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EFF's Latest Privacy Report Criticizes Amazon and WhatsApp Over Policies That 'Fall Short'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '17 at 12:42 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published the latest edition of its "Who has your back" privacy report. This is the seventh report from the digital rights group, and this year it criticizes both WhatsApp and Amazon for having policies that "fall short of other similar technology companies." Four big telecom companies -- AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile, and Verizon -- performed very poorly, while at the other end of the scale Adobe, Credo, Dropbox, Lyft, Pinterest, Sonic, Uber, Wickr, and WordPress were all praised. In all, the report rates 26 technology companies in five key areas relating to privacy and government data requests: "Follows industry-wide best practices," "Tells users about government data requests," "Promises not to sell out users," "Stands up to NSL gag orders" and "Pro-user public policy: Reform 702." While the report points out that some progress has been made, generally speaking, in the technology world, AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile, and Verizon were all awarded a single star out of a possible five. Amazon and WhatsApp both scored just two out of five, leading the Electronic Freedom Foundation to say: "We urge both Amazon and WhatsApp to improve their policies in the coming year so they match the standards of other major online services."

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AT&T Pretends To Love Net Neutrality, Joins Tomorrow's Protest With A Straight Face
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '17 at 12:42 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's trolling-level-100 department:
Karl Bode, writing for TechDirt: You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger enemy of net neutrality than the fine folks at AT&T. The company has a history of all manner of anti-competitive assaults on the open and competitive internet, from blocking customer access to Apple FaceTime unless users subscribed to more expensive plans, to exempting its own content from arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps while penalizing streaming competitors. AT&T also played a starring role in ensuring the FCC's 2010 net neutrality rules were flimsy garbage, and sued to overturn the agency's tougher, 2015 rules. So it's with a combination of amusement and awe to see the company's top lobbying and policy head, Bob Quinn, pen a missive over at the AT&T website proudly proclaiming the company will be joining tomorrow's "day of action protest" in support of keeping the existing rules intact. According to Quinn, the company still opposes the FCC's popular 2015 consumer protections, but wanted to participate in the protest because that's just how much the sweethearts at AT&T adore the open internet.

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Facebook Messenger Globally Tests Injecting Display Ads Into Inbox
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '17 at 11:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's oh-no department:
From a TechCrunch report: Messaging is the center of mobile, and Facebook wants ads in front of all those eyes. After seeing "promising results from Australia and Thailand," Facebook Messenger is expanding its display ad beta test that lets businesses buy space between your chat threads. Later this month, a small percentage of users will start seeing ads in the Messenger app's home tab. Facebook tells TechCrunch that where these ads appear in the inbox "depends on how many threads a user has, the size of their phone's physical screen and the pixel density of the display." Over the next month, Facebook will gradually roll out Messenger ads to all advertisers globally. They'll have the ability to buy through the Ads Manager or Power Editor, with Messenger becoming one of the automatic placements for Facebook ads alongside the main Facebook app, Instagram and the Audience Network of other apps and sites. Ads aren't targeted by what people write in messages, and instead use the same Facebook targeting, measurement tools and minimum 50 percent pixels in view standard for viewability.

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Microsoft's Default Font Is at the Center Of a Government Corruption Case
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '17 at 11:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's great-deduction department:
Calibri, a font that was created in 2004 and made default option on PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and WordPad by Microsoft in 2007, is currently sitting at the center of a corruption investigation involving Pakistan's Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. From a report: Accused of illegally profiting from his position since the 1990s, Sharif is now under investigation by the Joint Investigative Team -- a collective of Pakistani police, military, and financial regulators -- after a treasure trove of evidence surfaced with 2016's release of The Panama Papers. In a report obtained by Al Jazeera, investigators recommended a case be filed in the National Accountability Court after concluding there were "significant gap[s]" in Sharif's ability to account for his familial assets. [...] Sharif contends that neither he, nor his family, profited from his position of power, a denial that came under scrutiny today after his daughter and political heir apparent, Maryam Nawaz, produced documents from 2006 that prove her father's innocence. Unfortunately for the Nawaz family, type experts today confirmed the documents were written in Calibri, a font that wasn't available until 2007.

