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Exploring the Future of Computing



Last Build Date: Mon, 26 Sep 2016 21:16:09 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2001-2016, David Adams
 



PowerShell is open sourced and is available on Linux

Thu, 18 Aug 2016 22:21:20 GMT

I am extremely excited to share that PowerShell is open sourced and available on Linux. (For those of you who need a refresher, PowerShell is a task-based command-line shell and scripting language built on the .NET Framework to help IT professionals control and automate the administration of the Windows, and now Linux, operating systems and the applications that run on them.) I’m going to share a bit more about our journey getting here, and will tell you how Microsoft Operations Management Suite can enhance the PowerShell experience.



Time for a pen-first Microsoft OS (and it should be open source)

Mon, 15 Aug 2016 20:42:39 GMT

On the eve of launch of the latest generation of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 we are reminded once again of Microsoft's failed Courier project, which was one of the first to propose a pen-first operating system.



Secure Boot snafu: Microsoft leaks backdoor key

Thu, 11 Aug 2016 22:35:04 GMT

Microsoft has inadvertently demonstrated the intrinsic security problem of including a universal backdoor in its software after it accidentally leaked its so-called "golden key" - which allows users to unlock any device that's supposedly protected by Secure Boot, such as phones and tablets. The key basically allows anyone to bypass the provisions Microsoft has put in place ostensibly to prevent malicious versions of Windows from being installed, on any device running Windows 8.1 and upwards with Secure Boot enabled. I am out of snarky remarks. Yes, it's possible.



Why Microsoft is betting its future on AI

Thu, 07 Jul 2016 19:51:12 GMT

Microsoft is proud of its work on AI, and eager to convey the sense that this time around, it's poised to win. In June, it invited me to its campus to interview some of Nadella's top lieutenants, who are building AI into every corner of the company's business. Over the next two days, Microsoft showed me a wide range of applications for its advancements in natural language processing and machine learning. The company, as ever, talks a big game. Microsoft's historical instincts about where technology is going have been spot-on. But the company has a record of dropping the ball when it comes to acting on that instinct. It saw the promise in smartphones and tablets, for example, long before its peers. But Apple and Google beat Microsoft anyway. The question looming over the company's efforts around AI is simple: Why should it it be different this time? I know we're just at the very beginning of this whole thing, but so far, I'm not particularly impressed with the fruits of all this AI work for us as end users. Things like Cortana and Siri generally just offer more cumbersome ways of doing something achieved quicker with other methods, and they demonstrate little to no "intelligence". Knowing I have a translation deadline at 15:00 and reminding me of it is not really intelligence; it's just a talkative alarm with an annoying attitude. Much like VR, this just needs way, way more technological progress and breakthroughs to really be what its name implies.



Microsoft to acquire LinkedIn

Tue, 14 Jun 2016 13:30:43 GMT

Microsoft Corp. and LinkedIn Corporation on Monday announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $26.2 billion, inclusive of LinkedIn's net cash. LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence. Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn, reporting to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Reid Hoffman, chairman of the board, co-founder and controlling shareholder of LinkedIn, and Weiner both fully support this transaction. The transaction is expected to close this calendar year. This deal is so incredibly boring I can't even be bothered to finish this sen



Microsoft stop spamming Android users with notification tray ads

Tue, 31 May 2016 21:14:03 GMT

Remember the story about Microsoft spamming the Android notification tray with ads for applications I had already installed? BetaNews talked to Microsoft about this, the company first said this: Our team is actively investigating the occurrences of these notifications. However, after BetaNews pressed on, Microsoft changed its tune and said this a few days later: Microsoft is deeply committed to ensuring that we maintain the best possible experience for our customers in addition to complying with all applicable policies. We have taken the action to turn off these notifications. This update will be reflected in the coming days. Well, I guess I indirectly actually did something useful.



