posted 14 days ago on OSNews
This news will probably fall through the cracks in most reporting about Microsoft's massive layoffs, but aside from the Nokia X, Microsoft is also killing off Series 40 and Asha. Nokia might have been famous for its feature phones, but Microsoft is planning to wind that business down over the course of the next 18 months. In an internal memo sent to Microsoft employees, Jo Harlow, who heads up the phone business under Microsoft devices, reveals the focus is very much on Windows Phone. Development and investment for Asha, Series 40, and Nokia X handsets will shift to what is described as "maintenance mode," and services to support existing devices will be shut down over the next 18 months. "This means there will be no new features or updates to services on any mobile phones platform as a result of these plans," says Harlow, in the internal memo seen by The Verge. The story of Series 40 started in 1999 with the iconic Nokia 7110, and it will now end with the Nokia Asha 210 (I think?), or the Nokia Asha 230 if you consider the Asha Software Platform to be Series 40 (nobody really seems to know for sure just how related the two are). In 2012 Nokia announced it had sold over 1.5 billion Series 40 devices, making it one of the most successful software platforms of all time. It makes sense for Microsoft to kill these platforms. Windows Phone handles devices with lower specifications relatively well, something which the company will hopefully only improve. It does mean the end of an iconic operating system that is intrinsically tied to Nokia, a company who spread the mobile phone and its infrastructure to all four corners in the world, paving the way for pompous phone upstarts like Apple and Google. One small tidbit I will always associate with Series 40 and Nokia are the signal reception and battery life bars flanking the sides of the early Series 40 user interface like the pillars of the Parthenon. Beautifully elegant and clever use of the limited screen real estate available at the time.

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posted 14 days ago on OSNews
As expected, Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella has just announced an absolutely massive amount of layoffs. With this in mind, we will begin to reduce the size of our overall workforce by up to 18,000 jobs in the next year. Of that total, our work toward synergies and strategic alignment on Nokia Devices and Services is expected to account for about 12,500 jobs, comprising both professional and factory workers. It's clear where the focus of the layoffs lies: Nokia Devices and Services. When Lumia sales couldn't keep up with the rest of the market or Nokia's collapsing Symbian sales, people stated "Nokia is fine!". When Microsoft had to bail out Nokia's devices division to make sure it wouldn't die or be sold off to a competitor, these same people maintained that "Nokia is fine!". Now that Microsoft will layoff half of the Nokia staff it acquired, I'm sure people will still maintain that "Nokia is just fine!". Sarcasm aside, the fact that 66% of the layoffs will consist of former Nokia staff further confirms what I have been saying all along: Microsoft purchased Nokia's devices division to make sure that Nokia wouldn't go Android (Nokia X!), that Nokia wouldn't sell its troublesome devices division to a competitor, or, worse yet, that Nokia would eventually be forced to shut it down altogether. In short, Microsoft acquired Nokia's devices division to save Windows Phone. The evidence is out there for all to see, and denying this at this point borders on the pathetic. Anywho, this is terrible news for all the people involved, but with this industry doing relatively well, I hope they will be able to find new jobs easily. There are quite a number of companies who would love to get their hands on Nokia talent, so let's all wish them the best of luck in the weeks and months ahead. Not unsurprisingly, Nadella specifically announced the end of the Nokia X Android endeavour. In addition, we plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows. This builds on our success in the affordable smartphone space and aligns with our focus on Windows Universal Apps. Microsoft plans to continue selling and supporting existing Nokia X products, so if you've bought one you'll at least continue to get support. If you were thinking about buying one - I really, really wouldn't.

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posted 15 days ago on OSNews
We know you've been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be. Thank you for expressing your opinions so passionately, and thanks for continuing to make Google+ the thoughtful community that it is. Good move, but Google+? Who cares about Google+?

