×
Microsoft

Microsoft Program Manager Mistakenly Tweets Office 365 Will Be Rewritten in JavaScript (thurrott.com) 94

"A Microsoft employee claimed publicly that 'all of Office 365' was being 'completely rewritten' in JavaScript," writes Paul Thurrott, adding "And then all hell broke loose." First things first. It's not true. So if you were freaking out that Microsoft was somehow abandoning C# and C++ for its most mission-critical offerings, freak out no more. It's not happening. So what is happening? A Microsoft program manager named Sean Larkin perhaps got a little overly-exuberant on Monday... he tried to clarify things in follow-up tweets when his original missive exploded intro controversy. Which shouldn't have been a surprise. And yet, somehow, it was...

[H]e finally corrected himself on Reddit, blaming Twitter's character limitations for his many factual errors. "We are not abandoning C++, C#, or any of the other awesome languages, APIs, and toolings that we use across Microsoft," he clarifies. "Nothing [in Office 365] is converting to 'all/completely' JavaScript/TypeScript."

Thurrott, a long-time Windows blogger, concludes that "getting something this big this wrong is inexcusable."
Security

Inside the Private Event Where Microsoft, Google, Salesforce and Other Rivals Share Security Secrets (geekwire.com) 48

News outlet GeekWire takes us inside Building 99 at Microsoft, where security professionals of the software giant, along with those of Amazon, Google, Netflix, Salesforce, Facebook (and others), companies that fiercely compete with one another, gathered earlier this week to share their learnings for the greater good. From the story: As the afternoon session ended, the organizer from Microsoft, security data wrangler Ram Shankar Siva Kumar, complimented panelist Erik Bloch, the Salesforce security products and program management director, for "really channeling the Ohana spirit," referencing the Hawaiian word for "family," which Salesforce uses to describe its internal culture of looking out for one another. It was almost enough to make a person forget the bitter rivalry between Microsoft and Salesforce. Siva Kumar then gave attendees advice on finding the location of the closing reception. "You can Bing it, Google it, whatever it is," he said, as the audience laughed at the rare concession to Microsoft's longtime competitor.

It was no ordinary gathering at Microsoft, but then again, it's no ordinary time in tech. The Security Data Science Colloquium brought the competitors together to focus on one of the biggest challenges and opportunities in the industry. Machine learning, one of the key ingredients of artificial intelligence, is giving the companies new superpowers to identify and guard against malicious attacks on their increasingly cloud-oriented products and services. The problem is that hackers are using many of the same techniques to take those attacks to a new level. "The challenge is that security is a very asymmetric game," said Dawn Song, a UC Berkeley computer science and engineering professor who attended the event. "Defenders have to defend across the board, and attackers only need to find one hole. So in general, it's easier for attackers to leverage these new techniques." That helps to explain why the competitors are teaming up.
In a statement, Erik Bloch, Director Security PM at Salesforce, said, "This is what the infosec and security industry needs more of. Our customers are shared, and so is our responsibility to protect them.
Businesses

Verizon's New Phone Plan Proves It Has No Idea What 'Unlimited' Actually Means (gizmodo.com) 154

Verizon has unveiled its third "unlimited" smartphone plan that goes to show just how meaningless the term has become in the U.S. wireless industry. "In addition to its Go Unlimited and Beyond Unlimited plans, Verizon is now adding a premium Above Unlimited plan to the mix, which offers 75GB of 'unlimited' data per month (as opposed to the 22GB of 'unlimited' data you get on less expensive plans), along with 20GB of 'unlimited' data when using your phone as a hotspot, 500GB of Verizon cloud storage, and five monthly international Travel Passes, which are daily vouchers that let you use your phone's wireless service abroad the same as if you were in the U.S.," reports Gizmodo. Are you confused yet? From the report: And as if that wasn't bad enough, Verizon has also updated its convoluted sliding pricing scheme that adjusts based on how many phones are on a single bill. For families with four lines of service, the Above Unlimited cost $60 per person, but if you're a single user the same service costs $95, which really seems like bullshit because if everything is supposed to be unlimited, it shouldn't really make a difference how many people are on the same bill. As a small concession to flexibility, Verizon says families with multiple lines can now mix and match plans instead of having to choose a single plan for every line, which should allow families to choose the right service for an individual person's needs and help keep costs down. The new Above Unlimited plan and the company's mix-and-match feature arrives next week on June 18th.
Businesses

