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All’s clear to install Microsoft’s November patches

The November passel of patches didn’t include anything earth-shattering; there were no emergency security breaches storming the gates, but good patching hygiene dictates that you get your machine braced for the next round.

If you install patches manually one by one (“Group B,” which I don’t recommend for mere mortals), you need to make sure you have the proper Servicing Stack Updates in place. They’ve all changed in the past month.

For those of you manually installing Win7 and 8.1 (and related Server) Security-only patches to avoid Microsoft’s pernicious snooping/telemetry, I have good news. For November, we haven’t detected the full-monty telemetry packages that were lurking in the July and September “Security-only” updates. 

As usual, Patch Lady Susan Bradley has full patch-by-patch details in her Patch Watch column (paywall).

Update

Here’s how to get your system updated the (relatively) safe way.

Note: If you install any Office updates, you may start seeing spurious “Query xxx is corrupt” error messages that look like the screenshot.

query is corrupt 1 Woody Leonhard/IDG

Should those start appearing, realize that they’re caused by a bug in the latest Office patches. You’ll have to manually download and install a fix for the bad patch. Microsoft has a list of the buggy patches and their fixes on the Office Support site.

Step 1. Make a full system image backup before you install the latest patches.

There’s a non-zero chance that the patches — even the latest, greatest patches of patches of patches — will hose your machine. Best to have a backup that you can reinstall even if your machine refuses to boot. This, in addition to the usual need for System Restore points.

There are plenty of full-image backup products, including at least two good free ones: Macrium Reflect Free and EaseUS Todo Backup. For Win7 users, If you aren’t making backups regularly, take a look at this thread started by Cybertooth for details. You have good options, both free and not-so-free.

Step 2. For Win7 and 8.1

Microsoft is blocking updates to Windows 7 and 8.1 on recent computers. If you are running Windows 7 or 8.1 on a PC that’s 24 months old or newer, follow the instructions in AKB 2000006 or @MrBrian’s summary of @radosuaf’s method to make sure you can use Windows Update to get updates applied.

If you’ve been relying on the Security-only “Group B” patching approach to keep Microsoft’s snooping software off your PC, this month you’re in luck — we haven’t detected a repeat of the full telemetry packages hidden in the July and September patches. That means you can install the June, August, October and November patches without covering Microsoft’s messy tracks.

For most Windows 7 and 8.1 users, I recommend following AKB 2000004: How to apply the Win7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollups. You should have one Windows patch, dated November 12 (the Patch Tuesday patch). 

Realize that some or all of the expected patches for November may not show up or, if they do show up, may not be checked. DON’T CHECK any unchecked patches. Unless you’re very sure of yourself, DON’T GO LOOKING for additional patches. In particular, if you install the November Monthly Rollup, you won’t need (and probably won’t see) the concomitant patches for October. Don’t mess with Mother Microsoft.

If you see KB 4493132, the “Get Windows 10” nag patch, make sure it’s unchecked.

Watch out for driver updates — you’re far better off getting them from a manufacturer’s website.

After you’ve installed the latest Monthly Rollup, if you’re intent on minimizing Microsoft’s snooping, run through the steps in AKB 2000007: Turning off the worst Win7 and 8.1 snooping. If you want to thoroughly cut out the telemetry, see @abbodi86’s detailed instructions in AKB 2000012: How To Neutralize Telemetry and Sustain Windows 7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollup Model.

If you’re worried about Windows 7 hitting end-of-support in January, don’t be alarmed. About a quarter of all Windows users will hit the end-of-support date, just like you. Win7 won’t suddenly stop working on Jan. 14, 2020. You have many options — and not all of them end with Windows. We follow the alternatives intently in the Seven Semper Fi series on AskWoody.

Step 3. For Windows 10 prior to version 1903

If you’re running Win10 version 1803, the November cumulative update is your last. You need to move on — but not necessarily in the direction Microsoft is pushing you. I have a full discussion of your options and step-by-step instructions for getting to the version that you want in Running Win10 version 1803 or 1809? You have options. Here’s how to control your upgrade.

If you’re using Win10 version 1809 — my production machines are still on 1809 — you should start thinking about moving to 1903. Microsoft has issued rivers of patches for 1903 in recent months, and 1903 may be approaching some semblance of stability. I’m going to take a close look at the December patches before jumping ship, and suggest you do as well.

Once you’re running the version of Win10 that you want — there’s no reason to install patches until you’re running the right version — and you have Win10 Pro (or Education or Enterprise), you can follow my advice from February and set “quality update” (cumulative update) deferrals to 15 days, per the screenshot. If you have quality updates set to 15 days, your machine already updated itself on Nov. 27 and will update again on Christmas Day. 

1809 sac 300 15 1 Woody Leonhard/IDG

If you’re stuck with Win10 1803 or 1809 Home, it’s time to move to version 1903 (or even 1909). The potential disruption of a version change is worth that one key new feature — probably the single best new feature ever introduced in Windows 10 — which allows you to defer updates, giving Microsoft a chance to test its patches before they roll onto your system. See Running Win10 version 1803 or 1809? You have options. Here’s how to control your upgrade for full details.

Step 4. For Windows 10 version 1903 and 1909

Windows Update in Win10 version 1903 went through a major makeover in September — the documentation didn’t change, but the behavior did. The result is a major step forward in Windows 10 patching.

You may find that you can tell Win10 to delay quality updates by 15 days, as shown in the preceding screenshot, but you have a much simpler tool at your disposal.

If you’re on Win10 version 1903 or 1909 (either Home or Pro), click the link on the Windows Update page that says “Pause updates for 7 days,” then click on the newly revealed link, which says “Pause updates for 7 more days,” then click it again.

1903 pause 7 days 3 Woody Leonhard/IDG

By clicking that link three times, you’ll defer cumulative updates for 21 days from the day you started clicking — if you do it today, you’ll be protected until Dec. 26 — which is typically long enough for Microsoft to work out the worst bugs in their patches.

There are several group policies and a handful of registry settings working in the background when you click Pause updates. You may even be able to see the settings if you’re using Win10 Pro. But the “Pause updates” approach has proven itself to work reliably for everybody, 1903 or 1909, Pro or Home. Use it.

If you see an offer of an Optional update (screenshot), don’t click Download and install now. Even more bugs await.

1903 optional updates available Woody Leonhard/IDG

The December updates should appear next week. Realize that a large percentage of experienced Windows devs take vacations through much (or all!) of December. Expect the December patches to be minimal and — cross your fingers — relatively benign.

Thanks to the dozens of volunteers on AskWoody who contribute mightily, especially @sb, @PKCano, @abbodi86 and many others.

We’ve moved to MS-DEFCON 4 on the AskWoody Lounge.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Pantone Announces its Color of 2020

Each year, at this time, Pantone nominates a color — or colors, in the case of 2016 — to represent humanity’s hopes and aspirations for the coming year.

At least, that is what its PR department sends out. In reality, it’s a rather obvious — if highly effective — marketing gimmick to keep the print-design company relevant to design news year-on-year. It’s an arbitrary bit of self-promotion, that does an excellent job of reinforcing Pantone’s position as an authority on color.

This year, Pantone has selected Pantone 19-4052, or “Classic Blue” to give it its colloquial name. It’s described by Pantone as: “Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”

pantone_classic_blue

Critically speaking, it’s one of the most mis-judged decisions in the short history of this promotion, and significantly mis-reads the zeitgeist.

