Mark Wilson

Microsoft says it will stop spamming Android users with Office ads in the notification tray

Office 365

It feels like we complain about Microsoft a lot here. We do; in recent months there has been a lot to get upset about. There has been a lot of negativity surrounding Windows 10, so let's have a change of subject. Now Microsoft is spamming the Android notification tray with ads for Office.

The notification tray in Android serves a very specific purpose. There's a clue in the name -- and it's nothing to do with advertising. Android user Thom Holwerda was upset this week when Microsoft Office for Android starting to spam him with ads for apps he already had installed. There are many questions here, one of which is why is Microsoft ignoring Google's guidelines and using the notification tray to display ads?

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China complains about forced upgrades to Windows 10

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To say that Windows 10 has been controversial for Microsoft would be something of an understatement. The most recent cause for complaint has been a deceptive upgrade popup, described by many as a "nasty trick", which fooled users into installing the upgrade.

The company has since said that it will change the behavior of the upgrade notification, but this is not enough to silence hundreds of thousands of users in China. Microsoft stands accused of abusing its market position to force unwanted upgrades on people.

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Facebook introduces new cookies policy and allows users to opt out of tailored ads on non-Facebook sites

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When you hit Facebook today, you may well notice a new Cookies Policy warning at the top of the page. It states: "To help personalize content, tailor and measure ads, and provide a safer experience, we use cookies. By clicking or navigating the site, you agree to allow our collection of information on and off Facebook through cookies. Learn more, including about available controls: Cookies Policy". But what is it all about?

Facebook hasn’t made a great deal of fuss about it, but the social network has introduced not only a new cookies policy, but also made changes to ads. It is now possible to opt out of seeing tailored ads on non-Facebook sites. Facebook says it is all part of creating "a better online advertising experience for everyone".

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You could be held liable for cases of bank fraud if your online security isn’t up to scratch

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If you need another reason to pay attention to online security, new measures under consideration by banks could sharpen your focus. At the moment, banks in the UK frequently shoulder the cost of online fraud when customers fall victim. But all this could be set to change.

The plans being looked at by banks, GCHQ and the UK government could see people who haven’t taken care of their own online security being excluded from receiving compensation if their account is hacked.

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Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14352 includes Cortana, Ink and Feedback hub improvements

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Microsoft has pushed Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14352 to the Fast Ring. The latest build introduced a number of updates and bug fixes. One of the biggest changes is to Cortana which can now be used to control a Groove Music Catalog and set a timer.

The recently-introduced Windows Ink gains improved Sticky Notes, and the ruler now benefits from the inclusion of a compass. Gamers can now enjoy the Windows Game bar at full-screen in more games, including World of Warcraft, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, and Diablo III. Important changes have also been made to the Feedback Hub.

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Google wins trial against Oracle -- Java APIs in Android are 'fair use'

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Google has won a case brought against it by Oracle in which it was accused of infringing on copyright by using Java APIs in Android. But at the end of a two-week trial, the jury found in Google's favor saying that 'fair use' was an acceptable defense.

Had Google lost the case, it could have cost the company billions of dollars and would have set something of a precedent. This was the first major case in which a company tried to use copyright law to control the use of APIs.

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Decade-old 'forbidden attack' vulnerability affects HTTPS Visa sites

Security attack

A number of supposedly secure HTTPS sites owned by Visa are vulnerable to what has been dubbed the 'forbidden attack'. The security flaw makes it possible for hackers to inject content and code into sites, as well as opening up the possibility of performing man-in-the-middle attacks.

A team of researchers have published a paper that shows how 70,000 HTTPS servers were vulnerable to the attack, and 184 were found to be particularly at risk. While many of the affected sites have since been patched, sites belonging to Visa and Polish banking associate Zwizek Banków Polskich remain insecure because of reusing a cryptographic nonce in contravention of the TLS protocol (hence the 'forbidden' tag).

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PayPal focuses its efforts and drops Windows Phone app

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Like many other companies, PayPal is questioning the value of investing time and money in Windows Phone -- or Windows 10 Mobile, if you prefer. As of 30 June, the PayPal app for Windows Phone will be no more.

