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Windows 7 Mainstream Support Ends Today

Today means the end of free support for Windows 7. While this isn’t the end of the world, if you’re looking for free support for Windows 7 directly from Microsoft, you are now out of luck (although, myself and many others offer our assistance in the Microsoft Answers forums for consumers and Technet forums for IT Pro’s). Microsoft will continue to support Windows 7 with it’s Extended Support, which will offer patches and updates until 2020 when it reaches it’s end of life, similar to the recent Windows XP end of life.

Win7 Support

Microsoft Comments on Google Disclosure of Windows Flaw

Microsoft has blogged about a call for a better Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure in response to the recent Google fiasco (Google released information of a Windows flaw to the public before Microsoft had released a patch). I think there are times when open communication between even the biggest competitors is necessary, and security is one of those times. If you tarnish the security reputation of one product, consumer’s will view other products with a similar distrust.

Those in favor of full, public disclosure believe that this method pushes software vendors to fix vulnerabilities more quickly and makes customers develop and take actions to protect themselves. We disagree. Releasing information absent context or a stated path to further protections, unduly pressures an already complicated technical environment. It is necessary to fully assess the potential vulnerability, design and evaluate against the broader threat landscape, and issue a “fix” before it is disclosed to the public, including those who would use the vulnerability to orchestrate an attack. We are in this latter camp.

Microsoft Releases EEO Information

Microsoft has released their Equal Employment Opportunity information showing the breakdown of minorities and woman in their ranks. While I’d love to see women and minorities rank higher, I would much rather see hiring practices show that they hired the best person for the job – through experience, education and knowledge.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella released diversity statistics on Microsoft, to make good on a promise Nadella made to Reverend Jesse Jackson to release the company’s EEO-1 (Equal Opportunity form which breaks down race, ethnicity and gender of workforces by job classification) on December 3rd, 2014. Microsoft released a report saying women made up 29% of Microsoft, but civil rights activists pushed the company to release the EE0-1, which contains more accurate information.

Microsoft Hasn’t Forgotten About Windows Phone

For those of us with Windows Phones, we sometimes feel left out. Not only from certain app’s, but from support from Microsoft themselves. Joe Belfiore has tried to reassure fans that Microsoft is not ignoring Windows Phone users, and there is a bright future ahead. I tend to agree with Paul Thurrott here –

Don’t live in China? Then you’ll thrill to learn that Microsoft is also working hard to improve Windows Phone … specifically for China. That stuff will be revealed in the coming months and … whatever.

I assume and hope that Belfiore is simply trying to keep a lid on what Microsoft will announce later this month and that 2015 will be nothing like 2014. But as a long-suffering Windows Phone fan, I’ve received precious little good news this past year. I do understand the need to attract the next billion. But let’s not actually forget about your current users and biggest fans in the process, Microsoft. Please.

Track Santa with Microsoft and NORAD

Get in the holiday spirit this year and track Santa Claus with Microsoft and NORAD. The site is optimized for use with Internet Explorer, and offers a real time tracking system for the big guy in red. Desktop and mobile apps are available, as are fun coloring pages and games.

The NORAD Tracks Santa website features a beautiful, inviting landscape in the classic “Claymation” holiday style. The experience is optimized for touch, from the rotatable globe to the parallax-style navigation to the brand new games. On December 24th, when Santa’s journey begins, you will be able to track him on an interactive, 3D globe – featuring a Bing Maps overlay. Additionally, at every stop along the way, users will be able to click off to a specially-curated Bing results page – to get fun facts and beautiful imagery for each location.

Microsoft Cuts Out Clip Art

Microsoft Office will no longer use it’s built in clip art. Instead, they are moving to Bing Image search using images that are under the Creative Commons licensing. Good news for most, as you get a much larger collection of high quality images.

The Office.com Clip Art and image library has closed shop. Customers can still add images to their documents, presentations, and other files that they have saved to their devices (phones, tablets, and PCs), OneDrive, and SharePoint.  Customers also still have the ability to add images to their documents using Bing Image Search.

Microsoft and Dropbox Partnership

Microsoft has partnered with online storage service Dropbox. This will allow Dropbox users easier access to documents and storage with Microsoft Office products, most importantly Microsoft Office. This should help make life a bit easier for Office users and Dropbox users.

The deal has four main parts: Quickly editing Office docs from the Dropbox mobile app, accessing Dropbox docs from Office apps, sharing Dropbox links of Office apps, and the creation of first-party Dropbox apps for Microsoft’s mobile offerings.

Microsoft Stops Selling Windows 7 & 8

If you were in the market for a new PC with Windows 7, you might be out of luck. Microsoft is no longer selling OEM licenses for Windows 7, and no longer selling Windows 8 in the retail box. Windows 8.1 is the big client OS on the scene now. So, if you were looking to stay with an older OS, your time may be up.

There will be retail box sales of Windows 8.1 (Microsoft draws a hard line between Windows 8 and Windows 8.1) and businesses and consumers will still be able to buy Windows 7 Professional licences through ‘Downgrade Rights’, but it will come at additional cost and have limited availability.

Windows 8 About to Bypass Windows XP in Market Share

Windows XP is set to drop below the market share for Windows 8. There are a lot of hold outs still running Windows XP & Windows 7, but Windows 8/8.1 is still gaining market share and is going to be overtaking the long lived XP very soon. Oddly enough, Linux is still very low – even below Vista or Windows NT. Of course, this could be the year of the Linux desktop!

Finally, Windows 7 remains the clear market leader with 53.05 percent of the market. There’s also the “other” category of operating systems that didn’t make the graph. These include Windows Vista (2.82 percent), Windows NT (1.64 percent), Linux (1.41 percent), and Mac OS X 10.10 (1.18 percent). All the numbers are based on tracking visits to websites.

New Microsoft Band Watch Announced

Microsoft has announced it’s new smart watch, the Microsoft Band. Still a bit bulky for everyday use for me, but when out walking or just out and about, it’d be excellent. Although, the other features would make me want to wear it more often. Lots of excellent features that are cross compatible with Windows Phone, Android and Apple’s iOS. Cost is $199. I may end up picking one of these up soon.

Microsoft Band, the first device powered by Microsoft Health, helps you achieve your wellness goals by tracking your heart rate, steps, calorie burn, and sleep quality. It also helps you be more productive with email previews and calendar alerts – right on your wrist.