Microsoft Windows 9 tech preview set for launch next month

Microsoft Windows 9 tech preview set for launch next monthMicrosoft is said to be preparing a “technology preview” of the upcoming Windows “Threshold” (Windows 9) operating system, which will be available to anyone who is interested by the end of the next month. The operating system itself is expected to launch in full sometime during the spring of next year and will include a scrapping of many unpopular Windows 8 features, including the confusing “Charms Bar.” Most importantly, Microsoft will continue to improve on mouse-and-keyboard functionality, taking the OS back to its roots. Additionally, “Modern/Metro” apps will be able to run on the desktop, virtual desktops will be integrated and the Start Menu will make an honest return. Potentially, Microsoft’s voice-support assistant Cortana could be integrated, as well. Sources say if you install the tech preview, you will have to agree to have monthly updates pushed automatically, which should not be a problem given how Microsoft pushes updates currently. There have been rumors that Microsoft will make Threshold free to anyone with Windows XP, Vista or 7, in an effort to move them away from the older OS’s.

Twitter: 8.5 percent of all active accounts are automated

Twitter has announced in a regulatory filing that “up to approximately 8.5%” of its active accounts are completely automated “without any discernible additional user-initiated action.”The social media giant has 271 million active monthly users, so automated accounts are up to 23 million of those.Among the automatically updated accounts are handles at post directly from third-party apps like, or that post pictures that were shared on Facebook or Instagram, for example, without the user having to go to Twitter at any point. 

Unfortunately included in the group are spam accounts, which account for less than 5% of monthly active users, says Twitter. 

Real, human-backed active accounts are what advertisers are looking into when judging Twitter’s potential, and 8.5 percent of accounts never seeing an ad is a large figure. 

Microsoft sets end-of-life for all Internet Explorer versions before 11

Microsoft sets end-of-life for all Internet Explorer versions before 11Microsoft has selected an end-of-life date for older Internet Explorer browser versions, giving users until January 12, 2016 to use all versions before IE 11, if they want to keep up-to-date security that is.

The tech giant will no longer provide security updates for the browsers or any other tech support after the date, if you are using IE 8-10, which many corporations still use despite being heavily outdated.

In its post, Microsoft lists the reasons to update anyways, including speed, usability, security and third-party developer support. “Protection against malicious software increased from 69% on Internet Explorer 8 in 2009 to over 99% on Internet Explorer 11.,” adds the company, a huge difference.

If you are unsure how to upgrade, Microsoft also created a few sites to help with the migration, including one for consumers, one for enterprise and one for developers.

Read more or get updated here.

Netflix overtakes HBO in subscriber revenue

Netflix has finally overcome HBO in subscriber revenue, reporting $1.146 billion in revenue for the last quarter compared to $1.41 billion for HBO.

The streaming giant has 48 million paid subscribers, and 35.1 million in the U.S.

HBO has 127 million paying subscribers in total, but that includes HBO 2, HBO Family, Cinemax and more.

Says Netflix CEO Reed Hastings: “Minor milestone: last quarter we passed HBO is subscriber revenue ($1.146B vs $1.141B). They still kick our ass in profits and Emmy’s, but we are making progress. HBO rocks, and we are honored to be in the same league. (yes, I loved Silicon Valley and yes it hit a little close to home.)”

Chart via BI:

Mozilla planning to take on Google with new Firefox OS-based streaming stick

Mozilla planning to take on Google with new Firefox OS-based streaming stickGigaom has reported on Mozilla’s latest project, a media streaming HDMI dongle based on their Firefox OS.

The device would rival Google’s popular Chromecast device and Mozilla has been working on prototypes with an unknown hardware partner for the past few months.

Mostly everything remains unknown about the new device including price, availability, specs and even name.

Besides working just like Chromecast, the report states that it can actually run some Chromecast apps, as well, although it is unclear how. It looks now like Mozilla will add casting to Firefox and will also release a device that is more open to hacking and developers than Google’s dongle is. Mozilla will allow developers to build casting into apps for all operating systems, not just Android and iOS, meaning BlackBerry, Amazon and Windows Phone users could get access.

The Mozilla casting device will also reportedly come with an open bootloader, suggesting it could run other software if developed for.

An official unveiling is expected in the coming months.

BlackBerry rolling out encrypted BBM messenger for enterprise users

BlackBerry rolling out encrypted BBM messenger for enterprise usersBlackBerry has announced the launch of their first eBBM product, a suite that includes a specialized BBM instant messenger service for enterprise users.

The company says the suite includes BBM Protected, which is FIPS 140-2 cryptographic library-enabled messaging. The service can be used between users within the same enterprise, or with other companies who are also using BBM Protected.

While it may seem like a niche product, there are likely plenty of corporations who require secure communications, including defense contractors, attorney firms and even investment banks. BlackBerry still has a large government customer base, even as other industries move to iOS and Android.

Currently, the BBM Protected product works on BB OS 6.0 or newer, and on BlackBerry 10 in “Regulated Mode.” Later this year, BlackBerry 10 users with BlackBerry Balance will be able to switch between business and pleasure, and iOS and Android BBM users will receive BBM Protected later this year, as well.

Dropbox reaches 300 million users

Dropbox reaches 300 million usersPopular cloud-storage service Dropbox has revealed that it has reached 300,000,000 users, adding 100 million since November 2013.

In a brief post on the firm’s blog, Dropbox announced the milestone using a graphic of a door with a dropbox logo on it, with notches on the wall next to it showing the company’s userbase growth from 100m, to 200m, and now to 300,000,000.

“Thanks for helping us grow,” the post was titled, with the body only including the words: “New notch on the wall.”

The growth is very impressive when you consider that Dropbox revealed it had hit 200 million users in November 2013, just around a half a year ago. On April 9, it had revealed the number swelled to 275 million.


Wow: Here is Google’s self-driving car in action, no brakes or steering wheel necessary

Wow: Here is Google's self-driving car in action, no brakes or steering wheel necessaryGoogle’s incredible self-driving car project has taken its next step, with Google unveiling a prototype that does not have brakes nor a steering wheel, thus putting 100 percent of the burden of driving on the car.

Reads Google’s release:
“Just imagine: You can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20-minute buffer to find parking. Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can’t keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History.

We’re now exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like by building some prototypes; they’ll be designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human intervention. They won’t have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal… because they don’t need them. Our software and sensors do all the work. The vehicles will be very basic–we want to learn from them and adapt them as quickly as possible–but they will take you where you want to go at the push of a button. And that’s an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people. ”

The cars feature sensors that can detect objects in all directions as far out as 240 yards, and the original prototypes can only go 25 mph as Google has capped the speeds.

Over 100 prototypes will be built and over the summer, new models with manual controls will be built for Google drivers to test with.