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Google Translate Is About To Get a Lot Better, Thanks To Its Machine Learning Push
Posted by News Fetcher on January 27 '17 at 11:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-heights department:
Google CEO Sundar Pichai is offering a big new update that should affect anyone who's ever used Google's translation services. From a report on CNBC: The new version will be rolling out in 2017 via Google Cloud, Pichai said. "We have improved our translation ability more in one single year than all our improvements over the last 10 years combined," Pichai told investors in a quarterly call, after parent company Alphabet reported mixed results.

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Microsoft Says It Is Winning Its New War Against Macs
Posted by News Fetcher on January 27 '17 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's at-Apple's-expense department:
Windows PCs are starting to chip away at Apple's strong grip of the high-end computer market, Microsoft CFO Amy Hood said on an earnings call Thursday. From a report: Microsofts licensing business, which sells Windows to third-party PC makers, was up 5 percent last quarter, confirmed CFO Amy Hood during an earnings call on Thursday. The "non-pro" (consumer) market grew 5 percent, beating the overall decline of the PC industry. "Our partner ecosystem continued to see growth and share gains in the Windows premium device category," Hood continued. Those gains would have eaten into Apple's share of that market, which has been dominated by Macs until recently. There are other things that could have contributed to this, of course. Many long-time Mac users have been somewhat disappointed with Apple's most recent releases, which come with big changes that not everyone is willing to embrace.

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Ask Slashdot: A Point of Contention - Modern User Interfaces
Posted by News Fetcher on January 27 '17 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tell-us-all department:
Reader Artem Tashkinov writes: Here are the staples of the modern user interface (in varying degree apply to modern web/and most operating systems such as Windows 10, iOS and even Android): Too much white space, huge margins, too little informationText is indistinguishable from controlsText in full-CAPSCertain controls cannot be easily understood (like on/off states for check boxes or elements like tabs)Everything presented in shades of gray or using a severely and artificially limited paletteOften awful fonts suitable only for HiDPI devices (Windows 10 modern apps are a prime example)Cannot be controlled by keyboardVery little customizability if anyHow would Slashdotters explain the proliferation and existance of such unusable user interfaces and design choices? And also, do you agree?

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Japanese Government Requires Java and Internet Explorer 11 X86
Posted by News Fetcher on January 27 '17 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Long time reader AmiMoJo writes: Japan has introduced "My Number", a social security number assigned to citizens and used to access government services. Unfortunately, the My Number management web portal requires the Java plug-in. Because this plug-in is deprecated in many browsers, only Internet Explorer 11 (32 bit) and Safari on Mac are supported. The explanation (translated) given for this is that in order to access My Number contactless card readers Java is the only option. Some browsers support IC card access but it seems that it is not mature enough to be viable.

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You Don't Need an Antivirus (Except Microsoft's Built-in on Windows), Says Former Firefox Developer
Posted by News Fetcher on January 27 '17 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's this-should-be-interesting department:
Former Firefox developer Robert O'Callahan believes that antivirus software is not necessary, AV vendors are of little help, and that you should uninstall your antivirus software immediately. From a blog post: Users have been fooled into associating AV vendors with security and you don't want AV vendors bad-mouthing your product. AV software is broadly installed and when it breaks your product, you need the cooperation of AV vendors to fix it. (You can't tell users to turn off AV software because if anything bad were to happen that the AV software might have prevented, you'll catch the blame.) When your product crashes on startup due to AV interference, users blame your product, not AV. Worse still, if they make your product incredibly slow and bloated, users just think that's how your product is.

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Stock Research Moves Past PDFs as Customers Demand More for Their Money
Posted by News Fetcher on January 27 '17 at 07:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department:
With investment firms cutting costs and portfolio managers combating a barrage of information, financial research shops around the globe are looking for new ways to keep their product relevant. From a report: A raft of startups have launched to support that effort, offering tools that can use Google search data to get an edge on retail sales, deploy drones to examine oil supplies or allow investors to rank analysts and bid on their reports, like a Netflix or eBay of research. Whether these innovations will lead to smarter investments, or be used widely enough to prop up research budgets, is yet to be seen. But the startups are forming alliances with banks, brokerages and investors by the dozen. People who use and sell the tools say the trend is changing how research is financed, distributed and consumed for the first time in decades. "We are coming up on a very different age for equity research," said Lex Sokolin, global director of fintech strategy at Autonomous Research. Investors now see research as a product that must stand on its own rather than a freebie offered as part of a broader relationship with an investment bank, Sokolin said. Technology can improve the quality and distribution of research, he said. [...] Perhaps most importantly, investors say they are sick of their inboxes piling up with run-of-the-mill reports each day. At a time when people share snippets of information through WhatsApp and Slack and a tweet can move a stock in seconds, sharing loads of PDF files through email is not only passe, but makes it hard to know what is worth reading, industry sources said.

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Microsoft Admits Sales of 'Expensive' HoloLens 'Not Huge', Says More Versions Are Planned
Posted by News Fetcher on January 27 '17 at 07:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's slower-sales department:
Microsoft is not giving away too much about the sales figures for HoloLens but goes as far as saying it is "in thousands, not hundreds of thousands". From a report: Speaking at educational technology event the Bett Show in London on Thursday, Roger Walkden, Senior Director and Commercial Lead of HoloLens, acknowledged that the price tag was partly responsible for the small number of sales. Interestingly, though, Microsoft is not bothered by what could be seen as disappointing sales, despite the fact that the company seems to be betting big on HoloLens by adding headset settings in recent Windows 10 Insider builds. [...] But for anyone who feels let down by what HoloLens has to offer, there is good news: "this is version one, and there will be future versions."

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A Lack of Alternatives To Qualcomm Is Hurting the Ecosystem
Posted by News Fetcher on January 27 '17 at 05:31 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-options-the-better department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Android Authority: Smartphone enthusiasts are probably eagerly awaiting the arrival of Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 835 SoC, which was unveiled back at the beginning of January. However, recent revelations suggest that consumers could be in for an unexpected wait, and we're unlikely to see an alternative manufacturer step in to fill the void given the current market conditions. The report claiming that LG G6 won't ship with the latest Snapdragon 835 flagship SoC is looking like bad luck for LG and a blow to consumers looking to spend their cash on the latest mobile technology. If true, this is also likely to have an impact on sales, as consumers hold out for better technology released in just a few months time. It's not only LG facing this prospect though, HTC, Sony, and all the other manufacturers that typically make announcements early in the year look to be facing a situation where they will be using the same processor as last year for early 2017 models. This scenario is unprecedented in modern Android history. The past few years have seen manufacturers kick start the year with flagship releases packing new processing technology. Unfortunately for these OEMs, there aren't any competing processors to use as a direct alternative to the delayed Snapdragon 835. The choice is then either to launch with an older technology or delay their product until the 835 is ready. While many will focus on performance stagnation, using the same chip also means that handsets are bound by the same feature sets, and so camera, video, virtual reality, and other capabilities won't be moving on either. Samsung's Exynos and HiSilicon's Kirin series are the closest SoCs to the 821 and 835 in terms of performance and features, but these are primarily reserved for their maker's own flagships and aren't rolled off the production line in anything close to enough numbers to meet global demand. This situation is a bit of a catch-22, with manufacturers unlikely to buy up expensive foundry lines without a strong indication that OEMs will use their products, while a lack of availability means major releases can't pick up these chips.

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Software Engineers Are the Heroes of New Computer History Museum Exhibit
Posted by News Fetcher on January 27 '17 at 02:41 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's changing-the-world department:
Tekla Perry writes: The Computer History Museum set out to turn the spotlight on software engineers and show how they are the changing the world. But what projects to feature in the new, permanent exhibit [called "Make Software: Change the World!"] (that opens to the public this Saturday, January 28th)? The curators whittled a list of 100 technologies that owe their existence to breakthroughs in software down to seven: Photoshop, the MP3, the MRI, car crash simulation, Wikipedia, texting, and World of Warcraft. They expect these choices to be debated at length, in particular, World of Warcraft, but hope the exhibition elevates the prominence of software engineers and gets more than a few middle schoolers talking about targeting their career plans in that direction.

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New, Higher Measurement of Universe's Expansion May Lead To a 'New Physics'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 11:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's faster-than-expected-expansion department:
doug141 writes: Astronomers have measured the universe's current expansion rate (a value known as the Hubble constant) at about 44.7 miles (71.9 kilometers) per second per megaparsec (3.26 million light-years). This is consistent with a calculation that was announced last year by a research team, but it's considerably higher than the rate that was estimated by the European Space Agency's Planck satellite mission in 2015 -- about 41.6 miles (66.9 km) per second per megaparsec. The cause of this discrepancy is unclear. "The expansion rate of the universe is now starting to be measured in different ways with such high precision that actual discrepancies may possibly point towards new physics beyond our current knowledge of the universe," a researcher said. Mike Wall writes via Space.com: "The differences in the Hubble constant estimates may reflect something that astronomers don't understand about the early universe, or something that has changed since that long-ago epoch, scientists have said. For example, it's possible that dark energy -- the mysterious force that's thought to be driving the universe's accelerating expansion -- has grown in strength over the eons, members of Riess' team said last year. The discrepancy could also indicate that dark matter -- the strange, invisible stuff that astronomers think vastly outweighs 'normal' matter throughout the universe -- has as-yet-unappreciated characteristics, or that Einstein's theory of gravity has some holes, they added."

