rtfa-troll writes: The Register tells us that Microsoft has begun squabbling with PC manufacturers over the reasons behind the failure of Windows 8. Microsoft is "frustrated with major OEMs who didn't build nearly enough touch systems". PC manufacturers have hit back saying that they "would have been saddled with the costs of a huge piles of unsold units" claiming that customers actually avoided higher end touch products which were available and instead bought lower end cheaper laptops whilst "Microsoft is not blaming itself for" the failure of it's own touch device, surface RT. The PC manufacturer's claims that touch is the problem seem to be backed by reviews, and some educational rants from users and opinion from user interface design experts, however Microsoft sees this differently . Microsoft is planning to strike back at the PC vendors in February with Surface pro; with a shorter battery life and much heavier than a normal tablet, this is being seen as a direct competitor to traditional laptops. By using it's desktop operating system franchise as a lever Microsoft will be able to enter the lower specification end of the Laptop market with a cost advantage which make make life difficult for former partners such as HP and Dell.
rtfa-troll writes: Usability expert Jakob Nielsen has a detailed posting on Windows 8 Metro UI (sometimes called "Modern"). The article goes through the design mistakes which "strangles [the user's] productivity" and talks about the "Error-Prone Gestures" with "swipe ambiguity" included in Windows and discovered with only a limited level of usability testing. He then goes on to say that, whilst it is possible that 'Windows 9 will be "Metro Done Right"', "Windows 8 is Mr. Hyde: a monster that terrorizes poor office workers" and that the fundamental unsolvable problem is "the idea of recycling a single software UI for two very different classes of hardware devices." The saddest part of the article? Jakob is a well respected academic and when he previously criticised usability in iPad apps, one year later most of those apps had improved based on that feedback; reaction from Android was similar. In his criticism of Windows 8 he actually had to include a section "I Don't Hate Microsoft" through fear of being accused of being a "fanboy or a Microsoft hater". Will Microsoft listen or is it stuck in the echo chamber of it's online reputation managers?
rtfa-troll writes: One of the first reviews of Microsoft Windows 8 to include coverage of Microsoft's app store has been deleted almost before it was made available. Most reviews of the Surface tablet have focused on the base 32Gb flash memory and own brand keyboard whilst avoiding key tablet features such as screen resolution, weight, battery life and amount of space taken by the OS install. None so far have covered the details of the App store which is the only source of the "Modern Interface" (Metro) apps for the soon to arrive Surface tablets which are incapable of running traditional "Windows" desktop applications. In what seems a clear sign that the main IT media is not willing to allow criticism of Microsoft, one of the few reviews to cover Microsoft's Windows App store has been almost instantly disappeared from Gartner's blog site. The register has a screen dumped version of the review which, coming from Gartner, the Microsoft partner who predicted 20% market share for Mango (Windows Phone 7), is actually surprisingly "on message" to be deleted. With Microsoft putting well over a billion dollars into advertising, is there any chance that there will be fair reporting the failings of surface and Windows 8?
Microsoft has been very keen to stress that Windows Phone is a real Windows, using the same NT kernel and providing full integration with other Windows systems. Their hope is that corporate IT departments will push Windows Phone forward where consumers have rejected it. As mobile devices, Windows Phones will be continually exposed to varied external networks. The tight integration of Windows phone with user's existing Windows infrastructure, in contrast to the iOS and Android approach of making the phone fully independent and able to run stand-alone, makes the Windows 8 system an ideal bridgehead for attacks on home and corporate networks. Crisis uses Windows integration via the "Remote Application Programming Interface (RAPI)" to drop an unknown attack module direct to the phone. From that situation it's other major new features — the ability to attack Windows Virtual machines — and follow up into OS/X systems makes
In order to show the existence of the Windows phone module Symantec had to do full code analysis of Crisis, details given in the article. Unfortunately the Crisis attack module for Windows Phone has not yet been captured and is very likely not yet deployed in the wild, waiting for Windows 8 to start replace Windows Phone 7 in Crisis target environments. This means that protecting against any zero day vulnerabilities in the system is currently impossible. Worse; the knowledge of the almost certain existence of these vulnerabilities must inevitably lead to a scramble within the malware industry to work out how to take advantage of the vulnerabilities once they are finally discovered. Crisis is described as an "advanced threat" and seems to be part of a toolkit aimed primarily marketed to police forces.
rtfa-troll writes: Recently we reported on Microsoft's accusation that Google had been bypassing privacy controls. The story continued with Google attempting to explain the difficulties with P3P. Now, according to Computerworld, it turns out that Google was actually following a Microsoft recommendation and that prior to the accusation against Google, Microsoft deleted the support page with the recommendation (apparently still online at archive.org) which means that Google can no longer point to it to explain why they did what they did. The original article behind this (warning: PDF) goes into more detail about various aspects of privacy and P3P policies including what is wrong with Microsoft's recommendation.
rtfa-troll writes: Microsoft is preparing it's customers for plenty of outage time according to the Register, with a scheme for office 365 which will give customers some money back. The offer seems to be Microsoft's answer to Google offering a '100% uptime guarantee' (they even pay for maintenance time) The most interesting thing about the scheme is that you can have a one and a half day outage every month (or is that 18 solid days a year???) and still expect to pay half price. I wonder Microsoft have put the Sidekick management in charge of their customer's data. Looking forward my expense forms have getting eaten by the cloud so I have to fill them in again.