Monthly Archives: June 2016

California woman wins $10,000 judgment against Microsoft for forced Windows 10 upgrade

We’ve been talking about the slow adoption rate of Windows 10 for many months now. Microsoft’s Windows 10 upgrade policy and its increasing attempts to push users to install the upgrade – in some cases, trying to trick users into upgrading by changing the positions and the wording on some pop-up windows. Now it seems that at least one customer took the fight to court and won a small judgment against the company for how it deployed its latest operating system.

The Seattle Times reports that Teri Goldstein, of Sausalito, California, sued Microsoft after a failed Windows 10 upgrade left her system performing poorly, prone to crashing, and reportedly unusable for multiple days. Given the general issues associated with performing in-place upgrades, even successful ones, it’s not surprising that some users would run into problems. Goldstein reached out to Microsoft customer service to attempt to resolve her issues, but filed suit against the company once it failed to resolve her problems. Her $10,000 figure reflected estimated lost compensation as well as the cost of a new computer system.

Microsoft had appealed the initial judgment but dropped that appeal last month. A spokesperson for the company told the Seattle Times that it denied any wrongdoing and had dropped the appeal to avoid the additional expense of further litigation.

One $10,000 judgment against Microsoft isn’t going to make a blip in the company’s financial earnings or its overall Windows 10 trajectory. But it caps a year of self-inflicted damage regarding Windows 10 and Microsoft’s free upgrade. The repeated changes to Windows 10’s upgrade policy, mandatory data collection, and decisions to kill off patch notes and make all updates mandatory have collectively left a bad taste in many users’ mouths. None of these are fundamental reasons to stop using Windows 10, but they speak to the company’s profound trouble communicating what really should to be a winning strategy. The Windows 10 giveaway was a great concept, and the entire process could’ve been handled in a way that made people want to switch. Instead, Microsoft has been dragging people into upgrading in much the same way you might grab a cat and drag it off for a bath.

With just over a month to go until it officially stops offering free upgrades to Windows 10, Microsoft has yet to budge from its stance that once the one-year mark is done, the company will no longer offer a free upgrade to consumers. Currently, Windows 10 Home is $119, while Windows 10 Pro is $199. Prices are identical between the downloadable and USB versions of the operating system.

Microsoft hasn’t specified how it will price upgrades after the free offer has expired. In the past, upgrade-only versions of the OS typically sold for $50-$70 less than full versions, though this has varied depending on the OS in question. As for whether Microsoft’s recent actions have damaged the company’s long-term relationship with customers, it’s still too soon to tell. Some users claim to have sworn off all Microsoft products or to have disabled Windows Update altogether to avoid the Windows 10 upgrade. I’m sure that such actions don’t reflect average user behavior (and I certainly don’t recommend turning off all OS updates to avoid the inevitable Windows 10 upgrade).

The bigger issue for Microsoft isn’t necessarily the loss of Windows users, but its failure to establish consumers trust and a cooperative relationship at a time when the company is still trying to make major changes to its software distribution model. Microsoft needs enthusiastic buy-in for its various plans from both developers and customers. Unfortunately, that has not yet been the case for Windows 10.

Just when you think they couldn’t sink any lower…

Just when you think they couldn’t sink any lower, internet based criminals are now exploiting the tragedy in Orlando. Unfortunately, once again we need to warn people about these lowlifes just like we’ve done when earlier, similar incidents like this happened.

Phishers are now sending a raft of scams varying from blood drives to pleas for charitable contributions for victims and their families. Additional attack vectors are messages that promise exclusive or inside information or — even worse– smartphone videos shot at the scene. Unfortunately, this type of scam is the worst kind of phish-bait we’ve seen lately.

These criminals are now sending out phishing campaigns that try to trick you into clicking on a variety of links about blood drives, charitable donations, “inside” information or “exclusive” videos. Don’t let them shock you into clicking on anything, or open possibly dangerous attachments you did not ask for!

With anything you receive about the Orlando shootings, be very, very suspicious – think three times before you click. It’s very possible that it is a scam, even though it might look legitimate or was forwarded to you by a friend — be especially careful when it seems to come from someone you know through email, a text or social media postings because their account may have been hacked.

If you want to donate to help those affected by this tragedy, go to your usual charity by typing their name in the address bar of your browser and do not click on a link in any email. Remember, taking these precautions is just as important at home as in the office, and don’t forget to warn your family members. It’s unfortunate that we continue to have to warn against the bad guys on the internet that try to leverage these tragedies for their own benefit.

Below are just a few of the email subject lines you should be extremely cautious about when opening:

  • A friend has asked you to donate blood – find your nearest blood drive/blood center.
  • Donations for Families of Orlando Shooting Victims.
  • New ISIS Video Celebrating Orlando Attacks Turns Up On Dark Web – CNN headline

Microsoft Buys LinkedIn for $26 Billion in Its Largest Acquisition to Date

In a stunning move, Microsoft on Monday announced its plan to buy professional social network LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in cash and debt, which, if successful, would make it Microsoft’s highest-valued acquisition in its 41-year history.

The deal has already been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is expected to close by year’s end. Microsoft said LinkedIn will remain independent, with LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner remaining as its CEO.

Besides Microsoft’s failed bid to acquire Yahoo for $44.6 billion back in 2008, the LinkedIn buy is three times the value of Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype in 2011, which had been Microsoft’s largest deal until now.

