Revises its email scanning policy again following ‘uncomfortable’ criticism
Microsoft came under severe criticism after it emerged last week that in 2012 the company had peeked inside the Hotmail account of an employee suspected of leaking Windows 8 trade secrets. Within 24 hours of the revelations, the company thought it behooved it to “provide additional context and describe how we are strengthening our policies.” But the "strengthened" policy did not go down too well with the critics either.
Yes, Microsoft is within its rights to peek in your Hotmail
A side story that got lost in yesterday's revelation that authorities arrested a former Microsoft employee for allegedly leaking Windows 8 trade secrets to a French blogger is how Microsoft was able to track down its suspect. Simply put, the blogger was using a Hotmail account, so Microsoft granted itself access to his inbox. Based on the emails it read, Microsoft had a culprit, but was this a breach of privacy?
Say goodbye to Hotmail (as you know it) and hello to Outlook.com, Microsoft's new personal email service that launched in preview form on Tuesday. To listen to Microsoft describe it, Outlook.com represents "the first major improvement to cloud mail in eight years," and is yet another reimagined cloud service as Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 roll into view. It's "modern email designed for the next billion mailboxes." Marketing hype aside, just what exactly is Outlook.com all about?
The Internet’s 43 years old this year—that’s the same age as The RZA and Patton Oswalt—putting 1969 in the running for Best Year Ever. But for all we know about the Wu-Tang Clan and KFC Famous Bowls, the mass majority of users surfing the interwebz know next to nothing about its history. To get you up to speed we’ve put together a pictorial timeline of 20 of the most significant events in the history of the Internet, from its inception right up to the meme, kitteh and rickrolling phenomenon it is today.
Faculty and students attending Oxford University in the U.K. are currently without access to several Microsoft services, including Hotmail, MSN, Live, and others. Oxford ICT officer Peter Bushnell reached out to DailyTech about the apparent blacklist that "has been going on for a week now" after unsuccessfully trying to get a straight answer from Microsoft.
No matter where you choose to do your cloud computing these days, September is off to a rough start. First Google Doc’s is knocked offline for over an hour on Wednesday, and Microsoft followed suit on Friday, falling off the grid for close to three hours. Microsoft’s service disruption impacted several free services such as Hotmail and Skydrive, but also premium offerings including Office 365.
Microsoft recently updated its Office Web Apps online productivity suite to add a few useful features. The service update, which was announced by the Office Web Apps team on its official blog on Wednesday, only concerns the Excel and PowerPoint Web Apps. Hit the jump to find out what these enhancements are.
According to Microsoft, the average person maintains three different email addresses. If you're a power user, you might be juggling many more than that. Managing all those usernames and passwords (assuming you use a different one for each account) is, in a word, "inefficient," Microsoft says. The solution? Hotmail aliases.
Hotmail may been losing some of its “geek cred” to more feature rich services such as Gmail, but as one of the most popular email providers in the world, they had a bit of explaining to do after accidentally wiping out the inboxes of over 17,000 users last week. According to Microsoft’s Mike Schackwitz, an error in a script that is used for testing the stability of the service accidentally deleted valid user account folders, rather than just those belonging to internal test bots.
"In Hotmail, one way we monitor the health of the e-mail service is through automated tests. We set up a number of accounts with different configurations, and then use automated tests to log into these accounts, simulate normal user activity and behavior, and report when errors are found," Schackwitz wrote in a blog post. "We use scripts to create and delete these test accounts in bulk. The way we delete a test account is to remove its record from a group of directory servers that route users and incoming mail to the correct mailbox."
Microsoft didn’t really apologize for the error in its blog post, but at least they claim to have learned a valuable lesson. "This issue was one that had not arisen before, and at first, we did not assign it to the correct team for action," Schackwitz wrote. "Additionally, because there were a relatively small number of reports, the volume wasn't high enough to set off alarms. This meant we had a ticket in the system that was getting no action."
Microsoft has restored all missing emails but has this further eroded your trust in Hotmail?
Microsoft is making a concerted effort to beef up the security of Hotmail email accounts, the Redmond outfit announced in a blog post this week.
"Last week we purged hijackers from legitimate Hotmail accounts that had been identified as compromised, and earlier this month we used legal action to take down a range of domains used by hijackers known as the Waledac botnet," Microsoft said. "Today, we are releasing new features to safeguard everyone's account from hijackers."
Those safeguards include two new "proofs" for account recovery. One involves linking your Hotmail account to one or more of your PCs, so if you need to reset your account, you just need to be using your PC. The second proof option is your cell phone number, where you can receive a secret code via SMS to reset your password.