Archive for the ‘microsoft’ Category

Microsoft’s romance with open source software is on display at Build 2020

May 21st, 2020

An absolute ton of new announcements has been coming out of this week's Microsoft Build 2020 virtual conference for Windows developers. While cool, most of them are a little thin for individual reports—so we'll get you up to speed on them in this roundup, with links out to each topic if you're interested in more.

Windows Terminal goes 1.0

As Windows 10—and Server 2019—pack in more and better command-line functionality, one of the parts of the overall experience that began looking shabby by comparison is the terminal itself.

Windows Terminal seeks to change that, and it's just gone 1.0. The terminal itself is open source and is available for perusal and/or hacking at Github under the MIT license. Microsoft's own announcement makes a point of individually crediting 14 contributors by name and acknowledging hundreds more, which is a more-than-welcome sea change for those of us old enough to have lived through the Halloween Documents era.

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Posted in build 2020, EDGE, Fluid, microsoft, Microsoft Teams, Tech | Comments (0)

Google pledges not to make custom software for oil and gas extraction

May 20th, 2020
A serious man in a suit speaks into a microphone.

Enlarge / Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in 2018. (credit: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images)

Google says that it will not "build custom AI/ML algorithms to facilitate upstream extraction in the oil and gas industry," the company announced on Tuesday. This represents a small but significant win for climate activists.

Google's comment coincided with the release of a new Greenpeace report highlighting the role of the three leading cloud-computing services—Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure—in helping companies find and extract oil and gas. Greenpeace notes that extracting known fossil fuel reserves would already be sufficient to push the world over 2 degrees of warming. Uncovering additional reserves will ultimately lead to even more warming.

Climate activists argue that these contracts run counter to the tech giants' broader efforts to fight climate change. All three companies have pledged to make their data centers carbon neutral in the coming decade. Amazon is seeking to bring the entire company's net carbon emissions down to zero by 2040. Jeff Bezos even pledged $10 billion of his own money to fund efforts to combat climate change.

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Posted in amazon, climate change, global warming, google, microsoft, Policy, science | Comments (0)

To compete with Gmail, Microsoft reveals plans for new Web-based Outlook features

May 11th, 2020
Microsoft Outlook for the Web.

Enlarge / Microsoft Outlook for the Web. (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Outlook for the Web has the unenviable task of competing with a dominant Gmail—and much of Gmail's competitive advantage is thanks to ML-driven features like text prediction. But Microsoft is taking a step to face off directly with one of the features associated with modern Gmail—text prediction and completion.

In the past week, the company updated its publicly visible roadmap for Microsoft 365 features to include "Outlook on the Web - text predictions." The feature's description reads: "Using smart technology, Outlook will predict text while you type. Just use the Tab key to accept the text prediction." This suggests the feature would work very similarly to the way it does in Gmail.

Microsoft also plans to introduce a "send later" feature for scheduling outgoing emails, the "ability to view and assign categories to tasks," support for personal calendars that can affect work calendar availability, the ability to RSVP to meetings from the messages list, a mobile Web redesign, an overall redesign of the tasks interface, and a new editor with "capabilities powered by Microsoft 365," among many other things.

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Posted in email, gmail, microsoft, Office 365, Outlook, Tech | Comments (0)

Microsoft unveils a ton of new Surface devices, including the Surface Book 3

May 6th, 2020
Microsoft's new Surface devices

Enlarge / Microsoft's latest suite of Surface PCs and headphones. (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft on Wednesday launched several new devices under its Surface brand of PCs and consumer tech. Headlining the announcements are the Surface Book 3, the company’s latest high-performance two-in-one laptop with a detachable display, and the Surface Go 2, a lower-cost two-in-one tablet that’s designed like a smaller Surface Pro.

Beyond that, Microsoft is branching out with its lineup of audio accessories. The company unveiled the Surface Headphones 2, an updated pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones, and confirmed a price and release date for the Surface Earbuds, the set of AirPods-esque true wireless earbuds it first unveiled in October.

