Tag: microsoft

Microsoft bins Windows 7 and 8.1

Windows 10Software King of the World Microsoft has consigned its Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to silicon heaven.

Vole stopped providing copies of Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8.1 licences to OEMs which means that you should not be able to find one in the shops.

Two years ago, Microsoft stopped selling Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, and Windows 7 Ultimate licenses to OEMs. With Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8.1 out of the picture Windows 10 is the only remaining option.  Unless you want Linux.

The Windows Lifecycle chart for sales doesn’t have an end date for Windows 10, since that operating system doesn’t have a successor.

Mainstream Support for Windows 7 ended on January 13, 2015 while Mainstream Support for Windows 8.1 will end on January 9, 2018.  In theory Windows 10 will still get it until October 13, 2020.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update, released in August 2016 and a new version, the Windows 10 Creators Update, is slated to arrive in “early 2017”.

Skype and Snapchat put human rights at risk

amnestyHuman rights group Amnesty International. has warned that Snapchat and Skype are falling short in protecting users’ privacy and putting  “human rights at risk”.

Amnesty evaluated how  messaging apps use encryption to protect users’ private communications and gave Skype and Snapchat a rather low score.

Amnesty is making encryption a human rights necessity, due to concerns that activists, opposition politicians and journalists in some countries could be in danger if their communications on popular messaging apps was hacked.

Sherif Elsayed-Ali, head of Amnesty’s technology and human rights team said activists around the world rely on encryption to protect themselves from spying by authorities, and it is unacceptable for technology companies to expose them to danger by failing to adequately respond to the human rights risks.

“The future of privacy and free speech online depends to a very large extent on whether tech companies provide services that protect our communications, or serve them up on a plate for prying eyes. Young people, the most prolific sharers of personal details and photos over apps like Snapchat, are especially at risk.”

Amnesty’s metrics ranked apps on a scale of one to 100, factoring in how they recognise potential threats to their users, apply end-to-end encryption, inform users of their rights and of security measures in place, and share details of government requests for user data.

BlackBerry, Snapchat and China’s Tencent received Amnesty’s worst grades, all scoring less than 30 out of 100. None of these companies use end-to-end encryption.

In general, the company’s security philosophy is based around deleting content; the phrase “Delete is our default” figures prominently on Snapchat’s website. Most messages sent through Snapchat automatically delete themselves once they’ve been viewed or have expired (although they can be captured and saved in screenshots).

Viollis, who does not use Snapchat, urges users not to be lulled by the app’s “false sense of security”.

“There’s no electronic eraser. You can’t press retrieve. Whatever is on the internet will live there forever,” he said.

Microsoft’s Skype also fared poorly, receiving 40 out of 100. Skype uses encryption, but not end-to-end encryption for its instant messaging, according to Amnesty.

Microsoft said that while it agreed with Amnesty about the importance of encryption,the report does not reflect Skype’s comprehensive work to protect people’s privacy and security.

“Skype uses encryption and a range of other technical security measures, and we protect people’s privacy through legal challenges, advocacy, and strong policies to notify customers when we receive government requests for their data or detect attempted third party intrusions,” a spokesVole said.

Microsoft’s cloud move paying off

Ary Pleysier - Beach View with Boats - Wikimedia CommonsSoftware King of the World, Microsoft is now the belle of Wall Street with its latest results, thanks mostly to its cunning cloud plans.

Volish sales of its flagship cloud product doubled in its first quarter, propelling earnings above analysts’ estimates and sending its shares to an all-time high, breaking past a level hit in 1999 at the peak of the tech stock bubble.

Microsoft shares have doubled since August 2013 with Chief Executive Satya Nadella restoring investor confidence by focusing on mobile and cloud computing rather than PCs.

Sales from its flagship cloud product Azure, which businesses can use to host their websites, apps or data, rose 116 percent. Revenue for its broader “Intelligent Cloud” business rose 8.3 percent to $6.38 billion, beating analysts’ average estimate of $6.27 billion.

The company forecast that sales for its Intelligent Cloud business will be between $6.55 billion and $6.75 billion in the current quarter, compared with $6.34 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Microsoft was one of the first to invest in cloud technology, which made a change from its usual business method of waiting until something was established.It found itself outflanked by Google on the Internet and Apple in consumer technology, as PCs became more robust and did not need upgrading.

