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Intel Shows Off New Hybrid Laptop Geared Towards Schools

April 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Intel unveiled a laptop-tablet hybrid with Windows 8.1 for the education market, where Chromebooks and tablets are also vying for customers.

The Intel Education 2-in-1 hybrid has a 10.1-inch screen that can detach from a keyboard base to turn into a tablet. Intel makes reference designs, which are then replicated by device makers and sold to educational institutions.

The 2-in-1 has a quad-core Intel Atom processor Z3740D, which is based on the Bay Trail architecture. The battery lasts about eight hours in tablet mode, and three more hours when docked with the keyboard base, which has a second battery.

Intel did not immediately return requests for comment on the estimated price for the hybrid or when it would become available.

Education is a hotly contested market among computer makers, as Apple pushes its iPads and MacBooks while PC makers like Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo hawk their Chromebooks.

Some features in the Intel 2-in-1 are drawn from the company’s Education tablets, which also run on Atom processors, but have the Android OS.

The 2-in-1 hybrid has front-facing and rear-facing cameras, and a snap-on magnification lens that allows students to examine items at a microscopic level.

The computer can withstand a drop of 70 centimeters, a feature added as protection for instances in which children mishandle laptops and let them fall. The keyboard base also has a handle.

The screen can be swiveled and placed on the keyboard, giving it the capability of a classic convertible laptop. This feature has been drawn from Intel’s Classmate series of education laptops.

The 2-in-1 has software intended to make learning easier, including tools for the arts and science. Intel’s Kno app provides access to 225,000 books. Typically, some of the books available via Kno are free, while others are fee-based.

 

 

BlackBerry Plans To Release Patch For ‘Heartbleed’ Vulnerability

April 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd said it will release security updates for messaging software for Android and iOS devices by Friday to address vulnerabilities in programs related to the “Heartbleed” security threat.

Researchers last week warned they uncovered Heartbleed, a bug that targets the OpenSSL software commonly used to keep data secure, potentially allowing hackers to steal massive troves of information without leaving a trace.

Security experts initially told companies to focus on securing vulnerable websites, but have since warned about threats to technology used in data centers and on mobile devices running Google Inc’s Android software and Apple Inc’s iOS software.

Scott Totzke, BlackBerry senior vice president, told Reuters on Sunday that while the bulk of BlackBerry products do not use the vulnerable software, the company does need to update two widely used products: Secure Work Space corporate email and BBM messaging program for Android and iOS.

He said they are vulnerable to attacks by hackers if they gain access to those apps through either WiFi connections or carrier networks.

Still, he said, “The level of risk here is extremely small,” because BlackBerry’s security technology would make it difficult for a hacker to succeed in gaining data through an attack.

“It’s a very complex attack that has to be timed in a very small window,” he said, adding that it was safe to continue using those apps before an update is issued.

Google spokesman Christopher Katsaros declined comment. Officials with Apple could not be reached.

Security experts say that other mobile apps are also likely vulnerable because they use OpenSSL code.

Michael Shaulov, chief executive of Lacoon Mobile Security, said he suspects that apps that compete with BlackBerry in an area known as mobile device management are also susceptible to attack because they, too, typically use OpenSSL code.

He said mobile app developers have time to figure out which products are vulnerable and fix them.

“It will take the hackers a couple of weeks or even a month to move from ‘proof of concept’ to being able to exploit devices,” said Shaulov.

Technology firms and the U.S. government are taking the threat extremely seriously. Federal officials warned banks and other businesses on Friday to be on alert for hackers seeking to steal data exposed by the Heartbleed bug.

Companies including Cisco Systems Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co, International Business Machines Corp, Intel Corp, Juniper Networks Inc, Oracle Corp Red Hat Inc have warned customers they may be at risk. Some updates are out, while others, like BlackBerry, are rushing to get them ready.

 

Did Cisco Help The Chinese Government Snoop?

April 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Cisco has been accused of helping the Chinese authorities snoop on, discriminate against and violently suppress the religious group Falun Gong.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has taken Cisco to task about this, and has filed a request to submit an amicus brief in a US District Court in California.