At a time when the climate is approaching — or may have passed — irreversible breakdown; when global political debate is moving out of our institutions and onto the streets; when the baby-boomer generation is slowly losing its grip on the reins, and millennials are realizing they’ve reached middle-age; Classic Blue is a color that harks back to a time when we hid our head in the sand and pretended everything was fine. It’s the color of the pre-2008 crash, the color of Facebook pre-privacy scandal, the brand color of your parents’ bank. Classic Blue is about as 2020 as Helvetica.

(There’s only one color that effectively represents 2020, and that’s Cyberpunk Pink, a neon hue that is both retro and forward-looking, cross-cultural, irreverent, and even better in dark mode.)



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10+ tips for better iPhone battery life

What can you do when you’re racing to the next meeting, desperate to use Wallet to catch your plane, or otherwise stuck on a long and winding road with no access to power for your iPhone? You can follow these tips…

Think about how you use your iPhone

Of course I realise that when you are using your iPhone you want to be able to do everything you possibly can do with it, but when you’re attempting to eke out a little more active battery life it makes sense to think about what you are using your device for and how to do so in a more energy efficient way.

That means that when battery life is important you should ration how many times you check your device, avoid watching video or playing processor-intensive (or any) games and send text messages rather than make voice calls. It takes more battery power to make a voice call than send a text.

Do you need to check social media right now?

Use Low Power Mode

The first step you should always take is Low Power Mode.

The easiest way to enable this is to swipe down from the top right side of your iPhone and then tap the Battery icon you should see there. This slightly dims the screen, limits background processes, slightly slows the processor and otherwise trims the energy demanded by your device in normal use.

You can also enable Low Power Mode in Settings>Battery>Low Power Mode.

NB: If the Battery icon does not appear in your Control Center, visit Settings>Control Center>Customise and enable Low Power Mode there.

Switch to Dark Mode

When you use your iPhone your display’s True Tone feature automatically adjusts display brightness to make colors appear consistent in different places.

The thing is, this also means your display will be brighter when used in bright places, such as when using it outside. The downside of which is that when your display is brighter you’ll be using more power to display what’s on it.

Recent tests suggest that there’s an appreciable difference in battery life if you use Dark Mode on your iPhone and with your apps. If you are trying to extend battery life, you should use Dark Mode, as even a one or two percent improvement means you’ll get more time between every charge.

NB: In Settings>Display & Brightness you can disable Automatic appearance and True Tone and set the brightness levels down as low as possible in order to conserve battery life.

Switch off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

I know this recommendation makes no sense if you are using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to get things done, but if you aren’t then you will see useful extension to your battery life if you simply switch Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth off.

You can do this in Settings, but the easiest way to do this is to summon Control Center and then long press either the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth icon until the network controls appear. Now you can switch one or both networking standards off.

Halt Motion and Dynamic Backgrounds

Low Power Mode should mitigate both of these features, but to be certain you aren’t wasting valuable energy on eye candy when you need to keep your iPhone working just a little bit longer, disable these:

Motion: Settings> Accessibility>Motion>Reduce Motion and toggle to on (green).

Dynamic Backgrounds: Settings>Wallpaper>Choose a New Wallpaper and select a static wallpaper from the ‘Stills’ section.

Turn off App Location Services

Lots of apps (more than you realize) seem to think they need to track your location in order to work. The thing is, all those little GPS interrogations and data harvesting of your location cost you energy, and you’re reading this article because you want to conserve energy – so disable App Location Services.

Open Settings>Privacy>Location Services and toggle this to off.

While you’re at it, why not take a moment to review which apps are currently accessing your location data. Do you use those apps often enough that you want to let them?

NB: You can also disable some system activities – scroll down the page at Settings>Privacy>Location Services and tap System Services. You can pretty safely disable Location-Based Apple Ads, Popular Near Me and iPhone Analytics without impacting your user experience. And while the power saving may be tiny, it may just be the tiny tweak of energy you need.

Use AirPlane Mode

Another way to disable Wi-FI, Bluetooth and your cellular connection is to use AirPlane Mode (Control Center, tap the plane icon).

If you want to continue using one of those features, you can switch them on again individually while remaining in AirPlane mode.

Perhaps you want to keep Wi-Fi active but don’t need calls or Bluetooth, for example. Just jump into Control Center and reenable the networking activity you need or leave them all off for significantly improved battery life in order to keep working on that document or whatever.

Switch it off

Sleeping? Unless you really expect to receive a call or utterly rely on your iPhone for your morning alarm call, why not switch off your device? If you sleep for eight hours that will save you approximately one-third of your daily charge.

(Don’t forget, your device uses energy to launch again, so if you’re really slim on power you may be unable to wake it up once you switch it off).

Stop Siri listening – disable ‘Hey Siri’

When you activate Siri (even by accident) it uses a little energy to wake up, listen to you, and then consult the Siri servers for a response (unless it knows the answer on your device).

One way to prevent this is to open Settings>General>Siri and toggle the ‘Hey Siri’ command to Off. You will still be able to summon Siri by tapping the Home (iPhone 8 and earlier) or Side (iPhone X or later) buttons.

Check your battery hogs

Some apps are more addictive than others. By the same token, some apps use more energy than others. Open Settings>Battery and take a look at the Battery Usage by App section.

This shows you which of your apps are using the most energy. In my case I’ve frequently found WhatsApp, Mail and social media to be greedy for my battery power.

When I need to tweak those extra precious moments of battery life I’ve been known to disable the background app activity for the most energy consuming apps, or simply switched on Low Power Mode which has the same effect.

NB: At one time Facebook was the least energy efficient app on my device, but that’s no longer a problem now I only access that service through a browser.

Plan before you go

Being prepared is the best defence.

One way to ensure you always have enough battery power for your device is to use an Apple battery iPhone case (or a third-party equivalent), or use an external battery pack (mophie is popular in the U.S.), carry a solar charging device and/or always ensure you have a power adapter and cable with you when you travel.

I hope these little tips help you get where you’re going without running out of power.

When you get there and charge your device up again, feel free to follow me on one of the social media links below, and if you have any other power-saving tips to share, do drop me a line and I’ll update this story. Travel well!

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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9 Best Type Foundries That Aren’t Google Fonts

Google Fonts might be the de facto first choice of many web designers, but there are many more web font options out there if you know where to look.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with Google Fonts. In fact, there are tons of reasons to use Google Fonts in your projects: they’re free to use, licensing is simplified, and they generally load pretty quickly on the web.

But what if you want to shake things up and give other options a try?

You can! The only problem is that there’s a bunch of them, which can make finding the right typeface for your project a tedious chore if you don’t know which ones to focus on.

If you’d rather not get lost down this rabbit hold while researching typography for your next project, I’ve collected 9 of the best type foundries for web designers here.

The list of type foundries below could’ve been much longer. There are some font designers coming up with really cool-looking typefaces these days. That said, I want to make this worth your while as you have little time to waste as it is.

So, you can expect each of these foundries to have the following:

  • Filtering and sorting so you can quickly find the typefaces that matches what you need;
  • A bountiful set of type resources;
  • A modern selection of typefaces — this means they’re mostly minimally designed serifs and sans serifs. Outlined type as well as hand-lettered nostalgic type are also accounted for;
  • Multilingual-friendly typefaces;
  • Reasonable prices.

Let’s hop right in…

 

1. Colophon Foundry

Colophon -- one of the best type foundries

Colophon Foundry has been in operation since 2009, right around the launch of the WOFF file format and general acceptance of web fonts. Unlike older foundries that often draw on their history in typesetting, Colophon’s designs reflect its modern beginnings.

