Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

Will Microsoft sue the makers of Adblock Plus?

European publications claim Microsoft could go after the ad-blocking service, but without citing sources.

Microsoft, Google, and a group of French publishers are reportedly planning to sue developers of ad-blocking software because it has been a bit too effective and popular.

Adblock Plus, a simple add-on to Chrome and Firefox, has about 144 million active users, up 69% in a year, according to a September report from software publisher Adobe and PageFair, a company that helps publishers see which ads are being blocked. It’s detailed in a report (PDF) that discusses “How Adblock Plus is changing the Web.”

There are other ad blockers, and according to the Adobe/PageFair report, 54% of male survey respondents said they use some kind of ad blockers. There was no mention of female users.

Since many sites depend on ads for revenue, those missing out on the advertising dollars aren’t happy about this. The online version of French newspaper L’Equipe, one of the companies that could file a suit against Adblock Plus and other developers, will not let anyone access its site at all if they have Adblock Plus installed.

“This is no small matter; it affects all publishers. Our members have lost an estimated 20-40% of their advertising revenue,” Laure de Lataillade, CEO of GESTE, an association of web publishers in gaming, media, music and other domains, told AFP.

Microsoft’s involvement is not much of a surprise. It has some big online sites, like MSN and Bing, and it provides ads to other sites through Bing. The Adobe/PageFair report says Microsoft’s Internet Explorer only accounts for 4% of the ad blocking, with Chrome at 63% and Firefox at 26%. Much of that is due to the fact that IE doesn’t have an add-on market like Chrome and Firefox.

Microsoft declined to comment. Normally they offer up some kind of canned quote, but not this time. I’m reluctant to read too much into this, mostly because I’d hate to think it’s come to this conclusion. But if the CESTE CEO comments are indeed true, they have a legitimate gripe. I just have no idea what the law is on this subject.

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Microsoft: ‘Nobody loves developers more than us’

Sharing? At Microsoft? It’s more likely than you think.

Last week, Microsoft made huge waves when it announced that its long-proprietary .Net application framework was now available as open source, completely rocking the Redmond, Wash., giant’s cross-platform strategy and public image, all in one fell swoop.

This week is the TopCoder Open, which, for competitive coders, is like the World Series or the International, depending on how nerdy you are, with 1,400 developers in attendance and $260,000 worth of prizes on the line. Microsoft’s developer evangelist Matt Thompson took the stage to talk about the kinder, gentler Microsoft and why students, startups and anybody with an interest in coding should take the company seriously.

“Nobody loves developers more than us,” Thompson said to the packed crowd.

Thompson came to the TopCoder Open with the goal of getting developers to take Microsoft’s platform at least as seriously as they do Amazon’s, Google’s and Salesforce’s. The net result of Thompson’s presentation: A pretty decent sales pitch for working on the Microsoft platform and a lot of un-Microsoft-like talk about the importance of sharing, working together and open source.

Thompson began his presentation with some of his personal history. He was an evangelist for Java at Sun Microsystems; a platform and API developer at early mobile startups General Magic and Taligent; and a mobile developer besides. If there’s a trend he’s noticed in his career, he says, it’s that coding is getting easier thanks to modern development tools, and that code literacy is going to be more crucial than ever as a basic life skill.

As mobile and social experiences continue to dominate more of our daily lives, he says, opportunity is increasingly going to come in the form of new software. That’s why hackers and makers are the vanguard of the new wave of developers, he says.

“Coding is the easiest way to express new ideas,” Thompson says.

Which is why startups need to consider Microsoft. Thanks to the new Visual Studio Community Edition, teams of fewer than five can use Microsoft’s development environment to build those new ideas together and have them work across platforms.

Because Microsoft is, you know, Microsoft, it has something for everybody. Deploy your .Net app on Microsoft Windows Azure and scale up (maybe even for free, if you qualify for the Microsoft BizSpark program). That app can run on iOS, Android or Windows Phone, which heaven knows needs apps (or euthanasia, depending who you ask). Given the entire terrible majesty of the Microsoft ecosystem, it’s a path leading from a startup with a $1 billion idea to an enterprise with a $1 billion bottom line, Thompson says.

And the way to get there, he says, is with openness and open technologies — a rising tide lifts all ships, and Microsoft wants to help all developers succeed no matter what technologies they use. Getting a billion-dollar idea to market is easier when you can stand on the shoulders of giants.

“It’s no longer monolithic or proprietary,” Thompson says. “It’s about sharing.”

