Advertising is unavoidable online. "Ah... but I have AdBlock Plus installed!" I hear you cry. It doesn't matter. You may not see advertising, but it still affects your online experience; this is particularly true if you are BuzzFeed reader. I'm not in the habit of criticizing others in the trade -- and I realize that I'm opening myself up for attack here -- but BuzzFeed is a site filled largely with listicles (lovely words) and churnalism (ditto), headlines sucking up to Google left, right and center.
But for all of the coffee-break-filling articles it pumps out each day, it is the articles that have been deleted that have generated more interest recently. About a week ago one BuzzFeed writer resigned after an article she wrote that was critical of Dove soap ads was pulled. BuzzFeed conducted a review, and this weekend details of the findings came out. It transpires that this is not the first time posts have been deleted because of a conflict of interest between editorial and advertising. BuzzFeed may not be a particularly influential site, but it's worrying nonetheless.
Earlier this week, Cyanogen Inc announced that it has entered into a partnership with Microsoft to bundle some apps into its future Android-based operating system. While the companies meticulously chalked out most of the specifics of their collaboration -- and how it wouldn't much affect consumers in the coming months -- many people and even some news outlets are having a hard time understanding these facts, and have started to make bold, misleading conclusions.
Wired, for instance, believes that this tie-up between the two companies will end up taking Android’s future out of Google’s hands. I think they are wrong, and much to the contrary, I believe that this alliance will only be good for Google (and Android). Here’s why.
Microsoft is a company that can do no wrong lately. It is wisely focusing on devices and services -- its cross-platform support is a total 180 degree turn from years past. Hell, the company is even embracing open source lately, showing that it is listening to customers and taking advantage of industry trends.
When Microsoft Open Technologies was founded as a subsidiary of Microsoft -- under Steve Ballmer's reign -- many in the open source community hailed it as a major win, and it was. Today, however, the subsidiary is shutting down and being folded into Microsoft. While some will view this as a loss for open source, I disagree; Microsoft has evolved so much under Satya Nadella, that a separate subsidiary is simply no longer needed.
Microsoft comes under fire quite often for seeming to favor Android and iOS over its own mobile platforms. Apple and Google's mobile operating system have been first in line for all manner of Microsoft apps and services, and it was much the same story with the mobile versions of Office.
Today Microsoft is taking steps to allay the concerns of Windows Phone users -- you have not been forgotten! Specifically, the company says that the preview version of Office Universal apps will, or at least should, be made available for Windows 10 for phones by the end of the month.
Believe it or not, a year has passed since Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP. And even though the 13 year-old operating system no longer receives security updates -- at least not officially -- it is still being used by roughly 17 percent of Windows users. For some companies it is reason enough to continue to support Windows XP today, even though its maker has long left it for dead. And Google is one of them.
Six months after Windows XP support ended, Google announced that its Chrome browser would continue to be supported on the OS with "regular updates and security patches until at least April 2015". That was done in order to give its users more time to finish migrating to a newer Windows release, one that would, hopefully, be officially supported by Microsoft for many more years to come. Obviously, that hasn't gone as expected. But instead of pulling the plug, Google is now giving Chrome users on Windows XP another reprieve.
Microsoft thinks that typing on a mobile device is difficult. At the same time it understands that "you love to discover images" on the very same devices. To help make your mobile searches a little easier to conduct, the company is introducing a number of tweaks and changes to the iOS and Android Bing app.
Of course it is not possible to entirely eliminate the need to input words in order to conduct a search, but Microsoft has taken steps to reduce it to an absolute minimum. How has this been done? Enter simple search terms and you're provided with a couple of new ways to drill down to exactly what it is you're looking for with just a few taps.
Yahoo's search deal with Microsoft just gets worse by the day. Six years ago, when announced, I called the agreement "Christmas in July" for Google. My prediction then: The combined entity would cannibalize from Y while taking little from G. Bing would be the big beneficiary, and its painful gains have been punishing.
