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Microsoft has announced the availability of "Microsoft Band," a wearable device that goes on the wrist. It's designed to do health- and fitness-related tasks, like monitoring heart rate and how well a wearer sleeps, and its on-board GPS lets users map their run/bike routes. The company says Band plays nicely with iOS and Android devices in addition to Windows phones. It also has full support for viewing phone notifications and calendar alerts, and a built-in microphone enables queries through the Cortana personal assistant software. The display is rectangular, 11mm x 33mm (0.43" x 1.3"), and has a resolution of 320x106. They claim a battery life of 48 hours, with a charge time of 1.5 hours or less. The device costs $200.
128 comments | yesterday
theodp writes Techcrunch reports that Mark Zuckerberg has donated $500K to expand the Hour of Code campaign, which aims to reach 100 million students this year with its learn-to-code tutorials, including its top-featured tutorial starring Zuckerberg (video). Techcrunch adds that Zuckerberg's donation will be matched by fellow tutorial team teacher Bill Gates (video), Microsoft, Reid Hoffman, Salesforce, Google, and others. Zuck and Gates appear to have a sizable captive audience — a Code.org District Partnership Model brochure on the code-or-no-HS-diploma-for-you Chicago Public Schools' website calls for partner districts to "hold a district-wide Hour of Code event each year" for three years.
24 comments | yesterday
daten writes A coalition of security companies has hit a sophisticated hacking group in China with a heavy blow. The effort is detailed in a report released today by Novetta. The coalition, which calls itself Operation SMN, detected and cleaned up malicious code on 43,000 computers worldwide that were targeted by Axiom, an incredibly sophisticated organization that has been stealing intellectual property for more than six years. The group united as part of Microsoft's Coordinated Malware Eradication (CME) campaign against Hikit (a.k.a. Hikiti), the custom malware often used by Axiom to burrow into organizations, exfiltrate data, and evade detection, sometimes for years.
63 comments | 2 days ago
wiredmikey writes: The White House's unclassified computer network was recently breached by intruders, a U.S. official said Tuesday. While the White House has not said so, The Washington Post reported that the Russian government was thought to be behind the act. Several recent reports have linked Russia to cyber attacks, including a report from FireEye on Tuesday that linked Russia back to an espionage campaign dating back to 2007. Earlier this month, iSight Partners revealed that a threat group allegedly linked with the Russian government had been leveraging a Microsoft Windows zero-day vulnerability to target NATO, the European Union, and various private energy and telecommunications organizations in Europe. The group has been dubbed the "Sandworm Team" and it has been using weaponized PowerPoint files in its recent attacks. Trend Micro believes the Sandworm team also has their eyes set on compromising SCADA-based systems.
98 comments | 2 days ago
aojensen writes: ExtremeTech reports that the most recent build of Windows 10 Technical Preview shows that Windows is finally getting a package manager. The package manager is built for the PowerShell command line based on OneGet. OneGet is a command line utility for PowerShell very similar to classic Linux utilities such as apt-get and yum, which enable administrators and power users comfortable with the command line to install software packages without the need for a graphical installer. ExtremeTech emphasizes that "you can open up PowerShell and use OneGet to install thousands of applications with commands such as Find-Package VLC and Install-Package Firefox." It's a missing feature Linux advocates have long used to argue against Windows in terms of automation and scale. The package manage is open to any software repository and is based on the Chocolatey format for defining package repositories."
229 comments | 2 days ago
mrspoonsi sends news that a group of major tech companies has combined to donate $750 million worth of gadgets and services to students in 114 schools across the U.S. Apple is sending out $100 million worth of iPads, MacBooks, and other products. O'Reilly Media is making $100 million worth of educational content available for free. Microsoft and Autodesk are discounting software, while Sprint and AT&T are offering free wireless service. This is part of the ConnectED Initiative, a project announced by the Obama Administration last year to bring modern technology to K-12 classrooms. The FCC has also earmarked $2 billion to improve internet connectivity in schools and libraries over the next two years. Obama also plans to seek funding for training teachers to utilize this infusion of technology.
