Tag Archives: Microsoft

Pentagon Watchdog Says White House Didn’t Influence Decision on JEDI



The Defense Department’s inspector general found that the White House “doesn’t appear to have influenced” the decision on which company to award the JEDI contract to, CNBC
reported. According to CNBC, the inspector general noted in the report that it had limited cooperation from White House officials throughout its review, and could not complete its assessment of allegations of ethical misconduct.

Bloomberg reported that the 317-page report issued by the DoD’s inspector general’s office found that giving the JEDI contract to a single company – Microsoft – rather than dividing it among competitors was “consistent with applicable acquisition standards.”

Bloomberg also said that the report stated that the White House had limited cooperation with the inquiry. According to Bloomberg, the inspector general said the assertion of a “presidential communications privilege” resulted in the Defense Department general counsel instructing officials “not to answer questions about potential communication between White House and DoD officials about JEDI.”

Here’s some background for those who haven’t been following along:

Microsoft was selected over Amazon for the JEDI contract in October of 2019. JEDI stands for “Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure”. The contract, from the Department of Defense, could be worth over $10 billion over a decade.

In November of 2019, Amazon filed a notice that it will formally protest the decision on JEDI.

In February of 2020, a spokesperson for Amazon Web Services told CNBC (to paraphrase) that Amazon felt the President should not be allowed to use the budget of the DoD “to pursue his own personal and political ends”. A few days later, a federal judge put a temporary block on the JEDI cloud contract.

In March of 2020, Amazon asked a federal court to require the Pentagon to broaden its scope of a reevaluation of its decision to award Microsoft the JEDI contract.

Overall, I don’t see how Amazon can come out ahead on this situation at this point. I’m also confused about why a company with so much money is concerned about a contract that could be worth over $10 billion dollars over a decade.


I’m on Windows 10 and I’m OK with that – for now



OK, for 5 years or so now I’ve been primarily using a Chromebook. I’ve been through three. It’s not that I didn’t have Windows around, the desktop in my office is Windows and the laptop was on my kitchen counter is Windows. I used it while cooking so I could keep an eye on messages, plus I have recipes in Evernote. 

Well, that kitchen laptop is currently my work machine. The keyboard on my Chromebook, an Asus C206, died. Literally no keys work. Yes, I’ve tried to fix it in many ways. I’ve declared it DOA. 

So that laptop that was on my kitchen counter is suddenly my work machine. It took me a day to get used to it. I’m used to an 11 inch and that keyboard size. This is 17 inches and my fingers were getting lost on the keyboard. However, by day 2 I was basically fine, I adjusted. 

I did have to turn off the touchpad, I use an external mouse so it isn’t necessary. Worse, my wrist brushed it while typing and deleted a whole story. In Chrome OS turning it off is as easy as Shift-Search-P. It’s a little harder in Windows, but it isn’t rocket science. 

I also remembered this is a touchscreen when I went to wipe a spot off the screen. I didn’t use this very much so I’d forgot. Things happened when I touched it to wipe the spot off. 

However, I’ve been scouring online and picked out a new Chromebook. So I’ll be heading back to one very soon, just need to place my order and wait for delivery. In the meantime, I’m OK on Windows 10. I know Windows well, it was just a matter of getting my fingers used to the bigger keyboard. 

So what are all of you using these days? Let us know. And stay healthy out there. 


Judge Temporarily Blocks Microsoft’s JEDI Contract



JEDI saga continues! A federal judge has ordered a temporary block on the JEDI cloud contract, which Microsoft was selected for (over Amazon) by the Department of Justice. The judge’s action was in response to a suit filed by Amazon.

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud computing contract is intended to modernize the Pentagon’s IT operations. It could be worth as much as $10 billion over a decade. Personally, I don’t think Microsoft or Amazon would be in a dire situation as a result of not getting the JEDI contract. But, here we are.

CNBC reported that in January of 2020, Amazon’s cloud computing arm, AWS, filed a formal motion asking the court to pause Microsoft’s work on the JEDI cloud contract. The court granted that motion today.

Earlier this week, Amazon said that it wants to question President Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and former Defense Secretary James Mattis over the JEDI contract. Amazon has stated that the evaluation process included “clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias.”

Personally, I feel like this is a spat between two incredibly rich corporations over a contract that they both want – but neither of them actually need in order to stay in business. I’m finding it hard to care about the outcome of this case.


Microsoft’s Project Scarlett is now Xbox Series X



In June of 2019, Microsoft introduced Project Scarlett. It was designed for players who want a console designed, built, and optimized for gaming. Project Scarlett is now called Xbox Series X. It will be available “holiday 2020”.

