The bulletins’ last stand was originally scheduled for January, with a replacement process ready to step in Feb. 14. Rather than a set of bulletins, Microsoft was to provide a searchable database of support documents dubbed the “Security Updates Guide” or SUG.
But just hours before February’s security updates were to be released, Microsoft announced that it was postponing the entire collection to March 14, citing “a last-minute issue” that might impact some customers. The Redmond, Wash. company never spelled out exactly what led it to decide on the unprecedented delay.
With last month’s postponement, users expected that the no-more-bulletins rule would go into effect today. Not so.
“Security bulletins were also published this month to give customers extra time to ensure they are ready to transition their processes,” wrote Microsoft’s Malicious Software Research Center (MSRC) team in a post to a company blog.
Microsoft declined to answer follow-up questions about the bulletins, including whether they will be offered next month.
“The Security Update Guide is the authoritative location for information about our security updates and customers who previously used Security Bulletins should review their processes to make sure they are ready to transition,” a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
The app now features Quick Actions, so that users can tap a couple of buttons and get Cortana to create an alarm, set a reminder, or tell them a joke. That means users can get at key features without having to talk or type queries, and it also gives them a framework for what they can do with the app, without them having to discover it on their own.
The virtual assistant market is a crowded one, between Cortana, Siri, Alexa and the Google Assistant all competing for users’ time and interest. Microsoft’s assistant is built deeply into PCs with Windows 10, but the company also needs to keep its apps for other mobile platforms up to date in order to meet users where they are.
In addition, the app’s phone call and messaging functionality got a facelift, so users who want to text using Cortana can do so, in a move that makes it even more competitive with Apple’s Siri.
Cortana’s messaging and calling capabilities got a redesign as well. When users ask Cortana to make a call, the app will fire up the iPhone’s dialer. Sending a message pulls up a view of the built-in messaging app.
The redesign is similar to one that the company gave Cortana’s Android app in December of last year.
As Intel’s Atom division gets buried under a scandal over its C2000s only having an 18 month life expectancy, Intel has released its new Atom CPU 3000 range to replace it.
To be fair to Intel, the C3000 is a superior product. At the top end it will have 16 core CPUs which are designed for enterprise servers. According to Intel they will have features borrowed from the Xeon line, such as hardware virtualization, and RAS (reliability, availability, and serviceability).
These chips will head to the NAS and IoT markets and they can deal with several parallel data streams. Not as fast as Kaby Lake and Broadwell, they will be placed as reliable workhorses in the network. That is if they don’t repeat the problems of the flawed C2000 Atom series of products. These had quality control issues, which Intel claims that it has fixed.
The new line is scheduled to launch in the second half of 2017. The Intel ARK shows a dual-core Atom C3338 with Denverton cores fabbed at 14nm. That SoC will get a 1.5 Ghz base frequency and 2.2 Ghz boost.
Each pair of Denverton cores will have two megabytes of level two cache. The new chips support for up to 128 gigabytes of DDR4-2400 memory and thus include support for 10Gb Ethernet as well as 16 lanes of PCI-Express 3.0 connectivity. Here are the highlights.
Thermal design points down to 8.5 watts.
Enhanced performance from 2 to 16 cores and frequencies from 1.5 Ghz to 2.2 Ghz.
Built-in hardware virtualisation to enable dynamic provisioning of services as communication service providers extend network functions virtualization to the network edge.
Intel x86 64-bit software support.
Integrated Intel QuickAssist technology with up to 20 Gbps of compression/encryption throughput.
4 x 10 GbE integrated Intel Ethernet to enable high-speed connectivity to the network.
ECC memory for data integrity and system reliability through automatic data correction.
Flexible I/O lanes providing up to 16 SATA 3.0, 16 PCIE3, and 4 USB 3.0.
Extended temperature range and long-life support for dense network, storage, industrial IoT and autonomous driving environments.
The most likely destination of Safari defectors: Google’s Chrome.
According to California-based analytics vendor Net Applications, in March 2015, an estimated 69% of all Mac owners used Safari to go online. But by last month, that number had dropped to 56%, a drop of 13 percentage points — representing a decline of nearly a fifth of the share of two years prior.
It was possible to peg the percentage of Mac users who ran Safari only because that browser works solely on macOS, the Apple operating system formerly labeled OS X. The same single-OS characteristic of IE and Edge has made it possible in the past to determine the percentage of Windows users who run those browsers.
Net Applications measures user share by sniffing the browser user agent string of visitors to its customers’ websites, then tallying the various browsers and OSes.
