Archive for December, 2012:

Microsoft unveils future retail store plans

Will open six permanent stores in early 2013, including four transformed from temporary holiday ‘pop-ups’

Microsoft on Wednesday revealed six locations for new retail stores it will open in early 2013, including four transformed from its holiday specialty stores, dubbed “pop-ups,” that it established in October.

The move will expand the company’s ability to sell its own hardware, notably the Surface RT tablet launched two months ago, and the upcoming Surface Pro.

Geekwire first reported the new outlets. Microsoft also blogged about the 2013 store locations.

According to Microsoft, the new brick-and-mortar sites will be in Beachwood, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio (at Beachwood Place); Miami (Dadeland Mall); St. Louis (St. Louis Galleria); Salt Lake City (City Creek Center); San Antonio (The Shops at La Cantera); and San Francisco (Westfield San Francisco Centre).

Four of the six — those in Beachwood, Miami, St. Louis and San Francisco — will be former pop-ups turned into permanent locales.

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced it was extending the lifespan of most of its 34 holiday pop-ups into 2013 — originally, they were to exist only during the October-Decemeber 2012 sales season — and turn an unspecified number into 12-month stores.

Microsoft has declined to say how long the pop-ups will remain open, but the logical move would be to keep them running well into 2013: The company plans to start selling the Surface Pro, a more expensive tablet that runs Windows 8 Pro, in late January.

The Surface Pro will sell for $899 and $999 in 64GB and 128GB configurations, with the Touch Cover and Type Cover keyboards selling separately for $120 and $130.

Some of the to-be-established stores have been long in the works. The Salt Lake Tribune, for example, reported last July that Microsoft had filed a building permit with the city for a store in the downtown City Creek Center.

That outdoor mall also boasts an Apple retail store. Microsoft’s strategy has been to place its retail stores in the same malls or shopping centers as existing Apple stores, sometimes in very close proximity. Although Salt Lake’s City Creek Center noted that the Microsoft store was in the works, it did not locate the store on its mall map.

The San Francisco store, one of the mutated pop-ups, will be Microsoft’s first in the city. The current closest outlet is in Marin County. Microsoft’s San Francisco store will be about a block from one of the city’s three Apple stores.

With the addition of the six new stores, Microsoft will soon have 37 permanent storefronts in the U.S. and Canada. However, its total of 67, including the remaining pop-ups, is only 17% of Apple’s 390 stores worldwide as of last September.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft also expanded its retail footprint to a pair of U.S. chains, Staples and Best Buy, to sell its Surface tablets, and announced it would add retail partners in several other countries in the near future.


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Windows RT users happy with the device, so far

Despite an unending stream of FUD being hurled at the Surface tablet, people who have bought it seem pretty enamored with their purchase, according to reviews piling up on BestBuy.com and Staples.

Microsoft launched the Surface tablet in its retail stores, all 65 of them, before expanding to Best Buy (1,900 stores total) and Staples (1,400 stores) earlier this month.

So far, sentiments for the device are fairly positive. On Best Buy’s website, the Windows RT tablet sports a 4.7 out of 5 rating, based on 28 customer reviews. Only one customer was unhappy with the device and rated it one out of five stars.

“No Outlook so not full MS Office, all other tablets have version of word, excel, and powerpoint, so very disappointing,” wrote customer gates77. He liked screen customization, but also noted “Battery life wasn’t to [sic] good and typecover isn’t as good as some logitech keyboards. Can’t load any of my windows 7 programs.”

The most popular feature about Surface RT seems to be Windows 8. “Windows 8 runs like a charm, the Windows Apps Store is growing by the day and I am able to use all my favorite apps such as iHeartRadio, NY Times, USA Today, Kayak, Netflix, Endgadget, eBay, ESPN…” wrote Cricketer from New York on Staples.com.

“The live tiles are a great innovation,” wrote Philipm785 of Atlanta. “They provide genuinely useful information without having to launch the apps and the multiple sizes and custom groupings that can be easily scrolled and zoomed are way easier to get around than the multiple screens of tiny uniform icons you get on iOS.”

The hardware is also receiving kudos. “It’s a perfect laptop replacement for those who don’t need lot of processing power. Don’t wait for the surface pro. The battery life is all day,” wrote desiboy of New York on BestBuy.com.

“I gave away my Android tablet after using this for a while,” wrote MZach of NC. “The keyboard and touchpad are unobtrusive but there when you need them and the keyboard has cursor keys!”

