Tag Archives: Microsoft

Common passwords banned : Microsoft


Google, Microsoft ramp up fight against online child pornography


In response to the alarming proliferation of photos and videos containing child pornography on the Internet, Web search giants Google and Microsoft plan to introduce measures to block the content from their search results.

The modifications will prevent more than 100,000 search terms from generating results that link to images and videos associated with child sex abuse and instead trigger a warning that the associated content is illegal. The restrictions, which apply to English-speaking countries, will be expanded to more than 150 languages in the next six months, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt wrote in an article for the Daily Mail on Sunday.

“We’ve listened, and in the last three months put more than 200 people to work developing new, state-of-the-art technology to tackle the problem,” Schmidt wrote. “We’ve fine-tuned Google search to prevent links to child sexual abuse material from appearing in our results.” more

“Your browser matters” : Security

Microsoft page says IE more secure than rival browsers

IE9 receives a perfect score for security from Microsoft browser test page.




Microsoft page says IE more secure than rival browsers

IE9 receives a perfect score for security from Microsoft browser test page.

IE9 receives a perfect score for security from Microsoft’s browser test page.

(Credit: Lance Whitney/CNET)


A new Web page that tests browser security has crowned Internet Explorer 9 the most secure among the five major players. The only catch is that the page itself comes from Microsoft.

Dubbed “Your Browser Matters,” the new page checks a browser to determine how well it fares against phishing attacks and other types of socially engineered malware. The page then assigns the browser a score based on a scale of 0 to 4.

Looking at the major browsers, Internet Explorer 9 received a perfect 4 out 4, while IE8earned a 3. The latest versions of Firefox (7.0) and Google Chrome (14) took home scores of 2 and 2.5, respectively. And apparently Safari and Opera don’t even merit a grade since the page simply said it couldn’t give a score to either of those browsers.

Users can click on the “score” link to see exactly how and why the browser received its grade. Microsoft breaks down the security analysis into different questions, such as “Does the browser help protect you from websites that are known to distribute socially engineered malware?” and “Does the browser automatically block insecure content from secure (HTTPs) pages?” and then tells you if the browser got a yes or no for each one. MORE



Google+ Hangouts Video Chat Could Challenge Skype

Google+ Hangouts Video Chat Could Challenge Skype

Skype might have a hard time keeping itself relevant now that Google has introduced its new video chat service embedded in Google+ called Hangouts. Google+ Hangouts boasts a slick interface, doesn’t require additional downloads and best of all it’s free … if you can score an invitation, that is.


Google+ is still in testing mode and, like Gmail in its infancy, you need to be invited in. Google is having a hard time keeping its invitation process open, too; because of “insane demand” Google had totemporarily suspend Google+ invitations.


But once Google+ Hangouts launches to a broader audience, Microsoft-owned Skype will have some serious competition when it comes to video chat.


Google+ Hangouts can hold 10 people in the same video chat room simultaneously. While Skype 5.0 Beta 2 can do the same, video conferencing on Skype requires a Premium membership that ranges from $4.49 to $8.99 per month.


Google+ Hangouts Video Chat Could Challenge SkypeWorse yet, Skype 5.0 Beta 2 is Windows-only at the moment, whereas Google+ Hangouts, like Gmail video chat, is browser-based and doesn’t discriminate against any OS or requires an additional download.


Now that Microsoft has acquired Skype and plans on embedding Skype functions into the Office suite, Skype will become even more of a household (and “businesshold”) name. But Google+ should get a lot of traction given Google’s already pervasive Web presence and the fact that many smaller businesses are ditching Microsoft Office and relying on Google’s productivity suite.


Google+ is definitely a work in progress; that’s why it’s called a project rather than a product. But Hangouts is probably it’s most interesting and useful feature — one that Skype will have to keep tabs on.



Five things Microsoft may do with Skype

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, left, and Skype CEO Tony Bates shake hands at a news conference Tuesday.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, left, and Skype CEO Tony Bates shake hands at a news conference Tuesday.

(CNN) — Tuesday’s announcement that Microsoft is buying Skype is obviously huge business news, but millions of consumers aren’t focused on that.

Instead, many of the video and chat Web tool’s 660 million users are wondering less about the economic impact of the $8.5 billion deal and more on what the purchase will mean for their user experience.

The millions who don’t use Skype but have Microsoft computers, phones and video game systems will no doubt see some changes, too.

None of which is to say that the immediate reaction on the Web was all that exciting.

For all its global reach, staid veteran Microsoft just doesn’t get people jazzed up like, say, Apple or Google. (That despite the company’s mini-resurgence on the gaming front and its well-received Bing search engine.)

Tuesday on Twitter, some folks were quick to take potshots at the deal.

“The 1st details MS will announce about their plans for Skype will be integration with Kin phones, Connectix webcams, & WebTV,” one follower of New York Times tech writer David Pogue wrote after he announced the deal. Those are all failed Microsoft products.

“I guess we can look forward to Skype 2011 in a few years,” said another commenter, taking aim at Microsoft’s image as a slow-moving old-Web company.

But there are some avenues Microsoft could take with Skype that some folks might not immediately recognize.

Based in part on comments that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made Tuesday, here are five of the leading scenarios of what the computing giant might do with Skype:

1. Integrate it with the Xbox

Roughly 10 million Microsoft users already have cameras attached to their devices. That’s the number of Xbox Kinect systems sold since the motion-sensing game system was released last year.