Safari’s share erosion was much less than that suffered by Microsoft’s browsers, particularly IE, during the same period. From March 2015 to February 2017, the use of Microsoft’s IE and Edge on Windows personal computers plummeted. Two years ago, the browsers were run by 62% of Windows PC owners; last month, the figure had fallen by more than half, to just 27%.
Simultaneous with the decline of IE has been the rise of Chrome. The user share of Google’s browser — its share of all browsers on all operating systems — more than doubled in the last two years, jumping from 25% in March 2015 to 59.5% last month. Along the way, Chrome supplanted IE to become the world’s most-used browser.
It’s impossible to be certain, but Chrome was probably the beneficiary from Safari’s user share decline as well. In the last 24 months, Mozilla’s Firefox — the other major browser alternative to Chrome for macOS users — has barely budged, losing just two-tenths of a percentage point in user share.
Troubled Japanese chipmaker Toshiba has begun shipping samples of its third-generation 3D NAND memory product.
The new 512 gigabit, 64-layer device has three-bit-per-cell triple-level cell (TLC) technology and will be part of Tosh’s BiCS FLASH product line. This technology will enable a 1-terabyte chip solution later this year.
For those who came in late, BiCS FLASH is a 3D flash memory stacked cell structure.
Sample shipments of the new 512Gb devices have begun, with mass production scheduled for the second half of 2017.
The new flash memory product has 65 percent greater capacity than the previous generation technology, which used 48 layers of NAND flash cells.
In addition to the new 512Gb device, Toshiba’s BiCS FLASH lineup also includes a 64-layer 256Gb offering, which is currently in mass production.
According to Scott Nelson, senior vice president of TAEC’s memory business unit, “The introduction of our third generation BiCS FLASH coupled with the industry’s largest 1TB chip solution strongly reinforces Toshiba’s flash leadership position. These innovations underline our commitment to developing leading-edge memory solutions, and we will continue to advance our 3D technology to meet the ever-increasing storage market demand.”
The chip will be used in data centres but also consumer SSD products so it could be cheap enough to get into high-end gaming rigs.
This announcement comes as Toshiba talks about off-loading its lucrative SSD operations to pay for the accounting fiasco and the dodgy nuclear power plant deal it lost billions on.
A previous report about Western Digital, Foxxcon, SK Hynix and Micron Technology have now also thrown their hats in the ring to purchase a majority share in Toshiba’s memory spin-off.
The 132 apps were found generating hidden iframes, or an HTML document embedded inside a webpage, linking to two domains that have hosted malware, according to security firm Palo Alto Networks.
Google has already removed the apps from its Play store. But what’s interesting is the developers behind the apps probably aren’t to blame for including the malicious code, Palo Alto Networks said in a Wednesday blog post.
Instead, the platforms the developers used to build these apps were probably infected with malware that looks for HTML pages and then injects the malicious coding, the company said.
Many of these tainted apps offered design ideas for things like cheesecakes, landscaping a garden, or laying out a patio. The most popular had more than 10,000 downloads.
When installed, the apps would display seemingly benign webpages. However, in reality, the pages shown contain a tiny hidden iframe that links to two suspicious domains.
Both domains were previously involved in hosting Windows malware. But in 2013, a Polish security team took over the domains, and they’ve effectively been shut down, Palo Alto Networks said. Nevertheless, Google still flags them as dangerous to visit.
Why the apps were linking to two malicious, but defunct domains still isn’t clear. However, Palo Alto Networks also came across one peculiar app sample that didn’t contain the problematic iframes, but instead a Microsoft Visual Basic script used for Windows.
It’s an odd thing to include, given that the script won’t harm any Android users. But it’s possible the developers behind these apps had their Windows machines infected with malware.
Some malware, such as the Window-based Ramnit, have been known to search for files on a computer and inject them with malicious coding, Palo Alto Networks said. “After infecting a Windows host, these viruses search the hard drive for HTML files and append iFrames to each document,” the company said.
“If a developer was infected with one of these viruses, their app’s HTML files could be infected,” Palo Alto Networks added.
In another scenario, it’s possible the app makers downloaded developer tools that were already tainted with the malicious coding.
Because these 132 apps linked to two now defunct malicious domains, they actually don’t pose much of a threat. It may be that whoever tampered with these apps did so accidentally.
“File infecting viruses can bounce around for years, even after these domains are taken offline,” Ryan Olson, intelligence director at Palo Alto Networks, said in an email.
“They also typically infect executable files and copy themselves to USB and shared drives,” he added. “The malware that wrote the iframe to these files was probably released before the domains were sinkholed.”
Still, the bigger worry is that someone else might try to replicate the attack to cause actual danger, like secretly infecting developer apps to steal users’ information or drop other strains of malware.
