Ballmer: Microsoft Mobile Should Focus On Android Apps Not Universal Apps

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UnknowingFool writes: Former CEO Steve Ballmer had some strong opinions about the direction of Microsoft’s mobile strategy. As reported last month, Microsoft’s Project Astoria has not been received well or going well. The strategy is to help build Windows 10 apps by making universal apps via easy porting from Android. Ballmer question its effectiveness. “That won’t work,” he said. Instead he suggested that Windows phones should “run Android apps.” This is a dramatic departure from the Microsoft only focus that Ballmer championed during his tenure as CEO.

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Nokia’s $60,000 Virtual Reality Camera Goes On a Drone Test Flight

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An anonymous reader writes: After selling off its phone business to Microsoft in 2013, Nokia began an internal reboot which would see the company focusing on the upcoming virtual reality market. The company announced its new direction in July with the debut of ‘OZO’, a virtual reality camera made for professional filmmakers. Now set to launch in Q1 2016, the compact 9.3 pound camera can operate untethered thanks to internal power and capture storage, making it drone-capable. To demonstrate, Nokia took OZO on a closed test-flight just a few days ago using an ‘Aerigon’ cinema drone.

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Chrome 47 Released

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LichtSpektren writes: Google Chrome version 47 is now available for download. This release features 41 security fixes, very tiny UI changes (except for the built-in PDF viewer, which was redone entirely), and the removal of the desktop notification center. The iOS version has added new keyboard shortcuts and support for 3D touch.

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Yahoo Discussing Sale of Internet Business

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An anonymous reader writes: According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal (paywalled), Yahoo!’s board of directors is considering the sale of their internet business in a series of meetings starting today. “Growing concerns around Chief Executive Marissa Mayer’s lack of progress turning around Yahoo and an exodus of top executives have increased pressure on the company’s board to consider her future and alternatives to her turnaround attempt, now in its fourth year. … Much of the value of Yahoo’s $31 billion market capitalization is tied up in two large Asian assets, Alibaba and Yahoo Japan. Its 15% stake in Alibaba is now worth about $32 billion, and its 35% stake in Yahoo Japan is now worth about $8.5 billion. Yahoo’s cash and short-term investments totaled $5.9 billion at the end of the third quarter. That would mean investors are valuing Yahoo’s core business at less than zero if the Asian assets were spun out tax-free.”

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SSDs Approaching Price Parity With HDDs

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Lucas123 writes: Hard disk drive per-gigabyte pricing has remained relatively stagnant over the past three years, and prices are expected to be completely flat over at least the next two, allowing SSDs to significantly close the cost gap, according to a new report. The report, from DRAMeXchange, stated that this marks the fourth straight quarter that the SSD price decline has exceeded 10%. Over the past three years, SSDs have dropped from 31 to 13 cents per gig annually. In contrast, from 2012 to 2015, per gigabyte pricing for HDDs dropped just one cent per year from 9 cents in 2012 to 6 cents this year. However, through 2017, the per-gigabyte price of HDDs is expected to remain flat: 6 cents per gigabyte. Consumer SSDs were on average were selling for 99 cents a gigabyte in 2012. From 2013 to 2015, the price dropped from 68 cents to 39 cents per gig, meaning the average 1TB SSD sells for about $390 today. Next year, SSD prices will decline to 24 cents per gig and in 2017, they’re expected to drop to 17 cents per gig. That means a 1TB SSD on average would retail for $170, though online prices are often much lower than average vendor retail prices. DRAMeXchange also stated that SSDs are expected to be in 31% of new consumer laptops next year, and by 2017 they’ll be in 41%.

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Google To Drop Chrome Support For 32-bit Linux

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prisoninmate writes: Google announces that its Google Chrome web browser will no longer be available for 32-bit hardware platforms. Additionally, Google Chrome will no longer be supported on the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) and Debian GNU/Linux 7 (Wheezy) operating systems. Users are urged to update to the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) release and Debian GNU/Linux 8 (Jessie) respectively. Google will continue to support the 32-bit build configurations for those who want to build the open-source Chromium web browser on various Linux kernel-based operating systems. Reader SmartAboutThings writes, on a similar note, that: Microsoft is tolling the death knell for Internet Explorer with an announcement that it will end support for all older versions next year. Microsoft says that all versions older than the latest one will no longer be supported starting Jan. 12, 2016. After this date, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for older Internet Explorer versions. Furthermore, Internet Explorer 11 will be the last version of Internet Explorer as Microsoft shifts its focus on its next web browser, Microsoft Edge.

