Tag: microsoft

Microsoft might close datacentres post Brexit


Get-Britain-OutSoftware King of the World Microsoft might mothball its UK datacentre plans after  Blighty decided to pull out of the EU.

Microsoft had wanted to set up its datacentres in the UK so that European data did not have to cross the pond to the US.  This was because the EU was a little worried about US spooks spying in European citizens and wanted all data to stay here.

However, with the UK outside the EU too, the Microsoft set up its databases in the UK is completely pointless.

Microsoft’s UK Government Affairs Manager Owen Larter spoke in the What Brexit Means for Tech webinar expressing that the Redmond giant is committed to their branches in the UK. At least, for now.

But it is getting more worried that if Britain leaves the European single market is that import tariffs will rise and if the tariffs were to become an issue, Microsoft might pull their future plans for Britain’s two datacentres.

“We’re really keen to avoid import tariffs on any hardware. Going back to the datacenter example, we’re looking to build out our datacentres at a pretty strong lick in the UK, because the market is doing very well… So if the UK puts tariffs on Chinese server racks or eastern Europe, where a lot of them are actually assembled, that might change our investment decisions and perhaps we build out our datacentres across other European countries.”

If Vole cannot build in Britain, then they will build surrounding it.

Ironically one upside to the Brexit for Microsoft is the ability to bring in foreign employees into the UK for work.

“We’ve really struggled internally at Microsoft sometimes to bring people over from the US, from China, from India. Even just on a month or by week basis, because the restrictions on immigration from outside the EU have been so severe, because we [the UK] couldn’t control immigration from inside the EU and we were conscious about the numbers.”

We say ironic because many people thought they were voting Brexit to keep foreign workers out of the UK. This means Vole is confident they can bring many more in.


Windows 7 is a chocolate teapot, Microsoft warns

Nestle-chocolate-teapot-1Software giant Microsoft has warned the world that its Windows 7 software is the chocolate teapot of software and is advising people to upgrade to Windows 10.

Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 back in January 2015 and stopped OEMs from selling PCs with Windows 7 and 8.1 near the end of 2016.

A spokesVole said that Windows 7 will approach its end of extended support in less than three years, and warned enterprise customers and other users to upgrade to Windows 10.

While January 14, 2020 might seem a long way away it does take organisations rather a long time to do a roll out. But Vole warned that Windows 7 really was not an option anymore and not fit for the purpose for most corporates.

In a new blog post, the company says that continued usage of Windows 7 increases maintenance and operating costs for businesses. Similarly, time is needlessly wasted on combating malware attacks that could have been avoided by upgrading to Windows 10. Microsoft also says that many hardware manufacturers do not provide drivers for Windows 7 any longer, and many developers and companies refrain from releasing programs on the outdated operating system.

Markus Nitschke, Head of Windows at Microsoft Germany said that the Operating system did not meet the requirements of modern technology, nor the high security requirements of IT departments.

Companies should take early steps to avoid future risks or costs, he said.

Microsoft further pointed out that its obsolete operating system is based on “long-outdated security architectures”. It also cautioned that companies and businesses who still use it are more susceptible to cyber-attacks.

Microsoft staff sue over being force to watch smut

687474703a2f2f696d61676573352e66616e706f702e636f6d2f696d6167652f70686f746f732f32393530303030302f41726961476966732d617269612d6d6f6e74676f6d6572792d32393536333539302d3530302d3238302e676966While companies fire their staff for watching porn, Microsoft is being sued by some of its staff for making them watch it.

Former employees who worked for Microsoft’s Online Safety Team have sued their employer for not offering a good health plan while at the same time requiring them to watch the most horrendous porn and snuff films the Internet could throw at them.

Former employees Henry Soto and Greg Blauert allege in a lawsuit filed on 30 December that they were hired to screen Microsoft users’ communications for child pornography and evidence of other crimes. While that was not a problem, they claim that after years of being made to watch the “most twisted” videos on the internet, employees said they suffered severe psychological distress.

They asked Vole to stump up for a shrink or to pay for therapy so that they could cope, but Microsoft told them to have a smoking break instead. After all that is a bit cheaper.

Now the two former employees and their families are suing for damages from what they describe as permanent psychological injuries, for which they were denied worker’s compensation.

Microsoft is a little cross about the court case. “We have put in place robust wellness programs to ensure the employees who handle this material have the resources and support they need,” a spokesVole said.

However, the former employees allege neglect at Microsoft’s hands. Soto even says that he didn’t want to join the department in the first place.

He was already a Microsoft employee and was “involuntarily transferred” to the Online Safety Team in 2008. Soto “was not informed prior to the transfer as to the full nature” of his work, and was allegedly told that he would be reviewing “terms of use” violations.
Volish employee policy dictated that he and all other Online Safety Team members remain in their new posts for at least 18 months before getting a transfer.

Qualcomm details Snapdragon 835 processor

game-of-thrones-daenerys-dragonQualcomm has detailed its new Snapdragon 835 processor, which will power most of the leading Android smartphones this year.

Qualcomm SVP Keith Kressin said that the 835 was powerful enough to give AR and VR markets a kick up the bottom and could cause some serious problems for Chipzilla.

