Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds vs. AirPods

Back in October, Microsoft decided to get into the wire-free earbuds market with the debut of the Surface Earbuds, designed to compete with Apple’s AirPods, Google’s Pixel Buds, and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds.

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We picked up a pair of Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds to check out the feature set and see how they measure up to Apple’s ‌AirPods‌.

Priced at $199, the Surface Earbuds have a design that’s rather… unique. There’s an AirPods-style earpiece that fits into the ear, along with a circular exterior portion that’s rather large and noticeable, designed primarily for touch gestures. The Surface Earbuds are not low-key, hard to see headphones — it’s obvious when you’re wearing them.


When it comes to fit, the Surface Earbuds are relatively comfortable. The ‌AirPods‌ kind of rest on the outside of the ears, while the Surface Earbuds are designed to fit a bit deeper in the ear canal, though not as deep as the AirPods Pro.


Surface Earbuds come with small, medium, and large tips, so most people should be able to get a decent fit. We found them to be uncomfortable to wear at first, but after they settled in for a few hours, the Surface Earbuds were more comfortable to wear.


The design of the Surface Earbuds definitely looks a bit funky, but it’s functional because of the simple and effective gesture set, which uses the large surface area of each earbud.


A double tap plays/pauses music, a swipe on the left earbud skips tracks, and a swipe on the right earbud controls the volume. ‌AirPods‌ don’t have gesture controls for volume, which is one of the major negatives when it comes to ‌AirPods‌ gestures.

There are also controls for accessing voice-based help and answering/ending phone calls, plus several Microsoft apps can take advantage of Surface Earbuds gestures. On an Android phone, for example, a triple tap on either earbud opens up the Spotify app. On iOS, you can listen to, delete, and reply to emails with touch and voice using the Outlook app, and in PowerPoint, you can swipe to advance slides, enable live captions and subtitles, and have what you’re saying be translated into one of 60 languages.

Sound quality on the Surface Earbuds was somewhat unimpressive. The low end was disappointing and on the whole, music playback had a tinny quality. There is an app that accompanies the Surface Earbuds for EQ adjustments, which helps improve the sound somewhat. There’s no Active Noise Cancellation, so the only sound isolating comes from the fit of the Surface Earbuds in the ear.


The Surface Earbuds have a six to eight hour battery life, which is extended to 24 hours with the included USB-C charging case, which has a rectangular design reminiscent of a little coffin. The case charges over USB-C, and there’s no wireless charging included.


When paired with a Surface device or a Windows PC running Windows 10, which is what the Surface Earbuds are designed to work with, there’s a Swift Pair feature for fast pairing, but on iOS devices, the connection will need to be done through Bluetooth settings.


Surface Earbuds are fine if you plan to use them with a PC or a Surface device, but there’s no reason to pick these up if you’re planning to use them with a Mac or an iPhone because the full feature set is restricted to Windows. Given the $199 price point, these are best for those who are in Microsoft’s ecosystem rather than Apple’s.

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Microsoft rolls out a new threat intelligence against COVID-19 attacks – Disposable mail news


COVID-19 has become a hotspot of cyber attacks and spams as the majority of employees are working from home. These growing numbers of attacks have made security firms and tech industries quite concerned. But Microsoft has come to the rescue, rolling out a new COVID-19 threat intelligence.

Microsoft announced on its blog a new move that will improve security and can be availed easily. The company has introduced a COVID-19 threat intelligence made available from May 14, sharing feeds for Azure Sentinel customers and publicly available for everyone on GitHub.

So, even if you are not a Microsoft customer worry not, you can still protect yourself from these COVID-19 based attacks. This data is only available for a limited period only until the pandemic threat looms over our heads.

“Microsoft processes trillions of signals each day across identities, endpoints, cloud, applications, and email, which provides visibility into a broad range of COVID-19-themed attacks, allowing us to detect, protect, and respond to them across our entire security stack,” Microsoft stated in their blog.
“Today, we take our COVID-19 threat intelligence sharing a step further by making some of our own indicators available publicly for those that are not already protected by our solutions.”

