Posts Tagged ‘Windows’


Best new Android & Windows smartphones at MWC 2015

by admin ·

Samsung, HTC, Sony and others debut brand new smartphones at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

Best at MWC 2015
Samsung, HTC, Sony, Microsoft and others are using the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Barcelona to debut their latest smartphones and other gear. Here’s a look at the new Android and Windows devices.

Samsung Galaxy S6
The latest Galaxy Android phone swaps out its plastic frame for one made of metal and glass. The 5.1-inch screen size hasn’t changed since the S5, but resolution has been improved to 1440×2560. Other features: 5mp camera on front, 16mp camera on back; Samsung octo-core processor; 32/64/128GB storage options; 3GB RAM; integrated wireless charging. Missing: water resistance, microSD card slot and user-replaceable battery. Available globally April 10. Pricing hasn’t been disclosed.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
This premium edition of the S6 has most of the same specs as the regular S6, but sports a screen that curves around its left and right sides.

HTC One M9
The company’s flagship Android 5.0 phone is based on a Snapdragon 810 processor running at 2GHz, includes 3GB of RAM and boasts a 5-inch screen. It features a 20mp front camera and 4pm rear one. HTC has partnered with Dolby to provide great sound. Best Buy lists a 32GB version for use on AT&T’s LTE network in the US for $650.

Silent Circle Blackphone 2
The Swiss company’s privacy-focused device will be targeted at enterprise customers in July, probably for about $630. The phone will have an 8-core processor, 32GB of memory and a 5-inch screen. What separates it from other phones is a hardened Android-based operating system dubbed PrivatOS as well as Silent Meeting, a secure conference-calling system, and a company-vetted app store. A new Blackphone+ tablet is on the way as well.

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
This waterproof device is a midrange Android offering that will cost about $335 when it launches in Q2. It has a 5-inch, 720×1280 pixel screen, a Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor and integrated support for LTE. The phone has a 13mp camera on the back and a 5mp camera on the front. Sony boasts of a two-day long battery life, but didn’t get into anymore specifics.

Acer Liquid M220
Acer says its new phone will come with Windows Phone 8.1, but will be upgradeable to Windows 10 when the operating system is released later this year. This $89 phone has a 4-inch screen, dual-core processor, 4GB of storage, 512MB of RAM, two SIM slots, and 5mp rear camera and 2mp front camera. It comes chock full of Microsoft apps like Cortana and OneDrive. It does not support LTE.

ZTE Grand S3
The unique thing about this phone is its biometric authentication system, which enables users to log in via eye scanning using EyeVerify technology. Down the road, the feature could work with apps. The smartphone runs Android 4.4, has a 5.5-inch screen, a Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage that can be expanded to 64GB via a microSD card. The back camera is 16mp and the front one is 8mp. The phone is initially available in China for about $480.

Microsoft Lumia 640 and 640 XL
These midrange Windows phones have 5- and 5.7-inch screens, respectively, and are upgradeable to Windows 10 when it is released later this year. Other specs: 1GB of memory, a quad-core Snapdragon processor running at 1.2GHz, an 8mp camera on the 640 and 13mp camera on the 640 XL. LTE support available on dual-SIM models. The 640 rolls out in April, the XL – a small phablet — in March. Pricing is expected to be in the $300 range for both.

LG Magna
LG revealed this new phone ahead of MWC, but gave people a first chance to play with it at the show. This Android smartphone has a 5-inch, 720×1280 pixel screen and 1.2GHz or 1.3GHz quad-core processor. It has an 8mp front camera and 5mp back one, plus 1GB of RAM and 8GB of integrated storage. Extended battery life and support for LTE are also touted by LG, which is expected to price the phone no higher than $250.

Lenovo A7000
This Android 5.0 smartphone has a 5.5-inch display, plus Dolby Atmos technology for audio. Powered by a MediaTek True8Core processor and supporting LTE, the phone has a dual SIM card slot for allowing use of separate phone numbers. The A7000 goes on sale in the US in March for $169.

