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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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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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    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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    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'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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    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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    Microsoft's Cortana Is Coming to Android and iPhone

    Microsoft's Cortana Is Coming to Android and iPhone | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Starting in June, you’ll be able to download Cortana as an app on your Galaxy or iPhone even if you’d rather die than use Windows. The rumors are true: Microsoft is giving the non-Windows crowd a taste of its powerful voice assistant, bringing Cortana to Android and iOS.

    People love Cortana so much, some developers have already created a ported version for Android called “Portaña.” This switch to multi-platform availability will make Cortana seem more like a standalone product than a Windows feature. And Cortana has been getting increasingly sophisticated, so this could be a real threat to Siri and Google Now.

    There is a catch, though: The Android and iOS versions of Cortana will be limited. You won’t be able to say “Hey, Cortana” to activate the voice assistant hands-free, and you won’t be able to open apps or toggle settings, since there won’t be the same level of integration.

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    Windows Phone is now officially Windows Mobile again

    Microsoft started dropping the Windows Phone brand back in September, and now we have its official replacement. The software maker has revealed today that the equivalent to Windows Phone for the Windows 10 era is simply "Windows 10 Mobile." If you’ve been paying attention to Microsoft’s mobile efforts over the years, then you’ll know that’s a straight return to the Windows Mobile days. Microsoft used a variety of names for Windows Mobile, including Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 5, and Windows Mobile 6 before switching to Windows Phone for version 7.

    While the new name isn’t simply Windows Mobile, thanks to the 10 numbering, it’s still a return to the old days of Windows Mobile especially if Microsoft does choose to ship a Windows 11 or Windows 12 in the future. After a confusing mix of names over more than 15 years, Microsoft has finally settled on the name it used the most. Windows Mobile makes a lot more sense than Windows Phone these days, especially as the operating system will span across phones and tablets, but it's still not really the Windows as we know it today. Microsoft is trying to change that with universal apps across all devices, but for most Windows is still Windows on PCs and laptops.

    Either way, welcome back old Windows Mobile friend, the circle is complete.


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    The Innovative OS That'll Bring PCs to the Developing World

    The Innovative OS That'll Bring PCs to the Developing World | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Much has been made about the mobile “revolution” in the developing world, the way that smartphones have enabled the citizens of so many poorer countries to leapfrog into the 21st century without having to bother with all the awkward technological steps in between.

    It’s that mentality that’s driving the development of Facebook’s internet-connected drones and Google’s internet-connected balloons. The thinking goes that because so many people in the developing world are buying smartphones (and they are), all they need is access to the internet, and they’ll be well on their way to becoming full, equal participants in the global economy.


    We’re now used to always being connected, and that's dangerous. Rich Fletcher, MIT


    In some ways, the mobile-plus-internet combo has the potential to deliver on its promise. There’s a lot—and increasingly more—that you can do on a smartphone. But then again, think of all the things you can’t, or, at the very least, that you just wouldn’t want to—like draft a presentation, populate an Excel spreadsheet, or write this story. When you think of it that way, all this talk of what people in the developing world can accomplish if only they had a mobile phone and an internet connection can seem a bit, well, patronizing.


    As it turns out, people with less might actually want more.

    “They want the same things you and I have, and not just because we have it,” says tech entrepreneur Matt Dalio. “They want the same things you and I have for the same reason you and I have it.”

    Which is precisely why Dalio founded Endless, a startup that has developed a PC and operating system for the developing world. Endless launched a Kickstarter project for the device this week, but the campaign is mostly for marketing, since the team has spent the last three years developing the technology and testing it with users throughout the developing world. Now, Endless wants to expand that reach even further.

    Not Waiting for A Connection

    The hardware itself is a small, egg-like device that can plug into any television and turn it into a computer screen, giving people instant access to a desktop computer for just $169. This price point means, initially, Endless is not targeting the bottom of the pyramid, but the emerging middle class within these countries that may be able to afford a device like this.


