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A New Study Says Services Like UberPool Are Making Traffic Worse
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '18 at 06:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
The explosive growth of Uber and Lyft has created a new traffic problem for major U.S. cities and ride-sharing options such as UberPool and Lyft Line are exacerbating the issue by appealing directly to customers who would otherwise have taken transit, walked, biked or not used a ride-hail service at all, according to a new study. From a report: The report by Bruce Schaller, author of the influential study, "Unsustainable?", which found ride-hail services were making traffic congestion in New York City worse, constructs a detailed profile of the typical ride-hail user and issues a stark warning to cities: make efforts to counter the growth of ride-hail services, or surrender city streets to fleets of private cars, creating a more hostile environment for pedestrians and cyclists and ultimately make urban cores less desirable places to live. Schaller concludes that where private ride options such as UberX and Lyft have failed on promises to cut down on personal driving and car ownership -- both of which are trending up -- pooled ride services have lured a different market that directly competes with subway and bus systems, while failing to achieve significantly better efficiency than their solo alternatives. The result: more driving overall. Ride sharing has added 5.7 billion vehicle miles to nine major urban areas over six years, the report says, and the trend is "likely to intensify" as the popularity of the services surges.

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Star's Black Hole Encounter Puts Einstein's Theory of Gravity To the Test
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '18 at 05:31 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's things-aren't-always-what-they-seem department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Magazine: For more than 20 years, a team of astronomers has tracked a single star whipping around the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy at up to 25 million kilometers per hour, or 3% of the speed of light. Now, the team says the close encounter has put Albert Einstein's theory of gravity to its most rigorous test yet for massive objects, with the light from the star stretched in a way not prescribed by Newtonian gravity. In a study announced today, the team says it has detected a distinctive indicator of Einstein's general theory of relativity called "gravitational redshift," in which the star's light loses energy because of the black hole's intense gravity. The star, called S2, is unremarkable apart from a highly elliptical orbit that takes it within 20 billion kilometers, or 17 light-hours, of the Milky Way's central black hole -- closer than any other known star. A team led by Reinhard Genzel at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, Germany, has been tracking S2 since the 1990s, first with the European Southern Observatory's (ESO's) 3.6-meter New Technology Telescope in Chile's Atacama Desert and later with ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), made up of four 8-meter instruments. Ghez's team at UCLA also began to observe the star around the same time with the twin 10-meter Keck telescopes in Hawaii. In a paper published today in Astronomy & Astrophysics, Genzel's group reports seeing the combined action of the relativistic effects, with the black hole's gravity redshifting S2's radial velocity by 200 kilometers per second, a small fraction of its overall speed. The results match closely with the predictions of relativity and are inconsistent with Newtonian gravity.

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Google Bans Cryptocurrency Mining Apps From the Play Store
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '18 at 02:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department:
The Google Play Store is no longer welcoming apps that mine cryptocurrencies on users' devices. The new policy plainly states: "We don't allow apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices." As a result, Google will start to remove any app from the Play Store that violates these terms. It will however still allow mining apps that are used to control cryptocurrency mining operations on remote devices -- such as servers or desktops. Bleeping Computer reports: Preventing cryptocurrency mining on Android is crucial because untethered mining operations can easily overheat or destroy batteries -- or even devices if the battery case deforms, leaks, or catches fire. Such scenarios have already happened. Android malware strains like Loapi and HiddenMalware have been known to cause physical damage to infected smartphones. Google didn't publicly announce the policy change, but developers who had apps removed complained on Reddit. Other policy changes were also made, such as the decision to ban apps with repetitive content. You can read the new "Restricted Content" section of the Play Store Policy Center here, and compare it to an earlier version here.

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Bugs In Samsung IoT Hub Leave Smart Home Open To Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '18 at 12:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-update department:
secwatcher writes from a report via Threatpost: Cisco Talos researchers found flaws located in Samsung's centralized controller, a component that connects to an array of IoT devices around the house -- from light bulbs, thermostats, and cameras. SmartThings Hub is one of several DIY home networking devices designed to allow homeowners to remotely manage and monitor digital devices. "Given that these devices often gather sensitive information, the discovered vulnerabilities could be leveraged to give an attacker the ability to obtain access to this information, monitor and control devices within the home, or otherwise perform unauthorized activities," researchers said in a report. Threatpost goes on to detail the "multiple attack chain scenarios." Thankfully, Samsung has since patched the bugs. "We are aware of the security vulnerabilities for SmartThings Hub V2 and released a patch for automatic update to address the issue," a Samsung spokesperson told Threatpost. "All active SmartThings Hub V2 devices in the market are updated to date." The company released a firmware advisory for Hub V2 devices on July 9th.

