About the author  ⁄ Suril Amin

Suril is a scientist, journalist and obsessive Microsoft observer. He holds an advanced degree in Biotechnology with minors in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. Send him tips on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/surilamin

A new screenshot has surfaced showing the boot screen likely to appear on the public preview of Windows 8.1 next week.  The ‘betta fish’ first appeared as a wallpaper in Windows 7, then a Metro version of the fish made its way to the consumer preview in Windows 8.  The fish is a Siamese fighting fish, commonly known as a ‘betta’ fish, used by Microsoft for “beta” builds of the OS. Microsoft will unveil a preview build of Windows 8.1 at the BUILD conference next week at San Francisco.  Stay tuned to Microsoft-news for full coverage. In Windows 7 In Windows 8 Source: Win8China   ...

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NSS Labs, a independent security research and testing organization has released its 2013 Browser Security Comparative Analysis.  The analysis shows that IE10 blocks more socially-engineered malware than any other browser.  Technologies built into IE10 such as SmartScreen and Application Reputation are partially responsible for IE10′s effectiveness against malware.  Independent research now shows that IE10 black 99% of malware and has fewer vulnerabilities than any other browser on Windows. IE10 uses multiple levels of protection to deliver the most secure browser to users: Protection from socially-engineered attacks By imitating or compromising trusted web sites, malware authors try to trick users into sharing personal information or downloading and executing malicious software.  To help protect users from these socially-engineered attacks, Microsoft uses a combination of URL filtering and application reputation.  SmartScreen URL filtering and Application Reputation provide the best protection available against malware attacks. Protection from attacks on web sites Even “good” web ...

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Microsoft has promised 15 exclusive titles for the Xbox One, with 8 of them being new franchises.  Here is what we know so far in no particular order: Exclusive Xbox One Games: Below Crimson Dragon D4 Dead Rising 3 Forza Motorsport 5 Halo Killer Instinct Kinect Sports Rivals Quantum Break Project Spark Rabbids Invasion Ryse: Son of Rome Sunset Overdrive Zumba Party Fitness Untitled Black Tusk game Games Coming to Xbox One and PS4 only: The Division Final Fantasxy XV Kingdom Hearts 3 NBA Live 14 Exclusive Xbox One Games that may also be coming to Xbox 360 and/or PC: Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Fantasia: Music Evolved LocoCycle Minecraft Zoo Tycoon Titanfall Games coming to both Xbox One and PS4 and possibly PC, Xbox 360, &/or PS3 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Battlefield 4 Call of Duty: Ghosts The Crew Destiny Dragon Age Inquisition Dying Light EA Sports UFC ...

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Vizio announced it would be launching a tablet way back at CES 2013.  The 11.6 inch tablet is finally on sale for $599.  Here are the full specifications for the MT11X-A1: Windows 8 with Microsoft Signature—no Junkware Large 11.6″ diagonal 1920 x 1080 Full LED HD touchscreen display AMD Z-60 APU featuring AMD Radeon HD graphics Expansive 64GB onboard SSD storage Ultra-thin and ultra-light design, at less than 0.4” thin and 1.8 lbs. Dual speaker stereo sound with SRS Premium Sound HD™ 10 Point capacitive touch screen (simultaneous) Bluetooth 4.0+ EDR 2.0MP 1600 x 1200 Front Facing Camera 802.11  Dual Band WiFi 2GB Ram 1 Micro HDMI/ 1 USB 2.0 / 1 3.5mm Headphone Jack 5 Hours Battery Life 11.66”W x 7.53”H x 0.39”D 1.80 lbs Vizio is relatively new to the PC market, launching its first machines about two years ago.  Little is known as to if the company is planning ...