It asks the court to let the case “Doe vs Cisco Systems” go ahead, telling it that the firm has aided China’s human rights abuses.

“China’s record of human rights abuses against the Falun Gong is notorious, including detention, torture, forced conversions, and even deaths. These violations have been well-documented by the UN, the US State Department, and many others around the world, including documentation of China’s use of sophisticated surveillance technologies to facilitate this repression,” it said.

“The central claim in the case is that Cisco purposefully customized its general purpose router technology to allow the Chinese government to identify, track, and detain Falun Gong members.”

The EFF alleges that Cisco was asked to customize its kit so that the Chinese authorities could pick up Falun Gong ‘signatures’ and enable the logging and monitoring of traffic patterns.

Its lawsuit alleges that Cisco knew about this customization, knew that it would be used to repress the Falun Gong, and still marketed and supported the technologies “towards that purpose”.

“In fact, the case arises in part from the publication several years ago of a presentation in which Cisco confirms that the Golden Shield is helpful to the Chinese government to ‘Combat Falun Gong Evil Religion and Other Hostilities’,” adds the EFF.

“It also alleges that these customization’s were actually used to identify and detain the plaintiffs.”

Cisco has declined our request to comment on the views of the EFF and its lawsuit.

Courtesy-TheInq

Federal Gov’t Wants Instagram Data From Facebook Now

April 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook released its second government requests report covering the second half of 2013, and it expands its scope from the first one in two ways. First, it includes requests to restrict or remove users’ content from the site, whereas the first report was limited to requests for account information. And second, the report now includes data on Instagram, the photo sharing site owned by Facebook.

Facebook is not breaking out the number of Instagram requests; they’re included in the overall tallies. But Instagram’s inclusion speaks to the popularity of the service, which Facebook acquired in 2012 but didn’t include in its government requests report for the first half of 2013.

The report includes data on government requests to receive data about Instagram accounts and to restrict access to its content.

Facebook receives requests to restrict or remove content based on countries’ laws over what can be shared online. When the request is legally sound, Facebook restricts access to content in the specific country whose government objected to it. If Facebook also determines that the flagged content violates its own standards, it removes the content globally. Separately, Facebook also receives requests for account information and data, many of which relate to criminal cases such as robberies or kidnappings.

Facebook does not hand over data every time it receives a government request — sometimes the requests are overly broad or vague, or do not comply with legal standards, the company says.

In the U.S., Facebook received about 12,600 law enforcement requests in the second half of 2013, up from the range of 11,000-12,000 it tallied in its first report. For the second half of 2013, Facebook said it produced data for about 81 percent of the requests.

Regarding U.S. government requests about national security matters, Facebook reported it may have received none or as many as 999, saying it couldn’t be more specific due to U.S. legal restrictions.

Governments in other countries across the world are also interested in Facebook users’ data. India ranked second behind the U.S. with about 3,600 requests targeting more than 4,700 accounts. Facebook produced data for roughly half of those requests.

More than 1,900 requests came from the U.K., while the governments of France, Germany and Italy each served Facebook with more than 1,600 data requests.

Besides Facebook, other companies like Yahoo, Google and Microsoft periodically release their own government request reports, as part of an effort to be more transparent to users. The tallies have taken on increased significance following leaks about U.S. government surveillance made by former contractor Edward Snowden.

 

Amazon Rumored To Launch Smartphone In Time For Christmas Season

April 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Amazon.com Inc is making plans to unveil its long-rumored smartphone in the second half of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing people briefed on the company’s plans.

The Internet retailer would jump into a crowded market dominated by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

The company has recently been demonstrating versions of the handset to developers in San Francisco and Seattle. It intends to announce the device in June and ship to stores around the end of September, the newspaper cited the unidentified sources as saying.

Amazon has made great strides into the hardware arena as it seeks to boost sales of digital content and puts its online store in front of more users. Amazon recently launched its $99 Fire TV video-streaming box and its Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets already command respectable U.S. market share after just a few years on the market.

Rumors of an Amazon-designed smartphone have circulated for years, though executives have previously played down ambitions to leap into a heavily competitive and increasingly saturated market.

