Mark Wyciślik-Wilson

Microsoft backtracks on plans to scrap free software licenses for partners

Microsoft building logo

When Microsoft announced that it was going to start charging its partners for software licenses that had previously been free, there was an understandable backlash.

Now the company has announced that it is putting these plans on hold, and free software licenses will still be available to Microsoft Partners. On the eve of its Inspire conference, Microsoft's Gavriella Schuster revealed that the decision to revoke internal use rights (IURs) has now been reversed.

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FTC to fine Facebook $5 billion for Cambridge Analytica privacy violations

Facebook magnifying glass

The Federal Trade Commission has voted to hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine for privacy violations relating to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. While this is the largest fine ever handed out by the FTC, the impact on Facebook's coffers is going to be minimal; this is how much revenue the company generates in a month.

Although the fine has not been officially confirmed -- and neither the FTC nor Facebook are commenting on the matter -- a Friday vote on the fine is said to have gone 3-2 in favor of approving it. The size of the penalty has been described variously as a "parking ticket" and "barely a tap on the wrist". Democrat Senator Ron Wyden reacted by saying: "No level of corporate fine can replace the necessity to hold Mark Zuckerberg personally responsible for the flagrant, repeated violations of Americans' privacy".

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Microsoft fixes some problems that blocked upgrades to Windows 10 version 1903

Windows 10 boxes

Installation rates for Windows 10 May 2019 Update (version 1903) remain low, and this is at least in part because Microsoft has blocked updates for many people because of a series of problems with hardware and software compatibility.

Now installation numbers may start to increase as Microsoft has removed some of these blocks -- although the company warns that it could take a little while for the update to  appear to those who were previously unable to install it.

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Microsoft Teams is more popular than Slack

Microsoft glass building logo

Microsoft has shared usage numbers for its group chat tool, Teams. The company has revealed the number of daily and weekly users for the first time, and they reveal that Microsoft Teams has overtaken Slack in popularity.

The number of daily users of Microsoft Teams stands at 13 million, while the weekly figure is 19 million. Considering the service is just two years old, to have surpassed the behemoth that is Slack is an impressive achievement.

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Yes, Google really is listening in on what you say to Google Assistant

Google Nest Hub

You may well have suspected it, but now Google has confirmed it -- contractors for the company are able to listen to what you say to Google Assistant.

The revelation came after recordings of people using the AI-powered digital assistant were leaked. Belgian broadcaster VRT News obtained a large number of Dutch language recordings and was able to hear highly personal information about users -- even if they had not used the "OK Google" trigger words.

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Microsoft sneaks telemetry into Windows 7 via security update

Windows 7 close up

Microsoft appears to be at it again, adding telemetry components into its operating system. This time around it is Windows 7 that gets the telemetry treatment, and Microsoft seems to have gone about things in a rather sneaky fashion.

The latest "security-only" update for Windows 7 includes a Compatibility Appraiser element (KB2952664) which performs checks to see whether a system can be updated to Windows 10. Hardly what most people would consider a security-only update. So what's going on?

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Ditch the HDMI cables with IOGEAR's Share Pro Mini Wireless HD Video Transmitter and Receiver [Review]


The humble HDMI cable is simultaneously brilliant, and a massive pain in the ass. Great for delivering HD video from your computer to a TV or projector, but a serious downside is the fact that, well, it's a cable. Who hasn't yearned for a wireless HDMI cable?

This is, effectively, what the Share Pro Mini Wireless HD Video Transmitter and Receiver Kit from IOGEAR is (GWHD2DKIT). It's a two-part piece of equipment that lets you stream audio and video up to 12m (40 feet) wirelessly. Best of all, there's no software involved, and no need for Wi-Fi.

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Easily share large files with Dropbox Transfer

Dropbox Transfer

Dropbox has revealed a new file sharing service that makes it possible to send files of up to 100GB.

The company says the service has been designed as a quick and easy alternative to configuring sharing and permissions, and it means that it is possible to share large files even with people who do not have Dropbox accounts.

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Apple Watch eavesdropping vulnerability forces Apple to disable Walkie-Talkie app

Apple Watch with rainbow strap

Apple has disabled the Walkie-Talkie app for Apple Watch after a vulnerability that potentially allows for eavesdropping on iPhone conversations emerged.

The company says that it is not aware of any incidents of the vulnerability being exploited, and it has not shared any details of the security issue. Apple's short-term solution is to simply disable the app while it works on a fix.

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Microsoft is retiring its 3D model repository Remix 3D

Microsoft building logo

Microsoft has emailed users of to warn them that the site is to be retired in six months' time.

The site is a repository of free 3D models designed to be used in the likes of Paint3D, PowerPoint and the Windows 10 Photos app. The move is not entirely surprising as the writing has been on the wall for some time -- references to Remix3D were removed from Paint3D some time ago, for instance.

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Apple and Zoom push out updates to remove potentially privacy-invading web server

Apple logo in squares

A few days ago, a security issue with the Zoom chat tool came to light -- a flaw that made it possible for Mac webcams to be switched on without permission. Despite seemingly suggesting that the flaw was in fact not a flaw, Zoom issued an update that grants users more control over the software.

Apple has also produced an update of its own which nukes the security hole. The silent update has been pushed out to users and is installed without the need for confirmation or user interaction.

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IBM officially acquires Red Hat for $34 billion -- Linux distros are unaffected

Red Hat and IBM

IBM has closed its acquisition of Red Hat following the statement of intent back in October. Following the $34 billion deal, Red Hat will operate as a distinct unit within IBM -- and will be reported as part of IBM's Cloud and Cognitive Software segment.

For IBM, the deal means fully embracing open source as it looks to accelerate its business model within the enterprise. For Red Hat, it means expanding its client base and working with a big player in the enterprise cloud business.

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US Court of Appeals says Trump can't block people on Twitter

Trump baby blimp

Donald Trump's love of Twitter is legendary and often ridiculed; it is also the source of frequent controversy.

The US president is huge fan of ranting, raving and venting steam in tweet storms, but his famed love of sycophants also comes to the fore. Many people who have responded to his tweets critically have found themselves blocked. Now the US Court of Appeal says this is a violation of their First Amendment rights.

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Apple updates MacBook Pro and MacBook Air -- hardware bumped, prices dropped

13-inch MacBook Pro

Timed to coincide with the back to school season, Apple has announced the latest updates to its MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. There's a special promotion which includes a free pair of Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones with a qualifying purchase too.

A price drop for the MacBook Air means that students can pick one up for as little as $999 ($1,099 for everyone else) and benefit from the addition of True Tone to the Retina Display. The entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro now features an 8th-generation quad-core processor which Apple says makes it twice as powerful as it used to be.

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Zoom for Mac has a security hole that means your webcam could be turned on without permission

Taped webcam

Time to dig out the tape and cover up your webcam. The Mac version of the video conferencing tool Zoom has been found to have a flaw that enables a website to switch on your webcam without permission, and without notification.

Despite having been discovered and reported to Zoom by a security researcher three months ago, the vulnerability is yet to be patched. In fact, Zoom disagrees that there is a security issue, although it does say that users will be granted greater control over videos in an update due for release later this month.

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