TIME Apple

Apple’s New Software Has Hidden Clues About Its Next Product

The iMac is due for a big upgrade

Apple may be developing a 4K iMac and other interesting new products, according to references in the code of its latest operating system. The beta for OS X El Capitan mentions within its code support for a 4096 x 2304 resolution display, also known as 4K. 9to5Mac, which sniffed out the reference, speculates that the display could be rolled out for Apple’s 21.5-inch iMac later this year. Right now, Apple has a 5K display for its $2,000 27-inch Mac, but the smaller desktop computer hasn’t yet been given a super-high-resolution screen.

Other bits of code in El Capitan appear to indicate that Apple is working on a new Bluetooth remote control that includes a Multi-Touch trackpad and audio support. Earlier reports have mentioned that a revamped remote control with a touchpad is expected to be rolled out with a revamped version of Apple TV later this year.

TIME Software

Desktop Showdown: Windows 10 vs. Mac OS X El Capitan

We pit the best features of the two upcoming desktop operating systems against each other

Just when you were getting used to your computer the way it is, the geniuses behind Windows and Mac OS are ready to change it again. But don’t fret — change is good, at least in these cases.

The new Mac OS X build, named “El Capitan” after the iconic Yosemite National Park rock formation, will arrive this fall and is full of performance and user interface updates. Meanwhile, Windows 10, available July 29, has a slew of features, new and old, that will make PCs work much better than ever before.

If you’re basing a computer purchasing decision on these operating systems, the comparison below will help you pick the best system for your needs.

Improved intelligence

Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant, plays a key role in Windows 10. It gradually learns your preferences, setting reminders and delivering them at the right time and on the best device. Cortana operates independent of your device because she’s cloud-based, and like any good assistant, she also maintains a notebook where she can keep track of your interests, favorite places, and even quiet hours when you don’t want her bugging you.

You’d expect El Capitan to counter with some Siri magic of its own, but Apple continues to hold its voice assistant out of its desktop operating system, leaving it only on its handheld devices instead. Still, Apple has improved the Mac desktop’s Spotlight search feature, which can now find all sorts of information, like weather, stocks, and sports scores — in addition to your files and apps. Apple also added a natural language search feature to Spotlight, which means you can ask it for “documents I worked on last June,” and it will pull together exactly what you want.

Advantage: Microsoft. No Siri? Then there’s no way Apple wins here.

Adding to apps

Apple pushed El Capitan’s intelligence beyond the operating system and into its apps, applying natural language search to the Mail app, for instance, so users can search for messages using strings such as “emails I ignored from Phil.” This elevates Mac OS X from smart to truly intelligent, and it will be interesting to see which other apps get a similar brain transplant. Mail also gets full screen perks and swipe-based gestures to make it feel more like the iOS email app, but there’s still big differences between the two.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is tearing down the wall between desktop and mobile, not just with its convertible Surface tablet but also in the new Windows Store, the one place to buy apps for every Windows 10 device, whether PC, tablet, or smartphone. Windows 10 will also optimize apps to look and work better, regardless of your device, pulling and reconfiguring programs to fill your screen no matter its size.

Advantage: Draw. Apple’s app updates are nice, but not revolutionary, while it’s too early to know how successful Windows Store apps will be.

Better browsers

While web browsers are technically apps, they go above and beyond the standard software and are hugely important to these operating systems. Apple’s Safari browser has been around for years, and has already seen a lot of refinements. Still, it could use some work (like improved memory management). But Apple’s heart was in the right place when it introduced a tiny button that can mute music or videos playing in some buried tab, any number of windows deep. And speaking of tabs, Safari’s new Pinned Tabs feature lets users keep some go-to windows open in the background without taking up much screen real estate. Though there’s no guarantee that they won’t gobble up your RAM.

On the other hand, the new Microsoft Edge browser, which takes center stage from Internet Explorer, is a bundle of question marks. In 2015, you’d expect it to emerge working free and smooth. Reviews of the beta version bear that out, but we won’t really know until everyone is using it. Still, there’s a lot to like, with users getting the ability to write or type notes directly on webpages and Cortana’s smarts being woven into the app’s fabric. But Microsoft is also touting features like a save-it-for-later reading list, which is something that Safari has had for years, so it’s difficult to see Edge as anything but a catch-up act.