Xbox Series X will be our fastest, most powerful console ever and set a new bar for performance, speed, and compatibility, allowing you to bring your gaming legacy, thousands of games from three generations and move forward with you. Its industrial design enables us to deliver four times the processing power of Xbox One X in the most quiet and efficient way, something that is critically important in delivering truly immersive gameplay.

The Xbox Series X looks very different from previous versions. It was designed to support both vertical and horizontal orientation. To me, it looks like a PC when it is placed vertically.

In addition, Microsoft unveiled the new Xbox Wireless Controller. According to Microsoft, the controller’s size and shape have been refined to accommodate an even wider range of people. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but from the look of it, I assume the controller might be comfortable for people no matter how large or small their hands are.

The controller has a Share button to make capturing screenshots and game clips simple. The new Xbox Series X Wireless controller will be compatible with Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, and will be included in every Xbox Series X.


Microsoft to End Cortana Services in Some Countries



Cortana’s days are numbered. Microsoft announced that Cortana services will no longer be supported after January 31, 2020. This warning could give those who were using Cortana some time to find a different digital assistant. Here is the support note from Microsoft’s UK site:

To make your personal digital assistant as helpful as possible, we’re integrating Cortana into your Microsoft 365 productivity apps. As part of this evolution, on January 31, 2020, we’re ending support for the Cortana app on Android and iOS in your market. At that point, the Cortana content you created – such as reminders and lists – will no longer function in the Cortana mobile app or Microsoft Launcher, but can still be accessed through Cortana on Windows. Also, Cortana reminders, lists, and tasks are automatically synced to the Microsoft To Do app, which you can download to your phone for free.

Microsoft continued by stating that after January 31, 2020, the Cortana mobile app on your phone will no longer be supported and there will be an updated version of Microsoft Launcher with Cortana removed.

The Verge reported that Microsoft is “planning to kill off” its Cortana app for iOS and Android users in the UK, Canada, and Australia. The Verge also reported that Microsoft confirmed that the Cortana app will disappear in the UK, Australia, Germany, Mexico, China, Spain, Canada, and India on January 31, 2020.

It appears that Cortana users in the United States will still have access to the Cortana app, but it is not certain for how much longer after the end of January. Now is a good time for Cortana users decide if they want to start using the Microsoft To Do app, or if they need to start looking for another digital assistant.


Microsoft will Honor California’s Digital Privacy Law Across the U.S.



Microsoft announced that it is a strong supporter of California’s CCPA law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2020. Microsoft is going to extend the privacy protections in the CCPA to all Microsoft customers in the United States.

Under CCPA, companies must be transparent about data collection and use, and provide people with the option to prevent their personal information from being sold. Exactly what will be required under CCPA to accomplish these goals is still developing. Microsoft will continue to monitor those changes, and make the adjustments needed to provide effective transparency and control under CCPA to all people in the U.S. While many of our customers and users find that the data controls we already offer them through our GDPR commitment will be stronger than those rights offered by the new California law, we hope this step will show our commitment to supporting states as they enact laws that take us in the right direction.

Reuters reported that the California law is expected to harm profits over the long term for technology companies, retailers, advertising firms, and other businesses dependent on collecting consumer data to track users and increase sales.

According to Reuters, Microsoft products that collect data include its Cortana and Microsoft Edge browsers, Bing web search engine, Windows 10 system, Xbox and Skype.

Microsoft pointed out the “lack of action by the United States Congress to pass comprehensive privacy legislation”. The company noted that “in the absence of strong national legislation”, California’s law will be adhered to by Microsoft not only for people in California, but also Microsoft customers across the United States.


Microsoft Selected Over Amazon for Department of Defense Contract



Microsoft beat out Amazon for a Department of Defense contract that could be worth as much as $10 billion over a decade, CNBC reported.

The achievement highlights the emergence of Microsoft’s Azure cloud as a challenger to AWS and represents the latest victory for Satya Nadella, who took over from Steve Ballmer as Microsoft chief in 2014. Early on in the process, Amazon was seen as the favorite, partly because its AWS business won a deal with the CIA in 2013. In addition, Amazon had been certified at the highest existing security clearance level, while Microsoft sought to catch up.

The Department of Defense announced its contract with Microsoft on the U.S. Department of Defense website. Part of that announcement states:

Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, Washington, has been awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a ceiling value of $10,000,000,000 over a period of 10 years, if all options are exercised. The JEDI Cloud contract will provide enterprise level, commercial Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) to support Department of Defense business and mission operations.

JEDI stands for “Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure”. I find the name somewhat amusing, because it makes me think of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) – which critics referred to as “Star Wars”.

The New York Times reported that the contract has an outsized importance because it is central to the Pentagon’s efforts to modernize its technology. According to The New York Times, much of the military operates on 1980s and 1990s computer systems, and the Defense Department has spent billions of dollars trying to make them talk to one another.