Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

01.7
15

Microsoft’s device share growth to outpace Apple’s through 2016

by admin ·

Gartner’s forecast downgrades Apple’s OS expected share to 11.3% this year, 11.6% in ’16

Microsoft’s share of shipped devices will climb slightly this year and pick up some steam in 2016, but Apple’s share will grow at a more sluggish pace because of slow-downs in iPhone and iPad, Gartner forecast Monday.

For 2015, Windows’ share of the operating systems on all devices — smartphones, tablets, PCs, ultra-lights and hybrids — will climb to 14.4%, up from 14% last year, Gartner said in new estimates. It claimed that shipments would increase by less than 7%, to 355 million.

As it did several times last year, Gartner downgraded Windows’ numbers for 2015 Monday: Its October 2014 forecast pegged Windows at 14.6% by the end of this year.

Gartner projected Windows’ share in 2016 would climb to 15.3% on the back of 396.3 million devices shipped, a year-over-year increase of almost 11%, the largest boost since 2013, when PC sales began a prolonged contraction.

Microsoft wasn’t the only OS maker whose forecast worsened in Gartner’s latest estimate. Apple will also grow its share at a slower tempo than anticipated by several predictions of 2014.

Apple finished 2014 with an operating system share of 11% by virtue of about 262.6 million devices shipped, said Gartner, and should see its slice of the OS pie grow to 11.3% in 2015. That’s less than the 11.6% pegged in the October forecast.

The Cupertino, Calif. company’s share will reach that 11.6% — but now not until the end of 2016, Gartner said today.

Those numbers were significantly under the aggressive estimate Gartner touted a year ago; in January 2014, it predicted Apple’s share would reach 13.9% in 2014 and a whopping 15.9% in 2016, hot on the heels of Windows.

They also represented year-over-year increases in devices shipped of 6% for this year and 7% for the next, the numbers in marked contrast to the double-digit growth Apple experienced in 2013 and 2014.

What happened to make Gartner change its prognostication tune?
Its analysts cited Apple’s two largest-volume lines, the iPad and iPhone, for their change of heart, pointing — like many other analysts have in 2014 — to a longer-than-anticipated refresh cycle for Apple’s tablet and the belief that Apple will find it tougher showing iPhone growth in the future as it runs low of new markets and has a difficult time topping the iPhone 6 line.

“The challenge for the next iPhone to find significant growth becomes greater [in 2015 and 2016],” Ranjit Atwal, a Gartner analyst, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Gartner’s forecast for Android got more bullish than ever on Monday. By the end of 2015, Android will have captured 58.9% of the device share — up from an October 2014 forecast of 57.4% and a January 2014 bet of just 47.8% — and will grow even larger in 2016, accounting for 62.9% of all smartphones and tablets in two years.


 

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01.3
15

What Microsoft’s ‘fresh start’ browser strategy means

by admin ·

A new browser not named ‘IE’ would give Microsoft ways to leave legacy support behind

Microsoft will unveil a browser not named Internet Explorer (IE) alongside Windows 10, according to an online report.

Long-time Microsoft watcher and ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley cited unnamed sources on Monday to say that the browser would be separate from the existing IE, would sport a minimalist user interface (UI), and would support extensions, sometimes called add-ons, much like Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox.

Separately, Neowin claimed that Microsoft has forked its Trident browser rendering engine to create a more lightweight version that would be called when IE encounters a modern site, one that doesn’t require support for older IE standards. In Neowin’s scenario, there would not be two different browser UIs; the use of the streamlined Trident engine — or the existing, backwards-compatible version — would be automatic and invisible to the user of what the publication thought would be eventually dubbed IE12.

Meanwhile, Foley said that the new browser — code named “Spartan” — will be included with Windows 10, perhaps as the default, but will also be accompanied by a refreshed IE11. The latter will be offered for those who need backwards compatibility with older websites and more importantly, older Web apps.

A name other than IE for the new browser would not be a surprise: In August Microsoft hinted that it was thinking of just that. “The discussion I recall seeing was a very recent one [just a few weeks ago]. Who knows what the future holds?” teased Jonathan Sampson of Microsoft in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” online discussion, while answering a question about a name change to distance the browser from lingering negative perceptions.

In the end, it may not matter whether Microsoft forks the browser into two separate applications or just forks the Trident engine. The result would be the same: One browser/engine that goes forward, another browser/engine that remains static as an option primarily for businesses, the customers who most require compatibility with older sites — mainly their own intranet domains — and older Web apps used by their employees.

