Microsoft Discloses Hololens Development Price

Whenever Microsoft showcases its Hololens technology, the world rightfully responds in awe due to the vast number of visual effects and huge potential. Yesterday, Microsoft demoed a game entitled, ‘Project X-Ray’ which revolves around menacing robots emerging from a wall. This neat in-house development is incredibly immersive as you employ a ray-gun to fend off the hordes of devastating enemies. This is all possible through the Hololens headset which could revolutionize gaming in the future.

Virtual Reality is certainly the next major technological innovation and the exuberance and tactile nature of Microsoft’s Hololens is difficult to beat. Developers are already working in tandem with Microsoft to create new and unusual experiences. Also, the headset could be used for non-gaming purposes to train apprentices in a more practical manner.

As with any pioneering technology, the initial cost is quite high and only really aimed at development studios. Microsoft has set the Hololens developer pricing at $3000 which is surprisingly affordable given its financial potential in games and other software. Clearly, in the next 10 years, Hololens will become more accessible to consumers in terms of price of availability. During the presentation, members of the public expressed their feelings on social media and it was overwhelmingly positive. As a software company, Microsoft took a risk to enter the hardware market and it seems to be finally paying off.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3rNIxMlKmI

What do you think of the Hololens?

SoftMaker Office 2016 Suite Launched in the UK

There aren’t that many office suites on the market, but there are few. There is the big Microsoft Office, Open and Libre Office, and then there is SoftMaker Office that often is referred to as the real alternative to Microsoft’s offer. The newest version is out and available in the UK too, SoftMaker Office 2016 for Windows.

SoftMaker Office 2016 doesn’t need a lot of storage space on your system which is particular useful on systems with smaller capacity NAND storage at their disposal and it offers fast speeds even on older systems with less advanced hardware. Best of all, it is compatible with all versions of Microsoft Office so you won’t run into file compatibility issues. It can both be used directly from a USB drive or be installed from it, allowing you a real plug and play where ever you go.

The new version boasts 400 improvements over the previous version and comes with more advanced features. It won’t cost you as much as a Microsoft Office either as you’ll only have to pay £50.15 for the SoftMaker Office Standard 2016 edition. The standard edition includes office tools TextMaker, PlanMaker, and Presentations as well as customized Thunderbird email client and calendar tool with SoftMaker enhancements. Each box comes with three licenses to be used for home and business and it is fully compatible with all versions of Windows.

There is also an advanced version called SofMaker Office Professional 2016 which is available for £64.50 or as update costs of €43. This version adds high-quality Berlitz Translation Dictionaries for English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.

You can read a lot more on the official page if you’re tempted to make the switch to another office suite or looking to upgrade. Below you’ll is a list of the key highlights in this new 2016 version:

  1. Full compatibility with Microsoft Office: SoftMaker has redesigned the file filters, optimising quality and speed. This provides the highest compatibility possible with both current and older generations of Microsoft Office – both in the modern XML formats DOCX, XLSX and PPTX as well as the older binary formats DOC, XLS and PPT. SoftMaker Office now opens many Microsoft Office files much faster than Microsoft Office and can even edit some older Microsoft files which Microsoft Office 2013 is unable to open.
  2. Lightning fast even on slower machines: SoftMaker Office 2016 for Windows needs little storage space and is by far the fastest Office suite, making it an ideal choice especially for slower laptops and Windows 8 tablets.
  3. Portability: SoftMaker Office 2016 for Windows can be installed on USB sticks. This lets you take your personal office with you, wherever you go. Just plug and play.
  4. Administrative ease: SoftMaker Office 2016 for Windows can be installed in corporate networks automatically via GPO and SCCM, allowing easy deployment across large installations.
  5. Powerful: The new version of the PlanMaker spreadsheet program supports up to a million rows, letting users analyse data with pivot tables, scenarios and data consolidation. It offers conditional formatting with the same functionality as Excel 2016.
  6. Unique: TextMaker is a word processor with unique desktop-publishing features. These include master pages, an object mode that separates the text editing from the graphics layer, real-time preview of formatting and text wrapping to produce professional and finished documents.
  7. New PDF and EPUB export: Users can now create high-quality PDF files (including PDF tags, comments and bookmarks), and e-books in the ePub format directly from SoftMaker Office.
  8. Productive: SoftMaker Office 2016 for Windows includes customised versions of Mozilla‘s Thunderbird (email client) and Lightning (calendar software). This email client comes with practical, productivity-enhancing functions such as lightning-fast email moving and navigation in the folder structure. The new Thunderbird 38 included in SoftMaker Office 2016 offers important functional improvements, such as being able to store email folders in Maildir format, allowing users to circumvent the 4-gigabyte limit per folder. Gmail users will also be pleased to see that they no longer need to reduce Google’s security levels to access Gmail from Thunderbird, thanks to built-in native OAuth2 authentication in Thunderbird 38.
  9. Completely Customisable: Numerous improvements have been made to SoftMaker’s presentation programme – Presentations. The table function has been completely redesigned, a new full-screen mode added, and the software comes complete with sophisticated charting capabilities.

