Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

The Big Question Rises How To Become Microsoft, Cisco, ComTIA Certified

The big question rises how to become the Microsoft certified , All Microsoft certifications are acquired by simply taking a series of exams. If you can self-study for said exams, and then pass them, then you can acquire the certification for the mere cost of the exam (and maybe whatever self-study materials you purchase).

You’ll also need, at minimum (in addition to the MCTS), the CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+ certs; as well as the Cisco CCNA cert.

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) – This is the basic entry point of Microsoft Certifications. You only need to pass a single certification test to be considered an MCTS and there are numerous different courses and certifications that would grant you this after passing one. If you are shooting for some of the higher certifications that will be discussed below, then you’ll get this on your way there.

Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) – This certification was Microsoft’s previous “Developer Certification” meaning that this was the highest certification that was offered that consisted strictly of development-related material. Receiving it involved passing four exams within specific areas (based on the focus of your certification). You can find the complete list of courses and paths required for the MCPD here.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) – This is Microsoft’s most recent “Developer Certification” which will replace the MCPD Certification (which is being deprecated / retired in July of 2013). The MCSD focuses within three major areas of very recent Microsoft development technologies and would likely be the best to persue if you wanted to focus on current and emerging skills that will be relevant in the coming years. You can find the complete list of courses and paths required for the MCSD here.

The Microsoft Certifications that you listed are basically all of the major ones within the realm of development. I’ll cover each of the major ones and what they are :

Most people, however, take some kind of course. Some colleges — especially career and some community colleges — offer such courses (though usually they’re non-credit). Other providers of such courses are private… some of them Microsoft Certified vendors of one type or another, who offer the courses in such settings as sitting around a conference table in their offices. Still others specialize in Microsoft certification training, and so have nice classrooms set up in their offices.

There are also some online (and other forms of distance learning) courses to help prepare for the exams.

The cost of taking classes to prepare can vary wildly. Some are actually free (or very nearly so), while others can cost hundreds of dollars. It all just depends on the provider.

And here’s a Google search of MCTS training resources (which can be mind-numbing in their sheer numbers and types, so be careful what you choose):

There are some pretty good, yet relatively inexpensive, ways to get vendor certificate training. Be careful not to sign-up for something expensive and involved when something cheaper — like subscribing to an “all the certificates you care to study for one flat rate” web site — would, in addition to purchasing a study guide or two at a bookstore, likely be better.

If you want a career in IT, then you need to have both an accredited degree in same (preferably a bachelors over an associates), and also a variety of IT certifications. The MCTS is but one that you will need.

You should probably also get the Microsoft MCSE and/or MCSA. The ICS CISSP. And the ITIL.

There are others, but if you have those, you’ll be evidencing a broad range of IT expertise that will be useful, generally. Then, in addition, if the particular IT job in which you end-up requires additional specialist certification, then you can get that, too (hopefully at the expense of your employer who requires it of you).

Then, whenever (if ever) you’re interested in a masters in IT, here’s something really cool of which you should be aware…

There’s a big (and fully-accredited, fully-legitimate) university in Australia which has partnered with Microsoft and several other vendors to structure distance learning degrees which include various certifications; and in which degrees, considerable amounts of credit may be earned simply by acquiring said certifications. It’s WAY cool.

One can, for example, get up to half of the credit toward a Masters degree in information technology by simply getting an MCSE (though the exams which make it up must be certain ones which correspond with the university’s courses). I’ve always said that if one were going to get an MCSE, first consult the web site of this university and make sure that one takes the specific MCSE exams that this school requires so that if ever one later decided to enter said school’s masters program, one will have already earned up to half its degree’s credits by simply having the MCSE under his/her belt. Is that cool, or what?

I wouldn’t rely on them over experience (which is far and away the most valuable asset out there) but they are worth pursuing especially if you don’t feel like you have enough experience and need to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills to land a position as a developer.

