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Enlarge / Where's the defense and cyber-weapon procurement budget going, Mr. President-elect? (credit: Getty Images | Joe Raedle) Since Election Day, President-elect Donald Trump has taken an inordinate interest in some of the minutia of defense policy. His tweets (particularly about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Air Force One presidential aircraft replacement program) have sent shockwaves through the defense industry. The same is true of the cyber realm—particularly in his treatment of the intelligence community that currently dominates the US' cyber-defense capabilities. The one thing that is certain is that Trump wants more muscle in both departments, urging an increase in the number of troops, ships, planes, and weapons deployed by the Department of Defense; the end of defense budget sequestration; and an expansion of the US nuclear and ballistic missile defense arsenal. And he has also pledged a new focus on offensive "cyber" capabilities, as outlined by his campaign, "to deter attacks by both state and non-state actors and, if necessary, to respond appropriately." That sort of aggressive posture is not a surprise. But the policies that will drive the use of those physical and digital forces are still a bit murky. Considering the position Trump has taken regarding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and his attitudes toward Russia, Trump's statements may hint at a desire for a Fortress America—armed to the teeth and going it alone in every domain of conflict. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Photograph by Peter Kaminski) The US Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Oracle America, saying the software giant systemically pays Caucasian male workers more than their counterparts with the same job title. The lawsuit also says Oracle favors Asians in hiring for certain roles, which results in discrimination against non-Asian employees. The lawsuit is the result of an investigation that began in 2014. In a statement issued on the lawsuit, the Dept. of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) says that Oracle wouldn't comply with "routine requests for employment data and records" during the investigation. OFCCP tried for "almost a year" to resolve the matter before filing suit. Federal contracting rules prohibit Oracle from employment discrimination. If Oracle doesn't stop the discrimination alleged in the lawsuit, OFCCP has requested that all of company's government contracts be canceled and that it be prevented from entering into future federal contracts. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Microsoft will cease updating Minecraft Pocket Edition for its own Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile, reports Windows Central. Although the game will continue to be available in the store, it's apparently no longer being maintained or updated. The reason for this move is reported to be that so few people play the game on the platform that it's not worth maintaining. Minecraft has a somewhat complicated development history. There are multiple versions of the block-building zombie fighting game developed in parallel. The original Minecraft, built for PCs and with a rich ecosystem of third-party extensions, is a Java application. Console versions of Minecraft appear to use a C++ port of the Java version, with a console controller-friendly interface. Minecraft Pocket Edition is a C++ application with a user interface that's tailored for smartphones. Multiplayer is generally limited to the same stream of development; Pocket Edition players on different platforms can play with each other, but Java edition players can only play with other Java edition players, and the console editions only allow multiplayer with other people on the same console. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 29: A Chinese man wears a mask as he waits to cross the road near the CCTV building during heavy smog on November 29, 2014, in Beijing, China. (credit: Kevin Frayer) This week, China’s Energy Administration issued a directive to cancel planning and construction on 85 coal plants in the country, according to The New York Times. An additional 18 were ordered to be canceled late last year. The 103 plants represent an astounding 120GW of electricity that would have come online for the country in the coming years. The coal plants on the chopping block span 13 provinces, mostly in China’s northern and western regions. The Times reports that China’s Energy Administration was quite specific on which plants must halt development, but it’s unclear whether locals will immediately adhere to the directive—some of these plants have been under construction for 10 years already, and local officials may be reluctant to abandon those projects and fire the construction workers. The cancellation is indicative of an economic imbalance that external environmental trackers have noted for a while—China has over-invested in coal power plants, with its existing capacity “being used less than half the time” according to Carbon Tracker. The International Energy Agency (IEA) notes that China produces more than 900GW of coal-sourced electricity a year, making it the biggest energy-related carbon polluter in the world. The country has promised to limit its coal-based electricity generation to 1,100GW a year by 2020, and this new directive will help China reach that goal. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Aurich x Getty) If you have any legally incriminating information sitting in your PSN account, don't count on the Fourth Amendment to protect it from "unreasonable search and seizure" by Sony without a warrant. A district court judge in Kansas has ruled in a recent case that information Sony finds has been downloaded to a PlayStation 3 or a PSN account is not subject to the "reasonable expectation of privacy" that usually protects evidence obtained without a warrant. The case involves Michael Stratton, who went by the handle Susan_14 on PSN. According to Sony, Stratton was reported to PSN multiple times for sending spam messages asking about interest in child pornography. After reviewing the Susan_14 account in response to these complaints, Sony found that several images containing child porn had been downloaded by and uploaded to the account. Sony shared information about the Susan_14 account and the images with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The NCMEC then coordinated with the FBI to get additional information about Susan_14's e-mail address and IP address from Google and CenturyLink via subpoena. This action led to a warrant on Stratton's Kansas home, the discovery of child pornography stored on his PS3, and his arrest. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Apple has added Touch Bar support to Logic Pro along with a bunch of other features. (credit: Apple) Apple has released major updates to its Logic Pro X audio recording and editing software for macOS and the lighter-but-free GarageBand app for iOS, introducing big new features and improving compatibility between the two apps. A more minor update to GarageBand for macOS, which includes no major new features but compatibility updates for the iOS version, has also been released. Logic Pro X version 10.3 is the latest app to pick up support for the new MacBook Pro's Touch Bar. It adds controls for skimming through and tuning specific tracks on the Touch Bar's screen, as well as a touchscreen keyboard and drum pads and customizable key commands. There are updates for the Touch Bar-free majority of the iOS userbase, too. An updated UI expands the number of colors available to label your tracks, can auto-zoom horizontally as your songs get longer, and can show the waveforms for audio files that are being trimmed. The tweaked design also "improves legibility in a variety of lighting conditions." On the production end of things, you can create playlists of different regions and edits on a track to listen to alternate versions of a song you're working on and get better control over your stereo channels, among other things. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A newly discovered family of Mac malware has been conducting detailed surveillance on targeted networks, possibly for more than two years, a researcher reported Wednesday. The malware, which a recent Mac OS update released by Apple is detecting as Fruitfly, contains code that captures screenshots and webcam images, collects information about each device connected to the same network as the infected Mac, and can then connect to those devices, according to a blog post published by anti-malware provider Malwarebytes. It was discovered only this month, despite being painfully easy to detect and despite indications that it may have been circulating since the release of the Yosemite release of OS X in October 2014. It's still unclear how machines get infected. "The first Mac malware of 2017 was brought to my attention by an IT admin, who spotted some strange outgoing network traffic from a particular Mac," Thomas Reed, director of Mac offerings at Malwarebytes, wrote in the post. "This led to the discovery of a piece of malware unlike anything I've seen before, which appears to have actually been in existence, undetected for some time, and which seems to be targeting biomedical research centers." Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Kārlis Dambrāns) A Minnesota appellate court ruled Tuesday against a convicted burglar who was forced by a lower state court to depress his fingerprint on his seized phone, which unlocked it. This case, State of Minnesota v. Matthew Vaughn Diamond, marks the latest episode in a string of unrelated cases nationwide that test the limits of digital privacy, modern smartphone-based fingerprint scanners, and constitutional law. In 2015, Diamond went to trial and was convicted of the burglary and two other lesser charges. He was sentenced to 51 months in prison. Diamond appealed largely on the grounds that being ordered to unlock his phone constituted a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood (R) at a news conference in 2015. (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images) Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is sparring with Google once more. Last year, Hood and Google wound down a court dispute over Hood's investigation into how Google handles certain kinds of online content, from illegal drug ads to pirated movies. E-mails from the 2014 Sony hack showed that Hood's investigation was spurred on, in part, by lobbyists from the Motion Picture Association of America. Now Hood has a new bone to pick with the search giant. Yesterday, Hood filed a lawsuit (PDF) against Google in Lowndes County Chancery Court, saying that the company is gathering personal data on students who use Google's G Suite for Education, (previously called Google Apps for Education). Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Photograph by Beer Coaster) Cloud backup provider Backblaze has launched a new business-oriented backup service called Business Groups that gives its low-cost cloud backup service enterprise manageability and administration. Backblaze does betray its non-enterprise origins, however, by offering clear pricing without hiding behind "ask us for a quote" forms; $5 per month per PC, or $50 per year. Backblaze's cloud backup service is something of a novelty. That $50 per year gets you unlimited cloud storage, and while other cloud backup providers have offered unlimited storage, many of them have scaled back those offerings because they don't make anything from them. Backblaze, by contrast, maintains that it actually makes money from its service, on account of the dirt-cheap storage it designs and uses, which costs just a fraction of what services like Amazon S3 and Azure Storage do. The company added a programmatic cloud storage service, named B2, to its backup plan in 2015. B2 offers developers substantially lower costs, albeit without geographical replication or other features of the more-expensive cloud providers. The company positions this as ideal for cheap backups or replicas of data that is primarily stored in another cloud provider. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The Sun is apparently setting on Solaris, based on Oracle's latest roadmap. Rumors have been circulating since late last year that Oracle was planning to kill development of the Solaris operating system, with major layoffs coming to the operating system's development team. Others speculated that future versions of the Unix platform Oracle acquired with Sun Microsystems would be designed for the cloud and built for the Intel platform only and that the SPARC processor line would meet its demise. The good news, based on a recently released Oracle roadmap for the SPARC platform, is that both Solaris and SPARC appear to have a future. The bad news is that the next major version of Solaris—Solaris 12— has apparently been canceled, as it has disappeared from the roadmap. Instead, it's been replaced with "Solaris 11.next"—and that version is apparently the only update planned for the operating system through 2021. The new SPARC roadmap has some missing destinations. With its on-premises software and hardware sales in decline, Oracle has been undergoing a major reorganization over the past two years as it attempts to pivot toward the cloud. Those changes led to a major speed bump in the development cycle for Java Enterprise Edition, a slowdown significant enough that it spurred something of a Java community revolt. Oracle later announced a new roadmap for Java EE that recalibrated expectations, focusing on cloud services features for the next version of the software platform. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: University of Liverpool) There are reportedly still thousands of Verizon Wireless customers using the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which was discontinued shortly after its unveiling last year when at least 140 of the devices overheated or caught fire. Verizon is now stepping its efforts up a notch by redirecting non-emergency phone calls made by the potentially explosive Note 7 to Verizon customer service. "In spite of our best efforts, there are still customers using the recalled phones who have not returned or exchanged their Note 7 to the point of purchase," a Verizon spokesperson told Fortune yesterday. "The recalled Note 7s pose a safety risk to our customers and those around them." From now on, "all outgoing calls not directed toward the 911 emergency service will only connect to customer service," the report said. "Because Note 7 users have also already been reimbursed for the cost of the long-since recalled Note 7, Verizon is also saying it might bill the holdouts for the full retail cost of the phone." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The wall on the left side of this picture should really be about half as big as the one on the right to reflect sales reality. Microsoft stopped providing concrete sales data for its Xbox line years ago, making it hard to get a read on just how well the Xbox One is doing in the market compared to Sony's PlayStation 4. Recent numbers released by analysts this week, though, suggest that Sony continues to dominate this generation of the console wars, with the PS4 now selling twice as many units worldwide as the Xbox One since both systems launched in late 2013. The first set of numbers comes from a new SuperData report on the Nintendo Switch, which offhandedly mentions an installed base of 26 million Xbox One units and 55 million PS4 units. That report is backed up by Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad, who recently tweeted a chart putting estimated Xbox One sales somewhere near the middle of the 25 million to 30 million range. Ahmad's chart suggests that Microsoft may have sold slightly more than half of the 53.4 million PS4 units that Sony recently announced it had sold through January 1. Specific numbers aside, though, it's clear Microsoft has done little to close its console sales gap with Sony over the past year—and may have actually lost ground in that time. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A report from The Information [paywall] claims that Google is going to bring its cheap smartphone initiative, Android One, to the US. Android One was originally cooked up for developing markets like India, which saw Google lay out guidelines for OEMs to make cheap smartphones that were actually good. Android One took "good enough" hardware and paired it with stock android and fast updates. The line started out with $100 devices, with a second generation moving up to the $200 range. According to the report, in the US the devices will be a little more expensive, with releases in the $200 to $300 range. The Information wasn't sure which OEM might make the phone, but floated LG as a possible partner. LG and Google are reportedly already collaborating on an upcoming smartwatch. A big question will be who is in charge of the updates on this device, since Google has flip-flopped on Android One software updates in the past. Google handed it for the first generation, which resulted in fast updates—the $100 phones were the first to get Android 5.1. After a rough reception in India, Google watered down the program, and updates changed from "direct from Google" to "from Google's hardware partners." To further complicate matters, there is still one Android One phone that gets updates direct from Google, the General Mobile 4G. It was even in the Android N beta program. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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As climate scientists predicted as early as late 2015, the final tally shows that last year has once again claimed the unfortunate distinction of warmest year on record, based on data going back to 1880. This follows on records set in 2014 and 2015—they're the combined products of long-term human-driven warming and natural variability that has pushed individual years up or down slightly. The biggest source of year-to-year variability is the oscillation between El Niño and La Niña in the tropical Pacific Ocean. In El Niño years, warm surface water flows eastward to cover up cooler, deep water; La Niñas see rising deep water pushing west against that warmer water. Depending on which conditions predominate, the average global surface temperature sits above or below the long-term trend. It’s a bit like walking up or down a step on a moving escalator. The record-strength El Niño that developed in the latter half of 2015 carried into 2016 before fading into a weak La Niña by the end of the year. The El Niño was enough to help lift 2016 to its record position. Current forecasts call for the ongoing La Niña to be a short one, with neutral conditions early next year, and possibly another El Niño on the other side. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The bullet closer, which has been viewed as a demonstration of dark matter. (credit: APOD) Throughout the Universe, there are lots of signs that there's more gravity out there than there is visible matter to produce it. Over the last few decades, physicists have slowly come to the conclusion that it is not the laws of gravity that need to be changed, but rather that a massive particle is responsible for the extra gravity. Now, it should be pointed out that this is not a whim. The distribution of dark matter describes all manner of gravitational phenomena at all scales, including some really weird things, like the Bullet Cluster. So, understandably, particle physicists and cosmologists get a bit touchy when people say that we should just modify gravity instead. Erik Verlinde, a Dutch theoretical physicist, doesn't seem to care. The alternative title to Verlinde's talk, presented at a conference I'm attending, could be "How to piss off a room full of physicists in under 20 minutes." Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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It's long been a conundrum for visitors to Japan: how do you actually use the toilet? For more than 35 years, the "washlet"—also known in some parts as the "super toilet"—has baffled the unwary traveller with its incredibly confusing array of additional functions. Each of these space-age super toilets comes with a panel of buttons festooned with inscrutable icons. Press the wrong one and you can easily end up with a sharp jet of cold water at an uncomfortable angle, or even an unexpected blow-dry for your junk. What makes the whole affair exponentially more confusing is the fact that, until now, the makers of these Swiss army-knife commodes couldn't agree on a way to standardise the images they put on the buttons. Ahead of the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics in 2020, however, with a massive influx of tourists and their bowel movements expected in the country, the manufacturers have reached a consensus. At a press conference on Tuesday, representatives from the nine companies that make up Japan's Sanitary Equipment Industry Association unveiled eight new symbols to accompany the various key functions for each new loo. Models released from April this year will all be standardised, and the manufacturers hope it might even become an international standard. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A selection of child and infant pot burials from an ancient cemetery in Adaïma, Egypt. They are between 7,500-4,700 years old. Note that some of the pots are distinctly egg-shaped. (credit: Béatrix Midant-Reynes, Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale) Around 3,500 BCE, the ancient Egyptians began to practice a ritual that has long perplexed archaeologists. They buried their dead in recycled ceramic food jars similar to Greek amphorae. For decades, scholars believed that only the poor used these large storage containers, and they did so out of necessity. But in a recent article for the journal Antiquity, Ronika Power and Yann Tristant debunk that idea. They offer a new perspective on pot burial. Burial in pots took many forms. Egyptians buried their dead in all types of ceramic vessels, and, sometimes, the body was simply placed underneath a pot in a grave. Though pot burials were popular, especially for children, people also used coffins and even stone-lined pits to inter their loved ones. The practice of pot burial probably came to Egypt from the Levant region, where pot burials date back to at least 2,000 years before the first known examples in Egypt. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Jonathan Gitlin For a while now, racing games have been pretty good. Good enough to be of value as practice tools for those of us going to the track for real, and even as a tool to find fresh talent like the long-running Nissan Playstation GT Academy. But as plenty of readers have mentioned in the comments, if you want real accuracy, you need to ditch the console and move to the PC. You need something like iRacing. Even then, sitting at your desk with a wheel and pedals will only take you so far. Enter CXC Simulations. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images) Julian Assange's lawyer has insisted that the WikiLeaks founder, who is wanted for questioning in Sweden over an allegation of rape, is "standing by" his promise to—as he characterises it—"agree to US extradition" in light of president Obama's decision to free whistleblower Chelsea Manning. However, no such US extradition ruling against Assange currently exists. For Assange to be extradited to the US, it would have to be signed off by authorities in Sweden and the UK, but no such request has been made. Assange has been holed up in cramped conditions at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012. He skipped bail after a European Arrest Warrant was issued in late 2010 by Scotland Yard cops on behalf of Swedish officials who sought the extradition of the 45-year-old Australian. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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When Android was brought to market, it was pitched as an open, customizable OS that was the antithesis of Apple's lock-down smartphone platform. While both OSes have moved closer together over the years, the high customizability of Android is still around. Last year's beginner's guide to Android customization slightly grazed the surface of what's possible with a truly adaptable OS. And now it's time for part two, diving into more advanced customization methods. Keyboards One of the earliest Android customizations was a user-replaceable keyboard. Most devices from third-party OEMs are going to come with some kind of non-Google keyboard—either an AOSP derivative branded by the OEM or a pack-in app that was sold to the highest bidder. Read 30 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge On Tuesday, Ford announced its 2018 Mustang, a refresh from the previous generation that debuted in 2015. Although Ford couldn’t share important details like fuel economy and price, the Mustang refresh seems like a thoughtful one. It has driver assist technology, a more aerodynamic design, and performance upgrades for both the 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, as well as its 5.0L V8 engine on the GT. Ars spoke to Corey Holter, Ford’s Marketing Manager for Car and Cross Vehicle Marketing, about the updates to the car. He emphasized that the EcoBoost has been successful in bringing new customers into Ford’s mix, especially millennials, people of color, and women. Before we saw the car, a spokesperson for Ford told us that the redesign of the interior and exterior of the 2018 Mustang would attract new female buyers, which admittedly put us on our guard. As a tech publication, we're all-too-familiar with the old “pink washing” gambit used so often by phone companies—that markets a product to women by slashing its specs and pandering to a perceived “female” aesthetic. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Gabe Newell and J.J. Abrams onstage at the DICE Summit in 2013. (credit: Kyle Orland) Valve Software chief Gabe Newell logged into Reddit on Tuesday to answer questions in an "ask me anything" thread. As expected, waves of fans shouted "HALF-LIFE 3?!" as if that blurt were a question. Unsurprisingly, Newell didn't offer hard answers about any closure to Valve's beloved FPS series. He and his coworkers have dodged such questions for years now—but he did offer a mix of pessimism and optimism regarding the Half-Life universe in general. Early in the AMA, when he was asked what his favorite single-player Valve game was, Newell answered that it was Portal 2. A joke response from an apparent Half-Life fan prompted this Newell follow-up: Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Qualcomm licenses the 3G standards essential patents from Samsung to make the cellular radio chips Apple uses in its iPhone and iPad. The US Federal Trade Commission has charged Qualcomm with violating the FTC Act. The feds say that Qualcomm's patent-licensing policies amount to unfair competition. The FTC's redacted complaint (PDF), filed today, says that Qualcomm maintains a "no license, no chips" policy that forces cell phone to pay high royalties to Qualcomm. Qualcomm is a major supplier of baseband processors, and it also licenses patents that it says are essential to widely adopted cellular standards. According to the FTC complaint, Qualcomm won't sell baseband processors unless a customer takes a license to Qualcomm's standard-essential patents, on Qualcomm's terms. And Qualcomm has refused to license its standard-essential patents to competitors, which the FTC says violates Qualcomm's commitment to license on a "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory" or FRAND basis. Agreeing to FRAND licensing terms is required by the standard-setting organizations to which Qualcomm belongs. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: MSPoweruser) The Windows Store—which already includes apps, games, movies, and TV shows—is going to include books in the Creators Update. This is according to pictures obtained by MSPoweruser. Based on images from an internal Windows 10 Mobile build, books will have their own dedicated section within the Store. The whole process will work much the same way as it does for any other purchase. It appears that Microsoft is not building a dedicated reading application for these purchases. Instead, the Edge browser in the Creators Update has been updated to include support for EPUB books, affording some customization of their appearance in the browser's reading mode. This isn't Microsoft's first foray into the electronic book world. Long, long ago it had an app called Reader, which supported a proprietary HTML-based format. Reader was developed for Pocket PC and Windows Mobile, and notably, it was in Reader that Microsoft first used ClearType sub-pixel anti-aliasing. A Reader app was also available for desktop Windows, though not Windows Phone. The company even had its own online catalog of e-books using its proprietary format, which linked to third-party sites actually selling the books. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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