Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Janet I. Tu.
December 6, 2013 at 4:45 PM
Microsoft and other organizations have disrupted the Sirefef botnet that had infected more than 2 million computers
The botnet, also known as ZeroAccess, targeted search results on Google, Bing and Yahoo and was used to commit crimes such as search hijacking and click fraud. It cost online advertisers about $2.7 million a month, Microsoft estimated.
Specifically, “ZeroAccess is responsible for hijacking search results and directing people to potentially dangerous websites that could install malware onto their computer, steal their personal information or fraudulently charge businesses for online advertisement clicks,” Richard Domingues Boscovich, assistant general counsel for Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit, wrote in a blog post.
Microsoft worked with Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, the FBI and tech companies including A10 Networks to disrupt the botnet.
Microsoft says it’s working with its ecosystem partners to notify people if their computer is infected. If it is, Microsoft is recommending that people remove the threat by following the instructions here.
Microsoft has also filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Western Texas seeking to have Internet service providers disable access to certain Internet domains and IP addresses associated with the botnet.
December 5, 2013 at 8:11 AM
Well, this might throw a wrench into widespread speculation that Ford CEO Alan Mulally will be named Microsoft CEO shortly.
Edsel Ford II, a Ford company director, told Bloomberg News that “Alan is staying through the end of 2014 and that’s all I know” and that Mulally had “told us that his plan is to stay with Ford through the end of 2014.”
Mulally has never flat-out denied that he was being courted for the top Microsoft job or that he was interested. He has said — and Ford spokesman have reiterated several times — that “nothing has changed” regarding his plans to stay with Ford at least through next year.
It’s still plausible that Mulally could come to Microsoft late next year, given that when current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced his retirement last August, he gave a 12-month window in which to do so.
Microsoft shares are trading this morning at $37.53, down about 3.6 percent.
December 5, 2013 at 7:52 AM
Microsoft takes action to prevent governments using “technological brute force” to get customers’ data
Saying that governments must use the “legal process rather than technological brute force to access customer data,” Microsoft announced it’s taking steps to protect its customers’ data from government snooping.
In doing so, Microsoft characterized the reported actions of some governments as a “persistent threat” akin to sophisticated malware and cyber attacks.
Microsoft’s actions take place following reports that the U.S. National Security Agency was intercepting traffic inside Google’s and Yahoo’s private networks and fears that the NSA may have broken into Microsoft’s global communications links as well, according to a Washington Post report.
December 4, 2013 at 11:48 AM
Two days after the U.S. Department of Justice approved Microsoft’s $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia’s devices and services business, EU regulators did the same.
The European Commission approved the deal, saying in a news release:
The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise any competition concerns, in particular because there are only modest overlaps between the parties’ activities and the links between Microsoft’s mobile operating systems, mobile applications and enterprise mail server software with Nokia’s smart mobile devices are unlikely to lead to competitors being shut out from the market.
Microsoft expects the purchase to be finalized early next year.
December 4, 2013 at 9:05 AM
[This story, by Seattle Times and Los Angeles Times staff, is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times Dec. 4, 2013.]
There was plenty of media buzz this week about Microsoft developing a smart bra that could help prevent users from overeating.
The only problem is: Microsoft is no longer working on it.
The device that got so much attention was detailed in a research paper, “Food and Mood: Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating.”
The protoytpe bra detects when women might want to eat because of stress. It has sensors that monitor heart rate, respiration, skin conductance and movement. The device then sends that data to a synced smartphone app that attempts to stop users from eating by offering suggestions for alternative activities.
The prototype bras were produced as part of research in the relatively new field of affective computing — the development of computing devices that are sensitive to human moods and react accordingly.
The problem with the smart bras was the batteries lasted only four hours. “It was very tedious for participants to wear our prototyped sensing system, as the boards had to be recharged every three to four hours,” said Asta Roseway, senior research designer at Microsoft Research.
Microsoft researchers told Discovery News that they had worked on a version of the device for men — only using underwear instead of a bra. The problem with that was that the monitors were too far away from the heart.
December 3, 2013 at 5:25 PM
When people think of Microsoft Research, they usually think of high-end research in computing, software or the social sciences. They don’t think art.
But for several months now, Microsoft Research (MSR) has had an artist in residence: James George, a computer science graduate from the University of Washington who became part of the adjunct faculty at New York University’s interactive telecommunications program.
George, who says on his website that he’s “an artist using code to critically engage with emerging technology,” seems a good fit for Studio 99, a space within the MSR Redmond lab that explores the interaction between art and science. Studio 99 takes artistic contributions from any MSR researcher and also sometimes hosts work by external artists.
George’s work, including Grip (seen at right) will be on display for the next several months, though the exhibition — and Studio 99 — is only open to Microsoft employees, not the general public.
More information on George’s works and on Studio 99 is in this blog post.
And here’s a video from Microsoft on George’s exhibition:
December 3, 2013 at 4:35 PM
It’s sold out.
But Microsoft won’t say how many Xbox One consoles it’s actually sold so far.
Microsoft did say that it had sold more than a million of the consoles less than 24 hours of its launch on Nov. 22. But it hasn’t released an updated sales figure since then.
December 3, 2013 at 1:18 PM
Today is #GivingTuesday — a day dedicated to giving back.
As part of that, Microsoft Stores are giving people who purchase anything in the store a $25 donation gift card for the purchaser to give to any of the organizations on the GlobalGiving.org/YouthSpark/Heroes list.
Earlier today, Microsoft’s YouthSpark initiative had offered to match any donations given those organizations on the list. The matching funds quickly ran out, helping raise raise a total of more than $633,000 as of mid-day today ($388,000 donated plus $250,000 in Microsoft’s matching funds.)
YouthSpark is Microsoft’s global initiative to combat the opportunity gap for young people. It’s working with hundreds of nonprofits worldwide to create opportunities such as education, employment and entrepreneurship for youths.
Giving Tuesday, a campaign that aims to make the Tuesday after Thanksgiving a national day of giving, was started at New York City’s 92nd Street Y. The United Nations Foundation, as well as a number of corporations and nonprofits, have since joined as partners.
December 3, 2013 at 12:58 PM
[This post has been updated with information on Microsoft's/NORAD's and Google's Santa Trackers.]
NORAD is again partnering with Microsoft this year to power its popular Santa Tracker, after first switching from Google to Microsoft last year to do so.
The NORAD Santa Tracker, which is now live, is a showcase this year for Internet Explorer.
December 2, 2013 at 10:43 AM
The U.S. Department of Justice has approved, without conditions, Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s handset business, according to Microsoft.
Regulators in India, Russia, Israel and Turkey have already approved the acquisition.
Still pending is approval from other regulatory bodies, including the European Union. EU regulators look ready to issue an approval by Wednesday, according to an earlier Reuters report.
Microsoft issued a statement, saying: “We look forward to the date when our partners at Nokia will become members of the Microsoft family, and are pleased that the Department of Justice has cleared the deal unconditionally.”
The two companies announced in September that Microsoft was buying Nokia’s handset business as part of a $7.2 billion deal. Microsoft is paying about $5 billion (EUR 3.79 billion) for Nokia’s Devices & Services Business. In addition, it is paying about $2.18 billion (EUR 1.65 billion) to license Nokia’s patents and to license and use Nokia’s mapping services.
Microsoft expects the deal to be finalized in early 2014.