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Massachusetts Senate Passes Resolution To Do In-Depth Study On Right-To-Repair
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 08:00 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-get-serious department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: On July 25, the Massachusetts Senate approved a Resolution that would create a special commission that would research the feasibility of forcing device manufacturers to treat customers and independent repair shops the same as officially licensed repair outlets. According to the proposed study, that means providing customers and independent repair shops with "repair technical updates, diagnostic software, service access passwords, updates and corrections to firmware, and related documentation." Gay Gordon Byrne, executive director of The Repair Organization, helped push the bill in 2012 and has been working to extend the law to tech companies ever since. "This is just one step in a series of steps that will end Repair Monopolies for technology products. I'm thrilled," Byrne told me in an email about the pending study.

The Resolution to create the study group still needs to pass the Massachusetts House, but the session ends July 31 so right-to-repair watch dogs won't have to wait long to see if it goes forward. The proposed makeup of the study commission shows that the legislature is serious about the issue and also reveals how big tech's repair monopoly is about much more than just being able to open up your iPhone without voiding the warranty. The legislature wants the study commission to include 23 members, including various members of the legislature but also a wealth of experts in various tech fields. They want someone from the Massachusetts Farm Bureau, a medical device manufacturer, an expert on electronic waste recycling, someone who repairs complex medical equipment, an intellectual property lawyer, a cyber security expert, a local farmer, and various other experts and citizens affected or knowledgeable about the right-to-repair.

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New Crime-Predicting Algorithm Borrows From Apollo Space Mission Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-steps-ahead department:
Researchers from Georgia Tech and the UK's University of Surrey have developed a new predictive policing algorithm that aims to better manage police resources and gain an upper hand in the war on crime. It reportedly uses technology that's been previously used in weather forecasting and the Apollo space missions. Digital Trends reports: The new algorithm built on previous work carried out by researchers from the University of California and police forces in both the U.S. and U.K. Their 2015 research showed how a predictive policing algorithm could accurately predict between 1.4 and 2.2 times more urban crime than specialist crime analysts. By making recommendations about where to patrol, the algorithm led to a 7.4 percent reduction in crime. However, while effective, this approach has also been criticized due to concerns about possible racial profiling and the underreporting of crime. The new algorithm has so far been demonstrated on a data set of more than 1,000 violent gang crimes in Los Angeles carried out between 1999 and 2002. Early conclusions suggest that the upgraded predictive tool could prove superior for coping with the constantly fluctuating world of real-time crime prediction. The researchers published their paper in the journal Computational Statistics & Data Analysis.

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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Handle Hardware That Never Gets Software Updates?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hardware-dead-ends department:
New submitter pgralla writes from a report via HPE: Many devices, designed for both long-term and short-term use, were shortsighted when it came to flexibility. How do you handle the hardware that never gets software updates, such as embedded systems and task-dedicated equipment? The article that pgralla shared provides the example of medical devices running Windows 7. "Many of the current generation, when they were first released, used Windows 7, and the devices still work well enough that they remain in service today," reports HPE. "But Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 back in January 2015, so the operating system gets updated only with an occasional security patch as part of Microsoft's extended support. In January 2020, that extended support will end as well." Many IoT devices are in a similar boat as they're powered by embedded Linux and are not designed to be updated after they enter service." Of course, these outdated devices create all sorts of security concerns. "Hackers and their access to knowledge and computing power only go up as the years pass, which means that long-lived, fixed-firmware devices become ever more insecure over time," says Michael Barr, founder of the Barr Group, which provides engineering and consulting services for the embedded systems industry. The WannaCry ransomware hack in 2017 affected not just PCs but also medical devices, and ended up costing businesses $4 billion.

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Facebook Forced To Block 20,000 Posts About Snack Food Conspiracy After PepsiCo Sues, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 04:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's derived-from-plastic department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: There is a rumor that Kurkure, a corn puff product developed by [Pepsico] in India, is made of plastic. The conspiracy theory naturally thrived online, where people posted mocking videos and posts questioning whether the snack contained plastic. In response, PepsiCo obtained an interim order from the Delhi High Court to block all references to this conspiracy theory online in the country, MediaNama reports. Hundreds of posts claiming that Kurkure contains plastic have already been blocked across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, according to LiveMint, and the court order requires social networks to continue to block such posts. According to MediaNama, PepsiCo petitioned for 3412 Facebook links, 20244 Facebook posts, 242 YouTube videos, six Instagram links, and 562 tweets to be removed, a request the court has granted. PepsiCo's argument is that these rumors are untrue and defame the brand -- though it's evident that a number of the posts are satirical in tone, poking fun at the rumor rather than earnestly trying to spread misinformation.

