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Android

Microsoft Gearing Up To Release a Smartwatch of Its Own 118

Posted by timothy
from the funny-how-things-catch-on dept.
SmartAboutThings writes The smartwatch market is still in its nascent form, but with Apple releasing its AppleWatch in early 2015, things are going to change. And Microsoft wants to make sure it's not late to the party, as it has been so many times in the past. That's why it plans on releasing its own smartwatch , which would be the first new category under CEO Nadella. The device could get launched with two specific features that could make it stand apart from other similar devices — much better battery life and cross-platform support for iOS and Android users. A release before this year's holiday season is in the cards, with no details on the pricing nor availability. (Also at Reuters and The Inquirer.)
GUI

Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday 346

Posted by timothy
from the new-one-looks-nice-to-me dept.
HughPickens.com writes Erik Karjaluoto writes that he recently installed OS X Yosemite and his initial reaction was "This got hit by the ugly stick." But Karjaluoto says that Apple's decision to make a wholesale shift from Lucida to Helvetica defies his expectations and wondered why Apple would make a change that impedes legibility, requires more screen space, and makes the GUI appear fuzzy? The Answer: Tomorrow.

Microsoft's approach with Windows, and backward compatibility in general, is commendable. "Users can install new versions of this OS on old machines, sometimes built on a mishmash of components, and still have it work well. This is a remarkable feat of engineering. It also comes with limitations — as it forces Microsoft to operate in the past." But Apple doesn't share this focus on interoperability or legacy. "They restrict hardware options, so they can build around a smaller number of specs. Old hardware is often left behind (turn on a first-generation iPad, and witness the sluggishness). Meanwhile, dying conventions are proactively euthanized," says Karjaluoto. "When Macs no longer shipped with floppy drives, many felt baffled. This same experience occurred when a disk (CD/DVD) reader no longer came standard." In spite of the grumblings of many, Karjaluoto doesn't recall many such changes that we didn't later look upon as the right choice.
Input Devices

Apple's Next Hit Could Be a Microsoft Surface Pro Clone 245

Posted by timothy
from the they-have-the-technology dept.
theodp writes "Good artists copy, great artists steal," Steve Jobs used to say. Having launched a perfectly-timed attack against Samsung and phablets with its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Leonid Bershidsky suggests that the next big thing from Apple will be a tablet-laptop a la Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. "Before yesterday's Apple [iPad] event," writes Bershidsky, "rumors were strong of an upcoming giant iPad, to be called iPad Pro or iPad Plus. There were even leaked pictures of a device with a 12.9-inch screen, bigger than the Surface Pro's 12-inch one. It didn't come this time, but it will. I've been expecting a touch-screen Apple laptop for a few years now, and keep being wrong.
Graphics

Direct3D 9.0 Support On Track For Linux's Gallium3D Drivers 50

Posted by timothy
from the one-way-or-another dept.
An anonymous reader writes Twelve years after Microsoft debuted DirectX 9.0, open-source developers are getting ready to possibly land Direct3D 9.0 support within the open-source Linux Mesa/Gallium3D code-base. The "Gallium3D Nine" state tracker allows accelerating D3D9 natively by Gallium3D drivers and there's patches for Wine so that Windows games can utilize this state tracker without having to go through Wine's costly D3D-to-OGL translator. The Gallium3D D3D9 code has been in development since last year and is now reaching a point where it's under review for mainline Mesa. The uses for this Direct3D 9 state tracker will likely be very limited outside of using it for Wine gaming.
Internet Explorer

Microsoft's JavaScript Engine Gets Two-Tiered Compilation 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the under-the-hood dept.
jones_supa writes: The Internet Explorer team at Microsoft recently detailed changes to the JavaScript engine coming in Windows 10. A significant change is the addition of a new tier in the Just-in-Time (JIT) compiler. In Windows 10, the Chakra JS engine now includes a second JIT compiler that bridges the gap between slow, interpreted code and fast, optimized code. It uses this middle-tier compiler, called Simple JIT, as a "good enough" layer that can move execution away from the interpreter quicker than the Full JIT can. Microsoft claims that the changes will allow certain workloads to "run up to 30% faster". The move to a two-tiered JIT compiler structure mirrors what other browsers have done. SpiderMonkey, the JavaScript engine in Firefox, has an interpreter and two compilers: Baseline and IonMonkey. In Google Chrome, the V8 JavaScript engine is also a two-tiered system. It does not use an interpreter, but compiles on a discrete background thread.
Microsoft

