An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft announced yesterday their plans to encrypt customer data to prevent government snooping. Free Software Foundation executive director John Sullivan questions the logic of trusting non-free software, regardless of promises or even intent. He says, 'Microsoft has made renewed security promises before. In the end, these promises are meaningless. Proprietary software like Windows is fundamentally insecure not because of Microsoft's privacy policies but because its code is hidden from the very users whose interests it is supposed to secure. A lock on your own house to which you do not have the master key is not a security system, it is a jail. ... If the NSA revelations have taught us anything, it is that journalists, governments, schools, advocacy organizations, companies, and individuals, must be using operating systems whose code can be reviewed and modified without Microsoft or any other third party's blessing. When we don't have that, back doors and privacy violations are inevitable.'"
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Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft will encrypt consumer data and make its software code more transparent, in a bid to boost consumer confidence in its security. Microsoft claims that it will now encrypt data flowing through Outlook.com, Office 365, SkyDrive, and Windows Azure. That will include data moving between customers' devices and Microsoft servers, as well as data moving between Microsoft data-centers. The increased-transparency part of Microsoft's new initiative is perhaps the most interesting, considering the company's longstanding advocacy of proprietary software. But Microsoft actually isn't planning on throwing its code open for anyone to examine, as much as that might quell fears about government-designed backdoors and other nefarious programming. Instead, according to its general counsel Brad Smith, "transparency" means "building on our long-standing program that provides government customers with an appropriate ability to review our source code, reassure themselves of its integrity, and confirm there are no back doors." In addition, Microsoft plans on opening a network of "transparency centers" where customers can go to "assure themselves of the integrity of Microsoft's products." That's not exactly the equivalent of volunteers going through TrueCrypt to ensure a lack of NSA backdoors, and it seems questionable whether such moves (vague as they are at this point) on Microsoft's part will assure anyone that it hasn't been compromised by government sources. But with Google and other tech firms making a lot of noise about encrypting their respective services, Microsoft has little choice but to join them in introducing new privacy initiatives."
tdog17 writes "China says it wants Microsoft to extend support for Windows XP because that will help in its fight to stop proliferation of pirated Microsoft software. A state copyright official says the release of Windows 8 means a substantial increase in the selling price of a Windows operating system, especially in light of the upcoming end-of-life of Windows XP, which is still used by a large percentage of Chinese. That could drive users to buy pirated copies of a new operating system because they are cheaper, he says."
An anonymous reader writes "I work at a manufacturing company. We have roughly 150 employees, 130 desktops, 8 physical servers, 20 virtual servers + a commercial SAN. We're a Windows shop with Exchange 2013. That's the first part. The second part is we have an ERP system that controls every aspect of our business processes. It has over 100 customizations (VB, but transitioning over to C#). We also have 20 or so custom-made support applications that integrate with the ERP to provide a more streamlined interface to the factory workers in some cases, and in other cases to provide a functionality that is not present in the ERP at all. Our IT department consists of: 1 Network Administrator (me), 4 Programmers (one of which is also the IT Manager). I finally convinced our immediate boss that we need another network support person to back me up (but he must now convince the CEO who thinks we have a large IT department already). I would like them to also hire dedicated help desk people. As it stands, we all share help desk duties, but that leads to projects being seriously delayed or put on hold while we work on more mundane problems. It also leads to a good amount of stress, as I can't really create the solid infrastructure I want us to have, and the developers are always getting pressure from other departments for projects they don't have the manpower to even start. I'm not really sure how to convince them we need more people. I need something rather concrete, but there are widely varying ratios of IT/user ratios in different companies, and I'm sure their research turned up with some generic rule of thumb that leads them to believe we have too many already. What can we do?"
symbolset writes "Zach Whittaker over at ZDNet covers an IDC report. In it the 2013 9.7% forecast decline in PC shipments is advanced to 10.1%. Further, IDC's longer-term forecast turns quite grim: contracting 23% from 2012 levels by 2017. There is also a projection of future Windows tablet sales, and a statement that total Windows tablet sales for 2013 are expected to be 'less than 7.5 million units.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Intel's open-source Linux graphics driver is now running neck-and-neck with the Windows 8.1 driver for OpenGL performance between the competing platforms when using the latest drivers for each platform. The NVIDIA driver has long been able to run at similar speeds between Windows and Linux given the common code-base, but the Intel Linux driver is completely separate from their Windows driver due to being open-source and complying with the Linux DRM and Mesa infrastructure. The Intel Linux driver is still trailing the Windows OpenGL driver in supporting OpenGL4."
