Windows 10: The 10 coolest features you should check out first

From Cortana to the fancy new Start menu, you won’t want to miss these Windows 10 features.

Burying the past
Let’s not beat around the bush: Windows 10 isn’t anywhere near finished, yet it’s already head-and-shoulders better than Windows 8.1, at least for traditional PC users. The fact that it banishes full-screen apps and the Metro Start screen to the aether, focusing instead on the tried-and-true desktop, should be reason enough to make PC purists smile.

These are the 10 coolest new features already available in the Windows 10 Preview. Want to try them for yourself? Here’s everything you need to know to give the Windows 10 Preview a whirl.

The Start menu
Windows 10 atones for one of Windows 8’s greatest sins by returning the Start menu to its rightful spot in the lower left-hand corner of the desktop. But rather than focusing on desktop apps alone, the Windows 10 Start Menu mixes in a dash of the Metro Start screen’s functionality, sprinkling Live Tiles of Windows 8-style apps next to shortcuts to more traditional PC software.

You can turn off that Live Tile functionality if you’d like, and even unpin all the Metro apps from the Start menu, returning it to purely desktop-focused glory. Or you can choose to have the Start menu expand to the full screen, and resize Metro apps to recreate a more Windows 8-like experience. The choice is yours.

Windowed Metro apps
As you might have caught on by now, those reviled Metro apps from Windows 8 haven’t been eradicated—but they have been molded to fit desktop sensibilities. In Windows 10, launching a Metro app on your PC opens it in a desktop window, rather than dumping you into a full-screen app. The windowed apps have a mouse-friendly toolbar of options across the top, and even alter their interface to best fit the size of the window. Nifty.

It’s not all roses—you can’t cut-and-paste text from a Metro app to a normal app, for instance, and Metro apps still tend to sport a sea of wasted space. But it’s a vast improvement over Windows 8.

Action Center notifications
Notifications are one of the coolest features of modern operating systems, with popups reminding you of all sorts of useful information—and Windows 10 has them, too.

As Cortana becomes more tightly integrated into Windows 10, expect to see the Action Center become a repository of useful information (rather than the somewhat barren wasteland that it is right now). As notifications slide into view, they’re archived here.

Cortana, Microsoft’s clever digital assistant on Windows Phone 8.1, makes the jump to PCs with Windows 10, where she assumes control of the operating system’s search functions. Cortana will want to access your personal info, then use that info along with her Bing-powered cloud smarts to intelligently surface information you’re looking and perform other helpful tasks.

Cortana can help you find all sorts of online information via natural language queries you ask using text or voice commands. Cortana can also apply those natural language smarts to use search your hard drive, OneDrive, and business network for files that meet certain filters, like “Find me pictures from May.”

It’s deeply cool… though the initial Cortana build can be a bit flaky. She’s a lot smarter (and funnier) in Windows Phone 8.1; the Windows 10 version just needs a bit more time in the oven.

Project Spartan browser
Forget Internet Explorer. Well, don’t forget it entirely—it’s still tucked away in a corner of Windows 10 for legacy compatibility purposes. But the star of the Internet show in Microsoft’s new operating system is clearly Project Spartan, a brand-new browser built from the ground up for speed, slickness, and trawling the modern web.

Spartan uses Microsoft’s new Edge rendering engine—which isn’t being included in IE in Windows 10—and packs some nifty extras. Cortana pops up with supplementary information while you search the web, such as Yelp reviews and Bing Maps directions when you’re viewing a restaurant website. Digital inking tools let you easily mark up a website and share it with others. Finally, Spartan also includes an awesome clutter-stripping Reading View, and allows you to stash articles in the complementary Reading List app for later perusal.

Revamped Mail and Calendar apps
Windows 10 Preview build 10061 introduced overhauled Mail and Calendar apps that are vastly better than their Windows 8 counterparts. While the Windows 8 apps were pokey, the Windows 10 variants are speedy and responsive, and they manage to fit much more info on the screen while still being friendly to mice cursors and fat fingers alike. The new apps also dynamically shift their interfaces to fit nicely into windows of all shapes and sizes.