Minecraft May Be the ‘Killer App’ for Microsoft’s HoloLens

While the hype is still going into virtual reality, we shift focus for a bit and try to look at what augmented reality has to bring too. Microsoft just demoed how its HoloLens gear deals with augmented reality and used Minecraft as a game example on stage at E3.

Though Minecraft first appeared in a HoloLens press release earlier this year, it did not look so appealing at first. However, Microsoft really outdid themselves when they did the E3 demo. It began on a virtual TV screen, which seemed pretty normal for a presentation. But it was not until someone dragged it onto the table that got everyone so excited.

If you know Minecraft, you sort of get the 3D Lego feeling when you work around its vast world. Now picture it on a table and interacting with it from above. Pretty amazing, huh? You may not have any idea how amazing it is until you watch the video below.

Though augmented reality may seem a bit locked into certain types of games, such as crafting, building and RTS in general, Microsoft did announce it already has a partnership with Oculus for future development. Also, Microsoft is working on bringing compatibility with the SteamVR as well, so we are bound to see a lot of potential in future games.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information

Now Your Presentations Can Look As Bad As The NSA’s

Most have us under a certain age were lectured in school on how to produce a decent presentation – not to write too much content on one slide, not to use so many zany fonts and graphics… the list goes on. The thing is, the slides produced by the NSA and leaked by Edward Snowdon in 2013 seemed to go against all of those rules.

They were laughable with their silly fonts, backgrounds and poor graphics. Many of them had tons of pointless information on one slide, with little to no sense of design.

Well finally your presentations can look just as bad. Julian Oliver of the Post-Digital Publishing Archive has produced the following Libre Office templates to allow you to come up with your own evil surveillance plans. Fake ones of course.

Source: Fast Co. Design Via: p-dpa.net

BadUSB Security Flaw and What It Means

You might have heard the term BadUSB in the news sometime during the last couple of months, but it’s still not widely known. We first saw the presentation of the security flaw by Karsten Nohl during the Black Hat conference this year. While scary, it didn’t have the big impact they had hoped. Nohl decided to not release the code or anything specific on how it worked in the interest of safety. The intention behind that was to give the industry time to come up with a fix before the flaw would be widely abused by criminals.

When such a secret is known to exist, one that can have such severe consequences, people will investigate and reverse engineer it. And that is just what has happened. Two people took it upon themselves to find out just how easy this was to do and how much you actually can do with it. Security researchers Adam Caudil and Brandon Wilson presented their findings at the recent DerbyCon conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

So what is BadUSB actually. It is a dangerous USB security flaw that allows an attacker to turn a simple device such as a cheap of the shelve USB stick into almost anything. Mentioned functions are network controllers and keyboards among others. This wouldn’t just allow an attacker direct access to your system, but in theory your entire network including out of the house connections.

The really bad part about this, and the reason why Nohl didn’t release his findings to the public, these problems can’t be patched. This is a flaw and not an exploit and it works by using the very way USB is designed, to be a universal connection for anything. Since there had been complete silence from the industry about the issue since Nohl presented his findings, Caudil and Wilson decided to make everything publicly available via GitHUB. So the code is out there now, for everyone to study and use/abuse.

During the DerbyCon presentation the two showcased how they could turn a USB stick into an automated keyboard, sending keystrokes to the system as soon as it is connected. They could also completely hide partitions on the drive and turn the password protections into nothing more than a facade.

The first demonstration showcased the programmable keyboard, basically just rubber ducking. When the hacked USB thumb drive is put into their laptop, it launches a notepad and starts to send characters. In the demo it is Bart Simpson that reminds you to lock your computer when you leave your workstation.