Even people giving 5-star reviews have complaints, include volume output, the “primitive” email app, lack of apps and x86 support, Flash support in IE10, and the price itself.

It’s encouraging to see, but I’m actually not totally surprised. Early adopters tend to be enthusiasts. As it moves beyond the early adopter stage and away from Microsoft enthusiasts into the mass market, that score will drop as more cons pile up. We’ll see what people say when the much more expensive x86 models arrive next year.

 


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One OS, three installation options: What’s the best way to install Windows 8?

You can run Windows 8 in a virtual machine, dual-boot it with your current OS, or install it outright.

Ahh, Windows 8. If youve decided you’re ready to plunk down your hard-earned cash to give this modern UI a shot, you’ll want to spend a few minutes considering just howA you take your first steps into the Windows 8 experience.

You have three ways to install Windows 8 after youve purchased it: (a) Run it as a virtual machine on your current operating system; (b) dual-boot it alongside your current operating system; or (c) perform a full install and overwrite the OS you’re currently rolling with. While the installation methods vary in complexity, all three are within the grasp of even Windows novices, and each brings its own pros and cons to the table.

Let’s take a deeper look at each option.

Running Windows 8 in a virtual machine
One of the easiest ways to play with Windows 8 without having it affect your current operating-system setup is to install it in a virtual machine. While you can get fancy and purchase premium VM software like Parallels Workstation for this purpose, a completely free program called VirtualBox accomplishes the same thing, minus a few bells, whistles, and advanced options.

A virtual machine is exactly what its name suggests. VM software allows you to install and run a virtualized operating system within your existing operating system, and everything you do in that Inception-like second operating system is contained within its own individual environment. Once you’re done playing around with your virtualized OS, you can eradicate it with just a few clicks of the mousethe virtualized OS is really nothing more than a series of files on your normal systems physical hard drive.

We cant stress this enough: What you do within your virtualized OS has absolutely no bearing on your actual operating system. Delete files. Change settings. Do whatever you want! Once youre done tinkering around for the day, all you have to do is shut down your virtualized version of Windows 8 to return to your normal operating system’s desktop.

The downsides? First, running aA virtualized OS requires more configuration steps thanA installing Windows 8 directly. For example, most VM software requires you to have a processor that supports hardware virtualization to run Windows 8, and you’ll have to make sure that virtualization is enabled within your systems BIOS. A quick and easy way to check all of this is to download Microsofts official Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Tool and run it as an administrator on your PC. If youre ready to virtualize, the tool will let you know.

Second, you’ll need to make sure your that PC’s core components are up to the task of virtualization. Not only must the machine fulfill the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 8, it must also be able to handle not one but two concurrently active operating systems. That’s right:A The virtual machine will use the same physical hardware resources as your normal OS, and because both systems will be running simultaneously, we recommend virtualizing Windows 8 on rigs with hefty system specs to ensure that you have enough resources to dedicate to both operating systems. In an ideal world, you’ll allocate at least 3GB of RAM to each OS.

Even with a beefy system, running Windows 8 virtually will likely deliver a slightly less than perfect experience on a standard PC, with occasional graphical lags, performance hiccups, and the frustration of having to move a mouse cursor between operating-system environments if you run the VM in a window rather than in full-screen mode. And Windows 8’s Internet connection sometimes glitches out momentarily in VirtualBox.

Our advice? Virtualizing Windows 8 is a great way to get a feel for the OS before youre ready to commit for good, but its no replacement for a full-fledged installation.

Dual-boot Windows 8
Dual-booting Windows 8 alongside your current operating system is an easy processso dont be scared if youve never done it before. We’ve already published a guide that can walk you through creating a new, Windows 8-ready partition on your hard drive and starting the installation process itself.

Once the secondary operating system is up and running, youll be given a “choose-your-own-adventure”-style screen whenever you boot up your PC, asking you whether youd like to boot into Windows 8 or the other OS stored on your hard drive. If you dont pick an option, your system will default to Windows 8 after a brief period of time.

The benefits of dual-booting are obvious: You gain access to two operating systems instead of one, and the performance of neither system is impacted by the other, because each is just a simple, separate partition on your hard drive.

