Compute Engine Now Ready for Prime Time

For a company with as much expertise in running massive data centers packed with computing power, It's got to sting that Amazon Web Service gets all the glory when customers need cloud-computing infrastructure. Which is doubtless why Google is happy that its Google Compute Engine is out of testing and now generally available to all comers. The service offers a pool of servers on which customers can run various versions of Linux, paying for usage and assured that the systems will be up and running at least 99.95 percent of the time.

Windows 8.1 Overtakes Mac OS X 10.9 Among Desktop OS Users

Windows 8.1 is now the fifth most popular desktop OS, at least as seen by Web tracker Net Applications. For November, Microsoft's latest flavor of Windows snagged 2.64 percent of all desktop OS traffic recorded by Net Applications. That number was a healthy gain from the 1.72 percent seen in October and the 0.87 percent in September. The rise also pushed Windows 8.1 just ahead of Mac OS X 10.9 with a 2.42 percent and just behind Windows Vista with a 3.57 percent share.

Apple iOS 7.1 Beta Adds UI Tweaks

Apple has just released iOS 7 to registered developers. While still incremental, it's got a few noticeable feature updates yet for the young OS. The update, currently in beta, includes some bug fixes and user interface tweaks. For example, users can now toggle back and forth between a light and dark colored keyboard, better for use in dark settings. The update also lets iPhone 5S users upload "burst mode" photos - taken in rapid fire by holding down the shutter button - into the photo stream.

Dart, Google's Controversial Web Language, Turns 1.0

Dart is done. Well, not completely done - anything not actually cancelled at Google is a constant work in progress - but the company on Thursday announced version 1.0 of its controversial Web programming language. Dart is designed to improve on JavaScript when it comes to programmer efficiency and software performance for Web sites and Web apps. The 1.0 release means Dart is now ready for real-world Web sites, not just for testing, said Lars Bak, leader of the project, in a blog post. And even though lots of roadblocks mean it's not possible to use Dart directly on the Web, Google offers indirect mechanisms that could make it useful while Google tries to convince other browser makers Dart is worthwhile.

New Zero-day Bug Targets IE Users

A pair of vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer currently being exploited in the wild to install malware on computers that visit at least one malicious Web site, security researches warn. The classic drive-by download attack targets the English versions of IE 7 and 8 in Windows XP and IE 8 on Windows 7, security firm FireEye warned in a company blog post Friday. However, the security researcher wrote that its analysis indicated that other languages and browser version could be at risk.

Google Launches Helpouts

Helpouts, Google’s fusion of Google+ Hangouts, Google Wallet, and its identity tools is now live. A ‘Helpout’ is a Hangout-like video chat, but instead of speaking with a friend, you are connected to a purported expert in whatever it is that you need help with. The tagline that Google has come up with for Helpouts is “real help from real people in real time.”

KitKat Promises Android for All

Google's newest version of its mobile operating system, Android 4.4 KitKat, doesn't deliver a huge list of transformative design and feature changes, like what we saw when Ice Cream Sandwich was introduced. Instead, KitKat's main purpose is to usher in a strategy from Google to get the latest Android version on all Android devices, both premium and low-end.

Google Debuts Parental Controls For Chrome

Google is officially beginning to roll out parental controls in its Chrome web browser in the form of a new “Supervised Users” feature that is live now in the beta channel for early testing ahead of its expected public release. The option allows a user, most likely a parent, to lock down the Chrome browser running on their device in order to allow and block access to certain websites, enable SafeSearch for filtering Google search results, and maintain a history of the websites visited, among other things.

Apple's iOS 7.0.3 Arrives

Alongside new iPads and Macs, Apple on Tuesday quietly released an iOS update that brings new features and fixes others. iOS 7.0.3, which went out as a free update today, brings back iCloud Keychain -- a feature that was originally slated to launch with iOS 7, but did not make it into the final release.

Apple Pushes New Version Of OS X Mavericks GM

The consensus is that Apple currently plans on announcing the details of OS X Mavericks availability and pricing during this week’s event in San Francisco. We’re hearing that, in order to kill some last-minute bugs, a quiet update has been made to the Gold Master version of Mavericks previously shipped out to developers.

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