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Communications

Tox, a Skype Replacement Built On 'Privacy First' 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the pet-rock-also-built-on-privacy-first dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Rumors of back door access to Skype have plagued the communication software for the better part of a decade. Even if it's not true, Skype is owned by Microsoft, which is beholden to data requests from law enforcement. Because of these issues, a group of developers started work on Tox, which aims to rebuild the functionality of Skype with an emphasis on privacy. "The main thing the Tox team is trying to do, besides provide encryption, is create a tool that requires no central servers whatsoever—not even ones that you would host yourself. It relies on the same technology that BitTorrent uses to provide direct connections between users, so there's no central hub to snoop on or take down."
Microsoft

China Gives Microsoft 20 Days To Respond To Competition Probe 68

Posted by samzenpus
from the explain-yourself dept.
An anonymous reader writes "China has given Microsoft three weeks to explain "compatibility issues" in Windows and Office that could violate Chinese competition laws. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) questioned Microsoft Vice President David Chen and gave the company a deadline to make an explanation, the agency said in a short statement on its website. Microsoft's use of verification codes also spurred complaints from Chinese companies. Their use "may have violated China's anti-monopoly law", the official Xinhua news agency said on Monday."
Microsoft

Microsoft Shutting Down MSN Messenger After 15 Years of Service 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the so-long-farewell dept.
New submitter airfuz writes Microsoft took a bold move announcing that users have to move away from the old version of Internet Explorer to the new version 11. And now not long after that, Microsoft announced that they are shutting down the 15-year-old MSN Messenger. Most people have moved away from the service to Facebook and other mobile based messengers such as Whatsapp, and so MSN is left with few users. But still, ending a 15-year messaging service like the MSN Messenger means something to the ones who grew up using it.
Software

Post-Microsoft Nokia Offering Mapping Services To Samsung 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-map-for-food dept.
jfruh writes: With Nokia's Windows Phone handset line sold off to Microsoft, one of the company's remaining businesses is its Here digital mapping service. No longer feeling loyalty to Microsoft or its OS, Nokia has inked a deal with Samsung to supply Here services to both Tizen and Android devices, including the upcoming Samsung smartwatch.
Microsoft

Microsoft Defies Court Order, Will Not Give Emails To US Government 397

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-didn't-say-pretty-please dept.
schwit1 sends this excerpt from a report about Microsoft: Despite a federal court order directing Microsoft to turn overseas-held email data to federal authorities, the software giant said Friday it will continue to withhold that information as it waits for the case to wind through the appeals process. The judge has now ordered both Microsoft and federal prosecutors to advise her how to proceed by next Friday, September 5.

Let there be no doubt that Microsoft's actions in this controversial case are customer-centric. The firm isn't just standing up to the US government on moral principles. It's now defying a federal court order. "Microsoft will not be turning over the email and plans to appeal," a Microsoft statement notes. "Everyone agrees this case can and will proceed to the appeals court. This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen."
Microsoft

Microsoft Releases Replacement Patch With Two Known Bugs 138

Posted by samzenpus
from the second-time-is-usually-a-charm dept.
snydeq writes Microsoft has re-released its botched MS14-045/KB 2982791 'Blue Screen 0x50' patch, only to introduce more problems, InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard reports. "Even by Microsoft standards, this month's botched Black Tuesday Windows 7/8/8.1 MS14-045 patch hit a new low. The original patch (KB 2982791) is now officially 'expired' and a completely different patch (KB 2993651) offered in its stead; there are barely documented revelations of new problems with old patches; patches that have disappeared; a 'strong' recommendation to manually uninstall a patch that went out via Automatic Update for several days; and an infuriating official explanation that raises serious doubts about Microsoft's ability to support Windows 9's expected rapid update pace."
Windows

Microsoft Dumps 1,500 Apps From Its Windows Store 126

Posted by timothy
from the bad-actors dept.
redletterdave writes: Microsoft announced on its Windows blog Wednesday that it's removed more than 1,500 apps from its Windows Store in a bid to clean up the store and restore trust with Windows 8 and Windows Phone users. Microsoft's new certification process, in particular, asks for clear and accurate names that "reflect the functionality of the app," more accurate categories, and differentiated icons to ensure apps aren't confused with one another. Microsoft reached out to developers with apps that violated its policies; some agreed to make changes to their software, while those who were "less receptive" saw their apps removed from the Windows Store. That might be just the beginning.
Operating Systems

New Windows Coming In Late September -- But Which One? 251

Posted by timothy
from the double-insulated dept.
snydeq (1272828) writes "Nobody seems to know for sure whether 'Threshold' and 'Windows 9' will be one and the same or separate operating systems, reports Woody Leonhard in his roundup of insights on Microsoft's forthcoming OS plans, expected September 30. 'Many people think the terms are synonymous, but longtime Chinese leaker Faikee continues to maintain that they are two separate products, possibly headed in different directions. Neowin Senior Editor and Columnist Brad Sams appears to have access to the most recent test builds, possibly on a daily basis. He doesn't talk about details, but the items he's let drop on the Neowin forum leave an interesting trail of crumbs.' Either way, the next iteration of Windows will have a lot to say about the kind of Microsoft to expect as Satya Nadella cements his leadership over the flagship OS."
Networking