Advantage: Apple — though most users would probably rather give this round to Chrome.

The little things

In the eyes of many Windows users, Microsoft could have just slapped a Start menu on Windows 8.1 and it would’ve won back the hearts of the masses. Of course it actually did that — the once-discarded launcher button will return in Windows 10 — but Microsoft also upped the ante by improving the system’s already great window management system. Now Windows 10 lets users snap as many as four apps into place on a screen, or create more virtual desktops for even more groupings.

And in this instance, it’s Apple that chasing the leader by announcing El Capitan can accommodate two apps split on a full screen. Apple has given users multiple desktops for years already, but its new side-by-side window-management feature is just a nuanced convenience. It shouldn’t be bragging about a feature that’s this long overdue.

Still, it’s the little things that make El Capitan an upgrade to look forward to. For instance, when users wiggle the mouse or touchpad to find the cursor, the arrow will temporarily swell up to be more visible. Another upgrade is that Mac users will be able to use AirPlay to sling web videos from Safari to an Apple TV without having to share their whole display. And then there’s the “time to leave” feature that takes into account travel time for your appointments, and tells users when they should put down the mouse and grab the car keys.

Advantage: Apple. Windows bringing back the Start button is great, but it’s really just them fixing a near-fatal error. Meanwhile, Apple’s added features may literally be window-dressing, but at least they’re new.

Gaming and graphics

Apple was effusive in its praise for El Capitan’s improved performance, citing 1.4-times faster app launching, 2-times faster app switching, and even 4-times faster PDF opening. But the biggest gains came at the chip and code level, where the company introduced Metal to its desktop machine. A way to crunch code faster, Metal was released on iOS last year and now makes its way to Apple’s computers. The technology is said to accelerate graphics with a 50% increase in rendering performance and a 40% improvement in rendering efficiency. Ideal for helping graphics-intensive games look stunning, Metal is also positioned to add brawn to pro-level software. For instance, Adobe was able to add improvements to Illustrator that will have designers in love with El Capitan.

But it will take more than Metal to get Apple competitive with Microsoft on the gaming front — especially since there are plans afoot to let Xbox users stream their games to other Windows 10 devices, turning laptops, tablets, and phones into gaming rigs. That’s a huge move, and if it works well, it will make El Capitan look like a marinero when it comes to games.

Advantage: Xbox. Er, I mean Microsoft.

Read next: This Is Apple Music’s 1 Huge Advantage Over Spotify

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Microsoft

Microsoft Just Confirmed the Real Price of Windows 10

It'll be free—sort of

Microsoft has begun taking reservations for its next major operating system release, Windows 10. The Redmond, Washington-based software giant said the overhauled system will become available July 29.

Windows 10 will be available as a free download for a year after its initial release for users of Windows 7 and Windows 8. Users who don’t qualify for the free update will be able to purchase the software.

On June 1, Microsoft told CNET that Windows 10 will be priced similarly to its predecessor. That means prices will run from $110 for the Windows 10 Home package to $199 for Windows 10 Pro. A Windows 10 Pro Pack will let users upgrade from Home to Pro for $99.

MORE Nintendo Just Revealed a Ton of New Games

Windows 10’s new features include Cortana, a digital personal assistant akin to Apple’s Siri or Google Now, a redesigned Start Menu, and all-new Internet browser.

The company has said Windows 7 and Windows 8 users can reserve an upgrade from a notification icon in their task bar. Windows 10 files will be downloaded automatically by July 29th.

Read next: 5 Windows 10 Features We Can’t Wait to Use

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Microsoft

Microsoft Announces Windows 10 Release Date

It’s coming very soon

Microsoft will launch Windows 10 on July 29th. The technology giant had previously promised to release the next version of its computer operating system sometime this summer. That date represents aggressive timing for a company that has, at times, had difficult launches for major products. The Redmond, Washington-based company has been releasing increasingly polished preview builds of the software over the past few months.

Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade for users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. To publicize that, the company is making a small notification appear in users’ task bars. Clicking on the notification, pops up a slide show extolling the benefits of Windows 10. Some of the new features include: the return of the Start menu, an all-new Internet browser, and Cortana, a digital personal assistant making to Google Now or Apple’s Siri.