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Fedora 26 Linux Distro Released
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '17 at 10:03 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-Linux-distros department:
Reader BrianFagioli writes: Today, Fedora 26 sheds its pre-release status and becomes available for download as a stable release. GNOME fans are in for a big treat, as version 3.24 is default. If you stick to stable Fedora releases, this will be your first time experiencing that version of the desktop environment since it was released in March. Also new is LibreOffice 5.3, which is an indispensable suite for productivity. If you still use mp3 music files I've moved onto streaming), support should be baked in for both encoding and decoding. "The latest version of Fedora's desktop-focused edition provides new tools and features for general users as well as developers. GNOME 3.24 is offered with Fedora 26 Workstation, which includes a host of updated functionality including Night Light, an application that subtly changes screen color based on time of day to reduce effect on sleep patterns, and LibreOffice 5.3, the latest update to the popular open source office productivity suite. For developers, GNOME 3.24 provides matured versions of Builder and Flatpak to make application development for a variety of systems, including Rust and Meson, easier across the board," says the Fedora Project.

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Windows Phone Dies Today
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '17 at 10:03 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's rip-windows-phone department:
From a report: Microsoft is killing off Windows Phone 8.1 support today, more than three years after the company first introduced the update. The end of support marks an end to the Windows Phone era, and the millions of devices still running the operating system. While most have accepted that the death of Windows Phone occurred more than a year ago, AdDuplex estimates that nearly 80 percent of all Windows-powered phones are still running Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8, or Windows Phone 8.1. All of these handsets are now officially unsupported, and only 20 percent of all Windows phones are running the latest Windows 10 Mobile OS.

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Ebay 'Millionaire' Sellers in Germany and UK Grow 50 Percent in Four Years
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '17 at 08:44 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-things-work-there department:
"Millionaire" online businesses selling on ecommerce site Ebay have jumped 50 percent in key international markets Britain and Germany in the last four years, despite currency swings that have slowed growth outside the United States. From a report: Fresh data published on Tuesday by Ebay shows the number of million euro businesses selling on Ebay grew to 1,095 from 731 in Germany last year since 2013 while million pound-plus businesses rose to 663 from 443 in Britain over the same time period. Ebay's two big European markets were collectively responsible for 30 percent of Ebay's total net revenue of nearly $9 billion last year, although reported revenue in both markets dipped amid currency declines against the U.S. dollar. Two examples in the north of England are MusicMagpie.co.uk, which buys used CDs, DVDs and electronics from consumers for resale on Ebay in more than 140 countries, and cycling accessory seller MaxGear, now a 3.5 million pound ($4.51 million) a year business. While the company founded 22 years ago started out as an online auction site for consumers to trade second-hand goods, 80 percent of merchandise now sold via Ebay is new, largely fixed-price items, the company reported in the first quarter of 2017.

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Tech Boss Attacks 'Whiners' in Angry Email
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '17 at 08:44 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's in-other-news department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: The co-founder of a Silicon Valley investment firm said it is "not my job to make you all feel good" in a long email to staff and investors. Jonathan Teo from Binary Capital was responding to negative press coverage about the firm following allegations of sexual harassment by his co-founder Justin Caldbeck. He added that he was "tired and indignant," and raged against "whiners" who demanded his attention. Mr Teo has already offered to resign. He did so after Mr Caldbeck left the firm in June. "I'm incredibly sorry," Mr Caldbeck tweeted when the news broke last month. Mr Caldbeck's actions were one of several sexism scandals to rock Silicon Valley in recent months. They include a damning report into the work culture inside ride-hailing firm Uber, and the resignation of venture capitalist Dave McClure, who admitted "inexcusable behaviour" towards "multiple women."

