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     Sep 8, 2012


<IT WORLD>
Moscow subverts Big Brother
By Martin J Young

HUA HIN, Thailand - It has been well publicized that Google collects personal data from Android users in order to target them with advertising. Less than pleased that that sensitive information could find its way into US government, the Russian defense ministry has developed its own stripped-down and encrypted version of the operating system especially for government and military devices. This week it was announced that the prototype platform would be available to the public by the end of the year.

The consumer appeal of a secure system, safe from the snooping eyes of Google, may not be enough to overcome the proposed US$460 price-tag the government want to place on it. Developers at the ministry's Central Scientific Research Institute stated that their main client is the state and its top brass: "The military

 

version will be shock and water-proof."

According to production unit director Andrei Starikovsky "The operating system has all the functional capabilities of an Android operating system but none of its hidden features that send users' private data to Google headquarters."

The software has been in the works for around five years as Russian ministries and energy firms have little faith in Google's security. "They are not afraid of Google or the US government stealing things per se. They are afraid of leaks in general," the operating system's project manager Dmitry Mikhailov told AFP.

The Russian Mobile Operating System (RoMOS) is virtually hackproof and uses Russia's own GPS alternative, the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), as a precaution against the US government shutting down its GPS system.

Market prospects for the first Russian-assembled 10 inch tablets running the operating system could be bright if enough wealthy Russians value their privacy enough to warrant paying for services and software that is available for free elsewhere.

Software
The battle for browser supremacy is still being dominated by Microsoft's Internet Explorer however the second place skirmish between Firefox and Chrome is getting very close. According to research firm Net Applications, all versions of IE accounted for 48.73% of the global browser market share for August, Mozilla's Firefox has an 18.21% share and Google's Chrome, which saw slight decline in June and July, is a close third with 17.37%.

In the operating system arena Windows 7 finally passed the 11 year-old Windows XP, according to Netmarketshare, whose figures include PC use in Asia, where pirate copies of the software are rife. The diehard Windows XP has lasted so long because of its use by government organizations and large enterprises that are slow to upgrade and often reluctant to change.

Nevertheless, XP still has an impressive 42.52% share of the global operating system market, and was just edged out for the first time last month by Windows 7, with 42.76%. Windows Vista is dying a deserved death and now only has 6.15% market share, enabling Apple's Mac OS to overtake with 7.13%.

The total market share for Microsoft's OS has barely moved in the last 12 months with a miniscule decline of 0.09% from 91.86% in October 2011 to 91.77% today. So, regardless of all the Apple hype, in the personal computer operating system environment, it is still planet Windows.

Telecoms
Smart-phone manufacturers are clamoring to grab a piece of a market that seems to know no bounds. Apple and Samsung have taken the limelight in recent months with their epic battle for total domination but there is room for more, Nokia and Motorola both released new handsets this week to vie for a slice of the pie.

The Lumia 920 and Lumia 820, running Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 platform, represent Nokia's flagship range, they are impressive devices boasting some serious technology including a large 4.5 inch display, dwarfing the iPhone's 3.5 inch, wireless charging, and an advanced PureView camera with optical image stabilization.

Motorola unveiled three Android powered smart-phones under its Razr brand at an event this week, the first product launches under new owner Google. The company has not produced a winning product since the original and highly popular Razr clamshell phone launched in 2004.

The new units, Droid Razr HD, Droid Razr M and Droid Razr Maxx HD, boast equally impressive tech with longer battery life which can stream video for 10 hours or enable 21 hours of talk time, Motorola radio components for fast 4G LTE connectivity, and an even larger 4.7 inch screen.

Prices and availability for the new Nokia and Motorola handsets were not specified. However, it is plain to see that the smart-phone launch rush is on as Apple is expected to reveal the iPhone 5 next week - and the hype, as usual, is likely to be excessive.

Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)





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