“It’s easy to envision a more focused and successful attack,” Palo Alto Networks said in its blog post.
The developers of the 132 apps come from seven different parties, but appear to all have ties with Indonesia, the security firm said.
A select group of developers will be able to get their hands on a low-cost Windows virtual reality headset starting this month. Microsoft has announced that the Acer Mixed Reality Developer Edition headset will start rolling out to a handpicked batch of software makers starting the end of March, with more coming later.
This marks the first release of a Windows Mixed Reality headset, which Microsoft first previewed last year. The headsets are supposed to stand out from the crowd because of a lower price and their support for “inside-out” tracking that uses sensors on the device to determine a user’s position, rather than relying on external trackers to gather that information. That’s why Microsoft is calling them mixed reality headsets.
The headset will give software makers a way to test applications they’re building before the expected consumer release of the hardware during the winter holiday season this year.
Launching the developer program is part of Microsoft’s overall push to get developers to build apps for Windows Mixed Reality devices, including the Acer headset, plus other devices from Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and 3Glasses. Those headsets are running the same Mixed Reality shell that powers the Microsoft HoloLens, but they differ in approach.
The HoloLens has a transparent visor that’s designed to overlay digital objects on the physical world. The Acer headset and others like it are supposed to take information about the physical world and bring it into virtual reality.
The announcement also marks Microsoft’s official rebranding of the Windows Holographic shell to Windows Mixed Reality, a nod to its utility beyond the HoloLens. The goal behind the system, which will be coming to every PC with the Windows 10 Creators Update, is to provide a consistent substrate for building apps that run in 3D virtual spaces, whether they’re displayed by headsets with transparent or with opaque visors.
Microsoft will also provide guidance on how to build apps for the new opaque headsets from scratch, as well as how to port apps from the HoloLens or from other virtual reality platforms.
Game developers interested in getting their hands on the hardware can sign up for the ID@Xbox program. It’s unclear if the tech giant is prioritizing certain countries with this initial rollout, or if the headset will be globally available to qualified teams. The company also wouldn’t provide pricing information on the developer hardware.
There’s more coming in the future for Windows Mixed Reality. Microsoft said it plans to bring similar experiences to the Xbox One family of devices in 2018 but declined to offer specifics about what that entails.
The option has been deployed in the latest version of Windows 10 Insider, the preview program which gives participants an early peek at the next feature upgrade as Microsoft builds it. That version, labeled 15042, was released Friday.
With the setting at its most stringent, Windows 10 will block the installation of Win32 software — the traditional legacy applications that continue to make up the vast bulk of the Windows ecosystem — and allow users to install only apps from the Windows Store, Microsoft’s marketplace.
Other settings allow software installation from any source, or, while allowing that, put a preference on those from the Windows Store.
Unless Microsoft removes them, the options will appear in the next Windows 10 feature upgrade, dubbed “Creators Update,” which is to launch in March or April.
The appearance of the installation-origin settings followed reports last month that Microsoft was crafting another Windows 10 edition, called “Cloud,” which would run only Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps obtained from the Store.
Microsoft has said nothing about the purpose of the new settings or confirmed the reports of Windows 10 Cloud. But when the new options were applied, they touted themselves as making devices “safe and reliable.”
When asked today for more information about the thinking behind the installation options, a company spokeswoman repeated a stock statement about the Insider program that included the line, “We regularly test new features and changes to existing features to see what resonates well with our fans.”
By limiting Windows 10 to only the apps on the Windows Store, Microsoft will follow in the footsteps of Apple’s iOS and macOS, as well as Google’s Chrome OS. Each of those operating systems block all software but that hosted in a vetted mart, or in the case of macOS, let users choose the option. (The new Windows 10 setting is most like macOS’s “Gatekeeper,” which debuted in 2012’s Mountain Lion.)
In iOS, for instance, the App Store serves as the only sanctioned software gateway; iPhone owners must “jailbreak” their smartphones for it to install apps not in the store. The practice has largely kept iOS devices malware free.
John Pescatore, the director of SANS, has argued for years that the best security move Microsoft could take would be to mimic iOS, and restrict what runs on the OS. He repeated his call in a recent interview.
“Look at iPhones and Android, they live without AV [antivirus] software,” Pescatore said. “iOS and Android were built with app store construction and the Internet in mind,” he added, pointing out that unauthorized executable code — whether legitimate or malware — could not be run on iOS.
“Unfortunately, Windows 10 still has much in it that was built before the Internet,” Pescatore continued. “So, it’s easy for executables to work.” Since 2003 — when Pescatore was with Gartner Research — he’s argued that Microsoft should restrict runnable code.