The Mail app adds swipe gesture controls so you can quickly sort your inbox with just a few swipes—and what each swipe does is user-configurable, too. But more important for practicality, the revamped apps include key functionality that was missing in their Windows 8 predecessors: POP email support in the Windows 10 Mail app, and Google Calendar support in Calendar.

Virtual desktops
The poor man’s multimonitor setup allows you to go back and forth between either apps or “desktops” of apps, organized how you like them. (You can either ALT-TAB through the apps themselves or else hit Windows + CTRL+ either the left or arrow to move between virtual desktops, and right-click and app to move it between virtual desktops, too.)

Either way, virtual desktops mean that you instantly know where things are.

Xbox App
The new app should feel deeply familiar to Xbox One fans: The center point is your Activity Feed, which is populated by your Xbox Live Friends’ activities, such as unlocking an achievement or launching a Twitch stream. The right side of the app lists your friends; selecting one offers options to view their game clips, invite them to a party, send an IM, and more. You can also view your own achievements, manage your profile, and more all right within the app. Eventually, you’ll be able to stream your Xbox One games to a Windows 10 PC or tablet.

We can’t help but shake the feeling that this app is more beneficial to console gamers who happen to have a PC than to true PC gamers. But it’s a very handy tool indeed if you fall into the former camp.

Yes, Windows 10 is vastly improved on PCs, but Microsoft didn’t forget about touchscreen users. As of Build 9926, Windows 10 includes a handy “Continuum” feature that dynamically switches the interface between the PC-friendly desktop and a Windows 8-like mode that’s better suited for fingers (pictured above), depending on how you’re using the device.

Windows tablets will default to the latter; PCs to the former. And hybrids will intelligently switch between the two modes depending on whether you have a keyboard attached. In tablet mode, the Start menu expands to fit the full screen, as do Metro apps. If you’d like to force a switch, the new Action Center has a dedicated “Tablet Mode” button that you can enable or disable at will.

Settings are solidified, while Charms vanish
One of the odder design decisions within Windows 8 was the separation of Settings into two buckets, one each for the Desktop and Modern/Metro interfaces. With Windows 10, that goes away. Now, there is one Settings menu, available from the Start button. As a bonus, the somewhat annoying Charms menu has vanished. Hurray!


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VMware just created its first Linux OS, and it’s container-friendly

Photon OS is meant to run containers inside a virtual machine

VMware Monday announced its first operating system, and it’s designed to run containers inside the company’s virtualization management software. In announcing the Linux OS, named Project Photon, VMware is attempting to convince users who are curious about using containers that they can do so while still using the company’s software.

As container technology has gained popularity in recent months there’s been a debate in the cloud computing and virtualization market about whether it is best to run containers on bare metal, meaning without a hypervisor, or in virtual machines. If containers run on bare metal, it could remove the need for VMware’s virtualization software.

In releasing Project Photon, VMware is attempting to make the argument that users gain benefits from running containers inside VMs. Containers that run on top of a VM can be controlled by the same software that VMs are managed through, allowing containers to have the same network and security settings that the VMs do, for example.

VMware has created Photon as an OS that can run in vSphere. VMware says it’s a “lightweight” Linux OS that has only the basic elements required to package applications in containers and run them inside virtual machines. Because of its minimalist feature set, Project Photon is meant to boot up quickly, which is a key advantage of using containers.

Project Photon supports many container image platforms, including those from Docker (which is both an open source container runtime and the name of the company that is commercializing it), as well as container images from CoreOS (called “rkt”) and Pivotal (named “Garden”).

VMware also announced the beta of Project Lightwave, which is an identity and access management tool meant to provide an extra security layer for containers. Lightwave essentially sits between the operating system and VMware’s management technology to authenticate containers, virtual machines and applications. Lightwave is compatible with various identity standards, including Kerberos, LDAP v3, SAML, X.509 and WS-Trust.

Both Lightwave and Photon will be open sourced by VMware. Photon code is available now on GitHub and Lightwave code will be released in coming months. Both are developer previews and have not yet been released commercially. They were developed by a new team at VMware led by Kit Colbert, VP and CTO of the newly formed Cloud Native Apps division.


