Powerful replacement for Apple's Email
It used to be that free trumped everything, especially when that free was something built by Apple or Microsoft. When literally every Mac or Windows user has a particular type of software provided right there with their computer, it used to be that rivals simply died. Now we seem more open to persuasion, or at least to considering alternatives, and for some people Postbox 4 is going to be so ideal they'll wish they bought it two versions ago.
Gaming news summary for May 17, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the twice-weekly post where MacNN and Electronista writes about some of the major stores in the wider world of gaming that developed over the last few days. In today's edition, Blizzard brings back Diablo's "Cow Level" secret, Ubisoft gives up on previous-generation consoles, and Candy Crush Saga will be heading to Windows 10.
Microsoft clarifies stance on free Windows 10 upgrade qualification
Microsoft will not be providing the free Windows 10 upgrade to owners of pirated operating systems, the software giant has clarified. A blog post by operating systems vice president Terry Myerson doubles back from earlier comments suggesting users of pirated software would receive the update, with the affected users now being required to pay for a full Windows license before receiving Windows 10.
Excellent update to a superb but not flawless tool
Here's the thing. FileMaker Pro is a quietly spectacular app: it's for creating databases but for three decades now it has also created careers. There are people whose entire working lives have been devoted to creating databases in FileMaker Pro and they do it for lone freelancers, corner shop businesses and even corporations. Now a new FileMaker Pro 14 has been released for the app's 30th anniversary and, with one caveat, it is hugely recommended. Check our full review to see what we liked, and what we didn't.
Amazon adds Prime Stations to Echo wireless speaker
Amazon has updated the Echo portable wireless speaker to work with Prime Stations. An email sent to Prime subscribers owning the device advises that the Alexa digital assistant can be commanded to play a personalized ad-free station from Prime Music. The verbal command "Alexa, play the Bruno Mars Prime Station" will start streaming the relevant station through the speaker, with "Alexa, thumbs up/thumbs down" rating the track for further personalization, and "Alexa, what song is this?" to receive more track details.
Comments suggest regular updates instead of milestone Windows releases in future
Windows 10 will be the "last" version of the operating system, a Microsoft developer evangelist has claimed. Speaking at the Ignite conference earlier this week, Jerry Nixon told attendees "Right now we're releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we're all still working on Windows 10," suggesting Microsoft will be taking an alternative path to upgrading the operating system.
Microsoft ends upgrades of Windows Media Center for next operating system
Windows Media Center will not form part of the upcoming release of Windows 10. Microsoft has no intentions of bringing the software over into its latest operating system, meaning that users who have it running on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will no longer be able to access it if they decide to accept the company's offer of a free upgrade to Windows 10.
Free version of Windows development suite heads to other platforms
Microsoft is bringing its Visual Studio suite to more platforms, the company announced at its Build conference keynote today. Visual Studio Code is a lightweight version of the long-standing code editing suite, with the new cross-platform version being made available in preview not only for Windows, but also OS X and Linux systems, and as a free download to developers.
App previews for Music, Video available to download in Windows 10 Technical Preview
Microsoft has released preview versions of two universal apps that will ship along with Windows 10, providing access to the user's media. The new Music and Video apps are available to download from the Windows Store beta within the Windows 10 Technical Preview, with Microsoft notably dropping the Xbox branding from the front of both app names.
Partition stitching addition widens reach of Windows 10 phone preview
Microsoft is making the technical preview of Windows 10 for smartphones available to more devices, the software giant has advised. Initially available to a small number of Lumia smartphones, the technical preview will be installable on a wider array of hardware, with over 30 Lumia devices on a preliminary list set to receive the software in the next preview release.
Microsoft dodges questions about free versions to pirates, Parallels users
Microsoft has made a passing attempt to clarify some of its policy on free upgrades to Windows 10. In an interview, senior director of product marketing at Microsoft Aaron Woodman detailed what the company has decided about the offering -- and an alarming amount of decisions seem to have not been made yet about licensing the OS.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some claim that installation was without user permission
BitTorrent client µtorrent is plaguing its users by installing a virtual currency miner alongside its latest revision. While the company denies tricking users into installation, the torrent client does come bundled with "Epic Scale," a Windows application that is used to mine Litecoin. Some users claim to have discovered it only after noticing significant processor load following installation of the client.
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.
Download and keep YouTube videos with this simple app
The newly-updated Airy - YouTube Downloader for Mac does what almost every word in its title says. It downloads YouTube videos, it runs on a Mac. Run this, grab a YouTube video, and save it to your Mac to watch later. It's so simple, you'll be surprised YouTube itself doesn't come with this functionality.
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.
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.