The drawbacks? Once you opt to dual-boot, it can be a real hassle if and when you decide to remove Windows 8, and go back to a single-boot system using your older Windows operating system. Spoiler: Youll have to poke around in Windows Boot Configuration Data Store Editor (bcdedit.exe) just to ensure that you have a means for booting back into your legacy OS after youve tossed Windows 8.

In other words, dont just delete the Windows 8 partition!
Youll also be sacrificing room on your hard drive to run two operating systems that are completely independent from one another. It almost goes without saying, but installing an app like Steam on Windows 7 doesnt mean that youll be able to run it through Windows 8they’re two separate worlds. Youd have to install Steam on Windows 8 as well, duplicating your efforts on a single drive.

All that said, dual-booting is a tried-and-true process for making the most out of two different operating systems if you absolutely cant live without each. We recommend the process wholeheartedly unless space is of the utmost concern on your system. And if thats the case, maybe its time for a second hard drive.

Fully installing Windows 8
Here we go. The biggie. Youre ready to take the full plunge and wave goodbye to your legacy operating system forever. Windows 8 has arrived, and it is the conqueror on your desktop. Let no other operating system stand in its path.

Installing Windows 8 is extraordinarily easy and extraordinarily quick. First, though, pay heed to the gentle but firm notice that you get only one shot at this if youre doing a clean install. Make sure that youve backed up all important files from your existing operating system before you wipe it and start anew.

You’ll also need to decide whether youre going to upgrade from your existing operating system or go with a completely clean installation. In short, an upgrade installation will do its best to preserve your files and settings from one operating system to the next. Just how much of your existing OS experience is preserved depends on what youre running: When upgrading from Windows 7, Windows 8 will attempt to preserve all your personal files as well as your applications. But if you’re upgrading from Vista or XP, Windows 8 will preserve only the files, and you’ll have toA reinstall your apps afterwards.

The other option is to perform a clean installation, which completely wipes your existing OS and all the files on your hard drive partition, then follows up with a fresh, brand-new installation of Windows 8. Scorched earth.

So which do you pick? The jury is out. More experienced computer users who really enjoy the clean slate of a wipe-and-installor who are otherwise terrified that they arent going to get peak performance from whatever drivers Windows 8 keeps around from Windows 7should opt for the clean installation. A clean install is also a great way to give your PC a “do-over” to clean out the clutter that accumulates over the years. Indeed, on the second go-around of app installations, you might be less likely to install programs you dont actually use much.

Otherwise, Microsoft has improved the upgrade process so that its not all that scary transferring information over to a new Windows (Windows 8) installation. Youll still want to go into the nooks and crannies of Windows 8 itself to ensure that all of your major settings have transitioned over. We also recommend that you go straight to the manufacturers sites for new drivers for your various system componentsvideo card, sound card, motherboard, and so on.

And, once again, please save your settings before you upgrade. For example, while your preferred Internet browser might make the journey to Windows 8, the operating system might not keep your bookmarks.

I love installing apps, so I love the thrill that a fresh install brings to the table. That being said, we have no official recommendation for which Windows installation processclean or upgradewould best work for you. There definitely are trade-offs in either scenario. Now that you know what’s on the table, the choice is yours.

Wrap-up
And there you have it! If youre most concerned with having an easy exit and dont mind trading a bit of performance in the process, then virtualizing Windows 8 is a great way to get familiar with the OSand tweak it in all sorts of crazy wayswithout doing any damage to your existing OS. Dual-booting Windows 8 is a compelling option for mixing the old and the new; youll just give up a bit of space to do so. And going the distance with Windows 8 will give you the option to upgrade or start from scratch.

No matter which method you choose, you may want to check out our guide to optimizing your first 30 minutes with Windows 8 to ensure you make the most of your new OS.


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New standard/tool address security dependencies

Standard developed to assist U.K. government’s critical infrastructure protection authority

There’s a need to rely and trust forces outside our direct control for security — and that awareness spurred the United Kingdom’s national infrastructure protection authority to push for a standard way to model the implications of relying on technology, services, people and more.

The U.K. Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure, a government authority that provides security advice to business and organizations to protect against both physical threats and cyberthreats, asked the standards organization Open Group to create a method that anyone (including outside of the U.K.) can use to model dependencies they have in terms of security. The Open Group has done that with its “Dependency Modeling Standard” published this week, plus a prototype software tool from U.K.-based firm Intradependency that can be used to define dependence on systems, whether it’s a network of physical sensors or a supply chain.

