After Microsoft moves its servers back to the USA, German state's privacy commissioner advises schools not to use Office 365

After the Snowden revelations, US-based Big Tech companies raced to reassure their non-US customers that the NSA wasn't raiding their cloud-based data, moving servers inside their customers' borders and (theoretically) out of reach of the NSA; then came the Cloud Act (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act), in which the US government claimed the right to seize data held on overseas servers and the companies began consolidating their servers back in the USA. Read the rest

Microsoft is about to shut off its ebook DRM servers: "The books will stop working"

"The books will stop working": That's the substance of the reminder that Microsoft sent to customers for their ebook store, reminding them that, as announced in April, the company is getting out of the ebook business because it wasn't profitable enough for them, and when they do, they're going to shut off their DRM servers, which will make the books stop working. Read the rest

Microsoft employees want to starve its PAC, which keeps giving money to homophobic, racist, climate-denying Republicans

Microsoft's stated values are "diversity, inclusion, and growth mindset," but the six of the top ten politicians funded by MSPAC -- which derives funding from voluntary contributions from 4,000 of Microsoft's 140,000 employees -- are far-right Republican extremists, including Mitch McConnell, who reliably vote for homophobic, climate-denying and racist policies. Read the rest

Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer in "A Night at the Roxbury"

In this delightful crowd-pleaser shown at a 1998 Microsoft conference, right around the kickoff of the federal antitrust case against the company, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer take on the characters of Doug and Steve Butabi. Too bad they couldn't get Steve Jobs to play Richard Grieco.

(r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

A look back at the sales training for Radio Shack's Model 100, a groundbreaking early laptop

When Radio Shack released the Model 100 in 1983, it was a breakthrough for portable computing: an AA-battery-powered laptop that you could fit in a briefcase, with a built-in modem and an instant-on Microsoft OS that contained the last production code Bill Gates ever wrote himself. Read the rest

Evil Clippy: a tool for making undetectable malicious Microsoft Office docs

Evil Clippy comes from Dutch security researchers Outflank: "a tool which assists red teamers and security testers in creating malicious MS Office documents. Amongst others, Evil Clippy can hide VBA macros, stomp VBA code (via p-code) and confuse popular macro analysis tools. It runs on Linux, OSX and Windows." Evil Clippy's magic depends in part on some awesomely terrible undocumented Office features, including "VBA Stomping": "if we know the version of MS Office of a target system (e.g. Office 2016, 32 bit), we can replace our malicious VBA source code with fake code, while the malicious code will still get executed via p-code. In the meantime, any tool analyzing the VBA source code (such as antivirus) is completely fooled." (via Eva) Read the rest

Not just Apple: Microsoft has been quietly lobbying to kill Right to Repair bills

Apple pioneered the use of dirty tricks and lobbying to kill Right to Repair legislation, but they're not the only tech player who's putting lobbying muscle into ensuring that you can't decide who fixes your stuff (and when it is "unfixable" and must be sent to the landfill). Read the rest

Illinois almost passed a bill that banned devices that record you without your consent -- and then Big Tech stepped in

This week, Keep Internet Devices Safe Act was gutted by the Illinois senate: it would have allowed people sue manufacturers if they determined that a device had engaged in remote recording without notifying its owner. Read the rest

What the rest of the world doesn't know about Chinese AI

ChinAI Jeff Ding's weekly newsletter reporting on the Chinese AI scene; on the occasion of the newsletter's first anniversary, Ding has posted a roundup of things about the Chinese AI scene that the rest of the world doesn't know about, or harbors incorrect beliefs about. Read the rest

Microsoft announces it will shut down ebook program and confiscate its customers' libraries

Microsoft has a DRM-locked ebook store that isn't making enough money, so they're shutting it down and taking away every book that every one of its customers acquired effective July 1. Read the rest

Google, Facebook and Microsoft were the top sponsors of a conference that featured climate change denial kooks

Libertycon is the annual conference of Students for Liberty, a libertarian youth group, held in DC; at this year's conference, Google was the $25,000 platinum sponsor, while Facebook and Microsoft were each $10,000 sponsors. Read the rest

