curtwoodward writes "Driverless cars. Balloon-based wireless networks. Face-mounted computers. Gigabit broadband networks. In recent months, Google has been unveiling a series of transformative side projects that paint a picture of the search pioneer expanding far beyond an online advertising company. At the same time, Google has been trying to convince enterprise software buyers that it's finally, really, truly serious about competing with Microsoft for their business. Which version of Google's future should you believe?"
Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system
onyxruby writes "In a move that will remind many of Apple in the '80s, Microsoft is going to start dumping Surface RT computers to educational institutions. In an effort to try to gain mindshare for their struggling Surface RT platform, Microsoft is giving away 10,000 Surface RTs to teachers through the International Society for Technology in Education. They're also preparing to offer $199 Surface RTs to K12 and higher education institutions. The strategy of flooding the educational market was quite successful for Apple. Unfortunately for Microsoft, today's computers require management and the Surface RT presents significant management challenges in terms of the inability to join the computer to a domain or available management tools."
An anonymous reader writes "Not to be left out Apple has released details about government requests for customer data. The company said it received between 4,000-5,000 government requests, affecting as many as 10,000 accounts or devices. From the article: 'The iPad maker said that it received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement agencies for customer data from December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013, and that 9,000 to 10,000 accounts or devices were specified in the requests. Apple did not state how many of the requests were from the National Security Agency or how many affected accounts or devices may have been tied to any NSA requests.' Facebook and Microsoft released their numbers this weekend."
Loadmaster writes "The new Oddworld game New 'n' Tasty is coming to every platform in the current generation and even the next generation but not the Xbox One. It's not that developer Oddworld Inhabitants isn't porting the game. It's not that they hate Microsoft or the Xbox One. No, it's that Microsoft has taken an anti-indie dev stance with the Xbox One. While the game industry is moving to Kickstarter and self-funded shops, Microsoft has decided all developers must have a publisher to grace their console."
McGruber writes "The NY Times has the news that federal judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who ruled in 2000 that Microsoft was a predatory monopoly and must be split in half, has died. He was 76 years old. 'A technological novice who wrote his opinions in longhand and used his computer mainly to e-mail jokes, Judge Jackson refuted Microsoft's assertion that it was impossible to remove the company's Internet Explorer Web browser from its operating system by doing it himself. When a Microsoft lawyer complained that too many excerpts from Bill Gates's videotaped deposition — liberally punctuated with the phrase "I don't remember" — were shown in the courtroom, Judge Jackson said, "I think the problem is with your witness, not the way his testimony is being presented."'"
symbolset writes "In the wake of a disastrous E3 product reveal Microsoft has purportedly distributed a confidential internal 100-point 'FAQ' for the Xbox One that reads like it's from the Ministry of Truth. It was of course immediately leaked on pastebin. Kotaku has the story and an amusing online poll. In the discussion below make sure to line up the FAQ entries with the AC comments for extra 'Informative' moderation."
wiredmikey writes "Facebook and Microsoft say they received thousands of requests for information from U.S. authorities last year but are prohibited from listing a separate tally for security-related requests or secret court orders related to terror probes. The two companies have come under heightened scrutiny since reports leaked of a vast secret Internet surveillance program U.S. authorities insist targets only foreign terror suspects and is needed to prevent attacks. Facebook said Friday it had received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests for user data affecting 18,000 to 19,000 accounts during the second half of last year and Microsoft said it had received 6,000 to 7,000 requests affecting 31,000 to 32,000 accounts during the same period." Meanwhile, an article at the Guardian is suggesting the government may have better targets to pursue than Edward Snowden. "[U.S. director of national intelligence James Clapper] has come out vocally to condemn Snowden as a traitor to the public interest and the country, yet a review of Booz Allen's own history suggests that the government should be investigating his former employer, rather than the whistleblower."
mpol writes "We're all aware of PRISM and the NSA deals with software houses. Just today it was in the news that even Microsoft gives zero-day exploits to the NSA, who use them to prepare themselves, but also use the exploits to break into other systems. At my company we use Git with some private repositories. It's easy to draw the conclusion that git-hosting in the cloud, like Github or Bitbucket, will lead to sharing the sourcecode with the NSA. Self-hosting our Git repositories seems like a good and safe idea then. The question then becomes which software to use. It should be Open Source and under a Free License, that's for sure. Software like GitLab and GNU Savane seem good candidates. What other options are there, and how do they stack up against each other? What experience do people have with them?"
An anonymous reader writes "After years of rumors and months of bickering with Apple over revenue splits, Microsoft has finally released an official iOS app for Office 365 subscribers, allowing people to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint on their iPhones and iPads. According to a hands-on report with the software, the Office app has basic functionality, but is missing some key productivity features. 'These include: font options, text alignment, bulleted lists and, again, more color choices, all of which you can find in, say, the Google Drive app.' They say it's a fairly useful addition for current subscribers, but certainly not enough to make it worth the Office 365 subscription fee on its own. 'We can't tell if Microsoft deliberately handicapped Office Mobile for iPhone, or if it's simply saving some features for a later update. (A company rep declined to comment on what we can expect from future versions.) We're willing to believe Microsoft still has some unfinished items on its to-do list, but even so, it's a shame that iPhone users waited this long for an Office app, only to get something with such a minimal feature set. All told, Office Mobile represents a good enough start for Microsoft, and in some ways it's better than Google Drive, particularly where spreadsheets are concerned. Still, it's miles behind other office apps for iOS, including Apple iWork.'"
UnknowingFool writes "Best Buy and Microsoft will launch 600 Microsoft stores within Best Buy retail locations in a store-within-a-store concept. The Microsoft stores will occupy 1500-2000 sq ft within each location. The terms of the deal are not announced, but I assume it benefits both as Best Buy would likely charge rent to help with declining revenue. For Microsoft, they may get cheaper facilities than building their own stores. The last I heard, MS had a very ambitious plan to launch hundreds of stores a year. I have doubts about the success of this venture, considering anecdotally almost every MS store I've seen in my travels was nearly empty. Since they all were located near Apple stores, the stark difference in foot traffic was apparent. The only exception was the MS store near Redmond, which had a decent crowd."
Nerval's Lobster writes "If those newspaper reports are accurate, the NSA's surveillance programs are enormous and sophisticated, and rely on the latest in analytics software. In the face of that, is there any way to keep your communications truly private? Or should you resign yourself to saying or typing, 'Hi, NSA!' every time you make a phone call or send an email? Fortunately there are ways to gain a measure of security: HTTPS, Tor, SCP, SFTP, and the vendors who build software on top of those protocols. But those host-proof solutions offer security in exchange for some measure of inconvenience. If you lose your access credentials, you're likely toast: few highly secure services include a 'Forgot Your Password?' link, which can be easily engineered to reset a password and username without the account owner's knowledge. And while 'big' providers like Google provide some degree of encryption, they may give up user data in response to a court order. Also, all the privacy software in the world also can't prevent the NSA (or other entities) from capturing metadata and other information. What do you think is the best way to keep your data locked down? Or do you think it's all a lost cause?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "In an open letter addressed to U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller, Google chief legal officer David Drummond again insisted that reports of his company freely offering user data to the NSA and other agencies were untrue. 'However,' he wrote, 'government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation.' In light of that, Drummond had a request of the two men: 'We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures—in terms of both the number we receive and their scope.' Apparently Google's numbers would show 'that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made.' Google, Drummond added, 'has nothing to hide.'" Another open letter was sent to Congress from a variety of internet companies and civil liberties groups (headlined by Mozilla, the EFF, the ACLU, and the FSF), asking them to enact legislation to prohibit the kind of surveillance apparently going on at the NSA and to hold accountable the people who implemented it. (A bipartisan group of senators has just come forth with legislation that would end such surveillance.) In addition to the letter, the ACLU sent a lawsuit as well, directed at President Obama, Eric Holder, the NSA, Verizon and the Dept. of Justice (filing, PDF). They've also asked (PDF) for a release of court records relevant to the scandal. Mozilla has also launched Stopwatching.us, a campaign to "demand a full accounting of the extent to which our online data, communications and interactions are being monitored." Other reactions: Tim Berners-Lee is against it, Australia's Foreign Minister doesn't mind it, the European Parliament has denounced it, and John Oliver is hilarious about it (video). Meanwhile, Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked the information about the NSA's surveillance program, is being praised widely as a hero and a patriot. There's already a petition on Whitehouse.gov to pardon him for his involvement, and it's already reached half the required number of signatures for a response from the Obama administration.
dcblogs writes "Hewlett-Packard executives say that the coming demise of Windows XP next year may do what Windows 8 could not, and that's boost PC sales significantly. 'We think this will bring a big opportunity for HP,' said Enrique Lore, senior vice president and general manager of HP's business PCs. Lore was asked, in a later interview, whether the demand for XP replacement systems could help sales more than Windows 8. His response was unequivocal: 'Yes, significantly more, especially on the commercial side,' he said. Lore said 40% to 50% of business users remain on XP systems."
Tackhead writes "E3 is turning into Bizarro World this year. Sony has not only promised that the PS4 will support used games without an online connection, they trolled the Xbox folks hard with this Official PlayStation Used Game Instructional Video. Compounding the silliness, and hot on the heels of the political firestorm surrounding Donglegate, Microsoft went for rape jokes during their Xbox presentation." Similarly, onyxruby writes "The Verge covers how Sony has crafted policies explicitly to make the PS4 consumer friendly to the public. They make the case that the PS4 will be superior in nearly every way [to the Xbox Next] by not requiring an Internet connection, not restricting used games, supporting indie developers and selling for $100 cheaper than the Xbox One." And if you're interested in the guts rather than the policies or the politics, Hot Hardware has a comparison of the internals of both of these new offerings.
judgecorp writes "Microsoft has sponsored research that indicates that its Internet Explorer browser uses less power than the competition, Firefox and Google (there's no explanation of what causes the difference). However, the difference in power use is not really significant — it's about one Watt when browsing. Browsing for 20 hours at this rate, the IE user would save enough power to make a cup of tea, compared with Firefox and Chrome users. That Microsoft commissioned and published the report seems to indicate a certain desperation to Microsoft's IE marketing efforts."
Bruce66423 writes "The government minister in charge of GCHQ, the UK's equivalent of the NSA, has used those immortal words, 'Only terrorists, criminals and spies should fear secret activities of the British and US intelligence agencies.' From the article: '...In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Hague refused to say whether the British government knew of the existence of Prism before it emerged last week. “I can’t confirm or deny in public what Britain knows about and what Britain doesn’t, for obvious reasons,” he said. However, he implied that the revelations had not taken him by surprise.'" While many are concerned about the reach of PRISM overseas, the Finnish Foreign Minister says he plans to continue using Outlook for email.
An anonymous reader writes "Privacy and surveillance have taken centre stage this week with the revelations that U.S. agencies have been engaged in massive, secret surveillance programs that include years of capturing the meta-data from every cellphone call on the Verizon network (the meta-data includes the number called and the length of the call) as well as gathering information from the largest Internet companies in the world including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple in a program called PRISM. Michael Geist explains how many of the same powers exist under Canadian law and that it is very likely that Canadians have been caught up by these surveillance activities."
Nerval's Lobster writes "James R. Clapper, the nation's Director of National Intelligence, claimed that recent reports about the NSA monitoring Americans' Internet and phone communications are inaccurate. 'The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,' he wrote in a June 6 statement. 'They contain numerous inaccuracies.' While the statement didn't detail the supposed inaccuracies, it explained why the monitoring described in those articles would, at least in theory, violate the law. 'Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States,' it read. 'It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.' Those newspaper articles describe an NSA project codenamed Prism, which allegedly taps into the internal databases of nine major technology companies: Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple. Both publications drew their information from an internal PowerPoint presentation used to train intelligence operatives. Speaking to Slashdot, Google, Microsoft and Facebook all again denied knowledge of Prism; the Google spokesperson suggested he didn't 'have any insight' into why Google would have appeared in the NSA's alleged PowerPoint presentation. But many, many questions remain."
Following the confusion surrounding Microsoft's announcement of the Xbox One, the company has now clarified many of the hot-button issues in a set of posts on their official site. First, they confirmed that the console will need to phone home in order to continue playing games. On your primary console, you'd need to connect to the internet and check in once every 24 hours. They also announced that you'll be able to access and play any of your games by logging in on somebody else's console, but the internet connection will be required every hour to keep playing that way. Other media don't require the connection. Microsoft also explained how game licensing will work. On the upside, anyone using your console will be able to play your games, and you can share your games with up to 10 members of your family for free. The downside is the news about used games; Microsoft says they've "designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers." The key word there is can, which implies that you can't without the publisher's express permission. Finally, the company made a set of statements about how Kinect's audio and video sensors will collect and share your data. "When Xbox One is on and you're simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded." They also say data gathered during normal use won't leave the console without your explicit permission.