Former president of Windows Steven Sinofsky thinks Microsoft’s approach to convincing mobile users to get Outlook for iOS is simply “crazy”.
Sinofsky, who left Microsoft in 2012, this week was attempting to setup his Office 365 account on a new iPhone, but was informed via a generic email from his former employer that syncing email had been put on hold to give him a chance to install Microsoft’s recommended iOS email app – the popular Outlook app.
Sinofsky was given two choices: install Outlook now and syncing could proceed immediately; or do nothing and continue with the default iOS Mail app, in which case syncing would restart “within a few hours”.
“Microsoft is recommending that you install Outlook for iOS to access your Office 365 work account,” Microsoft’s email explains.
“We’ve temporarily paused the syncing of your email, calendar, and contacts to other apps on this device to give you a chance to get Outlook. Its integrated calendar and access to Office files and company contacts helps you connect and stay organized from a single app.
“You can choose to get the Outlook app or continue using the built-in apps on your device. If no action is taken within a few hours, your email, calendar, and contacts will automatically begin to sync.”
News of Microsoft’s Outlook campaign sparked a range of reactions on Twitter, including, to Sinofksy’s bemusement, people attempting to explain to him that “it is for my own security and benefit”.
Michael Gartenberg, a former senior Apple marketing director, saw it differently: “One way to gain marketshare. Keep your users hostage.”
“This stuff makes me angry,” wrote Sinofsky. “No one who likes customers would do something like this.”
Tech media veteran Walt Mossberg described Microsoft’s tactic as “Outrageous”.
SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)
Sinofsky’s run-in with the Outlook app came as Microsoft updated the app’s icon “to reflect how we bring email and calendar together with carefully crafted experiences that honor our Office heritage and welcome the future”.
The ex-Windows man, who now serves on the board of a venture-capital firm, noted: “No startup would do this. Unless it is a business social network.”
He added that the pause on syncing was likely a test at Microsoft and that he was “sure” Microsoft is using a dashboard to measure how well or poorly the tactic is working to boost Outlook installs, assuming that is Microsoft’s intent.
According to Sinofsky, the halted syncing process never resumed in a few hours as Microsoft claimed it would if he took no action. However, he was able to resume the process by removing the device from the Office 365 quarantine list, which is how Microsoft stopped the sync in the first place.
The Redmond company has a friendlier image these days, in part thanks to its embrace of Linux under CEO Satya Nadella, who has spent years convincing the world that Microsoft is not the embodiment of corporate evil.
Still, the company from time to time engages in hostile marketing tactics to achieve its goals, such as the infamous ‘Get Windows 10’ app in the early days of Windows 10.
Microsoft said when users connect their phone for the first time to an Office 365 work account using the native iOS or Android email app, they may see a message encouraging them to download the Outlook app, depending on their organization’s admin-controlled settings.
“We have been testing this message for over two years, beginning with Outlook.com, with the goal of creating awareness as we believe users get the best email experience when using the Outlook app,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.
Microsoft added that if users are not interested, they can simply click the ‘Continue using this email app’ option. If users take no action, their email will continue to sync to their current app.
“No one who likes customers would do something like this,” according to former Windows boss Steven Sinofsky.
Image: Steven Sinofsky/Twitter
Previous and related coverage
Windows 10 graphics: Intel warns, patch 19 severe driver flaws now
Update Intel Windows graphics drivers, and stop using Intel Matrix Storage Manager and USB 3.0 Creator Utility.
Windows 10 users: We’re killing OneDrive Groove Music streaming, says Microsoft
Microsoft continues to retire components of Groove Music with no more streaming OneDrive music from March 31.
Microsoft security chief: IE is not a browser, so stop using it as your default
Internet Explorer is a ‘compatibility solution’ and should only be used selectively, warns Microsoft exec.
Microsoft: Windows 10 can now automatically uninstall buggy updates
Along with blocks on releasing Windows 10 to certain users, Microsoft will now remove updates that aren’t compatible with the installed version of Windows 10.
Microsoft: To ensure Windows 10 update quality, these are the tools we use
Microsoft offers Windows 10 users a look at how they use data to improve the quality of Windows 10 updates.
How to manage your notifications in Windows 10 TechRepublic
Here’s how to control notifications in Windows so they don’t control you.
This is not your father’s Microsoft CNET
CEO Satya Nadella knew the culture at the world’s largest software maker needed a fix. Employees and investors are sold. Now he’s got to convince the rest of us.
Cymulate snaps up $70M to help cybersecurity teams stress test their networks with attack simulations – TechCrunch
The cost of cybercrime has been growing at an alarming rate of 15% per year, projected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. To cope with the challenges that this poses, organizations are turning to a growing range of AI-powered tools to supplement their existing security software and the work of their security teams. Today, a startup called Cymulate — which has built a platform to help those teams automatically and continuously stress test their networks against potential attacks with simulations, and provide guidance on how to improve their systems to ward off real attacks — is announcing a significant round of growth funding after seeing strong demand for its tools.