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posted 16 days ago on OSNews
KDE proudly announces the immediate availability of Plasma 5.0, providing a visually updated core desktop experience that is easy to use and familiar to the user. Plasma 5.0 introduces a new major version of KDE's workspace offering. The new Breeze artwork concept introduces cleaner visuals and improved readability. Central work-flows have been streamlined, while well-known overarching interaction patterns are left intact. Plasma 5.0 improves support for high-DPI displays and ships a converged shell, able to switch between user experiences for different target devices. Changes under the hood include the migration to a new, fully hardware-accelerated graphics stack centered around an OpenGL(ES) scenegraph. Plasma is built using Qt 5 and Frameworks 5. This is a pretty major release, and while the cosmetic stuff isn't all cleaned up yet, I like the new design direction the team is taking - not a huge departure from what came before, but they seem to be making it look a little less... KDE-ish, if that makes any sense. I'll be waiting on a few point releases, but I definitely want to try this out. I've always been a fan of KDE - stumbles notwithstanding - because it puts a lot of control in the user's hands to shape the user interface into what she wants. That's a very rare thing to come by these days, and we should cherish it.

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posted 16 days ago on OSNews
Apple and IBM have... Entered into a partnership. The new IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions will be built in an exclusive collaboration that draws on the distinct strengths of each company: IBM's big data and analytics capabilities, with the power of more than 100,000 IBM industry and domain consultants and software developers behind it, fused with Apple's legendary consumer experience, hardware and software integration and developer platform. The combination will create apps that can transform specific aspects of how businesses and employees work using iPhone and iPad, allowing companies to achieve new levels of efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction - faster and easier than ever before. This year marks the 30th anniversary of this, so maybe it's simply fitting. In any case, this stuff isn't exactly sexy, but it looks like a great partnership for both companies.

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posted 16 days ago on OSNews
It's a widespread convention that the Ctrl+F keyboard shortcut initiates a Find operation. Word does it, Excel does it, Wordpad does it, Notepad does it, Internet Explorer does it. But Outlook doesn't. Why doesn't Outlook get with the program? Before clicking the link to go to the full story, try to guess the answer. I'm pretty sure you're going to be wrong.

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posted 16 days ago on OSNews
Starting today, the Lumia Windows Phone 8 smartphone family will receive the Lumia Cyan software, the new Windows Phone 8.1 update and Lumia features upgrade that will make your Lumia an even more personal, fun and indispensable part of your life. Windows Phone 8.1 is a must-have - those of us who have been running the developer preview thing know that quite well. The update will come to Windows Phone 8 Lumia devices over the coming weeks in Microsoft's usual staggered rollout. I haven't seen any information yet regarding non-Microsoft Windows Phone devices.

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posted 16 days ago on OSNews
Google's Project Ara is such a drastic departure from the hardware designs that make up mainstream smartphones that it's pretty impressive to see just how swiftly progress is moving forward on the effort. From the earliest announcement back in the fall of last year, we've moved on to developer conferences and the release of the Ara Module Developers Kit. Now it's nearly time for Ara's next phase to begin, as Google prepares to distribute the dev boards that will let hardware makers continue with work towards creating the modules that will go into Ara devices. Will this project go anywhere? No idea. Will it change the smartphone world forever? Probably not. Is it awesome? Pretty much, yeah. Runaway success or no, I like this crazy idea.

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posted 16 days ago on OSNews
Microsoft has disabled an option to set Google as the default search engine on its latest Lumia Windows Phones. The option is currently supported on the majority of Nokia's Lumia devices, thanks to an advanced setting in Internet Explorer on Windows Phone 8.0. Microsoft acquired Nokia’s phone business in April, and the company's first handsets, the Lumia 630 and Lumia 930, are shipping without the option on Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft has never allowed Windows Phone users to alter the physical search button behavior, which defaults to Bing, but Internet Explorer users could enable the setting to use the address bar to search within Google instead of manually navigating to the search engine or using the Bing default. Oh my god Microsoft give it up already.

