Tag Archives: Microsoft

Patch Tuesday: Microsoft and Adobe Releases Critical Patches

It’s that day of the month when you have to fire up Windows Update and install all of those very precious security updates. Both Microsoft and Adobe has released a number of updates which are available for download right now.

The new updates consists of nine bulletins, out of which five updates are rated critical, the highest severity rating. Rest of the updates are rated important by Microsoft. These updates fix 26 vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer, Exchange Server, SQL Server, Server Software, Developer Tools, and Office. You can either use Windows Update or download the updates from Download Center. If you have automatic updates enabled (as you should), you will probably have these installed already.

Adobe on the other hand has released three security bulletins for Reader, Acrobat, Shockwave and Flash. The updates for Adobe and Acrobat fix about 20 vulnerabilities for both Windows and Mac OS X versions of their software. The Flash Player update, which is touted as the most important among the updates, fixes vulnerability (CVE-2012-1535) which according to Adobe has been used in the wild in a limited manner. The update for Shockwave Player addresses five memory corruption vulnerabilities that could lead to code execution.

For more information on the updates from Microsoft, visit MSRC . To download updates for Adobe products, visit their security bulletins and advisories section.

Make sure to have these updates installed on your PC as soon as possible, for better protection from online threats.

Metro is Irreplaceable

Microsoft is a company that’s notorious for branding disasters. Product names are usually long and confusing, and are frequently renamed and rebranded, only adding to the mess.

However, Metro was an exception. It was the name of a design language that spread rapidly throughout the company, effectively uniting its products in many ways. It represents the company thinking outside of the box, and leaving its comfort zone to create awesome products. It represents the far more consistent and close-knit ecosystem that the company has been working hard to build over the past few years. And finally, it represents the culture of Microsoft in pursuing all of this.

In terms of branding, it did a great thing. While Metro was initially a term to describe Microsoft’s new, fresh, and authentic design language, it organically came to represent much more.

Reportedly, due to legal issues, Microsoft will be ditching the term and expunging it from well, everything. Products, marketing materials, documentation, help files…

Wow.

This is a complete disaster. And to make matters worse, Microsoft has handled this horribly. A Microsoft spokesperson issued a comment to Mary-Jo Foley that dismisses Metro as a mere codename:

“We have used Metro style as a code name during the product development cycle across many of our product lines. As we get closer to launch and transition from industry dialog to a broad consumer dialog we will use our commercial names.”

Officially, we have no idea what the real reasons behind this are. In any case, what they’re doing is wrong. Provided that the legal issues are to blame, they should have seriously fought it. I mean come on, you’re Microsoft. Surely you have the resources to deal with a European partner, even if it became a messy and costly situation.

If the statement from the company is complete fact — that it’s a codename that the company suddenly decided to distance itself from — then I’d like to have whatever they were smoking to make them think this is a good idea.

What’s done is done. But what can be done about this moving forward? After going on the record and dismissing Metro as a lowly codename, it’s hard to just backtrack from that provided that they’re contemplating working towards using it again. If they wanted to stay true to their word, they’re going to have to move forward and choose a replacement for Metro.

But there’s one problem. Metro is irreplaceable. No one term has been through all that Metro has to bear the same significance.

Ditching an important brand is hard for any company. Could you imagine if, right around the time of launch, Apple was forced to ditch “iPhone” due to legal disputes? If this is a bad situation for a company like Apple — that’s highly skilled at branding and marketing — could you imagine the ramifications for Microsoft? It’s unlikely that a company rife with branding nightmares can concoct a sufficient replacement.

If today’s rumors prove to be correct, the replacement terminology for Metro will be cringeworthy.

Mary-Jo Foley is hearing that the “Windows 8″ will be used to replace Metro terminology:

Here’s the official guidance, my sources say: Anything currently/formerly known as a “Metro-Style application” (with or without a hyphen) will now be known officially as a “Windows 8 application.” References to the “Metro user interface” will now be replaced by “Windows 8 user interface.” And instead of saying “Metro design,” the Softies and those adhering to their official guidelines will be using the words “Windows 8 design.”