All the new Surface gadgets are now available to pre-order and will start shipping to customers later this month. Most of the new devices aren’t radical departures from past Surface hardware, but we’ll dig a bit deeper into the new machines below.

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Posted in microsoft, Surface, surface book 3, surface earbuds, surface go 2, surface headphones, Tech, Windows 10 | Comments (0)

New earnings report shows Microsoft’s shift to cloud and subscriptions is working

May 1st, 2020
Promotional image of desktop computer.

Enlarge / Xbox Series X, due in late 2020. It's tall. And it has a modified controller compared to the Xbox One pad. (credit: Xbox)

The gauntlet of tech earnings reports has mostly come to a close, and there's a wide range of performance. Almost every part of the tech industry has been rattled by COVID-19, but Microsoft managed to report accelerated growth and strong performance for all of its businesses. It's a sign that the software company's efforts to reinvent itself may be working—and that cloud and subscription services will define the company (and with it, customers' experiences with its products) for years to come.

Microsoft's Q3 2020 earnings report showed significant growth for all three of the company's business segments, which hasn't even always happened in a "normal" quarter. Productivity, which includes services like Office and LinkedIn, grew 16 percent year over year to $11.7 billion in revenue—that's a small step down compared to $11.8 in the immediate preceding quarter. Cloud, which includes Azure and GitHub, grew 27 percent year over year to $12.3 billion. And personal computing—an umbrella that covers Windows, Xbox, and Surface—grew a more modest 3 percent year over year to $11 billion.

All told, Microsoft's revenue for the quarter was $35 billion, down $2 billion from the previous quarter but up 15 percent from last year's Q3. Even Xbox, which saw an 11 percent drop last quarter, grew by three points. Microsoft this week announced that Xbox Game Pass, a Netflix-like subscription for accessing about 100 games on the Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms, reached 10 million subscribers—more evidence that subscription services and the like are now integral to the company's strategy across all its businesses.

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Posted in azure, cloud services, earnings, microsoft, Microsoft Azure, Stock Market, Tech | Comments (0)

DoD internal investigation finds DoD handled JEDI contract properly

April 15th, 2020
An aerial view of the Pentagon, the Potomac river, and parts of Washington, DC, taken back before a pandemic started keeping most of those cars in the commuter lot at home.

Enlarge / An aerial view of the Pentagon, the Potomac river, and parts of Washington, DC, taken back before a pandemic started keeping most of those cars in the commuter lot at home. (credit: Matthew Borkoski Photograpy | Getty Images )

The Department of Defense's internal probe into a controversial $10 billion cloud-computing contract concluded that the process by which the contract was awarded was proper and not influenced by President Donald Trump or members of his administration—despite the fact that the White House declined to cooperate with the investigation.

The DoD Office of Inspector General circulated the report (a 317-page PDF) on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract (JEDI) award internally on Monday and made it public today. In the end, the inspectors determined the evidence showed DoD personnel who made the decision were neither pressured by the White House directly nor by senior DoD officials who may have been in communication with the White House, even though "media swirl" made it seem otherwise.

Many enterprise computing vendors threw their hats in the ring for the JEDI contract. By April 2019, the shortlist was down to two finalists: Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure. Industry experts and observers largely expected Amazon to win the contract and were generally surprised when the Pentagon sealed the deal with Microsoft in October.

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Posted in amazon, Department of Defense, DOD JEDI Contract, jedi, microsoft, oracle, Pentagon, Policy | Comments (0)

Microsoft patches 4 Windows 0days under active exploit

April 14th, 2020
A man looks at the home screen for the "new" Windows 7 platform when it was  launched in October 2009.  Microsoft has ended support, but the OS lives on.

Enlarge / A man looks at the home screen for the "new" Windows 7 platform when it was launched in October 2009. Microsoft has ended support, but the OS lives on. (credit: Katie Collins - PA Images / Getty Images)

Microsoft has patched four actively exploited vulnerabilities that allow attackers to execute malicious code or elevate system privileges on devices that run Windows.

Two of the security flaws—tracked as CVE-2020-1020 and CVE-2020-0938—reside in the Adobe Type Manager Library, a Windows DLL file that a wide variety of apps use to manage and render fonts available from Adobe Systems. On supported operating systems other than Windows 10, attackers who successfully exploit the vulnerabilities can remotely execute code. On Windows 10, attackers can run code inside an AppContainer sandbox. The measure limits the system privileges malicious code has, but even then, attackers can use it to create accounts with full user rights, install programs, and view, change, or delete data.

Attackers can exploit the flaws by convincing a target to open a booby-trapped document or viewing it in the Windows preview pane. Tuesday’s advisories said that Microsoft is “aware of limited, targeted attacks that attempt to leverage” both vulnerabilities. Microsoft revealed last month that one of the bugs was being exploited in limited attacks against Windows 7 machines.

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Posted in Biz & IT, exploits, microsoft, patch tuesday, Security Flaws, updates, vulnerabilities, Windows | Comments (0)

GitHub sharply slashes plan pricing, offers core features for free to all

April 14th, 2020
Cartoon octopus-cat is flying on a jet pack.

GitHub's octocat. (credit: GitHub)

Software hosting and version-control platform GitHub has made some sweeping changes to its plans and offerings, extending free service to far more teams and users than before while slashing prices for access to some key features by half.

Arguably the most important change is that unlimited repositories and collaborators are now offered as part of the free tier, even if the project is private. Previously, GitHub offered unlimited repositories for free only to public projects or with a small number of users, which precluded use of the free tier by several different types of teams, organizations, and companies. Now the key differences between the free tier and the lowest-cost paid tier are the latter's addition of code owners and required reviewers—admittedly still critical for many orgs. (It also expands the available storage and number of actions per month.)

Further, that entry-level paid tier now costs just $4 per user per month instead of $9 previously. GitHub still offers a more expensive tier ($21) with SAML sign-on and greatly expanded storage and actions, as well as the specialized GitHub One service with prices privately and individually negotiated by account managers with high-value customers.

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Posted in GitHub, microsoft, Nat Friedman, software development, Tech, TechCrunch, version control | Comments (0)

Office 365 is now Microsoft 365, and it’s getting new apps and features

April 1st, 2020

Starting April 21, Microsoft’s Office 365 personal and family subscription suite will be renamed Microsoft 365 in a move that heralds an effort by the company to win over more consumer users.

Seeking to make a point with the rebranding, Microsoft calls it “a subscription service for your life,” which might conjure visions of Amazon Prime. Microsoft 365 will cost $6.99 per month, and a six-user, $9.99 family plan will also be offered. Its apps will be available on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

It will include Office applications like Word and Excel as Office 365 has, but it comes with a promise of new apps and services both today and in the future. In a blog post describing the new service, Microsoft wrote that Microsoft 365 will offer “new artificial intelligence (AI), rich content and templates, and cloud-powered experiences.”

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Posted in microsoft, microsoft 365, Microsoft office, Office 365, productivity, SaaS, subscriptions, Tech | Comments (0)

No, Microsoft isn’t killing the Control Panel off just yet

March 27th, 2020
We find Windows 10's Settings dialog difficult to love.

Enlarge / We find Windows 10's Settings dialog difficult to love. (credit: Jim Salter)

You may have seen dark rumors around the Web that Microsoft is about to kill off the classic Control Panel. Rest assured, friend, we were as horrified as you are—but on more careful inspection, this seems not to be the case.

A new set of Feature IDs popped up in the latest build of Windows 10—HideSystemControlPanelSystemControlPanelFileExplorerRedirect, and SystemControlPanelHotkeyRedirect. This looks grim—but fortunately, developer Rafael Rivera discovered they really only apply to the System applet.

Settings vs Control

For about eight years now, Microsoft has been trying to pry everyone loose from the Control Panel and guide them gently to the newer Settings applet instead. They've encountered strong resistance in doing so, particularly from systems administrators and support technicians. For one thing, the newer Settings applet is a single-instance interface—you can't have Settings open for, say, printers and the network at once. Pick one.

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Posted in Biz & IT, control panel, microsoft, settings, Windows 10 | Comments (0)