HP Pro Slate 12, 8 include ultrasound-based Duet Pen stylus input
HP added a large number of tablets to its arsenal, running on Android and Windows. The main launches from the collection are two Android tablets, with the Pro Slate 12 and the Pro Slate 8 both equipped with the Duet Pen, an accessory using Qualcomm's ultrasound technology that lets the user write anywhere nearby and have the text appearing on the tablet automatically.
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).
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.
Exceptional algorithms improve nearly any picture with little assistance
Unless you are a supremely-gifted photographer with a bucketful of top camera gear, you may often find yourself wishing a shot you had taken could be sharper, clearer, or otherwise "better," and are always looking for an app that can deliver this magic to your pictures consistently. Honest to gosh, we think we've found it -- or at least, pretty darn close. The program is called Perfectly Clear by Athentech, it's available as a mobile app or a plug-in for Photoshop or Lightroom, and -- we kid you not -- it's like Windex for most photos.
China-manufactured device echoes Apple design clues, brings Bay Trail
Knockoffs of popular products aren't uncommon in overseas markets, but its not often that a knockoff has altered functionality in a way that looks good, at least on paper. Chinese company Onda has released the V919 3G Air -- a clear iPad Air design clone, but one that runs both Android and full Windows 8.1 on a single device rather than iOS -- an ability that was promised at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show by many Android or Windows tablet manufacturers, but which never materialized.
Group and compress files for easy sending and storage
Curiously, Stuffit Deluxe was the king of compression -- or at least serious monarchy -- back when our files were always minuscule anyway. It was when hard disks were measured in megabytes instead of terabytes, and a large file was one that filled a floppy disk. Now that we routinely fling around gigabytes of files and complain when we can't just email a feature film to someone, Stuffit Deluxe could be making a comeback with the new version 16.
Diminutive scanner purports to allow computer-free scanning
Sometimes, people need to scan things, but having a computer at hand to do so isn't exactly feasible. Maybe it's the home of a relative that lives on the outskirts of civilization with no Internet, looking to organize family photos. Maybe it's an office filing room that's too small to set up shop. Maybe it's the cabin of an airplane, and a traveler just wants to scan a page from Skymall. In this situation, the solution is generally to move items that need to be scanned to a location that has a scanner. With DoxieGo by Apparent, users don't have to worry about transportation; they can just throw the scanner in their bag and go. But can this ultra-portable scanner really make life that much easier? Read our review and find out.
Leaked screenshot suggests LG G2 to gain Android Lollipop soon
The Android Lollipop upgrade may reach the LG G2, if a leaked screenshot is to be believed. According to TuttoAndroid, the screenshot is said to show the G2 as running Android 5.0.1, with part of the screenshot showing a new, flatter user interface in line with Material Design principles. No date for the update has been provided -- but if the image is genuine, it could start reaching phones as early as January next year.
Platforms include iOS, Apple TV, Android, Windows
DirecTV has announced a partnership with Fox Networks, giving subscribers to the satellite-based TV service access to all the content in the Fox Now, FXNow, and Nat Geo TV apps on multiple platforms. This includes iOS, Apple TV, Android, and Windows devices. In effect, the change means that the apps have simply added DirecTV as a service authentication option, joining other TV providers such as cable operators.
Real-time simulation/strategy game allows micro-management of resources
War games may have originated from the need to boost military logistics and planning, but they have since become popular with civilian gamers. Risk and Chess are two popular war games most people are familiar with, as are Civilization and Hearts of Iron. How does newcomer Supreme Ruler Ultimate, by Battlegoat Studios, stack up to the classics?
Thirty percent of tech preview testers are 'highly active,' says company
Back in October, Microsoft launched the "Windows 10 Insider program, "where PC experts and IT Pros can get access to a technical preview of Windows 10 for desktops and laptops." As of December 17, 1.5 million users have joined the program, Microsoft has announced. In the December update for the forthcoming OS version, Microsoft's Gabe Aul said roughly 30 percent of Insiders, or 450,000 users, are "highly active" in the program.
Library syncing software for iTunes packed with features at a great value
Apple's iTunes media player has been around since 2001 -- meaning that for many users, it's likely that their library has traversed multiple system upgrades, duplicating and splintering across a variety of drives and mobile devices along the way. For this, there is SuperSync, an app designed to provide access to all your music in one location, allow libraries to be accessed via the Internet, and organize multiple music libraries as to stay organized. Aimed at DJs, avid music collectors, and anyone with multiple libraries, SuperSync aims to get all your tracks in a row. Pricing is organized by license packs, starting at $23 for 2 computers. We took a look at SuperSync for ourselves, and took some of its features for a test run.
