Microsoft Sets Sights on Building Practical Quantum Computer

Today's topics include Microsoft's plan to build a Quantum computer, Trend Micro's find that the Cerber malware is seeking out database files to encrypt and hold for ransom, IBM's new Watson internet of things services for the automotive, electronics and insurance industries, and the release of the Microsoft Office Online Server update.

Microsoft is on a mission to build a quantum computer, and the company has appointed Todd Holmdahl to manage the project. Holmdahl is the corporate vice president of Microsoft Quantum, a unit dedicated to turning the company's quantum computing research into real-world products.

He previously helped shepherd the development of the Xbox, Kinect motion controller and HoloLens augmented reality headset as commercialized products. Now Holmdahl and his team are gearing up to bring quantum computing into the mainstream.

"I think we're at an inflection point in which we are ready to go from research to engineering," he stated in a Nov. 20 blog post.

Ransomware authors aim to make money by encrypting user files and then demanding that users pay a ransom for the safe return of their data.

According to new research published Nov. 22 by security firm Trend Micro, the recent Cerber 4.1.5 ransomware release is going beyond targeting any accessible user files and is encrypting database files.

According to Trend Micro's research, Cerber 4.1.5's configuration file includes a list of file types it targets for encryption, including database files from Microsoft Access, Oracle, and MySQL as well as files related to accounting, payroll, and health care database software.

IBM has announced new Watson IoT (internet of things) Consulting Solutions, including specific offerings for the automotive, electronics and insurance industries.

Jesus Mantas, GM for IBM Business Consulting explained that IBM's goal in introducing the new IoT Consulting Solutions is to help enable organizations recognize and benefit from the business transformation benefits that IoT can help to provide.

"We wanted to create an easy way for clients to consume IoT services in an integrated way," Mantas told eWEEK. "So instead of organizations needing to buy a platform, hire consultants, put it all together and then build a business, we're putting it all together inside of an IBM stack."

Office Online Server, a version of the browser-based Office Online application suite that businesses can host out of their own data centers, is getting its first major update since Microsoft released the server edition six months ago.

Office Online Server essentially allows organizations to grant their users access to web-based versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote that are delivered from their own servers instead of Microsoft's Azure Cloud infrastructure.

The software can be coupled with Exchange Server 2016 and Skype for Business Server 2016 to enable advanced content sharing using the browser-based Outlook client and remote presentations.

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