Intel Hints at Possible Patent Violations Over x86 Emulation on ARM-Based Windows 10 Laptops

In a new development, Intel appears to have warned Qualcomm – without directly naming it – and its partners over possible patent infringement with the implementation of x86 emulation in upcoming laptops. This comes after Qualcomm and Microsoft announced that Windows 10 PC apps will get support for ARM chipsets, specifically, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoCs, and more recently announced their partnership to launch Qualcomm-powered Windows 10 laptops in the future along with select OEMs.

Qualcomm’s ARM platform is set to run both desktop x86 Win32 apps as well as Universal Windows apps. We already know that Qualcomm and Microsoft’s support for desktop x86 Win32 apps on ARM chips will be provided in the form of a native emulator within Windows 10. Regular MSI and EXE packages will work, but since everything is being emulated on a software level, app performance will not be as good as on x86 chips made by Intel.

Intel Hints at Possible Patent Violations Over x86 Emulation on ARM-Based Windows 10 Laptops

In any case, Intel has expressed its angst in a new blog post that largely celebrates 40 years since Intel introduced its first x86 microprocessor – Intel 8086. The company says that it is aware that “some companies may try to emulate Intel’s proprietary x86 ISA without Intel’s authorisation.” It then goes on to give the example of Transmeta- a company that Intel sued even after exiting the PC business.

Intel asserts that it carefully protects its x86 innovations, and does not widely license others to use them. “Emulation is not a new technology, and Transmeta was notably the last company to claim to have produced a compatible x86 processor using emulation (“code morphing”) techniques. Intel enforced patents relating to SIMD instruction set enhancements against Transmeta’s x86 implementation even though it used emulation. In any event, Transmeta was not commercially successful, and it exited the microprocessor business 10 years ago,” the blog post said.

It goes on to warn, “We do not welcome unlawful infringement of our patents, and we fully expect other companies to continue to respect Intel’s intellectual property rights. Strong intellectual property protections make it possible for Intel to continue to invest the enormous resources required to advance Intel’s dynamic x86 ISA, and Intel will maintain its vigilance to protect its innovations and investments.”

This means that if Qualcomm and Microsoft go ahead on their mission to bring Windows 10 support on Snapdragon-powered laptops, Intel will likely sue Qualcomm. Unless of course, Qualcomm changes the contentious x86 emulation method. After this, will Qualcomm continue its work as is, not worrying of the repercussions, or will it look to come to a settlement of sorts with Intel? All we can do is wait and watch.

 

Microsoft Releases Windows XP Security Patches for Additional Protection Against WannaCry-Like Cyber-Attacks

Microsoft was criticised last month for not providing free security patches to Windows XP users early enough to help protect against WannaCry ransomware. It seems like the Redmond-based company has taken the criticism seriously, as it has now included additional security updates for earlier versions of Windows as part of ‘Update Tuesday’. These updates are said to offer enhanced protection against cyber-attacks with characteristics similar to WannaCry.

While reviewing the security updates for June, Microsoft identified there certain vulnerabilities posed “elevated risk of cyber-attacks by government organisations, sometimes referred to as nation-state actors or other copycat organisations,” Adrienne Hall, General Manager, Cyber Defense Operations Center, said in her blog post on Tuesday.

In order to address these vulnerabilities, Microsoft is providing additional security patches with the update, even to those customers who are on earlier versions of Windows. “Due to the elevated risk for destructive cyber-attacks at this time, we made the decision to take this action because applying these updates provides further protection against potential attacks with characteristics similar to WannaCrypt,” Hall said. Notably, Microsoft officially ended the support for Windows XP in 2014.

Microsoft Releases Windows XP Security Patches for Additional Protection Against WannaCry-Like Cyber-Attacks

Microsoft says that if you are on Windows 10 or Windows 8.1, the currently supported versions, and have Windows Update enabled, you don’t need to do anything from your side. Further, the company has warned users that the “best protection” is to be on a modern up-to-date system and that “older systems, even if fully up-to-date, lack the latest security features and advancements.”

WannaCry ransomware, which erupted last month, hit more than 150 countries and encrypted files on more than 200,000 computers. In order to unlock the files, the malware creators reportedly demanded a ransom of $300 (roughly Rs. 19,300) worth of Bitcoins from the users. It seems like Microsoft has now taken a more pro-active approach to the situation and decided that it should provide further protection to those users who are on unsupported versions as well.

 

Fallout Shelter Releases on Windows 10, Xbox One on Tuesday as an Xbox Play Anywhere Title

Bethesda Game Studios has announced that Fallout Shelter, which is already available for Android and iOS on Google Play and App Store, will now be coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One on Tuesday as an Xbox Play Anywhere title. The game will be available as a free download from both Xbox Store and Windows Store, as per a news post on Xbox Wire.

