(CBS) - According to Reuters, security researcher Rosario Valotta discovered hackers can steal victims' online credentials by taking the session cookies from sites the victim is visiting. She calls this "cookiejacking," and all versions of Internet Explorer on Windows operating systems are vulnerable.Continue »
(CBS) - What Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is forecasting sounds like music to our ears! Computers to do all the work for us? Now that's like having the perfect boyfriend... or a personal assistant.
PC & Tech Authority reported, Ballmer believes computers will one day be able to understand what we want but "take action on our behalf." For instance, the breakthrough technology can get you ready for a trip. But how?Continue »
He may be devoting most of his time to his myriad charitable endeavors but don't think for a minute that Bill Gates has stepped back from tending to the company he co-founded. In an interview that will air on the BBC, Gates, still Microsoft's chairman as well as a company board member, says that he pushed for a takeover of Skype.
"I was a strong proponent at the board level for the deal being done," Gates told the BBC's Hardtalk program.
"I think it's a great, great deal for Skype," he added. "I think it's a great deal for Microsoft."
Last week, Microsoft announced that it would pay $8.5 million to buy Skype, the most it ever ever spent on an acquisition. In the interview, which will be broadcast on Wednesday, Gates suggested that future Microsoft technologies would complement Skype, which despite its 663 million users, has been hard-pressed to generate profit. (Skype lost an estimated $7 million last year.)
"The idea of video conferencing is going to get so much better than it is today. Skype actually does get a fair bit of revenue," he says in the interview. "It'll be fascinating to see how the brilliant ideas out of Microsoft research, coming together with Skype, what they can make of that."
Microsoft bought Skype in a deal worth about $8.5 billion and the transaction illustrates how unified communications has finally arrived.
Here's what you'll hear from Microsoft and Skype execs:
Skype will be a big assist to Windows Live and other efforts;
Skype's efforts to target the enterprise fit in with Microsoft's strategy;
Microsoft won't screw up Skype.
All of those points are true, but the reality is that Microsoft is paying up for Skype because it's an $8.5 billion game of keepaway. And you know what? The deal--and its price tag--makes sense.Continue »
We'll have to wait for the answers until April 17 when it goes on sale but a new book written by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen portrays -presumably now ex-buddy - Bill Gates as a not-so-nice guy who sought to chisel his rightful share of the company.
Internet Explorer 9 is surprisingly competitive across the board. Zippy browsing speeds, minimalist layout, and innovative features make this not only the best version of IE to date, but catapult Internet Explorer back into the browser wars. The one big drawback? You must have Windows 7 or Vista to use it. XP users are stuck on IE8. Forever.
This story originally appeared on CNET.com.
Microsoft and Nokia announced a broad mobile phone partnership today that joins two powerful but lagging companies into mutually reliant allies in the mobile phone market.
As expected, Nokia plans to use Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system as part of a plan to recover from competitive failings detailed in Nokia Chief Executive Stephen Elop's "burning platform" memo.
But it's deeper than just an agreement to install the OS on Nokia's phones. Instead, the companies call it an attempt to build a "third ecosystem," acknowledging that competing with Apple's iOS and Google's Android involves a partnership that must encompass phones, developers, mobile services, partnerships with carriers, and app stores to distribute software.
"There are other mobile ecosystems. We will disrupt them. There will be challenges. We will overcome them. Success requires speed. We will be swift," Elop and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a boldly worded open letter. "Together, we see the opportunity, and we have the will, the resources and the drive to succeed."
The companies will cooperate tightly under an agreement the companies just describe so far as proposed, not final. Under the deal, Windows Phone 7 would become Nokia's "principal" operating system, and Nokia would help Microsoft develop it and ensure a broad range of phones using it are available globally.
Nokia will use many Microsoft online services, many of which trail Google rivals, such as Bing for search and maps and AdCenter for advertisements.
When it comes to the sales part of the ecosystem, each company brings something to the deal. Microsoft phones will be able to link up with Nokia's agreements for carrier billing--a popular option in parts of the world where credit cards are less common. And Nokia will fold its own app store into the Microsoft Marketplace.
Elop the optimist
In a press conference today, Elop and Ballmer touted the alliance as good for both companies' aspirations.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, but an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty," Elop said, quoting England's historic prime minister Winston Churchill as he spoke in London. "I am an optimist."
It's not immediately clear what needs to be done to make the deal final; details "specific details of the deal are being worked out," the companies said.
Nokia, once the dominant power of the mobile phone industry, has ceded the smartphone initiative to Apple's iPhone and Google's Android, and Elop believes Nokia's own Symbian and MeeGo operating systems aren't competitive. Microsoft has tried for years to penetrate the mobile phone market, and although it now has a credible option with Windows Phone 7, it trails Android when it comes to developer interest and the breadth of phones available.
The two companies can expect their combined might will be more convincing for software authors debating whether they need to bring their apps to yet another ecosystem. But it's not yet clear how the alliance will extend to another hot new market, tablets, where Microsoft prefers Windows instead of the Windows Phone operating system. In contrast, iOS and Android developers enjoy the same mobile operating system on phones and tablets.
