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Microsoft Attempting To Attract More Mobile Users With Freebies

January 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft Corp made its popular Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications available,free of charge, on Android tablets, further signifying its drive to attract as many mobile customers as possible using its software.

It also released an app for its popular Outlook email program to run on Apple Inc’s iPhone and iPad, hoping to attract the millions of users familiar with Outlook from their work desktops.

The new releases are the latest gambits in Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella’s attempt to wrest back the initiative in the battle for mobile users, where Microsoft has fallen behind Apple and Google Inc.

Nadella broke with decades of tradition last March by releasing a free, touch-friendly version of Office for Apple’s iPad, before such software was even available for Microsoft’s Windows devices.

By giving away its industry-standard Office apps on Apple’s popular iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, Microsoft is looking to build up a base of users which it can later persuade to sign up for Office 365, the full, Internet-based version of Office starting at $7 a month for personal users.

Microsoft has been offering test versions of the Office apps on Android for almost three months, but Thursday marks the first day they are available as finished products from the online Google Play app store.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint, the key elements of Microsoft’s top-selling Office suite of applications, have been a hit on Apple’s mobile devices, with 80 million downloads since last March, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft plans to release new, touch-friendly versions of its Office apps for Windows devices later this year when it releases the Windows 10 operating system.

The new Outlook app, based on a popular app made by Acompli, which Microsoft bought in December, will allow iPhone and iPad users much easier ways of linking email to calendars and working with file attachments. Microsoft is also releasing a test version of the Outlook app for Android users.

 

 

Amazon Courting The Enterprise With New ‘WorkMail’ Service

January 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc ramped up its attempts to woo corporate clients by announcing an email and scheduling service that will compete with Microsoft Corp and Google Inc .

The service, dubbed WorkMail, will launch in the second quarter and has been developed by the company’s cloud computing unit, Amazon Web Services (AWS). It highlights Amazon’s efforts to convince deep-pocketed companies, called enterprises in tech parlance, to shift more of their work to AWS.

Launching an email and scheduling service is likely the first step toward a broader suite of Amazon tools to gain corporate clients, analysts said. For example, Google’s Gmail offers many other services beyond email and calendars including file-sharing and video conferencing.

AWS has spent the last couple of years trying to get corporate clients on board because big businesses spend more on data centers than startups, who were the initial focus of its business. But there are concerns that Amazon is spreading itself too thin, given its other sizeable investments in areas like Hollywood-style production and consumer devices.

“Email is a Trojan Horse into the enterprise,” Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said. He added that email is a $1 billion opportunity for Amazon given the popularity of AWS and Amazon’s willingness to sacrifice margins for volume.

If Amazon adds more services for companies, it could bring in about $10 billion more in extra revenue, Sebastian said.

 

 

Google Fiber Expanding South

January 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google Fiber is expanding to the metro areas of Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., reaching 18 cities in those areas.

The fiber optic cable service, with speeds of 1Gbps, is already active in the Kansas City area, as well as Provo, Utah, and Austin, Texas.

Google has been working with city leaders in the new areas for the past year, “and now the really hard work begins,” said Dennis Kish, vice president of Google Fiber in a blog posting.

He also said Google continues to explore bringing fiber to five other areas: Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose. Updates on those areas will come later this year.

Kish hailed findings by President Barack Obama and others that show fast Internet connections are vital to economic development. In cities such as Kansas City, Kans. and Kansas City, Mo., the construction of Google Fiber in residential areas started in 2012 and was opened to businesses by 2014. Google Fiber has also pushed AT&T to launch a number of competitive fiber projects.

“Fiber is on fire,” said Heather Burnett Gold, president of Fiber to the Home Council for the Americas, in reaction to Google’s announcement. “Communities must be planning/deploying gigabit infrastructure today in order to be part of the global economy tomorrow.”

City leaders in Raleigh welcomed the news as well.

“High-speed broadband can help cities enhance service deliver and civic engagement,” said Gail Roper, chief information and community relations officer for the City of Raleigh, in a statement.

 

DoS Bug Found In Android

January 29, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Security researchers have discovered a bug in the Android WiFi Direct feature that could allow hackers to launch denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on Android devices.