Lenovo VIBE Shot
This is a camera-first Android phone that includes a 16mp rear camera with a six-piece modular lens and superfast shutter speed, as well as an 8mp selfie camera. Powered by a Snapdragon processor, the phone has 32GB of storage expandable to 128GB. It will sell for $350 when it becomes available in June.

BlackBerry Leap
OK, this isn’t an Android or Windows phone, but it bears at least a mention among the devices launched at MWC. BlackBerry is targeting young professionals (at start-ups!) with this $275 all-touchscreen phone that runs the BlackBerry 10 OS and features a 5-inch screen, 16GB of storage upgradeable to 128GB, an 8mp camera and 25 hours of battery life.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero 2+
This $300 6-inch phablet is the result of an Alcatel OneTouch partnership with Cyanogen, whose OS is based on Android. The unlocked phone is powered by a 2.0 GHz octa-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor, supports 4G LTE connectivity and features a 13mp back camera and 5mp front camera, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, expandable to 32GB via MicroSD.


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

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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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Patch Tuesday: 16 security advisories, 5 critical for Windows

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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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‘Critical point’ for Windows starts Tuesday

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Whatever Microsoft calls Windows 8’s successor better wow the enterprise.

When Microsoft unveils its next edition of Windows Tuesday, it will face its greatest challenge ever in operating systems, an analyst argued today.

“There’s never been a more critical point for Microsoft related to operating systems than now,” asserted Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. “Enterprises are now considering what’s going to happen in the next five to ten years.”

Wes Miller of Directions on Microsoft concurred. “I do think this is pretty critical,” said Miller. “In the enterprise, lots of businesses are wondering how long they’re going to stick with Windows 7.”

Microsoft is expected to reveal its upcoming Windows tomorrow at an invitation-only press conference in San Francisco starting at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET). The focus of this initial introduction will be how the next Windows — codenamed “Threshold” and preemptively dubbed “Windows 9” by some — works with traditional personal computers, those that dominate in business and rely on mouse and keyboard input, not touch.

The introduction will signal just how far Microsoft has retreated from the radical thinking that went into Windows 8, which most have decried as a flop, in order to appeal to its most profitable customers, the corporations that have essentially ignored Windows 8. The company may also provide details of the naming of the new OS, and whether it will be offered free to customers already running Windows 8, or even Windows 7.

“Microsoft must push forward on the tablet and phone front with a touch-enabled OS, but the great takeaway from Windows 8 is that they can’t do that at the expense of ignoring the desktop,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.

While some may argue that Microsoft has faced similar situations in the past — notably the introduction of Windows 7 in 2009 after the failure of Windows Vista — the scene today supports Moorhead’s take that this time is different.

Then, personal computer sales were still on the upswing — Peak PC didn’t happen until 2011 — while the iPad, and the explosion of tablets in general, was months away. Smartphones were still the purview of the well-to-do. Apple was selling fewer than two-thirds the number of Macs that it does today. And OEMs, the computer manufacturing partners Microsoft relies on, weren’t shilling systems powered by Google’s Chrome OS because, well, Google had not even released its own reference hardware yet.

Those headwinds now blow Windows’ way.

“PC OEMs are holding their breath,” said Moorhead. “To be frank, they were so disappointed with Windows 8 that they’re taking a conservative approach to expectations” for Threshold. “But at the same time, they’re cautiously optimistic because they really don’t have a choice but to participate.”

Another stumble with the next Windows won’t stop OEMs from shipping Windows on their machines — as Moorhead noted, the alternatives are meager — but it would open the OS to even more inroads by rivals.

“Windows 8 has given iOS, Android, Chrome OS and OS X more and greater access to the enterprise,” said Moorhead. “Microsoft has a chance to turn around the perspective [of Windows] with Threshold and minimize the risk [of further erosion].”

Threshold is important because, as Moorhead and others have pointed out, enterprises should already be looking ahead to what they will use to replace Windows 7, which has become, like Windows XP before it, the OS standard bearer for business.

