Microsoft Store app picks up dedicated 'Devices' tab for new PCs and hardware

A new tab for buying Windows devices has appeared in the latest update for Microsoft Store.

It looks like Microsoft isn’t done updating the Store with a new layout in anticipation of the Redstone 4 update due in the coming weeks. Besides the recent addition of Edge Extensions, a new category called Devices has been added in the latest update – version 11802.1001.11.0 – which went out earlier today across all releases of Windows 10.

‘Devices’ as a tab is self-explanatory being a separate area where Microsoft can show off new Windows hardware including Surfaces, Harmon Kardon Invoke (for those in the U.S.), Xbox consoles, PCs from Dell, HP, Windows Mixed Reality headsets, and accessories. It’s the same catalog that is all stocked online in the web version of the Microsoft Store.

Besides one-click buying of new hardware customers can also pre-order things like the new upcoming See of Thieves Xbox Pro Charging Stand. The process lets you pick a shipping and payment address just like the web store.

The feature of buying devices is not new, per se, but the dedicated tab area for devices is new.

Twitter updates its Windows 10 UWP app to PWA with support for push notifications

Twitter has finally updated its Windows 10 app, converting it from an outdated, unsupported UWP app to a shiny, new PWA app!

The UWP Twitter app for Windows 10 had more or less been left for dead. It hadn’t been updated in forever, and was missing simple changes to the Twitter service such as the increase from 180 to 240 character tweets. Today, however, Twitter has finally updated its Windows 10 app, changing it from a UWP to PWA. This is good news.

Progressive Web Apps (PWA): What they are, and what they mean for Microsoft

The new Twitter app looks identical to the mobile Twitter PWA website you can find online, except now it’s wrapped in a window that makes the app feel native. It also supports push notifications, meaning you don’t have to have the app open to see any replies to tweets. It doesn’t appear to support live tiles just yet, however.

Because it’s the PWA version of Twitter, it has all the latest changes and enhancements you can find on the Twitter service, for better or worse. This includes character increase in tweets, bookmarking tweets, changing to the Twitter timeline algorithm, and a whole lot more.

Expand your computer's capabilities with a Sabrent USB Hub on sale from $11

Increase your efficiency with one of these helpful USB hubs.

Having a USB hub lets you easily add extra USB ports to any compatible device, and for a limited time you can save big on a selection of Sabrent USB hubs at Amazon when you enter promo code F6GVYQKT during checkout. Make sure the seller says Store4PC for the code to work properly.

If you need just a few ports, the 4-port USB hub is a great option that drops to just $10.55 with the code. It features individual power switches so you can choose which devices to power even while they’re plugged in and data speeds of up to 5Gbps. It comes with a power adapter and it’s very well-rated too.

You'll be able to win an actual chicken dinner watching PUBG this weekend

KFC has teamed up with PUBG Corp. to offer actual chicken dinners.

Have you ever felt a little disappointed after winning a PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds match, being told you’ve won a chicken dinner only to work out you’re unable to physically enjoy it? Well, KFC heard the jokes and calls for the company to bring its chicken to PUBG and has answered the call. As covered by Bleeding Cool, by tuning into select streams this weekend (March 24 – 25), you’ll be in with a chance of scoring some gift cards and even a chance at bagging some unique loot.

Why it's time for PC makers to embrace 3:2 displays

If PC companies don’t start adopting Surface-like display ratios, consumers might start passing on their products.

One of the benefits of my job is that I get to handle a lot of laptops and PCs. Besides distilling the pros and cons of each, it affords me a bird’s eye view of the entire industry – trends, problems, and what needs fixing. I’ve been bullish on the increased quality of PCs – especially from Dell and HP – with innovative designs, but there is still one area that bugs me: display aspect ratio.

Microsoft started the 3:2 aspect ratio trend with the Surface Pro 3, but few companies have revamped their PC lineup and followed Microsoft’s lead. That’s a shame, as I find 3:2 much more useful in 2018 in a web-focused world.

Display aspect ratios widely vary

The Acer Predator 21 X features a very wide 21:9 display aspect.

Despite most laptops sporting a cinema-friendly 16:9 ratio, the industry has bounced between 4:3 in older desktop monitors to 16:10 in some laptops like the first Lenovo ThinkPad 700c. There was even a time where ultra-wide laptops were a thing, like the 2012 Toshiba Satellite U845W with a jaw-dropping 21:9 aspect.

While there are benefits for ultra-wide displays for Microsoft Excel fans or cinephiles who watch a lot of movies, as of 2012 16:9 has become the industry standard for consumer and business laptops.

