Microsoft to sell mixed-reality headset and controllers for $399, undercutting Oculus

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Microsoft just added a pair of motion controllers to its recently announced mixed-reality headset, and the combo price of $399 beats a similar hardware pairing from Oculus Rift by $200.

Mixed reality, also known as augmented reality, layers holographic images over the real world. Many experts say that eventually this technology will lead to the next generation of computers that will do away with physical laptops and keyboards.

At Build, Cirque du Soleil executives came on stage to demonstrate how they’ll begin using HoloLens to create virtual stages that eliminate the need for building costly real stage prototypes.

Although mixed reality have proven to be a huge hit on smartphones — take last summer’s Pokemon Go craze — one of the biggest hurdles for both virtual and augmented reality remains price, as well as content.

Microsoft to sell mixed-reality headset and controllers for $399, undercutting Oculus

Tech Giants Team to Battle Terrorism Online

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Facebook has teamed up with Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft to fight the proliferation of terrorist content on the Web. The tech giants will create a shared industry database of hashes for violent terrorist imagery, terrorist recruitment videos, or images they have removed from their services.

They may use these shared hashes to help identify potential terrorist content on their platforms. Hashes to be shared will apply to content that’s most likely to violate all the companies’ content policies.

“Each one of the companies that is part of this agreement has its own specific definitions, practices and processes in place for governments to make requests to them for user data and to remove content,” YouTube explained in policy notes provided to TechNewsWorld by company rep Stephanie Shih. “Any such requests for information will be routed through each company to handle as they normally do per its individual policies and procedures.”

No personally identifiable information will be shared. There will be no automated takedowns of terrorism-related content. Each company will retain its own process for dealing with appeals against its removal of content.

The four will apply their own transparency and review practices when responding to any government requests.

Tech Giants Team to Battle Terrorism Online

Microsoft, Qualcomm Tuck Windows 10 Into ARM Devices

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Microsoft on Wednesday announced the compatibility of Windows 10 and native Windows apps with ARM-based processors, including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, which currently powers a large percentage of Android devices.

One of the highlights at this year’s Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) event in Shenzhen, China, the new partnership will make it possible for Windows applications, peripherals and enterprise solutions to run on new mobile, power efficient and always-connected cellular PCs.

Through the collaboration, the companies aim to encourage hardware partners to develop Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Window 10 devices that run x86 Win32 and universal Windows apps. In addition to Microsoft’s own productivity applications, such as Microsoft Office, they could include third-party programs such as Adobe Photoshop, as well as Windows games, which are developed by numerous companies.

The applications would be the same as those meant to run on a desktop or laptop, but they would be fully compatible with cellular PCs — meaning that mobile users no longer would have to sacrifice functionality or features.

Microsoft, Qualcomm Tuck Windows 10 Into ARM Devices

Microsoft and Intel’s Project Evo Ups the PC Game

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Microsoft and Intel on Wednesday announced Project Evo, their highly anticipated collaboration to create the next generation of personal computers. The project aims to expand on new advances in artificial intelligence, mixed reality, advanced security and gaming.

Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, unveiled some of Project Evo’s ambitious plans at the Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) event in Shenzhen, China.

Through the collaboration, the companies will push the boundaries of a personal computer’s capabilities in the near future, he said. Technologies under development include far-field speech and wake-on-voice enabled through Cortana, biometrics and voice authentication in Windows Hello, spacial audio, and HDR support for gaming.

Project Evo — particularly its expanded use of Cortana — invites comparisons to the digital assistant tools found in Amazon Echo and Google Home, standalone speakers that use Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant respectively. Though their capabilities differ, each uses voice communications to interact with the automated home.

However, Project Evo seems geared toward making the personal computer into a much more sophisticated device — one that can be accessed and operated in ways never before seen.

Microsoft and Intel’s Project Evo Ups the PC Game

2017: More Apple Security Flaws, Cyberattacks, Hacktivisim

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More security vulnerabilities will appear in the software of Adobe and Apple than in Microsoft’s, more attacks on the Internet’s infrastructure will occur, and cybersecurity events will stoke international tensions. Those are a few of the predictions for 2017 that security experts shared with TechNewsWorld.

Users of Apple desktops and laptops for years have been relatively insulated from the kinds of malicious activity that has besieged those in the Windows world, but that’s going to change next year, warned Trend Micro.

More software flaws will affect Adobe and Apple in 2017, compared to Microsoft, the company noted in a security predictions report.

Declining PC sales and an exodus to mobile platforms have dampened interest in targeting devices running Windows, Trend Micro explained. Microsoft also has upped its security game in recent times, which has made it more difficult for attackers to find vulnerabilities in Windows.

2017: More Apple Security Flaws, Cyberattacks, Hacktivisim

New Office 365 Features Help Build a Better Research Paper

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Microsoft on Tuesday announced a slew of cloud-powered intelligent services in Office 365 apps that aim to assist research and writing efforts.

Researcher lets users access the Bing Knowledge Graph to find and incorporate sources and content for research papers without leaving Word.

Editor uses machine learning and national language processing, combined with input from Microsoft’s linguists, to make proofing and editing suggestions designed to help users improve their writing.

These updates will be rolling out to Office 365 within the coming months, a Microsoft spokesperson said in comments provided to TechNewsWorld by company rep Lenette Larson.

Researcher will be available this month for Word 2016 users. Editor will arrive in August, with expanded capabilities scheduled to roll out this fall.

Microsoft’s plans include expanding Researcher to mobile platforms.

New Office 365 Features Help Build a Better Research Paper

You Can Only Disable Defender In Windows 10 Home By Installing Another Antivirus

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Windows Defender isn’t the best antivirus software (even Microsoft admits its first-party solutions aren’t ideal), but it’s enabled by default on Windows 10 Home. In fact, the only way to disable it is to install something else.

In a strange turn of events, Microsoft has made its Windows Defender feature a permanent fixture of Windows 10. You can temporarily disable it, as you see in the screenshot above, but you can’t turn it off permanently. If it stays off for too long, Windows will turn it back on.

The one caveat to this rule, as pointed out by tips site MakeUseOf, is to install third-party antivirus software.

You Can Only Disable Defender In Windows 10 Home By Installing Another Antivirus

Microsoft Tightens Screws on Terrorists Posting Online

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Microsoft last week announced plans to crack down on terrorist content, perhaps in response to the Obama administration’s intense effort to get Silicon Valley’s help in preventing organizations like ISIS from using social media as a recruiting and fundraising tool.

Microsoft has amended its terms of use to prohibit the posting of terrorist content on its various platforms, extending the existing prohibition on hate speech and advocacy of violence against others. The company categorized terrorist content as material posted by or in support of any organizations in the Consolidated United National Security Council Sanctions list, which includes groups the UN Security Council considers terrorist organizations.

The prohibition specifically deals with content that depicts graphic violence, encourages violent action, endorses a terrorist group or its acts, or encourages people to join such groups, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft Tightens Screws on Terrorists Posting Online

Microsoft Curbs Cortana in Windows 10

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Microsoft on Thursday announced that it was restricting its Cortana digital assistant to operating with the Edge browser and Bing search engine in Windows 10.

“As Windows 10 has grown in adoption and usage, we have seen some software programs circumvent [its] design and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana,” said Ryan Gavin, Microsoft’s general manager of search and Cortana.

“The result is a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable,” he added. “The continuity of these types of task completion scenarios is disrupted if Cortana can’t depend on Bing as the search provider and Microsoft Edge as the browser.”

Cortana, Edge and Bing are integrated to provide a better search experience, Gavin explained.

Microsoft Curbs Cortana in Windows 10