Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Microsoft warns of security flaw in key software products

November 26th, 2013

Microsoft has warned that hackers could exploit a zero-day vulnerability in the graphics component of several key products to gain control of users’ computers. The vulnerable component is found in Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Office 2003-2010 and Microsoft Lync.

The flaw lies in the handling of the Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) image files by the graphics processing component in the affected software. Attackers could exploit the vulnerability by requesting users to preview or open a specially crafted email or web content. An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user, but the impact would be lower on users who do not operate with full administrative rights.

Microsoft said it would take appropriate action to address the issue, which “may include providing a security update through our monthly release process or providing an out-of-cycle security update, depending on customer needs”.

Microsoft pays out $128K to security bug hunters

October 19th, 2013

Microsoft has paid out more than $128,000 to security researchers since first offering bug bounties just over three months ago. In June, Microsoft announced three security bounty programmes to help improve the resilience of its products through responsible disclosure of flaws that hackers could exploit. Several big software companies, including Google, Paypal and Facebook, have established bug bounty programmes, but Microsoft had stopped short of offering similar cash rewards before.

The bulk of the rewards paid so far are for a mitigation bypass technique and 15 exploitable vulnerabilities reported in the preview version of its latest version of Microsoft’s web browser, Internet Explorer (IE11), which is scheduled to ship with Windows 8.1 on 18 October 2013.

Under the Mitigation Bypass Bounty programme, Microsoft will pay up to $100,000 for “truly novel” exploitation techniques against protections built into Windows 8.

And the BlueHat Bonus for Defense programme offers up to $50,000 for defensive ideas that block a mitigation bypass technique.

Announcing the bug bounty programmes, Microsoft said they would provide another way for the company to harness the collective intelligence and capabilities of security researchers.

Microsoft to build $250m data centre in Finland for European customers

October 7th, 2013

Microsoft is to design and build its next data centre in Finland. The new facility, costing over $250m (£161m), will be used to serve Microsoft customers in Europe. The company revealed it had chosen Finland as the home for its next data centre on the same day as it announced plans to acquire ailing Finnish telecommunications company Nokia in a $7.2bn deal.

Microsoft announced that it plans to invest more than a quarter of a billion dollars in capital and operation of the Finland data centre over the next few years, with the potential for further expansion over time.

Helsinki is a growing data centre hub and offers easy access to Russia and the Baltic countries. However, it is not yet clear if Microsoft will use the Finnish data centre to provide its Windows Azure cloud services to enterprise customers in Europe.

Microsoft already has other European data centre facilities – in Ireland and The Netherlands.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire

September 8th, 2013

Microsoft has announced that CEO Steve Ballmer is to retire within 12 months and its board has begun looking for a successor. The board’s director John Thompson is to lead a committee to find a new CEO. The committee includes founder and board chairman Bill Gates and will consider internal and external candidates.

The news comes six weeks after Microsoft announced a major executive re-organisation as part of plans to re-invent Microsoft with a big push to develop hardware from phones to set-top boxes, as it attempts to remain relevant in the era of IT consumerisation.

Ballmer said that, with the company’s transformation to a devices and services company, it needs a CEO who will be around in the longer term for this new direction.

Microsoft alludes to free Windows 8.1 update

July 10th, 2013

The latest operating system from Microsoft – Windows 8 – is set to get an update this summer at no cost to its users. Tami Reller, chief marketing officer and chief financial officer at Microsoft, confirmed the upcoming release of Windows 8.1 – previously codenamed Windows Blue – at a conference hosted by JP Morgan in Boston in May, promising it would be made available for free through the Windows Store.

The update was in response to customer feedback since Windows 8 launched and the ideas would be incorporated when it rolls out later in the year.

Microsoft reports strong quarterly results for all divisions

May 8th, 2013

Despite a mixed response to Windows 8 and a global decline in PC sales, Microsoft reported net income of $6bn for the quarter ended 31 March 2013, up 17% from the same period a year ago. The software maker also reported revenues of $20.5bn, up 1% on the same period in 2012; and operating income of $7.61bn, an increase of 19% compared with the same period in 2012.

Analysts said Microsoft’s profits were boosted in part by changing the way it sells software licenses to businesses and cost-cutting measures. “The bold bets we made on cloud services are paying off as people increasingly choose Microsoft services including Office 365, Windows Azure, Xbox LIVE, and Skype,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

The Microsoft Business Division posted revenue of $6.32bn, an 8% increase from the prior year period. During the quarter, Microsoft launched a new version of Office with new mobility, social and cloud features. The Server and Tools business reported revenue of $5.04bn, up 11% on the same period a year ago. Microsoft said the increase was driven by double-digit percentage revenue growth in SQL Server and System Center.

