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Microsoft releases program to spot abuse images

July 27, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cloud Computing, Dr Search, Microsoft, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has released a free program that lets website owners spot when images of child abuse are being shared by users.

Microsoft has released a free program that lets website owners spot when images of child abuse are being shared by usersMicrosoft said that it had made the PhotoDNA tool available to tackle the 720,000 abuse images uploaded to the net every day. Many large social media networks are already using PhotoDNA to police uploaded images

Police forces, anti-abuse organisations and large social networks have been using the tool for some time to dig out the illegal images.

Microsoft said the online tool was for small firms that lack the resources to do image-checking themselves.

Spotting abuse images among the 1.8 billion pictures uploaded to online services every day was an almost impossible task, said Courtney Gregoire, a senior lawyer at Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit in a blogpost outlining the initiative.

While many large social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Flipboard were already using PhotoDNA, before now it had not been available to smaller online services, she said.

“We needed an easier, more scalable way to identify and detect these worst-of-the-worst images,” said Ms Gregoire.

The PhotoDNA system has been used to analyse and classify images of child sexual abuse held by Interpol, police forces and the US National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.

The technology generates a signature or hash for each image that can be compared with any new image to see if there is a match. It can spot images it has seen before even if they are cropped or otherwise manipulated to avoid detection systems.

Many of the images shared online have been seen before and spotting people trading them can help police forces unearth abusers previously unknown to them.

The free service puts PhotoDNA in the cloud and lets websites check images uploaded by users.

Microsoft profits from cloud services

April 25, 2014 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cloud Computing, Computers, Microsoft, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has announced a increase in it’s profits- grown by increased use of cloud services.

Microsoft profits from cloud servicesMicrosoft earnings were buoyed by new CEO Satya Nadella’s cloud vision as these earnings are the first Microsoft has released with new chief executive in charge.

Microsoft reported net profits of £3.37 billion in the first quarter of 2014- which was better than finance markets had estimated.

The software maker’s efforts to move further into cloud computing – a move championed by new chief executive Satya Nadella – seem to be paying off.

Azure, a cloud computing product, saw revenue grow 150%, Microsoft.

The company also said it added 1 million users to its subscription-based Office programme for personal users.

Microsoft sold in 2 million Xbox consoles, including 1.2 million Xbox Ones during the period.

“We are making good progress in our consumer services like Bing and Office 365 Home, and our commercial customers continue to embrace our cloud solutions,” said chief executive Satya Nadella, who replaced Steve Ballmer in February.

However, Microsoft was hurt by declining personal computer sales, as users continue to shift to other technologies.

Overall, profits declined by 6.5% compared to the same period last year.

Microsoft shares rose close to 3% in after-hours trading.

Microsoft and Google clash over smartphone apps

April 18, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Customer Service, Google, Microsoft, Mobile Marketing, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has accused Google of pushing Android handset makers to use its apps like YouTube and Maps.
Microsoft and Google clash over smartphone apps
Along with Oracle, Nokia and 14 other tech firms, Microsoft has filed a complaint with the European Commission.

The group, known as FairSearch, argues that Google is abusing its dominance of the mobile market.

“We are asking the commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market,” said Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel for FairSearch.

“Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system,” he added.

Android is now the dominant mobile operating system, accounting for 70% of the market, according to research firm Gartner.

The complaint describes Google’s Android operating system as a “trojan horse”, offered to device makers for free. In return they are “required to pre-load an entire suite of Google mobile services and to give them prominent default placement on the phone,” the complaint reads.

Google is also under fire for its common user privacy policy which groups 60 sets of rules into one and allows the company to track users more closely.

Last week six European data protection agencies, including the UK and France, threatened legal action if Google did not make changes to its policy.

In October a European Commission working party said its privacy policy did not meet Commission standards on data protection.

It gave Google four months to comply with its recommendation. Google maintains that the new policy “respects European law”.

Microsoft itself is no stranger to EC criticism- in March it was fined £484 million for failing to promote a range of web browsers in its Windows 7 operating system.

Microsoft profits fall 22% waiting for Windows 8 launch

October 24, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, Microsoft, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has reported a 22% fall in quarterly profits after waiting for the release of its Windows 8 operating system and its latest version of Office.Microsoft profits fall 22% waiting for Windows 8 launchNet profit for the three months to September fell to £2.79 billion ($4.47 billion), from £3.58 billion a year earlier and consequently they missed shareholder expectations.

Total revenues fell 8% to £10 billion.

PC sales fell as consumers either put off new purchases in a tight economy or opted for tablet devices instead.

