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Windows 10 X is a new edition of Windows 10 designed for dual-screen devices and it’s also coming to traditional laptops at some point. Windows 10 X will come with a number of exclusives features and it will also offer a customized interface for all core components of Microsoft’s desktop OS. Although Microsoft is planning to bring Windows 10 X to traditional laptop form factors, there won’t be an official way of installing the OS on an existing Windows 10 device. The software giant isn’t planning to provide it in ISO format, but it’ll be possible through third-party tools. With Windows 10 X, Microsoft is scrapping Live Tiles, the large icons with interactive information from the Windows Phone days. The new OS comes in a more simplified look and it has icons, and Microsoft is calling it ‘Launcher’. Like Windows 8, Windows 10 X will also have gestures. For example, you’ll be able to swipe from the right side to open Action Center and swipe from the bottom of the screen to open the Start menu. There’s also a new Action Center in Windows 10 X and it puts more emphasis on quick actions. The Action Center expands in size when there are new notifications and it’s designed in such a way that you can quickly find the setting toggle without opening the settings app. The Compose Mode allows you to switch the taskbar to a more traditional taskbar. On Surface Neo-like devices, it enables productivity-friendly experience and allows users to use the keyboard accessory, touchpad and emoji panel. Windows 10 X also offers a new set up experience with a modern look and feel. Like Android and other mobile OSes, the 10X will also walk you through the device setup and help you select the correct sign-in, language, regions, update, privacy, and other settings. Windows 10 X also comes with dynamic wallpapers support and it would change content depending on your device’s time or your geolocation. For example, Microsoft plans to offer a mountain-view wallpaper and it would change its content during sunrise, afternoon, sunset, and night. Microsoft is updating the lock screen with a new model that brings up the lock screen with authentication options. You no longer need to dismiss the lock before authentication. By default, a new lock screen lets you log in via Windows Hello facial recognition, PIN or password. Full details can be found on OUR FORUM.

Microsoft just announced the launch of an Xbox bug bounty program to allow gamers and security researchers to report security vulnerabilities found in the Xbox Live network and services. Qualified Xbox Bounty Program submissions are eligible for bounty payouts ranging from $500 to $20,000 for a remote code execution submitted via a high-quality report with clear and concise proof of concepts (POCs). The bounties will be awarded "at Microsoft’s discretion" based on the severity and impact of the security issue disclosed, as well as the quality of the submission. "Higher awards are possible, at Microsoft’s sole discretion, based on report quality and vulnerability impact," Redmond says. "Researchers who provide submissions that do not qualify for bounty awards may still be eligible for public acknowledgment of their submission leads to a vulnerability fix." Vulnerabilities submitted through the Xbox Bounty Program are required to meet the following criteria to be eligible for a bounty award. To send a submission to the Xbox team you have to use the MSRC Submission portal, with the mention that you'll have to abide by the recommended format in Microsoft's bounty submission guidelines. Additional details on what activities are prohibited under the Xbox Bounty Program and the out of scope vulnerabilities are available on the Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure throughout the vulnerability reporting process. For vulnerability submissions that are out of the scope of the Xbox Bounty Program, Microsoft may still offer the security researchers public recognition by adding them to the Online Service Acknowledgements page. The bounty amounts for in-scope vulnerabilities based on their severity levels are available in the table. You can find additional information on Microsoft bounty program requirements as well as legal guidelines in the Bounty Terms, the Safe Harbor policy, and the Bounty FAQ. "Since launching in 2002, the Xbox network has enabled millions of users to share their common love of gaming on a safe and secure service," MSRC Program Manager Chloé Brown said. "The bounty program supplements our existing investments in security development and testing to uncover and remediate vulnerabilities that have a direct and demonstrable impact on the security of Xbox customers. For more navigate to OUR FORUM.

