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April 29, 2013

Technology News Briefs — April 29, 2013

Microsoft Experimenting With Rebranding Concepts

Windows is not the only Microsoft platform scheduled for a makeover.

Bing, Skype, Yammer and Xbox are also part of a rebranding effort being headed by Windows phone design studio general manager Albert Shum and Todd Simmons, creative director at Wolff Olins.

Shum and Simmons, who have been working on the concept for some time, revealed some of the rebranding plans during a recent 45-minute Design Day presentation in Oslo, Norway.

The pair discussed “the re-imagining of Microsoft, inside and out via its product and service brand experiences” and also demonstrated some early design concepts for Windows, Office and Bing. This was the first time the new look for Bing was revealed to the public.

The Bing logo resembles a flying boomerang, or possibly a toy airplane. Simmons said the “other brands are coming along too – Bing, Skype, Yammer, Xbox…everything is under development as well.”

Simmons also said Microsoft is taking a page out of Nike’s book.

“When you experience the Nike brand in whatever form you may experience it, there’s always a Nikeness right…you can certainly see it without the logo,” he said, adding that Microsoft wants its products to sport a uniform look but also be able to stand alone as a brand.

LivingSocial Latest in Long Line of Hacks

LivingSocial’s security practices simply were not tough enough to withstand the massive hack of its systems April 26 that affected more than 50 million users, security experts say.

Hackers were able to access the names, e-mail addresses, birth dates and encrypted passwords of the daily deals site’s customers worldwide.

Although the passwords could have been used to access accounts, LivingSocial has said it does not believe any accounts were compromised. The site has since reset members’ passwords.

According to PC World, LivingSocial used hashing to encrypt user passwords. The report indicated Living Social is now hashing its stored passwords in a more robust algorithm based on Blowfish called bcrypt.

According to a number of security experts, the hack of LivingSocial’s systems — the latest in a long line of such hacks over the past five months — is further evidence that two factor identification should become a standard for all online websites with member accounts.

Apple WWDC Tickets Sell Out ‘in Record Time’

Apple enthusiasts who missed out on tickets for this year’s World Wide Developers conference in San Francisco can still soak up some knowledge.

Apple has announced two options for developers who won’t be at the conference.

“For those who can’t join us in San Francisco, you can still take advantage of great WWDC content, as we’ll be posting videos of all our sessions during the conference,” Apple said in a statement. “We’ll also be hitting the road this fall with Tech Talks in a city near you. Hope to see you there.”

Tickets to the five-day conference, slated for June 10-14, sold out “in record time.”

The event is a chance for developers to learn about future versions of iOS and OS X so they are better able to create compatible apps for the updated operating systems.

The conference will feature more than 100 technical sessions headed by more than 1,000 Apple engineers as well as hands-on labs to help developers integrate new technologies.

“We look forward to gathering at WWDC 2013 with the incredible community of iOS and OS X developers,” senior vice-president of worldwide marketing Philip Schiller said in a press release.

“Our developers have had the most prolific and profitable year ever, and we’re excited to show them the latest advances in software technologies and developer tools to help them create innovative new apps. We can’t wait to get new versions of iOS and OS X into their hands at WWDC.”