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The new struggles facing open source

The religious wars have faded, as new conflicts around control, code ‘sharecropping,’ ‘fauxpen source,’ and n00b-sniping arise

The early days of open source were fraught with religious animosities we feared would tear apart the movement: free software fundamentalists haggling with open source pragmatists over how many Apache licenses would fit on the head of a pin. But once commercial interests moved in to plunder for profit, the challenges faced by open source pivoted toward issues of control.

While those fractious battles are largely over, giving way to an era of relative peace, this seeming tranquility may prove more dangerous to the open source movement than squabbling ever did.
[ Explore the top 10 rookie open source projects of 2015, the most exciting new ventures percolating today. | Stay atop the latest developments in open source with InfoWorld’s Open Source newsletter. ]

Indeed, underneath this superficial calm, plenty of tensions simmer. Some are the legacy of the past decade of open source warfare. Others, however, break new ground and arguably threaten open source far more than the GPL-vs.-Apache battle ever did.
How we got here: From purity to profit

The different sides used to be clear. Richard Stallman chaired the committee on free software purity while Eric S. Raymond inspired the open source movement.

Both sides rigidly held to their cause. And both sides draped themselves in a different licensing flag: GPL for the free software purists, BSD/Apache for the open sourcerors.

Not surprising, the increasing popularity of both camps stirred significant financial interest; thus, the profit motive came to open source. VCs prowled for projects with enough downloads to justify a support-and-service business model. Companies like Alfresco, JBoss, XenSource, and Zimbra sprang up to capitalize on the industry’s interest in open source, with developers increasingly wary of their be-suited new neighbors.

As these startups grew toward IPOs, however, the support-and-service model ran out of gas, as 451 Research analyst Matt Aslett warned. Then began the “open source plus proprietary add-ons” era of open source, with companies building “enterprise versions” of open source projects, withholding features for paid subscribers. The dreaded Open Core model was born, and the industry set out to tear itself apart over accusations of bait-and-switch and proprietization of open source.
The era of milquetoast open source

Excoriating fellow open source proponents on a grand stage over grand themes seems at this point a figment of the past. Infighting has become more contained, almost on a project-by-project basis. The GPL has steadily diminished in importance as developers have opted for the laissez-faire approach of Apache-style licensing. Commercial interests run rampant in open source. It’s how open source is done these days — which may be the fundamental issue facing open source today.

As free software advocate Glyn Moody argues, a certain amount of tension in open source is desirable because a lack of tension “means people don’t care anymore.” He’s right, but what belies this semblance of open source as a happy, if bland, family today is a shift away from passionate arguments about freedom and toward a more calculated conflict over control.
The rise of the company man

Control as a central issue for open source finds its roots in past debates over Open Core. While free sourcers and open sourcerors might have disagreed on the optimal license to guide a development community, both aligned on the need to keep corporate interests from controlling a project’s community. This mistrust of corporate influence over open source code persists to this day, but as it turns out, corporate influence — and control — is both a blessing and a curse.

While 12.4 percent of development on the Linux kernel is done by unaffiliated developers, presumably out of the kindness of their hearts, most of the kernel is written by developers paid by Intel, Red Hat, and others. While I’m sure they would like to contribute regardless of a paycheck, the reality is that most can’t afford to write software for fun.

This principle applies to most any open source project of any significance. OpenStack? HP, Red Hat, and Mirantis combine for nearly 50 percent of all code contributions. Apache Software Foundation projects like Cassandra (Facebook, DataStax, and so on), Hadoop (Cloudera, Hortonworks, MapR), and others all depend heavily on corporate patronage.

Open source software, in other words, may be free to use, but it’s not free to build.

Still, some dislike the corporate influence for another, more troublesome reason. “I think pretty soon we’re going to see how bad it is when every successful [open source] project is backed by a company, most of which fail,” declares Puppet Labs founder and CEO Luke Kanies.

Kanies makes an astute point: A project may be very successful, but that won’t necessarily translate into a financial bonanza for its primary contributors. If the company owns the copyright and other intellectual property rights behind a project, then fails — well, the dot-org fails with the dot-biz.

