February, 2012

  • Microsoft Testifies on U.S. Senate Cybersecurity Legislation

    Posted by Paul Nicholas
    Senior Director, Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft

    Last week, Scott Charney testified at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. The hearing was about the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which is Congress’s first comprehensive legislation aimed at improving cybersecurity across the United States. His full testimony is available here.

    This legislation is an important milestone in the U.S. Congress’ sustained engagement on the topic of cybersecurity and an advancement in the national discussion on how to better secure the information infrastructure of the United States. These legislative proposals provide a risk-based framework intended to improve the security of government and certain critical infrastructure systems and establish an appropriate baseline to address current threats.

    Scott’s testimony began with a brief discussion of the transformative effect of the Internet, as well as the challenges facing policymakers.

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  • White House Announcement Sets Course for Privacy

    Posted by Fred Humphries
    Vice President, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft

    Consumer trust is vital to the growth of a vibrant Internet, and respect for privacy – putting people first – is essential to earning and maintaining that trust. Today’s release by the White House of their framework signifies an important milestone in the evolution of privacy interests of Americans and individuals around the world. 

    The Administration’s policy promotes an environment of transparency and meaningful privacy choices. Further, we are hopeful that the policy’s establishment of a robust stakeholder dialogue will lead to more specific solutions and help overcome challenges faster. We support the Administration in this effort.

    Microsoft views today’s announcement as essential to a comprehensive approach to privacy that includes federal privacy legislation, technology tools for consumers, effective self-regulation, and all stakeholders working together on initiatives to improve privacy practices.

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  • Google: Please Don’t Kill Video on the Web

    Posted by Dave Heiner
    Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Corporate Standards & Antitrust Group, Microsoft

    Earlier today, Microsoft filed a formal competition law complaint with the European Commission (EC) against Motorola Mobility and Google. We have taken this step because Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products. Their offense? These products enable people to view videos on the Web and to connect wirelessly to the Internet using industry standards.

    You probably take for granted that you can view videos on your smartphone, tablet, PC, or DVD/Blu-ray player and connect to the Internet without being tied to a cable. That works because the industry came together years ago to define common technical standards that every firm can use to build compatible products for video and Wi-Fi. Motorola and all the other firms that contributed to these standards also made a promise to one another: that if they had any patents essential to the standards, they would make their patents available on fair and reasonable terms, and would not use them to block competitors from shipping their products.

    Motorola has broken its promise. Motorola is on a path to use standard essential patents to kill video on the Web, and Google as its new owner doesn’t seem to be willing to change course.

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  • Accountability in Action: Microsoft’s Privacy Program

    Posted by Brendon Lynch
    Chief Privacy Officer, Microsoft

    Accountability has been a globally recognized principle of privacy and data protection for more than three decades. But in the past few years, an important effort has been under way to clearly delineate what accountability—and the related concept of responsibility—means for organizations that collect, store and process information.

    To help advance this critical conversation, today we are publishing an accountability-based analysis of Microsoft’s privacy program. We are releasing the paper to coincide with meetings at the European Parliament in Brussels this week of The Accountability Project co-hosted by the Centre for Information Policy Leadership and the European Data Protection Supervisor as part of a global Accountability Project.

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  • Microsoft Voices Support for International Mother Language Day

    Posted by Lauren Woodman
    General Manager, Partners in Learning, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft

    Today is UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day, and as we celebrate language diversity, we have a chance to reflect on the role Microsoft plays in the preservation of language and culture.

    Our goal for more than 30 years has been to bring technology into the hands of more citizens around the world. However, with 7 billion people in the world speaking countless various languages, bringing technology to all their homes is a challenge, but one that Microsoft’s Local Language Program is working hard to surmount.

    The Local Language Program focuses on developing and tailoring Microsoft products to grant minority language speakers similar access to technology as someone speaking a mainstream language. Consider Spain, a country with more than 47 million citizens and five languages. Seventy-four percent of the population speaks Castilian Spanish, but 26 percent speak Valencian, Basque, Catalan or Galician. In a modern world ripe with technology, these precious languages – symbols of culture and heritage – could be lost forever.

    World Map Showing Continents Final


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  • How Trustworthy Computing Enhanced Accessibility at Microsoft

    Posted by Rob Sinclair
    Chief Accessibility Officer, Microsoft

    In January 2002, Bill Gates sent a memo launching Trustworthy Computing (TwC) and calling upon Microsoft and the industry to prioritize security and privacy as part of software design. As a program manager on the Accessibility team at the time, I observed that a similar approach for accessibility, when taken during the design phase, had a dramatic effect on the quality of the user experience for people with disabilities. The TwC memo inspired the Accessibility team to explore how to better integrate into Microsoft’s software development lifecycle. In 2008, the accessibility team was moved into TwC to join their peers in security and privacy, and began developing a centralized engagement model for accessibility.

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  • Unlicensed TV Band Spectrum: Creating a Nimble Framework for Our Economic Future

    Posted by Dan Reed
    Corporate Vice President, Technology Policy Group, Microsoft

    All of us have experienced the “spectrum crunch” when using our wireless devices. Dropped voice calls and slow data transfers are symptoms. The crunch is a consequence of both rising demand and spectrum management techniques and wireless radio technologies dating back almost one hundred years. We can’t manufacture more spectrum – it’s a finite natural resource – but we can manage it more nimbly and share it more efficiently than we have in the past, stimulating economic growth, business innovation and increased competition.