Putting aside Metro’s irreplaceable factor, this doesn’t even make any sense. Windows 8 is hardly a sufficient replacement. Metro described an entire design philosophy that exists beyond Windows; the term isn’t remotely capable of enveloping the entire definition of Metro. The best part? Instead of referring to the interface on Windows Phone as Metro, you’ll be calling it the “Windows 8 interface on Windows Phone.”

Sigh.

Image Source: istartedsomething

Windows 8 Setup Will Set ‘Do Not Track’ to On in Express Settings

 

In a blog post on the Microsoft On The Issues blog on August 7, Brendon Lynch, the Chief Privacy Officer at Microsoft announced that during Windows 8 setup, Internet Explorer’s Do Not Track (DNT) feature will be set to ON in the Express Settings option.

Internet Explorer’s DNT default caused a bit of stir recently with companies like Google which make money mostly through their advertisement products, as well as advertisers who want better tracking/metrics/targeting, not wanting this feature turned on by default. The argument from privacy advocates (and Microsoft) was that if it is not turned on by default, there is a very small chance it will be turned on deliberately by the user. Mozilla, makers of Firefox, which has stood tall for consumer privacy, curiously does not turn it on by default. (Could it be because their single-largest source of income is royalty payments from Google for keeping Firefox Start Page to be a custom Google search page, and for keeping Google the default search engine in the browser? Can’t say for sure.)

In any case, now that Windows 8 has RTM-ed, we know what the behavior is going to be. Users who go through the setup with Express Settings will have DNT turned on by default. During the setup, it will be made clear that this setting has been turned on, and to change it they can click on Customize Settings during the setup. If someone cares enough about fine tuning the Windows 8 setup, they can choose Customize Settings and they will be shown the choice to turn it off and a link to “Learn More” about the feature along with a Privacy Statement.

Microsoft should be commended for taking a pro-consumer, privacy-first stand and while this may be a competitive play to blunt Google’s biggest revenue generation area, the fact that consumers benefit as a result of the competitive play, is a huge plus in the end.

Let’s wait and see which organization stands up and speaks against this move – publishers, advertisers, Google or the government.

Microsoft Pushes New Updates for Office 2013

Microsoft recently released the consumer preview new version of Office; back on July 16th as a consumer preview. Office 2013 has a metro UI which is similar to what has (See: Office 2013 Screenshot Tour) and has several new features including tight cloud integration (Read: Office 2013 Features).

Also Read: Use Word 2013 to Edit Your Blog

Office 2013 Update

However, less than a moth later, Microsoft has now released an update to Office 2013 which updates the version to 15.0.4128.1019 from the earlier version 15.0.4128.1014. However, there is no change log available for the update and I am still trying out figure out the changes in this release.

If you have not yet tried out Office 2013, you can download a free consumer preview version of Office 2013 or also use direct download links for Office 2013 to download it for your PC.

Microsoft: Windows 8 Has Been Released To Manufacturing (RTM)

As expected, Microsoft has just announced that Windows 8 has been released to manufacturing (RTM). As we speak, the final build of the OS is being released to OEMs and manufacturing partners, and will come pre-installed on a slew of PCs (and tablets) which will be released over the next few months.

In the announcement post, Steven Sinofsky notes that they’ve seen an insane level of participation in testing the pre-release version of Windows 8. Over 16 million PCs have participated, including the roughly 7 million PCs that participated in the Release Preview which the company made available for download 8 weeks ago. So, what’s next? We know that general availability will be on October 26th, but when will the build be available through official channels for us early adopters?

Here’s a timeline of when the bits will be released to various marketplaces:

  • August 15th: Developers will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via your MSDN subscriptions.
  • August 15th: IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organizations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through your TechNet subscriptions.
  • August 16th: Customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing you to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within your organization.
  • August 16th: Microsoft Partner Network members will have access to Windows 8.
  • August 20th: Microsoft Action Pack Providers (MAPS) receive access to Windows 8.
  • September 1st: Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers.