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posted 17 days ago on OSNews
Microsoft has announced a pricing offensive versus Google's Chromebooks. Microsoft is aiming straight for Google's Chromebooks this holiday season. At the company's partner conference today, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner revealed that HP is planning to release a $199 laptop running Windows for the holidays. Turner didn't provide specifications for HP's "Stream" device, but he did detail $249 laptop options from Acer and Toshiba. Acer's low-cost laptop will ship with a 15.6-inch screen and a 2.16GHz Intel Celeron processor, and Toshiba's includes a 11.6-inch display. It appears that Intel's Celeron chips will help Microsoft's PC partners push out cheaper devices in the race to the bottom. Turner also revealed that HP is planning to release 7- and 8-inch versions of its new "Stream" PCs for $99 this holiday season, both running versions of Windows. Any takers?

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posted 20 days ago on OSNews
If you think only Apple, Google, Intel, and several other technology companies flagrantly broke the law by illegally robbing their employees of wages - think again. As it turns out, the digital animation industry - centering around Steve Jobs' Pixar, unsurprisingly - was just as bad. [Pixar's] Catmull's deposition and emails from the lawsuit confirm that he was instrumental in operating a secret wage-theft cartel that violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. But it's even worse than you think. The cartel orchestrated in large part by Catmull robbed potential wages and job opportunities from thousands of animation industry workers at other studios, including DreamWorks, Lucasfilm, Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers, the now-defunct Orphanage, and Walt Disney Animation Studios. Pando Daily has the meat on this story (here and here). The wage fixing scandal is way, way more sprawling than anyone could have originally anticipated. The sad thing is that the criminals behind this illegal behaviour - Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Eric Schmidt, George Lucas, Ed Catmull, and many, many more - will never have to face any serious consequences for their crimes.

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posted 20 days ago on OSNews
Samsung has delayed its first Tizen phone yet again (this one). The official launch was to come at Thursday's event for Tizen developers in Moscow, complete with market-ready products. But, in an echo of Samsung's most recent failure to launch a Tizen smartphone - in Japan earlier this year - the launch was canceled just days earlier. Samsung provided no concrete date for the rollout of the commercial version of the phone at the developer summit but said in a statement Thursday that "the smartphone will appear on the Russian market later, when we can offer our users a fullest portfolio of applications". While few people will care about this delay, there is one small group to whom this will be devastating news. In all seriousness, nobody - not even Samsung itself - sees Tizen as a serious option or competitor to Android, and this news only serves to make that even clearer. Certain people keep trying to posit Tizen as some sort of huge threat to Android or as a sign that Samsung is seriously considering dumping Android (presumably thereby crippling Android and Google), but anyone with even the remotest bit of sense realises this makes about as much sense as a software patent. No amount of wishful thinking is going to make Tizen happen.

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posted 20 days ago on OSNews
However, I still field plenty of questions from lots of people about this, and a lot of the time, it's extremely simple stuff: "What is X?" "How does it interact with my graphics card and mouse/keyboard?" "What do apps use X for?" "What is Wayland, and how does it fit into the picture?" "What problems did X have that made us want to write new display server technologies?" These sort of questions were what inspired me to write "The Linux Graphics Stack" in the first place, but there's really never been a comprehensive, historical writeup of our display server technologies in general. So, I chose to spend my free time at Red Hat writing it. A very fun look at what X actually is - including embedded X server sessions running in your browser using HTML5 canvas. Fancy.

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posted 20 days ago on OSNews
Great keyboards are in our DNA. With BlackBerry Passport, we set out to create a smartphone that would break some cherished rules in order to set a new bar for real productivity. In particular, BlackBerry Passport's keyboard will show there is an easier way to do more. This is exactly the kind of stuff I want to see from BlackBerry: instead of trying to copy everyone else and build yet another black glass slab, they should build on their strength and go from there. The Passport looks to be exactly that. I have no idea if anyone cares or if it's too late, but I love this thing.

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posted 21 days ago on OSNews
Accessibility is something that seldom gets the attention it deserves. Most of us go about our day without ever wondering how accessible an iPhone or iPad or Mac is to the blind or the deaf, to those with autism or motor disfunction, or how accessible the apps that run on them are. Yet there are people who do care deeply about accessibility. Those who need iPhones and iPads and Macs to be ever-more accessible, of course, and those working to make iPhone and iPads and Macs ever-more accessible. Among technology companies, Apple does a tremendous job not only implementing accessibility, but promoting it and prioritizing it as well. And it starts at the very top. An area where Apple leads. It might not be an area that's considered very sexy or flashy, but it's hugely important for large numbers of people.

