Exam MB6-889 Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Service Management

Published: April 26, 2012
Languages: English
Audiences: Information workers
Technology: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012
Credit toward certification: MCTS

Skills measured
This exam measures your ability to accomplish the technical tasks listed below. The percentages indicate the relative weight of each major topic area on the exam. The higher the percentage, the more questions you are likely to see on that content area on the exam. View video tutorials about the variety of question types on Microsoft exams.

Please note that the questions may test on, but will not be limited to, the topics described in the bulleted text.

Do you have feedback about the relevance of the skills measured on this exam? Please send Microsoft your comments. All feedback will be reviewed and incorporated as appropriate while still maintaining the validity and reliability of the certification process. Note that Microsoft will not respond directly to your feedback. We appreciate your input in ensuring the quality of the Microsoft Certification program.

If you have concerns about specific questions on this exam, please submit an exam challenge.

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Manage service agreements (13%)
Create a service agreement header
Understand the use and impact of project management, project accounting and validation settings; set up project or category validation; set up or use service agreement groups; create service agreement headers
Create service agreement lines
Create new service agreement lines, search for service agreement lines to copy, understand the concept of service objects, set up service object groups, create service tasks, create service object relations or service task relations, specify service task notes
Create a service agreement from another source
Copy lines from another service agreement, create service templates and service template groups, copy a service template into a service agreement, create a service agreement from a sales order

Preparation resources
Working with service agreements [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
Create service agreements [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
Create service-agreement lines manually [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]

Manage service orders (13%)
Set up service parameters
Define settings for service order creation, set up service order default activities, set up service stages, set up and view stage reason codes
Create a service order manually
Create service order headers, create service orders or service order lines manually, create service object relations or service task relations with service orders, create CRM activities when creating service orders
Create a service order automatically
Combine service orders, describe service intervals, describe and use time windows, create a service order from a service agreement or sales order
Manage a service order
Process service orders; create item requirements; cancel or delete service orders; post a service order from a service order, service agreement, or project; post a service order to a project; invoice service orders

Preparation resources
Create service orders manually [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
Create or modify service orders and repair lines [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
Create service orders automatically [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]

Manage Service Level Agreements (SLAs) (12%)
Set up SLAs
Create SLAs, view information about SLAs and service orders, create service agreement groups, filter service agreements by group
Set up time recording
Start, stop, and restart time recording; create reason codes; understand the process of service order sign-off; define the different service order stages; use service order stages to stop time recording

Preparation resources
About Service Level Agreements [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
Create service agreement groups [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]

Manage the Service Dispatcher (14%)
Set up the Dispatch board
Set a preferred technician, create activity types, create dispatch teams and assign resources, describe the concept of color-based priorities, set the default date interval on the Dispatch board
Manage service orders by using the Dispatch board
Describe service order integration, create new service orders and assign activity types, set a default start time on service order headers, set default values on service orders
Manage activities by using the Dispatch board
Describe activity management in the Dispatch board, create activities on lines, perform typical activity actions, assign time values to activities, reassign activities, change time assignments, monitor activities, view undispatched activities, jump between forms to view activities

Preparation resources
About the Dispatch board [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
Set up service activity types [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
Dispatch board (form) [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]

Manage repairs (12%)
Set up a management process
Understand the repair management process; set up or define symptom areas, symptom codes, and conditions for specified symptoms; set up diagnosis areas and diagnosis codes
Diagnose and repair
Set up resolutions and repair stages, create and finish repair lines, create service order transactions for repairs

Preparation resources
About repair management [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
Service management – Repair configuration key (SMARepair) [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
View service repair lines [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]

Manage bills of materials (BOMs) versioning (11%)
Create and modify a template BOM
Create or modify template BOMs
Create and modify a service BOM
Create service BOMs, describe the functions available for service BOMs, move a service BOM from one service object relation to another, update service BOMs, view service BOM reports, replace component items, modify service BOMs by using the BOM Designer

Preparation resources
Create a template BOM [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
Setting up and maintaining bills of materials [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
Modify a service BOM [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]

