Microsoft Archive

Palestinians say Microsoft unfairly closing their accounts

Palestinians living abroad have accused Microsoft of closing their email accounts without warning – cutting them off from crucial online services. They say it has left them unable to access bank accounts and job offers – and stopped them using Skype, which Microsoft owns, to contact relatives in war-torn Gaza. Microsoft says they violated its terms of service – a claim they dispute. ↫ Mohamed Shalaby and Joe Tidy at the BBC Checking up on your family members to see if they survived another day of an ongoing genocide doesn’t seem like something that should be violating any terms of any services, but that’s just me.

Microsoft: all content on the web is fair use

When someone tells you who they are, believe them. Microsoft’s AI chief Mustafa Suleyman: With respect to content that is already on the open web, the social contract of that content since the ’90s has been that it is fair use. Anyone can copy it, recreate with it, reproduce with it. That has been freeware, if you like. That’s been the understanding. ↫ Mustafa Suleyman This is absolute bullshit from the first word to the very last. None of this is true – not even in the slightest. Content on the web is not free for the taking by anyone, especially not to be chewed up and regurgitated verbatim by spicy autocomplete tools. There is no “social contract” to that effect. In fact, when I go to any of Microsoft’s website, documents, videos, or any other content they publish online, on the open web, and scroll to the very bottom of the page, it’s all got the little copyright symbol or similar messaging. Once again, this underlines how entitled Silicon Valley techbros really are. If we violate even a gram of Microsoft’s copyrights, we’d have their lawyers on our ass in weeks – but when Microsoft itself needs to violate copyright and licensing on an automated, industrial scale, for massive profits, everything is suddenly peace, love, and fair use. Men in Silicon Valley just do not understand consent. At all. And they show this time and time again. Meanwhile, the Internet Archive has to deal with crap like this: The lawsuit is about the longstanding and widespread library practice of controlled digital lending, which is how we lend the books we own to our patrons. As a result of the publishers’ lawsuit, more than 500,000 books have been removed from our lending library. ↫ Chris Freeland at the Internet Archive Blogs Controlled lending without a profit motive is deemed illegal, but violating copyright and licensing on an automated, industrial scale is fair use. Make it make sense. Make it make sense.

Microsoft charged with EU antitrust violations for bundling Teams

The European Commission has informed Microsoft of its preliminary view that Microsoft has breached EU antitrust rules by tying its communication and collaboration product Teams to its popular productivity applications included in its suites for businesses Office 365 and Microsoft 365. ↫ European Commission press release Chalk this one up in the unsurprising column, too. Teams has infested Office, and merely by being bundled it’s become a major competitor to Slack, even though everyone who has to use it seems to absolutely despise Teams with a shared passion rivaling only Americans’ disgust for US Congress. On a mildly related note, I’m working with a friend to set up a Matrix server specifically for OSNews users, so we can have a self-hosted, secure, and encrypted space to hang out, continue conversations beyond the shelf life of a news item, suggest interesting stories, point out spelling mistakes, and so on. It’ll be invite-only at first, with preference given to Patreons, active commenters, and other people I trust. We intend to federate, so if everything goes according to plan, you can use your existing Matrix username and account. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Microsoft puts repair front and center

It seems the success of the Framework laptops, as well the community’s relentless focus on demanding repairable devices and he ensuing legislation, are starting to have an impact. It wasn’t that long ago that Microsoft’s Surface devices were effectively impossible to repair, but with the brand new Snapdragon X Elite and Pro devices, the company has made an impressive U-turn, according to iFixIt. Both the new Surface Laptop and Surface Pro are exceptionally easy to repair, and take cues from Framework’s hardware. Microsoft’s journey from the unrepairable Surface Laptop to the highly repairable devices on our teardown table should drive home the importance of designing for repair. The ability to create a repairable Surface was always there but the impetus to design for repairable was missing. I’ll take that as a sign that Right to Repair advocacy and legislation has begun to bear fruit. ↫ Shahram Mokhtari The new Surface devices contain several affordances to make opening them up and repairing them easier. They take cues from Framework in that inside screws and components are clearly labeled to indicate what type they are and which parts they’re holding in place, and there’s a QR code that leads to online repair guides, which were available right away, instead of having to wait months to forever for those to become accessible. The components are also not layered; in other words,you don’t need to remove six components just to get to the SSD, or whatever – some laptops require you to take out the entire mainboard just to get access to the fans to clean them, which is bananas. Microsoft technically doesn’t have to do any of this, so it’s definitely praiseworthy that their hardware department is going the extra kilometre to make this happen. The fact that even the Surface Pro, a tablet, can be reasonably opened up and repaired is especially welcome, since tablets are notoriously difficult to impossible to repair.