Microsoft deferred a total of £850 million of revenue, which it will regain in the following quarter.

This included £489 million in licence fees for PCs pre-loaded with Windows 8, because it cannot recognise the revenue until the units go on sale on 26 October.

It also deferred £240 million for PCs that shipped with Windows 7 but are eligible for a £9.50 upgrade to Windows 8, and £118 million for PCs that shipped with the new version of Office or are eligible for an upgrade.

Microsoft shares fell 3% in extended trading.

AMD supports Android apps on Windows 8

October 08, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Android, Apps, Computers, Customer Service, Google, Microsoft, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Further to our last post on the ongoing Microsoft and Google battles– here comes another twist as Microsoft is working hard to convince developers to make apps for it’s Windows 8 operating system.AMD supports Android apps on Windows 8What this means is that some Windows 8 laptops and PCs could end up running more Android apps than those written specifically for Microsoft’s software.

Machines built around chips made by AMD will come optimised to run the Android apps.

A collaboration between AMD and software firm Bluestacks lets the devices run the 500,000 apps more usually found on Android phones.

By contrast, Microsoft reportedly only has a few thousand apps written specifically for Windows 8 at launch.

The Android apps will be available on Windows 8 devices via AMD’s AppZone player.

Inside this is code from Bluestacks that acts as a wrapper around the mobile phone programs so they can run on desktops, laptops and tablets.

AMD has made changes to the core code that runs its processors and graphics cards to ensure apps built for the small screens on mobile phones look good and run well on larger displays.

The player also lets users synchronise their apps across both a PC and an Android phone or tablet.

AMD has about a 25% share of the market for desktops computers with the UK’s ARM chasing them rapidly.

As Windows 8 has been developed to work well with portable devices such as tablets, Microsoft has been working to create an ecosystem of apps for the operating system.

Bluestacks’ Android-running software also works on Intel-powered devices, including Macs, but typically has to be installed after a gadget has been bought and booted up.

Bluestacks is also talking to other PC makers to get its software installed as PCs are put together in a factory.

Google ends old Office file formats app

October 05, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Computers, Google, Microsoft, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Google has warned it’s app users that they will be unable to download documents to their computers in Microsoft Office 1997-2003 formats from the start of the month.Google ends old Office file formats appThe decision continues Google’s continuing battle against Microsoft.

However Google Apps runs in the cloud- which provides an alternative to Microsoft’s Office productivity suite.

Users of versions of Office bought before 2007 may be unable to open documents modified using Google Apps.

The formats which are no longer supported are .doc, .xls and .ppt.

Google issued the warning on its Google Apps update blog earlier this week.

Google Apps users will still be able to open and edit documents that were created in the older formats once the change comes into effect, but they will be unable to save them on their computer or pass them on to others in their original format.

For people who use Office 2003 or earlier, the move creates an obstacle to sharing documents with Google Apps users.

That is because once modified in Google Apps, a document created in Microsoft’s suite may no longer be usable by the document’s original author.

Google now supports saving documents in Microsoft’s newer .docx, .xlsx and .pptx formats used in Office 2007 and Office 2010, as well as other formats including Open Document Format (.odf and .ods), a freely available standard used as the default format by free office suites including OpenOffice and LibreOffice.

Web browser market share- latest research results

September 17, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Browser, Customer Service, Google, internet, Microsoft, Mozilla, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The lastest web browser market share results have been announced for August 2012.Web browser market share- latest research resultsIt’s been a while since the Search Clinic last looked at the web browser share statistics- 2010 to be precise, when the Internet Explorer browser fell below 50 per cent market share.

Then the usage breakdown was Internet Explorer had a 49.87 per cent share of the global browser market, with Mozilla’s Firefox on 31.5 per cent market share, while Google’s Chrome browser accounted for only 11.54 per cent of the market.

The figures were researched by StatCounter.

The latest figures below have again been compiled by StatCounter and are based on analysis from 3 million websites.

The statistics for web browser market share in August 2012 show that now Chrome is top of the tree with a total web browser market share of 33.58%.

Internet Explorer now has a total share of 32.81%.

With the Firefox web browser now having a share of 22.86%.

Two other thoughts are that in 2010 the three browsers had a total share of 92.91- last month that dominance had only dropped to 89.25% and that despite Apple’s recent growth thier Safari browser is still a great distance away from disturbing that dominance.

Microsoft launches Windows 8 beta with “Do not track”

June 01, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Browser, Ecommerce, internet, Microsoft, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has launched the most complete beta version of its new Windows 8 Operating System.Microsoft launches Windows 8 beta with "Do not track"The company said that tens of thousands of improvements have been made to what it calls the most important redesign of its interface since Windows 95.

