Enterprise services and support

Microsoft to start connecting Skype and Lync by June 2013

Microsoft provided an updated road map for its Lync unified-communications platform today, the opening day of the company's first Lync Conference in San Diego.

The biggest piece of news is that Lync-Skype connectivity/federation is coming later than many expected. The first piece of that connectivity --- sharing of presence, instant messaging, and voice across the two services -- will be available to all Lync users as of June 2013. Video connectivity between Skype and Lync isn't coming until sometime in the next 18 months, executives confirmed today.

Customers who were testing Microsoft's Lync 2013 last year … Read more

PC market much worse than expected, says analyst

The PC industry fared worse than anticipated last quarter and will continue to face rough waters ahead, according to J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz.

In an investor's note out today, Moskowitz noted that Gartner saw a drop in PC shipments last quarter of 8.3 percent from a year ago and an increase of only 2.5 percent from the second quarter. Those results trailed Gartner's estimates of a decline of just 2.1 percent from a year ago and growth of 9.4 percent from the previous quarter.

"While investors had been preparing for a … Read more

Microsoft is now your 'devices and services' company

Microsoft really wants to make sure its shareholders, customers, partners, and competitors realize it's not just a big software company anymore.

In an October 9 letter to shareholders, part of Microsoft's just-released fiscal 2012 annual report, CEO Steve Ballmer repeated his new "devices and services company" mantra to drive it home.

Ballmer hasn't (yet) chanted "devices, devices, devices" in front of any public or private audiences (that we know of, at least) in the way he once, in 2006, infamously chanted "developers, developers, developers."

But he told The Seattle Times a … Read more

Microsoft, pushing Windows 8, makes Wi-Fi free in NYC and SF

Microsoft is sponsoring some free Wi-Fi sites in New York and San Francisco to drum up interest in Windows 8.

Six different Manhattan subway stops will feature free Wi-Fi starting immediately, and another 200-plus hotzones across the city will light up November 1. The subway locations are supported by Transit Wireless, which provides Wi-Fi service for travelers riding the rails underground.

Residents of San Francisco can surf at Microsoft's expense at hotzones in such locations as Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf, UN Plaza, the Financial District, and Nob Hill. The hotzones in New York City and San Francisco all … Read more

Microsoft acquires security authentication provider

Microsoft announced today that it has bought PhoneFactor, a provider of multi-factor authentication.

PhoneFactor offers organizations different ways for their employees to access key software and services without relying just on passwords or security tokens. The company's specialty is phone authentication, but it also provides authentication through text messages.

Timothy Sutton, PhoneFactor CEO, described the concept in a blog, saying that "when we initially launched PhoneFactor, we had a vision to deliver strong authentication as a seamless part of almost every process where an individual needs to access confidential or proprietary data." He added that "phones … Read more

Microsoft offers advice to deal with IE security bug

Users of Internet Explorer versions 6 through 9 are grappling with another security flaw without a fix, but Microsoft has a few suggestions to help shore up protection.

Uncovered this past weekend, the security hole could compromise the PCs of IE users who surf to a malicious Web site. Microsoft said it's already aware of attacks that have tried to take advantage of this weakness.

Since no fix is yet available, it's up to users of IE to protect themselves. A new Microsoft Security Advisory offers several recommendations.

To start, the usual advice always applies. Make sure you'… Read more

Microsoft takes steps to drown Google Apps before it's too late

Microsoft might be a little more scared of Google Apps for Business than it's publicly letting on, according to a new report.

The software giant has, over the last several months, made several moves to stop enterprise customers from adopting Google Apps, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported on those decisions today. Microsoft has cut pricing on its cloud-based alternative, Office 365, as well as increased commissions it pays to resellers to make the prospect of switching to Google's service less palatable.

According to the Journal, Microsoft has established a "Google Compete" team designed … Read more

Microsoft acquires corporate social network Yammer for $1.2B

[UPDATED at 1:14 p.m. PT]

The rumors were right. Microsoft announced on June 25 it has bought enterprise social networking vendor Yammer for $1.2 billion.

Yammer will join the Microsoft Office Division, led by division President Kurt DelBene, and the team will continue to report to current Yammer CEO David Sacks, according to a Microsoft statement.

I doubt seriously whether Microsoft will be integrating any of Yammer's technology into Office 2013, as the client, server and services that are part of this wave are already quite far along in development. A public beta of Office 2013Read more

Windows 7 ready to clobber XP as top OS

Look out Windows XP, Windows 7 is hot on your tail.

After a long reign as the world's dominant OS, XP is in danger of being knocked off its perch by the current flavor of Windows.

Surveying the OS landscape in May, Net Applications pegged Windows XP's market share at 44.8 percent and Windows 7's at 40.5 percent. That's the narrowest gap between the two since Windows 7 debuted in 2009. It's also a significant change from April when XP held a 46 percent share and Windows 7 a 38.8 percent share.… Read more

Windows 8 Release Preview: How to download and install it

Those of you who want to try out the new Windows 8 Release Preview can install it from an ISO file or run a full setup that guides you through the upgrade process.

If you want to skip to the chase and just download the ISO file, you can find it at Microsoft's own site or through CNET's Download.com.

Microsoft provides both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 8 RP across a variety of languages. After you download the ISO file, you can burn it onto a DVD using the Windows Disc Image Burner in Windows 7 … Read more