Mihaita Bamburic

Happy SysAdmin Day -- we're giving away $700 worth of software to celebrate

Red Cake

The last Friday in July may not mean much to the average person, but it holds a special place in techies' hearts. It's System Administrator Appreciation Day. And we're celebrating it today, for the fifteenth time, with a giveaway!

As we cannot offer you any cake, ice cream or pizza (although would sure love to), we have 10 licenses for System Mechanic to give away instead, courtesy of the software's maker iolo which has reached out to us to make this happen. Every BetaNews reader can enter the giveaway.

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Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 lockscreen app close to launch

Windows Phone 8.1 Lockscreen

The option to change the Windows Phone 8.1 lockscreen is a new feature Microsoft showcased in early-April, at the unveiling of its new operating system, but that is not yet ready for prime time. As you may recall, Windows Phone head Joe Belfiore has said that it will be available later down the road through a dedicated app.

But, how close are we to its release? Well, Belfiore says that the development of the lockscreen app is in its final stages, with the software giant and prolific Windows Phone developer Rudy Huyn (who also works on the lockscreen app, as announced at Build 2014) now focusing on "loose ends".

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Microsoft's Q4 FY2014 earnings by the numbers

printing-money

Microsoft has released its earnings results for the fourth fiscal quarter of the year (that is Q2 CY2014), posting revenue of $23.38 billion, gross margin of 15.79 billion and operating income of $6.48 billion. As a result, earnings per share (EPS) came in at $0.55 (below analyst expectations of $0.60).

Revenue, gross margin and operating income are higher than a year before, when they reached 19.89 billion, 14.29 billion and 6.07 billion, respectively. However, EPS is lower, dropping from $0.59. "We are galvanized around our core as a productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world, and we are driving growth with disciplined decisions, bold innovation, and focused execution", says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "I'm proud that our aggressive move to the cloud is paying off -- our commercial cloud revenue doubled again this year to a $4.4 billion annual run rate".

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Meet Nokia Lumia 530 -- Microsoft's new entry-level Windows Phone 8.1 device

Lumia-530-With-Coloud-Bang-Treasure-Tag

Nokia Lumia 520 has proved to be an extremely important entry-level handset for Windows Phone, allowing the platform to reach more consumers and become more relevant in emerging markets. Its successor has to live up to high expectations, as it has to exceed the 12 million activations mark quicker than Lumia 520 has managed to, in order to be considered a success. That is no easy task, when the competition in the entry-level smartphone market is heating up.

So does the new Lumia 530 have what it takes to become a worthy Lumia 520 successor? Well, it at least gets off on the right foot, as Microsoft says its new Windows Phone 8.1 entry-level offering is expected to cost €85 before any local taxes and subsidies, and under €100 "on the highstreet". And that goes for the Dual SIM version as well; it will play a key role in increasing Windows Phone's popularity among price-conscious buyers.

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Microsoft account Android app simplifies using two-factor authentication

Microsoft account logo

While two-factor authentication acts as an effective security barrier against malicious attacks, it also makes the login process more cumbersome for legitimate users by requiring them to type in security codes, on top of usernames and passwords. Luckily, there are dedicated apps that can make things easy.

One such app is Microsoft account (the choice of name is not particularly inspired), which was just released by the software giant to allow its Android users to manage -- validate or deny -- log in requests, when two-factor authentication is turned on for their Microsoft accounts.

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LG introduces faster G3

LG G3 Cat. 6

Following in the footsteps of fellow maker Samsung, LG just unveiled a beefed-up version of its current flagship smartphone, G3. Called G3 Cat. 6, the new Android handset comes with a faster processor and support for speedier cellular networks as its main highlights.

G3 Cat. 6, like Galaxy S5 LTE-A, is compatible with LTE-Advanced cellular networks, that enable top download speeds of up to 225 Mbps (theoretically speaking) courtesy of the Qualcomm Gobi 9 x 35 modem. In the power department, LG's device employs a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor to do the heavy lifting.

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Xiaomi announces Mi 4 flagship smartphone

Xiaomi Mi 4

Chinese maker Xiaomi has unveiled its new flagship Android smartphone. Dubbed Mi 4, it is described by the company's Global VP Hugo Barra as the "fastest & most gorgeous Mi Phone ever".

Mi 4 comes with hardware specifications that are typical of an Android flagship announced in 2014. It packs a 5-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1080 by 1920, and is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. Pretty standard stuff, except for the price.