141 comments | 3 days ago
colinneagle writes This Friday is Halloween, but if you try to buy a PC with Windows 7 pre-loaded after that, you're going to get a rock instead of a treat. Microsoft will stop selling Windows 7 licenses to OEMs after this Friday and you will only be able to buy a machine with Windows 8.1. The good news is that business/enterprise customers will still be able to order PCs 'downgraded' to Windows 7 Professional. Microsoft has not set an end date for when it will cut off Windows 7 Professional to OEMs, but it will likely be a while. This all fits in with typical Microsoft timing. Microsoft usually pulls OEM supply of an OS a year after it removes it from retail. Microsoft cut off the retail supply of Windows 7 in October of last year, although some retailers still have some remaining stock left. If the analytics from Steam are any indicator, Windows 8 is slowly working its way into the American public, but mostly as a Windows XP replacement. Windows 7, both 32-bit and 64-bit, account for 59% of their user base. Windows 8 and 8.1 account for 28%, while XP has dwindled to 4%.
241 comments | 3 days ago
SmartAboutThings writes According to some reports from the industry, Microsoft is working on a version of its software for servers that run on chips based on ARM Holdings's technology. Windows Server now runs on Intel hardware, but it seems that Redmond wants to diversify its strategy. An ARM-based version of Windows Server could help challenge Intel's dominance and make a place for ARM in the server market, not only in mobile chips. According to the article, though, Microsoft "hasn’t yet decided whether to make the software commercially available."
112 comments | 3 days ago
First time accepted submitter FlyHelicopters writes "Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, and others have been competing to become your favorite place to store stuff in the cloud. Just this past June, Microsoft upgraded Office 365 users from 25GB to 1TB, now they are upping the ante with unlimited OneDrive storage. There remains a single file size limit of 10GB per file, it is not clear if that limit will be removed with this upgrade.
144 comments | 4 days ago
An anonymous reader writes Microsoft today announced it is backing the Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) technology and will be supporting the ORTC API in Internet Explorer. Put another way, the company is finally throwing its weight behind the broader industry trend of bringing voice and video calling to the browser without the need for plugins. Both Google and Mozilla are way ahead of Microsoft in this area, both in terms of adding WebRTC features to their respective browsers and in terms of building plugin-free calling services that rely on the technology. In short, Skype is under threat, and Microsoft has finally decided to opt for an "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" strategy.
66 comments | 4 days ago
McGruber (1417641) writes "According to a report published by The Financial Times (paywalled), ex-Microsoft CEO Billionaire Steve Ballmer will be able to write off about a billion dollars of his basketball team's purchase price from the taxable income he makes over the next 15 years. "Under an exception in US law, buyers of sports franchises can use an accounting treatment known as goodwill against their other taxable income. This feature is commonly used by tax specialists to structure deals for sports teams. Goodwill is the difference between the purchase price of an asset and the actual cash and other fixed assets belonging to the team."
255 comments | 4 days ago
An anonymous reader writes: In a post at the Free Software Foundation, lawyer Marco Ciurcina reports that the Italian Supreme Court has ruled the practice of forcing users to pay for a Windows license when they buy a new PC is illegal. Manufacturers in Italy are now legally obligated to refund that money if a buyer wants to put GNU/Linux or another free OS on the computer. Ciurcina says, "The focus of the Court's reasoning is that the sale of a PC with software preinstalled is not like the sale of a car with its components (the 4 wheels, the engine, etc.) that therefore are sold jointly. Buying a computer with preinstalled software, the user is required to conclude two different contracts: the first, when he buys the computer; the second, when he turns on the computer for the first time and he is required to accept or not the license terms of the preinstalled software. Therefore, if the user does not accept the software license, he has the right to keep the computer and install free software without having to pay the 'Microsoft tax.'"
350 comments | about a week ago
theodp writes According to Steve Ballmer, Amazon.com is not a real business. "They make no money," Ballmer said on the Charlie Rose Show. "In my world, you're not a real business until you make some money. I have a hard time with businesses that don't make money at some point." Ballmer's comments come as Amazon posted a $437 million loss for the third quarter, disappointing Wall Street. "If you are worth $150 billion," Ballmer added, "eventually somebody thinks you're going to make $15 billion pre-tax. They make about zero, and there's a big gap between zero and 15." Fired-up as ever, LA Clippers owner Ballmer's diss comes after fellow NBA owner Mark Cuban similarly slammed IBM, saying Big Blue is no longer a tech company (Robert X. Cringely seems to concur). "Today, they [IBM] specialize in financial engineering," Cuban told CNBC after IBM posted another disappointing quarter. "They're no longer a tech company, they are an amalgamation of different companies that they are trying to arb[itrage] on Wall Street, and I'm not a fan of that at all."