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Sony Unlocks PlayStation 4’s Previously Reserved Seventh CPU Core For Devs

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MojoKid writes: Toward the beginning of the year, it was revealed that Microsoft was going to “unlock” the seventh core on the Xbox One’s processor, enabling developers to eke just a bit more performance out of the console and offer more flexibility at resource utilization. It appears that Microsoft’s move would inevitably be followed by Sony, as reports are now coming in that this will be made available on the PlayStation 4 as well. This subtle change was highlighted in the latest changelog for the FMOD sound engine which is labeled as a “LowLevel API.” While the unlocked core could take on FMOD duties if developers want it to, it’s now not going to be tied to any single purpose. Developers could make use of this core, for example, to boost AI performance, or any other process that has a heavy computation requirement. It could also be used to simply help ease overall system load.

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Cortana Coming To iOS, For 2000 Beta Testers

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TechCrunch, InformationWeek, PC World, and other sources report that Microsoft’s voice-recognition based personal assistant app Cortana is coming to iOS for a small group of beta testers.

From TechCrunch: According to the description that accompanies the test build of Cortana for iOS, Microsoft explains how the assistant can help Windows users with iPhones connect the two platforms. For example, Microsoft suggests how you can set reminders on your PC – like a reminder to pick up milk on the way home – then be notified via your iPhone when you’re on the road. … Testers report that the beta build is being distributed by Apple’s TestFlight. As one blogger and earlier tester points out that could mean only a small number of testers will be brought on initially, given TestFlight’s limitation of 2,000 testers per application. That may also explain why a good many who signed up for Cortana’s beta are saying that have still yet to receive their invite at this time. (A staged rollout is another possibility.)

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Lenovo Patches Serious Vulnerabilities In PC System Update Tool

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itwbennett writes: “For the third time in less than six months security issues have forced Lenovo to update one of the tools preloaded on its PCs,” writes Lucian Constantin. Last week, the company released version 5.07.0019 of Lenovo System Update, a tool that helps users keep their computers’ drivers and BIOS up to date and which was previously called ThinkVantage System Update. The new version fixes two local privilege escalation vulnerabilities discovered by researchers from security firm IOActive.

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Free Pascal Compiler 3.0.0 Is Out; Adds Support For 16-Bit MS-DOS, 64-Bit iOS

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Halo1 writes: Twenty-three years ago, development started on the first version of the Turbo Pascal and later also Delphi-compatible Free Pascal Compiler, for OS/2 no less. Two decades and change later, the new Free Pascal Compiler 3.0.0 release still supports OS/2, along with a host of older and newer platforms ranging from MS-DOS on an 8086 to the latest Linux and iOS running on AArch64. On the language front, the new features include support for type helpers, codepage-aware strings and a utility to automatically generate JNI bridges for Pascal code. In the mean time, development on the next versions continues, with support for generic functions, an optional LLVM code generator backend and full support for ISO and Extended Pascal progressing well.

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What Is the Future of the Television?

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An anonymous reader writes: Benedict Evans has an interesting post about where television hardware is headed. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the tech industry made a huge push to invade the living room, trying to make the internet mesh with traditional TV broadcasts. As we all know, their efforts failed. Now, we periodically see new waves of devices to attach to the TV, but none have been particularly ambitious. The most successful devices of the recent wave, like the Chromecast and Apple TV, are simply turning the TV into a dumb screen for streamed content. Meanwhile, consumption of all types of video content is growing on smaller screens — tablets, phones, etc. Even game consoles are starting to see their market eroded by boxes like the Steam Link, which acts as a pipe for a game being played elsewhere on a PC. It raises an intriguing question: where is the television headed? What uses and functions does one giant screen serve that can’t be cleverly redistributed to smaller screens? Evans concludes, “The web’s open, permissionless innovation beat the closed, top-down visions of interactive TV and the information superhighway.”

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Google Previews Android Studio 2.0

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dmleonard618 writes: Google is gearing up to release Android Studio 2.0 with three key features. The company has released the preview version of the release, and says it focuses on speed of delivery and testing. The new features include Instant Run, which lets developers see the impact of their code changes; Android Emulator, a rebuilt user interface; and an early preview of a new GPU Profiler that allows developers to record and replay graphics-intensive apps frame by frame.

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Microsoft Pulls Windows 10 November Update (1511) ISOs

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AmiMoJo writes: When Microsoft released Windows 10 version 1511 earlier this month, the company also updated the installer files it delivers via a free, downloadable media creation tool (MCT). That upgrade option worked as advertised for more than a week. This weekend, however, the new files have been pulled and the media creation tool available for download from that page instead installs the July 2015 (build 10240) release. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed they wish people install the older version and get the 1551 update via Windows Update. The more recent release is still available via an unpublished link (EXE download).