At the same time, the company is also dropping the apps for Blackberry and Amazon Fire OS. PayPal says that users will have to rely on the mobile website as it focuses "resources in creating the very best experiences for our customers".

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Mozilla welcomes privacy-boosting GDPR data protection law updates

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In a world more concerned than ever with privacy and data security, law makers are scrambling to keep up to date. With the growth of the internet, many old and inappropriate laws have been bent to fit a purpose they were not designed for. A case in point are European data protection directives which date back more than two decades.

In April this year a new law was adopted -- the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. With compliance with the law required of the 28 EU member states by 25 May 2018, a two-year countdown is now underway. GDPR is welcomed by Mozilla who is using the 24-month compliance deadline to draw attention to some of the regulation's highlights.

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Microsoft is using Windows 10 to see just how far it can push customers before they break

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If you believe what comes out of Microsoft's figurative mouth, these days the company is all about listening to feedback. That's certainly the message that has been put forward with Windows 10, with the Feedback Hub app being made available to everyone with the operating system installed. Microsoft makes much of the fact that Windows 10 is installed on around 300 million computers, but the reality is that a portion of these installations relate to people who have been hoodwinked into upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.

The latest trick (tricking users in to installing Windows 10 by clicking a button that would suggest that the offer is being declined) generated such a backlash that Microsoft has been forced into an embarrassing 'u-turn'. Annoying people with Windows 10 is far from unprecedented, and these days it seems Microsoft just likes to see how much it can get away with -- with the possibility of then saving face by 'listening to feedback' and changing tack.

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Microsoft to ditch hundreds more workers in smartphone streamlining measures

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After the sale of its feature phone business last week, Microsoft is making further structuring changes. Announcing the "additional step of streamlining our smartphone hardware business" Terry Myerson says that up to 1,850 jobs could be impacted, with the vast majority of these (1,350) being in Finland.

He also says that the company will continue "develop great new devices", no doubt fueling rumors of the highly-anticipated Surface Phone. Microsoft recognizes that its success with phones have been "limited", and Myerson's memo to employees reiterates the company’s commitment to the Windows platform, and Windows 10 in particular.

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Apple re-hires security expert of PGP, Blackphone and Silent Circle fame

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Following the company's very public stand-off with the FBI over the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, Apple is demonstrating that it has a great interest in security by re-hiring encryption expert Jon Callas.

Best known for founding security-focused firms PGP Corp and Silent Circle -- the company behind the ultra-secure, privacy-centric Blackphone -- Callas has worked for Apple on two previous occasions.

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Google's Paris headquarters raided in probe into "aggravated financial fraud and organized money laundering"

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Google's tax affairs in Europe have been the subject of some interest for a while now. Today the company's headquarters in Paris was raided by French investigators as part of an ongoing financial probe.

While other European countries have questioned whether Google is paying enough tax, in France the company finds itself accused of "aggravated financial fraud and organized money laundering". It is also accused of evading taxes by channelling money through other countries.

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Microsoft will release just two major Windows 10 updates each year

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Microsoft has quietly announced plans to reduce the number of updates that will be released each year for Windows 10. The company had previously said that there would be three 'feature updates' (like the Windows 10 Anniversary Update) per year, but this has now been scaled back to two.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft has not made a great deal of noise about the change to the majority of Windows 10 users, choosing instead to make the announcement at the WinHEC conference in Taiwan. At the event, senior program manager Chris Riggs also revealed how the update scheduling will work for consumers and businesses.

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Facebook to update Trending Topics despite denying bias

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After an investigation into Trending Topics, Facebook has concluded that there is no evidence of a liberal bias to the news that appears. Mark Zuckerberg met with key conservatives following accusations that the social network was censoring right wing news.

Despite finding 'virtually identical' numbers of conservative and liberal news, Facebook says that it will still make changes to the way Trending Topics work. It says that it is difficult to exclude the possibility of 'unintentional bias' but hopes to improve things by retraining its reviewers and ditching the current reliance on a list of news outlets as sources.

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