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Today Microsoft talked about its latest experiment with Bing, Bing Boards.  Bing Boards is essentially a slideshow with images and videos with context an captions.  Microsoft is working with a small group of food  and lifestyle bloggers, experts and social influencers to help create the Bing Boards.  The Bing boards will show up in the in the middle column of Bing on the sidebar. Bing is one of Microsoft’s most important brands and recently the software giant has been promoting it as a platform.  Bing is expected to be deeply integrated into Windows 8.1 and bring Siri-like voice functionality to the OS.  It already powers the voice features in Windows Phone.  Bing continues to experiment to gain marketshare and has recently made a number of partnerships including on with Klout.  Microsoft it currently has a nationwide Bing-it-on TV campaign to try to increase awareness of the search engine. Source: Bing Blog ...

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I think the post speaks for itself, well worth the read: It’s 4am and I’m still up, some hours ago, we at Microsoft had to basically redact on our Always Online infrastructure and dream.  Being part of the team that created the entire infrastructure to include the POS (point of sale) mechanisms I must say that I am extremely sad to see it removed.  But the consumer knows what is best, I can place the blame on no one but us here at Microsoft.  We didn’t do a good enough job explaining all the benefits that came with this new model.  We spent too much of our time fighting against the negative impressions that many people in the media formed.  I feel that if we spent less time on them and more time explaining the great features we had lined up and the ones in the pipes gamers and media ...

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The Xbox One reverses its course on DRM, great news, right? Wrong.  While part of the developer story still remains to be seen at the BUILD conference, what we have now is a console that is not too much different than the Xbox 360 (Xbox 361?) or the PS4 for that matter.  Earlier today a Microsoft spokesman confirmed that Your entire games collection will no longer be available from the cloud. Playing disc based games will requite will require the disc for playback. Also, we will no longer offer family game sharing from the cloud. The sharing of games will work as it does on Xbox 360, you’ll simply share the disc. Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold The Xbox One originally saw itself as an authentically digital device, and now we take a step backwards where people are stuck with their discs.  When is the last time you ...

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Microsoft continues to take advantage of its large patent portfolio and has recently done more patent licensing deals around its Extended File Allocation Table (exFat) file system. The latest companies Microsoft has made deals with include automotive technology companies Audiovox, Continental, Harman and LG Automotive. According to a report from Accenture, the in-vehicle infotainment and telematics global market is predicted to exceed $80 billion by 2014. exFAT supports the high-capacity SDXC memory card standard, which is increasingly used for music, pictures, videos and maps for navigation systems and USB-based storage devices. Microsoft previously announced a similar exFAT licensing agreement with BMW, as well as with companies in a variety of other industries including Aspen Avionics, Panasonic Corp., Research In Motion, SANYO Electric Company Ltd., Sony Corp. and Canon Inc. Source: Microsoft ...

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All the outrage over the Xbox One hasn’t stopped consumers from pre-ordering an overwhelming amount of Xbox One.  GameStop has reached its cap for ‘in store’ Xbox One pre-orders, but is still accepting pre-orders online. According to Polygon: Retail managers say senior managers sent out a nationwide email to store managers a few days ago telling them to cease taking pre-orders. Many had already stopped taking launch-date orders, because they had run out of individual store-level allocations. Polygon called stores around the country, all of which declined to take Xbox One pre-orders. They are still taking PlayStation 4 orders. Store managers say allocations for Sony’s machine are considerably higher than Microsoft’s. One store manager in California said, “We were only given an allocation of 16 Xbox Ones but we have 60 PlayStation 4s and we’re still taking orders.” Another in Texas said, “There’s no point trying any GameStops. We’ve stopped ...

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Don Mattrick has announced that Microsoft will reverse course on some of the DRM requirements on the Xbox One. An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360. Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360. In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to ...

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Microsoft has had co-authoring available in Office since Office 2010, but not in Office 365 or the Office Web Apps.  Over the last few years the Office Web Apps have gained more features and have become increasingly similar to the desktop applications.  With the introduction of Office 365 the pace of features introduced has accelerated and real time co-authoring is finally coming to the office web apps. The following video provides a demo of how the co-authoring will work, starts around 5:35 The next version of Office is code-named Gemini and is expected to introduce Metro Apps for all applications in Office.  It was also recently announced that Outlook RT will come with Windows 8.1. ...

