Category: Software

Microsoft creates Home Hub

1953-kitchenmaid-blue-kitchen-the-television-kitchen-cropped.0Software king of the world Microsoft has looked at the success of Amazon’s Echo and Google Home and decided “I want some of that.”

However, it is looking like Vole’s competitor to Amazon’s smart speaker Echo and Google Home is software and will be centred around the home PC.

Home Hub is a software update for Windows 10 that will make the Windows PC a bit more like a smart speaker.

Microsoft’s smart digital assistant Cortana can already answer your queries, even if the PC’s screen is locked. The Home Hub would add a special app with features such as calendar appointments, sticky notes and shopping lists.

A Home Hub-enabled PC might have a Welcome Screen, a full-screen app that displays all these, like a virtual fridge door.

Cortana would get more powerful on Home Hub and could  control smart home devices, such as lights and locks.

It will turn any Windows 10 device into the centre of a smart home and third-party manufacturers will be able to build devices that work with Home Hub.

It is expected that Microsoft will release the Home Hub next year. The advantage will be that most people still have a PC somewhere in their house.

Microsoft gives its most successful program to Android and iOS

ANDROIDSoftware giant Microsoft has shared its most successful program to Android and iOS users.

Since the 90s there has been one program which has seen heavy use by Windows customers –  Solitaire.  It has been responsible for much wasted time and has historically been viewed as bad for business.  However moves to take it out of Windows have always been in vain and it seems it will be part of the Windows furniture for future decades.

But fewer are sitting in front of large desktop computers at home and Vole has not done so well at getting into the mobile market, so it has now sent its Solitaire Collection to Android and iOS stores.

Paul Jensen, Studio Manager of Microsoft Casual Games said Microsoft Solitaire was one of the most-played games of all time on Windows for more than 25 years.

“Microsoft Solitaire Collection, has reached more than 119 million unique players in the last four years alone. Now, those on iPhone, iPad and Android devices can play the popular card game for free.”

You can download Microsoft Solitaire Collection from the App Store, Google Play, and Windows Store and be run over while playing.

Open source champion mulls return to Microsoft

voleAfter a decade of being the Open Saucy champion of the world, Munich  is now considering going back to Vole’s loving arms.

For ages the City of Munich has been the poster child for Linux and open office, but now the authority is considering proposals to make Windows 10 and Microsoft Office available across the council.

Starting in 2004, the council moved about 15,000 staff from using Windows and Office to LiMux—a custom version of the Ubuntu desktop OS—and other open-source software. At the time, Munich was one of the largest organizations to reject Windows. It was so serious that the shy and retiring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer flew to Munich to have a quiet word with the mayor.

Now a report commissioned by current mayor Dieter Reiter has outlined a project to make Windows 10 and Microsoft Office available to all departments, and give staff the choice about whether to use Windows or LiMux.

If Windows subsequently became a popular choice, the report says “it could be investigated whether it makes economic sense to continue using Linux as a client operating system”.

This is all part of wider €18.9 million architecture and client’ project. Munich city council take on two new “Windows experts”, who would help develop a “powerful” new Windows client for use by staff.

The council has previously said that the bulk of users had not taken issue with the move to LiMux and free software. However, in correspondence with the council, there is support from various departments for replacing LiMux and LibreOffice with Windows and Office.

The city’s human resources department (POR) hates LiMux, saying that since 2006 when the POR started using LiMux and OpenOffice, later switching to LibreOffice, that “the efficiency and productivity of the POR-supported workplaces has decreased noticeably” – referencing crashes, display and printing errors.

“Even 10 years after the start of the LiMuX migration, the users and users of the POR are dissatisfied. LiMux and LibreOffice are “far behind the current technical possibilities of established standard solutions”.

HR says Munich “is still dependent on Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, etc., since many requirements can only be met by the products of these manufacturers”. Aspects of these proprietary systems are incompatible with LiMux, according to POR, citing the council’s SAP security system, and errors in how PDFs are displayed by the open-source viewing software. Another department describes the use of Windows as being “mandatory in many areas of the city of Munich, whereas Limux clients are not”.

Even if the council were to accept the report’s suggestion that Windows be made available across the council and LiMux eventually dropped, no change would be made immediately. Under architecture and client project, the consultant’s report recommends that LiMux continues to be improved, as both LiMux and Windows continue to be used side-by-side at Munich for at least the next couple of years.

Samsung to release its own artifical intelligence helper

mybrainhurtsSamsung is to launch an artificial intelligence digital assistant service for its upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone.

It had been expected. Samsung recently bought Viv Labs, a firm run by a co-creator of Apple Siri voice assistant. Samsung plans to integrate the outfit’s AI platform, called Viv, into the Galaxy smartphones and expand voice-assistant services to home appliances and wearable technology devices.

Samsung wants its Galaxy S8 to help revive smartphone momentum after scrapping the fire-prone Galaxy Note 7. Investors and analysts say the Galaxy S8 must be a strong device for Samsung to win back customers and revive earnings momentum.

Samsung did not comment on what types of services would be offered through the AI assistant that will be launched on the Galaxy S8, which is expected to go on sale early next year. It said the AI assistant would allow customers to easily use third-party services.

Samsung Executive Vice President Rhee Injong said that developers can attach and upload services to Samsung’s AI.

“Even if Samsung doesn’t do anything on its own, the more services that get attached the smarter this agent will get, learn more new services and provide them to end-users with ease,” he said.

Google is widely considered to be the leader in AI, but Amazon, Microsoft and Apple have offerings which are include voice-powered digital assistants.

Microsoft launches messaging system

138176Software king of the world, Microsoft has launched its own messaging system for businesses.

Dubbed Microsoft Teams the product will be in direct competition with fast-growing startup Slack and Facebook’s Workplace product.

It will all be part of Vole’s cloudy Office 365 services which has more than 85 million monthly active commercial users.

Slack has sign ups from CBS, BuzzFeed, universities and the US government, had 4 million daily active users in October so if Microsoft can use its Office base effectively then Teams might clean the outfit’s clock.

Slack took out a full-page ad in the New York Times on Wednesday, addressing the entry of Microsoft Teams saying that it was “genuinely excited to have some competition.” Clearly it did not consider Facebook’s effort as competition.

Microsoft said a preview of Teams will be available to Office 365 commercial customers with enterprise or business plans.

Canadian coppers start spying on journalists

mountiemaintainThe Canadian press is rather miffed that one of its number is being spied upon by Montreal’s coppers.

Patrick Lagacé’s iPhone was tracked by Montreal police even though many people believe that the Apple’s flagship phone is safe.

La Presse reported Monday at least 24 surveillance warrants were issued for this year at the request of the police special investigations unit. That section looks into crime within the police force.

Lagacé’s doings were tracked using the GPS chip in his iPhone. The warrants used to obtain the identities of everyone he spoke to or exchanged text messages with during that time.

Tom Henheffer, executive director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression said that the new powers that the police have to spy on Canadians were absolutely horrifying.

“They’re basically limitless, there’s very little oversight, and when that happens the system will be ripe for abuse, and this is just an example of how it’s abused. What’s even more worrying about it is the fact that this is a justice of the peace who actually authorised this.”

Lagacé thinks he was put under police surveillance as part of an ‘attempt to intimidate’. It’s part of a “culture shift” among law enforcement and judges that began with the passing of Bill C-51 under the previous Conservative government, he said. ​

The idea is to scare the hacks into turning over their secret sauce recipes.  Apparently it is getting worse. In September, the Sûreté du Québec seized Journal de Montréal reporter Michael Nguyen’s computer because they believed he illegally obtained information cited in a story he wrote.

Meanwhile the Mounties are trying to get a reporter from Vice News to hand over background materials used for stories on a suspected terrorist and spied on two hacks for more than a week without any authorisation.

The government has promised to change “problematic” parts of bill C-51 in the 2015 election, but have not done anything yet.

Lagacé said police told him they obtained the court-authorised warrants because they believed the target of one of their investigations was feeding him information. However, the story was not broken by Lagacé but one of his rivals.  This makes him think that the investigation was a thinly veiled attempt to learn the identity of his sources within the police department.

Microsoft bins Windows 7 and 8.1

Windows 10Software King of the World Microsoft has consigned its Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to silicon heaven.

Vole stopped providing copies of Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8.1 licences to OEMs which means that you should not be able to find one in the shops.

Two years ago, Microsoft stopped selling Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, and Windows 7 Ultimate licenses to OEMs. With Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8.1 out of the picture Windows 10 is the only remaining option.  Unless you want Linux.

The Windows Lifecycle chart for sales doesn’t have an end date for Windows 10, since that operating system doesn’t have a successor.

Mainstream Support for Windows 7 ended on January 13, 2015 while Mainstream Support for Windows 8.1 will end on January 9, 2018.  In theory Windows 10 will still get it until October 13, 2020.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update, released in August 2016 and a new version, the Windows 10 Creators Update, is slated to arrive in “early 2017”.

Linux has had a huge bug for nine years

bugA huge bug has been sitting in the Linux kernel for nearly nine years which gives untrusted users unfettered root access and no one noticed.

Now it seems the hole is under active exploit, according to researchers who are advising users to install a patch as soon as possible.

Dan Rosenberg, a senior researcher at Azimuth Security, told Ars Technica that it was the most serious Linux local privilege escalation ever.

The underlying bug was patched this week by the maintainers of the official Linux kernel and downstream distributors are in the process of releasing updates that incorporate the fix. Red Hat has classified the vulnerability as “important”.

Attacks exploiting this specific vulnerability were found by Linux developer Phil Oester who discovered it using an HTTP packet capture.

It took him less than five seconds to get total control.

Microsoft lifts its kimono for Brazilian conspiracy nuts

brazilSoftware king of the world Microsoft is going to show its source code to the Brazilian government to re-assure conspiracy nuts that it has no back doors which allow US spooks to spy on people.

Vole opened a centre in Brazil where officials can inspect its programming code, in an attempt to allay suspicions in the region that its software programs are vulnerable to spying.

It is the fourth ‘Transparency Centre’ that Vole has established and it is only a little bit transparent. It has reinforced walls and the sort of strict security settings a bank would be proud of.

Experts from Latin American and Caribbean governments can see the source code of its products.

To be fair, Edward Snowden revealed that the United States had been spying on Brazilian communications including those of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Microsoft prevents anyone from copying the massive amount of coding on display – as much as 50 million lines for its email and server products. Viewers inspect copies of source code on computers connected only to local servers and cut off from the internet. The copies are later deleted.

Viewers can use software tools to examine the code, Microsoft said, but it was not immediately clear whether experts would be able to run deep code analysis necessary to uncover back doors or other bugs.

 

Microsoft flicks off lightswitch

il_fullxfull.781035219_7evySoftware King of the World Microsoft has flicked off its LightSwitch technology.

For those who came in late, Visual Studio LightSwitch is a simplified self-service development tool that lets you build business applications quickly and easily for the desktop and cloud.

Vole always pitched it as a simplified development environment which allowed punters to focus on the business logic instead of the application infrastructure.

According to a SpokesVole, LightSwitch was to supposed to accelerate the development of line-of-business apps, but the landscape has changed significantly since it was released. Mobile and cloud had churned out more connected and relevant choices for business app development.

Visual Studio 2015 is the last release of Visual Studio that includes the LightSwitch tooling and as expected Microsoft will continue to support users with existing LightSwitch apps as per the Microsoft Support Lifecycle.

Microsoft is no longer recommending LightSwitch for developing new apps, instead, they are pointing customers towards PowerApps. PowerApps is also a modern solution to build custom business applications that enables increased productivity with business apps that are easily created, shared and managed.