That’s one major reason we’ve seen foundations become such a big deal. Foundations, however, are not without their issues.
Cloaking corporate interests in foundational garb

In the past few years, foundations have become the vanity plate of corporate open source. While some companies successfully push code to a true community-led foundation (OpenStack comes to mind), others use foundations as a facade for “fauxpen source.”

One recent example is the Open Data Platform, which amounts to a gathering of big companies trying to fund Hadoop distributions that rival Cloudera and MapR. As Gartner analysts Merv Adrian and Nick Heudecker see it, ODP “is clearly for vendors, by vendors,” and they rightfully worry that “[b]asing an open data platform on a single vendor’s packaging casts some doubt on ‘open.'”

Not that ODP is alone in this. Plenty of foundations essentially serve the interests of a single vendor, whatever their ability to gather a few heavy-pocketed friends to go through the motions of “community.”

Like the OpenCore concerns of the first 10 years of open source, corporate foundations rub raw the free spirits in the open source world, because such foundations set up an asymmetric power structure. It makes little difference if copyright assignment flows to a single company or a foundation led by a single company, the effect is the same: The would-be contributor amounts to a particularly powerless digital sharecropper.

This isn’t the only tension in foundation land.
Controlling the code

One of the primary reasons for going to a foundation is to make project governance open and predictable. Many projects, however, eschew governance or licensing altogether. The so-called GitHub generation has been happy to load the code repository with software of unknown licensing pedigree. While GitHub has been trying to reverse this trend toward license-free development, it persists.

Even where a license exists, GitHub “communities” stand in contrast to more formal foundations. In the latter, governance is central to its existence. In the former, relatively no governance exists.

Is this bad?
As Red Hat chief architect Steve Watt notes, “Obviously, the project author is entitled to that prerogative, but the model makes potential contributors anxious about governance.”

In other words, we don’t worry as much anymore about a project’s license, which was the way corporations would seek to control use of the code. Control of projects has shifted from the code itself to governance around the code.

But it’s not only The Man that makes open source a minefield.
With communities like this …

The final, and perhaps most entrenched, tension facing open source today stems from a problem we’ve always had, but which has become more pronounced in the past few years: The open source welcome committee is not always welcoming.

It has always been the case that some projects have leaders who can be fearsome to cross. Anyone who has had Linus Torvalds tell them, “*YOU* are full of bull—-,” knows that open source requires a thick skin.

But things have gotten worse.

No, not because project leads are increasingly rude or callous, but because there are far more newbies in any given project. As one HackerNews commenter notes, “[S]mall projects get lots of, well, basically useless people who need tons of hand-holding to get anything accomplished. I see the upside for them, but I don’t see the upside for me.”

Dealing with high volumes of would-be contributors with limited experience strains the patience of the best of leaders, and well, sometimes those leaders aren’t the best, as this broadside from OpenLDAP’s Howard Chu shows:

If you post to this list and your message is deemed off-topic or insufficiently researched, you *will* be chided, mocked, and denigrated. There *is* such a thing as a stupid question. If you don’t read what’s in front of you, if you ignore the list charter, or the text of the welcome message that is sent to every new subscriber, you will be publicly mocked and made unwelcome.

As one example, half of all contributors to the Linux kernel in the past year are new contributors. This same phenomenon is playing out across the industry, and “Newbies Not Welcome!” signs like Chu’s aren’t a great way to accommodate the influx of those who want to participate but don’t yet know how.

Ultimately, open source isn’t about code. It’s about community, and as Bert Hubert suggests, “community is the best predictor of the future of a project.” That community isn’t fostered by jerk project leads or corporate overlords pretending to be friendly foundations. It’s the heart of today’s biggest challenges in open source — as it was in the last decade.

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Update: Microsoft quietly seeds consumer PCs with Windows 10 upgrade ‘nag’ campaign

Automatic update delivered to most Windows 7 and 8.1 consumer devices illustrates aggressive marketing intent
Microsoft has seeded most consumer Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs with an automatic update that will pitch the free Windows 10 upgrade to customers.