Users with Microsoft Threat Protection need not go through this, they are already protected with Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and email with Office 365 ATP.

These COVID-19 threat intelligence indicators are available on the Azure Sentinel GitHub via Microsoft Graph Security API.

Best Protection from COVID-19 Threats 

Hackers and Cybercriminals have been using an array of malicious ways from malware to phishing emails for their own gain. This move by Microsoft will shift the balance and go a long way to protect and defend from such threats.

Security researcher Sean Wright says, “Microsoft certainly deserves credit for this. It will be especially useful for those who are struggling at the moment and don’t necessarily have the funds to afford services that organizations would normally have to pay for.”

“This information is going to be very useful to enable many volunteers in the community to help organizations and others. It is the correlation of data—especially threat intelligence—that will go a long way to help stop the threat actors out there who are actively targeting organizations and individuals.”

Some are critical of this announcement by the tech giant pointing out that it is “too little, too late”.

 “I’m not saying it’s not welcome but where was this support nine weeks ago?” says Ian Thornton-Trump. 

Ian Thornton-Trump, CISO at Cyjax points out “It’s clever marketing and has some value—although most, if not all, those indicators of compromise (IOCs) will be available from a multitude of cyber threat intelligence sources, feeds and vendors already.”


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Windows 10 New Feature Hunts and Thwarts PUAs/PUPs – Disposable mail news

Per reports, Microsoft has hinted that the next main version of Windows 10 will come stacked with a fresh security feature that would allow the users to facilitate the Windows Defender’s secret feature that helps hunt and bar the installation of known PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications).

PUA’s are also widely known as PUPs that stands for Potentially Unwanted Programs. These aren’t as well known by the users in the cyber-crime world as all the other major threats but are a valid threat nevertheless.

Per sources, these are software that is installed on devices via fooling the targets. The term for which the PUP/PUA stands is self-explanatory with regards to applications or programs that your device may not really need.

PUPs/PUAs go around with tactics like either by employing “silent installs” to dodge user permissions or by “bundling” an unrequired application with the installer of an authentic program.

Sources mention that PUAs most commonly contain applications that alter browser history, hinder security controls, install root certificates, track users and sell their data, and display invasive ads.

As per reports, the May 2020 update is to be rolled out to the users in the last week of this month. Microsoft mentioned that it has added a fresh new feature in its setting panel that would allow users to bar the installation of any unwanted applications or programs in the form of known PUAs/PUPs.

As it turns out, researchers mention that the feature has been available in the Windows Defender for quite a lot of time, but for it to kick start it would need group policies and not the usual Windows user interface.

As per sources, to enable the feature a user must go to ‘Start’, ‘Settings’, ‘Update & Security’, ‘Windows Security’, ‘App & Browser Control’, and finally ‘Reputation-based Protection Settings’. Once updated, the feature would show two settings, the above-mentioned feature is disabled by default and would need to be enabled manually. However, Microsoft suggests, enabling both the settings.

Reports mention, that the “Block Apps” feature will scan for PUAs that have already been downloaded or installed, so if the user’s using a different browser Windows Security would intercept it after it’s downloaded. However, the “Block Downloads” feature hunts the PUAs while they are being downloaded.


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Microsoft Family Safety App Preview Available for iOS Users

Microsoft today announced that its Microsoft Family Safety app is available in a preview capacity to iOS users who sign up to use the feature.


Microsoft Family Safety includes features like device usage tracking, logging of content viewed, and location sharing, all of which Microsoft says is designed to allow parents to have conversations with children about device usage habits.

Find the balance that is right for your family. Give your kids independence to learn and explore, while setting boundaries that help them make good choices. Kids can see the same activity reports their parents see, so everyone can be part of the conversation. Additionally, with Microsoft Family Safety, family members can manage their data and information and who it is shared with. We work around the clock to help protect your information and will not sell your data.

An Activity Reporting feature provides details on how time is spent online, tracking usage, websites visited, and terms searched for. Email summaries are sent each week.

Screen Time Limits cap the amount of time that children can spend using Windows, Xbox devices, and Android smartphones. Limits through Microsoft are not a feature on iOS and parents will need to use the built-in Apple-designed Screen Time features for iPhones and iPads.

Content controls allow parents to create web and search filters to block mature content and limit browsing to kid-friendly websites when using Microsoft Edge.

Location sharing features allow parents to see where their children are at a glance, plus it labels locations visited the most like home, work, and school.

Microsoft is allowing a limited number of iOS users to sign up for Microsoft Family Sharing, and it’s ideal for those who also use Microsoft devices. To participate, iOS users will need to make sure to set up a family group on Microsoft’s Family website and then sign up to test through a form on the Microsoft website.

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Microsoft to Add Trackpad Support to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Apps on iPad

Facebook SDK Issue Causing Some iOS Apps to Crash

Multiple iPhone and iPad users are seeing their apps crashing at launch as of this afternoon, and the issue appears to be caused by a faulty Facebook SDK that the apps are using.
There are multiple complaints about apps crashing continually on iOS devices on the MacRumors forums, and a wide range of apps appear to be impacted. Google’s Waze app, for example, won’t launch, and there have been …

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Forza Street Now Available on iOS

Forza Street, designed by Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios, is now available for download, Microsoft announced today. Designed as a free-to-play mobile version of Microsoft’s highly popular Forza franchise, the new Forza Street game can be played on both Android and iOS devices.

Microsoft says Forza Street provides quick under-a-minute races aimed at mobile gameplay, with players able to unlock new cars and part upgrades to grow their car collections.

Players who download and play Forza Street between today and June 5, 2020 will receive a 2017 Ford GT and added in-game credits and gold to help them unlock new vehicles.

Forza Street can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Microsoft

This article, “Forza Street Now Available on iOS” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Wunderlist Users Have Until June 30 to Transfer Tasks to Microsoft’s To Do App

Microsoft today reminded users that Wunderlist will be shut down on May 6, meaning that to-dos will no longer sync. Wunderlist users will still be able to transfer their tasks and lists over to the Microsoft To Do app until June 30.



How to migrate from Wunderlist to Microsoft To Do:

1. Download the Microsoft To Do app.

2. Sign in with your Microsoft account. If you don’t have one, you can create one using an existing email address (like Gmail).

3. Click on the pop-up in Microsoft To Do, or head to Settings and select Import. It’ll direct you to the Wunderlist importer.

Microsoft acquired Wunderlist in 2015 and launched its own To Do app with many of the same features a few years later, including folders, subtasks, file attachments, list sharing, notes, reminders and due dates, and a dark mode.

Microsoft To Do is free on the App Store for iPhone and iPad.

Tags: Microsoft, Wunderlist

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24 Million Adware Attacks found on Windows – Disposable mail news


Avast, a security firm, discovered in their research the growing scale of adware. According to the report, around 72% of malware on android was adware. Another report by Malwarebytes reveals some shocking numbers with 24 million windows adware detections and 30 million on Macs.

Nowadays, with good search engines and added internet security, we hardly consider adware as a severe threat. There was a time, around 2002 when adware attacks were at an all-time high. It was quite common to be faced with pop-ups and adds opening another window showing adverts. Only a few software provided essential protection against these pop-ups.

But in this digital-savvy decade, we hardly consider pop-ups as a security threat, but this report by Avast tells a different story. The numbers show that adware is still very much present and thriving.

“Adware is unwanted software designed to throw advertisements up on your screen, most often within a web browser.” This adware campaign can have malicious intents, especially using COVID-19, to fulfill their purposes.

Kaspersky released a report in which more than 120,000 malware and adware were impersonating meeting software like Zoom. Most evident were: DealPly and DownloadSponsor.

This adware has evolved from their previous counterparts to a high capacity. Now they display that install and download other adware software. In some cases, the adware DealPly and ManageX can be installed automatically with the legitimate installer and other potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).

Battling with adware is a hard war because of their large numbers. There are hundreds of apps developed every day and registered; many come laden with adware. To check every single one of them is more robust than finding a needle in a haystack.

In March, Google banned 56 malicious applications, but by then, they already had around a million downloads. It is effortless for these apps to pose as legitimate and carry adware along with them.

Adware is often ignored in the shadows of more severe security threats, and even though it is less harmful, it nonetheless is far more ubiquitous. Hence, security teams must be cautious of adware and take preventive steps.


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Google Is All Set To Fight The Coronavirus Themed Phishing Attacks and Scams – Disposable mail news

These days of lock-down have left cyber-criminals feeling pretty antsy about “working from home”. Not that it has mattered because apparently, that is why the number of cyber-crime cases has only hiked especially the Phishing attacks.

This has gotten Google working on its machine-learning models to bolster the security of Gmail to create a stronger security front against cyber-criminals.

Given the current conditions, the attackers seem to have a morbid sense when it comes to the themes of the Phishing attacks, i.e. COVID-19. Reportedly, 18 Million such attacks were blocked in a single week. Which amount up to 2.5% of the 100 Million phishing attacks it allegedly dodges every day.

Google, per sources, is also occupied with jamming around 240 Million spam messages on a daily basis. These phishing attacks and spams at such a worrisome time have impelled Google and Microsoft to modify their products’ mechanisms for creating a better security structure.

Reportedly, the number of phishing attacks, in general, hasn’t risen but in the already existing number of attacks, the use of COVID-19 or Coronavirus seems to have been used a lot.

Malware and phishing attacks, especially the ones related to COVID-19 are being pre-emptively monitored. Because being resourceful as the cyber-criminals are the existing campaigns are now being employed with little upgradations to fit the current situation.

A few of the annoying phishing emails include, ones pretending to be from the World Health Organization (WHO) to fool victims into making donations for VICTIMS to a falsified account.

Per the intelligence teams of Microsoft, the Coronavirus themed phishing attacks and scams are just the remodeled versions of the previous attacks.

The attackers are extremely adaptive to the things and issues that their victims might easily get attracted to. Hence a wide variety of baits could be noticed from time to time.

During the lock-down period of the pandemic, health-related and humanitarian organizations have been extensively mentioned in the scams and phishing emails.

Per sources, the Advanced Protection Program (APP) lately acquired new malware protections by enabling Google Play Protect On Android devices to some specifically enrolled accounts.

Allegedly, users trying to join the program with default security keys were suspended, while the ones with physical security keys were still allowed to be enrolled.

All the bettered security provisions of Google shall be turned on by default so that the users can continue to live a safe and secure life amidst the pandemic.


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‘Forza Street’ Simulation Racing Game Coming to iOS on May 5

Developers Turn 10 Studios and Microsoft have announced that simulation racing game Forza Street is coming to iPhone and iPad on May 5.



Forza Street is a simplified version of the original Forza racing game series for Xbox and PC that emulates the performance and handling characteristics of real-life production, modified, and racing cars. The mobile version will include a story-driven mode as well as the option to compete in races that last just a minute.

In a game where collecting and upgrading cars often leads domination on the streets, it’ll be interesting to see how the developers balance the free-to-play mechanic with the presence of in-app purchases.

With that in mind, anyone who plays Forza Street within the first month will get the Founders Pack, which includes the 2017 Ford GT as well as virtual credits and gold.

Tag: Microsoft

This article, “‘Forza Street’ Simulation Racing Game Coming to iOS on May 5” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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