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Windows 10 Creators Update now available to all, November Update end-of-life’d

Enlarge / The announcement of the Creators Update in October 2016. (credit: Ars Technica)

Some four months after its initial release, Microsoft says it has opened the floodgates and is now pushing out Windows 10 version 1703, the Creators Update, to every compatible PC (a category that excludes systems using Intel's Clover Trail Atoms).

Earlier this month, AdDuplex, which tracks the penetration of the different Windows 10 versions, reported that as of July 18, the Creators Update had just passed 50 percent of Windows 10 systems. Forty-six percent are on the previous version, 1607 (aka the Anniversary Update).

Until now, the deployment of the Creators Update has been throttled to stage its rollout. That throttle is now removed, so most of that 46 percent should now start upgrading. Microsoft is also saying that with this full rollout, enterprise customers should have confidence deploying the update. With Microsoft getting rid of the "Current Branch" and "Current Branch for Business" nomenclature, this is the closest thing to a signal that the version is enterprise-ready.

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Stealthy Google Play apps recorded calls and stole e-mails and texts

Enlarge (credit: portal gda)

Google has expelled 20 Android apps from its Play marketplace after finding they contained code for monitoring and extracting users' e-mail, text messages, locations, voice calls, and other sensitive data.

The apps, which made their way onto about 100 phones, exploited known vulnerabilities to "root" devices running older versions of Android. Root status allowed the apps to bypass security protections built into the mobile operating system. As a result, the apps were capable of surreptitiously accessing sensitive data stored, sent, or received by at least a dozen other apps, including Gmail, Hangouts, LinkedIn, and Messenger. The now-ejected apps also collected messages sent and received by Whatsapp, Telegram, and Viber, which all encrypt data in an attempt to make it harder for attackers to intercept messages while in transit.

The apps also contained functions allowing for:

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Microsoft rationalizes and rebrands Windows 10, Office updates again

One of the more visible aspects of Windows as a Service is that Microsoft has been learning as it goes along, and didn't come straight out the gate with a clear vision of precisely how Windows updates would be delivered, or when. Initially the plan was to push each release out to consumers as the "Current Build" (CB),  and a few months later bless it as good for businesses, as the "Current Build for Business" (CBB).

A clearer plan has been crystalizing over the last few months, first with the announcement in April that Windows and Office would have synchronized, twice-annual releases, and then June's announcement that Windows Server would also be on the semi-annual release train.

Today, Microsoft has put all the pieces together and delivered what should be the long-term plan for Windows, Windows Server, and Office updates. It's not a huge shake-up from the cobbled together plan before, but the naming is new and consistent.

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Cable lobby claims US is totally overflowing in broadband competition

(credit: Free Press)

Are you ever frustrated about a lack of choice for home Internet providers? Well, worry no more. The nation's top cable lobby group is here to let you know that the US is simply overflowing in broadband competition.

In a new post titled, "America's competitive TV and Internet markets," NCTA-The Internet & Television Association says that Internet competition statistics are in great shape as long as you factor in slow DSL networks and smartphone access.

Competition isn’t just the rule in television, it defines broadband markets as well. In spite of living in one of the largest and most rural nations, 88 percent of American consumers can choose from at least two wired Internet service providers. When you include competition from mobile and satellite broadband providers, much of America is home to multiple competing ISPs leveraging different and ever-improving technologies. This competition has led to rapid progress in the quality of consumer internet connections with average peak speeds in America quadrupling over the last five years, from 23.4 Mbps to 86.5 Mbps and the average price per megabit dropping 90 percent in 10 years, from $9.01 per megabit per second to $0.89 per megabit per second.

Many Americans who feel that they have only one viable choice for home broadband might think that cable lobbyists are describing an alternate reality. But it's easy to see the difference between NCTA marketing and Internet users' actual experiences. Yes, if you factor in any wireline home Internet provider offering any speed, then US customers can generally choose between a fast cable network and a slow DSL one. But if one of your two options isn't fast enough to meet your needs, then there's really just one choice.

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Microsoft expands bug bounty program to cover any Windows flaw

Some bugs aren't worth very much cash. (credit: Daniel Novta)

Microsoft today announced a new bug bounty scheme that would see anyone finding a security flaw in Windows eligible for a payout of up to $15,000.

The company has been running bug bounty programs, wherein security researchers are financially rewarded for discovering and reporting exploitable flaws, since 2013. Back then, Microsoft was paying up to $11,000 for bugs in Internet Explorer 11. In the years since then, Microsoft's bounty schemes have expanded with specific programs offering rewards for those finding flaws in the Hyper-V hypervisor, Windows' wide range of exploit mitigation systems such as DEP and ASLR, and the Edge browser.

Many of these bounty programs were time-limited, covering software during its beta/development period but ending once it was released. This structure is an attempt to attract greater scrutiny before exploits are distributed to regular end-users. Last month, the Edge bounty program was made an ongoing scheme no longer tied to any particular timeframe.

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