Microsoft Research Is In Deep Talks With Lumia Devices Team To Include Secondary Displays In Flip Covers

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Yesterday, Bloomberg wrote a story on how Microsoft Research is transforming itself within Microsoft. Instead of leaving most of research work in patents and papers, Microsoft Research’s MSR Next group is working with product teams in improving Microsoft products significantly using their research work. Microsoft Research is working on a technology to include secondary display on the inside of the Flip Covers. There are several use cases for this idea, the secondary low power display can act as a touch keyboard when you want to type something, it can display Cortana and its contextual info always-on when you open the cover and more. Microsoft Research is aware of the fact that startup like Yotaphone is exploring similar idea by including e-ink display on the back of the device, but Microsoft thinks there are usability issues when you have the display on the back.

The good news is that Microsoft Research is already in deep talks with Lumia devices team in Finland to explore the possibilities of including this technology in Lumia devices. How about a Surface Phone with Display Cover?

Microsoft’s new News Pro app for iOS delivers news related to your job

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Microsoft today launched News Pro – a new news delivering service from the company, powered by Bing News. The new service is from Microsoft Garage, and it available for the iPhone and the Web right now. News Pro will help you search for news related to your work every day, and the app will also provide relevant news for your work every day. The app works kind of like Flipboard, where you can select the topic you are interested in.

Here are some of the screenshots of News Pro for iOS:

Here’s how Microsoft describes the app:

News Pro helps you search for news around your work every day. Fuel your unique interests with over a million topics to choose from. Get informed efficiently by locating the most important and relevant articles each day based off what interests you. Leverage the power of social networks for your daily news. You can sign-in on Facebook and LinkedIn to tailor your daily news highlights to your work experience and interests.

Find articles and topics you didn’t know you needed. News Pro allows you to extend the scope of your daily news updates by suggesting new topics to search based off your current interests and by helping you discover websites where you can read articles that are interesting to you. You can also search for news related to any topic right in the app so you can always be fully informed.

Microsoft News Pro probably won’t be coming to Windows or Android anytime soon as it’s a Microsoft Garage product. However, you can checkout the web app on any device here. It is worth noting that the folks at Garage created a Twitter account for the project, which you can follow here and a Facebook Page which you can like here.

News Pro does not seem to be available in the United Kingdom for iOS. Nonetheless, if you live in the US, you can get it here from the App Store.

Microsoft Lumia 650 Launch Date, Price Tipped

Microsoft Lumia 650 Launch Date, Price Tipped

Microsoft’s long-rumoured Lumia 650 smartphone with Windows 10 Mobile is said to launch on February 1. In a separate leak, pricing details of the Lumia 650 smartphone have been tipped.

Windows Central citing multiple sources reports that Microsoft will reveal details of the handset via an official blog post entry. The report adds that the company will announce the availability and pricing of the Lumia 650 as well.

According to the preliminary leaks, the Lumia 650 smartphone is said to run Windows 10 Mobile and feature a 5-inch HD display; powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 or 212 processor; 1GB of RAM; 8GB of inbuilt storage; expandable storage via microSD card; 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash; 5-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 2000mAh battery. The handset is said to come in White and Black colours. Some of the other features hinted for the smartphone are Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0, dual-SIM configurations, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, HD Voice, and Wi-Fi calling.

The Lumia 650 has also been leaked via a listing by a smartphone distributed in the Czech Republic. According to the distributor, the Lumia 650 will be priced at CZK 5,491 (approximately Rs. 15,000) in the Czech Republic for the unlocked version.

Previously, the Lumia 650’s image was purportedly leaked featuring a metal frame. The Black colour model was also seen sporting a speaker grille below the display.

Last week, Microsoft started pushing the Windows 10 Mobile software update to low-cost Lumia 535 in at least one region. Prior to the Lumia 535, the Lumia 640 started receiving the update.

Robots, New Working Ways to Cost 5 Million Jobs by 2020, Says Davos Study

Robots, New Working Ways to Cost 5 Million Jobs by 2020, Says Davos Study

Disruptive labour market changes, including the rise of robots and artificial intelligence, will result in a net loss of 5.1 million jobs over the next five years in 15 leading countries, according to an analysis published in Davos on Monday.

The projection by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is holding its annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort this week, assumes a total loss of 7.1 million jobs, offset by a gain of 2 million new positions.

The 15 economies covered by the survey account for approximately 65 percent of the world’s total workforce.

