Google using Microsoft-created API to fix scrolling issues in Chrome
Google is going to be leaning on some Internet Explorer technology to fix scrolling and touch support in its Chrome browser. At the same time, Google has launched an extension for the desktop versions of Chrome which aims to reduce the amount of data used to surf the Internet, a feature that has already made an appearance on iOS and Android versions of the browser.
Disrupting industries is the new black, great apps and fair app prices, bad jokes
The MacNN Podcast episode seven is now available, and this week we looked at the rumor that Apple is preparing to revamp the Apple TV and sweeten the pot with an optional package of channel offerings that don't require a cable subscription; Google's entry into the MVNO space; the recent Microsoft announcements about Windows 10; Facebook getting into inter-site payments; the return of Launcher to the App Store, and the removal of so-called "anti-virus" iOS apps; our latest "Living With" column; and our favorite apps of the week.
Budget-priced Lumia 430 has four-inch display, 1.2GHz processor, 8GB storage
Microsoft has introduced what it calls its "most affordable Lumia" smartphone, priced at $70. The Lumia 430 Dual SIM leans towards the entry-level end of the smartphone spectrum, though despite the price, it manages to pack a 4-inch 800x480 display and runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim, and it will be able to use Windows 10 when it is released.
Microsoft to provide PCs in China running pirated Windows with free upgrade
Microsoft may end up allowing more people to use a free version of Windows 10 than previously thought. One report claims Microsoft is going to be trying to make it easier for Android users to switch to a Windows mobile device by transforming their existing smartphone, and some pirates may also end up being able to upgrade their existing Windows installation to the new release.
Company discovered breach seven months after intrusion
Washington state-based healthcare provider Premera has suffered a massive cyberattack, which has potentially led to the theft of 11 million customers' data. More than six million people affected by the breach live in Washington state, with many employees of Microsoft and Amazon at risk. The initial attack happened on May 4, 2014, with the realization that the system had been breached not occurring until January 29, the same day fellow provider Anthem realized that they had been attacked.
Microsoft partners with Chinese companies to help spread Windows upgrade
Microsoft will be releasing Windows 10 to the public in the coming months, the software maker has confirmed. Exiting its current Windows Insider technical preview program sometime this summer, the latest iteration of the operating system will be shipping in 190 countries around the world in 111 languages, with Microsoft also announcing a greater push into China.
Fingerprint scanning, face and iris recognition coming to Windows 10
Windows 10 will be including more alternative log-in systems when it launches, with Microsoft embracing biometric security on computers. The software giant also advises that the team behind Windows 10 have made changes to the way it compresses system files and how the operating system handles recovery functions, helping reduce the software's footprint on the device's storage.
Lawsuit alleged every Apple mobile device abused assortment of ex-Nokia patents
Late Monday, a jury ended a legal battle with a patent licensing firm. A jury in Texas' "rocket docket" declared that Apple did not infringe on five patents held by Conversant owned Core Wireless Licensing SARL, who was seeking $100 million in damages, and a portion of Apple's device sales going forward, some of which may have been paid out to Microsoft.
Option to download from networked PCs, other systems found in leaked Windows 10 build
Microsoft may be using a peer-to-peer file distribution system for system updates in Windows 10, a report claims. A leaked build of Windows 10 is said to include an option to "get updates from more than one place," suggesting Microsoft may be shifting away from its existing direct-from-server system to a more modern system that is closer to BitTorrent and other similar file-sharing services.
Video game inspired artificial intelligence assistant part of Microsoft's broader plan
Microsoft has broader ambitions for its Windows Phone voice-enabled assistant "Cortana." As part of an upcoming initiative slated for later in this year, not only will the voice recognition technology arrive on the desktop with Windows 10, it will also be seen on Android and iOS as a standalone app, according to Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research. The company had previously given a vague suggestion that it would come to alternative operating systems, but no details were provided until now.
Initial 2010 Stuxnet patch left Windows PCs vulnerable for five years
Microsoft has finally fixed an issue with Windows that allowed it to be vulnerable to the Stuxnet worm, by issuing another patch. An initial fix released in August 2010 to fix the USB exploit is claimed by security researchers not to have completely solved the problem, subsequently keeping all Windows PCs susceptible to the attack over the last five years, though a patch released today as part of "Patch Tuesday" is claimed to solve it once and for all.
OnePlus makes flagship smartphone available to buy in 16 more countries
OnePlus is making its OnePlus One smartphone available in more countries in Europe. The extra 16 countries, including Ireland and Greece, join another 19 countries in being able to acquire the mobile device, though The Next Web reports they will still be subject to requiring an invitation to purchase or ordering it during the Tuesday sales events, just like customers in other countries are subjected to.
