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Submission + - Microsoft Announces Windows 8.1 with Bing for Cheaper Devices

SmartAboutThings writes: As it was previously talked about, Windows 8.1 with Bing has just become real, and we're going to see the very first Windows devices running it at the upcoming Computex conference from Taipei. Albeit details are scarce at the moment, what we know is that Microsoft is going to offer it to OEMs for a cheaper price and the single difference is that it will come with Bing as the default search engine within Internet Explorer. However, customers will be able to change that setting through the Internet Explorer menu. Also, the new Windows edition will be only be available preloaded on devices, which means it won't be made available for separate purchase.

Submission + - Microsoft Launches Surface Pro 3

SmartAboutThings writes: On its special event in New York, Microsoft has announced the Surface Pro 3 when most of us were expecting the Surface Mini. The Surface Pro 3 is pretty impressive, being only 9.1 mm thin, weighing 800 grams and coming with a bigger size of 12inch. According to Microsoft, this is the thinnest Intel core product ever made and it packs the i7 processor, as well. And to prove that it's also pretty durable, the tablet-laptop was dropped on the floor .

Submission + - Oculus, Facebook face legal challenge from ZeniMax over Rift software (washingtonpost.com)

Missing.Matter writes: While Oculus faced backlash over its acquisition by Facebook in March, it's now facing its first legal challenge from game studio Zenimax, the parent company of id Software. According to Zenimax,while Carmack worked on R&D for Oculus he was still employed by Zenimax, and therefore "The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax". Oculus has responded by calling Zenimax's position "ridiculous and absurd".

Submission + - An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities

AthanasiusKircher writes: Deborah Fitzgerald, a historian of science and dean of MIT's School of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, speaks out in a Boston Globe column about the importance of the humanities, even as STEM fields increasingly dominate public discussion surrounding higher education. '[T]he world’s problems are never tidily confined to the laboratory or spreadsheet. From climate change to poverty to disease, the challenges of our age are unwaveringly human in nature and scale, and engineering and science issues are always embedded in broader human realities, from deeply felt cultural traditions to building codes to political tensions. So our students also need an in-depth understanding of human complexities — the political, cultural, and economic realities that shape our existence — as well as fluency in the powerful forms of thinking and creativity cultivated by the humanities, arts, and social sciences.' Fitzgerald goes on to quote a variety of STEM MIT graduates who have described the essential role the humanities played in their education, and she concludes with a striking juxtaposition of important skills perhaps reminscent of Robert Heinlein's famous description of an ideal human being: 'Whatever our calling, whether we are scientists, engineers, poets, public servants, or parents, we all live in a complex, and ever-changing world, and all of us deserve what’s in this toolbox: critical thinking skills; knowledge of the past and other cultures; an ability to work with and interpret numbers and statistics; access to the insights of great writers and artists; a willingness to experiment, to open up to change; and the ability to navigate ambiguity.' What other essential knowledge or skills should we add to this imaginary 'toolbox'?

Submission + - Microsoft Finally Relents: Start Menu Returning in Windows 9

JDG1980 writes: Microsoft's announcements at today's Build conference indicates that the change of leadership just might be having some effects on the company's flagship product. It looks like Windows 9 will bring back the Start Menu that so many users missed in Windows 8. It won't be exactly the same as the Windows 7 menu (there's a live tile section off to the right), but it will be a lot closer, and won't hog the whole screen.

Another common complaint about Windows 8 is that the full-screen paradigm for Metro apps – while it may work OK with a tablet or phone – doesn't fit well on a multi-tasking desktop with a large screen. To fix this, Microsoft will allow Metro apps to run within a window on Windows 9 – similar to what can currently be done with Stardock's ModernMix.

