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Microsoft explains timing of Windows 10 updates

Written by admin
August 15th, 2015

Windows 10’s staggered timetable will kick off by early December

If Microsoft follows through on its announced plans for updating and upgrading Windows 10 after the new OS launches in two weeks, it will issue the first update no later than the end of November or early December, then follow with three more in 2016, repeating with a trio each year following.

Lather, rinse, repeat.
The update churn will result in a near-constant patter about upcoming updates and upgrades — Microsoft itself isn’t sure which of those terms apply, using both interchangeably — for customers to digest.

Microsoft has left those customers guessing on answers to a slew of questions about Windows 10 refreshes, ranging from how long the updates and upgrades will appear free of charge to how substantial those changes will be. But it’s talked about the schedule, pulling back the curtain in small jerks.

Here’s what’s known about the timetable and what’s still unknown — or in the infamous words of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the “known unknowns” — as the July 29 release date looms.
Updates will come every four months

According to a Microsoft-hosted webinar in late April, Windows 10 will receive updates about every four months, or three times a year.

It’s likely that Microsoft won’t hew to a set schedule, as does Mozilla, which rolls out a new edition of Firefox at almost-sacrosanct six-week intervals. Microsoft could trim the time between updates or extend the timeline, depending on whether it’s satisfied with the quality and composition of the new build, or even on external factors, like the calendar.

If Microsoft wanted to present a newer Windows 10 for the end-of-year holiday sales season, for example, it would like to have that on new devices no later than mid-November, meaning a release — or, at least, finished code — in October.

Such flexibility is not guaranteed: We simply don’t know because Microsoft won’t say, or doesn’t know itself.

But on average, expect to see updates/upgrades spaced out every four months.

The first update will appear before year’s end

Four months from the July 29 launch date would be November 29, close to the start of winter in the northern hemisphere.

Although that date may not be set in stone, it’s clear that to make good on its promises Microsoft must roll out a finished first update/upgrade before year’s end.

That alone will be a record for the company: The previous shortest lag has been the six months between Windows 8.1 (launched Oct. 17, 2013) and Windows 8.1 Update (April 8, 2014).

Consumers as guinea pigs get the first update

The first update/upgrade will be primarily, perhaps exclusively, for consumers, delivered to devices running Windows 10 Home by default via the Windows Update service. Microsoft is calling that update cadence or track “Current Branch” (CB), part of the new release lexicon the Redmond, Wash. company’s invented.

Those running the more advanced Windows 10 Pro can also adopt the consumer-speed CB track. People most likely to do so are the power users, enthusiasts and work-at-homers with a Pro edition, as companies — which also widely deploy the various Windows’ Professional or Pro SKUs (stock-keeping units) — will probably play it conservative and instead take updates from the Current Branch for Business (CBB) after they have moved to Windows 10 Pro.

Not everyone on CB will get the first update at the same time
Microsoft has provided some update flexibility (its take) or complicated matters (the cynic’s view) by segmenting each “branch” into “rings.” The latter is a second release timing mechanism that lets customers receive a branch’s update as soon as the build is approved via a “fast” ring, or delay the update’s arrival using a “slow” ring.

Rings on the CB were confirmed only this week by Terry Myerson, chief of the company’s OS and devices division, and may number more than the two: Again, Microsoft’s not elaborated.

The Windows Insider preview program, which will continue to run after July 29, has put devices into the slow ring by default; Microsoft may or may not do the same with the CB.

The one certainty is that not everyone on the CB will get the update immediately. “Some consumers just want to go first. And we have consumers that say, ‘I’m okay not being first,'” Myerson said on Monday.

Most business PCs won’t get the first update until the Spring of 2016
Because Microsoft will be using its Insider participants, and more importantly the millions of consumers running Windows 10, as testers, it will not release builds to businesses at the same time as those on the Current Branch.

With the four-month stretch between updates/upgrades and the automatic delay built into the Current Branch for Business (CBB), customers on the latter will not receive the first build until next year: On a strict schedule, that will be at the end of March or beginning of April 2016.

Microsoft’s doing it this way, it’s said, to produce more bug-free code to its most important users, businesses. Microsoft figures that the four months will shake out more bugs so that those running Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise will get a more stable update with a correspondingly lower risk of something breaking.

Users of Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise can stick with the old way of managing updates — using Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) or another patch-management product — or go with the new Windows Update for Business (WUB), an analog to the consumer-ish Windows Update service.

Those on WUB must deploy a given build within four months of its release or Microsoft will shut off the patch spigot: That means CBB users applying updates/upgrades with WUB must have the first build on their devices by approximately Aug. 1, 2016.

Businesses can delay the first update only so long

Microsoft’s not giving anyone a choice: Either take the updates and upgrades or face a security patch drought. (The one exception: Windows 10 Enterprise.)

The longest delay allowed for CBB will be eight months from a specific build’s release to the branch, or 12 months after the same build has hit the consumers via the CB.

Customers using WSUS or another Microsoft (or third-party) patch management solution must have the first build deployed no later than late November, early December 2016.

Microsoft has talked about rings on the CBB since the May announcement of Windows Update for Business, but as with rings on the CB, details remain muddled. How long the slow ring follows the fast, for instance, is unclear.
Only Windows 10 Enterprise can ignore the updates and upgrades

The only Windows 10 edition that can pass on the constant updates and upgrades is Enterprise, the SKU available solely to organizations that have a volume licensing agreement tied to the annuity-like Software Assurance (SA) program.

The branch available only to Windows 10 Enterprise, dubbed Long-term Servicing Branch, or LSTB, mimics the traditional way Microsoft has handled its OS: Only security patches and critical bug-fixes will reach systems on the LTSB.

Every two to three years, Microsoft will create another LTSB build, integrating some or all of the feature changes released to CB and CBB in the intervening time, then offer that to customers. They will have the option to move to that build — it won’t be mandatory — and can skip at least one build, passing on LTSB 2 (or whatever Microsoft names it), then years later adopting LSTB 3 with an in-place upgrade.

The code released on July 29 will be considered LTSB 1, Microsoft has said, so a second, optional LTSB won’t appear until 2017 at the earliest.
By December 2016, there will be multiple update/upgrade builds being used

The staggered releases Microsoft plans will create a situation where multiple builds are in use at any one time, each by a segment of the Windows 10 device population.

Come December 2016, Microsoft will have issued its fourth build to the CB, and the third to the CBB. But there will be some still using the second build (those on the CBB managing updates with WSUS).

Analysts, however, have largely discounted fragmentation as a factor, arguing that while the delays offered to businesses on the CBB may be disruptive, Windows 10 will ultimately be a more uniform ecosystem than the current mix of vastly different editions of Windows.
What Microsoft gets out of this stretched, staggered release schedule

Microsoft may pitch the Windows 10 update and upgrade schedule as all about customers, but there’s something in it for the company, too.

“Rings will be more about controlling the rate at which the updates flood out into market,” said Steve Kleynhans, an analyst at Gartner, in a recent interview. “With potentially a billion devices … eventually … getting an update, you need some level of flow control or else you could crush your servers and a large part of the Internet. By using rings, Microsoft can stagger the release over the period of days or weeks.”

In fact, the entire cadence, not just the rings, can be envisioned as Microsoft’s way of reducing stress on its update servers. Although the second build for the CB — slated for late March-early April 2016 — will coincide with the launch of the first build for the CBB on Computerworld’s timeline, it will not be a surprise if Microsoft staggers the two by launching first one, then the other.

Microsoft is clearly concerned about server load and the possibility that something could go awry: It’s not releasing the free Windows 10 upgrade to all eligible customers on July 29. Instead, it plans to give the several million Insiders the code first, then gradually trigger upgrades on others’ devices in an unknown number of “waves” that could run weeks or months.

The company will also control demand for the upgrade another way by silently downloading the bits in the background to eligible PCs and tablets, then notifying them on its own schedule that the upgrade is ready to process locally.

It may do the same with later updates and upgrades, Kleynhans speculated.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if under the covers Microsoft uses a separate ring for each week after an OS is released, or maybe even one for each day immediately after it is out,” said Kleynhans. “But these will be mostly invisible to users and really isn’t all the different from the way some updates roll-out today.”
The naming problem

Computerworld has used generic place holders to identify the various update/upgrade releases Microsoft will distribute to Windows 10 — “first build” and “LTSB 2,” for instance — because Microsoft hasn’t talked about how it’s going to name each build.

That will have to change.

“Another factor that Microsoft has yet to discuss is how it will identify each update,” Kleynhans said. “We know that the OS will be called Windows 10 regardless of what updates have been delivered and installed…. But as for identifying the state after each update, we don’t know if Microsoft will stick with the build number, as it has during the preview program, opt for a simplified numbering scheme — something similar to the build number but without the holes in the numbering scheme — go back to point identifiers [like] Window 10 v 10.1 and Windows 10 v 10.2, [as] Apple does with OS X, or maybe use something more date oriented [such as] ‘Windows 10, July 2016.’ There will have to be something to help developers understand what they are facing in the field.”


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It was a marriage of convenience for two industry giants whose past successes weren’t helping them win in the red-hot smartphone market. One year later, it’s hard to say that Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s device business has produced the results its backers envisioned.

In the wake of the US$7.2 billion acquisition, Lumia smartphones and the Windows Phone OS are still running into many of the same market roadblocks.

But Microsoft isn’t throwing in the towel, and has high hopes that its phone business will get a major boost from Windows 10, which is meant to create an environment where users can move easily between desktops, tablets and their smartphones.
MORE ON NETWORK WORLD: 12 most powerful Internet of Things companies

That Microsoft’s smartphone adventure is a work in progress was highlighted last week, when CEO Satya Nadella said during the quarterly earnings call that device-related costs have to be cut more, ahead of the arrival of Windows 10. However, Nadella also revealed that Microsoft sold more Lumias in the quarter than it did a year ago.

There has been much speculation that Nadella was never a fan of the deal, brokered by his predecessor Steve Ballmer. But it seems the new CEO is giving it a go, betting, at least for now, that the acquisition can fulfill its goals: to make Microsoft a credible player in the mobile OS and smartphone device markets, able to give major players like Apple, Google and Samsung a run for their money.

Yet Nadella has his work cut out for him. Microsoft still isn’t selling enough devices; not enough large manufacturers are backing its OS; and Windows Phone apps are an afterthought to most developers.

On the hardware side, Microsoft frantically focused on launching affordable smartphones, including Lumia models 430, 535, 640 and 640XL, all of which cost between US$70 and $200 without a contract.