Microsoft open-sources GW-BASIC

These sources, as clearly stated in the repo’s readme, are the 8088 assembly language sources from 10th Feb 1983, and are being open-sourced for historical reference and educational purposes. This means we will not be accepting PRs that modify the source in any way. ↫ Rich Turner I’m loving all these open source releases from Microsoft, but honestly, I’d wish the pace was a little higher and we’d get to some more recent stuff. Open sourcing early versions of MS-DOS and related software is obviously great from a software preservation standpoint, but at this rate we’ll get to more influential pieces of software by the time the sun experiences its helium flash. On a related note, about a month ago Microsoft released the source code to MS-DOS 4.00. Well, we’ve now also got access to the code for MS-DOS 4.01, a bugfix release that came out very quickly after 4.00. Due to various bugs, DOS 4.00 was a relatively short-lived release, and it was replaced by DOS 4.01 just a couple of months later. Howard M. Harte (hharte), who already fixed various flaws in the official source code release of MS-DOS 4.00, managed to figure out the differences between DOS 4.00 and 4.01 — we now have access to the improved version as well! ↫ Lothar Serra Mari We’re getting a pretty complete picture of early MS-DOS source code.

Microsoft overhaul treats security as ‘top priority’ after a series of failures

Microsoft is making security its number one priority for every employee, following years of security issues and mounting criticisms. After a scathing report from the US Cyber Safety Review Board recently concluded that “Microsoft’s security culture was inadequate and requires an overhaul,” it’s doing just that by outlining a set of security principles and goals that are tied to compensation packages for Microsoft’s senior leadership team. ↫ Tom Warren at The Verge The devil is in the details regarding tying executive pay to security performance, but it we take it at face value and assume good intent – which is a laughable assumption in our corporatist world, but alas – I would like to see more of this. It’s high time executives start paying – literally and figuratively – for the failings of the companies and teams they claim to run.

At Microsoft, years of security debt come crashing down

Years of accumulated security debt at Microsoft are seemingly crashing down upon the company in a manner that many critics warned about, but few ever believed would actually come to light.  Microsoft is an entrenched enterprise provider, owning nearly one-quarter of the global cloud infrastructure services market and, as of Q1 last year, nearly 20% of the worldwide SaaS application market, according to Synergy Research Group. Though not immune to scandal, in the wake of two major nation-state breaches of its core enterprise platforms, Microsoft is facing one of its most serious reputational crises. ↫ David Jones at Cybersecurity Dive It’s almost like having the entire US government dependent on a single vendor is a bad idea. Just spitballing here.

How not to release historic source code

Regarding the release of the MS-DOS 4.00 source code, Michal Necasek makes an excellent point about how just dumping the code in git is a terrible and destructive way to release older source code. It’s terrific that the source code for DOS 4.00/4.01 was released! But don’t expect to build the source code mutilated by git without problems. Historic source code should be released simply as an archive of files, ZIP or tar or 7z or whatever, with all timestamps preserved and every single byte kept the way it was. Git is simply not a suitable tool for this. ↫ Michal Necasek at OS/2 Museum The problems caused by dumping the code in git are quite real. Timestamps are not preserved, and the conversion to UTF-8 is deeply destructive, turning some parts of the code to literal gibberish. It’s a bit of a mess, and the people responsible for these release should be more careful and considerate.

Microsoft open-sources MS-DOS 4.00, releases early beta of MS-DOS 4.0 (multitasking)

Today, in partnership with IBM and in the spirit of open innovation, we’re releasing the source code to MS-DOS 4.00 under the MIT license. There’s a somewhat complex and fascinating history behind the 4.0 versions of DOS, as Microsoft partnered with IBM for portions of the code but also created a branch of DOS called Multitasking DOS that did not see a wide release. ↫ Scott Hanselman Not only did they release the source code to MS-DOS 4.00, they also released disk images of a very early version of Multitasking DOS, which did not see a wide release, as the article states. I’ve only vaguely heard of MT-DOS over the decades, so I had to do some minor reading and research to untangle what, exactly, MT-DOS really is. Much of this information is probably table stakes for the many older readers we have, but bear with me. MT-DOS, which has the official name MS-DOS 4.0 (often further specified by adding “multitasking” in brackets after the version number) was a version of MS-DOS developed by Microsoft based on MS-DOS 2.0, whose headlining feature was pre-emptive multitasking, which allowed specifically written applications to continue to run in a special background mode. Interestingly enough, it had to perform this multitasking with the same 640k memory limitation as other versions of DOS. Very few OEMs ended up licensing it, and most notably IBM wasn’t interested, so after one or two more OEM-specific versions, it was quickly abandoned by Microsoft. MS-DOS 4.0 (multitasking) is entirely unrelated to the “real” versions 4 of MS-DOS that followed later. The actual version 4 was called MS-DOS 4.00, and it’s the source code to this specific version that’s being released as open source today. MS-DOS 4.00 was quickly followed by 4.01 and 4.01a, but apparently OEMs would confusingly still label 4.01 disks as “MS-DOS 4.0”. The whole MS-DOS 4 saga is quite convoluted and messy, and I’m probably oversimplifying a great deal. Regardless, this code joins the open source releases of MS-DOS 1.25 and 2.0 that Microsoft released years ago.

