19 Jul 2018

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What's going on with Microsoft's Surface Andromeda device?

Zac Bowden has published an article making sense of all the news and rumors regarding Microsoft's Andromeda device, its dual-screen foldable tablet thing. According to his sources, the device is not cancelled, but delayed until next year because the custom UI Microsoft is building for it needs more time.

The Andromeda device runs an experience tailored for its unique form-factor, which is built on top of Windows Core OS. This tailored experience is known as Andromeda OS and includes no legacy UIs and bloat. Microsoft is doing the exact same thing with Surface Hub 2, which also runs a custom tailored version of Windows Core OS known as Aruba and built specifically for that large collaborative device form factor. Therefore, it's important to stress that Andromeda OS is unlike any version of Windows 10 available on the market today; it's an entirely new Windows OS experience powered by CShell that's built from the ground up for mobile dual-screened multitasking. Because of this, Microsoft needs more time to ensure the OS is well-baked.

Bowden's article is probably the closest to the current state of Andromeda.

19 Jul 2018 10:04pm GMT

Google's Loon brings internet-by-balloon to Kenya

Google's sister-company Loon has announced its first commercial deal: partnering with Telkom Kenya to deliver connectivity to the region. The firm's antennae-dangling fleet will ride the wind high above parts of the African country.

Sometimes, crazy ideas do seem to work.

19 Jul 2018 9:56pm GMT

Bloomberg: Fuchsia intended to replace Android in five years

Well, here it is. I've been saying for 18 months now that Fuchsia clearly felt like a whole lot more than "just" a research operating system, and that I believed its developers' ultimate goal is to replace Android, which is a dead end. This Bloomberg article by the usually well-informed Mark Gurman is the clearest indication yet that such is, indeed, the end goal.

But members of the Fuchsia team have discussed a grander plan that is being reported here for the first time: Creating a single operating system capable of running all the company's in-house gadgets, like Pixel phones and smart speakers, as well as third-party devices that now rely on Android and another system called Chrome OS, according to people familiar with the conversations. According to one of the people, engineers have said they want to embed Fuchsia on connected home devices, such as voice-controlled speakers, within three years, then move on to larger machines such as laptops. Ultimately the team aspires to swap in their system for Android, the software that powers more than three quarters of the world's smartphones, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. The aim is for this to happen in the next half decade, one person said. CEO Sundar Pichai hasn't signed off on all of this just yet, so it's by no means 100% guaranteed - and a lot can change in five years. That being said, it's getting easier and easier to see which way the wind's blowing. There's also reports of Fuchsia's security and privacy oriented design getting in conflict with Google's ad-driven business model.

The company must also settle some internal feuds. Some of the principles that Fuchsia creators are pursuing have already run up against Google's business model. Google's ads business relies on an ability to target users based on their location and activity, and Fuchsia's nascent privacy features would, if implemented, hamstring this important business. There's already been at least one clash between advertising and engineering over security and privacy features of the fledgling operating system, according to a person familiar with the matter. The ad team prevailed, this person said.

It's sad to hear that, but in the end, not exactly surprising.

19 Jul 2018 6:36pm GMT

Chrome OS isn't ready for tablets yet

So this is supposed to be a review of the Acer Chromebook Tab 10, a tablet that was designed explicitly and exclusively for the education market. Acer and Google say teachers really wanted a tablet form factor for the classroom, and they really don't want to have to figure out how to manage an entirely new operating system when they're already all in on Chrome OS. And so here it is, finally: an honest-to-goodness Chrome OS tablet.

Keep this article in mind when you read the next item I'm about to post.

19 Jul 2018 5:23pm GMT

18 Jul 2018

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Chinese iCloud user data is now handled by a state-owned telco

If you're an Apple customer living in China who didn't already opt out of having your iCloud data stored locally, here's a good reason to do so now. That information, the data belonging to China-based iCloud users which includes emails and text messages, is now being stored by a division of China Telecom, the state-owned telco. The operator's Tianyi cloud storage business unit has taken the reins for iCloud China, according to a WeChat post from China Telecom. Apple separately confirmed the change to TechCrunch.

Privacy is very important to us at Apple. Unless you're Chinese - then you're shit out of luck.