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posted 21 days ago on OSNews
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has just published a letter to employees about... Uh, yeah, about what exactly? The day I took on my new role I said that our industry does not respect tradition - it only respects innovation. I also said that in order to accelerate our innovation, we must rediscover our soul - our unique core. We must all understand and embrace what only Microsoft can contribute to the world and how we can once again change the world. I consider the job before us to be bolder and more ambitious than anything we have ever done. I've read through the whole thing - twice - but I still have no idea what I'm supposed to take from this. There's nothing concrete, nothing we haven't heard before - it's so vague that I'm not really sure it even has a point to begin with. I think it's supposed to announce some sort of change in direction, but that's the problem - there isn't one. Especially these two successive paragraphs are startling. More recently, we have described ourselves as a "devices and services" company. While the devices and services description was helpful in starting our transformation, we now need to hone in on our unique strategy. At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more. What's the difference between "devices and services" and "mobile-first and cloud-first"? That's the problem with vague, abstracted drivel from company executives. It's essentially homeopathic communication - so watered down it's essentially just water with zero medicinal effects.

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posted 22 days ago on OSNews
Another Xbox One communication failure by Microsoft - but this time, with a good outcome, sort of. At launch, the company promised that every Xbox One could eventually be used as a development kit, but comments by Microsoft's Martin Fuller earlier today made it clear that idea was dropped and not going to happen. Turns out, though, that Fuller was wrong. "The comments today were inaccurate. We remain committed to ensuring the best possible solutions for developers and hobbyists to create games for Xbox One. We will share more details at a later date," said the Microsoft representative. I would have liked a more resolute confirmation here - "best possible solutions" could be anything - but I'm hoping Microsoft persists with the idea of turning every Xbox One into a development kit. I'm sure it would lead to some amazing games that would otherwise never make it to the Xbox, and that's, after, what gaming is about.

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posted 22 days ago on OSNews
A coalition of technology companies large and small has created a sort of arms-control treaty to prevent future abuses of their intellectual property. Among Google, Canon, SAP, Newegg, Dropbox and Asana, there are nearly 300,000 patent assets on the line. But the companies aren't licensing all of each others' patents today. Instead, by agreeing to join the License on Transfer network, they promise to grant licenses to one another whenever one of those patents is sold. Clever. Sad, though, that companies have to resort to complicated tricks like this instead of just having the damn law changed to align with reality.

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posted 22 days ago on OSNews
Android's various screen sizes - how big of a problem is it, really, for developers? Not a big one, according to iOS and Android developer Russell Ivanovic: The answer tends to surprise pretty much everyone: It's not that hard, and honestly causes us less headaches than most people imagine. Firstly, the tools Google give us to lay out interfaces have supported this from day one. You've been able to define one or more layouts that scale to various sizes, and if you want to get everything perfect, you can have as many of these layouts as you like, while still keeping the one codebase. The layouts are XML, and don't live in your code. If you're an iOS developer they are pretty much the equivalent of XIB files with size classes like iOS 8. The other part people don't realise is that Android has standardised on screen resolutions for a long time now. I've long since accepted that certain complaints and issues are mostly only perpetuated by people with an agenda, even long after the actual problems are solved or no longer relevant. There's Windows and security, Apple and pricing, Android and security - you name it. In order to get a real finger on the true extent of these problems, you have to cut out the official bloggers and party parrots. Windows has been secure for almost a decade now. Apple's devices and PCs are not expensive. Android has never been insecure. These are all cases of 'fear, uncertainty, and doubt' perpetuated and/or made excessively worse than they really are by people of questionable nature.

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posted 23 days ago on OSNews
The latest updates to iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite introduce some very welcomed changes to the way Security and Privacy is dealt with on these platforms and may serve as an inspiration for others. I've gathered this information by watching over 17 hours of WWDC 2014 sessions and carefully reviewing, analyzing what was said, and writing a huge number of notes on Security, Privacy, UX and other areas which I will be publishing here in the coming weeks. A very detailed look at all that's coming to the Apple platforms in terms of privacy and security.