If you are going to pursue a certification, I would recommend going after the MCSD (Web Applications Track) as it is a very recent certification that focuses on several emerging technologies that will still be very relevant (if not more-so) in the coming years. You’ll pick up the MCTS along the way and then you’ll have both of those under your belt. MCPD would be very difficult to achieve based on the short time constraints (passing four quite difficult tests within just a few months is feasible, but I don’t believe that it is worth it since it will be “retired” soon after).

No job experience at all is necessary for any of the Microsoft Certifications, you can take them at any time as long as you feel confident enough with the materials of the specific exam you should be fine. The tests are quite difficult by most standards and typically cover large amounts of material, but with what it sounds like a good bit of time to study and prepare you should be fine.

Certifications, in addition to degrees, are so important in the IT field, now, that one may almost no longer get a job in that field without both. The certifications, though, are so important that one who has a little IT experience can get a pretty good job even without a degree as long as he has all the right certs. But don’t do that. Definitely get the degree… and not merely an associates. Get the bachelors in IT; and make sure it’s from a “regionally” accredited school.

Then get the certs I mentioned (being mindful, if you think you’ll ever get an IT masters, to take the specific exams that that Strut masters program requires so that you’ll have already earned up to half the credit just from the certs).

If you already have two years of experience in working in the .NET environment, a certification isn’t going to guarantee that you will get employed, a salary increase or any other bonuses for achieving the honor. However, it can help supplement your resume by indicating that you are familiar with specific technologies enough to apply them in real-world applications to solve problems.

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70-481 Essentials of Developing Windows Metro style Apps using HTML5 and JavaScript

QUESTION 1
You are preparing to write code that configures a CredentialPicker object. The code should allow
for platinum members to save their user credentials according to business authentication
prerequisites.
Which of the following is the property that should be included in your code?

A. The PreviousCredential property.
B. The AuthenticationProtocol property.
C. The CredentialSaveOption property.
D. The TargetName property.

Answer: C

Explanation:


QUESTION 2
You are preparing to write code that enforces the technical search capabilities requirements.
Which of the following is a method that should be included in your code?

A. The appendSearchSeparator method.
B. The appendResultSuggestion method.
C. The appendQuerySuggestions(suggestions) method.
D. The appendQuerySuggestion(text) method.

Answer: C

Explanation:


QUESTION 3
You have been instructed to make sure that customers and visitors are shown in keeping with the
prerequisites. You are preparing to write the necessary code.
Which of the following should be included in your code?

A. The CommitButtonText property of the ContactPicker class.
B. The SelectionMode property of the ContactPicker class.
C. The Email property of the ContactPicker class.
D. The DesiredFields property of the ContactPicker class.

Answer: D

Explanation:


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70-489 Developing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Advanced Solutions


QUESTION 1
You have been tasked with configuring filtering as per the prerequisites.
Which of the following actions should you take?

A. You should consider making use of the itemCategory;category filtering option.
B. You should consider making use of the itemID;num filtering option.
C. You should consider making use of the itemCategory;itemID filtering option.
D. You should consider making use of the itemID;itemCategory filtering option.

Answer: D

Explanation:


QUESTION 2
You are preparing to establish the reason for an error message being presented when adding the
custom Visual Web Part to a SharePoint site.
Which of the following actions should you take?

A. You should consider making use of the Get-SPLogEvent cmdlet.
B. You should consider making use of the New-SPUsageLogFile cmdlet.
C. You should consider making use of the New-SPLogFile cmdlet.
D. You should consider making use of the Get-SPLogLevel cmdlet.

Answer: A

Explanation:


QUESTION 3
You are preparing to write code to create the tool that supports social connections.
Which of the following is a class of the Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Social namespace that should
be included in the code?

A. The SocialFollowingManager class.
B. The SocialFeedManager class.
C. The SocialActorInfo class.
D. The SocialPostActorInfo class.

Answer: C

Explanation:


QUESTION 4
You are preparing to configure caching in keeping with the prerequisites.
Which of the following actions should you take?

