Archive for the 'Microsoft' Category



Microsoft’s smartwatch will be tightly integrated with enterprise systems

Tuesday 21 October 2014 @ 2:15 pm
Microsoft’s smartwatch will be tightly integrated with enterprise systems

Above: Above: Drawing of the Microsoft smartwatch from the patent application.

Image Credit: U.S. Patent Office

Reports over the weekend said that Microsoft will release its own entrant into the growing field of consumer smartwatches. If the reports are true (and some believe they aren’t), analysts are saying that Microsoft will be wise to integrate the new device tightly with Microsoft productivity tools in the workplace.

Rumors of the Microsoft watch have been swirling since last spring, and a Forbes story Sunday says the new watch will include a heartbeat sensor and will sync with phones using a number of operating systems, including iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone.

“My sources at Microsoft tell me that the watch will be deeply integrated with MS Outlook and services such as Lync,” Pascal Koenig of the Smartwatch Group in Zürich told VentureBeat. Lync is the messaging and voice communications piece of the Microsoft stack of services for the enterprise.

With the barrier between workplace technology and personal technology breaking down, users might buy the watch for work (or have it provided to them) and then begin using it for aspects of their personal life.

“In general, I believe the access to big corporations and an excellent understanding of business processes must be the focus of Microsoft to come up with a valuable product offering,” Koenig said.

Still, the question remains whether it makes sense for Microsoft to launch its own hardware, rather than coming up with software-based solutions.

“We are skeptical whether a critical number of people wants to wear a Microsoft-branded watch,” Koenig said. “However, the product may only be a showcase to get other hardware partners on board.”

This is what Google did by providing it’s Android Wear OS to its smartwatch-making partners.

Microsoft’s response to VentureBeat yesterday? “We do not comment on rumors … “

A move into smartwatches might make sense for Microsoft on a purely strategic level.

“In some ways Microsoft has more to gain than anybody because they have been a distant third in the smartphone race, so being able to move into wearables might allow them to establish a beachhead in this next wave of personal devices,” Reticle Research analyst Ross Rubin told VentureBeat.

Rubin adds that an enterprise-focused smartwatch would fit in with the stated plans of CEO Satya Nadella, who has said that any new Microsoft products will have to pass a validity test for use in that environment.

“Of course some of that will have to cross over into personal productivity, because there’s only so many smartwatches people can wear,” Rubin says.

If a new Microsoft watch does show up before the holiday season (a goal Apple could not meet with its Watch), we’ll likely know on first sight if the device looks good enough (and comes in enough styles) to be worn outside the workplace.


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Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »











Microsoft identifies PowerPoint security flaw that leaves all Windows versions vulnerable

Tuesday 21 October 2014 @ 1:52 pm
Microsoft identifies PowerPoint security flaw that leaves all Windows versions vulnerable

Above: A display at a Microsoft Windows press event in San Francisco on Sept. 30.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

Microsoft’s “Security Response Center” today highlighted a new PowerPoint bug that affects all supported versions of the Windows operating system (save for Windows Server 2003). But fear not: Microsoft has a temporary solution to the problem.

“A cyberattacker could cause remote code execution if someone is tricked into opening a maliciously crafted PowerPoint document that contains an infected Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) file,” Tracey Pretorius, director of the response communications team, explained in a blog post today. An attacker can receive the same user rights as the person currently using the system, according to a summary of the issue.

Customers can use Microsoft’s fix-it option for a holdover until Microsoft releases an official patch, which will affect personal computer owners as well as companies that run Windows on the servers in their data centers.

“We continue to work on a security update to address this cyberattack,” Pretorius wrote. “We’re monitoring the threat landscape very closely and will continue to take appropriate action to help protect our global customers.”

The announcement follows a few recent Linux-related security vulnerabilities, including Poodle and Heartbleed.



Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »











Microsoft releases first Windows 10 preview update with Action Center, moveable apps across monitors, and more

Tuesday 21 October 2014 @ 10:38 am
Microsoft releases first Windows 10 preview update with Action Center, moveable apps across monitors, and more

Above: The Windows 10 Start Menu

Image Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft today released the first update to Windows 10 preview, as part of the company’s Windows Insider Program. The new arrival bumps the build number from 9841, which arrived on October 1, to 9860.

The update should arrive for Windows 10 preview users via Windows Update. Unless you changed the default setting, this means it will be downloaded and installed for you in the middle of the night (your PC has to be plugged in, either on or sleeping).

