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  1. Microsoft has announced that they will install a new Google Chrome extension for some Office 365 ProPlus customers that will force the browser to use Bing as the default search engine "to access relevant workplace information directly from the browser address bar." The Microsoft Search in Bing extension will be added to all new Office 365 ProPlus installations and when updating to newer releases. The only customers that won't have this Chrome extension installed automatically are those that already have set Bing as their default Chrome search engine. "Microsoft Search is part of Microsoft 365 and is turned on by default for all Microsoft apps that support it," Microsoft says. "Even after Bing is made the default search engine, your users can still change to a different default search engine in Google Chrome on their own." "Support for the Firefox web browser is planned for a later date. We will keep you informed about support for Firefox through the Microsoft 365 Admin Center and this article," Redmond adds. Deployment starting in mid-February The Microsoft Search in Bing Chrome extension will be rolling out to customers starting with Office 365 ProPlus, Version 2002, through the targeted monthly channel, and in early March for the monthly update channel. While not all users will get the extension after installing Office 365 ProPlus, Version 2002 at once, their default search engine for the Chrome web browser will be changed to Bing with a future update. Microsoft Search in Bing welcome screen (Microsoft) Users from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States will be the first to have the extension installed on their devices, based on their IP addresses. Microsoft will also check Office 365 ProPlus devices' location once a month to install the Chrome extension if they move to one of the supported locations. The full rollout timeline for the Microsoft Search in Bing Chrome extension is available in the table below. Update channel Version Release date Monthly Channel (Targeted) Version 2002 Middle of February 2020 Monthly Version 2002 Early March 2020 Semi-Annual (Targeted) To be determined 03/10/20 Semi-Annual To be determined 07/14/20 Feedback to Microsoft's change After this change was made public, customers expressed their disapproval on Twitter, Reddit, and GitHub, asking for Microsoft to change their decision. "What are you thinking? Is this a return to the IE browser wars or something? This is an amazing abuse and should NOT be done under any circumstance," one user said on GitHub. "So rather than simply changing the default search engine as a one off... as this is an extension presumably the point is to check and reset the search engine back to Bing if you change it to anything else?," another one commented on Reddit. "Either way it’s quite incredible that Microsoft feel entitled to do this, and I suspect it may land them in some trouble." Microsoft's feedback section to the support article explaining this move was also invaded by outraged users suggesting its addition to "Microsoft Security Intelligence Definitions so that Windows Defender detects and removes this threat as for other similar software: 'This browser modifier installs add-ons or extensions to your Internet browser without asking you or confirming that you want to install them.'" "Utterly Unacceptable. This feature SHOULD NOT be on by default and is totally unacceptable in a business environment," another customer added. "It would be bad enough if bing was a good search engine but it's just not, no matter how many users you force onto the platform." "NO WAY, this is unacceptable. What are you thinking? Is this a return to the IE browser wars or something? This is an amazing abuse and should NOT be done under any circumstance," said another user. How to prevent the Microsoft Search in Bing extension from being installed To prevent the Microsoft Search in Bing extension from automatically being installed in Chrome, you can configure a group policy before March 2020. To configure this group policy, please follow these steps: Download and install the Microsoft Office Group Policy Templates. Once installed, open the Group Policy Editor via Start menu or search. In the Group Policy Editor, navigate to the Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office 2016 (Machine)\Updates. Look through the list of policies and double-click on the Don't install extension for Microsoft Search in Bing that makes Bing the default the search engine option. Select Enabled and then press Apply followed by OK to configure the policy. You can now close the Group Policy Editor and the policy will be configured. When the policy is configured, it will create the following Registry entry: [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\office\16.0\common\officeupdate] "preventbinginstall"=dword:00000001 BleepingComputer has also created a registry file that you can download to automatically configure this policy for you in the Registry. How to remove the Microsoft Search in Bing extension If you already had the extension installed on one of your devices, you can remove it by running the following command as an Administrator: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\DefaultPackPC\MainBootStrap.exe uninstallAll The command can also be used to remove the extension from multiple devices within an organization with the help of a script, the Configuration Manager, or with the enterprise software deployment tool of your choice. Source
  2. A researcher who studies AI principles warns that giving too much credence to Big Tech is like “asking the fox for guidance on henhouse security procedures.” When it comes to AI, Big Tech wants a hand in developing regulation. In a January 20 piece for the Financial Times calling for the regulation of the technology, Google CEO Sundar Pichai argued that his company’s artificial intelligence principles could be used as a template for future laws. Brad Smith of Microsoft said the same in a talk at the World Economic Forum earlier this week. Google and Microsoft are right that it’s time for government to step in and provide safeguards, and that regulation should build on the important thinking that’s already been done. However, looking only to the perspectives of large tech companies, who’ve already established themselves as dominant players, is asking the fox for guidance on henhouse security procedures. We need to take a broader view. Rapid advances in machine learning technology, which falls under the general umbrella of AI, have lent urgency to questions about how to build and use AI systems responsibly, safely, and ethically. Criminal justice algorithms are racially biased, autonomous vehicles have been involved in fatal crashes, and algorithmic content moderation has contributed to a wave of disinformation efforts. The task of ensuring AI actually supports human rights and well-being has at times felt overwhelming, the questions unanswerable. That hasn’t stopped a lot of people from trying to answer them. Alongside Google’s and Microsoft’s, there have been principles for ethical AI from national governments and intergovernmental organizations, advocacy organizations, expert groups, and more. Over the past year, I worked with a team of researchers to analyze AI principles from around the world, trying to see what they might have in common. We coded each principle in the 36 documents we ended up focusing on and uncovered eight key themes: Fairness and nondiscrimination: AI systems shouldn’t reinforce social inequality—instead, they should promote inclusivity. Accountability: Developers should plan for their technology’s impacts. Monitoring and auditing mechanisms need to be in place, and impacted individuals and populations should have access to adequate remedies. Privacy: AI should respect privacy, both in sourcing the data that is used for development and in giving people agency over when and how their personal info is used to make decisions about them. Transparency and explainability: We should know where AI systems are being used and how they reach the decisions they do. Safety and security: AI systems should be tested to ensure they perform as intended and resist interference from unauthorized parties. Professional responsibility: The people involved in the development and deployment of AI systems have an obligation to prioritize integrity, collaboration, professionalism, and foresight. Human control of technology: To promote trust and respect autonomy, there should be human checks on AI, from review of important decisions to fail-safe mechanisms that kick in for extenuating circumstances. Promotion of human values: We should be guided by our core values and the well-being of all humanity when we design and deploy AI systems. The coherence of these various principles documents—from different regions and interest groups—suggests that social norms for AI are emerging. Law and regulation originate in social norms, which makes Microsoft and Google correct to posit that these near-universal themes among AI principles are a good starting point for regulation. However, as we note in our paper, there’s a wide and thorny gap between being able to articulate goals for AI such as fairness, transparency, and safety, and writing rules that would govern the thousands of decisions, big and small, that result in any given technology being built and used responsibly. One way to register that gap is to recognize the very divergent visions different organizations advance within these themes. For example, every document we looked at included some version of a fairness or nondiscrimination principle. But they call for different implementations. Some focus, for example, on forbidding the use of biased datasets—even though arguments that truly unbiased data don’t exist are pretty persuasive. Others call for greater diversity on development teams to ensure that a broader range of perspectives is baked into technologies from the start. Still others want to see AI used to uncover and remedy existing instances of discrimination. Regulators would need to parse these options carefully and decide which were appropriate. In all, if advances in AI technology have landed us in unfamiliar territory, an analysis of AI principles might be the map we need to make sense of it all. But that’s only true if we look outside U.S.-based tech companies’ visions for the regulations that would best serve them. Principles from a broader range of stakeholders provide visibility into everything from the greatest risks that AI poses to vulnerable and marginalized populations to the key human values, such as self-determination, equality, and sustainability, that we should be seeking to protect. AI principles are a map that should be on the table as regulators around the world draw up their next steps. However, even a perfect map doesn’t make the journey for you. At some point—and soon—policymakers need to set out the real-world implementations that will ensure that the power of AI technology reinforces the best, and not the worst, in humanity. Source