CowboyRobot writes "The incentives are high for many businesses and government agencies to not be too heavy handed in combating the global botnet pandemic. There's money to be had and, with each passing day, more interesting ways are being uncovered in how to package the data, and how to employ it. It used to be that the worlds of bug hunters and malware analysts were separate and far between. In the last couple of years the ability to analyze malware samples and identify exploitable vulnerabilities in them has become very important. Given that some botnets have a bigger pool of victims than many commercial software vendors have licensed customers, the value of an exploit that grants reliable remote control of a popular malware agent is rising in value. In many ways, botnets have become a golden goose to those charged with gathering intelligence on the populations of foreign entities. The bulk of the victim's data is useful for mapping populations, communication profiles, and as egress points for counter intelligence exercises. Then, given how many botnet victims there are, the probability that a few 'interesting' computers will have succumbed along the way is similarly high — providing direct insight in to a pool of high value targets."
wiredmikey writes "A new Windows kernel zero-day vulnerability is being exploited in targeted attacks against Windows XP users. Microsoft confirmed the issue and published a security advisory to acknowledge the flaw after anti-malware vendor FireEye warned that the Windows bug is being used in conjunction with an Adobe Reader exploit to infect Windows machines with malware. Microsoft described the issue as an elevation of privilege vulnerability that allows an attacker to run arbitrary code in kernel mode. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full administrative rights."
mrspoonsi writes "A team of ex-Nokia employees has released the first handset running on a new smartphone platform. The Jolla phone — pronounced Yol-la — is powered by open-source operating system Sailfish, but can run most apps designed for Google's Android platform. The platform — originally called MeeGo — was developed by Nokia, but dumped in 2011 in favour of the company adopting the Windows Phone system. Nokia released just one handset running the software, the N9-00. Antti Saarnio, chairman and co-founder of Jolla, told the BBC in May that MeeGo — now called Sailfish — had not been given enough chance to succeed."
onyxruby writes "Microsoft may finally be ready to put Windows RT out to pasture. After ignoring pundits, the public, and a staggering $900 writedown, the subsequent lack of sales for the second edition of the RT have finally gotten the message through. Speaking at a UBS seminar, Microsoft VP Julie Larson-Green said, 'It just didn't do everything that you expected Windows to do. So there's been a lot of talk about it should have been a rebranding. We should not have called it Windows (.DOCX). How should we have made it more differentiated? I think over time you'll see us continue to differentiate it more. We have the Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and we have full Windows. We're not going to have three.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "In a previous posting, developer and programmer Jeff Cogswell compared a few C++ compilers on Linux. Now he's going to perform a similar set of tests for Windows. "Like all things Windows, it can get costly doing C++ development in this environment," he writes. "However, there are a couple notable exceptions" such as free and open-source cygwin, mingW, Express Versions of Visual Studio, and Embacadero. He also matched up the Intel C++ Compiler, Microsoft C++ Compiler, and the Embarcadero C++ 6.70 Compiler. He found some interesting things — for example, Intel's compiler is pretty fast, but its annoying habit of occasionally "calling home" to check licensing information kept throwing off the rests. Read on to see how the compilers matched up in his testing."
First time accepted submitter gnosygnu writes "Want your own copy of English Wikipedia with images? Got 100 GB of disk space? Then open-source app XOWA may be of interest to you. The project released torrents yesterday for the 2013-11-04 version of English Wikipedia. There's 100 GB of sqlite databases containing 13.9 million pages, and 3.7 million images — readable from any Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X system. Image downloads for other wikis are building, but you can still use XOWA to read the text-only version for other wikis like Wiktionary, Wikisource, Wikiquote and 660 more. Next time you find yourself stranded without the internet, you can pull out your own copy of Wikipedia for use."
shutdown -p now writes "Coming from the team that had previously brought you Python Tools for Visual Studio, Microsoft has announced Node.js Tools for Visual Studio, with the release of the first public alpha. NTVS is the official extension for Visual Studio that adds support for Node.js, including editing with Intellisense, debugging, profiling, and the ability to deploy Node.js websites to Windows Azure. An overview video showcases the features, and Scott Hanselman has a detailed walkthrough. The project is open source under Apache License 2.0. While the extension is published by Microsoft, it is a collaborative effort involving Microsoft, Red Gate (which previously had a private beta version of similar product called Visual Node), and individual contributors from the Node.js community."
