A Few Unneeded Thoughts on WannaCry

Since everyone is dumping their two cents about WannaCry I was feeling kind of left out.  I have a few thoughts about all this.  The overarching thing is this, the current system is broken.
Since the news broke of the malware late last week this has all started to take on a political war.  Everyone get on your side and start blaming someone.   In times like these we have to remember that nuance is hard, but nuance is needed.  Is Microsoft financially liable for this?  Given that they have been very clear about what gets support and what does not the answer is obviously no.  When it comes to PR that is a different story.  Microsoft released a patch to those paying for extended Windows XP support a few months ago.  This means that Microsoft had the tools in place to stop this outbreak.  Those that paid received it which seems to make sense as long as you don’t consider the fallout of having a huge malware story leading the evening newscast talking about “Microsoft Windows”.  Given that Microsoft quickly released the security update to everyone following the incident they also noticed this.

Last night Microsoft posted this:

The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call. They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world. We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits. This is one reason we called in February for a new “Digital Geneva Convention” to govern these issues, including a new requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them. And it’s why we’ve pledged our support for defending every customer everywhere in the face of cyberattacks, regardless of their nationality. This weekend, whether it’s in London, New York, Moscow, Delhi, Sao Paulo, or Beijing, we’re putting this principle into action and working with customers around the world.

I strongly disagree with this stance from Microsoft.  First if you tell the NSA that they have to turn over everything they find, guess what happens next?  They don’t have the need to do this anymore.  What incentive would our intelligence agencies have to do Microsoft’s work for them?  Microsoft’s job is to sell a product that makes money, the intelligence agencies job is to defend the citizens of the United States of America.  Now the tools, and how they do that is another debate.  If you think that the NSA is going to hand over bugs they find without wanting something back you are living on another planet.  Do we really want a world where the large tech companies have a symbiotic relationship with the CIA, NSA, etc?  Step one in this argument seems easy, where it goes from there is a tad harder.

We have to do something to address this in the future.  One of the big memes that has come out of this mess is that what will happen when your autonomous car is requiring $300 not to drive you off a cliff.  This is a bit much, but it made me think.  Right now car manufacturers are required to pay the cost of repairs and fixes that hit the level of needing a “safety recall” for ten years.  That means they must fix the seatbelt they sold with issues for ten years after the last one is sold.  This is a good starting point for tech.  Operating system and hardware vendors alike must come up with a standard across the industry that all must follow.  I think ten years for security should be that standard for business or institutional related devices.  If every company or government knows that every product they buy has a max of 10 years of shelf life they will be able to budget and plan in a better manner.  It will also allow vendors to offer longer service as a sales point.  I am talking a bare minimum.

We also need a similar setup for consumers.  Google announced last week that their own Pixel phone will get three years of security patches before it is cutoff.  That is three years from launch not from your purchase date.  This is not good enough. Security, not feature, updates should be required for five years from the last day the OEM sells the device.  Tying security to some average wireless contract is just dangerous.  There are many parts of the world where secondary market phones are big business.  You are pretty much telling those customers that their safety and security does not mean anything, and in many cases they live in places where security from their own government is paramount.

How do we do this?  How do we even start this discussion?  I am sure I am wrong about a few details above, and I may be off on how long things should be supported but I am confident in my belief that something has to be done now.  I have zero faith in tech companies doing this on their own.  This is why we have government, and it’s time they act. People look at the word “regulation” as some obstacle.  Remember the next time you get on an airplane that it is government regulation standing between your safety and some airline actuary selling shareholders on how many crashes they can incur before it hurts the bottom line.  Hey we saved a few billion on repairs and only seven planes crashed, pop the champagne as the stock price just went up!

My Thoughts on Windows 10 Anniversary Update

I wrote a little something over on the Agnostic Tech Podcast site.

The bottom line is this. My thesis on Windows 10 has not changed. Microsoft is throwing crap against the wall in order to make an enterprise ready operating system by 2020. That is when support for Windows 7 will end for their big paying customers. Those using Windows 10 today are just guinea pigs for this purpose. If you have to use Windows 10, use it as you would your Windows 7 machine. Don’t be confused when you read reviews on the mainstream tech sites saying that this is a nice update. It is if you setup the machine as you would a Windows 7 PC. That is all they are doing.

Read the rest here….

ZDNET Should be Ashamed

iOS, Android, and Windows too: Quit your bitching and upgrade already


Author: Jason Perlow

But I will save you some time in the upgrade decision process. If your computer is four years old or more, it’s probably time to say goodbye. If your PC only has 1GB or 2GB of RAM, don’t even attempt the OS upgrade. Go buy a new one, or spend a little bit of money on a memory upgrade if your system can accommodate it. You’ll be way, way happier with your system’s overall performance.

