An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news...
More Security Problems for IE
Security experts at Secunia identified three new Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) vulnerabilities this week, bringing to 12 the number of security flaws found in just the last 60 days. Secunia rates two of the flaws as moderately critical, and one is rated not critical. All three flaws affect even the version of IE 6 that ships in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), which makes them a bit more alarming than might usually be the case. That IE version is supposed to mitigate entire classes of attacks to which other IE versions are susceptible. My advice to IE users remains the same: I understand why you use IE, but seriously, you need to start looking at alternatives.
FUD? Microsoft Warns Asian Governments They Might Be Sued Over Linux Use
According to a Reuters report, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has warned various governments in Asia that they face possible intellectual property rights lawsuits if they adopt Linux. That's because Linux violates at least 228 patents, according to Ballmer, who, by the way, has a competing product to sell you if you're listening. Ballmer also touted Windows' security advantages, which is, at best, an interesting argument. "We think our software is far more secure," Ballmer said during a meeting this week at Microsoft's Asian Government Leaders Forum in Singapore. "It is more secure because we stand by it, we fixed it, because we built it. Nobody ever knows who built open-source software." Actually, that statement isn't strictly true. I'm pretty sure it was a guy named Eddie.
Hotmail Goes International
Although Microsoft has offered its MSN Hotmail email service in various countries for years, this week the company announced that many international customers will now be able to get country-specific Hotmail email addresses. New Hotmail users in Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and the UK can now get country-specific addresses. "If you live in the UK, instead of getting an email address @hotmail.com, you'll be able to get one @hotmail.co.uk," Microsoft Vice President Brian Arbogast said. Previously, users could get only hotmail.com email addresses, the company says. Hotmail currently has more than 287 million active email accounts, making it difficult for new customers to find a meaningful email address.
And I Thought I Got a Lot of Spam
I spend more time than I'd like to admit deleting and managing spam, but my experience is apparently nothing like that of Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates, who receives more than 4 million email messages a day, most of them spam. But the reason my experience is nothing like Gates's is that I don't have an army of worker bees ensuring that only the most important messages get through. According to Ballmer, who discussed Gates's email woes this week at the aforementioned Asian Government Leaders Forum in Singapore, Microsoft has a "whole department" of people that "mostly takes care" of Gates's email. Yes, seriously. Gates also employs "special technology" from Microsoft to filter his email. But at the risk of sounding sarcastic (hard to believe, I know), why do I get the feeling that human filtering, not technology, is really what's working to ensure Gates doesn't have to sift through innumerable offers for free Rolex watches, as I do?
Gates Outlines New Microsoft Management Tools
And speaking of Gates, everyone's favorite chief software architect was in Europe this week to speak at Microsoft IT Forum 2004. Gates unveiled the public beta of the long-awaited Windows Update Services (WUS), an upgrade to the patch-management tool formerly known as Software Update Services (SUS), which was, frankly, a better name because the product patches Microsoft products other than Windows. He also touted the new Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 Migration Toolkit, Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), and two new feature packs for Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003. If you're interested in testing the WUS beta, visit the Microsoft Web site.
Microsoft and Yahoo! Extend Advertisement Deal
In a curious move, given the competitive nature of the market they're both in, Yahoo! extended its deal to advertise on Microsoft's MSN Web sites. Under terms of the new deal, Yahoo! will advertise on MSN through June 2006. I'm curious. Does this mean I'm going to see ads for Yahoo!'s email service when I check my mail on Hotmail? Isn't that a little odd?
MSN Music Opens Up to Independent Music
MSN Music and independent music service GarageBand.com announced this week that MSN Music will soon begin featuring independent music artists. Under terms of the deal, MSN Music will initially carry five of the top GarageBand.com artists but will eventually stock the entire catalog of free downloads from GarageBand.com. Musicians associated with GarageBand.com agree to give away their music to gain a wider audience.
Linux Maker Linspire Now Natively Supports Windows Media
This week, Linspire announced native support for Windows Media Audio (WMA) and Windows Media Video (WMV), giving users of the Linspire Linux distribution access to a much wider range of online audio and video content than would otherwise be possible. Popular sites such as FOXNews.com and Movies.com offer content only in Windows Media formats, Linspire says, making the deal necessary. However, as Linspire CEO Michael Robertson points out, Microsoft isn't giving the company the full-meal deal. Linspire users still can't access Digital Rights Management (DRM)-protected Windows Media content that music and movie services such as CinemaNow, MSN Music, and Napster offer. Linspire said that it requested a license for that type of content but was "rebuffed by Microsoft, who said they will not license a general computing platform."