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Microsoft Acquires 3D Data Modeling Firm Simplygon

January 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft is taking a chance that less is more in 3D design, with the purchase of the Swedish developer of a 3D data optimization system, Simplygon.

Simplygon takes 3D models in a number of formats, and reduces the volume of data used to describe them by taking out some of the detail — somewhat like reducing the size of a JPEG image file by increasing the level of compression while leaving the resolution unchanged.

That means the models can be rendered more rapidly or with less powerful hardware, something that will help Microsoft with the “3D for everyone” vision it outlined last October at the launch of Windows 10 Creators Update.

The company is pushing hard into the markets for virtual reality, with a U.S.$300 consumer VR headset for PCs due out as early as March, and augmented reality, where it is seeking to build an ecosystem around Hololens, its enterprise-oriented stand-alone AR headset.

3D models, whether for video games, architectural rendering, or viewing in augmented or virtual reality, are typically composed of many adjoining flat surfaces, or polygons. The more polygons that are used, the better the model is able to represent complex curved surfaces — but the more memory and processing power it takes to render, or draw on the screen.

Simplygon works best with rendering engines that use a similar density of polygons throughout, simplifying the model to describe flatter parts with fewer polygons, while retaining more polygons in more complex areas, so that they don’t look blocky.

Using this technique, the company says it can reduce the number of polygons used in a model by up to 90 percent, while still retaining the essential details and shape.

For Kudo Tsunoda, corporate vice president for next-gen experiences in Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, the acquisition will make it easier for Windows users to capture, create, and share 3D models.

“It builds on and extends our aspirations to empower a new wave of creativity with the Windows 10 Creators Update, Paint 3D and our online creator community at Remix3D.com,” he said in a post on Microsoft’s blog announcing the deal.

Simplygon was developed by 10-year-old Donya Labs, based in Linköping, Sweden. CEO Matt Connors, founder and CTO Ulrik Lindahl and co-founder Koshi Hamedi will join Microsoft following the acquisition, according to the companies’ websites. They did not provide information about the terms of the deal.

The biggest market for Simplygon is in 3D game design, where it was used by the developer of the game Submerge to reduce the size of models designed for PCs and consoles when the game was ported to iOS.

Is EA Slowing Moving Away From Appearing At E3

January 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

It would appear that the trend of big publishers hosting their own events will continue in 2017. Last year’s E3 show floor was missing booths from the likes of Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, Disney and Wargaming. For its part, EA decided it could better serve the fans by hosting its own event next door to E3, and now the publisher has confirmed that EA Play will be making a return for the second year in a row, but it won’t be as close to the Los Angeles Convention Center.

EA Play will be held from June 10-12 at the Hollywood Palladium, which is around seven miles away. “Whether in person or online, EA Play 2017 will connect fans around the world to EA’s biggest new games through live broadcasts, community content, competitions and more. Those that can attend in Hollywood will experience hands-on gameplay, live entertainment and much more. For anyone joining digitally around the world, EA Play will feature livestreams, deeper looks into EA’s upcoming games and experiences, and content from some of the best creators in the community,” the company stated in a press release.

Furthermore, a spokesperson confirmed to GamesIndustry.biz that EA will indeed be skipping out on having a major E3 presence. “EA Play was such a powerful platform for us last year to connect with our player community. We learned a ton, and we wanted to build on everything we loved about last year’s event to make EA Play 2017 even better,” EA corporate communications VP John Reseburg said.

“So after an extensive search, we’ve selected the Hollywood Palladium as a place where we can bring our vision of creativity, content and storytelling to life, and build an even more powerful experience to connect with players, community leaders, media and partners. EA Play 2017 will originate from Hollywood, with more ways for players around the world to connect and experience the excitement.”

It’ll be interesting to see what the other major publishers do about E3 this year. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Apple Release Three New Tablets This Year?

January 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple has decided that the reason that people are not buying its tablets is because they don’t have enough over-priced versions available.

To fix this problem Apple is planning to release three more tablets which contain all the same features you can find in cheaper Chinese Tablets at half the price.

