Archive for Microsoft

#Fail: Microsoft Cutting Off Windows 8.1 From Updates

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 15, 2014 by itnerd

From the “worst idea ever” file, comes this posting from the Microsoft Technet blog:

Since Microsoft wants to ensure that customers benefit from the best support and servicing experience and to coordinate and simplify servicing across both Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8.1 RT and Windows 8.1, this update will be considered a new servicing/support baseline. What this means is those users who have elected to install updates manually will have 30 days to install Windows 8.1 Update  on Windows 8.1 devices; after this 30-day window – and beginning with the May Patch Tuesday, Windows 8.1 user’s devices without the update installed will no longer receive security updates.

This means that Windows 8.1 users – starting patch Tuesday in May 2014 and beyond – will require this update to be installed.  If the Windows 8.1 Update is not installed, those newer updates will be considered “not applicable.”

Now this doesn’t sound so bad, except that when you try to install the Windows 8.1 update, you have decent odds of running into problems. Check out the Windows 8.1 Update 1 Failing to Install with errors 0×80070020, 80073712 and 800F081F story on Infoworld to see what I am talking about. There are hundreds of posts there. The Answers forum also has complaints from users who are getting errors 800F0092 to 80070003, and there are no solutions from Microsoft. At least not yet.

So, this seems like a disaster waiting to happen to me. Yet Microsoft wants to push ahead with this. Perhaps they should get their house in order first before cutting off support to Windows 8.1 by helping the users who can’t install the Windows 8.1?

How about it Microsoft?

Windows 8.1 Now Available

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 8, 2014 by itnerd

If you’ve been waiting for Windows 8.1, wait no longer. This post on WinBeta announced the news:

Windows 8.1 Update 1 has officially become available today. If you don’t already have it installed on your system — as it made a couple of unofficial appearances over the last few weeks, today Microsoft has officially made the update available for all. Furthermore, Microsoft is calling this update “mandatory” to all Windows 8.1 users.

It’s mandatory because users who do not upgrade will not get any future security updates after May 2014. I’ve detailed many of the changes here, so if you’re running Windows 8, download and install away. Then after you’ve tried it out, post a comment and let us know what you think. 

Windows XP Is Dead…. What Do You Do Now?

Posted in Commentary with tags , on April 8, 2014 by itnerd

So. Windows XP is no more. The question is what do you do if you are running XP? Here’s a list of three things you can do until you switch to Windows 7 or Windows 8:

  • Download and install every Windows XP patch that you can find. That’s because after today you want to make sure you’re up to date in terms of protecting yourself from any security issues. Plus after today, Microsoft won’t be offering any new patches for any issues that are discovered going forward:
  • Don’t use Internet Explorer. Instead, switch to Firefox or Chrome. That will buy you a year (as both browsers will end their support for XP sometime next year) and keep you safe (or at least mitigate) from any “drive by” threats you may come across when you surf the web.
  • Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date. Because with no new patches coming from Microsoft, that’s going to be your first line of defense from any threats.

Microsoft has a webpage that has more information on the risks and the like regarding staying with XP. Plus there’s another webpage on how to migrate to Windows 7 or Windows 8. I would recommend reading both of those. That way you can figure out what you need to do going forward.

Microsoft Announces Windows In The Car

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 6, 2014 by itnerd

Microsoft is clearly feeling some Apple envy as they’ve announced their own in car system that’s similar to Apple’s CarPlay. Here’s what The Verge had to say:

Microsoft has created a concept that it’s currently testing in real cars, and the idea allows Windows devices to mirror what’s shown on screen into a touch- and car-friendly interface. The current prototype uses the connectivity standard Mirrorlink, an alternative to Apple’s CarPlay system. Mirrorlink is currently used by Nokia’s Symbian phones and Sony’s Xperia Z handset, but it’s expected to gain broader support if infotainment systems start to use the standard more. Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, and Citroen are all working on cars with Mirrorlink support, and aftermarket car radio manufacturers Alpine and Pioneer are backing it.

I find the inclusion of aftermarket companies Alpine and Pioneer are on board. That’s because CarPlay thus far is only available to those who buy new cars. If you want to upgrade your existing ride, you’re out of luck. At least so far. Before you line up to get your hands on Windows in the car, don’t hold your breath. No ship date has been announced unlike CarPlay which should see systems in new cars later this year.

Windows Phone 8.1 Announced

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 2, 2014 by itnerd

The Windows 8.1 update wasn’t the only thing that was announced by Microsoft today. They also announced Windows Phone 8.1 as well. Here’s a list of the improvements:

  • The lock screen is now fully customizable
  • The Start screen allows users to set a background image or texture.
  • Action Center is a new feature accessible from the top of the screen. It allows you to get access to items including WiFi, Bluetooth and Hotspot. Sound familiar? It should as Android and iOS has a similar feature.
  • The Cortana digital assistant which is powered by Bing and similar to Siri makes an appearance. Cortana is named for an AI character in the popular Halo video game series.
  • There’s Enterprise VPN support, S/MIME support along with expanded MDM features for BYOD users.
  • There’s an improved Calendar.
  • There’s Wi-Fi Sense which suggests “higher quality” WiFi networks around you. Plus it will also connect you to free hotspots and accept the terms of use automatically.