Earlier this year, Nadella made headlines when he orchestrated Microsoft’s biggest-ever deal, agreeing in June to buy the social network for professionals LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.

Revenue in the unit that includes Windows software and the company’s struggling mobile business fell 1.8 percent to $9.29 billion. Microsoft forecast the division will have sales of up to $11.6 billion in the current quarter – well below the $12.7 billion it posted for the unit a year earlier.

Microsoft reported revenue of $22.33 billion, above the average estimate of $21.71 billion.

Microsoft lifts its kimono for Brazilian conspiracy nuts

brazilSoftware king of the world Microsoft is going to show its source code to the Brazilian government to re-assure conspiracy nuts that it has no back doors which allow US spooks to spy on people.

Vole opened a centre in Brazil where officials can inspect its programming code, in an attempt to allay suspicions in the region that its software programs are vulnerable to spying.

It is the fourth ‘Transparency Centre’ that Vole has established and it is only a little bit transparent. It has reinforced walls and the sort of strict security settings a bank would be proud of.

Experts from Latin American and Caribbean governments can see the source code of its products.

To be fair, Edward Snowden revealed that the United States had been spying on Brazilian communications including those of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Microsoft prevents anyone from copying the massive amount of coding on display – as much as 50 million lines for its email and server products. Viewers inspect copies of source code on computers connected only to local servers and cut off from the internet. The copies are later deleted.

Viewers can use software tools to examine the code, Microsoft said, but it was not immediately clear whether experts would be able to run deep code analysis necessary to uncover back doors or other bugs.

 

Clinton wanted Gates or Tim Cook for Vice president

main-qimg-c3c35d5a1a6001a0fcf594c49a5af26fAn email from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta released in the recent WikiLeaks dump shows that Clinton wanted Bill or Melinda Gates, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Xerox CEO Ursula Burns for the Vice-President role.

There were 40 names on the list, so it was more like my Amazon wish-list, and there were signs that some of the names were not well researched. Apple’s supreme dalek Tim Cook is currently raising money for Ayn Rand–influenced ideologue Paul Ryan who shares similar views about stuffing up the great unwashed for a rich elite of self-serving bastards.

Bill and Melinda Gates are too busy saving the world to be bothered with the job of Vice-President, which unless the president gets sick is more of a ceremonial role. Even Dan Quayle managed to be a vice-president and he could not spell potato.

Burns probably does not want to leave Xerox where she earns on average $13 million a year. In fact her and her management team have all received salary increases over the last six years, but staff has not.

Microsoft flicks off lightswitch

il_fullxfull.781035219_7evySoftware King of the World Microsoft has flicked off its LightSwitch technology.

For those who came in late, Visual Studio LightSwitch is a simplified self-service development tool that lets you build business applications quickly and easily for the desktop and cloud.

Vole always pitched it as a simplified development environment which allowed punters to focus on the business logic instead of the application infrastructure.

According to a SpokesVole, LightSwitch was to supposed to accelerate the development of line-of-business apps, but the landscape has changed significantly since it was released. Mobile and cloud had churned out more connected and relevant choices for business app development.

Visual Studio 2015 is the last release of Visual Studio that includes the LightSwitch tooling and as expected Microsoft will continue to support users with existing LightSwitch apps as per the Microsoft Support Lifecycle.

Microsoft is no longer recommending LightSwitch for developing new apps, instead, they are pointing customers towards PowerApps. PowerApps is also a modern solution to build custom business applications that enables increased productivity with business apps that are easily created, shared and managed.

Big Tech reacts in horror to Yahoo’s spying story

A shocked Baby (2)_fullAfter the news got out that Yahoo has been scanning its mail systems for the US spooks, the bigger US ISPs have reacted in horror and said they would never dream of such a thing.

Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter have all said they would never do such a thing.

According to Reuters, Yahoo built in 2015, at the US  government’s request, software that scans literally all emails for certain information provided by either the National Security Agency or the FBI. The software was never mentioned in Yahoo’s biannual transparency report. In the latter half of 2015, the company received 4,460 total government data requests, for 9,373 accounts, that it would classify as “Government Data Requests,” a category that includes National Security Letters from the FBI and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests.

