7 Days is a weekly round-up of what's been happening in the world of technology - written by Neowin's editors with a dash of humor, a hint of exasperation, and an endless supply of (Irish) coffee. Here's a especially edited version for TechSpot readers from the full article.
The next few weeks promise to be a very exciting time for tech fans, with new versions of the top three mobile operating systems incoming, and scores of new devices on the way over the next couple of months. With so many big announcements on the horizon, you might have expected a quiet August across the tech world – but over the past week, there’s been no respite from the relentless pace of official announcements, juicy rumors and spyshots of new stuff on the way.
We begin this week with the rather unpleasant situation surrounding Ashley Madison, the site that encouraged users to sign up in the hopes of pursuing an extramarital affair. Hackers recently demanded that the site be taken down, but after its owners did not do so, the hackers dumped data relating to Ashley Madison’s 32 million customers on to the web earlier this week. The group behind the attack, which identifies itself as ‘Impact Team’, also published what appeared to be internal data and emails from the company a couple of days later.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s new smartphone OS remains in development, ahead of its launch later this year. Last week, it released its first Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview for over a month. This week, we asked our readers for their impressions of that release, build 10512 – head over to the discussion, and be sure to have your say!
There was no new Mobile build this week, but Microsoft did release the first new preview build of Windows 10 for PCs since the OS launched on July 29:
- Microsoft rolls out Windows 10 Insider Preview build 10525
- What’s new
- Known issues
- Workaround for Chrome crashes in the latest build
Microsoft has pushed out three cumulative updates to Windows 10 since its launch, delivering bug fixes and security patches. However, the company said this week that it will no longer break down what’s included in these incremental update rollups; detailed release notes will now be reserved only for more ‘significant’ updates.
The company released an update this week for its Surface Pro 2 and Pro 3 tablets, which it says will bring enhanced graphics performance, along with improved stability for those running Windows 10 on the devices.
The Surface Pro 4 will be among a wide range of new devices – including the Band 2 and new Lumia flagships – that Microsoft will unveil at a launch event in October, as we exclusively reported several weeks ago. This week, another news outlet apparently confirmed much of what we’d previously shared, and it certainly seems that everything is on track for that October hardware extravaganza.
Microsoft is continuing to upgrade PCs around the world to Windows 10, and it seems that that process is going well. The OS has now been installed on over 53 million devices; that's around 4.95% of the total PC market.
With Windows 10 now publicly available – and Microsoft rolling out regular updates to fix bugs and patch other issues – we asked our readers this week if they’re sticking with the Windows Insider program. While Insiders get access to new builds and features ahead of others, there may well be some temptation to opt for the stable public releases instead – particularly for those who don’t have a spare PC on which to test new builds.
Will you remain a Windows Insider? Be sure to cast your vote in our latest poll
Windows Hello is a new biometric authentication system in Windows 10, which can sign you in to your PC almost instantly - not with a password or even a fingerprint, but simply by scanning your face. The technology behind it is certainly impressive – and in fact, it’s even better than we had previously realized, as the system is able to distinguish between identical twins. While the feature is baked into Windows 10, though, it requires new-generation hardware in order to function.
Another hardware-dependent feature coming to Windows 10 is the ability to wake your PC with your voice. Intel showed off its new Smart Sound technology this week, which allows users to call out ‘Hey Cortana, wake up my PC’ to turn their computer back on and ready for action.
Intel’s 6th-generation Skylake processors made their way into several headlines this week:
- Core i7 Skylake processor reaches nearly 7GHz
- Skylake processors for mobile workstations
- Information about mobile Skylake processors officially revealed
- Unlocked Skylake-K processors heading to laptops
The results of a survey published this week – which monitored posts on social media to gauge reactions – indicate that users’ sentiments towards Windows 10 and Cortana have been overwhelmingly positive so far. Still, one survey alone isn’t exactly irrefutable evidence of the operating system’s success, but it certainly looks like Windows 10 is off to a good start with consumers.
Microsoft’s Office 365 got some good press this week, as it emerged that authorities in an Italian municipality have abandoned their OpenOffice deployment, in favor of a return to Office. The local government had spent years – and far money than they’d expected – trying to get the open source solution to work, but an independent study commissioned by the authorities showed that savings of up to 80% could be made by ditching OpenOffice for Office 365.
It also rolled out a security update on Wednesday, patching a vulnerability in all supported versions of Internet Explorer, which allowed users to gain access to a PC with the same user privileges as the legitimate user.
It’s been a while since we heard about the new Halo TV series with Steven Spielberg as executive producer – but this week, cable network Showtime confirmed that it’s still “in very active development”, although it offered no further info on when it will get its TV premiere.
Microsoft has been sending out notifications to users of Comcast’s Xfinity app on the Xbox 360, informing them that the app will be withdrawn, and removed from their consoles, on September 1.
Microsoft recently confirmed that it will fully roll out Xbox 360 backward compatibility on its Xbox One later this year, with support for over 100 titles at launch. But this week, Phil Spencer revealed that he has had numerous discussions with his engineers about the possibility of also introducing support for playing games designed for the original Xbox on its latest console.
The Xbox One also picked up support for 1080p/60fps game streaming to Windows 10 PCs in an update that arrived shortly after Microsoft announced that the feature was on the way.
This article is brought to you in partnership with Neowin.