In the second demonstration they showed how data can be hidden on the device. When the drive is plugged in you see the normal active partition with its files and folders. You can format the drive, look at it with forensic tools or whatever you can throw at it. It will not reveal anything more. That is until you eject the drive, and only then. A few seconds after you eject the drive it will come back with the second and completely hidden partition. Eject or unplug the drive again and it turns back to the public partition. This is a very effective way to hide and protect files.

The final demonstration showcases the mode 7 exploit for thumb drives, well it should have. They were pressed for time and the demo failed. Most people only know and use mode 3 that gives you a single normal partition. Mode 7 on the other hand provides you with a public and a secure partition which is protected by a user-set password. While the demonstration failed, we still got an explanation on how it works. You can turn this protection into nothing more than a facade by modifying a few bytes of the drives firmware. It will then allow you to unlock it with any eight characters you give it.

There is no defence against this, but it is possible to detect it. So you can sit and watch it happen or panic and unplug the drive. Windows can detect when a device disappears and comes back as something completely different. This doesn’t effect all demonstrations though, as the programmable keyboard doesn’t show up as HID device but only as composite storage device. So effectively there is no defence. Basically you’re dealing with a tiny computer that has full control over what happens on your USB port. It can lie to you, tell you whatever it wants and do whatever it wants.

The only way block this is by inventing a new USB standard, one that has at least some form security and validation built-in. We have to keep in mind that the thumb drives used are over the counter drives that cost about £6.00. Cheap enough to buy a bunch and just drop them around the city and public transportation; see what happens. Just wait, someone is sure to pick it up and take it home. Strategic drops could also make this an effective way of penetrating otherwise secure systems.

There are a few basic steps you can take to decrease the chance of something like this happening to you:

  • Don’t pick up thumb drives you find. If you want to be nice you should actually pick it up, but throw it in the nearest trashcan.
  • Only buy sticks from well-known brands and vendors. Don’t be tempted by cheap knock-off brands
  • Don’t lend out your sticks to people you don’t fully trust and don’t use foreign sticks in your systems from people you don’t trust. Preferable don’t even use them if you trust people. They might not know the drive is “bad”.
  • Keep your security software updated. While it might not be able to detect the flaw, it will at the very least be able to catch malware being installed.

[youtube width=”740″ height=”500″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcsxeJz3blI[/youtube]

Thank you Adrian Crenshaw providing us with these information

Microsoft Event: Conclusion

Microsoft has presented their new Windows operating system, and I’m ready to continue the coverage after I getting over the shock of the new name. While I don’t have anything against it, it just doesn’t make sense to me. Doesn’t have to, Windows 10 is on its way.

Microsoft wants to empower novice users to get better at multi tasking and are introducing the new Task View. A new button is placed on the taskbar and when pressed it that launches the function by the same name. Mac OS X users will see this as a very familiar option.

We see multiple desktops at the bottom of the interface and it also shows all the apps that currently are open. You can switch between the different desktops with multiple apps running in their own separate areas. There’s also a new Snap Assist UI at the side where you can grab apps from multiple desktops. This might not be a world-changing feature as they said during the presentation, but it is a great addition.

Microsoft is really trying to reach all users better with the new Windows 10, may they use keyboard and/or mouse or touch interfaces to control it. Ease of use and productivity have been key words the Microsoft developers as they worked on this new version.

The command prompt has been improved as well. While it still looks the same, it has gained a new very useful feature. You can now paste with CTRL+V into the prompt. Up until now you had to access a context menu via the right mouse button, something that really interfered with productivity. A minor addition, but one that will be loved. Microsoft wants to deal with all these different input methods in a way that works for them all, not just the most popular.

A thing I think many Windows 8 users would like to see gone is the charms bar. But no such luck, the charms bar is still present in Windows 10. Lets just hope that it’ll be easier to turn off or disable for those who don’t need it, as it can be a real pain on multi-monitor setups. We were told that it was an early version, so it’s most likely going to change before the final product.

Up until now it’s been mostly focused on the desktop version, but we also get a peek at the new design for the two-in-one models. Microsoft calls this new design study the continuum and below we see the start menu as it looks for touch devices. Essentially it switches mode depending on your input. Microsoft are trying to be thoughtful about the user interface of their new cross-platform operating system.

Microsoft is launching the Insider Program tomorrow as well as the technical preview build for laptops and desktops. The preview versions for servers will follow later at an unspecified time. They’re also inviting enthusiastic fans to evaluate the new Windows with them, as they said: “We know they’re a vocal bunch.”