  3. By Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft Microsoft is starting to roll out developer kits and emulators for both Android and 10X developers who want to build for coming dual-screen devices, starting with its own. Microsoft is starting to make tools available to developers for coming dual-screen mobile devices. Today, January 22, it is rolling out a preview of the software developer kit (SDK) for the Microsoft Surface Duo dual-screen Android phone. And it is making available new web standards proposals for developing for both the Duo and the Windows 10X-based Surface Neo. "In the coming weeks," Microsoft also is going to make available a preview SDK for Windows for dual-screen devices, meaning Windows 10X, according to its blog post announcing the new dev tools. This will come via the standard Insider builds, officials said. Microsoft's goal is to deliver the dual-screen Hyper-V emulator for Windows 10X dual-screen devices on February 11, along with new interfaces for dual-screen support, documentation and code samples. This SDK will include native Windows APIs along with the emulator that will support both Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and Win32 apps. The immediately available preview SDK for the Duo includes access to documentation and samples for best practices, UX design information and more. It includes native Java application programming interfaces for dual-screen Duo development and an Android emulator with a preview of the Surface Duo image. To use the Duo preview SDK, developers need the Android Studio and Android Emulator. For the 10X SDK, users will need a recent Windows 10 Insider preview build of 64-bit Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise or Education on a 4-core deviced with Hyper-V enabled. Microsoft also is doing more work on its new Edge browser so that it will support dual-screen 10X and Android devices. Microsoft is holding a virtual event, Microsoft 365 Developer Day: Feb 11 starting at 11:30 a.m. ET, where officials will focus on dual-screen experiences (including SDKs, emulators, languages and tools). Source
  4. Microsoft was ordered to turn over a trove of tax records last week amid a historic and long-running audit by the IRS that received new attention after an explosive ProPublica report on Wednesday. A federal judge in Washington state declared that Microsoft must turn over key documents within the next seven days, a shot in the arm for an expansive IRS audit that has dragged on for more than 12 years. The IRS has been investigating whether Microsoft shifted intellectual property worth billions of dollars to Puerto Rico in violation of U.S. tax law. "The government believes that Microsoft’s cost sharing arrangements ... impermissibly shifted revenue out of the United States, both decreasing Microsoft’s federal income tax liabilities and obtaining more favorable foreign tax treatment," the filing on Friday reads. Microsoft had sought to conceal the relevant documents in the case, arguing they should remain confidential. But U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez declared almost none of the more than 100 documents are protected. The IRS is investigating whether Microsoft shifted $39 billion in U.S. profits to Puerto Rico in order to receive a nearly zero percent tax rate. The agency has found that Microsoft moved billions of dollars in profits to avoid taxes, according to the investigation by ProPublica and Fortune. “This was a pure tax play and because we took the factory live by July 1 we were able to start claiming the tax benefit as planned," one Microsoft executive wrote, according to the article. Martinez reportedly made the decision to reawaken the case shortly after ProPublica contacted him for its investigation. "On Jan. 17, 2020, after this story was finalized for publication, but before it published, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez issued his ruling on the remaining, disputed documents," reads an editor's note within the ProPublcia article. "It was another big win for the IRS in the case. (Martinez, who had taken the better part of three years to consider the ruling, issued it 10 days after ProPublica inquired about the delay.)" Microsoft in a statement said the ruling is not about "Microsoft's historical tax arrangements. "The Judge acknowledged that this procedural ruling about document production is based on limited information, and is not a ruling on the validity of Microsoft’s historical tax arrangements," the company said. Source
  5. Amazon has (as expected) filed a motion with US court to halt Microsoft’s work on Pentagon JECI contract until appeal ruling Amazon has made good its threat last week to file a temporary restraining order with a US court to demand that Microsoft halt work on the US Department of Defense lucrative cloud contract. Last week a legal motion was being prepared, which would ask a US judge to temporarily block Microsoft from working on the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud (JEDI) contract. In October last year, the Pentagon officially awarded the JEDI contract to Microsoft, despite Amazon’s AWS cloud division being widely regarded as favourite to win the contract. Restraining order Now on Wednesday Amazon has confirmed it has filed a motion in court to “pause the US. Department of Defense and Microsoft from carrying out an up to $10 billion cloud computing deal until a court rules on its protest of the contract award,” Reuters reported. “It is common practice to stay contract performance while a protest is pending, and it’s important that the numerous evaluation errors and blatant political interference that impacted the JEDI award decision be reviewed,” AWS reportedly said in a statement. Last month Amazon officially named US President Donald Trump in its court complaint, and him accused him of exerting “improper pressure” and bias. Essentially, the Pentagon aims to create a single cloud architecture across all the military branches and combatant commands. The idea is to allow a seamless workflow and information-sharing environment. AWS complaint It is clear that AWS is not going to let the matter lie. Indeed, Amazon was very unhappy at what it believed was political bias from the US President, and in November 2019 filed a complaint with the US Court of Federal Claims contesting that decision. AWS CEO Andy Jassy had previously revealed in an interview that he believed the decision was not adjudicated fairly and called for the whole JEDI decision process to be reviewed. Amazon has essentially argued that politics got in the way of a fair contracting process. It feels the Pentagon decision was politically motivated by President Donald Trump’s dislike of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post, which Bezos owns. The US Department of Defense has stood by its decision to award the contract to Microsoft, with its Secretary Mark Esper rejecting any suggestion of bias and saying the decision was conducted freely and fairly, without any outside influence. And that is not the only legal challenge facing the DoD. Oracle has also filed an appeal after its lawsuit about its exclusion from the JEDI project failed earlier in the year. It argues that there was a conflict of interest. Acrimonious bidding It is fair to say that the JEDI contract was blighted by a highly acrimonious bidding process. In July President Donald Trump said that he was “looking very seriously” at the Pentagon cloud contract, and that it should be investigated. The President said he would direct aides to investigate the pending military contract, saying he had heard multiple complaints about an allegedly unfair bidding process. The project was then briefly placed on hold, until Defense Secretary Mark Esper could ‘review’ the program. In the end, there were only two bidders for the contract, namely Amazon and Microsoft, with Azure being the eventually winner. AWS had been considered the clear favourite to win the contract, as AWS already provided some cloud services to the DoD, and in 2013 won a $600m cloud contract with the CIA. A book by the speech writer for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis alleged that Trump asked Mattis in the summer of 2018 to “screw Amazon” out of a chance to bid on the contract. Mattis declined. The Department of Defense for its part has said that the acquisition process “was conducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.” Source
  6. Microsoft’s CEO looks to a future beyond Windows, iOS, and Android The future of the next 46 billion devices Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images “What do you think is the biggest hardware business at Microsoft?” asked Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last week during a private media event. “Xbox,” answered a reporter who had been quizzing Nadella on how the company’s hardware products like Surface and Xbox fit into the broader ambitions of Microsoft. “No, it’s our cloud,” fired back Nadella, explaining how Microsoft is building everything from the data centers to the servers and network stack that fit inside. As the reporter pushed further on the hardware point, a frequent question given Microsoft’s focus on the cloud, Nadella provided us with the best vision for the modern Microsoft that moves well beyond the billion-or-so Windows users that previously defined the company. “The way I look at it is Windows is the billion user install base of ours. We continue to add a couple of hundred million PCs every year, and we want to serve that in a super good way,” explained Nadella. “The thing that we also want to think about is the broader context. We don’t want to be defined by just what we achieved. We look at if there’s going to be 50 billion endpoints. Windows with its billion is good, Android with its 2 billion is good, iOS with its billion is good — but there is 46 billion more. So let’s go and look at what that 46 billion plus 4 [billion] looks like, and define a strategy for that, and then have everything have a place under the sun.” Microsoft’s Surface Pro X. Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge Microsoft has talked about the potential for rapid Internet of Things (IoT) growth from sensors and simple devices for years, all while the company has been building a cloud empire and quietly acquiring companies that will help it manage these billions of cloud-connected devices. Some analysts claim that there are already 22 billion connected devices, growing to 50 billion connected devices this year, by 2025, or 2030 depending on which study you believe. There might be disagreement on exactly how many devices will be connected to the internet and when, but Nadella has reorganized Windows and Azure to get ready for them. “Sometimes I say, ‘Hey, look. Should I call Windows... Azure Edge?’” revealed Nadella during the same media event last week, noting that’s what the operating system essentially is today by using the hardware to expose an app model. “Our new organization that manages all of this at the core kernel level and the hardware ... that team is the same. Whether it is something that is on Surface or something on Azure host, it’s literally the same people.” While we often hear Nadella quote philosophers or poets in memos, investor calls, and during onstage appearances, it’s rare to hear him be so direct and succinct about Microsoft’s ambitions. You don’t need to decipher his language here to understand that Microsoft is looking far beyond iOS, Android, and Windows to build Azure into what the company calls “the world’s computer.” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Photo by Amelia Krales / The Verge It’s easy for consumers to misunderstand Nadella’s new Microsoft that’s focused on Azure and cloud computing or worry the company could be turning into another IBM. Microsoft will need to tread carefully if it wants to avoid such comparisons. But the company is certainly being ambitious in its efforts to create a cross-platform environment that spans the world’s computing devices — whether that’s making distributed computing possible with elastic processing power and storage or using Xbox technology to build microcontrollers for its Azure Sphere operating system that’s built on top of a custom Linux kernel. Microsoft also faces huge challenges from competitors that also want to manage these billions of internet-connected devices. Amazon, ARM, Dell, Huawei, Cisco, IBM, Intel, Google, HP, Oracle, Qualcomm, Samsung, and more are fighting over this potential market, but there’s no clear winner in sight. The software giant will also need to convince competitors, and partner with many, if it’s even going to get close to pulling off this ambitious bet. That’s why we’ve seen Microsoft partner with Amazon on Alexa and Cortana integration, Samsung for Android apps, Walmart on tech for grocery stores, Sony on the future of gaming in the cloud, and many more in recent years. Nadella has obviously steered Microsoft in a different direction since taking over as CEO nearly six years ago. The results were evident after just a year, and the company reorganized its Windows division nearly two years ago to prepare for a world beyond Windows. Nadella’s message back in October when Microsoft embraced Android for the Surface Duo was that the operating system doesn’t matter, and it’s all about the app model and experience. It’s an obvious acknowledgment of how mobile computing has shifted the way we communicate and work, and it’s a nod that Microsoft is looking far more broadly to get back to its roots as a software company — not just the maker of Windows and Office — and try not to miss the next big thing. That doesn’t mean Windows is dead or that Microsoft will give up on it anytime soon. It’s just not as important as it once was to the company when you consider the future Nadella is building Microsoft toward. “We are absolutely, no question, allocating a lot to what is that next big thing,” explained Nadella last week. “But at the same time, we’re also not saying that’s our way back to saying all of iOS, all of Android, and all of Windows will suddenly be subsumed by this one thing. If anything, what people have come to realize is that Windows is there with a billion users, iOS is there with a billion users, and Android is there with 2 billion users. It’s not like one killed the other.” Source: Microsoft’s CEO looks to a future beyond Windows, iOS, and Android (The Verge)
  7. Five servers storing customer support analytics were accidentally exposed online in December 2019. Microsoft disclosed today a security breach that took place last month in December 2019. In a blog post today, the OS maker said that an internal customer support database that was storing anonymized user analytics was accidentally exposed online without proper protections between December 5 and December 31. The database was spotted and reported to Microsoft by Bob Diachenko, a security researcher with Security Discovery. The leaky customer support database consisted of a cluster of five Elasticsearch servers, a technology used to simplify search operations, Diachenko told ZDNet today. All five servers stored the same data, appearing to be mirrors of each other. Diachenko said Microsoft secured the exposed database on the same day he reported the issue to the OS maker, despite being New Year's Eve. "I have been in touch with the Microsoft team helping and supporting them to properly investigate it," Diachenko told ZDNet. The servers contained roughly 250 million entries. Microsoft says that most of the records didn't contain any personal user information. "As part of Microsoft's standard operating procedures, data stored in the support case analytics database is redacted using automated tools to remove personal information," Microsoft said. However, in cases where users filed customer support requests using non-standard formatted data such as ("name surname @ emaildomain com" instead of "[email protected]") the data was not detected and redacted, and remained in the exposed database. For these cases, Microsoft said it began notifying impacted customers today, although it also added that it "found no malicious use" of the data. Microsoft blamed the accidental server exposure on misconfigured Azure security rules it deployed on December 5, which it now fixed. Following the leak, Microsoft says it is now: Auditing the established network security rules for internal resources. Expanding the scope of the mechanisms that detect security rule misconfigurations. Adding additional alerting to service teams when security rule misconfigurations are detected. Implementing additional redaction automation. Source
  8. Microsoft has confirmed a security flaw affecting Internet Explorer is currently being used by hackers, but that it has no immediate plans to fix. In a late-evening tweet, US-CERT, the division of Homeland Security tasked with reporting on major security flaws, tweeted a link to a security advisory detailing the bug, describing it as “being exploited in the wild.” Microsoft said all supported versions of Windows are affected by the flaw, including Windows 7, which after this week no longer receives security updates. The vulnerability was found in how Internet Explorer handles memory. An attacker could use the flaw to remotely run malicious code on an affected computer, such as tricking a user into opening a malicious website from a search query or a link sent by email. It’s believed to be a similar vulnerability as one disclosed by Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, earlier this week. Both Microsoft and Mozilla credited Qihoo 360, a China-based security research team, with finding flaws under active attack. Earlier in the week, Qihoo 360 reportedly deleted a tweet referencing a similar flaw in Internet Explorer. Neither Qihoo, Microsoft, nor Mozilla said how attackers were exploiting the bug, who the attackers were, or who was being targeted. The U.S. government’s cybersecurity advisory unit also issued a warning about current exploitation. Microsoft told TechCrunch that it was was “aware of limited targeted attacks” and was “working on a fix,” but that it was unlikely to release a patch until its next round of monthly security fixes — scheduled for February 11. Microsoft assigned the bug with a common vulnerability identifier, CVE-2020-0674, but specific details of the bug have yet to be released. When reached, a Microsoft spokesperson did not comment. Source
  9. On Thursday, Microsoft CEO Brad Smith made a bold climate pledge: By 2030, he said the company will remove more carbon from the environment than it emits, and by 2050, will remove more carbon than the company has ever produced. This is a big step up from Microsoft’s previous climate action plans. But it’s unclear what the plan will mean for the company’s contracts with oil and gas companies that are fueling the climate crisis. And as long as Microsoft keeps helping these firms, its commitment to carbon negativity isn’t nearly as big a deal as it sounds. Smith said in his announcement that Microsoft will transition its own operations to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025, and shift its “global campus operations vehicle fleet” to electric by 2030. To provide transparency on their progress, it will also publish an annual Environmental Sustainability Report “based on strong global reporting standards.” The company has been “carbon neutral” since 2012, but organizers say Microsoft relied too heavily on buying renewable energy credits to offset their carbon emissions, instead of lowering them directly. This comes less than a year after the company made other climate pledges, albeit ones that were less-than-stellar. But overall, the new plan makes some big promises that are decidedly good. The company also has plans to reduce the carbon emissions down the supply chain. But the plan doesn’t say anything specific about decarbonizing companies it supplies services to, specifically cloud computing. Microsoft holds multi-year deals to sell cloud services to Shell and Chevron, and is developing artificial intelligence technology with BP. In February, Microsoft announced a partnership with ExxonMobil that could expand the oil giant’s production by up to 50,000 barrels of oil a day by 2025 from the Permian Basin. “Teaming up with Exxon, BP, Chevron and others to extract more oil and gas is a major disconnect and makes the climate crisis worse” Greenpeace’s Senior Climate Campaigner Elizabeth Jardim said in a statement. “To truly become carbon negative, Microsoft must end its AI contracts with Big Oil.” It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon. “The significance and complexity of the task ahead is incredible and will require contributions from every person and organization on the planet. That’s why we are committed to continuing to work with all our customers, including those in the oil and gas business, to help them meet today’s business demands while innovating together to achieve the business needs of a net zero carbon future,” Microsoft’s plan reads (emphasis added). The company’s carbon negative goal will also rely on technology that doesn’t exist today. To that end, Microsoft said it will also create a $1 billion fund to speed up the development of carbon removal technology. Carbon dioxide removal isn’t just something Microsoft is striving for. It’s also popular among big polluters. An alliance of 13 oil and gas majors pushed a carbon capture initiative in the fall. That follows a 2016 investment by 10 fossil fuel companies to put $1 billion into developing the technologies. And it makes sense that polluting industries want this technology to advance, because it would in theory allow them to become carbon-neutral without changing their business models. Microsoft promotes themselves to the fossil fuel industry as a tool to help extract more oil and gas more quickly (they’ve even sponsored a conference that featured Caleb Rossiter, a member of the CO2 Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere). And with $1 billion in carbon capture technology research on their side, they will likely continue to do so. There’s no harm in emitting greenhouse gases, the logic goes, if you can suck them out of the air afterward. But the science shows we need to quickly phase out of extracting and using fossil fuels altogether. We don’t have time to wait for new technologies, which could take years to develop. Earther has reached out to Microsoft for comment and will update this story with their response. Source