And yes, for those of you who are keeping track, recent rumors have been spot-on; the RTM build is 9200. So, there you have it. The Windows 8 RTM build is done.

Microsoft Wants to End All Patent Disputes with Google

Microsoft, Google, Apple and many other technology / software / internet companies have been embroiled in patent infringement and licensing disputes in the recent past. In the last couple of years, especially, the patent wars have really intensified, with tech giants spending billions of dollars to buy patents and/or license them.

Microsoft, being one of the pros in the game, has been making billions of dollars in patent licensing fees. One of its primary targets has been Android, and it has managed to coerce almost every major Android device maker to enter patent licensing deals with it.

In an unanticipated move, Microsoft has approached Motorola (and Google) rather publicly, in a bid to end all patent licensing disputes and enter cross licensing agreements covering both their patent portfolios at reasonable terms.

Microsoft’s official statement says:

“Microsoft has always been, and remains open to, a settlement of our patent litigation with Motorola. As we have said before, we are seeking solely the same level of reasonable compensation for our patented intellectual property that numerous other Android distributors – both large and small – have already agreed to recognize in our negotiations with them. And we stand ready to pay reasonable compensation for Motorola’s patented intellectual property as well.”

Microsoft is seeking a comprehensive resolution which would end all outstanding patent disputes, and also demanding that all patent licenses be granted at market rates determined by existing patent licensing agreements with other parties and FRAND terms.

One of the main reasons why Google had acquired Motorola was because of its patent portfolio, which provided it enough ammunition to go up against Apple and Microsoft which had been bullying it and its device partners.

Motorola commented on Microsoft’s statement:

“Microsoft wants to undercut Motorola’s industry-leading patent portfolio, licensed by more than 50 other companies on fair and reasonable terms, while seeking inflated royalties tied to standards that Microsoft alone controls. Motorola is always open to negotiations that avoid wasteful and abusive patent claims.”

While I hope that both companies end these time consuming disputes, it seems highly unlikely for now, given their long standing rivalry.

via AllThingsD

Box Raises $125 Million to Dominate the Enterprise Cloud Storage Space

Box, the Dropbox for the enterprise, has raised yet another monster round of funding. It has announced a $125 million investment by General Atlantic Partners, at a rumored valuation of nearly $1.2 billion.

Box is one of the top enterprise cloud storage and collaboration services, and has grown at an explosive rate in the last couple of years. It has been expanding internationally and growing at a scorching pace, with enterprise sales up more than 200% year-over-year in the first half of 2012, and the average deal size almost doubling.

It has been adding data centers across the globe to support its expansion. It has more than 120,000 businesses signed up, and is used by individuals at 92% of the Fortune 500 companies.

Aaron Levie, Co-founder and CEO, Box, said:

“The confluence of cloud, mobile and social technology is transforming how every enterprise and individual manages information today. This new funding allows us to invest aggressively in the talent, technology and global expansion efforts required for Box to sit at the center of this shift and define the next generation of enterprise software.”

General Atlantic led this round with existing investors like Bessemer Venture Partners, DFJ Growth, New Enterprise Associates, SAP Ventures and Scale Venture Partners, as well as new investor Social+Capital Partnership. Gary Reiner, operating partner at GA, will join Box’s board of directors.

Box faces competition not only from other cloud storage startups, but also giants like Microsoft and Google, who are also eying the enterprise file sharing and collaboration space.

With this round, Box has now raised a total of $284 million.

via Box PR

How to Get your Outlook.com Email Address

Microsoft has just announced Outlook email service which will be replacing Hotmail soon. While you can keep using your current email id, you also have an option of creating a new [email protected] email alias that you can use alongside your current email address. This a tutorial on how to do that (if you have a generic name, you better hurry up before someone else gets it).

To upgrade to Outlook from Hotmail, login to Hotmail. Click  Options and select Upgrade to Outlook.com .

You will be automatically upgraded to the new Outlook. You will find a welcome mail with a link to get a new alias as shown below.

