Open Source

Matthew Garrett Forks the Linux Kernel 386

jones_supa writes: Just like Sarah Sharp, Linux developer Matthew Garrett has gotten fed up with the unprofessional development culture surrounding the kernel. "I remember having to deal with interminable arguments over the naming of an interface because Linus has an undying hatred of BSD securelevel, or having my name forever associated with the deepthroating of Microsoft because Linus couldn't be bothered asking questions about the reasoning behind a design before trashing it," Garrett writes. He has chosen to go his own way, and has forked the Linux kernel and added patches that implement a BSD-style securelevel interface. Over time it is expected to pick up some of the power management code that Garrett is working on, and we shall see where it goes from there.

From Microsoft, HoloLens VR Dev Kit, New Phones, Continuum 72

Ars Technica and scads of other tech hardware sites are reporting that the big news so far from this morning's Microsoft product launch event in New York is that the company's Hololens development kit will begin shipping in the first quarter of next year, and at a price that puts the units out of the hands of typical consumers: $3000. At that level, developers are more likely to make the plunge, which Ars applauds.

The company also announced three new smartphones: two of them, the Lumia 950, 950XL, are worth designating "flagships," while the 550, notably, will sell for $139, putting it in the territory of cheap grey-market Android phones. More interesting than spec bumps, though, is Continuum for Windows, a Window 10 feature which made its official debut at the event. Continuum is one manifestation of the pocket-computer idea that others have had as well in various forms: it means that with an adapter, a phone can be used as the CPU and graphics engine when connected to a screen and keyboard: "The adapter features a Microsoft Display Dock, an HDMI and Display Port, plus 3 USB ports to provide productivity on the go and let you plug in additional peripherals, such as mice and keyboards. Other accessories can be connected too, Microsoft said."

Microsoft also demo'd the Surface 4. Its improved screen is 12.3" at 2160x1440, for a pixel density of 267 PPI. The new pro has a Skylake 6th-gen processor, which they say provides a 30% performance boost over the Surface Pro 3, and a 50% boost over the MacBook Air. The SP4 goes up to 1TB of storage, and up to 16GB of RAM. The Type Cover was improved as well — the touchpad is 40% larger and supports 5-point multi-touch, while the keys have better travel and pitch.

On top of this, Microsoft also unveiled the Surface Book laptop. Its defining feature is that you can unclip the 13.5" touchscreen and use it separately as a tablet. The keyboard dock has a dedicated GPU that will boost performance when attached. Microsoft is using a new type of hinge that bends and extends at multiple points, so you can also reattach the screen backward if you want to use it as a tablet while keeping the extra GPU power available. They claim a 12-hour battery life for the Surface Book.

Software Defined Smart Battery Arrays Extend Laptop Life 36

An anonymous reader writes: A Microsoft research paper, titled 'Software Defined Batteries', outlines a radical charging alternative which uses a smart battery system to keep consumer-grade gadgets going for much longer than the current norm, by monitoring user habits. Making use of existing technologies, the engineers place multiple battery control under the duties of the operating system to create a software-defined approach optimized for different scenarios, such as word processing, email or video streaming.

CodeWeavers To Release CrossOver For Android To Run Windows Programs 63

An anonymous reader writes: For the better part of three years there has been talk about running Wine on Android to bring Windows x86 programs to Android phones/tablets, and it's going to become a reality. CodeWeavers is planning to release CrossOver For Android before the end of the year. This will allow native Windows binaries to run on Android, but will be limited to Android-x86 due to struggles in emulating x86 Windows code on ARM. The tech preview will be free and once published the open-source patches will be published for Wine.

Office 2016 Proving Unstable With Apple's El Capitan 136

An anonymous reader writes: Users of Microsoft Office on the Mac are reporting widespread instabilities and conflicts after upgrading to the latest version of the Apple desktop operating system, El Capitan. The first indications that El Capitan and Office 2016 were not working well together came in a now epic thread at Microsoft Community. Many users have surmised that new restrictions in file permissions in El Capitan caused the problems initially, though nearly all agree that Office's Outlook email client is the critical point of failure in the current round of application crashes and loss of functionality.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 Is Shipping 90

jones_supa writes: Microsoft's mail and calendar server package Exchange Server 2016 is being refreshed and is now out of preview, along with the 2016 revamp for other Office products. The new Exchange tries to simplify the software's architecture while still adding new features and working better with other Office products. You can now use links from Sharepoint 2016 and OneDrive for Business as email attachments, instead of having to upload the actual file, leading to more robust file sharing and editing. Add-ins have been introduced, which allows extensibility similar to extensions on a web browser. Microsoft is providing a 180-day trial for free.

