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Andrew Orlowski

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Ballmer schools SatNad on Microsoft's mobile strategy: You need one

The world’s wealthiest activist shareholder, Steve Ballmer, has offered another critique of Microsoft, the company he helped build. A Business Insider interview finds Ballmer – now an “outsider” – generous and complimentary on most aspects of Nadella’s leadership. Ballmer thinks SatNad’s “cloudobile” pivot was something he …
Andrew Orlowski, 09 Feb 2016
Music listener rasta

Labels to artists: You'll get a penny, so go away

Two of the three major record labels last week promised to share some of the money from the windfall they may receive from a Spotify IPO with artists. Neither said how much will land in the busker's hat. But the implication was that this was an act of munificence, and whatever the amount is, they should be jolly grateful. …
Andrew Orlowski, 08 Feb 2016

Are Indians too stupid to be trusted with free Internet?

Comment Spurred on by wealthy white activists, the Indian telecoms regulator TRAI has stepped in to save poor Indians from themselves. Western elites think they shouldn’t get free internet. Earlier today, India banned differential pricing for data, a move which outlaws any kind of any out-of-bundle data package. That happens to …
Andrew Orlowski, 08 Feb 2016
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Imagination Tech's chief Hossein Yassaie quits, shares slide

One of the longest-serving tech chiefs in the world, Imagination Technologies’ CEO Sir Hossein Yassaie, has stepped down, with non-exec director Andrew Heath filling his shoes as interim chief. Yassaie headed the British semiconductor company for 18 years. After establishing a global toehold with its PowerVR (formerly …
Andrew Orlowski, 08 Feb 2016
Trotter's Independent Trading Co.

The Mad Men's monster is losing the botnet fight: Fewer humans are seeing web ads

Figures indicate that web advertisement fraud grew significantly in the last quarter of 2015 – and also showed that the UK’s ad biz is one of Europe’s poorest performers. Fraud checker Meetrics measures the “viewability” of online ads. If an advertisement isn’t viewable, one of several things may have happened, none of which …
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Feb 2016

Stylish Vaio biz mobe is flying this way – ah, it's got Windows 10 inside

Last year Sony offloaded its Vaio PC division and brand, and it was snapped up by a private equity outfit. The new owner promised to make luxury tech hardware that was irresistibly attractive. It's now unveiled its first Vaio phone, a stylish aluminium design, aimed at business people. What can go wrong? Well, nothing. Apart …
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Feb 2016

So. Are Europeans just a whining bunch of data protection hypocrites?

Analysis Does this week’s Safe Harbour 2.0 restore confidence in US-European data flows - or does it change absolutely nothing? Either way, the European Court needs to produce better argued and more robust judgements, reckons one of the UK’s top data protection experts, Dr Ian Walden, a Professor of Information and Communications Law at …
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Feb 2016
Pebble Time

Pebble punts out new firmware to watch you as you sleep

Pebble delivered a major update today to its watches, which boast the biggest third party app ecosystem of any wearable platform. The update is in two parts: new firmware for the devices, and new companion apps for iOS and Android. Pebble had added a Health app to the watch, allowing third parties to use the biometric API. …
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Feb 2016

Did you know ... Stephen Fry has founded a tech startup?

Did you know Stephen Fry has just founded a tech startup called Pindex? It’s a “Pinterest for Learning” that he wants teachers to use. That’s a fact. Did you know Stephen Fry wants to restore our faith in “an online world that seems to centre around trolling, bullying, hating, trivialising and belittling”? He does. It says so …
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Feb 2016

Microsoft buys SwiftKey, Britain's 'stealthiest software startup'

Microsoft has bought the British software company SwiftKey, the company we once described as "the UK's stealthiest startup". It's best known for its predictive software keyboard, and the deal is worth $250m, the Financial Times reports. SwiftKey was founded in August 2008 by two Cambridge graduates and was perfectly placed to …
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Feb 2016

Alphabetti spaghetti: What Wall Street isn't telling you about Google

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has made the front page with its latest financials – overtaking Apple as the world’s most valuable public company. But size isn’t everything. The numbers illustrate the nature of Alphabet’s grip over digital trade – with Alphabet really controlling the price of transactions, and what value …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Feb 2016

Samsung trolls Google, adds adblockers to phones

Samsung has added built-in ad-blocking capabilities to its Android browser in its latest OTA (over-the-air) update to its Lollipop 5.0 devices, which include the Galaxy S6. Samsung’s internet browser now supports third-party ad-blockers such as Adblock Fast. Firefox’s browser supports ad-blocking plug-ins, while to firewall …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Feb 2016
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Rooting your Android phone? Google’s rumbled you again

Google's crackdown on rooted Android devices continues. Citing security reasons, Google doesn’t want rooted 'Droid phones to use mobile payments via the Android Pay infrastructure. This is a standard not required by Pay’s predecessor, the now-deprecated Google Wallet. In turn, this has led to a cat-and-mouse game with Android …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Feb 2016

T-Mobile USA’s BingeOn is a smash hit. So what now?