The strategy makes sense on paper because the low-end segment is growing faster than other parts of the smartphone market. Also, consumers in emerging markets—the target audience for these devices—aren’t as wedded to specific smartphone brands, user interfaces and ecosystems as their counterparts in the U.S. and Western Europe. But the competition in this segment is fierce and Microsoft is up against a multitude of Android-based smartphones.

Windows Phone’s market share sits below 3 percent, despite the low-end Lumia push, growing enterprise interest in the OS and adoption by a number of small smartphone vendors. To secure the future of the OS, Microsoft needs to increase the share to at least 10 percent, according to Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight.

“In our forecasts we don’t see anywhere near that level in the next three years, which underlines the scale of the challenge Microsoft faces,” Wood said.

Complicating matters is the decline in shipments of the Nokia feature phones Microsoft also acquired.

To significantly boost Windows Phone sales, Microsoft needs to sign big partners that can sell millions of devices per quarter. Getting them onboard is one of many things Windows 10 is expected to help with, and there is some positive momentum.

The OS will feature an updated user interface and a host of improved applications, such as the new Spartan browser. It also provides more integration between PCs and smartphones, including the ability to see notifications across different devices.

Chinese vendor Xiaomi recently announced that some users of its Android-based smartphones will be able to test Windows Phone 10 by installing it on their phones. Getting Xiaomi onboard would be a big win for Microsoft. The company has become one of the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturers, even though it doesn’t sell its products in Europe or the U.S.

Microsoft has struggled to get the biggest smartphone vendors to back the OS. For example, Samsung has only launched two Windows Phone devices in the last two years, and it didn’t give them anywhere near as much marketing support it gives its Android smartphones. Samsung declined to comment on its plans for Windows 10.

One smaller vendor backing Windows Phone is Florida-based Blu Products, and while its CEO Samuel Ohev-Zion is very critical of the Nokia acquisition, he has high hopes for Windows 10 and its expected ability to attract more users and developers.

The deal overvalued Nokia’s assets, he said, because it has become much easier to develop smartphones. And not getting the valuable Nokia brand as part of the acquisition was a big mistake, he added. Microsoft has been using its own brand on Lumia smartphones since October.

Windows 10, on the other hand, is going to be groundbreaking, Ohev-Zion predicts. The biggest turnoff with the current version of the OS is that users aren’t familiar with the interface and don’t understand how it works. But that will change with Windows 10, because the experience on PCs and smartphones becomes more similar, he said.

Microsoft is also doing the right things from a software development perspective, according Ohev-Zion. With Windows 10, developers will be able to build so-called universal apps for PCs, tablets, the Xbox game console and smartphones. That will help open up the platform to a much larger developer audience, he said.

The launch of Windows 10 is expected to be followed by the arrival of Microsoft’s first high-end smartphones. The company will make sure it has products in this market segment, but making a dent is very difficult, thanks to Apple’s and Samsung’s dominance, according to Christophe Francois, vice president of strategy and business development at telecom operator Orange.

“You have to be persistent, and invest quite a lot to establish a strong foothold. But it’s clear that with Microsoft’s ambitions, it’s something it has to do,” said Francois.

Orange has seen products such as the Lumia 635 and the Lumia 530—both of which use the Nokia brand—sell well, and help increase Windows Phone’s market share among its subscribers significantly. To build on that, Microsoft has to work to improve its own brand, according to Francois.

In Finland, many families won’t be celebrating the deal’s one-year anniversary, following the thousands of jobs Microsoft cut in Nokia operations. At the time, the Finnish finance minister Antti Rinne said that Microsoft had betrayed Finland.

There was some expectation the deal would be more of a joint venture, but it has most definitely been a Microsoft takeover, according to Wood.

However, some of these workers may be able to get jobs next year when Nokia will once again be able to produce smartphones. The company is said to be planning a comeback using Android. For now, though, Nokia is denying it currently has any plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets.

Meanwhile, for Microsoft, the next twelve months will determine whether the Nokia deal goes down in corporate history as a success or a failure.


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The big question rises how to become the Microsoft certified , All Microsoft certifications are acquired by simply taking a series of exams. If you can self-study for said exams, and then pass them, then you can acquire the certification for the mere cost of the exam (and maybe whatever self-study materials you purchase).

You’ll also need, at minimum (in addition to the MCTS), the CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+ certs; as well as the Cisco CCNA cert.

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) – This is the basic entry point of Microsoft Certifications. You only need to pass a single certification test to be considered an MCTS and there are numerous different courses and certifications that would grant you this after passing one. If you are shooting for some of the higher certifications that will be discussed below, then you’ll get this on your way there.

Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) – This certification was Microsoft’s previous “Developer Certification” meaning that this was the highest certification that was offered that consisted strictly of development-related material. Receiving it involved passing four exams within specific areas (based on the focus of your certification). You can find the complete list of courses and paths required for the MCPD here.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) – This is Microsoft’s most recent “Developer Certification” which will replace the MCPD Certification (which is being deprecated / retired in July of 2013). The MCSD focuses within three major areas of very recent Microsoft development technologies and would likely be the best to persue if you wanted to focus on current and emerging skills that will be relevant in the coming years. You can find the complete list of courses and paths required for the MCSD here.

The Microsoft Certifications that you listed are basically all of the major ones within the realm of development. I’ll cover each of the major ones and what they are :

Most people, however, take some kind of course. Some colleges — especially career and some community colleges — offer such courses (though usually they’re non-credit). Other providers of such courses are private… some of them Microsoft Certified vendors of one type or another, who offer the courses in such settings as sitting around a conference table in their offices. Still others specialize in Microsoft certification training, and so have nice classrooms set up in their offices.

There are also some online (and other forms of distance learning) courses to help prepare for the exams.

The cost of taking classes to prepare can vary wildly. Some are actually free (or very nearly so), while others can cost hundreds of dollars. It all just depends on the provider.

And here’s a Google search of MCTS training resources (which can be mind-numbing in their sheer numbers and types, so be careful what you choose):

There are some pretty good, yet relatively inexpensive, ways to get vendor certificate training. Be careful not to sign-up for something expensive and involved when something cheaper — like subscribing to an “all the certificates you care to study for one flat rate” web site — would, in addition to purchasing a study guide or two at a bookstore, likely be better.

If you want a career in IT, then you need to have both an accredited degree in same (preferably a bachelors over an associates), and also a variety of IT certifications. The MCTS is but one that you will need.

You should probably also get the Microsoft MCSE and/or MCSA. The ICS CISSP. And the ITIL.

There are others, but if you have those, you’ll be evidencing a broad range of IT expertise that will be useful, generally. Then, in addition, if the particular IT job in which you end-up requires additional specialist certification, then you can get that, too (hopefully at the expense of your employer who requires it of you).

Then, whenever (if ever) you’re interested in a masters in IT, here’s something really cool of which you should be aware…

There’s a big (and fully-accredited, fully-legitimate) university in Australia which has partnered with Microsoft and several other vendors to structure distance learning degrees which include various certifications; and in which degrees, considerable amounts of credit may be earned simply by acquiring said certifications. It’s WAY cool.

One can, for example, get up to half of the credit toward a Masters degree in information technology by simply getting an MCSE (though the exams which make it up must be certain ones which correspond with the university’s courses). I’ve always said that if one were going to get an MCSE, first consult the web site of this university and make sure that one takes the specific MCSE exams that this school requires so that if ever one later decided to enter said school’s masters program, one will have already earned up to half its degree’s credits by simply having the MCSE under his/her belt. Is that cool, or what?

I wouldn’t rely on them over experience (which is far and away the most valuable asset out there) but they are worth pursuing especially if you don’t feel like you have enough experience and need to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills to land a position as a developer.

If you are going to pursue a certification, I would recommend going after the MCSD (Web Applications Track) as it is a very recent certification that focuses on several emerging technologies that will still be very relevant (if not more-so) in the coming years. You’ll pick up the MCTS along the way and then you’ll have both of those under your belt. MCPD would be very difficult to achieve based on the short time constraints (passing four quite difficult tests within just a few months is feasible, but I don’t believe that it is worth it since it will be “retired” soon after).

No job experience at all is necessary for any of the Microsoft Certifications, you can take them at any time as long as you feel confident enough with the materials of the specific exam you should be fine. The tests are quite difficult by most standards and typically cover large amounts of material, but with what it sounds like a good bit of time to study and prepare you should be fine.

Certifications, in addition to degrees, are so important in the IT field, now, that one may almost no longer get a job in that field without both. The certifications, though, are so important that one who has a little IT experience can get a pretty good job even without a degree as long as he has all the right certs. But don’t do that. Definitely get the degree… and not merely an associates. Get the bachelors in IT; and make sure it’s from a “regionally” accredited school.

Then get the certs I mentioned (being mindful, if you think you’ll ever get an IT masters, to take the specific exams that that Strut masters program requires so that you’ll have already earned up to half the credit just from the certs).

If you already have two years of experience in working in the .NET environment, a certification isn’t going to guarantee that you will get employed, a salary increase or any other bonuses for achieving the honor. However, it can help supplement your resume by indicating that you are familiar with specific technologies enough to apply them in real-world applications to solve problems.

If your ready for career change and looking for Microsoft MCTS Training, Microsoft MCITP Training or any other Microsoft Certification preparation get the best online training from Certkingdom.com they offer all Microsoft, Cisco, Comptia certification exams training in just one Unlimited Life Time Access Pack, included self study training kits including, Q&A, Study Guides, Testing Engines, Videos, Audio, Preparation Labs for over 2000+ exams, save your money on boot camps, training institutes, It’s also save your traveling and time. All training materials are “Guaranteed” to pass your exams and get you certified on the fist attempt, due to best training they become no1 site 2012.

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QUESTION 1
You create a User Profile Synchronization connection. You need to grant the necessary
permissions to the synchronization account. What should you do?

A. Grant the account Full Control on the ActiveUsers OU.
B. Grant the account Full Control on the AuthenticatedUsers AD security group.
C. Grant the account Read permission on the domain.
D. Grant the account the Replicate Directory Changes permission on the domain.
Correct
Answer: D


QUESTION 2
You need to ensure that content authors can publish the specified files. What should you do?