According to Digitimes Apple will release three new tablets for 2017, a 9.7-inch iPad, a 10.5-inch iPad, and an upgraded 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The 9.7-inch model expected to enter mass production in the first quarter followed by the other two in the second.

It is odd really as Apple was thought to want to kill off the 9.7 inch pad and replace it with the 10.5-inch iPad. However not it seems that it wants to make the 9.7-inch iPad become an entry-level device. It can then flog these to corrupt or stupid school managers who don’t know that they can save their schools cash by going elsewhere .

There will be a few supply changes too. Apple will also procure components from its secondary suppliers for its new 9.7-inch iPad and Korea-based Seoul Semiconductor will supply LED for the device instead of the existing 9.7-inch iPad’s supplier Nichia.

The 10.5-inch iPad and 12.9-inch iPad Pro will get an A10X processor, but that is pretty much anyone knows for now. Our guess is that it will look pretty much like a tablet, have a similar price tag and be even more ignored than the current batch.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Acquires Simplygon For 3D Technology

January 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft and tools firm Simplygon have today announced that Simplygon is joining the Redmond, Washington-based software giant. Kudo Tsunoda, Corporate Vice President, Next Gen Experiences, Windows and Devices Group, announced the purchase today on the official Microsoft blog.

“Simplygon’s technology and talent will strengthen our position in 3D creation, making it easier to capture, create and share in 3D. It builds on and extends our aspirations to empower a new wave of creativity with the Windows 10 Creators Update, Paint 3D and our online creator community at Remix3D.com,” Tsunoda said.

Simplygon CEO Matt Connors, Founder & CTO Ulrik Lindahl, and Co-Founder Koshi Hamedi added in a statement: “Throughout our journey, we’ve been laser focused on helping developers push the boundaries of 3D. From our early days delivering advanced level-of-detail solutions, to the adoption of Simplygon SDK by most leading AAA game development studios, and our more recent expansion into enterprise AR/VR, Simplygon has made automatic 3D data-optimization

“Our next challenge is 3D For Everyone, the ultimate accessibility! We’re thrilled to join forces with Microsoft to make this happen.”

Simplygon was founded in 2006 by Swedish firm Donya Labs AB and its tools have been used to streamline assets and scene optimization in numerous AAA titles, including The Witcher 3, Forza Horizon, Hellblade, Paragon, Everest VR, Eve Valkyrie, Conan Exiles and PlayStation VR experiences as well.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed by Microsoft.

 

Courtesy-GI.biz

Will Windows 10 Redstone 2 Debut In April?

January 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

It is looking fairly certain that Windows 10’s second major update will be released in April.

The update codenamed Redstone 2 “The Empire Strikes Back” release date has been leaked by Microsoft’s chums Dell and Fitbit. Dell and Fitbit both posted the update news on their forums. Vole has yet to confirm them itself.

Dell made the announcement earlier, and effectively squashed rumors that the new update would be happening in March.

Fitbit said: “We’re excited to announce that Fitbit will be introducing support for tracker notifications (Call, SMS, Calendar and third party apps) and Connected GPS for all Windows users on the Windows 10 Creators Update coming in April.”

It looks like the final version could be 1704, which also tells us the release date. The first two digits representing the year and the other two pointing to the month and in this case the fourth month of 2017. Insiders will be the first to receive the Creators Update.

It is possible that the launch will coincide with the release of the Surface Pro 5 and the Surface Book 2 which are both expected around that time.

Courtesy-Fud

Is TSMC Coming To The U.S.?

January 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company held its most recent investors conference on January 12th, during which company officials said that it has not ruled out the possibility of building a facility in the US as a response to recent nationalistic pleas to restore American manufacturing jobs.

During the investors conference, company chairman Morris Chang said that fabricating chips in the US “may not necessarily be a good thing,” though the option is still under preliminary consideration. He indicated that the foundry is already helping to create jobs in the US by allowing integrated device manufacturers to succeed on a global scale and expand their operations.

TSMC also disclosed that revenues from customers based in North America accounted for 65 percent of its total wafer revenues in 2016. It projects revenues to stay about 60 percent this year, says Chang.