Highlights:

  • There’s an impressive and expansive portfolio of multilingual typography to leverage;
  • Fonts can be previewed as white-on-black, black-on-white (Dark Mode!) and sometimes in other color combinations;
  • You can use the Google Chrome extension to test Colophon fonts on your website before buying.

 

2. Dalton Maag

Dalton Maag

Dalton Maag is an international typography studio that makes it easy to test out its already cost-effective library of fonts before you buy.

Highlights:

  • It has a great selection of modern and clean typography designs;
  • Many fonts have case studies you can peruse to see real world uses for them (and get inspiration for your project);
  • Most typefaces work with more than one alphabet (e.g. Latin, Cyrillic, Greek) and you can quickly see a preview of those glyphs by scrolling through the font sliders.

 

3. Emigre Fonts

Emigre Fonts

Emigre, Inc. is an award-winning company that’s been around since 1984 and was originally a visual communication and design magazine. Emigre Fonts was later founded and has received numerous accolades along the way.

Highlights:

  • It has a reasonably-sized collection of stylish fonts (there are less than a hundred as of writing this);
  • Fonts can be filtered by family, style, and language making it much easier to narrow your search;
  • Examples of their fonts can be seen everywhere, from the Type Specimens page to Emigre Magazine back issues.

 

4. Fontfabric

Fontfabric

Founded in 2008, Fontfabric has developed custom fonts for big-name brands like Nike while making its extensive library of fonts readily available for designers who want a premade font.

Highlights:

  • While users have to pay for most fonts, there’s a great selection of free fonts (or font intros) to work with, too;
  • Many of the premium fonts allow you to review the full glyph map, test the font with custom text, and see a relevant case study;
  • Good option for web designers building sites and apps for readers of Cyrillic alphabets (e.g. Russian, Bulgarian, Kazakh).

 

5. The League of Moveable Type

The League of Moveable Type

The League of Moveable Type isn’t like other foundries on this list. While you can design with their fonts, the open source nature of the project also makes this website a great place to hone your own typography design skills.

Highlights:

  • All fonts are 100% free to use;
  • For typography designers in training, the open source fonts provide a great base for learning and practice;
  • It’s a small collection, but you’ll find a good mix of font styles to play with.

 

6. Lucas Fonts

LucasFonts

Even with a small collection of fonts, LucasFonts has made a huge impression on the design community. That’s because type designer Luc de Groot is responsible for well-known Microsoft font families Calibri and Consolas, along with his own Thesis collection of fonts.

Highlights:

  • Although there are a few decorative, hand-drawn fonts here and there, most of the collection is classic in design;
  • You’ll find a great selection of fonts for news sites, magazines, and blogs;
  • The “In Use” page is a great source of inspiration if you need help placing fonts in the context of design.

 

7. Monotype

Monotype Fonts

Monotype is arguably one of the biggest rivals to Google Fonts, with over 10,000 fonts in its library and a sizable amount of resources that ensures it’s always on the cutting edge in terms of style and functionality.

Highlights:

  • Massive library of fonts — not just from Monotype, but from its subfoundries: Linotype, Bitstream, FontShop, and International Typeface Corporation;
  • New releases are often inspired by well-known and popular fonts from the Monotype collection;
  • Licensing fonts is a simple and easy process through MyFonts.

 

8. Paratype

Paratype

Paratype was founded in 1989 as a company called ParaGraph. The Paratype foundry was later broken off and launched in 1998 and has made a name for itself as a quality provider of multilingual type.

Highlights:

  • Among popular typefaces like PT Sans, Proxima, and Futura, you’ll find a huge selection of equally beautiful typography designs to work with;
  • Many of the fonts will give you a closer look at multilingual use cases;
  • There’s always a great selection of “Specials”, so look to those if you’re intimidated by the cost of full-priced fonts.

 

9. Sudtipos

Sudtipos

Sudtipos has been around since 2002, providing the world of design with high-quality type for advertising, packaging, and branding projects.

Highlights:

  • You’ll find serifs and sans serifs, though Sudtipos is overflowing with beautiful cursive and handwritten scripts;
  • There are no surprises when it comes to pricing — costs are published right away;
  • This collection is especially useful for designers that specialize in branding and advertising design.

 

Wrap-Up

Sure, Google might make it easy (and cheap) to try out different fonts for your web design projects. But what if there’s something specific you’re looking for that you just can’t seem to find in Google’s font repository?

If you look at the type foundries above, you’ll see why these companies are the best. They’re not producing the same old designs over and over again. They continue to innovate in the space and have produced libraries of fonts that web designers can use to build impressive websites, apps, branding, and more.



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Mozilla in trouble? 2018 revenue fell 20%, expenses exceed income for first time

Mozilla’s revenue in 2018 fell by nearly 20% compared to the year prior, and for the first time expenses outweighed income, the organization said in its annual financial report.

The nonprofit behind Firefox implied that the apparent downturn was misleading because of the comparison to record revenue of the year before. “2017 was an outlier, due in part to changes in the search revenue deal that was negotiated that year,” Mozilla said in the “State of Mozilla 2018” report published on its website.

Mozilla also asserted that the revenue decline would not affect its work. “Despite the year-over-year change, Mozilla remains in a strong financial position with cash reserves to support continued innovation, partnerships and diversification of the Firefox product lines,” the organization wrote.

Search deals remain Firefox’s financial lifeline

Most of the $451 million in revenue the Mozilla Foundation recognized in 2018 came from royalty payments, with the bulk of that produced by deals struck for Firefox’s default search spot. Mozilla Foundation is the nonprofit that in turn runs Mozilla Corp., the commercial organization that actually develops and maintains Firefox.

According to Mozilla’s 2018 financial statement released Nov. 21, the $451 million in overall revenue was $111 million less than in 2017, a plummet of 19.8%. The statement marked the first time Mozilla reported a year-over-year revenue decline in the 14 years that Computerworld has tracked the organization’s financial health.

Of total revenue, $430 million, or about 95%, came from royalty payments. As always with Mozilla’s revenue, the greatest portion of what the organization categorized as royalties came from search contracts. In 2018, those search deals accounted for 91% of all royalty revenue, Mozilla said, representing about $391 million. That was a whopping $110 million less than in 2017, a 22% decline. As with revenue, the search deal total was the first-ever search revenue slump in Mozilla’s history.

A recap of Mozilla’s search deals

Mozilla did not explain the massive decline in search revenue, other than the brief reference to 2017’s number and how it was an “outlier.”

In fact, the 2018 search revenue of $391 million was lower than the previous three years, not just 2017. (Search revenue was $410 million in 2015 and $473 in 2016.)

Not coincidentally, those years – 2015-2017 – were when Mozilla banked the millions paid to it by Yahoo. In late 2014, Yahoo and Mozilla inked a contract under which the former paid the latter $375 million annually for removing Google’s search engine from Firefox’s default and slipping Yahoo’s into its place.

But while the Mozilla-Yahoo deal was to run for five years, or until late this year, Mozilla had the right to skip out if Yahoo was sold. It was, to Verizon, which in mid-2017 completed a $4.5 billion acquisition of the former Internet giant. According to news reports, the new owner was required to pay Mozilla for the full length of the contract, or alternately, just the difference between Yahoo’s $375 million and whatever Mozilla got out of a new partner.

Late in 2017, Mozilla did, in fact, nullify the remaining years of the contract with Yahoo. Not surprisingly, it restored Google as the default search in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Thus, the latest financial statement, including the much lower search engine revenue figure, represented the first full year of the renewed deal with Google.

