shutdown -p now writes: Microsoft has released the first public preview of RTVS (R Tools for Visual Studio), an extension for Visual Studio that adds support for the R (GNU S) programming language. The product is open source, and while most of the code is under the MIT license, some components are GPLv2, in accordance with the R license.
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.
It is now confirmed that two frameworks for application development will be XNA for games and game-like fullscreen, high-performance applications, and a subset of Silverlight 3 for everything else. Both frameworks support managed.NET code only — no native (C++) code support. Furthermore, the applications are sandboxed, and "unsafe" functionality, such as P/Invoke, is not available. A fairly detailed set of UI guidelines for developers has been made available as well.
The integrated web browser is claimed to be based on Internet Explorer 7 engine with some extra features, such as proper XHTML support.
An single centralized store will be available, called the Marketplace. It will include both applications and other media (such as music). The Marketplace will be the only way to install applications onto the phone (though, supposedly, "enterprise customers" will have some workaround). There will be an approval process for publishing applications on the Marketplace, and, aside from filtering out malware, it will also require that applications are "generally good taste excluding pornography, hateful/inflammatory speech, and gratuitous violence".
On the hardware side, the specifications will be tightly controlled for the benefit of developers. A standard set of hardware buttons is mandated on all phones ("Back", "Home" and "Search"). Screen size is limited to two standard resolutions: 320x480, and 480x800, and touchscreen must be capacitive, with at least 4-point multi-touch. Other requirements hardware requirements include 3D acceleration, GPS, and accelerometer.
Unlike past mobile SDK releases from Microsoft, a free version of development tools for Windows Phone will be available, named "Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone". A preview of that is presently available, complete with an emulator. In the future, a mobile-oriented version of Expression Blend 4, a designer-centric development tool, will also be available."
shutdown -p now writes: "On April, 2008, Microsoft has released service pack 2 for Microsoft Office 2007. Among other changes, it includes the earlier-promised support for ODF text documents and spreadsheets, featured prominently on the "Save As" menu alongside Office Open XML and the legacy Office 97-2007 formats. It is also possible to configure Office applications to use ODF as the default format for new documents.
In addition, the service pack also includes "Save as PDF" out of the box, and better Firefox support by SharePoint."
shutdown -p now writes: "ISO/IEC 29500:2008, better known as Office Open XML, is now a published ISO International Standard. Major changes since last public drafts include splitting the standard into "strict conformance" and "transitional conformance" parts, with all the Microsoft Office compatibility hacks going into the latter, "for Office Open XML consumers and producers that comply to the transitional conformance category... provide support for legacy Microsoft Office applications". The complete standard, including the transitional part, is still rather unwieldy at 7,228 pages; of those, the transitional elements take up only 1,475 pages.
In addition, the ISO press release explicitly references something called "Microsoft Office 2008" at least one time. Presumably, it would be a Microsoft Office release fully compliant with the newly released specification in its final form; however, there haven't been any announcements from Microsoft about a product named "Office 2008" yet."
shutdown -p now writes: "A group of researchers wrote a paper (PDF) on automatic generation of exploits from security patches. It works by performing flow analysis on the code that is changed by the code to find the boundary conditions that lead to vulnerability in an unpatched version. It's not just theory, either: they have successfully generated exploits for 5 known vulnerabilities in Microsoft products using their algorithm. The authors note that a successful attack using this method is particularly likely when vendor deliberately delays releasing security patches to the general public, to push them in a single bundle on a regular schedule — as is the case with Windows Update and its infamous Patch Tuesday."
shutdown -p now writes: "Microsoft has opened the specifications to the binary Microsoft Office file formats (.doc,.xls, and.ppt) under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise. Any conforming implementation is thus now free from the danger of patent infringement, but only insofar as it is conformant."