Archive for Microsoft

Microsoft Kills Off Zune Music Service

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 16, 2015 by itnerd

The news came out yesterday via Network World that Microsoft has put the final nail in the coffin of the Zune Music Service. For those of you who have no clue what I am talking about, Microsoft tried (and failed) to challenge the iPod by coming out with a device called the Zune and a music service that was similar to iTunes to support it. It crashed and burned in spectacular fashion and was finally killed off in 2011. But not before a high profile failure of every Zune device on the planet back in 2008. For the few people who actually care about the Zune Music Service, it will be folded into Groove Music. Though it should be noted that if you actually bought music off this service, it may not play. Charming.

One question, does anyone actually still use a Zune?

First “Major” Windows 10 Update Pushed Out By Microsoft

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 13, 2015 by itnerd

Happy Friday. Even if it’s Friday the 13th. Microsoft Windows 10 users may find that this is a good day or perhaps a bad day depending on the results of installing the first “major” update that the company has begun to push out to Windows 10 users. Reasons to update…. Not that you have a choice….. Include:

  • The usual performance improvements and bug fixes.
  • Improvements to Cortana as well as making it (her?) available to users in Japan, Australia, Canada and India
  • Improvements to Edge, Mail, Calendar, Photos, Groove, Xbox, Store, OneNote, and Solitaire. I for one have been looking forward to those improvements to Solitaire.

There’s specific enterprise focused improvements as well. Including the ability for enterprises to control what updates get installed…. Something that I wish would make its way to consumers…. But I digress.

This update should be hitting your Windows 10 powered computer now. If you’ve got feedback, please leave a comment below and share your experience.

In Depth: Microsoft’s Focus On Small/Medium Business

Posted in Products with tags on November 13, 2015 by itnerd

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Andy Sanborn, Senior Business Strategy Manager at Microsoft in regards to Microsoft’s focus on small and medium business. This is a topic of interest to me as I run a small business, a lot of the clients that I serve are small and medium sized businesses, and small and medium sized businesses drive a significant portion of our economy.

Now, I have been around long enough to remember that the only way that you got any attention from Microsoft directly was to be a big business. As in, you have hundreds or thousands of employees. Plus, the only solutions that they brought to the table were ones with William H. Gates III stamp of approval. But after speaking to Mr. Sanborn, I now see that Microsoft is a very different company. For example, Microsoft now has solutions tailored for small business. I can highlight the following as examples:

  • Microsoft is platform agnostic. Seriously they are. That’s best highlighted by the fact that Microsoft solutions and services are available on any device. For example, you can use Office 365 on your PC or Mac, but store and access your files on OneDrive on your Android, iOS or Windows Phone device. That way you can choose to use the devices that work for you rather than be forced into a particular ecosystem. Thus they’re no longer the company that popularized the term “embrace, extend, extinguish.”
  • You get multiple channels to access Microsoft. Whether it’s via phone, online via, or in a Microsoft Store location, you can pick the path that works best for you. Regardless of which channel you choose, you’re going to get advice that is focused on a business audience before you purchase which I consider to be very valuable. Plus you’re going to get access to a suite of phones, tablets, software and computers from a variety of vendors.
  • Microsoft can help you to be leverage all of this to make your business more agile and kick it up to the next level. Be it cloud, Windows 10, or Windows powered hardware.

All the above points are true whether you’re someone like me who is running a company by themselves or you’re a growing business. At the end of our conversation, it was clear to me that Microsoft really wants to make this work. I think that once Microsoft gets some momentum going behind this, other companies (read: Apple) will have to step up their game in terms of how they handle small and medium businesses because this approach will make Microsoft the destination for small businesses wishing to leverage technology more efficient. Kudos to them for providing the resources that businesses need to be successful.

Windows 10 Data Colleciton Is For Your Own Good Says Microsoft

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 5, 2015 by itnerd

Windows 10 as I’ve noted previously has some really bad privacy related issues. But in an interview with PC World, Microsoft corporate vice president Joe Belfiore actually defended this rather intrusive collection of data that has generated so much negative press:

Windows 10 also currently requires that all users hand over some information about how their devices are being used — what Microsoft calls basic telemetry. That information relates to things like when and how Windows 10 crashes, and Microsoft Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore said in an interview that the company needs that information to improve the experience of using its operating system.

“And in the case of knowing that our system that we’ve created is crashing, or is having serious performance problems, we view that as so helpful to the ecosystem, and so not an issue of personal privacy, that today, we collect that data so that we make that experience better for everyone,” he said.

In Belfiore’s view, Microsoft’s current setup properly addresses users’ privacy concerns, since it lets them opt out of the collection of personal information. For those tracking features that users can’t opt out of, he said the company doesn’t consider them to be a privacy issue.

“And in the cases where we’ve not provided options, we feel that those things have to do with the health of the system, and are not personal information or are not related to privacy,” he said.

