Don't you love it when Patch Tuesday hits double digits

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2011 - 11:47 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, patch tuesday, security, windows, internet explorer, silverlight

Tomorrow will see the arrival of 9 critical security patches and 7 recommended ones, covering Windows, IE, Silverlight and Office.  The critical patches all resolve remote code execution vulnerabilities, the recommended vary from the same type as well as privledge escalation and denial of  service vulnerabilities.  WinXP through Win7 as well as server OSes will all be affected so be warned that your Tuesday and Wednesday might not be very fun.  Follow the link from The Register to see Microsoft's pre-release document for yourself.

Adobe, obviously not wanting to seem lazy, is also pushing out a patch for both Reader and Acrobat.

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"Microsoft is preparing a bumper Patch Tuesday for next week, with 16 security bulletins that collectively address 34 vulnerabilities.

Nine of the bulletins earn the dread rating of critical, while the other seven grapple with flaws rated as important. All supported versions of Windows will need patching on 14 June along with various server-side software packages and applications, including the .NET framework and SQL Server. Internet Explorer, which is affected by two bulletins, will also need some fiddling under the bonnet."

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Source: The Register

Is The Wintel Era Coming To an End?

Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2011 - 11:21 PM |
Tagged: wintel, microsoft, Intel, asustek

DigitTimes reports that the so called “Wintel” era is over. With Wintel representing the fusing of a Windows operating system on Intel x86 processors, Asustek Jonney Shih believes that the time period where Windows and Intel processors dominated the PC, tablet PC, and handset markets have passed. This is due in part to the rise of Android and ARM on the mobile front and increased mind share (and in some cases competitive market share) of the Mac OSX and iOS ecosystems on the PC and mobile platforms respectively. Shih further stated that the rising market share of once-smaller operating systems from competitors encourages healthy competition and innovation in the industry.

As mobile hardware advances to once-unprecedented levels of performance, Asustek sees the lines between what constitutes mobile handsets, ultra-portable computing devices and traditional computers breaking down. All these devices will soon start to coalesce into a new IT market where computing is more about productivity and entertainment more so than choosing differing classes of hardware as they will all be “good enough” machines.

DigiTimes states that the rise of the tablet PC will likely increase manufacturers abilities to try new things and sell numerous units; however, it will also impact and “significantly reshuffle the ranking of the whole IT market.”

With Microsoft currently commanding approximately 88.69% of the client OS market share (according to Net Market Share at time of writing), and Intel being the leading manufacturer of x86 CPUs, the “Wintel” relationship still has a good deal of weight to throw around and influence the market; however, on the mobile front the market is much more competitive with other operating systems and hardware advancing rapidly. Will the mobile market have an effect on traditional computing, and do you feel as though the Wintel era is coming to an end?

Source: DigiTimes

... but NVIDIA, how can we have fun with Microsoft always staring at us like that?

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2011 - 11:52 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, microsoft, lawyers

It turns out that while NVIDIA did not quite sell its soul to get its GPU into the first XBox, it did give up its right to go out unchaperoned.  As part of the deal Microsoft can block any large purchase of NVIDIA shares by another company.  If a company tries to purchase 30% or more of NVIDIA's shares then had and still has Microsoft has the right to put kybosh on the deal.  A decade ago when the deal was first inked the agreement would have made a lot of sense to Microsoft; they were going to depend on NVIDIA's GPU and did not want to have another company buy a majority share in NVIDIA to get a grip on Microsoft's new gaming console.  This deal makes NVIDIA rather unattractive to many companies as the investment of time and money necessary to set up a large deal could be utterly wasted if Microsoft decides it doesn't like the look of NVIDIA's new bedmate.  The Inquirer has more here, and are currently awaiting a response to the article from Microsoft.

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"AN UNLIKELY BETROTHAL between Microsoft and Nvidia has been uncovered that gives Microsoft the right of first and last refusal to buy Nvidia.

Microsoft entered into an agreement with Nvidia back in 2000 when the chip design outfit was brought in to work on the GPU of what would then become Microsoft's Xbox. That in itself isn't particularly surprising, but Information Week dug up a 10K filing with the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) in which Nvidia reported that Microsoft had first and last rights of refusal should a third party make an offer to buy 30 per cent or more of Nvidia's shares."

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Source: The Inquirer

Skype fall down, go boom ... doubtful Microsoft has anything to do with it

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2011 - 12:12 PM |
Tagged: fud, skype, microsoft

According to The Inquirer, at 12:15 GMT (+1 hr thanks to daylight savings), Skype suffered a major network failure that seems to not only have taken out the Skype VoIP client but also impacted the availablitity of their site.  As of right now there is no work around or solution, Skype is investigating the cause but for now other clients are your best bet for communicating over the web. 

Since this has occured 2 weeks after Microsoft purchased Skype, speculation is running rampant that this is some sort of planned interruption.  It seems a little far fetched to think that even a company with as much financial power as Microsoft would dump $8.5 billion just to shut down a competing service.  They are going to want some return on their investment and simply using Skype's patents, some of which are still under review now or its infrastructure to prop up Sharepoint is not going to return that money.  Ad generated revenue on the sidebar of the client and hooking this up to Microsoft's various social and gaming applications seems more likely, which implies that shutting down Skype is the last thing on their mind.

Hopefully it will be fixed in time for This Week in Computer Hardware.

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"VOICE OVER IP (VoIP) and chat service Skype has crashed throughout the world and continues to crash on login, leading many to suspect that its recent acquisition by Microsoft is a definite disaster.

The service began to crash around 12:15pm UK time, kicking people offline and freezing when they tried to log back in again. Other users who remained online had difficulties making calls. Restarting your PC or reinstalling Skype has no effect, as the problem is clearly on Skype's end."

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Source: The Inquirer

Your company lost $7 million last year? Can we buy it for $8.5 billion? Microsoft buys Skype.

Subject: General Tech | May 10, 2011 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: ballmer, microsoft, boomtown, skype, purchase, billion

The rumour mill really dropped the ball on this one, as just a few hours ago it was Facebook that everyone was muttering would one day buy Skype.  Turns out that in just a few hours the new rumour that Microsoft was going to buy Skype for $7 billion became a reality at an $8.5 billion price tag. 

Skype lost $7 million dollars last year, though that number seems rather small compared to their overall balance sheet to date which puts them $686 million in the hole.  As All Things Digital is quick to point out, that is slightly less than what Microsoft Online Services Division lost last Quarter, proving all things are relative even at very high amounts of dollars.

On the plus side, Microsoft gets its hands on Skype's 763 million registered users, about twice as many as there are MSN users and significantly more that there are XBox Live users.  Toss in the TechNet people and you still have nowhere near the user pool that Skype brings.  That huge increase in the number of people Microsoft can reach possibly gives them the ability to recoup the money they spent to buy them.  Consider that 8 million users pay actual money for their Skype account, which Wired considers as at least a hint of Microsoft's strategy.

Most PC users who already use Windows, such as those at Ars Technica, are scratching their heads over the purchase while Linux users at Slashdot are very concerned about continuing support for the Skype Linux Client.

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"The Wall Street Journal reported earlier tonight that Microsoft–in what would be its most aggressive acquisition in the digital space–was zeroing in on buying Skype for $8.5 billion all in with an assumption of the Luxembourg-based company’s debt.

Sources told BoomTown tonight that the deal for the online telephony and video communications giant is actually done and will be announced early tomorrow morning."

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