In the midst of the Snowden leaks, computer users are feeling very violated. After all, a personal computer is personal -- we want to feel that our data and privacy is secure. Microsoft says it best by saying "people won't use technology they don't trust".
I'm all for curbing government snooping, but what about corporations collecting information? Tech Giant's -- AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo -- reform rally is disingenuous and self-serving. These same companies collect mountains of personal information for profit. So, what? It's okay for them to snoop, but not governments?
Headlines about government surveillance of web usage all over the world have been difficult to avoid this past year. Since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on activities by the NSA, both companies and web users have been asking for greater transparency in data collection and there have been endless calls for dragnet data collection to be stopped completely. It is often the case that when confronted with a common enemy, some unlikely alliances are forged. This is certainly true with the NSA, and now Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and AOL are all coming together to present a united front and push for legal reform.
The collective has written an open letter to President Obama and congress, warning that "the balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual". There has been quite a backlash against the number of requests for data that the US government has made of companies, and the letter makes it clear that the eight companies that have joined forces are not happy:
Following Windows market share on NetApplications, as I do every month, it’s clear to me that Windows 8.x isn’t the hit Microsoft hoped for. There are several reasons for this, all of which I’ve discussed previously -- dwindling PC sales, users dislike of touch and the Modern UI, and so on.
Last month Windows 7’s growth outpaced that of Windows 8.x by four fold, and it’s not the first time the older OS has proven the more popular choice either. It’s becoming something of a regular occurrence. Adoption of the tiled OS is slow, very slow. Especially compared with the strong pick up Windows 7 enjoyed from the start.
The tech world seems to be slowling down slightly in the run up to Christmas, but there have still been a lot of stories over the past seven days. There are sure to be a whole new raft of sales to look forward to both before and after Christmas, but if the Thanksgiving sales are anything to go by they may not offer as good a deal as first appearances would have you believe. Whether you bag a bargain or not, it looks as though tech presents are going to be as popular as ever this year -- and if you buy a Windows device, you'll get a free gift card.
After Microsoft tried comparing the Surface to the iPad Air, Amazon decided to follow suit -- guess which was more popular! Microsoft kept its fire trained on Google, taking a swipe at the Chromebook. Tablet makers may be pushing their product in the run up to Christmas, but PC shipments have suffered the largest decline ever. New computers will have an updated USB connection in the near future. USB type C brings to an end a problem that has plagued anyone who has ever plugged in a USB cable -- this generation can be plugged in either way up!
You likely haven't made it this far in life without learning about prime numbers, as they are one of the fundamentals of mathematics. They are also a big part of the technology world, being used for encryption. You may not think about them everyday, but there are people out there who do, and now you can be one of them.
Microsoft is introducing the Prime Challenge, a contest to find the undiscovered prime numbers, of which there likely are quite a lot, though nobody can really say how many. "The challenge is open to all; everyone is encouraged to try and find a 'lost prime'. To enter the challenge just go to www.primechallenge.org and follow the instructions online", says Microsoft.
If you missed out on the Black Friday Surface deals, you may still have a chance to get your hands on one, provided to you free of charge. That is, if you happen to be an employee at City National Bank.
City National Bank is a private and business financial institution based in Los Angeles, California. "We looked at multiple options out there, and as soon as we saw the Surface device, we recognized right away that this was a unique device that really fit the bill for what we are looking for", says City National Bank's Senior Vice President of Business and Technology Services Jim Ellaboudy.
Whether you’re the proud owner of a shiny new (and hopefully problem free) Xbox One, or you’re thinking of getting one soon, Microsoft has plenty of great resources to help you get the most from the console, including this cheat sheet covering voice and gesture commands.
In the lead up to the launch Microsoft also released a string of videos highlighting what’s possible with the Xbox One, including how you can use Bing to search for entertainment, and showing off SkyDrive integration, as well as this great video exploring what it’s like to actually use the Xbox One. Even though the console is out now, Microsoft is continuing to release videos and the latest one offers tips and tricks narrated by Larry Hryb, Xbox LIVE's Major Nelson.