It has a Kryo 280 CPU under the bonnet but Qualcomm really is not talking much about that as it is the rest of the gubbins on the chip.

Qualcomm claims it is the first 10nm mobile processor, which will improve efficiency, and also by saying the CPU is “tightly integrated” with other components using the new Symphony system manager, which operates automatically yet can be customized by application developers.

This distributes work across the CPU, GPU, DSP, and more exotic components, letting the Snapdragon 835 work better than it would with CPU alone.

What will put the fear of Jehovah into Intel is that this is the first Qualcomm chip which can run Windows 10 on a mobile phone.

The Snapdragon 835 consumes 25 percent less power than the 820, according to Qualcomm. That means seven hours of 4K streaming video and two hours of VR gaming on a typical device, the company said.

Qualcomm can only do so much on power efficiency, it’s also introducing Quick Charge 4, which supposedly charges a phone to five hours of use in five minutes and is USB-C power delivery compliant.

The new Adreno 540 graphics chip improves 3D performance by 25 percent over the previous generation, Qualcomm said. But it enables features like HDR10, which improves colours; foveated rendering, which most clearly renders what you’re looking at rather than elements in the periphery of a scene; and low latency, which allows you to move your head smoothly around VR scenes. With one 32MP or two 16MP cameras running at the same time, the Snapdragon 835 supports various dual-camera functions.

The Snapdragon 835 will feature the X16 modem, which Qualcomm announced earlier this year and will be able to boost LTE to gigabit speeds. It has triple 20MHz carrier aggregation with 256-QAM encoding and 4×4 MIMO antennas.

We are predicting a rather good year for Qualcomm, when Vole gets its new Surface phones out later in the year.  This phones will be basically portable Windows 10 PCs and play nice with corporate networks.

Lumia has gone the way of the Dodo

dodoIt is starting to look like the end is near for Microsoft’s Lumia handsets and it is about to go the way of the dodo.

Microsoft’s UK store ran out of stock of all its Windows 10 Mobile devices and now its US store sold all its unlocked models. It would appear that Microsoft Store is no longer selling any of the company’s Windows Phone 8.1 or Windows 10 Mobile handsets in the US.

The writing has been on the wall for a while now. Microsoft launched the Lumia 650 and it was widely said to be the last in the company’s Lumia line. In August, Microsoft removed all mention of Windows handsets from its US store homepage, relegating ‘Windows phone’ to a dropdown menu instead.

In the US the AT&T-locked Lumia 950 was the only one left and it was available only in white. Now, that model has sold out too, leaving none of the company’s Lumia handsets available to buy on its store.

The Windows phones page on the Microsoft Store lists thirteen products, but eight of these are “out of stock.”

  • Acer Liquid Jade Primo Bundle
  • AT&T – Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
  • AT&T – Microsoft Lumia 950
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
  • Microsoft Lumia 650 Dual SIM
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
  • Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
  • Verizon – Microsoft Lumia 735

There are still a few available:

  • Acer Liquid M330 – $79.99 (usually $99)
  • BLU Win HD LTE $149
  • BLU Win JR LTE $99
  • HP Elite x3 Bundle $799
  • HP Elite x3 + Lap Dock Bundle $1,298

You can continue to buy Lumia handsets from other retailers but word on the street is that these options are becoming increasingly limited. Best Buy has run out completely.

Vole is supposed to be dusting off its’Surface phone’ – which may provide a full Windows 10 OS, and support for 32-bit x86 desktop apps. We will not see its like until the end of the year at the earliest.


Microsoft scores huge DoD contract

Bolling_DC_30s_nw_biplanesSoftware King of the World, Microsoft has just won a huge $927 million deal to provide technical support to US Department of Defense (DoD) in the United States.

This is on top of a deal with the DoD to upgrade four million of its staff to Windows 10, so Vole is laughing all the way to the bank this year.

The new contract is to provide technical support to the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Pentagon.

This is quite a huge deal for Microsoft, especially since this deal may lead to the DoD upgrading more machines to Windows 10 soon. It also explains how Vole makes so much cash even when it gave its Windows 10 software for free.

Both the DoD and Microsoft have kept quiet about what the deal involves, probably because they don’t want the Russians to game it in the same way that they did the US elections.

Trump and Silicon Valley try to bury the hatchet

Donald-Trump-funnyDonald “Prince of Orange” Trump met with Silicon Valley’s top executives attempted to bury the hatchet and to smoke a peace pipe.

The meeting, in Trump Towers, focused chiefly on economic problems, including job creation, lowering taxes and trade dynamics with China, while largely avoiding the many disagreements the tech industry has with Trump on matters ranging from immigration to digital privacy.

For some reason, three of Trump’s kids sat in on the meeting. We guess it is because they know a little more than their dad about tech. Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, sat at the head of a large rectangular table as the meeting began in a conference room on the 25th floor of Trump Tower.

Of course there is a small problem of conflict of interest because Trump’s kids are going to be running his business while he is being president.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence was also there as was  Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’sSheryl Sandberg and Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk, Alphabet Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, and IBM’s Ginni Rometty. Missing was Twitter, which Trump claimed was too small to be at the table and it had nothing to do with the personal spat that Trump was having with Twitter.