Un-Microsoft-like, indeed. But maybe the surest sign yet that Microsoft is rethinking its relationships with developers. Which is a good thing, because if Microsoft is serious about this “platform,” developers are going to be its most precious resource, and it has some image rehabilitation to do. In that light, having startups and independent coders at one of the premiere events for the same is a shrewd move.


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New Microsoft same as the old Microsoft

For all the talk by its CEO about a new and different Microsoft, the company’s revenue and profit engines remain untouched, with money-making software groups tied to hardware-intensive divisions that increasingly drag down the firm’s overall margin.

Perusing Microsoft’s latest financial report, the one filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in July, makes it clear that little has changed in either the last year or since Satya Nadella took over the reins in February 2014.

Two of the company’s six business units — Devices & Consumer (D&C) Licensing and Commercial Licensing — generated 68% of the company’s total revenue for the second quarter of 2014 and 93% of its gross margin. Those units, as their names imply, primarily sell software licenses: Windows to OEMs in D&C’s case, Office and a slew of other products, including Windows Server, to enterprises in Commercial’s.

Those numbers were not substantially different from a year ago, much less six months ago when Nadella took over the company. In the second quarter of 2013, D&C and Commercial Licensing accounted for 75% of the revenue and 95% of the gross margin. Half a year ago, the figures were in the same ballpark: 66% and 93%.

And the D&C and Commercial Licensing margins were still stratospheric last quarter, 92% for D&C, 94% for Commercial. In other words, for each $100 brought in by those two units — from software sales, in other words — Microsoft retained $93.10. That’s “printing money” by any business definition.

The other units — Computing and Gaming (C&G) Hardware, Phone Hardware, D&C Other and Commercial Other — had gross margins of 1%, 3%, 24% and 31%, respectively, but contributed even smaller portions to the total gross margin for the quarter. C&G Hardware, for instance, accounted for just 0.1% of the company’s gross margin, while Phone — the new line item in Microsoft’s financials that represented the Nokia business acquired in April — contributed only 0.3% of the gross margin.

As six months ago, when Computerworld last analyzed Microsoft’s financials to try to figure out whether its strategy matched its numbers, the four units were not only less profitable than the software groups, but were nearly invisible on the bottom line. Collectively they accounted for 8% of the total gross margin. It’s not a rounding error, certainly, but just as obviously not a core part of Microsoft’s profitability.

And Nadella has talked “core” so often he could be an apple — not Apple — enthusiast.

“We made bold and disciplined decisions to define our core as the productivity and a platform company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world,” Nadella said in the July 22 earnings call with Wall Street (emphasis added). “We will get crystal clear on the core businesses that drive long-term differentiation and the businesses that support them.”

Nadella used the word “core” 10 times in his prepared statement at the top of that call.

Microsoft, of course, knows full well the profit-making disparity between what it has historically done — sell software — and what ex-CEO Steve Ballmer decided it must do, sell devices, too.

While revenue from C&G Hardware, which primarily came from sales of the Xbox game console and Surface tablet, and Phone added $3.4 billion to sales, a closer look at the numbers revealed still-higher costs and continued declining margins for devices.

After an increase in 2014’s first quarter, the margin for C&G Hardware took a dive in the second, dropping to just 1%. In the last eight quarters, the group’s margins have fallen in four when measured against the previous period.

And the 1% for the second quarter, a record low — except for the second quarter of 2013, which included a $900 million write-off — put new meaning to “razor thin.”

Microsoft attributed the decline in gross margin for C&G Hardware to higher expenses for both the Xbox and the Surface, but the latter was what dragged down the number: Microsoft took an estimated $363 million loss on the tablet in the June quarter to push the total red ink to $1.7 billion since its October 2012 debut.

Nor did the addition of Nokia help much. With Phone added to C&G Hardware, the two groups returned just 50 cents for each $100 in revenue. When one charts the gross margins of Microsoft’s divisions, those for C&G Hardware and Phone are so tiny they simply don’t register.

Nadella wasn’t unaware of the crummy margins for his company’s devices, whether video game machine, tablet or phone. He killed the Surface Mini shortly before it was to launch, reportedly to eat crow immediately rather than to lose even more money down the road; rejected Ballmer’s “devices and services” strategy; and talked instead about the company’s mission as a “productivity and platforms” seller.

The vast bulk of Microsoft’s gross margin — an indicator of profitability — still comes from its software sales, while other businesses, including its hardware and phone efforts, generated so little that they’re impossible to see in the chart’s scale. (Data: Microsoft, SEC filings.)

“At times, we will develop new categories like we did with Surface. And we will responsibly make the market for Windows Phone,” Nadella said during the July 22 earning call. “However, we are not in hardware for hardware sake, and the first-party device portfolio will be aligned to our strategic direction as the productivity and platform company.”

