Microsoft hasn't hit the same popularity it did with Windows 7 with its latest two operating systems: Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, but will it strike the iron again with Windows 9? We are now being treated to an early look thanks to some leaked screenshots of the next version of Windows' Start Menu.
The new build of Windows is still codenamed "Threshold" which is another major desktop revamp, with one of those bits being the much-talked about Start Menu. We can see that the new screenshots show off an impressive looking Start Menu that features some "Metro-style" apps that are pinned to the Start Menu itself, as well as the usual applications to the left.
The Verge is reporting that these images are genuine, and are from the current development versions of "Windows 9". The second screenshot shows that Microsoft is hoping to have Metro-style apps run in the desktop as either fullscreen or windowed. This is a large part of Microsoft's plans for the upcoming version of its OS, something that will make mouse and keyboard users have a better experience on the desktop.
That infamous hawker of hype and high-price handsets, Apple Corporation, has just posted its quarterly profits - of 7.75 billion dollars, up a very respectable 12 percent compared to the same time last year.
It claimed the runaway success of its latest iPhone models is to thank for the strong growth, as well as a swelling of its business in China, where revenue was boosted 28 percent to reach 5.9 billion dollars. The company brought in over 10.3 billion in operational cash flow, it said. "Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters," Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said in a statement. "We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can't wait to introduce."
For now it looks like the hype train is showing no signs of stopping, as the entire blogosphere speculates on what's next for the iconic iPhone. What's a little less on everyone's lips, though, is the iPad - sales of which happened to plummet for a second quarter in a row, down by a pretty substantial nine percent to 13.3 million.
Microsoft has announced its fiscal fourth quarter earnings, and although it's in profit, the company claims it took a hit from Nokia's handset business.
Quarterly profit was $4.61 billion, down from $4.96 billion for the same quarter last year. That leaves it at 55 cents per share, quite a touch short of Wall Street's expectations of 60 cents per share on average. And while the acquisition of Nokia's handset business may have impacted on Microsoft's quarterly profits, revenues reached $23.38 billion, beating estimates of $23 billion, with the company largely having Nokia sales to thank for this. Enterprise also performed well.
"We are driving growth with disciplined decisions, bold innovation, and focused execution," Satya Nadella, new-ish Microsoft CEO said. "I'm proud that our aggressive move to the cloud is paying off - our commercial cloud revenue doubled again this year to a $4.4 billion annual run rate." Executive veep Amy Hood said in a statement that as the company enters fiscal 2015, it's "focused on aligning" its resources towards strategic investments - perhaps referring to Microsoft's recent decision to make one of the largest job cuts in the history of the tech industry - of a staggering 18,000 people.
Cybercriminals in Nigeria are continually evolving their attack strategies, and have created next-generation malware able to compromise businesses and organizations that they previously ignored. The old school "419" phishing tactics once infamously deployed by Nigerian spammers still occurs, but the criminals want to steal data from a larger number of victims using better designed strategies.
Utilizing Remote Administration Tools (RATs) from online hacker forums, Nigerian cybercriminals aim for full control of compromised systems. Silver Spaniel is able to circumvent legacy firewalls and typical anti-virus and anti-malware software because it has been modified to ensure it can evade them efficiently.
"These Silver Spaniel malware activities originate in Nigeria and employ tactics, techniques and procedures similar to one another," said Ryan Olson, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 Intelligence Director, in a statement. "The actors don't show a high level of technical acumen, but represent a growing threat to businesses that have not previously been their primary targets."
Facebook and other social media services, while extremely popular, suffer from low customer satisfaction, according to a recent survey released by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
Overall, social media companies ranked the fourth-lowest among consumer satisfaction, only ahead of Internet service providers, subscription television companies and airline companies. Pinterest had the highest consumer satisfaction index, ranking at 76, ahead of Wikipedia (74), YouTube (73), Google+ (71), Twitter (69), LinkedIn (67) and Facebook (67). The social media category garnered an overall score of 71.
The Chinese government plans to launch a crackdown on mobile pornography and obscene content, as part of its "clean the Internet" campaign. Critics of the ban say it's nothing more than the Communist Party trying to limit anti-government discontent.
China is well known for restricting what its population of 632 million Internet users can access - and with 83 percent relying on smartphones for Web access - it's not surprising to hear the crackdown will focus on mobile apps. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said the campaign will first start with mobile app companies encouraged to remove inappropriate content on their own.
The actual effectiveness of these types of campaigns remains unknown, as tech savvy users will share ways to easily circumvent the ban. Furthermore, the use of WeChat and other mobile messaging apps make it even easier to share "lewd" content, as the number of social networking and messaging apps in China increases.
The continued political unrest in Iraq has led to armed conflict, but has led to a rise in something a bit more surprising: a cyberwar that has used social media and coordinated malware and other cyberattacks against rival political factions.
The use of the "Njrat" malware, to compromise PCs and create a rudimentary botnet, has drawn interest among cybersecurity experts - and other similar tactics are being deployed. The criminals are interested in stealing data and using hijacked microphones and cameras to see what is happening in select regions.
"The key parties are local groups within Iraq using malware for targeted intelligence on each other," said Andrew Komarov, Intel Crawler chief of security, in a statement. "It is very hard to confirm who is the author, as some of the malware is used from public sources, but it is very visible that it is used within Iraq, and not outside against foreign countries, which may explain the beginning of internal local cyberwar."
Nonprofit organization Goodwill Industries reportedly suffered a data breach and customer credit card data is at risk. The company was first contacted last Friday by federal authorities, informing them of the potential data theft affecting American stores.
It's unknown how many stores have been impacted, but fraud details have been tracked to a pattern that hit at least 21 states, including California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and others spread across the country. Goodwill is investigating with a newly created "response team":
"We are proactively engaged with the payment card industry contacts, the Secret Service and all Goodwill headquarters to identify what problem, if any, exists so that we can take prompt and appropriate actions as well as communicate appropriately to any affected parties."
Businesses that are worried about a software skills shortage are setting up the first university in Wales, UK to be dedicated to the subject.
However, there will be no dedicated campus for this University - instead it will offer a mixture of online and applied learning with complementary work experience, or internship, schemes. It is being set up either to be paid for privately, through a charity, or publicly. However it comes to be, the degree courses will be real and last for two years, and accredited by another university.
One of the people behind the plan, Simon Gibson, suggested there's an upcoming crisis regarding the lack of young people with qualified software skills. "It's not just software engineers writing things for mobile phones now," he said, speaking with the BBC. "Software engineers are needed in the insurance business, finance, bioscience, anything that involves economic development requires good software skills." The plans are said to be "well advanced" but further details are not clear quite yet.
Cyberattacks are increasingly difficult to detect and defend against, with foreign state-sponsored hackers sometimes able to compromise large amounts of data. Both businesses and customers struggle following data breaches, and the direct cost of cybercrime negatively hurts everyone, security specialists continue to warn.
Heartbleed gained attention because of the threat it posed to casual consumers, but these issues remain a significant problem for businesses and security leaders.
"I think that these kinds of issues are really symptoms of a bigger problem," said Richard Ford, head of Florida Institute of Technology's Department of Computer Science and Cybersecurity, in a press statement. "Our entire computing infrastructure - and that includes embedded devices and control systems - is highly vulnerable to attackers. We have built a very complex ecosystem around us, and it is both critical to the smooth functioning of our lives and very fragile. I worry not about a cybercriminal, but an attacker who simply wants to destroy."