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New York Approves Largest US Offshore Wind Farm Off Long Island
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 09:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's renewable-energy department:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has approved what will be the longest U.S. offshore wind farm when it's built off the east end of Long Island. When it's all said and done, it will generate enough electricity to power more than 50,000 homes on Long Island's South Fork. Computerworld reports: The South Fork Wind Farm will consist of 15 wind turbines with 90 megawatts (MW) of capacity. While the project still needs to complete its permitting process, construction could start as early as 2019 and it may be operational as early as 2022. The approval of the South Fork Wind Farm, to be located 30 miles southeast of Montauk, is the first step toward developing 1,000 megawatts (1 gigawatt) of offshore wind power, Cuomo said in a statement. The wind farm approval comes two weeks after Cuomo's State of the State Address, during which he called for the development of 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. The 2.4 gigawatt target, which is enough power generation for 1.25 million homes, is the largest commitment to offshore wind energy in U.S. history, Cuomo said. Cuomo wants New York state to get 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. The nation's first offshore wind farm, the Block Island Wind Farm, went live last month. Both the Block Island and South Fork wind farms are owned by Deepwater Wind, a company based in Providence, R.I.

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Scientists Finally Turn Hydrogen Into a Metal, Ending a 80-Year Quest
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 07:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gas-to-a-solid department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In 1935, scientists predicted that the simplest element, hydrogen, could also become metallic under pressure, and they calculated that it would take 25 GigaPascals to force this transition (each Gigapascal is about 10,000 atmospheres of pressure). That estimate, in the words of the people who have finally made metallic hydrogen, "was way off." It took until last year for us to reach pressures where the normal form of hydrogen started breaking down into individual atoms -- at 380 GigaPascals. Now, a pair of Harvard researchers has upped the pressure quite a bit more, and they have finally made hydrogen into a metal. All of these high-pressure studies rely on what are called diamond anvils. This hardware places small samples between two diamonds, which are hard enough to stand up to extreme pressure. As the diamonds are forced together, the pressure keeps going up. Current calculations suggested that metallic hydrogen might require just a slight boost in pressure from the earlier work, at pressures as low as 400 GigaPascals. But the researchers behind the new work, Ranga Dias and Isaac Silvera, discovered it needed quite a bit more than that. In making that discovery, they also came to a separate realization: normal diamonds weren't up to the task. "Diamond failure," they note, "is the principal limitation for achieving the required pressures to observe SMH," where SMH means "solid metallic hydrogen" rather than "shaking my head." The team came up with some ideas about what might be causing the diamonds to fail and corrected them. One possibility was surface defects, so they etched all diamonds down by five microns to eliminate these. Another problem may be that hydrogen under pressure could be forced into the diamond itself, weakening it. So they cooled the hydrogen to slow diffusion and added material to the anvil that absorbed free hydrogen. Shining lasers through the diamond seemed to trigger failures, so they switched to other sources of light to probe the sample. After loading the sample and cranking up the pressure (literally -- they turned a handcrank), they witnessed hydrogen's breakdown at high pressure, which converted it from a clear sample to a black substance, as had been described previously. But then, somewhere between 465 and 495 GigaPascals, the sample turned reflective, a key feature of metals The study has been published in the journal Science.

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New York Okays Largest US Offshore Wind Farm Off Long Island
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's renewable-energy department:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has approved what will be the longest U.S. offshore wind farm when it's built off the east end of Long Island. When it's all said and done, it will generate enough electricity to power more than 50,000 homes on Long Island's South Fork. Computerworld reports: The South Fork Wind Farm will consist of 15 wind turbines with 90 megawatts (MW) of capacity. While the project still needs to complete its permitting process, construction could start as early as 2019 and it may be operational as early as 2022. The approval of the South Fork Wind Farm, to be located 30 miles southeast of Montauk, is the first step toward developing 1,000 megawatts (1 gigawatt) of offshore wind power, Cuomo said in a statement. The wind farm approval comes two weeks after Cuomo's State of the State Address, during which he called for the development of 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. The 2.4 gigawatt target, which is enough power generation for 1.25 million homes, is the largest commitment to offshore wind energy in U.S. history, Cuomo said. Cuomo wants New York state to get 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. The nation's first offshore wind farm, the Block Island Wind Farm, went live last month. Both the Block Island and South Fork wind farms are owned by Deepwater Wind, a company based in Providence, R.I.

