Microsoft’s Surface and cloud focus helps boost Q4 earnings as Xbox sales disappoint


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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Microsoft posted the fourth quarter of its 2019 financial results today, reporting revenue of $33.7 billion and net income of $13.2 billion. Both are big increases year-over-year, setting a new record fiscal year for Microsoft. The results also come as Microsoft continues to be valued as a $1 trillion company thanks to the company’s market cap. Microsoft first passed the $1 trillion milestone in this quarter, thanks to its continued growth in cloud and diverse businesses.

Surface revenue was up in the same quarter last year, and it’s up once again by 14 percent. Microsoft attributes this to “strong growth in our commercial segment.” This growth shows that Surface hardware is selling well, despite no new refreshed models during this…

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Microsoft has warned 10,000 people that nation-state hackers are targeting them


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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Microsoft has warned nearly 10,000 people that nation-state hackers have targeted or breached their accounts in the past year. The software giant revealed that around 84 percent of these attacks are aimed at businesses, while the remaining 16 percent are targeted at personal email accounts. The statistics reveal the extent of nation-state attacks, and that as many as 1,600 personal Microsoft Accounts have been affected by these hackers recently.

Most of these attacks originate from hackers in Iran, North Korea, and Russia according to Microsoft. “We have seen extensive activity from the actors we call Holmium and Mercury operating from Iran, Thallium operating from North Korea, and two actors operating from Russia we call Yttrium and…

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Microsoft has a wild hologram that translates HoloLens keynotes into Japanese


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Microsoft has created a hologram that will transform someone into a digital speaker of another language. The software giant unveiled the technology during a keynote at the Microsoft Inspire partner conference this morning in Las Vegas. Microsoft recently scanned Julia White, a company executive for Azure, at a Mixed Reality capture studio to transform her into an exact hologram replica.

The digital version appeared onstage to translate the keynote into Japanese. Microsoft has used its Azure AI technologies and neural text-to-speech to make this possible. It works by taking recordings of White’s voice, in order to create a personalized voice signature, to make it sound like she’s speaking Japanese.

Microsoft has shown off…

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Nintendo announces updated Switch with better battery life


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Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Nintendo is unveiling an updated version of its Switch console today, with promises of improved battery life. The new model will include approximately two extra hours of battery life, bringing the estimates of usage to between 4.5 and 9 hours. Nintendo’s current Switch has an estimated battery life of between 2.5 and 6.5 hours.

Nintendo’s Switch product page doesn’t reveal exactly how the company has achieved this improved battery life, but it’s likely thanks to a new system-on-chip inside and updated memory. A recent FCC listing revealed that Nintendo was planning to update the Switch with a new CPU and storage. This new model, dubbed HAC-001(-01), should start appearing in stores soon. You’ll need to check for serial numbers starting…

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Slack isn’t worried about Microsoft’s big Teams push


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Microsoft revealed last week that it now has more than 13 million people using its Microsoft Teams chat software, a milestone that means the app has overtaken Slack. While the news is significant, active user numbers don’t tell the whole story. Microsoft has been leveraging its popular Office 365 service to bundle Microsoft Teams into its offering to businesses, and the strategy is paying off.

Slack founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield took out a full page ad in the New York Times more than two years ago, welcoming the Microsoft competition and showing that Slack was more than a little nervous about the software giant. Now that Microsoft has caught up and overtaken Slack in terms of raw user numbers, Butterfield says he’s not worried…

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Microsoft to allow Alexa to integrate further into Windows 10


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Microsoft is opening up Windows 10 even further to third-party digital assistants. In the next update to Windows 10, due in September, Microsoft will allow voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa to activate on the lock screen. This change will allow third-party assistants to activate from wake words when a PC is locked and someone is shouting “Alexa” from across the room.

It’s a relatively minor change, but it does show Microsoft is willing to open up how it handles voice digital assistants on Windows 10. Amazon also enabled its Alexa wake word on its Windows 10 app earlier this year. Microsoft’s new changes follow changes to Cortana in Windows 10, as it moves to a separate app in the Microsoft Store and away from the built-in search…

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Microsoft Teams overtakes Slack with 13 million daily users


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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft is finally revealing exactly how many people are using its Slack competitor Microsoft Teams. The software maker says that more than 13 million people are using Microsoft Teams daily, along with more than 19 million weekly active users. This is the first time Microsoft has revealed an active user count, and the company’s previous update was that 500,000 organizations were using the service back in March.