Microsoft’s strategy? To have a fresh start on browsers, and leave the cumbersome legacy support required of IE behind. The browser/engine of the future would be aggressively updated — as will all of Windows — while the browser/engine of the past would be maintained but not significantly enhanced.

If that’s the idea, Microsoft’s abrupt announcement in August that it was forcing users to upgrade to IE11 makes more sense in hindsight. Then, Microsoft told customers that after Jan. 12, 2016, only IE11 would be supported with security updates on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Pushing users toward IE11 could thus be seen as the first announced step — necessary in 2014 to give customers, particularly conservative corporations, time to make the move — in a broader plan to deemphasize that version as Microsoft prepared to unveil and aggressively promote a new browser or at least a new browser engine.

According to analytics vendor Net Applications, IE11 accounted for 43% of all versions of IE run in November, making it the most-used edition.

By consolidating users on IE11, Microsoft not only reduces its own support costs — fewer versions of IE to support — but prepares customers for a future where only IE11 boasts the kind of backward compatibility necessary for enterprises.

Other promises Microsoft made in August back that speculation, as it pledged that the legacy support tool introduced in April, “Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11,” would be maintained, improved and supported on Windows 7 through its retirement date of January 14, 2020. By continuing to maintain Enterprise Mode for IE11, Microsoft would be able to tell companies to standardize on that browser if they needed to support legacy websites and apps. Others would be able to move to the new browser — if Foley is correct — or use the new lighter-weight Trident engine, assuming Neowin is more on the mark.

A brand new browser, however, would give Microsoft an advantage over offering two rendering engines within one named IE.

Historically, Microsoft has supported a version of IE until the end of support for the edition of Windows it ran on. Although that policy is now in tatters because of the January 2016 deadline — IE10’s support on Windows 7 was chopped by seven years with that decision — a new, separate browser as Foley outlined would let Microsoft make even more radical moves.

Other browsers, including Chrome and Firefox, are patched only in their latest versions. Because Google and Mozilla update their browsers every six to eight weeks, users must keep pace or risk running a vulnerable application.

Microsoft may want to follow in their footsteps: In fact, the FAQ dedicated to the January 2016 deadline noted rivals’ practices as a reason for those changes. “Focusing support on the latest version of Internet Explorer for a supported Windows operating system is in line with industry standards,” the FAQ read (emphasis added).

A newly-named browser would allow Microsoft to change its support policy for that application to match Chrome’s and Firefox’s. In other words, if Microsoft releases a browser named “Spartan,” it might tell customers that they need to run the latest update to receive patches, then update that browser every few weeks. (In 2014, Microsoft patched IE every month.)

For those unable to keep up, Microsoft could point them toward IE11 and its Enterprise Mode, which would presumably be provided with patches as usual. Customers would not need to be running only the latest IE11 update to receive more fixes.

That kind of browser split — Spartan (or whatever name it’s eventually given) on one hand, IE11 on the other — would match how Microsoft will handle Windows 10: Consumers will receive automatic OS updates, probably monthly, in lieu of occasional upgrades, while businesses will be able to opt for one of two slower tempos.

More information about Microsoft’s Jan. 12, 2016, deadline for upgrading to the newest browser for each version of Windows can be found on the company’s website.

Microsoft has scheduled a press and analyst event for Jan. 21 in Redmond, where it will unveil the next iteration of the Windows 10 preview. That version will focus on consumer features, and may include the new browser or rendering engine.


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11.10
14

Patch Tuesday: 16 security advisories, 5 critical for Windows

by admin ·

All supported versions of Windows are affected including Windows 10 technical preview

Microsoft is issuing the largest number of monthly security advisories since June 2011, five of them critical and affecting all supported versions of Windows. And applying the patches will be time consuming, experts say.

“Next week will tell us how many CVEs are involved but suffice to say, this patch load will be a big impact to the enterprise,” says Russ Ernst, the director of product management for Lumension.

Generally, Microsoft alternates between patching Windows and updating applications in order to keep down the number of machines that need attention each month, says Chris Goettl, a product manager with Shavlik. This batch includes critical updates for .NET Framework, Office 2007, Exchange and SharePoint.