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First Object Teleported From Earth To Orbit
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '17 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's breakthrough department:
Researchers in China have teleported a photon from the ground to a satellite orbiting more than 500 kilometers above. From a report: Last year, a Long March 2D rocket took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert carrying a satellite called Micius, named after an ancient Chinese philosopher who died in 391 B.C. The rocket placed Micius in a Sun-synchronous orbit so that it passes over the same point on Earth at the same time each day. Micius is a highly sensitive photon receiver that can detect the quantum states of single photons fired from the ground. That's important because it should allow scientists to test the technological building blocks for various quantum feats such as entanglement, cryptography, and teleportation. Today, the Micius team announced the results of its first experiments. The team created the first satellite-to-ground quantum network, in the process smashing the record for the longest distance over which entanglement has been measured. And they've used this quantum network to teleport the first object from the ground to orbit. Teleportation has become a standard operation in quantum optics labs around the world. The technique relies on the strange phenomenon of entanglement. This occurs when two quantum objects, such as photons, form at the same instant and point in space and so share the same existence. In technical terms, they are described by the same wave function.

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Microsoft Pledges To Bring Better Broadband To Two Million Rural Americans in the Next Five Years
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '17 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's last-mile department:
Microsoft on Tuesday announced a new campaign to try to "eliminate" the gap in high-speed internet access in the country's hardest-to-reach areas -- an effort called the Rural Airband Initiative, which will set an ambitious target of bringing better broadband to two million Americans within the next five years. From a report: The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant plans to start its efforts in 12 states, offering seed money -- Microsoft wouldn't specify the amount -- to local telecom providers that are trying to improve internet access through means like "white spaces," which are the invisible, wireless radio airwaves that aren't already owned by broadcasters. From Microsoft point of view, this approach -- aimed at delivering speedy wireless internet -- is the best way to improve connectivity in parts of the country that broadband providers long have ignored, given the prohibitive costs of building and sustaining networks there. By Microsoft's count, more than 23 million Americans in rural areas currently lack high-speed internet access, despite billions of dollars in federal investment. But the company emphasized that it is not looking to become a telecom provider -- it's only providing capital to local firms -- and does not seek to profit from the endeavor. Through revenue-sharing agreements, Microsoft instead plans to invest any money it raises in additional projects in other states where internet access is lacking.

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Newspapers To Bid For Antitrust Exemption To Tackle Google and Facebook
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '17 at 07:12 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's band-together department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The news industry is to band together to seek a limited antitrust exemption from Congress in an effort to fend off growing competition from Facebook and Google. Traditional competitors including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as a host of smaller print and online publications, will temporarily set aside their differences this week and appeal to federal lawmakers to let them negotiate collectively with the technology giants to safeguard the industry. Antitrust laws traditionally prevent companies from forming such an alliance which could see them becoming over-dominant in a particular sector. However, the media companies will be hoping that Congress will look favorably on a temporary exemption, particularly giving the recent clampdown on the technology industry which saw Google slapped with a $2.7 billion antitrust fine. The campaign is led by newspaper industry trade group News Media Alliance and it is intended to help the industry collaborate in order to regain market share from Facebook and Google, which have been swooping in on newspapers' distribution and advertising revenues. The two companies currently command 70 percent of the $73 billion digital advertising industry in the U.S., according to new research from the Pew Research Centre. Meanwhile, U.S. newspaper ad revenue in 2016 was $18 billion from $50 billion a decade ago.

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British Judge Uses Personal Email To Send Details of Sensitive Court Case
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '17 at 02:33 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's there's-a-time-and-a-place department:
New submitter evolutionary shares a report from The Register: Concerns have been raised over a British judge's use of his personal email address to send out a ruling in a family court case, which contained sensitive personal information. The Register has seen evidence that the judge in question used two personal accounts to send out a draft ruling and final ruling: one using a domain owned by his son and another email account associated with iCloud. The use of personal email seems highly unusual - with all government departments subject to the mandatory guidance for securing government email. [One legal expert, who asked not to be named, told The Register that the judge's behavior raised a number of issues such as a possible breach of mandatory standards, and "may pose a risk to the organization he works for and those he interacts with outside the organization." evolutionary adds: "The article doesn't specify the tone suggests emails sent were unencrypted."

