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Classic Shell and Start10 banish Windows 10 Live Tiles, bring back Windows 7 look

Classic Shell and Start10 banish Windows 10 Live Tiles, bring back Windows 7 look | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

For anyone having regrets about upgrading to Windows 10, there are now two good options for bringing back the look of Windows 7.

This week, Classic Shell officially added Windows 10 to support for its free Start menu and File Explorer replacement. With this program (pictured above), users can switch to Windows 7’s dual-column view, with pinned and recent applications on the left, and common folders and locations on the right. Classic Shell also includes a classic version of the Windows File Explorer, with a customizable toolbar and a more useful status bar that shows both free disk space and the size of any selected folder.


Meanwhile, Stardock has just released Start10 out of beta for $5. Much like Classic Shell, Start10 allows for a two-column view that resembles the Windows 7 Start menu, and brings back the ”all programs” menu that groups applications into folders. There’s also an option to hide Cortana from the Windows 10 taskbar, while restoring program and file search in the Start menu proper.



I gave each of these programs a quick go-round, and in practice the differences between them are subtle. If you’re just looking for the familiarity of Windows 7, either one should do the trick (though Classic Shell has the advantage of costing nothing). Start10 may be more useful for people who still want access to Windows Store apps, as you can preserve them in the right-hand column while tweaking other aspects of the Start menu. Both apps have plenty of customization options, however, and are far more flexible than the default Start menu.


While Classic Shell is free, Start10 does offer a 30-day free trial, so you can try them both to figure out which Start menu replacement suits your needs.


Why this matters: Although Microsoft has dialed back some of the radical changes that it made to the Start menu in Windows 8, it can still feel pretty unfamiliar coming from Windows 7. If you’re not really using Windows Store apps, the emphasis on Live Tiles in Windows 10 isn’t much help, especially since it comes at the expense of Jump Lists, quick Control Panel access and the old Recent Items shortcut. It’s unlikely that these replacements will see the tens of millions of downloads that they did with Windows 8, but they’re still helpful for people who’d rather keep things the way they used to be.

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What hospitals need to know about Windows 10

What hospitals need to know about Windows 10 | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

The arrival of a new Microsoft operating system does not exactly bring the same excitement that it once did.


Indeed, since about the time Windows Vista launched, subsequent operating systems have come – and in the odd case of Windows 9 essentially vanished – without the fanfare of Windows 95, XP or 2000.

The company has at least managed to create enough wattage around Windows 10, however, that some 5 million so-called Windows Insiders installed early versions to test the software in development – and word slipped out this week that the planned flagship Microsoft store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan will open in the fall.


A critical piece of the renewed interest is how Microsoft is breaking new ground with a phased approach to what CEO Satya Nadella dubbed the "One Windows" strategy, beginning July 29 when the OS became available for PCs and tablets.


The aim is to upgrade systems currently running Windows 7 and 8 in the near-term and follow that with Windows 10 Mobile later this year, and devices from Microsoft’s harem of hardware partners are slated to become available before the holiday season. Beyond that, Microsoft intends Windows 10 to serve as the operating system for a range of Internet of Things devices, including its own Surface Hub conference systems and HoloLens holographic glasses, among others.


When that “One Windows” day comes, the sales pitch goes, hospitals will be able to consolidate varying devices onto Windows 10 and the fact that the upgrade is free for systems already running Windows 7, 8.1 or 8.1 Mobile should entice many IT shops to install it; for those still using an older OS, the price tag is $199 for the professional version.

Microsoft, in the meantime, has incorporated some healthcare-centric functionality into Windows 10.


On one of its web pages the company showed the operating system’s capability to “snap together” different applications and, in so doing, enable a clinician to view a patient’s EMR next to a home health app.

A Power BI function can "gather, analyze and visualize quality of care data," while the Power Map feature enables users to combine and compare a hospital's own information with population health statistics. Microsoft also pointed to programs including Office 365, OneNote, SharePoint and Skype that can be used for care management and information sharing.

Later this year, when Windows 10 Mobile becomes available, it will make syncing apps across smartphones, tablets and PCs easier. Now, that’s not likely to inspire CIOs to rip and replace existing smartphones anytime soon, but the ability to coordinate a Windows-based phone with a Surface tablet will invariably have some appeal to a select crowd.


That’s just a taste and Microsoft said that it will be showing more of Windows 10 health capabilities moving forward.


The new OS also brings many broader functions, such as the return of the old Start menu, the new Edge browser, Cortana virtual assistant, and the usual suspects of upgraded apps for mail. Maps, music, photos, and OneDrive to back them up.


Much like its competitors Apple, IBM, Google and Oracle, Microsoft has been ramping up efforts particular to healthcare lately. Earlier this month, for instance, when it unwrapped the Cortana Analytics Suite, Microsoft also revealed that Dartmouth-Hitchcock is already using the tools in a personalized medicine pilot project.


Whether Windows 10 will enjoy the widespread adoption of XP or languish like Vista remains to be seen. But at this point – and with Microsoft's marketing machine stating that the company is gunning to upgrade 1 billion devices to Windows 10  the former appears more likely than the latter. 


What's your perspective? Just another Microsoft OS or a great reason to upgrade?

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A government key to unlock your encrypted messages has major problems and security experts are up in arms

A government key to unlock your encrypted messages has major problems and security experts are up in arms | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Top computer scientists and security experts are warning that government proposals to gain special access to encrypted communications could result in significant dangers. 

A consortium of world-renowned security experts has penned a report detailing the harm that regulating encryption would cause, writes the New York Times


Hard encryption — which global authorities are now trying to combat — is a way to mathematically cipher digital communications and is widely considered the most secure way to communicate online to avoid external snooping. 


This follows news last week that British Prime Minister David Cameron made a proposal to ban encryption as a way to "ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate."  


Since then, experts have begun weighing in about the effect of such drastic measures. This includes well-known cryptographer Bruce Schneier, who told Business Insider that such a strong encryption ban would "destroy the internet."

The new report, which was released today, takes a similarly hard stance. "The complexity of today’s Internet environment, with millions of apps and globally connected services, means that new law enforcement requirements are likely to introduce unanticipated, hard to detect security flaws," it writes. Not only that, but federal authorities have yet to explain exactly how they planned to gain "exceptional access" to private communications.


The report concludes, "The costs would be substantial, the damage to innovation severe, and the consequences to economic growth difficult to predict." In short, the experts believe that trying to put limitations on encrypted communications would create myriad problems for everyone involved. 


This sort of fissure between security experts and federal authorities isn’t new. In fact, a similar proposal was made by the Clinton Administration in 1997 that also took aim at hard cryptography. Back then, a group of experts — many of whom are authors on this new report — also wrote critically about the anti-encryption efforts.

In the end, the security experts prevailed. 


Now, it’s not so certain. FBI director James Comey has joined the ant-encryption brigade, saying that "there are many costs to [universal strong encryption.]"