Alternately, you can also create an alias from the settings page.

Once you are in the new Outlook, click on the gear icon on the top right corner of Outlook and select More Setting option. You will be taken to the Settings page.

Now click Create your Outlook alias from under Managing your account section.

After entering your desired alias, click Create alias button and you are done.

You can now send and receive emails using your new outlook mail id.

Microsoft Unveils New Hardware, Details Upcoming Touch Mouse Gestures For Windows 8

With the Windows 8 RTM right around the corner, Microsoft has unveiled a slew of new hardware products tailored towards Windows 8 PCs and devices.

The first one that was announced is the Wedge Mobile Keyboard. Designed specifically for tablets, it connects via Bluetooth to tablets, and is designed to be as small and portable as possible without compromising the typing experience. Also, a nice touch to it — and the other keyboard that was announced today — is that it comes designed with the new logo on the Windows key. On top of this touch to really indicate that it was built in the Windows 8 era, the keyboard also sports some hotkeys for Windows 8’s Charms. Building a tablet that’s both extremely portable and pleasant to use is quite a challenge, as anyone who has used an average netbook keyboard can attest to.

In order to bring your Wedge Mobile Keyboard with you while on the go, they have also created a pretty nifty cover that’s made of a rubber material. Not only does it protect the keyboard from scratches, but, when kept in a bag next to its accompanying tablet, it helps prevent the tablet from getting scratches as well. Finally, the cover can bend at the middle, forming a tablet kickstand.

Next up, we have the mouse counterpart of the keyboard, which is aptly named the Wedge Touch Mouse. With a peculiar size and shape, it definitely seems portable. However, I’m going to reserve my opinions on its comfort level and ergonomics until I actually get my hands on one. There’s no word on whether any advanced gestures will be available for it, but we do know that it will come with four-way touch scrolling. The Wedge Mobile Keyboard will be available soon for $79.95, and the Wedge Touch Mouse will be available for $69.95.

The next pair of keyboard/mouse siblings announced by the company are the Sculpt Touch Mouse and Sculpt Mobile Keyboard. They’re a bit larger in form factor than the Wedge series of peripherals while still remaining relatively mobile. They both connect to your PC via Bluetooth as well, and have been updated for Windows 8. And, like the Wedge Mobile Keyboard, it comes with those very same hotkeys to help make you more productive on Windows 8. The Sculpt Mobile Keyboard will be available for $49.95, and the Sculpt Touch Mouse will be available for the same cost as well sometime soon.

And finally, Microsoft announced that a slew of new gestures for Windows 8 are coming to the existing Microsoft Touch Mouse:

  • A one finger swipe will allow you to move side to side or up and down, shifting content on your screen.
  • Two finger movements manage apps, allowing users to display Windows 8 charms, switch through open apps and show app commands.
  • Three finger movements will let you zoom in and out.
  • Thumb gestures navigate backward and forward through apps.

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung & Others Get Ready to Buy Kodak’s Patents

Just when you thought that things were cooling off, the patent wars have gotten interesting again. With the Apple vs Samsung patent mega-lawsuit starting soon, and now Kodak’s patent auctions approved, we are in for a ride!

Kodak has put up more than 1,100 patents up for sale, with most of them related to digital imaging and image capture, processing and transmission technologies for digital camera and smartphones.

These patents are expected to fetch billions of dollars, which is expected if you put up technology giants with billions of dollars in free cash and massive egos up against each other in a bidding war.

In what seems like a rehash of the Nortel patent auctions which ended up fetching $4.5 billion, Apple is teaming up with Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures, while Google is teaming up with RPX (another patent aggregation firm like IV) and Samsung, HTC and LG, the three top Android device makers.

While there could be many more bidders jumping in the fray later, these two consortiums have the most cash and are desperate to boost their patent portfolios.

Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy months ago, is counting on the cash generated through the patent sales to restructure and become a viable company again.

We’ll be tracking the auctions here at Techie Buzz. Stay tuned.

via WSJ