CES is largely a hardware showcase, anyway, and Microsoft wasn’t around. Yet vendors did make some noteworthy software announcements in various nooks and crannies of this year’s conference in Las Vegas. For instance, McAfee received a name change, HP notebooks started shipping with LiveSafe aboard, Mozilla postponed its Windows 8.1 Firefox app, and Cisco unveiled plans to preload WebEx on Samsung devices.
As you might be aware, most big Windows and Mac software makers refresh their product line-ups in the fall, rather than January, to cash in on December holiday sales. Major software releases also come at other times of the year. Bitdefender, for example, used CES for talking up its forthcoming security predictions for 2014, not for releasing new security software. Bitdefender is looking at launching its next round of products next summer, said Catalin Cosoi, Bitdefender’s chief security strategist, in an interview with NotebookRevew.
McAfee, for its part, rolled out its 2014 line-up back in September of 2013. The overall announcement, however, also included McAfee LiveSafe, a cloud-enabled, crossplatform security service for PCs, Macs and mobile devices actually introduced four months before that. LiveSafe supports other PC models, too, but it provides extra identification and anti-theft features on Ultrabooks. In June of last year, LiveSafe began shipping on Dell Ultrabooks.
LiveSafe Now Bundled on HP Ultrabooks
At CES 2014, McAfee announced that HP has become the fourth OEM to bundle its security offering on Ultrabooks. In the interim, other OEMs that have agreed to ship the software include Lenovo and Acer, although Acer won’t start doing so until this summer.
In another bundling deal rolled out at CES, Cisco’s WebEx videoconferencing software will be preloaded on Samsung’s new NotePro and TabPro mobels. On its web site, by the way, Samsung describes the Android-enabled NotePro as combining “the productivity of a PC with the portability of a tablet.” Cisco will also supply special tools for the Samsung devices, including screen sharing, the ability to escalate phone calls into WebEx meetings, and free six-month subscriptions to WebEx Meetings Premium 8.
Windows 8.1 Apps Lacking
Yet news about Windows application software at CES was even lighter than ever this year, and Microsoft was invisible. While Microsoft didn’t take out booth space for CES 2013, Steve Ballmer made a quick appearance at the Qualcomm keynote, and Microsoft took part in a Samsung press event. Conversely, Microsoft stayed away from CES 2014 entirely, although company officials reportedly met with partners at off-site venues in Las Vegas.
Last year, at least, software developers touted some new apps for Windows 8, such as Zinio’s digital magazine reader and the Toon Boom animation app. At CES 2014, however, while announcements of new Android and iOS apps abounded, the same could hardly be said for Windows 8.1 “Modern” apps. In fact, Mozilla acknowledged that it’s pushing back the release of its Firefox browser app for Windows 8.1 yet again, this time until March 18.
In a blog post on the eve of the show, Mozilla explained that some bugs in the browser still weren’t fixed, and that the “holiday break” had also interfered with meeting the earlier projected release date of December.
“This touch-friendly version of Firefox has been designed to ensure people get the best browsing experience,” according to Mozilla’s statement. “It has a tile-based Firebox Start experience and supports Firefox Sync, Windows 8 touch and swipe gestures, Snapped and Fill views, and Windows Share integration, all delivered with a streamlined, modern and beautiful interface.” A pre-beta build of the browser is available for download from the Web.
Firefox OS & WebOS Move to TVs
Also at CES 2014, vendors announced interesting OS choices for Internet TVs, a set of hardware platforms not yet dominated by either Windows, Android, or iOS. Mozilla’s Firefox OS will power HDTVs from Panasonic, while LG’s WebOS — acquired last year from HP — will do the honors on LG’s smart TVs.
Meanwhile, Intel and AMD made separate announcements of plans to work with OEMs on producing “hybrid” PCs which will run both Android and Windows.
McAfee Turns Into ‘Intel Security’
In another piece of major news, McAfee got a new name. During the opening keynote, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said that Intel plans to gradually transition the Intel-owned McAfee to the new brand name of Intel Security.
Many observers have suggested that Intel wants to disassociate the software branding from McAfee founder John McAfee, who has become a colorful figure over the years.
In an interview with NotebookReview, though, Gary Davis, McAfee’s VP of global consumer marketing, presented a different take on the subject. According to Davis, McAfee and rival companies are still entrenched in many people’s minds as Windows PC antivirus (AV) software vendors, since that is how these companies began life.
Yet since then, of course, the original AV software developers have branched out in many other directions, including firewalls, anti-theft software, cloud storage, and security for mobile devices, to name a few.
“Security isn’t just about Windows any more,” Davis noted.
Intel, he contended, wants to “evolve” the public perception of security to places beyond the bounds of traditional AV software.