Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Microsoft's chief researcher takes new role; will retire in 2014

Craig Mundie has left his role as Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer to become senior adviser to the CEO, as he winds down before retirement.

Mundie had led strategy since founder Bill Gates stepped down from full-time work at the company in 2006.

Ina Fried of All Things D first reported the move Monday morning, noting that it was announced in an internal memo from CEO Steve Ballmer on Dec. 14, which also included news that Mundie plans to retire in 2014.

Chief Technical Strategy Officer Eric Rudder has taken over most of Mundie's former duties, including overseeing Microsoft research.

Mundie, who will turn 65 in 2014, joined Microsoft in 1992 in the consumer platforms division, where he managed production of Windows CE. Before then, he had co-founded Alliant Computer Systems, which filed for bankruptcy in 1992, and previously was director of Data General's advanced development facility at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

The 5 biggest tech failures of 2012

Technology marches onward with unrelenting determination year after year. The gadgets that run our lives get cheaper, faster, and more beautiful without fail. However, that doesn’t mean that individual companies can’t pull a boner from time to time, and 2012 was no exception. Let’s take a look at the five biggest technology fails of the past year.
The HP-Autonomy deal

Before HP ousted its consumer-hating CEO Leo Apotheker in 2011, he inked a deal to buy UK-based business services and consulting firm Autonomy for $11.1 billion. This action was undertaken with the understanding that HP was leaving the consumer market. When new CEO Meg Whitman joined the company, fresh off her loss in the California gubernatorial race, she stuck with Autonomy in 2012...

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Microsoft's original, uncompromising vision for Windows 8

One of the conceits of the typical disaster movie is that -- at least at the beginning -- the audience knows what's going to happen, even as the people on screen go about their seemingly normal lives.

When Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet boarded the Titanic, you knew they'd have a rough voyage, even though they had no idea what was coming. When Bruce Willis is climbing around in the pipes of his oil rig in Armageddon  (the best movie ever made, by the way), he has no idea that in a few short days, he'll be in a spacesuit, fighting for his life on an asteroid about to impact Earth.

Watching Microsoft's Program Manager for the Windows User Experience, Jensen Harris, tell the story of Windows 8's UI design has a little of that disaster movie feel. He gave his talk back in August, when -- you'd think -- he'd already know about the deep compromises and designed-by-committee feel Windows 8 would eventually end up with.

This is an impassioned and proud speaker who talks about the Windows 8 design principles of "Do more with less, authentically digital, pride in craftsmanship, be fast and fluid, and win as one." And yet, we've seen Windows 8 and we've seen the highly problematic Surface RT. The vision was strong, perhaps somewhat impractical, but the execution has been rife with dangerous and possibly deeply damaging compromises...

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Microsoft plans patches for IE10, Windows 8 next week

Computerworld - Microsoft today announced it will deliver seven security updates next week to patch 11 vulnerabilities, including the first that apply to Internet Explorer 10 (IE10), the company's newest browser.

As it did last month, Microsoft will also patch Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Server 2012, its new desktop, tablet and server operating systems.

Five of the seven updates will be marked as "critical," Microsoft's highest threat ranking, while the remaining pair will be labeled "important," the Redmond, Wash. developer said in an advance warning published today.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security, put the IE update atop his tentative to-do list. Others did, too, including Paul Henry, a researcher with Arizona-based Lumension.

In an email Thursday, Henry said that the bugs in IE9 and IE10 -- the only versions directly affected -- were "use-after-free" memory management vulnerabilities.

By the IE update's critical label, it's likely that the bug(s) can be exploited by hackers using "drive-by" attacks, those that execute as soon as an unsuspecting user surfs to a malicious or compromised website...

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Experts question Microsoft's decision to retire XP

Computerworld - Microsoft will "draw a line in the sand" come April 2014 when Windows XP exits support, security researchers said today, even if millions of customers are still running the aged OS and a zero-day bug threatens the Windows ecosystem.

Or maybe not. Other experts believe Microsoft will have no choice but to continue supporting XP.

Windows XP, now in its twelfth year, is slated for retirement on April 8, 2014. After that date, the ancient OS will receive no further security updates or bug fixes, except to enterprises that pay for high-priced support contracts.

PCs running XP will not suddenly stop working, of course, but they will be at risk to attacks exploiting vulnerabilities uncovered -- and patched for other editions of Windows -- from that point on.

Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash. research firm that focuses solely on Microsoft, posed a scenario.

"Suppose we get to a date post the end of Extended support, and a security problem with XP suddenly causes massive problems on the Internet, such as a massive [denial-of-service] problem?" asked Cherry. "It is not just harming Windows XP users, it is bringing the entire Internet to its knees. At this time there are still significant numbers of Windows XP in use, and the problem is definitely due to a problem in Windows XP. In this scenario, I believe Microsoft would have to do the right thing and issue a fix ... without regard to where it is in the support lifecycle."...

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