From Microsoft’s release:

With Windows 10, we start delivering on our vision of more personal computing, defined by trust in how we protect and respect your personal information, mobility of the experience across your devices, and natural interactions with your Windows devices, including speech, touch, ink, and holograms. We designed Windows 10 to run our broadest device family ever, including Windows PCs, Windows tablets, Windows phones, Windows for the Internet of Things, Microsoft Surface Hub, Xbox One and Microsoft HoloLens—all working together

TIME Interview

Photo Expert: ‘A Manipulated Image Is Not Necessarily a Lie’

Korean Central News Agency (Filters: eXo maKina) In this photograph of North Korean troops engaging in a trianing exercise, eXo maKina was able to detect that parts of the image had been duplicated and enhanced.

"We need rules that are understandable and practical for photographers, for agencies, and everyone interested in the image in general."

In the age of digital photography, it’s become increasingly easy to modify, process or manipulate the content of an image, and increasingly harder to sort truth from fiction.

In 2009, under the impulsion of the French Ministry of Defense, the computer science technologies company eXo maKina developed Tungstene, a program that can reveal changes made to a digital file. Just a few weeks after World Press Photo, the world’s leading photojournalism competition, was forced to disqualify 20% of final entries because of excessive manipulation, Roger Cozien, the man behind Tungstene, discusses the relevance of truth in photography in an interview first published in French in OAI13 and republished here for the first time in English.

Nathalie Hof: What is Tungstène, and why did you develop it?

Roger Cozien: First of all, there are a few elements I would like to clarify: within the company eXo maKina, we never use the term “editing”. This word means nothing and everything at the same time. Everybody uses it and in fact, when using Tungstène, this is not what we expect to detect. We talk about “alteration” and “manipulation”. And when we notice an underlying intention to mislead, we talk about “falsification” or “intrusion”. We prefer those terms to straightaway specify that we are not at all in the aesthetic field.

Getting back to your question, we were asked to work on Tungstène by the French Ministry of Defense in 2009 in order to evaluate the photographs available and circulating without restriction on the Internet. The Ministry was interested in the international press, particularly the online one, but also in the social networks and all types of blogs. These are uncontrolled information and communication media, especially when they come from war zones where propaganda can be very strong. It is in this context that the Ministry of Defense needed a verification tool.

Nathalie Hof: Who uses Tungstène today?

Roger Cozien: The French Ministry of Defense, the French Ministry of Interior, the French justice, the Agence France-Presse (AFP), and the Moroccan royal police force. These organizations already bought the software. But I very often conduct analysis on demand, especially for judiciary cases. In these situations, I am the one operating the software.

Nathalie Hof: How does it work?

Roger Cozien: There is hardly any photographic aspect: we are in the digital field. We do not deal with photography, but with information from mathematical, physical and computer sciences perspectives. We use a computer file inside which there is a digital photograph. To sum up, we could say it is mathematics. The software makes calculations thanks to filters divided in several families. Each family of filters gives specific information about the file. These filters aim at detecting anomalies. They give you any and all specific and particular information which can be found in the photograph file. And these particularities, called “singularities”, are sometimes only accidental: this is because the image was not well re-saved or that the camera had specific features, for example.

The software in itself is neutral: it does not know what is an alteration or a manipulation. So, when it notices an error, the operator needs to consider whether it is an image manipulation, or just an accident. In order to do so, he tries to confirm the image by checking whether several filters notice it. This is what we call filters convergence. This means in general that the action taken was deeper and more important than simple development.

Nathalie Hof: Can media organizations use Tungstène?

Roger Cozien: It is mainly used by the AFP. As an agency, it receives images coming from many different sources: their own photographers, other agencies worldwide, freelance photographers, as well as more and more amateurs. Before circulating an image which can be false, the AFP wants to verify its authenticity. All images are not verified: it depends on what is at stake and/or if they have a doubt. [We’re talking about] quite spectacular photos or photos coming from non-democratic countries. It also happens that the rest of the press – the distributors – contacts us to check images linked to very important events on a case-by-case basis. The French weekly magazine Nouvel Observateur, for example, called us in 2011 when Osama Bin Laden was killed by the American military.