Google and Microsoft Agree To Stand Down In Patent Wars 43

_0x783czar writes: Today Google and Microsoft have announced an end to litigious hostilities between themselves; signaling another step on the road to peace as the "global smartphone wars" wind down. This moves settles 18 lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany, including those involving Motorola Mobility's patents, which Google retained after selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo. Both companies hope this move will help settle the smartphone wars and refocus their efforts on consumers. Reuters reports: "Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers."

Nerves Rattled By Highly Suspicious Windows Update Delivered Worldwide 216

An anonymous reader writes: If you're using Windows 7 you might want to be careful about which updates you install. Users on Windows forums are worried about a new "important" update that looks a little suspect. Ars reports: "'Clearly there's something that's delivered into the [Windows Update] queue that's trusted,' Kenneth White, a Washington DC-based security researcher, told Ars after contacting some of the Windows users who received the suspicious update. 'For someone to compromise the Windows Update server, that's a pretty serious vector. I don't raise the alarm very often but this has just enough characteristics of something pretty serious that I think it's worth looking at.'" UPDATE: Microsoft says there's nothing to worry about, the company "incorrectly published a test update."

500 Million Users At Risk of Compromise Via Unpatched WinRAR Bug 129

An anonymous reader writes: A critical vulnerability has been found in the latest version of WinRAR, the popular file archiver and compressor utility for Windows, and can be exploited by remote attackers to compromise a machine on which the software is installed. "The issue is located in the 'Text and Icon' function of the 'Text to display in SFX window' module," Vulnerability Lab explained in a post on on the Full Disclosure mailing list. "Remote attackers are able to generate own compressed archives with malicious payloads to execute system specific codes for compromise."

Apple, Microsoft Tout Their Privacy Policies To Get Positive PR 102

jfruh writes: Apple hasn't changed its privacy policy in more than a year — but that didn't stop the company from putting up a glossy website explaining it in layman's terms. Microsoft too has been touting its respect for its users's privacy. This doesn't represent any high-minded altruism on those companies' parts, of course; it's part of their battle against Google, their archrival that offers almost all of its services for free and makes its money mining user data.

Ditch Linux For Windows 10 On Your Raspberry Pi With Microsoft's IoT Kit 308

An anonymous reader writes: Partnering with Adafruit, Microsoft has announced the Windows IoT Core Starter Kit. The $75 kit comes comes with an SD card preloaded with Windows 10 IoT. According to the Raspberry Pi blog: "The pack is available with a Pi 2 for people who are are new to Raspberry Pi or who'd like a dedicated device for their projects, or without one for those who'll be using a Pi they already own. The box contains an SD card with Windows 10 Core and a case, power supply, wifi module and Ethernet cable for your Pi; a breadboard, jumper wires and components including LEDs, potentiometers and switches; and sensors for light, colour, temperature and pressure. There's everything you need to start building."

Ask Slashdot: Make Windows Update Install Only Security Updates Automatically? 288

An anonymous reader writes: After the news earlier this month about Microsoft forcing the Windows 10 upgrade on people who don't want it, my sizeable extended family has been coming to me for a solution. They don't want to be guinea pigs this early in the Windows 10 release cycle, but it looks like Microsoft may not be giving them a choice. My reading of Woody Leonhard's advice is that the only way to ensure the upgrade doesn't happen is to disable Windows Update, but that seems extreme. I want my family to install security updates, but I don't relish the idea of explaining to them how to install just those and hide the less-desireable updates.

The ideal solution would be to have only security updates install automatically, but it looks like it's easier said than done. I've looked at third-party tools like Autopatcher and Portable Update, but a security-only option doesn't seem to be very standard. From what I've read, Microsoft doesn't even package security updates separately, sometimes mixing merely Important and Recommended updates in the downloaded CAB file. I wish I could get them off Windows, but it's not an option. They use Windows at work or school, and don't want to go through the process of learning another OS. Maybe the current situation with Windows 10 will convince them eventually, but they need something now. I would really like to come up with a solution before the next Patch Tuesday on October 13. Do any of the more knowledgeable Slashdotters out there have any advice?

Recalc Or Die: Excel 1.0 Developers Celebrate Their Baby's 30th Birthday 118

theodp writes: This weekend, reports GeekWire, many of the original Excel team members are getting together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the software's release. "We certainly ripped some stuff off," acknowledged Microsoft Excel 1.0 lead developer Doug Klunder, "but we also did some things that nobody else had done at the time and probably hasn't done since — some of which are really insane, and some of which turn out to be pretty handy." Klunder, who was responsible for Excel's killer "intelligent recalc" feature, quit his job after Bill Gates decided to shift the original Excel project from MS-DOS to the Mac, but ended up coming back and finishing the project after an ill-fated stint as a farm worker in the lettuce fields of California. "Just imagine having this product where one of the key components of it is really only understood by this guy who will quit routinely and go be a migrant farm worker down in California," said Excel 1.0 program manager Jabe Blumenthal. "It was not necessarily the most traditional or stable of environments." Many of the original Excel team members still use the program today — the RSVP sheet for this weekend's party was an Excel Online document. Before a professional naming firm came up with "Excel," the software was known by its code name "Odyssey", and other product names considered by Microsoft included "Master Plan" and "Mr. Spreadsheet." By the way, "Mr. Spreadsheet" makes his MOOC debut next week in edX's free-to-audit Excel for Data Analysis and Visualization course.

