Archive for the ‘microsoft’ Category

Lenovo takes on Microsoft’s Surface Studio with its own tilting all-in-one

January 9th, 2019

Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet stimulated a range of copycat systems from PC OEMs, with all the major PC companies coming out with their own riff on the tablet with kickstand and detachable keyboard/cover. It's now Surface Studio's turn to inspire clones.

Lenovo's Yoga A940 copies the central Surface Studio concept: it's an all-in-one PC with a large touchscreen mounted on a hinge so that it can be laid relatively flat (an angle of 25 degrees). Lenovo's display isn't as eye-catching as Microsoft's: it's a 27-inch display with a conventional 16:9 aspect ratio and either a 2560×1440 or 3840×2160 resolution. It supports stylus input from an active stylus using Wacom's AES technology. Lenovo even has its own riff on Microsoft's Surface Dial peripheral; on the left-hand side of the screen is a rotary control named the "Precision Dial," which can control features of various Adobe applications. At the top of the display is a 1080p webcam with an infrared camera for Windows Hello facial recognition.

While the screen is smaller, the base unit, containing the integrated PC, is quite a bit bigger than Microsoft's. It includes a desktop (65W) 8th generation Core i7 processor, so it should outpace the mobile chip found in the Surface Studio. On the other hand, the discrete GPU is an AMD Radeon RX 560, which is quite a bit slower than the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 in the Surface Studio 2. The A940 has up to 32GB of RAM, up to 512GB of PCIe SSD, and 2TB of hard disk storage.

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Posted in CES, hardware, Lenovo, microsoft, surface studio, Tech | Comments (0)

Microsoft, Kroger team up to fight Amazon with high-tech grocery stores

January 8th, 2019
Microsoft, Kroger team up to fight Amazon with high-tech grocery stores

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft/Kroger)

Big grocery stores are adapting to the changing times and the ever-increasing threat from Amazon. Kroger is the latest grocery giant to team up with a tech company—Microsoft—in order to give itself an edge. The two have come together to make a new high-tech grocery store experience, leveraging cloud computing, digital displays, and other technology to make the shopping experience more convenient for customers and employees.

Currently, two Kroger stores are being used to pilot the program—one in Monroe, Ohio, and one in Redmond, Washington—close to both companies' headquarters. Microsoft's Azure stores and processes in-store data, while new electronics change the ways that customers and employees interact with products. New digital displays replace paper tags and list products' prices, promotions, and nutrition information. They can more easily change when products move throughout the store or when Kroger makes pricing and promotion changes.

The displays will also change to show icons that correspond to nearby customers' grocery lists, making it easier for them to find what they need. As for employees, a new "pick-to-light" system lights up areas of shelves with needed products, letting employees fulfill curbside pickup orders more efficiently.

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Posted in amazon, azure, Biz & IT, grocery, Kroger, microsoft, online shopping | Comments (0)

Unlimited private repositories now available to free GitHub users

January 8th, 2019
Cartoon mascot of a cat in an octopus costume, maybe.

Octocat, the GitHub mascot. (credit: Github)

The significant change to GitHub announced today by CEO Nat Friedman might be the first major change since Microsoft bought the company last year: free accounts can now create private repositories.

GitHub has become the home for a huge number of open-source projects. Some of these are major, widely used projects such as the Node.js server-side JavaScript platform, but many of them are small, personal projects, half-written programs, and experiments. These projects are typically open-source not because their authors have any particular desire to share them with the world but because GitHub gave them no choice: free GitHub accounts could only create public repositories.

As such, GitHub represented a trade-off: you could use GitHub's services for free, but you had to share. If you didn't want to share, you had to pay.

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Posted in git, GitHub, microsoft, Open Source, Tech | Comments (0)

New Windows 10 build silences Cortana, brings passwordless accounts

January 4th, 2019
New Windows 10 build silences Cortana, brings passwordless accounts

The latest Insider build of Windows 10, 18309, expands the use of a thing that Microsoft has recently introduced: passwordless Microsoft accounts. It's now possible to create a Microsoft account that uses a one-time code delivered over SMS as its primary authenticator, rather than a conventional password.