Three weeks ago Microsoft unveiled its new Cybercrime Center. Housed in a unit on the tech giant’s campus in Redmond, Wash. the center was created to tackle a wide range of internet crimes including malware, botnets, intellectual property theft and online child exploitation.
Working with Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), the FBI, and A10 Networks, Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit has just claimed a major victory, successfully disrupting the Sirefef botnet, also known as ZeroAccess.
Just over a week ago, Microsoft lashed out at Google with its latest installment in the Scroogled campaign, hiring Pawn Stars to belittle the Chromebook platform. Reaction ranged from positive to negative, but it can't be argued that it did get attention. Despite those negatives, Microsoft has no intention of backing down, and actually added another video to the archive today.
This time, the company has enlisted the aid of its popular spokesperson Ben Rudolph, "Ben the PC Guy", of "Smoked by Windows Phone" fame. Microsoft sent Rudolph out on the streets of Venice, California with a Chromebook in his hands and a camera crew in tow.
I like to consider myself to be pretty reasonable when it comes to my technology choices. Being an enthusiast, I choose my tech based on how much I think it can improve my way of living, not because I'm an Apple fanboy or inherently biased against Microsoft, or vice versa. But everything changes when it comes to the Xbox. I am a true fanboy and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
In case you've been living under a rock, Sony and Microsoft released the latest editions of their popular gaming consoles, the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. I purchased my day one edition of the Xbox One and was pretty excited to unpack it and get everything setup. Admittedly I was a little nervous after hearing about some of the show stopping issues Sony was having with consoles being dead on arrival and other massive issues plaguing the PlayStation Network. Particularly as the Xbox One hasn't escaped unscathed as users report numerous issues with their consoles, the biggest of which seems to be faulty disc drives. Microsoft has gone on record about this issue and has worked hard to quickly replace these devices. However, the tech giant hasn't said a single word about a host of other issues users are experiencing; one in particular that is gaining momentum on the official Xbox Forum concerns a controller disconnect problem. This is an issue I've personally experienced.
Microsoft took a huge gamble with Windows 8, reinventing its operating system for tablets and touch screen PCs. Unfortunately, when it was first released there really weren’t many touch devices for it to run on, and the majority of desktop users (myself included) hated the bolted on full screen Modern UI that replaced the traditional Start menu.
With Windows 8.1, a lot of the complaints aimed at the tiled OS have been addressed. Desktop users can pretty much avoid the Modern UI altogether, and overall 8.1 is a much more polished affair. Despite the improvements and near ubiquity on new hardware, Windows 8/8.1 is still struggling to find an audience. Last month, Windows 7’s growth was four times that of the newer OS. So where does Microsoft go from here? Mary Jo Foley of the All About Microsoft blog reports the answer is "Threshold".
Despite the fact we have been living with the Edward Snowden leaks regarding NSA spying since May, the story remains front page news and continues to raise questions from citizens and governments the world over. The allegations that the National Security Agency is circumventing security measures without seeking warrants is a concern, not only to every citizen, but also to major corporations which survive by promising to protect their customers' data and privacy.
Now Microsoft is taking action. Regarding the recent news stories, Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft, states "if true, these efforts threaten to seriously undermine confidence in the security and privacy of online communications. Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an 'advanced persistent threat', alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks".
Microsoft's business communications app Lync, formerly known by the catchy name of Microsoft Office Communicator, has become a go-to instant messaging service for a number of businesses. It works with contacts from Outlook and uses Microsoft Exchange Server, to help bring people together, regardless of where they are.
Now a new update to the Lync app is being pushed out, and this one is exclusively for Windows 8.1. "Based on your feedback, we made a number of improvements in this update that we think you’ll like", the Lync team announces.
NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, has once again joined forces with Microsoft to power its popular Santa tracker this holiday season. The organization made a switch in 2012 from its previous partner, Google, to Microsoft and this time the two have big plans for improved features.
Microsoft claims this is the most immersive site yet. That's likely correct, given all of the 2013 additions. Visitors can take a virtual tour of Santa's North Pole village that comes with a 3D Claymation-style look that Microsoft says was "inspired by NORAD Tracks Santa’s long history and the Claymation style classic holiday movies".