Apple and Samsung, which once accounted for the lion’s share of the smartphone market, are struggling to maintain margins as new entrants such as Huawei and Lenovo target the lower-income segment.

To stand out from the crowd, Amazon intends to equip its phones with screens that display three-dimensional images without a need for special glasses, the Journal said.

Amazon officials were not immediately available for comment.

 

Google Shows Interest In Service Robots, Invests In Savioke

April 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has put funding into robotic’s company Savioke, which plans to develop a robot that could work in places such as nursing homes and hospitals.

The search engine’s funding arm, Google Ventures, invested an undisclosed sum that’s part of a $2 million seed financing package led by Morado Venture Partners, with AME Cloud Ventures and individuals also pitching in.

Established in 2013, California-based Savioke is led by CEO Steve Cousins, who was in charge of the creation of the PR2 robot and the popular Robot Operating System (ROS) while president and CEO of Willow Garage, an influential robotics firm that spun off eight robotics companies.

Savioke did not give details about its plans to develop a service robot, but said the machine would use the open-source ROS and customer trials would begin later this year.

Its website describes its aspiration to bring robotics to “hotels, elder care facilities, hospitals, restaurants…anywhere people sleep or eat.”

“We see tremendous opportunity by delivering a robot for the services industry,” Cousins wrote in an email. “In the coming months, the information and feedback we receive from our trials will help us determine our first point of entry.”

Google did not immediately respond to a request for information about the investment.

With former Android chief Andy Rubin leading its interest in robotics, the search engine has been on a shopping spree for robot companies lately.

It has acquired such firms as Japan-based Schaft, which developed a full-size bipedal humanoid robot that won the prestigious DARPA Robotics Challenge trials in December 2013. The challenge is sponsored by the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an arm of the Department of Defense.

The jewel in Google’s robot crown, however, is Boston Dynamics, a military contractor known for creating both humanoid machines such as the Terminator-like Atlas, and robots inspired by animals, such as BigDog, a cargo-carrying machine funded by DARPA.

Google CEO Larry Page has speculated that Rubin’s robot project could succeed like Android.

 

Lenovo Says More Low-priced Android Tablets Coming In May

April 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

More lower priced Android tablets ranging from $129 to $249 are coming from Lenovo.

The new Tab A-series tablets, which will ship next month, have screen sizes ranging from 7-10 inches and are designed for Web surfing and home entertainment, Lenovo said. Other than screen sizes and weight, the tablets have mostly identical features.

The cheapest tablet in the lineup is the Tab A7-50, which weighs 320 grams and starts at $129. The TAB A8 weighs 360 grams and is priced starting at $179. The Tab A10 is much heftier at 560 grams, but has a larger battery that offers a Wi-Fi browsing time of eight hours, Lenovo said in a specification sheet.

All the tablets have screens that can display images at a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. The tablets have Android 4.2, code-named Jelly Bean, which will be upgradeable to version 4.4, code-named KitKat.

Common features also include Wi-Fi b/g/n, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and an SD card slot for up to 32GB of expandable storage. The tablets have a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel rear camera. Another feature is integrated 3G mobile broadband, though Lenovo did not say whether it was included in the price or is optional.

The tablets will ship in the U.S. Lenovo did not immediately provide information about shipment plans for other countries.

Lenovo offers a range of tablets for Android and Windows 8.1, with models starting at $99. The company is trying to create brands around Android-based Yoga tablets, which are being promoted by actor Ashton Kutcher, and ThinkPad tablets, which run on Windows.

 

Security Bug In OpenSSL Leaves Webservers Vulnerable

April 10, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A critical security bug in OpenSSL that allows encrypted data to be stolen by hackers has been uncovered by researchers and is believed to have exposed millions to cyber spying.

Dubbed Heartbleed, the bug was discoverd in a software library used in servers, operating systems and email and instant messaging systems and allows anyone to read the memory of systems using vulnerable versions of OpenSSL software.

OpenSSL is an open source implementation of the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols by which email, instant messaging, and some VPNs are kept secure.

