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Amazon’s Zocalo Goes Mobile

November 24, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced two much-needed boosts to its fledgling Zocalo productivity platform, making the service mobile and allowing for file capacities of up to 5TB.

The service, which is designed to do what Drive does for Google and what Office 365 does for software rental, has gained mobile apps for the first time as Zocalo appears on the Google Play store and Apple App Store.

Amazon also mentions availability on the Kindle store, but we’re not sure about that bit. We assume it means the Amazon App Store for Fire tablet users.

The AWS blog says that the apps allow the user to “work offline, make comments, and securely share documents while you are in the air or on the go.”

A second announcement brings Zocalo into line with the AWS S3 storage on which it is built. Users will receive an update to their Zocalo sync client which will enable file capacities up to 5TB, the same maximum allowed by the Amazon S3 cloud.

To facilitate this, multi-part uploads will allow users to carry on an upload from where it was after a break, deliberate or accidental.

Zocalo was launched in July as the fight for enterprise storage productivity hots up. The service can be trialled for 30 days free of charge, offering 200GB each for up to 50 users.

Rival services from companies including the aforementioned Microsoft and Google, as well as Dropbox and Box, coupled with aggressive price cuts across the sector, have led to burgeoning wars for the hearts and minds of IT managers as Microsoft’s Office monopoly begins to wane.

Courtesy-TheInq

Amazon Goes With Intel Zeon Inside

November 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Amazon has become the latest vendor to commission a customized Xeon chip from Intel to meet its exact compute requirements, in this case powering new high-performance C4 virtual machine instances on the AWS cloud computing platform.

Amazon announced at the firm’s AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas that the latest generation of compute-optimized Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) virtual machine instances offer up to 36 virtual CPUs and 60GB of memory.

“These instances are designed to deliver the highest level of processor performance on EC2. If you’ve got the workload, we’ve got the instance,” said AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr, detailing the new instances on the AWS blog.

The instances are powered by a custom version of Intel’s latest Xeon E5 v3 processor family, identified by Amazon as the Xeon E5-2666 v3. This runs at a base speed of 2.9GHz, and can achieve clock speeds as high as 3.5GHz with Turbo boost.

Amazon is not the first company to commission a customized processor from Intel. Earlier this year, Oracle unveiled new Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8 systems with a custom Xeon E7 v2 processor.

The processor is capable of dynamically switching core count, clock frequency and power consumption without the need for a system level reboot, in order to deliver an elastic compute capability that adapts to the demands of the workload.

However, these are just the vendors that have gone public; Intel claims it is delivering over 35 customized versions of the Intel Xeon E5 v3 processor family to various customers.

This is an area the chipmaker seems to be keen on pursuing, especially with companies like cloud service providers that purchase a great many chips.

“We’re really excited to be working with Amazon. Amazon’s platform is the landing zone for a lot of new software development and it’s really exciting to partner with those guys on a SKU that really meets their needs,” said Dave Hill, ‎senior systems engineer in Intel’s Datacenter Group.

Also at AWS re:Invent, Amazon announced the Amazon EC2 Container Service, adding support for Docker on its cloud platform.

Currently available as a preview, the EC2 Container Service is designed to make it easy to run and manage distributed applications on AWS using containers.

Customers will be able to start, stop and manage thousands of containers in seconds, scaling from one container to hundreds of thousands across a managed cluster of Amazon EC2 instances, the firm said.

Courtesy-TheInq

Dell Expresses Optimism About Consumers Interest In Windows 10

November 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Windows 10 is set to replace the heavily criticized Windows 8 next year and some forward-thinking Dell customers are already excited about the possibilities of the new OS.

Dell customers who are exploring Windows 10 believe that the new OS takes care of some issues that Windows 8 failed to address, said Neil Hand, vice president of tablets at Dell.

The biggest advantage of Windows 10 is the ability to run programs across devices, be they mobile or desktop, Hand said.

