Following yesterday’s leaked screenshots of a new version of Office for Mac, ZDNetis reporting that its contacts have told it that Microsoft will announce timings for the new edition of Office for Mac “very soon.”
The company also is expected to disclose timing and possibly a public preview of its next Office for Mac release very soon, as well […] The latest rumored release target for the next Office for Mac is early 2015.
Yesterday’s report suggested a flattened look, support for Retina screens and integration with Notification Center.
An Italian competition organization has given Apple, Google, Amazon and Gameloft twenty days to submit a defence to its investigation into in-app purchases or face a fine of up to €5M ($6.9M), reports ZDNet.
The companies now have 20 days to comply with the requests for information that came with the letter, and to respond with their defences to the allegations. If the alleged violations proved to be true, the three internet giants and the European game developer could each face a fine up to €5m — although the Italian watchdog told ZDNet that the punishment would be proportional to each company’s size.
The complaint is based on two concerns. First, whether consumers are clear about the likely total cost of the app at the time they download it. Second, whether sufficient information is provided about how to prevent or limit in-app purchases, especially in games played by children.
Apple settled a similar complaint with the FTC in January, after last year offering refunds to parents whose children had made in-app purchases. At that time, Tim Cook pointed to the safeguards in place, which include the ability to disable in-app purchases with a single switch, and requiring a password for any purchases made more than 15 minutes after downloading the app.
iOS also now alerts customers that further purchases can be made within 15 minutes without re-entering their iTunes password, and all iTunes apps that offer in-app purchases are labelled as such in the App Store.
Both The Verge and ZDNet are independently reporting that Microsoft will finally launch Office for iPad at the end of this month on March 27th, according to sources. According to The Verge, the suite will (unsurprisingly) be very similar to the Office app already on the iPhone App Store.
Security researcher David Emery (via ZDNET) claimed to have discovered a bug in Mac OS X 10.7.3 that stores login passwords in plain text. In a recent newsletter, he claimed someone—we are guessing an Apple programmer— mistakenly “turned on a debug switch (DEBUGLOG)” that stores the passwords in a system-wide debug log file. Emery explained folders encrypted with Apple’s “legacy” Filevault prior to upgrading to Lion are at risk:
…anyone who can read files accessible to group admin can discover the login passwords of any users of legacy (pre LION) Filevault home directories who have logged in since the upgrade to 10.7.3 in early February 2012… This is worse than it seems, since the log in question can also be read by booting the machine into firewire disk mode and reading it by opening the drive as a disk or by booting the new-with-LION recovery partition and using the available superuser shell to mount the main file system partition and read the file. This would allow someone to break into encrypted partitions on machines they did not have any idea of any login passwords for.
It would also allow them to access any content those usernames and passwords are meant to protect. Fortunately, the file with stored passwords is only kept for “several weeks” by default. However, it extends to Time Machine backups, because the log file is also backed-up in plain text. Emery said the best method to protect yourself until Apple fixes the issue is to simply use FileVault 2: Expand Expanding Close
A Microsoft spokesperson said the screen shot accompanying The Daily’s story is not a picture of a real Microsoft software product. But the spokesperson also said Microsoft is declining to comment as to whether or not the company has developed a version of Office for the iPad and/or when such a product may come to market.
She later added this communication from Hickey:
“Right now, someone with a mid-level job at Microsoft is being yelled at. To that person: I’m sorry, I owe you a beer. But say it however you want to, we both know that Office for iPad is on its way. And if it’s as cool as the version I’ve seen, you’ve got a winner.”
A Microsoft employee released a third statement to the MacObserver:
Danell Arvberger, Sr. Category Manager – Office for Mac, said, “Interesting, this is the first I’ve heard of it. Thanks for sharing the article. If I find anything out and able to share I will let you know.”
It sounds like Microsoft is doing a non-denial denial. But wait, Hickey has more:
Long time Apple watcher Jason O’Grady from ZDNet said he heard that some software is on tap today including Pages ’12 with support for publishing to iBookStore, an iBooks 2 app that will also work on Macs with Lion and Textbook rentals. The event’s happenings are to be announced by Eddie Cue with help from Roger Rosner. All rumors seem plausible but uncertain.
Perhaps most interesting, Steve Jobs seems to have talked about Apple’s involvement in textbooks —perhaps pre-empting today’s announcement— in his official biography released late last year:
In fact Jobs had his sights set on textbooks as the next business he wanted to transform. He believed it was an $8 billion a year industry ripe for digital destruction. He was also struck by the fact that many schools, for security reasons, don’t have lockers, so kids have to lug a heavy backpack around. “The iPad would solve that,” he said. His idea was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple. “The process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt,” he said. “But if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don’t have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.”
Jobs had a much harsher view of the education “industry” in a 1996 interview, which we reported yesterday.
For what it is worth, our sources told us: “Don’t get your hopes up for anything consumer oriented.”