WiFi Direct allows Android devices to connect to one another directly without needing a third-party device like a wireless router. The feature runs as standard in most Android smartphones today.

The guys at Core Security found the vulnerability, dubbed CVE-2014-0997, and said that a number of Android smartphones are vulnerable and can be affected by a DoS attack when scanning for WiFi Direct-capable devices.

An attacker could implement the DoS attack by sending a specially crafted 802.11 probe response frame “causing the Dalvik subsystem to reboot because of an Unhandle Exception on WiFiMonitor class”, said Core Security.

“On some Android devices processing a probe response frame with a WiFi-Direct (P2P) information element that contains a device name attribute with specific bytes generates a malformed supplicant event string that ends up throwing the IllegalArgumentException. As this exception is not handled the Android system restarts.”

In laymen’s terms, the attacker could essentially reboot an Android device remotely, knocking it off the wireless connection.

Devices currently affected by the bug include the Nexus 5 and Nexus 4 running Android version 4.4.4, the LG D806 and the Samsung SM-T310 running Android 4.2.2, and the Motorola RAZR HD running Android 4.1.2.

Core Security said that other devices could also be affected. Android 5.0 Lollipop is not vulnerable to the exploit, so the firm suggests that Android users should update to the latest version where possible.

Courtesy-TheInq

Facebook Testing New Stripped Down Version Of Its Mobile App

January 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Facebook is testing a scaled down version of its mobile app that requires far less data, which could boost usage of the social networking service among people with weaker Internet service or older phones.

Facebook “Lite” is available for devices running Android 2.2 and up. The size of the free app is 252 kilobytes, and it’s meant for 2G networks in areas with limited connectivity. Users can perform a bunch of basic functions like post status updates with photos, comment on people’s posts, message friends, have group conversations, and receive notifications. Posts from the news feed are meant to load quickly.

Early reviews on the Google Play store for the app have been positive, with many praising its low data and battery usage.

Facebook launched the app over the weekend in parts of Africa and Asia, said a report in TechCrunch. A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment further.

The Lite app appears to be related to Facebook’s Internet.org project, which seeks to provide free access to Facebook and other basic Internet services in developing countries. The Internet.org app is already available in a handful of countries such as Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Colombia. In addition to Facebook, the app provides access to other services like the weather, Wikipedia, and health and educational information. Carriers can charge users for paid access to other services. In addition to Facebook, other founding partners of Internet.org include Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung.

With the Lite app, Facebook might be testing people’s responsiveness to a set of basic Facebook services without the ancillary ones. It may also help Facebook learn how it could further improve the functions of its Internet.org app.

Facebook tested a different stripped down version of its site in late 2009 and early 2010, although only for the desktop. It was shut down in April 2010.

 

 

Dropbox Acquires Startup Pixelapse

January 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Dropbox, never one to shy away from an acquisition, has purchased startup Pixelapse, which provides a GitHub-like version control service for “tens of thousands” of visual designers. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

“Our new development efforts will be focused on bringing the same kinds of collaboration and workflow experiences that you’re used to in Pixelapse over to the core Dropbox product,” said the company’s traditional “hey we’ve been acquired” blog post about the deal.

The way Pixelapse works is simple and familiar to anyone who’s used a version control service like GitHub before: Visual design project files get stored in a dedicated folder. Make a change to a project asset, and those changes get synced to the cloud, where they’re viewable from a cloud interface. There’s even an activity feed to see who worked on what within a team.

If you or anybody else (the client you’ve shared the project with, the boss in charge of the project, or just the rest of the project team) wants, they can go back and view the entire history, comparing revisions and rolling back changes if necessary. You can even show off the history of a project to the public with an embeddable code widget.

If that sounds a lot like Dropbox’s existing version control, just tailored to a very specific vertical — namely, designers — collect your prize at the door. From Dropbox’s perspective, this is a shrewd move that enhances the platform’s appeal with a project management feature that developers love but designers could never access. The startup’s origins stem from co-founder Min Ming Lo’s time as a design intern at Google, where nobody had any idea what assets belonged to whom or how to give feedback.

For existing users, never fear. Pixelapse promises on its website that the service is safe for at least another year and that it’s still accepting sign-ups, which is a good omen given that so many similar deals of this type see immediate service shutdown.

 

 

Adobe Patches Flash Player Again

January 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It’s patch week again for Adobe Flash Player, and this time the update is designed to fix a critical security bug in the much-maligned browser’s multimedia plug-in.

Flash Player has been updated to version 16.0.0.296 to solve the vulnerability previously identified in the APSA15-01 Security Bulletin. The bulletin now contains information about the new version.

Flash Player 16.0.0.296 was released with auto-update enabled on 24 January, two days earlier than the expected distribution date.

The standalone release was released on 26 January, as Adobe anticipated in the original bulletin, and users or sysadmins can download the full exe/msi installer straight from the official site.

Flash Player 16.0.0.296 is now available for Internet Explorer and the plug-in based browsers on Windows and Mac systems.

A new version (11.2.202.440) is available for Linux operating systems and Oracle Solaris on the same page that provides the Windows/Mac versions.

Adobe is also said to be working with the company’s “distribution partners” to make the update available for those browsers that embed the Flash plug-in, namely Internet Explorer 10 and 11 and Google Chrome.

Flash Player 16.0.0.296 is meant to end the exploitation of a zero-day vulnerability classified as CVE-2015-0311, for which a working exploit was already circulating in the wild.

Successful attacks via drive-by downloads were confirmed against machines running Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows 8.1 and below.

The bug “could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system”, Adobe warned in the original security bulletin.

Installing the updated version of the Flash Player plug-in is recommended.

The new Flash Player release contains no new features apart from fixing the CVE-2015-0311 bug.

Courtesy-TheInq

New Internet Browser Vivaldi Launches

January 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Well known software developer Jon von Tetzchner has launched a new internet browser, offering an interface for high-volume users who “have problems fitting all their open tabs on one screen”, he said in a Reuters interview.

Known as Vivaldi and available on desktop computers from Tuesday, the browser’s initial launch covers the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

“A mobile phone and a tablet version are in the pipeline. We are working on it, but they won’t be out until they’re ready,” said von Tetzchner, who owns 90 percent of the company’s shares and has paid for the development.

“At some point it will need to fund it self and to reach that point we will need a few million users. I have no doubt that we will reach that number quite easily,” he added.

With features like personalized notes, bookmarks with small screen shots and speed dials with options for multiple groups and folders, Vivaldi hopes to attract high-volume users.

Despite tough competition from the likes of Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Corp’s Firefox and Opera Software’s browser, von Tetzchner believes there is still room for more.

“We welcome everyone, but this is first of all a browser for people who expect and need more,” he said. “There is without a doubt a demand for this type of browser even though I don’t expect it to take more than a few percent of the total market.”

Vivaldi has signed a few affiliation deals ahead of the launch and is in talks with several potential partners for functionalities like search and online shopping.

“We have made several deals and have started a dialogue with others. But because some of these are potential competitors, we’ve wanted to go live with the browser first.”

Named after the 18th century composer Antonio Vivaldi, the name carries an inescapable reference to von Tetzchner’s previous role as co-founder and long-time head of browser and mobile phone technology firm Opera Software.

 

Cablevision To Launch Wi-Fi Phone Service

January 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Cablevision System Corp said that it would launch in February a wireless Internet phone service to give customers an alternative to more expensive data plans from cellular companies such as AT&T and Verizon.

The “Freewheel” phone service, which runs on any WiFi connection, is an attempt by Cablevision to retain and potentially add subscribers at a time when cable companies are losing out to lower-priced, bundled TV and Internet services from telecom firms.

Cablevision said the phone service was the first of its kind to be launched by a cable company and aims to tap users seeking to download unlimited amounts of data on their mobile phones using WiFi, which is less expensive than a cellular connection.

Such services could pose a challenge to traditional telecom carriers. Currently, carrier Republic Wireless and Massachusetts-based startup Scratch Wireless offer users similar services that use WiFi to control data costs.