Microsoft confirms 'Bing is currently inaccessible in China'

Bada bing, bada banned. China has blocked Bing, Microsoft's search engine, tonight. Read the rest

Microsoft's best Windows 10 customers bear the brunt of the latest license glitch

If you paid extra for Windows 10 "Pro," Microsoft had an unpleasant surprise for you: a misconfiguration in the company's license server resulted in the oldest Win 10 Pro installs (that is, those owned by Microsoft's earliest adopting customers) being downgraded to Windows 10 Home, with users' screens plastered with watermarks chiding them for not paying for their licenses (this went over great for everyone who was standing in front of an audience giving a presentation, apparently). Read the rest

The man who created Ctrl+Alt+Del

Meet David Bradley, chief engineer of the IBM PC, who created Ctrl+Alt+Del.

"I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous," Bradley once said.

Read the rest

Review: This case for my Surface Go is wicked heavy but wicked good

One of the biggest problems surrounding my use of expensive electronics is that my lifestyle isn't kind to fragile things. While we're in transit between campsites, our RV rocks, bumps and heaves. Sometimes, no matter how securely I've stowed my gear, shit happens. Shit happening cost me $600 for a new MacBook display last summer. When I'm not in the RV, the gear I use for work gets chucked in a backpack. One of my laptops was destroyed falling off the back of a motorcycle. Another got fried in Costa Rica by the heat. These experiences have driven me to become a little bit more paranoid about protecting my gear over the years. Sometimes, protecting my kit means making compromises. Slapping on a $70 UAG Metropolis case for the Microsoft Surface Go feels like one of those.

Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Metropolis. UAG makes rock solid cases and their beefy-looking design aesthetic agrees with my sense of style. The case, available in three different colors, is primarily made from rubberized plastic. Without the Surface Go in it, the case is semi-rigid, which makes it easy to slip on to the tablet. Once it's sheathing your Surface, however, the Metropolis is pretty difficult to remove. That's gotta be worth some bonus points: I've used cases, in the past that came off all too easily when the object they were meant to be protecting got dropped.

The corners of the case boast extra padding that'll hopefully help to protect against a cracked display if I ever suffer a case of the butterfingers. Read the rest

Insider build of Windows 10 warns users not install Firefox and Chrome

Edge isn't doing so well: Chrome still rules the web roost, and Firefox is resurgent. But Microsoft can do something about that.

Companies like Google or Microsoft have used their market position in the past to push their own products. Google pushes Chrome on all of its properties when users use different browsers to connect to them, and Microsoft too displayed notifications on the Windows 10 platform to users who used other browsers that Edge was more secure or power friendly.

The intercepting of installers on Windows is a new low, however. A user who initiates the installation of a browser does so on purpose.

The popup explicitly describes itself as a warning—as if intercepting malware. 2018's Microsoft, same as 1998's Microsoft.

Read the rest

Microsoft to make Skype usable again

Earlier this year, Microsoft brought sweeping changes to Skype's UI, giving it something of a SnapChat makeover. The communication app's user base, I among them, was less than impressed, to say the least. Where it was once an easy way to receive forwarded telephone calls and chat via video or audio with folks across multiple platforms, the changes made it a shit sandwich to do much of anything with. The outcry from Skype users was such that, last month, Microsoft announced that they'd continue to offer the old school version of Skype's desktop app. Now, in the name of not alienating their users, they've taken their software UI rollback one step further. They're bringing back the features that folks actually use Skype for, back to the application and making it easier to ignore the service's new SnapChat-like features.

From Ars Technica:

With this new focus on calling and messaging, the Snapchat-like statuses have been removed. The desktop interface is styled a lot closer to the legacy application, and the use of animations and gradients has been somewhat toned down. The mobile interfaces put the key calling and messaging buttons along the bottom of the screen, providing easier access to the dialer pad. The company is promising to reinstate other features from the legacy client—multiple chat windows, greater control over online status and privacy, better searching, and more. The legacy clients will still be end-of-lifed, but it seems that they'll stay around until the feature disparity is resolved

Good.

Image by Microsoft Corporation - The file was uploaded on the English Wikipedia by user AxG on September 3, 2012., Read the rest

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