RELATED: Trustworthy systems, trustworthy vendors and how to identify them

The U.K. government wants to use the modeling standard to help clearly define dependencies in the military sphere, but it’s also supposed to be useful for enterprises that depend on energy supplies, goods and services from partners or other relationships in order to operate.

“What is the business goal? What do you want to achieve?” said Richard Byford, senior director at Intradependency about what the Dependency Modeling Standard and the software tool for it are intended to do. “It’s a way of understanding what needs to be there to create success.” The modeling tool, still in prototype, makes use of XML to import data to model dependency scenarios.

With cloud-based services and mobile adding more complexity to the IT environment, the tool should be useful to model this, too. Ian Dobson, director of the Open Group’s Security Forum and Jericho Forum, says the intent is to build resilience in operations to cope with issues that arise based on what you depend on.

 


 

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Santa and NORAD: Microsoft nicer than Google this year

NORAD switches to Bing Maps to help you track Santa’s journey on Christmas Eve

Google apparently hasn’t been naughty in Santa’s eyes, but Microsoft must have been pretty nice. NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, will switch from using Google Maps to Bing Maps to track Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve trip around the world.

This year’s NORAD team includes many members, from Verizon to Avaya Government Solutions, but Microsoft appears to be the lead sponsor, getting high play for products and services ranging from Bing to Windows Azure cloud services to Windows 8 and Windows Phone.
NORAD tracks Santa
Credit: NORAD

GIFT GUIDE: Be a hero for the holidays

We say that Google must not have been naughty in that NORAD is still pushing its YouTube channel, and YouTube of course is a Google property. NORAD is also offering Android and iOS apps in addition to Windows Phone and Windows 8 ones.

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land writes that Google Maps have been used over the past five years by NORAD for Santa tracking.

The good news for good little children around the world is that NORAD apparently is not relying on Apple Maps for Santa tracking. Apple Maps have proven to be a big problem for Apple this year, even confusing the Dark Knight and being called a life-threatening issue in Australia.

Last year NORAD introduced mobile apps and games (including elf tossing) to its repertoire.

NORAD’s tradition of tracking Santa started in 1955, with kids of all ages able to call NORAD to check on the jolly old elf’s progress (and you can still do this in 2011 on Christmas Eve by calling 1-877-Hi-NORAD). Naturally, the tracking and communications processes have become more sophisticated over the years, with the rise of the Internet.


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Can Microsoft Survive If Windows 8 Fails?

Microsoft is betting the farm on the success of Windows 8–its new and radically different operating system.

That at least is the uncompromising view espoused by Steve Ballmer, the company’s chief executive. “Our hardware partners are all in, companies like Verizon and AT&T are all in, there are hundreds of operators and retailers around the world who are all in, developers are all in, and–if anyone wasn’t convinced yet –Microsoft is all in,” he said at the San Francisco launch of the desktop version of the software in October.

But in financial terms, Microsoft may not be quite so “all-in” as Ballmer suggests: The company has plenty more chips on the table to use if its gamble with the new look Windows fails to deliver. Last year the company’s revenues from operating system sales accounted for just 25 percent of its total sales, and almost half of that came from its enterprise licensing agreements which generate cash regardless of whether customers chooses to upgrade to Windows 8 or not. (That’s probably just as well for Microsoft–only 4 percent of enterprises questioned in a recent Forrester survey have specific plans to deploy Windows 8 desktops in the next 12 months.)

So however Windows 8 is received, Microsoft will be just fine financially. But what would the failure of Windows 8 really mean for the future of Windows? Could it spell the end for the Microsoft’s client operating system business?

“Anything can fail and disappear,” says Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft. “Wang was once the big name in word processing but it has gone, and DEC is no longer around today,” he points out. “Windows is used in so many places that it would take more than a single screw-up by Microsoft for Windows to disappear, but I wouldn’t say that it could never happen.”

Failure for Windows 8 would certainly have more far reaching consequences for Microsoft than did the failure of Windows Vista. When that operating system proved not to be the hit that the company had hoped, Microsoft simply moved swiftly on and released Windows 7, a stable and (relatively) secure operating system that is popular with consumers and, increasingly, enterprise customers.

But things are different this time around because Windows 8 is not just a new operating system for the desktop, but part of a whole new Windows 8 ecosystem that also includes operating systems for the increasingly important tablet computer market and for smartphones–all with the same tile-based user interface. That means it can’t back away from the new desktop user interface without leaving its “one interface for all devices” strategy in tatters.