Manage service subscriptions (12%)
Create and modify subscriptions and transactions
Create subscription groups, subscription fee categories, or subscriptions; create and invoice projects; create or adjust subscription fee transactions; set up or update an indexed base price for a subscription
Manage subscription revenue
Invoice subscription fee transactions, create credit notes for subscription transactions, accrue revenue from subscription fee transactions, reverse subscription accruals, examine ledger transactions and posting of accrued revenue, set up subscription parameters

Preparation resources
About service subscriptions [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
About subscription groups [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]
Accrue subscription revenue [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]

Manage services in the Enterprise Portal (13%)
Manage service orders in the Enterprise Portal for technicians
Describe service order management in the Enterprise Portal; create, access, or edit service orders; create or edit service order lines; create repair lines; view repair lines, object relation lines, and task relation lines; view service agreements; describe Role Center concepts
Manage service orders in the Enterprise Portal for customers
Access and view the status of service orders in the Enterprise Portal, create service orders, view subscriptions, review web service orders, transfer web service orders to the service orders form

Preparation resources
What’s new: Enterprise Portal in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012
About Enterprise Portal roles and user groups
Verify a service web order and assign it to a technician [Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012]

You are reviewing a service order to determine whether it is in compliance with the associated service level agreement.
What does the Compliance value shown in the service order header represent?

A. The number of hours of work completed on the service order.
B. The percentage of hours remaining compared to the limit of the service level agreement.
C. The percentage of hours completed on the service order compared to the limit of the service level agreement.
D. The number of hours remaining within the limit of the service level agreement.

Answer: C


You are configuring service level agreements in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.
What is the purpose of the Calendar setting on a service level agreement?

A. To determine whether a service order can be automatically created for the service agreement
B. To determine the start time of an incoming service order.
C. To determine the sign-off date of an incoming service order.
D. To determine whether the status of an incoming service order will be set to Started.

Answer: A


You suspend a service level agreement (SLA) in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.
What is the result?

A. The SLA cannot be assigned to service agreements or service agreement groups.
B. The SLA cannot be assigned to service agreements but can be assigned to service agreement groups
C. The SLA cannot be assigned to service agreements but can be assigned to service orders.
D. The SLA cannot be assigned to service agreements or service orders.

Answer: A


Which of the following is a result of cancelling the service level agreement on a service order in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012?

A. The service order is signed off.
B. The status is set to blank.
C. The time recording records are deleted.
D. The service stage is set to Cancel.

Answer: C


You are working with service orders in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.
In which situation will advancing the service order stage stop time recording?

A. If Stop time recording is selected for the service stage.
B. If the service order has no lines.
C. If the service order stage is changed to Cancel.
D. If Cancel is selected for the service stage.

Answer: A


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Exam 98-379 Software Testing Fundamentals

Published: September 20, 2013
Languages: English
Audiences: Academic Technology:
Microsoft Visual Studio 2012
Credit toward certification: Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)

Skills measured
This exam measures your ability to accomplish the technical tasks listed below. The percentages indicate the relative weight of each major topic area on the exam. The higher the percentage, the more questions you are likely to see on that content area on the exam. View video tutorials about the variety of question types on Microsoft exams.

Please note that the questions may test on, but will not be limited to, the topics described in the bulleted text.

Do you have feedback about the relevance of the skills measured on this exam? Please send Microsoft your comments. All feedback will be reviewed and incorporated as appropriate while still maintaining the validity and reliability of the certification process. Note that Microsoft will not respond directly to your feedback. We appreciate your input in ensuring the quality of the Microsoft Certification program.

If you have concerns about specific questions on this exam, please submit an exam challenge.