Some of the best -- and worst -- trends in tech this week
The MacNN Podcast is now up to episode five, and this week we looked at the new Microsoft Office 2016 preview; the disturbing trend of legitimate app makers inserting adware (or worse) into their apps to make a few extra bucks; the news from last week's Mobile World Congress, including the new Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge; our favorite reviewed apps of the week, and more news about Monday's public debut of the Apple Watch.
The behemoth of office data processing returns -- and it is very good
We're not going to judge Microsoft Office for Mac 2016 in the detail or the depth that we will when it finally ships as a finished product. However, Microsoft has made it available in preview beta form, and it is irresistible. It's also very good, and if you have even a modicum of interest in Microsoft Office, you should try it now - though there are one or two caveats you'll want to keep in mind.
Chrome, Firefox for OS X safe; no ETA on Android, Windows patches
In an advisory published on Thursday, Microsoft has admitted that all versions of its OS and browser are susceptible to the FREAK bug. Additionally, all BlackBerry devices are also vulnerable. The flaw allowing the attack exists in approximately 36 percent of websites that use HTTPS, and miscreants are able to intercept and modify data passing between a vulnerable browser and a susceptible site. Neither BlackBarry devices nor Windows devices were intially pegged as susceptible, due to a flaw in the coding of the test site.
Building iPad version assisted in Mac rebuild and rethink of programs, company says
Microsoft on Thursday released a public preview beta of the programs that make up the forthcoming Office 2016 for Mac. The new versions, which inherit many of the features from the last Windows release, offer a Yosemite-inspired look that support Retina displays, full-screen mode, and other modern Mac and OS X features. The preview versions are completely free to download and use, but are intended to give customers a sneak peek and to gather feedback from users ahead of the final release.
Foldable Keyboard has spill-resistant design, can switch between two devices
Microsoft has made a second version of its multi-platform keyboard, this time in a more-portable form. Unveiled at Mobile World Congress alongside new Lumia devices, the Universal Foldable Keyboard is a full QWERTY keyboard which can be paired with two iOS, Android, Windows Phone, or Windows devices, with the user able to switch between the two with a press of a button.
Lumia 640 XL has larger screen, better cameras than Lumia 640
Microsoft has added two more mid-ranged devices to its Lumia device roster. The Lumia 640 has a five-inch 720p ClearBlack IPS display, with the Lumia 640 XL boasting a similar-resolution 5.7-inch display, and though they both have similar core specifications and share the same name, the XL version has a few more extra changes.
Case machined out of aluminum, boasts 12+ hour battery life
HP today announced the HP Spectre x360, a 13.3 inch convertible PC. The HP Spectre x360 is designed with an all-CNC aluminum chassis, is 15.9mm (0.63 inches) in height, and weighs 3.3 pounds. Notably, the company paired with Microsoft during all aspects of development, leading to tight Windows integration, and a software suite so light that the company calls it "one of the cleanest images HP has ever produced."
Microsoft simplifies student enrollment process for free Office 365 subscription
Microsoft is offering a simpler way for students around the world to check their eligibility for a free Office 365 license. While free subscriptions have been around for a while, it typically involved a lengthy process to check for eligibility. Now, students and teachers need to just sign up with a valid school email address to receive their subscription, which includes installation of Office apps on up to five computers and up to five mobile devices, as well as 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Cycling tile added to Microsoft band, more exercise tiles incoming
The first update for the Microsoft Band will introduce new tools for users and developers, as the company tries to improve its standing in the fitness-tracking market. A tile for monitoring cycling, improved communications between the band and mobile apps, and an on-screen keyboard are joined by Microsoft's preview release of an SDK, giving developers a hint at what they could do with the wearable device.
Google adds more editing options to Google Docs for Android
Google Docs for Android has been updated to provide more from its Office Compatibility Mode. The latest version allows for the cutting, copying, and pasting of text, images, tables, and charts in the mode, according to the Google Apps Updates blog, with the app also introducing the ability to insert links into Google documents. The updated app is available to download now from Google Play.
OneNote for Mac gains OCR support, close window, hide authors
On Wednesday, Microsoft updated its OneNote note-taking program for the Mac to include support for scanning and OCR of documents. The new 15.7.1 also includes to user-requested features -- the ability to close (rather than quit) the application's window using the standard Mac convention, and the ability to hide author initials in shared notebooks from the View tab.
Sunrise purchase believed to cost Microsoft at least $100M
Microsoft has confirmed it has acquired calendar app creator Sunrise. Rumored last week, the purchase provides Microsoft with a powerful calendar tool for iOS, Mac, Android, and a web-based version, and when combined with the earlier deal to buy Acompli, appears to show Microsoft is trying to improve its Office suite by incorporating already-successful third-party apps, rather than developing its own solutions.