(Until September, Mozilla and the renamed Verizon, aka Oath, were locked in a lawsuit over that contract and the money allegedly owed to Mozilla. Three months ago, that suit was dismissed when the parties settled out of court. Terms of that settlement were not disclosed. If Mozilla received monies as part of that settlement, they may show up on its 2019 statement, which will be released next year around this time.)

Uh, oh…expenses top income

Total expenses for Mozilla’s 2018 ran to $451.5 million, or half a million more than all revenue. That was a first for the organization. The previous close calls were 2013 and 2014, when expenses came within $19 million and $12 million of revenue, respectively.

Most of Mozilla’s expenses – 62%, up two percentage points from the year before – were for software development, which climbed from $260 million to $278 million, a 7% increase. The sharpest increase on the expense side, however, was the 38% gain on the “other program services” line item, which went from $21 million (2017) to $33 million (2018).

Mozilla did cut some expenses during the year. The “branding and marketing” line item, for example – which climbed the most in 2017 – was cut almost 23%, from 2017’s $66 million to 2018’s $53 million. Advertising costs, presumably part of that branding line, fell by more than $12 million, for example.

And as Mozilla said in its status post, the organization “remains in a strong financial position with cash reserves (emphasis added).”

True. Mozilla appeared to on solid financial ground. Cash, cash equivalents and investments totaled $482 million, up $18 million from 2017. That rainy day fund could power Mozilla at its 2018 expense pace for 12 months, even if all revenue evaporated. At the rate of 2018’s shortfall – the half-million difference between expenses and income – Mozilla has around a millennium or so to look forward to.

Mozilla search revenue Mozilla

Mozilla’s search revenue – a subset of total revenue –  plunged by 22% in 2018, falling to $391 million. That was one of several firsts in the organization’s financial report.

The numbers omitted

As usual, some of the most important data about Firefox – which is equivalent to Mozilla, for all the organization’s ongoing caveats – was missing from the 2018 report. Specifically, details about Firefox’s usage, rather than financial, health.

Firefox, competitive only in the desktop browser market, dropped 1.4 percentage points of user share in 2018, according to analytics vendor Net Applications. Firefox ended the year accounting for approximately 9.6% of global browser activity, compared with 11% at the end of 2017. (In the 11 months of 2019, Firefox has slipped further, to 8.2%.)

Compared to Google’s Chrome, which led the browser rankings with a monstrous 67.2% share at the close of 2018 (and hit the same mark in November 2019 after some downs and ups), Firefox is a fragile thing endlessly on the edge of ruin. That thought must be tempered, of course, with the reality that Mozilla’s report comes from 11 months in the past and reviewed a year that the organization not only weathered but lived through almost all of the next without disappearing.

Share is important to all browsers because the applications are revenue generators for their makers in one way or another. Mozilla’s interest is particularly sharp because other major browser developers – Google, Microsoft and Apple – have numerous revenue streams. Mozilla relies on search almost exclusively.

The organization continued its search (yes, pun intended) for additional sources of financing. “We’re exploring paid and subscription service offerings as a complement to the free services we already provide,” Mozilla said in its 2018 state-of-itself report, referring to toe-in-water efforts like a paid VPN and still-free Lockwise password manager and breach notification service Monitor.

There was evidence of additional revenue growth in Mozilla’s annual dispatch. The line item “Subscription and advertising revenue,” new in the 2017 report, grew from $2.7 million that year to $5.4 million in 2018. But that latter amount was still a pittance in Mozilla’s scheme of things, smaller than, say, its interest and dividend income ($7.9 million).

But because of Mozilla’s addiction to search, its survival depends on Firefox being able to bring users to a search engine. In a world where Firefox continues to shed users, search providers logically will have decreasing interest in paying Mozilla for the browser’s default.

For all of Mozilla’s transparency – exhibited by the State of Mozilla – the organization did not directly address the decline in share or spell out concrete steps it might take or try in an effort to reverse the trend.

It should.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Throwback Thursday: Bank error in your favor, collect $100,000

It’s the late 1980s, and this pilot fish is working as a teller at small suburban bank with a few branches.

“Automation is catching on, but slowly,” says fish. “We have terminals to process deposits, withdrawals and money orders — but at the end of the day, the branch manager still takes our totals and enters them into a handwritten ledger.”

The terminals use a text-based menu for everything, but for some operations that require a manager’s approval — say, printing a cashier’s check — the manager must walk over, hold down an override key and type in a password to let the teller access the check-printing menu.

Fish notices that the console beeps now and then during the password process. But it doesn’t happen every time, and there’s no pattern he can detect.

So on a slow day, with no one in line, fish tries holding down the override key and pressing another key at random.

The terminal beeps.

“I go through the alphabet,” fish says. “On S, it doesn’t beep.

“I blink. Is the security system so brain-dead that it actually warns you when you’re mistyping the override password?”

He repeats the process. On SA, SB, SC and so on through the alphabet, there are beeps. But on SU, no beeps.

Fish already has a pretty good idea what the override password is. He goes to the check-printing screen, holds down the override key and types “SUPERVISOR.”

No beeps — and he’s in.

Then fish feeds an ordinary piece of paper (instead of a blank check) into the printer next to his terminal, and prints out a “check” for $100,000.

He shows it to his manager. Manager just grimaces and says, “Don’t do that again.”

Says fish, “I worked there for two years, and that password never changed.

“When I later became a sysadmin, I instituted strict password policies back when it was still common to have your username and password be the same. Whenever I got pushback — ‘Why are you being so difficult about passwords?’ — I’d tell the story of my $100,000 check, and ask how much they could afford to lose because of a lax password policy.

“That won the argument every time.”

You’ll never guess Sharky’s pA$$w0rd. Send me your true tales of IT life at [email protected]. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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MSI GL65 9SC Review & Rating

High-end gaming laptops have all the bells and whistles, but truth be told, you don’t need RGB keyboard lights to play or enjoy today’s games. MSI’s GL65 ($699 as tested) is a value-oriented gaming laptop that proves that in spades. This 15.6-inch rig’s hardware for the money is as good as it gets in late 2019, including a 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, a speedy Intel Core i5 quad-core processor, and a surprisingly roomy 512GB solid-state drive. The whole package is topped off by a bright full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) display, making the GL65 a stellar example of entry-level notebook gaming and our new Editors’ Choice among bargain gaming laptops.


A Value-Packed Cranker

The GL65 is hardly the only 15.6-inch gamer to retail for under a grand with a quad-core CPU and a 4GB GeForce GTX 1650, but it’s further under that mark than most. As a matter of fact, as I type this, the system I’m reviewing (model 9SC-004) is an unbeatable deal. A Lenovo Legion Y545 with comparable hardware rings up at $849 with only half the storage (256GB). The Dell G3 15 (3590) is in similar straits, costing $100 more than the MSI although that price buys you both a 128GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive. Another option is the Asus TUF Gaming FX505 series (a technology refresh of the TUF Gaming FX504G), but it’s also more expensive when outfitted with a comparable AMD Ryzen 7 3750H processor.

MSI GL65-01

Now, that pricing comparison focuses only on core specs, but key hardware is what matters most in the budget gaming world. (Features like RGB lighting, for instance, don’t actually do anything for gaming performance. Blasphemy, I know.) Given that we’re down to basics in this tier, saving $100 or more is nothing to sneeze at. It can buy two or more AAA-level game titles, a gaming peripheral or two, or almost a year’s subscription to Xbox GamePass.