Most Organizations Are Not Fully Embracing DevOps (betanews.com) 294

An anonymous reader shares a report: Although many businesses have begun moving to DevOps-style processes, eight out of 10 respondents to a new survey say they still have separate teams for managing infrastructure/operations and development. The study by managed cloud specialist 2nd Watch of more than 1,000 IT professionals indicates that a majority of companies have yet to fully commit to the DevOps process. 78 percent of respondents say that separate teams are still managing infrastructure/operations and application development. Some organizations surveyed are using infrastructure-as-code tools, automation or even CI/CD pipelines, but those techniques alone do not define DevOps.
E3

Microsoft is Working on its Own Game Streaming, Netflix-Like Service (theverge.com) 73

Phil Spencer, Microsoft's gaming chief, revealed the company is building a streaming game service for any device. Our cloud engineers are building a game streaming network to unlock console gaming on any device, he said, adding this service will offer "console quality gaming on any device." From a report: "Gaming is now at its most vibrant," he said. "In this significant moment we are constantly challenging ourselves about where we can take gaming next." He said that Microsoft is recommitting and harnessing the full breath of the company to deliver on the future of play. That includes experts in Microsoft research working on developing the future of gaming AI and the company's cloud engineers building a game streaming network. He added that the company is also in the midst of developing the architecture for the next Xbox consoles. Further reading: Microsoft Acquires Four Gaming Studios, Including Ninja Theory, As It Looks To Bolster First-Party Catalog.
Cloud

EA, Touting 'Profound Impact' of Streaming and Subscription, Announces Origin Access Premier (gamesindustry.biz) 73

EA CEO Andrew Wilson announced that the game publisher is making a big move into cloud gaming. The company is also planning to launch a new version of its Origin Access subscription service on PC called Origin Access Premiere that will introduce games like Madden, FIFA, and more the same day they launch at retail. From a report: During the publisher's E3 2018 press conference, CEO Andrew Wilson descried the combination of streaming and subscription as "the greatest disruption" to the world of entertainment of the past five years. He pointed to how this business model for movies, TV and books has changed those markets, and believes this combination will have "a profound impact" on the games industry in the years to come. Wilson's comments echoed those of his CFO Blake Jorgensen, who said back in November that a combination of live services, such as FIFA Ultimate Team, and subscriptions will lead to "uncapped" monetisation of its players over the longest possible period of time.

In its latest financials, EA revealed that 40% of its revenue last year came from live services, while full game downloads and physical game sales are dropping. Wilson reminded conference attendees of the publisher's recent acquisition of GameFly's Israel-based cloud gaming team, predicting a future where players can enjoy high-end games on any device anywhere with an internet connection. While there are tech demos for EA's streaming service out there, Wilson stressed that it's "not quite ready for full market primetime," but pitched it as a "promise of what we hope to bring you in the future." In the meantime, Electronic Arts took the opportunity to announce a new subscription system that shows the publisher continuing to push towards a service-based economy for video games. Origin Access Premier is a new addition to the firm's PC-based games service: a premium subscription that gives players access to even more titles.

Government

Can Washington State Finally Put a Price On Carbon? (wired.com) 146

jwhyche writes: Beth Brunton walks around Seattle with a magenta umbrella. At 75 degrees and there not being a cloud in the sky, it gets peoples attention. What she is attempting to do is get people to sign a petition supporting Initiative 1631, known as the "Protect Washington Act." If this was to pass, Washington state would become the first state to adopt anything like a carbon tax. "The initiative proposes a 'fee on pollution' that would put a $15 charge on each metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted in Washington starting in 2020," reports Wired. "That charge would rise by $2 plus inflation every year until the state meets its climate goals, which include cutting its carbon footprint 36 percent below 2005 levels by 2035. The revenue raised would go toward investing in clean energy; protecting the air, water, and forests; and helping vulnerable communities prepare for wildfires and sea-level rise."

