Friday Link Roundup

Interesting things we found this week around the web:TGIF

  • Windows XP is defying death, while Windows 8 and 8.1 struggle to gain traction. According to Geeks are Sexy, using data from NetMarketShare‘s statistics client, computers running Windows XP still account for nearly 30% of web traffic, with Windows 7-based machines accounting for just under 50% of web traffic. The stats for Microsoft’s less popular OSes are a bit more bleak; Windows Vista is just above 3%, while Windows 8 is double that at 6.5%. More concerning is the fact that Windows 8.1 still only represents 4% of web traffic, despite the update being completely free and adding a number of much-needed features to the OS’s somewhat underwhelming desktop user experience. This suggests, says Geeks are Sexy, that a good chunk of users buying new computers still have a habit of never applying updates.

    It’s also notable that far more people are running Windows 8 rather than the updated 8.1 version. It’s likely a sign of how many people are prepared to buy a new computer and never apply any updates — which is of course one of the reasons XP refuses to die quietly.

  • Google hears your problems, Microsoft. According to ReadWrite, Android faces a similar fragmentation of OSes, and can’t get Android 2.3 Gingerbread to die. Google’s data shows that 20% of devices that communicate with their servers still run 2.3, while 4.4 KitKat, the latest Android OS, represents a mere 1.8%. The majority of users, at 35.5% of the userbase, are still running 4.1 Jelly Bean, suggesting that Android faces similar problems with Windows, in that a bulk of users simply never bother to or, in the case of some manufacturer-locked devices, cannot install the latest updates.

    The biggest change to the latest version of Android—KitKat 4.4—was that Google shrunk the memory profile of Android to fit on devices with as little as 512 MB of RAM. The reason that Gingerbread has persisted thus far was because manufacturers needed to ship cheap Android devices to emerging markets and Gingerbread was the only viable version of the operating system that could run on budget hardware. Google hopes manufacturers will stop shipping Gingerbread for budget devices now that KitKat (which has all of the new features instituted in the Jelly Bean updates) can handle the load of the operating system on inexpensive hardware.

  • North America may finally be moving towards chip and pin (aka EMV) credit cards, reports the Wall Street Journal, as MasterCard and Visa prepare to deploy cards featuring this technology as early as October of 2015. This technology is actually nothing new, however, and has been used with great success nearly everywhere outside of North America. MasterCard’s EMV expert, Carol Bethany, shed some light as to why this technology took so long to reach the U.S.:

    In the past, other markets migrated for two reasons. First, there were higher fraud rates in some other markets, and they wanted to make this move to combat fraud. Second, this system can operate in offline mode – the card and the terminal can authorize a transaction independent of communication with the bank’s systems. In some other markets they struggled with robust telephony networks, so this offline capacity was attractive.Both those factors were not driving factors here in America.

    Because the US is one of the largest and most complex markets, the business cases for the costs had to be established. And there were requirements of the Durbin amendment, mandating all us debit transactions are able to go across at least two networks, which took some time for the industry to sort out.

    EMV is not limited to card swipe transactions, and will also open the door for securing new forms of payment, such as payments via smart devices, or tap-and-go pay fobs.

  • Cloud storage: Amazon may have the infrastructure, but soon Google will have the speed. ReadWrite reports on Google’s dark fiber pipeline, predicting that soon Google will have an advantage over the Amazon cloud because of the blazing speed gains from buying up unused transmission capacity on fiber cables around the nation. What prevents Amazon from competing on the same level? In a word: Scarcity.

    Because dark fiber is now in seriously short supply, Amazon doesn’t have the ability to play catch-up simply by spending. AWS is now structurally incapable of competing with Google in terms of supply of bandwidth between its data centers and the cost of delivering that speed.

    While Amazon’s strategy has been to have the most robust network by having network nodes scattering the nation, Google is betting that they can beat Amazon by offering transmission speeds so fast, that they don’t need to scatter the nation.

 

Find any cool IT links this week? Tell us in the comments or Tweet us @NetopTech!

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