The startup — founded in Tel Aviv, with a second base in New York — has raised $70 million, a Series D that it will be using to continue expanding globally and investing in expanding its technology (both organically and potentially through acquisitions).
Today, Cymulate’s platform covers both on-premise and cloud networks, providing breach and attack simulations for endpoints, email and web gateways and more; automated “red teaming”; and a “purple teaming” facility to create and launch different security breach scenarios for organizations that lack the resources to dedicate people to a live red team — in all, a “holistic” solution for companies looking to make sure they are getting the most out of the network security architecture that they already have in place, in the worlds of Eyal Wachsman, Cymulate’s CEO.
“We are providing our customers with a different approach for how to do cybersecurity and get insights [on] all the products already implemented in a network,” he said in an interview. The resulting platform has found particular traction in the current market climate. Although companies continue to invest in their security architecture, security teams are also feeling the market squeeze, which is impacting IT budgets, and sometimes headcount in an industry that was already facing a shortage of expertise. (Cymulate cites figures from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology that estimate a shortfall of 2.72 million security professionals in the workforce globally.)
The idea with Cymulate is that it’s built something that helps organizations get the most out of what they already have. “And at the end, we provide our customers the ability to prioritize where they need to invest, in terms of closing gaps in their environment,” Wachsman said.
The round is being led by One Peak, with Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE), Vertex Ventures Israel, Vertex Growth and strategic backer Dell Technologies Capital also participating. (All five also backed Cymulate in its $45 million Series C last year.) Relatively speaking, this is a big round for Cymulate, doubling its total raised to $141 million, and while the startup is not disclosing its valuation, I understand from sources that it is around the $500 million mark.
Wachsman noted that the funding is coming on the heels of a big year for the startup (the irony being that the constantly escalating issue of cybersecurity and growing threat landscape spells good news for companies built to combat that). Revenues have doubled, although it’s not disclosing any numbers today, and the company is now at over 200 employees and works with some 500 paying customers across the enterprise and mid-market, including NTT, Telit, and Euronext, up from 300 customers a year ago.
Wachsman, who co-founded the company with Avihai Ben-Yossef and Eyal Gruner, said he first thought of the idea of building a platform to continuously test an organization’s threat posture in 2016, after years of working in cybersecurity consulting for other companies. He found that no matter how much effort his customers and outside consultants put into architecting security solutions annually or semi-annually, those gains were potentially lost each time a malicious hacker made an unexpected move.
“If the bad guys decided to penetrate the organization, they could, so we needed to find a different approach,” he said. He looked to AI and machine learning for the solution, a complement to everything already in the organization, to build “a machine that allows you to test your security controls and security posture, continuously and on demand, and to get the results immediately… one step before the hackers.”
Last year, Wachsman described Cymulate’s approach to me as “the largest cybersecurity consulting firm without consultants,” but in reality the company does have its own large in-house team of cybersecurity researchers, white-hat hackers who are trying to find new holes — new bugs, zero days and other vulnerabilities — to develop the intelligence that powers Cymulate’s platform.
These insights are then combined with other assets, for example the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a knowledge base of threats, tactics and techniques used by a number of other cybersecurity services, including others building continuous validation services that compete with Cymulate. (Competitors include the likes of FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, Randori, AttackIQ and many more.)
Cymulate’s work comes in the form of network maps that detail a company’s threat profile, with technical recommendations for remediation and mitigations, as well as an executive summary that can be presented to financial teams and management who might be auditing security spend. It also has built tools for running security checks when integrating any services or IT with third parties, for instance in the event of an M&A process or when working in a supply chain.
Today the company focuses on network security, which is big enough in itself but also leaves the door open for Cymulate to acquire companies in other areas like application security — or to build that for itself. “This is something on our roadmap,” said Wachsman.
If potential M&A leads to more fundraising for Cymulate, it helps that the startup is in one of the handful of categories that are going to continue to see a lot of attention from investors.
“Cybersecurity is clearly an area that we think will benefit from the current macroeconomic environment, versus maybe some of the more capital-intensive businesses like consumer internet or food delivery,” said David Klein, a managing partner at One Peak. Within that, he added, “The best companies [are those] that are mission critical for their customers… Those will continue to attract very good multiples.”
Open-source password manager Bitwarden raises $100M – TechCrunch
Bitwarden, an open-source password manager for enterprises and consumers, has raised $100 million in a round of funding led by PSG, with participation form Battery Ventures.
Founded initially back in 2015, Santa Barbara, California-based Bitwarden operates in a space that includes well-known incumbents including 1Password, which recently hit a $6.8 billion valuation off the back of a $620 million fundraise, and Lastpass, which was recently spun out as an independent company again two years after landing in the hands of private equity firms.