Describe testing fundamentals (15-20%)
Describe software testing
Measure software quality and testing benefits
Describe software and hardware components
Distinguish operating systems, network, data, and hardware and software and their interaction and dependencies
Describe fundamentals of programming
Data types; distinguish programming languages, such as compiled or interpreted; and analyze simple algorithms
Describe application lifecycle management
Agile, waterfall, spiral, product and project lifecycles

Describe testing methodology (10-15%)
Describe testing techniques
Manual testing, automated testing, distinguish black box and white box testing
Describe testing levels
Unit, component, and integration testing
Describe testing types
Functional, performance structural, regression, security, stress, accessibility, usability, and localization testing

Create software tests (20-25%)
Describe user-centric testing
Business need and issues, customer requirements, and scenarios
Describe software testability
Test-driven development and testing hooks
Create test plan components
Test schedule, scope, methodology, scenarios, and tools
Describe feature tests
Distinguish the functionality in the appropriate feature test
Define appropriately scoped test cases
Boundary conditions, level of detail, and validity

Manage software testing projects (15-20%)
Describe testing milestones
Process fundamentals, exit criteria, and sign off
Describe the agile process
Scrum, kanban, and sprint management
Work with distributed teams
Communication, risk management, schedule management, and delivery process
Define test reports
Define appropriate status and project report components, define reporting cadence to meet project milestones, identify appropriate recipients for various report types

Work with bugs (15-20%)
Detect software defects
Executing test cases, running automation scripts
Log bugs
Priority, severity, dependency, and repro steps
Manage bugs
Triage, resolution, closing, monitoring, and bug summary reports

Automate software testing (10-15%)
Describe test automation
Benefits, candidates for automation, and automation process
Define test automation strategies
Code coverage, logging, and automation priority
Write automation tests
Logic, error handling, commenting, and virtual machines
Manage test scripts
Smoke test, build verification test, and lab management


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Apple’s Mac continues to buck PC industry’s contraction trend

As the overall PC business telescoped by 8-11%, Apple grew Mac shipments by 6% in 2015

While the personal computer business overall contracted another 8% to 11% in 2015, Apple continued to grow shipments of its Mac line, one of only two manufacturers in the top five to do so throughout the year, according to estimates from researchers IDC and Gartner.

Global PC shipments during 2015 declined by 11%, said IDC, or 8% by Gartner’s measurements. The difference in the two estimates stemmed from the ways each firm tallied shipments: IDC did not include so-called “2-in-1” devices, tablets that offer detachable keyboards, such as Apple’s iPad Pro, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and the Windows-powered alternatives crafted by OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners; Gartner included those form factors in its count.

However, Apple again went against the grain — a practice it’s been good at during the four-years-and-counting contraction of the industry — by shipping an estimated 5.7 million Macs in the fourth quarter of 2015 and 21 million during the 12 months of last year.

Mac shipments in 2015 increased by about 6% compared to the year before, IDC and Gartner both concluded. The only other OEM to boost sales last year was Asus, which according to IDC grew its shipments by 1%. (Gartner forecast Asus shipments as -3%.)

Apple will disclose its fourth-quarter Mac sales figures on Jan. 26 when it holds its next earnings call with Wall Street. If IDC’s and Gartner’s projections for the Cupertino, Calif. company’s Mac shipments are accurate, Apple will have set a fourth-quarter record for computer sales. The researcher pair pegged Mac growth at about 3% for the quarter.

Apple will need to beat the IDC and Gartner estimates to establish a new single-quarter record for Mac sales, however, as both firms’ forecasts for the fourth quarter are below the current record of 5.7 million Macs sold in the September 2015 quarter.

Mac shipments bucked the industry’s trend even though their prices remain significantly higher than the average. “Apple’s emergence as a top five global PC vendor in 2015 shows that there can be strong demand for innovative, even premium-priced systems, that put user experience first,” said IDC analyst Jay Chou in a statement.


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Microsoft will cut some Azure compute prices

The cloud pricing race to the bottom continues

Good news for businesses using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform: their infrastructure bills may be shrinking come February.

Microsoft announced that it will be permanently reducing the prices for its Dv2 compute instances by up to 17 percent next month, depending on the type of instance and what it’s being used for. Users will see the greatest savings if they’re running higher performance Linux instances — up to 17 percent lower prices than they’ve been paying previously. Windows instance discounts top out at a 13 percent reduction compared to current prices.

Right now, the exact details of the discount are a little bit vague, but Microsoft says that it will publish full pricing details in February when they go into effect. Dv2 instances are designed for applications that require more compute power and temporary disk performance than Microsoft’s A series instances.