Korean Central News Agency (Filters: eXo maKina)In this photo of King Jong-un, eXo maKina was able to detect that the North Korean generals’ medals were enhanced in post-processing.

Nathalie Hof: Are there a lot of altered images published in the press?

Roger Cozien: A significant number indeed. With different levels of alteration, however. On some of them, the manipulation is very light. Considering whether an image was altered means entering into semiotic. In semiotics, we consider that there is no neutral image. I hear many people saying that photography has to be neutral. But it is not true, it does not make any sense! All photographs carry a message and are the reflection of a point of view, if only through the framing.

There is no guide or criteria saying what is acceptable and what is not. Every agency, every newspaper has its own criteria. I have followed the debates regarding image manipulation and staging set off by the World Press Photo this year. The problem with the World Press is that it applies rules which are not often distributed in advance and are not clear. The point is: what are the rules? At what point can we say that an image was manipulated or not? Did they have themselves an in-depth discussion about what was acceptable and what was not? I have the impression that the people behind the World Press Photo and at festivals such as Visa pour l’Image completely forget these semiotic aspects and are only focusing on the photographic aspects. So, they generally write nonsense.

We are working on the subject with a specialist in semiotics, and we are planning to publish a book soon. We try to explain that we need rules that are understandable and practical for photographers, for agencies, and everyone interested in the image in general. And we need to have the tools to verify that these rules are applied, otherwise, it is absolutely useless.

We are all mistaken in considering that photography is the witness of reality. It’s wrong. Photography is a way for the photographer to express himself. The question is not: “What does the photograph show?” but: “What did the photographer mean?” Take a photographer coming back from Nepal. His speech will be very emphasized: “I was in Nepal, it was dreadful, unbelievable, horrifying!” Someone writing a press release using those terms will not be told: “Sir, you said it was dreadful but it was not, it was only tragic.” We never have this type of reflection. We never blame a journalist or a witness for using an inappropriate word. However, a photographer saying: “I saw a fire. My photograph was not representative enough of what I saw, so I darkened the smoke to give it a more terrible effect.” Why would this photographer be more blameworthy than someone who used some words to report an event? When the photographer modifies his photograph to show us, who were not there, the extent of what he saw and which was not depicted in his photo, is his action reprehensible, blameworthy? Is it legitimate?

Nathalie Hof: As it happens, if a photographer saw an incredible event, and wanted to bring forth that effect by modifying his photograph, doesn’t he highlight more his feelings than the information in itself?

Roger Cozien: It is an illusion, a semiotic heresy, and it does not make sense to think that the information contained in a picture is neutral, not at all. The degree zero of interpretation does not exist. Therefore, there is no degree zero of photography. A photograph is only a point of view.

I am not talking here of photographs that have been staged and/or modified for propaganda purposes, but of those made by a professional photographer with a certain level of experience and ethics. I find it easy to hand out good points and bad points and to play the role of judges when rules are not specific, and when the same people playing the role of judges did not have the necessary reflection on that matter.

Otherwise, one could say the photographer is useless! We may as well use automatic cameras, then! Because, if the photographer is not allowed to do anything, if he has no point of view to express, we could very well send robots, drones and surveillance cameras, and everything will look the same! On the contrary, if we reckon there is a need of a photographer, we have to accept that he expresses his point of view in his photographs. But he shall not lie either.
The software does not see all of this. It analyzes everything there is to say about the photo, and then, we make the decision. But when we use Tungstène, we take into account all these considerations, and we think about what the photographer meant before saying that a photograph is falsified.

Nathalie Hof: The line between what is acceptable and what is not seems to be quite blurred. Renderings realized in post-production, which could be detected on Tungstène, can also be made when the photograph is taken, for example.

Roger Cozien: Imagine a photographer who takes his photo in RAW format. With development software, he balances the whites, the colors, and he enhances a bit the saturation on the image. In short, very simple things. At what point does it become alteration, then?

We have the tendency to say: Those are our criteria that if there was to be a limit, it would be as such: we shift from development to alteration from the moment information is destroyed, as compared to the mathematic information contained in the file at the time of the shot. For example, when there is an electric cable or a board somewhere on the image, which I am not satisfied with and which I then remove. Or when I would have liked this board to be redder and that I make it so.

