Microsoft is staying committed to a promise made by their chief counsel Brad Smith a few months ago. Smith said the company would fight legal demands from U.S. authorities to turn over data stored in Microsoft computing hubs outside the country. The promise was made after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents that claimed Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and others were complicit in helping the U.S. government spy on its citizens. Brad Smith today posted on WSJ that Microsoft will oppose the U.S. government at a hearing in federal court tomorrow in New York, arguing that it can’t force American tech companies to turn over customer emails stored exclusively in company data centers in other countries. Microsoft believes you own emails stored in the cloud, and that they have the same privacy protection as paper letters sent by mail. This means, in our view, that the U.S. government can obtain emails only subject to ...

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Microsoft offices in China were raided today by Chinese government officials for unknown reasons. China’s State Administration for Industry & Commerce made the visits to Microsoft offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu. Yesterday, no exact reason was specified by Chinese government regarding this sudden investigation. Today, a Chinese regulator confirmed that they are conducting an anti-monopoly investigation into Microsoft over its Windows OS. Generally, anti-monopoly investigations are done when some company dominates the market by practicing unethical business practices. Even though Microsoft’s Windows is so popular in China, Microsoft’s revenue from China is almost negligible. Former CEO Steve Ballmer noted in one of this speech that Microsoft earns less revenue in China than in Netherlands. Even if found guilty, Microsoft may see fines of 1-10 percent of its China revenue which I think will be less $400 million for sure. Source: Reuters ...

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Ahead of the Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft today made no.of announcements on the Azure platform with new and enhanced cloud services. It ranges from increased data center capacity to improved Azure preview portal. 1) Azure Preview Portal enhancements: Microsoft is making Azure preview portal—that bridges the gap between infrastructure and platform services more richer day by day. Today, they announced new IaaS functionality, resource group enhancements, Azure image gallery updates, Azure SQL database and more. 2) New Event Hub: With Azure Event Hub, which launches in preview next week, you can reliably and efficiently stream millions of events per second from millions of devices into multiple applications and storage systems. 3) Expansion of Azure ExpressRoute: Today ExpressRoute is available in three locations in the US and Europe, but thanks to our growing partnership with Equinix, access to Azure via ExpressRoute will roll out in six additional locations around the world. ...

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Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith today(Yes, on Saturday!) blogged about his views on recent ruling regarding consumer privacy by the US supreme court. It was the case of Riley v. California in which court ruled that warrantless searches cannot be extended to mobile devices and government agencies should get a warrant to search a device of the accused. Over time, privacy protection has advanced in key moments. These have involved judges and advocates who appreciated new technologies and found ways to ensure privacy prevailed in a changing world. This week’s unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in the case of Riley v. California ranks with other key historical moments. More than in any other recent decision, the Supreme Court this week advanced privacy in a digital era characterized by ubiquitous computing. As a result, the scales of justice shifted in a profound way toward a new ideal of privacy in a digital ...

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Microsoft today lauded the efforts by Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) for announcing a regulatory framework for unlicensed access to unused radio spectrum in the broadcast TV frequency bands, known as TV white spaces (TVWS). As the usage of mobile devices and wireless data usage increases, we are in need of more spectrum bandwidth. As policymakers in many countries are actively looking to both maximise spectrum resources and increase the efficiencies made in their use, white spaces is one of the active domains which is being explored. Microsoft has long advocated for increasing access to spectrum with more flexible and forward-looking regulation. We commend Singapore’s IDA for their open, consultative and forward-looking approach to this issue, and the release now of the response to their recent industry consultation. With this statement, IDA has positioned Singapore at the forefront globally of a movement that will reform spectrum allocation and revolutionize access and usage ...

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Last Friday, we reported that AT&T and Verizon has filed their support for Microsoft’s case in the court. Today, Cisco and Apple have joined others by filing a a joint amicus brief detailing their response. Other tech companies are also expected to join Microsoft soon. Back story on what’s going on, Microsoft has a global network of data centers included more than one million computers in more than 100 data centers spread over 40 countries. Microsoft as an enterprise vendor stores data of lots of different organizations and companies around the world in its various data center. As per US law, Microsoft is forced the disclose the content it stores in its data centers on request from agencies like FBI. Microsoft is now challenging the authority of federal prosecutors to force the Microsoft to hand over a customer’s email stored in a data center in Ireland. Microsoft’s argument is that, just ...

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Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, a decade old OS back in April. Since lots of Chinese Government computers still use Windows XP, they are exposed to security attacks. Last month, Chinese government made a strange move by announcing the ban of Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS in government computers. As per reports, the ban is due to the notice on the use of energy-saving products. The official Xinhua news claimed that it was due to security concerns. There were also reports that Microsoft supporting NSA for spying Chinese computers running Windows XP, etc,. Microsoft has posted the following information on its official Weibo account to clarify on this matter, Microsoft has never assisted any government in an attack of another government or clients. Microsoft has never provided any government the authority to directly visit our products or services. Microsoft has never provided any so-called “Backdoor” into its products or services. ...