The vulnerability is called Heartbleed because it’s in the OpenSSL implementation of the TLS/DTLS heartbeat extension described in RFC6520, and when it is exploited it can lead to leaks of memory contents from the server to the client and from the client to the server.

The researchers from defense security firm Codenomicon said that attackers could take advantage of the bug to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from server or client systems, and impersonate users and servers.

“This compromises the secret keys used to identify service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content,” the researchers wrote on a website dedicated to the bug.

“Without using any privileged information or credentials, we were able to steal from ourselves the secret keys used for our X.509 certificates, user names and passwords, instant messages, emails and business critical documents and communication.”

Because such attacks are not traceable, it’s not clear how widespread the bug is or was, but it is thought that at least two-thirds of websites could be affected, as the most notable software using OpenSSL are the open source webservers Apache and nginx.

The researchers pointed out that the combined market share of those two webservers was over 66 percent of the active websites on the internet, according to Netcraft’s Web Server Survey released this month.

“You are likely to be affected either directly or indirectly. OpenSSL is the most popular open source cryptographic library and TLS implementation used to encrypt traffic on the Internet,” the researchers added.

“Your popular social site, your company’s site, commerce site, hobby site, site you install software from or even sites run by your government might be using vulnerable OpenSSL. Furthermore you might have client side software on your computer that could expose the data from your computer if you connect to compromised services.”

Although an updated version of OpenSSL has been released to patch this security vulnerability, it might take time before some operating system developers and software distributions deploy it.

“Recovery from this leak requires patching the vulnerability, revocation of the compromised keys and reissuing and redistributing new keys,” the researchers said. “Even doing all this will still leave any traffic intercepted by the attacker in the past vulnerable to decryption.”

Courtesy-TheInq

 

nVidia Updates Shield

April 10, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nvidia certainly did one thing right with the Shield gaming console. It has learned that users of such devices really like continuous and regular updates that add features and functionality to their devices.

The effort probably would not be worth it, given the limited number of Shield consoles in the wild, but it demonstrates that Nvidia is committed to the concept. Shield today sells for a rather attractive $199 and offers Gamstream support on your home network as long as you have a 5GHz capable router.

With the latest April Update, Nvidia is offering remote Gamestream support. This is good news but we still have to try this in the field in order to make some conclusion about it. Let’s not forget that Nvidia lets you use the Shield in console mode, playing your games on a big screen TV as long as you have the necessary Bluetooth controller. Grid gaming works for some users depending on the region, with California as the epicentre, but this functionality was enabled before the April update. It is required that your ping stays below 150ms and Nvidia will let you try out a dozen games for free. We tried it and it works nice, as long as you don’t get too far away from the 5G router.

The Shield April update also brings mouse and keyboard support in console mode, and it will make your life easier playing Civilisation V, World of Warcraft and similar games from your couch. Nvidia also updated Game touch mapper making it easier to map your favourite touch based games. You can also download predefined settings from the community profiles. The full support for Android 4.4.2 KitKat is certainly a nice addition. Andrew Conrad, Nvidia tech guy and gaming nerd, the face of Nvidia gaming for the new generation also confirms that Gamestream on the go will work via WiFi, tether, MiFi or Hotspot internet connection.

As we already pointed out, Nvidia is clearly putting a lot of effort into Shield on the software front. This is not always the case with niche products, but Shield is part of a much wider strategy that revolves around streaming, blurring the lines between different platforms. Whether or not upcoming generations of the console can gain a mainstream following remains to be seen.

Courtesy-Fud

New App Aids in Making You Look Slimmer in ‘Selfies’

April 9, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A new app that allows its users to shed virtual weight so their faces appear slimmer on “selfie” photos is raising concerns about health and body-image issues.

SkinneePix, for iPhone and Android devices, can trim from five to 15 pounds (2-6 kg) of virtual fat for a slimmer selfie look.

“Cameras add additional weight to photos and when you’re taking a selfie you’re also dealing with bad lighting, angles, close-ups and a lot of other factors that make people complain that the photo isn’t an accurate representation of themselves,” said Susan Green, co-founder of the Phoenix-based company Pretty Smart Women that created the app.

It was originally designed to help overweight adults show a leaner version of themselves, but Robin J Phillips, the other co-founder, said the app has also motivated people to lose weight.

“It’s a good reminder to get off the couch, turn the TV off, and go for a walk,” she said.

But some critics fear the $1.99 app, which only works on single head shots, could encourage an unhealthy body image.

Lauren Dickson, a social worker in the eating disorders and addiction clinic at the Center of Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, said the app is one of many factors that could contribute towards a young adult developing an eating disorder.

“The media obviously has some effect on people developing eating disorders, but it’s not the only variable. It’s one of many factors,” she said in an interview.

“The majority of young girls wouldn’t develop an eating disorder because of an app like this, but some might be more vulnerable and it could contribute,” Dickson added.

Green said the virtual weight loss in the app is capped at 15 pounds and the app focuses only on the face and not the entire body.

“We definitely understand that people can have body image problems and we’re not trying to contribute to that in any way,” she said.

“I think if someone who is very thin uses it and goes straight for 15 (pounds), then that’s probably not the best thing, but they could also do that in Photoshop,” Green added.

Other apps can also add or remove weight, including one called FatBooth.

 

HTC First Quarter Losses Steeper Than Anticipated

April 8, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Taiwan based mobile phone maker HTC Corp posted a first-quarter loss that was bigger than analyst estimates, after ineffective marketing resulted in weak sales of its former flagship model.

The HTC One spent its year at the top of the product line receiving rave reviews but was undermined by advertising widely criticized as confusing, sending the company’s market share into freefall.

HTC was once a firm third to Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, selling 10 percent of smartphones globally two years ago, but it ended 2013 with a market share of just 2 percent, showed data from researcher Strategy Analytics.

The company started 2014 by booking a net loss of T$1.88 billion ($62.06 million) for January-March. That compared with a mean loss of T$1.59 billion estimated by 18 analysts polled by Reuters, and profit of T$85 million logged a year earlier.

Revenue fell 22.6 percent to T$33.12 billion, the company said in a statement on Monday.

HTC, however, broke 28 months of on-year revenue declines with a rise of 2.16 percent in March, and said it expected to return to profit in the second quarter thanks in part to the late-March release of its upgraded flagship, the HTC One M8.

Shares of HTC have fallen 38 percent over the past year, compared with a 12 percent rise in the Taiwan Stock Exchange Weighted Index. Ahead of the release, they closed up 3.6 percent versus the benchmark’s 0.1 percent loss.

The former contract manufacturer released a series of mid-range smartphones in recent weeks, predicting cheaper phones in emerging markets will help it return to profit this year.

It has also launched a partnership with search engine giant Google Inc to manufacture smart watches.

But it is the new flagship HTC One M8 that the company hopes will help it reestablish itself as a challenger to market leaders Apple and Samsung.

“The M8 is good, but it’s not as revolutionary as the previous flagship,” said Yuanta Securities analyst Dennis Chan. “Everyone is watching the second quarter to see how it sells.”

Tech website CNET.com awarded the phone four and a half stars out of five, calling it “a stunning sequel” to last year’s HTC One – a phone whose equally strong reviews were not matched by marketing and so did not translate into strong sales.

The new flagship could be in for a similarly rough sales ride as smartphone growth globally is likely to slow this year to 19 percent from 39 percent in 2013, and taper off over the next few years, showed data from researcher IDC.

As smartphones mature and technological upgrades become more incremental, analysts say even more importance will be placed on marketing and brand image – an area Chairwoman Cher Wang admitted HTC “didn’t do well” last year.

To distinguish itself to trend-conscious consumers, HTC must learn from Apple, whose innovative brand image and marketing strategy has won plaudits, said Taipei-based brand consultant Mark Stocker.

“Mimic them, but figure out what your brand stands for,” said Stocker. “If Apple is Mercedes Benz, try to make yourself BMW.”

 

Americans Concerned About Personal Privacy Erosion, Says Survey

April 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The personal data gathering abilities of Google,Facebook and other technology giants has sparked growing unease among Americans, with a majority worried that Internet companies are encroaching too much upon their lives, a new poll showed.

Google and Facebook generally topped lists of Americans’ concerns about the ability to track physical locations and monitor spending habits and personal communications, according to a poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos from March 11 to March 26.

The survey highlights a growing ambivalence towards Internet companies whose popular online services, such as social networking, e-commerce and search, have blossomed into some of the world’s largest businesses.

Now, as the boundaries between Web products and real world services begin to blur, many of the top Internet companies are racing to put their stamp on everything from homeappliances to drones and automobiles.

With billions of dollars in cash, high stock prices, and an appetite for more user data, Google, Facebook, Amazon and others are acquiring a diverse set of companies and launching ambitious technology projects.

But their grand ambitions are inciting concern, according to the poll of nearly 5,000 Americans. Of 4,781 respondents, 51 percent replied “yes” when asked if those three companies, plus Apple, Microsoft and Twitter, were pushing too far and expanding into too many areas of people’s lives.

This poll measures accuracy using a credibility interval and is accurate to plus or minus 1.6 percentage points.

“It’s very accurate to say that many people have love-hate relationships with some of their technology providers,” said Nuala O’Connor, the President of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet public policy group which has received funding from companies including Google, Amazon and Microsoft.

“As technology moves forward, as new technologies are in use and in people’s lives, they should question ‘Is this a fair deal between me and the device?’”

Fears about the expanding abilities of tech companies crystallized when Google acknowledged in 2010 that its fleet of StreetView cars, which criss-cross the globe taking panoramic photos for Google’s online mapping service, had inadvertently collected emails and other personal information transmitted over unencrypted home wireless networks.

Yet many Americans remain ignorant of the extent to which Internet companies are trying to extend their reach.

Google is one of the most aggressively ambitious, investing in the connected home through its $3.2 billion acquisition of smart thermostat maker Nest. Google is also investing in self-driving cars, augmented-reality glasses, robots and drones.

Almost a third of Americans say they know nothing about plans by Google and its rivals to get into real-world products such as phones, cars and appliances. Still, roughly two thirds of respondents are already worried about what Internet companies will do with the personal information they collect, or how securely they store the data.

 

Yahoo To Encrypt Traffic Between Data Centers, Thanks To NSA Snooping

April 4, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo said it began encrypting traffic between its various data centers, several months after leaked documents revealed the government had been sniffing those links.

Traffic moving between Yahoo data centers is fully encrypted as of March 31, the company announced on its Tumblr blog. Last October, documents provided by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden said the NSA had penetrated the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google’s data centers.

Though it comes after those revelations, the encrypted data links is in keeping with a previous promise by CEO Marissa Mayer to encrypt all information between its data centers by the end of March.

Yahoo said that it had also turned on encryption for a range of other services. For one, encryption of mail between its servers and other mail providers that support the SMTPLS standard was enabled in the last month, the company said. Yahoo only just turned on encryption by default between users and its email service in January.

Yahoo said its homepage and all search queries that run on it and most other Yahoo properties now also have HTTPS encryption enabled by default.

But if users want an encrypted session for Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance or Good Morning America on Yahoo, they must manually type “https” into the site’s URL on their browsers, Yahoo said.

Yahoo has faced pressure to encrypt more of its services for years. In 2012, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other privacy activists called on CEO Marissa Mayer to enable HTTPS encryption for the company’s communications services. Yahoo began offering HTTPS encryption for mail in 2012, but on an opt-in basis.

Since then other companies like Google and Facebook have introduced more forms of encryption.

Last month, another leak of documents said that GCHQ, Britain’s surveillance agency, had captured webcam images from more than 1.8 million users of Yahoo’s Messenger product.

Yahoo said Wednesday that a new, encrypted version of Messenger would be rolled out in the coming months.

It said it was also working to bring more enhanced forms of encryption like Perfect Forward Secrecy, which is already supported for global properties like the homepage, to all of its sites.

Alex Stamos, chief information security officer at Yahoo, said the company had been working over the last several months to provide a more secure experience for its users. “Our broader mission is to not only make Yahoo secure, but improve the security of the overall web ecosystem,” he said.

