older, pricey storage models. While the company has been focusing on newer products such as flash arrays that speed up data retrieval, where it’s growing more rapidly, that hasn’t been enough to lift sales growth. EMC’s revenue is projected to increase about 3 percent this year, its slowest rate since logging a decline in 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The deal will help Dell raise its profile in data centers, the modern factories of the digital age that house servers, networking gear and storage systems. EMC had 21 percent of the storage market last year, about twice what Dell had, according to Bloomberg data.

While Dell has been outperforming some of its rivals, the company is grappling with sagging demand for personal computers. During the third quarter, overall shipments declined 7.7 percent, according to Gartner Inc. Still, Dell was able to post a small gain of 0.5 percent while larger rivals declined.

Dell has been investing in growth after escaping the harsh glare of the public markets in 2013 with CEO Dell and Silver Lake Management striking a deal to go private. At the time the deal was announced, the stock had lost more than half its value since January 2007, when Dell resumed his role as CEO.

For all its would-be benefits, the merger carries risks. The prevailing trend in technology is to separate and focus on fewer businesses to compete against nimbler competitors. Hewlett-Packard is splitting in two next month, a step that eBay Inc. took earlier this year. Though Dell and EMC have done business together for years and have complementary cultures, the sheer size of a combined entity could slow decision-making and hamper speedy product-development.

What’s more, EMC bonds came under pressure last week on concern that the purchase would undermine current bondholders’ place in the capital structure.

‘Toshiba Likely to Bless a SanDisk-Western Digital Deal’

Toshiba, SanDisk’s partner in making memory chips, is more likely to sign off on a potential takeover of SanDisk by hard drive maker Western Digital than by rival memory chip maker Micron, analysts said.

Micron Technology Inc and Western Digital Corp are in talks with SanDisk Corp about a possible acquisition, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

The report came after months of intense speculation about imminent consolidation in the memory chip industry as a supply glut and cheaper products from China continue to drive down prices.

SanDisk will require Toshiba’s approval to consummate a deal with either party. SanDisk uses Toshiba’s foundries to make its chips and the two companies have an important intellectual property-sharing joint venture.

If Micron, which has its own foundries, buys SanDisk, Toshiba is likely to lose a lot of business. Moreover, Micron has a growing presence in the NAND-flash memory chips market and a tie up with SanDisk will immensely increase competition for the Japanese tech leader.

NAND-flash memory chips power solid-state drives, which are faster and more reliable than traditional hard drives, Western Digital’ mainstay. SSDs are used in cloud computing, data centres, smartphones and laptops.

“From Micron’s perspective … you could take out two competitors at once,” Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri said.

“If you can extricate SanDisk from the Toshiba JV, then you’ve taken Toshiba out of the NAND business and you’ve taken out SanDisk as well … this would really catapult you to number 2. status behind Samsung.”

Micron and Western Digital declined to comment. Toshiba and SanDisk did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

SanDisk, which had a market capitalisation of about $12.6 billion (roughly Rs. 81,647 crores) as of the stock’s close on Tuesday, has lost 37 percent of its value this year.

The company’s stock rose as much as 14 percent on Wednesday. Micron’s rose 6 percent, while Western Digital’s rose 2.4 percent.

SanDisk itself would be more amenable to a bid from Western Digital, which has strong free cash flow thanks to its cash cow hard-drive business, analysts said.

Western Digital is also expected to receive a $4 billion (roughly Rs. 25,919 crores) cash infusion from China’s state-backed Tsinghua Holdings Co Ltd, if the deal passes regulatory scrutiny in the United States.

The investment could give Western Digital the firepower to speed up SanDisk’s transition from a legacy hard drive maker to a company that makes efficient chips that run data centres.