Trademark suggests Microsoft considering more subscription services
Microsoft may be considering a future change to a subscription-based version of Windows, according to reports. A trademark filing for "Windows 365," mirroring the Office 365 branding, strongly suggests the software giant is looking to possibly charging a regular fee to consumers for the operating system or some specific functionality, rather than using the current one-time payment system used for major version upgrades.
Lower-specification Windows Phone devices could gain feature-limited WIndows 10
Microsoft is still working on allowing owners of lower-specification Windows Phone devices to use Windows 10. Concerns that owners of smartphones including the Lumia 520 would miss out were allayed by a Microsoft executive, though it appears that they may miss out on some of the functionality expected to arrive within the mobile operating system.
Calendar app purchase echoes earlier acquisition of Acompli
Microsoft has made another acquisition of an existing mobile productivity app, according to reports. Sunrise, the producer of calendar apps of the same name, is allegedly being acquired by the software giant, and based on the results of its last major third-party app acquisition, could end up adding the software to its Office app collection.
Cyanogen investment may be ploy to weaken Google control of Android
Microsoft may be planning to make an investment in an Android-related startup, a report claims. According to sources of the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft will allegedly take part in a funding round as a "minority investor" of Cyanogen, creators of the CyanogenMod Android ROM, with rumors that the round will bring in a total of $70 million to the ROM maker.
Web, iOS app first to gain new photo views, albums in OneDrive
Microsoft has made some changes to its cloud storage service OneDrive, with updates primarily concerning photography. Overall updates to image organization, searching, and sharing are accompanied by changes to the iOS app for work-related items, alterations which make it easier to access files stored on OneDrive for Business accounts without requiring a dedicated app, as well as a Mac client -- making file synchronization smoother.
Outlook preview edition for iOS, Android rebrands existing Acompli app
Microsoft has made its Office apps available to all Android users, following the limited preview release and the iOS version. The apps, including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, are accompanied by a new preview of another Office app, with a rebranded version of email app Acompli as Outlook downloadable from both Google Play and the iTunes App Store.
Surface accounts for $1.1B in revenues thanks to Surface Pro 3
Microsoft's last quarter saw the company pull in $26.47 billion in revenues, beating the previous quarter and the same quarter last year's figures by $3.27 billion and $1.95 billion respectively. The gross margin is up 1 percent year-on-year to $16.33 billion, though operating income is down 2 percent to $7.78 billion, with the diluted earnings per share at $0.71, down nine percent.
Latest Windows Insider preview build of Windows 10 available to download
Microsoft has made the latest version of its Windows 10 Technical Preview available to download by the participants of the Windows Insider program. The update introduces some of major features shown off during this week's Windows 10 event, with the Spartan browser and the Xbox One game streaming expected to arrive in Insider builds closer to launch.
Full upgrade to Windows 10 not available for Windows RT devices
Owners of the Microsoft Surface will not receive the full upgrade to Windows 10, but will still benefit from some updates, a report claims. While Microsoft will be making the next version of its operating system available to systems running Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, including the Surface Pro range, the Windows RT-based Surface will be missing out.
Windows 10 device intended to simplify conferencing, communications
Microsoft's Surface ecosystem didn't get left behind in today's Windows 10 event. Unveiled at the media event was the Microsoft Surface Hub, which is either a 55- or 84-inch 4K display, utilizing a custom Windows 10 version, featuring touch and stylus input with voice and gesture controls.
Seven-year project integrated into Windows 10, release not imminent
Microsoft pulled the veil off of a project that it claims has been running for years -- Microsoft Hologram. The project, consisting of a new Hololens headset, aims to integrate Microsoft Windows in both a virtual reality and augmented reality system. Additionally, the company announced that every Windows 10 device will support the system in some way, with the API on every device. As expected, details are scant.
Xbox One will stream gameplay to Windows 10 devices
Microsoft's gaming ambitions will involve a new app for Windows 10, among other items, Xbox chief Phil Spencer has revealed. The Xbox app will be available on every PC and tablet running Windows 10, providing not only the usual social features already offered to Xbox One users, but also the Game DVR video creation and sharing function.
At today's Microsoft Windows 10 event, Windows Phone Program chief Joe Belifiore officially revealed the refresh of Microsoft-supplied browsers, with the previously rumored Spartan browser effort. The new browser, named after the company's hero of the Halo series, includes web page annotation and sharing, full PDF integration into the browser, and a baked-in implementation of Microsoft's Cortana "Personal Digital Assistant" technology.
Free upgrade to Windows 10 offered to previous versions for one year after launch
The next iteration of Windows will be a free upgrade to a large number of existing Windows users, Microsoft revealed today at its media event. Owners of computers running Windows 7 or later will receive an upgrade to Windows 10 at no charge, in a move that is highly likely to bolster user numbers for the operating system shortly after launch.
