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Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached 278

An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times reports that negotiators have finally reached agreement over the Trans-Pacific Partnership from the U.S. and 11 other nations. The TPP has been in development for eight years, and has the potential to dramatically strengthen U.S. economic ties to east Asia. Though the negotiations have been done in secret, the full text of the agreement should be published within a month. Congress (and the legislative houses of the other participating countries) will have 90 days to review it and decide whether to ratify it. The TPP has been criticized in tech circles for how it regards intellectual property and facilitates website blocking, among other issues.

Proponents will also have to answer broader questions about whether it stifles competition, how it treats individuals versus large corporations, as if it creates environmental problems. To give you an idea of how complex it is: "The Office of the United States Trade Representative said the partnership eventually would end more than 18,000 tariffs that the participating countries have placed on United States exports, including autos, machinery, information technology and consumer goods, chemicals and agricultural products ranging from avocados in California to wheat, pork and beef from the Plains states."

iPad Mini-Style Specs, On the Cheap, In Android-Based ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 87

MojoKid writes: The ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 is a well-designed Android tablet based on an Intel X86 platform that boasts better specs than the iPad mini 3 in many areas and is also less expensive. As configured, the ZenPad S 8.0 Z580CA has an MSRP of $299, which is $99 less than the 16GB iPad mini 3, and $199 less than 64GB model. However, it's based on a quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and modern amenities like 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a USB Type-C port and a 2048X1536 IPS display. A 2GB RAM and 32GB variant can be found for $199 as well. In the benchmarks, the ZenPad S 8.0 handles pretty well, offering middle-of-the-pack performance in both standard CPU tests as well as gaming, in addition to running the latest version of Android Lollipop.

PHP 7.0 Nearing Release, Performance Almost As Good As HHVM 158

An anonymous reader writes: PHP 7.0 RC2 was released on Friday. In addition to the new language features, PHP 7.0 is advertised as having twice the performance of PHP 5. Benchmarks of PHP 7.0 RC2 show that these performance claims are indeed accurate, and just not for popular PHP programs like WordPress. In tests done by Phoronix, the PHP performance was 2~2.5x faster all while consuming less memory than PHP 5.3~5.6. Facebook's HHVM implementation meanwhile still held a small performance lead, though it was consuming much more memory. PHP 7.0 is scheduled to be released in November.

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 IoT Core For Small, Embedded Devices 123

An anonymous reader writes: One of the more interesting aspects of Microsoft's Windows 10 push is their desire to see it running on hobbyist hardware platforms. Today they released Windows 10 IoT Core for the Raspberry Pi 2 and the MinnowBoard Max. They say, "Windows 10 IoT Core is a new edition for Windows targeted towards small, embedded devices that may or may not have screens. For devices with screens, Windows 10 IoT Core does not have a Windows shell experience; instead you can write a Universal Windows app that is the interface and "personality" for your device." Microsoft has posted a list of release notes for this version, calling out improved support for Python and Node.js, significantly improved GPIO performance, and more electronics support for breakout boards. Under a heading cheekily named 'Developers, Developer, Developers,' they lay out their plan for language support and provide a code sample.

Windows 10 Upgrade Strategies, Pitfalls and Fixes As MSFT Servers Are Hit Hard 187

MojoKid writes: The upgrade cycle begins, with Microsoft's latest operating system--the highly anticipated Windows 10--rolling out over Windows Update for free, for users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. For those that are ready to take the plunge over the weekend, there are some things to note. So far, Microsoft has been rolling out the upgrade in waves and stages. If you are not one of the 'lucky' ones to be in the first wave, you can take matters into your own hands and begin the upgrade process manually. While the process is mostly simple, it won't be for everyone. This guide steps through a few of the strategies and pitfalls. There are two main methods to upgrade, either through Windows Update or through the Media Creation Tool. In either case, you will need to have opted-in for the Windows 10 Free Upgrade program to reserve your license. Currently, the Windows Update method is hit or miss due to the requirement for additional updates needing to be installed first and Microsoft's servers being hit hard, leading to some rather humorous error messages like the oh-so helpful description, "Something Happened." Currently, it would be best to avoid the Windows Update upgrade, at least for the time being. Numerous issues with licensing have been reported, requiring manual activation either through the dreaded phone call, or by running slmgr.vbs /ato at the command prompt to force license registration.

Windows 10 Launches 317

An anonymous reader writes: Today Microsoft officially released Windows 10 in 190 countries as a free upgrade for anyone with Windows 7 or later. Major features include Continuum (which brings back the start menu and lets you switch between a keyboard/mouse UI and a touch UI without forcing you into one or the other), the Cortana digital assistant, the Edge browser, virtual desktops, DirectX 12 support, universal apps, an Xbox app, and security improvements. Reviews of the operating system generally consider it an improvement over Windows 8.1, despite launch-day bugs. Peter Bright writes, "Windows 8 felt unfinished, but it was an unfinished thought. ... Windows 10 feels unfinished, but in a different way. The concept of the operating system is a great deal better than its predecessor. It's better in fact than all of its predecessors. ... For all my gripes, it's the right idea, and it's implemented in more or less the right way. But I think it's also buggier than Windows 8.1, 8, 7, or Vista were on their respective launch days." Tom Warren draws similar conclusions: "During my testing on a variety of hardware, I've run into a lot of bugs and issues — even with the version that will be released to consumers on launch day. ... Everything about Windows 10 feels like a new approach for Microsoft, and I'm confident these early bugs and issues will be addressed fairly quickly."