An end for Symbian, MeeGo
The partnership means a gradual end for both Symbian and MeeGo, Nokia's mainstream and next-generation smartphone operating systems, respectively. Symbian will be gradually phased out in favor of Windows Phone, though Nokia expects to ship 150 million more Symbian phones in the meantime.
And although Nokia will ship a single MeeGo-based smartphone later this year, Elop consigned it to near-oblivion by calling it merely "an opportunity to learn." MeeGo engineers will "change focus into exploration" of future devices and user services.
Nokia seriously considered using Google's Android operating system, but feared it would ultimately be a boon for Google and a bane for Nokia, Elop said.
"We would have difficulties differentiating within that ecosystem," Elop said. Joining the Android world would make it even bigger, "with prices, profits, and everything being pushed down, and value moving to Google."
Along with Nokia's new operating system strategy come major internal changes. Leadership in the United States, a large market now awakened to smartphones but where Nokia trails particularly badly, is being replaced. Bureaucracy will be cut. Research and development costs will be cut but R&D will become more productive. And there will be substantial layoffs, in Finland and elsewhere, Elop said, though the company will not move headquarters anywhere else.
"Already evolving rapidly at Nokia is a change in attitude and behavior" that shows "the fighting spirit of Nokia worldwide and the fighting spirit of the Finnish people," Elop said. In communicating with employees about the change, including an company-wide message earlier this morning, he added, "We've been vocal and transparent about the challenge. I think it's having a positive effect."
Nokia will pay Microsoft royalties for use of its operating system, but apparently money will likely flow the other way, too, Ballmer and Elop said.
"We have different forms of value transfer in different directions," Elop said. "We have new opportunities that come from advertising and new forms of monetization."
"We the ability to activate users and put them in a position to be more effective in what we call local commerce," added Ballmer. "Nokia has not just got mapping but other assets that we will import, if you will. There are a set of financial considerations for that as well."
Elop and Ballmer detailed their proposal immediately before the vast Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, where a large number of new Android phones and tablets can be expected.
It's uncertain what effect the alliance will have. Microsoft has had strong operating system partnerships with multiple competing PC makers, but the Nokia alliance, with mutually developed products and shared road maps, appears much deeper than the average relationship Microsoft has with hardware makers. That could encourage those who've made strong Android commitments--HTC, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, LG Electronics, Samsung, and more--to double down. After all, they're all enjoying a period of relative freedom with Nokia in its present relatively uncompetitive state, and strongly pushing Windows Phone products arguably would be abetting the enemy.
Although the alliance is nonexclusive, Nokia clearly is becoming the premier Windows Phone partner. "There are things we are planning to do with Nokia that are unique," Ballmer said.
The announcement was accompanied by a YouTube video featuring Microsoft and Nokia's chief executives praising the deal.
"Today, Nokia and Microsoft intend to enter into a strategic alliance," Elop said in the video, a precursor of a turnaround plan he's set to detail later today at an analyst conference in London. "Together, we will bring consumers a new mobile experience, with stellar hardware, innovative software, and great services. We will create opportunities beyond anything that currently exists."
Ballmer said the partnership "brings the brands mobile consumers want, like Bing, Office, and of course Xbox Live."
It's not the sort of word that easily trips off the tongue. In fact, it's not a word at all - but to Google, it was key to a sting operation it carried out to back up its claim that Microsoft had been surreptitiously copying search results.
Google said its initial suspicions were raised last summer when its engineers reviewed search returns for a misspelling of a surgical procedure on eyelids called tarsorrhaphy. Google's Amit Singhal, who has apparently been charged with leading the public relations prosecution of Microsoft, has a piece up this morning where he recounts the blow-by-blow:
Anyone watching Google and Microsoft spar over search results has to be torn between being shocked and amused. Google accuses Microsoft of stealing its search results for Bing. Microsoft says it doesn't steal Google results. A lot of discussion ensues--some of it hysterical. My bottom line: Bing matters.
There's no way Google would give a rat's ass how its public results were being used if it wasn't worried about Bing. Now the Google vs. Microsoft spat is very public, slightly entertaining and makes for great headlines. My biggest issue with this whole battle is that it's a bit fuzzy where the inspiration started and where the theft began. But Google's accusations and Microsoft's denials and explanations are certainly notable. After all, this is the tech industry, a place where everyone builds on the ideas of someone else (you could say copies).
- Google's business model came from Overture.
- Google's Android army is arguably a rip off and attempted enhancement of Apple's iPhone.
- Of course, Oracle would say Android is a Java rip-off.
- Microsoft's Windows franchise was born as an answer (imitation) to Apple's Mac to some. The reality is both Microsoft and Apple ripped off Xerox's PARC. OK, "ripped off" is too strong. Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs went to PARC and got inspired to copy a UI.
- Google has a bevy of social experiments that look like Facebook and Twitter envy to me.
- Isn't Google Docs inspired by well, Office?
- Microsoft's Xbox is the result of Sony PlayStation envy.
- Zune is an iPod wannabe.
- Microsoft's Office got its start by emulating the likes of WordPerfect and Lotus Notes and then squashing them.
- Internet Explorer was an answer to Netscape's Navigator.
I could go on for at least another 10 bullet points. Funny how that works eh? But that's the tech industry. Of course, Bing is going to emulate Google results. Google is the big dog. Your results have to be at least as good as Google's.
Now Google's case is notable. Bing has matched misspelled terms. Is this theater from Google or scientific evidence? Who knows? We're in the middle of a Google said, Microsoft said pissing match. And honestly, I don't have much of an informed opinion to say who's right. My guess is that this is a country of Microsoft, Google and Apple states--and little to no agreement. Your take will follow your bias and preference for each vendor.
I do know the following (as judged by the actions of both Google and Microsoft):
- First, both Google and Microsoft will protect their respective turf. We have two juggernauts that arguably are more comfortable playing defense and protecting cash cows.
- Second, it's a bit fuzzy what this "protect this house" approach means for innovation if anything.
And finally. Microsoft's Bing matters. Bing launches a new interface. Google mimics the approach with its results--at least until everyone screams Bing envy It took a while, but Bing has gotten under Google's skin--at least enough to warrant a roundhouse punch.
For every George Seifert there's a Sammy Hagar: making the change from an iconic leader to even a well-groomed successor can be very tricky.
The tech industry doesn't have a whole lot in common with the San Francisco 49ers or Van Halen, both of which were forced to integrate new leaders into their organizations following the departure of dynamic leaders (Bill Walsh and David Lee Roth) who put their respective groups on the map. But the tech industry is relatively young and hasn't often been forced to confront the tricky question of how to replace an iconic founder.
Obviously, the topic has surfaced again with
Jobs, a pancreatic cancer survivor, tells employees he plans to keep a hand in strategic decision-making. COO Tim Cook will handle day-to-day operations. As Tim Cook once again steps up during an absence by Steve Jobs, it's clear that--in the short term, at least--Apple investors have confidence in him. But that doesn't settle the long-term worries.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs to take medical leave again
With medical leave, more questions about Jobs' successor
Jobs, a pancreatic cancer survivor, tells employees he plans to keep a hand in strategic decision-making. COO Tim Cook will handle day-to-day operations.
As Tim Cook once again steps up during an absence by Steve Jobs, it's clear that--in the short term, at least--Apple investors have confidence in him. But that doesn't settle the long-term worries.
But it seemed worthwhile to look at how other tech companies have navigated such transitions, as history usually has a few lessons to pass along.
With CES fast-approaching, the rumor mill is at full bore, and one of the latest items to come out of it is that Microsoft will be rolling out a "stripped-down version of Windows" that will run on set-top boxes and upcoming TV sets.
The report comes courtesy of The Seattle Times, which says the boxes will cost somewhere in the ballpark of $200, will run the Windows Media Center interface, and will be on the market sometime this year.
At CES next month, Microsoft will reportedly unveil a full-featured version of Windows that runs on ARM processors--a big departure from the x86 architecture.
Bloomberg, which broke the news this afternoon, reported that sources familiar with Microsoft's plans said this version of Windows will continue to work on x86 processors, but that it should improve battery performance on devices like tablets and other devices that use ARM processors.
Additional confirmation of Microsoft's plans came from The Wall Street Journal, which added that this new version will not be available for another two years. CNET heard similar reports from a source who added that Microsoft plans to detail this version of Windows at an invite-only press event several hours ahead of its CES keynote.
Microsoft declined to comment.Continue »
While the dollar figure and partnership details of
The two companies confirm their partnership, with Microsoft taking a $240 million stake in Facebook as well as gaining the right to sell ads for Facebook internationally.
Microsoft and Facebook: The $240 million poke
The two companies confirm their partnership, with Microsoft taking a $240 million stake in Facebook as well as gaining the right to sell ads for Facebook internationally.
That much was confirmed this morning at the Le Web conference in Paris by Fritz Lanman, Microsoft's senior director or corporate strategy and acquisitions, TechCrunch reports. Speaking to Le Web conference organizer Loic Le Meur as part of a panel on "how to get acquired," Lanman shared details on how the deal had gotten away from Microsoft--from the point of Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer trying to buy Facebook outright for $15 billion, to what ended up being the landmark $240 million investment.Continue »
Microsoft wants to make its voice platform a little more decisive.
Over the years, Microsoft's speech technology has gotten increasingly more capable of figuring out what people are saying, as well as letting them do voice-powered searches and commands on devices besides the phone. But what's been missing is the second part of the equation, which is a deeper understanding of their meaning and the context behind them.
To that end, Microsoft is in the process of building what it's calling "conversational understanding" (CU), which mixes speech, a dictionary, grammatical structures, and machine learning to better figure out what users are saying so that the system can spit out an answer that takes into account all those things.Continue »