This figure is above the more than 10 million people who use Slack daily. Slack revealed its 10 million daily active user count earlier this year, and it used the same figure back in April in a financial filing. The Verge asked Slack for an update on active users, but the company is in a quiet period after its initial public…

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Microsoft is making Windows 10 passwordless


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Microsoft is planning to make Windows 10 PCs work without passwords. While the company has been working on removing passwords from Windows 10 and its Microsoft Accounts for a number of months now, the next major update to Windows 10 next year will go one step further. You’ll soon be able to enable a passwordless sign-in for Microsoft accounts on a Windows 10 device. This means PCs will use Windows Hello face authentication, fingerprints, or a PIN code. The password option will simply disappear from the login screen, if you decide to opt in to this new “make your device passwordless” feature.

So why does Microsoft want people to stop using passwords to log into Windows 10 PCs? It’s really simple: passwords suck. People love to reuse them…

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Microsoft’s prototype Xbox controllers for phones look ideal for xCloud


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Microsoft is experimenting with prototype Xbox controllers for phones and tablets. The controllers attach to the sides of devices to provide an experience that’s similar to Nintendo’s Switch. “The success of the Switch is testament to the value of mobile gaming with physical controls,” explains a Microsoft Research paper, spotted by Windows Central.

Microsoft has been experimenting with a variety of slide-in grips that can make the attachments far more flexible and less bulky than solutions that already exist like GameCase, GameVice, and ION iCade mobile. Microsoft Research first documented these prototype controllers back in October, and now Microsoft has even patented the idea.

The patents and research don’t necessarily…

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Microsoft’s new Windows 1.11 app is a Stranger Things trip back to 1985


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Microsoft is celebrating Stranger Things season 3 in true Windows 1.0 style today. The software giant has created a Windows 1.11 app for a tie-in with Stranger Things, and it includes nostalgic apps like Paint, Write, and the original Windows cmd prompt. While the app is supposed to be set in the summer of 1985 just like the TV show, Windows 1.0 didn’t actually debut until November 1985.

Awkward dates aside, this app is designed more as a game to accompany the latest Stranger Things season. There are various glitches, thanks to the Upside Down world, and little mini 8-bit games to find clues and Easter eggs about the show. If you’re a Stranger Things fan, it’s a fun little app. But if you were hoping for a full-blown Windows 1.0…

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Microsoft is moving Cortana into a separate app in the Windows store


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Microsoft might be working on making Cortana better at holding conversations, but the software maker is also increasingly separating its digital assistant from Windows 10. This first started with the decoupling of Cortana from search in the recent Windows 10 May 2019 Update, and now Microsoft is bringing Cortana to the Microsoft Store as a separate app. A Cortana beta has appeared in the store, and it hints that the digital assistant could eventually not be built into Windows 10.

Microsoft is using this beta app to update Cortana separately from Windows 10, so the digital assistant can supposedly get new features quickly. However, Cortana was always built as a web-based service, so that it could be updated without core Windows 10…

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DisplayPort 2.0 is ready for 8K monitors and beyond


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VESA is unveiling the biggest update to its DisplayPort PC display standard since it was first ratified back in 2007. The new DisplayPort 2.0 specification, which is expected to arrive on monitors in late 2020, includes bandwidth support for 8K displays and beyond. This new bandwidth, at 80Gbps max, is nearly three times what was available in the previous DisplayPort 1.4 spec, and it means you’ll be able to run a gaming monitor at 4K / 144Hz with HDR support, or two 8K dispalys at 120Hz with HDR. Here’s what VESA envisions for the future:

Single display resolutions:

One 16K (15360×8460) display @60Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (with DSC)

One 10K (10240×4320) display @60Hz and 24 bpp 4:4:4 (no compression)

Dual display resolutions:

Two 8K…

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Microsoft’s new OneDrive Personal Vault protects a folder with 2FA


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Microsoft is adding a new secured storage area to OneDrive where users can store more sensitive files. The new OneDrive Personal Vault feature will be protected by an additional step of identity verification, such as a PIN, fingerprint / facial authentication, or a two-factor authentication (2FA) code. If you store files in the new Personal Vault area, you’ll be prompted for an additional code each time you access them via the web, PC, or mobile devices. This secured area is designed for files like copies of passports, identification cards, or more sensitive personal financial information.