Consumers can now download the release preview of Windows 8, a system which Microsoft says is its most tested operating system ever.

It is expected to go on sale in the autumn, three years after Windows 7.

The new operating system is designed to bring Windows into the touchscreen, smartphone era.

It adopts the Metro interface of the company’s mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7.

Windows, which still dominates the desktop PC software market, has been much slow to make an impact on the mobile phones and tablet computers markets.

Microsoft said manufacturers and developers were at work on new devices and apps designed to make the most of Windows 8’s features.

The latest version of Microsoft’s browser Internet Explorer 10, optimised for touchscreen, is also included for the first time. Users are promised greater personalisation of the start screen, and more control over privacy.

IE 10 will be the first version of the browser with “do not track” turned on by default, meaning users can easily decide not to accept cookies.

Microsoft’s Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch announced the move on his blog.

“In a world where consumers live a large part of their lives online, it is critical that we build trust that their personal information will be treated with respect, and that they will be given a choice to have their information used for unexpected purposes,” he wrote.

But the advertising industry has raised concerns.

Microsoft’s decision risked “limiting the availability and diversity of internet content and services for consumers,” said the Digital Advertising Alliance.

Dr Search approves of this new initiative as few people change their default security settings, so this attempt to limit the snooping of peoples’ browsers is good news.

Microsoft to go carbon neutral in July

May 16, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Computers, data security, Microsoft, search engines, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has promised to help protect the environment by going carbon neutral and reducing its carbon footprint.Microsoft to go carbon neutral in JulyFrom July 1st 2012 its data centres, software development labs and office buildings would all be carbon neutral, the firm announced.

Environmental groups have been calling on the technology company to adopt more renewable energy sources.

Rivals Facebook and Google have already pledged to move away from coal-powered data centres.

“We recognise that we are not the first company to commit to carbon neutrality, but we are hopeful that our decision will encourage other companies large and small to look at what they can do to address this important issue,” said chief operating officer Kevin Turner in a blog post.

As part of its carbon neutral plan, Microsoft plans to charge an internal carbon fee to business units responsible for incurring emissions from data centres, air travel, offices and software laboratories.

“The carbon price and charge-back model is designed to provide an economic incentive for business groups across Microsoft to reduce carbon emissions through efficiency measures and increased use of renewable energy,” said Mr Turner.

It also plans energy efficient software solutions at its Redmond campus. It said that it hoped to achieve energy savings of approximately £937,000 ($1.5 million) in the fiscal year 2013.

Environmental group Greenpeace said that it showed Microsoft had listened to calls for a “clean cloud”.

Greenpeace urged Microsoft to follow Facebook’s lead and chose renewable energy when building new data centres.

Yahoo to axe non core services to improve profits

May 15, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: AdWords, bing, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Microsoft, Pay Per Click, Pay Per Click Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Results, search engines, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Yahoo has confirmed plans to shut down dozens of services which are not seen as core to the firm.Yahoo to axe non core services to improve profitsAs a result they said that it would be “shutting down or transitioning roughly 50 properties that don’t contribute meaningfully to engagement of revenue”.

The CEO Mr Thompson did not identify which units would be abandoned, but noted that news, finance, sports, entertainment and mail were safe.

“Each of our products and services may individually generate more engagement than most start-ups or even mid-sized companies in certain markets, but that does not mean that we should continue to do everything we currently do,” he was quoted as saying in a transcript of the conference call by Seeking Alpha.

The chief executive also noted that its search alliance with Microsoft was “not yet delivering” what had been expected.

The two firms agreed to team up in 2009. The idea was that Microsoft would provide Yahoo with the search results produced by its Bing service, which Yahoo would tailor to its audience. In addition Yahoo’s salesforce would target “premium” advertisers on behalf of both firms.

Mr Thompson said the UK and France were currently being moved to Microsoft’s search algorithm, and that other parts of the EU and Asia would follow.

However, he added that Yahoo was “working hard with Microsoft” to address the fact that the software firm’s AdCenter technology was still not delivering the sort of revenue it had hoped for.

For the time being Yahoo is protected against the shortfall by a “revenue per search” guarantee signed by Microsoft that is due to expire next March.

Mr Thompson was also quizzed for more detail about his promise to make better use of the company’s “vast data”.

He explained that the firm would use cookies to personalise its news content.

He added that the data would also be used to help advertisers understand how visitors used the site and to request “almost real-time” analytics data.

This is the latest in a series of turnaround plans promised for the web portal.

The key will be in getting the search and banner advert revenues higher.