Hope for Windows Phone?

I must admit this, and I know I have, many times, right here for you my dedicated readers.

I really – really miss my Windows Phone. I am using a iPhone 6 right know and it bothers me. in a big way. I use it for one reason only. Sadly It literally has all of the apps I need for my job and one very important app my wife says I need, Disney Experience. I am left scratching my head wondering why Microsoft cannot figure the whole app thing out. It’s not that hard. People wants apps, and they usually choose their smartphone exclusively on the availability of the apps they want. Maybe Microsoft is starting to get it. Just maybe.

Have no doubt. Windows Phone I do miss yo… badly. Microsoft, listen to me closely, there is no doubt your operating system is superior to both iOS and Android. However please figure out the who app problem before it’s too late.

Maybe there is some hope as this article suggests.

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Me and my Windows Phone. I really do miss you being there for me, as my primary phone.

Is this more false hope? I am not sure but it looks like developers of iOS and Android apps will soon be able to bring their apps and games to Windows 10, Microsoft’s next operating system that’s designed to run on Windows Phone, laptops and other devices, the company announced at its Build developer conference this week. Windows 10 is expected to arive sometime this summer, but phones running Windows 10 are not expected until a later in 2015.

Four new software development toolkits will allow developers to bring their code for iOS, Android, the Web, .NET, and Win32 to the Windows Store with “minimal code modifications” Microsoft promised.

Developers will start with a code base, such as Android or iOS, and integrate that with the Universal Windows Platform capability, then distribute the new app through the Windows Store.

The four new toolkits will enable code already built on websites with .NET and Win32, with Android Java/C++ and with iOS Objective C, Microsoft’s Terry Myerson, vice president of operating systems, said in a blog.

As an example of this, Adobe will bring its Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements apps to the Windows Store by using the new toolkit for Win32 apps, Myerson said. Today, there are 16 million Win32 apps, and Microsoft is looking forward to having them grow their distribution by coming to the Windows Store, he added.

In another example, the Candy Crush Saga game was ported to Windows Phone with “very few code modifications” to its original Objective C code with the Objective C toolkit, he said. The Universal Windows Platform will also enable apps to become holograms.

Having the relatively easy capability to convert iOS apps, and especially Android apps to Windows Phone, could help Microsoft, but even this new ability will take some time and I am not sure, but I fear Microsoft is out of time when it comes to improving smartphone adoption.

I am crossing my fingers for Microsoft, because as I have said…. I really – really miss my Windows Phone.

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Report from Microsoft’s Build 2015

Today was day 1 at Microsoft’s Build 2015 and that means a lot of Windows 10 news. So what did Microsoft want us to know and what are they excited about? Well enough with the Microsoft rumors and lets move on to actually what Microsoft announced today.

 

WINDOWS 10

 

Screen Shot 2015 04 29 at 5.38.18 pm 730x367 Everything Microsoft announced at Build Developer Conference 2015: Day 1

The first announcement about Windows 10: The Windows Store is getting its own carrier billing service across 90 mobile operators to make it easier for customers to purchase apps, and developers to sell apps, without requiring a credit card. This will be available for all Windows 10 devices.

Run Universal Windows apps on Your Desktop

 

22tracks windows universal app 730x389 Everything Microsoft announced at Build Developer Conference 2015: Day 1

Microsoft demoed what it’s like to run Windows apps on a PC – or what it bills as “universal apps.” Even after the user closes the app on their desktop, they can still opt to receive notifications on the lower right corner to allow the app to run across all their devices.

Android and iOS apps arrive on Windows 10!

There were rumors earlier this week that Windows will somehow allow Android apps to run on its platform. Today Microsoft clarified the rumor by announcing that developers not only can port their Android app codes to Windows 10, but also iOS apps. This is big news!

This will certainly reduce the friction for developers hoping to expand their app offering to Windows 10 without requiring a whole lot of effort. The apps will port over on Windows as universal apps so you can use them on Windows 10 desktops as well.

 

ioS objective C Build 730x406 Everything Microsoft announced at Build Developer Conference 2015: Day 1

 

Spartan Browser Gets an Official Name: Microsoft Edge

Project Spartan is officially no more: Microsoft unveiled an official name for the browser at Build – the Microsoft Edge. It can not be underestimated how much Microsoft hopes that this one competed with Google’s Chrome browser.

