Use Firefox? Mozilla urges you update ASAP

If you’re a Firefox user, you should probably begin updating your browser right now.

Mozilla announced in a blog post yesterday that a Firefox user in Russia had found an exploit in the browser, with Windows and Linux users most at risk.

The user found the bug through a pop-up on a Russian news site that “was serving a Firefox exploit that searched for sensitive files and uploaded them to a server that appears to be in Ukraine.”

“The vulnerability comes from the interaction of the mechanism that enforces JavaScript context separation (the “same origin policy”) and Firefox’s PDF Viewer,” Mozilla wrote on its blog.

“Mozilla products that don’t contain the PDF Viewer, such as Firefox for Android, are not vulnerable.”

Mozilla explained what types of files and softwares the exploit targets on Windows and Linux computers in its blog, noting however that it doesn’t seem to target Mac at this point. You also might be unaffected if you have an ad-blocker in place.

Regardless, Mozilla does have a fix in place with a new update, and is urging all users to update to Firefox 39.0.3 as soon as possible.

The iPhone 6C may still be a year away

So far, the rumour mill has been indicating that we’ll be seeing three iPhones at the end of this year, including the iPhone 6C, iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.

But a new report today claims that Apple won’t be releasing the iPhone 6C this year at all, and will, surprisingly, wait until the second quarter of 2016 to release the plastic-bodied iPhone.

According to sources speaking to DigiTimes, Apple wants to included the newer A9 FinFET chip in the iPhone 6C instead of the originally planned 20nm SoC process, allowing for a better “spec upgrade and lower power consumption.”

Unusual dates

The report says that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Samsung have already gone into production of the processor, but suggests the delay is due to the fact that the A9 chip is also heading to the iPhone 6S and iPhones 6S Plus, meaning Apple will be placing the priority on these phones rather than the iPhone 6C.

It does however seem odd that Apple would release a phone in the first half of the year, as the company has taken to announcing its latest handsets during September over the past years – especially as there has already been some leaks of an iPhone 6C from Apple itself.

It would also be strange for Apple to release an iPhone 6-branded handset during the same year it is expected to release an iPhone 7.

So, with that in mind, take the above info with a large helping of salt. After all, we’ve got less than two months left to see exactly which iPhones will be announced this year.

Developers will get HoloLens within a year, says Microsoft CEO

Eager to get your hands on one of those shiny new HoloLens augmented reality devices? In an interview with the BBC, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says a developer launch is scheduled sometime during the next year.

As for the rest of us, it may be some time before you can click to order one on Amazon – the device is on a “five year journey” according to Nadella, and enterprise users and businesses are going to get first dibs.

Still, a developer release within 12 months is something to look forward to. Microsoft knows it needs plenty of apps and content for the HoloLens to be a success, and developers are going to be crucial to that.

Demo time

HoloLens was demoed on stage at the Build conference in April, and again at E3 in June, but despite rave reviews from the people who’ve tried it, the augmented reality headset is still very much a work in progress.

The hardware will have to get more streamlined and more portable in the next 12 months, and it’s not the only AR headgear that’s looking to polish its act before going on sale to consumers – see also Google Glass.

Elsewhere in the interview, Nadella said Windows was “a huge milestone” for Microsoft and the industry as a whole, “the beginning of the era of more personal computing” – and that means Cortana everywhere.

Windows 10: An exciting OS aiming to reinvent the way we think about the PC

Now that the final version of Windows 10 is out, we revisit our early impressions of Microsoft’s new operating system from back in January. Has it lived up to the promise?

When Microsoft first announced Windows 10 last year, there were a lot of questions about how it could deal with the perceived failure of Windows 8. The initial preview left many questions unanswered and while the releases that have come through the Windows Insider program have shown progress, the most exciting features stayed as rumours.

Now Microsoft has confirmed that yes, the Cortana voice assistant will be in Windows 10, and it’s shown how well it’s integrated, giving you both voice control and dictation plus an improved interface for local and web search.

The rumoured Spartan browser is coming as well, although it’s not the new system some have expected – think of it more as a fresh way of presenting the same rendering engine with the most problematic legacy features stripped away, and the best of phone browsing (both Cortana and the clean layout of reading mode) and OneNote integrated.

We’ve also had a better look at the touch Office apps, especially the version of Outlook that puts email and calendar on both PCs and phones, and it’s a clean design with powerful tools that are clearly influenced by the recent Microsoft acquisition of Accompli.

Common sense

There’s a lot of common sense in the Windows 10 features Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore demonstrated in Redmond. Microsoft has made the modern apps like Photos, Messaging, and Maps into the simple but powerful tools they should have been when Windows 8 launched. It has also presented a credible compromise for touch that drops confusing elements – like an app switcher that ignored the programs running on your desktop – but keeps useful features like dragging apps to the bottom of the screen to close them.

