The Plain View

from Plaintext Like any good nonfiction writer, the Majority Staff (i.e., Democrats) of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law has produced a long-read document distinguished by deep research and an unyielding thesis: Big Tech is too big, too bad, and fights dirty. Sixteen months ago, the subcommittee set out to expose bad behavior in Silicon Valley’s top companies. Empowered with subpoenas, it had little trouble finding it. The docket of whistle-blowing witnesses and damning exhibits uncovered a litany of bullying, self-interested, anti-competitive behavior that justified the exercise, which some thought redundant because of ongoing investigations by the […]

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Microsoft Declares Its Underwater Data Center Test Was A Success

from ars technica Microsoft retrieved a 40-foot-long, 12-rack, self-contained underwater data center from its seafloor home offshore from the Orkney Islands earlier this summer. The retrieval of the Northern Isles began the final phase of Microsoft’s Project Natick research initiative, exploring the concept of deploying sealed server pods just offshore major population centers as a replacement for traditional onshore data centers. Project Natick has been underway for several years; we covered the two-month trial deployment of Leona Philpot, the company’s first underwater server pod, in 2016, and the deployment of the newly retrieved Orkney Isles pod in 2018. The potential […]

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The Windows 10 Privacy Settings You Should Check Right Now

from Wired If you’re at all concerned about the privacy of your data, you don’t want to leave the default settings in place on your devices—and that includes anything that runs Windows 10. Microsoft’s operating system comes with a variety of controls and options you can modify to lock down the use of your data, from the information you share with Microsoft to the access that individual apps have to your location, camera, and microphone. Check these privacy-related settings as soon as you’ve got your Windows 10 computer set up—or now, in case you’re a longtime user who hasn’t gotten […]

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Password1, Password2, Password3 No More: Microsoft Drops Password Expiration Rec

from ars technica For many years, Microsoft has published a security baseline configuration: a set of system policies that are a reasonable default for a typical organization. This configuration may be sufficient for some companies, and it represents a good starting point for those corporations that need something stricter. While most of the settings have been unproblematic, one particular decision has long drawn the ire of end-users and helpdesks alike: a 60-day password expiration policy that forces a password change every two months. That reality is no longer: the latest draft for the baseline configuration for Windows 10 version 1903 […]

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Paul G. Allen, Microsoft’s Co-Founder, Is Dead at 65

from NYTs Paul G. Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft who helped usher in the personal computing revolution and then channeled his enormous fortune into transforming Seattle into a cultural destination, died on Monday in Seattle. He was 65. The cause was complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his family said in a statement. The disease recurred recently after having been in remission for years. He left Microsoft in the early 1980s, after the cancer first appeared, and, using his enormous wealth, went on to make a powerful impact on Seattle life through his philanthropy and his ownership of the N.F.L. team there, […]

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Court Ruling Stands: US Has No Right To Seize Data From World’s Servers

from ars technica An evenly split federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that it won’t revisit its July decision that allowed Microsoft to squash a US court warrant for e-mail stored on its servers in Dublin, Ireland. The 4-4 vote by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals sets the stage for a potential Supreme Court showdown over the US government’s demands that it be able to reach into the world’s servers with the assistance of the tech sector. A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit had ruled that federal law, notably the Stored Communications Act, allows US authorities to seize content on US-based […]

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Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Business Almost Doubled In The Past Year

from recode Double-digit growth in Microsoft’s cloud services and a modestly improving PC business allowed the company to beat Wall Street expectations for the December quarter. Excluding three weeks of LinkedIn results and adjusting for Windows 10 deferrals and other items, Microsoft posted per-share earnings of 84 cents on revenue of $25.8 billion. On that basis, analysts were expecting earnings of 79 cents per share on revenue of $25.2 billion, according to Zacks. “We had a really good quarter from our perspective,” investor relations chief Chris Suh told Recode, noting the company posted results ahead of its guidance in each of […]

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Microsoft’s Top Lawyer Becomes a Civil Rights Crusader

from MIT Technology Review When Apple CEO Tim Cook refused to help the FBI get into a mass murderer’s iPhone last winter, he was hailed for his boldness in fighting the government on a matter of principle. In fact, Cook was borrowing from the playbook of a top executive at Apple’s dowdier rival Microsoft—a genial, sandy-haired man named Brad Smith. Smith has taken the government to court four times in the past three years, each time accusing it of breaching the Constitution in its efforts to get its hands on Microsoft customers’ data. He believes computers and the Internet have weakened […]

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Privacy And Advertising In Windows 10: Both Sides Of The Story

from Infoworld While Microsoft’s been collecting personally identified information of various kinds for more than a decade, Windows 10’s going to turn that trickle into a gusher. You can curb some of the data-gathering proclivities with various tools and websites, but you won’t be able to turn it off entirely without disabling some features that you’ll probably want to use. And no matter how you shake it, Windows needs access to that info in order to provide you with the services you likely want. The decrease in privacy and concomitant increase in advertising in Windows 10 is a multi-edged sword. […]

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How GitHub Conquered Google, Microsoft, and Everyone Else

from Wired CHRIS DIBONA WAS worried everything would end up in one place.  This was a decade ago, before the idea of open source software flipped the tech world upside-down. The open source Linux operating system was already running an enormous number of machines on Wall Street and beyond, proving you can generate big value—and big money—by freely sharing software code with the world at large. But the open source community was still relatively small. When coders started new open source projects, they typically did so on a rather geeky and sometimes unreliable internet site called SourceForge. DiBona, the long-haired open source guru inside Google, […]

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Cortana Reportedly Wants To Bust Out Of Windows Jail – But Then What?

from readwrite Microsoft’s Cortana app will make its way to iOS and Android devices in the near future, a new report from Reuters says, quoting “people familiar with the matter.” The rumor has in fact been doing the rounds for some time: Last November, Microsoft executive Julie Larson-Green hinted that such a move was on the cards in a briefing with reporters. Getting the app on other devices is one thing; getting anyone to use it is quite another. Assuming Cortana jumps out of Windows, can it thrive elsewhere? More here.

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