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Microsoft

Slashdot Asks: Free Upgrade To Windows 10 Ends Today: What's Your Thought On This? 266

Exactly one year ago, Microsoft released Windows 10 to the general public. The latest version of company's desktop operating system brought with it Cortana, and Windows Hello among other features. While users have lauded Windows 10 for performance improvements, the Redmond-based company's aggressive upgrade tactics have spoiled the experience for many. Whether it was installing Windows 10 on computers without users' consent, or eating up tons of bandwidth for users who couldn't afford it, or whether it was deceptive dialog boxes, Microsoft definitely deserves a lot of blame -- and rightfully, a bunch of lawsuits. But many of these things, hopefully, will end today -- July 29, 2016 (or to be exact, Saturday morning 5:59am EDT / 2:59am PDT) Today is officially the last day when eligible Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers could be upgraded to Windows 10 for free of charge. After this, an upgrade to Windows 10 will set you back by at least $119.
We asked you a couple of weeks ago whether or not would you recommend someone to update their computer to Windows 10, and the vast majority of you insisted against it. What's your thought on this now? Those who opt out of updating to Windows 10 will also miss the Anniversary Update -- and its features -- which Microsoft plans to release on August 2 for free of charge.
Businesses

Microsoft To Lay Off Another 2,850 People In the Next 12 Months (businessinsider.com) 149

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Business Insider: Microsoft is planning to lay off 2,850 more employees in the next 12 months or so, according to Microsoft's full 10-K report it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Part of the document reads: "In addition to the elimination of 1,850 positions that were announced in May 2016, approximately 2,850 roles globally will be reduced during the year as an extension of the earlier plan, and these actions are expected to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2017." Business Insider reports: "The first 1,850 layoffs mentioned here were mainly from Microsoft's struggling smartphone business, including 1,350 employees in Finland working at what was once Nokia world headquarters. These layoffs also included people in Microsoft's salesforce, which was recently reorganized and saw the departure of COO Kevin Turner. In total, Microsoft laid off 7,400 employees in its last fiscal year, which ended on June 30th, 2016. The new layoffs are a continuation of the same plan, and include the sales group as well as others. About 900 people affected by the new layoffs were already informed during the sales reorganization, according to a person familiar with Microsoft's plans."
Windows

Microsoft Faces Two New Lawsuits Over Aggressive Windows 10 Upgrade Tactics 103

Microsoft is facing two more lawsuits over its Windows 10 upgrade tactics. The first lawsuit comes from U.S. District Court in Florida, where the company has been accused of violating "laws governing unsolicited electronic advertisements" The suit, PCWorld reports, says Microsoft's tactics are against the FTC's rules on deceptive and unfair practices. The second lawsuit was filed last month in Haifa, Israel alleging that Microsoft installed Windows 10 on users' computer without their consent. It's similar to another recent lawsuit that was filed against Microsoft in which the Redmond company had to pay a sum of $10,000. The company, however, believes that these new lawsuits won't succeed. In a statement to The Seattle Times, the company said:We believe the plaintiffs' claims are without merit and we are confident we'll be successful in court.
Microsoft

Microsoft To Disable Policies In Windows 10 Pro With Anniversary Update (ghacks.net) 510

Reader BobSwi writes: More changes in the Windows Anniversary update, due August 2nd, are being discovered. After yesterday's news about Cortana not able to be turned off in the Windows Anniversary update, certain registry entries and group policies have been found to be updated with a note stating that they only apply to Enterprise and Education editions. Win 10 Pro users will no longer be able to turn off policies such as the Microsoft Consumer Experience, Show Windows Tips, Do not display the lock screen, and Disable all apps from the Windows Store.
Microsoft

You Can't Turn Off Cortana In the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (pcworld.com) 353

Microsoft will release Windows 10 Anniversary Update next week. Earlier this week we listed some of its best features. PCWorld is now reporting about a major change that may annoy some users: once you've installed the update, Cortana can no longer be disabled. From the article: Cortana, the personal digital assistant that replaced Windows 10's search function and taps into Bing's servers to answer your queries with contextual awareness, no longer has an off switch. The impact on you at home: Similar to how Microsoft blocked Google compatibility with Cortana, the company is now cutting off the plain vanilla search option. That actually makes a certain of amount of sense. Unless you turned off all the various cloud-connected bits of Windows 10, there's not a ton of difference between Cortana and the operating system's basic search capabilities.
China