He and the US deputy attorney general Sally Quillan Yates are scheduled to testify before Senate tomorrow to defend their views, the New York Times reports.

The question now is whether other federal officials will side with people like Comey and Cameron or the group of security experts. 

In the paper's words, creating such back-door access to encrypted communications "will open doors through which criminals and malicious nation-states can attack the very individuals law enforcement seeks to defend."

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Windows 10 likely to land at PC makers this week

Windows 10 likely to land at PC makers this week | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Microsoft keeps wending its way past the mile markers en route to getting Windows 10 out to the public on time.


The software titan is putting the finishing touches on the operating system software and will finalize its prerelease development by July 10, The Verge is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the company's plans. This version ofWindows 10, called "release to manufacturing," will then be sent to PC makers to be bundled into their products.


Windows 10, which is slated to launch on July 29, comes at a critical time for Microsoft. While Windows overall remains the dominant force in desktop operating systems, running on over 90 percent of computers worldwide, according to NetMarketShare, the last big release -- Windows 8 -- proved a marked disappointment. According to NetMarketShare, Windows 8 musters just 13 percent market share worldwide, far behind the 61 percent share for Windows 7 and just ahead the 12 percent share for the now ancient Windows XP.


The issues with Windows 8 were numerous, ranging from Microsoft's design choice, called Metro, to a steep learning curve for those used to the old days of Windows. Windows 8, which launched in 2012, also came as consumers and business users were increasingly attracted to tablets and smartphones, which typically ran either Apple's iOS software or Google's Android.


Microsoft tried to respond by offering its own tablet, the Surface, and partner with third-party tablet manufacturers. The efforts, however, have done little to kick Android and iOS from the top spots.

Realizing its own miscues and the changing market dynamics, Microsoft has tried to address its Windows 8 woes with Windows 10.


The Start button is back and the design a bit more traditional, while Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made clear that Microsoft is a "mobile-first (and cloud-first)" company that will allow for Windows 10 to run on multiple device types without sacrificing features. To boost adoption, Microsoft will offer free upgrades to customers currently running Windows 7 and Windows 8 -- a first for the company. Microsoft has even softened its stance in its longstanding battle with pirates, saying that any pirated copy of Windows can be upgraded to Windows 10 free-of-charge.


For months now, Microsoft has been offering preview versions of Windows 10 to developers and consumers who want to take the operating system for a test drive. Operating systems go through a series of "builds," or versions, during their development phase. Once the company's development team has finalized the operating system, it goes into RTM phase, which means it's ready to be passed on to hardware vendors for bundling into the PCs they sell. Assuming the report is accurate, hitting the RTM phase this week would ensure Windows 10 would be available later this month, as anticipated.

That said, while Microsoft seems to be on-pace for a July 29 launch, the company has cautioned thatthe rollout could be slow going.


Microsoft said last week that it "will start rolling out Windows 10" on July 29, but will roll out the operating system "in waves" after that date.

"Each day of the rollout, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users," the company said in a blog post. "If you reserved your copy of Windows 10, we will notify you once our compatibility work confirms you will have a great experience, and Windows 10 has been downloaded on your system."


The blog post seems to indicate that while Windows 10 may be released to PC vendors soon, it will continue to fine-tune the operating system after the July 29 launch date.


Microsoft has yet to say when its operating system will hit the RTM phase, but in the past, the company has announced the milestone on its site. Microsoft will likely do the same with Windows 10, once it has officially gone RTM.

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Archos $99 Windows 10 PC-on-a-stick is best deal yet for a tiny PC | News | Geek.com

Archos $99 Windows 10 PC-on-a-stick is best deal yet for a tiny PC | News | Geek.com | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

It wasn’t that long ago that geeks walked around with a pocket full of flash drives. Today, you can stuff them with entire computers instead — like this new one from Archos. Intel has their Compute Stick. Lenovo has the IdeaCentre Stick 300. So, what did Archos whip up? Fittingly enough, they call it the Stick PC.


Like Lenovo did with their stick, Archos stayed true to Intel’s reference design. The PC Stick runs on the same quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F clocked at 1.3GHz, has just 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage. You’ll have less available to use since Windows 10 comes pre-installed, of course, but you can pop in a microSD card or connect an external hard drive or SSD to the Stick PC’s full-sized USB port. As far as connectivity goes, Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11bgn WiFi support is built in.


The Stick PC measures just 4.4 inches tall by an inch-and0-a-half wide, and it’s about half of an inch thick. You’ll barely notice it in your pants pocket, and there’s a good chance it might end up going through a wash cycle or two as a result.


Really, the only big difference you can see between the Archos PC Stick and the other two I’ve mentioned here is that it’s blue. Well, that, and the ridiculously low price tag. Archos plans to sell the PC Stick for just $99. That’s a heck of a good deal considering it’s the same thing Lenovo wants to sell you for $129 and the Compute Stick is priced at $149.

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Lenovo's Ideacenter Stick 300 Is a Windows PC on a Stick for $140

Lenovo's Ideacenter Stick 300 Is a Windows PC on a Stick for $140 | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

The computer-on-a-stick is not a newnor always terribly successful—idea. But that hasn’t stopped Lenovo, which has announced its own stab at the concept: the Ideacenter Stick 300.

The new device comes in several spec levels, featuring an Intel Baytrail CPU, up to 2GB of RAM, up to 32GB of storage, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and SD card reader, HDMI out and a single Micro USB port. It will run Windows 8.1 out of the box, but will also receive a free upgrade to Windows 10 when the OS launches.

In its cheapest guise, the stick will cost $140 though availability is yet to be announced. We wonder if the device can overcome some of the fundamental problems that make the (very similar) Intel offering, the Compute Stick, a massive flop. We sure hope so.

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LastPass Sounds Breach Alert

LastPass Sounds Breach Alert | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Warning to all LastPass users: Change your master password for the service now and ensure you're using multi-factor authentication. There has been a data breach that might allow attackers to crack master passwords and password reminders.


"Our team discovered and blocked suspicious activity on our network," reads a security notice from Joe Siegrist, the CEO of online password management service LastPass, which allows people to store multiple passwords inside a single, cloud-based password vault.


Siegrist says the intrusion was discovered June 12. "In our investigation, we have found no evidence that encrypted user vault data was taken, nor that LastPass user accounts were accessed. The investigation has shown, however, that LastPass account email addresses, password reminders, server per user salts, and authentication hashes were compromised."


This is not the first time that LastPass has reported that passwords or data might have been hacked. In 2011, the firm reported finding a "traffic anomaly from one of our databases" that could have resulted in data exfiltration. In response, the firm said it took a number of steps to tighten security, including registering domains that might be used by phishing attackers, as well as removing non-core services from the LastPass network.