So basically what Microsoft is saying is “trust us, this data collection is for your own good.” Sorry, you’ll excuse me if I don’t buy that. Corporate users clearly didn’t which is why Microsoft allows Windows 10 Enterprise users to disable all data collection including telemetry data. But interestingly, the folks in Redmond don’t recommend that the average Joe do that. One has to wonder why….

Does any of this have you freaked out? Or is this much ado about nothing? Chime in via the comments section below.

Microsoft Slashes OneDrive Storage Limits Because Of Abuse

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 3, 2015 by itnerd

If you’re a Microsoft OneDrive user, you’re likely used to getting some pretty generous storage limits. For example, Office 365 subscribers unlimited space for whatever they wanted to use it for. Those days are now over. Microsoft has announced that it’s reducing the limit to 1 TB, citing abuse:

Since we started to roll out unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers, a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings. In some instances, this exceeded 75 TB per user or 14,000 times the average. Instead of focusing on extreme backup scenarios, we want to remain focused on delivering high-value productivity and collaboration experiences that benefit the majority of OneDrive users.

The 100 GB and 200 GB plans are being eliminated for new users and will be replaced with a 50 GB plan for $1.99 a month, which will launch in early 2016. Free OneDrive users will see their storage decreased from 15 GB to 5 GB, with the 15 GB camera roll storage bonus also being eliminated. These changes will also roll out in early 2016. Users will have up to a year to get down under the new caps.

My $0.02 worth? Advertising an unlimited service and then yanking it when people abuse it will rub those who did nothing wrong the wrong way. But if Microsoft goes after only those who abuse the service, their defense is going to be “hey, you said it’s unlimited.” And I am guessing that the status quo is not an option. Thus they’re caught in the classic dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t situation. I wouldn’t want to be the product owner for OneDrive at Microsoft because this decision has likely made him really unpopular.

Another thing. How would they know about “entire movie collections” being stored? That kind of implies that they were snooping around. Now I am not naive enough to expect privacy on a cloud service run by a third party. But the fact that Microsoft knew what was being stored kind of took me aback.

Microsoft To Deep Six Windows 7 & 8.1 On New PCs Next November

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 3, 2015 by itnerd

If you want to buy a PC with Windows 7 or (for whatever reason) Windows 8.1, the clock is ticking. Microsoft’s “Windows lifecycle fact sheet” shows October 31, 2016, as the “end of sales for PCs with Windows preinstalled” for both Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8.1,

This doesn’t affect those who have Windows 7 or 8.1 already. If you want to continue running Windows 7, extended technical support will be available until January 14, 2020. The date for Windows 8.1 users is January 10, 2023. In either case, you’ll still be able to get security patches, bug fixes and other updates. Another thing to keep in mind is that due to the fact that Windows 8.1 received such a tepid reception, Microsoft extended the sales lifecycle of Windows 7 as it should have ended at this time last year. Clearly, all of this is meant to drive adoption of Windows 10 which I’ve said is a good effort from Microsoft despite the privacy issues that exist and the fact that you can’t refuse updates which can end badly for you. Let’s see if it gets them closer to having that OS on 1 billion devices.

Windows 10 To Become “Recommeded” Update

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 30, 2015 by itnerd

If you pay a visit to the Windows Experience Blog, you’ll see that the latest post that’s on it has some news that will be of interest to Windows 7 and 8.x users:

We will soon be publishing Windows 10 as an “Optional Update” in Windows Update for all Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers. Windows Update is the trusted, logical location for our most important updates, and adding Windows 10 here is another way we will make it easy for you to find your upgrade.

Early next year, we expect to be re-categorizing Windows 10 as a “Recommended Update”. Depending upon your Windows Update settings, this may cause the upgrade process to automatically initiate on your device. Before the upgrade changes the OS of your device, you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue. And of course, if you choose to upgrade (our recommendation!), then you will have 31 days to roll back to your previous Windows version if you don’t love it.

This may not be such a bright idea as Microsoft was criticized in September when users complained that Windows 10 was being automatically downloaded to some computers even if they didn’t indicate they were interested in upgrading. So they have to imagine that there would be an instant backlash the second that this blog post went online. Thus they have this statement as cover:

If you are on a metered connection on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, then you have the option of turning off automatic updates. We strongly discourage this in today’s connected world because of the constant risk of internet threats. If you choose to do so, we recommend manually checking Windows Update frequently, perhaps when you are on a non-metered network and consider the installation of all “Recommended” and “Important” updates. Windows 10 will not automatically download updates on a metered connection unless there is a security issue addressed within the update. In addition, Windows 10 contains a number of features for those on metered connections, including monitoring data usage by application and setting data usage quotas.

My $0.02 worth goes something like this. I really don’t care how Microsoft cloaks this, but I really get the impression that users are having Windows 10 forced upon them. I get why they’re doing this, but I think they need to take a different approach to encouraging the adoption of Windows 10. I’ve said it’s a good OS…. With the exception of those privacy related issues…. But Microsoft’s methods to get it onto as many computers as possible suck. My advice to them would be to rethink this as they’re not making friends by doing what they’re currently doing.


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