“The ability to create applications that are super-scalable from phone to tablet to PC is the big step in a lot of ways,” Hand said.

Dell is in the early stages of testing Windows 10 with its customers and Hand said it’s premature to say whether the OS will succeed. Dell runs Windows on most of its PCs and will likely adopt Windows 10 for its tablets and PCs next year.

Microsoft previously offered different versions of the Windows OS for mobile phones, desktops and servers, but Windows 10 is designed to unite all those editions.

Microsoft also offers separate versions of Windows 8 for its Surface 2 and Surface Pro tablets, which run on different instruction sets. Programs written for Surface 2, which is based on ARM, won’t run on Surface Pro 3, which is based on an Intel chipset. Windows 10 will eliminate any such incompatibilities and also make it easier to write and export programs from one device to another.

“Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices — from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens — some have 80 inch screens — and some don’t have screens at all,” said Terry Myerson , executive vice president at Microsoft’s Operating Systems group, in a blog entry.

Windows 8, with its all-new tablet user interface, presented a radical transition at the time of its release two years ago and enterprise customers preferred to go with the older Windows 7. Business users, who are Dell’s target base, have mostly skipped Windows 8 and are still upgrading PCs to Windows 7.

However, Microsoft had the right idea in mind with Windows 8, which was to prepare customers for mobile, Hand said.

 

 

RedHat Releases Update For CI5 For OpenStack

November 5, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Red Hat has released an updated version of its Cloud Infrastructure suite that combines several products to deliver a comprehensive OpenStack-based cloud platform, adding its Satellite 6 lifecycle management tool to the mix.

Launched at the OpenStack Summit in Paris on Monday, Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure 5 brings together the firm’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) OpenStack Platform, CloudForms for managing hybrid cloud deployments, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation, and now the Satellite 6 lifecycle management tool which was released in September.

The new release is a comprehensive solution available under a single subscription licence that provides organisations with the tools they need to transform their IT infrastructure from traditional data centre virtualisation to an OpenStack-powered cloud capable of linking with public cloud OpenStack resources, Red Hat said.

“Hybrid environments are simply the reality of today’s IT, and organisations want to get to the cloud on their own terms and timeline. Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure acknowledges that reality,” said Joe Fitzgerald, vice president and general manager for cloud management at Red Hat.

“By bringing software lifecycle and configuration management capabilities that span physical, virtual and cloud systems to users via the addition of Red Hat Satellite, we’re helping to establish Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure as one of the most comprehensive and premier cloud infrastructure solutions for enterprises.”

Satellite 6 enables provisioning and lifecycle management tasks for various Red Hat products, including RHEL, while CloudForms provides cloud management and orchestration capabilities such as self-service portals, chargeback and metering of services across private and public clouds.

Meanwhile, the RHEL OpenStack Platform 5 is itself based on the previous Icehouse release of OpenStack combined with the firm’s RHEL 7 operating system. Red Hat already offers a three-year software support product lifecycle for this platform.

Courtesy-TheInq

Dell Launches New SuperMassive 9800 Firewall

October 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

DELL is showing off ”enterprise class” security for small to medium businesses with the launch of a SuperMassive 9800 next-generation firewall, which it claims will protect against high-profile bugs such as Shellshock and Heartbleed.

Touted as the most powerful in the fresh 9000 line-up, and sounding a little like a gang of rappers, the SuperMassive 9800 offers services such as advanced Deep Packet Inspection with speeds up to 20Gbps, and Dell’s patented Reassembly-Free Deep Packet Inspection (RFDPI) single-pass threat prevention engine.

RFDPI scans multiple application types and protocols to spot internal and external attacks and application vulnerabilities, Dell said, making it better at detecting attacks.

The SuperMassive 9800 is also bundled with Dell’s Global Management System 8.0, a tool designed to manage systems and offer real-time event monitoring, analytics and reporting from a single centralised dashboard.