In the wake of this newly announced breach, Siegrist says that the company is "confident that our encryption measures are sufficient to protect the vast majority of users," noting that the site's techniques for creating users' authentication hashes - in essence, how their authentication credentials get protected - would make it very difficult for an attacker to crack those hashes "with any significant speed." But because that is a possibility, the company says it has now "locked down" all accounts, meaning that any attempt to access an account from a new device or IP address will require the user to first verify their identity via email, unless they're already using multi-factor authentication.


"We will also be prompting all users to change their master passwords," Siegrist says. "You do not need to update your master password until you see our prompt. However, if you have reused your master password on any other website, you should replace the passwords on those other websites." He adds that because encrypted user data wasn't stolen, users do not need to change the passwords for any sites stored inside their LastPass password vault.


LastPass also offers multi-factor authentication - including Google Authenticator, Yubikey and the Duo Security Authenticator - to safeguard accounts. And in the wake of the breach, multiple information security experts recommend that all LastPass users ensure that they are using this feature.

Rethink Password Reset Questions

"Should I panic because LastPass was hacked?" asks Robert David Graham, head of information security research firm Errata Security. "If you chose a long, non-dictionary password, nobody can crack it," he says, thanks to the way LastPass creates its hashing algorithms. "Conversely, if you haven't, then yes, you need to change it."


Some security experts, meanwhile, say that the biggest risk now facing LastPass users will bephishing attacks, especially because users' email addresses have been compromised. "LastPass is advising users to change the master password. While this is a good idea, it should not be the top priority," says Martin Vigo, a product security engineer for salesforce.com who's due to present the talk "Breaking Vaults: Stealing LastPass protected secrets" at the July Shakacon conference in Hawaii. "You should pay more attention to the password hint you set up and be on the lookout for any possible phishing email in the next weeks pretending to be LastPass."


Vigo says many users undercut their security by using password reminders - he recommends never using them, if possible - or else creating weak ones. "While the password reminder cannot be the password itself, it can contain it. This means that password reminders such as 'My password is correct horse battery staple' are possible," he says. "Other more common passwords reminders such as 'My dogs name' can help attackers guess your master password. Remember that they have your email, which leads to your Twitter, Facebook, etc., where possibly that information can be found."

Password Vaults: Pros and Cons

The LastPass breach begs the question of whether people should ever use password managers, a.k.a. password vaults. "If a crook gets hold of your master password, then that's like getting the crown jewels - because now the crook has access to all your accounts at once," says Paul Ducklin, a senior security adviser for anti-virus firm Sophos, in a blog post. As a result, some security experts decry their use, on the grounds that the password manager master password creates a potential single point of failure.


But many security experts, including Bruce Schneier, have long advocated using such tools, saying that it is much more likely that users will get hacked if they reuse passwords, or select weak ones, than have their encrypted password database stolen and cracked.

F-Secure security adviser Sean Sullivan, for example, has said he "can't imagine life" without using one, because such tools can ensure that a user only uses strong passwords, and never repeats them across sites. But Sullivan also takes certain precautions, such as never entering the master password for his password manager when he's using an untrusted system - such as the shared family PC at home - in case a keylogger might be in operation.

Cloud Versus PC-Based

Users can also choose between PC-based, cloud-based or hybrid password managers. Some encryption experts, such as Johns Hopkins cryptographer Matthew Green, have voiced concerns about the security of cloud-based password management services.

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Kaspersky may have been hacked to spy on its research

Kaspersky may have been hacked to spy on its research | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Eugene Kaspersky, the Russian whose namesake company acknowledged that it had been infected with top-tier malware, struggled during a press conference to come up with reasons why the hackers targeted his firm.


After all, antivirus makers like Kaspersky Lab should be prepared to sniff out and snuff out an attack.

“They were not only stupid, but greedy,” Kaspersky said during a London-based press conference Wednesday, which was also webcast to reporters elsewhere.


When asked why the attackers—whose malware was dubbed Duqu 2.0 in a nod to2011’s Duqu, which in turn was thought to be an offspring of the infamous Stuxnet—went head-to-head with his company, Kaspersky had theories but nothing more.

“They were not interested in our customers,” he said after asserting that the intrusion did not appear to have touched any customer or partner data.


“I’m pretty sure they were watching,” he said of the hackers during the months they had their malware running undetected on Kaspersky’s network. He speculated that the attackers were doing reconnaissance and research, hoping to find out more about Kaspersky’s security technology or how it found and analyzed malware.


Specifically, Kaspersky wondered if they had infected Windows PCs on the company’s network to uncover how researchers decided what malware to manually examine.

A treasure trove of research

The vast bulk of the malware that Kaspersky—and any major antivirus firm—collects is processed, evaluated and categorized by automated systems, which also craft the resulting “fingerprints,” or signatures, that are sent to customers’ devices. Only the occasional piece of attack code is interesting enough, different enough from the run-of-the-mill to justify a human touch.


How researchers make the decision to closely evaluate—and root through—one piece of malware while passing on another would obviously be information a hacker crew or state-sponsored group would love to have, as it would help them craft attack code and develop tradecraft that would be more likely to get shunted to the machines, where it would be one among millions, and its true purpose perhaps overlooked.


“[The bad guys] absolutely want to know what security researchers are doing, what’s the state of the art on that side,” said Tod Beardsley, the engineering manager at security vendor Rapid7, in an interview. “They want to know, is it better than what [they] have?”


It’s certain, Beardsley continued, that just as security researchers launch projects to analyze attack technology and attackers’ predilections, the other side does the same. “Having a hold in a security company is of great advantage,” Beardsley said. “Just the operational intelligence would be valuable, as that would give them lots or preparation time for their next mission.”


And with more-than-public knowledge, hackers might be able to come up with ways to steer clear of security defenses like those employed by Kaspersky’s customers.


But Eugene Kaspersky dismissed the idea that the hackers’ presence within his company’s network—he said it had been hidden there at least several months—would give them real clues about the vendor’s technologies, even if they had obtained the source code, which they had not. “These technologies are quickly outdated,” Kaspersky contended, saying that changes were constantly being applied.


“Maybe they were interested in some specific attacks we were working on,” Kaspersky said. “Or maybe they wanted to see if we could catch them.”

"Very awesome" malware

In a long blog post on Forbes, Kaspersky elaborated. “I can think of several reasons why someone might want to try to steal our technical data, but each one of them doesn’t seem to be worth the risk” of being discovered, Kaspersky said.


Which is exactly what happened.


“Now we know how to catch a new generation of stealthy malware developed by them,” Kaspersky wrote. “And the attackers are now back to the drawing board since we exposed their platform to the whole IT security industry. Moral considerations aside, that’s hardly a good return on a serious investment with public money.”


That latter line was a reference to Kaspersky’s contention that Duqu 2.0 was created by a state-sponsored or state-run hacking crew.

Beardsley and Kaspersky agreed on one thing: Duqu 2.0 was top-of-the-line malware.