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Leaked Benchmarks Suggest Intel Will Drop Hyperthreading From Core i7 Chips
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 04:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cutting-the-thread department:
According to leaked benchmarks found in the SiSoft Sandra database, there is an Intel Core i7-9700K processor that doesn't appear to have hyperthreading available. "This increases the core count from the current six cores in the 8th generation Coffee Lake parts to eight cores, but, even though it's an i7 chip, it doesn't appear to have hyperthreading available," reports Ars Technica. "It's base clock speed is 3.6GHz, peak turbo is 4.9GHz, and it has 12MB cache. The price is expected to be around the same $350 level as the current top-end i7s." From the report: For the chip that will sit above the i7-9700K in the product lineup, Intel is extending the use of its i9 branding, initially reserved for the X-series High-End Desktop Platform. The i9-9900K will be an eight-core, 16-thread processor. This bumps the cache up to 16MB and the peak turbo up to 5GHz -- and the price up to an expected $450. Below the i7s will be i5s with six cores and six threads and below them, i3s with four cores and four threads. Even without hyperthreading, the new i7s should be faster than old i7s. A part with eight cores is going to be faster than the four-core/eight-thread chips of a couple of generations ago and should in general also be faster than the six-core/12-thread 8th generation chips. Peak clock speeds are pushed slightly higher than they were for the 8th generation chips, too.

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Facebook Stock Suffers Largest One-Day Drop In History, Shedding $119 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 04:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day department:
Facebook is experiencing one its worst days as a publicly traded company. According to CNBC, Facebook lost about $119 billion of its value on Thursday, marking the biggest one-day loss in U.S. market history. From the report: The company's shares plunged $41.24, or almost 19 percent, to $176.26 a day after the social media giant reported disappointing results. The slide is the largest decline in market capitalization in history, exceeding Intel's $91 billion single-day loss in September 2000, according to Bloomberg data. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw his fortune drop by $15.9 billion to roughly $71 billion. His personal loss alone, if only on paper, exceeds the value of companies such as Molson Coors and Macy's, which have market values of $14 billion and $12 billion, respectively. Investors were spooked by Facebook's forecast showing that its number of active users is growing less quickly than expected, while the company also took a hit from Europe's new privacy laws.

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Qualcomm Ended NXP Acquistion After Failing To Secure Chinese Approval
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-luck-next-time department:
hackingbear writes: Qualcomm officially terminated the deal to buy Dutch semiconductor giant NXP after failing to get a decision from regulators in China by its deadline. It must now shell out a previously agreed upon $2 billion termination fee. The Chinese market accounts for 30% of Qualcomm's revenue. China's refusal of the approval can also be a retaliation against an $1.4 billion penalty against ZTE imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce over technicalities of ZTE's violation of Iran sanctions, a move viewed by China as a U.S. excuse to launch a trade war. "It's a reminder that trade wars are maybe not that easy to win," says Steven Roach of Morgan Stanley. "And China has a lot of ammunition up its sleeve." Roach urged the Trump administration to understand that the U.S. and China "need each other," saying low-price Chinese imports are needed to "make ends meet" for cash-strapped Americans. Separately, in a hearing at the Office of United States Trade Representative for imposing additional tariffs on Chinese imports due to the alleged intellectual property theft by China, an accusation that the U.S. itself had committed, out of some 61 figures from the country's chemical, electronics, and solar energy sectors, only six expressed their support for the move.

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New York Threatens To Kick Charter Out of State After Broadband Failures
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's taking-a-stand department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Charter Communications could lose its authorization to operate in New York State because of its failure to meet merger-related broadband deployment commitments, a key government official said. NY Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman John Rhodes said that "a suite of enforcement actions against [Charter] Spectrum are in development, including additional penalties, injunctive relief, and additional sanctions or revocation of Spectrum's ability to operate in New York State," according to a PSC announcement last week. Charter agreed to expand its network in exchange for state approval of its 2016 purchase of Time Warner Cable (TWC). New York officials say that Charter has failed to meet its commitments, even though Charter claims it has. Rhodes accused Charter of "gaslighting" and noted that the PSC has already ordered Charter to stop making misleading claims about its broadband deployment progress. The PSC last month ordered Charter to pay a $2 million fine and complete the promised network construction. If Charter doesn't meet its merger-related obligations, the company will "face the risk of having the merger revoked," the commission said at the time. A revocation of the merger could force Charter to spin off its Time Warner Cable division in New York, but it wouldn't affect Charter's ownership of TWC in other states.

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How Many Computers Does the World Need?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: It is almost a decade since Rick Rashid, then head of research at Microsoft, posed that question and ventured his own answer: no more than a few, at least to handle the vast majority of the planet's digital workload. Back then, he thought, it was possible to discern the emergence of a small group of companies that would run those computers. The give-away was that a fifth of all the servers sold in the world were already being purchased by a clutch of US tech groups that included Amazon, Google and Microsoft. [...] Of course, "how many" is a trick question when it comes to the distributed computing systems being built by today's tech giants. There are many nodes to these octopus-like systems, each with its own silicon brain and information-processing capabilities. But they are connected to a greater whole. One sign of just how far their tentacles are starting to reach came this week with Google's announcement that it has designed an AI chip to run in smartphones and other devices. Google's TPUs -- processors that are optimised to both train deep-learning algorithms and then apply them to make inferences from new data -- are already a key part of its data centre infrastructure. The new low-power version of the TPU can make inferences in "edge" devices, far from the computing core, and will be an important element in making sense of the world's data. [...] The rise of the global computers raises many questions, but two stand out: will they comprise a truly competitive market, or come to look like the more Balkanised "platform" markets in the consumer world? And what will it mean for so much computing power to be concentrated in a handful of private companies? The good news is that the cloud landscape is shaping up to be a competitive one, at least if competition can be said to truly exist between oligarchs.

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Police Are Seeking More Digital Evidence From Tech Companies
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-tension department:
U.S. law enforcement agencies are increasingly asking technology companies for access to digital evidence on mobile phones and apps, with about 80 percent of the requests granted, a new study found. From a report: The report released Wednesday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found local, state and federal law enforcement made more than 130,000 requests last year for digital evidence from six top technology companies -- Alphabet's Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Verizon' media unit Oath and Apple. If results from telecom and cable providers Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast are added in, the number jumps to more than 660,000. The requests covered everything from the content of communications to location data and names of particular users. "The number of law enforcement requests, at least as directed at the major U.S.-based tech and telecom companies, has significantly increased over time," the Washington-based think tank found. "Yet, the response rates have been remarkably consistent."

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Slack is Buying HipChat and Stride From Atlassian
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's big-fish-small-fish department:
Atlassian is selling its corporate chat software to rival Slack Technologies and taking a small stake in the startup, as they face greater competition from Microsoft. From a report: Slack will pay an undisclosed amount over the next three years to acquire Atlassian's HipChat and Stride products, chief executives from both companies said. Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield described both the payment and the investment by Atlassian in his company as "nominal" in financial terms but important strategically. He declined to elaborate on the former. The deal gives Slack, valued at north of $5 billion, more customers, most of whom pay a monthly service fee, and allows Atlassian to exit a business that failed to generate as much demand as expected. Combining the two businesses bolsters Slack at a time when Microsoft is pushing a rival product called Teams to some 135 million Office cloud customers. Microsoft introduced a free version of Teams this month in a bid to lure people who don't subscribe to Office 365.

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Microsoft Discovers Supply Chain Attack at Unnamed Maker of PDF Software
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Microsoft said today that hackers compromised a font package installed by a PDF editor app and used it to deploy a cryptocurrency miner on users' computers. From a report: The OS maker discovered the incident after its staff received alerts via the Windows Defender ATP, the commercial version of the Windows Defender antivirus. Microsoft employees say they investigated the alerts and determined that hackers breached the cloud server infrastructure of a software company providing font packages as MSI files. These MSI files were offered to other software companies. One of these downstream companies was using these font packages for its PDF editor app, which would download the MSI files from the original company's cloud servers during the editor's installation routine.

