Microsoft's week involved a relatively light Patch Tuesday, price cuts to its Office 365 cloud software and some rumors of Windows 8 tablets.
a fairly quiet week, marked by Patch Tuesday and additional indications that
Windows 8 tablets are in development.
Microsoft's March 2012 Patch Tuesday was light on actual bulletinswith six in
totalsecurity researchers nonetheless advised companies to fix the only "critical"
one as fast as possible.
bulletin, MS12-020 (Windows), addresses an issue in Remote Desktop Protocol
(RDP). While Microsoft insisted in a March 13 posting on the Microsoft Security Response Center
it "know[s] of no active exploitation in the wild," it also advised
that "customers examine and prepare to apply this bulletin as soon as
possible." As it stands, the vulnerability allows an attacker to achieve
remote code execution; Microsoft is offering a one-click, no-reboot "fix-it"
that "enables Network-Level Authentication, an effective mitigation for
Of the five other
bulletins, two are rated "important" and relate to Expression Design
(MS12-022) and Visual Studio (MS12-018). Two other "important" ones
apply to different configurations of Windows and Windows Server, and focus on
Kernel (MS12-018) and Domain Name System (DNS) (MS12-017). The last, rated "moderate,"
deals with DirectWrite (MS12-019).
analysts hammered home the importance of patching the RDP issue. "Last
fall we saw the RDP worm Morto attacking publicly exposed Remote Desktop
services across businesses of all sizes with brute-force password guessing,"
Kurt Baumgartner, senior security researcher for Kaspersky Lab, wrote in a
March 13 posting on Securelist
, "The Morto worm incident
brought attention to poorly secured RDP services. Accordingly, this Remote
Desktop vulnerability must be patched immediately."
news (and rumors) about the upcoming Windows 8 continued to trickle into the
blogosphere. Slated for final release sometime in late 2012, the upcoming
operating system features a start screen of colorful, touch-friendly tiles
linked to applications, the better to operate on tablets.
chief Marko Ahtisaari told the Finnish magazine Kauppalehti Optio
that "we are working" on a tablet,
according to Reuters
. That came days after a March 12 article
suggested that Nokia would launch a
Windows 8 tablet sometime in the fourth quarter of 2012, complete with a
10-inch screen and a Qualcomm dual-core chipset. DigiTimes'
information came from unnamed sources among "upstream
component suppliers" who predicted that "Nokia's venture into the
tablet PC market will also further intensify competition among non-iPad tablet
Microsoft already have a tight relationship centered on Windows Phone, which
replaced Symbian and other homegrown platforms as the former's primary mobile
On the cloud
front, Microsoft lowered the price of its Office 365 cloud-based productivity
software. "As we rapidly add customers, the cost to run Office 365 becomes
more efficient," Kirk Koenigsbauer of the Office division wrote in a corporate blog posting
March 14. "With these
efficiencies, we're able to pass on savings to make it even more affordable for
customers of all sizes to move to Office 365." Specifically, Microsoft is
instituting price cuts of up to 20 percent for "most of our Office 365 for
For the past
few years, Microsoft has pushed an "all-in" cloud strategy centered
on porting a variety of products to the cloud, including Office. While that
initiative has yet to translate into significant revenues on the scale of
Windows, it allows Microsoft to establish a sizable presence in an arena also
targeted by rivals such as Google.
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