Samsung investigation blames Galaxy Note7 explosions on faulty batteries

Samsung Electronics on Monday blamed batteries supplied by two manufacturers for the overheating and even explosions of some Galaxy Note7 phones, as it tried to provide a long due explanation for the issues surrounding the smartphone.160902 samsung note7 2 100680696 orig

The announcement by the company, a day ahead of it reporting its fourth quarter results, had experts from TUV Rheinland, Exponent and UL stating that internal manufacturing and design defects of the batteries, including missing insulating tape in some cases, and not the design of the phones were responsible for the battery issues.

The negative electrode windings in the battery of an unnamed “manufacturer A,” who first supplied the batteries for the Note7 phones, were found in some cases to be damaged and bent over because the cell pouch did not provide enough volume to accommodate the battery assembly, said Kevin White, Exponent’s principal scientist, at a press conference that was webcast.

There were signs of internal short circuit at different locations of the cells from five of the damaged devices, said Sajeev Jesudas, president of the consumer business unit of UL. He also pointed to deformation of the upper corners of the batteries, missing insulation tapes on the tabs, and the use of thin separators as some of the factors that could contribute to a short circuit.

After incidents were reported on the field, Samsung turned to another supplier, referred to by the company as “manufacturer B.” But welding defects in “some incident cells were found to be tall enough to bridge the distance to the negative electrode foil,” raising the possibility of short circuits and self-heating, White said.

Samsung turned to Amperex Technology in Hong Kong to supply batteries for the replacement Note7 phones after issues were reported with batteries supplied by affiliate Samsung SDI, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Samsung’s team of investigators checked the Note7’s features such as fast charging, water resistance and its newly-introduced iris scanner for a possible role in the explosions but found those had not had an impact, said D.J. Koh, president of the Mobile Communications Business at Samsung.

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DJ Koh, president of Samsung’s Mobile Communications Business speaking on the cause of the Note7 explosions. Jan 22, 2017

More than 700 Samsung researchers and engineers tested over months over 200,000 Note7 phones and 30,000 phone batteries before arriving at their conclusions, he said.

In the wake of reports of overheating of the lithium-ion batteries, Samsung announced a global recall of the Note7 in early September after it found a “battery cell issue.” The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also announced on Sept. 15 a recall in the U.S. of about 1 million Note7 phones.

The replacement phones Samsung shipped out also had battery issues leading the company to recall the phones again and end production of the device. By Oct. 13, CPSC had expanded the recall to include replacement Note7 phones that Samsung had supplied to customers under the first recall program.

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Samsung ran various tests on the batteries

Samsung said that 96 percent of about 3 million Galaxy Note7 phones “sold and activated” had been returned by users. As some customers had not returned the phones to the company, despite an offer of an exchange with other Samsung devices or a refund, it had to take recourse to working with cellular operators in some markets like the U.S. and Australia, to disconnect the phones from the network.

The Note7 recall was a public-relations and financial debacle for Samsung, which reported that the third quarter revenue of its IT and Mobile Communications division was down 15 percent from the same period last year to 22.5 trillion Korean won (US$19.8 billion) while operating profit fell 95 percent to 100 billion won, as a result of the discontinuation of the Note7.

The company now expects a turnaround in the fourth quarter, largely because of a better showing by its components business that includes memory chips and displays. In guidance issued earlier this month, the company said its profit has grown year-on-year by close to 50 percent in the quarter. Revenue for the quarter is expected to be about the same as in the fourth quarter of the previous year.

Samsung is trying to put the Note7 debacle behind it and may well succeed. “Most in the US and Europe had forgotten about it already. It’s China they really need to lean into and make sure this message sticks,” said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

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A sign advises against use of Samsung’s Note 7 in aircraft at Changi Airport in Singapore on Oct. 8, 2016.

To reassure customers, Samsung also discussed steps it was taking to ensure product quality at every level of product development, including an eight-point safety check for batteries. Teams will focus, for example, on key components and work with external advisers to make preventative checks for any issues.

A battery advisory group of external advisers made up of academic and research experts is expected to provide the company a “clear and objective perspective on battery safety and innovation.” The company is also introducing improved algorithms for managing battery charging temperature, and charging current and duration.

“I liked that they added new processes and enhanced others in the 8-step safety check,” said Moorhead. “The new software is very interesting, too. Even better was the board of advisors that are there to assist on future decisions.”

The future will be even more challenging as consumers are demanding thinner devices that have longer battery life, he added.

