Microsoft Monday: Machine Learning For Antivirus Software, Cloudyn Acquisition, Timeline Delayed – Forbes

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Microsoft Monday is a weekly column that focuses on updates in regards to the Redmond giant. This week, Microsoft Monday includes details about machine learning being used to enhance antivirus software, the acquisition of Cloudyn, a major cloud partnership with Box, the Timeline feature being delayed, free Xbox Live Gold games for this month, AI on the Raspberry Pi 3 and much more!

Microsoft Is Creating Smart Antivirus Software Using Machine Learning From Over 400 Million Computers

Microsoft is designing its antivirus software using machine learning from over 400 million computers running on Windows 10. With the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft will utilize data from Azure, Office and Endpoint to quickly determine malware behavior. And this upgrade will be integrated into the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection.

So Microsoft will be able to develop a signature for malware anytime it is detected on any computer running on Windows 10. And the first time the malware appears, the virus will likely end up in a virtual sandbox on the cloud rather than a person’s device. “If we’re going to stay on top of anything that is changing that fast, you have to automate,” said Windows Enterprise and Security director of program management Rob Lefferts via CNET. And this is important because 96% of detected cyber attacks are brand new.

How Windows 10 Will Protect Your Files From Ransomware

Some of the worst cases of ransomware that spread this year included WannaCry and Petya.

To alleviate ransomware issues in the future, Microsoft is adding a controlled folder access feature in the Fall Creators Update — which will only allow specific apps to access, read and write to a folder. And if you enable the feature, then it will prevent apps from accessing your desktop, documents folder, photos and movies.

“Controlled folder access monitors the changes that apps make to files in certain protected folders,” said Microsoft Windows Insiders head Dona Sarkar via The Verge. “If an app attempts to make a change to these files, and the app is blacklisted by the feature, you’ll get a notification about the attempt.”

Microsoft Acquires Cloud Monitoring Company Cloudyn

Microsoft has confirmed that it has acquired Cloudyn, a cloud monitoring software-as-a-service company. The value of the deal is reportedly between $50 and $70 million, according to TechCrunch.

Cloudyn offers cloud monitoring solutions and analytics based on performance and cost for hybrid cloud deployments. Cloudyn’s services work with cloud providers like Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, and Openstack.

Cloudyn also built a customized offering for Microsoft Azure Cloud Solution Providers earlier this year. This service allows partners to manage subscriptions, analyze consumption and monitor deployments.

“This acquisition fits squarely into our commitment to empower customers with the tools they need to govern their cloud adoption and realize the strategic benefits of a global, trusted, intelligent cloud. Cloudyn gives enterprise customers tools to identify, measure and analyze consumption, enable accountability and forecast future cloud spending,” said Microsoft in a blog post. “As a Microsoft partner, Cloudyn has supported cost management for Microsoft Azure and other public clouds, helping customers continuously improve their cloud efficiency. Cloudyn customers have been able to optimize their cloud services usage and costs through automated monitoring, analytics and cost allocation. Since working with Cloudyn, one U.S.-based Fortune 500 customer has seen a 286 percent return on investment (ROI) with regard to their cloud efficiencies, demonstrating Cloudyn’s ability to help customers accelerate their cloud adoption. Cloudyn capabilities will be incorporated into our product portfolio that offers customers the industry’s broadest set of cloud management, security and governance solutions.”

Xbox One X To Be “Smart” When It Comes To Downloading 4K Content

One of the best Xbox One X features is native 4K gaming support. Fortunately, Microsoft confirmed that only the necessary assets for the 4K gaming experience will be downloaded to the console.

“With the launch of Xbox One X, when it comes to game content our intention is to download the correct assets to the correct console,” said a Microsoft representative in an interview with Stevivor. “This means, regardless of the TV you are playing on, 4K assets will be downloaded to Xbox One X (if available) and the standard 1080p assets will be downloaded to an Xbox One S.”

The Xbox One X is expected to be released on November 7th. The retail price of the Xbox One X will be $499 with 1TB storage.

Older Versions Of Skype Have A Major Vulnerability

According to researchers at Infosec, there is a major vulnerability in the older versions of Skype on Windows. Essentially, the vulnerability allows hackers to inject malicious code into Windows machines running on older versions of Skype.

“The issue can be exploited remotely via session or by local interaction. The problem is located in the print clipboard format & cache transmit via remote session on Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10. In Skype v7.37 the vulnerability is patched,” said Vulnerability Laboratory representatives in a report via The Register UK.

Fortunately, this bug is not an issue on the latest version of Skype. Microsoft fixed the problem in version 7.37. But Skype versions 7.2, 7.35 and 7.36 are vulnerable.