Microsoft Partners With Docker 104

Posted by samzenpus
from the team-up dept.
rjmarvin writes Docker is teaming up with Microsoft to bring its open container technology to the next release of Windows Server. Docker Engine will work with the next release of Windows Server and images will be available in Docker Hub, which will also integrate directly into Microsoft Azure. The partnership moves Docker beyond Linux for the first time with new multi-container application capabilities for cloud and enterprise developers.
Microsoft

Data From Windows 10 Feedback Tool Exposes Problem Areas 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the self-awareness-kernel-keeps-uninstalling-morality-drivers dept.
jones_supa writes: Two weeks in, and already a million people have tried out Windows 10 Technical Preview, reports Microsoft, along with a nice stack of other stats and feedback. Only 36% of installations are occurring inside a virtual machine. 68% of Windows 10 Technical Preview users are launching more than seven apps per day, with somewhere around 25% of testers using Windows 10 as their daily driver (26 app launches or more per day). With the help of Windows 10's built-in feedback tool, thousands of testers have made it very clear that Microsoft's new OS still has lots of irksome bugs and misses many much-needed features. ExtremeTech has posted an interesting list of the most popular gripes received, them mostly being various GUI endurances. What has your experience been with the Technical Preview?
Programming

Microsoft, Facebook Declare European Kids Clueless About Coding, Too 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-least-they're-consistent dept.
theodp writes: Having declared U.S. kids clueless about coding, Facebook and Microsoft are now turning their attention to Europe's young 'uns. "As stewards of Europe's future generations," begins the Open Letter to the European Union Ministers for Education signed by Facebook and Microsoft, "you will be all too aware that as early as the age of 7, children reach a critical juncture, when they are learning the core life skills of reading, writing and basic maths. However, to flourish in tomorrow's digital economy and society, they should also be learning to code. And many, sadly, are not." Released at the launch of the European Coding Initiative — aka All You Need is Code! (video) — in conjunction with the EU's Code Week, the letter closes, "As experts in our field, we owe it to Europe's youth to help equip them with the skills they will need to succeed — regardless of where life takes them."
Windows

Windows Flaw Allowed Hackers To Spy On NATO, Ukraine, Others 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-the-cookie-jar dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Reuters reports that a cybersecurity firm has found evidence that a bug in Microsoft's Windows operating system has allowed hackers located in Russia to spy on computers used by NATO, Ukraine, the European Union, and others for the past five years. Before disclosing the flaw, the firm alerted Microsoft, who plans to roll out a fix on Tuesday. "While technical indicators do not indicate whether the hackers have ties to the Russian government, Hulquist said he believed they were supported by a nation state because they were engaging in espionage, not cyber crime. For example, in December 2013, NATO was targeted with a malicious document on European diplomacy. Several regional governments in the Ukraine and an academic working on Russian issues in the United States were sent tainted emails that claimed to contain a list of pro-Russian extremist activities, according to iSight."
Patents

Interviews: Ask Florian Mueller About Software Patents and Copyrights 177

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Florian Mueller is a blogger, software developer and former consultant who writes about software patents and copyright issues on his FOSSPatents blog. In 2004 he founded the NoSoftwarePatents campaign, and has written about Microsoft's multi-billion-dollar Android patent licensing business and Google's appeal of Oracle's Android-Java copyright case to the Supreme Court. Florian has agreed to give us some of his time in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Microsoft