Xiaomi Launches Mi Notebook Air Windows 10 Laptop Featuring 1080p Display, Starts at $520 (engadget.com) 88

Speaking of Chinese electronics giants, Xiaomi on Wednesday announced it is entering the PC market. The company, which is often referred to as "Apple of China", announced its first-ever laptop line, the Mi Notebook Air, running on Windows 10. It comes in two sizes -- 13.3-inch and 12.5-inch -- with both models featuring a slim body, a 1080p display, a backlit keyboard, a USB Type-Charging port. The Notebook Air starts at roughly $520 and goes all the way up to $750. Starting with the smaller of two, the 12.5-inch model is only 12.9mm thick and weighs 1.07kg. It packs in Intel Core M3 CPU with no dedicated GPU, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD. It is priced at $520. The 13.3-inch model, which is 14.8mm thick and weighs 1.28kg, packs in Intel Core i5-6200U Skylake-U processor, an Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, 256GB of SSD. It is powered by a 40Wh battery, which according to company's claim can last for up to 9.5 hours on a single charge, but can be charged from 0 to 50 percent in half an hour using the bundled USB-C charger. It is priced at $750. No word on when -- and if -- the laptop will be available outside China.
Microsoft

Steam On Windows 10 Will Get 'Progressively Worse': Gears of War Developer (ndtv.com) 409

Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform, or UWP, approach isn't sitting well with many game developers. Four months after criticising UWP ecosystem for being a walled-garden, curtailing "users' freedom to install full-featured PC software, and subverting the rights of developers and publishers to maintain a direct relationship with their customers," Tim Sweeney, co-founder of Epic Games, the studio behind the Gears of War and Unreal franchises has once again lashed out at the Redmond-based company. He alleges that Microsoft plans to make Steam -- the world's largest PC gaming platform, "progressively worse and more broken." in a move to bolster people's reliance on the Windows Store. From a Gadgets 360 report: "Slowly, over the next five years, they will force-patch Windows 10 to make Steam progressively worse and more broken. They'll never completely break it, but will continue to break it until, in five years, people are so fed up that Steam is buggy that the Windows Store seem like an ideal alternative. That's exactly what they did to their previous competitors in other areas. Now they're doing it to Steam. It's only just starting to become visible. Microsoft might not be competent enough to succeed with their plan but they are certainly trying," Sweeney said. He adds the outcome of this would be forcing every app and game to be sold through the Windows Store alone. "If they can succeed in doing that then it's a small leap to forcing all apps and games to be distributed through the Windows store. Once we reach that point, the PC has become a closed platform. It won't be that one day they flip a switch that will break your Steam library -- what they're trying to do is a series of sneaky manoeuvres. They make it more and more inconvenient to use the old apps, and, simultaneously, they try to become the only source for the new ones," he claims.
Microsoft

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: the Best New Features (theverge.com) 369

A year after the release of Windows 10, Microsoft is gearing up for Anniversary Update, the first major update to the company's desktop operating system. Ahead of the public release of Anniversary Update on August 2, Microsoft provided media outlets with the Anniversary Update, and their first impressions and reviews are out. The Verge has listed the big changes Windows 10 Anniversary ships with. From the article: Windows Ink: Windows Ink is without a doubt the best part of the Anniversary Update. It's essentially a central location to find built-in or third-party apps that work with your stylus. You can use the new sticky notes to note down reminders, and they'll even transform into true reminders as Cortana understands what you write.
Microsoft Edge extensions: If you're a fan of Chrome extensions, then you'll be glad to hear that they're heading to Microsoft's Edge browser. The Anniversary Update brings support for extensions, and it's now up to third-party developers to fill the Windows Store with their add-ons.
Cortana improvements: Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana, debuted on Windows 10 last year, and the software maker is bringing it to the lock screen with the Anniversary Update. You'll be able to ask it to make a note, play music, set a reminder, and lots more without ever logging in. Cortana is also getting a little more intelligent, with the ability to schedule appointments in Outlook or options to send friends a document you were working on a week ago.
Dark theme and UI tweaks: You can switch on what I call even darker mode in settings, and it will switch built-in apps that typically use a white background over to black.
Other improvements include things like Windows 10's ability to set your time zone automatically, and opening up of Windows Hello, the biometric feature to apps and websites. Additionally, the Xbox One is getting Windows apps. The Verge adds, "It feels like a promise that was made years ago, but it's finally coming true with the Anniversary Update. As Windows 10 now powers the Xbox One, Microsoft will start rolling out an update to its console to provide support for Cortana on Xbox One and the new universal apps." Microsoft is also adding Bash, the Linux command line to Windows with the new update. It's an optional feature and users will need to enable it to use it. Users will also be able to "project to PC," a feature that will allow one to easily find a PC to project to from a phone or another PC. There's also a new Skype app, and syncing of notifications between PC and phone is getting better.
Going by the reviews, it appears Windows 10 Anniversary Update is substantially more stable, and has interesting new features. You can read the first impressions of it on ZDNet, and review on PCWorld.
PlayStation (Games)

Sony Is the Only Remaining Obstacle To PS4-Xbox Cross-Play (kotaku.com) 57

In March, Microsoft announced native support for cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10. At the time, the company also added that this support could be extended to "other console and PC networks," something which led people to wonder if truly cross-platform gaming, on any platform, was next. When asked, Sony did say that it was open to the idea. "PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross-platform play." But since then, it appears that Sony has had a change of heart, which has resulted in developers asking the company for an update. Kotaku reports: In recent days, the developers behind Rocket League and The Witcher 3 have both called for Sony to break down the walls separating PlayStation Network and Xbox Live and allow cross-platform multiplayer. What's changed in the last few days are developers making an open call for Sony to make good on having that conversation with publishers and developers. In an interview with IGN, Psyonix president Jeremy Dunham explained how the Rocket League developer had already taken care of the technical side of things. "We're literally at the point where all we need is the go-ahead on the Sony side," said Dunham, "and we can, in less than a business day, turn it on and have it up and working no problem. It'd literally take a few hours to propagate throughout the whole world, so really we're just waiting on the permission to do so." In another statement to IGN, CD Projekt RED CEO Marcin Iwinski supported Psyonix.
Microsoft

Microsoft's Surface Hub Is a 'Hit', Demand Outstrips Supply (petri.com) 67

Microsoft said on Thursday that it has sold over 500 units of the Surface Hubs, a number that apparently "exceeded" the company's initial forecasts. In a statement to Microsoft-centric blog Petri, the company said: "Demand for Surface Hubs is very strong and exceeded initial forecasts. To date, we've shipped to over 500 customers worldwide and that number continues to grow. We are ramping up production to meet this strong demand via our partner reseller channel as soon as possible. Customers are encouraged to speak with their sales representative if interested in ordering Surface Hubs." For a refresh, the Surface Hub is a giant all-in-one Windows 10 computer which retails at a starting price point of $8,999 for the 55-inch model, and goes all the way up to $21,999 for the 84-inch model.
Chrome

Google Gets Rid Of App Launcher In Chrome 52, Browser's Mac Client Gets Material Design (9to5mac.com) 67

Google has finally removed App Launcher that it bundles with the Chrome browser for Windows and Mac with the release of Chrome v52. The Mac client, in addition, now embraces Google's Material Design approach, and comes with new icons and flatter and transparent interface. 9to5Mac documents more changes on Chrome for Mac and Windows: Besides a new flatter, sharper, and transparent design, Material is also a "huge engineering feat," especially for Chrome OS and Windows. Chrome is "now rendered fully programmatically including iconography, effectively removing the ~1200 png assets we were maintaining before," Google noted. "It also allows us to deliver a better rendering for a wide range of PPI configuration."
Microsoft

Microsoft Responds To Allegations That Windows 10 Collects 'Excessive Personal Data' (betanews.com) 159

BetaNews's Mark Wilson writes: Yesterday France's National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) slapped a formal order on Microsoft to comply with data protection laws after it found Windows 10 was collecting "excessive data" about users. The company has been given three months to meet the demands or it will face fines. Microsoft has now responded, saying it is happy to work with the CNIL to work towards an acceptable solution. Interestingly, while not denying the allegations set against it, the company does nothing to defend the amount of data collected by Windows 10, and also fails to address the privacy concerns it raises. Microsoft does address concerns about the transfer of data between Europe and the US, saying that while the Safe Harbor agreement is no longer valid, the company still complied with it up until the adoption of Privacy Shield. It's interesting to see that Microsoft, in response to a series of complaints very clearly leveled at Windows 10, manages to mention the operating system only once. There is the promise of a statement about privacy next week, but for now we have Microsoft's response to the CNIL's order.
Microsoft

France: Windows 10 Collects 'Excessive Personal Data', Issues Microsoft With Formal Warning (betanews.com) 112

France's National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) has ordered Microsoft to "stop collecting excessive data and tracking browsing by users without consent," adding that Microsoft must comply with the French Data Protection Act within next three months. BetaNews reports: In addition to this, the chair of CNIL has notified Microsoft that it needs to take "satisfactory measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of user data." The notice comes after numerous complaints about Windows 10, and a series of investigations by French authorities which revealed a number of failings on Microsoft's part. Microsoft is accused of not only gathering excessive data about users, but also irrelevant data. The CNIL points to Windows 10's telemetry service which gathers information about the apps users have installed and how long each is used for. The complaint is that "these data are not necessary for the operation of the service."
Microsoft

Skype Finalizes Its Move To the Cloud; To Kill Older Clients -- Remains Tight Lipped About Privacy (arstechnica.com) 74

When it was first created, Skype network was built as a decentralized peer-to-peer system. PCs that had enough processing muscle and bandwidth acted as "supernodes," and coordinated connections between other machines on the network. This p2p system was generally perceived as being relatively private, a belief that has since been debunked. There were several technical challenges, which led Microsoft to move most of Skype's operations to the cloud. Ars Technica is reporting that the company has finalized the switch. From the article: Microsoft has developed a more conventional client-server network, with clients that act as pure clients and dedicated cloud servers. The company is starting to transition to this network exclusively. This transition means that old peer-to-peer Skype clients will cease to work. Clients for the new network will be available for Windows XP and up, OS X Yosemite and up, iOS 8 and up, and Android 4.03 and up. However, certain embedded clients -- in particular, those integrated into smart TVs and available for the PlayStation 3 -- are being deprecated, with no replacement. Microsoft says that since those clients are little used and since almost every user of those platforms has other Skype-capable devices available, it is no longer worth continuing to support them.The issue, as the report points out, is that Microsoft is strangely not talking about privacy and security concerns. The article adds: The Ed Snowden leaks raised substantial questions about the privacy of services such as Skype and have caused an increasing interest in platforms that offer end-to-end encryption. The ability to intercept or wiretap Skype came as a shock to many, especially given Skype's traditionally peer-to-peer infrastructure. Accordingly, we've seen similar services such as iMessage, WhatsApp, and even Facebook Messenger, start introducing end-to-end encryption. The abandonment of Skype's peer-to-peer system can only raise suspicions here.Matthew Green, who teaches cryptography at Johns Hopkins, said: "The surprising thing here is not that Microsoft can intercept Skype calls (duh) but that they won't just admit it."
Windows

Windows 10 Warns Chrome and Firefox Users About Battery Drain, Recommends Switching To Edge (venturebeat.com) 376

A month after Microsoft claimed that its Edge web browser is more power efficient than Google Chrome and Firefox, the company is now warning Windows 10 users about the same. VentureBeat reports: Microsoft has turned on a new set of Windows Tips that warn Windows 10 users that Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox is draining their laptop's battery. The solution, according to the notification, is to use Microsoft Edge.In a statement to the publication, the company said: "These Windows Tips notifications were created to provide people with quick, easy information that can help them enhance their Windows 10 experience, including information that can help users extend battery life. That said, with Windows 10 you can easily choose the default browser and search engine of your choice."
Android

Slashdot Asks: Do You Install Preview Version Of An OS On Your Primary Device? 151

On Monday, Google released a new -- and also the final -- version of the Android N Developer Preview. Android Nougat, which is the latest version of Google's mobile operating system comes with a range of new features and improvements, including a notification panel redesign and additions to Doze power saving. The fifth preview, which is releasing today offers a "near-final" look at Android 7. Interestingly, Apple also released the public beta versions of iOS 10, and macOS Sierra to users earlier this month. Microsoft continues to offer preview builds of Windows 10 OS to enthusiasts.

