Microsoft will double the per-PC price of support for enterprises still holding onto Windows XP systems when the anniversary of the aged OS’s retirement rolls around in April, according to a licensing expert familiar with the situation.
The per-PC price for what Microsoft calls “custom support agreements” (CSAs) will increase to $400, the expert said after requesting anonymity.
CSAs provide critical security updates for an operating system that’s been officially retired, as Windows XP was on April 8, 2014. CSAs are negotiated on a company-by-company basis and also require that an organization has adopted a top-tier support plan, dubbed Premier Support, offered by Microsoft.
The CSA failsafe lets companies pay for security patches beyond the normal support lifespan while they finish their migrations to newer editions of Windows. Most enterprises have shifted — and are continuing to do so — to Windows 7 rather than adopt Windows 8.1.
Last year, just days before Microsoft retired Windows XP, the company slashed the price of CSAs to $200-per-device with a cap of $250,000.
Because a CSA is an annual-only program — and Microsoft limits each organization to just three years of post-retirement support — agreements must be renewed each year. The first renewals come due in less than two months.
Ideally, companies that signed up for a CSA last year will have retired large numbers of Windows XP machines in the interim. If a firm reduced the number of Windows XP PCs by half, it will pay the same as last year if it renews the agreement at the higher per-device price.
It’s difficult to gauge the persistence of Windows XP in commercial settings, but the operating system, which debuted in 2001, continues to appear in analytics firms’ tracking.
According to U.S.-based Net Applications, for example, the global user share of XP stood at 20.7% of all Windows-powered PCs in January, representing more than 300 million machines. Meanwhile, Irish metrics company StatCounter pegged XP’s usage share at 12% for January.
Dell has merged its SonicPoints with Dell SonicWALL next-generation firewalls to create what it claims are secure wireless networks. According to the company, the Dell SonicWALL firewalls automatically detects and provision SonicPoints, while it pushes appropriate security updates as well as policies to ensure enterprise-class security.
Of course, it also claims to simplify management, deliver a lower TCO and protect you from badgers at the same time. But it is a pretty interesting product. The SonicPoint AC Series of wireless access points would be able to support the high-performance IEEE 802.11ac wireless standard in order to offer close to three times that of the last wireless standard (802.11n).
SonicPoints will offer deep packet inspection security from Dell SonicWALL next-generation firewalls. This opens the door for small- and mid-sized organizations to leverage enterprise-class wireless performance and security, all the while simplifying wireless network setup and management.
With enterprise-level performance, WiFi-ready devices are able to hook up from greater distances, while making use of bandwidth-intensive mobile apps, including video and voice, working in higher-density environments with virtually no signal degradation.
Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told Japanese news service Nikkei on Wednesday that the new system would be released “early next fall.”
Microsoft has not publicly set a firm timetable for the release of Windows 10, but only last week suggested the possibility of an earlier release.
“By next late summer and early fall we’ll be able to bring out this particular OS (operating system). That’s the current plan of record,” Turner told the Credit Suisse Technology Conference last Thursday.
An autumn release would put Windows 10 on track for launch three years after Windows 8, which got a mixed reception as it confused many traditional PC users with a design more suited to tablets.
Microsoft unveiled the name Windows 10 in late September, saying the jump in numbers from 8 to 10 marked a leap as it looks to unify the way people work on tablets, phones and traditional computers.
An early test version of Windows 10 – which blends the traditional look and much-loved start menu with newer features – has been available for download from Microsoft’s website for more than two months.
Windows is still a core part of Microsoft’s business and dominates the desktop computing market with 1.5 billion users. But the growth of smartphones and tablets means Windows now runs on only about 14 percent of computing devices worldwide, according to tech research firm Gartner.
Dell got back to us about the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet following our recent article, in which we pointed up that it has yet to ship. The company said the tablet will officially launch at CES 2015.
This is the tablet that Michael Dell held in his hand at IDF 2014 in September and later Jim Parsons promoted the sleek device in a commercial that aired less than two weeks ago.