Analysis T-Mobile USA's BingeOn gamble of removing video consumption from its subscribers' data bundles appears to be defying its critics, with large increases in mobile video viewing. The mobile network, a minnow in the US market that sees itself as the challenger brand, claims some users have doubled their usage, while one partner …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2016
Hipster with laptop photo via Shutterstock

Sorry slacktivists: The Man is shredding your robo responses

Years ago, we were told that mass democratic participation was was going to be revolutionised by the web. One click was all it would take to effect change - if only enough people clicked. We would tweet truth to power. Instead of arranging to see an elected representative, we could fill in a handy web form. The future belonged …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2016

We Googled the ex-Google guy and Google said he was clean, says Wikimedia

Hours after receiving the dreaded football manager’s vote of confidence from his board, Wikimedia’s newest trustee has quit. Tesla’s VP of Human Resources, Arnnon Geshuri, was appointed to the board of the Wikimedia Foundation over Christmas, but community members registered their disquiet with the decision.An open vote of no …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Jan 2016

OnePlus ends rationing. You can now buy its phones just like that!

You can now buy a OnePlus smartphone by simply giving the company some money. This normally wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) make news, but it’s a radical departure for the Shenzhen outfit. It means you don’t have to offer a secret password, smash up your existing phone, or win a gurning competition. As of today, all three OnePlus …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Jan 2016

Can't upgrade, won't upgrade: Windows Mobile's user problem

Microsoft’s dream of a smooth transition to Windows 10 Mobile needs a reality check. Figures from AdDuplex, which samples devices actually in use, finds that much of today’s active Windows Phone user base won’t be able to make the update. A three-year-old device, the Lumia 520, is today the most popular Windows Phone in use, …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Jan 2016

UK.gov plans to unveil a new Digital Bill

Exclusive The government wants to introduce a Digital Bill, sources familiar with its plans have revealed to The Register. The timescale would most likely see legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech in May 2017. The Ministry of Fun, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, is co-ordinating the exploratory work. Nothing has been …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Jan 2016
Stephen Colbert takes on the "democratization of knowledge"

Wikipedia board stands by new ex-Googler appointee

Tesla’s controversial HR chief has pleaded with Wikipedians for their trust, in a style so unctuous it could make Dickens’ Uriah Heep blush. Arnnon Geshuri, a former Google executive, was appointed to the Board of Trustees at the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) over the Christmas dead period. The WMF is the cash-rich organisation, …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Jan 2016
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Post-nuptial BlackBerry gives birth to Good-looking offspring

BlackBerry completed the $425m acquisition of former bitter rival Good and announced the fruit of their loins today. With plenty of overlap between the two, what's been culled? It's hard to know at this stage, but BlackBerry says the new products reflect BlackBerry's strengths in MDM (mobile device management) and Good's …
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Jan 2016
The Chocolate Festival, London

Five reasons why the Google tax deal is imploding

Listicle Today, the UK's tax deal with Google – or rather, corporate parent Alphabet Inc – looks worse than ever. Here's why. 1. Google avoids Osborne's 'Google Tax' Remember the Diverted Profits Tax? Announced in 2014, the DPT was designed to “deter and counteract” companies that “seek to avoid creating a UK permanent establishment” …
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Jan 2016
Sad Android

Fretful Amazon wishes it could get more Android action

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Amazon reportedly wants “deeper integration” with Android to persuade more phone makers to promote Amazon services. Specifics are absent from the report at The Information, which suggests “factory level” bundling. The only Amazon initiative that could seriously shift the industry …
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Jan 2016
Couple holding hands. Pic: Marina Aguiar

How El Reg predicted Google's sweetheart tax deal ... in 2013

Comment “Google will shrug off this week's tax woes with a flick of its robotic tail, and politicians and tax campaigners will declare 'success'," or so I predicted here not two years ago. The ad giant would make a symbolic gesture on paying UK corporation tax, and we’d all be told to go home. For once, I’m afraid, I was almost …
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Jan 2016

'No safe level' booze guidelines? Nonsense, thunder stats profs

The heads of Britain’s statistics society have written to the Health Secretary to point out that the government’s alcohol guidelines don’t accurately reflect the numbers. Two weeks ago the British civil servant at the Department of Health responsible for issuing medical advice (who rejoices in the corporate-inspired title of “ …
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Jan 2016
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How to save Wikipedia: Start paying editors ... or write for machines