According to, a March 27 non-security update aimed at Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows 8.1 Update — the latter, the April 2014 refresh — lays the foundation for a Windows 10 marketing and upgrade campaign. The update, identified by Microsoft as KB3035583, has been offered as “Recommended,” meaning that it will be automatically downloaded and installed on PCs where Windows Update has been left with its default settings intact.

Microsoft was typically terse in the accompanying documentation for KB3035583, saying only that it introduced “additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications when new updates are available to the user.”, however, rooted through the folder that the update added to Windows’ SYSTEM32 folder and found files that spelled out a multi-step process that will alert users at several milestones that Microsoft triggers.

Computerworld confirmed that the update deposited the folder and associated files onto a Windows 7 SP1 system.

One of the files called out, “config.xml,” hinted at how the Redmond, Wash. company will offer Windows 10’s free upgrade.

The first phrase, marked as “None,” disables all features of the update. But the second, tagged as “AnticipationUX,” switches on a tray icon — one of the ways Windows provides notifications to users — and what was listed as “Advertisement.” interpreted the latter as some kind of display pitching the upcoming Windows 10, perhaps a stand-alone banner in Windows 7 and a special tile on the Windows 8.1 Start screen.

A third phrase, “Reservation,” turns on what the .xml code identified as “ReservationPage,” likely another banner or tile that lets the user “reserve” a copy of the upgrade as part of Microsoft’s marketing push.

Later steps labeled “RTM” and “GA” referred to Microsoft-speak for important development milestones, including Release to Manufacturing (RTM) and General Availability (GA). The former pegs code ready to ship to computer and device makers, while the latter signals a finished product suitable for distribution to users.

The upgrade won’t be triggered until GA, according to the .xml file’s contents.

Presumably, the messages shown in the tray icon — and when displayed, the ad banner or tile — will change at each phase, with the contents drawn from a URL specified by Microsoft in the .xml file.

Not surprisingly, the Enterprise editions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 — those are sold only to large customers with volume licensing agreements — will not display the Windows 10 upgrade pitches. That’s consistent with what Microsoft has said previously, that the Windows Enterprise SKUs will not be eligible for the free upgrade. By refusing to show the alerts and ads to Windows Enterprise users, Microsoft avoids ticking off IT administrators, who will, by all accounts, stick with Windows 7 for the next several years before migrating to Windows 10 as the former nears its January 2020 retirement.

Although Microsoft has often prepped existing versions of Windows for upcoming updates with behind-the-scenes code, the extent of the messaging generated by the .xml file issued on March 27 would be a change from past practices. That fits with Microsoft’s professed goal of getting as many as possible onto Windows 10, a position best illustrated by the unprecedented free upgrade.

Users will face a long line of nagging messages that will be impossible to ignore. Add to that the fact Microsoft set KB3035583 as Recommended — by default Windows Update treats those the same as critical security fixes tagged “Important” — and it’s clear Microsoft will be aggressive in pushing Windows 10.

Those who don’t want to see the Windows 10 marketing push on their machines can uninstall KB3035583 from the Windows Update panel. But because the .xml file was pegged as “version 1.0,” there’s a good chance more such updates will follow.

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First Look: Microsoft’s new Spartan browser for Windows 10

Here’s what sets Spartan apart from Internet Explorer.

The most recent Windows 10 Technical Preview comes with Spartan, a web browser that will eventually replace Internet Explorer. It’s not an updated version of IE under a different name; it’s a new browser that Microsoft built from scratch. Here’s what sets Spartan apart from Internet Explorer.

New name
For the time being, the browser is officially referred to as Project Spartan, and “Spartan” may or may not be its final name when it’s released with Windows 10. Sure, unlike “Internet Explorer,” the name doesn’t strongly imply that this program is for browsing the Internet, but neither do the names Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Safari. So we think “Spartan” sounds like it would fit in perfectly among its competitors.

Internet Explorer lives on
Microsoft’s previous, and not much-loved browser will still be included in Windows 10, in case you need to visit sites or use web services that absolutely require it. This will probably apply mostly to enterprise users. The current Windows 10 Technical Preview doesn’t list Internet Explorer on the desktop or taskbar. It’s hidden under Windows Accessories in the Start Menu.

