Today's Microsoft event was almost entirely about Windows 10 as expected, but there were a couple of surprises too. Among these was HoloLens a virtual reality, augmented reality, Google Glass hybrid that makes use of holograms for a totally immersive experience. We're used to Microsoft offering a unique window on the world, but this is something completely different.
Like Google Glass and virtual reality systems before it, HoloLens relies on a headset, and this is used to overlay holographic objects onto physical objects in the real world. Like the idea of a massive monitor filling your living room wall? Rather than splashing out on a colossal screen, HoloLens could make it appear as though you have the screen of your dreams.
At the Windows 10 event today, Microsoft had a lot to talk about -- not least that Windows 10 itself will be free. But Windows 10 is all about the details, and on top of the likes of Cortana and the new notification center, Corporate Vice President of Operating Systems at Microsoft, Joe Belfiore, also revealed Spartan, the web browser that will replace Internet Explorer in Windows 10.
That's not to say that Internet Explorer is dead and buried. You'll still find the famous blue e icon waiting to be clicked if you want, but Spartan will be the new default browser. So what does Spartan have to offer that will act as a lure away from Chrome and Firefox? To kick things off, there's Cortana support.
In the world of searches, there's one name that rules supreme -- Google. But new figures show that while the search giant is still the most popular way to track down content online, it is starting to lose ground to Microsoft and Yahoo. The latest statistics from comScore are in broad agreement with those published by StatCounter a couple of weeks ago.
Both sets of numbers agree that Microsoft and Yahoo are eating into Google's lead when we look at US searches conducted in December and compare them to November. While Big G will not be happy to see that its grip on the search crown is loosening slightly, the company has little to fear just yet.
Dropbox is one of the most familiar, endearing and enduring names in the cloud, and it is continuing its expansion. The lastest addition to the fold is CloudOn, an Israeli startup with a focus on mobile productivity in the cloud that boasts 9 million users who use the service to edit Microsoft Office documents.
More accustomed to providing cloud storage, Dropbox's most recent acquisition sees the company expanding further into Europe. No details have been released about any money that may have exchanged hands, but news of the acquisition comes just days after Microsoft acquired Israeli company Equivio. So what does the acquisition of CloudOn mean?
Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before, but not everything that appears online is one hundred percent true. In fact, there's a huge amount of content that is twaddle, pish, balderdash -- and lots of people fall for it. Facebook is introducing a new feature that lets you report a story as being fake, and if enough other people do the same, the power of crowd sourcing means the story will be culled.
Did you resolve to increase your security in 2015? If the list of top passwords used in 2014 is anything to go by, a lot of people should have had this right at the top of their list of New Year's resolutions. Security and password firm SplashData has published its annual list of the most common (worst, in other words) passwords that are in use.
If there's anything positive to be taken from this terrifying list of insecurity, it's that 'password' is still not the most used password out there. It only slipped to second place last year to be replaced by '123456'. The top two positions remain the same this year, so there's not really that much cause for celebration. But the list makes for interesting reading, particularly when you consider these (supposedly) security-conscious times we live in.
It seems as though there have been quite a few acquisitions by the big names in tech recently, and the latest addition to Microsoft's portfolio is Equivio. The Israeli company specializes in text analytics, focusing mainly on helping other businesses with legal and compliance issues with data, counting the Department of Justice among its clients.
What Microsoft is particularly interested in is Equivio's machine learning technology and information governance tools, and aims to improve the eDiscover feature of Office 365. For any company managing large quantities of data, this will help to make life a good deal simpler, and help to eliminate the need for manually sifting through documents and emails.
A poll by Microsoft shows that there are vastly differing views to the technological lives we now lead. While most people believe that technology has made life better in a number of ways, there are key differences in opinion between developing and developed nations.
Countries in which advanced technology is more commonplace -- so-called developed countries -- there is an element of fear and concern that is not found in developing countries. Despite this difference in views, the overall consensus between internet users is that personal technology has had a positive impact.
When Sony Pictures was hacked, the US was quick to point the finger of blame at North Korea. Security experts may have disagreed, but newly declassified documents show that the NSA had been monitoring the nation as far back as 2010 -- and there are even hints that the US was aware of the possibility of North Korea launching some form of cyberattack.
With the help of allies such as South Korea, US intelligence services were able to tap into North Korean web traffic. The NSA also went as far as installing malware on North Korean computers with a view to monitoring the activity of key systems. New papers published by Der Spiegel show that it is this spying that helped to pin the blame for the Sony attack on NK.
If you've joined the beta channel for Google Chrome you'll have seen the browser's profile switcher some time ago. For anyone who has decided to stick with the stable channel it may just have appeared. But what's the point? Nestling in the upper right hand corner of the browser window next to your tabs, you'll see a button with your name on it.
This is not to serve as a name reminder to the forgetful, but to show which Chrome profile you’re signed into. If you've set up more than one profile you can use the menu to switch between them with ease, but if -- like most people -- you only use one, it's a waste of space and looks rather ugly. Here's how to remove the pesky profile switcher button from Chrome.
When it comes to fixing security problems, it's better for everyone involved if a patch can be released as quickly as possible. A few days ago, a critical vulnerability was discovered in Verizon's FiOS app by Randy Westergren when he found it was possible to access the mail account of any Verizon customer with relative ease.
In stark comparison to the unhurried approach adopted by Microsoft to fixing problems identified in Windows -- on more than one occasion failing to hit a public disclosure deadline set by Google -- Verizon acknowledged, investigated and fixed the problem within two days. The problem itself was worrying, but the speed of reaction is impressive.
Earlier in the week, Google managed to raise the ire of Microsoft by publishing details of a vulnerability in Windows before a patch had been published. Now the same thing has happened again, but this time it's a double whammy. Google Security Research has revealed two more security holes that Microsoft is yet to fix.
Just as was the case a few days ago, Microsoft had been warned about the security problems and Google agreed to keep details private for a period of 90 days. Now the three months is up, details of the security issues have been automatically published, running the risk that users could be targeted.
Cyber crime investigators have arrested an 18-year-old man in the UK for the attacks of the Xbox Live and PlayStation Network that took place over Christmas. This is something that Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility for, but at the moment it is not clear whether the man who has been arrested is associated with the group.
South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) worked in conjunction with the FBI and the UK's National Cyber Crime Unit to home in on the unnamed man believed to have been involved in the DDoS attacks. Thousands of gamers had their Christmases spoiled after the gaming networks were rendered inaccessible, leading Sony to offer compensation to those affected.
The US and UK usually get on pretty well, but plans are afoot for the two nations to stage cyberwar on each other. Later this year, Wall Street and the City of London will be subjected to a series of attacks that is being described as "unprecedented".
But this does not signal a breakdown in the "special relationship" that extends across the Atlantic, rather the "war games" are part of a venture between the two countries to help improve security. The aim is to expand information sharing in a bid to stave off real cyber attacks that could be launched by other nations.
The Marriott chain of hotels has backtracked on its plans to block guests' Wi-Fi hotspots. The group had previously indicated a desire to make use of blocking equipment with a view to increasing security. But the likes of Google and Microsoft saw this as undue interference and decided to fight the plans.
Marriott International went as far as applying to the FCC for permission to use signal blocking equipment, but it has now done a complete 180 and announced that no Wi-Fi blocks will be put in place.