Other company executives, including former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, have also deployed the phrase “responsibly make the market.” which some analysts have interpreted to mean that losses will not be tolerated in Nadella’s regime as they were in Ballmer’s.

The mantra of “productivity and platforms” certainly matches Microsoft’s revenues better then Ballmer’s “devices and services,” which was never really defined. The Office productivity family, represented by Commercial Licensing, and the Windows platform, more or less encapsulated in D&C Licensing, accounted for 93% of the firm’s second-quarter gross margin.

That was actually down from a year ago, when the two lines combined for 95% of Microsoft’s gross margin.

But another group, Commercial Other, which generates most of its revenue from what Microsoft calls “Commercial Cloud” — Office 365 for commercial accounts; Azure, the company’s cloud business; and Dynamics CRM Online — more than made up the difference. The service-oriented group booked $2.3 billion in revenue during the June quarter, up 44%, and boosted its gross margin to $691 million, a 106% increase.

Commercial Other’s gross margin in percentage format was 30.5%: For every $100 in revenue, Microsoft kept $30.50. That was not only a jump from 21.3% a year before, but the highest since the group’s creation on the books.

“Commercial Other margins expanded again in this quarter, benefiting from both improved business scale and datacenter efficiency in our cloud services,” said CFO Amy Hood last month.

Although Commercial Other was a creation of Ballmer, who regularly cited its offerings as the prime example of the “services” side of his strategy, the group also fits well with Nadella’s updated message of productivity (Office 365) and platforms (Azure, as a cloud-based OS).

Add Commercial Other to the two licensing-centric groups, and the cumulative margin drops to 84.7% — Microsoft keeps $84.70 of each $100 in revenue — which, while a smaller number than licensing-only, is still a fantastic margin that demonstrates the financial power of software, whether delivered traditionally or as a service.

Nadella knows that, and has even acknowledged as much, although he uses the word “software” sparingly — just twice, for instance, in the July 22 earnings call. In a May interview at Re/code’s technology conference, Nadella said, “We are a software company at the end of the day.”

No kidding.

Which makes the hardware divisions and their very low margins stand out even more.

If the Xbox, Surface and Nokia businesses, along with the rest of the peripheral units bundled with them, were purged from Microsoft’s balance sheet last quarter, it would have raised the gross margin ten points, from 69% (with hardware) to 79% (without). In other words, Microsoft would be a smaller company — just under $20 billion in revenue versus the actual $23.3 billion — but a more profitable one.

That’s not gone unnoticed by Wall Street, which has regularly pressed Microsoft to abandon hardware, sell the units or spin them off into independent companies. Industry analysts have also questioned the devotion to hardware.

“The contrast between hardware and licensing couldn’t be more stark: one makes enormous gross margins, and the other barely scrapes a profit,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research, in a July 22 analysis of Microsoft’s financials. In a follow-up, he wondered how long Microsoft would put up with the losses of the Surface.

“Continued losses will make it harder and harder for Microsoft to keep the Surface project going, so a good performance in the next quarter or two will be critical to justifying its continued existence,” he wrote on July 31.

A few days later, in an interview, Dawson elaborated. “My sense is that Nadella is less willing to accept losses than was [Steve] Ballmer,” he said.

With a financial disparity like the one shown in the June quarter, who could blame Nadella if he did?

And he has hinted that pressure would be applied to the low-low-margin hardware divisions. “For those supporting efforts such as MSN, retail stores and hardware, we will also ensure disciplined financial execution,” Nadella said on July 22 (emphasis added).

While margins for Microsoft’s hardware group — which sells the Surface and the Xbox — continued to fall in the June quarter, margins have improved for ‘Commercial Other,’ the group that handles Office 365 for businesses and the Azure cloud. (Data: Microsoft, SEC filings.)

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10 things you need to know about Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3

Since the release of the first Surface nearly two years ago, Microsoft has been improving and revising its line of tablets. We tested a Surface Pro 3 that came with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 256 GB SSD. Microsoft also included a Type Cover — the keyboard designed for this tablet that also serves as a protective cover, which is normally sold separately. Bottom line: The Surface Pro 3 is a beautifully designed machine that shows off the Windows 8.1 operating system. It’s billed as a tablet, but I found myself preferring to use it as a notebook, a nifty ultraportable one — and doing so through the Windows desktop environment.

