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By Abhay V
Supposed Surface Duo 2 images leak, showing off a triple-camera array at the back [Update]
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft’s first Android device, the Surface Duo, was unveiled back in 2019 and went on sale later in 2020. While the device debuted an interesting form factor, the specifications were underwhelming for its price, thanks to the dated internal and lackluster camera performance. Now, images of what is believed to be the successor to the Surface Duo have surfaced on the web.
The leak was featured on a YouTube video from ‘Tech Rat’ showing off the device and providing an interesting look at the camera array. The images suggest that the Duo 2 houses a triple-camera system, in line with what is now becoming a bare minimum in smartphones. The first-gen device shipped with just a single underwhelming 12MP unit.
Images: Tech Rat (YouTube)Zac Bowden from Windows Central also confirmed the legitimacy of these images, providing further credence to the leak. Bowden adds that the array might include an ultra-wide-angle shooter, a telephoto lens, and a standard main camera. This makes the device more potent in the photography department, possibly justifying being priced like a flagship.
In addition to the images, the leaker claims that the device will be largely similar in dimension to that of its predecessor. However, there might be a larger display thanks to smaller bezels, housed in a device that sports a more rounded frame. The leaker also claims that the Redmond firm will add an NFC chip to the dual-screened phone, something that was absent on the original device. The folks over at Windows Central also seem to believe that the Duo 2 will feature flagship specs, such as a Snapdragon 888 SoC, which will also bring support for 5G. As for colors, the firm might be readying a black color option along with the Duo’s white color, with both the devices sporting a frosted back glass.
The addition of the camera array also seems to introduce a camera bump that might hinder the ability of the device to fold flat. It will be interesting to see if the device features a workaround for this, or if the company chooses function over form. It is also not clear whether the phone in the leaked images is an earlier prototype, and if the design has been tweaked since.
Microsoft is expected to launch the Surface Duo 2 sometime in September or October. With the first-gen Duo still running Android 10, it is anybody’s guess what the Duo 2 will ship with, in terms of software. There is also no word on what the price of the Duo 2 will be.
Update: The video seems to have been taken down by the YouTube user.
Chinese Zhurong rover sends audiovisuals from Mars
by Chandrakant Isi
Zhurong rover, which is a part of China's Tianwen-1 mission, landed on Mars on May 14. This 240-kilogram rover has been exploring the Utopia Planitia plain after it was deployed on May 21. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has been regularly posting updates of this mission, but today it dropped a video along with the sounds from Mars.
The footage starts with the lander's entry into the Martian atmosphere aided by a supersonic parachute. It is then, followed by the separation, and finally the powered landing. The next part of the video shows Zhurong rover's descend from the lander. You also get to hear the sound coming from the friction between Zhurong's wheels and the Martian surface. The equipment used for picking up this audio will later come in handy to analyze Martian winds.
To study the Martian geology and topography, the rover is loaded with spectroscopy instruments, cameras, ground-penetrating radar, and a magnetometer. The data sent by the rover, including this latest video, gets relayed via the Tianwen-1 orbiter. Due to the vast distance of millions of miles between the Earth and Mars, the data transfer rates are painfully slow.
With the Tianwen-1 mission, China has become the second nation after the US, to soft-land a rover on Mars. The information gathered from this mission will be crucial for China's future space missions. According to the Chinese state-run media Global Times and CGTN (earlier known as CCTV), the country is planning to launch its first crewed mission to Mars in 2033.
By Abhay V
Microsoft details the processor requirements for Windows 11 [Update]
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft unveiled Windows 11 today and showed off a bunch of improvements, including new UI elements and experiences, the new store app, support for Android apps, and more. The company also posted the minimum system requirements earlier in the day, detailing the specifications that will be required for running the next-generation OS. In addition to those, the firm has also provided processor requirements for setting a baseline of hardware requirements relating to the silicon.
Firstly, for system requirements, there is an interesting bifurcation of hard floor and soft floor specs – specifically for partners, where hard floor specifications are mandatory requirements for the OS, while soft floor specifics will be treated as something that is accepted but not advised. The company is making security safeguards such as TPM 2.0 necessary for users to upgrade from Windows 10. However, it looks like devices sporting support for TPM 1.2 will also be able to receive the update, if the soft floor specifications are to be believed.
Here are the hard floor – or mandatory – requirements for the OS:
And here are the soft floor requirements:
Moving on to processor requirements, the company has provided separate lists for Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm chips. While the list usually grew with every new Windows 10 version – accommodating newer generation chips –, the number of supported CPUs for Windows 11 has shrunk. It is not clear if this is the final list of chips or if the firm will tweak the models as the release of the OS nears.
