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Apple Joins the Cloud; Microsoft's Student Offer

There is tech news all over: Apple announces iCloud and Microsoft launches its student offer.

This has been a big week for tech news.  Next week I will highlight the news from E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), but first some news from Apple's announcements at  WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference).

Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs was on hand despite being away from the day-to-day business due to medical problems.  He first announced the new version of the Mac OSX, Lion which will be available in July.  It has updates that bring some of the iPad features to your desktop and laptop Apple computers.  Next up were improvements to the iOS software for iPad and iPhones.  Highlights include instant access to your camera from the locked position and increased integration with Twitter.

This led up to the announcement of iCloud.  This is an integrated management system for all of your 'i' devices (iPod, iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone) and your computers running iTunes.  With one account, your email, contacts, pictures from your iOS cameras, music, calendar, iWork documents are all stored in iCloud and synched automatically onto up to 10 devices.  The service will be free for all of your iTunes purchased music up to 5GB. To add music from your own collections (either uploaded from your CDs or purchased elsewhere) you can pay $24.95/ year to synch your non-iTunes music and have unlimited music storage. More information is available here, from Apple.  To see a chart comparing the Amazon Cloud Player, the Google Music Beta and the iCloud offering, see the chart here from PC Magazine.

On the PC side of things, Microsoft has announced a special offer for students.  Any student with a valid .edu email address (for on-line purchases) or student ID (for in-store purchases) who purchases a Windows 7 laptop priced $699 or higher, can get a free 4GB Xbox360 (normal retail of $199) from participating retailers.  More information about this and other student deals is available at their Facebook page. Timed to cover both graduation presents through back to school shopping (5/22-9/3), this is a significant push to try to reach students who might be on the fence between 'I'm a Mac' and 'I'm a PC'.

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