Tag Archives: Microsoft

Facebook Bans Suspicious Accounts

Following the banning of 32 accounts in late July with suspected connections to Russia, Facebook removed an additional 652 accounts, groups and pages that it identified as exhibiting “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” That behavior included the sharing of political material.

The banned accounts were linked not only to Russia, but what was a surprise, also to Iran.
The 32 accounts banned in July were generally engaged in efforts to influence the up and coming November mid-term elections. The 632 additional fake accounts were focused more on influencing US foreign policy, and regional politics in the Middle East.

Facebook is not the only internet site where foreign entities go to influence the US voting public. Twitter suspended 284 accounts for “coordinated manipulation,” with many of those accounts sourced to Iran. Microsoft announced they saw a new Russian practice to copy conservative US websites, perhaps as a component of a spy campaign.

“There’s a lot we don’t know yet,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

“You’re going to see people try to abuse the services in every way possible … including now nation states,” he said. He described the deception campaigns as “sophisticated and well-funded efforts that aren’t going to stop.”

Microsoft Seeking Exemptions for Employees with Valid Visas From the Seven Banned Countries

Microsoft asking Trump to grant exemptions to their foreign employees.

President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, Brad Smith, wrote an open letter to President Donald Trump asking for a formal exemption process for employees effected by Trump’s executive order travel ban. Microsoft would like to see exemptions upheld for all “responsible known travelers with pressing needs.” The idea would be proposed and sponsored by a US company or university. The proposal would allow anyone from the seven countries in question who have valid visas to travel safely outside the US without fear of having their return re-entry denied, on the understanding that they will travel for amounts of time less than two weeks, either for business or family reasons.

Smith stated that Microsoft does not consider this request a “fix” for the executive order, which it considers “misguided and a fundamental step backwards.” Rather, it is just an immediate solution to help foreign employees, who have been left stranded outside the US where they live and work; and those who are afraid to leave because they are worried they won’t be allowed to return.

Microsoft explained that they have 76 employees with 41 dependents, who are affected directly by the ban. Some of them have been unable to return to their children or visit sick relatives abroad.

Since the executive order has come under a maelstrom of criticism the Trump administration has eased up slightly on the terms of the order, allowing legal permanent residents an exemption from the ban. However, people on temporary visas are not exempt. Microsoft says its proposal does not change the terms of the order, it only asks that each case be judged on its own merits, granting exemptions under certain conditions.

“Immigration authorities already have a wide range of personal information about individuals in the visa categories that we have proposed,” writes Smith. “Many of these individuals also fill critical roles in the organizations that employ them, whether they are doctors, scientists, engineers, medical technicians, software developers, or any number of other highly skilled professionals. They are deeply valued contributors to the innovation, research and business acumen of our nation, and they serve critical roles in the successful operations of US companies.”

Ballmer Leaving Microsoft within the Year

MS CEO Steve Ballmer Stepping Down
MS CEO Steve Ballmer Stepping Down

An indication of the displeasure stockholders have had with Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer is the fact that upon the announcement that he will soon be leaving Microsoft’s stock price rose more than 8 percent. When investors calmed down a bit from the happy news the stock did return to a more reasonable level.

Celebrating Ballmer’s departure are critics who point out that he placed the future of Microsoft in the hands of the wrong products, fell behind in the race to the switch to mobile computing, was not really up to the task of choosing good design options, and, to top all these mistakes, is also a poor public speaker.

Microsoft has not yet picked Ballmer’s successor. Recent reorganization at Microsoft did not make it a priority to establish a natural process for succession. Therefore for the next 12 months Ballmer will stay put while John Thompson, the company’s leading independent director, heads up the search committee.

Bill Gates is also on the search committee, so be prepared for his name to be floated as a possible replacement for Ballmer, but this option seems unlikely. More probable is one of the following candidates:

Tony Bates: Executive at Skype, this past summer he also managed business development for Microsoft. He was at Cisco Systems for a while.

Julie Larson-Green: She was once considered Ballmer’s natural successor. Microsoft’s reorganization placed Green at the top of MS’s devices division.

Qi Lu: Veteran of Yahoo search, Lu also worked on Bing for MS and came out as another winner in the MS makeover this summer. He is now the head of apps and services.

Five other possibilities include Tami Reller, Steven Sinofsky, Stephen Elop, Paul Maritz and Kevin Johnson.

In case you have been feeling bad about Ballmer losing his job, his 333 million shares in Microsoft should help him ease his transition.

Microsoft Says Goodbye to Hotmail as they Launch New Version of Outlook

Microsoft has been having users try out their all new “Outlook.com” web-based email in preview mode for the past six months, and now they say it is time to transition away from Hotmail and begin to use the full version of Outlook.

Reports from users say that the totally revamped version of Outlook performed great, and users love to use it. With such rave reviews Microsoft says it’s ready to finish the testing phase and go to the permanent phase of the transition from Hotmail.

According to the director of product management at Microsoft, Dharmesh Mehta, the hundreds of millions of Hotmail users will be using Outlook by this coming summer. When the transition is completed Outlook will be among the largest of free email services in use.

“It’s a pretty massive bet we’ve made that Outlook.com is a great choice,” Mehta said.

Mehta reassured users that their settings, contacts, messages and more would remain the same after they’ve switched to Outlook. Furthermore, people will still be able to contact users using their old Hotmail address.

In addition Microsoft announced that the latest version of Outlook.com has already reached about 60 million active users during the six month trial period. The giant software company says that this data is evidence that Outlook is the fastest growing email service in history.

Consumers can expect to see ads for Microsoft’s Outlook.com, as they are planning on launching a huge ad campaign in print, TV and online media outlets.

Microsoft Expanding its Chinese Operations

Ralph Haupter
Greater China CEO of Microsoft Ralph Haupter

The giant global computer software company Microsoft announced that it will be hiring 1,000 people in China in order to enlarge its research, sales, and development teams in what is the world’s biggest market for personal computers.

Ralph Haupter, Microsoft’s Greater China CEO, explained that the additional workers will be hired over the coming year, increasing the total Microsoft worker-base to 5,500. Marketing and services teams will also grow, Haupter added.

Microsoft is also planning to strengthen its spending on research and development in China by about 15 percent during the coming year.

One of Microsoft’s goals is to sell more of its Windows 8 smartphone in china, where demand for it has been expanding, despite the stiff completion from rivals Google and Apple.