Microsoft Mulls Security Fees
ZDNet just has published an article that does not make me all that happy. In a nutshell, it looks like MS might start charging for security. Hmmm, what is wrong with that picture? Keep in mind though that they generally do the same thing as politicians.
They let up a trial balloon and see if it gets shot down in flames. If no one cares the initiative has legs and they pursue it further. This is a bit of a heads up. Like always with trial balloons, there is not a lot of meat here. Just a vague remark they are "thinking about it". I cannot afford a real opinion yet. Here is the article:
And an update:
Microsoft Opens Passport to Scrutiny
Source code for server portion will be released, encouraging
interoperability with other single-sign-on specs.
Microsoft taps Caribbean gold mine
By JUHEL BROWNE
Guardian, Oct 14, 2002
Demand for information technology in the Caribbean is so high that Microsoft, the computer software giant based in the United States, asserted the region has proven to be a gold mine. Furthermore, the company’s regional division, Microsoft Caribbean, said it has been hiring staff while its global counterparts have been reducing their workforce. “Microsoft last year had a very successful year in what was a very difficult economic climate. Microsoft Caribbean had a exceptional year,” Microsoft Caribbean enterprise service manager, Nick Robinson, said on Friday. He was speaking at a news conference held at the Microsoft Caribbean offices located in the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce building in Westmoorings.
Also in attendance was Microsoft Caribbean executives — territory manager, George Gobin and business development manager, Abed Santana.
Robinson said the great potential for profit in the Caribbean when it comes to IT products like Microsoft’s software such as the Windows operating system. “We have a low cost of entry with a quick time to market value proposition. Customers are not really interested in multi-million dollar products that take years to come to fruition. Here in the Caribbean, people are really now looking at Microsoft as a real value proposition provider.” He said Microsoft’s goal is to sell technology that requires little
consulting or repair service costs. Microsoft’s competitors, Robinson said, earn as much as 50 per cent of their revenue from their service departments, while Microsoft’s revenue in that area is only three per cent of its total revenue. However, he said Microsoft must improve its customer relations approach. “I do know Microsoft has an image problem and we need to fix that
problem.” To do so, the Microsoft Caribbean officials said the company is focusing on improving its software security capabilities and customer relations services.
Referring to Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates, Robinson said: “Bill Gates made it very clear our job is to sell software.”
In addition, Robinson said Microsoft is re-investing its surplus profits into a programme that benefits its clients and partners called the Business Investment Fund. Santana, who supervises the fund, said the fund has a limited capacity but is of tremendous value. Robinson said a client who has paid for four weeks of a Microsoft service would receive one week free of charge, which will be paid out of the BIF.
Microsoft debuts cable-free computing for holidays
NEW YORK (Reuters) — Software giant Microsoft, hoping to attract holiday season shoppers, Tuesday unveils a wireless keyboard and mouse combination, including a device that could link computers to multiple electronic devices without using cables.
Analysts said the package could also provide a shot in the arm to Bluetooth, an emerging standard aimed at replacing cables with short-range wireless links.
"The Bluetooth market has been off to a very ragged start. Microsoft products will add fuel to the fire," Aberdeen Group analyst Peter Kastner said.
Microsoft plans to offer a $159 Bluetooth bundle including a keyboard, mouse and transponder device, that attaches to the back of a desktop or laptop computer to receive and send data.
The keyboard and mouse work only with computers using Microsoft's Windows XP operating system. But the transponder can link with other Bluetooth-enabled gadgets including printers, mobile phones and handheld computers.
Mike Foley, wireless architect at Microsoft, said this would become more important in coming months.
"We'll see many more classes of Bluetooth devices in the next couple of months and in the first quarter of next year," Foley said, predicting Bluetooth gadgets would be more prevalent in this year's shopping season versus last year.
The big difference between now and last year is that the industry has spent time clearing up technical issues that delayed adoption of Bluetooth, Foley said.
Waiting for Bluetooth
The industry has long-promised that Bluetooth would get rid of the tangle of cables associated with computers. But three years after Microsoft and other players set up a formal group to promote the standard, it has yet to hit the big time.