We were wondering how many of you choose to live on beta version of an operating system on your primary devices. Does anyone here wait for the final version of an operating system to release before making the switch? Also, what does the setup of your office/work computer look like? Anyone who is still on an older version of an operating system because of reliability and compatibility concerns?
XBox (Games)

Microsoft's New Xbox One S Will Go On Sale On August 2 -- Will You Buy One? (betanews.com) 108

Microsoft announced on Monday that its new Xbox One S console will go on sale on August 2. To recall, the Xbox One S is 40 percent smaller than the original Xbox One (also the power supply packed in the console itself), and has the processing muscle to stream video in 4K Ultra HD with HDR. BetaNews reports: August 2 is the big date which also sees the release of Windows 10 Anniversary Update. The Xbox One S also features up to 2TB of storage. In all, three versions of the console are available. It's the 2TB model that's grabbing the headlines and the attention of keen gamers, and this model will launch in "limited numbers" priced at $399. The console will launch in Australia, Canada, UK and United States among several other regions. For anyone looking for a slightly cheaper option, the 1TB model will cost $349, while $299 will get you a 500GB version. If you want to add to the single Xbox Wireless Controller included as standard, this will set you back a further $59.99.Are you planning to purchase one of these?
Software

The Freeware Hall of Fame Enters Its 20th Year (freewarehof.org) 41

After our story about the ongoing development of FreeDOS, long-time Slashdot reader reybo shares another valuable resource that's been "All free, all the time since 1984": Younger FreeDOS users may not know of the Freeware Hall of Fame, a source of old DOS freeware some of which is on-line 24/7 at www.freewarehof.org . This file base of free programs was begun in 1984 to help small businesses enter the world of computers. It became an international file base distributed to BBSs around the world via floppy disc until Bobbie Sumrada in Memphis gave it a home on CHEERS, her premier BBS.

The entire history is on the FreeHOF web site. Also there are downloadable copies of PCBoard, one of the great BBS platforms of all time. Anyone can create a dial-up BBS with this to see what they were like, so long as they have a DOS partition for it. I think MS DOS is also there to download, version 5.n or 6.n. Something you won't find at this site is games. FHOF never distributed games.

"No Flash, no Java, no goddam rollovers..." reads one page, which notes that in the mid-'90s they were picked as one of the world's 25 best BBSs by Boardwatch magazine.
Operating Systems

How (And Why) FreeDOS Keeps DOS Alive (computerworld.com.au) 211

FreeDOS was originally created in response to Microsoft's announcement that after Windows 95, DOS would no longer be developed as a standalone operating system, according to a new interview about how (and why) Jim Hall keeps FreeDOS alive. For its newest version, Hall originally imagined "what 'DOS' would be like in 2015 or 2016 if Microsoft hadn't stopped working on MS-DOS in favor of Windows" -- before he decided there's just no such thing as "modern DOS". An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: No major changes are planned in the next version. "The next version of FreeDOS won't be multitasking, it won't be 32-bit, it won't run on ARM," Hall said. "FreeDOS is still intended for Intel and Intel-compatible computers. You should still be able to run FreeDOS on your old 486 or old Pentium PC to play classic DOS games, run legacy business programs, and support embedded development."
By day, Hall is the CIO for a county in Minnesota, and he's also a member of the board of directors for GNOME (and contributes to other open source projects) -- but he still remembers using DOS's built-in BASIC system to write simple computer programs. "Many of us older computer nerds probably used DOS very early, on our first home computer..." he tells ComputerWorld. Even without John Romero's new Doom level, "The popularity of DOS games and DOS shareware applications probably contributes in a big way to FreeDOS's continued success." I'd be curious how many Slashdot readers have some fond memories about downloading DOS shareware applications.

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