Microsoft's week centered on the Internet Explorer 9 launch, a cloud-based partnership with RIM, a botnet takedown, and Zune hardware's (possible) death.
consumers (and businesses), the most important piece of news coming out of
Microsoft's week was the March 14 release of Internet Explorer 9, the latest
version of the company's browser.
The IE9 final
version is available at www.BeautyOfTheWeb.com
While the Internet Explorer franchise continues to hold the majority of the
browser market, it faces some aggressive rivalry from the likes of Mozilla
Firefox, Google Chrome and other rivals. Thanks at least in part to that
competition, Internet Explorer's market share has fallen roughly 12 percentage
points over the past two years, from 68.46 percent in March 2009 to the current
claims that IE9 sets new standards for security and speed. The browser
Chakra, to render Web pages and rich content more quickly. Microsoft also
stripped the browser interface down to a translucent frame with some minimalist
widgets, the better to bring Web content front-and-center.
the company built IE9 to leverage Windows 7 for some eye-popping features,
including the ability to drag-and-drop a Website tab to the Windows 7
taskbar-transforming it into an icon that can, when right-clicked, open up a
"jump list" full of one-click links to that Website's most vital content.
Windows 7 users can also "Aero Snap" their browser windows to the left or right
of the screen, which comes in handy when comparing two Web pages side-by-side.
interoperability with Windows 7, IE9 remains incompatible with Windows XP,
which continues to run on 55.09 percent of PCs. That shuts off IE9 from a
substantial portion of PCs nonetheless still capable of running Firefox and
Chrome-and basically leaves Microsoft hoping that people will continue to
migrate to the newer operating system at a steady rate. That's not necessarily
a bad assumption, given Windows' lock on the operating-system market, but
nonetheless a complication given IE9's need to hold back its rivals from
gaining any more market share.
In any case,
IE9 attracted a lot of attention during its initial release, with more than
2.35 million downloads in the first 24 hours. "That is over 27 downloads every
second," Ryan Gavin, senior director for Internet Explorer, wrote in a March 16
posting on The Windows Blog, "or over 240 downloads every nine seconds." The
number of IE9 downloads, apparently, is double that of the IE9 Beta and "four
times that of the IE9 RC" on their respective first days of release.
Microsoft will shift its attention toward a mobile version of Internet Explorer
9, in order to seize a piece of the burgeoning smartphone and tablet markets.
mobility, Research In Motion announced March 17 that it would partner with
Microsoft on a variety of cloud offerings for both BlackBerry devices and the
upcoming PlayBook tablet.
always been core to our business," Alec Taylor, vice president of Software,
Services and Enterprise Marketing for RIM, told analysts and reporters
listening to a March 17 presentation. "It's how we do real-time push; it's how
we developed our world-class security, our integration with carrier systems."
with Microsoft centers on RIM providing cloud-based BlackBerry service in
support of Office 365, whose subscription-based model allows organizations to
stay up-to-date with the latest versions of Microsoft Office, SharePoint
Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online. RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Servers
will apparently connect "cloud to cloud" with Microsoft's data centers to host
Office 365 data on users' BlackBerries.
will be able to port and display Office 365 data from any user's BlackBerry,
via a tethering service called BlackBerry Bridge. RIM executives continue to
play coy with the 7-inch tablet's eventual release date, although rumors
suggest it will hit store shelves sometime in April.
RIM agreement is just the latest in a
series of partnerships Redmond signed with other tech giants
. In the
summer of 2009, Microsoft inked an agreement with Yahoo to power the latter's
back-end search. In February, Microsoft announced it would partner with Nokia
to deliver Windows Phone 7 onto the Finnish manufacturer's smartphones.
Alliances in the cloud and mobile space could help Microsoft greatly as it
seeks to take on Google, Oracle, Salesforce.com and other companies determined
to take their own piece of that brave new world.
On the darker
side of the cloud equation, Microsoft and a handful of partners helped
eliminate Rustock, a botnet with roughly a million infected computers
reportedly under its control. "This operation, known as Operation b107, is the
second high-profile takedown in Microsoft's joint effort between [its Digital
Crimes Unit], Microsoft Malware Protection Center and Trustworthy
Computing-known as Project MARS (Microsoft Active Response for Security),"
Richard Boscovich, senior attorney for Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit, wrote
in a March 17 corporate blog posting
ultimate mission, Boscovich continued, is to "disrupt botnets and begin to undo
the damage the botnets have caused by helping victims regain control of their
infected systems." Microsoft has apparently filed suit against the Rustock
botnet's anonymous operators, following a procedure pioneered when the company
helped take down the Waledac botnet.
suspect Rustock or other types of malware have infected their computers can
apparently visit support.microsoft.com/botnets
for information and resources.
On a side
note, reports this week suggested that Microsoft may have killed its Zune
portable-media player, which includes the touch-screen Zune HD.
a March 14 Bloomberg report on the matter, a Microsoft spokesperson e-mailed to
eWEEK: "We have nothing to announce about another Zune device ... our long-term
strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft
Zune HD earned strong reviews in the wake of its September 2009 release, the
device failed to break the Apple iPod's tight grip on the portable-media
market. Whether or not the hardware is dead, though, Microsoft will almost certainly
continue to support Zune as a software platform (and online store) in Windows
Phone 7 and other devices.