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It also makes sense when one considers the official list of available Thunderbolt products, which includes an awful lot of storage devices and various bits of video production kit.But that list includes precious little that mainstream laptop-buyers would find tantalising. Baking Thunderbolt into laptops when punters won't find it useful is therefore far from sensible.Vulture South is no fan of declaring unloved technologies “dead”: one can still buy descendants of the Z80 processor. Technologies do, however, often reach a point at which they clearly won't ever be of concern to mainstream users.Acer losing interest in Thunderbolt probably may not be that tipping point. It probably is an uncomfortable moment for Intel: millions of potential annual sales evaporating and a major player walking away from the standard is impossible to spin as good news for Thunderbolt's future. Microsoft is once again slashing the price of its unwanted ARM-based Surface RT fondleslabs.

The software giant has shaved 30 per cent off the price of a 32GB RT device now $349 and 25 per cent off the 64GB RT, now $449.A 32GB Surface with a black Touch cover has been cut by 25 per cent to $449 and a 64GB unit with same black Touch cover is reduced by 21 per cent to $549.Reductions are available through the Microsoft store in the US and through US retailers, Best Buy and Staples. The cuts do not seem to have made it to the UK, however. Intel-based Surface Pros are not being cut.The price cut marks the second chop in the price of an RT, following June's whopping 60 per cent off for students buying the 32GB version, and cuts of 58 per cent and 54 per cent respectively given off the 32GB machine with Touch cover and RT with Type cover. That offer runs until 31 August in more than 10 countries including the US and UK.Redmond has never said how many RTs were manufactured, but however many it made, it was too many. According to the most reliable and recent figures from market-trackers at IDC, Microsoft shipped just 900,000 Surface RTs and Pros in the first three months of 2013. Apple, by contrast, shifted 19.5 million iPads.Windows RT was supposed to be Microsoft’s thin and lightweight alternative to the iPad. Problem is, it cannot run existing Windows apps - and there's an obvious lack of new apps.

The RT runs a version of Windows 8 that has been built for the ARM architecture.The unloved slablet and the Windows 8.0 OS have become emblematic of Microsoft’s struggle to transition into tablets and touch: it is struggling to keep existing desktop and laptop users who need to be convinced to adapt to Microsoft’s tablets and touch operating system as well as to win over a whole new segment of customer which will also need to be convinced of its merits.Windows 8 was supposed to be a no-compromise operating system that pushed everybody into this new way of working, only it backfired. Windows 8.1 represents a bit of a backpedal with the return of the Start button.The disconnect between what Microsoft wants to do and is being forced to do has been articulated by chief evangelist Steven Guggenheimer. In an interview here, Microsoft's cheerleader-in-chief predicted the desktop would “go away” over time but added quickly “it will never go away completely.”

Review Part Two For years now, Apple’s MacBook Air has held its own as the ultimate in portability, inspiring the PC market to follow suit with the Ultrabook marque. While not all Ultrabooks attempt to ape the Air’s slimline form factor, they draw from the same line of Intel CPUs and often beat the iconic Apple on cost.Yet Apple has one trick up its sleeve that can be a clincher for some: Boot Camp - the ability to run Windows software on Mac hardware without resorting to a resource-sharing virtual machine.We’ve already seen what the build-to-order dual-core Intel Core i7 Air is capable of - so how does the dual-core 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-4250U CPU base model fare with its 4GB of mobile DDR3 RAM and a 128GB solid-state flash drive when you configure it for the best of both worlds?Despite having two USB 3.0 ports on the MacBook Air, it would seem that in Apple’s realm, not all USB ports are created equal. How do I know this? Through pain and misery, of course. I am referring to my efforts to use Boot Camp to start up Windows 7 on this model, something I’ve done on countless Intel-based Macs in the past as a way of benchmarking them against their PC counterparts.

Now, before I list my futile efforts, you should know that there is a way to make this work and there’s even an Apple online knowledgebase article on the topic. There’s just one tiny detail here that needs to be adhered to which makes the difference between success and failure.First things first, though. Boot Camp is an Apple utility featured on all recent Macs that can start the machine up with Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows, once the latter is installed; the tool partitions the drive without a reformat and sets about downloading the Wintel drivers you’ll need to have stored on a USB stick prior to the Redmond operating system's installation. There are a few well documented twists and turns regarding drive formatting, but other than that, it’s usually plain sailing.So any Boot Camp old hand will be rather flummoxed as to why the darn thing restarts to a black screen with a blinking cursor instead of the Windows installer. Reboot and hold down the Alt/Option key, you say. That’ll allow you to choose your booting options to include the installer DVD resident in the attached external optical drive. If only life were so simple.