A. You should consider making use of the System File Cache option.
B. You should consider making use of the Cache API option.
C. You should consider making use of the Windows Server AppFabric Cache option.
D. You should consider making use of the Page Output Cache Cache option.

Answer: C

Explanation:


QUESTION 5
You are preparing to make sure that those users who access the site via their Windows phones,
receive notification regarding the newly created Windows phone app.
Which of the following actions should you take FIRST?

A. You should consider modifying the Phone master page.
B. You should consider modifying the Tablet master page.
C. You should consider modifying the Default master page.
D. You should consider setting the IncludedChannels property to Default.

Answer: C

Explanation:


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Best Top-Paying and most in demand for Certifications 2014 – 2015

Best Top-Paying and most in demand for Certifications 2014 – 2015

Introduction
It’s always a good idea to take stock of your skills, your pay, and your certifications. To that end, following is a review of 15 of the top-paying certifications for 2014. With each certification, you’ll find the average (mean) salary and a brief description.

Based on the 2014 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Global Knowledge and Penton and completed in October 2013, the rankings below are derived from certifications that received the minimum number of responses to be statistically relevant. Certain certifications pay more but are not represented due to their exclusive nature. Examples include Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) and VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX). This was a nationwide survey, and variations exist based on where you work, years of experience, and company type (government, non profit, etc.).

1. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) – $118,253
The non-profit group ISACA offers CRISC certification, much in the way that CompTIA manages the A+ and Network+ certifications. Formerly, “ISACA” stood for Information Systems Audit and Control Association, but now they’ve gone acronym only.

The CRISC certification is designed for IT professionals, project managers, and others whose job it is to identify and manage risks through appropriate Information Systems (IS) controls, covering the entire lifecycle, from design to implementation to ongoing maintenance. It measures two primary areas: risk and IS controls. Similar to the IS control lifecycle, the risk area spans the gamut from identification and assessment of the scope and likelihood of a particular risk to monitoring for it and responding to it if/when it occurs.

Since CRISC’s introduction in 2010, more than 17,000 people worldwide have earned this credential, The demand for people with these skills and the relatively small supply of those who have them result in this being the highest salary for any certification on our list this year.

To obtain CRISC certification, you must have at least three years of experience in at least three of the five areas that the certification covers, and you must pass the exam, which is only offered twice a year. This is not a case where you can just take a class and get certified. Achieving CRISC certification requires effort and years of planning.

2. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – $114,844

ISACA also created CISM certification. It’s aimed at management more than the IT professional and focuses on security strategy and assessing the systems and policies in place more than it focuses on the person who actually implements those policies using a particular vendor’s platform.

More than 23,000 people have been certified since its introduction in 2002, making it a highly sought after area with a relatively small supply of certified individuals. In addition, the exam is only offered three times a year in one of approximately 240 locations, making taking the exam more of a challenge than many other certification exams. It also requires at least five years of experience in IS, with at least three of those as a security manager. As with CRISC, requirements for CISM certification demand effort and years of planning.

3. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) – $112,040
The third highest-paying certification is also from ISACA; this one is for IS auditors. CISA certification is ISACA’s oldest, dating back to 1978, with more than 106,000 people certified since its inception. CISA certification requires at least five years of experience in IS auditing, control, or security in addition to passing an exam that is only offered three times per year.

The CISA certification is usually obtained by those whose job responsibilities include auditing, monitoring, controlling, and/or assessing IT and/or business systems. It is designed to test the candidate’s ability to manage vulnerabilities, ensure compliance with standards, and propose controls, processes, and updates to a company’s policies to ensure compliance with accepted IT and business standards.

4. Six Sigma Green Belt – $109,165
Six Sigma is a process of analyzing defects (anything outside a customer’s specifications) in a production (manufacturing) process, with a goal of no more than 3.4 defects per million “opportunities” or chances for a defect to occur. The basic idea is to measure defects, analyze why they occurred, and then fix the issue and repeat. There is a process for improving existing processes and a slightly modified version for new processes or major changes. Motorola pioneered the concept in the mid-1980s, and many companies have since followed their examples to improve quality.