Predictive Modeling To Increase Responsivity of Streamed Games 119

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the so-predictable dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes Streaming game services always bump up against a hard latency limit based on the total round-trip time it takes to send user input to a remote server and receive a frame of game data from that server. To alleviate the situation, Microsoft Research has been developing a system called DeLorean (whitepaper) using predictive modeling to improve the experienced responsiveness of a game. By analyzing previous inputs in a Markov chain, DeLorean tries to predict the most likely choices for the user's next input and then generates speculative frames that fit those inputs and sends them back to the user. The caveat is that sending those extra predictive frames and information does add a bandwidth overhead of anywhere from 1.5 to 4 times that of a normal streaming game client. During testing the benefits were apparent, though. Even when the actual round-trip time between input and server response was 256 ms, double-blind testers reported both the gameplay responsiveness and graphical quality of the DeLorean system were comparable to a locally played version of the game.
Government

Munich Council Say Talk of LiMux Demise Is Greatly Exaggerated 190

Posted by timothy
from the that-was-the-beer-talking dept.
ndogg (158021) writes "The rumors of Munich's city government going back to Microsoft seem to have been greatly exaggerated. There was a review of the city's IT systems that was called for by the mayor, but it wasn't solely just to decide on whether to move back to Microsoft. And while there have been complaints about LiMux, they mostly seem to concern compatibility with OpenOffice.org, which may well be resolved by switching to LibreOffice."
Education

ACM Blames the PC For Driving Women Away From Computer Science 329

Posted by timothy
from the how-you-slice-and-dice-the-factors dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Over at the Communications of the ACM, a new article — Computing's Narrow Focus May Hinder Women's Participation — suggests that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs should shoulder some of the blame for the dearth of women at Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter and other tech companies. From the article: "Valerie Barr, chair of ACM's Council on Women in Computing (ACM-W), believes the retreat [of women from CS programs] was caused partly by the growth of personal computers. 'The students who graduated in 1984 were the last group to start college before there was personal computing. So if you were interested in bioinformatics, or computational economics, or quantitative anthropology, you really needed to be part of the computer science world. After personal computers, that wasn't true any more.'" So, does TIME's 1982 Machine of the Year deserve the bad rap? By the way, the ACM's Annual Report discusses its participation in an alliance which has helped convince Congress that there ought to be a federal law making CS a "core subject" for girls and boys: "Under the guidance of the Education Policy Committee, ACM continued its efforts to reshape the U.S. education system to see real computer science exist and count as a core graduation credit in U.S. high schools. Working with the CSTA, the National Center for Women and Information Technology, NSF, Microsoft, and Google, ACM helped launch a new public/private partnership under the leadership of Code.org to strengthen high school level computing courses, improve teacher training, engage states in bringing computer science into their core curriculum guidelines, and encourage more explicit federal recognition of computer science as a key discipline in STEM discussions.""
Businesses

3 Years In, a "B" For Tim Cook's Performance at Apple 90

Posted by timothy
from the apple-polishers dept.
Cult of Mac has taken a look at the three years since Tim Cook began his job as Apple's CEO, and rates him a "solid B." Cook might be neither as charismatic or volatile as Steve Jobs was, but he's made some interesting moves and statements. One factor (an area in which Cult of Mac gives Cook an A) is employee happiness, something for which Jobs was not always known: Cook’s highest “grade” on this hypothetical report card may come from Apple employees. Though the lanky 53-year-old is reportedly short on small talk, his people skills have earned him a 93 percent approval rating from a sampling of almost 2,000 people who work at Apple on website Glass Door, where anonymous employees can rate their satisfaction with the overall work environment as well as give thumbs up or down for the CEO.
Operating Systems

A New Homegrown OS For China Could Arrive By October 93

Posted by timothy
from the which-governement-holds-your-data? dept.
According to a Reuters report, China could have a new homegrown operating system by October to take on imported rivals such as Microsoft Corp, Google Inc and Apple Inc, Xinhua news agency said on Sunday. Computer technology became an area of tension between China and the United States after a number of run-ins over cyber security. China is now looking to help its domestic industry catch up with imported systems such as Microsoft's Windows and Google's mobile operating system Android. The operating system would first appear on desktop devices and later extend to smartphone and other mobile devices, Xinhua said, citing Ni Guangnan who heads an official OS development alliance established in March. It would make sense for even a "homegrown" operating system to be based on existing ones, in the way Red Flag Linux is. Conceptually related: Earlier this year, Chinese company Coship Electronics announced (and demonstrated) a mobile OS called 960 OS.
Microsoft

