Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Microsoft explains its location data collection practices

IDG News Service - In the midst of an uproar over ways that Apple and Google collect and store location information from mobile phones, Microsoft has laid out details about its Windows Phone 7 data collection policies.

Microsoft says that it collects location information only if users allow an application to access location data and when that particular application requests location information. It also said that it keeps that data in a Microsoft database.

Apple has come under fire in recent weeks after researchers showed that the iPhone and iPad store location data about users on the devices. Additional research found that both Apple and Google collect location information about users even when applications that require location information aren't running.

Google has defended itself by saying that location sharing by users of Android-based mobile phones is opt-in and that all location data the company stores is anonymized. Apple has not commented on the situation.

Microsoft said that it assembles and maintains a database of the locations of cell towers and Wi-Fi access points in order to provide its location services. When a user accesses an application that requires location information, Microsoft compares the Wi-Fi access points and cell towers in range of the device with the location database, which contains details of the locations of the access points and cell towers.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Windows 7 (Finally) Beats Windows XP's U.S. Desktop Share

Someone get the party balloons and slap a big "7" on them, for Windows 7 has finally overtaken its younger brother, Windows XP, in desktop market share. For those keeping score at home or running an office betting pool, the milestone comes just under two years since the release of Windows 7, and a bit over one year since Windows 7 passed Windows Vista's desktop market share.

According to new statistics from Statcounter, Windows 7 now commands 31.71 percent of all U.S. desktops—that's based on the aggregated visitor statistics tracked across approximately three million websites during the month of April. Windows XP now takes up second place in the U.S. desktop market at 31.56 percent, with Vista trailing third at 19.07 percent. And for Apple fans only, OS X currently hovers at a desktop market share of around 14.87 percent.

Looking at the stats over the past year, Windows 7 has been eating away at the desktop share of Windows Vista and Windows XP in equal measure. The desktop share of Apple's OS X has risen slightly from April 2010's 13.24 percent, but its overall growth hasn't experience nearly the same rise of fall as its Microsoft-based brethren.

Windows XP commanded 42.51 percent of the U.S. desktop market in April 2010, and Windows Vista, 27.45 percent. Windows 7 saw half the market penetration of its present-day totals, eating up only 14.7 percent of all U.S. desktops in April of 2010. 

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Microsoft sets mammoth Patch Tuesday, will fix 64 flaws

'Out of line with anything normal,' says security expert

Computerworld - Microsoft today said it will patch a record 64 vulnerabilities in Windows, Office, Internet Explorer, Windows graphics framework, and other software next week, and tie a December 2010 record for the number of security updates it issues.

The 17 updates -- Microsoft calls them "bulletins" -- tie the count of December 2010. The bulletins that will ship next Tuesday will include 64 patches, Microsoft said, 15 more than the previous record of October 2010, and 24 more than the 40 of the former second-place collection of December 2010.

Of the 17 updates, 9 will be rated "critical," the highest threat label in Microsoft's four-step scoring system, while the remaining 8 will be marked "important," the second-most-dire ranking.

"We were expecting the larger release this month, based on the normal cadence," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security, referring to Microsoft's habit of issuing a larger number of updates on even-numbered months.

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