 

ms edge 730x371 Everything Microsoft announced at Build Developer Conference 2015: Day 1

Microsoft’s new browser will have note-taking and sharing features built-in, as well a new tab page and Web extension support.

 

Windows 10 Continuum for Windows Phone

Fully backing its promise to make its service and devices as universal as possible, Microsoft also announced that Windows 10 phones can be used as a full computer.

It make sense, really. Since Windows apps are universal anyway, Windows 10 continuum allows users to connect their devices via an HDMI cord to see their phone in full screen.

 

powerpoint windows 10 730x401 Everything Microsoft announced at Build Developer Conference 2015: Day 1

 

In a demo, Joe Belfiore, Microsoft Corporate Vice President at Operating Systems Group, showed off PowerPoint from a Windows 10 phone on a desktop. Although the look and feel is very much like a native desktop app, it’s all running via a Windows 10 smartphone, and can even pull in photos from the camera roll to insert into slides.

 

Windows Holographic Demo

Remember Microsoft’s foray into virtual reality last year? That division of MS is still at it with today’s showcase of Windows Holographic.

 

windows holographic 730x401 Everything Microsoft announced at Build Developer Conference 2015: Day 1

While nothing particularly new was announced in this section, Microsoft didshow off its development to make the HoloLens VR headset compatible with browsers, allowing wearers to walk around and resize Windows 10 app screens and interact with them through the holographic computing technology. You can also use voice command to make browsers follow you around… if you want that.

Microsoft also demonstrated the use of HoloLens from a medical education perspective, and brought a student on stage to show how she can use the VR headset to study the human anatomy. She does so by examining the human body from various layers and zooming into specific bones and organs.

 

hololens anatomy 730x403 Everything Microsoft announced at Build Developer Conference 2015: Day 1

 

And that wraps up the big news from Microsoft’s Build 2015, Day 1! Well done Microsoft. Some very good stuff here.

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Is Warp Drive Possible?

Just maybe all my 40+ years of indulging in all things Star Trek was actually time well spent. I always knew that there was so much to learn from Gene Roddenberry’s Trek universe. Among the life lessons I started learning at a very young age and have carried with me all of these years from Star Trek is how to treat others, how to work together for the betterment of the greater whole, how to embrace wonderment and exploration, how to accept everyone for who they are and of course infinite diversity in infinite combinations is to be celebrated. But hey what about all of the amazing technology in Star Trek? From transporters, to phasers, to universal translaters, tricorders and warp drive, amazing tech is everywhere.

The USS Enterprise uses Warp Drive to explore the universe in a very timely fashion.

 

It’s warp drive that has me writing this little post.

Star Trek of course introduced the world to the concept of warp drive. Warp drive for those of you who do not know is the propulsion system that allowed the Enterprise to travel faster than the speed of light. Warp speed is the holy grail that would let us to explore the universe safely surrounded and protected by a space-distorting warp field.

What is the Real Concept of Warp Drive?

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An EmDrive prototype.

To get around the theory of relativity, physicist Miguel Alcubierre came up with the concept of a bubble of spacetime which travels faster than the speed of light while the ship inside of it is stationary. The bubble contracts spacetime in front of the ship and expands it behind it. The warp drive would look like a football inside a flat ring. The tremendous amount of energy it would need made this idea prohibitive until Harold “Sonny” White of NASA’s Johnson Space Center calculated that making the ring into a donut shape would significant reduce the energy needs.

At the same time NASA and other space agencies have been working on prototypes of the EmDrive or RF resonant cavity thruster invented by British aerospace engineer Roger J. Shawyer. This propulsion device uses a magnetron to produce microwaves for thrust, has no moving parts and needs no reaction mass for fuel. In 2014, Johnson Space Center claimed to have developed its own low-power EmDrive.

If Star Trek is any indication going from Warp 1 to 7 will be a snap.

 

So what now? To prove that the warp effect was not caused by atmospheric heating, the test will soon be replicated in a vacuum. If the same results are achieved (and we hope they are), it may mean that the EmDrive is producing an actual warp field, which could ultimately lead to the development of a warp drive.