While Microsoft will provide security updates for Windows 7 until January 2020, companies that want a smooth migration from old to new should be planning now for its replacement, Gartner analysts said last month. That replacement could be Threshold, if Microsoft effectively makes its case starting Tuesday. “[Microsoft] needs to give customers an idea of what the road map is going to be,” said Gartner analyst Michael Silver in an August interview.

If Threshold is simply a warmed-over Windows 8, then enterprises may well postpone migration plans and hope that whatever comes after that is more palatable. But during the interim, there’s the chance that they will look even harder at alternatives, like Macs and Chromebooks. Although neither can conceivably supplant Windows, PC sales are a zero sum game at this point: Every machine sold with Chrome OS or OS X is a loss, perhaps permanently, to Windows. And thus the spiral quickens.

“Threshold will either put points in Windows’ column, or in [those alternatives’] columns,” said Moorhead.

At least Microsoft has history on its side: Since Windows 98, the company has alternated well-received and rejected editions.

“Ideally, this next version of Windows will continue an amazing streak of alternating releases,” said Rubin. “There was Windows 98, which was good, and then Windows ME, which wasn’t. There was Windows XP, then Vista. Windows 7, then Windows 8. So this is an opportunity to address their users’ demands, as they have historically done.”

“I’m hoping for the best,” said Miller. “I like what I’m hearing [about the next Windows]. But this is make or break.”


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

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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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Microsoft to offer free 8GB of OneDrive storage if you refer friends

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Microsoft has rebranded Office Web Apps as Office Online and SkyDrive as OneDrive, with upcoming refer-a-friend free cloud storage bonuses.
By Ms. Smith on Mon, 02/10/14 – 2:30pm.

Rumors circulated about Microsoft’s plan to rebrand Office Web Apps as Office Online, but it’s no longer a rumor since Microsoft has a new “Choose your Office” webpage that compares the free Office Online to two paid versions of Office.

Microsoft’s free Office Online
The freebie version includes online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, as well as 7GB of free online storage. It’s not live yet; when you click to learn more about Office Online, you jump to a page still using the older names of Office Web Apps and SkyDrive.

But Microsoft is also rebranding SkyDrive as OneDrive. According to LiveSide, Microsoft will offer up to 8GB of extra storage to OneDrive users who refer friends to use the cloud storage.

OneDrive referal bonus online storage
Everyone seems to want more free cloud storage. Are you comfortable with convincing your friends to store more of their lives in a U.S.-based cloud? If so or if no, the two bonus offers for extra storage will reportedly include:

A referral bonus, 500MB for referring a friend to join OneDrive, up to a maximum of 10 friend invites. If your friend takes you up on it, then both you and your referred friend will get an extra 500MB of storage, with a maximum referral bonus of 5GB total extra storage.
The second bonus will score you an extra 3GB of storage if you choose to use Camera Roll “backup” to your sync photos to OneDrive via Windows Phone, Android or iOS apps.

OneDrive co-owned folders
To further entice users to use OneDrive, Microsoft is purportedly launching a “co-owned folders” feature. SkyDrive has something similar, but “the OneDrive version will sync any shared folders across multiple users as if they’re part of an individual’s list of personal folders. The co-owner feature also allows any shared owner to add new owners to the folder.” LiveSide posted leaked screenshots of the coming co-owned folder options.

Bing Saves beta
What else is Microsoft hoping users will save to their cloud? Neowin was told that some members of the old ‘Bing Insiders’ group received an email invite to Bing Saves beta. “Basically it’s a way for you to click a ‘save’ button next to each link on a Bing results page or use a bookmarklet to instantly save pages to your Microsoft Account.”

Microsoft and Foursquare deal
Wired reported that Microsoft and Foursquare entered a new deal that gives Microsoft deeper access to Fourquare’s new tracking system. “Foursquare’s cozy new relationship with Microsoft could strain its relationship with users. On the positive side, users may realize that their Foursquare data will meaningfully improve the search results they get from Bing or enhance their use of mobile Windows devices. On the other hand, many people are still wary of companies sharing sensitive personal information (like physical movements) with third parties (like Microsoft).”