Microsoft's Quantum Mechanics 39

Posted by timothy
from the not-so-strange-bedfellows dept.
New submitter catchblue22 writes MIT Technology Review has an excellent article summarizing the current state of quantum computing. It focuses on the efforts of Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs to build stable qubits over the past few years. "In 2012, physicists in the Netherlands announced a discovery in particle physics that started chatter about a Nobel Prize. Inside a tiny rod of semiconductor crystal chilled cooler than outer space, they had caught the first glimpse of a strange particle called the Majorana fermion, finally confirming a prediction made in 1937. It was an advance seemingly unrelated to the challenges of selling office productivity software or competing with Amazon in cloud computing, but Craig Mundie, then heading Microsoft's technology and research strategy, was delighted. The abstruse discovery — partly underwritten by Microsoft — was crucial to a project at the company aimed at making it possible to build immensely powerful computers that crunch data using quantum physics. "It was a pivotal moment," says Mundie. "This research was guiding us toward a way of realizing one of these systems."
Input Devices

Microsoft Develops Analog Keyboard For Wearables, Solves Small Display Dilemma 100

Posted by timothy
from the finger-spelling dept.
MojoKid writes Have you ever tried hunting and pecking on a miniature keyboard that's been crammed onto a smartwatch's tiny display? Unless the tips of your fingers somehow resemble that of a stylus, you're in for a challenge. Interestingly enough, it's Microsoft that might have the most logical solution for typing on small size displays running Google's Android Wear platform. Microsoft's research division has built an analog keyboard prototype for Android Wear that eliminates the need to tap at tiny letters, and instead has you write them out. On the surface, such a solution seems like you'd be trading one tedious task for another, though a demo of the technology in action shows that this could be a promising solution — watch how fast the guy in the video is able to hammer out a response.
Education

Despite Push From Tech Giants, AP CS Exam Counts Don't Budge Much In Most States 144

Posted by timothy
from the can't-argue-with-a-pig dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Well, the College Board has posted the 2014 AP Computer Science Test scores. So, before the press rushes out another set of Not-One-Girl-In-Wyoming-Took-an-AP-CS-Exam stories, let's point out that no Wyoming students of either gender took an AP CS exam again in 2014 (.xlsx). At the overall level, the final numbers have changed somewhat (back-of-the-Excel-envelope calculations, no warranty expressed or implied!), but tell pretty much the same story as the preliminary figures — the number of overall AP CS test takers increased, while pass rates decreased despite efforts to cherry pick students with a high likelihood of success. What is kind of surprising is how little the test numbers budged for most states — only 8 states managed to add more than 100 girls to the AP CS test taker rolls — despite the PR push by the tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, and, Facebook. Also worth noting are some big percentage decreases at the top end of the score segments (5 and 4), and still-way-too-wide gaps that exist between the score distributions of the College Board's various ethnic segments (more back of the envelope calcs). If there's a Data Scientist in the house, AP CS exam figures grabbed from the College Board's Excel 2013 and 2014 worksheets can be found here (Google Sheets) together with the (unwalkedthrough) VBA code that was used to collect it. Post your insight (and code/data fixes) in the comments!"
Windows

Windows Users, Get Ready For a Bigger-Than-Usual Patch Tuesday 63

Posted by timothy
from the why-I-tell-my-mom-no-windows dept.
dibdublin (981416) writes with a report from The Register: October is stacking up to be a bumper Patch Tuesday update with nine bulletins lined up for delivery — three rated critical. Cloud security firm Qualys estimates two of the lesser "important" bulletins are just as bad however, as they would also allow malicious code injection onto vulnerable systems. Top of the critical list is an update for Internet Explorer that affects all currently supported versions 6 to 11, on all operating system including Windows RT. Vulnerabilities discovered in most versions of Windows Server, Windows 7 and 8, and the .NET framework are covered in the other pair of critical bulletins.
Graphics

Ubisoft Claims CPU Specs a Limiting Factor In Assassin's Creed Unity On Consoles 337