    Unlicensed use of the TV band spectrum can help to achieve this reality. It will enable “super Wi-Fi,” spur rapid innovation, increase the bandwidth available to consumers, expand mobile data offload opportunities, increase hot spot coverage, and ensure greater broadband connectivity, especially in rural communities.

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  • Investing in Patent Quality

    Posted by Horacio Gutierrez
    Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    Earlier this week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office released information on its Proposed Patent Fee Schedule. In announcing the Proposed Fee Schedule, Director David Kappos noted that the key principles of the proposed fee schedule are to ensure a more sustainable funding model for the USPTO, and to reduce the backlog of unexamined patent applications and decrease patent application pendency. The USPTO is holding public hearings later this month and inviting feedback and public input on the proposed fee schedule to guide it in making adjustments. A final proposed fee schedule is anticipated in June 2012, which will open a 60-day public comment period to submit written input directly to the Office.

    Microsoft strongly supports the ongoing efforts of the USPTO to improve patent examination quality, and enhance the efficiency and operations of the Office.



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  • Microsoft’s Support for Industry Standards

    Posted by Dave Heiner
    Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Corporate Standards Group & Antitrust Group, Microsoft

    Earlier today, Microsoft posted a statement concerning our commitment to industry standards. The statement sets forth Microsoft’s long-standing approach to patents that are essential to industry standards: we license them to other firms. We don’t seek to block other firms from shipping products on the basis of these patents. Our approach is shared by Apple, Cisco and many others in the industry.

    Why are “standards essential patents” so important to the industry and to consumers?

    You may not realize it, but anytime you use the Internet, your cell phone or a computer, you are benefitting from international technical standards. Watching a video? You’re probably using a standard called H.264. Connected to a wireless network? You’re using another standard called 802.11. These and other standards enable a wide variety of devices and websites to work well with one another. In fact, the whole Internet is built on standards like these.

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  • How Pink Flamingos Helped Microsoft Employees Raise $100 million for Nonprofits

    Editor’s Note: This post by Brad Smith, Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft, originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

    If you had visited one of Microsoft’s locations in the United States during October you might have found an employee’s office filled with pink flamingos. For a small sum donated to a nonprofit of their choice — and matched by Microsoft — an employee can have their co-worker’s office “flocked” with plastic pink flamingos. It’s one of hundreds of creative fundraising activities that make up our employee giving campaign at Microsoft. The 2011 campaign was our largest year of employee giving since the program began in 1983, with $100.5 million donated and matched for community organizations and nonprofits.

    It should be no surprise that a company founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen has a deep culture of employee giving. Even so, we continue to be thrilled by the new records being set by Microsoft employees in giving their time, energy and resources; it never ceases to amaze me. The $100.5 million donated by Microsoft employees in the United States with corporate matching is an increase over the $96 million raised in 2010. Since 1983, our employees have now donated more than $946 million to community organizations around the globe.

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  • Get Connected with Family & Friends on Safer Internet Day

    Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
    Director, Trustworthy Computing Communications, Microsoft

    Each February, the world recognizes Safer Internet Day (SID), an event dedicated to promoting responsible use of the Internet and mobile technology, particularly among youth. Organized by Brussels-based Insafe and co-founded by the European Union, Feb. 7 marks the ninth installment of SID. This year’s theme, "Connecting Generations and Educating Each Other,” once again finds Microsoft playing an active role.

    The company was part of the first SID, and has been a long-standing advocate ever since, particularly in Europe. Last year, the Trustworthy Computing (TwC) Group expanded Microsoft's involvement in North America by hosting three online gaming-related events in as many U.S. cities, keeping with SID's 2011 theme. This year, we're building on that success, and partnering with AARP.

    Microsoft and AARP today released results of their first-ever "Connecting Generations" research study focused on technology and Internet use among teens (13-17), young adults (18-25), parents (39-58) and older adults (59-75).

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  • Microsoft's Brad Smith Talks STEM Education with NASA, White House Jobs Council

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    This morning, Brad Smith, Executive Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs at Microsoft, joined NASA Administrator Charles Bolden (pictured here) and other Seattle-area business leaders in a forum organized by the Business Higher Education Forum (BHEF).

    They participated in a panel to examine some of the ways in which the public and private sectors can collaborate across all levels of education to align curricula with high demand jobs, particularly those in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

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  • Connecting the Generations Safely

    Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Jody Holtzman, Senior Vice President of AARP Thought Leadership. The post is focused on a new nationwide survey that examines the growth of social networking and online communication among people of all ages.

    Working together, AARP and Microsoft are exploring how technology is changing society for the aging population. In 2009, the two organizations looked at the unique relationship baby boomers have to technology and how those 78 million older Americans are actively shaping the devices, software and services of tomorrow by the choices they are making today.

    We saw then that Boomers are connected, online, and comfortable with technology. Boomers like me have been using computers in the workplace since the eighties. Looking forward, this means that there will be a diminishing technology divide based on age, and usage and comfort will be ubiquitous - provided the tech industry produces products and services that are intuitive, not laden with features all designed with multiple tiny black buttons that only the eyes of a 20-something engineer could love.



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