“It’s very awesome for sure,” said Beardsley. “It is definitely a milestone. It has a very modular framework, is able to swap out one zero-day for another, and uses new techniques for signaling and non-persistence.”


Unlike most malware, Duqu 2.0 resides almost exclusively in memory, making it difficult for security software to detect it.

Which led Eugene Kaspersky to make an odd-but-effective suggestion about how to rid a network of the malware. “Technically, it’s simple: Turn off the power and the system will be clean.”

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President Obama calls for stronger American cybersecurity

President Obama calls for stronger American cybersecurity | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Citing a series of embarrassinghigh profile incursions against US computer networks in recent months, President Obama called for "much more aggressive" efforts to shore up the government's vulnerable cyber-infrastructure. "This problem is not going to go away," the President told reporters at a G7 press conference in Germany. "It is going to accelerate. And that means that we have to be as nimble, as aggressive and as well-resourced as those who are trying to break into these systems." As such, he urged Congress to pass its pending cybersecurity legislation, such as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015.

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When Windows 10 arrives, will your files and apps survive?

When Windows 10 arrives, will your files and apps survive? | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it
You may run into some compatibility bumps if you upgrade to Windows 10. screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Set to debut July 29, Windows 10 will be free for one year for anyone running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. And it will be a direct upgrade, meaning you can run the Windows 10 installation in Windows 7 or 8.1, and you should end up with Windows 10 in the end.

Windows 10 marks Microsoft's big push to get itself back on course after the miscues of Windows 8, so every little thing counts -- including getting the installation correct right off the bat.

Not all software upgrades go smoothly, however. Compatibility problems sometimes rear up, especially when you upgrade from one operating system to another. Certain hardware may be not compatible. Certain software programs may not be supported or may need to be updated or reinstalled. How will you know if the hardware and software you run in Windows 7 or 8.1 will still work after the upgrade? Microsoft can help you determine if and how your PC or tablet will handle the move to Windows 10.

Check for compatibility issues

First, those of you running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 should see a Windows 10 icon in the Windows system tray. This icon debuted June 1 to coax you to reserve your free copy of Windows 10 so that come July 29, the installation package is automatically downloaded to your PC. But whether or not you've made the reservation, you can still check your PC to see which hardware and software may not play ball with Windows 10.

Click the Get Windows 10 icon. In the Windows 10 upgrade window, click the icon with the three horizontal bars, aka the hamburger icon. From the left pane that appears, click the link to Check your PC.

A Compatibility Report opens to tell you if Windows 10 will work on this PC. You'll also probably see a list of any hardware and software that may not be fully compatible or may not work with Windows 10. For example, on my Lenovo laptop, the report told me that Bluetooth audio might not work correctly after the upgrade, that Norton Internet Security won't work and that I would need to reinstall VMware Player and Lenovo Messenger.

If you find a lot of compatibility issues, don't panic. Remember that Windows 10 is still in beta mode with a release date of July 29 before the final product is out. That gives Microsoft and third-party vendors almost two months to smooth out compatibility issues and resolve any potential bugs. And even when July 29 arrives, you may want to hold off on upgrading to Windows 10 right away. You do have a year to snag the free upgrade. Wait a few weeks or a month after the OS debuts, and some of those compatibility problems may get ironed out.

Check Microsoft's information

You'll also want to check the details on Windows 10 via Microsoft'sWindows 10 Specifications page. The Important Notes section on this page explains which items should make the leap to Windows 10 and which ones may not.

The good news is that your documents and personal files should all handle the transition to Windows 10 without any problems. Still, you may want to back up all of your personal files to an external drive or other source just to be on the safe side. Your Windows apps and settings should also remain intact following the upgrade. But Microsoft cautions that some applications or settings may not migrate.

As the company explains it:

The upgradeability of a device has factors beyond the system specification. This includes driver and firmware support, application compatibility, and feature support, regardless of whether or not the device meets the minimum system specification for Windows 10.


For example, third-party antivirus and anti-malware applications will be uninstalled during the upgrade and then reinstalled with the latest version after the upgrade is finished, according to Microsoft. That process assumes your subscription to the antivirus product is still valid. If not, then Microsoft's Windows Defender will be enabled instead. The Compatibility Report that I received told me that Norton Internet Security would not work, so presumably Windows 10 would install an updated version of Norton that does work.

Certain applications installed by your PC or tablet maker may need to be removed before the upgrade. My Lenovo laptop contains a suite of applications specific to Lenovo. The Compatibility Report told me that Lenovo Messenger would need to be reinstalled.

Any applications with Windows 10 compatibility issues will be removed before the upgrade. Therefore, you'll want to note the names of any such applications and check to see if new or updated versions are available that you can install after Windows 10 is in place.
 

Based on the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview builds, Microsoft seems to have addressed most of the gripes about Windows 8 and created an OS that seems fresher and decidedly more user-friendly. So as long as you can work through any compatibility issues, upgrading from Windows 8.1 and even from Windows 7 should be worth the effort.

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SSH support is finally coming to Windows

SSH support is finally coming to Windows | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Furthering Microsoft’s push to support open source, the company hasannounced that it plans to add Secure Shell (SSH) support to Windows in the future.


SSH is a protocol that allows users to access the command line of remote computers.


The team behind Powershell, Microsoft’s shell environment, said that it’s been working to add SSH for a number of years but it didn’t make the cut in both the first or second versions of Powershell.


The SSH library used by Windows will be OpenSSH as it’s ‘industry proven’ and Microsoft plans to give back to the project by contributing to the core library.


There’s no hard date for SSH support landing in Windows, as it’s only in the “early planning phase,” but the news will be music to the ears of network administrators and those that support Windows at scale.

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Internet used by 3.2 billion people in 2015 - BBC News

Internet used by 3.2 billion people in 2015 - BBC News | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations body, predicts that 3.2 billion people will be online. The population currently stands at 7.2 billion.


About 2 billion of those will be in the developing world, the report added.


But just 89 million will be in countries such as Somalia and Nepal.

These are part of a group of nations described as "least developed countries" by the United Nations, with a combined population of 940 million.

Mobile

There will also be more than 7 billion mobile device subscriptions, the ITU said.


It found that 78 out of 100 people in the US and Europe already use mobile broadband, and 69% of the world has 3G coverage - but only 29% of rural areas are served.


Africa lags behind with just 17.4% mobile broadband penetration.

By the end of the year 80% of households in developed countries and 34% of those in developing countries will have internet access in some form, the report continued.


The study focused on the growth of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector over the past 15 years.

In the year 2000 there were just 400 million internet users worldwide, it said - an eighth of the current figure.


"Over the past 15 years the ICT revolution has driven global development in an unprecedented way," said Brahima Sanou, director of the ITU telecommunication development bureau.


"ICTs will play an even more significant role in the post 2015 development agenda and in achieving future sustainable development goals as the world moves faster and faster towards a digital society."