Huawei overtook Apple to become the world’s second best selling smartphone manufacturer in 2019, according to reports from Strategy Analytics, Counterpoint Research, and Canalys. Over the course of the year, the Chinese manufacturer reportedly shipped around 240 million phones, compared to just under 200 million for Apple. Samsung retained its comfortable lead in the first place, shipping just shy of 300 million devices. Xiaomi and Oppo rounded out the list of the top five manufacturers. The jump is especially surprising given Huawei’s continued presence on the USA’s entity list, which prevents the company from installing Google’s apps and services on its new devices, limiting their appeal outside of China. As a result, Huawei’s main strength was in its home country. Counterpoint Research says China accounted for 60 percent of its sales, allowing its shipments worldwide to increase by 17 percent between 2018 and 2019 — though not in Q4 specifically. However, tensions with the US still had an effect. Canalys notes that 2019 could have been the year that Huawei challenged Samsung for the number one smartphone spot, but ultimately this challenge never materialized. It’s unclear when the situation could change in the future. Huawei has been nipping at Apple’s heels for a while. Back in 2017 Huawei initially overtook Apple to sell more smartphones in the months of June and July, and the following year IDC reported that it had sold more phones than Apple in the second quarter of the year. But in 2019, the company overtook Apple to sell more phones throughout the entire year. Although it lost out on the number two spot for 2019 as a whole, Apple had a very strong fourth quarter as is typical for the company. All three market analyst firms agreed that it managed to outsell Samsung in the last quarter, with sales being driven by the iPhone 11’s lower pricing in particular. Analysts said that Apple’s phone sales were up by between 7 and 11 percent in Q4 2019 compared to the same quarter in 2018. Samsung is expected to rebound this quarter with the launch of its flagship Galaxy S20 series next month. Apple is also likely to receive a boost from the launch of its long-rumored successor to the more affordable iPhone SE, which could be popular in price-sensitive markets like India. Despite individual gains, all three reports agree that the industry sold fewer phones in 2019 than it did in 2018. Counterpoint Research notes that this is the first time the smartphone market has ever declined for two years in a row. With the US’s trade wars still ongoing, and China’s coronavirus scare having potential implications for supply chains, 2020 could be another challenging year. Follow the news on Huawei and lots more on OUR FORUM.

After days of frenzied speculation, Britain has allowed a limited role to the Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei in the domestic rollout of the next-generation 5G wireless network. The move, however, represents a symbolic defeat for the campaign by the U.S. to prevent the Chinese tech giant from participating in the deployment of this wireless technology within the geographical jurisdictions of America’s allies. The National Security Council (NSC) of Britain deliberated on two options: either impose a blanket ban on Huawei or impose limits on its market share and the extent of the tech giant’s participation in ‘core’ network areas. The council appears to have opted for the latter option. According to the emerging reports, the NSC has stipulated that Huawei’s telecommunication gear will not be deployed near sensitive geographical locations such as nuclear sites and military bases. Moreover, the Chinese tech giant will be "limited to a minority presence of no more than 35 percent in the periphery of the network, known as the access network ..." Bear in mind that Theresa May’s government considered the imposition of market share caps last year on Huawei vis-à-vis its participation in the UK’s 5G network deployment. However, now that this threshold of 35 percent has been finalized, it will increase the total cost of the next-gen network rollout in the country as a proportion of Huawei’s gear that has already been installed will have to be swapped with that sourced from Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung. The officials in the U.S are concerned that an active role of Huawei in the UK’s 5G network will compromise the ability of the two nations to securely exchange intelligence. After all, this ability forms one of the cornerstones in the ‘special relationship’ that has existed between the U.S and the UK for decades. UK’s stance on Huawei might also complicate its negotiations with the Trump administration on another thorny issue – digital taxes. As a refresher, efforts are presently underway at the OECD to carve out new tax rules that limit the propensity of tech giants to engage in tax shielding practices. The forum had proposed in October that governments should tear up a century of taxation precedent by allowing individual countries to tax operations in their jurisdiction even if those companies have no physical presence there. Nonetheless, given that UK’s NSC excluded Huawei from participating in the critical portions of the 5G network, the Trump administration might be able to claim partial victory in that its concerns were heeded. Readers should remember that Washington has repeatedly stressed that Huawei provides Beijing a ‘backdoor’ access to sensitive network information. These claims are bolstered by the existence of Chinese laws that require domestic companies to assist Beijing in intelligence collection. Huawei, for its part, has consistently denied providing China’s government any access to sensitive information. Follow this and more on Huawei on OUR FORUM.