If you want to get it now, head to PC Settings, select “Update and recovery,” then “Preview builds,” and click the “Check Now” button. Follow the instructions and go grab a snack while it installs.

Preview

More to follow.


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Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »











Microsoft Drops Nokia Name, Sticks With ‘Lumia’ For Windows Phones

Tuesday 21 October 2014 @ 4:09 am
nokia-no-more After a long and complicated relationship that first involved just a close partnership with Nokia handling hardware duties, and then Microsoft acquiring Nokia’s phone-making business during what appeared to be a fairly acrimonious separation, there will be no more confusion as to who’s making first-party Windows Phone hardware going forward: they’ll be called just… Read More



Apple’s Huge Q4: $42.1 Billion In Revenue, $8.5 Billion In Profit

Monday 20 October 2014 @ 12:37 pm
apple-earnings-green Today after the bell, Apple reported its fiscal fourth quarter financial performance, including revenue of $42.1 billion, and earnings per share of $1.42. Analysts had expected Apple to report profit of $1.31 per share, on revenue for the period of $39.85 billion. During the fiscal quarter, Apple had net profit of $8.5 billion, up 13.3% from the $7.5 Billion it say in the same quarter last year. Read More



Suspected Chinese government hackers behind new iCloud account attack

Monday 20 October 2014 @ 11:39 am
Suspected Chinese government hackers behind new iCloud account attack
Image Credit: Sean MacEntee

Here we go again.

Suspected hackers working for the Chinese government are believed to be behind a new series of attacks aimed at the accounts of iCloud users in that country.

The attacks on the iCloud service began on Monday, security experts quoted in The Guardian said. The new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus was released that day in China.

The attacks are thought to be the so-called “man-in-the-middle” type. In this case, the attacks occurred when data passing between a user to the iCloud service, is intercepted and tricked into routing the data to a third party instead. In this case, the hackers themselves.

More specifically, the Chinese cyber criminals used a self-signed certificate, which bluffed Web browsers with false information: that access to the iCloud site was through a secure connection. Once the browser takes the bait, hackers basically have unfettered access to that individual’s account.

Apple takes their security seriously and assured users they were working to plug the holes. Apple suffered a series of embarrassing breaches earlier this year in which accounts of Hollywood celebrities saw their accounts accessed. Some of the celebrities had nude photographs of themselves posted to websites without their authorization.

The Chinese Internet freedom advocacy group GreatFire.org said the attacks bore some of the hallmarks of earlier breaches against GitHub, Yahoo, and Microsoft. And it places the blame for today’s attacks squarely on the backs of the Chinese government.

Microsoft has been under steady fire by the Chinese government for suspected antitrust violations since the summer. U.S. intelligence officials believe that possible information given to Chinese authorities by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in Hong Kong may be behind the clampdown — at least in the case of Microsoft, which has a large presence in the country. Snowden fled first to Hong Kong before flying to Moscow, where he remains.

GreatFire said in a blog post:

“This is clearly a malicious attack on Apple in an effort to gain access to usernames and passwords and consequently all data stored on iCloud such as iMessages, photos, contacts, etc. Unlike the recent attack on Google, this attack is nationwide and coincides with the launch today in China of the newest iPhone. While the attacks on Google and Yahoo enabled the authorities to snoop on what information Chinese were accessing on those two platforms, the Apple attack is different.

“If users ignored the security warning and clicked through to the Apple site and entered their username and password, this information has now been compromised by the Chinese authorities. Many Apple customers use iCloud to store their personal information, including iMessages, photos, and contacts. This may also somehow be related again to images and videos of the Hong Kong protests being shared on the mainland.”

Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.



Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »











Microsoft’s Azure cloud launches a marketplace with a slew of new partners

Monday 20 October 2014 @ 11:00 am
Microsoft’s Azure cloud launches a marketplace with a slew of new partners

Above: Mike Olson, chief strategy officer of Cloudera, speaks at a Microsoft cloud press conference in San Francisco on Oct. 20.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft intends to go to market in the cloud business with pretty much everyone who’s everyone. Today executives announced support for the hip CoreOS Linux operating system and Cloudera’s distribution of the Hadoop open-source software.

The move comes following Microsoft’s show of support for the Docker container technology for easily packaging up and moving applications from one server environment to another. And the announcement also follows Microsoft’s move to partner up with Hadoop distribution provider Hortonworks.

