Posts filed under ‘microsoft’

Walmart in bed with Microsoft? Walmart says NO to Firefox, Mac, Apple

Excellent article posted by

Last week, Walmart launched their online video download service. Immediately there were posts that the service did not work with the Firefox or Safari browsers.

Click below image for more details.

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There was a collective, “WTF” when this happened as this is 2007, not 1997. Back then it was “accepted” for applications to work with only a specific browser or platform. Now it appears that reports are out that Walmart has turned off the ability to get into the application at all by Firefox, Safari or any other browser it does not like.

And I can confirm that I cannot access the site via Firefox. So I ask, is this because of bad coding or because Walmart is working with Microsoft? Jonathan asks the same question. I certainly hope it is bad coding. But for the largest company in the world to not test their applications is just piss poor. In addition, with the requirements for SOX, who signed off on this going live? I can only imagine that in my past corporate life, heads would have rolled. (It appears some of the issues might be due to the DRM they are using is IE only)

With the “early adopters” generally using non-ie browsers, this will certainly hurt their ability for this to succeed. I hope this is only temporary. I am sure Netflix and iTunes must be loving this. Today any “f-up” is immediately spread across the web in mere minutes. I would have liked to see a message from Walmart that says this:

We understand that there are some issues using our download service in browsers other than Internet Explorer. We are quickly working on resolving the issues and appreciate your patience. Enter your email address and we will notify you once the service is functional in the other browsers and we will include a free download coupon for the trouble. Thank you for your interest in Walmart.

Updated 5pm: appears they are blocking apple completely — from walmart customer service:
And Walmart video download service does not support the Macintosh Operating Systems as the video that you download requires Digital Rights Management 10 (DRM 10) software, which is not compatible with the Macintosh operating system.

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February 11, 2007 at 11:21 am Leave a comment

IE 7 gives secure Web sites the green light

By Joris Evers

Microsoft has quietly flipped the switch on a new feature in Internet Explorer 7 meant to combat phishing scams.

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The software giant in early January made a change on its computer systems that allowed Web sites fitted with a new type of security certificate to display a green-filled address bar in IE 7, Markellos Diorinos, a product manager for Windows at Microsoft, said in an interview. “We have rolled out many of the parts that are required to get it working. We’re coming close to the point where all the moving parts are in place,” Diorinos said. Microsoft plans to promote the green bar at next week’s RSA Conference in San Francisco, an annual security confab kicked off by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

The colored address bar, a new weapon in the fight against phishing scams, is meant as a sign that a site can be trusted, giving Web surfers the green light to carry out transactions there. The green bar already appears on the secured sites of Overstock.com and VeriSign. VeriSign has about 300 customers, including online retailer Overstock.com, that have signed up for the green bar certification process, said Spiros Theodossiou, a senior product manager at VeriSign. The company plans to unveil the names of more participating Web sites at the RSA Conference, he said.

Phishing is a prevalent online scam that uses faked Web sites to trick people into giving up personal information. The scams cost businesses millions of dollars and hurt consumer trust in the Internet. Nearly $2 billion in U.S. e-commerce sales were lost in 2006 due to security concerns, a recent Gartner survey estimated.

greenbarIE7 “We want users to build up their confidence and feel safe again about transacting online,” Diorinos said. “EV (extended validation) is one of many things we’re doing to achieve that.”

SSL price hike
IE 7, Microsoft’s newest Web browser, will show a green address bar only when displaying a Web site that has an “extended validation certificate,” or EV SSL. This is a new type of security certificate being sold by the same companies that sell Secure Socket Layer, or SSL, certificates that allow traffic to be encrypted and that are indicated by a yellow padlock in Web browsers.

