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Microsoft defends opening Hotmail account of blogger in espionage case

Microsoft defended what it called the "exceptional" step of a "limited review" of a blogger's Hotmail account as part of a larger Windows espionage case, saying it had caught the blogger selling Microsoft's intellectual property without permission.

A court filing alleges that the unnamed blogger had been provided prerelease Windows 8 RT source code by then-Microsoft employee Alex Kibkalo. Kibkalo is being charged with stealing trade secrets.

The filing says that Microsoft triggered an internal investigation into the blogger's actions when the blogger sent the source code to an unnamed person, hoping for … Read more

Nokia's Here Maps to expand to all Windows 8.1 devices

All Windows 8.1 users will soon be able to tap into Nokia's free mapping and navigation app.

Currently limited to Nokia's Lumia 2520 tablet, Here Maps for Windows 8.1 will land in Microsoft's online Windows Store over the coming days, Nokia said on Friday. Starting its new journey in North America and Europe, the app will be free to download for any PC or tablet owner running Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1.

Like other mapping apps, Here Maps offers navigation and directions, points of interest, and satellite and 3D images of any … Read more

Hey Microsoft, Surface 2 is great, but clear up something please

It might be a good idea now for Microsoft to be more public about the direction of its tablet operating system so consumers know what they're buying into.

I like the Surface 2 and the Nokia Lumia 2520. A lot. As hardware, they're two of the best tablets out there. Bar none (including iPads).

But Windows RT, as it stands now, is in no-man's-land. It's not the Windows 8.1 that comes on PCs and it's not Windows Phone 8.

And it's been that way too long -- since October 2012.

So far, the … Read more

Microsoft fixes Windows 8.1 glitches in February update

Windows 8.1 users beset by technical woes may find some help in a newly released update.

On Tuesday, Microsoft issued an update package that fixes a variety of noncritical but potentially frustrating problems. The package's support page lists Netflix playback, orientation on a Lenovo ThinkPad S1 Yoga, shutdown time, and autocorrect as a few of the subjects addressed.

The updates also are geared for Windows RT 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. The package is listed as an optional update, which means you have to manually select it on your device's Windows Update screen to install … Read more

Microsoft Surface: It's on a roll (and why it exists)

Why does Surface exist and is Microsoft serious about moving forward with the laptop-tablet hybrid? The software giant -- er, device maker -- has answers to those questions.

Microsoft said this week during its earnings conference call that Surface shipments doubled sequentially, though it's a little more complicated than that (i.e., Surface doesn't appear to be profitable yet).

The company is, not surprisingly, encouraged by the numbers and it appears to have no intention to retreat from the strategy to evolve as a device maker.

So, let's pose this existential question: why did Microsoft create Surface? … Read more

Tablet Tuesday: Asus VivoTab RT 4G LTE with keyboard dock for $299.99

I continue to have mixed feelings about Windows RT because it's not compatible with several of the programs I use regularly, including Google Chrome, iTunes, and game client Steam. Consequently, I couldn't use an RT-powered tablet as a substitute for my laptop.

That said, people I know who have them absolutely rave about them, and I could similarly ding an Android tablet or iPad for various software incompatibilities.

While you chew on that, chew on this: while supplies last, Groupon has the refurbished Asus VivoTab RT tablet with keyboard dock for $299.99 shipped. That's literally half … Read more

Top 5 home routers of 2013: It's a win for 802.11ac

For home networking, 2013 was the year of the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. Virtually all networking vendors have at least one device that supports this new, much faster wireless specification. On the client side, there are more and more devices that also support 802.11ac, such as the latest MacBook Air or the MacBook Pro.

But not all 802.11ac routers are created equal. There are at least a few of them that you should avoid. Following, however, is the list of five routers I found to be the best of 2013 and all of them support 802.11ac.

They … Read more

Microsoft may add Kinect-like detection to Surface Mini

Owners of the much-rumored Surface Mini may be able to control the tablet via face and hand recognition. At least, that's the latest tidbit served up by Chinese blog site WPDang.

Pointing to information from an anonymous news source, WPDang said that the Surface Mini will adopt the same type of somatosensory technology used in Microsoft's Kinect. That means the tablet would be able to recognize and react to your face and hand movements. The source also claims that the feature would work more smoothly than the gesture capability currently offered on Samsung's Galaxy S4 and Note … Read more

Microsoft eyes free versions of Windows Phone, RT, report says

Microsoft may try to compete with Android by offering Windows Phone and Windows RT for free.

Citing "sources familiar with Microsoft's plans," The Verge reported Wednesday that both operating systems would be free of charge to device makers as part of Microsoft's future overhaul of Windows. The decision to offer them as freebies hasn't yet been reached but is under serious consideration by Microsoft OS VP Terry Myerson.

Microsoft earns a healthy chunk of money by licensing its operating systems to PC, phone, and tablet vendors. In the case of Windows Phone, most of the … Read more

Surface RT display smackdown: Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet shines

Nokia's Lumia 2520 tablet has one of the best screens tested to date, while Microsoft's Surface 2 counterpart falls into the also-ran category, according to a testing firm that evaluated the two Surface RT devices.

"With virtually identical functionality and OS software...The display on the Nokia Lumia 2520 is impressive while the Microsoft Surface 2 is mediocre and a disappointment," DisplayMate Technologies' Raymond said in a research note published Tuesday.

The display on the Nokia Lumia 2520 has the "best high ambient light performance and screen readability, with by far the brightest mobile display … Read more