The assessment highlights the challenges posed by modern technologies that are automating and making redundant multiple human tasks, from manufacturing to healthcare.

With the International Labour Organization, part of the United Nations, already forecasting an increase in global unemployment of 11 million by 2020, the size of the additional job losses is sobering.

Two-thirds of the projected losses are expected to fall in the office and administrative sectors as smart machines take over more routine tasks, according to latest findings, which are based on a global survey of personnel and strategy executives.

The WEF has made “the fourth industrial revolution” – a topic covering robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and biotechnology – the official theme of this year’s Davos meeting, which runs from January 20 to 23.

The “Future of Jobs” report concluded that jobs would be displaced in every industry, although the impact would vary considerably, with the biggest negative losses likely to be in healthcare, reflecting the rise of telemedicine, followed by energy and financial services.

At the same time, however, there will be a growing demand for certain skilled workers, including data analysts and specialist sales representatives.

Women will be the biggest losers as their jobs are often concentrated in low-growth or declining areas such as sales, office and administrative roles, the report said.

While men will see approximately one job gained for every three lost over the next five years, women face more than five jobs lost for every one gained.

Xolo Black 1X Price Slashed

Xolo Black 1X Price Slashed to Rs. 8,999

Xolo on Monday announced that the Black 1X smartphone will be available at Rs. 8,999, down Rs. 1,000 from the launch price. The handset, as before, will be available exclusively via Snapdeal.

To recall, the Xolo Black 1X was unveiled back in November and was priced at Rs. 9,999. The Xolo Black 1X is the second handset in the company’s premium Black lineup. The Xolo Black, the first in the series, was launched back in July last year and was priced at Rs. 12,999. The Black 1X has a glass back and also sports leather finishing on the top and the bottom of the body.

As for the specifications, the Xolo Black 1X sports a 5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixel) display protected by a coating of Dragontrail Glass. It is powered by a 64-bit capable MediaTek MT6753 octa-core SoC clocked at 1.3GHz with 450MHz Mali-T720 GPU, paired with 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage which can be expanded using a microSD card.

Other features of the handset include a 13-megapixel rear-camera with LED flash, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with LED flash, and a 2400mAh battery. The dual-SIM capable smartphone supports 4G Indian LTE bands, 3G HSPA+, Wi-FI 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and other standard connectivity options.

On the software front, the handset runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with HIVE Atlas UI running on top of it. The handset comes in only Black colour option.

Last month, Xolo launched a new variant of the 8X-1000 smartphone dubbed 8X-1000i. Priced at Rs. 6,999, the Xolo 8X-1000i went on sale via a third-party online retailer.

Isro Begins Countdown for Fifth Navigation Satellite Launch on Wednesday

Isro Begins Countdown for Fifth Navigation Satellite Launch on Wednesday

The 48-hour countdown for the lift of an Indian rocket – the first one for 2016 – with the country’s fifth navigation satellite as the sole passenger began at 9.31am on Monday, senior Isro officials said.

“The 48-hour countdown for the launch of rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-31) carrying Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System-IRNSS-1E began in the Sriharikota rocket port in Andhra Pradesh,” senior official at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told IANS.

The rocket is expected to blast off at 9.31 a.m. on January 20 to put into orbit the 1,425 kg IRNSS-1E satellite.

Till date India has launched four regional navigational satellites (IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C and ID) as part of a constellation of seven satellites to provide accurate position information service to users across the country and the region, extending up to an area of 1,500km.

Though the full system comprises of nine satellites – seven in orbit and two on the ground as stand-by – the navigation services could be made operational with four satellites, Isro officials had said earlier.

Each satellite costs around Rs. 150 crores and the PSLV-XL version rocket costs around Rs. 130 crores. The seven rockets would involve an outlay of around Rs. 910 crores.

The entire IRNSS constellation of seven satellites is planned to be completed in 2016 itself.

The first satellite IRNSS-1A was launched in July 2013, the second IRNSS-1B in April 2014, the third on October 2014 and the fourth on March 2015.

Once the regional navigation system is in place, India need not be dependent on other platforms.

According to Isro, IRNSS-1E carries two types of payloads – navigation and ranging payloads.

The navigation payload of IRNSS-1E will transmit navigation service signals to the users. This payload will be operating in L5-band and S-band.

A highly accurate Rubidium atomic clock is part of the navigation payload of the satellite.

The ranging payload of IRNSS-1E consists of a C-band transponder (automatic receivers and transmitters of radio signals) which facilitates accurate determination of the range of the satellite.