Comment Imagine that one giant manufacturer dominated the car market. The cars it made weren’t very good, but they were much cheaper and easier to buy than cars from anyone else, so the car company had ended up dominating the market. These cars would often break down, spew noxious gasses, and a lot of the time, didn’t go where you …
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Jan 2016

Microsoft legal eagle explains why the Irish Warrant Fight covers your back

Interview Microsoft thinks its litigation against the US government to protect your data is far more important than the Schrems case. And that was pretty big. What’s it all about? The so-called “Irish warrant” case challenges Uncle Sam in areas it isn’t used to feeling any discomfort – and it encompasses far more data. So let’s hear the …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Jan 2016
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

Continuum gets some Qualcomm mid-range support

Reviewers of Microsoft’s Continuum feature have found it much like Samuel Johnson regarded lady preachers: “like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all". Continuum turns Windows 10 phones into a PC once you add a keyboard and mouse. It has its limitations, the …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Jan 2016

UK can finally 'legalise home taping' without bringing in daft new tax

EU governments don’t have to impose a levy on blank media to compensate copyright holders for losses from private copies, the European Court of Justice has decreed. It’s actually perfectly lawful to compensate them from a general fund, as Spain and Finland do, an opinion from Advocate General, Maciej Szpunar, clarified today. …
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Jan 2016
botnet

Microsoft: We’ve taken down the botnets. Europol: Would Sir like a kill switch, too?

Last December, Microsoft intercepted traffic on users’ PCs and helped break up a botnet. And nobody complained. So the company very tentatively asked at a session on ethics and policy in Brussels this week whether it should do more. John Frank, Microsoft's VP of European Government Affairs, explained how Microsoft had helped …
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Jan 2016

Bigger than Safe Harbor: Microsoft prez vows to take down US gov in data protection lawsuit

Europeans should sit up and take more notice of Microsoft’s lawsuit against the US government over secret access to their data. Why? Because it affects much more of their data than the Safe Harbour case, according to Microsoft president and lead counsel Brad Smith. “The Department of Justice does not need to wait for data to …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Jan 2016
Nokia Lumia 735 Windows Phone

Att: Windows Phone owners: Win 10 Mobile has been spotted and it wants your phone

Windows Phone users beware: Microsoft has quietly begun rolling out the Windows 10 system update in various territories. Until such a time as the new software platform reaches maturity, users may experience a loss of features, diminished battery life and unexpected bugs. And it’s an irrevocable change - once you accept Windows …
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Jan 2016

What do we do about a problem like Uber? Tom Slee speaks his brains

Interview Veteran software pro Tom Slee was one of the first critics of so-called “Sharing Economy” outfits like Uber and AirBnB. His forthcoming book What’s Yours Is Mine: Why The Sharing Economy Isn’t draws attention to the dark side of their operations – and strongly argues for regulation. But this creates a dilemma. They’re hugely …
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Jan 2016

Never mind the patent trolls. Here's a riddle: What about the inventors?

The mania for hoverboards is causing an outbreak of painful patent ignorance, says a top litigator. EIP’s Matthew Jones, who has litigated in tech and pharma cases, highlights the seizure of a Chinese hoverboard maker’s wares at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month as an example. Changzhou makes the “Surfing …
Andrew Orlowski, 14 Jan 2016

It’s alive! BlackBerry 10 users lobbed fresh 'Hotfix' update

BlackBerry users worldwide received an OTA (over the air) “HotFix” update yesterday, regardless of where they bought the device. And that's significant. Version 10.2.3.2876, which for some users can be over 700MB, is essentially the same code as version 10.2.3.2836 that was pushed to a small number of devices in December – …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Jan 2016

Microsoft’s Get Windows 10 nagware shows signs of sentience

RoTM Windows 7 and 8 installations are finding new ways to re-enable Microsoft’s intrusive “Get Windows 10” nagware, even when users disable it. An additional background process has been detected that resets the Registry’s AllowOSUpgrade flag twice a day. Prophylactic measures taken by users to disable the nagware – such as these …
Andrew Orlowski, 12 Jan 2016

Wikimedia Foundation bins community-elected trustee

The Wikimedia Foundation has ousted a community-elected board trustee, whose seat now lies empty. At the same time, it has also appointed two hand-picked trustees for two other vacant spots: a former Google executive with a controversial record and a Mountain View CFO. These are just two changes that were announced quietly over …
Andrew Orlowski, 12 Jan 2016

Boozing is unsafe at ‘any level’, thunders chief UK.gov quack

The government’s chief advisor on health ignored more than 80 studies to produce her new Puritanical guidelines on booze – which asks Britons to forego their Friday drink. Civil servant Dame Sally Davies has drawn up the lowest recommendations in the West: there is no “safe drinking level”, her team declared. The question is …
Andrew Orlowski, 08 Jan 2016
Motorola Aura