Xiaomi launches compact Mi Box mini media streamer in China
Xiaomi has introduced a new compact media streamer in China. The Mi Box mini is a power adapter-sized device containing a quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A7 processor from MediaTek, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of storage, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a HDMI 1.4a output capable of showing 3D video at 1080p. While it offers DTS 2.0 and Dolby Digital Plus audio processing and has a Bluetooth remote control, it does not include any options to increase the storage or connect over Ethernet or USB. Shipping from January 27, the Mi Box mini is priced at 199 RMB ($32).
Budget Lumia 435, Lumia 532 have similar entry-level specifications
Microsoft has unveiled two Lumia smartphones destined for emerging markets. The Lumia 435 is claimed to be the company's "most affordable Lumia," complete with a four-inch 800x480 LCD screen, while the Lumia 532 is slightly more expensive -- and while it packs the same display, it switches out the 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor for a quad-core version.
Security patches for Windows 7 will continue until January 2020
Microsoft is ending its "mainstream support" for Windows 7 today. The January 13 end date for the support, across all versions of Windows 7, means that from tomorrow onwards Microsoft will not be offering free support for issues with the operating system, though the company will be offering chargeable "extended support" until January 14, 2020.
Google reveals Windows flaw despite Microsoft request to wait
Microsoft is asking for the online security community to better coordinate on the disclosure of vulnerabilities in code, after a publication of a flaw in Windows 8.1 by Google. The search company released details about the vulnerability in the operating system yesterday as part of Project Zero, two days before Microsoft was to offer up a fix in its well-known Patch Tuesday schedule.
Former Google engineers borrow heavily from the Microsoft aesthetic
Last year, three ex-Google engineers from the Search and Maps divisions got together and formed Jide Technology. Now, Jeremy Zhou, David Ko, and Ben Luk have debuted the Remix, a combination tablet and laptop, or what the company calls an "ultra-tablet." While it runs on a modified version of Android, the look and feel is very reminiscent of the Microsoft Surface -- giving the new product's title an ironic extra layer of meaning.
Create interactive photo stories on your iPhone
Microsoft must've had some serious but closeted iPhone and iPad fans chomping to make apps for Apple's devices among its personnel -- because now that the company has officially embraced Apple's devices, it is making some of the very best iOS software around. This app for communicating ideas -- Sway -- is also very far from the powerful-but-dry business software that we still associate the company with. You would sooner believe this came from the makers of Keynote than from PowerPoint.
Chinese powerhouse will strengthen anti-counterfeit measures on Tmall, Taobao
In an announcement today on its Alizila News site, the Alibaba Group revealed a plan to work together with Microsoft to crack down on counterfeit and pirated Microsoft products from being sold on Alibaba's Taobao and Tmall online stores in China. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which commits them to jointly conduct programs to alert customers to the dangers of using unlicensed software, and help them seek restitution if they were tricked into buying pirated products.
Web annotations, OneDrive integration, other new features planned
Last month, it was revealed that Windows 10 would include a new web browser code named "Spartan." Internet Explorer (IE) will still be included in the new operating system for legacy reasons, but it's expected that will begin offering Spartan as the default browser. New details are emerging regarding how the browser will work, with several major new features planned.
Nokia 215 connects over 2G, includes social network apps
Microsoft has launched another Nokia-branded phone, this time as a feature-phone device outside of the Lumia range. The Nokia 215 is a phone for emerging markets with relatively basic features compared to its Windows Phone-based line, but it doesn't stop Microsoft from claiming it is the "most-affordable Internet-ready entry-level phone" on the market.
News from the video game industry for the week of December 28
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer a look back at some of the big news from the video game world in the previous week. To roll in the New Year for Weekly Game Replay, we take a look at Steam's new concurrent user record, Xbox Live founder Boyd Multerer's departure from Microsoft, the Planetside 2 beta coming to the PlayStation 4 in January, Croteam's trap for video game pirates in The Talos Principle, and the new free games for PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live gold subscribers.
Microsoft retires original Kinect for Windows sensor
Microsoft is planning to phase out sales of the original Kinect for Windows sensor in 2015. In a blog post spotted by Slashgear, the availability of the improved version 2.0 sensor and SDK 2.0 has prompted the company to put to an end sales of the preceding model. Microsoft warns that business customers with "commitments to the original sensor" should get in contact as no more original sensors will be produced once the current stock sells out.
Spartan browser said to coexist in Windows 10 with Internet Explorer 11
Windows 10 may be accompanied by a new browser, a report claims. Microsoft is said to be working on a browser codenamed "Spartan," one which is said to be a lightweight browser that represents a fresh start from the current Internet Explorer browser, and may end up being a completely separate browser release rather than becoming Internet Explorer 12.