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Microsoft is offering what it calls a ‘Bounty Program’ to finding exploits and vulnerabilities for Windows 8.1.  Google has had a similar program for its Chrome web browser for quite some time now, though not offering as much money.  This programs is a win-win for Microsoft and consumers, as exploits do not get out into the wild and Microsoft has a more secure OS and browser. Microsoft is now offering direct cash payments in exchange for reporting certain types of vulnerabilities and exploitation techniques. In 2002, we pioneered the Trustworthy Computing initiative to emphasize our commitment to doing what we believe best helps improve our customers’ computing experience. In the years since, we introduced the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) process to build more secure technologies. We also championed Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure (CVD), formed industry collaboration programs such as MAPP and MSVR, and created the BlueHat Prize to encourage research into ...

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Microsoft has long experimented with creating more interactive ads.  Most recently we have seen this with work on the Xbox with the Kinect.  Microsoft has teamed up with a number of ad agencies to create what it calls a new “Ad Pano” format.  Ads in the ‘ad pano’ format are interactive and panoramic adverts within applications.  These are different than traditional applications found banner or pop-up ads found on typical websites. Toyota ran one of the first Ads in Apps for Windows 8 campaigns and was an early adopter of Ad Pano experience. Dionne Colvin, National Marketing Media Manager for Toyota, had this to say about the effectiveness, “We were very happy with the beautiful experience that the Ad Pano brought to our Let’s Go Places campaign, one of our first brand initiatives in many years. We were looking for an online platform that would really spotlight our Toyota brand ...

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Internet Explorer (IE) is not as friendly to add-ons as Chrome and Firefox are, and in fact the Metro version of IE does not support add-ons at all, but Ad-block plus is finally available, in preview form, for IE with limited functionality.  IE does have its own built in ad-blocking with Tracking Protection Lists, but ad-block plus does provide a little more functionality. From their blog post: You will have to choose a different installation package depending on whether you are running 64 bit Windows or not. The goal is to have a single installer of course that will choose the installation package automatically but we don’t have it working correctly yet. The development builds will update automatically but the update experience is far from being great. The user interface is suboptimal and chances are that the updater will ask you to restart Windows — sorry about that. Our primary goal was to make ...

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A number of popular apps including VEVO, a popular music application, and Edjing, a social DJing app, have made their way into the Window 8/RT App Store. VEVO, a popular personalized music video and music entertainment platform. The app provides users with access to 75,000 HD music videos as well as original programming and live concerts from popular artists all over the world. Using the Search charm, you can search for your favorite artists or discover new music with the various filtering options. And with Snap, you can watch your favorite music videos while browsing the web or playing your favorite games. Another music themed app edjing, a social DJ’ing app where you can mix music and create songs. With the edjing app you get a wide variety of DJ’ing effects. You can bring in music from your personal music library and mix songs with those effects and then share them on ...

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You have seen this story for almost 2.5 years now, but the latest numbers from the NPD market research firm show that Microsoft sold 114,000 Xbox 360s in April, dominating the US console industry inside the living room.  This is down from 130,000 sold last month.  The Nintendo 3DS was actually the top selling video game hardware platform, but it is a portable device, so not exactly in the same category.  Sony decided not to disclose their number for the month of May. The top selling games for the month of May across also consoles were: Injustice: Gods Among Us (360, PS3, NWU) Call of Duty: Black Ops II (360, PS3, PC, NWU) Donkey Kong Country Returns (3DS, WII) Dead Island: Riptide (360, PS3, PC) Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) Metro: Last Light (360, PS3, PC) NBA 2K13 (360, PS3, WII, NWU, PSP, PC) Bioshock Infinite (360, PS3, PC) Battlefield 3 ...

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