Microsoft Exchange breach from 2023 was Microsoft’s fault

In May and June 2023, a threat actor compromised the Microsoft Exchange Online mailboxes of 22 organizations and over 500 individuals around the world. The actor—known as Storm-0558 and assessed to be affiliated with the People’s Republic of China in pursuit of espionage objectives—accessed the accounts using authentication tokens that were signed by a key Microsoft had created in 2016. This intrusion compromised senior United States government representatives working on national security matters, including the email accounts of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, United States Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China R. Nicholas Burns, and Congressman Don Bacon. The Board finds that this intrusion was preventable and should never have occurred. The Board also concludes that Microsoft’s security culture was inadequate and requires an overhaul, particularly in light of the company’s centrality in the technology ecosystem and the level of trust customers place in the company to protect their data and operations. ↫ Cyber Safety Review Board’s report The Cyber Safety Review Board reviewed the attack on Microsoft Exchange from last year, with Microsoft’s cooperation, and it turns out it was kind of a complete and utter shitshow inside Microsoft – a cascade of failures, as the report calls it – and concludes that it was an entirely preventable attack. The report is not kind to Microsoft, and it’s a very interesting read if you’re into this sort of post mortems of security breaches.

Microsoft is working on an Xbox AI chatbot

Microsoft is currently testing a new AI-powered Xbox chatbot that can be used to automate support tasks. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that the software giant has been testing an “embodied AI character” that animates when responding to Xbox support queries. I understand this Xbox AI chatbot is part of a larger effort inside Microsoft to apply AI to its Xbox platform and services. ↫ Tom Warren at The Verge I’m convinced. This is the future. Artificial intelligence, AI, no quotation marks. Please, Microsoft. Train this AI on Xbox voice chat and messages. What could possible go wrong?

Microsoft to separate Teams and Office globally amid antitrust scrutiny

Microsoft will sell its chat and video app Teams separately from its Office product globally, the U.S. tech giant said on Monday, six months after it unbundled the two products in Europe in a bid to avert a possible EU antitrust fine. The European Commission has been investigating Microsoft’s tying of Office and Teams since a 2020 complaint by Salesforce-owned competing workspace messaging app Slack. ↫ Foo Yun Chee at Reuters I honestly misread this as Microsoft selling Teams off, which would’ve been far bigger news. Unbundling Teams from Office globally is just Microsoft applying its recent European Union policy to the rest of the world. All we need now is Microsoft to stop trying to make Teams for families and friends happen, because nobody will ever want to use Teams for anything, let alone personal use.

The Microsoft Graveyard

Microsoft Graveyard is the virtual graveyard for all products killed by Microsoft; a free and open source collection of dead Microsoft products built by a passionate and nostalgic community. Our objective as a community is to provide factual, historic information for the products listed here. If something is missing, inaccurate, or you have a suggestion, visit and contribute to the project on GitHub. ↫ Victor Frye Heavily inspired by Killed by Google, but definitely incomplete for now, especially the further back in time you go.

Microsoft contributes Azure RTOS to open source

We’re pleased to share an important update regarding Azure RTOS – an embedded development suite with the ThreadX real-time operating system that has been deployed on more than 12 billion devices worldwide. Reinforcing our commitment to innovation and community collaboration, Azure RTOS will be transitioning to an open-source model under the stewardship of the Eclipse Foundation, a recognized leader in hosting open-source IoT projects. With Eclipse Foundation as the new home, Azure RTOS becomes Eclipse ThreadX – a comprehensive embedded development suite including a small but powerful real-time operating system that provides reliable, ultra-fast performance for resource-constrained devices. It’s easy-to-use, market proven, and trusted by developers and manufacturers for over two decades. It also supports the most popular 32-bit microcontrollers and embedded development tools so teams can make the most of their existing skills. The Eclipse’s Foundation announcement post has more details.

