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government

Microsoft remains on its path to protect its customers against the prying US government and now both Apple and Cisco have joined the cause. The companies, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Verizon and AT&T are attempting to prevent the US government from issuing search warrants to demand data not physically stored in the country. Apple and Cisco have filed a joint brief in protest against this practice.

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Chief Information Officer for Hampshire, Jos Creese, has stated in a recent interview that the UK government opts for Microsoft over open source alternatives because it's generally cheaper once costs have been calculated. Creese notes that the software giant has been flexible when it comes to deploying products and hardware to improve frontline services. Cost is not limited to just licensing fees.

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Microsoft, along with other companies have been in the news surrounding the US National Security Agency (NSA) and general privacy concerns that government agencies have easy access to customer data. Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs at Microsoft, recently published a blog post detailing now is the time for an international convention on government access to data.

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Many people have had their trust shaken by the United States National Security Agency’s involvement with top technology companies around the globe including Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and many more. To this day, many people still feel at least a bit of lost faith towards the aforementioned technology giants and any personal data that they may hold.

The paranoia can be seen in Microsoft’s release of the Xbox One and its Kinect accessory – there was a vocal, but visible, minority that screamed the Kinect could be used by the NSA for spying purposes. But recently, Microsoft has announced major plans to increase encryption techniques on their own internet traffic to keep users more secure.

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Do you trust Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8? If you are the Federal Republic of Germany, the answer to that question is "no". Last week internal documents from IT professionals within the government showed a strong rejection of the new operating system calling it "unacceptable for the federal administration and the operators of critical infrastructure".

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The Samsung Focus or ZTE Orbit?

The US Congressional Intelligence Committee has labeled Huawei and ZTE as security threat to the US and is advising firms to not do business with them. This follows after an 11-month investigation into both companies where their cooperation on certain matters was, according to the committee, sufficiently lacking.

The charges (at least for Huawei) go back a few years here in the US where they were accused of high-level espionage of Nortel, with some even alleging that their IP theft helped destroy the company (see the excellent CNBC documentary on it here).

Cisco and Motorola have also accused Huawei of either stealing IP or their own employees to gain knowledge of those companies. In addition, charges of bribery, corruption and discriminatory behavior have been alleged too.

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Brazilian Windows Phone owners have always complained about the lack of games (including Xbox Live titles) available for the platform, and rightly so. The Brazilian government has strict regulations that require video games (or any 'game') to be certified by its own ratings system, which has proven to heavily delay the release of said games to the Windows Phone Marketplace for owners in the region.

We previously looked at Microsoft adding a batch of 300 titles to increase available content on the Marketplace, but still numbers dwindled compared to other regions. Today, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice filed a statement that plans were in place for games to be certified by distribution companies themselves. 

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Our audience is smart enough to know that no electronic system of communication is impervious to eavesdropping and there’s very little out there that’s near 100% secure. So it should come as no surprise that Skype is getting some publicity of its internal network restructuring that started occurring once Microsoft acquired the company last year.

The charge: Microsoft is reconfiguring the Skype network so that it Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) can have access to intercept calls over the network to aid in investigations.

The reality is of course convoluted with no concrete evidence but it’s worth mentioning what exactly is going on here. So head past the break to get the scoop.

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One of the biggest changes to the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem is the installation of applications: you can only install them via the Marketplace and all programs need to be approved by Microsoft.

A lot of anger was directed against Microsoft for this decision, but we actually see why they would want to do this: consistency (security & performance) and a one-stop place to get software (simplicity). And at least unlike Apple, they promised to be much more transparent during the approval process.

Still, with so called no "side loading" of applications (only available to developers), some users are weary of going down the Apple route, even is Redmond is not as Puritan, well, except for 'suggestive' material.

Yesterday, the U.S. Government added new exemptions to the 'fair use' policy allowed by, the some would say draconian, Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Amongst these exemptions, the one gaining all the headlines relates to how it is basically now legal to 'jailbreak' your iPhone and install third-party programs. In response, details on how to install 'Cydia' (an unofficial iTunes app store) have been posted on tech-blogs, previously a verboten topic.

What does this mean for Windows Phone 7?

It is safe to assume that Microsoft will go ahead with their current Marketplace plans and to be honest, we're okay with that as we think for most consumers, it will be perfect. For one, it has try-before-you-buy built in, something that the Apple App Store lacks--this missing features does drive some to install Cydia or Installous (the later is even more verboten)--so the necessity to "get around" Microsoft will be attenuated. Second, Microsoft promises to be more transparent and less-restrictive than Apple-ergo less motivation for a 'unofficial' Marketplace.

But, it also means that Microsoft can not legally try and shut down alternative app stores for Windows Phone 7 (and still win in court), but they still can try to block those who try to install third-party software or use their code.

This seems to be  a big victory, in theory, for the open-source and modding crowd e.g. XDA, who presumably could release their own WP7 store. But really, a lot of this will depend on if Microsoft decides to play hardball with the 'fringe' developer community (Apple), embrace them (Android) or take the middle ground as they usually do i.e. don't condone it, but aren't being jerks about it either.

Needless to say, it'll be quite interesting to see how all of this plays out in a few months, but we may be looking at a much more interesting Windows Phone 7 future.

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