They’re the successor to Azure’s D-series VMs, and come with processors that are 35 percent faster than their predecessors. Greater speed also corresponds to a higher price, but these discounts will make Dv2-series instances more price competitive with their predecessors. That’s good news for price-conscious users, who may be more inclined to reach for the higher-performance instances now that they’ll be cheaper.

The price changes come after Amazon earlier this week introduced scheduled compute instances, which let users pick out a particular time for their workloads to run on a regular basis, and get discounts based on when they decide to use the system. It’s a system that’s designed to help businesses that need computing power for routine tasks at non-peak times get a discount.

Microsoft’s announcement builds on the company’s longstanding history of reducing prices for Azure in keeping with Amazon’s price cuts in order to remain competitive. Odds are we’ll see several more of these cuts in the coming year as the companies continue to duel to try and pick up new users and get existing users to expand their usage of the cloud.

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Five ways your startup is screwed

The founders of failed startups share lessons learned along the way — and signs of impending doom they wish they’d spotted sooner

Building a startup is risky business. For every Facebook, Google, or Uber, there are hundreds of once-brilliant-seeming companies that entered the tech landscape with great fanfare — only to fizzle out and fade away a matter of months later.

We tend to hear about these failures far less frequently than the successes — that’s a shame, because there are important lessons to be learned from those who tried and fell flat on their faces. Lucky for us, a venture capital database company called CB Insights took it upon itself to track and compile the many postmortem emails, blog posts, and interviews startup founders have shared over the past couple of years. Boy, do those missives contain fascinating insights.

I sifted through all the tear-shedding, blame-shifting, and self-flogging to find some of the more telling themes from these sorrowful tales (setting aside the obvious stuff like running out of money or building a product that people flat-out rejected). You might recognize one of these signs from a startup you know today. Or, given that IT projects are often like microstartups within an organization, you might learn a lesson or two about how not to steer your project straight into the ground.

Failure sign No. 1: You don’t have a strong and consistent focus

Knowing what a business is all about means everything — especially in the critical early months when a startup is working to find its footing. If you see a startup without a strong focus — or with a focus that keeps changing or expanding — it might be time to start worrying. It’s a lesson numerous founders have learned the hard way.

“We were trying to do everything for everybody,” writes Yash Kotak, founder of the failed startup Lumos. “We were making switches that could automate your lights, fans, ACs, and water heaters. We would have tried to automate your TV, fridge, oven, and car as well, had it been feasible to do so.”

The issue, Kotak says, isn’t that it’s inherently bad to pursue multiple angles; it’s that you can spread your resources only so thin before they get tight — and that’s when something is bound to snap. Sound familiar?

“As a startup, you are constrained in resources,” he reflects. “So it is always better to identify and solve one problem very well instead of solving n problems in a so-so way.”

Thor Fridriksson had similar struggles at his now-defunct startup, Pumodo. As he recalls it, he and his cohorts got “tangled in the hype machine” and made the same mistake of being mediocre at a bunch of things instead of being exceptionally great at one.

“Our business plan was changing every week,” Fridriksson writes. “We went from focusing only on football to becoming [an] app for all sports.”

Pumodo’s mantra, according to Fridriksson, was “think bigger” — a plan that also didn’t pan out for Jeanette Cajide, founder of folded mobile app Blurtt (yes, Blurtt).

“Ideas are a dime a dozen; the difference is in the execution,” Cajide notes. She should know: Her startup went through four different business models before finally calling it quits.

That brings us to our next sign that something might be amiss…

Failure sign No. 2: Your vision’s been twisted out of your control

Blurtt started out as a place where you could pay two bucks to create a custom physical postcard from your phone and have it sent to someone in the mail. A year later, it shifted its model to being a free service supported by ads on the back of each printed postcard.

A year after that, the company pivoted again and became a “mobile platform of micro-gifting and greeting cards” — whatever that means. Soon thereafter, it tossed that idea aside and tried to convince people to download its app for creating digital “blurtts,” which were basically images with text-based captions stamped on top. (Where have we seen that before?)

