Monday tech roundupWhereas Microsoft and Apple have been stealing the spotlight for a few weeks running, last week the tech world turned its eyes towards Google and our main story today is about the antitrust charges against Google brought on by the European Commission. Also this week; Google announces a super useful feature for your Android phone, Twitter’s upcoming change to its Privacy Policy, a fate worse than the blue screen of death and the many faces of Microsoft Office.

Google and the EC lock horns

The biggest story last week was the filing of antitrust charges brought onto Google by the European Commission (EC). In an EC press release it was revealed that the Commission sent a Statement of Objections to Google alleging the company had abused its position when providing results in internet searches within the European Economic Area (EEA), thus stifling competition and harming customers. Google is being accused of favoring its own comparison shopping product, and such conduct is said to infringe on EU antitrust rules. A separate formal investigation on Android was also launched.

Margrethe Vestager, EU commissioner in charge of competition policy said, “Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary. However, if the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe.”

In the meantime, Google addressed the issue by posting a response on their Official Blog stating; “Indeed if you look at shopping — an area where we have seen a lot of complaints and where we understand the European Commission will focus its Statement of Objections — it’s clear that (a) there’s a ton of competition (including from Amazon and eBay, two of the biggest shopping sites in the world) and (b) Google’s shopping results have not harmed the competition…”

Last week might have been an interesting one but it’s not yet time to bring out the popcorn. It might be some time before all the red tape hurdles are overcome in Brussels and we find out the outcome of the investigation. All we know for sure is that Google will be fighting this out hard.

Melanie Hart

Google search your Android phone

In the words of Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth; Good news everyone! You can now find the location of your lost Android phone by searching for it on Google. How amazing is that? Writing “Find my phone” on Google will serve you with a map of its location and a ring option, just in case you lost your phone somewhere around the house. For this feature to work you need to have the latest version of Android’s main Google app installed and your also need to be logging into the same Google account on both your phone and your browser.

Melanie Hart

You have a right to be forgotten

Twitter will be changing its privacy policy and terms of service next month and this change will impact all of its non-US users. This was announced in a blogpost and a subsequent email shot to all users outside the US stating; “Starting 18 May 2015, users outside the United States will receive Twitter services from Twitter International Company, based in Dublin Ireland. The features, the look and feel, and everything else you love will not change.” Since it is based in Dublin, all account information comes under Irish Data privacy laws which are transposed from the EU Data Protection Directive. This directive is currently being updated and the draft shows consent needs to be given by the individual before personal data is shared. The directive is also likely to include the ‘right to be forgotten’ clause. According to TheNextWeb this change will effect 77% of Twitter users, that is, 300 million users.

Melanie Hart

Some Snowden password advice

And, in case you missed it, have a look at Edward Snowden’s password advice on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. Snowden says to start thinking of passphrases instead of passwords. User education doesn’t get funnier than this – MargarethTatcheris110%sexy FTW!

Melanie Hart

Windows 10; a fate worse than the Blue Screen of Death

Anyone who has used Windows for any length of time (and in the worst case this could be just a couple hours of computing) has run across the Blue Screen of Death. Testers of Windows 10 who don’t keep their operating system fresh face a worse fate – a machine utterly frozen and locked up tighter than Charles Manson. There are three test builds of the Windows 10 Technical Preview that were released last year, and each of these will stop working by the end of this month unless you install the latest build.

Microsoft has been after these testers to upgrade, first with warnings that the software is about to retire, and second, by having the system reboot every three hours. Problem is these un-asked for reboots are a huge bother. Microsoft Office Autorecover is, after many years, still flakier than my gram’s apple pie. I’ve lost plenty of work over the years, even though I have autosave set for every 5 minutes.

Doug Barney

The many faces of Microsoft Office

If you want an example of a huge cash cow, look no further than Microsoft Office. This thing can really moo. Far from putting Office out to pasture, Microsoft is changing Office to keep up with the times, as it did several years back by moving to the cloud with Office 365.

Now comes news of two new approaches which are now both in testers’ hands. One version is a new rev of the old-standby suite built for Windows and Mac clients and meant to be installed the old fashioned way (that is, right there on the hard drive). These will be out later this year in the form of Office 2016 for Mac and Office 2016 for Windows. The second approach, and certainly the most interesting, is Office Universal which is a touch-screen savvy version of Office Apps built not just for Windows Phones, but for Windows 10 as well.  New test versions of Office Universal are due later this month but here’s the truly fascinating part. Office Universal is largely based on the versions of Office already running on iPhones and Android phones, I guess Windows First is no longer relevant.

Doug Barney