Last week there was some very exciting news released about the theory of warp drive and I bet you missed it.

Posts on NASASpaceFlight.com, a website devoted to the engineering side of space news, reported that NASA now has a tool to measure variances in the path-time of light. When lasers were fired through the EmDrive’s resonance chamber, it measured significant variances and, more importantly, found that some of the beams appeared to travel faster than the speed of light. If that’s true, it would mean that the EmDrive is producing a warp field or bubble.

What’s Next?

To prove that the warp effect was not caused by atmospheric heating, the test will be replicated in a vacuum. If the same results are achieved, it seems to mean that the EmDrive is producing an actual warp field, which could ultimately lead to the development of a warp drive.

And if all of this plays out as many hope, it will prove that Star Trek had it right, that…

the human adventure has just begun.

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Microsoft’s Build 2015 is Live Tomorrow

Tomorrow is a big day for Microsoft, and Windows 10.

Today we found out that Microsoft will live stream the opening keynote address of its Build developers conference on Wednesday starting at 8:30 PT (11:30 ET).

The webcast can be viewed from the Build news website and Microsoft’s Channel 9.

 

Microsoft has not listed the keynote speakers, but there is little doubt that CEO Satya Nadella will be involved and probably be the opening act before handing off demos and other bits to executives like Terry Myerson, who leads the operating systems group; Joe Belfiore, chief of Windows’ design; and Julie White, lead on Office product management. Those three have been prominent speakers in the past at recent Microsoft press events.

Build 2015 runs through Friday at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, the locale for the third straight year.

Microsoft will no doubt spend much of its time tomorrow hyping Windows 10 and the next generation of Office, both the cloud based Office 365 and the on-premises version Office 2016. Also sure to be covered are new development tools for apps on all three platforms.

It is likely that Microsoft will use the conference keynote to further describe Windows 10, including a more specific release date.

Microsoft has scheduled the Build keynote to run two and a half hours. I hope I get to catch it live.

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Apple’s Profits Surge as iPad Sales Plummet

At the start of this week I talked a little bit about Microsoft’s monster third quarter surrounding their adoption of cloud services. If you think Apple will be left behind, think again, on a very different model, Apple also reported a very good second quarter (Apple’s fiscal quarters are different then Microsoft’s) but their earning came in very different ways then Microsoft.

Apple had a tough act to follow after their record-breaking first quarter, but they managed to surpass expectations in the January to March quarter when it comes to iPhone and Mac sales. While iPad sales are actually dipping, the firm posted record revenue and profit for the three-month period.

Here is a rundown of Apple’s fiscal report:

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus1. The iPhone 6 is really, really popular
Typical of Apple’s earnings is simply how many iPhones the company sold during the three-month period.

Apple announced sales of 61.2 million for the second quarter which. This was down from the 74.5 million reported over Christmas and represents a 40 percent increase from the previous year.

This surge was driven largely by the success of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

2. Macs Bring in More Cash for Apple than iPads
iPad sales for the second quarter came in at 12.6 million, down from 16.3 million from the first quarter and 21 million in the fourth quarter (2014). Mac sales, on the other hand, came in at 4.5 million, up from 4.1 million in the year-ago quarter.

3. Apple’s App Store generates 70 percent more traffic than Google Play
The Apple Store reported its best quarter ever with a record $5 billion (yes that’s a B) in revenue. It was also revealed that the App Store generated 70 percent more traffic than Google Play.

4. China has overtaken Europe to become Apple’s second biggest market
China in Q2 surpassed Europe with revenue of $16.8 billion to become the company’s second biggest market after the United States. Apple said that it has sold more iPhones in China than it did in any other country, and sales rose 71 percent.

5. Apple made 27 acquisitions in the past six quarters
Apple reported that it has made 25+ acquisitions during the the past year and a half.

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Comcast Denied

Maybe there is hope for civilization after all. It is not everyday that Comcast is told, “no”. But that’s just what happened late last week.

Comcast is officially walking away from plans to acquire Time Warner Cable, after regulators signaled their displeasure with the deal.

“Today, we move on,” Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. “Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away.”

The deal almost seemed like a foregone conclusion when Comcast announced its $45.2 billion Time Warner Cable acquisition plan last year. It is well known that the cable giant spends more money on lobbying in Washington than any other company and in fact dumped $17 million into its lobbying efforts in 2014 alone.

But ultimately, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission had much too many concerns about the acquisition, which would have given the combined companies as much as 57 percent of the broadband market and nearly 30 percent of the pay TV market, That is scary.

One concern that apparently emerged was the role that Comcast allegedly played in preventing a sale of Hulu, which is co-owned by Comcast, 21st Century Fox, and Disney. Comcast was supposed to stay out of any Hulu business dealings as a condition of acquiring NBCUniversal (which co-owned Hulu) in 2011. However it has been suggested that Comcast influenced the sale process by assuring Fox and Disney that it would help turn Hulu into a platform for the cable industry. This became a particular issue for the Justice Department as it considered potential merger conditions for Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

Why This Decision is the Correct Decision

Although Comcast and Time Warner don’t operate in the same market — and therefore aren’t direct competitors the combined company would have too much bargaining power in TV carriage agreements, content licensing and interconnection deals for Internet services. Comcast said the acquisition would have lead to better service for customers, but somehow not many people believed that.

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Microsoft Fosters Continued Cloud Adoption

Cloud services are becoming an increasingly accepted, important and even normal way of managing files. To demonstrate this you just need to look at the recent revenue report from Microsoft. Microsoft’s earnings report for the third quarter of its fiscal year shows that its commercial cloud business, which saw a 106 percent growth year-over-year, is currently on track to reach $6.3 billion in annual revenue. These are huge numbers that demonstrate the emergence of cloud services which are fast becoming a best practice for consumers and companies alike.

Microsoft’s cloud business includes its Office 365 software suite, as well as Dynamics CRM and Azure. Microsoft’s PaaS (platform-as-a-service) and IaaS (infrastructure as-a-service) solutions are obviously growing in popularity. These two services are the backbone of Microsoft’s cloud-first strategy.

Office 365 currently has nearly 50 million monthly active users among its business subscribers, while Azure has been adopted by more than 5 million business users and is being used to host nearly a half-million Web sites in addition to an estimated 40,000 companies with 4.4 million users relying on Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM.

The Cloud is No Longer in Doubt

The Cloud is becoming an increasingly important part of the overall IT industry and it’s acceptance as a real possible strategy for large and small organizations is no longer a theory.

Why is this?  In simplest terms it is the ability to provide the best in technology services while reducing infrastructure cost, mobilizing the workforce along with offering top level security which is at the heart of this emerging cloud adoption.

Microsoft’s particular strength has been in helping later-adopting companies make the transition to cloud-based services, due in large part to their strong and long lasting brand recognition. In addition their services are cross-platform, meaning that regardless of the operating systems, mobile devices and computers you may use, their services will be available there. One other important factor is that many of Microsoft’s cloud based services such as Office 365 are built on long tested and tried software packages such as Microsoft Office and Outlook.

Cautious Clouds

The reason that Microsoft’s earning are so strong is that In the end there is comfort in Microsoft’s cloud. Other large and trusted technology companies such as Amazon and Google are also succeeding in amazing ways in respect to cloud adoption. Again this is because the “cloud” adoption we are going through today is… new and we trust that these companies know what they are doing, have excellent and large technology infrastructures and will be around for a very long time. All of these factors have many organizations and consumers turning to them when dipping their toes into the cloud…. and the future.

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Hacker Attacks Up 40% from 2014

hacker-attackSymantec this week has issued a report that hacker attacks on large companies were up 40 percent in 2014 from the year before, Think about that, 40 percent.

To make things worse when vulnerabilities in software were discovered, it took vendors up to 59 days to repair them.

Five out of every six large companies were targeted by various hacker attacks, Symantec said.

And the hackers often succeeded with a simple trick, an “update” to a legitimate piece of software.

Once the unsuspecting employee clicked “download,” a Trojan horse would give hackers a free ride into company networks, where they had “unfettered access,” the company said.

“Hackers are a lot faster, more creative and are using more resources and making it harder for companies to defend themselves,” said Satnam Narang, Symantec senior security response manager.

The corrupted software update is a scam known as the “watering hole” that grew in popularity among hackers last year, he said.

Another alarming fact is that some of these advanced hackers were apparently using a company’s own infrastructure against it.

As an example hackers often installed legitimate software onto compromised computers to use as a cloak to avoid discovery by anti-malware tools, or they used company management tools to move stolen intellectual property around a company network. Once inside the network, hackers often built custom attack software using the company’s own servers.

More bad news came in the fact that Ransomware was up 113 percent, and mobile was increasingly under attack.

Users and organizations alike are at a point where taking technology security seriously is the only option for keeping their data secure.

 

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Are We Alone? NASA Seeks to Find Out

Is there life… out there? NASA, just like me really wants to know.

NASA stated earlier this week that it is launching an interdisciplinary effort aimed at searching for extraterrestrial life.

Known as the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS), the project will bring together a wide range of scientists, researchers, and academics to try to “better understand the various components of an exoplanet [a planet around a star], as well as how the planet stars and neighbor planets interact to support life.”

NASA said that since the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1995, it has found more than 1,000 of them, with thousands more likely to be similarly designated in the future. At the same time, NASA said, scientists are trying to figure out which of these many worlds are, at least in theory, habitable, and which may have signs of life.

“The key to this effort is understanding how biology interacts with the atmosphere, geology, oceans, and interior of a planet,” NASA wrote, “and how these interactions are affected by the host star. This ‘system science’ approach will help scientists better understand how to look for life on exoplanets.”

NASA’s new project, run by its Science Mission Directorate, will bring together earth scientists, planetary scientists, heliophysicists, and astrophysicists “in an unprecedented collaboration to share their perspectives, research results, and approaches in the pursuit of one of humanity’s deepest questions: Are we alone?”

NExSS will be run by Natalie Batalha of the NASA Ames Research Center, Dawn Gelino of the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute, and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies’ Anthony del Genio. It will also have members from 10 universities and two research institutes. The team members were chosen based on proposals submitted to the directorate.

I for one wish NASA well on there mission to finally answer the question, “Are We Alone”.

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Office 365 Continues to Address the Cloud Weary

o365In order to address some user’s concerns regarding cloud computing, cloud providers normally provide customers complete control over their data, including encryption keys. In this vein Microsoft has been regularly unveiling features in that vein for Azure, and yesterday, Microsoft took some more steps in that direction with Office 365.

The features are about more than just providing customer with more control of their data. Microsoft also addressed a long-standing problem among most cloud providers.

How can the customer be sure the provider does not mess with user data, and what happens when the provider has no choice but to do so?

Apparently Microsoft’s answer is Customer Lockbox. This is a new Office 365 feature that apparently gives customers highly granular control over their Office 365 account whenever a Microsoft engineer needs to access content stored within.

According to Jake Zborowski, group manager lead for Office 365, engineers by default don’t have access to service operations and have to go through a rigorous multistage process to obtain access to customer’s data. Customer Lockbox places key parts of Microsoft’s abstraction process into the hands of the customer, which is where the control should be. If a user has a corrupted mailbox, for instance, he (or she) would submit a trouble ticket as usual. An engineer would then be assigned a specific set of credentials valid only for accessing the needed resources for a short time, and they won’t work unless the customer explicitly approves the request for said access.

It is obvious that Microsoft’s theory is that by making the process so transparent, customers can trust Microsoft and will feel less hesitant about committing valuable data to any of its services.

Another improvement here addresses a slightly less important issue, but no less pressing problem.

How do I audit how my organization uses Office 365?

The answer here is through the Office 365 Management Activity API. Data obtained from that RESTful API describes who’s doing what and with whose data in SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Azure Active Directory. Customer Lockbox activity, too, is made available through this interface.

And a third new Office 365 feature designed to further drive customer trust is per-file encryption and expanded data-loss prevention technology for data stored in Sharepoint Online and OneDrive for Business. The most likely and obvious point of further integration for those features, and the others unveiled, is with Azure’s recently introduced key management technology.

These new features set the stage to allow customers to manage encryption keys themselves, which Microsoft is expected to announce sometime in 2016 for SharePoint Online.

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