Archive for Microsoft

Microsoft Rescues Lenovo Users From Lenovo Installed Adware

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on February 22, 2015 by itnerd

If you’re a user of a Lenovo computer and you are concerned about that evil adware that Lenovo themselves installed, don’t worry. Microsoft has your back.

You read that correctly. Microsoft is coming to the rescue of Lenovo users. In its latest update to Windows Defender, Microsoft has removed Superfish’s certificate entirely, which Microsoft believes will kill the program’s ability to run on Windows. That’s not a guarantee as the tech website Neowin will explain if you click here, but it’s better than nothing.

If you run Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, you have Windows Defender. Make sure you update it and use it to make your Lenovo system safer to make up for the fact that Lenovo made it horribly unsafe.

Microsoft Rolls Out Details Of Windows 10

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 21, 2015 by itnerd

This week has been a slow week in the tech space. However that changed today because Microsoft has announced details of Windows 10. Let me hit the highlights:

  • It’s going to be free. You read that correctly. Updates in the first year for Windows 7, 8.1 and even Windows Phone 8.1 users will be free. That’s sort of like what Apple has been doing for some time with OS X. And it helps them to get quick adoption of their OSes.
  • Windows Siri like assistant Cortana will be baked into the OS and it doesn’t matter if you’re on a desktop, tablet, or phone. And it’s been enhanced to be everywhere in everything that you do.
  • If you have a Windows 10 desktop and a Windows 10 tablet or phone, you’ll be able to unify the user experience across them. MS Office apps under Windows 10 will automatically sync your place so each time you zoom in on your calendar or flag an email or pick some photos to look at, those actions will be reflected on your other devices as well. OS X Yosemite users may not be impressed by this as they have had a flavor of this feature for months now.
  • Internet Explorer is dead. In its place is the Spartan browser. At least that is what it is codenamed. You can take notes by drawing onto the browser. You can rearrange web view to make them easier to read. And Cortana even works in the browser.
  • If you happen to have an Xbox One in your house, you’ll be able to stream games to a Windows 10 device. Not only that. There’s going to be an Xbox app. It will let you do things like interact with the Activity Feed, right from your desktop, laptop or tablet. It can list Xbox and Steam games alongside each other. Finally there is a game DVR feature that lets you capture and edit footage on your Windows 10 device in similar fashion to what can already be done on the Xbox One.
  • Microsoft is jumping into the virtual reality game with something called Hololens. They are Holographic Glasses that include a CPU, a GPU, and something Microsoft is calling a Holographic Processor. The latter is a big deal for Microsoft as they’re calling it “the next PC.” Cue the cynics. It will ship around the time Windows 10 hits the streets.
  • On top of showing off Windows 10 today, Microsoft showed off the Surface Hub. It’s a 84″ 4K TV that includes an all-in-one PC-come-display that is fully-loaded with sensors, WiFi, a mic, camera and Skype for Business. Clearly this is the net result of Microsoft’s purchase of Perspective Pixel a while back. It’s likely aimed at businesses, but it’s a safe bet that someone will buy it for their home to impress the neighbors.

There’s a lot here. So let me make life easy for you and link you to a blog entry on the Windows Blog.

PSA: Windows 7 Mainstream Support Ends Today

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

If you still run Windows 7 because Windows 8 is absolutely horrible then you might be interested in knowing that today is the end of free support for Windows 7. That means Microsoft will no longer offer free help and support if you have problems with your Windows 7 install from today onwards. Also, no new features will be added to Windows 7. So if you want support going forward from today, you’ll have to pay up or upgrade to a newer Microsoft OS. Windows 7 will now enter extended support, which means that security updates will keep coming and the final end of support for Windows 7 will be reached January 14, 2020.

 

Sony & Microsoft Gets “Pwned” As Playstation Network & Xbox Live Suffer DDoS Attacks

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

If you got a brand new Playstation or Xbox for Christmas, you’re likely wondering what was the point as both the Playstation Network and Xbox Live are under a distributed denial of service attack which is allegedly being carried out by a group called The Lizard Squad for the purposes of highlighting lax computer security by “brand name companies.” It’s attracted enough attention that the FBI is now involved:

The FBI is investigating a cyberattack that saw both Microsoft and Sony’s multiplayer gaming services knocked offline Christmas Day, people familiar with the matter told the Daily Dot. The FBI and the agent assigned to the case, however, declined to comment.

Now services on both networks are coming back online, if not already largely online, but I suspect that it will be a day or two before full services are restored. In the meantime, you might want take this advice:

And this advice:

Meanwhile, I have the members of Lizard Squad have good lawyers. One of them has been identified, and it likely won’t take too much effort to identify the rest.

