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Cortana Coming To iOS, For 2000 Beta Testers ( 39

TechCrunch, InformationWeek, PC World, and other sources report that Microsoft's voice-recognition based personal assistant app Cortana is coming to iOS for a small group of beta testers. From TechCrunch: According to the description that accompanies the test build of Cortana for iOS, Microsoft explains how the assistant can help Windows users with iPhones connect the two platforms. For example, Microsoft suggests how you can set reminders on your PC – like a reminder to pick up milk on the way home – then be notified via your iPhone when you’re on the road. ... Testers report that the beta build is being distributed by Apple’s TestFlight. As one blogger and earlier tester points out that could mean only a small number of testers will be brought on initially, given TestFlight’s limitation of 2,000 testers per application. That may also explain why a good many who signed up for Cortana’s beta are saying that have still yet to receive their invite at this time. (A staged rollout is another possibility.)

Ask Slashdot: Buy Or Build a High End Gaming PC? 321

An anonymous reader writes: Looking at some Black Friday ads, I'm seeing some good deals on Alienware and other gaming rigs that would be cheaper than building them from scratch. If you built or were to build a high end gaming rig, what would you suggest? Or would you just get a prebuilt system and customize it to your needs? I'm not looking for cheap, I want best quality and performance, but not overkill that would rival supercomputers and at the same time break my bank account. It would be a Windows system to keep my family happy, but possibly dual boot with Linux to keep me happy. It will be located in the livingroom hooked up to a regular monitor and the big screen TV, replacing a budget PC that's in there now.

Hacker Cracks Lumia Bootloader, Offers Tool For Root Access and Custom ROMs ( 71

MojoKid writes: Microsoft and Nokia have worked hard making Lumia smartphones difficult to break into at a low-level, but software hacker Heathcliff has just proven that it's not impossible. He's just released a solid-looking tool called Windows Phone Internals, and it can do everything from unlocking the bootloader to replacing the phone's ROM. WP Internals is a completely free download, though Heathcliff welcomes donations by those who've found the tool useful. According to the "Getting Started" section of the tool, supported models include Lumia 520, 521, 525, 620, 625, 720, 820, 920, 925, 928, 1020, and 1320. If your model is not on the list, the developer has said that he hopes to add more models in the near future.

AMD's Crimson Radeon Driver For Linux Barely Changes Anything ( 94

An anonymous reader writes: AMD Windows customers were greeted this week to the new "Crimson" Radeon Software that brought many bug fixes, performance improvements, and brand new control panel. While AMD also released this Crimson driver for Linux, it really doesn't change much. The control panel is unchanged except for replacing "Catalyst" strings with "Radeon" and there's been no performance changes but just some isolated slowdowns. The Crimson Linux release notes only mention two changes: a fix for glxgears stuttering and mouse cursor corruption.

Windows 10 Fall Update Uninstalls Desktop Software Without Informing Users ( 360

ourlovecanlastforeve sends this report from Martin Brinkmann of gHacks: Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system may uninstall programs — desktop programs that is — from the computer after installation of the big Fall update that the company released earlier this month. I noticed the issue on one PC that I upgraded to Windows 10 Version 1511 but not on other machines. The affected PC had Speccy, a hardware information program, installed and Windows 10 notified me after the upgrade that the software had been removed from the system because of incompatibilities. There was no indication beforehand that something like this would happen, and what made this rather puzzling was the fact that a newly downloaded copy of Speccy would install and run fine on the upgraded system. An IT Director I know had this happen with ESET antivirus as well, on multiple computers. He says fixes have been rolled out for both TH2 and the antivirus software to prevent this from happening. Other reports mention CPU-Z, AMD's Catalyst Control Center, and CPUID as software that's being automatically uninstalled.

Microsoft Pulls Windows 10 November Update (1511) ISOs ( 195

AmiMoJo writes: When Microsoft released Windows 10 version 1511 earlier this month, the company also updated the installer files it delivers via a free, downloadable media creation tool (MCT). That upgrade option worked as advertised for more than a week. This weekend, however, the new files have been pulled and the media creation tool available for download from that page instead installs the July 2015 (build 10240) release. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed they wish people install the older version and get the 1551 update via Windows Update. The more recent release is still available via an unpublished link (EXE download).
XBox (Games)

Ask Slashdot: Xbox One Or PlayStation 4? 375

An anonymous reader writes: I'm looking at getting the kids a new gaming console for Christmas this year. I'm stuck trying to decide between getting an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4. I'm really wary on the PlayStation because of the 5 PS2s with broken optical drives sitting in my garage; none lasted more than two years. On the other hand, I'm also wary of buying a Microsoft product; I'm a Linux user for life after getting tired of their crappy operating system. I've also considered getting a gaming PC, whether Linux or Windows, but it's more expensive and game reviews show most are not as good as a dedicated game console. The kids want Fallout 4, and I want Star Wars Battlefront and any version of Gran Turismo. We currently have a Nintendo Wii and a crappy gaming PC with some Steam games. So, which gaming console should I get that will last a long time?