As the CLOUD Act sneaks into the omnibus, big tech butts heads with privacy advocates

As the House advances a 2,232-page spending bill meant to avert a government shutdown, privacy advocates and big tech companies aren’t seeing eye to eye about a small piece of legislation tucked away on page 2,212.
The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, a.k.a. the CLOUD Act (H.R.4943, S.2383) aims to simplify the way that international law enforcement groups obtain personal data stored by U.S.-based tech platforms — but the changes to that process are controversial.
As it stands, if a foreign government wants to obtain that data in the course of an investigation, a series of steps are necessary. First, that government must have a Mutual Legal Assistant Treaty (MLAT) with the U.S. government in place, and those treaties are ratified by the Senate. Then it can send a request to the U.S. Department of Justice, but first the DOJ needs to seek approval from a judge. After those requirements are met, the request can move along to the tech company hosting the data that the foreign government is seeking.
The debate around the CLOUD Act also taps into tech company concerns that foreign nations may move to pass laws in favor of data localization, or the process of storing users’ personal data within the borders of the country of which they are a citizen. That trend would prove both costly for cloud data giants and difficult, upending the established model of cloud data storage that optimizes for efficiency rather than carefully sorting out what data is stored within the borders of which country.
In a February 6 letter, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook and Oath (TechCrunch’s parent company) co-authored a letter calling the CLOUD Act “notable progress to protect consumers’ rights.”

In a late February blog post, Microsoft Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith addressed the issue. “The CLOUD Act creates both the incentive and the framework for governments to sit down and negotiate modern bi-lateral agreements that will define how law enforcement agencies can access data across borders to investigate crimes,” Smith wrote. “It ensures these agreements have appropriate protections for privacy and human rights and gives the technology companies that host customer data new statutory rights to stand up for the privacy rights of their customers around the world.”

Today is an important day for privacy rights around the world, for international relations, and for building trust in the technology we all rely on every day.
— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) March 22, 2018

In a recent opinion piece, ACLU legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani argues that the CLOUD Act sidesteps oversight from both the legislative and judicial branches, granting the attorney general and the state department too much discretion in choosing which governments the U.S. will enter into a data exchange agreement with.
The Center for Democracy and Technology also opposes the CLOUD Act on the grounds that it fails to protect the digital privacy of American citizens and the Electronic Frontier Foundation dismissed the legislation as “a new backdoor around the Fourth Amendment.” The Open Technology Institute also denounced the CLOUD Act’s provision to “allow qualifying foreign governments to enter into an executive agreement to bypass the human rights protective Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process when seeking data in criminal investigations and to seek data directly from U.S. technology companies.”
Both organizations acknowledge that improvements to the bill do partially address some of the human rights concerns associated with not requiring an MLAT in a data sharing agreement.
“While this version of the CLOUD Act includes some new safeguards, it is still woefully inadequate to protect individual rights,” OTI Director of Surveillance & Cybersecurity Policy Sharon Bradford Franklin said of the changes.
“Critically, the bill still would permit foreign governments to obtain communications data held in the United States without any prior judicial review, and it would allow foreign governments to obtain U.S.-held communications in real time without applying the safeguards required for wiretapping by the U.S. government. ”
The Consumer Technology Association voiced its support of the altered bill in a press release issued Thursday. “CTA thanks the House of Representatives for taking steps to empower America’s digital infrastructure for the 21st century. The inclusion of the CLOUD Act and RAY BAUM’S Act in today’s legislation ensures Americans can safely create, share and collect electronic data while providing them the resources to do so.”
While some changes made aspects of the bill more palatable to digital privacy watchdogs, some are objecting to the choice to tack it onto the omnibus spending bill.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul spoke out Thursday against passing the CLOUD Act by attaching it to the spending bill.
“Tucked away in the omnibus spending bill is a provision that allows Trump, and any future president, to share Americans’ private emails and other information with countries he personally likes. That means he can strike deals with Russia or Turkey with nearly zero congressional involvement and no oversight by U.S. courts,” Wyden said. “This bill contains only toothless provisions on human rights that Trump’s cronies can meet by merely checking a box. It is legislative malpractice that Congress, without a minute of Senate debate, is rushing through the CLOUD Act on this must-pass spending bill.”

But guess what? Congress can’t vote to reject the CLOUD Act, because it just got stuck onto the Omnibus, with no prior legislative action or review.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 22, 2018

While the content of the CLOUD Act has evolved away from controversy with some modifications, the choice to pass it as part of the omnibus plan without further opportunity for public debate to examine its potential far-reaching implications is proving just as controversial as earlier forms of the legislation.

As the CLOUD Act sneaks into the omnibus, big tech butts heads with privacy advocates

Microsoft backs CLOUD Act's inclusion in Congressional spending bill

Microsoft this week threw its support behind the inclusion of the CLOUD Act in the omnibus spending bill currently making its way through the U.S. Congress.

As the Supreme Court mulls arguments in a privacy fight between Microsoft and the Justice Department, a piece of legislation currently making its way through Congress could help bring an end to the matter.

Skype's 'classic' desktop app is once again available to download from Microsoft

After pulling it from the web last month over a security issue, the “classic” Skype for Windows desktop is available to download from Microsoft once again.

In February, Microsoft pulled the download link for the “classic” Skype for Windows desktop installer from its website, citing a security issue in the installer with Skype version 7.40.