Windows 10 Enterprise updates turn consumers into guinea pigs

Windows 10 Enterprise updates turn consumers into guinea pigs

In a video presentation, Microsoft outlined its plans for Windows 10 as a service to business customers. We had already learned that Microsoft will give more flexibility to IT managers, giving them the ability to place their users on different branches to receive Windows updates, and now we have more details on the update process and how updates will become available to enterprise customers.

The three options available to Windows 10 enterprise customers are Current Branch (CB), Current Branch for Business (CBB), and Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB), with each branch receiving updates differently. Customers will be profiled and placed into the appropriate branch by their IT managers. CB will be available to both enterprise and consumer users, while CBB and LTSB are are strictly for enterprise.

The update process

Once updates are ready, they’ll be pushed out to CB users first to ensure that the rollout is smooth before Microsoft makes them available to CBB and LTSB users. At the enterprise level, CBB users will have up to eight months to install the update through Windows Update or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), while LTSB users can delay the update for up to 10 years.

This update process means that CB users will have access to new features and patches sooner than customers on LTSB and CBB. The downside is that they’ll also be part of a late-stage testing process to ensure that the update doesn’t break any apps or existing functionality and that the process goes smoothly.

If something goes wrong, Microsoft will learn from the experiences of CB users to make the appropriate fixes or changes before rolling the update out to CBB or LTSB customers. This helps to ensure that enterprise customers won’t get a faulty update that disrupts their workflow, resulting in lost productivity or revenue.

The update process begins, according to Helen Harmetz, Microsoft Senior Product Manager, with Microsoft building or creating the OS update.

The update goes through internal validation, and then gets pushed out to limited and broad test flights. If all goes well, the update will be available to Current Branch users. Once the update is declared business-ready, it will be available to IT managers to push out to their users on CBB or LTSB.

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it

Enterprise users on LTSB will likely get the least amount of updates or new features. In fact, Microsoft encourages IT managers to place most of their users on CB or CBB, with LTSB reserved for mission critical work.

Describing the update experience from one LTSB branch to the next, Harmetz says that it is very similar to Windows 7 SP1. Windows 10 LTSB customers will have an in-place upgrade experience to move from one release to the next version, and IT managers can choose to skip an update if they want to.

From a prior leak, we also know that IT managers can delay the deployment of new features to LTSB users for up to ten years, and that the new Microsoft Edge browser will not be available to enterprise users on this branch.

Because of the absence of Edge, Harmetz says that Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) investments for enterprise is ongoing, but she did not provide additional information in her presentation.

LTSB should be reserved for customers working in areas where stability is valued. Interestingly, Microsoft will also make a refreshed LTSB image every few years with new features baked in. Users can install the new image if their administrators permit them.

Keeping current

On the opposite end of the spectrum from LTSB is Current Branch, or CB. This branch is probably the largest update branch for Windows 10 customers as it’s available to all consumers running Microsoft’s OS, which will debut on July 29 as Windows Home and Windows Professional.

CB users will get their updates first as part of Microsoft’s defined update strategy. They’ll receive security patches, new features and bug fixes before LTSB and CBB users. However, the cost to being early is that if the update isn’t stable, CB users will have to go through the growing pains with Microsoft.

In effect, CB users are late-stage beta testers. If something goes wrong, Microsoft will learn from the experience and fix the problems before the updates are deployed for business customers.

The middle ground

Somewhere in the middle of immediate updates available to CB customers and delays of up to 10 years for LTSB customers is CBB. CBB customers will have about eight months to deploy Windows Update after Microsoft makes it available to business branches.

Professional, Education and Enterprise customers on Windows 10 in CBB will get new features on Windows Update four months after they’re declared business-ready. Enterprise customers on Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) will have eight months to install the updates.

If IT managers cannot deploy the update within the timeframe, they won’t be able to install future updates or security patches. In this event, IT managers will have to switch to LTSB and perform an in-place upgrade. Likely, the enforcement will help Microsoft defragment the Windows 10 ecosystem and ensure that users are protected from attacks with the most up-to-date security fixes.

Windows 10 requirements for enterprise

Microsoft promises that Windows 10 will work on systems that are compatible with Windows 7, and that’s the minimum hardware requirement needed to upgrade.

To upgrade, there will be two paths provided to IT managers. A full wipe and load will allow systems to start fresh with a clean install of Windows 10. There will also be in-place upgrades available to migrate Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 customers to Windows 10 in the event that a full wipe is not needed or desired.

Additionally, for customers who rely on Windows Store apps – also referred to as Metro apps or Modern UI apps for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users – Microsoft guarantees app compatibility moving forward to Windows 10.

When we learned that Edge won’t arrive for LTSB customers, there was speculation that fragmentation may occur with compatibility of Store apps on Windows 10, but it looks like Microsoft is laying to rest those concerns.

Even though Windows 10 Home and Pro versions will be available on July 29, Microsoft has not announced when Windows 10 Enterprise will be available

Delhi Delhi Hailing Uber, Ola Cabs to Impound Them on Arrival

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In a bid to beat banned app-based taxi services including Uber at their own game, Delhi Traffic Police has asked its officials to download their respective apps and book cabs so as to fine the driver and impound the car when it arrives.In the last 24 hours, the department has fined 158 cabs and impounded 120 of them in the city.

“In order to effectively enforce the ban on these services, we have asked all our Traffic Inspectors (TIs) to download the mobile app, book a taxi and when it arrives [fine the driver]. The offending vehicle will also be impounded and a letter will be written to Transport Department to cancel the permit of the vehicle,” said Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chander.

Liability of the company (Uber, Ola or TaxiForSure) will also be fixed under sections 93(1), 193 and 199 MV Act.

A report will be made and sent to court against the company apart from fining the driver, he added.

Traffic Police is also requesting the Transport Department to initiate action under Section 188 of IPC against company executives for not obeying the government directions.

The Transport Department of Delhi had banned app-based taxi services Uber, Ola, and TaxiForSure from operating their services on December 8, 2014, police said.

They were banned in the national capital following the rape of a financial consultant allegedly by a cab driver working in partnership with Uber in December last year.

The government has also issued directions for blocking the website and mobile app of these services. But still these taxi services continue to operate in Delhi clandestinely.

Russia warns Google, Twitter and Facebook on law violations

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Russia’s media watchdog has written to Google, Twitter and Facebook warning them against violating Russian Internet laws and a spokesman said on Thursday they risk being blocked if they do not comply with the rules.Roskomnadzor said it had sent letters this week to the three U.S.-based Internet firms asking them to comply with Internet laws which critics of President Vladimir Putin have decried as censorship.

“In our letters we regularly remind (companies) of the consequences of violating the legislation,” said Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky.

He added that, because of the encryption technology used by the three firms, Russia had no way of blocking specific websites and so could only bring down particular content it deemed in violation of law by blocking access to their whole services.

To comply with the law, the three firms must hand over data on Russian bloggers with more than 3,000 readers per day, and take down websites that Roskomnadzor sees as containing calls for “unsanctioned protests and unrest”, Ampelonsky said.

Putin, a former KGB spy, once described the Internet as a project of the CIA, highlighting deep distrust between Moscow and Washington, whose ties are now badly strained.

He promised late last year not to put the Internet under full government control, but Kremlin critics see the Internet laws as part of a crackdown on freedom of speech since Putin returned to the Kremlin for a third term in 2012.

A law passed last year gives Russian prosecutors the right to block without a court decision websites with information about protests that have not been sanctioned by authorities.

Under other legislation, bloggers with large followings must go through an official registration procedure and have their identities confirmed by a government agency.

Facebook says it responds to government data requests about its users that comply with company policies and local laws and meet international standards of legal process.

A company website that publishes statistics on how Facebook handles data requests shows it rejected both of two Russian government requests for information on its users last year. In contrast, it produced some data in response to nearly 80 percent of over 14,000 requests made by U.S. courts, police and government agencies in the second six months of 2014.

Twitter had a similar response rate in the United States but rejected 108 Russian government requests in the second half of last year, according to data on the company’s government Transparency Report site.

In its semi-annual Transparency Report, Google said it provided some information on users in response to 5 percent of 134 Russian government requests made in the second half of 2014 — again far less than in the United States. The company says it complies with requests that follow accepted legal procedures and Google policies.

“We realise they are registered under U.S. jurisdiction. But I think in this case they should demonstrate equal respect to national legislation,” Ampelonsky said.

If the companies do not pay more attention to Russian government requests for data, he added, “we will need to apply sanctions”.

Major Tourist Spots to Get Free Wi-Fi Facility Soon

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The government would soon provide Wi-Fi facilities at all major tourist spots across India, Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in New Delhi on Thursday.”Taj Mahal, Sarnath, Bodh Gaya are some of the places that will get a Wi-Fi facility soon. We have already started providing free Wi-Fi service at Varanasi ghats. The government has also started the facility of providing e-visa to tourists,” Prasad said New Delhi at the ‘Manthan conclave’ organised by Aaj Tak.

He said his ministry has formulated a new policy to make tier II and III cities as IT hubs.

“We are setting up call centres and BPOs at small towns and creating 48,000 jobs in the first phase. We will give subsidy to take IT revolution to smaller towns,” he added.

“E-commerce is a big opportunity and we are roping in the Department of Posts to deliver goods to small towns and villages. Postal department has become a reliable partner for big e-commerce companies to deliver their goods,” the minister added.

Talking about the Modi government’s focus on digital India that aims to bridge the gap between haves and have-nots by using telecom and IT as a tool, Prasad said India would soon have 100 crore mobile subscribers, while within two years Internet connections would grow from 30 crores to 50 crores.

“We are connecting 250,000 village panchayats with broadband and opening common service centres at remote locations to provide services and government facilities at the doorsteps of citizens,” Prasad said.

Narendra Modi ‘Scores Big Hit’ With Weibo Account, Says Chinese State Media

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China’s official media on Tuesday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative to open an account on the popular Chinese social micro-blog Weibo, saying he scored a “big hit” ahead of his visit to China next week.”Modi scores big hit with micro blog in run-up to visit,” read the headline in the state-run English language China Daily, while another official newspaper Global Times headline says ‘Modi debuts on Weibo ahead of state visit to China’.

The China Daily said Modi’s account on the Sina Weibo, akin to Twitter and Facebook, “attracted thousands of Internet users”.

Modi, who is scheduled to start his three-day visit to China from May 14, posted his first post in Chinese, saying “Hello China! Looking forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo.”

His post was immediately forwarded more than 4,700 times and attracted over 7,800 comments within three hours, it said.

Some welcomed Modi’s “positive gesture”, while many others raised issues that have posed obstacles to ties between the two countries for decades, it said.

One post read: “I suggest improving the social status of Indian women and protecting the safety of females! Or we foreign women will not dare travel to India.” The post attracted more than 700 “likes”, the report said.

It is not the first time that a foreign leader has opened a micro-blog account before making an official trip to China.

In September 2013, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro opened a micro-blog account before visiting China, it said.

Over 200 leaders of foreign countries and international organisations, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, had opened micro-blog accounts as of April last year, it said.

It quoted Le Yucheng, the Chinese ambassador to India, as saying that Modi will have the chance to communicate with China’s business people, young students and the public during his visit.

The Global Times said Modi has been welcomed by Chinese Internet users with his first post, getting more than 14,217 hits and 26,406 followers as of press time.

More than 10,000 internet users commented on his first post as of press time, it said.

“Aside from expressing curiosity on who runs this account for Modi, some Net users made references to territorial disputes between the two countries,” it said.

Apple Pressuring Music Labels to Ditch Spotify’s Freemium Model

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Apple’s much-anticipated Beats music streaming service is said to be only weeks away from launch. However, reports have now surfaced that the Cupertino-based giant has been using its considerable clout in the music industry to make labels force Spotify and other competing streaming services to discontinue their ‘freemium’ service models. This would dramatically reduce competition for Apple’s service, since a vast majority of streaming users are on the freemium tier. It is expected that most of these users would switch over to the Beats service if forced to pay.According to a report by The Verge, the United States Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are investigating these allegations and Apple’s business practices ahead of the launch of the service. DoJ officials have already interviewed top music industry executives in relation to this matter, while the FTC is expected to take the lead in the investigations going forward. Apart from the US DoJ and FTC, the European Union Competition Commission is also investigation similar allegations.

The prime targets of Apple’s actions are Spotify and YouTube, which both offer users a freemium option to stream music. The user pays nothing for the service, but is instead pushed advertising which generates revenue for the services. Apple has been using its influence to force labels to not renew Spotify’s licenses to stream music on its free tier, and has even reportedly offered to pay Universal Music Group an amount equivalent to YouTube’s music licensing fee. The Verge report quotes a source in the music industry to say “All the way up to Tim Cook, these guys are cutthroat.”

The report points out that Spotify has a total of 60 million users, of which only 15 million are paying subscribers. If this large chunk is forced away from the free service, it is likely to opt for Apple’s Beats service.

Apple must definitely be working on securing a large amount of exclusive content for its streaming service, and the removal of competition may drive a lot of users its way. However, such practices are against the principles of healthy competition, and are monopolistic in nature. Furthermore, the elimination of the freemium model is against the interests of a vast majority of consumers.

This news comes shortly after the closure of Grooveshark, an early pioneer in the streaming industry that was forced to shut shop after running into legal trouble. If corrective measures are not taken, this could indicate the start of a massive shake-up in the rapidly growing streaming industry that could affect users negatively.

Internet.org Traffic to be Unencrypted; Privacy and Security Take Backseat

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New information has come to light about Facebook’s Internet.org initiative following the company’s announcement of an open platform for Web develpers. Internet.org, which gives users the ability to use specific approved Web services without incurring cellular data charges, will impose a number of restrictions on what exactly developers will be allowed to do, and Facebook will retain the power to approve and reject services. Most notably, SSL/TLS/HTTPS encryption, which is the backbone of Internet security, is explicitly disallowed at present.

Internet.org functions by passing all traffic through a proxy service, which the company says allows it to “create a standard traffic flow so that operators can properly identify and zero rate” traffic. HTTPS traffic cannot be detected and routed this way. This means unencrypted traffic will pass through Facebook-controlled servers, raising potential privacy and security concerns.

As first spotted by Medianama, the terms and conditions listed by Facebook for developers who want to participate in the platform specify that traffic will be subject to Facebook’s data retention policies. The terms and conditions that users and developers must agree to also allow the company to analyse usage and even share that information with mobile operators. The Verge points out that banking, private messaging and other applications that depend on encryption would have to steer clear of Internet.org.

Additionally, anything that pushes bandwidth requirements, including video and downloadable files, will be rejected. Photos must be low-resolution and not larger than 1MB. JavaScript, Flash and Java applets, iframes and certain file types are also disallowed.

Facebook’s technical documentation states that support for SSL/TLS will be implemented within an Android app, and that the company is “investigating ways that we could provide the same security for web-based access to Internet.org”. Content that requires encryption will not be available through Internet.org till then.

Net neutrality concerns remain, as developers and content providers would be forced to sign on in order not to lose customers. Medianama also raises the issue of Facebook becoming more powerful as the source of all content that users see, since there will effectively be a penalty in moving from the Internet.org ecosystem to the open Web.

In February this year, Facebook announced the launch of Internet.org in India as a partnership with Reliance Communications. The move was met by swift negative reactions over its potential to fracture the Internet by creating a pool of preferred websites and services which would not cost users money to access, giving them a massive advantage over competitors. The backlash caused partners to withdraw on principle. Facebook has since denied that Internet.org is a threat to net neutrality.

Google+ Collections Takes On Pinterest; Now Rolling Out to Android and Web

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Google has launched a Pinterest-like ‘Collections’ feature for Google+ that lets users create specific posts centred around topics and comprising videos, photos, and more.Announcing the news via a Google+ post, Google confirmed that Collections is now available on Android and the Web, and will arrive later on iOS. The post said, “Our happiest Google+ users are those who connect with others around shared interests and passions. So we set out to give people a place to express the things they love. Today, we’re announcing Google+ Collections, a new way to group your posts by topic.”

Google stresses that Collections is a set of posts on a particular topic that provides “an easy way for you to organise all the things you’re into.” Google+ users can share a Collection publicly, keep it private, or share with a limited number of people.

“Once you create your first collection, your profile will display a new tab where other people can find and follow your collections,” adds the Google+ post introducing the feature. Of course, Google+ Collections will also allow users to follow collections from different people.

featured_collections_screenshot.jpg“Posts in collections you follow will appear in your Home stream, with a link to easily jump right into the collection so you can get to similar content from that author. Collections give you a great way to find more of the stuff you love from the people you follow,” notes Google+ post.

To create a Collection on PC, a Google+ user will have to select the Collections option on the Google+ profile homepage to create a new one. Enter a name for the new Collection and choose who it should be visible to. Google+ users can also create a new Collection on Android app in the same way.

Google+ Collections support page notes that users cannot change collection’s visibility setting after creating it. Some featured Google+ Collections have already gone live.

Game Over for Playing Video Games on Twitter

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Last week astute Twitter users discovered they could use the micro-blogging platform’s embed feature to take links from the Internet Archive’s gargantuan repository of MS-DOS games such as Street Fighter II (pictured above) and make them playable via tweets. It worked the same way video or image embeds did on Twitter.

However doing so is against its terms of service and after a slew of reports hit publicising the feature, Twitter has disabled the ability to embed games.

“Do not build end-to-end interactive experiences inside the video or audio player unrelated to Player Card content, such as the following: purchasing, gaming, polling, messaging, and data entry,” the social media platform says under “what the approval team looks for” in its developer notes.

While you have lost the ability to turn your timeline into a virtual museum of retro-gaming fun, you can always get your fix of nostalgia by visiting the Internet Archive.

The platform has had a rough week. Financial analytics firm Selerity leaked its poor earnings an hour before Twitter was to announce it on Wall Street, leading to a furthertumble in its stock price. While its acquisition of streaming service Periscope has led to users broadcasting bootleg streams of the big fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas.