7 Days: A week of the Speakerhat, Microsoft money, and Windows 10's Fall

7 Days is a weekly roundup of the Editors' picks of what's been happening in the world of technology - written with a dash of humor, a hint of exasperation, and an endless supply of (Irish) coffee.

Things often slow down a bit in the tech world over the summer months - but you wouldn't have guessed it after this week's excitement! Fear not, though, for 7 Days is here again to make sure you're up to speed on what's been happening.

Proof for porn

Where better to begin this week's roundup than with porn? The UK government is preparing to introduce new measures that will require those wishing to access adult material online to verify their age before doing so. The move is meant to protect children, but it's raised a ton of privacy concerns.

Processing power

There's certainly no love lost between Intel and AMD. After the former recently attacked the latter's EPYC server processor line, referring to the products as "glued-together" and "inconsistent", AMD hit back at Intel's claims.

Meanwhile, as its long-running legal dispute with Apple rages on, Qualcomm reported a 40% slump in profits last quarter. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and other tech giants came together to stand with Apple against Qualcomm, denouncing the chip-maker's "monopoly power".

Image: Shutterstock

In security

After WannaCry and Petya, many are worried about the threat of a 'super-scale' attack. Lloyd's of London estimated the cost of a major global cyberattack at around $53 billion - but the consequences of such an incident could be far more serious.

Researchers at Trend Micro detailed a new strain of Android malware that can silently record audio and video, monitor texts and calls, modify files, and worse.

And fresh security concerns were raised for Myspace users, after it emerged that it's possible to access any account on The Social Network That Everyone Forgot About simply by knowing someone's birthday.

Wear oh wear

Fitbit's CEO shared new details about the company's upcoming smartwatch, promising that it will be its "best product yet".

The wearable device market is a tough one to crack, as the recent collapse of Jawbone showed. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that Intel has shut down its wearables development division.

Android Wear wah-wah-wah-waaaaaahhhhh

In September 2016, Google delayed the release of Android Wear 2.0 to give it more time for development. It seems it didn't use that time particularly well. It shipped the OS with characters missing from some onscreen keyboards - and despite months of complaints from users, it didn't acknowledge the issue until this week. Users have also reported problems with recurring reminders, which Google is now looking into.

Months late, Android Wear 2.0 finally began rolling out to the ASUS ZenWatch 2 this week as well.

Glass eyes businesses

You may have thought it died years ago, but Alphabet has been quietly working on its Glass headset with over 30 partners since 2015, unveiling a new and improved edition of the device on Tuesday. The Google all-new Glass Enterprise Edition is now aimed directly at businesses.

All things Android

Google Glass is dead. Long live Alphabet Glass? As the wearable device pivots to a new future targeting enterprise customers, a similar story unfolded for Jide, which has now ditched development of its Android-based Remix OS, to focus on software and hardware for businesses.

Lots of new Android hardware has popped up in recent days. After announcing its Q6 smartphone family last week, LG unveiled the Q8 - a more compact version of its V20 flagship, which it launched last year, including the same distinctive secondary display above the main screen.

Meizu has taken a slightly different approach with its new range-topper. Unlike the LG V20 and Q8, the new Meizu Pro 7 will have a small secondary display on the rear of the device. Quite odd. The Pro 7 will launch on July 26 - and on the same day, Xiaomi will launch the new Mi 5X, which will include its new MIUI 9 software, based on Android 7.0 Nougat.

It seems Lenovo's US customers will be getting a bit of a raw deal when its new Moto Z2 Force flagship phone goes on sale there. The device will have a Quad HD display and Snapdragon 835 processor, but only 4GB of RAM, compared with 6GB elsewhere.

HTC launched a new low-cost phone, the Desire 555, exclusively on Cricket Wireless in the US, despite saying in February that it was going to stop making budget phones. Meanwhile, outrage spread like wildfire across the web as HTC's on-screen keyboards began displaying ads to users as they typed - but the company insisted it was a mistake. Of course it was, HTC. We all believe you.

HTC also brought Amazon's Alexa assistant to its latest U11 flagship, as Samsung finally rolled out its delayed Bixby voice assistant to the Galaxy S8 and S8+ in the US. Samsung sent out invites to its Galaxy Note8 launch next month (we'll be there!), before it goes on sale in September.

Nine-one-OnePlus

It's been accused of 'cheating' in benchmark tests. Its newest flagship's screen is upside-down, and owners are complaining of unpleasant scrolling effects. The device also has audio recording issues. And this week, another issue emerged on the OnePlus 5: some users reported that the device was rebooting when they attempted to call 911. Thankfully, that problem has since been resolved.

Essential reading

Android co-founder Andy Rubin unveiled his new flagship-class Essential Phone in May, with deliveries expected to begin by the end of June. But this week, he said the device won't start shipping for another "few weeks" - and the company also lost one of its top executives.

Image: VentureBeat

Finnished

There's trouble at the top of HMD Global too; its CEO, Arto Nummela, suddenly left the company on Wednesday. An image of the company's new Nokia 8 flagship leaked on Tuesday, and it could be announced next week.

An official Nokia video included a sketch of another device on Friday - and it might just be another flagship phone. HMD also unveiled two new handsets on Monday: the Nokia 105 and 130.

Pleasantly cloudy

Good news for OneDrive users: Microsoft revealed that it will soon roll out version history support for all file types on its cloud storage platform. That feature is currently exclusive to Office files.

Windows Update update

Microsoft has revised the process of upgrading to new versions of Windows 10 in recent preview builds of the OS, giving users more time to work, play, or stare at GIFs of super-cute kittens. The changes will make updates feel faster, despite also appearing to take longer...

Autumn, fall, potato, tomato

Microsoft demonstrated its typical incompetence for naming things when it announced the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update in May. Amazingly, it managed to screw that up even further, when Microsoft sites in several countries suddenly began using the 'Autumn Creators Update' name - quite a surprise, given that Microsoft told me two months ago that it wouldn't do so.

Amazingly, Microsoft then changed all those references back to 'Fall Creators Update', and said that the use of 'Autumn' was an error that it blamed on a translation issue. From English, to English. Not only does that explanation make no sense, but the use of 'Fall' around the world makes no sense either. No-one in the UK, for example, refers to the autumn as 'fall' - and in the southern hemisphere, it will be spring when the update is released.

*SIGH*

In happier news, the Creators Update (that's the one that's already rolling out) has reached over 50% of Windows 10 PCs. However, Microsoft confirmed that some older PCs won't be able to install the Creators Update, or any other new version of Windows 10 - our first real glimpse of how support will end for devices in the Windows-as-a-service era.

Windows 10 turns up the heat

Aside from PCs and phones, there's a huge variety of devices out there that run Windows 10. Microsoft is now pushing its OS into the smart home market, introducing a stylish thermostat with a transparent display, running Windows 10 IoT Core with Cortana support.

On the Surface

Microsoft unveiled its stylish Surface Laptop in multiple colors back in May - but it only offers three of those colors on a single Core i5 model. On Monday, it confirmed that a Core i7 model will be offered in Burgundy, Cobalt Blue and Graphite Gold - but that's not going to happen for months.

In the meantime, it's offering huge US discounts on refurbished models of its older Surface Books, which you can now buy for as little as $883.

Appy days

Surface Laptop owners running Windows 10 S can now install the Surface Diagnostic Toolkit app, after Microsoft finally brought it to the Windows Store. It also added a new section to its Store, making it easier to find apps compatible with its Surface Dial accessory.

After recently announcing the end of its LinkedIn app for Windows phones, Microsoft promised that a new desktop app was on the way. The new app arrive on Monday, but it's little more than a basic 'web wrapper', with a few Windows 10 features thrown in.

Microsoft money

Microsoft published its latest earnings report on Thursday, and it was another spectacular quarter for its Azure cloud business, and a very successful few months for Office too. However, it was a bit of a mixed picture for the company's consumer and hardware businesses, including a 2% fall in Surface revenue.

Given that Microsoft has run its mobile business into the ground, it was no surprise that it described its phone revenue for the quarter as "immaterial".

According to IDC's latest figures, Windows' share of the global smartphone market has dropped to just 0.1%.

Windows phones left behind

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore confirmed on Wednesday that Windows 10 on ARM will not be coming to any existing Windows phones. Given how little development is now going into Windows 10 Mobile, there seems to be little to look forward to for owners of those devices.

Xtreme opinion

A vocal industry analyst said this week that the new Xbox One X isn't worth the price that Microsoft is charging for it. He claimed that "people are willing to pay $300 for a console, but not $500, $500 is way too much."

By the way, Microsoft announced its Xbox Live Creators Program earlier this year, and now, Xbox Insiders in the Alpha ring can get the first games from the Creators Collection.

Halo TV

Over four years after it was announced, you might have assumed that Halo: The Television Series had been canned. But Microsoft confirmed that the new live-action series, produced by Steven Spielberg, is still in development...

Woohoo!

Blizzard blows against old Windows

From October, Blizzard says it will "begin the process of ending support for Windows XP and Windows Vista in World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm." Microsoft ended Vista support in March, and XP support ended three years ago, so it's hardly surprising.

Back to the future

Atari, which last made a console in 1993, revealed the first pictures and details of the Ataribox, a nostalgia-fuelled console that will offer classic games as well as new titles.

But in a most unexpected move, Atari also unveiled the Speakerhat, "a baseball-style cap with high-fidelity stereo speakers and microphone", which includes a Multiplayer Mode.

Words fail me.

PS4 5.0

Sony is readying its next major software update for the PlayStation 4 - and it's inviting owners of the console to register for the beta, ahead of its general release.

Ninten-d’oh!

Nintendo released its new Switch Online app for iOS and Android, coinciding with the launch of Splatoon 2. Among its features, the app is intended to be used for voice chat with other gamers - but Nintendo has made the process so spectacularly complicated that one has to wonder what the hell the company was smoking when it created it.

Could Nintendo be working on resurrecting its N64 with a modern twist? A trademark application has led many to believe that it might be. Meanwhile, a devoted fan created Super Mario 64 Maker, enabling gamers to create their own levels for the much-loved N64 game.

...and finally

Japanese gamers will soon be able to buy beauty products inspired by Super Mario. No, seriously.

Microsoft promised to fix a My Little Pony error message.

And a robot guard drowned itself in a fountain. What a week.


Bonus content

Before we wrap things up for another week, let me first highlight a few extra bits around the site that I hope you’ll enjoy reading.

It's not too late to enter our new Caption Contest! We're inviting our readers to share a funny caption for our selected image, to be in with a chance of winning a prize!

This week, Stephen Elop is our victim the subject of our photo - join in the fun here!

Rich Woods published his in-depth review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet, a high-end Windows 10 device. He loved its vibrant display, impressive battery life, and the quality of its keyboard and trackpad, as well as its cellular connectivity - but there were a few downsides.

And Usama Jawad got his game on with Minecraft: Story Mode - Season Two, Episode One, sharing his review of the game. Despite some clunky dialog, it sounds like he had a lot of fun playing it!


Don't forget, we've got an awesome community of readers around the world, sharing in all sorts of other discussions over on our forums. And if you're not yet a member, you can register now - it's free, quick and easy to sign up!

From all of us
on the Neowin team,
have a great weekend!

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