March 2015 U.S. search share figures are out from comScore, raising a milestone that is no cause for celebration. Bing reached 20.1 percent, or about where Yahoo was in the months before announcing its deal with Microsoft, which essentially came to power Y searches. Yahoo is 12.7 percent. Combined they're at 32.8 percent, which is up from 28.6 percent five years earlier. The dent to Google is minimal, with share falling to 64.4 percent last month from 65.1 percent in March 2010. Aggregated gains came from other providers, such as AOL. not from the market leader. In fact, if not for Mozilla swapping G for Y as Firefox's default search engine, there would be no meaningful gains from Google whatsoever.
Future Android-based builds and ROMs from Cyanogen Inc will ship with bundled Microsoft apps, as the startup has signed a deal with the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant. The partnership will result in Microsoft apps and services such as Bing, Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, as well as productivity suite Office among others being prominently showcased on Cyanogen’s software.
The collaboration between the two companies doesn’t come as a surprise as many similar rumors started to crop up when a news outlet reported that Microsoft was making an investment in Cyanogen Inc. The partnership is a win-win situation for both of the companies.
The Microsoft Band has been available over in the US for quite some time now, and fitness band fanatics have had to wait patiently for the device to become available over here -- but the good news is, you can now buy one in the UK.
Yes, if you scoot on over to the official Microsoft web store, there’s a big "buy now" button you can click to get your fitness wristband. And how much will it set you back? £170 including VAT.
To compete in the low-end smartphone market, Windows Phone vendors have opted for the sensible approach of prioritizing cost over features. As a result, there are plenty of affordable options to choose from that can be had for much less than $100 off-contract. The downside is that the low-end Windows Phones that more demanding consumers might want to buy are few and far between.
Those smartphones may cost more -- much more compared to an entry-level Microsoft-branded offering like Lumia 435 -- but they are also much more enjoyable, and better equipped for long-term usage. And the new Lumia 540 Dual SIM that Microsoft just unveiled more than fits the bill.
At the beginning of the week rumors started to creep out that Nokia was interested in buying Alcatel-Lucent. The story started with a report on Bloomberg and -- rather surprisingly for such rumors -- Nokia decided to not only comment on the rumor, but confirm that it is true.
Details are still rather thin on the ground and there's no hint at a possible timescale for a buyout of the French telecoms firm. What the statement does do, however, is open up the interesting possibility that Nokia could be on the verge of re-entering the smartphone market after offloading the handset side of its business to Microsoft.
Microsoft has announced the official availability of the new Skype for Business client and Skype for Business Online, only a month after releasing the first product as a technical preview. Rolling out now, Skype for Business is set to quickly replace Lync, with all customers expected to be upgraded by the end of May 2015.
The client is rolling out as part of the April monthly upgrade for Office 2013, while its Online counterpart just started to make its way to Office 365 customers across the globe. However, customers who need "a little more time" to migrate over to Skype for Business Online are given the option to switch between it and Lync.
A serious security hole leaves millions of Windows users open to attack, making it possible to extract encrypted credentials from a target machine. Researchers at Cylance say the problem affects "any Windows PC, tablet or server" (including Windows 10) and is a slight progression of the Redirect to SMB attack discovered by Aaron Spangler way back in 1997.
Redirect to SMB is essentially a man-in-the-middle attack which involves taking control of a network connection. As the name suggests, victims are then redirected to a malicious SMB server which can extract usernames, domains and passwords. Cylance also reports that software from companies such as Adobe, Oracle and Symantec -- including security and antivirus tools -- are affected.
The wait is now over for fans of Game of Thrones. After a slight break, the first episode of season five aired last night and there were plenty of ways to watch it: HBO NOW for Apple users, or Sling TV to name two legal options, or you could opt to grab a torrent of the first four episodes after they leaked online.
For anyone who wants to see the first episode for free, while staying on the right side of the law, there's another option. Microsoft has announced that the Season 5 premiere is available free of charge to Xbox Live members. There's extra content available too, but you'll have to be quick as S05E01 is only available for a few days.
Build 10056 of Windows 10 Technical Preview -- which leaked online in the last few days -- has a hidden dark theme. If you have grabbed a copy of this particular build, you'll have noticed that there are a few tweaks here and there such as a resizable Start menu and a redesigned system clock.
But if you're happy to tinker with the registry, you can unlock a whole new look for the operating system, taking Windows 10 to the dark side. It brings to the desktop version of Windows 10 a theme option reminiscent of Windows Phone. Pull on your registry editing pants... we're going in.