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No fair, you say. The Surface Pro 2 is a full Intel PC with a quad-core, 1.7GHz Core i7 processor, while both the iPad and the Nexus 7 are based on power-sipping ARM chips. Of course the Surface will have shorter battery life.OK, but it so happens that Microsoft has put together some ARM-based tablets, too. You'd think they'd offer markedly better battery life, but no. The original Surface RT offered web-browsing battery life of 6.81 hours – just a hair over what the Surface Pro 2 can achieve today, and just as poor when measured against the competition. And even the latest Surface 2 can only do 8.07 hours, which is still 14.9 per cent worse than the iPad 4 and 34 per cent worse than the 2013 Nexus 7.Windows tablets aren't punching their weight where battery life is concerned (Source: AnandTech) Microsoft describes the Surface Pro 2 as the tablet so versatile, it's practically a laptop. But as Atwood observes, you can compare the Surface Pro 2 to similar full-featured laptops and its battery life still underwhelms. By way of example, Atwood looked at the 2013 MacBook Air, which he says spec-wise is about as close as we can get to the Surface Pro 2.

In AnandTech's tests, the 13-inch 2013 MacBook Air scored a web browsing battery life of 14.28 hours, a whopping 113.8 per cent more than the Surface Pro 2. Admittedly, that model's 54Wh battery is larger than the Surface's 42Wh battery. But even the 11-inch model, with its 38Wh battery, lasted 66 per cent longer than the Surface Pro 2.That means the Air is somehow producing nearly two times the battery efficiency of the best hardware and software combination Microsoft can muster, for what I consider to be the most common usage pattern on a computer today, Atwood observes.Atwood then dug back into the AnandTech archives and found where the site had compared a 15-inch 2009 MacBook Pro running OS X 10.5.7, Windows Vista x64 SP1, and Windows 7 RC1. Running OS X, the battery lasted 8.13 hours. Running Vista, it lasted 6.02 hours. Running Windows 7, the time was down to 5.48 hours.To be fair, the 2009 MacBook Pro weighed 5.5lbs (2.5kg) compared to the Surface Pro 2's 2.0lbs (907g), and its 73Wh battery was nearly twice as big as the Surface's.

But the Surface Pro 2 also ships with a chip based on Intel's Haswell microarchitecture, which promised dramatic improvements in power consumption. And a bigger battery doesn't explain why the same hardware should offer so much more running time with OS X than with either of two different flavors of Windows. It's possible that Apple optimized its OS for its own hardware, but Windows has always been designed to run on a wide range of Intel configurations.So what's happening to make battery life under Windows so lackluster? The simple answer is that nobody seems to know. None of the hardware makers AnandTech spoke to could provide a satisfactory answer – or, for that matter, a Windows box that offered battery life comparable to a machine running OS X.As Atwood points out, however, none of this bodes well for Microsoft's persistent efforts to position Windows 8 as an excellent OS for tablets, when Windows tablets – including ARM-based ones running Windows RT – consistently seem to offer worse battery life than any of their competitors.

The PC market may be in decline, but demand for hybrid laptop-cum-tablets will nearly double this year and again next, market-watcher Gartner has forecast.Validation for Intel’s new approach to notebook computers then? Not quite. While Gartner reckons some 18,598,000 “ultramobile PCs” will have shipped during 2013, almost twice as many as the 9,787,000 that shipped in 2012, the figure is still way, way below the number of tablets the researcher expects to have shipped this year.That total, says Gartner, is 184,431,000. That’s almost 10 tablets for every ultramobile shipped. Most of these tablets run Android, some run iOS.Gartner defines an ultramobile as a gadget that “marries the functionality of a PC and the form factor of the tablet”. Kit like Microsoft’s Surface and the convertible, two-in-one Ultrabooks Intel has been touting of late.Tablet growth isn’t as high as it is with the ultramobiles – 53.4 per cent to 90.0 per cent – but what does that matter when the sheer number of tablets shipping is so far beyond the number of ultramobile PCs out there. Ultramobiles represent an opportunity for computer-makers, but not the favourable market that the tablet arena continues to be.

Desktops and traditional notebooks will still outsell these other categories, mind: some 303,100,000 units will have shipped during 2013, suggests Gartner, though that represents a year-on-year decline of 11.2 per cent. The rise of the ultramobile isn’t enough to offset the decline in regular PC shipments, which amounts to 38,173,000 machines.Punters prefer smaller devices. A recent consumer study that Gartner conducted in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, the US and Japan showed that the average screen sizes of the tablets in use across the countries ranged from 8.3 inches to 9.5 inches. Around 47 per cent of the consumers surveyed owned a tablet that was eight inches or less. Something wonderful has happened: phones have got smart, but the bad news is they may open the door to those you don’t want to let in.Time was when getting software to run properly on your mobile phone was such a challenge that it was nigh on impossible for bad guys to write malware that worked.