Submission + - Microsoft Announces Windows 8.1 Update

SmartAboutThings writes: As expected, at the Build 2014 event currently taking place in the Moscone Center, San Francisco, Microsoft has announced the first update to Windows 8.1. Albeit the update has leaked before, it now has become official. It comes with improvements especially for mouse and keyboard users, such as the minimize button that now works inside modern Windows apps. Also, switching between Win 32 and modern apps is now also possible form a single place. The Start center comes with a the PC Settings tiles and the power button. Right mouse click features have also been added to the Start screen. Also, the Windows Store will be redesigned in the coming days. Windows 8.1 Update will be made available on April 8, ironically, when support for Windows XP is discontinued.

Submission + - Mark Zuckerberg calls Obama to complain about NSA (cnn.com)

mpicpp writes: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg called President Obama on Wednesday night to express frustration about the government's spying and hacking programs.

"When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we're protecting you against criminals, not our own government," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post Thursday afternoon.

His concerns are based on the latest investigative report from The Intercept, which revealed that the National Security Agency has weaponized the Internet, making it possible to inject bad software into innocent peoples' computers en masse. Put simply, using the QUANTUM program, the NSA can sneak into someone's Web browser.
The report is based on documents provided by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Submission + - Sydney Brenner: How to Discourage Great Discoveries (sciencemag.org)

Jim_Austin writes: Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Sydney Brenner equates grad school in the U.S. to slavery, and the postdoc to indentured servitude, and suggests that our system of academic research could hardly be designed more effectively--if the goal is to cripple innovation.
GNOME

GNOME 3.8 Released Featuring New "Classic" Mode 267

Hot on the heels of the Gtk+ 3.8 release comes GNOME 3.8. There are a few general UI improvements, but the highlight for many is the new Classic mode that replaces fallback. Instead of using code based on the old GNOME panel, Classic emulates the feel of GNOME 2 through Shell extensions (just like Linux Mint's Cinnamon interface). From the release notes: "Classic mode is a new feature for those people who prefer a more traditional desktop experience. Built entirely from GNOME 3 technologies, it adds a number of features such as an application menu, a places menu and a window switcher along the bottom of the screen. Each of these features can be used individually or in combination with other GNOME extensions."
Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft Unvailes New Ipad Challenging Tablet (nytimes.com)

SchrodingerZ writes: Microsoft today unveiled its newest piece of technology; The Surface Tablet, a tablet computer meant to challenge the popular Ipad computers created by Apple. The company showed off a tablet that is about the same weight and thickness as an iPad, with a 10.6-inch screen. "The device has a built-in “kickstand” that allows it to be propped up for watching movies, and a thin detachable cover that will serve double duty as a keyboard." The tablet will run a version of Microsoft 8 with the intention of companion hardware being used for innovations on the product. The presentation of the new tablet was to the way in which Apple traditionally opens a new product; giving the media only a few days notice and withholding the exact location of the announcement until only hours before presenting. The announcement thus far has not affected Microsoft stock.
Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft announces Surface tablet, with kickstand and fold-out keyboard (extremetech.com) 7

MrSeb writes: "At its much-discussed “big unveil” this evening, Microsoft did indeed launch a tablet — but rumors that the device would showcase a Barnes & Noble partnership were misplaced. Instead, Microsoft showed a vision for a next-gen PC that combines the portability of a tablet with a minimalistic fold-out keyboard and integrated kickstand. Microsoft’s idea for the tablet (confusingly called Surface) is a device that integrates a better keyboard option than typing on the screen without adding size or weight. That’s where the new keyboard — which doubles as a screen cover — kicks in. At 3mm thick, it adds virtually nothing to the device’s size, but it opens up a world of inputs. There are two covers available — the Touch Cover (very thin) and the Type Cover (with proper, tactile keys). Microsoft is touting the device’s magnesium body, vapor-deposited construction, full PC functionality, and additional features like being the first tablet to showcase a 2×2 MIMO wireless antenna. Windows RT (ARM) and x86 versions are both in the works, with the x86 version apparently having a higher quality screen. No word on hardware specs yet; Microsoft is claiming it “rivals the best ultrabooks” and uses less power than the Core i5. I'm a little bit dubious on that front — and also dubious about how Microsoft's hardware partners will receive this new, rather competitive offering..."

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