If you love Windows 8.1 just the way it is, you’ll still miss features in Windows 10 – but talking to various members of the Windows 10 team, it’s clear that there’s still a lot of discussion going on about which features may return, as well as steady progress on building features like Cortana.

Microsoft also showed a lot of common sense regarding phones and small tablets. Yes, they’ll run the same OS, Windows 10. No, it won’t have a different name. Small tablets look very much like Windows 10 phones, but they have the desktop because they’re PCs and you might plug in a keyboard and screen, but you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to.

And yes, there will be flagship Windows handsets CEO Satya Nadella confirmed – when Windows 10 ships. That will be later this year – when it’s ready – and hopefully in time for the holidays, Terry Myerson confirmed.

Put it all together with the free upgrade for Windows 7, 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users for the first year (and no, Microsoft isn’t saying what happens after that year – mainly because it’s still figuring it out) and Windows 10 is something of a no-brainer for most users.

Loving Windows

But while this is an utterly pragmatic move (getting users on the most recent version of Windows has big advantages for Microsoft in terms of security and how many old versions it has to support), Microsoft doesn’t want you to use Windows because it’s free, or even because it does what you need it to do.

“We have bigger hopes, higher aspirations for Windows,” Satya Nadella said. “We want to move from people needing Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows. That is our bold goal with Windows.”

Getting there will require a lot more than the table stakes of making Windows 10 a compelling upgrade, and a way of continuing to get new features in the future, because Windows will get them as regular updates. It’s more than making Windows and Windows Phone and Xbox One work together and pass your information back and forth seamlessly – again, if Microsoft can’t do that, it shouldn’t be building operating systems.

It’s not even enough that Windows becomes the “home for the very best of Microsoft experiences” where Cortana and OneDrive and the Microsoft account are “seamlessly harmonis[ed]” and the interface “as well as the applications, come together in the most seamless, delightful, personal way for users.” Microsoft needs its apps and services on all devices, but if it can’t make them great on Windows, then why would it even bother.

What Microsoft really needs Windows 10 to do is reinvent the way we think about the PC – and the tiny PC that is the phone. That will need more than flagship handsets and PC makers coming up with new and interesting designs (and we saw the second of those at CES at least). Microsoft needs us to think about PCs as exciting again, and that’s what Surface Hub and HoloLens do.

Exciting developments

Surface Hub is a giant PC – a gorgeous 80in 4K screen with a pen that produces ink as smooth as Surface Pro 3, offers great but really simple videoconferencing using Skype for Business, and a whiteboard that you can walk up to, draw on and then mail to yourself before it wipes itself clean for the next meeting.

It’s both clever and easy to use and it’s exactly what businesses need to get people working together rather than messing around with cables and projectors for half of the meeting. It’s a PC that doesn’t work like a PC.

And HoloLens is a PC you have to keep reminding yourself is a PC. It’s far from finished and maybe it will turn out to be a gimmick, but if Microsoft can deliver what it showed yesterday, it will have an engaging, immersive, delightful way of putting digital information into the real world where it’s really useful. When you use Skype or build a 3D design in Holostudio, nothing is further from your mind than the Start menu or the desktop or any other Windows features. But you’re using a Windows 10 PC – just one like no PC you’ve ever imagined.

HoloLens is one of the most inventive, exciting things Microsoft has done in years. If a PC running Windows can be this, rather than a box on the desk or just another tablet, then maybe we can all get excited about PCs and Windows the way Nadella is hoping.

The iPad mini 4 will be a lot like a smaller iPad Air 2

It’s usually the iPhone that dominates Apple’s earnings reports but let’s not forget about the iPad: if new reports out of Asia are to be believed we might get three new fruit-flavoured slates before Christmas.

The leaked tips centre around the iPad mini 4, which sources say will be a shrunken iPad Air 2, complete with an A8 processor and an 8MP iSight camera. The dimensions will be the same as the iPad mini 3 except for the thickness, dropping to 6.1mm from 7.5mm.

You may remember the rather underwhelming launch of the iPad mini 3, where Apple added Touch ID and very little else. This time around the upgrade looks much more substantial.

Three’s a crowd

The report also mentions the iPad Pro, the super-sized iPad that Apple has been rumoured to be building for several years. Apparently it will come out alongside the iPad Air 3 and the iPad mini 4.

That rebuffs earlier speculation that the iPad Air refresh would be skipped this year to give suppliers more time to focus on the iPad Pro. If you’re in the market for a new tablet then you’ll have plenty to choose from.

New iPads are usually announced in October and this year should be no different. The arrival of Force Touch is another good bet, as it’s spreading to more and more of Apple’s products.

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