A. Create multiple authoring site collections. Create a site that contains lists, document libraries,
and a Pages library. Create an asset library in a new site collection, and enable anonymous
access to the library on the publishing web application.
B. Create multiple authoring site collections. Create a site that contains lists, document libraries,
and a Pages library. Create an asset library in the authoring site collection, and enable
anonymous access to the library on the authoring web application.
C. Create one authoring site collection. Create a site that contains multiple lists, document
libraries, and Pages libraries. Create an asset library in a new site collection, and enable
anonymous access to the library on the publishing web application.
D. Create multiple authoring site collections. Create a site that contains multiple lists, document
libraries, and Pages libraries. Create an asset library in a new site collection, and enable
anonymous access to the library on the publishing web application.
Correct
Answer: B


QUESTION 3
HOTSPOT
You need to ensure that user-selected subscription content automatically appear on users’ My
Sites. Which configuration option should you choose? (To answer, select the appropriate option
in the answer area.)
Hot Area:

Correct Answer:


QUESTION 4
You need to import employee photos into SharePoint user profiles by using the least amount of
administrative effort. Which three actions should you perform? (Each correct answer presents
part of the solution. Choose three.)

A. Define a mapping for the thumbnailPhoto attribute of the Picture user profile property.
B. Run the Update-SPUserSolution Windows PowerShell cmdlet.
C. Run an incremental synchronization of the User Profile Synchronization service.
D. Run a full synchronization of the User Profile Synchronization service.
E. Run the Update-SPProfilePhotoStore Windows PowerShell cmdlet.
F. Define a mapping for the photo attribute of the Picture user profile property.
Correct
Answer: ADE


QUESTION 5
DRAG DROP
You need to install the appropriate versions of Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and
Microsoft .NET Framework in the server environment. Which operating system and applications
should you install? (To answer, drag the appropriate operating systems and applications to the
correct server layers in the answer area. Each operating system or application may be used once,
more than once, or not at all. You may need to drag the split bar between panes or scroll to view
content.)
Select and Place:

Correct Answer:


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The updates are aimed at companies that choose to run SQL Server on a virtual machine on Azure

Microsoft has added automated backup and patching for SQL Server databases running in virtual machines on its Azure cloud, in a bid to simplify management and improve reliability.

As enterprises move more and larger IT systems to the cloud, advanced management functionality is becoming increasingly important to keep systems up and costs down. And step by step, service providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft are adding new features to streamline management processes.

The latest improvements from Microsoft are aimed at keeping SQL Server backed up and secure in a more convenient way when running the database in virtual machines on Azure.

Organizations that want to run SQL Server on Microsoft’s cloud can either buy the database as a service or install it on a virtual machine that’s then deployed on Azure.

Choosing the latter option lets organizations migrate existing applications to the cloud with minimal changes and build more customized systems. But it also means they have to manage the databases themselves.

Using the automated backup feature, administrators can configure a scheduled backup on SQL Server 2014 Enterprise. With a few clicks in the Azure portal, they can control the retention period, the storage account for the backup, and the security policies of the database.

The automated patching allows administrators to define the maintenance window directly from the Azure portal. The SQL Server infrastructure-as-a-service agent will configure Windows running on the virtual machine with the preferred maintenance settings, including the day for maintenance, the start time of the window and the proposed duration.

Many customers have told Microsoft that they would like to move their patching schedules off business hours. This feature lets them do exactly that, the company said in a blog post on Thursday.

Last year Microsoft published an article that described the different options for running SQL Server on Azure, including when virtual machines are preferable over the service and vice versa.


 

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Commercial cloud revenue more than doubled, but consumer software sales were disappointing

Cloud services like Azure and Office 365 were once again the stars in Microsoft’s quarterly earnings report, with revenue from those products more than doubling from a year earlier.

They helped lift Microsoft’s overall revenue by 8 percent last quarter, to $26.6 billion, the company said Monday. That was higher than analysts had expected.

But restructuring costs and a tax adjustment led to a drop in profits. Microsoft posted net income of $5.86 billion for the quarter, which ended Dec. 31, down nearly 12 percent year-on-year. That was equivalent to $0.71 per share, matching the estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

“Our commercial cloud services delivered triple-digit revenue growth for the sixth consecutive quarter,” CFO Amy Hood said on a call to discuss the results. “Office 365 continues to be priority for CIOs, as both existing and new customers move to the cloud,” she said. “This transition accelerated with 45 percent of our renewal seats in Office moving to the cloud this quarter.”

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 tablet performed well, and revenue from the company’s Surface hardware climbed 24 percent to pass $1 billion for the first time. The XBox platform struggled, however. Revenue fell 20 percent, or $703 million, thanks to lower console shipments and the transition from Xbox 360 to Xbox One, Microsoft said.

Microsoft generated $2.3 billion in revenue from a business that didn’t exist only a year earlier: phone hardware. Were it not for Nokia’s old business, Microsoft would have been a poorer performer last quarter, at least in terms of sales.

The company’s Devices and Consumer Licensing segment looked bleak, with Microsoft reporting $4.2 billion in revenue from consumer licenses — a 25 percent drop over the year-ago quarter. Licensing revenue includes money from OEMs for the Windows operating system, as well as license revenue for Windows Phone, consumer editions of Office 2013 (as opposed to the subscription-based Office 365 Home Premium), and intellectual property for consumer products.

Although Microsoft’s cloud performance stole much of the attention, lurking not far behind was Windows 10 — especially, how its offer of one free subscription year to upgraders will impact future revenue.

Windows 10 will create opportunities for further monetization down the road, CEO Satya Nadella said.

“Overall, I think the most strategic objective for us is to get developer momentum with Windows 10, and that’s where we’re focused with a lot of different actions,” he said.

“One is the one unified developer platform — I think that’s perhaps the most strategic piece of Windows 10, along with the unified Store,” he said. Coupled with the upgrade offer, he said, “we are creating a great opportunity for every developer to write these universal Windows applications.”

Forthcoming changes to the Windows 10 Desktop will enable these universal apps, on all platforms, to be more “naturally discoverable” on the most used part of Windows — which he acknowledged was the Desktop, not the Start Screen.

But it was the cloud products that stole the day. The creation of premium tiers for some of Microsoft’s cloud services was a key contributor to increasing profits this past quarter, Hood said. As Nadella explained, the premium tiers now available for Office 365, Enterprise Mobility Suite, and Dynamics CRM have helped turn all three categories into high-growth businesses.

When customers deploy applications and other virtual services on top of Azure, he said, it gives Microsoft the opportunity to attract further business. A company might build a mobile front end on their Azure app using Azure Mobile Services or Media Services, for instance.

The way Microsoft builds its hosting infrastructure helps keep the cost of hosting thos services down, Nadella said. It has one common infrastructure for Office 365, XBox Live and other services. “We don’t have different infrastructures for these different services,” he said.


 

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Some see bad signs in Microsoft’s changes to its security reporting processes.

Microsoft has made a change in its Patch Tuesday reporting, along with changing the name of the initiative, and some people see it as a sign that things are getting shaky within the company.

For the first time since it initiated Patch Tuesday, Microsoft did not issue a widespread alert on the Thursday prior to the monthly fixes. Normally, Microsoft issues an email alert through its Advanced Notification Service, or ANS, on the content of Patch Tuesday, which takes place on the second Tuesday of every month. The ANS warning said which Microsoft products would be impacted and how severe the bugs were. It cautiously omitted key details to keep from tipping off malicious hackers as to where to look for the bugs.

However, this month Microsoft put the alerts and information to customers who pay for premium support. “Moving forward, we will provide ANS information directly to Premier customers and current organizations involved in our security programs, and will no longer make this information broadly available through a blog post and Web page,” Chris Betz, senior director at the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) wrote in a blog post.

Betz explained that Microsoft was dropping the public ANS notifications because customers weren’t using them.

“Customer feedback indicates that many of our large customers no longer use ANS in the same way they did in the past due to optimized testing and deployment methodologies,” he wrote. “While some customers still rely on ANS, the vast majority wait for Update Tuesday, or take no action, allowing updates to occur automatically.”

As his quote shows, Microsoft now refers to its monthly bug fixes as “Update Tuesday.” Apparently it didn’t like the term “Patch Tuesday,” even if it was accurate.

When I asked for a comment, a Microsoft spokesperson stuck to the statement made by Betz. “We understand why some question this change after more than a decade. The feedback we’ve received indicates that many of our customers no longer use ANS in the same way they did in the past, due to optimized testing and deployment methodologies,” the company said.

To be honest, they have a point. I never read the Thursday notices, either. The fixes always showed up on the second Tuesday right on time, and Microsoft hasn’t changed anything about that except the name.

But with other events, it does show that security in general seems to be undergoing a real shakeup at Microsoft. The company shut down its Trustworthy Computing group last September, and in December it had to withdraw two Patch Tuesday fixes because they caused more harm than good.

Some people are pretty upset with this, as was documented in a story over on Computerworld. The folks I spoke with weren’t as judgmental.

“Indeed this situation is weird, but maybe it is just that they are trying to include a last-minute patch and do not want to say anything until they know for sure if it is going to be included,” Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs, says.

Chris Goettl, product manager with Shavlik, says, “I do not like the move to be sure. It will cut a lot of lead time for companies who care about what is coming and want to plan well for it…I have long been a proponent for the standard of disclosure that Microsoft had set. I have openly criticized vendors who do not disclose enough information to stress the importance of what they are updating. Others, like Adobe and Oracle, had started adopting many of the same practices of predictable release schedules, some advanced warnings or notifications, etc. Will this change send a message back to other late adopters of this mentality?”

Adam Kujawa, head of malware intelligence for Malwarebytes Labs, saw both sides of the issue. Google has been publicly disclosing vulnerabilities, including those in Windows, which Microsoft has slammed.

“The vulnerability disclosure and vulnerability patching processes are very broken at this point…The arguments from Microsoft’s side and from Google’s side are both valid. Google wants Microsoft to fix the bug so bad guys can’t use it. Microsoft wants to fix the bug too but also wants to make sure that it’s done in a fashion that protects their users. Either way, the threat approach doesn’t do much but force software developers to release quick fixes that could potentially harm systems in the future, and when the demands of the identifier are not met, releasing the knowledge to the public means that the bad guys will be employing it that much sooner,” he said.


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In this day and age, companies tend to hire those applicants who are not only well-qualified but have a diverse combination of skills as well. So it does not hurt if you have a certification on your resume; instead, it will help you a great deal. A certification in your profession will not only make you more qualified than the other applicants but it will also give a signal to the employers that you are a person who believes in moving forward and is determined to develop further his or her understandings and skills about the subject matter. MCSA – Windows Server 2008 certification exam is designed for IT professionals whose jobs revolve around handling Server Networks. This certification is quite an important one since Windows Server 2008 is an important program and it is needed for the proper functioning of extended programs.

Exam Topics of MCSA- Windows Server 2008: This exam consists of three papers. The first one is Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring with the certification code of 70-640. The second one is Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring with the certification code of 70-642. Last one is Windows Server 2008, Server Administration with the certification code of 70-646.


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Exam Topics of 70-640:
This exam tests an individual’s knowledge in configuring and implementing Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Environment. This exam is divided into 6 sections.

  • First section deals with Configuration of DNS for Active Directory and this section carries 17 percent marks.
  • Second section deals with Configuration of Active Directory Infrastructure and this section carries total of 17 percent marks.
  • Third part covers Configuration of Active Directory Roles and Services and this part is worth 14 percent marks.
  • Forth part deals with creation and maintenance of Active Directory objects and this part is worth 18 percent marks.
  • Fifth part deals with maintenance of Active Directory Environment and this part carries a total of 18 percent marks.
  • Sixth part deals with Configuration of Active Directory Certificate Services and this part is worth 15 percent marks.

Exam Topics of 70-642:
This paper is all about Network infrastructure and the topics are:

  • IP addressing and Services.
  • Configuring Name Resolution.
  • Configuring Network and Remote Access.
  • File and Print Services configuration.
  • Network Infrastructure Monitoring and Management.

Exam topics of 70-646:
This paper tests the candidate’s skills on the following topics:

  • Planning of Server Deployment. (This part carries 19 percent marks)
  • Planning for Server Management. (This part carries 23 percent marks)
  • Monitoring and Maintaining Services. (This part carries 20 percent marks)
  • Planning Application and Data Provisioning. (This part carries 19 percent marks)
  • Planning for Business continuity and High Availability. (This part carries 19 percent marks)

MCSA: Windows Server 2008 certification exam is held in Pro metric testing centers. When compared with its benefits, this exam is quite inexpensive; it costs around $240. Hence, IT professionals and Systems Administrators are encouraged to register for this exam. Moreover, if you are considering on taking MCSE in the future, you should start from this exam since it counts towards MCSE.

Microsoft Certifications 2014 can you a JOB

Written by admin
July 3rd, 2014

With the new technologies coming in the market every other day, life has become advanced these days. In this modern era, you have to be on your toes all the time especially if your career in related to the field of IT: one has to stay updated with all the latest programs and their features in order to stay ahead of his peers. For instance, there was a time when Gramophone was the invention of the century but then it was replaced with mobile phones. Similarly, the invention of television and radio created quite a heap in the early 20th century but later on, the thunder was stolen by computers in the late 20th century.

In this day and age, computers and internet have become the center of attention. Consequently, IT has become the most popular field. IT experts are quite in demand these days; but with the emergence of new programs every other day, they have to keep up with the latest technology in order to stay ahead in the race. One way of staying ahead is the certification courses. These courses ensure that the candidate has attained all the latest knowledge and is ready to roll in the world of technology.

This article will discuss some of the most popular certification courses offered by Microsoft.

Microsoft Technology Associate

This is a certification course designed for the starters: people who want to start their line of business in the field of technology. Accordingly, it tests the fundamentals of IT and validates that the candidates have a basic understanding of the essentials. This course has been divided into three tracks and the candidates can choose any one of the tracks, depending on their preference. The tracks are: IT infrastructure, Database Design and Developer.

Microsoft MCSA- Windows Server 2008
This exam is designed for the IT personnel and it validates their skills in Server Networking management. IT professionals and System Administrators are suggested to take MCSA- Windows Server 2008 exam especially if they are looking forward to earning their MCSE certification.

Microsoft MCSA- Windows Server 2012
This certification exam is an advanced level exam which validates that the candidates have sufficient knowledge of Windows Server 2012 for its proper installation, configuration and working. MCSA- Windows Server 2012 certified can easily get the position of Network Administrator, Computer Systems Administrator or Computer Network Analyst.

Microsoft MCSE- Server Infrastructure
This certification course is designed for IT experts and it will get you the title of ‘Solutions Expert’. It tests individual’s skills in effectively and efficiently running a modern data center with some experience in virtualization storage and networking, identity management and systems management.

Microsoft MCSE- Desktop Infrastructure
This course validates that the individuals can manage desktops and devices, while maintaining their security and integrity, from anywhere around the globe. It also tests individuals’ expertise in application and desktop virtualization together with remote desktop services. With this certification in hand, you can easily qualify for a job of Data and Application Manager or Desktop and Device Support Manager.

Microsoft MCSE- Messaging
This certification is an expert level certification and it validates that the applicant has relevant skills in order to increase user productivity and flexibility. It also validates that the person has sufficient knowledge as to how to improve data security and reduce data loss. After passing this certification exam, candidates can easily qualify for the position of Network and Computer System Administrator.

Microsoft  MCSE- Communication
This certification validates candidates’ expertise in using Lync Server to create an effective communication path that can be accessed from all around the globe. This certification is also an expert level certification and you can easily qualify for the position of Network and Computer System Administrator with it.

Microsoft  MCSE- SharePoint

This Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification course verifies that the candidates have the necessary expertise to share, synchronize and organize the data across the organization. SharePoint 2013 is the updated version of Microsoft Office, and passing this certification can get you a job of Systems or Network Analyst.

Microsoft MCSD- SharePoint Application

This Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer certification course is another of expert level certification courses which validates individuals’ expertise in web programming. It also requires the individuals to design and develop applications with Microsoft SharePoint. With this certification, you can easily secure the position of Software Developer or Web Developer.

Microsoft Private Cloud

MCSE- Private Cloud certification course tests candidates’ expertise to manage Private Cloud computer technologies. It also verifies that the candidate can implement these technologies in a way to optimize service delivery. You can easily get the position of Server Administrator and Network Manager with this certification on your resume.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager
Microsoft System Center Certification focuses on the skills to manage computer and clients. The candidates should be able to configure, administer and deploy System Center 2012 in order to pass this exam. You can earn the title of Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist through this certification.

Microsoft Server Virtualization
This certification verifies that the candidate is familiar with Server Virtualization, both on Windows Server and System Center. This course expands individual’s expertise and skills in order for him to meet the rapidly modernizing technological business needs, and it can get him the title of Microsoft Specialist in no time.

Microsoft Office Certifications
Microsoft offers many certifications that verify candidates’ skills in handling and using Microsoft Office Applications. These certifications start from beginners level and go up to the master level. Microsoft Office Specialist is a beginner level certification whereas Microsoft Office Specialist Expert is an advanced level certification. Last but not the least; Microsoft Office Specialist Master is a master level certification.

Microsoft MCSA- Office 365
This course focuses on individual’s skills in handling Office 365 together with productivity tools and cloud-based collaboration. This certification can easily get you the position of Cloud Application Administrator or SaaS Administrator.

Microsoft Dynamics

This Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist certification confirms an individual’s expertise in Microsoft dynamics: a specific module can be chosen for this certification. However, this certification will be withdrawn from the market, at the end of this year, and replaced with the new ones.


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Customer satisfaction with Microsoft’s software — primarily Windows, but also Office — climbed slightly in the last year, illustrating that whatever misgivings customers have over Windows 8 has not reached the level of frustration seen years ago with the widely-ridiculed Windows Vista, a national survey said today.

Microsoft scored 75 points, up a point from last year, in the newest poll conducted by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a consumer survey started by the University of Michigan.

Microsoft’s score, which ACSI has tracked since 2006, was back where it was in 2012, although still three points lower than its all-time high of 78 in 2011, when Windows 7 was at the peak of popularity.

On the bright side, this year’s score was six points higher than the record low of 69 in 2008, when ACSI attributed the poor polling results to customers’ disgust with Vista, the 2007 operating system typically judged a huge flop in the marketplace.

Last year, when Microsoft’s score dropped a point, David VanAmburg, managing director of ACSI, said it was too early to blame Windows 8, the OS that came out the gate in October 2012 to a rocky reception from reviewers and pundits. Instead, VanAmburg said last year to wait: If the score flattened or fell another point or two, then it would be fair to indict Windows 8.

That didn’t happen.

“Windows 8 doesn’t seem to be anything of great concern to consumers,” said VanAmburg in an interview today. “Windows 8 is still behind the numbers during Windows 7’s time three years ago, but there’s not much evidence that it’s dragging Microsoft down.”

Many observers have disagreed, citing customer confusion over Windows 8’s dual user interfaces (UIs) and its over-emphasis on touch, then linking those criticisms to the slow-down in PC sales.

“Windows 8 doesn’t seem to be the drag that Vista was, but on the other hand, it doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor that Windows 7 had,” VanAmburg countered.

Microsoft’s latest satisfaction score lagged behind the average for all computer software, which was 76, and a separate category of “All Others.” That category represents a bucket of major vendors like Intuit, Adobe and major antivirus vendors — about the only software makers with a large enough user base to be credible subjects of ACSI’s survey — that scored 77, one point higher than 2013. Like the Microsoft score, All Others rebounded to the level of 2012, but remained several points below its high-water year of 2011.

“The stability of [the ‘Computer Software’ category, with its score of 76] clearly shows that traditional software has lost some of its luster,” said VanAmburg. “People increasingly own multiple mobile devices, phones and tablets, where there are gigantic app stores. Consumers are amazed at the high quality of those mobile apps and their low prices, and in turn that makes traditional computer software, which costs $30, $40, $50 or more, seem to pale in comparison.

“Computer software is not the future, and not where things are going to be,” VanAmburg added.

He also said that the decline in PC sales, more accurately, the reason why PC sales have slumped, contributed to the more-or-less stable scores of Microsoft and All Others over the last three years.

“Part of the lack of an improvement in the scores is a result of people spending less time on traditional devices,” VanAmburg said. “Frankly, the technology is pushing us in that direction. More people are cutting the cord by going mobile. And I don’t see that changing. It’s part of the continuing evolution in technology from bigger, bulkier machines to smaller, more mobile devices.”

It may not be a coincidence that “Peak PC,” the year when personal computer shipments crested, was 2011 — the same year that saw the highest satisfaction scores for all three software categories measured by ACSI.

The ACSI survey scores were based on polls of more than 12,000 Americans between Jan. 13 and March 11.

 


 

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The company suffers in comparison to the same period last year, but sales of tablets and Windows help it beat expectations

Microsoft’s profit dropped and its revenue was almost flat in its third fiscal quarter, during which the company replaced Steve Ballmer with Satya Nadella as CEO.

Revenue came in at US$20.40 billion, down slightly from $20.49 billion in the same quarter last year. Net income was $5.7 billion, or $0.68 per share, down from $6.1 billion, or $0.72 per share.

However, Microsoft’s revenue matched the forecast of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters and exceeded their earnings-per-share estimate by $0.05. Sales growth for tablets and Windows helped Microsoft’s results.

On a pro forma basis, which excludes certain one-time items, revenue increased 8 percent and earnings per share rose 5 percent.

“I sum up this quarter in two words: execution and transition,” Nadella said on a conference call to discuss the results. “We delivered solid financial results and we took several steps to reorient Microsoft.”