Cook and Musk joined Trump for separate meetings after the other technology executives leave, according to a spokesman for Trump’s transition team.

Bezos said in a statement the meeting was “very productive” and that he “shared the view that the administration should make innovation one of its key pillars, which would create a huge number of jobs across the whole country, in all sectors, not just tech – agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing -everywhere.”

Silicon Valley got on well with  President Barack Obama and heavily supported Democrat Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign.

Trump bashed the industry during the election campaign. He urged his supporters to boycott Apple products over the company’s refusal to help the FBI unlock an iPhone associated with last year’s San Bernardino, California, shootings, threatened antitrust action against Amazon and demanded that tech companies build their products in the United States.

Trump has also been an opponent of the Obama administration’s “net neutrality” rules barring internet service providers from obstructing or slowing consumer access to web content. Two advisers to his Federal Communications Commission transition team are opponents of the rules, as are the two Republicans on the FCC.


Skype and Facebook face tough data rules in EU

EU and country flags - Wikimedia CommonsMessaging services such as Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s WhatsApp will face stricter rules on the way they handle customer data.

New privacy laws due are to be proposed by the European Union, which could give messaging services a few headaches.

The EU wants to extend some rules that now only apply to telecom operators to web companies offering calls and messages using the internet, known as “Over-The-Top” (OTT) services, according to the draft.

Under the move, messaging services must guarantee the confidentiality of communications and obtain users’ consent to process their location data, mirroring similar provisions included in a separate data protection law due which will operate in 2018.

Advertisers will also face strict rules on how they can target ads at web users based on their browsing history.

It will solve a few fairness problems in the online world. Telecoms companies have long complained that groups such as Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft and Facebook are more lightly regulated, even though they offer similar services.

The phone companies want European Union rules specific to telecoms firms to either be repealed or extended to everyone. Obviously they want them repealed but if they can’t have that knowing that Google and Microsoft are suffering in the same way will make them feel better.

Lise Fuhr, director general of ETNO, the European telecoms operators association said that if Europe wants a Silicon Valley, it needs radical regulatory simplification. We won’t get new digital services unless we overhaul e-Privacy.

The draft proposals would prohibit the automatic processing of people’s data without their consent. Advertisers say such automatic processing is low risk as it involves data that can not identify the user.

Fines for breaking the new law will be steep at up to four percent of a company’s global turnover.

A Commission spokeswoman said the aim of the review was to adapt the rules to the data protection regulation which will come into force in 2018 and simplify the provisions for cookies.

Cookies are placed on web surfers’ computers and contain bits of information about the user, such as what other sites they have visited or where they are logging in from. They are widely used by companies to deliver targeted ads to users.

It would also remove the obligation on websites to ask visitors for permission to place cookies on their browsers via a banner if the user has already consented through the privacy settings of the web browser.

Microsoft claims it is picking up Apple defections

Microsoft-Surface-Pro-42Software king of the world Microsoft claims that it is picking up defections from the fruity Apple cult as users are miffed that the MacBook Pro was not up to snuff.

Apple’s new Macbook Pro was released without key functions and with an out-of-date chip, effectively turning it into a chocolate teapot for developers.

Vole has been targeting Mac users with its Surface commercials recently, and it appears they might be paying off. The software giant claims that November was the “best month ever for consumer Surface sales,” following several Black Friday deals on the Surface Pro 4. Vole isn’t providing sales numbers, but the company claims “more people are switching from Macs to Surface than ever before”.

Microsoft cites “the disappointment of the new MacBook Pro” and its trade-in program for MacBooks for tempting people to switch to Surface. Again, Microsoft refuses to provide numbers but vaguely claims “our trade-in programme for MacBooks was our best”.

Microsoft is also expanding on the availability of the new Surface Book with Performance Base. The most powerful Surface Book is now available in Australia and New Zealand, and will arrive in Austria, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland, and the UK early next quarter.

Microsoft loses security Edge

Edge_confirms_new_U2_album_is_on_the_way_Songs_Of_Experience_Brian_Eno_music_scen_irelandMicrosoft’s Edge browser comes with a feature which could be used by technical support scammers.

The Edge browser’s ability to warn users of dodgy sites, or other security alerts can be abused to display native and legitimate-looking warning messages. This is a gift for tech support scammers who could use it to get the great unwashed to call them thinking they have been hacked.

The flaws exist in Voles ms-appx and ms-appx-web protocols which the browser uses to present warning messages when phishing or malware delivery sites are located.

When Edge detects suspected Malicious sites it colours them red with a feature called “SmartScreen”.

However, Buenos Aires security tester Manuel Caballero said it was a doddle for scammers to create warnings that replace SmartScreen text and phone numbers indicating that a nominated site also displayed in the address bar is infected.

All they must do is altering URL characters and appending a hash and a URL of a legitimate-looking site.

Those errors could be avoided by changing a single character in URL, and the displayed address changed to a legitimate site by appending a hash. It is not clear if Microsoft is doing anything about the problem yet.