Quick movie editor makes it easy to send video to social media
Try as you might, you're not going to revolutionize how video is edited: whatever application you're using, the process has been roughly the same since we ditched celluloid and razor blades. Equally, you're not likely to easily replace Apple's iMovie for ease of use, nor Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X for high-end professionals. Movavi Video Editor, an editor for Windows that has just made the jump to OS X, definitely aims at being very simple to use -- but it's also intended for the ever-growing number of us who just want to quickly get video out to people.
Arcadia project proposes to stream games from cloud servers to Windows PCs
Microsoft is allegedly experimenting with streaming apps and games to Windows machines. An internal team is said to be working on "Arcadia," a codenamed project which would let software to run from Microsoft's Azure cloud services rather than on a local machine, streaming the app or game to PC users with lower-than-average specifications.
Changes in appearance, new apps shown in latest Windows 10 build
More leaks for Windows 10 have surfaced, ahead of an event planned to show off the Microsoft operating system on January 21st. The latest leak of build 9901 includes a more refined design for the Cortana virtual assistant than in previous reports, with the changes accompanied by a number of other tweaks and small changes to the Windows interface.
Windows 7 TLS, SSL implementation fix breaks driver installations
This week's Microsoft "Patch Tuesday," the regular scheduled day for updates and bug fixes from the Redmond giant, hit a few snags. While one problematic patch to Exchange 2013 has already been retracted and re-issued, a second patch -- this one addressing SSL and TLS authentication -- has rendered many Windows Update drivers, including video card drivers from Nvidia and AMD, uninstallable on Windows 7.
Bitcoin payments into Microsoft Account performed by BitPay
Microsoft is embracing Bitcoin, by allowing users of its services to pay using the cryptocurrency. US customers are able to add funds to their Microsoft Account using a Bitcoin wallet, which can then be used to may payments in the Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox stores, as well as paying for subscriptions for Xbox Live and Xbox Music.
Desktop version of Cortana has similar functionality to Windows Phone version
The rumored desktop version of Microsoft's virtual assistant has allegedly resurfaced in video. A clip appears to show Cortana being used on a new build of Windows 10, and though some aspects are apparently non-functional, the video seemingly demonstrates how it could be used to contact other people, create appointments, and handle reminders.
Get the Hot Pockets, there's a new Sid Meier's Civilization title out
Civilization isn't the first strategy series in video gaming, but it is probably the most enduring. Since the series' introduction in 1991, countless players have been stormed by barbarians, built the pyramids, and been nuked into oblivion (because of a coding bug) by the Indians. This year, the Firaxis-developed series launched a sequel to both Civilization V and the well-regarded Alpha Centauri in the form of Civilization: Beyond Earth available on OS X, Windows, and Linux. How many hours of your life will this one take?
Report claims press event for launch taking place after CES
Microsoft may present what the final consumer version of Windows 10 will look like in late January, a report claims. The software giant is said to be holding an event towards the end of the month to showcase the consumer preview edition of the operating system, within weeks of the company presenting to attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas.
Charming roguelike dungeon-clearing game brings a touch of Finnish legend to the genre
Because of the accessibility of game design tools, independently-produced games are springing up on every platform. There's certainly no shortage of dungeon crawlers, roguelikes, or turn-based strategy games today. That doesn't mean, though, that Sproggiwood, by Freehold Games, should be overlooked. This turn-based roguelike has the player explore dungeons inspired by Finnish mythology, bringing peace to the land of Sprog.
Bite-sized strategy title makes users breach and clear bad guys' lairs
Frequently, players' allegiances to strategy games fall in one of two categories: either real-time strategies or tactical turn-based play. But what if there was a game that aims to please both sides? Potentially, now there is. Door Kickers, by KillHouse Games, is a real-time strategy game that gives players the ability to undergo tactical interventions while leading their own SWAT team. While the game itself is in fact a real-time strategy, the tactical elements and the ability to pause are likely to please gamers who enjoy more tactical play.
All versions of Windows in last 19 years affected by Secure Channel bug
A 19-year-old vulnerability has been discovered, affecting every version of Windows dating back to Windows 95. The issue, discovered in May by IBM researchers, allowed for attackers to remotely execute code when a specific webpage is visited with Internet Explorer, bypassing a number of protection mechanisms in the operating systems.
Tablet follows on the 10-inch model announced early October, adds QHD display
Lenovo unveiled another addition to the Yoga line of devices, trumpeting the arrival of a larger version of the Yoga Tablet 2. The new Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows jumps up in size with the addition of a 13.3-inch quad HD display, marking a large bump from the full HD 10-inch model Lenovo announced at the beginning of October. Like other devices in the Yoga line, the 13-inch Yoga Tablet 2 features four modes for use, including stand, tilt, hold, and a new mode called hang.