“The Venue 8 7000 – the world’s thinnest at 6mm, with the world’s best display (2560 x 1600 OLED) and the first RealSense depth camera integrated into such a small form factor – is going to be officially announced with pricing and availability at CES.”
It cannot be clearer than that, but we would be a tad happier to know what sort of SoC Intel uses in this tablet is and it would be great to know the price. There is still a chance that this will be the thinnest tablet by the time it actually launches, although we don’t think that Dell will be the only brand launching new products at CES.
The competition never sleeps and after a lot of digging around the most serious candidate for the SoC inside the ultrathin tablet is the Intel Atom Z3580, a 22nm processor previously codenamed Moorefield. This SoC is a quad-core clocked at up to 2.33GHz and based on the Silvermont architecture. The prototype that Dell showed back at IDF 2014 and Dell World was running Android 4.4 and Morefield Atom Z35xx has been confirmed as the SoC of choice.
Moorefield is ready for 64-bit Android 5.0 and this might be the reason behind the slight delay. Let’s face it, Lollipop is the biggest Android refresh in years and it’s a big selling point.
There is no doubt that Airmont, the 14nm follow up architecture for mobile Atom has been delayed. In September 2013, Intel’s Hermann Eul, VP GM mobile communication group announced that Airmont 14nm Atom is coming in 2014. Well it didn’t show up and it won’t as 2014 is coming to an end.
The 14nm Airmont based Cherry Trail product has been pushed to 2015, so if all goes well Dell might be launching an updated Venue tablet later in 2015, powered with a new and improved Atom processor.
The service, which is designed to do what Drive does for Google and what Office 365 does for software rental, has gained mobile apps for the first time as Zocalo appears on the Google Play store and Apple App Store.
Amazon also mentions availability on the Kindle store, but we’re not sure about that bit. We assume it means the Amazon App Store for Fire tablet users.
The AWS blog says that the apps allow the user to “work offline, make comments, and securely share documents while you are in the air or on the go.”
A second announcement brings Zocalo into line with the AWS S3 storage on which it is built. Users will receive an update to their Zocalo sync client which will enable file capacities up to 5TB, the same maximum allowed by the Amazon S3 cloud.
To facilitate this, multi-part uploads will allow users to carry on an upload from where it was after a break, deliberate or accidental.
Zocalo was launched in July as the fight for enterprise storage productivity hots up. The service can be trialled for 30 days free of charge, offering 200GB each for up to 50 users.
Rival services from companies including the aforementioned Microsoft and Google, as well as Dropbox and Box, coupled with aggressive price cuts across the sector, have led to burgeoning wars for the hearts and minds of IT managers as Microsoft’s Office monopoly begins to wane.
Amazon has become the latest vendor to commission a customized Xeon chip from Intel to meet its exact compute requirements, in this case powering new high-performance C4 virtual machine instances on the AWS cloud computing platform.
Amazon announced at the firm’s AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas that the latest generation of compute-optimized Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) virtual machine instances offer up to 36 virtual CPUs and 60GB of memory.
“These instances are designed to deliver the highest level of processor performance on EC2. If you’ve got the workload, we’ve got the instance,” said AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr, detailing the new instances on the AWS blog.
The instances are powered by a custom version of Intel’s latest Xeon E5 v3 processor family, identified by Amazon as the Xeon E5-2666 v3. This runs at a base speed of 2.9GHz, and can achieve clock speeds as high as 3.5GHz with Turbo boost.
Amazon is not the first company to commission a customized processor from Intel. Earlier this year, Oracle unveiled new Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8 systems with a custom Xeon E7 v2 processor.
The processor is capable of dynamically switching core count, clock frequency and power consumption without the need for a system level reboot, in order to deliver an elastic compute capability that adapts to the demands of the workload.
However, these are just the vendors that have gone public; Intel claims it is delivering over 35 customized versions of the Intel Xeon E5 v3 processor family to various customers.
This is an area the chipmaker seems to be keen on pursuing, especially with companies like cloud service providers that purchase a great many chips.
“We’re really excited to be working with Amazon. Amazon’s platform is the landing zone for a lot of new software development and it’s really exciting to partner with those guys on a SKU that really meets their needs,” said Dave Hill, senior systems engineer in Intel’s Datacenter Group.