Tick tock goes the clock toward the end of Windows XP support
Lastly, when there were only 60 days left until the end of Windows XP support, Microsoft’s Windows Experience blog asked tech-savvy folks to help their friends and family get off Windows XP. That post came out about the same time NetMarketShare released desktop OS market shares for January; Windows XP is still on 30.72% of computers. Microsoft asked wise tech folks to direct XP users to “download and run the Windows Upgrade Assistant on their current PC to check and see if it can run Windows 8.1.”

Since many people still running XP are doing so because that old box won’t support a newer OS, Microsoft also suggested for XP users to get a new PC. That’s a nice thought for folks who can afford it, but some big organizations simply cannot.

A previous AVAST survey found that over 96% of U.S. schools will likely face a major technology crisis when Windows XP is no longer supported. “The cost of upgrading from Windows XP to a more recent operating system is approximately $200 per computer, and it is not likely to stop there. Many schools are also facing the expense of upgrading their hardware as well, since hardware older than three years is unlikely to be able to support Windows 7 and beyond. The cost to schools in this situation could run into tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Although anyone still on XP should definitely upgrade, after using Windows 8.1 for a couple months now, I still don’t recommend it. Windows 7 seemed to be a much better OS. According to Paul Thurrot, someone who has defended Windows 8.1 in the past, the upcoming Windows 8.1 update 1 has him “wondering whether Microsoft has simply fallen into an all-too-familiar trap of trying to please everyone, and creating a product that is ultimately not ideal for anyone.”

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Did Microsoft reach into your PC to stomp a botnet?

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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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Windows 8 cobranding with Android may backfire for Microsoft

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All business in the front and party in the back, this category is the mullet of mobile devices.

At CES, dual-boot devices running Windows 8.1 and Android revealed a conflicted situation for Microsoft. In the struggle to make Windows 8 relevant in mobile, the OS has been cobranded with Android on these devices.

Microsoft’s OEMs missed the point. Relevancy is measured in terms of digital life, the amount of time mobile users spend engaged with a mobile internet ecosystem. According to Chetan Sharma’s research, Microsoft ranks seventh in importance. In a similar unpublished interactive survey of 300 industry insiders at the Open Mobile Summit in San Francisco, Google led the digital life market, with Apple in second place, while Microsoft finished in the back of the pack.

With dual-boot tablets and notebooks, Microsoft is willfully sacrificing valuable digital life for Windows 8. As Richard Windsor of Radio Free Mobile reported from CES:

“The idea is that the user uses Windows 8.1 when he or she is working and Android when at leisure. This is a crazy proposition as the whole point of Windows 8 is to make an environment that is optimized for both use cases, and it’s telling that the OEMs feel the need to add something else.”

Splitting productivity time using a keyboard with Windows 8 and then rebooting for leisure time via gestures with Android just compounds the problem, because it stagnates users’ curiosity to search for new Windows 8 apps. This reduces some much-needed traffic to the Windows app store, which, compared to Android and iOS, is currently a ghost town.

Dual-boot teaches a user to boot Windows 8 for compatibility with Microsoft’s old ecosystem and to boot Android to use the new mobile ecosystem. This points to a glaring problem. If Microsoft is to fix this, Windows 8 users need a reason to spend their entire digital life in the Windows 8 ecosystem; when the user toggles from desktop to mobile they have to think –there’s an app for that – and download a Windows app.

Once upon a time, Windows users helped one another make Windows applications work. Given the dominance of earlier Windows versions, Microsoft had an army of users to help other users make Windows work. Mobile has completely changed user behavior. Mobile users download an app, give it a few seconds to satisfy the need that influenced them to download it, and if the app fails, they uninstall it and try the next app in the category. According to NetMarketshare, Microsoft retains 91% of the desktop market share, but Windows 8 only accounts for 10% of that. So a user’s chance of solving a Windows 8 problem through the help of another user who understands Windows 8 is only one in 10. According to Windsor:

“The Metro [the old name for the Windows 8 UI] user experience is perfectly capable of offering a good experience for Digital Life.”
If Microsoft is to become relevant in mobile, it needs to convince users of the value of this UI without the army of helpers it once had. Cobranding with Android doesn’t help, it hurts. Dual boot and virtualization isn’t a solution any longer in the consumer mobile market because app developers motivated by a good business model in target devices will port their apps. Dual boot emphasizes the limited number of apps available for Windows 8, and proves that Microsoft has not convinced users that it’s a good OS to begin with.

