Last week’s main tech story had to be the launch of YouTube Red, a subscription service currently available in the U.S. for $10 a month that has been dubbed as an ad-free version of YouTube. The name did raise a few eyebrows when launched, particularly because the name can be easily confused with RedTube, an internet streaming service well known for its pornographic videos. Google didn’t seem too bothered about the similarity in names and said “As we talked to users and fans in our studies, the term ‘red’ is often associated with YouTube. It has a lot of meaning in terms of love and the red carpet.” Even if that is the case, RedTube already has a very strong brand and there is no doubt YouTube Red will be associated with not so family friendly videos.
Last week we also read about a new encryption standard which might leave millions locked out of key sites, privacy concerns with Windows 10, Ballmer distributing some pearls about the tech industry and Bing is gaining ground on Google.
New encryption standard to leave millions behind, locked out of key sites
We are all used to suddenly seeing https// when we are on a secure web site. That approach is based on the SHA1 encryption standard which is getting long in the tooth and is set for retirement next year. Most of us won’t notice a thing – our desktop browsers are up to date and our smartphones modern – and both items already support the new SHA2 standard.
The problem is not all users are so lucky. In less developed parts of the world, old PCs and old cell phones rule, and these aren’t likely to work with SHA2. Once SHA1 is retired, leading websites will stop using it out of fear of it being cracked. Those who want to continue using it though will have little choice, as the certificate authorities will simply stop offering certs based on SHA1.
ZDnet reports that the move to SHA2 has already begun. Three quarters of today’s web sites support SHA2 already, softening the blow when there is the final cutover from SHA1.
Does Windows 10 know too much?
Those concerned about privacy issues are sounding the alarms about Windows 10 since it automatically gathers information about what you are doing and how the machine is operating. Sounds scary? At first glance, yes, it sure does. Microsoft says this data is used to make improvements on how the system works. For instance, the Cortana personal assistant has to know certain things such as what’s on your calendar and who you are in contact with if it going to be of much help.
Some tracking can be turned off but, so far, the automatic tracking of system performance and stability can’t.
Ballmer blasts Amazon and Apple
Ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer still has a few things to say about the tech industry he recently left. One of Steve’s biggest targets seems to be Amazon, which is currently under fire after a New York Times story shed light on the company’s poor working conditions. Ballmer agreed and revealed that Microsoft folks who made the move to Amazon quickly went running back to Microsoft.
The comments were made in a TV interview with Bloomberg news. “I think they are a place that people don’t want to work,” Ballmer said. “Anybody who ever left Microsoft to Amazon, we could count on them coming back within a year or two, because it’s not a great place to work to do innovative stuff as an engineer.”
Ballmer has never seemed all that impressed with Apple either, and still sees Microsoft as having a stronger story in computing. “Microsoft will give them a good run for their money. Nobody else has really tried to compete with them really seriously in hardware. If there’s going to be any competition at all for Apple it will come from Microsoft — and I believe in that,” he argued. The key here is Microsoft’s Surface, which successfully blended tablet and PC computing, a niche Apple continues to ignore by having separate devices.
So who does Steve like? It seems the answer is Facebook. “I think that Facebook is a really great company. You know they took a gem of an idea and then they’ve just continued to build it out. Super impressive company with a clear direction,” he said.
Microsoft Bing creeping up on Google, pulling in the cash
Many thought Microsoft Bing was a lame copycat attempt to go after Google’s search engine traffic. After years of losing billions, it seemed the critics were right. But Microsoft operates by its own rules, and in its latest financials, the company reported that Bing brought in a billion (USD) dollars.
So how did Bing succeed? Is it because it is such a great search engine? Bing is a darn good search engine but the real secret sauce is making Bing the default search in Microsoft-based PCs, tablets and phones. Microsoft struck a deal with Yahoo where Bing is now the search engine for most Yahoo users.
Even Apple supports Bing as it powers Siri. All that has given Bing a fifth of the total search market, which may not sound like much except it has helped drive Google down to around 64% — a big change indeed.