First Windows 10 RTM Candidate Appears 189

Mark Wilson reports that the first RTM candidate for Windows 10 has been spotted: build 10176. Leaks and sources have suggested the company intends to finalize the operating system later this week, perhaps as early as July 9th. This would give Microsoft almost three weeks to distribute it to retailers and devicemakers before the July 29th launch date. "While the RTM process has been a significant milestone for previous releases of Windows, it’s more of a minor one for Windows 10. Microsoft is moving Windows 10 to a 'Windows as a service' model that means the operating system is regularly updated."

Microsoft Brings Office To Android Smartphones For Free 85

Mark Wilson writes: After a few weeks in preview, Microsoft Office is now available for Android smartphones. Despite Microsoft's mobile-first, cloud-first philosophy, it has actually taken some time to bring the world's most popular office suite to Android phones — it joins the tablet version of the suite that was released last year. Just like the tablet editions, the phone versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint won't cost you a penny, allowing for the viewing and editing of a range of files when on the move. There is a cloud focus with support for not only OneDrive, but also Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box, and Microsoft says it has made changes based on the feedback received during the preview period.

Netflix Is Experimenting With Advertising 318

derekmead writes: Netflix is experimenting with pre-roll and post-roll advertisements for some of its users. For now, it's just pitching it's own original programming. However, many are concerned that they plan to serve third-party ads, but the company says they have no plans to do so. They told Mashable in a statement: "We are not planning to test or implement third-party advertising on the Netflix service. For some time, we've teased Netflix originals with short trailers after a member finishes watching a show. Some members in a limited test now are seeing teases before a show begins. We test hundreds of potential improvements to the service every year. Many never extend beyond that."

Ads Based On Browsing History Are Coming To All Firefox Users 531

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla has announced plans to launch a feature called "Suggested Tiles," which will provide sponsored recommendations to visit certain websites when other websites show up in the user's new tab page. The tiles will begin to show up for beta channel users next week, and the company is asking for feedback. For testing purposes, users will only see Suggested Tiles "promoting Firefox for Android, Firefox Marketplace, and other Mozilla causes." It's not yet known what websites will show up on the tiles when the feature launches later this summer. The company says, "With Suggested Tiles, we want to show the world that it is possible to do relevant advertising and content recommendations while still respecting users’ privacy and giving them control over their data."

Tweets To Appear In Google Search Results 91

mpicpp writes with news that Google will now begin showing tweets alongside search results. Mobile users searching via the Android/iOS apps or through the browser will start seeing the tweets immediately, while the desktop version is "coming shortly." The tweets will only be available for the searches in English to start, but Twitter says they'll be adding more languages soon.

Second Technical Preview of Windows Server 2016 Arriving This Spring 34

jones_supa writes: The second technical preview of Windows Server 2016 will be launching in May as the first one nears its expiration date. The next Windows Server is being developed and targeted for an early 2016 release, however, the latest and greatest preview builds haven't been released to the public by Microsoft since October 2014. At the same time, Windows 10 builds have been released regularly to everybody who wants to try them out. It was revealed earlier that the Windows Server release won't take place along with that of Windows 10, so it makes sense that Microsoft is pushing more builds of the desktop OS out for testing first. There is no mention of an exact date of the upcoming Windows Server Technical Preview, but an announcement can be expected during the upcoming BUILD 2015 conference which starts on 29th April.

Report: Samsung Replacing Its Apps With Microsoft's For Galaxy S6 148

An anonymous reader writes: SamMobile is reporting that the next major revision of Samsung's Galaxy S line of phones is going to have some major changes. According to insider sources, Samsung has gotten rid of many of their pre-loaded apps, making them optional downloads. What's interesting is that they're replacing these apps with software from Microsoft — apps like Skype, Office Mobile, and OneDrive. "With Windows Phone failing to make a dent on the smartphone market, Microsoft has recently shifted focus to its software services, and having them pre-installed on one of the bestselling Android smartphone lineups might just give the Redmond giant the exposure it needs to court consumers into switching from Google's massively more popular services that come preloaded on all Android devices."

Google+ Will Make Your Videos Look Better 37

ErnieKey writes: A new Google+ feature for uploaded videos has been released that automatically enhances lighting, color, and stability. Soon, it'll also enhance speech in videos. "As more and more people now also take videos with their smartphones, it makes sense for Google to bring some of the technologies it has developed for photos (and YouTube) to these private videos, as well. Google has long offered a similar feature for YouTube users, so there is likely some overlap between the two systems here. While YouTube offers the option to 'auto-fix' videos, though, it doesn't automatically prompt its users to do this for them. YouTube also offers a number of manual tools for changing contrast, saturation and color temperature that Google+ doesn’t currently offer."

If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we would all be millionaires. -- Abigail Van Buren