Form factor
The Surface Pro 3 is comprised of styles that complement one another. The flatness of its back is offset by sides that angle outward toward the display screen. Due to its size, which is close to that of 8.5-by-11-inch paper with a thickness of 0.36 inches, it’s safest to hold this tablet with both hands. The kickstand flips out initially to an endpoint of 22 degrees, but the two hinges will gradually and gently give, allowing you to turn them back to 150 degrees. This angle helps you use the tablet when you have it set on a table, without the Type Cover. Placing it on your lap, with the Type Cover attached, and using it as a notebook is doable and not uncomfortable.

Keyboard: Type Cover
The Type Cover, which is available in four colors, attaches tightly with magnets to the edge of only one side of the tablet. The keyboard’s palm rest surface is a tight and smooth-to-the-touch felt. The protective cover is a rougher but softer felt, like a high-quality billiard table. The touchpad is wider than the one on the first version. And while the original rested flat when opened; this one can be raised into an upward incline. I found that this elevated profile did make my typing better.

The Surface Pro 3 uses the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 Pro. This is, refreshingly, the “cleanest” Windows device (desktop, notebook or tablet) I’ve ever seen: It comes with several Windows Store apps owned by Microsoft, including Skype, but only one by a third-party: Flipboard. There are no third-party desktop applications. The only extraneous desktop application was Microsoft Office.

The 12-inch, 2160-by-1440 pixel screen is color-calibrated, which aids in professional work where maintaining image fidelity is tantamount. To me, the colors looked somewhat dull. By default, the screen is set at a dim looking 50% brightness. I liked it better at 80% to 90%. Outdoors in sunlight, the display’s glass became so reflective that the screen was not viewable. When the tablet is held in portrait mode, its display’s aspect ratio is 2:3, which compares similarly to that of an 8.5-by-11-inch paper sheet. So the Surface Pro 3 can work well for previewing PDFs or scanned images of documents.

With an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, the tablet operated speedily with rarely a slowdown. I would purposely keep several tabs open in a web browser, while playing streaming music or video (at 1080p resolution), and jump between the Start Screen and desktop to launch applications or apps. The one notable time that the Surface Pro 3 became strained was when I updated Windows 8.1 through Windows Update. The upper-right of the tablet’s back (when the device is in its notebook orientation) began to feel warmer than usual to the touch, as the OS installed several updates onto itself. Things returned to normal after a required reboot to finish the installation process.

Digital pen: Surface Pen
The Surface Pro 3 comes with a digital pen, called the Surface Pen. You can use it to interact with Windows 8.1, as you would by tapping on the tablet’s touchscreen with your finger, but it was specially devised for the OneNote app. The Surface Pen has a button at its end that launches OneNote when you click it. Virtually doodling or writing with this digital pen on the Surface Pro 3 felt very much like doing so with an actual pen on paper. Even when I quickly swept its tip across the tablet’s display, OneNote kept up with my motions instantaneously to produce corresponding scribbles.

When set up as a notebook or held in landscape mode, the tablet’s speakers emanate sound through grills from the top edges of the bezel. The audio had a fullness, but lacked distinct and strong enough clarity in the high end. The volume range seemed narrow, but the loudness that these tiny speakers could put out was still impressive. When I listened through good-quality earbuds, the audio sustained clarity without any distortion at high volume settings.

The Surface Pro 3 has three mics: One in the bezel; two embedded in the back, which together are meant to capture sound in stereo. Using the Windows 8.1 default Sound Recorder app, the front mic recorded audio that sounded crisp and free of buzzing.

Both the front and rear cameras can capture images up to 5 megapixels. And, in general, I found they were equally capable of taking clear, in-focus shots under bright or sufficient light, whether indoors or outside. Colors appeared accurate and dynamic in such ideal situations.

The difference between them appeared to lie in how each handles focus: The rear camera couldn’t capture objects within about 22 inches in sharp focus. The front camera fared much better, focusing in at about 8 inches, as to be expected; this is the camera that will be transmitting your face when you’re video-chatting.

Microsoft lists the Surface Pro 3 being able to run for about 9 hours on a full charge. I managed to use it continuously as much as I could (letting it go to sleep when I took breaks) for almost 8 hours under its Windows 8.1 default settings. I browsed the web, captured audio and images, listened to music, ran desktop applications and Windows apps, and watched video. The Surface Pro 3’s power charger, which neatly sticks to the device with a magnetic connector, shines a bright white LED when it’s plugged into a wall outlet. But there’s no light on the tablet to indicate the charging status of its built-in battery. By my estimate, it took about 3 hours to completely recharge.