 

Microsoft Announces Give Away Of Windows For Tablets, Phones

April 4, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft Corp announced plans to give away its Windows operating system to makers of smartphones and small tablets for consumers as it seeks to make more of an impact on those fast-growing markets and counter the massive success of Google Inc’s free Android platform.

Microsoft’s, plans which were unveiled at its annual developers conference in San Francisco, is an attempt to broaden the small user base of mobile versions of Windows, in the hope that more customers will end up using Microsoft’s money-making, cloud-based services such as Skype and Office.

Up to now, Microsoft has charged phone and tablet makers between $5 and $15 per device to use its Windows system, as it has done successfully at higher prices for many years with Windows on personal computers. Hardware makers factor the cost of that into the sale price of each device.

That model has been obliterated in the past few years by the fast adoption of Google’s Android system for phones and tablets, which hardware makers quickly embraced and now accounts for more than 75 percent of all smartphones sold last year. Apple Inc’s iPhone and iPad account for most of the rest of the mobile computing market.

By contrast, Windows-powered phones held only 3 percent of the global smartphone market last year. Windows tablets have only about 2 percent of the tablet market, according to tech research firm Gartner.

Microsoft’s move to make Windows free for some consumer devices bucks a central tenet of Bill Gates’ original philosophy, that software should be paid for, which led to Microsoft’s massive financial success over the last four decades. But analysts said it is a realistic reaction to the runaway success of free Android.

“Microsoft is facing challenges on the mobile and tablet fronts and need to change their strategy to move the growth needle, this is a good and logical first step,” said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets.

Windows will be free for companies making phones and tablets with screen sizes under nine inches for the consumer market. A license fee will still apply for business devices.

It comes a week after new Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella unveiled new versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel applications for Apple Inc’s iPad. A year’s free subscription to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 service will be offered on the new devices running the free Windows, Microsoft said.

Both moves show that Microsoft is now more interested in gaining market share for its cloud-based services such as Office on any platform or device, rather than its traditional approach of putting Windows at the center of everything it does and extending its influence from there.

In the new era of mobile computing, Nadella acknowledged Microsoft’s underdog status.

“We are going to innovate with a challenger mindset,” said Nadella in a question and answer session at the developer conference. “We are not coming at this as some incumbent trying to do the next version of Windows, we are going to come at this by innovating in every dimension.”

 

Intel To Offer Exclusive Content For Devices Built Around Its Chips

April 3, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

After trailing ARM in the mobile processor market, Intel plans to change strategies by creating exclusive content for devices built around its chips.

More details about the exclusives will be shared during the Intel Developer Forum in Shenzhen, China. But Intel’s software chief Doug Fisher said the U.S. chipmaker wants to work “hand in hand” with vendors to develop unique content within a game or product.

The partnerships could even result in building entire software products exclusive to Intel chips, he added.

The company is trying to distinguish itself, as ARM chips remain the most commonly used processors in smartphones and tablets. Over the last four years, Intel has responded by building more power-efficient mobile processors, and optimizing Google’s Android OS for its chips.

“That’s not sufficient, we want to differentiate,” Fisher said in an interview on Wednesday. One area in which the company said it can excel is graphics, creating more detailed backgrounds in games. Another is in better multi-tasking for Android devices.

Intel is poised to make a breakthrough in the mobile processor market, Fisher said. The company has the goal of shipping 40 million Intel-powered tablet devices in 2014, four times more than the previous year.

To help bring more Intel-powered devices to the market, the U.S. chipmaker is tapping China’s tech hub of Shenzhen, a major center for electronics manufacturing. On Wednesday, Intel announced it would establish a center in Shenzhen devoted to helping vendors create mobile devices with the company’s chips.

Intel will also fund Chinese product development on tablets, smartphones and wearables with $100 million from its venture capital arm.

One area where Intel is noticing some innovation is vendors bringing Android to larger devices, including PCs. But Fisher said it’s still too early to say whether Android PCs have a future, given that Google is also pushing notebooks running its Chrome OS.

“We don’t care as long as it runs on Intel,” he added.