276 comments | about a week ago
SmartAboutThings writes Microsoft has recently published its Q1 fiscal 2015 earnings report, disclosing that it has made $4.5 billion in net income on $23.20 billion in revenue. According to the report, revenue has increased by $4.67 billion, compared to $18.53 billion from the same period last year. However, net income has decreased 14 percent compared to last year's $5.24 billion mainly because of the $1.14 billion cost associated with the integration and restructuring expenses related to the Nokia acquisition.
But what's finally good news for the company is that the Surface gross margin was positive this quarter, which means the company finally starts making money on Surface sales. Microsoft didn't yet reveal Surface sales, but we know that Surface revenue was $908 million this quarter, up a massive 127 percent from the $400 million this time last year. However, if we assume that the average spent amount on the purchase of this year's Surface Pro 3 was around $1000, then we have less than 1 million units sold, which isn't that impressive, but it's a good start.
117 comments | about a week ago
New submitter weilawei writes: Last night, FTDI, a Scottish manufacturer of USB-to-serial ICs, posted a response to the ongoing debacle over its allegedly intentional bricking of competitors' chips. In their statement, FTDI CEO Fred Dart said, "The recently release driver release has now been removed from Windows Update so that on-the-fly updating cannot occur. The driver is in the process of being updated and will be released next week. This will still uphold our stance against devices that are not genuine, but do so in a non-invasive way that means that there is no risk of end user's hardware being directly affected." This may have resulted from a discussion with Microsoft engineers about the implications of distributing potentially malicious driver software.
If you design hardware, what's your stance on this? Will you continue to integrate FTDI chips into your products? What alternatives are available to replace their functionality?
571 comments | about a week ago
smaxp writes In 2007, Sony's supply chain lessons, the network effect from the shift to Intel architecture, and a better OS X for developers combined to renew the Mac's growth. The network effects of the Microsoft Wintel ecosystem that Rappaport explained 20 years ago in the Harvard Business Review are no longer a big advantage. By turning itself into a premium PC company with a proprietary OS, Apple has taken the best of PC ecosystem, but avoided taking on the disadvantages.
296 comments | about a week ago
alphadogg writes It's been a bit over a month since Microsoft shuttered its Microsoft Research lab in Silicon Valley as part of the company's broader restructuring that will include 18,000 layoffs. This week, Harry Shum, Microsoft EVP of Technology & Research, posted what he termed an "open letter to the academic research community" on the company's research blog. In the post, Shum is suitably contrite about the painful job cut decisions that were made in closing the lab, which opened in 2001. He also stresses that Microsoft will continue to invest in and value "fundamental research".
55 comments | about a week ago
An anonymous reader writes Microsoft today launched a new section on its website: The Microsoft Garage is designed to give the public early access to various projects the company is testing right now. The team is kicking off with a total of 16 free consumer-facing apps, spanning Android, Android Wear, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows, and even the Xbox One. Microsoft Garage is still going to be everything it has been so far, but Microsoft has simply decided it's time for the public to get involved too: You can now test the wild projects the company's employees dream up.
72 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes Now that its file synchronization tool has received a few updates, BitTorrent is going on the offensive against cloud-based storage services by showing off just how fast BitTorrent Sync can be. More specifically, the company conducted a test that shows Sync destroys Google Drive, Microsoft's OneDrive, and Dropbox. The company transferred a 1.36 GB MP4 video clip between two Apple MacBook Pros using two Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapters, the Time.gov site as a real-time clock, and the Internet connection at its headquarters (1 Gbps up/down). The timer started when the file transfer was initiated and then stopped once the file was fully synced and downloaded onto the receiving machine. Sync performed 8x faster than Google Drive, 11x faster than OneDrive, and 16x faster than Dropbox.
124 comments | about two weeks ago
jones_supa writes In Windows 8, there was an arrangement of two settings applications: the Control Panel for the desktop and the PC Settings app in the Modern UI side. With Windows 10, having the two different applications has started to look even more awkward, which has been voiced loud and clear in the feedback too. Thus, the work at Microsoft to unify the settings programs has begun. The traditional Control Panel is being transformed to something temporarily called "zPC Settings" (sic), which is a Modern UI app that melts together the current two settings applications.
347 comments | about two weeks ago