“There has been a dramatic shift in how consumers use their mobile devices: today, it’s all about data, and WiFi is now preferred and clearly superior to cellular,” Kristin Dolan, chief operating officer of Cablevision, said in the statement.

Cablevision, controlled by New York’s Dolan family, has been investing in its “Optimum” WiFi network since 2007, setting up over 1.1 million WiFi hotspots or access points in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Cablevision’s WiFi phone service will be offered at $29.95 per month and $9.95 per month for subscribers of its “Optimum Online” service. It will be available exclusively on the Motorola Moto G smartphone that users will have to purchase, the company said.

The $180 Android phone will be sold to “Freewheel” users without a contract at a discounted price of $99.95, it added.

 

 

 

Microsoft Unveils Hologram Visor

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft Corp surprised the tech world with the unveiling of a prototype hologram visor that can bring the Minecraft video game, Skype calls and even the landscape of Mars to three-dimensional life.

The veteran tech pioneer, which long ago lost the mantle of the world’s most inventive company, is making a bold play to regain that title in the face of stiff competition from Google Inc and Apple Inc.

Virtual or enhanced reality is the next frontier in computing interaction, with Facebook Inc focusing on its Oculus virtual reality headset and Google working on its Glass project.

Microsoft said its wire-free Microsoft HoloLens device will be available around the same time as Windows 10 this autumn. Industry analysts were broadly excited at the prospect, but skeptical that it could produce a working model at a mass-market price that soon.

“That was kind of a ‘Oh wow!’ moment,” said Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner who tried out the prototype on Wednesday. “You would expect to see a relatively high-priced model this year or next year, then maybe it’ll take another couple of years to bring it down to a more affordable level.”

Microsoft does not have a stellar record of bringing ground-breaking technology to life. Its Kinect motion-sensing game device caused an initial stir but never gripped the popular imagination.

The company showed off a crude test version of the visor – essentially jerry-rigged wires and cameras pulled over the head – to reporters and industry analysts at a gathering at its headquarters near Seattle.

It did not allow any photographs or video of the experience, but put some images on its website.

 

 

Google, The Wireless Carrier?

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google has put in place the framework for its own cellular service by acquiring capacity on the networks of Sprint and T-Mobile USA, according to news reports.

The sprawling search company would sell the service directly to consumers, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources. Tech news site The Information reported on the deals earlier this week.

Google is heavily involved in mobile through its Android operating system, the world’s most widely used mobile OS, as well as through selling mobile advertising, and is pushing to make more radio spectrum available for wireless services. But the partnerships with Sprint and T-Mobile would bring the company into the cellular business itself, offering Google phone plans directly to consumers.

The deals would make Google an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), a carrier that doesn’t build or operate its own network but sells services that run on the partners’ infrastructure. Sprint is the third-largest U.S. mobile carrier and T-Mobile is the fourth largest.

As a powerful and well-heeled newcomer, Google might disrupt the cellular industry, just as it has the wired broadband business with its Google Fiberservice. The U.S. mobile industry has been wracked by new business models and falling prices in recent years.

It’s not clear whether the company will launch a full-scale national effort or a more limited rollout. There are terms in Google’s contract with Sprint that would allow for renegotiation if Google draws a huge number of subscribers, the Journal said.

 

 

 

U.S. And Britain Ramping Up Joint Cyber Defense Efforts

January 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. and Britain are increasing their collaboration to thwart digital threats. They are planning to launch more attacks against each other to test their defenses and scare away possible enemies.

The U.S. and the U.K. have been working together to prevent cyber attacks for some time, but are going to increase the collaboration. They will combine their expertise to set up “cyber cells” on both sides of the Atlantic to increase sharing information about threats and to work out how to best protect themselves and create a system that lets hostile states and organization know they shouldn’t attack, said U.K. prime minister David Cameron in an interview published by the BBC.

Cyber attacks “are one of the biggest modern threats that we face,” according to Cameron who is visiting Washington for talks with U.S. president Barack Obama. One of the topics high on the agenda is digital security.

The countries will increase the “war games” launched at each other to test defenses. “It is happening already but it needs to be stepped up,” Cameron said, adding that British intelligence service GCHQ and the U.S. equivalent NSA have know-how that should be shared more.