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posted 23 days ago on OSNews
The CentOS Project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of CentOS 7 for x86_64, including images for docker, and various cloud providers. There are many fundamental changes in this release, compared to previous releases of CentOS. Notably the inclusion of systemd, Gnome3, and a default filesystem of XFS. For more information about what makes CentOS 7 stand out, please see our release notes. CentOS 6 can be upgraded to 7, but that functionality is still being tested.

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posted 23 days ago on OSNews
The KDE Community is proud to announce KDE Frameworks 5.0. Frameworks 5 is the next generation of KDE libraries, modularized and optimized for easy integration in Qt applications. The Frameworks offer a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. There are over 50 different Frameworks as part of this release providing solutions including hardware integration, file format support, additional widgets, plotting functions, spell checking and more. Many of the Frameworks are cross platform and have minimal or no extra dependencies making them easy to build and add to any Qt application. The release candidate for Plasma 5 has also been released.

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
Visopsys has seen a new release. This maintenance release features enhanced internationalization support with Spanish and German translations, per-user settings, and extensive stability and performance improvements, most notably to the kernel memory, user input, disk I/O, and GUI subsystems. More details can be found in the changelog.

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
While most leaks concerning the Lumia series fall under the purview of Windows Phone, a recent rumor by @evleaks suggests that Microsoft may be considering launching a Lumia branded handset that runs on Android. There is no further information regarding the handset, when Microsoft intends to launch it. Nokia had previously launched Android powered handsets under the X series, but those devices ran a forked version of Android with Nokia's own digital store in lieu of Google's services. Do Lumias running Android exist? No doubt. Will they actually make it onto shelves? Honestly, I don't think anybody knows for sure at this point. The Nokia X is weird enough as it is, and I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Microsoft releasing an Android Lumia. If they do, however, the real question is going to be if it'll come with the suite of Google applications, or with nothing but Microsoft services - greatly reducing its usefulness, at least here in the west. I'd be very interested in a Lumia running Android, but only if it's got Google services. I don't think we need another Frankendroid.

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posted 27 days ago on OSNews
A Sailfish developer (third party, so not affiliated with Jolla) has developed a swipe keyboard for Jolla. It's essentially done and ready to go, but he was too afraid to release it. The reason? I'd like to release this as an open source project, but at the moment I'm not comfortable with the patent issue (I'm interested in any advice on this topic). I live in a country outside the US (and without software patents), so should I just find a code hosting service with no relation with the US? Fellow Sailfish developers and users chimed in, arguing he should be fine with releasing it as open source and hosting it outside of the US, with a warning that it should not be used in the US. He has accepted this advice, and is currently working on releasing it. While this is great news for Sailfish users, this does highlight the destructive nature of software patents. Since he's going to release the code as open source, we can be 100% sure that none of the code in there is stolen from Swype and that none of it violates the open source license governing possible other swipe-like functionality (e.g. Google's Android keyboard). Ergo, he has developed this on his own, and has produced his own code, or used code that is freely available. It's a fruit of his labour, possibly infused with code that was meant to be used in a sharing manner. And yet, despite the above, it's very likely that yes, he is violating a bunch of patents by producing this keyboard, and is, potentially, running a risk. I'm not so sure the legal advice given in the thread holds up - I'm not a lawyer, and neither are (I'm assuming) the people in the thread - but I'm at least happy he is willing to run the risk for us. Now, I ask you: is this fair? Is this the future that we want for developers and programmers? Is this the message that the United States government, its technology companies, and said companies' public advocates want to send to aspiring hobby developers the world over? Should Europe, India, China, and the rest of the world just accept this? I'm sure the proponents of software patents will wave this away to solve their state of cognitive dissonance, but I'm honestly and seriously worried about the developers who have not released, are not releasing, or will not release their code because of the bribes changing hands from Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Google, and the rest to Washington legislators. Patents are supposed to spur innovation, not hinder it.

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