Microsoft is finally making custom chips — and they’re all about AI

The rumors are true: Microsoft has built its own custom AI chip that can be used to train large language models and potentially avoid a costly reliance on Nvidia. Microsoft has also built its own Arm-based CPU for cloud workloads. Both custom silicon chips are designed to power its Azure data centers and ready the company and its enterprise customers for a future full of AI. Microsoft’s Azure Maia AI chip and Arm-powered Azure Cobalt CPU are arriving in 2024, on the back of a surge in demand this year for Nvidia’s H100 GPUs that are widely used to train and operate generative image tools and large language models. There’s such high demand for these GPUs that some have even fetched more than $40,000 on eBay. Amazon and Google, the two other major cloud providers, are already using all kinds of custom, in-house silicon in their datacentres, so it’s not exactly surprising Microsoft is following in their footsteps.

A quick look back at the MSX PC platform, including Microsoft’s role, on its 40th birthday

We have written articles in the past year about some of Microsoft’s different product launches, like how its first real hardware device was an add-in card for the Apple II, or its not-so-smartwatch platform, SPOT. However, many people may not be aware that Microsoft had a small involvement in a movement to create a standardized PC platform that evolved into a huge video game platform in Japan. The platform is called MSX, and on October 21, 1983, just over 40 years ago, the first such PC that used the platform went on sale in Japan, the Mitsubishi ML-8000. The launch price for the PC was 59,800 yen or close to $400. One of my oldest computer memories is using an MSX with a friend at his parents’ house. I must’ve been 7 years old or something like that. The MSX was weirdly popular in The Netherlands due to Philips building quite a few of them.

Microsoft CEO admits he should’ve fought harder with Windows Phone

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was interviewed by Business Insider, and when asked about his greatest strategic mistake, the answer was obvious. The decision I think a lot of people talk about – and one of the most difficult decisions I made when I became CEO —was our exit of what I’ll call the mobile phone as defined then. In retrospect, I think there could have been ways we could have made it work by perhaps reinventing the category of computing between PCs, tablets, and phones. Microsoft’s failures to anticipate the mobile market is legendary at this point, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Microsoft CEO state they should’ve tried harder and stuck with it. I was a huge fan of Windows Phone 7 and 8, and even imported the first devices running those platforms from the US, because the platforms were not available in The Netherlands at the time. However, Windows Phone was a dead end. Even regular Windows has a big application problem, and it was a millions of times worse on Windows Phone. I doubt any amount of money or development resources would’ve changed the fate of Windows Phone. It would’ve been good for the industry as a whole had Microsoft not failed, but the reality of it is that Android and iOS were already so far ahead it was impossible for anyone, even someone as large and wealthy as Microsoft, to catch up. Add to that the countless terrible business and technological decisions the company made with Windows Phone, and it just wasn’t meant to be. I understand that Nadella pines for the slice of the money pie they’ve could’ve had, but I doubt he sincerely thinks things could’ve turned out any differently.

Sealed in glass

Storing data on glass might sound futuristic, but it’s a concept that dates back to the 19th century when single photographic negatives were preserved on panes of glass. Fast forward to today, technology has remarkably expanded the storage capabilities of this sustainable material. A small sheet of glass can now hold several terabytes of data, enough to store approximately 1.75 million songs or 13 years’ worth of music. Elire, a sustainability-focused venture group, has collaborated with Microsoft Research’s Project Silica team to harness this technology for their Global Music Vault in Svalbard, Norway. Using silica-based glass plates, they’re creating a durable archive that is not only resistant to electromagnetic pulses and extreme temperatures but also environmentally friendly. This vault will complement repositories like the Global Seed Vault and the Arctic World Archive, offering a comprehensive sanctuary for musical heritage—from classical operas to modern hits and indigenous compositions. Looking to the future, Elire plans to expand this enduring musical repository by establishing accessible locations worldwide, inviting the public to interact with this extensive and ever-growing archive. There are so many avenues of study and research that we haven’t fully explored yet, that could lead to revolutions, big and small, in how we do even relatively basic things like store data. This project reminds me of the data rods the Cardassians use, making this yet another example of reality chasing Star Trek.

Microsoft talks up Copilot in OneDrive and SharePoint

Get ready for the contents of your files in Microsoft OneDrive to be scanned and ingested by Microsoft’s “AI” efforts. As announced at Build in May and again in September we are bringing Copilot to your files in SharePoint and OneDrive so you can ask open-ended questions related to an individual file or get a summary of the content. And you can do this without opening the file and no matter where it lives, in OneDrive, SharePoint or Teams. We expect Copilot in OneDrive to become available by December for all customers who have a Microsoft 365 Copilot license. I have still not used any of these “AI” tools, other than like twice to see what the fuss was about. Nothing they can supposedly do entices me, and the amount of nonsense they spew on a daily basis would make a Russian troll farm manager blush. I genuinely feel for all those Windows users who’ll have to deal with this nonsense.