Nadella was appointed CEO in early February, before the quarter was halfway through, and sounded upbeat on his first earnings call since taking over.

He said the results reflect Microsoft’s strengths and opportunities in a “mobile-first, cloud-first world,” a phrase he has used constantly since becoming CEO.

Keeping the staff and products focused on that idea is one of his priorities, he said on Thursday.

Asked on the call if any significant strategy changes are in the works, Nadella didn’t mention any particular area but said his philosophy is to have the company on a continuous cycle of planning and execution, and to revise plans as frequently as needed based on the market.

“We’ve picked up the pace on asking the hard questions,” he said.

Nadella said he was particularly satisfied with the adoption of Microsoft cloud services, which he considers key for the company’s long-term outlook.

He cited recent moves to boost the Office and Windows franchises, such as the launch of Office for the iPad, the update to Windows 8.1, the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 upgrade and the decision to license Windows for free to hardware vendors making smartphones and tablets with screens smaller than 9 inches.

The shift from PCs to mobile creates opportunities for Windows and Office, according to Nadella, but requires a different approach to licensing, pricing and technology.

“We are committed to ensuring that our cloud services are available across all device platforms that people use. We are delivering a cloud for everyone on every device,” he said.

The Devices and Consumer division’s revenue grew by 12 percent to $8.30 billion, while gross margin fell 1 percent to $4.71 billion. Some highlights were a 4 percent revenue increase in Windows OS sales to hardware vendors, and a 50 percent increase in Surface tablet revenue, to $500 million.

Windows sales to hardware vendors weren’t uniform. The regular consumer version of Windows saw revenue drop 15 percent, while Windows Pro, which ships with business PCs, posted a 19 percent gain. Microsoft attributed that growth to strong sales in developed markets and in enterprises, and higher penetration in small and midsized businesses.

Microsoft also highlighted that Office 365 Home, the subscription-based version of Office for consumers, ended the quarter with 4.4 million subscribers, almost 1 million more than in the previous quarter, and that Bing’s search ad revenue went up 38 percent.

Despite that spike in search ads, total online ad revenue was up only 16 percent, crimped by a 24 percent drop in display ad sales.

Revenue for the traditional Office suite, sold via perpetual licenses, rose 15 percent, thanks primarily to sales in Japan. Combined with Office 365 Home sales, revenue for those consumer-focused versions of Office increased 28 percent. Microsoft cited the April 8 end-of-support deadline for Windows XP for spurring sales of Windows and Office.

The Hardware segment of the Devices and Consumer division had revenue growth of 41 percent, reaching $1.97 billion and driven by Xbox and Surface. Microsoft sold 2 million Xboxes during the quarter, and the Xbox business had revenue growth of 45 percent.

The Commercial division’s revenue rose on a pro forma basis by 7 percent to $12.23 billion, and gross margin rose 6 percent to $9.91 billion. The division’s performance was helped by a more-than-100-percent revenue increase from Office 365, the cloud and subscription suite of server and desktop productivity applications for businesses, and by a 150 percent hike in revenue from the Azure cloud platform services. Overall, the Commercial division’s cloud revenue more than doubled.

Other highlights from the Commercial division include an 11 percent revenue increase in Windows volume licensing for business customers and “double-digit” revenue growth for on premises collaboration and communication server products Lync, SharePoint and Exchange, as well as for the SQL Server database and Windows Server OS. Taken together, on-premises server products had a revenue increase of 10 percent. Revenue from traditionally licensed Office was up 6 percent.

Microsoft estimates that about 90 percent of enterprise desktop PCs worldwide now run either Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Overall gross margin rose 3 percent during the quarter to $14.5 billion, while operating expense grew 2 percent to $7.5 billion. Microsoft expects to include in its next quarterly report the impact of its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s devices business.


 

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Microsoft created a virtual assistant, made Windows free on small devices, and brought back the Start button – but it’s still playing catch-up

This has been a big week for Microsoft, with a flood of new announcements and changes of direction. Along with its Build conference, new CEO Satya Nadella has made a number of moves designed to reverse the public perception that the company is an aging also ran in the technology races.

The changes include
Rolling out its new Cortana digital voice assistant
Announcing that Windows would be free to manufacturers of devices with small screens
Coming out with “universal” Windows technology that helps developers build apps that run on multiple versions of Microsoft’s operating system
Reviving the popular “Start” menu for Windows 8.1

Though some of those moves are more important than others, they’re all good things. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll be enough to solve Microsoft’s problem of being seen as your father’s technology vendor. Here’s why:

Consumers vs. IT
As noted above, Microsoft’s issues right now revolve around how the company is perceived by consumers, and it’s unlikely that these initiatives will be enough to change those perceptions. While all useful, none of them are truly new. Instead, they’re playing catch-up to existing products and services from Microsoft’s competitors, perhaps with incremental improvements, or acknowledgements that previous Microsoft strategies simply weren’t working out.

Technology professionals will welcome these changes, but the IT community isn’t where Microsoft’s problems lie. In my experience,, enterprise IT generally likes and trusts the company. Microsoft’s challenges lie in convincing fickle consumers that it’s as cool and innovative as Apple and Google. I can’t imagine these moves being exciting enough to do that.

Better, but not better enough
While initial reports suggest that Cortana is a credible or even superior alternative to Apple’s Siri and Google Now, the fact remains that other companies pioneered the voice assistant idea. Cortana would have to be light-years better than its already-in-place rivals to truly give Microsoft a significant advantage.

Similarly, making Windows free for mobile devices may help spark more device makers to adopt the platform, but it’s not like it will make an immediate difference to consumers. Besides, Android is already free to license. Once again, Microsoft is playing catch up.

Universal Windows app development may pay off with more app choices in the long run, but it’s a pretty geeky concept for most end users. Finally, bringing back the Start menu will ease the transition to Windows 8 for some holdouts, but let’s face it, the cool kids aren’t really interested in desktop Windows at this point.

Put it all together and you’ve got a collection of tweaks and that could change the substance of what Microsoft does, but won’t dent the way most people think of the company.

More, please!
Still, there’s a big ray of hope here. The fact that Microsoft was willing and able to make these changes could signal that more are on the way. If Microsoft can keep shaking things up and continue to show that things really are different now, eventually people will begin to notice and perhaps change their minds about the company. And then it truly won’t be your father’s Microsoft any more.


 

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QUESTION 1
Scenario: A Citrix Engineer is configuring a new XenApp 6.5 farm in order to provide the Sales
department with access to a new CRM application. There are 400 users who will be accessing the
application, and the application load testing shows 512 MB of RAM utilization for each user during
peak time. XenApp will be installed on virtual machines, and the virtual machines will be hosted on
XenServer hosts.
All three of the XenServer hosts have the following hardware specifications:
1. Dual 6 core CPU
2. 96 GB of RAM
3. 300 GB SAN storage
The Citrix Engineer needs to ensure that users can access their XenApp resources in the event of
a server hardware failure.
Based on Citrix Best Practices, what would be the recommended configuration?

A. Create a pool with three hosts.
B. Create three pools with one host each.
C. Create a pool with two hosts and enable HA.
D. Create a pool with three hosts and enable HA.

Answer: D

Explanation:


QUESTION 2
Scenario: A Citrix Engineer needs to set up logging to monitor a Workload Balancing related issue
in a XenServer implementation. The engineer wants to capture maximum detail about this issue
before reporting it to Citrix Technical Support.
To increase the level of detail that will be captured in the log file, the engineer should _________
and __________. (Choose the two correct options to complete the sentence.)

A. open wlb.conf in a text editor
B. open logfile.log in a text editor
C. open auditlog.out in a text editor
D. modify the configuration options
E. enable logging for a specific trace

Answer: A,E

Explanation:


QUESTION 3
Scenario: Nether Tech has a XenDesktop farm with Windows 7 desktops. Users are accessing
their virtual desktops from different bandwidth and latency connection types.
Which setting should the engineer configure in a Citrix User policy in order to optimize moving
images?

A. Enable Adaptive Display. Disable Progressive Display.
B. Disable Adaptive Display. Disable Progressive Display.
C. Enable Adaptive Display. Enable Progressive Display with Low Compression.
D. Disable Adaptive Display. Enable Progressive Display with Low Compression.

Answer: A

Explanation:


QUESTION 4
Scenario: Nether Tech’s corporate policy requires that passwords are NOT requested for XenApp
passthrough connections, except for those that pertain to members of the Nursing Users group.
Nurses connect to XenApp servers hosting applications in the Nurses Worker Group.
Click the Exhibit button to view a list of the policies configured in the environment.

An engineer needs to prioritize the three policies so that only members of the Nurses group are
prompted for passwords when they connect to their XenApp resources.
What is the correct order of prioritization for the policies from lowest to highest?

A. Unfiltered, Nurses, Corporate Users
B. Corporate Users, Nurses, Unfiltered
C. Unfiltered, Corporate Users, Nurses
D. Nurses, Unfiltered, Corporate Users

Answer: D

Explanation:


QUESTION 5
Scenario: Nether Tech recently upgraded to XenDesktop 5.5 and implemented a new VoIP
system. Virtual desktops have been integrated with the VoIP system. RTA (Real-time Audio) over
UDP has also been configured.
Which two steps should a Citrix Engineer take to optimize RTA/UDP traffic in the XenDesktop
implementation? (Choose two.)

A. Create a Citrix User policy.
B. Create a Citrix Computer policy.
C. Enable Multi-Stream in the policy.
D. Increase overall session bandwidth limit.
E. Set the audio redirection bandwidth limit in the policy.

Answer: B,C

Explanation:


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According to leaked screenshots and secret sources, Microsoft will scrap ‘Metro’ and roll boot-to-desktop as the default in the Windows 8.1 update coming in March.

If you hated the Live Tiles presented as the default on the Windows 8.x Start screen, then Microsoft allowed users to tweak the setting in Windows 8.1 to bypass the “Metro” interface at boot and instead boot to desktop. But boot-to-desktop will be the default, according to leaks from Microsoft insiders and screenshots of the upcoming Windows 8.1 update. Rumor has it that the update will roll out on Patch Tuesday in March.

The Russian site Wzor first posted leaked Windows 8.1 test build screenshots showing the change enabled by default.

Leaked Windows 8.1 test build, no more Metro Start screen, boot to desktop as default
Then Microsoft insiders, or “sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans,” told The Verge that Microsoft hopes to appease desktop users by bypassing the Start screen by default, meaning users will automatically boot straight to desktop. “Additional changes include shutdown and search buttons on the Start Screen, the ability to pin Windows 8-style (“Metro”) apps on the desktop task bar, and a new bar at the top of Metro apps to allow users to minimize, close, and snap apps.”

