Archive for Microsoft

Hey IT Nerd! Should I Be Worried About How Windows 10 Collects Data?

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

I just got this question in my inbox:

Hello IT Nerd. I am sure you’ve seen the recent media coverage about the Windows 10 technical preview and how it collects all sorts of data. My question is, should I be worried about that? 

Thanks!

Thank you for the question. What this reader is talking about is the fact that the technical preview of Windows 10 says this in their privacy statement:

When you acquire, install and use the Program, Microsoft collects information about you, your devices, applications and networks, and your use of those devices, applications and networks. Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage. For example, when you:

  • install the Program, we may collect information about your device and applications and use it for purposes such as determining or improving compatibility,
  • use voice input features like speech-to-text, we may collect voice information and use it for purposes such as improving speech processing,
  • open a file, we may collect information about the file, the application used to open the file, and how long it takes any use it for purposes such as improving performance, or
  • enter text, we may collect typed characters and use them for purposes such as improving autocomplete and spellcheck features.

That predictably sent the Internet into a tizzy as evidenced by this Inquirer article. So back to the question. Should you be worried? The answer is that it depends. If you’re using pre-release software for any reason, you should fully expect something like this as the whole point of a technical release is for companies to gather info on how you use the software prior to release. Normally that’s through your feedback, but it’s sometimes done via methods like this. Plus, you should never, ever be using pre-release software on a computer that has access to sensitive info or on a computer that you rely on. Thus if this software is on a separate computer that is isolated on your network (which is what the people who are testing this stuff for corporations do…. Or at least should be doing), then go nuts. Use it all you want. But if you’ve put this software on a computer that is part of a part of your production network, then you might want to worry. If anything bad happens, you’re the one who’s going to be responsible as you made that call. Not Microsoft.

Another thing to point out is that features like the voice input feature has to send data back to Microsoft to work at all. Android (Google Now) and iOS (Siri) do that and I don’t hear any complaints.

The bottom line is that this is much ado about nothing as far as I am concerned. As a result, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

Microsoft Announces Windows 10… Really. It’s Called Windows 10. [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 30, 2014 by itnerd

That isn’t a misprint. Microsoft today at a preview event announced Windows 10 to the public.This is  the last “major” Windows update. Microsoft’s strategy is to make smaller updates to the Windows 10 codebase, rather than pushing out new major updates years apart. Sort of what Apple does with OS X where they come out with a new release every year with smaller updates in between.

Some of the key features include:

  • A refreshed user interface.
  • The Start Menu will be a mix of what users loved about the one in Windows 7 with elements of Windows 8.
  • The addition of Universal Windows apps which addresses a major grievance that many Windows 8 users have experienced with Modern user interface apps not working well when run from the desktop.
  • A feature called “Continuum” that automatically adjust Windows for 2-in-1 tablet-computer hybrids so that it can automatically detect whether there’s a keyboard and mouse hooked up to the device and offer the more desktop-friendly version of the Windows user interface.
  • A “tablet mode” that will automatically pop up whenever you touch the screen.

In short, Windows 10 is supposed to make tablet users as well as mouse and keyboard users happy. Good luck with that Microsoft.

Microsoft is expected to release a preview test build of Windows 10 sometime tomorrow. When it goes live at this link, I will grab a copy and give you my thoughts. Expect the OS to ship sometime in 2015.

UPDATE: Microsoft has just posted a press release on Windows 10.

Microsoft Starts The Process To Kill Off Windows 7

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 24, 2014 by itnerd

If you want a new computer with Windows 7, you might want to hurry. Microsoft has announced that the process to kill off Windows 7 has begun. On the Windows lifecycle fact sheet, Microsoft notes that as of October 31st, it will no longer provide copies of Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium or Ultimate to third-party manufacturers for inclusion on new consumer PCs. So, when that stock runs out, you’ll be stuck with Windows 8. Windows 7 Professional isn’t affected by this. Yet. So that might be an option for you.

A couple of other dates to note:

  • Mainstream support for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 ends on January 13th, 2015
  • Extended support for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 will last until at least January 14th, 2020

So, if you like Windows 7, buy now.

Videos Of Windows 9 In Action Leaked

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

Well, this is interesting. Some videos have been posted that apparently show Windows 9 in action. Here’s what Tech Crunch reported:

A number of clips are up for watching, detailing how Windows 9 will handle multiple desktops, the return of the Start Menu, and more. Presuming that you have missed at least one, I’ve included each in this post.

The videos are worth considering as they demonstrate what Microsoft views as a proper remediation — and fusion — of its tablet-facing efforts included in Windows 8, and support of desktop features that echo the popular Windows 7.

The clips in question are on Youtube and I’ve reposted them below:

So, does this make you forgive Microsoft for Windows 8? For me, it’s too early to tell. I will wait until the preview comes out later this month.

Minecraft Now Owned By Microsoft

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

If you like playing the popular game Minecraft, you might want to sit down for this news. Mojang, the company behind Minecraft has been bought by Microsoft for $2.5 billion:

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire Mojang for $2.5 billion. Microsoft expects the acquisition to be break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis. Subject to customary closing conditions and any regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close in late 2014.

The press release also says this:

Microsoft plans to continue to make “Minecraft” available across all the platforms on which it is available today: PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation.

While it would be suicide to cut support for non Microsoft platforms, you’ll excuse me if I am skeptical. After all, they have Windows Mobile and Windows Desktop OSes to sell. So the may not nuke support for non-Microsoft platforms today, but they may well do so in the future. All one needs to do is look at Microsoft’s purchase Bungie. Mac support for all their games (in particular Halo) disappeared some time after the purchase.

In the meantime, expect fans of Minecraft not to be happy about this purchase.

Microsoft Agrees To Contempt Order So It Can Appeal Case Related To Data Held Overseas

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 10, 2014 by itnerd

This was a plot twist that I did not see coming.

You might recall that Microsoft was actively fighting an order to hand over data from servers located in Ireland under the logic that you cannot serve warrants to search property in other countries. The district judge presiding over the case agreed with the government and ordered Microsoft to comply with its demands to hand over the data.

Here’s the plot twist: Microsoft cut a deal with the U.S. government in which the company would be held on contempt charges but would not be penalized for it until after the outcome of an appeal. The district judge endorsed the agreement (Warning: PDF).

I am not a lawyer, but it looks like to me that Microsoft is trying to force a clear judgment so everyone going forward knows what the rules are. It may win. It may lose. But this is a very good tactic.

More on this as it develops.

RIP: MSN Messenger

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 31, 2014 by itnerd

After more than 15 years of being live, Microsoft is putting MSN Messenger out to pasture on October 31st. Now most users were flipped over to Skype a while ago. But that didn’t include China as there is still a substantial market for MSN Messenger apparently.

Who knew?

Those users will now be flipped over to Skype as well. As recently as 2010, Windows Live Messenger had about 300 million active users, ranking it as the number one instant messenger platform in the world at the time, according to Microsoft’s blog. But it’s usage plummeted as other services came online.

Do you have any fond memories of MSN Messenger? Post a comment and share them with your fellow readers.

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