Mark Wilson

Windows 10 Anniversary Update is shaping up to be something really special


Windows 10 has been the subject of a lot of criticism since it launched, including quite a lot from me. But at the same time, Microsoft reports that the latest version of its operating system is installed on a staggering quarter of a billion devices. The company must be doing something right. Where Windows 10 succeeds -- particularly for Windows Insiders -- is that it is constantly evolving.

Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14328 is the latest build out of the door and it shows great signs of improvement. It might be a little early to call it, but if this massive update is anything to go by, the summer release of Windows 10 Anniversary Edition (or Windows 10 Anniversary Update) could be the real turning point for Windows 10 when it manages to win over the doubters and jump to justified -- rather than forced -- dominance. Build 14328 is a big update, and there's a lot to love.

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Microsoft reveals all about Windows 10's Linux subsystem

Windows-10 key

The arrival of Bash in Windows 10 took many people by surprise, but it opens up a number of opportunities including the ability to run GUI Linux apps. But it's about much more than just that. Microsoft wants people who are confused about the arrival of (deep breath...) Bash on Ubuntu on Windows to know of the potential, and has produced an explainer about the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Microsoft's Deepu Thomas says that the subsystem was created by the Microsoft Windows Kernel team, and goes on to explain that this is much more than an interpretation layer or virtual machine. In fact, the Windows Subsystem for Linux was born from work carried out years ago for the NT kernel that was meant to bring POSIX and OS/2 support.

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Hacker finds Facebook backdoor leaking usernames and passwords


The use of bounty programs to track down security vulnerabilities in websites and software is increasingly common these days, and it's a tactic employed by Facebook. One bounty hunter -- or penetration tester -- hacked his (or her… they are anonymous) way into the social network and made the shocking discovery that someone had already installed a backdoor.

Orange Tsai managed to compromise a Linux-based staff server and found there was already a piece of malware in place syphoning off usernames and passwords. These account details were being transmitted to a remote computer, and after revealing this to Facebook, Tsia pocketed $10,000 as a reward.

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US Justice Department accesses another iPhone without Apple’s help


When it came to the San Bernardino iPhone, Apple was ready to dig in its heels and refuse to help the FBI to gain access to the encrypted contents. As it turns out, the company needn’t have bothered shouting as a third party helped instead. Now the same thing has happened with another iPhone.

This time around, the Justice Department had been looking for help accessing an iPhone at the center of a drugs case in New York. But now federal prosecutors have said they no longer need Apple’s help as they have managed to get by the lockscreen.

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Apple tells developers watchOS apps must work without an iPhone


Apple has announced to developers that, starting June 1, all watchOS apps submitted for inclusion in the App Store must be native apps based on watchOS 2 SDK. What this means in practice is that Apple Watch apps must function without an iPhone.

This is something that has plagued wearables from other manufacturers -- including Samsung -- and the new rules will almost certainly go down well with consumers. Ultimately this should lead to an improvement in the quality of Apple Watch apps, as developers will be forced to build in more functionality.

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Woz: Apple should pay half its income in tax


The tax arrangements of international technology companies have been in the spotlight for a little while now. Few people disagree with the idea that they should be paying their way when it comes to tax, and one of these people is Steve Wozniak. He thinks Apple should pay tax at a rate of 50 percent -- just like him.

Just like Amazon, Facebook and Google, Apple manages to avoid a great deal of tax by channeling money through a subsidiary located in the Republic of Ireland. This reduces its tax bill dramatically by avoiding the UK corporation tax of 20 percent, and instead paying the Irish rate of 12.5 percent. Apple co-founder Woz feels the company should be paying the same rate that he has to.

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Facebook to filter out News Feed crap by timing how long you read articles


Facebook has been going a little crazy with News Feed updates of late, making constant changes in a bid to ensure that people see content they actually want to read. The real motivation may be ad revenue, but it's always pushed as surfacing (ouch... sorry... I slipped into buzzword mode...) more relevant content. The new changes are no different.

The most recent update to the feed algorithm will take into account not only which news articles people click on, but how long they spend reading them. This will help Facebook to not only determine what sort of article interest users but also help the social network to identify clickbait that doesn't deliver what it promises.

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Dotcom: If you're still using Mega, back up your cloud-based files right now


It seems that Mega -- the enfant terrible of the cloud storage world -- could be on the brink of closure. Founder of Mega (formerly known as Mega Upload), Kim Dotcom took to Twitter to warn people to back up their files ASAP.