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Scientists Perfect Technique To Create Most Dense, Solid-State Memory in History that Could Soon Exceed the Capabilities of Current Hard Drives By 1,000 Times
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 12:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's breakthrough department:
New submitter weedjams shares a report: Scientists at the University of Alberta have demonstrated a new data storage technique that stores zeroes and ones by the presence (or absence) of individual hydrogen atoms. The resulting storage density is an unparalleled 1.2 petabits per square inch -- 1,000 times greater than current hard disk and solid state drives, and 100 times greater than Blu-rays. The researchers, led by PhD student Roshan Achal and physics professor Robert Wolkow, built on a technique previously developed by Walkow that used the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) to remove or replace individual hydrogen atoms resting on a silicon substrate. The inconceivably small dimensions (a hydrogen atom is only half a nanometer in diameter) allow for an astounding data storage density of 1.1 petabits (138 terabytes) per square inch. By comparison, a Blu-ray disk can "only" store about 12 terabits of data in the same area (one hundredth the data density), while both traditional magnetic hard drives and solid-state drives store somewhere in the region of 1.5 terabits per square inch (a thousandth of the density). This development, says Achal, could allow you to store the entire iTunes library of 45 million songs on the surface of a US quarter-dollar coin. Achal and his team demoed the technology by creating a 192-bit cell, which they used to store a simple rendition of the Super Mario Bros video game theme song. To show the rewrite capabilities, the scientists also created an 8-bit memory cell which they used to store the letters of the alphabet one by one, represented via their respective ASCII code. Further reading: ScienceDaily, and Nature.

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Google Search Now Provides More Details on Local Events
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 12:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's further-expansion department:
Google is quickly turning its event info from a nice-to-have extra into a major feature. From a report: If you're searching from your phone, you'll now find key details for events without having to jump to websites or apps. If it's a concert, for example, you'll find out where and when it's taking place, directions and other details. You can either jump to a ticket service if you're sold on the idea or save an event for later. And if you're not sure what to look for, you'll get some help there as well. The For You tab includes both personalized event suggestions as well as popular and trending events. If you're big on food festivals, you may see the latest barbecue appear front and center.

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DRAM Industry Likely To Face Oversupply in 2019
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 10:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's supply-and-demand department:
While the global DRAM market still remains robust currently, the recent capacity ramps by Micron Technology and the planned kick-off of commercial production by China-based Fujian Jin Hua Integrated Circuit and Innotron Memory (previously known as Hefei ChangXin) could lead to oversupply for the memory in 2019, Taiwanese newspaper DigiTimes reported Thursday, citing industry sources. From the report: Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix would be forced to overhaul their current profit-oriented business strategy as both firms believe that the booming memory market, which has continued for 2-3 years, is likely to be over by the end of 2018, according to a Korea-based Digital Times report. Although Samsung and SK Hynix both stated, at their latest investors conferences, respectively, that they will continue to ramp up capacities for memory chips, the aggressive moves by rival companies have made the two companies hesitate, said the report. Samsung has seen its share in the DRAM market continue to dive after hitting a high of 50.2% in the third quarter of 2016 as rivals including Micron have jacked up their revenues and profits. Notably, Micron has ramped up its operating margin to as high as 50% so far in 2018 compared to 20% at the end of 2016. Additionally, Samsung saw its share in the market drop to 44.4% in the first quarter of 2018, while Micron managed to ramp up its share to 23.1%, according to IHS Markit. The global DRAM market is expected to reach a peak of US$104 billion in 2018, before contracting by 1.8% and 2.6%, respectively, in 2019 and 2020, according to an industry estimate.

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Microsoft Says Price Increases Coming For Office 2019 and Windows 10 Enterprise Users
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '18 at 10:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's hit-on-wallet department:
Microsoft has price increases in store for some of its Office and Windows customers as of October 1, 2018. From a report: In a July 25 blog post, Microsoft officials acknowledged the coming increases. Office 2019, the next on-premises version of Office clients and servers which Microsoft is currently testing ahead of its launch later this year, will see increases of 10 percent over current on-premises pricing. This price increase is for commercial (business) customers) and will affect Office client, Enterprise Client Access License (CAL), Core CAL and server products, officials said. Microsoft also is rejiggering how it refers to Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and related pricing. As of October, Microsoft will be using the E3 name for the per-user version (not the per-device one). Windows 10 Enterprise E3 per User will be rechristened "Windows 10 Enterprise E3." And the current Windows 10 Enterprise E3 per Device will be renamed "Windows 10 Enterprise." According to Microsoft's blog post, the price of Windows 10 Enterprise will be raised to match the price of Windows 10 Enterprise E3. Windows 10 Enterprise E3 costs $84 per user per year.

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