“Exchange and SharePoint being in the mix means that there will be a need for some thorough testing before rolling out updates,” he says. “.NET Framework also is getting an update this month, which usually means a little longer time on the maintenance window as those patches tend to take a little longer than the average OS patch to install.”

Also in the mix this month is Windows 10, formally Windows Technical Preview, which is in line for five updates ranked critical, says Goettl. “It would be a good idea to run this and see how well the patches apply. The updates will be available through Windows Update and Microsoft is encouraging people to apply them,” he says.

The five critical bulletins are about fixes to block potential remote code execution on victimized machines, says Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek. Here is his summary of these bulletins:

Bulletin 1 is rated critical for all version of Windows and has RCE potential, i.e. the type of vulnerability that allows an attacker to take control over the affected machine.
Bulletin 2, critical as well and covers all versions of Internet Explorer IIE from IE6 on Windows 2003 to IE11 on Windows 8.1.
Bulletin 3 addresses an RCE type vulnerability present in all version of Windows and is critical to patch as soon as possible.
Bulletin 4 covers a vulnerability that is rated critical on desktop systems and important on server operating systems.
Bulletin 5 is rated critical on server operating systems but has no criticality rating on desktop systems, even though they seem to contain the vulnerability. “We will have to see what is really going on there next Tuesday,” he says.

The advanced security bulletins include nine that are ranked important, which means they require user action in order to be exploited. They address vulnerabilities in Windows, Windows Server, Exchange, and .NET Framework. Possible exploits include elevation of privilege, remote code execution, security feature bypass and information disclosure.

The remaining bulleting is ranked moderate and could result in denial of service attacks against Windows.


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11.6
14

Microsoft to focus on search apps with Bing

by admin ·

Director of search says he’s focused on integrating search into Microsoft products, services

Microsoft’s director of search admitted that its Bing search engine can’t compete with Google search in a full-on faceoff, but the company will focus instead on search applications.

Stefan Weitz, who leads Microsoft’s search efforts, told an audience at the Web Summit conference in Dublin on Tuesday that he’s less interested in Bing as a stand-alone search engine and more interested in integrating the technology into the company’s other products.

“The question is, where is search really going?” Weitz said, according to a report in The Register. “It’s unlikely we’re going to take share in [the pure search] space, but in machine learning, natural language search… and how we can make search more part of living. For us, it’s less about Bing.com, though that’s still important. It’s really about how we can instead weave the tech into things you’re already doing.”

By integrating search into different applications, Microsoft should be able to grab more search market share in the future, Weitz said, according to The Register.

“For pure keyword search, we’re around 30% in the U.S. — not so much in Europe,” he said. “But search in different areas of life? That mix is to be determined. I’m committed to making sure we have our fair share of search in the future.”

Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis, told Computerworld that Microsoft would be smart to focus less on a head-to-head competition with Google search and more on working Bing-based technology into Windows products.

“At the end of the day that isn’t a battle that can be fought right now,” Shimmin said. “It’s a matter of how inured we are with Google. It’s now become the, ‘Pass me a Coke or hand me a Kleenex.’ Our cultural norm has evolved around Google. It’s not just a search engine. It’s a knowledge engine that helps you find your way home or what time the Dodgers play.”

Five years after Microsoft released Bing, the search engine has not been the challenger to Google that Microsoft hoped it would be. While Bing hasn’t gained significant market share in those five years, it still remains second in search only to Google.

Earlier this year, Internet tracker comScore Inc. reported that Google still held 67.5% of the search market, while Bing had 18.6% and Yahoo, 10.1%.

A big part of the problem is that the name Google has become synonymous with search, and users have created a habit of using Google when they want to search for anything on the web.

Dave Schubmehl, an analyst with IDC, agreed that Bing has little chance of taking any significant amount of Google’s search market share.

“Google is pretty ingrained for most people on Web search, especially with the combination of Chrome and Android fueling initial queries to Google,” he said. “I really don’t think Bing has any way to overcome this advantage for standard search.”

That means Microsoft is more likely to find success with Bing if it’s worked into mobile applications and Microsoft’s enterprise-focused software.

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, noted that Cortana, an intelligent personal assistant on Windows Phone, is a search app.

“If you can add intelligence to the front end and your artificial intelligence is smart, you might be able to render traditional Google search redundant,” he added.

Microsoft already is working its search technology into some of its apps and services.

“Microsoft should invest in Bing as a means of differentiating its applications, predominantly Office and the Windows platform,” said Shimmin. “They literally are using technology built into Bing. They launched software called Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, and it uses tech from both Bing and Xbox to allow companies to take a data set and make predictions.”

If an Office 365 user needs to find something in the application, he could use built-in Bing to do it.

“They should focus on what has always made Microsoft important, and that is they are the interface for business users and many consumers,” Shimmin said. “If you open an Office document, shouldn’t search play in how you work with that document and shouldn’t it be Bing? Microsoft can make their platform and their apps more valuable through the power of search.”

Schubmehl said there is a lot of potential for search growth but it won’t be in the ways that search companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, have become accustomed.

As people use the Web less on their mobile devices, they’ll use mobile apps, such as Yelp, UrbanSpoon and Facebook, more.

“I believe Microsoft is looking to expand the landscape around search applications to include capabilities that work at both a personal and enterprise level, both for the Web and the emerging discovery opportunities around mobile data and applications,” said Schubmehl.

Instead of appearing to be the loser in the race with Google, Microsoft needs to reposition the battle and focus on reinforcing the real value of Bing to the company.

“They should rethink the battle they’re in because it’s not one they can win or should try to win,” said Shimmin. “I just don’t think they can out Google Google.”


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09.9
14

Microsoft rolls out Delve information and people discovery tool for Office 365

by admin ·

Microsoft has begun a months-long rollout of Delve, the first Office 365 application that taps into the suite’s Office Graph machine learning capabilities and maps connections between co-workers, documents and information.

Delve, announced in March with the code-name Oslo, is designed to automatically surface colleagues, files and data that are more relevant and important to users’ work.

Delve renders these connections via a very visual card-based interface, and bases its output on an analysis of a number of signals and elements from each individual user, such as Exchange Online email message exchanges, OneDrive for Business stored content, SharePoint Online collaboration activity and Yammer enterprise social networking interactions.
MORE ON NETWORK WORLD: 7 things on Microsoft’s 2014 to-do list

In the coming months, Delve will also be able to take into account email attachments, OneNote content and Lync Online IM and audio/video communications. The goal is to make work processes more intuitive to engage with and easier to navigate by highlighting for employees the data and connections they should prioritize. At least in theory, that should help employees focus on their most important tasks, colleagues and documents.

Microsoft plans to release more applications like Delve that leverage the Office Graph machine learning features and make Office 365 better at “understanding” each employee’s work process and customizing the user experience accordingly.

Delve is available to customers subscribing to Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3 and E4 plans; Education A2, A3 and A4 plans; and Government G1, G3 and G4 plans. Microsoft will roll it out first to subscribers of these plans that have signed up to get Office 365 upgrades ahead of everyone else, the so-called First Release option, and later to those in the Standard Release schedule. The company expects to finish this phase of the rollout by early 2015, Microsoft said on Monday.

In January 2015, Microsoft will begin to roll out Delve to subscribers to Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium, Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business.

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05.29
14

Microsoft debuts personalized patch dashboard for IT pros

by admin ·

Web-based myBulletins organizes security updates; gets a ‘C’ grade from one professional

Microsoft today launched a Web-based security dashboard for IT professionals that displays a customized view of the company’s past patches.

Called “myBulletins,” the dashboard shows the security updates for user-selected products, including the permutations of Windows, the iterations of Office and the various versions of its server-side software.

myBulletins displays a small graph that tallies the updates by Microsoft’s threat ranking system.

“[myBulletins is] a customizable online service that offers IT professionals a personalized list of the Microsoft security bulletins that matter most to their organization,” Tracey Pretorius, a director in the company’s Trustworthy Computing group, explained in a Wednesday blog.

The dashboard draws on the list of security bulletins — the latter is Microsoft’s term for its updates — that Microsoft has long published on its website. In some ways, it replaces that list’s search and filtering functions.

To use myBulletins, customers must log in with a Microsoft account, then step through a short wizard to select the product lines, a process that includes drilling down to specific products, like Office 2010, Windows 8.1, or SQL Server 2012.

Bulletins can be sorted by identifier, product, impact, severity and whether a reboot is required. The information can also be downloaded in Excel format for further manipulation.

One security professional was less than impressed.

“If their intent was to create a single customized dashboard of Microsoft security issues affecting my organization, then I’d have to give Microsoft a ‘C’ grade on this round,” said Andrew Storms, director of DevOps at San Francisco-based CloudPassage.

