The Internet is a scary and dangerous place. Ads served by networks like Google appear to be legitimate, but take you to downloads to steal your information or destroy your computer. Links shared on Facebook and Twitter appear to be news articles, but are actually serving malicious content. If you aren't paying attention, it can be easy to screw up your machine, and web browsers are the source of all of that turmoil.
Microsoft has a new idea for how to protect users of their Edge browser. The feature is called Windows Defender Application Guard, and it consists of running the browser within a very lightweight virtual machine. Essentially, this means that the browser will run within your computer, but will not have direct access to it. Instead, it will run within another, virtual computer residing on yours.
The advantages of this technique are incredibly positive. The browser cannot access your computer without your express permission. This means that anything that happens within the browser will be contained within the virtual environment. Code designed to change your homepage, search engine, system registry, etc. all will, if allowed, change the virtual environment. As soon as the browser is closed, the virtual environment is destroyed, taking with it any malicious code and cookies.
Unfortunately, with all major security protections come tradeoffs. For example, since cookies are destroyed, it means that features like saving passwords will be destroyed, too. You would not be able to click "save password" on a website and have it save between sessions, because that information is saved in one of those cookies being destroyed. There are also performance tradeoffs that will have to be made, as the browser is not running directly on your hardware.
Clearly, this feature will not be for everyone, but it is a good option for places that require additional security, such as secure facilities like banks and doctors' offices. It will also be good for common area computers in libraries and schools where people tend to not worry about security and also forget to logout of services like email, social networks, etc.
In my time in the industry, I've seen a lot of videogames launch, and I have seen a number of games stumble at launch. Either the game isn't what it was advertised to be, the graphics aren't as soon as the trailers or the play isn't fun. Niantic struggled with server issues with
the release of . Maxis nearly destroyed the Pokémon GO with their launch.
No Man's Sky, however, has had all of these issues and more. The graphics in the game are nothing like they were promised to be. In fact, many of the creatures within the game look deformed versus their photorealistic initial claims. The game has been plagued by bugs, making the game either completely unplayable or slowly self-destructing. In one case, player's discoveries were slowly wiped out of existence.
Many players have asked for refunds under Steam's new refund policy, and others have simply given up. Even Sony President Shuhei Yoshida said in an interview,
I understand some of the criticisms especially Sean Murray is getting, because he sounded like he was promising more features in the game from day one.
It wasn't a great PR strategy, because he didn't have a PR person helping him, and in the end he is an indie developer. But he says their plan is to continue to develop No Man's Sky features and such, and I'm looking forward to continuing to play the game.
Unfortunately, he seems to be one of the only ones holding that view. Active players on Steam has dropped below 1,000, making it an incredibly empty universe. Because of all of the problems, including player count, people in the UK have contacted the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the organization that investigates claims of false advertising. Their claims are not minor, claiming that essentially every claim about the game has been false. Here are the most common complaints:
User interface design Ship flying behaviour (information; with a 'wingman'; flying close to the ground) Behaviour of animals (in herds; destroying scenery; in water; reacting to surroundings) Large-scale space combat Structures and buildings as pictured Flowing water Speed of galaxy warp/loading time Aiming systems Screenshots
Size of creatures (9) Behaviour of ships and sentinels (4, 5 and 8) Structures and buildings as pictured (3) Store Page in general
Quality of graphics References to: lack of loading screens, trade convoys between stars, factions vying over territory
Until now, the developer, Hello Games, has not responded to any criticism. In fact, the only real feedback we have gotten from the company has been second-hand through Yoshida's comments. The company will now have to respond to the ASA, however. If the ASA finds false advertising, the listings will have to be altered and, more importantly, fines could be assessed. This is not a great position for a company who was already in over their heads.
The era of BlackBerry's hardware dominance ended quite a while ago, but the company has continued to struggle to recapture what it believes to be its glory days. CEOs have changed, executive management has changed, even their platform strategy has changed. The one thing that has stayed consistent, however, is their slumping hardware sales.
That number is about to go from dismal to zero, as the company has finally decided to do away with its internal hardware development efforts. Starting now, and really in the recent past, BlackBerry will license their name to existing hardware firms to design and build BlackBerry-branded devices. The handsets will runs BlackBerry's more secure version of Android, as well as the company's suite of applications.
This strategy is not new within the industry. Google has been doing the exact same thing with its Nexus line of phones and tablets. Nexus devices are designed by 3rd parties like HTC and Huawei, but run the "pure Google experience" rather than the manufacturer's altered version of Android. BlackBerry began this strategy with their new DTEK50, a BlackBerry-branded device designed and manufactured by Alcatel, originally available as the Alcatel Idol 4.
While this might seem like a big change for the company, it is not as monumental as you might think. BlackBerry has always been a software company who has focused on security. Their customers were the first to have end-to-end encryption on their mobile communications, through BlackBerry Messenger, Email and more. Their need to make hardware came more from a lack of potential partners than it did from wanting to have their own hardware. Palm was making their own hardware for both Palm OS and Windows Mobile and Motorola and UTStarcom/HTC were making Windows Mobile smartphones. There were really no other players in the market to get involved.
With this new ability to focus their attention back on software and security, BlackBerry can be what it always without the distraction of what they never really needed to be. If ever a strategy change was going to work for the company, this is the one. Android needs someone championing security for the platform since
Google seems uninterested in doing it.