The report mentions Washington's previous attempt at a "carbon tax" initiative, which was ultimately rejected. It would have initially charged businesses $25 per metric ton of emissions before ramping up over time.
Security

WiFi Phishing Attacks Discovered Around Atlanta City Hall (helpnetsecurity.com) 16

As Atlanta continues to fully recover from March's ransomware attack, new evidence discovered today by Coronet reveals hundreds of active Wi-Fi phishing attacks currently ongoing both inside of and in close proximity to Atlanta City Hall. From a report: The research also found attacks currently underway in Georgia's State Capitol Building, which is just a few blocks away. In total, Coronet identified 678 active threats within a 5-mile radius of Atlanta's City Hall. Specifically, Coronet has validated that an undetermined number of attackers are currently deploying advanced phishing techniques, including but not limited to Evil Twins, Captive Portals and ARP poisoning, in what is likely their attempt to gain unauthorized access to user credentials to cloud services that the government relies on for daily business operations and continuity.
Cloud

Ubisoft CEO: Cloud Gaming Will Replace Consoles After the Next Generation (arstechnica.com) 144

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Better start saving up for that PlayStation 5, Xbox Two, or Nintendo Swatch (that last follow-up name idea is a freebie, by the way). That generation of consoles might be the last one ever, according to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. After that, he predicts cheap local boxes could provide easier access to ever-evolving high-end gaming streamed to the masses from cloud-based servers. "I think we will see another generation, but there is a good chance that step-by-step we will see less and less hardware," Guillemot said in a recent interview with Variety. "With time, I think streaming will become more accessible to many players and make it not necessary to have big hardware at home. There will be one more console generation and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us."
Intel

'We've an Unexpected Manufacturing Advantage For the First Time Ever': Intel's Manufacturing Glitch Opens Door For AMD (theinformation.com) 136

Over at The Information (paywalled), reporter Aaron Tilley has a splendid interview of Forrest Norrod, a senior executive who joined AMD four years ago. Mr. Norrod describes the challenge AMD has faced over the years and how, for the first time ever, it sees a real shot at making a significant dent in the desktop market. From the report: Advanced Micro Devices' battle with chip giant Intel has often seemed like a gnat fighting an elephant, with AMD struggling in recent years to gain even a tenth of the market for the chips that power PCs and data center servers. Forrest Norrod, a senior executive who joined AMD four years ago, says the company suffered from "little brother syndrome" where it tried and failed to compete with Intel on lots of different chips. Now, though, AMD may have a shot at coming out with a faster, more powerful chip than Intel for the first time. Intel in April said it was delaying the release of a more advanced chip manufacturing process until sometime in 2019. AMD has its own new, advanced chip, which it will now be able to release earlier than Intel, potentially giving it an edge in the market for high-performance chips for PCs and data center computers.

It's a market opportunity worth around $50 billion. That's what Intel makes from selling chips for PCs and data center servers, and it dominates both markets. The data center market is particularly important because of the growth of new technologies like artificial intelligence-related applications, much of which is handled in the cloud. Companies that buy chips for data centers or PCs could gravitate to AMD chips as a result of Intel's delay. "I think we have a year lead now," said Mr. Norrod, who oversees AMD's data center business. AMD now has "an unexpected [manufacturing] advantage for the first time ever," he added.

AI

Nvidia Launches AI Computer To Give Autonomous Robots Better Brains (theverge.com) 85

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: At Computex 2018, Nvidia unveiled two new products: Nvidia Isaac, a new developer platform, and the Jetson Xavier, an AI computer, both built to power autonomous robots. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said Isaac and Jetson Xavier were designed to capture the next stage of AI innovation as it moves from software running in the cloud to robots that navigate the real world. The Isaac platform is a set of software tools that will make it simpler for companies to develop and train robots. It includes a collection of APIs to connect to 3D cameras and sensors; a library of AI accelerators to keep algorithms running smoothly and without lag; and a new simulation environment, Isaac Sim, for training and testing bots in a virtual space. Doing so is quicker and safer than IRL testing, but it can't match the complexity of the real world.

But the heart of the Isaac platform is Nvidia's new Jetson Xavier computer, an incredibly compact piece of hardware that's comprised of a number of processing components. These include a Volta Tensor Core GPU, an eight-core ARM64 CPU, two NVDLA deep learning accelerators, and processors for static images and video. In total, Jetson Xavier contains more than 9 billion transistors and delivers over 30 TOPS (trillion operations per second) of compute. And it consumes just 30 watts of power, which is half of the electricity used by the average light bulb. The cost of one Jetson Xavier (along with access to the Isaac platform) is $1,299, and Huang claims the computer provides the same processing power as a $10,000 workstation
"AI, in combination with sensors and actuators, will be the brain of a new generation of autonomous machines," said Huang. "Someday, there will be billions of intelligent machines in manufacturing, home delivery, warehouse logistics and much more."
Microsoft