Dell claims that this makes it easier to meet compliance regulations while managing and monitoring network security processes.

The firm claimed that the SuperMassive 9800 provides 97.9 percent “security effectiveness” and helps to protect customers from Shellshock and Heartbleed-level vulnerabilities.

“The recent disclosures of the ShellShock and HeartBleed industry-wide vulnerabilities demonstrate that organisations are literally a few well-formed packets away from infrastructure disaster, proving the need for instant and automated security scaled to meet the needs of the network,” said executive director of Dell Security, Patrick Sweeney.

“The SuperMassive 9800 provides that level of instant security on a flexible, feature-rich platform.”

Shellshock was uncovered in September, and some experts claim that it could be more serious than the Heartbleed SSL bug uncovered in April.

The Bash bug, as implied by its name, is a vulnerability that allows unscrupulous users to take control of Bourne Again Shell (Bash), the software used to control the Unix command prompt on some Unix-like systems.

Researchers at FireEye and Trend Micro warned later in September that hackers were still mounting cyber attacks across the globe thanks to exploits of Bash bug vulnerabilities, made worse by an unsuccessful patch.

Courtesy-TheInq

Does Samsung Fear A Processor War?

October 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Kwon Oh-hyun has said he is not worried about a price war in the semiconductor industry next year even though the firm is rapidly expanding its production volume.

“We’ll have to wait and see how things will go next year, but there definitely will not be any game of chicken,” said Oh-hyun, according to Reuters, suggesting the firm will not take chip rivals head on.

Samsung has reported strong profits for 2014 owing to better-than-expected demand for PCs and server chips. Analysts have also forecast similar results for the coming year, so things are definitely looking good for the company.

It emerged last week that Samsung will fork out almost $15bn on a new chip facility in South Korea, representing the firm’s biggest investment in a single plant.

Samsung hopes the investment will bolster profits in its already well-established and successful semiconductor business, and help to maintain its lead in memory chips and grow beyond the declining sales of its smartphones.

According to sources, Samsung expects its chip production capacity to increase by a “low double-digit percentage” after the facility begins production, which almost goes against the CEO’s claims that it is not looking for a price war.

Last month, Samsung was found guilty of involvement in a price fixing racket with a bunch of other chip makers stretching back over a decade, and was fined €138m by European regulators.

An antitrust investigation into chips used in mobile device SIM cards found that Infineon, Philips and Samsung colluded to artificially manipulate the price of SIM card chips.

Courtesy-TheInq

RedHat Ups Game With Fedora 21

September 29, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

RedHat has announced the Fedora 21 Alpha release for Fedora developers and any brave users that want to help test it.

Fedora is the leading edge – some might say bleeding edge – distribution of Linux that is sponsored by Red Hat. That’s where Red Hat and other developers do new development work that eventually appears in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and other Red Hat based Linux distributions, including Centos, Scientific Linux and Mageia, among others. Therefore, what Fedora does might also appear elsewhere eventually.

The Fedora project said the release of Fedora 21 Alpha is meant for testing in order to help it identify and resolve bugs, adding, “Fedora prides itself on bringing cutting-edge technologies to users of open source software around the world, and this release continues that tradition.”

Specifically, Fedora 21 will produce three software products, all built on the same Fedora 21 base, and these will each be a subset of the entire release.

Fedora 21 Cloud will include images for use in private cloud environments like Openstack, as well as AMIs for use on Amazon, and a new image streamlined for running Docker containers called Fedora Atomic Host.

Fedora 21 Server will offer data centre users “a common base platform that is meant to run featured application stacks” for use as a web server, file server, database server, or as a base for offering infrastructure as a service, including advanced server management features.

Fedora 21 Workstation will be “a reliable, user-friendly, and powerful operating system for laptops and PC hardware” for use by developers and other desktop users, and will feature the latest Gnome 3.14 desktop environment.

Those interested in testing the Fedora 21 Alpha release can visit the Fedora project website.