OS: Windows 8.1 Pro, 64-bit
DISPLAY: 12 inch, 2160-by-1440 pixel
SCREEN: Multi-touch touchscreen with digital pen support
UNDER THE HOOD: Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 chip, 4 or 8 GB RAM; 64, 128, 256 or 512 GB SSD
CAMERAS: 5 MP front camera; 5 MP rear
CONNECTIVITY: MicroSD slot, Mini DisplayPort, USB 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11ac/802.11 a/b/g/n
BATTERY: Up to 9 hours
WEIGHT: 1.76 lbs
DIMENSIONS: 11.5” x 7.93” x 0.36”
PRICE: Starts at $799; Type Cover: $129.99


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Microsoft to lay off 18,000 in next year

Microsoft announced Thursday morning that it will cut its workforce by up to 18,000 jobs, or 14 percent, in the next year, as part of a broad effort to streamline the company in the wake of its acquisition of phone-maker Nokia.

A letter to employees from CEO Satya Nadella, released by the company, said that its “work toward synergies and strategic alignment on Nokia Devices and Services is expected to account for about 12,500 jobs, comprising both professional and factory workers. We are moving now to start reducing the first 13,000 positions, and the vast majority of employees whose jobs will be eliminated will be notified over the next six months.”

Nadella’s letter said that the company will add jobs in other areas.

In it, he promised further information about where the company will focus investment in innovation during a public conference call to discuss earnings on July 22, and invited staff to join a monthly internal question and answer session with him on Friday to find out more.

Senior leadership team members will discuss the effect of the cuts on their organizations later Thursday, he said. Staff laid off as a result of the process will be offered severance pay and, in many places, help in finding a new job, he said.

Beyond integration of the Nokia handset business, Nadella said the job cuts would focus on work simplification, eliminating layers of management and changing what the company expects from each of the disciplines involved in engineering activities. These changes are intended to accelerate the flow of information and decision making, he wrote.

Nadella also unveiled a few details of his plans for the Nokia phone portfolio.

Microsoft will “focus on breakthrough innovation that expresses and enlivens Microsoft’s digital work and digital life experiences” to win in the higher price tiers, he said.

Most intriguingly, the low-end, Android-based Nokia X phones, introduced as last-gasp strategy by Nokia before it sold the handset business to Microsoft, will survive—but not as Android phones. Instead, said Nadella, “We plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows.” Nokia had laid the groundwork for that before the sale, building its own apps and a user interface for Android that resembled Windows Phone.

In a separate letter to staff, Microsoft Devices Group head Stephen Elop said the company would continue to sell the Android devices in some countries, depending on local conditions.

He also detailed where some of the job cuts would fall. Engineering work on mobile phones will continue at two locations in Finland, Salo for high-end Lumia devices and Tampere for affordable devices, but will be ramped down in Beijing, San Diego and in Oulo, Finland. Phone manufacturing will continue in Hanoi, and to a lesser extend in Beijing and Dongguan. He made no mention of former Nokia manufacturing operations in India.

There will be limited change for the teams working on Surface devices and Xbox hardware as these had already been restructured earlier in the year, Elop said.

As of June 5, Microsoft had 127,104 employees, 61,313 of them in the U.S., according to its website. The planned job cuts could affect around 14 percent of the workforce.

Peter Sayer contributed to this article.

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Microsoft slates critical IE, Windows patches for Tuesday

One month left for businesses to migrate from Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.1 Update

Microsoft today said it will ship six security updates to customers next week, patching all versions of Internet Explorer (IE) and nearly all supported editions of Windows.

The IE update, one of two classified as “critical” — Microsoft’s most serious threat ranking — will patch IE6 on Windows Server 2003, IE7, IE8, IE9, IE10 and the newest, IE11.

It’s unlikely that July’s IE update will match June’s in size: Microsoft fixed a record 60 flaws in the browser on June 10. (Originally, Microsoft said it had patched 59 IE bugs last month, but a week later acknowledged it had forgotten to add one to the list, and so upped the count to an even 60.)

Windows 7 users who have not freshened IE11 with a mandatory April update will not receive next week’s browser fixes.

According to Thursday’s advanced notice, which briefly described the July updates, the second critical bulletin will patch all client editions of Windows — from Vista to Windows 8.1 — and all server versions except for those running on systems powered by Intel’s Itanium processors. Windows Server 2008 and Server 2012 systems provisioned by installing only the Server Core — a minimal install with many features and services omitted to lock down the machine — are also exempt from Bulletin 2, Microsoft said.

Of the remaining four updates, three were labeled “important” by Microsoft — the threat step below critical — while the fourth was pegged “moderate.” All will offer patches for some or all Windows editions, both on the desktop and in the data center.

Security researchers pointed to the two critical bulletins as the obvious first-to-deploy for most Microsoft customers.