The Windows division posted revenues of $5.7bn, a 23% increase from the same period in 2012. During the quarter, Microsoft added to the Surface family of devices with Surface Pro.

The Online Services division reported revenue of $832m, up 18% on the previous year. Online advertising revenue grew 22%, driven by an increase in revenue per search.

The Entertainment and Devices division posted revenue of $2.53bn, an increase of 56% from the first three months of 2012. Microsoft said Xbox LIVE now has over 46 million members worldwide, an 18% increase from the prior year period.

Despite the better-than-expected numbers, Microsoft announced that chief financial officer Peter Klein is to leave the firm at the end of June. The departures of senior figures come amid questions over the leadership of chief executive Steve Ballmer, with concerns about slowing growth and Microsoft’s failure to make a significant impact in the smartphone and tablet PC markets.

Dell filing reveals poor state of PC industry

April 27th, 2013

Dell has revealed the dire state of the PC industry, poor take-up of Windows and the need for the company to invest in research and development (R&D). The company’s chairman, Michael Dell, is battling to win over the hearts and minds of Dell shareholders, in a bid to reprivatise and reinvent the company. US billionaire investor Carl Icahn and private equity group Blackstone are to fight Michael Dell in a bidding war over the computer company he founded.

The company suffered big losses in its most recent quarter due to poor PC sales. Dell reported an 11% decrease in revenues in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with the same period last year. Much of this is due to the poor performance of the PC business.

Gartner noted that in 2010, half of device spending was on traditional desktop and notebook PCs, and 25% on smartphones. In contrast, it predicted that by 2017, half of device spending would be on smartphones, and 20% on traditional desktop and notebook PCs.

Dell filed several reports with the SEC at the end of March, including one, of 274 pages, which outlined why the company needs to move away from the commodity PC business. The report highlighted the long-term challenges facing the company, including a general lengthening of the replacement cycle for PC products, uncertain adoption of the Windows 8 operating system and unexpected slowdowns in enterprise Windows 7 upgrades. The filing also stated that PC sales may also be potentially affected by consumer interest in tablets and smartphones, especially given that Dell does not make a smartphone device.

 

Software suppliers have local authorities over a barrel

March 26th, 2013

Local authorities are faced with a choice of either forking out for costly software licence upgrades or keeping staff, says Geoff Connell, CIO at Newham Borough Council.

“We are only seeing the price point increasing, there is no recognition of the financial climate,” Geoff Connell said. He said the trend was forcing local authorities to go down the Google Apps route or to consider open source. Microsoft tends to be the biggest single IT spend for local authorities.

“The choice is to update Microsoft or retain staff,” said Connell. “Last summer we did an enterprise agreement upgrade with Dynamics and SharePoint – the bits for customer service. We wanted the functionality so moved to the latest version. There was some flexibility with licensing.” But he said the Office 2010 suite would not be upgraded. “We saw no imperative for the latest version, so we took a holiday on that one. But that restricts our flexibility to use licenses from home”.

Microsoft 365 did not stack up financially, in-house or in the datacentre environment, he said.

Last year Microsoft’s private sector customers faced a price hike of up to 25%, with some charities also facing a fourfold cost increase for Microsoft software due to licensing changes.

UK Schools to save £10m in Microsoft licensing costs

January 25th, 2013

Schools across the UK could save an estimated £10m on licensing costs over the next three years, under an agreement between Microsoft and the UK’s Department for Education (DfE).

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreement, which began on 1 January 2013, will give UK schools the opportunity to buy Microsoft academic software at improved discounts and under better licensing terms. Part of the agreement will involve Microsoft factoring freeware into the arrangement. According to the DfE, the MoU will enable schools to use more of their budget on teaching instead of back office administration, although a complete breakdown of how schools will reach the £10m in savings has not yet been revealed.

The negotiations between Microsoft and the DfE, led by Government Procurement Service (GPS), build on an existing arrangement that has operated with the supplier since 2004.

Tesco rolls out Microsoft Office 365

January 13th, 2013

Tesco has signed a deal to roll-out Microsoft Office 365 across its Europe and Asian operations. Mike McNamara, Tesco CIO, said the deal would encourage a culture shift to more flexible working. “We want to put technology in the hands of all our colleagues, whether in the store, distribution centre or office, so they can create value for our customers,” he said.

He added:  “This will allow our colleagues to engage with each other and deliver a great shopping experience on any channel, as well as encouraging colleagues to share, reuse, and reward ideas and expertise.”