Of course, Microsoft continues to lose millions upon millions of customers to iOS and Android. That desperation is likely what drove Microsoft to force a touch-centric operating system on customers. If customers can’t easily use a Windows OS on a traditional desktop, then Microsoft hoped its “make-them-eat-Metro” strategy would force people to buy its tablet to deal with the touch-based OS. For Microsoft, it was like killing two birds with one stone. But despite the company’s “One Microsoft” vision, we’re not birds and we don’t like having stones thrown our way.

Microsoft claimed that telemetry data justified the removal of the Start button in Windows 8, and then its return in Windows 8.1. That same telemetry data shows “the majority of Windows 8 users still use a keyboard and mouse and desktop applications.” The Verge added, “Microsoft may have wanted to push touch computing to the masses in Windows 8, but the reality is that users have voiced clear concerns over the interface on desktop PCs.”

“Microsoft really dug a big hole for themselves,” Gartner’s David Smith told Gregg Keizer, referring to the Redmond giant’s approach with Windows 8. “They have to dig themselves out of that hole, including making some fundamental changes to Windows 8. They need to accelerate that and come up with another path [for Windows].”

Back in December, NetMarketShare stats showed that more people were still using the hated Windows Vista than Windows 8.1. January 2014 stats showed Windows 8.1 on 3.95% of desktops with Vista on 3.3%. Despite Microsoft warning about the evils of clinging to XP, and the April death of XP support, Windows XP, however, was still on 29.23%. Many people still hate Windows 8, which may be why the company plans to jump to the next OS as soon as possible.

Microsoft plans to start building hype for “Windows 9” at the BUILD developers’ conference in April. The new OS is supposedly set to come out in the second quarter of 2015. While it seems wise for the company to want to ditch the hated Windows 8.x as soon as possible, Microsoft had better to do something to encourage developers as the expected boot-to-desktop change will mean folks won’t see the Metro apps on the Start screen.

Windows 8.1 update leaked screenshot of test build
According to the test build screenshot, Microsoft is urging people to “switch to a Microsoft account on this PC. Many apps and services (like the one shown for calendar) rely on a Microsoft account to sync content and settings across devices.” Note that “sign into each app separately instead” is “not recommended” by Microsoft. Of course, setting up a Windows 8 computer without it being tied to a Microsoft email account was “not recommended” either…but it can be done with about any email address or set up as a local account tied to no email address. If you use SkyDrive, aka the newly dubbed “OneDrive,” then why not just log in when you need it?

Trying to keep its developers “happy,” may be part of the reason Microsoft does not recommend signing into your Microsoft account on an individual app basis. Sure there’s still the Windows Phone Store, but some people complain that the Windows Phone Store is full of junk and fake apps. Of course, since Windows 8’s dueling tablet-PC interface was a flop, perhaps Microsoft will follow Apple’s lead and come up with a separate OS for tablets. That move might help out Microsoft and developers; without developers, there’s no apps. Without good apps, even a new OS for tablets won’t help Microsoft from continuing to decline and falling into the abyss of irrelevancy.

 


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QUESTION 1
You have been tasked with configuring filtering as per the prerequisites.
Which of the following actions should you take?

A. You should consider making use of the itemCategory;category filtering option.
B. You should consider making use of the itemID;num filtering option.
C. You should consider making use of the itemCategory;itemID filtering option.
D. You should consider making use of the itemID;itemCategory filtering option.

Answer: D

Explanation:


QUESTION 2
You are preparing to establish the reason for an error message being presented when adding the
custom Visual Web Part to a SharePoint site.
Which of the following actions should you take?

A. You should consider making use of the Get-SPLogEvent cmdlet.
B. You should consider making use of the New-SPUsageLogFile cmdlet.
C. You should consider making use of the New-SPLogFile cmdlet.
D. You should consider making use of the Get-SPLogLevel cmdlet.

Answer: A

Explanation:


QUESTION 3
You are preparing to write code to create the tool that supports social connections.
Which of the following is a class of the Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Social namespace that should
be included in the code?

A. The SocialFollowingManager class.
B. The SocialFeedManager class.
C. The SocialActorInfo class.
D. The SocialPostActorInfo class.

Answer: C

Explanation:


QUESTION 4
You are preparing to configure caching in keeping with the prerequisites.
Which of the following actions should you take?

A. You should consider making use of the System File Cache option.
B. You should consider making use of the Cache API option.
C. You should consider making use of the Windows Server AppFabric Cache option.
D. You should consider making use of the Page Output Cache Cache option.

Answer: C

Explanation:


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The Syrian Electronic Army hacked all of Skype’s social media accounts and accused Microsoft of helping the government spy and monitor our email.

It’s said there is no rest for the wicked, and New Year’s Day had Skype social media managers scrambling to scrub evidence of being hacked off of its Skype blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts. That evidence was planted by the Syrian Electronic Army and accused Microsoft of spying for the “governments.”

After the SEA’s attack, Skype sent out a pair of tweets to its 3 million Twitter followers, warning:

Hacked Skype tweet warns against using Microsoft products

Skype tweet stop spying on people

Those Skype tweets were deleted and then replaced with this tweet: “You may have noticed our social media properties were targeted today. No user info was compromised. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.”

The SEA also hacked the Skype blog:

Skype blog, Facebook, Twitter hacked by Syrian Electronic Army

Hacked Skype blog says don’t use Microsoft products

These posts were mirrored on Skype’s Facebook page before quickly being deleted.

Skype Facebook hacked posts removed

Then reporter Matthew Keys tweeted this screenshot “proof” of the Skype hack sent to him by the SEA.

Screenshot Skype hack

The SEA also tweeted Steve Ballmer’s contact information along with the message, “You can thank Microsoft for monitoring your accounts/emails using this details. #SEA”

Although the SEA has successfully hacked many major companies, the Skype hack seems to be referring to Microsoft’s alleged cooperation with the NSA. Microsoft denied providing backdoor real-time access, but revelations provided by Edward Snowden indicated that the NSA can successfully eavesdrop on Skype video calls. Although Microsoft vowed to protect users from NSA surveillance, the Redmond giant “forgot” to mention Skype in its promises.

As security expert Graham Cluley pointed out, “Chances are that Skype didn’t read my New Year’s resolution advice about not using the same passwords for multiple accounts.”

In fact, Skype seems to have disregarded its parent company’s advice. Microsoft’s Security TechCenter has a post regarding “selecting secure passwords.” Regarding “Password Age and Reuse,” it states:

Users should also change their passwords frequently. Even though long and strong passwords are much more difficult to break than short and simple ones, they can still be cracked. An attacker who has enough time and computing power at his disposal can eventually break any password. In general, passwords should be changed within 42 days, and old passwords should never be reused.

Skype itself has a few password “rules” such as:

A password must:

Be at least 6 characters and not longer than 20 characters.

Contain at least one letter and one number.

Not have any spaces.

Not contain your Skype Name (case insensitive).

Not be a part of Skype Name (case insensitive).

Your password also cannot contain any of the following words:

1234, 4321, qwert, test, skype, myspace, password, abc123, 123abc, abcdef, iloveyou, letmein, ebay, paypal.

However, after the Skype hack gave Microsoft a black eye with spying accusations, it’s a pretty safe bet that whoever controls Skype social media will no longer resuse the same password to protect all of the company’s accounts. And if you reuse the same password on different sites, it would be a great 2014 resolution to change all your passwords, keep them in a password safe, and make sure you don’t use the same one for multiple sites.

 


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Which smartphone is the most secure?

Written by admin
December 25th, 2013

Not all mobile phone operating systems are created equal. As Spencer McIntyre of SecureState explains, there are unique differences and threats specific to each smartphone and, in the end, security is largely up to the user

These days, it is almost impossible to meet someone who doesn’t own a cell phone. More specifically, smartphones, whether it be the trendy iPhone, corporate favored Blackberry or modern Windows Mobile, almost everyone has joined the smart phone frenzy — and with good reason. A smartphone offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary phone.

Just like a handheld computer, most of the population relies on their operating system to multitask the demands of work, personal life and finances. However, many Smartphone users forget about the risks of malware on these crucial devices. In fact, a study from Rutgers’s University disclosed that malicious software for cell phones could pose a greater risk for consumer’s personal and financial well-being than computer viruses.

Clearly, there is a need for greater protection of cell phone software and greater awareness of cell phone vulnerabilities from owners, especially when it comes to what kind of operating system you are using. There are unique differences and threats specific to each Smartphone. Here are some important key points that consumers should consider to protect their mobile operating systems.

iPhone
There is a lot to be found regarding this popular device, half of our research findings surrounded the iPhone. Malware for this device took a different approach with the release of IOS 4. The multitasking that users take part in on their systems easily goes unnoticed, allowing the presence of malware to be easier to miss and less intrusive. Malware is more commonly found on iPhones that have been jail broken.

“Jail breaking” means freeing a phone from the limitations imposed by the wireless provider and in this case, Apple. Users install a software application on their computer, and then transfer it to their iPhone, where it “breaks open” the iPhone’s file system, allowing you to modify it; however, this also opens it up to malware. By jail breaking a phone, users are possibly allowing malicious applications into their device which has access to their personal information including their bank account. These applications are not subjected to the same limitations as Apple and therefore are easier to get from a rogue reference and infect cell phone.

Additionally, by not changing the password on a jail broken iPhone, the SSH service, is easy for malicious attackers to create worms used to infect the users operating device. An example of how important this threat is to note was highlighted by Ike, a worm created to raise security awareness when it comes to using these jail broken devices. It illustrates how once the core app has run its route, the vulnerability can gain complete control of the system.

Apple is slow to pinpoint vulnerabilities, including the SMS (texting) exploit released in the summer of 2010 by Charlie Miller. This also revealed that Apple is so slow to release that third party organizations were able to produce a security patch before Apple.

Windows Mobile
When it comes to threats, Windows Mobile takes the cake when it comes to attracting malware via SMS. Specifically the amount of SMS malware found on Windows Mobile devices is much higher in comparison to others. An interesting facet of the Windows Mobile OS is that many of the system calls are shared with it’s full-featured desktop counterparts. This detail has contributed to many pieces of malware that have originated on the Windows OS being ported to the Windows Mobile OS. A noteworthy example of this is the Zeus botnet that in recent years has begun to appear on mobile versions of Windows.