It seems like a no-brainer that Microsoft would integrate Skype’s advanced chat technologies with that, as well as with its Xbox LIVE service.

The Xbox 360 already has a chat function. But gamers have largely been unimpressed, opting for other consoles like the PlayStation for multiplayer games that require real-time communication.

Similarly, Skype already has TV-compatible webcams and software, but it’s hardly been a high-profile feature.

Putting Skype on the Xbox could push both products forward.

2. Improve the Windows Phone

Let’s be honest: Windows Mobile phones aren’t selling like the iPhone or the growing cascade of phones running Google’s Android system.

The Windows Phone 7 system really hasn’t had an answer for the iPhone’s FaceTime app or Google Talk’s newly added video. Now it will, with the best-in-breed video and voice chat app at its disposal.

“It’s pretty obvious today that not everyone is doing video, particularly from their phone,” Ballmer said. “That’s an opportunity where there are a lot of things that could be done.”

Of course, Apple and Android products can already run Skype apps. So it will be interesting to see how that plays out. (Ballmer assured current Skype customers that those platforms will still be supported.)

“Given that Skype has been in use for more than a half-dozen years and has a growing user base, it would be difficult for Microsoft to begin eliminating Skype support for other mobile platforms,” Kevin C. Tofel wrote for tech blog GigaOM.

“But future features and other value-add services could be offered exclusively or first on Windows Phone 7 devices going forward, giving consumers a ‘killer app’ to consider when making a smartphone purchase.”

3. Show up at your office meeting

One of the reasons Microsoft was considered to be high on Skype was so Google and Cisco Systems, both rumored to be interested, wouldn’t get their hands on it.

In terms of workplace communication, the latter may be more important than the former. Cisco is the first name people think of when office video conferencing and teleconferencing are mentioned.

But Microsoft has made inroads with its Lync system, and adding Skype’s software would move it one step further.

Oh yeah … and it just so happens that Skype CEO Tony Bates is a former Cisco executive, as are other members of the Skype team.

Microsoft’s Office 365, which will include an online-only option, is expected to be released later this year. The suite of workplace tools will include Lync.

4. Appear on Facebook

Yes, Facebook was rumored to be one of the tech titans in the running to buy Skype. The social media giant’s interest seems a clear indication that Mark Zuckerberg and Co. would like to beef upFacebook Chat with video.

It was just a passing reference. But on Tuesday, Ballmer mentioned “social” as one of the possible uses for a Microsoft-owned Skype.

Microsoft actually owns a piece of Facebook, having bought in for $240 million in 2007. And the two have worked together on projects since then. (Skype now also lets users integrate their news feeds and friends lists.)

Getting a product in front of Facebook’s 600 million or so users would be huge.

5. Bring some juice back to Hotmail

By virtue of its ties to Microsoft, Hotmail still has tons of users worldwide. But do you know anybody who’s excited about it?

For the past year or two, Microsoft has been punching up Hotmail, an e-mail service that has lost considerable cool points in the wake of Gmail’s rise.

If Microsoft managed to seamlessly integrate Skype-quality video chat into Hotmail, it would definitely turn some heads.

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Microsoft Wants to Rule the White Spaces

After years of research, Microsoft hopes to provide a system that lets data communications weave through TV frequencies.

The first “white spaces” devices, which thread long-range wireless data signals through gaps in TV spectrum, will start to appear later this year.  Microsoft is bidding to play a central role in how they operate.

The coming devices are expected to include home routers to bring Internet to the home and even mobile devices such as phones or tablets. To avoid interfering with TV broadcasts, they will check with a government-appoved online database to learn of available white spaces between channels in their area. Microsoft has applied to the FCC to become an approved administrator of such a system, built using technology developed by its research wing, dubbed SenseLess. This would give the company an influential stake in the world’s first attempt to find a new way to free up the airwaves—an approach that is likely to be adopted worldwide. Google and eight other companies have already been granted permission to operate white spaces databases, but they have revealed little of their technology.

Microsoft’s system was recently demonstrated in Las Vegas, where it enabled an Xbox games console to get online using a prototype white spaces device made by startupAdaptrum.

TV spectrum signals have a longer wavelength than Wi-Fi or cellular signals, which means TV spectrum can support longer-range data connections. Microsoft’s trial white spaces network, on its Redmond, Washington, campus, can provide high-speed Internet at a range of over a mile.

To use the system, a device first supplies its location to the database, using a frequency that is known to be permanently free in that area. The system then tells the device which other chunks of spectrum are available to use at that time. SenseLess combines knowledge of every licensed TV signal in the U.S. with detailed topographic maps and models to determine how signals dissipate over distance and terrain.

Development of SenseLess has been led by Microsoft researcher Ranveer Chandra with colleagues Thomas Moscibroda and Victor Bahl. Another collaborator, Rohan Murty of Harvard University, drove 1500 miles around Washington state to gather data that tested SenseLess’s predictions against the real world. “We had zero false positives,” says Chandra. “Never did we say that a channel was free but was actually occupied.”

Trials of SenseLess have also shown that devices do not need to have a very accurate location fix, says Chandra—good news, because many white spaces devices will need to work indoors, where GPS is less accurate. “With the right models, a device can be only accurate to within 0.6 miles and lose access to less than 2 percent of spectrum,” says Chandra. A description of the SenseLess system was presented at the the IEEE Dynamic Spectrum Access Networks conference in Aachen, Germany, earlier this month. It was one of three papers chosen to be fast-tracked for publication.