Also at AWS re:Invent, Amazon announced the Amazon EC2 Container Service, adding support for Docker on its cloud platform.
Currently available as a preview, the EC2 Container Service is designed to make it easy to run and manage distributed applications on AWS using containers.
Customers will be able to start, stop and manage thousands of containers in seconds, scaling from one container to hundreds of thousands across a managed cluster of Amazon EC2 instances, the firm said.
Dell customers who are exploring Windows 10 believe that the new OS takes care of some issues that Windows 8 failed to address, said Neil Hand, vice president of tablets at Dell.
The biggest advantage of Windows 10 is the ability to run programs across devices, be they mobile or desktop, Hand said.
“The ability to create applications that are super-scalable from phone to tablet to PC is the big step in a lot of ways,” Hand said.
Dell is in the early stages of testing Windows 10 with its customers and Hand said it’s premature to say whether the OS will succeed. Dell runs Windows on most of its PCs and will likely adopt Windows 10 for its tablets and PCs next year.
Microsoft previously offered different versions of the Windows OS for mobile phones, desktops and servers, but Windows 10 is designed to unite all those editions.
Microsoft also offers separate versions of Windows 8 for its Surface 2 and Surface Pro tablets, which run on different instruction sets. Programs written for Surface 2, which is based on ARM, won’t run on Surface Pro 3, which is based on an Intel chipset. Windows 10 will eliminate any such incompatibilities and also make it easier to write and export programs from one device to another.
“Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices — from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens — some have 80 inch screens — and some don’t have screens at all,” said Terry Myerson , executive vice president at Microsoft’s Operating Systems group, in a blog entry.
Windows 8, with its all-new tablet user interface, presented a radical transition at the time of its release two years ago and enterprise customers preferred to go with the older Windows 7. Business users, who are Dell’s target base, have mostly skipped Windows 8 and are still upgrading PCs to Windows 7.
However, Microsoft had the right idea in mind with Windows 8, which was to prepare customers for mobile, Hand said.
Red Hat has released an updated version of its Cloud Infrastructure suite that combines several products to deliver a comprehensive OpenStack-based cloud platform, adding its Satellite 6 lifecycle management tool to the mix.
Launched at the OpenStack Summit in Paris on Monday, Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure 5 brings together the firm’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) OpenStack Platform, CloudForms for managing hybrid cloud deployments, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation, and now the Satellite 6 lifecycle management tool which was released in September.
The new release is a comprehensive solution available under a single subscription licence that provides organisations with the tools they need to transform their IT infrastructure from traditional data centre virtualisation to an OpenStack-powered cloud capable of linking with public cloud OpenStack resources, Red Hat said.
“Hybrid environments are simply the reality of today’s IT, and organisations want to get to the cloud on their own terms and timeline. Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure acknowledges that reality,” said Joe Fitzgerald, vice president and general manager for cloud management at Red Hat.
“By bringing software lifecycle and configuration management capabilities that span physical, virtual and cloud systems to users via the addition of Red Hat Satellite, we’re helping to establish Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure as one of the most comprehensive and premier cloud infrastructure solutions for enterprises.”
Satellite 6 enables provisioning and lifecycle management tasks for various Red Hat products, including RHEL, while CloudForms provides cloud management and orchestration capabilities such as self-service portals, chargeback and metering of services across private and public clouds.
Meanwhile, the RHEL OpenStack Platform 5 is itself based on the previous Icehouse release of OpenStack combined with the firm’s RHEL 7 operating system. Red Hat already offers a three-year software support product lifecycle for this platform.
DELL is showing off ”enterprise class” security for small to medium businesses with the launch of a SuperMassive 9800 next-generation firewall, which it claims will protect against high-profile bugs such as Shellshock and Heartbleed.
Touted as the most powerful in the fresh 9000 line-up, and sounding a little like a gang of rappers, the SuperMassive 9800 offers services such as advanced Deep Packet Inspection with speeds up to 20Gbps, and Dell’s patented Reassembly-Free Deep Packet Inspection (RFDPI) single-pass threat prevention engine.
