Tag: microsoft

Blockchain gains as software giants form alliance

PMorgan Chase, Microsoft,  Intel and more than two dozen other companies have teamed up to develop standards and technology to make it easier for enterprises to use blockchain code Ethereum.

The move is seen as the latest push by large firms to move toward distributed ledger systems and a considerable move forward for the bitcoin based tech.

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) will work to enhance the privacy, security and scalability of the Ethereum blockchain, making it better suited to business applications, according to the founding companies.

Members of the 30-strong group also include Accenture, Banco Santander, Credit Suisse Group  and shedloads of other bankers and financial groups. The EEA joins a growing list of joint initiatives by large companies aiming to take advantage of blockchain, a shared digital record of transactions that is maintained by a network of computers rather than a centralised authority.

Companies in a wide range of industries are hoping that it can help them streamline some of their processes, such as the clearing and settling of financial securities.

Ethereum, a type of blockchain that can be used to develop decentralised applications, was invented by 23-year-old programer Vitalik Buterin. Several banks have already adapted Ethereum to develop and test blockchain trading applications.

Alex Batlin, global blockchain lead at BNY Mellon, one of the companies on the EEA board, said over the past few years banks and other enterprises have increased collaboration with the Ethereum development community, facilitating the creation of the EEA.

SThe EEA will collaborate with the non-profit foundation that promotes the development of Ethereum, the companies said.

Bill Gates is a master of disguise

Gates disguised as someone from before WW1 when everyone was black and white (Gates is on the right)

Software king of the world, and sworn enemy of the mosquito Sir William Gates III is a master of disguise and moves among his subjects invisibly.

In response to a question during his annual Reddit ask me anything session, Microsoft magnet  Gates says that it doesn’t take too much for him to blend in with the crowd.

“I sometimes wear a hat. For example when I did college tours with my son I wanted the focus to be totally on him. A lot less people recognise me when I have a hat on or else they realise I am trying to be incognito.”

He did not reveal the secret hat he uses and we suspect he can be found under a baseball cap.

The hat disguise is not exactly foolproof. But that’s okay, writes Gates: “Mostly when people do recognise me they are super nice so I don’t feel it is a burden to be noticed most of the time.”

Gates isn’t the only tech celebrity with a penchant for using hats as a disguise. Steve Jobs used to think he could disguise himself from the great unwashed by wearing a top hat. Of course, a top hat is going to attract attention but people saw it and assumed he was just a mad man and looked the other way.

Windows security cure is sorting out Admin rights


More than 94
percent of Windows vulnerabilities are mitigated by removing admin rights, according to a team of insecurity experts.

Avecto, which has issued its annual Microsoft Vulnerabilities report and found that there were 530 Microsoft vulnerabilities reported in 2016, and of these critical vulnerabilities,

All vulnerabilities impacting both Internet Explorer and Edge could be mitigated by removing admin rights, Avecto reported.

Mark Austin, co-founder and CEO of Avecto, said that privilege management and application control should be the cornerstone of your endpoint security strategy, building up from there to create ever stronger, multiple layers of defense.

“These measures can have a dramatic impact on your ability to mitigate today’s attacks. Times have changed; removing admin rights and controlling applications is no longer difficult to achieve,” he said.

Windows 10 was found to have the highest proportion of vulnerabilities of any OS (395), 46 per cent more than Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 (265 each).

Microsoft Office had 79 vulnerabilities in 2016, up from 62 in 2015 and just 20 in 2014. This data includes Office 2010, Office 2013, Office 2016 and the various applications. Removing admin rights would mitigate 99 per cent of the vulnerabilities in older versions and all of those vulnerabilities would be mitigated in Office 2016.

Avecto said this method of turning off admin privileges works alongside tools such as antivirus to proactively prevent malware from executing in the first place, rather than relying on detection and response after the event.

Silicon Valley lost to the carmakers

While the press is still full of stories about self-driving cars, it is starting to look like Silicon Valley has failed to get behind the driving seat.

If you believed the tech press Apple, Google, and Uber were going to totally change the way cars were made and effectively take over.

But all that started to grind to a halt as Silicon Valley realised it was out of its depth. Last year Apple laid off most of the engineers it hired to design its own car. Google stopped talking about making its own car. And Uber, despite its sky-high market valuation, is still a long, long way from making its own autonomous cars.

The issue is that people outside of the auto industry doing realise what a can of worms making cars is.  Apple for example thought all it had to do was design a car and start making it.

