7 Days: A week of Windows security, dreams of a Surface Note, and Surface Pro sleep disorder

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.

The weekend has arrived, giving us much-needed time to pause and catch our breaths after another exhausting, but exciting week. The news has been pouring in thick and fast - but fear not, for 7 Days is here again to walk you through what's been happening across the tech world lately.

Our journey begins this week in Cupertino, California, where Apple is working on its new iMac Pro. A report claimed that the mighty machine could use Intel's next-generation server-grade Skylake-EX and Skylake-EP Xeon processors, codenamed 'Purley'.

Juicy.

Virgin Mobile USA became the first iPhone-only carrier, and is enticing new customers by offering them 12 months of unlimited service for just $1. That's quite a deal.

Meanwhile, over in the UK, Virgin Media - one of the country's largest ISPs - has warned 800,000 customers to change their passwords after a security vulnerability was discovered.

Personal info relating to nearly 200 million US citizens was accidentally exposed by a marketing firm contracted by the US Republican Party. 1.1TB of data was left accessible on a public Amazon cloud server.

Oops.

If streaming music, TV shows, movies, and free next-day deliveries weren't enough for you, Amazon is adding another perk to its Prime membership. The company is testing a service that allows customers to order up to 15 items of clothing to try before they buy.

Mozilla released its privacy-focused web browser last year, making it available exclusively on iPhones and iPads. Its security-focused browser is now available on Android too.

There's a lot to like about Gmail, but having your emails scanned for the purpose of personalizing ads is hardly a great selling point. There's good news on that front, though, as Google has promised to stop doing so later this year.

Google announced that from the end of June, it's ditching support for the Android Market app store on Android 2.1 Eclair or older.

Nokia phased out the brand of Withings - the health-focused firm that it purchased last year - and launched new health devices under its own brand, including 'smart' scales, and a blood pressure monitor.

HMD Global - which is licensing the Nokia brand - is launching its new Nokia 3 and 5 smartphones in the UK next month, while the 5 and 6 will go on sale in South Africa around the same time.

On Tuesday, OnePlus unveiled its long-awaited Android flagship, the 5. Starting at $479, it follows the company's formula of offering high-end specs at surprisingly low prices, including a Snapdragon 835 processor, up to 128GB of storage, and up to 8GB of RAM.

It also has dual 20MP and 16MP rear cameras, but the stabilization capabilities when recording 4K video appear to be less than impressive, and they lack the 2x optical zoom of the iPhone 7 Plus.

More worrying is that OnePlus has been accused of cheating in benchmark tests to make the handset appear more capable. The company was accused of similarly nefarious practices with its previous 3T flagship.

Four months after it was announced, Sony finally launched its Xperia XZ Premium flagship in the United States. In addition to a Snapdragon 835 processor, and a 4K display, it can also record 4K video, along with super-slow-motion video at 960fps.

It costs a lot more than the OnePlus 5 though, priced at $799.99.

Sony's Xperia Touch, a portable Android 7.0 device that projects its interface onto a flat surface, went on sale in Europe, priced at an eye-watering €1,499.99. That's an astonishing price for a device that offers just one hour of battery life.

It's been two and a half years since the dual-display YotaPhone 2 made its debut. The Yota3 is due to arrive later this year - but it seems to be an unremarkable evolution of its predecessor, with mid-range specs, rather than being a true 'flagship'.

LG announced the G6+ with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, along with two new colors - but like the standard G6, it still uses the same Snapdragon 821 processor from last year.

Samsung has been trying to shake off memories of its fiery Galaxy Note7 flagship in recent months, and it will soon launch that handset's successor. The Galaxy Note8 is rumored to be announced in September, and could cost around $899.

Despite rumors that Samsung has been developing a fingerprint sensor embedded under the display, it seems that that's not going to happen on the Note8. Instead, it will reportedly be right next to the camera, as on the S8 and S8+.

From personal experience, I can tell you that that placement is completely idiotic, and wholly frustrating, as the fingerprints and smudge marks all over the rear camera of my S8+ prove.

Check this out: a designer put together some stunning concept artwork showing what a foldable 'Surface Note' device could look like.

It's the stuff of dreams for now, of course; so far, no manufacturers have even shown a working prototype of a foldable device that could conceivably go into production. Samsung said in April that foldable display technology is unlikely to be 'mature' enough for at least two more years.

The latest news about the new Surface Pro tablet, however, may well be the stuff of nightmares for Microsoft. Some users have reported that their Surface Pro is plagued by a problem that causes the device to randomly 'sleep' while they're using it.

You may recall that after the Surface Book and Pro 4 launched in 2015, both devices were affected by a problem that caused severe power drain while in sleep mode. The Surface Pro 3 also suffered two separate issues that affected its batteries.

While the extent of the issue on the new Surface Pro isn't yet clear, it's the last thing that Microsoft needs on its new high-end Windows 10 device.

If you liked the look of that Surface Note concept, by the way, then feast your eyes on this. It's an official concept from Lenovo hinting at the possibility of future foldable PCs.

Back in the real world, Lenovo announced the ThinkStation P320 Tiny, a petite workstation that packs a serious punch, starting at $799.

Microsoft churned out another Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview with no new features this week. Build 15226 made its way to the Fast ring, while build 15223 is now available in the Slow ring.

Far more exciting was its release of Windows 10 build 16226, which brought a ton of new features to PCs in the Fast ring, although there are some known issues too (which Microsoft added to later in the week).

Make sure you check out our hands-on video of build 16226.

After Microsoft announced Windows 10 S, a new edition of the OS that exclusively runs software from the Windows Store, it said that users could upgrade it to Windows 10 Pro, but could not switch back. It turns out that you can revert to 10 S, but you'll have to wipe your device to do so.

Further details emerged this week of the limitations of Windows 10 S compared with other versions. More significantly, a report revealed that Windows 10 S may not be quite as secure as Microsoft claims.

On Friday, it emerged that a chunk of Windows 10's source code was leaked online, along with a large number of unreleased internal Windows 10 builds. Microsoft confirmed on Saturday morning that "a portion of the source code from the Shared Source Initiative" was part of the leak, which also included the Windows 10 Mobile Adaptation Kit, and some ARM-based Windows 10 builds.

A day before the leak was revealed, two men were arrested in the UK as part of a police investigation into attempts to hack into Microsoft servers to steal customer data. The men were said to be part of a larger hacking group, but it is not yet clear if their alleged actions are connected with the Windows 10 source code leak.

Skype users in some countries suffered intermittent connectivity, amid claims from a group identifying itself as 'CyberTeam' that it had knocked Microsoft's communications service offline with a DDoS attack.

A recent report by a security analysis center claimed that 250 million PCs had been infected by Fireball malware, including 20% of corporate networks. But on Thursday, Microsoft said it had been tracking Fireball since 2015, and claimed that the infection rate may have been significantly overstated.

Spotify launched in the Windows Store for PCs this week - but it's a simple conversion of the existing desktop application, rather than a rebuilt Universal Windows Platform app.

The Wall Street Journal announced that it is killing off its UWP app for Windows 10 PCs and phones at the end of the month - the latest in a long line of companies to do so.

WhatsApp is ditching support for Windows Phone 8, BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10 devices at the end of this year - but it will continue to support Android devices as old as version 2.3.7 Gingerbread until 2020.

The app is also adding the ability to share all file types.

Microsoft announced that Outlook 2016 for Mac will soon get four of the top ten features most requested by its users, including email templates, delivery receipts, and a new 'Send Later' option.

Microsoft's Edge Web Summit will take place in Seattle on September 13, 2017, promising "a closer look at what's new and what's next" for the Edge browser, including its user experience.

On Wednesday, Microsoft said it's extending its Edge Bug Bounty Program indefinitely, offering up to $15,000 to those who discover bugs in its browser.

Microsoft officially launched its Xbox Insider Hub app on 64-bit Windows 10 PCs on Thursday.

Nearly two years after launching its first closed beta, Gigantic will finally be released next month via the Windows Store, Xbox Store, and Steam.

Following its Xbox One release, Cities: Skylines is coming to the PlayStation 4.

The developer of a game exclusively available on the PS4 deleted a tweet that mocked Xbox owners, following a backlash.

And a Sony executive whipped up a frenzy among gamers when he claimed that indie games on consoles are "less relevant now" - but Microsoft quickly fired back, voicing its strong support for independent developers on Xbox.

Nintendo's Switch console received its new Version 3.0 update, making it easier to add Wii U and 3DS friends, locate nearby paired controllers via vibration, and more.

Pokémon GO picked up a major update, which includes a way of shaming players who use third-party tools or programs to help them cheat.

Following a recent cease-and-desist order from Rockstar Games for popular modding tool, OpenIV, enraged gamers flocked to Grand Theft Auto V's store listing on Steam, flooding the otherwise-popular title with thousands of negative reviews.

Rockstar later appeared to reverse its position, saying that it believes in "reasonable fan creativity".

But our global tech odyssey ends this week in New York City's Central Park, where a developer re-created a level of gaming classic Super Mario Bros. on Microsoft's mixed reality HoloLens headset.

Check out the full video in all its glory here, including the developer's Mario costume.

Love it!


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.

If you're a fan of Microsoft's Windows Insider Program, this might be of interest to you. I wrote about how the Insider Program is attempting to make a positive change in Africa - and how those efforts are helping to improve the way that Microsoft develops its products for everyone around the world.

Rich Woods published his extensive review of the HTC U Ultra, the flagship-class handset with a dual-display setup that rather blatantly copies LG's V10 and V20. It's clearly a decent device, but it's far less clear who would buy it, given that there are much better alternatives available.

Rich got his paws on Lenovo's new ThinkPad X1 Yoga too. Check out his unboxing video, including his first impressions of the device.

And he also shared his detailed review of the HP EliteBook x360, a stylish business-class notebook with Windows Hello, pen support, Intel Kaby Lake processors, and impressive battery life.

And last, but certainly not least, Christopher White reviewed the Amazon Dash Wand, which brings the power of an Echo, and the Alexa digital assistant, into the palm of your hands. At just $35, it's very affordable - but is it practical? And is it any good? Check out the review here!


Stay tuned to Neowin in the days ahead for what’s sure to be another exciting week, filled with official news, lots of updates, and plenty of insights from around the world of technology.

For now, though, there’s lots more to read across the site – including all sorts of interesting discussions over on our forums.

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

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