RFDPI scans multiple application types and protocols to spot internal and external attacks and application vulnerabilities, Dell said, making it better at detecting attacks.
The SuperMassive 9800 is also bundled with Dell’s Global Management System 8.0, a tool designed to manage systems and offer real-time event monitoring, analytics and reporting from a single centralised dashboard.
Dell claims that this makes it easier to meet compliance regulations while managing and monitoring network security processes.
The firm claimed that the SuperMassive 9800 provides 97.9 percent “security effectiveness” and helps to protect customers from Shellshock and Heartbleed-level vulnerabilities.
“The recent disclosures of the ShellShock and HeartBleed industry-wide vulnerabilities demonstrate that organisations are literally a few well-formed packets away from infrastructure disaster, proving the need for instant and automated security scaled to meet the needs of the network,” said executive director of Dell Security, Patrick Sweeney.
“The SuperMassive 9800 provides that level of instant security on a flexible, feature-rich platform.”
Shellshock was uncovered in September, and some experts claim that it could be more serious than the Heartbleed SSL bug uncovered in April.
The Bash bug, as implied by its name, is a vulnerability that allows unscrupulous users to take control of Bourne Again Shell (Bash), the software used to control the Unix command prompt on some Unix-like systems.
Researchers at FireEye and Trend Micro warned later in September that hackers were still mounting cyber attacks across the globe thanks to exploits of Bash bug vulnerabilities, made worse by an unsuccessful patch.
Kwon Oh-hyun has said he is not worried about a price war in the semiconductor industry next year even though the firm is rapidly expanding its production volume.
“We’ll have to wait and see how things will go next year, but there definitely will not be any game of chicken,” said Oh-hyun, according to Reuters, suggesting the firm will not take chip rivals head on.
Samsung has reported strong profits for 2014 owing to better-than-expected demand for PCs and server chips. Analysts have also forecast similar results for the coming year, so things are definitely looking good for the company.
It emerged last week that Samsung will fork out almost $15bn on a new chip facility in South Korea, representing the firm’s biggest investment in a single plant.
Samsung hopes the investment will bolster profits in its already well-established and successful semiconductor business, and help to maintain its lead in memory chips and grow beyond the declining sales of its smartphones.
According to sources, Samsung expects its chip production capacity to increase by a “low double-digit percentage” after the facility begins production, which almost goes against the CEO’s claims that it is not looking for a price war.
Last month, Samsung was found guilty of involvement in a price fixing racket with a bunch of other chip makers stretching back over a decade, and was fined €138m by European regulators.
An antitrust investigation into chips used in mobile device SIM cards found that Infineon, Philips and Samsung colluded to artificially manipulate the price of SIM card chips.
RedHat has announced the Fedora 21 Alpha release for Fedora developers and any brave users that want to help test it.
Fedora is the leading edge – some might say bleeding edge – distribution of Linux that is sponsored by Red Hat. That’s where Red Hat and other developers do new development work that eventually appears in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and other Red Hat based Linux distributions, including Centos, Scientific Linux and Mageia, among others. Therefore, what Fedora does might also appear elsewhere eventually.
The Fedora project said the release of Fedora 21 Alpha is meant for testing in order to help it identify and resolve bugs, adding, “Fedora prides itself on bringing cutting-edge technologies to users of open source software around the world, and this release continues that tradition.”
Specifically, Fedora 21 will produce three software products, all built on the same Fedora 21 base, and these will each be a subset of the entire release.
Fedora 21 Cloud will include images for use in private cloud environments like Openstack, as well as AMIs for use on Amazon, and a new image streamlined for running Docker containers called Fedora Atomic Host.
Fedora 21 Server will offer data centre users “a common base platform that is meant to run featured application stacks” for use as a web server, file server, database server, or as a base for offering infrastructure as a service, including advanced server management features.
Fedora 21 Workstation will be “a reliable, user-friendly, and powerful operating system for laptops and PC hardware” for use by developers and other desktop users, and will feature the latest Gnome 3.14 desktop environment.
Those interested in testing the Fedora 21 Alpha release can visit the Fedora project website.
