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September 27, 2006

Microsoft rumors and rants – September 27, 2006

Posted by David Hunter at 1:19 PM ET.

Microsoft to buy eBay? This one has been around for a while, but yesterday traders looking for any light at the end of the eBay tunnel drove up shares over 5% based on this and other wishful thinking.

Why the PlayStation 3 Will Bankrupt Sony. Interesting assessment of the financial hurdles Sony will face in subsidizing the pricey PlayStation 3, although the suggestion that Sony may sell their videogame division to Microsoft seems a bit farfetched.

These corporate takeover rumors are a little remote, but here’s one closer to home – Microsoft May Use Incentives to Tempt Users to ‘Soapbox’. Rewarding frequent users at social networking sites seems to be the latest Web 2.0 thing. I guess it helps to break the ice.

Uh-Oh – Microsoft antivirus software gets the jump on Windows zero days:

Microsoft Corp’s antivirus software knows about in-the-wild zero-day attacks against Windows products before the company has officially acknowledged they exist.

It’s an interesting predicament for Microsoft, which will often find itself in the position of wearing both the “vendor” and sometimes the “discoverer” hats when trying to play by the responsible disclosure rulebook.

Commercial vulnerability researchers have generally agreed not to release full information about security holes until a patch is available, on the basis that the information would also be useful to would-be attackers.

One time that agreement breaks down is when the attackers already know about the vulnerability and are actively exploiting it. In this case, discoverers will often release more information, to help users protect themselves while waiting for a patch.

In this case, it appears that Microsoft knew about the zero-day attacks, but had not yet disclosed that fact.

Then there is this Neelie Kroes bait – Symantec accuses Microsoft of withholding Vista security APIs:

Symantec has partnerships with equipment manufacturers Dell, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Sony and Toshiba, among others. The antivirus vendor is worried that Microsoft will hand over the APIs so late that Symantec won’t be able to make its antivirus software compatible with Vista in time.

“Microsoft will provide information about two days before the October shipment date, and say “We’ve given you the APIs”. Now we’re good, but we’re not good enough [to integrate Norton with Defender] in that time,” said a Symantec spokesperson.

Speaking of Neelie Kroes, she apparently spotted another reporter:

The European Commission’s Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes told a Dutch newspaper this week that she was pressured by the United States government to go easy on Microsoft. In the article, she criticized government officials for interfering in an EU matter.

Representatives have confirmed that Kroes was annoyed by the U.S. government’s attempts to intervene, although she wouldn’t say it herself. “In my work, I cannot have a preference,” she told the Financieele Dagblad. “I have, however, a personal opinion, but that is for Saturday night.”

Stunned by the thought of Neelie Kroes as a party animal, I’ll only observe that this is old news and wonder why she thinks anyone would mistake her for an impartial arbiter after all her grandstanding for the press. Maybe the EU could get her predecessor Mario Monti back and return a little professionalism to the office of Competition Commissioner?

And while we’re talking about software that won’t work on Vista, Mary Jo Foley points to an unofficial application compatibility list for Vista. It’s not bad at all, but not comprehensive at this point either.

As for Vista itself, Robert McLaws wonders What’s the deal with all these analysts? His objection is to all the various analyst theories that Vista won’t be ready in November in the USA at least.

Finally, Ed Bott spanks Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage program again in Microsoft admits WGA failures “coming up more commonly now:”

Scrolling through the posts on Microsoft’s official WGA Validation Problems forum is like reading accident reports from a multiple-car pileup on Interstate 5. Many of the victims are completely innocent and have no idea what hit them, and cleaning up the mess can be a nightmare.

Maybe they can get a new product key by posting frequently on MSN Soapbox?

Filed under Acquisitions, Antitrust, Coopetition, General Business, Genuine Advantage, Governmental Relations, Legal, Licensing, MSN, MSN Soapbox, Microsoft, OS - Client, Public Relations, Security, Sony, Symantec, Technologies, Viruses and Worms, Windows Vista, Xbox, eBay

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August 16, 2006

Microsoft grabs Symantec antivirus expert

Posted by David Hunter at 7:55 PM ET.

Ryan Naraine at PC Magazine:

Veteran virus-hunter Vincent ‘Vinny’ Gullotto has joined Microsoft to head its Security Research and Response team, a move that adds instant credibility to the software maker’s push into the Internet security market.

Gullotto, an anti-virus ace who served stints at McAfee and Symantec, will be general manager of the team, which handles all aspects of malware research and response.

The Security Research and Response team is not to be confused with the 10-year-old MSRC (Microsoft Security Response Center) that serves as hub for the company’s response to security incidents and software flaw warnings.

More details by following the link, but it is generally felt to be a strong move for Microsoft’s developing security product lines to bring in someone so well known and respected in the security software community.

Filed under Coopetition, Employee Retention, General Business, McAfee, Microsoft, Security, Symantec, Viruses and Worms

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August 11, 2006

Microsoft Weekly Miscellany – August 11, 2006

Posted by David Hunter at 10:04 PM ET.

Some of the “smaller” Microsoft stories of the week that didn’t find a post of their own:

Microsoft Breaks Patch Records:

Microsoft has already put out as many critical alerts this year as it did in 2004 and 2005 combined–and the year isn’t anywhere near over.

And one of the bugs patched by Microsoft last Tuesday was a beaut:

It affects all currently supported versions of Windows, can be exploited without end users needing to do anything, and according to some security watchers, rivals the bug that led to 2003′s destructive MSBlast attack.

Wednesday, Department of Homeland Defense (DHS) called out a rare warning, and Microsoft acknowledged that the patch should be at the top of every computer user’s or administrator’s to-do list.

MSBlast is often better known as MSBlaster or Blaster and its advent was quite exciting. An exploit for this latest hole has already been published.

In U.K., online advertising overtakes magazines:

Online advertising in the United Kingdom raked in $2.48 billion last year and is now worth three times the U.K. radio-advertising market, Ofcom’s annual report into the communications market has revealed.

Now the fourth-largest display advertising medium in the U.K. behind newspapers, television and direct mail, online outstripped outdoor advertising in 2005, as well as the business and consumer magazine markets.

The situation was described Thursday as “almost unthinkable, going back two years” by the regulator’s chief operating officer, Ed Richards, who said the online-advertising market was now more than a third as big as the television market.

On the subject of online ads, Steve Rubel points out that some big name advertisers want tighter auditing controls to make sure they are getting their money’s worth. Also related, Google published a paper criticizing the methodology of some click fraud auditors and they returned fire. Finally Microsoft researchers described what they have been working on to improve search accuracy and relevance at the 2006 SIGIR conference.

‘Open SOA’ launched — no surprise, no Microsoft:

Other heavyweights, such as BEA, IBM, Oracle, SAP, Sun, Tibco, Progress, and Software AG, have signed on to the advocacy group, which is spearheading two proposed SOA specifications—Service Component Architecture (SCA) and Service Data Objects (SDO)—and make the specs available to others in the industry on a “royalty free” licensing basis. SCA and SDO promise to provide a language-independent programming model for SOA.

MSFTextrememakeover analyzes the Microsoft stock buyback

Modified Xbox 360 Spreads Game Piracy and other bad news for the Xbox in Korea.

Rights Group Blasts Internet Companies Over China Policies. Human Rights Watch dings Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo. The latest is that they want the USA and EU to pass laws prohibiting companies within their purview from storing personal information on servers in China.

Microsoft appoints John Fikany as Vice President of Manufacturing Industry vertical

E-Pass patent claim against Microsoft, HP dismissed

Microsoft Unveils The Director For Halo Movie – Neill Blomkamp

Microsoft Hosts Project to Run PHP on .NET. Looks like support for more dynamic languages is coming.

Microsoft considered bundling an edition of Visual Studio Express with Vista but there were “too many snags,” among which legal problems were foremost.

Filed under .NET 3.0, Advertising, BEA, Coopetition, Financial, General Business, Google, Governmental Relations, IBM, Investor Relations, Manufacturing, Microsoft, Microsoft Research, OS - Client, OS - Server, Open SOA, Oracle, Patch Tuesday, Patent Lawsuits, Patents, Public Relations, SAP, Security, Standards, Sun, Technologies, Tools, VS 2005, Verticals, Viruses and Worms, Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, Xbox, Yahoo

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June 30, 2006

Friday round up

Posted by David Hunter at 6:48 PM ET.

“Brace for impact!”: Microsoft Warns Employees of Likely Antitrust Fine

John Dvorak: Why Microsoft won’t buy Yahoo: “Sometimes you have to laugh out loud when a report comes out with analysis and suggestions that are so far out in left field that they can only be categorized as completely insane.” I felt bad that I didn’t have time to say something snarky about last week’s rumor, but I feel much better after reading Dvorak.

Microsoft Faces Class Action Suit: Lawsuit alleges that Windows Genuine Advantage antipiracy tool violates consumer protection laws. Unfortunately predictable. Also predictable is a worm pretending to be a WGA tester.

MobiTV does Windows Mobile: MobiTV Enables Consumers to Watch Live and Made-for-Mobile Television Content on Windows Mobile Powered Devices

Microsoft readies an “Ultimate” keyboard/mouse combo to ship alongside Vista which would go well with the rumored Microsoft branded Vista optimizing 22″ TFT monitor.

Microsoft launches CodePlex shared source project site: We mentioned it back in May when the beta test started.

A blast from the past: Microsoft says Go antitrust suit dismissed.

Filed under Acquisitions, Antitrust, Coopetition, General Business, Genuine Advantage, Governmental Relations, Keyboards, Legal, Licensing, Mice, Microsoft, Microsoft Hardware, Open Source, Security, Shared Source, Technologies, Viruses and Worms, Windows Mobile, Yahoo

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