About the author  ⁄ Suril Amin

Suril is a scientist, journalist and obsessive Microsoft observer. He holds an advanced degree in Biotechnology with minors in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. Send him tips on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/surilamin

The Windows Store has reached 150,000 apps almost a year and half after the release of Windows 8.  For some perspective it took Windows Phone about two years to accomplish the same goal.  Since then the app growth of Windows Phone has stalled somewhat with about 200,000 apps currently. Win Beta reports: While the Windows Store continues to see improvement as the months go by, the app count has struggled to climb. The Windows Store has seen a slow climb in apps since July of 2013, having only jumped up by 50,000 apps in just eight months. Of course, of all these new apps that have been made available, a lot of them are crap or spam apps. Only a handful of the 150,000 apps are actually considered “quality apps” – apps that have a balance between design, content, and usefulness. We are starting to see more quality apps come ...

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Microsoft has been under a storm of criticism lately over reading the emails of a blogger’s Hotmail account linked to an ex-Microsoft employee who leaked Windows 8 builds.  Microsoft looked through the Hotmail account without getting a court order.  However, this issue is slightly more nuanced than it seems.  A corporation, in fact, cannot get a court order to search themselves.  Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel released a statement clarifying the matter: Courts do not issue orders authorizing someone to search themselves, since obviously no such order is needed. So even when we believe we have probable cause, it’s not feasible to ask a court to order us to search ourselves. However, even we should not conduct a search of our own email and other customer services unless the circumstances would justify a court order, if one were available. Microsoft has issued some guidelines on looking customer data during ...

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It is common practice for corporations to charge the government for data requests.  There is a cost associated with maintaining records and having a legal departments comply with thousands of government requests over a year.  A charge for a request is a balance that ensures governments do not go overboard in data requests.  In fact the government is suing Sprint for over-charging the government for data requests. Documents released by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) show that what appear to be invoices and emails between Microsoft’s Global Criminal Compliance team and the FBI’s Digital Intercept Technology Unit (DITU), and purport to show exactly how much money Microsoft charges DITU, in terms of compliance costs, when DITU provides warrants and court orders for customers’ data.  The SEA has been targeting Microsoft and mostly recently gained access to the Skype social media accounts. In December 2012, for instance, Microsoft emailed DITU a PDF ...

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Microsoft announced today that Stephen J. Luczo, chairman and CEO of Seagate Technology PLC, has stepped down from the company’s board of directors. “It has been a pleasure serving on the Microsoft board, and helping to guide the company through such a historic period of change and reinvention,” Luczo said. “With the CEO search completed and Satya off to a strong start, this felt like an appropriate time to make this change so I can turn my full attention to leading Seagate. Seagate and Microsoft have a long history of working together, and I look forward to continued collaboration and partnership under Satya’s leadership.” “Steve has been an excellent board member, and I particularly appreciate all of his hard work as a member of the CEO search committee,” said John W. Thompson, chairman of the Microsoft board. “Steve also played an important role in helping to craft a compensation plan ...

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In a play on March Madness, Microsoft has created their own bracket of sorts.  Microsoft’s bracket contains a number of items offered at a discount.  There are four categories the PC/Tablet region, Xbox, Accessories, and Windows Phone.  You can vote for your favorite items to move them up in the bracket.  The item that wins in the end will be available in the Microsoft Store.  For participating in the bracket you have a chance to win $500. The contest is US and Canadian residents only and you can vote once a day until 4/3.  Each day you vote is a possible chance to win one of three $500 promotional gift codes.  The last offer standing will be available online and physically in Microsoft Stores. Take a shot at winning a $500 gift code by voting for your favorite deal. Microsoft is also running some limited-time offers on Surface, PCs, Xbox ...

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SharePoint Online now allows up to 1TB of storage for OneDrive for Business and SharePoint site collections in Office 365. An administrator can specify which specific users they want to assign new upper quotas of 50GB, 100GB, 250GB, 500GB or 1TB quota. The catch to this is once the default quota of 25GB for a user is exceeded you will be pulling storage out of the overall pooled tenant storage allocation (10GB + 500MB x total number of users) in the tenant.   If you have 10,000 A2 licensed users that equals 5TB of pooled tenant storage available.   You decide to up OneDrive for Business quota from default 25GB to 250GB for 4 users which consumes 1TB out of the 5TB leaving 4TB remaining of the overall pooled storage.   You can purchase more pooled tenant storage at a per GB / per Month charge if you require more. ...

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Microsoft has updated the Lync app for Windows 8/RT devices in Windows Store. The update is mainly focused on Lync Meeting presenters which brings most common features that are available in the desktop app. As a result, you can now manage your meeting participants from the modern Lync app. For most users of Windows 8.1, Lync will upgrade automatically within 24 hours. To get the update sooner, search for Lync and click Install. In addition to new features, we also continue to improve the ease of use for Lync.  We think you’ll like what we’ve done in this update.  Here’s an overview of what’s new: This update includes: Manage meeting participants individually or as a group. You can mute a participant, send a private IM, view their contact card, promote to presenter or demote to an attendee. You can also invite more participants, mute all audience, and admit people to the meeting who are waiting in ...

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During a talk at GDC 2014 aimed at ID@Xbox developers, Frank Savage, partner and development lead at Microsoft, said that rather than just ding players for poor, unsportsmanlike behavior on Xbox Live, players may be rewarded for exhibiting exemplary behavior. Don’t expect Rewards from Microsoft anytime soon, because Microsoft hasn’t determined what those rewards might be, and this idea is still in the “brainstorming” stages. Polygon reports: In an effort to promote better behavior on Xbox Live, Microsoft is planning to give rewards to Xbox One owners who contribute positively through their online interactions. Instead of simply penalizing players for bad behavior, the Xbox maker hopes to “actively encourage them to be better” in future Xbox Live updates. If your reputation is “soaring because you’re this amazing player that everyone wants to be with,” Xbox Live’s reputation algorithm may recognize that and dole out unspecified rewards. It’s Microsoft’s way of saying, “Thanks for being ...

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A few weeks back we reported of the RTM version of Windows 8.1 Update 1 leaking via Microsoft.  Microsoft quickly pulled the links down, but as we are now much closer to the official release date, it appears they are back online. Windows 8.1 x86 kb2919355 kb2919442   (you may already have this installed).​ kb2939087 kb2932046 kb2937592 kb2938439 Windows 8.1 x64 kb2919355 kb2919442   (you may already have this installed).​ kb2939087 kb2932046 kb2937592 kb2938439 Windows RT 8.1  ARM kb2919355 kb2919442   (you may already have this installed).​ kb2939087 kb2932046 kb2937592 kb2938439 The Updates must be installed in the following order: KB2919442  (you may already have this installed). KB2919355 KB2932046 KB2937592 KB2938439 KB2939087 These are the exact same update that were available on the servers a few weeks back.  If were lucky enough to already install them, no need to do it again. via Neowin ...

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Many developers descending on the Game Developers Conference (GDC) are expected to come toting prototype videogames, movies and virtual-reality goggles—updates of offerings that ignited a short-lived technology craze in the early 1990s.  Three-dimensional simulations enabled by special eyewear are expected to be a key in the this week in San Francisco. While Microsoft is expected to unveil DirectX 12 a new report suggests the Redmond software giant may have something to unveil in the ’3-D’ space as well.  The Wall Street Journal reports: Microsoft has also developed 3-D virtual-reality devices, people familiar with the project say, and it has filed at least one patent for it so far. The software company has been developing the technology concurrently with a project known as “Fortaleza,” or “fortress” in Portuguese. The effort has been discussed as an attempt at creating a suite of experiences unique to Microsoft’s Xbox products, people who have been privy ...

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A new study released Tuesday shows cybercrime is a booming business for organized crime groups all over the world. The study, conducted by IDC and the National University of Singapore (NUS), reveals that businesses worldwide will spend nearly $500 billion in 2014 to deal with the problems caused by malware on pirated software. Individual consumers, meanwhile, are expected to spend $25 billion and waste 1.2 billion hours this year because of security threats and costly computer fixes. Forensic analysis has uncovered that of 203 computers purchased in 11 countries as “new” (but actually loaded with pirated software), 61 percent were infected with dangerous malware. Most of the infected computers had more than one malware threat on them, and any one threat could infect multiple files. Sixty percent of consumers surveyed say their greatest fear from infected software is the loss of data, files or personal information, followed by unauthorized Internet transactions (51 ...

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Well known security software company AVAST had some harsh criticism for Microsoft.    For six years now we have known Microsoft’s plans of ending security support for Windows XP early next month.  Nevertheless, we have seen large corporations and governments unready to transition off the operating system. AVAST fears a security nightmare: Microsoft recently announced that technical support will no longer be available for Windows XP as of April 8, 2014, ending automatic updates for the operating system. Microsoft will also eventually stop providing anti-malware signature updates to XP users, in 2015. Abandoning Windows XP is a big mistake, especially since Microsoft has not been very successful in transitioning XP users to newer systems. The AVAST database shows that 23.6% of its more than 200 million users is still running Windows XP. The company also calls for users to abandon Internet Explorer and urges users to go to Google Chrome: ...

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Leslie Lamport of Microsoft Research is rewarded for his outstanding contributions to computer science with the 2013 ACM A.M. Turing Award.  Lamport is well known to computer scientists around the world for his foundational work in distributed computing, including the creation of the Paxos algorithm for implementing fault-tolerant distributed systems.  His 1978 paper Time, Clocks, and the Ordering of Events in a Distributed System is one of the most cited in the history of computer science. Lamport’s immense contributions have resulted in improved correctness, performance, and reliability of computer systems used around the world today. Source: Channel 9 ...

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Xbox executive Yusuf Mehdi announced the Xbox One would be expanding to 26 new markets by September.  Thus far the Xbox has primarily been sold in 13 ‘launch countries.’   Sony has been aggressive with the PS4 available in 54 markets.  Microsoft states that they will share more information at the end April, so sometime after the the Build conference.  The 26 new countries are: Argentina Belgium Chile Colombia Czech Republic Denmark Finland Greece Hungary India Israel Japan Korea Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Russia Saudi Arabia Singapore Slovakia South Africa Sweden Switzerland Turkey UAE While Russia is listed as a new market, it is unclear if this includes the recently annexed Crimea.  I have reached out to Microsoft for comment. Source: Xbox Wire ...

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Office for the iPad has been rumored for many years now, but it appears Microsoft is finally ready to unveil the product later this month.  According to reports, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will himself demo the product marking his first major public appearance since becoming CEO. Yesterday, Microsoft sent out press invites for an event in San Fransisco on March 27th and Microsoft is expected to unveil Office for iPad on that day. The Verge reported the below, We understand the iPad variant of Office will be similar to the iPhone version, and will require an Office 365 subscription for editing. We’re told that document creation and editing is fully supported for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps. Overall, the interface and features are expected to be similar to the existing iPhone version. Nadella’s unveiling of Office for iPad will be the first major press event for the new CEO. Microsoft ...

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Xbox Executive Marc Whitten is leaving Microsoft to join Sonos.  Terry Myerson is temporarily in charge of Xbox, we’ll analyze this fully in a follow up post.  Here are the official statements from Whitten and Microsoft, respectively. I started at Xbox on April 1, 2000, when the console was just a vision of what gaming could be. Over the last fourteen years, I’ve worked with an amazing team of highly passionate people who are driven to make gaming and entertainment the best experience for our Xbox fans. Since then, we’ve shipped over a hundred million consoles with tens of millions of people on Xbox Live. And, we are just getting started.  There are amazing things on the horizon and I am so excited to see where this talented group of men and women will take Xbox. One of the best parts of Xbox has been its fans. I want to thank you for making ...

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