Intel has announced that it is sampling its Xeon D 14nm processor family, a system on chip (SoC) optimized to deliver Intel Xeon processor performance for hyperscale workloads.
Announcing the news on stage during a keynote at IDF in San Francisco, Intel SVP and GM of the Data Centre Group, Diane Bryant, said that the Intel Xeon processor D, which initially was announced in June, will be based on 14nm process technology and be aimed at mid-range communications.
“We’re pleased to announce that we’re sampling the third generation of the high density [data center system on a chip] product line, but this one is actually based on the Xeon processor, called Xeon D,” Bryant announced. “It’s 14nm and the power levels go down to as low as 15 Watts, so very high density and high performance.”
Intel believes that its Xeon D will serve the needs of high density, optimized servers as that market develops, and for networking it will serve mid-range routers as well as other network appliances, while it will also serve entry and mid-range storage. So, Intel claimed, you will get all of the benefits of Xeon-class reliability and performance, but you will also get a very small footprint and high integration of SoC capability.
This first generation Xeon D chip will also showcase high levels of I/O integrations, including 10Gb Ethernet, and will scale Intel Xeon processor performance, features and reliability to lower power design points, according to Intel.
The Intel Xeon processor D product family will also include data centre processor features such as error correcting code (ECC).
“With high levels of I/O integration and energy efficiency, we expect the Intel Xeon processor D product family to deliver very competitive TCO to our customers,” Bryant said. “The Intel Xeon processor D product family will also be targeted toward hyperscale storage for cloud and mid-range communications market.”
Bryant said that the product is not yet available, but it is being sampled, and the firm will release more details later this year.
This announcement comes just days after Intel launched its Xeon E5 v2 processor family for servers and workstations.
Intel is cooking up a hot batch of Xeon processors for servers and workstations, and system vendors have already designed systems that are ready and raring to go as soon as the chips become available.
Boston is one of the companies doing just that, and we know this because it gave us an exclusive peek into its labs to show off what these upgraded systems will look like. While we can’t share any details about the new chips involved yet, we can preview the systems they will appear in, which are awaiting shipment as soon as Intel gives the nod.
Based on chassis designs from Supermicro, with which Boston has a close relationship, the systems comprise custom-built solutions for specific user requirements.
On the workstation side, Boston is readying a mid-range and a high-end system with the new Intel Xeon chips, both based on two-socket Xeon E5-2600v3 rather than the single socket E5-1600v3 versions.
There’s also the mid-range Venom 2301-12T, which comes in a mid-tower chassis and ships with an Nvidia Quadro K4000 card for graphics acceleration. It comes with 64GB of memory and a 240GB SSD as a boot device, plus two 1TB Sata drives configured as a Raid array for data storage.
For extra performance, Boston has also prepared the Venom 2401-12T, which will ship with faster Xeon processors, 128GB of memory and an Nvidia Quadro K6000 graphics card. This also has a 240GB SSD as a boot drive, with two 2TB drives configured as a Raid array for data storage.
Interestingly, Intel’s new Xeon E5-2600v3 processors are designed to work with 2133MHz DDR4 memory instead of the more usual DDR3 RAM, and as you can see in the picture below, DDR4 DIMM modules have slightly longer connectors towards the middle.
For servers, Boston has prepared a 1U rack-mount “pizza box” system, the Boston Value 360p. This is a two-socket server with twin 10Gbps Ethernet ports, support for 64GB of memory and 12Gbps SAS Raid. It can also be configured with NVM Express (NVMe) SSDs connected to the PCI Express bus rather than a standard drive interface.
Boston also previewed a multi-node rack server, the Quattro 12128-6, which is made up of four separate two-socket servers inside a 2U chassis. Each node has up to 64GB of memory, with 12Gbps SAS Raid storage plus a pair of 400GB SSDs.
ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, citing unnamed sources, said that Microsoft will deliver a “technical preview” of Threshold late in September or early in October. Previously, Foley had reported that Microsoft would offer a preview of some kind this fall.