According to the Reuters report, the Yahoo programme was known to only a handful of employees.

A Facebook representative said “Facebook has never received a request like the one described in these news reports from any government, and if we did we would fight it.”

Google said the same: “We’ve never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: ‘no way.’”

A Microsoft spokesperson added: “We have never engaged in the secret scanning of email traffic like what has been reported today about Yahoo.”

A representative for Twitter replied that: “We’ve never received a request like this, and were we to receive it we’d challenge it in a court. Separately, while federal law prohibits companies from being able to share information about certain types of national security related requests, we are currently suing the Justice Department for the ability to disclose more information about government requests.”

While Apple declined to give a statement on the record it has previously said it would never do anything like that.

Yahoo is coming out looking like the bad guy. It is in talks to be acquired by Verizon, but also facing another scandal for suffering the largest known user data leak in history, with 500 million users’ information exposed. However it failed to mention it to its users.

Windows 10 update is stuffed again

turkey_with_apples_-_croppedrszSoftware King of the World Microsoft has packed off another Windows 10 update which broke some users’ PCs.

Update KB3194496, is not installing correctly and when it fails some machines are forced to restart, often multiple times. Apparently this is because  Windows 10 has problems getting rid of the failed update. Worse, after a restart, the file will attempt to install again resulting in the loop of failed install, reboot, re-install and failure again.

Oddly the cumulative update did install correctly on the second or third attempt while others have said that it fails every time.

What is also weird is that the bug was reported before the update was released, but for some reason Vole issued it anyway.  It does not bode well for Windows 10, which Vole sells on the basis that its updates are really important and all you every need to think about. Obviously if they tigger your system, you are going to be thinking about them for a long time.

Microsoft builds a new AI unit

mybrainhurtsSoftware King of the world, Microsoft has said that it has created a new artificial intelligence unit.

Vole is apparently diving into artificial intelligence (AI)and machine learning research world head first rather than dipping its toes in the water first.

Microsoft teamed up with four other big technology companies  including Amazon, Google, Facebook and IBM – to create a non-profit organisation to advance public understanding of AI technologies.

Vole’s new unit — Microsoft AI and Research Group — will be headed by Harry Shum, a company veteran who has held senior roles at the Microsoft Research and Bing engineering divisions.

“Microsoft has been working in artificial intelligence since the beginning of Microsoft Research, and yet we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible,” Shum said in a statement.

Chief Executive Satya Nadella has previously said the company’s $26.2 billion deal for LinkedIn Corp is expected to help bolster its efforts in analytics, machine learning and AI.

Microsoft has also been acquiring companies to expand its AI tech. The company in February acquired SwiftKey, a maker of predictive keyboard app. And last month it bought Genee, an AI-based scheduling service.

 

Watchdog tells Microsoft to refund Windows 10 update victims

Watchdog-Lele1A UK watchdog Which?  has growled at the software giant Microsoft over the fact its update bricked some users PCs and told it to pay up to have them repaired.

For those who came in late, last year Vole rolled out a free Windows 10 update to all its customers. However Which? received hundreds of complaints about the software, including repeated pop-ups regarding updates, various problems regarding printers, Wi-Fi cards, working of speakers, files being lost and email accounts no longer syncing.

Many complained about being “nagged” by Microsoft to install the new update and despite declining notifications. Which? said there have also been complaints about poor customer service from Microsoft when users contacted the company about the problems they are having, the report said.

Alex Neill, Director of Campaigns and Policy said that of 2,500 people surveyed, who had upgraded to Windows 10, more than 12 percent said they ended up rolling back to their previous version of the operating system. More than half stated that this was because the upgrade had adversely affected their PC.

”We rely heavily on our computers to carry out daily activities so, when they stop working, it is frustrating and stressful,” A, was quoted as saying. ALSO READ: Microsoft’s Cortana to help refrigerators in ‘food management,” Neill said.

“Many people are having issues with Windows 10 and we believe Microsoft should be doing more to fix the problem. Which? is now calling on Microsoft to improve its customer service and compensate its customers where appropriate.