Not for the first time, Mega is out of the control of Dotcom, and is currently in the hands of what he refers to as "the fifth most wanted criminal in China". For many people the idea of their cloud storage being in criminal hands would be concerning enough, but Dotcom says that Bill Liu wants to float the company in Hong Kong.

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It cost HOW MUCH to crack the San Bernardino iPhone?!


There are a lot of questions still to be answered about the San Bernardino iPhone that saw the FBI and Apple go head to head. After something of a battle, the FBI found someone to crack the iPhone. But who exactly did it? How did they do it? Will Apple be told how to do it in private? But one question that has also been lurking in the background is just how much it cost to hack into a single iPhone.

Now we know the answer. Not precisely, but we have a pretty good idea. Perhaps unsurprisingly, cracking the iPhone at the center of one of the most interesting technology cases in recent history, was not cheap. In a somewhat roundabout way, FBI Director James Comey revealed that the cost was more than $1.34 million.

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With security and privacy in mind, will more browsers follow Opera's lead and offer free VPN?


The modern internet user is somewhat paradoxical -- looking to be more connected and contactable than ever before, whilst simultaneously seeking privacy. Can the two ideas live side by side? It's a tricky balancing act, but many people turn to VPN tools to increase their security and privacy online.

Opera is the first web browser to bundle a free VPN tool as standard (with unlimited VPN data, no less), and it's hard to imagine that the competition won’t follow suit. Nothing has yet been announced, but the appearance of versions of Chrome or Firefox with integrated VPN would hardly be a surprise -- or would it? And how would you feel about a VPN tool supplied by Google?

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Google Inbox makes it easier to manage links, newsletters and calendar events


When it comes to email, Google is about more than just Gmail. With Inbox, Google has looked to simplify and automate email, and today the company announces three new features that take this further.

But Google doesn't think that 'features' is strong enough a word; instead these are 'experiences'. Specifically, there are new experiences that make it easier to keep track of calendar events, manage the links you email to yourself, and view all of the newsletters you subscribe to.

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ITIF says Europe is 'misguided' in bringing antitrust allegations against Google


The EU may be bringing an antitrust case against Google in relation to its Android operating system, but the ITIF (Information Technology & Innovation Foundation) thinks that this is 'misguided'. Rather than Google harming customer choice, the institute says that it is the case against Google that should be in the spotlight.

Google has made much of the fact that Android is open source, and the ITIF says that "holding 'open' operating systems to higher standard only hurts consumer choice". Vice President Daniel Castro says that the Android ecosystem reduces costs for consumers, increases choice, and complains that the European Commission has failed to give details of precisely how consumers are being harmed by Google.

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Google denies Android breaches EU antitrust rules


The European Union has charged Google with anticompetitive behaviour, saying that the company abused the dominance of Android in the mobile marketplace. Regulators have taken exception to Google's requirement on phone manufacturers to install Chrome and Google search, saying that this stifles innovation and limits user choice.

Unsurprisingly, Google disagrees and has hit back at the charges saying that "our business model keeps manufacturers' costs low and their flexibility high, while giving consumers unprecedented control of their mobile devices". More than this, Google says it prides itself on having built a sustainable ecosystem built on open source software. It also says that Android has been designed in such a way that is "good for competition and for consumers".

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EFF sues Justice Department to discover if secret orders are used to decrypt user data


EFF (the Electronic Frontier Foundation) has filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department. The digital rights group wants to learn whether the government has made use of secret court orders to force tech companies to provide access to encrypted user data.

After the Apple vs the FBI battle, there has been renewed interest in how companies handle not only encryption, but government requests for access to such data. With services such as WhatsApp enabling end-to-end encryption, attention has now switched to what might be happening in the background without users' knowledge. While Apple very publicly refused to provide decryption keys, EFF -- and others -- are concerned that secret court orders may be used to hide what is really happening.

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China wants Apple's source code, but Apple refuses to hand over the goods


Apple has revealed that Chinese authorities have asked for access to the company's source code in the last couple of years. The revelation was made by Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell as he tried to deflect accusations that have sprung up in the wake of the San Bernardino iPhone case.

The battle between Apple and the FBI rumbled on for a while as authorities asked the iPhone manufacturer to crack encryption or provide a backdoor into the phone at the center of the case. Apple refused to help the FBI, leading to accusations that the company was failing to help US authorities whilst assisting those abroad. Apple categorically denies handing over information to the Chinese authorities.

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