In the short term though there could be concerns from consumers about lithium-ion batteries after Samsung disclosed that two manufacturers had made serious mistakes. “This level of promotion will give some pause for a while as it relates to Li-ion devices, but as with most recalls, it will be forgotten in six months,” Moorhead said in an email.

Hugo Barra quits Chinese phone maker Xiaomi to return to Silicon Valley

Hugo Barra is returning to Silicon Valley, just over three years after he left Google to help turn Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi into a global company.

During Barra’s time in Beijing, Xiaomi has grown far beyond its home market with its strategy of selling stylish Android phones on thin profit margins. In January, it made a splash at the CES trade show in Las Vegas, capping a series of international launches that had taken the company into over 20 countries, including India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, Mexico and Poland.launch event 02

Barra, once Google’s vice president for Android product management, announced in a Facebook post Monday that he planned to return to the U.S. for personal reasons.

He had concluded it was time to leave Xiaomi, now that the company’s global business “is no longer just an in-house startup,” he wrote.

But Barra’s real motivation for leaving Beijing and returning to Silicon Valley now is personal, he said. “The last few years of living in such a singular environment have taken a huge toll on my life and started affecting my health.”

He also said he wanted to be closer to friends, family and what he considered to be his home.

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun has asked him to remain an advisor to Xiaomi indefinitely, Barra wrote. He will remain with the company until after the Lunar New Year, which will be celebrated at the beginning of February this year.

Barra announced his move on Twitter and Facebook, a contrast with his departure from Google, which he announced on Google Plus. His public profile there appears not to have been updated in 18 months.

Intel works on next-generation Optane SSD, memory technologies

“Every gamer is going to want to have 3D Xpoint. Every single gamer.”Intel Optane

Those were words from Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich when updating investors on the company’s Optane technology, which the chipmaker believes could ultimately replace SSDs and DRAM in PCs and servers.

Intel is now shipping the first-generation Optane but is also working on next-generation technologies as looks to increase density in this new class of storage and memory.

Intel says Optane is significantly denser and faster than SSDs and DRAM. It is based on a technology called 3D Xpoint, co-developed with Micron.

The chipmaker looks at Optane as the Moore’s Law of storage. With future generations, Intel wants to make the memory smaller, denser and cheaper, and that’s driving the development of Optane.

That’s good news for users. Initial Optane SSDs may be expensive, but prices will go down as the manufacturing cost-per-bit is driven down. Storage will be faster as Optane will bring data closer to the CPU.

Intel has talked about some uses for Optane. Games will run faster with chapters pre-loaded in Optane SSDs. Optane could also be used for analytics and machine learning, which need to move data in and out of storage faster. Intel’s ultimate goal with Optane is to unify memory and storage, but that goal could still be a long time out.

Micron is also delivering its own brand of 3D Xpoint products under the QuantX brand. Last week Micron said it is also working on its future 3D Xpoint technologies.

Intel’s low-capacity Optane will be available for laptops in the second quarter. The company has already started shipping the first Optane DIMMs for testing.

The company has also qualified and shipped the first test Optane SSDs to data centers, Rob Crooke, senior vice president and general manager of the Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group at Intel, said during a speech Thursday at the company’s investor day meeting.

Enterprise SSDs are typically high in capacity. Memory and storage for enterprises based on 3D Xpoint will disrupt DRAM and SSDs in servers, said Diane Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Intel.

Intel’s projections for Optane in 2017 are modest. Crooke characterized it more as an “investment year,” with money being poured into factories and research. The total 2017 revenue will be less than 5 percent of Intel’s storage revenue.

Storage and memory aren’t major revenue generators for Intel, totaling just US$816 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Total Intel revenue for the quarter was $16.4 billion, with a bulk coming from PC and server chip sales.

Android privacy assistant seeks to stop unwanted data collection

Not sure what your phone is collecting about you? A free Android app is promising to simplify the privacy settings on your smartphone, and stop any unwanted data collection.dsc05694

The English language app, called Privacy Assistant, comes from a team at Carnegie Mellon University, who’ve built it after six years of research studying digital privacy.

“It’s very clear that a large percentage of people are not willing to give their data to any random app,” said CMU professor Norman Sadeh. “They want to be more selective with their data, so this assistant will help them do that.”

Their Privacy Assistant is designed to automatically modify your phone’s privacy settings for you, based on your views about certain types of data collection.

For instance, when the app first starts up, it’ll ask you three to five questions to gauge your privacy preferences. How do you feel about your social media accessing your camera? Or what about game apps pulling your location data?