Happy 30th Birthday, Windows! 249

v3rgEz writes: And what a ride it's been. Today marks the 30th anniversary since the debut of Windows 1.01, the first commercial release of Windows. At the time, it was derided as being slow, buggy, and clunky, but since then ... Well, it looks a lot better. .The Verge has a pictorial history of Windows through the years. What's your fondest memory of Bill Gates Blue Screen-of-death that could?
The Almighty Buck

Exploit Vendor Publishes Prices For Zero-Day Vulnerabilities 21

An anonymous reader writes: An exploit vendor published a price list for the zero-day bugs it's willing to buy. The highest paid bugs are for remote jailbreaks for iOS. Second is Android and Windows Phone. Third there are remote code execution bugs for Chrome, Flash, and Adobe's PDF Reader. This is the same company that just paid $1 million to a hacker for the first iOS9 jailbreak.

Microsoft Invests $1 Billion In 'Holistic' Security Strategy ( 80

ancientribe writes: Microsoft has invested $1 billion over the past year in security and doubled its number of security executives, according to company's CISO Bret Arsenault. In an address today (webcast), CEO Satya Nadella officially announced the launch of a new managed security services group and a new cyber defense operations center — all part of its new strategy of holistic and integrated security across its products and services. Microsoft execs rarely detail the company's strategy so publicly, so that in itself underlines how security is a major element in its strategy.

Microsoft's Plan To Port Android Apps To Windows Proves Too Complex ( 131

An anonymous reader writes: The Astoria project at Microsoft has failed because a breakthrough was needed to overcome the complexity of the software development challenge. Microsoft tried to automate mapping the Android UI into the Windows 10 UI and to map Google services within the app such as maps, payments and notifications into Microsoft equivalents. Automated conversion of a UI from one platform to another has never been successfully demonstrated. When I first saw Microsoft's Android bridge at Build 15, I thought it was achievable. But project Astoria, as it is called, is much too complex. Drawing on my architectural knowledge of the underlying Microsoft/Lumia hardware that is very similar to Android phones.I concluded that in the context of partitioning the device or running a VM Microsoft would succeed. But Microsoft tried something much more ambitious. Rather than "failed," The Next Web reports that for now the project may have only been delayed.

Microsoft Brings Its Embrace-Extend-Extinguish Game To K-12 Schools? 168

theodp writes: A year after it paid $2.5 billion to buy Minecraft, Microsoft has announced a partnership with that makes a Minecraft-themed introduction to programming a signature tutorial of this year's Hour of Code, which hopes to reach 200 million schoolchildren next month in what the Microsoft-funded nonprofit is billing as the largest learning event in history. "A core part of our mission to empower every person on the planet is equipping youth with computational thinking and problem-solving skills to succeed in an increasingly digital world," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a press release, which also notes that "Microsoft is gifting Windows Store credit to every educator who organizes an Hour of Code event worldwide." Of the Minecraft tutorial, CEO Hadi Partovi gushed, "Compared to what you would otherwise be doing for school, this is, like, the best thing ever."
Christmas Cheer

'Twas the Week Before the Week of Black Friday 146

theodp writes: It's almost time for America's answer to the Running of the Bulls (YouTube), kids. So, if you're dreaming of a cheap tech Christmas, it's time to peruse the 2015 Black Friday ads and make your game plan. Get lucky at Best Buy this year, and you could score a $299.99 Dell 15.6" touchscreen laptop (i3, 8GB memory, 1 TB HD), a $399.99 Microsoft 10.8" Surface 3 (Atom x7, 2GB memory, 64GB storage), $899.99 MacBook Pro 13.3" laptop (i5, 4GB memory, 500MB HD), $99 Acer 11.6" Chromebook (Celeron, 2GB memory, 16GB storage), or, for those on a tight budget, a $34.99 7" Amazon Fire tablet. Fight the crowds at Walmart, and you could snag a $199 HP 15.6" laptop (Celeron, 4GB memory, 500GB drive) or $199 iPad mini 2. And for stay-at-home shoppers, Dell's Windows 10 price-breakers include a $149.99 14" laptop (Celeron, 2GB memory, 32GB storage) and a $229 15.6" laptop (i3, 4GB memory, 500MB HD). So, in your experience, has Black Friday been like a claw machine — suckering you with big prizes, but never delivering — or have you actually walked away with a great deal?