In a nutshell, Bitwarden and its ilk make it easier for people to generate secure passwords automatically, and store all their unique passwords and sensitive information such as credit card data in a secure digital vault, saving them from reusing the same insecure password across all their online accounts.
Bitwarden’s big differentiator, of course, lies in the fact that it’s built atop an open-source codebase, which for super security-conscious individuals and businesses is a good thing — they can fully inspect the inner-workings of the platform. Moreover, people can contribute back to the codebase and expedite development of new features.
On top of a basic free service, Bitwarden ships a bunch of paid-for premium features and services, including advanced enterprise features like single sign-on (SSO) integrations and identity management.
It’s worth noting that today’s “minority growth investment” represents Bitwarden’s first substantial external funding in its seven year history, though we’re told that it did raise a small undisclosed series A round back in 2019. Its latest cash injection is indicative of how the world has changed in the intervening years. The rise of remote work, with people increasingly meshing personal and work accounts on the same devices, means the same password is used across different services. And such poor password and credential hygiene puts businesses at great risk.
Additionally, growing competition and investments in the management space means that Bitwarden can’t rest on its laurels — it needs to expand, and that is what its funds will be used for. Indeed, Bitwarden has confirmed plans to extend its offering into several aligned security and privacy verticals, including secrets management — something that 1Password expanded into last year via its SecretHub acquisition.
“The timing of the investment is ideal, as we expand into opportunities in developer secrets, passwordless technologies, and authentication,” Bitwarden CEO Michael Crandell noted in a press release. “Most importantly, we aim to continue to serve all Bitwarden users for the long haul.”
downgrade the ‘middle-men’ resellers – TechCrunch
As well as the traditional carbon offset resellers and exchanges such as Climate Partner or Climate Impact X the tech space has also produced a few, including Patch (US-based, raised $26.5M) and Lune (UK-based, raised $4M).
Now, Ceezer, a B2B marketplace for carbon credits, has closed a €4.2M round, led by Carbon Removal Partners with participation of impact-VC Norrsken VC and with existing investor Picus Capital.
Ceezer ’s pitch is that companies have to deal with a lot of complexity when considering how they address carbon removal and reduction associated with their businesses. Whie they can buy offsetting credits, the market remains pretty ‘wild-west’, and has multiple competing standards running in parallel. For instance, the price range of $5 to $500 per ton is clearly all over the place, and sometimes carbon offset resellers make buyers pay high prices for low-quality carbon credits, pulling in extra revenues from a very opaque market.
The startup’s offering is for corporates to integrate both carbon removal and avoidance credits in one package. It does this by mining the offsetting market for lots of data points, enabling carbon offset sellers to reach buyers without having to use these middle-men resellers.
The startup claims that sellers no longer waste time and money on bespoke contracts with corporates but instead use Ceezer’s legal framework for all transactions. Simultaneously, buyers can access credits at a primary market level, maximizing the effect of the dollars they spend on carbon offsets.
Ceezer says it now has over 50 corporate customers and has 200,000 tons of carbon credits to sell across a variety of categories. and will use the funds to expand its impact and sourcing team, the idea being to make carbon removal technologies more accessible to corporate buyers, plus widen the product offering for credit sellers and buyers.
Here’s How To Lock Chrome’s Incognito Mode Tabs With Your Fingerprint On iPhone
Shikhar/SlashGear Millions of internet users worldwide use Chrome’s Incognito mode to hide and protect their web activity. Google mentions on...
Lost and found: Codebreakers decipher 50+ letters of Mary, Queen of Scots
Enlarge / Sample ciphertext (F38) found in the archives of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, now attributed to Mary, Queen...
Can You Use An Xbox Controller On Nintendo Switch?
It’s worth noting that some of the Xbox controller’s functions do not work on Switch, nor are many of the...
How To Change Your Username On Instagram In 2023
If you want to change your Instagram handle, it's easy to do, and we'll show you how, and also let...
2024 BMW X5 And X6 Show Why Electrification Really Matters
BMW Automakers are pushing, now more than ever, to electrify their lineups. Whether through plug-in hybrids that can go a...
Social10 months ago
Web.com website builder review
Social3 years ago
CrashPlan for Small Business Review
Gadgets4 years ago
A fictional Facebook Portal videochat with Mark Zuckerberg – TechCrunch
Cars4 years ago
What’s the best cloud storage for you?
Social4 years ago
iPhone XS priciest yet in South Korea
Mobile4 years ago
Memory raises $5M to bring AI to time tracking – TechCrunch
Security4 years ago
Google latest cloud to be Australian government certified
Social4 years ago
Apple’s new iPad Pro aims to keep enterprise momentum