This certification is different from the others in this list, as it is not IT specific. Instead, it is primarily focused on manufacturing and producing better quality products.

There is no organization that owns Six Sigma certification per se, so the specific skills and number of levels of mastery vary depending on which organization or certifying company is used. Still, the entry level is typically Green Belt and the progression is to Black Belt and Master Black Belt. Champions are responsible for Six Sigma projects across the entire organization and report to senior management.

5. Project Management Professional (PMP) – $108,525
The PMP certification was created and is administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), and it is the most recognized project management certification available. There are more than half a million active PMPs in 193 countries worldwide.

The PMP certification exam tests five areas relating to the lifecycle of a project: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. PMP certification is for running any kind of project, and it is not specialized into sub types, such as manufacturing, construction, or IT.

To become certified, individuals must have 35 hours of PMP-related training along with 7,500 hours of project management experience (if they have less than a bachelor’s degree) or 4,500 hours of project management experience with a bachelor’s or higher. PMP certification is another that requires years of planning and effort.

6. Certified Scrum Master – $107,396
Another project management-related certification, Certified Scrum Master is focused on software (application) development.

Scrum is a rugby term; it’s a means for restarting a game after a minor rules violation or after the ball is no longer in play (for example, when it goes out of bounds). In software development, Scrum is a project management process that is designed to act in a similar manner for software (application development) projects in which a customer often changes his or her mind during the development process.

In traditional project management, the request to change something impacts the entire project and must be renegotiated-a time-consuming and potentially expensive way to get the changes incorporated. There is also a single project manager.

In Scrum, however, there is not a single project manager. Instead, the team works together to reach the stated goal. The team should be co-located so members may interact frequently, and it should include representatives from all necessary disciplines (developers, product owners, experts in various areas required by the application, etc.).

Where PMP tries to identify everything up front and plan for a way to get the project completed, Scrum takes the approach that the requirements will change during the project lifecycle and that unexpected issues will arise. Rather than holding up the process, Scrum takes the approach that the problem the application is trying to solve will never be completely defined and understood, so team members must do the best they can with the time and budget available and by quickly adapting to change.

So where does the Scrum Master fit in? Also known as a servant-leader, the Scrum Master has two main duties: to protect the team from outside influences that would impede the project (the servant) and to chair the meetings and encourage the team to continually improve (the leader).

Certified Scrum Master certification was created and is managed by the Scrum Alliance and requires the individual to attend a class taught by a certified Scrum trainer and to pass the associated exam.

7. Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer (CCEE) – $104,240
The CCEE certification is a legacy certification from Citrix that proves expertise in XenApp 6, XenDesktop 5, and XenServer 6 via the Citrix Certified Administrator (CCS) exams for each, the Citrix Certified Advanced Administrator (CCAA) for XenApp 6, and an engineering (advanced implementation-type) exam around implementing, securing, managing, monitoring, and troubleshooting a complete virtualization solution using Citrix products.

Those certified in this area are encouraged to upgrade their certification to the App and Desktop track instead, which focuses on just XenDesktop, taking one exam to become a Citrix Certified Professional – Apps and Desktops (CCP-AD). At this point though, the CCEE is available as long as the exams are available for the older versions of the products listed.

8. Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) for Citrix NetScaler - $103,904
The CCA for NetScaler certification has been discontinued for NetScaler 9, and those with a current certification are encouraged to upgrade to the new Citrix Certified Professional – Networking (CCP-N). In any case, those with this certification have the ability to implement, manage, and optimize NetScaler networking performance and optimization, including the ability to support app and desktop solutions. As the Citrix certification program is being overhauled, refer to http://training.citrix.com/cms/index.php/certification/ to view the certifications available, upgrade paths, etc.

9. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) – $103,822
The International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) created and manages CEH certification. It is designed to test the candidate’s abilities to prod for holes, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities in a company’s network defenses using techniques and methods that hackers employ. The difference between a hacker and a CEH is that a hacker wants to cause damage, steal information, etc., while the CEH wants to fix the deficiencies found. Given the many attacks, the great volume of personal data at risk, and the legal liabilities possible, the need for CEHs is quite high, hence the salaries offered.