Getting back to the GL65, its 2.4GHz Core i5-9300H processor is a quad-core, eight-thread part with a 45-watt thermal design power (TDP) rating, qualifying it as a chip worthy of a desktop-replacement notebook. Gaming laptops in the next pricing tier usually step up to the Core i7-9750H, a six-core, 12-thread chip that’s better suited to multitasking and livestreaming duties.

Graphics-wise, the MSI’s 4GB GeForce GTX 1650 is Nvidia’s bread-and-butter “Turing” offering for both laptops and desktops. More potent than the “Pascal” GTX 1050 it replaces, it’s generally comfortable playing games at 1080p resolution without compromising on image quality settings too much. (I’ll hone that statement a little further in the benchmarks section of this review.) The next step up for notebooks is a big one, to the 6GB GTX 1660 Ti, as there’s no middle-ground GTX 1660 as in the desktop world. The Ti is much faster than the GTX 1650, but you’ll almost certainly spend four figures for a laptop that has one.

The only hardware spec where the GL65 disappoints a little is its memory. The single 8GB DDR4-2666 stick in my review model is the minimum required by many AAA game titles. During my testing, I noticed some sluggishness while gaming and trying to do other tasks at the same time. It’s possible to inexpensively add a second 8GB DIMM to double the memory, or to upgrade the GL65 to 32GB via two 16GB DIMMs.

Patience and caution are required for such an operation, though. The bottom panel is held on by a dozen screws, and you’ll need a pry tool to undo all the plastic clips holding the chassis halves together. When taking the plastic halves apart, special care is needed to route the chassis port openings around the actual ports (especially the headphone and microphone jacks) to avoid damage. It’s not a process I’d care to undertake more than once.


You’ve Got That Gaming Feeling

The GL65 shares its basic design with MSI’s pricier GE65 Raider. The two even share dimensions, at 1.1 by 14.1 by 9.8 inches. Though on the thick side, this notebook is hardly chunky. Its display bezels are about as thin as you can get.

Visually, the GL65 dips into gamer cliché with its red-and-black color scheme. Most of the red comes from the keyboard backlighting, with only a few accents on the chassis. Despite the colors, the overall look of the machine is conventional, though the MSI gaming logo on the lid (which is passively backlit by the screen) means it won’t be mistaken for anything but a gaming laptop.

MSI GL65-05

Aluminum, which covers the GL65’s top and lid backing, is nice to see on a laptop at this price point. The Asus TUF Gaming FX505 and Dell G3 15 both make exclusive use of plastic. The rest of the MSI’s construction is plastic, keeping its heft in check; I weighed our review model at 4.6 pounds, although MSI’s official specifications say it’s supposed to be 5.1 pounds.


Put It in Red

The red-only keyboard backlighting is one of the ways this GL65 unit keeps costs down. (MSI sells upscale models in the GL65 line with per-key RGB backlighting.)

MSI GL65-02

The keyboard is familiar if you’ve used an MSI gaming notebook recently. The feel is rubbery but pleasant, with enough key travel for communicative feedback. Layout-wise, the left-side Windows key is missing, but the preinstalled MSI Dragon Center utility lets you swap its functionality with the Fn key to the right of the space bar. A dedicated button at the top right of the keyboard launches Dragon Center; next to it is the power button and another to engage maximum fan speed (which I never needed; see the cooling section later in this review).

MSI GL65-04

Speaking of software, note that the GL65’s keyboard, while it’s designed in conjunction with peripheral maker SteelSeries, isn’t compatible with the SteelSeries Engine app like the keyboards of some higher-end MSI notebooks. As such, it doesn’t support remapping keys or saving profiles.

Located left of center in the palm rest, the GL65’s touchpad is spacious enough. It’s marred only by its overly loud button clicks; I found myself tapping the pad to click to avoid the noise.

MSI GL65-03

Built-in biometric features are lacking on the GL65, a drawback it shares with many gaming notebooks. I point this out in reviews since non-gaming laptops that cost much less often include a fingerprint reader, face recognition webcam, or both. At least the GL65 measures up when it comes to its 720p webcam, which offers a reasonable picture in the right light. On the audible side of the spectrum, the MSI’s speakers are just so-so. While they have enough volume, their tinny sound and lack of bass will have you reaching for your headphones.


Bright and Full HD

The GL65’s display is everything a value-oriented gaming rig’s should be. Not only is its 1080p resolution just right for gameplay with the GeForce GTX 1650, but games are brought to life by its bright and colorful picture, wide viewing angles, and anti-glare surface.

The panel’s refresh rate is 60Hz, not the 144Hz (or even 240Hz) supported by deluxe gaming screens, but that’s not a biggie at this price. Outside of some less demanding esports titles, the GTX 1650 isn’t likely to push beyond 60 frames per second (fps) in modern games.


Port Locations Aren’t Ideal

The MSI’s ports are all located on its sides. This wouldn’t be a talking point if it weren’t that most them are too close to the front edge, which can be problematic if you plug in a device that sticks out and encroaches on external mouse space. The good selection almost makes up for the inconvenience, however. On the left, you’ll find an Ethernet jack; HDMI and mini DisplayPort video outputs; USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C ports; and separate headphone and microphone jacks…

MSI GL65-08

Meanwhile, the right edge is graced by two more USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a full-size SD card reader, and the power connector.

MSI GL65-07

The 150-watt AC adapter has a right-angle jack so it doesn’t stick out too far. For wireless communications, the GL65 offers 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.


Solid Entry-Level Performance

Now let’s see how far the GL65’s bargain hardware can carry it in our benchmark suite. I pitted the MSI against the following gaming laptops, most of which pack harder-hitting (and more expensive) components:

MSI GL65 (Config Chart)

The Acer Nitro 7, despite having the same basic hardware as the GL65, has a more premium build and features. Up the performance scale from there is the Lenovo Legion Y545, packing a 6GB GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU, followed by the Asus ROG Strix Scar III and Dell G7 15, each equipped with a 6GB GeForce RTX 2060. The MSI GL65 is, on paper, the least capable in the CPU department; its Core i5-9300H has two fewer cores than the Core i7 chips in the others.

CPU and Media Tests

We start with UL’s PCMark 10, a general productivity or system assessment benchmark. The GL65 was a little off the pace here, though still above the 4,000-point mark we expect from a high-performance machine.

MSI GL65 (PCMark)

Also included here is the PCMark 8 storage benchmark, which we use to evaluate the performance of the PC’s primary drive. The MSI and its 512GB PCIe SSD kept up just fine.

Getting back to CPU performance, the Cinebench R15 test uses all available cores and threads to render a complex image. With only four instead of six processing cores, the GL65 was at a clear disadvantage…

MSI GL65 (Cinebench)

Next comes our Adobe Photoshop test, in which we add up the total execution times while using a 2018 release of Photoshop Creative Cloud to apply 10 filters and effects to a standard JPEG image.

MSI GL65 (Photoshop)

The 8GB of RAM in our GL65 is enough to run Photoshop without slowdowns, though for serious use as an image editing system, it’d be better to have 16GB.

Graphics Tests

For the 3D-focused testing, we’ll start with UL’s 3DMark suite. The two gaming-style benchmarks we use are Fire Strike and Sky Diver, both of which are DirectX 11-based. In the more demanding Fire Strike test, the GL65 kept up with the Acer Nitro 7, using the same 4GB GTX 1650 GPU.