So Microsoft is apparently hitching its Windows desktop fortunes to a user interface which was originally designed for Windows Phone. And there’s no getting around the fact that Windows Phone has spectacularly failed to impress thus far: IDC’s Q3 2012 figures show Android was biggest selling phone operating system with 75 percent of the market, with iOS in second place with Apple in second place with just under 15 percent.

Windows Phone, by contrast, commands less than 4 percent. (Some may argue that there are other reasons why Windows Phone is failing, like a lack of apps, but that didn’t hold iOS or Android back in their early days.)

In fact, Windows Phone may be irrelevant to the fortunes of Windows 8. That’s because the key purpose of the “one interface for all devices” strategy is to capture a sizable chunk of the rapidly developing tablet market, says David Johnson, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. “The big value proposition is the communality across form factors,” he says. “Microsoft’s best chance is that employees want to use Windows tablets and bring them in to their workplace.”
Tablets Are Key to Windows 8 Impact

So what’s most important for Microsoft is that the new Windows 8 interface proves popular on tablet computers–either the consumer oriented ARM-based ones running Windows RT, or the Intel-based ones running Windows 8 Pro which can be managed by IT departments, and which are thus more suitable for enterprise use.

9 Things Enterprise IT Will Like About Windows 8

And the good news for Microsoft is that although sales of Windows Phone devices have been poor, there appears to be a high level of interest in Windows tablets. A recent Forrester survey found that 20 percent of respondents plan to use one for work, compared to 26 percent who plan to use an iPad.

But it’s important to remember that Forrester’s survey was carried out before any Windows 8 tablets had been released, and there’s still a risk that people will reject Windows 8 on tablets the way they seem to be doing with Windows Phone devices. If neither of these platforms take off then Microsoft will be left with a desktop operating system with a user interface that has no reason to exist — one that has been adopted to match a tablet and phone user interface that no-one is interested in. “If enterprises are slow to adopt Windows tablets or don’t see the value proposition then that whole strategy is at risk,” Johnson says.

This view is echoed by Michael Silver, a research vice president at Gartner. “If Windows 8 on the phone doesn’t take off then it’s really no big deal for Microsoft. But if they do poorly with the tablet this has much bigger implications.” The only driver to deploy Windows 8 at this stage is to provide a unified operating system for tablet and PC users, so if Windows tablets fail to take off then that driver disappears, he adds.

The barriers to adoption of Windows 8 would remain, however: A new interface means a new way of working, and probably a certain amount of training or experimenting before productivity levels return to pre-Windows 8 levels.

“The new user interface is less of a problem than it would have been ten years ago because people have got used to mobile interfaces, says Johnson. “But our surveys show that companies are concerned about this, they don’t think the user interface changes are good changes.”

10 Must-Have Features for Windows 9

Perhaps what Ballmer meant with his “all-in” comment was simply that there is no going back from the changes that Windows 8 introduces: If Windows 8 fails, there will be more of the same, including the new interface, in Windows 9. “Windows 8 should be seen as the start of a journey,” says Michael Cherry at Directions at Microsoft. “The current Windows code is now 20-years-old, so for Microsoft doing nothing is just as risky as attempting to introduce the new Windows. At some point they really do have to get off the old plumbing,” he says.

 


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Microsoft opens own social network, Socl

Microsoft Thursday unveiled Socl, a social network that combines the graphics-heavy interface of Pinterest with Bing search functionality.

Does the world really need another social network?

Microsoft thinks so. The company on Wednesday opened up registration for its new project, the aptly named Socl, to users with Microsoft and Facebook accounts. Socl launched last year but was in beta for Microsoft employees and college students until Wednesday.

#DroidRage stunt brings Microsoft a world of hurt

Socl isn’t exactly a traditional social network. It’s more like Pinterest than Facebook as its landing page is filled with photo collages. (This is a change; the site’s original design was decidedly less image-heavy.) Socl was born from Microsoft Research FUSE Labs’ research into social search for students.

Now, anyone can sign up for the site and find content either generated randomly on Socl’s homepage or do a Bing-powered search by topic. To create a post, you can pull content from other parts of the Web–photos, videos, links, etc.–and the site puts together a collage for you.

You can “riff” or comment on others’ posts and share related links and images. Your profile page is a gallery of the posts you’ve created and the interests and people you follow–no wall posts or 140-character bon mots here.