    But the real innovation is not the device itself. It’s the operating system, which Endless built from scratch, specifically for people who have limited experience with computers and who don’t always have a reliable connection to the internet. Designing it required spending a huge amount of time on the ground, in countries like India, Guatemala, and Bangladesh, testing out the technology with users. It was that process that not only convinced Dalio that mobile technology was an incomplete solution for the developing world, but also helped him understand that the Endless team would have to completely rethink the way a computer should operate in order to succeed.




    For starters, Endless had to address the lack of connectivity in these countries, an issue which companies like Facebook and Google are actively seeking to address, but which will take years, if not decades, to complete. So, the Endless team took a cue from the early days of PCs by loading the devices up with more than 100 apps, including things like Khan Academy, encyclopedias, health apps, and more, which work both online and off. “We thought, we can’t give them better connectivity, but what we can do is solve it in the way we used to solve it before we had internet, and that was to have something like Encarta,” he says, referring to Microsoft’s digital encyclopedia, which was popular in the 90s.

    Off the Grid

    According to Rich Fletcher, a research scientist at MIT’s D-Lab, it’s this offline capability that distinguishes the Endless PC from other similar technologies that have failed to make this type of technology work in the past. “We’re now used to always being connected, and that’s dangerous,” Fletcher says. “Having a local cache or server that lets you use apps that don’t require full-time connectivity is really important.”


    Still, Fletcher says Dalio and his team may be underestimating the extent to which people in the developing world want “the same things we have,” and not an adaptation of them. “If the people in New York and Boston aren’t using this Endless computer, people in the developing world are going to be very cautious,” Fletcher says. “They’re going to say, ‘What is this? Why doesn’t my cousin in New York have one, and if he doesn’t want it, why should I?'”


    Then, there is the question of electricity. Though Endless is targeting a market segment that generally has electricity and modern appliances, Fletcher warns that in many parts of the world, the grid is less than reliable. “Just like always-on connectivity, you cannot assume always-on electricity.”


    For that matter, you can’t assume that Endless will succeed at all, or Facebook’s drones or Google’s balloons. But one assumption that is safe to make is that users, no matter where they live, won’t be content with a second-class experience. Mobile might be good enough for lots of things. But it isn’t everything.


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    Microsoft reveals minimum spec for Windows 10

    Microsoft reveals minimum spec for Windows 10 | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Windows 10 is going to be released in just a few short months, and you might be wondering whether or not your system will handle the upgrade. Don’t worry: it almost certainly will.


    Things really haven’t changed much between Windows 8 and Windows 10, and that’s no surprise. Back in October of last year, Microsoft announced as much — a logical move since they’re doing their best to wipe the Vista deja vu from people’s memories.


    Microsoft’s new OS will still run on some pretty basic hardware. To run the desktop OS, all you’ll need is 1GB of RAM for the 32-bit version or 2GB of RAM for the 64-bit version. In terms of hard drive requirements, you’re looking at a minimum of 16GB and 20GB, respectively. Processors must be able to run at 1GHz or better and GPUs need to support at least DirectX 9.


    The consumer edition of Windows 10 will run on displays 8 inches or larger. That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t see any 7-inch tablets running the desktop OS — manufacturers just have to pre-load the Professional version on them instead (possibly because 7-inch Windows devices work well in certain enterprise settings, but have slid in popularity with consumers).

    Anything below 8 inches  (from 7.99 all the way down to 3) for consumers is Windows Mobile territory. Phones and tablets in this category need just 512MB of RAM, at least 4GB of internal storage, and a display with a native resolution of 800 x 480 or better. Even the dirt-cheap Lumia 520 checks all those boxes.


    One particularly interesting slide in Microsoft’s deck is the one that spells out optional components and connectivity. All types of sensors — including accelerometers — are listed as optional, even for mobile devices. It’s hard to imagine a smartphone launching in 2015 without an accelerometer.

    It’s even harder, though, to imagine one launching without a touchscreen, yet on Microsoft’s slide it, too, is labelled as optional for mobile devices. Either someone goofed while editing this slide, or Microsoft is planning on letting OEMs build feature phones powered by Windows 10.


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    Microsoft teams up with Samsung to squeeze out Google

    Microsoft teams up with Samsung to squeeze out Google | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Microsoft on Monday announced a new and improved agreement with Samsung to pre-load Microsoft Office apps on Samsung's Android tablets.

    Plus, Microsoft announced that it had lined up 11 other Android device makers to do the same, including close partner Dell. The apps include Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype.

    This follows the agreement Microsoft and Samsung announced last month where Samsung would load certain Microsoft cloud apps on Samsung’s next flagship Android phones, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge. 

    This is an interesting way for Microsoft to attack its old nemesis, Google.

    Google controls the Android operating system and gives Android away for free to device makers. It makes money on Android from things like integrating search into these devices, getting a percentage when people buy apps, and by encouraging people to use these phones with its other paid services, like Google Apps.

    XDA Jeshter2000A leak of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge shows the option of deleting Google apps

    While Microsoft won't exactly be cutting off Google's ability to make money on Android, it's got a foot in the door with this Samsung deal.

    That's because Samsung seems to be making good on its promise to let people delete unwanted apps from its Android devices.

    A leak of the S6 edge on Android developer’s forum XDA on Saturday shows that the pre-loaded Microsoft apps can be removed. Those apps include OneNote (note-taking), OneDrive (storage), and Skype.

    But so can the pre-loaded Google apps, including some services typically baked into Android like Gmail, Drive, even Google search.

    XDA member Jeshter2000, who claimed to be in possession of an S6 Edge, posted a photo (see picture, right) showing the options to delete Google apps.

    And that means, if you so wish, you can turn these next-generation Samsung phones into Microsoft friendly phones, and ditch Google.


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    Windows 10 to Launch This Summer

    Windows 10 to Launch This Summer | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will officially launch this summer. It will be released in 190 countries and 111 languages. While Microsoft has confirmed a summer release they did not specify an official release date.


    As we reported back in January Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for the first year to owners of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Windows 10 will also bring with it the launch of the Xbox App that will bring the PC and Xbox One into the same ecosystem. It has also been announced that DirectX 12 will be shipping with the operating system.

    We also have reported that Windows 10 will ship with a new web browser codenamed Project Spartan that will replace Internet Explorer and the new operating system will have the ability for users to get updates via a BitTirrent-like system.

    Stay tuned as I’m sure we will hear a lot more about Windows 10 in the coming months.


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    Windows PCs remained vulnerable to Stuxnet-like attacks despite 2010 patch

    Windows PCs remained vulnerable to Stuxnet-like attacks despite 2010 patch | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    If you patched your Windows computers in 2010 against the LNK exploit used by Stuxnet and thought you were safe, researchers from Hewlett-Packard have some bad news for you: Microsoft’s fix was flawed.

    In January, researcher Michael Heerklotz reported privately to HP’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) that the LNK patch released by Microsoft over four years ago can be bypassed.

    This means that over the past four years attackers could have reverse-engineered Microsoft’s fix to create new LNK exploits that could infect Windows computers when USB storage devices got plugged into them. However, there’s no information yet to suggest this has happened.

    The original attack, which exploited a vulnerability in how Windows displayed icons for shortcut (LNK) files, was used to spread Stuxnet, a computer worm that sabotaged uranium enrichment centrifuges at Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz.

    Stuxnet, which is believed to have been created by the U.S. and Israel, was discovered in June 2010 after it spread beyond its intended target and ended up infecting tens of thousands of computers around the world. The LNK vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2010-2568, was one of several zero-day, or previously unknown, flaws that Stuxnet exploited. Microsoft patched the flaw in August that same year as part of a security bulletin called MS10-046.

    “To prevent this attack, Microsoft put in an explicit whitelist check with MS10-046, released in early August 2010,” the HP researchers said in a blog post Tuesday. “Once that patch was applied, in theory only approved .CPL files should have been able to be used to load non-standard icons for links.”

    “The patch failed,” they said. “And for more than four years, all Windows systems have been vulnerable to exactly the same attack that Stuxnet used for initial deployment.”

    ZDI reported the LNK patch bypass found by Heerklotz to Microsoft, which treated it as a new vulnerability (CVE-2015-0096) and fixed it Tuesday as part of MS15-020. The ZDI researchers plan to examine the new update to see if there are any other possible bypasses.

    However, applying the workaround published by Microsoft in 2010, which involves using the registry editor to manually disable the display of icons for shortcut files, will protect against the latest flaw too, they said.

    While the LNK attack was first discovered as part of Stuxnet, security researchers from Kaspersky Lab recently found that another computer worm, called Fanny, had used it since 2008. Fanny is part of a malware arsenal used by a highly sophisticated cyberespionage group that Kaspersky has dubbed Equation.

    As revealed by a Kaspersky Lab report in August 2014, exploitation of the original CVE-2010-2568 vulnerability remained widespread even after the Microsoft patch in 2010, primarily because the exploit was integrated in more common threats like the Sality worm. From July 2010 to May 2014, Kaspersky Lab detected over 50 million instances of the CVE-2010-2568 exploit on more than 19 million computers worldwide.


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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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    Skype for Business arrives on Windows Phone, but lacking a key feature for Office 365

    Skype for Business arrives on Windows Phone, but lacking a key feature for Office 365 | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Although Microsoft has now brought Skype for Business to Windows Phone, its own business customers—those who subscribe to Office 365—may be disappointed to learn that one key feature hasn’t yet been implemented: conversation syncing.


    Skype for Business has already replaced Lync on desktop PCs and the Web, and Windows Phone 8.1 phones will automatically download the new Skype for Business app to replace Lync 2013. (Windows Phone 8.0 users can continue using Lync 2013 or Lync 2010; those phones won’t be able to update to the new app.) 



    Given the fact that a phone has limited space with which to work, one change that Microsoft has made to the app is to “wall off” extraneous conversations. If a new message arrives on your phone, you’ll have the option to answer it without other clients' grabbing the conversation, Microsoft said. Microsoft has also encrypted your conversation and voice mail history by default.


    One of the complaints Skype users have had, however, is that conversations that roam between various platforms don’t sync appropriately, meaning that you might end up with notifications being sent to your PC some time before they arrive on your phone. Microsoft apparently solved that problem, provided you’re running the latest server software—just not for Office 365 users. That capability will be coming soon, the company said.


    Otherwise, the new Skype for Business app for Windows Phone features the Skype UI and 100 new emoticons, to give it a bit of extra punch.


    Last week the Skype for Business team previewed a “broadcast” feature that will allow meetings to be shown to up to 10,000 participants. The app now also works with traditional telephones, so that users can simply dial in to conference calls.


    Why this matters: To its credit, Microsoft has launched Skype for Business on Windows Phone, ahead of iOS and Android—not always the case, to be sure. Still, I suspect that some IT admins wish that Microsoft would get its ducks in a row before releasing the Windows Phone app. Not knowing where you are in a business conversation can give the appearance that you’re unprofessional—and it’s also just plain annoying.

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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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    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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    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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    Microsoft Wi-Fi aims to bring 'hassle-free' Internet to millions

    Microsoft Wi-Fi aims to bring 'hassle-free' Internet to millions | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Microsoft is working on rolling out an updated and rebranded version of its Skype Wi-Fi service.


    "We can confirm that Microsoft is working on a new service, called Microsoft Wi-Fi, that will bring hassle-free Wi-Fi to millions. We look forward to sharing additional detail when available," said a spokesperson in response to a request for comment about Microsoft Wi-Fi.


    Skype Wi-Fi is Microsoft's current service allowing users to pay with Skype Credits to access a variety of public Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide.

    Microsoft's new information pages about its consumer and business Microsoft Wi-Fi service offerings went live for a day or so before Microsoft cut access to them.


    The business-focused offering will be available to subscribers of Microsoft's Office 365 Enterprise service, according to information on its microsoftwifi.com/business site. That service will be available globally and will encompass "over 10 million" Wi-Fi hotspots.


    Microsoft also is working on a consumer-focused version of its new Wi-Fi service, which it plans to make available to active Skype Wi-Fi users "through the Microsoft Work & Play Bundle or the Surface 2 + Skype Wi-Fi bundle"; to Office 365 for Enterprise subscribers; and to customers who received a special promotional code for the service from Microsoft, themicrosoftwifi.com site said.


    Microsoft also is lining up Microsoft Wi-Fi apps for Windows,Android, Mac OS X, iOS and Windows Phone users to access the coming service in airports, hotels, restaurants and other public spaces.