Take another situation. The photographer develops his photo, re-saves it under a JPEG format, and then sends it to the agency. Depending on its editorial needs, the agency will adjust the balance of the whites, colors and contrasts very lightly, and without modifying the image. But afterwards, the image will be bought by a newspaper, a media, a website. The problem is that the photographer – the sole witness of what he captured – is very rapidly out of the process. The process is very long, and at each step, everybody can intervene without asking the photographer’s opinion. As soon as he sends his file, it does not belong to him anymore. And the last website using his photograph can modify it, without the photographer ever knowing about it.

Nathalie Hof: Are there limits to the use of Tungstène to detect the manipulation of images?

Roger Cozien: Yes, of course. The software is a tool. Like all tools, it has its limits. That is why we are continuously working on it. We are now using the sixth version, but we are preparing the seventh. We are adding new filters as we go along, and we adapt the old ones to the trends in manipulation that we see on the Internet or in the press. A few years ago, it was cloning, for example, which is the fact of duplicating objects. Now, it has almost completely disappeared. Also, our approach to video is not satisfying. As it happens, we just asked for funding at the European level to research manipulations on video.

This interview was first published, in French, by the leading photography online magazine OAI13.

TIME Startups

How the Cloud Is Helping Startups Grow Lightning-Fast

This company is teaching the cloud to see while using it to grow

In business, success is often about seeing the future. For instance, CamFind co-founders Brad Folkens and Dominik Mazur caught a glimpse of it in 2011, when they noticed search engine traffic on desktop computers was declining. Fewer people were using their PCs to look things up because they were running queries on their mobile devices instead.

As Folkens and Mazur looked deeper, they also saw how search habits differed on smartphones and tablets versus desktops. On desktops, people mostly use Google for whatever they’re looking for. But on mobile devices, if people want to find a restaurant, they’ll search with the Yelp app. If they’re looking for a work contact, they’ll use LinkedIn. For news, the New York Times app might be their go-to. And if they wanted to find out what spider just bit them, well, they were in some trouble.

“We found Google Goggles (a search engine that ran queries against photos) only answered queries correctly one in twenty times or at best one in ten times,” says Folkens, the CamFind’s CTO. “We looked at creating an image recognition platform that would output answers 100% of the time, with a varying degree of detail.”

Camfind’s image recognition platform works much differently than the kinds of search engines that came before it. Previously, when a search was run, the computer would show exact results, or nothing at all. But with some of the deep learning going on in cloud connected computing, CamFind can gradually come up with the right answer — in an instant.

For example, let’s return to the spider. Imagine you quickly snap a picture of the bug and use the image to search on CamFind. In the short time it takes to return the search result, the spider query spins out across the web. CamFind’s image recognition platform, a collection of code hosted on rented cloud servers, sends the query across other servers, also hosted in the cloud. The image file passes through a variety of computer vision algorithms: some specialize in two-dimensional images, others utilize deep learning technologies. If the image recognition platform still hasn’t figured out what kind of spider it is by then, the platform will send the picture off to a human in order to determine an answer. That person then enters the result back into the system, helping the platform learn the answer for a future query.

“Essentially what we have is like a brain that constantly learns as people take pictures with the app and as images are fed into our system,” says Folkens.

Most times, CamFind will identify the correct species of spider in the photo. (Spiders are actually one of CamFind’s specialties, probably because they freak people out so much.) “Then you can find out information about it, whether or not it is poisonous, and if should you go to a hospital,” says Folkens. Or, if the app is totally stumped, it will show the user enough results so they can recognize the spider in a related images.

But without cloud computing, CamFind would have arachnophobia just like the rest of us. The company would not only need a bunch of enormous computers in its offices to run these platforms and algorithms, but they’d also have to lease a massive space to house all that equipment. Through the capabilities provided by the cloud, CamFind can lease all the necessary computing power instead. This is a huge cost savings, and it’s at the heart of our current technological boom.

It used to be that when goods or services became popular overnight, they’d be victimized by their own success, unable to reach customers fast or inexpensively enough. They couldn’t get the tools they needed, build products quickly, or deliver their the goods in a timely manner to keep up with demand. But with the cloud, software startups can add (or subtract) computing might at the push of a button.

“The cloud makes that physical layer disappear,” says Folkens. “I can just say, ‘Give me five machines to run our computer vision algorithms over; give me 10 machines; give me a 100 machines all with powerful GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) . . . and we only pay for what we use.”

As a result, within two weeks of reaching a million app downloads in late 2013, CamFind had more than 20 different companies looking to use the company’s technology in their own products. Today, they have more than 700 such customers using CamFind. This cool little app that was teaching the cloud to see has opened everyone’s eyes. The future is looking good, indeed.


6 Crazy Things You Can Sell on eBay

toilet paper roll
Michael Krinke—Getty Images

You'd be surprised how much money you'll make off these everyday items

It seems that nothing is too head-scratchingly weird to be placed up for sale on eBay. But what if I told you that you could earn some extra cash on eBay by selling common household items that most of us toss without a second thought?

This is definitely an example of one person’s trash being another’s treasure. Selling what is typically considered garbage can net you a few hundred dollars a year from eBay and have you rethinking what you throw away. Did you know that you could make money selling:

1. Old Computer Software

If you have software for computers you replaced years ago, you may be able to sell them for extra cash on eBay. That’s exactly what I did when I discovered a bunch of old software in my junk storage drawer. Think no one is interested in your 2003 Microsoft Word software? Think again. That’ll sell for $15 to $30 on eBay. And that’s just one example. The amount of software out there is vast, so it’s impossible to provide a lot of specifics for what will sell. However, it doesn’t take long to check. Seriously, it’s a potential gold mine. Pull out those old disks and check away.

2. Magazines

After being convinced that I needed to part with some of my beloved magazines, I jokingly implored my husband to check on eBay to see if anyone would buy them. I was surprised to find out that I could make money selling my old issues, and I started cleaning house!

Which magazines sell? The specific magazines and the prices they will sell for vary. For instance, one back issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray sold for $5, while a group of 11 magazines from 2008 to 2011 sold for $19.99. We’re not talking rare or vintage stuff here, just regular issues that people are selling after reading them. Spend a few minutes on eBay looking up your magazines and you could be ready to sell and make some money too!

3. Empty Makeup Containers

Specifically, the empty makeup containers of a specific high end brand, M.A.C., are in high demand. They are popular because of the retailer’s “Back to M.A.C.” rewards program where customers can exchange six empty M.A.C. makeup containers for a free lipstick. At $16 a pop, people are looking for ways to get their pricey lipstick for less. Empty M.A.C. containers sell anywhere from $5 to $40 depending on the number for sale and the cost of shipping. If you use this brand, it’s an opportunity to score some extra cash. If you’re looking for a way to get your M.A.C. for less, well, here it is.

So there you have it, six examples of common household trash items that can be sold on eBay for a few hundred dollars per year. I’ll be looking for others because I’m sure there are more. That’s my type of recycling.

4. Coupons

How would you like to make $5 to $10 for selling one coupon? Sounds crazy, right? But there’s a market for these recyclable bits. Some coupons seem to sell at a premium. For instance, a 15% coupon from Pottery Barn, or other high end stores, regularly sells for $9.99, and a $25 coupon sells for $14.99. Coupons for many other retailers like Macy’s, Target, Home Depot, and more sell well too. The beauty of this is all you have to do is wait for them to show up in the mail and sell what you’re not using. Doing this once a month could probably net you an additional $50–$75 a year.

5. Empty Egg Cartons

To think I felt good about myself because I made a point of placing my empty egg cartons in the correct recycling bin for trash pickup. Who knew I could give them new life and bring people joy (and earn some extra cash) by selling them on eBay?

Like the cardboard tubes above, egg cartons seem to be wanted by the arts and crafts crowd. It’s not uncommon for a stack of empty egg cartons to sell for $10 to $20, and it doesn’t seem to matter if they are cardboard or foam. They are easily stackable and won’t take up much space while you collect enough to sell. By saving my cartons (and taking my parents’ empties), I should be able to sell a few stacks a year.

6. Paper Towel and Toilet Tissue Cardboard Tubes

I know, right? Who would have thought that people would pay money for the cardboard tubes of spent tissue? The people who are selling them on eBay and making money, that’s who! It seems that these recyclable goodies are popular for arts and crafts projects.

To cash in you’ll need to stock up before you sell, saving at least 35 empty tubes. So grab a bag, toss in those tubes, and let them add up. Depending on the size of your family and how quickly you go through rolls will determine how often you can sell on eBay. It’s not uncommon for empty cardboard tubes to sell for $10, $20 or $30. That’s pretty good for something that is literally tossed in the recycling bin.

More From Wise Bread:

TIME Microsoft

Here’s Why Microsoft Is Suddenly Killing It Now

Key Speakers At The Microsoft Build Developer 2015 Conference
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

CEO Satya Nadella has changed the software giant's modus operandi. And investors are loving what they see

Remember Borg Microsoft, the bullying juggernaut that ruled the software industry with an iron fist? The Microsoft of 2015 has strayed so far from that original incarnation it might as well be called bizarro Microsoft.

Gone are the days when Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer mocked Linux or called it a cancer. Or when Ballmer laughed at the iPhone. Or when Ballmer dismissed Android was too hard to use. (A billion Android phones shipped last year.) The new Microsoft has shed its arrogance. These days, it works hard to play well with others.

And the new, more open approach is working. Microsoft’s stock is up 53% in the past two years after a very long season of stagnation. While the stock stumbled earlier this year, it’s up 14% since the company reported earnings on April 23, largely because of growth in its cloud business, such as its Azure computing platform.

Investors, flush from a strong year in tech stocks in 2014, are looking ahead to the end of 2015 and 2016. In some cases, they’re not liking what they see, but Microsoft is persuading more and more shareholders it’s ready to deliver on the cloud-first, mobile-first world that its CEO Satya Nadella has been touting. Unlike Netflix, Spotify or other companies that are thriving on cloud-based services for consumers, Microsoft has focused its cloud efforts in the enterprise market. Nadella said last week Microsoft’s enterprise cloud revenue, including hardware and software, would reach $20 billion a year within three years from about $6 billion now, an audacious goal but one that brought few snickers of disbelief.

MORE Meet the Inventor Behind Tech’s Weirdest New Product

Of course, much of this will come as its clients migrate from legacy products (like Microsoft Office) to cloud-based offerings (like Office 365), so there’s some cannibalization involved. And the shift is a project that Microsoft has been working on for years, thanks to moves made by Ballmer. Ballmer, it seems, was better at building an enterprise business than effectively bashing rivals in consumer tech.

Under Nadella, Microsoft is emerging as one of a handful of big names poised to thrive in the cloud economy alongside Amazon, IBM, and Google. But last week, as the company held its Build developer conference to announce details of Windows 10, Nadella made a pitch for Windows to become a platform where developers from other platforms–iOs, Android, Linux–would not only be welcome, but actively courted.

Windows 10 is designed to build “universal apps,” meaning a single app working on phones, tablets, PCs, consoles like Xbox and even one day a augmented-reality platform like HoloLens. App purchases can easily be billed directly through carriers, simplifying payments to developers. Microsoft also introduced Visual Studio, a free, cross-platform code editor that can write apps for Windows, OS X and Linux.

But the bigger surprise–and, depending on how developers respond, the potential game changer for Windows–is that Microsoft announced Islandwood and Astoria, two middleware projects that allow developers to easily port their existing apps into the Windows platform. Islandwood will let iOS apps work on Windows with a minimum of changes, while Astoria will do the same for Android apps.

In recent years, Microsoft has talked more and more about opening up its software ecosystem to developers working in other platforms, but much of the rhetoric has sounded like lip service. Visual Studio, Islandwood and Astoria moves show that Microsoft is dead serious about doing just that, retooling its offerings to actively reach out to the iOS and Android communities.

MORE Why Microsoft Thinks Your Phone Could Be Your Only Computer

The idea is to make it simple for iOS and Android developers to port their existing apps into Windows. In the mobile world, more apps can mean more users, which in turn gives developers more incentive to work with a particular platform. But the plan comes with risks, such as the possibility that some iOS/Android apps translate into inferior or buggy versions on Windows Mobile. Or that developers may be too busy or indifferent to try.

Microsoft is also doing what it can to upgrade users of Windows 8. Windows 10 will be free for the first year, which could interrupt the way Windows sales are recorded as revenue but has a much bigger draw: consumers and businesses will be more likely to upgrade quickly, giving Windows 10 developers a larger audience early on.