10. ITIL v3 Foundation – $97,682
IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) was created by England’s government in the 1980s to standardize IT management. It is a set of best practices for aligning the services IT provides with the needs of the organization. It is broad based, covering everything from availability and capacity management to change and incident management, in addition to application and IT operations management.

It is known as a library because it is composed of a set of books. Over the last 30 years, it has become the most widely used framework for IT management in the world. ITIL standards are owned by AXELOS, a joint venture company created by the Cabinet Office on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and Capita plc, but they have authorized partners who provide education, training, and certification. The governing body defined the certification tiers, but they leave it to the accredited partners to develop the training and certification around that framework.

The Foundation certification is the entry-level one and provides a broad-based understanding of the IT lifecycle and the concepts and terminology surrounding it. Anyone wishing for higher-level certifications must have this level first, thus people may have higher certifications and still list this certification in the survey, which may skew the salary somewhat.

For information on ITIL in general, please refer to http://www.itil-officialsite.com/. Exams for certification are run by ITIL-certified examination institutes as previously mentioned; for a list of them, please refer to http://www.itil-officialsite.com/ExaminationInstitutes/ExamInstitutes.aspx.

11. Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) for Citrix XenServer – $97,578
The CCA for XenServer certification is available for version 6 and is listed as a legacy certification, but Citrix has yet to announce an upgrade path to their new certification structure. Those with a CCA for Citrix XenServer have the ability to install, configure, administer, maintain, and troubleshoot a XenServer deployment, including Provisioning Services. As the Citrix certification program is being overhauled, refer to http://training.citrix.com/cms/index.php/certification/ to view the certifications available, upgrade paths, etc.

12. ITIL Expert Certification – $96,194
The ITIL Expert certification builds on ITIL Foundation certification (see number 10 above). It is interesting that ITIL Expert pays less on average than ITIL Foundation certification. Again, I suspect the salary results may be somewhat skewed depending on the certifications actually held and the fact that everyone who is ITIL certified must be at least ITIL Foundation certified.

To become an ITIL Expert, you must pass the ITIL Foundation exam as well as the capstone exam, Managing Across the Lifecycle. Along the way, you will earn intermediate certifications of your choosing in any combination of the Lifecycle and Capability tracks. You must earn at least 22 credits, of which Foundation accounts for two and the Managing Across the Lifecycle exam counts for five. The other exams count for three each (in the Intermediate Lifecycle track) or four each (in the Intermediate Capability track) and can be earned in any order and combination, though the official guide suggests six recommended options. The guide is available at http://www.itil-officialsite.com/Qualifications/ITILQualificationScheme.aspx by clicking on the English – ITIL Qualification Scheme Brochure link.

13. Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) – $95,602
Cisco’s certification levels are Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect. Those who obtain this Associate-level certification are typically network design engineers, technicians, or support technicians. They are expected to design basic campus-type networks and be familiar with routing and switching, security, voice and video, wireless connectivity, and IP (both v4 and v6). They often work as part of a team with those who have higher-level Cisco certifications.

To achieve CCDA certification, you must have earned one of the following: Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT), the lowest-level certification and the foundation for a career in networking); Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching (CCNA R&S); or any Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), the highest level of certification at Cisco.
You must also pass a single exam.

14. Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) – $95,276
This certification ranked number 14 with an average salary of $95,505 for those who didn’t list an associated Windows version and $94,922 for those who listed MCSE on Windows 2003, for the weighted average of $95,276 listed above.

The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer is an old certification and is no longer attainable. It has been replaced by the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (yes, also MCSE). The Engineer certification was valid for Windows NT 3.51 – 2003, and the new Expert certification is for Windows 2012. There is an upgrade path if you are currently an MCSA or MCITP on Windows 2008. There is no direct upgrade path from the old MCSE to the new MCSE.

15. Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) for Citrix XenDesktop – $95,094
The CCA for XenDesktop certification is available for versions 4 (in Chinese and Japanese only) and 5 (in many languages including English). Those with a current certification are encouraged to upgrade to the new Citrix Certified Associate – Apps and Desktops (CCA-AD). In any case, those with this certification have the ability to install, administer, and troubleshoot a XenDesktop deployment, including Provisioning Services and the Desktop Delivery Controller as well as XenServer and XenApp. As the Citrix certification program is being overhauled, refer to http://training.citrix.com/cms/index.php/certification/ to view the certifications available, upgrade paths, etc.

Rounding Out the Top 25

A few popular certifications just missed the Top 15 cut due to a low total number of responses or an average (mean) pay just outside the threshold. Due to their popularity, I have included them for informational purposes.

Certification Average Pay
CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional $114,287

MCSE: Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer 2003 $94,922

RHCSA: Red Hat Certified System Administrator $94,802

VCP-DCV: VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization $94,515

JNCIA: Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate $94,492

MCTS: Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure Configuration $91,948

MCITP: Enterprise Administrator $91,280

CCNP: Cisco Certified Network Professional $90,833

WCNA: Wireshark Certified Network Analyst $88,716

CCNA R&S: Cisco Certified Network Associ te Routing and Switching $81,308


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70-331 Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013


QUESTION 1
You create a User Profile Synchronization connection. You need to grant the necessary
permissions to the synchronization account. What should you do?

A. Grant the account Full Control on the ActiveUsers OU.
B. Grant the account Full Control on the AuthenticatedUsers AD security group.
C. Grant the account Read permission on the domain.
D. Grant the account the Replicate Directory Changes permission on the domain.
Correct
Answer: D


QUESTION 2
You need to ensure that content authors can publish the specified files. What should you do?

A. Create multiple authoring site collections. Create a site that contains lists, document libraries,
and a Pages library. Create an asset library in a new site collection, and enable anonymous
access to the library on the publishing web application.
B. Create multiple authoring site collections. Create a site that contains lists, document libraries,
and a Pages library. Create an asset library in the authoring site collection, and enable
anonymous access to the library on the authoring web application.
C. Create one authoring site collection. Create a site that contains multiple lists, document
libraries, and Pages libraries. Create an asset library in a new site collection, and enable
anonymous access to the library on the publishing web application.
D. Create multiple authoring site collections. Create a site that contains multiple lists, document
libraries, and Pages libraries. Create an asset library in a new site collection, and enable
anonymous access to the library on the publishing web application.
Correct
Answer: B


QUESTION 3
HOTSPOT
You need to ensure that user-selected subscription content automatically appear on users’ My
Sites. Which configuration option should you choose? (To answer, select the appropriate option
in the answer area.)
Hot Area:

Correct Answer:


QUESTION 4
You need to import employee photos into SharePoint user profiles by using the least amount of
administrative effort. Which three actions should you perform? (Each correct answer presents
part of the solution. Choose three.)

A. Define a mapping for the thumbnailPhoto attribute of the Picture user profile property.
B. Run the Update-SPUserSolution Windows PowerShell cmdlet.
C. Run an incremental synchronization of the User Profile Synchronization service.
D. Run a full synchronization of the User Profile Synchronization service.
E. Run the Update-SPProfilePhotoStore Windows PowerShell cmdlet.
F. Define a mapping for the photo attribute of the Picture user profile property.
Correct
Answer: ADE


QUESTION 5
DRAG DROP
You need to install the appropriate versions of Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and
Microsoft .NET Framework in the server environment. Which operating system and applications
should you install? (To answer, drag the appropriate operating systems and applications to the
correct server layers in the answer area. Each operating system or application may be used once,
more than once, or not at all. You may need to drag the split bar between panes or scroll to view
content.)
Select and Place:

Correct Answer:


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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.

Software
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.

Display
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.

Performance
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.

Sound
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.

Camera
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.

Battery
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.

Specs
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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