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Google's Pixel 2 To Feature Improved Camera, CPU and Higher Price, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 04:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-to-expect department:
Google's Pixel smartphone was released in October last year, but we're already starting to hear about the "Pixel 2" successor. The "reliable" source told 9to5Google that the next Google flagship will feature an improved camera, faster CPU and higher price tag. Interestingly, the source notes a "budget" Pixel is in the works. 9to5Google reports: We're also now being told, however, that Google is once again focusing intensely on the camera with Pixel 2, that the device is currently being tested with improved chipsets from two different manufacturers, and that it will bring a higher price. Finally, the same source says Google has lately been testing lower-end Pixel devices which would bring lesser specs and a much lower price tag. As for waterproofing, this is a slight change in tone today from this same source that before told us the feature would "definitely" be coming with the next Pixel. Now we're told that the feature is "still on the table," which would suggest a less firm position from Google on the feature. More interestingly, we're now told that -- just like with last year's model -- the Pixel 2's camera will be a major focus for the Mountain View company. Our source says that, specifically, Google is aiming to master low light photography with the next-generation device. We're further told that the phone's camera will "not have large MP size," but will rather "compensate in extra features." Our source says that multiple Pixel 2 models are being tested now with improved chipsets: "some with Snapdragon 83X chips, others with Intel chips." We're also told that MediaTek was at one point collaborating with Google on the Pixel 2, but isn't any longer. Finally, our source has indicated to us that Google is internally testing a "few" prototypes of a device they referred to as "Pixel 2B" which would purportedly be released either "alongside or shortly after Pixel 2." This phone would bring with it a lower-price point and less powerful hardware, and would be "aimed at different markets," our source says. As for the price of the next Pixel, we're told that -- as of the time of this writing at least -- Google is expecting that there will be "eat least" a $50 USD increase in price.

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Breach Notification Website LeakedSource Allegedly Raided By Feds
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 04:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's source-of-the-leak department:
Breach notification service LeakedSource may be permanently shut down after the owner of the site was raided earlier this week. "At the start of the new year, LeakedSource indexed more than 3 billion records," reports CSO Online. "Their collection is the result of information sharing between a number of sources, including those who hacked the data themselves. Access to the full archive requires a membership fee." From the report: On the OGFlip forum Thursday, a user posted vague details about the LeakedSource raid, but Salted Hash has been unable to verify the claims. The U.S. Department of Justice will not comment, refusing to confirm or deny any investigations related to LeakedSource. The operators of the notification service itself have been offline for several days, and the LeakedSource website stopped working late Tuesday evening. The message from OGF reads as follows: âoeLeakedsource is down forever and won't be coming back. Owner raided early this morning. Wasn't arrested, but all SSD's got taken, and Leakedsource servers got subpoena'd and placed under federal investigation. If somehow he recovers from this and launches LS again, then I'll be wrong. But I am not wrong. (sic)"

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Tesla Sues Former Autopilot Executive For Allegedly Stealing Secrets, Poaching Coworkers
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 03:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's chamber-of-secrets department:
Tesla has filed a lawsuit Thursday against its former director of Autopilot Programs, Sterling Anderson, for breach of contract. The company alleges Anderson took proprietary information about the Autopilot program and recruited fellow Tesla employees to work with him at another autonomous driving company. In addition, the lawsuit names the former head of Google's autonomous car project, Chris Urmson, as a defendant, and alleges both executives were attempting to start a company together, called Aurora. CNBC reports: According to TechCrunch, Anderson had acted as Tesla's director of Autopilot Programs for a little over a year. Tesla alleges that Anderson, while still a Tesla employee, pulled "hundreds of gigabytes" of proprietary data from company computers, and installed it on a personal hard drive. Tesla also alleges that Anderson tried to hide his tracks by wiping phones, deleting browser histories, permanently erasing computer files, and even manipulating time stamps on related files, "in an apparent effort to obscure the dates on which they had last been modified or accessed." Tesla also alleges the pair attempted to poach at least 12 other Tesla employees, though they only successfully recruited two. "Automakers have created a get-rich-quick environment. Small teams of programmers with little more than demoware have been bought for as much as a billion dollars. Cruise Automation, a 40-person firm, was purchased by General Motors in July 2016 for nearly $1 billion. In August 2016, Uber acquired Otto, another self-driving startup that had been founded only seven months earlier, in a deal worth more than $680 million," the company said in the suit.

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First Human-Pig 'Chimera' Created in Milestone Study
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 03:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's breakthrough department:
Scientists have created a human-pig hybrid in a milestone study that raises the prospect of being able to grow human organs inside animals for use in transplants. From a report: It marks the first time that embryos combining two large, distantly-related species have been produced. The creation of this so-called chimera -- named after the cross-species beast of Greek mythology -- has been hailed as a significant first step towards generating human hearts, livers and kidneys from scratch. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, who led the work on the part-pig, part-human embryos at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, said: "The ultimate goal is to grow functional and transplantable tissue or organs, but we are far away from that. This is an important first step." The study has reignited ethical concerns that have threatened to overshadow the field's clinical promise. The work inevitably raises the spectre of intelligent animals with humanised brains and also the potential for bizarre hybrid creatures to be accidentally released into the wild. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) placed a moratorium on funding for the controversial experiments last year while these risks were considered.

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Customer Feedback Surveys Could Be Considered Harmful
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's scratch-beneath-the-surface department:
Longtime Slashdot reader Stunt Pope writes: Customer Feedback surveys are now near-ubiquitous, subjecting us all to near-Black Mirror-esque pursuit to "rate your experience" for everything from going to the bank to ordering a pizza. Thanks to The Curse of Goodhart's Law, all of these surveys are beyond useless and even damaging. Mark Jeftovic writes in a blog post: "The shop/hire-rate-reward feedback loop has become baked-in to some systems. Many live marketplaces incorporate these feedback transactions into ratings, which then become a score which then impacts future prospects of whomever is being rated. And that's where the trouble starts. There is a point where this stops being useful and the knock-on effects of a ratings system predicated on feedback results becomes counter-productive. That point is when the ratings become targets. When a company decrees 'All customer feedback ratings must score a minimum of X, or else...' the company has just commenced the process of invalidating and corrupting all useful information to be gleaned from that feedback/survey process. A label which captures this concept is 'Goodhart's Law' -- after economist Charles Goodhart, who posited in essence that 'when a measure becomes a target, it becomes useless.'"

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Facebook Dumps Personalized 'Trending Topics' After Backlash
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's personalized-news-for-nerds department:
As the company works to strengthen its reputation as a place for news and curb the spread of misinformation on the site, Facebook announced it has removed the personalized interest-based list of news topics on the right-hand side of your news feed. Now everyone in a geographic region will see the same trending topics. CNET reports: In addition to doing away with the personalized list, there are two other big changes to the trending topics section that will start rolling out today and will take place for everyone in the U.S. "in the coming weeks." First, instead of just seeing a bare-bones topic, like "Saturn" or "X-men," two things that had been trending for me, you'll see a full headline from one of the news stories about that topic. That's the headline that had always popped up when you hovered over the topic. Second, Facebook is changing the way the topics are selected. The topics had been chosen based on how many people on Facebook are engaging with it. With the new changes, Facebook will look at the number of outlets posting stories on a particular topic, and decide its inclusion based on engagement around that group of articles. "This should surface trending topics quicker, be more effective at capturing a broader range of news and events from around the world and also help ensure that topics reflect real world events being covered by multiple news outlets," Will Cathcart, vice president of product management, said in a statement.

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Microsoft Reportedly Working On a 'Lightweight Version of Windows' Known As 'Cloud Shell'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 12:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's always-with-you department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Neowin: Last week, details emerged of Microsoft's plans to develop a single, unified, 'adaptive shell' for Windows 10. Known as the 'Composable Shell', or CSHELL, the company's efforts were said to be focused on establishing a universal Windows 10 version with a standardized framework to scale and adapt the OS to any type of device, display size or user experience, including smartphones, PCs, tablets, consoles, large touchscreens, and more. Today, Petri reported that Microsoft is working on a new shell for Windows known as 'Cloud Shell'. According to internal documentation referred to in that report, Cloud Shell is described as a "lightweight version of Windows designed for the modern computing world." It also hints at plans to introduce the Cloud Shell sometime in 2017 -- but little else is known about the new shell besides that. Cloud Shell is said to be connected, in some way, with the Windows Store and Universal Windows Platform app framework, and the report speculates that it may also be related to Microsoft's plans to bring the full version of Windows 10 to mobile devices with ARM-based processors, which it announced in December. However, the cloud nomenclature, and the reference to this being a 'lightweight' version of Windows could hint at a 'thin client'-style approach, in which the Windows 10 shell could be streamed from Microsoft's Azure platform to any device with an internet connection, while its cloud servers remotely handle all of the processing and storage requirements of each users' tasks.

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