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Would You Buy the iPhone 8 If It Cost $1,200?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '17 at 11:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's four-digits department:
As we near the launch of the next iPhone, rumors are swirling about what it may feature. One of the most recent reports comes from developer and blogger John Gruber, who claims the iPhone 8 will have a starting price of around $1200. 9to5Mac reports: He last week said that he believed that what we've been referring to as the iPhone 8 would be called the iPhone Pro and that he actually hoped it would be really expensive: "I hope the iPhone Pro starts at $1500 or higher. I'd like to see what Apple can do in a phone with a higher price." As you might imagine, that generated quite a bit of discussion. Gruber has backed down somewhat from this position, and is now suggesting a starting point of around $1200: "$1,500 as a starting price is probably way too high. But I think $1,200 is quite likely as the starting price, with the high-end model at $1,300 or $1,400." His argument is effectively that Apple is constrained in what it can do in a phone because any technology included in the phone has to be available in huge volumes. If it were willing to sell fewer at a higher price, then it would have more options. There has been speculation that Gruber may have been tipped by Apple, and using his posts to prepare the ground for what would otherwise be a severe case of sticker shock. But Gruber denied this. If Apple does launch the iPhone 8 with a 4-figure price tag, would you buy it?

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Trump Proposes Joint 'Cyber Security Unit' With Russia, Then Quickly Backs Away From It
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '17 at 07:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department:
In a series of tweets yesterday, President Trump proposed "an impenetrable Cyber Security unit" with Putin "so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe." The news came as a shock to just about everyone who got word of it, including congressional members of his own GOP party. Less than 24 hours later, Trump decided against it, tweeting: "The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't-but a ceasefire can,& did!" Ars Technica reports: "It's not the dumbest idea I have ever heard, but it's pretty close," Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican of South Carolina, said of the plan. Senate Republican Marco Rubio of Florida tweeted that "partnering with Putin on a 'Cyber Security Unit' is akin to partnering with [Syrian President Bashar] Assad on a 'Chemical Weapons Unit."' Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that Trump and the Russian president decided at a meeting during a Group of 20 nations summit in Hamburg, Germany, to embark on a joint "cyber unit to make sure that there was absolutely no interference whatsoever, that they would work on cyber security together." But on Sunday, after it was clear that the plan was going nowhere, Trump took to Twitter and said no deal. That didn't stop Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia, from introducing on Monday an amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that would bar a US-Russian cyber accord. He said: "Donald Trump's proposal to form a 'cyber security unit' with Putin is a terrible idea that would immediately jeopardize American cybersecurity... Trump must acknowledge that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and take strong, meaningful action to prevent it from happening again in future elections."

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Only 100 Companies Are Responsible For 71 Percent of Global Emissions, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '17 at 06:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fossil-fuel-producers department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report. The Carbon Majors Report (pdf) "pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions," says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute. The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 -- the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established -- can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988. If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as they were between 1988 and 2017, says the report, global average temperatures would be on course to rise by 4C by the end of the century. This is likely to have catastrophic consequences including substantial species extinction and global food scarcity risks.

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Spotify Denies Allegations It's Putting Fake Artists On Popular Playlists To Cut Costs
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '17 at 06:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
Last year, music industry publication Music Business Worldwide (MBW) claimed Spotify was putting fake artists in some of its popular playlists. The publication listed 50 artists it claimed were not real. Why would they do such a thing? To keep royalty costs down. MBW claimed that Spotify "was asking producers to create music to specification and paying them a flat fee to own the track outright," reports FACT Magazine. "These tracks -- which MBW alleged were being used to bulk up numbers on ambient, chillout and piano playlists -- are said to be owned by Spotify so that the company could circumvent royalty payments on playlists that have millions of subscribers." From the report: The claims were brought to wider attention by a feature published by Vulture last week, which picked out acts called Deep Watch and Enno Aare as examples of "fake artists" that had racked up two million and 15 million streams despite having no public profile. In a statement given to Billboard last week, Spotify refuted the allegations made by both MBW and Vulture. "We do not and have never created 'fake' artists and put them on Spotify playlists," the company said. "Categorically untrue, full stop. We pay royalties -- sound and publishing -- for all tracks on Spotify, and for everything we playlist. We do not own rights, we're not a label, all our music is licensed from rightsholders and we pay them -- we don't pay ourselves. We do not own this content -- we license it and pay royalties just like we do on every other track." In a piece published yesterday, MBW challenged Spotify's statement, citing anonymous sources in the music business who claimed that the practice has been going on for a "long time."