A shift back to US manufacturing

In late November, US president-elect Donald Trump stated that one of his biggest achievements would be to restore the decades-long decline in US manufacturing employment by relocating jobs from the self-reinforcing “supply chain cluster” of Asian manufacturing firms back to US shores. During his campaign, he declared the promise of a 35 percent tariff levied against products including the iPhone that are manufactured overseas, signaling an incentive for moving jobs back into the hands of blue collar American service occupations.

According to the most recent December 2016 jobs report from Glassdoor.com, TSMC pays its principal engineers a monthly salary of about NT$65,833 ($2,084), while senior engineers get NT$57,783 ($1,829), process engineers get NT$45,014 ($1,425), regular engineers get NT$44,517 ($1,408), and interns get NT$26,250 ($831).

TSMC is not the only foundry considering a facility in the US. Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Company) released a statement to IBTimes in December confirming its exploration of expanding in the US. Back in November 2012, Foxconn had previously gone on record and denied reports considering plans to establish a plant in the US near Detroit or Los Angeles. The manufacturer of an estimated 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronic devices said it had already established several facilities in the US and did not have plans to expand at the time.

Then there are companies such as Pegatron, which have declined to formulate such a migration plan due to cost concerns. A 35 percent tariff increase would likely be passed on to consumers, raising the $649 base price of an iPhone to around $876.

Courtesy-Fud

Can The Xbox One S Succeed Without Exclusives?

January 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

As with many game cancellations, it’s likely we’ll never know exactly why Platinum Games’ Xbox One exclusive Scalebound has been dropped by Microsoft. For a game that’s been in development for several years at a top-flight studio, helmed by one of the most accomplished directors working in the industry today, to be cancelled outright is a pretty big deal. Even acknowledging that most of the cost of launching a game lies in marketing budgets, not development costs, this still represents writing off a fairly huge financial investment – not to mention the hard-to-quantify costs to the image and reputation of the Xbox brand. This isn’t the kind of decision that’s made rapidly or taken lightly – and though the reasons remain obscure, we can guess that a mix of factors was considered.

For one thing, it’s fairly likely that the game wasn’t living up to expectations. Scalebound was ambitious, combining unusual RPG aspects with a style of action Platinum Games (usually masters of the action genre) hadn’t attempted before, and throwing four-player co-op into the mix as well. There are a lot of things in that mix that could go wrong; plenty of fundamental elements that just might not gel well, that might look good on paper but ultimately fail to provide the kind of compelling, absorbing experience a AAA console exclusive needs. These things happen, even to the most talented of creative teams and directors.

For another thing, though, it’s equally likely that Microsoft’s decision stems in part from some issues internal to the publisher. Since Scalebound went into development in 2013, the Xbox division has been on a long, strange journey, and has ended up in a very different place to the one it anticipated when it inked its deal with Platinum three years ago. When Microsoft signed on to publish Scalebound, it was gearing up to launch an ambitious successor to the hugely successful Xbox 360 which would, it believed, expand upon the 360’s audience by being an all-purpose entertainment box, a motion-controlled device as much media hub and high-tech TV viewing system as game console.

By the time Scalebound was cancelled this week, much of that ambition had been scrapped, PS4 had soared off into the sunset leaving Microsoft trailing in a very distant second place, and Xbox One has become instead one link in a longer chain, a single component of an Xbox and Xbox Live brand and platform that extends across the Windows 10 ecosystem and which will, later this year, also encompass a vastly upgraded console in the form of Scorpio.

It only stands to reason that the logic which led to the signing of a game before this upheaval would no longer apply in the present environment. While quality issues around Scalebound cannot be dismissed – if Microsoft felt that it had a truly great game on its hands, it would have proceeded with it regardless of any strategic calculation – the implications of Scalebound’s cancellation for the broader Xbox strategy are worthy of some thought. Actually, it’s not so much Scalebound itself – which is just one game, albeit a very high profile one – as the situation in which its cancellation leaves the Xbox in 2017, and the dramatic defocusing of exclusive software which the removal of Scalebound from the release list throws into sharp relief.