“In the end, the passion and magic was lost,” Cajide says. “Remember why you started this in the first place and never lose sight of it, because once it becomes something you are not happy doing, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

Speaking of which, remember Secret? It was an anonymous message-sharing tool that was all the rage among Silicon Valley insiders for a few minutes in 2014. It was also a startup with serious money under its belt: a valuation of more than $100 million at its peak.

But all that cash couldn’t keep the train a-chuggin’: After struggling to deal with complaints of bullying and baseless rumormongering (gee, who woulda thunk on an anonymous message-sharing app?) — and simultaneously facing a troubling trend of declining use — the company shut down and returned its money to investors after a mere 16 months on the market.

Secret went through several evolutions along the way, shifting its design and philosophy to try to address complaints and keep everyone happy. In the end, its co-founder, David Byttow, said the startup was no longer the entity he had set out to build.

“Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company,” he wrote, “so I believe [shutting down is] the right decision for myself, our investors, and our team.”

A loss of original vision was also blamed for the collapse of ProtoExchange, an outsourcing marketplace for hardware engineering, as well as for the downfall of Digital Royalty, a social media strategy startup that underwent “sizable shifts” in the months leading up to its shutdown.

“Some of these shifts were in our control and some were not,” its founder, Amy Jo, eulogized. “In order to honor our core values, which have been the epicenter of our culture, we have decided to hang up our crown.”

Pour one out for our crownless homies.

Failure sign No. 3: You aren’t ready for success

Some startups have stellar ideas but lack the resources or know-how to execute them. And — you guessed it — that dangerously spicy combination doesn’t exactly create a foundation for long-term success.

Ask Martin Erlić, whose startup UDesign went from promising new concept to kaput old company in the span of a single year.

The idea sounds solid: UDesign was an app that’d make it simple to create your own pattern and use it on a custom piece of clothing. Neato, right? But instead of hiring experienced programmers, Erlić and his partners in crime decided to “wing it” and do the dirty work themselves.

“What ended up happening was that we spent everything we could have spent on polishing the product … on marketing instead,” he explains. “We thought we could trick people now and make up for it later. Wrong.”

Flash without function — an age-old tale. It’s one Attila Szigeti, founder of startup flop ratemyspeech.co, also knows well.

“We only had a crude prototype but no amazing product, and we couldn’t attract [a] considerable number of users,” he recalls.

Some startups don’t even get that far. Jeremy Bell’s former company, Wattage, was supposed to make it easy for anyone to come up with an idea for an electronic device — dragging and dropping components like buttons, sensors, speakers, and displays into an online creation tool — then have the gadget manufactured and delivered in a matter of days.

Yet again, it was a cool concept without the legs to hold it up.

“When I looked at the various prototypes we’d created, the quality simply wasn’t there yet,” Bell admits. “We were heavily using laser cutting as our means of fabrication, and while it allowed us to produce something close to our vision, it wasn’t good enough. What we really needed was a hybrid of laser cutting and 3D printing, but unfortunately, 3D printing is still far too slow and expensive to be realistic.”

As it turns out, not being realistic is a pretty big hurdle to overcome.

Failure sign No. 4: You’ve built your business on a legal landmine

Play with fire, and you’re bound to get burned. It may sound obvious, but man — an awful lot of startups have disintegrated in heat-generated meltdowns.

The most prominent examples revolve around rights-related woes. Take Grooveshark, a music discovery startup that managed to last an impressive 10 years before its legal oversights caught up with it.

“Despite [having the] best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes,” the company conceded in an unsigned shutdown memo. “We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong.”

Grooveshark’s settlement agreement with record companies forced it not only to shut down the service and wipe all the company’s servers clean, but also to turn over everything it owned — the website itself along with all apps, patents, and copyrights — to the rights-owners it had wronged.

Things weren’t quite so dire for Exfm, another music discovery service. But while the company didn’t get clobbered in the same way as Grooveshark, legal issues definitely played a key role in its decision to go dark.

