Microsoft Launches Windows 10 S-Based Surface Laptop for Students

Today's topics include Microsoft launching its new Surface Laptop for students; Apple's CEO blaming a "pause in iPhone sales" for a $1 billion drop in Q2 revenue; Intel warning of an Active Management Technology vulnerability; and Google being criticized for requesting more groundwater to cool a South Carolina data center.

Microsoft has unveiled the newest device in its Surface lineup, the aptly named Surface Laptop.

Aimed at students, the sleek portable runs the newly introduced Windows 10 S operating system and features a 13.5-inch PixelSense display in the now-familiar 3:2 aspect ratio that has become a distinguishing characteristic of the Surface portfolio.

The touch- and stylus-enabled screen has a resolution of 2,256 by 1,504 pixels, for nearly 3.4 million pixels in total, and is "the thinnest LCD touch module ever created," claimed Panos Panay, corporate vice president of Microsoft Devices, during an education-themed media event in New York City on May 2.

Apple, the world's richest and most successful IT hardware company, has seen its smartphone sales level off during the past year, and that trend continued in the first three months of 2017. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company's income forecast for the current quarter, which was expected to be $44.5 billion, came in about $1 billion short of Wall Street estimates.

On a conference call with analysts and journalists, CEO Tim Cook said Apple is seeing what it believes "to be a pause in purchases of iPhone, which [Apple believes] are due to the earlier and much more frequent reports about future iPhones."

Intel issued a critical security advisory on May 1, warning of a privilege escalation vulnerability that impacts the Intel Active Management Technology, Intel Standard Manageability and Intel Small Business Technology management technologies.

AMT is an Intel technology that enables organizations to manage and maintain systems.

Intel warned in its advisory that if left unpatched, an attacker could potentially exploit the vulnerability, identified as CVE-2017-5689, to gain management control.

There is a firmware update available to fix the issue, though not every system manufacturer has the update available for users. Intel has also published a four-page guide on how to mitigate the issue.

Google, which often likes to tout its environmental friendliness, is at the center of a controversy over plans to increase its daily use of groundwater from an aquifer in Berkeley County, S.C., to cool one of its massive data centers there.

The aquifer is also used as a drinking water source by the town of Mount Pleasant in South Carolina, and town officials are concerned that increased use of the aquifer could deplete its water reserves. Google, however, maintains that the concerns are unfounded and not based on scientific fact.

Google currently has a permit to tap 500,000 gallons of water a day from the aquifer and has put in a request seeking to use up to 1.5 million gallons of water daily from the aquifer, or three times what it uses currently, leading to protests from town officials.