Microsoft is also planning to share more than ever before and earlier than ever before. “We can build a product that all of our customers will love.” We’ll be hearing more about the consumer story beginning of next year and there will be a build conference in April that will show more about the new universal apps. The actual product will be shipping sometime late 2015.

The first thing that was asked in the following Q&A round was about pricing and upgrades for Windows XP and Seven users. But no such luck at this time, this event was about the product family and the presentation of the new direction they’re taking. The naming choice was the next thing that was asked, to which the response was that once you see the improvements, you’ll agree with the decision to skip a number.

To the question about what insiders would get access to we got this reply: “We’ve never done this before. Hopefully you become an Insider, you’ll see things you haven’t seen before. There will be forums available for discussions amongst insiders, and our engineering team will be available.” So it’s a direct feedback line. Microsoft doesn’t want a repeat of the Windows 8 fiasco, and getting the users involved early seems a great way to avoid this.

Some one also joked if we would see Windows versions named after big cats now that we’ve gotten to version 10, but the answer to that was: “Probably not.” This wraps up the news surrounding the event in San Francisco, but we’ll keep you updated with the newest things about this operating system as they become available.

Thank you TheVerge for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of TheVerge

Microsoft Event: The New Windows Is Being Presented

We’ve seen the leaks and we’ve heard the rumours; now it’s time for some facts. The Microsoft Windows event in San Francisco is upon us and we’ll finally find out what the future of Windows will bring.

Microsoft held the event rather small and very few guests were invited. While not everyone could be there at such an event, it makes for a better and more intimate presentation. When the attendees entered the room they could spot Windows logos everywhere and some test systems that weren’t powered yet; but there weren’t any obvious hints towards the version number or name.

When the clock finally hit 6:00 PM local time, the Windows chief Terry Myerson entered the stage. He started by telling that half a billion people are using Microsoft Windows today and there are even more devices that run it. “For one audience the world still hasn’t changed, that’s our developers. Still too much to do and not enough time,” said Myerson.

“Windows is at a threshold and now it’s time for a new Windows.” The new windows is build from the ground up with a mobile-first cloud-first world in mind. But a name still hasn’t been revealed. Most people have been speculated on Windows 9 up until now, but that wouldn’t be the right choice according to Microsoft. To much has changed.

Windows One would be fitting, but that’s already been used, Myerson teases the audience. The new version of the worlds leading operating system will be called Microsoft Windows 10. Yes you read right. The new name shocked quite a few people, but I don’t see any problem with it.

It looks like Microsoft wants to abandon all the different versions and just have one operating system. One unified system that allows customers to work, play and connect between all their devices. Windows 10 will run on the broadest types of devices ever and will be just one application platform. “One store, one way for applications to be discovered, purchased, and updated across all of these devices.”

Myerson went on to ensure how valuable the enterprise customers are to Microsoft. They need to evaluate Windows early and as such Windows has started their dialogue with them today. It promises a familiar experience and all the tools they’re used to finding. “Windows 10 will be compatible with all the traditional management systems used today.”

Thank you TheVerge for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of TheVerge

NVIDIA Celebrate Their Love for PC Gaming with 24-Hour Event

If there is one thing almost all of our readers can agree on, then it’s that  PC gaming is awesome. NVIDIA thinks so too and launches it’s Game24 event, a worldwide, multinational event running over a period of 24 hours. And all this to celebrate PC gaming.

The event is scheduled for the 18th September starting at 6PM PDT (1AM GMT) and will run to the same time the next day. Besides the goal of celebrating the thing we all love, PC Gaming, the event will be packed with exclusive content, developer interviews, game reveals and give-aways.

The main physical events will be hosted in Los Angeles, London and Shanghai with satellite events held in Chicago, Mission Veijo, Indianapolis and Stockholm. The whole thing will be accompanied by a live stream on NVIDIA’s GAME24 page to bring everyone 24 hours of PC gaming entertainment.

If you would like to attend one of the physical events, you’ll need to register on the GAME24 page at NVIDIA and check-in that way. Everyone else is free to join the stream from home when it goes live, without any signup or registration.

Speculations and rumours about a presentation of the next generation NVIDIA GPU’s have already started, but only time will tell if that turns out to be true.

Thank you NVIDIA for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of NVIDIA.