18 Jul 2018 10:28pm GMT

Windows 10 getting support for leap seconds

Microsoft is bringing support for leap seconds - yes, that one extra second - to Windows, starting with Windows 10 Redstone 5 and Windows Server 2019. With the upcoming updates for Windows 10, Microsoft's operating system now deals with leap seconds in a way that is incredibly accurate, UTC-compliant, and traceable. Leap seconds typically occur every 18 months, resulting in one extra second. The extra leap second occurs to adjust with the earth's slowed down rotation, and an extra second is added to UTC in order to keep it in-sync with mean solar time. To deal with the extra second more appropriately, Windows 10 will now display that extra second, instead of directly jumping to the next one, making it the world's first OS to have full support for leap seconds.

I didn't know operating systems didn't fully support leap seconds. That is a big surprise to me.

18 Jul 2018 10:25pm GMT

Google CEO responds to EU Android fine

Google's CEO Sundar Pichai has responded to the EU's antitrust fine regarding Android. The blog post is exactly what you'd expect - a lot of fluffy language about how amazing Android is and how it helps little kids pet bunnies and all that stuff, with remarkably little substance. There's really no actual reply to the three core claims in the EU ruling, which makes the response rather weak.

One part stood out to me though.

The phones made by these companies are all different, but have one thing in common - the ability to run the same applications. This is possible thanks to simple rules that ensure technical compatibility, no matter what the size or shape of the device. No phone maker is even obliged to sign up to these rules - they can use or modify Android in any way they want, just as Amazon has done with its Fire tablets and TV sticks.

This hits at the core of the ruling, because according to the EU, established through years of research and verifiable through leaked copies of the agreements Google signs with Android device makers, the very problem is that Android bans Android device makers from making or shipping Android devices that do not use Google's version of Android. Pichai seems to claim here that that's not true, but this is something that ought to be easily verifiable, and I doubt the EU would hand down this fine if the agreements between Android device makers and Google didn't clearly specify this.

We'll have to wait and see if Google can substantiate all of this, because if not, Pichai just flat-out lied in an official statement from the company.

18 Jul 2018 10:22pm GMT

Microsoft announces preview of Windows 10 IoT Core Services

The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming how businesses gather and use data to develop competitive insights and create new financial opportunities. As IoT technology matures and our partners gain more experience, they are evolving their business models to increase the overall return on investment of their IoT solutions. This includes adding recurring revenue, enhancing security, and reducing support costs. At Computex a few weeks back, we announced Windows 10 IoT Core Services, which enables our IoT partners to commercialize their solutions running on Windows 10 IoT Core. We are now excited to announce the public preview of this service along with details on purchasing and pricing. As described in our previous blog, IoT Core Services provides 10 years of operating system support along with services to manage device updates and assess device health.

I have no idea what any of this means, but I'm just the copier and paster.

18 Jul 2018 10:14pm GMT

EU fines Android for $5 billion for Android antitrust violations

Update: here's the full press release. Here's the three main violations:

In particular, Google: has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome), as a condition for licensing Google's app store (the Play Store); made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices; and has prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google (so-called "Android forks"). Original article continues below.

Google has been hit with a record-breaking €4.3 billion ($5 billion) fine by EU regulators for breaking antitrust laws. The European Commission says Google has abused its Android market dominance by bundling its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system. Google has also allegedly blocked phone makers from creating devices that run forked versions of Android, and "made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators" to exclusively bundle the Google Search app on handsets.

I'm okay with bundling applications, but I'm 100% opposed to large corporations like Google blocking competing companies from running forked versions of Android - allowed through Android's licensing - and wealthy corporations basically buying dominance by sending large sums of money to in this case carriers and manufacturers that smaller companies could never afford.

That being said, I do feel like the way we determine what is and is not corporate behaviour damaging to consumers and the market needs some serious overhaul. I've asked this question on OSNews before, but even though Apple doesn't have the market share to qualify as a monopoly, does anyone really want to argue that Apple - which sucks up virtually all of the profits in the handset market, despite its small marketshare - does not have power and influence over the mobile market akin to Google's? Which player has more influence over a market - the player with 10% market share sucking up 90% of the profits, or the player with 90% marketshare sucking up only 10% of the profits?

I'm no economist so I'm not going to claim I know the answer, but it sure does seem like relying solely on market share to evaluate market dominance seems shortsighted, at best.

18 Jul 2018 11:18am GMT

17 Jul 2018

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Do you really need to properly eject a USB drive?