I’m not quite sure how I managed it, but at one point I did get to the installer screen, but neither the mouse nor the keyboard were functional, so it was impossible to proceed further. I’m pretty sure I was using a USB stick with drivers from my last Boot Camp installation. According to the Apple website, the Boot Camp 5 support software has been around since March, so it seemed safe to assume it would work as no update was on offer and the MacBook Air (mid 2011 or later) was listed as supported. Don't be fooled.Attach a mouse, you say. Well, given one port was occupied by the external DVD drive with a Windows 7 disc and the other the Boot Camp drivers on a USB stick, this wasn’t going to be straightforward, and even briefly detaching the USB drivers stick and trying out the mouse didn’t work. It’s at times like these that you become acutely aware that two USB ports aren’t sufficient after all.Review Part One El Reg’s review of the latest 13-inch MacBook Air comes in two parts: here, I take a look at one of the build-to-order configurations offered by Apple, which upgrades the standard 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of 1066MHZ mobile DDR3 RAM, 128GB solid-state drive specification to a 1.7GHz Core i7 machine with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

Separately, you can read m’colleague Bob Dormon’s thoughts on the standard version of the new Air, which he tackled as a potential Windows machine. It’s worth a read even if you’re not a Windows user because the Boot Camp experience revealed some interesting changes Apple has made to the hardware in order, we reckon, to deliver the major improvement in battery life both machines provide.The reason I wanted to get hold of the upgraded version of the Air is, of course, because Apple’s mania for providing punters with sealed units containing "no user-serviceable parts within". I couldn’t just throw in the extra memory and storage myself. The Air’s memory is soldered onto the motherboard, leaving the Wi-Fi card and the SSD flash storage as the only readily removable components - and, as you’ll see, swapping out the SSD is a non-starter: it needs a special Apple cable to interface with the motherboard.

Now I - and, I suspect, most of you lot too - find this irritating. I want to be able to increase my computer’s memory and storage capacities over time as I see fit. But I also find myself increasingly wondering whether that’s as sensible a view to take as it once was.My travel machine is still a 2010 Core 2 Duo-based 11-inch Air with a mere 2GB of RAM and I’ve not felt the need to increase that capacity, even though it gets used for pretty much all the ‘pro’ tasks I put my main, largely desk-bound machine to. I’ve wanted to upgrade it, and probably would have done if I could, but the truth is I’ve not actually needed to.Likewise, I don’t feel hindered by losing the ability to swap out a battery, largely because I’ve found by experience that a sensible charging regime and a few battery prolonging tricks can eke out a charge to keep me up and running until I can get to a power outlet - all without compromising how I use the computer. And if integrating the battery makes for a slimmer, less weighty, more portable machine, I’m all for it. That’s a trade I am willing to make, though it’s clearly not one other folk will want to accept, especially people who spend a lot of time on ten-hour-or-more flights.

So people who expect to be able to tinker with the insides of their computers are not going to like the new Air any more than they did its predecessors. Possibly less so since Apple has - surprise, surprise - introduced a seemingly proprietary connector for the machine’s SSD. The good news is the machine’s battery life, which is considerably improved over previous MacBook Airs and of other vendors’ laptops too. Perhaps that extra battery in your pack really will be made redundant at last.Thanks for that should be laid at Intel’s door. Apple has upped the raw battery capacity a tad, and it’s made some other tweaks too, but it’s the Air’s Haswell processor from Chipzilla that really makes the difference. It’s not the only new technology the new Air incorporates: the new Mac also features the latest in Wi-Fi technology, 802.11ac, and SATA Express storage.I’ll look at these in turn shortly, but it’s worth first running through the rest of the 2013 Air’s attributes, though almost all of them were present on earlier models. The Air’s design is as slim and as aesthetically pleasing as ever, but its aluminium alloy shell has solid practical benefits too, as anyone who has ever dropped one onto a hard floor will attest: it’s as tough as.

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