Microsoft layoffs signal definitive end of Nokia adventure

Wed, 25 May 2016 22:11:06 GMT

Microsoft is signalling the end of its Nokia experiment today. After acquiring Nokia's phone business for $7.2 billion two years ago, Microsoft wrote off $7.6 billion last year and cut 7,800 jobs to refocus its phone efforts. Microsoft is now writing off an additional $950 million today as part of its failed Nokia acquisition, and the company plans to cut a further 1,850 jobs. Most of the layoffs will affect employees at Microsoft's Mobile division in Finland, with 1,350 job losses there and 500 globally. Around $200 million of the $950 million impairment charge is being used for severance payments. Everything about this entire deal needs to be investigated for all kinds of shady practices. My gut is telling me there's a bunch of people that perhaps ought to be in jail on this one. Meanwhile, this is absolutely terrible for all the people involved. I've got the feeling thousands of people's jobs have been used as a ball in a very expensive executive game. Luckily, the remnants of Nokia in Finland seem to be doing well, so that's at least something, and in case you've got a hunkering for the good old days: there's a video out of Nokia Meltemi on a device called the Clipr - a very rare look at a Linux-based mobile operating system Nokia was developing around 2012.



Microsoft spams Android notification tray with Office ads

Tue, 24 May 2016 22:52:19 GMT

Update: it happened again today. Here's the ad, and here's the "proof" it's coming from Word (when you long-press the notification and tap 'i'). It's been a bit of a running theme lately: advertising in (mobile) operating systems. Today, I was surprised by what I consider a new low, involving incompetence on both Microsoft's and Google's end. This new low has been eating away at me all day. Let's give a bit of background first. On my smartphone, a Nexus 6P, I have Word, Excel, and PowerPoint installed. I have these installed for my work - I run my translation company, and when new work comes in through e-mail when I'm out and about, I like being able to quickly look at a document before accepting it. Microsoft Office for Android fulfills this role for me. This means I don't actually use them very often - maybe a few times a week. Imagine my surprise, then, when this happened. Yes, I'm linking to the full screenshot in its full, glorious, Nexus 6P 1440x2560 brilliance. I have a few questions. First, why is Microsoft sending me an advertisement in my notification tray? Second, why is Word sending me an advertisement for Excel? Third, why is this allowed by Google, even though the Play Store rules prohibit it? Fourth A, why is Microsoft sending me advertisements for products I already have installed? Fourth B, why is Microsoft sending me advertisements for products I already use? Fourth C, why is Microsoft sending me advertisements for products I already pay for because I have an Office 365 subscription? Fifth, who in their right mind at Microsoft thought this was not a 100%, utterly, completely, deeply, ridiculously, unequivocally, endlessly, exquisitely invasive, stupid, aggravating, off-putting, infuriating, and pointless thing to do? I know both Android and iOS suffer from scummy applications abusing the notification tray for advertising, and I know both Google and Apple have rules that prohibit this that they do not enforce, but I didn't think I'd run into it because... Well, I use only proper, honest applications, right? I don't use the scummy ones? I pay for my applications? Right? I think it's time to start enforcing these rules. Oh, and Microsoft? I haven't forgotten about BeOS. It's not like you have a lot of goodwill to mess around with here.



Microsoft announces SQL Server on Linux

Mon, 07 Mar 2016 23:52:58 GMT

Today I'm excited to announce our plans to bring SQL Server to Linux as well. This will enable SQL Server to deliver a consistent data platform across Windows Server and Linux, as well as on-premises and cloud. We are bringing the core relational database capabilities to preview today, and are targeting availability in mid-2017. So this is happening. I feel a little cold all of a sudden.



Announcing Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition

Mon, 29 Feb 2016 21:40:37 GMT

HoloLens is fully untethered and self-contained. It's the only device that enables holographic computing natively with no markers, no external cameras, no wires, no phone required, and no connection to a PC needed. And it's a Windows 10 device - the interface is familiar, and connected by the power of a unified ecosystem of Windows devices. The device consists of multiple environment understanding sensors and it's powered by a custom-built Microsoft Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) and an Intel 32-bit architecture. The HPU is custom silicon that allows HoloLens to understand gestures and gaze while mapping the world all around you, all in real time. Microsoft today announced that the Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition will start shipping on 30 March, at $3000 a piece. They also offer a look at the hardware powering HoloLens.