All of this is aimed at making Microsoft a single, unifying platform for developers. In that way, it’s not unlike the original goal Microsoft set out for itself. What’s fundamentally different is how Microsoft aims to reach that goal: not through brute-force coercion, but through creating an open and inviting platform that plays well with others.

In some ways, the open, cross-platform world of software today evolved in direct opposition to Microsoft’s arrogant dominance in the 80s and 90s. Now it must adapt. Nadella’s plan isn’t likely to make Windows dominant in the mobile world right away, but in time it could give it a more equal footing in mobile OS alongside iOS and Android. And that could keep Microsoft’s revenue growing for years.

Read next: Microsoft’s Crazy New Tech Totally Explains Why It Bought Minecraft

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Software

See How Presidents Age in the White House, According to Microsoft

Perhaps no job can add gray hairs and wrinkles like serving as President of the United States. While Presidents do live longer than their fellow citizens (“Even in the 19th century, when the average man died at age 47, U.S. Presidents lived an average of 69 years,” according to Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy), their looks show the weight of the office famously quickly. But how fast? By using Microsoft’s new age-guessing tool how-old.net, released Thursday, we might be able to get an idea. While Barack Obama’s only been in office six years, judging by a photograph from 2009 and 2015, the wizards at Microsoft claim Obama’s looks have aged 13 years. George W. Bush, according to these two images, added nine years to his face during his eight years working in the Oval Office. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush worked in the White House for four years–and his face grew four years older too. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both served for 8 years. Clinton’s features clocked 15 years while Reagan added a mere 2 years onto his looks during the same stretch.



TIME Software

It Might Finally Be Time to Say Goodbye to Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The logo of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer 9 is displayed on a computer monitor in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 15, 2011.

Microsoft has unveiled 'Spartan,' a new browser for Windows 10

You’ve had a good 20-year run, Internet Explorer. But your days are probably numbered.

News of your potential demise started as whispers late last year when reports emerged that Microsoft was working on a wholly new Internet browser. They gained momentum about a week later with a leak detailing some of this mystery browser’s features. And they finally solidified Wednesday when Microsoft made it all official, unveiling for the first time “Spartan,” which could become one of the company’s only browsers not called “Internet Explorer” in two decades.

Microsoft hasn’t started digging your grave just yet. For now, you’ll have to share hard drive space with your lean, more stylish cousin once Windows 10 arrives sometime this year. And there’s always the chance your makers might give Spartan an IE designation before that.

But that seems unlikely. The whole point here is that you’re boring, washed up, old news.

Sure, you’ve still got nearly 60% of the global market share for browsers. But that’s peanuts compared to the world-dominating numbers you put up before Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox started nipping at your heels. And because Windows Phone has flatlined, you’ve barely made a blip on mobile, where most people are using the web these days.

But the biggest problem you face, Internet Explorer, is that you carry 20 years of brand baggage—and it’s not good. You’ve developed a reputation, however unfair, as slow and unwieldy. We’re long past the point where a makeover and a bigger number alongside your name can turn you into the prettiest browser at the ball. If you weren’t packaged along with Windows—long your biggest and most controversial advantage—there’s no telling how far your figures might fall.

Microsoft needs something fresh, something new. It needs Spartan.

Besides marking a fresh start, what does Spartan do that you don’t? It’s leaner, faster, designed with mobile in mind. Close integration with Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-activated assistant, means it will bring users relevant information like flight delays without even having to visit an airline’s website. Spartan’s note-taking mode turns the web into a canvas, letting users scribble notes on live websites and send off them to colleagues or friends. Spartan could even be made available for non-Windows platforms like Android and iOS, helping it gain market share on mobile, which is clearly the future.

How much longer you’ll be around, IE, depends on Spartan’s success. Perhaps your new rival won’t be as good as Chrome or Firefox, and Microsoft will shy away from it. Maybe having two baked-in browser options will confuse Windows 10 users, and they’ll stick with you out of habit. Or maybe Microsoft will call Spartan “Internet Explorer 12″ after all. But if Microsoft does decide to pull the plug on you, IE, despair not: 20 long years of service qualifies you for a dignified retirement.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com