NetMarketShare’s monthly OS usage figures show that Windows 10 use is growing but it is still a long way behind the aging and insecure Windows 7.
Windows 10’s share went from 24.36 percent share to 25.30 percent globally which was a 0.94 percent gain. So, it is on a quarter of all systems and growing by nearly a percentage point is impressive too. This is important because Windows 10 is no longer free, so each of those increases means money is changing hands.
Windows 7 dropped 1.14 percentage points in January, but it still has 47.20 percent share. Even if this month’s statistics are repeated, which is unlikely, it will take a year before Windows 10 overtakes Windows 7.
The Creators Update, out in April, could help accelerate Windows 10’s growth but it is more likely that Windows 7 will stay on PCs until they die, which is becoming a much longer time frame.
The god-awful Windows 8.1’s share remained on 6.90 percent, while Windows 8 dropped just 0.04 percentage points. XP use grew by 0.1 percentage points, and still has 9.07 percent share.
The Galaxy Tab S3 and the Galaxy Book were presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in past years the scene of major Samsung launches. This year, Samsung has postponed the presentation of the Galaxy S8, its next key device.
Instead, it took the wraps off the Galaxy Tab S3 and the Galaxy Book, which comes in a 10.6-inch and a 12-inch version.
The Galaxy Book will run on Microsoft Windows 10. The Tab S3 will have speakers by Harman-owned AKG, Samsung’s first use of the brand since agreeing to buy Harman for $8 billion last year.
Samsung withdrew the Galaxy Note 7 last October after faulty batteries led some devices to catch fire, leading to a loss of consumer trust, wiping out $5.3 billion of operating profit, and allowing Apple’s iPhone to overtake it in sales.
Samsung’s smartphone market share dropped to 17.7 percent in the fourth quarter, while Apple’s rose to 17.8 percent, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.
Samsung is expected to launch the S8 in April. In the meantime, dozens of device makers are launching new phones at Mobile World Congress, hoping to exploit the gap Samsung has left.
For those who came in late, Apple put Intel under the bonnet of some of its iPhone 7s. This gave Intel shedloads of free support from the US trade press. After all, if Apple had put its modem into the iPhone then it must be super cool and advanced too.
The suggestion was that the only reason that Intel did not get the full LTE modem contract for its iPhones was because they weren’t equipped to support legacy CDMA networks such as those used by Verizon and Sprint.
However, that was not exactly true and it was more likely that it was part of an overall campaign by Apple to force Qualcomm to drop its prices. This campaign recently expanded to a complaint to the iTC and other court action by Apple.
Now it seems that Intel is positioning itself to take the entire modem contract. Its new 7560 Baseband Processor can manage LTE Category 16/13, with download speeds of 1Gbps and upload speeds of 225Mbps. It supports up to 8×4 MIMO, up to 35 LTE bands, and all the current evolutions of LTE, GSM, and CDMA.
The question is if Apple will want to spite Qualcomm that much. The problem is that Qualcomm modems are far better that what Intel has on offer. Apple had to throttle the Qualcomm modems it installed in the iPhone 7 so that the Intel modems did not look so bad.
Intel now is at Cat 16 and Qualcomm already announced Cat 18 modem with 1.2Gbps speeds, or 20 percent better. It feels like Intel is always at least one step behind Qualcomm.
Strategically Apple does not really need the advanced modem features that Qualcomm offers and most of its users might not spot the difference. At the moment Qualcomm is providing technology which is ahead of what Apple needs at the moment but that cannot last. If Apple does go all Intel for the iPhone 8 it is almost certain that it will change its mind for later models.
While research groups like IDC and Gartner have shown an overall 15.6 decrease in worldwide tablet shipments in 2016, the market has not gone entirely belly-up, as Amazon continues to pull ahead with a phenomenal 99.4 percent increase in annual tablet growth during the same period.
According to a report by the folks at TrendForce, Amazon managed to ship 11 million Fire-series tablets over the course of 2016 even as global tablet shipments fell by 6.6 percent from the previous year. While the sales numbers were impressive, the company still fell behind Apple at 27 percent of the market and Samsung at 17.2 percent, yet managed to beat expectations as a result of strong year-end holiday sales.
Apple also pulled ahead with strong tablet sales last year and retained its top spot, selling 42 million devices to Samsung’s 27 million. A few weeks ago, we wrote that IDC may have regretted telling the media to rely on expectations that the fruit-themed device company would allegedly oversee the decline of traditional PC sales by 2015. While traditional PC sales dropped 5.7 percent to 260.2 million in 2016, they still remain an impressive part of the overall device market and have not fallen as quickly as tablets have over the past year.
TrendForce expects tablet sales to continue declining from 157.4 million units in 2016 to around 147.8 million units 2017. While Amazon nearly doubled its annual shipments and Apple enjoyed strong iPad sales over the holiday season, other brands such as Microsoft are expected to fall into 7th place as the company experiences panel shortages for its Surface Pro series.
For a limited time, Amazon will occasionally offer its 7-inch 8GB Fire Essentials bundle and its 16GB Fire Essentials Bundle at discounted prices. For instance, the former had been available for $33.33 in November and $49.99 until earlier this month, along with free Prime shipping. The company is expected to offer similar deals throughout the year in an effort to strengthen its sales base from loyal Prime customers.
European Union data protection watchdogs are indicating they are still concerned about the privacy settings of Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system despite the U.S. company announcing changes to the installation process.
The watchdogs, a group made up of the EU’s 28 authorities responsible for enforcing data protection law, wrote to Microsoft last year expressing concerns about the default installation settings of Windows 10 and users’ apparent lack of control over the company’s processing of their data.
The group – referred to as the Article 29 Working Party -asked for more explanation of Microsoft’s processing of personal data for various purposes, including advertising.
“In light of the above, which are separate to the results of ongoing inquiries at a national level, even considering the proposed changes to Windows 10, the Working Party remains concerned about the level of protection of users’ personal data,” the group said in a statement which also acknowledged Microsoft’s willingness to cooperate.
Microsoft was not immediately available to comment.
A number of national authorities have already begun enquiries into Windows 10, including France which in July ordered Microsoft to stop collecting excessive user data.
The EU privacy group said that despite a new installation screen presenting users with five options to limit or switch off Microsoft’s processing of their data, it was not clear to what extent users would be informed about the specific data being collected.
Microsoft uses data collected through Windows 10 for different purposes, including advertising, the group said in its statement said.
“Microsoft should clearly explain what kinds of personal data are processed for what purposes. Without such information, consent cannot be informed, and therefore, not valid.”
The fatal clock timing flaw that causes switches, routers and security appliances die after about 18 months of service is apparently a feature of some Juniper products.
Cisco was the first vendor to post a notice about the problem earlier this month saying the notice covers some of the company’s most widely deployed products, such as certain models of its Series 4000 Integrated Services Routers, Nexus 9000 Series switches, ASA security devices and Meraki Cloud Managed Switches.
Juniper is telling its customers something similar:
“Although we believe the Juniper products with this component are performing normally as of February 13, 2017, the [listed] Juniper products could after the product has been in operation for at least 18 months begin to exhibit symptoms such as the inability to boot, or cease to operate. Recovery in the field is not possible. Juniper product with this supplier’s component were first placed into service on January 2016. Jupiter is working with the component supplier to implement a remediation. In addition, Juniper’s spare parts depots will be purged and updated with remediated products.”
The products in the warning comprise 13 Juniper switches, routers and other products including the MPC7E 10G, MPC7E (multi rate), MX2K-MPC8E, EX 920 Ethernet switches and PTX3000 integrated photonic line card.
So far neither Cisco nor Juniper have blamed Intel for the fault. However, Chipzilla did describe a flaw on its Atom C2000 chip which is under the bonnet of shedloads of net gear.
Intel said that problems with its Atom chip will hurt Intel’s 2016 Q4 earnings. CFO Robert Swan said that Intel was seeing a product quality issue in the fourth quarter with slightly higher expected failure rates under certain use and time constraints.
Swan said that it will be fixed with a minor design fix that Intel was working with its clients to resolve.
Intel had hoped it would see the back of its short-lived low-power Atom chips for servers. They were used in micro servers but also networking equipment from companies.
HPE and Dell are keeping quiet about the clock technology, though both are rumoured to use it. They might be hoping that Intel will come up with a fix so they can pretend it never happened.
Facebook is closing around 200 of its 500 Oculus Rift virtual-reality demo stations at Best Buy locations across the US.
Apparently the move is because of poor “store performance” which is spin for the fact that few people are even trying the technology out.
Business Insider claims it is common for them to go days without giving a single demonstration.
Oculus spokeswoman Andrea Schubert insisted that the closings were due to “seasonal changes”.
“You can still request Rift demos at hundreds of Best Buy stores in the US and Canada. We still believe the best way to learn about VR is through a live demo,” she enthused.
Best Buy said stores that no longer offer demos will continue to sell the Oculus Rift headset and accompanying touch controllers. But it apparently interests in the headsets dried up after Christmas.
Another worker from California said that Oculus software bugs would often render his demo headsets unusable.