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NetUSB Flaw Affects Router Makers

NetUSB Flaw Affects Router Makers | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Many router manufacturers use a third-party software component in their products called NetUSB, which can be exploited to bypass authentication checks and remotely take control of the devices, warns information security researcher Stefan Viehböck at SEC Consult.


The research firm has verified the flaw in firmware used by 92 products manufactured by D-Link, Netgear, TP-Link, Trendnet and ZyXEL, Viehböck says. The firmware flaw is likely also present in multiple products manufactured by 21 other vendors that use NetUSB, he adds. That count is based on the "NetUSB.inf" file, which is part of the client-driver setup for Windows, and which contains a list of 26 vendors. Accordingly, "it is likely that these vendors have licensed the NetUSB technology and are using it in some of their products," SEC Consult says, suggesting that "millions of devices" are now at risk.


U.S. CERT has issued a related alert, saying that "NetUSB is vulnerable to a buffer overflow via the network that may result in a denial of service or code execution." The SEC Consult researchers did not report seeing any related attacks against NetUSB-using devices. But their security alert follows the recent warning that attackers had compromised 40,000 routers that used default credentials, and turned them into distributed denial-of-service attack platforms.


NetUSB is developed by Kcodes, based in Taiwan, which bills itself as "the world's premier technology provider of mobile printing, audio and video communication, file sharing, and USB applications for iPhones, iPads, smart phones and tablets (Android and Windows), MacBooks, and Ultrabooks." Kcodes did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the firmware vulnerability.


NetUSB is designed to provide "USB over IP" functionality. "USB devices (e.g. printers, external hard drives, flash drives) plugged into a Linux-based embedded system (e.g. a router, an access point or a dedicated "USB over IP" box) are made available via the network using a Linux kernel driver that launches a server (TCP port 20005)," SEC Consult says in a blog post. "The client side is implemented in software that is available for Windows and OS X. It connects to the server and simulates the devices that are plugged into the embedded system locally. The user experience is like that of a USB device physically plugged into a client system."


But SEC Consult warns that when installed, NetUSB always appears to be active by default. "The NetUSB feature was enabled on all devices that we checked, and the server was still running even when no USB devices were plugged in," it says.

NetUSB: Some Mitigations

U.S. CERT says the NetUSB flaw can be mitigated by installing firmware updates - if available - and that blocking port 20005, which is used by NetUSB, may also mitigate the flaw. It adds that attacks may also be potentially mitigated by disabling device-sharing features. "Consult your device's vendor and documentation as some devices may allow disabling the USB device sharing service on your network."


SEC Consult, however, cautions in a related security advisory that deactivating NetUSB in a Web interface does not always disable it. "Sometimes NetUSB can be disabled via the Web interface, but at least on Netgear devices this does not mitigate the vulnerability," it says. "Netgear told us that there is no workaround available, the TCP port can't be firewalled nor is there a way to disable the service on their devices."


That security alert contains proof-of-concept attack code and a list of devices that it has confirmed are vulnerable to the flaw. To date, SEC Consult says that of affected vendors, only TP-LINK has released some related firmware updates, as well as outlined an update schedule for about 40 of its products.

Safety Alert: Internet of Things

The discovery that a single third-party component with an easily exploitable flaw has apparently been employed by many router manufacturers points to the challenge of attempting to keep so-called "Internet of Things" devices secure, says Gavin Millard, technical director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at Tenable Network Security. "One of the biggest issues we're going to face with the explosion of IoT or IP-enabled devices is the lack of foundational secure coding best practices that are followed," he says.


"Unfortunately, when cost is such a driver for manufacturers of these technologies, poor code is often reused and when found by researchers, they are often faced with an apathetic response from the vendors."


Indeed, SEC Consult says that on February 28, it first approached Kcodes to warn it about the flaw, and later provided proof-of-concept exploit code. But after communication problems and Kcodes missing meetings, SEC Consult says that on March 26, it approached U.S. CERT and requested that it coordinate efforts with the vendor, as well as Netgear and TP-Link. Then a coordinated vulnerability announcement was released on May 19.


Kcodes did not immediately respond to a request for comment about SEC Consult's timeline.


Even with related fixes now beginning to appear, however, Millard says it's likely that most consumers will never hear about the NetUSB vulnerability or patch related devices. But he says the overall situation is even more troubling for corporate environments. "The burden on admins to find all these devices and reduce the risk of it being utilized by attackers is an almost impossible job, and the task will only get harder as the market pushes for cheaper, more connected devices," he says. "Unless we address the foundational issue of good coding practices in embedded systems, we'll continue to see simple bugs like weak authentication, default passwords, buffer overflows and directory traversal attacks being reintroduced into our environments."


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Windows 10 Ransomware Scam Represents Growing Trend in Malware

Windows 10 Ransomware Scam Represents Growing Trend in Malware | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

I don’t usually jump on the new software or device bandwagon immediately. I tend to wait until something has been on the market for a little while and let other people work the bugs out first. However, the release of Windows 10 intrigues me. I had the chance to talk to some people at RSA about it, and I’m not sure the last time I heard so much enthusiasm for a new Microsoft product.


The release came at the end of July, with the upgrade made available for free. Who doesn’t like free, right?

Consumers aren’t the only ones who appreciate a free upgrade, though. Scammers and bad guys are taking advantage of the Windows 10 launch, too, using phishing emails to spoof the arrival of the OS. As PC World explained, the scam does a very good job mimicking a legitimate Microsoft announcement regarding Windows 10. The difference, though, was this:


An attached .zip file purports to be a Windows 10 installer … the attachment contains a piece of ransomware called CTB-Locker that encrypts your files and requests payment within 96 hours, lets your files be encrypted forever.


I can’t imagine that anyone would be surprised that the bad guys would try to take advantage of the OS release. However, according to Cisco’s midyear report, using ransomware is part of a growing trend with hackers using social and breaking news events to deliver ransomware. According to the report, ransomware has really stepped up its game, with improved professional development to encourage innovation and to ensure that the malware brings in financial gains.

The Cisco blog explained more about how it works:


The ransoms demanded are usually affordable, generally a few hundred dollars depending on the bitcoin exchange rate. Criminals appear to have done their market research to determine the right price points for the best results: Fees are not so high that victims will refuse to pay or will tip of law enforcement. Ransomware authors keep their risk of detection low by using channels such as Tor and the Invisible Internet Project to communicate, and they use bitcoin so that financial transactions are difficult for law enforcement to trace.


Will we see more problems with ransomware going forward? I suspect the answer is “Yes,” especially as the developers get smarter about manipulating the ransom for their own gain. (Remember, as successful as Cryptolocker was at locking down a computer’s data, too many weren’t able to pay the ransom with Bitcoin, and, in turn, the developers weren’t able to make the money they planned to make.) We know that the spammers are very good at faking us out with phishing attacks. So enjoy your new Windows 10 upgrade. Just download with a lot of caution.