    Microsoft recently lost a trademark battle involving Skype to Sky. (It lost a similar trademark battle to Sky over SkyDrive and ended up changing the SkyDrive name to OneDrive, as a result.) Microsoft officials have indicated they'd pay Sky to be able to continue to use the Skype name, rather than change that brand name.


    However, the reason Microsoft is rebranding Skype Wi-Fi probably has more to do with the company's "One Microsoft" push than with Sky, from what I've heard. Microsoft is rebranding a number of its products and services in a way to emphasize they are part of the Microsoft brand, as opposed to standalone brands like Azure or Surface, as of late.

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    Microsoft Doubles Down On Office For Android Tablets

    Microsoft Doubles Down On Office For Android Tablets | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Call it the robot bear hug. Microsoft announced today that its Android hardware manufacturer (OEM) program that sees Office apps pre-installed on new hardware has been expanded to 20 new companies. According to the software company, there are now 31 “partners” in the program.


    The play is simple: Microsoft wants its apps and services to win on every platform, and to do so, it wants space on every device’s home screen. If you don’t control the platform that is quickly becoming the most important platform ever, you have to play. But if one of your key competitors owns the platform in question, you might need new friends. Say, the firms that actually distribute the platform via their tablet hardware. Voilà, access.

    Here’s the official statement:

    These 31 partners will offer Android tablets pre-installed with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype in the near future. They will be available on a new LG tablet, and Sony will include them on their Xperia Z4 tablet in the next 90 days.

    The new partnerships will continue the early success of the company’s push to bring Office to iOS and Android. Microsoft is pushing Office onto every major platform, ensuring that one of the key cash sources has the largest potential market to sell into.

    Microsoft is, of course, planning similar work for its own Windows 10 platform, an operating system that is still the crux of its corporate soul. Office and Windows remain as Microsoft as apple pie, even as Azure, Skype for Business, Office 365 and other service offerings take on larger roles at the company.


    The new deals are global in scale, targeting Asian, Latin American and European markets. That implies that Microsoft will pick up new users across the globe.

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    There are seven different versions of Windows 10

    There are seven different versions of Windows 10 | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Microsoft's big sales pitch with Windows 10 is that it's one platform, with one consistent experience and one app store to get your software from.


    But when it comes to buying the actual product, there will be seven different versions, Microsoft says in a blog post

    Here they are:


    • Windows 10 Home, which is the most basic PC version.
    • Windows 10 Pro, which has touch features and is meant to work on two-in-one devices like laptop/tablet combinations, as well as some additional features to control how software updates get installed — important in the workplace. 
    • Windows 10 Enterprise, which will have extra management features. We have some ideas of pricing here, as Microsoft is touting a $7/month Windows 10 Enterprise subscription for businesses that also includes a bunch of juicy, lucrative cloud services
    • Windows 10 Mobile for smartphones. 
    • Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise, which is like the one above, but with more business management features. 
    • Windows 10 Education, which is optimized for schools.
    • Windows 10 IoT Core, which is for robots, smart sensors, and — well, if you need it, you'll know it.


    There's very little reason to stress here.


    The important thing to know is that if you're a consumer using Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, or Windows Phone 8.1,  you're get a free upgrade to the equivalent version of Windows 10, so long as you take the plunge in the first year


    So, for example, if you're using Windows 8 Home Edition, you're going to have the option of upgrading to Windows 10 Home Edition.

    All of these versions of Windows 10 include the good stuff, like the new Microsoft Edge browser that's replacing Internet Explorer, digital assistant Cortana, and the new password-less Windows Hello login system. And Microsoft is promising Universal Apps that work across the whole range of devices, from phone to PC and back. 


    And if you take Microsoft up on its free offer, you get the upgrade to the right version automatically. 


    But for something that's supposed to be a massive departure, this list of Windows 10 versions sure seems to be business as usual for customers.


    For developers, the fact that it's all Windows 10 on the backend makes it easier to develop apps once and make them available to everybody, everywhere. But for the actual users, this range of Windows 10 versions is annoying at best, even if it's an annoyance that Microsoft customers are used to.  


    The other massive caveat here is that we don't know Windows 10 pricing outside of the free upgrade offer — so if you want to go from Windows 8 Home to Windows 10 Pro, for example, we don't know for sure how much that would cost you. Free just isn't always free. 


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    Microsoft Jumps Into The Mobile Device Management Fray

    Microsoft Jumps Into The Mobile Device Management Fray | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Microsoft made good on its promise to add mobile device management (MDM) to its Office 365 productivity service, making the feature generally available today to commercial customers. Microsoft has added, in English, the ability for large companies to manage Office on the phones of their employees, regardless of whether the handset in use is a personal or corporate device.

    Mobile device management is a heated space inside the enterprise market. MobileIron, a company that offers MDM along with other related services, recently went public. Another market participant, Good Technology, filed to go public, shelved its offering, and now appears ready to take another crack at flotation.


    Microsoft’s MDM product will be free to commercial Office 365 customers. That is sensible, as the software company is, I presume, more focused at the moment on growing its seat-base rather than wringing positive dollar churn from fresh accounts.


    As you would expect, Office 365’s MDM tooling includes the ability to wipe information from employee handsets, implement security requirements and restrict access to data.

    Office 365 is a key product for Microsoft, which is working to convert its single-sale software model into a recurring stream of subscription revenue. The company breaks out its consumer Office 365 subscriber base on a per-quarter basis, but not its commercial seat count for the product. If MDM can help Microsoft sell more quickly into the enterprise market, the company could make progress toward beating its currently tepid, expected growth tally for its current fiscal year.


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    Microsoft to support 8K video resolutions with Windows 10

    Microsoft to support 8K video resolutions with Windows 10 | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Microsoft is looking beyond 4K with Windows 10 and bringing 8K support to the OS, years before TVs, monitors and content for that display resolution become widely available.

    The 8K support for Windows 10 will be for displays larger than 27 inches, according to a slide presented at Microsoft’s WinHEC trade show in Shenzhen, China, last week.

    Large-screen TVs based on the 8K resolution have wowed many at trade shows like CES, but it’s still many years away from adoption. Users are still moving to from conventional HD to the new 4K standard, and it could be many years until PC displays start supporting 8K.

    All major TV makers have shown prototype 8K displays. Japan’s NHK is testing 8K broadcasts in time for the 2020 Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo.

    8K displays will show images at a 7680 x 4320 resolution. Support for 8K will be built in to Windows 10 for PCs, and 8K monitors will need to be attached to display ports. PC makers may also come out with 8K all-in-ones in the future.

    TV makers have already proposed a new SuperMHL connector for 8K video, and the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has proposed the Embedded DisplayPort (eDP) 1.4a standard to support 8K in laptops, mobile devices and PCs.

    Windows has always been a strong gaming and multimedia platform, and when 8K does come out, enthusiasts like gamers won’t have to wait for a new OS to support that resolution. But PCs would need beefy hardware, and native Windows 10 support could encourage the development of advanced hardware. Graphics card makers Nvidia and AMD support 4K at acceptable frame-per-second rates and are also working to support 8K.

    It may take many years for 8K to become practical, so meanwhile Microsoft has prepared Windows 10 for 4K. The OS will support 4K resolutions on PCs with screen sizes of 8 inches or higher, and on small-screen tablets and smartphones with screen sizes of 6 inches and higher, according to a slide from the presentation.

    The OS supports the 4K video codec HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding), also called with H.265, which is being promoted by the International Telecommunications Union. Microsoft in its slides made no mention of a different 4K video codec called VP9, a royalty-free video standard from Google already being adopted by major TV and chip makers.

    Microsoft also shared details about PlayReady 3.0, a Windows 10 digital rights management platform to secure video and streaming content. PlayReady 3.0 will use a hardware-based technology to protect content streams to tablets, smartphones and PCs.


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    Windows 10 Upgrades Will Be Free, Even for Pirates. No Joke

    Windows 10 Upgrades Will Be Free, Even for Pirates. No Joke | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Windows 10 is coming this summer, Microsoft has confirmed, and will be free to anyone using Windows 7 or better. Even people who didn’t pay for it.

    That’s right, even Windows 7 and 8 users who don’t have a valid Windows license will get a free bump up to Windows 10. The release timing and new upgrade scheme were revealed by Microsoft operating system chief Terry Myerson at the WinHEC technology conference in Shenzhen, China, Reuters reports. Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment.

    It’s a surprising move given the importance that Microsoft has placed on Windows license revenue in the past, and the lengths Microsoft has gone to to prevent the spread of pirated copies of the operating system. But the company has spent the past year reinventing itself in many ways, including going so far as to announce a free version of Windows for devices with screens smaller than nine inches.

    Meanwhile, operating system pricing expectations have also been changing. Apple has offered free upgrades to OS X since 2013, and mobile operating system updates have long been free. Apple can make up for some of this lost revenue through increased hardware sales, and Microsoft is trying this strategy as well with its Surface tablet/notebook hybrid and other new devices. But Google offers its Android mobile operating system for free, making money off mobile advertising and app sales in the Google Play Store. Microsoft may similarly see a free Windows 10 as the gateway to alternate revenue streams.

    The company now offers a range of cloud services, including Office 365, Skype and OneDrive, that Windows users may be more likely shell out for, even if they didn’t buy an operating system license. And even if those customers don’t end up buying cloud services from the company, at least they’re staying in the Microsoft ecosystem. Last quarter Microsoft’s revenue from consumer licensing — including both Windows and Office — accounted for only 16 percent of the company revenue, down from 23 percent the previous year. With Apple and Google Chromebooks slowly eating into Microsoft’s market share, the company could be thinking that a non-paying customer is better than no customer at all.

    The company could also be worried about leaving millions of machines running outdated operating systems and software. Unpatched systems can spread malware and viruses, and releasing security updates for decades old platforms is costly. Microsoft has been campaigning to get users to retire Windows XP and the Internet Explorer 6 web browser, but China has been particularly slow to upgrade both. To make matters worse, the Chinese government, which has long clashed with Microsoft over piracy, even banned the use of Windows 8 on government computers largely due to concerns over upgrade costs.

    The move to simply give away updated copies to pirates could ensure that Microsoft doesn’t end up in the same situation again. But regardless of the reason, it’s certainly a change of direction for the company. And welcome news to those who acquired Windows through less than legal means.


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    A lot of people are saying Microsoft is killing Internet Explorer, but that's not true

    A lot of people are saying Microsoft is killing Internet Explorer, but that's not true | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

    Microsoft has been working on a new web browser code-named "Project Spartan" specifically designed for Windows 10 for quite some time now, and that's left plenty of people wondering what will happen to Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

    While some are claiming that Microsoft is "killing off" the Internet Explorer branding, that's not true.

    Microsoft confirmed to us that Internet Explorer will still be included in Windows 10, but that it will play second fiddle to "Project Spartan," which is to be re-branded with a new name in the future.

    "Project Spartan is Microsoft’s next generation browser, built just for Windows 10," a Microsoft spokesperson told Business Insider. "We will continue to make Internet Explorer available with Windows 10 for enterprises and other customers who require legacy browser support."

    So while Internet Explorer will technically be included in Windows 10, Microsoft wants to shine a spotlight on Project Spartan as the main Microsoft browser, likely in an effort to shed the negative connotation many have with Internet Explorer (famously known for being the number one web browser for downloading other browsers) and to draw attention to the slew of new features Project Spartan will offer.

    Project Spartan was first announced in January during Microsoft's Windows 10 unveiling, and it offers a new design and rendering engine, and includes integration with Cortana, Microsoft's virtual assistant.


    Allowing Project Spartan to plug into Cortana will allow users to glean more information from the web without leaving their current tab, with Cortana being able to pull up directions, store hours, phone numbers, and addresses from a website. All you'll need to do is click on Cortana's tiny blue ring to see what she can find from the website you're visiting.

    So what will Project Spartan eventually be called when Windows 10 launches?

    Microsoft says it's still deciding on how to re-brand Project Spartan, according to The Verge, but don't be surprised if it includes the word "Microsoft" in the name — Microsoft's marketing chief Chris Capossela says their polling suggests Chrome users preferred including the company name in the re-branding. 


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