  10. Microsoft promises to remove all of the carbon it has ever emitted by 2050 While some companies are pledging to become carbon neutral by 2030, Microsoft today made an ambitious promise to actually become carbon negative. That means that it will remove more carbon from the environment than it emits. The firm has been carbon neutral since 2012. Microsoft said that since 2012, carbon neutral has been the goal, rather than being net zero. That means that it's been investing in avoiding emissions, rather than investing in actually removing carbon that's been emitted. And that's going to change. The plan now is to remove as much carbon from the environment as possible, and by 2050, the Redmond firm is planning to have removed all carbon that it has emitted since Microsoft was founded in 1975. Microsoft outlined three different scopes of emissions. The first is the emissions that you directly create, like exhaust from your car. The second is indirect, like what's used in the production of heat or electricity that you use. Finally, the third is also indirect, but from other activities that you do, like carbon that's emitted from manufacturing the products that you buy. Of course, Microsoft is working on all three. The firm says that out of the 16 million metric tons of carbon that it will emit this year, 100,000 are scope one, four million are scope two, and 12 million are scope three. So obviously, scope three is the biggest priority. The plan that Microsoft laid out outlines seven principles: Grounding in science and math. We will continually ground our work in the best available science and most accurate math, as we describe further below. Taking responsibility for our carbon footprint. We will take responsibility for all our emissions, so by 2030 we can cut them by more than half and remove more carbon than we emit each year. Investing for new carbon reduction and removal technology. We will deploy $1 billion of our own capital in a new Climate Innovation Fund to accelerate the development of carbon reduction and removal technologies that will help us and the world become carbon negative. Empowering customers around the world. Perhaps most importantly, we will develop and deploy digital technology to help our suppliers and customers reduce their carbon footprints. Ensuring effective transparency. We will publish an annual Environmental Sustainability Report that provides transparency on our progress, based on strong global reporting standards. Using our voice on carbon-related public policy issues. We will support new public policy initiatives to accelerate carbon reduction and removal opportunities. Enlisting our employees. We recognize that our employees will be our biggest asset in advancing innovation, and we will create new opportunities to enable them to contribute to our efforts. This is certainly one of the most ambitious plans that a company has presented regarding its carbon footprint, or climate change. Not only will it be carbon negative by 2030, but it's going to eliminate all carbon that it has emitted since it was founded by 2050, and Microsoft can be commended for working toward this goal. Source: Microsoft promises to remove all of the carbon it has ever emitted by 2050 (Neowin)
  11. By Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft Ahead of next week's Bett UK education conference, Microsoft is showcasing new and refreshed Windows 10 PCs.. Microsoft plans to showcase new and refreshed Windows 10 PCs aimed at the education market during next week's Bett UK education conference. In addition to announcing a partnership with T-Mobile that will provide select U.S. school districts with 4G LTE SIM coverage, Microsoft also will be talking up the benefits of cell-powered Connected PCs for rural and underserved areas. The two brand-new Connected PCs that are built and priced especially for the education market which Microsoft is adding to its education portfolio are both coming this summer. They are te JP.IK Turn T101, which will start at $299 and the Positivo Wise N1212S, starting at $575. Both of these devices are ARM-based, as are the other cell-connected Windows 10 devices in Microsoft's education portfolio -- the Surface Pro X, Samsung Galaxy Book S, Maibenben Xioamai X228, Lenovo C630 Yoga, Samsung Galaxy Book 2 and Huawei Matebook E. Microsoft also is continuing to push Intel-based Windows 10 PCs that aren't cell-connected for the education market. Devices from Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo, some starting at $199, are getting updated processors, larger screens, pen garages and new indicator lights meant to show whether devices are charged and connected to the Internet. Microsoft doesn't seem to be talking up its Surface Go tablet at this year's Bett. Microsoft introduced the Intel-based Surface Go (running Windows 10 S) in the summer of 2018 and has not updated it since. There are rumors that the company could introduce a Surface Go 2 this year, potentially based on the ARM processor. (I have not heard this directly myself, so far at least.) Microsoft also is not talking yet about its coming Windows 10X operating system or any third-party Windows PCs running 10X as potential competitors to Chromebooks. Microsoft and its OEM partners are expected to ship their first 10X foldable and dual-screen devices later this year. After that, Microsoft is expected to make 10X available on regular clamshell PCs. Windows 10X has a simpler UI, which could make it more appealing on devices aimed at schools. In addition to showing off new devices from partners at Bett next week, Microsoft will be demonstrating how educators can use PowerPoint Live presentations for training; its Stream video service plus Flipgrid Camera for creating student and/or teacher videos; its just-released new Edge browser; and OneNote Live Captions. Source
  12. Microsoft is expected to release a major software update on Tuesday, January 14 that will fix an "extraordinarily serious security vulnerability" affecting a core cryptographic component found in all versions of Windows. This will be the first Patch Tuesday release of 2020 from Microsoft. January 14 is also the day that Microsoft will end support for Windows 7. As reported by KrebsOnSecurity, Microsoft has already rolled out a patch to fix the bug for the U.S. military and other important high-profile clients and customers. These clients have been asked to sign agreements preventing them from disclosing details of the flaw on or before January 14, 2020. The flaw is found in the crypt32.dll system file which handles "certificate and cryptographic messaging functions in the CryptoAPI." It is also used by the Microsoft CryptoAPI that is used for securing cryptography applications and encrypting/decrypting digital certificates. This component is used by key Microsoft apps like Internet Explorer and Edge to securely handle sensitive data. A flaw in the crypt32.dll can be used to spoof digital signatures which can be used by attackers to make malware appear a safe and genuine app on your PC. The report also states that the NSA's Director of Cybersecurity Anne Neuberger is scheduled to host a press conference on January 14 where she will "provide advanced notification of a current cybersecurity issue." Microsoft on its part has already issued a statement saying that it does not discuss any vulnerabilities before rolling out a fix for them. It also made it clear that it does not roll out production-ready updates before its regular Update Tuesday schedule. Source: Microsoft expected to patch a serious security bug affecting all Windows versions today (via Neowin)
  13. Microsoft CEO believes backdoors aren't the answer Satya Nadella chooses privacy and public safety over backdoors (Image credit: Mike Moore) As Apple is once again in the midst of another fight over encryption following a recent shooting at Pensacola naval base, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella weighed in with his thoughts on the encryption question. During a recent meeting with reporters, Nadella reiterated Microsoft's opposition to encryption backdoors while also expressing support for future legal and technical solutions, saying: “I do think backdoors are a terrible idea, that is not the way to go about this. We’ve always said we care about these two things: privacy and public safety. We need some legal and technical solution in our democracy to have both of those be priorities.” However, Microsoft's CEO also expressed support for key escrow systems which researchers have previously proposed versions of. Encryption debate The encryption systems Apple uses on its iPhones first became a point of controversy following the 2016 San Bernardino shooting. At that time, the company was urged by law enforcement agencies to help them unlock the shooter's iPhone as it may have contained valuable information. While Apple ultimately ended up not unlocking the iPhone involved in the 2016 attack, a recent shooting at a naval base in Pensacola has reopened the encryption debate. A Saudi national undergoing flight training with the US Navy killed three people and injured eight in the attack. However, two iPhones linked to the attacker are still protected via Apple's device encryption and remain inaccessible to investigators. Nadella may be against backdoors but Microsoft's CEO did not say that companies should never provide data under such circumstances. He did make the case for possible legislative solutions when it comes to encryption though, saying: “We can’t take hard positions on all sides... [but if they’re] asking me for a backdoor, I’ll say no. My hope is that in our democracy these are the things that arrive at legislative solutions.” Source: Microsoft CEO believes backdoors aren't the answer (TechRadar)