Courtesy-TheInq

Intel Sampling Xeon D 14nm

September 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has announced that it is sampling its Xeon D 14nm processor family, a system on chip (SoC) optimized to deliver Intel Xeon processor performance for hyperscale workloads.

Announcing the news on stage during a keynote at IDF in San Francisco, Intel SVP and GM of the Data Centre Group, Diane Bryant, said that the Intel Xeon processor D, which initially was announced in June, will be based on 14nm process technology and be aimed at mid-range communications.

“We’re pleased to announce that we’re sampling the third generation of the high density [data center system on a chip] product line, but this one is actually based on the Xeon processor, called Xeon D,” Bryant announced. “It’s 14nm and the power levels go down to as low as 15 Watts, so very high density and high performance.”

Intel believes that its Xeon D will serve the needs of high density, optimized servers as that market develops, and for networking it will serve mid-range routers as well as other network appliances, while it will also serve entry and mid-range storage. So, Intel claimed, you will get all of the benefits of Xeon-class reliability and performance, but you will also get a very small footprint and high integration of SoC capability.

This first generation Xeon D chip will also showcase high levels of I/O integrations, including 10Gb Ethernet, and will scale Intel Xeon processor performance, features and reliability to lower power design points, according to Intel.

The Intel Xeon processor D product family will also include data centre processor features such as error correcting code (ECC).

“With high levels of I/O integration and energy efficiency, we expect the Intel Xeon processor D product family to deliver very competitive TCO to our customers,” Bryant said. “The Intel Xeon processor D product family will also be targeted toward hyperscale storage for cloud and mid-range communications market.”

Bryant said that the product is not yet available, but it is being sampled, and the firm will release more details later this year.

This announcement comes just days after Intel launched its Xeon E5 v2 processor family for servers and workstations.

Courtesy-TheInq

Vendors Testing New Intel Xeon Processors

September 3, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is cooking up a hot batch of Xeon processors for servers and workstations, and system vendors have already designed systems that are ready and raring to go as soon as the chips become available.

Boston is one of the companies doing just that, and we know this because it gave us an exclusive peek into its labs to show off what these upgraded systems will look like. While we can’t share any details about the new chips involved yet, we can preview the systems they will appear in, which are awaiting shipment as soon as Intel gives the nod.

Based on chassis designs from Supermicro, with which Boston has a close relationship, the systems comprise custom-built solutions for specific user requirements.

On the workstation side, Boston is readying a mid-range and a high-end system with the new Intel Xeon chips, both based on two-socket Xeon E5-2600v3 rather than the single socket E5-1600v3 versions.

There’s also the mid-range Venom 2301-12T, which comes in a mid-tower chassis and ships with an Nvidia Quadro K4000 card for graphics acceleration. It comes with 64GB of memory and a 240GB SSD as a boot device, plus two 1TB Sata drives configured as a Raid array for data storage.

For extra performance, Boston has also prepared the Venom 2401-12T, which will ship with faster Xeon processors, 128GB of memory and an Nvidia Quadro K6000 graphics card. This also has a 240GB SSD as a boot drive, with two 2TB drives configured as a Raid array for data storage.

Interestingly, Intel’s new Xeon E5-2600v3 processors are designed to work with 2133MHz DDR4 memory instead of the more usual DDR3 RAM, and as you can see in the picture below, DDR4 DIMM modules have slightly longer connectors towards the middle.

For servers, Boston has prepared a 1U rack-mount “pizza box” system, the Boston Value 360p. This is a two-socket server with twin 10Gbps Ethernet ports, support for 64GB of memory and 12Gbps SAS Raid. It can also be configured with NVM Express (NVMe) SSDs connected to the PCI Express bus rather than a standard drive interface.

Boston also previewed a multi-node rack server, the Quattro 12128-6, which is made up of four separate two-socket servers inside a 2U chassis. Each node has up to 64GB of memory, with 12Gbps SAS Raid storage plus a pair of 400GB SSDs.