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Microsoft’s final security push is missing the kitchen sink

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Considering all that’s being patched this month, it seems as if Redmond forgot to include the kitchen sink…

Tripwire’s Tyler Reguly says that considering all that’s being patched this month, it seems as if Redmond forgot to include the kitchen sink. Next week, Microsoft ends 2013 with 11 bulletins, offering a slightly slower end-of-year patch cycle, but there’s still plenty to keep IT teams busy.

For the final Patch Tuesday of 2013, Microsoft will release five critical and six important bulletins, addressing flaws in every supported version of Windows, as well as all supported versions of Internet Explorer. Office is in the mix, as well as Exchange, SharePoint, and various developer tools.

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“With 11 bulletins this month, Microsoft will easily break 100 patches in 2013, beating last years’ numbers and even exceeding 2011’s December 29th release of MS11-100. System administrators everywhere must have made Microsoft’s naughty list because this holiday ‘gift’ is clearly a lump of coal,” said Taylor Reguly, Tripwire’s technical manager of security research.

“Microsoft is wrapping up the 2013 patch season with anything that was laying around. We’re seeing patches for ASP.NET SignalR, Office, Exchange 2013, SharePoint 2013, and Lync 2013, as well as every version of Windows and Internet Explorer. Someone should tell Microsoft they forgot to include the kitchen sink.”

Given that it is flagged as an elevation of privilege issue, there’s speculation that Bulletin 8 might be a fix for the Windows XP Zero-Day that’s circulating around online. But as usual Microsoft doesn’t disclose the exact nature of a pending security fix until the day it drops, so we’ll have to wait and see.

However, this month’s patches will fix the GDI+ vulnerability disclosed last month, which is actively being targeted. The flaw, addressed in MSA 2896666 is rather evil (see what I did there?), as it impacts Windows, Office, and Lync. The targeted attacks are focused on Windows XP and Office 2007


3 Highlights with Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2

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Microsoft Windows Server R2 capbilities to be aware of and consider as part of an IT stratgey.

With any server operating system upgrade, IT is always looking for the hooks that help motivate the upgrade process and deliver additional value. Sometimes it is as simple as better performance, a single feature that has been a long time coming, or something that simply snaps into an IT policy and waits out any bumps from the early adopters. By now IT shops should have solid exposure to Windows Server 2012, blipped through SP1, and are now ready to focus on R2. As IT pros research and learn about Windows Server 2012 R2 deployment opportunities, they should be aware of these three potential impacts:

Platform consistency: ESG’s Steve Duplessie dug into the advantages Microsoft has with its Cloud OS in his article, Is Microsoft the answer to the cloud quandary? With R2, Microsoft continues to embrace data center transformation by highlighting the importance of on-premises private cloud capabilities mapped to Azure services and capacity.

Storage considerations: It’s not time to throw away existing storage investments, but R2 storage capabilities are certainly worth considering as part of any forward-looking storage strategy. Microsoft will continue to align with the existing storage vendor ecosystem, but it is SMB 3.0 and storage spaces where things get real interesting. IT pros have the option to use local (and ideally less costly) storage with some compelling performance results that have been tested by ESG: Microsoft Windows Server 2012: Storage Performance and Cost Analysis.

Network fabric: ESG senior analyst Bob Laliberte is in lock step with the importance of network architecture as businesses extend workloads to the cloud. Bob digs deep into SDN (software defined networking) in his ESG market landscape report, The Emergence of Software-defined Network Architectures. Microsoft’s R2 capabilities focus on extensibility, performance, and management as they work together with its technology partners to bridge and build IT’s next-generation network architecture.

So love them, hate them, consume from Amazon AWS, manage a considerable VMware investment, or be the Microsoft guru, but be aware of Windows Server 2012 R2 capabilities and consider these points as part of a 2014 strategy.


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