tech geek today

  • Microsoft today announced that it has open-sourced a key piece of what makes its Bing search services able to quickly return search results to its users. By making this technology open, the company hopes that developers will be able to build similar experiences for their users in other domains where users search through vast data troves, including in retail, though in this age of abundant data, chances are developers will find plenty of other enterprise and consumer use cases, too. The piece of software the company open-sourced today is a library Microsoft developed to make better use of all the data it collected and AI models it built for Bing . Via Techcrunch
  • May 15, 2019

    Sonos Adds Google Assistant

    In an Instagram post today Sonos announced the addition of the Google Assistant   View this post on Instagram   Your #Sonos system just got even smarter. The Google Assistant is here. Just say #HeyGoogle… A post shared by Sonos (@sonos) on May 14, 2019 at 2:13pm PDT
  • Microsoft isn’t terrible when it comes to providing support for older versions of its operating system. The Windows maker recently pushed Patch Tuesday update to users running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. As you know, Patch Tuesday doesn’t bring any new features and is all about fixing bugs and improving the overall performance. The same goes for this update. If you are running Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, then you get the KB4499151 update. It brings various fixes. Provides protections against a new subclass of speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities, known as Microarchitectural Data Sampling, for 64-Bit (x64) versions of Windows (CVE-2018-11091, CVE-2018-12126, CVE-2018-12127, CVE-2018-12130). Use the registry settings as described in the Windows Client and Windows Server articles. (These registry settings are enabled by default for Windows Client OS editions, but disabled by default for Windows Server OS editions). Addresses an issue that may cause “Error 1309” while installing or uninstalling certain types of .msi and .msp files on a virtual drive. Addresses an issue that prevents the Microsoft Visual Studio Simulator from starting. Adds “” into the HTTP Strict Transport Security Top Level Domains (HSTS TLD) for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge. Addresses an issue that may cause the text, layout, or cell size to become narrower or wider than expected in Microsoft Excel when using the MS UI Gothic or MS PGothic fonts. Security updates to Windows App Platform and Frameworks, Microsoft Graphics Component, Windows Storage and Filesystems, Windows Cryptography, Windows Datacenter Networking, Windows Wireless Networking, Windows Kernel, and the Microsoft JET Database Engine. Read More at MSPowerUser
  • Someone asked me what is the most interesting part of my work. It is this; “Microsoft’s Office is now a cloud-based service boasting more than 214 million subscribers who pay around $99 a year; it has more subscribers than Spotify and Amazon Prime combined.” — Tren Griffin (@trengriffin) May 5, 2019
  • Microsoft has very quietly confirmed the death of Windows 10 passwords this week. Microsoft’s crypto, identity and authentication team group manager, Yogesh Mehta, has made an announcement that he says puts “the 800 million people who use Windows 10 one step closer to a world without passwords.” Whether you love Microsoft or are a Windows 10 hater, I think most people will agree that passwords have long since reached their expiry date. By which I don’t just mean in the sense of security policy baseline recommendations either, although Microsoft did also recently announce a change to Windows 10 passwords in that regard as well. Rather I am referring to the whole concept of the password as a secure authentication method. Mehta confirmed that with the release of the forthcoming Windows 10 May update, Windows Hello becomes a fully FIDO2 certified authenticator. Via Forbes
  • The next time you’re streaming on Netflix, you can thank popular programming language Python and the developers who use it for much of the experience. According to Python developers at Netflix, the language is used through the “full content lifecycle”, from security tools, to its recommendation algorithms, and its proprietary content distribution network (CDN) Open Connect, which ensures that content is streamed from network devices that are as close as possible to end users. Ahead of the Python Software Foundation’s PyCon conference next week in Cleveland, the streaming giant has been detailing how it uses the open-source language. Python is one of the most popular languages these days and is widely used for data analysis, machine learning, DevOps, and web development. At Netflix, many of the network devices that make up its CDN are “mostly managed by Python applications”, which do tasks like tracking the inventory of network devices, their health and location. Via ZDNet
  • Microsoft has changed the minimum storage requirements for the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, to be released publicly next month. In an updated support document on Microsoft’s Hardware Dev Center website, the company indicates that both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 10 version 1903 will require a hard drive with 32GB of storage or greater (via Pureinfotech) . Windows 10 version 1809, aka the October 2018 update currently requires 16GB of strorage or greater for the 32-bit version, and 20GB or greater for the 64-bit version. The support document doesn’t give an explanation for the higher minimum storage requirements for the May 2019 Update, but this could be a consequence of the new Reserved storage feature that will take around 7GB of disk space for system updates. It’s pretty rare these days to see PCs with just 32GB of storage, so this change in hardware requirements shouldn’t affect many consumers. The Windows 10 May 2019 is still being tested with Windows Insiders on the Slow and Release Preview ring this month, but Microsoft recently made ISO files available on MSDN. If everything goes well, the public rollout should kick off in May, but the software giant may well release a couple of bug fixes updates in the meantime. Via ONMSFT
  • Microsoft announced the configuration baseline settings draft release for Windows 10 v1903 (19H1) and Windows Server v1903, as well as the intention to drop password expiration policies starting with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update. Once removed, the preset password expiration settings should be replaced by organizations with more modern and better password-security practices such as multi-factor authentication, detection of password-guessing attacks, detection of anomalous log on attempts, and the enforcement of banned passwords lists (such as Azure AD’s password protection currently available in public preview). However, as Redmond further explains, “While we recommend these alternatives, they cannot be expressed or enforced with our recommended security configuration baselines, which are built on Windows’ built-in Group Policy settings and cannot include customer-specific values.” Back in 2016, the United States National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) also advised government organizations to remove password expiration policies and recommends forced password changes only after a fraudulent activity is observed. As detailed in the ‘Special Publication 800-63-3: Digital Authentication Guidelines’, “Verifiers SHOULD NOT require memorized secrets to be changed arbitrarily (e.g., periodically). However, verifiers SHALL force a change if there is evidence of compromise of the authenticator.” Via Bleeping Computer
  • Microsoft announced today that it earned a net income of $8.8 billion on revenues of $30.6 billion in the quarter ending March 31. Net income rose 19 percent, while revenues were up 14 percent year over year (YOY). “Leading organizations of every size in every industry trust the Microsoft cloud,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a prepared statement. “We are accelerating our innovation across the cloud and edge so our customers can build the digital capability increasingly required to compete and grow.” More Personal Computing was again Microsoft’s biggest business unit, earning $10.7 billion in revenues in the quarter, a gain of 14 percent. Windows revenues from PC makers grew 15 percent overall, but consumer revenues were down 1 percent, so all of the growth came from businesses. Surface revenues hit $1.33 billion, down from $1.9 billion in the previous sequential quarter but up 21 percent from $1.1 billion in the year-ago quarter. Gaming revenue was up to $2.4 billion, though Xbox Live monthly active user count fell sequentially by 1 million to 63 million. Productivity and Business Processes was Microsoft’s second-largest business unit by revenue, hitting $10.2 billion in the quarter. Office 365 Commercial saw revenues grow by 12 percent YOY while Office 365 Consumer revenue jumped by 8 percent. Microsoft now has 180 million active monthly users on Office 365 Commercial, up 8 percent, and 34.2 million Office 365 Consumer subscribers, up from 30.6 million a year ago. Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud business unit posted revenues of $9.7 billion, up 22 percent YOY. Azure growth was 73 percent, consistent with the past several quarters. Server products and cloud services grew 27 percent. And Enterprise Mobility surpassed 100 million seats in the quarter. Overall, another solid quarter for the software giant. I’ll pour over the post-earnings conference call for...