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From those answers, the app will recommend a particular set of privacy settings you should consider. Users can then approve the recommendations or alter them, accordingly.

The assistant may sound enticing, but it comes with a catch. The software only works with Android 5.x and 6.x phones that have been rooted — which most Android users haven’t done.

Rooting a phone means gaining root access to the Android operating system, opening it up to full customization. But the act can also void your phone’s warranty or brick the phone, if done improperly.

Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon have previously published research, showing that users are often alarmed when they learn their smartphone apps have been collecting their private data like locations.

Users, however, can face a cumbersome task when modifying their phone’s privacy settings or the app permissions.

“A typical Android user has between 50 and 100 apps, and these apps can require three permissions,” Sadeh said. “So you do the math, and the number of permissions can be overwhelming.”

Many apps are also collecting private user data when they don’t really need it, he said. The Privacy Assistant is designed to revoke those permissions, without causing any malfunctions with the offending app.

As the user downloads more software, the Privacy Assistant will continue to work in the background, recommending what new app permissions should be approved or denied.

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With root access, the CMU team’s Privacy Assistant app is able to automatically apply new permission settings to the phone. However, Sadeh estimates that only about 25 percent of all Android smartphones in the world are rooted and many of those are located in Asia.

He doesn’t recommend people root their phone just to use this app. But Sadeh believes his team’s Privacy Assistant will attract a “sizable population” of existing users who are concerned about their online privacy.

The app is also part of the researchers’ larger efforts to streamline privacy settings. The hope is that Google, Apple, and device manufacturers will notice the benefits offered by their Privacy Assistant and incorporate the technology into their products.

Google is among those funding the university’s work on online privacy, Sadeh said.

“People like this stuff,” he added. A smartphone manufacturer “would have an advantage over your competitors if you ended up putting this on the smartphone you sell to customers.”

Roku upgrade guide: Should you buy a new box?

Out of all the companies making streaming TV devices today, Roku is the most prolific, having released more than two dozen streaming players and sticks over the last eight years.rokustreamingstick

With so many Roku players in the wild, the decision on when to upgrade can be daunting. I’m generally in favor of keeping what you have for as long as you can tolerate it; but if you’re curious what you’re missing by holding out on upgrading to a new Roku, here’s a rundown.

 Roku N1000, Roku SD (N1050), Roku HD (N1100 and 2000), Roku HD-XR (N1101), Roku XD (2050), and Roku XDS (2100).

Roku N1000, Roku SD (N1050), Roku HD (N1100 and 2000), Roku HD-XR (N1101), Roku XD (2050), and Roku XDS (2100).

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Many older Roku models—including any that launched in 2012 or earlier—run an outdated version of Netflix that doesn’t support profiles. That means users can’t get individualized recommendations or access to “Kids” mode. Avid Netflix users might want to upgrade, if only to cut down on wasted time browsing through irrelevant content.

Roku N1000, Roku SD (N1050), Roku HD (N1100, 2000, and 2500), Roku HD-XR (N1101), Roku XD (2050 and 3050), Roku XDS (2100), Roku LT (2400, 2450, 2700), Roku 2 HD (3000), Roku 2 XD (3050), Roku 2 XS (3100), Roku Streaming Stick MHL (3400, 3420), Roku 1 and SE (2710), and Roku 2 (2720).

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Some older Roku players don’t support full high-definition video (1080p); they’re limited to high definition (720p) or standard definition (480p). The newest players start at full high definition (1080p), and some support 4K (2160p) resolution and HDR (high dynamic range). If you care deeply about picture quality and have a television that supports these formats, it’s time to consider an upgrade.

Roku N1000, Roku SD (N1050), Roku HD (N1100, 2000, and 2500), Roku LT (2400, 2450, and 2700), and Roku 2 HD (3000).

All Roku players except Roku 4, Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+, and Roku Ultra. (Premiere+ and Ultra also support HDR.)

Roku feature chart

Many early Roku remotes—and some current ones—use infrared instead of radio frequency to communicate with the box. This requires line of sight, which precludes you from mounting the Roku behind the television or hiding it inside an entertainment center cabinet. IR can also be unreliable at long range. (The only upside to IR-enabled Rokus: They’ll work with lower-end programmable universal remotes, such as Logitech Harmony models that don’t support RF.)

All Roku players except Roku Streaming Stick (3400, 3420, 3500, 3600), Roku 3 (all versions), Roku 4, Roku

One of Roku’s neatest features is its ability to play audio through headphones, either with a supported remote control or with Roku’s mobile app. It’s a nice way to watch action films at night without waking the kids.