rjmarvin writes "A new surge of callers posing predominately as Microsoft technicians are attempting and sometimes succeeding in scamming customers, convincing them their PCs are infected and directing them to install malware-ridden software or give the callers remote access to the computer. The fraudsters also solicit payment for the fake services rendered. This comes only a year after the FTC cracked down on fake tech support calls, charging six scam operators last October."
cartechboy writes "Last year's Gallup poll showed that car salespeople are the least trusted professionals in America, ranking even below members of Congress. Enter, Carvana, an online dealership operating in Atlanta, Georgia. They allow customers to shop for cars online, secure loans online, and pay for cars online. Now they have gone one step farther and are claiming to remove the despised car salesperson from test drives and even post-purchase pickup by creating, yes, a giant auto vending machine. The facility, which will open at the end of November, will be a fully digital, 24-7 interactive 'vehicle-delivery center' designed to offer customers pick-up options after purchasing a vehicle online. They'll have floor-to-ceiling windows, custom LED lighting, flat screen TV's plus interactive keypads that identify customers based on unique buyer credentials. There will be three car pickup bays to allow for simultaneous pickups. One thing they won't have: car sales people (Note: there will be customer service reps there to answer questions). Carvana plans to expand on the idea, presumably if this Atlanta facility works."
SmartAboutThings writes "Chip maker AMD has announced that it's won 2 CES Innovation Awards for a gaming tablet the company plans to show off at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The device is called "Project Discovery" and will come with AMD's Mullins chip that is a 64-bit, x86-based chip, perfectly suitable for Windows 8.1. The low-power Mullins APU (accelerated processing unit) is AMD's answer to Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm, aimed at fanless tablets, ultrathin notebooks, and 2-in-1 devices. The 28nm processor is expected to consume as little as 2 watts of energy while in use. The obtained images show that the upcoming AMD tablet is quite similar to Razer Edge."
An anonymous reader writes "TechRepublic has the story behind Munich City Council's decision to ditch Microsoft Windows and Office in favor of open source software. The project leader talks about why the shift was primarily about freedom, in this case freeing itself from being tied into Microsoft's infrastructure and having control over the software it uses. He talks about how the council managed to keep such a large project on track, despite affecting 15,000 people and spanning nine years. He also warns against organizations justifying the shift to open source software on the grounds that it will save money, arguing this approach is always likely to fail."
Ars Technica runs through the pretty and simple (but Windows-only) installer that is one of the first big fruits of the newly commercialized CyanogenMod project, and finds it very worthwhile. However, and despite being far easier for ordinary mortals than the error-prone process of the old way to put on CyanogenMod, it's not perfect: reviewer Ron Amadeo ran into troubles using it on his Nexus 4, and cautions: "If CyanogenMod Inc. really wants to lower the barrier to entry, they next thing they need is a way for users to just as easily go back to the setup they had before installing CyanogenMod. Currently, the installer is a one-way street. If the user decides CyanogenMod isn't for them and wants to go back, they're stuck. Even worse, they could run into the situation I did, where CyanogenMod installs but everything is broken. I've done this enough that I know how to go back to stock, but for a novice, they would have been abandoned with a broken phone."
An anonymous reader writes "Starting with version 3.7, POV-Ray is released under the AGPLv3 (or later) license and thus is Free Software according to the FSF definition. 'Free software' means software that respects users' freedom and community. Roughly, the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. With these freedoms, the users (both individually and collectively) control the program and what it does for them. Full source code is available, allowing users to build their own versions and for developers to incorporate portions or all of the POV-Ray source into their own software provided it is distributed under a compatible license (for example, the AGPL3 or — at their option — any later version). The POV-Ray developers also provide officially-supported binaries for selected platforms (currently only Microsoft Windows, but expected to include OS X shortly)." Update: 11/14 21:57 GMT by U L : The previous distribution terms and source modification license.
rjmarvin writes "Microsoft today announced a web-based development environment for app creation to complement Visual Studio 2013, called Visual Studio Online. Microsoft Senior V.P. S. Somasegar says the new web-based IDE is designed for quick tasks related to building Windows Azure websites and services. Microsoft will be releasing the Visual Studio Online Application Insights service in a limited preview to show developers how to deploy and perform in conjunction with Visual Studio 2013's new features."