The electronics ban will have a few unintended side effects. One of the most serious is the large number of lithium-ion batteries in the cargo hold of an airliner.According to the Federal Aviation Administration, it's behavior with potentially catastrophic consequences.FAA battery fire testing has highlighted the potential risk of a catastrophic aircraft loss due to damage resulting from a lithium battery fire or explosion, the agency wrote in an alert in February. Current cargo fire suppression systems cannot effectively control a lithium battery fire.Administration officials told journalists on Monday that they were working with the FAA to maintain a safe flying environment, but they did not state specifics. Business Insider asked DHS for specifics on Tuesday but has not yet heard back from officials.
This is particularly concerning for Michael Mo, the cofounder and CEO of KULR Technologies, a company that specializes in thermal-management systems for batteries.Lithium-ion batteries are inherently volatile. It's statistics. It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when one of these things blow, Mo told Business Insider in an interview. So when that happens, it's better to have humans nearby to react and put out the fire.According to Mo, the only saving grace here is that spare batteries and power banks are still prohibited. Which means only batteries fitted inside devices will be stored with cargo. Even though it's not perfectly safe, these batteries tend to be more stable and less likely to combust.With the laptop ban still in its infancy, more details will likely emerge in the near future. Stay tuned.
This week, Microsoft made a pair of closely-related announcements: First, the $999 Surface Laptop, a MacBook rival pitched at college students, and second, the lightweight Windows 10 S operating system, which will also power the new laptop.In both cases, it's a big furthering of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's longtime insistence that the key to Windows 10 succeeding is just making sure people like Windows 10. Building a slick new laptop, and a super-fast new version of Windows 10 to power it, might well win over some Mac converts. The upside for Microsoft is pretty strong, too, competitively speaking. The Surface Laptop looks to reinforce Microsoft's challenge to Apple as the premium hardware manufacturer of choice, and Windows 10 S is a shot at Google's fast-growing Chrome OS. But in both cases, Microsoft is running right up against the limits of its Windows strategy, too. And whether these initiatives succeed or fail will say a lot about the future of the Windows operating system. Here's why. Succeed or fail, all eyes will be on the Surface Laptop as a bellwether of Microsoft's ambitions in hardware.
The unveiling of the Surface Laptop came less than a week after Microsoft's latest earnings, which revealed that revenue in the Surface hardware division had shrunk by $285 million, or 26%, as other companies started releasing their own, price-competitive rivals to the Surface Pro tablet.While there's a case to be made that having more Surface competitors is a good thing for Windows (after all, Microsoft is a software company first and foremost), it's not a great look for Microsoft, which insists it's in the hardware business for the long haul.Just as concerning, Microsoft's flagship 18-month-old Surface Pro 4 tablet, the anchor of the Surface lineup, is nearing the end of its lifecycle — and the rumored Surface Pro 5 is nowhere to be found. Furthermore, Microsoft has always walked a fine line with the Surface hardware lineup: The goal of the Surface business, Microsoft has long said, is to build hardware that pushes Windows forward. The original Surface tablet was built because PC manufacturers were reluctant to add touchscreens, for instance.
But making its own PCs puts Microsoft into competition with the companies it relies on to build Windows devices. While just about every PC manufacturer is building at least one laptop based on the Windows 10 S operating system, it's going to be the Surface Laptop that gets the spotlight. That could potentially alienate partners and discourage them from embracing the new Windows.At the same time, Windows 10 S comes at a tipping point for the company. With Windows 10, Microsoft has challenged Apple's position as the premiere platform for creatives and other power users. But Google's Chrome OS is the most popular operating system in American classrooms, and Windows 10 S is answering that challenge.See, Windows 10 S promises big boosts to performance, security, and battery life, powering low-cost laptops and tablets that can present a challenge to Google's Chromebooks.Those perks come at the cost of only being able to download apps from the Windows Store. On the surface (har har) that seems like a limitation, which it will be for many Windows 10 S users. It means no Google Chrome, Steam, or automatic Dropbox file syncing on Windows 10 S.
But if and when Windows 10 S is a hit, it stands to attract more and more applications to the Windows Store, which is, as of now, relatively lacking compared to the Apple App Store or Google Play. Microsoft has released tools to make it easier to bring traditional PC software to the Windows Store, too, and is converting Microsoft Office to prove it. Windows 10 S also won't let you change your search engine away from Google, a boon to Microsoft's Bing.If Windows 10 S is a hit in the classroom, that'll bring more educational apps to the platform. But that won't encourage developers to bring their more mainstream apps and games to the Windows Store. And without those mainstream apps, it'll be a struggle to attract mainstream users ... which would further dissuade developers from bothering with the Windows Store in the first place.Couple that with the potential market confusion between Windows 10 S and Windows 10 Pro in the first place, and Microsoft has a real challenge ahead.
Under CEO Nadella, Microsoft has made great strides in making Windows relevant again. Now, Microsoft has to step up and prove that it can keep that train rolling.The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase. One of the toughest parts about packing a laptop in a bag is keeping everything organized. It's easy for cables and accessories to fly around while you're traveling, making them a pain to retrieve when you need them.Cocoon Innovations wants to eliminate that problem with the GRID-IT Wrap. It's a cross between a traditional laptop bag and laptop sleeve, with a two-piece design that keeps your MacBook safe, and your accessories in one place. Meant for a 13 MacBook Air or 13 MacBook Pro, the GRID-IT Wrap flips open to reveal a pocket for your laptop, and an organizer on the front. The laptop pocket is tucked away between the organizer and bottom of the wrap to ensure it has as much cushioning as possible.
Laptop sleeves are common, but it's the organizer that makes this one worth the recommendation; it's made up of straps arranged in a criss-cross shape. You slide your accessories, big or small, between the straps and they stay put. Smaller accessories might only require one strap, but bigger ones (external hard drives, USB batteries, etc.) might need to be tucked in between a couple. The small size of this bag mixed with its smart storage system makes it the ideal day bag for MacBook owners. You can keep everything you need for a day at work, class, or studying at a coffee shop in one neat package. It could also work if you slip it into a larger backpack when traveling.If you've traditionally avoided keeping your MacBook in a backpack or messenger bag because of its size, this could be the perfect solution.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Business Insider's Insider Picks team. We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners, including Amazon. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback.Shortly before Christmas, Consumer Reports, one of the most-trusted product review groups for over 80 years, said that Apple's lastest MacBook Pro had seriously inconsistent battery life, which meant that it couldn't give the computer its coveted recommended rating.
But Apple said that it didn't understand the battery life test Consumer Reports used, and Apple's head of marketing Phil Schiller said it would work with Consumer Reports to understand their battery tests.
On Thursday, Consumer Reports said that after Apple fixed a bug, it could now give the MacBook Pro a recommended rating.In fact, after applying Apple's bug fix, Consumer Reports said it found the new MacBook Pro models get great battery life:The three MacBook Pros in our labs include two 13-inch models, one with Apple’s new Touch Bar and one without the Touch Bar; and a 15-inch model. (All 15-inch MacBook Pros come with the Touch Bar.) The new average battery-life results are, in order, 15.75 hours, 18.75 hours, and 17.25 hours.Consumer Reports continues to insist that its testing issues were caused by a specific Apple bug that it uncovered. But in a statement provided to Business Insider earlier this week, Apple said that Consumer Reports' testing did not reflect real-world usage. Apple said that Consumer Reports used a hidden Safari setting in its testing that consumers don't typically turn on.