A quick glance down 2017’s release calendar suggests that there remain only two major Xbox One exclusive titles due to launch this year – Halo Wars 2 and Crackdown 3. The console remains well supported with cross-platform releases, of course, but in terms of reasons for a player to choose Xbox One over the more successful PS4, or indeed for an existing PS4 owner to invest in an Xbox One as a second console (a vital and often overlooked factor in growing the install base mid-cycle), things are very sparse. By contrast, the PS4 has a high profile exclusive coming out just about every few weeks – many of them from Sony’s first-party studios, but plenty of others coming from third parties. Platinum Games’ fans will note, no doubt, that Sony’s console will be getting a new title from the studio – NieR: Automata – only a few months after Scalebound’s cancellation.

The proliferation of multiplatform games means that Xbox One owners won’t be starved of software – this is no Wii U situation. Existing owners, and those who bought into the platform after the launch of the Xbox One S last year, will probably be quite happy with their system, but the fact remains that with the exception of the two titles mentioned above and a handful of indie games (some of which do look good), the Xbox One this year is going to get by on a subset of the PS4’s release schedule.

That’s not healthy for the future of the platform. The strong impression is that third parties have largely abandoned Xbox One as a platform worth launching exclusive games on, and unlike Sony during the PS3’s catch-up era, Microsoft’s own studios and publishing deals have not come forward to take up the slack in its console’s release schedule. This isn’t all down to Scalebound, of course; Scalebound is just the straw that breaks the camel’s back, making this situation impossible to ignore.

Why have things ended up this way? There are two possible answers, and the reality is probably a little from column A and a little from column B. The first answer is that Microsoft’s strategy for Xbox has changed in a way which makes high-profile (and high-cost) exclusive software less justifiable within the company. That’s especially true of high-profile games that won’t be on Windows 10 as well as Xbox One; one of the ways in which the Xbox division has secured its future within Microsoft in the wake of the company’s reorganisation under CEO Satya Nadella is by positioning itself as a key part of the Windows 10 ecosystem.

Pushing Xbox One exclusive software flies in the face of that strategic positioning; new titles Microsoft lines up for the future will be cross-platform between Windows and Xbox, and that changes publishing priorities. It’s also worth noting that the last attempt Microsoft made to plug the gap in its exclusive software line-up didn’t go down so well and hasn’t been repeated; paying for a 12-month exclusivity window for the sequel to the (multiplatform) Tomb Raider reboot just seems to have annoyed people and didn’t sell a notable number of Xbox Ones.

The second answer, unsurprisingly, revolves around Scorpio. It’s not unusual for a console to suffer a software drought before its successor appears on the market, so with Scorpio presumably being unveiled at E3 this year, the Xbox One release list could be expected to dry up. The wrinkle in this cloth is that Scorpio isn’t meant to be an Xbox One replacement. What little information Microsoft has provided about the console thus far has been careful to position it as an evolution of the Xbox One platform, not a new system. What that means in practice, though, hasn’t been explained or explored. Microsoft’s messaging on Scorpio is similar to the positioning of PS4 Pro – an evolutionary upgrade whose arrival made no difference to software release schedules – but at the same time suggests a vastly more powerful system, one whose capabilities will far outstrip those of Xbox One to an extent more reminiscent of a generational leap than an evolutionary upgrade.

The question is whether Microsoft’s anaemic slate of exclusive releases is down, in part, to a focus on getting big titles ready for Scorpio’s launch window. If so, it feels awfully like confirmation that Scorpio – though no doubt sharing Xbox One’s architecture and thus offering perfect backwards compatibility – is really a new console with new exclusive software to match. If it’s not the case, however, then along with clearing up the details of Scorpio, this year’s E3 will have to answer another big question for Microsoft; where is all your software?

2017 needs to just be a temporary dip in the company’s output, or all its efforts on Scorpio will be for naught. Seamus Blackley, Ed Fries, Kevin Bachus and the rest of the original Xbox launch team understood something crucial all the way back in the late nineties when they were preparing to enter Microsoft into the console business; software sells hardware. If you don’t have the games, nothing else matters. Whatever the reasons for 2017’s weak offering from Xbox, we must firmly hope that that lesson hasn’t been forgotten in the corridors of Redmond.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Microsoft To End Detailed Security Bulletins

January 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft discontinue issuing detailed security bulletins in February, which for nearly 20 years have provided individual users and IT professionals information about vulnerabilities and their patches.