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Adobe patches Flash zero-day found in Hacking Team data breach

Adobe patches Flash zero-day found in Hacking Team data breach | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

The massive Hacking Team data breach led to the release of 400GB worth of data including a zero-day vulnerability for Adobe Flash. Adobe has released an out-of-band patch for the flaw just two days after it was discovered.


The vulnerability was described by the Hacking Team in a readme file in the data dump as "the most beautiful Flash bug for the last four years". Accompanying the readme in the data was a proof-of-concept exploit of the flaw.


Adobe categorized the vulnerability (CVE-2015-5119) as critical and said it affects Flash Player versions 18.0.0.194 and earlier on Windows and Mac, and versions 11.2.202.468 and earlier on Linux. Successful exploitation of the flaw could allow remote code execution.


Security researcher Kafeine found that the vulnerability has already been added to the Angler, Fiddler, Nuclear and Neutrino exploit kits. Because of this, admins are recommended to apply the patch as soon as possible.


Also found in the Hacking Team data was another Adobe Flash zero-day (CVE-2015-0349), which was patched in April, and a zero-day affecting the Windows kernel. The inclusion of these zero-days has caused experts to question if these exploits are being used by Hacking Team clients, including law enforcement and governments.


"As many governments move to try and control malware and offensive security tools, some have been caught with their own hands in the cookie jar, leading many to wonder how and why governments and agencies listed as Hacking Team clients are using these tools and if they are doing so lawfully," said Ken Westin, security analyst for Tripwire. "Given the depth and amount of data compromised in this breach, it will reveal a great deal about the market for offensive tools designed for espionage with a great deal of fallout and embarrassment for some organizations."


Hacking Team spokesman Eric Rabe confirmed the breach and said that while law enforcement is investigating, the company suggests its clients suspend the use of its surveillance tools until it can be determined what exactly has been exposed.


In a new statement, Rabe warned that its software could be used by anyone because "sufficient code was released to permit anyone to deploy the software against any target of their choice.


"Before the attack, HackingTeam could control who had access to the technology that was sold exclusively to governments and government agencies," Rabe wrote. "Now, because of the work of criminals, that ability to control who uses the technology has been lost. Terrorists, extortionists and others can deploy this technology at will if they have the technical ability to do so. We believe this is an extremely dangerous situation."

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Microsoft Rolls Out The Latest Windows 10 Build To Its 5 Million Testers

Microsoft Rolls Out The Latest Windows 10 Build To Its 5 Million Testers | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Late last week, Microsoft kicked out another Windows 10 build, numbered 10162, to the ‘fast ring’ of its testing community.

The larger Windows Insider program has two groups, fast and slow, allowing people to select how raw they want their code.


The build was rolled out to the larger group of testers today, those in the slow ring. Given that Windows 10 is now just 23 days out, it’s worth taking a moment to dig into what is being released.


The 10162 build, according to Microsoft’s Gabe Aul (see below), isn’t focused new features, but instead contains “bug fixing and final polish.” The company has released a number of builds in recent weeks that were of similar ilk, aimed at beating the operating system into shape, instead of expanding its capabilities.


The code was first pushed to the ‘fast ring’ of testers on the second of this month.

So, consider this to be a build akin to done, but not quite. That means that if you are currently testing Windows 10, regardless of what group you are in, you can now use Windows 10 in a nearly-normal capacity. How polished it is remains your own judgement.

Microsoft recently explained to the public how it will roll out Windows 10. The company intends to deploy the final build to its testing community on the 29th of this month. Following, in waves, other groups will be brought into the fold.


Earlier this morning, The Verge’s Tom Warren reported that Microsoft intends to RTM Windows 10 and distribute it to equipment manufactures (OEMs) later this week. That makes it not too surprising that the software company is working to get fresh code out into the hands of its community.


The long Windows 10 dance is nearly to its first conclusory benchmark. Microsoft has made noise for some time now that it will continue to update the code in perpetuity. But all races, even those that don’t end, have a day one.

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    Latest Windows 10 Mobile preview offers more features and bugs

    Latest Windows 10 Mobile preview offers more features and bugs | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Microsoft has released a new Windows 10 Mobile preview build that adds new features, fixes previous glitches but adds some new bugs of its own.


    Rolled out on Thursday, Windows 10 Mobile Build 10149 is the latest preview edition for Windows Insiders. To elicit feedback from the user population, Microsoft has been regularly rolling out new previews, or builds, of Windows 10 for desktop and mobile devices. The Windows Insider program allows people to freely install and test each edition and offer their comments, questions and criticisms to Microsoft with the aim of improving Windows 10.


    Microsoft has a lot riding on Windows 10, and at this point, the company has a little over a month before the official version launches on July 29. Windows 10 has at least a couple of goals to meet. It has to provide enough of a punch to erase the bad memory of Windows 8. And it has to appeal to PC users and mobile users alike. The phone side is especially critical as Microsoft's share of the smartphone market has been relatively flat at around 4 percent as it's been trounced by Apple and Android. Windows 10 Mobile needs to offer the appeal necessary to start bumping up that market share.


    On the plus side, Microsoft has given itself more breathing room with Windows 10 Mobile. Windows 10 for PCs and tablets will roll out July 29. But the mobile edition won't be seen broadly until later this year, Gabe Aul, head of Microsoft's Windows Insider program, said in a blog posted earlier this month.


    "We've received questions on the final release date for Windows 10 Mobile," Aul said. "While we're making good progress, we need more time to deliver the optimal experience for mobile devices and you can expect Windows 10 Mobile to release broadly later this year."


    So, what are some of the new features in the Windows 10 Mobile preview? In a blog posted on Thursday, Aul described what's new.

    Designed as a simpler, faster alternative to the aging Internet Explorer, Microsoft's new Edge browser is now officially known as Edge, rather than by its older tag of Spartan. In this build, Edge displays the address bar at the bottom, a change based on feedback from Windows testers, according to Aul. There's also an option to view websites in either mobile view or desktop view.


    Microsoft has also tidied up the overall look of Windows 10 Mobile. In previous builds, many Live tiles pinned to the Start screen would appear blurry. Now the screen is clearer and crisper. Certain controls, such as the volume control, have new icons. Aul also touted the latest build as "more responsive to use." He conceded that more work has to be done but was happy about the progress made in this build.


    The Cortana voice assistant sports a few improvements, especially in its Notebook, an area used to store settings and other user information. Using the Notebook, you can now set up Quiet Hours, a feature that sends any incoming phone calls to voicemail so as not to disturb you. You can also now tell Cortana to send an email in one fell swoop by including the name of the recipient, the subject and your message in one single voice command.


    Another request made by Windows Insiders was to add a virtual flashlight feature to Windows 10's Action Center. And Microsoft has complied with that request in the latest build, letting you turn your phone into a flashlight. The Photos app has been updated to be more reliable and also now supports animated GIFs. And you can now automatically upload your camera roll photos directly to your OneDrive online storage.