Threshold may be officially named “Windows 9″ by Microsoft — the company has said nothing about either the code name or labeled the next iteration of its desktop and tablet OS — although there are arguments for dumping a numerical title because of the possible association with Windows 8, which has widely been pegged as a failure.
“Technical Preview” is a moniker that Microsoft has used in the past for its Office suite. For both Office 2013 and Office 2010, Microsoft used the term to describe an invitation-only sneak peek. Both application suites were later released as public betas prior to their official launch.
Windows, however, has used a different nomenclature. For 2012′s Windows 8, Microsoft called the early looks ”Developer Preview,”"Consumer Preview” and “Release Preview,” all open to everyone. The first was analogous to an alpha, the second to a beta, and the third to a done-but-not-approved release candidate.
Windows 7, however, had used the more traditional “Beta” to describe the first public preview in early 2009. The previous fall, when Microsoft unveiled Windows 7, the firm had seeded an invite-only “pre-alpha” version, also dubbed a Developer Preview, of the OS to programmers and some influential bloggers.
Within hours, the Windows 7 Developer Preview leaked to file-sharing websites. Microsoft may have changed its practices for Windows 8, letting anyone download the first preview, because of the inevitably of leaks.
In an update to her blog of earlier today, Foley added that the “Technical Preview” nameplate notwithstanding, Microsoft would allow anyone to download Threshold/Windows 9 when it becomes available in the next few weeks.
If Microsoft does ship a preview soon and sets its sights on a second-quarter 2015 final release, it will have significantly accelerated the tempo from past practice. With Windows 7 and Windows 8, Microsoft offered its first previews 12 and 13 months, respectively, and the public beta 8 or 9 months, before launching the operating system.
Eight or nine months from September would be May or June 2015; that, however, assumes that the Technical Preview is of beta quality. The name itself hints at something less.
Microsoft appears eager to put Windows 8 behind it. It has stopped beating the drum about the OS and recently announced that it would not issue any additional major updates. Instead, the firm said last week, it will include improvements or new features in small packets using the same Windows Update mechanism that regularly serves security patches.
Kaspersky Lab has discovered an espionage network that successfully attacked government institutions, intelligence agencies and European companies.
The firm has dubbed the spy operation Epic Turla, and said that it is in no doubt about its capabilities.
“Over the last 10 months, Kaspersky Lab researchers have analysed a massive cyber-espionage operation which we call ‘Epic Turla’,” it said.
“The attackers behind Epic Turla have infected several hundred computers in more than 45 countries, including government institutions, embassies, military, education, research and pharmaceutical companies.”
Kaspersky said that Epic Turla used two zero-day exploits that affected Adobe and Microsoft software, along with some backdoor and social engineering tricks.
In particular, Kaspersky said a vulnerability in Windows XP and Windows 2003 – CVE-2013-5065 – termed a “privilege escalation vulnerability” is being used. “The CVE-2013-5065 exploit allows the backdoor to achieve administrator privileges on the system and run unrestricted. This exploit only works on unpatched Microsoft Windows XP systems.”
The use of this Windows XP flaw underlines the risk that the unsupported Windows XP OS poses. Kaspersky went on to explain that, once inside, attackers install their own rootkits and other malware tools and begin their surveillance.
“Once the attackers obtain the necessary credentials without the victim noticing, they deploy the rootkit and other extreme persistence mechanisms,” it said. “The attacks are still ongoing as of July 2014, actively targeting users in Europe and the Middle East.”
The attacks are just the latest in a long line of incidents that businesses need to be aware of as cyber attacks continue at an alarming rate.
In June the security firm Crowdstrike alerted the industry to Putter Panda, a cute-sounding but nasty piece of malware. That firm pointed an accusatory finger at China and charged it with espionage on the US and Europe.
Crowdstrike CEO George Kurtz said at the time, “China’s decade-long economic espionage campaign is massive and unrelenting. Through widespread espionage campaigns, Chinese threat actors are targeting companies and governments in every part of the globe.” Chinese authorities disputed this.
The report comes in the same week Hold Security reported uncovering a huge trove of 1.2 billion web passwords and login details that have been gathered by Russian cyber criminals.