On Windows 10 PCs, Microsoft is using a BitLocker-encrypted area of a local hard drive to sync the Personal Vault files, and all OneDrive files are…

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Apple’s Xbox and PS4 controller support turns an iPad into a portable game console


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Apple is bringing Xbox and PlayStation 4 controller support to the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV this fall. It’s a big change from the select MFi Bluetooth controllers that were supported before, and it means you can now easily connect any PS4 or Xbox One controller to your device to play games on the go.

I’ve been trying out an Xbox One S controller (with Bluetooth support) on my iPad Pro running the new public beta, and I’m convinced this is a big step toward using an iPad as a portable game console.

While all PS4 DualShock 4 controllers support Bluetooth and will work fully, over on the Xbox side, you’ll need to make sure your controller supports Bluetooth. If it has a headphone jack at the bottom, then you’re probably…

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Discord was down due to Cloudflare outage affecting parts of the web


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Popular chat service Discord experienced issues today due to network problems at Cloudflare and a wider internet issue. The app was inaccessible for its millions of users, and even Discord’s website and status pages were struggling. Discord’s problems could be traced to an outage at Cloudflare, a content delivery network. Cloudflare started experiencing issues at 7:43AM ET, and this caused Discord, Feedly, Crunchyroll, and many other sites that rely on its services to have partial outages.

Cloudflare says it’s working on a “possible route leak” affecting some of its network, but services like Discord have been inaccessible for nearly 45 minutes now. “Discord is affected by the general internet outage,” says a Discord statement on the…

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Microsoft’s secret dual-screen Surface might run Android apps


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Microsoft has been working on a secret new dual-screen Surface device for months now. While the company has experimenting with smaller pocketable devices, it looks like Microsoft is settling on a slightly larger Surface device that could debut early next year. IHS Markit, a market research firm, now claims that Microsoft’s dual-screen Surface will have two 9-inch displays with a 4:3 aspect ratio. Citing supply chain info, IHS Markit told Forbes that the device could be due in the first quarter or first half of 2020.

The device, codenamed Centaurus, will also reportedly run Android apps as part of Microsoft’s new Windows Core OS (WCOS) operating system. Microsoft has been developing WCOS as the underpinnings for a more lightweight version…

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Bill Gates says his ‘greatest mistake ever’ was Microsoft losing to Android


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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been reflecting on his time at the company when crucial decisions were made over its mobile operating system. During a recent interview at Village Global, a venture capital firm, Gates revealed his “greatest mistake ever” was Microsoft missing the Android opportunity:

“In the software world, particularly for platforms, these are winner-take-all markets. So the greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is. That is, Android is the standard non-Apple phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win. It really is winner take all. If you’re there with half as many apps or 90 percent as many apps, you’re on your way to complete…

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Microsoft bans Slack and discourages AWS and Google Docs use internally


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Microsoft has banned the use of the free version of Slack for its 100,000+ employees. GeekWire reports that Microsoft has a list of prohibited apps and services, and even Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Docs are “discouraged for use” inside the company. The Slack ban isn’t primarily driven by Microsoft’s competing Teams product, though. Microsoft is reportedly concerned about the security aspects of Slack Free and Slack Plus. An internal entry describes the situation:

“Slack Free, Slack Standard and Slack Plus versions do not provide required controls to properly protect Microsoft Intellectual Property (IP). Existing users of these solutions should migrate chat history and files related to Microsoft business to Microsoft Teams,…

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Microsoft’s new Windows Terminal now available to download for Windows 10


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Microsoft first unveiled its new command line app for Windows, dubbed Windows Terminal, at Build earlier this year. It’s a new central location where you can access the traditional cmd line, PowerShell, and the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). While developers have been able to compile and use the Windows Terminal from the code available on GitHub, Microsoft is now releasing an easy installer through the Windows Store today.

The Windows Terminal app includes multiple tab support, alongside themes and customization for developers who want to tweak the Terminal app. You’ll need to edit a JSON file if you want to get to all of the customization options right now, as this early preview doesn’t have full functionality. Microsoft has some…

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