For Intel, the company has listed Core branded chips starting from the eight-generation, for both laptop and desktops, along with several other Xeon and Pentium chips. Interestingly, these leave out chips in devices such as the Surface Studio 2, which are still being sold. As for AMD, some Ryzen 2000-series CPUs and all Ryzen 3000-series chips and newer are supported, along with a list of Epyc processors for servers. Here, the obvious exclusion is the A-series of chips. Qualcomm’s list is small and includes the Snapdragon 850 SoC and newer, which were aimed at the Windows on ARM PC market. You can head to the dedicated pages to check out the complete list.
These CPU specifications likely only apply to new devices, meaning that older devices such as the Studio 2 that house a TPM 2.0 chip might not be denied the upgrade to Windows 10. It will be interesting to see if there will be any updates to the requirements.
Update: Microsoft has updated the system requirements documentation to remove the soft floor specifications. It adds that the changes were made to "correct the guidance around the TPM requirements for Windows 11", making TPM 2.0 a required specification for devices to upgrade to Windows 11. This likely includes systems with dedicated TPM or firmware-based solutions like fTPM (AMD) and PTT (Intel).
By Abhay V
Microsoft announces new Teams Rooms features, brings Surface Hub-specific capabilities
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft today held its “The future of hybrid work” event and announced a bunch of features for Teams Rooms that are aimed at improving collaboration and the experience for “hybrid” meetings – meaning those meetings where some users are physically present in a room while other join virtually – on devices dedicated for Teams. This is especially useful with more users heading back to offices and attending calls from conference rooms.
The first of the features being added to Teams Rooms is a new “front row” layout for meetings, something that the company provided a sneak preview of in the past. The layout moves the video feeds of participants to the bottom of the screen, closer to users’ eye level in conference rooms. It also allows for more real estate to display meeting content such as the agenda, the shared screen, and chats right next to each other. Front row will be supported for both single and dual display configurations.
Video layouts across multiple displays are also being improved, with the tool now featuring support for splitting participant feeds across dual displays when possible. The firm says that this increases the screen space when content is not being shared, allowing for users to be seen more clearly on video. The company says that these changes aim to make hybrid meetings more “inclusive”.
Teams Rooms is also gaining a few possibilities from Teams on the desktop such as the Spotlight feature that allows hosts to pin specific feeds to the canvas. Other features being added include live reactions chat bubbles, all of which improve the experience on larger displays.
The Teams Rooms experience for Surface Hub devices is also being improved, with the firm adding features such as new Together Mode scenes, background noise suppression, live reactions, and PowerPoint Live for Teams presentations, and more. The new Microsoft Whiteboard experience is also making it to the firm’s collaborative displays. These features will be rolled out to Insiders first, before heading to the general public.
In addition to the Teams Rooms features, the Redmond firm is listing a bunch of new dedicated Teams devices from its partners. These include the likes of Neat, which is bringing unique capabilities like automatically zooming into meeting participants in a room and auto-framing them using AI and special sensors. Additionally, there are new intelligent speakers from EPOS and Yealink that use Microsoft’s voice recognition technology to transcribe meetings with speaker attribution.
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft encourages cloud adoption amid Nobelium cyberattacks
by Usama Jawad
Microsoft uncovered sophisticated phishing attacks targeting thousands of accounts belonging to government personnel and human rights organizations last week, attributing the malicious activity to Nobelium. The hacking group has been previously linked to the Russian foreign intelligence agency SVR and the recent SolarWind attacks.
Now, Microsoft has proposed what needs to be done in order to prevent cyberattacks of this magnitude in the future.
A blog post penned by Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust Tom Burt states that the company has been monitoring the situation closely and antivirus software coupled with solutions like Microsoft Defender for Office 365 are detecting and protecting against malware. This is why a large number of organizations have not been compromised despite being targeted.
An important point that Burt raised is the need to differentiate between "espionage as usual activities" like the Nobelium attack from last week versus crippling cyberattacks like SolarWinds and Colonial Pipelines. As such, there also needs to be clearer distinction between how to respond to such activities. The executive went on to say that:
Lastly, the Redmond tech giant emphasized the importance of transitioning to the cloud where providers are working actively to follow the latest cybersecurity standards and managed tooling. It also encouraged that everyone should enable two-factor authentication when using digital services, as the bare minimum. Burt praised the U.S. government's Cybersecurity Executive Order which highlights the need for public and private sectors to collaborate and strengthen the cybersecurity infrastructure of not only government tooling, but also the ecosystem in general. The executive called the U.S. government's recent commitment to cybersecurity "unprecedented" and indicated that the collaboration should continue.