IRNSS-1E also carries Corner Cube Retro Reflectors for laser ranging.

On January 20 at 9.31 a.m. the PSLV-XL version rocket standing 44.4 metres tall and weighing 320 ton would blast off from India’s rocket port at Sriharikota.

Just over 19 minutes into the flight the rocket would put into orbit IRNSS-1E at an altitude 503.3 km.

The satellite’s life span is 12 years, the Isro official said.

The Indian space agency’s mission readiness review committee (MRRC) and the launch authorisation board (LAB) on Sunday gave the green signal for the Wednesday’s rocket launch.

Internet Users in India May Reach 500 Million in 5-8 Months

Internet Users in India May Reach 500 Million in 5-8 Months: Prasad

The number of Internet users in the country is expected to go up to 500 million, from the present over 400 million, in next 5-8 months, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Sunday.

“The number of people using Internet has crossed 400 million in the country at present. I am expecting this number to go up to 500 million in next 5-8 months… According to our estimate, out of these, 70 percent people are going to access Internet through mobile phones,” Prasad said in Indore at an Indore Management Association function.

About 1 billion people, out of the population of India of nearly 1.25 billion, have mobile phones, the minister said, adding that every month, 2-3.5 million mobile users are added.

“The NDA government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is trying to awaken the efficiency and innovation in the public. We are constantly simplifying the government policies and procedures for good governance and development,” he said.

“Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government is known for construction of National Highways. The present Prime Minister Narendra Modi government will be known for setting up Information Highways,” Prasad said.

The Telecom and Information Technology Minister also said that there are about 950 million Aadhar card holders in the country and the government has made the Aadhar card mandatory for reaping the benefits of many schemes to promote good governance.

If the Supreme Court gives nod, then the Aadhar card will be made mandatory for all government schemes, he added.

Prasad also said that the government is working towards connecting 250,000 gram panchayats in the country through optical fibre network.

When all the gram panchayats would be linked through this network, then e-business, e-education, e-health, and other projects could be started in villages, he added.

MSI’s tiny Vortex gaming PC takes on Apple’s Mac Pro

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Move over, Mac Pro. Apple might have been the first out of the gate with a powerful PC disguised in a compact, modish cylindrical chassis, but now proper PCs are getting in on the action. Take MSI’s diminutive Vortex gaming tower, which, to be fair, looks more like a glowing, badass knight’s helmet than a dumb black trashcan.

MSI’s striking new PC owes its name to a unique “360-degree Silent Storm” cooling system, which sucks in air from the top and swirls it down, around, and through the case before exhausting it out of the bottom, ensuring that every part of the interior is cooled, according to MSI reps. That cooling is certainly needed: The Vortex gaming tower packs a desktop-class quad-core Intel Skylake Core i7 chip, DDR4 RAM, and not one, but twoof Nvidia’s powerful GeForce GTX 980 mobile processors, which offer true performance parity with the company’s GTX 980 desktop graphics cards.

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Suddenly the Mac Pro’s dual Radeon D500 graphics don’t look so hot—though Apple’s 6- and 8-core CPU options likely outpower the Vortex’s Skylake chip. MSI created the Vortex in such a way that DIYers will be able to swap out at least some of the components, though reps wouldn’t say whether a motherboard upgrade was possible, which would enable a more powerful Haswell-E or Xeon processor. Considering the tricky engineering it likely took to stuff a desktop chip and two graphics cards into a petite 6.5L enclosure, smart money says no motherboard upgrades.

Sadly, MSI wouldn’t crack open the Vortex for a peek inside, nor would it commit to a firm price or release date beyond “2016.” But, hey, the Mac Pro’s design was nothing short of revolutionary, and with PCs seemingly in a race to grow smaller yet more powerful, it’s gratifying to see Apple’s workstation get some Windows-based competition.

Microsoft officially dumps Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10

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Microsoft recently announced another step that puts Internet Explorer that much closer to oblivion. Beginning next Tuesday, January 12, Microsoft will officially retire Internet Explorer versions 8, 9, and 10 for most Windows operating systems, according to aMicrosoft support page.

Internet Explorer 11 will be the only officially supported version of the browser for Windows 7, 8.1, and 10.

The only exception will be Windows Vista users, who will stick with Internet Explorer 9. Vista’s mainstream support ended more than a year before IE11 rolled out. The unpopular OS is almost up for retirement anyway. It reaches the end of its extended support phase in April 2017. After that, Vista will be unsupported just like Windows XP.