Motorola cut in half! But still alive, and ready to live again

Reports of Motorola's death (well, of the iconic brand at least) are looking premature, so calm down guys, you'll still get to see your batwings. Owner Lenovo has now said it will not only promote the "Moto" name (please note, not the cumbersome four syllable mouthful of "Motorola"), but also retain the iconic batwings logo, …
Andrew Orlowski, 08 Jan 2016

British bureaucrats are world's most social-media-tastic

Cheer up, Britain. Your government may not be able to control either its borders or its rivers, and it may have sent its farmers back to using pen and paper and telephone hotlines. But there's one way it still leads the world, according to the Head of the British Civil Service. The Whitehall supremo says the UK is the best in …
Andrew Orlowski, 07 Jan 2016

The new Huawei is the world's fastest phone

Hands On Huawei can today boast the fastest smartphone in the world - besting even the iPhone 6s in key benchmarks. We got a decent idea of what the new Mate 8 feels like having had a preview at Huawei's Shenzhen HQ at the tail end of last year. Anandtech has performed the first and only comprehensive benchmarks on the new 6-inch …
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Jan 2016

Thinking of buying a Surface? Try a modular OLED Thinkpad first

Review Lenovo has announced almost two dozen new and refreshed models for 2016, including new arrivals to its staple Thinkpad X1, T series and X series business ranges. The most eye-catching of these is a serious Surface competitor, the X1 tablet. In the premium business segment – where Microsoft’s Surface is stealing all the oxygen …
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Jan 2016
Smartwatches

2016 in mobile: Visit a components mall in China... 30 min later, you're a manufacturer

One trend overshadowed all others in 2015: there's tons and tons of everything. You probably know why. China has piles of cash, which means huge capital splurges in all directions. Which has caused a global glut of stuff. Steel, aluminium, rubber ... and consumer electronics. China might not exactly be dumping smartphones, but …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Jan 2016
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft in 2016: Is there any point asking SatNad what's coming?

Looking Ahead Microsoft has never had to deal with a grumpy activist shareholder criticising the leadership – a grump activist who just happens to be its biggest shareholder ... and its former CEO. Steve Ballmer won't let go. He thinks the cloud KPIs Microsoft gives out are "bullshit", and its mobile strategy is fatally flawed. If Ballmer …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Dec 2015

Bah humbug. It's Andrew's Phones of the Year

Roundup When a blind chimp with a shopping strategy based around a pack of darts can come out of Carphone Warehouse with a decent phone - is there any point giving out awards? I've seen dozens of shiny new things this year - and I do wonder why reviews need to be longer than a few words. Maybe they don't need words at all. Perhaps …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Dec 2015

Surface Pro 4: Will you go the F**K to SLEEP?

Review Against all predictions, Microsoft has made a profitable multi-billion dollar business out of a boutique tablet. It has also turned a bog standard commodity Thing - a Windows laptop - into something desirable. And it has done it all without fully answering the question “Why should I have one?” The Surface began life only three …
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Dec 2015

BlackBerry: Comeback canter should be a trot... yet, weirdly, isn't

Analysis Investors looking to make long term bets in technology companies are often faced with a conundrum. Is the company exaggerating its assets? Or does it have great assets, but isn't selling them as well as it should? BlackBerry might be a textbook example of the latter. The company posted higher than expected revenue on Friday ($ …
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Dec 2015
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Be afraid, Apple and Samsung: Huawei's IoT home looks cheaper and better

Apple and Samsung can start worrying now. Huawei has unveiled its IoT strategy and the extent of its ambitions. Amongst the highlights are a TV kit that provides latest-generation Apple TV functionality, with Siri-like voice navigation through content. That will be available for around £30 (Y226), or one fifth of the price of …
Andrew Orlowski, 16 Dec 2015
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'Personalised BBC' can algorithmically pander to your prejudices

Comment Rejoice! The BBC boffins can customise their broadcasts to suit your prejudices. The “Visual Perceptive Media” project invites us to “imagine a world where the narrative, background music, colour grading and general feel of a drama is shaped in real time to suit your personality” – and will even tweak the output to “fit your …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Dec 2015
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Aurous shutters for good, will pay $3m damages

Pirate music wannabe Aurous has shut down, barely three months after first surfacing. Billed in Vice as “BitTorrent Music for your Dad”, and described as a “Popcorn Time for music”, the outfit, whose sole proprietor was Andrew Sampson, has agreed to pay damages of $3m. The case is notable for the speed with which the operation …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Dec 2015