By acquiring LinkedIn for a 50 percent premium over its closing price on Friday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is making his biggest move yet to grow his company’s business. Despite Microsoft making huge strides in reshaping itself for the post-PC era, investors and analysts have shown impatience with its pace of growth.

Microsoft’s decision to acquire LinkedIn also demonstrates that the company is looking to play in a market it has largely avoided so far. While Microsoft acquired social networking technology with Yammer and invested $240 million in Facebook in 2007, this deal marks the first time Microsoft will try to run a huge social network in a market dominated by Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn boasts a roster of 433 million registered users, of which 105 million unique visitors access their accounts at least once a month.

The deal raises questions about what benefits adding a huge public social network will bring to Microsoft’s existing portfolio. In a 90-second video created by Microsoft, Nadella and Weiner gave brief statements on the rationale for the deal. Nadella said he has long contemplated acquiring LinkedIn, believing it fits in with Microsoft’s overall productivity-and-platforms focus.

“For sure, I am a deep believer in productivity tools and communication tools because that’s what empowers people to be able to be great at their job,” Nadella said in the video. “But think about taking that, and connecting it with the professional network and really having the entirety of what is your professional life be enhanced, more empowered, where you’re acquiring new skills and being more successful in your current job and finding a greater, bigger next job. That’s that vision. ”

Keeping an acquired company like LinkedIn independent is not unusual for Microsoft, at least at the outset of such deals. When Microsoft acquired Yammer, Skype and Nokia’s handset business — three of its largest acquisitions — similar structures were established initially, only for the companies to eventually become more integrated into the Microsoft corporate structure. That has had mixed results. Most of the core Yammer team is now gone and Microsoft has pared back most of the Nokia handset operations. Skype has been more successful so far and is evolving into a key component of Office 365.

Microsoft also appears to be betting that leveraging a large and established community of professional users will enable new opportunities. LinkedIn has had more than 45 billion quarterly member page views, which has grown 34 percent year over year. LinkedIn also hosts 7 million job listings, which has grown 101 percent over the past year, while 60 percent of its users access the service from mobile devices.

Initial reaction to the deal has been mostly surprise, with many speculating over the possibilities of Microsoft/LinkedIn offerings such as Office 365, SharePoint, Dynamics and Azure in some way. One key task for the “New” LinkedIn will be to find ways to engage with the many users who find the service has become a platform full of clutter and unwanted connection requests.

Microsoft’s World Domination Roadmap continues …….

FindFace App Could End All Hopes Of Internet Privacy

If the founders of a new face recognition app get their way, anonymity in public could soon be a thing of the past. FindFace, launched two months ago and currently taking Russia by storm, allows users to photograph people in a crowd and figure out their identities, with 70% reliability.

It works by comparing photographs to profile pictures and in the future, the designers imagine a world where people walking past you on the street could find your social network profile by sneaking a photograph of you, and shops, advertisers and the police could pick your face out of crowds and track you down via social networks.

In the short time since the launch, Findface has amassed 500,000 users and processed nearly 3m searches, according to its founders.

Unlike other facial recognition technology, their algorithm allows quick searches in big data sets. Three million searches in a database of nearly 1billion photographs: that’s hundreds of trillions of comparisons. With this algorithm, you can search through a billion photographs in less than a second from a standard desktop computer. The app will give you the most likely match to the face that is uploaded, as well as 10 people it thinks look similar.

The technology can work with any photographic database, though it currently cannot use Facebook, because even the public photographs are stored in a way that is harder to access. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before this challenge is resolved. We might even see Facebook leading the charge if they see a way to monetize this technology.

Some security analysts have sounded the alarm about the potentially disturbing implications. The app has already been used by a St Petersburg photographer to snap and identify people on the city’s metro line.

But the FindFace app is really just a shop window for the technology, the founders said. There is a paid function for those who want to make more than 30 searches a month, but this is more to regulate the servers from overload rather than to make money. They believe the real money-maker from their face-recognition technology will come from law enforcement and retail.

The pair claims they have been contacted by police departments in other regions, who told them they started loading suspect or witness photographs into FindFace and came up with results. “It’s nuts: there were cases that had seen no movement for years, and now they are being solved,” said Kabakov.

The startup is in the final stages of signing a contract with Moscow city government to work with the city’s network of 150,000 CCTV cameras. If a crime is committed, the mugshots of anyone in the area can be fed into the system and matched with photographs of wanted lists, court records, and even social networks.

It does not take a wild imagination to come up with sinister applications in this field; for example being able to tag and identify participants in street protests, sporting events or any large group or gathering in places where CCTV cameras are installed.

The pair also has big plans for the retail sector. Kabakov imagines a world where cameras identify you looking at, say, a stereo in a shop, the retailer finds your identity, and then targets you with marketing for stereos in the subsequent days.

Again, it all sounds more than a little disturbing. In today’s world we are constantly surrounded by gadgets. Our cell phones, iPads, tablets, televisions, fridges, everything around us is sending real-time information about us to the internet. We already have large data files on people’s movements, their interests and so on, cataloged on massive internet servers around the world – next they’ll be matching our interests to our photographs and perhaps when a camera picks us up on the street – everyone will know exactly where we are. Now we can really kiss our privacy goodbye. From the Washington Post:

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