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Seattle City Council Unanimously Approves Income Tax For the Rich
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '17 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's Robin-Hood department:
reifman writes: Amazon, tech employees and those making $250,000 or more annually in Seattle will now pay a 2.25 percent income tax. "The Seattle City Council estimates that the tax would bring in an additional $140 million each year," reports GeekWire. "The revenue would go toward the city's housing affordability agenda and carbon reduction goals and supplant federal funds if they are cut. The revenue is also intended to alleviate the burden of Washington's property and sales taxes, which are often called the most regressive in the country." Anyone who's seen Amazon's impacts on Seattle and its low and middle income residents will appreciate how this tax will help the homeless, lower income and improve the environment. Not everyone is thrilled with the recently approved legislation. Jason Mercier, who directs the center for government reform with the Washington Police Center, said: "[The council is] going to unanimously adopt an illegal income tax that has no hope of taking effect and will waste taxpayer resources on litigation the city is sure to lose." The measure is expected to be challenged in court, as Washington's constitution states "a county, city, or city-county shall not levy a tax on net income." According to The Washington Post, Mercier said there is decade of case law saying that a graduated income tax is unconstitutional because income is property and under the constitution, property tax has to be taxed uniformly and no more than 1 percent.

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Russians Now Need a Passport To Watch Pornhub
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '17 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's jump-through-hoops department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VICE News: Pornhub, the world's biggest porn site, now requires users in Russia to log in using social media accounts linked to their passports and cell phones. Monday's change is the latest chapter of an ongoing feud between Pornhub and the Russian government. The site was blocked in Russia last September for allegedly spreading information detrimental to the development of children, then reinstated in April after instituting a requirement that users specify their age. At the time, Pornhub asked the Russian state media regulation agency whether officials there would lift the ban if they were given free Pornhub Premium accounts. Pornhub announced the change on its own Vkontakte page page by saying "now you can simply log in through your favorite social network" instead of filling in your date of birth. But the government policy that Pornhub says prompted the change presumably wasn't aimed at making it easier for Russians to watch porn. Instead, it may be a means of surveillance; to open a Vkontakte account, users need to enter their cell phone numbers. And to legally purchase a SIM card in Russia, you need to disclose your passport information. "While this exact method is not a condition [from the Russian government], we found this is the best solution for our users to comply with Russian access laws," Pornhub Vice President Corey Price said. "Also to be clear, Pornhub does not log or store any of your personal information, this is just a check to see if users are over 18. On [Vkontakte's] end, all they will see is see the request from that user, they will not know what that user browsed on Pornhub."

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Ask Slashdot: Is There a Way To Experience the Chinese Internet From Outside?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '17 at 03:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's great-firewall department:
dryriver writes: In 2008, a bunch of crafty developers created a Firefox plugin called China Channel. It apparently allowed you to connect to a proxy server in China, and experience the -- heavily censored and filtered -- internet as Chinese citizens experienced it back then. The nearly decade old plugin doesn't seem to work anymore. My modern Firefox browser couldn't install it. So the question: is there a way to surf the internet as if you were inside China, and experience for yourself how much of the experience is censored or filtered? It would be interesting to experience firsthand what the Great Firewall of China lets you see of the free world and internet as we know it in 2017, and what it does not.

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Ubuntu Is Now Available On the Windows Store
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '17 at 03:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-and-get-it department:
Ubuntu is now available for download on the Windows Store. "Initially spotted by Rafael Rivera and Necrosoft Core on Twitter, Ubuntu on the Windows Store will let you install and run the Ubuntu terminal on Windows next to your other apps," reports Windows Central. From the report: Ubuntu's arrival, and that of SUSE, are part of a recent push by Microsoft to embrace Linux and the open source community more broadly. This began with the arrival of the Windows Subsystem for Linux in 2016, allowing users to use the Bash shell from within Windows. Keep in mind that this is limited to the Fall Creators Update, which isn't set for a public release until later this year. If you're running a PC testing the Fall Creators Update through the Windows Insider Program, however, you should be able to download and try Ubuntu from the Windows Store just fine.

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