For Microsoft, $93B Abroad Means Avoiding $30B Tax Hit 316

Posted by timothy
from the what's-billed-vs-what's-owed dept.
walterbyrd (182728) writes "Microsoft Corp. is currently sitting on almost $29.6 billion it would owe in U.S. taxes if it repatriated the $92.9 billion of earnings it is keeping offshore, according to disclosures in the company's most recent annual filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The amount of money that Microsoft is keeping offshore represents a significant spike from prior years, and the levies the company would owe amount to almost the entire two-year operating budget of the company's home state of Washington."
Businesses

Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers 441

Posted by Soulskill
from the right-in-the-pride dept.
theodp writes Following up on news that the White House met with big biz on immigration earlier this month, Bloomberg sat down with Joe Green, the head of Mark Zuckerberg's Fwd.US PAC, to discuss possible executive actions President Obama might take on high tech immigration (video) in September. "Hey, Joe," asked interviewer Alix Steel. "All we keep hearing about this earnings season though from big tech is how they're actually cutting jobs. If you look at Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, why do the tech companies then need more tech visas?" Green explained why tech may not want to settle for laid-off U.S. talent when the world is its oyster. "The difference between someone who's truly great and just sort of okay is really huge," Green said. "Culture in tech is a very meritocratic culture," he added. "The vast, vast majority of tech engineers that I talked to who are from the United States are very supportive of bringing in people from other countries because they want to work with the very best."
Microsoft

Microsoft Lobby Denies the State of Chile Access To Free Software 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the lockin-leverage-legislate dept.
walterbyrd writes: Fresh on the heels of the entire Munich and Linux debacle, another story involving Microsoft and free software has popped up across the world, in Chile. A prolific magazine from the South American country says that the powerful Microsoft lobby managed to turn around a law that would allow the authorities to use free software. "An independent member of the Chilean Parliament, Vlado Mirosevic, pushed a bill that would allow the state to consider free software when the authorities needed to purchase or renew licenses. ... A while later, the same member of the Parliament, Daniel Farcas, proposed another bill that actually nullified the effects of the previous one that had just been adopted. To make things even more interesting, some of the people who voted in favor of the first law also voted in favor of the second one. ... The new bill is even more egregious, because it aggressively pushes for the adoption of proprietary software. Companies that choose to use proprietary software will receive certain tax breaks, which makes it very hard for free software to get adopted."
Education

Professor Steve Ballmer Will Teach At Two Universities This Year 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the teaching!-teaching!-teaching! dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "When Steve Ballmer announced he was stepping down from Microsoft's board of directors, he cited a fall schedule that would "be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season." It turns out Ballmer will teach an MBA class at Stanford's Graduate School of Business in the fall, and a class at USC's Marshall School of Business in the spring. Helen Chang, assistant director of communications at Stanford's Business School, told Business Insider that Ballmer will be working with faculty member Susan Athey for a strategic management course called "TRAMGT588: Leading organizations." As for the spring semester, Ballmer will head to Los Angeles — closer to where his Clippers will be playing — and teach a course at University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. We reached out to the Marshall School, which declined to offer more details about Ballmer's class.
Government

Smartphone Kill Switch, Consumer Boon Or Way For Government To Brick Your Phone? 299

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-of-both-worlds dept.
MojoKid writes We're often told that having a kill switch in our mobile devices — mostly our smartphones — is a good thing. At a basic level, that's hard to disagree with. If every mobile device had a built-in kill switch, theft would go down — who would waste their time over a device that probably won't work for very long? Here's where the problem lays: It's law enforcement that's pushing so hard for these kill switches. We first learned about this last summer, and this past May, California passed a law that requires smartphone vendors to implement the feature. In practice, if a smartphone has been stolen, or has been somehow compromised, its user or manufacturer would be able to remotely kill off its usability, something that would be reversed once the phone gets back into its rightful owner's hands. However, such functionality should be limited to the device's owner, and no one else. If the owner can disable a phone with nothing but access to a computer or another mobile device, so can Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia or Apple. If the designers of a phone's operating system can brick a phone, guess who else can do the same? Everybody from the NSA to your friendly neighborhood police force, that's who. At most, all they'll need is a convincing argument that they're acting in the interest of "public safety."
Microsoft

Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the retirement!-retirement!-retirement! dept.
jones_supa writes: After leaving his position as CEO of Microsoft a year ago, Steve Ballmer has still held a position as a member of the board of directors for the company. Now, he is leaving the board, explaining why in a letter to fresh Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "I have become very busy," Ballmer explains. "I see a combination of Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking up a lot of time." Despite his departure, the former-CEO is still invested in the company's success, and he spent most of the letter encouraging Nadella and giving advice. Nadella shot back a supportive, equally optimistic response, promising that Microsoft will thrive in "the mobile-first, cloud-first world."

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