Most phones used proprietary platforms and there was little or no access to source code. Apps ran in the nice little sandbox of Java. Or, more typically, failed to run.Now the increasing sophistication of mobiles has opened the door for bad guys to get a grip.A Trojan on your laptop gives someone access to all your data, and maybe even through your corporate virtual private network to all your company’s secrets.The same is true of your mobile except that the attack gets personal. As well as opening a route to your work data, a Trojan has access to all your friends, relatives and other contacts.Why did you call that headhunter three times last week? Who is that woman you keep calling? Then there are all your text messages, telling it where you are and when. Off sick and on the golf course?

Worse, a Trojan has a billing relationship with your mobile. Your laptop can’t send premium-rate reverse-billed SMSs but your phone can.The value of all the data on your device means it is no longer just a phone. This is what propels companies to provide mobile device management (MDM): the ability to control what is on your mobile, to push new work tools to it and to wipe it if it is lost or stolen.The same technology can be turned against you – as Android developer LSDroid found with its Cerberus anti-theft software.This is archetypal MDM software designed to help you find a lost or stolen Android phone. It gives you remote control through a website which will tell you if the SIM card has been changed and sound an alarm, even if the phone is in silent mode.What matters here is the security which controls who has access. This was done using random numbers and the phone IMEI (international mobile station equipment identity). Unfortunately this wasn’t enough and a blogger called Paul built an exploit that could break the security in a couple of hours. The problem was quickly fixed, but it showed that what you think is protecting your data might be doing the opposite.

Android, being the type of phone chosen by the majority of users, is the one most under threat. Security expert Jon Sawyer from Applied Cyber Security compares this to the days when people claimed Macs were more secure than Windows.“It was only because so many more people were targeting Windows that it looked less secure,” he says.Sawyer has found a number of vulnerabilities in phones, among which perhaps the most spectacular was an LG vulnerability that could be made to look like a service update and so did not request permissions. This in turn could modify any file, opening up the phone to any kind of modification including rooting.As a “white hat”, he contacted LG and waited six months until the flaw was fixed before publishing, but he bemoans the lack of feedback from the security teams at the handset manufacturers.He also singles out BlackBerry for hostility to security researchers. According to Sawyer, vulnerabilities in Android are rarely the fault of the operating system but often what the individual manufacturers have done at system level.

Google’s Android security team is good, he says, although he would recommend upgrading to version 4.3 or later.James Lyne of Sophos echoes this view. He says that however good Google’s security people are, Android is probably the weakest of the mainstream smartphone platforms.He contends that BlackBerry is the most secure, both in its BB7 and BB10 incarnations – although for security you have to sacrifice the openness of the BB10 system and then you have to wonder what is the point of going to BB10 in the first place.Lyne would put Apple and Microsoft in joint second place, but from very different perspectives. Apple checks apps before they go into the store and then is very quick to pull any malevolent ones that get through. Lyne cautions, however, that the “trust me” approach could come back and bite Apple.“The lack of transparency means there is trust where it isn’t deserved,” he says.

He paints a scenario of malware that might jailbreak as it goes, spreading from iPhone to iPhone and putting the devices outside of Apple’s control.That hasn’t happened but Lyne still prefers the PC model of security. He says that today’s mobile malware is very 1990s so all you need to do to prevent it is a simple reputation look-up.But he warns that “mobile opens up old wounds that previously we’d closed on PCs” – smarter polymorphs and the like. Lyne says of all the operating systems Windows Phone is the best architected to cope with the threats we have not seen yet.Oracle's autumn batch of quarterly updates included no fewer than 127 security fixes, including 51 for Java alone.The arrival of the Critical Patch Update (CPU) from Oracle means pretty much all of the enterprise server packages from the software giant need patching.Oracle Database Server, Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle PeopleSoft Products, Oracle Siebel CRM, Oracle and Sun Systems Products Suite, Oracle Virtualization and Oracle MySQL all need security fixes for one reason or another. Many of the patched vulns allow attackers to gain remote unauthenticated access to marks' networks.

The October update marks the first occasion Oracle has patched Java on the same quarterly cycle as other products, a move that makes sense and is arguably overdue – Java updates previously arrived on a four month cycle.The numerous Java updates are the most serious and pressing of of the whole batch, according to security experts.The update addresses 51 vulnerabilities, with 12 vulnerabilities having the highest CVSSv2 score of 10, indicating that these vulnerabilities can be used to take full control over the attacked machine over the network without requiring authentication, warns Wolfgang Kandek, CTO at cloud security firm Qualys in a blog post.The majority of vulnerabilities are concentrated on the Java client side, i.e. in desktop/laptop deployments,” adds Kandek, “with the most common attack vector being web browsing and malicious web pages, but there are two highly critical vulnerabilities that also apply to server installations – CVE-2013-5782 and CVE-2013-5830. The new version is Java 7 update 45, and you should update as quickly as possible on your desktop and laptop machines.

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