Microsoft Rolls Out Major Fall Update To Windows 10 ( 181

Ammalgam writes: Microsoft has rolled out a major update to Windows 10 called the Fall Update, November Update or Threshold 2. The update is now publicly available for everyone to download. Microsoft has confirmed it will be a staggered release. This update is full of fixes and refinements to Windows 10 including substantial changes to Edge, Cortana, icons, the Start Menu, Activation and multiple enterprise features. Here is a full list of changes. Have you updated your Windows 10 install yet? What was your experience?

Hour of Code 2015 Star Wars Tutorial: Spare the IF Statement, Spoil the Child? 156

theodp writes: Teaching U.S. K-12 kids their programming fundamentals in past Hours of Code were an IF-fy Bill Gates and a LOOP-y Mark Zuckerberg. Interestingly, the new signature tutorial — Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code — created by Lucasfilm and ("in a locked room with no windows") for this December's Hour of Code, eschews both IF statements and loops. The new learn-to-code tutorial instead elects to show students "events" after they've gone through the usual move-up-down-left-right drills. With the NY Times and National Center for Women & Information Technology recently warning against putting Star Wars in the CS classroom ("Attracting more female high school students to computer science classes might be as easy as tossing out the Star Wars posters," claimed an Aug. 29th NCWIT Facebook post), the theme of the new tutorial seems an odd choice for, whose stated mission includes "increasing [CS] participation by women." But if Star Wars is, as some suggest, more aimed at boys, perhaps has something up its sleeve for girls (a la last year's Disney Princesses) with another as yet unannounced signature tutorial that it teased would be "just as HUGE" as the Star Wars one. Any guesses on what that might be?
Operating Systems

SteamOS Gaming Performance Lags Well Behind Windows ( 184

New submitter NotDrWho writes: As reported by Ars Technica: "With this week's official launch of Valve's Linux-based Steam Machine line (for non-pre-orders), we decided to see if the new OS could stand up to the established Windows standard when running games on the same hardware. Unfortunately for open source gaming supporters, it looks like SteamOS gaming comes with a significant performance hit on a number of benchmarks." They tested with two graphically intensive titles from 2014, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Metro: Last Light Redux. They say, "we got anywhere from 21- to 58-percent fewer frames per second, depending on the graphical settings. On our hardware running Shadow of Mordor at Ultra settings and HD resolution, the OS change alone was the difference between a playable 34.5 fps average on Windows and a stuttering 14.6 fps mess on SteamOS." Even most of Valve's own games took big performance hits when running under SteamOS.

Self-Encrypting Drives Hardly Any Better Than Software-Based Encryption ( 73

itwbennett writes: The main security benefit of Self-Encrypting Drives (SEDs) is that the encryption key is not stored in the OS memory, but on the disk itself, which makes it less exposed to theft. However, some attacks that work against software-based encryption products also affect SEDs, including evil maid attacks and those that bypass Windows authentication. Once a SED is unlocked, it remains in that state until the power to it is cycled or a deauthentication command is sent. When the laptop is put in sleep mode the drive state is locked, but when it resumes from sleep, the pre-boot management software, which is already loaded in memory, unlocks the drive. [A team of] researchers devised three attacks to take advantage of this situation.

Windows 3.1 Glitch Causes Problems At French Airport -- Wait, 3.1? ( 406

OakDragon writes: Microsoft has tamped down the earth on XP's grave, steered Internet Explorer toward the nursing home, and is trying to convince everyone Windows 10 is a bright up-and-comer. But in the Paris airport of Orly, a system called DECOR — which helps air traffic controllers relay weather information to pilots — is running on Windows 3.1. That program suffered a glitch recently that grounded planes for some time. The airport actually runs on a variety of old systems, including Windows XP and UNIX. Maintenance is a problem. There are only three people in Paris that work on DECOR issues, and one of them is retiring soon. Hardware is also an issue. "Sometimes we have to go rummaging on eBay to replace certain parts," said Fiacre. "In any case, these machines were not designed to keep working for more than 20 years."

Ask Slashdot: What's Out There For Poor Vision? 197

hackwrench writes: I like to read on my computer, but when I resize text to be comfortably big, web pages and browsers handle it badly, and some applications don't offer an option to enlarge. Some applications even are bigger than the screen, which Windows doesn't handle well. Lastly, applications consist of bright backgrounds which feels like staring into a headlight. Windows' built in options like magnifier are awkward. What tools are there for Windows to increase text size, make things fit inside the screen, and substitute colors that windows use?