Courtesy-TheInq

Windows ‘Threshold’ To Debut In Coming Weeks

August 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft will unveil a preview of “Threshold,” the current code name for Windows 8′s successor, as soon as next month, according to an online report on Monday.

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, citing unnamed sources, said that Microsoft will deliver a “technical preview” of Threshold late in September or early in October. Previously, Foley had reported that Microsoft would offer a preview of some kind this fall.

Threshold may be officially named “Windows 9″ by Microsoft — the company has said nothing about either the code name or labeled the next iteration of its desktop and tablet OS — although there are arguments for dumping a numerical title because of the possible association with Windows 8, which has widely been pegged as a failure.

“Technical Preview” is a moniker that Microsoft has used in the past for its Office suite. For both Office 2013 and Office 2010, Microsoft used the term to describe an invitation-only sneak peek. Both application suites were later released as public betas prior to their official launch.

Windows, however, has used a different nomenclature. For 2012′s Windows 8, Microsoft called the early looks ”Developer Preview,”"Consumer Preview” and “Release Preview,” all open to everyone. The first was analogous to an alpha, the second to a beta, and the third to a done-but-not-approved release candidate.

Windows 7, however, had used the more traditional “Beta” to describe the first public preview in early 2009. The previous fall, when Microsoft unveiled Windows 7, the firm had seeded an invite-only “pre-alpha” version, also dubbed a Developer Preview, of the OS to programmers and some influential bloggers.

Within hours, the Windows 7 Developer Preview leaked to file-sharing websites. Microsoft may have changed its practices for Windows 8, letting anyone download the first preview, because of the inevitably of leaks.

In an update to her blog of earlier today, Foley added that the “Technical Preview” nameplate notwithstanding, Microsoft would allow anyone to download Threshold/Windows 9 when it becomes available in the next few weeks.

If Microsoft does ship a preview soon and sets its sights on a second-quarter 2015 final release, it will have significantly accelerated the tempo from past practice. With Windows 7 and Windows 8, Microsoft offered its first previews 12 and 13 months, respectively, and the public beta 8 or 9 months, before launching the operating system.

Eight or nine months from September would be May or June 2015; that, however, assumes that the Technical Preview is of beta quality. The name itself hints at something less.

Microsoft appears eager to put Windows 8 behind it. It has stopped beating the drum about the OS and recently announced that it would not issue any additional major updates. Instead, the firm said last week, it will include improvements or new features in small packets using the same Windows Update mechanism that regularly serves security patches.

 

 

 

Kaspersky Discovers Epic Turla Exploiting Windows XP Flaw

August 13, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Kaspersky Lab has discovered an espionage network that successfully attacked government institutions, intelligence agencies and European companies.

The firm has dubbed the spy operation Epic Turla, and said that it is in no doubt about its capabilities.

“Over the last 10 months, Kaspersky Lab researchers have analysed a massive cyber-espionage operation which we call ‘Epic Turla’,” it said.

“The attackers behind Epic Turla have infected several hundred computers in more than 45 countries, including government institutions, embassies, military, education, research and pharmaceutical companies.”

Kaspersky said that Epic Turla used two zero-day exploits that affected Adobe and Microsoft software, along with some backdoor and social engineering tricks.

In particular, Kaspersky said a vulnerability in Windows XP and Windows 2003 – CVE-2013-5065 – termed a “privilege escalation vulnerability” is being used. “The CVE-2013-5065 exploit allows the backdoor to achieve administrator privileges on the system and run unrestricted. This exploit only works on unpatched Microsoft Windows XP systems.”

The use of this Windows XP flaw underlines the risk that the unsupported Windows XP OS poses. Kaspersky went on to explain that, once inside, attackers install their own rootkits and other malware tools and begin their surveillance.

“Once the attackers obtain the necessary credentials without the victim noticing, they deploy the rootkit and other extreme persistence mechanisms,” it said. “The attacks are still ongoing as of July 2014, actively targeting users in Europe and the Middle East.”

