Thurrott Daily: August 17

Thurrott Daily: August 17
This woman’s medium t-shirt arrived for me today, from China. No. I have no idea why.

Tech tidbits from around the web.

8/17/2016 5:37:58 PM

Microsoft: Fixing display scaling in Windows is a hard computer science problem

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If you use Windows 10 on a high DPI display—like those on Surface devices—you know the challenges, and how UWP apps tend to work just fine but many traditional desktop applications still do not. (There are also many related issues when using a docked display and disconnecting, or using multiple displays.) A new Microsoft postexamines what’s changed in the Anniversary Update.

In this article I’m going to focus more on the technical side of what we’ve been working on for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update to help improve the display-scaling story for desktop applications. Note that most of what this article discusses does not apply to Universal Windows Applications (UWA) as they already handle display scaling well.

[In the initial release of Windows 10] many third-party (and Microsoft’s own) desktop applications were not able to benefit from this work and could still display blurry or sized incorrectly in some common scenarios. For the Windows 10 Anniversary Update we wanted to tackle this problem so we focused on making it easier (and less expensive) for software developers to update their desktop applications to scale properly.

Worth a read. And no, this is not something that’s been magically fixed yet.

Microsoft rejiggers Work & Play bundle yet again

I’ve written a lot about Microsoft’s ever-changing Work & Play bundle—most recently back in May—but Mary Jo writes that’s changed yet again.

On August 16, Microsoft officials said they had again tweaked the contents of the “limited time” Work & Play bundle. The latest version includes:

  • A one-year subscription to Office 365 Home, which allows installation locally of Office apps on 5 PCs and Macs, 5 tablets, and 5 phones per up to 5 users (normally $100)
  • A one-year subscription to Xbox Live Gold (normally $60)
  • One year of Assure Software Answer Desk support (normally $150)
  • A $25 promotional gift card for movies, TV, Xbox games, and apps that can be used at select online Microsoft Stores
  • 60 free minutes of Skype calling per month (which is part of Office 365 Home)

The cost? $200. You can find it on the Microsoft Store online.

Microsoft Sway gets new templates

Microsoft details some new templates for Sway, it’s cloud-based story-telling solution.

Sway just passed its one-year mark, and we are very inspired to see millions of users from all over the globe using Sway in their work and personal lives. We hope to serve even more people by delivering on our promise to make it effortless to create and share content with colleagues, family and friends.

We recently released several new templates to help you get started on your Sway. You can find them in the My Sways page under Start from a template. Some of our favorites are featured on our new Land your dream job site. We partnered with careers expert Maxie McCoy to create free resume, portfolio and blog post templates to help aspiring job hunters, artists and writers land their dream jobs—or simply have another great way to showcase their work.

Which reminds me, I need to get going on that Paris Sway.

EFF takes on Windows 10 privacy

If you understand the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF, “paid software baaaaaaadddddd“) then you won’t be shocked to discoverthis misbegotten mess of misinformation.

By default, Windows 10 sends an unprecedented amount of usage data back to Microsoft, and the company claims most of it is to “personalize” the software by feeding it to the OS assistant called Cortana. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of data sent back: location data, text input, voice input, touch input, webpages you visit, and telemetry data regarding your general usage of your computer, including which programs you run and for how long.

And while users can opt-out of some of these settings, it is not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft’s servers. A significant issue is the telemetry data the company receives. While Microsoft insists that it aggregates and anonymizes this data, it hasn’t explained just how it does so. Microsoft also won’t say how long this data is retained, instead providing only general timeframes. Worse yet, unless you’re an enterprise user, no matter what, you have to share at least some of this telemetry data with Microsoft and there’s no way to opt-out of it.


Report: Google will focus Hangouts more on business users

As I noted in this week’s post about the release of Google Duo for Android and iPhone, there are a lot of questions about what many see as Google’s ever-shifting messaging strategy. But Engadget asked them about this, and Google had an interesting answer.

A new Google video chat app, Duo, is now available, and a radical new text-based messaging app called Allo is coming soon. Ever since they were announced in May, Google users have wondered: What’s to become of Hangouts?

The company will now focus Hangouts on its business users. Going forward, Allo and Duo will be the company’s main consumer chat plays.

“Because Hangouts is built on a Google account, because it’s deeply integrated with Google apps, the Apps suite [things like Drive, Docs, etc.], Gmail, Calendar and so on, it’s seen much more success in the enterprise,” Fox told me. “It will increasingly focus on that kind of group collaboration enterprise productivity space.”

Weird. Also, Hangouts is a terrible name for a business product.

PlayStation 4 UI to get a fresh coat of paint

This week, Sony announced a beta version of a new system update for the PlayStation 4. And among the changes is a long-awaited refresh to the plain PS4 UI, which dates back a decade.

Our beta for PS4’s upcoming 4.00 update, codenamed Shingen, rolls out soon for everyone included in the public beta program. We’re refreshing the system UI, adding tools for organization, updating the Quick Menu, and much more.

We’ve made a lot of adjustments and improvements to PS4’s main user interface. That includes some changes you may notice right away, like new system backgrounds and a revised What’s New tab, to smaller changes like updated popup notifications and redesigned system icons. As a whole, it all adds up to a more refined and easy to use UI. The overall look and feel of the UI remains the same — it just has a fresh coat of paint.

There are no pictures of the new UI, sadly. I’m very curious to see it.

Intel licenses ARM

From the “news of the weird” comes this: Intel—gasp!—is licensing ARM. Bloomberg reports:

Intel said it’s licensing technology from rival ARM Holdings, a move to win more customers for its business that manufactures chips for other companies.

The accord will let Intel offer third-party semiconductor companies its most advanced 10-nanometer production lines for manufacturing the complex chips usually used in smartphones.

Intel is trying to persuade other chipmakers to use its factories for their production. Adding licenses for ARM’s technology could open up that business to fabricating chips based on those designs for companies such as Qualcomm Inc. and Apple Inc., which now have their chips produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and others.

Curious. It’s like Microsoft offering to build iOS for Apple.


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