I get it. You don’t want your software updated or upgraded. You believe your system is static, that if it works now, it will continue to work the same as it does always. You don’t want to change, because that would mean acquiring new skills, or doing something differently.

Or worse — the possibility of having to spend money. You’ll be damned if that awful, evil vendor makes you spend more of your hard-earned cash.

I read this awful article the other day, and just laughed and closed the tab. Then this morning I see on Twitter that the author of this piece works for Microsoft. That is right, an online tech publication that has earned the trust of many readers allows an employee of Microsoft to spam their site with this garbage. Everyone involved should be ashamed, and any journalistic entity that allows this should be not called a journalistic entity, but a PR mouthpiece for corporations.

Maybe Mr. Perlow would like to answer my e-mails and calls from people who have been screwed by the Windows 10 upgrade. Maybe ZDNET would like to send out teams of people to help small businesses that have had their point of sale terminals become unusable or have had their accounting software refuse to open.

Lastly maybe Microsoft should learn that allowing employees to do this does nothing but hurt the image of their own company. This is failure all around. We should demand better.

Is Microsoft’s Board Getting Worried?

Microsoft Board Mulls Sales Force Revamp to Speed Shift to Cloud


Author: Dina Bass

Board members at Microsoft Corp. are grappling with a growing concern: that the company’s traditional software business, which makes up the majority of its sales, could evaporate in a matter of years — and Chairman John Thompson is pushing for a more aggressive shift into newer cloud-based products.

A month before Microsoft’s fiscal year comes to a close a board member going on the record like this is interesting. The next few earnings calls are going to be something to watch.

Windows 10, We Have A Problem….

These headlines have shown up in my RSS reader over the last few days.  I can’t argue with any of them.  Since the Windows 10 launch it has been obvious the package delivered to users was not ready for prime time.  I have had issues with Mail, Edge, and some awful problems with Action Center that took me editing the registry to fix.  For the most part the OS has been “okay”, but the built in apps that shipped with Windows 10 were not ready.  Given that Microsoft’s big sell with Windows 10 was the new universal app platform this is a shame.  Even those that are okay with operating system will give apps like Edge a try, and never go back.  So Microsoft may fix the bugs, but shipping bad software is going to harm the long term impact of the universal app store.  Does it really help Microsoft if users upgrade to Windows 10, but still use just win32 apps like Chrome, iTunes, etc like they did on their Windows 7 machines?
Many had issues with the user interface of Windows 8, but that operating system launched in a much better working state.

P.S. Bring back OneDrive Placeholders.

Screenshot 2015-09-15 09.43.38Screenshot 2015-09-15 09.43.16

Microsoft’s Dangerous Gamble

Well it is Windows 10 week.  While details are still a little sketchy, we do know that some users will start to get their Windows 10 upgrade this week.  There will also be some new hardware available from their “partners” at Dell, Lenovo, HP, and others.  

I am glad to see those OEM partners coming out with new hardware at launch.  They are the reason Windows 10 is coming out this week, and not in October.  As Paul Thurrott has written on his site, the OEM partners have been pushing Microsoft to move up this release so they could get out new hardware for back to school. I mean after the Windows 8 disaster these companies feel that Microsoft owes them.  So Microsoft decided to go along and release what they have ready now, and has promised that other features will come later.  Many will come in the fall when Windows 10 should be launching.

Here is the thing though.  These OEMs who pushed Microsoft into this July launch are going to be the first to throw Microsoft under the bus if this launch does not go well.  They will be the first people to start releasing public apologies blaming Microsoft for bugs that are going to be in these early releases of Windows 10.  

Microsoft had a choice on a timeline, and they capitulated to Dell, HP, and others.  While I understand why they want to get new hardware out for back to school, I also would like to know where HP would go if Microsoft said they had to wait until October?  We will know in a few days if this gamble paid off.  

Note to Microsoft Press and “Fans”: Stop The Whining

I have not written in a while, but thanks to IFTTT my Instagram photos have been keeping this site full of fun and exciting pictures.  Okay, maybe they are not fun or exciting!  Then I see something that makes me angry, so here I am.

This week Facebook is cutting off access to a very old version of their Graph API.  An API that has been updated over and over again.  At an event well over a year ago Facebook announced that they would be cutting off access to this old version, and that anyone who uses it should update their app or service to use the new version.  So this week Microsoft posts that because of this change many Microsoft services that were connected to Facebook using this ancient version of an API were no longer going to work.  Then comes the crazy and stupid headlines.  Some said that Facebook was f**king Microsoft, and many others made it sound like Facebook was going after Microsoft users specifically.  This was factually incorrect, but that does not matter.