  14. Microsoft built it, and no one came. No wonder Redmond is emphasizing corporation over creativity now. Shutting down Microsoft’s Remix3D art repository feels like something more than just ending a project that failed to gain traction. It feels like one of the last gasps of an era when Microsoft wanted to bring creativity to all Windows users. When we compiled our list of Microsoft’s 2019 hits and misses, Microsoft The Musical, conceived and performed by company interns, stood out as a breath of fresh air. It said, yeah, we toil away writing code all day, but we’re more than nerds. We’re creative nerds. That’s exactly what Remix3D represented. Remix3D was part of Paint 3D, an app that lets you create dioramas and other 3D objects. Remix3D was the cloud repository that allowed you to upload your own creations, but also incorporate others’ art into your own scenes. It was cool, anyone with Windows could do it, and it was free. It’s all about the bottom line A few years ago, something began to change. These were days when Microsoft still titled Windows feature updates with their own mission statement: the Creators Update, for example. Before the Creators Update actually shipped in March of 2017, however, someone at Microsoft began prioritizing productivity over creativity. We still saw a few more fun tools for consumers: The Video Editor app Microsoft previewed with the Fall Creators Update a few months later, for instance, let you jazz up your kid’s soccer video by transforming the ball into a meteor. And like Photos, Paint 3D, and the rest, Video Editor was free. Behind the scenes, however, Micorosft was quietly beginning to put away the paints and brushes and wood chisels, deciding instead to focus solely on the canvas, also known as Office 365. Here’s a white sheet of paper. Draw on it. Color it. Collaborate. Share. Publish. And we’ll charge you an annual subscription to keep doing so. In the years since, some elements of Microsoft’s creative vision for consumers have died of neglect: RIP Capture 3D, Windows Mixed Reality, Groove Music Maker. Others have found a real job. HoloLens, for example, has become less of a gateway to adventure and more of a corporate tool for training sessions and architectural visualizations. Interestingly, at the same time that Microsoft is shedding consumer creative apps, a small but growing niche of PCs and peripherals, including Microsoft’s Surface Studio and Acer’s ConceptD, is rising to address the emerging “creator class.” These professionals specialize in video, design, and other graphics-intensive tasks. The applications they wield are not cute amusements like Paint 3D, but high-end applications from companies like Adobe, where “creativity” ships with its own enterprise license. You can understand why this motivated, capital-expenditure-rich user base would be worth pursuing, and why, as a result, less and less attention is being paid to nurturing the creative efforts of individual users. Closing Remix3D has even diminished the few remaining creative apps within Windows. If you edit a photo within Windows 10’s Photos app, you won’t be able to add 3D objects to your scene any more, though the menu option remains. We’re not saying that creativity is dead within Redmond. But it’s receded from the public eye. Remember when Microsoft and other companies hosted demo days, where researchers would show off their visions of the future? Those days seem long gone. Microsoft’s home for personal projects, the Microsoft Garage, houses apps like “Ink to Code” instead of cool experiments like “Ear Hockey.” Engineering has replaced artistry, and collaboration has replaced creation. I can almost hear Microsoft employees objecting: Collaboration is creation! Yes, to a point. Jointly developing a planning document to guide a new housing development is both a creative process, and part and parcel of Microsoft’s enterprise business model. That means more resources to develop Microsoft Teams than the wonderful, forgotten Fresh Paint. It’s also hard to separate Microsoft’s creative ennui from the slow decline of its consumer business, as Zune, Groove Music, Microsoft Band, Windows Phone, and more have fallen by the wayside. Those days with Bill Gates riffing with Jerry Seinfeld? Long gone. The one bright spot is Xbox, which has supplemented its sequel-heavy AAA games lineup with the Game Pass subscription, which puts innovative smaller indie games in front of a mainstream audience. There’s a lot to look forward to in 2020: Windows 10X, the Surface Duo and Surface Neo, a new Xbox, and more. All of these are platforms upon which creators could thrive. I just miss the days when Microsoft seemed poised to develop a bold, rich, daring ecosystem of first-party creative apps for consumers, before bowing once again to the Office juggernaut. It wasn’t always this way. Closing Remix3D feels like more than just the end of a product at Microsoft. It’s the end of a more joyful time. Source
  15. Fewer versions, more focus. Now that Microsoft has ended support for Windows 7, it has an opportunity to rethink how it manages its operating system. It would be a good time to take some lessons from its age-old enemy, Apple: Stop doing some things that make Windows upgrades onerous, and start doing some things that will keep Windows users faithful and happy. Some particularly important things to stop and start come to mind, like: Stop: Charging for upgrades Microsoft fell far short of its widely publicized goal to get a billion people to upgrade to Windows 10 within three years. It’s not hard to see why. While Microsoft offered a long grace period to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, those who missed the deadline have to pay up (unless certain unofficial loopholes to upgrade to Windows 10 for free still work). Windows 10 Home costs $139, while Windows 10 Pro, which brings “enterprise-grade security, powerful management tools like single sign-on, and enhanced productivity with Remote Desktop and Cortana,” will set you back $200. I get why Microsoft still charges OEMs for Windows 10 licenses—it makes a lot of money. Even though CEO Satya Nadella admitted, “the operating system is no longer the most important layer for us,” Windows is still the biggest cog in the trillion-dollar Microsoft machine. There are more than a billion devices, just as many active users, and oodles of third-party licenses. But the end user shouldn’t ever pay. Apple hasn’t charged a penny for an upgrade since Mavericks landed in 2013. The simple fact that Microsoft still charges for upgrades—sometimes even on new Windows 10 devices—is just plain wrong. Start: Sticking with the same UI Another big reason why so many people refused to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 or Windows 10 wasn’t budget constraints, laziness, or even hardware compatibility. It was the Big Change. Windows 8 represented a massive departure from the old way of Windows in just about every way, with a new start menu, a tablet-oriented tile interface, and an app structure. Windows 10 fixed most of Windows 8’s biggest problems, but the scars remain to this day. If you look back at the original Mac OS X release from 2000, it’s really not all that different than it is now. It’s the same with Android or iOS: Users expect annual upgrades, but the wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented to keep things fresh. Microsoft has changed the look of its OS numerous times over the years. Now that Windows 7 is dead, Windows 10 needs to be the way forward. So please keep it the way it is (for the most part) for the foreseeable future. Stop: Having so many versions of Windows On the Mac, there’s just macOS Catalina, whether you’re running a $799 Mac mini or a $50,000 Mac Pro. And the next version, and the version after that, and the one after that will be the same. When a new version of macOS arrives, no one needs to figure out which version they’re getting. We click Update, it installs, and life goes on. Meanwhile, on the Microsoft side, it’s hard to keep up with all the different versions of Windows 10. There’s Windows 10 S, Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Education and Pro Education, Windows 10 Enterprise, and the dual-screen-friendly Windows 10X. Who can forget when Windows 10 Mobile was a thing? This is the most confounding thing about Windows from the perspective of Mac users. I can understand why you might need an Enterprise version, but that’s it. Why should Windows 10 Home people be deprived of the better security in Windows 10 Pro? Why sell a stripped-down, “streamlined” Windows 10 S version tied to the Windows Store, but also offer to switch users to the fuller-featured Windows 10 Pro? It’s all very confusing. Because most Windows users will stick with the OS that comes with their PC, Microsoft should simply offer a single consumer version of Windows: Windows 10. Give it all of the “pro” features, deliver regular updates, and make everyone happy. Start: Embracing the Surface Neo The Surface Neo is Microsoft’s most exciting product in years, because it wasn’t built around Windows. The biggest lesson Windows can take into the future doesn't come from Apple, but from Microsoft itself: the dual-display, 360-degree-convertible Surface Neo. It's one of the most exciting products of 2020, and even though it won’t arrive until the end of the year, it's already having an impact on the next generation of Windows. When Apple designs a product, it doesn’t try to cram it into the existing version of iOS or macOS—it designs both to work in tandem. The hardware dictates the software features and plots the way forward. That’s how it is with the Surface Neo. Microsoft didn’t try to cram the existing Windows 10 architecture into a new device. It crafted both together into a new platform, Windows 10X. Granted, I asked for fewer versions of Windows 10 earlier in this story, but Windows 10X has a distinct purpose. When you buy a Windows 10X device, you’ll know that you’re getting an experience built for the hardware that runs it, not the other way around. It’s like Apple with iOS and iPadOS: The two operating systems are largely the same, but the separation actually eliminates confusion. The Surface Neo is easily the most exciting Microsoft device since the Surface, not because of its gorgeous hardware, but because of how beautiful the hardware and software integrate. Stop: Looking backward The Surface Neo also reflects Nadella's vision that Windows isn’t the future of Microsoft—in fact, OSes aren’t all that important at all. Apps, services, and hardware are the way forward. Case in point: Next year’s Surface Duo smartphone runs Android instead of Windows—but it will still be a Microsoft device. Sometime between the launch of Windows 10 and the death of Windows 7, Microsoft finally realized that a platform and an OS needn’t be one and the same. A Microsoft device running Microsoft apps using the Microsoft launcher on a forked version of Android isn’t any less on-brand than a Surface running Windows 10. Microsoft is leading the conversation with the Surface Neo in a way the other Surface devices never did. If it’s truly going to move beyond the traditional Windows model, it needs to do more of this. You know, like Apple. Source
