Microsoft Launches Azure Security Lab and Doubles Bug Bounty

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Announced at Black Hat 2019 today, Microsoft launched the Azure Security Lab, as well as doubling its top Azure bug bounty to US$40,000.

The Azure Security Lab takes the idea to the next level. It’s essentially a set of dedicated cloud hosts isolated from Azure customers so security researchers can test attacks against cloud scenarios. The isolation means researchers can not only research vulnerabilities in Azure, they can attempt to exploit them.

The Azure Security Lab isn’t open to the public — you have to apply. Microsoft is promising quarterly campaigns for targeted scenarios with added incentives, including exclusive swag. Security researchers will also be able to engage directly with Azure security experts.

Hilarious Deconstruction of Microsoft's 'Mac Book' Surface Commercial

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The Next Web has a hilarious deconstruction of Microsoft’s Meet Mackenzie “Mac” Book commercial. If you haven’t already seen this ridiculous commercial, watch it. You’ll probably be mad at me for telling you to do that, but your reward will be Callum Booth’s excellent snarkfest at TNW. Here’s a snippet, where he questions the premise of the commercial star’s name, Mac Book.

What are your credentials here, bud?

Just because my last name is ‘Booth’ doesn’t mean I have any understanding how phone booths or toll booths actually operate. You wouldn’t come to me if you were planning on upgrading a selection of traffic kiosks on the strength of my surname. I can categorically say that’d be the worst mistake you’d ever make. My entire selection rationale would revolve around which booth I think looks the most bitching, which, unfortunately, is no way to actually run a business.

I’m sorry, Mac Book, but I do not value your opinion on this matter.

Apple, Microsoft, and a Partnership Between Them

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Jason Perlow argues that Apple and Microsoft go together like “a burger and fries” and should enter into a partnership.

Microsoft’s Azure and 365 are the keys to Apple’s future products and services being able to fulfill their highest potential. In particular, Microsoft’s investments around AI and Machine Learning in the cloud would make the difference between Siri remaining the industry’s biggest not-so-intelligent agent joke — and becoming the very smartest in the industry. But only if the companies committed to building a single intelligent agent together.

I don’t necessarily agree, but then again Apple’s partnership with IBM surprised me.

A Bill Gates Regret: How It Cost Microsoft $400B

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Bill Gates Microsoft

At Roughly Drafted, Daniel Eran Dilger, diagnoses a recent assertion by Bill Gates regarding Microsoft, iOS and Android.

As Apple prepares the release of iOS 13 and splits off the new iPadOS 13 for specialized mobile tablets, Microsoft’s former chief executive Bill Gates mused this week that it would have been the “natural thing” for Microsoft to have been the “standard non-Apple phone platform.” But he’s wrong, here’s why.

GitHub Sponsors Lets You Pay Your Favorite Open Source Contributors

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GitHub Sponsors is a way to support the developers who build open source software. It’s currently in beta.

As a thank you for these valuable contributions, GitHub Sponsors charges zero platform fees when you support the work of other developers. We’ll also cover payment processing fees for the first 12 months of the program to celebrate the launch. 100% percent of your sponsorship goes to the developer.

I love this idea. GitHub is one of the only open source “app stores” we have that isn’t tied to Android or Linux.

 

AR Game Minecraft Earth Launches This Summer

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This summer Microsoft will be launching an augmented reality game called Minecraft Earth. And it wants to be bigger than Pokémon Go.

Microsoft says it will kick off a closed beta of Minecraft Earth this summer on iOS and Android. Naturally, there are going to be limited slots, and you’ll also have to be 18 or older to sign up. And while the plan is to get Minecraft Earth completely global, it’s going to start off with a gradual rollout in select locations. You can also expect it to support all the languages in the original game, at least.

I never got into Minecraft, but I look forward to trying this game out.

Microsoft Employee Says Whites, Asians Discriminated Against

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Messages posted by an unknown female Microsoft programmer in internal Yammer boards say that white and Asian men are being discriminated against.

To be clear, I am referring to the fact that senior leadership is awarded more money if they discriminate against Asians and white men. I have an ever-increasing file of white male Microsoft employees who have faced outright and overt discrimination because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male.

Microsoft’s 2018 demographic report shows that 55.1% of employees are Caucasian, 31.9% are Asian, and 73.4% are male. Personally, I think it’s a bit telling if you feel oppressed by more equality and diversity.

eBooks and the Nature of Ownership

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Microsoft closed its eBook store several weeks ago. People lost their books, but at least the company refunded them. Because of this, Michael Kozlowski of Good e-Reader says people are experiencing a “crisis of confidence” in eBooks.

I believe that ebooks are suffering from a crisis of confidence.  It is beginning to be quite difficult to trust a retailer to not disappear overnight with your ebooks, no matter how big they are…A recent study published in the journal Electronic Markets found that the vast majority of  people felt a constricted sense of ownership of ebooks versus physical books, based on the fact that they don’t have full control over the products.

He also mentions how a lot companies use DRM on eBooks, which factors into the “You license, not own, your eBooks” argument. I’d like to point out that Apple Books doesn’t apply DRM to most if not all of its books. I can take books I buy on there and move it to another service if I want, which makes me feel as if I truly own them.

Iranian Hackers Target Hundreds of Firms Including Microsoft

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Iranian hackers attacked hundreds of global firms over the last two years. Those targeted included Microsoft. The Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft traced the attack against it to a group called Holmium. It had been tracking the group for 4 years. At the time of this writing, it had not been reported that Apple was a target.

The campaign, the scope of which hadn’t previously been reported, stole corporate secrets and wiped data from computers. It caused damages estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity and affected oil-and-gas companies, heavy-machinery manufacturers and international conglomerates in more than a half-dozen countries including Saudi Arabia, Germany, the U.K., India and the U.S., according to researchers at Microsoft, which deployed incident-response teams to some of the affected companies.