The attacks are just the latest in a long line of incidents that businesses need to be aware of as cyber attacks continue at an alarming rate.

In June the security firm Crowdstrike alerted the industry to Putter Panda, a cute-sounding but nasty piece of malware. That firm pointed an accusatory finger at China and charged it with espionage on the US and Europe.

Crowdstrike CEO George Kurtz said at the time, “China’s decade-long economic espionage campaign is massive and unrelenting. Through widespread espionage campaigns, Chinese threat actors are targeting companies and governments in every part of the globe.” Chinese authorities disputed this.

The report comes in the same week Hold Security reported uncovering a huge trove of 1.2 billion web passwords and login details that have been gathered by Russian cyber criminals.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is The Video Game Industry Facing Under Cyber Attacks?

August 5, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

The video game industry is at the mercy of a large scale advanced cyber attack campaign designed to steal source code, Dell’s security arm Secureworks has revealed.

Codenamed Threat Group-3279 (TG-3279), the attackers are thought to have been active since at least 2009, a Secureworks report claimed, insisting that information gathered from targeted hosts suggests that TG-3279 focuses on the collection of video game source code.

“[This is] to crack those games for free use, to develop tools to cheat at the games, or to use the source code for competing products,” read the report, which the firm said exhibits findings based upon Portable Executable (PE) compile dates, domain name registrations, collection dates of tools and the threat actors’ activity on message boards.

Dell Secureworks Counter Threat Unit (CTU) researchers said that during incident response engagements they found that the hackers carry out initial reconnaissance work on their intended victims before hitting them with an unknown attack tool or strategy.

“TG-3279 appears to perform reconnaissance on its targets via open source research and network scanning,” the report said. “It appears that TG-3279 uses a port scanning tool named ‘s’ and an RDP brute force tool named ‘rdp_crk’, which may be used to scan and exploit targets.”

Dell’s CTU researchers said that they have not discovered packaged exploits used by TG-3279 and believe that the threat actors rely on active “hands-on-keyboard” techniques to exploit targets. They also found evidence that, once in the network, the hackers work to steal system administrator rights while regularly updating their attack tools to ensure continued access to future games’ source code.

The nature of the attacks indicate that the hackers might be associated with the China Cracking Group and the Laurentiu Moon and Sincoder online hacker personas, Dell Secureworks’ report added.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is Malware Beginning To Wreak Havoc On XP Users?

July 3, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

One of the top three malware programs affecting businesses in the second quarter is a worm that takes advantage of the large number of companies still using Windows XP, Trend Micro has warned.

The worm, dubbed DOWNAD, also known as Conficker, can infect an entire network via a malicious URL, spam email, or removable drive. Windows XP is particularly susceptible to this threat because it is known to exploit the MS08-067 Server service vulnerability in order to execute arbitrary code.

DOWNAD also has its own domain generation algorithm (DGA) that allows it to create randomly-generated URLs. It then connects to these created URLs to download files to the system. Trend Micro said that around 175 IP addresses are found to be related to the DOWNAD worm and that these IP addresses use various ports and are randomly generated via the DGA capability of DOWNAD.

“During our monitoring of the spam landscape, we observed that in Q2, more than 40 percent of malware related spam mails are delivered by machines infected by DOWNAD worm,” said Trend Micro anti-spam research engineer Maria Manly in a blog post.

“A number of machines are still infected by this threat and leveraged to send the spammed messages to further increase the number of infected systems. And with Microsoft ending the support for Windows XP this year, we can expect that systems with this OS can be infected by threats like DOWNAD.”

The security company warned that spam campaigns delivering FAREIT, MYTOB, and LOVGATE payloads in email attachments are attributed to DOWNAD infected machines. FAREIT is a malware family of information stealers that download variants of the Zeus Trojan, while MYTOB is an old family of worms known for sending a copy of itself in spam attachments.

The other top sources of spam with malware are the CUTWAIL botnet, together with Gameover ZeuS (GoZ). Manly said CUTWAIL was actually previously used to download GoZ malware but now a malware called UPATRE employs GoZ malware or variants of ZBOT which have peer-to-peer functionality.

“In the last few weeks we have reported various spam runs that abused Dropbox links to host malware like UPATRE,” Manly said. “We also spotted a spammed message in the guise of voice mail that contains a Cryptolocker variant. The latest we have seen is a spam campaign with links that leveraged CUBBY, a file storage service, this time carrying a banking malware detected as TSPY_BANKER.WSTA.”

According to Manly, cybercriminals and threat actors are probably abusing file storage platforms to mask their malicious activities and go undetected in the system and network.

“As spam with malware attachment continues to proliferate, so is spam with links carrying malicious files. The continuous abuse of file hosting services to spread malware appears to have become a favoured infection vector of cyber criminals most likely because this makes it more effective given that the URLs are legitimate thereby increasing the chance of bypassing anti-spam filters,” she added.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Skype Retiring Versions Of Its Desktop App

June 23, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Skype said it plans to retire older versions of its desktop Internet calling application, including versions on Windows and OS X launched as recently as January and February of this year.

Users must upgrade to a newer edition of Skype before those editions are put to pasture.

“We are going to retire older versions of Skype for Windows desktop (6.13 and below) as well as Skype for Mac (6.14 and below) over the next few months,” Skype said in a post last Friday.

Skype is a division of Microsoft, which acquired the chat and over-IP phone software company in 2011 for $8.5 billion.

Skype for Windows 6.13 shipped in January 2014, while Skype for OS X 6.14 reached users in February. Those versions, and any earlier, are the ones marked for retirement.

The current versions of Skype are 6.16 for Windows and 6.18 for OS X.

Skype did not spell out what it meant by “retire” in the blog post — whether the older software will simply not be supported or that only the most recent versions will work with the network — but Microsoft clarified the situation. “Once a version is retired, users will no longer be able to sign into the retired version until they upgrade to the latest version of Skype,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email reply to questions.

While Skype did not elaborate on why it’s pushing the older editions into retirement, it was reminiscent of moves that Microsoft itself has taken. In April, for example, Microsoft required customers running Windows 8.1, the upgrade released last October, to migrate to Windows 8.1 Update by June 10 or lose patching privileges.

Microsoft did the same with Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) on Windows 7, giving consumers until June 10 to apply an April update.

In both those cases, Microsoft said it was setting a “new servicing baseline” with the mandated editions.

The newest versions of Skype for Windows desktop and OS X can be downloaded from the division’s website.

 

 

Microsoft Releases Special Browser Just For Developers

June 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Developers can test drive new features of the next version of Internet Explorer using a test edition Microsoft has released for their use.

The Internet Explorer Developer Channel, which can be downloaded for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1, runs independently of the user’s copy of IE, allowing programmers to test the newest browser features without disrupting their current browser settings.

The Internet Explorer Developer Channel will offer an early version of IE while it is still being worked on by Microsoft programmers. Developers can preview features planned for the upcoming editions of the browser to help them better build Web applications and pages that use the new capabilities.

Microsoft also hopes that developers will offer feedback, so the company can better implement the pending features.

The developer version offers a sandbox-like testing environment so it does not interfere with the user’s IE browser profile. The browser does not run as quickly as the standard edition of IE and because it is a beta version, should not be used in production environments.

With the test version, Microsoft is replicating the fast development environments used by other browser makers.

Mozilla offers nightly builds of the next version of the Firefox browser under development. Google also offers developer versions of its Chrome browser.

Microsoft plans to issue frequent updates to the test version of IE, announcing them through the DevChannel.Modern.IE developer resource site.

Microsoft’s browser also comes with F12 Developer Tools, designed to help debug and optimize Web pages and Web applications.