MSI GL65 (3DMark)

The GTX 1660 Ti in the Lenovo Legion Y545 was far ahead, however. This general pattern carried over to Unigine’s Superposition test, which we run at two resolutions. It uses a different rendering engine than 3DMark for a second opinion on a PC’s graphics performance.

MSI GL65 (Superposition)

The MSI slightly edged out the Acer. Note the GeForce RTX 2060-based Asus and Dell laptops didn’t greatly distance themselves from the Lenovo—the latter’s GTX 1660 Ti was close in performance, although it lacks the ray tracing and DLSS features inherent in Nvidia’s RTX product line. (None of our tests leverages RTX-specific features.)

Finally, we use the built-in benchmarks in two real-world AAA games, Far Cry 5 (at its Normal and Ultra 1080p presets) and Rise of the Tomb Raider (at its Medium and Very High presets). Far Cry 5 uses DirectX 11; we flip Rise of the Tomb Raider to DX12.

MSI GL65 (Far Cry 5)

MSI GL65 (ROTR)

The MSI GL65 finished neck and neck with the Acer Nitro 7, indicating that its Core i5 CPU isn’t holding it back to a meaningful degree. That said, I found the 57fps average reported by the Rise of the Tomb Raider at the Very High preset to be optimistic. While actually playing the game for an hour, the frame rate often strayed well below that level, so I ended up lowering the detail settings to make the game more playable. The GeForce GTX 1650 will be stretched to its limits at full HD resolution in the most demanding titles, so don’t expect to be able to use maximum visual quality settings in every game.

Battery Rundown Test

In our last benchmark, we measure a laptop’s unplugged runtime while playing a locally stored video with screen brightness at 50 percent and audio volume at 100 percent. We use the notebook’s energy-saving rather than balanced or other power profile, turn off Wi-Fi, and even disable keyboard backlighting to squeeze as much life as possible out of the system.

MSI GL65 (Battery Test)

The days when gaming notebooks conked out after only 90 minutes or so away from a power outlet are over. The MSI’s five and a half hours isn’t a record, but it’s not a negative, either. It’ll let you step away from a wall socket without having to constantly keep an eye on the battery percentage.


Good Cooling Performance

The GL65 has two cooling fans positioned at its back corners:

MSI GL65-06

Their air intake comes from the underside of the chassis, most of which is grated for airflow.

MSI GL65-09

While I played Rise of the Tomb Raider, the fans’ noise level was noticeable, but not pronounced above the usual household bustle. You won’t game unnoticed, but you won’t drown out nearby conversations, either.

Here’s a look through our FLIR One Pro thermal camera at the GL65 during the gaming session…

MSI GL65 (FLIR Keyboard)

The center of the keyboard is a little toasty (113 degrees F), but the temperature drops off drastically elsewhere. Under the hood, its Core i5-9300H CPU topped off in the mid-70-degree C range, which is quite acceptable. The GTX 1650 GPU reached just 65 degrees C.


An Exceptional Value

Above all else, the GL65 is notable for the gaming performance it delivers for the money. For $699 in our tested guise (and potentially even less, as I spotted it online for as little as $599 after a rebate), it can play the latest games at 1080p resolution with decent visual quality settings. A bright screen and a comfortable keyboard complete the package. There’s even some aluminum in its build, a bonus that its plastic rivals lack.

The downsides are few and relatively minor: The laptop’s speakers could be better, its touchpad buttons are noisy, and some of its ports aren’t ideally placed. Sure, it would be nice if the system had a Thunderbolt 3 port or RGB-backlit keyboard, but those are features you’d expect to find on a notebook that retails well into four figures. The GL65 manages to be inexpensive without eschewing the essentials.

Overall, this MSI has exactly what it needs to be a great buy and our newest Editors’ Choice among value gaming laptops.



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Microsoft’s Intune is now Endpoint Manager: What is it, and how well does the UEM tool work?

As businesses look to give employees flexible work environments, whether on desktops or mobile devices, in the office or out in the field, IT shops have had to scramble to consolidate the management of hardware using a single console.

With that IT goal in mind, Microsoft in 2011 launched its Intune cloud service to address the emerging enterprise mobility management (EMM) needs of the workplace.

After eight years, Microsoft decided to combine its Intune unified endpoint management (UEM) platform with its System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr), enabling users to access both with just one interface.

The combined products – now called Endpoint Manager – make licensing for Intune available to all ConfigMgr customers to co-manage Windows devices. Between the two cloud services, more than 200 million devices are now being managed, according to Microsoft.

Along with a single management interface for ConfigMgr and Intune, Endpoint Manager includes the Device Management Admin Center (DMAC) and Desktop Analytics.

The software gives IT admins on-premises and cloud management tools as well as co-management options to provision, deploy, manage and secure endpoints – desktops, mobile devices and applications – across an enterprise.

Simply put, Endpoint Manager is designed to make it easier to manage a variety of devices in a way that protects corporate data while still allowing employees to do their jobs using both corporate and personal devices. It combines mobile device management (MDM) capabilities with mobile application management (MAM) and, while obviously tied to Windows 10 and other Microsoft products, it can manage hardware running other operating systems.

The re-branding of Intune this year had a few effects, according to Gartner research vice president Chris Silva. For one thing, all customers using ConfigMgr gained access to the feature set formerly known as Intune for their Windows devices, pushing them in the direction of UEM for those PCs.

Combining the two was Microsoft’s answer to questions about whether traditional PC management tools like SCCM/ConfigMgr were finally dead. (They’re not.)

Traditional management tools will continue to play a role in co-managing PCs that require traditional lifecycle tasks like imaging, along with using MDM, according to Silva.

“All that said…, the total [endpoint devices] managed solely by UEM/MDM today is less than 5%,” Silva said. “We expect the number to grow more rapidly now that the question of which tool or tools are relevant for managing PCs has been answered by [Microsoft] that’s managing them currently.”

Intune arrived eight years ago as companies were being forced to manage a sudden onslaught of devices accessing corporate data and networks – fallout from the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend that took off after the release of Apple’s iPhone in 2007.

“Even if the workers are not mobile all the time, the way we do business today requires a different approach, and that’s where Intune comes in,” said Maura Hameroff, Microsoft’s director of security product marketing. “We started with a cloud solution…to enable employees to have access to everything they need on the device they need.”

As a subscription service, Microsoft charges companies on a per user/per month basis. Pricing starts at $8.74 per seat as part of Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite, which includes the Azure Active Directory, Azure Rights Management Services, and Advanced Threat Analytics.

How UEM (and Endpoint Manager) fit into the EMM market

Driven by corporate BYOD programs, hardware management is shifting away from a Windows-dominant world to one that is increasingly diverse and includes iOS, Android and Apple devices. Gartner predicts that 80% of worker tasks will take place on a mobile device by 2020, increasing the momentum behind unified endpoint management (UEM), which allows all user-facing devices to be managed from a single console.

By 2022, Gartner said, 30% of company-owned Windows 10 PCs will be managed using EMM software or UEM tools. That should help companies boost operational efficiency. The difficult part for many will be choosing whether to use something like Intune, or cobble together a management ecosystm built on software from a number of third-party vendors.

To be successful, any comprehensive UEM product, according to Gartner, will need to integrate with client management tools and meet the following objectives:
■ Provide a single console to configure, manage and monitor traditional mobile devices, PCs and device management of IoT assets.
■ Unify the application of data protection, device configuration and usage policies.
■ Provide a single view of multidevice users for better end-user support and to gather  detailed workplace analytics.
■ Act as a coordination point to orchestrate the activities of related endpoint technologies such as identity services and security infrastructure.

uem gartner graphic Gartner

The big difference between MDM and UEM: The latter envisions managing desktop hardware as easily as mobile devices.