Windows Phone 8.1 will be coming to existing devices “in the next few months.”

What You Need To Know About The Windows 8.1 Update

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 2, 2014 by itnerd

So, the world is going to get an update to the much maligned update to the Windows 8 OS. Windows 8.1 has some major improvements built in and instead of just giving you the Microsoft spin on this, here’s the highlights of what you need to know:

  • The Start menu is coming back to Windows, but not in Windows 8.1 Update. It will show up in a future update.
  • You can boot and resume directly to the Desktop.
  • You can also dock Windows Store apps directly in the Desktop taskbar. Thus you can avoid the Metro interface if you want to.
  • Close and minimize buttons back to apps in Windows 8.1.
  • Power and search buttons have been made stationary on the Start screen.
  • Windows 8.1 Update will be released on April 8th and it is free.

So, if you’re running Windows 8, will you be updating to Windows 8.1?

Microsoft Backtracks On Searching Your E-mail

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 28, 2014 by itnerd

You might recall that Microsoft started a bit of a storm by hunting through Hotmail e-mail to find the source of leak. The software giant then reserved the right to do so in the future. Now they’ve backtracked on that via a blog posting from Brad Smith who is General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs for Microsoft:

Effective immediately, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property from Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves. Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required.

In addition to changing company policy, in the coming months we will incorporate this change in our customer terms of service, so that it’s clear to consumers and binding on Microsoft.

Either Microsoft wants to retain the trust of its users, thus they made this change. Or they just want the blowback to stop. Either way this should have been done a long time ago.

MS Office For iPad Announced

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 27, 2014 by itnerd

Satya Nadella the freshly minted CEO of Microsoft announced Office for iPad today. Word, Excel, and Power Point will be free downloads and will include viewing and presenting capabilities free of charge. If you want to edit or create documents,you will need an Office 365 subscription which is priced at $9.99/month or $99.99/year for a Home Premium package allowing access from multiple computers and mobile devices. You can download the apps from the App Store today.

More info can be found in this blog entry from Microsoft. Will you be downloading a copy?

Microsoft Gets Caught Looking At Hotmail Users E-Mail [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 21, 2014 by itnerd

Microsoft is having to explain itself after they were caught looking into the Hotmail account of a user who they suspected was involved in leaking company secrets. Here’s the details from News.com:

A March 17 court filing by federal prosecutors reveals that Microsoft’s Office of Legal Compliance approved the decision after confirming that the leaked data in question included proprietary Microsoft code.

According to the filing, Microsoft received a tip from a person who was contacted via Hotmail by the blogger, who wanted to verify that the leaked source code was legitimate. Instead, the tipper went to Steven Sinofsky, then-president of the Windows Division at Microsoft, and told him of the interaction. Sinofsky forwarded the details to Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Investigations department, which investigates external threats and internal information leaks.

“After confirmation that the data was Microsoft’s proprietary trade secret on September 7, 2012, Microsoft’s Office of Legal Compliance approved the content pulls of the blogger’s Hotmail account,” the filing says. Microsoft’s investigation uncovered e-mails from then-Microsoft employee Alex Kibkalo to the unnamed blogger sharing prerelease Windows 8 RT code, according to the filing.

Federal prosecutors have charged Kibkalo, who worked for Microsoft in Lebanon and Russia, with theft of trade secrets.

The blowback was almost instant. Here are more details from News.com:

Edward Wasserman, Graduate School of Journalism dean at the University of California, Berkeley, told The New York Times that he had “never seen a case like this.”

“Microsoft essentially decided that whatever privacy expectation that its own customers supposedly had was basically a dead letter,” he said. “It simply decided that in its own corporate interest, it can intrude on a person’s email.”

That was clearly a fail because Microsoft has decided to revise their privacy policy in the wake of this. But that hasn’t taken the smell away from this incident. One has to wonder if Apple, Google, Yahoo, or your local ISP would do the same thing that Microsoft got caught doing.

UPDATE: Two things. One, I wasn’t clear about how Microsoft updated their terms of service. Here’s a link to a blog post that details the changes. Second, The Guardian has answered my question about whether others can or do what Microsoft has been caught doing. The answer is they have privacy policies that allow them to do the same thing.

Microsoft Offering Up $100 For You To Dump XP

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 21, 2014 by itnerd

I am guessing that not enough people are dumping XP fast enough for Microsoft’s liking. I say that because News.com is reporting that Microsoft is paying people to dump XP:

If you own a PC with XP and upgrade at the Microsoft Store, you get $100 off, 90 days of free support, and a “free data transfer,” as spotted by Neowin.

The offer includes a new PC or Surface device priced at $599 or more and excludes Surface 2 “and some PCs,” Microsoft said.

And you have to make an online purchase with a Windows XP machine or take an XP PC to a physical Microsoft Store.

So, if you’re someone who’s still on XP, is this an inducement to make you switch?

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