Today’s topics include Microsoft’s push to put users in control of the Flash content on Web pages, the expansion of Google’s Safe Browsing Alerts for Network Administrators service to include a broader range of threats, Verizon’s increased interest in the acquisition of Yahoo and IBM’s desire to make its cognitive computing platform more humanlike.
Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer’s successor, is the default Web browser that ships with Windows 10. And with the upcoming highly anticipated Anniversary Update for the operating system, Microsoft is making it so that unsuspecting users no longer have to scramble for their volume controls when they land on a Web page with auto-playing Adobe Flash ads.
A recently released preview build of the OS includes an update to the Edge browser that gives users more control over Flash’s impact on PC performance, according to John Hazen, principal program manager lead for Microsoft Edge.
There are exceptions, noted Hazen. If Flash “is central to the page,” as is often the case with video streaming and Web games, the content will not be paused.
For more than five years Google has been offering its Safe Browsing Alerts for Network Administrators service that, like its counterpart for individual users, warns administrators about potentially unsafe URLs on their networks.
Now, network administrators will get alerts on a broader range of threats on their network via Safe Browsing. In addition to alerts about URLs serving malware, Google will now warn administrators if its search engine crawlers find URLs serving up unwanted software as well as phishing and other social engineering scams from within a particular domain.
With today being the first-round bid deadline, Verizon remains very interested in acquiring Yahoo’s Web business while other potential bidders, including AT&T and Comcast, have apparently dropped out of the competition for the company.
Google, at the same time, could be interested in bidding for Yahoo’s core business as well, according to an April 7 story by Bloomberg, which is based on unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
Verizon is “willing to acquire the company’s Yahoo Japan Corp. stake to help sweeten the offer,” according to the article, which added that Microsoft, which failed with a hostile bid for Yahoo in 2008, won’t bid this time.
Other companies are also still eyeing a potential bid, Bloomberg reported, including Time Inc. and private equity funds Bain and others, “either alone or by backing a strategic acquirer.”
IBM Fellow Rob High believes that for too long, the relationship between humans and computers has been too uneven, with users constantly having to make adjustments to accommodate the systems.
High, who is also CTO of IBM’s Watson Group, the unit charged with developing and improving the company’s highest-profile and most famous effort in what it calls cognitive computing, wants that to change.
Researchers and engineers with the Watson Group will spend much of their time this year working to make the computer more humanlike.
They will have to not only understand the questions humans ask and the statements they say, but will have to be able to pick up on all the visual and other non-verbal cues—such as facial expressions, the emphasis placed on words in a sentence and the tone of the voice—that people give in the normal course of interactions with each other.