BlackBerry
A popular alternative to the previous two mobile operating systems, the BlackBerry is also quite different from the typical smart phone. The BlackBerry uses what is arguably the most closed source of the operating systems discussed herein. Research In Motion, the developers of BlackBerry have done an excellent job of keeping the sensitive inner workings of this smart phone a secret from the public. This is a contributing factor for the relatively small number of reliable exploits for the BlackBerry smart phone.

BlackBerry also suffers from the multitasking concerns that make it easier for malware to run unnoticed. An interesting proof of concept developed for the BlackBerry is the BBProxy application that was presented at DEFCON.

Symbian
There is not a lot of information regarding malware for this operating device, although it is the oldest of the smart phones and one of the most popular outside of America. Windows, Blackberry and Symbian are malware populated and not present on Android or iPhone. Along with the Windows Mobile family of Phones, Zeus has be ported the Symbian as well. The mobile version of Zeus is being used to intercept text messages sent as the second factor of authentication in many services.

Android
The Android operating system is the only open source operating system discussed herein. Android is unique in that it is community driven. The Android operating system is not owned by an individual organization, so it is developed in the best interest of the users. However, the applications are not monitored for vulnerabilities in the marketplace, so anyone can submit applications containing malicious functions which are less likely to be caught. Essentially, it is up to the users to determine if it is a safe and reputable source from which they are getting the app.

Amazon now has a 3rd party market place, which imposes additional policies and restrictions on applications that are distributed.

Android is based on the Linux operating system. On Linux, availability on Android is unlike others and there is not much evidence of ported malware. This is not because there is not any known Linux malware out there, but because it doesn’t receive much attention.

In Conclusion
All operating systems have distinct strengths and weaknesses; however, many are the same and essentially are up to the user and the configuration of the password. Users need to remember not to install apps from unnecessary sources, especially if they are unknown. While users can’t know them all, users need to ensure that they are from a reputable source. If not, that is where malware commonly comes from, with backdoor apps masquerading as secure applications. Also, jail broken phones are at a huge risk if the user maintains the default password and an even higher risk if not used in the Apple marketplace. Instances of malware exist on all of the phones and are even more relevant on ones using untrusted app sources. Consumers can keep this research in mind when using their smartphone to best protect their valuable information.


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What Microsoft did right and wrong in 2013

Written by admin
December 20th, 2013

Microsoft is getting Office 365 right, but that Scroogled campaign is so wrong
Nobody bats a thousand, and Microsoft is no different. Here’s a quick look at five things Microsoft did right in 2013 and five it did wrong.
Right

Office 365 – If success is determined by whether a lot customers buy a service, Office 365 is wildly successful.
In a little more than 100 days, the service had 1 million customers. That was back in May and by October it hit 2 million.

Buying Microsoft Office via a cloud service that’s continually upgraded and available from any of a customer’s Internet connected devices including their phones is apparently appealing.

At about $100 per customer per year, that still pales in what Microsoft takes in from enterprise customers, but businesses and particularly municipalities and universities seem very interested. Larger entities might not be far behind.
Microsoft has been pushing it into educational institutions via a variety of specials, most recently the free use for students at schools that license Office 365 Pro Plus or Office Professional Plus via the Student Advantage program.

Buying Nokia – With Nokia smartphones pretty much driving whatever success Windows Phone has, pulling the company in-house seems like a smart move.

+ALSO ON NETWORKWORLD: 2013 tech news quiz | 2013: The 12 months of Cisco | Top 10 Buzzblog posts of 2013+

First, Microsoft should be able to move more quickly to implement upgrades to Windows 8 and to direct sales efforts in places Windows 8 lags but that represent potential growth, such as Africa and Japan. Nokia has high- and low-end smartphones to worm its way into markets at either end.
Nokia Lumia
Nokia Lumia

Nokia also has lines of tablets and phablets (phones with screens between five and seven inches), both of which Microsoft should be interested in serving. As the PC market shrinks, some other device or set of devices will replace them. With Nokia’s assets on board Microsoft should be able to move quickly to provide Windows-based options regardless of which form factor dominates, keeping pace with or beating its OEM hardware partners.

Windows Phone – Microsoft is again nowhere near being number one in mobile phones, but it is making progress, posting number three among the top operating systems.

While lagging far behind Android (52%) and Apple’s iOS (40.6%), Microsoft’s 3.2% market share as of October 2013 is laughably small but still represents the first time it has beaten BlackBerry, according to analytics firm ComScore.

Microsoft doubled its share of the worldwide market between Oct. 2012 and Oct. 2013, making it the fastest growing major smartphone platform, according to Strategy Analytics.

Also important, Windows Phone is making bigger strides in individual regions outside the U.S., particularly Europe where its share has hit double digits in some countries, according to Kantar Worldpanel, a consumer analytics firm.
Nearly all of that growth is thanks to Nokia, Strategy Analytics notes.

Xbox One – Released late last month, the latest Microsoft gaming console is so much more, and so far has had largely favorable reviews.

In addition to games it supports TV watching, split-screen display of applications, Kinect motion sensing, Skype videoconferencing, voice commands and gesture navigation.

Locked in a battle with Play Station 4 for dominance in holiday sales, Xbox One has the potential to do more, according to this Network World review. These include such features as streaming games to PCs or serving as a digital assistant.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM – Part of Microsoft’s larger Dynamics offering, Dynamics CRM is finally making headway against its competitors.

It’s been around for years, Dynamics CRM is showing promising growth, up to 40,000 business customers in July, up from 33,000 customers the year before, again cashing in on those customers willing to go to cloud services.

In this case Microsoft has clawed to being fourth among CRM competitors behind No.1 Salesforce.com, two SAP and three Oracle, Gartner says, pulling in an estimated $1.1 billion in revenues. And analysts say it is growing faster than SAP’s and Oracle’s CRM business.

With a new mobile strategy that has tablets at its center, the service is also poised for continued impressive growth in 2014, still lagging far behind Salesforce.com, but moving in the right direction.
Cybercrime Center

Cybercrime Center – Microsoft opened a dedicated facility last month to house its botnet disruption team and partners willing to help in the cause.

While the company had such a team before, the center pulls together a larger group and acts as nexus for branch cybercrime investigation offices around the globe. Its emphasis on collaboration with partners means it has the potential to move quickly to draw in new resources to fight all forms of cybercrime.

The company’s string of high-profile botnet takedowns over the past few years have highlighted the sophistication of criminals using the Internet to commit crimes and the ever-changing methods crime fighters have to employ to succeed. The Cybercrime Center should help elevate the law-enforcement effort from a game of Whac-A-Mole to something more effective.
Wrong

Windows 8.1 – In a way Windows 8.1 was the right thing to do, but it didn’t go far enough.

Microsoft responded to a number of complaints about Windows 8 and added new features, but the package still comes up short capturing the imagination and more important the cash of potential customers.

According to multiple organizations that track use of operating systems, the numbers show that Windows 8.1 isn’t capturing those customers finally abandoning Windows XP and isn’t making significant headway into businesses.

Windows 8.1 takes some getting used to and it requires a touch device to be appreciated fully, but it has its limitations. Apps that run on Windows 7 run on Windows 8.1 but look and behave just as they did in Windows 7. The apps that show off Windows 8.1 to its best advantage are approaching 150,000, they just aren’t compelling enough to draw customers.

Perhaps as businesses and consumers decide what devices will replace PCs, Windows 8.1 and its successors will do better. Those new devices will likely include touch and mobility, two areas where Windows 8.1 does well. But for 2013, it was at best ahead of its time.

Surface RT, Surface 2 – Despite a $900 million write-down of the Surface RT tablet – a stark acknowledgment of its failure – Microsoft has pushed ahead with the next generation of the device called Surface 2.
Surface

While it does come with Microsoft Office – something you can’t get on an iPad – the device runs only Windows Store Applications – those designed for the Windows RT operating system, vetted by Microsoft and available online only through the Windows Store.

Reports indicate that in some locales Surface 2 supplies have run dry during the holiday shopping season, but Microsoft doesn’t say how many were available in the first place so it’s difficult to say whether popularity of the new device is on the rise. With the pending sale of Nokia to Microsoft, Surface 2 seems like an unnecessary and not very popular product.

Regardless, Microsoft seems committed to it for at least a little while longer. A story by Marcom News says Microsoft has signed up an agency to run a four-month ad campaign for the device.

CEO search – It was unnecessary to announce as much as a year ahead of time that the company is looking for a CEO to replace Steve Ballmer.

It acts as a distraction that deflects attention away from other efforts that would be good for the business and doesn’t make Ballmer’s job any easier in the meantime.

Keeping mum until a replacement was signed up would have been the way to go.

It’s not helping the top candidates, either. Alan Mulally, rumored as the top contender, is CEO of Ford, whose board is getting cranky that his possible selection is outshining the company’s efforts to promote an ambitious 2014 lineup of new cars.

Scroogled – This apparently well-funded campaign to attack Google Chromebooks and the way Google mines personal information to sell to advertisers seems a bit much.

Microsoft has nailed down the scroogled.com domain name and keeps the site updated with content intended to send Google customers flocking to Microsoft. It’s also got scrooglednews.com, an aggregation site that posts links to stories that point out Google transgressions.

The company even sells a line of Scroogled apparel on its online Microsoft Store so equally rabid anti-Google customers can pay to wear Microsoft negative advertising.

Regardless of the merits of Scroogle arguments, the campaign comes across as silly and spiteful.

Apple parody – In the same spirit (bad) as Scroogled, Microsoft produced a video making fun of Apple’s iPhone.

It looked thrown together but mainly it wasn’t funny. Microsoft took it down and acknowledged it as a mistake.


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Internet Explorer (again) needs fixes; recent Windows XP vulnerability not addressed

Microsoft is wrapping up the year’s Patch Tuesday bulletins next week with 11 more fixes, pushing the total for 2013 to 106, up from last year’s total of 83.

Five bulletins ranked critical all hold the potential for enabling remote code execution on victimized machines and affect a wide range of platforms including most versions of Windows, Windows Server, Internet Explorer, SharePoint and Exchange.

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The patches will include a remedy for the .TIFF zero day vulnerability, a flaw in Microsoft Graphics that leaves Microsoft Office and Lync apps and Windows open to attack. Common exploits of the vulnerability include a Word file containing a malicious .TIFF image that leads to the attacker gaining control of the machine with current user rights. “In this vulnerability, an attacker needs to convince a user to preview or open a bad TIFF image for exploitation,” says Paul Henry, a forensics and security analyst for Lumension. “Because we know persuading users to click isn’t always that hard to do, a patch for this one is definitely welcome.”

The problem and exploits in the wild were discovered last month, but Microsoft didn’t deem it worth an out-of-band fix.

All the critical bulletins save one require restarts, so scheduling the patches will be a chore. “Be careful and have a rollback plan in case the patches break your custom environment,” says Tommy Chin, a technical support engineer for CORE Security.

RELATED: Microsoft’s $100k hacker bounty sounds great but has a lot of loopholes

Another critical bulletin this month addresses a vulnerability in all versions of Internet Explorer from 6 through 11. “It is best to patch the ones that require restart quickly, since the vulnerable code is already loaded in those scenarios,” says Chin. “Definitely patch Windows and Internet Explorer first.”

A bulletin affecting Microsoft Exchange does not require a restart but warrants attention, says Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek. “Bulletin #5 is a server-side bulletin for Microsoft Exchange and will probably include the new Outside In library from Oracle that was released during October’s Critical Patch Update,” he says, referencing an Oracle update that included fixes for middleware in Outside In Technology, versions 8.4.0, 8.4.1. Outside In provides tools to access and control content in unstructured file formats.

One of the less severe bulletins, ranked important, should still be a high priority, says Kandek. “Bulletin #6 is for Microsoft Office and is only rated important, but it will still deserve your full attention due to the Remote Code Execution possibilities, most likely through file format vulnerabilities,” he says.

A vulnerability in Windows XP discovered last week is not being addressed in this wave of patches. “This is perhaps another reminder that end of life is now just four months out for Windows XP and users still running it should move to a current generation operating system sooner rather than later,” Henry says.

Hyper-V V3 resources can be aggregated into clusters, and through the use of new VHDX sharable disk stores, can create islands internally — or for cloud-hosted purposes, external clouds whose resources should be opaque to other cloud components. We were not able to successfully find constructs to test the opaque nature of what should be isolated clouds, but rudimentary tests seemed to prove isolation. The VHDX format can also be dynamically re-sized as the need arises; we found that the process is fast, although during that period, disk and CPU resources can peak until the modification is over. Heavy CPU/disk-imposed limitations thwart resizing by slowing it.

We also tested Hyper-V and 2012R2 IPAM and Microsoft’s SDN successfully under IPv4 (other limitations prevented heavy IPv6 testing). Software defined networks (SDN) cross a turf that is divided in many organizations: virtualization and network management teams. Network management staff have traditionally used IPS, routing, switching and infrastructure controls to balance traffic, hosts, even NOC hardware placement. SDN use means that what were once separate disciplines are now forced to work together to make things work inside the host server’s hypervisor, where the demarcation was once where the RJ-45 connector meets the server chassis.

IPAM allowed us to define a base allocation of routeable and/or non-routeable addresses, then allocate them to VMs hosted on Hyper-V hosts or other hosts/VMs/devices on our test network. We could in turn, allocate virtual switches, public private or internal, connected with static/blocked and sticky DHCP. Inter-fabric VM movements still require a bit of homework, we found. Using one IPAM is recommended.

[ALSO: Windows 8.1 cheat sheet]

What we like is that the SDN primitives and IPAM can work well together, with well-implemented planning steps. We could create clouds easily, and keep track of address relationships. A Microsoft representative mused over the spreadsheets that carry IP relationship management information in many organizations, calling it crazy. We would agree, and believe that hypervisor or host-based IPAM is a great idea. If only DNS were mixed in more thoroughly — and it’s not — we’d be complete converts to the concept. We found it very convenient nonetheless, although errors were more difficult to find when they occurred, such as address pool depletions. Uniting networking and virtualization/host management disciplines isn’t going to be easy.
The Bad News

We found head-scratchers and limitations. We found several initial foibles installing the operating system on bare metal to what should be generic hardware. We were able to overcome them, but warn installers that they’ll need to consider that Windows 2012 and especially R2 might require updated server BIOS firmware to UEFI-compatible, as happened with our Lenovo ThinkServer and HP DL 380 Gen8 servers. When Windows 2012 R2 can’t install (R2 or Hyper-V V3-R2), we received an inarticulate flash of an error message. We actually took a video of it to capture that there was a problem with ACPI — and not UEFI. The turf between platform providers and OS/hypervisor makers is still real and strong, but Microsoft isn’t alone, as we’ve incurred driver/platform mysticism with VMware and Oracle, too.

We found the Hyper-V role cannot be re-instantiated. This means that no hypervisor on top of a hypervisor. Microsoft claims that there has been no customer demand for this, but it also imposes a limitation. Although running a hypervisor atop a hypervisor seems silly, there are cases where it’s useful. One role often cited is in production test labs, and another where Microsoft’s SDN is used — Hyper-V V3 must always be the base layer talking to the metal and silicon of a server, precluding other schemes direct access to the metal and therefore impeding other SDN schemes.

The Azure Pack uses the same Hyper-V infrastructure as Windows Server 2012 R2. Microsoft offers a sample of what other third party providers may offer in the form of services and ready-to-deploy pre-built appliances. We were reminded of what TurnKeyLinux started several years ago, in terms of usable appliances built from Linux substrates. There isn’t a huge variety of appliance samples available, but what we tested, worked — full WordPress websites that were ready for skins and customizations.

A Service Bus, actually message bus, connects components in the clouds serviced by the Azure Pack and Hyper-V. The Service Bus connects Microsoft-specific API sets, after a framework “namespace” is created. Communications can be subscribed and published to the framework and its members in the namespace talk via REST, Advanced Message Queueing Protocol/AMQP, and Windows instrumentation APIs. The Service Bus reminds us of products like Puppet, Chef, and others in the Linux world, communicating in a stack-like framework for rapid deployment and ease of VM and infrastructure fleet management.
Windows 8.1

Where Windows 8.1 is upgraded on Windows 7 or Windows 8 platforms, the upgrade was fast and made no mistakes. Windows XP can be run atop Hyper-V or in a Type 2 hypervisor application, but we didn’t test this, as we’ve retired Windows XP completely and we hope that readers have, too. Like Windows 8.0, 8.1 can use the latest version of Hyper-V V3 as a foundation, so that other OS versions can be used on the same host hardware, with resource limitations to guests or 8.1, SDN, IPAM, and other Hyper-V features.

The Windows 8.1 UI is initially identical to Windows 8.0, but with the addition of a desktop icon that can be touched/chosen to be optionally or subsequently a resident resource more familiar to XP and Windows 7 users. We found it’s also possible to boot directly to an Apps screen that allows apps to be easily chosen, although not with the same vendor topical drop-boxes that Win XP and Windows 7 might be used to. If there are many applications, the screen must be scrolled. Windows XP/7 users who have accumulated many dozens of applications might be scrolling frequently as long lists of applications can fill many screens.

We found more UI customization choices, and discovered we could make very busy combinations of Live Tiles. It’s possible to insert RSS feeds into tiles where supported, allowing what we feel is an addicting amount of information available within just a handful of tiles, and the appeal of moving tiles combinations on tablets to suit differing use situations. Apps that use “traditional” windows are easier to manage, and users can now move multiple windows adjacent to each other (especially handy on multiple monitors) without having snap behavior crater their placement choices, as occurred in 8.0 and even Windows 7 editions.

Desktop/notebook users have now taken second seat to tablets in this upgrade, and some of the hoped for bridges to Windows 7-ish look-and-feel are missing as we found the 8.1 changes more easily demonstrated on tablets. However, mouse or touch sweeps are more customizable, although consistencies can be imposed in Group Policy. If you’re looking for the familiar Start button, you’ll still need to garner it from a third party app provider. Microsoft, like Apple and Google, would really prefer that you obtain Start Buttons and other third party applications from Microsoft’s online store, which is far more filled with new, familiar, and diverse applications than when Windows 8.0 was released. You can still install from “unauthorized” sources if preferred or forbid that if you’re draconian or simply worried about security.

Recent changes to 8.1 in terms of speed weren’t dramatic, in our subjective analysis. Windows 8.1 uses Server Message Block V3/SMB3 features when connecting to Windows 2012+ network resources that allow several features, including SMB Encryption, SMB traffic aggregation for speed, and TPC “signing” for ostensibly trustable, ostensibly non-repudiating host and client relationships. We say ostensibly, as we’re unsure of a comprehensive methodology to test these, and therefore, have not.
Overall

Microsoft has been very busy. Windows Server 2012 R2, while a strong operating system update, is perhaps more about Hyper-V V3 and Azure Pack, and represents a trend towards platform strengthening on Microsoft’s part as platform flexibility starts to replace the operating system as the functional least common denominator for applications infrastructure. Towards these ends, Hyper-V now controls more of the network than the operating system, more of the storage connectivity and options then the operating system, and more of the application availability and administrative control nexus than ever before.

For its part, Windows 8.1 is now the client-side of the experiences rendered by web access, and client/cloud-based services, which become increasingly location-irrelevant where persistent connectivity is available. The Windows 8.1 release comes in fewer forms than Window 8.0, which comes in fewer forms than Windows 7. The shrinking forms betrays that the versions must now be synchronized across a wide variety of platforms, from traditional desktops and notebooks, to tablets, phones, and VDI/Desktop-as-a-Service platforms. More attention to this variety of user device in Windows 8.1 also includes attention paid to criticisms of the seemingly lurching change from former Windows UIs to the tiled interface of Windows 8.

Windows as a client is no longer like the old leaky Windows, but it’s approachable in a more familiar way. Whether the 8.1 client changes can re-enamor disaffected users, and roll with new competitive punches, remains to be seen.
How We Tested Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1

For Windows Server 2012 R2, we tested the RTM version downloaded from the MSDN website. We deployed and tested the DataCenter version on both bare metal servers from HP (DL580G5, 16core, iSCSI, Dell (Compellent iSCSI SAN and older Dell servers), and Lenovo (ThinkServer 580 with 16 cores, 32GB) and various hypervisors. Windows 2012 R2 installed basic operations successfully atop VMware vSphere 5.1 and 5.5, Oracle VirtualBox 4.2, aforementioned Hyper-V V3, and Citrix XenServer 6.2, and we found much flexibility and a few servers that needed the aforementioned firmware upgrades for Hyper-V or 2012 R2.

Windows 8.1 was tested on a Microsoft Surface Pro, Lenovo T530 notebooks, and as virtual machines, upgrading from Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8.0 Enterprise versions, as well as fresh installs on UEFI the T530 notebooks hardware.

Testing was performed between the Lab (Gigabit Ethernet switched infrastructure) connected via Xfinity Broadband to our NOC at Expedient/nFrame in Indianapolis (Gigabit Ethernet switched infrastructure with 10GB links on Extreme Switches, connected via a GBE backbone to core routers, Compellent iSCSI SAN, with numerous hosts running VMware, XenServer, BSD, various flavors of Linux, Solaris, in turn connected to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure Cloud).


 

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