Tariffs are forcing Big Tech to move production out of China


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In response to the Trump administration’s trade war with China, major tech companies are preparing to relocate key manufacturing operations. According to Bloomberg, Google is moving production of its US-bound Nest thermostats and motherboards to Taiwan. The Wall Street Journal reports that Nintendo is shifting at least some production of its Switch console to Southeast Asia. At the same time, China has allegedly warned companies that they will face permanent consequences if they cooperate with Trump administration trade restrictions.

Source: Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal

Apple and Microsoft made a new iCloud for Windows app


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Apple and Microsoft teamed up to create an iCloud Drive experience that will hopefully resolve some compatibility issues. A brand new iCloud for Windows app is available today in the Microsoft Store for Windows 10 users. The iCloud app will use the same technology as Microsoft’s OneDrive’s On-Demand feature — a very rare collaboration from tech’s two biggest rivals. Users can now easily access photos, videos, mail, calendars, files and other information from their iCloud accounts from their PC or smartphone.

Source: Microsoft

Apple Launches New iCloud for Windows App in Microsoft Store


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Apple today introduced a new iCloud for Windows app designed for PCs, according to a blog post shared by Microsoft. The new app is designed to allow Apple users to access their iCloud content on their Windows 10 PCs.

The iCloud app for Windows includes iCloud Drive, iCloud Photos, Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Safari Bookmarks, and more.

What you can do with iCloud for Windows

– Safely store your photos and videos in iCloud. With iCloud Photos, any new photos and videos that you take on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch automatically download to your PC. And you can upload new photos and videos from your PC so that you can access them from your other devices too.

– Use Shared Albums to share photos and videos with just the people you choose. Then invite friends to add their own photos, videos, and comments.

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Microsoft working to get “every single Xbox One game” working on Scarlett


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LOS ANGELES—When Microsoft announced the first details of its next game console Sunday, it said that “thousands of games across four console generations will look and play best on Project Scarlett.” In a video follow-up focused on backward compatibility posted Monday, the company clarified that its goal is that “every single game you play on Xbox One today [will] work on the Scarlett device.”

That would be a change from previous Xbox console generations, which have only supported a significant subset of previous generations’ titles through software updates. It sounds like getting Xbox One games to run on Project Scarlett will also take some specific software-level effort on the part of Microsoft, rather than being supported directly at the hardware level.

“Ensuring every game that runs on Xbox One is going to run incredibly well on Scarlett will take a ton of commitment and time from our team,”

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Project xCloud demo of Halo 5 nearly indistinguishable from local play


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Project xCloud running <em>Gears of War 4</em> at an E3 Microsoft Theater demonstration.

Enlarge / Project xCloud running Gears of War 4 at an E3 Microsoft Theater demonstration.

After Microsoft’s pre-E3 press conference yesterday, we got our first chance to try out Project xCloud, the cloud-based streaming gaming service the company will be launching in October. Video analysis of those hands-on tests shows response times via Wi-Fi that are practically indistinguishable from local gameplay—at least for a streaming version of Halo 5. For something as sensitive to latency as a first-person shooter, seeing is believing.

We tried out Project xCloud on a Samsung Galaxy S8, mounted to an Xbox One controller connected via USB. The game was running on the Microsoft Theater’s Wi-Fi connection, but a Microsoft representative couldn’t comment on the bandwidth or other details of that connection.

Playing Halo 5 on that setup felt responsive to my fingers, running at an apparent 60fps. We didn’t have a high-end, custom-built latency testing

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Double Fine Productions is Microsoft’s latest Xbox acquisition


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Tim Schafer introduces himself as part of Microsoft for the first time.

LOS ANGELES—”For the last 19 years, we’ve been independent. Then Microsoft came to us and said, ‘What if we gave you a bunch of money.’ And I said ‘OK, yeah,'”

That was the half-kidding way Double Fine Productions (Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, Broken Age) Founder and President Tim Schafer introduced the company’s newly announced acquisition by Microsoft Game Studios. Schafer appeared on stage at Microsoft’s pre-show conference, ready to joke about the new partnership with Head of Microsoft Studios Matt Booty.

“I am a team player,” Schafer said on stage. “Whatever you need from Double Fine we’ll make for you. Halo stuff, Forza stuff, Excel stuff. Whatever you want, we are there.”

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Xbox at E3: Halo Infinite leads massive first-party deluge of Xbox, PC games


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Moments before the beginning of the Xbox press conference at E3 2019.

Enlarge / Moments before the beginning of the Xbox press conference at E3 2019. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

LOS ANGELES—Without its direct console rival Sony anywhere in sight at this year’s E3, the team behind Xbox took advantage with a Sunday press conference that revolved around games, games, and more games. In particular, Microsoft finally began paying forward its investment in various acquisitions over the past couple of years to make a huge Xbox Game Studios statement in the form of legitimate gameplay variety.

Even with that in mind, nobody in the room was surprised to see one game elicit the loudest response: Halo Infinite, now confirmed for “holiday 2020” as a launch title for the code-named Xbox Scarlett console.