“It is not just about protecting companies, it is also about protecting people’s data, about protecting people’s finances. These attacks can have real consequences to people’s prosperity,” he said.

The increased cooperation between the countries comes in the wake of the Sony hack and the apparent hacking of the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter account by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which posted tweets threatening families of U.S. soldiers and claiming to have hacked into military PCs.

 

 

 

Google Wants To Build Military Cloud For Department Of Defense

January 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google is putting its considerable resources behind PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ bid to build a new cloud-based healthcare system for the military that would support its more than 9.7 million beneficiaries.

PwC announced yesterday that it will team up with Google on a bid that will go to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for what’s been dubbed the Healthcare Management Systems Modernization Electronic Health Record contract.

The DoD is looking to replace and modernize its online health system, enabling doctors and other healthcare providers, working both inside and outside of government, to easily and securely access medical records for military personnel, retirees and their families.

“Google is known for its expertise in innovative, secure and open technologies, and the power of Internet scale,” said Scott McIntyre, PwC’s global and U.S. public sector leader, in a statement. “Their capabilities can complement our proposed open-architecture solution and bring added value, agility and flexibility to the new Military Health System.”

PcW and Google have recently joined in an effort to help enterprises move their apps and data onto the cloud.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

 

 

Facebook Launches New Mobile App Offering Free Internet

January 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Facebook Inc has rolled out a new mobile phone application that gives Colombian users free access to a handful of online services, broadening Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s effort to boost Internet usage in developing markets.

Colombia is the first nation in Latin America to receive the new Internet.org service, in partnership with local mobile phone provider Tigo, but the aim is to push the application across the region.

The tools offered by the service provide a foundation Colombians can use to “build their own prosperity” Zuckerberg said at a presentation in Bogota with President Juan Manuel Santos.

“By giving people these basic tools for free, you’re creating an equal playing field,” Zuckerberg said, referring to entrepreneurs who could use the free Internet to start or grow a business.

Internet.org will offer more than a dozen services via the Android operating system, including online encyclopedia Wikipedia, weather websites, job listings and health information, as well as Facebook’s own social network and messaging service.

Access to the application’s services is free, but links that lead to information on other websites will require users to pay data charges.

The service may even aid the country, which has 21 million Facebook users, as it seeks an end to 50 years of war with Marxist rebels, Zuckerberg said.

“Just giving people the tools of connectivity is important by itself in creating communication and a tighter social fabric in creating peace,” the 30-year-old CEO said.

The service, first launched in Zambia back in July, will eventually be available via other mobile providers.

Facebook has partnered with more than 150 wireless providers over the past four years to offer free or discounted access to its social network, but the new app is the first time the company has added services beyond its own website.

 

 

Is Dailymotion Going After Twitch?

January 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Dailymotion has hopped onto the game streaming juggernaut and launched a game streaming service.

Dailymotion Games will put the firm into a market that so far includes Twitch, a streamer that has cemented its place as a gaming add-on and a coveted option on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles.

The Dailymotion information does not dwell on Twitch, which has been a feature of many a gushing press release from console makers such as Sony, but it does say that the live streaming gaming platform has some decent credentials.

For example, the promotional information says that the platform is backed with “industry leading video and live streaming technology”.

The firm also reminds us that it has some history here, and has been e-gaming for some time.

“Since 2011, with the first Dailymotion Cup on Starcraft, Dailymotion has accompanied e-sport growth on the internet,” said Martin Rogard, Dailymotion’s chief operating officer.

“Dailymotion Games is entirely dedicated to e-sports fans and streamers who come together every evening to form an amazingly talented and gregarious community.

“Over the coming months, we will significantly increase our investment in the e-sports domain to ensure worldwide recognition of all our talented content producers.”

Dailymotion said that live streamers will be able to monetise their content, which Microsoft recently confirmed is fine for its users, and that streamers could run their own “controlled video advertisement” and any number of social tools including search and real-time communications. Android and iOS apps are available.

The service is currently in beta. Dailymotion said that it serves some 180 million game videos a month.

 
Courtesy-TheInq