One patching expert crossed his fingers that Microsoft would make good on its pledge to publish the same information when it switches to a new online database. “I’m on the fence right now,” said Chris Goettl, product manager with patch management vendor Shavlik, of the demise of bulletins. “We’ll have to see [the database] in February before we know how well Microsoft has done [keeping its promise].”

Microsoft announced the demise of bulletins in November, saying then that the last would be posted with January’s Patch Tuesday — the monthly round of security updates for Windows and other Microsoft software — and that the new process would kick in on Feb. 14, next month’s patch day.

The web-based bulletins have been a feature of Microsoft’s patch disclosure policies since at least 1998, and for almost as long have been considered the professional benchmark by security experts.

 A searchable database of support documents will replace the bulletins; that database has been available, albeit in preview, since November on the portal Microsoft dubbed the “Security Updates Guide,” or SUG.

The documents stored in the database are specific to a vulnerability on an edition of Windows, or a version of another Microsoft product. They can be sorted and filtered by the affected software, the patch’s release date, its CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) identifier, and the numerical label of the KB, or “knowledge base” support document.

“Our customers have asked for better access to update information, as well as easier ways to customize their view to serve a diverse set of needs,” wrote an unnamed member of the Microsoft Security Response Center in November to explain the switch from bulletins to database.

Can AMD Launch Ryzen This Quarter?

January 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD indicated that the official Ryzen launch date will be sometime before March.

While they haven’t specifically given an exact date, a talk to be given by AMD at the annual Game Developer Conference (GDC) says the following: “Join AMD Game Engineering team members for an introduction to the recently-launched AMD Ryzen CPU followed by advanced optimisation topics.”

Obviously for this to be the subject of the talk Ryzen would have had to be recently launched which means that it is probably timed for that week.

GDC event runs from 27 February to 3 March and has not been put on the schedule yet and it could appear any day during the event.

AMD has not disclosed an exact date either, launching the new set of Ryzen CPUs right in the middle of both GDC and Mobile World Congress would be insane as the news would end up being buried under other GDC and smartphone announcements.

It would make sense to do it the week before all that, if not two.

Courtesy-Fud

MediaTek Has A Strong Quarter

January 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek, the fabless semiconductor company from Taiwan that provides SoCs for HDTVs, Blu-ray players and wireless products, saw its revenues jump by 29.2 percent year-over-year to a record high of $8.6 billion (¥$275.51 billion), according to the latest industry reports.

Deemed one of the fastest growing chip companies in 2016, MediaTek’s upswing in performance last year is attributed to a larger share of the worldwide smartphone SoC market, along with higher sales in local China and Taiwan markets. In Q4 2016, revenues totaled $2.18 billion (¥68.68 billion) which is down 12.4 percent over the previous quarter, but still falls within the company’s projection of $2.11 and $2.31 billion (¥66.6 to 72.9 billion).

In Q3 2016, revenues totaled $2.49 billion (¥78.4 billion), an increase of 8.1 percent over Q2 and a 37.6 percent increase over the previous year. Net profits also rose to $248.4 million (¥7.83 billion) in Q3, an increase of 18.8 percent over the previous quarter but down 1.6 percent over the previous year.

Going forward into 2017, company officials now want to shift its focus from increasing market share to improving gross margins and profitability. This will include an effort to market its high-end Helio X30 and X35 mobile processors more effectively to compete against the likes of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 830 and 835 and Samsung’s Exynos 8895, as all three companies are now using ARM cores with 10-nanometer designs.

MediaTek MT5597 supports Dolby Vision and HLG

The Taiwanese chip designer was the first to develop an 4K Ultra HD-capable SoC for Android TVs with the introduction of the MT5595 for Android TV 5.0 back at CES 2015. It followed up a year later with the MT5996 for Android TV 6.0, another world’s first featuring four 64-bit CPU cores based on the Cortex A53 design.