They also remarked on Bulletin 6, the single moderate update, which will patch Microsoft Service Bus for Windows Server. The bus is a messaging and communications service that third-party developers can use to tie their code to Windows Server and Microsoft Azure, the Redmond, Wash. company’s cloud service.

“The odd one out this month is the Moderate Denial of Service in ‘Microsoft Service Bus for Windows Server,'” said Ross Barrett, senior manager of security engineering at Rapid7, in an email. “It’s part of the Microsoft Web Platform package and is not installed by default with any OS version.”

Although Microsoft did not mention it in today’s advance notice, or in the blog post by the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC), enterprises have one more month to deploy April’s Windows 8.1 Update and Server 2012 R2 Update before losing patch privileges for devices running Windows 8.1 or servers running 2012 R2.

Hardware powered by Windows 8.1 or Server 2012 R2 must be updated before Aug. 12, the next scheduled Patch Tuesday, to receive that month’s updates, as well as any future security fixes.

Or in some cases, even present patches, said Chris Goettl, a program product manager at Shavlik, in an email.

“One thing to watch out for [next week] will be [something similar to] the many exceptions we saw last month,” Goettl cautioned. “Many of the updates we saw in June required other updates to be in place, depending on the platform. For those running Windows 8.1 or Server 2012 R2, they need to be prepared for more of these updates to require Update 1 before they can apply them. Microsoft has stated they would delay a hard enforcement until August, but more and more of the patches [have] had variations that required Update 1. So look out for that cut over — it’s coming quick.


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Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Certification Exam

In this day and age, companies tend to hire those applicants who are not only well-qualified but have a diverse combination of skills as well. So it does not hurt if you have a certification on your resume; instead, it will help you a great deal. A certification in your profession will not only make you more qualified than the other applicants but it will also give a signal to the employers that you are a person who believes in moving forward and is determined to develop further his or her understandings and skills about the subject matter. MCSA – Windows Server 2008 certification exam is designed for IT professionals whose jobs revolve around handling Server Networks. This certification is quite an important one since Windows Server 2008 is an important program and it is needed for the proper functioning of extended programs.

Exam Topics of MCSA- Windows Server 2008: This exam consists of three papers. The first one is Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring with the certification code of 70-640. The second one is Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring with the certification code of 70-642. Last one is Windows Server 2008, Server Administration with the certification code of 70-646.

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Exam Topics of 70-640:
This exam tests an individual’s knowledge in configuring and implementing Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Environment. This exam is divided into 6 sections.

  • First section deals with Configuration of DNS for Active Directory and this section carries 17 percent marks.
  • Second section deals with Configuration of Active Directory Infrastructure and this section carries total of 17 percent marks.
  • Third part covers Configuration of Active Directory Roles and Services and this part is worth 14 percent marks.
  • Forth part deals with creation and maintenance of Active Directory objects and this part is worth 18 percent marks.
  • Fifth part deals with maintenance of Active Directory Environment and this part carries a total of 18 percent marks.
  • Sixth part deals with Configuration of Active Directory Certificate Services and this part is worth 15 percent marks.

Exam Topics of 70-642:
This paper is all about Network infrastructure and the topics are:

  • IP addressing and Services.
  • Configuring Name Resolution.
  • Configuring Network and Remote Access.
  • File and Print Services configuration.
  • Network Infrastructure Monitoring and Management.

Exam topics of 70-646:
This paper tests the candidate’s skills on the following topics:

  • Planning of Server Deployment. (This part carries 19 percent marks)
  • Planning for Server Management. (This part carries 23 percent marks)
  • Monitoring and Maintaining Services. (This part carries 20 percent marks)
  • Planning Application and Data Provisioning. (This part carries 19 percent marks)
  • Planning for Business continuity and High Availability. (This part carries 19 percent marks)

MCSA: Windows Server 2008 certification exam is held in Pro metric testing centers. When compared with its benefits, this exam is quite inexpensive; it costs around $240. Hence, IT professionals and Systems Administrators are encouraged to register for this exam. Moreover, if you are considering on taking MCSE in the future, you should start from this exam since it counts towards MCSE.

Microsoft Certifications 2014 can you a JOB

With the new technologies coming in the market every other day, life has become advanced these days. In this modern era, you have to be on your toes all the time especially if your career in related to the field of IT: one has to stay updated with all the latest programs and their features in order to stay ahead of his peers. For instance, there was a time when Gramophone was the invention of the century but then it was replaced with mobile phones. Similarly, the invention of television and radio created quite a heap in the early 20th century but later on, the thunder was stolen by computers in the late 20th century.