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Tweetium arrives on Windows Phone

Twitter introduces custom timelines

The official Twitter app may be good enough for casual Windows Phone use, but only a third-party client has all the right features for the social network's power users. While there already are a couple of good picks available in Store, the arrival of Tweetium, best known as one of the most fully-featured Twitter clients for Windows 8.x, just beefed-up the selection.

The developer, B-side Software, has released Tweetium as a beta. It is meant to be tested just by "select" existing "customers", according to its Store description, but we can still take a look.

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BBM for Windows Phone available to beta testers

BBM logo

You may recall that, earlier this month, BBM finally made its way to Windows Phone Store, after arriving on Android and iOS last year. It was not made publicly available, as BlackBerry chose to conduct a beta testing trial before its official launch.

As one of the folks who quickly signed up for the beta program, I just received an email from BlackBerry detailing what sort of features are available to test, what the known problems are, and how to provide feedback. Here is what fellow beta testers can expect.

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Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs as part of new restructuring plan

Job Jobs Cut Cuts

Today, as part of an expected restructuring plan, Microsoft announces that it will cut 18,000 jobs within a year. The company claims this move will "simplify its organization and align the recently acquired Nokia Devices and Services business with the company's overall strategy". Yes, basically, Microsoft wants to get rid of excess employees, and the software giant is doing so following Satya Nadella's last memo to employees.

Of the 18,000 jobs to be cut, 12,500 positions are to be eliminated as a direct result of its deal with Nokia. The job cuts are not expected to be carried out completely until the end of June, 2015, and will cost Microsoft between $1.1 and $1.6 billion, which includes between $750 and $800 million in severance packages. The writing has been on the wall since the Devices and Services purchase was finalized earlier this year.

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Got Windows Phone 8.1 through Preview for Developers? Lumia Cyan upgrades may fail

Lumia-Cyan-update-Start-screen

Microsoft has introduced Preview for Developers to give Windows Phone users early access to new releases, specifically betas, of the tiled operating mobile system. The program is also supposed to ensure a seamless upgrade path to the official firmware, once it is available.

While I have had no issues upgrading to an official firmware ever since I started using Preview for Developers in late-2013, it looks like there might be a problem in upgrading to Lumia Cyan for those of us who have relied on the program to install Windows Phone 8.1.

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LG announces G3 Beat

LG G3 Beat s

Top Android manufacturers have made a habit of releasing smaller versions of their flagship smartphones. Samsung is doing it. HTC is doing it as well. And LG is no exception. But, unlike its fellow vendors, it is not calling it a "mini". Meet G3 Beat.

Also unlike Samsung and HTC, which give their mini-flagships small displays, LG opts for a 5-inch panel; it is as large as what One (M8) offers and not that much smaller than what Galaxy S5 comes with. Let us take a look at what G3 Beat has to offer.

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Deutsche Telekom to preload Dropbox on its Android devices

new dropbox logo

Cloud storage service Dropbox has detailed a new partnership with mobile operator Deutsche Telekom, that will result in its Android app being preloaded on the majority of devices sold in certain parts of Europe by the German company and its subsidiaries.

This partnership also impacts Deutsche Telekom's current customer base, who will be helped to "discover" Dropbox. The Android devices that will come preloaded with the app will be available, starting in October, in Central and Eastern European markets.

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Nokia Lumia 635 coming to AT&T

Nokia Lumia 635 AT&T

Lumia 635 is one of the three Nokia-branded Windows Phone 8.1 devices announced so far. It is designed to compete in the low-end smartphone market, where it goes up against similarly-priced handsets from rival Android manufacturers. It is also the only device in its lineup to officially reach US shores, with T-Mobile being the first local mobile operator to announce its availability.

But Lumia 635 will also be available at another US mobile operator. Starting July 25, AT&T will offer the Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone through its GoPhone prepaid service and, starting August 8, the device will also be available through the mobile operator's online and brick and mortar stores.

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Nokia Lumia Cyan firmware upgrade finally rolls out

Lumia-Cyan-update-Start-screen

Today, Microsoft announces that the highly-anticipated Nokia Lumia Cyan firmware upgrade, that comes with Windows Phone 8.1 in tow, is now finally rolling out across the globe for the existing Nokia-branded Windows Phone 8 lineup.

Windows Phone 8.1 will officially arrive on all Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices "in the coming weeks", according to Microsoft. Previously, Lumia users had to join the Preview for Developers program -- which offers early access to new Windows Phone releases, including betas -- in order to get the latest version of the tiled operating system on their Windows Phone 8 devices. Here is what Nokia Lumia Cyan offers.

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