“The technical challenges are compounded by the litigious nature of the music industry, which means every time we have any meaningful growth, it’s coupled with the immediate attention of the record labels in the form of takedowns and legal emails,” the company’s founders stated in an email to subscribers.

Once-trendy “social streaming” startup Turntable.fm suffered a similar fate — and even noted that it should have paid closer attention to the troubles its predecessors had faced.

“Ultimately, I didn’t heed the lessons of so many failed music startups,” founder Billy Chasen says. “It’s an incredibly expensive venture to pursue and a hard industry to work with. We spent more than a quarter of our cash on lawyers, royalties, and services related to supporting music.”

Failure sign No. 5: Your product depends on someone else’s service

Call it the “single point of failure” fragility: If your business relies on someone else’s service to exist, you’re pretty much asking for trouble.

We’ve seen sob stories from several startups that hitched their wagons to Twitter only to have the virtual rugs pulled out from under them with little to no warning. The most recent high-profile example is Twitpic: The once-vital image sharing service clashed with Twitter’s growing ambitions and found itself immersed in a battle it couldn’t win. According to the company’s bye-bye missive:

Twitter contacted our legal [department] demanding that we abandon our trademark application or risk losing access to their API. This came as a shock to us since Twitpic has been around since early 2008 and our trademark application has been in the USPTO since 2009.

Other founders found themselves facing an about-face with Facebook, like Lookery — a marketing company whose currency revolved around social network data.

“We exposed ourselves to a huge single point of failure,” co-founder Scott Rafer muses. “Predictably and reasonably, Facebook acted in their own interest rather than ours.”

Rafer says his startup “could have and should have” used its resources to establish some level of independence instead of investing further in Facebook’s platform — a similar sentiment to the one expressed by PostRocket, a company that set out to help customers reach more fans in Zuckerberg’s virtual backyard.

“We should and could have done much better in bringing you a reliable product that expanded as quickly as the landscape of Facebook marketing changed,” co-founder Tim Chae confesses. While informing customers of his company’s demise, Chae actually suggested they turn to Facebook’s then-new analytics service as an alternative, saying the product “blows any other service out the water” — a perfect summary of the danger associated with trying to fill a hole in an existing service.

Even if a startup doesn’t get shut out entirely, trying to keep up with a fickle step-parent’s evolving requirements can take significant resources — which is especially challenging when funding is limited. Social media marketing firm Argyle Social cited that factor in its failure, as did song sharing service This Is My Jam.

The single point of failure can even come from a detail as seemingly innocuous as search: A startup called Tutorspree put all its consumer-attracting eggs in the basket of search engine optimization — and when the tides one day turned, it found itself lost at sea without a life preserver in sight.

“We were single channel-dependent, and that channel shifted on us radically and suddenly,” co-founder Aaron Harris explains. “There is a chance that a single channel can grow a company very quickly to a very large size, but the risks involved in that single channel are large and grow in tandem with the company.”

You don’t have to be a scrappy startup to sense the danger in that arrangement.


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Android is ousting Windows from its last mobile bastion

Microsoft’s coming end of support for Windows Embedded is forcing the industry to look elsewhere

They’re everywhere, but you rarely notice them: the millions of handheld devices — often equipped with scanners — that delivery people, store clerks, and hospital staff responders often carry to manage inventory, process orders, and verify delivery.

Nearly all of these supply chain-oriented devices run a version of the Windows Embedded operating system, which has had many names over the last decade. But within five years, the companies using these devices will have ditched Windows and moved to Android in one of the biggest industry platform shifts ever.

Before Windows Embedded came to dominate these specialty handheld devices in the mid-2000s, they ran a variety of operating systems. The best-known was from Symbol Technology, which been bought and sold several times over the years, and whose remains form the core of a company called Zebra Technologies.

Why the industry is looking to ditch Windows Embedded
The industry coalesced around Windows Embedded CE version 6, which debuted in 2006 and represents 99 percent of all embedded devices’ operating system, says Mark Kirstein, senior director of enterprise software at Zebra, the company that makes most of those specialty devices.

But the industry largely skipped 2011’s Windows Embedded 7 and almost totally skipped 2012’s Windows Embedded 8, Kirstein says. He expects the same to be true for the new Windows IoT, a variant of Windows 10.