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‘Twas the Week Before the Week of Black Friday

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theodp writes: It’s almost time for America’s answer to the Running of the Bulls (YouTube), kids. So, if you’re dreaming of a cheap tech Christmas, it’s time to peruse the 2015 Black Friday ads and make your game plan. Get lucky at Best Buy this year, and you could score a $299.99 Dell 15.6″ touchscreen laptop (i3, 8GB memory, 1 TB HD), a $399.99 Microsoft 10.8″ Surface 3 (Atom x7, 2GB memory, 64GB storage), $899.99 MacBook Pro 13.3″ laptop (i5, 4GB memory, 500MB HD), $99 Acer 11.6″ Chromebook (Celeron, 2GB memory, 16GB storage), or, for those on a tight budget, a $34.99 7″ Amazon Fire tablet. Fight the crowds at Walmart, and you could snag a $199 HP 15.6″ laptop (Celeron, 4GB memory, 500GB drive) or $199 iPad mini 2. And for stay-at-home shoppers, Dell’s Windows 10 price-breakers include a $149.99 14″ laptop (Celeron, 2GB memory, 32GB storage) and a $229 15.6″ laptop (i3, 4GB memory, 500MB HD). So, in your experience, has Black Friday been like a claw machine — suckering you with big prizes, but never delivering — or have you actually walked away with a great deal?

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Microsoft Rolls Out Major Fall Update To Windows 10

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Ammalgam writes: Microsoft has rolled out a major update to Windows 10 called the Fall Update, November Update or Threshold 2. The update is now publicly available for everyone to download. Microsoft has confirmed it will be a staggered release. This update is full of fixes and refinements to Windows 10 including substantial changes to Edge, Cortana, icons, the Start Menu, Activation and multiple enterprise features. Here is a full list of changes. Have you updated your Windows 10 install yet? What was your experience?

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Google’s New About Me Tool Is the Anti-Google+

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An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched a new tool called About me that lets you see, edit, and remove the personal information that the company’s services show to other users. Google confirmed to VentureBeat that the feature started rolling out to users this week. Google’s various products and services (Gmail, Hangouts, Google Maps, Inbox, Google Play, YouTube, Google+, and so on) sometimes ask you to share certain personal information. These details are then shown to other users who interact with you or search for you. Until now, all of this was stored in Google+, assuming you created an account. But Google+ is no longer a requirement for Google’s services, and so the company needs a new solution, and ideally one that isn’t public by default.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook: “Microsoft Surface Book Tries Too Hard To Do Too Much”

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MojoKid writes: Apple CEO Tim Cook isn’t making any friends on the PC side of the aisle this week. Cook took to the interview circuit this week to heavily promote the release of the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and didn’t waste any time kicking some dirt in the eyes of PC consumers around the world. When questioned on his thoughts about PCs, Cook wondered, “I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?” Many would take issue with those comments. But we’ll leave those comments behind, because Cook decided to set his targets on the current darling of the PC community — the Microsoft Surface Book. Even though Cook says that his company’s relationship with Microsoft is “really good,” he went on to say that the Surface Book “tries too hard to do too much” and that “it’s trying to be a tablet and a notebook and it really succeeds at being neither.” It will be interesting to see Mr. Cook’s reaction as sales figures for the device roll in post holiday shopping season.

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TV Networks Cutting Back On Commercials

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An anonymous reader writes: Cable providers aren’t the only ones feeling pressure from cord cutters. The TV networks themselves are losing viewers the same way. A lot of those viewers are going to Netflix and other streaming services, which are often ad-free, or have ad-free options. Now, in an effort to win back that audience (and hang on to the ones who are still around), networks are beginning to cut back on commercial time during their shows. “Time Warner’s truTV will cut its ad load in half for prime-time original shows starting late next year, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes said last week on an earnings call. Viacom has recently slashed commercial minutes at its networks, which include Comedy Central and MTV. Earlier this month, Fox said it will offer viewers of its shows on Hulu the option to watch a 30-second interactive ad instead of a typical 2 1/2-minute commercial break. Fox says the shorter ads, which require viewers to engage with them online, are more effective because they guarantee the audience’s full attention.”

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With Respect To Gaming, Android Still Lags Behind iOS

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An anonymous reader writes: No matter what you think about the Android/iOS divide from either a hardware or software perspective, there’s simply no getting around the fact that many developers still take an iOS-first approach with respect to app development. With games, where development costs are already sky-high, the dynamic is even more pronounced. For instance, one of the most addictive, successful, and highly rated apps currently available on the App Store is a great snowboarding game called Alto’s Adventure. It was originally released this past February for the iPhone and iPad (and now the Apple TV). Still today, nine months after its initial release, an Android version of the app remains non-existent. Now if you’re an Android user who happens to enjoy mobile gaming, it’s easy to see how this dynamic playing out over and over again can quickly become an endless source of frustration.

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