But Tesla, which is the only successful automotive company to come out of Silicon Valley so far, has made only 80,000 cars last year and it’s been in business for nearly 15 years

Basically the tech industry, particularly Apple  thought it would monopolize the technology, then dictate terms to the traditional Original Equipment Manufacturers. But Ford, GM, Audi, Mercedes, Nissan and others launched in-house autonomous programmes. They also bought Silicon Valley companies to bolster their efforts, not the other way around.

Silicon Valley also runs on a different model. They expect a 40 per cent profit margin or they cannot be bothered getting out of bed. Car makers would only give them ten per cent if they were lucky.

According to AutoBlog where Silicon Valley is re-aligning, itself is into the field car-based data. Unlike automotive manufacturing, Big Data analytics driven by Artificial Intelligence does not require large capital investments in factories and equipment. That translates into 90 per cent profit margins.

 

 

 

 

Gemalto teams up with Microsoft


Security outfit Gemalto i
s teaming up with Microsoft to release of its On Demand Connectivity and eSIM technology for Windows 10 devices.

Gemalto’s works with the release GSM Association (GSMA) new specifications and guidelines for remote SIM provisioning.

Based around a subscription system, Gemalto’s On-Demand Connectivity works with Windows 10 native eSIM support. It is designed to be remotely provisioned by mobile network operators with subscription information and is globally interoperable across all carriers, device makers and technology providers implementing the specification.

This technology will serve as the framework devices of all shapes and sizes use to connect to operator networks. The first wave of devices with this technology is expected to be available to consumers by Christmas.

Roanne Sones, General Manager, Strategy and Ecosystem for Windows and Devices, Microsoft said that eSIM technology remains an important investment for Microsoft as it looks to create even more mobile computing opportunities

“As a key component for the Always Connected Windows experience, we worked closely with Gemalto to develop a solution that meets the new GSMA guidelines.”

Rodrigo Serna, Senior Vice President of Mobile Services and IoT Americas at Gemalto said that Gemalto has created a complete range of subscription management software and services to manage the eSIM life cycle in mobile devices.

“We will continue to work closely with Microsoft and the GSMA to further these advances while protecting the security of end users, who rely on their mobile devices to make everyday life easier.”

Microsoft does car deal with Tata

It appears that while tech companies are trying to make alliances with car companies, Microsoft has spied an opportunity in India.

Vole India has signed a deal with Tata Motors for a strategic collaboration on the technology front to make driving a more personalised experiences for customers.

The first car showcasing the vision of the enhanced driving experiences will be unveiled at the Geneva International Motor show on March 7, it said.

“Using IoT (internet of things), AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning technologies, we will provide vehicle owners in India and across the world a safe, productive and fun driving experience,” Anant Maheshwari, President at Microsoft India, said.

Tata Motors CEO Guenter Butschek said at a press conference that he saw the tie-up creating new revenue opportunities for the company as car buyers increasingly look for value-added services.

If Microsoft’s deal works with Tata, then it will be putting its products under the bonnet of an outfit which has a sales track to millions of Indian car drivers.

Digital “Geneva Convention” is Smith’s dream

Software king of the world Microsoft has called for a digital Geneva Convention which would see tech companies remaining neutral if any country goes to war in cyberspace.

Microsoft president Brad Smith is alarmed at the rising tide of nationalism and said tech companies must declare themselves neutral when nations go up against nations in cyberspace.

Talking to the RSA computer security conference, Smith said cyberspace is the new battlefield and Tech must be committed to “100% defence and zero percent offense.”

Smith called for a “digital Geneva Convention,” like the one created in the aftermath of World War II which set ground rules for how conduct during wartime, defining basic rights for civilians caught up armed conflicts.

The speech was echoed in a blog post on Microsoft’s site that went up yesterday.

The world’s governments need to pledge that “they will not engage in cyberattacks that target civilian infrastructure, whether it’s the electric grid or the political system,” Smith said.

The  digital Geneva Convention would establish protocols, norms and international processes for how tech companies would deal with cyber aggression and attacks of nations aimed at civilian targets, which appears to effectively mean anything but military servers.

Smith listed a string of increasingly threatening cross-border cyber incidents, beginning with the North Korean attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 to thefts of intellectual property by China in 2015, ending with last year’s Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election.

“We suddenly find ourselves living in a world where nothing seems off limits to nation-state attacks,” Smith said.

Technology companies, not armies, are the first responders when cyber-attacks occur, he noted. But they cannot and must not, respond in kind, or aid governments in going on the offensive, Smith said.

Smith wants an autonomous organisation, something like the International Atomic Energy Agency that polices nuclear non-proliferation.

“Even in a world of growing nationalism, when it comes to cybersecurity the global tech sector needs to operate as a neutral Digital Switzerland,” Smith said.

“We will not aid in attacking customers anywhere. We need to retain the world’s trust.”

This would mean that tech companies should refuse to aid governments, even the government of the country they are based in, in attacking other nations. That could mean not building backdoors into programs sold in other countries and not taking part in work to create cyberweapons.

Microsoft does not have to share foreign email but Google does

POSTMANPATA US judge has decided that while Microsoft does not have to share email stored on its foreign servers with police and spies, Google will still have to.

A US judge has ordered Google to comply with search warrants seeking customer emails stored outside the United States.

US Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter ruled that transferring emails from a foreign server so FBI agents could review them locally as part of a domestic fraud probe did not qualify as a seizure.

The judge said this was because there was “no meaningful interference” with the account holder’s “possessory interest” in the data sought.

“Though the retrieval of the electronic data by Google from its multiple data centres abroad has the potential for an invasion of privacy, the actual infringement of privacy occurs at the time of disclosure in the United States,” Rueter wrote.

Google said that the magistrate had departed from precedent, and it will appeal the decision.

The ruling came less than seven months after the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said Microsoft Vole could not be forced to turn over emails stored on a server in Dublin, Ireland that U.S. investigators sought in a narcotics case.

The case was watched closely by the EU which was spoiling for a reason to shut the US out of the European cloud business.

 

Microsoft’s cunning anti-Apple plan is working

microsoft-surface-3-02Software King of the World Microsoft claims that its cunning plan to remove Apple’s from the high-end computer market, is working.

Microsoft CFO Amy Hood said that Microsoft’s business of licensing Windows out to PC manufacturers was up five percent last quarter,  accounting for both business and consumer PCs.

The outfit’s business of licensing Windows for the “non-pro” (as in, consumer) market had its own five percent growth last quarter, beating the overall shrinkage of the PC industry, “as our partner ecosystem continued to see growth and share gains in the Windows premium device category”.

These “premium devices” are computers in the $900-plus price range which in the consumer market are those with more money than sense – Apple’s turf.

Microsoft’s PC partners spent the last several years focusing on low- to medium-priced computers and let Apple have that ground. After all it was not really worth the effort.

Microsoft changed all that with the Surface Book laptop in 2015, the company explicitly declared that those days were over, pitching it as a more powerful and versatile alternative to Apple’s flagship MacBook Pro.

There was also a market for laptop/tablet hybrids like the Surface Pro 4. Meanwhile there had been a slow rise of virtual reality headsets like Facebook’s Oculus Rift – which requires a powerful gaming PC for the best results.

And what was the fruity tax-dodging cargo cult doing while Microsoft was staging its come-back? Well nothing really. In fact, it did not upgrade its hardware for four years.

When it did it stripped a lot of the functionality out of the MacPro making it useless for professionals.

Now Volehas  introduced the Surface Studio PC, a unique blend of tablet and desktop computer, competing with the Apple iMac. It is not cheap at $2,999, it’s reported to be selling better than even Microsoft’s most optimistic projections.

Microsoft waking from its Ballmer inspired snooze

alainhippoSoftware King of the World, Microsoft has emerged from its 17-year snooze where it has been doing well but not as good as it should have been.

Vole has announced that its market capitalisation topped $500 billion for the first time since 2000 after the technology giant’s stock rose following another quarter of results that beat Wall Street’s expectations.

Shares of the world’s biggest software company rose as much as 2.1 percent to $65.64, an all-time high, in early trading, valuing the company at $510.37 billion.

The last time Microsoft was worth that was in March 2000, during the dotcom bubble when it had a market value of a little above $550 billion.

The Tame Apple Press has been reassuring everyone that Microsoft is still not as valuable as  its favourite company. Apple’s market capitalisation is $642 billion and Google’s is more than $570 billion.

Vole’s second quarter results last Thursday beat analysts’ average estimate for both revenue and profit, mainly due to its fast-growing cloud computing business.

The company’s profit and revenue have now topped Wall Street’s expectations in seven of the last eight quarters.

Chief Executive Satya Nadella has been trying to spruce up Microsoft since taking over the snoozing giant nearly three years ago, from the shy and retiring Steve Ballmer. He appears to have built more credibility around the company’s efforts in areas such as cloud-based services.

When he started work in February 2014, you could pick up a share in Vole for $34 and the company value was $315 billion.

At least 11 brokerages raised their price targets on the stock, boosting the median price target to $68.50 from $68.