Version 8 and later aren’t compatible with Version 7 and earlier, so developers have to create their devices’ apps from scratch, he notes. Plus, Windows Embedded 8 didn’t support the wide range of screen sizes and form factors that specialty devices need.

Kirstein says Windows Embedded 8 was merely a version of Windows Phone 8 minus the Xbox functionality and not designed for specialty devices such as for supply chain use. “It doesn’t have the enterprise management capabilities or staging/provisioning services — and therefore was never adopted. It did not meet the requirements of Kohl’s, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and so on,” he says.

Microsoft is ending extended support in 2017 for Windows Embedded 6 — the one that powers 99 percent of current devices — and in 2020 for Windows Embedded 7. Thus, developers and device makers need to rewrite their apps for a new OS — whether from Microsoft or someone else — before then to be safe. Many devices are used in regulated environments where support is required.

The transition won’t be cheap or fast: “It took Home Depot four years to migrate 28 apps,” Kirstein recalls. Enterprises like Home Depot, Carrefour, Whirlpool, Jepco, Tropicana Resort and Casino, and the U.S. Air Force typically have dozens of specialty-device apps, and some of those apps hit 1 million lines of code. The transition can cost as much as $10 million, he says. With that level of investment, enterprises need to get really comfortable with the platform they adopt.

The shift from a focus on enterprises to consumers in Windows Embedded 8, and a similar focus in the Windows 10-based Windows IoT, has prompted the industry to look elsewhere. As Kirstein recalls:

Home Depot was the largest planned deployment of WE8HH [Windows Embedded 8 for Handhelds] , but never happened. I was driving/owning the Microsoft/MSI relationship during this announcement.

The end result is Microsoft never delivered the OS on time when they committed to it, nor did it include the key requirements that were expected or needed for enterprise devices. Chipset vendors stopped supporting it, and then we were told we had to wait for Windows 10 to come out. Home Depot moved on, as well as dozens of other large enterprises.

Where did they move? “They are all rolling out Android now,” Kirstein says.
Why Android attracts embedded device developers

More precisely, most are moving to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), the part of Android that does not include the Google Mobility Services (GMS) component set. GMS is where Google makes money from Android by using apps like Gmail, Chrome, Google Drive, Google Now, and Hangouts to gather user data, then sells to advertisers and others.

Using AOSP provides developers several advantages, Kirstein notes.

One is the large base of Android developers to draw from. The apps that run on these specialty devices come from companies like Zebra, supply-chain software development firms, and the enterprises themselves that use the apps. Few developers know how to write for Windows Phone 8 or Windows 10 — Microsoft’s latest offerings — but many know how to write for Android.

Another advantage is that developers can modify the Android OS to add capabilities and restrictions not supported in the core OS. For example, a developer can modify AOSP to set the time zone or enable Bluetooth connections without user interaction, to reduce the human errors that could mess up workflow or data consistency in logistics operations across a region.

But developers can’t remove capabilities, so any Android app will run on these AOSP devices without modification. Why does that matter for a specialty device? Kristen uses the example of Best Buy, which has special product-scanning and inventory-checking handsets for employees. Those handsets can also run the Best Buy app and the Red Laser price-checking app, as well as access the Internet. Thus, employees can see what their customers see on their smartphones and use the same apps to comparison-shop.

That example made a lot of sense to me, given a recent experience I had at a Best Buy store where the app showed a lower price than the store’s internal system. I let the clerk see the price on my iPhone to prove I was owed a discount; it would have been better if she could have done so herself — then flagged the inventory management system — on her own company device.

There’s also some feeling in the industry that AOSP is a safer bet than Windows Embedded, Kirstein notes. He says that at its height, in 2007, Windows Embedded accounted for 0.01 percent of Microsoft’s profit. Then-CEO “Steve Ballmer couldn’t afford to pay attention to it,” he jokes. That’s why Microsoft let the enterprise focus end.