There is broad industry agreement that Web browsers need to better identify trusted sites. The padlock icon used today was designed to show that traffic with a Web site is encrypted, and that a third party, called a certification authority, has identified the site. However, the system has been weakened by lax standards and loose supervision. EV SSL certificates are just like those that allow encrypted connections between browsers and sites. The difference is that the identity of each certificate holder has been verified. Requestors will be subject to a strict vetting process that all issuers must follow. As a result, EV certificates cost more than traditional SSL certificates.

For example, Cybertrust sells conventional certificates for $230 a year, but charges $800 a year for an EV SSL certificate. Similarly, VeriSign sells EV SSL certificates for $995 a year, while its traditional certificates go for $399. Discounters sell the common certificates for much less. GoDaddy, for example, has prices as low as $19.99 a year. “With EV we have a common vetting standard, which raises the cost. That is why you can’t have these rock-bottom prices,” Johan Sys, a senior director at Cybertrust, said in explaining the price difference.

Shutting out the little guy
The new system adopted by Microsoft has won both praise and criticism. Initially, only incorporated entities will be able to get the trust indicator–a rule that shuts out smaller businesses. The CA Browser Forum, the organization that drafts the rules for EV SSL certificates, is still working on guidelines that would include all legitimate Web sites.

“The CA Browser Forum is continuing to work on that issue and that is probably No. 1 on the agenda,” Diorinos said. The CA Browser Forum, comprised of companies that issue certificates for Web sites and major browser makers, is treading carefully. It doesn’t want to weaken the security of the EV SSL certificates, VeriSign’s Theodossiou said.

“We don’t want to come up with a standard for nonregistered businesses that adds a loophole,” Theodossiou said. “We want to make sure that the standard is correct. Trying to push out something that adds loopholes is pushing out something that devalues the green toolbar.”

Microsoft is the first browser maker to adopt the EV SSL certificates. Some say the Redmond, Wash.-software giant even jumped the gun by adopting an unfinished standard for issuing the certificates. Other browser makers are still contemplating how to support the new certificates in their products. “We are including support for EV certificates in Firefox 3, but we are still investigating how we will communicate the additional information to the user,” said Window Snyder, security chief at Mozilla, which coordinates development of Firefox, the most used Web browser after IE. Firefox 3 is due in the second half of the year, Snyder said.

Representatives for Opera have said they are waiting to see how Microsoft fares with the green bar in IE7, which last month reached more than 100 million users, before adding such functionality to its browser. Adoption of EV SSL certificates is expected to ramp up as more people become aware of the feature. “We think the adoption rate can take about 6 to 12 months until you hit a sweet spot where most of the high-profile Web sites will have it,” Cybertrust’s Sys said.

Microsoft plans to make promotional material available for Web site owners to explain what the green bar means, Diorinos said. “I will pop the champagne when we see widespread adoption of EV and when we start seeing users be more secure online,” he said.

Copyright ©1995-2007 CNET Networks, Inc. All rights reserved.

February 3, 2007 at 11:18 am 1 comment

Firefox sets up shop in China

Mozilla.org, which makes the open-source Firefox browser, is opening a China office to do battle in the world’s second-largest Web market.

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California-based Mozilla already has a presence in China via a not-for-profit foundation supporting open-source software projects, but the Beijing office will be its first real corporate presence, Mozilla Chief Operating Officer John Lilly said Friday. “It’s not our goal to make sure that everyone in the world is using Firefox. My main goal is that people know there’s a choice–that going on the Internet is not just clicking the blue ‘E’,” Lilly said, referring to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer desktop icon.

Open-source software is intended to be copied and modified freely by people, leaving developers to make money from selling features and technical support, unlike paid-for proprietary software such as Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Mozilla employs 100 staff worldwide, but has a much larger community of volunteers who test, tweak and share open-source software such as Linux, on which Firefox is based.

Mozilla operates through tie-ups with Google and Yahoo, targeting individual Web surfers, while open-source heavyweight and main Linux distributor Red Hat and, recently, Oracle, target corporate clients. The aim of Mozilla is to educate China’s open-source developers, who will adapt the technology to suit local tastes and become “Mozilla with Chinese characteristics,” Lilly said.

Mozilla, which has an office in Tokyo and volunteer staff in Taiwan, hopes to raise its slice of the China market to match its 9 percent share in Japan in a “couple years,” he added. The company has around 80 million to 100 million users globally and around 1 million in China, Lilly said. China is the world’s second-largest Internet market after the United States, with around 137 million users. In China, stricter government rules on piracy and expensive software licenses might encourage more consumers to turn to open-source technology, industry watchers say.

Ever keen to develop home-grown technology, Beijing is also working on its own computer operating system and third-generation wireless standard, as well as its answer to the open-source movement–state-backed Linux distributor Red Flag Software. Microsoft’s Explorer remains the most widely used software to surf the Web, but the long gap between major releases has allowed the emergence of its most formidable browser competitor since it vanquished the once-dominant Netscape. Mozilla’s is its distant and closest competitor.

Firefox pitches itself as a more secure browser against malware and has steadily gained users since its debut in 2004. Its fastest-growing market is Europe, where it has a one-fifth market share, Lilly said, defining Europe as mostly western Europe and the Czech Republic. Internet Explorer registered an 86 percent global share in October, Mozilla Firefox had 11.5 percent and both Apple’s Safari and Norway’s Opera Software, had less than 2 percent each, according to OneStat.com.

By ZDNet

February 2, 2007 at 10:21 am Leave a comment

Google fourth quarter profit nearly triples

 

By Elinor Mills

Google‘s fourth-quarter revenue rose 67 percent and profit nearly tripled on continued strength in its cash cow paid searc business.

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Handily beating analysts estimates, net earnings for the quarter ended December 31 were $1.03 billion, or $3.29 a share, including one-time items such as stock-based compensation, compared with $372 million, or $1.22 a share, during the same quarter in 2005. Excluding those items, earnings were $997 million, or $3.18 a share. Total revenue for the quarter rose 67 percent to $3.2 billion, compared to $1.92 billion a year ago. Excluding traffic acquisition costs, or commission paid to content partners, revenue was $2.23 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting Google to post earnings per share of $2.92 excluding items, and revenue of $2.19 billion, excluding traffic acquisition costs. Paid search represents nearly all of Google’s revenue. The company is expanding its advertising platform beyond the Web into radio and print.

“We paid over $3 billion in 2006 to our partners and this is a figure that we expect is going to increase as we ramp up our video, radio and print programs,” founder Sergey Brin said in a conference call with analysts. Asked about whether the company plans to help companies advertise on television, Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said: “We have already said that we are experimenting with traditional television advertising…There are many reasons to believe that the targeting technology we have invented can apply well, that advertisers will pay much higher rates for ads that are targeted.”

As for YouTube, Google suspects content creators will take advantage of the direct link to fans that the video-sharing site provides, said Schmidt. “We can connect the copyright owner with the user,” he said. “We’re pushing for a model where the people who produce the content get some revenue back.” In addition, Google is working on audio and video fingerprinting technologies to protect copyright holders, he said.

When it comes to search, paid clicks on ads on Google’s network and its publisher partners’ Web sites grew more than 60 percent in the aggregate, according to Chief Financial Officer George Reyes. While things look rosy for Google, its largest search rival posted more modest fourth quarter results. Last week, Yahoo’s earnings were down more than 60 percent from a year ago.

Web traffic to Google grew 24 percent in the fourth quarter from the same period a year earlier and Google accounts for more than half of all Web searches, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. The company is expected to capture two-thirds of the search advertising revenue this year, according to eMarketer.

Google shares, which closed at $501.50, dropped as much as 2 percent in after-hours trading after the company failed to make so-called “whisper numbers” on the street that were slightly higher than the estimates that they beat. The stock has risen nearly 18 percent over the past year, about the same amount that Yahoo’s has fallen.

 

Copyright ©1995-2007 CNET Networks, Inc. All rights reserved.

February 1, 2007 at 12:56 am 1 comment

Profit Down, Outlook Up at Yahoo

Originally posted by SAUL HANSELL at The New York Times.

y31.gif Yahoo closed the books on a tough year yesterday, reporting that its sales rebounded in the fourth quarter from an especially sluggish third quarter and promising investors that it would soon turn on technology that it hoped would close the widening gap with Google.

Its fourth-quarter profits were down from a year ago when it had investment gains, however, and it predicted only modest improvements for this year, suggesting that Yahoo would continue to struggle to keep up with Google, its Silicon Valley rival.

Yahoo executives were upbeat enough, however, that Yahoo’s shares rose by 5.8 percent, or $1.57, in after-hours trading, to $28.53. The price had fallen 46 cents, to $26.96 in regular trading.

Of most significance to investors, Yahoo said it would begin the second phase of its long-delayed search advertising system, called Project Panama, on Feb. 5. On that day, it will start displaying advertising on search pages in the order in which its computers estimate it will make the most money.

Search advertisers bid the price they are willing to pay each time a user clicks to visit their Web sites. Yahoo now shows the highest bid first, a method that analysts say earned it only 60 percent as much on each search as Google’s more sophisticated formula. Terry S. Semel, Yahoo’s chief executive, said the company would reap the rewards of the new system — but slowly.

“The first time we see any benefit will be at the end of the second quarter,” he said in an interview yesterday. “Every quarter thereafter we will start to get better.”

Mr. Semel said Yahoo would not see the full impact until 2008, when the system will be expanded to international markets.

In the fourth quarter, Yahoo earned $268.7 million, or 19 cents a share, down from $683.2 million, or 46 cents a share, in the period a year earlier. In the fourth quarter of 2005, Yahoo’s earnings were buoyed by $408 million in accounting adjustments relating to the sale of its Chinese unit and some tax changes. Excluding those adjustments and some expenses related to stock-based compensation, Yahoo’s fourth-quarter income in 2006 was $296.5 million, up 15 percent from the prior year.

Yahoo predicted another slow year of growth. The company’s revenue, after deducting payments it makes to Web sites that display the ads it sells, was $4.56 billion for 2006, an increase of 23 percent over 2005. (The growth was slower than the company had predicted at this time last year.) For next year, it predicts net revenue of $4.95 billion to $5.45 billion, an increase of 8.6 percent to 20 percent.

It also expects the growth rate in operating cash flow, a measure of profitability, to slow as well.

By contrast, Google is expected to announce next week that its 2006 net revenue was up 85 percent, to $7.45 billion. And analysts expect its net revenue to increase 48 percent this year.

For the fourth quarter, Yahoo reported revenue, excluding payments to other sites, of $1.23 billion, up 15 percent. Yahoo’s revenue was slightly higher than analysts’ expectations of $1.22 billion. Its per-share earning of 19 cents in the quarter was well ahead of the 13 cents expected by Wall Street.

As Yahoo has fallen further behind Google, there has been increasing criticism of Mr. Semel’s leadership as slow, indecisive and unfocused. In response, last month Mr. Semel fired Yahoo’s chief operating officer, Daniel L. Rosensweig, and reorganized the company’s management, placing responsibility for advertising sales and some other business under Susan L. Decker, formerly the company’s chief financial officer.

In a conference call with investors, Ms. Decker said that Yahoo planned to rebuild its business of selling advertising for other sites, both text ads related to Web searches and graphic banner ads. In recent years, Yahoo has lost its early lead in the search ad business to Google. And while it is still the largest seller of display advertising on its own site, AOL’s Advertising.com unit has become the largest network selling graphical display advertising for other sites.

Mr. Semel said the Panama system would allow advertisers to buy both graphic and search advertising at one time, something that Yahoo had not allowed until now.

“Large advertisers want to talk about display advertising and search at the same time in the same meeting,” he said.

Mr. Semel said that Yahoo was buying advertising space on other sites on behalf of its large customers, using an advertising marketplace run by Right Media.

Yahoo is looking to sell ads on other sites in part because the growth of its own user base is slowing. Yahoo increased its user base in 2006 by 16 percent, to 423 million people worldwide, but the growth rate of users in 2005 was 22 percent. Yahoo’s users are looking at more pages than they did a year ago, but the company’s advertising revenue for each page displayed declined, it said, mainly because of its lagging search ad technology.

In the United States, Yahoo’s revenue grew to $1.15 billion in the fourth quarter of 2006, an increase of 8 percent from the quarter a year ago. By contrast, the company’s strong business in Asia helped its international revenue grow at a 25 percent pace, to $558 million.

January 24, 2007 at 6:38 pm 1 comment

Microsoft goes global with antivirus tool update

Originally posted by Joris Evers of CNET News.com.

Microsoft plans to ship an update to Windows Live OneCare on January 30, marking the first time the antivirus and PC maintenance tool will be sold outside the U.S.

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The release of OneCare version 1.5 is slated to coincide with the consumer launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft’s long-awaited operating system update. The new OneCare version, as expected, will also run on Vista, Microsoft said in a statement Tuesday.

OneCare is Microsoft’s first consumer security product, released in May. It combines antivirus, antispyware and firewall software with backup features and several tune-up tools for Windows PCs. Microsoft is going head-to-head with security companies such as Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro.

The OneCare update includes a single scanning engine that will detect viruses as well as spyware, increasing the efficiency and protection delivered by the tool, according to Microsoft. Other enhancements will make PC security and maintenance simpler, the company said in a statement.

Also, this release of OneCare will be the first to be sold outside the U.S. It will also be available in Australia, Japan, Mexico and Singapore, among other countries, according to Microsoft.

OneCare is priced at $49.95 a year for use on up to three PCs. International pricing will be similar, Microsoft said. Retailers often offer significant discounts, however. In the U.S., Amazon.com has sold OneCare for as low as $19.99.

Copyright ©1995-2007 CNET Networks, Inc. All rights reserved.

January 23, 2007 at 5:19 pm 2 comments

MySpace sues Spam King – Scott Richter

Originally posted by Dan Goodin.

MySpace.com has sued self-proclaimed spam king Scott Richter for allegedly using compromised user accounts to send millions unsolicited ads touting ringtones, polo shirts among other things. We were surprised – nay shocked – when we heard the identity of the defendant. We’ve heard neither hide nor hair from Mr. Richter since August, 2005, when he agreed to pay Microsoft $7m to settle an antispam lawsuit.

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Richter – regarded at the time as one of the top three purveyors of junk mail – was even able to get his marketing outfit, known as OptInRealBig.com, removed from the Register of Known Spam Operators after promising to uphold the most ethical of emailing practices.  In the Microsoft case, Richter stood accused of using a network of 500 compromised computers to clog the inboxes of millions of Hotmail users with artery-clogging messages. He ultimately mended his ways after his legal trouble, which also included a suit by Eliot Spitzer, then-attorney general of New York, pushed him to the brink of bankruptcy.According to MySpace, Richter and his associates gained access to user accounts, either by employing phishing techniques or by acquiring the list from phishers. MySpace is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a permanent injunction forbidding Richter and any companies associated with him from entering the MySpace site. We were unable to locate Mr. Richter for comment.

MySpace has grown increasingly vigilant over the past couple of years in policing its site. It has obtained at least two settlements against people who used MySpace as part of a spam campaign. It has also sued The Globe for spamming MySpace users. But the social networking site has been accused of its own misdeeds, most recently last week a suit filed on behalf of four US families alleged MySpace didn’t act quickly enough in protecting underage users from adult predators.

January 23, 2007 at 12:33 am 1 comment

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