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Topic: Microsoft

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October 10, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Microsoft CEO Nadella’s ‘wrong’ comments about women expose important truths

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s misguided advice to women might be “wrong,” but his comments were right on about the challenges women face in the workplace. Reactions to Nadella’s suggestion that women should trust the “system” and allow karma to usher in a better raise quickly dismissed him as completely off-base.  Nadella himself apologized and…

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Comments | Topics: Microsoft, Satya Nadell, women

October 17, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Schools must better balance technology and privacy rights

Paul Tong/Op Art

Paul Tong/Op Art

Technology is as omnipresent in public education as pencils and paper. We’ve seen the growth in tools like interactive white boards, document cameras and those egg-shaped devices that help students respond in classrooms. But another side of the technology debate revolves around  storage of the copious amounts of data collected by schools, school districts and state education departments. So much data is floating around that districts around the country have turned to private companies to store information in the cloud. The companies protect files with high-level encryption, but still privacy rights advocates are mounting challenges to districts that rely on third parties for data storage outside of schools, reports The New York Times. Privacy advocates’ paranoia is not totally unwarranted. 

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Comments | Topics: children, Education, Google

July 16, 2013 at 7:49 AM

Microsoft reportedly gave NSA a backdoor to Hotmail, Outlook.com, SkyDrive

While we were all distracted by the upheaval of Microsoft’s Red Wedding reorg, I missed this report from the Guardian: Microsoft gave the NSA back-door access to its email service Outlook.com before it even launched last year.

Citing new documents Edward Snowden provided to the Guardian, the report said that Microsoft gave the NSA access to chats on Outlook.com, pre-encrypted emails from Outlook.com and Hotmail, SkyDrive and Skype video calls.

Information from SkyDrive and Skype went to Prism, and that data was shared with FBI and the CIA, and one NSA document the Guardian saw described it as a “team sport.”

I have asked Microsoft whether it has a comment on this report and will update this post when I hear back. (And check out this Associated Press interactive graphic on the global chase for Snowden, aka the Bourne Privacy.)

[do action=”custom_iframe” url=”http://hosted.ap.org/interactives/2013/nsa-phone-surveillance/?SITE=wasee” width=”630″ height=”500″ scrolling=””/]

If true, the Guardian report contradicts Microsoft’s early protestations that it only responded to specific requests for information. Here is the statement Microsoft gave to our business news reporter Janet Tu on June 6, which she quoted in a Microsoft Pri0 blog post:

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Comments | Topics: Microsoft, nsa, privacy

July 11, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Microsoft reorganization, aka its Game of Thrones-style Red Wedding

Game of Thrones (Photo: HBO)

Game of Thrones (Photo: HBO)

A lot happened at Microsoft this morning. Divisions were dissolved, new ones formed, executives were demoted, promoted and excommunicated. It had all the elements of the “Game of Thrones” TV show on HBO, and Thursday morning was its Red Wedding episode where several major characters were killed in graphic, bloody ways at the end of a wedding banquet. (The actual episode’s name was “The Rains of Castamere.” It’s incredibly violent, but you can watch the final scene on Youtube.)

The fiefdoms we were familiar with — the North, the Wall, the Iron Islands — are gone. Lines have been redrawn all over the map.

One thing is clear. Chief Executive Steve Ballmer remains King of Westeros. He proclaimed this era “One Microsoft” in a memo to employees. (The new tagline actually sounds more “Lord of the Rings” than “Game of Thrones,” but I digress.)

The silos of Windows, Office, Xbox, Bing/MSN and Server software no longer exist. The new territories are called Operating Systems Engineering, Devices and Studios Engineering, Applications and Services Engineering and Cloud and Enterprise Engineering. Engineers are the Lannisters of the new Microsoft.

This change-up is long overdue. Microsoft reorganizes itself every couple years, and it had been some time sine the last major one in 2005. What Microsoft had was not working, either in maintaining ground with Windows 8 or in conquering new territories with the Surface and Windows Phone. This one is actually reminiscent of a Bill Gates period when the company was divided into technology focused groups with names such as platforms and applications and interactive media.

Like the aftermath of the wedding episode, where Robb Stark, his wife Talisa, his mother Catelyn and many of his banner men were slaughtered, things are kind of messy right now. Servants are mopping up blood in the dining hall. From the outside, it just looks like a lot of people will report to Ballmer, but it’s unclear where each product, like Windows or Office, will land.

The title “division president” no longer exists. Some were demoted to executive vice presidents. As a result, the playing field was leveled for two women executives, Julie Larson-Green and Tami Reller. Microsoft’s head of human resources, Lisa Brummel, and the chief financial officer, Amy Hood, were already women. It’s progress for gender equality in Microsoft’s top leadership ranks because the men above them took a step backward, but I’ll take it.

There’s a lot to decipher in the long employee memo. In fact, the memo doesn’t feel at all simple and singular like the phrase “One Microsoft.” The main takeaway:

Going forward, our strategy will focus on creating a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.

The rest of this post is going to get incredibly geeky, so if you don’t watch “Game of Thrones,” please move on. Also, this video below is also violent, so only press play if you are prepared to see some spearing and dragon breathing:

Julie Larson-Green = Daenarys Targaryen. The former Windows vice president has a high-profile task to lead the Devices and Studios engineering Group. Building devices has not been a strong suit for Microsoft, outside of the Xbox, so she’ll be watched carefully.

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Comments | Topics: Microsoft, tv, women

May 7, 2013 at 7:03 AM

H-1B visas good for skilled foreign workers, not so good for the accompanying spouses

Ananya Rabeya, is an H-4 dependent spouse who cannot legally work in the U.S. She volunteers as a tutor at Yesler Terrace. (Photo: Marcus Yam/The Seattle Times)

Ananya Rabeya, is an H-4 dependent spouse who cannot legally work in the U.S. She volunteers as a tutor at Yesler Terrace.
(Photo: Marcus Yam/The Seattle Times)

Recent Seattle Times stories about the H-1B visa program offered a lot of food for thought on immigration reform. The first story explored whether technology companies and other leading industries use this area of the immigration law to favor skilled foreign workers over equally skilled American workers. Some labor economists argue that American companies take the easy way out by hiring from abroad rather than choosing unemployed American workers with similar skills. Other labor economists, joined by Microsoft, Facebook and other technology companies, argue that thousands of jobs would go unfilled if not for the visa program.

The second story shined a spotlight on the lives of spouses of H-1B visa holders. They hold the immigration status of H-4 visa spouse. They are often educated and experienced in their field but they are not legally authorized to work. They do not have a Social Security number. Some are able to seek H-1B visas on their own – a time-consuming and expensive process for employers – or the spouses may take classes and hold out hope for one day returning to the workforce either here or in their native country.

These spouses, largely women, are not sitting idly at home.

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Comments | Topics: congress, Facebook, Google