According to analyst group International Data Corp., this will take another few years.
About $76 million worth of communication chips based on the standard were sold last year, according to July estimates from IDC, which says this will swell to $495 million this year.
It expects Bluetooth chip sales to come to $2 billion in 2005 and $2.6 billion in 2006, a giant step back from its September 2001 forecast of a $2.5 billion market in 2004.
Microsoft's Foley conceded that his company's offering could take time to sell in volume since people who have computers already have keyboards and mice too.
But as more Bluetooth devices come on the market it will provide customers with more reasons to buy Bluetooth, he said.
Aberdeen's Kastner estimated that Microsoft would be disappointed if it did not sell at least 100,000 of the products during the holiday season.
IDC analyst Roger Kay said the price is high enough to allow Microsoft's competitors to viably introduce cheaper products.
"The idea of a big name backing the standard is going to up the interest," Kay said. "And the pricing is not too low so it allows others to come in and compete. This is a sign that Microsoft is trying to grow the category."
Critics: Microsoft still squeezing competitors
WASHINGTON (AP) — As Microsoft awaits court approval of its landmark antitrust settlement with the government, the company has angered some competitors by tightly limiting the technical data it promised to release.
Microsoft says the restrictions are normal for the software industry and do not violate the terms of the settlement. But competitors contend that Microsoft's actions are reminiscent of the behavior that led to the antitrust case and reinforce their claim that the entire settlement is inadequate.
"It has done nothing to level the playing field," said Mark Webbink, general counsel for Red Hat, which sells a version of the Linux operating system that competes with Microsoft's Windows.
Deborah Majoras, the Justice Department's deputy attorney general for antitrust, said her office is aware of the concerns and is closely looking at them.
Jim Kulbaski, an outside lawyer hired by nine states that joined the settlement, said he is also examining the issue. "These issues are not being taken lightly," Kulbaski said.
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is expected to rule soon on both the settlement and the additional penalties sought by nine other states that rejected the deal.
The settlement requires that Microsoft release details about "communications protocols" that its products use to transfer information within itself and among non-Microsoft products.
Without those protocols, competing gadgets and software won't work as well with Windows as Microsoft's own products do. The protocols are vital for competitors since Windows runs on about 90% of desktop computers and about half of corporate server computers. During the antitrust case, Microsoft was accused of withholding such information to maintain an advantage over competitors.
But even with the settlement, software firms say Microsoft still isn't making it easy to see the protocols. In order to gain access, a company would have to use Microsoft's "Passport" identity authentication system, then request and sign two forms — one of them promising secrecy — just to see the license terms and find how much Microsoft is charging for the information.
The settlement allows Microsoft to charge for the communications protocols, but says they must be distributed "on reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms."
"It's just offensive," said Webbink of Red Hat. "Why shouldn't every member of the general public have access to the license agreement and to the royalty rates when that is a part of the remedy in the antitrust trial?"
Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler called the protocol process straightforward. He said nondisclosure agreements are common in the industry.
"We're doing many things, including the settlement program, to make our protected intellectual property widely accessible and available under very reasonable terms," Desler said. "If there are issues, we're in constant dialogue with these government agencies as well."
Since Microsoft is charging a royalty fee to use the communications protocols, any open-source developer — those who contend that sharing software blueprints is the best way to build products — would not be able to use them. Those companies, which include Linux firms, use a special "free software" license called the General Public License that bars any payment.
Linux is one of the few operating systems that presents a threat to Microsoft's Windows monopoly. Microsoft was found guilty of using illegal means to protect that monopoly.
Webbink said Microsoft has seeded many of its contracts with language that frustrates developers who abide by the "General Public License."
"It certainly makes it unusable for us in our general distribution," Webbink said. "We can't be in the position of passing out proprietary software."
Microsoft sales, profit up on new licensing plan
REDMOND, Wash. (Reuters) — Microsoft reported a rise in first-quarter net profit Thursday, as a new licensing plan and reseller sales fueled revenue above the software giant's own expectations.