Storms dinged myBulletins for not providing notifications of new bulletins that met his criteria, for not offering direct links to the associated knowledge base articles Microsoft publishes on its support site, and for not including security advisories that outline vulnerabilities that have not yet been patched.

“They can’t send me a notification? I have to go and log in to this?” Storms asked. “I suspect they went for the minimum viable product here, but sadly for me, they are missing the two most important features: notifications and advisories.”

Most IT personnel have access to similar lists already, Storms noted, through WSUS (Windows Server Update Services), the Microsoft patch management tool that’s widely used in businesses. WSUS also shows those updates that have been applied to the organization, something myBulletins is incapable of duplicating, as it doesn’t actually scan a PC or group of PCs.

“If I just wanted to see all the security patches affecting my enterprise, then WSUS already provides that,” Storms said. “Maybe version 1.5 or later [myBulletins] might become more useful.”


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05.23
14

Why the Surface Pro 3 just killed Windows RT

by admin ·

Say good-bye to Windows RT. The introduction of the Surface Pro 3 just killed it, if not sooner, then later. Here’s why the operating system has not future.

With the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft has finally clarified its tablet strategy: Build productivity tablets that do double-duty as ultrabooks, and charge a premium for them. Aim them at the enterprise market, where Microsoft still has a stranglehold. Microsoft will be happy to pick up whatever mass-market consumers it can, but with the Surface Pro 3, that’s no longer its primary market.

There’s plenty of evidence for this. First is that Microsoft introduced a full-sized, powerful, expensive tablet/ultrabook combo rather than a low-priced Surface Mini as had been expected. In the mass market, smaller, less-expensive tablets are driving growth, not full-sized tablets. A most Gartner report on tablet sales for 2013 report concluded:

“The tablet growth in 2013 was fueled by the low-end smaller screen tablet market, and first time buyers.”

The Surface Pro 3 is anything but a low-end device, with a starting price of $799. Add a Surface Pro Type Cover and that cost goes up to $929. That’s not going to attract bargain hunters or first-time buyers. However, it won’t scare away enterprises who run their businesses on Microsoft software, including many legacy systems. It’s a reasonable price for an ultrabook that does double-duty as a tablet, particularly because it includes a very useful stylus.

Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar WorldPanel Comtech, told Computerworld that the Surface Pro 3 is clearly aimed at the corporate market, as a replacement for aging PCs:

“The enterprise is where they fit. And maybe it’s best to think about [the Surface Pro 3] as where the next replacement cycle for PCs will go, and how something like it gives companies an upgrade path for their [current] laptops and PCs.”

Even before the Surface Pro 3 introduction, some businesses were doing that with earlier Surface Pros, which are more expensive and have much smaller screens than the Surface Pro 3. In an email to Gregg Keizer of Computerworld, Fidel Deforte, the infrastructure and communications technology manager for the city of Cape Coral, said that he had started replacing some senior managers’ hardware with Surface Pros. Those managers had been typically using both a Windows notebook and an iPad. He wrote:

“I replaced [a manager’s] HP laptop and iPad (total value $2,600) with the Surface Pro 2 ($1,300) and she not only loves this, but sees that it is more flexible and efficient.”

With a 12-inch screen and a much-improved keyboard, The Surface Pro 3 is even more of a replacement for traditional computers, and should sell even better.

So where does that leave the Windows RT-based Surface line? Nowhere. By not releasing a Windows RT-based Surface 3, Microsoft made it plain where its future is in tablets — with businesses, not the mass market. Corporations won’t buy RT-based tablets because they can’t run desktop-based legacy apps. Consumers haven’t bought them because they simply don’t like them.

So whether it’s now or later, Microsoft will kill Windows RT. It simply doesn’t fit into the company’s new tablet strategy.


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03.15
14

If Microsoft gives away Windows Phone 8, will anyone take it?

by admin ·

In a bid to increase licensees and gain some badly needed market share, Redmond won’t charge for its phone OS anymore.

Rumors and speculation have swirled on this for months, but now it’s official: Microsoft is giving away Windows Phone for free, at least to a pair of Indian handset makers. If this can drive sales, it might become a worldwide policy, which could be the game-changer Microsoft needs and wants.

The Times of India first reported that Microsoft has waived Windows Phone licensing fees for Lava and Karbonn. Actually, the deal was somewhat telegraphed; last week, Karbonn announced that it was going to ship a dual-boot Android and Windows Phone device in June, and rumors of the deal were floating around at last month’s Mobile World Congress.

The Times of India says Microsoft has been negotiating with Indian manufacturers since last year, and that the two manufacturers only agreed to make Windows phones when Microsoft waived the licensing fees.

“Free Windows Phone is part of a strategic partnership. For both Microsoft and us, it is an experiment. Windows Phone still doesn’t have lot of appeal in the market but now that it doesn’t have any license fee, it becomes easier for us to experiment with it,” one unidentified executive told the Times.

If that sounds less than enthusiastic, you have to remember both Lava and Karbonn are already Google Android licensees and the phones that will run WP8 won’t exactly be on the same level as the Lumia 928 or 1520. These will be cheap, low-end phones for India’s mass market. It’s a huge market – over one billion people.

So this can’t really be viewed as a bellwether for the U.S. or other mature markets. No offense to Lava and Karbonn, but they won’t be selling the equivalent to a Galaxy S5 to the kind of buyers Samsung and Apple cater to in the West.

It makes for a good experiment to see if the low-end market can drive demand and increase interest in Windows Phone. After all, IDC puts its market share at just 3.9%.

One thing about a product: if it’s good, you can sell it for a high price. If it’s bad, you can’t give it away. I personally like Windows Phone and I’m only using an iPhone because I felt the Nokia hardware was inferior, with terrible battery life. If that rumored HTC One running WP8 or a Galaxy model running WP8 ever emerge, I’m there.

So let’s see if Microsoft can give away it’s phone OS. It’s not like the company hasn’t given away products before to grab market share. True, it’s never given away an OS, but right now it’s not really selling it, either.


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02.26
14

Free tools for Windows Server admins

by admin ·

Free tools for Windows Server admins

There are endless software tools and utilities out there to help you in managing your network. Here are some of the best free ones. They can help you with deploying, maintaining, troubleshooting, and upgrading Window Servers, your domain, and aid with other miscellaneous network tasks.

Best Practices Analyzer
Microsoft provides the Best Practices Analyzer tool right inside Windows Server, starting with Windows Server 2008 R2, available on each role’s home page in the Server Manager console. It scans and analyzes key settings of the server roles and reports compliance of them compared to the best practices standards. This can help you identify potential issues that may affect security and performance.

It scans for a variety of rules, including those relating to predeployment, security, performance, and configuration. Statuses shown in the results include compliant, noncompliant, and warning. (Watch the slideshow version of this story.)

Core Configurator
Starting with Windows Server 2008, there’s a Server Core installation option. It’s great if you want a minimal installation, but it only gives you the Command Prompt for the interface. However, there are tools that give you a GUI on the Core editions of Windows Server. You can setup and configure most features via the GUI rather than being forced to use text commands.

Core Configurator 2.0 supports Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 and Corefig is for Windows Server 2012 Core and Hyper-V Server 2012.

Exchange Server Deployment Assistant
Microsoft offers the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant, an online tool that asks you deployment related questions and then generates a custom step-by-step checklist to use during an Exchange install or upgrade.

It asks questions about your current configuration, desired deployment environment (on-premise, cloud, or hybrid), migration questions, and desired features/functionality. In the end you’re presented with a wizard type of checklist, which is saved so you can return later and can be printed out as well.

Role-based Access Control (RBAC) Manager
By default, you must use PowerShell commands to manage the new role-based access controls of Exchange, which debuted in Exchange 2010 and eliminates the use of access control lists (ACL). However, the Role-based Access Control (RBAC) Manager provides a GUI to edit these role-based access controls, which gives you the ability to easily add/remove cmdlets and edit cmdlet properties and assignments.

The RBAC Manager supports Exchange 2010 SP2, Exchange 2013 Preview and Office 365.

Exchange Reports
Exchange Reports provides you with insight on your Exchange server and environment, supporting Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013. It helps keeps you up-to-date with the server status, changes, and stats. It provides a group report and details on individual groups, mailbox report and details on individual mailboxes, an environment report, and it supports message tracking.

The program doesn’t require any installation, but requires .Net 4.0, Powershell 2.0, and Remote Powershell access to the Exchange Server. You can save reports and also export them to Excel.

Active Directory Explorer
Active Directory Explorer is an Active Directory viewer and editor, which you can use to browse the Active Directory database. You can view object properties and attributes, modify permissions, and view an object’s schema.

It supports saving off-line snapshots, creating favorite locations, and saving advanced searches. You can also compare two Active Directory snapshots to see what objects, attributes and security permissions changed between them.

Remote Desktop Manager
The Remote Desktop Manager provides a single platform for centralized access to many types of remote connections and remote services, along with the ability to save their passwords and login credentials. It can save you the time and hassle in managing and utilizing all the different types of remote access methods.

It can manage remote connections via Microsoft Remote Desktop (RDP, RemoteFX), Microsoft Windows Azure (RDP), Microsoft Hyper-V (RDP), Microsoft Remote Assistance, VNC (RealVNC / TightVNC / UltraVNC / built-in), Citrix (ICA / HDX / Web), Web (HTTP / HTTPS), LogMeIn (Free / Pro), TeamViewer, and PC Anywhere. It also supports management of FTP, FTPS and SFTP (Windows Explorer / Filezilla / WinSCP / built-in) and Telnet, SSH, RAW and rLogin (Putty / Kitty / built-in).

They offer a premium edition with a free 30-day trial but they also provide a completely free edition with limited functionality.

Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer
Microsoft provides the Remote Connectivity Analyzer, which can help you test and troubleshoot the connectivity of Exchange servers, Outlook, Lync, OCS, Office 365, and email (POP, IMAP, and STMP). It’s mostly an online tool, a website where you can input server addresses and login credentials in order to run the connectivity tests. It also provides a message header analyzer.

On the website you can also download the Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer Tool to run local tests to identify common connectivity issues for Outlook, Lync, and Office 365. And you can download the Microsoft Lync Connectivity Analyzer Tool to locally analyze a Lync deployment to see if it meets the requirements to support connections from Lync Windows Store app for Windows 8 and Windows RT, and from Lync mobile apps.

NetSetMan
As a network administrator you’re likely connecting to different networks or often changing your network settings. NetSetMan can help manage these different settings. You can save and switch between different profiles, which enable you to easily change your IP, DNS, and many more network-related settings.

In the profiles you can specify the Computer Name, Workgroup/Domain, and MAC Address. You can set a Proxy, SMTP Server, Browser Home Page, Default Printer, and Network Drives. You can also configure Hosts File Entries, Route Table, Scripts (BAT, VS, JS, etc), and other System Settings.


 

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01.24
14

Did Microsoft reach into your PC to stomp a botnet?

by admin ·

Report claims the company turned off botnet software on user’s PCs. Is that their right?

Microsoft took down yet another botnet, but its method for doing so many not sit well with a lot of people, as the company removed software from their computers without their knowledge.

In October 2013, Microsoft targeted a Tor-based botnet malware called “Sefnit,” which used the Tor network to anonymously perform click fraud. It was a fairly sizable network, with 3 million users per day, which hijacked user computers to click on ads that would make the Sefnit users money via a commission.

For those of you who don’t know, Tor, the abbreviated name for The Onion Router, is free software designed to protect online anonymity. Tor directs Internet traffic through a free, worldwide volunteer network designed to hide a user’s location or usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. While it’s popular with hactivists and people genuinely concerned about privacy, it’s also a haven for illegal activity, such as the Silk Road drug dealing website.

Microsoft went after the Tor software because it found some popular apps like Browser Protector and FileScout were bundled with a vulnerable version of Tor Browser & Sefnit components. It found infected PCs had v0.2.3.25 of Tor Browser, which did not self-update.

On October 27, 2013, Microsoft modified the antivirus signature database used by all of its security products to remove the Sefnit-added Tor client service from user PCs. The update was pushed through in the November Patch Tuesday update.

Microsoft estimates it got about 2 million copies of the malware, and there are another 2 million PCs to reach. A spokesperson for the company issued a statement that said “Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC) has protections to remove the services started by the Sefnit malware, but it does not uninstall Tor, remove any Tor binaries, or prevent users from using Tor.”

Now, I’ve busted out the pompoms for Microsoft’s antivirus efforts in the past, and no way will I make an exception. But I have to say that in the case of Sefnit, this looks like a lose-lose situation. They can’t leave it out there, but customers are bound to be unnerved by Microsoft removing a third-party product from their system, even if it is malicious.

Microsoft has already faced privacy issues around Kinect and Skype. This won’t help. They are doing the right thing, but it won’t help their image. I think this may call for more than just a blog post on their part.


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