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Microsoft Opens Windows 10 to Apple, Android Apps

The Gilmer Free Press

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Microsoft hopes to get more people using the next version of its Windows software on all kinds of devices, by giving them access to many of the same apps they’re already using on Apple or Android phones.

In a major strategy shift, a top executive told an audience of several thousand software developers Wednesday that Microsoft will release new tools to help them quickly adapt the apps they’ve built for Apple or Android gadgets, so they will work on smartphones, PCs and other devices that use the new Windows 10 operating system coming later this year.

On the first day of the company’s annual software conference, other executives showed off more uses for Microsoft’s holographic “augmented reality” headset, the HoloLens — although it’s not yet for sale. They also announced the official name for a new web browser, called “Edge,“ that they promised will be faster and more useful than the Internet Explorer that’s been a Microsoft mainstay for 20 years.

All those initiatives are tied to the impending release of Windows 10, the centerpiece of Microsoft’s ambitions to regain the stature it commanded when Windows-based PCs dominated the computing world. Today, after losing ground to smartphones and tablets that run software from rivals Apple and Google, Microsoft wants to make Windows 10 the universal software for PCs, phones and other Internet-connected gadgets.

“Windows 10 represents a new generation of Windows, built for an era of more personal computing,“ CEO Satya Nadella said during a keynote speech, adding that today’s consumers and corporate workers want to have the same experience when they are using a variety of devices.

Although Microsoft has previously shown off some features of Windows 10, it’s hoping to enlist an army of software developers as allies in its campaign to build enthusiasm for the new release. The company is using the three-day conference, called Build, to demonstrate more features and app-building tools, with an emphasis on mobile devices as well as PCs.

“Our goal is to make Windows 10 the most attractive development platform ever,“ vice president Terry Myerson said.

To win over consumers who use competing software, Microsoft needs to persuade outside developers, who create software for consumers and corporate clients, it’s worth their time to create new apps and programs for Windows 10.

“Getting developer buy-in is absolutely the crucial thing,“ said J.P. Gownder, a tech industry analyst at Forrester Research. He said Microsoft has struggled with a “chicken-and-egg” problem, in which developers have been reluctant to build mobile apps for Windows because relatively few people use Windows phones and tablets.

Currently, there are more than 1.4 million apps for Android phones and about the same for Apple devices, while there are only a few hundred thousand apps that work on Windows phones and tablets.

Microsoft’s move to help developers adapt their Apple and Android apps for Windows 10 is a major change from the past, when each company maintained rigid differences in their software platforms. Microsoft is also hoping to entice developers by promising that apps for Windows 10 will work equally well on PCs, mobile gadgets, Xbox game consoles and even the HoloLens.

The company has another big carrot to wave in front of those developers: Microsoft has already said it will release Windows 10 as a free upgrade to people who now have PCs or other gadgets running the previous two versions of Windows, provided they upgrade in the coming year. That could help create a huge new audience of Windows 10 users in a relatively short time, Gownder said.

Myerson predicted there will be a billion devices using Windows 10 within the next two to three years. Apps for all those devices will be distributed through a single Windows app store. Myerson also said Microsoft will partner with wireless carriers so consumers who lack credit cards can pay for apps on their phone bill — a popular method in developing nations.

Microsoft has not said exactly when Windows 10 is coming, although some were hoping the company would announce a date on Wednesday.

Since he became CEO last year, Nadella has been presiding over a major overhaul at Microsoft. He has redesigned some of Microsoft’s most popular programs for mobile users and invested in new “cloud-computing” services, in which businesses pay to use software that’s housed in Microsoft’s data centers.

Microsoft announced several new initiatives Wednesday for its Azure cloud-computing service, which has emerged as a fast-growing rival to a popular cloud business operated by Amazon. Microsoft is releasing new programming tools for Azure clients to create programs for computers that run Apple and Linux software, as well as those that run Windows.

Obama and Bill Nye Rip Climate Deniers in Congress Using ‘I’m Not a Scientist’ Excuse

Nye also encouraged the president to promote
“science every day in every grade,”
calling it a huge opportunity.

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President Barack Obama asked “Science Guy” Bill Nye how to promote science education in a video released by the White House on Friday, while also taking a shot at lawmakers who have argued against the existence of climate change.

“When I see members of Congress being part of the climate-denier clubs and basically stiff-arming what we know are facts — and not rebutting them with other facts but rebutting them with anecdote or just being dismissive,” Obama said before Nye interjected.

“‘Oh, I’m not a scientist,‘” Nye said, sarcastically repeating a common conservative argument against the phenomenon.

“I’m not a scientist, either, but I know a lot of scientists,” Obama replied. “I have the capacity to understand science. The capacity to look at facts and base my conclusions on evidence. Part of shifting our political culture I think, is we’ve gotta model for our kids that facts matter.”

Nye also encouraged the president to promote “science every day in every grade,” calling it a huge opportunity.

“Teaching science [at] elementary level is very inexpensive,” he said. “We fight these surprising problems about reading and arithmetic and standards problems and so on, it seems like a very solvable problem. We have to invest in the elementary grades.”

“Part of it is also, I think, our culture has to support and elevate science,” Obama said, adding, “Sometimes what we see in the popular culture is, if not a denigration then not an emphasis on science.”

Nye told CNN before the video was posted that the White House asked him to join Obama in the Florida Everglades to film the video.

“[Obama] knows I’m like-minded when it comes to the environment,” Nye said. “He didn’t bring in Marc Morano or somebody like that. I think it’s cool.”

Morano, who has been featured on Fox News on several occasions, is a blogger whose parent organization, Climate Depot, has ties to the oil industry. On Wednesday, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld argued that global warming was a trumped-up threat because the president and the former TV host flew there on Air Force One.

Watch Obama’s discussion with Nye, as posted by the White House, below.

~~  Arturo Garcia ~~

Microsoft’s “Project Spartan” Browser Is Now Called Microsoft Edge

The Gilmer Free Press

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Windows 10 is coming with lots of new features, and one of the biggest is Project Spartan. This new browser comes with an all-new engine, booting the longstanding Internet Explorer to the curb for all but legacy pages that need to retain compatibility with old pages and plugins. Today at its BUILD conference, the browser finally got a real name: Microsoft Edge, the same name as the rendering engine that powers it.

One of the new Edge features Microsoft showed off is the New Tab page, which displays your top pages, apps associated with those pages, a handful of featured apps, and some other material based on information you’ve given to Cortana.

Another major feature is Web Extensions, browser extensions written in HTML and JavaScript. Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore said that extensions could be ported from browsers like Chrome and Firefox with “just a few modifications.“ Belfiore said that the Reddit Enhancement Suite, a popular plugin that currently works with every browser but Internet Explorer, was brought over to Edge with “virtually no work.“

The BUILD keynote is ongoing.

Drivers Want New Safety Technology, But It Will Cost Them

DETROIT, MI — Drivers want more collision-prevention technology in their cars, but there is a limit to how much they will pay.

Blind spot detection, night vision and collision avoidance systems — which automatically apply the brakes if the driver doesn’t react in time — are the top three technologies drivers want on their next cars, according to a study released Wednesday by the consulting firm J.D. Power.

Drivers are much less excited about fuel-saving features, like solar roofs or active grille shutters, which open and close to improve aerodynamics. They also show little interest in wellness gadgets, like seats that measure your blood pressure, or sensors that let drivers use hand gestures to control the car’s functions.

Navigation systems also weren’t popular.

As the age of the driver goes up, the budget for new technology goes down. Generation Y buyers, who are 38 and younger, say they would spend the most — an average of $3,703 — for new technology. Generation X buyers would spend $3,007, while Baby Boomers are willing to fork over $2,416. Pre-Boomers, or those born before 1946, would spend $2,067.

The Gilmer Free Press

That might not be enough to get them all the features they want. High-tech safety features are often packaged together, and may only be available on more expensive trim levels.

To get blind spot detection and emergency automatic braking on the $94,000 Mercedes-Benz S Class, for example, buyers must first upgrade to a $4,500 premium package and then spend $2,800 for a separate safety package. A night vision system, which uses sensors and heat-seeking cameras to warn drivers of obstacles in the road, is an extra $2,260.

Prices are rapidly coming down, however, as cameras get cheaper and automakers spread out their costs by adding safety features to more and more models. Toyota said last month that automatic braking will be a $300 to $635 option on the 2016 RAV4 SUV. Right now, the company offers automatic braking on the Prius hybrid, but only as part of a $4,320 package.

For the study, which took place between January and March, J.D. Power asked 5,300 recent car buyers to rank 59 separate technologies. Some, like the wellness car seats or a rear-mounted camera that projects images onto the rearview mirror, aren’t yet commercially available. Another technology that appealed to respondents — a paint that repairs small scratches itself — is uncommon but available on a handful of models from Nissan, Infiniti and Lexus.

Kristin Kolodge, the executive director of driver interaction at J.D. Power, said prototype technologies were included in order to help automakers and suppliers decide what sorts of features to prioritize.

“The auto industry is standing on its head to keep technology up to consumers’ new standards,” Kolodge said.

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