  16. Microsoft highlights historical tech innovations, including the Windows Subsystem for Linux, that were enabled in the same way Google used Java APIs. IBM, Microsoft and other tech companies have filed court documents in support of Google ahead of the Supreme Court of the US hearing over whether copyright applies to software application programming interfaces. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the Google vs Oracle case in March, after the court last year agreed to reconsider a favorable decision towards Oracle by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 2014. The court reversed a federal court jury decision that Google's use of Java API packages in its Android operating system constituted "fair use". Google filed its opening brief on January 6 and since then dozens of stakeholders, including IBM, Microsoft, and Firefox-maker Mozilla, have filed a total of 27 'friend of the court' briefs outlining opposition to the idea that software APIs should be copyrightable. "Computer interfaces are not copyrightable. That simple, yet powerful principle has been a cornerstone of technological and economic growth for over 60 years," IBM opens up in its filing. "Not once, until this case, has a Court of Appeals held that software interfaces are protected by copyright separate and apart from the code embodying the implementation of those interfaces. This is not because this principle is fringe; it is because it has always been accepted – based on legal precedent dating back 140 years." Microsoft said the Court of Appeals decision "takes an unduly narrow view of fair use that elevates functional code to the same level of copyright protection as the creative expression in a novel". Microsoft added that the court also applied a "problematically narrow standard" for evaluating 'transformative use' of functional code. "While Google used the software interfaces at issue for the same purpose as in Oracle's Java platform – allowing a program to invoke computer functionalities – it incorporated them into a completely different platform that opened new possibilities for programmers and consumers," wrote Microsoft. The company argues that open APIs are critical to interoperable systems, spanning documents, Internet browsers, the cloud, the Internet of Things, and smart home products. It explains the implications of companies being able to copyright APIs in a way that non-technical judges may easily understand. "If, as in computing's early days, every device had its own proprietary interface, one could never add a product outside a particular vendor's offerings to the system. But in today's interoperable ecosystem, consumers generally can choose smart products based on their merits and functionality, without worrying about compatibility with their existing system," wrote Microsoft. Microsoft details major historical examples where developers have repurposed functions in the same way that Google used Java APIs, pointing to Compaq, Dell, and others' use of functional elements of IBM's PC BIOS APIs in the 1980s to create an ecosystem of IBM-compatible PCs. It goes on to highlight the open-source WINE program that developers used in the 1990s to run Windows applications on Linux machines. "Years later, Microsoft created 'the inverse of WINE', reimplementing the structure of certain Linux APIs to create the Windows Subsystem for Linux, a program that allowed Linux programs to run on Windows," Microsoft explains. Microsoft's points are aligned with recent comments by Google's chief legal officer, Kent Walker. "Open interfaces between programs are the building blocks of many of the services and products we use today, as well as of technologies we haven't yet imagined," wrote Walker. "An Oracle win would upend the way the technology industry has always approached the important issue of software interfaces. It would for the first time grant copyright owners a monopoly power to stymie the creation of new implementations and applications. And it would make it harder and costlier for developers and startups to create more products for people to use." Source
  17. Where can i download Microsoft exams and training papers for free? Papers like MCSE, MCSA and other exams.
  18. By Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft Microsoft is going to deprecate the Windows Store for Business and Store for Education, my contacts say, as the company works to undo past Windows 10 app-distribution mistakes. Microsoft is continuing to try to clean up its digital app-store mess. Its latest planned move, according to my contacts: Get rid of the Microsoft Store for Business and Microsoft Store for Education. The Microsoft Store, originally known as the Windows Store, is Microsoft's online app store that is built into Windows 10. In 2015, Microsoft started testing a couple of companion digital stores: The Microsoft Store for Business and the Microsoft Store for Education. The Store for Business and Store for Education were designed for admins who wanted to make applications available to their users outside of the normal Windows Store channel in Windows 10. They allow admins to make Store apps available to their users for volume acquisition and distribution, as well as provide a way for custom line-of-business distribution only inside a particular organization As Microsoft officials acknowledged last year, Microsoft's original plan to try to convince developers to create Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps that would be updatable and distributable solely via the Microsoft Store failed to materialize. Many developers didn't see Windows -- growth of which is slowing -- as a platform for which it would be worth the time and effort to write new UWP apps and/or adapt their existing Win32 ones. Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of the Windows Developer Platform Kevin Gallo told me last spring, Microsoft's current positioning is Windows 10 apps don't need to be in the Store only. "The Store is about commerce. It's another channel for distribution," but not the only way Windows 10 users will be able to get apps, Gallo said last spring. To date, Microsoft hasn't said anything publicly about what's going to happen to any of its digital app stores. But privately, officials across various teams at the company have been trying to come up with a concerted strategy, I've heard. That strategy does not call for Microsoft to drop the Web version of the Microsoft Store. I'm not sure what will happen to the Microsoft Store client that's built into Windows 10 right now; my contacts say its future is "uncertain" at this point. It does sound as though the team that owns the digital stores has decided that the Store for Business and Store for Education definitely will be deprecated. I've heard talk that the end of the current fiscal year, meaning June 30, 2020, is currently the planned deprecation deadline, though I am not sure if is the intended date for informing customers or date for actually axing the Store for Business/Store for Education. (My guess is Microsoft will give business and education users more than a few months' notice.) Gallo told me last spring that Microsoft was contemplating ways to let users know that Windows apps were recommended and trusted by Microsoft. My contacts say Microsoft is still focused on coming up with approaches via which users could trust, discover and download signed apps without them necessarily being in the Store. I don't know if Microsoft plans to have some kind of service(s) like these in place before it closes the Store for Business and Store for Education. I asked Microsoft for comment on all this and was told by a spokesperson that the company "had nothing to share." I believe quite a few business customers are using the Microsoft Store for Business. Some use it simply to uninstall the in-box apps that ship as part of Windows 10 by adding these apps to the Microsoft Store for Business, syncing them to Intune and then directing Intune to uninstall them. There's also a "Private Store" feature that is part of the Store for Business and Store for Education. But I don't think many use this because many business users don't need or care about UWP apps, and because the Private Store's current functionality is quite limited. Microsoft doesn't seem to have added any new features or functionality to the Store for Business since 2018, at least based on what I see in the Microsoft Store for Business and Education documentation. Source
  19. REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft says it has developed a technique to detect online predators who try to groom children for sexual purposes using the chat function in multiplayer video games. The tech company, which makes the Xbox gaming system, announced today that it's sharing the tool with nonprofit organizations and other gaming and messaging service developers. Nicknamed “Project Artemis,” the tool automatically scans text-based conversations and rates them on the probability that a user might be trying sexually exploit children. Human moderators are able to review flagged conversations to determine if they should report them to law enforcement. An engineering team led by Dartmouth College digital forensics expert Hany Farid developed the technique. Microsoft worked with Farid and the makers of messaging services like Kik and the popular game Roblox. It will be distributed for free starting Friday through the anti-trafficking group Thorn. Source
  20. The Chromium-based Edge will launch later this month and Microsoft has started sharing essential information about the browser, including how to disable various features in your environment. Microsoft says the new Edge will be pushed via Windows Update to supported versions of Windows 10 and it replaces the existing Edge as the default web browser. When installed, Microsoft plans to use 'Experimentation and Configuration Service (ECS)' in Edge to request and receive different kinds of configurations, feature rollouts, and experiments. In other words, Experimentation and Configuration Service (ECS) allows Microsoft to turn on and test experimental Edge's features, improvements and bug fixes without a user's knowledge or permission. While ECS experiments aim to improve the browsing experience, they can also create problems for enterprises and administrators. For example, in November Google used a similar concept to enable an experimental WebContent Occlusion feature that caused the browser to show a white screen for enterprise users. The experimental feature was rolled back after furious admins complained. If you want to be on a safer side, you can disable Microsoft Edge's communication with the experiment service by installing the Microsoft Edge group policies. Disable A/B testing service in Microsoft Edge Download and install the Microsoft Edge Policy file from the Microsoft Edge Enterprise site. Once installed, open the Group Policy Editor via Start menu or search. In Group Policy Editor, under Computer Configuration, right-click on Administrative Templates and select Add/Remove Templates. When the Add/Remote Templates window appears, click on Add and navigate to the C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions\en-US folder and select msedge.adm as shown below. Then click on the Open button. Add Microsoft Edge Template Close the Add/Remove Templates window. Now go to Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Classic Administrative Templates and then click on Microsoft Edge. Look through the list of policies and double-click on the Control communication with the experimentation and configuration service option. You can then select one of the following three configurations depending on what you wish to do — Retrieve configurations only, Retrieve configurations and experiments, and Disable communication with the service. Descriptions of what each setting does can be found here. Configure Policy Once you select the option you wish to use, you can close the Group Policy Editor and the policy will be configured. Microsoft warns that disabling the communication with this service could affect the company's ability to patch bugs in the Edge browser. Source