In this day and age, computers and internet have become the center of attention. Consequently, IT has become the most popular field. IT experts are quite in demand these days; but with the emergence of new programs every other day, they have to keep up with the latest technology in order to stay ahead in the race. One way of staying ahead is the certification courses. These courses ensure that the candidate has attained all the latest knowledge and is ready to roll in the world of technology.

This article will discuss some of the most popular certification courses offered by Microsoft.

Microsoft Technology Associate

This is a certification course designed for the starters: people who want to start their line of business in the field of technology. Accordingly, it tests the fundamentals of IT and validates that the candidates have a basic understanding of the essentials. This course has been divided into three tracks and the candidates can choose any one of the tracks, depending on their preference. The tracks are: IT infrastructure, Database Design and Developer.

Microsoft MCSA- Windows Server 2008
This exam is designed for the IT personnel and it validates their skills in Server Networking management. IT professionals and System Administrators are suggested to take MCSA- Windows Server 2008 exam especially if they are looking forward to earning their MCSE certification.

Microsoft MCSA- Windows Server 2012
This certification exam is an advanced level exam which validates that the candidates have sufficient knowledge of Windows Server 2012 for its proper installation, configuration and working. MCSA- Windows Server 2012 certified can easily get the position of Network Administrator, Computer Systems Administrator or Computer Network Analyst.

Microsoft MCSE- Server Infrastructure
This certification course is designed for IT experts and it will get you the title of ‘Solutions Expert’. It tests individual’s skills in effectively and efficiently running a modern data center with some experience in virtualization storage and networking, identity management and systems management.

Microsoft MCSE- Desktop Infrastructure
This course validates that the individuals can manage desktops and devices, while maintaining their security and integrity, from anywhere around the globe. It also tests individuals’ expertise in application and desktop virtualization together with remote desktop services. With this certification in hand, you can easily qualify for a job of Data and Application Manager or Desktop and Device Support Manager.

Microsoft MCSE- Messaging
This certification is an expert level certification and it validates that the applicant has relevant skills in order to increase user productivity and flexibility. It also validates that the person has sufficient knowledge as to how to improve data security and reduce data loss. After passing this certification exam, candidates can easily qualify for the position of Network and Computer System Administrator.

Microsoft  MCSE- Communication
This certification validates candidates’ expertise in using Lync Server to create an effective communication path that can be accessed from all around the globe. This certification is also an expert level certification and you can easily qualify for the position of Network and Computer System Administrator with it.

Microsoft  MCSE- SharePoint

This Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification course verifies that the candidates have the necessary expertise to share, synchronize and organize the data across the organization. SharePoint 2013 is the updated version of Microsoft Office, and passing this certification can get you a job of Systems or Network Analyst.

Microsoft MCSD- SharePoint Application

This Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer certification course is another of expert level certification courses which validates individuals’ expertise in web programming. It also requires the individuals to design and develop applications with Microsoft SharePoint. With this certification, you can easily secure the position of Software Developer or Web Developer.

Microsoft Private Cloud

MCSE- Private Cloud certification course tests candidates’ expertise to manage Private Cloud computer technologies. It also verifies that the candidate can implement these technologies in a way to optimize service delivery. You can easily get the position of Server Administrator and Network Manager with this certification on your resume.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager
Microsoft System Center Certification focuses on the skills to manage computer and clients. The candidates should be able to configure, administer and deploy System Center 2012 in order to pass this exam. You can earn the title of Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist through this certification.

Microsoft Server Virtualization
This certification verifies that the candidate is familiar with Server Virtualization, both on Windows Server and System Center. This course expands individual’s expertise and skills in order for him to meet the rapidly modernizing technological business needs, and it can get him the title of Microsoft Specialist in no time.

Microsoft Office Certifications
Microsoft offers many certifications that verify candidates’ skills in handling and using Microsoft Office Applications. These certifications start from beginners level and go up to the master level. Microsoft Office Specialist is a beginner level certification whereas Microsoft Office Specialist Expert is an advanced level certification. Last but not the least; Microsoft Office Specialist Master is a master level certification.

Microsoft MCSA- Office 365
This course focuses on individual’s skills in handling Office 365 together with productivity tools and cloud-based collaboration. This certification can easily get you the position of Cloud Application Administrator or SaaS Administrator.

Microsoft Dynamics

This Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist certification confirms an individual’s expertise in Microsoft dynamics: a specific module can be chosen for this certification. However, this certification will be withdrawn from the market, at the end of this year, and replaced with the new ones.

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Windows XP hack resurrects patches for retired OS

But security researcher who tried the hack isn’t sure the fixes will actually keep exploits at bay

A simple hack of Windows XP tricks Microsoft’s update service into delivering patches intended for a close cousin of the aged OS, potentially extending support for some components until 2019, a security researcher confirmed today.

What’s unclear is whether those patches actually protect a Windows XP PC against cyber criminals’ exploits.

The hack, which has circulated since last week — first on a German-language discussion forum, then elsewhere as word spread — fools Microsoft’s Windows Update service into believing that the PC is actually running a close relation of XP, called “Windows Embedded POSReady 2009.”

Unlike Windows XP, which was retired from security support April 8 and no longer receives patches, Embedded POSReady 2009 is due patches until April 9, 2019.

As its name implies, POSReady 2009 is used as the OS for devices such as cash registers — aka point-of-sale systems — and ATMs. Because it’s based on Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3), the last supported version of the 13-year-old OS, its security patches are a superset of those that would have been shipped to XP users if support was still in place. Many of POSReady 2009’s patches are similar, if not identical, to those still offered to enterprises and governments that have paid Microsoft for post-retirement XP support.

Jerome Segura, a senior security researcher at Malwarebytes, an anti-malware software vendor, tried out the hack and came away impressed.

“The system is stable, no crashes, no blue screens,” Segura said in an interview, talking about the Windows XP virtual machine whose updates he resurrected with the hack. “I saw no warnings or error messages when I applied patches for .Net and Internet Explorer 8.”

The Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) update Segura applied appeared to be the same one Microsoft released May 13 for other versions of Windows, including POSReady 2009, but did not deliver to Windows XP.

But although he has run the hacked XP for several days now without any noticeable problems, he wasn’t willing to give the trick a passing grade.

“[POSReady 2009] is not Windows XP, so we don’t know if its patches fully protect XP customers,” Segura said. “From an exploit point of view, when those vulnerabilities are exploited in the wild, will this patch protect PCs or will they be infected? That would be the ultimate proof.”

Microsoft, not surprisingly, took a dim view of the hack.

“We recently became aware of a hack that purportedly aims to provide security updates to Windows XP customers,” a company spokesperson said in an email. “The security updates that could be installed are intended for Windows Embedded and Windows Server 2003 customers and do not fully protect Windows XP customers. Windows XP customers also run a significant risk of functionality issues with their machines if they install these updates, as they are not tested against Windows XP.”


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Malicious Downloader’s calls out Microsoft

Anti-malware vendors advise about downloaders used to infect PCs

Microsoft is placing makers of downloader software on observe when it sees that their softwares are getting used to infect PCs, and it is effective anti-virus vendors that maybe these downloader agenda ought to be tagged as malware.

In its latest Security Intelligence Report the corporation comments that the use of previously benign downloaders has ever more become a means to infect computers with malware, mainly click-fraud programs and ransomware in which assailant extort cash from wounded in return for return their equipment to a useful state.

As part of its manufacturing teamwork, Microsoft shares the data it gathers from its clients about infections with related parties. In this case it tells the downloader makers in hopes they can restrict use of their products to legitimate purposes.

It tells anti-malware vendors so they are aware that certain downloaders represent a threat and should be removed from computers protected by their products, says Holly Stewart, a senior program manager in Microsoft’s Malware defense Center.

A downloader called Rotbrow was the one mainly often used to help malicious actions throughout the last partially of 2013, most usually by downloading a click-fraud app called Sefnit. Before that Rotbrow didn’t record at all as a tool use by attackers, Stewart says.

characteristically the downloaders are bundled with useful freeware such as software to unzip archive. The downloaders might be used legitimately to download updates to the unzip programs, or to download malware, Stewart says.

The dominant types of malware Microsoft observed being downloaded in this way during the last half of 2013 were BitCoin miners and click-fraud programs.

Bitcoin miners run in the background of infected computers to confirm and process Bitcoin transactions in exchange for earning Bitcoins. The attacker reaps the Bitcoins earned by the infected computers. Click fraud forces the infected computer’s browser to automatically click on advertisements that earn cash for each click logged. In both cases indication of the infections can decrease performance of the engine involved.

Microsoft also experimental the proliferation of ransomware, with one called Reveton important the pack and enjoying a 45% raise in use during the last half of 2013, Stewart says. The need to disinfect Microsoft computers of ransomware tripled during the same time period, according to the Security Intelligence Report.

Microsoft procedures prevalence of malware by including the number of computers cleaned per 1,000 computers that are execute Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool. For ransomware in general, that count rose from 5.6 to 17.8 between the third and fourth quarters of last year, Stewart says.

Ransomware attacker’s goal picky regions with particular ransomware platforms, she says. For example, the one called Crilock is aimed mostly at computers in the U.S. and U.K. while Reveton aims at the likes of Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Hungary and Austria.

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