The emphasis is less on friends than content. If you sign in using your Facebook login information, Socl will find your Facebook friends, but the site encourages you to explore and connect with others based on common interests and posts you like.

Facebook competitor?

Some in the blogosphere have questioned whether Microsoft is trying to compete with Facebook, but Socl isn’t much like Facebook at all. Like Pinterest, Microsoft’s new network seems like a solid way to waste a few hours browsing random photos and links rather than a tool to communicate with friends.

And Microsoft acknowledges Socl’s limitations. On the site’s About page, the company says Socl is not designed to compete with the established social networks, but is instead an “experimental research project with a minimal set of features.”

Microsoft is attempting to create a unified, cross-platform ecosystem that extends across hardware (its Surface tablets) and software (Windows 8) to search engines (Bing) and, now, its own social network. The company is experimenting with viral ad campaigns and Twitter stunts.

But, the question remains: Can the company shed its old-fashioned image and enter a new era in technology governed by touch and social? That answer could hinge on Socl’s success.

 


 

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Steve Ballmer’s Nightmare Is Coming True

Steve Ballmer’s Nightmare Is Coming True

Almost one year ago today, we laid out the nightmare scenario for Microsoft (MSFT) that could lead to its business collapsing. After laying it all out, we concluded, “Fortunately for Microsoft, none of this is going to happen.”

We were wrong.

A lot changed in the last year. Microsoft’s nightmare scenario is actually starting to take hold. We’re revisiting our slideshow from last year to see how things have played out.

Each number that follows has one piece of the nightmare scenario for Microsoft and an explanation of where Microsoft stands in comparison to that hypothetical situation.

1. The iPad eats the consumer PC market.

This is happening right now. In the third quarter of 2012, PC sales were down 8 percent on a year-over-year basis worldwide. In the U.S., sales were down 14 percent. A big chunk of the decline can be attributed to the rise of the iPad. Apple sold 14 million iPads last quarter, which is more than the top PC maker, Lenovo, which shipped 13.7 million PCs. Throw in Apple’s 4.9 million Macs, and it’s the top computer maker by a mile.

As the personal computer market goes …

2. Employees gradually switch away from using Windows PCs for work.

This trend has not played out that dramatically in 2012. However, British bank Barclays bought 8,500 iPads at employees’ insistence this year.

And a recent survey showed that the iPhone has overtaken RIM as the smartphone of choice for enterprises. As more people get comfortable with Apple’s mobile products at work, Microsoft will have to worry about them converting their Windows-based computers to Macs at work, too.

Microsoft has a plan to combat this but …

3. Windows 8 fails to stop the iPad.

Gulp. It’s still early, but every most data points say Windows 8 is not going to make a dent in the iPad.

— NPD says Windows tablet sales were “nonexistent” between 10/21 and 11/17.
— It also says Windows sales were down 21 percent over that period on a year-over-year basis.
— Piper analyst Gene Munster was in a Microsoft store for two hours on Black Friday and saw zero Surface sales.
— Microsoft reportedly cut its Surface order in half.
— Ballmer said Surface sales were “modest.”

Meanwhile, we can’t think of any analyst who has cut his or her iPad estimate for the quarter based on Surface sales. In Microsoft’s defense, it says it sold 40 million licenses, which it says is out pacing Windows 7. There’s a chance analysts are wrong.

4. Loyal developers start to leave the Microsoft platform.

We’re not sure if this happening or not. So far, the early signs are actually positive for Microsoft. It has over 20,000 apps in its Windows app store. Windows 8 is only a month old. At the same time, Microsoft doesn’t have a Facebook app for the Surface, and one of the biggest complaints from reviewers was the lack of good apps for Windows 8.

Windows Phone has over 100,000 apps, but iOS has 700,000 apps, with 275,000 made specifically for the iPad.

5. Windows Phone gets no traction despite the Nokia deal and RIM’s collapse.

This has happened. Despite everything Microsoft has tried in mobile for the last two years, consumers aren’t buying it. The latest data from IDC says Microsoft has 2 percent of the global mobile market share. And the latest phone from Nokia is thick and heavy compared to phones from Apple and Samsung. We don’t expect it to be a blockbuster.

Suddenly, all the dominoes are in place for a lot of bad things to start happening. …

6. Office loses relevance.

Microsoft’s Office has been a juggernaut. In fiscal 2012, the Microsoft business division did ~$24 billion in sales.

Last year, we cautioned, “Office runs only on Microsoft platforms and the Mac. As employees start to do more and more work from non-Windows smartphones and iPads, companies may start to question why they’re still buying Office for every employee and upgrading it every two or three releases.”

The death of Office, has not happened, though. Despite Google’s attempt to create Docs, companies aren’t giving up on Excel.

7. Microsoft’s other business applications start to erode.

If Windows continues to fade, and if Office starts to fade, then corporations have less reason to adopt Microsoft technologies on the back end like Exchange Server for email, SharePoint Server for collaboration, Lync for videoconferencing and real-time communication, and Dynamics for CRM and accounting.

Exchange, SharePoint, and Dynamics all bring in more than $1 billion per year, and Lync is Microsoft’s fastest growing business application. Plus, they pull through a lot of other Microsoft products. …

8. The platform business collapses.

For the last decade, Microsoft’s fastest growing business segment has been Server & Tools, which did $7.4 billion in sales last year.

A lot of these sales come because Microsoft business apps — Exchange, SharePoint, and Dynamics — require these products. But as companies stop buying these apps, they will have less reason to buy the Microsoft platform products that run them, and the System Center ($1 billion+) products used to manage them.

9. The Xbox was never going to make up the slack, and Microsoft can no longer afford to keep investing in it.

In a year of relative gloom, Microsoft’s Xbox has become a big bright spot for the company. Kinect is great technology, people are still buying the console, and it’s been a great entry point for Microsoft to take over the living room. But, for a company like Microsoft, Xbox isn’t enough. Microsoft had $21 billion in operating income last year. The Entertainment and Devices division, which is home to the Xbox had $364 million in operating income. So, as nice as Xbox is, it’s not going to be enough to boost Microsoft if the rest of the business collapses.

10. Microsoft suffers a huge quarterly loss. Ballmer retires to play golf.

Let’s not kid ourselves — it’s going to take a sudden, unexpected disaster at Microsoft to get Ballmer out of the company.

In 2012, Microsoft had its first ever quarterly loss as a public company because it had to write down the $6.2 billion acquisition of aQuantive. Investors mostly shrugged. If Microsoft posted a real loss people would freak out. But that’s going to be nearly impossible in the near term.

In the long term …

Is this just a bad dream?

Last year, we concluded by saying, “Fortunately for Microsoft, none of this is going to happen. Windows 8 will reassert the dominance of the Windows PC. Office and other business products will remain corporate necessities, and developers will never be able to ignore Microsoft. Windows Phone will become a viable third mobile platform, the Xbox will continue to dominate the living room, and new products will surprise the pundits who thought Microsoft couldn’t innovate. Even Bing will finally make a profit someday.”

This year, it’s a lot harder to say much of that. Windows 8 doesn’t seem to be reasserting the dominance of the PC. Windows Phone is not a viable third platform. Bing is still burning money. The Microsoft nightmare scenario is actually becoming a reality.

 


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A career in wireless networking-certified wireless network administrator

Wireless technology is a rapidly expanding market. The Wi-Fi standard (802.11), which is the defacto technology for wireless LANs, is continuing to evolve over time and has been embraced by almost all networking vendors and by many electronic hardware vendors. Wi-Fi technology has brought “Freedom and flexibility in Communication”. With wireless technology, people have more flexibility and more freedom to connect with their favorite content and to communicate with others even when they are on the move. All sorts of devices support now the wireless technology. From computers, media players, game consoles, mobile phones etc. Wireless is everywhere. Without the cumbersome cables, people’s communication and connectivity is now simpler and easier.

I.T professionals with wireless knowledge, skills, and qualifications are earning more money than others in the technology field. A “CertMag” salary survey showed that I.T professionals holding a CWNA (Certified Wireless Network Administrator) or CWSP (Certified Wireless Security Professional) certifications earn considerably more than many other technology certifications.

 

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An excellent, vendor-neutral, certification to pursue is the CWNA (Certified Wireless Network Administrator). This is a foundation level certification under the CWNP program. The CWNP is the industry standard for certifications in the wireless LAN industry. A CWNA certification is the initial step towards a successful career in the wireless field. Because it is vendor-neutral, you have the advantage of being employed by any company or organization having any wireless infrastructure vendor. A CWNA professional has the technical leadership and the ability to successfully implement any wireless solution and offers a career differentiation, with enhanced credibility and marketability.

CWNA Training and Preparation

For optimal CWNA preparation I suggest to get the only authorized CWNA Video Training (from Trainsignal) together with the Official CWNA Self-Study Guide (709 pages paperback) from the official website (cwnp.com). The combination of the two study resources above will definitely help you to pass the exam guaranteed. Especially the Trainsignal Video Training package, will provide you with an “instructor-like” experience which covers all required topics for the exam. The instructor in the videos, Ed Liberman, is a technology guru with 18 years experience in the I.T field and 12 years as an instructor.

CWNA Exam Details

To earn the CWNA certification you must pass the CWNA PW0-104 exam. This is a multiple-choice exam with 60 questions, for 90 minutes exam duration. You need a passing score of 70%. You can register at Pearson VUE to take this exam (www.vue.com).

The certification exam measures your ability to administer any wireless LAN. The exam covers a broad range of wireless LAN topics focused on 802.11 wireless technology rather than products of specific vendors. The main topics covered by the exam are the following:

Radio Technologies

Antenna Concepts

Wireless LAN Hardware and Software

Network Design, Installation, and Management

Wireless Standards and Organizations

802.11 Network Architecture

Wireless LAN Security

Troubleshooting

How to Perform Site Surveys

Pursuing a CWNA Certification is a smart move for networking professionals who want to differentiate themselves from the crowd. A CWNA Video Training together with the official book study guide are the surefire ways for passing the exam.


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Security firms warn of spreading Windows AutoRun malware

Security firms warn of spreading Windows AutoRun malware

Antivirus vendors are warning customers of a spreading malware that can infect computers through a well-known bug in the Windows AutoRun software used to automatically launch programs on a DVD or USB device.

The significant increase in infection is curious because Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs will not launch autorun.inf files, and Microsoft has released two patches for older systems. Therefore, security experts believe infections are happening through a combination of unpatched computers, shared folders and files and social media.

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Someone inserting a USB drive or memory stick carrying the malware can infect unpatched PCs. On other systems, an infection can occur once the malware travels to a network share and someone clicks on an infected file or folder. Trend Micro reported that malware was also spreading on Facebook.

Other vendors tracking the malware include McAfee, Symantec and Sophos. While it is interesting that cybercriminals are still exploiting a four-year-old AutoRun bug, Sophos says most corporate PCs are being infected through network sharing.

Clicking the malware on Facebook would certainly open a quick path to a shared folder on a corporate network, said Chester Wisniewski, a senior security adviser for Sophos.

[How to: 10 commandments of Windows security]

“I would say the AutoRun part of it is probably not the source of the majority of infections,” Wisniewski said on Friday. “It’s just an interesting note that [criminals] are still using it. I think spreading through the file shares is probably the primary vector to get people in trouble.”

Microsoft released an AutoRun patch in 2009, a month after the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued a warning that Windows 2000, XP and Server 2003 did not properly disable the feature. Microsoft had patched AutoRun a year earlier in Vista and Windows Server 2008.

The infamous Stuxnet malware created an autorun.inf file to infect computers via USB drives. Stuxnet, created jointly in 2009 by U.S. and Israel, reportsA’A The New York Times, damaged Iranian nuclear facilities.

The latest malware disguises itself as files and folders in writeable network shares and removable devices, while hiding the originals. The application will also create .exe files named “porn” and “sexy” and a folder called “passwords,” to entice people to click on them, Sophos said.

The malware adds a registry key, so it can start when a PC is booted up. Variants of the application will disable Windows Update to prevent the victim from downloading patches to disable the malware.

Once a PC is infected, the application follows the typical procedure for such malicious software. It contacts a command-and-control server for instructions and to receive other applications. Malware downloaded include Trojans in the Zeus/Zbot family, which steals online banking credentials, Sophos said

To combat the malware, security experts recommend disabling AutoRun on all Windows operating systems and restricting write permissions to file shares. Depending on the AV vendor, the malware has several names, including W32/VBNA-X, W32/Autorun.worm.aaeb, W32.ChangeUp and WORM_VOBFUS.

The latest outbreak arrives about a year and a half after Microsoft reported big declines in AutoRun infection rates. In the first five months of 2011, the number of AutoRun-related malware detected by Microsoft fell 59% on XP computers and 74% on Vista PCs, compared with 2010.


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