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Yesterday, we reported that Chinese government made a strange move by announcing the ban of Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS in government computers. As per reports, the ban was due to the notice on the use of energy-saving products. The official Xinhua news agency claimed that it was due to security concerns. “The Chinese government obviously cannot ignore the risks of running OS without guaranteed technical support,” it reported. It is not yet clear on what exactly is the cause of Windows 8 ban. Just like everyone of us, Microsoft is also surprised by the move and will push Windows 7 for now to these government agencies. “We were surprised to learn about the reference to Windows 8 in this notice. “Microsoft has been working proactively with the Central Government Procurement Centre and other government agencies through the evaluation process to ensure that our products and services meet all government procurement ...

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Chinese government today made a strange move by announcing the ban of Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS in government computers. As per reports, the ban is due to the notice on the use of energy-saving products. The official Xinhua news claims that it was due to security concerns. It is not yet clear on what exactly is the cause of Windows 8 ban. The Central Government Procurement Center issued the ban on installing Windows 8 on government computers as part of a notice on the use of energy-saving products, posted on its website last week. The official Xinhua news agency said the ban was to ensure computer security after Microsoft ended support for its Windows XP operating system, which was widely used in China. Neither the government nor Xinhua elaborated on how the ban supported the use of energy-saving products, or how it ensured security. Microsoft is yet to comment on ...

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Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released its fourth annual reportrating technology companies on their efforts to protect customer data from the government. Microsoft was awarded the maximum of 6 stars since Microsoft met every one of six factors that companies were rated against, including the stringency of the legal demands companies require before providing data, their efforts to notify customers about government demands, and more. Microsoft commented the following on this honor, EFF’s award of six out of six stars to Microsoft is a reflection of the guiding principles, practices and policies that Microsoft employs on behalf of all customers. We encourage you to review the report for additional details and trends impacting data privacy. EFF’s report on Microsoft can be read below, Microsoft earns 6 stars in this year’s Who Has Your Back report. We are pleased to see Microsoft requiring a warrant before handing user data to the government ...

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Microsoft, Verizon, and other tech giants have long believed that the United States cannot force a company to hand over data stored outside the United States. Verizon’s chief lawyer Randall Milch publically commented on this issue in February. He said that the company’s view is “simple,” adding: “The U.S. government cannot compel us to produce our customers’ data stored in datacenters outside the U.S., and, if it attempts to do so, we would challenge that attempt in court.” Microsoft’s deputy general counsel David Howard also released a statement on the issue: The U.S. government doesn’t have the power to search a home in another country, nor should it have the power to search the content of email stored overseas. Microsoft’s chief legal counsel warned last December that Microsoft would fight any attempt by governments to seize data not located within their country: “…assert available jurisdictional objections to legal demands when governments ...

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The Chinese government has made the decision to stick with Windows even though the operating system has reached end-of-life. Senior official Yan Xiaohong commented that upgrading to Windows 8 would be “fairly expensive.” Windows 8 costs 888 yuan (£84 or $142) in China. However in some cases the government would have to buy new hardware to upgrade to Windows 8. China is not paying Microsoft for extended Windows XP support. Instead, Chinese security providers have released special protection products to patch up the system, which the government is now “appraising” for use. It is estimated that nearly 70% of computers in China are still using Windows XP. IE6 usage in China remains well over 20%, while the rest of the world remains under 1%. It is believed that 90% of Windows XP usage in China comes from pirated copies of the operating system. However, since  a crackdown in 2010 most government agencies ...

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Microsoft recently announced the general availability of Office 365 in China. It will be operated by 21Vianet, to offer Office 365 from local data centers within China. Microsoft announced the general availability of Microsoft Azure, operated by 21Vianet in China last month. China is rapidly adopting cloud services – The Shanghai government, for example, is an early adopter of Office 365 operated by 21Vianet. Led by the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Information, different departments of the Shanghai government explore the advanced productivity capabilities provided by Office 365 operated by 21Vianet in order to improve efficiency and build a service-oriented government. In addition, Office 365 operated by 21Vianet is used by the Shaanxi government to set up their IT infrastructure and foster regional growth in the Xi Xi’an new area. Commercial customers ICBC Leasing, Cigna & CMB, Dongfeng Renault, TCL were all at the Shanghai launch event as early ...

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Microsoft officially ended its support for Windows XP last week. More that 25% of the internet connected PCs are still running Windows XP and the vast majority of them are from enterprises and government agencies. Last week we reported that UK government has signed a deal with Microsoft to provide Windows XP support and security updates across the whole UK public sector for 12 months after regular support for the operating system ends on 8 April. The agreement is worth £5.548m (over $7.6 million), and covers critical and important security updates for Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003, all of which have reached end of life in Microsoft’s normal product cycles. In a similar way, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be paying Microsoft millions for an extra year of security patches. ZDNet today reported that Microsoft has reduced the price of such custom support for Windows XP customers. ...

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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, via Corporate Vice President of  Microsoft Technology Policy David Tennenhouse, has released a statement about the US government relinquishing control of internet addresses.  As far as I’m concerned it’s a fairly hollow statement made only after it was certain transition would be made. The U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s recent announcement of its intent to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multi-stakeholder community is a significant and welcome development. Unlike the other major international communications networks (e.g., the telephone system and postal systems), there has been no single government-led organization that has guided the evolution and growth of the Internet. Instead, “Internet governance” has been the responsibility of literally dozens of different organizations, involving academics, technologists, government and business working collaboratively to create and implement the key standards, shape business practices, and develop norms that have enabled the Internet to grow at an ...

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