In the new Windows 10 build, these passwordless accounts can be used for logging into a machine locally. The initial sign-in will use SMS, and it will then prompt you to configure biometric or PIN authentication. Your face, fingerprint, or PIN will be used subsequently. This capability is in all the editions, from Home up to Enterprise. A few previous builds had constrained it to Home only.

While SMS-based authentication has security issues of its own, Microsoft seems to feel that it's a better bet for most home users than a likely insecure password. Removing the Windows login password is part of the company's broader efforts to switch to using a mix of one-time passwords, biometrics, and cryptographic keys.

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Posted in Cortana, microsoft, passwords, security, Tech, Windows | Comments (0)

Chrome’s getting a dark mode on Windows to match the one for macOS

January 3rd, 2019
Chrome's dark mode.

Enlarge / Chrome's dark mode.

Chrome 73 is going to include support for macOS 10.14's dark mode, with an alternative color scheme for its user interface that cuts the brightness. It's now clear that a Windows version of the same is in development, though it seems to trail the macOS version.

A bug report was spotted by Techdows, and preliminary work has been started to bring Windows its dark mode. Unlike its macOS counterpart, which should track the operating-system mode, the Windows dark mode currently has to be forcibly turned on with a command-line switch. Adding "--force-dark-mode" to the command line of current builds of Chrome 73 makes everything dark.

The dark theme is still unfinished, hence this menu with almost illegible black text on a dark grey background.

The dark theme is still unfinished, hence this menu with almost illegible black text on a dark grey background.

The macOS work has top priority (P1). The Windows work is only P2 (originally P3), surprisingly suggesting that it's less important, enough though Chrome has far more Windows 10 users than it does macOS users. Development of the Windows theme was at least, for a time, hindered by one of the developers not having a Windows laptop to use.

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Posted in browsers, chrome, dark mode, microsoft, Open Source, Tech, Windows | Comments (0)

Windows 10 creeps past Windows 7 usage, latest update barely used

January 2nd, 2019
Who doesn't love some new Windows?

Enlarge / Who doesn't love some new Windows? (credit: Peter Bright / Flickr)

About three and a half years after its release, Windows 10 seems to have convincingly passed Windows 7 in usage share. Online stat-tracking service Net Market Share puts Windows 10 at 39.22 percent of usage, versus 36.90 percent for Windows 7.

Web-based stat-tracking services vary in their estimates of who's using what operating system. That's due to different sites being monitored and different methodologies in handling the data. Net Market Share is the one we've seen most often quoted by third parties (including Microsoft and Mozilla), so it is notable as the companies' own preferred measure. Another widely referenced service, StatCounter, reckons that Windows 10 passed Windows 7 a year ago, putting the new operating system at 52.42 percent to its predecessor's 35.65 percent.

That's a lot of people still using Windows 7—an operating system that's due to be end-of-lifed in January 2020. Microsoft says that corporate migrations to Windows 10 are going strong, with more than half of enterprise machines on Windows 10 as of October last year. But the clock is ticking to migrate remaining machines.

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Posted in market share, microsoft, Tech, Windows, Windows 10, windows 7 | Comments (0)

Microsoft issues emergency update to fix critical IE flaw under active exploit

December 20th, 2018
Microsoft issues emergency update to fix critical IE flaw under active exploit

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has issued an emergency update that fixes a critical Internet Explorer vulnerability that attackers are actively exploiting on the Internet.

The memory-corruption flaw allows attackers to remotely execute malicious code when computers use IE to visit a booby-trapped website, Microsoft said Wednesday. Indexed as CVE-2018-8653, the flaw affects all supported versions of Windows. The vulnerability involves the way Microsoft's scripting engine handles objects in memory in Internet Explorer.

In a separate advisory, Microsoft said the vulnerability is being used in targeted attacks, but the company didn't elaborate. Microsoft credited Clement Lecigne of Google's Threat Analysis Group with discovering the vulnerability. No other details were available about the vulnerability or exploits at the time this post was being reported.

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Posted in Biz & IT, exploits, Internet Explorer, microsoft, vulnerabilities, Windows | Comments (0)

Microsoft unveils Windows Sandbox: Run any app in a disposable virtual machine

December 19th, 2018
Microsoft unveils Windows Sandbox: Run any app in a disposable virtual machine

Enlarge (credit: F Delventhal)

A few months ago, Microsoft let slip a forthcoming Windows 10 feature that was, at the time, called InPrivate Desktop: a lightweight virtual machine for running untrusted applications in an isolated environment. That feature has now been officially announced with a new name, Windows Sandbox.

Windows 10 already uses virtual machines to increase isolation between certain components and protect the operating system. These VMs have been used in a few different ways. Since its initial release, for example, suitably configured systems have used a small virtual machine running alongside the main operating system to host portions of LSASS. LSASS is a critical Windows subsystem that, among other things, knows various secrets, such as password hashes, encryption keys, and Kerberos tickets. Here, the VM is used to protect LSASS from hacking tools such that even if the base operating system is compromised, these critical secrets might be kept safe.

In the other direction, Microsoft added the ability to run Edge tabs within a virtual machine to reduce the risk of compromise when visiting a hostile website. The goal here is the opposite of the LSASS virtual machine—it's designed to stop anything nasty from breaking out of the virtual machine and contaminating the main operating system, rather than preventing an already contaminated main operating system from breaking into the virtual machine.

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Posted in hyper-V, microsoft, sandboxing, Tech, virtual machines, Windows, Windows 10 | Comments (0)

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update is now fully available—for “advanced” users

December 18th, 2018
Who doesn't love some new Windows?

Enlarge / Who doesn't love some new Windows? (credit: Peter Bright / Flickr)

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update, version 1809, continues to limp out of the door. While the data-loss bug that saw its release entirely halted has been fixed, other blocking issues have restricted its rollout. It has so far only been available to those who manually check Windows Update for updates, and even there, Microsoft has restricted the speed at which it's distributed.

This particular speed bump has now been removed, and manual checking for updates is now unthrottled. That means a manual check for updates will kick off the update process so long as your system isn't actively blacklisted (and there are a few outstanding incompatibilities that mean it could be).

Microsoft is saying that this upgrade route is for "advanced" users. Everyone else should wait for the fully automatic deployment, which doesn't seem to have started yet. That'll have its own set of throttles and perhaps even new blacklists if further problems are detected. A number of the remaining compatibility problems are more likely to strike corporate users, as they involve corporate VPN and security software. Companies will need to apply the relevant patches for the third-party applications before they can roll out the Windows 10 update.

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Posted in microsoft, october 2018 update, patch, Tech, updates, Windows, Windows 10, Windows Update | Comments (0)

Google isn’t the company that we should have handed the Web over to

December 17th, 2018
The word

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

With Microsoft's decision to end development of its own Web rendering engine and switch to Chromium, control over the Web has functionally been ceded to Google. That's a worrying turn of events, given the company's past behavior.

Chrome itself has about 72 percent of the desktop-browser market share. Edge has about 4 percent. Opera, based on Chromium, has another 2 percent. The abandoned, no-longer-updated Internet Explorer has 5 percent, and Safari—only available on macOS—about 5 percent. When Microsoft's transition is complete, we're looking at a world where Chrome and Chrome-derivatives take about 80 percent of the market, with only Firefox, at 9 percent, actively maintained and available cross-platform.

The mobile story has stronger representation from Safari, thanks to the iPhone, but overall tells a similar story. Chrome has 53 percent directly, plus another 6 percent from Samsung Internet, another 5 percent from Opera, and another 2 percent from Android browser. Safari has about 22 percent, with the Chinese UC Browser sitting at about 9 percent. That's two-thirds of the mobile market going to Chrome and Chrome derivatives.

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Posted in browsers, chrome, EDGE, Firefox, google, microsoft, Mozilla, Open Source, standards, Tech | Comments (0)