Microsoft and Box Sign A Major Cloud Partnership

Last week, Box announced it has signed Microsoft Azure as a strategic cloud partner. Through the partnership, Box and Microsoft will be selling “Box on Azure” to customers. This is actually an extension of an existing partnership between the two companies.

The partnership will also “enable future integration between Azure’s artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities with Box’s cloud content management platform.” Box with Azure will facilitate the sales of Box’s cloud content management platform and Box Governance for business customers that store Box content on Azure.

And through the partnership, Box will potentially integrate Azure’s Cognitive Services to enhance Box’s cloud content management solution. This could power advanced content processing technologies such as video indexing, which depends on natural language processing to generate metadata and run advanced searches.

Box’s existing partnership with Microsoft includes the integration of its cloud storage services with Office 365. Interestingly, Box also competes against Microsoft’s OneDrive services.

Free Xbox Games For Live Gold Members In July

Microsoft provides free games every month to Xbox Live Gold subscribers. According to Forbes contributor Erik Kain, Grow Up and Runbow will be available for free on the Xbox One this month. And Xbox 360 users will be able to download Kane & Lynch 2 and LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game.

Grow Up (normally retails for $9.99) is an open platform game where you control a robot named BUD. Runbow (normally retails for $14.99) is a platform racing game where players compete to be the first to reach trophy at the end of each level. Kane & Lynch 2 (normally retails for $14.99) is an intense third person shooter where players control criminals as they fight to escape gangs in Shanghai. And LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game (normally retails for $19.99) is a split-screen co-op where players solve a number of puzzles while controlling characters from the movie.

Microsoft Launches Sports Performance Platform To Help Players Improve

Microsoft recently announced the Sports Performance Platform, which is an analytics platform for helping teams and players improve. It utilizes machine learning to track and predict player performance. This is beneficial for coaches in making actionable insights. The Sports Performance Platform could also potentially figure out when a player is at risk of injuries based on recent performance.

“Built on Power BI, Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Surface devices, Sports Performance Platform helps athletes and teams close that gap by giving them access to advances in cloud computing, data aggregation, machine learning and predictive analytics. Combined, these solutions can transform how they play based on new data-driven decisions made on the sidelines, in the locker room and in the sports performance lab,” said Jeff Hansen, the General Manager of Microsoft Brand Studio.

The Seattle Reign FC and Real Sociedad teams are already utilizing the Sports Performance Platform. And Microsoft will continue onboarding the platform to other teams in the near future. Currently, the Sports Performance Platform is in experiment mode.

Scammers Pretending To Be Microsoft Officials Have Been Arrested

A couple of years ago, Microsoft started working with the City of London Police to investigate scammers claiming that they were representatives at Microsoft. The scammers cold-called people and demanded money to fix their computers.

Four people in the UK were arrested last week on suspicion of fraud in connection with the scam. City of London Police said that losses from ripped off consumers may add up to hundreds of millions of pounds globally.

“These arrests are just the beginning of our work, making the best use of specialist skills and expertise from Microsoft, local police forces and international partners to tackle a crime that often targets the most vulnerable in our society,” said City of London Police and National Coordinator for Economic Crime Commander Dave Clark.

Microsoft’s Plan To Bring AI To The Raspberry Pi

Last week, Microsoft published a blog post about how its head of Machine Learning and Optimization at the research lab in Redmond, Washington Ofer Dekel trained a computer-vision model for detecting squirrels in his flower garden. What made this story remarkable is that the code was deployed onto the low-cost single-board computer: the Raspberry Pi 3.

Dekel is working with a team of 30 computer scientists, software engineers and researchers in Redmond and Bangalore, India to develop machine learning software and tools to embed AI onto tiny sized computer processors. And that software can be downloaded from GitHub.

Microsoft Is Delaying The Windows 10 Timeline Feature

Back in May, Microsoft unveiled a new feature for Windows 10 called Timeline. The Timeline feature was expected to be integrated into the upcoming Fall Creators Update.

What is Timeline? The Timeline feature would allow users to pick up where they left off when switching between devices, including Android and iOS. Unfortunately, the Timeline feature has been delayed.

“Timeline won’t be in the Fall Creators Update,” said Microsoft’s Corporate VP in the Operating Systems Group via The Verge. “We’re planning for it to be in early insider builds shortly after Fall Creators Update is out.”

Microsoft Monday includes seven days worth of updates from the Redmond-based software giant. What are your thoughts about the “Microsoft Monday” news from this week? Please leave a comment!


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