Plus, Microsoft no longer needs to use Windows Embedded as a “socket to the enterprise back end,” Kirstein argues — its decision to make its apps and services available to iOS and Android (often before Windows Phone) has let all devices feed into the core Office 365 and Azure services that now power Microsoft’s revenues.

But Google makes no money on AOSP, so why is that a safer bet for enterprises’ specialty devices? Kirstein believes Google needs AOSP to create a big enough ecosystem to funnel people into the GMS part of Android; he calls it a flanking strategy and notes Google uses it in noncore products to drive users to the data-oriented services where it does make lots of money. “Google needs the broad adoption to ensure enough people who pay for the whole thing.”

Of course, Google isn’t developing AOSP in any significant way; it has pivoted to GMS, where the money is. But the open source nature of AOSP helps it remain viable, Kirstein says: “Many large companies are so invested that they would carry the ball.”

If GMS becomes required, the industry will adapt, Kirstein says — as long as “Google can better address the corporate-liable approach.” Google has taken some steps in that direction recently, such as through its Android for Work technology.

Beyond Android, Tizen might await

Of course, should AOSP wither away like Windows Embedded has, the industry will have to shift again. Kirstein sees only one possible candidate: Tizen, the open source mobile operating system backed mainly by Intel and Samsung.

Tizen has flopped in consumer devices, but Samsung is a huge player in specialty electronics and devices. If it adopted Tizen, that would create a huge base to attract developers and enterprises.

Of course, Samsung has been ineffective at garnering developer interest in its own platforms. It’s a long-shot bet that would rely more on Google forcing the supply chain industry to find a new platform than on Tizen itself.

There’s also no evidence that Samsung has an interest in Tizen for supply-chain-oriented devices. Although the company recently launched an Internet of things business (who hasn’t?), it did not respond to InfoWorld’s inquiry as to whether it saw Tizen as part of that effort. Translation: That’s often how Samsung says no without saying no.


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Apple surpasses Microsoft….in vulnerabilities

Wipe that smug look off your face, Apple owners, Microsoft products are a lot safer

For years, Apple users taunted Windows users for all of the malware and security vulnerabilities that plagued the various Windows operating systems. Well, things have changed a bit. Mac OS and iOS now have more vulnerabilities than Windows.

The tabulation comes by way of CVE Details (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures), which draws on security vulnerabilities reported to the National Vulnerabilities Database, which is run by the U.S. government.

Apple led the way in 2015, with a total of 384 vulnerabilities for Mac OS X, closely followed by iOS with 375. Adobe held the next four spots, with three going to AIR (with AIR, the AIR SDK and AIR SDK and compiler) at 246 each, followed by Internet Explorer at 231. Google Chrome was next with 187 vulnerabilities, followed by Firefox at 178, which just shows that despite decades on the market, browsers are still a mess.

The highest-ranking Microsoft operating system was, in fact, Windows Server 2012 at 155 vulnerabilities. Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 had 147, 146 and 151, respectively. After that it was a mix of Acrobat, Linux and other products.

Now, you may note the three Windows desktop operating systems combined come out to 444, except that if you ever look at the patches Microsoft issues, they are common across all of the operating systems. That’s why there’s only a tiny difference between the three versions.

Vista also made the list, with 135 vulnerabilities, putting it fairly close to its newer versions. So there is overlap. The same applies to the three Adobe AIR entries. Not sure why they split them out but the fact that all three had the exact same vulnerabilities means they were common to all three versions.

It does not help that the Mac OS X platforms are not broken out while Windows versions are. That’s probably because there are so many versions of Mac OS X out there.

Steam Analytics lists 10 different versions of Mac OS X, each with tiny percentages of market share. And in fairness, while iOS has a lot of vulnerabilities, none of them are as nasty as the ones found on Android, like the malvertising that could destroy your phone or the Stagefright 2.0 virus.

Which is the silver lining for the Mac and its poor showing. It’s important remember that it’s not purely the number of vulnerabilities that matter but the severity of them. The vulnerabilities list is just the total number reported, not how bad they are. A bunch of minor stack overflows is nothing compared to malware that completely takes over your system.

But the Apple faithful can no longer make claims to being bulletproof.

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