“We lost. We lost everything.”

Unlike the game’s E3 2018 tease, this year’s reveal revolved around “game engine footage” that bordered on the kind of stuff you’d

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Microsoft reveals first details on “Project Scarlett” game console for 2020


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LOS ANGELES—After an extremely brief tease at last year’s E3 presentation, Microsoft revealed the first details of the successor to the Xbox One today, called “Project Scarlett” for now. The hardware will launch in the 2020 holiday season, the company said.

Much like the Playstation 4 successor first discussed earlier this year, reduced loading times are a major focus for Microsoft’s next console hardware. The company said the system will sport high-bandwidth GDDR6 RAM, and a “new generation of SSD” will act as “virtual RAM,” leading to “more than 40 times performance increases over the current generation” when it comes to data bus bandwidth. That means being able to “move through worlds without waiting for screnes to load,” and the end of those long “fake elevator” scenes that hide loading on previous platforms.

Microsoft didn’t go into too much detail

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Dealmaster: Sony and Microsoft launch a bunch of PS4 and Xbox deals ahead of E3


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The limited-edition PS4 Sony has launched for its E3 sale this year.

Enlarge / The limited-edition PS4 Sony has launched for its E3 sale this year. (credit: Sony)

This weekend marks the unofficial start of E3, the most prominent video game trade event in the United States. Ars will be at the show again, and this year’s edition is expected to be somewhat muted compared to years past, what with Sony joining Nintendo in foregoing a formal presence at the event. There should still be plenty of news and new game footage for industry watchers to digest, however.

For those who are just interested in playing games, though, E3 has also become an excuse for game companies to hold sales events. Sony and Microsoft both rolled out big promotions this time last year—and apparently, their efforts went well. On Friday, the two once again kicked off sweeping sets of discounts for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners, respectively.

The deals apply to

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Warnings of world-wide worm attacks are the real deal, new exploit shows


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Warnings of world-wide worm attacks are the real deal, new exploit shows

(credit: flattop341)

For the past three weeks, security professionals have warned with increasing urgency that a recently patched Windows vulnerability has the potential to trigger attacks not seen since the WannaCry worm that paralyzed much of the world in 2017. A demonstration video circulating on the Internet is the latest evidence to prove those warnings are the real deal.

It was posted Tuesday by Sean Dillon, a senior security researcher and RiskSense. A play-by-play helps to underscore the significance of the feat.

The video shows a module Dillon wrote for the Metasploit exploit framework remotely connecting to a Windows Server 2008 R2 computer that has yet to install a patch Microsoft released in mid May. At about 14 seconds, a Metasploit

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Xbox and PlayStation gamepad support extends across iOS 13


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During Apple’s WWDC 2019 keynote the company showed off so many things even our cut-down version of the event lasts nearly half an hour. One of the reveals was that tvOS 13 will be compatible with PlayStation 4 and Bluetooth-equipped Xbox One controllers — convenient for both Apple’s own Arcade gaming plans and any others with cloud aspirations — but in case it’s unclear, it also extends to iPad and iPhone.

Once iOS 13 rolls out, you’ll be able to use these console controllers easily with your device, no workarounds needed. With Apple reportedly spending “hundreds of millions” to get games to be a part of its subscription package, it’s good to know that controllers we already generally like and probably have laying around will be able to keep doing their job.

Microsoft says mandatory password changing is “ancient and obsolete”


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Screenshot from gameshow Password.

(credit: ABC Photo Archives / Getty Images)

Microsoft is finally catching on to a maxim that security experts have almost universally accepted for years: periodic password changes are likely to do more harm than good.

In a largely overlooked post published late last month, Microsoft said it was removing periodic password changes from the security baseline settings it recommends for customers and auditors. After decades of Microsoft recommending passwords be changed regularly, Microsoft employee Aaron Margosis said the requirement is an “ancient and obsolete mitigation of very low value.”

The change of heart is largely the result of research that shows passwords are most prone to cracking when they’re easy for end users to remember, such as when they use a name or phrase from a favorite movie or book. Over the past decade, hackers have mined real-world password breaches to assemble dictionaries of millions of

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Apple expands tvOS gaming with PS4, Xbox One S controller support


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Controller not shown to scale.

Enlarge / Controller not shown to scale.

At the 2019 WWDC keynote today, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company is expanding Apple TV controller support to include “two of the best and most popular game controllers available, Xbox One S and PlayStation DualShock 4” with the next tvOS update. Note that this expansion does not include original Xbox One control pads that shipped with the 2013 version of the system—only the Bluetooth-equipped controller update that premiered alongside Microsoft’s One S update in 2016 will work with Apple TV.