Posted by timothy
from the bottlenecks-shift dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes A new interview with Assassin's Creed Unity senior producer Vincent Pontbriand has some gamers seeing red and others crying "told you so," after the developer revealed that the game's 900p framerate and 30 fps target on consoles is a result of weak CPU performance rather than GPU compute. "Technically we're CPU-bound," Pontbriand said. "The GPUs are really powerful, obviously the graphics look pretty good, but it's the CPU that has to process the AI, the number of NPCs we have on screen, all these systems running in parallel. We were quickly bottlenecked by that and it was a bit frustrating, because we thought that this was going to be a tenfold improvement over everything AI-wise..." This has been read by many as a rather damning referendum on the capabilities of AMD's APU that's under the hood of Sony's and Microsoft's new consoles. To some extent, that's justified; the Jaguar CPU inside both the Sony PS4 and Xbox One is a modest chip with a relatively low clock speed. Both consoles may offer eight CPU threads on paper, but games can't access all that headroom. One thread is reserved for the OS and a few more cores will be used for processing the 3D pipeline. Between the two, Ubisoft may have only had 4-5 cores for AI and other calculations — scarcely more than last gen, and the Xbox 360 and PS3 CPUs were clocked much faster than the 1.6 / 1.73GHz frequencies of their replacements.
Security

Infected ATMs Give Away Millions of Dollars Without Credit Cards 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Kaspersky Lab performed a forensic investigation into cybercriminal attacks targeting multiple ATMs around the world. During the course of this investigation, researchers discovered the Tyupkin malware used to infect ATMs and allow attackers to remove money via direct manipulation, stealing millions of dollars. The criminals work in two stages. First, they gain physical access to the ATMs and insert a bootable CD to install the Tyupkin malware. After they reboot the system, the infected ATM is now under their control and the malware runs in an infinite loop waiting for a command. To make the scam harder to spot, the Tyupkin malware only accepts commands at specific times on Sunday and Monday nights. During those hours, the attackers are able to steal money from the infected machine.
Medicine

Professor Kevin Fu Answers Your Questions About Medical Device Security 21

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
Almost a year ago you had a chance to ask professor Kevin Fu about medical device security. A number of events (including the collapse of his house) conspired to delay the answering of those questions. Professor Fu has finally found respite from calamity, coincidentally at a time when the FDA has issued guidance on the security of medical devices. Below you'll find his answers to your old but not forgotten questions.
Microsoft

Microsoft's "RoomAlive" Transforms Any Room Into a Giant Xbox Game 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the from-the-comfort-of-your-own-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes Microsoft has unveiled a new augmented reality experience called "RoomAlive". Using projectors and Kinect, RoomAlive allows for fully interactive gaming experiences that take up an entire 3D space. From the article: "RoomAlive builds on the familiar concepts of IllumiRoom, but pushes things a lot further by extending an Xbox gaming environment to an entire living room. It's a proof-of-concept demo, just like IllumiRoom, and it combines Kinect and projectors to create an augmented reality experience that is interactive inside a room. You can reach out and hit objects from a game, or interact with games through any surfaces of a room. RoomAlive tracks the position of a gamers head across all six Kinect sensors, to render content appropriately."
Microsoft

Test Version Windows 10 Includes Keylogger 367

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-track-you-with dept.
wabrandsma writes From WinBeta: "One of the more interesting bits of data the company is collecting is text entered. Some are calling this a keylogger within the Windows 10 Technical Preview, which isn't good news. Taking a closer look at the Privacy Policy for the Windows Insider Program, it looks like Microsoft may be collecting a lot more feedback from you behind the scenes. Microsoft collects information about you, your devices, applications and networks, and your use of those devices, applications and networks. Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage." This isn't the only thing Microsoft is collecting from Insider Program participants. According to the Privacy Policy, the company is collecting things like text inputted into the operating system, the details of any/all files on your system, voice input and program information.
Bitcoin

Bill Gates: Bitcoin Is 'Better Than Currency' 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-digital-benjamins dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Entrepreneur.com: After long remaining mostly mum on Bitcoin, Microsoft's legendary co-founder Bill Gates has spoken. At the Sibos 2014 financial-services industry conference in Boston, America's richest man just threw his weight behind the controversial cryptocash. Well, at least as a low-cost payments solution. ... "Bitcoin is exciting because it shows how cheap it can be," he told Erik Schatzker during a Bloomberg TV's Smart Street show interview yesterday (video). "Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don't have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient." ... While he seems relatively bullish on how inexpensive transacting in Bitcoin can be, Gates isn't singing the praises of its anonymity. The billionaire alluded in an oblique, somewhat rambling fashion to some of the more nefarious anonymous uses associated with Bitcoin.

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