Microsoft Acquires GitHub For $7.5B (microsoft.com) 492

As rumored, Microsoft said Monday that it has acquired code repository website GitHub for a whopping sum of $7.5B in Microsoft stock. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Nat Friedman, founder of Xamarin and an open source veteran, will assume the role of GitHub CEO. GitHub's current CEO, Chris Wanstrath, will become a Microsoft technical fellow, reporting to Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie, to work on strategic software initiatives. From the blog post: "Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation," said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. "We recognize the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world's most pressing challenges." Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. Subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close by the end of the calendar year. GitHub will retain its developer-first ethos and will operate independently to provide an open platform for all developers in all industries. Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects -- and will still be able to deploy their code to any operating system, any cloud and any device. The two companies, together, will "empower developers to achieve more at every stage of the development lifecycle, accelerate enterprise use of GitHub, and bring Microsoft's developer tools and services to new audiences," Microsoft said. A portion of the developer community has opposed the move, with some already leaving the platform for alternative services.

Update: In a conference call with reporters, Mr. Nadella said today the company is "all in with open source," and requested people to judge the company's commitment to the open source community with its actions in the recent past, today, and in the coming future. GitHub will remain open and independent, Mr. Nadella said.
Google

Google Plans Not To Renew its Contract for Project Maven, a Controversial Drone AI Imaging Program (gizmodo.com) 59

Kate Konger, reporting for Gizmodo: Google will not seek another contract for its controversial work providing artificial intelligence to the U.S. Department of Defense for analyzing drone footage after its current contract expires. Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene announced the decision at a meeting with employees Friday morning, three sources told Gizmodo. The current contract expires in 2019 and there will not be a follow-up contract, Greene said. The meeting, dubbed Weather Report, is a weekly update on Google Cloud's business. Google would not choose to pursue Maven today because the backlash has been terrible for the company, Greene said, adding that the decision was made at a time when Google was more aggressively pursuing military work. The company plans to unveil new ethical principles about its use of AI next week.
The Military

Leaked Emails Show Google Expected Military Drone AI Work To Grow Exponentially (theintercept.com) 84

In March, Google secretly signed an agreement with the Pentagon to provide cutting edge AI technology for drone warfare, causing about a dozen Google employees to resign in protest and thousands to sign a petition calling for an end to the contract. Google has since tried to quash the dissent, claiming that the contract was "only" for $9 million, according to the New York Times. Internal company emails obtained by The Intercept tell a different story: The September emails show that Google's business development arm expected the military drone artificial intelligence revenue to ramp up from an initial $15 million to an eventual $250 million per year. In fact, one month after news of the contract broke, the Pentagon allocated an additional $100 million to Project Maven [the endeavor designed to help drone operators recognize images captured on the battlefield]. The internal Google email chain also notes that several big tech players competed to win the Project Maven contract. Other tech firms such as Amazon were in the running, one Google executive involved in negotiations wrote. (Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.) Rather than serving solely as a minor experiment for the military, Google executives on the thread stated that Project Maven was "directly related" to a major cloud computing contract worth billions of dollars that other Silicon Valley firms are competing to win. The emails further note that Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing arm of Amazon, "has some work loads" related to Project Maven.
Google

Google Promises Ethical Principles To Guide Development of Military AI (theverge.com) 154

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Google is drawing up a set of guidelines that will steer its involvement in developing AI tools for the military, according to a report from The New York Times. What exactly these guidelines will stipulate isn't clear, but Google says they will include a ban on the use of artificial intelligence in weaponry. The principles are expected to be announced in full in the coming weeks. They are a response to the controversy over the company's decision to develop AI tools for the Pentagon that analyze drone surveillance footage.

Internal emails obtained by the Times show that Google was aware of the upset this news might cause. Chief scientist at Google Cloud, Fei-Fei Li, told colleagues that they should "avoid at ALL COSTS any mention or implication of AI" when announcing the Pentagon contract. "Weaponized AI is probably one of the most sensitized topics of AI -- if not THE most. This is red meat to the media to find all ways to damage Google," said Li. But Google never ended up making the announcement, and it has since been on the back foot defending its decision. The company says the technology it's helping to build for the Pentagon simply "flags images for human review" and is for "non-offensive uses only." The contract is also small by industry standards -- worth just $9 million to Google, according to the Times.