Pull a USB flash drive out of your Mac without first clicking to eject it, and you'll get a stern, shameful warning: "Disk Not Ejected Properly." But do you really need to eject a thumb drive the right way? Probably not. Just wait for it to finish copying your data, give it a few seconds, then yank. To be on the cautious side, be more conservative with external hard drives, especially the old ones that actually spin. That's not the official procedure, nor the most conservative approach. And in a worst-case scenario, you risk corrupting a file or - even more unlikely - the entire storage device.

This is terrible advice for regular users, but I have to admit that I, too, don't really use the safe eject features of operating systems, unless I want to eject right after completing a write operation.

17 Jul 2018 10:45pm GMT

Chinese researchers achieve quantum-entanglement record

Scientists have just packed 18 qubits - the most basic units of quantum computing - into just six weirdly connected photons. That's an unprecedented three qubits per photon, and a record for the number of qubits linked to one another via quantum entanglement. So why is this exciting?

17 Jul 2018 10:42pm GMT

Riot's approach to anti-cheat

Combating cheats is an ever-evolving arms race. The scope and complexity of cheat development grows every year along with the stakes in online gaming. The pressure is on for game studios to level up when it comes to detecting and preventing bad actors. I'm Michael "Perma" VanKuipers, and I used to be one of those bad actors; I spent over a decade developing cheats for various games and earned the ire of at least one large game studio in the process. These days I work on Riot's Anti-Cheat team, helping secure League of Legends from scripts, bots, and exploits. In this article, I'm going to show you some of the details and strategies behind our latest anti-cheat initiative, including a technical overview of the steps we took to mitigate certain types of cheating.

I've been playing League of Legends for six years, and I may (I wasn't sure) have seen cheating once or twice. Riot's work seems to be paying off.

17 Jul 2018 10:40pm GMT

Slackware turns 25

On July 16th, 1993, Slackware Linux distribution was officially released. Based entirely on the Softlanding Linux System (SLS) system, it was designed for the machines with a 3.5" boot floppy. Over the past 25 years, Slackware has turned out to be one of the most influential Linux distros around.

Truly a staple of the Linux world.

17 Jul 2018 10:37pm GMT

Microsoft kills Win32 Skype client in favour of UWP version

Coming over the summer, Microsoft is going to add integrated call recording (something that previously required third-party applications and a deprecated API), read receipts to show when a message recipient has read a message, and end-to-end encryption of text and audio chat using the Signal protocol. Microsoft is also making Skype audio and video calls easier to integrate into streams such as those used on Mixer and Twitch. Support for the NDI API means that streaming applications such as Xsplit and OBS can use a Skype call as an audio/video source. That means they can be overlaid on games or other content, just as is already done with webcam input. [...] There is, however, a price to pay for this: the traditional Win32 Skype client is being end-of-lifed and will not be supported beyond the end of August this year. Users of the Win32 client will have to upgrade to Skype 8.0 (the desktop version of the new unified app) in order to be able to continue to use the network.

Another staple Win32 application bites the dust. Don't read anything into it though, since people still seem convinced Win32 has a future.

17 Jul 2018 10:35pm GMT

16 Jul 2018

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NVIDIA unifies GeForce Now across PCs and Shield TV

NVIDIA this month is unifying its GeForce NOW service across all platforms that it supports, extending the latest iteration of the service for PCs and Macs to include NVIDIA's SHIELD TV consoles. From now on, all 225 games supported by the game streaming service will also run on the Android TV STB.

The gaming industry's wet dream: no physical media, no downloaded games - just streaming.

16 Jul 2018 6:43pm GMT

19 Oct 2016

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Who killed Cyanogen?

Well, it's hanging on in there, but why didn't it conquer the world?

Analysis Does European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager's team pay close attention to the tech news? If not, perhaps they should.…

19 Oct 2016 10:24am GMT

17 Oct 2016

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Bits of Google's dead Project Ara modular mobe live on in Linux 4.9

Linus Torvalds teaches devs a lesson with early rc1 release

Google may have killed off its modular smartphone Project Ara idea, but some of the code that would have made it happen looks like coming to the Linux Kernel.…

17 Oct 2016 6:58am GMT

BART barfs, racers crash, and other classic BSODs

Your weekly Windows entertainment large and small

This week's worldwide BSOD roundup starts with what looks to your writer like a virtualisation launch bug. Submitter Alexander tells us it came from Peterborough Station, in Cambridgeshire.…

17 Oct 2016 6:28am GMT

14 Oct 2016

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Apple’s macOS Sierra update really puts the fan into 'fanboi'

Look out! It's gonna blow!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? "Ooh, I'm so hot! And I'm getting even hotter for you, big boy!"

