Microsoft release new square logo

New Microsoft logo

Microsoft has unveiled a new logo after 25 years since its last iteration. The new logo is set in Segoe and features four squares.

The Microsoft logo which has been used which follows the simplicity of the Windows logo (see below). “The symbol’s squares of color are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products” said Jeff Hansen a Manager for Brand Strategy at Microsoft on the Microsoft blog.

Windows 8 logo set on cyan

The new logo comes as Microsoft prepares for the updated releases of its most profitable consumer products, including Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Xbox services and Office with an updated design language, Metro. “This wave of new releases is not only a reimagining of our most popular products, but also represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning” said Hansen.

Cinch.fm announces closure of audio recording service

Cinch.fm a website that allows users to record and share audio snippets is coming to a close. New account creation will end on August 20 and all content will be deleted on October 20.

The company behind Cinch.fm, CinchCast, is moving their focus to BlogTalkRadio, an internet radio service. Bob Charish, chief operating officer at Cinch.FM, told users “we just do not have the engineering and product resources to maintain the service while continuing to invest in our main property, BlogTalkRadio”.

Khan Academy launches Computer Science course

Khan Academy's computer science homepage

The long awaited computer science (CS) course from Khan Academy has been launched today after nearly a year in creation. The online platform focusses on student interaction with code to teach computer science, is led by JavaScript guru and Khan Academy employee John Resig.

The course will be “far more engaging and self-paced than what you would find at a traditional university”, says Resig on his blog. Khan Academy has looked to “emphasize creativity and exploration and make it approachable for people of all ages, including young kids”, according to its launching blog article.

Tutorial for drawing in Khan Academy

The platform delivers tutorials with audio for instruction and pre-recorded code playback in the editor. Resig says students are able to “pause the playback and manipulate, or copy, the code that they see”.

Resig suggests that future versions will provide methods for collaboration between students (and mentors), more content and tools for users to build bigger projects with “APIs around storage, network connectivity, and dependencies”.

Facebook’s new ‘App Center’ is now available in the UK.

Facebook released the App Center early June in the United States, with more countries coming soon.

"The App Center gives you personalized recommendations, and lets you browse the apps your friends use. It only lists high-quality apps, based on feedback from people who use the app", said Matt Wyndowe, product manager, in the Facebook Newsroom.

Google cuts price of Google Maps API

Google has announced cuts to the cost for using the Google Maps API from $4 to 50¢ for 1,000 map loads that apply to the heaviest external websites using Google Maps.

Thor Mitchell, Product Manager for Google Maps API wrote on the Google Geo Developer blog that “fees will only apply to the top 0.35% of sites regularly exceeding the published limits of 25,000 map loads every day for 90 consecutive days”.

Google will also not differentiate between styled maps and the regular unstyled format to remove the difference in prices when using the different styles.

High-profile exits from the service have included Apple and Foursquare which have moved to the open-source OpenStreetMap project, which relies on mainly on users’ GPS data.

In Febuary this year, Foursquare team wrote “the new Google Maps API pricing was the reason we initially started looking into other solutions” on their blog and style maps with MapBox.

Microsoft annouces Surface

Microsoft has today announced a new Windows-based tablet called Surface. Surface will be available with Windows RT with an ARM processor and an Intel core processor with Windows 8 and will  size up at 10.6” with Microsoft Office and a new ‘touch cover’.

The ‘touch cover’ draw-card is a 3mm “pressure sensitive cover” that acts as a keyboard and clicks into the tablet. The alternative input is a stylus that blocks out the palm hitting the tablet, to allow for a pen and paper writing-like experience.

The tablet will be light sensitive to automatically adjust for indoors and outdoors and built from the VaporMg. Microsoft says this technology is “a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch” and allows for products “thinner than the typical credit card”.

The pricing has yet to be released but consumers can expect a price “comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC”.

Marketly issues most Google copyright removal requests for Microsoft

The updated Google Transparency report now includes copyright takedown requests information. This month’s data shows that Microsoft has been the highest copyright owner with most of Microsoft’s requests made by Marketly and DtecNet. Microsoft’s copyright requests have reached 543,378 URLs this month. The next closest copyright holder is the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) with 162,601 URLs.

Fred von Lohmann, Senior Copyright Counsel, said on the Google blog “in the past month alone, we received about 1.2 million requests made on behalf of more than 1,000 copyright owners to remove search results”.

Marketly are based on Redmond, WA with a satellite office in Ahmadabad, India according to their website. Marketley was founded by Pulin Thakkar, a past software engineer and manager at Microsoft.

Most of Microsoft’s content in requested URLs have been related to pirated software and games.

In past reports, Google has disclosed the amount of requests from government organisations by country as well as their uptime information.

Top three websites for curated mind-changing content

1. Longform

With the rise of internet journalism, the deluge of short and snappy articles that can be finished in a couple of minutes has risen.

Longform curates a different breed of journalism. Their collection of long-form journalism, they say, are “too long and too interesting to be read on a web browser”. These articles often carve a deep narrative and include investigative journalism.

The website has been integrated with reading tools including Readability and Instapaper and can be filtered by topics that interest you.

2. No Excuse List

The No Excuse List compiles free education resources on the internet in a handy directory.

From music theory to language websites, “there’s no longer an excuse for not being able to learn something”, explains the No Excuse List.

3. Organized Wonder

Created recently by Sawyer Hollenshead, Organized Wonder aims to find the “many great videos floating around the web that come from conferences, festivals, talented individuals and companies”.

Organized Wonder encourages users to share thought-provoking videos with their friends and follow other users.

Windows 8 drops Aero Glass

Windows 8 will signal a move away from the transparent UI of Windows Vista and 7 to a design based on their new “clean and crisp” design direction.

Jensen Harris from the Windows 8 team said that the new design was “chromeless” on the Building Windows blog and:

Gone are the glass and reflections. We squared off the edges of windows and the taskbar. We removed all the glows and gradients found on buttons within the chrome. We made the appearance of windows crisper by removing unnecessary shadows and transparency. The default window chrome is white, creating an airy and premium look.

The new look aims to concentrate focus on the apps. The team are also focussing on the touch user interface. Harris said “we resisted the temptation to make people choose between using mouse and keyboard or touch”.

The Building Windows blog post includes an interesting look-back at the past user interfaces of Windows since Windows 1.

What’s new in the upcoming Firefox 13

Latest additions that will be coming to Firefox 13 include performance improvements, new default tabs and improvements to the web developer tools.

Making Firefox “snappy” is a high priority for the Mozilla team. When loading tabs in a Firefox start-up, “only the active tab will load. Loading of background tabs is deferred until a tab is selected”, according to Lawrence Mandel on the Mozilla Hacks blog.

Mandel said that the “cycle collector is more efficient, spending less time examining memory that is still in use, which results in less pauses as you use Firefox”. Additionally, general performance improvements can be expected all-round Firefox.

A new “home tab” will be included. “Firefox will offer easy access to things users are familiar with today (Bookmarks, History, Settings, Downloads) as well as introduce the Apps Marketplace — a great place to discover exciting new content on the Web”, according to the Mozilla feature page.

As in the other modern web browsers, Firefox will include a “new tab” page. Currently, Firefox displays a blank page.

Mozilla is continuing with their improvements to the new web developer tools, as part of their 2012 desktop strategy they are including a “powerful and beautiful set of Web developer tools”.

Web developers will now have the ability to lock in a pseduo-classes such as :hover, making it easier to inspect the code. One of the most useful features will be the ability to edit CSS files in Firefox. Any changes will now be automatically saved if the CSS file stored locally (file://).

The expected release date is June 5 2012 and is currently available for download as a beta.