Microsoft

Microsoft Is Now More Valuable Than Alphabet (cnbc.com) 126

Microsoft has surged 40 percent over the past 12 months to become more valuable than Alphabet. "As of Tuesday's close, Microsoft was worth $749 billion and Alphabet's market capitalization stood at $739 billion," reports CNBC. From the report: Microsoft's latest rally has been sparked by growth in its cloud computing business, which is bigger than Google's though it still trails Amazon Web Services. In March, Microsoft reorganized its Windows and Devices Group and moved its engineering resources into other units, including one focusing on cloud and artificial intelligence. Both Microsoft and Alphabet beat analysts' expectations in the first quarter. Microsoft still trails behind Apple's market valuation of $923 billion and Amazon's $782 billion market cap.
Cloud

Nvidia Debuts Cloud Server Platform To Unify AI and High-Performance Computing (siliconangle.com) 15

Hoping to maintain the high ground in AI and high-performance computing, Nvidia late Tuesday debuted a new computing architecture that it claims will unify both fast-growing areas of the industry. From a report: The announcement of the HGX-2 cloud-server platform, made by Nvidia Chief Executive Jensen Huang at its GPU Technology Conference in Taipei, Taiwan, is aimed at many new applications that combine AI and HPC. "We believe the future requires a unified platform for AI and high-performance computing," Paresh Kharya, product marketing manager for Nvidiaâ(TM)s accelerated-computing group, said during a press call Tuesday.

Others agree. "I think that AI will revolutionize HPC," Karl Freund, a senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told SiliconANGLE. "I suspect many supercomputing centers will deploy HGX2 as it can add dramatic computational capacity for both HPC and AI." More specifically, the new architecture enables applications involving scientific computing and simulations, such as weather forecasting, as well as both training and running of AI models such as deep learning neural networks, for jobs such as image and speech recognition and navigation for self-driving cars.

Businesses

Star Citizen Video Game Launches $27,000 Players' Pack (bbc.com) 193

An anonymous reader shares a report: Crowdfunded space simulation game Star Citizen has launched its $27,000 Legatus Pack, which includes nearly all its spacecraft plus extras. Only players who have already spent $1,000 in the game can access the pack. Cloud Imperium, the creators of Star Citizen, has received more than $200m in crowdfunding since launching a Kickstarter campaign for it in 2012. According to its website it has more than two million players, although the game itself is still in development. Star Citizen aims to create a vast science fiction universe that can be explored in dozens of spaceships, with first-person space combat, all online and multi-player.
Businesses

Oracle's Aggressive Sales Tactics Are Backfiring With Customers (lightreading.com) 232

An anonymous reader shares a report: Oracle's aggressive sales tactics are turning off customers, setting a roadblock in the company's race to catch up with Amazon Web Services in the cloud, according to a report on The Information. [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. Oracle is threatening customers of its on-premises software with potentially expensive usage audits and strongly suggesting those customers could solve their problems by moving to the cloud, The Information says. But the tactic is backfiring. "Several big Oracle customers, including oil and gas exploration company Halliburton, toy maker Mattel and electricity provider Edison Southern California, have recently rejected big cloud services deals proposed by Oracle, according to an Oracle employee with knowledge of the situation," the publication reported. "Oracle representatives had suggested the customers strike the deals to avoid expensive audits of how they were using Oracle software, according to the employee. Instead, that approach to selling cloud is irritating customers," it added.
Cloud

Microsoft Wins A Big Cloud Deal With America's Intelligence Community (spokesman.com) 45

wyattstorch516 shared this story from the AP: Microsoft Corp. said it's secured a lucrative cloud deal with the intelligence community that marks a rapid expansion by the software giant into a market led by Amazon.com Inc. The deal, which the company said Wednesday is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, allows 17 intelligence agencies and offices to use Microsoft's Azure Government, a cloud service tailored for federal and local governments, in addition to other products Microsoft already offers, such as its Windows 10 operating system and word processing programs.

The cloud agreement gives Microsoft more power to make its case to the Pentagon as it goes up against competitors like International Business Machines Corp., Oracle Corp. and Amazon for the agency's winner-take-all cloud computing contract for up to 10 years.

That contract is expected to be worth billions of dollars, according to the article, adding that "the Defense Department has said it intends to move the department's technology needs -- 3.4 million users and 4 million devices -- to the cloud to give it a tactical edge on the battlefield and strengthen its use of emerging technologies."

One Microsoft executive said this week's deal reinforces "the fact that we are a solid cloud platform that the federal government can put their trust in."

Slashdot Top Deals