This reminds me of the Google cutting off Exchange Active Sync story from a couple of years ago.  If you just listened to and read many that covered or followed Microsoft you would think that Google was targeting the twelve Windows Phone users (I was one of them at the time).  The truth is that this was a move by Google that impacted a lot more iPhone users who used EAS to connect their Gmail accounts.  Google was trying to force their free users to use the Gmail app in order to have push e-mail.  If you still wanted EAS access, they said pay up for a Google Apps account.  You can disagree with what Google did to their users, but this was not a shot at Microsoft or Windows users.  They were doing what every company is doing, trying to get their users to use the official app.

Then there was the YouTube app debacle.  Google once again did not make an app for Windows Phone users, so Microsoft at the time decides to build their own app.  There are ways to make a third party YouTube app that works, but that is not what Microsoft did.  They built an app that broke every rule Google had set for app developers in order to get the reaction they did from Google.  Microsoft even had an option to download videos in the app!  This was going on at the same time that Microsoft was running an online and TV ad campaign called “Scroogled”.  Somehow people wanted you to believe that Google was the one targeting Microsoft here.  The truth is that Microsoft was poking Google over and over again trying to get Google to react so Microsoft can spin it and use public pressure to get an official app.  Well that did not work.

The good news is that the new regime at Microsoft stopped the “Scroogled” campaign, and seems to have moved pass this mentality.  Microsoft is going back to what they do best, making software.  This software is now running well on every platform their customers run.  From iOS to Android to Windows, you can use Microsoft’s software and services and Microsoft says thank you.  It is time for Microsoft users and the press that covers them to realize the reality they now live in.  Facebook and Google are not going out their way to target Windows Phone users.  Apple and Google are in the middle of  a holy war over privacy, but Google is still creating new apps for iOS.  They are doing what they need to do to run their own business.  The same way Microsoft is now doing what they have to do.

Metro Design Lives On…

So it looks like the Metro design language Microsoft used starting with Windows Phone 7 continues on, just not on Windows Phone anymore.  Google is updating their YouTube app on Android, and it looks oddly familiar.
Screenshot 2015-03-15 11.57.47

New YouTube Interface Rolling Out To Some Users Ditches The Hamburger Menu

Many Windows Phone users and developers were not happy with Microsoft’s changes, and this will only add fuel to the fire.  As Microsoft plays catch up by adding in the Hamburger menu, it appears others are already moving away from a menu system that many find less productive.

Peter Bright of Ars Technica sums up my feeling about the whole thing three tweets.

Apple Smells Blood

Apple over the last decade has not been a company that is great at inventing new categories, it is great at knowing when to jump into a category.  They did not invent the smartphone, but the moment teenage girls started clamoring for a Blackberry Apple knew it was their time.

That time is coming again, and no it is not in the watch or car category.  It is in the PC category.  There are a lot of rumors of two new devices coming out from Apple.  One is a larger iPad which will support a keyboard and stylus.  The other is the 12.9 inch MacBookAir.  This is Apple’s SurfaceRT and SurfacePro.  However, I don’t expect Apple to have the same struggles Microsoft did when launching these products.  Microsoft Surface Pro 3 was the first in that lineup that is having success, so Apple will see this as a sign that the time is now.

As one of the few people that thought SurfaceRT and WindowsRT were the right products for Microsoft, an iPad Pro will be the same.  A powerful product that gives you the productivity you need without the normal maintenance requirements of a full blown desktop OS.  We have all seen people using a portable keyboard with an iPad, and they are doing this without Apple fully buying in.  This can change that.  The MacBookAir is already a popular PC, but this will be a much better machine with a higher res display and better battery life.

One company that knows what is about to come is Microsoft.  They are going full in the Apple ecosystem.  Their apps are now first and best on iOS, and just this week a preview of the next version of desktop Office came to OS X.  For the first time an Office user will not feel like the wicked stepchild on their Mac.  This is a big improvement.  Microsoft is definitely now a software and services company.  They are going to care less and less what platform you use those services on.  Just this week we have seen partnerships with Samsung and this Office for Mac release.

There are going to be a lot of upset users who are all in on the Windows ecosystem. Windows will still be core to Microsoft, but don’t expect Microsoft to give their OS users any extra love.  I also would not expect Microsoft to stay in the hardware game much longer.  Why take a loss for each Windows mobile phone you sell when you can make money on other platforms?  One thing is for sure, Microsoft and Google are in a full fledged fight for the iOS home screen!