  21. Microsoft said it got a court order to seize 50 websites used by a hacker group with ties to North Korea that targeted government employees, universities, human rights organizations and nuclear proliferation groups in the U.S., Japan and South Korea. The group, known as Thallium, uses the network of websites, domains and connected computers to send out “spear phising” emails. Hackers gather as much information on targets as they can to personalize messages and make them appear legitimate. When the target clicks on a link in the email, hackers are then able to “compromise their online accounts, infect their computers, compromise the security of their networks and steal sensitive information,” Microsoft wrote in a blog post. Microsoft showed an example of one of Thallium’s spear phishing messages. It looks very much like a standard notification that comes with signing into a Microsoft account in a new location. One big difference, Microsoft says, is the group combined the letters “r” and “n” in the domain name to look like the first letter “m” in “microsoft.com.” Microsoft, through its Digital Crimes Unit and Threat Intelligence Center, has positioned itself as an important line of defense against so-called “nation state” hacking organizations. Microsoft has in recent years taken on hacking groups with ties to China, Iran and Russia. The tech giant uses the information it gathers from tracking these hackers to beef up its security products. Microsoft recommended a number of actions organizations can take to better protect themselves, including enabling two-factor authentication on business and personal email accounts, training people to spot phising attempts and enabling security alerts about links and files from suspicious websites. Source: MSN
  22. Microsoft has some exciting Xbox and Surface hardware coming in 2020 Microsoft had a big year this year in terms of new hardware. It introduced the Surface Pro 7 with Ice Lake processors and a USB Type-C port, the Surface Laptop 3 with a new 15-inch flavor, and the Surface Pro X, its first Windows 10 on ARM PC. While this year's devices are certainly exciting and meaningful improvements over their predecessors, next year's will be even better. Microsoft has pre-announced more hardware for 2020 than it probably ever has in years past. And those are just the things that we know about. Let's have a look. Confirmed for 2020 Xbox Series X Yes, the next generation of the Xbox is coming in 2020. It will support 4K 60fps gaming, or up to 120fps, with support for Variable Refresh Rate. Moreover, it will support four generations of Xbox games, going all the way back to the original Xbox. And then, of course, we have games like Halo Infinite to look forward to. Surface Neo (and Windows 10X) At its October hardware event this year, Microsoft announced the Surface Neo, its dual-screen foldable PC. It runs a new version of Windows called Windows 10X, an OS that's made for foldable and dual-screen PCs. The Surface Neo has two nine-inch displays, and an attachable keyboard, making it easy to use as a laptop. Surface Duo It's the long-awaited Surface phone, except it's running Android. Basically a smaller version of the Surface Neo but with a different OS, Microsoft has yet to tell us why we need a dual-screen foldable smartphone with Microsoft apps that anyone can get from the Google Play Store. But that's a story that the company will tell in 2020. Surface Hub 2X Microsoft first announced the Surface Hub 2 in May 2018, but it didn't tell the whole story. Later that year, it said that the product will be split into two, the Surface Hub 2S and Surface Hub 2X. The Surface Hub 2S shipped this year, with a similar feature set to the original Surface Hub. The 2X is coming in 2020 with the features that were originally promised for the Surface Hub 2. It includes features like Dynamic Rotation, and as seen in the picture above, you can tile them next to each other. The Surface Hub 2 itself has a modular design, so you'll be able to take out the 2S compute unit and replace it with the 2X compute unit. Unconfirmed for 2020 Surface Book 3 (Very likely) Surface Book 2 The Surface Book 2 is over two years old now, and we're expecting the Book 3 at a spring hardware event. It's unclear why it didn't show up at this year's hardware event, especially if it's just a spec bump. Perhaps there will be more meaningful changes. After all, gen three is usually when a Surface product hits maturity. Surface Studio 3 (Very likely) Surface Studio 2 The Surface Studio 2 is just over a year old, but this one actually shipped with out-of-date hardware. It's got a seventh-generation mobile CPU, while eighth-gen was out at the time. Like the Surface Book 2, it includes Nvidia GeForce 10xx GPUs, so that's another thing that could be refreshed. Surface Go 2 (Probably) Surface Go Microsoft's Surface Go is almost a year and a half old, so if the company does plan to refresh it, it's time. It's a $399 device with a Pentium Gold processor, making it the only Surface that's not aimed at the premium market. Perhaps an ARM-based model might make sense for the next iteration, using Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 7c or 8c. Surface Pro 8 (Possibly) Surface Pro 7 Microsoft has introduced a new Surface Pro in each of the last three years. The only problem with a Surface Pro 8 is that Intel doesn't have an 11th-generation U-series processor lined up, at least for the first half of the year. Microsoft did jump on top of Ice Lake early, so anything is possible. What's also possible is that the Surface Pro 8 could be a redesign, similar to what happened with the Surface Pro 3. The Pro 3 had similar internals to the Pro 2, but it was bigger, thinner, and lighter. The existing Pro series is getting a bit long in the tooth, with large bezels and a design that's starting to feel dated, especially when sitting next to the new Surface Pro X. Surface Laptop 4 (Unlikely) Surface Laptop 3 Again, this is something that really depends on what Intel has planned. Intel is still going to be announcing additions to its 10th-generation lineup well into next summer, so I'm not sure what Microsoft could really do with the Surface Laptop in 2020. It's not going to be a redesign, since Microsoft put so much work into reengineering the product with the Laptop 3. The only real possibility is if Intel does put out an 11th-generation CPU next fall. Surface Pro X 2 (Unlikely) Surface Pro X At Qualcomm's Snapdragon Technology Summit this year, the company announced the Snapdragon 7c and Snapdragon 8c, two new ARM chipsets that are aimed at entry-level and mainstream PCs. What was notably missing was a new Snapdragon 8cx. This year's Surface Pro X included a slightly modified version of the Snapdragon 8cx, called the Microsoft SQ1, so in other words, there's no new chipset to build the next iteration of the device on. Naturally, that could change, as I don't expect Qualcomm to wait until next year's Tech Summit to introduce the Snapdragon 8cx vNext. But historically, we've had to wait at least six months from when a new chipset is announced to when devices show up. Right now, there have been three PCs announced with the Snapdragon 8cx, and the Surface Pro X is the only one you can buy. Samsung's Galaxy Book S is delayed, and Lenovo's Project Limitless is coming next year. Source: Microsoft has some exciting Xbox and Surface hardware coming in 2020 (Neowin)
  23. It's that time of the month again when Microsoft unleashes an array of updates to all of the supported versions of Windows. This includes, of course, multiple versions of Windows 10, but also Windows 7 and 8.1. As usual, each OS gets two different kinds of updates - a monthly rollup and a security-only update. For Windows 8.1, the monthly rollup update is KB4530702, and it can be downloaded manually from here. It comes with a single change: Security updates to Windows Virtualization, Windows Kernel, Windows Peripherals, the Microsoft Scripting Engine, and Windows Server. The security-only update is KB4530730, and it can be downloaded manually from here. The changelog is very similar, except there's no update for the Microsoft Scripting Engine. Both updates have the same known issue, which has been around for months: Symptom Workaround Certain operations, such as rename, that you perform on files or folders that are on a Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) may fail with the error, “STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”. This occurs when you perform the operation on a CSV owner node from a process that doesn’t have administrator privilege. Do one of the following: Perform the operation from a process that has administrator privilege. Perform the operation from a node that doesn’t have CSV ownership. Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release. As for Windows 7, the monthly rollup update is KB4530734, and it can be downloaded manually from here. The changelog is very similar to the one for Windows 8.1: Security updates to Windows Input and Composition, Windows Virtualization, Windows Kernel, Windows Peripherals, the Microsoft Scripting Engine, and Windows Server. The security-only update is KB4530692 and it can be downloaded manually here. It has a similar changelog, but just like Windows 8.1, it doesn't include updates to the Microsoft Scripting Engine. Neither update has any known issues. It's worth noting that this is the second last update you will ever get unless you're using a business machine ad your company opts to pay for extended security updates. Windows 7 support will end on January 15, after which, no more updates will be released. You may want to consider upgrading to a newer version of Windows to stay secure. Source: Here's what's new for Windows 7 and 8.1 this Patch Tuesday (via Neowin)
  24. Today is Patch Tuesday, the second Tuesday of the month in which Microsoft releases updates for all supported versions of Windows 10. These updates are mandatory, so if you don't choose to install them now, they'll be installed automatically at some point. Normally, Microsoft released optional updates in the middle of the month, but that didn't happen this time, oddly enough. If you're on Windows 10 version 1903 or 1909, you'll get KB4530684, bringing the build number to 18362.535 or 18363.535, respectively. You can manually download it here, and there's one highlight: Updates to improve security when Windows performs basic operations. Here's the full list of fixes: Addresses an issue that might cause error 0x3B in cldflt.sys on some devices. Addresses an issue that might prevent you from creating a local user account using the Input Method Editor (IME) for Chinese, Japanese, or Korean languages. This issue occurs when setting up a new Windows device during the Out of Box Experience (OOBE). Security updates to Windows Virtualization, Windows Kernel, the Microsoft Scripting Engine, and Windows Server. Those on the Windows 10 November 2018 Update, or version 1809, will get KB4530715, bringing the build number to 17763.914. You can manually download it here, and these are the highlights: Updates to improve security when Windows performs basic operations. Updates to improve security when using external devices (such as game controllers and web cameras). Updates an issue in which the Microsoft Store might fail to open on Windows on Arm. Here's the full list of fixes: Addresses an issue with diagnostic data processing when a device has the Diagnostic data setting enabled and set to Basic. Addresses an issue in which the Microsoft Store might fail to open on Windows on Arm. Security updates to Windows Virtualization, Windows Kernel, Windows Peripherals, the Microsoft Scripting Engine, and Windows Server. This one also has several known issues: Symptom Workaround Certain operations, such as rename, that you perform on files or folders that are on a Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) may fail with the error, “STATUS_BAD_ IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”. This occurs when you perform the operation on a CSV owner node from a process that doesn’t have administrator privilege. Do one of the following: Perform the operation from a process that has administrator privilege. Perform the operation from a node that doesn’t have CSV ownership. Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release. After installing KB4493509, devices with some Asian language packs installed may receive the error, "0x800f0982 - PSFX_E_MATCHING_ COMPONENT_NOT_FOUND." Uninstall and reinstall any recently added language packs. For instructions, see Manage the input and display language settings in Windows 10. Select Check for Updates and install the April 2019 Cumulative Update. For instructions, see Update Windows 10. Note If reinstalling the language pack does not mitigate the issue, reset your PC as follows: Go to the Settings app > Recovery. Select Get Started under the Reset this PC recovery option. Select Keep my Files. Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release. When setting up a new Windows device during the Out of Box Experience (OOBE), you might be unable to create a local user when using Input Method Editor (IME). This issue might affect you if you are using the IME for Chinese, Japanese, or Korean languages. Note This issue does not affect using a Microsoft Account during OOBE. To mitigate this issue, set the keyboard language to English during user creation or use a Microsoft Account to complete OOBE. You can set the keyboard language back to your preferred language after user creation. Once the OOBE is done and you are at the desktop, you can rename the current user using these instructions. If you prefer to create a new local user, see KB4026923. Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release. If you're on the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, or version 1803, you'll get KB4537017, bringing the build number to 17134.1184. You can manually download it here, and these are the highlights: Updates to improve security when Windows performs basic operations. Updates to improve security when using external devices (such as game controllers and web cameras). Updates an issue in which the Microsoft Store might fail to open on Windows on Arm. Here's the full list of fixes: Addresses an issue in which the Microsoft Store might fail to open on Windows on Arm. Security updates to Windows Virtualization, Windows Kernel, Windows Peripherals, the Microsoft Scripting Engine, and Windows Server . There are also a couple of known issues to be aware of: Symptom Workaround Certain operations, such as rename, that you perform on files or folders that are on a Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) may fail with the error, “STATUS_BAD_ IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”. This occurs when you perform the operation on a CSV owner node from a process that doesn’t have administrator privilege. Do one of the following: Perform the operation from a process that has administrator privilege. Perform the operation from a node that doesn’t have CSV ownership. Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release. When setting up a new Windows device during the Out of Box Experience (OOBE), you might be unable to create a local user when using Input Method Editor (IME). This issue might affect you if you are using the IME for Chinese, Japanese, or Korean languages. Note This issue does not affect using a Microsoft Account during OOBE. To mitigate this issue, set the keyboard language to English during user creation or use a Microsoft Account to complete OOBE. You can set the keyboard language back to your preferred language after user creation. Once the OOBE is done and you are at the desktop, you can rename the current user using these instructions. If you prefer to create a new local user, see KB4026923. Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release. Like Windows 10 version 1803, version 1709 is only supported for Enterprise and Education SKUs of Windows 10. Those users will get KB4530714, bringing the build number to 16299.1565. You can manually download it here, and the release notes are exactly the same as the ones for the update to version 1803. Note that if you're on Windows 10 Mobile, you'll also be getting your last update today, as it will no longer be supported. Windows 10 version 1703 is only supported for the original Surface Hub, but those users will get KB4530711, bringing the build number to 15063.2224. You can manually download it here, and these are the highlights: Updates to improve security when Windows performs basic operations. Updates to improve security when using external devices (such as game controllers and web cameras). Here are the fixes: Addresses an issue with evaluating the compatibility status of the Windows ecosystem to help ensure application and device compatibility for all updates to Windows. Security updates to Windows Virtualization, Windows Kernel, Windows Peripherals, the Microsoft Scripting Engine, and Windows Server. Windows 10 version 1607 is only supported through the Long-Term Servicing Channel and for Windows Server 2016, but those users will get KB4530689, bringing the build number to 14393.3384. You can manually download it here, and these are the highlights: Updates to improve security when Windows performs basic operations. Updates to improve security when using external devices (such as game controllers and web cameras). Updates to improve security when using input devices such as a mouse, keyboard, or stylus. There's one entry under fixes and improvements: Security updates to Windows Server, Windows Peripherals, Windows Kernel, Windows Virtualization, the Microsoft Scripting Engine, and Windows Input and Composition. And there are two known issues: Symptom Workaround After installing KB4467684, the cluster service may fail to start with the error “2245 (NERR_PasswordTooShort)” if the group policy “Minimum Password Length” is configured with greater than 14 characters. Set the domain default "Minimum Password Length" policy to less than or equal to 14 characters. Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release. Certain operations, such as rename, that you perform on files or folders that are on a Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) may fail with the error, “STATUS_BAD_ IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”. This occurs when you perform the operation on a CSV owner node from a process that doesn’t have administrator privilege. Do one of the following: Perform the operation from a process that has administrator privilege. Perform the operation from a node that doesn’t have CSV ownership. Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release. Finally, the original version of Windows 10, now called version 1507, is getting KB4530681, bringing the build number to 10240.18427. You can manually download it here, and these are the highlights: Updates to improve security when Windows performs basic operations. Updates to improve security when using external devices (such as game controllers and web cameras). There's one thing listed on the changelog: Security updates to Windows Virtualization, Windows Kernel, Windows Peripherals, the Microsoft Scripting Engine, and Windows Server. And finally, one known issue: Symptom Workaround Certain operations, such as rename, that you perform on files or folders that are on a Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) may fail with the error, “STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”. This occurs when you perform the operation on a CSV owner node from a process that doesn’t have administrator privilege. Do one of the following: Perform the operation from a process that has administrator privilege. Perform the operation from a node that doesn’t have CSV ownership. Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release. All of these updates can be obtained through Windows Update, or they'll be installed automatically. Source: Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 18363.535, 17763.xxx - here's what's new (via Neowin)
  25. It's been a few weeks since Microsoft last released a new build of Windows Server to Insiders, but today, build 19035 is available to download. As usual, the build number aligns with the first Windows 10 build released in the Fast ring last week, though releases have been so frequent there that there's already a newer build available. Also as usual, there's no blog post for this build yet, so there's no information on what's new in this release. If Windows 10 development is anything to go by, though, it's likely that there are only fixes and minor improvements here, since the next major update is expected to RTM sometime this month. If you'd like to download the latest build of Windows Server, you can do so from the Windows Insider website. There are also corresponding builds of the Wndows Server Language Packs and the Windows Server App Compatibility FoD. In addition to a new Windows Server build, there's also the usual SDK build, which is also number 19035. Just like Windows Server, there's no changelog for this build, but it's unlikely there are any major additions. You can download the SDK from here, as all as the corresponding builds of the ADK, WDK, and HLK. Source: Microsoft releases Windows Server build 19035 to Insiders (via Neowin)
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