For the first fiscal quarter ended Sept. 30, the world's largest software company said its net profit was $2.73 billion, or 50 cents per share, up from $1.28 billion, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier when it took a charge of 20 cents per share on investment impairments.
The Redmond, Wash.-based company had been expecting to report a net profit of 42 cents or 43 cents per share, according to its forecast three months ago.
Revenue was $7.75 billion, better than Microsoft's own expectations for between $7 billion and $7.1 billion and compared to $6.13 billion a year earlier.
microsoft w2k news
Support Deadlines Loom For NT, SQL and Exchange
Well it's official. Now you know. MS finally normalized the way their stuff is supported and the first Lifecycle policy is here now. Your regular support ends in December 2003 for Exchange 5.5, March 2004 for SQL Server 7.0 and March 2005 for Windows 2000. The new support plan means that mainstream support for W2K Pro will run until March 31, 2005, and extended support will last until March 31, 2007. "Through our customer focus groups, Microsoft learned that customers do not have a clear understanding of vendor lifecycle plans. Instead they rely on expectations of how often new releases occur, and react to retirement announcements," Lori Moore, corporate vice president of Microsoft product support services, said in a Q&A on Microsoft's Web site explaining the new policy. In other words, it was a mess and everyone was in "reactive mode" when a product was retired. Microsoft also decided to make support consistent across all of its product lines, except for consumer products such as Money and Encarta, which have new versions released each year. Those products will receive three years of mainstream support.
In general, mainstream support includes the various options and programs you have access to today, such as no-charge and paid incident support, support for warranty claims and hot-fix support to address specific problems, which is sometimes referred to as quick-fix engineering. Extended support can include support charged on an hourly basis or paid hot-fix support. In order for you to be eligible for paid hot-fix support, you must buy an extended hot-fix support contract within 90 days after the mainstream support period ends. In addition to mainstream and extended support, an online self-help option will be available for at least eight years from the general availability date for most products. The general availability date will be determined by adding three months to the date that MS releases a product to manufacturing. So, how is this whole thing going to pan out for NT 4.0? Your mainstream support for 4.0 will last through Dec. 31, 2002. That is six years and not five years after the general availability of 4.0.
But the extended support for 4.0 will only be one year instead of two and lasts until Dec. 31, 2003. This is consistent with the dates they gave in 2001, and complies with the seven years of combined mainstream and extended support MS promises in its new plan. Now, keep in mind that hotfixes are another story all together. It is now clear that NT 4.0 will have free security hotfixes until the end of 2003. No more hotfixes for a platform will be an immediate invitation for hackers to start attacking that platform ferociously. So, you have to plan with this! The message is: "move over to W2K before Dec. 2003 or start paying for hotfixes".
microsoft w2k news
TWICE the patches in 2002 compared to 2001. Ouch!
MS came out with three security bulletins late Wednesday. One of these was a patch for a critical flaw in SQL Server. The other two warnings included hotfixes for threats that were tagged "moderate" for WinXP Help and Support Center and for a little-used feature of Word and Excel. If you look at the number of hotfixes, they are going up rapidly. MS released 61 bulletins so far in 2002, one more than Redmond issued for all of last year.
Meaning, you have TWICE the amount of work this year compared to last year keeping your domains patched. It gets (very) high time to automate this. Patching is not a simple task. They need to be tested, applied in the right sequence, and deploying hotfixes has become a whole art by itself. There is one product that does it all, and one of the largest users in the World has just standardized on UpdateEXPERT: All of US ARMY Europe, (being a major and very critical segment of the US ARMY), plus their support networks. Here is their viewpoint:
"After looking at a number of alternatives, US ARMY Europe (USAREUR) has purchased St. Bernard's UpdateEXPERT security software through Sunbelt Software Inc. as its research, inventory, deployment and validation tool that will enable USAREUR to fix security vulnerabilities and stability problems on its Windows NT/2000/XP machines while significantly reducing the administrative work-load associated with the on-going endeavor of making these networks the most secure and efficient networks in all of Europe." -- Brad Howard, Chief, RCERT-Europe Well, there you have it from one of the largest and expert users around. You can download and test UpdateEXPERT yourself over here: