Microsoft's week involved its first-ever security patch for Windows Phone 7, and a deepening partnership with Research In Motion.
week was all about mobile: patches, alliances and snafus.
On May 3, the
company issued its first-ever security advisory for Windows Phone 7, related to
fraudulent SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates. Back in March, attackers
requested nine digital certificates from Comodo, an entity that issues them,
and managed to retrieve one before the account was shut down. At the time,
Comodo said it noted no attempts to use the certificates, which could have been
leveraged in phishing attacks, spoof content or to perform malicious "man in
the middle" operations against Web-browser issues.
issued a security advisory over the fraudulent certificates March 23,
originally targeting the patch at Windows users, before expanding it to mobile
products: Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile 6.x, Zune and Kin.
previously issued two major updates for Windows Phone 7, neither of which dealt
with security. Following February's minor infrastructure update, designed to
"pave the way" for future software upgrades, the company issued its much-larger
"NoDo" update with code tweaks and cut-and-paste functionality.
users became frustrated at the slowness of those updates actually reaching
their Windows Phone 7 devices, and took matters into their own hands with a
homebrew solution that downloaded the updates ahead of their official push-out.
those users encountered an issue related to this newest security patch.
fact that many people have claimed that an unofficial update mechanism worked
fine for them," Brandon Watson, Microsoft's director of developer experience
for Windows Phone 7, wrote in a May 4 posting on The Windows Blog
cautioned that phones which were updated via this method were not going to be
able to update past [NoDo]."
For those who
used the homebrew method, he added, "the rubber meets the road today." For
those whose smartphones refuse to update, "you will most likely have to return
to a store and submit your phone for a manufacturing return."
Watson doesn't mention the specific "unofficial update mechanism" by name, it's
almost certainly a reference to the ChevronWP7.Updater created at the beginning
of April by developer Chris Walsh.
ironically, three days after releasing ChevronWP7.Updater to the world, Walsh asked
people to avoid using his program. "I was later informed by Microsoft that
there were several problems with my tool and the manner in which it changes
phones," he wrote on his blog
To his credit,
Walsh became instantly proactive with this latest issue, asking in a May 4 blog
post that users who'd "Walshed" their devices post their phone make and model,
information from settings and their carrier. "Personally, Zune updated 3
-Walshed' phones to [the security update] just fine this morning," he wrote.
"If you've posted below with your details ... I will be in contact with you with
a solution to fix it."
Watson, meanwhile, seemed open to the prospect of Walsh's solution. "The
creators of this tool are a clever bunch," he wrote, "and wanted to get a
timely fix created for customers who have put their phones into this state ... we
will work with them to validate their solution and applaud the team for taking
responsibility to do this."
On a more
strategic level, though, Microsoft's biggest news of the week came during
Research In Motion's BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Fla., where
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage to announce yet another partnership
between the two companies.
Microsoft will support the top phone platforms with our cloud services," he
told the audience, "we're going to invest uniquely in the BlackBerry platform
in addition to our own Windows Phone platform."
apparently, that Bing will become the "preferred" search and maps application
for BlackBerry. Closer to the end of 2011, Bing will be more deeply integrated
on the BlackBerry operating-system level, making it a core component of RIM's
RIM already have an agreement to port the former's cloud services, notably
Office 365, onto BlackBerry and the new PlayBook tablet, with RIM's BlackBerry
Servers connecting "cloud to cloud" with Microsoft's data centers to host
Office 365 data on users' servers.
With its RIM
deal, Microsoft follows a pattern already established with companies like Yahoo
and Nokia, both of which use a Microsoft platform (Bing in the former's case,
Windows Phone 7 in the latter's future) to power some fundamental aspect of
their business. Such deals allow Microsoft to gain many of the benefits of a
merger at a fraction of the cost.
appearance immediately set tongues wagging that Microsoft will attempt to
acquire RIM. Such an idea has been floated before. However, RIM's and
Microsoft's respective smartphone platforms remain in direct competition with
one another, raising sticky questions about how-in the event it takes over RIM-Microsoft
would even begin to digest its new assets.