14 Oct 2016 9:07am GMT

13 Oct 2016

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VMS will be ready to run on x86 in 2019!

Or 2018 if you're brave. For now, we have a boot screen!

VMS Software Inc (VSI), which became the custodian of the venerable OpenVMS in 2014, is getting close to its Holy Grail of running the OS on x86.…

13 Oct 2016 4:03am GMT

12 Oct 2016

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Google sets the date for first sniff at Android 7.1

Holding back Assistant and apps drawer for Pixel

Developers can get their hands on Android 7.1 by the end of the month, Google has said.…

12 Oct 2016 12:06am GMT

11 Oct 2016

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Cyanogen mods self away from full Android alternative

Board shakeup and new 'buy our code McNuggets' plan follows lousy sales

Android alternative Cyanogen looks to have given up on trying to sell a full mobile operating system.…

11 Oct 2016 5:03am GMT

10 Oct 2016

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FreeBSD 11.0 lands, with security fixes to FreeBSD 11.0

Bootleggers, don't ignore the official version

If you were one of the sharp-eyed users who downloaded FreeBSD 11.0 from the project's FTP servers before official release, it's time to upgrade again. The release version has landed and it's not the same as the bootleg.…

10 Oct 2016 9:41pm GMT

07 Oct 2016

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Windows updates? Just trust us, says Microsoft executive

'Rather than you approving which patches you want, we are saying let them all flow'

Interview At Microsoft's recent Ignite event in Atlanta, The Reg sat down with Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of Enterprise Client and Mobility.…

07 Oct 2016 5:05pm GMT

06 Oct 2016

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Windows 10 market share fell in September

Not by much and we know mass enterprise adoption is still to come

Microsoft may have used its Ignite conference to trumpet Windows 10 now running on 400 million devices, but the operating system's market share went backwards in September according to two of three traffic-watchers we track each month.…

06 Oct 2016 6:02am GMT

05 Oct 2016

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Google melts 78 Android security holes, two of which were critical

Chinese hackers thanked for help finding flaws

Google has crushed 78 Android security flaws in its October bug blitzkrieg, repairing critical core Android services along the way.…

05 Oct 2016 3:58am GMT

Linus Torvalds admits 'buggy crap' made it into Linux 4.8

Devs have 'NO F*CKING EXCUSE to knowingly kill the kernel', says Linux lord

Linus Torvalds gave the world Linux 4.8 earlier this week, but now appears to wish he didn't after spotting some code he says can "kill the kernel."…

05 Oct 2016 2:27am GMT

04 Oct 2016

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Lenovo exec: Nope, not building Windows Phones

'Not convinced Microsoft is committed long term to the OS'

Canalys Channels Forum 2016 Lenovo will not build smartmobes running on Microsoft's Windows operating system because it doubts the software giant's long term commitment to the market.…

04 Oct 2016 9:32am GMT

03 Oct 2016

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Apple to automatically cram macOS Sierra into Macs – 'cos that worked well for Windows 10

And they say Microsoft never innovates anything…

Apple is taking a page from Microsoft's Windows 10 playbook and will push out its latest macOS (ex-OS X) update as an automatic download.…

03 Oct 2016 9:09pm GMT

28 Sep 2016

feedThe Register - Software: Operating Systems

Our Windows windows will be resizable, soooon, vows Microsoft

Back to the '80s

Ignite Microsoft this week promised to increase desktop users' productivity by bringing resizeable overlapping windows to Windows™ - a feature notably missing today. A spokesman also expressed hope that Mr Gorbachev's new policy of "perestroika" would continue, bringing real benefits to Soviet citizens.…

28 Sep 2016 11:32am GMT

27 Sep 2016

feedThe Register - Software: Operating Systems

Official: Windows 10 has hit the 400 million device mark

Pro version accounts for growing share of business PC sales

Microsoft's self-installing Windows 10 operating system has reached the 400 million mark, the firm announced at its Ignite conference in Atlanta this week, up from the previous high of 350 million in August.…

27 Sep 2016 12:18pm GMT