Now in 2017, the company is releasing its third-generation Ultra HD SoC for Android TV 7.0, the MT5597. This chip also features a quad-core Cortex A53 design but now includes support for Dolby Vision HDR and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), the standard expected to be used in UHD television broadcasts when providers are ready to roll out HDR terrestrial and satellite services.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Apple’s Supposed Jump In AR Be A Game Changer?

January 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The super-cool and innovative tech power house Apple is rumored to have come up with some game-changing glasses which superimpose information and pictures onto reality.

Dubbed AR, no other technology company has come up with the idea before and it is believed to be the brain child of Tim Cook himself. Of course, it is all top secret because other companies will steal the idea before Apple gets it to market.

However, word on the street is that Apple is working with the German optics manufacturer Carl Zeiss on a pair of lightweight AR/mixed reality glasses.

The rumor comes from tech evangelist Robert Scoble who thinks the project could be announced as early as this year. Apparently it has been confirmed by a Zeiss employee, Scoble wrote in a Facebook post Monday.

Unlike virtual reality, which promises to immerse goggle-wearing users in new and exciting digital worlds, AR tends to overlay images and data atop the real world. This is the sort of idea which was shown with Pokemon Go.

To show how in advance Apple is over companies like Microsoft and Google Cook told ABC News that he saw bigger possibilities for AR than VR in September! That is long before anyone else came up with the idea and pours cold water on the idea that Apple has run out of ideas, can only update its ten-year-old smartphone technology and that it is always getting beaten to the punch issuing technology years after everyone else.

The company has filed several patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office that deal with augmented reality because, you know, no one else is doing AR.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Notebooks Making Gains Against Tablets?

January 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Notebooks, which had been written off by the Tame Apple Press after Steve Jobs showed off his tablets, are now back.

Beancounters working for Deloitte have found that the sales of slates are expected to be down 10 per cent in 2017 compared to last year and there will probably be 165 million units leaving the shops.

This is a third less than the total number of slates shifted in 2014 when 230 million tablets were sold.

PC and laptops however are expected to stay at the same level as last year, and Deloitte has observed that the kids of today don’t want tablets any more. They either want a phablet, or a notebook.

Phablets were the thing that Steve Jobs told the world they did not want and yet it turned out they did. It might have been the reason he was telling us that was because he knew that they would kill off his tablet dream.

Paul Lee, head of TMT research at Deloitte, commented: “There are three consumer devices that are leading tablets by a large margin: TVs, smartphones, and computers. It seems unlikely that the tablet will ever displace these devices.”

IDC’s figures from last summer showed a big slump in tablet shipments, but also found that detachable sales were improving. Most analysts think that hybrid 2-in-1s will represent a fifth of all PCs by the year 2020.

Courtesy-Fud

IBM Is Still The Patent King

January 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

While the Tame Apple Press is still trying to spin Jobs’ Mob as the most innovative in the world, the crown belongs to the outfit that Steve Jobs mocked – IBM.

IBM received the most patents for the 24th year in a row and broke the US record in 2016.

It had 8,088 patents granted to its inventors over the 12 months covering areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing, cloud, health and cyber security.

No other company in US history has managed to get 8,000 patents in a single a single year. And to put that in perspective, that means that IBM invents 22 new things a day.

It also owns a third of the patents relating to AI, cognitive computing and cloud computing alone. The details were released by Ginni Rometty, IBM’s chairman, president and CEO who said:

“We are deeply proud of our inventors’ unique contributions to discovery, science and technology that are driving progress across business and society and opening the new era of cognitive business.”

There are nine other innovative companies in the top ten list and guess what? Apple does not even make the top ten.

The list goes IBM, Samsung, Canon, Qualcomm, Google, Intel, LG, Microsoft, TSMC and Sony.

Courtesy-Fud

EU Tougher Privacy Controls To Impact Messaging Services, Email Providers

January 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Online messaging and email services such as WhatsApp, iMessage and Gmail  will go up against tougher regulations on how they can track users under a new proposal presented by the European Union executive on Tuesday.

