Microsoft hires former FTC figure for new privacy role

 On Friday, Microsoft announced that it will create a new role for former Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill. Brill will take the lead on privacy, data protection and regulatory issues at Microsoft as the corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for its Privacy and Regulatory Affairs group. An Obama nominee, Brill joined the FTC as a commissioner in 2010 and served there for… Read More

Why is Microsoft trying to turn its Surface business into the next Nokia?

Microsoft’s third-quarter financial results were published yesterday, and they had many high points: cloud revenue is growing well (though we have some misgivings about how the numbers are reported), Windows outperformed the PC market, and Office 365 passed 100 million corporate seats. But there were a couple of significant black marks: Phone revenue has dropped to effectively zero, and Surface revenue was down sharply year on year, with a 26-percent drop in revenue.

The phone revenue is no big surprise: Microsoft has all but abandoned the market, and the last phones to sport a Microsoft logo—the Lumia 950 and 950 XL—are no longer sold. The company has been winding down its phone operation, writing off the entire value of the phone business it bought from Nokia and laying off thousands of former Nokia employees in the process.

But the story with Surface is more unsettling. In its analyst call, Microsoft ascribed the drop in Surface revenue to “product end-of-lifecycle dynamics,” whatever that means. The company’s 10Q filing used rather clearer language: Microsoft simply didn’t sell as many Surface systems.

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Microsoft 3Q17: Cloud, Office, Windows strong, Surface slumps

In its third quarter of its 2017 financial year, Microsoft posted revenue of $22.1 billion, up 8 percent year-on-year, with an operating income of $5.6 billion, up 6 percent on a year ago, net income of $5.7 billion, up 28 percent, and earnings per share of $0.61, an increase of 30 percent over the same quarter a year ago.

As ever, Microsoft also offered alternative figures that book Windows 10 revenue up front instead of amortized over several years, and which hold exchange rates constant to remove the impact of rate fluctuations year-on-year (which gives some indication of year-to-year changes in actual sales transactions, if not of money in the bank). This quarter the currency differences are for the most part small, with an impact of only about 1 percent (the dollar was weaker than Microsoft expected), but Windows revenue deferral continues to be significant. Under these adjusted figures, revenue was $23.6 billion, up 7 percent, operating income was $7.1 billion, up 5 percent, net income was $5.7 billion, an increase of 16 percent, and earnings per share were $0.73, a 19 percent increase.

Microsoft currently has three reporting segments: Productivity and Business Processes (covering Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Skype, and Dynamics), Intelligent Cloud (including Azure, Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio, and Enterprise Services), and More Personal Computing (covering Windows, hardware, and Xbox, as well as search and advertising).

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Microsoft meets expectations with $23.6B in revenue, Azure revenue up 93%

 Like every quarter, Microsoft just reported earnings for the last quarter. The company reported non-GAAP revenue of $23.6 billion and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.73. Wall Street’s cadre of crack analysts expected the company’s earnings per share to come in at around $0.70, with revenue hitting about $23.6 billion. In the year-ago quarter, Microsoft reported earnings per share… Read More

Tech demo shows Scorpio’s superior graphics at both 4K and 1080p

While Microsoft’s initial reveal of Project Scorpio placed heavy emphasis on 4K gaming, the huge GPU upgrade relative to the Xbox One is going to bring a big visual upgrade for the majority of us still using 1080p, too.

Windows Central has some exclusive screenshots showing Scorpio both at 4K and 1080p. The pictures aren’t of real games, but rather tech demos constructed to demonstrate just what the console can handle. They were shown at a private Microsoft event.

The first demo shows a steampunk scientist in her lab and is intended to show what developers can do with minimal effort; the shaders, textures, and models are the same on both Xbox One and Project Scorpio, with only the rendering resolution improved.

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10% of Windows 10 machines upgraded to Creators Update; 60% of phones eligible

Two weeks into its phased rollout, the Creators Update (version 1703) is on about ten percent of Windows 10 machines.

That number comes from AdDuplex, which collects statistics from Windows 10 machines running apps built with its advertising SDK. 9.8 percent of Windows 10 machines are on 1703, 82.1 percent are on the Anniversary Update, 6 percent are on version 1511, and just 1.8 percent are on the original RTM release.

That original release (sometimes known as 1507, following the year-year-month-month naming pattern used for subsequent releases) moves out of support on May 9. Although Windows 10 itself has a minimum of ten years of support, maintaining that support will still require periodic upgrades. This is not an entirely new policy; in the days of Windows Service Packs, the release of a new Service Pack would start a two-year countdown for support of the previous Service Pack. After those two years, only the new Service Pack would be supported. The timetable is a little condensed, however; Windows 10 1507 is not yet two years old, and it won’t be two years old when it falls out of support.

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NSA backdoor detected on >55,000 Windows boxes can now be remotely removed

After Microsoft officials dismissed evidence that more than 10,000 Windows machines on the Internet were infected by a highly advanced National Security Agency backdoor, private researchers are stepping in to fill the void. The latest example of this open source self-help came on Tuesday with the release of a tool that can remotely uninstall the DoublePulsar implant.

On late Friday afternoon, Microsoft officials issued a one-sentence statement saying that they doubted the accuracy of multiple Internet-wide scans that found anywhere from 30,000 to slightly more than 100,000 infected machines. The statement didn’t provide any factual basis for the doubt, and officials have yet to respond on the record to requests on Tuesday for an update. Over the weekend, Below0day released the results of a scan that detected 56,586 infected Windows boxes, an 85-percent jump in the 30,626 infections the security firm found three days earlier.

Both numbers are in the conservative end of widely ranging results from scans independently carried out by other researchers over the past week. On Monday, Rendition Infosec published a blog post saying DoublePulsar infections were on the rise and that company researchers are confident the scan results accurately reflect real-world conditions. Rendition founder Jake Williams told Ars that the number of infected machines is “well over 120k, but that number is a floor.”

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Federal court decides that Adobe can’t stay under a gag order over search warrant forever

Adobe Systems world headquarters in downtown San Jose, California According to newly unsealed documents, a federal court in California ruled that it is unlawful for Adobe to remain under an indefinite gag order regarding a search warrant for one of its users. In the ruling, the Los Angeles court concluded that the government had not made a sufficient argument to support the ongoing nature of a gag order it issued to Adobe in 2016. Read More