The majority of vendors whose software allows UEM come from the MDM and EMM market, and many have been adding Windows management capabilities over the past couple of years, according to Chris Silva, vice president of Gartner’s Mobile, Endpoint and Wearables Computing team.

[ Related: What is EMM? Enterprise Mobility Management explained ]

“Many have recently expanded to support ChromeOS and macOS platforms as well, placing them in a position to take on management of multiple types of traditional endpoints alongside the mobile endpoints they manage,” Silva said via email. “The slate of traditional client management tools vendors, or CMTs, have been slower to build out extensions to their traditional PC management tools to handle mobile devices and modern OSes, (like Chrome, which require an MDM-like approach to manage). So, in short, the field looks very similar to past analyses of the MDM/EMM space.”

In addition to Microsoft, other vendors offering UEM solutions include Blackberry, IBM, MobileIron and VMware.

In particular, VMware’s AirWatch has been a standout in the capabilties it offers, particularly enabling enterprises to “bridge” the gap between traditional client management software, such as System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or LANDESK, and modern UEM tools, said Bryan Taylor, research director on Gartner’s Mobile, Endpoint and Wearables Computing team.

“Intune and AirWatch both have a larger set of features and functionality geared toward helping you through the transition to modern management,” Taylor said about the Endpoint Manager predecessor.

The migration of traditional PC management to EMM/UEM tools is a “key strategic imperative” for companies, but the timeline for deployment depends largely on how quickly companies want to move in that direction – and how much money they’re willing to invest, according to Gartner.

The research firm recommends that “Type A” organizations – those most aggressive in adopting new technology (about 10% of all enterprises) – should already be making the shift to UEM as of this year. These organizations believe technology is a strategic differentiator.

“Type C” organizations, or the least likely to quickly embrace new technology (about 20% of enterprises), should consider UEM by 2022.

The bulk of enterprises (“Type B” or 70% of organizations) fall somewhere in the middle. They currently use a mix of technology approaches and only a small number are actively moving into UEM this year; the majority continue to maintain separate PC management tools and processes, Gartner said.

“Over the next year, we’ll start to see more testing of this. But for most organizations we’re not going to see earnest efforts to start moving significant portions of their Windows and Mac to a modern management paradigm [UEM] for another two to three years,” Taylor said.

Widely available, rarely used

More than 50% of large enterprises already have UEM tools, mostly through comprehensive licensing agreements, but only about 5% actually use those tools today.

“Most organizations are just trying to get their heads around what it means to start down this journey,” Taylor said. “They’re planning and strategizing and experimenting.”

Intune’s adoption rate, prior to its inclusion in Endpoint Manager, had been going “gangbusters,” he said, mostly because it comes with Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreement (EA) – the company’s volume licensing package for organizations with 500 or more users. Intune is bundled with Azure Active Directory (AD) in EA.

“You need Azure Active Directory to make just about any of their latest generation products work,” Taylor said. “So, it’s not an if but a when for most organizations.”

Adoption is also being driven by the overwhelming popularity of Microsoft’s subscription-based software suite, Office 365, which also requires Azure AD to work.

Endpoint Manager benefits because Microsoft requires it to set data protection policies for Office 365 mobile apps, in particular the famillar ‘save as’ command for any documents. Neither iOS nor Android OS knows what to do with the “save as” command in Microsoft Office.

Not surprisingly, Intune/Endpoint Manager evolved quickly over the past year as Microsoft has moved to address many of its shortcomings; the Microsoft team seems to have gotten “religion” around the speed of mobile and has begun keeping up with the advances of other leader UEM vendors such as AirWatch and MobileIron, Taylor said.

“I’ve never seen a product team at Microsoft move so quickly,” he said.

UEM Gartner magic quadrant Gartner

Gartner’s magic quadrant for UEM vendors as of June, 2018.

What Endpoint Manager can do

Through Endpoint Manager’s (Intune’s) console, IT administrators can execute a UEM strategy where end users can be onboarded through any hardware platform, and rules can be applied governing which applications and what data they can access. UEM uses MDM APIs on mobile platforms to enable identity management, wireless LAND management, operational analytics and asset managment. In theory, at least, UEM enables IT to remotely provision, control and secure everything from smart phones to tablets, laptops, desktops and now, Internet of Things (IoT) devices from a single management console.

Some UEM products also allow mobile application management (MAM), letting IT admins control access to specific business apps – and the content associated with them – without controlling the entire physical device.

Many of the basic application and system provisioning functions required for business laptops and PCs running Windows 10 can now be done through that OS’s EMM control consoles, which are enabled by Microsoft’s Intune protocol. That means organizations with more recent Windows PC deployments can use consolidated management tools and unified policy and configuration platforms via UEM.

For example, the software’s integration with Microsoft’s Azure AD and Azure Information Protection enables admins to classify (and optionally protect) documents and emails by applying access rules and conditions. And Intune’s integration with Azure Data Protection lets admins include watermarks on any images taken with a mobile device, whether company-issued or used via a BYOD corporate policy.

intune enrollment ui for android devices Microsoft

Intune’s enrollment screen

To make device management easier – especially for Windows-based shops – Microsoft last year added native EMM functionality to Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile OS via Intune. That’s in addition to Windows 10 Mobile OS, which has a built-in device management client to deploy, configure, maintain and support smartphones.

In all editions of Windows 10, including those for desktop, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) hardware, the client provides a single interface through which Intune can manage any Windows 10 device.

Intune enables conditional access, including denial of access to devices not managed by it or compliant with corporate IT policies; management of Office 365 and office mobile apps; and management of PCs running Windows Vista or more recent Windows releases.

An open API also allows third-party software providers, such as SAP, to wrap their application access controls into Intune’s UI.

“We also use AppConfig that works for any would-be Android containers, so we can port the OS functionality for any application that needs to be protected through Intune,” said Microsoft’s Hameroff. “Because of the deep integration management we have with applications, we’re also protecting the data within an application. So, for example, you can enforce things like copy-and-paste block. Our SDKs also have that capability, so any application you wrap it with can have copy-and-paste block.”

Many of the basic application and system provisioning functions required for business laptops and PCs running Windows 10 can also be performed through EMM control consoles. Endpoint Manager works with agent-based SCCM to support more advanced PC and server management capabilities.

(The primary subscription includes usage rights to SCCM, which allows organizations to manage PCs and mobile devices through the same management console – another benefit of a UEM strategy.)

azure information protection ui Microsoft

Microsoft Azure’s document protection user interface.



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Microsoft’s JEDI contract move: Those are not the cloud providers you’re looking for

Microsoft surprised most of the tech and political world when it was awarded a 10-year, $10 billion contract from the U.S. Department of Defense for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project to transform the military’s use of the cloud. Amazon, IBM, Oracle and Google had all been in the running, with Amazon thought to be the front-runner because it is the world’s largest cloud provider and had already built a cloud system for the Central Intelligence Agency.

After Microsoft received the contract, plenty of people expressed the belief that President Trump had intervened to make sure Amazon didn’t win it, pointing to his constant criticism of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. Fueling the speculation was a book published by a speechwriter for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, which claimed that Trump wanted to freeze Amazon out of the contract.