Roku 3 (4200 and 4230), Roku 4, Roku Premiere+, and Roku Ultra.

All Roku players except Roku Express, Roku Express+, Roku Streaming Stick (3600), Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+, and Roku Ultra.

Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra

Both the Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra let you plug headphones into their remotes.

In recent years, Roku has introduced a handy feature for the forgetful: Press a button on the box, and a siren will sound on the remote to help you find it. Unfortunately, this feature has only been available on the priciest players.

All Roku players except Roku 4 or Roku Ultra.

With a dual-band wireless router, you can get a more reliable connection on the less-congested 5GHz frequency band, but only if your device supports it. Many older Roku models only support single-band Wi-Fi, and even some recent ones don’t support the latest 802.11ac standard. Consider upgrading if your Roku’s streaming quality doesn’t seem to match your internet speed and/or your router’s capabilities.

All Roku players except Roku 4, Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+, and Roku Ultra.

Roku players have generally become much more powerful over the past few years, allowing you to scroll smoothly through menus and load apps without delay. If you’re frustrated by the performance of your current Roku, consider upgrading to one of the models below.

All Roku players except Roku 3, Roku 4, Roku Streaming Stick (3600), Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+, and Roku Ultra.

Roku, of course, isn’t the only streaming-device maker on the market. Although Roku’s Premiere+ and Streaming Stick are fine options, you might also want to consider the competition. Check out our reviews of the Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Nvidia Shield TV, and Chromecast for more details.

Sign up for Jared’s Cord Cutter Weekly newsletter to get this column and other cord-cutting news, insights, and deals delivered to your inbox.

This story, “Roku upgrade guide: Should you buy a new box?” was originally published by TechHive.

U.S. idea to collect travelers’ passwords alarms privacy experts

To better vet foreign travelers, the U.S. might demand that some visa applicants hand over the passwords to their social media accounts, a proposal that’s alarming privacy experts.32310283740 71a7cbc128 o

“If they don’t want to give us the information, then they don’t come,” said John Kelly, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, on Tuesday.

Kelly mentioned the proposal in a congressional hearing when he was asked what his department was doing to look at visa applicants’ social media activity.

He said it was “very hard to truly vet” the visa applicants from the seven Muslim-majority countries covered by the Trump administration’s travel ban, which is now in legal limbo. Many of the countries are failed states with little internal infrastructure, he said.

Learning what social media services visa applicants use and asking for their passwords might become part of the vetting process, Kelly said.

The department is only “thinking about” this idea, Kelly said. But in December, U.S. Customs and Border Protection began asking foreign visitors traveling under a visa waiver program to provide their social media account IDs as an optional request.

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John Kelly, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

That move was designed to help U.S. authorities spot “nefarious activity.” However, privacy and free-speech advocates said the U.S might use the information to unfairly keep certain visitors out of the country.

A key concern is that the U.S. is relying on someone’s political ideology to vet their entry, said Michael Macleod-Ball, chief of staff with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office.

“The issue is what information are they (U.S. border agents) looking for, and how are they interpreting it,” he said. “We’ve had all kinds of concerns over the ambiguities.”

News that the Department of Homeland Security is thinking about expanding social media monitoring by demanding passwords rattled some experts.

“The price for admission into the United States shouldn’t mean giving up your online life,” said Robert McCaw, government affairs department director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

He sees too much potential for the U.S. to unfairly target Muslim groups.

“Do you remember every email account, or Facebook account, or every message board you signed up for?” he asked. “If you forgot to disclose one, wouldn’t you be lying to a federal agency?”

Many Muslim travelers coming to the U.S. also have kin or business associates in the country. Tracking their social media activity would inevitably mean the monitoring of Muslim U.S. citizens, he said.

“This will have a chilling effect on how people communicate with each other online,” he said.

From a security standpoint, demanding visa applicants hand over passwords and then storing them might be a huge problem in itself. The government hardly has a stellar record in keeping its own databases safe from hackers, said Christopher Dore, a partner at privacy law firm Edelson PC.

“The threat of a data breach to all that password information would be a huge danger to all those individuals,” he said. “It’s a recipe for disaster.”

Others think the DHS’s proposal is pointless and note that U.S. intelligence agencies, such as the National Security Agency, are already mining the internet for hints about terrorist activity.

“It’s pretty obvious that if you’re a terrorist you can create a dummy social media profile,” said Timothy Edgar, academic director of Brown University’s Executive Master in Cybersecurity program.

“Anyone who has an ounce of sense, and is plotting to do something bad, is going to get around this policy very easily,” he said.

Edgar said demanding passwords from visa applicants will probably dissuade certain foreign travelers, especially college students, from coming to the U.S.

The impact could spread, too. Other countries might try to follow the U.S. example and demand travelers at their borders also give up their passwords

“We are giving another excuse to the worst authoritarian governments to engage in widespread surveillance of social media accounts,” he said. “When a major country adopts a practice, that tends to validate it.”

Best Buy closes nearly half of its Oculus Rift VR demo stations

If you’re hoping to get a hands-on demo with an Oculus Rift anytime soon, your options just got slimmer. Business Insider reports that 200 of Best Buy’s 500 Rift demo stations are being shuttered, making virtual reality a bit less accessible to the masses.oculus rift 3

There’s conflicting information about why this is happening, with Oculus’s “seasonal changes” explanation implying it’s a standard post-holiday scale back. Best Buy workers reportedly told Business Insider “It was common for them to go days without giving a single demonstration” though, which sounds a bit more damning for the program as a whole.

And I can’t really blame them. While I agree with Oculus that demos are essential to selling people on virtual reality—it’s really the only way to “get” it—I can’t help but wince thinking about the beat-up, grimy demo stations I used as a kid to try out new consoles. I’m flashing back to grabbing that Nintendo 64 controller and hoping that it’s not broken, or covered in the accumulated Kool-Aid and Cheez-Its from 100 kids before you.

Then imagine the same situation, except it goes on your face.

Yeah, VR demo environments are already gross enough at conventions, and that’s just one weekend’s worth of use. An ongoing Rift installation at your local Best Buy? I could see how people would be less-than-thrilled to give it a try.

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Of course there are plenty of other explanations. Maybe your average Best Buy visitor isn’t tech-savvy enough to care about virtual reality. Maybe there wasn’t enough word-of-mouth buzz to reach the people who would be interested. Maybe Oculus has just garnered too much bad press of late.

Maybe people just aren’t interested in virtual reality.

That last one would be most disappointing to me, though signs so far point to companies (at least the ones who make hardware) sticking it out for the long game. When Oculus or HTC throws in the towel, then I think VR enthusiasts can be worried. A few demo stations shutting down? Maybe a red flag, or maybe just a victim of circumstance.

And for its part, Oculus seems committed to a smarter demo strategy. Best Buy will still have Rifts on-hand, though live demos will be limited to just the larger markets. Oculus also told Business Insider, “We’re going to find opportunities to do regular events and pop ups in retail locations and local communities throughout the year.”

If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, well, keep an ear to the ground.

LinkedIn enhances Premium subscriptions to help you optimize your career

LinkedIn is rolling out updates to its Premium subscription plans in a move to boost the value proposition and direct outcomes delivered through LinkedIn data on businesses, careers and education.8148014478 fc95cd7ca9 o

The changes are designed to make better use of both existing data and the new datasets LinkedIn is gathering on salary, company details and the courses its users are completing on LinkedIn Learning, a new service the company repackaged in September following its 2015 acquisition of Lynda.com.

“The goal for us on the Premium team is to deliver direct economic outcomes to our members,” says Gyanda Sachdeva, senior director of product management and head of LinkedIn’s Premium subscription products.

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LinkedIn Premium Business subscribers can now see data on companies, such as employee headcount and areas of growth by function and geography.

LinkedIn Learning and LinkedIn Salary (a new service launched in November to track and analyze salaries globally) are now included with all four versions of LinkedIn Premium. Job seekers can also see how they stack up against other potential applicants. Professionals can view more unique and timely data on specific businesses, including trends in headcount, geographic expansion, employee turnover and other information useful for competitive analysis, according to LinkedIn.

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Premium subscribers who are seeking a new job can see how they rank against other potential applicants and details about current employees’ level of experience.

“Over time we have developed more coverage and precision on some of these data points,” Sachdeva tells CIO.com. LinkedIn is also surfacing this information in new ways, according to Schedeva. For example, when Premium subscribers look at LinkedIn’s “Who’s Viewed My Profile” feature they will now see more pertinent data on the particular companies whose employees are viewing their profile.

“We are seeing a shift in the mindset going away from just purely job seeking to also optimizing your career,” Sachdeva says. Subscribers who may not actively be seeking a new job could uncover gaps in pay for their profession and use data from LinkedIn Salary to negotiate a better salary, for example.

LinkedIn doesn’t release subscriber counts for its Premium products, but the division reported a year-over-year increase in revenue of 17 percent on $162 million during its third quarter of 2016. Microsoft officially closed its acquisition of LinkedIn in December and LinkedIn Premium numbers were not provided in Microsoft’s most recent earnings report last month. As of late 2016, however, Sales Navigator remained the fastest growing bundle in LinkedIn’s Premium subscriptions.

LinkedIn’s lineup of premium offerings ranges from $30 to $60 a month for job seekers and other professionals, $80 monthly for sales professionals and $120 per month for recruiters. Sachdeva says LinkedIn is focusing on ways to grow the business and has no immediate plan to change pricing. “The goal actually has been the opposite where we just want to add a lot more value and keep the price the same with the intention of improving customer [return on investment],” she says.

LinkedIn Premium is predominantly comprised of customers in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, according to Sachdeva. All of the LinkedIn Premium enhancements are now available to subscribers, according to the company.

This story, “LinkedIn enhances Premium subscriptions to help you optimize your career” was originally published by CIO.

Microsoft teases Windows 10’s sleek new look for the future

Microsoft’s planning a sleek visual refresh for Windows 10, and the company quietly teased its first official glimpse of what’s coming in the future during the Windows Developer Day keynote on Wednesday.windows 10

There aren’t many details being shared about “Project Neon” right now—as the refresh was called in earlier leaks—but the new visual look will focus on animations and transitions. The basic concept is “to add fluidity, animation, and blur to apps and the operating system,” as first reported by Windows Central. The new design language also hopes to make it easier for developers to create attractive apps.

The design refresh should extend to all Windows 10 devices including PCs and tablets, HoloLens, Xbox, and the few surviving Windows Phones, according to Windows Central.

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Twitter user Tom Hounsell shared a clean version of Microsoft’s first look at Windows 10’s forthcoming design tweaks. The image shown on the livestream had large text overlaid on top of the screenshot.

As you can see, this isn’t a huge change, but the visual refresh gives Windows 10 a sleeker, more modern feel. The taskbar icons look a little more dynamic and bolder. Cortana is using the icon instead of the search box, though it’s not clear if this will be the default look. The clock on the taskbar is also bolder, and the usual notification area icons including the Action Center are notably absent. The open Groove Music window itself looks more polished and Aero-esque as well, with no title bar to be seen—just unobtrusive options in the app’s upper-right corner.

Windows Central says that some of the code for Project Neon is already available in recent Insider Preview builds of Windows 10; however, it’s unlikely the visual refresh will be ready in time for the massive Creators Update this spring. Microsoft is expected to share more information about Neon during the Build conference in May. The Creators Update is expected to roll out in late March or early April, followed by a second major update later in 2017.

Microsoft will likely fix Windows SMB denial-of-service flaw on Patch Tuesday

Microsoft will likely wait until February 14 to fix a publicly disclosed vulnerability in the SMB network file sharing protocol that can be exploited to crash Windows computers.microsoft stock campus building

The vulnerability was disclosed Thursday when the security researcher who found it posted a proof-of-concept exploit for it on GitHub. There was concern initially that the flaw might also allow for arbitrary code execution and not just denial-of-service, which would have made it critical.

The CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC) at Carnegie Mellon University at first mentioned arbitrary code execution as a possibility in an advisory released Thursday. However, the organization has since removed that wording from the document and downgraded the flaw’s severity score from 10 (critical) to 7.8 (high).

Attackers can exploit the vulnerability by tricking Windows systems to connect to malicious SMB servers that send specially crafted responses. Successful exploitation will result in a crash in the mrxsmb20.sys driver, which will trigger a so-called Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

There are a number of techniques to force computers to open SMB connections and some require little or no user interaction, CERT/CC warned. The organization confirmed the exploit on Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, as well as Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

“Windows is the only platform with a customer commitment to investigate reported security issues, and proactively update impacted devices as soon as possible,” a Microsoft representative said via email. “Our standard policy is that on issues of low risk, we remediate that risk via our current Update Tuesday schedule.”

Update or Patch Tuesday is the day when Microsoft typically releases security updates for its products. This occurs on the second Tuesday of every month and the next one is scheduled for February 14.

The company sometimes breaks out of this regular patch cycle to release updates for critical and actively exploited vulnerabilities, but this won’t likely happen in this case, especially now that the flaw’s severity has been decreased and there’s apparently no threat of remote code execution.