The web players will have to guarantee the confidentiality of their customers’ conversations and ask for their consent before tracking them online to serve them personalized ads.

The proposal by the European Commission extends some rules that now only apply to telecom operators to web companies offering calls and messages using the internet, known as “Over-The-Top” (OTT) services, seeking to close a perceived regulatory gap between the telecoms industry and mainly U.S. Internet giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

 Tuesday’s proposal would allow telecom companies to use customer metadata – such as the duration and location of calls – to provide additional services and make more money, something they are barred from doing under the current rules.

The review of the so-called e-privacy law will also force web browsers to have their default setting as not allowing personalized online advertising based on browsing habits. Instead, users will be asked to opt in to allow websites to place cookies on their browsers.

“It’s up to our people to say yes or no,” said Andrus Ansip, Commission vice-president for the digital single market.

Cookies are placed on web surfers’ computers and contain bits of information about the user, such as what other sites they have visited or where they are logging in from. They are widely used by companies to deliver targeted ads to users.

Online adverstisers have warned that overly strict rules would undermine many websites’ ability to fund themselves and keep offering free services. They say the data they use can not identify the user and is therefore low risk, making asking for consent every time too onerous.

The proposal scraps the obligation on websites to ask visitors for permission to place cookies on their browsers via a banner every time they land on it if the user has already consented through the privacy settings of the web browser.

The “cookie banner” has been lambasted as ineffective because people tend to accept them without necessarily reading what that entails.

Companies falling foul of the new law will face fines of up to 4 percent of their global turnover, in line with a separate data protection law set to enter into force in 2018.

The proposal will need to be approved by the European Parliament and member states before becoming law.

Should Virtual Reality Become More Of A Open Platform?

January 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Tim Sweeney has urged virtual reality platform holders to ensure their devices and marketplaces are open to other providers in order to avoid the same monopoly that affects a significant portion of the smartphone market.

Speaking to Glixel, the co-founder of Epic Games said he say “a lot going on that’s wrong” in other tech sectors, and points to Apple as a prime example. While he thinks its fine for the firm to be the only distributor of its hardware, he disagrees with their monopoly on distributing software and collecting in-app revenue.

His added that virtual reality pioneer Oculus seems to be operating in a similar way to Apple, adding that this is “the wrong model” for virtual reality and something Sweeney “argued passionately against”.

“When you install the Oculus drivers, by default you can only use the Oculus store,” he said. “You have to rummage through the menu and turn that off if you want to run Steam. Which everybody does. It’s just alienating and sends the wrong message to developers. It’s telling developers: ‘You’re on notice here. We’re going to dominate this thing. And your freedom is going to expire at some point.’ It’s a terrible precedent to set.”

Sweeney believes that ultimately the open platforms will win as they will have a better selection of software. He praised HTC Vive for being such a platform and noted that the device is currently outselling Oculus two-to-one around the world, a trend he expects to continue.

The Epic Games founder acknowledged that his firm is making a closed-platform game for Oculus in the form of Robo Recall, a title that stemmed from Unreal Engine’s Bullet Train VR demo. However, he attributed this to the fact that the game is funded by Oculus and could never have been built on a budget based purely on sales.

“The Oculus store… is an awesome store [but] should run on all PC and VR devices,” he said. “Oculus would do best if they tried to bring users into their store by supporting HTC Vive and Oculus Rift and any other PC hardware that comes out. I think if they don’t do that, they’re going to pretty quickly fail, because you’re not going to want to buy a multiplayer game that you can’t play with half of your VR friends.”

Sweeney previously spoke out about the need for open virtual reality platforms during his keynote at the latest Steam Dev Day, saying: “It would be really tragic if we let the future metaverse, that binds all humanity together into shared online environments, were a closed platform controlled by a giant corporation.

“As always, they’d use it to spam you with advertising, they’d use it to gather information about your private life and sell it to the highest bidder, and they’d act as the universal intermediary between all users, content creators, and transactions, ensuring that everything has to be approved by them.”

 

Courtesy-GI.biz

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