Microsoft acquires Xamarin

Thu, 25 Feb 2016 00:13:03 GMT

As part of this commitment I am pleased to announce today that Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire Xamarin, a leading platform provider for mobile app development. In conjunction with Visual Studio, Xamarin provides a rich mobile development offering that enables developers to build mobile apps using C# and deliver fully native mobile app experiences to all major devices - including iOS, Android, and Windows. Xamarin's approach enables developers to take advantage of the productivity and power of .NET to build mobile apps, and to use C# to write to the full set of native APIs and mobile capabilities provided by each device platform. This enables developers to easily share common app code across their iOS, Android and Windows apps while still delivering fully native experiences for each of the platforms. Xamarin's unique solution has fueled amazing growth for more than four years.



Microsoft acquires SwiftKey

Wed, 03 Feb 2016 23:38:58 GMT

I'm pleased to announce that Microsoft has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire SwiftKey, whose highly rated, highly engaging software keyboard and SDK powers more than 300 million Android and iOS devices. In this cloud-first, mobile-first world, SwiftKey's technology aligns with our vision for more personal computing experiences that anticipate our needs versus responding to our commands, and directly supports our ambition to reinvent productivity by leveraging the intelligent cloud. SwiftKey estimates that its users have saved nearly 10 trillion keystrokes, across 100 languages, saving more than 100,000 years in combined typing time. Those are impressive results for an app that launched initially on Android in 2010 and arrived on iOS less than two years ago. The 'saved nearly 10 trillion keystrokes' thing sent shivers down my spine.



Microsoft is bringing the Windows Phone keyboard to iOS

Sun, 17 Jan 2016 13:27:49 GMT

In an email to some Windows Insider testers, obtained by The Verge, Microsoft is looking for iPhone users to trial the Word Flow keyboard. It's not clear when Word Flow will be released publicly on iOS, but Microsoft is already ready to test it more broadly so it will likely arrive in the coming months. Microsoft's Windows Phone version of Word Flow includes autocorrect, suggestions, gestures, and the ability to swipe letters (like Swype) to type out words. I'm actually excited about this. I can't stand the iOS keyboard, but I consider the Windows Phone keyboard to be the best one around.



The year that Microsoft started getting the benefit of the doubt

Tue, 29 Dec 2015 00:45:20 GMT

In both cases, what is unusual for Microsoft is the positivity the gizmos have generated. Fair or not (and I'd argue probably not), Microsoft isn't expected to blaze new trails and develop hot new products that have the potential to create new markets or shake up existing ones. We know Microsoft's history - too early with tablets, too early with smartphones, too early with wearables - and this generates a degree of skepticism around what it does. But with HoloLens and Surface Book, much of that cynicism seems to have evaporated. Desktop operating systems (Windows, Linux, OS X - all of them) are in a pretty piss-poor state right now for various different reasons, and in the case of Windows, I find this truly sad because Microsoft seems to be doing some really cool stuff in the laptop and tablet front. Sadly, the software just isn't up to par. Much like the Apple, we can hope 2016 brings some major improvements, but considering Microsoft's endless promises and failures to deliver, I'm not holding my breath.



'Microsoft's software is Malware'

Tue, 24 Nov 2015 17:57:22 GMT

Malware means software designed to function in ways that mistreat or harm the user. (This does not include accidental errors.) This page explains how Microsoft software is malware. Malware and nonfree software are two different issues. The difference between free software and nonfree software is in whether the users have control of the program or vice versa. It's not directly a question of what the program does when it runs. However, in practice nonfree software is often malware, because the developer's awareness that the users would be powerless to fix any malicious functionalities tempts the developer to impose some. Discuss.