And it sounds like those existing integrations will continue.

Microsoft has “a great partnership with Hortonworks, Microsoft Scott Guthrie told reporters during a press conference. Microsofties “continue to have a good partnership with Hortonworks.”

Both Hortonworks and Cloudera will be represented on the new cloud marketplace Microsoft announced today, Guthrie said.

IBM and Amazon, among others, already operate cloud marketplaces.


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Microsoft to enter wearable computing with smartwatch that includes fitness features

Sunday 19 October 2014 @ 11:04 pm
Microsoft to enter wearable computing with smartwatch that includes fitness features
Image Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is about to become the latest tech giant to step into the wearable computing category.

The company plans to unveil its own smartwatch in the coming weeks, according to a report from Forbes.

“The gadget is a smart watch that will passively track a wearer’s heart rate and work across different mobile platforms. It will also boast a battery life of more than two days of regular use, sources close to the project say,” Forbes writes.

While every tech company with a pulse is rushing into the wearable computing category, it remains to be seen whether mainstream computers have an appetite for a smartwatch. And the company could face a challenge trying to sell a new smartwatch while the world waits for the Apple Watch to debut some time next year.


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Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »











Microsoft’s AutoTag leverages your Facebook account to automatically tag friends in all your other photos

Sunday 19 October 2014 @ 11:52 am
Microsoft’s AutoTag leverages your Facebook account to automatically tag friends in all your other photos
Image Credit: Robert Scoble

Microsoft this weekend quietly revealed AutoTag ‘n Search My Photos, a new Windows 8.1 app that leverages the photos tagged in your Facebook account to help you tag your own personal photos. The new tool learns about the face models of your friends and can then automatically tag photos stored in your Pictures Library on Windows.

Once some tags have been added, AutoTag lets you search for people across your photo collection. If you include your OneDrive photos in the Pictures library, photos taken on a Windows Phone can also be automatically tagged, and thus become searchable.

firstlaunch

Microsoft promises that tagging accuracy improves as you use the app. More specifically, when you confirm suggested tags or fix and edit improperly tagged faces, AutoTag will adapt accordingly.

While AutoTag relies heavily on Facebook, you can still tag people who are not on the social network, creating profiles for unidentified faces (an “unidentified photos” view even clusters faces with similar features for easy tagging). This isn’t a one-way street: you can also share photos on Facebook with tags included, both to a new and existing album. The idea is that tagging people in the app is less of a hassle since there are fewer people left to tag.

facebook

You can also merge a Facebook profile or a user-created profile with tags detected on photos tagged with other photo applications, such as OneDrive. While AutoTag adds new people tags to your photos, it does not overwrite any existing tags.

Here is a walkthrough demo that runs through the app’s various features:

Curiously, the video mentions that users should rate the app in the company’s app store. Microsoft rarely offers its research projects for public download, and at least at the time of publishing, AutoTag doesn’t appear to be one of the exceptions; we were unable to find the app in the Downloads sections nor in the Windows Store.

The app was developed by the Microsoft Garage team, a group responsible that runs side projects, hackathons, science fairs, and general tinkering in Redmond. It thus shouldn’t be much of a surprise the video above is hosted on a Microsoft Research website; this is very much an experiment. In fact, a post on Microsoft Answers says the app is in beta and notes some known issues, as well as potential workarounds.

homepage

At the end of the day, AutoTag shows off some very cool technology that can create a person-centric view of all your photos, including those stored on your local hard drive, OneDrive, and on Facebook. Unfortunately, as with many Microsoft Research projects, it’s not likely a tool that would catch on: this is a solution to a problem that spans more than just Windows devices, and it’s being largely solved by Facebook’s own automatic-tagging technology.

We have contacted Microsoft for more information about the app, including whether it will be made available for download as the video suggests. In the meantime, you can learn more about AutoTag by checking out the lengthy FAQ page (which by the way is also written as if anyone with a Windows 8.1 device can install the app).


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Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 1.15 billion monthly active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 w... read more »











The Spirit Of Coopetition Is Alive And Well In The Cloud

Friday 17 October 2014 @ 3:37 am
Book with cover: Frenemies a love story Increasingly, companies that compete directly with another have been announcing major partnerships, and we saw a couple of good examples this week with Microsoft and Salesforce and IBM and SAP. Not coincidentally in my view, they both involved the cloud. That’s because companies may want to compete, but customers want their technology vendors to just get along. They need products to… Read More



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