Among those raising objections was Amazon, which is officially challenging the decision on the ground that it was made for political reasons rather than technical or military ones. Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener explained in a statement, “It’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence. Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors and unmistakable bias — and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified.”

It’s not clear whether the president had an active hand in choosing Microsoft over Amazon. What is clear is that Microsoft made itself a viable choice, in part, by tearing a page from its old playbook: Use the power of Windows as a way to force its way into other markets.

In decades past, Microsoft did that with great success, mowing down competitors in the markets for word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software and others. The ploy hasn’t worked in recent times, though, and Windows is no longer the core of Microsoft. The cloud is. But in this instance, it appears that Windows helped Microsoft land JEDI, which is helping the company in its efforts to catch up to Amazon in cloud market share.

To understand how Microsoft leveraged Windows, you need to look back three years. In December 2016, Microsoft was awarded a $972 million contract to migrate all 4 million Defense Department employees to Windows 10 and to provide the department with large numbers of Windows devices, including laptops and desktops. The contract also called for Microsoft to provide tech support to the military for five years. On the same day the contract was awarded, the Defense Department approved Microsoft Surface for deployment to the military.

Department of Defense CIO Terry Halvorsen explained the decisions by saying, “It is important for the Department to rapidly transition to Microsoft Windows 10 in order to improve our cybersecurity posture, lower the cost of IT and streamline the IT operating environment.”

At the time, Windows 10, about 18 months past its release date, wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire. But you can’t get a more ringing endorsement than Halvorsen’s. GeekWire explained the importance of the contract this way: “It’s a striking departure from the old way of thinking about upgrades, where many institutions including the military stuck with what worked until the new systems were more thoroughly tested, often upgrading years after the general public.”

But even more important was the foot Microsoft had gotten inside the Pentagon’s door. A little more than a year after the contract was signed, Microsoft finished the migration to Windows 10 for the Defense Department. That the migration didn’t lag certainly must have pleased the military. And now, when it comes to desktop and laptop computing, the U.S. military is all Windows all the time, and it clearly trusts Microsoft.

And now comes the big reward, the JEDI contract. While it’s true that Amazon has filed an objection, don’t expect the contract award to be overturned. Daniel Ives, the managing director of Wedbush Securities, told The New York Times that Amazon’s challenge “was to be expected, given how significant the JEDI deal is.” But he added that he doesn’t believe the challenge will succeed because, “This is the most scrutinized contract D.O.D. has ever had.” Ives added that the Pentagon’s review of the challenge would probably take only between 45 and 60 days.

Even if political influence was involved, Microsoft’s long-standing relationship with the Department of Defense, particularly the big Windows 10 deal and its heavy reliance on that OS, will provide cover for the military should it stick with Microsoft.

In strictly numeric terms, the contract isn’t a game-changer for Microsoft. It amounts to $1 billion per year, and it’s guaranteed for only two years, with two three-year options after that, and then a final two-year option. Today, Amazon owns 47.8% of the cloud market, and Microsoft trails far behind with 15.5%, according to Gartner. This deal, by itself, won’t do much to alter those numbers.

But there’s power in signaling, and this high-profile contract from an organization that eschews risk in all things signals to businesses and other government agencies that Microsoft can be trusted with anyone’s cloud business. And it will likely lessen Amazon’s reputation as the only cloud vendor worth considering.

So expect other big deals to go Microsoft’s way as the company pivots to the cloud.

Remember, no one is claiming that political influence put Microsoft ahead of Google and IBM in this contest. No, Microsoft got into the running the old-fashioned way: using the power of Windows to muscle its way into a big market it wants to dominate.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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How Apple is already part of Industry 4.0

Apple has entered manufacturing infrastructure with its products seeing wide deployment as industrial technology moves into what’s called Industry 4.0 – connected systems augmented by AR and mobile solutions.

Smart, connected machines

The introduction of the iPhone and the subsequent debut of other advanced mobile devices acted as a clarion call.

The ability to work remotely doesn’t just apply to humans, but also to machines. Smart, connected industrial infrastructure is the inevitable result. Analysts call this “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” hence, “Industry 4.0”.

What sort of real-world implications do these technologies have? Here’s some ideas:

  • Vending machines that check their own stock levels and order refills when required.
  • Industrial equipment with sensors capable of proactively identifying faults and requesting service before they actually fail.
  • Smart warehousing in which stock levels, location and order batching is highly automated and centrally controlled.
  • Smart farms, where soil and water conditions are remotely monitored, or drones and GPS trackers used to monitor and protect livestock.
  • Extensive deployment across retail.

Of course, when your business is digitised, security becomes a huge problem, and this is why so many industrial implementations choose to use secure mobile platforms to support their work.

No one wants to be the new Target, and see valuable customer data stolen through a security flaw in the air conditioning system.

Ignoring change isn’t an option. Gartner says that by 2022, approximately 70 percent of all software interactions in the enterprise will be handled by mobile devices.

And that’s why Apple is already part of industry 4.0.

iOS is in the infrastructure

Nowadays, in almost every deployment, you’ll find the applications used to interface with this increasingly smart industrial capacity are also available for iOS.

You also see machine learning applied to the data these smart machines collect, unlocking new productivity and helping enterprises identify new business opportunities they may hitherto have been unaware of.

That’s the theory, at least: though it seems inevitable that as industry becomes more automated, the new for human workers will shrink.

There are arguments that technological advance eventually creates new employment models, but these don’t always extend to those displaced by such change.

My belief is that access to free lifelong education and financial support for displaced workers is a logical response to protect national economies impacted by such change. Those who do not help their populations learn new skills will atrophy, but that’s another story.

Partnerships for Industry 4.0

Apple’s tech is in use within Industry 4.0 environments worldwide.

For example, Apple and GE agreed an Industry 4 partnership back in 2017. They work together to create “powerful industrial apps designed to bring predictive data and analytics from Predix, GE’s industrial IoT platform, to iPhone and iPad.”

That matters. Globally, GE customers include manufacturing companies, automotive firms, chemical, energy, food, water, oil, gas and paper manufacturing companies.

Apple’s partnership with IBM means iOS apps built using Mobile First for iOS are already in active use across numerous industries.

These include white and blue collar industries across the gamut: education, insurance, online services, industrial, retail, energy, chemical and many more sectors.

The Cisco partnership puts Apple into retail and healthcare, and the SAP deal means Apple’s solutions are in use across the enterprise – and never ignore the long-standing partnership with Microsoft, which means you’ll find solutions from both used together at firms such as Sonic Industries.

There are partnerships with Accenture, Deloitte, Salesforce.

Together, all these partnerships mean Apple’s solutions are on the table at every conversation around digital transformation in any enterprise – and this extends to industrial deployments, also.

Already in use

This is why you’ll find iPhones running proprietary enterprise apps in use at a dizzying array of companies: SKF, John Lewis, BDC, AXA, Rogers-O’Brien Contruction, Capital One, British Airways, LIDL, Ochsner Health Systems, Network Rail, P&G, Novartis and many, many more – if you have an interesting industrial deployment of iOS, please let me know.

Of course, once you get industrial adoption of these platforms, you also see a range of iOS apps for industrial use, for example:

And what makes this all the more astounding is that much of the evolution of Industry 4.0 can be traced right back to a product introduced in January 2007 by Apple’s Steve Jobs.

The iPhone finessed the expression of advanced technology in a mobile form factor and opened the floodgates to a range of concepts that inevitably sparked the new industrial evolution.

And put Apple into the infrastructure, not just the enterprise.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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