Windows 10 updates continue a pretty embarrassing run for Microsoft and almost every new monthly or feature updates appear to break more things than they fix. In recent times, Windows 10 has been plagued by an alarming amount of bugs. Windows Update mess kicked off with the October 2018 Update, which introduced a bug that deleted documents, pictures and other files of the consumers. After the October Update debacle, Microsoft adopted a very careful approach with the May 2019, which was rolled out slowly to avoid a repeat of the disastrous rollout. While the May 2019 Update itself wasn’t a mess, Microsoft shipped cumulative updates to fix some long-standing minor bugs, but the monthly updates introduced a new bug which caused high levels of CPU usage. Then another cumulative update was shipped to fix Cortana but it broke the Start menu and even Taskbar. It also broke internet connectivity on some configurations and another hotfix caused audio issues. All these issues were documented and resolved by Microsoft by the end of the year. After the rollout of the major update, Microsoft launched November 2019 Update, a minor release with only a few changes and many of us hoped that this would offer a bug-free experience. However, users have complained that the update breaks down File Explorer and Microsoft has not acknowledged the issue on its official website yet. Microsoft has also run into trouble with this year’s first cumulative update. Windows 10’s January 2020 important update has been failing to install and displaying unhelpful error messages. According to former employees, Microsoft has changed its Windows Update testing process and it could be one of the reasons for the mess. As the ex-Microsoft senior software engineer noted, Microsoft had an entire team dedicated to testing Windows updates in the old days. The software giant’s testing group had different subgroups for drivers or interface, and all the members discussed glitches in daily meetings. Microsoft engineers tested Windows updates using automated testing and as well as manually on real-world configurations rather than the virtual machines. In 2014, Microsoft laid off the Windows testing team and the company stopped testing updates on real-world configurations for the most part. In addition to the virtual machines, Microsoft now relies on Windows Insiders, a group of testers mostly consisting of enthusiasts and fans. For more visit OUR FORUM.

A micropatch implementing Microsoft's workaround for the actively exploited zero-day remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability impacting Internet Explorer is now available via the 0patch platform until an official fix will be released. Microsoft's advisory says that the company is aware of "limited targeted attacks" targeting the flaw tracked as CVE-2020-0674. The vulnerability, reported by Clément Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group and Ella Yu from Qihoo 360, "could corrupt memory in such a way that an attacker could execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user" according to Microsoft. If the user is logged on with administrative permissions on a compromised device, attackers can take full control of the system allowing for program installation and data manipulation, or the possibility to create accounts with full user rights. While no patch for this security issue has been provided so far, Redmond is working on a fix that could be pushed out as an out-of-band security update before next month's Patch Tuesday, just as it happened when a very similar Internet Explorer RCE zero-day was fixed in September 2019. As 0patch found, the mitigation provided by Redmond also comes with several other negative side effects. 0patch created and released a micropatch for Internet Explorer 11, the latest version of the web browser, ready to be applied on fully-patched devices running of Windows 7, Windows 10 v1709/v1803/v1809, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server 2019. Applying it on these systems will also protect Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 users that haven't enrolled in the Extended Security Updates program in the event that Microsoft won't be releasing security fixes for their platform. "Our micropatch works like a switch that disables or enables the use of vulnerable jscript.dll by Internet Explorer's browser component in various applications (IE, Outlook, Word,...)," 0patch co-founder Mitja Kolsek explained. "If you're a 0patch user, you already have this micropatch downloaded to all your online computers with 0patch Agent, and - depending on your settings - already automatically applied to all processes using the Internet Explorer 11 engine for rendering content. For more in-depth reading visit OUR FORUM.

 

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