Spartan is the default
Spartan will be set as the default browser in Windows 10. This status can be changed by another browser, like Chrome or Firefox, to take over the role as the default. There isn’t a way to set Spartan back to default within its own settings. To do this you have to go to the new Windows 10 Settings app.

Spartan features Edge
rendering engine
Not only will Windows 10 come with two web browsers, each browser will use a different rendering engine. IE will still use Trident, while Spartan comes with the faster and more technologically up-to-date successor Edge. Originally, Microsoft considered stuffing both engines into their new browser, but elected not to, in order to better clarify the separation between the two browsers: IE would be sticking around for backward compatibility.

Spartan becomes Windows app
Is Microsoft’s new browser a Windows app or desktop application? It appears to be the former. In Windows 10, users will interact with Windows apps on the desktop environment in resizable windows; the overall feel from using Spartan suggests it is such an app. It also shares the same design language as the other new, resizable Windows apps coming to Windows 10, such as the Store and Maps apps, as seen in its title bar and borderless frame.

Spartan has cleaner, simpler look
As its name implies, compared to IE, Spartan sports a cleaner looking UI with a borderless viewing pane and simpler graphical elements in the toolbar. This minimalism is also evident under its settings menu, which displays things in large text and isn’t cluttered with several options. In a side-by-side matchup, Spartan’s GUI initially looks similar — the main differences are that Spartan’s has fewer colors and slightly larger toolbar icons, but its tabs are set over the toolbar, as opposed to the way IE does it by setting tabs within the toolbar. Spartan’s arrangement of tabs looks less confusing.

Spartan has link sharing feature
This is a minor feature, but one that isn’t in the latest IE. In Spartan, you can send a link directly to another Windows app, such as OneNote or the Reading List.

Cortana is integrated into Spartan
Microsoft’s personal digital assistant Cortana will come with Windows 10. It’s similar to Apple’s Siri or Google’s Google Now, where, basically, you speak aloud a command or question and the technology will scour the Internet for your requested information, sometimes speaking out what it finds in a digital voice. Cortana’s features are integrated into Spartan but, as of this writing, can be accessed only in the US versions of the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview, but Microsoft plans to expand its availability to other countries soon.

Spartan will likely support extensions
Firefox has add-on functionality, while Chrome refers to its equivalent feature as extensions. Under Spartan, add-ons appear to refer to plugins for running multimedia technologies, like Flash. It’s been reported that Spartan’s final release will have extension support similar to Chrome, so developers will be able to write tools to enhance the usability of the browser.

Spartan has ‘reading view’ for smaller screens
Spartan can re-render certain pages to display only the main body of text and a related image, stripping out extraneous graphics and text from the original layout. This is meant to make an online article more legible and visually comfortable to read, especially on a tablet. To do this, you click the open-book icon to the right of the URL address bar. This function isn’t available when this icon is grayed-out: Not every page is able to be stripped down to its essentials. Spartan’s reading view tends to be available when you visit a page showing an article or blog entry, but not always.

Spartan integrates with Web Note drawing tool
This ballyhooed feature lets you draw right onto a page, doodling over it or jotting handwritten notes (if you are using a digital pen on a Windows 10 tablet). But technically what Web Note does is capture an image of a page, and then give you basic drawing and highlighting tools. You can also annotate the image with notes you type in, and copy the image of the page, or portions of it, so that you can paste it into a document or image that you’re editing in another program. Pages can be saved as a favorite (bookmark), added to the browser’s reading list, or forwarded to other Windows apps through Share.

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First Look: Microsoft Office ‘lite’ for touchscreens

As part of the beta release program for Windows 10, Microsoft has released free touchscreen versions of Excel, PowerPoint and Word through the Windows Store.

Microsoft Office
As part of the beta release program for Windows 10, Microsoft has released free touchscreen versions of Excel, PowerPoint and Word through the Windows Store. This does not represent the next version of Office, but instead a simplified version of the current Office. Nonetheless, together, they are a full-fledged set of tools that you can use to create documents, and edit or view your current Office format documents (.doc, .docx, .ppt, .pptx, .xls and .xlsx).

Only available for Windows 10 Technical Preview testers
Excel Preview, PowerPoint Preview, and Word Preview are each available for free for the time being, but are meant for testing purposes, and only for users of the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview, which is Build 9926. Each is downloaded separately from the beta of the desktop version of the Windows Store. Their file sizes range from 78 MB up to 90 MB.

Designed to work across all screen sizes
These are among Microsoft’s first apps intended to work across different Windows 10 device platforms: desktop/notebook, tablet or phone. To accommodate touchscreen use, the toolbars utilize large fonts and icons with plenty of whitespace in between. When you highlight te

Designed to work across all screen sizes
These are among Microsoft’s first apps intended to work across different Windows 10 device platforms: desktop/notebook, tablet or phone. To accommodate touchscreen use, the toolbars utilize large fonts and icons with plenty of whitespace in between. When you highlight text or an image, a toolbar appears listing Cut, Copy and Paste buttons. The UI still works with the traditional keyboard-and-mouse. Thus, these apps are well suited for Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, which is designed to be switched between notebook and tablet modes.

Features: Not as extensive as Office
Some Office 2013 features are missing. In Word Preview, you can’t create a table of contents. You’re not even allowed to define custom margins or page sizes; you can only choose from a selection of preset margins and sizes. But when it comes to the features they do have, these three apps are similar to the web app versions of Excel, PowerPoint and Word. They are “good enough” for most users’ needs. Excel Preview includes charts and formulas helpfully grouped into categories. The light bulb icon works as both a help search engine and agent that can guide you on how to do something to your document.

Availability of final releases
As for the price of these apps when their final versions are publicly released, it’s speculated that they could be included with the next version of Microsoft Office (which is being targeted to come out sometime in the second half of this year) and to subscribers of Office 365. They will also come pre-installed on Windows 10 phones and tablets (which have screens of a certain maximum size, perhaps 10 inches and smaller), and could be offered for free for other Windows 10 computers and devices. Either way, additional features would be unlocked with an Office 365 subscription.

Bridging touchscreen devices and desktops/notebooks
So how would these touch versions of Excel, PowerPoint and Word fit within the Microsoft Office ecosystem? For desktop or notebook users, these touchscreen versions are certainly capable enough for creating and editing basic Office documents with a keyboard and mouse or touchpad. On smartphones and tablets, they are used best for throwing together a rough-draft document, or editing a document you already have. These app versions look to be Microsoft’s attempt to bridge these two platforms into a single workflow.

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What can you do when the insider threat is IT itself?

IT pros are not always the good guys, and when they go bad, the damage is immense.

IT is charged with keeping threats at bay, from both traditional external hackers and, increasingly, company insiders. One insider that is too often overlooked is IT itself. Look around your IT department – can you trust every single person there?

It turns out that a notable portion of insider breaches come from technical staff: 6% from developers and another 6% from admins, according to the latest Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. The report shows that many of these breaches come from privilege abuse, although there are still plenty of other techniques IT staffers use. Great importance should be given to the moral character of your IT admins, after all, they do hold a lot of power at their fingertips, especially when a sizeable chunk of the business goes through IT systems.

In a recent Infoworld column, Roger A. Grimes offered a few war stories and some bits of advice on how to hire truly trustworthy IT pros and spot the bad seeds.

“When someone you admired, trusted, and invested yourself in ends up embezzling from the company, illegally accessing private emails, or using customer credit card data to buy computer equipment for their home, your incorrectly placed trust in that person will haunt you,” Grimes wrote. One person he hired had not disclosed that he had a criminal record, and only after a background check had he learned. By then, the person had already been employed.:

“The one employee I kept on after they committed this transgression ended up stealing thousands of dollars in computer equipment from the company,” he wrote. “I found out when he asked me to drop by his house to help diagnose possible malware on his home computer. When I entered his abode, I saw that he had a multi-thousand-dollar computer rack, computers, and networking equipment identical to what we had at work. When he realized I recognized the equipment, his expression was clear. It had been a mistake to invite me to his house, at least without first hiding the stolen equipment.”

Grimes suggests that background checks are very important when hiring IT staff, and he warns against hire candidates who have been found to have lied, or those who always have something bad to say about their previous employers. Grimes also recommends keeping an eye out for current employees who know too much about things they probably shouldn’t.

Some years back, I covered this topic in a 2006 cover story for Redmond magazine: IT Gone Bad. The stories came straight from IT pros themselves and gave a good overview of what goes on behind the curtain of admin privileges.

“We have a network guy who monitors everyone’s Internet usage. Most employees don’t know this because our boss tells everyone that there’s no one monitoring the Internet and that he doesn’t want to know anyway, but this network guy always seems to know what everyone is surfing for. He even talks about it with other employees,” said an IT pro interviewed for the article.

In another case, a school district IT director and a co-worker conspired to defraud the system.
“They had a computer consulting business they ran on the side and would leave the district several times a day to work on client computers without taking vacation time,” an IT source revealed. “They discovered the program eBlaster, which records everything you do on the computer and attaches key logs, screenshots, Internet usage and a lot of other info in an email and sends it to a specified address for review. This was initially used to monitor users suspected of spending too much time surfing the Internet or inappropriate email. It was put on the CFO, COO, and superintendent’s computer. It’s also suspected that it was put on a few of the school board members’ computers.”

This was done in order to advance their career by either blackmail or through special knowledge they gained from all the information they harvested.

With so many businesses relying on tech as a means of communication, the computer network can be a treasure trove of sensitive data, easily accessible by IT admins. Trust is of utmost importance, but what else can you do, and how does Verizon suggest you block breaches, including those from the inside?

“The first step in protecting your data is in knowing where it is and who has access to it,” the report reads. “From this, build controls to protect it and detect misuse. It won’t prevent determined insiders (because they have access to it already), but there are many other benefits that warrant doing it.”

That’s good advice, and I take it to mean that even IT should fall under strict data access privilege policies, and all network activity, including that from IT, should be tracked for security threats.

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70-467 Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server 2012

You are using SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to configure the backup for ABC
Solutions. You need to meet the technical requirements.
Which two backup options should you configure? (Choose two).

A. Enable encryption of the backup file.
B. Enable compression of the backup file.
C. Disable encryption of the backup file.
D. Disable compression of the backup file.

Answer: B,C


You need to convert the Production, Sales, Customers and Human Resources databases to
tabular BI Semantic Models (BISMs).
Which two of the following actions should you perform? (Choose two)

A. You should select the tabular mode option when upgrading the databases using the Database
Synchronization Wizard.
B. You should select the tabular mode destination option when copying the databases using SQL
Server Integration Services (SSIS).
C. You should select the tabular mode option during the installation of SQL Server Analysis
D. You should redevelop the projects and deploy them using SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT).

Answer: A,D


ABC users report that they are not receiving report subscriptions from SQLReporting01.
You confirm that the report subscriptions are not being delivered.
Which of the following actions should you perform to resolve the issue?

A. You should run the SQL Server 2012 Setup executable on SQLReporting01 to generate a
configuration file.
B. You should reset the password of the SQL Server Service account.
C. You should manually fail over the SSAS cluster.
D. You should restore the ReportServer database on SQLReporting01.

Answer: C


ABC users report that they are not receiving report subscriptions from SQLReporting01.
You confirm that the report subscriptions are not being delivered.
Which of the following actions should you perform to resolve the issue?

A. You should run the SQL Server 2012 Upgrade Wizard to upgrade the active node of the
SSAS cluster.
B. You should start the SQL Server Agent on the active node of the SSAS cluster.
C. You should restore the ReportServerTempDB database on SQLReporting01.
D. You should start the SQL Server Agent on SQLReporting01.

Answer: D


You need to make the SSAS databases available on SSAS2012 to enable testing from client
applications. Your solution must minimize server downtime and maximize database
What should you do?

A. You should detach the databases from the SSAS cluster by using SQL Server Management
Studio (SSMS) then attach the databases on SSAS2012.
B. You should copy the database files from the SSAS cluster to SSAS2012.
C. You should export the databases from the SSAS cluster by using SQL Server Management
Studio (SSMS) then import the databases on SSAS2012.
D. You should restore a copy of the databases from the most recent backup.

Answer: D


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