    The latest build also contains several fixes, including ones for text notifications, the Podcast app and the navigation bar. But the build also introduces several new bugs.


    In some cases, the install button doesn't respond if the battery isn't fully charged. Some users may bump into an error trying to upgrade from Build 10136, an issue that Microsoft is striving to fix. Sometimes the PIN keyboard doesn't appear after you swipe the screen to unlock it. In rare occasions, entering your PIN fails to unlock the screen. A Gmail account set up on the phone may prevent incoming and outgoing messages in the Messaging app, an issue that can only be resolved with a reboot.


    Further, in-app purchases of Windows Store apps and games don't work on Windows 10 Mobile just yet. In some cases, the colors of certain apps may appear off kilter. And sometimes the notifications in the Action Center are blank.


    To be fair, the latest 10149 build was released on what Microsoft calls the Fast Ring. The Windows 10 Technical Preview has been available to users in both a Slow Ring and a Fast Ring. The Slow Ring builds come out at a slower pace but are generally more stable. The Fast Rings naturally come out at a faster pace but are generally more buggy. So it's natural that the latest Fast Ring will have its share of bugs.


    Based on this latest build, Aul seemed confident about the state of Windows 10 Mobile. "We've been using this build internally for a few days and have really loved it." Aul said. "It is faster, more stable, and more polished overall and has been lots of fun for us to see come together."

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    Samsung doesn't want Windows Update running on your computer

    Samsung doesn't want Windows Update running on your computer | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    As if you needed another reason to do a clean install of WIndows with any new computer, Samsung's got you covered. It turns out that a piece of the bloatware from the OEM is apparently disabling Windows Update because it interferes with Samsung's own software updater.


    The one that, as you might infer, keeps its bloatware up to date on Windows desktops and laptops. A Microsoft MVP (community member, not Redmond employee) chatted with a Samsung customer service rep, asking why this was happening and the rep replied that Windows Update will install drivers for all the hardware on a machine that may or may not work. So, it prevents such a thing by keeping Windows Update turned off. Fine if you aren't worried about security updates but love keeping things like Samsung's auto-back-up tools up to date. It's almost like Samsung wasn't paying attention to Lenovo and Superfish earlier this year.

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    Google, Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla team up to create faster browsers

    Google, Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla team up to create faster browsers | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Engineers at GoogleAppleMicrosoft and Mozilla are partnering to createWebAssembly (a.k.a wasm), a bytecode for use in the browsers of the future that promises up to 20 times faster performance.


    WebAssembly is a project to create a new bytecode (a machine-readable instruction set that’s quicker for browsers to load than high-level languages) that’s more efficient for both desktop and mobile browsers to parse than the full source code of a Web page or app.


    Browsers currently use JavaScript to interpret code and enable functionality on websites such as forms and dynamic content. Improvements have been made to load times via asm.js, but bytecode-based systems like .NET are faster.


    Proposed as a standard that could one day be implemented in all browsers, WebAssembly could bring app-like performance to Web content and apps.


    Until WebAssembly becomes more widely available, the coalition of developers plan to bridge the gap with a JS script that will convert wasm to Mozilla’s widely supported asm.js for browsers that don’t support the new format yet.


    WebAssembly is still very much in its early days: neither its specifications nor its high level design have been finalized yet. However, with major browser developers behind the project, it should see the light of day soon enough.

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    Microsoft just made a huge privacy move to make Bing more competitive with Google and Yahoo

    Microsoft just made a huge privacy move to make Bing more competitive with Google and Yahoo | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Microsoft’s search engine Bing has announced that it will encrypt all of its search traffic by default this summer. Bing had already offered optional encryption, but soon it will be a default for everyone.

    This levels up Bing to match the security standards of the other big search giants like Google and Yahoo, and the added encryption also makes Bing a worthy search engine competitor. Google first made all search encrypted by default in 2013. Yahoo did so in 2014. 


    Like Google, however, Bing will still report referrer data to marketers, although Bing will not let the marketers know what the search term was. This means that if a Bing user clicks on an ad after searching for something, the advertiser will know that Bing is what brought that customer to the website but they will not know what the precise term was that was typed into the search bar. 


    While this encryption move may seem like a tiny piece of news, it indicates a new shift toward better privacy standards. With Microsoft joining the ranks of Google and Yahoo in terms of security standards, this marks the first time the top three search engines provide privacy by default, making it much more difficult for external snoopers to know what people are searching for.


    It also makes it possible for Bing to further gain a search engine edge. Though Google still is king, Microsoft has been working to give itself an edge on mobile — Siri uses Bing search by default, for example.

    But the main question for Microsoft is still whether its move towards an encrypted Bing search engine will be noticed by the average user, and whether it will convince any Google or Yahoo fans to make the switch.

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    Microsoft's Surface Hub will cost up to $19,999 when it ships in September

    Microsoft's Surface Hub will cost up to $19,999 when it ships in September | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    If there was any doubt that Microsoft’s Surface Hub computers were strictly for deep-pocketed businesses, the asking price should clear things up.


    Microsoft will charge $19,999 for the 84-inch, 4K version of the Surface Hub. For businesses on a tighter budget, a 55-inch version with a 1080p display will cost $6,999. Pre-orders will begin on July 1, and of course, both models will have Windows 10 on board when they ship in September.


    What good is a giant, wall-mounted, touchscreen PC? Aside from running all the usual Windows applications, Microsoft has designed the device around office collaboration. It comes with two pressure-sensitive pens, and lights up a whiteboard in OneNote when someone takes a pen from its magnetic holster. The touchscreen supports 100 touch points, so several people can interact with the display at once.


    The Surface Hub also has some slick tools for teleconferencing. It has two wide-angle 1080p cameras inside for picking up an entire room of attendees, and depth sensors for figuring out who’s in the room and where to direct the microphones. Anything drawn on the whiteboard can show up in real time on employees’ computer screens, and they can also beam their screen content back to the Surface Hub using Miracast.


    As for tech specs, the Surface Hub has fourth-generation Intel Core processors (i5 for the smaller model, i7 for the larger), Intel HD 4600 or NVIDIA Quadro K2200 graphics, 128GB of solid state storage, 8GB of RAM, four USB ports (USB 3.0 for two of them), Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and gigabit Ethernet. The smaller model weighs 105 pounds, while the larger weighs a whopping 280 pounds.


    Microsoft will sell the Hub exclusively through major enterprise hardware distributors in 24 markets. But you may not need a well-endowed business to check it out yourself;Engadget reports that it’ll eventually be on display in Microsoft Stores.


    Why this matters: Microsoft isn’t the only one making jumbo touch PCs for enterprises. InFocus, for instance, has been producing similar devices in its MondoPad and BigTouchlines for years, and in many cases for less money. The difference with the Surface Hub is its focus on collaboration, with a marriage of hardware and software that other companies won’t be able to pull off. It could be worth a little extra cash if it lives up to the promise of less excruciating meetings.

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    Here Are The Features Microsoft Is Cutting From Windows 10

    Here Are The Features Microsoft Is Cutting From Windows 10 | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Windows 10 is fast approaching and while there’s no immediate need to upgrade from 8.1, or even 7, odds are you’ll want to make the jump eventually. Before you do, you’d best check out the Windows 10 “feature deprecation section”, to make sure your favourite features aren’t being cut from the latest release.

    It’s to be expected you’ll run into a few driver incompatibilities and unsupported hardware and software, but what can sometimes catch you off guard is when entire features are dropped from the core operating system.

    Probably the biggest cut is Windows Media Center, but it’s not the only thing getting the boot. From Microsoft’s Windows 10 specification page:

    Feature deprecation section

    • If you have Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, or Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center and you install Windows 10, Windows Media Center will be removed.
    • Watching DVDs requires separate playback software
    • Windows 7 desktop gadgets will be removed as part of installing Windows 10.
    • Windows 10 Home users will have updates from Windows Update automatically available. Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise users will have the ability to defer updates.
    • Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts Games that come pre-installed on Windows 7 will be removed as part of installing the Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft has released our version of Solitaire and Minesweeper called the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” and “Microsoft Minesweeper.”
    • If you have a USB floppy drive, you will need to download the latest driver from Windows Update or from the manufacturer’s website.
    • If you have Windows Live Essentials installed on your system, the OneDrive application is removed and replaced with the inbox version of OneDrive.

    Nothing particularly drastic, though if you love desktop gadgets in Windows 7, you might want to think twice about upgrading to Windows 10 — at least until you find some replacements. I doubt the floppy drive thing will bother anyone… I expect more people will be put out by the loss of Solitaire.

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    Your next laptop might have a touch-sensitive spacebar

    The spacebar might be the most used button on your keyboard, but that doesn't mean that it can't do even more. At least, that's what Synaptics thinks. The company — best known for its laptop trackpads — wants to make your spacebar touch sensitive.


    That means that you may soon have two different ways to click on your spacebar. You'll still have that satisfying, traditional physical click for typing, but if your laptop or desktop keyboard has the "SmartBar," you can set custom actions for when you merely tap on the spacebar. In fact, Synaptics says you can set five different actions for when you tap on the SmartBar, presumably depending on where you tap the bar.


    TAP IT, PINCH IT, SWIPE IT


    Perhaps more useful is a feature that lets you highlight the word directly before or after your cursor with a single swipe of the bar, to the left or right, respectively. (If you don't do a lot of typing, the old school way of doing this is control-shift-arrow, or option-shift-arrow on a Mac.) Another gesture that sounds decidedly less useful lets you pinch-to-zoom with your two thumbs across the spacebar.


    The most important thing, however, isn't the list of gestures Synaptics has come up with. It's the hardware itself. If and when manufacturers like HP, Lenovo, or Dell decide to put the SmartBar in their laptops, they can easily modify the software to accomplish different tasks.


    We'll have to wait until we can get our fingers on an actual unit before determining how useful the touch-sensitive spacebar is. We do know that it will have to be very good at ignoring errant touches for it to be anything other than a nuisance while typing. However, if it works out, it could do for keyboards what Apple's Force Touch did for trackpads by bringing a new input method to an overlooked part of our computers. The company says that the SmartBar is available now to manufacturers, so the first products with the high-tech spacebar could hit shelves later this year.

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    Exploit can control older Macs even after they're formatted

    Exploit can control older Macs even after they're formatted | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    There's a new vulnerability that could let evildoers control your Mac, even after you format the system drive. Discovered by OS X security expert Pedro Vilaca, the exploit targets older machines after they wake up from sleep mode. The problem is that security normally protecting the firmware isn't activated immediately after certain models wake up, leaving them briefly exposed. And unlike other vulnerabilities that require physical access to a machine (like ThunderStrike) an attacker would be able to plant such an exploit remotely via Safari or other means.


    To pull it off, they'd first need to get root OS X root access via a malicious website, email attack or other vector. After a carefully designed program is planted, it could wait for the Mac to sleep (or force it to sleep), then flash the firmware when it wakens. Once inside, the malicious "rootkit" would be difficult to detect and delete compared to regular malware, surviving even re-installs or formatting. Though tricky to use on a large scale, the exploit could be used by attackers to gain "epic ownage" on individual targets, as Vilaca put it.


    Vilaca updated his original post to point out that the vulnerability's seriousness, saying it "appears to be an effective zero-day" problem. He confirmed that the bug works on a MacBook Pro Retina, MacBoook Pro 8.2 and a MacBook Air, with all models running the latest BIOS software. However, machines newer than about a year old appear to be immune to it -- possibly because Apple already knows about the issue and patched it, according to Vilaca. Also, even though the exploit is now out there, it would be trickier for attackers to implement than something like Heartbleed. Vilaca doesn't consider the disclosure irresponsible, saying that "the goal is to pressure them to fix their firmware." We've reached out to Apple for comment on the matter.

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    Samsung proposes an Android phone that transforms into a Windows laptop

    Samsung has been thinking up new ways to transform smartphones into laptops. In a patent application filed last week, first spotted by Patently Mobile, Samsung describes a mobile device that runs Android and is able to switch over to Windows when inserted into a dock. Individually, these ideas aren't new — dual-OS devices and docking smartphones have been tried a number of times over the past several years — but they haven't been put together in a particularly straightforward way. Of course, this is only a patent application, so there's no guarantee that Samsung will actually make it.


    IMAGINE HOW SICK THIS THING WOULD BE RUNNING TIZEN AND LINUX


    Even so, Samsung actually goes into quite a bit of detail on how such a device would work. The core would be a smartphone or a tablet, which would hold everything needed to run both Android and Windows. The dock would have a keyboard, a large display, and possibly a trackpad. Those final two items are where it gets interesting. The dock may not need a trackpad because the smartphone's touchscreen could be used instead (given the state of Windows trackpads, this could even be a benefit). Alternatively, if the dock includes a trackpad, the smartphone could be used as a second display. Samsung proposes that it could display Android at the same time that the dock displays Windows, or that it could be an extension of the Windows desktop.



    The patent application notes that other operating systems could be used in place of Windows and Android, but those are the two that it focuses on. That's not really a surprise: they're the dominant mobile and desktop operating systems, and Samsung has even played around with transitioning between the two of them before. In 2013, it introduced the Ativ Q, which could switch between functioning as a Windows notebook and an Android tablet. Of course, making both form factors actually good to use is difficult, especially when all of their power is coming from a mobile device. Still, the idea that a single device could eventually serve as the core of all our computing isn't unreasonable, and it's clearly something that Samsung is thinking about.

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