Anyone running a Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 system has nothing to worry about, as both of those systems came with IE11 preinstalled. Windows 7 users who don’t have automatic updates enabled, however, may not be running the latest version of IE.

During “Patch Tuesday” on January 12, Microsoft will roll out an update for Windows 7 that prompts non-IE11 users to upgrade their built-in browser. If you insist on sticking with an older version of IE, there’s a registry hack to disable notifications. You can find more information on Microsoft’s support pages.

Users still on Windows 8, meanwhile, won’t receive updates of any kind, as Microsoft only supports PCs that upgraded to Windows 8.1.

Why this matters: Internet Explorer is already living on borrowed time. Internet Explorer 11 rolled out in 2013 with Windows 8.1, and it is officially the last version of Microsoft’s famous browser. Microsoft is now focused on developing the Edge browser for Windows 10 instead. Retiring IE 8, 9 (not including Vista), and 10 is long overdue especially since the three major versions of Windows (7, 8.1, and 10) can all run IE11.

Besides, running older versions of a web browser is never a good idea. The biggest issue is the potential for malicious actors to capitalize on unpatched security holes. But older browsers can also hamper your online experience. As web technologies progress older browsers often cease to work well with modern websites and web apps.

The Razer Core can boost any Thunderbolt 3-equipped laptop with an external GPU

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There’s long been an argument about gaming laptops and obsolescence. You plunk down $2,000 on a high-end laptop and in seemingly no time it’s borderline useless. No way to upgrade. No real tweaks you can try. It’s a $2,000 paperweight.

Perhaps spurred by these complaints, Alienware eventually said “Okay, what if you could hook up a desktop graphics card to your laptop? And then upgrade it whenever you want?” And thus the Alienware Graphics Amplifier was born. MSI (sort of) followed suit.Asus too.

But there’s been one nagging issue in this hot-button field: proprietary claim-staking. Each of the above solutions works within its own ecosystem. Alienware uses a custom PCI Express connection that limits it to Alienware laptops. MSI’s was designed to work withone laptop. Asus’s is—you guessed it—proprietary to Asus. That’s left some people to rig up an external GPU through the ExpressCard port, a versatile but clunky solution.

Back in June Intel said Thunderbolt 3 might be a good candidate for external GPU docks, given its 40 Gbps throughput. It’s not PCIe levels of data transfer, but it’s better than nothing. Also, it’s not proprietary to any one computer manufacturer.

Leading the charge? Razer.

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Razer’s new GPU dock is dubbed the Razer Core. Designed to work with Razer’s new GPU-less laptop, the Razer Blade Stealth, it will in fact work with any laptop that packs a Thunderbolt 3 port. Which at the moment means not many laptops, although that number is steadily increasing.

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The Core is an aluminum-housed dock that slides open to accommodate “virtually every popular desktop graphics card from both AMD and Nvidia,” according to Razer’s release (double-wide, full-length PCI-Express x16 cards, drawing up to 375W of power). Cards are held in place by a screw, and then the whole enclosure slides back together. Both power and data are supplied by the single Thunderbolt 3 connection. Plug it in and you’re ready to play—no reboot required.

The Core itself measures approximately 8.5-by-4.1-by-13.5 inches (218-by-105-by- 340mm), with two-zone Chroma lighting, four USB 3.0 ports, and Gigabit Ethernet.

The question now is performance. In theory, the Razer Core sounds amazing for those who need to own a laptop but want to do some hefty gaming at home: self-contained, no need for external power, relatively small, will connect to any Thunderbolt 3 computer so you don’t need to buy from the same manufacturer for the rest of your life, and more attractive than a naked graphics card sitting on your desk.

But the question remains, what kind of boost will you see when hooked in through Thunderbolt instead of PCIe? As I said, 40 Gbps is fantastic when compared to past ports (USB 3.1’s transfer speed is 10 Gbps for instance), but it’s nowhere near what you’d get plugging the same card directly into a PCIe slot on your motherboard. We’ll need to get our hands on the Razer Core and run a bunch of tests before we can recommend it.

Razer Core with Razer Blade Stealth

Still, it’s an important development—potentially the redemption that gaming laptops sorely need. While I use a gaming laptop because my job requires one, it’s always been tough to recommend something so expensive that so quickly loses value. With the Razer Core maybe you can get a few more years out of your aging hardware—or buy a cheaper laptop and supplement it with an old card you have lying around. The latter is clearly what Razer expects.