How To Clean the Cruft Left By a Windows 10 Upgrade 204

MojoKid writes: Microsoft may have given you a free Windows 10 upgrade but it's not without some left over file clutter that some folks don't realize is left on a system after migration. It's not rocket science but there are a few key strategies to tidy up the file bloat an OS migration can sometimes leave behind and to further optimize an upgraded Windows 10 installation. The ability to roll back to your Windows 7 or 8.1 installation within 30 days is a very easily overlooked feature of the Windows 10 upgrade process. The feature is a lifesaver if you encounter issues, such as missing or incompatible drivers, and need to quickly recover without starting from scratch. This ability doesn't come without consequences, though. In order to offer this feature, Windows 10 is essentially keeping another completely separate Windows installation on your PC. This will need to go, once you've determined that you are sticking with Windows 10 and everything seems happy enough. These files are scattered throughout your system and include a number of hidden directories, with the bulk of them located in Windows.old and the hidden $Windows.~BT and $Windows.~WS directories.
United States

EU May Forbid the Transfer of Personal Data To the US 202

An anonymous reader writes: As the Snowden revelations have shown, personal data stored in the United States of America is not protected from the US government, be it through warrantless eavesdropping or national security letters. In light of this, the general attorney for the Court of Justice of the European Union has just issued an opinion requiring the US to be removed from the list of "safe harbors", where the transfer of personal data of European citizens is permitted. If the court follows his opinion, the change will have deep impact in the operations of large transnational Internet companies, between a US government that wants to keep on spying, and European authorities that will punish them if they let it happen.

Fable Legends DX12 Benchmark Stressing High End GPUs 51

Vigile writes: In preparation for the release of the free-to-play Fable Legends game on both Xbox One and PC this winter, Microsoft and Lionhead Studios released a benchmark today that allows users to test performance of their PC hardware configuration with a DirectX 12 based game engine that pushes the boundaries of render quality. Based on a modified UE4 engine, Fable Legends includes support for asynchronous compute shaders, manual resource barrier tracking and explicit memory management, all new to the DX12 API. Unlike the previous DX12 benchmark, Ashes of the Singularity, which focused mainly on high draw call counts and mass quantities of on-screen units, Fable Legends takes a more standard approach, attempting to improve image quality and shadow reproduction with the new API. PC Perspective has done some performance analysis with the new benchmark and a range of graphics cards, finding that while NVIDIA still holds the lead at the top spot (GTX 980 Ti vs Fury X), the AMD Radeon mid-range products offer better performance (and better value) than the comparable GeForce parts.

Bjarne Stroustrup Announces the C++ Core Guidelines 262

alphabetsoup writes: At CppCon this year, Bjarne Stroustrup announced the C++ Core Guidelines. The guidelines are designed to help programmers write safe-by-default C++ with no run-time overhead. Compilers will statically check the code to ensure no violations. A library is available now, with a static checking tool to follow in October.

Here is the video of the talk, and here are the slides.The guidelines themselves are here.

Lenovo Collects Usage Data On ThinkPad, ThinkCentre and ThinkStation PCs 134

New submitter LichtSpektren writes: Following up Lenovo's blunders regarding the Superfish malware and altered BIOS, Michael Horowitz at ComputerWorld reports that a refurbished ThinkPad he bought includes Lenovo spyware under the guise of "Customer Feedback". After some digging around, he found the following in a support document: "Lenovo says here that all ThinkPad, ThinkCentre and ThinkStation PCs, running Windows 7 and 8.1, may upload 'non-personal and non-identifying information about Lenovo software application usage' to"

Skype For Microsoft Edge Will Work From the Browser, No Plug-Ins Required 89

We mentioned a few months back Microsoft's beta of a browser-based intrerface to Skype. Now, reports Engadget, Skype will be able to work without a plug-in (as was required for the beta). However, it will work -- at least at first -- only with Microsoft's Edge browser. The latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build comes with Object RTC API. That's the element that allows real-time audio and video communication without the need for any installation not just for Skype for Web and, but also for other WebRTC-compatible services. To note, Chrome, Firefox and Safari all support WebRTC standards, but it's unclear if and when Skype will enable a plug-in-less experience for those browsers, as well.