 

 

Ford Punts Microsoft From Sync For QNX

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on December 12, 2014 by itnerd

You might recall that Ford partnered with Microsoft to produce the Sync system. That partnership appears to be over as Microsoft has been dumped for QNX which is a BlackBerry product. Here’s what AutoWeek has to say:

The new system, which Ford calls “Sync 3,” uses BlackBerry Ltd.’s in-car operating system, QNX, instead of the Microsoft Corp. technology that has underpinned Sync since its introduction in 2007. 
 
Sync 3 will be available starting in the 2016 model year and offered throughout the full Ford and Lincoln lineups by the end of the 2016 calendar year, Ford said today.
 
With Sync 3, Ford hopes to resolve the bugs and complaints that turned MyFord Touch from an industry-leading feature into a liability. Raj Nair, Ford’s product development chief and chief technical officer, said the company incorporated more survey data and feedback into Sync 3 than it has when rolling out any new vehicle.
 
Nair said Sync 3 — so named because it’s the third generation of Sync, with the second being MyFord Touch — is designed to be more intuitive and quicker than the current system, which Ford introduced in 2010 to make its vehicles stand out among technology-craving, smartphone-carrying consumers. He said it’s designed to be “device agnostic,” working with any type of smartphone, though it does include Siri Eyes Free capability for more seamless integration with Apple Inc.’s iPhones.
 
“We don’t want you making a purchase decision about a $30,000 automobile based on your $200 smartphone,” Nair told reporters at a demonstration this week.

The funny thing is that this was rumored almost 11 months ago. Clearly, it took a while to actually come true. I for one think this is a good move for Ford as both CarPlay from Apple and Android Auto from Google will force car companies who use neither to step up their game to keep pace. It also removes one hell of a boat anchor from around their neck.

As an aside, this is another boost to BlackBerry and a big slap to the face for Microsoft. I wonder how the former and latter will spin that?

Microsoft Forced To Pull Two Buggy Patch Tuesday Updates

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 12, 2014 by itnerd

One thing that I always tell my customers is that waiting a day or two to update their computers with whatever latest updates are shipped from Apple, Microsoft, or whomever is a good idea because every once in a while, you get an update that causes havoc.

Microsoft apparently has delivered two of them that have cause some degree of havoc.

  • The first one affects Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 users. If you installed update KB3004394, you got an update that was supposed to install new trusted root certificates into your Windows install. Instead, you lose the ability to install future updates. The fix is to follow the instructions in this document to get an update from Microsoft that fixes this.
  • The second one affects those who use Microsoft Exchange as their e-mail platform. On December 10, Microsoft announced that an issue was found in the Exchange Server 2010 SP3 Update Rollup 8, which could impact the ability of Outlook clients to connect to an Exchange server. In response, Microsoft has recalled the specific update and is trying to revise it to fix the problem. The company advises enterprise customers to hold off on this update or roll it back if already installed.

Buggy updates seem to have become a bit of a trend with Microsoft as of late. In October, Windows users were hit by four buggy updates and in August, Microsoft issued an update that affected the display of fonts and triggered the Blue Screen of Death. Clearly, Microsoft has some work to do on the QA front.

Microsoft Spreads Out To iOS & Android…. Buys App Company Too

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 11, 2014 by itnerd

It seems that Microsoft wants to be the center of your universe regardless of what platform you’re on. I cite these as examples:

  • The MSN suite of apps (News, Sports, Health & Fitness, Food & Drink and Money) is now available on iOS and Android; MSN Weather is out on Android, with an IOS release coming soon.
  • Office is now available on every platform that I can think of except maybe LINUX. That includes Apple and Google’s tablets which would have been unthinkable a short time ago. Even the Mac version of Office which was always the red headed stepchild of Microsoft doesn’t suck.

And today, they just bought HockeyApp. No Canada, it’s not an app related to your national pastime. It does something far more important for Microsoft:

Based in Stuttgart, Germany, HockeyApp offers a range of mobile development services enabling developers to develop, distribute, and beta test great mobile applications.  This includes:

  • Crash reporting.  Fast and precise crash reporting with easy app integration, rich crash analysis and support for connecting directly to existing workflows and bug tracking systems. 
  • Distribution and feedback.  Beta distribution and built-in user feedback system.
  • Cross-platform.  Support for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone provides a consistent developer experience across mobile devices.

In the coming months, we will introduce new iOS and Android SDKs for Application Insights  based on the features of HockeyApp.  Application Insights offers a 360-degree view of application usage, availability, and performance across both client and server/cloud application components.  Integrating HockeyApp crash reports with Application Insights usage analytics will extend device support for Application Insights across all major mobile platforms and make application analytics an ambient part of the application development cycle with support for all tiers of a modern “mobile first, cloud first” solution. 

So what this purchase will do is help Microsoft beef up their ability to come out with apps for non Microsoft platforms. Thus further enabling them to dominate the world. Or at least make lots of money which is just as good I suppose.

My, have times changed in Redmond.

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