The announcement, which drew large and sustained applause in the presentation hall, comes nearly four years after Apple’s second-generation Apple TV became the company’s first foray into TV-based gaming since the ill-fated Pippin. At launch, Apple TV games were required to support the hardware’s touchpad-focused, tilt-sensitive remote, and those games could optionally support any number of MFi controllers

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Apple TV will support PlayStation and Xbox controllers


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Apple has been gradually improving its tvOS over the past couple of years, thanks to features such as zero sign-on for cable-powered apps and added support for Dolby Atmos audio. Most recently, the company also launched an overhauled version of the TV app, which is designed to be a one-stop-shop for all the entertainment needs of Apple TV owners. And today, at WWDC 2019, Apple has revealed the next version of tvOS, featuring support for Xbox One and PlayStation DualShock 4 controllers. This announcement is meant to complement Apple’s upcoming game subscription service, Apple Arcade, which is expected to arrive this fall.

Microsoft practically begs Windows users to fix wormable BlueKeep flaw


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Microsoft practically begs Windows users to fix wormable BlueKeep flaw

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Microsoft security officials say they are confident an exploit exists for BlueKeep, the recently patched vulnerability that has the potential to trigger self-replicating attacks as destructive as the 2017 WannaCry attack that shut down computers all over the world.

In a Blog post published late Thursday night, members of the Microsoft Security Response Center cited findings published Tuesday by Errata Security CEO Rob Graham that almost 1 million Internet-connected computers remain vulnerable to the attacks. That indicates those machines have yet to install an update Microsoft issued two weeks ago patching against the so-called BlueKeep vulnerability, which is formally tracked as CVE-2019-0708. The exploits can reliably execute malicious code with no interaction on the part of an end user. The severity prompted Microsoft to take the unusual step of issuing patches for Windows 2003, XP, and Vista, which haven’t been supported in four, five, and two

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Xbox Game Pass is coming to Windows 10, but many questions remain


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Well, there you have it.

Enlarge / Well, there you have it.

In one of the less-detailed announcements of the pre-E3 season, Microsoft this morning officially confirmed it is bringing its “all-you-can-play” Game Pass subscription service to the PC. The new expansion of the Xbox Game Pass (which launched just over two years ago) “will give players unlimited access to a curated library of over 100 high-quality PC games on Windows 10, from well-known PC game developers and publishers such as Bethesda, Deep Silver, Devolver Digital, Paradox Interactive, SEGA and more,” according to an announcement from Microsoft.

Games from Microsoft’s own studios, including recent acquisitions Obsidian and inXile, will be available on Xbox Game Pass for PC on the day they’re released, just as they are on Xbox One. Game Pass members will also receive discounts of up to 20% on Windows Store games and up to 10% off of DLC and add-on

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Apple, Google and others condemn UK plan to view encrypted chats


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Major players within the tech industry have long-opposed the idea of government access to users’ messages and chat conversations — now they’re continuing the fight with an open letter to GCHQ (the UK’s government communication headquarters) lambasting proposals that could allow officials to eavesdrop on encrypted chats.

Via: The Guardian

Source: LawFare Blog, Open letter

Eternally Blue: Baltimore City leaders blame NSA for ransomware attack


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Baltimore: An IT disaster area?

Enlarge / Baltimore: An IT disaster area? (credit: Cyndi Monaghan via Getty Images)

The mayor and city council president of Baltimore are pushing for the ransomware attack that brought Baltimore’s city government to a standstill to be designated a disaster, and officials are seeking federal aid to help pay for the cleanup from the RobbinHood malware’s damage. This call came after a New York Times report that the ransomware used the EternalBlue exploit developed by the National Security Agency to spread across the city’s network.

EternalBlue was part of a set of tools developed for the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group that were leaked by Shadow Brokers in 2017. The tool was then used two months later as part of WannaCry, the destructive cryptographic worm that affected thousands of computers worldwide. Shadow Brokers has been linked by some security experts to a Russian intelligence agency; WannaCry has been attributed

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UN study finds female voice assistants reinforce harmful stereotypes


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For the record, the appropriate response to being called a slut isn’t, “I’d blush if I could.” But that’s what Siri is programmed to say. According to a report by the United Nations, the fact that most voice assistant are gendered as young women is reinforcing harmful stereotypes that women are docile and eager to please, even when they’re called lewd names.

Via: Technology Review

Source: UNESCO

Why a Windows flaw patched nine days ago is still spooking the Internet


This post is by Dan Goodin from Ars Technica


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Artist's impression of a malicious hacker coding up a BlueKeep-based exploit.

Enlarge / Artist’s impression of a malicious hacker coding up a BlueKeep-based exploit. (credit: Getty Images / Bill Hinton)

It has been nine days since Microsoft patched the high-severity vulnerability known as BlueKeep, and yet the dire advisories about its potential to sow worldwide disruptions keep coming.

Until recently, there was little independent corroboration that exploits could spread virally from computer to computer in a way not seen since the WannaCry and NotPetya worms shut down computers worldwide in 2017. Some researchers felt Microsoft has been unusually tight-lipped with partners about this vulnerability, possibly out of concern that any details, despite everyone’s best efforts, might hasten the spread of working exploit code.

Until recently, researchers had to take Microsoft’s word the vulnerability was severe. Then five researchers from security firm McAfee reported last Tuesday that they were able to exploit the vulnerability and gain remote code execution without any

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