Fallout Shelter Releases on Windows 10, Xbox One on Tuesday as an Xbox Play Anywhere Title

In Fallout Shelter, players are given the role of overseer and they are required to build their own vault. The players have to guide and look after the needs of the citizens of the vault. In the game, players rescue the dwellers and assign them tasks. One of the crucial aspect of the game is to find the balance between the resources available. The game was also released on PC in July last year, but only via the Bethesda.net Launcher. It will now come with additional functionality on PC as it is now a Xbox Play Anywhere title, Engadget point out in its report.

As Fallout Shelter comes as an Xbox Play Anywhere title, player progress will be saved across both Xbox One and Windows 10. This means that users will

be able to switch seamlessly between platforms and pick up the game from where they left off. Along with game progress, their achievements will also be saved across platforms. Further, the game has also been optimised to work with the Xbox One controller.

Just recently, Bethesda rolled out version 1.9 update in beta for Fallout 4 on PC, which brought along support for high-resolution textures to the game on platform. As per the company, recommended specifications for Fallout 4’s version 1.9 update included an Intel Core i7-5820K or better processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 8GB, and more than 8GB of RAM. Apart from this, users need an additional space of 58GB on their storage drives to download the update.

Microsoft ups its push to get developers onboard with its cloud-service APIs

Last fall, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made a bold (and to some, a rather cryptic) statement. He said he considered Microsoft’s most valuable and strategic application programming interface (API) to be Office 365.
His reasoning? Making Office more extensible by third-party — and Microsoft’s own — developers has a ricochet effect. Developers using the Office 365 APIs also were using Azure Active Directory and other related services.
The same argument can be made about other Microsoft cloud services, such as OneDrive. By encouraging developers to use the new OneDrive API in writing their Windows, iOS and/or Android apps, Microsoft is hoping to get more users hooked into its cloud-storage platform and related services. (Microsoft teams inside the company are starting to use this same OneDrive API, too, officials said in a February 24 blog post announcing availability of the interface.)

At its Ignite conference in early May, Microsoft will be making more announcements around the extensibility of Office 365 APIs, according to hints in various session descriptions already posted to the site.

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Microsoft officials are on tap to showcase how developers can use the Office 365 in building mobile device applications that run not just on Windows and Windows Phone, but also on iOS and Android devices. By using these APIs, developers get access to Azure Active Directory Users and Groups, Files (OneDrive and OneDrive for Business), Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Sites.

And that’s not even an exhaustive list of what is part of the Office 365 API toolbox. There are Yammer enterprise social networking APIs available to developers. There are Skype for Business (a k a Lync) unified communications APIs.

A year ago, Microsoft released a set of tools for developers wanting to build apps for the Office Store that were codenamed “Napa.” Just this week, Microsoft added C# support to the API Sandbox for Office 365.

There may be additional tools coming. A few Office 365 users over the past year have noticed something codenamed “Alchemy” popping up in their dashboards.

According to information about Alchemy (which Microsoft officials since removed from the support forums), “Alchemy App is a web service used for the connection between SharePoint Online and Visual Studio code.”

Microsoft is evangelizing other of its cloud-service APIs to app and service developers, too. On February 24, Microsoft announced availability to developers of a “new” OneDrive API.

The OneDrive API “allows developers to integrate OneDrive into their apps to store and manage user data across all major platforms, including Windows, the web, iOS, and Android. With this new RESTful API, you can build on a scalable cloud storage platform that reaches users across the entire family of Microsoft consumer services,” according to the blog post announcing availability.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Microsoft made its cloud storage API accessible to devs. Back in 2012, Microsoft was touting the availability of OneDrive (then called SkyDrive) APIs to developers. The pitch: By integrating SkyDrive into your apps, “your users can read and write documents, photos and other files on their SkyDrive.”

Microsoft also will be making more Outlook and OWA APIs available to third parties. As noted in the Ignite session list, the “Apps for Outlook platform” has been available for two years and “Compose Apps” was released last year. “The extensibility platform is one of the key investments across all our mail clients,” officials noted in the session description on Outlook extensibility.

Microsoft also is expected to try to get more developers to get onboard with the OneNote note-taking API.

This list of cloud-services that Microsoft is opening up to developers maps nicely to the four Office “hubs” that Microsoft is trying to make the center of its Digital Life + Work universe.

As I blogged last year, Microsoft’s Applications and Services unit is working on building a common “substrate” which “understands context and reacts to changes in the world, proactively providing critical information at the right time and place.” The mission of the team that is surfacing substrate information is to “bring people back to four hub services: OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook.com and Skype.”

By making its cloud-service APIs open, Microsoft is hoping to lure developers to build apps and services that ultimately will help contribute to Microsoft’s bottom line.